jeudi 21 mai 2015

Of Monsters and Men in PDX tonight


"Because nothing grows when it is dark ..."

lundi 11 mai 2015

The Loneliness of the Bilingual Poet



I cannot justify
why a single poem
speaks to me in
one language over another
but it does
choosing the flat American narrative
against the metaphysical French wave
a story of shock and awe
or those philosophical ponderings


All I know is when I'm done
the words sit on a fence like
crows against a landscape
until they heckle and jeckle me
into reading them aloud
and I read them as they are writ
in that godforsaken foreign language
droning on and on and on and on
until the whole room is numb


Then try to sweep it back to life
with rapid-fire translation
but it always fails because
there is none
and my heart is hit
with that hollow dart
and I again become
the dreaded stranger
of my endlessly lonely youth

mercredi 15 avril 2015

Sestina



Once upon me I was not afraid
when the sky opened her wings
and swallowed the seabirds
and I went tumbling in that great mouth
with birds, clouds and minions of the wind
all of us flailing together as one

I counted myself as one
who of nothing was afraid
no matter the storms that came rushing on the wind
and assailed the heart's sweet span of wings
regardless I would open my mouth
and speak the truth of the seabirds

And yet dear as they are those seabirds
inclining and declining like a swoop of one
it was chaos that formed in that sky's dark mouth
and in chaos how can one not be afraid
frantically fluttering one's broken wings
and losing the battle against that wind

Oh she howled that vicious wind
and tore the feathers of the seabirds
from their delicate and salt-laden wings
as down they fell one by one
too much in despair to be afraid
whilst fire exhaled from the demon's mouth

And from my own demented mouth
I cried out unto that cruel wind
Of you, devil, I will not be afraid
although my heart beats like the seabirds
for with them I shall rise as one
on God's great protective wings

And then to shelter under those wings
and in his truth-filled mouth
all innocents may sit as one
and look into the sea's harsh wind
to fish again with the diving seabirds
never to be hungry or afraid”

My prayer on wings I send with the wind
and I sing with the mouth of the seabirds
One love, one life, never afraid

jeudi 19 février 2015

Sea Pine


I can't see it
but I can smell it
drifting on the wind
pine sap and dark brown honey
all wood perfume like deep forest
striking my yellow jacket heart
autumnal like dying leaves 
or those helicopter seeds
yet this is not leaves or seeds
but Mediterranean ambrosia.
In front of infinite turquoise
roaring with siren song
I'm searching every branch
marching miles of seawall
gypsy parks and empty tavernas
my eyes desperate to find it
to know its form, name its name
bottle it and take it home
as a memento of this moment
of my great love for Greece
to wear it on my pulse points
and grieve for years
what will never be mine again
what was always transient and ephemeral
like the scent of sea pine in November.

mardi 17 février 2015

Black Sun--Death Cab for Cutie

"There is grace within forgiveness
But it's so hard for me to find ..."


lundi 16 février 2015

I Used to Stay Alive for You, Now I Stay Alive for Me

All those years on a couch
in constant pain
often barely able to raise up
and make it to the bathroom
I thought about how
you'd never understand
if I had to leave my body
that vertiginous entity over which
I had no control except to kill 
but could not because
I didn't want to leave you
with any doubts about
how much I loved you
or how much you loved me
so I fought for 16 years
although it seemed unbelievable
that God or anyone else
could leave me like that...

So I lived for you all those years
because it seemed I owed you that
since it was no longer my mind
that was the weak link
but my body...

Now that I am well
and you will not speak to me
blaming me for the things
that were out of my hands
during your childhood
when doctors fed me antipsychotics
antidepressants and neuroleptics
and told me that my own
brain chemistry was at fault 
that I would never be well
without those toxic cocktails
and how could I know better
I who was grieving more
than you will ever comprehend?
If they had only asked me
"What are you grieving for?"
I might have told them...

Now that I am living for myself
and celebrating a new life
standing on my own two feet
and recovering from all forms
of addiction and codependency
I am proud of myself
and I am happy.

mardi 13 janvier 2015

Miami, Miami, 1974

for Luis Cataldo

If I ran into you
after all these years
If I ran like I ran
then, running now
from your goodness
I was too young
to know what was
good for me
the way your eyes
sparkled when you
talked to me
the way you held me
when we slept
the way you loved sex
the way you came home
from your cooking job
just to make me
Puerto Rican ink and rice
the way you made me laugh
the way you avoided cockroaches
the way you played the sax
I understood none of it at 17
I was just sad and angry
I wanted to hide in the dark
and eat Sara Lee cheesecake
I could barely talk
It was my first psychosis
You even moved the furniture
when I said you could stay
but only in half the apartment
and after you set it all up
the way I wanted
the couch as a barrier
I told you to get out
to just get out
and you left
taking your music and your smiles
to another homeland

I met your daughter
yesterday on facebook
She is a lovely girl and talented
She told me you have six children
two who still live with you in Zion
and blessings upon you
you are still blowing that sax
playing backup to her vocals
ever supportive, ever sweet
a lover for all seasons
a man you would be proud
to have known


Miss Florida, Delta Burke, 1974:






jeudi 8 janvier 2015

Je suis Charlie



Je suis Charlie, toujours Charlie, je vivrai toujours.



 


mercredi 24 décembre 2014

Letter to Santa


Dear Santa, where have you been all my life? I have a picture of you with my little brother Paul when he was two years old, then four. He was so adorable, blond hair with straight-across bangs, lips pursed tightly together. I even named my own son after him. My brother is now a captain for Southwest Airlines. Perhaps he'll fly over Alaska again and put out fires...

Santa, if you live, will you deliver my brother and my sons home to me for Christmas? I've got a fire burning in the heartland of my heart, I've got tons of love and forgiveness and goodwill towards men and women, I've got poems galore to welcome in the New Year. Now all I need are my two Pauls, a Joseph, and the pitter-patter of little hooflets on my rooftop and the year will be complete.

Oh dear Santa, I got my two front teeth in Greece, I got a little studio in Gresham, Oregon last December, I've got many friends. But, oh Santa, can't you bring back my family? I'm praying, I'm hoping, I'm full of fatalistic hope. I can't help myself: it's all I've got left.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. xoxoxooxox

mardi 4 novembre 2014

Fée


"Midsummer Eve" by Edward Robert Hughes

If I follow her light
will I find myself in a forest
birch and brattle
fern and folly?

She turns quickly in the air
shining her smile on me
then disappears
in a wisp of willow.

Does she beckon or taunt
letting me know
she is uncatchable?

Ay ay ay!
I chase like Diana
after the wild deer.

She is something
to be desired but
never possessed.

samedi 25 octobre 2014

Untitled

(a draft from a few years ago...)

zoot anon
i'm caught between then and now
and not an arthritic knuckle
but real angst and repression

seeds of revolution

true enough
i'm selfish
i'm a shellfish allergic to myself
decidedly blanched and strung out

petrified artifact

café noir
i can't wake up
my eyelids are strung with
cat gut and threads of lilac

ritual abuse

tonight the moon
and then mars and venus
the brilliant orbs remind me
how far i am from you

pornographic magazine

if i could speak
i'd scream
i'd read all the names i call you
when you are not around

sniffing bloodhounds

i'd be revealed
among fiery demons
and all your sacred vows
would not count anymore

absolve yourself

i'd drown
in your open hands
i'd flounder like salmon
when they reach bonneville dam

forgetting goodness

lundi 20 octobre 2014

Nothing Is True Fantasy


I didn't wake up this morning. The sky remained a deep black hole in my consciousness, taking into itself all the matter at hand and out of hand. The moon rose and set, moving through its phases in a fit of broken rem sleep... I jerked from left to right, sat up, went rigid, fell out bed, slept on the floor, walked to the bathroom, peed in my sleep.



Though what struck me was the lack of birdsong... where did they go, those early morning harbingers, calling light from darkness? Then again, where did the morning go, tumbling down a hill, out of control, head over toe over and over: morning, not morning, full, half, quarter. Nothing was relevant, nothing was certain.



Time was warped and speeded up, and all the creatures great and small couldn't hold on. I was sending them on a dream voyage, on an electric ship, far away from the known and the half-known, from grand theories to the waking life where dream and reality intermix and produce orphan children. There was one of every age of me in the layers of time, every second of my life bumping up against another... I felt like Stanley Kubrick and Keir Dullea, making a psychedelic movie.



At the center of it all, an exploding sun, the great and final flare, an eclipsed God and a universal law. Everything must end. I didn't wake up this morning, and neither did you.

lundi 6 octobre 2014

Last Laugh


Octobre
Mille neuf cent quatre-vingt sept
je ne savais rien
auparavant ou encore


Je me suis mariée
avec un oeuf
dur à cuire
qui m'a promis la lune

Il m'a dit
"Je veux une famille
Laisse-moi t'aider
avec toutes tes tâches"

Et je me suis fondue
le blanc avec le jaune
J'avais besoin d'assistance
avec mes deux enfants

Alors il a prit
sa bicyclette et conduit
jusqu'à la montagne
et il est rentré plat

Et tout son argent
(et le mien aussi)
est gaspillé pour des discus
dans un bel aquarium

Ils sont tous mort un jour
quand il a mélangé les eaux
avec un grand cuillère
en bois

Aujourd'hui je peux rire
mais à cet époque
j'ai craqué dans une chambre
d'un hôpital mental

Ah la vie est comédie
rira bien qui rira le dernier
Ah la vie est absurdité
mais je veux survivre

lundi 8 septembre 2014

Moineau's September Song

snowy cheer
hot toddies
white white hope
with bells pealing
an exchange of gifts
with St Nicholas
it's all cheap tyranny--

green buds
so what
then orange blossoms
a maypole
for the peasant
girls and boys
let them have it--

beauty queens on
red beaches
burning in the sun
jellyfish mob the shoreline
just give me an espresso
a big shady oak
and leave me alone--

but in September
en septembre
to septemvrios
when I have to dig deep
under the cover of
new darkness
under the changing colors

when everything
is dying
when everything
has given up and
given in
to rain and worms
and the end of poems

when the mistral
whips through Provence
and drives the locals
mad with sound
when olives ripen and rot
and birds scatter
in great wave patterns

there you will find me
unearthing my heart
resurrecting my great body
and then flying
starting over
one more time
ad infinitum



mardi 26 août 2014

lonely with, lonely without

if only you were here
i would pull you inside me
as easily as a breath
and then i would exhale

jasmine descends
from the vines overhead
late in the summer
it is overly pungent

i watch i soferina
and fall in love with
aliki vougiouglaki
how silly of me 

lonely with you
lonely without you
what i thought i had
was an illusion

as i sleep you are
passing through the
streets of lamia
searching for almonds

when i wake it will be 
your turn to dream
crossing the threshold
of unfulfilled desire

 

mardi 12 août 2014

jeudi 7 août 2014

Wormwood


10,000 lightyears later
and I'm still sucked down into
the wormhole of your hatred.
I will not grab that silver thread
winding from the exalted place
you claim to be your birthright:
Your narrative doesn't wash
and the food you eat is poison.

mardi 5 août 2014

Calling Margaret

Just before dawn on August 4, 2014, a cool breeze blew through the house. It brushed across the sheets, ruffled your hair, but did not wake you. It spoke into your ear, calling your name: "Margaret, Margaret, God loves you."

You smiled in your sleep; the fear you felt the day before subsided and your face relaxed. Yes you loved them, all of them, with the kind of love that only saints know, unconditional, infinite. That love would never die.

A door opened up in the corner of the room, as you big as you needed. You blew a kiss to your family, to all humanity, and ascended. In the morning, they found your body but you were gone.



mardi 29 juillet 2014

The Echoes

Frank Howell - New Mexico Echo


With even one glance
at the Ecstatic,
we swear we will do anything,
anything at all
to keep it.
In that moment,
we do not lie:
The Ecstatic projects itself forward
like an echo,
and all we see before us is
the Ecstatic, the Ecstatic, the Ecstatic,
the Most Beautiful,
the Most Compassionate,
Beyond Joy and Sadness,
Supreme Peace,
Absolute Consciousness.
Yet like every echo,
this one fades too
from our failing eyes,
our distracted ears,
our feeble, fickle hearts,
and though we've pledged all actions,
we cannot deliver:
No one can sustain that vision
and not go insane,
and thus are we left with the echoes,
with our humanness.

mardi 15 juillet 2014

"I'm flying!"

Pieter Pauwel Rubens: The Fall of Icarus

Long fall into this poem
I've been slipping and sliding so long
it feels like home
Dignity is no longer an option
No I must laugh at myself
flailing my arms alongside Daedalus
then light up like the sun
and sparkle like the final flourish
on a Hammond B3
Ta-da-da-da-da-dah!
Here I come, darling
Fall or fly with me in this 
free-for-all of love

samedi 12 juillet 2014

I'll fight you with my mind

I don't have a muscle left
to fight you with
so I'll fight you with
my mind:
I'll renounce your
sweet nothings
in deference to
logical arguments
and though you already
think you've won
because you had a
superior education
corresponding skull size
and an ancient cave dwelling
from the younger Dryas
I've butted heads
with the best poets
and have loved them
amidst the rubble of
battered futures
I couldn't invest
but I've slept with them
and it was worth it

When the market crashed
I hitchhiked across an ocean
thinking I had escaped
but it was a mistake:
The market had not crashed
volcanic winter had not started
and flowers were still growing
out of American garbage
I returned and planted
seeds of self-love
and though I had
plenty of doubt
I chose to believe in myself
something you could not
do or give me
not a house above ground
In spite of your superior knowledge
in spite of your charts and graphs
and the vast undeniable
romance of Hellas
I had to come back
turn my back on everything
and begin again

I will have to remind myself
a thousand times before I'm done
I will have to exercise
my muscle mind
even as the jasmine blooms
even as the winter comes
even as the sun rises ...


Daphne by Hubert von Herkomer

dimanche 6 juillet 2014

The End of Everything

Frederic Leighton: The Fisherman and the Siren

I left my glasses
on a bench
next to the Mediterranean:
I haven't been able
to see anything since.
I was blinded by
orange blooms,
blazing turquoise,
white morning light
breaking on mountains,
village songs,
Macedonian dances,
and your hands
all over my body.
I will never recover;
I will never see again.
My heart is a broken drum
on a broken sea floor,
the spoils of an internal war
and the end of everything.

Never give yourself away
to the Mediterranean.
Never do it.
Afterward, nothing else exists.



vendredi 27 juin 2014

Dans le jardin


Toujours ces clés d'antiquité
Les pleurs viennent
on ne peut pas les empêcher
Les reines fières
souriantes en masques d'albâtre
leurs robes longues, les cheveux serrés
Mais leurs filles sont nues
chassées, emportées, violées
par les dieux et les fils de dieux 
en formes d'animaux


let it go

the broken places in me
move in and out of french,
icelandic, greek and italian
sometimes it's better
not to know the language
but how my curious mind
wants to know, wants to relive
wants the pain to wash over
it never cleanses, never relieves
just replenishes
it the curse of memory
the human gift
and it's viscious

samedi 14 juin 2014

Hospital Visit

originally written in June, 2009

he's asleep in the

northwest corner of the room
we knock softly, calling out
his name... nothing but silence
there's one old man in pyjamas
sleeping soundly, the third
bed is empty, it is neatly made
with hospital corners, i wonder
about the man that was in it

we said 6, it is 7:30
we enter tentatively, not wanting
to take him by surprise and
round the drawn white curtain
he's sitting up on piled-up pillows
i notice his hair is all gray, what
remains of it after the treatments
it looks soft and thin, and i see that
he's lost weight since last week

he wakes, opening his right
eye––the left is paralyzed––and
he's surprised to see us, "oh, hi,"
and then, "they're trying a new pill"
"what kind?" i ask. "chemo..."
the first thing he does is
bring out fading pictures from the
50s, there's a photo of him at
thirteen, round and handsome
i go to the desk and ask for a xerox

we bring out the book we
bought on the story of the
coast guard, and figure out
where we last left off
we joke about the coastie motto:
"you have to go out but you
don't have to come back"
and then read about katrina

he sinks back into his
pillows, nodding out to the
monotony of my voice

jeudi 12 juin 2014

Family Habit

Our family always
did it like that
you know
hit the road
as soon as we
were old enough
We were running away
from generations of pain
perhaps at one point
outwardly caused
by some Bolshevik or Nazi
but eventually it was
self-induced
with alcohol and cigarettes
sex and escapism

I always thought
I'd be the one
to break the habit
with my own children
Two sons whom I adored
and stayed close to
but I found myself in a bed
unable to get up one day
crushed with mental illness
and as hard as I tried
I couldn't rise up
My brain was running away
as it had been indoctrinated

So there it was
the family trait
and I can never again 
look at things as simple
uncomplicated
or self-explanatory
No history is like that
It's nuanced and colored
with myriad bubbles
that break the surface
of the smooth, the perfect
the undaunted

vendredi 16 mai 2014

Rioting over Punctiglio


Punctilio - Joe Mazza

She wanted to break the rules
rearrange the living room
put a big crack
in the neurotic mirror
of her mother's house beautiful

She wanted dust to accrue
and love to accumulate
to dance naked with Isadora Duncan
to die flaming with Sarah Bernhardt
never to be afraid of anything or anyone

She wanted pancakes for supper
a yard full of honeysuckle
life in another language
and who the hell cared if it was perfect
perfect what was perfect what was perfect

was perfect
was perfect
was always perfect
what was not
was punctiglio

jeudi 8 mai 2014

Forgive


FJ Bertuch (1747–1822)

I first had to save my body
and now I'm working on saving my soul
Two years ago I packed my poetry into a box
a few pictures of my sons
some books, my favorite film
and I ran away from sixteen years
of pain and illness
I hurt a lot of people in the process
the man I'd lived with for twenty years
my children, my mother
Even today, none of them understand it
They've forgotten about my suffering
and I realize now they never grasped it
If I had stayed, I would still be on
seven medications, counting the infernal days
waiting to die, in constant pain
But I saved my life
rose from the ashes
flew to Greece
threw the bag of meds in the trash
swam in the healing waters of Thermopyles
and tried to forgive myself

samedi 19 avril 2014

The Lost Shawl



Fancy Shawl Dancer by Donald Brewer

for Vince Wannassay
 
I brought it to your house
when Richard left
this seed of an idea I called
“shawl on a shawl”
Even if my Sioux warrior
abandoned me in the depth
of my love for him
Even if he drank himself
a thousand times under the table
I would take our child, our Joey
and I would dance the circle dance
with other Human Beings
I would create a shawl
and wrap myself up in it proudly
and round and round I'd go
beating my feet into the dirt
to the singing of the drum
at Warm Springs 

Vincent, you were his best friend
and you and Dee became mine after he left
helping me apply the shawl dancer
with thread and felt to the shawl
a “shawl on a shawl” I called her
One day I returned to find
you had sewn and knotted
the fringe all around the edges
a gift for me in my grief and madness
You gave my son Paul a light blue
fancy dancing costume
He broke all the feathers
and I felt terrible
but I never felt worse than when
the “shawl on a shawl” got thrown away 

I was working at the tv station
on the day my new husband
moved us into our new house
I told him, just throw the garbage out
any crap we aren't using
I didn't foresee how literally he would take it
and the “shawl on a shawl”
wound up in the St. John's dump
among my bead collection, my loom
and my algebra books
I'm lucky I didn't lose my poetry that day
I'm lucky I didn't go insane 

I wound up in a mental hospital
a month after that
when I realized I had married
someone I didn't love
that I was still in love with Richard