As I Live and Breathe



Your name is the first word 
I write each day, 
though not in black on white.
No, it’s the clear blank-page
morning air upon which 
I sigh in deep blue desire.
Your name is the final word 
of my daily opus before
my eyes close in sleepy
punctuation. I’ve written 
thousands of such pages 
over the years, 
tossing hundreds away, 
sharing too many, 
keeping some hidden 
beneath my pillow.
And nobody knew but me, 
and few would care unless
they perused them through
your eyes. I know you’d prefer 
not to see your name sighed 
between the lines upon 
the morning air or evening breeze. 
But a man’s got to breathe.

Suite: Voices of the Angels

It long ago came to the point
where I’m no fun anymore.
But it was I who made it hard.
I am no one’s, you are yours.
This does not mean I don’t love you,
I do. That’s for always.

I’ve always kept your secrets,
even after you revealed them.
Friday evening, Tuesday morning,
it doesn’t matter. Asking me,
say you’re now so free,
you’ve changed my life,
not necessarily making it right,
turning my pegs, tuning my heart
to something resembling
nothing but E’s, except for
that one string inside you left alone.
And so I’ll always B here,
for when you’re willing to listen.

You are what you are, so
don’t let the past remind us
of what we are not now.
It’s my heart that’s suffering,
it’s a-dying (help me, I’m suffering)
That’s what I have to lose.
What have you got to lose?
Are you still listening
to my lacy lilting lyrics?
Well then…losing love, lamenting,
I am sorry.

On this 51st anniversary of the opening of the Woodstock “Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” I was moved to see what I could find of my memories of Aug. 15-19, 1969 and its aftermath. This found poem came first, a lyrical collage of genius held together with homemade glue, with deepest apologies to Stephen Stills and Judy Collins. And you….

Broken Bottles and The Only Other

They say with words he always had a way.
Actually, it was crooked and potholed.
Sparkly, like broken bottles, you might say,
but roadside of his smooth talk soon got old.

There were a few who enjoyed his sharp tongue,
but misjudged him as a one-trick pony.
Cold steel fear, not brass, forged the sword he swung,
leaving this knight’s nights sleepless and lonely.

One judged him not for words but for his heart,
he loved her and she him since he met her.
One loved his art, but their hearts stayed apart,
her own crooked path led her to know better.

And so, on this road he’s nearing the end,
hand in hand with his love, not another.
But often he recalls his musing friend —
not the only one, but his only Other.

Like A Picture Drawn In Lavender

The fields of lavender stretch like bolts of corduroy from where we bask in summer sunlight. Their perfume wafts sweet and intoxicating, when we need not their breath, for she knows we must be living in a dream.

A breeze combs the wales this way and that. They dance like rows of tiny willows, swaying to the tunes of that aeolian flute rising from the sea, that brilliant mirror of the sun’s face. Does she know it can never be my face?

“Where are you?” she asks, as if my thoughts are always somewhere else. But I’ll be with her all day. “The light is perfect. Do you wish to draw me? Shall I disrobe?”

Within these purple fronds I’m sure she cannot see my smile. Neither is it lecherous nor amused. She’s not some whore like in the village tavern, nor is she some silly child. She is earnest, yearning, waiting for me to memorialize her today. Some instrument of recollection for when she is old and alone.

Then the tear forms at the corner of her eye, as realization crosses her mind like a cloud.

She’s recalls I’m heir to the darkness, yang to shining yin of this Provence light. I can record my chiaroscuro impressions of her, but they’re fleeting. I’m leaving, evening drawing me in its charcoal-covered hands, drawing me as a stick man of two-dimensions, drawing me longer and narrower as I near my vanishing point out there beyond these fields of lavender.

 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Love

Write what you know, all the experts say.
But my level of knowledge, let alone understanding,
of the subject at hand is about as low as
one can feel when you don’t feel any love.
Those fancy lovers (and lovers of letters)
who believe they know all the ins and outs
of that “o” and “e”, all the angles of
that “L” and “V,” only know what they know.
Ya know?

Me? What I know of love could best be described,
though I’d never deign to proclaim “defined,”
as a mushy melange of obsession, possession,
with a strong dash of protection, chased by a swig
of rejection stirred with a sprig of depression.
And yet I write all these poems in which you
feel we are sharing a sense of that thing
I’ve never understood, but maybe felt once
or twice. I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to you,
my Love.

On Day 21 of the April Poem-a-Day promenade, I’ve been charged with writing a “love” poem or an “anti-love” poem. So be it. Here they are, all in one piece.

Love In the Time of Corona

So…what if this time it’s really the end?
The time to say adios, good-bye, adieu.
If it is, then what better time to send
one more poem, my friend, to say thank you?

Isn’t it strange how many questions I ask
when it wasn’t answers I really needed?
See? Now there’s two more I add to the task
of figuring you out. Never succeeded.

You whispered at me so many secrets,
then pushed me away when I’d lean too close.
Now, I’ve caught so many of your regrets,
and never knew why it was me you chose.

So here’s the end. Not too close, should I sneeze.
Never mind, we were always each other’s disease.

Sorry for the extra beat at the end. Sometimes such things don’t have a suitable explanation. They just have to be. Let’s just hope it’s like an extra heartbeat. Be well, stay vigilant, and know I’m always thinking of you as we each wait out whatever lies ahead. 

Entangling Lines

Oh, how I wish that
you wouldn’t appear
whenever I try
to write something here
where you don’t belong,
and, in fact, bring fear.

Here you are again,
sitting there right now
inspiring these words,
and a grateful bow.
I’d ask you to go,
but I don’t know how.

I know you don’t want
being catch of the day
whenever I cast
for something to say.
But your lure’s too strong
to keep me away.

And that’s the problem.
Boy, don’t I know it!
As a fisherman
I always blow it,
I’ll cast out my line
yet you catch the poet.

I’m used to it now;
I think you are, too.
And so, once again
I’ll give you your due.
As good as I am,
I’m lost without you.

How Do I Say It?

How do I say it,
when words won’t come?
My brain teeters in paralysis,
ready to topple again.
My tongue, always cocked and loaded
with some glib ammunition,
suddenly is a rusted and
dusty artifact, a relic of days
when you would fire me off
just to hear me bang.
How do I say it?
People mouth those words
all the time. It’s simple,
just like ordering coffee
used to be. But I wouldn’t know
an Americano from a Macchiato,
just as I wouldn’t know
Love from Obsession.
How do I say it?
How did I?
Did I?
How?
Oh…

Table for One ~ A Rondeau

Table for one, that’s what I get
Since we no longer talk, and yet
I’m not alone like other men
Might be in bar, cafe or den,
Since here you see the place I’ve set.

That’s no surprise to you I’ll bet,
Knowing how I would sit and fret,
Even at this lonely, this Zen
Table for one.

Sure, there have been others I’ve met,
whom places in my life I let.
But only you are with me when
My obsession cries through this pen.
Two ink stains we’ll leave at this wet
Table for one.

Just An Opened Eye Away

The fantasy always
exceeded the reality,
until the reality
brought so much pain.
It is an inevitability
in my existence that joy
is more often make-believe,
a wish, a what-if,
while suffering is real,
even if only imagined.
What is fantasy if not
the yearn, the ache,
for that which we wish
to feel, if only
to make the pain stop?
You know this, though,
since you’ve been the fantasy,
you’ve brought the pain,
you’ve dreamed the joy,
yet came to learn as I did
that anguish was always
just an opened eye away.

Back to the métier – dreams and hope, loss and pain.