Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Growth

When I am fresh
they smile, set up a special table
in the big house
and tell me that
what I want has priority.

Then I notice that my freshness fades
and cracks appear in the smiles.
I try to deny it but some of my wishes are ignored.

Then they cancel meetings
and I'm asked to move downstairs to the common room.
I'll get my due with the others.

Then I end up in a scramble
for the eye of the master
who doesn't have time for all of us.
I will get what I can catch.

Then I am asked to wait
for the leavings of my betters.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Female Neighbors

You have generated terror
in my chimerical heart
since I was small.

You seemed so far away,
brushing by me in a
different direction,

being the judge
as if assigned by some kind of court
evaluating my suitabilities.

Your flesh did not seem
substantial. I wondered
what you were made of.

I only knew there was
a human being there
when I found you,

you were my friend,
and you grabbed my hand
in the muscle of your palm.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Concrete Man

I try to just
be beautiful
and politics comes out.

My breathing holds
patterns of beautiful
in sighs and exhales,

but these just translate
into explanations. I am
addicted to theory.

I can't be beautiful
but yearn to,
envy you who are.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Over Man

I envy his clean
blue eyes. I come
from the South of the world,
the slothful place. My muddy
eyes say "gypsy."

He lives in the country
and wears his shirts
with long sleeves buttoned
around his wrists. One can
never criticize his neatness.

He has a natural wave of hair
over his high forehead which signals
care, seriousness, importance, the
treatment given to those who never
suffer insults.

I can rarely focus
into eyes so pure. I only
catch a glimpse of
flashes from the wings of angels.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Participation in the Growth of My Dream

I see myself doing it
and know that it is true.
I have teeth organelles with minds of their own.
If I bite, even at my own hand
no matter how hard I try
I won't be able to make them let go.
On my dream screen there is an image of my kitchen
with its trash can and its recycling bin, the sink,
the old yellow floor. And I say to my dream self,
"what would happen if I came in and the trash can
and recycling bin were stolen?"
"Let's try it."
So on my dream screen the image changes.
I enter the scene of my dream and exclaim
"My god, who has crept in here and stolen our things."
It feels like the beginning of something terrible.
A grip of the unknown creeps
over me in real time as I sleep, a
clench of the supernatural, like a dread
of unearthly things, like I'm being pursued
by something cold like a big black s-biter.
I enter the kitchen many times over the following dream days
(actually the seconds it takes to think them).
The reappearence of the trash cans never assures me.
My unease worsens until one dream day on the floor is lying
a great black thing--looking shapeless at first
like the shadow of a sleeping dog sprawled on many legs.
When I get close the black thing says it's been waiting for me
and this scares me so I have to wake up,
to escape my own fantasies.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

To Professors Flemming, Lavine, and Cline

Highnesses and Majesties,
as my memories stir
I begin to thank you
and consider how I refused your gifts.

You may remember. You're like:
looking at me from far away
and down from your homes
of freedom and grandeur.

It's like:
you want me to join you
and you offer me a path.

I'm like:
afraid to follow it.
piggishly covered with earth,
shrinking from your open hand,
knowing you would have scrubbed me up.

I'm like:
remembering how you looked at me
when you heard about my choices.

They're like:
all doubts that
seal it in a flash.

I'm like:
picking up hunks
of life, grey and flat against the ground.
instead of great
with books and music
on soft chairs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Woman Who Looks Like Gertrude Schmeidler*

Petite and old and earnest,
I see her whole self
human being creature,
limited in space
by foot and head,
small, precisely worn clothing.

But her face,
larger than her body,
has writing on it that
makes my knees shake.


*my mentor at City College of New York
(I could never determine her size)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Watching Movies in the Evening

New events of love
will still happen
even as the old learning
crumbles into wordlessness
and the car turns into the driveway
of the old house for us to climb out.

There will be new heights of love
even at the last hour when the years
summate and nothing matters.
Events will make new forms of tears.
It won't happen dully. There will be
plenty we won't have
the leisure to explore.

Nineteen-Fifty-Four

Curtains are around the legs,
curtains around the earthly delights.
It's very measured and there are still
seriously worn uniforms.

With hush hush elegance
everyone dresses the part,
avoids the secret words
but is soon educated to
know what they are,

and know enough
in silence and whisper
to make it well.

inspired by the movie, "Vera Drake."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Aftermath of Katrina

They are like stuffed things
when we see them
on their bellies and backs,
unmade beds in chaotic backstairs bedrooms,
guts of barren houses
on nameless streets,
cities far away.

We remain clinical, examine shells
that don't quite cover our reaction
to unkempt lives,
smell of unfamiliar habits.

Only lying beside them
can bring them to life.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Reading about the Lives of Saints

returns me
to my old idea,
to simplify my choices,
live alone, unfound
in a crack of the Earth,

knowing how unoccupied minds
find doors to
infinitesimal rooms
and time is measured
in heartbeats.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Memory as Hologram

The past is a story
told by someone else.

My life is a string
of the present.

Sometimes I have
the tools of speech and hand.

Sometimes I wander through the present
listening and watching like a ghost.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Corridor

He has to wake up
by six in his memory
to a warm breakfast.
There will be
an hour in the cold
waiting for the full
heat of dawn before
he can arrive amid the
false friends and pretensions
of the day.

Now there isn't much
he has to do and the
sentiment of swimming in a
sea of ambition and fellowship
has dulled. The hallway
is a long journey.
Tiny step followed by
pause to catch breath
follows tiny step.
He clings to the walking aid.
And when I look into his face
as I pass him, all I can see
is patience.