Sunday, December 30, 2007

Psychologie de l’univers

The universe is a psychopath on which we fleas
Are hitching a ride – had you thought of that, smarty? -
Lees in the bottle that do not please,
Result of the impurposive wrath
Of nothingness, that other arty psychopath,
Violent, mindless, heartless, soulless, with the endless
Cunning of chance (as it were, as it can’t, as it hasn’t
Even a peanut of brain to guide it,
However superbly apposite its beautifully timed
Kneading us
To lusty handfuls and fardels born
Of dust
Before, or after, the battle
You cannot hope to, though you’ll forever hope to
However you saint,
Sly, cheat,
Or sin,
You’re beat,
Or I ain’t

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hangover: A Sonnet

The savage dance wasn't what we imagined
and the ancient warnings didn't make us free.
A smell of gas fed the sorry engine,
for better or worse, of the end of history.
Presidents came and went, dictators fell,
countries gagged on markets and grew fat,
or consumed their children in war and fire. All
churned and revolved around fear and desire. Yet
we tried to be wise, in a drunken world,
though only drunkenness seemed the appropriate way
to fit and flounder together. Both young and old,
we saluted the night even as it broke to day,
and, startled, looked at each other, disheveled, sweaty,
like gamblers putting down their final bets.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Fierce Thanks

It was easy for you to sneer at God,
despise the weak gifts of the earth, disdain your life,
and weigh your reward in scales of empty hands:
what was harder was to pull out of the scrod
the lump of jewel the fire licked to ashes
futilely, out of mud and time
the sentient act of grace, electric water
resolved in standing bone and meat, the fire
of mind consorting with the shifting sun
and the strobing universe of dark and light
in our accident of nerves and waking dream
we call our lives: to thank the dreadfulness
and reigning chaos for its munificence,
faithful that it, like us, can know and see
and even feel out of the dark that whirled
you into vagabond being, between flies and comets.
The Ghost Fleet of Suisun Bay

Huddled like chicks on a cold morning
under the feet of the sun:
boxes of wet vacuum
squeezing into squares of shadow
under a sky smiling like a blank check:
defeated, humiliated, aging,
corpse-leaning, froglike
with dragon flies on their tongues,
pancaked into seclusion
and hypocritical nightmares
of security – like so many of us!
Mothballed veterans of the subprime,
warlike vacuities of dehiscence,
wrecks that avoided pitfalls
onto mud bank or reef
only to wallow in safety
like houseboats moored in a swamp,
they missed the grand detour
into battle, cyclone, Captain Death Wish,
the screaming myth and the headline,
they safely decline to mortality,
blankly shocked at their own squalor,
their prudent declension to death:
squawking behind cocktail napkins,
the perverse once witness of flocks
of frothing crows and trash gulls,
limping between the Farallons
like gimpy whales:
tucked into the seasonal bay
like a gaggle of otiose and obsolete senior citizens,
wintering for decades,
they rust and pollute and decompose and flower,
giving their discharges
like sick babies,
rotting under their nanny, the grinning sun.
The train passes them hourly, the commuters yawn,
peck at their laptops, flip through their newspapers, yawn,
check out their email, text message, dither, yawn,
glance at the ghost fleet, blink, shrug, squirm, yawn,
between the morning launch and the wreck of evening.
Nothing Like

There is nothing like growing old
to feel the tightness of the light
swaddling you like a baby, and the air
breathing in your face from the compass winds
pointing always elsewhere, and the slick
mud at your feet, in your hands, on your backside
sledding you down the backyard hill of home
in the spring thaws, coldly comforting, and the fire
that licks at the edge of the letters in your hands
from almost forgotten lovers – the smoke tartens
and bitters your nostrils with memories you would swear
were only hallucinations most of the time –
but no such luck: the fire warms the air
and dries the mud to dust that clouds the light
until the burning letters burn your hands
and you drop their frail and delicate, curling ashes
to your boots and watch they fly off like black moths.
A Bird in the Slums

Every morning for years you woke to a bird
cat’s cradling a song outside your window
in the slum building you lived in: strange word
sounding against city cement as from a country hedgerow.
Its song welcomed each day to you, you
to each day; a random, serendipitous gift,
a peculiar gift, like those of light and snow,
of wind and dew and warmth and rain, as if
the generous randomness of life itself
had settled, unseen (you never saw the bird),
outside your window, calling you awake,
calling you alive, out of the dark,
before the dawn, a witness of itself,
the flesh clothing its song as it spoke its word.