Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Black and White Work


My Art: The Clown

 
The Clown
(Work Print c. 1962 Final Print Approximately 30x60)


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FOR FRIEND, DYING

This morning is 9/10ths regret,
For a man I know is dying of cancer,
His cells doing what his mind
Should do –  the mathematics of life,
With quiet efficiency. Nurses will soon set
Their watches by him, but find
Minutes & hours sadly lacking.
Their fingers are 10 slender needles.
 
This day has suns only he can see,
A man now so frail he casts no shadows.
Many lives away, his friends wait,
Who visualize his model-like gait
Sloping side to side under the windows
Of light he cannot see, his  humor
Sitting shyly on the integral-laden air.
His pulse is yesterday’s flowers.

If this man’s soul had cells,
Would they have fallen, broken
With such lethal joy? I have tried
To find an answer, but the doctors tell
Me nothing – his sodden arteries
Float from room to room, place to place.
I leave him through the back door, but the grass
Is so sharp, it is painful to step down.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

GOING TO THE RIVER

1.
If you take
A short-cut
The river
Will never see you,
Go the long way,
The long way,
Go the long way
Around.
 2.
Thursday I
Strut out my bones,
Knee-deep
In wet grass,
Knee-bone
Connected to my head-bone,
Head-bone
Connected to the river.
Connections.
A multitude of connections.
 3.
A moth flares
Her skin in the dust,
Flicks its tongue,
Drags his colors
Across the shore.
At this distance
Who can be sure
Of sex, that such creatures
Have any bones at all,
A snake, a moth.
A man has bones,
He tells you so,
Yet his shadow
Bends without breaking,
Glides without flying,
Folds without tearing.
I break myself apart
& put myself together,
Strutting through
The high grass,
Going to the river.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peevish


Today was mediocre at best. It began with a call from my editor reminding of deadlines. I thought it odd as my contract has but one deadline: Finished First Draft. That one's months away. I pointed that out and politely hung up.
My new physician told me my blood pressure is high, but we chalked it up to personal issues and I'll see him again in a month.
My youngest son called just to chat. While I didn't "blow him off," I did, uncharacteristically, tell him we'd talk tomorrow.
Tomorrow I have to see a client in the AM. I don't usually do that, but he pays on time and he's in trouble and needs some personal "hand-holding."
It all added to my current phase on introspection, self-examination. No more, no less. However, I did conclude that we're all entitled to an irritable day.

Sign of the Times: 8th Street & 6th Avenue

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Letters





No natural thing confesses,
Mole-silent & eye-sore,
Upside-down, the earth is still;
Along any moon-rift shore
Tides cast up a solitary shell.
The long dunes are quiet.
If, in the Pacific roar,
Animal secrets find release,
It is of death or caprice alone.
Muffled by water, by stealth,
Cradled in leaf by stalks
That sonnet & rill,
The smallest orchid tells
No secrets, a small blue mouth
With nothing to say;
Braced to the wind’s way,
The tenderest shoot
Casts a redundant shadow…
Still. I’ve heard field mice cry,
Constant threat from above,
Owl wing fluttering
When I was helpless to save
Its victim, to save anything
From itself & its own escape.
In that predatory swoop,
Moons & meadows
Wrinkled pins in a hush…
No natural thing tells all,
For what is at the lips
Is the nerves’ slow progress,
Sun’s battering, slip
Of the throat in distress.
I would tell all I could
About myself, if I did not know it
As a way of covering my tracks
                                                           When the wind was on me & the rain.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

BE NOT AMAZED BY BEAUTY FLASHING


Be not amazed by beauty flashing,
By skeletal hands soothing a fever,
The arthritic fingers of weavers
Of tapestries. Lovers, curled together
Before the marriage vow is fashioned,
Are not amazed. The splendid whip
Of the moon is theirs, & their
Many imperfections are digested in air
That feeds them. Still, the most clever

Of musicians is driven to despair
When his oneness is not demolished
By a simple song. Lovers who wished
That they be one are wrenched apart
With brutal frankness, but dare
Not say how single & solitary
They become. Their separate cells
Flash upon their minds & swell
To music, until they stand astonished

& betrayed. Cleopatra knew it; chills
Slithered up & down her Grecian spine
Whenever she dare to puzzle on how fine
Her body was; or more recently, Marilyn
The actress, knew it, yet swallowed pills
To ease her pain. Beauty is not its own
Undoing; we undo it. By refusing to see
Its oneness, we undo it. Be
Not amazed by lovely flashings, by signs

Of fish or stars above the faintly
Damning praise of planets, by slanted
Light that arches into prayer. Hunted
By artists & lovers, momentary grandeur
Never dynamites the mind, but silently
Unnerves the world. Seasons are murdered
In the snowy wind, waterfalls run
Into clouds & collapse while we look on.
We love only what we take for granted.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Whither Goest the Beat Generation

The f¬an spins noiselessly above me in the bedroom. The quiet in my home could be penetrated by the drop of the proverbial pin, and even then on a carpet.

There is always sound when I think, ponder; when I write. Whether it’s XM or iTunes, tonight there is none. Just quiet and it takes me back to West 9th Street, where there was never such silence; always the clatter of a garbage can, lovers wandering down the street, a dog…something. Always noise.

Wherever I’ve lived there has been something extraneous. I wonder what the silence will bring. It is almost enough to drag me from this bed to pick up my guitar, which for some reason I’ve been playing increasingly over the past few months.

It is not a Simon & Garfunkel “Sound of Silence.” It is pure quiet. Rex, asleep in the hallway, makes not sound. I can barely hear the air conditioning.

It makes me wonder if I enjoy, or like this silence. Or wonder if the silence is simply a matter of being alone, which seems to appeal to me.

Recently I signed up for a couple of “dating sites.” I did so in hopes of finding a woman who remains in her soul a child of 60s. One can certainly mature, grow older, wiser and maintain that feeling of freedom; feeling of, well “craziness,” lack of inhibition.

Now, for those regular readers of this venue, you’ve no doubt discerned that after my experience with my ex-wife, an unrepentant, unrecovered “functional” alcoholic prone to violence (to say nothing of the Anti-Semitism and racism that became manifest toward the end of our “relationship”) I approach women now with more than just a little trepidation.

I feel quite free in virtually all senses of the word. I’ve never been remarkably inhibited. I know my patterns and while what I do for a living is quite serious and I take it as that; outside of that I’m the old beat who read and played in the Village. That’s my heart, my soul.

There’ve been periods in my life, probably many of them when money was important for what it could buy and it often bought meals a top drawer restaurants all over the world; great hotels and first class airfare. I remember the Raphael in Paris, a wonderful “apartment” hotel; the Negresco in Nice, the Bel Air in LA…to say nothing of those great ones in New York, Chicago and so forth.

It was a taste that I enjoyed, I suppose, for a good portion of my life, until I realized some years ago, while at a five star restaurant here that, well, “What the hell am I doing here. I don’t enjoy this sort of food anymore.” The Bessie Smith tune, “Gimme a Pigfoot [and a bottle of beer] came to mind. No, I don’t eat pig’s feet, but it was a symbol.

I’m at heart an old Greenwich Village guy, my heart filled with folk music, blues and the cool jazz of the 50s and 60s. I saw Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt and so many others when the cover was a couple of drinks and the dress was jeans. Dylan, Baez, Collins, Ochs and others played at real coffee houses and passed the hat.

I suppose that is my soul…my heart. My intellect, of course, dictates the mask I wear for my business.

But alone, when the dark and quiet surround me; I wear no mask.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It was the very late 50s, 1959 probably and I was kid living in Greenwich Village just starting to write poetry, not what I write now, but the Beat sort of poetry. It was summer and hot, sticky as I wandered down MacDougal Street past MacDougal Alley and stumbled upon the Gaslight Cafe.

A small looking place, down a few stairs and into a dark coffee house. John Mitchell had opened it a year or so earlier and Ginsberg read there. A hero then, as he remains now. I recall later seeing Paul Stookey, before Peter, Paul and Mary doing standup, much like Peter Ustinov's "car racing" riff.
I tend to think of things like that now. I read poetry there as well, even played the guitar a bit, though not very well, with a voice that was just dreadful I thought then (as I do now), though everyone seemed to accept it as they snapped their fingers in applause.

Thinking about that, I found an old, very old poem I wrote and read there.

WON'T IT BE FUN
when i come and shear you from your pedestal
and kick you naked in the street where you
pick golfballs and live from puma droppings
then you'll know what it was like to be loved
and you'll want to crawl back and kiss my mirage
when i take my knife
and cut kaleidoscopes on your nose
you'll weep and moan and yea,
much gnashing of teeth, for
rememberance is corroded brass
and huck finn never made it to the island
for the raft went down
and huck broke his teeth.

call me ishmael said the man in the whorehouse
and id did and he kicked me out on my ass
and said that this was a clean place
and only gentlemen were allowed inside
now i want you to think about that
when you go downtown sometime
and ask for a dozen red or green roses.

listen, girl, i blew my nose this morning
and when i looked on the handkerchief
like i always do
i don't know what i ever expected to see
(and now i know why i always looked)
for there was mahatma ghandi
and his glasses were broken and he said
this is brotherhood week

i got pissed on by a cloud the other day
and when i looked up i found it was a limp bagel
so then i knew was only the air-conditioning
and didn't give it another thought
until i went home and mother told me
that the russians had come
and we were all dead

yes, you're going to live it, honey
when chicken little hatches in your christmas tree
and i get my finger caught in the electric fuse
so i can't deal anymore
and you'll have to work for a living
well, won't it be fun sweet mama
when the baby comes and everyone can eat.

Reading it now, I think how it worked then...and sort even works now. But mostly I think that I am glad I raised in those times and retain values devoid of many things I find tedious, at best, these days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Daffodils


When loose ends remain loose, they tangle and often a darkness settles in. We all have a murky spot into which we sometimes descend.
It is a spot from which I look about not for light, but for direction, for answers. It is not a place of depression or despondency for me, but rather a place that allows for deeper thought, profound, if not almost unfathomable self-examination, self-inquiry.
There are few, if any answers to be found there: Questions beg questions that beg even more questions. It's not happiness or joy I seek, or even meaning, just a sense of inquiry. As Camus wrote, “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
I've never believed that life itself had much meaning; or if it does, it's impossible to discern. Who, after all, can attach meaning to the mad dance of electrons we are.
There's nothing disturbing to me in these long thoughts. They do prompt me to continuing pondering it all for more time than I would like.
However, a simple daffodil brings me back and makes me smile.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Relinquishing of Dreams


I touched
A nerve within me,
Dredged it forth,
Hoised it
To a fat clabber of clouds,
My cipher of light
Upon the world's shoulder,

& women mulled me,
Open & closed,
Moist as a well,
My planet flared into water,
Flood-tide orbits,

But the rat's tooth bit me,
Money made a fist about me,
Envy made a fist within me.
I sorrowed in my spine
For all the old truths.

I have relinquished
Everything in my life
Save memory
& the stiff conjure
Of a few dreams:

My finest self
Rages
In a coxscomb sun
Spawning a make-shift hydrogen.

My wish now?
To be startled into sleep,
Desiring nothing,
Not death - certainly.
Desring only my being
As intractable as waves
Riding the surface,
Surging to the world's end.

Friday, August 3, 2012

THE TRAIN TO CONEY ISLAND GOES ON FOREVER

The train to Coney Island goes on forever
Plastic blue benches
Where Summer sits,
Daily News clutched to its paw,
Crossword puzzles of eternal poems,
& women with no bras, in tight white shorts,
Upon whom I would leap, saying
Take me into you with exact change.
At the end of the line
Worlds spin with uncertain gaiety,
Ferris-wheeled licks of childhood,
The sun itself a ride of vacant chairs,
But everything is so expensive.
The fishing pier is a clutter of cards & dice,
Chug-a-lug gambling games crayoned upon cardboard boxes,
Fishing weights as markers,
The Spanish man throws
A black queen between 2 red ones,
If you win, you win, if you lose, you lose,
All along the boardwalk
Buildings stagger in a rotten reel.