I wonder how they do it:
save their sins for Saturday,
when the sirens at their honky-tonks,
their claws attached to whiskey-rocks
or draft beer cold enough to freeze
a witch’s tit, sing out the same familiar song.
I know they must have plugs of wax
stuffed in their ears, ’cause they don’t listen
to the band, or much to what the sirens say;
their only interest is the way
a pair of too-small jeans is filled
with that forbidden fruit they’ll spend
’til closing time trying to pick.
Then in the pew next to their wives
they’ll squirm and pass the buck,
blaming their weakness.
I wonder how they do it:
how they manage to survive
when every other thing about their lives
is cataloged and sorted out;
the neighbors know what business hours
you ought to keep, and just how long
it takes to make the trip uptown
and back. How is their secret kept?
And of these sirens? What’s their game?
What kind of life do they expect?
They sift among the wild or weak,
and hope these sailors will respect
their song, after the whiskey-rocks
are emptied from their hands
and they are perched outside the trailer door
to watch the low tide back at sea.
SEP 24 2007
In seeking out the allness of everything
(a journey full of critical posturing
that makes our baggage less intrusive)
listening silently guides each footfall.
Each minute’s chat, each garrulous dialogue,
that nervous banter drowning the emptiness
of what the world leaves as unspoken,
cleverly misdirects those who search for
the secret, sacred whispering undertone
that proves a pulse still dripping with energy,
of beyond ancient time and birthing:
constantly creating all of being.
15 OCT 2005
Sometimes a phrase, or single word,
will prompt a poem. How absurd
to think that there is some great plan
on my part; so few understand
how unlike following a chart
this process is. There is no start
or end defined, no single grain
of sand that unlocks in the brain
the secrets of the universe.
A gift? More like a mummy’s curse
that reaches from beyond the grave.
All one can hope is to be brave
enough to take the message down
before it slips back underground
into the psyche’s fetid lair
(assuming that it comes from there).
It bubbles, like some sulphur gas
up through a molten, gray morasse
of hidden urges, secret wants,
and like a phantom limb, it haunts
the poet through their waking hours.
It begs, cajoles, and then devours
the retinue of conscious thought,
never elusive, unless sought
from the great void as one small word
or single phrase. See how absurd
it is to think the poet’s craft
one honed on purpose. Yet some daft
professors praise as skill and art
the bull’s-eye found by these rare darts,
and build great schools to analyze
what comes, if at all, by surprise.
24 JUN 2005
in the undertown around the middle
earthen jars the senseless struggle:
i shall be released from this
before the current pulls me
undertown, around the rooting rockets way
before the dawn of timing, when
our cultured throats scream out so that
the horse-drawn whispers drawl
their quiet haunting innuendos.
in the undertown beside the river
runs the hiding seeking slumber:
i shall be awakened from this
just before the nightmare finds me
undertown, beneath the covered bridges burnt
before the gods of ego’s altar, when
our cultured pearls slide out so that
the tenderloin potential plays
its game of spattered caulking.
in the undertown below the wasteland
roving scarlet head supporters speak:
i shall not believe in this
until the dream has drowned its dead in
undertown, before subtle shaded sadness swells
its mottled cracking smile, and then
our cultured throats slide slow so that
the sword-clamped teeth can grasp
their severed thoughts’ aboutness.
America, I know your secret:
there is no deep intellectual struggle
fermenting in your collective mind —
that’s for the coasts to sort out amongst themselves,
with their isolationist disdain for solidarity,
thinking that beyond the Holland Tunnel,
above the Causeway bridge,
east of the valley,
over the Golden Gate
is some fetid quagmire of yet to be united;
and that the nation consists
of only its urban centers.
America, your secret is this:
your corporations, bloated with white-haired men
and Ivy League connections,
are selling youth and sex and freedom.
As long as we keep buying into the myth,
as long as there is no concerted effort below the surface,
as long as there are toys to occupy our time,
as long as supermodels and actors and pop Musicians promote our causes,
as long as becoming famous is more important than being intelligent or informed or educated,
no one else will want to get old, rich and powerful enough
to take your place.
Wasn’t it enough that you dumbed down the textbooks after Vietnam
to prevent the possibility of organized resistance?
Wasn’t it enough that your McCarthyism emasculated the left wing,
leaving the eagle of democracy crippled, flopping in useless circles?
Wasn’t it enough that even after Watergate, and J. Edgar Hoover,
Kissinger and Oliver North,
we still trusted your power-brokers in Washington
and believed they were representing us?
America, I know your secret, and it is the omerta of the pirate code:
keep ’em in hookers, rum and shiny trinkets, and
they’ll never want to own the ship,
but they’ll keep saluting your flag until they die.
29 APR 2004