Sunday, November 27, 2011


Alfred Salutin has no friends;
Drinks alone every night, a bottle of vodka on the sofa watching television.
He hates everyone; even the specters flickering across the screen he curses,
Lays at their feet his wretchedness, his despair.
In his cups he screams at his old mother;
She had no right to bear him,
No right to bring him into such a world.

Saturday afternoons Alfred buys the scandal sheets,
Spreads the colorful pages across the kitchen table,
Gazes at the cleavages of the movie stars,
Takes sides in their squabbles and personal affairs.
But what he’s really looking for are stories of spontaneous combustion.
These he reads over and over until he knows them word for word.
O that he too might receive such a cleansing,
Such a fiery deliverance!

But in the end there is no burnt hole in the sofa,
No pile of smoking carrion,
Rather only Alfred, possessed of the familiar flesh and bone,
Tethered in the same tight corral of misery.

Mornings Alfred shaves in the mirror,
Face a fiery Martian red, eyes a fabric of bleeding rivers,
And he longs to be freed,
Longs to be delivered from this downward spiral
Of dead and ever deader hearts,
And then extinction.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Poor

Plans for social ascension are announced now and then
By men in tailored suits,
Whisked away afterwards in limousines.

But the poor are not whisked away.
They remain, whistling through dark alleys, same as before.

Kind Hearts long to raise them to respectability.
Poor Kind Hearts!
What good’s respectability,
Naked, all by itself, without a foil?

Starving, racked with frenzy,
They can rise like a single beast, striking a blow unbelievably savage.

In bare sufficiency they build structures so elegant, so subtle,
They escape the attention of those who purport to study them.

Some fear them for their irreverence, sudden spikes of passion;
But these, to a lively mind, are the very reasons to love them.

Late Winter Letter To An Old Friend

The days are much the same now.
Deep cold. Howling wind.
Dark trees. White fields of snow.
The fire must be fed, kindling split.

What were you like when you were young?
What kind of face did you have then?
A lonely one perhaps,
Or a split face,
One side for God, the other for the human beings.
The dog’s face is drawn now.
Sometimes his eyes fill with pain.
He’s deaf; his corneas shiny with cataracts.

Yesterday I shoveled snow.
Tomorrow I’ll have to shovel again.
This morning I tried to write a poem. Useless.
My tongue was glued to the roof of my mouth.
My head stuffed with straw.

I thought of you then,
And wondered how you were doing.
Perhaps you could drop me a line.
Send me a note full of your usual nonsense,
And I will be in your debt forever.

Meeting With The Social Work Administrators

Soft gestured; Light falling on the faces just so.
All blood rinsed out and sailing off to the sea sand shore.
Words cleaned with silica,
Each turned in upon itself, a polished snail.

They chant polices.
Who made policies?
God made policies.

Their eyes are glazed in a familiar dream.
Many are the offices.
Many are the beehives humming.
Never are there enough parking spaces.
Holy are the many forms of many forms.
Blessed the flow charts. Sacred the silos.
Faces buffed. Fingers manicured.
There is enough honey to preserve the bodies forevermore.

They arrive in six separate cars
And leave in six separate cars.
Two speak. The other four utter not a word.

On The Birth of My Grandson

Vacuums noodling the spiral arms;
Small hole in the egg;
Sweeping movement of the inaccessible,
Its pendulum tock.

Destruction’s no mistake; rather a necessity.
No jamming the conveyor with the detritus of a fixed creation, please.
Some are born; others die.
Presidents and generals.
Even the cruelest tyrant becomes in the end
A pile of dust and leather paraphenalia.

My dear child welcome to the world.
Welcome to the beginning and welcome to the end.
Silver fish glide over the surface of the blue sea.
White birds alight in a green field.
And you, moving your liquid eye across the surprise of creation,
Have your first birthday,
Above you the happy moons of floating faces,
The hospital ceiling, painted blue.