Tag Archives: love

Alchemy (for M)

The coffee got left on
with little in the pot.
It looks like there’s a fog inside the carafe
where the fumes baked into a film on the glass.

Such a small disaster as that
cannot be allowed to stop the morning.
My lover has taught me
how to clean such grime with ice cubes and kosher salt:

combine them inside; swirl them around;
dump it and wipe the glass; then
rinse thoroughly
and make a new pot.

I do that and as it’s brewing
I think about what else she has taught me:
how I am growing older and how I am not;
how to sit and be still;

where I am failing and how
I may recover. How to be myself with her,
and how not to be lost to myself
when I am not.

That last is the lesson 
that came the hardest and
remains the hardest. As hard,
perhaps, as a film of hot fog burned

onto old glass — but with her
and with the alchemy I’ve learned from her,
no such small disaster as that
can keep us

from sitting together each morning, still 
and quiet, over coffee in the shade
of the living room before we raise the blinds

and let in the hard light from outside.


A Gift

Sitting with
a gift-glass of excellent
Scotch, a Glenmorangie
Nectar D’Or aged in 
Sauternes casks…yes,
an indulgence, yes, expensive
and rare; that’s the point of it,
it was a sacrifice, 
it was given in love
and I drink it with love on
my mind. Lemony
start, honey on the tongue
with dark burn, a finish 
built on notes of
regret at its ending and 
joy that it was here and I 
had this chance to taste it:
I’m not going to be ashamed
at this, you see, not while 
so much wrong needs righting,
not while there’s so much need
to assuage 
pain and trouble;
for a few minutes
I’m going into this glass
to understand it as a golden
taste of an expression of love,
a trace of what a pure future
might be once we get past
this dim moment.


Used Records

I have owned
and discarded
so much I’m finding again here;
little of it
do I care to own again,

but upon raising from its place
a copy of — well, you don’t need that
information or why it’s important —

upon
raising it,
how swiftly I recall

the ritual of slipping
this exact beloved
out, laying on a light finger
for a subtle 
check of its nature, balanced
and spun upon a single finger
to test for warp and curve;

remembering how
I used to live that way

and though I am no
current cult audiophile, prefer
CDs and files to such 
stacks and stacks, 
upon considering

the green-gray dust 
in the crease
of this gatefold album,

thinking of 
nearly forgotten 
all nighters and then seeing

on this otherwise
pristine jacket
ball-pointed writing,

“property of Stan,” I
of course must
buy it,

all the while hating
Stan,

wherever he is now,
whoever he is
or once was.


Love Poem For The New Year

Originally posted 12/31/2011.

Any day can start a year.
Any day can end one.
Every day starts a year.
Every day ends one.

Any day can be celebrated,
any day regretted.
Regret one day for one day,
let celebration of the next begin.

All I need for any year or day: 
one with whom to celebrate, one with whom
to commiserate, one with whom to share
the New Year of every single day.

Just one
with whom to straighten up after the labor,
one with whom to soothe
and be soothed;

one to whom the calendar
is merely a suggestion,
one with whom to start anew
each daily New Year’s Day.


Blues

Originally posted 12/19/2012; original title, “Blue Sex.”

This early,
this warm.
This dark
singing,
a tangled
blues;

lemon squeezing, starter mashing,
rolling, tumbling,
juice runs down our legs blues;
“can’t be satisfied — ” 
challenge, not lament;

slide ice cube
stinging it,
gliding it
fast between mouths 
and bellies;

sun will barge in
soon enough — 
how humid it’ll smell then,
our hair torn up along with the room,
‘Sweet Home Chicago” in the background.

No matter how Mississippi 
it gets in here
this warm,
this early,
this dark,

we always end up
asking each other,
“baby —
baby don’t you
wanna go?”


Carve

Originally posted 10/19/2008.

this morning
we were

archerfish
and bluebird,
cat
and swallowtail, 
monument
and fountain,
abstract
and concrete.

we were

marble, clay, steel, flame,
building up
and carving away;
brancusi
and calder,
rounding off,
grounding, then
suspending
and floating.

making love is nothing
if it is not sculpture: 

surface is paramount,
a glimpse of
the potentials within
to lead us on.
our hands swerving
and smoothing, gliding
up over the ribs,
varying pressure,
thumbs teasing forth the nipples.

here is where we bend
back, here is where we
create the arch of the neck,
where we
mold the open mouth — 
there is so much time
needed for each lip — 
so much care needed
to give the hips their crests, 
to choose
the ridge for each cheek.

but we are not stone and bronze,
made to remain still —
we move —

plastic now, animated now,
stillness swiftly swept up in frenetic once again —
again, picking up the tools,
seeking new forms, next revelations;
this time

cat and bluebird,
swallowtail and archerfish,
nevelson and rodin,

or, better —
nameless before the possibilities.

there is animal in me:
let’s carve in to find it. 
there is goddess in you:
let’s carve.
let’s find it. 


Lazarus Dawn

Originally posted 10/15/2007.

The lump in my chest
still moves according to the body’s plan,
but it had its own plan once.

What did my heart think about
back when it still could think?
It’s been sleeping for so long — 

there were times
when I had a glimpse of something
(breeze in a poplar; a skirt wrapping
around a leg in mid stride;  tears trickling
on a man’s hard cheek)
and my mind called up
a poltergeist ache within 
but I thought it had settled there because 
atrophy had made room for it
and not because I thought
my heart was awake.

I still cannot easily believe
in a Lazarus dawn but
there is something here
I cannot deny
early in the morning
when I turn toward her
breathing beside me;
something directed outward,
something that wants to be heard — 

there is a knocking in the tomb.


Ain’t It Grand?

Originally posted 11/11/2012.

Here is a human heart, 
a fist-sized ball of thick meat; 
here is its dimly connected brain. 

Somewhere 
in a sealed box
in the wet of the mind,
buried in 
the brain’s ropes and curls,
is an inaccurate map 
the heart is supposed to follow,
but never does.

The blind little stubborn heart,
running off on its own;
the jealous careful brain 
whining and tagging along behind — 

that’s the story of,
that’s the glory of…


H.P. In Love

Originally posted 8/29/2013.

Providence, dark bayside muse,
lent itself well to his humors.
He glimpsed potential lovers
in the same pits and holes
where potential horrors could be found.

He did not in real life love much or well.
He did not trust others, carried dank biases too far,
mistrusted at last even the devotion 
of his own monsters to their creator;
in the long run, he only kept the city

as full companion and partner. He was born
here, left and returned, eventually died
muttering about the pain in his gut and
the Elder Race in his dreams, settling at last
on one phrase to capture all his intention:

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”
In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
Think of the man unveiled there:
one so soaked with darkness he had to squeeze out
new words for those depths within him,

the same depths he sensed in the alleys behind the grand homes
of Angell Street, Waterman Street, Benefit Street;
the depths in the drowned eyes that sought him out when he stared into
the waters that emptied here from the New England hills.
New words for something at once terrible and inescapable —

something, at least to him, very much like love.


The Prog Rock Airplane Of Your Love

Originally posted 6/29/2012.

You, flying the prog-rock airplane of your love,
make the crazy leap to stratosphere.
Something comes knocking on the hatch door.

It is the object of your affection, wearing a jet pack,
holding the ring you gave her in her hand;
she hurls it into the plane and swoops away.

Your crew secures the hatch behind her.
They turn to look at you,
stoic in the pilot’s seat.

How did she fly so high as to get to you?
Some questions are meant either to be unanswered,
to be incomprehensible without a life change,

or to be aged into
before answering.  It rarely matters which 
of these is true.  What matters is what the pilot does 

with the prog-rock airplane of his love 
after it has been rejected.  Does the pilot choose
to settle into an awkwardly worded

power ballad nose dive, or to surge higher
on waves of bass triplets and Mixolydian modal guitar runs
until the plane reaches its structural limits and explodes?

You choose another way, push a tear back into its duct 
through sheer strength of will; then,
as if in a coda, you head back to base.


Dimes And Pennies In Paper Rolls

Originally posted on 1/31/2010.

Dime by dime and
penny by penny
you fill paper rolls
to try and make
the empty spaces in the rent
as you dream of folding money
piled in drifts you’ll need to wade
to get through the door between you
and what you call
real life
as the rattle 
of the old windows
mocks you 
scolding that you’re not going far
with cold feet and thin socks
cheap shoes and a worn coat

Here’s news for you
This is a real life

Success here is found in making do
and getting by
seasoned well with lovemaking
at odd hours and rough moments
when there’s nothing else to do
because the cable’s unpaid
the phone’s shut off
the gas might go at any minute
but you draw together and laugh
at the way your breath comes faster
as you kiss on the broken bed
and push against the gritty walls
of bargain paint
Faster and harder than poverty can smash your mouth
you smash your mouth on love and hard want
and softer than the cold wind can slip under the door
you slip into the good sleep of afterwards

Those who dare to make things work
make them work rich or poor
So don’t lie alone
until the day you’ll be rich
as it may never come
Bring yourself to joy
with pennies and dimes in paper rolls
and embraces
in the always generous night


Language I Don’t Speak

Originally posted 10/25/2013.

I don’t.
Not.
Can’t.

A word was here and then
no,
can’t,
gone.

Negative space?
Nothing there?
Not exactly, no.

A revelation through absence?
No,
the figure
has no ground
so I don’t
ground, here.

No one here gets
how much swamp of

no, 
can’t, 
won’t

there is.

Must figure
it, figure out how I
may say whether 

there is 
“yes”
to be found. See

I was fluent
an hour ago up until
those eyes, that 
flash.

I build a yes.
Make one from scratch.  Teach
my tongue what flash
means, what shared yes
is, how to thrill together with

what we put,
what we
place,
what we set to flight.

How to mean what’s
in our mouths,

how to
pass it between.


Relationship Advice

Originally posted 7/7/2011.

He flows. She
flows. You just know
that together, they
flow. Not that

whenever ripples
from drowned rocks
shock their surfaces,
their faces
don’t show it.  
Not that, no.
But whenever they feel them
they still flow. Those slow them
only a little.

What’s downstream?
That question is their driver, 
the dream they work for, taking
the breaks of current
and banks in stride,
watching the river go
from narrow-swift to
slow-wide.

Nights under silver-lit moonshine.
Days baking bright and dry.
Some days the river’s so low
it’s nearly out of view —
no matter. They flow.
He flows with her 
and she flows with him.

If you see them, 
follow as long as you can —
here is how it’s done,
here is how slow and present
cleans and carves through
trouble and pain — here’s how
to flow along coupled,
joined in progress, aimed
with no effort at the end
where the flow joins the ocean
and softly disappears into
the encircling All. 


He Defends His Family From Insult

Originally posted 2/13/2013.

Son, don’t even try
to clown here: not when
your wife’s made of cuckoo feathers
and talks in porcupine quills.
Not when you’ve got
two poison-dart kids
with grouch bag eyes that match
their limb-licking attitudes — 
son, you carry your relations,
and I will carry mine.
At least when I am with my wife
(the one you’re daring to smear)
and I lower my mouth to hers
I know I won’t come up
choking on the taste
of anyone else.  Can you
say the same?  This bar’s
mad full of lips whose flavor
you might recognize
with a little research,
but I digress.  
Just stop clowning, son; 
you’re under the big top now
and not even close
to being top banana.

 


Wordplay

Originally posted 3/1/2010.

You create a new word
right after dinner
and send it out to play.

It begins with a “C” and starts out strong
but soon trips over its own round foot
and falls down the stairs. . 

You bend to pick it up
and cradle it to your bosom,
rocking it while it weeps.

You change it into something
that begins with “E.”
And at once it’s all better.

Isn’t this fun? Creating new words
that mean nothing, do nothing
until you give them voice?

You can’t even pronounce these things.
Still, they’re alive because you breathed them.

It’s a nice power to have.

You can do this as well, you know,
with those you claim to love —
say their names as if you were in charge,

re-spell everything that has hurt them,
change the names themselves
if they carry too much weight.


If the only safety you can offer
is to give them new names

in a language you don’t know 

you learn that tongue as fast as you can,
practicing the words
when no one can hear you,

because love
is language 
invented
and held in secret


until you know
with whom
you are meant to speak.