Random Poetry

In Aesthetics

Men with caulk guns scrape at window frames
and the sweater drones on.
Fred sips his can of Dr. Pepper
and rewrites by hand the term paper
on his lap.
Nikki sucks a root beer bottle that looks exactly
like a beer.
The sweater drones on, bouncing
a few phrases through my head:
created…art…critic…perception…reality…
institutional…
explication?
Everyone is looking at the sweater
but I am watching
(um, ah, um, ah)
the men on ladders who are laughing together.

December 1998

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Random Poetry

Rift
by Adrienne Rich

I have in my head some images of you:
your face turned awkwardly from the kiss of greeting
the sparkle of your eyes in the dark car, driving
your beautiful fingers reaching for
a glass of water.
                                    Also your lip curling
at what displeases you, the sign of closure,
the fending-off, the clouding-over.
                                    Politics,
you’d say, is an unworthy name
for what we’re after.
                                    What we’re after
is not that clear to me, if politics
is an unworthy name.

When language fails us, when we fail each other
there is no exorcism. The hurt continues. Yes, your scorn
turns up the jet of my anger. Yes, I find you
overweening, obsessed, and even in your genius
narrow-minded – I could list much more –
and absolute loyalty was never in my line
once having left it in my father’s house –
but as I go on sorting images of you
my hand trembles, and I try
to train it not to tremble.

Random Poetry

goldenleaves

October

A thick banner of wispy pinkish puff
smeared across the crisp blue-black swath
on a chilly autumn night
where my breath is make-believe smoke
and my footsteps crunch golden parchment
after days of gray haze and lukewarm mist
finally, pinpricks of light
calling: the world is within reach tonight
and the tipped-bowl silver moon
pours out wonder
                                      and hope.

1997

Random Poetry

Joseph Campbell believes that instead of searching for the meaning of life, people are really after the feeling of being alive. That is why I write — to try to capture important times when I have felt really alive.

Predborice

I must have lived here
in this hamlet of Czech countryside
and mustardy grass plots,
for the last hundred years
are still here
in cobblestone and whitewash
stick fences and red tile roofs
and yet I am comfortable
with its look and its lack
of anything substantial
by American standards.

From the blue dark pub
converted from a school
I can just make out
a distant stubble-faced man
leading a lumbering, clomping cow
down the narrow, dust-crusted road
and a kerchiefed woman to my left
with a small yellow-haired girl
sound out slippery words from the menu
on a blackboard.

Seizing the divine gift
of displacement and freedom
I swallow my thick black beer
and dart out the door
into air too cool
for my idea of August
past brave chickens and the phone box
where I accepted welcome offerings
from curious eyes and friendly hands,
wonderously patting my hair and clothes.

Stepping into an expanse of green
and rows and rows and rows
of tomatoes and carrots and peas
swathed by bright blue and white light
without that night-time false feeling
of reaching out and stroking stars
I throw up my arms to remind
myself of the openness
and wiggle my fingers over my head
rejoicing in this glimpsing of infinity
I still have trouble cupping in my mind.

Published 1999

Random Poetry

At Reinbach Falls

Up the mountain we are pulled.
A stream appears through the muddle of trees.
A field glances out between trunks.
I reach outside the funicular
letting my fingers graze damp, cool rock.
We’re entirely surrounded here
by the greens of leaves, stems, trees.

At the top,
I can hear before I see –
the way hearts sometimes know
before heads –
the graceful thundering.
Peering over a stout wooden fence
and across a small ravine,
the falls of Sherlock and Moriarty.
Too high to see the spilling-over point.

Squatting on a rock,
I point for Jackie,
showing her how to watch
for falling water
between tall, waving grasses
and flowers on the hillside.

We hush ourselves and listen
to the thunder.
To the left is a field.
In the field is a house.
Behind the house is a mountain:
solitary
towering
rugged.

This water never freezes.

September 1998

Random Poetry

The Concerto Will Be Televised

A man in black
performs
with a ribbon of sheen
running the length of his matte pants;
the trickling tears of salty sweat dripping
from his chin onto the keys.
Hands wobble on whole notes.

I can’t stand not knowing if he’s
nervous
or bursting inside
with joy and release.
He returns a glance and
the conductor is pained,
the principal second caught
eyes closed, startled —
at missing an entrance.

Mopping his brow between
movements,
a white hanky glares
on lacquered black wood.
The Andante compels me
to weep —
insuppressibly, like an onion.
I pause my breath,
exhale emphatically
willing away fumes and delivering
one grain of salt
into a cut nearly healed.

This man is older and lacks a certain
flamboyance.
Arising from a deep crevasse
another pianist floats icy trills
up towards me, past me
rounded air hangs
and delicately dissipates –
the time signature of youth
exploding.

Fingers race the Finale. Arms jerk
assuredly;
eyebrows raise, schlepping eyes.
Cheeks bubble and flush,
pulses syncopate and
Here it is —
forgotten feeling long lamented —
everyone is triumphant.

October 1999