Manuscript for Love: (old volume: more to come)

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SEVENTY-EIGHT SONNETS IN SOMETHING OF A SERIES..
(1)
I am no volume made by scholars
You will not see in me a single gesture
Towards the wisdom of some other source:
I’m light not heavy thin not fat
I was created in two weeks by a fool
Who filled me with his lilies and his weeds
You need not memorize a single line
Just read me at your ease
And piecemeal fashion like a child
Who builds houses out of cards and blows
them down.
I was created out of pleasure and of pain
No thought guided me beyond vague necessity
No rule need guide you but your whim.

(2)
Who would mourn the ones who strove for power?
Who light candles for the arrogant?
I would not regret the death of tyrants
Only a slave of slave would miss his master.
Would you weep the death of a cold woman
Or sigh in memory of a brutish father?
When a shadow is lifted, or a curtain raised
And all the world both now, before and hence
To bright imagination is displayed
They will recall at best of these
The golden curls, the lively brain
And fondly think when gossip’s tongue is still
Only upon the words which silenced pain.

(1)

(3)
What should be humor is just gas
And music just a hollow sound
I’m sick of labor and of play
All burdens of the citizen.
The contest does not entertain
And party sounds are flat and dry
Or raucous as the cry of crows.
I’m tired of all these people and their woes!
I think that I would rather sit
Upon a beach alone and think
Than do one favor for a friend
Or even take one public drink
My social contract is near end.

(4)
I think that if ever I
Among ten million shall be known
I should be eternal general to the mad
And the bugbear to the sane.
Vast tattered legions will quickly follow me
Up along my individual way
The will blame me if I falter once
They would praise me if I simply smile
They will cling to me as I confess my sins.
Know this – that I am friendly too
But am discrete as lawyers are:
You may use me now as food or medicine
But know that “author” is your own design.

(2)

(5)
You’ll find not just loving in these words
Though I have loved you almost to the end
In mornings I am labeled harsh and cold
You never let me sleep – what else could come of it?
My evenings now are filled with fantasy
Made private by your tendency to doze
My imagination wanders boldly till I snore
And then you wake me with a gruesome face
Or raise a minor and tedious complaint.
Believe in me when I tell the simple truth
I sought in you a lover and a friend
Not patient, pupil or a whore
You play with fire, girl, when you dash
my pleasures so
And thus I indicate to you the exit door.

(6)
Oranges from Israel, strawberries from France
Apples from America, mangoes from the East
All the teas of China, coffee from Brazil
I find on my poor tablespread
A banquet that will fil.
I hunger not for heavy meat
I have no thirst for wine
I care not much for affluence
I have no dreams for land
But honey please oh honey do
Come join me here tonight
I’ll spend all evening praising you
And while we talk we’ll feast
On apples from America, mangoes from the East.

(3)

(7)
I see I do not blend easily
With what this modern world expects
I know quite little of machines
Even my sense of the price of things
is often poor!
And too the social man in me is strange – you’ll see
A fragile mind that you will try to help in vain
A rush of strength which comes from nowhere there
You’ll quickly figure me – I am not sane.
It’s true I weep while others often laugh
And yet I cannot hide my face from scrutiny!
I fraternize with liars and I make them tell
the truth.
With honest men I alter turns in games of mutual
abuse.

(8)
They expect me once again to be dignified
To insinuate about my own suitability
To answer all their questions with a flair
To be as stiff as an old oak tree except
To make a winning gesture with my hair.
Damn them all I say – I wish I could – what do
they want?
They love the smooth appearance, they adore
The subtly given signal which tells all
I am no threat to you
I have no hope, you see
Of ever breaking free and growing tall.

(4)

(9)
The exiled kings came to the shore
With stubborn faces and they built
With hard-book reasoning and solid arms
And sweat a house upon the rock.
Only a shack for several souls it was
I think – I was not there – they wept
Witnesses to the things that faith repaid:
A winter passed: the kings prevailed
Ten winters they gained – the house grew
Two hundred winters assured their survival
and indeed predominance.
And the house is still there and larger too
And now you can see mice scratching in the mortar
And at the cracks in every beam.
Though they’re still building right on top of it.

(10)
Some might take me for comedian (at times)
I seem so light and full of air
A rush of brightest colors, even of a flower
Which sadly cannot be replanted in the wild
But must be taught and guarded from possible harm.
Amusing, a player of games
Most usually harmless, some which verge
On being nasty, but a child
And full of nonsense, a mere child-man
Who will one day grow the proud and oppressive belly
of the responsible adult;
Who will in the future settle like stale sauce.
I’ll let them think that but to you I’ll whisper
The intolerable sadness of a creature
Whom none can give to, but must give to all.

(5)

(11)
My fields are these, love, take them or discard
Just tender fantasies of things that cannot be
There’s only a garden in my heart, love-
no hard cash in the pocket-
A garden which needs tending every day.
I promise little in the way of things love,
and I mean
I surely have no corner in the marketplace.
None are demanding the prized words
Of a useless man with a handsome face.
But if some know me through my gardening
And choose those flowers that I must now sell
They won’t embrace the seller, love
But likely pick at every petal’s flaw:
My fields are these, love, take them or discard.

(12)
Your teeth are rotting, love, go see a dentist
How can you wander publicly
With those moon-crater gaps
Your hair is beautiful but Christ I know
In it a month’s neglect – put it
Some way that it can be seen by others.
You think that one can touch someone
Who always is so mournful and so sad.
What will they think –
That I should lead a woman by the hand
To tend herself in ways that all other women
seem to know?
You raise in me a fury, yes, a storm
To so expose your hand to other players.

(6)

(13)
I count man’s age by what he says
No documents have shown me any proof
I measure height with what men love
I’ve never used a yardstick to find truth
I judge of honesty through viewing features
No master of interrogations I
I scale a quality through fingertips
There are no other digits for a measuring
I peak success by its fertility
What parents breed in children will tel all
I think of countries by their varied songs
Not by the words of those who rule and serve.

(14)
Why do you examine me – do you really wish to hear
Every boring detail of my daily life?
What I did between the office and the coffee shop
Is there anything interesting in that at all?
Is there anything true in a story told that way?
Sometimes I smile, sometimes laugh
Am often close, but frequently apart
I talk with people whom I usually forget
Those whom I talk to forget me too.
I often think about mere food or sleep.
Why not let me be? Why do you insist
I work so hard at being here with you?

(7)

(15)
When I remove these blinders there is pain
For they have taught me left and right
Have scanned the street for all directions
And taught each day the proper path
Although they slowly tear the eyes
Until each thing I see is haze.
When I remove these ear-guards there is pain
For they have taught me every sound
Have heard all of your voices for direction
And taught each day the correct response
Until each thing I’ve heard is noise-
Please, love, pity a man with new ears and eyes.

(16)
Upon my wall I keep no paintings
For I have seen how something meant to move
Became mere object for the empty words of thought
I do not listen to the sounds of music
For it is clear that this thing, made for passion
Is now a tool for cleaning brains.
I never in my days go to the theater
There are no roles there to fit a woman or a man.
I do not long for evening conversation
Im tired of all these games of hide and seek.
Of all that’s written I read nothing
For I am certain that it’s all the same:
Just pale design without a show of life.

(8)

(17)
Shall I do games for you
Count like a trained horse from one until infinity
Performing square roots with my hooves?
May I do pleasant card tricks – entertain you
Surprise you with the memory of a horse.
I’ll stand in front of crowds painting my pictures
And any man who comes may question my technique
Or poke and probe my horse’s wares like towels
I can tell stories as well
And can upon a paper spread make notes
And sing – you will think he sweetly sings
You will sit back while I so perform
And gladly number your precious things.

(18)
I I think upon the newest things which lie
Both placed and scattered in my living room
Gleaming, filled with metal, loud and quick
The proud possessions of a modern man.
I see my children play with these
Intent and filled with purpose as small generals
Their blindness to the clock amazes me
I’m slightly frightened by grabbing hands and shouts
Their imitation of some battle to the last
But when they trip me into telling them
Of robin’s eggs and rocky trails
The touch of ancient parchment and the mystery of flight
I wake some angel in those violent eyes
Which illuminates my own dark night.

(9)

(19)
When I grow weary of the fight and all its prizes
And can’t bother my sore head to wonder of today
I clutch my pillow and await your gentle touch
Which only of all medicine relieves my pain
And though I can’t give back to you
One tenth of what your patience gives to me
I must in all my solitude prevail
And wait until the evening for your sight
For only you my love can still
That madly spinning gyroscope
Which constitutes my heart
And only your kind words bring order to
The divided congress in my brain.

(20)
Hands that would freely play on strings
Are red and bound and impotent
As claws of lobsters in a lobster tank
Eyes that would mirror every sight
Are dead and dry and tearless holes
As eyes of statues from a pagan age3.
Lips shaped for kissing blow sweetest lips
Blow poison smoke rings in the air
Like those from open fissures in the ground
Hair that should in freest curls cascade
Is short and filled with discipline
As wooden soldiers on parade.

(10)

(21)
Another day of business is done
I slam the door and grab the telephone
Oh honey I am coming on the run
No winters cold can make me freeze
No heat can bring me to my knees
Oh honey it is finally done!
The lord will spare a fool like me
Who drives at 70 to see
Oh honey – you’re the only one!
My clothes and car are quite a mess
I just forgot your new address
My forehead’s melting in this sun
But honey I am on the run!

(22)
When my excitement in the roads is gone
I know their destinations are the same
When I grow weary of the railroad too
And spotting planes behind the burgeoning clouds
I sit in front of a suburban stream
Which knows no commerce but provides
The child and mother with a moment’s peace
And harbor for the lonesome of the afternoon.
I polish stones or count the blades of grass
Or climb frail bridges to peruse
The blue green algae passing underneath:
I crouch by an anthill where I find
Myself a monster to this busy crew.

(11)

(23)
They do not seem to hunt or fish but glide
In groups of six or seven on a stream
Silent and lovely, the green feathers of one
Glint almost violet in the summer sun
When children come down to the grass
They speak at once, cacophonous
And move like soldiers to the humble shore
Where, awkward and pushy, they scramble forth
Each to conquer an individual child
Each child to seduce an individual duck
When every gullet’s filled with bread
And all can see that nothing more remains
The signal sounds – and they tramp back
In groups of six or seven to the stream.

(24)
I do not wear a watch – what wound you up
Your weekly talk could fill a library
Your morning conversations a small book!
I can’t fit one small sentence to the page
Before it’s done – you think I’m dear perhaps?
Or maybe I should know by heart
That vast encyclopedia of your life
And forget about my own until
I can’t remember where I put my keys?
What wound you up? Your talk could bring me
to my knees.
Why all these confessions – I’m not your priest
Though sometimes as I clutch my aching ears
I long for a monastery in the hills.

(12)

(25)
You claim monopoly on my ear
And not just all the other parts
As any woman would rightly claim
You want me there only to hear
Yourself and not just that
You want me just to echo forth
At any time you choose at any place
Exactly what you want to hear
I do not even claim the right
To guide you dear – I want you free
I was the first, you must admit
To give up lord and slavery
While you in bland hypocrisy
Make of my ears your pretty prize.

(26)
All the cities are now the same
A million people waiting for something to happen
A million people struggling with mixed-up goods
and evils
Every day while waiting silently
For something original to happen.
All the cities are quite the same
But hardly anybody inside prays as they once did
They just hope between taking bites
A million people waiting for something to happen
Talking every day while waiting silently
For something unusual to happen
Reading the newspapers and the magazines
While waiting for something different to happen.

(13)

(27)
Let’s take a bath and we’ll be friends
Or lovers as the case may be
No rush or hurry – I would wait
For you as long as you would wait for me
Let’s take a bath and we’ll be friends
Or lovers if that’s what you will
And I will lay there by your side..
There’s time to talk of many things
Nothing much is happening in the big outside
Let’s take a bath and we’ll be friends
Or lovers if that is what we want
And we can play as children do
As careless as the birds you knew
Floating freely in the country air.
Let’s take a bath and we’ll be friends.

(28)
I speak but rare and awkwardly
The Lord protects a fool like me
And though I don’t go evilly
It’s seldom I go cautiously
The Lord protects a fool like me
And though I am all jealousy
Of those who charge rebelliously
The Lord protects a fool like me
I mutter strange inanities
The Lord protects a fool like me
I cannot go ironically
And yet I don’t go tragically
The Lord protects a fool like me.

(14)

(29)
Who steers my path I do now know
But something pushes me – I go
Who builds my house I do not care
For it is somehow always there
Who teaches me it is in vain
I only gather what I can
What place I shop at matters not
I only purchase what I’ve got
I seek for wealth and it’s in vain
For when I seek I’m poor again
To search for friends is just a chore
I find the one who’s by my door
And when I seek to know my pain
Some angel drags me by a chain.

(30)
As a collector of stamps begins
With one small country and then another
Until he has of the whole world sampled
All of those images which both
Carry art and safeguard commerce
So I have in my random wanderings
Collected of each place a bit
Of different and the same
Of colorful and dross – to see
From every land which things are loved
To have from every place something
Mildly valuable. I think
In sheer coinage, it’s worth next to nothing
Yet this pleases me of all the hobbies I possess.

(15)

(31)
Oh did you find the address did you
I feel like one of those tourists in Italy
Who after consulting a local map
Finds one half of the available streets
-Only the natives know about the rest.
Oh do you have the time – do you
I feel as if I fell between two time zones
Where hours will differ
From one town to the next, or even street
to street
So that only the most specific natives can
Point out where it is eight or nine o’clock
So I feel , in these strange times
Lost, without a watch, seeking advice
with a smile.

(32)
The water runs both hot and cold
All devices properly turn on and off
If you slip a switch, light floods the room
When off, you can see fireflies and the
moonlight.
What is there to complain about?
Infants are dying like flies in Africa
Bearded men are falling heavily in South
American wars
Fewer are dying here than ever before
All diseases are almost licked except for cancer
And even that seems possible.
The magnificent enterprise is functioning
like clockwork
But there is little that seems real or natural
And everyone seems nervous like lobsters
in a tank.

(16)

(33)
Oh, what on earth could image me
I am as changeable as a kaleidoscope
As alterable as clay. Each soft impression
Of the touch of anything
Will change it all. I can’t stay still or solid
For a moment – a gyroscope that spins
And spins and never seems to find a balance
I’m jealous too of all who trudge
And seem like rocks to never mind it
I burn with envy at meeting their faces
Which do not change in feature but accept
This world as it is – or seem to do so.
Unpossessed and calm, silent and cool
Never complaining but tossing it off as a joke.

(34)
I saw them on the screen climbing a mountain
I think I’d fall and break a limb at best.
I much admired the hardened, bearded faces
Catching frost without a moan or plea
And was amazed to see one dangle in a bag
Attached by a thread to a face of sheer rock.
I think I’d be quite sleepless there
Without two pillows and you by my side
I think I’d do far better in the valleys
I think I’d rather walk and hold your hand
And trudge the humble sand dunes by the beach
We can look at the cold winter waves
And dare to build a castle in the sand.

(17)

(35)
I hear the rasps, the hums, the buzzes
The clackety noises and the zips
Of urban men repairing buildings
And see the old and greasy faces
Of cut granite turn, as they once were
To shining dignity. The passersby look proud
To scan such busy scenes, to view
This gentle cure and restoration.
I wish, wandering in my winter coat
Dodging traffic, avoiding hungry faces
Such miracles were possible with me
I wish some rasp or polish could
Beneath my battered stones
Reveal what was once my dignity.

(36)
Oh, he has all the parts for such hard work
Look at his hands – well-veined and tough
That one’s a perfect lawyer – he speaks so lucidly
and is never afraid.
Here’s another with the eye of a detective
He seems quite simple, but he’s not
There’s an actor, you can tell
Even the homeliest birds smile back at him
And here’s the perfect criminal who never will
get caught:
He looks like everybody else.
Finally a young banker – you can tell his pace
He knows the exact address of every bank
I grin or weep or just gesticulate
They can’t quite tell where to place me
Not quite a madman, but unsuited for any job.

(18)

(37)
This man takes his welcome mat inside
That one seeks in court another name
Here’s one who builds a fence just to protect
His property from strangers while that man
Is always running secretively from town to town
A lady here will buy a pretty face
To win another set of friends while he
Thinks bushes and another coat of paint
Will raise the value of his property.
Yet all of these whose petty sins
Would raise an eyebrow in another time
Will find it in their right to shout at me
To cease my endless childish games.

(38)
Do mermaids mate with seahorses-
Do they do beneath the sea?
Entwining themselves with deep-sea fronds
Dancing together under the silent waves?
Do mermaids mingle with the drowned
and call
For seahorses to come rescue them?
Nestling themselves between pale rocks
Fanning themselves with the lovely fronds
Do seahorses listen for the call of mermaids
And do they battle pressured seas
To seek the lovely voices that have called them?
Do they do beneath the sea
Entwining themselves with the deep sea fronds
Can you see them underneath the waves?

(19)

(39)
I almost drowned but when I saw
The over-friendly sea bass and the smiling octopus
And when I felt the touch of small electric fish
In my hair I also heard the sound of mermaids
And could see them floating limpidly
Among the drowned. … I do not know
How long I stayed there but quickly
I began to clutch the seaweed fronds
And kicked against the heavy water
Until I found myself clutching on dry sand
My sides were torn and I saw my hands
covered with small craters
Red impressions of the rocks below.
(40)
When we went down to the harbor my friend
Showed me a ship – I gaped at the sheer size of it.
And then, pointing to one side, he
Pointed out another ship twice its size.
He let me ponder all this change of scale
and then
Touched me once again to show
A third vessel, twice the size of the last.
This one was awesome: there was room aboard
For most of a busy city, I think
Its crew alone was large as the army of Sweden.
Smaller boats scurried back and forth
Between the shore and it like messengers.
I think of all the grand ships that I saw
I much preferred my own
The little boat where I’d be master: on all
others I would only serve.

(20)

(41)
One day this same friend brought me to
A house upon a hill, hidden by brass gates
From the popular view: there were columns
And away from the columns you could see
Vast stretching lands with horses
Which stopped only at a distant stretch of beach.
It took him time to pull me from the horses-
These were supreme – to lead me into the house
Where he displayed some works of art
Of many centuries, from France and Italy
Where, in the dining room, a foreign servant
Served us steak, wine and cigarettes
We played a long and vicious game of chess:
I won
He jumped up at this result – his beautiful
features twisted with rage.

(42)
My friend brought me to the city
Where he showed me an apartment larger than
Any you had seen. There were more rooms
inside-
And this was an expensive part of town –
Than one could readily count. The servant’s quarters
Alone the equal of a sizeable house.
My whole fortune would not do to pay
The monthly costs of one small part of it.
One of the many servants brought for us
Caviar, cheese and wine upon a silver tray
Everyone seemed calm and smiled except for
my companion
Who teased them brutally and was kind by turns
He so embarrassed me in these displays
I left, preferring the sweet chaos of the streets below.

(21)

(43)
The eyes of all men I see turned
To their own business. And some search
For money in the possibility of smiles.
The eyes of well-dressed men maintain
Their forward dignity – I see they are without
a revealing mark
Lieutenants and colonels – the generals hide-
You only see them in newspaper photographs.
Is it my fate only to seek
For fame or fortune in such eyes
Is that what was planned or fated from above?
That eyes all filled with dreams and passion
Should turn so cold and hard
To face these wealthy urban faces
Or else grow mad and fade, now just irrelevant?

(44)
I do not seek to impose my thin order
Upon this plump world: let it be.
I eat but do not long to feast,
Have appetite but not enough to gain in size.
And of all the dishes on the menu, I choose
Only what I like, and in small quantities.
My rules are not your rules: that is well.
I’ll follow you to restaurants and we’ll fill
Our bellies – yours large, mine somewhat less
grand, with food.
And though you are kind and generous
I do not hunger much more than I say
But while we eat I claim the right
To ask you questions and to hear
All the stories and the thoughts you liked the best.

(22)

(45)
Let’s play a game of catch: here is a globe
It plays this game with us.
Why not? No sacrilege or scorn is meant
But I like to toss that bright blue ball
And best of all with you.
It kisses the air: if you look close
You’ll see a spinning Africa or Spain
An orange China, green America
And if not, just one blue and orange whir
Careful not to strike the furniture.
Only a friendly game of cath – it’s not
our power
To do much more – looking at it this way
Just a game of catch between us
As we toss it through the air.

(46)
I sit next to the madmen in the station
When others leave in fright:
Why not? They’re not that much unlike ourselves
Except perhaps we’re better dressed
And they have no appointments save with God.
Indeed – they’re too much like ourselves!
They sit and talk not to each other not to us
But to the people whom you’ve never seen
The boss who fired me, a father who broke
a dream
A judge who was unjust or a mother
Who had the evil will to die before her time.
I think I study them – they study me
And we each approve of what we see
Until I wave and leave to catch my train.

(23)

(47)
I’m tired of all experiments – they are in vain
They don’t reveal a thing of what I feel
I’m never sure when I am doing them
Whether it is myself or nature I reveal.
I’m sick to death of all astrology
It also does not coincide with what I know
And though the bulky lore of planets and of signs
Will sometimes tell a bit of truth
I find it does not hold my interest long
I can always spot a clever lie
I’m tired of all the games of chance
Freely offered in the street
I don’t despise the colorful flash of cards
But am no fool for games I’d always lose.

(48)
All is insecure – the market soars
And no man I’ve met can claim to understand
It falls and all are quick to answer or to blame
Though nothing of what is said seems simply true.
A kingdom we thought firm collapses
After a time and men guess or praise
But none can quite explain the change
Dead nations arise and strongest currencies decline.
Ancient enemies make commitments to each other
And how they are broken none can explain.
All study the signs and causes of our progress
But the forms it takes are always unforeseen.
So many promises unmet, dreams corrupted
The fire which started in the smallest town
Burns cities or reveals new lands.

(24)

(49)
The princes of the city are all broken
They dress in raincoats and puff cigarettes
The songful birds are seldom tuneful
They’re more like huntresses, you know
I’ve met the playful children but they’re nervous
They wear the garb of everything they’re not
The players on strings have all turned nasty
They dress for murder – can’t you see?
And all below them it revolves
It madly turns – an overblown circus.
The clowns abuse each other joyfully
While two stuntmen, standing high on stilts
Will form a comic businessman – look at the
huge cigar!
See the dancer keep her balance on the strongman’s head!

(50)
The clowns are harmless, Melanie.
See how the exploding bullets are all unreal.
The man on the trapeze is safe and cannot fall
Even the fat lady is quite stuffed.
Dear, the circus master does not mean to shout
But above that noise what human could be heard?
Let’s go, my brave Goddaughter, we shall go
To greener parks – I’ll let you play
With other children and if you want
You can sleep soundly on my chest.
I’ll read aloud the papers or cartoons
And if you want I’ll write a song
And play it for you on my new guitar.
Let’s go, my brave Goddaughter, we shall go.

(25)

(51)
Oh I am just your neighbor – I am down
The hall from you. The number here is different
But the rooms are much the same.
When the elevator is not working
Both of us will suffer.
When the landlord in his infinite wisdom
Decides to raise the already burdensome rent
We both will have to pay or leave or strike.
I am young and plan on family
Some of my habits are good, some not
I will not harm you or do anything
Which might upset your separate life.
Upon this day, let’s make a truce
If not friends, let us be neighbors.

(52)
When these words ‘what pleases him’
Are as important to your mind as ‘does he please me’
Then all my locks will be withdrawn
And I will gladly render up the keys.
I will not show you how to do this task
And would much prefer your secrecy-
Some things I would never want to know.
Nor will I p lay the spy, ears glued to the wall
Nor peruse your mail, nor question your each word.
You’ll know when you have done the job
You’ll see it as my features change
What was once iciest glacier
Will be your warm and private pond.

(26)

(53)
Seek to maintain the candle’s light
As others might maintain a car
It’s your possession but like all things
Time wears it down. It’s yours and yours alone.
Some might love the glow, others criticize it
Still others might back off – these love the dark
Not everyone deserves the bright display.
The light won’t last forever
Nor will it burn out readily
But , taken care of, might endure your life.
When the candle’s light diminishes it is sad
As accidents with cars are sad. Don’t fear.
It’s your possession but time wears it down.

(54)
Only an every music playing loud
Only an every song
Only an every sound both harsh and strong
Only a sound of wood of brass of strings
Only an every ordinary tune
Only a rush of words of silences
Only an every melody
Only a sound of steel of skin of ivory
Only a drum a thump a clash
Only an every music playing loud
Only an every song
Only the melodies of heaven and of earth
Only the thumping tunes
Only the sad whispers of a violin.

(27)

(55)
To be well-liked, to like, sometimes to love
To be well-clad, to enjoy the look of others
To live with interest, to be curious, to maintain
What spark one has, to entertain
To guard one’s heart and mind from fraud
To guard one’s property as well
To achieve a measure of success, to win sometimes
But not to hope for always. To keep one’s tools clean
And in working order. To keep
One’s family safe and free from harm or worry
To seek for satisfaction
In large things and small
To be a cheerful skeptic in all things.

(56)
I’d like to co-exist with redwoods
To site among them and to honor them
With pen, with brush and with my eyes
I’d like , walking silently among them
Freed for a time of all responsibility
To absorb the dreams of redwoods
To touch them and become
In some of my substance like them
Hoping they could stir that seed in me
Which doesn’t grow a redwood but a man
Whole, confident, relaxed and strong.
To stay there for a time
And to return, but larger than I was
Patient and prepared to co-exist.

(28)

(57)
While some were searching in the sand for
Dollars buried, I found a starfish
Sitting there on top of it: each
Sought his pleasure, I did not dream
Of treasures on the beach but simply liked
The look of sand, the mild summer wind
The glint of sun on browning bodies
And finding this one souvenir pleased me
As much as anything ever could.
It seemed quite odd that other seekers
Whom I thought should also be content
With what they found – with their own destinations
Were jealous of my humble starfish:
Each sought to grab it from my hand.

(58)
You’d be just as happy with black and white
As with a thousand colors, my grey tool
Nor do you desire to order or command
But only serve my purpose as any other man’s.
A joke or tragic story will leave you icy as ever
You desire no change at all but are easily
Adaptable – I’ll twist you and mold you
With my fingernail. I’ll order you to be
Anything I want you to be, my flexible friend.
And if you do not serve me , there are always other models.
Time and need wear you out quickly
Although in execution you are tireless.
I’ll allow you to remain here but as a student
Which dutifully copies the lessons of a nobler mind.

(29)

(59)
Somehow, somewhere you adjust your space
To share with others, go gently forwards
Making small talk, playing cards
Inside the train which takes you to the public space
That’s not so bad if you’re protected and are small
And maybe not so bad if you are wholly real
And strong and if you are not
One small step can set the whole thing wrong.
I am no superman, though I have seen
Since childhood him flying on a screen
And Michelangelo is long since gone, no chapels
Really left to paint: the women say now that he was
Bisexual, and if you’re an artist, keep it small.

(60)
It is easy in the suburb or the city
To make some progress: only a few of the gifted,
The very ill or the stupid
Make no progress in a world that’s not so bad
But merely, even in it’s largeness, small:
Behind my plastic features I am four or fifty,
Quite dead sometimes, sometimes not there at all
But nobody will mind if you do your job
Quietly and completely.

(30)

(61)
Everything is legal except illegal drugs
If you’re at all a modern man, you try
Everything once, not necessarily twice
And after proper treatment, feel quite good
If only very small: the women send you
Silly valentines you pin up on your office wall;
They do not grasp your vain attempt
At growth, how to be bigger in a world
of the small?
I saw upon the screen a film about bigness:
A child who gets adulthood in a day through wishes
And thus succeeds in business
Where top executives just play with toys.
He wishes for and gets his childhood back:
I thought that it was me, not him at all.

(62)
I give my earnings to the banker crab
Who does not care from whence they came
He hides my currency in clamshells white
And adds each day a calculated coin or two.
Each time I travel I now see my banker crab
And eke my savings for my pleasure tours
In foreign lands, where he has translated my cash
Into the local coinage. I return and can’t complain:
Bad currency drives out the good and he
Anonymous will serve my interest.
In modern times, therefore, I think I’m blessed.
My banker crab, I’ve found, and all his friends
Convene in finest restaurants where they
Decide most global matters in words I do not
Understand: something pushes them – I stay.

(31)

(63)
I went like a good citizen to the doctor’s door
And said there was something wrong with my head:
He straightened it. I asked,
For some odd reason, what he loved
He shrugged and said he liked the pretty
Black girl in the waiting room:
I left and found myself in endless gloom.
I’ve asked since then if others had
Grave problems of the head
Some said they had but half of one, some
Claimed to have two, others boasted of four:
If some have four, I can’t complain
Of having one that’s loosely screwed on tight:
Just take your medicine and everything will be all right.

(64)
They say that my moods swing up and down:
I say that there are times when I wilt
And times when I bloom somewhat a flower
You’d keep on a desk inside your office
Except that this one blooms and wilts
But does not really (ever?) die.
Most avoid me when I wilt but when I bloom
They come and ask me why did you wilt
And why is it that you are blooming now?
(I wonder why they don’t seem much to wilt or bloom)
I say- I heard a wonderful or a horrible
Story, or that I did something wrong or saw
A wrongdoing unreported: most merely verbal or
Behind the scenes, never making the evening news.

(32)

(65)
They tell me that I am foolish, not to listen
To the currents and the movements and
The stories quite invisible to most. Perhaps
They mean to say I should
Like the fellow sitting next to me, dressed
In a grey suit (mine is blue)
And about my age: pay more attention
To the balance sheet or corporate report
Which he is holding in his lap, I think:
He could be pondering the stars or Michelangelo
(although I doubt it). I think back now
To carefree student days abroad, of simple
Picnics on the grass, rose d’anjou, some Camembert
A pineapple from South Africa, good conversation.

(66)
There is some sweetness in the sourest grapes,
A clever fox will learn to find it;
For every fox will make his own mistakes
It’s best to learn just not to mind it;
As every rosebush has its share of thorns,
It’s best to learn just not to fear them.
For prickles keep them safe from harm
Amid the swarms who go too near them.
Do not the brown bears always get stung
When searching hidden hives for honey-
Upon their faces, paws and tongue?
Such is it with both love and money.
We wince at such adventures when we’re young
In later years it seems quite funny.

(33)

(67)
Sometimes it is lust for life,
Sometimes, well, just lust for lust:
There are projects one might do
Which make the strongest egos bust-
Understood I guess by few..
Some will say, just trust thyself
Most of these get far more pelf
Than I have up till now received:
Are those folks with more or less
Than you always to be believed?
Yes, I spent some years annoyed
With the likes of Jung and Freud:
Now I gasp with final breath:
Here’s the weekend: TGIF!

(68)
Therapists threw the book at me
Including diagnoses not mentioned in their book
While those of more tradition mentioned sin
Regarding every minor step I took.
When bones I’d broken I did not complain
But what’s to say when every thought is pain?
Alas, that is a common thing, my doctor said
Then tells me somewhat sadly of her woes.
Of course in all of this I’ve been the poet-schnook
So ignorant of life’s eddies and life’s flows
Or else some odd eccentric who mistook
His private quirks for all that’s normal, good or real.
I’m grateful to my friends both crude and elegant
Whose verdict is, I simply was intelligent.

(34)

(69)
Who on this earth has not his dirty laundry?
Who is to say that mine’s beyond compare?
I find myself befuddled, in a quandary
And think of sins which are and aren’t there.
For yesterday I had put on a dress shirt.
Despite this May’s precocious summer’s heat.
I couldn’t find a single blasted T-shirt~
And all could see I’d sunk to dark defeat;
For I was far too lazy with my laundry
Which rises like the Alps beyond my bed-
I think today I’ll wash some of this mountain
Or maybe I should take a nap instead?
Perhaps it’s such with every human madness-
The line is thing between the joy and sadness.

(70)
Five hundred or so excellent explanations
Is mainly what I learned in all my college
Concerning what they call these days relations
About that stuff that most of us call knowledge;
Five hundred or so quite coherent theories
Regarding what is real and good and true
Which in my mind form endless sets or series
That progress from the ancient to the new
Or go from things quite real to those abstract
And back to stuff that’s hideously real
But then..I’ve learned a bit of tact
For most of us must make some sort of deal-
It seems in this or any other latitude
The experts stamp your life with some old platitude.

(35)

(71)
The moving finger wrote and having writ moved on
But I grew rather tired of it…
Having also floundered in my time and fallen into s***;
Likewise yon Raven immortalized by Poe
May haunt us poets where’re we go…
But even IF April really is the cruellest month
Actually September might not be so bad;
And though I live in Levittown, not Cambridge
Or New York, I do not think I’ll die of it!
So most literate reader, you may perceive
The dues I’ve paid, perhaps my right to sigh
But over coffee (decaf), some pocket money, a friend
Or two, I mostly want to laugh and not lament
The Business of Modern Life, that it to say
“How sweet it is” at the Romantic Bean. *

(72)
“We’ll Take Good Care of You” the letters say
The windows of the drugstore still quite dark
Another small-town scene at break of day
The cars that whiz right by don’t stop or park.
I sit here restless in a diner’s booth
And sip my coffee with a nervous mind
My thoughts are racing like those morning cars
Although I’ve left that frantic life behind.
The World still calling that it’s time to work
Some time-clock lecturing my lazy brain:
“The World is place for boss, mechanic, clerk
And we’ve not time at all for special pain.”
The letters say “We’ll Take Good Care of You”
I hope these sentiments prove somewhat true.

(36)

(73)
I sit an island in this booth for four
But at this time of day they do not mind
The World calls out, “What are you waiting for,
Are you to gentle dreaming just resigned?”
I half reply that there are better things
One might with no small effort really do
Between the force and matter of this world
There should be room for inspiration too.
The World then smiles and says, “You’ve made mistakes.
Perhaps this time we’ll simply let you be:
Go write your poems and so avoid disgrace
But spare us too much private misery.”
The jukebox now sighs out a lullaby
Against the flow of traffic zooming by.

(74)
And now I sit here at my daily job
Late morning with grey skies quite overcast
Unshaven, slightly ‘off’, I feel a slob…
And think of decadents who did not last…
And here they pay me for my precious poems
(Although they pay me really by the hour)
I look around and see the squinting domes
Of others here both hot and nervous, sour.
When it strikes noon or so I go to lunch
And contemplate the long and busy street
The clever names of each adjacent store,
The life which spread itself against defeat,
I’d love to lounge a month with Petrarch’s verse
But here I’m curious – is that blessing or a curse?

(37)

(75)
The World I think in ways always the same
Although you see the Empires rise and fall
And hear those once praised receive just blame
While those who once had nothing have it all;
They know a poet by his intense look
And thoughts beyond the daily, timely care;
Somewhere, someplace, they’d read it in a book
And know that there are always poets there;
They know and hope in silent thought or prayer
Such lovely creatures find some way to live
And though they sometimes do not seem to care
Their memory is not just a mere sieve:
And therefore have I enough faith to say
I face like everyone my simple working day.

(76)
Say you had a friend, another “average” chap
And since you too were “average” who would care
About the details of your daily flap
Or if some genius stuff were lurking there?
You’d go about your business like another man
And most of this of course is “average” stuff
Who cares what started “it”, when “it” began
For life is known to be a little rough;
Your “average” friend he would not heed the press
Of those who think you great or think you bad
Between the two of you a private mess
Is something fine, both happy and quite sad.
One trusts your “average” friend no gossip will disburse:
The world’s celebrity both blessing and a curse.

(38)

(77)
Some twenty years ago with friends I now don’t see
I escalated to those massive silver heights
And perching there we had a fine and pleasant meal
While gaping broadly at the miles of city lights
But now this place is broken heaps of ash and slag
Sad relic of a hatred’s fearsome blow
These eyes, my sick soul’s windows, peer through
shattered glass
I do no longer notice where I go.
Here are we guilty or just misperceived ,
A victim or our innocence or pride?
Proud Liberty stands torch-raised in the harbor near
A beacon of Idea across the sky.
Awake, ye angry masses, hungry, pained and tired
Our strength here lies in our diversity.

(78)
Annoyances of documents clot my narrow desk
As morn recall’s the evening’s tales of misery
If action is not quick, real horror will accrue
I clutch the tattered threads of my small sanity.
Outside my office window, the sky is baby blue
I see the bricks, the steel, the bold urbanity.
Things happen as they will and there’s little I can do
I hide myself in work or brief inanity;
Are answers to our plight just accessible by few
Or is this just my lifelong case of vanity?
Above this office place it is white clouds against the blue
Sweet ceiling for our burgeoning humanity;
Somehow while on this earth I may have loved you
Or was this all some sick though sweet insanity?

(39)

ASSORTED OTHER POEMS
A Good Bad Woman is Hard to Find
Some are so good at being good
That most about them is quite sad
Some are so bad at being bad
That it could drive a sane man mad:
But then I find what soothes my mind
A good bad woman is hard to find;
And some are victims of the rules
Declared by antique-fashioned schools
While others growl about their power
In ways which turns my kindness sour:
But then I find what soothes my mind
A good bad woman is hard to find;
And here I do not claim to know
The inmost secrets of those hearts
Although a few will tell me so
When I discern some private parts:
Well, I do love what soothes my mind
A good bad woman is hard to find;
And here the few I lost the most
Do know the struggle that is love
And do not mind my sometime boast
Or scorn my sigh of broken heart:
Well, I sing not what soothes my mind
A good bad woman is hard to find.

(40)

Pass The Scotch Bro’
Pass the Scotch bro’ I am sad
When brothers fight and end up mad
For when that fluid’s in my veins
The bitterness just turns to glad;
Pass the Scotch bro’ life is hard
And folks sometimes can’t understand
Why things that are of simple truth
Are in some places rightly banned;
Pass the Scotch bro’ though it’s rare
That all will see just eye-to-eye
But when the poets can rejoice
Methinks it makes the angels sigh;
Pass the Scotch bro’ war is war
And who starts what not really clear
Perhaps I should have been a Saint
But like yourselves did end up here;
Pass the Scotch bro’ love is love
And it is that throughout all time
We lead a life not always good
But touch the stars with our sweet rhyme.

(41)

I Dance With Grace
I dance with Grace
Once called Disgrace
Perhaps too tall
But pretty face!
And feel quite warm
There arm in arm
Midst nothing
That would do us harm.
The rush of words
Just printed words
Two voices
Out in cyberspace:
And it was light
Despite the dark
An early Spring
In frozen park;
And tender buds
Did upward turn;
The rising up
Of rose and fern;
I dance with Grace
Once called Disgrace
Though this was just
In Cyberspace.
Next week we dance
Upon the earth
And then we shall
Ourselves embrace.

(42)

A Simple Poem
summer winter spring and fall
there is sadness in us all
winter summer fall and spring
joy there is in everything

spring and winter fall and summer
i am just another strummer
summer spring and fall and winter
take the chapbooks to the printer!
thus i mark each single week
both quite common and unique
so i count each passing day
with my comforts and dismay;
alas such gentle bitter truth
of youngest age and oldest youth!
summer winter spring and fall
there is gladness in us all
winter summer fall and spring
pain there is in everything.

(43)

Philosophical Poem
It’s really hard to stop or go
When things are marginally so;
And if they’re only relative
Then how does one forget, forgive?
I know that some say absolute-
Some angels these, some merely brute;
I merely write my daily poems
Too tongue-tied to sound more astute.
It’s really hard to think or speak
Amidst the storm of words each week;
What’s fact or fiction, simply true
Is this all just some point of view?
The gears of my poor brain revolve
Around such problems I can’t solve;
I merely write my daily poems
Too silly for most learned tomes.
It’s really hard to know what’s real
When some say think and others feel!
It’s clear this chair is just a chair
But who would best be sitting there?
Who won, who lost and what is what
I ask but all the answers cut;
I merely write my daily verse
A gift half wonder and half curse.
It’s hard to know just what to do
When it’s not quite clear who is who ;
I’m still not sure of right and wrong
And how those link to weak and strong;
I’ve worked at many part-time jobs
For graduates and average slobs;
And helpless now I point above:
It could be God, or Truth or Love.
It’s hard to know just who to be
My torment though I comfort thee;
I was the playful laughing boy
And grasp now at my shards of joy;

(44)

(Philosophical Poem cont.)
Is largeness of the heart or mind
Beyond the ken of mortal kind?
I hide myself or scan the news:
Life’ s offer which one can’t refuse.
It’s hard to know just what to wear
Should I fit in and be a square?
I’m free to buy most anything
To wear in winter, summer, spring;
Alas my grey locks are a curse
But dying them seems so much worse
I reach now for the greater good
Though noonish notions just say “food…!”

(45)

Business Proposition
Amid the crabgrass, ragweed, burrs,
The crabapples, poison ivy and the ferns,
The robins, seagulls, raucous crows,
The native cats and dogs
Or those which trespass here;
The squirrels, the chipmunks,
The nasty flying insect creatures
Which lack some ordinary name;
The ants and spiders, lady bugs, the bees
And of course the human neighbors too
Doing for good as well as bad
The things which neighbors always do.
I also indicate the purple lilacs
Lovely in their early bloom-
Although no words describe
These tender scents
The collage of sounds,
Associations…
And dream about
A Theater of Everything
Upon a matchbox stage:
Wouldn’t you?

One Comment
  1. A To Do List (april 2014)

    It is a universal thing
    All people have their lists
    Of chores that they must do each day
    Or dates not to be missed.
    Of what stuff they should throw away
    And what things they should keep
    And who’s been hero to “us” all
    And who has been a creep.

    It is a universal thing
    All people have their lists
    Which Things are rated Important
    And which we do ignore
    And what we all should believe
    And what we should abhor
    And who deserved the most or least
    Or who was worst or best.

    It is a universal thing
    We all make up our lists
    Of who to treat with fine kid gloves
    And who beat up with fists
    And when we should apologize
    And when we should stand firm
    And when we should tell “little lies”
    Or try not to discern.

    It is a universal thing
    We all make up our lists
    And some of these are clear as day
    And some seldom seen
    And some of them angelic stuff
    And some demonic mean
    This is the way of all the world
    Both dirty and the clean

    It is a universal thing
    We all make up our lists
    Of whom to reward with a Prize
    And who would not be Missed
    Well now amidst Antagonists
    No wise man could ignore
    I’ll hide myself and sleep it off
    And put off any more.

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