Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Mad Boy Writes Feeble Colors For Love - Some Heft For Dark Times

[Photo by Mario Novak. I have no claims to rights for this photograph. From the book, Croatia, ArtCroatia LLC, 2007, 340 pp., ISBN: 978-0-9798691-0-5 (English). Mario was a friend. Miss him.]

for Mario Novak, d. July 2010

"What thou lovest well remains." - Ezra Pound, Canto 181

But first, to orient, some ground, some Robert Creeley: "As a kid I used to be fascinated by people who, like they say, “traveled light.'...The scene is always this: “What a great thing! To be a writer! Words are something you can carry in your head. You can really 'travel light'...I'm really speaking of my own sense of place. Where “the heart finds rest, ” as Robert Duncan would say. I mean that place where one is open, where a sense of defensiveness or insecurity and all the other complexes of response to place can be finally dropped. Where one feels an intimate association with the ground underfoot...with that crazy water, the trickles of water everyplace, the moisture, the shyness, and the particularity of things like blue jays. I like the rhythms of seasons, and I like the rhythms of a kind of relation to ground that's evident in, say, farmers; and I like time's accumulations of persons...This is a very basic place to live. The dimensions are of such size and of such curious eternity that they embarrass any assumption that man is the totality of all that is significant in life. The area offers a measure of persons that I find very relieving and much more securing to my nature than would be, let's say, the accumulations of men's intentions and exertions in New York City. So locale is both a geographic term and the inner sense of being."
- from a Paris Review Interview, Fall Issue 1968, Issue #44

As I get older, my relationship to ground is problematic. Balance is no longer an assumption that delivers. Is it the room that leans or is it me? My sense of place has never been too pleasantly real or here (but for parentheses happy-enough and for these I am indeed thankful) , and place has been and still is found more in sound, a very early childhood thing, in what I hear by ear or eye when I read. Totem in this my life is the book and it's associated familiars. And now, older than I have ever been, which is a painfully obvious tautology standing long at the urinal waiting, waiting, a poem may arrive more quickly than other flow, poetry has taken on an urgency which orients me, grieves me, and leaves me somewhat in relation to light though I burn the midnight oil to work a poem through the dark, and my eyes can no longer focus...but, it's ground work. Gives some heft, makes some meaning. Still, can't say I have traveled light. Not really. But heart's the better for the journey forced, or freely taken, pockets full of pieces.

Soon be ground myself, though. Hope Creeley's somewhere I can meet him.

from And The Daylight Separated The Mad Boy From His Shadow - Cancion for Garcia Lorca

The mad boy
writes feeble colors
for love
the halt the lame the
mute which within
around which intends
distorts (in your glass
twists takes
traps light to
the mad world
from shadow

we are

thus take our
place with clowns who
know tomatoes thrown
and juggler's (bare necked)
necessary concentration.

You are the maestro here
whom I trail behind at respectful


murdered by the too ordinary

So long

So long to image
to suffer on dear
bruised M the
void of course

o bring me
beauty no matter
how terrible

created by His
own opening
which makes
Him forever
Lorca's girl

"a pomegranate
[a god] biggish and
green and I can't take
her in my arms or
dress her.

Won't she come back?
Why won't she?" [from Lorca]

You, dear, will read
of my heterosexual shadow

a great lover who serenades
Her in the terrible contradiction

of the moon caught
in bare tree-limns/strophes

just outside Her window
the fool below in rouge

head hung, singing

O hurt

heart's tin can
tied to belt loop behind
of his ragged pants


to be filled with
whatever flows

in the dirty lane
he leans his
love against

this asterisk
which contains an aster
is a rose transforming yet again
because it can


has willed it obediently into being
letter by letter, petal by petal
bee-kissed by brazen bees
a clutch of stamens
assassin's ink
out flowing


Are You Hungry? - Poems for Departure

for Karthik, departing

"Who has twisted us like this, so that-
no matter what we do-we have the bearing
of a man going away...so we live,
forever saying farewell." - Rainer Maria Rilke


Out of decibels
out of hearing,
the last sense
to go
sing to me now
before ears take
leave and I shall
have no more need
for words, sounds,
even these my sighs
heard as I hear you
drop the soap in
the bath.

I imagine you bending
vague in the steam to
find the bar by scent
as you wash away
your own which has
so compelled me
again and again
into much life

So gladly the
little deaths
cleave to this
I say aloud
though you may
not hear my plea
in there
from where I sit
bent doubly-over
multiplied with grief
for leaving all this
assumed pre-
sence chalked
now upon crumbling


I wait with this
sense of what
is unfolding just
out of reach,
once familiar
now fogged
with herbal scent
clouding the
bath, my heart
to speak of it


to one side
tilted, to hear
all news of
you that is
left in there
touching the
lucky water.


You emerge
from the bath
reaching for the
towel, soft, obeying
daily habit, wipes you
dry, each cleft, the pit
of my longing rubbed
without caution.

I am caught up in this
vision without glasses
squinting for what is
real or not though you
are faced to mine as I
obediently move my
shaking hand to your
belly, the scar there,
edges still hot
to the touch.


Much there is I will
make of this moment,
drying your back as I
have daily done -

began the rite
first night

gathering now
the last

o when
the towel easily un-
folded, drank

little mouths many

into what
has become
natural in me
with the wiping.

In this
I am become
free now of
thinking intent
to this my task
to last, this minute
or two, to linger,

each is
become a touch
this one.
and this,



I am right now to speak
of this, retrieving the soap
which clings one strand
your hair tangled there,
a cypher I read
with joy grown
long into cleaner


a leaf upon the
bathroom floor
blown in through
the night window
random now
for discovery
a gift

I bring it to
you calling to
me from the
as you pack
fumbled upon
the unmade

Are you hungry?
[Painting by William Hawkins (Self-Taught American artist, 1895-1990) Horse with Yellow Tail Ricco Maresca Gallery, New York]

A coda, this indulgence, verses here from Missive For Darkness As Vocation, William Hawkins In Mind :

I once, your other darkness, quoted Hopkins to you,
'seasons of dryness, ' in the bitter pitched midst
his discovery, 'What I do is me, for that I came, '
not a text for self worship but, rather, an assent
to keep world woe personally felt in that greater
perspective, making poems from orphan woe,
from ever furtive grace which eludes then surprises
in bleakest place, sudden, parses newly in the
greener green of things while pleading still,

'Lord, send my roots rain.'

The shorter light, the extended nights of cold and
star-bright questions, may cast clumsy net forward
into what it all might mean to fretted you, to me,
stretched, though I will not thrust these words any
longer upon your pen or paint but make offering
with thanks for your own work to feed us through
the eyes, perhaps time to mount that Hawkins horse
and soldier on or to fall off again, gain Damascus
perspective yet, from one's back watch vision
distort the massive horse into God receding into
necessary darkness foregoing image in order to
see what may form in the spreading dirt,

what resurrection there is in the smell of paint.

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