speechwritten II

maybe I’m wrong
for being a little bit annoyed
that in your touching tribute
in which you read my words
as if you had written them
you preferred to keep the author
anonymous.

maybe you wanted
to make me mad
because my words taste better
well-seasoned with
fiery rage.

Continue reading speechwritten II

on rereading some of my old poems

wow, those were the days.
I wrote some halfway decent
shite. some of them
were dumb but some were
not at all awful. why is it
that when I try to write
a new one, it always seems
to come out wrong?

I’m out of the habit
of looking at the world
as inspiration for poetry
these days. now I think
more of songs and less
of poetry. my muse has changed
her clothes. she hums
in my ear now instead
of whispering. you’d think
they’re pretty similar –
what are songs if not
poems set to music? –
but to me they aren’t at all
the same. Terpsichore
rules my days now
instead of Euterpe.

dusk in the garden of poetry

listening to poets shaping the air
with their words, everything
starts to feel like a poem;
the tall trees listening like spirits,
their foliage, huge green leaves,
waves like elephant ears
or hands silently clapping,
the answer to the famous zen riddle;
the helicopters that zoom
overhead like oversized bees,
passing so often that everyone
cranes their necks to see them
and poets have to pause
to let their loud intrusions
pass; the tiny mysterious
ceramic figurines peeping out
from a niche in the wall
that looks like it should have
once held a fireplace;
a squirrel that runs across
the telephone wires and then
hangs out for a while, watching
these strange humans engaged
in their weird rituals.

Continue reading dusk in the garden of poetry

the Last Poem

every time I write a poem,
I think to myself, what if this
is the last one I ever write?
eventually one poem
will have to be the last.
I could make this one
the last by refusing
to write another one.
I did that twenty years ago
but then I wrote another. but
what if the Last Poem
isn’t any good? what if
the first poem
I ever wrote was my best,
and it’s all been downhill
ever since? these are the things
that keep me up at night
sometimes.

the agony & the ecstasy

well done. with a single stroke
of your pen, you defused
the bomb in my heart. with kindness
you snuffed out the raging bonfire
burning inside my soul
as if it were but
a guttering candle.

see, the furnace that feeds my art
has only two starters:
the pure immolation of love,
or the furious conflagration
of rage. everything else
is just wet kindling, the dank despair
of smoldering coal
that lurks and murks and smudges
up the air with its stench and
nobody wants to read that shit,
myself least of all.

I can set myself on fire
and burn everything down
in the white hot, purest savagery
of protesting every fiber
of the way things are,
or I can let the delicious agony
of love purify me with
its transcendent ecstasy.
if I had the choice
I know which way
I’d rather burn.

re: our angelic friend

yes, he was drunk, but
our friend Raphael was not
talking nonsense last night
anywhere near as much
as you thought. all the things
he did and said, like getting you to say
you loved him
in front of me
and saying how good it was
to see us “guys” together
in that strange, knowing tone
and telling us to get out of there
with an odd half-smile
and finally when he ranted
about how you needed to
look up at the sky
– from which the rain
was falling in giant
unmistakable drops,
impossible to ignore, like a sign
from heaven – were direct references
to that subject, the one about which
we dare not speak. that’s why
I didn’t tell you about it
after we left him,
because then
we’d have to speak about it.

Continue reading re: our angelic friend

the poet’s eye

for a long time I stopped
thinking of myself as a poet,
calling myself a writer,
or trying to look at the world
through a poet’s eye. many years
went by in silence, blindness
and deliberate unknowing.

but lately
I have revived
my old writing bones,
resurrected my dead poet’s
eye, and now I see things
that before I wouldn’t have
noticed: the restaurant
called Caravan of Dreams;
how the purple blooms
of the pansies planted
outside a building in my neighborhood
look like tiny screaming faces;
the record cover reading,
“Can’t We Just Start Over”
or something like that. I didn’t
write this poem quickly enough
so already I’ve forgotten
the exact wording.

let that be
a lesson to me. practice
seeing like a poet, rehearse
being a writer
until it comes as naturally
as breathing, lest the strange
and beautiful sights and sounds
you’re surrounded by
pass you by.

competition

it’s a contest
that is open for anyone,
but no one else I know
is doing it. nobody is keeping score,
it is you competing
against yourself, and
by the way? you’re winning.
seeing you doing so much
makes me want to try
harder, to do more, to pull out
all the stops, to drive myself
to new heights, and coincidentally
to beat you.

this is just one of the
many ways
you make me want
to be better. to think more
of how I can help others,
and less about myself,
to look for ways to be more
creative, to get up and
go outside
once in a while
before night time,
to use my body and my mind
to express a certain
range of motion, to stretch
and strive and challenge myself
to live, damn it, instead of
accepting my slow death,
the one that I can feel coming
from a long way away
like a tsunami, that makes me want
to lie down in its path
and say sayonara
right now. but
I guess I have plenty of time
to sleep when I’m dead,
and to die when that crushing wave
gets quite a bit closer. to quote
Dorothy Parker, “might as well
live.”