Saturday, June 28, 2008

I have never understood

how they could
stand in the wistful daylight,
their heartbreaking young faces
overflowing with courage and strength,
their eyes filled with longing
for glorious annihilation,
and tie the sacred scarf
around their heads,
climb into
the flying funeral urns
and hurl themselves
at the other brave young men
in the hopes of reversing
the foregone verdict.
If there really were a hell
its deepest and cruelest recesses
would be filled with all those
who have convinced
the young men
of a thousand eras
that their greatest task
was not to grow into
honorable old age,
but rather that the
zenith of nobility
was for them to throw their
shredded, severed guts
into the endless river
of squandered human
for the sake of battles
that no amount of
priceless young lives
could ever be

They stood there

in the fading daylight
of the Burnt Over District,
weeping the most disbelieving
tears ever wrung from human
eyes, while the laughing
mockery of their neighbors
still burned in their ears.
"What, not gone up yet? Wife didn't leave
you here to burn, did she?"
Brother William wept more bitterly
than all the rest.
He had counted
the twenty-three hundred weeks
so carefully; how could He not
have come with a shout
and ushered His flock
to Eternal Life?
Many shook their heads
at the spectacle, and concluded
that some people just didn't
know how to read the signs and
Scriptures accurately.
Didn't they know the End of Days
wouldn't be arriving for at least
five more years?

He gazes at the old pictures

in the dusty history text
and sometimes he wants
to jump into them
and see for himself the
crimson aftermath of
Antietam, even at the risk
of destroying the last remnants
of his childish romance
with that distant carnage.
He wants to
rub shoulders with the Hasidim
on the sidewalks
of 1900 New York,
to smell the stench
of the horse-infested streets,
and to know that these people
were real, that the day
in which they lived
was as physical and as warm-blooded
as his is.
He wants to feel the breeze
coming off of San Francisco Bay
on that day in 1890 when the town
was still raw and pulsing
with the energy of naked money lust
and thick-muscled power.
It's all right there,
if only he could plunge into them
and look around for a while.
The only condition he asks for is for
the portal to stay open long enough
for him to grab the edge of his desk
and pull himself back into
the 3-D cinema
of right now;
he wants only to be a visitor,
not the guy standing
second from the left
for someone else
to wonder about.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In those scenes

I always handle it better.
I always face down the idiots
and drown out the frenzied
with my outraged roar.
I always show the stern face
of hoplite courage
and I never cower
in helplessness.
I always have so much
easy confidence,
and adulation for my
shining performance
washes over me
in iridescent waves.
And she's always there
for me in wicked passion,
left in happy exhaustion by my
matchless abilities.
There is only love,
The scripts all have
Frank Capra endings
and the man basking
in the screen writer's
sugared sentimentality
is always Our Hero, The Kid,
The Man, The Winner.
Too bad the actual film
was ad-libbed
from start
to finish.
I could have been
a star.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

He walked out into

the tingling air
and ripped the top of
his own skull off, laughing
at his presumption.
A Pandora's box of raving
lunatics erupted from his
brazenly open cranium, only
to wither in the heat of the
lounging day.
He sat comfortably on
the pock-marked battleground
and looked around it
with unaccustomed calm
as the Harpies died their
unmourned deaths.
An enigmatic smile crossed
his face, and he could almost sense
the soft-focused
Florentine countryside
framing him.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

He had seen many hunts

and met the shivering test
of many winters.
Now, he had crossed over
to the New Land, and
many heavy tasks
had to be borne.
His woman understood why
she could not come into
the Cave of Dreams,
and stood in brave sorrow
at its mouth.
His kinsmen bore him in
and carefully arranged his
no longer stiffened body
in its intimate crouch.
The shaman ordered the
traveling brother's head
pointed toward the north,
and around the Traveler
was arrayed a tender ring
of magical flowers,
to delight him and guide him
safely to the other realm.
A spear was placed in his hands,
the men offered him good wishes
and they solemnly ordered him
not to kill all the deer
before they could join him.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I don't believe in

the mythology of fate,
the predetermined script
held in the hands of those
to whom the gods themselves
bow in helplessness.
But I am glad nonetheless
that the churning Universe
created us in its blind
and allowed me the privilege
of meeting the woman in the
quilted coat on that dreary
February night,
an event that changed
the biography of one
individual from the story of
withered pipe dreams
and dark loathing to
one where the light
of fragile hope was again
reborn, and a chance at
miraculously resurrected.

It does no good

to think that you know
when in fact it will
always be a mystery novel
with chapters missing
and characters appearing
with deus ex machina
The best you can hope for
is to sign the armistice
and to find your place
in the arms of those
who have forgiven your
as you have forgiven

They wrap around me

like invisible spider silk,
encompassing my being
with more threads than
I can possibly know
or even hope to count.
They were spun 
in the separation of gravity
from the rest of the birth process.
They were spun in the RNA world.
They were spun by the spike-furred
little animal that retreated, terrified,
into the trees to escape the
carnivorous wrath of the saurians.
They were spun by the hungry woman
using her lousy spine to stand up in
the tall grass.
They were spun by the tribes making
epic journeys through
landscapes of sun-blasted cruelty
and ice-stormed
They were spun by
desperate men and women
casting away
all they had known
and running to embrace
glittering promises.
And they are now spun by
multitudes of strangers
from every landscape
ever known
and every time ever experienced,
and I spin my own web for them,
(although neither of us knows it),
and they are just as entangled in my
blind struggles
as I am in theirs.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In the present

they flood me
with great, windshield-paralyzing
sheets of words and blinding walls
of imagery,
so I push down the corridor
and the flood diminishes somewhat
but still roars at me at near-gale
So I push
farther and the torrent seems to
settle down some more,
and I need my searchlight
as I head into the
darker reaches.
In those nether regions the
voices dwindle to a few,
(though sometimes astonishing
choruses sing at me in brief
and I have to take their word
for what I'm seeing.
And farther back there are only
shredded paragraphs,
then disembodied sentences,
then words floating like
and then all is silence
with only bones and
shattered pottery
lying about in

I listened

to both of them
speaking to me
through the veil
of the darkening years,
their words pinning me
helplessly to the ground.
He had witnessed his family
taken in the selection,
and later
rained down upon him
in gray ash.
And the One Whose Name
Must Never Be Spoken had ceased
to exist at that moment.
She stood at the gates of Birkenau
with tears of gratitude in her
joyous eyes, feeling an
overwhelming closeness
to Him, and knowing for the
first time how the Lawgiver
had felt seeing that which
was beyond sight.
And I realized
in hearing them
that there were arguments
in which I had no right
under heaven and earth
to say anything.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Its cathedrals are not

the product of leaden,
patient devotion,
but rather were
brought forth
by the unconscious,
multi-million year
of an island's
birth pangs.
Its spires loom
with unperturbed
and in its
impossible cliffsides,
myriad valleys, and
sudden, darkened
sea caves
can be found
the refutation
of all that is
and the reward
for patient

(In honor of the Na Pali Coast)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Three Haikus (Roku)

Pictures of old days
wrap their fingers around me.
I hear faint echoes.

A darting gecko
seeks protection in our home;
Kane shelters it.

We bid fond goodnight;
we embrace with practiced love;
we are one spirit.

He spoke a language

descended from the tongue
of Cicero and Ovid,
and he stepped ashore
on the sweltering beach,
clad in a sweat-drenched
dark cassock, wearing
his savior's tortured body
around his neck, and
marveling at the alien landscape's
ferocious greenery.
The rough men were bringing
the tools of conquest off the
ships, and
a group of luckless
donkeys had been landed
to carry the
shining excrement of the pillage
to come.
The man the others
called Father asked if he could
borrow one of the animals
to explore.
"Bring it back alive" was the blunt reply,
and together the tired servant
and his temporary master set out.
Clutching his magic beads and
murmuring appeals
to the ominous heavens,
the holy man and his mindless
companion pushed into
the tangles of foliage for
more than half an hour.
With a start, they came upon
a group of men as naked as
Adam before the Fall, and for
a moment that spanned centuries,
they stared at each other with
frozen amazement.
Seeing the living embodiment
of their legends in front of them,
the reddish bronze men fell to
the earth prostrate, and chanted
their humble welcome.
"God has delivered me", the rider said
in a barely audible rapture, and he
knew that the New Jerusalem
could not be far.
And holding his head high,
with the Divine Countenance itself
reflected on his face,
he rode the starved little donkey
toward those whom he would
baptize into the Kingdom,
and the bare-skinned welcomers
leading them
quivered with anticipation
at introducing the centaur-god
to their soon to be enlightened
brothers and sisters.

They are never confronted

with comfortable dilemmas
or too many options.
They have only one choice--
to get up and crush the
vertebrae of their backs
into dust to have enough
to swallow each night
so that they can rise,
and ignore the complaints
flooding in from every part
of their pack animal bodies,
and repeat the process
when they are no longer able
to bend wizened hands to the
they are thrown onto the pyre
to be mourned and wept over
in the interval between

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It quietly branched out

and linked
and created
a fine-meshed
net, day after day,
until, finally,
like an old television set
fading into view,
from it
the first,
primordial image,
as remote now as
the caves at Lascaux.
It is an anxious woman
with a soothing voice,
reassuring the sick
little boy
in the
strange setting
of the hospital room.
Is he summoning it
from the recesses
of soft-edged time,
or is it merely a legend
recalled from an early
hearing around the

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

She sings

into the blueness
and her voice is heard
by no one,
only the scurrying,
Her song is like
none other ever
or imagined,
an impossible
that she will never
sing again,
nor even be able
to remember.
Its reality will die out
with the last note,
to remain
forever unknown,
but part of the

Monday, June 9, 2008

"We'll need salt."

Nodding his assent, the
dour assistant added it
"The soil can't be too
heavy with clay" the first
one said, superfluously,
as No. 2 was already
selecting the dirt
with rigorous care.
"Add the water slowly",
was the next command.
The able partner poured it
"The trace ingredients will
be a problem."
"I'm on it," the other
replied, never taking his eyes
off the carefully measured
spoons as he added their
After all had been done,
they hit the button and
the glutinous mass was
folded and stirred
The first one said, with
unsettling gravity,
"Now, this is tricky.
You've got to pour it in to
the mold juuuust right."
Beads of sweat dotted
the assistant's forehead as
he carried out the delicate
process with infinite
Relieved that the hard part
was over, they slipped the form
into the waiting oven
to let the heat transform it
In the morning, the two
returned and carefully
freed the figure from
its temporary encasement.
Once the last of the mold
had fallen to the ground,
No. 2 stood in inexplicable
rapture, unable to
tear his eyes away.
Cursing himself, No. 1
said, "I meant to tell you--
don't fall in love with her."
"Too late," No. 2 said,
as the Tigris and Euphrates
coursed down his face.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

She kneaded it

and stretched it,
puzzling over
which shape looked best,
and then tossed it to the boy,
who let it sit
for the longest time
until, fully grown,
he did a body slam
right into the center of it.
The little girl,
picking it up gingerly,
thought that was
how it was supposed to look
until she read a fairy tale
that showed her what a happy ending
she could make out of it.
She thereupon set out
on a multi-decade quest
to reshape it in startling
new ways.
Upon seeing the outcome,
the people of the town
all agreed that this was
how it must have looked
since time immemorial,
until, many years later,
some started to wonder
why it had to be there
at all.
They broke pieces of it off
and rolled them into
amusing little cubes and triangles.
the restless motorcycle gang
stole most of it,
(ignoring the little
cubes and triangles),
and used it
to build their new headquarters.
Age killed the last of them off,
and the really bright kid
who was sorting through their
tattered clubhouse's remains
pounded it into a
wonderful pillar, covered with
beautifully detailed inscriptions,
all describing its eternal
and everlasting

Friday, June 6, 2008

Their sense of being solid

objects is deceptive,
a byproduct of
the rubbery-like blob
they slosh around in.
They are, in fact,
cloud beings,
shape shifting
and billowing
in thrall to unseen
little universes where tiny
jump and race like
children on the first day
of summer vacation.
Within them is the entire
twisted story,
buried in a quivering cap of
cauliflower-shaped gelatin.
They are walking, breathing
metaphor factories,
and the sum total
of everything
that they are
is merely
a Rube Goldberg device,
only with a more serious

He was outdoors,

casually crushing walnuts
between his biceps
and his forearms
when he heard the
With no thought
of his own safety
he crashed
through the plate glass
spraying the room
with savage
bursts from his
pulsating dual Mac-10s.
As the last reverberations
died away he swiveled
his powerful neck toward
the kitchen, strode
over to the stove,
and sent the timer
to HELL where it belonged.

They surround me

on all sides
of the narrow-aisled
waiting patiently
for me
to forget
where I am,
lose focus, or
let my guard down.
They wait for me
to be distracted
or complacent
or tired
or simply confused
so that I'll run into
their razor-sharp
and allow them
to have one of
their cheap
little thrills
at watching me

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

They see the Golden Dome

where the Prophet ascended.
I see the depths of the human will
to believe.
They bow in prayerful rhythm
before the last remains of the
I see a building ruined by
Vespasian's thugs.
They come seeking the place
where He pointed to the
Mount of Olives;
I look for his shadow
but see only tourists.

Monday, June 2, 2008

He is fetal curled around it,

holding it to his midsection
as if
it were a rabid animal
ready to gouge out
his insides
were he to lose control
of it.
No one on the outside
how fantastically lethal
it actually is,
but the daily blood it draws
convinced him
a long time ago.
He will grip it right to the
last moment of his
sad little melodrama;
then, like a decapitated
machine gunner
at Verdun,
he will grip it even