A STRAIN OF LAUGHTER-Poems by Robert Patrick

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Well, we were one,
And now we’re done,
And time to write our history.
Like any love
That’s written of,
It comes out as a mystery.
But what, aside
From love, has died?
A certain strain of laughter?
I get more done.
You get more sun.
Whatever were we after?
******************************
The golden god of stunning strength
Who lifts your spirits higher
Always eventuates at length
To be at least a liar.

The lissome lad you sing to see,
With danger in his dimple,
Unfailingly turns out to be
Sensationally simple.

It isn’t just “What makes us dream?”
It’s more, “What makes us dream so?”
Since men are never what they seem,
Why did they ever seem so?
************************************
The Earth is flat ground
A deity made
Stars circle around
And never fade.
Rigors in youth
Make compassionate men.
Justice and truth
Universally win.
It’s vital I plod,
Manufacturing art,
And you are a god,
And have a heart.
**********************
People writing poems to “you”
Address indifference.
People poems get written to
Are arrogant and dense.

Keats wrote his to Fanny Brawne,
Housman to a swain.
Fanny answered with a yawn,
The swain with, “What? Again?”

Sappho lyricized a lass.
Shakespeare sang an earl.
The lass allowed a boatman’s pass.
The earl met a girl.

Edna signaled either sex,
Dorothy the male.
They both emerged addicted wrecks.
To terminate the tale,

There’s one whose languid loveliness
Left me in debt and doubt.
I’m in here working out the mess.
He’s out there working out.
******************************
That love can die,
That love can fly
Are lessons that amaze,
Which he who leaves
And he who grieves
Perceive in diff’rent ways.

The one who’s left
Bemoans, bereft,
How vuln’rable he is.
The one who goes
Forever knows
What hid’ous power is his.
*********************************
Lad, with old songs beguile me,
Then sit astounded while
Glad songs with tears defile me,
And sad songs make me smile.

The glad songs were betrayed by
Pretenders on parade.
The sad songs then were played by
The best friends ever made.

No more may you discern why
They make me laugh or cry
Than later lads may learn why
The same songs make you sigh.
**************************************
At ease between assaults of love,
I lucidly espy
What good the gods might have made of
Such a man as I.

I might have soothed the pain of beasts,
Or saved endangered plants,
Or succored souls from pimps and priests,
Given half a chance.

But in these fits of lucidness,
Romance must renaissance,
And I am off again to guess
What some wittol wants.
********************************

The Brain on the brink

Prefers to think

The finale of love is ironic,

While the Heart, I perceive,

Prefers to believe

Its disaster’s proportions tectonic.

 

The Brain in its cave

Would not be passion’s slave

And convinces itself it has reason,

While the Heart on its throne

Sees its self as alone

In a kingdom collapsing from treason.

 

And I in the night

Smoke and sniffle and write

While the sorrowing King and the Lama

Protect themselves from

Feeling dreadful and dumb

With their damned meditation and drama.

**********************

I shall go now and do good works

Among suffering multitudes

Because some gorgeous jerk of jerks

Wasn’t attuned to my moods.

 

I shall set out anonymously

And heal all the lepers and such,

appearing in history pseudonymously

As “the man with the merciful touch.”

 

The world’s full of agony. Why should I languish?

Rev up the boat and let’s start.
Only an infinite desert of anguish
Can soak up the blood from my heart.

***************************
Desire is a suicide, seeking its end,
Tracking a murderer, never a friend.
Some men are all desire, free from it never,
Longing forever to die forever.
*************************************
A moth is under my covers.
I will not sleep tonight.
Which of my sleepy lovers
Will come to me tonight?

All of my lovers
Are sunken in sloth.
Under my covers
Are me and a moth.
*************************************
When men are clothed,
Then men are loathed.
Shall we get, shall we say, “betrothed?”

When men are nude,
Then men are rude.
(Define “romantic interlude.”)

When men are through,
Then men are blue,
Despite a slight magenta hue.

May I suggest
We get re-dressed
Before we’re utterly depressed?
********************************
Venus is the evening star,
Granting lovers’ wishes.
It also is the morning star.
Isn’t that suspicious?

Once a man has done, and more,
Everything you bade him,
Do you want to have him, or
Merely to have had him?

When the morning finds you far
Less than lately lenient,
Reappears the wishing star.
Isn’t that convenient?
********************************
You mutter that you’re insecure
How long our love will be,
And moan for me to reassure,
Which is a rarity,
For usually
Men lie to me.

I utter to assure you you’re
Adored eternally
With passion permanently pure,
Which is a novelty,
For usually
Men lie to me.
****************************
Although the libido
Will serve as a credo,
It’s best during revolutions.
Those who survive from it
Seldom derive from it
Durable constitutions.
*****************************
Even though we interlock
With such a satisfying shock,
Let’s avoid the level of
Exchanging souvenirs of love.
Our wantonness is wonderful,
But not remotely personal.
We’re mere convenient metaphors
For bodies blind as meteors.
Thus anybody else could do
This exercise instead of you,
And you might find another guy
Who’d serve almost as well as I.
*********************************
The sparrow and the dove descend
To quarrel for my crumbs.
Ye gods of all the faiths, forefend
That I should know such bums.

Why were these brutes who peck and shove–
Unkempt, uncouth, unkind–
Selected as the birds of love?
Oh, I see. Never mind.
*******************************************
Heterosexual lovers obsess,
And so mate to look after babies,
But I’m overdrawn
About sex that can’t spawn–
About as productive as rabies.

What is the point of this staggering stress?
How smart are the powers that forge us?
What sense to the strain
Of desire and disdain?
How long, really, will you be gorgeous?
******************************************
He was an ass to leave you alone.
You were a swine to stray.
But any male mammal that ever was known
Can be shown to have gone the same way.

You wanted two men out of petulant greed,
And lied that your “side” was a friend.
He was a patsy to loosen your lead,
You were a putz to pretend.

All above actions were reckless and wrong.
You don’t leap whenever lust leers.
You don’t leave a lover alone for so long,
And you please don’t defend it for years.
*********************************************
To loll betimes,
Committing rhymes,
Was nothing that I planned, lord.
If you’ve surmised
That I’m surprised,
You oughta see my landlord.
**********************************
The ancients always styled
Love as an infant child.
They didn’t get that wrong.
Love never lives for long.
Rest stolidly, assured
Love never yet matured.
For confirmation, please
Check verse anthologies,
Historic’ly arranged.
Love’s voice has never changed.
*******************************
I lie, an empty, twisted bell,
Beside love’s cruel sea,
With many a truth that I could tell
About love’s cruelty,
But should a lad lift up my shell
And hold it to his ear,
Then love’s intoxicating swell
Is all that he will hear.
**********************************
Where I sedately sat to wait
For you to let me love you,
I sit of late to contemplate,
Quite over and above you,
Yet pray and fret you’ll pass to let
Me openly ignore you,
Lest friends ill-met should think me yet
Sitting waiting for you.
**********************************
Man navigates from bed to bed,
A guiding image in his head
From pictures seen and poems read,
And that’s idealism.

And anyone who’d catch a man
Must match that image if he can,
And that is nothing other than
Reflective realism.
*******************************
Fool! Fool! I offered you my life
If you would leave me never.
I wanted you to be my wife
Or husband or whatever.
Though to my kiss not ever,
To concomitance you were cool
And so I chose to sever
Ev’rything. Oh, fool! Fool! Fool!
************************************
The sun always rises. The soft rain will fall,
As if your heart never had broken at all,
And rainbows will shimmer soon after the rain,
And someday your heart will be broken again.
Tall mountains will crumble. Straight rivers will part,
But never will nature take note of your heart.
************************************************
Why is biography
Purely pornography?
Why must euphoria
Subsume our sensoria?
Should mere concupiscence
Even take up a sense?
Though not monotonous,
Where has it gotten us?
**************************
If you should find the fellow gone
When you return with both your drinks,
That’s probably when it will dawn
Just how a fellow thinks.

A man adores the way he sounds
When vowing love with all his might,
And resolutely makes the rounds
Until he gets its right.
***********************************
My love for you has died,
Which, let us understand,
Was neither suicide
Nor done by any hand.
Your love for me had died,
So mine could not endure,
No more than twins so tied
In torrid lit’rature.
**************************
You make me fantasize events
Unique in my experience.
I’ve lost my life in dreams, I know,
But here’s a fresh scenario,
So polar to the prior lot,
If this is love then they were not.
Am I in error thinking, then,
You’re different than other men?
************************************
The rich don’t know that they are rich,
The tall that they are tall,
Inheritors of empire which
Throngs they hold in thrall.

The bright their brilliance can’t recall,
The king that he is king.
The beautiful, who have it all,
Don’t know anything.
**************************************
The sun comes up behind a hill
(Love didn’t manage quite to kill.),
Then settles in an ocean. (Hope
Did not provide sufficient rope.)

Therefore must I experience
Desires defying common sense,
And lovers through my heart must troop
As if it were a paper hoop.

Yet friends must mean it kindly when
They mention there are other men,
As must philosophers who say,
“There’ll always be another day.”
*******************************************
Two fronts’ encounter causes
Invisible upsurgence.
Those seabirds’ airy pauses
Connote such a convergence.
Just so, our petty plangence
And intersecting courses
Delineate such tangence
Of such conflicting forces.
Yet see, the birds hang stable
In turbulent transparence.
Perhaps we may be able
To fend with such forbearance
*************************************
Just what will change because I die
That doesn’t change because I love?
Implausible you’ll be nearby
In either circumstance above.

With all due dread of death, confess
It offers all we’re looking for,
For I won’t see you any less,
And you won’t see me any more.
*************************************
Ah, would you fascinate
A man to hold you dearer?
The effort isn’t great.
Merely be his mirror.
Have a special smile
Only he can foment.
Then, once in a while,
Withhold it for a moment.
He’ll dare Hell and fire
To restore that pucker.
You’ll have your desire
(If you still want the sucker).
******************************
“Loving” is code for “leaving.”
The thing’s never lasted past lust.
This glory that’s got you all grieving?
It’s the bunk. It’s the blues. It’s a bust.

Feeling is always a failing,
The wise realize, and move on.
Wait. What is this musk I’m inhaling?
It’s the dusk! It’s the dew! It’s the dawn!
**********************************************
As his new love, you’re curious
How best to set him sighing.
Come here. There’s just the two of us.
This used to get him flying.
And this device, though devious
And rather death-defying,
When added to the previous,
Had him, like you, complying.
This bit we never did discuss,
But always seemed worth trying,
And, when elaborated thus,
Is it not gratifying?
Ah, do you find me generous,
No dear detail denying?
Well, here’s the little added plus
That left him craving, crying.
**********************************
May I be quarantined
From fancy’s folderol?
You cried he was a fiend,
And sighed I was a doll,
Reciting all his sins,
Inciting me to stay
To fill me full of pins
To hurt him far away.
**************************
The barriers break.
The dance commences.
We’re going to take
Leave of our senses.

The classic defense is,
We must dance thus
Before our senses
Take leave of us.
************************
Be understanding.
Be undemanding.
Believe the tales he tells.
Be unsuspicious.
Be all he wishes.
Be ready with something else.
******************************
Darling, do you back away
Because you fear I merely play?
Did the poets of the past
Convince you lust can never last?
Have those tasteless friends of yours
Said love’s composed of overtures?
Darling, all they say is true.
Let me love you while I do.
************************************

Are you in tears,
My dear of dears,
When oafs throw verbal rocks?
I’m not amused
That you’re abused,
But by the paradox
That what they blurt,
Intending hurt,
Are those love-words I say,
Describing you
And bribing you
To love in every way.

*******************************
They claim a kiss will heal a wound.
My corpse with kisses is festooned.

Perhaps the myth is not impugned.
Perhaps life was the worser wound.
**************************************
I have no breach you do not strike,
Though we are far apart.
Pity and friendship and love alike
Are strangers to your heart.

Oh, hate has made your reason rot.
Could ev’ry blow that falls
Land so precisely had you not
A friend within these walls?
************************************
On the expressive face, we see
Specific personality.

Involuntary features are
A whole lot less particular.
******************************
In times immemorial,
Love was corporeal,
Eve having eaten that apple.
Then a coy courtier
Made it much flirtier,
Thus guaranteeing some sap’ll
Promise to telephone,
Making a fellow moan,
Frequent some taverns and chapels,
Then probably buy a tryst
With a psychiatrist.
How do you like them apples?

Passion, once primitive,
Strove to the limit, ev-
Entually reaching Romance
Where lovers loved airily,
Ending summarily
Deep in the land that is no man’s.
Surely you’ve been in that
Bed draped in linen that
Lachrymose exudate dapples,
While he from
Marsella, Spain,
Wires fruit in cellophane.
How do you like THEM apples?
************************************
I live on only to review
The happiness you took with you.

You live on, only ’cause I’m too
Preoccupied to deal with you.
*******************************
Yesterday’s wish came true in you
Of whom I’ve since wished rid.
Now I regret, I really do,
When wishing wishes that came true,
Not wishing that I’d love you, too,
But then I thought I did.

But had I then wished you away
And off with other men,
Then I’d regret that wish and say
I wish that you were here today
Of whom I’m fully fatigué,
What must one wish to win?
*****************************************
Jewish lovers’ attitudes
Are basic’ly parental.
Catholics have ugly moods
And then get sentimental.

Protestants consider you
Another home appliance.
Atheists subject you to
Psychiatric science.

Throughout my sexu’ly active years,
From
Roosevelt through Reagan,
I vainly sought through veils of tears
Another horny pagan.
***************************************
With love so soon neglectful,
And lust so prone to pick-ups,
And passion less respectful
Of dignity than hiccups,
And promises more fragile
Than crystal at a shot-put,
And acrobats less agile
Than liars on the spot put,
I wonder that we hunger
To learn love’s way and step it.
I rather thought, when younger,
I wouldn’t when decrepit.
**********************************
I thought you wished me all the best
Until I took you to my breast.

Anatomy has never lied.
Your heart was on the other side.
**********************************
The torture of
A prior love
Has left you gaunt and gloomy.
Though we’ve but met,
You’ve got to get
It off your chest onto me.

You’re bound to blurt
Of human hurt,
Gargantuanly gory,
Though your report
Is in this court
Supererogatory.

Before we mate,
Expatiate
About the rites of wrong love,
But be so kind
As not to mind
If I should hum along, love.

You need to tell
Me love is Hell,
So little do you know me,
So do your worst.
Just be the first
To tell me, not to show me.
******************************
A-swirl in love’s vortical current
While sirens and sophists be-myth me,
I dream it would be a deterrent
To drag someone pretty in with me.
**************************************
You can’t help loving him?
He can’t help loving them.
**************************
People act odd-like
When people look godlike.
**************************
Your love has died,
And is no more.
I would my pride
Had died before
As, long before
My pain or pride,
As much and more
For Sappho died,

For, “This is Hell,
And we are dead,”
We all know well
Great Sappho said,
Or might have said,
Or might as well,
For we are dead,
And this is Hell.
*******************
It’s just because we incarnate
That other things seem small or great.
A gamma-grain or galaxy
Impress a vacuum equally.

It’s just because we live and die
That time appears to flag or fly.
Time doesn’t offer hope or hurt
To things immortal or inert.

It’s just because we hate and love
That others seem worth thinking of.
If we could be indifferent,
I wouldn’t wonder where he went.
************************************
Upset an hourglass and see
Its sand sift down with gravity
To settle in a pyramid
As sand in ancient Egypt did.
Exert the effort to revolve
The glass, and see the sand evolve
As regularly as a rhyme
That pyramidal paradigm.

Is there a realistic way
To make recurrent DNA
Like sand reverse, recoalesce
Into your vanished loveliness?
But that must mean I must revive
As plain as when I was alive.
Nor science nor superstition hid
Solace in the pyramid.
********************************
Long after mis’rable midnight,
Till dawn with its beauty imbues you,
You reiterate what I did night
After night after night to lose you.

Love, you adjure, pulling grudges
From off of the very back burner,
Is made, prosecution adjudges,
Of stuff that is very much sterner.

You mean you could wish love stronger?
Consider what you’re beseeching.
Should love last very much longer,
I’ll be on the floorboards, screeching.
**************************************
This bird has brought your terms of love,
Requesting your release.
I well remember when the dove
Meant more than peace.

Upon this weathered battle-wall,
Where were defeated Greeks,
One may observe how trophies all
Become antiques.

This bird bears back the words you wrote
With one word underlined
In absolute agreement. Note
It is unsigned.

On battle’s often noble stage,
Where even failure’s fame,
For foes who simply disengage
There is no name.
**********************************
The rainbow’s but a minor thread
In spectra infinitely spread,
The scale a negligible glitch
In music infinitely rich.

But all of time’s and space’s spans
Hold no emotion but a man’s
Brief gamut of experience–
“Attraction” through “Indifference.”

Again today you seemed so strange.
Be careful how you change and change,
Or soon you will have put me through
All that a man may feel for you.
**************************************
I am unpliable
And unafraid,
Listing you liable
For love betrayed.
Though gut is gratified
Being so bold,
And reason ratified
Hearing truth told,
I am ridiculous
In my unease
Molding meticulous,
Mean melodies,
To you as inaudible
As any thought.
Really more laudable
Biting tongue taut.
***********************
I can forgive, if I should live,
Your bestial betrayal,
Your little slips into side-trips.
After all, you’re male.

I can discount the vast amount
That I’m abandoned owing,
The file that spills recurring bills.
After all, you’re going.

I can ignore your slamming door,
Your telephonic raving.
But you must pay till judgment day
For how I’ve been behaving.
*************************************
We vowed to hold each other dear
Until the stars should die.
Well, one by one, they disappear
Completely from the sky.

You’re agitated that their light
Should evanesce away,
But though they only show by night,.
They’re also there by day.

They leave no lovers’ vows in doubt.
They only serve for show.
And anyway, might have burned out
Millennia ago.
**********************************
I hear among the Attics
It was the favored game
To prove that mathematics
All turn out the same–
A game I find a lame thing,
As surely they did then,
Once they divined the same thing
Was also true of men.
***********************************
When eying an extinguished fire,
I fantasize it lit,
Envisioning what I desire
In its opposite,

Imagining the laudable,
Extinct Achaean dawn
When pondering the pitiful,
Pilfered Parthenon,

The Founding Fathers’ overview
Embracing when I see
Democracy’s raped residue,
Tawdry tyranny.

My dead desire to see you smile
This reflex to revert
Just might rekindle for a while
Could I see you hurt.
*********************************
Love at full strength,
And love at full length.
Of all of sex’s facets,
Levity
And brevity
Are least considered assets.
***************************
I prayed that we might have one night,
And promised one would do,
Considering I had no right
To even one with you.

My promise in the morning light
Came absolutely true,
For you confirmed our one night quite,.
Quite enough for you.
*************************************
This is true, and always was:
Men are made by formulas.
This was always true, and is:
Nobody can tell you his.

The good news is: by dint and doubt,
I’ve worked my combination out.
The bad news is: the data says
I’m most turned-on by challenges.
************************************
The speed of light is great, they say,
As is the speed of sound,
But stars are very far away
And spiral all around.
What’s more, their radiance may take
Millennia to reach
A supplicant who for love’s sake
Selects one to beseech.

Thus wishes made to one dead sun,
Deceptive in the sky,
Might strike some undiscovered one
And bounce back by and by
Across immense, expanding space,
And, relatively slow,
Descend upon some random face
Of twirling Terra. So

Some long-extinguished kinkajou
On some lost austral lea
Must once have wished for such as you
Who just got wished on me.
*******************************************
I am astonished that I am in love.
I’d rather fancied I’d forgotten how.
I blush, admitting all I’m thinking of.
I flush, considering what I’d allow.
I can’t conceive what gave the final shove.
I can’t believe I ache to take the vow.
All you forgone phantasms up above,
Move over for a fresh companion now,
For I am foolish for another flame,
And taking up an old, unsteady stand
To fumble at an old, familiar game
While constellations on the stellar strand
Arrange themselves into a brand-new name–
God help us!–written in the same old hand.
******************************************
I’m neither loathed nor cherished,
Though some few might be sadder,
Perhaps, to hear I’d perished,
Perhaps some fewer gladder,
So I’ll persist in living
At least until tomorrow,
Thus delaying giving
Anybody sorrow,
And might consider pausing
Some years beyond that measure,
Thus postponing causing
Any others pleasure.
*********************************
I had to face so many facts
Before our falling-out,
There’s no illusion left to wax
Miserable about.

You’ve so dispersed my fantasy,
I’ve nothing real to rue.
Thank God one lover proved to be
Literally untrue.
***********************************
From doctor@dictionary.com’s Word of the Day for Sunday March 19, 2006:
“The origin of dudgeon is unknown.”

“The origin of dudgeon is unknown?”
The author of that cursory remark
Has never waited by a telephone
Or failed to reach one ringing in the dark
Then seen the fixed stars and the planets arc
Across a heaven made of onyx stone
Or helplessly watched salt tears watermark
A napkin with a number scrawled thereon.

Nor neither has that writer, I suppose,
Continued sobbing as the dawn revealed
The dew upon a neighbor’s stupid rose,
The mist upon a mansion far afield,
Then turned to term the hovel where he’s sealed
A hateful “dungeon” through a swollen nose.
**********************************
Now and then, I must look
Through my memory book
At pictures of yesteryear.

Oh, what joy and what grief
I relive as I leaf
Through pictures of yesteryear.

Please don’t frown if I laugh
At a sad photograph
Or a happy one brings on a tear,

For here at the last
All the past is the past
And a smile and a frown are both dear

In pictures of yesteryear.
*****************************************
There’s nothing in my e-mail that I’d read.
There’s nothing in my snail-mail that I’d want
There’s no one I could call not guaranteed
To be a dullard or a dilettante.
There’s no one I could see not asinine.
There’s no one that I would not occupied.
There’s nobody to whom a lyric line
About them is of interest or pride.

It’s as remarkable that I keep on
Composing as it is ridiculous.
Did Sappho in the lambent lyric dawn
Of western poetry continue thus,
Punctiliously, pointlessly at work?
No, supple sleepers in her shadows lurk.
*****************************************
Not one of A.E. Housman’s golden beaus
Ever, I fancy, read a verse of his,
Nor did Cavafy’s athletes, I suppose,
Marvel at his mosaic messages.
Whitman, contrariwise, I’m rather sure,
Held readings for enraptured handymen,
While Wystan and his clique of lit’rature,
Made listening the price for getting in.

Of Maugham and Coward, voyagers afield,
One can’t confirm that literacy was
At all a requisite for them to yield
Their favors to “fahntahstic foreignahs,”
But ____ played cards with naked fans as stakes
Who stood it for his brilliant lyrics’ sakes.
**************************************************
Consider me your wishing-well.
Tell me what you will.
Babylon or bagatelle,
You shall have your fill.

Believe my way has always been
To offer ev’rything.
Ignore those disappointed men,
Palely loitering.

Forgo the distant wishing-star.
Far, far beyond your youth
I’ll fulfill you—insofar
As you tell me the truth.
**************************************
You never will visit me again
And yet will read this signed
Paper which I found pure and plain
And leave minutely lined,
Slaving (I almost hoped in vain)
With my remaining mind
To fill it with poison which gives no pain.
Would you had been so kind.
************************************
I hear that the crocus
Is blooming on time.
My personal focus
Is on Cupid’s crime.

I glimpse the forsythia
Adorning its stalk.
Yeah, yeah, I’ll be with ya
As soon’s I can walk.

You tell me the tulip
Is wagging in glee.
Look, I don’t give you lip.
Why persecutest thou me?

My heart rolls its onus
Up Hell’s greasy ramp.
So Spring is upon us?
Swell. Issue a stamp.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Now old and wise,
I realize
How very bad I’ve been.
With just one break,
I shouldn’t make
The same mistakes again:

If ev’ryone
To whom I’ve done
Grotesque injustice would
Lie down and die,
I’m certain I
Could then be very good.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
When someone died, the ancients thought,
His soul at once emerged,
Not, as the Christians later taught,
Cool spirit, peeled and purged,
But, even from the kindest kin,
Conflagarating lust,
Rapacious, once not dampened in
The insulating dust,
Amoral anonymity
Prayer cannot exorcise
Which was, till very recently,
The light in someone’s eyes.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
There’s little in
The world without
I’ve not by men
Been taught about.

They lied, of course.
That’s how they are.
With that resource
And one fixed star

I managed to
Triangulate
A true world-view.
It ain’t that great,

So I hang out
Where I have been–
In this redoubt
Without those men.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
From Heine one borrows
This respite from wrongs:
Out of great sorrows,
To make little songs.

My sorrow is boundless,
Of infinite span.
With guilelessness groundless,
I trusted a man.

According to Heine,
Offense so immense
Should serve for a tiny
Quatrain some time hence.

A hurt that colossal
Should make a curt verse,
A minimal fossil
Of something much worse.

But look how I’m taking
So long to debrief.
The greater the aching,
The later relief.

I’ll make it tomorrow.
It shouldn’t take long.
The vaster the sorrow,
The faster the song.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Still, as of old,
The truthful tale,
Requiring told,
Is tough to nail
As when, a lad,
I first concurred
Mute Being had
To be made word.

Still, as of eld,
In book-packed room
Serenely celled–
My only gloom
Incompetence
To mingle sight
And sound and sense,
And write it right–

My darling, dumb,
Motif, beseeched
To say that some
Redoubt is reached,
Viewing my verse,
Reality
Must croak to curse,
“That isn’t me.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Tools ever are extensions of
The finite faculties—
So wheels are feet, Viagra, love
(I said that just to tease.).
Extrapolating from above,
What part is poetry’s?

What is the organ in the lot
Which poetry amends?
Prosody’s palimpsest polyglot
Expands what human ends?
Or: what’s another name for what
Poetry extends?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
So hurriedly I do with you
What I so long to do with him.
Observe that when I’m through with you
I scurry to be blue with him.

How lengthily I long with him
For what I don’t prolong with you.
Can there be something wrong with him
And wrong with me and wrong with you?

I loathe the things I do with you
Except what he won’t do with me.
You egg me to be true with you.
I beg you to be through with me.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
We’ve little of Sappho, and that’s
Fragments and remnants which
Were stuffing to mummify cats
Egyptians then stuffed in a ditch,

But whatever remnants remain
Condense the inanities men
Have gone through again and again,
Certainly ever since then

And probably even before,
Though Sappho is silent on that.
It’s possible we may find more
By lucking upon the right cat,

And contemplate Sappho complete,
The utter indictment of men,
Defining default and deceit,
And what’ll I write about then?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I see a pretty painting,
And hear what you’d have said,
And then recall, half-fainting,
You’re actually dead.

I move on to another,
And judge it on my own,
Then practically smother
To realize you’re gone.

Oh, you were all I wanted,
And nothing that I’ve got,
I shudder when I’m haunted,
And shatter when I’m not.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Original sin
Was original when?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Our paths have for the last time crossed.
You have lost me. I am lost.
Love has made a fool of me—
Nobody’s, axiomatically.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
To try to hurt me is a bore.
You cannot hurt me any more.
I have endured the hardest hurt—
That men devour me, then desert.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I couldn’t bear that he should go to Hell,
And yet he needed so to die that he,
Kind at the end to one he loved so well,
Left all of living Hell behind for me.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
We vowed that our love was eternal,
And mine verifies the claim,
Permanently infernal—
Hoping you are the same.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
There’s surely a man that I’d panegyricize,
But whenever he leaves me the free time to lyricize,
Assuming he’s met yet another great hulking thing,
I always revert to my signature sulking thing.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
How came I to be this immense
Amalgam of experience?
It seems but yesterday, it does,
That my heart broke (and so far was).
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
A window over a sunset comes to blue, meaning you,
And I would mourn if I could mourn, and in fact I do,
But I watch the window and the blond moon, too.

Dear, dead, old, echoing loss, listen to me make profession
Of your mem’ry that your mem’ry can only call and freshen
Out of loss, the unimportant after-sorrow of possession.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
How fine men are
Seen from afar,
How fit a subject for heroic song,
And yet how gross
When seen up close.
How fitting that they never stay for long.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Oh, love, oh, love, oh, lullaby,
You will live and love and die.
Oh, lullaby, oh, love, oh, love,
You’ll survive all the above.
Oh, lullaby, oh, love, and then
You’ll cry to do them all again.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I wouldn’t mind to marry,
But don’t mind solitary.
It’s rather one with me.
I like to give enjoyment,
So stick to my employment
While time has fun with me.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Oh, let me die while I am human still.
You know how people get when very ill.
With ev’ry pang, the soul becomes more small.
I’ll first wish that I’d never lived at all,
Then that I’d never loved, or you’d returned it,
Or when you didn’t, that I’d never learned it.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
My intellect’s a hockey puck
To know love’s merely passing luck,
Yet try to hold it over.
My forebrain is a solid clot
To play, “He loves me, loves me not”
With a four-leaf clover.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Because your lover chanced to tire
With you still dizzy from desire,
And you got sober in a later setting,
You feel you’re faithfullest of all
And the recovery you call
In him, “Betrayal,” is, in you, “Forgetting.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
False love looks like true love
To the outward eye.
I believed in you, love,
And the more fool I.

Oh, I’m wise to you, love,
Yet internally
Feel that I lost true love,
And the more fool me.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Living God in Heaven,
Must I go on like this,
Reciting in a dark,
Unending litany,
“Barry, Joe, Evan,
Stuart, Ned, Chris,
Robin, Michael, Mark…”
(Did I forgitany?)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Why on Earth did I ever do that?
And why in Heaven twice?
And who in Hell are you looking at,
Soliciting advice?

Considering all the men I loved,
And those who then loved me,
And those they loved, who then I loved,
Do let a body be.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I’m a clod, too grown-over to grapple
With rising again from the sod.
You’re a serpent, an Eden, an apple,
And going for being a god,

But you’re probably post-modern rabble
In plausible, palpable truth.
After Babylon, Sodom, and Babel,
I’ll be damned if I’ll die for Duluth.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
What do I care if we’re uncaring?
A kiss is as sweet if it’s insincere.
Cynical, opportunistic pairing
Lasts quite as long as love, I hear.

No one can tell if we’re fond or faking.
Love knows no pleasure we haven’t got,
Nor no more interminable aching
Than I feel, knowing you love me not.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“Stay busy,” said my mind unto
My contemplative heart,
Because it knew your love untrue,
Happiness apart.

Here’s what I put my snide mind to:
How may the idle heart
Tell, as the mind can, false and true
Happiness apart?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I’m cool to continue to live
For whatever comprises my while,
For I lack enough life left to give
For all that I did that was vile.

Most bodies indiff’rently do
To manure grass to make mourners smile,
But soil consecrated to you
I definitely would defile.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
THEM APPLES

My latest verse I haven’t sent,
For you would carp at its content,
Which is to me (men come and gone)
No more than apples to Cezanne:
The subject readiest at hand
To analyze and understand.

My easy, elegant conceit
Tiptoeing on iambic feet
Around a tiny turn of thought
Then curling in a cunning knot
You’d miss for fixing on the myth
You see me as obsessing with.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
You spurn me with nearly the face
And then turn with the virtual grace of
The impossible angel in space
I pretend that I love you in place of.

Yet I, after all that I’ve said,
Which you fly in disconsolate dread of,
Do attempt to pursue as if led
By the dream I abuse you instead of.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The stinging pellets of the rain
Landed indifferently on me
Again, again, again, again.
I had to be out in it to see
If you had called or might be calling.
The streets were filled with scurrying forms
And everywhere the rain was falling.
It was a widespread, wicked storm.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
When we both slept as one, a deux,
I never slept for watching you.
Since you found somewhere else to sleep,
I only close my eyes to weep.
Since puberty left me this tall,
I’ve hardly ever slept at all.
Awareness runs without a lapse.
My only hope is a collapse.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I loved you both. You both loved me.
It followed geometric’ly
You loved each other. What a scary
Syllogistic corollary.

We each of us saw disappear
A friend, a lover, a career.
It’s left me with a strange forbearance
For marriages arranged by parents.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I summarized your troth to me
In lyrical mementoes.
You responded instantly,
“Will someone pay to print those?

In Hell below or Heaven above,
There’s someone, if I sought ‘em,
Who’d pay me for your vows of love.
After all, I bought ‘em.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Inamoratas
Confess always
Domestic Masadas,
Erotic Pompeiis,
Career Krakatoas,
Religious Red Seas.
I really don’t know as
I need to hear these.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I have forgotten why we war.
I have forgotten how.
I only wonder if you are
Prepared to parley now.

Well, that, and if, by putting paid
To our decaying duel,
I go to meet one I have made
Incorrigibly cruel.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I have so much I must forget,
Therefore may not quit crying yet.
My tears and tears ongoing, though,
Seem to intimidate you so
You have my leave to leave me, so
In years and years to come, although
I might continue crying, yet
Wherefore I cry, I might forget.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
You claim my love healed ev’ry pain,
Yet doggedly demand that
I listen through the list again.
I fail to understand that.

Your love has healed my heart clear through
With all its mystic spell says.
It seems a lot to ask me to
Take on somebody else’s.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
It would be good to perish now,
Convinced of what could be.
I’ve heard the vow we murmur now
Get growled eventually
And that soprano sigh before
Go basso by and by.
I wish that we could die before
We wish that we would die.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
DOVER BEACH REVISITED

Moonlight is dying.
Where is the sun?
Why are you crying?
What have I done?
Or are you dreaming
Of trust gone by
Beyond redeeming?
So am I.

I didn’t miss it
Until we met.
Maybe we’ll kiss it
Better yet.
I know you’re trying.
You know I’ll try.
Why are you crying?
Oh, am I?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I’m grateful to the poets of Greece
Who first discerned that love must cease,
Indebted to the bards of France
Who then discovered it’s a dance.

I owe the larks of Albion
For formulating “pale and wan,”
And even young America
For its one distillation: “Duh.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
These are the very words he said:
“I don’t love him, but you instead.
You’re far more beautiful than he
At his most beautiful could be,
And anyway, the grapevine tells
Me he’s been seeing someone else,
So I’ll forget him in your bed.”
These are the very words he said.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Here, at our peak, we can see to the farthest distance.
A tangent from here would extend past astronomy’s border.
Why retrogress to noncomparable existence
Through raptures arranged in a dully descending order?
Why in remembrance and reenactment ravish
Our blossom to elementary membranes and greases?
Scattering petals, lenocinant and lavish,
Let here, at its redolent zenith be where it ceases,
Sonnet without sestet…
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Wherefore am I forever
Being left by men
Who love a night, then never
Ever come again?

Wherefore is their love wraithful?
Wherefore does it change?
Wherefore is mine so faithful?
Am I all that strange?

Oh, come on, Central Casting,
Send me love that’s true,
Unending, everlasting.
Let’s see how I do.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I can embarrass anyone
With my sighs of love–
Halt any ritual begun
By doing as above,
Make any couple feel ashamed,
Make any party sag,
Commit offenses yet unnamed.
I do not mean to brag,
But in these gaffes gargantuan,
May one discern a rule?
Might I have been as great a man
As I am a fool?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Poetry is pointless.
Prose is merely dull.
Erato, I beg you, anoint less
Of a jade empirical as your gull.

Love supplied is graceless.
Love denied is grim.
I’d dread an encounter with Mace less
Than mutating lyrical verse from them.

Living is a burden.
Dying is a bore.
With aging and poverty stirred in,
I shan’t chance the miracle anymore.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I cannot hate you who cannot love me,
Cannot love anybody, cannot love.
Though I love but my fallen fantasy
Through contraindications scrawled above,
I love it so, I cannot hate at all.
What looks like hate is sheer regret and rue
For the emotion prompting tears to fall:
Shame at how utterly I envy you.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
If I’ve betrayed your trust
So you feel on the shoals,
And it must be discussed
On these unending strolls,
I’d been betrayed so, just,
When we met on these knolls.
Serious actors must
Play all the classic roles.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The first sight of the sun, I said,
Will wake my dormant heart.
What life-form could stay cold and dead
To see the storm-clouds part?

As flora, yes, and fauna thrive,
By Sol revived again,
Just so, my heart’s again alive…
And its immortal pain.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Think not I overlooked the hints
Of X’s suicide.
To one of my experience,
They’re easily espied.

He displayed not a one I missed,
Who have them in my heart.
I, a depressive Narcissist
And melancholy-smart,

Supposed they showed he got along
In my accustomed Hell,
Thus didn’t understand them wrong,
Just understood too well.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
How very, very clever
A faithless man may be.
I vowed to love forever,
You, never to love me,
But I by dreary dying
Must fail at loving you,
While you to your denying
Stay effortlessly true.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The things I miss
Are slight and small—
A sigh, a kiss,
A smile, a call–
Too small and slight
To let impede
The need to write—
A mighty need.

How could I let
Them interfere
When here, or yet
When nowhere near?
What have I then
On this cleared stage?
This tiny pen,
This shiny page.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
It’s true that you might reproduce,
Should you be of that ilk,
Or get reputed “cheap” and “loose,”
With jokes re: cows and milk.

It’s true you could acquire disease
At great expense and pain,
But fears more perilous than these
Should make you think again.

It’s true you could become too fond
Of drinks and drugs and such
To make you feel more big or blond,
Or pierce yourself too much,

But none of these is guaranteed
Nor ineluctable.
The greatest horror you should heed
Is inescapable,

For even if you should escape
Anathemas above,
Inevitably there will gape
The loathsomeness of love.

And somewhere in amongst the throngs
Who please and whom you please,
You will begin selecting songs
That nourish memories.

You will begin to favor one
Among your casuals,
And when he says your day is done,
The sacrosanct sun dulls,

The moon is ashes overhead,
Stars irritating sparks,
Art emptiness, theatre dead,
And literature mere marks.

Oh, progeny has its rewards,
Disgrace a tinge of fame,
Disease distinction as regards
Philosophy through shame,

And sagging dragonesque tattoos
Spur intimate guffaws,
But love’s a loss you never lose
By nature’s lousy laws.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Whilst I feign attending,
You dissect our dealings
(Presumably ending),
And mention “true feelings”

Whose meanings are two, or
At least two (you doubt me?):
My feelings for you, or
Your feelings about me.

For which should be rue felt?
Or is either one true?
If I’m not as you felt,
Whose feelings were untrue?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Oh, spare us, Horace, spare us, do,
More lauds of Ligirinus.
Our erstwhile reverence for you
At last approaches minus.

The lad indeed excels his peers,
All men of Rome now credit.
And now you’d curse his cavaliers
Oh, edit, Horce, edit.

How may a man so bright bemoan
The beaux by whom he’s bested
When it was your excess alone
Which got us interested?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
My anguish made the cosmos clear,
A crystalline design.
There was no rival I need fear.
All agony was mine,
And I the one musician who
Could throb a threnody so true.

My broken heart, a cloven rock,
Dismayed all amateurs,
Till I discovered with a shock
I’d gone and broken yours,
So you rewrote my plaintive strain
To claim the championship of pain.

I hadn’t even known I could
Inflict an agony.
Infinity I’d understood
As made to anguish me.
My treason merely broke your heart.
Yours tore my universe apart.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
My dolor’s as real as my dignity’s false.
Play on that lute again. I’ll learn to love it.
My honest expression would be sleazy schmaltz.
But what of it, gentlemen, really, what of it?
Let me contrive a Corinthian waltz,
Thus courting finesse lesser courtiers covet.
Loss is the lousy gestalt of gestalts,
But looky here, guys, while I rise so above it.

Lorn lovers lingering, emulate me,
Refusing to seem comatose or frenetic,
Model your masks on my lacquered esprit,
Tastefully, gracefully pre-Raphaeletic,
Restrained and contained so that no one can see
The acid within the ascetic aesthetic,
And lucky lads, mimic what just might be
Hard armor against love’s initial kinetic.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
If I‘ve by my poor posturing of pertly pouty pride
Provided but one lad an analgesic masquerade
To aid him in concealing lovelorn lunacy inside
Or by divinest happenstance deferred the whole charade
By lading him with such protection as I’ve reified
Ere idle Eros ever baned him with the bitter blade,
Parade in my apotheosis, for I’d have supplied
Abiding apotropic armor by a martyr made
To jaded juveniles who must have had just such a guide.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Around September twenty-first,
December, March, and June,
To gratify the human thirst
To order and attune,
A change of season is announced
To keep chronology,
So memory may feel less bounced
Around eternity.

These positings’ particulars
To tie great Time in place
Relate to placements of the stars,
The cogs and springs of space–
Relationships of less import
To me than mine with men.
Why not use dates dates were cut short
To start the seasons then?

Here Dennis tore my heart in half.
Here Joe tore half away.
Here Barry, who could make me laugh
Left half that half mache.
Here Evan left me even less—
Ah, nay, this way won’t do.
A year so shattered would possess
More seasons than ragu.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I loved the man I thought you were
You thought that I loved you.
Well, I don’t feel superior.
I thought I loved you, too
While I was he you thought I was,
Though not since losing him.
We don’t meet anymore because
We’re envious of them.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
While wondering precisely why
One cannot close an ear,
Eyes widened so as not to cry,
I gaze at you and hear
You harp as if to one who has
Your same unstated dream.
Ever come in late on jazz,
Having missed the theme?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Was I so self-absorbed
I made you feel negated?
Was I so crowned and orbed
It made you feel deflated?

Was I so talented
That you felt mediocre?
I was the best, you said,
In bed. Was that the joker?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
No,
I haven’t done with you,
Nor after all that waiting.
It’s quarter after two,
And I’m recuperating.
You are the choice I’ve made,
And that was just beginners
Though Pandarus parade
All his Olympic winners
In a row.

So
Don’t be so pitiful,
Disconsolate, downhearted.
You’re as desirable
As you were when we started,
As delicately damp,
As downy, as delicious,
But even Aladdin’s lamp
Could only grant three wishes
In a row.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The first thief in the tomb
Where Sappho lay as dust
For many and many a year,
Perceived within its gloom
For just an instant just
One starlike, trembling tear.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Love’s ridiculous,
And was ever thus,
But friends at ends of ropes
Seem annoyed about
My hauling items out
To cure their painful hopes.

When I quote to show
Sappho long ago
Similarly felt flat,
Friends are quickly gone.
How can they carry on
Who take no heart at that?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Doubt not I loved you truly
Because my love has ended.
I venerated duly
Your being truly splendid.

Why doubt I paid my duty
Though it has dissipated?
Do I deny your beauty
Just because it’s faded?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
One needn’t overanalyze
To fashion verses strong and wise.
Just worry words until they do
Something obviously true.

All poets know that little shock
When lines start working like a clock
To fit the rhythm, hit the rhyme,
And tell the universal time.

The words one casts at last will cling
Together and begin to sing
That life is bitter, love is brief
Without one’s blessing or belief.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
When I am dead, when I am dead,
Let them say, “He left nought unsaid.”
While I’m alive, while I’m alive,
Let me select what will survive
And anyway, anyway,
What is left for them to say?
When I’m defunct, when I’m defunct
The whole collection will be junked.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Philosophers of note,
Not any of whom I can actually quote,
Have said the human seems
To live out his life in delirious dreams.

Acquaintances of mine
Whom amorousness once made shimmer and shine
Have shouted down the hall
That I may be human after all.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Apollo, proceed to adore.
Marsayas is now on the mart.
What are you offering for
My liable, buyable heart?

Tell me a thousand’s not old.
Tell me true feeling’s a find.
Lie on your lyre till you’ve sold
My lullable, gullible mind.

Say that delaying’s a sin.
Simmer and simper and sulk
Seek what you fancy within
My flexible, sexable hulk.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Discussing our dealings
(Presumably ending),
You mention “true feelings”
While I feign attending,

Inspecting the floors and
Inspecting the ceilings
While you’re keeping scores and
Dissecting “true feelings,”

Whose meanings are two, or
At least two (you doubt me?):
My feelings for you, or
Your feelings about me.

Although it may psych you,
The options must strike that
I (1) didn’t like you
Or (2) wasn’t like that.

There’s bound to be rue felt,
But is 2 or 1 true?
If I’m not as you felt,
Whose feelings were untrue?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
A velvety invisible veil
Envelops us rather like plasma,
And we become the risible male,
Marooned in our miasma,

Daintily alien fragrances
Suggest other scenes without comment.
Unveiling voluptuous vagrancies,
Slyly augmenting a moment,

Makes certain activities sweeter,
Perilously passing time
Melding meticulous meter
With carefully inexact rhyme.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
In death you still are near me, never fear,
Near as the angel that I hid in dreams
Because I hoped I’d hear you, loud and clear
Say you adored me, as you did in dreams.

But then I kept you near because, my dear,
I couldn’t imagine that you never would,
While now to keep the mem’ry of you clear,
I daren’t imagine that you ever would.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
My head should be examined.
I should be at work, but amn’t.
Or using my writing talent,
I should-er be doing, but shalln’t.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Beautiful stranger, hello there.
Pick out a Paradise, we’ll go there.
You select the venue.
Run away with me.

Gather your furs and your jewels.
I’ll fight the necessary duels.
Then we can continue.
Run away with me

Do you prefer Bermuda
Or the benign Bahamas?
If you’ve a thing for Buddha,
I’ll make Tibetan lamas
Promise

Total and utter seclusion
While I refine the divine delusion
I’ve locked the stars and moon and sun away with me
And I’m in Heaven when you run away with me.

I’ll be completely common,
You the protected princess
Till Zeus or Jove or Aman
Mercifully dispenses
With pretenses

And we’re permitted to couple
In a concinnity simple, supple
Where if pleasure hasn’t done away with me,
I can let my senses run away with me.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“All depth in art
Is illusion,” said Wilde,
And truly, the heart
Can be beguiled
With a rose that is near,
A tear that is far,
The tear will appear
As far as a star,
The rose as a wall
Against remorse
Which it isn’t at all,
Of course.
Of course,
Wilde meant, the means
Of art present
Illusory scenes.

I know what he meant.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Sunset doesn’t shove the shadows out of boulders with its might.
Sunlight only hid the shadows. It was always night.
Sunrise makes the shadows seem to shrink and cower out of sight.
Sunshine only stains the shadows. It is always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night.

For years amounting into millions, universes blaze with light,
But between for endless billions, it is always night.
Dreams distressing in the darkness seem to vanish when it’s bright,
But dreams are never even sleeping. It is always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The usual Eumenides,
The usual obscenities
Defer my love
Of studies of
Eternities and infinities.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Now hear those two
Pigeons coo
The dearest duet done,
Yet those same syllables sound blue
Sung by only one.

Or hear wind-chimes
Hint at rhymes
In mocking monotone
For messages one’s left ten times
On a telephone.

Oh, one can clutch
At not much,
Thus happening across
The origin of idioms such
As “a touching loss.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
If it will end this present pain
And make me feel less vile and old
To name his love as false and vain,
Then shall I such surcease withhold?

Why not exclaim it wasn’t love
Which left me broken and unclean,
As if the dissipation of
Illusion is less shattering?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
It’s true the composition of fine verse
Will not reform the nature of brute man,
But then, it will not make it any worse
But then, what can?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Love in the abstract,
Before you were fact, lacked
Tension and tenure,
But then again, you’re
Often annoying,
Boyish, and cloying.

I dream of casting
A steadfast and lasting,
Solid and simple,
Atemporal temple
Which can’t be complete, sweet,
Without you in the concrete.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“Would you still love me if there were an infinite number of people?”
You ask, gazing out of the window at a steeple.
“Would you quit worrying about that if there were none?”
I ask, wond’ring where one actually gets a gun.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Love set us dreaming
And had us each seeming
Someone delightful to know.
There wasn’t such friction
Concerning a fiction
Since Harriet Beecher Stowe.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Sappho wrote of hopeless love
And its attendant curses.
One could ditto the above
Of most surviving verses.

Songs of Shakespeare, sweetly sung,
Might make the saddest chortle,
But the despair on which they’re strung
Is what keeps them immortal.

The most enduring lays betray
The whitened, tightened knuckle.
It’s that love always was this way
That makes mere scriveners chuckle.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Far away, far away,
You dominate me every day,
And would though dead, I have no doubt,
So I send no assassin out.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Because we co-exist
In a time and space
And at a certain age,
Anatomies insist
Nothing could replace
The hormones now a-rage.

We know that isn’t true.
History extends
Endlessly both ways,
Opening onto
Multitudes of friends
Not handy nowadays.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I flaunt my love.
You shout that you
Don’t want my love.
Oh, like I do?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Upon a planet bogged by blood
Oozing out of graves,
With refugees adrift in mud
Envying warm slaves,

And monkey-mazes built of bones
Slumped against barbed wire,
And corpses used as stepping-stones
Mounting ever-higher,

How can anybody love
Anywhere tonight
With the awfulness above
Stretching out of sight?

I am a complacent drone
In a quiet zoo,
Dreaming murders of my own
I’m afraid I’ll do.

I’m afraid of everyone
That I hear or see
For the itching for a gun
They awake in me.

How could I repair to love
Or repose in bed?
Every one of the above
Did, and now they’re dead,

And yet I open up my door,
And implore you to,
Hoping, like all men before,
One of us comes through.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Fast friends are coyly curious
Why I love one promiscuous.
They can’t know what variety
You offer after vagrancy,
Nor the amusing dividends
You share about my fastest friends.

So I don’t fear your rude redhead,
Nor bid you quit your bald man’s bed,
And feel, in fact, a certain bond
With your imaginative blond.
I only fear the dark brunet
Friends ask me if you’ve mentioned yet.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I feel I am a foreign land,
Abundant, overflowing,
Where refugees take refuge and
Keep ancient grudges going.
Oh, see my fun facilities?
And see my merry fun-fair?
To hold onto hostilities
Seems criminally unfair.
You’ve fled a country which abounds
With families fascistic,
Contaminating my playgrounds
With means militaristic,
Which seems to go against your goal
And certainly my tenets.
Can you forget your tortured soul
For fifteen fucking minutes,
And tell me that I’m beautiful,
And, barring dire emergencies,
Discorporate your Oedipal
Counter-re-insurgencies?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I imagined dinner,
Cooking side by side
Things to make us thinner,
Then we washed and dried,
Dallied for an hour
(On weekends two or three),
Then a lovely shower
And some bad TV.

I fancied these the best in-
Gredients for love,
With now and then a guest in
For all of the above,
But you craved confrontations,
And, modifying me,
Interim relations
Surreptitiously.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Well I know what comes hereafter—
Looks and lies and alibis.
To adore you is far dafter
Than just gouging out my eyes,

Sure the gods are short on laughter
To procure this pantomime.
As a heathen, I don’t hafter
Tarantella one mo’ time.

But you were coined by such a crafter
With your skin resembling silk
And your eyes dissembling taffter,
And such imagistic ilk.

So twirl your trousers ‘round a rafter.
Chink a chair against that door.
Well I know what comes hereafter.
Here goes what comes theretofore.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Ignorant lovers are rather refreshing,
Innocent, awestruck souls,
While I less dramatically see us as fleshing-
Out placidly classical roles.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
There Sappho and Housman are,
Waiting for someone to love them,
There where they’ve always hovered,
And nights pass star by star,
Many a million of them,
And billions undiscovered.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
We must, to discover an element’s laws,
Be without it, and learn what conditions become.
We know about light, for the darkness we cause
Just by squinting upsets equilibrium,
And we know about sound, for inserting mere gauze
In our ears make the universe utterly dumb.

We know about air, for with spheroids and straws
Any fool can engender a vacuum.
We know about heat, for the north never thaws
And reveals what’s negated when everything’s numb,
And we lately discovered what gravity was,
For in space it’s erased to a zero sum.

But we’ll never know space, for it never withdraws,
Though we draw ourselves in to the minimum,
And forget about time, for we can’t make it pause,
Though we may have suspended a pendulum,
And in case you’re expecting an ultimate clause
About love, wanna try to get rid of some, chum?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I did an act of love to you
To power you in fact to love.
You liked the act you let me do,
And now there’s nothing you won’t do,
Including offering me love,
To make me do my act for you.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
What Manet with a ripple,
Seurat with a stipple,
Cezanne with prismatic refraction
Conveyed of existence
I shall through persistence
Make verse do, or perish in traction.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
When ape-men wished for world wars,
Some star, remotely linked,
Eventually hurled wars
At wishers long extinct.

The ape-men must have also
Wished for depressing boors
That perfect ones should fall so
Duly at my doors.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
You know when someone’s dead, and you see something
He would have liked, and make a mental note
To tell him of it, and then quickly quote,
“He’s dead, you imbecile, you dumb, you numb thing?”

I miss you horribly. I miss you vastly.
I hear absurd news on the radio
Which only we would laugh at, and to know
You’re living and I still can’t call is ghastly.

Oh, what’s the difference if you’re dead or living
As far as I’m concerned? Only my gasp
As my hand jerks to grasp then not to grasp
At hope, the punishment that keeps on giving.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
You won’t come back. I can’t go on.
So what’s the lot that I have drawn?
A little room where you are not
And never will be. That’s a lot.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Since voluntarily you broke your vow,
A sharp and shameful separateness begins.
The law is, I may never see you now
Until you have forgiven me your sins.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Vile love which enclosed like a prison
Some fifty-five years of existence
Like dew has dispersed or arisen.
Now deserts stretch clean in the distance.

The wall that was always has fallen.
The wind that was ever has ended.
So say the survivors who crawl in
To be bandaged-up and befriended,

And libel dead love, or deplore it,
Or agree while another derides it.
God, wasn’t there something before it?
God, isn’t there something besides it?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^.
You might have murdered me at any time,
But kept me begging for the final blow.
I understood your quibbles about crime.
It was a bitter hardship waiting, though.
But why go on about a sorry state
I most sincerely hope you never know?
It did prepare me to attend and wait
While you consider how to wail and keen
Which you so artfully elaborate
That while I’m waiting through your mourning scene
I’ve time to ratify in triple rhyme
Your honest wish that I had never been.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Think not, because my poetry preserves
The memory of your magnificence,
Before ambition activated nerves
Transforming you and flinging you far hence
So that your sticky shadow wheels and swerves
Over the palace where you were a prince,
That my portrayal of your beauty serves
To prove forgiveness or benevolence.

It is conceivable you have transgressed
Beyond redemption into wanton war,
And peaceful rituals have deliquesced
Beyond recovery or avatar.
What seems memorial may be at best
A cruel slur upon the way you are.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Oh, him you knew best, you’ll not know anymore,
Not the sound nor the scent nor the sight of,
For he’s tired of the lies that you fed him before,
That he held you so dearly in spite of.
It’d seem he adored you much more than was wise,
For he kept you at even your height of
Extremest excess of absurd alibis,
And excuses you always were slight of,

So it’s hard to accept he’s at last drawn a line,
And you’re now in for many a night of,
“If I’d told him the truth, he’d of never been mine,
But he might of, he might of, he might of.”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Sing separation’s left your course
Clear and fair, clear and fair.
Declare your freedom from remorse
Here and there, here and there.

Say one must air a humid heart
Now and then, now and then,
And know, if even passing smart,
How and when, how and when.

Denounce depression in a scrawl
Light and gay, light and gay.
Proclaim your freedom from it all
Night and day, night and day.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Did we with our initial kiss
First plummet from a precipice,
Two goners from the get-go?
Did we, abandoning our all,
Claw one another in a fall
Unnoticed till we let go?

We vied to see who would begin
The suicidal spiral spin
And who should finish faster.
What brought this agony about?
Our falling in or falling out?
Which deed was the disaster?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The things I’ve loved the most are those
You’d never see or miss:
Tanagra figurines which pose
Like this and this and this,
Small postcards of enormous towers,
Huge blow-ups of small coins,
Or Eschers one can turn for hours
And never find the joins,
Art Bookplates by Rockwell Kent,
And lots and lots and lots and lots
Of words you never meant.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
You fear that I might curse
The next love that you feel.
Oh, I would do much worse
If your fears were real.

But had I powers like this,
Did you never think
I’d have made our bliss
Last beyond a blink?

I’m innocent of how
One summons any powers.
May love that lulls you now
Last as long as ours.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
This is the word poets never mince,
But whisper for posterity.
Unimaginably intense
And difficult to grant verity,
Yet here it is, this love which verse
Avows but seldom reifies,
Which won’t get better, can’t get worse,
And fair delinquents deifies.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Sunset doesn’t push the shadows out of boulders with its might.
Sunshine only hid the shadows. It was always night.
Sunrise makes the shadows seem to shrink before encroaching light,
Sunlight only gilds the shadows. It is always night.
Always, always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always, night.

For a million years, or billions, universes blaze with light,
But beyond for countless trillions it is always night.
Super-sensitive perceptions, dazzling so the night seems bright
Die with sensitive perceptors. It was always night.
Always, always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night.

Always, always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night.
Always, always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Philosophers and lyricists illuminate with second sight,
Hiding from the first which whispers, “It is always night.”
Saints and martyrs, soldiers, statesmen, die for what they feel is right.
Out beyond their blazing bonfires, it was always night.
Always, always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night.
Always, always, always, always, always, always, always night,
Always, always, always, always, always, always night.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
My dreams do feel
Completely real
With all their throes and thrills
While daylight seems
Mere dreary dreams
Until I get the bills.

Ah, would I take
The steps to make
My life more colorful
If then the fee
For that should be
That then my dreams got dull?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
My lack of love is ever-present.
Though it isn’t very pleasant,
It would be much worse if I’d
Let it go unversified.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^
You get me, then you let me go.
You say my love is but a show
I’d play for anyone to see.
I marvel how you capture me,
Mere automated, mobile meat,
And plan to live beside you, sweet,
Where I’m so fully understood–
And then you add that I’m no good.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
When floods or cyclones threaten buildings where
Museums bear the beauty of all time,
Great mobs build barriers with sandbags there,
For devastating beauty would be crime,

But nothing threatens poetry in rows
Piled tottering into a silent void
Nor notices the warnings posed by those
Whom devastating beauty has destroyed.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
A BRIEF HISTORY OF RELIGION
for Karen Armstrong

Apparently it’s normal
Anytime a storm’ll
Fling a flood or drift at us
To think somebody’s miffed at us,

So we build an altar
And compose a psalter
And deliver something gory
Which we pray is placatory.

Then if storms continue
We sweeten up the menu
With a flock of sacrifices
And self-punishing devices.

If despite our striving
Troubles keep arriving,
We decide a second figure
Is responsible for our rigor.

Just to keep it tidy,
We say the almighty
Also made our persecutor,
Possibly to serve as tutor.

Then confusions enter
And we tend to splinter
Into stern salvationists
Or prim predestinationists

Who tend to burn each other,
Murmuring, “Oh, brother,
What a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to believe.”
^^^^^^^^^
USUALLY
for George Orwell

Usually…

There’s a dominant male
To whom each prominent male
Owes fealty
And realty,
And a middle class
Which gains a little class
By loyalty
To royalty
And having more class
Than the lower class
Which labors
And kills neighbors,
But is kept below hysterical mass
By a clerical class
Which promises Hell
If it should rebel,
But Heaven
If it works till seven.

There’s an academic class
Anxious to mimic class
And to philosophize
Till it ossifies.
There’s a military class,
Slash, missionary class
Whose profession
Is aggression
Against alien classes
(Called mammalian masses)
They impress into slavery
Through Bibles and bravery,
And a Bohemian class
Forced to live like a simian class
Making art giving
Reasons for living
Which is all that endures
Of these cultures of yours
Usually…
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The law of opposites has been long
Our truest metaphor,
For notice how the weak are strong,
The rich are poor.

No surer lesson can be taught
In your most solemn schools,
For mark you how the great are naught,
The wise are fools.

Love certain teaches to reverse
Hope and despair,
For it will prove a gift a curse,
The fair unfair.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I do not ask you to pretend,
Defend, or to deny.
You say our love is at an end.
I ask you simply, “Why?”

I say that I must disappear
Into a mist of men,
It being torture to be near.
You ask me simply, “When?”

And when I sleep in earthen plot,
As even true loves do,
They’ll ask if I was true or what,
And you’ll say only, “Who?”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Tolerate my playing your
Butcher, barber, and masseur,
Though regarding me at most
As a pad and scratching post,
All the while behind your eyes
Wondering when I’ll get wise,
And you are a cat.

Come or go at my command,
Frantic but to feel my hand.
Run for anything I’ve tossed,
Eat the cookies you just lost.
Dot the carpeting with dew
If I deign to notice you,
And you are a dog.

Sell yourself as like the dog
In the prior catalog,
Tacitly denying that
You are kinsman to the cat.
Swear on penalty of hell
You believe the lies you tell,
And you are a man.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Raphael died at thirty-seven,
Already deemed, “divine.”
Whereas Caravaggio,
Comparatively adagio,
Waited till thirty-nine.

Toulouse-Lautrec invaded Heaven
Barely still thirty-six.
It’s not very nice that
At just about twice that
I still don’t belong in their mix.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
FOR A.

In Ellwood, where the monarch butterfly
Mates by the millions, is a small motel
Where I may visualize how you and I,
Once milling multitudes have cast their spell,
Might send some reasonably-purchased guy
Fluttering now to Heaven, now to Hell,
You at his outcrop, I his under-eye,
Taking the pleasures we each give so well.

I see you in the black jockstrap you wear,
You me in black fleece-wear with tented crotch
Before our faces crush against him where
You see but curling hair, I flexing notch.
We tremble. But this all is in the air,
Fluttering fantasy only I may watch.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
THE THEORY OF ROMANCE

There are two souls, and never any more,
And they have met a hundred ways before:
Across a courtyard red with suitor’s blood,
In temples when the one was demi-god,
After a shipwreck on a shining strand,
In catacombs against a great command,
Intelligent with the availing loin
That there was somewhere radiance to rejoin.

And mighty as their longings were their deeds.
There is little else a person reads
But how the lodestones of an age will bother
To come within the compass of each other.

They have intrigued as foreigners, unknown,
Drawn swords from water, water out of stone,
Channeled phantasms, charted darkling stars,
Led helpless populations into wars.
Over uncharted land or soundless sea,
On ages of invention if need be
Each generation, the idiot-savants
Do algebras of action to meet once.

“And in Utopia, built along their roads,
Where there are lists of everyone’s abodes,
On unimportant errands of the state,
We met by chance, and chancely chanced to mate.”

Repose, dear soul, your fellow soul beside,
Again united and identified,
However briefly, or however long,
Do not delude yourself you have it wrong.
Be sure this quiet encounter was intense
As when our lust broke out in monuments.
In lives, who knows how perilous and rich,
We shall re-meet, not knowing which is which,
But not again, perhaps, without a hitch.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The road to Heaven is lined with trees,
Heavy with fruits and loud with bees,
And heavenly lads lie under these
Like fruits upon the flowers.

The lads grow fairer from tree to tree,
So any pilgrim eventually
Collapses on his capacity
In one if the boy-filled bowers.

But they are not traps and not temptation,
But only benevolent compensation
For failing to reach our destination,
In sweet relief to wrap us.

For there are few, though there are some,
Ever could make Elysium
To find ambrosia in their cum
And in their arms – Priapus!
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
For all I hate the status quo,
There’s one convention I adore
That I abandon honor for
And let the whole machinery go
And with all falsehood join
And bury the truth in lies
To bury the face of my loin
In the bosom of your thighs.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Oh, you were lovely, worth the wanting,
And the wanting long.
As for the hunger, as for the haunting,
Soothe them with the song.

And you were long in contemplating
Whether to belong.
As for the wanting, as for the waiting,
Hold them in the song.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Your calling me “trivial” of course

Brings me nothing resembling bereavement.

Gravity’s merely a natural force–

Levity, an achievement!

**************************************

He really is cute,

That number behind me.

He looks like he’d find me

His beau absolute.

He’d gently retrieve me

From my wretched route

And never would leave me

At dawn destitute.

 

I know you repute

Love is likely to blind me,

You’re kind to remind me

A beau is a brute,

But belay and believe me.

I’ve grown more astute.

He doesn’t deceive me.

He really is cute.

********************

I dream of sleep, I deeply dream of sleep.

I hunger to become as numb as stone.

The world around me slumbers dark and deep.

Throughout the night I read and write alone.

 

The mobs I move through dream themselves a king

Who will reform the planet for their sake,

And thugs fight for the job like anything.

How much of this am I supposed to take?

 

There are so many times I want to scream,”

“The world around me is a fever dream.”

There are so many times I want to shout,

“What have you people got to sleep about?”

******************************

Poets advised that love is brief

Even as you came calling.

That I accepted their belief,

Today I find appalling.

 

Love is not brief, as poets bray.

Why have they so insisted?

Love is still with me night and day,

Though you have gone unlisted.

********************************

Oh, dear, I hear Love’s rallying song

Deep in my inner distance,

Marshaling molecules like a throng

Of foolhardy resistance.

 

You fools, he’s always done you wrong.
Whence this inane persistence?

Himself has led you to your long,

Unbearable existence.

 

But you go ga-ga at his gong,

Regenerate enlistants,

And I among you with a thong,

A Roman warning Christians.

************************

Artistic purity within

Requires externalizing sin.

To make art’s victory complete

Requires encompassing defeat.

To fill a work of art with breath

Requires experiencing death.

 

Yet artificers must survive

To make their artifacts alive

And rise above the sordid past

To win their laurels at the last

And keep the clearest eyes of youth

To catch the merest glimpse of truth.

 

Therefore, some surrogate must choose

To desecrate and die and lose

In any fabricator’s place,

So by osmosis of embrace

The artist touches all extremes

Of the most universal themes.

 

Imagine then the conflicts of

Two artists in what’s known as love.

******************************

Of fair Bosie, Oscar was tremulous.

Of famed Oscar, Bosie was emulous.

This came to no good.

Their love really should

Have been broken off at the stimulus.

**********************
THREE SONGS FROM “OSCAR WILDE: THE OPERA”

NARCISSUS
VERSE:
Oscar Wilde
Was hardly riled
When styled as “superficial.”
In his response
To dilletantes,
This pensée was initial:

CHORUS:
Narcissus
Gazed in a pool at his beauty.
He was the loveliest of Attic youths.
His suitors clamored,
But he, all enamored.
Cried, “All of you who pursue Achaean me,
Suddenly
I see what you see in me!”

Narcissus
Understood cosi fan tutti
And how incarnate human perfection soothes.
He cried, “I adore it!”
But when he reached for it,
The surface where heavenly bliss appeared
Suddenly
Rippled and disappeared.

Some poet
Said he pitifully pined away for love
And turned into a rather fragile flower,
But poets have no wit.
He simply lay there night and day for love,
Developing his spirit’s agile power.

Narcissus,
Wholly devoted to duty,
Deriving from surfaces profoundest truths
Of interaction,
Reflection, refraction,
Cried to the sky, “Leave books upon your shelves.
Suddenly
You’ll know everything, once you have known yourselves!”
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
ARTE NOUVEAU
VERSE:
As I told Mister Oscar Wilde,
Causing him to make a sour vinaigrette face,
“I’ve put away the things of a child.
Take back your tacky silver cigarette case.
Mister Beardsley and Mister Whistler give
The things by which a lad can live
Past the turn of the century:

CHORUS I:
“Willows both windswept and placid;
Peacocks both full-fanned and flaccid;
Impassioned Impalas,
Magnolia mandalas
All show
It’s arte nouveau.

Muses entwined in an orchard;
Woodwork transcendently tortured;
Tarantular tresses,
Cubistic caresses
All show
It’s arte nouveau.

Hyancinths of amethyst are set into a spread of
Opalescent dragonflies some drug addict has read of,
Then stamped into a lampshade and set upon the head of
A sniggering
Figurine
Triggering
Juices to flow
Like Cointreau,
Oh,

Crocii convolving in crystals,
Peonies plaiting their pistils,
A lily epiphany,
Louis Comfort Tiffany,
My, how your garden does grow,
And I’m smart,
So I’ll part
With my heart
For a cart
Full of arte
Nouveau!

CHORUS II:
“A mystical mastic aurora
Combining both fauna and flora,
A nacreous nymph
Done in lilac and lymph
So you’ll know
It’s arte nouveau.

Salome has often been skinnier,
But never quite so curvilinear.
There’s a geletal amour
And her skeletal pursuer
That must of
Been Gustav
Moreau!

Semiliterate minglings of Harlequins and Pierrots,
Semisolid heroines and silhouetted heroes,
Abelard hugs Eloise and Eros chases Neros
In a flowering,
Bowering,
Towering
Tribute to Poe
Or Rimbaud,
Oh,

Limning and lettering married,
Carrying more than the text ever carried;
A superficial stroke
Based on broken Baroque,
Cankered Classic, or racked Roccoco,
And its price will improve,
So I’ll groove
For a trouve
Full of arte nouv-
Eau!

CHORUS III:
“A poetess poses as Circe,
A lad as La Belle Dame Sans Merci;
Angels in pearly cues
Twirl into curlicues
Perilously inapropos;

Processions of seraphim set out,
Pre-Rapahelite as all get-out;
Deliquescent swans cast
In iridescent bronze cast
A cortical,
Vortical
Glow!

A circular tubercular purporting to be Priam
On a minaret so degenerate it frightened Omar Khayam
In turpentine so serpentine they changed the scene to Siam
Makes a shimmery,
Glimmery,
Emery
Memory
So
Pre-Deco,
Oh!

Moon-maidens moan in monotony
Among blossoms unknown to botany
On a poster so smart
It advances the art
While it plugs Sarah Bernhardt’s new show,
And its value will grow,
So I’ll go
Oh-so-low
For some arte nouveau!
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
ONE STAR

One star,
Like a tiny paper lantern, there you are.
One star,
Who would ever think that I could see so far?

One bright,
Little, shiny point of brightness in the night.
One might
Think that everything just might turn out all right.

But then,
One might think and think again
Just how distant
Is your sweet, persistent
Light.

My star,
Have you never, ever even known we are
So far,
And so very, very all alone so far?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

COLLEGE POEM (1956)

Kay, I was trying to make you.

My wisdom that you admired

Was bitterly acquired

In my futile attempts to take you,

Whose only consequence

Was to leave me so discouraged

That I never again have foraged

And I haven’t learned anything since.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Make three wishes.
Make them all come true.
One of them is him.
One of them is you.

That’s two wishes.
When they’re both begun,
Wait a long, long time
For the other one.

Will it be prosperity
And lots of work to do?
Will it be posterity
And happy children on your knee?

Take two wishes,
Then when life is done,
If they’ve both come true,
Then you won’t ever need another one.

Wishes one and two
Look like coming true
So you won’t ever need another one.

May I make the third?
It’ a single word.
With love you’ll never need another one.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“THE EVERYONE SENTENCE”
Everyone has an “Everyone” sentence,
Cherished beyond any hope of repentance.
“Everyone’s crooked.” “Everyone’s selfish.”
Clung to more closely than ever a shellfish
Clung to the crannies of undersea coral,
“Everyone’s stupid” or “blind” or “immoral.”
Any attempt at communication
Crashes against an intense declaration
Rapider far than a cheetah is rapid:
“Everyone’s lazy” or “Everyone’s vapid.”
Usually it’s when a person is youthful
That they decide that the sentence is truthful.
When first they encounter a cheat or a charmer,
Experience clamps them in cynical armor,
So no one will ever again break or breach them,
Nor any response reconcile them–or reach them,
So “Everyone’s lying,” or “Everyone’s hedging”
Is chiseled in stone with an adamant edging,
Stronger than pledges, commandments, or tenets,
The Everyone Sentence is a life sentence.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

 

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One Response to “A STRAIN OF LAUGHTER-Poems by Robert Patrick”

  1. Ted Faigle Says:

    Thanks for posting this page. I found it (via Facebook) on the 18th anniversary of my first partner’s death – he died after we were together for just shy of 20 years. I can relate and appreciate. I have leftover photo albums from our relationship, which I rarely look through any more: hundreds of pictures of him and so many friends no longer with us. Most of them checked out early and in the same time period: mid 80s – mid 90s. I just never know what mix of pain, pleasure, anger and sorrow it may bring to look through them too often. Ultimately, I just feel lucky to be one of the survivors… And having pretty much rebounded from my PTSD years I feel driven, at last, to make sure in some way that it was not a mistake that I am one.

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