Deportation

Here’s one from the pressure cooker of World War Two. An image as relevant to our world now, as it was then. I title it: Deportation.

 

moonbeams

pierce

the rocking

freight car

to wash over

cracked lips

that mutter

litanies

spanning

centuries

Some Images

I’m finally back after a long stint with bilateral hip surgery. It’s good to be back on my feet and walking better than ever. Oh, and I just moved back to the D.C. area — Fairfax, Virginia. I missed it a lot, and it’s good to be home.

Here are a few images I’ve been working with. Not exactly the Imagism of Ezra Pound, but not exactly shlock either. Let me know what you think.

drizzle glazes
the fallen leaves
and blades of grass
uncovered by the wind
__________________________________
the pail clinks on the dark stoop
a cat bawls in the alley out back
__________________________________
walking late over the covered bridge:
the cacophony of crickets

Days Gone By (Revised)

Sorry, guys. Found a typo in the poem. Should have read “wild timber” instead of “wind timber.” Wild timber makes a little more sense. I apologize for the confusion in the verbage. Here’s the poem again with the correction.

 

it’s strange

the sounds

a house

can make

windows

rattling

lights

buzzing

the slow

baritone

of the place

settling

reminds me

of a boat

i had once

the wooden hull

would groan

like wild timber

when the wind

came up

just right

and she clipped

across the bay

her sails bulging

that was a

long time ago

a lifetime

it’s funny

you find yourself

looking back

to a time

when you were

younger

stronger

less afraid

a time when

all it took

to boil

your blood

was the toss

of the sea

maybe a

humpback

breaching

off your port

and the veins

in your hands

blue

and bulging

with life force

as you gripped

the wheel hard

in the current

Days Gone By

Here’s one about the sea from the pile on my desk. Sometimes I go to the stack and pull out something that catches my eye. Kafka was more organized. He filled shoe boxes and chucked them into his closet. Maybe I’ll do that, too. I like the idea of stacks of boxes filled with poems. The verse below was titled October. For the life of me, I can’t remember why I chose that moniker. I have changed it to Days Gone By.

 

it’s strange

the sounds

a house 

can make

windows

rattling

lights

buzzing

the slow

baritone

of the place

settling

reminds me

of a boat

i had once

the wooden hull

would groan

like wind timber

when the wind

came up

just right

and she clipped

across the bay

her sails bulging

that was a 

long time ago

a lifetime

it’s funny

you find yourself

looking back

to a time

when you were

younger

stronger

less afraid

a time when

all it took

to boil

your blood

was the toss

of the sea

maybe a

humpback

breaching

off your port

and the veins

in your hands

blue

and bulging

with life force

as you gripped 

the wheel hard

in the current

Urban

Don’t think this poem has made it onto my blog. Let me know if I’m wrong. But even if I’m wrong, this one is always right.

 

granite

and gargoyle

sketches of stone

measures of rhythm

on cardboard sky

 

press of people

gilded flesh

mannequins

like marionettes

 

d-i-g-i-t-a-l

b-i-l-l-b-o-a-r-d-s

infinite matrix

neon morph

of metallicity

 

matrix of din

rage of steel

rage of glass

rage of human ash

Rebel Whiskey

This one reads like narrative. But I consider it more of a poem. See what you think.

 

The rain lets up. You walk out on the deck, watch the moon strain through the thick sky. You remember Armstrong. It was ’69. Back when you were young and anything was possible. You strain to see that first step. The one for all mankind. And you trade the Red Dog for the dark bottle with no label. That rebel whiskey trucked down from the mountains in the middle of the night.

You take a long draw, then another. The shine tastes good, feels good.

You can see your pal, Bobby, in his baseball uniform. You were too young. Too scrawny. But he taught you anyway. Like how to hold the bat. How to swing. Even how to stride to the plate. You can still hear him shout at you, and clap his hands, before each pitch. He’d throw it to you hard. As hard as to all the big kids. That made you proud.

You see Bobby’s wind up. The release. The batter’s futile swing. Those were the good times. The years of your boyhood. The slow easy days along the Chesapeake.

You take another long draw on that rebel whiskey, and remember the day Bobby came home from Khe Sahn — the long slow descent, to the tarmac, of the flag-draped coffin. The air was crisp along the Bay. The leaves were on fire.

You wanted to be just like Bobby, so you enlisted soon as you kid. It was ’76, the war was over, and your first real piece of ass was dedicated to him. The one in that whorehouse just off the Presidio. She was older, but you liked it that way in the heat of the California summer. One night she even gave you one for free: The two of you skinny dipping in that motel pool at two in the morning.

You see yourself back in the barracks, the last night of basic. You were a man like Bobby, and proud. And the next day you shipped out to Germany, and fought the Cold War for the beer and the frauleins.

It’s amazing. A lifetime later and you still see it so clearly. The wind up, the release, the futile swing of the bat. Bobby taught you baseball. You don’t forget that.

The First Drunken Poet on the Becker-Posner Blog

Here’s a little narrative. Politically relevant. Politically incorrect.

 

I came too naked. Smelled like a brewery. At the computer two women wiggled into their clothes, and one called the other mom.

“Oh, God,” I said, and staggered into the bathroom. The unshaved face, the pillow-spiked hair, stared back at me in the mirror. “You’re a sick bastard,” I muttered.

“Hey, sweetie!” the young lady shouted.

But nothing doing. I closed and locked the door.

“What the hell’s he up to?” the mother asked.

“Maybe he’s shy,” the young lady said.

“Fuck him!” shouted the mother. “Let’s get outta here!”

I heard the door slam and came out. On my computer there was a hotshot new blog — Becker-Posner. I read the essay on preventive war, some kind of cost-benefit analysis.

“Bullshit,” I said.

I sifted my drunken brain and shouted its contents: “Yeah, I’ve been to war! 1969! My ass in the grass with a “16,” no TP and absolutely NO GODDAM WEED! I don’t need anybody telling me what it was all about! I knew, we all knew, less than a month off the fucking boat! And it takes THEM two decades to admit to AMERICA that THEY failed to understand the nature of the conflict!”

By this time people down the hall were shouting back at me. Mostly profanity. I bellowed at the top of my lungs like a just-castrated bull: “FAILED TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF THE CONFLICT!”

It roared out the open window into the street. Some young kid on a bike looked up. I leaned over the windowsill and shouted: “Never let’em getcha, little buddy!” He gave me the finger and pedalled away.

My head kept nodding, understanding his rebellion. Finally I turned back to the blog and read the comments under the essay. You know, by all the geeks and brainiacs who had nothing better to do.

I learned there was a storm brewing about one of these guys, Becker or Posner. How he couldn’t write for shit. You know, lots of run-on sentences, a whole lot of passive voice. I recalled Ghandi. How he said he wasn’t passive about anything, even though people branded him a pacifist. So I threw open the door and sailed my rage down the hall: “WRITING SHOULDN’T BE PASSIVE EITHER, GODDAMIT!”

I sifted my brain again. The parts that weren’t flooded by Southern Comfort, Corona Beer and some Italian shit I’ll never pronounce. There was something there, something deep in my gray matter. It had to do with poetry and profanity. Two things I know a lot about. “Focus, focus,” I muttered. Then it came floating to the surface out of that dark frightening abyss.

IT was HENRY MILLER. One of my icons. This NEAR-GOD of my generation. I hit the comment button on Becker-Posner and began to type.

Slowly, methodically, AND WITH GREAT LOVE, I sifted through the golden words of Advice to a Young Writer. I applied my shakey fingers to the great task: write …. delete …. write some more …. delete some more …. work the words …. work’em …. work’em.

When finally done there were three passages left. What I considered the meat of Miller: If you can’t make words fuck, don’t masturbate them! When you speak of Cunt put hair on it! Try to forget everything you learned in college.

I stood there. A big grin. The words loomed majestic like a Lincoln Continental. Then I hit the submit button and off I flew into history. The first drunken poet on the Becker-Posner Blog.

I walked to the corner. Me, my bathrobe, the still-spiked hair. Standing in line, I waited for a latte.

“Any of you read Becker-Posner lately?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said from across the room. “Some asshole with balls left a comment quoting Miller.”

She was seated at a laptop. Lots of long red hair and attitude. All the things I liked.

“That asshole’s me,” I said. “I’ve got standards.”

I told her my trade name. How I write for a living and a reason to live.

“I’ve read you,” she said. “Rebellion, profanity, lots of insanity. Stuff a bitch like me can relate to.”

She got up. All legs. “You locked into that Latte? I make a better cup of coffee at your place.”

She grabbed my arm and steered us toward the door.

“I just hope you’re single,” I said. “And no mother issues.”

She grinned. “I just soaked my ex for a million-five.”

“Oooh,” I said. “You keep getting better and better.”