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Thursday, March 27, 2008



Don't get me wrong.

Should I appear distracted,
Look knocked out by the light.
You make a very strong performance,
A singularity round whose axis my mind spins.

I remember once, years ago,
When I landed in New York,
After living a year and half in Europe,
How the neon of America
Seemed so awesomely garish, and bright.
Yet, when I close my eyes and picture it,

All seems pale before the radiance of your face.

Two people may meet for morning breakfast,
Look out the café's window at the steady rain,
Walk here and there along avenues of
Inviting store fronts, and before the day is over
Fall into hopeless passion one for the other,
As though there be something in the air,
Perhaps some electromagnetic charge.
So the occasional electricity might overwhelm us.

Or cupid steals behind fixtures of thoroughfares.
(That day I spied him crouched near a mailbox,
When we began to walk main street
in Point Pleasant!)

The winged child pulls from his quiver arrows,
Which are dripping wet with potion, and once he aims
And shots them, grievously they tear
The mortal flesh and make for a ruckus
And expectations suddenly become great.

This romance now so hard upon me,
This love I must ardently profess is, if you please,
Best couched, subjunctive, a mood, which allows

Vantage to range of my regard,
And proper pose for feelings, a sensibility
I proffer to proclaim profound and true.

I solely express my own wishes and desires,
And do not willfully command.

I have no special outcome in mind.

I live in the fortress called Zion,
And come from it in the Pilgrims' coat and hat.
I look in the mirror and see their collar and tie.
And, like those passengers on board the Mayflower,
I know the Lord to be my helper. I fear not.

Who among your former friends has ever said it better?

And were you to live long and hearty life,
As all actuaries predict,
What future friend might ever say it better?

And should you for a moment consider,

This lyric comes, transcending everyday concerns,
That it joins, Sentiment Supreme, Him, the real pilot,

When we drove in the white, Ford van and crossed
Jersey's North shore highways, while the brown,

Oh that magic, gentle, dream-like, living, pale, ethereal,

And somewhat golden light accented the downpours,
Whose constant unleashed falling, seemed more
Like the storm the Lord had promised Noah,
Than any explicable, temporary weather.

Wie es eigentlich gewesen war.
'The carriage held but just us -- and immortality.'

And since we first drove around together,
Though it is months ago,
It feels shorter than the day,
I first surmised the engine's mounts
Were tied to point, and we, too, were belted,
Hurled straight ahead in covenant with eternity.

Monday, March 24, 2008



I know that by the time Isabel reaches her teens
She'll want to read all the love letters Dad sent to Mom,

And Mother, ever attentive to the moral
order of the home,
Will have censored some details of delight,
until the child
Attains the age to possess the missives
in her own right.

And our son will study the photographs, taken when
His parents' passion was young;
he will marvel at his Mother's beauty
And from her beauty learn standards necessary
when choosing a wife of his own.

And our children will cherish the memory of how
we read to them
Night after night over the years until they fell asleep.

And their minds retain the cadence of nursery rhymes,
And the breathy note of excitement
in tales of heroic adventure,

And how stories of fantasy and magic create
memories of wonderful delight.

Their rooms teem with books, which later comprise
a library that remains the envy of posterity.

And most of all our children remember
the hugs and kisses,
The times they rode on our shoulders
their arms around our necks
The softness of our voice when we spoke to them,
The affection lavished without stint imparting
a calm warm within
And the happy soul evident
from childhood in a good home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008



Seven years ago, we started, friends,
Acquaintances, commercially. Later, you worked
With me, sorting jewelry. Jarek thought
Us well suited, maybe a steady couple,
Figured we might enjoy, complement each other.

He said he saw you eyeing me.
I feared a disaster, but he said, "Blame me, Stanley!
You can always blame me for everything."

Last Saturday at the Pizzeria,
Ten AM in a very busy place,
Despite our aversion to public affection,
We lost ourselves in caress.
It was prolonged and remarkably tender.
We were standing up,
Up from our table and chairs for all to see.

God! I love to kiss you!

Later, a counterman asked, were we dating?
I heard him think, "Not bad!"
His eyes declared your beauty!
I wanted to agree, but answered, "No."

Passion strong, I want you.

Our love went awry.
You abandon every solemn promise,
Pull up stakes, leaving me at home alone, miserable.
Still wisdom counsels me to patience.
A doctor reminds me breaking bonds, the ties
Between lovers, not inconsequential,
She says, "It's not a change of shoes."

I followed her order, making an inventory.
I listed the virtues, the gifts and pleasures,
The good qualities about us. I put them to paper twice.
I started with our business acumen, noting, first,
Our mutual attention to detail, (we never misplaced,
Or lost a thing), then our discipline, we operated
Like clockwork, yet we always had fun,
Scouring tables and racks for hidden treasure,
And played games of show and tell.
We were a team, and business profited.

Next, continuing doctor's precept, I wrote,
We worked out personal protocols, settled on behaviors,
So to create wellbeing, daily, and household harmony.
I marked our mutual hope, the promise,
Carnal and spiritual fat, years of it. We felt
The dream of proverbial bounty, fantastic, was ours.
We were being brought unto a good land and a large,
Not unlike the fulfillment of the Biblical foretelling,
Unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

Reconsider the plus and the minus, love's ledger,
And your skill at cost accounting's good,
You must surmise how tiny the downside be,
And know the total burden amount to no great sum.

Frugal, you never needlessly cast away a thing.
Yet waste time. Squander the crafted continuum,
The more than a year and a half, our life to date,

Discard, wantonly, though you profess love,

And write of your ardor for me still.

Deaf to your beating bosom,
Refusing when you already knew,
You knew! Gott in Himmel! Ach der lieber!
You deny your soul, your very passion for a man,
Who would sacrifice his life for yours!

In early youth I learned love,
While listening to music on the radio.

When I lived in Germany, half a life ago,
American soldiers played it on the jukebox.
And I heard it from Sweden on the web today,
The youth channel, clear and loud,
Singer and song, similar or the same,
The moon, big and bright, in the Milky Way tonight,
Oh, Yes! Its lyric hollers. Time's a wasting,
There are kisses not tasted, and the hook repeats
Whole lot of living, whole lot of loving to do,
The life, the love and kisses! No one
Would I rather do it with than you.

You, that moon of song and yore,
Your reflected image, I had it in my net.
But when I went to pull it up, it sank,
Not like a fish, but as a large, awesome, golden coin.

A fisherman, I set to sea and trawl above
Muck and seaweed, and the debris of sunken vessels,
Seeking to net splendid satellite consort.

You ruin it, me being alone!

Overcome by yearning,
Believing I can no longer go on,
Face my life without you, I turn to this ritual.
I try to make matters worse.
It's a mental trick, a maneuver whereby
I practice the increase of my anguish, actually.
I call scenes of happy times to mind,
The wonders of our life together so far.

I recall the times I waited for you,
When I sat under the gazebo in early sun
At the Amish fairground in Columbus. The delight,
Carrying your purchases to our van,
Hurrying off to the next market stall,
There we chose fruit to last the week.

And then I hark back to the highway near Princeton,
The late sunlight dappled through trees,
And touched my arm at the window
In such a magic way, that, I told you the moment,

This present instance… the happiest in my life.

Oh, how good! How good! I, wide-awake,
Within eidetic dream, glimpsed the New Jerusalem,
Gott in Himmel. Alles geht gut mit der Welt!

When these among my fondest day dreams
Have truly knocked my spirits flat,
I return, again, I recall one instance more, one more,
Still another rapture and bring it to the fore,
It is then! Then I know I can withstand anything!

I am not weeping, just weary with you in my mind.
I weep when angry, then I weep.
Were I not completely drained, I would weep more.

I, I saw the situation was wrong right from the start,
Though I thought things might be different between us.
Over and over, again and again, every day's a rerun,
Countless slights, indignities, lack of common courtesy,
Little or no gratitude, without faith in God's abiding love.
I wrote you letters. I said your bad behavior hurt me.
At the breaking point and wanting out,
I was desperate, fearing I would lose you forever,
I believed your plea and vow.

"Take me back and I'll change. I'll be good, I swear!"

I made you put it in writing,
And for a short while things improved,
Though, ultimately, what you wrote meant nothing.

You lead me on.
Your rearing has not allowed veracity.
About our relationship, you told no one, not even you.

The more you revealed to me,
Once I learned your dark history,
Became privy to your secret habit,
The more, the more distant love grew
The truth, your personal truth sundered us.

Help me, be my friend and
Come back home and sleep with me again.

Take the key and open the door,
See the beckoning path,
It lies right there before you,
Learn what countless generations know,
Willingness to change brings us life that works.
A small step prepares the leap.

Remember the sweet, sweet caresses.
Tarry not! How soon all opportunity vanishes,
Consider the moment, the public affection,
If not for you, please, for me.

The hurly-burly of time overwhelms us.
No significance remains, boundless and bare,
Darling, the lone and level sands stretch far away.

Thursday, March 13, 2008



It was just past mid summer's eve.

Market day show booth set up the usual way

With necklaces hanging, bazaar-like,
From chain strung over head to poles
From corner to corner, forming
the appearance of arches,
Under which you strolled,
You entered the booth, said 'Hello!'

We chatted, exchanging pleasantries,
Nothing of note, until the revelation
The shorts you sported bore the Diesel brand,
You bought them in Philly for only fifty cents.
You asked my thoughts on the matter.

My God in Heaven! Yow!
I saw the fit was swell, smashing, absolutely!

So, among the many things
Under mind's review, the last,
The label was the last, and the price,
How low the purchase price
Never occupied my mind.

Later you returned,
Modeling a vintage gown,
With a few, quick twirls,
And queried, again, my opinion.
My thoughts were not about the dress.
I barely remember it.

Was the fabric chiffon, synthetic, cotton, silk?
The design abstract, bold green and yellow
Splashes accented it, against light orange,
Diaphanous background, I believe.
But were my hand upon a Bible
In court of law, I could not swear to it!

Oh! The gorgeous way you looked!

Irrelevant to my delight,
Your choice of clothes,
The day you stood before me,
As if by gateways framed,
Under arches of necklaces
Strung from chain above you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008



Uneasy, when it came to sex.
You made me feel
I was doing you wrong.
Your body stiffened,
And you said, breathy and low,
‘Too incredibly intimate.’

Later I watched in movies,
Men drop to the knees.
It seem nothing special,
No more than regular business,
Hollywood does its usual fare.

In a recent Arab film,
Hardly a trend setter,
The man takes his captive,
Wife number three,
And keels to take
Love by mouth.

Since I knelt before you,
It’s months now.
I wish I might kneel,
As the sheik did!
But you, and health, and work,
And sleep are gone,
Fled irrevocably!

I wake in the middle of shouts.

I taste you, still.
The taste, it fills my mouth.
I try to write,
But swoon instead.

Oh, Oh goodness!
Fetch a chair! ...Never mind,
I’m fine. I’m okay.

It’s the terrible heat!

Monday, March 3, 2008



Were I a gentleman true, gallant,

The kind if chap with plumage in his hat,
Whose cape readies for damsel's distress,
I would say let's end it now; you're
Too young or, even better put, I'm
Too old for love with a beauty your age.

But let’s face it!
No simple convention has hold on me.
Long ago, it was in the woods of
Western Massachusetts,
I saw time tunnel down the trail before me.
I saw the nature of things, the whirl into which all
we know disappears.

And tonight
faces of the dead have startled me awake.
Family and friends float before me.
Oh the calamity! Death holds both young
and old alike!

Darling, the air in my bedroom dropped
to the temperature of ice.

I envision my aunt, Helene, and see her
When she says to the child who is me, 'Stanley!
Go ahead! Touch her!' My cousin, Barbara,
Lies in her coffin before the age of six,
a year older than I.

My buddy, Burton, cut down well before prime;
Thought of him occupies my every day.

Revelry brings me to Joey who cried
'Whitney's dead!' And right there
On Fifth Avenue, opposite the Public Library,
He placed his gun on the glass of the showcase
Counter top. I was in the jewelry shop.
I dreamed a slip
Back to former ways, the drinking life;
I could taste the whiskey shots
Dispensed that afternoon, Johnnie Walker Black.

The haunting went on;
more of the dead paraded before me.
Omar, tall, dark and handsome,
The child, Spencer, my son's best friend,
My high-school sweethearts, Arlene and Lynn,
All taken, all unwitting emblems, as if to prove,
Life bears no promise of continuance.

Nightmare arms with disembodied hands,
wagged imaginary fingers
As if to demand I pick up pen and write.

But before one dream ceased another appeared.
I saw the birds of the air keep still.
Those who were eating did not eat,
And those who were conveying
material to make nest,
Did not convey it, and before me opened a scene
Of low surf beaches upon which were long ships,
Vessels whose hulls had center masts
With single, rectangular sails, blood red,
And from gar boards up were stakes, broad-axed
Hewed, each board a color its own, and
Each board nailed one upon the other,
The sides of those ships appeared

like the bands of rainbows.
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
indigo and regal violet.
Color upon color ran the length of keels, which
Themselves were crowned gold with fierce,

dragon-head prows.

Rudders were mounted at right,
and within each craft
Upon rows and rows of chests sat oars men.

The ships were set to sail,
yet the entire assembled host
Seemed as if stuck in stone,
like sculpture done in high relief.
Nothing moved.
The waves had stopped, and broke not.

It was a night. What a night!
It was, it really was, what a remarkable night!

Never before had I beheld
such Technicolor panorama.
The closed world of family and friends
fell to vision from other time and place.
My bedroom warmed. And a true,
second sense intimated Spring,
Prelude to some glorious Scandinavian summer.

Light, bright, bright day dawned, and it thrilled me.
I readied for adventure. I was happy,
exhilarated beyond all normal sense.

And, then, a bearded visage loomed before me.
It was strange, unlike anything I had ever seen.
It wore a helmet, a four part iron dome with a

sharp spike atop.
A braided chain surrounded his eye sockets,
giving a spectacle-like appearance to his visor.
Down the back of his neck, mounted from
the edge of his helmet.
A chain-mail curtain fell directly to the shoulder
of a thick, hide tunic.
A strap from ear guard to ear guard dropped
behind his beard, held his helmet in place.

He said, 'Action! Please!' At once, as though
My whole vision be some kind of cinematic construct,
I heard birds of the air singing,
Those who were eating ate, those who
Were conveying material to make their nests,
conveyed it.
The shipyard had come to life; the din was terrific.
On horizon's plane I heard low thunder.
And saw the spray of waves
sparkle in the daylight.

I wondered do I sleep or do I wake?

'Today', the specter said, 'before I appeared
in vision to you,
A fierce fit seized my brain, and I took my sword
And smashed it mightily
Against this stone which our men
had trundled from the moraine,
A monument on whose face inscribed characters
memorialized my life.’

Wordlessly he handed me a leather roll to unfurl.
It was a runic manuscript and though
the writing was old’n Svenska, I could read it!

'My Darling Brunet,’ the salutation went,
'I am your countryman, a remote ancestor,
I tell you true, and whether you believe me or not,
Or how you choose to act,
it rests entirely with you.
Nonetheless I urge you. Harken!

‘Death has deprived me of ability to speak,
The poet’s verse, the dream
it communicates to you,
Is but channel, the vehicle this ghost employs,
Without this medium
no correspondence would exist.

‘You have heard of the hurried activity that
animates the point of embarkation,
Note anticipation of mere material success
Dwarfs so much noble human endeavor.
The business these ships portend had once been mine.

‘The business these ships portend had been mine.

‘And now voyager, you, like we before you,
Pursue the world to bring it to your feet,
To bring new riches home to dazzle compatriots.

‘Yet, whatever the greatness now awaits you,
Yours can not compare to ours,
to our accomplishment.

Forgive the invidious note. Still mull it over,
If even for a moment. Imagine it!

‘The joy! We sat well in order
And smote the sounding furrows, and
sailed into the sunrise
We headed toward the baths of the morning stars.

‘And when we landed, we transversed a vast,
unnamed, Eurasian landmass,
Harnessed captives to forge the rivers, fought
numberless skirmishes,
Used native allies to establish posts for trade.

‘And while we traveled we beseeched Odin,

‘Oh Father! Oh Father of Fathers! Oh Allfather!
Soak us in the blood of enemies, and let its
Stench increase our fury. Help us to violence!
Oh Great God guide us to kill any whom defy us.

‘The greater bloody smell that filled our nostrils,
the more the madness to fight and conquer.

‘And when we lit the funeral pyres
made from the ships of recent travels,
And burned the bodies of our fallen comrades
into the heaven that awaits the warrior.
Our hair was matted
thick with the ash of the departed.
We breathed in the spirits of heroic conquest
in the smoke from those fires.

‘We were men of prayer and momentous belief,
Utterly turning our will and lives
over to care of Father.

‘And I ask, again, how may yours compare
to ours, to our conquest of the East.

‘We founded Kiev, established the thrones
That became the Royal house of a great nation.

‘All the way from the soil of Stora Alvaret,
we crossed the Bosphorus,
And battled foes on the plains outside Byzantium
in the employ of oriental Emperors.

‘We had vanquished the expanse of land from
Baltic to Black Sea.

‘And when we returned to homeland shores
We had ships filled with slaves and honey.
We brought woman companions North,
awesome beauties of the East.
We stole the horses of the Hungarians
and the Czechs.
Our hulls bore bags upon bags of gold
and silver coin, and were heaped
With all variety of fruit and
pelts of fur for our winters.
We had returned home rich beyond measure.

‘Now I am but a shade, truly ghost of former self.
No one need tell me how the gravestone script
Commemorates your ancestors’ deeds and mine.

‘Yet nothing matches the warmth of a dear
wife’s body in bed for sleep.

‘Once, and now so many years ago,
I happened upon my wife while she lifted
Our son to seat him on the front plank
Of an oxcart parked in the front of our home.

‘I must convey that there be
more lasting memory and real worth for me,
In the way dappled sunlight had illuminated
my son's head,
Than there is upon all the runes that stand today
in the homeland.

‘Our paths emerge but for a while then close
forever within a dream.

‘Time cuts us a length so short
only the moment may be savored,
All else is vanity, and in the recognition of
the transitory
We may seize the instance and recognize
true treasure.

‘I am a shade. My victories mean nothing.

‘Were I only able to spend another hour
in the arms of my beloved.
If I could only bear again my living witness
to sun’s light across tree tops
at the height of the day.

‘If only it were possible to play, to tumble
with my toddler son,
To crawl upon earth with him once more.

‘Goodbye! Sweet woman, Goodbye!

‘Farewell! Farewell! Remember me!’

He vanished. The dreamscape turned green.

And the color now before me matched the color,
The verdant, the summer green of those
preserves of forest
That stretch for mile upon mile
along the River Desplaines
The green that matched the color, the wood,
Which circled the cemetery stone,

the burial ground of the Chippewa Chief
Whose bravery saved the pale skins
at Fort Dearborn,
The green was the color of the burial plot,
The Indian Burial Ground
where I played in my youth.

And, now, out from this world of green
voices declared

‘Go slowly, my lovely moon, go slowly.
For time chases upon our heels,
Before too long it quickens its pace to
furious gallop.
All earthly store succumbs to this onslaught.
In a wisp, like the language of our monuments,
we cease, and we are remembered no more.’

And over and against this green
a spectral chorus appeared,
And from that group a single figure stepped
to the fore, and said

‘I repeat the ancient wisdom,
What do we care what the joyless say?
They should get lost, all of them!
Once our tiny, brief light is pinched out,
There be no night, like that everlasting night,
When earth replaces heaven.

‘So let’s kiss, and let’s kiss again.
Let’s kiss a thousand times, and, then,
Let’s do it all over again, those kisses.

‘How many? How many? How many?
How many, you say?

‘Let’s let our kisses be unnumbered.
There are people with malevolent eyes,
Workers of black magic,
who would wish to bewitch us.

‘They should not know how many.’

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