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Friday, July 24, 2009

NOW VOYAGER, A Poem In Four Parts, Part IV

A Poem In Four Parts,
Part IV

He vanishes. The dreamscape turns green.

And the color now before me matches 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 equals the color, the wood,
The forest which circles the cemetery stone,
The burial ground of the Chippewa Chief
Whose bravery saved the pale skins at Fort Dearborn.

The green is the color of the burial plot,
The Indian Burial Ground where I played in my youth.

And out from this world of green voices declare,

‘Go slowly, my lovely moon, go slowly.

‘Time chases upon our heels,
Before 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 appears,
And from amongst the ensemble,
A single ghost figure steps to the fore, and says,

‘I am here to repeat 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, it 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 not number our kisses.
There are people with evil eyes,
Workers of black magic,
Who would wish to bewitch us.

‘They should not know how many.’

NOW VOYAGER, A Poem In Four Parts, Part III

A Poem In Four Parts,
Part III

'Today', the specter says,
‘Before I appear 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 hands me a leather roll to unfurl.
It is a runic manuscript and though
The writing was olden, Svenska, I could read it!

'My Darling Brunet,’ the salutation goes,

'I am your countryman, a remote ancestor,
I tell you true, and whether you believe me or not,
Or how you choose to act,
The matter 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 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,
It dwarfs so much noble human endeavor.
The business these ships portend had once been mine.

‘The business the ships portend had been mine.

‘And now voyager, you, like we before you,
Pursue the world to bring it to your feet,
You seek new riches and hope
To bring them 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,
Allow me this 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 crossed a vast,
Unnamed landmass between Europe and Asia,
Harnessed captives to forge the rivers,
Fought numberless skirmishes,
We 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
Stenches 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 drove us to fight and conquer.

‘And when we lit the funeral pyres,
Made from the ships of our current travel,
And burned the bodies of our fallen comrades
Into the heaven that awaits the warrior,
Our hair became matted thick,
We were crowned with the ash of the departed.
In the smoke from those fires
We breathed in the spirits of heroic conquest.

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

‘And I ask, again, how yours may compare to ours,
How may yours compare 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,
Our work was in the employ of oriental Emperors.

‘We had vanquished the expanse of land
We ruled 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 were ours.
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,
Our ships returned laden with pelts, fur against 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 great the events
How the gravestone script commemorates
The immortality of your ancestors’ deeds and mine.

‘Yet nothing matches the warmth, the memory,
My dear wife’s body lay in bed, her sleeping next to me.

‘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 is upon all the runes in the homeland today.

‘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 once we recognize the transitory,
The fleetingness of all we savor,
We may seize the instance and know treasure.

‘I am a shade. My victories mean nothing.

‘Were I only able to spend
An hour more in bed with my beloved,
Could I once more bear living witness
To sun’s light across tree tops at height of day.

‘If only it possible to play, to tumble,
To crawl along with my toddler son,
Were we to have opportunity for our knees
And our hands to be upon this earth once more.

‘Goodbye! Sweet woman, Goodbye!

‘Farewell! Farewell! Remember me!’

NOW VOYAGER, A Poem In Four Parts, Part II

A Poem In Four Parts,
Part II

But before one dream ceases another appears.

I see 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 opens a scene
Of low surf beaches upon which are long ships,
Vessels whose hulls have center masts
With single, rectangular sails, blood red,
And from gar boards up are stakes, broad-axed
Hewed, each board a color its own,
And each board nailed one upon the other,
The sides of those ships appear,
Like the bands of rainbows, red, orange, yellow,

Green, blue, indigo and regal violet.
Color upon color runs the length of keels,
Which themselves are crowned gold
Each has its own fierce, dragon-head prow.

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

The ships are set to sail,
Yet the entire assembled host
Seems as if stuck in stone,
Like sculpture done in high relief. Nothing moves.
The waves have stopped, they break not.

What a night! It is,
It really is, what a remarkable night!

Never before have I beheld,
Have I seen such Technicolor panorama.
The closed world of family and friends
It falls to vision from other time and place.
My bedroom warms. And a seemingly true,
But sixth sense intimates Spring,
I bear witness to a prelude,
The dream carries me and I sense the long days,
The glory of Scandinavian summer awakens before me.

Light, bright, bright day dawns, and it thrills me.
I ready for adventure. I am happy,
I am exhilarated beyond normal human confines.

And, then, a bearded visage looms before me.
It is strange, it wears a helmet,
The likes of which I had never before encountered,
A four part iron dome with a sharp spike atop,
A braided chain surrounds its eye sockets,
It gives a spectacle-like appearance to the visor.

Down the back of this visage’s neck,
Mounted from the edge of his helmet,
A chain-mail curtain falls
Directly to the shoulder of a thick, hide tunic.
A strap from ear guard to ear guard
Runs behind his beard, holds his helmet in place.

He says, 'Action! Please!' At once, as though
My dream be some kind of cinematic construct,
I hear birds of the air singing, those who were eating,
Eat, and those who were conveying material

To nest, convey it.

The shipyard has come to life, the din now terrific.
On horizon's plane I hear low thunder.
I see the spray of waves sparkle in the daylight.

I wonder do I sleep or do I wake?

NOW VOYAGER, A Poem in Four Parts, Part I

A Poem in Four Parts,
Part I

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 two-bit convention possesses 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 startle me awake.
Family and friends float before me.

Oh the calamity!
Death holds both young and old alike!

Darling, the air in my bedroom
It drops 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, she was 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 dream a slip back to former ways, the drinking life;
I could taste the whiskey shots, the beverage
Dispensed that afternoon, it was Johnnie Walker Black.

The haunting goes on;
More of the dead, they parade before me.

Omar, tall, dark, forgive me here for I know
No better than the honest truth, 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,
Wag imaginary fingers
As if to demand I pick up pen and write.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

FROM NOW VOYAGER, An Adaptation of Poem V, Gaius Valerius Catullus

An Adaptation of Poem V,
Gaius Valerius Catullus

‘I am here to repeat 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, it 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 not number our kisses.
There are people with evil eyes,
Workers of black magic,
Who would wish to bewitch us.

'They should not know how many.'

BREAKFAST TREAT, After Gaius Valerius Catullus

After Gaius Valerius Catullus

When we spoke today over the telephone,
I purposely diverted our conversating
From what I really had in mind,
To topics you truly enjoy, work and business.

But all the while I wanted to say,
I love you, muffin, you blueberry thing, you;
I love you. I want to eat you alive.

Friday, July 10, 2009

PLEDGING MY LOVE, Abide with Me, 2nd Revised


Abide with Me,
2nd Revised

Abide with me for fast comes close of day.
Darkness deepens with alacrity,
Nothing halts the night.

Stay with me while time permits,
When other helpers fail,
And other comforts flee.
Accept I mean the best,
Help, where others only helpless seem.

In every deed, my every word,
I want to be true, do right by you.

Though so many things to tell,
One thing sums it right,
One thing huge, deep and great,
It’s with ocean of delight,
My heart embraces you.

You, my love, are all my life today.

Allow my help, I mean to assuage
Whatever wrongs cause distress,
Spare your soul from bottom and regret.

I wish to assure, let it be known,
Though you in mortal moment seem,
Great Light, Infinity blesses you.

Happy outcome, your every secret dream,
An absolute alignment, God’s will be done,
That power to carry it out,

And to top it off!

From within deepest chamber, my immortal soul,
Yeah! I hold belief, whose strength
No fire, no wild, ravenous beast might ever shake,
No public torture my faith dissuade,
Certain, when I say,
For you awaits the greatest gift,
That you love prayer and readily proclaim,
-- At sun’s rise, when you awake to day --
Thank you, Lord, for life,
And all you have done for me.

SUGAREE, Singing in the Rain, Edited

Singing in the Rain, Edited

Yes, Darling, Yes!
That’s how it went,
How I saw it back in the day.

I stood up before the stage at Fillmore, East,
And the girls, they were dancing,
And in the crowd, next and behind the band,
They were sashaying and Jerry,
He was playing, it was if,
Apollo handed him the lyre.
And Phil ran the bass,
By God, he transported us, tight,
Hitting those four strings,
On top the frets, up and down the neck,
And two drums and the other guitar,
The whole rhythm section was the purple gang,
Pig Pen keyed the B52, and with that organ sounding,
Yeah! We might as well have been in church,

And though inside within the concert hall,
It felt like we all might be,
All of us, standing in the pouring rain,
How else, I know no other way to tell it!

I saw Betty Boop, she was dancing,
Dressed, like she was girl from Hawaii,
I was happy for the wink she gave me.

There were other women, too,
On the beach, barefoot, their hands beckoning,
Bedecked in grass skirts doing the hula,
Waving motions signaled me closer,
Heaven, was I in heaven?

My heart beating, I could no longer think,
I seemed to find all the happiness a man could seek,

And we turned to one another, and smiled,
Yet the lyrics, the words were unkind,
About some gal who had done her man wrong,
We were singing a lullaby,
Its strains carried our souls,
We were whistling and clapping, we sang,

“Shake it, Shake it, Sugaree”

How else? I know no other way to tell it!
All of us were standing, dancing,
We were singing in the pouring rain.

YOUNG LOVE, It Drifts Away, 2nd Edited Version

It Drifts Away, 2nd Edited Version

Mask of youth, and its costume still upon you,
When we had met, year-9/11,
It marked the city forever,
Downtown burned, towers had fallen, and all the dead,
Though today, it hard to believe,
The smell dominated the air,
Yet there at last days of December, it was,
All the way to West 26th Street,
A bad omen, I guess.

You were different then, more girl
Than the grown woman you are today.

I remember that first Christmas Eve,
And how you had bought silver jewelry,
I was at market and you stood before the showcase,
Studied the pieces, awaited me to make the move
And price to drop, bargained without word,
Used patience as your tool, you figured,
I was in a hurry, wanted to get home.

It seems halcyon, when I look back,
When I picture you, recall your eyes
Expectant, be-all, the end-all,
Tomorrow’s promise, stayed awesome and bright,
I want to say, etched,
But no lines, at that time visited your face.

You were different then, more girl
Than the grown woman you are today.

And you appeared happy, light upon your feet,
I judge your back had not come to bother you yet.
You had a man, and you relished in his friendship,
Maybe you wished the start to family,
Saw for yourself a real, happy ending, hey?

My defenses were still intact,
No idea you would play, lead in dream wish,
Whose title read, cherished above all others,
That when I fell within the sphere of your limbs,
I would start believing,
Make it an apostle’s creed, a matter of faith,
Though love be only a feeling, it drifts away.

All good sense and sensibility abandoned, I was yours,
The pleasure of your company engulfed me,
And once I placed my hand upon your knee,
Oh heart beat, beating fast, lasting long, day after day,
Together, no matter what I might have done,
However I might have conspired to end it.

You said you would love me, now and forever,
I know it’s trite, nothing I should write,
Unworthy of poetry, your promise,
Yeah, until the end of time, and you,
Today I feel as if, you had purposefully played me,
You laughed at notion, desire might ever wane,
Though love be only a feeling,
You swore ours here to stay.

Anyone who seeks,
Fervidly wants dream come true,
Gets the sense of what I am saying, knows
The terrible desire, that were it possible,
A replay of yesterday’s grassy splendor,
To enjoy again the glory in the flower,
Despite the rapid descent, the finality marking,
Every bit of human radiance and beauty,
No matter how grand, ambitious the effort,
-- Isn’t it already written? --
The rainbow comes and goes,
Some where out at space time’s edge,
Gamma ray bursts post daily funerary notice,
Yea! How impossible to variegate the end,
Great bright light, then extermination!

And for us, for you and me, it’s same story,
Agony to cling to silly notions, and hold them right,
When the telephone is off the hook,
And all the doors are shut.

World knows, love, only a feeling,
It drifts away, and, I, fool, believed, I believed,
I thought at odds, forgot the foreboding,
Paid no heed to events,
The lasting heritage, that first December,
Sure we were masters of our affection,
Our land, the land called Eden,
Positive we had won, and continued the delusion
That, and as you had said, ours was special,
And contrary to every dictate of reason,
I had come to believe we had found it,
Love here to stay, bright sun, morning after morning,
Endless awakening, fresh flowers everyday,
A bed with gorgeous sheets and pillows fluffed,
Despite love, it being only a feeling,
Like the youth, we at one time owned, and
Had been our possession, it drifts away.

HER GRANDMOTHER, Early Morning Refrain, Revised


Early Morning Refrain, Revised

Was not handsome, nor was she particularly wise,
No one ever said she was the smartest,
But she painted well, an artist,
Today her family treasures and enjoys,
Testimony to her ability, landscapes and still lifes,
She applied the oil heavily, used both trowel and brush,
And captured wood and river, and rural architecture
All around her North New Jersey home;
She also painted, remarkably, the wonder of Atlantic
Waves lapping upon her state’s South shore.

And following the common adage,
Different time and place, who knows the fame,
The renown she might have attained?

She dressed the girl in pricey sets,
And every one appreciated it,
“Oh isn’t Elsie wonderful!”

The child was orphaned,
Her Mother was sick, and
Had to stay long time in sanatorium,
Dad was gone,
He ran off and started another family.

Two other girls, her sisters, older, likewise abandoned,
They stayed with paternal father and mother.
And she, the baby girl, was cast off, separate,
She went to her Mother’s Mother and Father

The girl was tall, naturally curly, blonde hair,
And cheek bones high enough to make for real beauty.
Possessing natural, happy disposition,
Her eyes beamed, and when all-dressed-up,
She looked as though,
She might model for children’s fashion magazines.

But Grandma, she had her ways,
(Really, I am told to put it nicely!)
She paid no heed to underwear,
Only interested in outward appearance,
Think on this a moment, for who could see it?

Though it might be tattered and dirty,
And Lord knows should have been replaced,
Especially when one consider the expense,
She cared not the dollar amount of any outfit’s cost.

She favored subtle, flower prints,
Nothing garish; she was master seamstress,
A healthy woman, who loved her cats
(Fed those both inside and outside the house)
And took in every kind of stray, animal and human,
A former dancer who partook of chorus,
Had her training at LUNA PARK,
And, all who knew her swear,
She practiced kicks, over head, when
She had already celebrated birthdays past seventy.

Did she swap a place for her star on the walk,
Take lead role in gilded cage instead?

No way, she was tough and worked hard,
Created a wonderful home and with natural talent,
She made a big garden, a green-thumb delight.

And guess what? To top it off,
She married well, a union man, a good provider,
A leader, he was respected and adored by all.

But something went amiss;
Grandpa went upstairs to bed,
Grandma slathered in wintergreen,
Slept on living-room couch at night,
Hard to believe,
For twenty years they spent their lives that way.

And when Mom from hospital was finally released,
Grandmother balked when time came to return
The girl to whom she had grown accustomed,
The girl she helped to educate and rear.
Pretended the child were her own,
She used every kind, conceivable excuse,
Grandma tied to keep the real daughter away.

And then I heard,
I heard the granddaughter say,
We sat at kitchen table,
It was very late; sun had begun to signal new day.
I heard her wax, granddaughter waxed on the refrain,
Though she said it quiet and was ashamed,
‘I can not wish she were here.’

‘I do not wish she were here today.’
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