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Saturday, June 28, 2014


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Thank you, Bacchus. You let me go,
Freed me from your treacherous hold.

The enemy's army caught our ranks unaware;
Our generals had failed to figure on all-out assault.
An awful panic ensued.
I had not the time to grab my boots.
I ran across the Sinai.
I hoped to survive and make it home.
Though still early morning, yet the sand was hot.
Before too long my feet were sorely burned.
Snipers hid among the rocks and hills;
They shot and killed us, almost everyone.

Thank you Bacchus. You let me go,
Freed me from your treacherous hold.

I crossed the Nile and my injuries healed,
From death in the desert, abandoned and alone,
Your grace had saved me.
Now I share this marvelous tale;
The troops in rout and I had prevailed. 

*Bacchus is the Roman god of wine; he has a number of darker associations, one of them is the disorder apparent when an army suffers a calamitous defeat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SWEDISH INTERMENT, Illnois Enchantment, edited version

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Illinois Enchantment, edited version

You know it's all a whole lot of  hokum, honey, 
This talk of visionary moment and prophetic feat, 
No more than ploy, 
A guise I use to hide the real intent of my too-hot ferver,
Oh let’s just say I want to eat alive.

Yet loving you no quick turn of verse, 
I consider it a serious task, and put forth a dedicated effort.

At prognostication I am gifted.
I have always been able to see around corners.
On our first night, the first night we had slept together, 
You may recall, I told you that I saw our future, 
I knew what was going to happen.

Allow me this declaration.  
Once you actually experience, 
Live an event which I prefigure, 
You recognize about it uncanny familiarity, 
Déjà vu, you feel the situation, 
As if it were previously known, 
Or may have been already played.
The notion strikes you  
That you have been here once before, 
That current moment eerily reflects prior encounter.

Once you sense this power, it causes tremble,
And it bestows pleasant excitement; 
It makes life expectant.
With me you will learn to swoon and shudder.
You will know warm and be hot all over, 
Yet others freeze in midwinter.

Oh baby I am in love with you.

I told you that your grandfather has spoken to me.
His voice emerged from a dream,
Though the setting was familiar, my own bedroom,
The light came from afar,
Suffusing the space and me within it,
I dwelled in delicious, excellent hues of yellow and blue.

He announced, said that I am the man of the house, 
And he then assured me,
(He spoke with unmistakable clarity)
That happiness the product of our life together.

I have another secret; I want to share it with you.
I envision major experience, 
Not unlike Leda's when she learned; 
It was a god who had entered her.
You should know that from you will issue --
Yes, marvelous to relate! --
Being supreme, a mortal whose 
Life and renown, belongs to that golden, 
Regal realm, where Homer rules king.

I slip, revealing more than I intend.

I knew it. I knew it early on in life,
Years before your birth,
As I walked the truck farm fields,
Along the rows of cabbage and corn,
My love for you was growing strong,
I had sight then, ears to catch the sounds,
And nose to whiff out the dreams,
Conferred on me, oracular, from on high.

I stepped out from the Hitching Post Diner.
I saw you! It was you.
On the packed-mud, bridal path, just ahead, 
By a yard or two, you were down the trail, 
Your form preceded me, walking apace.

This last August, eleventh, 
Before we had begun to date, 
Between bed sheets wet from too much sweat, 
Your heat wakened me. 
I knew the smell of you!
Up from the threads of woven cotton --
They were your odors bursting up my nostrils,
While I in my bed that summer's night alone.
I had instantly recognized your fragrance, 
Once I slept with you.

Your presence already there,
Beneath my skin years before I had known you.

And now, again, the moment commands,
It plays out now from the keyboard to the screen.
I realize that before I had met you, 
I  recognize that I had heard it, your name!
I heard your name, 
It came to me from earlier time, at a time, prior, 
Yes, actually previous to your birth!

I assure you, although I was not yet an adolescent, 
As a child, no more than ten or eleven years old, 
I had witnessed destiny from landscape in Illinois.
From the backyard lawn of my childhood home,
I looked up into the evening sky and saw
The refocusing veils of shimmer of light, the aurora borealis, 
The phantasmagoric curtains of shifting color,
Which all at once so utterly present, then, in a feint,
As if by trick of hand, gone,
Held me captive; I had fallen to trance, bewitched,
And in the midst of this awesome, display,
From the far North, your name, I heard it.

I heard! I heard your name; it was pronounced, 
While the green and red flames of light crackled
Along the vault of the universe. I possessed it.
I learned your name from a storm in the heavens.

And that very self-same night,
I was no more than ten or eleven years old,
Out upon the backyard lawn of my childhood home,
With my Face toward the north and up into nighttime colors, 
I looked, and I now know that,
I had glimpse into the future. 

I had witnessed destiny from landscape in Illinois.

I pictured oak trees growing outside an iron fence, 
And there, above a low earthen mound, a cemetery marker, 
My name, it was struck upon a gravestone.
I knew it. I knew the certainty; 
The scene, the ground I saw was in Sweden. 
The green and red flames crackled your name.
I learned your name from a storm in the heavens. 
I was a child, no more than ten or eleven years old, 
I stood upon the lawn at home, entranced, captive, 
Gazing up into the aurora borealis, bewitched,
I saw a Swedish interment.

Friday, June 13, 2014


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Dash it, Baby!
Is this the best we can manage.

Don't tell me! Have neither of us the sense,
Reason enough to know which way is up, or down?

Here's the key, there's my desk,
You already have my heart,
You can come and go,
Whatever pleases you, no problem.

Should you find a spare penny,
Lying anywhere about the house,
Keep it, and whenever you have found the opportunity,
Use it, toss it into a fountain and wish us well.

Don't be hard on me old girl;
I take my hat off to you.
We have had a run of bad luck.
Let's hope that things are bound to get better.

Well, are you happy?
I did say? I promised you, did I not, that
I would make you queen of my poetry.
Truth, haven't I? Who of us is happier?

You take pleasure in your business,
You have your list of details,
All the very many, important things “to do”,
And now with your father gone,
You have the legal consequence, and its paper work,
Plus the obligation of those household matters,
All those little things, which once he had used to handle .

How you must miss him!

I shall change the topic.

You seem to love your car and lengthy driving about.
I sometimes wonder where you go,
Yet I figure you run to your usual haunts:
The regular flea market along side the Delaware River,
And to those giant strip malls dotting the landscape,
The same geographic stretch between Princeton and Trenton,
Where once General Washington
Had fought and suffered for years,
Freeing countryside from foreign domination, those lands
Which today are parking lots
And lines of concrete block architecture
Housing big-box and other discount merchandise.
You disappear for days seemingly involved with your labors.

Not a word about your travels, not a single line,
No Internet connection, you claim.
And when I ask about your goings,
Why the haste?
You answer, "Antique show on Saturday."
Of course, I have heard that one before.
Then I ask you, where?
You say, “Pennsylvania.”

The dialogue becomes tedious,
Or is it me? Have I grown ridiculous?

Yet I remind you, Pennsylvania is a very large state!
As I query,
I see  your thinking plainly roll in your eyes.
Weird, right? Can you believe it? Doesn't it look silly?
Maybe you practice some form of entitlement.
Might you genuinely feel you have no need to elaborate,
Or provide information about your whereabouts?
Still would you admit that when you read this verse,
And hear me repeat your response,
After all, what's the big deal to an honest question?

Strange, isn't it? You deign a one word answer, “Allentown.”

I imagine you understand what I mean, not that it matters.

Hello. Is there anybody out there?

Remember the colors of our dreams,
When the magic of delicious blue and yellow hues
Filled our bedroom, and the times that
A voice from some other world demanded we harken,
And in its ghostly-visage guise
Spun out tales of high romance and telling prophecy.
Come on now, the stars, the stars were shinning for us.

Forgive me, let me return, again, back to this planet.
Years ago I learned the reality --
Buying and selling no easy enterprise.

I know that you take very special delight in the scouring
Rack after rack, then picking through shelves,
Rummaging with a practiced eye the goods
Set for sale upon the tables.
And, to be sure, you have that ability for concentration,
And at level required to be successful at your shopping.

Seems, too, you have that lucky touch,
Procure gold when others see brass,
Buy silver at the spot price of base, white metal.

Lord knows, you love a good deal.
I have never known anyone, who enjoys a low price,
A markdown or a discount more than you.

Even your dessert, it appears, tastes better
When it comes at half-price.

Not to mention that you, my dear, have ever-ready
A discount coupon at point of sale,
Or in your wallet a glossy ticket with its boxed numbers
Whose final punch means a reward in kind for your patronage.

The lyric overcomes me, little hope of any resolve.
Actually whatever the hard inventory I conspire,
No matter my tellingly, strict observations and remarks,
My heart says how lovely you are.

And so it goes, I succumb to the trying to figure.
I try to figure the source of it all,
Then I lapse from an ordinary confidence and come to believe

That I might be ordained and my voice allowed to carry
A radical theme first heard in the plain churches,
Now five centuries ago, my feelings fall backward to the faith,
By God, which held our course predestined in Heaven,
How else to describe these events?
I had to find you, and those inklings of our Destiny
Still remain and animate our hearts.
Wasn't it written?

Yet here is something that causes me consternation;
You appear to truly enjoy my company
When you know that I pay for your dinner.

Lately, that hour, or two, a quick repast, seems,
The only time you have to fit me in your schedule.

I realize that you are accustomed to international travel.
You stuff your backpack to the point your movement stiffens,
Yet heavy baggage means little to you,
Except, of course, should the airline catch
Your true luggage weight
And you must pay up for the extra kilos.

Then there is the situation with your mother,
(All kinds of complexities there!)
A topic I shall have to postpone,
A subject to tackle in another poem, or two.

And as for me, for me,
I sit up half the night writing poetry;
You must know I am lonely.
I seek company,
Your combination of intelligence, beauty and thrift
You, the solace I desire.
I  fill the wee small hours of the morning.
Believing that the two pillows I see on the bed
Mean that, though now you travel,
You soon return to sleep and make a home with me.

Dare I say it?  Must I resort to cliché.
Tears are streaming down my face.

Forget about it! I shall survive.
No need for undue concern, or worry,
I am probably naturally disposed to being
The gloomier of us two,
Yet I wonder how you push through the day,
How you bring a smile to your face, or roam open and free.

Dash it, Darling!
I am still caught up in the happy bondage;
Then, I wonder if either of us will escape it,
What I have called this thing of ours,
We are tied to it. You know it;
People in some future time and place will think of us.

“In the wee small hours of the morning,”

So the old song goes,
While whole, wide-world, deep asleep,
I'd be yours, if only you would stay,
Be in our bed and home with me.

My love,  I drew a line for you.

I have difficulty believing that you remain remote.
Can it be? Who resists the hand of Fate?
Have you now and forever gone your separate way,
Can it be true? How may I come to accept that
You are no longer available to me?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


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                                                                                                THE POETRY OF HEINE


She reminded me that I should go back,
And once again read the poetry of Heine.

Yet more than any one of her single remarks,
And how ernestly she had quoted from his “Buch Der Leider,”
What I remember most about our time together,
The night is very long
When winter falls upon those park benches unter den linden.
That summer days are few
Across the sparse, flat lands near the Baltic.

I have been lonely since the time she had left me.

How my sorrow mounts when I reach out
And she no longer there for me to hold on to,
To embrace her,

To have her tight up against my shoulder once more

Friday, June 6, 2014

NOW VOYAGER, A Dream Sequence

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NOW VOYAGER, A Dream Sequence 

Were I a gentleman true, gallant,
The kind of chap with plumage in his hat,
Whose cape readies for damsel's distress,
I would say let us end it now; you are
Too young or, even better put,

I am too old for love with a beauty your age.

But let us 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,
Yet I do not awake. I dream that
Family and friends float before me.

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.

I remember how stiff and cold her corpse felt.

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 my 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
They seem to demand I pick up pen and write.


But before one dream ceases another appears.
The scene abruptly changes.
My fantasy goes from a somber, personal cast,
To new vision of vivid color and improbability.
My emotions are steady, yet I realize a rush of air 
And that I am falling. I have fallen backwards 
Into other, previous space and time.

The world before me, though a tableau
Seemingly breathing and alive, stays frozen. 
It wants animation, nothing moves.

When I look, 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,
Do not convey it. And, as I further study 
The dream picture which enfolds 
Right there in front of me, 
I recognize that I am witness to
Low surf beaches and natural limestone harbors
With wharfs upon which anchor long ships,
Vessels whose hulls sprout tall, center masts
Which themselves are rigged,
Tied to great, single, rectangular sails, dyed blood red.

And athwart these ships, from gar boards up, 
Are planks, broad-axed-hewed, and each of the planks 
Has paint a color its own,
And each plank appears nailed one upon the other,
The sides of those long ships are as, 
The bands of rainbows, red, orange, yellow,
Green, blue, indigo and regal violet.
Color upon color runs the length of keels, 
And a fierce dragon head in gold crowns the prows

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

The ships are set to sail, 
Yet the entire assembled host
Seems as if stuck in stone, 
The scene resembles a painted sculpture done in high relief. 
All motion suspended,
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 a Technicolor panorama.
My own closed world of family and friends,
Familiar events and their sad foreboding,
Now become historical vision with scenes 
Rooted long-ago, displaying a physical geography,
A world which I had never visited,
Environs of which I had no familiarity. 

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 expectations.


And, then, suddenly, as though right before my eyes,
From within a quick, upward swirling, light gray smoke,
A bearded visage materializes. 

It startles me almost awake. 

A strange man now dominates my dreamland,
And upon his head I see a helmet,
A four-part, iron dome with a sharp spike atop.
A braided chain surrounds its eye sockets,
Giving it a spectacle-like appearance to the visor.

Down the back of this specter’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 beneath his beard, holds his helmet in place.

He says, "Action! Please!" 
At once, as though my dream a set-scene 
Belonging to some kind of cinematic construct,
At once I hear birds of the air singing, 
And those who were eating, eat, 
And those who were conveying material to nest, 
Now fly about and convey it.

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

I seemingly consciously wonder, do I sleep or do I wake?
Yet the dream continues. 
The ancient director's voice commands my mind's eye.
Though he speaks in a hoarse, low register,
I clearly hear him.


"Today", the ghostly presence says,
"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.”

He points to a boulder of height and dimension.
“Our men had trundled it from the moraine.”  
He directs my dream to gaze upon one side of the rock,
A polished surface which bears an engraved writing.
“These inscribed characters,” he states,
“Intend to memorialize the deeds of my life."

Then, wordlessly he hands me a leather roll to unfurl.
It is a runic manuscript and though 
The writing, the script olden, it is Norse,
In my dream 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!"                                             

I repeat that while I sleep an apparition presents to me
An ancient correspondence which seemingly addresses you.

"Death has deprived me of ability to speak.” He continues,
“The poet’s verse, the dream
It communicates to you is channel;
I need this vehicle, my ghost employs it.
The words you see serve as an intermediary,
His copying them out is the medium between us."

The letter goes on. 

"You have been witness to the hurried activity that
Animates the point of embarkation, 
Note anticipation of mere material success, 
How it dwarfs more noble human endeavor.
In getting and spending we lay waste our power.
I know of what I speak: the business these ships portend,
The sails the poet describes that he had seen before him,

"The business the ships portend had been mine.

"And now voyager, you, as we once 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.”


The reverie continued with me reading the ancient text.
The leather roll in my hands, 
Wondrously I unfurl it.
The phantom's countenance appears on guard, 
His vigilance insures that I not awake, 
That I remain under his command and proceed 
To dream and tell his letter's story.

The document sounds aloud as I mouth it.

"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 besought 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 murder,
Death to any who would dare to, who might 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 may yours compare to ours,
How may your enterprise  
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 had sailed, we traveled land, river and sea,
Until we crossed the Bosporus,
Where we battled foes on the plains outside Byzantium,
Our work was in the employ of oriental Emperors.

"We had conquered a vast expanse of land;
We ruled from Baltic to Black Sea.

"And when we returned to homeland shores
We had ships which were filled with slaves and honey,
And were heaped with all variety of fruit.

“We brought women to the North,
Awesome beauties of the East were ours.

“We stole the horses of the Hungarians and the Czechs.

“Our ships returned laden with pelts, fur, which we
And our people used to win our great fight against winter.

"We had returned home with coin, such silver and gold
The earth upon which you were bred and grew
Yet today yields our our hoards and bounty,  
No other soil in the world counts that much treasure.

“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.

"And now, so many years ago, I remember
I happened upon my wife while she lifted
Our son to seat him on the front plank    
Of an oxcart tied to a post at the front of our home.

"I must convey that there is
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 cherished, all else, vanity.
And once we recognize the transitory,
The fleetingness of all we savor,
We may seize the instant and know treasure.

"I am a phantom. 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!"


He vanishes. His voice and face are gone.
The runic, leather manuscript, 
His letter with its seemingly magic unfurling, 
The record of the glory and the moral of his story,
I attempt to continue my grasp,
To keep in my hands on the record's handles,
But it has disappeared, I hold nothing.

I flounder. I try to rouse myself.
I am anxious to remember the dream vision's sequence,
The words and the phrases of its message,
Fearful that the coming dawn, 
That daylight would deprive me,
Blot out the details of my night-time experience.

Yet though I try to shake myself awake,
So to get to pen and table, and write,
I am engulfed, again, 
A drowsy numbness guarantees, forces my sleep.  
 And at this moment the dream scape has turned green.

The color now before me matches the hue,
The verdant, the summer green of those
Preserves of forest that stretch
For mile upon mile along the River Deplanes,

The green equals the shade of the woods,
The same shade as the leaves of trees,
Which circle the cemetery stone, 
The burial ground of the Chippewa Chief
Whose bravery saved the pale skins at Fort Dearborn.

The green is the mid-August color, the primary cast surrounding
The horse farms and fields where I played in my youth.

And out from behind this world of green, voices,
Voices, which I hear, but do not see, they declare,

"Go slowly, my lovely moon, go slowly.

"Time chases upon our heels,
Before long it quickens its pace to furious gallop.
All earthly stores succumb to this onslaught.
In a wisp, as with the language of our monuments, 
We cease, and we are remembered no more."

And now -- over and against this flood of green --
A white, spectral chorus appears.
No longer than a moment transpires when,
Out from among the members of the ensemble,
A single, ghost figure steps to the fore, and says,

“I am here to repeat ancient wisdom:

“ 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 ask?

“Let’s not count our kisses

“Make no mistake about it.
“People out there are jealous;
“I hear that some of them have the evil eye,
“That once they learn the number of our kisses,
“They would use a black magic to hurt us.

“No one should know how many.” 

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