Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Apart from a quiet interlude of peace yesterday afternoon, in Jackson Heights, when the light in the room was perfect for photographing elements of Heaven, it has been a dreadfully disillusioning couple of days here in the Land of Iambs.

First, thanks to the Flaming Curmudgeon, we learn that much of Mankind--the best part of Mankind--is destined to die of throat cancer. Second, our Japanese language school has announced it is closing down its Japanese program--and we are about to be cast--ignorant of Kanji-- on to the streets of New York. And third, the dentist had to reschedule this afternoon's appointment with bib and ice-pick.

Well, maybe that last item doesn't quite come under the heading of disaster, but when you have successfully psyched yourself for a bout of torture, it is hard not to be disappointed when the ordeal is postponed.

The impulse to lose my head and run screaming back to cigarettes is strong, but somehow I am resisting the urge. I have started eating large quantities of Empire apples--with no ill effects.

This is not to say that the Imperial Apple of Knowledge may be consumed in large quantities without some startling consequences for the human body. (I refer the reader to the book of Genesis for a full explanation of the human predicament.) But these consequences are relatively benign in nature--rich in pathos and metrical regularity--like the best poetry. Never has indoor plumbing been greeted with such sighs of
joy by an audience. Or relief...

As for me, I believe that as long as the toilet paper holds out, we can hold out--wherever we happen to find ourselves deposited on this globe. Contrary to the predictions of doom-mongers. Man is an inventive creature, and never to be underestimated in his will and his capacity to survive.

If we can keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Future, these moments of stress--second thoughts and self-doubt--environmental, economic, psychological, physical--will pass silkily out of our system like yesterday's apples.
With hardly a scrap of thought or paper wasted.

This why I like the the poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling. And if I were poet laureate--now there is a scary thought--I would not screw around with subways. I would see If posted in gold lettering on the inside door of every privy and every public convenience in the Land.

In this day and age, where else can a gentleman find the time to properly concentrate on literature?


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Idle Brain.

Not much to report today--at least not here, my friends--not here in River City.

The world is surpassingly beautiful. The sun is out. The azaleas are out. There is a white cabbage butterfly hovering over the horseradish patch. And the fiddlehead ferns near the air conditioner have started to unfurl.

A zen-like Zephyr is sprinkling sakura over the flagstones leading from the porch into the backyard. The rusty core of an apple sits on a small plate to immediate right: my passport out of Paradise.

Before the Heavens alter these details beyond recognition (there are thunderstorms in the forecast for Tomorrow), I thought I should try to capture at least the furtive flavor of this moment before the rains arrive. The air is thick with the intoxicating odor of lilac.

Yes, the lilacs, with their deep green, heart-shaped leaves. They have us practically surrounded. Aren
t they lovely? I have just come back into the house from clipping a cluster. They now sit in a crystal vase on the dining room table.

While I was busy with the shears and the bushes out back, I put the finishing touches on a villanelle that rubbed his eyes open yesterday morning. It all began quite innocently enough, as many of my projects do: as a very ordinary, very commonplace hard-on.

While I cannot say what happened to that hard-on over the subsequent 24 hours, I can assure the curious reader that I dedicate this poem to no one
s anatomy in particular, just the glorious, transformative power of Music!

Variations in the Key of C

A Baroque Masterpiece

When I consider the curve of your cock—
In even this mild, mathematical way—
I notice strange images start to knock:

Sticky things, mostly, things made of rock—
A petrified marshmallow showed up today.
He either was stale, or scared by your cock,

So, I sent him away. A while back Bach
Appeared at my door. He started to play
A sort of pipe organ. Bach did not knock.

Nor did his friends. He arrived with a flock
Of cherry-faced cherubs and a golden bidet
With the weirdest fixtures—curved like your cock.

Now, very few stores keep these in stock:
Which is why I thank God for Bach and eBay
Whenever strange men with strange instruments knock...

Speaking of knocking, I think I forgot
To mention something. What I meant to say
Concerned a key, more than it did a cock:
This is for you. No need, you know, to knock.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Advice to young readers.

Hopefully the lapse into free verse in my last post did not leave the lyrical foundations of your psyche shaken.

The last--or maybe the second to last--thing on Earth I would wish to do as a poet, a prophet, or a purveyor of fine, rectified spirits would be to send you out lurching into the night--like a little lost lamp--with nothing concrete to hold on to.

Concrete may not be the most comforting substance to grasp--I prefer men wrapped in mink--but, as a writer, I find that whatever delicacy concrete lacks in terms of Art, it more than makes up for in rude Reality.


Love is a Luxury

Love is a luxury you can
’t afford;
I know that this knowledge may cause you pain
But who has time for tenderness, or
All of this messing around in the rain?

Come over here, precious, under this light:
Now, let me have a good look at you.
You probably gave your Mom quite a fright
When you emerged from that Bar and said, “Boo!”

I am just kidding. Isn’t Life funny?
Almost nobody has a good time—
Even on days when it
’s more or less sunny...
Well, here
s my advice and a dime.

The lips, they cost extra. So does the bed.
And a goon with a gun collects the fee.
So, don
’t let his liquor go to your head.
You will be charged for everything
you see?

Friday, May 4, 2007


On Thursday night, around 7:30pm, while I was wrapping myself in a damp white towel at the Y, I bumped into Steve and my fellow blogger the Flaming Curmudgeon. We hadn't seen each other for a couple of weeks. I mentioned that I had been working out at the Y in Connecticut.

The Curmudgeon smiled and blinked and observed in his usual penetrating fashion that I had not posted anything new on my blog in a few days, inquiring rather archly--where was I?

I fondled my soap bottle. I thought about saying, "I was discussing poetry in Connecticut...," but the Curmudgeon would have instantly impaled me on a spiky and skeptical glance. So, I studied my feet in shame.

I really could offer no defense for my absence, but a guilty pink hush.


Still, I
was discussing poetry, at least part of the time, the intimate subject of which is never all that far from my lips.

Part of that discussion has led me to reconsider a piece I wrote a couple of years ago and abandoned to cryogenic suspension in a old manila folder in the basement.

I preserve these things in the hope that someday I will discover something new, something that my Hunchback and I hadn't noticed before, some idea that, with the assistance of electricity--lightning--poetic technology--will allow us to resuscitate what is, for purposes of this discussion, a corpse.

Or, at least, rip out the cancerous old lungs of our compliant patient and replace them with a pair of lovely new elastic ones. Preferably those of a long distance runner--since we might need this pair to huff and puff their hearts to pieces for at least few millennia.

I know this all sounds kind of gross--offensively forensic. Somebody is always suffering for the sake of something, I am afraid. Most often, in the case of this Blog, it is the reader.

Anyway, in that frosty folder I discovered the following. It is written in a style as close to free verse as I seem to be able to manage without breaking out into hives.

Bleach Spots

When I was sure you were asleep

I slid out of bed.
I tip-toed to the kitchen for a top
secret rendezvous with a wedge
of pumpkin pie.

As I slipped into the fridge,
in the light, I couldn’t help noticing a line of
stains adorning that soft, blue tee
I wear when I’m chilly.

I counted nine pastel blotches
along the cuff of my right sleeve—nine luminous dots
the powdery pallor of Tang
(the Astronaut’s drink).

And, moving the milk, I thought,
“That big orange blotch is the color—
the exact mixture of citrus and sky
I had been searching for

all night.”