On the Cheek

Going around at a day at a time
he gets the feeling he's falling behind.
Traveling slowly and spurning the race,
only the planet can keep up the pace
Morning's already tomorrow and she's
burning the clouds that encumber his dreams.
It's a return to the what he likes best:
comfortable feelings of his loneliness,
Where is the lady he kissed on the cheek?
Wasn't her name Adelaide or Monique?
Chasing down girls on the boardwalk and then
letting them go and find prettier men.
Lights on the carousel dim as the dusk
settles upon the perennial dust.


Proem to Homer's Iliad

   Sing wrath, Goddess, the wrath of Achilles the son of Peleus,
ravaging, which put thousands of agonies onto Achaians,
which hurled numberless masses of valiant souls down to Hades,
souls of the pitiful heroes it made into spoils for dogs and
carcasses left to the birds. And the counsel of Zeus was accomplished
from that time when first both faced one another in contest
Lord of the men Agamemnon, Atreides, and god-like Achilles



Easter smoking is the best. If there's a
bit of nicer weather all the better.
Yesterday you promised dad to quit, but
somebody decided that he needed
proof he was alive. A reason not to

die regretting everything preceding
is so that another day is seen by
you. The lives of people matter greatly,
not our own. And friday afternoon was
worse than you'd anticipated, sitting

in the hospital and wondering if
sadness would erupt into your heart or
not. The heat was penetrating, and the
night was longer than you thought it could be.
Twice. And off he went without a fight or

final gasp of light as morning broke at
dawn on sunday. Disappear, because the
day indeed is straying farther from the
mean. The reins are slack on sunshine's horses:
You are conflagrating but remain the same.


Alcaeus fragment 34a (Castor and Pollux)

Come to me, from Pelops' isle departing,
brave and steadfast children of Zeus and Leda;
show yourselves with generous, kindly spirits,
     Castor and Pollux,

who across the broad and expansive earth and
all the sea on swift-footed horses fly and
rescue humans easily from the frigid
    coldness of dying,

vaulting up the heights of the well-benched ship's masts
glowing far, ascending the forestays in the
dismal nighttime, bearing the blazing fire for
    shadowy vessels.


Mimnermus Fragment Two

We, like the leaves which the blossoming season of Spring reproduces
       when they suddenly grow up in the rays of the sun,
similar to those blooms, in the minuscule time of our youth we
       revel, discerning by gods neither what's harmful for us
nor what is good. Black Fates by our sides stand waiting around and
       one of them's holding out old age, the inevitable
thing, and the other one death. And the fruit of our earliest years is
       as short-lived as the sun's spreading out over the Earth.
Truly indeed, when the end of this age has elapsed and been passed by,
       straightaway dying is much better than staying alive.
Plenty of horrible things will arise in the spirit and soon the
       home will be ruined and sad poverty's toils await.
One man terribly misses his children, and longing for them goes
       cheerlessly under the Earth down into Hades's realm.
One man's sick with a spirit-consuming disease, and there's not one
       man to whom Zeus didn't give myriad terrible things.


Rose-ringed Parakeets

All the birds I see are cajoling me to
hear the music playing behind us near that
willow tree where parakeets somehow seem to
   be reappearing.

Two by two they hide in the branches making
such a fuss about absolutely nothing:
combing lime-green feathers, and screaming
   at one another.

Herons, ducks, and seagulls are taking baths in
chilly springtime waterways underneath those
two romantic parakeets playing with each
   other's appearance. 

a few pics and words about the birds



I prefer one over the other sometimes;
other times it's not that I want the other
girl or have a difficult time when I am
    choosing between them,

but it's not that simple for long, and often
time reveals what passion disguised as something
other than fun moments together, something
   really delightful.


Falling Out

I spent a whole day thinking of all the ways
you piss me off. I thought what a perfect waste
of time it was to know you and why would I
let more of me get copied if you deny
that we were friends at all? Disagreements tend
to make us lose our heads, and reveal the ends
we had in mind, but hid in our darkest hearts.
The ends direct your means, and however dark
your aims then so your methods will need to be:
this is the one big kink in duplicity.


An apparently good idea

     "Give me that paint brush," he says, "I need it."
     "I'm using it," his brother says back, not looking up from his tableau.
     "I have to finish coloring in her hair, and I need the fine brush."
     "I'm using it."
     "You're using it to color in the sky. Use a bigger brush. You don't need the smallest brush we have to color in the sky. And anyways, your whole painting is sky, and you're using the big paper. I'm telling mom."
     "You're such a cry-baby. First of all, it's not the sky; it's a neo-constructivist critique of the imaginary of perspective. I'm not just slathering paint all over the goddam place like some wannabe Rothko. Secondly your absurdist portrait of that matronly ideal is such a post-classical joke it's laughing at itself. Just being in the same rec room as you is inhibiting my creative energies," the boy with the small brush says calmly.
     "Your totalitarian sensibilities are trampling on my expressionist freedom. You wouldn't recognize an enlightened study of hyper-modern realia if it was defined for you on urbandictionary and carved into your forehead with shards of reflective glass."
     "Whatever. That didn't even make sense. Just get that trash out of my field of vision before your compositional retardation damages my sensory organs."
     "Shut your filthy traps; I don't want to hear it," Mom shrieks from her bedroom upstairs.
     "Great, look what you did," he says glibly.
     His brother hisses at him in a vehement whisper, "You're the little bitch who is coloring in the sky with the tiny fucking little brush, when you might just as well dunk the whole sheet of paper into a can of Sherwin-Williams."
     "Your horse-faced abomination is a crime against humanity. Why don't you put it on your blog and let the rubes comment on it? Maybe your stupid fat mom can tell you it's beautiful," his brother retorts in a hushed bark.
     "We have the same mom, shit-for-brains. All I want is the little brush for a few minutes. I don't want to escalate this disagreement into a conflict, or resort to bringing this matter up before governing bodies of limited effectual authority."
     "Me neither, so just cool your jets. The last thing either of us needs is another round of disciplinary sanctions from the imperialist overlords. Furthermore, resorting to conflict is barbaric, and it would be geo-political suicide for you to rely on your limited offensive capabilities."
     "This display is pathetic. You know as well as I that the last time negotiations broke down between us, you were pitilessly savaged and were compelled to acquiesce to humiliating terms of surrender, including the loss of significant material wealth, not to mention the famous 5:4 computer time compromise."
     "'Savaged' is just the word I would have chosen. You attacked me completely unprovoked and without any warning, in brash violation of the standing cease-fire agreement between us, and in defiance of international condemnation. You demonstrated yourself to be a brutish thug with less regard for the rules of war and basic human rights than a pol-pot dictator.
     "The memory of the oppressed is long and filled with bitterness. But let it be known that your aggression has not been forgotten, and that I hold you in no higher regard nor consider you as any less likely to lash out again than a rabid raccoon," he intoned solemnly.
     "What was that? Was that even English?" Maybe I can find an Idiot-English bilingual interpreter to help me understand you."
     "Maybe I can find you a remedial English tutor to help you learn your mother tongue."
     "Shut the fuck up, you fucking retards. Put your shoes on and get in the truck," Mom shouts down the stairwell.
     "Fuck: haircuts."



Sweet dreams, delightful one. You are free to go
wherever. Fancy takes you away. Tonight
  you don't belong to conscious meadows.
    No one will know what it is that you've seen.

Alas not even you understand the sign.
And many say dreams tell us the future, and
  some claim to tell you what they're saying:
    oracle givers will know what they mean.


You are older than you used to be

Stop thinking all those thoughts about life and death;
You'll never find out why you were sent to die
  here all alone. It's pointless; just calm
    down and be blissfully dumb and carefree.

That's better. Breathe in slowly, as if it were
your very last breath. How would you feel about
  that? How would you exhale if you were
    blowing the flame of reality out?


Horatii Carmen 1.4

Winter is melting, its bitterness yielding to pleasing, breezy Springtime;
      slow winches drag dry vessels onto water.
And in the stables no longer rejoices a herd, nor ploughman by fire.
      Fields aren’t gleaming white with morning hoarfrost.
Now Cytherea is leading the choruses: Venus under bright moons
      and Nymphs accompanied by seemly Graces
thump Earth hard with rhythmical feet, as determined Vulcan goes back
      to work in bright hot forges of the Cyclops.
Now it is fitting to garland your shimmering head with verdant myrtle
      or flowers, which Earth, as it thaws, produces.
Now in the shadowy groves it is fitting to sacrifice to Faunus
      an ewe, if called for, or a kid, if favored.
Colorless Death kicks over the tables of beggars and the towers
      of kings alike. O blessed Sestius, how
 Life's brief span disallows us embarking on limitless endeavors!
      Now night's upon you pressing, now the fabled
Manes, and Pluto's diaphanous House, where as soon as you have entered,
      you neither will cast lots to see who drinks first
nor be able to marvel at slender Lycidas, who incites now
      all youths, and whom soon virgins will be hot for.


Chances of Sun

West winds dispersed dull clouds in an eager gust.
Fresh breaths of Spring gave off the appearance of
   change. People took off clothes and lay down
    basking in sunshine and lover's long arms.

Slow hours dissolved right under your limpid eyes,
like everything you ever desired or loved.
  Cold shadows sweep down over sleepers:
    take your belongings and fly from nightfall.

As different as day and the night, or spring
and winter seem, and as irretrievable
  as pleasure feels, today is fickle,
    night is a myth, and the seasons less than

one afternoon long. Laughing at silly things,
like ducks or babies, time has abandoned you
   and never shall come back again, but
    still you enjoy the delicious current.



Isn’t it erotic to be kissed?
Head-to-toe devoured by her lips?
  You would agree with
    me, if you experienced the bliss

tenderly delivered by her sweet
fountain of a mouth. And ivory teeth
  leave an impression
    deeply in my memory of each

girl who ever bit me in the chest,
left me to the torments of unrest:
  sweating the details,
    I’ve become a criminal of flesh.

She is my accomplice. The rewards
aren’t disappointing if she waits
  patiently for the
    gathering eruption from the clouds

Darkening above us as we lie
restlessly competing in a game,
  neither of us cares
    all that much to win, so long as pain

wrecks the possibility of play.
I don’t have the time for the display
  of all the peacock
    feathers that impress in their array.

Finish with your pretense and enough
going through the motions to be loved.
  Nobody said that
    falling in and out would not be rough.



Two blonde kids on a rooftop
  in Brooklyn
play all day afternoon, just
for first-prize. If a roll of
  the dice means
That I win, or I lose, then
  the hell with
it. I played an unfair game,
  and so did
you. Together we strove for
  the glory
of sweet victory over
  each other.

You were crowned in the end with
  the laurel
leaves. You dedicate your win
  to Fortune.
You played well but are modest
  and cunning.
By chance, Fortune is watching;
  she’s pleased with
the outcome of the contest:
it was going to be, did
  just happen.
I took part, and I lost, but
  I played well.



Boot the KickBall Way up in the Blue Sky;
Catch it As It Crashes down inTo Your
Arms like Gold-Flecked Sunshine from the Lord God.
You are Out Of Luck and it’s a Long Walk
Home. your Shorts Are Hidden by your Tee-Shirt;
Looks like You Don’t Have any on. And Your
Legs are So Damn Beautiful i Can’t Stop
Staring At Where They have disapPeared To.
Pull your TeeShirt Up and reasSure Me.
I do Not Know What to with mySelf Do;
I’m aFraid I’m Crazy for unDressed You.


A Boring Tale With A Predictable Ending

     A small road in the mountains traces the course of the shallow meandering river. The gravel state-highway bends in and out alongisde the current following it back upstream between two pine-covered hillsides. Downstream the water rejoins a larger estuary just after it passes through a dying mill town that hasn't employed any mill workers since the 19th century. Dilapidated grey and light brown factories dot the banks of the larger river downstream, and pole barns collapse quietly into the clearing. Every man-made edifice is made of wood and is quietly being reclaimed by the woods.
     The tortuous road connects the small town of Abisqua to the interstate on the other side of the wide coniferous ridge. It takes about forty minutes by car to reach one end from the other, but the current record was twenty-three flat going downhill from the highway back to the town. It has been a year and a half since that record was set, and the title-holder has since died, tragically, in a violent collision with the nursing home. By some accident of chance, none of the residents got hurt in the accident.
     The crash demolished the cafeteria of the home, and the fire department condemned the entire structure. As a temporary measure, the town relocated the two dozen suddenly homeless seniors to the only building big and warm enough to house them all, which was the supermarket, which dated to the nineteen eighties and was now over a hundred years old. The old folks are sleeping on cots in the aisles, and have milk crates for night stands, where they keep their soaking dentures and meds.
     It was awkward at first for the townsfolk to have to ask an arthritic grandmother to get out of bed so they could get to the Hamburger Helper, but as often happens in these circumstances, people adapt. The owner of the store was a little bit resentful, since there was little he could do about the old folks stealing coffee yogurts in the middle of the night, but he adapted too. He stopped stocking batteries, and he put the liquor behind a locked display case. He had a TV set and some plastic chairs set up near the deli counter. And he even installed hand rails on the shelves after one old lady slipped in the middle of the night in a puddle of yogurt on her way to the bathroom and broke her hip.
     Some of the shoppers have developed relationships with the various elder people whom they now see regularly, and some families have reconnected with their estranged grandparents. While they shop, parents have taken to leaving their children with the group of seniors who congregate by the deli counter, where the old people tell the younger generation about the wars they fought and about the wolves in the woods around the town.
     For the past month or two since the crash, out of respect for the deceased, no one has attempted to break his record of twenty-three minutes. There has been an unspoken moratorium on racing generally, and most of us have found better things to do with out time, like drugs.
     Heroin mostly, but whatever really. We are so bored we could claw our eyes out with the needles that we reuse and reuse, but that would make shooting heroin hard and would damage the needles.
School for me consists of a meditative trance state. I am there only in the name that is dutifully entered into the attendance sheet, and the body that I transport from classroom to classroom. All of my concentrated energy is given over to waiting for the day to end, so I can focus on waiting for the weekend, and on the acquiring and comsumption of heroin or whatever drug is in town at the moment. And my friends are just like me, but so is most of the student body.
     Right now, for instance, I am at the wheel of my uncle's Buick on the way home from a drug deal. It is a Tuesday night around not very late on a frigid day in December. We're returning from the nearest town, which is like ours but poorer and bigger. I turned off the highway and I'm rounding the first bend of the road into town. My foot lets off the gas, and the car drifts sloppily through the contour. The snow hasn't fallen very thickly on the road yet. I urge the pedal down again firmly for the ensuing straight and then less cautiously. The wheels spin easily in the loose powder.



Riding in the
subway car a
smile catches
my regard and
in between the
subway stops I
look her over
carefully from
head to toe and
side to side. She
knows I’m giving
her the eye so
she is blushing
tries to look the
other way but
cannot help but
hold my gaze. I’m
making love to
her across the
train. The motion
of the metro
has us sway in
unison as
our two bodies
move as one, and
pressing flesh is
everywhere I
touch. I feel the
human crush come
down on me. You
are the breathing,
sweating, grasping,
being of my
underground dreams.


Sappho Fragment 48

Elle est arrivée la lune et
puis les Pleïades; le minuit
après, jusqu'à l'heure s'est filée,
mais moi, je m'endors toute seule.



Staring at the fire, I am
warming. Wonder if the sticks will
soon forgive the fire, if the
fire thanks the wood that quickly
melts to embers, maybe trying
to remember windy days of
growing at the sun.       
                                The sun has
become and landed on the trees.
Like earth, the trees are sunlight that
has cooled and coalesced, alive
because of daylight, but prepared
and going to combust or rot,
and either scatter or decay.


Hold Your Breath

for Lily
A new day’s upon us,
and I was up all night
daydreaming about you
while sunshine lit the sky.

We lay out on a beach
amidst a turqoise sea;
we listened to waters
softly tickling our feet.

We got up for a swim
and kissed under the waves,
and coming up for air
we bumped our heads and gave

each other bruises and
headaches, and Iiii went to
the emergency room
with a bad case of the

bends, and you waited till
I could mend my broken
strength and stand up again
till you dumped me and went

on with your life without
one more thought of me or
the day i almost died,
diving to impress you.


Jason and May

Jason sauntered into his flat-mate May’s bedroom. She was lying on her back, with her computer nestled up against her breasts, her arms retracted to reach the keyboard. Jason made his arms small too, and growled like a T-Rex, “Rawrrrr”.
“Shut up, jerk. I’m chatting with my buddies,” May said. He made a face and she threw a pillow at it, “You are like a walking cliché, you realize this, right?”
“First of all, I’m not. You are. Second, let’s go watch TV; it’s the law,” Jason said, finishing in a monotone.
“Come on, Jason, don’t pull that crap again, I just want to be alone for ten minutes,” May said. Her computer was full of chat windows, some blinking, some long dormant—the echoes of recent conversations. Jason was reaching for the drawstring on the blinds. He took hold near the top of it and slowly began pulling the blinds, one row at a time, up.
“Stop it, I’m not even dressed, Jason.” Light crept into the grey darkness. Shapes of furniture and piled clothes could be discerned. The room had no parallel walls. May’s bed was against the far sides of the room facing a blown-up picture of a Jumbo-tron showing May at a football game, cheering at the camera, with her camera-phone out in front of her. “Cut it out!” she screamed at Jason.
Jason stopped pulling and just as slowly began letting the blinds come down, his fist around the string rising. The light disappeared from the floor where it had been stacking up, and May grew cold with fright. “Alright. OK. Let’s go watch TV,” she said apologetically. She got up from her covers and walked to the dresser where she found some pajama pants and a sweater to cover her nudity.
“I’ll be in the other room,” said he.
“I’ll be right in,” she replied.
When she walked into the living room, Jason was logging in to the satellite. He asked May where she was sitting and aimed the web-cam so that it would capture her and him in the same screen. “Do you want anything to drink?”, he asked, as she came into view on the TV screen.
She said no. Jason entered the picture on the TV, sat down in his recliner, and cracked an energy drink. “What’s on TV?”
“I don’t know”
“Me neither,” he said, going up the channels one at a time: 41, 42, 43, 44 . . . Talk show, movie, weather, judge show, crime drama, headlines, history channel, news, local news, movie, cartoon, food, business news, lifestyle . . . 105, 106, 107.
“Is that movie on today?” Jason said.
“I don’t know. What movie?” May said.
“What day is today?”
“Today’s Thursday, buddy.”
“No that was yesterday,” he said to himself about “the movie”. He sipped his drink. 108, 109, 110, 111 . . . A basketball game came into view. Replay. 113, 114, 115.
The doorbell rang. “Did you order something, May?”
“Nope,” she replied.
Jason looked at her for a second, judging the veracity of her claim by the way she stared at the images of snow-laden conifers from a national geographic helicopter. Jason turned off the TV and went to the front door of the apartment behind the couch May was sitting on.
“Who’s there?” Jason inquired through the closed door.
There was silence.
“Hello? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” Jason said, shouting through the hollow steel door.
No answer.
“HELLOOOo?” he shrieked. He could hear his voice echoing down the hallway of the building, like laughter in a prison.
There was no answer. Jason stood by the door, his head turned to the side to give one ear more of a chance of hearing footsteps or voices retreating. No sound at all.
After a minute Jason returned to his seat. “I have to get a peephole for that door,” he said, clicking the TV back on.
“Who was it?” May asked, in the least ironic tone she could muster.
Jason looked at her, and she looked back at the TV. He turned back toward the screen. 178, 179, 180 . . . They were watching a minute-long weekly news summary, when Jason’s eye caught the web-cam looking askew.
“Did you move the camera?”
You?” he said in feigned innocence. “No, not you, May. Who else am I talking to? Am I losing my mind, or something. Like you don’t know who’s at the door? Like you don’t know who I’m talking to? Did you move the camera?”
I didn’t,” she pronounced.
“Well, then who did, the guy at the door? Am I stupid to you?” He switched the tv input so that it showed what the camera on top of the TV was seeing. It no longer showed May, and only the bottom of Jay’s chair.
“Why did you move the camera?”
“That’s a leading question, Jason.”
“May, why won’t you answer my questions? Is that a leading question?”
“I didn’t move the camera, Jason,” she replied.
Jason got up from his seat, pushing down on the armrests for support as he rose. He stood for a moment and cracked the knuckles on his small, clumsy hands. He brought them to his face and pressed his palms against his eyes, the fingers pushing into his sweating forehead, and brought them down with great pressure, raking his features with the stubby fingertips. He moaned mightily. Then he went over to the camera. He repositioned it, guided by the picture on the TV so that it would show them both again. “Do you want anything to drink?” he asked, returning to his chair. May stared at her herself on the screen. Jason stared at May awaiting an answer. He blinked and then turned back to the screen. 181, 182, 183, 1, 2, 3.



I eat and still am empty, hungry for
a burst of life: the momentary or
eternal act of giving up your gift
and praying hard until the fire lifts
the smoke into the heavens high above.

The bull is fast consumed; its flesh is burned.
The beast is roaring, tethered, overturned;
the sacred victim in the pyre feeds
the mass of flesh that is humanity.
From Earth to grass to flesh to flesh to love,

and back to dust, the fields we once did run
each other through in, nourish us with some
of us, as we reiterate and skip
a couple beats, within a cosmic blip
of time and space and loneliness and come.