Peony

The peony came
at exactly the right time–
The garden smiled, blushed.

 

 

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Breeze

More erotic dreams
about the girl from the sea–
Longing, rimmed with salt
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Jack Kerouac

When I was a young man,
a budding scribe
eager to blossom white fire,
and scabbed lotuses,
you meant the world to me.
You exposed me to velocity bop
and piggyback rhythms,
to applepie windowsill jazz
and summerlight porchswings,
to mesmeric wreaths of pipesmoke
and the windswept skulls
of railroad Octobers
in brown, turning earth.
You souleased
in such a relatable way,
the freight of boyhood
infused your eyes
with saloony verve,
your fingers jitterbugged
across enormous swaths of whiteness
and void,
you bootlegged
lyrics
Melville-style,
just to keep yourself
in the running with
Hemingway’s bulls
and Joyce’s Dublin,
whitewhale hunting
came second nature to you,
some people do impossible
like half-made angels
leveled by mortal booms.
Their very gimpness
embodies
the purest translation
of Heaven’s perishable blooms.
Yours
was the religion
of sweet, sad farewells,
 and the capered goofs
of littleboys spitballing
I love yous
to girls in pinafore dresses
at Sunday movie matinees,
or profane leerstruckness
at the silver crucifixes
resting
between ripening mounds
of sweatbeaded cleavage,
yours
was the racket of vaudeville,
commingled with a fanatic’s
fairground zeal,
the Zen weatherman
who once proclaimed:
The taste
of rain—
why kneel?
Yet
it wasn’t long
before
Fame,
that highly-sought-after
stalk-legged
dame
in a mink stole
and whitehot spray
of jewels
came along
and cornered you good,
and the Shakespeare of Lowell
quickly became
Little Boy Blue,
nowhere to turn,
as the flesheaters
closed in,
and all you could do
was blow wild, careening
solos through your trusty horn,
and pour
rivers of whiskey
over your soul’s
godgiven.
Recognition didn’t kill you,
alcoholism did,
but let’s just say
recognition
mixed with booze
in the redlight district
and pinkened sensitivity
of wounded souls
sharpens
and humors itself
through the gallows.
When names
balloon too big,
when the print is lettered
through the Hypemachine,
it is easy
to lose sight
of what it is we’re reading,
Fame’s overlay
the distorting veneer
so you are no longer reading
what you see or feel
but rather what you’ve heard
from a hivemind,
secondhand rumors dispel
direct engagement with mystery,
what others know
and say
becomes the order of the day,
and that long day’s journey
into night
is, by definition
and default, history
(its winners wearing blinders
while leading the blind)
but before the siege,
and after the deluge,
Jack Kerouac, Ti Jean, Sal Paradise, John Dulouz,
and all the other names that became you,
there were the words, the holy writ,
the godblasted scrolls of one man’s
selfspeak upon the earth,
that rabid seeking
as gilded sibling
to Dylan Thomas’s hilltop cloudcry—
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying,
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
You,
Mr. Kerouac,
were one of the wind-twisting
chain-rattlers,
frothing fringed baubles of sea
at the mouth,
as if to prove
you were nature herself
(this the way of angels, the way of children)
and when I look back,
I am immensely grateful
that you took the time
to give the spirit of boyhood,
its vim and keyturned sorcery,
as well as music’s
plasmic alchemy,
its reverential due,
in a society
where doped dreams
register
way too much sleep
to ever claim their meek
as soundly vital
and golden.
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Love’s Sweet Nothing

Is there anything
greater
than the beautiful
nothing
that gets done with
gingered languour
that full-of-sweet
nothing
when you are
lying in bed
next to someone you love
and after having participated
in each other’s mysteries
with a relish
near to grieving
you simply lie there
side by side
breathing
side by side
having annulled time
in the way that only
animals and angels can
side by side
holding hands
deliciously full
of sweet nothing
which is love’s other name
and the only thing that’s happening
the only thing that matters
in your world
is this nothing
this love
and when her voice
a softly tapering stream
requests
that you dream aloud
softly
and tell her a story
you tell her the story
about the girl
that came from the sea
dripping lacy white jewels
and the boy who
followed her
to the ends of the earth
to this bed
where sweet nothing time
reigned supreme
where love
bruised the best kind
of softly.

 

 

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The Fourth, or, The Great Big Bang

She wanted to celebrate the Fourth.
She put on her Stars and Stripes panties. Packed her toy gun, the one with the BANG flag that unfurled, into her babyblue purse with silver sequins. After waggling her hips to emphasize the patriotic flair and gist of her panties, she asked–Do you want me to put on my Dolly Parton wig?
You have a Dolly Parton wig?
What girl doesn’t, she giggled gremlinishly, bolted from the room, and returned carrying a starched platinum poofball of a wig.
Reminds me of something an alien would wear if they wanted to disguise themselves as a cheerleader.
Why would an alien want to do that, she giggled innocently.
Because–I paused, waited for the rest to catch up to my tongue–because the alien wanted to go undercover 21 Jump street style to see what kind of shit went down in an average Earth-American high school, wanted to know about opioids, cigarettes, kissing, jocks–
Shootings–
Shootings?
Yea, like–
She snatched her gun from her purse and pulled the trigger, BANG unfurled the red flag.
 Shootings, ya know?
She giggled again. This time, not innocently, not gremlinishly, something else.
We’re fucked, she announced, sadness smudging the edges of her bombast, then–But you’re here and I’m here so let’s celebrate the Fourth.
She fitted the Dolly Parton wig on her head.
How do I look?
Like a Cowboy cheerleader wigged out on pills.
Wigged out on pills, oh you, you’re so cyooot, so punny–
She pinched one cheek, then the other. Then she adjusted her wig.
Do I look any less pillwiggy?
I could see her face framed within the kinky platinum enclosure.
Your face is pretty, I said, like sad flower in the sand pretty.
Sad flower in the sand pretty? Oooohhh, I’d better take heed, Wordworth is trying to get into my panties, my God Bless America panties (there she hooked her thumb under the elastic and band and gave it a snap) with flowery metaphors.
She pinched my cheek again, giggled fiendishly.
Do you want me to become Dolly Parton?
Can you do that?
Sure I can do that, listen. Shoor, ay kin do dat. How was that?
Terrible.
Perfect, she said, and flung her arms theatrically into the air and pinwheeled with commensurate verve.
I’ll do my Dolly for you and then maybe you can do my Dolly for me, okay?
Okay.
She began rambling and warbling in a high-pitched, shrillygirly, twangtrebled voice, a bluebird slathered in meringue kind of voice. She went on and on about being kind to your neighbors and about a crippled boy that she helped up the stairs and the importance of keeping America’s lawns pest-free, she sincered about how immigrants were people too, and don’t forget to water your plants and spay and neuter your pets, and she concluded with a puberty-meets-yodeling version of My Country Tis of Thee.
 When she was done I applauded, she bowed, blew kisses, bowed some more, told me to tip my waitress, then took off the wig and tossed it off to the side. She began scratching her scalp profusely, as if the wig had shed fleas in her hair, and when she was done scratching, her mouth and eyes grew got serious, and she moved closer to  me, saying–We’re here to celebrate the Fourth, right?
Right. That’s why I came to see you.
That’s true, you came all the way to see me, all the way from where you were to where I am, here in my living room, what do you think of my living room–
I think it’s perfectly lovely, I epsecially like the sliding glass doors that lead onto the patio–
Me too, it’s one of my favorite features of the living room, and from the patio you can see the sea, that’s pretty special huh–
It is, do you ever hear mermaid songs at night?
Sometimes–
Wow, are they healing–
Of course–
Wow–
But enough about the patio and the mermaid songs, you’re here, me and you are here, on the Fourth, and we’re gonna celebrate, look I’m wearing Stars and Stripes panties, I’ve got the gun (she produced the gun, pulled the trigger, BANG), did you notice my earrings?
I did, they’re sea horses–
Exactly, they’re sea horses, do you like them?
I do–
They kind of go with the Fourth, don’t they?
I spoke the list aloud–Stars and Stripes panties, toy gun, Dolly Parton, sea horses. No, they don’t really fit.
Okay, then fuck the sea horses–
She removed one horse, then the other, and tossed them to where the wig lay in the corner.
Now my lobes are bare and pinkstained–
Yea much more Fourthy–
Good. Sooooo, here’s what I want you to do, what I need you to do. In honor of the Fourth, I want you to take me over, colonize the fuck out of me, like some colonial motherfucker with a hard-on for whimpering and scorched earth. Set aside any political correctness and liberal thisses and thats, say to hell with democracy, and become a flag-branding fascist brute. Will you do that for me? Sear your anthem into my skin, turn my body into your religion with missionary zeal, draw up a bloody Constitution from my screams, plunder, rape, pillage, wasn’t it Sylvia Plath who said–Every woman adores a fascist? Make me Sylvia Plath to your Mussolini, okay? Will do do that for me? Please? Let’s celebrate the Fourth with a —
(She whipped out the gun, pulled the trigger, the flag didn’t unfurl, pulled the trigger two, three more times, nothing, slammed her palm against the butt of the gun, still nothing)
Oh fuck the gun, who needs a fake bang anyway right?
(She eyeballed the underside of the handle)
Made in Taiwan, huh, God Bless America and its bangless toy guns, eh?
(She tossed the gun where the wig and sea horses lay)
Are you ready to colonize me? Every last inch?
I nodded silently, and moved toward her, zeroing in on the stars between her legs, while humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
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Eye of the Tongue

Will I
run out of words
before her
mouth reaches mine
and exhumes my distance?
Tongues
are such funny
bridges.
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Ceremony

At heart,
in this commonest
prolonged seance,
ceremony
to praise
the ghostlight
of our given stars,
to raise
the living
and dead,
beloved,
such sweet mortal
perish,
this side of paradise,
wisping away.

 

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Icarus by Any Other Name

I have
imagined her
from every
possible angle
have
painted skies
with her
needlepoint rain
and am
now
defying gravity
and
leaving behind
my
body
derelict
and wasted
on the
sublime felonies
of sunkissed air
and singed feathers.
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Patriot Acts, or,The Coming of Democracy

She was a liberal,
except when
she went down
on me,
or I
on her,
and everything
was politics-free
and equal
between
united
fronts
and sexes.
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Kite

My desire
to feel God
is the same
as the child’s
dreamlipped desire
to kiss
the red kite
bobbing and arcing
far and away
tethered to his wrist
a wordless prayer
given over
to wind
and sky.
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