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The Journey to the West

Though we journey to the West We pray to the East More or less that's the way Each day begins and ends It’s a tale everyone ...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In Our Backyard Eden

In our backyard Eden
As the world’s din receded
I enjoyed the patio view
In the late afternoon with you
And a delicious foretaste
Of the seasons' change
Time itself seemed to be preparing
To tack back hard the other way
With the light trending 
Decisively north  

And when you brought in what 
Remained of the tomato crop I felt
A hint of the season’s first major storm
Only just then taking shape
Far off the Gulf Coast

And thought about making
Some sauce of our own
Or just getting sauced
Because what else can you do
Except batten down the hatches
And make yourself good and ready
In anticipation of an atmospheric
Disruption of the most extreme sort

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amidst the Ongoing Search for a Purer Lampoetry (in tribute to Walt Whitman)

For us post-
Post-modern poets
It’s no longer
Under the boot-soles
That we send our readers
Scurrying to look 

Oh no
We have a much
Better conceit than that
For what’s universal and
Utterly free
At least for
Anyone with
A high speed
Internet connection

Much better
If you just try searching
For Lampoetry
On Google or Yahoo
If you want to hear
My yawp transmitted
Via http packets
Over the rooftops
Of the world
And then some

Effusing myself
In the same jags
And eddies
I hereby bequeath my
Collected works
To the universe at large
In the belief that
U.S. copyright law serves
No purpose at all
Other than to
Keep us apart

So failing to find me
With one search term
Please try another
And another
Mistaking me first for
Marc Kelly Smith
Or Peggy Lam 
It matters not in the least
For if you look 
Long enough online
Amidst all the porno
Unending tweets  
And other clutter
Behold at last
There you'll find me
In the poetry section
Of the Internet
Just as well
Thanks very much

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why I'm Only a Faux Buddhist

Lately I've been reading this great book called the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch.  It's a translation by Philip Yampolsky of the classic 8th century foundational text of Chan Buddhism -- China's homegrown version of Buddhism that first flourished during the Tang Dynasty.  The book was recommended to me by Professor James Miller, and I can't thank him enough for the suggestion.

More precisely, the book is the foundational text for the Southern School of Chan, also known as the School of Sudden Enlightenment, as compared to Northern School which apparently adhered to a more gradual approach.  I realize at my heart's core, this is my school after all.  So with that by way of background explanation, let me now tell you that  the full title of this poem is actually: 

 Why I'm Only A Faux Buddhist
And Devout Adherent 
To the Southern School

Writing itself having
Evolved into something 
Akin to a spiritual practice
It's left little room
To accomodate
So much jargon

All those levels
Of being and
Always looking
At yourself looking
Even when you're not

Sometimes it seems 
A little absurd
Yet at life's core
I too believe
In the importance
Of knowing Nothing
Most of all

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer Vacation 2012

This coming week
I'm looking forward
To spending
In the house
And garden
Out on Fourth Neck
Where I will be
Abiding without
Access to a car

And the most
Important choice
To make each day
Will be how
To allocate my time
And energy between
Writing and reading
Eating and weeding
Right here in our
Our sweet little backyard

Driving Alone

This is a poem I wrote after driving home from the supermarket this afternoon.  I really don't want to give anyone the wrong idea by writing this, particularly not my wife who has tendency enough to worry.  But such is the poet's life, we must say truthfully what we think and feel.  

Driving Alone

Often when I'm driving alone
Out on the East End
Heading into a curve
It's like Jackson Pollack
I feel trying to maintain
A firm grip on the wheel

Life is such a tenuous thing
And we are each of us
In a continual struggle
To keep both eyes and hands
And all four wheels squarely
On the road in front as we go

Monday, August 13, 2012

For Marissa (by way of reply to William Butler Yeats)

There came a day
None too close
To September
When the crows had
Reappeared in greater number
Around the bird feeder
And the humidity dropped
Sharply from the swift approach
Of a cold front

And you and I made love
In the afternoon
In the shallows
The particulars
Of which don’t happen
To matter that much  

But for the amazing
Way we both sensed
We were standing near
The very navel of the universe
As we attended to that most
Essential part of our daily routine
And the Lebanese mosaic
Swirled about beneath us
As did time itself
And we clutched each other
Knowing the center likely would
Hold a little bit longer with
The very strong force
Of our centripetal embrace

Saturday, August 11, 2012

An Ode to Growing Old in the US of A

This is a poem I wrote a few weeks ago after spending an afternoon in an Atlantic City casino with my friend Richard Musto. 

* * * * * *

Underage gambling
Is illegal says the sign
Posted next to the Roulette Wheel
But what about overage gambling
I wonder as I look around
At the ranks of the geriatric
Daytime gamblers in Atlantic City
Why the state legislature
In its infinite wisdom
Hasn’t seen fit
To criminalize that yet
Even if it would bankrupt
A few more casinos

Down row after row
Of these infernal slots
Amidst the womb-like susurrus
Of bells and chimes ringing
There sit retirees
Spending what remains
Of their life savings
A quarter or dollar per spin
With walkers and canes
Placed alongside
Coughing and wheezing
In the smoking section
Or just squinting
While sitting too close
To the ubiquitous
Digital display screens

I remember in Vegas
Seeing a similarly
Hellish scene where
An old woman sat on her
Maroon scooter
Parked by the slots
With an oxygen tank
Strapped in by her feet
And a breathing mask
Stretched across her cheeks
And a long plastic cord
Affixed to the waist band
Of her stretch pants
Which was plugged directly 
Into the slot machine
And presumably the distal end
Was digitally connected   
Directly to her bank account
Enabling continuous play
Of ever more games of chance

Strapped in for life support
By one line and hemorrhaging cash
Through the other
What a superb metaphor
For growing old in the US of A

* * * * * * * *

In case you're interested, you can read a slightly later version of this poem on my Richard Musto blog.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Redball Express

A slightly earlier version of this poem first appeared on my Richard Musto blog -- it's essentially the same except for four new lines at the beginning of the second stanza.

The Redball Express

Write what you know about
Is what the teachers always say 
At the Famous Writers’ Academy
So I have been drawn
Time and again
As to a lifetime quest
And now find myself 
The self-appointed chronicler
Of Richard Musto’s ride
On the Redball Express

A train to nowhere
Arriving fast
Just as from first to last
Various members
Of my immediate family
Have too often succumbed
To the overpowering tendency
To gamble without self-restraint

For me now the problem has 
Assumed a slightly different shape
Namely my bane has become
The intermittent care and
Consideration of an old man
Himself severely afflicted
As evidenced by many clearly
Cognizable symptoms
Of the very same curse

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Rambling Man

What’s the point of recording
The barely coherent ramblings
Of an eighty seven year old man
Some of my blog readers must think
I'm insane from time to time

To which I would like to reply
We all do ramble sometimes
Richard a bit more than most perhaps
But the fact is
I love the old man
I really do

He reminds me
Of so many others
Being a representative
Or stand-in for those
Long since departed
Including my own old man
And he’s also pretty remarkable
In his own right
As Michel and I hope
You’ll take a few minutes
To see for yourself

In fact he’s Zelig-like
And sometimes looks
Like Woody Allen
When he smiles wryly
And cocks his head to the side
Or taps his cigar like Groucho
As he asks a passerby
Do you like to rumba?
Well then pick a rumba 
From one to ten

* * * * * * * *

If you are interested in learning more about Richard, please visit the blog I have started about my current writing project - a biographical poem I'm writing (in collaboration with my friend Michel Delsol) about an 87 year old man called the Life and Times of Richard Musto.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Into The Void

Today, feeling sorry for myself, I wrote this poem, which I dedicate to my erstwhile email correspondent Hank Lazer, with whom I have exchanged a few sporadic emails.

Into the Void

Harder still
Is writing
Into a void

To receive
No response
At all
To email
Or query
Words appear
Even smaller than
They ordinarily 
Seem to be

Happy the tree
When it falls
In the forest alone
As it comes to rest
It makes a perfect home
For countless
Termites and scarabs too

I only wish it were true
That some of my poems
Could be likewise consumed

* * * * * * * * *

Ps:  On a happier note, sort of, Hank replied when I sent him a link to this poem.  I hope he doesn't mind if I share some of what he wrote with you: 

For nearly all poets, that ongoing sense of futility, of the void, of who cares – is an ongoing difficulty.  Also a blessing; perhaps, otherwise we would not face so precisely the need to do what we are doing for its own sake…

 To which I might further add - better get ready for me termites.