— Steps to the grave

I really love Tammy Ho’s poem “Double Happiness” 
It’s so beautifully written, so powerful.

What I perceived from her poem
Is an ongoing Ménage à trios
Two men and a woman

Now the situation has changed
The woman has married the other man
But what of the odd man out
The man in Tammy’s poem
He is upset, angry and sad
But he also feels longing

To better understand
Read her poem:  “Double Happiness” 
My poem is the woman’s emotional response

Poe’s dream in a dream
Or your dreamer in a dreamer
What a tangled web we weave
Yes I steal those words too

Smoke yes, always the smoke
Obscuring your face and eyes
Poppy dreams of happiness
How could I not smoke
With you around
Taunting like a candle flame
Seeking my eyes

Time? We have all the time
In bed and out here
Lost on the edge of darkness
Come in deeper my dear
Come closer and smell
Sweet hashish dangers
Laced with opium
Laced with arsenic
Laced with despair
There’s still room for you
Why do you sit there
There’s always room for one more

Love? You speak of love?
Are you an angel of innocence?
Twelve years old and lost
This is no fairy tale
I may be a dragon
But I told you this
From the start
Let go of the shadows
This is a tango of death
This dance we brave

My grave is real, so very real
Come through the mirror with me
I will let you dance on it
Let you cast your curses at me
You act the betrayed victim
But life is not kind
Our cruelties like wasp stings
Are steps to the grave
Our very real graves

April 30 2010
The night of the spirits
when witches meet
and hold revels with their gods…”

three dreams

its come to my attention
that i’ve been too abstract,
not crazy enough for you
it that it?

the other day,
or night i should say,
i had a dream,
well several dreams,
but who’s counting

the first dream
was really a series of dreams,
each like a mirror image of the last one.
in each dream i felt the presence
the eerie presence of someone dark
big dark and foreboding even,
coming closer to me
closer and closer
until i became aware of big boots
big overcoat and heavy gloves
coming toward me.

I had been writing and thinking
about Frankenstein’s monster
maybe it was the monster
yet i was not afraid
still i had been feeling compassion
and sadness for the monster’s plight
so maybe the monster wanted to see me
after all everyone else spurned the monster

each time the being came close i called out
called out in my sleep and woke up my wife
she was not amused let me tell you
yet when i fell back asleep
there it was again and again i called out
again waking my wife
three times this happened
yet as i said before i was not afraid
except i was worried that if this kept up
my wife would make me sleep elsewhere

that’s all i remember of that dream
what does it mean
i’m not sure
since it happened 3 times
i think it may be important
but sometimes in my experience
we need to be patient with dreams
and wait for their meaning to become clear.

April 2010

What is Poetry

Poetry is art
Except when it’s not
Poetry is magic
Except when it’s not
Poetry is words
Except when it’s not
Poetry is ? ? ?
No one knows what it is
Because it’s not anything
Because it’s everything
Well that’s my story for now
But poetry and poets
We know they are real
Still how do you know
That I’m a poet
How do you know
That this is a poem
Even if I really am a poet
That does not mean this is a poem
Even if I tell you this is a poem
It still might not be a poem
Poets make mistakes
Poets tell lies
Poets make jokes
Indeed if I tell you
That this is not a poem
It still might actually be one
What if I’m wrong
What if I’m lying
What if I’m joking
It’s just like art
Is it valuable
Or even art
Or just junk
To be art.
For that matter
Is poetry art
Depends on
How you define art
Depends on
How you define poetry
Or is it good art
Good poetry
How do you know
Do you even care
That’s what we know
Whether we care or not
Why should we care
About art or poetry
Should I tell you what to do
What to think
What to say
I’m not your teacher
I’m just a foolish poet
Throwing words on a page
Making sense and nonsense
To surprise and confuse
To open doors to – where?
Close doors to no where
There’s nothing to it
No matter never mind
Like a free association test
No fees to pay
No test to flunk
Its free, free, free
Free of everything
No association to join
Just throw mud on the walls
The walls of the mind
Walls of spirit and life
Makes no sense does it
Art is not about making sense
Art is not about plans for the future
Art is not about nutrition or survival
Art is, it just is.
It’s like a free form mirror
That changes every time we look
Every form and symbol in art
Changes meaning constantly
With out end
Always changing
As the old saying goes
You can’t step
In the same river twice
You change
And the river changes
Yet as the French
Are said to have said
The more things change
The more they remain the same
Clichés are a form of truth
Truth that changes
Truth that stays the same
Yes I know that this
This is going in circles
The problem is that life
Goes in circles and spirals
The earth spins
The earth circles the sun
The sun goes around the galaxy
So where does that leave us
We want to know what it means
We want to win the game
But what if there is no game to win
What if it’s more like a drama
A story that we are living in
What happens when we take off our masks
What will we do then
Do you remember who you really are
Who you are without you mask
Who do you see when you look
Look in a mirror that sees thru masks
Is that not the face of spirit
Looking back at you
From the depth of your eyes
The depth of your soul
Or are you still playing in the drama
The story of just you and I
The story of the ordinary world
Where dreams and visions have no meaning
Where poetry and art are just another hobby

April 2010

Poetic License

My Poetry License
Arrived in the mail
Along with bills
And flier trash.
I had received
the official letter
months ago
that demanded
that I register
as a poet.
They had seen
my poems
on my blog.
They knew
where I lived.
Well this is the
age of the internet
where we have
no privacy.
We all know that, right?
We’re not children,
protected by our parent’s
thoughts of innocence.
But still, since when
does a poet
have to register?
It’s not like
we as poets
are selling anything.
Who but the most
artsy individuals
even reads poetry?
Why would they
even care
what we wrote,
especially if it’s
But they do care.
And like Corporations
or Jews in Nazi Germany,
they want to register us,
license us, and make us
card carrying poets.
Worse than that,
they tell us that they
have written laws about us.
It’s to protect us
and the public at large.
If you want to
write poetry here,
you have to have
a license.
A license to write poetry.
Well I could not
stop writing poetry.
It’s gotten into my blood,
into my nerves and brain.
My dreams are of poetry
and my poetry is my dream.
I breathe, eat, and drink poetry.
It’s not a compulsion or addiction.
No. It’s beyond that.
Without poetry I will die.
Die the same as I would
without food or water or air.
Impossible you say.
Impossible I agree, yet true.
As sure as the sky is blue,
the sea is green.
As sure as my heart
is beating and my eyes
are seeing.
Without poetry
I am dead.
Without poetry
I am a walking dead
So what could I do?
It was painless, even free.
The letter even had
a prepaid return envelope.
They even had my picture,
my name and address,
my blog IRL,
my email address,
my twitter account name,
my facebook account name,
and most damning of all,
copies of every poem
I had ever written.
Poems I had thought
long gone,
from childhood and college.
They had them all
and they wanted me
to know they had them.
They even said
that by registering
I would be protecting myself
and be given a small stipend
as well for each poem I wrote.
Being such a small time poet
I did not qualify for much.
Still there is a catch to the whole thing.
If I chose to register as a poet,
then all I could write would be poetry.
No more prose for me.
Nada, zero, zip in the way of prose.
This only applied
to written communication,
but still prose writing
is a lot to give up.
And how do I explain this
to people that I write to.
There was an exemption
for poets in schools,
but only until special
poet’s schools could be set up. 
Then the thought
occurred to me,
where is the cutoff
between prose and poetry?
There was no answer
in the provided literature.
They assumed that as a poet
I would know the difference.
I’m not sure that I really know,
but figure they probably
are as in the dark as I,
and if I write so that it
looks like poetry,
they probably would not
know the difference.
So in the end
I signed the papers
and sent them in.
And I now have
my poet’s license.
So you had better believe
that anything I write
is poetry,
whether it seems
like poetry or not.

April 2010

Paris Texas Transitions (unfinished poem)

Spirits open the door
And they show us
Show us who we really are
They show us who we can be
and who we are not
Transition is the key
That allows us to see
The changes 

Spirit can be cruel
Yes cruel as the gods
Why would this be so
Why cruel spirits
To mock us cruelly
Or do they show us
A mirror to see ourselves
Are they demons
haunting and mocking us
Or are they truthful
In what they have to show us

When we really need
To know the truth
Who do we trust
Who can we trust
Which mirror shows truth
Should the truth hurt
Is pain the only path
Is life only suffering
Can we not also find love
Life’s pain
Over time
Can deaden us
Can stop us cold
Can stop us old
Or even young
What of Life’s love
Don’t we need it too
Are we not dead 
If we have no love
What remains
If we hold on
Hold on too strongly
To a deadly past
That imprisons and
Breaks our heart
and leaves us so cold
Have we lost ourselves
If we let go of our love
A child is life
When there is love
But when life is frozen
What is the cost
Of our pain and suffering
Are they all there is
Is there more here
If we look deeper
Or should we give up
And just die to love

If we are deadened 
by sorrow’s arrow
Have we not already
Let go of love
If all we have is
Anger and Pain
have we not lost
The child to despair
Letting go of hope
Until nothing remains

Where do we go 
To find the transition
Between Love and despair
Do the two not live together
Joined at the hip
Do we dare deny either
Killing one at the expense
Of the other’s Life
What is the balance
where life can flow
between the two

Paris, full of life
City of lights
Lush with love
Lush with spirits
Flowing rivers
Flowing wine
A lover’s arms
In Paris nights
Is there no sadness
Can we find
No pain in Paris
and what of Texas
that state of heat
so opposite of Paris
Texas is not hell
They too have light
There too is love
But it can be bad
It can be prison
It can be rage
In molten furies of
Death on the wind
And waiting
I’ve been to Texas
I’ve seen its lightning
Like you wouldn’t believe 
Like the voice of God
Crossing the sky
Making you believe
In the power of
Those Texas skies
Yet here too we find
Sweet Paris of love
Sweet Paris of light
Still Texas has
Storms marching
Across the dry land
With waterless fury
Death on the move
Snakes and Scorpions
Watching silently
Watching intently
And yet we find
Paris here too in Texas
Paris Texas is here
The gate to where?
Heaven or Hell
Or maybe both
Who can say
Only the fates
Who silently watch
And we who live here
In Paris Texas 
World of the World
Strength lives here
As well as heat and cold
A summer inferno
That melts all feeling
A winter with no Ice
No snow, only cold
To stop your heart
If you stop to rest
But at the transition point
When the wind whips
And suddenly stops cold
Then run for cover
Hell’s door is opening
The gods awaken
No time to think
Only Run or Hide
Heat and Cold are nothing
Compared with what’s coming
When the fates awaken
It’s like the end of the world
We can only hide
Hunker down
Down in the earth
Or we can run
Run to escape
Escape our pain
Escape our chains
Run to where?
Doesn’t matter
Just Run
If the time is right
If it’s your fate
Death lets you go
Freedom awaits
Or not;
Who knows?
When all’s said and done
Not even the gods know
What’s over the next horizon

April 2010

The Magic of Words

If you could…
Listen to the song
Listen to the words
Listen to the Birds
Listen to my Heart
Words, words, words
The world is full of words
So many words
like the blackbirds in the song
Listen to the song
“Too many birds in one tree”
is how it starts
Is this a song or a poem
Words and 
more words
going where
doing what

I can imagine 
your words
your complaint
about me

What is he 
talking about

Say something
that makes sense
lined up in a row
Do the birds make sense
To you and me
Our words
lined up in a row
Do the words make sense
To the birds
Who is right
or the birds
This is what
it comes down to
Who are we, and
who are we not
The Birds 
each other
They make sense
to each other
are intimate 
with each other
fight with 
each other
drink and
with each other
To paraphrase
EE Cummings
they keep
each others hearts
in their own heart
How do we
each other
We use words
We write to 
each other
speak to 
each other
sing to 
each other
even lie to 
each other
We all do it
That’s who we are
That’s what we do
But these same words
keep us apart too
It’s like with dreams.
We say 
“I had a dream
last night 
in which
you and I 
were in love,
in bed 
we kissed and 
well you get the idea
But that’s not the dream
Those are the words
we use to describe
the memory of the dream
If you could only
stop your heart beat
for one heart beat
it would change the world
To stop your heart beat
for one heart beat
is to stop the world
for one heart beat
you might think,
but I beg to differ
I believe we do it
Do it all the time.
I believe that 
every time
we blink
we stop 
the world,
the same as
stopping your heart beat
for one heart beat
We pretend
not to notice
or say it’s not
Just as we try
to ignore death
The Tibetans 
have a word
for these 
eye blink
stop your heart beat
for one heart beat times
They call it 
the Bardo
This is the place
where the world
has stopped
where anything
can happen
where the gods and
goddesses live
where magic is real
where the birds
are human like us
where poetry and
song are the truth
where we go
just after we
have died
where we go
when we blink
our eyes
This is the magic
of words
their spell
so to speak
When used
as in the song
they work
their magic and
change the world
A little or a lot
Who can say
Even the oracle
won’t give
a straight answer
because the oracle
knows that the world
is always changing
and that everything
we say and do
changes things too
April 2010

The song is:
“Too many birds”
by Bill Callahan

Too many birds in one tree
Too many birds in one tree
And the sky is full of black and screaming leaves
The sky is full of black and screaming

And one more bird
Then one more bird
And one last bird
And another

One last black bird without a place to land
One last black bird without a place to be
Turns around in hopes to find the place it last knew rest
Oh black bird, over black rain burn
This is not where you last knew rest
You fly all night to sleep on stone
The heartless rest that in the morn, we’ll be gone
You fly all night to sleep on stone, to return to the tree with too many birds
Too many birds
Too many birds

If you…
If you could…
If you could only…
If you could only stop…
If you could only stop your…
If you could only stop your heart…
If you could only stop your heart beat…
If you could only stop your heart beat for…
If you could only stop your heart beat for one heart…
If you could only stop your heart beat for one heart beat.

and can be heard at:

Poetry Month

Poetry month, yea!!!
We can write poetry.
The rest of the year
Poetry’s forbidden
That’s how it works 
Right ???

Even better for us
We are allowed to
Write comments
In poetic,
Or at least
Semi-poetic style

On more than one occasion
I’ve been reprimanded
For poetic style comments
(True story)

My real problem is poetry
Or rather understanding
What exactly is the cut off
The cut off between poetry
and boring old prose

I’ve tried looking it up
Wikipedia, poetry web sites
Everywhere I could think of
I could never get a clear answer

So I just stick with this
It’s my deceased wife’s answer
About what is ART
Art (and poetry as well)
Is whatever you can get away with

April 2010