A Tree Falls in the Forest

Sally said, “Well, I’m really not into firewood epistemology
But if you insist: That tree is true when I see it
As a thought.”
Dick said, “No, that tree is true when I chop it
With my ax.”
Sally said, “Then do I exist when you chop a tree
Or only when you’re in bed with me?”
Dick said, “My point exactly—YOU exist
Like nothing else.”
Sally said, “You asshole.”

Poem by a Youth

which is true
the poem you see
or the man who wrote it?
if the verse is laying waste to man
and he is loving while he writes it
which needs the other worse?
what is his obstacle
to paradise?  and is it
yours as well?

son so cynical
nothing more I lay to waste
than does the same to you
take the ruins in my words
as tokens of my love.

My Susie, My Patrick

Emily Dickinson before The Day
Saw Susie Gilbert everywhere:
“I have but one thought, Susie,
This afternoon of June,
And that is of you,
One wish, only, dear Susie,
And that is for you
That you and I in hand
As we e’en do in heart,
Might ramble away as children
Among the woods and fields
And forget these many years
These sorrowing cares
And each become a boy again!”
O Emily, love, my prophet
Centuries on the march
I’m thinking just the same myself
Your Susie is my Patrick
Twice blessed we are
Despite ourselves
Neither we weird out.

Infinity Mirror

I say Death
And see death all around
Like that barbershop
I went to as a boy
With mirrored facing walls
I’d gape into as if
A tunnel into time
Smaller, smaller, smaller
Then fractal to no end
Trapped into a distance
Almost disappeared.
Quite a competition
They had going,
Those damn mirrors,
For my nothingness
Dissolution into
Quite a terror too
Quite a terror ‘til
I say Life
And see life all around.

Love and Tree (1985)

Cleaning up a room for love
Is not at all dissimilar
To cleaning it for death,
Each fastidious censor
To our dearest audience.

Perception is the clearest
For follies of the past
A simple word in shallows
Sounded at its depth
Perfection, criticism
Every desperate try.

I’ve tossed a thousand volumes
Preparing for them both
Re-shelved my mind
To just the line
Of a letter
That was left.

But love at last
Cleared out the most
And wrote a million more
Babe, when you stood me up again
I went and hugged a tree.

Baptist Church Homecoming

So nice to see a fellow child survive
The range of impish grins that I recall
Now ruck necked, fleshy, bellied
Bristly gray, their handsome sons and daughters
Grand-babes seize my eye.  The sermon
Has a quality of place, a place that System
Unrelenting mocks—from quaint, to cult,
To butt of jests elite:  “Subvert those
Rubes to 50 Shades of Gray!”
In the decades since
I preached there as a teen (many  say
The best youth sermon they recall)
The calling never lessened to repair
And release my inner Savonarola
To the task, to chivvy more than platitudes
For war, and wreak the lesson System
So deserved.   But for that, alas, the preacher
Disagreed, “Vengeance is the opposite of grace.”
Said he:  “Pray for Harvey Weinstein.”
Or so forth and so on and so
I sloughed my cowl for secular attire,
And made a Trojan voice to infiltrate
To give as good, or better, than I got
And inflict a verse effective with surprise:
“Beauty,” I proclaimed, “is all–
Now burn you motherfucker to the ground!”