Death in Venice (North Carolina)

Boys can be cute but also like
A pit bull’s puppies’ grow and turn.
Will they guard me or attack?
Boys can be cute like a raccoon
I saw in a cage at a sawmill
The trappers used.  I wanted to
Pet it, but mom and dad said “no
Not only do they have razor sharp
Teeth that can tear a dog to shreds
RABIES is a ghastly way to die.”
They explained, adequately I guess.
At least I convulsed.  Still
Boys can be cute.  Could Socrates
Help himself?  Plato said
Ideally.   Socrates?
So easy with that hemlock
It makes me wonder sometimes.
Yes, boys can be cute.  Google
“Stalin as boy,” “Himmler as boy”
Or just your average murderer
Who killed his parents or shot up his school.
Usually rather cute.  Or am I just
Seeing angels where none exists
And never has?  Am I
Being cute—or queer?

3 Poets (1985)

I watched a lion in his cage
Pace Serengeties cubed
And saw the gene in every step
That knew about the plain.

I saw a prophet in his cell
Paladin of his Cause
Due to die tomorrow
For killing hell, he thought.

Saw a poet in us all
And shuddered that I felt
Common bond between us
A vision even now.    

Halvard Solness, poet

the zest of her on winter’s shortest day
is like an everlasting light, her blond hair
tossing her shoulders, the supple knack
of cheers she cartwheels every night,
my mind has  kissed them once or twice
in just a week she turns fourteen
God, i wish i were her daddy!

but that would mean a poet’s life–
cereal for breakfast,  canned whatnot
for supper with lots of abstract
nothings in between, lost in thought
or a thesaurus for empyreal words
that yet
fall short the beauty of empyria.

walmart for haute couture
walmart for haute cuisine
clunkers when she drives notwithstanding
she prefers the newest of  name brands
at every mall & store.

my hugs & kisses not enough
soon she’d spike her hair with green &…well…
i would not like that.
which is the point.

but there would be devotion & by that chain
what chain to break a heart
in high school with boys i do not like:
pierced, tattooed, “hey dude” democrats
smarmy “nice-to-meet-you-sir” republicans
driving suped up cars, or cars beyond their means,
with one philosophy in common
(despite the minor differences in style).

and so i leave her light a little tense—searching,
searching for a country that will work,
that keeps me in the loop of joy and youth,
cool with my suspenders,
the occasional use of a cane…

it’s enough to drive a man to Wordsworth
and so it did:

For as I feared is half-how it came to be
With more effrontery than thought
She married young, the most
I warned about—damn Jew!

They have their dreams and I, beard gray,
Putter the trails I used to run, for friend
The selfsame solitude that made her shine replete:
Prophetic hues of deep primeval green come spring
In bursts of bud and leaf, transport
To every age and infinite world:
That long circle of phylogeny I plod alone
Warm blooded, seized of beauty alone
Among numb cold blooded things,
Bound if not resigned to the deciduous bloom
As to my most deciduous moods in winter,
Walking with a cane.

Critique of Pure Reason

miraculous
dull
reptile that I am
in may
a gator
on a swampy stump
primeval
in my slime
yet trending
june
pig in sunshine
wallow
prolific
bliss if nothing
else
while friends say
they find me
warmer
and
finally
making
sense
says Carol
who absolutely loathes
a threesome
with Immanuel Kant.

Civilization and Its Discontents

does what gushy know
depend
on you and me?
could he think it
in a world
of just his own?
if we voted with our feet
a separate be
that left
the thoughts of gushy
all alone…
the cannibal fires
encroaching
night by night…
would that be enough?
or would he accuse as he accused before
or tell us
“cannibals are the equal of your ways”
proclaiming proudly shackled
as he stewed:
“brothers, make of me
if you please
a meal
but heed this final warning
well and good:
whitey
where’er existent
I declare
the eternal cause
of living hell!”

oh, gushy, late
i feel your pain
regret
yesterday my car
was repossessed
but to hell with making
repast for a tribe
i’m burning rome
with nero
as I write.

Thanopylae

Another death poem.  I really should put a quota on these but Emily insists.  The good news is they tend to alternate with orgy poems. 

Death, the ultimate equalizer.
A Stalinist I suspect, though
I’d happy say a Democrat
If it left me free to choose.

Tyrant in extremis
To make of us a clod
Then note for consolation
Everyone is next.

Vanilla Extract on a Silver Platter

This poem is one of my rare forays into postmodernism, the result of reading John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror”—twice.  I wrote it in one sitting, completely off the cuff. I let it rest a few days, came back to it, and can only say I believe it improved on Ashbery.  Nevertheless, I welcome the reader’s discernment here, together with suggestions for improvement.    I’m thinking about a much longer poem channeling Ashbery’s brain that explores the Self-portrait as it relates to the Sack of Rome. 

I say of a crowd well heeled
”Vanilla extract on a silver platter”
But that is less a compensation
Than the hordes ride with their envy;
The young hordes have more time
And there are billions of them
Though with paper plates, or rather,
Because of paper plates
To triumph. And so I tell the “best,”
The all-complacent arriviste,
Smug in his contempt of me, his own
Who does not own:
Be done with your toys and silver platters
These are totems of your death;
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw
You are savage in your ken —
Worse, without the willing gene.
Go! Outgrow your extinction,
This gaudy death wish,
And make a toy to live!
Vanilla extract on a paper plate.