Tuesday, July 7, 2015

From the top of your head

Jill Moon, 1952-2015
 Jill Moon, the woman I loved more than nearly anyone or anything else, has passed away. This is a love poem I wrote for her back in  1996. It says it all and has nothing close to how deep our friendship was and how deep the loss is and will remain. She was 63 years old, a painter, a set designer, a college professor, a loving mother,  a glass artist, a wit, a smart person who loved beautiful things and interesting people. I love you, dear Jill. --tb)

From the top of your head
flowers grow that I’ve never seen
in the nature of my asking
the meaning of this thing, so beautiful, the wind.

The wind in all uses highlights
the shift of your hips
leaning against rocks, the meaning of this,
the earth, the mother of the deals
that have us eating out
of  the hands that pick the roots of your hair
that goes on growing like flowers on hills
with all the houses we ‘ve  never lived in.

A clap of thunder is applause enough for pausing
to smell the turpentine that revives the hem and haw
of  the wood under our shoes,
rainy nights are ovations and the trance
of  still looking into your eyes
where I’ve always seen them,
on pyramids, in circles,
thirsty yearning.

From my hands comes ruined meaning
about hammers and nails and the holes that made them,
I’ve stared at your face on the ceiling all night,
water flows where there is no resistance,
insistence makes me forget and remember your names,
every center has a heart
and every heart is broken.
Into your face    t
    all roads split down the middle,
    the wind is a whisper
and a rustle of notes
    coyotes cry
    in the wake
    of our progress,
    so beautiful, the wind,
    and water rolling
in circles, in circles, in peace.


He wouldn't change his mind
so I mailed him a brick and a rose
postage due, of course,
because the wind had gone from my sails
and I was stranded at the bus stop
with no token, after dark,
falling asleep to the barking of dogs
behind a fence.

I wouldn't apologize
so she sold my books
and record collection
to a man who specialized
in another decade's glory,
I cried under her window,
I sang her a song
written in schemes that rhymed
and plots that didn't,
I cannot be sorry
for invisible gestures
committed while I spoke on the phone, I explained,
hooking my thumb on a belt loop
when I mentioned nothing
what you thought it might
when I mentioned
"cake" and "bombast" in the same sentence,
but you gather my hats all the same
and toss them to the oak tree
that hangs over your roof,
one hat per limb,
one duck bill spinning toward the gutter
where leaves burn, as if on cue,
or my, what shall I do?

The government wouldn't straighten its spine
and walk a straight line
nor speak something without qualification,
so we held our breath
and took on horrible lovers
who would take our money from our wallets and purse
after we are asleep ,
we buy things we don't want
on the basis of a cute photos of grand kids on cell phone galleries,
we get in the car we stole
and drive to the edge of the map
after which there is only the tile of the floor below us,
checkerboard pattern and spread out newspapers
where the cat takes his craps,
this world
gets so much larger
the more we complain,
there biggest box
contains the largest emptiness.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Life in America Up Until Now

The white people
have gone crazy
in the back seats
of All American cars
looking for the sex life
that fell between the cracks,
meanwhile screaming the rudeness
of Romantic love
that   finds them
hung-over in court
too early in the morning
of a business day
where they'll tell the Judge
that it's only rock and roll
and that there was something in the way
the singer dropped his "g's
and a manner
worth noting when the guitarist
grabbed his whammy bar
and that all they did was taking
Creeley freely and pile into
the four-wheeled remains of a rumored prosperity
and drove into
the running gag reflex of the night, down a blvd.
filled brand names and bored cops,
cruising to get "some", to find "it"
and where "it" lived,
a slobbering example
of failed bonding
locked into habits
where even as their language of outrage
is bought and shredded
in magazines whose pages stick together
just as they did
in the parking lot after last call,
harassing the cocktail staff
that's  going home,
they'll stick to principals
familiar and vague,
like that song whose words you never memorized
but tried to sing anyway, with a hushed secret at the core of the chorus
Saying that love is somewhere
just around one of these thousands
of and that it’ll shake your hand
if you drive long and far and often enough,
if you've the gas
to complete the journey, the journey
Celine dreamed of while lying in bed,
staring at ceilings, concluding
that his language of outrage could only
describe the surface details of wrong turns,
that it  had been bought and sold in a tradition
of literature that speculates about how wonderful
our  lives might have been
if only the dream hadn't ended
when we opened our eyes,

Our eyes are constantly
getting used to the dark
absorbs every inch of brick
in  parking lots
behind buildings and under bedrooms
of others who've made
their peace with
the sameness of the night,
the radio blares
more guitar solos
emerging from the
static of stadium
drums and strumming,
crazed cadenzas
whose neurotic notes scurry
and cleave to a neuron receptor
and keys a change
in the brains chemical balance that  changes
the language of what the nights' really been about,

But we remain where we are,
white heterosexual males bond
by nothing more than
the chain sawing motion
of jaws lifting and falling
on the pillows and
sofa cushions in
desert motels
in time to the pans of a camera
on the silent television
where it’s nothing but a wall full
of clocks telling
the time in
three separate
time zones while
temperatures are mentioned where
anger and rain mix in the fields
and valleys of economies
based on pride,
some abstract grip on selflessness that
needs no sleep
as do the bodies in this room,
dead to the world when the
engine blew, when the gas ran out, when
the last drop in whatever bottle of
cartoon labeled beer vanished on the
buds of a tongue
whose thirst could not be slaked by?
promise of fortune or even
water, pure and free of lies,

We sleep in shifts until
our time here runs
out on us,
until the phone that rings
everyday for twenty minutes on end
stops finally and leaves
the house quiet
from stairway to attic to porch,
with only the whir of the
refrigerator engine
starting up
and filling the stale,
stale air that
used to carry
mean jazz, drum boogie,
scratched riffs of declarative guitars,
the frets of God announcing
a life worth inventing in the notes
that passed through the room,
the boredom,
we realize in frozen moments
that any excuse for getting
out of the house
is a magic trick
that’s performed after
they’ve shown you
where they’ve hidden the mirror,
“Language is the house
where man lives”,
let us say
that this life is
like being a fish
that cannot describe the water it swims in,
endlessly at 3AM
when only the coffee at
the 7-11 has the
aroma of anything
real enough to make
us think of getting
out of town
with one suitcase
and a bus fare,
next to a goddamned big car,
five shoulders
to the wheel
and no one able to drive
between towns , from carnival to still spot
where ever we could
pitch tents and trailers
and set up Ferris wheels that
would rattle against a
large scowling moon
hovering over
Modesto and Turlock
on dry August nights
when dollars are
grimy with mung from
many a farmer’s and mechanic’s hand,
power chords slice through
the speakers, destroy the cracked dashboard,
your face is slapped
with a power not your own,
it comes down to something
that’s a secret that even The Judge
won’t cop to it before he lowers his voice,

“The beat goes on,
the beat goes on,
the beat goes on,
the beat goes on…”

We can do better
this far away
from our past,
we have something
we’ve turned toward,
a light in eyes, a sun
that shines a light
those blades of
grass and long
stemmed flowers lean toward
even when clouds
and the stammer of fire eating transistors
sizzling from car windows distort the
image in the minds’ eye,
I see a city where we come
and plant our feet on lawns
where we can sit
and plant in turn
new seeds, ideas
of a future worth having,

Let’s lean into the sun,
into the sun,
ride bicycles into the sun
on the road that becomes
a ribbon around the
heart of the world.