Unfinished & Untitled

Some works live day in
day out works in progress
others abandoned
put out to the curb
or basement deferred

The sun sets indecisively
returning over and over
a reliable locomotive

The moon shifts shape
curls and hides
augments or diminishes
the work of the night

The best we finish is suggestion
an impression its precision
unreal if felt permanent

Light a river of silence
fished for colors
after the snowmelt
down in the valley

On Beauty

What is Beauty, that Beast in all caps?
The beauty of beauty is beauty
(“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”)
wants no thought, bears no meaning.

We may begin by stating what beauty
is not: beauty can not be purchased,
beauty is not style nor fashion,
beauty is not transitory nor fixed,
serves no function, is non-cultural.

Beauty is cosmopolitan, universal.
Beauty is humble, avoids museums.
Beauty is not needy, invites no convo.
Beauty is meaningless, for sense,
that human construct, usurps beauty
of its principal pleasure.

Meaning (definition, interpretation,
reveal, tell-tale) translates forms,
the essence of beauty, into human
terms, where it loses its native essence.

We can not paint the soul, nor post
a pic of it.

Beauty is not the opposite
of ugly, tho ugly walks hand in hand
with beauty, speaks with beauty,
but beauty has no answer,
no comment.

And yet, Eco says:
“…an orgy of tolerance, the total syncretism and the absolute and unstoppable polytheism of Beauty.”
Which is to say, “Beauty! Get out of Dodge!”

Beauty is not a value, but a virtue.

We can of course get more involved:

But we grow weary of wearing
that same old tattered dress,
and find little tenderness
in your tries and stays.

We close our talk on beauty
with a beautiful poem
by e. e. cummings:

[O sweet spontaneous]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the
doting

             fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched
and
poked

thee
,has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
thy

        beauty      how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
gods
         (but
true

to the incomparable
couch of death thy
rhythmic
lover

             thou answerest

them only with

                              spring)

E. E. Cummings, “O sweet spontaneous” from Tulips & Chimneys. Copyright © 1923 by E. E. Cummings. Reprinted by permission of Public Domain. Copied from Poetry Foundation.

PS: We have been waiting
overtime
for your answer
this year.

Beboparebopawoebot

Worst may happen words will be wasted
but when the Old Kingdom cattle count
comes around you’ll be taxed every one
so omit unnecessary parts of speech
and craft each comment in mindfulness

As for punctuation use sparsely as if
on a desert plain flat and dry and open
for readers are offended by periods1
while snowflakes fall like plumules
to cover the withered words of summer

Do not read for meaning but for beauty
for you cannot stop the flow of words
the catastrophe of thought fills space
with light and shadow dappled colors
The purpose of poetry is clerestory

a window you can’t see out allows
light to fill the air enclosed inside
worthy even if you have to hear organs
groan like donkeys through the lovely
indoor sky and nothing you suspicion

1“Woebot tends to avoid periods at the end of texts, because user research has suggested that people experience them as aggressive”

The New Yorker, “Can A.I. Treat Mental Illness? New computer systems aim to peer inside our heads—and to help us fix what they find there.” By Dhruv Khullar. February 27, 2023.

Civics

The queen carries no purse
not the king packs a wallet
morning comes their words
don’t freeze to mouth’s roof

No one ever asks to see their
IDs they do not live alone yet
do not sleep together either
they don’t own an automobile

No tweet feed no clock tells
tick-tock up and down halls
around the castle walls one
hears swishes but little talk

No dust accumulates no litter
allowed in the vast library no
television no stereo system
for fun they sit at the grand

piano and play God Save the
Queen and King from dust
and misery from questions
answers and such shilly-shally

Under Snow

Something there is wants the snow to stay
keeping spring sprouts warm thru the night
and day until we can begin again to grow
in the sun’s majestic magnificent glow.

Unlike the undertow of the riptide, under
snow things stay in place and time stops
the wind’s whips snap over our heads
barely disturbing our sleep down below.

My neighbor outside dressed in muffs
shovels the snow off his cement ways
while I awake but still under snow
dare not disturb a single snow flake.

There are gaps in my thoughts like
missing teeth so I can’t take my ease
like the retired rich man in Luke
who does “eat, drink, and be merry.”

I say to my soul stay under the snow
it is a gift from a keen rich boss who
knows in his other hand must throw
suns of summer to heat green souls.

At Bay

How to begin this sober day of play
not to go down none subtle catastrophe
words wander away, branch out from here
blue curly birds may have places to rest.

Ads at bay, nestled in floral concertina
why can’t you be that guy
who saves the day
from grief and grinding gears

from fears like ghosts with no roots
little bugs that crawl and sneak into ears
why can’t you understand
we don’t need a plan

we need a place to live in peaches
round and soft and downy fur –
who is talking now and to whom
and to what end these words wind

their way through the day as the snow melts
and shows the same stuff still from yesterday
the cover of the snow held such promise
but its magic doesn’t stick here long

and when the sun returns so it will
we’ll have work to keep busy and full
roads to finish out of these forests
into clearings of Monet’s bright flowers.

The light changes quickly always anew
in the dark songs of what we see
in the light tricks of what we worry
about the dark in the light.

Why can’t you be that guy
who comes to save the day
without words without song
keeps his promise all night long.

Still Bird

Still from the sill the cat peers
windowed in at the flightless
bird atop the grape pergola.

The cat flies through the night
but this bird won’t spread wings
not that we’ve ever seen.

Patient the bird still sits until
asked to fill out a form with pen
questions on feathers and hymns

and such: are you a sole
bird? how high do you fly?
are you a kind bird? what kind?

In what direction points
your beak when at odds
with others you yearn

for the sea and sing
a single note of myst
a story that obscures

your spurt in a torment
a torrent of thickel
breathfull agog gast?

Heart-Shaped

A dust of snow this Valentine’s Day
not much just a sprinkle of sugar
on roofs and grass of sweetmeats
the street’s clear to come and go
social love miserly virtual treats
turns sour at the corner ignored
relics of one’s love in framed pics.

Lost love seems now the sweetest
tooth in the mouth of memory when
to bite yearningly brings back pain
without which tho there is nothing
for the heart in its card to hark back
to not words nor images nor nights
at sea dressed in red sky vapor trails.

Words last not last night’s telling
as we amble toward a late spring
watching the squirrels and crows
from icy windows and Scamble and
Cramble the cats come to smell
and scratch in the familiar places
looking for a facial comfort zone.

But in safe and ease we may feel
nothing better to go in the cold
grab a nip and feel the wet bit
scrunch of the lips in the dark
alley tongue out the back door
of your ground floor apartment
upstairs we would not gambol.

Love’s crisis longs for a headline
an ocean in which to clown one’s
cartoon visions under a laughing
audience of unidentified balloons
aloft the shape and size of hearts
made of flour and sugar and red
paint and salt water taffy.

Oh to have & hold a heart a late
night very red strawberry fruit
hugs with no words drawings
seen from our wintry limbs
high up in our trees we climb
to enjoy one another’s going
easy and around and around.

A Poetry of Oddity

Collected in poems whats
decorative which is odd
a sad iron pressed against
her forehead happy hands
waving goodbye to white
wrinkled blouses the lacy
lazy lives long now lost.

Sad too the turtle backs
stacked in a bowl as if
for a crab feed bottles
of quality wine carried
home in a grocery cart.

Ages and ages hence
consigned to collections
of periodicals we used
to play bingo at church
prayed to Jesus a good
card to win the catch.

Portrait of a lady
sitting beneath
a covey of chandeliers
her antique back
stiff and brittle with age.

The skeleton
of a barber chair
a retired fisherman
walking along a quay
a homemade boat
in the distance.

And in the rooms
above the shops
full of Chantilly lace
champaign and chagrin
we pause and pose
hoping to be collected
and not thrown out
as odd as we be old.


Cold Car

Early still dark and the cat is up
a cup of coffee before commute
past a golden sun in woods lost
to old Firestones rubber cairns.

Commutes are like short stories
back out, turn around, take off
reach the corner slow stop turn
right down the hill to the light.

The hills loom typographically
a bold outline of italicized firs
at an intersection of squirrels
and owls a tree older than any

house on the block remembers
not who lived where but winds
and howls rains and scorching
sun a few children on swings.

Houses last longer than cars
trees longer than houses the
old man recalls his home his
cars and the tree he planted

in his front yard a year prior
to the war and it lived to see
the freeway come through
odd name that, he said,

no one on it ever seemed free
especially if you missed your
offramp had to go another
mile or two get off back on.

One picks a car like a font
default curlicue bumpers
and chrome strips along
the doors inside the bowl

cold in the counter stroke
as one enters the aperture
the temperature there not
quite human in spite of the

comfort compared to the horse
drawn buggy or the old man
with a staff stumbling toward
town his rucksack full of acorns.

Me and Midnight

I talk to myself
I’ve not much to say
I talk to myself
just like to say hey.

I talk to myself
and oh by the way
I put in a good
word for you.

When I’m out on the road behind the wheel
I talk to myself and away I peel
When standing in line at the DMV
I talk to myself as if I believed.

All around town as I walk down the street
I talk to myself as I meet and greet
After midnight and I’m awake in bed
I talk to myself in the back of my head.

Midnight is my cat a Persian Blue
she hangs out late shooting pool
down on the corner she curls the poles
finally comes home up the back ladder
looking for a hot cup of black coffee.

Midnight drinks coffee all night long
plays guitar and sings nine minute songs
If you’ve never seen a cat play and sing
come on up my back stoop after midnight.

And while Midnight plays guitar and sings
her songs I talk to myself all night long
I’ve not much to say but hey I say
I talk to myself and satisfy the blues.