mrs. tubman

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mrs. tubman

your calloused hands

cut deep with wounds

of whips and enmity


with which you hold

the arms of the newly

manumitted their ankles

and minds unshackled


the liberation love begets

tender gauze of your

truculent gaze. you shut


your eyes standing there

in maryland’s miasmal

marshes where hounds

are bellowing


and patrollers searching

for you, an image

of a burly man,

with the light feet


of a skittering wren

thick in the sinews,

etched upon the soft clay

of their impressionable brains,


and you laugh,

you who crawled free

from cerberus’s mouth


who looked past his

hulking uvula into

the ravenous dark and walked

right back inside.


pagan tree

Image result for tree

pagan tree

your languid limbs reach to unlikely heights

perhaps in ancient malice or primordial spite

against urban lights, hotels, towers, banks

suffusing us with breath, craftsman who makes

molecules, bricks on which we build our lives.

your trunk the place where wealth divides–

mossy squaw with concave hips,

what sultry songs have parted your lips?

in centuries past your stout body was a whipping post

what remorse or enmity have your boughs held and lost?

poem with line from the I Ching

Image result for pottery

poem with line from the I Ching

watch the wheel and its

isochronal motion,

hypnotism of unvarying ellipsis


pure product of the potter’s mind

a vase in which the breath of flame

inspires the mingling of vision, desire–


whirling object, blessed oblation to quell

the creative, prometheus’s interminable rage


you lie on cold tile

at the outset of your incohate death.


the clinging.

perseverance. it brings success

care of the cow brings good fortune.


shafts of seraphic light lay siege

to the cool rooms. you’re in awe


of the air’s heaviness

as it rushes out from your veins


what are you: the clay,

the kiln, or the spark that will set

our fields ablaze?

the house of guardaboschi

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the house of guardaboschi

-after Klimt

walls and windows

with no doorway

pity the long-suffering

tenant pity the edifice

soon to be swallowed

in the widening mouth

of slow-growing moss

strength wealth and even

wisdom wilt but king spring

reigns in each and every age

the players on the white sand beaches of the western united states

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the players on the white sand beaches of the western united states

it happened this year, but it could be any year,

any day of any week where the man with sunglasses pulls

out his horn, his plaid tie billowing in the breeze

and puts the mouthpiece to his lips, swaying with the convincing charisma

of the waves, almost as if he were a priest in the diocese of hypnosis

he’s  yardbird. no, he’s miles davis

or more likely than not

he’s none of the above.

he’s a man who has soul so deep he makes the dead holler in their high-vaulted tombs

his rhythm makes the birds fly backward.

an old woman leaps up from her wheelchair,

propelled by a metaphysical mechanism, a jack springing from its box

“hallelujah!” she shouts. it’s a miracle. while

the band hits notes in an invisible clef; they feel

the music in their intestines as the tide sweeps away

old coke cans, abandoned toys…leaving only seaweed

enveloping the crowd in the folds of night

a crab scuttles along the surface, smooth whittled ivory-colored

sediment testament to the chemical processes of catalyzation

and dying. “hit it” he says, and even the moon sways

in tune to the players who forget for a moment even

their own names amid the festivities….see the yellow lining

of their souls limned with the light of distant stars

and chilly, planetary streetlights.


brer rabbit in new york

Image result for new york harlem

brer rabbit in new york

what a wonder it is to watch the multifarious lights

as they whip and whorl along

columns of steel and concrete,

billboards with copious advertisements clinging to rusted scaffolds,

an american flag with ancillary stars added

a banner of perpetual war in the corner of every other

window, and i don’t know if i should remove

my straw hat, baring my ears, whiskers drooping

in solemn fashion or if i should weep from joy at the grandeur of it all–


                    america, you have surpassed yourself.

you are a woman rising from the lake of cinders holding

a lamp. streetcars on rails stretching forever, automatic

wagons, which hail for all people, rich and poor, black and white


look at the splendid multitude of bodies bustling,

each hurrying to his designated place. people

with unforgiving faces, each always seeming

to be on the threshold of arrival. neckties coiled,

choking men in the loving manner of a boa constrictor.

see how far we have come and how much farther to go in this tired time


somehow soup cans are seeming bastions of art: damn it all–

the wind which ferries fears emitted from cigarette butts

an old junkie with a matted moustache gnaws his own wrist in a corner

away from the pernicious eyes of the all-seeing streetlight,

and he beckons me over to stand beside him,


i have no words to express urban malaise

astounding decadence, this is what it means

to become one’s own erasure

                                      i like the way

you grab me by the ears

                                      “you do?”

you say, and i say grab them harder, and you oblige

and i am still trying to understand what makes this scene erotic,

and then you pull my tail, though i cannot feel the heat, because this is not the field,

nor is it the long and clandestine nights out behind the shed, but

i can at least intellectualize the desire, and suddenly

what i am losing is naught compared to what i have to gain


“and now what?” he asks

my bottom in one hand

his black hat in the other

“make me disappear” i say,


and he does.

january 31, 2018

january 31, 2018

where is one to go in this wilderness of words?

platitudes stuck on the tongue, scraps from half-formed poems

which prompt me to wonder

to what quivering star should i affix my micawber eyes?

what belief to carry and be carried by?

buried in the endless desert there is an oasis

my ancient spade splotched with rust sinks its tooth

into the ground scooping dirt in heaps like soft serve swirls

so many possibilities swept away in the wind’s long reach

faulty sums effaced from a sumerian merchant’s tablet,


even the solitude has its shortcomings

defined by established demarcations, the contingency,

the continuity of time, revealing how

the bones of unremembered uncles wait for us:

plots of land unpurchased, children prayed for

their toys and blankets paid for who never made it

to the home they never felt, perhaps right here

past the high grass and rough roadways there

on your uncherished acre.

the centaur and the phoenix

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the centaur and the phoenix

i am a child of earth,

born in a dusty hole,

surrounded by ancient oaks,

worms, and maggots, songs

of orioles in a forest at the edge

of the known world. life

was different then before

the encroachment of people

with their planes, trains, and cranes.

wonder still wandered among us,

as we lit fires in the evening,

clouds of smoke obscuring stars

and distant planets. we danced

to satyr songs, and the great god pan

filled our cups with wine from his

jug of plenty. in those times,

the phoenix would swoop down

from the umbrageous canopy

like a celestial missile,

and her tail a terpsichorean delight,

splendid in the sight of our midnight desires,

but those days are now a page torn

from the book of the dead and wadded

in a wastebin in the corner of an ignoble atrium.

i stand at the sink, hooves slipping

on my mopped floor. the mirror

stares at my gaunt and wrinkled face,

and the weight of silence strikes me

as a blow from a nightstick.

the phoenix is but a little chicklet now,

and as I button my shirt up

to the collar, the sun sticks its fingers

through the bathroom window

and pulls me back.

flower of necessity

Image result for flower

flower of necessity

ionic stalk bending backward

colorless petals billowing

with a lion’s capacious roar

reverberating in relentless rain


soft fragments from forgotten times


wild spores riding

on the fragrant fur

of memory


all organs stem

from seeds


whether ova



within halls of healing

and concupiscence


or cells coursing

through phloem

gondolas on ancient streets


the same sisyphean

spell cast by tired doges

whose ire echoes

from age to age


divide divide

divide they say


what a wonder how each

arboreal dream finds its way


splintered and pixelated

in the lens of ten-thousand eyes


the wind which berefts us

will sew us back together


when we wake

on the last morning

of our exile


unperturbed by the thankless thunder

snow angel

Image result for snow angels

snow angel

look! there goes our lives, a dream we glean

through murky glass and such genial snow for hours

falling on windshields drizzled with dry bugs clean

only in memory. time tilts his heavy head to devour

silence the unmeasured breath of charted space

black woods beckon thick timber of tired centuries

seeds sown in humid soil youthful branches race

to this moment beetles beaming in sunlight reveries


what wondrous roots what intricate tendrils twist,

harden, and are nearly undone from unmerciful wind:

strong gusts of midnight axes, will o the wisp

flickering over frosted streams light to find

the ghost inside maggot munching your liver

gift you can’t return, shadow of its giver.