Dreams in Search of a Poem
A body goes along with obligations
despite the chemical stress that roils
through a vein dark living universe,
tearing down responding structures
building up defensive sandbags of
debris. Radiant high heavens blast
our evolution with change and cells
turning against any forward march,
find a better way to keep being well
or break down and stop being at all.
Tornadoes spin along horizons in
a future world, volcanoes belch a
column of ash, waves crash on
insouciant strollers, boardwalk
visitors caught mid pose, drown
a sandy paradise, its way of life,
crumbs of material possessions
we cling to, but never really own.
Crisis comes, but never goes away,
leaves a note on the door, deceives
your brain into looking forward to
a mental vacation when this is over.
Not so fast, theyíre gathered a block
down your street, waiting with tents
and stretcher bearers on stand-by,
armed troops just in case of riots,
food trucks if nothing else works.
Doesnít growing up with threats of
atom bomb attacks make us stronger?
Who sent this lulla-gram, bill of goods,
your community chest at work, what
mentholated tranquilizer buzz goes
house to house in search of hope?
The mother load of wars unleashed,
my warheads arch over heads at war,
prince and peasant peering out of
trembling windows as my artifacts
sail into oblivion, shake the night
awake with more terror than the fear
at hand, one terror met by another.
Oil wells burn and once again I draw,
render an impossible machine to
put out the fires, make the world safe
for oil. They remember the artist, the
fool who illustrates with impunity.
The hi-tech solution put aside for a
future, far more dire use to save us.
I can see electronic bread crumbs,
the breadboard kneaded by thumbs
to make molecules obey the bidding
of willful minds. Circuit pathway at
work to fulfill a wish list too grand
in scale to imagine as production
starts but does not stop to consider
the unintended consequences we
hover with fingertips to launch.
Dream 48 (see vol. 19)
My art is incomplete except in thought.
Ideas quarrel among themselves for a
higher purpose. The means to illuminate
has yet to break light across the world.
The works, drawings, paintings, all show
a miracle approaching, squiggle notation,
electric ektromobot of gestating gizmos,
the gyre and gamble frozen in its wake.
Oblique dementia, bizarre perception,
the artist eye believes sensation alone
to be a concrete statement of fact on a
document thought to be legal tender,
spatial truth tricked by nature to exist
in its own mathematic sophistry as tho
literal words could take shape without
a relevant space-time continuum to
justify what is barely a poetic mind-
twist proliferating its rhomboid reams.
But, Ulysse was right, having faced
his odyssey, island by magic island,
truth came true, ďtheyíre just pictures,
Jim, worn, carnival, canvas con-jobs.
Somewhere the sun-moon blend of
reality becomes crystal metaphor, so
diamond hard you can sell it for gold,
mass produce it like first imagination,
stamped, ready to wear, appropriate
for any age that perceives its own age,
walks and talks consensus all the way
to its own wall socket until it trips on
its own cord and pulls the plug out
from everything and all goes dark.
Someone will shake you again and
send you out amongst the people
to tell your story but while only a few
lamps begin to rekindle, audiences,
however easy to find will fall asleep.
If I could have sung when the girl
next door was in tune it would all
be rosy with music, all about the
lyric of life, exotic rhythm shaking
the lemonade leaves, a soda fizz
lime in the coconut concoction of
national dreamtime, celebration a
flimsy excuse away from expiration.
But, who dwells on that? Poets?
After the drinks and parties, the beer
ball bash, and clean up crew appears,
the gear all loaded out and locked in
trailers, echoes of hoots in the night
still ricocheting between houses on
lamp lit streets, the players, leaders
of song and dream drive away in a
tingle of sensation perhaps never to
sense or play again as the curtain
draws on yet another scene where a
script can only call for gesture and
signage, grimace and grope, troops
worn down by the gyration of life.
Again you speak out, voice raised
above the coffeehouse cacophony
soda, frappe, grinding beans and
lost attention span holding the door
open to the wind and rain of refugee
traffic, the soul shoppers hungry for
noise of consensus, or buzz warm
devices we gather round for signs
of space-time relevance, add a twist
of lemon in a bubble clear dance as
more voices rise recounting ditched
attempts to deal with expectations,
played out in colored cardboard cars.
Girl next door, I need your infant care,
granite rolled fantasy clay, attention
to grocery list and next day plans.
Where did they go when we had them?
This is madness, living from one
anticipation to the next, not fully
appreciating the one fulfilled, and
moving unexpectedly to the next
far distant mirage wavering on an
exiled bivouac horizon, deserted.
The slum locations of your life go
unquestioned, like DUIís and jail.
The camps we find ourselves in
are only a temporary meantime
solution, a Titanic deck chair drill,
elaborate security checks before
final collapse and rubble search.
Joy, hope, who me pessimistic?
I drank the beer with the cigarette
butt in it, remember. I was there,
leading the chorus, taunting the
dancers, highlighting the costume
parade of tinsel dazzle for hoot
and howl of new year spectacle.
Every guitar and drum I ever
wanted, mine for Christmas,
Easter and bunny, who says Iím
morose and downcast, funny
how one scene later they forgot.
Insanity is only a symptom, an empty space in the
parking lot where you still shake after the all-clear
horn blows and someone wants to know if youíre
OK, need some water, so you pass out from being
wound tighter than a corkscrew gadget trying to
stop a train on a collision course with your genome,
phantom-ancestor-smoke-bath-prayer that your
filial piety begs you to recite over and over until
the attendant wakes you from an E. R. naptime
that up until now you didnít know you needed.
next door seems hardly changed
Tho I live for the opportunity to put scant bare
logic into suspended animation like an airline
mid flight hull breach pressure drop, napkins,
pamphlets, purses flying in a misty cold cloud
emergency red blinking tourist trip gone wild,
I realize that I am only here to entertain, all
because the bouncer threw me out, rescue
responder put me in an ambulance, girl next
door said not to worry, gypsy family showed
me the wisdom of magical thinking, mind jog
journey where a warm family sent me books
and shared apocryphal insight from personal
epiphany as well as home movies on video.
I thank you from the bottom of my dismal
lucid search for a dream poem to call my own.
There are echoes before and after every crisis,
blurred lines of force around each node of
energy you pass by unaware of significance
until the alert sounds, systems go down around
you and all fuck breaks loose, just when you
think nothing could get worse and it does.
The echoes in your long dark halls may not
be as bad as the first response moment, may
not have the impact of stopping a plane, train,
bus accident, gunman on the loose moment,
but your mighty I-told-you-so intuition logic
is not often wrong especially in hind sight.
The gene is telling. The numbers are climbing,
you may get ten more years to make the change,
keep the pot from boil-over beans on deck, and
let everyone know its not your morality or mind
deficiency thatís causing you to draw back from
the great arena, but something your ancestors
could do nothing about except write memoirs.
For the first time in history I can change all
that jazz to another tune, thumping my lone
transistors awake with triumph AND memoirs.
Run til you hit the wall, rest a bit then run some more.
Walk if you must, disregard the nearest exit. You have
many visits planned, unplanned, souls to cheer up,
feats of quick-fingered documents and readings to
give, live testimony, mentor aid, cool advice to pass on,
unsuspecting hearts to fill along the way. Trooper,
listen up real good. Pack that kit bag, take your meds,
a sanity wagon still stops to pick up the weary, your
mental vacation is only a bad day away. Carry on soldier.
They come back and they shouldnít. The hollering
faces decrying every awkward solution evoked in
snap decision, wishing more time to think about it.
If only suspended judgment stood me on my bravo
sierra hilltop haven-promised-land-garden paradise,
hummed the power up reset refrain of the human
flow chart in my brain until a peaceful thought
came over me and I acted with seasoned courage.
Hideous battlefield the past. Dirt gray and empty.
Why go there with your shrink in tow, except to
show the folly of your ways, age gracefully and
retire the demon rage, caustic causes, crystal city.
Early retirement? They think Iíve been retired
for twenty years already! What were you doing?
Where were you when I was having the time of
my life. Want to see me do that again? Iím going
to do what I set out to do all along, find that dream
my poem fits into like a shiny setting fits a gem
too precious to believe, a topaz of frozen tears,
an amethyst of purple blood promises made
before drowning, prayerful gifted diamond to
the three time zones of wedlock, stone ripped
from the forehead of time, ice ringed in space.
It looms ahead, a spidery mandible moving in
slow eternal motion, cloud of stars for backing.
It points like an uncle Sam poster wanting you,
warns in case of emergency, break glass, break
silence, break down, but you donít. Drag me
kicking, thru pig sty, cow puddle, rat piddle,
give me the chores, I trust my work, cage my
wild nature in Shinto reverence, set my heart
in cork facing the buoyant directions all nature
gives and floats out to sea. My life is all my
doing, I wanted to be there, anywhere life calls.
The slums, the dumps, the lonely mountains,
heights of power, gutters of wrath, broken
angel multi-level mind garage of asphalt and
and concrete, Roman stone and hitching post,
I knelt there, felt a twinge of care and loving
there, kissed the girl next door before she
disappeared forever and reappeared still live
and effervescent, telling me what to do this
time around, always finding her, rosy of glen.
Why didnít I know she would always find me?
She still feeds me and Iím sixty-four years young,
tho my world's coming apart like a biblical account.
The girl next door is not an illusion, sheís like a
planet, a nearby star, a hitching post for sunshine.
I would mount her spirit in my poem setting but
could not bear to see her fixed in blue with agate
stillness, cream sardonyx, caught mid rapture by
my poetic vanity, her voice within me crying out.
The hero knows to join his own club of silent vigil;
refuses to speak the words he uttered, whispered
under his breath at the moment he anticipated his
defeat. He swallows hard, the poem that would
recognize him, shattered and battle scarred, his
return to freedom even scarier than bravo sierra
hills of recluse scavenging, bird in hand hunger.
Personal solutions press a man to shaved ham on
buns, pickled butterbean on toast, string cheese
over blow torch melt. Hoist that black beer foamy
overcoat darkness again in remembered chills.
Say nothing of the sentiment you finally owned.
"Such an easy game", they used to say, sleep
deprived heads, elbows and butts parked on
swivel stool job descriptions, no encryption
needed here, a cold computer room replaced
by garage geeks and microcircuits, mobile
units like pocket watches, no more drawing
except by click and snap from menu bars.
The discipline may still be the same though
the vision may not be in your head. I told
someone I used to do this in ink on mylar.
They looked at me like an alien refugee.
Would you like to see my space ship? I made
it out of pots & pans and cut-out cardboard.
Of course, it only makes twilight stops along
various energy nodes of the wild, wide web.
A dream next door girl found me again just
before she died. Helped write another book
on dream settings for poems, the work mostly
incomplete ideas, childhood flavors, a path
on beaten moss as black as smutty beer.
She modeled her breezes after cotton on her
face, hitting the summer screens with music
and bronze age strings, porch board drums
along with scamper of children on beach air.
How did we bear to say good-bye to that, I
wonder, where's the data file to save it in?
Donít surround me with every memory. Let
those magazines go, their lively wisdom
fades like invisible ink, sun bleached as bone,
the subject only as curious as how we dressed
and where we were, stuck at home dreaming.
A lifetime ago there was jazz up the street and
party mirth you could walk to and pass by,
listening for free, the players impressive and
puffed cheek serious. No one thought they
would die of passionís keystrokes or vibes.
Planes of screen and digital daylight arise to
replace our soda fountain recollection, an
instantly retrievable construct that may or may
not let us settle down, sleep it off, let go our
self importance. The world stage unhitched
its horses and made it into furniture to order
while living rooms replaced that whole scene.
I played jazz downtown, read coffeehouse poems
to Shockoe Slip and flood zone regulars, poets
older than I, the walls hung with oils and acrylics,
sculpture and photos in color or grim black and
white, writing read to match, themes not required.
This much hasnít changed, tall epic tales retold,
the poetry up to beholders, not everyoneís cup
of tea, politics only welcome if it stirs the rebels.
This is where I get off, the reason why I drew my
city as a child, imagined where all this varied
culture came from, how music weaved thru it
like a ribbon of tobacco and wagon wheel ruts.
Fired up like me once upon a time, outspoken,
elongated figures still lurking around corners
with words to get shot for, a city I started from,
left unflinching from, returned unscathed for,
found still loving and embracing. The girl next
door hardly seems changed as I face all her old
demands, that pop-quiz on what we dreamed.