1. Your Sister

I loved your sister in her day,
But we were only friends in school.
Unfortunately, middle age
Did not rescind that rule.

Your sister never breaks a rule.
By reason, not by passion, led,
She guards her thoughts and keeps her cool,
When others lose their head.

Your sister looks so much like you
That it's her image from the past
I see when tuning in to view
Your evening telecast:

Your sister's smile, your sister's grace,
Reflected in the zoom and pan.
You are the woman in the frame,
But all I see is Ann:

We're all just images on tape,
Movies in someone else's head,
But "really real" anyway --
And too much left unsaid.

Gaithersburg, Md

2. First Light
(For Suki)

Astronomers turn on the telescope,
A million-dollar toy, fresh from the box.
The great eye opens, images a star.
"First light" they call the image that it captures.

That image comes to us from far away
And long ago. The past is open to us.
Closed to us the present and the future.

A woman I remember. No one knows
Who she is now, and where she is today.
Her heart was true. That girl was my first light,
And no one else has ever burned so bright.

Gaithersburg, Md
Spring, 1999

3. August

When I was young and full of sense,
I contemplated honor's due,
Acting without recompense
For what I thought was true,
And little heed then gave
To love, and dreams I could not save.

Soon came a time when, growing old,
I played the fool in my despair.
There's no fool's bargain that can hold
When honor's lost beyond repair,
Nor any love redeem
The loss of my lost friend's esteem.

Our sins return to us confront,
As do our graces, sevenfold.
I never told her what I want,
Just what I know:
We should be foolish when we're young,
And wise when we are old.

Rochester, Mn

4. Finger

Some of us just wanted out
And some of us only want in
But a time-clotted memory chokes the whole lot
Like a bone in the throat of the wind.

We don't ask for much to be happy,
The best of us all is still blind.
We just go through life with a poker face
And take a few drinks to unwind.

Few of us care any more
But when we start to do
Then we put out the light, turn the lock on the door –
And lie awake thinking of you.

Rochester, Mn

5. Madness

How hard the snow fell past me, covering
The street's familiar objects till it seemed
They stood like ghosts from some forgotten dream
Of friends betrayed too young, too carelessly.
The old year's sins descend, and hovering
Cry "Liar! Traitor! We shall be appeased!"

It finds no rest. Driven by chill and heat,
An animal is howling at the sky
Loss everlasting, and the memory
Of Lucifer cast down from Paradise.
Come, spectators, you parties to the deed,
And bind my limbs with canvas crossing twice.

Rochester, Mn

6. Fireside: Evening

One day you're old. I see you by the fire,
Content, now that the day's few chores are done,
To think of nothing in particular
But how you rode when horse, and you, were young:
Those good hard rides upon your russet mare
Pounding your worries to oblivion.

A book or two, his only legacy,
Cast memories of your husband's dim desire,
His curious science, and the mockery
You never saw through. As you chose, you are,
Until this quiet moment when a dream
Dissolves like all the years beyond repair.

Before the pale horse comes, a season yet
To think of me with wonder, and regret.

Rochester, Mn

7. Coeur de Reine

He will court you with flowers,
That man, your first lover,
Smiling words and scented candles
And will promise the sky
And the sea for your dreams

You are opening, not yet a woman,
To the sunshine of your new spring.
How he flies to taste your sweetness
And the gifts that you bring
Which are fairer by far
Than his roses and orchids
Which he places before you grandly
As if he was the king

Who at first appears so humble
Till he comes at last to conquer
And he presses you with his body
And has nothing more to offer
Nor will he have ever,
Honeyed phrases best forgotten
When he's up off his knees

Fare you well, I'll not betray you,
Let some other. You shame my wisdom,
You believe that your beauty conquers,
And imagine a holy nation
Of young men at your feet -
Oh mon vrai innocent,
With the heart of a queen!

Cambridge, England

8. Wind

A "gentle man" (and quite naive),
Too shy to love, too proud to sin -
I hid my feelings
Deep within
The circle of the whispering wind.

And while I slept my life away
Of golden seas and worlds to win
(That scholar's dream!)
My golden days
Scattered like sunbeams on the wind.

Call it Camelot, call it a whim,
Call it whatever - conscience and sense
Both grown too thin
To recompense
Those years of shelter from the wind.

I think of us, and I begin
To cry. You "didn't feel like writing."
Words of kindness
Never said
A ghostly echo on the wind.

In the quiet evening, passion dims
And flares. An unrequited life
Of broken friendships
Lips that would kiss
And answers blowing in the wind.

Rochester, Mn

9. Artichokes And Onions

I gave myself a present for your birthday
A song by Joan Baez, a different view,
A silver lake; and all along the highway

The sun reflected images of you.
My life is mine - I tremble in the wind
And quicken with its whisper of the new -

How long. From the back pages of our lives
We peel off memories in shades of blue
And never use them up. Some memories are true.

Questions and doubts that drove me half insane -
Ah, let them be. I'm me, and you are you.

Rochester, Mn

10. Old Things

"Growing older, I descended November" - Marilyn Hacker

How are you, my old friend -
I read[*] the runes in clay
We gathered from the river.

The sun shines bright.
Jomon and Yayoi,
Hopewell today,

Ten thousand years of doubtful weather.
How long, I cry -
The wind replies, forever.

Gaithersburg, Md
[*]past tense

11. Insomnia

Objects acquire significance -
Typewriter, coffeecup, tabletop -
In the isolation that is to be expected
Of offices after midnight.
Failing the usage of the familiar
The thing-in-itself is made manifest.

In the hour of No-Dawn
We connect nothing with nothing,
And the numerals of our clocks
Are the whisperings of aphasia.
Each artifact rejects
The hand that made it, becomes wholly other.

Mind slips over surfaces,
Shrinks from the knife-edge of vision,
Reaches out, is thrown spinning
By the Judo of objects;
Already defeated, returns,
It glides, it falls again.

Gaithersburg, Md

12. Sing Song

O you be my memory
And I'll be your computer.
Request access, I will grant it freely
When undisturbed by peripherals.

If I issue commands, please remember
They live only in you
I execute your instructions
You contain my program.

I communicate with *
Through my sensors and effectors
Which make me fill you up with words
That you find incomprehensible.

It is not your function to understand
Nor is it mine / I only process
What * has stored inside you
In you is my data.

Gaithersburg, Md

13. The Beggar


You know me:
Tattered coat
Two broken shoes

My body revolves
Perpetually seeking

My nicotined hands
Flutter spasmodic
In the corner of your eye as you


You might give me a chance
Or a couple of dollars
For the knees on my pants
Or the points on my collars

O remove me far hence
From your wives and from your daughters.


Let your shadow entwine
Turn around turn around
With that shadow of mine
Turn around turn around

Hang your coat hang your head
O I'd rather be dead
Let our shadows entwine
Turn around turn around


Once, I shouted by lamplight
My love to the alleys
And hope to the neon-haloed
Derelicts in doorways

But the old men speak softly
For theirs is the city


I am the face you will not look at, shaving
I dance unbroken in your silvered mirror
I am the face you will not look at, shaving

You know me:
Hoping for nothing.
Standing. Waiting.

Cambridge, England

14. Fugue

He turns
In desolation,
Scorpion-breeding sidewalk
Under foot,

Breaks, sees
Death in the alley,
Passes invisible through
A cave of

Ice, till
The stoplight reels him
In like a fish; he thinks of
The sea, weeps,

It is dark,
In the lock the keys
Tremble, the tumblers click one
By one.

Cambridge, England

15. The Corner

I remember a time
When flowers really mattered
When the sky was all we needed
When these candlestick limbs
Danced for the joy of love.

I remember the felt and the ivory
And our mattress of leaves under the willow,
Class of '69, by the old pond,
By the mill
By the garden.

And I remember the laughter
Filling love's corners
And echoed by washroom tiles
Late Saturday night.
I remember the laughter.

How was it? Later, I did well
But there were betrayals. At last,
Even my body. Have I endured
So long for this, for a
Walk-signal? And the pain,

The God-damned pain,
Washes me like a river.
What is the point
Of being old, and alone,
And dying on a corner?

Cambridge, England

16. Dawn

Rust clings and peels
Comfortless together we
Move making it

Quis custodiet ipsos
Set lips belly thighs
O Dawn bloody-fingered

Malease with Apollo comes, eyes
Avert, each feeding on the other's
Fear, the bedposts binding

Ship to desert groan
Like sun-split rock
Weeping dust while

The faded habituations of brutality
Dessicate the morning
In our fingertips.

Stanford, CA

17. Physics

"Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in Night;
God said, 'Let Newton be!' - and all was Light." -- Pope

Nature and Nature's laws, a sorry Sight;
God said, "Let Gunther sleep!" - and all was Night.

Cambridge, England

18. Good Friday

Deep heaven, weep softly
They know not

Their bridges forgive them,
The guard-rails

The throbbing, the plain-song
Of asphalt

The keening of rubber,
The dead

Cambridge, England


Of generation,
Of heat, of the carbon
Cycle, of life, of death
Sings the sun

Who first from the fields
Of earth in the summer
Ripens grain golden
Meat for the mouths of man

Then feared in forest
Strikes fire all-consuming
Trees topple, tall homes
Of the forest-dwellers

Till at last over
Ocean he moves, drawing
Moisture to air, then
To land rain releases.

Men shall make love and
Laugh lightly at fortune
While bright burns the Sun
In cycle unceasing:

Runs crack! to the dawn
The sea, bearing micro-
Plankton, food for men
And all fishes, wine-dark.

Cambridge, England

20. Our True Faith
-- an Irish folk legend

Saint Peter, sitting on a stone,
Our Saviour passing by alone.
What is the matter, Jesus chide:
"Oh Lord, a toothache!" Peter cried.

"Stand up, Peter, and follow me,
And keep my words in memory:
Your tooth enamel is my pride,
It's for your silly teeth I died."

Gaithersburg, Md

21. Sonnet V

Not this, nor any other rhyme could free
Those images of you that haunt my mind
In verses recreating memory
Of sun-splashed water, rescued from the time
When we were still what we had hoped to be.

Like driftwood cast upon the summer sea
You could not help what mattered in your life,
Your special hopes and dreams; no more could I,
Though treated by you all too carelessly

That day we walked beneath the silver trees.
And with each step something within me died,
Speaking of your, and his, priorities.
You were so angry that you never cried
For love and friendship shed so bitterly.

Rochester, Mn
June 24, 1981

22. The Park

The park is always this one:
I remember the park of my youth,
A great big one with plenty of trees and softball
Diamonds in the middle of the town,

And in winter, an ice rink
Where you skated full tilt into the snowbank
If you couldn't stop.

We played catch with raw eggs in the summer -
Who cares if you got all gooey -
And we did it in the spring.

But the best thing is that they never
Turned it into a parking lot.
It's still there.

Rochester, Mn
June 30, 1981

23. Angel

Along hard streets, until before her gate
The sidewalk-staining circle of a lamp
Announces pleasure, if you have the price.
You walk inside, and almost hesitate -
So bare the room, so little does she ask -
And she herself - a gentle winning smile,
Young and attractive, something out of place,
A girl not dull, but limited, in mind,
Just getting on by doing what she can;
And she was decent, simple, and I paid.
I say that she deserves a better life -
Among us wolves she hasn't got a chance,
But maybe she'll get clear from all the blur,
Maybe some other knight will rescue her.

New York City
October, 1978

24. Morning

These mornings you look your age,
Which is 30. Lines scribble
Across your face. The harsh light
Shadows stubbled hills, clay
Moulded to flesh, as seen
By a stranger. Footsteps
Echo thus when an owner
Bids farewell to his vacant
House. Nothing can be replaced,
But your eyes blink anyway -
These mornings, who could know you?
So you shower, rinse, and shave
And you gather deception
Enough for another day.

Rochester, Mn
December 30, 1978

25. It's Only You

There is a place of silver trees
We left our footprints on the beach
It was not him, it was not me
It's only you
It's only you

Canadian geese take wing and fly
Homegoing pilgrims of the sky
I wonder what they see, and why
It's only you
It's only you

My heart was ever in your hand
Not mine the feeling to command
There's nothing more to understand
It's only you
It's only you

Some arrows never find their mark
Some people live their lives apart
When I was small, I feared the dark
It's only you
It's only you

Rochester, Mn
February, 1978

26. Galadriel

Have you seen her standing there
Eyes of Green, and golden hair
None on mid-earth look so fair
Who time's awesome burden bear

Speak to fair Galadriel
Look inside her wishing-well
Elbereth Gilthoniel!
Lost in love beneath the spell

Forests time cannot erase,
Held by her unfailing grace
Evil things have here no place
Can you meet her face to face?

Mallorn trees forever gold
Beckon lord and princeling bold
Legends that were sung of old
To eyes living now unfold

Sing the Silmaril of Light,
Beams to brighten darkest night;
Praise the Lady's gift of sight
Mead to mortals in their plight.


Indiana University

27. Moon-Shit Blues

As I write this tune
Man is on the surface of the Moon
But watch out, the Communists
Will get there soon

I hear they're already dumpin'
Garbage up there
So what if it's the moon
They don't care

They stick it in
Isolated plasticated insulated paper bags
What a drag

If ya gotta go, way up there,
Just find yerself a crater - have no care,
Just squat right down,
Take a look around

Or else a camera might spot you
And the Communists'll see what you do
(Those dirty rotten Communusts
They don't even shit like us)
Just do what ya must &
Watch out for moon dust
Up your ass
& Watch out for gas
Or you'll be the world's first jet-propelled
M--o--o--n shitter.

Then pick up your litter &
Stick it in a plasticated insulated paper bag
& don't look back
'Cause there might be a Communist a-followin' you
& if he saw he might try it too
& what if there were more of them than you
& their product filled up a bigger crater
- Those dirty rotten Free Shit haters -
& then the President'd have an attack
'Cause we got a shit gap.

But don't worry we'll be back again
& for every pound of Russian shit we'll shit ten
& Soon the Moon'll be knee-deep in shit,
Just like the Earth
(For what that's worth)
& we'll export our offal to Outer Space
In the Great Shit Race

But you better look out
There's some mighty big critters out
There in space & if they get a rocket
Full of shit in their face
They might just decide they've
Had enough & it's mighty tough
To aim your bowels and score a hit
If you're buried 9 miles deep in Cosmic Shit!

By the time we dig out again
The moon'll be filled with little green men
& when we shit up there again, you see,
Moon Men think it's a delicacy
We'll have to rush home as fast as can be
Splash down in the sea and pay the parking meter
& tell the President about the Moon-shit eaters
But it won't be quick enough 'cause they'll all teleport down
& when they find so many shitting people around
They'll cage us & keep us fat & fit,
& feed us & breed us for our shit
& that'll be the end of it
No more Communists or Democracy
'Cause we'll all be slaves & shit for free.

Now about this story - the moral of it all,
If you see a green man suckin' shit through a straw
You'd better call the United States Army
If you don't wanna become a Shit Factory!

Indiana University

28. Orion II

And then
You said
We'd be better
In bed,

Thinking never
Orion his bowstring forever
Must bend to the Bear;

In our Tantalus river
We'll never
The rapture
Till time shakes the pattern
Of stars that he scatters
On midwinter air.

So raise your thighs beneath the sheets,
Your dream's flying past;
And if we skid on the polygraph -

Well, kid,
We hadda

Cambridge, England

29. Der Schlafer
(for Roger Wyrick)

You ask me why I sleep,
When all around me hearts awake to morning.
Don't I know
That only early risers win,
That in the race the most behind is taken?
Up, Up, Awake! Behind me follows Satan!
Old friend, let me dream on;
Win for yourself the laurel crown of glory,
For I must stay behind - oh do not mind,
It may be even Satan cannot find
A soul he's long since overtaken!
But friend, you say, what of our knowledge?
For Episteme is our highest end,
And we should therefore wend
Our way to her, and cast off idle sloth!
Well, my old friend, this too may yet be so,
So off you go, and learning match with wisdom;
You may
Yet see me in the class some day; but for the present,
Tuck me in, and pull the blanket closer:
Ich schlafe nicht
Wenn der Lehrer interresant ist.

Cambridge, England

30. Carol

Two stems in her vase, bearing blossoms -
Not like anything, only blossoms -
And yes, they are white, for that is her color,
And though she be to love no stranger,
Yet she shall marry dressed in white -
Not like anything, only white.

And on her wall is a picture -
Make no inference, only a picture -
That looks like a pond when seen from afar
(She'll show you the meaning if only you ask her)
And also there put is a garden shrine,
As simple and pure as the heart of a child.

But if I could show you her face -
Then you must imagine such a face
As belongs to no painted nymph or Madonna,
The face of a girl in the heat of her summer,
Her Sindarin laughter: the face of a girl
Not flawed, but transfigured, by life in the world.

Let's go on a picnic together -
No, nothing intended, just being together -
Beneath the white blossoms that border the river,
Cold duck and champagne, and a kiss to come after.
The sun on the river, and you, and I;
Life's not like anything, only life.

She shows you no one but herself -
She's not like anyone, only herself -
And this her song must stand naked forever,
Since metaphor has not the worth to describe her:
She's only herself, and has nothing to prove;
She's not like anything - only Love.

Cambridge, England

31. Nautae

No beggars, these.
Beyond even that, or merely mute perhaps,
Unless their eyes, distracted, move to pity
Mary Jesus' mother,
Friend to the drowning sailor
Sinking for the last time in the wine-dark gutter.

Lotus bathes some on distant shores,
And others, distracted by Sireens, splinter
At the feet of whores.
Ay, there be harbors here enow -
Some call them bars.

Old Bluebeard sails the seas no more;
His Pirate Jenny by his side,
He dreams of ancient treasure-store
And other salty lore; be kind,
Be kind to them, you ancient comrades,
Sea and wind.

The light-house lamps are lit at half-past nine,
Unless a sea-gull smash them out,
Unless their hoary keeper die.
Sail into port, and laugh, and cry;
The barmaid and the serving-lout
Ask how it is to put to sea -

But you, who've been there all your life,
Come see a show; there's light within,
Slip in, and lay your battered coat beside you;
Storm-ravaged faces
Find refuge in ancient movie-houses,
And drown in their chairs like the waves on the sea.

Cambridge, England

32. Poesy I

My love is a double feminine rhyme,
So musically metric.

I can't always make her but usually I try;
She's Classic
So fondly fantastic.

But now my love weeps with a tear in her eye:
She's cuddled
And huddled
And gets herself muddled.

Please, dear, don't think me too ungrateful;
The fondest of lovers must sometimes prove unfaithful.

Cambridge, England

33. Poesy II

Eighty degrees at eight o'clock.
The crier of the town cried, Stop!
My morbidly metrical verse
Is running the gamut from bad to worse;
My magical mind
Gets stranger to find,
And each little dithyramb hurts.

Cambridge, England

34. Maundy Thursday

Will go out,
Out past the concrete
Pylons, past the mad sentries;
I will go way out past the barbed eyes and tongues,
Out way far past the black steel rows of the mad sentries,
And I will leave far behind the empty cunning glass,
The dangerous glass that traps you in its vacuum,
The vacuum that lurks behind
the glass steel-rimmed eyes
Of all the

Will pass through
Tempted by blood-vein
Highways, under the gun-grey
Sky; I will pass beneath the cyclops lanterns,
The lamps that wash with yellow death this crooked passage,
Tinting jaundiced capillary walls of smoke and stone;
Lamps spinning light to trap you in their halo,
There where the death-cars speeding
Stop to swallow you
Like a germ.

Will return!
Back past the sleeping
Sentries, those who crouch beneath
The dark gates, there where bread-crusts float on water
Rushing like wine through the gutter; where are the faithful
Watchers, those who will share communion in this fateful
Hour? Naked concrete this shall not prevent,
Nor barbed-wire crosses: I will
Come, and walls run red
With blood, my

Cambridge, England

35. Eurydice

Eurydice! All Orpheus' devotion
Could not recall you from the Silent Land;
His voice could still the churning Styx's motion,
And Cerberus relents at his command.
How is it then he could not grasp and hold you,
Though Hell itself consented that you go?
Come! Once more let his magic song enfold you,
As round the silent shades his stanzas flow --
What can you lack? What other sense is needed,
What more -- what taste or feeling, smell or sight?
But at his Look Hell's compact must be heeded:
Lapse from your love, return to endless night.
He cannot grasp your airy form receded,
Though Love himself the case has interceded.

Indiana University

36. Happiness

Well, happiness is just a state of mind,
Thought Sillitoe, and paused to fill his Pipe;
My streets are crooked, crippled, lame and blind,
And happiness is just a state of mind.

He searched for happiness inside a book,
Where phrases writ in fire might do him good;
But in a thousand pages, all he finds
Is "happiness is just a state of mind."

So, happiness is just a state of mind,
Thought Sillitoe, and paused to stop his Pipe,
Searching for love wherever he might find;
For happiness is just a state of mind.

Cambridge, England

37. For What It's Worth

Swim in the Sea of Illusion
Negate the gravity
Timeless Reality
Apsara [passion]
Sangsara [illusion]

Let none cry "meaning"
Where thrusts the rose
Hold fast to the seeing
Dayadhvam [compassion]
Yama [death]

Petals unfold
Of life
Time holds
Manovijnana [mind]
Karma [fate]

Alethea doxa: [good teaching]
Who takes up the veil
Can lay down at will:
Dhyana [meditation]
Nirvana [enlightenment]

Cambridge, England

38. Saint Thomas

I. Wheels Of Fire

If your memory serves you well
We shall meet again some day,
When all grim Odin's sons ride forth
To strike and burn and slay.
That day is coming soon, my son,
Take heed you mark it well:
The moon will shine in blood upon
The lowest depths of Hell.

If your memory serves you well
I'll lay your mind to waste
And tie it up in a sailor's knot
Which I fashion from my face.
For each and every one of you
Has such a tale to tell
That I know that we shall meet again
In the lowest depths of Hell.

II. The Sorrowful Castle

Aquinas, greatest of logicians,
Knew at last the doom of creeping age;
For seven days his fever raged
Until the end foreseen by his physicians:
His body grown
Too frail to keep its spirit home;
His mind
A sack of bones and tatters thrown
Upon the wind.

If she named
The Grovenor Hotel
Victoria Station
Then she must have come by train.
If, despite her reservation,
She's not found at this location
Then she must have missed her train.
Hence we'll wait
For later trains -
A perfect chain
Of reason led to sure conclusion.
Yet we know
All too well
How life can blast our logic to confusion -
Heaven and Hell.

So time and tide eventually
Find Thomas' mind a Castle Keep
Founded on the Lake of Recollection.
Proud towers rise
Grey skies
Rent by sunbeams dancing on the mirror.
The forces of time
Assail the fortress:
Skies close,
The castle's stones
Are bathed in black;
The mirror cracks
Waters deep
Widen the crevices of the Keep
The black stones swell
The towers crack
The ruin drowns
In Hell.

III. The Sorrowful Castle, Part II

Step inside
Aquinas' mind.
Step soft, lest you disturb
The veiled cobwebs as they lie in wait,
The patient cobwebs silent as they grow
Filling crevices with cotton candy,
Color of dirty snow.

... Creeping deeper, deep they creep
Through the crevices of the Keep,
Meeting no resistance in the hollow spaces,
Places devoid of light and name,
Peopled only by empty faces.

Hush - here! Look!
Here are the faces of boyhood, here
The exorcised daemons of Hope and Fear,
The voiceless gabble of childish games and prattle,
Tasteless memory of orange and apple,
Transparent image of childhood toys;
And there, for older boys,
Lie naked limbs and scent of musk,
Unsmelt, unfelt; once rampant where,
Now, are only cobwebs spun
Like silken greying hair.

"And the last state
Was worse
Than the first."

-- Did Jeezus say that?

IV. Chorus Of Schoolboys
(A Tic of Tourette's Clock)

Every day we go to school
Where we learn the Golden Rule;
All the teachers there say "skoal!"
When we shit into their bowl.

When the Master drops his cup,
I will run to pick it up.
But before I give it back,
I shall rub it in my crack:
Then he'll taste a new delight,
Which I call my "Shitlichkeit:"

Oral-Anal children, we
Love each others' buns to see
But the biggest thrill we get
Is to strip the Teacher's Pet
And to beat him two by two
Till his butt is black and blue.

Or when teacher whips a child,
Then we go completely wild;
For he pulls his undies down,
Makes him bend and squirm around,
And he beats his ass with reeds
Till the buttocks start to bleed.

If we're bad we do not care,
We just want to see what's there
All the children love to fight,
Whip and beat and hurt and bite.

Then it's Bible Lesson time:
Teacher tells in pantomime
How they hurt our Jesus so,
Whipped and beat him long ago,
Took off all the clothes he'd got,
Nailed him to the cross to rot.

V. The Sorrowful Castle, Part III

Follow Aquinas' final thought:
Begin with "A is A,"
And other letters; freely use
The Inference; by sure and steadfast rules
Proceed along the Via Negativa.

Then to banish all confusion,
You will reach a safe Conclusion
By judicious Definition:
There - you've Platonized a prophet's vision!

- Oh, do not bother about the need for revision,
For time is getting short -
But is my third line right?
In my third line
Did I define
Time quite right?

- But time is getting short -

So let me search my memory,
Quite quickly,
(For time is getting short)
My memory
For time is getting

"Time it was, and what a time it was,
A time of innocence
A time of confidences"
For time is...
"Memento aequam
Arduis in rebus servare mentem"


VI. Murder by Moonlight

The moonlight paints a black and silver scene,
The silver moonlight streaming through the glass
To fragment
On figures
Arranged as in a dream:
There on the right, half-shadowed, lies our Queen;
To leeward kneels a Knight in armored sheen;
A chess set in between.

She said: "It's still the same."
The first move of the game.

Bishop, Bishop
"Mercy sh'd be tempered w/justice," & "Kings
Not absolved fr'm the law"
Tutor to the Dauphin

Toulouse, in Toulouse de Brienne
And later, as Controleur
GeNeRaL, w/titles: "...head...Council...Finance..." etc.
Taking. The dead and the taking.
The taken. The game.

She said, "be strange but not too strange"
- While his hands wept, and mind and voice
Ranged on through sundry places:
Lushburne Flanders Lorraine
The ranks of the broken dead
Alemaine Lombardy Tuscany
Tuscany Lombardy Lushburne Flanders
Lorraine Alemaine. The death. The silence.
The ranks of the broken.

"Hm - looks bad. How'd ja come by it?"
"I came by Bishop's Gate, where Thames runs red with blood."
"Hm - looks bad. Take a gallon of holy water
'Ter fix this one."

When the Knight's in retreat
And his Bishop's bespoken,
The Castle's in Pawn
And the King is forsaken -
Then oh then the Queen is taken.

But absolution only for the saved, he thought
Warily creeping through corridors, passageways,
Staircases, gates, windows, portcullis - burrowing
Steadily deeper, penetrating wormlike
The heart of the Castle, the Throne,
Its soul, its life,
His own liege Lord, the King.
"Monarch absolute... his person... holy, inviolable"
Etc. And do you think
His dagger did not tremble?
But - "character is fate"

VII. Wheels of Fire, Part II

If your memory serves you well
That time is coming soon
When seas of blood shall wash the face
Of stars and sun and moon.
The heavens shall in sheets of flame
Destroy this citadel;
Such ruin Satan shall proclaim
From the lowest depths of Hell.

If your memory serves you well
Your life is ill at ease,
Your mind inflamed, your soul destroyed,
Your conscience on its knees.
The iron bell - it tolls for you,
Time does its work so well -
For time is long and comforts few
In the lowest depths of Hell.

VIII. Envoi

O reader! Not I, but time does condemn
Our lives of hollow and posturing emptiness,
Vanished like tears in the face of the sun!
As the memories disappear, one by one,
Of the arms that embraced, and the lips that sweetly blessed,
How dimly I hear those bells of silver and gold
That sang in Lothlorien, before the world grew old!

IX. Hymn to Elbereth

A Elbereth, Gilthoniel!
O menel palan-diriel,
Le nallon si din guruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!

O Elbereth who lit the stars,
From Heaven gazing out afar,
From the Valley of Death to Thee I cry:
O look to me, Forever White!

Cambridge, England

39. Genji
(for Geri)

Cat-like on the couch she stretches forth her paws,
A shiver running up and down her spine;
She combs her hair with lacquered claws,
Arches her back, and rests supine.

With direct eyes he penetrates her glance
And finds himself reflected in a mirror:
Seeing in this one circumstance
Her love and loneliness, hope and fear.

Retracted claws now clasp another drink;
Her other hand extends to refill his;
The moment's mood is broken with a blink
And drowns in soda water fizz.

The Eastern climax differs then from ours,
As he and she go out to sound the stars.

Bloomington, Indiana

40. In Medias Aetas

When I was a young man
Wondering who I am
So many things to know
So many ways to grow

I loved the things of art
Light shining in the dark
Canvas of bright parade
Things that we could have made

Music was our delight
Poems we would recite
Science within our hand
Logic at our command

Then I began to turn
Folly within me burned
Too many things to know
Too many ways to grow

And so I lost my way
Taking a holiday
From what I know was true
From what I had to do

Now I'm an older man
And know just who I am
Remembering that spark
Still singing in the dark.


Gaithersburg, Md
August 3, 2001

41. Airport
(for T. C. M. and B.)

Oceans of water, earth and sky;
Reefs of cloud dream on forever,
Interlaced veils of wind and weather.
He stands on the runway, unmanned by a sigh;
She ponders the tides, free and alone,
Drifting by cloudlight into the unknown.

Bloomington, Indiana

42. For Susan
(To Suzie White)

I dialed her number in a trembling way.
As fate decided, no one was at home,
And I left off, as I'd begun, alone.
If she had answered, t'would have made my day,
But goodness knows, what could I ever say
To speak impressively to that fair one?
I'd stammering ask; refused, receiver hung
And head, I'd sadly silent steal away.

Valparaiso, Indiana

43. Reflections From A Pool
(For Nancy Thompson)

When God bid Moses part the ocean,
Foreknowing well the pass of Pharaoh's train
Into the Silent Land -
When in the hell of hot pursuit
Slaves nipped the heels of the free
Till Mercy quenched the groaning in her waters -
Was it in vain, all Pharaoh's troops' devotion
When, trusting Him (though by a different name),
They followed hard in Moses' wake?
Or, when the sea-floor began to quake,
Faith fled the silent booming wave as
The sea received its own -
Could they have known?

Here stand we by the shore of this surrogate ocean
As, failing words, you flee the onrush of my thoughts
To refuge through the chlorinated water.
And I feel that today,
When outstripping me you bend
Your gaze, permitted freedom, on the far shore,
Our God in love will send
Obliviant waves piled deep upon me, ending
Slavery with delusion's death.

So let us part the soundless sea,
If not in love - yet not in enmity.

Indiana University, 1965

44. Alone

Perhaps she saw me,
Maybe not; it doesn't matter.
Being is
Ta eis heauton
The phantoms of the zero mind are lost,
Away they whisper into nothingness.

The wall is real: the wall divides us,
Mortar, brick, and tile between us
Wholly disjoint in the dining hall.

Subjective Form - who cares?
Perhaps is dead, the Will
A rotting corpse; and Would and Could
Are skinless drums reverberating through the void
The silent shout
Of one hand clapping.

Indiana University, 1966

45. Orion Nebula
(For Janet)

Hail, Jan: forsitan
One shall arise
To purge the hyssop from my eyes
That I may see you as you truly are.
But now I see
Galactic reefs to rend the soul obscuring
The luminescence of a fading star
Whose rays serenely pass. I long in vain
The present beacon ever more to see,
And have no life except in memory.

Indiana University, 1966

46. Mad Tom

Let us go then, you and I -
Wait, that's been done -
Even Old Possum can't untie
Five hundred years, or just this one.
At best, we add another shadow to the light.

We are but dreams and shadows, you and I;
As shadows let our hands unite
On Bleeker Street.
Let us go then, you and I
Not I, no yes, yes no.
Omoi, peplegmai plegen eso.

Gaithersburg, Maryland, 2000 (verse 1)
Indiana University, 1966 (verse 2)

47. Smoke
(For Lynne Cote)

Rise, a curling misty vision,
Rise, tobacco pipe smoke,
Rise, not half so strange as I
Who from the grave arise.

Listen, said the worms: mark well our rustle.
Is love your life? Then Love shall be our food,
The font of love transmuted to our blood.
For while you merge with air above,
We tunnel love.

And this tobacco pipe smoke,
No less than mist and night fog,
Incense weaving towards a cosmic joke:
The time is April whirling into June,
The mist obscures a starry mystic rune
As John Cage pipes the mad electric tune.

Indiana University, 1967

48. The Morning After
(For Geri Bard and Joeen Ignelsi)

My darlings, who defied with me
Sir Newton's law of gravity,
And brought the world to such impasse
As find me sprawling on my ass -
I watched you climb right up the wall,
But can't remember much at all,
So just this once I'd ask of you -
My darling dears, what did we do?

Indiana University, 1968

49. Venus Ridens
(For Cathy Greiner)


I saw Venus rise from her fountain and laugh
As the dolphins round her nude limbs rudely playing
In bronze formed a living paragraph
To the moonlit comma droplets softly spraying.
O Lord, I have sinned; I have sinned.
How shall I sing my infantile transgression?
To whom or what should I now make confession?


Born is the infant to hunger and cold;
The sinner is swaddled in blankets of snow;
Grim Odin's red eye
Serves notice of sin
Like the dim sun through the thunderhead thinly peeping:
Born is the infant to curses and weeping.

Mid fountains of ice
Cascading through air
Fell Freya arises
With snakes in her hair
As shaking them there
She raises her evil on high
While giants and frost-daemons curl round her thigh.


So on we strolled
Searching for seashells by the Adriatic shore
As I began to admire her more and more.
With murder in our hearts for the judge
I watched her kick fountains of sand to her knee
Beside the breakers rolling white and free.
And she: "Come, dance with me;
The tide's throbbing
And the earth's revolving
Is the susurration of my salt-sea blood."
But though I know that this was very good,
My frozen limbs just could not move -
Even for love.


O Venus, Mater Italiana,
Goddess of love and fountains, hear:
Teach us to hope, and not to hope;
Like oceans let your healing flow,
And over all these wastelands let
Your blessing lie.

Without your loveliness we are lost
To the giants and daemons of dark and frost.

Indiana University, 1969

50. Sergina Oliver

Hey won't ya tell me your name
Hey won't ya tell me your name
I'd be so glad I'd turn around and tell you the same
And I'd tell you everything about all the cumquats that came
Hey won't ya tell me your name

If you look into my eyes
If you look into my eyes
You won't see any excuses or alibis
But if you look close enough you just might see a surprise
If you look into my eyes

Though my bed just sleeps one
Though my bed just sleeps one
If you would just crawl into it I know we'd have fun
When you are all into it I know you're the one
Though my bed just sleeps one

Won't ya please give me your hand
Won't ya please give me your hand
We're gonna get married, run away, join a rock & roll band
I feel so harried every day, but I know we'll be grand
Won't ya please give me your hand

When the children are raised and gone
When the children are raised and gone
We'll go out West together and sing our last song
Through all the stormy weather I'm glad you were along
When the children are raised and gone

Just bury me beside my Jill
Just bury me beside my Jill
Then let that desert wind blow ever so chill
And let all those desert worms know me as they will
Just bury me beside my Jill

Indiana University, 1969
Chords by Bowers: D-A-D (repeat) D-C-G-D (repeat) D-A-D

51. My Luggage

(to the tune of: "My Bonnie")

My luggage flew over the ocean,
My luggage flew over the sea;
When last seen 'twas in Nova Scotia;
Oh, bring back my luggage to me.

My luggage flew out on Lufthansa,
They handled it so carefully,
That they knew just where they had lost it -
Oh, bring back my luggage to me.

The last time I flew to Bahamas,
My bags never caught up with me.
A beachcomber needs his pajamas,
Oh, bring back my luggage to me.

The Germans will never just toss it,
They track it so efficiently
That they know just where they have lost it -
Oh, bring back my luggage to me.

Washington, DC

52. Words
(From "Factory of Faces")

Words in our beginning were,
Every man a thinking creature.
Serpent first to Eve appeared,
Whispered words of other nature.
All the earth God's anger heard:
In the beginning was the Word.

We by words united were,
Babel's walls to Heaven reaching.
God destroyed the work in fear,
Brought to ruin mankind's speaking.
In confusion, language blurred:
God had broken mankind's word.

Now once again the Word shall rise
From lips of stone our heart awaking
Shall, in rapture undisguised,
Pour forth a Speech the heaven shaking.
Now has the joy within us stirred,
Now is the Spirit and the Word!

Cambridge, England, 1970

53. One Two
(from "Factory of Faces")

What is it then that makes you feel so near
And close to me, my inmost thoughts untying?
When morning breaks upon me you are there,
Within the circle of my sunrise lying.
Like winged falcons on the sunbeams flying,
We two together cleave the air, undying.

Why is it then I feel that you are here,
When shadows come and dark falls soft around us?
Wherever I am, you are also there -
We breathe together where the night has found us.
For insubstantial shades cannot confound us,
Since both our dreams with love and hope surround us.

Cambridge, England, 1970

54. The Dance

A simple six-note melody
At intervals of six and five,
We danced our circle on the green
Under a paling azure sky.

Skip-one, skip-two, and step and glide,
Go hand in hand the circle round
Faster and faster till we fly
On feet that barely touch the ground,

And all the laughing hands untie
The circle, flee to every side;
In smaller circles then combine,
For every partner here is fair,

With garments fit unto the dance;
Weaving our pleasures light as air,
Our partners pass from hand to hand
Until the circles reunite.

O fleeting touch - be swift, be swift,
No time to think, or scheme, or plan
Before the dancers melt like mist,
And pass you by without a glance.

Rochester, Minnesota
July 19, 1981

55. The Lonely Hand

The lonely hand claps on -
Infinity within the pond,
And in your eyes;
Mid starless skies,
And wistful gravel crunching underfoot,
I come to beg; the Parcae say "Perhaps,"
And Buddha smiles upon my ignorance.

The little fish are swimming to and fro
Reminding me how much I do not know.

Come down with me:
We'll build our dreams upon the sea
And hear the tides returning them again.
From conversation's end,
Out past the boundaries of Now and Then,
The Infinite calls her errant children home

While little fishies swimming round again
Remind me to forget what I intend.

Beyond your Look -
The cryptic Word of some unwritten Book -
It's trivial to Be, or not to Be.
My fish don't care, nor does the Galaxy.
The Universe gives not a damn for our conceits:
Down smiling streets
The lonely hand claps on.


56. So You Want To Write A Book

Write about a man who could not fuck
Write about the woman that he loved
Write about anything that you please,
As long as it's not about you and me.

Don't say our life was hard; our fathers' friends
Lie silent in their graves at Normandy.
That death was hard; our fathers watched them die,
And then came back, and fathered you, and me.

So we grew up, intelligent and blest,
Two little houses up in the midwest;
Cooling our heels through high school
And blowing off the rest.

I wish you could remember when we met;
I know that I do, every smile and word,
But you and Steve got married, and you left,
But spoke of me from time to time, I heard.

Like you I ask, at 55, what good it was
To be so handsome, or so beautiful,
That passing men adored us as they passed,
And passing women smiled their promises;

God knows that we were smart enough, and rich
Enough, and loved enough. I almost hated you,
But then I thought of Shakespeare and I.U.,
Mozart and mathematics, and I cried:

I don't know what you think of me, or if you do;
I need to see your face before I die.

Gaithersburg, MD
August 2003