Born January 22, 1946

Born January 22, 1946


Ashes of Auschwitz attended my bris

they stayed quiet and did not speak their names

a scent that I did not yet recognize

dark gray sky cantilevered from the past


I shone the splendor of coming to be

undergirded by the terror of it

conjoint unravelling of joy and doom

never ever to be broken apart


to love is to love, the question that is

its own answer, to live is to live

this fleeting instant, eternity’s crown,

this spark that vanishes free from a name


the wound of hope bleeds and can not be stanched

beyond faulting I mourn and I bless


Fit And Counterfeit

I am my own true fit and counterfeit,

true gold and fool’s gold, their opposition

not surviving this life’s intricacy,

neither driving out each other’s other


What am I to make of myself but ceaseless

forming of unresolvable formlessness,

sometimes shameless in its heated heaving

sometimes weighted with patient blind waiting?


In possessing myself, I dispossess

myself of myself, pass into passing,

leaving behind trinkets that mark a path

beyond my own way of remembrances


“Am I or am I not?” becomes the sea

of “was” or “was not,”,  time’s own shoreless “be”




Slant is how best it goes when it knows not

wither or why it goes, truth or not ruth,

entertainment or catastrophe, yet

slant’s elusive as firmament’s first fire


was there a first photon or were all and awe

then self-entangled, then, as now , caught in

the net of nothing stretched impossibly

to bear being beyond themselves, ah, light


yes light, this light, slant, makes sight and shadow

the worrisome wisdom of our delight,

the fierce fervor of our burgeoning fright

as climate changes, so our climax, too


my self, illusion, to itself is slight

and slant as well, star, lost in its own night

In Brazilian Portuguese

In Brazilian Portuguese the samba

is the sonnet, lovely lazy lively

lilt slipping through shoulders, hips, lips, toes, hands

to be breath and so smooth how time flowers


Before there were any words, Jobim made

sun, sand, sea, saudade, me, and the girl

who was completely sound without need of  flesh,

she of the slightest  stirrings  of our air


No knowing now, ever,  how samba means

outside itself, except it lilts us  let

go grip of grasping selves, dance with shadows

sculpted from blocking light of this, this… life


ah, sway, syncopated, counting deeper

sweeter than any beat,  more…less regular

Litowa Moonlight

Forty years ago in Litowa moonlight
I saw myself a naked ape and laughed…
Fever of unknown origins had held me
four days in its sweaty embrace and loosed

my bowels innumerable times so
I staggered from the hut in search of wide
green leaves and staggered weakly back again –
this night as I returned I saw outline

of my dim shadow in African dust,
recognized the naked fellow alive
at the pleasure of chance as my own self
and began to laugh under the full moon

alone near the border with Mozambique
and how I laughed under that huge moon

In The Time Of Gaza, 2009

Compromised Land

Because promises can’t be relied upon,
I’m trying to trade in the Promised Land
for compromised land –I know glamor’s less
with this kind of earth, but we’re so many…

I will compromise with most anyone
about most anything – even in this
I’m less than absolute, but let us now
negotiate night after night while stars

that can’t hear bitter biting words progress
through the heavens and the constellations
change so we can’t be assured where we are –
let’s argue until the guns and tanks rust

I’m ready to settle compromised land,
let a new vocation find my right hand

We Should Not Seek

We should not seek instruction in cruelty
from our enemies: they have much to teach,
but the greater danger is that our joy
is in what avid learners we can be

How to turn away from such dread pursuit,
how to make peace with needing to make peace,
how to grasp how close glory and gory
live to each other, how to find splendor

in giving up the magnificent hopes
that have let us feel that we might matter –
cruelty and vanity, conspirators
in glistening armor, old, old allies

They urge that what’s slight in us, what’s tender,
slights us, so we must be pride’s defender

New Year’s Eve 2008

I’m having trouble losing myself in
anything at all – books, music, sex, crime,
drugs and dreams are of no use, I remain
some thing slung about my neck, a presence

like an albatross, more faithful even
than my shadow for I stay with me when
there is no light, I hug through all the days
and all the nights, I have nothing to say

There’s nothing rare in this extremity,
I can’t help imagining it’s common
even if most don’t choose to notice it,
how we keep ourselves clinging company

It’s New Year’s Eve and the old show rolls on
I’m found, this that collars me is no con

Let Me Explain What Evolution Shows

Let me explain what evolution shows:
lack of curiosity killed the cat –
the hunter must always keep on hunting,
pry under each rock, never trust, disdain

the obvious, overcome all smugness
with sheer restless energy that’s mental
and physical both; the cat that survives
must endure appearing foolish not just

to others but to himself – let them laugh
all they want, living’s no laughing matter
and when this cat sleeps his dreams do not rest
but sort follies in other dimensions

cat that’s not curious is goner cat
this is exactly the place that we’re at

So Quietly Did Fox Cross Yesterday

So quietly did fox cross yesterday
our path in wet woods, the white dog never
lifted her nose and I thought it was brown
silent apparition from a lost dream

But it so beguiled me, this noiseless fox,
it appeared over and over again,
just one fox become many mind foxes,
soft shades of brown, aristocratic tails.

Unforeseen encounter, intense pleasure,
antidote to the surprise of terror,
fox up on his paws, off on an errand
through fragrant pines in the mid-winter rain.

We’re just as likely to be lost as found
When dream of fox turns up on waking ground

I’m Already Older Than I Can Grasp

I’m already older than I can grasp
and getting older still, breath by breath and
beat by beat, nothing to be done, but go
on going on, try to find melody

In the succession of my own moments,
how they slip away and take me with them,
even as they leave me at once behind
and ahead, dazed and dazzled, old and new

Yes, there’s the riddle, that though I’m older,
I come in each instant alive anew,
fresh and free in my own slight company,
perhaps more frail but unbroken yet

I know my destiny, that not to be
is being’s end, soon, too soon – old story

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