July 31, 2015
Standards of Uncertainty
Please don’t love who I say I am,
nor parts of me I enjoy the most—
but love the parts of me that last,
the progressions which save me.
No less than oxygen’s air,
no less than carbon’s earth
do these principles save us
from harm’s misspoken words.
If I forget you, I forget my hands—
if I forget me, I forget touch itself
so I do remember to remember.
No joy lives in fire when the eye
of my Hestia lights my shadows
like rain stops fires, but not its pain.
I hold your hand for mere seconds
which leads to a painful pleasure
in the shadows of one goodbye.
(Art by Anne Abrams)
July 15, 2015
Ex Atticus Finch, No Deus
A god in a machine, like Atticus Finch,
lives between chance and the law of karma
as does my coffeehouse server and me, but
no professors rave about our perfections—
no critics compare our rants with Aristotle—
we’re too flawed, we carry rags for spills.
The heroes of prayers themselves might kneel
in the rest room, but no line of bladders wait
to argue their urgent points with my principles.
Humans in the flesh swim in mystery enough
that no heroes need float us past our bigotries
we’re full of coffee enough to join that line.
We writers allow our machines to propagate
our worst instincts into principles of action—
may rejection and spillage be our worst fears.
We all die no matter how many Hail Marys
we flaunt on Saturdays or hide on Sundays—
we only judge words that piddle on floors.
(Art by Anne Abrams)
July 4, 2015
I throw my eyes into a wave,
whisper to it with a stretch of skin
to tease the surf slang reply I need.
Fingers search for straight strokes,
but legs merge with mermaid tales
to mix wave suds into my words
as my mind’s nerve cries for help,
cries for the balance in flotation.
No books keep my ocean awake,
no principles preach or argue any
currents of displacement or loss.
Ribbons of seaweed press doubt
over a hope to find god in water:
John the Baptist kneels in sand,
Poseidon’s trident dies in hand.
Swimming is a form of silence, so
non-friction demotes any squid ink
beneath these seabeds to fade—to
recycle tips for subconscious lips.
Waves drum my ears, shoulder
me under them to dissolve my
perfections and beg my hands
for motion, rhythm, and rhyme,
motion, rhythm, and rhyme.
( Art by Anne Abrams )
June 27, 2015
After she tamed her tiger,
she gave her name away and
kissed a lover goodbye. She
walked from Tibet to Sri Lanka
to teach awareness of breath,
and freedom from want.
She gave up dal tarkari rice,
dresses of gold with rubies,
ruling Shakya as its Queen,
passionate kisses of a king,
and mother to a buddha.
She sang fifty songs of sadhana for
poets, dancers, and the bhikkhunis
so they attained buddhi as equals,
despite the sadness that buried her
deep in a cave for thirty years.
On Mount Sagarmatha they can
still hear her song at midnight:
“Moonlight of mine, love me true.
I carried the light to beings in blue,
let me rest in peace in my dark place,
to answer the meanings in life I face.”
(Art by Anne Abrams)
June 9, 2015
Which imaginary enemy
chases your good sense south
when fear pushes from the north?
Why does your hideout need to
steal the identity of my home?
Did something break the heart
of your most gentle name?
Run away, if you have to, but
don’t leave writs of anger behind—
I require a warrant before you use
words to turn friends into hostages.
Habeas corpus demands my right
to prove beyond shadows you laced
the body of your sweet rhymes with
five kinds of honey and arsenic.
It’s my right. I refuse to speak.
If you can’t bear betrayal’s sin,
tell truths without condiments,
without subplots that cheat my
appetite for facts and beans.
Kidnapping is still a crime in
almost every state of mind.
May 31, 2015
What favor of gravity holds me
down among six billion dizzy people?
Mother says I never fell down as a baby:
the careful teeter was my toddler step.
So does evil live in my ear’s cochlea to
dangle me over deeper canyons of fear?
Do supporting metaphors of recovery
from my middle-ear imbalance work
a blueprint for today’s problems of
love’s death and the deathly fiction
which lives under my life of words,
a life of expressions unheard?
I never fall off a meditation pillow
if I’m awake enough to tilt my head.
I never fall off my bicycle, if I’m quick
as the murder in the eye of a motorist.
I never fall off the wagon of equanimity
if I let greed pass the consuming fires
of pride in craft and beauty of rhyme.
But, what if a will of a wisp of a wind
blew through me to carry my mind above
the rain, the pain, and the too tame?
I learn to trust what howls in my ears.
(Photo by Anne Abrams)
May 22, 2015
If Real Hate Lives
I no longer bank my fire, but
pitch hot flame at the door of
the cage I’ve locked into myself.
Can I save saving itself? Or its heat?
Since keyholes won’t swallow hate,
I must abandon too-careful words
that cower among the meek toys
and zoo-animal books in closets.
I leave them to burn away.
I leap from the smoke cloud, skid
the back porch like A.J. Foyt, sprint
like a Christian lion from sacred flesh,
jump onto a boxcar made for peaches,
and stand in the doorway to watch
my hometown float into its own surf.
My escape is a voyage to utopia where
boys in brown skin with tart tongues
play an endless game of baseball on
dirt the color of real white people.
I’m not too late, if hate lives,
because I learned it well—
the only real fuel I know.
December 18, 2014
Rondeau At The Train Stop
It bothers me: the genital smell of the bay
drifting toward me on the T stop, the train
circling the city like a dingy, year-round
Christmas display. The Puritans were right! Sin
is everywhere in Massachusetts, hell-bound
in the population. it bothers me
because it’s summer now and sticky – no rain
to cool things down; heat like a wound
that will not close. Too hot, these shameful
percolations of the body that bloom
between strangers on a train. It bothers me
now that I’m alone and singles foam
around the city, bothered by the lather, the rings
of sweat. Know this bay’s a watery animal, hind-end
perpetually raised: a wanting posture, pain
so apparent, wanting so much that it bothers me.
Rondeau At The Train Stop By Erin Belieu.
December 13, 2014
Secret Colors, 1830
As I walk towards the gray porch
of my father’s house, I want to cry.
After an afternoon with Amity’s lips,
I see how ignorant is my happiness.
To learn it, my skin must turn black
and whip cuts on my back must bleed.
I love the words unalienable rights,
but life in a gray Latin school and
life in a gray Sunday school is a
curse without the living colors in
songs of my African girlfriend.
During my afternoon in a library
a history book tattles on America:
how a Revolutionary War teased
America free from King George.
It was an un-castled chess game
because the real war was against
the black folks who made us rich.
Tom Jefferson complained against
England importing African slaves,
but they gave him great wealth.
I spend afternoons with Amity only
if I accept the hatred of every white
boy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
If love is blind, seeing eyes are sad.
How can I open the door and live
again in my father’s gray world
while I hold her colors in secret?
December 3, 2014
New poem by that upstart poet, Walt Whitman:
“To Bryant, the Poet of Nature”