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My Indian Summer
The day to the night
Is losing its race,
Way down into Autumn
The sun warms my face,
Its my Indian Summer--
An undeserved grace.

The leaves not yet fallen
Although they’ve all turned,
I look back with a fondness
For all that I yearned,
Its an Indian Summer
And one I’ve not earned.

The robins are resting
On their get-away flight,
I’m reconciled to lost battles
Without renouncing the fight,
Its my Indian Summer
One last kiss before night.

Into all their eyes
I take a last look
At all that I’ve cherished
And overlooked
They’re helping me pay
For all that I took.
The Battle of the Beautiful
The battle of the beautiful--
Its soldiers lay on the field.
Sons who were once dutiful,
Lured by the din of the ideal,
Marched away with shining arms
Of paper, pencil, wood, and steel,
Without a thought they'd come to harm,
Or for quarter they'd appeal.

Jealous of the gauds and glory
Of the gleaming cavalier,
But noting at the end of story
They all tend to disappear.
His army now is all vanguard
With an unprotected rear
And decorates its disregard
While court-martialing its fear.

"This battle of the beautiful
Has turned desperate and vicious,.
Its charges are all futile, Its honors meretricious.
No captives will be taken!
Our generals have tricked us!"
But which has been forsaken
By the clarion of "vae victis"?
The Garden of the Forgotten Favorites
In the Forbidden City is a cage,
Gilded by lost freedom that paid for it.
Gelded sentries guard a seraglio in
The Garden of the Forgotten Favorites.

A perfumed celibate grooms the graves
That have left her so uncompanioned—
The last consort, exhuming life’s relics,
Bewildered at being abandoned.

She replays her memories, like rolling
Wine over the tongue to savor it,
So embittering the sweet tincture of
The Garden of the Forgotten Favorites.

Awaiting the summons of a dead king,
Her hours spent gazing at distant mountains,
Or casting for her lost loveliness in
The bottom of the frankincensed fountains.

The ripples, smoothing out mirrored wrinkles,
And fallen lotus petals to flavor it—
To make palatable the galling
Garden of the Forgotten Favorites.

She squints through mist a young peasant’s
Dreams of riches, silks, porcelain, and glamour.
Then a butterfly flitting over the wall
Stuns her—the priest’s sacrificial hammer.

The Mysteries of the Corridor
The mysteries of the corridor
And of the winding stair,
The slight salt breeze laundering
The faintly fetid air.

The disconsolate moaning
Of a nocturnal flute,
The lingering oppression guarding
A bygone spot of dispute.

A dispossessed odor exhuming
A memory, long lost.
The discovery of a frontier
There’s not time left to cross.

The cerebral oases,
The lone remaining brethren,
In the meandering caravan
Of a defrocked cave reverend.

I’m bound to Mnemosyne
And her twin sister, Memory.
Though long since now they’ve parted ways,
I search for where the lost one strays.

My fate was to retain the one
From whom every man tries to run—
The torturer, vile Memory,
Who goads with each man’s history.

Her punishments she’ll admit
And calls her sister hypocrite:
“Mnemosyne will only harm,
You can’t arrest her truant charm.”

“With my vigor she can’t compete,
Her best now only bittersweet.”
She’s right but still it’s my duty
To catch her sister’s running beauty.

Mnemosyne, where do you play?
I trail your shadows every day.
I catch your scent and know you’ve passed,
But always just beyond my grasp.
The Grim Looter
On patrol of the glass
A man’s challenged by the future—
A deepening new gash,
The fading of an old suture,
Convinced now the past has passed—
And of the merciless grim looter.

He steals in mad caprice—
A greedy drunken freebooter.
Leaves the plundered on their feet,
Denying the grace of stupor—
“Why kill my golden geese?”
Grins the humorous grim looter.

The handsome man remembers
The young girl’s immodest stare,
And with each new September
The halfback damns his easy chair,
And in the glass a glimmer—
The grim looter on the stair.

The aging man descries
His chest once swelled with bragging.
Through fuzziness espies
The thick hair that he’s now lacking.
The looter swings his scythe,
He’s not harvesting, but hacking.
The Justice of Gethsemene
To make an evilness of courage
And nobility a tyranny,
The only son was yielded to
The justice of Gethsemane.

All virtue to be overthrown,
The dignity of man impeached.
So the betrayer of mankind,
In the garden, got just what he preached.

Littering the landscape
With crumpled scraps of scripture,
Handsel and Gretelling—
Instructions to a number picture.

To Roman vigor, a madhouse
Fugitive, his group preferred.
So the delirious dozen, like
The ringleader, got what they deserved.

The power of attorney
To heal, he gave his coterie—
Thus cured by the craven kiss
Of justice in Gethsemane.

The Mirror
The mystery of the mirror,
the enigma of the glass.
The placid pool of emerald
covers a green riddle vast.

One mirror watching his brother
march to infinity.
Before the crystal phalanxes
time shrinks in timidity.

Towards a mythic battlefield
advances its serried ranks,
Through dimming forests of dragons
marshalling along their flanks.

Past the walk to oblivion
lurks the land behind the pane,
The hall to the wizard’s palace,
the portal between the frame.
The Third Wish

The third wish
Should always be to die.
Saluting your time—
The proudest goodbye.

Your last words
Should never be “alas”,
The struggles of your past.

The last stand
Should never be forlorn,
Its best gift,
A banner high but torn.

After the autumn why wait for the winter?
Why tempt fate with yet another venture?

The best kiss
Should always be your last,
Folding the girl
Safely into your past.

Take your last chance
Never in desperation—
A Hail Mary—
The greatest humiliation.

Your last sound
Should never be a sigh—
That tiny breeze—
The soul’s thundering cry.

No Place to Go

Have you ever had no place to go?
No place to sleep or get out of the snow?
Where did your childhood suddenly go?
Have you ever had no place to go?

Have you ever had no one that cared?
Went to friend’s houses and found no one there?
But the fear with becoming aware?
Have you ever had no one that cared?

Have you ever had Christmas alone?
In a cafe among families unknown?
Their cheer changing your sighs to groans?
Have you ever had Christmas alone?

Have you ever seen your last hope killed?
And fell through the hole that it once filled?
And realized there’d be no “until”?
Have you ever seen your last hope killed?

Have you ever had no way out?
Backed into a corner into a crouch?
No use to cry or even shout?
Have you ever had no way out?
I am a Denizen
I am a denizen, of a languid nation, Of unseated citizens, and of dreams forsaken.
I am a citizen, of this res-ig-nation,
An Indian herded, onto his reservation.
I am a resident, of this abomi-nation,
The land of the hesitant, and the endless vacation.

Of ruined overpasses, and toppled skyscrapers,
Of schools without classes, and freeways well cratered.

Of silent playgrounds—a windblown hobby horse,
Foundered on his go-rounds, eyes staring past his course,

To the past when children, hugged his neck and kissed him,
Back to when he thrilled them, and in their beds missed him.

Would they recognize him, or the passion of their wonder?
Or would they now despise him and their yearn for the yonder?

A human pollution, each morning awakens,
Finds the only solution, in national retardation.

Mornings in a U.S. Prison
Mornings in a U.S. Prison
Seen through the silent, sullen eyes,
Trudging with unfocused vision,
The trance of the traumatized.
Surprised here the sun has arisen-
A trespasser in posted skies.

The noon sun's gavel will banish
The furtive futility's reign.
The tyrant then will be vanquished
And we'll know that we'll leave here unchanged,
Free to forever languish
In the castles that must be in Spain.

And now that the sun has absconded
And day's armor beginning to fail,
Like a killer mistakenly bonded,
Nonchalantly fleeing from jail,
The only prey both hunted and haunted
Hears footsteps closing on his trail.
Commentary for
Ostensibly about prison life, this poem more significantly depicts the daily rise and fall of hope and hopelessness within the breast of man. The sun's movement influences this ebb and flow of emotion, as the moon moves the tides.
If one would experience unadulterated hopelessness and understand the sense of life's futility that it engenders, look at the men in prison walking to the bathroom as they arise in the morning. They have been suddenly and barbarously thrust out from their womb of sleep and disconnected from their dreams of the nest--of moms and dads; playmates and pets; childhood aspirations--and of homes--all long gone, visited and remembered now only in the night--into the harshest of realities. It is a daily transformation so violent that I am constantly amazed that men can repeatedly withstand it.
But fortunately--I suppose--as the day advances so does the sense of hope. The dimness of the dawn is superceded by the clarity of the sun. The charms of coffee, newspapers, and breakfast--the talismans of toothbrushes and TV ritualize his reconciliation to a futile existence, dispelling the gloom. Shortly the morning riser will be whistling and wondering why he was so discouraged-if he even remembers being so.
However, as the day begins to end, with the descent of darkness all the certainty fabricated throughout the day begins to become shadowy, moving toward dissolution. The power, that inexplicable longing produced by a sunset is due, I believe, to its representation for us of death--a majestically courageous death-the final act of something even greater than life. Ancient man's fear of the night has largely been forgotten today. We ward it off with electric lights, TV, and playing with women-thrusting these weapons back at the night as our ancestors did sticks of fire at marauding beasts, tenuously keeping them at bay. For any man that doubts the terror of the night, let him have his electricity turned off, and retire into his house alone and await the morning. He will soon understand why primitive man revered the sun god above all others.

The Talisman of Tomorrow
If in our homes we sleep soundly
in the oblivion of the blest,
Down the street goes the bereaved mother
trudging to her robbed nest.

Dolls and teddy bears greet her,
not yet taken off the roster,
And tiny empty shoes in
a ghostly, ghastly familiar posture.

An amputee guitarist
bemused by the horrid, hollow sleeve,
Listening to his old recordings
on a solitary Christmas Eve.

To stop the phantom pains
And the longings that linger,
He dreams of the music,
But prays for a trigger finger.

The businessman bachelor
pacing his compartmental cage,
Appealing to the warder of work
for the reinstatement of the day,

To greet him as he crawls out
at dawn of his hired tomb,
Gaunt from his tryst
in Persephone’s room.

At a friend’s baby shower
in the bath someone’s afraid—
The career woman’s first glimpse of
the glass sketch of the old maid.

Fashion, fineness, and firstness
where children and husbands belong,
Forever paying the interest on
a bill for baubles long gone.

Some days are survivable
Others preclude even suicide,
Like a mangled spy unable
To get to his cyanide.

The divorced frequently father
forever changing his skies,
Hoping to find a discount
and the time that it buys.

His life’s only constant—
his kids’ classroom photos—
Framed sad, bewildered children
with their silent reproaches.

A student at Christmas climbs to his garret.
(family cheer beckons from each casement)
Like a lost orphaned animal
grasping at any replacement.

The tones are familiar
but the voices are different.
He hurries as he grasps that
the separation is infinite.

He’s blocked from the release
of exit out his window bay,
By the talisman of tomorrow—
the mythic bringer of better days.

The Pawn Shop
Men fearless of the future
with only todays to greet them,
Soon find their souls sutured—
the terrible toll for their freedom.

Sooner or later a bill comes due
and a sinking man grabs on to pawning,
But he means to redeem his heirloom,
and so begins his self-conning.

Owners from amulets now severed
by the glass and the metal shutter.
Life pulling them apart forever—
a starving child given up by its mother.

Like lovers on two ships
headed to seperate horizons,
Gradually releasing their grip,
watching the gap forever widen.

He walks out with a ticket
and without his mother’s locket,
Past his conscience’s picket,
putting his pride in his pocket.

When a man is compelled to be an artist and spends years doing so without making enough money at it, he’ll eventually arrive at a point where he sees that while he was doing this, everyone else was learning how to make money. So he is forced to consider, “What do I know that I could make money with?” The answer is his art. In other words, change it to make it something that will sell. This is very much like pawning a favorite possession—one final cherished possession that he has managed to hang on to through all the tough times. Of course he intends to redeem it once he just gets back on his feet again, but it simply leads him to sell more and more of himself until finally there is nothing left.
That is what prized possessions are—why we care so much for them—why they are so much greater than what they appear to be—they represent pieces of ourselves from the past. Like batteries, we charge them with our being and our memories (“I had this when I was 10 years old and had the measles” or “My mom gave this to me before she died.”) to help save those moments for us—like a photo or a tape recorder.
The Setting Sun

There was a land of noble travail,
Where a deaf composer wasn’t dumb—an abbey where tortured artists lie.
Of wistful convicts of Reading Gaol,
And a Frenchman’s profound sighs.

But this is not the land of sighs,
But the land of the setting sun—where men can go no further.
Of screams of cripples that can’t die,
No release one way or the other.

This is the land of suicide,
Where police shoot men to prevent one—or for trying to find a hidden valley,
Where baited decency might hide,
Our Poet’s Corner, a back alley.

The land of outrageous forms of life,
Both the flora and the fauna—evergreens a football field high,
Hollywood egos and bearded wives,
In pituitary cages scraping the sky.

Columbus was misunderstood—
He was showing where not to come—except for a penal colony,
That men should avoid if they could,
As agar for virulent biology.

Where Go the Gardens?

Moonlight turns every yard into a garden,
Softens the edges that the daytimes harden,
Droning messengers deliver their pardon,
But in the daylight
Where go the gardens?

Out of the shadows steps a tiny lady,
Singing straight at me, “Rock-a-bye-Baby”
Her songs breeze by my brow, soft and lazy, A dream from summer groves,
Cool and shady.

Expectation tinkles like ice water shaking,
The drink of her eyes sweet but paining,
Like languor of afternoons when its raining,
Anticipating ,
But never attaining.

The damage of sunlight, the moon is mending,
The cool dreaminess that something’s impending,
Before dawn’s daggers begin it’s rending,
And sending, of the people
And of the pretending.

Moonbeams turn every girl into a princess,
Her skin like midnight dunes in the distance,
Eye shadow of stardust, her lips are listless,
But in the daylight
Where goes the princess?


Walden, April Sound, and Robinwood
all make me vomit,
‘Cause they’re taking over
and I can’t stop it.

These security mirages,
vast wastelands man-made,
What was once oasis,
the commuter contaminates.

Over factory fireplaces
that burn store-bought logs,
They bake vegetable brain casserole
after their robotic jog.

In bunkers of ignorance
with sentinel 7-11 s,
Send form letters to Santa
for admission to heaven.

Blessed by the god
of the repetitive,
1,2,3 to the bedroom nightly,
for their desperate sedative.

In cement-headed ritual
executives lining the street,
Doing rain dances for happiness,
reading omens in cracked concrete.

But these barbaric monuments
to individuality’s slaying—
Triumphs of lonely, sad beauty
once they mercifully start decaying.

The Remembrances

I read the obituaries
looking for a name,
One released from taunting glory
and pursuing shame.

I look at the remembrances
searching for a face,
Meaningless to all but those
praying for its grace.

The desperation of this print—
one of life’s top disgraces,
Greater than ghostly photographs
of dead youngster’s toothy faces.

Although I wonder what ended
such a cheery season,
To name the traitor—blasphemy—
or mention once the treason.

Though gone they know that he’s now safe
and at some form of rest,
But they’re left behind to stagger on
through canyons in their chests.

These are tiny cenotaphs,
memorials of love,
Striving to reach through testament
the oblivion of the above.