Gib mir das Wegrecht
über die Kornstiege zu deinem Schlaf,
das Wegrecht
über den Schlafpfad,
das Recht, daß ich Torf stechen kann
am Herzhang,
morgen.

Paul Celan

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

GENETICALLY MODIFIED


A pap ferments in the heart's seed
and pumps nectar through the flesh,
the pulp swells and bursts its seams,
the egg's too drunk on sugar to be.

Being is inconsequential, is contra code:
What's needed here is pulse without purpose,
nurture without nature, present without future,
hybrids spawning perfect hybrids 

The branch can't even hold its fruit any more
and so inclines to quickly cut it loose —
Everything's on credit, even hunger's borrowed
on hunger's collateral from illusory want.

See that plump and pregnant specimen,
sweating succulently under the glow lamp,
it's so whacked-out on injected buzz,
it doesn't know whether it's an apple or an eidolon.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

AFTER LOVE ~ Poems


The Esthetic Apostle has just reprinted After Love in a corrected, revised edition. This edition unlike its predecessor comprises my final emendations, and also unlike the previous copy is now registered with an ISBN and is available on Amazon.com. I would like to thank the Editor-in-Chief, Samuel Muiris Griffin, for his tasteful work on the book, as well as Benjamin Erlandson [benerlandson.net] for kind permission to use an image from his series, 'Escarpment Fog':


After Love is a short collection of wistful poems, 16 in all, that treat of love, loss, war, regeneration, conflagration, aging, illness, and the exotic. One senses slight, nuanced transgressions in some of these poems, especially in 'Nereids', 'The Disappearing Art', 'The Wasps', and 'Oulipo', where the exotic grows out of the macabre and sometimes even out of brutality. An allusion to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 'The Disappearing Art' finds its poetic correlative or analogue in 'Oulipo', while the miscarriage in 'Midwife' is recalibrated in 'Our Lost Son'. Curiously, even ephemerally, the poems converse with one another so that the theme of bugonia in 'The Wasps' finds an alternate treatment in 'Wildfire' and 'Ephemeris'. The title of the book, After Love, can suggest either a life after love or a yearning after love, and both senses are subsumed in the eponymous poem. The long poem 'Tunnels' expands on many of these themes and explores the larger one of aging, ailing, and the grief of departing our teeming earth. The old man in section III sees his world reflected upside-down and in reverse in the bauble-like apples hanging from the trees, and he tries to find answers to his own condition in their cycles, symmetries, and ultimate decay. After Love is a small book but its themes are large and highly provocative, and it captures in beautiful lyrics the extraordinary majesty and mystery of nature, life, and the human condition.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

ABSENCES ~ A SEQUENCE


The Esthetic Apostle, a new monthly literary journal out of Chicago, edited by my son Samuel, whose aesthetic discernment is reflected in his dedication to showcasing beautiful prose, poetry, artwork, and photography, has just published my poem sequence Absences. The chapbook is available from Amazon ... Here. The artwork is by the wonderful Dutch artist Martine Mooijenkind, alias, Knutseltroep, from Gouda, The Netherlands. The dialogue between between art and the written word is itself one of the subliminal marvels of this collection, and Samuel was most judicious in selecting this particular pairing. He has truly given both works a new breath of life and has infused each with the unsayable essence of their own peculiar aesthetic.

He selected this precis to describe Absences:
Absences addresses the themes of loss of youth, loss of innocence, isolation, separation, exile, death, the absence of familiarity, affection, and above all the loss or absence of love. The sequence meditates on the natural world but finds little comfort there. There are no idyllic, romantic refuges from the self, and pathetic fallacies remain just that: instead of providing a balm to the sick heart, the dales of Arcady merely accentuate its angst. The poems find fitting motifs in poetic echoes and these are channeled into the poems' movement to harmonize their rhythms and oscillations and to achieve a kind of unsettling but restorative equipoise. The sequence resonates with allusions to classical mythology, Virginia Woolf, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar, Franz Kafka, Johann Georg Hamann, Paul Celan, and Bruno Schulz, and tries to weave its patchwork aesthetic by drawing on their disparate but unified themes. Ultimately, the sequence is a celebration of life, even if life's great peroration is death, and even if we all die the same death over and over again.
 The Esthetic Apostle maintains a Blog [Here], a Facebook Page [Here], and a Twitter Account [Here]. Be sure to visit often, read, and if possible subscribe or purchase.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

REMAINS


~For JH~

… Nothing is ever entirely
right in the lives of those who love each other.
                                                   Eavan Boland

In the end she sized his sickness
like an old raincoat and put it on
as a curious fish puts on a hook,
or a dandelion whose seed-bulb has blown
dies stark in a meadow so beautiful
and wild it could be her grave.

He wanted his ashes saved in an hourglass
and willed it be turned to time her eggs –
the first one hatched, the next exploded,
but the last boiled so hard she smashed
the glass and littered his heirless ash
across the kitchen floor.

She gathered what she could into a dustpan
and swept the rest out the back door,
but a sudden draft blew it in again –
so she showered the last of him
from her body, bagged what was left
and dumped it into the recycling.

Friday, November 7, 2014

In Memoriam


~ For Mother ~

 i

In the end you became
Your father when death
Had tripped him into sleep,
And when you stumbled
We all stumbled closer
To your ends, and ours –
Your hands were our hands,
And your bones settling back
To earth were our bones
As we carry them further
Down the road you went,
Further and closer, father,
Until we meet again.

ii

We never wanted you to go,
So we held the frayed thread
You clung to over the edge,
For five days we watched it
Strain against your freight,
And for five days you fought
To haul yourself back …
Now we struggle to fill
The spaces you displaced –
More presence in your absence
And more music in silence
Than all the living noise
That fills a heart with home.

iii

Everything you left behind
Still wears you, father,
But everything is nothing
Without you –
We sift sadly through
Your things but find in them
What only lamentation brings –
A spade against the wall,
A cap or old sandals
All things shorn
Empty and forlorn –
Even your beloved trees
Followed you into absence.

iv

But how could you of all men die,
You who were so indelible
And so crucial, a different dad
For each of us, though one again  
When the appointed time arrived?
Did we really board your passage,
Father, or did it arrive home
With each of us on board?
All the times we spoke of it
And the way we spoke of it,
The way the fear informed
Our words – we never knew
What had already been decided.

v

There was nothing we could do,
And though your mind was gone
You were not gone –
Though you’d vanished around
The corners of every absence
You still met life midway
As if not undersea or beyond
The call of all that tolled
You back from sleep –
When the church bell rang,
Your face went grey
And then your vital clock
Pulsed that one last time –

vi

I think of you lying there
Exactly as we last saw you
Before they closed the lid,
Your eyes and mouth glued shut,
The fingers intertwined,
And the loose suit bunched –
When we put you under
You were a long way down,
With the tight earth round
And darkness closing in.
Are you really there now, father,
Still under the wet clay,
You once dug to nowhere?
 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Au Revoir, Dear Heart


At 8:00 am on September 16th, my dad took his final breath. He was surrounded by his wife of 60 years, his 12 children, and 2 of his 21 grandchildren. He died peacefully after a prolonged illness.

It is very hard to let go of a man who was my hero and my savior. My father knew how to provide for and protect his family. He was our champ and we'll miss him dearly, but as my sister said in her eulogy -- 'we will often glimpse him again in the faces of our children and grandchildren, and there he will live into perpetuity'.

The latest edition of Agenda Poetry, entitled 'Scentings', has a poem of mine dedicated to my father:



Go gently into that good night, dear father, and sleep with the angels.