Wednesday, December 24, 2014

CAROLING IN A NEW CENTURY





‘Tis the Season
of candles
and trash fires

 war
in the Holy Lands
  
 nostrums
from rostrums

And there's nothing to be done
but to look for shelter

Nothing to be done
but to ask for money
for something to eat

Nothing to be done

but

Praise God with the harp 
 sing to Him with the psaltery 

as


wolves rise from their sleep 

and

shepherds watch their sheep.





Friday, December 19, 2014

WHERE'S FIDEL?


                                      DONDE ESTÁ FIDEL

Where is Fidel?
                   el Commandante
                   el Caballo

¿Dónde está Fidel?

Fidel esta muerto.

No!

El esta mirando el mar

He is watching the sea

Yes, Fidel is watching the sea…


January 1959

I was thirteen
when the Beards
entered Havana.

I saw it on TV.

Then
in February
on a Friday night
the whole family
gathered around the tube
to watch “history being made.”

Fidel
live - en vivo -
and in person
with his long hair and beard
in a silk bathrobe
smoking a cigar
in a suite in Micky Hilton's hotel

The Revolution was being televised

and it was some kind of slumber party
with a fuck you edge

I fell in love.

The next week
I bought a fatigue cap,
and a rubber cigar

and entered Erie
Pennsylvania
on my bicycle.

My friends were unimpressed.

My parents were not amused.

My uncle said, “All free-thinkers ought to be shot.”

The Revolution started shooting free-thinkers

And where was Fidel

¿ y Dónde estaba Fidel?

Fidel estaba en las sombras

Si, in the shadows
at the Stadium

watching

Fidel estaba en las sombras.

Fidel…?

April 1959

Fidel in Harlem

Plucking chickens at the Shelburne

The Revolution as BBQ
The Marx Brothers Revolution

Desplumando pollos

Communism with a comic mask

I was taken in again.

Until time
and the Revolution
started falling over themselves

The Missile Crisis
The Special Period
Prisoners of Conscience

Hugs and kisses in Moscow

Poets in jail
Queers in jail

And what about Che?

¿…Che…?

Handsome Che
Holy Che
El Christo Che

confusing love and death

in Africa, and Brazil

Che
gone
and buried

in speeches

and the Revolution
buried
in speeches

Hours and hours of speeches

Anniversaries and speeches

Decades of speeches

An era of speeches

A half-century of speeches

Impossible to love speeches
and impossible to love Fidel

Viejo Fidel.

And, finally, Fidel collapsed,

choking on speeches.

Fidel estrangulaba en discursos.

But Fidel does not die

no –

Fidel nunca morirá

because Fidel is in the shadows

watching the sea.

Yes,

Fidel

esta mirando

el mar.


Thursday, October 9, 2014


DON MICHAEL, ZENO, THE ORANGE, AND ME

I’m reminded
     of the last scene
                in Godfather III

Michael Corleone
     holding an orange
                
Slouching
     in his chair

                and then       
                tumbling

                to the gravel.

I've felt that
drop in energy
that comes          
      a moment
                before the tumble.

Parsed
    by Zeno’s math

the orange
                drops from Michael’s hand

                                unpeeled
                                untasted

                                                and falls

for

                                                 eternity.





Saturday, October 4, 2014

BIRTHDAY GRATITUDE & PRAYER
                (with a nod to the Merry Prankster)

That I ever was

                that

 kid.



That I am

                this

                                -old-

gently, brother…,

                -old-er-               
               
man.



That I have lived

                the life

between

step by blessed step

a hair’s breadth

from disaster.



Oh, my dears

Above ground –

                with everyone to thank

                                so thank you and

Let us proceed

Further –


Amen.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

(6) FRANK'S ENCHANTED WORLD VAUDEVILLE (starring Frank)

The Finale Known as Grace

flying_house_by_erolberkay298-d58c93t

Frank


          Honest to God


found himself

in New Hampshire

under a bruised sky

up a tree

watching green hills

          rock thunder and storm

          like an ocean raging

          all a-havoc & destruction

                   of fences and cows

                   John Deeres

                   cars

                   farmhouses

                   telephone poles

                   the dearly departed
                             with their assorted and sundries

                   and

                   farmyard children

churning every which way

          around

          up and

          under

in an in-ex-or-able roll

and in-cred-ible show

of brute force nature.

 
Frank shaking like a leaf

wondered

          how the hell

          he was gonna get himself

          out of this one

and as nothing came to mind

          climbed

                   Yup

higher up

to thin branches

new growth

spindle greenery

all precarious

          reached
              and
          climbed
     
                        Steady now

into a window

          fortune-ate-ly, for-tu-i-tous-ly, and treach-er-ously

tumbling in the maelstrom 

          and found

                   Get this

the beautiful daughter

in a white night gown

on white sheets

under a white canopy

in a white room

                   Stick with me

and Frank said,  Dorothy?

          Dorothy said, Frank?

Frank said, How did you get in here?

          and Dorothy said, The prairie is an ocean, Frank

and then

Frank heard

the unmistakable

          ka-chung

of a pump-action

shotgun

followed by the voice

of the household's host

his best friend's friend

pronouncing as sharply

as New Hampshire granite:

          I think you've got the wrong room, son

As a lucky spasm of

          grass, dirt

          flint and rock

smacked the sun

turning all the white black

all the bedrooms into kitchens

and all the daughters to

          safely lighting lamps

                   and pouring wine

for Sunday supper


          and here's the best part

The household's host

his best friend's friend

asked Frank to

          Kindly say the grace, son

And Frank obliged with all the grace he could muster:


Thank you Lord

          thank you dear people

For shelter from the rising fields

Keep us, Lord,

from the temptations of trees

          and open windows

                   Amen.

And they all said: 

                             Amen.




Saturday, September 6, 2014

PROLOGUE: FRANK'S ENCHANTED WORLD VAUDEVILLE (starring Frank)

FRANK'S LIBERAL EDUCATION
     (for Miller on his Thirteenth Birthday)


 Raven on my Shoulder
                      Raven on my Shoulder


Born of Frank, Sr.,
and Our Lady of Perpetual Longing
the fifth or seventh of eleven -

     who can remember?


Frank was brought up
     by a free floating family
          to float free.


An independent thinker.


Frank Sr.,
an odds maker
angle player
sporting life
as honest as anyone outside the law
taught him the higher maths of
     Infinity
     Eight ball
     The ponies
And lives captured in a dream


Taught him the benefits of
     Fi-delity and Loyalty


And the utility of a pocketful of hand-shakes.


His favorite uncle
a man of the cloth
taught him how to
     Play the piano
     Shoot nine holes and various handguns
     And communicate with the higher powers.

Uncle Sugar
might have shown him
how to snap a jab
and throw a flurry,
but ain't nobody saying.


Perpetual Longing walked him along the path of
     Reading books
     Recognizing love
     Keeping his own council
     And the equality of the great and small.


When he was a baby,
his auntie, Ma Raven, poked him in the ear
and left a message


Said to listen for her rough song
and when he was ready
she'd tell him some things


In time she did -


She told him the world was divided
between the agreed upon and the enchanted


that
mirrors, reflections
and surface things
could trap you twixt the two


and you had to get into something
     before you could get out of it.


Ma Raven told him to aovid rats
     she hated rats
the two and four-legged varieties
both recognized by their moving jaws and skittish behavior
distracting you with shiny things
while they eat you alive.


Most important, she said, don't be afraid.


Before he left home
Frank understood
you could pay a price for things
     that weren't for sale
And there was nothing
     you could steal
     that would do you any good.


He learned that life
     was a tightrope walk
with a bounce and sway
     that sent messages
          through his feet
               into his heart
                    and finally his head


He learned his body
always got the message first
     and the territory between
          what his heart felt
          and his head thought
          was a minefield littered
               with limbs, lives, and intentions -
                    good and otherwise.


Every animal Frank ever met
     taught him to nap anytime
          and eat when he could.


Wind taught him
     to expect the unexpected


And stars that there's no time
     like the present.


At times Frank thought life was just one goddamn lesson after another
     and with all these lessons he'd never get a day of nothing at all.


Frank got days of nothing at all - he didn't enjoy them all that much.


By the time Frank hit the road
he was prepared
for glorious contingencies
stray teachers
and all the visible-and-in
an enchanted vaudeville could offer.


Frank was happy to be
     Foot loose & Fancy free.