Let’s laugh as if we’ve had too much to drink,
and hide beneath the stairs when we are old.
I’ll buy myself a pen that’s full of ink
and empty it before my words get cold.
Let’s laugh at what I’ve written in the sun
and hide our laughter in our winter shoes.
I’ll buy you something useless, something fun,
and emptiness will settle what we choose.
Let’s laugh before we find we have to cry
and hide our sorrows in a shallow grave.
I’ll buy a song, a little song, and I
and empty words will find a soul to save.
And you will hide my laughter with your kiss;
and I will buy you empty tins of bliss.
Goodnight to these soliloquies of waste
which coat the page like rancid, holy oil
as if it were my head. The day’s replaced
with night. Goodnight to light that also spoils.
The light of words decays in putrid lines
of poetry. Bend closer; smell the page.
It reeks of death, a coffin; it consigns
the cells of knowledge to some lytic phage.
They say the king is dead; long live the king.
I’ll say it too. Why not? They’re only words.
Goodnight Laertes, Gertrude. Now let’s sing
goodnight to poor Ophelia. How absurd.
Don’t signify the candles no one lights;
just kill them all with Juliet’s “goodnights.”
Remember how you lift me from the earth
and take me to the windows where the light
is soft upon the snow, the new moon’s birth
illuminates the drifts, translucent white.
Remember how you kiss my darkened eyes
and give me breath beneath transparent seas.
Remember how each moment in disguise
portrays a carnal fantasy. Oh please
remember depths of revelations’ joy
discovered in the morning when I wake,
before mundane intrusions can destroy
the wisdom only gods like us can make.
Surround me in my self-abandoned state
where memories are slow and time is late.
Her judgements made in ignorance ignore
the voice I hear, to which her ears are deaf.
She pounds her gavelled words upon the door
of accoladed variance. I guess
it saves her tender hand from getting bruised,
to bang her little hammer, making sure
it skips the rhythms others may have used
in trite conformity. Don’t make it pure;
try holding by its head and tap the end
that normal people hold. Now make it scrape
in circles. Make it chatter; let it bend
the noise of wood-on-wood. Can you relate
to anything as simple as a rhyme?
Or do you find cacophony sublime?
I trust my life to silk and nylon cords
that promise to suspend me from the sky.
I trust the weeks of training that awards
the silver wings that money cannot buy
to every volunteer who stays the course,
like every paratrooper has before.
I trust them all, their strength; I know its source.
I’d follow them in peace or bloody war.
Stand up, the door is open; check your line.
The light is red, but soon it will be green.
Your courage is the courage you define
by leading from above, by being seen!
The eyes of generations look to us,
the strength of Airborne, keepers of the trust!
Beneath the lake of god I slept for years
until my flesh was cold enough to feel
the heat within my veins, and heated tears
became a revelation to reveal.
Beneath the lake of god I heard the voice
of all the prophets’ dim and distant cries.
I dropped the book, a solitary choice,
and in my lightened state began to rise.
Then through the lake of god, its waters clear,
I rose and noticed suddenly how deep
the water was, and though I didn’t fear,
I wondered what had kept me fast asleep.
And as I broke the surface of the lake
I felt the air, the breath that I could take.
Alone seeps in through frosted window panes
when Christmas Day has melted into slush,
slid halfway down the drive then froze again,
the night not half as silent as the hush
of hearts that should be warmer than the coals
still buried in the ashes of the wood
that burned as brightly as our childish souls
when we unwrapped our presents. When we stood
inside September’s kiss of final heat
and thought that it was spring, we both were fooled.
There comes a time when seasons don’t repeat.
Decembers are the passions which have cooled.
One wind that whispers now: “I should have known,”
seeps in through frosted window panes, alone.
It spins, it spins, the package from her hand,
chaotic arcs described by slender reeds
of pasta, dropping out beyond command
of reason; this is not what Candace needs.
One reach, one slip, too many to contain
an oblong, cardboard box that bears a small
inspection window, masked with cellophane.
She knows it’s gone; she knows she can’t recall
spaghetti as it skitters ‘cross the floor.
She slides to the linoleum and pulls
her knees into her chest, the cupboard door
is firm against her back, spaghetti lulls
her mind into a place of sobbing cries
while scattering before her wild eyes.
We left the doors between the rooms unlocked,
then drowned in our delicious reveries,
until the prompt attendant promptly knocked
and left us precious little time to seize.
We dripped with parts-per-billion on our skin,
the sediments from deep within the ground.
I opened both the doors; you let me in,
then melted as I wrapped myself around
your warmth. I felt the water on your face
as I leaned in to kiss and kiss you twice,
solidified within your moist embrace,
you tasted sweet, and sweetness will suffice.
Remind me why it took me twenty years
and Saratoga’s springs to drown my fears.
Forget prosperity and let them break
my teeth on gravel stones, remove my soul
from peace and peaceful places. Let them take
my strength and hope and leave me with my gall.
I am a poet and if I do not
lament I can’t rejoice. My god! My god!
I’ll tell you of a secret, holy spot
where everything I write is sanctified.
Take 36th to Park and find the crack
that stretches from the sidewalk to the curb.
You’ll find a wooden bench that’s painted black
to hide the scars and stains which might disturb
the souls who wait impatiently, not us
who know that there will be another bus.