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I Play My Piano of Words

 

I play my piano of words.

I strike clarion literary chords.

I phrase triads of syllables,

And make my vowels treble.

 

I caress the keys of fancy,

Enrapturing beasts with serenity.

But my key-strikes fall silent,

Until your voice sings jubilant.

 

As you read the poems I wrote,

You sing a perfect note.

You become my instrument.

You tremble, vibrating ardent.

 

Your voice becomes my string,

So my words might sing.

Your tongue is my reed,

So your passions might bleed.

 

Whether in adagio or allegro,

I make verse in elegant tempo,

I weave verbal harmony,

From empty cacophony.

 

Whether alone or in concert hall,

I lull all into perfect thrall.

And like bittersweet melody,

I capture perfect tranquility.

 

As musical notes hang in the air,

Mine play a score fair.

As drums thunder and boom,

Mine strike with feathered plume.

 

Fingers caress notes from ivory.

Mine make words from technology.

As they vivacissimo strike and appassionata play,

I give you song so you may live and love today.

 

 

Removed

 

A key sits out the lock.

A picture removed from the frame.

The hands are gone from a clock.

A dancer dances alone.

 

A door is shut, closing out the light,

Its keyhole gapes, waiting, incomplete,

A body stumbles at the portal tight,

And drops the key out of sight.

 

A glossy image betrays,

The love of better days,

And is rent in half,

Framed now by the trash.

 

A clock sits, desiring ticks,

It stares blindly at the dark,

Wondering how to turn the trick,

Of grasping time without a mitt.

 

Music sounds in a sizzling kitchen,

While a cook dances alone,

His arms outstretched to beckon,

The dream he makes alone.

 

 

A Rope in the Air

 

A rope dangles from a distant beam,

And dances while a hidden hand untangles,

A man stands in the darkness at its feet,

And tries to leap and catch it in the air.

 

Upward and higher he strives to reach,

While each time he falls into desperate mire,

The rope jumps its arms akimbo,

While through limbo he sails ever the higher,

 

The man does not know the end of the rope,

He holds a hope that its end is relief,

Or maybe another peace,

Where he craves his final release.

  

 

Birth Announcement-Exploitation Directorate

 

Life encoded by binary bits.

Trapped in a discourse of digits: It(’)s biography suspended.

One for beginnings,

Zero for endings recorded in black and white.

Betweens exist no longer

In calculations no stronger than a perfect calculus.

 

Love and death announced in e-mail

Bring ruddy and pale their sorrows and joys.

 

 

Math: A Lament

 

While a plane infinite may be,

It still can't encompass this complaint.

No matter the multi-variance of the matrix,

It won't calculate, for all its tricks, the calculus of my confusion.

 

I am one probable to die:

Before that likelihood lay squared into the distance,

But the differential of the limit changed:

It became, at a Hessian's fixed bayonet, infinitesimal.

 

I am termed thus irrational: in my mind numbers repeat perpetual.

Two Guides: One to the Future and the Other to the Past

 

A road wanders through a twisting wood,

While we the people follow down its way,

Our guide a man who tried to steer us good:

Ahead he watched while under-foot gave way.

So we another found to show us home,

But neither he nor we knew where it be,

So he took us ‘round another roam,

And piped while telling us that here we see…

 

Did ever we know where lay our journey’s end?

We follow foolish cares around the bend.

Old Men Are Empty Houses

 

Old men are empty houses,

With dark windows leading down deep souls

Old men are empty houses

With vacant voices sweeping lonely verandas

 

Old men are sagging houses

With broken backs bearing agéd burdens

Old men are sagging houses

With sunken floors easing slowly down

 

Old men are grey houses

With wispy grass winding in the wind

Old men are grey houses

Sallow skin showing silver days

 

Old men like old houses survive

Lives lived and passions died.

Juxtapositions

 

Hotter than a dog covered in mustard.

 

Colder than a beautiful woman just before the dawn.

 

Duller than a hunk a lead in a bucket of black paint.

 

Sharper than a razor slicing cheddar cheese.

 

Cooler than a blue ice cube.

 

Wittier than a whit of foxes.

 

Yellower than a lemon crossed with a canary.

 

 

Stories

 

Reminds me of the man who, on his favorite day of the week, would buy a copy of the newspaper for the day and reread it for a month so that every day might be as good as his best one.

 

 

The Miscarriage

 

I.

 

Life stills life ta’en from out the stillness,

Returning breath to empty mist, a liquid sigh.

 

What once gave life takes and drowns it.

Down in dusky undertow,

Far from what was near.

 

Hoping with baited breath

It steals the air from a scream of stress,

Leaving behind a whisper, faded inside,

Of desperateness.

 

What was closed now is open, yet held in half a state,

Empty fullness dwelling in despaired anticipation.

What was to be clutched, released, yet held in hope.

Is gone.

 

Hope lives that what was will once again be.

 

And yet it limping lies

Still

And

Empty.

It leaves nothing behind:

Vacant embrace.

 

Something mourns

Nothing

That was

Yet

Wasn’t

And never

Will

Be.

 

Can one love what never was?

 

II.

 

Held in imperfect perfection

Dwelling solely in the mind’s eye,

Sighted, recognized by blind Tiresias,

It floated the wine-dark sea.

 

What penny to pay Charon

For a gossamer load?

 

Yet here hope’s still hopes hope again,

With an anchor that hoves them down.

While sailing a sea of sighs

 

A mother’s love

Is

Always replaceable

Never replacing.

The Worm
A Baby Struggles to Crawl

 

The groundling twines his wormy ways

As winding about his baby body stays

Still and trembling.

 

His legs flail and desperately rail

Moving upwards, outwards, downwards trail

Never and nowhere.

 

The baby reddens his cry from legs to face

Ignorant of his body’s pace

Impotent and dumb.

 

His arms lie steady as trunks upon the forest floor

Like roots reaching down the earthly bore

Steady and deep.

 

The squawking chick shrieks trembling cries

As desperately seeks his body no longer to lie

Lame and mute.

 

With animal anger the child fusses and wails

As his humanity weakly fails.

And he lies unmoving.

 

 

 

Age

 

Loves forgotten as fading words upon a page,

As an ebbing waxing rage

As life plays its final acts upon the stage,

As the fire glows and dies inside the mortal cage,

As spirit finds few coins for anger's wage,

Then passion wanes, growing sage.

The Dog

 

There was a friend I knew

Who long ago had died,

But his dog,

Who ne'er could stand

To miss a single ride

By his master's side

Refused to go.

 

He lay before the door

Upon the old house floor

And refused to move.

 

Ev’ry time we pass

That old home way

The dog, now mine,

Still can’t help but sulk and lay.

Fallen on the ground,

And refuse to stray.

 

From time to time, I wonder:

who loves his friend the more?

 

A friend who can feel the touch of hand

And heat of breath

Passing by my face and

Hear his gentle voice

Singing in the wind:

Memory of his final days,

And still a man with human grace,

 

Or the dog waiting with panting breath

Who always expects ancient joys

Of loyal coming home,

Forgetting the moments in between,

Without memory of his master's death

Only instinctive, bated joy.

 

 

To Walker

 

A dirty bed beside my desk,

For a dirty dog,

Lies empty.

To the dirt he's gone.

 

As dust to dust,

So dog to dog:

He limped away

And lies about no more.

 

The bed he slept,

The faith he kept;

He keeps it still

In separate worlds:

 

The one below, his dirty bed,

Where down deep he lies.

The one above, in my head,

Where down deep he lies.

 

 

What’s Living in My house?

 

There’s Something Living in My House

It has taken me

It has shaken me

It has knocked me down.

 

There’s something living in my house

It has strayed up my son’s mouth
It has played his nose like a trumpet
It has flown out again.

 

There’s something living in my house

It has stolen my hunger

It has made it poisonous
It has run through me.

 

There’s something living in my house

It has flown into my lungs

It cries, rasping, grating, screeching howls

It has stamped down my breath.

 

There’s something living in my house

It has left this morning
As suddenly as it came
It was gone.


There was something living in my house

 

 

Swim Lessons

 

Drowning is silent and swift
Says the sign at the Y
As my son screams
Desperate not to swim
Like a turtle
With feet not webbed
As Odontochelys, the turtle ancestor
Whose tail pushed him through the water
Who was still learning how to be a turtle himself
And is now drowned
In the seas of time
Buoyed
By the memory of a boy
Who loves turtles, their ancestors and YouTube
But swims bittersweet
With longing and fear.

My son is not silent nor is he swift
He laughs as he screams
While the instructor drags him along
Most turtle unlike
Not even like Odontochelys
But like a boy
Who loves what he fears
And doesn’t know
How both to be and do
Silent and swift
Skills that come
Only after lessons
When no one is watching
When he will be bold
No longer either
A turtle
or
Afraid.

Doubting Thomas

 

They sat all around a table

All eleven

All in a circle

 

But for Thomas

Who was

Conspicuously Absent.

 

Then it happened.

 

Jesus,

In a light bright from heaven,

Appeared.

 

All but Thomas.

 

Later he asked for proof,

Doubting Thomas.

 

So much for faith.

 

Overwhelmed by a moment’s absence,

Its buoyant virtue sank,

Plunging Thomas into the abyss of doubt.

 

Or so the story goes.

 

We have to ask:

Did doubting Thomas

Really doubt?

 

Maybe he just wanted

What the others had.

Maybe he just wanted

What the others shared.

 

Maybe he was just:

Jealous.

 

And it,

The Envy,

Burned with intense,

Green Fire,

Burning everything away:

 

Faith,

Love,

Even God,

 

Until,

Like all men,

He begged for proof

Of what the others shared.

 

Yearning with

Intense speech to

Touch and have more

Than the Rest.

 

So that what we call

Thomas’s Doubt

Is really

 

Ever-human,

Ever-flawed,

Ever-failing,

Ever-needing

 

Love.

 

 

Ars gratia artis

 

Let pictures sing and sculptures dance,

In the thorny embrace of romance.

Let barbarian frenchmen die and later burghers cry,

As they go their fates to try.

Let pink, coquettish roses bloom,

Next to Cupid in Rococo swoon.

Let youth gaze from frozen stone

While Moses speaks a hammer-stroke alone.

Let not th’ obscure horse crush illumined Paul

In chiaroscuro’s lighted pall.

And most of all, let Theresea in ecstasy gleaming

Feel the barbéd arrow’s divine dreaming

Lo! Release your wonders into my soul

As I forget the world’s weighty toll.

 

-25 September ‘01

 

 

The Old Man and the Stone

 

An old man sat on a stone by the sea

While wind whispered in a lofty tree

A great sigh arose from there

Wafting on a breeze through the placid air

And I, myself, alone, like he

Went round to see if he whispering be

But there arriving found an empty rock

And a greyly forgotten lock.

 

-25 Sept. ‘01

Mure Momento Mori

 

I found a mouse dead
Outside my house
It died, fatigued,
Down in a corner.


Nothing had killed it,
Time spilt out its life,
Pouring out its end,
Its sand running out.

I smelled what he’d left.
Putrid, sour and old,

An odor so strong
I spoored it in the air.

 

Footprints heavy hanging

Wafted widely in the wind,

They led, finally found me,

The mouse’s tattered clothes.

 

It lay: spilt, deflated,

Not stiff with death’s rigor,
But soft in the corner,
A fur-coat abandoned.

 

I held my nose closed

While I froze, bending down
To lift and throw the rags
In their final chest.

 

As I paused and peered, I saw;

A maggot crawl inside

Its hollowed eye,

Then I knew

 

The tailor, who hungrily

Emptied out the skin,

Wriggled his communion,

Inhabiting the garment once again.

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