04 June 2015



Where do they sleep?
A hovel? Perhaps a shelter.
Underneath a bridge or an overpass.
On cardboard.                     
His words were jumbled and the odour
Of ammonia cleaved to his skin
He didn't ask for food
But he took it.        
I gave him two dollars fare
A twenty spot for whatever, and
A piece of cardboard, replacement
For the shredded one he clung to.

I pointed toward town.
"Philly," he said in answer, Philly.

"The trolley stop is that way. 
It'll take you into Philly,

Who in hell's name did I think I was?
So what if he was leather-skinned
Drunk-eyed and disheveled,
At sixes and sevens
With the spinning world
This homeless man?
So what if his mangled presence frightened?
I practically ordered him out of the neighborhood.
Take this food, here's some money,
Not even quantity enough for the pauper that you are,
But leave. 
You have been hanging around haunting for too long.
You aren't safe on our street,
Not if the pigs get wind of your stink.

Here we have rose gardens.
I am a rose gardener myself.
This winter's ice air they succumbed,
My rose bushes.  Gone!
It was one cold motherfucking winter,
Wasn't it? 
How did you make it through, sleeping on cardboard?
Did you have blankets hidden somewhere?
Inside a trash bag inside a cart behind a dumpster?


On withered branches
Are rubbing against an artery.
Soon somewhere soon
In the middle of my chest
At the site without roses,
A rift—
It's what comes from the push and pull,
The hope and the relinquishing.
Those sweet approximations we're used to,
Whisper them
Lavish me with cardboard promises
I'll find reveries to exorcise fever

       the fragrance of lilacs will enter through half-shut windows

       softly plunging white lilacs flowering waterfalls
       lilac cascades displayed on the nightstand
       joyful, intoxicating
       fingertips playing with fingertips stroking    
       gentler than breeze  
       gently awakening

Locked Out

Easter day, April thirtieth

By then the troops were gone,
But the asphalt was scarred where tanks had been
We walked huddled together, taking the backstreets
The thin air of springtime
Redolent with the acrid scent of steel.
Low-lying clouds approached,
They were polluted, filling us with dread.

Even before then I had learned to expect the onslaught
Home never represented safety,
And the concept of hearth was something to sneer at.
Now, front doors were locked at my knocking                                                      
Friends became fearful, inhospitable
Too busy always, compartmentalizing always
"No, no, everything is fine," they would run

"I can sniff out pretext in my sleep," I told them
"Pretext is mother's hearth to me
Tell the truth and slice the jugular."


I see myself standing by the roadside.
From the expanse of marshes adjoining I-95
Wild geese have come to graze.
A small congregation of homeless gathers to beg.
Cars are speeding by, passengers avert their gaze.
I shout:
"Where are you going it's a hard life living on the streets it's scary"
Blue-eyed boy homeless Joe walks away from me.
"You gotta be nice if you wanna make a buck,"
He says. 
He's got business savvy, does Joe,
Got the smarts of a CEO. 
Too bad he's an addict.
No, not Joe,
Joe's just a dreamer caught in a nightmare
It's the CEO who's an addict.
"There is no place like home," said Dorothy.
If you have one, says I.   


A stumbling window shopper, that’s me. 
A spare meant to become superfluous 
Quixotic knight
There is a moat surrounding your house.
Even yesterday when you loved me
There was.

How was I to know,
You could have knocked me over with a feather—
But  today when you no longer love me
After I swore to you the wellspring cannot run dry

Now the spigot drips ever slowly
Too slowly to even be annoying.
In parting
Leaving takes place long before departure,
Before the chokehold of awareness  
And the loss to silence.

You’ll  jump beyond,
To the bare-nipple crest of the searise hill
Tender from rain and the brackish mist


I bent down to kiss her cheek

As always, she pulled away,
My hug repelled by spears in her elbows.
“Stay a while longer,” she asked on the Wednesday before she died.
A farmer’s daughter,
She knew how to pull up weeds.
Myself, I am a stubborn weed. 
She never conquered me,
Not even at the end, when she betrayed me.

She grew white roses, a penchant I inherited from her,
But smashing into storms is my own attribute, somehow.     


Growing where they aren’t wanted,
At the wrong address,
People beat them back
Useless as my words.

A lily isn’t home in a wheat field
Roses are roses because we turned them into such,
Once upon a time they were bramble at the edge.

From the rocky track, observing yet unobserved
I don’t need loamy soil to sustain me.
On the sidewalk across, a skirmish is played.   
Watching from paved wilderness

No loamy soil, no, instead a patch of dust, on dust
All I needed I asked a patch, only a patch
And worth it, so worth it, love from weeds
The wild purity, the quiet love for you, the want,

But adrift also, adrift,
Language adrift
Untruth against heart and spirit
Adrift from despair—
Forgive me
Though if too late, forgive that I love.
And the torture of this wandering wondering pounding
Pounce with smoothest balm of purple-red fire, cumulus steam
Beneath which homeless weeds,
Love bold as a weed
I love you,
And each day I revel as I reveal I love you
Mine and yours, each eccentricity
I love you,
Today, which is each day.

     in time

     tomorrow's sun will clear shadows
     the light beautiful
     beaming upon cuts so deep
     we will humble into bravery.