As Turkmen women squat, their shoulders touch
Almost. The mothers work with daughters. Tea
Provides the sustenance of chat for such
An hour of knotting carpets yet to be.

The sheep are gray with dirt. The wool is coarse
To last a hundred years in richness red,
Blacks, browns, whites, earth-tones, patterns, lightness, force,
Shall deepen, as their feet, and decades, tread.

The mothers will get darker. Daughters take
Their places. Younger girls come in the line.
The carpets for each generation's sake
Grow brighter, floors and family define.

The women work for color past their end.
Time is their enemy, but carpet's friend.


For a new friend met on the internet:
I have no picture of you, cannot praise
The color of your hair, the feel of skin.
How can two people, who've spent zero days
Together, know what lies with-out, or -in?

Your mind led fingertips that touched the keys
And sent your pulses through electric wires:
A thousand miles of conductivities
Until my fingertips touched your desires.

Thus did I learn the answer to the question
Of how two minds make contact from afar:
Not beauty, nor the act of more-or-lesstion,
But heart-head-word-linked, am I like you are?

We're bound by our ideas. They are more
Than poet-praised good looks could make adore.
               January, 1999

First Greeting
We look from far away, and do not know
What we should do, exactly, after all
This year of separation, even though
The choice is small: to kiss, or stall.

Approaching, I am awkward; you are nervous.
So long ago we spent a week in love,
But time does have the tendency to swerve us,
And cloud anticipations long thought of.

A trinity we are as we come near:
Friends, strangers, lovers, which is more?
What should we say, and how will we appear?
This moment can change all that came before.

No, we're together, kiss, or not, won't mar
What we've long seen from far, for here we are.
June, 1999

Sonnet on a pair of earrings, for Jessica, Christmas 1998
I found the waves that had caressed your ears
While gathering some, and casting rest away
Of scattered shells, the memories of two years:
Those you had left, beneath those leavings, lay.

I kept those swirling, tear-dropped pendants then
First tended, worlds of travel left to slack
Until when I returned to you again
They'd tarnished so that you'd not have them back.

I rediscovered, here, such waves again
A thousand, mille, and tysyach miles from our
Once-dreamed-of present-future once and then
They all came crashing back to my watch tower

Fresh-water pearl-tipped tide-curl spun in gold
Can't tarnish; just the dreams, and we, grow old.



Great Annapurnas glowed pink in the dawn;
Gray monkeys ran like temple steps for miles;
Dirt children grabbed my hand to pull me on;
Tibetan girls sold handicrafts with smiles.

If every time I'd thought of you, I'd bought
A small Nepali trinket as a gift -
A little nothing, just an afterthought -
So light a child, a mouse, the wind could lift,

Then I could not have carried, to depart
The mass of baggage, huge, I would have made.
Though flying on the lightness of my heart
Yet grounded by these goods, I would have stayed.

And weighted, waited for the day that we
Could be together, all these wonders see.
               January, 1998



In sleep, the dreams of you have varied thus:
Two times I held your hand, warm, silky such
Long fingers, woven mine, belonged to us.
And many times we smiled, without a touch.

Just once, last night, we held each other 'round
As one. Your sweater wrapped us both. No fears.
Our lips, as 'twere our minds together bound,
Were one. I dreamed in joy and woke in tears.

In dreams again to me you'll make your way
That distance lying between have and thought,
And asked when I'd wish wake again, I'll say,
If all my sleep could stay this dream, I'd not.

But all these sleeping wishes I forsake
For such dream moments, thus, with you awake.
               November 18, 1995


The past is changeable as what's to come.
We choose what to remember, what forget.
The dead don't rise to chastise us; they're dumb
As babies we begot, but will not get.

We've not, and have, rewritten books and names,
Burned buildings, melted monuments, retrained
The ways of animals, and streams. The blames
Of history are, unlike mercy, strained.

Was ever victor wrong? All human kinds
Who could remember pain died with resolve.
Survivors were the ones who changed their minds;
Those who recalled their ills did not evolve.

Poor fortune tellers are no more deranged
Than those who say the past cannot be changed.


Sonnet to Victoria Blaszczak
(After a dinner-theatre performance involving a ship-board mystery, the actress took off the hat she had been wearing and from beneath it came a cascade of red-brown, chestnut hair, suddenly changing her from a pretend "countess," to one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen.)

The evening done, the ship a pub again
The passengers turned rats, a pumpkin there,
A countess Cinderella (as seen when
The evening had begun) let down her hair,

Surrendered up the gown, and lost the gold
Fare-welled her accent, the excitement trailed
With audience's warmth, the player cold
Would miss the glamour that the playing entailed.

But when that pull and toss could thus enable
That beauty loose from fetter of false fancy
To falling-free auburn-touched red like sable
How could it be thought all this play'd enhanced thee?

And like those tresses, out of stage-lights' hue
Are the more beautiful, for being real, you.


(The woman of the previous poem, had said we should go out for coffee sometime, but after I'd sent her that poem, and gotten no response at all, I wrote her this next one.)

Perhaps if a sonnet won't do
A limerick might convince you to
Call me to chat
I asked only that
If this fails then I'll try haiku.



The countess in the painting shares the name of her on screen,
But the figure on our actress isn't what that painter's seen.
The rounded belly, fecund hips that once were thought sublime
Don't match this large-breast thin-waist beauty standard of our time.

This Louis XV costume period movie's full of lies.
They move, address, and look in no way Louis'd recognize.
They're speaking L.A. English; we can't trust our ears or eyes.

But we request the modern tongue to know their heads and hearts
Some ancient French would harm the talking-picture-story arts.
We change the talking, so, too, we must chanqe the picture parts.

The story is of intrigue, deadly passion, and seduction
For me to feel her magnet-pull requires the waist reduction.

That feeling she evoked in sixteenth-century Versailles
Was one of charm and beauty to a different, earlier eye.
The truth is not in history, but in our lust elation.
The image, even more than word, is better in translation.


Ode to the controllers
The student's new; the day is clear; the needles are alive,
and on the run-up ramp we wait,
because we're number five.

With eight jets on the ILS
Six students out trying their best
Left pattern, but with small success
I know the tower must be stressed

They keep them separate, and safe
But how, who really knows?
And so, I'm sheepish, when I ask,
"Could we have touch and goes?"

And yet, they try, and in we squeeze
But taking off the crosswinds seize
And toss us 'round, it's not with ease,
That I say, "Try wings level, please."

I need to talk my student through: "Look right, turn left, set power,
Trim, checklist, GUMPS, arc, notch of flaps, speed, scan, crab, call the tower."

When from the noise of my headset,
a voice of little cheer,
That says "Four Echo Charlie, Hanscom
Tow'r, how do you hear?"
The student naively replies
"We've got you loud and clear,"
But I just know the controller's saying,
"You up there drinking beer?

"I've tried you several times to say
That there's a jet headed your way
So listen so that, loud and clear,
You won't become Citation smear."

Sometimes the pilots get annoyed
When they say, "Hold five out
And call me in ten minutes 'cause
We're busy here about."

And they snap, too, when we screw up,
Or if we don't reply,
Or when their expectation of us
Isn't how we fly

But sev'ral hours, ev'ry day
In them, not god, we trust
And if I had to keep in mind
12 planes, I'd be nonplussed.

So thank you to controllers,
You show us what you're worth
We'll try to do in th' heavens, what
You're willing us from earth.

Many a catnap I've caught on this couch
And I see that's it's now catching you.
Heavy-lid tease, it's the zenith of Z's
A cross between opium and glue,
Black as black hole, soft as bedroll,
Lulling as floating canoe.
Sit, when awake, one big mistake,
It won't take five minutes: adieu.
March, 2002



Garage Sale
The CDs, "Two for five or five for ten"
That I bought as an excited child
New from BMG, the music club
Nine for the price of one, with nothing more to buy, ever!

People picking over my past
They're picky, but cheap

The one woman must be blind because
She clearly senses by touch: each plate, each sweater,
And all these things that I got from garage sales
Plate set, ten dollars, now tenty, but I'd be
Willing to go to fifteen. Otherwise I'll give them to my uncle.
I'm living in his apartment.
He doesn't have a garage. Or a plate set.
At least not one that matches.

The microwave would make a nice paperweight
Public radio give-away coffee mugs

They're hoping for the matches - the people
Who come in - hoping that what we happen to have matches what the might want if they stretch their imaginations.
That's just exactly the kind of stuffed rabbit I've been looking for.
I just knew this was the place to come to find a candle with four wicks,
Twelve-year-old mouse pad, leopard-print belt, pool umbrella without a stand,
Tree stump table, shot glasses that say, "Flagstaff, Arizona"
Framed print of April 1920 cover of Vogue Magazine
Someone else's clothes.
It's like we pirates, in our mistaken ways,
Erroneously raided a Goodwill
And now we're trying to fence it.

And when it's all done, there's still so much left over.
Now what are we gonna do with all this crap?
Give it back to the Goodwill!
Nothing more to buy, ever.
- 2000


Limerick: Beware
She called and she said to be there.
So you went, and it shows that you care.
But it might have been smart
If she'd said from the start -
To be there, what she meant, then: be where?


Night Owls
But some people never need to sleep, I'm told.
Their family path somehow missed
being chased by saber-toothed tigers, and bears,
or simply being bored into mind-numbness in their caves
by the fire, with their spouses who curled up with them
and came to love and mate
with someone else who lay down and slept.

And I who live in my air-conditioned apartment
surrounded by books, by films that show only after darkness,
stay awake beneath my filament-artificial sun
pressed to continue preparing classes
and grading papers written by students
who also would like to get more sleep,
as I stave off the threat of not being able to pay
for the books and the appliances, wish
at 2 a.m.
that I were threatened by bears,
and saber-tooth tigers
in my cave where my best defense would be
to sleep.


We could run faster if our hind legs were shorter.
I cannot even touch my toes, much less imagine
bending easily at the waist to run on all fours.
Fat dogs, and rabbits, and even alligators, the ranger tells us,
run faster than humans, for short distances.
We are the champions of the two-legged race.
Bears stand, and monkeys, and birds who know better
Than even to try to run.
And once I saw an elephant in the zoo
forced up onto her rear barrels
and take a couple morose, exerted steps
before falling back relieved to her accustomed stance,
but none of them could sprint the hundred meters
with an olympic stride.
They go on four legs and wings, and wonder we can be so slow.
We chose to use our forepaws to hold.
Other animals have to carry things in their mouths:
a twig for a nest, a dead mouse, a bone.
I try to imagine myself coming out of the supermarket last night
holding my plastic bags slung from my lower jaw,
Tom Sawyer carrying Becky Thatcher's books, the strap
clenched between his teeth,
high school students collecting their diplomas
from the mouths of principals, and holding them
gently within their smiles,
waitresses removing plates from restaurant tables one by one,
a family collecting picnic baskets and cloths in their jaws
and trundling on all fours back to the car.
               July, 1999 (based on Billy Collins)


Lisboa, 1990
An hour is enough to wait
To know that she won't come
To drink a bottle of red wine
And write poetry on the tablecloth
The moments of genius and inspiration
Fleeting, jumping by like fireflies
The blue tile passing dazzling spells through my eyes
A fevered, frantic mind at work
Running up the cobbled streets
Running on the flow of a pen
The ink spilling faster than red wine
With more urgency than the desire
For her who did not come.
               June, 1999


101 %
Though freckles, foreign accents, hair and height I might have chosen,
The night I met you what got me: your little upturned nosen.
In days that followed it made my desire grow by half
The other fifty-one percent I gathered from your laugh.

I swear, my love, I am not stalking you, 8,000 miles away.
Nor am I so unrealistic as to find
That you believe that any bonds at such a distance stay
Nor worry that I can't leave dreams of you behind
Or that I have no other friends or loves, or am obsessed.
Indeed my busy life goes on, but all the while
The image of your laugh, your touch, your face have so impressed
A day does not go by, that I don't think of you, and smile.



(To a friend being hit on in Paris):
If French men are a bothersome bore
Bulky sweatshirts will hide you much more
Use a hat and sunglasses
Loose pants hide your ass, is
This working? No? Try a chador.


Keeping time
(On the occasion of my father's retirement)

The campus, quiet, waiting, listening, before he leaves, he sees
In the start of the summer, the emptiness strange.
It's just a pause. And even so, the squirrels run.
And enough has been done. And it's time for a change.

The shadows long, but still sun lights the hills,
Those great surges of green grown with sidewalks and buildings.
All white in winter, gray at solstice twilight,
And the mountains which always were there
(But which he didn't notice when the grades were due)
As foundations and backdrops of many commencements
Are keeping time.

This is my home. These grassy lawns, these granite dorms, this solemn chapel.
And the strength of the hills is his also, I know.
The open emptiness of Johnson with its metal smell
Where my office looked out on the square
For twenty years. And then ten more in cellar-space and cyberspace
In the Synclavier studio, hidden from ambient sound, and from light.

I called them: "Come to me, my students!
Let us listen to Mozart! As though he had known of John Cage!"
And listen to your world, as though it were a piece of music just for you.
And some listened, and heard what they hadn't before, and they knew.
They knew the message of the rhythm, felt the tears of beauty understood.
It is love! It is art! If I've given you this...
The thought will not complete. Those former students must, themselves, keep time.

So he stands; then he goes, and he feels he is one:
For no one there applauds his final bow.
In the start of the summer, the classes and music are done.
It's fitting that it should be quiet, now.
               May, 1997



The man talks to the woman

Tell me what blue looks like to you.
Oh, don't tell me the sky is blue,
That the ocean is a flat
Blue mountain of your eyes' clear hue.
I know all that.
I want to know if what you see
Is what I see from view of me.
No? You don't know for light?
All right.
Taste this. Go on, I know
You have a chocolate craving
Powerful. But what's the tow?
I find the stuff not so enslaving.
So it must fall on you to show
Me how it is I'm not behaving
Like a human. No?
Our tastebuds have a different bite.
All right.
Then tell me what it is you smell
In gardens full of roses.
I need to know exactly, tell
Me that at least our noses
Are the same, so that which grows is
Going to impact us just so for bad or well.
No? So scent is no more recondite.
All right.
At last, though, A440, we'll agree
Is just the same for you, as me.
Your ears are mine
Unless your sawtooth is my sine.
We have no way of knowing if it be.
No? Then sound provides us no insight.
All right.
Describe to me an orgasm, complete.
Be scientific, definite, concrete.
I'll know you're having one, that you
Are living my experience, and need it, need it, as I do.
We took an oath,
Now isn't that the same thing for us both?
We speak a name...
Or is it that there is no "us"?
Not one thing that we can discuss
In which our terms will be the same.
It seems unlikely that tonight
The truth will out.
All right.
What do you want to talk about?
               1995-September 15, 1996


Cab driver says to me,
"I'm an academic, got a Ph.D.
I taught at the university
But I've got to support my family.

"My knowledge was hard won.
My brilliant career had just begun,
But there's dollars for doing the airport run.
My only concern's my daughter and son.

"Will they grow up to be cab drivers, too?
Without educations what can they do?
We don't pay enough for our teachers to live,
So our kids will grow up to be unproductive.

"The money will stop when our kids cannot work.
I know I am guilty; I feel like a jerk,
But in a week I make
What would otherwise take
me years.
I'm at the mercy of the black marketeers."
               Spring, 1996



In this desert of poverty there's no oasis of wealth,
Where earth is dust, and silent mountains brown.
By the sound of the chickens and tractors, the children are ar-
guing. Adults do not reflect. They live,
As they've lived in this gray, slowing place. It is normal for them:
The heat, the dry, the smell of gas, the dust.
When the deputy mayor comes to visit the Peace Corps trainees,
He leaves his tiny car, and walks. He goes--
As important as any are here--through the eye of a needle.
In his apartment, Nikolai, a man.
He is smoking, and thinking, of 50 years gone since the war.
He fought against the Germans. Now he's here.
And my "host mother" looks out the window with me, and we see
The same dead bus, the same white plaster, same
Turkmen flag over dust-covered leaves, rows of houses, and hills.
It's not what she sees. She sees out there
When a long time ago, how a Turk, stopping, cursed her by stop-
-ping here. And then a Mongol. Russian. All
With vendettas, her parents, now dead, held that curse up for her.
She's twenty-six, no hope to marry now.
She just looks out the window and sees rows of houses and hills.
The poorest city of my homeland not
In compare with this country, this habit, this Turkmenistan.
               September, 1995

Tusuque took a stranger telling names
Away to know a woman for a day.
Maybe a loved respite from traveling games
May give poetic justice to the way.
You know, (of course the Y must be for You)
Good nights of warmth and space were left behind.
Only some company, and sunrise, New
Mexico color offered, to remind
Each moving, lonely person that there are
Zeniths on silent road nights, friends afar.
               June 17, 1991



Could this be
Or bandits in the Ministry?

Back from Thai,
Through the sky,
Passengers are stopping - Why?

Fill out form:
Please inform:
Have you felt out of the norm?

Don't complain,
Where's my brain?
Ev'ry traveler's felt the pain!

People stick,
Ten rows thick---
I'm the only one 'got sick?

Japan's ways:
Doctor says,
"You must stay here sixteen days."

This law's great!
It's in date,
Since Tokugawa Shogunate.

Just their style:
Try to smile
During lock-up without trial.

Being nice
May suffice,
But you should take this advice:

Coming through
Don't tell true!
Immigration's watching you!

Don't drink spit!
Don't eat shit!
No great good will come of it!
               March, 1990


The snow that fell this mid-November,
To cover things alive, around,
I stared out over the windowsill
Upon, until
I gently fell to remember
That winter, like little lives, falling on the ground.

The white sky, gray air, silent now,
Led me two years away.
So long? It was. I walked, holding your hand,
In the quiet cold, and
I loved you more than I'd allow
Myself to say, on that December, snowy January day.
               November, 1986



Come to me, my love, and you shall be
Among the fascinations of the Earth:
The talking horses from beneath the sea,
And trolls, and creatures from the songs of mirth.

The President is serving drinks tonight;
The King, in tails, announces every guest,
While Lucifer, himself, may choose to light
The candles, made by Rembrandt for our fest.

The Wicked Witch seeks shelter from the rain,
While there, the Scarecrow's catching rays of sun.
He says, if he had only had a brain,
Then we may not have had the same such fun.

And you will chat with voices in the walls,
And dance with Carroll's mome;
Cleopatra will escort you through the halls,
And I will take you home.

There Tarzan speaks in signs with Gentle Ben,
Here Shakespeare's telling jokes to Orson Welles,
And Tutankhamen sings with Barb and Ken,
Above the stories Percy Shelley tells.

What's your name---Pan you say? Oh, call me Pete;
And who's that, taking Bernard Shaw through hell?
Perhaps Maid Marion on tiptoed feet,
Politely pulling mussels from a shell.

So you can chat with voices in the walls,
And dance with Carroll's mome;
Cleopatra will escort you through the halls,
And I will take you home.

Mark Twain, and Elvis, Edgar Allan Poe,
And hobbits, playing basketball with elves,
Will not be bothered, if away we go,
To find a little fantasy ourselves.

So, you may chat with voices in the walls,
And dance with Carroll's mome,
Cleopatra may escort you through the halls,
But I will take you home.
And I will take you home.
               S.C.T. 1/26/1986 c. 3:00 a.m.

Note written to Janet Jacoby, on the poem that follows: 'I recall that when I wrote it, I was in freshman English, and based each section on one of the poets we'd read. I wouldn't recall what they all are now, but the notes scrawled on the first page of the roughest draft suggest this: the first part is heroic verse. Below, is a Spenserian sonnet, followed by iambic tetrameter couplets (which could be just about any poet, but the notes say, "Marlowe's 'Passionate Shepherd'"), then a Donne song, then bits based (in form) on Ben Jonson's "To Celia," Herrick's "To the virgins to make much of time," Herbert's "Virtue" (in which, "For thou must laugh" is my substitution for, "For thou must die"), followed by a long passage of blank verse (Shakespeare or Milton: again, in form--I made no claims concerning quality), and the final invite again in iambic tetrameter couplets, which the notes then point to as coming from Marvell's "The Garden."'

A day of music celebrate we here:
The birth of friends, the feeling of them near
The songs of warmth, the comfort and the cheer
That time of joy, the first night of the year

To celebrate the day of music we,
With hopeful hearts, unworthy though we are
With all respect, request your company
On that day when we'll gather from afar
With outstretched arms, those friends we often feel
Are never near enough, though sometimes near,
And those enwrapped only in memory's seal,
To hold them closer to us, now, and here.
We'll bring them from the past, like memories,
New polished by our eyes' more honest view
Changed in time by forgotten histories;
Our memories will change, seeing them anew.
In them, we see ourselves as in a glass,
Rememb'ring not the change that's come to pass.

Fresh winter will its blanket whyte have spred
That sun may growe upon it in the day,
And moon may light all pathes on evening's bed
When I, the traveler, take thee then awaye
To ride on moonlight's glowing silver waye
To parts well known, to mountains high in view,
In sweete Vermont, with thee sometime to stay.
Thy home I'll find, and with respect that's due
Give greetings to your family--and you:
And you I'll merely smile at, first, then hold
You warmly as I've often longed to do.
And bonded we will frighten off the cold
Of icy distance, which keeps us apart
In months when all that holds us is the heart.

Then welcome you with smiles and cheer
My family will when you appear
And show to you the hills and fields,
The past'ral pleasures Vermont yields.

The sun will show its falling colors; then,
We'll fly into the spirit of the eve,
Like youngsters, rising from the sleeper's den,
The promise of the future we'll achieve.
Let plenteous bounty set the New Year's board!
Let roast and duck be laid, and wine be poured!
And offer up to all, the lowest not to be ignored.

The meat will be but rare and spiced
Though lean, 't will not be thin
No one will envy others' feasts;
All know there's more within.
Champagne will flow: old, clear, and iced
And make our worries spin.
O! We'll indulge so that the priests
Will think it all a sin.

And after rich and just desserts
To Ripton we'll be going,
Where all our past and present hurts
From memory will be flowing.

In quick-tempo songs of dance
The music will fly off the staff
Musicians' smiles the notes enhance
For thou must laugh.

The town hall will fling wide its schoolhouse doors
Inviting all to come and join the dance
We'll enter in the foyer where our coats
We'll lay with all the others in a heap,
That by that they, like us, will be enjoined
With peers, as formal hanging won't allow.
We'll fall into the arms of unknown friends
Who'll guide us with their hands and words inside
To join with those already brought within.
Then celebrate we with them our good cheer.
With dance, and song, the music played for us
By wandering minstrels from the garden of
Vermont: the last of those, with cherub cheeks
And twinkling eyes, and beards grown out of care;
With magic hands which play old strings as if
They'd lived forever and were there, to help
Create the violin, piano, and
Guitar, the flute, and yea the wheel itself,
So grounded in the earth and time they are.
And as the music swirls, then so shall we,
And so shall time, as night runs toward the hour
When new and old must meet, when one shall die,
That, like the Phoenix, th' other may be born.
So comes the wheel full circle, and like ours,
It shall remain unbroken as our smiles.
With songs of past and present we will look
Toward futures and forgive the time, for it
Like all it touches starts anew when it
Comes to an end. When dancing hours are done
And we have reveled to our highest joy,
We'll go back down the mountain, just we two,
T'enjoy each other's company, alone.
The roaring fire will be the only sound,
The Christmas tree and moon the only light.
We'll speak of young and old, of Eve, of light,
Of music, heard in everything, of champs,
Of losers, art, and sleep. As our minds fall,
Thus, swept into the blessed dark we'll be
And dream of silent little miracles.

I hope you find it in your heart
To come, to join and be a part,
Of this fair vision, which I write,
For you, alone, can make it right.
Consent to come, and be my guest
At this our January fest,
And you'll be treated to such glee,
You'll think we all are family.

Our celebration only can be fair
If by your presence you will grace our lair
That, by you, we can throw off all our care,
And promise you an eve divinely rare.
               Winter, 1982


When butterflies cascade o'er heaven's light,
And day flowers bloom in season's blackest night,
O! Pretty flowers, grass and honeycomb,
Where humblebees find nectar whe'ere they roam,
When life becomes as beautiful as day,
That nothing, methinks, could stand in its way,
As it goes fleeting by toward glory high,
To head for truth where all the virgins sigh,
Where an eternity can just be seen
In beauty of the leaves so full and green;
If man will realize his truest fate,
In knowing love from only his true mate;
When rivers flow to oceans great and wide,
With flowers bedded there, then, by their side:
Then I will realize that I have writ,
Without a doubt, the biggest piece of shit.
               Autumn, 1982



O, God.
What the hell
Am I doing here?

Who, the?
Look at her!
Quite a night, I'd guess.

One, two,
Many drinks,
One too many drinks.

My head.
Down I ache.
Wonder who she is?
               Autumn, 1982


Poems written when I was in high school:



You were not meant for ribbons.
nor flowers,
nor colors,
nor honey in your hair.
I see no dress, no flowing white,
When dreaming's eye sees you.
I see the picture, not of girls,
I hear no picturesque sonatas;
You could not keep with such as they,
They could not keep with such as you.
My vast imagination takes me not so far,
To think that you could wear,
a ribbon,
such nonsense,
A speck that would but tarnish
All it is you were,
And are.

But I have seen they ladies,
The beauties, so they've told me.
They dressed in finest finery:
in laces,
in ribbons,
in perfumes, all which did but harm them, all
which did them harm.
The harm that they'd remember when
The laces long were lost,
The beauty taken off.

But who can don such beauty,
When one sees clear, and knows,
Who sees how thick the paint is,
Who knows how far paint goes?
Not one of them whose lips could not hold faith.
Fear not, and trust.
I love you all the more, for
You were not meant for ribbons.



We started class out right,
In the morning, not the afternoon.
I've tried to learn a poet's creed,
But I've found I can't write or jot down ideas.
Effectively, I'm a poetic fool:
Like the carpenter's saw, merely a brainless device.

And so I started my first verse,
But then it went from bad to not much better:

"The moon rose quickly,
The night did start,
I said 'I love you
With all my reasons for living,
I love like the moon,
I sing the tune,
I'll love in July
As I loved in mid-february.'
I took her hand, as it was dutiful,
I looked in her eyes, and she was unimpressed,
And got up, and walked away,
So I thought about another bummer for me."

I handed it in, and got an F
So I showed it to Jim, and Joe, and Herbert:
"It is terrible," they agreed,
So I went back to my poet's lessons.

I still don't know what I've done wrong,
It would be great as lyrics for a ballad.

But the words aren't right
I know now,
So I return to the real world,
Of Math, and Physics, not sappiness,
To find life, liberty, and the pursuit of
Extracurricular activities.

And at the risk of presenting a jerk,
I now present my whole life's work:
Bad poetry.
               Spring, 1982



Two faces.
I wonder what my face looks like,
Staring out, unchanging at all time.
One facade, another life,
Two houses, hypnotizing to each others' eyes
But never smiles.
As two lovers, seeing since their birth
Each others' only eyes.

Do you see me, as we stare?
I see your face, your eyes, your sense,
And do you think, as I, and never move?
And can you tell I love you? You're
The only thing I know;
I've seen you since I came.
If only I could open forth a door,
And say one word,
Or bang a shutter twice
To blink,
To let you know I'm here.
But I am dead, and you can only stare.

I will leave you, once,
Or worse, you will leave me.
And I must, uncomplaining, see
A something other than you are to me.
And then, we will be forced to not say a good bye.
And someday, we will never know.
               Spring, 1982

YEP (Hillbilly Zen)

I think I'll hatch this rock.
That's what I'm gonna do.
This rock's been here a good
Time. And never hatched.
Mebbe all it needed was some help.
I'm gonna sit right here.
'pon this rock.
'til it hatches.
Wut if it ne-er hatches?
Then that's how long I'll sit.
               Spring, 1982


I gave my sightless friend,
A painting for her birthday.
"What is it of?" she asked.
It is a canvas,
As tall as I,
As wide as you are tall,
And it is all bright blue,
As you remember blue,
From when you could see me as I see you.
But in the very center,
In words of no more size
Than I could paint with smallest brush,
I have spelled out,
"I love you."
And then she cried,
But then I knew,
That she could see the painting clear as I.
               Spring, 1982



The priest drove leisurely to church on Sunday,
After eating well.
His sermon was prepared,
The people waited for him in the church,
And he looked forward to his talk with God.
He parked his car just as the rain began.

The cherokee climbed up the mountain's side,
Slowly easing himself up until he reached the peak.
He stared into the sun and spread his arms,
And stood in meditative rest,
As he chanted and chanted and chanted.
He would be ready for his death.

The spartan warrior looked skyward:
He wished to see his Goddess,
To ask for strength and glory at his war.
He sacrificed his largest ram,
And shouted for Athena,
As only soldiers will.
Help him, Athena, Help him, Athena.

The pharaoh laid his son upon the altar,
Demanding and pleading the children might live.
His son would not awaken,
So pharaoh touched the icon and,
Went out into the sun to ask

The early man slogged to his cave.
He dragged behind the boar
That he and another had cornered that day.
The early man was injured,
For though the boar was wounded when they found it,
It did not surrender its life without cause.
They had to beat the boar with sticks,
For time as they would not recall,
Before it would cease to fight back at the men.
They tore the animal apart
And took as much as they could get
To throw to their lairs, to give to their mates.

The night grew darker as the storm appeared,
And early man moved from his cave to see the storm.
He sat on the ground, the light hair of his body full out.
The rain flowed down the hill into the cave,
And man, he understood this;
The water had come into his cave before.
As he looked out, he heard a sound
That he had never heard
And saw the great light that flashed down from the sky.
The tree before him suddenly was warm
And it was day, though it was night.
The witnessing man stood in awe.
A branch fell to the ground before him, and
He touched it, giving him great pain.
He angered and kicked at it.
It then was bright upon but one end.
He lifted it and stared, then ran into the cave,
To show to the others who slept in the cave.

They saw but could not understand.
They ran to see the sun upon the ground.
They looked to the light bearer, questioning.

He pointed his stick to the sky,
All eyes turned toward the heavens...

The priest slammed shut the door of his machine,
And made his way up to the church.
He had no umbrella, but he didn't hurry,
For he was in good spirits.
As he did then,
He often had mused and was cheered by small wonders,
He gazed upon his car, at how amazing it was.
How far man has progressed, he thought,
We build these machines and get metals from earth.
And even smaller things.
We understand
Kinetics of rainfall and simple mechanics of lightning.

He smiled, then turned and went through massive doors
Into the church, to praise God, as the rain
               Autumn, 1981