And have known
You must —
But settled pasts
Fear projects with
Of was and will be
And have known
You must —
But settled pasts
Fear projects with
Of was and will be
“You like sake!,” in heavily Japanese-accented English.
“Yes, I like sake,” looking into her eyes, showing mirth
Just short of smiling, trying to put some gravel in his
Self-diagnosed overly smooth voice. The third
Decanter. Tromacali hadn’t shown. She was undependable.
Hollywood. Waited for 2 hours after hitchhiking for
5 hours to get there, and she didn’t make the date.
He understood that it wasn’t because she wasn’t
In love with him. She was. But she lived more according
To ideas of things, of what she thought she needed
To experience, than by the way she felt in her heart,
Though nearly everything she thought she needed was
A hedonistic pleasure, with the limits ever expanding.
He had pretty much mastered the chopsticks now.
And he discovered that he liked sushi nearly as much
As he liked warm nihonshu. He had some cash from
Restringing a 7-foot Yamaha grand, so he thought he’d
Take Tromacali out bar hopping, but someone else must have
Invited her before he was able to get there. He walked
Up and down Hollywood Blvd. for a long while, stopped
At the big news stand and hit a couple book stores,
Then saw Japonica Japanese restaurant, a clean,
Well lighted place that seemed exotic. He decided
That this would be a good time to learn how to use
Chopsticks. Though he was under age, it was rare
For someone to ask him for ID when he bought
Alcoholic drinks so… “sake,” which he’d never tried,
Then awabi “barbecued,” on fire, sake
Flavor and abalone flesh, served in a conch
Shell, rice, lots of rice, anothel pot of lice, prease,
Ikura, salmon eggs, shii-take; tako with
Eight arms here resilient slices, possibly his
Favorite, uni, Italian delicacy for old men
To retain virility, gonads of sea urchin; tuna
Aka-mi, chuu-toro, o’o-toro; kappa-maki
Reminded him. Airline pilot, when Rhosonny
Had finished regulating his piano, brought out a
Tray of Johnnie Walker Black and toasted
Nori, both new to Rhosonny, both instantly
Liked, never forgotten. The pilot told him,
Though he’d never tried it, that the polite
Way is to eat sushi with one’s fingers, not
Chopsticks (though I believe this is now
Deemed “over polite”), so Rhosonny
Ate the sushi with his fingers, and taught
Himself how to use chopsticks
On the sashimi, tempura, and rice.
Rhosonny could consume large amounts
Of food without feeling full or gaining weight,
“The Human Garbage Disposal” his mother
Called him, for his habit, once everyone else
In the family had eaten, of finishing off all of the
Leftovers at the same sitting. And alcohol?
His introduction to whiskey was up in the hills.
Fred Cardsdale had come back from Nam without
One of his legs from the knee down, and with a new
Improved plastic throat from the day he got
Fragged on patrol. Once when a cop was about to
Arrest him for public drunkeness, Fred unstrapped
His leg and threw it at the cop. In stead of arresting
Him, the cop decided to just give him a ride home.
Fred knew how to take advantage of a disability,
And Fred liked to drink. A group of high-school kids
Would pool their money and give it to Fred, who would
Buy several bottles of cheap whiskey and challenge
Anybody to out chug whiskey against him. Most kids
Couldn’t even get half way through a pint. Fred’s
Formidable plastic throat allowed him to pour
The stuff practically straight into his stomach.
Rhosonny decided to practice in secret. One night
He challenged Fred to a chug contest and (a game
Well attested in the Icelandic Sagas. Egil, if I recall
Correctly, lost such a contest because his hosts
Watered their own drinks but not his — and his
Hangover in the morning was unacceptable, so he
Killed them all – and Rhosonny was at least half
Norweigan) tied Fred for the draining of a
Fifth of whiskey (unknown brand), which meant
He who vomited first lost. Rhosonny
Had eaten an enormous pot roast dinner
While Fred had likely eaten little or nothing.
Rhosonny waited for Fred to puke, then
Immediately followed suit. He was proud that he
Had been able to challenge such a tough guy
By the tough guy’s own rules. He’d always felt
That he, himself, was too soft, too smooth, too feminine,
Too sensitive, too accommodating, too polite,
Not butch enough. But a few days later
He regretted it. Fred didn’t have much to live for.
Getting free whisky by illegal buys and chugging
Was much of his life, and it was the one place
He reigned supreme. Rhosonny regretted having
Hurt him in this way. But he could hold liquor.
That party they gave his mother at the American
Legion bar, drinking scotch and soda after scotch and
Soda… Everyone knew he was under age, but he was
Naomi’s son, so they let it slide but she asked the
Bartender to keep an eye on the 17 yr old boy.
Later she told Rhosonny, “I’m mad at him for giving
You too much to drink.” Rhosonny said, oh,
I didn’t know it would cause him a problem.”
Naomi said, “He said you drank them like water
And, since he couldn’t see any change in you,
He figured that they weren’t having any effect,
But I know how drunk you got.”
She should know. She’d had a hard day.
When he got home from school, she was
Sitting at the kitchen table with two
Fifths of light rum. “One of these is yours.”
It took them several hours, but they drained both.
He was 15. Now, only close friends could tell he was
Drunk. Even then, they would only conclude that
He was drunk by his dulled intelligence, not
By his speech, which was never slurred or distorted,
Or by facial or body movements, which he kept
Frozen in a stone bust or Noh mask: people only
Asked him if he was stoned or drunk when
he was stone cold sober.
Sake by sake, fish by fish, rice by rice,
Rhosonny learned to control Japanese chop sticks.
After the fourth decanter, after the plates were all
Empty, Rhosonny bowed and smiled politely
At everyone in the room, which was mostly staff,
Who also bowed and smiled big smiles and
Let him know that they would like him to come back
Anytime. Then he stepped outside and started
Walking toward the freeway on-ramp to hitchhike home.
Trees? Titans. Silent? Sub- and super- sonic tuned
by branches sprouting trees in the sky, groves in the canopy.
(All quotations with page numbers are from Charles Olson, The Maximus Poems)
Seated by this shallow river
at what was its deep and mid point
The birds sound the same…
What was I thinking this morning?
When the wind dies down
though the water keeps moving and changing
the surface smooths, far hills reflect in it
with leaves, without snow. Then another
wind, a different course of air stirs the
surface up into a color blend.
Sound of only wind and water.
Then tractor sounds above and past
the trees on a ridge.
In an earthquake this bridge could easily come down.
The river would embrace it.
(Or Verazano has it,
courously, put down as
a mud bank
Appears a group of young women with small children
mostly naked, only bush and nipples covered
and lie along the river shore facing me
or wade into the water.
They peer curiously over at me.
The group moves somewhat closer,
all three lie facing me. The tops come off.
Infants’ laughter. Bird songs.
Just like that dragging
as we do
down, into the terrible
nature (the Divine
Inert, the literary man…
Now some guy walks up 20 meters away
and tosses his fishing line in the water, looking over
at me as though he wants my spot.
I smile at him.
Didn’t think Friday would be so eventful down here.
Sat down, planted
so they’ve stayed put
The women put their tops back on
and turn to face the other way.
as a fisherman’s
The fisherman suddenly leaves. Seems to feel
unwanted, angry, drives off with skidding wheels.
The women turn back toward me, and take their tops
off again. The only sounds are wind and water.
don’t find out the inert
is as gleaming as,
and as fat as,
Tops back on, walking the kids
toward me indirectly, on my blind
side then skirting around behind and
away down river as I write.
and came no near
I eat a sesame & poppy cracker
A car, blasting hip-hop
through its speakers,
stopped on the
Put the camembert away.
Eat the second cracker.
right there, said time, Descarte
‘s holding up
another hand and your own people
in this wilderness
not savages but thought
dogs with large voices bark
at the returning women and infants.
New women’s voices raised at the dogs.
Then skirting very close to me
three women, each with a dog
single file, prim, reserved along the river
each with a dog.
In front is Black Dress, black shoes, tatoos
then Hiker Woman, pants, hiking shoes
then Shorts, very short shorts, wearing sandals.
Shorts has to restrain her dog as she passes:
he wants to visit with me, check me out,
be my friend, I smile, say,
“he wants to visit” she smiles back
and giggles a yes then sways her hips
the rest of the way down the river
single file behind her companions.
Coming along paths
we just now
get our feet on, that space”
Then the wind, the birds, the river, the trees
shaking and dancing in the wind
until the child human voices enter
angry this time, upset, unhappy
then the voices of the mothers shushing
and scolding. It looks like I’ll be
alone again shortly.
The wind had veered to
the northeast and was
for Shantideva, André Breton, http://twitter.com/spgreenlaw, and http://twitter.com/cobwebsstir
From the vast expanse of mind and space
where all appearances gather on a cosmic stage
I make a perfect offering.
Thrusting a steel cup through its ice cover
I offer you a drink of dense cold water
from a pristine spring.
I offer you cauliflower and potatoes,
curried chick peas and pastries.
I offer you armagnac, cognac, scotch,
and all varieties of wine all
directly from the cask.
I offer you a redwood grove
fecund beyond imagination
absorbing all acoustic change.
I offer you lichens, crusty, hairy,
squamous, leaf-like in coral snake
and wildflower colors.
I offer you Sierras seated firmly
with white tops in deep blue sky.
I offer you an orange poppy
growing from the concrete jumble
of an abandoned field.
I offer you thundering engines.
I offer you precision circuits,
housed in sleek boxes.
I offer you an impulse leaping
from my blood, my vortex
of wanting and refusing.
I offer you a touch of fleece and silk
before a stoked and blazing furnace.
I offer you a yellow star
burning off the morning fog.
I offer you rivers, streams, and oceans;
headwaters of the Eel and Russian rivers.
I offer you disturbance and interruption,
anger and desire.
I offer you my body in full contact
brimming with perfections and imperfections.
I offer you everything I’ve lost.
I offer you a cool and gentle breeze
on a sultry day.
I offer you the toxic spill
in a stream by an apartment building.
I offer you refineries burning
off waste gas in a miasma of stench.
I offer you the hiss of wind in grass,
thunder, and heavy rain.
I offer you guitars, trumpets, bassoons,
tumbas and all the voices
I offer you this flaming globe
of wind-blown dust and water.
I offer you a solar system
in a galaxy at the edge
of a conscious mind.
I offer you the galaxy.
I offer you a poem.
[Awoke at 4:30 a.m. PST, Feb. 3, 2009, and wrote the above in a notebook while lying in bed. Considered not posting it because I want to work it significantly. But I've made it my practice to post rough, partly in order to overcome my aversion to others seeing my imperfections and partly to shut down my internal critic for a while until I feel strong enough to wrestle with him again. So, here it is.]
In the morning my meaning
Demands too much thought.
During the day
She’s just too busy.
In the evening
Playing with her friends
Becomes night, if I
Appear, and she wants to sleep.
There is no time for her
That’s good for me.
Morning is cold and crisp.
The garden hose has frozen.
Light spreads out through a sky
Turning black to pale blue.
Warmth seeps into
The frost-covered grass.
As love can be
Transformed into hatred
Exclusion becomes a
Source of freedom and bliss.
On hands and knees
Gripping new prospect
New solid that
As it dissolves, sugar
Cube in sweaty palm
Slag and chaff
Fouling the next net
Even nihilism comes
Undone: no basis
Through blowing leaves
Blank out in
When you dictated the terms
Of engagement, you snatched the
Dominant role: the switch
Subtle, deft, but unyielding.
With many acts of will
Combined with love, desire,
I’ve tried to let it be
what it is
Our true love was born in
Physical desire and attraction.
Without hope of consummation
That love is a phantom pain.
For some the act of submission
And the strict concern of a
Being condescending but caring
Brings feelings of freedom and love.
For me only raging turmoil results
Of what I am against what
I am trying falsely to be, to be
What I’m not just to have you:
It isn’t my nature to submit.
I am so deeply unhappy
The lovely finch there is no comfort;
This light rain in a swirling sky
Dancing Balinese wind chimes
Into a pure gamelon of tones
From it’s free-flowing tubes
Doesn’t move me. Humor has
Left me for another. My own
Sobbing just minutes ago doesn’t matter
Why is this? Is it because my
Woman has grown indifferent?
Because my songs aren’t loved?
Because the past is a series
Of failures and errors? Because
The sight of my own image
Fills me with disgust?
Because my corpse
Has already begun rotting?
These things are light things
I’ve learned to live with
In uneasy peace. The self
Loathing, the disgust are
Nothing, or at least at the limit.
The permeating void, the
Vacuum called the future,
The blankness of my past,
This moment right now
With no-one to be and nothing
Of value to give, concerned
With nothing but myself
And my own little feelings of
Woe in the midst of privilege —
Self pity, desire for attention,
Mismanagement of my gifts —
What make me unhappy.
When will I leave them behind
Like an old dead eye or tooth
In the vast expanse of mind without
Measure and being without self?
Or are they themselves merely
The blissful subject playing
Practical jokes on itself
Within an equation of joy and despair?
sky by Turner
soundtrack by Janequin
(Canto LXXV? voices not violin)
then only crickets
goats, no crickets
dog, no goat
wind in maples, no dog
twitters, different bird set
(this is a reprint)