Death Mask

(The last known Member of the Native American Yahi People).

Old Marble Nose,
still talked
straight tongued,
red faced.

The Yahi clashed, red-white,
with the thin tin soldier
in their living room.

That old statue that the
Union sent sat
in Old Nose’s easy chair.
Just wouldn’t go home,
paid no rent,
cleaned out the refrigerator.
Now Ishi waits, moon faced.
Darkness is his domain,
and he shines for the conqueror moth.


Notes from the Underground

“That was Desolation Row” the announcer
says, “You’re listening to KPFK, Pacifica
Radio’ Los Angeles” It is one in the morning,
one more hour till Alan Watts, but first
another program, Tom Hayden denouncing
the Vietnam war and describing the
protests and violence at the DNC convention.

The underground was never the intention,
never a place to stay forever, just a metaphor
for several brands of insurrection and
revolution. The underground was a hideout
for our ideas and inventions, a try at reframing
the world, evolving our institutions, easily
tuned in by FBI agents, and CIA henchmen.

For some it was war, for some it was poverty
and racial injustice. There were several
species of ideology that found refuge behind
its buttress. We read the Free Press,
we attended rallies, some signed petitions
some met in alleys, a few declared peace
with strokes of pen and art hung in galleries.

In 1969 I found myself on the underground
railroad. It was neither underground nor
railroad. It was just a car, a driver with
a collar, I found myself in Canada with just
a few dollars. I needed time to think,
alone without bother, with a smorgasbord
of drugs, sometimes homeless and squalor.

I dreamed of a kinder and gentler world,
living in dome homes, living off nature,
drifting the seas of my imagination with
my sails unfurled. The revolution was
inside me, and I won. I found a peace in
myself, and have had it with me all
my life, rooted in the underground.

Equal Knocks

Everything being equal, let me tell you it is not. Does being equal mean, we all have had our share of knocks? Sure, I’ve had my knocks, but no one has judged my color, tried to lynch me, or lock me up.

I wish spring would mean the burying of all of winter’s terrible thoughts, starting with that horrible “boss,” who at times I wished dead, and no, I would be not sorry for his loss.

I wish with the emergence of flowers, and the flourishing of moss, that all irrational ideas, that made us demonstrate and march, be tossed into the landfill of bad ideas.

I am tired of living in a world interrupted, a place where desire and breath disrupted. Pull the blanket over my head, let me sleep, let spring, not winter, stir me from the deep. This great ape is weary, the troupe has moved on. They have dragged their possessions across the lawn, the reception is bad, and the food is gone.

I get crazy when the moon is new, and when it is full, and all those times in between. I’ve been beheaded, reheaded, and labeled obscene, I’m both bully and coward, always making a scene. I am not worthy of your pity or praise, though I seek it my loves, it is the object of my prey.

I refuse to wear black, that is so cliché, I am no more a goth than a man of the cloth, I am just the jester, the fool, trapped in a maze, reading poetry, hoping to attract. Come here my lovely moth, come here.

So, who comes knocking at the door at 1 AM? Yeah, it’s old man poetry. He won’t shut up, and he has a bottle of booze. He climbs in bed, whispers lies in my ears, and he farts and yawns when I try to snooze. He reads from a catalog of words, clipped from stories about nudes, and if that doesn’t work, he talks about food. My wife turns over in bed, asks, who the hell are you talking to?

I want to press my hand against the burner, think of your sweet skin as it caramelizes in fantasy, cover, and simmer, uncover, add spice, let boil till all juice has gone. Till all left is pulp, like leftover gray matter. Refrigerate for 8 hours. In the morning stir in coffee, a fresh grind, an orange rind and a fertile egg, shell, and all. Then mix with the smoke of tobacco, an eighth cup Tabasco, a handful of Jalisco, and a pint of menudo, that has been simmering in beer. Set aside a bottle of tequila.

Cook until scorched, wait for the gathering smoke, it is then you will find the words. You will pull them out of the air, and you will try to put them out with ink, and when ink runs out you will resort to lead, and when it dwindles down to nub, you will write with blood. Add that bottle of tequila, you’re almost done, time to eat that monster before it’s all gone. Oh, where were we? Was I cooking or making love, or just looking through prisms, shackled inside this alphabet prison, listening to doves.

Mourning an Angel

(1 of every 161 births results in stillbirth).

In the morning I am awakened
by what was born, what has died.
It is appropriate in this dawn
that what was given now denies.
It was what I did or not do before.
Lost courage and then cried.
Born and died.

Dark as light reveals its shadows.
There is a revelation to mourn.
A nest is bare, chicks are dead.
There was a Steller’s feast this morn.
Cousin crows murder and mob.
Hawks flee the corvids scorn.
Alive then dead, dead then alive

Stillborn brushed on still life.
A baby, but no baby cries.
Muffled in utero, swaddled in strife.
Who is responsible for this demise?
No longer husband, no longer wife.
An empty cradle and empty eyes.
Sighs and sobs, sobs, and sighs.

Grief, relief, heartbeat, and thief.
Who took the young from the nest?
Was it the Steller or snake aperitif,
Natural selection or a God’s ugly test?
This horror manifested shadows belief.
The crows and jays hide behind leaf.
Ingest and digest, digest and ingest.

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