When heads spin
fist fits sift--
funneling thunder lifts--
Inspired rootburst jovilluminating
Skyeyes summerrun voluptium fantasculate
Bremendus Brahminform aleap
Mockasins slipslap rustduff
One hundred forty-four elephants
and seventeen gold chariots
led each by eleven lions
outsize sound in stampede.
Drunkards' blood-lust cries goad
as the heads of assassinated criminals
and tens of thousands of open mouths howl.
Vendors' spices burned lessen stenches;
played sausage link entrails
in screaming conflagrations;
slaves running in rolling iron cages
jab at large exotic animals
amid the bellows of the butchering
and the butchered,
the continual metal clang,
the rabble's urges for murder.
Tittering intelligentsia tip raping headsmen.
Mock sea battles
waged with the Coliseum bathed
in morning shadow
last till dusk, when
severed hippo heads
bear dead men.
CARNIVAL OF THE SATYRDAY
A little blood-red fellow
too old to be a cherub precisely
but certainly smiling like one
and with fine young horns on his head
appropriate for a kid
spoke in a high-pitched sneering voice,
"I know where we can get some whores."
And great rejoice. Party favors flicked.
Oversize head dancers in the figures of
performed a sort of leap-frog.
"I don't care to set foot outdoors."
One of Van Gogh presented a huge ear,
cordially intoning, "Take this object."
Red carpet party favors flew.
"I don't care to pay."
A waterwheel float churned dirty bones.
"These whores pay you!"
Party favors blared.
"Are you ready now to see the whores?"
"I don't care to yet."
The carnival resumed the march.
CONVERSATION WITH ETERNITY
For the writer there is only
the blank paper page,
the empty screen and blinking cursor,
the conversation with eternity.
When the words work well,
no high can top,
nothing is ugly,
all times merge,
hairy early ancestors
fall to their knees
and skyward howl.
Set this sail to insanity seas
we'll row large rage to the larger age
where that manslaughter is this man's laughter
and you'll fathom what we're after there.
Leave the monkey with its money
weave away from uniformed uninformed
we've a ways upon the waves to ride
reach each new view with swift lift.
Let these letters unlock fetters
sound ground awaits unweighted
there's a vortex in the vertex
savor the flavor and favor the saver.
See the clever lever within
seethe no more inside your skin
then you and I will be quite glad
though when we leave they'll say, They're mad.
Some of me best times
'ave been 'ad
wenchin' an' 'orin',
as it were sir, aye,
wenchin' an' 'orin'.
Aye an' ye might say I was
"reelin' from the rum"
ev'ry blessed time
as it were sir,
ev'ry blessed time.
Things get worser when I'm aware.
Why, ye should've seen me last night
bloated with the sweet rum--
a big, belchy tick I was says I,
bloated with the blood like,
such is the pretty picture I must've cut.
So, says I again,
some of me best times
'ave been 'ad
wenchin' an' 'orin'.
HOW TO HONOR THE DEAD
Once after I stopped my car in the street,
walked back to the one behind,
and without a word
inserted my fist in the driver's puss
I got back in,
parked in the lot
and walked across campus
to the room where I sat
waiting for students to drop in
for writing help.
I remember thinking,
Here's one for the cosmic camera.
It's easy for people to talk about restraint
when they don't have a choice.
Even now, electric Celtic warriors
on foot and horseback roar behind me overhead,
flanked by two calm Druids.
It's true what you hear.
Sometimes your best friends
are the dead and the unborn.
This poem is a quest:
it seeks clarity, adventure,
both journey and result
it records finds,
boosts the next leap,
helps me see my hand
in the great world dream,
that wisdom is the only wealth,
the only power
power of self,
when I see a monkey in a suit
I see the co-assistant night manager of
a child with a paper badge.
The purpose of the group
is protection of weakness
all groups overlap,
every day a hunt for wisdom,
new contentment hunt.
Civilizations neither rise nor fall,
only individuals are real.
This poem bristles like fire:
drunk with battle joy it struts,
a poem of fire,
scorching the sky with
It thirsts for the blood of the city,
it hungers for the blood of Rome,
whose soft scented senators
receive its piss
on headless bodies,
this poem lines
these skulls with gold.
drip echoey, magnified drops...
P o o l s l o o P
the world dragon sleeps...
While My Guitar Gently Weeps...
With more neurons in our minds
than stars in this galaxy,
firing synapses connect
like divine fingers,
lightning and leder,
stalactite to stalagmite,
The jutting speleothem
where water drops...
If the creation meets
a column is formed...
The greater the fall,
the mightier the column.
THE HEROISM OF HEDONISM
conjures wolfish doggerels
in sacred games and festivals of atonement.
The plow of evil pushed
tills exhausted land
and the tallow taken underground
lights cities beneath Vesuvius.
A hero shall emerge:
as a blade baptized in a bed of fire
in ceremony shaped and sharpened,
a severer of shackles,
he is the bane of formulaic observance.
Pity the conqueror or praise
but stand not in his way
lest panthers' claws
and chariot wheels' grind
pin mockful notes on dying ears
frozen in the ash of agony.
DIONYSUS IN THE UNDERWORLD
The god of the vine
rolled down to the palace of Hades
in Charon's borrowed boat
Dry mouths received wine
as a chorus exultant crossed a river of fire
Then the river of the oath
Then the river of forgetfulness
And giants joined
Jealous Hera had Titans tear
the horned child reborn
Reconstituted by Grandmother Rhea
Tended by nymphs in a cave
the god of inspiration invented wine
The god of madness took forms
Establishing worship in warship
Centaurs and naiads bore beer on the banks
Nymphs and Maenads writhed heated behind
Fawn-skinned fanned as flame
scattering flower petals upon the water
Across wide wastes
they danced about the underworld
The revelers with pipe and drum
spilling wine in song
And ivy ran where Dionysus passed
Black poplars in stone
marked the gates of
the palace of Hades
And Dionysus ascended steps
as Cerberus slept
Then the god of wine
stood before the lord of the underworld
Grim Hades on his stone throne
bade not Dionysus welcome
but coldly asked to what he owed
the honor of the visit
and a sleepy sweeping gesture
toward the din was the god's reply
To the gloomy god of the underworld
the joy of the revelers was intolerable
Yet well Hades knew
no restraint could bind Dionysus
With him all fetters fell
Turned to flower and ivy
Nor did the living dead
cease their joy
for they were under the protection
of the god of libation
Whose name is Liber
Whose name means freedom
In anger Hades sent Cerberus
to destroy Dionysus
Yet the three-headed dog
found a three-headed
And the dog could not subdue
Therefore flew Hades unto Olympus
to protest his brother's son
Whose name is Bromios
And thenceforth the Maenads
worship in no temple
but run wild in the underworld
Nymph and Satyr frenzy still
Changeling lizard king
With smoke and wine
reclines in ivy
and in shadow
bathing in a stone garden
in a petrified forest
A lover of the wild
The god of wine is free
ODE TO VLAD
Seated at a table in a field
forested with shower-makers,
he hears his dancing guests
sing like morning's poultry torn.
Streaming, the sun slides
higher in the sky.
Land moist as biscuits
From spear-shot spigots
shoots his cup's red tap.
BE AT LESSON, BEATLES SON
in the ark in the dark,
the cell of steel celestial,
mausoleum ad nauseam,
I'm paler and I'm Vlad.
This is where it all comes up,
this is where it all goes down.
I travel canals,
through ventricles pass landmarks-
aqueducts to cells--
in this hemisphere,
hemp is here.
Across the mind,
in illumination's wake,
accelerates this vessel,
pounds this temple.
Hear all creation make a point--
by woofer and tweeter,
no measured step is out of joint--
I hear a siren
and I want to metre.
From injured to inured,
with the taking of a j.
Through Vishnu vision
and Osiris iris,
The vision is the quest,
the form is the content.
No destination exceeds being.
sacrificed an eye.
Wotan the One-Eyed God
God of fury.
God of trances.
God of poets.
God of warriors.
The One-Eyed God
is the Phallic God.
traverse the world,
return to Wotan
ruling on His High Seat,
whisper All Knowledge,
while wolves wait
at his feet.
these three women
are Wotan's wives.
On an eight-legged steed
the Sly One rides
The Reaver's rage
knows no bounds.
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat
the Bearded One waits,
waits until the Final Battle--
gathering the greatest warriors.
Wednesday is Wotan's Day--
Odin, variously known--
steadfast on the icy peaks,
hard, grim, wild--
Inventor of Runes,
shaman of shamans--
madmen invoke his name!
OPPENHEIMER QUOTING THE BHAGAVAD GITA
A big white black-eyed goat
sprang from the center of the circle--
the power of stillness pervaded--
the rearing goat hung,
in devastating silence--
we did not know what we had done--
then the cloven hooves
crashed upon the rock:
"Now I am become Death,
the destroyer of worlds."
SONG OF A SHADE WITH A RED WINE THIRST
I was working at a factory
having Napoleon-like crowned myself Educated,
assembling bike racks full-time temporary,
knowing my girlfriend and I would be gone in six months
and that the factory was heading for Mexico soon.
One guy had been there ten years. He was thirty-seven, always wore two t-shirts,
never bathed, stank like a stockyard and didn't like the Beatles because they weren't American.
There were a lot of Lao workers. Most were nimble, quick, good at ping-pong and
hot for break-time hacky sack. They spoke Lao among each other, laughing, the older women acting snotty.
When I got there at seven the smokers lightly stamped their feet outside,
and the dark early cool mornings passed with coffee still buzzy from the night's smoke and drink,
but clear and aware, energetic and enjoyed. I stood on a wood block to hit my calves with toe raises
on the assembly line, thinking about the night's writing, talking shit with the boys, laughing, until it was first break, donuts and more coffee, no longer buzzy, actually enjoying the lowly old workday mostly alone.
I didn't like feeling sorry for the people I saw who let themselves die by the hour.
There was a fellow who talked a lot about how he'd be a cop,
a prim little guy of forty sporting a tight white crewcut, accusatory eyes, and a sneering hateful whine who
picked up the trash.
There was a fat blob of crap who sat on his ass all day
in crisp plaid and a clean Cat cap sporting a phony bark
that sounded like bad Edward G. Robinson, see.
How he got that job I don't think I want to know, see.
He sure as hell didn't earn it by working.
There would come a time when I would say,
"How about some of that bare knuckle boxing you've never done in your life right now, liar,
I'll be your sparring partner, liar, let's go out in the parking lot and try some of that
bare knuckle boxing right now, let's go."
And he would not face me, but scurry to his car, scurry home to his mommy, in whose house he lived.
After lunch I was let go. Not fired, he said, sounding like
a very meek Edward G. Robinson.
I had been provoked by his abuse of office title.
I enjoyed humiliating fat boy and his sycophants in a great big scene
the doomed workers no doubt quietly relished,
and I enjoyed those mornings,
the coffee and the cold,
the stories and the banter and the bullshit,
the hefting and the musing,
getting paid to gear up for the night's fun--
for the song of a shade with a red wine thirst.
REDWOOD BURL TABLE
Wild with roots, a Gorgon head:
my young eyes cogwheeled at
the tangled waist-high mass riverbar trucked
and my squat mallet sent thick flakes like
flack off my checkerboarded chest,
hints of burl beneath the busted rock
stuck in the dirty redwood,
till the giant's clubbed wart clean of stone
gave a milled slab set rickety
on two paint-thick sawhorses,
wobbling in the pull of the screaming grinder's
wire bristles spitting back the loose punk wood.
Renegade spiders ran, nooks invaded by the violent metal wand
and brushed sawdust left the surface clear
for belt sanding before subjection to the stages of the orbital.
When the meaty red cross-section doused gleamed
and the scrubbed rings' fluctuating bands rippled,
torched edges blackened shone silver
where the blue acetylene tip had spread,
and set on the knotted legs of a less charred base
the finished tabletop
took center stage in the showroom
for your more and less impressed tourists,
whilst in the side yard my grimed thumb
spun a bowl.
the world-dreamer drifts alone
upon a lake of lotus without limit
above and below a pillared heaven
The sun grows
the whole world withers
wind spins into cyclone
and cyclone into fire
The spider respools its web
IF LIFE EAT DEATH
Hieing to the wombed hill
Mid yip and yirr of Baalists beery
We woozy skirmishers
Wambled past the whippoorwill
And gave a girn to gimcrack,
Bedaubed in wizardry and woodcraft,
Riled rimers, with pyretic vim,
Barmy each pant and peck,
We salivating songsters,
Scragging victuals along the junket,
Raw wood thrush and songsparrow
Our stark beefsteak.
Sopped the Bacchic balladry,
Blackish the scape,
Our mockery beneath Varuna,
Till to indigenous ziggurats
We did sorn the shadow lords,
A measly chiliad of bubbling keeves
Ripe for us to batten.
Floating in the wetsuit nets of light cross my mask:
refracted through the choppy surface they waver on the rock
as the hollow rhythmic hiss of my mouth’s breath
pushes through the tube–strange stone shapes
pass steady in a narrow view–arms forward
I fly streamlined toward the sandbagged pickets
where the scouring current tears away the riverbed.
Over a developing hole wedged rock taps the lonely aluminum,
raised dust glints fool’s gold, dead grass collects
twigs between the bars and undulates decaying in the cage.
I work my way along the trap. No salmon are inside.
Bloated faces pushed forth by my imagination
watch me slice my way upstream like a gill man in the Amazon.
INTERVIEW WITH A TRIBAL LEADER
Saved from a blue clay mudslide by a Horse Mountain potstop
we rescheduled, and when later came, there he was, looking just like on TV
where I’d seen him talking on Bigfoot and so looked him up in the phone book.
My buddy Eric couldn’t make the drive a second time
but my other buddy Tom could and he was there with a Camcorder catching
Jimmy in his chair and the back of my already balding head.
It’s weird to see yourself in a tight Humboldt T-shirt interviewing Jimmy
after all that hassle when in the first five minutes you realize
the show sort of lied and Bigfoot is a subject where maybe
you know more than he does. Great tribal leader, full of all kinds of stories,
only he hadn’t seen anything and wasn’t really sure. Probably TV
just wanted an Indian. If he pulled off his head and showed a
Bigfoot inside I would not have been surprised, but on the outside
he was eighty-four years old and told us of the time when he was a kid
talking Hupa in a cherry tree eating cherries and some George Washington
of a teacher jabbed him with a nail on the end of a stick to make him talk American.
He told us how to leech acorns and showed us pictures of the Deer Dance.
I told him the interview was only for me, and Tom, it was just something we wanted to do.
Back on his deck before we left, looking at the river, he said his mother told him
one time she saw four of them come out of the forest to swim,
a male, a female and two young ones, and they swam till they saw her and left.
WHEN THE KILLIN'-TIME'S COME
I may not seem partial to the things which ye so desperately clings
but one thing's fer sartin,
gonna ram m' blade clean through to the hilt
good, solid an' strong in ye--again an' again--
an' again an' again an' again--
I'm gonna cut yer bleedin' gut wide open--
stick yer neck--cut, here--here here here here here--
slash yer skull, an' rip out yer 'eart, an' yer liver--
gonna drive m' big shiny knife wamwam quick like so in yer sockets
an' slop up an' down amid yer mushy gore
aye, an' stomp ye to the pave--
when the killin'-time's come.
SAIL AN ALIAS
When I feel Doom mooD
That is when I Word roW
There I go in Deep speeD
Rabid in my Wolf floW
I shed the Animal laminA
I shed the GoddammaddoG
To release the Droll lorD
I turn the Revel leveR
I like to Moor a rooM
I like to Fool alooF
There I drink my Regal lageR
Then how Me leer 'n reel 'eM
I see No evil live oN
Though I Lived a deviL
Where the Pools looP
Without the Flesh selF
In Sleep peelS
Reviled I deliveR
He'd wheeze across the street
with his one remaining lung
Me maintaining post
like a piece of peanut butter
a seller of liquor
I'd regard porno
pop a brewskie in the cooler
shoot the shit with the geezer
wheezing each aching
Sometimes Sarge would get a coughing fit
then it was back
to the subject of war
battles he'd been in
World War Two
a career Marine
that's why they called him
he won a pushup contest back
when, a thousand reps or something
and a situp con-
said his wife
because he was
she said that he
and no doubt he did
he was that kind of guy
weed to ease
and Sarge would put together little baggies he
distributed to his buddies who listened to him and
he wouldn't let you give it back
nor would he take
Sarge was that kind of guy
all day long
you could shoot the shit
and never get bored
After I left
I wish I'd said goodbye
Sarge in his room
Cancer got Sarge
MILKING THE BACK
Thick vat glass added fresh back size
bobbing in brine like swollen legions of buffalo tongue
and the clerk would hook the one Grandpa let me pick.
At home we’d unwrap the massy package,
I with my fork, ready to poke.
Grandpa’s deft prong freed embedded gravel bits
whose frugal removal fueled our maracas.
Then he’d heft the back to sheets of wax paper
where for half a day it dried before it was applied.
I’d watch the pungent juices ooze as if alive,
seeping the way a beached whale weeps.
When it was time, Grandpa lifted the back
like a butcher with a side of beef,
squeezing loose the yellow milk
into a foil pan at his feet.
Now I am an old man.
You can’t find fresh back anymore.
I have no idea why we did all that.
There was a man with an unusual hand:
For every digit, instead a penis.
Ten testes dangled from the man’s odd palm.
His deformity he hid in a satchel
Snugly attached nearly always.
Each painful lonely morn shone the
Veritable rosy fingers of dawn
Yet the flower of his manifold manhood
Lacked a whore to culture.
As he was orphaned at birth,
His dear Aunt Gladys,
Who firmly forbade amputation,
Took him in and brought him up
And indeed the reverse,
Dubbing him Six-Shooter Pete
On account he was such a handful.
Six-Shooter Pete’s uncommon energies
Precluded normal life.
His entire arm stiffened like a Gatling
Without provocation, causing a
And frequent dishonorable discharge.
This left Six-Shooter Pete
Scrubbing night and day in vein
It weren’t just soap in the lather
So he gave up washing and stuck to his guns.
Thus, a lucrative business was born
When Six-Shooter Pete discovered
That carefully peeling the resultant gunk off his nuts
Produced handsome, rubbery doilies!
Despite his modest rise in the local business world
Six-Shooter Pete remained a mystery,
Handicapped in the eyes of the public.
Then came a day undreamed.
A Mary Kay girl with private aspirations sought to ply her trade.
Six-Shooter Pete entertained the makeup-hawker to the best of his
Awkward ability, feigning interest in cosmetics
As she in turn pretended not to notice
His wrist-deep limb in the satchel
And the meat bees’ buzz about the folds.
The Mary Kay girl’s creamy complexion,
Indeed her very name
Evoked a holy aura
Wholly in Six-Shooter Pete’s mind
Causing intense perspiration as he stood stiff-armed
Against the wall, hoping to appear casually urbane,
And it was only when the Mary Kay girl revealed her ambition
To become a saucier
That the bag burst
Exploding the entire contents of the morning
Like hot suet.
To see the object of his dreams
Through the quivering cream
Was more than Six-Shooter Pete could bear.
The Mary Kay girl’s horror in turn
Reached unspeakable heights at the sight of the
Momentarily limp appendage,
Appearing for all the world like
An octopus dripping watery cottage cheese,
And when pulpily it pulsated, she ran,
No longer screaming soundlessly.
Then and there Six-Shooter Pete
Chopped off his troubles at the wrist with a meat cleaver.
He cauterized the wound himself,
And changed his name to Stumpy.
Today, Stumpy works as a CPA in Pittsburgh.
CREATION TO CREMATION
From creation to cremation
like the sun we run
Drawn at dawn
born we burn
we knight depravity
the less at dusk
our dust to stink.
When the mawkish polyglots shellac bleak canvas, courtly and ferocious neon maulers, squalid squads in kestrel tumult set brass wind killjoys free. Midwinter milksops nuzzle in myrtle, logy stampede of galactic seedlings to electrify jilted easels, each cloying dogma twinge a gangling trenchant gaff. Brazen canker, apex chomps of ashen choirs that slam suggestive sun lamps on the sand.
In sebbenedy madmadical mudscape and katchup slashanripping sham habiliments hove greezy fingering, strident strains of pipe a citron conch, tartan tattoo of relic drums hyperhammering madcap sighcallohgee. A greepser soulution. Excrabull kissfleets, silverjinny noos of the lummering luniverse rechoired flipperguppy undecent litterasea, dairyairy roaminsircuss preseption clamporing crehated perpbetraytors eyedentical whiteplastink anon anon anon
IN THE ULTIMATE POEM FIRST AND FINAL
letters combine to align in arrangement which reads
not just across left to right or right to left but forth and up and down and back
all making sense
no space omitted
it all interacts
form and content match
and the letters take shapes which in turn comment
senses over senses
and the poem is thought
and the thought is matter
and we walk in the poem
and we breathe in the poem
and our hearts beat the poem
and beyond all language
the poem ex p l O o
l O O
O o O O
O o o o o
o o o o o o o
o . o . d o . . o . .
. . . e .
. . . . . s