Poems of the Month

                                 December  2012

 

 

December 23, 2012

                                          HERD

                                                   Tawny Roosevelt elk,
                                                   my fellow American immigrant,
                                                   I recognize your rump
                                                   drawn back in the morning fog
                                                   from forelegs washed by the Klamath.
                                                   I have been a river away from my herd
                                                   before a day's even gotten underway.

                                                   Those you would join impress
                                                   only with their massive passivity.
                                                   Your ponderously racked alpha--
                                                   stately, still and ten yards ahead--
                                                   sways me most to curious musing,
                                                   "Can these creatures possibly be
                                                   dumb as Holsteins?"

                                                   On my drive home you startle me again:
                                                   your alpha has led the tribe to settle
                                                   on a grassy roadside meadow
                                                   for an incongruous tourist photo op!
                                                   I smile broadly as I imagine
                                                   your leader's bemused look as a challenge,
                                                   "How now thin cows?"

                                        --if you live, your time will come

 

December 9, 2012

The Year is Not Over
 

Some thing was wrong this year.
 

The figs did not ripen before the first frost.

Every mole escaped.

All the pumpkins came out quart-sized.
 

Dad did not drop by with walnuts.

Donald succumbed to the Security Guards.

Diana never showed up for work.
 

Each eggplant grew infertile.

All flowers bloomed--purple.

Rats snuck corn husks despite two white cats.
 

A war continued on

while another was begun.
 

--if you live, your time will come

 

December 18, 2011

Unless We Are
 

LATELY THE DAYS TURN

restless

IN A BALL OF CONFUSION

relentless

ROLLING THROUGH DREAMS

endless

DEEP BLUE AND GREEN

listless

DRAGGING ME THROUGH DESPAIR

regardless

BE IT DAY, WEEK OR MONTH

timeless

MOMENTS SLOWLY PASSING

heartless

TEARS FALL LIKE RAIN

emotionless

ACROSS PARCHED EYES

lifeless

WITHOUT YOU I BECOME

hopeless

ALL MY ENDEAVORS

needless

MIRRORED IMAGES ARE

selfless

LIFE IN GENERAL SEEMS

pointless

I’VE COME TO REALIZE

unless

YOU ARE, I AM

less
 

                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

December 5, 2011

Elderspeak
 

In life’s beautiful moments

Awakenings are shy and unpredictable

They seem to step uneasily

Into the Waka She Na Ne,

And squint warily at the

Sacredness of life

Those who heard the elders speak

Knew the license of winged heart

They felt the medicine dance and drift

Across transfixed and attentive eyes

Coursing through, connecting to

Me with Him, one to another, All with All

We sensed revelation, witnessed generation

With the pulse of ancient song

Both sides of the feather

Heard and talked stories

Tales of an angry chip on a native shoulder

Who now rides White Bison

Into the looking clouds

Or of the scared child with two of his own

Those tiny hands that clutched tired fingers

Now open the door to a safe and loving home

Whose threshold is years blessed

I find it quite comforting, yet extraordinary

The scales of prejudice

Floated past in the form

Of leaves letting go

They drifted across a backdrop

Of windows that do not produce

But induce the filter of light

Taken in, processed and let go,

As gently as presented

As softly as suggested

That we might share

In the power of the circle

That we might know the transformation

Of the inherently whole

That we might see the death of the saddened trees

As the promise of season

And the birth of new freedom


                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

December 24, 2010

I slept and dreamed that life was joy.

I woke and found that life was service.

I served and found that service is joy.

                                    --Tagore

 

Howl

For Carl Solomon

I

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the
skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-
ing their money in wastebaskets and listening
to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-
cohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
tionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook-
lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless
ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
until the noise of wheels and children brought
them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
floated out and sat through the stale beer after
noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook-
lyn Bridge,
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic
City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-
ings and migraines of China under junk-with-
drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-
father night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-
athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-
stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis-
ionary indian angels who were visionary indian
angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore
gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla-
homa on the impulse of winter midnight street
light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston
seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the
brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship
to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving
behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees
and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire
place Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom-
prehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting
the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union
Square weeping and undressing while the sirens
of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed
down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also
wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
and trembling before the machinery of other
skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight
in policecars for committing no crime but their
own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were
dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu-
scripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly
motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,
the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean
love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose
gardens and the grass of public parks and
cemeteries scattering their semen freely to
whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up
with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath
when the blond & naked angel came to pierce
them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate
the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar
the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb
and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but
sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden
threads of the craftsman's loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of
beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can-
dle and fell off the bed, and continued along
the floor and down the hall and ended fainting
on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and
come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling
in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning
but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun
rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked
in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad
stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver--joy
to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses'
rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet-
ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
picked themselves up out of basements hung
over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-
ment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
East River to open to a room full of steamheat
and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of
Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their
pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in
their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
incantations which in the yellow morning were
stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
& tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable
kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for
an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess-
fully, gave up and were forced to open antique
stores where they thought they were growing
old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
& the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis-
ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the
drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap-
pened and walked away unknown and forgotten
into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas-
saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street,
danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
phonograph records of nostalgic European
1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans
in their ears and the blast of colossal steam
whistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
Denver and finally went away to find out the
Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
for each other's salvation and light and breasts,
until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
impossible criminals with golden heads and the
charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
notism & were left with their insanity & their
hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
and subsequently presented themselves on the
granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in-
stantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho-
therapy occupational therapy pingpong &
amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the
East,
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid
halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock-
ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night-
mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the
moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
flung out of the tenement window, and the last
door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur-
nished room emptied down to the last piece of
mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted
on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that
imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of
hallucination--
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
now you're really in the total animal soup of
time--
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat-
ing plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together jumping
with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna
Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intel-
ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-
fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand
years.

II

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open
their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi-
nation?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob
tainable dollars! Children screaming under the
stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men
weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the
loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy
judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the
crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of
sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment!
Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun-
ned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose
blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers
are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni-
bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking
tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long
streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac-
tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose
smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch
whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch
whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch
whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!
Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream
Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in
Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom
I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch
who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch!
Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic
industries! spectral nations! invincible mad
houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave-
ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to
Heaven which exists and is everywhere about
us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!
gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole
boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!
gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De-
spairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides!
Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on
the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the
wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!
They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!
carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the
street!

III

Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland
where you're madder than I am
I'm with you in Rockland
where you must feel very strange
I'm with you in Rockland
where you imitate the shade of my mother
I'm with you in Rockland
where you've murdered your twelve secretaries
I'm with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor
I'm with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful
typewriter
I'm with you in Rockland
where your condition has become serious and
is reported on the radio
I'm with you in Rockland
where the faculties of the skull no longer admit
the worms of the senses
I'm with you in Rockland
where you drink the tea of the breasts of the
spinsters of Utica
I'm with you in Rockland
where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the
harpies of the Bronx
I'm with you in Rockland
where you scream in a straightjacket that you're
losing the game of the actual pingpong of the
abyss
I'm with you in Rockland
where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul
is innocent and immortal it should never die
ungodly in an armed madhouse
I'm with you in Rockland
where fifty more shocks will never return your
soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
cross in the void
I'm with you in Rockland
where you accuse your doctors of insanity and
plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the
fascist national Golgotha
I'm with you in Rockland
where you will split the heavens of Long Island
and resurrect your living human Jesus from the
superhuman tomb
I'm with you in Rockland
where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com-
rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale
I'm with you in Rockland
where we hug and kiss the United States under
our bedsheets the United States that coughs all
night and won't let us sleep
I'm with you in Rockland
where we wake up electrified out of the coma
by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the
roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the
hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col-
lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry
spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is
here O victory forget your underwear we're
free
I'm with you in Rockland
in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-
journey on the highway across America in tears
to the door of my cottage in the Western night

            --
by Allen Ginsberg

San Francisco 1955-56

 

December 13, 2010

Big Yellow Taxi

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away the D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard my screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I said don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

                                                                                   --Joni Mitchell

 

Decmeber 10, 2010

What The Doctor Said    

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

 

--Raymond Carver   

http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/raymond_carver/poems/5004

 

 

December 7, 2010

The Pond

Night covers the pond with its wing.
Under the ringed moon I can make out
your face swimming among minnows and the small
echoing stars. In the night air
the surface of the pond is metal.

Within, your eyes are open. They contain
a memory I recognize, as though
we had been children together. Our ponies
grazed on the hill, they were gray
with white markings. Now they graze
with the dead who wait
like children under their granite breastplates,
lucid and helpless:

The hills are far away. They rise up
blacker than childhood.
What do you think of, lying so quietly
by the water? When you look that way I want
to touch you, but do not, seeing
as in another life we were of the same blood.

                                                                                           --Louise Glück.

from The House on the Marshland.

 

December 4, 2010

Time Heals All Wounds--But One

 

He was a huge

hulk of a man

but the blade cut his belly

like it was a melon.

He was cheerful at first

but as weeks wore on

like his cheap shoes

and time spun out

with miles of gauze packing,

his wound stank

and Leroy shrank

shrivelled nearly

to skin and skeleton.

One day, barely

conscious, he whispered:

"Let me go, Doc,"

and I did.

        --Vernon Rowe

BLOOD & BONE: POEMS BY PHYSICIANS

 

 

December 31, 2009

                                                The Road Not Taken

           
                                                Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

                                                And sorry I could not travel both

                                                And be one traveler, long I stood

                                                And looked down one as for as I could

                                                To where it bent in the undergrowth;


                                                Then took the other, as just as fair,

                                                And having perhaps the better claim,

                                                Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

                                                Though as for that the passing there

                                                Had worn them really about the same,


                                                And both that morning equally lay

                                                In leaves no step had trodden black.

                                                Oh, I kept the first for another day!

                                                Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

                                                I doubted if I should ever come back.


                                                I shall be telling this with a sigh

                                                Somewhere ages and ages hence:

                                                Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

                                                I took the one less traveled by,

                                                And that has made all the difference.


                                                                            --Robert Frost

                                                (published in ROBERT FROST SELECTED POEMS)

 

December 30, 2009

                                                A Sick Child


                                                The postman comes when I am still in bed.
                                                Postman, what do you have for me today?
                                                I say to him. (But really I'm in bed.)
                                                Then he says--what shall I have him say?

                                                This letter says that you are president
                                                Of--this word here; it's a republic.
                                               
Tell them I can't answer right away.
                                                It's your duty. 
No, I'd rather just be sick.

                                                Then he tells me there are letters saying everything
                                                That I can think of that I want for them to say.
                                                I say, Well, thank you very much.  Good-bye.
                                                He is ashamed, and turns and walks away.

                                                If I can think of it, it isn't what I want.
                                                I want...I want a ship from some near star
                                                To land in the yard, and beings to come out
                                                And think to me: So this is where you are!

                                                Come.  Except that they won't do,
                                                I thought of them...And yet somewhere there must be
                                                Something that's different from everything.
                                                All that I've never thought of--think of me!


                                                                                --Randall Jarrell

                                                (published in RANDALL JARRELL SELECTED POEMS
                                                                    edited by William H. Pritchard)

 

 

December 29, 2009

                                                To Turn Back


                                                The grass people bow

                                                their heads before the wind.


                                                How would it be

                                                to stand among them, bending

                                                our heads like that...?


                                                Yes...and no...perhaps...

                                                lifting our dusty faces

                                                as if we were waiting for

                                                the rain...?


                                                The grass people stand

                                                all year, patient and obedient--


                                                to be among them

                                                is to have only simple

                                                and friendly thoughts,


                                                and not be afraid.


                                                                --John Haines

                                        (published in CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY
                                                            edited by Donald Hall)

   

December 28, 2009

                                                Warning Lights On


                                                Kate Lynn's two year old vagina

                                                flashes red against exam table white paper

                                                like the sirened light

                                                of an ambulance wanting to pass.

                                                You say she keeps

                                                rubbing herself there

 

                                                with objects found at play.

                                                If she's showing us a way

                                                she has learned to explore,

                                                I wonder if you fear asking

                                                who led her this way before?
 

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from IF YOU LIVE YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

December 27, 2009

                                                Rock Music


                                                Sex is a Nazi.  The students all knew
                                                this at your school.  To it, everyone's subhuman
                                                for parts of their lives.  Some are all their lives.
                                                You'll be one of those if these things worry you.

                                                The beautiful Nazis, why are they so cruel?
                                                Why, to castrate the aberrant, the original, the wounded
                                                who might change our species and make obsolete
                                                the true race.  Which is those who never leave school.

                                                For the truth, we are silent.  For the flattering dream,
                                                in massed farting reassurance, we spasm and scream,
                                                but what is a Nazi but sex pitched for crowds?

                                                It's the Calvin SS: you are what you've got
                                                and you'll wrinkle and fawn and work after you're shot
                                                though tears pour in secret from the hot indoor clouds.


                                                                                    --Les Murray

                            `                   (published in SUBHUMAN REDNECK POEMS)

 

December 26, 2009

                                                Calling Down the Geese


                                                He's calling down the geese,

                                                my uncle, low in the gray hull.

                                                His face billows with blowing

                                                through a wooden throat

                                                a note all December, all bird.

                                                He's blind.  Once a savage--

                                                beating his wife on Christmas.

                                                I know that, watching him

                                                listen downwind.  He smiles, suddenly,

                                                holding my arm to be still. Be still.

                                                I forgive.  I love this moment.

                                                He's calling down the geese,

                                                the gander's ear, its memory,

                                                breath drawn across the bony reeds.


                                                                                --Henry Hughes

                                                (published in MEN HOLDING EGGS)

 

December 25, 2009

                                                Life Cycle of Ideas
 

                                                An idea whistles with your lips,

                                                laughs with your breath.
                                                An idea hungers for your body.

                                                An alert, hot to dissemble and share,
                                                it snatches up cases of its style
                                                from everywhere, to start a face.

                                                An idea is a mouth that sells
                                                as it sucks.  It lusts to have
                                                loomed perpetual in the night colours:
                                                an idea is always a social climb.

                                                Whether still braving snorts,
                                                ordering its shootings, or at rest
                                                among its own charts of world rule,
                                                a maturing idea will suddenly want

                                                to get smaller than its bearers.

                                                It longs to be a poem:
                                                earthed, accurate immortal trance,
                                                buck as stirrups were,
                                                blare as the panther.

                                                Only art can contain an idea.
 

                                                                        --Les Murray

                                                (published in SUBHUMAN REDNECK POEMS)

 

 

December 24, 2009

                                                Rick and Sue's Guest House
 

                                                On the window, partly blocking
                                                images of Oregon's rock rugged
                                                coast, a plastic paste-on cornucopia
                                                proclaims (in July) Happy Thanksgiving
                                                while on the wall to the left
                                                a cute cat tail swings out the clicking
                                                clock seconds--innocent scythe
                                                menacing the plaque placed below it
                                                to announce Christ as the head of this house
                                                AND the unseen guest.

                                                But don't look down at the clear-cut below,
                                                for that's what provides this ocean view.

                                                Turn to the walls around you
                                                and see Sue's photos on the wall.

                                                In the dark of late night man's light
                                                illuminates dung-rimmed rock
                                                still above inky ocean
                                                where clouded sky meets
                                                imagined horizon.

                                                Between me and the windowed wall
                                                stands Rick speaking of his mistakes
                                                which weren't his responsibility
                                                and his accomplishments
                                                which were.
   

                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from IF YOU LIVE YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

December 23, 2009

A Woods Still Intact

 

Farmer says he'll take his cat back there

to clear the land to plant firs and hemlock.

I don't see heavy tracks.  No slashed branches

or severed limbs hang brown

like sausage aging in the smokehouse.

There's still bear scat to give a wild smell.

And dried horse turds not even kicked aside--

yes, this path still serves the slow trot ride.

 

--Tim Van Ert

 

December 22, 2009

                                                Mixed Greens
 

                                                Like the newspaper tumbling away in a wind
                                                Our life tantalizes us with knowledge--
                                                If only we could catch up, hold in in hand.
                                                What magic place will teach us these tricks?

                                                In the ocean waters below Esalen's hot springs
                                                See otters dive and duck the waves with grace
                                                Then surface to stare the world face-to-face
                                                Suggesting we all can speak together.

                                                So, planet earth, point your exit doors to Esalen
                                                Where all growth is earthy, shammanic, organic--
                                                Mixed salad greens sown, grown and eaten
                                                By the green, the mixed-up and the Work Scholars.

                                                Feeling like peasants herded into Rome's coliseum
                                                We sweat the thumbs-down work assignments--
                                                Thrown in the duck pond or tossed to toilet-duty for cabins.
                                                And pray for grounds, office or (heaven!) farm and garden crew.

                                                Garden power from the sun, power in the seed, power to the bloom.
                                                Go there, to the goddess, to broadcast the harvest heart-promised.
                                                Watch the sprout diva color her life-burst lunch tray palette.
                                                Lay your life at garden Buddha feet before this one moment's missed.

                                                Body-work sounds harder than massage.
                                                Which sounds softer than end-organs sangre-engorged;
                                                No one leaves Esalen without the lingo
                                                Of the long, liquid and languid touch.

                                                Where else can a dozen adults snake blindfolded to hot tubs
                                                where, uplifted with song, folks float past the Friday night voyeurs?
                                                Or stand topless in line to sweat, chant and trade painful secrets
                                                With red-hot rocks answering back sparklers and steam?

                                                At Esalen the work is never complete
                                                As long as the Work Scholars are eager to repeat;
                                                To work week-end shifts, pay, play, pray
                                                And to process, without violence or drugs, the feelings of the day.
 

                                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from IF YOU LIVE YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

                       

December 21, 2009

Wishing Kisses

 

Dark words dart

out of my mind--

overhead assault

deranged hunger for manna

melting from the roof of your mouth.

Cryptic tunnels

embark your cavern yawn.

Chipped tooth fixes

my attention;

some eyes easily adjust to dark viscera.

Dreams roam range

wobble their way

to your cavernous room

where I hope to tumble behind my tongue

sphere into sphere.

 

--Tim Van Ert

 

December 20, 2009

                                                    Men Holding Eggs
 

                                                    I'm walking over the Brooklyn Bridge

                                                    with my eight-year-old sister.

                                                    I can throw her over the wall, I think.

                                                    Physical laws make it so.  Easy.  There are no

                                                    nets, no arms beneath the stone.
 

                                                    The idea sparrows through my head,

                                                    holding a Song vase at the Chait Gallery.

                                                    A thousand years of celadon blue

                                                    breaking between my black shoes.

                                                    For years I really did it--matchbox cars,

                                                    crowded jets, an HO caboose

                                                    pulled from the Christmas tracks

                                                    and tossed out a window.  In the car sometimes I panicked--

                                                    made my father stop.  He'd yell, I'd cry,

                                                    cry for some G.I. Joe rolling off the shoulder.
 

                                                    I feel it on this bridge, clasping my sister's

                                                    lemon hand.  She's whistling something, her hair

                                                    bouncing light feathers

                                                    down her back.  She asks about a black schooner

                                                    tacking toward the Hudson.

                                                    There are men on deck holding eggs.
 

                                                                                    --Henry Hughes

                                                    (published in MEN HOLDING EGGS)

 

 

December 19, 2009 

                                                Song of Being a Child


                                                When the Child was a child
                                                It walked with arms hanging
                                                Wanted the stream to be a river
                                                    and the river a torrent
                                                And this puddle, the sea

                                                It didn't know
                                                It was a child
                                                Everything for it was filled with Life
                                                    and all life was one
                                                Saw the horizon without trying to reach it
                                                Couldn't rush itself
                                                And think on command
                                                Was often terribly bored
                                                And couldn't wait
                                                Passed up greeting the moments
                                                And prayed only with its lips

                                                It didn't have an opinion about a thing
                                                Had no habits
                                                Often sat cross-legged, took off running
                                                Had a cow lick in its hair
                                                And didn't put on a face when photographed

                                                It was the time of the following questions
                                                Why I am me and why not you
                                                Why am I here and why not there
                                                Why did time begin and where does space end
                                                Isn't what I see and hear and smell
                                                Just the appearance of the world in front of the world
                                                Isn't life under the sun just a dream
                                                Does evil actually exist in people
                                                Who really are evil
                                                Why can't it be that I who am
                                                Wasn't before I was
                                                And that sometime I, the I, I am
                                                No longer will be the I, I am

                                                It gagged on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding
                                                And on steamed cauliflower
                                                And now eats all of it, and not just because it has to

                                                It woke up once in a strange bed
                                                And now time and time again
                                                Many people seemed beautiful
                                                And now not so many and now only if it's lucky
                                                It had a precise picture of Paradise
                                                And now can only vaguely conceive of it at best
                                                It couldn't imagine nothingness
                                                And today shudders in the face of it
                                                Dove for the ball
                                                Which today rolls between its legs
                                                With its "I'm here" it came
                                                Into the house which is now empty

                                                It played with enthusiasm
                                                And now only with such former concentration
                                                Where its work is concerned
                                                When the game, task, activity, subject
                                                    happens to be its work

                                                It was enough to live on apples and bread
                                                And it's still that way

                                                Berries fell
                                                Only like berries into it's hand, and still do
                                                The fresh walnuts made its tongue raw, and still do
                                                Atop each mountain it craved
                                                Yet a higher mountain, and in each city it craved
                                                Yet a bigger city, and still does
                                                Reach for the cherries in the tree top
                                                As elated as it still is today
                                                Was shy in front of strangers, and still is
                                                It waited for the first snow, and still waits that way

                                                It waited restlessly each day for the return of the loved one
                                                And still waits that way

                                                It hurled a stick like a lance into a tree
                                                And its still quivering there today

                                                The child, the child was a child
                                                Was a child, was a child, was a child, was a child
                                                Child, child, child
                                                When the child, when the child, when the child
                                                When the child, when the child
                                                The child, child, child, child, child

                                                                                                            --Peter Handke

                                                (recorded by Van Morrison on PHILOSOPHER STONE)

 

 

December 18, 2009

                                                Tilt-a-Whirling


                                                Oh, twirling girly, tell me,
                                                how did we get here,
                                                holding onto the edge
                                                of a pink teacup swizzing
                                                under a cantaloupe moon?

                                                The lights--green, yellow, and gumball blue--
                                                twist round my neck like birthday streamers.
                                                Mommy, mommy, you whisper,
                                                I'm feeling kinda hectic inside,
                                                touch your ten fingertips to mine,
                                                I don't want to die.

                                                Oh, love,
                                                I think you're sitting on my cotton candy,
                                                pillow against me, then, and, if you must,
                                                please, please, please, into my cold hand,
                                                press your salt lake palms.
                                                Your clenched neck pinching my cradling elbow,
                                                jalapeno juice blinding your tilting eyes,
                                                you loved me before, do you love me now?

                                                I didn't think the end would be like this--
                                                running shrieking circles
                                                around each other like beauty contestants
                                                in the breakneck of fancy holiday lights,
                                                two blue lovers in a heavy cup.
 

                                                                        --Melissa Huseman

                                                (published in  NORTHWEST REVIEW)

 

  

December 17, 2009

                                                The Wiser Buds' Toads
 

                                                Summer of '64 my brother and I jumped our window
                                                to meet up with Doug La Fleur five midnights running.
                                                With flashlights gripped tight we were gunning
                                                to flush out them toads--since Doug had found two
                                                in his mother's flower bed, we had to find four more
                                                between our mom's snapdragons and roses.

                                                That December Mike and I moved to a house
                                                six hundred miles north on a lot so bare
                                                a helicopter must have dropped it, complete, right there.
                                                No southern eternal summer could prepare two city kids
                                                for northern California's winter of '64:
                                                we'd heard of floods--but not of sounds!

                                                Still had the flashlights, and now new rubber boots.
                                                Into a snowy midnight we stole, following the symphonic sound.
                                                Deep in the tan oak woods across the street we found
                                                a pond lined with peepers caught blowing bubble gum
                                                balloons to power their jazz riot.  Unlike their slothful
                                                cousins, these amphibians were beyond our grasps.

                                                But now, after all these decades, a passion grips me
                                                so I want to squeeze the air from such tensile throats--
                                                Budweiser's celebrity frogs have so gotten my goat!
                                                A nauseating reminder that childhood's precious memories
                                                are not impervious to the psychology of consumption--
                                                and of the price we pay for watching television.
 

                                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from IF YOU LIVE YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

December 16, 2009

Tree Choreography

 

Planting a row of trees

Some person choreographies

A line dance only time sees

As poplars rise, firs lean and saplings freeze.

 

--Tim Van Ert

(from A 1st EDITION OF HAI-CHOO:

little sneezes of profound dittycism)

 

December 15, 2009

                                                Sea Being

                                                  In tides of life, in storms of action,
                                                            Up and down I wave,
                                                            Weave I hither and yon,
                                                            Birth and the grave,
                                                            A sea without bound,
                                                            A changeful weaving,
                                                            A radiant living.

                                                                            (Faust, Goethe)
 

                                            Standing at the window I plucked

                                            from your left thigh smoke we shared

                                            and, pausing, broke it in two.

                                            We inhaled,

                                            held our breaths,

                                            heralded our transformation:

                                            watching this remaining half

                                            drifting down

                                            through the open window, swirling below;

                                            not watching

                                            the other half disappearing.
 

                                            Serpentine ribbon threads the plasma.

                                            Sacred object rides the hemmed-in surf.

                                            Smooth undulations part waters

                                            Sailing vibrations back among themselves.

                                            Softly the shedding snake slides from shore to shore

                                            Endlessly encircling, embracing, excorporating.
 

                                            Push and pull being felt,

                                            ebbing and flowing smelt.

                                            The song of barking

                                            seals our open letter.

                                            Together we call to sea,

                                            Mother of our beings.

                                            Her vitalization

                                            meets our stillness

                                            in waves of elution.

                                            Cleansed, we turn in salty tribute:

                                            our humble creation

                                            returns.
 

                                            Serpentine ribbon threads the plasma.

                                            Sacred object rides the hemmed-in surf.

                                            Smooth undulations part waters

                                            Sailing vibrations back among themselves.

                                            Softly the shedding snake slides from shore to shore

                                            Endlessly encircling, embracing, excorporating.
 

                                            Perched on the coast's bluff,

                                            in unadorned shamelessness

                                            lay the pink bed--

                                            nor more dirty nor brave

                                            than the miner's lettuce

                                            in full flesh around it.

                                            Here the ocean is in recital,

                                            the walls Monterey pines,

                                            and the lovers naked in their adornments.
 

                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                            (from CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)

                           
                       

                                               

December 14, 2009

                                                Foraging
 

                                                Sedulous eyes search for what will be

                                                smoothly grabbed by tutored talons,

                                                processed by gut instinct,

                                                then regurgitated consonant and vowel

                                                to keep vigorous

                                                generation of growth.
                               

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

 

December 13, 2009

                                                A Catechism
 

                                                Who challenged my soldier mother?

                                                    Nobody.

                                                Who kept house for her and fended off the world?

                                                    My father.

                                                Who suffered most from her oppressions?

                                                    My sister.

                                                Who went out into the world to right its wrongs?

                                                    My sister.

                                                Who became bitter when the world didn't listen?

                                                    My sister.

                                                Who challenged my soldier sister?

                                                    Nobody.

                                                Who grew up and saw all this and recorded it and
                                                kept wondering how to solve it but couldn't?

                                                    Guess who.
 

                                                                    --William Stafford

                                                (published in THE WAY IT IS)

 

December 12, 2009

Sonnet in Search of an Author

 

Nude bodies like peeled logs

sometimes give off a sweetest

odor, man and woman

 

under the trees in full excess

matching the cushion of

 

aromatic pine-drift fallen

threaded with trailing woodbine

a sonnet might be made of it

 

Might be made of it!  odor of excess

odor of pine needles, odor of

peeled logs, odor of no odor

other than trailing woodbine that

 

has no odor, odor of a nude woman

sometimes, odor of a man.

 

--William Carlos Williams

(published in PICTURES FROM BRUEGHEL [1962])

 

December 11, 2009

The Red Wheelbarrow

 

so much depends

upon

 

a red wheel

barrow

 

glazed with rain

water

 

beside the white

chickens.

 

--William Carlos Williams

(published in SPRING AND ALL [1923])

 

 

 

December 10, 2009

 

                                                                ANTHEM
 

                                                When you THINK

                                                                          LOVE

                                                Is only for the  LUCKY

                                                                            OR

                                                the STRONG

                                                                    you REMEMBER

                                                                                            LOVE

                                                                    Is always there for the

                                                        EXPERIENCING

                                                both RIGHT and WRONG. 


                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from  COLLECTED WORDS)

                         

 

December 9, 2009

                                                    I, ME, MEEE
                                                                     V
                                                                     O
                                                                     L
                                                                     V
                                                                     E


                                                    My image the disciplined eclectic:

                                                    Striving to expand and enfold

                                                    Distinct discipline of the specialist.
 

                                                    Strong with the force of flexibility

                                                    I am rebounding to affirm

                                                    Steadiness of grounding in One being.
 

                                                    See here my Work and see here is my Play--

                                                    A volatile combination

                                                    Igniting life energy day to day!
 

                                                    Discipline offers a key to the self;

                                                    Which, free, is alone discipline--

                                                    Transcending work and play through their fusion.
 

                                                                               --Tim Van Ert

                                                    (from  COLLECTED  WORDS)

 

 

December 8, 2009

Something Amiss in the Isles of Langerhans


Isles are always so far away

one needs a boat, to be patient

and trusting that the oarsman,

the tide, the wind will carry you

safely to these isolated reminders:

speckles, sparklers, dots in the center--

bull-eyes.

Out, ye specks--I bear no blood

of guilt, nor defect deserved.

I'll grow to be a sailor

laughing on the back of dolphins.

The isles will just be spots

in the corners of my deeply diving

blue eyes.  

Bound for a journey over fitful seas,

clasp my other hand tighter

than I clasp cool iron rungs before

teetering down these aisles.

If you accept my devil's bargain,

if you love me too hard--

I'll die.

I shiver standing here.

These are cold, treeless islands.

Where's the hand I see out of

the corner of my eye as I dive

further into my fitful dreams

floating alone in waters'

dulled sky?

I remember a pleasing song,

specks and dots on the sheet;

not pinned like a common thief

to a leafless tree,

more like fruits presented without a note

on my doorstep so I can cuddle

a newborn fantasy with each

warm bite.

--Tim Van Ert

(published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)

 

 

December 7, 2009

                                                Anticipation

                                                Under a half moon
                                                my mouth moves round,
                                                empty as the night,
                                                before devouring the light
                                                I imagine from your full mouth.

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

(from A 1ST EDITION OF HAI-CHOO : little sneezes of profound dittycism)

 

December 6, 2009

                                                                Marengo


                                        Out of the sump rise the marigolds.

                                        From the rim of the marsh, muslin with mosquitos,

                                        Rises the egret, in his cloud-cloth.

                                        Through the soft rain, like mist, and mica,

                                        the withered acres of moss begin again.
 

                                        When I have to die, I would like to die

                                        on a day of rain--

                                        long rain, slow rain, the kind you think will never end.
 

                                        And I would like to have whatever little ceremony there might be

                                        take place while the rain is shoveled and shoveled out of the sky.
 

                                        and anyone who comes must travel, slowly and with thought,

                                        as around the edges of the great swamp.
 

                                                                            --Mary Oliver

                                        (published in NEW AND SELECTED POEMS)


                                 

December 5, 2009

                                        Brainstorm

                                
                                       
The house was shaken by a rising wind                                                               
                                        That rattled window and door.  He sat alone
                                        In an upstairs room and heard these things: a blind
                                        Ran up with a bang, a door slammed, a groan
                                        Came from some hidden joist, a leaky tap,
                                        At any silence of the wind, walked like
                                        A blind man through the house.  Timber and sap
                                        Revolt, he thought, from washer, baulk and spike.
                                        Bent to his book, continued unafraid
                                        Until the crows came down from their loud flight
                                        To walk along the rooftree overhead.
                                        Their horny feet, so near but out of sight,
                                        Scratched on the slate; when they were blown away
                                        He heard their wings beat till they came again.
                                        While the wind rose, and the house seemed to sway,
                                        And window panes began to blind with rain,
                                        The house was talking, not to him, he thought,
                                        But to the crows; the crows were talking back
                                        In their black voices.  The secret might be out:
                                        Houses are only trees stretched on the rack.
                                        And once the crows knew, all nature would know.
                                        Fur, leaf and feather would invade the form,
                                        Nail rust with rain and shingle warp with snow,
                                        Vine tear the wall, till any straw-borne storm
                                        Could rip both roof and rooftree off and show
                                        Naked to nature what they had kept warm.
                                        He came to feel the crows walk on his head
                                        As if he were the house, their crooked feet
                                        Scratched, through the hair, his scalp.  He might be dead,
                                        It seemed, and all the noises underneath
                                        Be but the cooling of the sinews, veins,
                                        Juices, and sodden sacks suddenly let go;
                                        While in his ruins of wiring, his burst mains,
                                        The rainy wind had been set free to blow
                                        Until the green uprising and mob rule
                                        That ran the world had taken over him,
                                        Split him like seed, and set him in the school
                                        Where any crutch can learn to be a limb.

                                        Inside his head he heard the stormy crows.

                                                                --Howard Nemerov
                                        (published in THE WINTER LIGHTNING)

 

                                                                                                   

December 4, 2009                        

                                                                            Alley Oops

 

                                                        This alley stretches out like a depressive's day.

                                                        Sax's notes were flat as my view of the future
                                                                                        walking Memphis back alleys.

                                                        I'm thrown into darkness like Mother would toss
                                                                                        our alley tabby at night.

                                                        My heart's like an alley to a youth--purposeful but forgotten,
                                                                                        waiting to be discovered.

                                                        Alleyways colorful as a black and white documentary.

                                                        This one stretches longer than all the runways I fear to fly.

                                                        He turned to find the way empty as the last alley bottle at 2 a.m.

                                                        A view of peoples' yards from the alley is like finding a stranger's
                                                                                        diary at a yard sale.

                                                        Long and unreachable, like the alleys of my childhood,
                                                                                        your love felt to me then.

                                                        Forgotten, unkempt as depression-era alleys were your kisses
                                                                                        that night.

                                                        I slip on the gravel of your words, the way my bike would falter
                                                                                        as I tore across our alley on way to school.

                                                        Alley shows your decapitated sunflowers--lots returned
                                                                                        to wild ways of weeds.
 

                                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                        (from   IF YOU LIVE YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

 

December 3, 2009                               

                                                        HE CALLS IT CUNNING

 

                                                        A conning man

                                                        Appearing to go straight,

                                                        Inwardly cannot wait

                                                        To try again. 
 

                                                        Daily compelled

                                                        By rearranging life --

                                                        New job, new home, new wife --

                                                        He won't be held.
 

                                                        Trained to be good,

                                                        But sports tug him forward

                                                        To cash in for rewards

                                                        That virtues should.
 

                                                        Programmed in genes?

                                                        Or encoded by faults

                                                        Of parents without thoughts

                                                        On what life means?
     

                                                        It's the playful,

                                                        Shallow world of pain

                                                        That calls to him again:

                                                        Endless cycle.
 

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                    (from IF YOU LIVE YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

 

                        December 2, 2009

                                                                    The great malady of the 20th century, implicated
                                                                    in all of our troubles and affecting us individually
                                                                    and socially, is "loss of soul."  When soul is neglected,
                                                                    it doesn't just go away; it appears symptomatically in
                                                                    obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning.

                                                                                    Introduction to Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore


                                                           COMPULSIONS

 

                                                            Charcoal smudge whispers

                                                            compel thoughts which carry

                                                            swirling, cold, and urgent:

                                                            child floated on papyrus,

                                                            man immersed in words,

                                                            soul spraying over falls.

 

                                                            Obsessions work the mind

                                                            as a child's magnet

                                                            pulls paper clips from behind

                                                            crisp, white, lined paper --

                                                            empty of study's signs

                                                            except for disguised trace

                                                            this show of force has left

                                                            in a developing

                                                            imagination.

 

                                                            Red dogs approach as friends

                                                            with pup-like whimpers

                                                            that we pick wild berries

                                                            they may nuzzle from hands

                                                            to spare themselves the thorns.
 

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)

 

        December 1, 2009

                                                            Ex Libris

 

                                                            His stare wades through a wide window

                                                            into the stream of February weeks


                                                            past cherry tree's

                                                                                    sated woman

                                                                                                    pregnant with love.


                                                             This moment holds bouquets

                                                                        leaves frozen in ground,

                                                                        petals' leaves in night ink drowned.


                                                                            Below the window

                                                                            he scribbles praise

                                                                            to the wood iris.


                                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)