poems

29 June 2012

Neil Young can start a song with 'There's a town.'

23 June 2012

#132: Landscaping

I could not look worse in my license picture. In the past,
Dad heaves spit over into the sink, washing his face.
Do you think they would let me retake? I
ask through the door. "There's a fee though."
When I am out of town I say I hate California.
Out back, gardeners buzzing down wisteria.

Scaly rolls cool, iced on a rack in the kitchen.
The view of out back shows the gardeners' mouths
bandaged in red bandanas, sweat dyes their shirts.
Mom places a plate of cantaloupe outside for them.
I think about Mexico, Tijuana and tamarind candy.

#131: Carlton

Why keep from extending neighborly affection?
All the country is my work area, but the when
makes difference. A window I have not
looked at a long time I see now
does not reflect my house back to me
but shows the next-door garage and its white
contents, nothing, and when open shows
the street. A whip and rifle decorate the wall.
I turn to breakfast again and away from it,
nauseated by smell of old coffee. On his porch
he simmers with a cigar and the TV
turned to the horse races ($100 on Dairy Cream).
We stole summer from that man (his
beer and oranges) and grew up with it.

17 June 2012

Love Horoscope, 17 June


Nobody else can make you suffer. She knows
she is pretty and he tells her you’re
pretty and she tweaks, every party’s
trills lilting. The moon moves out
of Taurus at five in the morning
on Sunday. On waking he is pretty.

Mercury (18 degrees Cancer), sesquiquadrate
(waxing). Consider there is no
pretty. She beats him with the
thought of lack, of “want of.” Neptune
(3 degrees Pisces fast frigid).
His “pretty” is translated to her “not.”

He gets away with turning away instead
of back to the crest of the hill with an
ill-disputed statue glowing on it. By night
pairs and groups have gathered, idling,
mangled, trying not to flail in a telling,
to watch searchlights from concerts hit the monument.

15 June 2012

Loose Translation


Book 2
Neptune, swollen, rocky
From surface to shoreline, crushed,
Plummets. Glittering wooded Libyan coast.
Pious Aeneas pining: new city,
Alien queen, dead wife, brine
Beach, happier soldiers. Some cut it
In pieces, quiver, flay in strips.[1]
People like
Aeneas because he vacillates. They identify.
They hear change falling out of his pocket.

Book 4
Sic velut[2] they arrested Celeste. Broke horses.
Heroes mama’s boys. Servants pour
Water over their hands. John Lee Hooker:
“Me and my baby don’t get along so well”
If Marilyn’s
        Not a natural blonde
There’s no such thing, but who’s
Counting?

Book 6
Hurry up and forgive me
Everyone.

Book 12
The curves, of course,
Were real,
the knots of the horse.
Our hero pours faith into remakes
And sequels forthcoming.


[1] Aeneid I.212: “Pars in frusta secant veribusque trementia figunt”
[2] “Just as if”

Alternatives


When readily available for use
I keep things neat,
And without going anywhere
I would be hard to find.

Kept things are neat.
I like hiding from the weather.
I would be hard to find
Behind the ferns, my place beyond the pool.

I liked hiding from the measure
Of how brown summer was
In my place beyond the pool behind the ferns.
From the looks of it my friends are sunning too.

What summer barely was
Was careful not to give its place away.
My friends were sunning from the looks of them,
But they, too, took preventative measures.

I am careful not to give my place away
Though ready and available for use,
Too taken by alternatives and measures
To go anywhere without.

Johnny Come Back


It was ugly how Aphrodite choked up on the surface with a sea-rash.
I wore blue silk and black silk ribbon and a
Fishtail braid to junior Formal, tossed the white
Corsage. Now it’s Judy’s turn to enroll at Bennington and to cry.

Judy whose father ate the exo- and endocarp of fruits.
Cellulose don’t hurt and can’t horses eat apples whole?
Today I am tough though not divorced, and eat all parts,
Johnny’s swimming wings that win him titles tautening.
Sick hacks to think I don’t know what they’re planning,
Olive curtains as far as they drew before sticking.
Bettina visiting mad Hölderlin wore eyeliner nicely done and
Transcribed all he madly said to play back after.

Home Shift


I miss the familiar wildness. School does me
Good is my report to family friends at spring parties
Of the reunion type. Get my own
Chardonnay outside. Our blissed-out faces bleach

The beach house walls. Rob rich, Kathleen remarried.
Take it from homeowners: La Jolla’s worth the wait!
Gummies in glass bowls butt fried chicken’s flat platters.
Get more of a different wine as recent grads

Mangle the foosball table in a tricked-out garage.
Longboards form a corner phalanx. I do not miss
The course of forced camaraderie, that hoax’s bitterness,
After words, civility washed of twice-tied hands.

Mere minutes after, the compulsion compunction. Need
Clean fingernails, he apologized. The faces on the shelf
Fell squarely in his lens, cloistered, relative triumphs.
How it’d been. Meant no more festive surprises.

Aisles

The longer he’s seen, the less a man looks like himself.
Brave was the first woman to take herself home
From a movie. The trip inside
Has the same seeming outcome.

In the common space near the apartment
Ivy will bleed over rubble
Which will keep saying nothing.

At the grocery store, numbered aisles.
In the kitchen, dirt, tile, eighteen
Seconds on the microwave timer and a red set
Of Matryoshka dolls, nesting like Chinese boxes.

Back Lot Palette

Henry Treadway

Sunlight on the fence makes his covered canoes
From before look like Rothkos: tomato and jewel
Tone turquoise that perch on balsa. There was
A suicide down the block before. The peeling
Red paint is marbled like black cake or wax.
Spigots branch up with rust in their noses
Beneath leaves. Strokes of white stucco
Scar up the back of the building from which
Henry fell eight floors, the balcony
People will stop kissing on until at least
Summer since there is always the fire escape,
Its tomato colored stairs and dimpled rungs.

The face was a chamomile scab. Yes, it’s been
Sunny this winter. A tarp, chocolate, lifts its chest
To fan the canoes. The lot is matte
And dumb as its trees, sulking, sweep and bend.

07 June 2012

Casuelas Cafe, Palm Desert

Humberto, our waiter from last time, was taking the same tables as Thursday, and we were seated outside so Ivonne got us. The tables outside were thin slabs of off-white marble on iron rods painted teal, boxed by solid little mintgreen chairs. The cushions of the chairs were glazed over with teal plastic. Their iron backs were cast into the shape of overlapping palm fronds; the grooves of the seaweedlike fronds had been thoroughly oxidized into whiteness, giving the back patio the appearance of shimmering underwater. This was helped by the misters positioned beneath the dozen ceiling fans. Patchy masks of bougainvillea gave shade. Apart from the table where my sister and mother sat, there were only four other occupants, a pair of leathery Hawaiian-shirted lizard elderly hunkered down over their huevos rancheros.
Ivonne: Quesadilla vegetal y flautas!
We drank pink lemonade. After the meal I fished a piece of ice from S' water glass to wash my hands as it melted, then dropped it on my side plate. As it bled smaller and smaller I recalled the chips I'd laid on my burnt knees poolside. Today was significantly cooler than the weekend at one hundred and two.
In the bathroom I examined at the walls (painted tile) but found no place to change a baby. There were two mirrors plated in worked tin facing each other. On my way back to the patio I saw a big-shouldered Mexican man holding a baby in his broad arm, the baby with a pink bow tied around her head, his tiny wife chowing down on chips and a black plastic mortar of salsa.
The old couples had gone by the time I made it outside. Mom went on the hunt for Ivonne, who had disappeared without leaving our check but who burst through right after that, flustered. The wind picked up sending the mist away from our faces, which grew warmer. Waiting for Ivonne to return with the credit card worked us into a little postprandial paroxysm of laughter that culminated in S spitting a mouthful of water gloriously across the table into my leftovers.
We signed the receipt at the bar - Ivonne had vanished again. The big-shouldered man stood in the parking lot beneath a palm tree with the baby, its ears pierced with gold-and-diamond studs. The man at the barbershop next to Casuelas strode out in a blue polyester cloak to wag his finger at his friend's new baby. Eventually the petite wife came out of Casuelas, patting her hair, and the barber gave her a happy squeeze, his black hair sweating.