Thursday, June 28, 2012

Divided 3 Ways

The Time of the Assassins
In the dark of Pearl Street
              a dark like undersea
or Easter Sunday
                              at midnight processional
every step falling
              within the measure
riptide intervals of shattered glass as well
                              lighting votive candles in your eyes
which are like horses grazing
              in an electromagnetic field

The Enemy Is Us
Young girls die for this
47 minutes in a life I was just passing through
fingers precariously accept the gracious gift in letters 2 feet high
walking through walls         Sunset Blvd         when you left
although your eyes remain thinking this
yours & mine         lifting a finger         the “Unfinished Exalted State”
preserved in a movie at the bottom of the sea

3000 Crooked Miles
Japanese surf rarities floating like fingers
lost in a caress from which we provoke
these sordid blessings & the voracious discontent
of our sometime resolve

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tell-Tale Signs

Just steps from where the coast road cuts
its sectioned asphalt bleached by the sun
& fogs & vibroned tire treads of who knows how many
cars and trucks hurtling into the mist where
we parked & stumbled to find a steep
crooked sand path down from panoramic
cliffs to a hidden beach where giant rocks
studded with barnacles & mussels stood shuddering
in the surf & I first saw the Floating Zendo
so deciduously that time with Esmeralda Twang
& Creeping Jesus so that I had to blink
to remember my name & offshore breezes whispered
into the vast unobserved platitude of ocean haze
something that was indicated or that could only be
read upon the rusted dashboard dials of a derelict Buick
rotting & sunken decapitated in a ragged seaside vacant lot
adjacent to the tideflat as in ancient crime scene photographs
where detectives stand & a uniformed patrolman points
the lurid implication of what lies hidden in the weeds
as we might gather ourselves as evidence
the footprints in wet sand just this moment long ago
erased by the waves

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Bells of St. Kahuna

There are fires in the hills.   The ultimate, plangent, VistaVision credit-crawl sky manipulated, perhaps, by radon gas from the La Brea tarpits.   A telephoto image was locked into her eyes so that she could see nothing else.   Cool, catatonic, a career enhancement.   Tentative release dates were discussed.

The sunny, ever-present techno-euphoria that links vacant lots with strip-malls, health clubs with mortuaries & automobile dealerships.   Real estate opportunities.

Palm trees held in the light that filters down from pastel mists of haze.   Waves washing up along the flat, ashtray sand, & we get a little shadow in there as the palm trees sway in a way I love I confess I love the palm trees murmuring above the traffic, above the bungalows of pink stucco where a million hopeless scenarios are enacted as the sun slants down into the rocking, chrome-plated sea & the bells of St. Kahuna.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pump Up the Valium

Take a few steps & you’re in another world
take a few more & you leave that world behind

You must be living somebody’s dream

& the afternoon arrives in time for a change
with motors left running & it’s just you & me
& no tears, but maybe the memory of tears

              which may be the point of it all

                              pointing due north

& you’ll get to say
“The day has come full circle”

              & even if it hasn’t we know it’s true enough

We fuck & think & wonder where the time goes
when it isn’t here

                              & off the coast of Okinawa
an albatross flaps its giant wings
              creating a breeze that travels for days
over countless miles of heaving corrugated steel
                              driven by underwater turbines
across vast churning Pacific maelstroms & lulls
                              just to get here
                                                                where it brushes gently
                                                against your cheek

Monday, June 18, 2012


To Joanne & Donald, relentlessly
To the Great Dale Herd, Brother in the Word
To Leweye MacA—Beach concrete & a garland of seaweed
To the formidable Duncan McN, w/love & admiration
To Noel Black, Sometimes it feels like you don’t have a
              friend in the world, & then you remember
To Miguel, “The Poems” is HUGE
To Micah & Sunnylyn, Think of it as a gothic beach Mardis Gras
              with forensic lullabys piped in
To Jimmy Dunagan—Just when you thought it was
              safe to mix metaphors…
To Cody—A can of Rust-o-leum rattling in the late
              afternoon seabreeze
To Alison—“The buzzing of the bees in the cigarette trees”
To Bill Berkson, On page 22 I was thinking of you
To Ainsworth―Swarming nameless church shadows
              in the rearview mirror of a stolen car
To Pamela, We know who we are

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flight Risk

Starting at zero, or less
the measure & the rhyme as capabilities as
candle- or neon-lit tremors in the nasturtium (seen
in late afternoon shade)
has returned me to the World once again

(this one as opposed to what exactly?)

A birdsong stops you & you wonder―
redwing blackbird?
coastal song sparrow?
beach nightingale?

I thought I saw something move (wings?)

The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock
vs The Birds by Aristophanes

“the Muses / told Hesiod / there was / 4 things got”
1. the Hollow Pearl
2. A Lexicon of Homeric Dialect
3. disposable needles
4. the slow train bends like a woman

There was no mention of birds

Monday, June 11, 2012

How the Mayans Invented Television

Staggering up out of the swamp
drunk on Pacific gas
I map the flutter of every false eyelash
between here & Hollywood             My heart is
arguably a two-way mirror I only recognize because
I had seen the photograph on page 124
& looming on the horizon like Mothra
or Monster Zero stomping with thunderous intent
the sunlight tapping on the pavement like a blind man’s cane
probably has something to do with dealing in a different language
maybe gothic Elizabethan hip-hop
translated into dyslexic Church Latin since
Ophelia still drifts past here, unseen, her sad tattoo & pedicure
3:45 pm, back of Taqueria Vallarta, knowing every step
including the slide & pivot & exactly where that might take you
The subsequent interrogation of shadows just to get a bead on
what happens next
Que te parece, Cholita?
check to see how much is left
& leaning against the redolent haze I readjusted my
bloodshot RayBans & hustled down careening streets
making it back just in time to catch
the Late Late Show

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The spill-out beneath a cathedral sky to the glow subscribed

                                                “who floats
                                                in what, thus
                                                lends it di-

                                                                  ―Chas. Olson

Early morning drizzle of mist on the beach road―a car washing by makes the sound of a deepsea vacuum taking me back to similar mornings in Venice kneeling on my board below the pier―primordial murmurs of ocean & bubble sounds whispered in the hush of foam―the rolling swell gurgling in the throat of Time―& I’m not sure but deep blue, end-of-the-spectrum deep, purling iridescent milk-fed steel.   Everything breathing & fog-lit, expectant, as if any minute now―& drenched in sea-spun velvet―

Somewhere in that damp repository singing I Shall Be Released to solitary bird-notes or piercing cry of gull out of sudden unseen certainty―as the sun now lifts & thins out the mist, flattening it into a high subliminal haze that will filter the incoming downward slant of light & warmth―the magic variegated iridescence on the surface of the water shifts to winking bejeweled sparkle

Now thin creaking Judean palm trees leaning out over the pavement into the fragrant ocean-flavored breeze where I stoop to gather like Ishmael greeting the eucalyptus alleyway with devout footwork & voodoo Buddhist acceptance falling between shadows that scatter & dance―the morning thus a mere reflection, a quick glance back over your shoulder, rippling diaphanous in dust of blue ocean light

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tunneling to the Beach

Not merely what is said but the shape of it
keyed in on a sky the color of burnt kelp methadone
bringing us that much closer

              A traditional serpentine engagement
              as would lead you but
              to spin back in upon yourself

                              & something that hit up against it sideways
                              to produce a kind of ring like the gong-effect in a
                              doppler profile

flow measure   /   underwater acoustics   /   the freight train blues

                                                as if to say “We was ethereal”

& the tide cuts deep & the light
                  just so we know where we are (west) & brief like eternity
in a bucket signing off to thin blue lines crosshatched within a sky that’s now silver in my dreams but from here on out hula-hoops its way to the pearly gates & beyond (primarily at sea-level & beyond) eventually to reach whatever it means this time “The Golden State” in a Cal-Tiki fog sketched out in blurry, sacrificial neon too often made that same bad turn late in the drop, the damp, the close-out drizzle & crush, told its own story about how morning was nothing but a tangle of flame
              beneath a rock
                              at the bottom of the sea

Monday, June 4, 2012

Leaded Glass

Telling Details
That distant star you can see flickering in the night sky has already flared-out & died before you were born.   Light is late.   Physics can explain this but the explanation isn’t at all satisfactory.   Explanations rarely are.   We are always rooting for the light but the darkness always wins.   Twinkle, twinkle, little star.   I’m watching it right now through binoculars.   If I put my hand out I can almost touch it, almost feel the warmth & the sharp edges & the pulse quickening.   The highway is engulfed in darkness & it starts to rain.   Windshield wipers slapping time like a metronome in synch with your heartbeat.   You’ve gone too far to turn back now.   It’s difficult to see in the blinding glare of oncoming headlights, but is that Janet Leigh hurtling through space towards the Bates Motel?

Dimly Translucent But Still Opaque
The poem has no meaning, it provokes meaning, as in that seeming parabolic contraction of negative space which anticipates myth & melodrama.   The drive north was exactly like the drive south only played in reverse.   I recited “Sailing to Byzantium” accompanied by Bob Dylan singing “Dignity” in perfect counterpoint to the measured lines of Yeats.   Almost lost my surfboard near Gaviota when one of the bungee-cords slipped.   The winds shooting up the highway pass there are fierce.   I thought of Dale Herd telling me about surfing at The Ranch.   George Greenough had a key to the Hollister’s gate, or something, anyway they didn’t have to sneak in by boat from the Gaviota pier.

Metaphors Are Not Required
It was beach traffic all turistas & yahoos desperate for some kind of escape.   I took a detour to avoid them.   She was there when I got back & it was easy to see why she stood sideways with her sisters in every snapshot pasted into her family’s photo album.   The engines in her eyes were designed for another purpose, one that had yet to be exploited.   Her neon lip gloss gave every word she said a luminous presence that made me think of the lights along the pier on a foggy night.   I had loaned her my crown of thorns & before she gave it back she had it cleaned & sharpened for me.   Every word she says dissolves like a thread of smoke, leaving a feather-shaped print on the wall, like the shadow of a wing in flight.

Friday, June 1, 2012

I rely upon the kindness of strangers & the forebearance of reptiles

It’s all about the way the clouds are bending
& the anchored wind
as sketched out in an
Arabic moonbook
stuttering like a No Vacancy sign
outsourced to
a ripple-thread of neon
E-changing above the swamp garden
just as my heart would if it had wings instead of aluminum siding
moist & trembling in the late afternoon
haze of smog lingering
& the palm trees they genuflect right there on the pavement

This is the season of uncontested mercy & acoustic glass
as it might be superimposed
beyond the genius of the sea
& you can really bite down into it when you’re wrecked
on nickel shots & love & you’ve lived to tell lies about it

& so the sky tips down it seems only for you
seeing as your tattoo owes more to Paradise Lost
than to The Upanishads
dealt from your deck of wet petals

& soon the coast road is humming your tune
& I’m assuming a plume of mist like shattered chrome
drifts through your veins if there is such a place
just so we’ll know when we get there