Saturday, December 19, 2015

Telephone Call to a Hospital in Pasadena

for Lewis MacAdams

Nothing happens just off stage
we both keep an eye on it
just in case the light rumbles down

& whether it's fate or karma or dumb luck
you wake up to find a nurse taking care of you

"What the matter? Couldn't the nurse take care of herself?"

"You bet she could but I found that out too late"

Monday, December 14, 2015

ODE, or I Can Drizzle & Quake with the Best of Them

The morning awash in winter sunlight
I can already hear the beach traffic backing up on Ocean Street
9:45 am

Backyard's muddy
fallen leaves (plum & apricot)
grass & weeds all overgrown
flourishing in neglect

The dog sniffs curiously at a praying mantis perched on the back steps

A Buddhist insect
(it bows to the four directions
before taking flight,

Sorting out the terminology of poetic sediment
sifting through mountains of the stuff
there's no excuse & no apology forthcoming

All of it returning me to this endless tidal swamp
my native stomping ground here among
sea urchins, rusted batteries, star fish, anemones,
beer cans encrusted w/barnacles,

It would seem you have motel neon running thru yr veins
along w/seawater, gasoline & a thousand postcard sunsets
shuffled & dealt in the parking lot of yr choice

A tangle of weeds
the grass is still wet
paw prints in the mud
destined for Pakistan
or the temple of Teotihuacan

Winter on the coast has its own kind of light
thrives on neglect
scraps of clouds adorn the edges of the sky

            Was the Feathered Serpent originally a praying mantis?

            If you run the numbers you could probably make it work

                                        Wind jewel talisman
                                        sliced conch shell


the dragon in the waves

Monday, December 7, 2015

Out to Lunch

I can still hear my father saying
"Time & tide wait for no man"

         I had no idea what he meant

         I thought maybe it was some kind of riddle

it left me feeling like an octopus peering thru a telescope

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


"A falling object gathers no moss"

         Makes no difference whether you fell or were pushed

         all that matters is that you stick the landing

                                                              never so tenderly

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pain, Suffering & the Sickness Unto Death

(a romantic comedy)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I woke up to a parade of ill-mannered dwarves

entering & exiting thru the bedroom window
carrying sledgehammers, axes, harpoons, Frank Sinatra albums, etc

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Please point me in the wrong direction

& I'll take it from there

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tarantella Two-Step Tango

Shattered sunlight sparkling on the surface of the water
stretching all the way to the horizon

                              just a hop, skip & a leap
                                                                       from here

& I thought the sky looked kind of Hawaiian 
although it's much too cold out to conjure the right type of ambience
to support that notion

                                          palm tree rustling like a grass skirt
in a refrigerator

Should we instead assume alligator huaraches
dark as the smoke that rises from the chimneys of Tierra del Fuego?

The streets are the wrong color for this time of year

old chrome set alongside day-glo sunset neon
& a deeper shade of bleached blonde concrete
rising up to meet every step you take

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Considering the Heart as a Flotation Device

for Joanne Elizabeth Kyger

Dragonfly pauses to rest a moment on a strand of barbed wire

            its iridescent green & blue body
            its double set of transparent wings

                        Bright cold winter sunlight is also blue

                                    Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo

The undulating gaze
when the smoke clears & you have been
absolved in the crumbling light moist w/tears that are neither yours
nor mine
                        just gleamingly wet
                                                                  while the drama waits
                         w/a short list of places to go
                                                                                 things to do
but it's all up to you

& the torch aloe (arborescences) is just about ready to bloom

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sand, Glass, Air & the Briny Deep

(a concerto for electric guitar & pavement saw)

In the vacant lot back of the gas station taqueria
giant agave, prickly pear cactus, salt grass, seaweed & all the lesser
demons & dakinis in the Upanishads
form a vast interactive mosaic

You were there but you might have missed it

Try to remember

Where exactly was the sky?

                                                  for Alison on her birthday
                                                  9 Nov 15

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Reeling with the Feeling

Sample the rolling dark
deep green steel turquoise
& variegated foam

wet sand

oyster music

butterfly fate

Several other worlds intersect or overlap this one
each with its own catalog of greasy regrets
& like a desperate attempt at setting the world's record in
heavy breathing maybe the best question is the one that is
never asked?

The rolling dark rocking
deep green turquoise steel
& corrugated foam

a dance for Boney Maroney, Mustang Sally & Peggy Sue

Monday, October 26, 2015

My tendency to trespass vs the neon palette of sunset

Leafy elegance light & shadow late afternoon still warm & shimmering
low frequency windy music

If anything exists outside of this I wonder what it could be

Monarch butterflies hooked on milkweed & fog & Fats Navarro records

Cement clouds hoisted above the beach

(a complex system of cables, wires & pulleys hard at work behind the scene)

Tufts of dry yellow grass, dead thistle, cracked pavement
& a gathering of monastic eucalyptus trees speaking in tongues
alongside the sand gravel path that leads to the beach below

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Feeling Moonlit

Water, sand, foam
where that sparkle lives
I wouldn't say it was obvious
altho it was & is

guarded secrets & lug wrenches
take up a good deal of our time here
gargling the seven seas plus one other

O oceans of earth & sky
under the influence of a subtropical depression
& the flowering darkness that sleeps inside
stones cobbled along the shore
This must be the place where St. Francis tamed the
wolves she said            & now the rushing whisper of
seashells is all that remains
Time bending space
bent palm
trees in their infinite
wisdom never
made a sound

              October 20 - birthday of both Arthur Rimbaud
              & Philip Whalen

Friday, October 9, 2015

Some Might Say

I like how you turn your head away
when I say I love the way the light
leans against your cheek
Kabuki-style in the parking lot at Taqueria Las Palmas

blue sky zooming in low w/neon highlights


Nasturtium leaves moist, dew-laden, be-jeweled
tremble in that kind of light

Eucalyptus whispers in the looming mist of fog that
rides in with the evening tide
& I'm doing my Wild Man of Borneo routine
the pavement turning to sand beneath my feet

Sometimes you're like a balcony I can leap from

other times you're like a glass of water I'm diving into
from an impossible height

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A History of Violence

The amateur hunchback at Clyde's Richfield U-Haul
corner of Venice & Lincoln
& the out-of-work hairdresser
w/the Jack of Hearts hidden in her kimono sleeve
raking the church parking lot w/eyes like stolen flashlights
begging to be seen & forgotten

Music piped in from Arcturus pre-recorded for broadcast
at a predetermined time no matter how the light bends

A single word read sideways
yr ticket to "Da Poemz"

& the next thing you know you're walking tiptoe
thru the ruins of Western Civilization

with headphones on

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Let Me Know When You Get There

A sense of balance thrown off-kilter         a vector inversion

Gathering up all of the holes in your alibi takes time
& the time it takes is GOLDEN

which is to say
askew         lopsided         crooked         & perfect

You were all decked out in silk brocade & egret feathers
a dozen long-stemmed geraniums cradled in your arms

         It was either sunrise or sunset
                  ocean the color of an abalone shell
        & the blonde sand plunging into a hush of foam made it all
         easy to forget

One could possibly learn to be translucent in that type of light
so if you were to say "I'm looking through you" it could be taken literally

We were riding the same karmic thermal
drifting from one side of the beach to the other

one grain of sand at a time

Sunday, September 13, 2015

It's Not Rocket Surgery

Transparent reflections on the window glass
are reminders of the illusory nature of existence

A dusting of clouds in the beach sky

No one notices how the color changes but it does

Try to remember the sound of a leaf
blown skittering across the pavement

Other colors are playing mah jong & chainsmoking Newports

going to El Segundo, metaphorically

All of it explained, extrapolated & expanded upon in dreams
LET US HAVE THOSE (blinking off & on
behind the eyes

Monday, September 7, 2015

Water & Power

Where was I then?  What was I listening to?  Oh, myself, no doubt, alone & humming a tune I can't remember.  Did you say something?  Of course you did. I understood every word I pretended to hear.  Low end torque & rumble of mid-tide surf wrapping in around the point, foam washing up across the sand, late afternoon blue haze of sky gone gold around the edges.  Your eyes were like damp footprints evaporating on the sidewalk & I was feeling like a flashlight on a moonless night the power gone & the rain sweeping in from the south.  I've seen dusty palm trees genuflect in barefoot alleyways leading down to the beach.  It can be like that sometimes.  The sky melting like a box of crayons in the Painted Desert riding in on the shattered chrome drainage of the rising tide.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

No Shoes No Shirt No Service

The wind kicks up late 
"stirring the eucalyptus kool-aid"
is one way to say it
though my head is bent on the rhyme implied
which is sure to change someone's tune

not necessarily set to music because what
is music? other than the measure of syllables or breath
vibrating molecules of air & at what frequency
in the mind when words are not read aloud
still renders a tone & rhythm & shape
as much in image as sound or whatever claims that

          As for me I'm convinced it all has to do with the
                    bubbles in Mexican glass
                              fucking with the way perspective
                                        grinds against the grain of perception
                    but it only makes me thirsty

Digging the breezes as they go
          steeped flowers & devastation
                    "slow kisses on the eyelids of the sea"

                              I seem to be practicing reverse meditation
                              not even to see the way the mist hollows out
                              strumming the drumroll sand

You could ask who's voice it is this time
& remember how the guitar came in a step behind

& you're counting horses on bingo night
just around the corner from the end of civilization as we know it

& yes it does matter how you say it more than perhaps you know

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Casual Mythology

Exculpatory Evidence
Can anyone ever really give or receive a "blessing"?
Confessing my tattoo
Fuchsia, nasturtium, cypress & eucalyptus
Show me the way to go home

Low Tide Low Life
That was me then as now
tunneling to the beach by way of China
singing I Shall Be Released
& checking to see how much is left

No matter what you say or how you say it
Wind rippling thru the Venetian blinds
rhymes w/the potted palms imitating Samoa
tossing shadows like spare change across the
sidewalk outside the Kung Fu Taqueria

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Learning to Live Without the Survival Instinct

The gray-white blue sky isn't exactly shimmering
above the beach where
seagulls dive into their own shadows

It can only happen here but only when I'm watching

A quick glance back over your shoulder
& the moment is no more
                                                 is gone

"Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder" (quote from

I can pray but I probably won't
as memory frames it
briefly for you or for me or some other guy
who doesn't know any more than we do what any of it means

The poor sick cat in pain unable to move
the vet injects a lethal dose of pentobarbital
the labored breathing stops

It seems I'm not such a tough guy after all
bringing sad broken Earle home in a cardboard box

We'll bury him out back among the nasturtiums

In the dark of the next morning I thought I saw his shadow
moving with that distinctly mincing step thru the living room

bright green eyes flash

then are gone

                                                                                  22 Aug 15

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hart Crane Sleeps with the Fishes

Not the Dark Rose but the CHRYSANTHEMUM

sea anemone

an illustration from The Western Book of the Dead

You ask me who do I consider to be the greatest surrealist of all time
& I say Busby Berkeley

Surrender the spilled drink

put a fork in it

The earliest maps show California as an island

Hazy blue afternoon laying flat on its back
beach pavement running all the way to Yokohama beneath the
variable shade of windswept cypress and tortured rhododendron

On ancient maps sea monsters represent the Great Unknown

"The most fearful of monsters is a well-known friend
slightly altered" (Kobo Abe)

sashimi tacos, two for 5 bucks

Not the fortune palms but the eucalyptus grove slope
just before it rains

& not the Garden of the Hesperides but Zuma Beach
when the seaweed is in bloom

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Air Guitar (8 & 9)

Torching the pier with
Su Tung-p’o, Mayakovsky, little John the Conqueroo
& the Jesuit surf team as light filtered down through the
sweet summer smog
& Mexican rock & roll made the sidewalk crooked
on a re-direct from aliens who were handing out popsicles
Ocean Park the summer of 1975
& I was wiping the rain from my drugstore RayBans
like Rimbaud at Punta Baja
The sky blue ’64 El Camino had a backstory that would
make Coleridge weep into his sharkskin wetsuit
with trouble in mind blues tipping the pagoda stool
I wonder where the sea breeze goes
when it isn’t here?
She said Love is not a dream returning
beneath a sky the color of a sea stone
drenched in corrugated steel
I need a surfboard shaped like my life I said
She hands me a speargun
& a dose of drizzling fog-
mist from an early Sunday morning in July
so promulgated between tides
There’s sand in my ear & a million reasons
the air was seasoned with salt-
mist & car exhaust & your heart was like the T’ang Dynasty
edged in rust & Mexican turquoise
bending like a spoon to the flame
It’s always summertime somewhere
                                                            June 27 - July 14

Monday, August 3, 2015

Air Guitar (6 & 7)

                                     When it’s your dice or mine, all
or nothing,
                          that she be there in all her splendour
(Charles Olson) reminding me of how warm the pavement could be
         at night in Ocean Park the summer of 1975
                  released on your own recognizance . . .
A damsel in distress drifts past, unseen,
her sad tattoos & pedicure,
3:45 p.m., back of Taqueria Vallarta, knowing every step
including the slide & pivot & exactly where that might take you
         as sunlight filtered down thru the sweet summer smog
on a re-direct from aliens who were handing out sun glasses
                  & Love is not a dream returning she said
It will never leave us when it goes
“Do you know at the offering of which libation
the waters become endowed with a human voice
and rise and speak?” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)
From the beach it looked like Victory at Sea conditions out there
Sky the color of a sea stone cradled by the drizzle tide
Everything wet, trembling, waiting for you to make the next move
The haze of smog that lingered in yr veins
all summer long when the seaweed was in bloom
& you were bending like a palm tree in the breeze
I still have the photograph & the scars
& the silkscreened cover art in full color
(even black & white)
The light the air as yet unbruised
They call me Pagliacci but my real name is Mr. Earl

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Air Guitar (3-5)

The hand is quicker than the eye.  Okay, but
what about the speed of thought, the swift-
ness of emotion, the sudden recognition--
in a flash it’s gone.  “Fare thee well . . . ”
Sky the color of a sea-stone
drawn with blue-green T’ang Dynasty crayons
somehow rhyming with the remorseless passion I’m
attempting to skate through
The light the air as yet unbruised
was silver sometimes was emerald
but from torn canvas spilling rust
revealed to us the numbers of the heart
arranged as if by chance
& so we strike another match & pour the amber slow
because it is the only dance that you & I will ever know

Wet sand          beach tar        seaweed           
silver           emerald          rust         & salt mist
“It’s only a head wound, Ma”
(nothing that can’t be fixed w/a little nail polish)
darkwater             sunset                albacore   
Your eyes like neon burning in the streets of Tijuana, Japan
broken glass         sea foam                 
T’ang Dynasty cigarettes soaked in gasoline
“Please list your name, address, & permutations”
Cormorants in their feathered robes huddled on the rocks
above tidepools edged in rust & Mexican turquoise
“I can drizzle & quake with the best of them”
shark tooth         bird shadow 
flower of Michoacán

Sometimes the mist drifts past like a great whale
other sometimes it’s more like a Martian landing party at 
        Oxnard Shores
MORNING TWILIGHT        in letters 20 feet tall
The roadside ferris wheel & opium vendors with
trouble in mind blues tipping the pagoda stool
The light the air as yet unbruised
was silver sometimes was spraypainted with Paleozoic graffiti
to explain why the ocean is wet
The process of dreams without language
to bridge them from the reef to the shore
reflecting stones like clouds etched in glass
the wet pavement too much like the sky this time of day
but from torn canvas spilling rust
revealed to us the numbers of the heart

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Air Guitar (1 & 2)

It’s always summertime somewhere
& you’re walking back from the pier in someone else’s
Tijuana tire-tread huaraches
beneath a sky ripped from the tide book soaked in gasoline
& though our hearts remain pure as sunbleached pavement
we all have our dirty little secrets
& even if we don’t we can always pick up a few along the way
just to say Love is not a dream returning
& this is where your heart knocks to break
as if it was me tapping at the glass
& little John the Conqueroo lit a pipe
like Lopez at the Waimea
on a re-direct from aliens who were handing out cough syrup
as sunlight filtered down thru the sweet summer smog
The light the air as yet unbruised
with vinyl upholstery & tinted windows
transports me to Ryoan-ji via iambic pentameter
& the Tijuana Sloughs
What about the speed of thought the torn canvas spilling rust
crepuscular Vermeer albacore bottlecaps
w/antediluvian puddles (poodles?)
Her darkwater pearls & Mexican silver
folded into sand swept by foam
reminds me of how warm the pavement could be
at night in Ocean Park the summer of 1975
released on your own recognizance . . .
& just as in the tragic relationship between flamingo & flamenco
the truth kind of sneaks up on you like a perfumed cigarette

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Morning Glory, Beach Glass, & the Deep White Blue Haze

Your sins (those
that are secret & those that are less so) are
quite lovely this damp mist-laden morning
Transcending the particular
whereby generalities are permission to mediate invention
itself transcendent
I’m thinking of Rebelde Radioactivo (1965)
by Los Sinners
as well as the dark silver of the sand this time of day

dark blonde I’d say
a dark
blonde                        streaked w/tar
set alongside the heavy green glass of the tide
warmed by small fires buried beneath stones underwater

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tunneling to the Beach

The smoked glass of tidepools on the last day of summer
mirror the midnight sun at noon
as in the Palatine Anthology
& the light falls it doesn’t fail you can switch it on & off
I had an idea about bent crystal altho I guess it’s
only the light that bends
as at the Venice pier at dawn & later
down the Speedway up around Pacific & Windward
grinding the curb
Somehow near seems far away
Pick it up & set it down
Times when the light just seems to crumble
& the day gets away from you
whatever you are this time
Take a deep breath & let it go
& then it’s night & the TV’s on it’s
The Tattooed Stranger (RKO, 1950)
In the flickering light I keep reaching for a phantom ashtray
the moon gently tapping at the window

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ode to a Buick Skylark

Another drizzling gray summer morning
I wake up to cold pizza and a cup of coffee
“the breakfast of champions”
         & so the daughters of Memory
                  riding in on the pale light
                           perform a little bump & grind
sworn to green scenes right out of the tide book
         w/bubbles & like glistening
                  catalogs of subtropical flowers
                           printed on silk sleeves of fog
         If I wasn’t there you’d have to
         dream up someone else to talk to someone
         else who wouldn’t listen because the song the
         wind sings in the eucalyptus is cranked up to
         10 on the voodoo dial & if you had wings
         you’d probably make a similar sound
Sometimes my heart races like a vintage Corvette
w/a blown head-gasket
         other times it’s more like a
                  rabid chihuahua
                           chained to a palm tree
                                    in the rain

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Limited Engagement

Giotto’s sky versus some kind of oceanic symphony
by Jackson Pollock
Tracing patterns that occur deliberately
which is to say completely by chance
“He was all the time talking to himself”
“Couldn’t get a word in wedge-wise”
“They said he had a bi-polaroid personality”
All you really need are EMERALDS, PEARLS, & aspirin
(325 mg, a bottle of 300 tablets)
peacock feathers
When the dime stops spinning we could trade transgressions
(I had always thought the denouement was a
call to double down motherfucker)
Heartbeat.  Footsteps.  Rain.
The transition from one to the other to the next
Shadows within shadows as in a film
I called it Romance with Opiates (A Limited Engagement)
Now playing at a theater near you

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Check to See How Much is Left

Each Day Spills into the Next
Heaven’s Ghostly Refrain
behind a pair of mirrored aviator shades
– Is that bad feng shui?

End of Summer Sale
Chalk it up to nerves & a feeling for
dark corners where there aren’t any.

I’m assuming it was systemic
as it lead to all kinds of fancy slide-step action
while wearing a lucha libre mask.

The hot wind from inland was dry & scented w/ozone
like an old library copy of Pliny.

4 Wipeouts & a Funeral
The Colonel told me that I had eyes crazed from
a thousand years of killing whales.  I took it as a
compliment & put on my sunglasses.

Remember the Shadows
The Chumash were one of the
few native nations to
bury their dead in a prone position
A single grave would be used for
more than one body
over the years.
The bodies were separated by
layers of whale bone.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ed Ruscha Said They Called Her Styrene

Damp ash-gray days strung out like pearls
         a pre-existing condition
                  bubbling up from the cracked pavement
No one ever said it would be easy but it was
         & the implication these remnants betray
                  relegated to the depraved indifference you so
                           carefully cultivate along with
                                 revoked apparencies as here the tail always
                                 wags the dog
but when the drink hits the fan
         in the middle of your
                  underwater ballet lesson
         the resonance is as derivative a consequence
                           as a ransom note
                                    written in seagreen lipstick

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

¿Como se dice?

Turning back while looking dead ahead
The daily dalliance that often seems so crucial
Say it one more time as the drizzling truth of the matter tends to
stall out on the transfer
                                            The phrasing of the late afternoon ocean
              & whatever money you've got in your pocket right now


                          "Where did
                                  of blue
                                                 come from?"

Neon highlights to an otherwise dreary tale of redemption
like whatever’s left burning on the altar…
Summertime is knocking at the door
Black palm fronds (plumes) a tangle of nasturtiums
Fall asleep reading Death on the Installment Plan
Peruvian lilies
quite by accident

Monday, June 1, 2015

Small Fortune

Kicking thru the weeds in a tin can vacant lot
listening to Mr. Soul on somebody’s transistor

Evidently a Design Flaw
I concentrated on my footwork which
she insisted on referring to as an “exit strategy”
but I wasn’t so sure of the rhyme scheme
in the third stanza

24 Hours to Kill
“If you are expecting poetry to
tell you something you can use, you better
reconsider the wings on the poet’s sandals
and the rules of the game Elegua plays.”
                        ―Duncan McNaughton

Live from the Forbidden Planet
The distribution of the
divine graces plus seven
sacraments & the over-
whelming realization that
you can’t run from a gorilla

Christ dragging his cross thru yr flesh like a plow
She had that “Let’s get
hammered” look in her eyes
& I said that I would meet her
halfway there