Aug 14

Lovers Should Lie

Of course lovers should lie—lies form
a certain kind of shelter against
the deluge of reality, and it isn’t a lie
so much as you fix in place a quantum
superposition to a single state:
yes, you are beautiful,
yes, I love you,
yes, I never doubt you, especially never as much
as you seem to doubt yourself.

And I don’t know why—because you
make me smile? Because life is boring,
and you must therefore be death itself,
because you make me feel so alive?
But I believe all the lies, I believe that
the sun rises with you, that the moon ascends
directly from your dreaming face, that tides
advance just to be nearer to you.

Every poem is a tender lie.

And if there’s a Heaven for each of us,
it exists in the mind of those
who truly loved us, who saw past
the dying flesh into a glimpse
of the fleeting eternal.

Adrian, I am sorry for everything.
Adrian, please.

And I don’t even know myself, don’t know what
it’s like to be next to someone like me, and
he says my eyes change color almost every day—
how odd it must be to fall in love with someone like that;
though of course I’ll never know what it means
to look into my own eyes, to hear my own voice
slip a delicate lie deep into my ear…

Jun 25

Good Morning

Sometime overnight the bedroom windows fogged—
the pillows sucked in the faintest scent of sweat, and
the slats that form the floor have chilled, but like the
fog, the morning’s embrace will evaporate soon.

I am happy to sort and wash your shirts and
fetch a second glass while I get up for water;
I’m content to nod my head when ignoring you, and
I’m happy to not ignore you overmuch.

Hold me until the air around us breathes,
hold me until the air conditioner loses its bite;
I journeyed through the desert afternoon
to arrive like a Magi to your evening arms.

And something else is like our bedroom, someplace
else echoes the landscape of us—grass on rolling hills,
Mission Trails Park; you appear to me in darkness like a
wandering grey wolf that stalks the well-worn paths at night.

When I met you I was a wildfire, I charred
the hillside; I burn still, something thick
and black clings to me, I swelter and crackle
through each of these long lonely afternoons.

But let’s forget about who I am or was, forget about your
matted fur and bloody teeth—here we make our bed between
the embers and the wolf tracks, the pillows and the floor;
at night in sleep we become each other, like a fogged window
becoming opaque.

Jun 21

Faces (Again)

It’s who you meet at a party,
or on the street walking by,
or at some strange group where you got the
email from a board hanging on a wall in a coffee shop.
It’s the sort of thing you enjoyed as a child—
random exposure to people, every new face
an infinity of possibilities; and after all,
who you meet at work, or even
down the block, is a certain kind of person, the kind
you are, and like fresh vegetation, or even fresh
mental meat, it pays to meet someone from an entirely
different set of circumstances:
   different car,
   different clothes,
   different definition of remembering
   the specific brands of bread and peanut butter
   used in their Kindergarten sandwiches…

An even greater thrill, like mixing drugs,
is to do all of this in a different
country, a different language.
But of course, Tijuana was an easier thing
in the 90’s—bright and garish and fun and
there was yet to form a steady flow of headlines
about beheadings, kidnappings, the sharks that swim
the ocean, that circle bloody water…
There’s also a kind of thrill in plain life;
the average world isn’t that dangerous, typically, and
you’ll only encounter the occasional specter:
an auto wreck, a man having a stroke
in the vegetable aisle at Albertson’s
among the plump red tomatoes.

And finally, of course, is the face
of love, desire like a wrecked ship’s treasure:
full, heavy, and entirely underwater.
Lovers feed from strangeness,
from the contrast of their remote histories.
That’s why, then, the best loves happen
in chance meetings, situations where you can imagine
yourself as someone else entirely, someone in love
with this new face.

Jun 21

Dawn Horizons

Fringed in purple as the sun creeps up
behind them, the hills seal off
the horizon, their texture
abraids the sky in the rough relief of
trees and boulders; deep-cut grooves
wind within the bushes…

The morning wind bites as it cools
and I imagine myself a snake in dirt
as I survey the mountainscape—
as if I could see the cold as surely
as I could feel it, could see
precious heat bleed and fade into the morning
like blood soaking through a bandage.

Engulf, blanket—not quite the right
words to describe what the morning fog
does within the air—
fields along this valley transform
into oceans of mist and even a dog
wondering the sidewalk seems as alien
as a glowing angler fish deep beneath the ocean…

The world in these deep California valleys
renews itself, each morning a subtle phoenix
that ascends from the mist and streaking daybreak…
I know a secret, too, and I’ll share it, though
the Spanish priests knew it, too:
this is a sacred place,
this whole of Southern California,
for beyond our dreams and freeways
is mystery within mystery,
with the California sunlight
as crisp as a cut on the tip of your finger…

Refugees. Saints.
And to witness every morning in silence
is to recite a common prayer
that this is the final place
—just before cliff-face and ocean—
that America has one last promised land
that arises anew each morning
within the misty valleys, the fog-swept beaches…

Traffic lights tick on along the streets,
the freeway entrances slowly build to a hum
eventually, but still
in the still of the dawn
they don’t feel out of place—
the notion that I could race across the valley
like a lost seagull or a local God
remains as common as putting one foot
in front of the other…

And as the sun rises on a tile floor in a Spanish mission,
as the freeway lanes bleach and brighten in daylight,
and as the mist fades into the faintest taste in the air,
I know each daybreak affirms
our transcendence…

May 21

The Opening Of A Blossom

The opening of a blossom
reminds me of birth and death
but—all at once!—the strange
transformation of aging balances
between the budding and
the fading; the flower spent
its youth already, yet it remains
full of promise; the blossom
peaks out, hints at itself
with a swirled petal, an
unfurled leaf that cups
the edge of a blossom tenderly,
like how a lover would hold a face
between his anxious hands…

I imagine a great bell
in two dimensions, a graph
of life and death itself, with
the edges held in place by the
bloom and by its reverse, the anti-bloom:
the final contraction of petal against petal
into the blossom’s drying death-bed.

And these are my favorite flowers:
budding or drying, full of life or
full of death but still
full of beauty either way.
It’s like the beginning and ending of a song;
it’s like a grandson on his grandmother’s lap;
it’s like early Spring and late Summer—
a single season pure, filled with only either
promise or memory, and the full bosom
of hope and regret.

In fact, I think I wish
I could order bouquets just like that:
filled with blooming and fading
with the young rose tight and supple
and the dried rose ravished and graceful;
I hope that when I die
I remain just a wilted form,
an echo of every decade of my life
nestled deep within my leathery petals…

Apr 23

Again About My Dog

Even my small chihuahua
who protects me from the living room window
from strange passers-by
barks with all the might
that eight pounds can muster;
you’d be surprised at how much life
can be wrung from that amount
of muscle, bone, and sinew.

But then, how strange are living things!—
these glowing sparks,
these white-hot embers
God has flung out against
his cold and ancient world.

And as my dog regards me
with big brown eyes of bright concern,
and waits for my responding glance
to reassure him,
and then sinks into his blanket,
I receive the warmth of love,
like a morning sun-ray
that wakes you from your sleep.

Apr 13

The Santa Ana

I know Winter in San Diego
by the Santa Ana—
dry and hot and something more,
it dresses the sidewalks and streets
in a peculiar heat.
A Santa Ana season breaks just like
a fever: sudden like when you plunge
into the frigid ocean,
but also just like a fever
in that it inflames the senses;
flowers drool their scent, their pollen,
insects bumble more slowly,
and the horizon of asphalt swims in the air
like the sun’s shimmer off the sea…

Blanche DuBois must have visited here
to know exactly that feeling
to hold an afternoon within the palm
of your hand, to roll it between your
fingers…

Also like a fever—the air burns so slightly
and anything lying in sunshine feels as warm
as skin, as the blood rushing beneath;
somewhere someone on I-5 unrolls his
window to a flood of warmth, somewhere
someone sinks into a pool while the garden’s
final fall flowers sag and blur color in heat,
and every green thing loses itself, loses a bit of
life…

And as I step out into the warm darkness in Santee
where it feels like the night itself holds you
in the deep palm of its hand, holds you against its
beating chest, I feel
somehow
baptized.

Apr 02

Morphing… Poems To Return Periodically…

Publishing poems on this website generally excludes the possibility that they can be submitted to a magazine, online publication, etc. This website is, technically, a published medium. I have stopped posting my poems as I write them in part because I want to save some poems, so I can submit to outside publications.

I expect it will be a delicate balancing act—I don’t want this site to get stale, but I need to keep at least some of my “best” material for other publications.

I have been writing at San Diego Writers Ink Tuesday Brown Bag, so that generally produces four pieces a month. I imagine that at least one of those could be posted here, monthly.

In addition to the occasional poem, I’ll post any places I have been published. As I mentioned before, I was accepted in the San Diego Writers Ink “A Year In Ink Vol. VI” anthology. So, stuff like that…

Hopefully, any soul who wanders here can now make sense of what I’m doing here…

Mar 19

Timeless

The towns like petals, centers, clumps,
I call them towns, neighborhoods, communities,
municipalities, camelots, townships—
what do you call those things in California?
Unreal city Eliot would say,
and mayble Los Angeles is but
by the time you get to San Diego
—dropping straight through Orange County—
it’s a stew, a group, a cluster
of so many little pieces,
with freeways like so many tubers
that form the bed beneath the dirt
beneath the garden;
even Los Angeles isn’t Los Angeles
so much as it is the Valley
or Santa Monica—
so many little worlds
with only the freeway that rushes through
to even know of the outside world,
to even know that this little twenty square mile strip
isn’t everything there ever is,
isn’t in itself the world without end…

California approaches time itself differently:
a string of moments like links in a necklace,
a daisy chain of realities,
and as my mind flies over and
surveys it all indifferently, like a
pelican off the coast hunting for fish,
of course I think of you
of both of you really,
the two of you, one 24 and one 40;
it’s something about men and time…
time just happens to men
—not like women, who mark time with their bodies—
and when it just happens like that
it kind of never happens at all…

So alright, 24 or 40,
either one of you
could steal me away
without so much as a moment’s notice
to ride the freeways
in your car:
5, 805, 405, 10,
because I know that there
as I sit next to you
and as the road mixes dirt and grass and whatever is growing
into a perfume of motion,
and as we pass down that majesty
—human will visible from space, the American Great Wall—
I murmur the name of each town, like a prayer
when the passing freeway sign announces it;
next to you, there, the towns will be
that daisy chain
and honestly
I can tell you, even as the sun sets
it won’t ever end…