Monday, March 30, 2009

The Lemon Tree

Photo: Unknown

It seems dreamlike to me now as I look across a sea of intervening years, but as a child, comforted by the warm light that typified California summers, I remember feeling adventure lay around every alley corner and down every tree-lined street. Adventure is still important to me. As a boy though, almost anything was an adventure, even if the adventure was recreated a second or third time around. One of those adventures involved meeting innumerable relatives, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.

A return visit to my cousin Ida, with my grandmother, meant the best lemonade in the world and lemon meringue pie I have yet to see equaled. These goodies were made from giant fruits that hung from a glossy-leaved tree near Ida’s back fence. The pie was always made beforehand, but lemonade meant a run through the rainbird sprinkler and across a postage-stamp sized lawn, every blade of grass holding a sparkling, jewel-drop of water. At the end of my run waited the lemon tree.

Before picking any of the fruit, I was given strict instruction as to how many and how the best lemons would feel and look like. "They will just fall into your hand," were Ida's instructions, "They will feel very dimples! ... And don't get too wet in the sprinkler!" As I picked each fruit, I would smell the brilliant yellow rind and almost float on the scent of lemon oil. That smell lingered on my hands and clothing for what seemed like hours afterward.

When the lemon tree bloomed, the fragrance not only filled the garden, but floated into the little house and added an exotic hint to cookies filled jam, and pão doce, a Portuguese sweetbread usually made at Easter with colored eggs nestled in the top, which cousin Ida always made for visitors. A scent of lemon blossom pervaded it all. My cousin said the lemon tree and its fruit are a parallel of life, an apposite. Life being a thing to explore and enjoy, all of the bitterness, all of the sweetness. There will never be a guarantee: you must taste and you must explore to know the truth. That is the promise of the lemon tree; to know, you must taste. Cousin Ida seemed to know about life and she certainly knew about lemons and the lemon tree.

Ida was my grandmother’s age, maybe older, and when my grandmother and I would arrive she always asked, “Who’s your little friend, Maddie?” and without waiting for a reply, she would ask me, “Que é seu nome, menino?” What’s your name? She knew my name; she probably just wanted to be sure it was the right one. After reminding her for the millionth time, she would usher grandmother and I into her living room where an old, old upright grand piano filled one wall. On top of it were tiny porcelain animals, collected over the years; one was a figurine of Saint Joseph only three inches tall. Cousin Ida also collected glass hats, a habit she shared with my grandmother, and more than dozen in different colors lined some small shelves above her old fashioned sofa.

In a white wire cage there was a canary, a male that would hop wildly from a swinging perch to the bars and back, all in an instant. Occasionally he would burst into song filling the house with a silver trill and causing Ida and my grandmother to break into laughter. Ida had silver white hair, but she used to flit around like the canary, a dynamo. Ida seemed to be able to produce almost anything at a moments notice. My grandmother dyed her hair black and looked so young, people would ask if I were her son, a real live wire, my grandfather used to say. Ida was an even more electric personality. She was an indefatigable shopper who encouraged anyone to “buy it if you want it, it’s just money. Live dangerously!” My grandmother would exclaim, “I don’t know where she gets all that energy!”

After pulling my grandmother around the room to show her some newly acquired possession, Ida and grandma would perch in chintz-covered armchairs and ‘discuss’ family, with my grandfather always being the first target. Then other cousins, unnamed and uncountable, and in-laws would be examined under their verbal microscope; one female cousin usually bearing the brunt of their contempt; “if I acted like that I’d kill myself”; “that woman is impossible”; “what would her mother (a much loved Auntie Erminha) say if she were alive today?” They would pat each other on the arm and reminisce about my great-grandmother’s philosophies of life; “if your bed is made and your dishes are done, your house is clean.” Through it all I was expected to just sit quietly and respectfully, especially respectfully.

I sat on the sofa. It was an overstuffed affair, covered in a rough but slippery material that poked me through my trousers and would not let me sit still, and even when I tried the slipperiness of the fabric sent me sliding unwillingly toward a colorful rug. I don’t think I was really expected to listen, but I knew the time would come when the language would slowly shift into the musical tones and abrupt accents of Azorean Portuguese. I thought it was the most beautiful language in the world.

Its words used to send me on strange flights of fancy, mentally flying over the nine green islands and beyond to Lisboa where they sang the fado that old Auntie Erminha used to sing so quietly as she sat. Finally, even that, and watching the canary would begin to pall and I would ask if there were any lemons on the tree.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Happened

I didn’t watch the red sun set today
The sky was blue till stars appeared.

I went inside my head to visit
A recollection wavered viciously.

I saw passing seasons of pleasure
Memory kept still hemorrhaged.

I motioned to a passing thought
An emotion permanently frowned.

I didn’t touch the green grass afternoon
The road was gray in shadows.

I passed a wondrous song
An idea promptly shattered.

I spoke an extraordinary word
A theater revelation burned.

I stirred an astounding dance
A paralysis emerged triumphant.

I didn’t hear a darkness sleeping
A bed had primitive awakening.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Night Owl

Photo: Diego Fernandes 2007

Like a large school of fish, a crowd of people is leaving a southern California movie theater. The lights from the lobby behind them turn the crowd into a bobbing, waving mass of silhouettes, each indistinguishable from the other. As the throng of people reaches the sidewalk, it breaks into smaller groups, couples and singles. The cake batter bowl pouring its final drops into a baking tin. A final drop remains poised on the edge of the bowl. A young man deciding on the direction he wishes to take from the theater.

It is the weekend but tomorrow he has promised work to one superior or another. He has no thought of trying to avoid the work, neither has he the desire to return home immediately. The film was very good and has left him with a pleasant excitement which could be nicely capped by a short stroll to the 24 hour restaurant up the street and thirty minutes or so just sipping the rest of the day away with a cup of hot coffee; no harm, the bus wouldn’t be available for another forty minutes anyway. The decision made, his easy stride takes him to the coffee and a window booth in five minutes. He smiles as he remembers his way through the film. After a third cup of coffee his mind suddenly jumps to the present and his eyes find the hands on a wall clock indicating the passage of forty minutes. Almost violently, he throws money on the table for the coffee and tip. Pushing his way through the two sets of glass doors to the street, he notices the way his reflection on the doors tries to escape back into the restaurant. On the street again his dismay mounts when the taillights of the bus pull away from the stop across from the theater. His sudden anger at himself propels his body into three running steps then pulls him to an abrupt halt. His stormy countenance changes to a grin. There’s nothing he can do about that bus now; perhaps there’s a later one. Feeling once more in control, he strolls to the bus stop and reads the schedule for that evening; the last bus of the night is another forty minute wait. He returns to the restaurant.

A smile and an explanation to the sympathetic waitress regains him his former seat at the window and a new but free cup that apparently refills itself magically as the young man returns to his reverie. A buttered cinnamon roll joins the coffee. Thirty-nine minutes later, the young man again bounces money on the table and runs for the doors. He waves to the pretty waitress as he departs. As he pushes through the final set of doors the bus passes in front of the restaurant toward the stop in front of the theater. With an incredible burst of speed the young man follows the bus up the street, knowing he can make it in time. He must make it in time.

The bus does not stop. Even pounding on the bus doors, a shout and an extra burst of speed do nothing to slow its progress. Inside the bus, the driver hears the shout to stop but smiles to himself and says to a young lady in the front seat, next time that guy will be at the bus stop on time. The young lady simpers; the driver is her new boyfriend and she is very fond of him.

Angry with himself and the bus driver, the young man throws himself on the curb and sits cross-legged with elbows on knees and hands supporting chin. The green light from a streetlamp gives him the appearance of a brooding beast. The young man’s anger does not last long; he is not given to worrying over things he cannot change. He is young and he is rather naïve, but he is not unintelligent and as his temper abates he takes stock of his situation. His pockets reveal that a taxi is out of the question. He must walk, or hitchhike. He has never in his life had to hitchhike or felt the inclination to do so. The walk has been made before, but during the day and a warm day at that. The evening is cool and a faint mist is beginning to show itself in bright halos gathering about streetlights. He does not like the idea of hitchhiking. In his mind it feels the same as begging or panhandling. The decision is made to walk. His goal is seven miles away.

Two and half miles of walking in the chilling air and thickening mist convince the young man that perhaps hitching a ride might not be so bad. Five minutes of riding in a heated automobile would not be seriously indebting himself to anyone. It is now two-thirty in the morning a bank sign informs him. Two-thirty; fifty degrees; zero six percent. Six percent?

There are very few cars on the road. Ten or twelve pass him, headlights appearing out of the mist suddenly, some even veer wide to avoid him. A few more autos go by and then a city policeman slows and pulls to the curb in the inverted white cone of a streetlamp. Just my luck, the young man thinks, now I’ll be arrested for hitchhiking. The policeman is very friendly when the young man tells him of the situation. Quite a predicament agrees the officer. I don’t suppose you could or would give me a ride, the young man asks hopefully. The patrolman shakes his head, we aren’t allowed to give rides … your best bet would be to keep your thumb out, sorry. Have a nice evening. Pulling away from the sidewalk and the streetlight, the red taillights of the patrol car fade in the ever thickening, swirling mist.

Well, the young man smiles, at least he didn’t arrest me. More cars, he thought, more cars.

Another mile. Another mile. Two more miles to go. Where are the cars, this is a big city, where are the cars?

Under another streetlight he stops and waits for a moment. His breath is beginning to tear a raw spot in his throat with the effort and the cold air. Looking behind him two headlights float in the fog, an unblinking stare, a great bird of prey, pinpoints of light unattached to anything, pinpoints of light slowly growing into great beacons. The mist seems to rush toward their center then vanish. Even at fifty feet the car is still invisible, but it begins to coalesce around those warm beams of light, a white car, a large white car. The young man cannot identify the make of the automobile. A large white car has silently found him in the fog.

Inside the automobile the driver sees the pool of streetlight and a young man with his arm out and thumb up. He gives a short laugh and to himself thinks how strange the fog makes everything appear. The young man wouldn’t have been visible if not for the glaring white of his t-shirt and the headlights reflecting off his arm. He must be cold. T-shirt, corduroy pants, deck shoes, he must be cold. The driver pulls to a stop beside the young man. A nice looking young man he thinks, a nice looking young man.

Pulling up beside the young man, the white car glides to a silent stop. The young man hesitates. His mind races; someone finally stopped; I’m only a couple of miles from home; my first successful hitchhike; why did this guy stop? No one else did. I am so cold; if I accept the ride, will he ask for gas money; what if he’s turning at the next street? The window hums as it slides downward a couple of inches into the car door. The young man can see his reflection in the glass from the streetlight.

Do you want a ride? Where are you headed? An anonymous voice asks.

Don’t hesitate, just tell the man where you want to go and he’ll tell you if he’s going that way. Yes, I’m going to Seventh Street, is that a long way out of your way?

Get in. No problem.

Get in, the driver said, no problem. He said get in, no problem. It must not be out of his way. The young man opens the door and almost jumps into the car. Thank you, thank you, thank you, the young man overflows thankfulness.

You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome, the driver laughs at the young man’s enthusiastic thanks.

It is really cold out there, especially since I forgot to bring a sweater or something, I really appreciate this. The young man pulls the door shut as he seats himself. The car’s heater must have been turned on full because the young man feels his feet warm almost at once, then as he rubs warmth into his arms all his senses become alert. The softness of the car seat, is it velvet? It is like a very soft easy chair. He smells a heavy musky masculine kind of what? Perfume, cologne? And underneath the musk, an odor of, was it sweat? At the moment the young man, though he could not say why, thought of the pretty waitress at the restaurant where he’d had coffee. Coffee sitting so bitterly now on his taste buds.

The young man becomes aware of two other senses almost simultaneously. In his ears, a kind of dull thump or click, and his eyes see in the yellow light from the massive dashboard, the driver.

The driver is a big man. A very big man. A man with arms borrowed from Hercules or Atlas. The driver is wearing a kind of t-shirt with a collar and buttons. A ribbed t-shirt. In the strange light it looks dark blue. A t-shirt with a collar. The driver has very pale colored hair, is it blond or white or platinum? The young man can’t tell. The big man’s face is outlined, his profile outlined in yellow light from the dash. But the young man can’t concentrate on it, just a face in darkness, a normal face on a very big man.

The young man cannot concentrate because the driver wears no trousers, no shorts, nothing. He just sits quietly behind the wheel of his large automobile, his huge muscular thighs spread comfortably apart on the bench seat, his dark blue t-shirt with a collar and buttons straining its seams over his well-developed pectorals, with nothing else on. The young man feels like he has been punched in the stomach. The young man is almost hypnotized by the size of the driver’s erect organ; is hypnotized.It sprouts like a ship’s mast, a skyscraper from the driver’s groin, a groin furred with hair that looks red in the odd light, each testicle is the size of a chicken’s egg. The young man can see, stares at, the driver’s genitals; an enormous organ and testicles like a bull’s, because the driver has no pants on. The young man tries to imagine, to will pants onto the driver but the driver has no pants on, the driver …

Do you like it? The driver says calmly as he pulls away from the curb.

What was that sound, says the young man, what was that sound I heard? The young man feels himself shaking, trembling, fighting for air. What was that sound, the young man repeats.

It’s okay. I just locked the doors, it’s electric. I locked the doors here from my master switch, says the driver, here, do you see? He must have been pointing at his master switch, but the young man is looking at his own door for the lock and the door latch handle.

I don’t think this is a good idea says the young man. I think I better get out here; would you let me out here please. At the next light is fine. I’d like to get out at the next light. Could you let me out at the next light? Thank you for the ride.

Do you like it? I think you probably like it, says the driver. Why don’t I pull over where we can relax, you know, and you can feel it, touch it. Touch it all you want. You a very nice looking young man. Would you like to touch it?

No, he doesn’t really want me to touch it. He doesn’t really. This is not really happening, this man has no pants on and people always wear pants when they drive cars. You can’t get out of your car if you have no pants on. Where are his pants? No, I don’t want to touch … I don’t want to touch it; I would like to get out at the next light please?

The big man, the driver, sounds angry, don’t play innocent, you like my cock, you want to touch it.

Please, sir. Mother always said to say sir. To say yes sir, no sir. Yes ma’am, no ma’am. I am not trying to play innocent; I just want to get out here at this light, if you will please open the door. I can’t find the door handle. How do I open the door? Please sir, please open the door. The young man can feel himself losing his air. The car is very hot. He can smell the driver’s desire. He can see the driver’s desire. The driver has no pants on.

The young man takes a deep breath as the big man turns away from the main road. I have to go that way sir, I have to work tomorrow. Please.

The young man finds the door handle and pulls but the door will not open. The door will not open. The driver chuckles. A friendly chuckle, I have to unlock it from the master switch. The big man sounds very kind. I like you, young man. I think you look very nice. I want you to like me, am I so bad? Look at me, am I so bad? The young man could not look at him. Come on, says the driver, very softly, look at me, I’m not so bad. The driver watches the road casually while a heavy right arm moves gently across the space between them and a massive hand locks around the young man’s chin. The driver turns, forces, the young man’s head slowly toward himself. You see, I’m not so bad.

The young man tries to pull the driver’s hand from his chin, but the driver slowly tightens his thumb and fingers into the face, the jaw of the young man. The harder the young man pulls on the driver’s wrist the tighter the driver squeezes. The pain is terrible. The young man finally lets go; the driver still holds his head but stops squeezing his fingers into the young man’s cheeks. See, I’m not so bad, am I?

Somewhere along the road the lights on the street stop being there. There are no more streetlights. It is dark except for the headlights and the yellow light coming from the dashboard. The driver turns the big white car to the side of the road and then turns into a circle of trees. The driver must have known the place.

When the car makes its final stop, the driver lets go of the young man’s face. I want to be nice to you he says. I want to make love to you.

Why, says the young man, why do you want to do this to me, I just wanted a ride. I just wanted a ride. The young man feels tears running down his cheeks and wipes them quickly off. Mother said men don’t cry. The driver is watching him cry in the yellow light of the instrument panel. The big man is watching him cry. Men don’t cry.

The driver pulls the young man toward him maybe to hug him, but the young man beats at the huge arms and says don’t touch me, don’t touch me, don’t touch me. Then the young man slides as far away from the big man as he can get. I don’t want to hurt you says the driver, I want to make love to you. I want you to like me, but I will hurt you if you make me. I will hurt you.

The young man is more frightened than before, more frightened than he has ever been in his life. Why do you want to do this to me? Why are you doing this to me? I just wanted a ride. I just wanted a ride because it was cold. I have to go to work tomorrow, please just let me out.

The big man just looks at him and says sadly, I don’t want to hurt you.

The young man takes a deep breath and says calmly, please let me out, I’ll walk home from here, please.

For a moment the driver just looks at him, then he slides his arm slowly across the back of the seat until his fingers are just brushing the young man’s cheek, then he slides his body a little closer, then he puts his hand against the young man’s ear. Then with his whole hand against the side of the other’s face, he gives a sudden push and the young man’s head hits the car window. I don’t want to hurt you he says. The young man’s nose is bleeding. The driver reaches over with his left hand and wipes the blood from under the young man’s nose. He does it very gently. Then he wipes the blood on his leg. I want to make love to you, not hurt you. The young man is silent.

The driver wipes more blood from the young man’s face and looks at it in the yellow light. Then he looks at the young man. This is your blood, he says. The big man slides his body just a little closer, I like you, I want to make love to you. He puts both of his huge hands on both sides of the young man’s head. The driver leans his head forward as if he is going to kiss the young man but when the young man says, you’re sick, he pulls his head back calmly as if he is thinking about it, then slaps the other very hard with his left hand, the one with blood on it. More blood comes out of the young man’s nose and splatters against the big man’s arm. The young man can see it in the dim light. Black spots on a big pale arm, like the man hadn’t been very careful when he was painting his house. But it isn’t paint, it is blood. The young man’s blood, and his right ear is ringing from the slap, he isn’t crying now, but tears have spurted from his eyes when the big man hit him.

Why are you doing this to me? Why? I just wanted a ride, I just wanted a ride. What is happening?

I saw you by the road and I thought you looked cold. The big man looks like he has tears in his eyes. Why is he crying? I think you are beautiful, I want to make love to you. Am I so bad? I don’t want to hurt you any more, but I will if you make me. I’ll take you where you want to go, but first I want to make love to you. I want you to take off your clothes so I can make love to you. If you don’t do what I want I will rip them off, and I will hurt you very badly.

The young man says something rude, but when the big man starts to move very quickly he screams wait, wait, I’m sorry, I’m sorry and in one motion pulls off his t-shirt. He holds out the shirt to the driver like it is a gift and says again I’m sorry, this time more calmly and then again, I’m sorry.

The big man puts his hands against the young man’s chest like it is something he has never seen before and makes a small sound in his throat. The young man is shaking so hard he nearly throws up. Please sir, I think I’m going to be sick he says trying hard to hold back the vomit.

The big man says then like a policeman or a doctor, you are not going to be sick. And it is almost like magic, the young man doesn’t throw up but he is still shaking and still very scared. Please don’t make me do this the young man says, please don’t make me do this. The big man smells the young man’s t-shirt like it is something holy. Both hands holding the shirt pressed against his face. How old are you, the driver says, you smell like a little boy, you smell like a beautiful little boy.

Please don’t make me do this. Let me go, I promise I won’t say anything to anyone, I promise. Please.

The driver knocks the young man’s head up against the window again but not as hard as the first time, and then he slaps him again but not as hard as the first time. I want to make love to you, not hurt you. Don’t make me hurt you again. Take off the rest. Take off everything. I want to see all of you. You are very beautiful. Take off the rest.

The young man starts to say please but very quietly, like a priest, the big man says every time you say please I will slap you. Do you understand? If you say please, it will be like you said please slap me. Then he says give me your hand and when the young man holds out his hand the big man takes it and puts it under his t-shirt against his chest. The young man can feel the massive muscles under the shirt move. Does that feel good, I have no hair on my chest, does it feel good? Then he slowly, slowly moves the young man’s hand down toward his groin. The young man tries to pull his arm back but the big man keeps a very strong hold on it and when he is just touching the course of hair that runs from the navel downward the young man pulls extra hard and says please … the big man just lets go of his arm and makes a small tsk-tsk sound, shakes his head and with his right hand pushes the young man’s head up against the window again, this time very hard.

The driver pulls his t-shirt over his head and gazes at the young man for a moment. He seems even bigger without his shirt. In the pale light he fills the car. Then he leans across the young man with his enormous body and holds him against the seat while he pulls the young man’s shoes off.

Wait, wait, the young man cries. What have I done, what have I done? He can feel the inside of his cheek has been cut by his own teeth. I just wanted a ride, a ride. The young man can taste blood in his mouth and feel tears on his face. The driver has unfastened his corduroy trousers and is jerking them down over his hips. Even though he is kicking his legs and trying to hit the driver with his pinned arms the other man is so strong it is like an adult with a small child. His underwear has come down with his pants and when the big man has them all the way off the young man urinates from fear. The driver does a strange thing; he wipes the urine on himself like it is cologne. Then with one arm holding the young man against the seat and another arm pinning his legs the driver lowers his head to the young man’s sex. The young man is so frightened he is seeing bright sparks behind his eyelids and can feel his heart pushing against the driver’s arm. The big man’s mouth is sliding on him and saliva is running down between his legs because there is so much of it.

The young man hears himself screaming as though from a great distance. Stop. Stop. Stop. Why are you doing this to me? Why are you doing this to me? I wanted a ride. I only wanted a ride. What is happening, what is happening to me? Oh God, I only want a ride. Stop. What is happening to me? Stop. Stop. Please stop. Please, please, please, stop …

He is seventeen and it is the young man’s first sexual experience.

The Book Of Lies

Photo: Diego Fernandes 2003

Starting in the mid 1980's I went through a horrific period of insomnia and strange happenings which included out of body experiences and what were to me, strange coincidences. I am aware that when I say out-of-body experience a few people will immediately turn away in disgust and ask what my drug of choice was at the time. I do not ask for belief. Beginning in about 1983 and continuing until the mid nineties, I experienced a period I call Chapel Perilous or my Insomniac Period. I have since had other insomniac periods and we are, all of us, currently in Chapel Perilous. Do not believe me; look around. The following poems are from that first mass in Chapel Perilous. Ave Eris.

My Room

My room needs reform
To mend the error of its ways
My room is like a Mexican bus
Crowded with people and belongings
None of them seem to be me
None of them seem to have me in them
So I am looking for me
In my blue cold depths
Where breathing stops
Life drops away.

The Mighty Pen

I know I have the wretched thing in my hand again
It keeps making these bug like marks marking
On page after page and telling bottomless stories
Stories that make no sense and making colored lies
Into steel colored real words and it’s just
A pen all right a pen which traps me but I can’t seem to
Control it I can’t I just grab it when it jumps from
My pocket my notebook wherever it’s
Hiding and it clicks and starts to go off like
I threw a match into a Chinese fireworks
Box and I keep hearing these explosions
Like old battles inside my head explosions
Just above the pituitary gland so when I hear it
When I hear it moving around I pretend to sleep
I just pretend to be sleeping and I lay I lie in
My bed queen-sized trying to go back to sleep real sleep
There in my queen-sized bed that folds into a couch
A couch shaped great big origami dragondog so I lie I lay
There and I sweat and I pulse and I try not to think
I try not to think with my eyes closed I try not to think
About my brain-igniting pen I try not to
Think about how close it is to my hand but I do
I think about it and how close it is to my hand so I
Keep reaching for it I keep reaching even in the dark
And finally I make my feet my legs kick and kick
And kick again and my legs and my feet kick my hand
I can see my hand is reaching for that damn pen
So my legs and my feet kick and I use my head
To bat my pen-grabbing traitorous hand
Away but I bang into the wall with my head so
I know at last my hands struggle to find the pen and
The electric black panther light is won and
The electric black panther light goes
On and one of my hands one or the other grab
The damn pen even when I don’t want to
I don’t want to grab the damn pen I don’t
But it’s just jumping and squirming like a fish there
In my hand and finally lands splat splash hard on a
Piece of paper from my notebook a paper towel
A Restaurant napkin anywhere it wants anywhere
Anytime it wants even when my eyes are closed
Especially when my eyes are closed it just jumps
Right in and starts another battle for the
Last word.

Old Folks

Old Mary’s scary
Old Fred’s dead
Old finicky Tom, gone
Old Becky’s peckish
Old folks just passin’ on
One after another
Dads sisters brothers mothers
Old folks just passin’ on
Tellin’ stories to no one
In particular, just talkin’
To kill time before it kills them
Old folks old friends laughin’
Carryin’ on till memory ends
Pleasant old folks
Just keep passin’ on.


I take sudden contemplative moments,
Little incidents where I steeple my fingers.

So I can feel, I can sense, even in the dark,
The pads of my fingers balancing.

Leaning against each other, pointing outward,
Into space, away from earth and me, into

The unknown, the divine, the poetic,
Really I’m just sitting here feeling myself.

Fingering my own pulse, a thumping rush
Of heart blood, through a universe of me.

I watch these same lumpy fingers move,
Move at my command, writing some words,

These words, just as I tell them they must,
And it is impossible, it is impossible.

While I Was Out

How do I explore insanity
Except by going there
On my days off?

I have come to pick bone.
Tell me if it’s strange as it seems:
A sign said “Personalize the Unknown”
(Leave a beer can in someone else’s dreams?)

Say it loud, say it clear!
“I do not wish to hear!”
Because then it’s true your fear
Won’t even take you near.


How’s by you?

said wall to floor.

Says ceiling, I got a good deal.

I get to see all.

Window breaks in, I see clearly

from my point of view.

It’s just a trick of gravity

that keeps you there at all, said floor.

Says door, do I let in

or do I let out?

Your function is to swing,

agree the others,

between what is us

and what ain’t.

In Time

Under Hecate’s argent shield
Silver Septembers flow like fabled Nile,
Past and Present Future toward history.
This image fades and drowns
Under October’s dying crimson leaves,
Piled like Khephren’s monumental effort
Against the blood red struggles
Of the three million days, dead and gone.
That end of millennium, the gift
Nearest to the heart of man,
Apocalypse, the final onomatopoeia
Will not from any mortal lips issue.
Those hopelessly desiccated yea-sayers hear only
A canted and cacophonous hosanna,
And nay-sayers embarrassed beliefs
Fall away to reveal the core of nothing.

Slowly toppled
By the gravity of gravity,
Clinics of cynics,
By the slime of time
And the attention span of man,

These histories become mysteries,
Forget their creators,
And bury their makers under acres
Of waving green grass,
And birds sweetly singing.

The Device

Red velvet mask of beauty,
Jewel-riveted to the laughing skull.
Each eye, the flame of a million suns
Maw, portaling star-studded void,
Rage of Law, lotus flower
Boon child-friend plaything, awesome benefactor.
To what altar does this gift purchase itself?
How purposed, to shadow
The Mother; the mute Mother?

Whisper, sacrifice.

A child of her womb
Wields the killing blade.
Wherefore have they this tool,
When to them ceremony is unknown?
Who has deeded these devices
To the unschooled?

Gods may demand appeasement thus.
Against such hunger but caution them;
Worship never nurtures from fields of stone.

Read them this epilogue:
Weed wrapped in astral dust,
Of ice these tortured arms enfolding
Herself the sepulcher;
The Mother stands
Tearless, intestate.

The Lover

When do you come from?

Do you know?
I’ve seen you before
And I’ve heard your voice.
I am afraid to touch you,
For fear that you would vanish
Or that I might be never able
To let you go.

When do you come from?

Do you know?
I saw you and I felt a fire
Raging in me from long ago.
Your gaze unsettles my head
I want to fall inside your eyes,
Follow that dark tunnel
Until I lose my name
Inside of you.

When do you come from?
When do you come from?

Do you know?
Do you know?

I see you next to me
In back-to-back mirrors
My chest grows tight
I hardly breathe
My hands shake.

Manhattan Trilogy

They sewed a great dream
into the stone of Manhattan
and now it rusts.

Stroked by silver gloom
I am scarred with its flail
I lay floating in black night
waiting for death that overtakes
us all.
My promise, an endless golden river,
flowed over the street stones
of my paradise
left the infant dying of thirst
I told lies in charity’s name
I opened my arms to the hungry
and devoured them.

Broken glass streets
Litter of high excess
Blood of stars symbolic rapture
Staining minds with old wine smells
Sparkling with taste, merry-hued
Textures still sanguine, warm.

The Generation Of Me

I am ancestored in Greatness.

Part of my Illustrious Me survived
The siege of Bangalore

Part of me was born in Bangalore

Part of me survived the Charge
The Charge of the Light Brigade

Part of me loved through a shipwreck
In the Irish Sea

Part of me found enough to eat
In the Great Potato Famine

Part of me made a dangerous trip
A Trip Around Cape Horn

Part of me fought in icy seas
Fought in icy seas to kill whales

Part of me lived through a migration
A Migration Across North America

Part of me fought and survived
Though wounded in The Boer War

Part of me fought and survived
Though wounded in the First World War

Part of me survived not fighting
Though not wounded in the Second World War

Part of me survived the telling of all
These tales of the Greater Me

I marvel I am here at all.

Conditional Man

If a man,
Made millions
Millions of dollars
Then he gave those million dollars
To all the starving charities

If a man,
To starving charities
Gave all his million dollars away
His life savings all his million dollars then
He’d be a Gave It All Away Philanthropy Hero

If a man,
A Gave It All Away Philanthropy Hero
To fill his empty stomach to eat stole
His next meal a piece of fruit an orange
Then he’d be a thief.

Summertime Love

I wish
Oh I wish
I had moments to spend
Looking for flowers
And time wouldn’t end
Time wouldn’t end.

Oh Summer
For lovers is best
Laughing in sunshine
But pleasure’s a jest
Pleasure’s a jest.

Oh Summertime
Summertime Love
Green grass and tall trees
And moments for kissing
Won’t you come be my
Sum-Summertime Love

Oh Summertime
Summertime Love
Old clothes and warm days
And youth we’ll not miss them
When you come be my
Sum-Summertime Love

There’s seasons to tease you
There’s seasons to please you
But Summertime Love
Is the best love I know

Oh Summertime
Summertime Love
Our sorrow will start when
The leaves are a’fallin’
So won’t you come be my
Oh will you come be my
Sum-Summertime Love


Heavy odors,
Of unwashed clothes
And the sometime sweet, wet broken earth,
Blows me along a dusty farm road
In a hot wind of late summers
Across Florida, Indiana, California
a sandblaster wind grinding me,
To smooth bone, away.

Heavy odors,
Of the bountiful earth, miserly man
tying me with orange blossom ropes
to a burning harvest sun
fading my jeans, fading my hope
suffocating my futures
all in Mother Nature’s love.

Quaking Children

Tigers crouch under the bed
Poison snakes coil in the blanket
Shadows of dread wait in the closet!
Breezes from an open window
Stir cobweb draperies;
Monsters of infinite strength lurking
On bedposts remain unmoved.

Quaking children fear evil
Only sun power can dispel

Routed in daylight, It waits till nightfall
Where, formless, It waits
For tiny groping hands
Reaching for familiar shapes
Find only terrors
In darkness draped.

Shivering child, says Blackness Whispers,
Your mother lies near; will you … go to her?
I, will show you the way
Only infinite miles of my corridors,
Laughs the Dark

Come, small one, your trembling tickles me,
Such a short way, a little to the left,
… A little to the right, a little to the left,
And then straight
For as long as your heart beats …
I only laugh because you tickle me.
Child, leave your cave of blankets
Where sheet caverns outside your ken
Freeze the ends of your tiny toes
I only want to play with you,
Emptiness whispers,
I only want to play …

FLEE! Says Teddybear, and run for your life!
Please, but don’t leave me behind!
Swing the cave open and jump from the bed
FLEE! Says Teddybear, take your friends if you can
Whispers Darkness, if you can … if you can …

Right behind you, says Terror, I’ll stay right behind
I know a game comes the Whisper
We’ll make it a chase!
Isn’t it sad though,
That even my snakes
Slither and crawl faster than you in this race?
Don’t look around Child, don’t look around.
Is your heart beating faster?
Is that sweat on your brow?
Oh, did you notice,
Little one on the run
I’m not laughing now?
My shapes all surround you
They tear at your clothes
You may reach your mother with your friend the bear
But Child, whispers Darkness,
Have you thought what you’ll do
If you find she’s not there?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Photo: Diego Fernandes 2009

The heart of darkness beat
A pulse in my dream
Damp in tropic heat.

Dread Word’s iron hold,
Sweeps me from the wakeful
Toward sanguine fantasy.

Surging through adamantine forests
A great green river swirls
Twixt heart and lungs and head.

Dive I must into that verdant stream
My breath padlocked for safekeeping
My nerve steeled against discovery.

The surface ripples origined
Of an abatis of corpses
Lost to atavistic impulse.

Bodies snagged in the past
Strangers and friends
Gone, dressed in memory.

Destiny, a cruise companion
Had bought drinks all around
Laced with primitive venom.

Surfacing, I found allies vanished
Lights darkened; myriad death
Turned them all legend.

A hero, a suicide, a mystic
Fouled against martyrdoms
In a theater of ages.

Distemper painted souls
Hung drying from sky balconies
To horrify the living.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Photo: Diego Fernandes 2009

The future, like the silver sea,
Is riding invisible somewhere outside.
The eye of my heart peers forward.

That unknown and limitless land
Collides against a raven shore of history.
Where my memory lies enchained.

The ship to far shores rests,
It’s anchor weighed in this moment.
A gangway bridges murky experience.

Its captain stands ready for a signal,
Longshoremen have cast off most lines.
Boatswains caper about the deck.

Yet the cargo is not fully stowed,
Full provisioning incomplete.
I await a manifest item.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Sun Was Shining

PHOTO: Diego Fernandes 2007

The sun was shining today
And I wanted to writhe naked,
I wanted to roll like an excited dog
In all that early green grass.

I’m ready for the itch.
Feeling tiny blue flowers
With white and yellow centers
Here and there on the hillside.

The meadow, once hidden
Is now surrounded
Civilization moved in with
Windows looking watchfully.

The hills around up and down
Near and far house littered
Every one crowding the open
Staring furtively from the trees.

Grand McMansions with
Hilltop window disdain
From up and up, to near and far
Spying on the open fields.

My hidden dell isn’t.
I wanted to sprawl naked
Absorbing sun like a sponge
Feeling those hot fingers.

I wanted a sun massage.
I know it’s still winter but
The sun was shining today
And I wanted to lay naked.

All those windows gave me
Guilt and immodest modesty
Got the better of me
So I merely strolled.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Photo: Diego Fernandes 2009

Our strange passage through times
Reveal naked silence under clamor’s cloak

Sound dressed to drown
Ominous inward silence

Silence driving fearful life
Toward noisy oblivion

Din the garb of every
Emptiness of dark silent space

Silence a hidden cadaver
A shape hidden under racket

Sound fills an empty room
With echoes off nothing

A question recoiling
Drawing back from answer

Touching electric shock silence
We’re thrown against chaos