Friday, June 10, 2011


What stings the most about
the rain that falls tonight
isn't the angle it strikes
the eye
or how bitterly it burns,
but how it
soaks a sodden reality
down the back
and through the clothes,
how it washes the dust
off the shoes to reveal
the hard truth shining beneath.

You know how to be dogged
as well as you know
how to shadow your eyes,
know how to be cheated on
as well as you know how to serve
a cold Corona or hot coffee,
you know how to be stood up
as well as you know how to coordinate
a stunning outfit,
you know how to be lied to
as well as you know how to
angle a bun atop your head.
But just as you don't know how
to walk out onto Arctic Ave. and
determine which lane
points to Miami
and which to New York City,
you haven't learned
so simple a thing
as how to be loved by a man.

Perhaps that class was never scheduled
in Atlantic City elementary schools.
And who knows how many battles
a heart must bear before
it clenches into a fist
and begins to respect
only bare knuckles.
I cannot claim to know,
and so I wear no black robe,
carry no gavel,
call no courtroom to order.

This however,
makes the rain
no less raw.
I understand how some come
to take the tenderness of a man's hands
the same way they interpret a tear
in the bottom of a paper bag,
to hear the softness of his hello
the same as a leak in the roof,
see any sensitivity as a sign
he can't be dominant.
But I had almost convinced myself
that you were too wise to be
numbered among them.

Any fool knows that Yen
don't spend in Paraguay,
that Yuan are worthless
in Wichita,
and thus I accept
that whatever currency
of kindness I wave
might be counterfeit
in the hardware store
of your heart.
But it's no less devastating
a downpour that streaks the cheeks
of the streets tonight.
I had hoped to purchase
some hurricane matches,
to kindle a small flame
in a fireplace,
but this storm has dampened
all the cordwood.

The question is if
you wish
to learn to unstack it,
to set it out in tomorrow's sun,
to rotate it until all sides
are dry as an eye
which has never learned
to cry.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


Knows the notes
you know to play
and the notes
you need to play
shimmer to shape
what you cannot say,
even if every note
could be explored.
Fears even if
every note is known,
meaning might
remain unreachable.
Knows what
you could’ve meant
is a melody
forever moistening
your mouthpiece,
filling the fifths
in the next bar.
What you could’ve played
and couldn’t play
rooted in the same chord,
which is always extending.
That Desire stretches
across a bed
in a suite
you seem to enter
next to a rope
of incense smoke
you remember,
in a hotel
you may not
check out of.
Every tongue
wants to probe
the mouth
of Imagination.
But what notes
the cursive smoke
is writing
blue the I.
A naked triad
tempts the rhythm.
Are you pure?
The key motif is modulation,
says the piano,
mercy, mercy.
In the acknowledgement,
during the opening riff,
there are
the mysteries of
the quarter moon.
It’s the first set.
The audience rocks forward,
well dressed, observant,
bopping with resolution
above their half-full glasses.
Like an august thunderstorm,
your sax threatens
to sanctify
the fingered strings
of the bass
as the unholy sticks cross,
but the cymbals
have the sound of cymbals
that are unheard.
So the audience,
witnesses and testifies.
You seek,
and they follow,
in a chorus-like fashion,
along the back wall,
and by the bar,
grooving in unison.
Filling the four chambers,
exposed brick walls,
color of brittle earth,
a room hurting
with dissonant exaltation.
And the smoke rises,
pursuance, pursuance,
The melody in the spirit
of shadows
flashes in the mirrors.
Then a door opens,
and the crowd's eyes widen.
Psalm, says the sax,
because the chairs
are full of ears,
opened religiously,
craving serenity.
Nimbus, nimbus
says the sax:
but your fingers
can’t find
a complex enough chord.
Notes played and
notes to be played,
what was almost whispered
and what couldn't be said:
no redemption,
but these digressions
on the downbeat
raining, raining . . .