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This island is scared
its ancient granite has been cut
to build temples and gravestones.

Hurricane Island, a Maine island
fog drenched spruce clad
holder of fragments, unfinished
scattered grave stones, curbs, steps
drilled and cut and marred, scattered
on the shores
its ancient solitude ripped open
even to the outer sea bashed edge
the edge of the soft grinding sea
cutting fissures in the ancient stone
cutting aquiline lines.

Hard cut edges of the quarry
tower above a pool, a grand bird bath
with squawks and caws
of gull and crow contesting
air space above dense mossed trees.

Quarry men dig into the root
the oldest crustal parts of earth,
genealogists seek roots in other men
dig in old manuscripts
and grave stone legends
wanting a permanence like granite
for themselves in heaven.

Gently scoured by air sea and sand
unreachable ocean edge prominences,
ancient uncut stones, reveal
soft edged, sleeping Buddhas,
Mahabalipurim temples,
sea softened shapes
where gods emerge.
The slime beneath
the Buddha is
the beginning.

So, here is man
claiming permanence
using cut granite makers
denying his slimy beginning
his finite moment
creating heavens, nailing ancestors
into a choir celebrating
his transcendent soul
failing to accept death, the birth price.

the force of the sea
grinds away the scratches
of names, the cryings
of I, that was, engraved
in the ancient stones.
Chthonic rage
scours away all marks
restores the softer shapes,
the real sleeping Buddha
nurturing life to come.

7/26/06 On a mooring at Hurricane island.

Black Leaves

The leaves are falling wet
decaying, the year ending,
when the living shed
exuberant bright color.

But there are trees here that were cut down
by twisting winds, a summer’s tragedies,
uprooted or broken in the middle
healthy, tall strong trees that were
crashed down to earth and now clutch
their black and brittle grey leaves
above the colored ground for years.

As were my brother’s drawings
when he was cut down in his prime
his designs, his colors, were stored away
withheld, no wonderful realizations then,
his paper buildings would not rise.
As the green leaves would not be colored
or released in the flurry of fall
there would be no light hearted spring,
all his promise was held in, tight.

We must think of our falling,
of our failures proceeding new growth
our promise, our renewal
as our cycling years continue,
As we age there are fewer leaves to drop,
thinner branches to hold them.
But, there is always more to blossom
all the way to the end,
else war, disease, human blasting winds
cut the flow and natural ebb
and promise is filed away in dark drawers,
like the clutched black leaves
that will never drop.

From my chair

Only, from here, in winter
have I the scope to see the extent
of clouds and the milky way
else, as now, the leaves of my forest
occludes, shades and hides
sun and storms alike,
in summers calm and peaceful state.

Leaves fall, bare the woody structures
limbs and trunks; a lattice work
fencing, but revealing distant hills.

In summer the animals, deer
fox, coyote and fisher cats appear
at the edges of the density
of green dark enclosures,
birds dance between and above. —

We need both the enclosure
and the bare openness. The exposure
summer and winter bring
is a long slow deep breath,
our spirits inwardness and exhalation.

October 2010


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Undulant passages, a bird light song,
and a brilliant sun mocks the melancholy
music the quartet unfolds,
a cat jumps, dust motes float
I am content.

Bare trees waving in wind gusts
screen the farther dark ridges
behind their woody lace
a barren mauve, a blue skyline.

But within tranquility is subtle shifting
nature is not content

We cannot ignore
cannot pretend like sheep.

We’ve eaten all the grass
and the wind is blowing
the soil away.

The sheep are content today
their stomachs are full

will the grass grow tomorrow?
Who can foresee,

Roman Attraction I

(Canto XIX, Dante’s Inferno)

Skulls in the Cappuccini basement.
All the brothers, few and old
observe the future undaunted
for there is no other point
to their live’s praying potion.

The Via Veneto outside is fashion
gaiety and indolence, and tourists
come to look at the gruesome
result of long dire devotion.
The quatromille cupochin skulls
left here for contemplation.

For this is the point of belief
a demented, yes unfashionable now,
proof of existence, priests
with head below and flaming feet
in heaven

The Mechanic Comes

engine junk

Into his dark place, cars hanging on lifts
carded lights dangling beneath them,
arbiter of failures, renewer…

With black greasy hands
tossing out dead parts
into piles of metallic hard edges
unyielding gray rectangles
riddled with dark round holes.
ripped, tool twisted
out of larger pieces,
These fleshless residues,
engine blocks,
inert things.

Fleshy hands and minds
thinking, created,
wore out, tossed out
really dead, dead robots
will never dance, not like
Mexican skeletons in sombreros
pretending to be souls ascending.
no spiritual pretense ennobles
this hard black gray rubbish.

I remembered then my friend
telling me, long ago
from some other dark place,
‘when I came here
I was young and I believed
I was dead,
.          because
.                        death exists.’

What could I say to my friend?
What was death to him, like junk, or
the black clad figure with the scythe
reaping us up for the guy in the sky?

His long dehydration from study
of relativity, of the darkness of the sky,
hardened his spirit into blocks
clamped still as these
cast off engine parts,
and closed perception
into thoughts of death

What does death mean
if there wasn’t life at all.
Where is the mechanic
that wd restore him,
grease joints
restore fluidity?

Nothing absolute exists
no people mechanic comes
to save one as if are we nothing
but the dark stuff.

We can open our own curtains
illuminate the junk piles
change the teachings,
see what is not life
see what is.

Conomo 2011

‘Envy, resentment, an auto intoxicant, an evil secretion
in a closed vessel, and prolonged impotence’
Camus, from the Rebel, pg 23.



Essex is this
a marsh, mud at low water
a grand drumlin, Hog Isl
center of a vast gyre
of tidal waters.
Herons, egrets, white dots in the sweep of salt grasses
an ocean beyond white beaches,
gull screams, crows roccus on the flats
and the town at the head of the river,
A great blue heron glides by
in silence.

Essex is this
Clams, farms, woodlands, granite ledges,
The great fishing schooners built here
floated down river at high tide
past Conomo Point and out
to Ipswich Bay and then to
Gloucester for fitting.

Essex rents coveted land at Conomo
for modest well kept cottages
owned for generations.
Jutting far into the river’s marsh
the Point is the center
where sea thrust empties and fills
the wide wild grass space,

But there is envy in the town
that some owning houses there
on this rented land enjoy
the sky that harbors clouds of birds
majestic storm clouds lightening
heavens rage and sweet calm.

So came Realtors and developers
and those who take away the Common
who feed on anger and thirst for profits
to set fires in the hearts of the town
until they vowed to have no more tenants
have them simply go away
leave all the cottages
many more than a century old
to be wasted, removed.

Now, we face the ruin avarice brings
emptiness, unkempt scrub,
inhabitants gone
rats will gnaw at the rubbish
beside a desolate parking lot
tourists inside their metal boxes will view
won’t like the mud
there are no beaches worth much
no one can stay overnight
except the furies;
The green heads bite.



We are watching Linda flicker
between living and dying
frail, morphine fogged she reclines
in her hospital bed at the head of the stairs
planning her new kitchen cabinets.
Her smile is for us to see
to say she accepts our love.

She’s the shaman sometimes, or not
the force is dimmed the light remains
clear sometimes, her poetry seems
to have been written.

Do we grieve, or celebrate
the planned on positive future.__
We will celebrate today for tomorrow
none can see longer than this___
she is thinning each week
her smile broadens across her thin cheeks
wider each week it seems
as her faith belays our fearful
expectation, her strength flickering
each day toward tomorrow.

The poet has become bird
light, translucent reaching up
the presence of invisible wings
golden, radiant in the faith in nature
there is no betrayal, no flinching
no crying, the bear stalks about
the spirit cave containing her
We can’t see these as we sulk
about in the shadow of our fears.

The Crane dances with the snake
overland to the rippling waters
of the mother’s fecund ocean
we travel in the lower world to
seed the ending start beginning
her drum beat leads the passage
of the teacher, of her living
power animal, to come to
the lady of grace, Mary.

“Barnard’s windows open into life
a hard cold thing inside me melts.
I can see all the beauty within
the violet iridescence of light
sliding past the dread night sweat
I call for help as the stream is strong
at the crossing. Weak in fear
stroke with me together
at this crossing I am afraid.

I can see the crossing, that is my job
come help me stroke, share these berries
the spring sweetness, the taste of life.”


The Last One

Coming from P-town to Gloucester
motor sailing in a calm, lightly ruffled ocean
in the empty bowl of the horizon
we came upon a rusting hulk
brown streaked blackened red side,
slowly turning on the flat black sea.

A long dark rusty gil-netter, lines out,
like a hopeless memory circling in the flat sea
What is beneath this surface for the families?
For the layers of families waiting
for the missing fish money.
The boat’s steel flakes fall off
in the long search for the last fish,
no money in it for paint,
in seeking it rusts away

Dark cavities behind the streaked plates
we see no seaman, maybe a hint of a face
the ship rusts, circling in the flat sea
inside the sharp edge of horizon
the songs of the sea were still
the wind slow

reaching down
for the last fish
long searching, circling
nets winding, futile,
paint chips flaking, gone.
A face appears in the recesses
of the large net wheels
fades back into the indigo
shadows in the turning boat
as if depression driving
the hunter who must hide, –
a recluse of the sea
seining for the last fish.

In its own vortex
scorpion of the mind
repetition, the laying of nets
a slow dervish dance
arms raised like railroad semaphores
for the end of the line, a train coming,
in the desolation of this lifeless desert,
the slow turning over flat water
the dervish spinning ecstasy
is a ritual to invoke
the fish providing spirits.
the slow turning over flat water
slightly scratching the surface
enscribe the tracks of the dance
over depths of the sea
seeking the last fish –

so long out- rusting away
becoming pointless
lost, seeking, –
as the families
are fading



About Thomas More

from Montenegro

High ground, wha zat
so’s ya can shoot down
at me here in my swamp?
careful, your halo tilts.

Is it a cloud your sittin in
fluffy and clean white
balloon like,? it gotta be
tethered I guess, else

You might be off, jes gone
you don’t have a choice
Ya can’t come down here
in reality swamp cen ya

It’s mucky, reality is
no place you can be upward
and straight, so to speak
and crowded too, here
in the muck wallow,
otter compromise else ya
soul get shriven by evils
greed and wantin better.

Goodby Old Farm

I left the ranch when the house burnt down
never rode a hay wagon again
or led the cows home at night
or see the wind waves in tall grasses,
after flinging matches in the dry air
to see smoke tails writhing.

A wall of resentment came down
between us, my grandfather and I.
A boy couldn’t see the old man’s loss of place
his big Victorian towered house come down
or understand the diminishment in a small town
that he suffered when he built
a smaller brick house from the ruins,
with the adobe Morman church
across the highway mocking him
His old world vanished then.

Ruins last forever in the ochre desert
after the irrigation ditches dry.
Remember the Navajo who came
hired help for the harvest
remembering other ruins, fires and losses.

I went back twenty years later
after they had died, he of age,
she of diabetes, the sugar beet disease,
that ravages the Morman towns,
nestled between green and black mountains
in the hot valleys far from anywhere
where grasses struggle to live
and tumbleweed clings to
swinging loose screen doors.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tora Bora

(I put this poem on the Poets Against the War web site as the Iraq war began )


In Tora Bora young men chant and pray,
Feel fear, remember their initiation feast
Feel their fathers telling them
become strong and manly,
put away childishness,
prepare the lamb
you raised and slept with.

The men fire AK’s and Enfields
The boy drew a knife across the throat
Gun smoke stings, blood flows.
Strong arms grab him, raise him up,
Gun in one arm, the boy in the other,
The father dances.

At the Madrassa they memorize great passages
Sweeping verse clearing lands of infidels,
Lifting myth verse off ceramic walls
the innocent rise to clean the world.
.     Enshala.

Oh, for a child to kill to become a man
believing in a wondrous prophet,
Or a wounded child locked
In the caves of Tora Bora,
Where Poems and missiles fly,
The poem is released, shots, gestures.

The wielder of the poem doesn’t live long.
Cool minds on wings above
See through germanium eyes
Laser guiding steel into ancient verse.

The missile doesn’t miss the red dot
It doesn’t see children, women, or frightened men
They’re not mentioned in the manual,
not in the mission statement, the press release.

We do not feel words on an LCD screen, see not
The body’s temperature change
The dying of the mystic light
The voice of the poem
Is extinguished now….

We’re to fear this man
of a gentle soft new beard
hearing of his hate of us,
We have never seen his
Reddened brown eyes
Straining to read in cave light.

All the men are dancing
firing their weapons.
Plunging knifes
in the throat of love.

Kent Bowker 1/30/2003 rev 4/1/2008

Christmas, 1948, Stinson Beach CA

Shacks, oil streaked sand,
and I, Blowzy, still drunk,
gin fizz in hand stood
to greet the late sunrise
at the sea frothed edge

Long before surfers crashed here
or gay cabals claimed the beach
Hal and I came to write great novels
of sex, rewinding Henry Miller.

Shacks are cheaper here in winter
with paint splattered sinks, peeling
doors, spring erupting couches
windows leaking salt spray air
opening into a solstice celebration
for even in California
days shorten, light diminishes.

An eg o-pia in a golden haze
of exploding sunsets
black, red, azure, green flashes
girls strewn around the
lighted manzanita bush,
necking with the drinking boys,
the fashion then, went no further,
went home for Christmas day.

Lines in the mind link contusions,
compact, create unites, untie
knotted anxieties, and tie again
the new into the old

Circles of children, dogs, conversations
around ornately decorated trees
occasions translucent from year to year
blending into one complex vision.

Shacks in the mind stay there
overlay -are not supplanted
by richer rooms- or comforts,
ones own Christmas defined
in the circles of love
giving, needing, lost, regained.

My Christmas, their Christmas
until they passed away,
leaking memories, fading like
oil streaks in the sand,
the good and bad injunctions,
the discrimination long ago
of one child or the other,
inside or outside the circle of love
where lay feeling on this day.

Green red pealing branches
round red tangled bush brought
down from the dry mountains
to the beach– Manzanita,
sacred gnarled aged wood,
ceremonial shape, brings
their Muse, their goddess
their dream, to the beach,
into the sullen sea surging
dark mists of the long ocean
lapping seaweed, vomit of confusion
awakening the sodden, forgetful
youths on Christmas morning.
and their dreams of creation
of possibility, of the new,

Dec 24 1997 Kent Bowker

Three Pieces


In the caravan of joy the way is always smooth
the light heart all hopeful leads us on.
Despair is back in the luggage train
where we can’t see or get rid of it.
It’s in this balance of nature, of mind
we feel life and deep released joy.


Scribblers all disdain evil, desire good,
ignore complex muddy moral mixtures
flowing around our confused lives.
For what evil do we actually see
in our pampered american lives?


Our world of comfort is a subtle disease
blocking ears and eyes from the ominous
mummer of the injured heating earth
sounds of elephant and dolphin
crying over savanna and dark sea telling us
the taste of air and water are changing.

Cyclotron Years

superman         1958


I, like Icarus following Daedalus
into realms of undreamt invention,
flew too high to a myth empty place
of facts, and intelligent mechanisms,
where awe and love are irrelevant,
where Ocham’s razor cuts
and in hubris fell

We attended the cyclotron,
physicists, student devotees.
We made the instruments
prepared sacraments of lead bricks,
emulsions, glowing electronic tubes.

I, Icarus see all dimensions,
can see clouds of probability,
can sense the flow of quanta,
the personifications of the fields,
My young soul rushed in to
experience physical nature,
feel the dualities in reality,
feel the shadows about each fact,
romance in the shadows of facts.

The boat of question passes through air locks
into the chamber we built for creation,
all of black iron and brilliant copper.
We cannot go there, into the empty space.
But we did, once, with the vacuum gone,
crawling between the dead Black magnet coils
to trace paths of violent interaction, feeling the chamber hum,
seeking the holding hand of the universe.

A chill penetrates this inner temple, black and golden.
Intruding we felt subtle fear, a threat, the chant
of the incantation preceding creation,
the secrets of blackness before the light,
and remember the stories, the cost of knowing,
the cost one man paid to see this light.
Pure energy drilled his eyes, and mind,
chilled, and cut, particle by particle,
painless inside, flipping the eye’s fluid
grain by grain into white opalescence.

We looked for the pieces that govern creation,
quest for the creator and destroyer
inside this strange machine of magnets,
electric fields and fluxing energy
transforming the nature of matter,
pulling out strange particles,
the fragmented glue,
the terms of the equations,
the lines of the languages,
we use to know the origins
of fire, earth, water, and air.


A ranting salivating spitting
Doctor Teller on the podium
propounding thermonuclear stuff.
Sirens announce the closing gates.
We watched the blackboards
endless trains of white symbols
Oppenheimer, Fermi, Serber
on stage teaching us__

The closing gates keep us out,
preserve us to copy aquiline atomic
symbols flowing out of their hands
rippling over the black surface.
We hear the resonance in their words.
Feel the binding forces, see the orbits dance,
marvel at the beauty in the quantum order.

Doctor Teller rants on the podium.
‘I become power, knowing
the violence in creation
I master violence beyond feeling,
violence beyond restraint, beyond love.
All is consumed, all enters in
the soup, identity of all elements,
flesh, bone, water, love,
all one in the soup of violent creation,’

No one led us here,
We chose our great quest
seeing glamour in brilliant men.
Oppenheimer, a willow man with pipe,
nucleus knowing, singing mantras
of Soma flowing from Pandrapati,
God of the first creation
governing all new creations
without end, forever,
flowing into descriptions,
symbols in equations,
the collisions in the machine.

We looked down on the world
from the Berkeley hill station,
San Francisco, Oakland, a bay, bridges.
All below and our thoughts above,
focused, bending the proton beams,
bending time around and around,
spiraling gyre of emergent mass chasing light.
Wondering at the size, at the silent power
enamored of coincidence of symbol and reality.
Life outside the energy, the community of us,
seems without meanings, washed out,
outside of the school of theorems,
the new sense of the universe.

We are pulled by the minds of singular men.
The eye of Teller, ego bent on power,
powers to burn across the heavens,
our Oppenheirmer exiled-sent to honored limbo.
Our Gods scattered by red-hating Senatores
away to little colleges, elsewhere–
a community broken, but locked in by fervor,
strong wills bending all to one master,
the pulse of cyclotrons, the pulse of driven men,
the pulse of dreams, the pulse of our life.


DRIVING UP THE HILL WE’D SEE deer, rare fowl
Sheltered by the security fences, the walls
around the cyclotron and the growing laboratory
around the new machines we were building.

Driving up the hill at all hours
to feed the machine experiments,
checking counters, scintillation detectors retrieving film,
gentle spirits seeking knowledge, degrees, PhD’s

Driving up the hill, through the gates, layered fences.
Past the armed guards, showing badges, smiling.
Reminded of the ownership, of the power.
Reminded of the limits of expression,
Reminded of the Corporation…

The gentle souls, intellectuals, physicists,
truth seeking, keep private counsel
do their physics, expand abstract wonders
exalt in the crystal clarity of the truth
embodied in matrixed wave functions
embodied in group theory, in the quanta
held in their counters, film , detectors.

Ideas overwhelm the reservations, the dark reflections:
neutrons that take one’s vision,
beryllium dust that spots lungs, and kills,
daily millirad doses on our film badges,
The anemia of those who went to tests
came back to do research or teach
at a distant, safe collage somewhere.

The beauty of physics obscures realities.

And white blood flows in Hiroshima
White blood in the veins of soldiers
sent to trenches near a bomb
by the stupid military, we know
it happened, but it’s secret.

The mind is divided, severed, bright, and dulled
to fit the blanding apple pie, suspicious time.
Apparatchiks, Personnel directors, security men,
Inside the security wall. petty questions, biases.
They scrutinized theorists, Jewish physicists
‘Just necessary these people’, Serber, Oppenheimer, Frank.
They Trust the ‘good’, The blue eyed, and blond,
the experimenters, good old Lawrence,
Alvarez, and doctors killing cancer.
They Trust applied scientists irradiating rabbits
tinkering with thyroids, growing monsters.
They Trust practical workers, engineers
mechanics of unlimited power.

Inside the wall suspicions
‘Do you know any pinko liberals?’
Security everyone’s business.
Fences enclosed the buildings.
Fences enclosed the people, inside and out.
Fences cut through our minds.


A silent presence now spreads
beyond the baked cracked desert,
beyond Oscura’s castellated crest,
growing out, a cancerous wave,
A new wave from glassy hot Trinity,
slower than the quick blast wave
slowly into our life, into our minds
and it split our spirits in twain.

The power to erase all creation,
shakes all creatures on earth,
releases ancient furies
rational thought banished.
We do not know yet, to tremble,
as Icarus knew. The tripartite shrines
forgotten flat stones in Cretan caves.
used to speak of this to us.
Old gods, the trinity of all,
the earth, the mother, and the void/creator
unseen by Christian Moslem Jew
the Chthonic powers are here again.

We erect new concrete steel caves
to placate the unlimited power
the sane and mad have unleashed;
We fear its unfolding use
We fear its deadly residue.

Big Pronouncements, big noises,
grandiose statements on and on,
and I cannot see clearly
any of this
any more.
I mock myself,
these feelings erupt from dark memory,
from having two minds for fifty years afterwards,
all gloom in one mind joy in the private mind
hiding love from power.

Most of us went away still under black security clouds,
still keeping our private lives private,
making livings, making families inventing for the country.
for the corporations making money.
Who are we, what had we hoped for in our wonder?
not these conference tables,
not endless simulations, games computers play.

I watch my friends, their down turned mouths,
Scientists listening to ever new horror
debating merits of multiple warheads
options, hopeless counter measures,
as progress moves faster on
and complexity baffles men,
inside the steel shell of secrecy.
We will not be forgiven for this.

Not knowing the way of gods.
Pandora’s tale of woe forgotten
how good intentions turn black
we didn’t know the best in us
would crack open the monstrous egg.

We will not be forgiven
for dividing work and love,
for accepting progress and practicality,
for accepting nationalism and ownership ,
for dividing this life from love.
We will not be forgiven
for our oaths of secrecy for not speaking
for not telling of radiation, of rusting reactors
of missile roasting lasers, of public lies.

Silent, we retire, leave it all,
Icarus has fallen slowly, aged,
drained, gray, still silent
oaths remembered resented.
And we turn our backs on new men
on the new hot science
tweaking the eye of a new bomb
seeking profits in the codes of life.

Veils, and Dogs

We wear veils
when our voice
doesn’t work

so much to say
it tumbles about
cluttering thought

the room is too small
the sentence too brief
nothing fits in easily
speech halts



Today the old dog
was put to sleep,
yes, death, she was
suffering too much
we couldn’t know clearly
but falling down stairs
pooping as she struggled
to walk across a room
but she was a hundred and one
and in just a few days changed.

The light went out instantly
warm stillness remaining
into the earth before it cooled
we cover our feelings
with shovels of clay
but cannot forget
her devotion
always protecting
her sheep, her back to us
looking outward,
The cats know.


Memorial Worship

The Pastor is up there giving
an homily for our lost friend
and beyond,   symbols,   a blank wall
we should see through,  a cross,
a tapestry, or a vast vacancy.

We are to focus on the absent
but only see a wall of backs
bare heads, necks, hair, collars, moles
faces left and right stare ahead
not seeing each other
turning backs on the many
obedient, should we worship thus
not seeing each other. Not facing grief.

Why do we ignore the living?
in these white churches
should there not be drama
the Gods there in front
playing out the life, the death,
at the center an amphitheater
where we can see crying
lamentations, and damn the Gods
for it, hold hands, touch.

Face the past, remember.
Stand in a circle, see each other
affirm our presence
the dead is gone.

November Notes

Low Tide, Conomo Point


I wander in the body of this era
find the fluid bathing the mind
Washing logic, dirty clothes
Love, hate , anger, fear.


I need so many words
to explain anything,
even the obvious
depends so much
on the other.


The morning sun inflamed uncut grasses
outside, tall waving, fuzzy seeds,
heavy from a wet late summer

Reminded me of old monks yearning
reaching for words, like seeds
seeking to plant elsewhere,

Before me is life, its meaning
beyond dreams of transcendence
its growth its seeds its transits,
yellow tints, soft oranges,
glittering dew, light in the tangle.


The shrouds tighten
when our boat heels
as we tighten when aging
in a wind unrelenting.

Every year the patch of sky
grows smaller as the trees rise
enclosing my space, my vision
my eyes are sun pained
after days on the water.

posted by Kent at 10:37 AM 1 comments
Sunday, February 22, 2009
How many things can we say
in celebrating birthdays?
count years pilling one
on another, pretend some
are more than another,
an accumulated wisdom
here, a step to somewhere,
achievements and losses too
until what counts truly
is continual love
and the sweetness of life.

Angry Man

Cyclops, by Mestrovic

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The angry man is having tea
his flaming flowers wilted
long ago in his hot house of being.
(Light strikes tips of grass –
yellow glowing greened spots
beyond the enclosing windows)
A politic boils, and wanes with
so much discontent flowing,
the walls of Byzantium falling,
so much he thinks is wrong now
that was good and right once.

The fragility of the angry man
colors his room in gray thought
in complexities, of questions unmade,
as raw wide brush strokes across
banal landscapes, his blob of liberation
is only a thought, a move undone.

He’s stuck, this man resenting
striking out, his loss an eye
seeing less, just one thought
thriving, his freedom a curse
a presidency all tawdry, gone.



Dubrovnic, small, enclosed


(this was composed in Oct 08 before the recent bloody killings by all the enraged,  which make the metaphor even more painful. KB)

Between the ocean and the wall
(container of procreation, feeding, multiplying
and hideous thoughts I’m afraid of
and ashamed to find, of limits
and the end of possibility)
a sea of people encased
in the thin concrete strip called Gaza
where there is no free land
and little water no room for the newborn
for the young men and women
whose only freedom is in loving or dying
no jobs, nothing to produce or dream
education hijacked by mystic belief
and reality offers no hope
I cry for them.

An animal shelter collects unwanted
cats and dogs and saves them
from being eaten in the backwoods
of city jungles, starving in plains
of asphalt, lonely places.
The shelters are full,
more come than go to homes.
The small house of cages fills
this little Gaza, with its sound
of intermittent growls, hisses.
Cats rub against each other.

Gaza is our future, I cry for us.
The walls of our Gaza contains
all of us, the billions of us
programmed with rampant desires and despair.
We all need fulfillment, loving,
merging into another, creating children
filling each square foot of space
that might have been used to grow
wheat, peaches, olives and oil.
Now feet trample all to dust
that’s not covered in hard top
around concrete block houses
rising up to house the families
who’ve never known space between people.
The crunch, the slum, the piles are normal
and the old biblical demand
“be fruitful for there is room in heaven
for all on earth now and ever more.”
sanctions filling Gaza.

Why is the world to become Gaza?
Can’t our species evolve fast enough to stop it
change our inner brains, outer beliefs?

Why such dark views?

we don’t live in such a space

imprisoned by another power
we believe growth is good
preserves prosperity
needs more consumers
needs more workers
brings in the harvest
fills the factories and mail rooms
provides all the luxuries
of past generations.

The walls of Gaze are everywhere now
our breeding waiting to enclose us.
We hear the grinding of a back hoe
scraping granite ledge, air hammers,,
sounds of encroachment
our world filling.

Jan 30 2009


How do you remember a child you never see,
who denies you, and decades pass.
We get older together far apart
our memories age, get entangled
turn conceptual and get mixed up.

What do you look like now,
and how do I, to you?
We’ve no real knowing of the other,
beyond blind love and hate,
and the blood line sameness,
the small shared dialog is missing
of friends gained and lost, the silly things,
the foods we like, the bars we go to,
sailing skying, the foreign explorations
all of this, our mutual interests,
exchanged sadness and happiness
telling of hurts and victories,
all this, over decades, are missing,
so the fading memory of our pith and moment
have but thinned, sterile content
all sentiment and stick figures.

This disease of alienation
running in our families
does close in sadly
when the final meeting is silent
and death ends separation.

For Jack Spicer

, August 19, 2005

Jack at the Sevens, 1957

Before he was famous
before he died of beer
exiled, he wandered east
where Robin cared for him,
where he left dirt on white couches
fingerprints on Emily Dickinson’s letters.

Zoltan, lord of rare books, fired him,
sent him back to the City of Light
where he slid into a maelstrom
arguing the virtues of poems
Gorky, Duncan, Lorca, Oz
the intricacies of bridge and baseball.

He lifted us into poetry
the grunt of Beowulf singing
the sound shifted meanings.
kids TV Saturdays on Beacon Hill
singing poetry to jazz
new dada now, dead fish in the Charles.

A cripple like poet, a Blackfoot Indian Poe
grinning like an ape in the corner booth
writing a poem as long as California
torturing himself, abjuring comfort,
a penurious monk in his Goddess’ service.

In Berkeley student union politics
before the oaths, and the exile,
he railed against the Stalinist take over

yelled motions of order, spitting rage,
sang the defiant Wobbly International,
growled at injustice, red and white,
and the absolutes that own you or reject you
leaving the party of one, the poet outside,
his truth a nit in the indifference of our time

Why decades later, after the wars
the death of reds, victory of the owners
death of the flowers, the pooring of the poor,
do I remember his furtive singularity
an antithesis in the age of groupies
burning his own fuel, homeless,
listening and talking from the corner booth
his skin flayed leaving pieces here and there?

Because I have one of these fragments
a poem, an encouragement, a scrap
from this singer, a memory
of the ideal, and the faith
that flowed in his caustic lines
a belief in the surreal
and the power of singing.

1/7/98  revised 10/29/11

Tale of the Red Fox

(Notes written while waiting for Ammas blessing)

We sit in the dark and play a story game
each imagining a part, one after another,
winding a thread with strands of images
trying to tell a common story.

This is a story of playing a game fifty years ago
with a cabal of Berkeley poets in a Boston apartment
at the edge of changes then, they are ghosts now,
invoking a fox to carry the spirits and they began:

Seen from the canyon ridge
a White House on the cliff face,
it’s way down, clinging as if by magic glue
holding beings on the flat rock face.
Living inaccessible, safe , pure
they live in that white dot, where
silences fill the canyon depth.
Degeneration is slow in the dry air,
Hawks monitor small changes
old angels fall slowly.

Feathers, the touch of divinity,
shards on the floor
peyote scent lingers
stings the timid heart
pregnant girls bless the land.

The story shifts to a new voice
Let us light a candle now.
close the white curtain
cut the presence of city canyons
obscure us. cast a film over
the sirens of incessant motion.

How can stories be told now?
narratives cannot stitch threads
into random actions, into chaos.
The new politics light the candles.

A serious poet declares
atomic electronic degeneration
is the narrative of the future,
sex in a closet is ripe bananas,
as a mouse mounts another and squeaks.

And why not, he continues
follow this tale as any other,
as good as meditation
on clean laundry hanging in the aspen trees
clustered in the canyon below the White House.
as she left the white horse by the river.

Light another candle, for another poet says
the hooves of cavalry beat the water
they left white bones below the White House
ending a narrative, to start another
of america the brave the white,
to arrive here, where we see
The violence of flaming angels
and blue flickering light behind curtains
of separation, the era ends on TV,
of many eras passing.
Light the fourth candle.

The new stories are simple
we grow up watching stories
trying to find one to fall into,
We go everywhere watching
until we fall out of the tale
into a new one, new homes
occupations marriages loves
until the decades declare a limit
and close down on us.

We’re between stories, the myths
miss, guide us not, the fox
controls and destroys
our illusions. The paths
to the White House erode.

You can’t get there now
from the amphibious ducks
coming up river, up the canyon
between the soft pink walls
laced with dark lines of falling water.

The people are still there with small corrals,
gardens by ocher adobe houses
and their horses are white and brown.
You can’t pretend to be an Indian any more,
the age is over, the blue jackets,
the Winchesters and sabers and disease
are gone leaving the survivors
who simply watch you.

The light loveliness of pueblos
of children in the plaza chasing turkeys
beneath the Kivas.

Living in our canyons of electricity
we light the last candle and look
for a narrative to feel good about
expect now some illuminating magic.
But we looked stupidly at the stone bowls
at the grinding stone, the round ovens.
heard cries of delight, and saw
the toothless smiles of the old,
but fail to understand their story
while the fox steals meaning away.