Billie Holiday would’ve been 97 today

which evokes Frank O’Hara
& strange fruit poplar bound
Evokes my mother’s tale of lady day dying
during her rounds & a night
over the Ernakulam jetty
with the diesel jasmine smell of tropic hot
& the way one wore her hat at that ramshackle hotel
But what it evokes most is how I can listen to Billie now
& not break down as she sang my sorrows
deeper than I knew I felt
for that sadness and sorrow is not my day tomorrow
only something that once shaped me
& then fell away


Translation of a translation of a poem by Rumi

Translation of a translation of a poem by Rumi
            from a translation 
by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

If someone asks how the perfect cusp
of our lovelust 
will look
lift your face
 and say
Like this.

When someone mentions the star-sky grace 

climb up on the roof

and dance and say,
Like this.

If anyone wants to know what essence is
or what’s the celestial scent
lean your head in
Keep your face there
Like this.

When someone seduces with an old poetic trope
with clouds gradually undraping the moon,

unknot by
knot the lace
 of your robe.
Like this.

If anyone asks how Jesus lazarused the dead

don’t explain the miracle.

Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.

When someone questions die for love ­—  point
If someone asks how tall I am, frown
the fingerspans between
the furrows of your forehead.
This tall.

Souls sometimes spiral bodies.

When someone doesn’t believe,

walk back into my house.
Like this.

When lovers moan
they sing our story.
Like this.

I am a sky — spirit filled.

Stare into this deep & blue,

as breezes susurrus a secret.
Like this.

When someone asks what to do,

ignite the candle in his hand.

Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent ascend to Jacob?
How did Jacob’s sight resee?
A zephyr cleans the eye.
Like this.

When Sun returns from Tabriz,

he’ll peek his head just around the doorjamb
to surprise us
Like this.


Punctuated Equilibrium #18578

I’ve fallen victim to little blisses
the easy moments in the room

once      I’d ejaculate truth & thunder
at the edge of the Andaman sea
seek Sufi & psilocybin Charybdi
through Minotaur mazes of jungles     of cities
of electronic cork forests
bestride razored palisades  where none could find me
even if sometimes        I'd climb at home
ecstatic movements to a town or state
I’d not neuroned before
kissing moments elusive
every time a surprise how simple they are

avow wow         never let go     let go
throw yourself about your shoulders
like a worn traveling cloak
warm               warm              warm
but for the gales of forgetfulness
and knoll rolled fog

Easy to be junkie dependent
when the fade rides the fix from the very 1st rush

Maybe a symptom of simple survival
18thousand days makes many changes
but it feels like I’ve mist stepped
fallen victim to close quiet blisses
karmically crouched, stout & encouched


April may be the cruelest month
but November is subtle as the woman who got away
took you for everything even your dignity
& yet you pine
still bewildered

February may be a knife to your throat
but November leaves you gasping for air
rising to the surface
hoping to break the surface
before the ice closes in

June jumps July just jangles & May may
but November does as she wishes
haughty or hale loving or leaving
and not only can't you stop her
you couldn't even explain to her
why it might hurt

The Mona Lisa

Art is like nipples on a man.

did you think I meant vestigial or useless?

that says more about us than it does nipples.
or art.

Art is like nipples on a man.




I took a nap with Whitman
all sinew & democracy
he leaves me in grass
& roots me in soil
which only slightly slows the soaring
the way you ease into a country curve
before speeding out onto open vistas


With his grizzled lips & schoolgirl heart
he slays me slays me slays me daily
slays me daily
Whitman the Hitman
slays me daily
in everyday songs aimlessly whistled
in labor or love or no reason at all
Whitman the Hitman slays me
with muscular & musical word & intent
with new world naiveté
in a pre-cynical way
with a sigh & a secret & half laugh half sob


Haiku Variations: New York Faces (1)

                                                       10:30 A.M.

She had a look on
her face like she’d just stepped in
something nasty &
that something was the universe