Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern #30

You take us on a tour of Houston’s old Buffalo Bayou Park cistern, the City’s first underground source of drinking water. Built in 1927 it provided decades of service until it sprang a leak, was drained and rebuilt as a monument. You walk backwards, facing us, your arms sway rapidly back and forth. You peer intently into dark spaces between cement pillars, between reflected light moving towards infinity. You mesmerize the cistern into an underground cathedral and offer us a song composed by Irwin Berlin. We wait, wondering what you will sing, perhaps They Say Its Wonderful, It’s a Lovely Day or Doin’ What Comes Natural. You position your body towards the cavernous space. You take a deep breath and you sing, oh my God, NO, you sing, God Bless America, over the glistening shallow water. Quick! Before the cathedral disintegrates, someone, please, get us some Tex Mex tacos and ice-cold beer!

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Orange fugue #29

With a bright orange rake

you summon dead leaves from the ash

as if sweeping a monk’s skirt

I remove poem sheets

stack them into a palimpsest

to write anew about love.

When the wind is unpredictable

you breathe air from my blue eyes

I say nothing

drink white sky droplets

as if the Beloved and you

are my flesh and blood.

O tomorrow, may it never come,

when your aging handsome face

unruly eyebrows and sag of mouth

will be cut with orange scissors straightening

your lips into a pomegranate smile.

Only then will I lick

the luminescent orange to red drops

escaped into my heart.

Naked Lady #28

Naked-Lady-FLowers-2,-California

Rain is coming down on the Naked Lady, the Amaryllis Belladonna, silently toxic. The pink fleshy pastels of the Woolworth postcard drip sap, frighten the young girl child, her thumb deep in her mouth. The Naked Lady, caught in a globule of air, is put into suspension until other arrangements can be made. All you have to do, is wheel the naked lady on her flatbed into full sun and bring her back to life. But she does not want to be resurrected, just so she can fit into another young woman’s life. You scribble your post cards and send words, words, words, not necessarily in orderly fashion.

 

 

 

 

The Ace of Spades #27

Dressed as the ace of spades
You know what needs to be accomplished
Four more days to cut
Through prompts of b.s.
The grand slam will succeed over resentment
You will soon be unburdened
Although your words more clear, more penetrating
Will certainly survive a new beginning.

Instructions to the Poet (or Cook) #26

Use what you have

~in your refrigerator

~ ~in your icy frozen chest

Don’t reject wilting greens

Don’t fill up the rotting wormy compost

First wipe the steel covered island

~brilliant with silver polished thread

Is she a poet or a cook?

~the cook never slows down

Her studio, a mile away, out of sight,

~in fact, is merely 35 steps away

Long ones, leaping ones

The cook insists: knife needs honing

~with that sharpening steel tool

she temporarily stands firm

Slash, slash, off comes the head

~the lettuce and brain melt into ghee butter.

The poet tries on different gloves

~not hers

She cuts      like an invalid

one too big     the other too small

Enough says the poet.

Enough says the cook.

~go sit in the studio

~do nothing

She stares at the Cooked Poet

~swipes at the Crown of Thorns

Sometimes getting it all wrong

is the next best thing.

Burn it all down

 

An old woman built a refuge for herself to practice poetry. She had food, clothing and a husband. She practiced for seven years but sent no news to her relatives. The relatives sent their youngest son with special instructions. When the son arrived, the old woman opened the elaborate gates. He gave her new clothing and ancestral grains from the relatives to renew her energy. “Thank you very much,” the old woman said, “the relatives are very thoughtful.” Just then the son said, “How does this make you feel?” She replied, “The wind is moving, the mind is moving in mud, it’s a proverbial chaotic concert. My time is filled with tedium.” The son returned to the relatives and relayed her words. They were furious because the old woman had not bowed and displayed her wisdom. She must be a demon, better go back and retrieve the clothes and food. But when he returned to the refuge, the old woman had burnt it all down.

(Inspired by a koan from “Seonmun Yeomsong Seolhwa, dated from the 13th century)

Eulogy to Efrain Jara Idrovo (1926-2018) Ecuador’s Poet Laureate #24

 

Feet shuffling, shrunken spine

he greeted me with outstretched arms,

Efrain Jara Idrovo, beloved poet of Ecuador.

His eyes reflected an ocean of love

beauty and sadness weaving

over and under unexpected illusions.

 

He asked me to read his poem

“Sollozo por pedro jara”

~ weeping for his son Pedro Jara ~

“Pedroagelessrock made to endure

Pedrolaughterofrock

Pedro made of basalt”

But the stone cracked

Pedro hung himself in the bathroom.

 

After the suicide Efrain leaned forward

a lone horseman over a bare horse

his itchy wool blanket unraveled

the roads Pedro had traveled

Gently probing, words crying

he searched Pedro’s bones of rock

translucent, porcelain, his polished son.

 

He cut across a bridge of crystal

through precipices looking for stars

with veins that hurt from too much effort

Like a leaf cutter ant, Atta cephalotes,

he slowly carried each piece of Pedro

back to his soul and chewed it

delicately into his fragile heart.

 

He dug into yawning clefts

where half-baked clay caked

and could not be washed away.

Efrain’s words, full of tears

streamed down my face, full of love

streamed into my heart

burned flowers on my breath

in one deafening blow.

How will I survive this old man’s smile?