Jean

My husband’s grandmother has lost many of her teeth
but she put on blue eyeliner for my visit.
She says, “the next time you see me, I’ll look very different”,
and lets out a resilient noise that I’m reluctant to name
knowing I lack the aptitude to name it well and fairly.
She is more beautiful at 90 than she was when I first met her at 88
having foregone hair dye, her hair now white, and long, not messy but uncoiffed
and not wearing an “outfit” complete with flashy cheap handbag,
There is nothing between us to distract or to dull the effect of her eyes.
Her eyes are a pale electric greenish-blue
become striking as they’ve receded into the shadows
beneath her sharper brow-bones.
Jean says, “let me tell you something about music”.
As a child, she loved a piece called Falling Waters
because, she says,
“I imagined how you would choreograph a dance to it”
so she taught herself to play it, by ear.
after two lessons, the piano teacher told the Scottish sisters who had adopted her
out of foster care, and who wanted to encourage her ability,
“I will not teach Jean.
She hears the music
she will always hear it
you will never get her
to read it off a page”.

soft tectonics

A body is a wave                                                                                                                                    a seeming-sudden lift of matter                                                                                                    and it’s immeasurably gradual dispersal

This is a soft tectonics                                                                                                                            I will not mention millions of years, no, a few decades if we’re lucky

and how boldly foolish to say “luck”.                                                                                        What is this “luck” ?

We are the only species, the only life-form to have invented                                                     such a word, such a concept.

Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say:

Sometimes the indifferent heft of Chance lands upon you and sometimes                                 it drops its weight on someone else                                                                                                  or in the wilderness, unwitnessed?

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  • painting by g.f marlier

new poems 11/29/17

  A dream
Storm-stopped
en route to Nantucket
I could board a ferry but
I can see from the jetty-
waves as high as a prison wall
The thunderous churning
sends up phosphorus white spray
and whispers fictions.
I decide to inquire at this small public house
in what once was a whaling village
where the bus deposited me
and I’m pleased to learn there is a room they rent by the night
in the tavern tradition
to pilgrims, wanderers, the lost, the storm-stopped.
I have plenty of money and feeling serene
and grown-up, I climb
a narrow buffed pine staircase
to a warm dry cubbyhole under the slanted eaves
one small window facing the ravenous, ore-black Atlantic
one wool blanket on a narrow bed.
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fish-eye
It’s what they call a fish-eye picture
lens curved to create an illusion of expanse
something, yes, of the detached surveillance,
the idiotic lingering of a fish
drumming its fins against lapping water
in dim, silty shallows.
There you are: tan coat, unlocking the door of your silver Prius.
It’s obvious (from the irritated look on your face
and your intense focus on the clicker) that it’s never occurred to you
you’re being watched.
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Shame
A diseased forest
sweeping arms of spent trees
their obscurity born of nature and inertia, not intent-
they permitted no pathway,
no companionship.
Any message chipped in their moldy skins
any mound of stones
was grown over, sucked down into the muck before it could meet
the eyes of an Other who might understand, advance, take heart, encouraged.
The sour smell of abandonment hung close to the ground
a stifling breathable fog.
The sun in those days was just a myth
or an ancient, pre-verbal memory
if someone somehow had been able to tell me
it still
was there
in flamboyant indifference
traipsing above the impenetrable canopy
I would have thrown back
my soft skull
and laughed.

fleet week

Look for blue angels                                                                                                                 over the bay                                                                                                                          early in October.                                                                                                                  Look for wave-worn sailors                                                                                               craving vast rolling softness                                                                                                     in the piss-stained streets of the Tenderloin.                                                          Santa Rosa’s burning to the tips of the tree roots                                                            calls are coming in from all over San Francisco:                                                         “my bedroom/living room/building is full of smoke                                                              but I can’t figure out what’s burning”                                                                 “Ma’am/Sir calm down calmate it’s 200 miles north of you                                         don’t worry it won’t effect you”.                                                                                                          An artist is creating an exact replica                                                                                 of the Golden Gate Bridge                                                                                                             to put next to the Golden Gate Bridge.                                                       My friend says “Good, maybe Sharkzilla will get confused and bite that one instead”

and                                                                                                                                              I had a dream last night that my cousin who thinks the U.S should bomb North Korea off the face of the Earth is actually a really nice guy

at Hearst Castle

Luminous tiled pool of cerulean glass and gilt

German couple with selfie-stick, expanse of Pacific ocean blown out behind them

One black guy on the tour, wearing plaid shorts and matching shoes-                                     He’s the one who says “trident” when the guide asks “what does Neptune carry?”

Heavyset girlfriend with cat-eye frames to ponytailed burner/burnout journeyman boyfriend: “We should win the lottery and build a pool like this”                                              He responds “Yeah”.

My mom: “I wonder who polishes the silver?”                                                                     Another white lady about her age standing nearby: “Yeah, I don’t want that job.”

weathering

Planning for winter storms
in the first week of September.
it will rain, and the wind will come in, furious
from the open ocean
rattling my home
before it runs into the hills
to hide its face.
Burgers watches as I pull old nails
hammer in new nails, shift the hanging
clay pot of sweet basil (flowering, going to seed)
to face North, not West,
move the Thai basil (tiny purple leaves, brittle twiggy stem)
to the stairs beside the lemon tree, dill, and fruitless strawberry
then she closes her yellowgreen eyes to doze
in the dirt beneath the one small, slowly ripening tomato
that emerged from the shady cave of the porch this summer.
Weird summer, summer of fires in forest
and suburb, tear gas hanging over the cities
summer of (Home Depot tiki) torches aloft,
vehicular homicide, and the open stating of allegiances to Devils
naiively assumed, in many blinkered quarters, to be extinct.
Now comes the Fall of hurricanes and floods
of rot and rubble.
in the wake of isolated and celebrated examples
of survival
of countless refusals to connect the dots, to repudiate
ill-begotten theories of coincidence, synchronicity
accident or innocence
it will be claimed that benevolence is a noun, and not a verb.
So I’m shifting everything around.
the Rosemary fell from a ledge, and I righted it.
The jade holds our instruments upright-
guitar, banjo, ukelele-
but can’t keep them in tune.
In the months ahead,
Whiteness willing
we’ll still be here, but under blankets
refusing the full shelter of the indoors
singing loud and drunkenly.
our imperfect harmonies
will contest the wind.
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*painting by Liam Golden www.liamgolden.com

a short poem by g.f marlier, and a long poem by Amiri Baraka/ on jesus

I detest the Episcopal Church                                                                                                              It is the Catholic Church with the desperate proletariat removed                         Selfless love is a quality of peasants                                                                        and slaves, of those who have nothing                                                                        but a soul to lose or gain.                                                                                                               and I tell you there is nothing bourgeois                                                                                             nothing properly Anglican                                                                                                                     in the life and passion                                                                                                                        death and resurrection of                                                                                                                    Christ

 

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When We’ll worship Jesus

Amiri Baraka

 

We’ll worship jesus
When jesus do
Somethin
When jesus blow up
the white house
or blast nixon down
when jesus turn out congress
or bust general motors to
yard bird motors
jesus we’ll worship jesus
when jesus get down
when jesus get out his yellow lincoln
w/the built in cross stain glass
window & box w/black peoples
enemies we’ll worship jesus when
he get bad enough to at least scare
somebody—cops not afraid
of jesus
pushers not afraid
of jesus, capitalists racists
imperialists not afraid
of jesus shit they makin money
off jesus
we’ll worship jesus when mao
do, when toure does
when the cross replaces Nkrumah’s
star
Jesus need to hurt some a our
enemies, then we’ll check him
out, all that screaming and hollering
& wallering and moaning talkin bout
jesus, jesus, in a red
check velvet vine + 8 in. heels
jesus pinky finger
got a goose egg ruby
which actual bleeds
jesus at the apollo
doin splits and helpin
nixon trick niggers
jesus w/his one eyed self
tongue kissing johnny carson
up the behind
jesus need to be busted
jesus need to be thrown down and whipped
till something better happen
jesus ain’t did nothing for us
but kept us turned toward the
sky (him and his boy allah
too, need to be checkd
out!)
we’ll worship jesus
when he get a boat load of ak-47s
and some dynamite
and blow up abernathy robotin
for gulf
jesus need to be busted
we ain’t gonna worship nobody
but niggers getting up off
the ground
not gon worship jesus
unless he just a tricked up
nigger somebody named
outside his race
need to bust jesus (+ check
out his spooky brother
allah while you heavy
on the case
cause we ain gon worship jesus
we aint gon worship
jesus
we aint gon worship
jesus
not till he do somethin
not till he help us
not till the world get changed
and he ain, jesus ain, he cant change the world
we can change the world
we can struggle against the forces of backwardness, we can change the world
we can struggle against our selves, our slowness, our connection
with
the oppressor, the very cultural aggression which binds us to
our enemies
as their slaves.
we can change the world
we aint gonna worship jesus cause jesus dont exist
except in song and story except in ritual and dance, except in
slum stained
tears or trillion dollar opulence stretching back in history, the
history
of the oppression of the human mind
we worship the strength in us
we worship our selves
we worship the light in us
we worship the warmth in us
we worship the world
we worship the love in us
we worship our selves
we worship nature
we worship ourselves
we worship the life in us, and science, and knowledge, and
transformation
of the visible world
but we aint gonna worship no jesus
we aint gonna legitimize the witches and devils and spooks and
hobgoblins
the sensuous lies of the rulers to keep us chained to fantasy and
illusion
sing about life, not jesus
sing about revolution, not no jesus
stop singing about jesus,
sing about, creation, our creation, the life of the world and
fantastic
nature how we struggle to transform it, but don’t victimize our
selves by
distorting the world
stop moanin about jesus, stop sweatin and crying and stompin
and dyin for jesus
unless thats the name of the army we building to force the land
finally to
change hands.  And lets not call that jesus, get a quick
consensus, on that,
lets damn sure not call that black fire muscle
no invisible psychic dungeon
no gentle vision strait jacket, lets call that peoples army, or
wapenduzi or
simba
wachanga, but we not gon call it jesus, and not gon worship
jesus, throw
jesus out yr mind.  Build the new world out of reality, and new
vision
we come to find out what there is of the world
to understand what there is here in the world!
to visualize change, and force it.
we worship revolution