Category: Poetry

Eve Brandstein’s theme for this evening of Poetry ‘N Motion was “Fuck Me in the Heart.”
She has her reasons, I’m sure.
For me, it was an opportunity to speak to Life as our greatest lover, who does sometimes seem to do just that.

last fight

please pick a rope you can hang by:

be it slender or silky or rough

please tie the rope in a lovely knot

say all of the reasons you’ve never forgot

tie it up tight and let it out loose

and fashion it brightly –

your very own noose

please pick a hook that is gleaming and sharp

one that will put out your internal spark

pick a slightly high note

for the scream that will come

from your throat as your heart beats

– a rum a rum tum

pick a tune in the background

– use the war drum

now mutter an idiom puts all to rest

whatever you wonder now ponder the chest

of the treasure you once were kept in but forgot

like the kernel of sand making pearls in your shell

the world is your oyster

your oyster’s in hell

now get in the ring

slug it out with your fighter

but wait for the ding

till you face your igniter

and your referree who will call as he sees ’em

and tease them and bribe them

so they work for free

and when the first whistle is lifted to lip

throw punches in bunches

thrust fast from the hip

hold on tight

clear your throat,

spit your blood in the cup

let it rip and break wind

towards the suits in the pit

prepare for the trip

punch by punch

bit by bit

now duck left and feign right’s

what i say to you

do a dance with your foil

and shuffle the coil,

as all mortals do


While on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket this fall, I was pondering the true meaning of “home,” and what composes the “I,” while hitchhiking under the stars late one night. On the previous night I had not been picked up and ended up walking four hours to get to Siaconset, out on the Milestone Road. On this night a young man, about 21 years old, picked me up. It turned out he was the son of an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years. This boy poured his small town island heart out to me. We talked and drove to the edge of the cliff in ‘Sconset, where my favorite lighthouse stood in the solitary dark. A local paper had carried an article that week, about a man who had fallen over the edge of his boat and drowned. The last sentence of the article had said, in complete conjecture , “It is presumed that he went up on the deck to relieve himself.” These are the thoughts I carried with me when I wrote “Towards the Lighthouse.”

towards the lighthouse

(for steve s.’s son)

There but for the rip and the cry i walk

untethered and tattered

unmade by storms


Harbours and homesteads may gather and break

but did you think that mess of boards was you?

Did you run those stairs to climb to God?-

That mythical unicorn who drinks virgin blood?


Anchor me in your fairy tale now-

mine cant possibly be true

or let’s go swinging hands like hansel and gretel,

dropping our brains in the woods for the birds


Can it be that mess of memories I herd and hoard belongs to me?

(mocking voice) “Not by the grace of all that will be

will i stand here and let it be taken from me,

all of it-not a whit!” (roll eyes)


What is all this fuss about?

This fuss about me, about you, about us?

What is an “I”?


And who gives a rat’s tail

about the drunk husband fell over the rail,

pissing his last beer out the small hole

off the edge of the boat in the moat of the sea

while his wife and his child slept deep down below?

Over he tumbled and off the boat went,

sailing all night until runningĀ  aground,

one fine sunny captainless morning…

-while hours before he had fallen, fly open

and wondering up at the glory of stars,

he drowned.


This is what happens when you piss in the wind

and forget the direction you’re facing.


Count on the sea change and the wind shift;

pay attention so you don’t fall face first into it!

Did you think that barrage of nails and glue

would keep it all together for you?


Or did you invest in the wailing storm,

gathering off, coming in from afar?

Did you think the night lighthouse would not do its job

while we raised our wild voices, bathed in sea salted air?

Did you really not notice the ceiling of stars?

Feel the ocean as your true floor?

Know the sand was the only gate

you’d ever walk through naked?


Oh the stories you have told yourself;

careening through the lies,

ups and downs like seals on waves,

slaves on ships in olden days-

is that what all this fuss’s about?

And what is an “I”?


Sunday comes, and Sunday goes:

the putting on and taking off of clothes

the socks get lost at such a cost

so into the night we scream- we do

into the dark we strike our match

to see what light will brighten,

to see what still will live

under our high black tower..


And towards the lighthouse, here we go!

Singing and blasting our radio!

Raising our arteries, blood sweeping through

the bones of our feet and the lips of our teeth-

we slam the truck doors and i tell you to shout,

to get out of the cage-

you gallop the lighthouse, imagining victory!

Our hands raised up high above freedom we fly

like salt moisture into the air …


Above all the frightened daughters,

tired sons of the lie

living bound by picket fences

living in their tidy houses

brushing off their hairy couches

muttering to themselves the same repeated

bile of the robotic little mouses,

while sunbleached surfers sleep soundly on surf boards

with the bottom of the seas as floors

and the tops of the trees singing lullabies

in their little bamboo huts under flashing starry skies.


What will be left to tell the ones to come

when we decide to remember the truth?


Oh, how the lighthouse beamed and beamed

and swept the sky throughout the nights

and spun again and spun again

and never going out…

My Life as a Crab.

Skittle along: the boring days,
the oblong days, the hazy days,
the days of nothing and hope.
Of venom and daze,
the scattered laugh,
the opened gate,
the grated nerves,
the hollow ways;
skittle along.

The crab (in its native habitat)
sidles along from side to side
the classic reaction: the ruffling,
the stains, the crinkled edges,
outrage, disenchantment,
the affectation of consternation,
the cavernous hauntings of an entire disappointed nation
the ramblings, the dejection,
and then, at once (or the following day)

On what to reflect, to be exact?
The walk of the crab,
the stripe of the cat?
Are they circular or vertical, nonsensical, convertible?
Or are they all a futile banner banging in the wind with heartless clamor:
ill fed ill wanted children.
We are a nation of poverty robots, disconnected.

Perhaps we make it to the left or right
without a slip, make it to the intersection,
to stop upon a whole new set of points
but, as the moment is in question,
and perpetually out of joint,
and insists on beginning again,
the tale follows and we never arrive.

Only to come again, again,
to the haunting,
the crippling raucous caw, (if crabs could caw,)
of the dream half dreamt, half slept,
as if, in a cocoon of warmth,
I dreamt of ice, breathing in heated circles,
or, freezing and wrapped in thin sheets of night airs,
I dreamt instead of fire.

But can (it) be compared again
to the troublesome and high wire?
Oh, not the circus, not again.
Which leaves me to deliberate:
Why was it Given, if it is not Great?
So must I slip and sidle by
and wonder why while
here is one eye
and look,