Thursday, February 24, 2011

Howl II

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
unhinged by rote repetitions of market economy truisms,
waylaid by synthetic psychoactive chemicals from pursuing linear thought,
felled by genetic predispositions to various addictions, proclivities,
brought to a full stop by auto-immune disorders.
Was ours the last generation to cower in the closet? Or the first to recognize
how ambiguous the either/or of sexual identity?
Great God Mammon stole many, consumed their youth and optimism
like so many yards of red Twizzler into the gullets of near-anorexics.
LSATs, law school, bar exams: meat grinders parsing the difference between
heroes and zeroes.
Our time became the time when even to ask the question: "What is all this for?"
was to be flung into utter irrelevance.
We jogged ourselves jointless, treadmilled our way to early aneurysms,
all in the name of fitness.
Unprecedented prosperity led many of our finest down fruitless garden paths of
pointless competitive connoisseurship: as if the best cigar, the best Bordeaux,
the freshest oyster, the smokiest Scotch, the highest concentrations of anti-oxidants
in the most organic, non-genetically modified heirloom tomato could save their souls.
As if worshipping at the temple of their own bodies, the ensuing survival of the
self-righteous could prove to the self-selected elite anything other than:
they weren't dead yet.
It seems a matter of luck, not the finely ground fear of middle class prudence, but
I'm not dead yet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Restaurant Villanelle

Shall we be reasonable, my dear?
No need to order more than we can eat.
Tomorrow is another day, I fear.

It's true the oysters beckon, and the beer,
And what's a meal without a hunk of meat--
Shall we be reasonable then, my dear?

Oh--bouillabaisse! the choice is clear
But what about the rack of lamb complete
Tomorrow is another day, I fear.

You know those crispy little French fries they make here?
They stop your heart, then really make it beat,
Shall we be reasonable then, my dear?

Oh, what the hell--let's order half a steer
I guess we could take home what we don't eat.
Tomorrow is another day, I fear.

I'll pop a notch if I bend a bit too near,
That pot de creme was rich, perhaps effete--
Shall we be reasonable tomorrow then, my dear?
Tomorrow's challenge is the same, I fear.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Have you seen this painting I'm thinking of? Italian, 15th century, no angel. It is just a young woman, one hand raised, certain that the air has changed around her, an unseen event has occurred, a decision not her own will now guide her life. She will no longer be herself or an individual or anything she can recognize as the girl she was even one minute ago. She is now and will ever be a tunnel, a conduit, a sheath that held something miraculous and then, at another moment, no longer did. She is a means, not an end. She is a pathway, not a goal. Her very self will be flattened to let the goal be what it is and she, whether willing or unwilling, will now be that flattened thing.
And her will? What has will to do with this life as she is living it? Will, as she sees it construed by men, is illusion. She holds herself ready; then it begins, then the unsheathing leaves her flattened. Only then is she free to be an individual, a self. But not to the unsheathed one. To that baby, she is a god, then an embarrassment, then an annoyance, then a shore left behind long ago.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Back to the Dawn

Wake up early every morning
It's back to the dawn.
Leave the house in darkness
Walk the many blocks
Between the nest and the wide world
With my back to the dawn.
Deposit my most precious cargo
In the think-tank,
The sink-or-swim popularity factory
And then go on my way
Back to the dawn.
But today I go the other way
Scarlet sunburn behind
Tangled black roots
That are oaks without leaves in December
Trunks in blood
Twig tips in muted rose
I'm no longer
Back to the dawn
But full frontal
Face to face with the searing red evidence of the
Embarrassment the universe feels
For our petty aims and well-laid plans
And my own gory pump
Bangs around in my chest
Electrified and glory-filled
Happy to witness color drained of content
I'm back to the dawn.