Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The life that never was

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 (Asbury Park)

We cast characters in our heads
as we walk this walk that Springsteen walked,
these institutions that linger at the edge of darkness,
the artist offering portraits for passers-by,
whose civil war era Union army hat
covers his eyes against the sinking sun,
his previous work stretched out
over two sea-side benches like a rogue’s gallery,
if not quite life-like then like life
in that we cannot duplicate ourselves
or those times we ache to repeat
regardless of how many times we stroll
these old boards and seek the images
we have only come to know in song,
Perhaps we can get help from the magician
Who sets up shop near Madam Marie’s,
Telling no fortune but apologizing
To the crowd when some of his tricks
Go wrong, his cards filled with holes
He can peer through at them,
Maybe the old men who gather in the old casino
Still have memories of that time
When a different life percolated here,
Getting caught on rides that have long been demolished.
Thinking they might never get off,
But now, in this lingering limbo, this twilight
Sea-side city of dreams, they really can’t,
Like the old carousel building or the sewerage plant
Serving as icons to a glorious past
Nobody thought were glory days
When they transpired,
Or the equally ancient old man 
With an equally ancient guitar
Strumming out songs that no one hears
And people stop to pay him out of sympathy
Or tribute to some god they knew
Once traveled in his company,
That he saw in the flesh and could testify to,
And who in strumming tuneless tunes,
Gives a different, less distinct soundtrack
To this life that never was.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ah Carol

Saturday, September 20, 2014

She sat on my knee at 23
Short skirt hiding the lap
She rode like a steed,
As she rubbed my leg
between her thighs,
an old Chuck Berry
Rolling Stones song
Reverberating in my head,
She pretending to be
A little girl seated
On her daddy’s lap
While glancing over
Her shoulder at me
Laughing, talking
With a mutual friend
Pretending not to notice
My growing need,
Looking my way
Just enough to
Turn me into butter
She knew she churned,
All of me oozing
Out of me
Turning me
Inside out,
A wax man ignited
From within
By her rubbing
Of sticks,
An internal flame
I could not extinguish
Until she stopped,
An eternal anguish
I feel even
All these years later,
So near and yet
Not near enough,
Always on the edge of it
As she came close
And then moved away,
Each stroke stoking
The fire as to make it
All the hotter,
Until she was certain
She had seen every
Drop ooze out of me
And then, only then,
Did she smile

Friday, September 19, 2014


Friday, September 19, 2014

I bleed you
With both eyes
Not wounded
But scorched
The way
All mortal men
Get when looking
At a god
Sweet Athena
Infecting every
inch of me
no ointment
Oozed over
my tight skin
Can bring
Lasting relief
The ache
Is too deep
To reach
Of how far
I go
Each inch
More than a mile,
A huffing and puffing
Plunge into the dark
And no piece
Of mushroom
And shrink me
As the world grows
Rigid around me,
But I bleed
Even from a distance
One glance
And I singe my soul
And bubble up inside
Bleeding from every
Orifice, especially
My eyes
Crying out of joy
The way all mortal men
Must when they see
What is utterly forbidden
And always lethal
Yet always lusted


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pointed shapes

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The sudden chill
Brings out the best in you,
The pointed shapes
That haunts men’s dreams
even fully awake,
The nape of neck
The sudden fleck of wet
The lick that tips it all
Into so much more
And makes cripples
Of men like me
Who hobble on imaginary canes
We did not intend to create,
All too obvious
But not so easily contained,
When the chill air comes
We overheat, and seek
Just a little peek,
Or touch with the tips of fingers
We know will scald
Despite the cold,
Palms curled around
The whole of them,
While our minds plunge
Deep into places
We only dream
Of reaching

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nefertari’s slave

You wrap me up in silk threads
Until I am bound tight
In your cocoon,
This squirming worm feeling
Every bit of the soft warmth
Around me,
The cut of cords against my skin
Telling me how far I might go
Without permission.
I am a mummy bound up
For some goddess’ pleasure
To live or die,
To serve as needed,
To be or not be
As you see fit,
The silk bitter not sweet
Pressing the air out of me
A suffocating sucfocofus
From which I am not
Expected to wake
Again in this world,
But sent with you
To do for you what
I did not do here,
To be what I should have been,
A pale worm squirming
And yet tied to this new promise
Of an old thing that will
Explode into something grand,
Something different from
What I was before,
If not beautiful on the outside,
Then marvelous within.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Madam Marie’s

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I pass it on the boardwalk
And then again in town,
A granddaughter taking
Possession of an institution
Made famous by a song,
We live in a world
Thick with hints and omens
Trying to read tea leaves
When we need it spoken plain
And nothing ever is,
Life is always a mingling
Of coming and going
Green or red
Walk or don’t walk
When we need to know
Which we should do when
I prefer the blue neon
Of the boardwalk Marie’s
Because it is so near to the sea
So if I can’t get a straight answer
From one, I can seek one in the foam
Flowing up at my feet,
Hoping against hope
The cops don’t bust the waves
For telling fortunes
Better than they do.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Melted metal

Monday, September 15, 2014

It rumbles through you
Like a late night earthquake
The back beat ripping
Open this thin civilized veneer
To expose what we all are
Deep inside,
The tsunami rushing
Through out vein
To some primitive call
We thought we had
Long evolved from
We breathe deep breaths
And drink deep draughts
And still it comes on
A fire in the belly of a beast
We all become
the screech of loud guitar
Like a hot poker
Stirring up slumbering coals
Until we turn into melted metal
Aching for that moment
When inspiration makes us
Solid again,
This life gets into the blood
And then lays dormant
Even after all these years
All pretence at being
So prim and proper
Until the first note
Like the first light of dawn
And we crumble
To the rumble and shake
And we become what
We have always been,
Swept up and consumed
Inside and out,
The floor boards vibrating
Not from the bass drum,
But from something inside us
Pushing its way out.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Asbury Park 9/13/14

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumn falls on the boardwalk
With a gush of rain
Like a stage curtain coming down
On what was
To leave what will be
The creak of wood moans
Under my footstep
As I make my way passed
Madam Marie’s,
A slick, precarious trip
But no longer scalding
As it was
Not extinguished
But a mist rising
From each crack
Like steam
From a tea kettle
I feel the bubbling
Inside of me
Even as my brow drips
With the cool broth
Of this changing season
The vacancy of the place
Only making the urgency acute
Winter forces it all inward
Putting pressure
On this frail frame
That stumbles over
This sacred ground,
Aching even now to be
The savior that rises
From these streets,
From the spidery web
Of the ruined casino
To the crumbling art deco
Of the once and future theater
And back again
As rain washes over me
And through me
To the sound of the nearby sea

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Saturday, September 13, 2014

I press the button
And hear the distant sound
Of machines and cables
bringing up or down
The cage I need
This vertical lift
We ride to and from
Destinations marked out
On no road maps
The elevation marked
on no altimeter
But rather inside my head
Where I leave marks
Of my own importance
The way my uncles did
In pencil on the dinning room
Door frame when I was small
To see how much I’d grown
Though now I am no taller
Yet still need to measure
How high I stand,
If I have lost stature
And how to get it back if I have
Who I am reflected
Not in any mirror
But on the faces of those I see
Through the small window
Of my cage
As I travel floor by floor,
My life measured
In the groan of cables
Above and below
When all I really want
Is to be where I am
At any given moment,
Free of the need to be
High or low,
Rich or poor,
Powerful or powerless,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The heat of it

September 11, 2014

I kiss the air until my lips bleed,
And I can’t breathe the overheated sky
That scalds me with each breath I breathe
No smoldering from mere sunlight
But hot lava scorching everything I expose,
Leaving my tongue and fingers blistered,
And still I reach for more,
Grasping hot coals in the cup of my hands
Feeling them quiver against my fingers
And then against the tip of my tongue,
Making me ache all the more
For what I know only causes me pain,
And still I plunge headlong into the fiery plume
Knowing I can’t possibly survive,
Knowing it is the only way I can stay alive,
Knowing this kiss I kiss is all there is
And all there can ever be,
And this touch I touch incinerates me
From the inside out,
And like a fool I let it happen,
Beg for it to happen again
Kissing air that seals my lips closed like wax,
Breathing from a fiery sky a fire I can’t survive,
Touching molten lava until I have no fingers
Or toes or tongue, only the urge to press on,
Pushing myself into the deepest and hottest parts,
Aching with every bone for more,
To kiss even without lips to kiss with,
To breathe more deeply and feel every bit of it

Before I go up entirely in flames

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Full moon

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

It is hot and wet
When I get there
A moving target
That closes in
Around me
And shifts
This way, then that,
Up and down
And sideways
Until I’m drunk
On the movement
As any sailor
Something stirring
In the depth of me
I’ve not quite
Felt before,
A rising to the tides
As if you were a full moon,
And I change
On your account
This hard and soft of it
And always shifting
Like wind driven beach sand,
As if to cease moving
Is to cease to exist
With me wrapped up
In all that you are,
The need of it
Burning in us both
Making it impossible
To breathe for whole moments,
As I hold onto your sides
This ride, this rise and fall,
This ache and release,
All there is to think about
Or feel,
The perfect Zen moment
When time stops
But we cannot.

Friday, September 5, 2014

How deep is too deep?

Friday, September 05, 2014

There is only so deep you can go
Before the air runs out
And the more you reach
The less breath you can take in
And must measure pleasure
With survival and whether it is wiser
To withdraw or die there in bliss
Our lives our circumscribed
By such limits, that place
From which me must leap
Or take a step back,
Reevaluating what it means
To go on after being pumped up
So much we do not often
Understand the consequences
Of coming or going,
But we ache to continue,
To come and come again
To breathe deep when there is
Nothing left to breathe
But our own expected breath
And yet, when all is said and done
Sometimes, that is enough.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brush fire

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Our fingers brush and something sparks
A device in me Tommy Edison barely imagined
Turbines turning with that first contact
And once begun unable to stop
I can barely move without feeling it poke me
From the inside out
So scalding I dare not touch it
Or expose it to air
Knowing that like phosphorous
It will explode into a flame I cannot contain
And barely kept quiet as I stagger around with it
A hobbling man with burning fingers
From a touch I never intended
But cannot take back,
I can’t even find the fuse that touch lit
Only hear its hissing inside my head
And sense its growth I cannot long handle,
Sitting or standing or stumbling around,
I can only suck at my finger tips
Like a child hoping to suck away the burn
Wishing I could taste something,
Wondering if the rumbling inside
Leads finally to something else.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Milk and honey

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

It is enough to fill you up,
I pour it all from the pitcher of milk
Into a glass filled half way with honey
I just don’t know when to top
To keep it from running over
And oozing down the sides.
I know don’t know if I can stop this
After having stoked this up
And caused it to flow,
You don’t stop a boulder
You set rolling down a hill
By running in front of it,
You just let it roll
Yet I feel run over by it anyway,
Feel each drip of milk
As it slips out the spout,
Wondering at what mixture it makes
When it makes with you
Do I stir it or let it settle?
Do I keep pumping it up?
And pour it in?
Should I ask you to taste it
To see if it tastes right?
And do I ask if anything else
Came come of this –
Some higher purpose
For all the energy we expend
The milkmaid and the milkman
Churching up this concoction
To make butter,
Or perhaps it is enough to church
Both letting the stone roll
Or the broth drip over
The edges.