Homeboy and the River

Ash sky
wet glass
spectacled face
sits at the
window on a

grey faces
count off

    I could do without

one two


colors in
deep runs
water around

a girl in the street
stands in a puddle  

stronger storm
crystal sheen
slate street

Honeyed Leaves

he plays with words
he sins

he plays with smoke

she loves me
I love her not

trees have meant
everything about love
since that day with the
blossoms took us a picture
        &fixed our hearts

the color of May
the tree's white blood
each   blossom   drip
the grieving that is love

each one
a letting go
a taking part

& poetry
the cameraman's trick

Letter to Mariah I

Alice's room. Loft and
bellow of smoke and
sound. Woven density

weightlessness of each
ashen fiber crossing
musical line clothes

us in eachother. We
enter and for a moment
our souls are stitched

together, rhythm and
breathing,  we have
become one organism

As our sprits respire
make that grey dance
around us and ask us

if we really know where
the body stops and
the world begins

But against all of that
something so humble,
grounded with no
aspirations to that
kind of knowing: a rug

Born as some modest
brown its true color
comes from its worn

patiently waiting
as our lofted selves
return to meet the

catching the smells of
ourselves, particles
woven into its piles

the rug is just a body
essence is the lived life

the honest stitching of
each new love into the heart.

The smoke whirling in your pipe
is a text that travels through you

and as we hum and pass
piece and tangle our mass
about the center of Alice's room

I'm taken to the fine line
pencil tipping
the smouldering incense stick

It rises, ash clean
marks the air above
emberheart  delicate dust

but at a height, it
turbulance pulls everyway and
our clean thin charcoal stroke
yields to the infinite

smothering air, everdancing

The charcoal stain of that
first smoke is the
boldness of Name

certainty as we speak and
place    each    word
as the pencil takes the page

but behind each curve and
line lies an empty magic
concealed, blotted over

As the smoke rises and is
washed away
Name is lost

scattered to a wind the
idea is formless

from Formlessness every
Name was born.

Pulling from all space
drawn from air's ritual

a Name is chosen as each
scent of ash returns
turbid cloud collects
density, darkness

the charcoal stain of that
first smoke is a
stroke on a page

Letter to Mariah II

Your body --- how you write

Architecture, Ideas: the Imagination in which reside all things lives in the body. And so you describe the cosmos of a cafe, a chamber (of smoke) and these things are as alive as we are, as embodied.

But I feel so divorced from that part of myself. Decapitated, in a way, except the head is what I've kept. You could think it a luxury, to go through the world with so little attention payed to how others see me. And I have bragged! of whole days spent with not even a glance given to my face in a mirror.

Alice talks about how grounding it is, to know that our minds are fused to our bodies. That even the loftiest thoughts can be made to come to Earth. And then she speaks of a kind of consciousness that radiates in all our limbs, a kind of truest thought, honest thought.

I suppose I have been there, but only as I have been intoxicated, by rage and love even. But for that intoxication I never take notice, that my whole aparatus has come together at once; I do not see it until it is over.

on the beach
ambersmog blanketing the sky
petrol platforms sleeping
on the edge of the Earth
jeweled like gods in
Sapphire and all the rest

Grit and grey haze
brief nakedness
where we live
everstill as an engraving

It all seems so unfair, the way I could draw the curves of my first love but not my own face. A menace, I capture from women their bodies, keep them. Maybe they know this and that is the exchange. Do they have me? There again I am oblivious. Oh, what would be right?

I must know my body. I must think with it, wield it, undermine this tyranny of mind. How else could I be fair?

And when I read you, how you live the world with your whole being. I go back to my old poems, how little of touch, of taste is there. I play only with the academic senses; I live. How absurd! How much more there is to have, to soak in through my skin!

The way you write, everything is alive. Everything is in us, and we are alive. That world.

life sketch

Some softness
warm essence
taste    and the
rasp rustling of your
cotton thigh upon my

    we met as
strangers in
California night
crisp air
still smoke
    we danced

earlier I sold you
San Francisco misty
glow and placid
Berkeley air

I wore music like
my second skin
hoping to seep past
some topographic
truth of your image

But now I wait
tepid    careful
geometry of your

studying your
relief in

    for a
sign you will
speak with
moistmouth and the
curve of your

Your fingers
words within my

I will watch as
bluenight and
spin earth

    as you
tell me your
story    then
beyond the

Rusty Sharee

The hallway fluoresced
along its whole sterile length.
I could hear a distant steely buzz

Sharee's shoes tapping tile
as we filed along this
bureaucratic afterthought.

There was jazz in this basement
college boys at their best
classmate Joe Escobar on at ten.

Not that we cared.
We wore whiskey on our breath   
we made sure we were late.

As that buzz grew warmer
I became cool blue
dancing all the moves
I learned in the book.

Music school means you can
count the bars and get
awfully mad when the
sax misses the changes

& knowing the heroes
from Louis to J.C...
You've probably 
been to Harlem once.

Joe wasn't so bad as he
tried to translate that
obsidian sound

He knows those ivories like his
own pale fingers and he
speaks that ebony language
like a native boy.

If that sax would have 
soloed along with the
changes, I'd have clapped
when I knew that I should

Just like white Joe
I've studied the classics
and learned how to
make them my own.

And if anyone's jazzy
it's rad Sharee. They're
rusty brown and mean.

But that space didn't
have no room for my friend

Those phosphorescent
bodies were packed up to the
door in a coolly lit
worship of style.

Whose Jazz sounds here? Is it mine,
brought out of the books, bought
with my college degree?

Do I know the whole story?
Know all the rules?

Those kids didn't even
know when to clap but they still
lined up to take communion.
They didn't even ask.

But that Jazz wasn't Sharee's
that's for sure
they didn't play for her kind

She melted into the wall
small shadow, piece of night.
We left early to beat the crowd.

Afterwards, when we
sat by the creek
on a wooden bench
softened by night

she confided: "we 
were the brownest
people in the room"

I thought: "me?
I'm flattered to
be on your team"


Guitar case 
sits on the

Homeboy enters.

Homeboy paces 
up and down 
a sidewalk.

He sits 
upon it before
lighting a cigarette.

Sad. dejected.

He smokes 
half of it.

Extinguishes it
on his shoe.

Stands up.
Picks up the 
guitar and 

The Season Now for Sorting

 I ran away from Berkeley
for the first time in four
years, to see the seasons

      The solstice sunk in
Washington. The district's stately
marble brazen, blind beneath
the highest sun, turned hearthstone
wombwarmth of the stillest

     The easy slip of hours
with the cheapest beer. Turned
moon turned moon to harvest
moon; us cradled in the
truckbed hiding bottles from
the ire of Waleed's pious

   Autumn now in Paris &
the first chimney coughs
The first night in Ba Tre's
apartment: finally alone. I
let the windowwings fly
in and leave the shutters wide.

I bow my breast over the rail
to keep the cigarette smoke out &
count the windows of the
building across Rue Legendre.

   The glitter of the spitoon
street, its monochrome tobacco
lanterns drag me back to 
Berkeley and that starless
sky: the first fuck I cared not
call love.

    Nicole & her Newport
lips daring me to drink
party, noise & sex & shame
Her menthol kiss and vomit
Berkeley and her endless
Fall, every evening mist
The slimmest bed
scratchpaper walls
How with her frame fixed
in my fold, I felt still
but sole

         I ran away from Berkeley
   to let the leaves break loose.

        Autumn now in Paris
The trees unstitch their signatures

   The season now for sorting &
     discerning what to keep


Excerpt from Spring and All

The rose is obsolete
but each petal ends in
an edge, the double facet
cementing the grooved
columns of air --- The edge
cuts without cutting
meets --- nothing --- renews
itself in metal or porcelain ---

whither ? It ends ---

But if it ends
the start is begun
so that to engage roses
becomes a geometry ---

Sharper, neater, more cutting
figured in majolica
the broken plate
glazed with a rose

Somewhere the senses
makes copper roses
steel roses ---

The rose carried weight of love
but love is at an end --- of roses

If it is at the edge of the
petal that love waits

Crisp, worked to defeat
laboredness --- fragile
plucked, moist, half-raised
cold, precise, touching


The place between the petal's
edge and the

From the petal's edge a line starts
that being of steel
infinitely fine, infinitely
rigid penetrates
the Milky Way
without contact --- lifiting
from it neither hanging
nor pushing ---

The fragility of the flower
penetrates spaces

--- William Carlos Williams