Goldin's Voice Pictures
in units of degree.
No closure. It just stops.
They don't mind the voyeur camera.
They think reason is not
it's dodgy, full of liquids.
These are photographs
of drug addicts, applied
the diagonal line misses the caution
of complacency, eyes glaring
from a distant
Two of them
are in wedding costume,
as if they would make
A book of pictures,
a theory of dominoes.
And from Japan, the geisha
sticks on her lipstick,
of Santa Fe's red-light happy palace.
One woman shows both
fists and blackened eyes:
a masterpiece of life lived
in a burnout
Two men in undershirts lean
forward, slumping into
from their thoughts. They were
born transvestites, and believe
everyone is the same,
their happiness tethered in the air.
Another man sheds his tee-shirt,
a tattooed Magnum on his chest
for protection, of course.
The mixed group is playing
Offshore, the lake
is dry, and no one smiles.
Toy airplanes attack
A blonde woman
with an upper arm tattoo
stares at the dominatrix
in her black
short black boots, everything
her hair, too:
all gleam friendly in the light.
She is happy to be so admired.
Truly, there is much to discount
in the way
a trudge deepens in the snow.
Not much of a landscape,
people occupy the main concourse.
Moods are slow. Goldin
catches them all– all
in natural positions,
as if to say, well, fuck it.
If there is an orchestral intermezzo
no one listens.
Goldin's voice pictures.
So much is sad,
but not freaky. The flesh
climbs down from its nurture.
Beginning is another
left in bedrooms,
in any night club or cigarette.
Life is treated
as one of the
in the way a god smokes.
behind her eyes
takes itself seriously.
Psychotherapy is not a couch
but an episodic film
that strays from childhood
toward a vacation
in a cheap apartment
at crisis level.
But since time is no
what is gained
is a respect for process:
what is going on catches
here or there,
without recourse. So it goes.
No one is left
with a decent name
at the checkout stand.
as it protects
existence. Goldin has honor
as a keepsake in her collusion.
We who look
in bits and pieces, formidably
that there is no elsewhere.
A blonde girl's face
stares into the bloodshot
She is pretty, smiles into Manhattan,
where the windows,
block by block,
The Habitual Skeleton
Become the spare room of a champagne-soaked scar,
too bottled and beaten by the extremes of my two a.m.
Watchful thieves hide in the eyes of a woman.
Until we see a bridge across, we erupt survival
mantras without the crush of cemetery feedback.
The town on the hill began to fight against
the reliefs painted on our knapsacks, and I
No longer conditioned by tremors, turned on
stilettos to examine the map of night vision quests.
The latter day parade signaled our best grievance in
a week flanked by the rub of copulation acts.
When her spark became a fire, the sniper laid down
his scope and settled down for a calm winter's nap,
crossword death in a summer of overgrown masks.
Room on a Day Without Windows
Opening whole hours with a stolen knife,
my egg also unfolds as
I wear blistered white skins
for the dolls I've emulated
Where everyone reflects a halo
of perfect light, under which we stand
luminous sores of half-crisped yolks
In stripes on fire, I don my crowd mentality
and sweep under rugs
This half-split battle wrapped
into bodies permitting
an image of form, a formless task—
I am part of that red line, blue shell miscast
As she too, her person, wonders where lies
the go-down road of traffic in patterns of dusk,
then finds a notch in her spine
Pulls sulfur from stone
Smells the perfume of smoke's civil gasp
When her legs turn paper stars
into the paper sun of a matchless sky
And the overtaken blow, practice hello,
always the children as the elders stay home
In My Kitchen
an ice cube
the tray falls
onto the floor
at the window
her chill giving
way to warmth
A Nearly 60th Birthday Poem
Ah Friday, September! I'm happy
in a melancholy way.
I'd rather gleam
like those little suns reflecting
on each pomegranate by the fence,
but that's over with, I guess.
My cat Orlando doesn't mind.
He likes it that I have more time to
pet and talk to him now
as I walk aimlessly in the yard
trying to find where the cheerful
Wordsworth had "intimations" of this
at thirty, and it's taken me
twice his age.
A hawk glides above
my neighbor's evergreen
in the everblue,
ever ready to swoop down on some
whose master's gone this one last workday
before the weekend
that I never
would have asked.
A Man Moving Toward His Prime
--Roisin Dubh, Galway
Tell them they would get more poets in here
If they turned the music down.
A man moving toward his prime
has a few things to consider.
When to allow himself to be seen weeping.
Stroking the hair of the beautiful children,
letting them who watch extrude the gesture
through their innocence, their shame.
When to point at the shape in the water
and shout, when but to watch
the gray seal cruising before night,
two silent hearts under the
dark crook of the heron,
amid the white flash
of the fish of the rivermouth.
how I love you. . . how I love you
heart sings over and over.
When to let that pass,
when to make it open like the blast
through the seabird's bill,
haunting and turbulent,
impossible to locate.
"Van Morrison doesn't sing so well after all"
says one boy to another at the bar.
A man moving toward his prime
would not think such a thought.
Bellow up there on the hill
between the water and the gray stone.
Scatter the magpies
. Ripple the Corrib away from you
so the gray seal feels you, though he hunts alone.
Considers the moments
so beautiful the uttering thereof is absurd:
Nimmo's Quay at twilight, the gray seal
after salmon in the river,
the terns and cormorants following the bright road of it,
heron homing over the deep, one shadow,
the flash of the fish,
wavelets white between the wind
and the powers of the deep.
Looks back to the dark town
brightening from inside, to the
single scallop of light high over.
Those voices. The stories taken up again.
The word you know for "home";
the word unknown to say why you were born
so far from it.
He is the one who stands his ground.
Into the city he saunters
He sees torsos and eyes in the verticals
of buildings, extended arms in the bridges,
but nowhere her name
Drum beats collide and clear
He wanted to be rain or water
to be smooth against,
but in each neighborhood,
it is a different face:
Liquid light her name.
Out on the street an angel
coveting pain. Men and women
hunger for his wings.
Puddles and pot-holes
propel the body into ceremony.
Ravage or delight, what spills indoors
will disappear with little public account.
To call out tells us someone
burns against the disastrous,
though the sky is blue and quiet
and the kid on the street kicks off
on his skateboard to flip from the curb
into an ankle-jolted--full circle--triple axle,
while inside he combs his wings
in preparation for the larger story.
In the Thelonius section of the Night Club
Intent without snapping our fingers
Feet balled to the floor
The air an optical rhythmic aisle
The music stands each fall over
Cats sleek as dirtied mauve
Move in triplicate, dark and gray:
It's not a Midnight where things go white
No one says quick a drink or opium
No one--eyes to the higher key--
Turns like now the fall of cracked glass
No one rushes the door.
in the elegant hell
that is speech that leech of lollygaggled
lily-livered elements that spell
__ __ __
thriller and frilly
lilt among the fallen filaments
and really really eloquent
in the swelling quell and pell-mell
fee fie foe fum
firing lies on the front lines and lining up
to spill our lust
elephantine elk in the whelling swelter of tall tales and fables
i smell the blood of an Englishman
to hell with it
her name her um
shimmer emanation mimeo cameo
we were there to mismanage mangle and otherwise
mar the meanwhile
muttering empty murmurs and mumbling
mirthful purrs and mellifluous metrics
among the inflammation melt and mold
of the mum substance
mother may i
jumble loosely your ejaculant muck
in the big mama empathy of embittered
emphasis and amanuensis of mammy
i am what i mammory
emphatic muddle in this thumb twiddling middle
of the dream fumble
On the Roof
On the roof
there are pebbles
nowhere from somewhere
On the roof at times
the sun shines
the rain pours
even snow may cover its surface
To you on the ground
the roof is not near
though it is there
the sun the rain the snow
are you unmoved
by the roof above you
Have you no desire
to reach its threshold?
He's washin' dishes and baby clothes,
He's so ambitious, he even sews,
But don't forget folks, that's what you get folks,
For makin' whoopee!
I want to remind the audience of what is possible.
Even the worst, which is why, as I sing this song
I think of the myth of young Rimbaud on a ship
carrying slaves. Let the clever lyrics feel the pressure
of that. Let the unspeakable weigh against the pleasure
of a popular song. Isn't that how it is every day?
How foolish am I to sing about a man in the nineteen
forties, poor bastard learning to sew. Served up
like a fine roast to the coy velocity of sex. A song
sung over my picture of voices filtering up
from the hold. Live and lives, and the magnitude
of that. The French man-child getting ready to lose a leg
as I make the lyric sexy and strange while someone backstage
lights a cigarette, and satisfied with the opening set,
wipes his gold horn down.
Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino
and would you could express it
with stone and bitumen
a hedge of hide and chatter
for the anonymous flip, of a coin.
to sing, of time and of distinctions
of cause and of case
and not to measure, the merits
in very idiosyncrasy
asserted, in room of learning and sufficiency.
the swift and stubborn and medley appointment.
the predilection, quietly, transparency
must be pronounced transparency
must be pronounced insistence
and handed on.
or did not think in terms of Sinai.
a detail of anatomy, say.
a knot in a rope.
and to be shamefully naked.
this comes in the form of an emergency.
this comes in the form of a middle voice.
this comes in the form of a pretty bride.
and this is the poetry
of having known the light of common day.
deeply. and necessarily.
readily. and necessarily.
; The Hidden Logic of Births Necessitating Violence
; retrieving that thought I didn't know was missing
; "I liked to have Daddy's eyes on me"
; the lavender hue of an anticipatory silence over the crowd preparing a communal
; carrots sliced into unsatisfying translucence
; the mother snapped the umbilical cord with her teeth, strapped the newborn to her back, then picked up the scythe
; near the end, the eyes take on an ascetic's bright, ecstatic gleam
; Hope for Enchantment
; the redhead during Verdi
; solitary breakfasts persisting to form such a long row
; rain, then a dangerous happiness
; her gown extends her skin
; you bookstopping a row of muddied dreams
; clarity – the wake of a bold breeze
; The Possible Glow
; the most effective beast must lack compulsion
; how blue becomes golden in a Cimabue
; waiting out the ash in one's mouth until morning
; then, part the curtain to face the well
; to complete paintings by allowing viewers' shadows
; reproduce half-tones from a photograph
Email Concerning the New Style
On the phone I was probably too manic – I haven't
grasped, let alone resolved, all the
contradictions. One arose after we spoke, as I
climbed a shortcut to the Safeway through
the small, mysteriously tended park. Rain
was in its second day of not
becoming exactly rain, and some arrangement
of grass and gravel and exposed roots
provoked one of those moments that
are now less experience than memory.
But even in childhood they suggested
nothing about my actual life – rather
a future that could only arrive
by miracle, or a world where it already,
somehow, existed: one in which my father's friends
(who must have owned a park like that,
traversed by such a path) were even
richer than they seemed – so rich
their generosity wouldn't have to be
noticed; where they were devoted to
me, to my genius (stepping meditatively along
the path), where they were my friends, having
nothing whatever to do with childhood.
And I thought: Does the new style
mean I must give up that other world,
some version of which has been the point
of every experience I've ever had, its
referent, its critique, its compensation?
Must I now really become
sympathetic, seeking "no wonder but
the human face," etc., imaginatively
worldly, accepting death and all that, rather
than snatching and grabbing occasional bits of
reality for a continually improvised heaven?
Then I thought: the main thing
is not to rate or place oneself below
one's theme. As they all do – the mandarins who
splice and bracket syllables, super-
impose lines and erase meaning, bear
the light and cast the shadow of a place
where selves and stories are for fools; they can't
be fooled, they serve the light. Sentimentalists
lift up their hands to gods invented for
particular tears, and seek
co-celebrants. And the surviving
confessionalists (their pride is to survive, or
not) serve Father. I in contrast realize
that the world and the other world,
the self and any happier self are,
indifferently, coal becoming diamond
or clouds retaining shape one afternoon;
I imagine poets
like gods, like superpowers,
worlds in themselves, stumbling
happily, blindly across the colorless world.
I should get the day started …
all I've accomplished so far
was breakfast. Too incoherent and
gummy even to step out for the paper,
I looked at the TLS.
More Edwardians; more Seamus Heaney
guilts about being a poet rather than something-or-other;
new essay collection by Geoffrey Hill, whose
relentless focus on seventeenth-century
divines represents (one is simply supposed to
know this) his rejection of modernity … I'm
bad in the mornings, I can't clear my lungs;
I'm barely intellectual, let alone awake.
You really should start preparing, Jim,
it isn't too soon, for the interviewers, my
biographer. Get your women out of the way,
except for some pantihose balled in the couch
to make her (I imagine a Vassar person) smile
impassively at your grey hair. Feel free
to talk at length about your painting; tell her
how much I liked those crabbed but cool
annotations of cosmic disaster. Kevin and
Marty should also be called, an artist, a kind of
poet, largely skinless in offices.
Do you know, when I wanted to write fiction,
the title I envied was Till We Have Faces?
I resented the hell out of C. S. Lewis;
it isn't the pious, the bien-pensant,
whose faces are somehow stolen.
I'll walk to Starbucks and grade papers.
The sun looks as if it's about to appear.
Things on the boulevard will have that damp
debauched look. Peltzman
may appear, setting his easel among glinting
weeds, his usual hunted look discouraging
comments. (Good brushwork, colors his own,
not fussy, modeling always slightly off, and
that's as far as it goes; they hang in
restaurants and the post-office display-case.)
Nannies with strollers, dogs bounding
from SUVs, the immense black cop sternly
awake in the speed-trap car … I try
to find in every presence
an absence, if not what is absent (or,
the neighbors might say, discomfort in any comfort).
When I started writing poetry,
my emblem was an archaeologist
seeing in a few fragments a whole buried
culture. That hasn't changed, though the fragments
I'm finding in this quadrant seem to show
a culture mad for mirrors. When I finish grading,
I'll work on the new style, if this email leaves
me anything. You know I resist
the electronic impetus to drop
paragraphs, punctuation, reflection ... I may
be fooling myself, however – still
exemplifying the common thought that it,
they, write us and not vice versa ... :–)
art is a form of game-playing
round the corner thoughtlessly
neither the signpost nor the road acknowledge tau iwi's concerns
in which the maker challenges the innocence within
matter: the dust plus your nostrils
the clods stop the holes in your boots
during this process a distraction can be useful
your joke rolls away from its insight like a coin from a spendthrift
in order to honour whomsoever shows
it can assist the maker to codify the essential
without begrudging the sun which keeps your eyes peeled
or the river which gives its stop-banks the clip
by simultaneously referring to the transitory and the absolute
with the weight of a witness crossing
‘Hoki wairua mai, e koro e….'
‘Pakeha felt that they ought not be viewed by Maori
as tau iwi or aliens'
--Michael King, The History of New Zealand, p. 516;
‘Hoki…,' from the karanga welcoming visitors to a tangi:
‘Return in spirit, sir. . .'
--Michael King, Te Ao Hurihuri, p. 30]
T H E H A M I L T O N S T O N E R E V I E W