For Jack Carlton, Requiescat in Pace

Barely contained laughter
slicing open the heart of the matter
exposing the irony or hypocrisy

of all our tendentious moments
here on this long wave
we’ve been riding for half a century.

Dawali

Today light conquers darkness
good triumphs over evil
knowledge beats ignorance
as millions of Hindus light lamps
and decorate floors with colored
rice and sand and flour designs
designed to banish the dark side

Renaming the Species

Pagans, Christians, Muslims, Jews:
You are all the sons of blood.

Worshippers of Mithras
Of Horus, of Isis, or Mars:

You are all covered in blood: . . .

Un Secret

Marc and Anne-Marie
live in the shadow of the Marquis
de Sade’s chateau between
Le Coste and Coustellet
in the hot magic of Provence.

1941 Noir

The caper always goes wrong.
Some dope makes a stupid move
Like shooting the cashier or a copper
Or someone moves too soon and there’s no
Getaway car parked by the curb
Or maybe the dumb mutt follows
The car and the pooch screws you.

When Pigs Fly

Pigs bloated with conceit / Like pink hot air balloons / Sprout white wings and / Fly high all over Washington D.C. . . .

Freedom Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
all white men who own property
are created equal –
this of course excludes
black people and Indian people
and women and poor white
whiskey tangos . . .

It Out-Herods Herod

Beware. The day of reckoning is coming / when the storm brewing in Washington / blows down your house of cards.

The Postmodern White House

Donald J. Trump, / the country’s first postmodern president / has shown us that there is no Truth. / Truth is a relative . . .

Ohio River Sutra

“Thank God the economy is back in swing
And we’re ripping out enough coal
To make some sludge,”
Said the head of the local Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), himself
A former mine owner.

Shelter in Place

The corpocracy that controls us all,
tells us that when the great cosmic
foot comes crashing down
upon your own private anthill
or city or hotel or public space . . .

Christian Love in the Age of Trump

It’s hard being a Christian these days / when you are supposed to love / your neighbor, your sisters, your brothers-in-law / who all voted a narcissistic

Celluloid Elegy

The pigtailed killer of the wicked witch
led daddy’s kids thru Emerald City
before she made it there herself

Onondaga Lake

When I recently visited the Great Law of Peace Center in Syracuse, I was shocked to learn that the sacred Onondaga Lake, which is the setting for the beginning and ending of my historical novel “Turtle Island: A Dream of Peace,” is the most polluted lake in America.

Rome

The ancient Forum Romanum: a miracle of marble! / Columns Ionian and Corinthian and statues of gods / And consuls, temples lined inside and out with marble / And mosaic and tiles. Now ruins. Used for centuries / As a quarry to be mined by Bishops and Popes

Rome

In the non-Catholic cemetery in Rome
Close by the pyramid of Cestius
The bones of John Keats lay down in cool
Earth. His words were not writ on water
As it says on his stone, his last request.

Spring Again

After winter’s ragged grin, spring comes greening in / with leaf-curling smiles of hope for new beginnings:

March, That Classical Month

March, that classical month, / sits upon her pillars / supported by the plinth of dying winter / and yearning towards the moony start of spring.

The Spiral Destiny

Look at the light beams
pouring down from the sun:–
slicing through morning fog
and mist like a million surgeons’
carefully sharpened knives
in a medieval cathedral of medicine,

The Resurrection of Galileo

Vincenzo Viviani and Giovanni Battista
de Nelli strove to save Galileo’s legacy . . . :
rewriting many letters
excising references to Copernicus
and blasphemous heliocentricity.

Grafton Street Serenade

On Grafton Street a legless busker
Begged a tune from his plastic flute
Gazing the while at his missing feet
By Saint Stephen’s Green
With the swans and the palms and mist

By the Villa Borghese

By the Villa Borghese park and the statues of Lord Byron and Goethe, I wait for a bus and watch two old homeless Roman women, sitting on a bench on the street opposite me . . .

Through a Glass Darkly

Particles at vast distances from one another can affect each other’s actions. This phenomenon, called “spooky attraction at a distance,” has implications for a strange mash-up of time and space and alternate universes.

The River

Our lives are rivers of events and encounters, floods and lulls, twists and turns. And poems are rivers, rivers of words that have their source in the mythic minds of the divine forces of creation.

Prologue: The River

From my home, high on a hill overlooking the Ohio River and downtown Madison, I am able to experience the daily changes in the relationships and moods of the river, which are the inspiration for my collection of river poems.

Ode to a Nightingale

John Keats, who was born on October 31, 1795, was not well regarded during his brief lifetime, but now, more than two hundred years after his birth, his small output of poems are considered some of the most beautiful and beloved in the English language.

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Some say Keats was inspired after seeing the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. Others maintain that it was the Townley Vase that fired his imagination. Neither of these objects, however, contain the wealth of detail that exist in the poem. In it, the poet contemplates the eternal nature of art and the fleeting nature of life.

Ode to the West Wind

Poet and spoken-word artist Jack Ramey reads Shelley’s famous poem written after a walk through the woods along the Arno River during a fierce storm. The physical storm and its metaphorical possibilities excited his great poetic imagination, and this poem literally poured out of him.

Ozymandias

Poet and spoken-word artist Jack Ramey reads Shelley’s sonnet, which is one of his most famous poems. This fine poem reflects Shelley’s view that tyranny cannot last and that tyrants will always vanish in the end and return to the dust that they came from, as all things do.

Fragments from the Gone World

Louis Congo
they called me when I was alive,
my slave name – Louis for Louisiana,
Congo for where I was taken from.

Fragments from the Gone World

Imagine a planet
where mammoths
and bears outnumber people.
A mere ten thousand years ago
the human population of Earth
was five million bodies and souls. . . .

Fragments from the Gone World

The Romans could not
subdue the Jews
so they destroyed them –
burned Jerusalem
down to the ground
killed every man
woman and child

Fragments from the Gone World

Rose taffeta unwinds
from her spinning dancer’s dress

You’ve hurt me
for the last time, she says.

A rogue’s gallery of blackguards
lines the walls of her memory

Slow Wind

Against dark windows
on the bare-skinned hour
autumn falls.
Bedtime: the baby
skims surfaces, dipping
into the perverse ocean
of humanity–

Burnt Almonds

“Burnt Almonds” is a parodic, satiric, and science-fictional retelling of the flight of the Enola Gay and the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, which was one of the most horrendous examples of mass murder ever inflicted on a civilian population during a time of war. It trumps the atrocities of Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and Adolf Hitler.

Wolfman

No savage fit of barking
Will bring back the kiss of Eurydice.

Orpheus lies daggered in Mecca’s
Hashish clouded streets

And the calm dusty breasts of Helen
No longer sweat for the heat of cold Paris.

All at Sea

Camp Mingo Nirvana peek-show
northeast ohio end-all-dreamy-
thursday afternoons :
it is sunny as the Lord’s Day
& no kids play in the park

Two Hundred and Six Bones

The skin that hangs from this skeleton
is cloud stuff: tree limbs on a hilltop
seen from a moving vehicle – ineluctable
like foxfire in nightwind, vanishing within
seconds after sight.

Event Horizon

Psychotic dogs bark at cold winter stars,
chips of dead ice on the black painted
canvas of night. They sense the distance.

Ghost Road

These passengers are always with me
On my journey down to the sea
Where sailboats list and bob endlessly by the quay.

Kali Yuga

On cracked ancient krater
painted red, men black-
bearded wrestle,

To Age Slowly Without Pain

The insubstantial beauty of smoke
lilting upwards from an unseen stack
on a clear winter morning,

Shan-Shui: Rivers-and-Mountains

No rivers in China
Return to the sea
As once they did
Throughout millennia
Bringing tiny bits of mountains
To form sand on the ocean floor.

Fandango

The last few bars of Mysticali Rose
drifting down the street
mixt with dust and rolling mesquite

Gun

Oh America,
you never got over your youth –

All those slap-happy penny dreadful
tales of Billy the Kid & Wild Bill H.

went to your head and stayed there
like lead poisoning. You talkin’ to me?

Song of Gog

Living in the Land of Gog
we see but dimly
as through scrim of fog.

Fragments from the Gone World

XXVII

Simonides of Keos
inventor of the art of memory
said that painting is silent poetry
and poetry is painting that speaks.

Vanity, All Is Vanity

Sometimes
I want to be like Wang Wei
or any other Chinese poet
silent on a cold mountain top
looking down on corrupt
civilization

Resurrection and Ascension

Such properties as these
do make me funk.
I shall go outside and
become one with ducks,
who must for now remain invisible,
even though they seem indivisible
from my poor twisted psyche today . . .