Monday, May 30, 2011

I Used To Be Empty


Something's up in ruined space

the happy lamp is broken

the halls and doors in this shattered place

are jammed with war

down there in sunlit rooms

of spoken sometime whim

a sometime head is seized - a past returned

excited arms beat back the voices

telling us you were in the ruins

a part of the useless stampede

you rushed around in darkness finally

fleeing through an open door

but who pays for all this sorrow?

Who pays for wasted night?


Your coat's in water

your talk is torn

your eyes are leaving

your want is witness

your anger shows

your heart now empty

your head is too,

your distance shrinking

a call for wanting

the wind now screaming

a relentless payment

blow by blow

talking talk

amid rising damage

and broken hands


from this morning mountain rising

this silent air down here

I hurry to part the tilted light

it sideways swiftly points to the water

urging, striding those voice's ghosts

draw this boat upon the rocks

and hasten now from the railing

running from these teachers clutching

envelopes of empty promise

leaving nothing to our sons and daughters

leaving nothing but disgrace

leaving now drenched and incognito

spilling sorrow all these open years

the point is all this leaving

the point is all this rage

turn the bow into the wind

now truest sailing can begin

now the harder distance is to be travelled.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011



nearer to our breathing
a memory of love
the bitter dead stand by
beautiful once
now remorse songs trickle from the
eye of the night
the mockery and horror of destiny its
madness falls from your hands
who are you to sing of love's mystery?
the time will come when the trick's at an end
your tears are afflicted
with a world that's shaking
your sweetness endures and
leaves me in ashes
smoking and sputtering
till morning brings me home.


O hell is melting
as if it was stone
the brain of your
heaven is white as a bone
raw in head
your prayer is answered
your windows are open
and your firstborn's undone
was it the night
that first misled you?
was it the stranger who
laughed on the phone?
or was it your eye
that the kind word
that said that it loved you?
that prayer that you gave us
now lies in the womb.


the rage of the heart, a spirit of mercy
breaking the anguish,
expires in grief
you who are blackened with the waters of service
you come in flames and leave in time
imagination no longer serves to explain you
a hand outstretched to grasp at the sun
with me or not I slip through your fingers
and fly out the window to eyes of god

Monday, May 16, 2011

These Fortunate Suns Made larger But Less Whole


the young are rising
talking in the open air
they suspend the hours waltzing
to the time of the sun
weaving curves of laughing
with silent hands waving
in seas of human hair
lightly skipping into amber
lifting mornings like fading dancers
freely, freely changing mirrors
but only barely touching glimpses
of coming twilight


Changing darkness receding hands
virgins droop from false grey shadows
fluttering under dull grey veils
give me your nighttime arches
deliver me from your weary bells
make your pattern my simple time
turn me onward toward the morning
leave me and I will steal
all your hours your arms now hold
and replace them with
my twisted fingers


I watched their father's factories fall
scattering their light
into the mouth of the sky
the drifting spotter's flares now making
momentary noonday over
their fields of ordinary unhappiness
Victory is declared at once
then doubled in fancy
their confessor becomes exhausted
and leaves their sins alone
to echo in his hollow booth
tottering from the weight of all their fear
while the lame and blind dance
in the shadow boats
making for some imaginary horizon.


We, the fixed-eyed people
on their highest horses
fall aside flying skyward
and fade
in the distance
after all that, we find ourselves really afoot
walking through a middle-world of
harsher signs and secrets
end you
world without end

Saturday, May 14, 2011

There are Days, Broken Days*


Daedalus dreams of serpents
beneath a space without end
while he flies, kite-like, above and
the windows of his prison reflect an empty ocean
His father's foe
spreads the flags of freedom
and sends the devil into the open world
to turn the air to fire

Daedalus dreams of countries
where the hills rise in answer to the day
where uncertainty sleeps in the season of leaves
where tongues cry out to the spirit of the heart.


A monkey riding a horse
in the broken rain
brandishing a hat given
in luck to the wind
plastered with eyes and armor
watery in the airy drizzle
waiting for a sign

We take up sticks
and stand shirtless and proud
on the edge of the road home
hoping for a sight of the moon
while a dwarf with a torch
lights our way, leaping
into the night.


I stoop to pick up these broken prisms
the ones that shed their dancing light
into the righteous street
galloping out of the day
becoming nightly color
a soft green that hands me over
in honor to the noise
and cracking fingers of impatience.
Quickly, to quickly the private rod
becomes the beaten foot
I raise the window
to let in the stars.


Who'll turn the world
when we stand, headless,
in clouded hesitation?
Will it still twirl
while we are falling through
slatey space to
the drum beat of time?
How will we see
the changing of the light
when our eyes no longer go on dreaming?
Now, our motion is connection,
our earthly dance a waltz
in time to tables turning
in the poetry of boredom
a minuet of hats kicked into eternity.
Who'll wear the graceless age
when we are gone forever?
We will seize our stains
from the bent directors of meaning
when we walk along the edges
of these ever-steeper paths
nodding off to the music of history.

*June Tabor "Sudden Waves"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When Quinn the Eskimo Gets Here, Everybody's Gonna Jump For Joy


This is the applied eye
this is the mouthful of receipt
filled with whisper and promise
loudly, loudly laughing love
murmuring lips
this is the horse of laughter
ride toward the voice of deeds
morning pulled through keyholes
and ridden into the eye
of another thick and watery day


So Shakespeare is a mirror
yellow eye and hidden beard
Like Napoleon, who died then reappeared
in a hall of wasted laughter
a reflection vacant
a nature skinless and paralyzed and
intent on asking
"who tells a joke
now that the loudest laugh is gone?"


Every day is a day
Every day is a day
that the days run out
like streamers twisting back in the wind
making immense history
making fake widows in Japanese costumes
with cuffs and umbrellas
to watch the fragments flow
to watch time being made

My Ship Is Coming In*


Your expenses are extravagant
how is it you afford the night?
you mock the heart a thousand times
dancing with voluptuous vampires
on the edge of a silver tear

Like some beautiful princess
you visit the regions of heaven
and leap for love,
leaving the universe
with only a perfect, painted smile

Hell is a place inhabited
by gloved clowns, practicing terrific religions
where mortuary nuns speak in fiery tongues
and loud foolish fashion comes dressed as modesty
there, you turn pleasure into silence
and disappear into the purple evening.
for AK


I was
a butcher boy who ceased
to be until
the kiss where
life revealed its true cost
When all this time I thought it free
was I wrong in dreaming?
Again I take all my fakes to you,
those costume diamonds
and amiable machines
and life-size apostle-prostitutes
and return them
to the world

Suddenly old I realized
that all along I belonged
to pleasure, I belonged
to the world

* For John Walker 1943-2011