Archive for August, 2008

Astor Place (Cooper Union)

August 31, 2008

Oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″


The Consolation of Modern Art

August 28, 2008

My daughters trash this den with magazines
declaiming “Brad Holds Twins to Naked Chest!”
on covers wracked with boobs and candid scenes
of “Jessica Before and After,” breasts
as billowy without the extra weight
as with. In Hollywood, a “Pleasure Dome”
doth “Puffy” Combs decree, and on page 8:
“A Magic Moments Feature: Twins Go Home!”
I reach for Richardson’s biography,
Picasso: The Triumphant Years, beneath
a well-thumbed April Star® Mammography,
and flip through cubist nudes and airbrushed teeth
contorting on a private beach at Cannes
with “Tearful Pleas to Bail-Out Ed McMahon!”

Dead Catfish

August 16, 2008

Persistent crone. Your medieval grin,
(evoking Brueghel) settled in the stone
and switch grass sometime in the summer light
and stayed. The wind refused to throw you back.
The storm last week could not produce the waves
to reach you where you rotted in the shade

and petrified. I recognize this shade
of gray as semi-permanent, your grin,
the rictus in a fevered dream that waves
and floats, as something of a childhood touchstone:
Once a bird, your image filters back
a catfish. Sick hallucinations light

those dreams in much the way that sunlight
draws your shadow where I step. A nightshade
in the day, you cultivate a switchback
atmosphere, a counter-Lohengrin
where hero is enchanter. Where the stone-
cracked stage shall have no magic swan or waves

of celebrants or swords, but tidal waves
of stagnant air; a concrete satellite
in static orbit fixed upon a stone;
a brittle plinth and monument to schaden-
freud. A luckless path. But here’s that grin
and mockery of Cheshire Cat! A back-

and-forth along the frissoned razorback
of clowning time, you have the nerve to wave
me down and hold me here, to press your grin
into the mirror of the lakeblue light.
My eyes and yours, behind their carbon shade
of hardened death, are locked like mason’s stone

as viral memory corrodes to breakstone
beach. The progress of your broken back
is mimicked in the cloudline where the shade
of crawling afternoon traverses waves
now audible and focuses the light
remaining on your curtain call. You grin

your bottom-feeder grin of stone, inert
and elegant, enlightened, coming back
to life in waves of shade across the dirt.


August 13, 2008

No two days of ending August are the same.
The morning clouds prevaricate. How long before
one hears the stone and snap of amber Autumn’s flame?

An image moves across the lake or takes the name
I wove in vines and carved into the cabin door
in bygone days of ending August. Are these same

entanglements to whisper daily over tame
and heavy surfaces? To coil into some roar
I’ll hear? The stone and snap of amber Autumn’s flame

in watercolor runs to gray and fills the frame
with basic forms–the sky and bluff, the lake, the shore—
yet no two days of ending August are the same.

At summer’s end I start to open trunks that came
in late July and took up shadows on the floor.
I hear the stone and snap of amber Autumn’s flame

and close the lids. The wine and hour wash my claim
on any item, weather is a metaphor,
and no two days in ending August are the same.
One hears the stone and snap of amber Autumn’s flame.

Girls on Vacation

August 12, 2008

Acrylic on canvas, 8″ x 10″
–My daughter Maggie (left) and her friend, Alex.

The Theme from Shaft

August 11, 2008

I.M. Isaac Hayes

I. Geometry

We dig the architecture of a hit:
The hi-hat takes us in, all loose and tight
with wah-wahlate guitar laid over it.
The lyric pipes are flying high and light.

Then taped-together charts for high school horns
lay out a little longer than they should.
The rhythm section tenses like it’s torn
between the dialectics. And that’s good.

But nothing comes to nothing ’til the string
ensemble disrespects the starting gun
and cuts its lines up over everything.
You kick the snare kit twice and then you run–

and shut your mouth: Ba-a-ad Mother F*** er’s comin’.
And no one understands him like his woman.

II. Social Studies

Some things are just too perfect, baby
Like the sky crane sweep
Of urban exoskeleton

Real time
To the hi-hat tap and tambourine

That’s right
Like a section of the uptown wind
All private dick and leggy extras
Shaft! …Right on

A complicated bedroom scene
With Foxy Hi-Tone
And an emerald fist of pistols

Call it Blaxploitation
If you will
And you can call it wuchyu want
See, I’m just talking
‘bout the man.

III. History

In a stone astonished week of revelation,
on a road no longer strictly Roman Catholic,
I heard it’s tin-can-true sophistication.

Through the caves of adolescent masturbation
where my Playboy daydreams blew most graphic
and astonishing there came a revelation,

and my worldview went on permanent vacation.
In my father’s Fairlane, driving to Passaic,
I heard it’s tin-can-true sophistication

on the backseat vinyl. Cracked communication
of the baldest, blackest spoken lyric—
tonic weakness jacked to revelation—

left my Grand Funk Railroad at the station.
High school horns, once loathsome, came on mythic
in their state of tin-can-true sophistication.

And the AM kept this Isaac in rotation
long enough to tribe me to The Classic
in the stone astonished week or revelation
when I heard the tin can true sophistication.

Motorboat Blondes

August 11, 2008

My kayak rocks in the motoring wake of blondes
that ski the mountain weather in cross-bluff
streaks on the disappearing eastern branch
of Crooked Lake. Their pilots, aging boys
with mustaches (and flagrant with their beers)
lean fast against the wheel as speedboats bank

and break the heaving water on a bank
of mirrored pines. I hear their engines, blondes,
and bows ramp into open straights, the beers
held high and tight as mist obscures the bluff
and wipes this lakeland chromosome of boys
to shapeless cloudy streams. They pour the branch

from Penn Yan into Hammondsport, the branch
from mystic Branchport’s hidden clapboard bank
into the very hump-backed waves the drunken boys
have cast across my hull. Behind these, blondes
are falling down and playing blind man’s bluff
amidst a caving churn in frothy beers

of surface water, lolling in the biers
of sinking afternoon and shades of branch
and blade. The common Main Street shuck and bluff
of Skaneateles, the “Board” and “Bank,”
mean nothing in this greening bed of blondes,
this screaming with the gulls on soaking buoys.

The sirens in the wake of rescuing boys,
reacting with the gasoline and beers,
are overweight. The rouges and the blondes
of local vineyards course their lake-wet branch
of breasts and glide like tongues the bank
of thighs. They’ve cigarettes on their breath. The bluff

will bed them, hold them in its underbluff
of sediment as motors cut and boys
pull back, as rain sets in and night clouds bank.
I paddle past The Switzerland, where beers
are tapped at wooden bars and cloud cuts branch
at kayak’s prow. I hear the call of blondes

and lose the shore, the laughing blondes a bluff
and echo where the steely Branchport boys
down beers and drag their towlines to the bank.

On Keuka Lake, August 5, 2008