False idylls

Ah, we say, what a life!
and yet …

We are the heirs of discontent
we carry all colors among us
to their inevitable conclusion

Our eyes are rising swiftly
under an aging sun

What nourished our forebears
we find merely annoying
All those Bible Prophets mute
as sacks of sand

To build dikes against
a flood which never comes
and yet …

here we stand
precisely in their footpads

Sky and water

Water and sky indecisive,
light flitting around corners,
thunder mumbling curses,
a low energy kind of day

I recall a day exactly
like this, so long ago,
when we walked between the drops
to the 10th Street Pool Hall

to lay our fortunes down
on the Steepleton tables,
greener than any pasture,
leather pockets yawning.

Entire lives were spent
and measured in racks of nine;
I still hear the clack
between the thunder claps.

In the end, we walked out the door
pockets empty, hearts full,
into the long shadows
of the waiting sullen universe.

That time I thought of poetry

1965, nickel bag, down from Chicago,
Alert, ready to flush at a moment’s notice,
When the truth was, we could have smoked it
In the front pew of the Church of Jesus Christ
The Bleeding Savior, for all anyone knew of it
Back then, back when everything dark was nameless.

And I was rambling aimlessly,
Words following words, broad and blunt,
The way a sailor rips his lines, the way
A soldier blindly fires.
And someone said,

“What’s he ranting about?”
And Hugh, my immortal vanished Hugh, said
“Dylan Thomas came down
And wrote a poem in his head.”

And, by God, he had.

In winter days toward twilight

In winter days toward twilight
Supper looming and the long call
Of parental care avoided
Like spoonfuls of castor oil

We’d set off on grand adventures
Down the alleyways
Championed by dogs, evaded by cats,
Amid the fine scent of burning garbage

Hunting urban treasures:
Radio parts, discarded syringes,
A cache of vacuum tubes,
Ground glass whiskey tops,

And once, an entire television
Bereft of its fine cabinet,
Emptied of all diversion,
And cast forlornly, contemptuously, aside.