Thursday, August 25, 2016

Early Morning

I hear the birds before the sun comes up
And sip vitality from a coffee-cup,

An easy, happy way to start the day:
My chores and duties still are hours away.

I try to occupy the mind. I see
(Thanks to our newest snoop, Technology)

That a friend of mine is prowling cyberspace,
But we won't chat -- it's not the time or place.

The coffee-maker coughs, and sparrows chatter,
While sluggish Thomas grows grayer and fatter.

But poets, ever young, cannot forsake
Their dreams.  Indeed, they dream themselves awake.


Opening Act

Surreal anthems from the fire escape.
He mends his mind with ribbons of Scotch tape.

He wrote "Apostasy" at age sixteen --
Flushed with the blood of Baudelaire's grape.

Brooding lad from Eastie, precocious tippler,
He wrapped himself in Superbard's cape.

Young and difficult under the triple-deckers,
He got himself into more than one scrape.

He learned the right words for all the wrong things
And sang mellifluously as any ape.

Nursed his wounds by the cramped bedroom's window.
A breeze from the back would startle the drape.

He carried The Map of Love wherever he went.
His dream (dark Beatrice!) took shape.

Saint of the city.  Columbus of the Blue Line.
Sage subway litany, blighted landscape.

He cracked sarcastic jokes.  More tame than Wilde.
He was the victim of his own crude jape.

Tommy's performance during the opening act
Left friends and enemies speechless, agape.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Home Alone

Missing Debba
and our palindromes
and our Rules
for Good Living.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Tribute

I shun purveyors of snark and cynicism
and choose to search instead for hidden graces,
for shoots of love and hope close to the ground,
imperilled by the fumes of politics
and other contaminations of earth and soul.
And life bestows this unexpected blessing:
a friend from Illinois, an able hand
at poems, painting, music (gosh, what else?),
consolatrix untouched by noise and "news."
How often I've said it: I've learned to expect
the reverent and patient excellence
of your unfrantic artistry, but still
each poem is an induplicable surprise!


No buses on the road
No crowds upon the street
Only a few walkers
Beneath a slender moon

No snow upon the ground
No bitter chill, no storm
April leaves unfold
As quiet as sunrise

No one in my bed
Sky goes from gray to blue
Over coffee on the porch
I give the world to God



My morning poem: coffee on the porch,
Counting the buses that come west from Medford
Along my street. Reading Isaiah's words
That parched lands will rejoice and bloom.

My poem speaks of trees that grasp the sky
With lazy green-haired tentacles, and clouds
That mitigate the splendor of the sun.
My poem: Silence. Close your eyes.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Poet's Progress

At fifteen, after reading
Heaney's elegy to Lowell,
I wanted to be the poet
who "drank America
like the heart's iron vodka."

At forty-seven, I sip the suburbs
like the soul's lukewarm coffee.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Silly When It's Chilly

When I see the first red leaf
(usually just before Labor Day)
light a small blaze in the maple
next to the bricks of St Lucy's,
I throw confetti off my porch
and let out a cry of "Shazam!"

The first time the weathergal
warns of frost in the suburbs
(often in late September), I
shout the lyrics of "Tubthumping"
and chase the front-lawn squirrels:
I get knocked down
but I get up again,
you'll never ever get me down.

When mid-October rolls
forty-five for a postnoon high,
when All Saints Day or Veterans'
brings flurries to Keene and Jaffrey,
when the first few flakes fall
here, mere miles from Boston,
somewhere around Thanksgiving
or the First Sunday in Advent --
then I get seriously goofy.

I guzzle Fish Eye cabernet
in the screwtop six-dollar bottle
and text my long-suffering ex:
"Debba-doo, my bellyboo!
It's CHILLY! I just saw a moonbat
in a mammoth crimson cardigan!
Let's eat fried dough and drink cider
and perpetrate shenanigans!
Let's go to Grendel's Den
and regale the waitresses with
our Freddie Mercury imitations!
Let's throw Nerf balls at pigeons
in Winthrop Park! Let's cuddle
outside the Unitarian church
as a busker plays "Stairway"!

Tersely, she'll text back:
Can't. Busy. Work.

But as Matthew Wilder sang
in the fall of '83 (hitting #5
on the Billboard Top 100)
ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride.
You'll find me in Harvard Square
trying cartwheels, farcically failing,
and belting out "Moondance"
at bewildered traffic cops.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

For W. H. Auden, Yet Again

Your collected works
are sanity's breviary,
each poem a psalm
of hope, resiliency, and cheer.

You feast with friends
and verse with valour;
you praise the music
of concert-hall and countryside:
Mozart, Scarlatti,
Kirchstetten's warbling birds.

You would grammar our tongues,
make brave our hearts;
you would health our souls back
to reverence and revelry,
to mercy and mirth.

You felt that poetry
makes nothing happen.
But you have gladdened me,
your courtesy and charity
untainted by what you called
"the squalid mess" of History.

Wystan Hugh Auden,
vital voice of verity,
antidote to glums and gloats,
doctor of decorum and delight,
grateful I am for your gratitudes.

Tutor our waywardness, sagest spirit;
gentle our jargon, noble our speech;
mind us to wisdom,
pray us to peace.


When morning's
gladsome light
begins to speak,
she shapes
your words,
your gentle voice.

When darkest sky
puts a careworn
to bed,
all sleepers dream
your dream of peace.

When the stars pray,
they borrow
your long
deep silences
in which they shine
and thrive.

When leaves
change and fall
and earth claims them,
your breath brings
the blush
of bright October.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Harvard Square

You gluten-free philosophers,
post-punk mathematicians,
riot-grrl scientists
and fair-trade historians,
with your organic tote-bags,
bi-curious Birkenstocks,
vegetarian poetry-slams,
existentialist gelato,
quinoa bike-helmets,
and free-range skateboards,
oh, how I love the lot of you!
from your arugula buzzcuts
down to the soles
of your espresso-soaked socks.