I Want to Open the Western Gate

I want to open
The western gate.

I want to open
The setting sun
And pass through to the night.

I want to seize heaven
And shake down the fiery stars.

I want to seize the stars
And with my lips, with my kisses
Brand constellations on your thighs.

And then begin my weeping.

Because, my Love,
You refuse my love.

You refuse my love
And I have less chance with you
Than I have of passing through the setting sun
To reach the beckoning stars.

I want to
(I will never)

I want to open
(I will never open)

The western gate.

This poem is a rewrite of an earlier poem. 


The Wait


You were young,
So young when it happened,

So young that I remember
You still needed to believe
Good always comes to good people
And evil never comes to good people,

And evil never comes.
To good people.

And so you blamed yourself,
You blamed yourself.
My niece, you blamed yourself
Though you were without fault
And blameless.

My niece,
How many souls would a person need
If she needed one for each soul
Stolen from her or lost
Along the way?

How many souls would she need
If she needed one for each soul
Ripped from her or stolen
Even before she has known love?

And what sum of souls
Is tallied by the years
She spends pressed against a wall,
Shot through by nightmares,
Shot through,
Shot down?

And what sum of souls
Is tallied by the years
She spends out in the cold,
Trembling in hope of love,
Shaking in fear of love?
What sum of souls?


So you are now come to these mountains,
To a high place in the wind,
Ostensibly to visit me,
Ostensibly to spend time with your uncle,
But in reality,
In reality to thirst among the dry stones,
Thirst for the soul you have not yet known.

At night I hear you in your room
Praying to your heart,
In your sleep, your trembling lips
Are praying to your heart.

Your faithful heart that has held
Itself receptive and open
Over the decades now, the decades now,
Your faithful heart that has done the impossible
And held itself receptive and open.

To your faithful heart your lips pray:
“If only you will wait long enough
If only you will wait long enough

If only you can wait long enough
If only you can wait long enough

Out in the cold.”


And now in the valley far below comes this way walking
a figure
Wearing a wreath of tender leaves,
Singing songs of healing,
Singing songs.
And now in the valley far below comes this way walking
a figure
With one foot stepping on the earth
And one foot stepping in beauty,
Singing songs.
Singing songs.


The slope is steep, the rocks are sharp,
The path is long, the night approaches
And he might yet turn away,

If only you will wait long enough.
If only you will wait long enough.
If only you can wait long enough.
If only you can wait long enough.
Out in the cold.


“Bad Poem! Bad Poem!”

Writing a poem
Is like training a dog.

The poem loves you.
It loves you and it is loyal to you.
It is loyal to you and it wants to obey you – but
But sometimes…

Sometimes it looks at you, cocks its head,
And just does not understand what you
Are telling it to do.

You want it to bark and growl and bite – but
It thinks you want it to fetch,
So it drops your slippers
At the feet of the thief
Who broke into your house.

Or it looks at you, cocks its head,
And is on the edge,
On the very edge
Of understanding you,
Of getting you,
Of getting you at last — but
And it’s off racing in a direction
You never wanted it to go.

I love my poems, but I can get upset,
I can raise my voice.

“Bad poem! Bad poem!
No treat for you!”

Sometimes I yell it, really yell it.
“Bad poem! Bad poem!”

My neighbor is shocked.

She phones me, “You’re cruel! Cruel!
I’ll call the Society on you!”

I tell her, “The American Poet’s Society
Is not the American Humane Society.”

She doesn’t listen.

And neither does the Poet’s Society.
They send their inspector around.
“Sir, we’ve had a report.”

“A what?”

“A report, Sir.”

You still don’t think poems are like doggies?
You still doubt me?

Then explain to me how come,
How come it is always just about then
That my poem drops my very best slippers
Right at the inspector’s feet.


One Way for Poets to Get Good Material…

“I don’t get why people can’t just be nice to one another, it isn’t even that hard. Assholes give poets good material though.”  — Andreas Blaustein

I do not know Andreas Blaustein, but I happened to come across the above comment of his this morning, which he left on my friend Nayana’s blog.   I think his comment resonates with a whole lot of us, no?


When Coconuts Come Alive

It is curious how often we are coconuts.
How often we are seeds, just seeds.
Seeds drifting for decades in a desert
That holds nothing for us, except waves
And more waves, and storms, and waves.

We survive, but only
Because our shells are thick and hard.
Thick and hard.

The waves cannot drown us.
The storms cannot break us.
The sharks cannot eat us.
The sea snakes cannot poison us
Because we are thick and hard.

We are well-protected, it’s true.
But we are not alive either.
We are thick and hard
But we are not alive.

For to live is to grow,
And we do not grow.
For to live is to thrive,
And we do not thrive.
For to live is to flourish,
And we do not flourish.

This can go on for decades,
This suspension between life and death,
It can go on for decades.

Then we beach! Most of us never do.
Most of us drift without ever beaching,
Drift suspended — for ages.

Only a few of us find the sand;
Put out shoots that reach up
For the sunlight,
Put out shoots that reach down
For the freshwater.

It is curious, so curious
How when we broke our shells,
How when we cracked ourselves open
And became green
And became vulnerable.

How when we became so tender,
So open, so vulnerable that we bound,
Fated, destined and doomed ourselves
To get hurt, to get stung, to get bitten and poisoned

How that is when,
How that is precisely when
We came alive.

This poem is a rework of a poem I first published some time ago.


What Have You Been Studying?

What have you been studying recently?

What’s the most striking thing you have found out?

I take notes when reading up on something. I have done almost no reading up on anything new for the past six weeks, but — going back further than six weeks — the four most recent subjects I have read up on (according to my notebooks) are:

(1) The impact of French postmodernism on the West with especial reference to its consequences for erotic pole dancing.

(2) The concept of arete in ancient Greek culture, including Kitto’s analysis of arete’s role in the aesthetic maturation of ancient Greek pole dancing.

(3) Newberg’s five characteristics of enlightenment experiences as revealed via fMRI brain scans of erotic pole dancers.

(4) Kolmogorov’s contributions to probability theory and especially the application of his contributions both to random walks and to random pole dance maneuvers.

As you can see, I’m a scatter-brain with no known center of focus.


On Things that Begin with an Onion

One day a man began to wonder
If he should put an extra onion in his pocket.

The question nagged him until he became restless
So he threw on his jacket, then strode out his door —
Planning to walk up an answer.

But soon he came upon a woman so beautiful
The soles of his feet tingled to be in the same world as her,
And when she began to sing (la la la
La la la), yearning overtook him.

He was at such a loss what to say to her,
The words that fell from his mouth —
His own words —
Sounded to him like complete strangers.

“I like magenta too”, he told her suddenly,
Referring to the color of her spring dress.
“Especially when it glows in the moonlight
On those nights the cicada shake the air
Like a ship’s wake shakes the sea.”

His tongue stumbled, “But I…I mean….”

“Yes”, she said in a golden voice
That flowed with compassion and a deeper understanding,
“I see by your eyes you recognize my beauty,
But do you also see my scars?
And can you read in them my travels,
Can you read in them my stars?”

Then her tongue stumbled, “But I…I mean….”

A light breeze rose and danced away,
Six sparrows burst from a hedge
In a passionate snapping of wings.

The sun fell between gentle branches
To sway across the dappled lawn.

On the horizon, the mountains were
Thrown down from the sky,
Crumpled and piled up
Like faint blue linen rags.

Eyes now fated, met.
Eyes now met, smiled;
Eyes now smiling, bonded
As time cartwheeled by
Like an onion
Tossed and skipping down a hill.

This poem is a reworking and expansion on a poem posted several months ago.