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Etching | "Sixty-Five Ideas for Realists"

Poems that relate to my work.


Hey now! Thunderheads are gathering again
And we are ready for you this time
You of the torrential rain spitting on everything in sight
You think that we the little white flowers
We of the delicate stems will be broken
Relax Bigfoot; we love to drown in your voice
Your ozone and your thunder
We think you are sexy and we wild things welcome you
And we will miss you after you're gone
Drenched and bowed we thrill to your barbarism
Indian Paint Brush, Sot Weed and cigarette butt
We the yellow things, the white, the pinkie pinkie things
Stapled, stoppled, tipping wetly, one and then many
Dipping in beautiful abandon, in fluent fecundity
Alive, wet through, washed shrugging and expanding
We will laugh with you and then grow another inch
And we will carry you forward in time
Hey now! We are strong in our insistence
We the little anarchists, we the revolutionary fairies
So apparently exquisite
Come again big foot and trample us




A man bent over his flowers
The bomb shelter was now a potting shed

He knew where the wasps were building their nest
He remembered his wife before she died vacuuming the lawn
He remembered the train journey and the soot lodged in his eye
And that his mother had soft white handkerchiefs
He remembered looking for pins for a woman in blue
And how rough the wine was in the French bar
And the Coal man who was related to the prefecture
And the small snake who swam beside him in Spain
And the melon rinds thrown high against the azure sky
He dug his fingers into the soil and he felt thirsty


The Dutch lunch ended with a toast all round
The doors led to paths that eventually reached the road
He remembered how the principal speaker had cleaned his glasses
Behind his back two cars collided with a bang
He watched a sea gull floating and sailing
Birds of all kinds crisscrossed as fast as bullets
On the granite wall beside him was a little pile of crumbs
He thought of a fat Buddha and a thin Christ
He wanted again to visit the small bathroom in Brussels
He felt he was spending too much time alone
He remembered the leper’s well and the maze
He decided to walk faster than usual
The evening gathered energy
Sounds were shrill and penetrating
And he felt fear here on the edge of the land
He heard a fusillade of gunfire
He felt stifled by the things around him
The barn with its sloping wall
The square holly bush and the high-roofed summer house
He felt he had no voice in this landscape and no claim
The old stones piled one on another
The spaceships circling the Earth
The trucks in long lines driven by women
He took off his clothes and swam naked out to sea
The land bent away from him
The light streamed from the shore and passing over his head
The stars revolved, vast and dizzyingly
And at last he was not afraid any more


A lonely man sits and wonders what is left
The houses are empty and the attics are full of romances
He stumbles over his past half ashamed of his brutality
He believes it is wrong to be no longer needed
Yesterday he saw a fir tree hung with plastic balls
He remembered the orange trees in Granada
And the gypsy who had cursed him
The bronze horse that grazed by the road
The yellow snake crouched in its box
He knew he ought to hang his clothes out to dry
He wanted to forget Camden Town and the milk bottles
The dirty sod of a canal and its ripeness
The tide always seemed to be flowing in
As the land peeled away layer by layer
His handkerchiefs were old and he missed his mother
He decided to do the same thing as usual and not risk it today



No introductions, only a bald list noting names and pages
Who did the drawing inside the front cover?
Why did the first story start so fast?
Like a bat's sonar pinging around the page
Why was the second story like a bonfire out of control?
The sparks flying far afield?
Who would want to write or publish such stories?
And then the third: Two pages long, exquisite, a nocturne
But what is it about?
Begging? Yes, heavy white flowers? Yes, Idaho? No,
The smell of peanut oil and the sounds of Italy? yes, yes
But is this fiction?
The bindings and paper are beautiful
Ah the fourth story flushes into the brain
Currents, leprechauns, and long lines of flaring fires
Warning of impending invasion
And the fifth is as still as an empty room
Like a shopping list, or like an accountant's fingernails it lengthens
Turgid with expectations
This last story makes perfect sense
Muscular, cheap, precarious, ham-fisted, shovel-toed,
Liquid, frantic and perfect



The train always leaves the station on time
Into small blank spaces regularly counted
It does not matter that its pipes are leaking
Or that the world has shifted a fraction in its orbit
Or the sorry spectacle of the rich is in full retreat
In the passing town the public sculpture burns
The great steamships are wounded
Showing their ribs like bleached eucalyptus trees
Like whale bones on the edge of the tundra
One day a mouse built her nest in the moth-balled war plane
The fluids long since drained and now mere traces
The cracked canopy like a second sky above her body
The train will run on time through Crystal Palace
And speed past the bronze casts of Nubian slaves
The long lines of daffodils and bobbing lilies
As the train spews out seeds of wild flowers
And caresses the countryside with hot embers
The fields shrug their bare breasts and the cottage
Where naked Blake and his wife sip their tea



in the old days men munched as they walked to church
shelling pumpkin seeds between their front teeth
the hollow logs they passed lay in dank water
while in the hay lofts the lovers looked down on them
as the old men crossed their hands in pretended contrition
and dreamt of gardens full of wild flowers, honeybees
and bread and butter for ever and ever, Amen.
the old men glanced at the young women
then turn their heads and die a little
the older women squatting hear the dry sounds
of grasses fluttering as the ferrets run down the furrows
the pale blue sky blends into the Universe
In the old days men used to stand in line
long shivering lines that lingered in their souls
In those days all clothes were blacker than black
all that was left to them was bitter hope
in those days you got a priest when you died
the men built naves, apses and arches
And all around the stained glass windows glowed
reflecting the candles as their wax fell in clotted heaps
the smell intoxicating, vibrant, and dangerous
while outside the women gathered rushes
along the river bank to make baskets
to hold flowers, butter and bread, Amen


in the hall were the devils mask,
broken shears, empty bottles, dead flowers
casks with wine and flies
God's blood! they used to say
God's blood! their lips curling at the edges
whip the horses and smoke tobacco
fall in among men while you can
curtains remain drawn
two eyes through the lace
swelling breasts, the tightness
her fingers pause in their rhythm
she is delighted with her hair
oranges in Valencia and the sun
cadmium coat of the sentry
the blue of his stockings
on the small conical hill
smoke and more smoke
warnings from the North
anvil, horse and dog
the sentry nearly asleep
dreams about a spider building her web
her babies huddle together for warmth beside
a bent nail that forms a fulcrum for her web
an iron bridge spans the water
the moon sails away as dawn breaks
the sun bathes the bridge in light
Spring comes late this year
while other seasons wait their turn
a fly is caught in her web
and the old horse blinks three times



As the man threw the brick at the rabbit
His foot crushed a worm and a dam burst in Australia
A fly flew into a millionaire's mouth
A cat fell onto a passing train
A bull broke its horn in a cork tree
A prize dog bit the judge's ankle
Two trout rose for the same fly
A spent bullet fell unnoticed into an Englishman's birdbath
A woman discovered chewing gum in her fried rice

And on the Sistine Chapel ceiling a nun saw God's finger move



birds gather on a tree and chatter
below the water of the pond lies still
it will soon be dark and ice will form
a rush forms a 'V' with its shadow
A dragonfly clings in death to its tip
The moon reflected drifts imperceptibly towards a mat of leaves
Two friends silhouetted in a lighted window argue
A car honks and a leaf drifts down from a high branch
A fish slaps the water like a fist
The smell is faint and brackish
The lighted window goes abruptly dark
The night becomes a mythical thing


into this place where I escape for a while
my bones are lined with letters
that place of my heart poems
the ground and sky are there
and the coyote
sun below the horizon
an airliner leaves its vapor trail
encompassing both our bones and the coyote
this place seems sacred and as Mount Diablo fades
evening fog envelopes Sally and me
a mouse licks moisture from the tall grasses
little tongue and so fragile
I remember the great owl staring
neither of us afraid
walk and shuffle adventure on
we are all awaiting death—what can I say?

Etching: Artist with Monkey Maskth


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