Twelve months, twelve hours
twelve signs of the Zodiac
twelve tribes of Israel
twelve apostles and twelve jurors
twelve steps, twelve notes, twelfth night
twelve knights around a table
twelve days of Christmas
Twelve astronauts who walked on the moon
and twelve petals in the heart chakra.
I will always be twelve
a one facing two
the tip of an inverted triangle
hanging from the two ends of my base
a lineage of desire.
Puberty put an end to my suspended animation
pried me from that equilateral embrace
embedded me in other geometries
of wilder shapes and intangible points of contact.
I triangulated my way
seeking the softness of curves
but could not escape the lure of triangles
in the hourglass shapes of my loves
in their lush pubic thickets in which I got lost
in the tangle of love triangles
and their inevitable trinity
of beginnings, middles, and heartbreak endings.
Even the dual bliss of matrimonial convergence
proved the paradox that 1+1=3.
I yearned to rewind the clock
to circle back to that magical beginning
which was also an end
to childhood, to innocence
to the time when one and two
were once just one.
When my bungee cord
was severed without asking
plunging me head first
into this prefabricated world ––
A loose strand
made of another cloth
to be woven time and again
against his grain
into tightly stitched fabrics
made to seem homo-genous,
they eagerly braided me into their weave
ignoring my proclivity to snag
and hang by a thread
doggedly resisting mending.
These days a long line of untethered bonds
trails behind me ––
a fugitive from conforming
an escapee from playing along
opting for a one-part fuga
a solo flight
from the clutches of harmony
the tyranny of woven voices.
as I finger my 88-bead rosary
I bless the newborn day with a prayer ––
praying a Bach fugue.
Two hands, eight fingers, two thumbs
in search of co-existence
freedom within constraints
a wild harmony of paradoxes
wherein horizontal threads and vertical lines
may run parallel, if they so desire,
without conflict or the need to explain ––
a tapestry woven by a master weaver.
a map charted by a rigorous mind
that transmutes the sparse geometry of line
into lush fields of emotion
Lost in a crowd
to an island universe
the cold and empty void
beckons to me.
I build up my escape velocity
from the grip of centrifugal forces.
Wherefore and whither
I don’t know
I am a thought not yet born
a work in progress
Fugue comes from Fugere,
Latin for flee or fly away.
From what does a fugue flee?
One cannot say, except that
no cajoling would make it stay.
My first tentative steps as a fugue
are a solo, if you can call it that,
more like a warm-up before the lights come on.
I am all alone out there
building up momentum
when I suddenly hear someone mocking me
doing a bad imitation
and without waiting for me to stop,
I pick up speed hoping to outrun the bastard
but soon realize he is not alone.
They crowd in on me, one by one,
quite friendly mind you,
keeping an ear out to avoid a pileup.
I try to shake them, modulating wildly
between keys and time signatures
but it becomes clear that I can’t outrun them
so I relax, what else can I do?
and try to fit in.
I play a little less, listen a bit more.
They are quite something these interlopers
some stretched out or compressed
like fun house mirrors
others standing on their head
or walking backwards spoofing me
each marching to its own beat.
I listen in amazement:
Are we some kind of utopian commune?
No one seems to lead, yet
no one forfeits its identity.
Any moment now I fear
the impending disintegration
the descent into cacophony or, worse,
a calamitous train wreck…
It doesn’t happen.
As if by a slight of ear
we create harmony
a musical landscape of tolerance –
the simple courtesy of knowing
when to sing and when to listen,
when to wait and when to charge ahead
when to take the lead and when to follow.
Ah, what I‘d give
to be living in a fugue.
Ode to my Nose
Oh, nose of noses
my sniffly snout
my beaky protuberant
proud and exuberant
erect like a tower of Lebanon
the upper of two peckers
the amour of Linda’s lip.
I’ve followed thee sniffing
through bush and roses
unable to see past thy tip
unless my eyes were crossed
blindly getting lost
like a Hebrew trailing Moses.
When I was young I wished for another
less Jewish, less out of joint, less like a hose
I snubbed you, I know, to my everlasting shame,
turned you up at not being aquiline
at being too much like Cyrano’s shnoze.
Once I even imagined, as in Gogol’s tale
waking one morning to find you gone.
It was a nose job I did on myself
looking down you to spite my face
and all the while missing the point
of how well you fit, how full of grace
you were, how fine ––
the only nose that’d ever be mine.
Each time I miss the boat
I find something left behind,
an unexpected gift, lying on the quay
and when life seems to pass me by
I try to remind myself it was really me
moving in the opposite direction.
I know such Hallmark profundities
only change the story
not the facts ––
but the facts, what are they exactly?
What is there beside stories?
It was always thus
me stranded on a beach
a shore bird of different feather
pecking in the shallows
the rainbows out of reach
I once dreamt I was a song bird
a coloratura with wings
flying higher than a high C
That too was a story, I know,
but it sustains me still as I go on
feeding on dreams
and on the grubs and crustaceans
by the sea.
If ignorance be bliss
where would one ever find misery on earth?
I think this as I dig into
my breakfast stack of incongruities.
The vaccine for ignorance, so I’ve been told,
I should know ––
I was inoculated
for twelve years of misery and five.
And here is what I have found out:
Knowledge is like recycled air
inhaled and exhaled from lung to lung
It can neither be trapped nor shaped
unless bottled up
but keeping it to yourself
will turn it toxic
and blow it up in your face.
Trace elements you may absorb
they may even become you, for a while
but in the end they must return
to the vast vacuum of ignorance whence they came,
for, like escaped air, lost knowledge
leaves no trace behind.
I knew you before I knew you
as the morning glory knows the dawn
approaching in the gloom of night
I knew you before I knew how
to know without thinking or reason
how to see without the gift of sight
This kind of knowing, so easy to miss,
is what precedes every discovery
an answer to a question yet to be asked
a sudden flash of insight not subject to thought
I too might have missed you that day
but for a glimpse of peripheral vision
(what other vision is there in the dark?)
a re-cognition, a déjà vu never before seen,
that made me turn on my heel and see
what I didn’t know I sought ––
standing by the door
smiling an invitation
to cross a threshold and join
your expedition of discovery.
You are my tera cognita now
and I your cartographer
every mound, every crevice of your terrain
I have explored, triangulated, and mapped
and still I get lost in you
and have to discover you anew each day
kissing you for the first time
getting to know you again and again
like the sand losing itself as if for
the first time in each new wave
and yet, as we continue
to echolocate through life
we must in the end concur
that neither you nor I nor we
could ever truly know
who the hell we are or were.
Street People of Santa Barbara
Street People of Santa Barbara
Alive or Dead
Alive or Dead
On a Need-to-not-know Basis
On a Need-to-not-know Basis*
*Music form my CD "101 Sound-bite Symphonies" No. 25
Our father in heaven
A single dad
Raising an only son
Skipping out on
Child support --
An absent father
On the kid
A sensitive type
For a mother
“Eli eli lama sabachthani?”
(Father, why hast thou forsaken me?)
*Music: "Trinity" (Three Blind Mice) from my CD "101 Sound-bite Symphonies" No. 3
(From the diary of an 8-year-old)