TSM 172

Baudelaire slowly chews
another handful of coffee beans –

Flâneur-in-chief of all Paris,
dandied dregs of the Seine,

he wrote: it wasn't the caffeine
(of course it was always the caffeine)

but the grit, the grounds
the dirt in his mouth

that brought his tongue 
to press into earth

like the taproot 
of a dark flower.

He lines his cockatoo's cage
(all flâneurs keep cockatoos)

with pages from his books
he tore one by one

saying to the young Rimbaud
the bird sang a better song

out its ass 
than its beak,

that all poetry 
was merde

The Sunday Muse

TSM 170

More dead stuff now it's those crabs 
with eighteen eyeballs – skyballs on stalks, 
periscope glass-eyed Mary's, body parts 
litter the beach like cracked faces
looking back from the sand

I shake my claw at the sky, defiant old man
still skittering sideways through life and you 
let go my hand, slip into the tide a fish –
school away – sunlight echoing off your laughter,
your voice receding in sonar pings

Because I said it was time to leave this place,
return to the city, reverse migration 
of the gannets – streaming in flights 
back to their roosts in the tiny rock warrens 
of Manhattan

Searching for you from above the water, 
my wingtips brush the tops of the waves
hoping you feel my touch like cool sheets 
drawn back from your shoulders.
I dive, transform,

but you are not fooled 
by my clownfish act, my doll-fish face
a lethal disguise –
how I would pull you from the safety of the sea
and leave us both fighting for breath.

If I fail us, then return me here.
When at dawn the dogs come
to leap in the waves and devour 
the broken promises of crabs, 
do not deny their pleasure –

leave them to roll in my ashes.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 169

Your hips the road trip
rock skip hip-hop 
refrain of the sea 

40 years our wild ride, side
by miles sliding by the passing time
on wide open roads 

Until here the sand-path ends 
in beach plum kingdoms taste 
on your lips slipsliding needs

Speeding curves my mind has
the bends brain wave ocean staves
octaves higher and higher

Like rose hips winding trellises
tethered to the crux of  you, 
communion of the journey's

Madness that heat rises,
your wide-brimmed laughter 
at the speed of light 

When my whammy bar transmission
went in gale-force winds
we watch the crash the curl

listen now to the metal seas
how you
drive me to distraction

The Sunday Muse

TSM 168

You squinch your face as if I pulled your nose
like a knob opening the drawer of cities –

that sliding memory where you junked it all –
toy cabs honking, rubber-band commuters,

loose screws and nuts out on the avenues,
our noodle soup of take-out menus –

metropolis errata you'd whisked and slammed, 
then locked the door behind us.

Now walking along the harbor, the sea 
lies flat and grey, shorebirds motionless, 

even the sand quiet, the dog's scented crossword 
of seaweed and crabs, we hear the rain

moving towards us, the surface of the water 
starting to rattle like a box of cracker jacks

whistling through the air at Yankee stadium –
the bleachers, the barker, the crowds,

the crack of a bat, lightning,  memory,
buildings falling like a game of Jenga

from the back of the closet, apartments 
that slide out from under us, our plans 

tumbling down, the rain over the sea 
tumbling down, your forgiveness of me 

that we must go back now,
comes tumbling down

until again the bric-a-brac streets, again 
jumbled jars of hours and days, 

nickeled and dimed – can you hand me 
those pliers my love? The ones that pull teeth 

when the sirens wake us anon
at 3AM?

The Sunday Muse

TSM 166

All along it was just a typo –
Shakespeare wrote "put your nose
to the whetstone," it was really wet stone –
fluidity and hardness as one –
water & earth keen 
(their pals air & fire high in the cheap seats) –
which explains this morning cutting my foot 
on a razor clam, the waves stropping
mother calcium until honed and shaving the beach
of its seaweed beard

Chorus of Stone:
	Schist, Breccia, Shale

Chorus of Water:
	Sliptide, necessary words
	snake like rivers past your tongue

How pushing my nose
ever harder into the future
never sharpened my focus but the world
giving way like a parting flood –
each day standing on the high-dive platform
of the bathroom shower, looking down
into an empty pool –
shocked by cold spray breaking,
a rain of hard water
from spigots cranked to no surrender

Chorus of Stone:
	False eyes are made
	from glass and agate
Chorus of Water:
	Return to the sea 
	as a walking fish 
Always awake to the grind,
the drip that percolates and filters
earth-coffee-tygers-eye brown
through eons of dream limestone,
washing away the strata 
until nothing left but fossils,
residue, and silt –
yet another to-go cup, to-go, to
going-going-gone high-kick Rockette fuel –
the world balanced on the edge of our noses 

Chorus of Stone:
	Hammer, pick, dynamite 

Chorus of Water:
	Bloodstream, velocity, knife

The Sunday Muse

TSM 165

Even Charon on the grift –
pennies in the eyes to die
were fool's gold –
no more scrimping off deadbeats,
no hustling poor-mouth shades
in their scarecrow burial suits:

The Lethe now full Disney,
theme park’d thrills and chills –
the Daredevil, the Hellfire, the Screamer –
"Look ma! No hands!"
Folks can't get enough.
Grab a BeelzeBurgerTM with cheese.

One more time, pretty please?
Lucifer's Crash Cars, the Dirt Nap Fun House –
"Step right up!" – midway shooting galleries
with rapid-fire, drop clip nightclubs –
and over here: nine-layer Inferno Sundaes,
sno-cones cold and blue as lips.

When night falls, take the River Ride.
Premium death wishes
and first class cabins on the boat,
or just fly over private jet –
enjoy casket-strength bourbon
chilled with whisky bones.

Oh Miyata, Miyata my love,
you can't take it with you, no.
I've called for your car,
and filled your marble suite with roses.
Your chauffeur holds his cap out
for a tip.

I'm so sorry, your purse is empty –
the white one you never used
from the bottom dresser drawer.
The driver will take a kiss in lieu –
Your mouth, a burnt offering.
Your eyes, payment in ash.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 164

Throwing a clay 
is how you stick your
in the world's muddy

Yeah, smash it down
grind it in and let the earth
you're a weird little angry

There you go, that feels
now right? Scrap it all and start
just like poems, better luck next

So here goes: I pound it
and scrape in a gyre of
with my unclipped finger

welcome now please the
to drop its beak down a record
and caw, claw us all back
to kingdom come

The Sunday Muse

TSM 163

Trio for Cello

(Musician Conspicuously Absent)

The Bow

I am high-strung of horsehair,
racehorse-quivering, all nerves in the gate, 
this quarter-horse no quarter nor quarter note
but eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, 
galloping sixty-fourths furlong over furlong
into a split finish –
curry me with favor or I will buck and whinny 
across your course of notes

The Strings

Yes, yes, I hear you say catgut is passé,
yet you want purr and yowl,
and when plucked hear a lion provoked –
then lay your finger lightly on my neck,
grimalkin vibrato or black cat magic
might be yours, become a familiar –
would you trade your soul
for this taut beauty? 

The Cello

My ribs were bent in heat
on hard forms, my chest carved
spruce as if the jackknife of lovers
on my bark were not enough, love's idea
chiseled by steel deeper and rounder until
you say this shape will carry song, 
this will make a moan for two
lying under the branches

The Sunday Muse