Long Island Sound

Wind thrums in the sail.
We’re on a reach, Long Island
Sound, I’m a young man

and beside myself.
Today the café is loud,
the spray in my face

just a memory.
Under it all, a flow, a
sustaining patience.

Our Black Maid

Yes we had a black
maid in the Fifties. Petite,
silent Geneva.

When we drove her home,
I could feel my Dad break up
inside: past the tracks,

the fetid canal.
We were American gnostics:
love of Christ, country,

and paranoia
towards the Other. She was
other, beautiful.

Coarse Notes

To be is to be
this or that and also not
nothing, possible

though that is. Self is
double. The tyrant to be
hates perplexity.

Thrasymachus says
“Stop tying me in knots” to
Socrates, whom he

so wanted to fuck.
Eros Tyrannos! Others
are hell and heaven.

New Jersey Transit

Going home I chose
to stand between cars with snow,
rain, hot afternoon

Jersey sun. Work stuff
shook off me into backyards,
wetlands. I became

a white-knuckled self
holding on to its open
cage. Finally, my

stop. I relaxed my
hand, my nothingness ready
for the long walk home.

My First Time

At the library
in the cool stacks on a hot
Bakersfield night, I

lay a tentative
pale hand on the white page of
“Spring and All.” A cold

wind and a trembling
wildcarrot leaf. A world I
could live and breathe in.

Big and Bigger

In these parts nature
has driven empire; Astors,
nobodies dream big.

Out in the ocean
the big one waits. That’s nature
too, or the laws there-

of. Or Capital
or tectonics, the mindset
apocalyptic.

Yet every dawn
fresh air from the Pacific
refreshes my dream.

I breathe in deeply
and happiness seems a gift
from a careful god.

“SATCHMO!”

There are mortal gods,
beings who though finite com-
municate pure

joy or pure sadness.
I was eight or nine crowding
the chain-link fence.

Out there approaching
us through desert waves of heat,
a small shiny plane.

It seemed forever
before we could act crowd-like
at our tiny airport.

Could it really be
Louis Armstrong on the stairs?
Look! He mopped his brow!