Some Dance

Selected Poems

An Invocation of Sorts

Niceties dispensed, muse,
give it to me straight,
intravenous, undiluted, right
into this arm I write with.

Here or hereabouts
(I’m never quite sure)
a show of modesty
is expected so I admit

the gift is not commensurate
to the task at hand:
such a small wingspan,
my fear of heights.

So silver my drab tongue.
But as for theme: leave it to me
to come up with something
that while not highfalutin,

carries a whiff of the sublime.
Finally, don’t just hang around
after giving me my dose. Look:
I’m really, really grateful. Now adios.

A Note

Hey Sugar! Remember me?
read the note he found
those many years later
among the broken pencils,
old glasses and keys
as he cleared the apartment
making ready to leave
and though the acid of time
had bleached the card
the events recalled
in pink arabesque
seemed vaguely familiar
but surely someone else
had lived them for today,
standing by the window,
staring at his frozen yard,
he doubted he’d ever been
that tropical swain
who, done with dancing,
danced her out the door,
then took her to the grove
of palm trees in the dunes
where, as the note recalled,
“under the moon our bliss
has been etched in silver”
and just as he began
to consider that perhaps
–if this was not a movie–
all this happened and yes
indeed happened to him,
he recalled this billet-doux
he had filched years ago
when Ramon turned his back
to seal up the contraband box
he would drive across the border
dressed, this time, as a priest.

The Island

Little more, it appears
when he lifts his eyes
after dream-waves drop him
ragged, rock-battered,
salt-stung on the beach
than the cartoon island
with its single palm tree
under which, exhausted,
shipwrecked, a sailor lies.

But a few days later
walking on the lee side
he finds a cave, a stream,
a patch of berries, the gold
of honey-combs treasured
in the dark of a tree.

A herd of goats finds him,
follows him everywhere.
Bearded apostles, they nibble
at his hair, chew his laces
and, one night while he sleeps,
eat his one and only book
leaving behind a torn page
where gold-leafed, a wooden god
stands in a melon patch
and can protect nothing.

The years flash by.
By flicker of firelight
he reads that half page
at first distractedly
then, sensing meaning
moves below the surface,
slowly blowing breath
into each syllable.

Now he braids his beard
and walks bitter beneath
a nimbus of white hair.

When sirens awake him,
he returns in mid-question:
what is man, he is asking,
if not that crop left untended
under the blind eyes
of the scarecrow god?

The Exquisite Art

Better to marry than to burn
—St. Paul to the Corinthians—
thus granting a wee advantage
to the holy vows of matrimony
and though this one will confess
he had both married and burned,
Cynthia comes to him today
in the coolness of this ocean breeze
as she was at the final decree
when the flourish of signatures
freed them from the fever
that had made them masters
of that most exquisite art:
how else describe the deftness
with which they went at each other
through their humdrum hell,
until combustion consumed its fuel
leaving them perplexed, spent,
then close though wary pals.

The Bench

The sea moves its blue shuttle
coming to shore, then receding,
then coming again and each time
it recedes it hoards away more light
as it weaves this winter evening
when he decided to come down
and take the show slowly in:
the egrets, the buffle heads,
the snowy plover, the pelicans
and perhaps, because of the chill,
no one is there to see him slump
light-headed, light-hearted, wondering
what ever would happen to that boy
standing across the dark waters
feeding out line to the small kite
that stutters in the wind then rises
as the sun finally sinks
and the roads of the world grow dark.


Toot me something on your golden horn
he said to the musician.
I feel cold as my soul turns blue.

Jerry-build me an intricate song
full of those diminished sevenths
and enough thrust to push me through

bar by smoky bar, into oblivion.
Extricate me from thorny feelings,
put brain and heart to sleep.

Bring out a flute and its Bolivian
so sorrow can be trumped by sorrow.
Afford me, at any price, some peace.

Today I am bedeviled
befogged by this predicament:
will I find myself again tomorrow?

A Prince’s Soliloquy

Truth be told,
I wish she would
unkiss me,

turn me back
into the frog I was
and happy being.

Give me back nights
I dared the moon,
fat and round,

to step down
and skinny dip
until dawn.

My velvet britches?
This silver crown?
Nothing here even close

to those moments
when she dropped her cloak,
tested the waters

with her toes
then slipped in and silvered
my dark pond.

No Love Lost

Unable to string words tonight
In any manner that might please
he browses the mother lode
(what others call the OED)

by chance, Volume L through M,
and is immediately convinced
of the need to bring back
(banned to dial. vulgar and arch.)
the useful La! – exclamation
formerly used to introduce
or accompany a conventional phrase,
address, or to call attention
to an emphatic statement.
As in: He’d a caressing way
but la! You know it’s a
manner natural to poets.
Poets, when unable to write
(a condition known as blocked)
often drink, make bad companions
and should they drink excessively,

quickly reach labescency
(tottering state or condition).
They awake a loggerhead
(a thick-headed or stupid person,
a block-head) praying a stroke
of magic or the next wee drink
turn them from loggerhead
to logodaedalus (cunning in words).
At breakfast, still under the influence,
they’re prone to logomachia
(being contentious about words).
And the contentious word holding poets
enthralled through all these centuries
is love, found on page four six three
and refracted over several that follow.
The etymology is a complicated
web of meandaring tributaries:
From OHG gilob: precious
to its Aryan root, Latin’s lubet
(libet) pleasing, lubido (libido) desire.
Quickly, then, to the heart of the matter:
Disposition or state of feeling
with regard to a person
which (arising from recognition
of attractive qualities, instinct
of natural relationship or sympathy)
manifests itself in solicitude
for the welfare of the object
and usually delight for his approval.
Theologians, a further entry explains,
distinguish love of complacency
(approval of qualities in the object)
from love of benevolence (bestowed
irrespective of the object’s character).
Then, among the proverbs, the sudden insight
that, mercurial as love itself,
There’s no love lost between them
meant first one thing, now its exact opposite:
so close were we at one time that in our traffic
there was no love lost between us
but now, in the thick of lawsuits
and at loggerheads (two block-heads
making their lawyers rich)
La! There’s no love lost between us.
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