Free Falling (Poems written while listening through the night to late night radio)
§ CROP CIRCLES
Waking from a postprandial nap,
waking to the smell of
Night Blooming Jasmine,
so much of the day gone in sleep.
Out the window there are symbols in the grass
waiting for me. Here I am.
My soul gone all weedy,
needing to be groomed.
to be centered,
to be in the center
to be central to,
to center myself…
I am waking to a circular staircase,
to signs that I’ve been there, done that.
All signs point to “yes,”
all symbols clang to be seen.
I can’t crack my own secret codes anymore.
I walk through myself guessing
at which path should have been taken,
which should be taken now.
To center oneself,
to be the center of attention
to be center stage,
front and center…
The grass is “all fall down”
from some invisible children
I stare at that section of the field
where I see myself surrounded and unafraid.
birds of ill omen,
The signs surrender.
It all seems so simple: there is something you want, a lot of somethings you want, so you go search for them. You begin by turning out your pockets, looking through handbags and jewelry cases, drawers, bookcases, and knapsacks. Methodically, you take a stroll through and around your own neighborhood. Then you branch out onto beaches, up mountains, to fairgrounds, campsites, deserts, parking lots, golf courses, railroad yards and amusement parks. But there is so little something to be found. You have so little to show for your searches.
You are discouraged, yes? You’re swimming in it aren’t you? You feel it closing over your head and dragging you down. This sea of poverty, I mean.
Then, you find a stick. You follow it. It leads you to others. You strip them, look through their pockets and their handbags and their briefcases. At last, you understand the concept. You reach into someone’s body—anyone will do—and you pull out that person’s heart. You turn it this way and that, watching the fluids glitter like gemstones or stars. You have found what you were looking for. You’ve found treasure at last. You wrap the heart in aluminum foil, put it in your backpack and start again to look for something you want.
§ GRAYS—THE HOMELESS MAN AT THE SMOKE SHOP
The homeless man lays himself down in the doorway of the smoke shop. He is barely tolerated on our street because he’s dirty and smells bad. He says his beads and prays from a book of crossword puzzles. This act alone causes me to give him a dollar.
I left him with a tuna sandwich once too.
I think he is my delusion of God, my wizened vision
of Saint God. I’m certain this man in the
smoke shop doorway is a harbinger of
the justice coming to us all. He is
Saint God, Saint Jesus, Saint Batman,
Saint Sea Monster. I am afraid to pass by
and not see him or smell him; I know that,
if I do not, it will be the last day
of the world. His eyes proclaim that pity
is not dead, that revelation is his
gift. When I turn north toward home,
I lose him. The smoke shop becomes
some distorted dream, its doorway
is a gray space in the dark.
§ CONSPIRACIES—IT MIGHT BE BEST
NOT TO LISTEN
straight out of the anguish of my own mind,
is not for the strong.
I’m just your average Los Angeles lunatic,
looking through the veil of tourists
I used to write for the beautiful and courageous, for the models and the film stars.
was a long time ago. Now, I write these poems
for the scarred and the fragile,
the slapped around, the twisted up, the homely and the harassed.
I can’t be poet for the mighty. Circumstances change.
The stars crackle.
The sky takes on light—pale yellow paint on a porous ceiling. Each monstrous event of a life
is more monstrous
than the one before it. It becomes better for you
to tell yourself the most terrifying stories
rather than have me tell them to you.
§ LATE NIGHT RADIO—THE STARS
At this time each year, I’ll tell you
I’ll explain which creatures
crawl from the muck. I’ll point out
to you the coyotes come down
from the hills for water
because the hills are again on fire
and flames loosed the wild things
down into the streets.
On we go and I’ll tell you about the sea—
how you will walk into it naked, crying out,
finally drowning, feeling the hand of Jehova
like a lover pulling you close.
Look at me as if you
know who I am, please.
Listen: I’ll approach you
at this same time next year.
There will be, at that time, a quiz.