On the crest of the hesitating heart

What smile seizes the mouth of the hesitant penitent?

What unprecedented slowness in that smile?

What suppressed song in that smile?

And as much as gravity

As much as anticipation

As much flight as return.

What a smile!  We would call it provocative yes?

If in its double audacity, in its bright boldness

It were not so damn complete

And so absent

So as not to face anyone.

I ask it

“Where is it that you are leading me?”

“Where is it that you want me to go?”

Those words wait for me everywhere I turn

And after all my days of prison

All my days of quiet contemplation

After all the memories of my incarceration

Have slipped away like an unwelcome dream.

After all the days of work

After all nights of writing

After all the echoes of past laughter and tears

That have slipped away like a forbidden lover

In the early hours of the morning.

After all I hate and after all I admire

In this chain of change

Comes the refrain

“Is it you my cell-mate, my fellow prisoner?”

You who boasts that all those charming women in your life

Loved you too much.

Is this one of them now singing above my wretched grave?

For not one of my friends has understood me;

When I weep in church

They tell me “That’s life.”

Not one of my days on this earth

Holds my hand;

I wait in vain for what I dread most:


Not one of my nights has brought me peace;

A tenderness that holds me close,

A dram, a rose…

I cannot believe that that is all there is to life.

So I flee this compromising cemetery

So full of avoidable resurrections

Like parrots drunk on necromantic words

Their impervious tongues infatuated with the sounds

And taste of the fruits our demise.

The lie is the plaything that we must shatter

It is a garden where we change pace

And find a new place

To hide ourselves better.

Or where we might let out a cry

Just to be half-found.

Is it a mask?

No, for I am much fuller with it

And the lie has such resounding eyes.

Rather it is a footless vase, an amphora

That needs us to hold it up

No doubt its handles ate its feet.

It seems what carries us completes us

And the very moment that lifts us is so remarkable.


Dialogue #1

1.  Life serves us the most interesting dishes for our guiltless consumption.  Some demented cosmic chef grabs various ingredients from insane and unspeakable sources, slices and dices, chops and grates, mixes and melds it until some crazy hodge-podge which has no name and indeed shall remain nameless is formed.  Well I have tasted life and swallowed its frightening flavors and returned for seconds and thirds, devouring it, reveling in its filthy mess, and rooting in it like the dirty dog that I have become.  I have tasted life’s great culinary experiment and I have not found it wanting.

So why are we here?  Why have I somehow persuaded you into sitting still long enough that I may force feed you the regurgitated remains of this dubious dish?  Are you also a gourmand of this cosmic cuisine?  Have you too, eaten of its cornucopia and fed until you felt full if possibilities, bursting with the fruits of creation that swirl in your gorge, making you sicker than you have ever been in your life, pushing you in turn to vomit out your spiritual guts and look upon the contents of your soul?  Ah, your stomach’s contents are my stomach’s contents and contentment as I seek the deep blue sea that is reflected in the mirror before me.  My reflection haunts me.  It stares at me unendingly without flinching, boring its black eyes deep into the hunger of my soul reflected into the world within the mirror.  It knows of my gluttony.  It knows that I feasted on life and the fruits of other men’s labors, as I searched for a means to penetrate the mystery of the mirror.  It is evident that my greed has marked me; it has tattooed me, tainted me and scarred me with a dark and treacherous ink that bleeds into my soul, etching there the picture of my corruption, the portrait of my passions, and the painting of my lust for life, for love, and the dark energy that bleeds into the blackness of my soul.

The mirror calls to me in my intoxication as I ride the waves of shame and indifference that fill me in a rhythm that matches the beating, pulsing heart of the world that I am chasing within its depths.  Yet it constantly eludes me, this world beyond the world, it taunts me with its incessant invitations and reflected parody of all the things that make me myself.  It hurts me this phenomenon.  Why cry out to me then reject me when I answer the passionate pleas that I see in the dark eyes staring at me from the frosted glass?  I want to smash it, spit on it, scratch it, and punish it for torturing and tormenting me with a hand held out to me with a bloody rose, fragrant as it funereal.  But I have understood the meal that life has served me.  I have taken its lesson to heart and into the secret core that the mirror cannot see, that the mirror cannot touch and taunt me with deadly desire which can only destroy me.  I shiver in anticipation of the promise to be fulfilled in that strange face that confronts me as I beg of it to hear my cries and let me into that world beyond my own.  Perhaps there I could see again, perhaps there I can atone.  But life’s not about atonement is it?  It’s about experience and tasting the many things which are thrown our direction so that we enjoy its goodness, its evil, its delicious array of flavors which can give us such sweetness upon the tongue and bitterness against the eyes.  It sounds too much, this philosophizing about the nature of our existence, but sometimes it is part of being alive to wax poetic, to see the mouth in the petal of the rose, the finger in the drop of rain.  But once again I look to the mirror to tell me what it is that I am seeing in the bud of the flower or the wing of the crow.  Its mystery draws me like iron fillings to a magnet pulling my granulated roughness towards its heart and holding me against my will as close as a lustful lover.  Infinity resides there and pushes out its pulses of creativity touching me like the delicate fingers of a forgotten companion come back to haunt me.  How I missed that touch, how I wish that I could ride those waves back to its source in the depth of my battered other half who stands before me wondering as I do if the possibilities reflected here in this mirror can offset the pain that we both feel in our hunger to be united.  The mirror does not answer me, and I wonder if ever will.  I have tried all sorts of ways to step into that silver world but as entrance still eludes me I feel my sanity is at stake.  But look at me being all melodramatic. If you learn nothing else from my dialogue with the mirror you will learn that we are all melodramatic poets, and that we are all insane.  So look into the mirror, I dare you.  Confront that which resides there always watching you closer than the most possessive of lovers, who for some odd reason rejects you wholeheartedly and violently when you come too close.  I cannot kiss the mirror and hope to make it mine.

So what do you see in the mirror?  Is that the window to your soul, or are your eyes corrupt and hiding the true pathway to you secret core?  I bury myself in what I see there, trying to describe to myself what it is that haunts me so much about the face that I see staring back at me with eyes as haunted and hungry as my own.  When I sleep I hear it whispering to me and in my dreams we touch each other and its ebony skin feels like stone.  There are lessons to be learned in that reflection, there are messages that are waiting to be passed on to this vagabond trying to find his way home.  I must learn to follow the sounds that the world is singing to me as I journey through creation blindly, blundering my way along, crossing secret paths oblivious and deaf to the melodies of Nature’s many rhythms which drum their staccato beats deep upon the taut skin of my intellect and of my soul.