March 30, 2009

Song Without A Melody (translation)

This is a translation/adaptation of one of my favorite French songs, "Chanteur sans une melodie" by Isabelle Boulay. It is not a word-for-word translation; instead, I chose to adapt English lyrics to the same melody.

Now it's 6 a.m.
another sleepless night has passed
like a petal drowning
in some indifferent glass

And I know I will get through this
I know the dawn will come
But there's so much time left to wait
before the dark has gone

And I am like a singer without a voice,
a song without a melody
a boat without a rudder
lost upon your sea
I am like a singer without a voice,
condemned to sing no more
I've brought you everything I had
Just to leave it at your door

When I think of you
I remember all the words you said
They still fill this empty room
and echo in my head

Through the windowpane,
I watch the day begin
There must be sound somewhere out there
but I can't hear a thing

And I am like a singer without a voice,
a song without a melody
a boat without a rudder
lost upon your sea
I am like a singer without a voice,
condemned to sing no more
I've brought you everything I had
Just to leave it at your door



[Original text: Chanteur sans une melodie, by Isabelle Boulay
Six heures du matin
Je suis au bout de ma nuit blanche
Comme une rose dans un vase
Fanée d'indifférence

Mais je sais qu' j' vais t'oublier
Et que viendra le jour
Mais le temps est tellement lent
Et tout est tellement dur

Je ne suis qu'un chanteur sans une mélodie
Qu'un chanteur sans sa voix
Un bateau sans gouvernail
A la dérive de toi

Je ne suis qu'un chanteur sans une mélodie
Condamné à ne plus chanter
J'ai les mains pleines de cadeaux
Personne à qui donner...

Quand je pense à tout
C' que tu m'as dit, ça me fait peur
Comme ce grand silence
Qui est un océan dans mon cœur

A travers de ma fenêtre
Je vois les rayons de l'aube
Et dans mon cœur je vois des vagues
Mais je ne peux les entendre

Je ne suis qu'un chanteur sans une mélodie
Qu'un chanteur sans sa voix
Un bateau sans gouvernail
A la dérive de toi

Je ne suis qu'un chanteur sans une mélodie
Condamné à ne plus chanter
J'ai les mains pleines de cadeaux
Personne à qui donner

Je ne suis qu'un chanteur sans une mélodie
Condamné à ne plus chanter
J'ai les mains pleines de cadeaux
Personne à qui donner...]

Times Square After The Rain

The stars were floating
in the sidewalk,
alongside
gum wrappers
and cigarette butts.

Umbrellas were being shaken out
by strangers exchanging
looks of ordinary relief,
sending arcs of neon-colored droplets
flying outward like smiles.

The cars hummed along,
their tires rasping
on wet asphalt
like zippers
sliding down.

March 28, 2009

Come Morpheus

Come Morpheus,

with your eyes full of acid
and your mouth full of pearls,
your jacket unbuttoned
and your fingers unfurled,

with milk on your tongue
and flesh in your teeth,
in battered old blue jeans
with nothing on underneath,

with your heart full of garbage
and your head full of wind,
with a stamp on your wrist
and a price on your skin,

with the dust in your lashes,
with your old bag of tricks,
with the world on your shoulders,
with your perfect pink prick,

with your smile like a snowfall,
and the moon in your eyes,
come as you are
or come in disguise

for you know I will know you
whatever you wear
by the stain on your iris
by the scent of your hair.

So come, Morpheus
I've been waiting up
and the coffee's gone bitter
and cold in my cup.

With your horns all aglow
and your halo ablaze,
come for a while,
but don't ask to stay

for you know I would tumble
if you gave the command
and I don't think you need
more blood on your hands.

Have It All (lyric)

You take that step away from me.
I know, you always say
that for every stolen pleasure,
there's a heavy fine to pay.

There are lines that can't be crossed,
there are more that must be walked,
rules that can't be broken,
boats that can't be rocked.

You keep your hands away from me,
and you won't look me in the eye.
Yes, I know what you always say -
that way, danger lies.

But just stepping closer to the edge
doesn't mean you're gonna fall,
and I'm telling you, we can have it all.

You've always been so careful,
measured every choice,
though you think that spontaneity
has a time and place.
You always plan your tomorrow
when each day is done
and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
till tomorrow never comes.

And if you save all your colors for a rainy day,
the sun is never yellow,
the sky is always gray.

And if you gamble on a hand or two,
that don't mean you're gonna lose,
and I'm telling you, you don't have to choose.

Well, I have seen you watching me
and I know what's on your mind
But stepping into something new
doesn't mean you leave something behind

And, listen, it's the same for me -
I've made choices of my own -
Life is a pyramid of those - a job, a lover, a home

But I've gone dancing in the rain
and I've never caught a cold
And I'm telling you, you can have it all.

March 27, 2009

Reconstruction #1 (Desk Dreams)

He grins
from the flames of
God's fire,

crooking a finger,
encouraging madness,

and dances with quills,
leaving sooty footprints for me
to find

in the morning.

The top of my head blows off,
pink flying out
& landing like
a thousand discarded bits of latex.

Eleven sober suits hang,
shrouded, silent,
sightless like prisoners of war,
wondering which will go first.

And the cavewoman
can't stop laughing.




Fall 2006.

March 25, 2009

Pearl Grotto

our mouths are oysters,
pearls growing inside
as quickly as they can drop from our lips

they stud our bodies
like the baubles of Indian gods
or currants in a cake,

caught behind our clavicles,
nestled in our navels,
stuck in the damp creases
of our elbows and knees,
encrusting our sexes
richly as jewels
on a crown

are we a grotto
to be filled with such
dripping extravagance?

the passage is narrow
and I flow lazily through
until I reach the mouth
and then

I am a waterfall
plunging forever, crashing,
nowhere to go but down
to swirl and bubble at the base

and your knees are mountains,
moving together, crumbling
around me, a howling, triumphant apocalypse,
raining rock and sand,

endless grains of sand.
each one will become a pearl.

Villanavel-Gazing (villanelle self-challenge)

After Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art"

The art of rhyming isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be made music by some clever bastard -

like love. And think, how sweet it is to pester
the minister of your heart's government
in rhyme - which truly isn't hard to master.

Rhyme "never" with "forever." Ever faster
the couplets come; they must be heaven sent!
"My God," you think, "I am a clever bastard."

But then, you come upon a winking jester,
who goads you to a villanelle attempt . . .
and, Jesus, that one sure is hard to master.

The gauntlet thrown, the challenge rankles, festers;
you haven't slept in days, you're shaking, spent -
Could it be you are NOT a clever bastard?

The pen flies at the wall. "O @#$%ing blast - !". . . Er,
forgive me, gentle reader. What I meant
's the art of rhyming isn't hard to master -
but that damned villanelle sure is a bastard.


It is worth noting that, about 3-4 years ago, I tried to write a serious villanelle. About love. And poetry. And bodies melting together into music and light and all that jazz. I spent about a month hacking away at it before I moved on to another poem. It was at least a year before I finally gave up on it and admitted defeat. Probably another year before it stopped bothering me.

I wrote this one in under 30 minutes.

If You've Never Been Loved By A Poet

If you've never been loved by a poet,
you really ought to try it.
They love with an excessive tendency to beauty
and an obsessive attention to detail.

A poet will always remember
the exact shade of your eyes,
birthdays, anniversaries,
and the way your face looked in the moonlight,

and anyone who harbors that much passion
for a particular type of paper and pen
is probably pretty good in bed.

Best of all, when you are through
with being written about
and have started cruising Adult Literacy meetings,
you don't have to feel guilty -

she'll just switch to sadder poems,
and when that's done, why,
she might just put her head in the oven,
considerately leaving you with a good story to tell other women.

Yes, if you've never been loved by a poet,
you really ought to try it.

March 24, 2009

Fortune Teller

A man came to me, said "Can you show me
the way to a better life,
a bigger house, a faster car,
an easier job, a prettier wife,
the way to meaning and the way to God,
and the way to a love that is true"
So I took his hand, skinned off the palm
& said, "Here's a road map for you."

A girl came to me, said "Can you help me,
I've fallen for the wrong kind of man.
I'm so tired of this love, so tired of this ache,
I want to smile again."
So I gave her a potion, said "Just add a few
tears that you shed in your sorrow,
then stir in some arsenic, drink it all down,
and you'll feel much better tomorrow."

The day is near over, I'm alone in my tent,
my crystal ball's turned back to glass.
I take off my turban, pinch out the incense,
wonder where I've put the grass.
I idly pick up the deck of cards,
Shuffle, cut, take one out -
it's the Joker - for once, this shit makes sense -
we all need something to laugh about.

Dairy Allegory

The bowl of milk that I set out
for the faeries
has already been licked clean
by street cats
who can't digest milk
& now they prowl outside my window,
yowling their displeasure
& leaving white puddles
on my doorstep.

You ask what
this has to do
with puking cats.

Well, I've kept this bowl
filled for you
& every time you stoop to feed,
it doesn't seem to agree with you.

You make a puddle,
then leave.

One Night Only

We sweat,
crushed together,
slicked fish in a can,
hurled against the rails
like protesters or refugees -

- this is the front row -
- God's country -

the girl next to me
is on her tenth orgasm

she shrieks,
pounds my arm,
grabs my hand -

- OH MY GOD, HE'S SO HOT! -

someone spills beer on me

"He's hung like a rabbit," I mumble
meanly
and of course, she doesn't hear me -

- WHAT? -

- NOTHING, NOTHING! -
(it was a year ago)
I smile broadly
she grins,

shrieks again -
number eleven -

later, I will puke
on her shoes.

March 11, 2009

Love Letters

If I send up enough love
letters, letter by letter,
who is to say
they will not

find purchase, hook like horseshoes
on the edge of the moon,
lodge between the clouds,

like an earring
lost between couch cushions,

linger up there awhile
until a rain
carries them down;

and who is to know
they will not
find you somehow,

mingled with the raindrops, slide
over the sleeve of your coat,
into your shirt cuff;

and who is to say
you will not know
they come from me?

Whoosh!
Here comes another one,
with fondest regards.

March 3, 2009

Key West

Thank you.

It was a cold day
in the tropics.

We watched the morning sail in,
chill grey and glittering
with mist, the seagulls skimming busily
over the water below
your stateroom balcony.

While all the other tourists
paddled through T-shirts and tiki bars,
we would stay here until they all came back for dinner,
and we laughed like conspirators,
delighted with our discovery -

this was the best way
to spend a day in port.

March 1, 2009

Inconceivable

Look up and receive,
for you and I are
made for this,
and this too,
this is made for this.

Look up and receive,
what would he be like,
or she, and whom would she
resemble more,
or he?

Look up and receive,
and our bodies are rivers
running together
to the same estuary,
as rivers have always.

Look up,

but, "No," I say, "no,
not like this,"
and you stop instantly,
because you are a good, respectful
man, a dying
breed, obviously.

Look up,
it is like holding
a seashell to your ear,
imagining you are hearing
the ghosts of imagined origins,
but really,

there is only the sound
of emptiness crashing against itself.