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A Fresh Young Voice from the Plains
1981

THE HONEY BEAR

Billie Holiday was on the radio

I was standing in the kitchen

smoking my cigarette of this

pack I plan to finish tonight

last night of smoking youth.

I made a cup of this funny

kind of tea I’ve had hanging

around. A little too sweet

an odd mix. My only impulse

was to make it sweeter.

Ivy Anderson was singing

pretty late tonight

in my very bright kitchen.

I’m standing by the tub

feeling a little older

nearly thirty in my very

bright kitchen tonight.

I’m not a bad looking woman

I suppose    O it’s very quiet

in my kitchen tonight      I’m squeezing

this plastic honey bear      a noodle

of honey dripping into the odd sweet

tea. It’s pretty late

Honey Bear’s cover was loose

and somehow honey     dripping down

the bear’s face catching

in the crevices beneath

the bear’s eyes    O very sad and sweet

I’m standing in my kitchen      O honey

I’m staring at the honey bear’s face.

ALONG THE STRAND

for Steve Levine

When I was a coke-dealer

I just snorted all the profits.

Or like the time I fell in love

with Morning, it was something

I could stay with. I would

stick around but it slipped

into noon and again I fell in love

      at twilight I was meditative

and prayerful and by night I

was truly in love with someone

I could not see.

The person who invented inventions

was the same one who

waited to see what everyone was

requesting and then she invented

inventing. I tasted that once

but now it is no longer new.

The countermen placing chairs atop

tables, the tables are clean

and the radio plays all the new

songs.

What night was it that you told me

how the last time you felt this

way you just walked and walked

well I am the ghost of the coffee

shops who started smoking

very late. My father told

me they cause cancer and

I still believe they cause

cancer.

There is something wonderful about

plastic tables that resemble wood

and I am dreaming of a tree

by a stream that resembles

plastic.

For I am inventing again.

And I am walking backwards.

I grow deeply religious

as a child and as a

well-adjusted nun I am grateful

to the child who grew

me.

I am grateful to Dad’s tip-

off concerning cigarettes, and

believing in denouements your footsteps

have stopped—you are

gladly resting on your couch.

Vouching for the honesty of

morning, he left me, became

someone else who I found be-

neath a plastic tree at

noon. Vigorous twilight is

our resting place and

we will exchange glowing photos

in the night.

          Invention produces

pools and they are not in

demand.

I am endlessly walking and

a solid colored day is more

to my liking.

“You are my sunshine

my only sunshine”

              the singing voice

produces color, shades her

day. She is a nun of my

love who draws bands of

smoke which is prayer

I snorted all the profits. I

sleep on a pillow which is

my nose, I find it very

                 religious.

my mother taught me sex was

dirty, which was exciting

she taught me love is romantic

I didn’t start fucking till quite late.

Exciting, romantic,

I am quite sure it is the one

thing I have invented.

The times of the day, the ones

with names, they are the

stripes of sex unlike romance

who dreamlike is a continuous

walker,

obviously a solid colored day

is unexciting

I bring my best romance

to morning. I bring my best

romance to noon. Night

the old charmer is in love with

candles. Holds a fistful of

morning behind his back.

So you are no longer walking.

And this is no particular cigarette.

A beautiful nun may be dreaming

my life

            or I am inventing again.

In ancient greece a mystical

child examines three ribbons.

The oldest woman in this part of

town is aware of her hair.

Black white and grey. Even

as she lay dying. Even as

she first fucked and her lover’s

words caressed her like smoke, inventing

pools in her gorgeous and tangled

black hair.

GREECE

This summer

I tell my friends

I intend to spend

a solid month

in Greece.

This is ridiculous

my friends say.

Look at yourself.

Your shoes are worn thin.

When rent time comes

you fall down on the street

and cry

until someone comes along

drops dollar bills on you.

I will go to Greece.

For a solid month.

Living on a Greek isle.

Bordered by the blue Aegean.

In a small stone house.

I can go to Greece

if I want.

On July 1st

sitting in my apartment

with my sandals on

I will be in Greece.

This is madness

my friends say.

You cannot travel by sheer

desire.

I agree with them. It’s madness.

But in Greece I will be sane.

SKUPPY THE SAILOR DOG

I was just thinking about influential books in my life. Most of them were illustrated. I am thinking about one in particular, right now, unmootly titled “Skuppy the Sailor Dog.” The plot was, or is, a little vague. Skuppy was a wandering sort of dog. Sailed the seven seas, made cameo appearances in various spots, one of which comes to mind is Turkey. Skuppy is standing in a sort of medina where he purchases a pair of purple slippers with curled up toes. How astonished I was at the thought of a dog inserting his paws in such shoes. Skuppy is never shown actually wearing the shoes.

They do appear in one scene in Skuppy’s small mildly lit bunker. At this point in his life, it seems Skuppy is in ownership of his own small tug. He is lying on the lower bunk of a two-decker and is quite alone and somehow you feel he is alone on the entire boat, it is his boat.

Yet the lighting is alright. A single sailor’s lantern hangs on the wall, a tawny cozy yellow sprays around the room in a warm twinkling. The purple shoes lie discreetly at the foot of his bunker, his striped sailor’s shirt folded neatly on a single wooden chair.

He’s asleep at this point, with an ever so slight smile coursing his mouth, more of a glow than a smile.

Having good dreams, other places, countries, infinite new shoes to buy and strange people to purchase from. It is night of course and the boat is softly at sea, moving on its own correct course. Storm-free and guided by Skuppy, smiling at his dreaming.

MEDIUM POEM

I was the second of three children.

Born in middlesex county. Smack

in the middle of the twentieth century.

I have no womb memories

to the point of doubting my tenancy.

After-life seems a dubious conjecture.

I’ll tell you when I get there. Paus-

ing in the middle of ladders

I smoke a cigarette for Wednesdays

when I am comfortable. And it is always

Wednesday. And I am never

sure. And I am always here.

WELSH POETRY

Mainly it’s the shape of the hills as the old soldier

          laments

Three blue cars rush by

In this, New York City, all of us are heroes!

Whose green eye is upon my tennis shoe

Three birds land upon my firescape O love

My bewilderment is blind, has no season.

Three dogs are barking from three blocks away

Cool August wind blows through my sly silver screen

The year is latening, Hush, hear the dogs again.

MY CHEAP LIFESTYLE

After a bourbon

I came in turned on the tube

Lit a joint and watched Monterey Pop

Nearly wept when Janis came on

Janis’s legs kicking on stage was a memorable sight

Janis does her sweet little Texas girl smile as

her act finishes. She kicks her heels

And Otis Redding is so sexy.

Millions of young Americans experience religion for

          the firsttime

In their lives

Or so the cameras would inform us

I’m concerned about manipulation in this media

How one gains such wonderful power

But of course I’m too tired

Thrilled by the process of bringing down a familiar

          blanket

Upon my bed

It’s nearly fall

Nearly winter

I expect the stars will be bright

The woods full of bears.

ON THE DEATH OF ROBERT LOWELL

O, I don’t give a shit.

He was an old white-haired man

Insensate beyond belief and

Filled with much anxiety about his imagined

Pain. Not that I’d know

I hate fucking wasps.

The guy was a loon.

Signed up for Spring Semester at MacLeans

A really lush retreat among pines and

Hippy attendants. Ray Charles also

once rested there.

So did James Taylor . . .

The famous, as we know, are nuts.

Take Robert Lowell.

The old white-haired coot.

Fucking dead.

TEXAS

               I’m nearly crying for it—

looking at the large coloured map on his wall

          poor TEXAS looking big-as-life

               and dying to secede

Mama, did Annie Oakley ever cry? Or,

Mother is it true she couldn’t cry

      that’s why she could shoot so well?

                   O Mama,

                 I just want to cry

      sitting here looking at TEXAS across

          the face of the map

        so big & so lonely

      I just want to get a beebee gun

and shoot that fucking state to bits

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