beyond a horizon

billy sat beside me like the old days on an old, busted, green pavilion, piss-smelling  venice bench watching the gulls flyin’ into another sunset above the wide span of empty beach

i’m broken and sick now from too much livin’ here , he said i shoulda come up north with you and settled in some peaceful redwoods thirty  years ago when i saw the signs instead of believing that so cal could always redeem me keepin’ me here, thinkin’ that venice would always open her arms and hold me… instead, here i am with needle marks scarring my arms and feet, needin’ at least a beer or two with my morning fix just to keep the demons away…. dumped now outta my rent control shack into livin’ in my car, and chained to a place i barely recognize but for this sky and the memories… but, ahhh….  what a life we’ve lived, he said, staring off…and now, we’re all dyin’… i watched his right foot drummin’ the pavement  a million miles an hour it seemed, tryin’ with all he had to keep the inside opiate ants from crawlin’  up his calves… yeah, billy…what a life it was….we’re all just barely hangin’ on by a thread and remembering what we can day by day…what can i do to make it better?  aw, you don’t have enough as it is, much less enough  to be takin care of my ass too, he mumbled…you got your own to worry about…ol’ billy will be alright…..write me somethin’, put me in a story or one of those poems you usta write…think of me and say a prayer i make it outta here alive someday… who is gonna save us now, he whispered as he hugged me goodbye and staggered a bit as he headed toward speedway as the sun dipped beyond the horizon… yes, my friend…the clock is tickin’ and the answers ain’t comin’ to me either…who is gonna save us now?  salvation don’t come easy to us–it never has— and its kinda late…be well and i’ll see you next time…probably right there, on the other side of that horizon…

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toxic compassion

one

the latest word is that positive living translates as       better living and extends the longevity of one’s precious life….

in order to achieve this, one is told they must eliminate and purge themselves of all toxicity and negativity        be it in food, water,  pollution    in  broadcast news reports or unpleasant things in general ….

but especially, purge the worries and stresses about things            purge the mindless acts of some fellow humans       the funny “things “that have we and the world spinning out of control right outside our front doors….

two

CHANGE!  YOU MUST CHANGE, THEY SAY.  YOU MUST CHANGE HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE AND WHO YOU KEEP IN IT  IN ORDER TO LAST LONGER!

CHANGE!  YOU MUST CHANGE IN ORDER TO BEAT THE ODDS THAT DEATH HAS ALREADY STACKED AGAINST YOU!  PUSH PUSH PUSH ALL THE NEGATIVITY AWAY FROM YOU!

CHANGE!   CLING WITH YOUR BLOODY STUMPS TO LIFE’S RIM AND RID YOURSELF OF ANYTHING THAT’S IS UNPLEASANT OR DIFFICULT BECAUSE ITS BAD FOR YOU!                                     ( it will kill you)

LIVE LIKE THIS AND YOU WILL SURVIVE!

three

in this life, we have surrounded ourselves with madness              and happily  chosen its crooked, rain-slicked  paths instead of the alternate   straight and narrow highways

we’ve held hands with the other crazies        (who are just like us)

the depressed and troubled   the pretenders and the man-children     to the artists and dreamers             those often suicidal     and to the lost and bat-shit crazy

we have giggled wildly while tossing wildflowers from the garden       scattered petals from the perfect scarlet rose to create a thing of softness and beauty    for love    with them       have  skipped and stumbled, cried hysterical never-ending tears with them           and, always, they waited for us too…….waited and worried for our safe passage back when we’ve  been lost for awhile, a little too long    in a dark wood or two….

we’ve climbed up from the benthic depths and raced skyward  with those most beloved:

the artists, the madmen and women      the loyal who know us best      our fellow humans, our chosen blood      the creators we’ve known, those who have run the entire gamut  ………..the brilliant       terrified to cease or fail, they all have tasted on their lips the blood     and the struggles      day to day sometimes        trying hard to simply remember to exhale the precious breath they didn’t realize they were holding…listening to doubt’s voice in their head, wondering aloud:  is it over yet?  is the Muse really gone?  is this the day that i will……….stop?

four

with insight, we have shared and melded their like-mindedness with ours  gathered them close         shared with them our deepest secrets and fears       because   we speak the truth and of the unspoken things         we know that they too understand balance of this honesty in life.              we have loved and cared for these humans           in degrees          in the present and in the past

danced and doe-see-doe’d with them across hardwood floors and soft talcum powder  sands      we’ve hollered and screamed with them—and, later, on their behalf, at raging thief rivers       at killer waves on beach fronts      stood with them in the silence of  blessed mountaintops      laughed til we’ve cried til’ we’ve peed    shared in the beauty of a tender garden, while a lost voice of silliness still whispers behind every leaf…

soul-exchanged and heart filled, we have cared and been cared for…changed roles as the drainer and the drain-ee             always have managed to survive, bond in tact        strong, yet disconcertingly tenuous….

five

the new sad  rule is to eliminate ‘toxic’ people from your daily diet, including all of the aforementioned

another cruel blow to compassion for others!         

death laughs, shakes his whitened skull, and with his bony hand, turns to his dusty chalkboard, and adds another hash-mark         while we turn, face the red-brick and mortar wall and slowly                            bang our remaining hearts              repeatedly          against it

(AND THE MADNESS)

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there is a viscious wind

blue skies    crystal clear sparking skies              blue, that shade of blue

only found in nests                    nests carefully woven by design

with delicate brittle twig            by design                  constructed by tiny beak and claw stitch           perfect to house jelly-bean sized eggs, painted in such a  striking  blue

suddenly, off the coast   rumbling up to meet the season          blew icy            winds heaving mighty over   white-capped waters   plowing into cliffs   up green valley from bodega town

panels of corrugated tin from an abandoned greenhouse            decorated the silent deserted driveway

who lived here, i wonder

what merciless wind                blew love through them like cold metal through a fragile heart

crashing them to the ground

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landmarks and landmines

most parents earmark their lives and those of their children with memorable events: 

first small steps   first words   the feel of tiny arms embracing the mama’s neck in a first hug

the first teenage angst filled i hate you  then

the inevitable, 21st century first:

with all due respect, fuck you, mom

and now               i can die

in peace

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ten outta three ninety nine

three hundred and ninety-nine poems ago

there WAS a poet

inspired by the greats

by life’s adventures

by the need to purge and create

by slapping word-story onto the page…

three hundred and ninety-nine poems on the wall

put ém together and watch ten fall

shake ém out and toss ém about

ten worthy of even mentioning

maybe….

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the literary landscape

i wonder what

the old poets

would think of

the new

literary landscape

are there any worthy

humans

to fill the giants’ shoes?

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the ants go marching..

when i was a little kid, there was this children’s song, remembered from early childhood
my mother hosted a morning playgroup in our santa monica
backyard, where harried 50’s housewives would gather with
their little ones in the mornings
before the ritual of getting to their daily chores of laundry, cleaning, ironing their husband’s shirts, getting dinner ready and freshening up to welcome home their working men…
a handful of small children in the neighborhood ran on the cool, freshly mowed backyard grass
played in the makeshift sandbox and ate crackers and drank kool-aid at a picnic table on the back patio
under the clothesline that later in the day would hold billowing white sheets and old wooden clothespins…
the women created games and taught us old girl scout songs
the darkest tune was about ants marching…the tune was gloomy to me and all i heard were the evil monkey guards marching through the castle while the bad witch held dorothy and toto captive in the wizard of oz movie..
the ants go marching two by two hurrah, hurrah
the ants go marching two by two hurrah, hurrah…
i cried everytime
the song terrified me and i could feel the ants marching on me and
i screamed, closing my eyes tight and trying to crawl inside my mother’s arms. my mother held me and the other mothers laughed and said, isn’t that sweet and oh my, she is
such a sensitive little girl!

last night i awoke remembering the news i received earlier in the day
the ant song came into my head, only the words had shifted:
my friends are dying two by two, hurrah, hurrah
my friends are dying two by two……

barely recovered from the last two who had passed earlier just weeks ago, the latest front page newsflash capturing our aging was delivered, too soon once again two by two
and the cancer that now escorts us to death’s door won out once again
two by two
four by four
death does not frighten me anymore
still, i scream, feeling the ants marching on my skin and now
terrified to be left behind

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