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squirrel cageFirst Rotation

Life is passing me by again
slipping faster than the sun slips naturally
over the horizon
as we run from it
or forget ourselves
in the moving present
when we think we’re living life to the fullest
in the thick of things
not recognizing the passing
just there at the edges of our petit recit
immersed as we are in the moment
aloof to the moment’s unwillingness
to immerse itself in us

Second Rotation

Tell me they do that even a Jew has a place to go after death
bet he’s looking down on me smiling now
as I look away from his moment
to consecrate my own
eerily his music casts its’ faint spell
and for a time this dusty clam of a universe
is alight with the vigor of a more manly epoch
always back then
or over there
never seems to be right here except
when Singer sings to you
like he sang to me just now
reason for pause
perhaps even a reflective tribute

Third Rotation

Smoke rises more clearly in your lungs
when it hasn’t been pushed down by continual puffing
or maybe that’s just flu season overcoming us
still
to cough despite not smoking
is reason enough to smoke anew
as if the fates were bound
to chuckle at you
little man
fine fellow adjusting this and that
tinker with life
like a tinkerer tinkers with grandfather’s clock
the tick-ticking is an achievement
to be proud of
not an ominous reminder
that time’s running out
and all your tinkering
is for naught.

Fourth Rotation

Dusk is cut from a different cloth these cold winter days
there seems to be a numberless shade of cadet blue in the skies
when autumn no longer reflects itself in the closing hours
and the Earth is coated in its’ stayed vapid white preserver
the sunset no longer inspires
so much as it looms

Fifth Rotation

How preferable; this season when color has been cut from existence
and daytime is only a shade of the darkness to come,
to the lover’s sweet springtime illusion
whose warm embrace softens us for the dull thud
of a summer’s day that seems to last forever
when in fact it’s numbered
like the love it carries in its’ bosom

Sixth Rotation

There it shines
from dawn’s early light
to the nighttime that seems to crawl
over us at a snail’s pace
humanity’s star raining rays of life
now illuminates the cold death
like the living bury the dead
spending tears on spent dust
so the seasons turn, I guess
that even the Sun pauses every so often
to consider the hoarfrost
leaving us to blow trembling bursts of air
fits of supplication hoping
that a spark of the Divine star
crackling in an iron box
might take flight
huddling round the heat almost lets us forget
just how much we resemble the moon
pass our own terminator sometime
and we might remember
if we could just turn away from the calenture
and find the strength for a moment of torpidity
somewhere frigid and dark enough for our eyes
to be the only guiding light
and our bodies the sole source of heat

Seventh Rotation

The writing on the wall
doesn’t look very promising today
still intelligible.
only when the shadows cease being our friends
do we truly open our eyes
to what stands behind them
seek out the puppet master
sagacious scribbler
dancing fool
chase your own tail
while you’re at it

Eighth Rotation

A man can think up a million ways
to make life difficult for himself
so I can understand why half the time
he doesn’t think
what I don’t get
is how he can abide
the simple life
the bourgeoisie “yes” and “no”
that tells a weary traveler that he’s safer now
eating eggs and bacon at midnight
on the side of a bucolic Michigan road
wondering at what cost
this happy condition was bestowed upon him
washing away the doubts
with coffee refills
that mystic rule of thumb
that presumes modern plumbing
and common sense
so incomprehensible to the world at large.

Ninth Rotation

Told me too they did
before I took off to go land
that drinking ice-cold water can make a man sick
so hold the ice
no shaking or stirring
just blank looks on both sides of the Atlantic
and a queasy sense
making its way through your stomach
that your role in all this
is to piss everybody off
no matter where you are

Tenth Rotation

So there you go crawling under the covers again
while a picture perfect moon just outside your window
seems to do the same
crawling under charcoal clouds
obfuscating and beclouding their illuminator
‘if,’ you wonder aloud, ‘something like that is even possible’
but how else would you describe what your eye spied
moments before the delirium of sleep sedated
your mind wandering the night sky
which just as well could have signified the daytime
since her colors were an ecstatically woven
contradistinction
to the mean variations of the passing day
What was it they said?
admiring the simpler virtues
of work and family?
damned if I know but
it sounded too good to be true
surely some rote satisfaction
lurks beneath the surface
when you throw on a pair of $100 jeans
to go dig ditches
in the middle of nowhere
the only diesel engine in sight
is your body
mindless in its’ habitual labor
the owl of Minerva
has purposefully taken flight
not sure of its’ direction
only of the urgency with which
it needs to shed awareness of the present
in order to absorb it anew
lest the present kill you
with its’ dig-write-eat-sleep-dig melody
pounding your brain into jelo
like when you wedge your shovel
just under that frozen layer of Earth
it peels off quite nicely
as if the world were an orange.
take heart, they’d say,
you’re still a most fashionable farmer
what with that crop of hair cut by scissors
“we don’t use scissors,” she tells me
prolonging my stay in the big smoke
waiting for the one guy who does
to open his shop at two o’clock
and hey presto
a man who isn’t a lawn mower
shows up for $15
so that now you can stand in the middle of no where
peeling the Earth
throwing her back upon herself
shifting the ground
as you shift your mind out of here
tell yourself you’re a spelunker
down here in your lonely cave
anything to make you feel better
“we possess art lest we perish of the truth,”
indeed?
then again, you consider,
pausing to shift from one side of your important hole
to the other
that ‘truth’ seemed to lurk everywhere you went
artist
your whole life is a “where?” never a “what?”
so where is this, your possession
your precious life preserver
seems to me, dig-flip-pat,
it’s all in your head
the truth slipped under the moonlit clouds last night
as you slipped under the covers

Eleventh Rotation

and sometimes you manage to remember yesterday
by the color of the leaves
that’s your calendar now
Thursdays and Mondays and all that jive
don’t mean a thing here
yesterday was a frightening day
when you woke up to the morning massacre
nature’s dead, raped by winter’s rime
having been laid to rest
in the calm breeze
of last years autumn night
but that was centuries ago now
there’s only a lackluster, misty
antecedent to the night called
‘day’ which is a full rotation
a cycle in your is-ing penetrated every so often
by the moment
when the worldliness of the world
is brushed away forevermore
or did you think yourself immortal?
little leaf, little trace of Hoarfrost’s transgressions

Twelfth Rotation

Robert Frost
appears on the horizon
where his mending wall should be
calling out to remind you
just how naïve you’ve been all along
for reading his drivel
and rather than saying ‘Elves’
saying it on your own
because the stone carrying savage
is a world away from tossing stones at him
preferring to toss it on the wall
they’ve come together to lay
and maybe he can question the effect
but don’t question the intent
what ribs him is whether
a fence makes for good neighbors
have a neighbor who doesn’t know the word
and you have friends
like Agathocles had
who need to be changed
as only the Florentine could
try to ask them to mend a wall
get up close and personal
by all means
only arm yourself
because the closer you get
the closer you’ll be
there’s no distance in his face
just the crude expression
of a two pint half whit
a savage shorn of his stick
stuck in the modern world
oblivious to your orchard
oblivious to you
oblivious period
and no, no, you say, with Robert,
“If I could put a notion in his head,”
tells you that he hasn’t got one
a head that is
making art’s purpose clear
because you’d probably die
if you had to look at that stump
masquerading for a fella’s head
no spring mischief there, Robert
no tragic mending walls to be built
just a concrete barrage
bad art?
worse science

Thirteenth Rotation

Then the game begins
Settling in dayness
Measured in keystrokes
make a Muse of your misery, poet
sing an ode to your back breaking toil:

24 rounds round the clock
carry forth that concrete block
strain your back and flex your arms
savor your strength; your lucky charms
insist as an old Sailor rests weary
that fatigue is boring and dreary
so forward march and on you go!
trudge heroic through winter’s snow
hah! – look askance at innovative flare
question your strength science would dare?
better hoof it, burly beams on back
than on a wheel barrel neatly stack
still if your elder does insist
you’d do well not to resist
it goes quicker and hey, you’re done
a pity you’ve nothing to do for fun
run back inside then, double speed !
flip open Heidegger; pretend to read
knock-knock on your skull
hopefully inspiration isn’t null?
might as well sit down and write
nothing else to do late night
wisdom thus shows its self
the last resort; a pitiful pelf
muscles tense, pulse beats fast
enjoy your youth until the last
death surrounds in snow white blur
its’ reminder lurking in old cat’s fur
20 years of purring and meows
poor old cat finds it hard to rouse
one eye blind, his legs slowly numb
the noble Persian’s time has come?
dies like Socrates he does, sans hemlock
what with legs being first to go out of stock
still he feasts  on raw meat with joy
savoring life; a child’s grand toy

Fourteenth Rotation

Tells me he does while I’m digging ditches
that where and when
make for the limits of what
who even
cares when you’ve covered all the bases?
been there, done that
Suddenly, the rustle of trees
blowing in the wind
is replaced by the rustle of chatter
blowing amidst the smoke
of the one café in this forsaken land
that tries to remind you of another
the one in Union Square
that you never went to really
preferring to sit under Washington’s main
while black shadows threw kicks and
white trash threw up – or was that you
down at the Lansing Vu
more drunk off women’s perfume
than old American blues
as usual – you’re just passing by
your autumn wind pocket
lasts a bit longer than that
of the leaves
your arc somewhat wider
and the black girl standing by the café register
who’d melt into the Manhattan skyline
or make you feel out of place
in downtown Detroit
suddenly becomes unique
against Warsaw’s eternal winter white
here she’s got a story to tell
its moral?
inimitability is a question of place and time
‘might as well be in Ukraine
Warsaw chic is orange these days’
you note with the pathos of a man
who’s seen this stuff before
the stuff of revolution and the tragic ease
with which a color captures a man
but as long as your old cat
and the old flower lady
making her rounds in the café
keep coming by to vie for attention
you know you’re safe
a good thing too, breathing easy is hard enough
Warsaw air saturated leaded smog
relic of a fifty year lull
might as well smoke up then
and feign fashionable pleasure
with each dragging day
wondering whether fifty years from now
your important life
and important loves
and important thoughts
and important tastes
won’t be just another fifty year lull
that someone notes in passing
as if human life were born
with him
a relic of fifty years of five year plans
and then it strikes you that maybe
you ought to dig your ditch and stay in it for good

Fifteenth Rotation

Nausea can’t come soon enough
when that old man yonder
can’t die soon enough expecting
to catch one last glance amidst
the mist of an empty prison, a
squirrel cage too rusted, worn
and frail so give it another
disjointed spin long awaited
is the silent supplication of
a dying God…? His crutch his
cross your heart and hope
to die is not the question only
an answer to all your doubts
because He won’t listen until
you take another spin-in
the squirrel cage.

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