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Dawn --
half the moon sticking out of
the sky's pocket.

Can't snooze -- outside
a starter motor whines, whines,
whines -- won't catch.

Hand on soft white ass
this morning -- why is it

We make the bed
tight, neat, a place where nothing
could have happened.

White sheet, gray dawn light...
a cardinal wins the day
with flying colors.

Faint crescent moon
there, just above the chimney --
sky lint.

Paw pricks in new snow
point to the dazzle of our
backyard, strange to me.

After morning shower,
sunlight through green elms and steam,
taste of toothpaste.

Five a.m., but can't
get back to sleep. Autumn sky.
I'm wide and awake.

Five a.m., but can't
get back to sleep.
Autumn sky.

The above two poems are similar. The second one is almost too simple to be a poem, but it may reverberate if you think how, even in bed with eyes closed, one senses that high dry clear autumn sky above the house. The first one isn't satisfied with that, doesn't trust the reader to feel this, so tries to give the reader more for his imaginary money by adding a witty line, the play on "wide awake", but here the waker feels wide (expanded), as if he or something he partly is has opened up into a larger sky. I think that's clever, but the second one is closer to haiku. The haiku places more trust in the reader.

Sunrise. Blank grayness
ripples - a lake! Thrash from reeds...
vanished - a bird.

Grey morning, breakfast done -
why am I rereading
the cereal box?

Waking to bird calls -
a design in yellow thread
edging a green quilt.

Gray-brown traffic noise
saturates the morning's

Last night, ice cream,
this morning gray drizzle:

The plop refers to the drizzle, but also, for many of us, to morning-after digestive difficulties with ice cream.

Dirty white mountains
horizoned yesterday's curb,
today - gone.

Blizzard - this morning
the whole world has vanished
in a twinkling.

I like the way snow twinkles (especially in the sun after a blizzard), but "twinkling" (of snow or stars or eyes) has become a platitude. I try to revive the word here by combining two equally platitudinous senses of the word: The world has vanished into the twinkling snow and done so in an instant (a twinkling). Every family has it's pet word used to teach the children to do their business. In our family (maybe in yours?), to pee was to "tinkle". This has added much silly significance to the tinkle of bells and perhaps infested twinkle with it's childish leer. "Tinkle, tinkle, little star."

Spring morning walk:
For each of my steps
the child takes two.

Morning bird cries
here...there...there... - corner
boundless space for dreams

"Corner" here is a verb, with the noun sense implied. The birds corner (surround) a space by forming the corners or key defining points of it with their sounds.

Winter morning -
like a blanket, aroma
of baking bread.

I was walking cold, icy streets when this aroma wrapped around me. There was a large bakery in the neighborhood.

How do I reach whoever,
this morning, uses my gut
as a beeper?

Sunrise touches
pale flowers, turning each
to gold.

Autumn morning,
soft heft of air,
lilt of light.

Ho hum, too many pretty sounds. However, it is interesting to me how the first moment of a fine day fills me up, just that first sense of light and air and fragrance and season makes me feel complete. If I then tell myself, it's a beautiful day and I really should spend more time in it, an element of effortful duty infiltrates the joy of the day, already possessed. It's like trying to capture what I already have. Not that a walk might not be fun, but it doesn't work if it's an attempt to wring more beauty from the day. The day gives its all right away.

You look harmless this
morning, penis. Is this, too,
part of being a man?

For me, even in my 60s, such contemplations of man's tiny, helpless, unaroused member are short-lived, since that member still responds to attention - in fact, "attention" is the operative word.

Waking. My hand rests
on your thigh, a gull asleep
on the breathing tide.

Newspaper on the table.
Out the window, leaves, deep sky--
nothing new.

Late fall wind
in bare trees outside
the shower-steamed bathroom window.

Hard to doze after the alarm.
Will I say the right things
this wet day?

Half-awake: shower
hits...neck, I have a neck...

Eyes closed, but awake,
looking at...gray spots? How will I
see without eyes?

The unstated thought after "gray spots" is, what if I didn't have eyes?

On the scale
a number and, in a row,
ten dumb toes.

First light -- a room
full of things. I live here
with someone's things.

By the bed, a pen,
notebook, these words, how they fit!
Almost mine.

This may be about making words fit and owning them. Or it may be about waking up and taking ownership of the things near the bed (including a notebook and words written the night before) as they emerge from unreality.

What's too new to stroke --
fresh paint, a bud, a wound --
is sticky.

Morning car sounds,
scissors slicing through cloth
without snipping.

That is, by the way, how cloth cutters work when they make long straight cuts. They slice right across without snipping. (I used to have a summer job at the place where my Dad worked. They made car seat covers. You'd lay out 60 layers of cloth from a roll, slicing across to cut off each one.)

Morning. Good thing
these car sounds in my head
didn't bring the cars.

This is a child's thought, just childish enough to be too silly to be silly, that is, to be haiku. The thought, in case it was too silly and obvious for you to catch, is that it's a good thing only the sounds came into my head, because a head full of cars would be awkward.

Lying here, relaxed,
distant sounds instantly
extend my limits.

Morning -- rain?
Or am I inside the heart
of a small bird?

This is what I'd call a "lovable" poem, the sort of poem that passes for a classic in the making. For that reason, it may last a while, but then someone is going to say, "Isn't it just a bit precious?" Yes, isn't it, but it's nice to know that I, too, can do precious. Sorry to critique my own poem, thus insulting those who like it. I once said of my own work that occasionally a lyrical line enters, seeking martyrdom. I usually prefer my haiku dry.

Gray sky. Overslept.
Late. Tired. Don't want to be here.
Move, feet. This will pass.

Snazzy Black man,
alone, squinting, leery
of Manhattan daylight.

In my cab-driving days, when such folks often hailed my cab around burned-out dawn, they were inevitably pimps, high-heeled, slickly coifed, etc. (Not all pimps drove purple cadillacs with gold trim and transparent domes back in the 70s.) Some of them acted like TV pimps. Some of them were just duded-up nice guys. One talked to me the whole trip uptown about how worried he was about "his girls" and the difficulty of keeping them out of trouble, off drugs, etc. I believed him. there went another stereotype. Just about all the girls on the street were black and/or Puerto Rican. One pimp explained to me, you knew we were in a recession when white whores showed up on the street. Sure enough, the economy sagged, said the papers, and next day the all-Black brigades along lower Lexington Avenue had white recruits. (I guess during better times, when people could afford expensive dates, whites were call girls, so didn't have to do "cold calls" from the street.)

Gray dawn. The Fourth
Brandenburg doesn't give a damn!
"Make my day," says Bach.

Great waking-up music from clock radio on a dreary day.

L.A. magic:
The sun rises and vanishes
into thick air.

A cheap joke. Magic is supposed to vanish things into thin air, but thin air is hard to find in some smoggy cities, though it is seldom that even L.A. smog could swallow the sun.

Rusty oak leaves
land on a soaked newspaper.
Morning drizzle.

Our trumpeting
morning farts -- who needs
an alarm clock!

Note to the unwed: It helps a marriage if both eat and suffer through the same diet. Such early morning productions are best co-created. Otherwise one is likely to kick the other out of the bedroom.

Sun! Snail into shell,
I duck under the blanket
and creep toward waking.

Each morning my tongue
wears a gray coat,

Another senryu in thin haiku disguise, depending on the double meaning of "revolting", since the Confederate "Rebels", like my morning tongue, war gray coats (though actually, I read, most of them wore gray-brown cloth described as "buttermilk". How could one shoot buttermilk people? I wonder if it would upset the enemy if we went into battle wearing pink gowns.)














Loss and Loneliness and aloneness


Old Age


A Poet's Life








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