in the darkened nursery

in the darkened nursery
rows upon rows of silent jack-in-the-boxes all paint furiously away at their faces
pasting glitter on red-rouged cheeks, gloved hands adjusting a cherry the size of a nose
preparing for the morning, when all the little jacks hear the gruesome jingling that means
	someone else was the one to be loved
and cry real tears out of wooden eyes.

Actors associate with actors

Actors associate with actors;
the feel of ignorant innocents
who cannot imagine
the instant rapport of backstage support
or the intense intimacy
unreal relationships assume
steals their fantasy,
the myriad lives they exist in
in the perspiring adulation
of the spotlight.
Actors associate with actors.

They all want to play at life.

They all want to play at life.
They have not exactly gone to college.
Nor gotten their girlfriends pregnant,
Nor seen a best friend falling with booze gagging the throat,
Not exactly seen their mothers lying in hospital beds
	dying in deadflower-smelling sheets,
Not exactly this have they gotten at nor the meaning of
	responsibility -- O responsibility, responsibility given by an uncaring
	sequence of events -- in the most joyous life the Lord, God gave to man
Yet they all want to play at life because it is free
	like all children were free and to stand by a red
	Corvette with its keys in the hand and then
	to say over sexy and say over sexy loving, flirtatious
	meaningless words masking a heart's doubting,
This is something that calls and calls to their blood.
They are dreaming when they talk about it and they know
	it is dreaming to be particular about it and yet:  They
	all want to play at life.

the three year olds prance out

the three year olds prance out, nervous under the hands
of strong silent trainers who have had many young
thoroughbreds under their calm cautious hands.

It isn't that makes a winner.
Always some scrub is coming under the wire, some gelding
with no pedigree, a day, a drawer of carts
who has nothing but heart.

The fast lose their hopes of speed in the pack of horses,
hooves pounding up to hit and gouge
and always another challenger pulling alongside.

It takes courage to keep coming on
to find dreams in dust and never slow down.
It takes memories of days of pulling carts
to gallop through a mile and a half and never give in.

It takes more than speed to win a race here.  Each one is a test
of gameness, of what makes a sprinter a classic.

The trainers drop soft blankets on sweating backs
and rub velvet-dark noses.  They know
about determination.  They have seen many young thoroughbreds
come and go.

out of nothing at all

delicate notes tripping across the stage, stray notes of dust
	reflecting prisms in the spotlight
power building intensity, straing, the tearing
		octave-jumping cry:
				Out of nothing at all
the shout of a defiant young god blazing from the sound system
	calling light out of space and the stars out of time
in a strideful lament battering out against the walls of the stadium
	notes glancing off like baritone thunderbolts
and yet, his melody falls back, not enough
	to defeat the rules his universe governs by
				out of nothing at all.
The fading boast lingers in the auditorium
before dissolving into the audience, a whisper in the shadow of echoes
				out of nothing at all

i’m not afraid of dying

i'm not afraid of dying
that's strange, because i've always heard
that normal people can't conceive of their own deaths.

i'm not normal, i guess
because i'm thinking of killing myself
and it doesn't scare me
it doesn't scare me at all

and that scares me
a little
because i want to die

and i don't know what's wrong with me

*** I wrote this 30 years ago. I'm not suicidal anymore, thank God. ***

every other week

every other week
at sun worship time
the heavy, rose-stomping creature
tear us into fertilizer
for the snobbish trees
delaying us in our plans
to reach God.

every other week
our fight to touch Sol is defeated
beginning over again the next Godrise
twenty-six times a year
we fall helpless,
our sunstretch dead
and yet we grow.

end of a season

end of a season
for the immortal trees
end of a lifetime
for the ephemeral leaves
once red and green
barely born
now brown and gold
ready to fly
the trees do not need
their children
their bright-colored ornaments
It is the leaves
the fallen fragile
who can no longer
sing the wind.