I enter this tent
baring arms to the thief,
charting threads representing fresh marks of superiority,
a knotty fugitive, sparing no friend, no city,
nosing for booty, until its nose is bent.
Gritty bitter but better nerves down,
this soldier grows bolder whisper by whisper,
proving with scientific uncertainty,
this early 21st Century gown,
unravels from his master's spool,
a dark-eyed blue clown.
Obama the handpicked emperor,
wobbling village sector nefarious
smudges past ink spillage of his own 1980s
still feeling like yesterday will never arrive.
Ignoring the Reagan Years
except when hurling rocks against them
clowns, one show at a time, the Baltic seasons
drew nexus from the hidden years themselves
bunched among hallowed groundswells
of odd manners
like putrid oranges on dirty carpets
sickly sweet among the street gross
standards of contemporary
inspection and high alert.
Fortunately, this old branding
knuckled us the gist and viscera
to strike through any earlier bromide kills
the long dead rope of imagination collapsing
youthful nights churning on digital promise
sealed haircut pretense looking for the quick thrill,
that ample insight, this sudden urge.
Live not a judgement call, but a hard fast slider
licking the dusty ranges of home plate,
we, swinging for the fences
(those few of us who had both
earned the right
and still revered the mighty
and ubiquitous American sports metaphor
generally missing among the tragically hip).
Damn that! Yes Almighty, we the poseurs.
cheering art world outliers. Punk of the year,
bored, drunk, fagged, foul, frank and disorderly,
many of us by nature, others by chance, a few
by intelligent design. We had copped
to the idea that we were nothing
but youth wasting on the bones
of youth. Many would perish
like cunning sundown poets
hurling soup kitchen lines
past the eager and the vaguely forewarned.
Nothing is more rooted in uncertainty
than the brash certainty of youth. Torn oscillating spirit
between nature and nurture, the driven scorn
and the sluggard worn, we dare now, after all
these scantily clad years to remember, not
that we ever forgot, but that we were born,
as generations are born, to stride onward
synthetic, owning the lucid task,
framing imperfect the flaccid context,
alienation the fallen piazza.
Flower power and victimology 101,
the vain hope, the crude struggles for distinction
generating enough peer memory to matter
somewhere somehow something like that
because precisely one proud
and princely thing was certain (recalling our
prior words just now) back then, and that was
we knew we had our bright eyes sullen
and our frank fists founded
on some fair future with all its revelations
ripened to emerge.
And in these trenches
where junior jackboots coughing
and lacy fetish brassieres bumping begged to differ,
on our tongues the frequent riddle
of turnabout is fair play, we also spoke
to a society still girded and burdened in spades.
The poem, the street sheet, an army of one
to come. First bounce in black magic
marker calligraphy on pink
in Corpus Christi, Tay Hass, we
again whistled a sudden work of literature
within days of that fog-inspired scrawling.
A broken beast, velocity learned,
alternate receiver comes limping but dangerous
into our ancillary cage snapping all records
for glory and shame. Such was and is still
my quantum luck with immutable timing.
[ 2010, Washington DC ]