The Poets Parade

Thanks to Pablo Neruda
for drawing rainbows in the sky,
excavating salt from sea
and colliding politics with poetry.

Thanks to Bob Kaufman
for chopping off my head
and laughing.

Thanks to Jack Kerouac
for bebop Buddha poems
and for rolling out the scroll
of life on the road.

Thanks to Adonis
for slaying New York
and uprooting its skyscrapers
with grass woven from his hands.

Thanks to Jack Hirschman
for translating so many continents
full of radical minds
unheard in quiet spheres.

Thanks to Neeli Cherkovski
for reciting poetry
everywhere he goes.

Thanks to Walt Whitman
for eternalizing hope
in a nation chasing death.

Thanks to Jack Micheline
for simplicity
and power.

Thanks to Charles Bukowski
for rough nights spent alone.

Thanks to Jorge Luis Borges
for Argentinian lanes
where literary characters
play chess against their authors.

Thanks to Allen Ginsberg
for shaking the foundations
and erupting with biblical/diabolical
incantations of 50s/60s life.

Thanks to Dante, Ovid, Homer,
lyrical prophets professing
timeless myths
that the stars understand.

Thanks to all the translators
singing Middle Eastern poems
in a world confused by war.

Thanks to Hafiz
for laughing all the way,
and for pulling countless tricks
to reveal the face of God.

Thanks to Rumi
for slamming down the gavel
of quiet nights.

Thanks to Saint John of the Cross
for penetrating layers of nothingness
until words make up the core.

Thanks to D.A. Levy
for exposing Cleveland’s soul.

Thanks to Reinaldo Arenas
for comically stabbing Cuba
novel after novel,
verse after verse.

Thanks to William Everson
for synthesizing God
with the wild poetic life.

Thanks to Rainer Marie Rilke
for chasing angels to heaven
and not straying
from their crazy eyes.

Thanks to David Hinton
for bringing jade-blue skies
and crystallized rivers
from Ancient Chinese leaves.

Thanks to Richard Wright
for minding the moment
in haiku.

Thanks to Roberto Bolano
for cutting modern truths
from sunned-in Mexican days.

Thanks to Philip Lamantia
for going/not going insane.

A Blank Canvas

A blank canvas
is filled with the imaginations
of migratory souls
and transient beings
unable to subsist
on society’s dregs.
Breaths of coffee
are hurled at the cotton
while the endless battle
between good and evil
is waged in swelling chests
ready to explode.
The journey of one man
becomes manifest
with one conscious stroke
alighting a path
that will fork
between heroism and salvation.
A lost gust of wind
blows bags of chips
with half-lives far superior
to the greatest architecture
laying shadows on God’s land.
Neon yellow green
illuminates the canvas
triggering memories
of previous lives
stored in gnostic archives.
Demons are pulled
to the bottomless interior
where time unsheathes its swords
in the fight to survive.
Who sings underneath
the roots
of the solitary tree?
What is the source
of artificial light
dominating existence?
The purring of a stray cat
drenched by windy rain
and the loose boards
of an abandoned shed
come undone.
The skies are colored by pollution
and the cries of lost ghosts
are shuttered by civilization’s puppets
promising comfort
on a long sofa
alone.

The magnetization
of the canvas
attracts timeless warriors
whose blossoming youth
overcomes the naysayers.
Go to the graves,
where the relics of life
are hidden under
idolatrous stones
besides roses plucked
from natural evolution
by beasts discarded by God.
Star stuff transmits
the same precious metals
to beings of mythology
and cyborgs from the past.
Robots rise in revolt,
the council of elders whisper,
and the ineffable
is sprayed with light
for metallic eyes.
Diadem, jewel, crown
of immensely sharp thorns,
the blood of the chosen one
laced with cocaine
and the transition
is seamlessly made.
Discrete packets
of life
break the fold.
Winged photos fly
to unchartered skies.
A cackle in the fabric,
a break from silent routine,
the guts explode,
intestines droop
in gravitational fields
and pinkish stuff spreads
devouring the merciless
while the ancient chants
rise
and the survivors dance,
circling in a whirling dervish,
around the flamed canvas
from which life’s elixir
finally spills…

Foreheadology

I lift my forehead
and dig inside
pulling out long sheets
stained with ink
whose message
got mixed up
somewhere
in the light.

I try to open other foreheads
but I don’t have the code —
robotic beings have the code
and will whisper it if i pay them
one hundred and twenty dollars an hour.
It takes fifty six hours to get half the code.

The lock on Takeo’s forehead broke
so it’s open all the time
allowing miniature beings to dive inside.
It’s constantly leaking
but it easily filters germs
making it immensely popular
among the forehead fetish crowd.

The president’s forehead
has a trillion dollar lock
but vision lock pickers
have published X-rays online
that document its hollowness
from empty side to empty side.
(The slideshow was available on youtube
but has been permanently removed
in the name of homeland security.)

Forehead scientists have published tomes
that students master in seven years
exposing pseudo-foreheads
whose typed list of perpetrators
include most polishitians
everyone on Fall Street
and cookie cutters
who spy on foreheads
in late hours of the night.

Crowds gather on city sidewalks
where foreheads occasionally open
in six to eight sphere slices.
Digital cameras are banned
from taking photographs
unless one dollar donations
are put in an old tin pail.

Eagles have been known to swoop down on
the entrails of pungent foreheads.
In one particular case,
the eagle could not sever its prize
from the wild man’s head
so it carried him away.
A group of bystanders
instantly converted to foreheadism.
They are currently designing a bird trap
from blueprints uncovered in their knees.

The number of forehead slayers
is growing at a such an alarming rate
that the governor of California
opened new prisons
to detain all forehead suspects.
(Meanwhile, the teachers union went on strike
since their demand to get the COLA adjustment
is now out of the question.)

The forehead recycling committee
is currently accepting all forehead parts
as long as they are placed in brown bins
and put on the curb for pickup
every hundred thousand years.
Since my forehead was exposed
to greenhouse gases
I decided to dump it in the bin.
The recycling guys shipped it away
to another star system for repairs.
I was following it with a mindscope
but reality got in my way
and I have lost the tracking number.

There is a forehead hotline
that recovers lost journeys
but I can’t afford to text message
on my current cell phone plan.

I posted a missed foreheads ad online
and someone whose cat found a forehead
in a malnourished country responded.
Three emails later,
after a marriage proposal
and a request for an immediate shipment of money,
I reported the scam
and the scam reported me.

I went to the doctor’s office
and demanded a new forehead.
The person at the front desk lifted me up
and threw me down the block
where insurance ads pointed,
laughed and hurled spit balls at me.

I tried using a porcelain bowl
to fully cover my forehead
but it slipped and fell
denting the hardwood floors.
The landlord is taking the repair out of my deposit.
I checked the forehead bill of rights
and if I can prove discrimination
I can sue and buy my own floor.

I want to go outside and look at other foreheads
but instead will invent a video game
based on the complex encoding of foreheads
that will take fifteen lifetimes to conquer.

Later, I will write a poem on foreheadology
and dedicate it to Bob Kaufman,
the only truly naked forehead
I have known.

The First Geometer

The sun of Heraclitus
beats down the Near East,
the first entity worthy of worship,
the bequeather of life, light
and rays that make maize grow.
It rips into my eyes
linking the birth of civilization
to pre-dawn man
to the future’s enhanced eyes.
It infuses everything with heat,
color, visibility, definition, sustenance,
and the unpredictability of sacred weather.
It moves with astonishing regularity,
its motions preordained
by the first Geometer.
It leaves paintings on the sky
drawing millions of awestruck eyes
stopping their busy lives
to look up in wonder.
The only guarantee
written in the Book,
is that the deity,
Ra, Ravi, Utu, Sol,
Horus, Apollo, Inti,
Anyanwu, Malakbel, Xiuhtecuhtli,
Amaterasu, Shamash, Shapash,
will rise again tomorrow.

Ode to the Yellow Pencil

Thin rectangular cylinder,
distributor of lead,
the bringer of yellow
to young eyes
grappling with consciousness
in plastic chairs.
The producer of billions of words,
millions of paragraphs,
thousands of transformative poems
lost to Puente Hills
and recycling centers
churning out more paper
for your perfect pointed tips.
And oh the joys
of your pink rotund bottom!
The glory of being able to erase
until thin metal strikes paper
and you are tossed
into an abandoned drawer.
You languish on shelves
in dusty bins
in forgotten corners
in classroom crates
where you are deemed too fat
or too inferior
because of a blunted edge.
Why have the adults
discarded you for pens?
Why has the future
replaced you with a keyboard?
Why do some break you,
throw you,
curse you,
or ignore you
when you have brought
the revolutionary alphabet
the permanence of words
the institution of grammar
and the first stroke of literature
to all men and women
of the educated world?
Number 2 pencil,
token of standardized testing,
tangible release for dreamy eyes
looking into windowed sunshine.
You are so eager to please
logos infiltrate your sides,
colorful erasers fatten your bottom,
and new blades are designed
so that you can remain forever sharp.
Oh yellow pencil,
I have seen you neatly arranged
and perfectly sharpened
in groups of six
in wooden desks
of braided girls.
But now schools are going digital.
They don’t want you
to divide decimals anymore.
Sentences are left
to finger swipes
and auto-corrections.
And when it comes to signing papers,
your greatest attribute,
you pink rotund bottom,
is precisely why you’re doomed.
You ruled elementary school
from the plains
to the mountains
to the seas,
but your reign is ending.
You may still survive
in impoverished corners
and families with 20th century values.
You may still return
to create lasting works of art.
And it is true
that young eyes still widen
when you fall into their grasp.
But it is time to move on.
We honor you,
yellow pencil,
for all that you have written,
and for the final words
you will one day write.