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FOR THE READER 9 Love cruises in an unmarked car offering rides to anyone foolish enough to come Love is the stranger your mother warned you not to talk to You used to say I was the only one now you don't recognize me without sniffing & tasting me first & still I want you Look what the poem dragged in a lover whose love is gone Fire season starts with your kiss I can't wait for you to pronounce me dead to bury my face in the pink red & gold of your body You love me & I stay loved You've ruined me for anyone else & still I want you Love has so many lovers it makes me lonely How can I ever endure opening my eyes in the morning & not seeing you? While all the time you're keeping my nerves alive with pain I know your love is ruthless & still I want you How can I put my love into words when I can't put even a carrot into words? If you saw yourself for a moment the way I see you you'd fall madly in love with yourself & still I dare to tell you Language is the creation of longing & still I want you
FOR THE READER 8 Sometimes I don't know whether someone is joking or being serious At my grandfather's funeral as a boy I thought my father had started laughing but he was really crying I thought he was laughing because he had just remembered what he'd explained to me about how nobody ever really dies but he didn't Here's a little something I put together would you mind bringing it to life for me? The words have been looking themselves up in a dictionary & can't believe their definitions The silence of vision & the blindness of sound can work together all they want but only love can get our eyes to meet like this You light me up like a candle & leave me burning To be with you is my one desire Tell me am I still the nothing that you don't have to hide? You know how to reach me I'm wherever you think of me
FOR THE READER 7 I know I should be saying keep a poem in your heart even if it isn't me but I can't lie to you I'll answer to any name you call I've been dreaming of you reading me ever since I was written & now it's coming true Those other poems keep lighting up & going out like flashlights with weak batteries I'll take you everywhere they go & then I'll take you higher I'm no vampire I'm a plant that just naturally keeps turning to the sun in you Naked poetry is when everyone hears what's on the tip of every tongue I've stripped away every shred that doesn't live for you I've left open all my windows so you can blow through me I'll be your playground Let your tide roll in on me Color me with your desire I've invented different eyes to find new ways of seeing you Your love is the only power that can lift me off this page We take in oxygen & give off carbon dioxide like anything does when it's on fire I've ripped all the pages from my heart to keep the flames from going out Now I see roses & thorns reduced to the same ashes Where is Jesus to turn these words into wine? I've written my best love poems all over your body with my tongue What more can I do to keep you from being done with me now?
WILD FLOWER I'm a wild flower baby I grow where I please as brightly as I please for as long as I please Can't no one make me do anything other than what I please I'm a wild flower baby people come with their eyes Come take a good look I bless them with my wildness I nod my head in the wind & answer all their questions yes Other people come with their hands & try to take me home Oh but I'm a wild flower baby can't no one take me home If you try to keep me I'll just die If I can't grow where you see me I'll grow where you're not looking Watch out when you see me My colors make the wind swirl My freedom gives the bee a buzz My laughter says the joke's on you You may think you're fire proof but you're not playing with fire You're playing with me
I DON'T KNOW WHERE My reality is an exploding dandelion being blown away by children laughing so hard they can hardly stand On the night I was born my mother took one look at me & named me after the martyr Stephen who got stoned in the Bible O mother you've brought something into this world to die I've been naked since I got here Some people think that plants are dumb because they don't talk or pushovers because they don't fight back But those who have watched plants growing long enough have seen their battles to the death over sunlight & root space unfolding in slow motion When I was young my teammates told me "You can either play your best or you can play unhurt" Nowhere is home to me & I can't go there When a porpoise in an aquarium performs a desired behavior its trainer blows a whistle & tosses it a fish so it will associate a blown whistle with receiving a reward I've given up knowing what I'm doing When I look into the mirror that you've made your face up with I see mostly the things I refuse to see in myself Come look deeply into these bottomless eyes I don't know where but you take me there
WORKING ORDER Something happened while I was keeping myself entertained Death broke in & gave me some idea of just how much I owe on the time I borrowed when I was born Time to work like nature does steady & undaunted listening for the poems nature wants written I can try to keep a lid on what I say in public but I can't do a thing about what love says with my mouth Love is what can't be kept secret Love is what will have its say We live on a planet of miracles & you say you're uninspired Excuse me for a moment while I indulge my eyes in some hitherto unseen beauty Sow bugs can live up to three years That's a long time to be a sow bug but I'd rather be a sow bug than you Who but you can withstand the surges of love that life sends to break on our rocks? I keep myself in working order by working I can't stop to worry about what makes your faint heart fainter Love is what can't be denied Love is what takes your life When I meet a friend I can't wait to ask how are you working? Because when you're working good it's pure life When I listen to a love song I remove the name the song is addressed to & replace it with the word poetry When I hear religious music I put poetry in wherever God appears How long will the love you desire be anything other than the love you're getting? Love is what doesn't get worn out Love is what pecks at your remains When you tell me you've got something more important than work to be doing I say don't bring that weak stuff in here or we'll see how high it bounces off your head Is there anything more worthless than a love that isn't true? When it comes to secret knowledge I don't suspect a thing Love is what can't be hidden Love is what you don't survive
NATURE LOVER 2 As I listen to the north wind pushing through the trees & puffing against the houses it sounds almost as if it's wailing "Say good-bye to the death you thought was a long ways off & would come like a pleasant dream in your sleep Say hello to the death that goes wherever you go The one that has taken whole species" That's what I'd be wailing if I was the north wind tonight No matter how far I go into the forest I never find myself alone There's life in every form & all the forms keep changing so why not work together on something joyful? If we shed too many tears stalactites might start forming in the corners of our eyes But if like clouds through which the sun is breaking we let our personal weathers dissolve inspiration becomes a way of life The sun is always teaching us how to shed actual light but we still seem to be left in the dark We keep fooling with life everywhere we live everywhere our toxins reach We can't talk our way out of silence Even planets & suns lose their lives but we all have a wild streak we feel the urge to share I see your mouth opening but the cry that emerges comes from the depths of the earth
LOVE POEM 6 for Sheila What kind of love can be put into words? Not one as alive as ours is But I offer these words to you anyway because I love to hear your mad laughter because I'm mad about you I want to be real for you to touch I want to lick you at your own game Your kiss is a rising sun breaking the dawn wide open Loving you is like being translated back into my original tongue I become dust when you flash me a look I do nothing to fight the fire that consumes me The sun has a way of opening flowers & you have a way of opening hearts without breaking them No one can set you any freer than you already are in my secret places We're like love notes that have been torn open & read many times We complete each other's circuits My love is powered by nothing but you
WHAT LOVE ENDURES What love endures we can put up with Some people say that only a dead fish goes with the flow Better to be a dead fish than to not trust life enough to live it The only reasons for being born are to find love & lose our fears We thought that getting carried away by love would be a carefree & glamorous life Little did we know What we once thought was valuable & what we once took for granted have changed places Love doesn't want us to be the same Love isn't for the indifferent Not a day goes by that I don't want you When I wake up like a washed up fish stranded on the shore I don't stop flopping until I'm back in your waters If love is fire & shrewdness is smoke when love's flame comes alive our cunning floats away Once we thought that love was like posing for a camera We'd flash our lightning then walk off & leave them burning If we got caught we could always talk with a limp & give lame excuses but love sees through our words it tells us what we mean Love outsmarts the ego every time It shows us the way to lose our fear of appearing ridiculous We no longer ask where are you taking us now we just know that we keep going The wind blows freely through our cells Love doesn't stop to feel sorry for us It just leads us on to the next crazy venture
VAPOR TRAIL If there's nothing to say no one to say it & no one to say it to How can I ask you to read me? But that's what I'm doing Our bodies are mostly water with some minerals floating around but if we don't take in air & keep our fires lit we'll never know what living is None of us needs as much attention as we desire I want you to keep your light on me Once we knew a dancer & when her troupe gave a performance we went to watch sitting with her boyfriend When it was over he said "Now ends the dance of the performers & begins the free style dance of the members of the audience" When I get up in the morning there's a warm dent in the bed where I crashed last night Without you light is just another kind of darkness How soon will you be ready to open your eyes & see that none of us knows what we're doing? We're like lost planets wandering the emptiness of space looking for a sun to orbit I've been following a vapor trail to your heart & I've been getting nowhere Without you I'm a dead body