Thursday, September 29, 2016

Japanese Temple Room

On a bench in the Temple Room
in the Museum of Fine Arts
I sit in the gaze of seven

wooden Japanese figures.
Modeled on the eighth century
main hall of the monastery

of H­­ōryū-ji, the room centers
on Dainichi, the Buddha
of Infinite Illumination, flanked

on his right by Amida, Buddha
of Infinite Light. Lesser idols
deployed. All of painted

cypress or camphor, some gilt
trimmed, all casting shadows
that grow restless as I watch.

Often I’ve sat here stewing
in the miasma of a silence
so personal it has consumed

most of my waking life. Now
idolatrous shadows animate
to incite me to revive myself

in the last decade of my life
and feed my ego to the dark.
One of the shadows raises a hand

over its head as if to fling
something large to shatter me
into fragments that would suggest

those Chinese scholars’ rocks
coughed up by the planet
in whimsical volcanic moods.

The shadows crowd toward me
to claim my own weak shadow,
incite it to rebel against me.                                      

So I should escape this room
and return to well-lit galleries
where tourists browse with faces

too innocent to catch the movement
of self-animated artworks,
too focused to allow their shadows

to mingle with antiquity
and four-dimensional religions
too oblique for me to ignore.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Finally... a poem about Donald Trump

Stumped by the Trump, who defies delineation, I stumbled half-unconsciously into this poem. Only sometime after writing it did I realize what it was about.

Of Course It’s Political

A gelatinous mound shuffles
across the landscape. Harmless
but filthy, it slops like blubber

in a Turkish bath. Photographs
snapped by tourists can’t capture
its essence: a stink of intellect

malnourished for many decades
but fueled with legal paperwork
no one has the patience to read.

Shuddering, I follow the mound
along a narrow country road
and into a lowland spackled

with glacial accidentals huge
as mobile homes. The squish
and splatter of unorganized

protoplasm nauseates, but
dogged as evolution itself
I track the mess to its lair

in a cellar hole where crows
perpetuate atonal rackets
and an army of mice redoubts.

I want to debrief this creature,
if it is a creature, and write
the history of its appetite,

complete with pastels and stars,
plastic, metal, wooden flavors
tainting its grave transparency.

Of course it’s political: its bland
expression, its clumsy outreach
that has slimed so much acreage

that fire departments of several
communities are hosing down
slick roads to prevent collisions.                            

I want to learn from it, but sighs
of fetid if harmless gases
are its only articulation;

and looking straight at it
I’m looking right through it
and suspect it isn’t there.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Woman with Wings

A woman confronts a photo
of another woman with wings.
The winged woman poses before
a tower crane that poses in turn
before a distant cityscape.
Although the burnished tangerine
gown that drapes her geometry
features elegant corrugations
that would surely trip her in flight,
her wings look too feathery
to brace all that fashion aloft.
The woman observing may think
these doubtful appendages fail
to justify so much wall space
in this worldly, pricey museum.
Without creeping closer and spoiling
the tableau, I can’t determine
if those wings have grown fresh
from the subject’s sexual ethos
or whether from early childhood
she enjoyed deep alar passions
that have fruited in this display.
Maybe she hasn’t actually flown
on those flimsy accessories
but will launch herself as soon
as the photographer has finished.
Maybe the woman onlooker
would like to have wings of her own
and will go home determined
to grow them despite the fear
this ambition stirs in her partner
and friends. I want to tell her
to go ahead and will her wings
to sprout from her naked back,
maybe after a strenuous bout
of routine lovemaking. Maybe,
though, she just wants to drape
herself in tangerine and pose
before a distant smiling city
where tower cranes peck at
the landscape like blue herons
pecking meat from minor species.