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My Boulevard of Dream

I stroll - downtown - in the spirit
of André Breton and the Surrealist boys
1920s Paris - score
at the tobacconist
reading as I walk
moving my lips as I read
parce que mon français
it's not so great
so even the hard case
wearing a belt of chains
a necklace of syringes
tattoos on her lips
sees me a mumbling my thoughts to myself person
and crosses to the darker side of Ninth Avenue

then a chance encounter
with a gaggle of kids
outside the pizza joint
just up from Reading Frenzy
a girl with buttered hair
and ten pounds of baubles
offers to set herself on fire
for five dollars
and a boy who could be my nephew
leaning on his yellow trumpet
tugs her jersey shirt and says
in a voice that cracks and breaks
early on the way to manhood,
sit down and eat

it's standing room only
at the coffee room at Powell's
so I continue on
the Pearl District
the galleries the lofts
- elegant dining
out on an old warehouse loading dock
just up from the streetcar tracks
a chill, winter of a Portland afternoon

drizzled out and overcast
around the corner from the fine wine shop
concrete decor très nouveau chic
I step into Torrefazione
order cappuccino - a double
and settle at a table in the corner
the ghost of Isadora Duncan
looks over my shoulder
and tugs my scarf
while I try to catch the words
that blow through my mind
and write them down
in the breath of the storm
that rises up in the unnamed
place beyond the fury
of what we think and feel and see

I look from my journal
where the black ink scrawl
lays open my heart
and gaze out the window
the river flow of humanity
all those long Modigliani faces
and finely turned ankles
- but for the tattoos
straight from a 19th century European novel
where nothing is explicit
but everyone knows precisely where babies come from

perhaps Vivaldi is on the stereo
or Puccini
and what gets me
the joint is more elegant than bohemian, okay
but it is still a coffee joint
and Vivaldi
I know it is too much to expect
Jean-Paul Sartre on speed
penning Critique of Dialectical Reason
at Café Deux Magots
but someone could be sketching furiously the scene
or reading Beckett in French
or at least The New York Review of Books

au contraire,
it's a cell phone and triple skinny latté crowd
out to gentrify my boulevard of dream
a refrigerated barista
with a boyfriend from Topeka
her cerulean blue toenails
and hieroglyph eyes
eyes me like I am maybe
a sex fiend wannabe
or third-rate poetry geek
took a wrong turn
bound for the demimonde
while a skinny woman
cubist cheekbones, sun-drenched hair
dressed like she is waiting for Mick Jagger
dances delicate fingers on the lip
of the espresso cup
like she might have been my cousin
she could have been my twin
her eyes are all ennui - and see -
into the life of things
and the furious pass't the years
threaten to become

at the table one over
blow-dried, buffed and suave
immaculate t-shirts designer jeans Nike Air
two fellas who spent the morning
at soccer practice with their daughters
before they hit the gym
talk startups and dot.coms
like they have stock options for brains
the one with the diamond
in his left ear lobe
cell phone in a leather holster on his hip
the office - wherever - he is
and forever -
pulls a laptop from his briefcase and logs on
to do a deal
it gets him off
he takes a sip
from his triple skinny latté
to mellow out -
and mentions how on the way home
he wants to pick up some flowers
because tonight he is going waltzing
with Matilda on her birthday

I think maybe I do not belong - here -
among these people - but
who among us knows enough -
to know enough - to know - much
too many are the secrets held in the heart
and concealed from the self
how we make ourselves who we are
upon this chiaroscuro boulevard
in light and shadow - bound

The Home of the Heart

When last I was home, I stopped by
The church of my childhood
To be for a moment again
With the ones who are gone -
Three buzzards in a line perched
On the steeple above the red door
Looked down on the graveyard below
And corn field beyond green
And shooting skyward in the spring
And gleam of the glistening sun -

I want to run like when
I was nine years old and
Sweat poured from me -
We chased balls, each in its season,
With grim and determined delight -
I lived even then in books
More than among friends
And took so much for granted
That has disappeared
All swallowed up in time -
I am amazed how
Much of it remains with me -

Through the hours of this day
And darkness of my night
When everything is thrown
Out of joint, I am astounded too
My little poems remain -
The moon in a flowered skirt
With a suggestive slit
Way up her shapely thigh -
A mountain with a great, green beard
And goof smile like an old and holy man
Come all the way from China
With a zafu strapped on his back -
A violinist whose fingers burn
The way a poem, a painting,
A concerto burns memory
Into my fevered brain -

Chance rhyme and metaphor,
An axe wedged in a block of wood,
Icy wind scatters oak leaves
At the dark end of this brief winter day
We think of as life - Born
Of books and romance
Immensity of sky
The passing of all things
The tenderness of your touch
And learning too late too little of love,
What are poems next
Everything that is gone
And so much that never was?
I long to bring it all back home -
A shard of memory that lies
With those bones in the red earth and
Shadow of that little church on the hill -

Today I linger in the maple shade
And memory of your so beautiful eyes
And the impossible belief in me
Held for one bare moment in this
Chorus of eternity and ending -
We are redeemed - such as we are -
By kindness - Your welcome of me
Into the home of your heart
Is much part of all that beauty
These little poems hold dear
For whoever among us
May notice - and remember -
With each breath that quivers
The spring air -