Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Resolution 2008

The garden though small
needs tending and time,
while we approach
the world though big
by baby steps.
The fear mongers
and the money men
wait in ambush for fools
taking giant frantic footsteps
without speaking the coda,
the key. Mother may I
protects baby’s foot pads
and seals hermetically the innards
of the rusting ship, sunken to lie
next to Jonah’s leviathan,
our twin who sails west
but arrives in the east
three days late and a dollar short
unexpected, unheralded,
undone, and unknown.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


He stands before polished glass
and greets his contrariness.
His simulacra balances on crystal shards
and questions the conjunction
of known and unknown,
of good and evil,
of real and imagined,
and finally of passive
and active energies.
He claps his hands
and his dualities splinter
into sparks of yellow and red
like spent embers
in the darkest night
or twins separated at birth,
alone on the earthen plane.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The mirror throws
the stone's subtle substance;
a red powder reflected
through his green
eye transforms
iron rods
into gold bars.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Blond Beast

I have finished the first re-write of Okeanus and have returned to The Blond Beast. Here is a cutting from near the end of the novel.

“Is Simone tied up in this story somehow?”

“Yes. She is very much involved in it. She is a perfect example of the innocence of youth. We arrive on this earth as an offspring of two people, who had a complicated existence and history before we take our first breath. We grow up thinking we are the center of the universe. We never look back and ask where we came from and who we are. We just push forward.

“Children are egotists. They think they are all knowing and universal. Their feelings are the world’s feelings.”

“I wish you could imagine the world in 1933. The people were different; they thought differently. Even the world smelled different. Now it is purified and perfumed. In 1933, you could smell people. There was no air conditioning, no shower in every apartment. People lived closer together, even though there were no cell phones. We wrote letters. We talked to one another. We didn’t spend the evening in front of a television.

“Imagine horse-drawn wagons on the streets of Berlin. Imagine the smell of horse droppings on the cobblestone. Imagine the smells of outdoor privies and coal-burning fires. Imagine butcher shops where the carcass of the dead animals hung in the window. Imagine men in uniform walking up and down the streets in the hundreds, in the thousands. Imagine the smell of fear in the air, as the great Nazi beast began to stir.

“I met your friend Sartre in 1934 in Berlin. He was a smelly little man. Quite unkempt, but smart, very smart. I remember drinking beer with him on the Unter den Linden. He was reading Heidegger and Husserl and he was full of their ideas. I had never heard of Heidegger before, but as Sartre talked about him, I became more excited. He was reading Introduction to Metaphysics. He started talking about Being, and as he talked, there was a light in his eyes. That light was so bright that he saw nothing else around him.”

A waiter appeared and asked if they wanted anything. Löwe ordered a glass of Proseeco and invited Vogel to join him. In the background Vogel heard Bettina laugh and saw her reach out and touch Simone’s arm.

“In those days, Sartre was having an affair with a married Frenchwoman. He told me that she was a ‘contingent love.’ I had never heard that expression before, but I soon experienced what he meant by it.”

He paused to sip his drink and then turned to listen to Simone’s conversation with Asshauer. Vogel was impatient to know what the old man was talking about. He didn’t believe that he was just talking. It seemed to Vogel that Löwe was calculating and sly and that his choice of conversation was designed to tell Vogel something, something that he wanted him to know.

Asshauer stood up abruptly, shook everyone’s hand and then said that he had to rush to the airport to catch his plane. Once he had left, Drago replaced the chair he had moved and Bettina signaled the waiter to bring them menus. Löwe was now sitting next to Simone and it was as if he had forgotten the conversation he was having with Vogel. He was now speaking French fluently and asking Simone about her life in Paris.

“I live in a new area called Le Défense, a high rise.”

“I have seen pictures.” He wrinkled his nose and frowned at the concept of Mitterand’s new Paris. “Why is it always the socialists who build the monuments?”

“Vogel wondered if he was thinking of Mitterand or Hitler or Albert Speer.

“Are your grandparents still living?”

Vogel was perplexed by the non-sequitur and it seemed the question also surprised Simone.


“What were their names?”

“Rosenberg and Aschheim.”

“Your father’s mother. What was her name?”

“Martine Lauté.”

“Was she French?”

“She came from France.”

“But was she French?”

Simone looked over at Vogel to see if he was listening. Vogel thought she was saying, with her eyes only, that maybe he was right, that maybe this old man was playing some unknown game with them and they were his victims rather than his interviewers.

“I believe she did live in Berlin for awhile before she returned to Paris. In 1940, she escaped through Spain to Ireland and then to London.”

“Not in 1940 my dear, in 1941.”

“What?” Simone’s mouth fell open.

“May I take your order?” asked the waiter.

Löwe turned to the menu and ignored the look of fear and exasperation on Simone’s face. After ordering, he turned to Vogel and asked, “Did you know that Martine Lauté, the grandmother of Ms. Aschheim, knew both Sartre and Magda Goebbels?”

Vogel heard Simone gasp and then watched, somewhat dumbfounded when she reached out her hand to touch the paper-thin skin of Löwe’s hand. As her long, thin fingers touched his, Vogel imagined he saw a shock shake the old man. How long had it been since someone had touched him? The old man turned toward her and she saw tears in his bright-blue eyes. “You knew my grandmother?” she asked.

“Your grandmother was a friend, someone I met in 1933, in Berlin.”

“You said she knew Magda Goebbels?” asked Vogel, interrupting Simone’s next question.

“Martine Lauté was a student at the Kollmorgen Lyseum, located on Keithstrasse. She was a classmate of Lisa Arlosoroff, a Jewish girl from Königsburg, my mother’s hometown, and Magda Friedländer, who later became Magda Goebbels.”

Simone’s head was buzzing with questions; however, within the chaos of her thoughts, one idea emerged as her most pressing concern – had this interview been simply a ruse to get her here at this table in Florence sitting next to this frail old man?

She cleared her throat and asked, “Am I here because of my grandmother?”

“Not exactly, but partially. You are here because of who you are and what you are.”

“I am here because I am a Jew?”

He started to laugh and then coughed. Vogel handed him a glass of water.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


He finds a body at dusk
sleeping beneath a blanket
of snow.
He prods it with a steel toe
of a hobnailed boot
and demands a response
to a compound question
of being and doing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Lake freezing into a blue mirror
reflects me swimming.
The I in the dank drink
reaches for the revenant
shuffling on thin ice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chapter Thirty-Nine of Okeanus

A sibilant sound shattered his concentration. He turned and caught a glimpse of a slight figure silently moving in the shadows of the deck. He screwed his eyes into a squint to see. He was sure the shadow was not one of the sailors; it was too small and thin. Unconsciously his right hand wrapped around the bone handle of his curved dagger. His fear awakened a sense of the bear; his nostrils flared as the spirit of the baresark rose into his conscious mind.

The figure stopped, sensing his presence. The wind changed direction and he detected a faint musky perfume. He knew then it was the woman, the Xipponese diplomate, who walked in the deck’s shadows. He moved away from her, searching for a darker shadow in which to hide. He suspected his attempt to hide was futile, because he sensed she knew intuitively that a baresark lurked in the shadows.

She slowly approached him, granting him a few moments to relax. She stopped a few feet away from him, waiting in a beam of the moon’s light that was now spreading over the waters. Although the light was faint he could clearly see her thin figure, her pale white face, and her long black hair pulled back and elaborately braided in a thick cord that hung to her waist. She wore a dark purple robe and flat leather shoes. A silver pendant dangled around her neck; she wore two rings: a large silver ring on her left hand and a ruby ring on her right. She had a prominent nose, thin lips and heavy brows.

As she drew closer, he noted her teeth were white, strong and straight and her eyes pale blue, like cornflowers. Finally, he decided, somewhat subjectively, that although her expression was feral, she exuded an extreme intelligence.

“You are a Keltoi?”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t know that to be true, although the Keltoi accepted me as one of them. I suspect I am related to them, especially after the things I have experienced over the last few weeks.”

She took a step forward and reached out her hand to touch his cheek. Her fingers were long and well shaped. At first he pulled back but when she reached toward him a second time, he let her touch him.

“Where are you from?”

“I am a Frenchman. I live in Paris.”

“Where is this place?”

“The Keltoi called it middangeard.”

“Yes, I have heard stories of this place. There is an ancient poem-éala éarendel engla beorhtast / ofer middangeard monnum sended. However, I have never really believed it existed.”

“What does it mean?”

“Hail Earendel, brightest angel, above middle earth sent to men.”

“So you are from this mythic world, the home of Earendel?”

Her hand held his jaw and he suspected she used touch as a sort of lie detector.

“Yes, I am from middangeard.”

She stepped back and he let out a breath.

“How did you come here?”

“Through a portal opened by a witch.”

“A witch?”

“What witch?” Her voice rose.

“Her name is Jacqueline Le Tourneau.”

“Where does she live?”

“In France like me.” Now it was her turn to breathe a sigh of relief. He suspected she feared a witch from Okeanus, the watery realm, was opening portals to middangeard.

“Does anyone on board know what you are?”


“Good. If they did they would throw you overboard. I sensed your presence from the start but you have been asleep and it was difficult to see you. I have a lot of questions but we have little time now. I have agreed to dine with the Captain and I will soon be summoned.”

“I have also been invited.”

“You must never reveal who or what you are.”

He noted for the first time some sympathy in her pale eyes.

“Of course.”

“What do they call you baresark?”

"The Captain knows me as the sellsword-Tatyx.”

“What is your real name?”


“Oiseau, I am Sor Michaelsdottir. My friends called me Mikk. I am a diplomate for the Xipponese. Do you know what that means?”

"Not really.”

“It means power, power in all its forms, and it means magic.”

“What were you doing on the Island? I heard that the King hates witches.”

“The King desires power so he is forced to deal with the Xipponese. But he hates all forms of magic, which makes his intercourse with us particularly distasteful. Nevertheless, we supported him in his war against Brasilika because it was in our interest to do so but now that the war is over, the relations between our two countries is strained. I came to the Island to tr y and smooth the King’s ruffled feathers.”

“Did it work?”

“A little. He lost the war with Brasilika and decimated his mercenary army in the process. He is now weak and needs his allies more than ever. Although it offends him to admit it, he knows he needs us. Imagine Oiseau, being afraid of witches, dragons and daemons in our world. It is like being afraid of life itself.”

“You are right Sor Michaelsdottir. We do have many things to discuss because dragons are the reason I left middangeard.”

She cocked her head to the right and Oiseau knew he had her attention: however, at that moment, the botswain rang the time and Roby called for them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Prologue to Okeanus

I am editing my fantasy novel Okenaus. Here is the Prologue.

On October 31, La Toussaint, Benoit Kohlbert leaned against a brass street lamp on a corner of an intersection near the Bois de Boulogne, a large park in Paris. His shadow stretched across the street until it penetrated the boundaries of a dense wood.

He whispered, “I shouldn’t go. It’s not fair.”

He gazed into the woods with such longing, however, that a stranger stopped and asked if he needed help.

Benoit waved him away and as soon as the man turned the corner, he argued, “but it is really better for my wife if I do this. I need it and it calms my nerves and makes me a better husband.”

A figure emerged from the woods, a shadow really, an outline of a man or a woman.
Benoit gave a faint wave. The figure waved back and then lit a cigarette, which illuminated delicate olive features, long black hair, and a slight frame.

Benoit made up his mind. He straightened his jacket, looked both ways and then hurried across the street, dodging the nighttime traffic.

As he approached, the figure, dressed in a black dress and stiletto heels, reached out to take his hand. Benoit smiled because the prostitute, in honor of All Saints Eve, wore a Venetian mask of pink porcelain, leaving only eyes and full red lips exposed. The two turned away from the streetlights and entered the autumn woods like Hansel and Gretel.

Benoit had been here before and he knew the routine. They walked silently to a clearing deep within the park where the young man spoke for the first time, telling him the fee and asking what he wanted.

Benoit fished a wad of euros from his pocket and handed them to the prostitute, who sat down on a tuft of brown grass and multi-colored leaves to count the bills.

While waiting, Benoit heard two things, which distracted his attention. The first was a distance rumble of thunder from the north, somewhere over Sacre Coeur. Because of global warming, Paris was undergoing a drought and rain was a rare and unexpected event. Even though France desperately needed it, rain tonight, he thought, was a bad omen. The second thing, he heard, was a soft hollow thump coming from his right, just above the trees; the sound repeated regularly like a runner’s heart at rest.

The young prostitute, ignoring the sounds, reached for his hand to pull him down onto the grass, but Benoit, unnerved and distracted by the eery sounds of thunder and thumping, pushed the hand away and looked up through a break in the limbs of the trees, where a deeper, darker blue shadow separated from the rain filled clouds. The shadow hung in the air like a hummingbird, its great wings filling with air and then propelling downward with a mighty push that made the bothersome thump that had first caught his attention.

The shadowy creature descended, close enough for him to see its yellow eyes. Benoit deflected his gaze, hoping not to attract its attention. The beast sniffed and turned its wolf-like maw toward the prostitute, who was pulling the dress off to reveal a flat hairy stomach beneath a red padded bra. He still wore the mask.

Benoit, now no longer interested in the young Brasilian and his taut body, watched entranced, as drops of saliva fell from the beast’s fangs and ignited into yellow flames. With a moist cough, the beast, like a snake before a strike, recoiled. A heartbeat passed before yellowish flames spewed in a concerted thrust downward and engulfed the young man, melting his flesh in a private inferno, and burning a silhouette of the prostitute into the grass.

Benoit paralysed with fright, his nostrils blistered by the acrid smoke of the burning flesh, watched the beast recoil a second time. In awe he crossed himself and whispered: “Sweet Mary, holy Mother of God, a blue dragon.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I have finished the first draft of my new novel Okeanus. Here is the synopsis.

Jacques Oiseau, a French psychologist, trained in Uppsala, Sweden, and a Capitaine of the Police Judiciare in Paris, profiles and tracks serial killers. Shortly after the death of his Swedish wife, Birgit, the Commissioner orders the grieving Oiseau to investigate a series of murders, involving arson and cannibalism.

Oiseau summons his team and throws himself into the investigation, which soon produces a witness. The witness warns Oiseau that he is not tracking a man but a Drac, a mythic creature from Celtic mythology.

With this bizarre information, Oiseau follows his leads and interviews witches, wizards, alchemists, and a beautiful representative of an ancient people called the Keltoi, the hidden ones.

The Keltoi directs Oiseau to an alchemist, who informs him that only a dragon hunter, who possesses and integrates a darkened soul shard, can rid the world of the Drac. The problem, he says, is that a darkened soul shard can only be obtained from a magus residing on one of the four elemental planes. Since, according to alchemical principles, the Drac comes from the watery plane, Okeanus, Oiseau must seek help from a magus there.

In exchange for a favor from the police, a witch creates a tear in the membrane separating the worlds and Oiseau falls, naked and unarmed, into an unbalanced watery world inhabited by a multitude of species, arising from or kin to dragons, and the humanoids that oppose them.

He does not speak the languages; he has no map or compass; and, once he arrives, Focalor, a denizen of the fiery plane, who knows of his quest and is determined to stop him, hunts him.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Vogel and the White Bull

Murder of Crow Books will be issuing a new edition of Vogel and the White Bull next year and I am currently working on the editor's changes and suggestions.

Below is another section concerning the function of images-one of the major themes of the book.

Elisa sipped on her beer.

“When I left Germany, I was working on a study of Heinrich’s head. It’s realistic, but with the usual tricks of Expressionism. For some reason now, I feel I could paint the same study with a new resonance. I think I understand a little more about the resonance of life. Before, I was painting what I saw physically; but now, I want to capture some of the mystery of what it is to be a Vogel or a Harding. I want to see beyond the skull into the psyche and beyond it to the spirit that animates the skull.”

“What does that mean?” asked Tracey. “I don’t get it.”

At that moment the waiter arrived with Vogel’s drink and Jonathan ordered another round for the table.

“It means, Tracey,” said Elisa, looking at her closely, “I’ve discovered something inside me that makes my vision of others numinous or mysterious. I’ve tapped into some new lode of energy that wants to get out through me and my art.”

“I still don’t get it,” reiterated Tracey sipping her margarita.

“We understand or are led by images. Sometimes the images are flat and inanimate. At other times, they are alive and electric, magical and mysterious, mystical or ineffable. Something out here in New Mexico has touched me and I have a sense of wonder I didn’t use to have. The other day, I met an Indian who told me a story and I could see the characters of the story. But I also felt there was something behind the story, the people were archetypes, expressing some greater meaning. I know these feelings emanate from me, but that doesn’t lessen the excitement or the beauty of the image. I also realize that certain images, because of cultural and personal reasons, are imbued with emotion or energy. I think I can reproduce those images in my art that will touch the observers in the same way.”

“Can you give me an example?” asked Jonathan who was very interested in Elisa and her new approach to her art.

Elisa thought for a moment and then said, “Suppose I paint a very realistic painting of a nude woman with a large snake across her body.”

“Well,” said Jonathan smiling, “it would be symbolic.”

“Yes,” she answered. “All of a sudden there would be all types of mythic, sexual, and religious associations from the image of the snake juxtaposed on to the nude woman.”

They were silent for a moment, thinking about the image, making their own associations, and painting their own picture in their imaginations.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Cutting from Vogel and the White Bull-On Images

Looking at the painting across the room Elisa realized it was starting to come together. The multi-colored background that surrounded the man’s head looked like the patterns in the Persian rugs that lay on the floor of her mother’s home. It was odd how painting worked. She had started with a white canvas that she seasoned with a red wash. Then, she took a white crayon and drew the figure as precisely as she could. At this point, her painting looked realistic. She then began using white and black paints to define the subject’s physicality. From then on it was a matter of adding paint to create the emotional expressions she was trying to convey to the viewer. She did not call the images, but they came nonetheless, unbidden to the surface of her thought and found themselves upon the canvas. The images inhabited the four corners of the canvas, held in by the framing device. Sometimes one side was stronger than another. Imperceptibly, as she continued to work, the other side eventually grew in strength and a balance was maintained. It was through this process the images emerged and became plastic, more of a sculpture than a drawing. She loved the physicality of the work. The painting grew until a moment arrived when the work of art was complete. Sometimes, however, the work did not grow. Something went wrong and the creation took a wrong turn. At that moment, she would have to stop and scrape the paint from the canvas and begin again. It was usually a fault of consciousness. The error occurred usually at some moment when she began to think of the painting intellectually.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I am Traum
the raven of the tar pit.
I trapped
the blond lion.
I transfix him so long
in my avid attraction
that his yellow fur
falls and fades
into the sticky softness
of my flickering flesh.
His bones sink
into my somber soul
and settle like iron
shavings below. Someday
the pit will bubble
up a bone
or a fossilized feather.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Traum II

On Mars field at dusk
below the seven hills,
the trainer whistles
and a brace of twin retrievers
come, bounding
across dried winter grass,
their tongues lolling
from their black
and yellow snouts,
idiot’s evidence
of their subservience.
He throws a rubber ball
and they chase it.
First the yellows take it,
but the blacks roll them
onto their backs and steal
the red token.
They bite and growl,
tumble and gambol,
as the trainer scowls.
He whistles and snaps
his fingers in command.
They jump in obedience;
after all they are dogs.
This is not the end:
he carries a mixed pup
in his arms, while an assassin
waits on the Aventine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Revenant V

Her blue veins
mark her parchment skin
like tattoo ink.
Her long fingers
press through tender grass,
stretching toward nests
of yellow straw.
The red hens brood
over brown eggs,
hidden on the border
of forest and field.
She hurries;
the fox and snake
arrive at dusk.
The hens flutter
as she lifts
them and spirits
away their eggs.
When the snake
appears, she calls
and he comes with hoe
and chops the copperhead
like cotton.
He hangs the skin
from the fence
as a warning
to the fox,
a premonition.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Revenant IV

Of all the ghostly emotions that haunt my house
his anger is the most tangible.
It hangs on the barn’s wall
like a coyote pelt skinned at dawn.
It barks at dusk and masquerades as order
and rules day’s dominance like a petty king.
Chaos lurks in the nails of its paws.
Chicken blood and feathers mask its snout.
It practices animal husbandry
to disguise its true intent.
Its silhouette in the summer’s stillness
harbingers the rant of winter’s tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007


With his sinister hand, he drove the red Cadillac.
He smoked unfiltered camels with his right.
He named himself the Knight of Swords,
played Texas swing on the AM radio,
and lowered the black canvas top, like Jett Rink.

She warned him about the crocodiles.
They swarmed out of Africa and attacked the portcullis.
Imaginary damsels in distress were his weakness,
so he ordered steaks from Omaha and loaded
the red leather seats down with thawing boxes.

While the steaks rotted and turned an oily green
like a bottle fly’s eye, he pulled his Stetson
forward to avoid the wind.

Arriving at last, he honked
and she released the bridge’s German lock.
His Michelins squashed croc heads
as he entered the keep. She skipped
down gray stone stairs like a prom queen;
the poodle on her skirt emblematically black,
her hair bouncing jauntily in a pony tail.

She slide into the front seat,
flashing smooth legs and white panties,
scooting up against his denim thigh,
as the crocs boiled from the moat.

Driven mad by the smell of rotting meat
and exhaust, they scuttled on clattering claws
after the car until they hit asphalt on Route 66.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A note on Ihn Ritt die Nacht by Paul Celan

There is an image in Paul Celan’s Ihn ritt die nacht, which resonates with depth and meaning. For me, the image of the orange in the third stanza exemplifies the concept of the primordial word, which energizes and mythologizes poetry.

Here is the original with my translation.

Ihn ritt die Nacht

The night rode him, he came to himself,
the orphan’s overall was the flag,

no more detours
it rode him straight-

It is, it is, as if the oranges stood in the hedge,
as if, so ridden, he wore nothing
but his

Ihr ritt die Nacht, er war zu sich gekommen,
der Waisenkittel war die Fahn,

kein Irrlauf mehr,
es ritt ihn grad

Es ist, es ist, als stünden in Liguster die Orangen,
als hätt der so Gerittene nichts an
als seine
muttermalige, ge

What comes first the primordial word or image?

When I first read this poem, I immediately focused on the orange, standing in the hedge, shining like a beacon in green, cool darkness. The orange does not hang; it stands. Although it stands boldly within the boundary of the hedge, it glows like a full moon on a dark night. It is hidden and yet it shines.

The orange is an anomaly, which functions as a beacon, calling us, filling our mind and imagination with its vibrancy, its color. From this initial attraction, our imagination moves to the other senses to create a sense of weight and depth. We touch the rough peel of the orange, we smell its citrus aroma, we taste its tart sweetness, we chew its thick pulp, and we suck the slick pips that slide around our tongue. Our mouths water as our eyes linger on the glowing orange, which stands like a prisoner within the hedge.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Trap

He lays the trap
on gray green moss.
He pries the sharpened claws
open until he hears the click
of the German lock.
He places raw meat
onto the silver spring.
He hides in an orange bush
and waits for her to approach.
He smells the Valencia oranges ripen.
He feels the earth tumble and turn.
He sees the dappled green mint leaf
reflect the last ray of a weakened sun.
As he sleeps, the moon waxes and wanes.
He swells and bursts like a peach
fallen onto wet autumn clay.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Revenant III

The sole meal
we prepared
in five years
was boiled lobster,
which was apropos,
because our thing
was to lie on sugary sand
until her hair bleached white
and my native blood boiled
through my veneer.
We cooked the clay
until it glistened
and hardened,
then I extended my claw,
inviting her to crack
it with a steel vise.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Quelle II

The Valencia orange hangs
on Celan’s line,
his syntax
into its own myth
until it falls,
onto wet clay,
which whirls
on wheels,
to an emotion.

Monday, August 27, 2007


and sentence,
twin snakes,
and ensorcelled
by Jacobs’ staff.

Friday, August 24, 2007


We grind cinnabar
and sparks
scatter from the lathe.
We slit the snakeskin
and lubricate the dragon scales,
their bright moistness
a spring space
of late containment.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lichtung II

The primordial word
springs from a stone well,
dug by a grandfather
with an iron shovel,
seeking syntax.
It bubbles forth myth
and flirts with thought’s force,
which could be order
or fascistic desire.
Unlike Leni’s portraits
of youth’s beauty
or some metaphysician’s
game of goose stepping
rhyme and metronomic feet,
the sentence
must find
its own meadow
or clearing
within the black forest.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I was born
under the sign of the Lion
and by all reports
I should have followed the Sun King
but on the cusp
I slipped from the curb
and twisted through my fall
into the crow caverns
of the Moon Queen.
I lay in her sweet arms
for a decade,
listening to the foot pad
of the blue dragon,
fearing what I would become.
When a child
I sat with my father
in an old theater
on the square
and cheered Errol Flynn,
the greatest puer,
charge down Red Mountain.
As a man,
I channel the Hunger Artist
and intuit-
Kavka means jackdaw.

Monday, August 13, 2007


After chaos expelled them,
she contained him,
absorbing his anxiety,
madness and aloneness.
He reciprocated
by constructing a home
in a cave,
carrying a sharpen spear,
its tip hardened
in stolen fire,
and hunting black bison.
In the age of order,
they stand alone,
from a palsy
of self involvement
and modernity.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Electronic Age

Before connectivity
he secured
his yellow claws
in the center
of the ice.
the floe
and the seals
To be alone
in frigid silence
was paradise.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


In the center
he smeared
his body
with black mud
to protect
against flies
and the sun.
He floated
neither up
nor down
in the slough,
praying for metamorphosis.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Foucault's Pendulum

The rule of one
breaks many.
Chaos mourns the alone,
as its priests plot
against Akhenaten
the hermaphrodite.
The one
now dead
becomes many
until he slithers
from the silence,
sibilant sounds
to his staff.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Austria 1782

With a black line,
sharp as a Cossack’s sword,
the bureaucrat
scratched him
from the Levant.
A raven
his brown eyes
in a dream,
his second self.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Journeying north
he turns right.
The mystery
yields left
toward resistance.
The gauche
steal a march
through the strait

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


He demands spurs.
Their clanging spares
no one creation.
His coming
forest’s spread
across volcanic rock.
Order adorns
with ash and steel.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Green stalks press
through sienna clay,
stretching to yellow light.
Khaos flowers bloom blue.
Their pistils
dust copper pollen
on gunmetal.
Silver spurs jingle
as he rides north
through shadowed valleys.
His iron-capped rod
comforts him
as he finds beauty

Monday, July 16, 2007

Spear Point

At the rugged red waste,
the Knight of Swords
dismounts progress’ horse.
Salamanders slither
beneath iron shavings.
Volcanic ash falls
on armor,
as the armies
of order
march forward
like machines.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Le Revenant Deux

Before she bled to death
in an old porcelain tub
with claw feet
and a multitude
of scratches,
in student housing,
like a Roman matron
in disgrace,
she published
precious poems
about carnivals
and clowns
in little magazines,
flung about
by smaller presses.

He lived sixty years
longer than she,
singing dark songs
about shamans
cloaked in parrot feathers.

Each day,
dancing on one foot
before a jaundiced flame,
he swallows
her sword of madness
and digests the darkness
her bright brogue disguised.

Monday, July 09, 2007


The law-abiding crave
the spoken crudeness
of the Magians.
They sneak away
to the towers
or seek in shadows
the secret shops
and chambers
of the poets,
who wear crow feathers
and dance on one foot
or the other
to the beat of the drum.
The ones who speak
the magic words
enjamb the emphasis
at the most inopportune time
and place secrets
in sleeping ears,
awakening the sibilance
of the silence
in their shadowed stance.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

La Parole

The night hums with a heat
that embraces southern stars
that glitter above moist haze.
She in a word is a revenant
who escapes her captivity
to whisper primordial verse
softly into my left ear.
Her incantation
returns me to the crossroad,
where the sandal shod
erected a herm.
Soon, the caravans
and translate
the runes and hieroglyphs
of Babel.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wille zur Macht

Loosened from Khaos’ grip
by her toothy bite
of the pomegranate’s pulpy skin,
he pondered his singular way
to the Latinate’s southern will.
To align his thoughts,
he danced his myth
in his ebony feathers
and pounded python skin
stretched over hollowed green gourd
until the wintry sun set
in a salted sea
and the leviathan spewed
a multitude of drops,
scattering like stars.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Huis Clos

On a red sand beach,
beastmen purse swollen lips
and blow a mordant moan
against the sweet slash of coral conch.
Bedecked in ebon feathers,
he sits and thinks
of her will
that penetrated
the quotidian membrane
to grasp the ruby fruit.
Her fingers tore them
from Khaos’ grim grasp,
loosing them,
alone and voiceless,
creating from nothingness
something that resembled fabric,
plastic and printed,
pathetic, yet irrefutable,
serviceable, yet infinite.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Mason

In a single sinister voice
they sent a silent slave
to seek him
in his solitude.

Startled, he surfaced
in their muddled mist.
Confused by their voices,
he followed them
to their throne room.
He wore a cotton singlet
and a black leather apron.
In his bare arms
he carried
a steel square,
a bronze trowel,
and a ball of cotton string.

They cheered his mathematics,
then led him through narrow streets
to a secluded clearing,
where, using a marble slab,
he drew a diagram
on rice papyrus
with a goose quill
and octopus ink.

he drove silver stakes
into red clay
with an iron hammer.

He stretched string
stuttering a sibilant sound.

They heard a command
for water, manure, clay and straw.
They set the slaves to stamping;
they fired ceramic kilns,
while he dreamed
the dimensions
of the dome.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"Cave Gossip" accepted by Permafrost

I wish to thank Brian Keenan and the other editors at Permafrost, the University of Alaska's literary magazine, for accepting "Cave Gossip" for a May/June publication. "Cave Gossip" is one of the longer poems in Petroglyphs.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yet Another from Khaos' Magic


Her bright brogue
warned me
to stay
upon the clay.
But wolfbane,
yellow green,
lured me
off the way.
I wandered
until snow fell
in frail flakes
and frigid ferns
Time blanketed
sleeping bears.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

One more from Khaos' Magic


He sings
the cosmic egg
on the tube’s platform;
his lyre case open
on greasy cement.

He composes lyrics
about fourfold
worlds, while others
drop crumpled bills
upon green felt.

His vision becomes words;
his words become worlds.
They ebb and flow
between the void
and Thoth’s light.

Zipporah shucks clams
with her flint knife.
Her son’s blood
mediates chaos
and appeases the groom.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Another from Khaos' Magic

The Staff’s Snake

With a single sinister stroke
his staff’s snake staggers
law’s stern progress.
Its blunt blow
breaks a clay pot
thrown by red hands
bronze-aged by an orange sun.
He stammers a sibilant message:
Khaos’ flood drowns
Babel’s language.
He awaits the primordial word
to slip past paralyzed lips.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Two from Khaos' Magic

Zipporah’s Flint

She murmurs:
magic managed
demands blood.
She scrapes
her son’s skin
away with a flint
and wipes blood
on her husband’s feet,
loosing Khaos
from the desert
and paying passage
to Pharoah’s plague.


He slowly speaks,
meaning he hesitates
between thought and word.
He stutters
and stammers
like the Púca.
Yet, even with this malady,
he transforms stored visions
through mediation
of his brother’s tongue
into a magic rod.

Friday, April 27, 2007


When he arrived
from the desert,
his feet
covered in blood,
slow of speech
and tongue,
he met his elder,
his brother,
the shining light,
the mediator,
the messenger,
equal to Thoth,
in language
and argument,
who agreed,
in a clearing,
to speak,
and translate
his words
into magic.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Aaron's Sorcery

to Michael Moorcock

Reading primordial words,
red runes carved
and stained
on polished burl,
he shifts his shepherd’s staff
into his sinister hand.

He casts it onto ferrous rock,
where it slithers into silver shade,
seeking its chaotic source,
stunned into being
by a steady whisper.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Filet" from Petroglyphs

He slaps the silver trout
flat upon the Times,
wetting the newsprint
and blackening it
like a Cajun chef.
He filets
it stealthily
with sharpened steel,
dividing the shimmering scales
and extracting wizened bones.
He sets it
aside salty flesh,
a skinny doppelganger
to fertilize the roses.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Michael Moorcock-Literary Addiction

I have a new obsession and I am adding it to my list of subjects that make manifest an insatiable desire to know everything there is to know about Paul Celan, Ted Hughes, Carl Jung, Rollo May, Sigmund Freud, Hannah Arendt, Hermann Hesse, Jean Paul Sartre, Iris Murdoch, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Mann, Martin Heidegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, the surrealists, Max Beckmann, German and French history, and epic fantasy.

This new obsession possesses an odd name-Michael Moorcock-and supposedly lives near me in Texas. He is a Brit, living in Bastrop, but I don’t believe it. Oh, I believe that-maybe in an alternate universe-this Brit lives in Texas, but not really.

How did this obsession begin? How did this obsession creep up on me and why haven’t I discovered this guy before this late date? I mean he is my kind of guy. He likes to read the classics. He loves comics, Edgar Rice Burroughs, science fiction, games, and epic fantasy. He mentions Nabokov, a previous obsession, and he seems to know a lot about history, especially European history. He began publishing in the sixties-the period when I would read one or two science fiction novels a day-so how did his work escape my attention? I can’t figure it out. Maybe it is because his novels have a dream-like quality to them, which would have turned me off in the sixties, when I loved the science fiction of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. As I read him now, I am reminded of Céline and William S. Burroughs, writers which I didn’t initially appreciate.

Nevertheless, I now know who he is. I backed into him, through a writer, who I now know borrowed heavily from him-David Gemmell. But I didn’t read him until I saw a blurb on his Pyat series, a blurb that intrigued me because the plot of the novel seemed similar to what I was trying to do in my unpublished novel-The Blond Beast. So I picked up a copy of the first novel in his Pyat series-Babylon Endures-in one of those marvelous British paperbacks and devoured it in one or two sittings. It is a picaresque tale of a self-hating Jew (maybe), living in Russia in the early Twentieth Century, trying to survive the Russian Revolution. As an aside, I read Martin Amis' Koba the Dread the same week and these two books made wonderful companions.

I am now a full-blown Moorcock addict, as hooked on his literary drug, as Elric or Pyat are addicted to their drugs of choice.

Now here is where it gets good. There is an added bonus. Many of his books are out of print and impossible to find. I am an inveterate book collector. I am never happier than when I am tracking a book by its dusty scent. So what do I have? I have a great writer, whose books have disappeared. So let the search begin; and the reading; and the writing.

I intend posting several short essays on Moorcock as I track his books and devour them like some slime monster in the wicked passages of an ancient city of the multiverse.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Two More from Petroglyphs


Born below the ash trees,
in their tarnished shadows,
hammered into being
in the heat of the lower level,
half machine, half bull,
he runs, a warden of the isolated isle,
bright in his bronze skin,
three times daily through sugary sand
at the command of his master, the mage.
And in his mechanical gait
he crushes seashells,
his feet whitened by the gulls’ droppings,
singing his forged songs of servitude,
shining on the edge of the surging sea,
scaring sullen seafarers.


His black crow feathers
ignite into red flames,
melting golden bees’ wax
between the pinions.
He falls to his center,
drawn downward by word’s gravity,
until he lies like a silver stone
unconcealed in the clearing.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Two from Petroglyphs by Keith Harvey


Cast upon impulse
a hand-made nymph
teases silver trout.
They pierce shadow green waters,
projecting their javelin selves
toward a breathless line.

Smoothest Stone

A line without end is breathless

The smoothest stone weighs
heavy in the bed of a trout’s stream.
Silver scales shimmer
sanded by breathless time,
a spear’s head thrust into being,
resting on our meridian,
defining our shadows
against the word’s gravity.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thoughts on Primordial Words, while reading Celan

Jung talks about images arising from the unconscious mind and often quotes a phrase that he inscribed on the lintel of the door to his Küsnacht hideaway-vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit (called or not called the gods will be there). These images, arriving unbidden, are sometimes archetypal, filled with emotion and weight, or primordial, fresh and newly born. Silence, meditation, or dreams open up a space for primordial or archetypal language to emerge, just as images and symbols arise from the unconscious. If we can capture these images in their freshness, newly arisen from the unconscious, and use them in poetry, then these images, now words, feel numinous within the poems' landscape. Primordial language, then, is felt, heard, and seen. It is emotive in quality, with weight as its predominant characteristic. Primordial language is like a stone emerging from thick green loam of an ancient pagan land, a stone among the scree of the Wortlandschaft (Celan). Jung employs a similar geographic metaphor to describe the unconscious. Robert Brockway in his biography Young Carl Jung, Continuum International Publishing Group (September 1997), wrote that "the prime source of Jung's concept of the collective unconscious was probably his idea of the geology of the human personality or Bodenbeschafftenheit." Each new word that springs up into consciousness resonates with feeling, which is felt through desire, desire for the sacred, the numinous, and the primordial. These primordial words are, in effect, incarnations of the spirit that are ultimately made flesh, arriving on pigeon feet (Heidegger and Celan), from the unknown, moving toward the known, and then settling into everydayness before disappearing in plain sight, like a stone beneath our feet. Once they disappear, we miss them and feel extreme Sehnsucht.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Der Riss, Etching, Geographical Upheaval in Celan

As we proceed with our analysis of the second poem of Atemwende, Suhrkamp Verlag (Frankfurt am Main 1967), I believe it is important to focus on two concepts-the physical process of etching and Heidegger’s use of the German word, der Riss, which refers us back to our discussion of Pyramus and Thisbe and propels us forward into Heidegger’s concept of art, a concept that Celan engaged, studied, incorporated, and debated for over ten years. Further, held within the word-der Riss-is a semantic connection to the concepts of divide, tear, and furrow, which rhetorically connects the second poem in the collection to the third and associates a tear, a furrow (die Rille) or a rift with the actual process of etching through a figurative comparing of the rift in the seam of Brotland that forms the Lebensberg with the physical processes of the art. According to the catalogue of the National Gallery of art -Etching is an intaglio technique whereby marks are bitten into the metal plate by chemical action. The plate is coated with a ground (either hard or softground) impervious to acid through which the artist draws to expose the metal. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath until the open lines of areas are sufficiently bitten. Finally, the ground is removed and the plate inked and printed. Etching is commonly used in combination with drypoint, aquatint, and other intaglio processes. The language employed in this definition seems to connect metaphorically with seismic activities that cause mountains to spring from the earth and locate some of the imagery in the world/earth dichotomy. Further, the divide between the mountain and the land creates both a physical barrier (geographical) and a figurative (concealed/unconcealed) barrier between the “ich” and the “du” that is ultimately juxtaposed metaphorically between the states of sleep and waking.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Synecdoche, Abtasten, Paradox in Paul Celan

The second poem of Paul Celan’s collection, Atemwende, Suhrkamp Verlag (Frankfurt am Main 1967), begins with a paradox and a nod at the etchings that his wife includes in the work. The first line -Von geträumtem geätzt (from the undreamed etched)- presents the first problem of the poem. We go on to read that the undreamed etches out the Lebensberg from Brotland. The image of a Brotland/breadland refers back somewhat obliquely to the Maulbeerbaum of the previous poem, especially when we remember that the mulberry belongs to the same family as breadfruit. So from this image of bread and food, we are also reminded of paper and the poet, which makes sense in light of the fact that the first line also transports us to the realm of fairytales. The first paradox lies in the fact that fairy tales are the product of dreams; however, it is the undreamed images that etch Brotland and create the Lebensberg. Undreamed images must be experienced images, images experienced while awake. However, the “ich” of the poem is asleep and he is attempting to awaken himself.

Before we continue, I think it is important to make some associations and to identify certain allusions, which I will not fully explore in this post. Brotland seems to indicate a physicality, an image that relates to the body-either as a living entity or a corpse. Celan was a great student of both the Jewish Bible as well as the Christian and I believe that Brotland refers to the sacrament of the body and the use of unleavened bread as a substitute for the body-not of Christ’s body here but of the bodies of those who died in the Holocaust. Further, I believe that Lebensberg is both an allusion to Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg and a reference to Heidegger’s Lebensphilosophie. Finally, Brotland is the land of the dead, where the dead wander sleeplessly and un-dreaming. Ironically, the Lebensberg emerges from the land of the dead, a land from which the "ich” struggles to awaken.

The first line then seems to signal the struggle of the dead to reawaken and, in effect, be resurrected to life; however, this transformation must be “sussed out.” This symbolic reading must be refined because it is not the dead that arises but the poet. It is the poet who must probe with his fingers to awaken toward the “du.” Consequently, in further investigations, we must focus on the poet and his “sussing out” the darkness of Brotland and the caverns of the Lebensberg. To do this involves an investigation of the methodology of un-concealing the concealed, which involves ultimately transformation or rebirth. This process is contained in Celan’s use of the verb abtasten, which means to feel, to scan, or to suss out. It has a further meaning, which might be used effectively here, and that is "to palpate." To palpate the body fits our view that Brotland is the body or corpse, where body acts as a synecdoche for a people.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Synesthesia, Snow, and Sussing Out in Celan

In the second poem of Paul Celan’s collection, entitled Atemwende, Suhrkamp Verlag (Frankfurt am Main 1967), he creates an image that relies on the use of the scientific concept of synesthesia in a surrealist image of eyes on the fingertips of the “ich.” He writes Aug an jedem der Finger,/ abtaste nach/einer Stelle (eye on each finger,/ feeling for a place). Through the probing finger the “I” seeks to awaken toward the “you.” Once again we have the poem’s protagonist seeking illumination and union with the other. This time the search is conducted through touch, which will awaken the “I” to the light cast by die helle/ Hungerkerze im Mund (the bright hunger candle in the mouth). Through touch, sight is possible through the light cast by the hunger candle. Implicit in the poem is imagery connected to “mining,” darkness, sight/blindness, food, baking, feeding, silence and creation through reduction, as presented by the use of the word “etching.”

In a previous blog I pointed out that I considered the collection as a unified whole. If my theory is correct, there should be some rhetorical unification to the first poem “Du Darfst,” which I discussed in length in a previous blog, with the meaning of the second poem “Von Ungetraumtem."

Over the past few weeks I have been contemplating the use of the word “snow” in the first poem and I believe that “snow” conveys “silence.” The “ich” says du darfst mich getrost/mit Schnee bewirten. Over the Christmas holidays I was in northern New Mexico, where I was caught in a blizzard, and trapped in a hotel for three days. On a Thursday night, it began to snow big fat wet flakes. At first it was fun walking through the plaza; however, the snow fell at the rate of one inch per hour and soon everything was covered in a thick white blanket. Eventually, all movement stopped and people disappeared from the streets. The starkest result of this freak storm was silence. I thought of Celan’s poem and I wondered if the snow in the first poem silenced the poet, who in the summer had walked with the mulberry tree. Later, I discovered another poem, entitled “Mit Wechselndem Schüssel.” In this poem Celan talks of a house, where the snow of what’s silenced is driven.

Let’s assume for a moment that the poet has been silenced in the first poem; however, in the second poem he awakens and seeks the “you.” Or on a grander scale, let’s assume that a German poet, through the Nazi period, has had his mother tongue defiled and desecrated, and now is trying to probe his way to a new language. The process is tedious and difficult, like being lost in a mountain, in a tunnel with no light, where he must feel his way with his fingers.

In the next blog, I will continue with a discussion of this poem and focus on the verb “abtasten.”