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 south side winter love song

1

at the top of the world

on the edge of a glacier

a she wolf stirred

from a half frozen sleep

shook off her stiffness

crawled out in the night

climbed through the flames

of the burning sky

to the point of an ice cube hill

and cried out

mourning her mate off to war

a blood song

and in that second

penetrated by that music

i was born

opposing

outraged

out crying her howls

heart to heart

verse to verse

a poet was born

a swordless warrior

a paper dream

a life that hangs on words

by the neck until dead

 

2

he was standing at the gate again

some kind of retarded saint

some kind of politician

some kind of loser

talking to some local urchins

making promises he couldnít keep

we mocked and teased and joked at first

and then

his pity became abrasive to our pain

it wasnít so damn funny

big Jack and George picked him up by the shirt

threw him out into the street on the fly

he bounced once

slid a ways

and lay there crumpled and grimacing

then he got up and smiled

took off his torn and blood stained shirt

and threw it over the crowd

and Bunyan scraped his face off

on some forgotten prison wall

3

in the open sore

the iron clad boil

the quicksand factory

like harnessed worms we squirm

bleakly incidental

dowsing in our allotted dirt piles for hope

bawdy black bulbs excrete fouled light

a soaring jinni ossifies our brains

anesthetizes each closet of our intellect

it is a worm ritual

dead to dreams

choking the melody

smothering the words

the industrial liturgy

the iron priest

the rusting mass

constrain us

in the reeking can

cigarette butts and urine

we each go dull

sullenly

to our secret little chores

old leather faces

elbows out of joint

too many hammers

punch our face out to lunch

too many damn hammers

 

4

sadism or joy of human heart

communicate misery Ďtil death do your part

punish misery with debauchery

Rimbaud lost at sea confused idolatry

raise the sainted serpent head in tears and rain

corpse clanging night banging ice movers

split the miry pavement

vomiting black slush

the cityís filthy shroud

into the limbo crowd

at Rosieís and the Connection Bar

at Captainís and Wild Billís

fill the sacramental glass

now itís time for mass

toast with grapeless vintage words

the holy jukebox God

sing the troubled hymns of verse

pacify the bod

the winos come in to shine your shoes for a drink

human flies careen blindly encounter to encounter

elusive love

destitute desire

falling down drunk fingernails on asphalt

blood to street, salt to salt

we bury our face in the snow

 

5

the lights and sounds

of streets of pain

keep spinning through my head

blasting out what sanity

is not already dead

my heart lies fading dying

Ďneath my nightstick logicís nightmare

as ice cubes crash against the glass

of tears that I wonít wear

 

sacrificial pain

unmelted by the rain

eternally fired guilt

sacramental fear

burning in each tear

a myriad diamond death

we have seen the light

we have seen the star

what the hellís the dream

another human scar

 

blood blood

wine wine

stir a little quicker

and we might bend time

back laying heaven gazing

asphalt crawling

dues paying

words and words and words of rhyme

relentlessly spitting cobra verse

let dreams and death and dust entwine

finally choking the holy rhythm

 

6

we have seen the great war

we have fallen in battle

we have seen the great deception

we have become frozen

weep for our children

they have scarred the night

they  become confusion

we have seen the sun

we have blistered our eyes

we have missed the great division

that split their hearts

weep for our children

they have chilled the spirit

in the fire of delusion

 

7

free spirit

fired in the times

pain glazed heart

as the pictureís painted

advertised and sold

let yourself drink

all of lifeís stink

Ďtil your heart is choking

the eulogist has lied

no spirit ever

was allowed to fly that high

 

child they said you were free

we knew you never could be

Ďtil the breath in your body

had melted the gates

of the ice palace prison you made

you bought the magazine dreams

you sold the packaged prayer

for your free love came pain

a carefully purchased white Christmas

 

did you know

in the shining crystal

are the facets of a king

the shine of sweat

the forearm drips

down to the tip

of his taskmasterís whip

 

we cried

we cried

each time your flesh was marked

it took such a long time

for your heart to crack

we all had such great things to say

as we boldly spit back at each day

we did not sleep

we passed out

we did not wake up

we screamed out

sleep became the nightmare

the daylight struck back

much harder than we expected

 

8

he didnít look the same

they combed his hair back

it snowed when we buried him

whitened up the sky a little

I spent that whole day in the snow

stayed awake for two days afterward

still canít understand why heís dead

o God canít you stand him up

bring him back for a little while longer

the world loses hope each day

when people like him pass away

 

there were no dirges, his friends and lovers all cried

statues with rain on their faces

I stood in the snow, one of them lied

and still hides in strange little places

 

mourning without warning

death without disgrace

destruction without desire

ash without fire

love without life

contentment without boredom

wisdom without age

snow without cold

lies without guilt

face without eyes

 

9

human faces form the acreage of my farm

human tears spot the dust of my fields

human hearts pump my irrigation ditches full

human joys light the emerald leaves of my crops

human love tends my row with care

human desire contaminates my harvest

human greed empties my granaries

human hate is my drought

my parasite

my endless night

 

10

in the swish of her sequins

a song of desire

new melodies

upon new instruments

the perfume of her breath

the taste of a kiss

a feast of ice

a famine of fire

though we turn from her she is with us

her dream is us

though she turns from us we are with her

our dream is her

change yourself become us

while we hold your dream

change us let us become you

while you hold our dream

can we be in you without being you

keep us together yet apart

can you be in us without being us

keep us apart yet together

you live in the street

the street lives in you

you come from man

and he comes from you

 

11

in the city bars

and south side scars

i see your face

 

in the black ice

that coats the sterile asphalt

i see your face

 

in the open sore factory

that leaves me dull heartsick

i see your face

 

in the dead lakeshore

the dry burning wind

i see your face

 

in this fruitless winter

this springless death

i love you for your face

 

12

i thought i was alive

then my reflection lit your eyes

i thought i outran life

then your touch gave me joy

i thought i knew peace

then your smile spoke of love

i thought i knew love

then your tears wet my hope

i thought i knew pain

then we could not touch

i though i knew loneliness

then we could not speak

I thought I knew death

then I could not love you

 

13

double vision

is lifeís astigmatism

double love will split the heart

and split every dream to double pain

bifold brain

double life

death and life, pain and joy

it is all bigamy

we pay the double price

for singular vice

twos of reaction

divide satisfaction

split cleanly

jumping cliff to cliff

over a bottomless chasm

love or hate, good or evil

alternating current

dancing between two poles

over oblivion

double up the mind

insanity

double up the heart

catastrophe

every speck of hope

casts a shadow of failure

o to choose in one

 

14

staggering

under the weight of it all

pockets dripping

with stinking new money

flashing

department store diamonds

sharply split

in suburban symmetry

suckling

on orange juice cocktails

suppressing

polite little giggles

assuming

carefully purchased roles

of dignified authorities on anything impressive

in affluent pleasure

they set to their dinner

discussing world famine

and the Super Bowl winner

and finally quaintly tipsy

they lapse into dirty jokes

flaunting platinum card snobbery

at waitresses who just donít care

and rolling on home

in a Cadillac express

reaching their dormant bedroom

they reluctantly undress

leaving their hearts in their pockets

and staring blankly

go to bed

 

15

need does not cause greed

need is the harlotís orphan

the bastard son of greed

that cries out why

greed is the unholy stud

that seeds all need

the selling of hope for lust

the lash that splits free flesh

the spike that pierces promises

the mouth that speaks heil Hitler

that seeks the blood of Zion

that chews filet of Jew

the Caesar that carves the forehead

that sells freedom for peace

 

16

where have you hid your treasures

in what play is your part

where did you put your dreams

where have you left your heart

have you put away your spoils

where they cannot be burned

where robbers cannot plunder in

lest your tables be upturned

is there no ending

to your backbreaking start

is there no bank to hold

your gold bleeding heart

 

have you put your trust in things

does it make your blood run cold

when you realize that diamond rings

with you cannot grow old

do you lay awake in darkness

lest a thief in the night

take away your youth and strength

and steal your heartís delight

is there no ending

to your backbreaking chore

what will you do

when they batter down your door

 

you know the things you care about

will become your heart one day

and the heavier your loot

the less your chance to fly away

better fix your eyes on heaven

if the stars start falling through

lest when you lock away your gold

you lock yourself in too

there may not be an ending

to your backbreaking drive

you may slave forever

and never be alive

 

17

could be

this pain flecked word manís tears

that spit against the glass

in this gray March month

and grace this sleety verse

in frozen years of guilt

and human love crucified on parchment

 

could be

the clouds of frostbite

burning deep into my horizons

that mercifully kill the thaw of sun

in this half dead spring

as guilt and Godness and I and words

in the uneasy peace of poetry

sing praise in a temple of paper

cry hymns of human anything

 

could be

I run like the wind driven snow

in this blizzard of misery

from whatever dawning dream I might be

 

could be

but I can never fall into step with myself

I am not sure which tread to match

as I walk this frozen sidewalk

in the metre of some misbegotten love song

in the hurt I know I am a stranger here

but the tears make it clear I belong here

there is a lightening love

that flashes in this storm of self

and splits me dead and living in two

I ache for it

to sanctify my dreams