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for David and Phillis Gershator
Make your own holiday, I want to say
forget the scolding billboards the feverish malls
the glittery tinsel the hard and soft machines the guilt.
Forget Santa Claus in his red suit
(it was blue in Yugoslavia,
a country that has fallen off the map).
Forget the gross national product forget Wall Street
the rising market.
Make your own bread rise in your oven.
Make up new recipes.
Make your own candles, I want to exhort
Make those bees work overtime!
The past glimmers seductively that happy safe radiant place
where snow wrapped the village in angelhair
and Grandma's cranberries winked like rubies.
They own it now the conglomerates the CEO's the dream dealers.
They sell it back to us in bits and pieces.
They've downsized our fantasies.
They want us all wrapped snugly in electric blankets
dreaming the same-colored dream
while the locked-out people, who can't afford dreams,
play with matches down the street.
Perhaps I shouldn't say a word.
I'm a stranger in this culture.
In the milltown, the stores dazzled us each December.
Red electric bells sang on every corner.
Mothers and neighbors swung through the streets
Lionel trains toasters perfume doll furniture bedroom suites.
(My tether the radical worked overtime
smiling, accepting greetings for a day he had no part in,
coming home exhausted after all the bells winked out
We lit small candles made pancakes hung stockings
Santa Claus, my mother allowed but no Christ child no pagan tree.
We weren't extremists.)
My mother the 30's radical
trapped in the 50's in a house too small
for alt her talents-even her talent for sorrow-
to/d me, "Don't buy me a holiday card.
Why make tiye card company richer?"
I thought of making my own pulled out paints
too messy too lazy too undextrous I grew discouraged.
Hallmark could do it better! I
gave nothing at ail those years.
But this year, in the diminishing 90's
when all the old hopeful flames have guttered out,
as the century melts down like a candle
to a small hard nub,
when too many of us are locked out of our stories
in this dark cold overworked tunnel of time,
I want to give something back to the universe:
I want to be politically correct
(or incorrect, depending on your viewpoint).
I want to say, Let's make a feast,
a feast of candles a feast of languages
Let's celebrate each other's Gods
(and dreams and histories). Lef s sit down and listen.
Let's do Christmas Hanukah Kwanzaa solstice
Let's invite Buddhists Muslims Hindus
secular humanists anarchists Gnostics.
Late December is a needy time. But
we don't need the solace of bought objects.
We need each other's light.
ROBERTOH FABER'S FUNERAL (10/7/05)
"RobertOh Faber... is a Pythoness of deepest
insight/awareness. If you think that's some
kind of snake, use your dictionary" * Will Inman
The pythoness was placed in a box and lowered
into the earth.
Apollo came by, stared a moment into the hole
and went his way.
After speaking a few words that were God's and a
few that were the pythoness's
we returned to our ships and sailed away
under grimly uncertain skies.
*Pythoness: Awoman who practicies divination.
A priestess of Apollo
When Verdi was at work composing,
living up the street from La Scala,
the road was strewn with hay
so he wouldn't be disturbed
by the horses' hoofs
beating a counter-tempo against his heart.
When Tony moved into the new neighborhood
he found little trust on the home made streets.
They put down glass so the street lights,
after a hard freezing rain,
would shine up rainbows at all the windows,
including Tony's, and cars would drive by. .
AFTER READING OLD LETTERS FROM THE DEAD
so little nourishing
understanding in all
the pantries of the night,
when you wake from
a bad dream with
horror movies in your head
and all the stupid,
superstitious talk of ghosts
as if they were real
there in your bed,
when they are only
in your head
stuffed with guilt
beneath the quaking
SETTLEMENT OF THEIR PRAYERS
Young Wolof speaking men display
bright orange, brown and green gowns
for Brooklyn prayer~the mosque Albanian.
Their men preserve gray, peasant wool.
Shoes are placed on shelves and anger dies.
Television dies. City walks let men
quick and clever hawk slit skirts or leather
amid stealth and chaos, sigh sigh sigh.
Cicadas bigger than spoonfuls sing
hymns from maples. Sleek cicada
killers fly and cicadas die.
Blame none. Leave the dead behind.
Sky could freeze, soon,
Albanian and Gambian breaths together.
Roses die, tones of voices offered
above beads held by a human order.
MY DARLING MAGNOLIA TREE
It left me with trembling legs
and a mind like
a pile of house timbers
stacked in the wrong lot.
My magnolia tree!
my best friend
right out back
by the raked white sand
of my garden
My tree was dead! My darling pearl of life!
The secret mind no longer
whispered through the axions of wonder.
Was I Gone?
There are at least two types of Gone
Beat Gone & Grim Gone
and now I'm like a warped plank in that sinister erasure
I read about once in a Victor Hugo story
a man betrapped in a sink-mire
on a long wide beach
I am the guy whose legs tremble
on the edge of the ward
I'm Gone. Gone to the place
where the Lake can't be crossed
I need help. But this is not a cartoon.
And there is no cartouche
containing any of the necessary words
Well, maybe "Argh!"
and the words of Sartre
"We are alone, with no excuses."
Dope won't help. Tight shoes won't help.
The poems of Rilke won't help.
Help! won't help
There is no secret mind revealing
aught about aught
or thought about thought
in the sprayed X zone of
from which I can never recover.
Therefore I am.
Created on ... September 27, 2007