The poetry of Al Liebson had a major effect on artistic development, both in written word and music, in the East during the 1970's. That introspective period between the community of the 60's and the resurection of the Corporation Man of the 80's had very few voices that spoke to the conflicting value sets. Liebson's poetry, in particular, bridged that gap. Teetering between the free love of the 60's and the Me-ism of the 70's, Liebson was able to capture and describe a zeitgeist that few were able to articulate.
The 60's were free expression, free love, free of responsibility for much of the artistic community. The experiments of the Beats were taken as de-facto standards for modern poetry, and the poets of the 60's chose to follow the freedom thread of the Beats, rather than undertand the results of the Beat experiments.
There was topicality, the war in Vietnam and the culmination of the Civil Rights movement generated their own poetry, indeed, however that tended to not stretch the bounds of art, rather it stretched the bounds of subject, of content. While important, it did little to advance art.
By 1971, when Liebson's early work first appeared in print, the failure of experimentation was come again, and free expression had sunk to abstract brinksmanship or commercialized pap. Like the Paris Commune, like the 1900's Free Love movements, like the Beat sellout, there was nothing to guide the art.
Liebson's works soon emerged as a ray of hope.
Liebson's approach was radical but sustainable. He embraces the change in morals that the 60's represented, and could articulate the spirit of sharing the Hiipies represented. But he understood the harsh realities of a dream dissolved, the blood of the war, the disgrace of the sellout. He recognized the dissonance of successful commercial culture and "Free" anything. Admittedly many others had, also, but he was one of the few to find a technique to write through that barrier. His combination of neo-classical style, modern subject, and jarring simile was the catalyst for a new breed of poets and artists, one that continues to affect the arts through the present day.
Sadly, this was also the period of transition from print to digital, and many lost track of the best of Leibson's work. Leibson himself became disenchanted, both his personal and professional life had transitioned away from an ability to express himself clearly through poetry. A brief career in popular music did little to encourage him, the realities of Disco and the early entry of electronica into the popular culture overpowered the more artistic efforts of anyone working in New York City.
Though a strong influence on a generation, the actual lines of verse have been missing from the American literatry landscape for almost 20 years.
We here at Ravenware are very proud to be able to announce that this drought is now over. We have at last made contact with the poet of the post-commune, and by special and exclusive permission are able to present to the world the works of Al Leibson.
Please check back regularly for more detailed analysis.
Please note that all works are copyright © Al Liebson, and used with his gracious permission. No other reproduction is allowed without express consent. If you would like to reference this body of work on your web site, please link to this page.
C.K. Haun, for Ravenware
The Squirrel and Fallacious Monk
The fallacious monk and squirrel are
and beasties know of folly, what they have to say
their knowledge can't grow
to speak of their own thoughts and how
the fallacious monk and squirrel cry
that we are good and that we say
to live is not to have to die.
They've frowns upon their withered brows,
and contemplate my chinly flow,
but what it is they have to say
is that of which they do not know.
And pray, why do you look upon them:
Is it that their boat has sunk?
No! cried they; angered, we say
to squirrel and fallacious monk.
These tens of thousands, buffoons are they:
Ten coats worn in July; you know
their pocket-watches, smashed are they
(the same wear nothing in the snow).
But beasties tell me what to think;
the monk confided in me: He said
there's nothing but to be able to think
these thoughts of taking his squirrel to bed.
Irrelevance; I shouted, hey!
to him and sadly he agreed
twas something he had just brought up
to satisfy his fallacious greed.
What's there to do but live and die?
I asked him, and what he told me
was, Go, my son, to the land of Nod,
and in Quincy Cave find the Beasties Three.
Sometimes I look out the window and think,
What's life for me? What have I in store?
I came to feel that I needed some help
in research, so I went back for more
of the Beasties Three and their picket-fence
all laced with roses and barbed wire fun.
I asked them how I could find myself
which could be answered by Number One,
who told me that, in Neverland,
you are not a what, sir, but a who.
I thanked him and asked him, please, to go on,
but he grunted and took me to see Number Two.
Like the treasures of the pirateís map
he told me of the place to see
just who I am; he told me the name
of Akkerman; go to Number Three
who beckoned me (the fallacious monk),
Go to your squirrel; for miles you'll trod
with her to the Shire, and there you'll find
this Akkerman who, incidentally, is God.
We shuddered and bent in silent prayer,
in waistcoats four and my golden fob
which hung so limp from the Holy Watch,
and I, the monk, began to sob.
So I stood, then danced in a frenzy so wild
with my squirrel who had shut down our shop
where we sold our wares that shined above
the others, then my hair did drop.
I think of the day when I'll reflect
on chinly flow, and I'll have her;
this squirrel whom I desire so
is just in my mind, she's merely a blur.
Truck on, you fool, to your native land
and see the changes in your monks
how they love their squirrels, and you'll see
the crocs that pull on elephants' trunks.
I thank you Beastie, oh Number One,
for informing me I'm not a what but a who.
The Beastie told me of Akkerman,
this not One but Number Two.
And most of all I take this time
to tell of him, how it is to be
with he who tells of Neverland,
oh prophet of Jan, rare Number Three
who opened wide the doors to see
upon the ocean the sailing ships
with cargoes of carrots and rubber rice
from the land of the sultry nips
who speak of life, sublime it is,
but reckon, thou, with those who know
of liver and gibbets and hooded flutes;
and then we met him: Laszlo the crow,
who spoke of life and obscurities
like the dreams of a thousand albino moies
who spend ail Saturday night in thought
of being themselves, retching in holes,
and trucking their masturbating minds
to the Lord of the Flies and Venetian Blinds,
who's shut up in his worldly tastes
with pistachio and some other kinds.
Laszlo, we learned, would confide in us;
then, seeking and probing into my head,
decided that my philosophy was
obscure these days: I should take her to bed
for the plain and simple reason that
these sexual fantasies are in the mind;
the squirrel can drive fallacious monks
to lunacy in her demian bind.
A life spent in her loving arms:
a dream that's one of this poet's own.
A life with somebody else would be like
I'd spent all of my years alone.
But, owing to stupidity
I won't have her, and so I cry
inside my dreams, but does she know
I'll live until the day I die?
I beseech the spirit that controls such things
to bring back she whom I desire so great.
Oh to have a magic lamp
which would erase this from my slate.
Through these years of searching in
the hills of Mongolia and in a cloud,
I met a young fallacious monk
who did things he was not allowed,
like floating in his own balloon
and dreaming that the day shall be:
us wed, the monk and squirrel, too.
This day shall come, you'll surely see.
I rode upon a French-bread reef
in the path of a perverted young rainbow trout
who inquired directions to Scarborough Faire;
I told him, My friend, there's one way out,
for you must find the sea of joy
to live; I had to cry so bad.
Responding to his shrug, I asked:
Oh, why does love have to be so sad?
You see, the others do not trust,
not in the way that's in your minds.
Perverted people are killing my soul
in my quest of these new found finds.
I'm shot down in my struggle to love
the squirrel, for I'm the fallacious monk.
I returned to the Beasties, and what did they say?
Advance to the topódon't forget your trunk.
I boarded a ship, and there I saw
the sailors were celíry, the captain a shrub.
So I climbed on top, and to my surprise
I was allowed to enter the sub,
and there I found, to my delight,
thousands of little green nasties oh joy!
So ent'ring through the holy door
I knew then she was not a toy.
Jumping and walking from the ship,
my mind was a jumble of carrot sticks.
Looking beneath the sheet, I found
good Laszlo, the crow, up to his old tricks.
'Tis a feeling of mixed emotions for me,
knowing that this floats within my head,
that of all the maidens I can take
none but you will share my bed.
I look in the sky and I see a cow
flying the course of a 707,
but here with Squirrel, in her arms,
I know I'm nowhere but in heaven.
Up in the clouds there lived a man
who lived on carobs and currant fruit,
spending days contemplating life
and playing on his Scottish lute,
singing of desks and table-legs,
stepping on toes and living off drunks,
walking the countryside, alone
but for fellow fallacious monks.
The end of all must come right now
for nothing at all is left to say
but greed brings sorrow; listen, heed:
I pray you'll save your squirrel today.
The End of All Fallacious Monks
The fallacious monk has left a tale
for whom the Beasties could not save.
If studied it, perhaps, might lead
the way to moss before the grave.
The cabbage that you plant today
may grow to be a boat to sail
the waves of amber-colored seas
in haste, though hopes you shouldn't fail
will come from squirrels lacking tact
who speak of future tales of woe
that they will cry for wasted times
they hadn't yet, but do they know
they're squirrels of a past report?
Though taken by unknowing fools,
they spoke the truth, and so we seek
admission to these monk-filled schools.
They knoweth not, but still they tell,
for knowing more might stunt their growth.
But they, though a fallacious class,
demand all monks-to-be swear oath
that, though remembered, they in fact
refuse to cater to their whims
as once they did in foolish hope
that wretched squirrels sing their hymns.
Fortune-hunting swabs may flash
their scabbards in a ruthless fight;
they still succumb, unchallenging,
when stricken by a squirrel night.
Embittered by a tragic loss,
thy scabbards drawn a final time,
but fate is nigh, and distant bells
reveal the swabbish deaths in chime.
Old salts can slap their knees in beat
with hearts once pounding love forlorn.
But Laszlo still remembers all
and yet prefers to munch his corn.
The crow, friend Laszlo, bent in age,
now stoops for kernels; in his prime
preferring swooping over ships
and talking Barth, and sucking lime
as Robin once had, in his chair
behind a smoke-filled Harding-room
where chosen were the friends of those
who longed returning to the womb.
Though old, good Laszlo knew his stuff
and spoke as straight as ever; he
denounced old French-bread reefs as rind
of limes he'd tossed in reverie
in celebrating his induction
into wearing waistcoats five.
In questioning his motives we
were told, though warm, he was alive
to fan the flames the Beasties Three
had once ignited from a chunk
of tinder rescued from the sea
by the revered fallacious monk.
We asked the crow, does he exist,
still naked of a logic mind?
Indeed, said Laszloóhe's the one
the cabbage sadly could not find.
If Moto is as Moto was
and he is me as I am him,
if they've grown old, then there's no hope
for middles fat and minds grown slim.
The Lords fade on and lose what once
they had in building minds of men.
They can't return as youthful crops
that sprouted high as they did then.
The lads no longer sing the truth...
or do they, as they've never died.
They'll roll in pig-sties' murkiness
and let their days approach their slide.
What ho! Reserves have taken posts
to guard potatoes' peelings well.
The leader spoke to save pigs' food
and never barbecue in hell.
Then Laszlo shook his beak in shame;
the crow'd been drifting in the day.
He alibied oncoming age
as causing frequent mind delay.
He spoke of Beasties Three and plots
that they'd devised to bleach him white.
What's crows, he asked, if feathers black
don't show? Perhaps one day they might.
He spoke then of another day,
another time, and other bunks
in which heíd slept; he lacked concern
for backs of poor fallacious monks
insisting he might take the cot,
the only bed betwixt the eight
of them; this night when he did lie,
and monks conspired and spoke of hate
for Laszlo; petty jealousies
obscured and clouded feathered minds.
Would Simon Bear claim mattress when
in company of crowlike kinds?
Indeed he would! cried Laszlo in
defense of actions of the crow
who beared the name he could not speak.
But, Laszlo, did the bruin know
of comfort he forsook in name
but not the honor of the thing?
Can innocence be rocked with guilt?
Could bears of wealth refuse to sing?
Oh monks! Return thine feathered caps
to feather ceremonies twice.
Refeathering's the reason why
the caps, upon return, are nice.
Have crows distinctions such as these?
I asked good Laszlo, so he spoke
of Akkerman, as did the Three
in Quincy Cave (from fire came smoke).
We've nothing, really (crows, that is),
that differs from a kidney pie
but feathers and a beak to match
and wings to lift us to the sky.
But reckon now, respective pies:
Tis true thou cannot glide alone;
but Yorkshire pudding Figgy, too
can cause your flight above the scone.
Now take into account the monk
who started all fallacious flow,
who fled to Nod and found the cave
where beasties told him where to go.
Reflect, thou, on the lessons learned;
heíd nothing at the end to say
but taken principles to feed
himself on any fateful day.
Keep what thou hast taken from
the words the monk composed from thought;
the chinly flow, released to those
whose songs the monk had sung had bought.
They see the world much clearer now,
the monk and Laszlo, too, we learned.
They speak now not of hooded flutes
but of the saints that ought been burned.
Albino moles mean nothing to
the crow and monk who've since grown wise;
dispelling myths as meaningless,
refusing now to fantasize.
But what say they of Akkerman
whom once was spoken of as God?
He still remains but looms obscure
in lands where once for miles weíd trod.
His word hangs high for those who'd seen
a year of sad fallacious monks,
and squirrels who were dearly loved
by those so set to pack their trunks
who now will do so, but alone.
They'll go to find awaiting stars,
there chewing rope and quaffing ale,
to and fro in cosmic cars,
and finding sand in Roblee shoes,
spitting blood once saved for love;
sadly then, regretting that
they have no hope to look above.
But Laszlo and his friend in life
will starve the others' souls to die,
telling searing stories that
will fear the body to the sky.
Dream, thou happy, toothsome babe,
of roses grown for only you.
For you carnations once were fine
but now they're dead, and buried, too.
I want to die, but fear I fear
will conquer those who shut the door
to life; the others, though, proclaim:
Fallacious monks we'll be no more!
Return of the Fallacious Monk
The fallacious monk has risen once
again for broken-hearted times.
There is but one, and so he seeks
throughout the skies for hidden rhymes.
Longer than his eight years he's
been living off the bark of trees
and crying over what was his
and laughing at the mice that freeze.
Like a volume of destruction
heíd been reading Rabelais
and storing well-preserved notes
and loving she of fish filet.
His broken-hearted mind cannot
remove the presence of the song
of what she is, so now he takes
his funds to bankers from Hong Kong.
The monk once spoke of scabbards, swabs,
and old salts that heíd never met.
He vows that though held never been
there he would travel one day yet.
If Adams chose to stunt his moral
growth, the monk would bury him.
The man himself had picked him up
but left him hanging on a limb.
In defiance, speaking not
of Laszlo, Simon, Quincy Cave,
or beasties, now the saddened monk's
forever on the midnight wave.
His destination, Pakistan,
wherein his heart now lies in wait,
and hopes that fears not realized
will find him as he lies in state.
No more pictures painted high
of moles so white their eyes are pink.
Now French-bread reefs are served in haste
with curry so the times may link.
The Beasties Three now represent
what once was four; he never knew
the sadness that he felt one night
as Chapman was aroused to do
the thing the monk had always felt
would pierce like arrows to the heart.
He was alone; finality
had caused the monk's fallacious start.
He has no visions, has no hopes
of ever finding love as fresh
as that he found while trekking through
the fields of far-off Bangladesh
and what lay nearbyóthere it was!
The treasure that the monk had sought
so long, but sadly, to his grief
he found that she, years back, was bought.
In questioning of life itself
he thought he'd found the missing piece.
The only truth he learned, it seemed,
was self-destruction cannot cease.
The kindest thought was offered him
while chinly flow began to sprout.
His heart was touched by Pakistan,
for she had found the one way out.
The monk, relieved, now felt a joy
within him that heíd never known.
He knew now, though a hermit monk,
that he would never be alone.
A nerve was struck, or so he thought:
Her beauty was enough to shine
as if a star, a galaxy;
but still heíd need another sign.
He thought now not of currant fruit
but Harvard Square and Little Joe.
The jota was a fellow monk:
the other one had hoped heíd go.
But if perchance his long-time friend
punked out and failed to follow through
in traveling New England then
the monk would not know what to do.
Regardless he would make the trip;
if neccesary run around
the country in an effort to
reveal that he could not be found.
Of his fallacious attributes
his love for Pakistan's atop
his list of quirksome irks that he,
above all others, hopes to drop.
It's such a feeling of respect
he finds for her that keeps him from
revealing his fallaciousness and
sends him back from whence heíd come.
He prays that pictures will appear
to keep him hidden from his pain;
it all leads back to fatal nights
of lying and ignoring rain.
Oh yes! the Squirrel! Does she still
remain to shackle helpless men?
Perhaps in life, but not the monk:
He cannot but remember when
she held him as if in a dream;
the monk looks back all bleary-eyed.
But now it's darker, hidden things:
He feels that fate's not on his side.
The broken-hearted words he speaks,
the crumble in his ashen face;
he's solid in declaring he's
resigning from the human race,
to live apart from silken hair
and eyes that burn right to his soul.
He issues statements to the press
and lives with the albino mole.
The monk's no different than he ever
was, and those who know him say
his genius lay not in his words
but brightening another's day.
He wants to hold and to be held
by those with whom heíll never live.
To she from distant, eastern lands
all that he has he wants to give.
Again to speak obscurities
and rhetoric like J.Q.A.
who'd never feel fallacious-bound
and would, no doubt, refuse to stay.
The happiness he sees in her
(from Pakistan is whence she came)
is proof of Schopenhauer's thought:
Fallacious monks are all the same.
Driven through the snow, across
the sun-baked, soaked Tomorrow-town,
he saw the Adams chair again
and then proceeded to sit down.
Heíd never seen such treachery,
what men could do to mortal soul.
His disappointment ran amuck
in his attempt to fill that hole
with kindness and a simple word
to separate a tortured mind
from beauty and its harmful smile
that otherwise appeared so kind.
The monk was quite mistaken in
his reckoning, and timing, too.
Apparently he jumped too quick
and landed in the witch's brew.
The brainlock that he knew that day
resulted not from any food
heíd taken, but from Pakistan:
Heíd found he wasn't in the mood.
And now, so lost: Decisions made
were not the best heíd ever found.
Instead of heaven, heíd resigned
himself to falling to the ground.
And after all was said and done
he sat alone, not quaffing ale
nor putting shot, nor shooting crows,
but in his own fallacious jail.
He knew not words of logic that
perchance might save him from his fate,
for love was strongest, so he sighed
that all that lay ahead was wait.
The powers that he felt could save
now faced him on that field of war.
The love that warmed him many times
now hoped that he would breathe no more.
Instead of facing up to it
he laid emotion to the side
and gaped about the sunsets heíd
revered while on the countryside.
Fallacious monks know not a time
when happiness had come to stay.
Their monastery breathes these words:
"Can you remain for just one day?"
21st-century Fallacious Monk
To tread the paths fallacious monks
Have trod to reach the novitiate
Is thrice akin to wading through
The stream that rushes to the gate
Where, once collected, tolls are used
To cover costs for prelates' books
That all contain the food for thought
For neophytes but not the cooks.
To know that one is part of some-
thing bigger than each part could be,
Despite the laws of logic as
Put forth by Wigglesworth at tea,
Can only serve to draw a look
Askance at what one otherwise
Would realize could never be
The same in Prat and Gridley's eyes.
To once have been John Adams, to
Have read the volumes in his stacks,
Accumulating knowledge, and
Collecting stubborn things called facts
Could only whet the stone that hones
The blade to heights that otherwise
Could never be attained by those
Not Adamsesque in shape or size.
The fallacious monk has eyes to see
And ears with which to hear the cries
Of those for whom he sheds no tears--
The multitude for whom the lies
Had danced across the page just as
The German's roads seemed
Uneducated are the ones
Who see the world uniquely small.
That Edward Wigglesworth remains
To be debated in such climes
As once were the Horse Latitudes--
But this was in more equine times
When one would never know the need
For corn laws made to regulate
The trade of crops that once were
And served to only feed the state.
The logic taught by Wigglesworth
And studied by the monk is found
In all the latter's writings: It's
In logic that all truths abound.
But oft times concrete, abstract thought
Will not suffice in eyes of men
Who aren't men although they think
They are, and that is always when
The fallacies of well-fed monks
Are read in tomes prepared by those
Who'd seen the wars and had been scratched
And still, rather than open, close
Their eyes to what is meaningless
In the grand scheme, but under glass
The truth be told: You never see
The volume found behind the mass.
In being the fallacious monk
I've found that there's no way to find
the reason for existence and
that there's no point in being kind.
The kindness that's of which I speak
is one that's twofold, and I know
the reasons are fallacious, too,
and now I have nowhere to go.
The images I lay behind me
serve no purpose but to peak
the curiosity of those
who find they've nothing else to seek.
I'm only me, and cannot be
quite otherwise, for this I know
would prove that I'm a fop, and then
I'd hope you'd all enjoy the show.
I cannot show but what I feel,
and this I've played 100 times.
The images projected are
but shades of future sucked-out limes
which breed the self-contempt that self-
destruction placed within my mold.
The heat of my resentment fans
the flames that keep me in the cold.
My mechanism of defense
remains the kindness that I weave
about those whom I hope to show
my kindness is but to deceive.
The pictures in my mind are now
quite different than the songs I sing.
My intuition's clear enough:
I plan to seek another thing.
The silken hair of which I spoke
remains the finest that I've seen
or felt; the latter in my heart:
I've never traveled in between
the two folds of my two-fold life
nor have I sat beneath the trees
that grow within the heartland which
is situated 'cross the seas.
In searching for the reasons that
I'm quite unlike the world's true norm,
I've puzzled minds which better mine,
yet I remain not even warm.
Perhaps my purpose lies so deep
within my heartswept, tattered brain,
for there are days so beautiful
when all my wishes lead to rain.
Confusion drives me to the wall:
Why decimate a new-formed plan?
The warmth her eyes emit can force
true logic to escape a man.
Well beneath the attitude
revolves a never-ending chain
of struggle ëtwixt my logic and
emotion, leading to the rain
again, which forms the puddles of
a muddled and bedraggled hope
of hopelessness: There's no escape
from life untouched by pills and soap.
Can images appear like fire
and dance across a sun-bright sky?
Can apprehension lead me to
the puzzlement to wonder why?
The actions of my intellect
appear throughout my written word,
a matter which, when coupled with
emotion, leads to the absurd.
My steady, studied logic looms
like lightbulbs filtered by the moon;
so bright it's deemed impossible
by those who hope to quell it soon.
They beg me, rest my wearied mind;
not with their words but in their eyes.
The love denied between us soon
will send us winging to the skies,
if there exists a heaven, truly,
as I've learned from blinded men
who try to teach the word of God
(who never learned to use the pen).
Despite my wide-eyed Adams thought,
despite my grandeur on the sly,
despite my heart-felt touchiness,
despite the twinkle in my eye,
despite the tenderness I boast,
despite my generosity,
despite my swagger dandified
and muffled mediocrity,
the melancholy still remains
and always will within my mind,
within my heart, throughout my life
unless another world I find
where, left alone, I'd tend to things
so distant from her piercing eyes
that I'd forgetóor so I think!
I'll never claim to be so wise.
"Farewell to Fallacies"
To understand fallacious monks
it's necessary first to read
betwixt the lines drawn down the road
to whence the monk had come must lead.
For he himself who has survived
for ten years in a mortal state,
emotion once was dust but now
he's grown to love and learned to hate.
Unwillingness to learn has drained
his body of its chance to love.
Heíd only be content to take
those naked to what he's made of.
Didactic discourse flows where once
bold image, bright with color, lay.
He breathes polemics; rhetoric
on toast awaits him on his tray.
He hopes to catch within his words
those symbols which define his life.
The compass and his turban, too,
sit, unbelieving, near his knife.
The monk's concrete; abstraction's but
a task for which he must be paid,
referring now not to his dreams but
back to cots on which held laid.
Mistakes he's made cannot be lost or
tossed about like dusty spools.
Repeated like a fallacy,
they're laughed upon by callous fools.
Remarking how the sun shines bright,
he's saddened by the lustful looks
exchanged by those amused to know
he's happiest among his books.
He dreams of sculpting halavah
and slicing off a massive hunk;
a monument decayed as is
the shackled and fallacious monk.
Returning oft times to the words
composed from flow of fluid red,
the monk considers monkdom's laws
as statements 'pon which Adams fed,
as gibbets which Villon did fear;
ah, Francois thou must never leave.
The wine consumed by fools at court
is that which serves but to deceive.
Francois, we hide behind our words:
French poets and Alsatian coal
are strangers but to wretched scenes
like those quite near the grassy knoll.
The tragic truth and sadness dwell
amidst the charges that prevail:
Fallacious monks are left alone
to crumble in a putrid jail
outside which wass'lers moan of pain,
not of their own but others' plight.
Their cantos soar so high that we
must decimate them in the night.
We give their waistcoats to the poor:
Pray, who are we to judge this case?
We ought consider who we are
and that the vests are trimmed with lace.
I pray I'd been Francois Villon,
not merely he of latter days.
I'd haunt the Court of Miracles
and learn of Beppoís wine-soaked ways.
To know the joy a keg of port
could offer fools electing kings
is thrice exalted than to own
the power that a scepter brings.
The rule of monarchs who are blind
to self-destruction hastens hate:
Who are these ìkingsî who theorize?
(Francois Villon awaits my fate.)
The words of Dale have opened wide
my eyes to read above the sound.
There's more to words than what we say,
more than enough there to astound
a budding Johnson, Quine, or Yeats
who seeks to grasp the world of art
as if it were the canon law
(which must be read before they start).
The dreams which linger to be dreamt
are chased through air by silent souls
resembling not an image of
Ferdousi nor albino moles.
A fawn so small and delicate
can represent its size ten-fold
in what it means to he who knows
he'll love her still when she's grown old.
My life disturbs my work at hand,
so much so that I shake my head,
for knowing that I haven't time
is testament to what I've said:
To rush about, neglecting that
which courtiers, in their study, read
while dining on a dainty fig,
content in knowing where words lead,
what signs mean, where logicians go
to pray, and aestheticians dance.
I'd do a jig some joyous morn,
annointing VILLON king of France!
To unify that thought with those
that thinkers dwell upon at sight
would prove ten volumes, nay, a score,
and keep me writing through the night....
As if it were dealt through command
of he, the ten years and four days
without whom would all but existó
poet and poem must go their ways
alone, but Francois, freed from chains
of exile, now returns to live
where foreign-cultured bones lay dry:
He'd never had the chance to give.
For two and thirty years fallacious
monks with staffs in hand had trod
the deserts of Arabia
but now sip wine and walk on sod
once dug and then replaced by men
who'd toil for half a day with sweat
upon their backs and brows--the lash
produced what stuff was not theirs yet.
The tricks and trades of those once trained
for lives of poetry now stand
aside and lay decayed, as dead,
for medicine and math take hand
and so provide a way for monks
to find their way back to a state
where statesmen sit and stare at more
than those who choose to only hate.
Remaining are the dreams the monk
had lying in his hold in case
the campaign he had waged had failed
and he had faltered in his race,
like playing in the clubs he'd seen
and reading Talmud through the night,
discovering that study was
for its own sake, and in its right.
It's happily ironic that
the monk will never realize
these dreams, for that regarding those
who've gained importance in his eyes
is now the image that he sees
through spectacles heíd ground by hand.
He won't allow himself a trip,
one way, back to Fallaciousland.
He's through committing fallacies
in arguing his stance on things
and right to live: He's won his case
(among that now of which he sings).
He lives now not in Pakistan,
nor Bangladesh, but in his home.
His travels take him far; his heart
now sets the course on which he'll roam,
and that course is a path that takes
a lifetime to traverse; he knows
the way by heart: Therein it lay,
and only he sees where it goes.
To know the route fallacious monks
have trod for nearly twenty years
means studying the volumes writ
on knowing what the deaf man hears
when listening to the words of those
who speak of crutches men have used
to prop up that which needs no help
in knowing what should be refused.
The monk's own precepts, cut to shreds,
were published by monastic fools
whose ink and paper, fonts and paste
(which were reserved as stoic tools)
became part of a syndicate
committed to committing crime
against those who the monk adores
(for whom, he's found, he finds no time).
Capablancaís primer now
replaces Akkerman, although
the days of Jan remind the monk
of many things he needs to know
and what he's learned from Carlyle's pen,
from things heíd never read before;
for everything he's read, he's found
that there remains so many more
appointments to be made to see
the places where he'll never go;
he sees himself too serious
on points of law he'll never know:
He's never read his Prosser throughó
he had no Putnam there to rail
about abridgements, written in
great haste though not in great detail,
prostitutions of the law
which simply can't begin to teach
a deeper understanding of
the law which better minds can't reach.
The songs the monk will listen to
are chronicles of his own life,
each generating memories
of his top-notch Swiss Army knife;
a masterpiece of Swiss detail
that serves to organize the laws,
complied with, monks will never fail
to master their Justinianó
obscure today in syllabi
devoted to the corporateó
indeed, John Adams now would cry
to learn the state his law is in,
that riding circuit has but ceased;
his standing while at "Colledgeî served
to prove his self-esteem increased.
To know the words of Adams is
the thing one should aspire to,
for what one needs to know before
deciding what one needs to do
is learning how to know thy self,
improving what one knows at sight,
what one can write about at length,
and teach fallacious monks at night.
To be affected by the words
John Adams wrote, most notably
to Skelton Jones and Cunningham,
is what can make blind beggars see
and is so good as to obtain
for all good men a thing to need,
then to be neededótherein lay
John Adams in the words we read.
But even he, at times, cannot
correct what's wrong when monks are sad.
They have no patience, tolerance,
nor care at all for what they had,
for that is old and meaningless,
not shiny, new, nor helpful in
the chronicling of what means more
or less the end of monkish sin
when monks get in their minds a thought
of taking what's not theirs; when friends
can't recognize the crime at hand
and means can't justify their ends.
(dedicated to the memory of the brother of Francois Villon II)
Spring, we learn, connotes rebirth
or birth for what had never been,
whose heart had yet to beat, and that
which none of us has ever seen.
To sleep upon the ocean is
the fate of one we know this spring.
The only solace is to know
what summer and the sun may bring.
The words lay on the paper; they
serve but to organize the grief
that lives within the hearts of those
who know for it there's no relief;
for he'll remain here for our eyes
to see, and for the tears we've shed
and those yet to be cried, for still
we can't believe that he is dead.
He cannot be replaced as such
but still his place is taken by
another as all ours will be
by others who will wonder why
as we do now; it doesn't seem
as real as the things we see
but looms more real the longer that
we know that life is what's to be.
The Bird & the Twig
While sleeping one night
in a small bus depot
a little old man
and his senile young crow
came bounding on in
with a pumpkin in hand
saying, ìThis we had got
at a lemonade stand
where vendors would sell
pocket-watches and crepe
little nighties that they'd
sew together with tape.î
Then heard I a voice
from the little black crow
and when I turned around
he was white as the snow,
telling me he had seen
of a stubby young twig
who was three inches long
and in other ways big.
He was quite a mess
(a bit sticky from cake)
but complained to the crow,
"I have not seen a break.
Many people would look
and then turn me away
for I am quite a messó
does that change what I say?
Could a neat little man
be of cumbersome size
while a messy old fool
be the one who is wise?
Would it matter that one
is not pleasant to see?
To me it does not...
Oh, but I'm just a tree."
And in answer to this
the little black bird
in his chirpy-chirp voice
said but merely this word:
ìFools,î he said, ìfools
would look on this whim;
though loving, this person
would not be seen with him.î
While looking in the eyes of Bird
with tears from heaven-sent,
proclaimed the Twig of "the last of Earth;
indeed it is; I am content."1
John Quincy Adams
This life I've led I have not seen
what could have happened in between
the sheets with whom it may concern
who'd teach me all I'd have to learn
and now alone I think of what
I might have done upon a cot
with she for whom it may concern
for whom the fire in me doth burn.
If I have been so eloquent in stating trepidation,
I only mean to reproduce edition on edition.
If love would find me sleeping late then found me not residing,
it only means I spoke with he in whom I was confiding.
And if I feel a twinge of mellow grey for past contentment,
it only means I'm foolish for misleading my resentment.
It's for lack of worldly ways, perhaps,
that I've been dormant when
desires make their presence known;
I kick and dance as does my pen.
I waste, I waste! oh, haven't I
another art of which I'm proud?
Can I induce my pen to sin and
go where I am not allowed?
Woman's name is passion and her mother is the wind.
Born in paradise, her birthright angels did rescind.
Burning eyes so bright she holds a scepter like a pen,
why forever questioning who gave her one and ten.
The murder of romantic soulsótherein her passion lies,
so death remains for Cyrano who's taken to the skies.
If Yeats had not such a passion,
high among the clouds where none other could be,
would Maud have left him in despair to fight for liberty?
That Villon, I pray had not a guile, and desire
to retain romance and kick and dance through Louis' reign of fire,
he would have lived a sweeten'd life (for dry held under-rate!).
No bridges burning down his walls, but gibbets and wine, in the end
entombed him with his fate.
To dwell upon my yesteryear: a testament of folly!
I throw my vanity about
in ways of which I have no doubt
that old romantics (in their nineties)
staring at this starving soul
will kick and dance;
"The King of France
I'll be!" I cry, as did Villon.
Upon my seat of deviance
I'll wave my scepter as I please.
But, ah, Francois in slumber deep
I can feel the tears you weep
as I indulge these lines again.
T H E J A C K C A N T O S
The man was good,
the man is dead
he had red blood
flow from his head.
we loved your hair;
it's sad to say
it's no longer there.
At your hair's peak
it was auburn red,
though matted and weak
when you were dead.
Mother couldn't be here
today, it's true,
but Oswald could and
that was bad for you.
Mother's rollers were
Kenneth wasted them on
that dried-up seed.
Jackie's hair was
teased and tossed
'twas more than a set
that she had lost.
I speak to you, oh Jack of life,
as if you were still here.
How large you loom, as though a storm,
and of your coif you took such care.
To know that you once stood with us
and played with Macaroni's nose;
when Patrick Bouvier gave out
also your tale came to a close.
Lee Harvey you broke
all our hearts that day,
and if Jack were here now
I know what he'd say:
"Get Mac Bundy on the horn
in this hour of grief and challenge;
take money for the plate from Red Fay;
get good jobs for Sarge and Sallinger
Could there have been another high-
powered rifle in the fray?
On the grassy knoll, perhaps,
as Dr Wecht was heard to say.
Regardless, Oswald's bullet smashed
that handsome, cinder block-like head.
The baggie filled with goop, and Jackie's
dress was sprayed a spattered red.
Her pillbox hat and roses all lay
scattered and all strewn around.
Johnson's complaint of obscurity was
shattered by a carbine's sound.
The missile was well-aimed and hit
its mark as if it were my heart.
Jack's head cracked open, and we knew
that Johnson's term would shortly start.
From which side of the boulevard
was Kennedy so disapproved?
I guess that Connally was wrong:
Was Jack in Dallas truly loved?
They killed the man: Suffice it to say
that someone wasn't fond of Jack.
His face, though, was so handsome that
they had to shoot him in the back.
The first of three shots rang out loud
and hit poor Jack right in the throat.
I wonder what his thoughts were then:
All this just to get a vote?
Could anyone have been so loved
that hate would surely find its way?
Would Oswald waste his time to try to
pick off Kick? Perhaps Red Fay?
Dave Powers said it best, I think:
"A nation died that afternoon."
But I think LBJ was glad,
and took the oath of offish soon.
It seems too clear-cut, cut-and-dried,
that Dallas was where he was dead.
Lyndon clued Lee Herbert inó
he took aim and shot off Jack's head.
Now Dr Wecht speaks of the slam,
the force of which appeared so great
to push his body forward and
that's why the president is late.
I loved that man, that handsome Jack:
He was so beautiful to me.
I loved when his head opened up:
There were so many things to see.
The nation, though, and Jackie, too,
lived on through those most frightening hours.
The ones I felt most sorry for
were Sallinger and David Powers.
They had to get real jobs when death
claimed Jack and robbed him of his soul.
His friends sat round and reminisced
of their beloved jelly roll.
L I N E S O N J A C K
Jack's red hair shone like a sheaf
of wheat in the warm, midday sun.
He piled it high upon his headó
it might have weighed an auburn ton.
It did no good, however, when
it might have proved its worth to Jack.
His head was human; now it's not,
and then they dumped it in a sack.
That all the evidence is hid
looms as insulting to Jack's name;
our Jack, who never would deceive,
now rests 'neath the Eternal Flame
which feeds on gas disgorged by those
who killed Jack in cold blood one day.
We shudder when we learn the cabal
took their oaths with LBJ.
Johnson would reward Clay Shaw
et al if he had had his druthers
and give their wives all Cabinet posts
unlike Jack (who named his brothers).
Jack's wife was sad when he was killed
from in the Book Deposit'ry,
but although hated, he was loved,
that man from Choate Jack Kennedy.
There are some theories stating that
Jack's head was blown to bits that day
by more than one we'll never know
whose blast had prompted Jack to say,
"My God, I've been hit!" and hit he was!
He knew that he'd been badly hurt,
and so his tie and suit were locked
away with his Jack-spattered shirt.
Then Jackie cried, "They shot my husband!"
But who were they? This word's been said
again, yet many times again
we'll ask, "Who broke apart that head?"
And what a head oh my! I think
that through the years that head will grow
in size if not importance, too,
and rise as if filled with bread doughó
his face was fat: We can't deny
the doughiness about his cheeks
had made the target large and caused
investigations of many weeks
and some that lasted months and years,
some yet ongoing, but I think
the truth can only come from men
like Cyril Wecht and Dr Finck,
men whose training served to prove
conspiracies on Kennedy:
The backbone of these truths must lie
in forensic pathology.
R A R E J O H N A D A M S
Adams, to whom was once referred
regarding law's decay of late,
wrote volumes on the elements
beneath the democratic state
and why said state cannot survive
on principles of Romish law
depicting people as if they
still sat in seats great Caesar saw.
Steeped in his Blackstone, Adams read
Dutch commentary through the night;
the continental writers all
backed Adams in his lifelong fight
to prove the statutes he applied
in cases of the Adm'r'lty,
where men were more than men and meant
much more if they had family,
like Adams; still, for lonely months
heíd ride the circuit on his horse
and plead the cases of unknowns
and gain him but a sense of course.
To wonder if to be was not
enough, but otherwise to friends,
who seemed content enough, but not
to one set to examine ends
and deem them worthy, questioning
the reasons he had set aground
on Earth; there must be reasons more
important than the ones he'd found.
That Fame, he learned, loomed largest of
the passions driving him to be
the finest lawyer of his day
and long rest in man's memory
was long the fault that others and
that he himself found in his breast;
to rid him of the vanity
and need for lac'd and silken vest
was all his years the thing he found
that served to spur him on to fame,
but not in his own lifetimeóhis
a relatively absent name
from rolls of honor and esteem
which for the undeserving ones
posterity built monuments,
but not for Adams and his sons.
The older man pronounced a wish,
nay, a command on those he sired:
Preserve all that they write so that
imaginations may be fired
and spurred to emulate the men
who filled their books with letters they
had written; volumes filled with thoughts
of those who felt they had to say
the things that needed to be said,
when others could not comprehend
significance in writing down
what otherwise they'd only send.
To bind in leather all the words
John Adams felt a need to write
is what another has in mind
to do, and will one day, despite
attacks from all redoubts well-manned
by French aristocrats who swore
that they were not themselves and now
prove less than when they proved much more.