A Collection of Poems by Dan Bruiger


 Do we not fly experience like a kite,
 on the string of attachment
 in the wind of desire
 on the beach of solitude
 under the kind but stern
 eye of the Absolute?

 I fall back into the arms of God
 that hold me secure like great fluffy clouds
 on those warm summer days when children
 jumped with glee into the billowy blue sky.
 God held me to the bosom of my mother,
 I took his hand crossing the street with Dad.
 Never did I worry for the goodness of each day
 as those arms held me savoring my worth.
 Now invisible, they still catch me when I fall.
 Je retombes dans les bras du Bon Dieu
 qui me tiennent secure-- grands nuages de coton
 les beaux jours de l'ete quand les enfants
 sautaient heureux dans le lit vaste du ciel.
 Le Seigneur me confortait au sein de ma mere,
 me tenait par la main fiere de mon Papa.
 Jamais je ne doubtais la bonte de chaque jour
 ni refusais la promesse de tout moment.
 Ces bras, invisibles maintenant, me soutiennent
 toujours.  Il n'y a pas de chute possible.
 I offer you, O mortal man, my golden nectar
 of excruciating heart, the silver of remorse,
 the restless mauves of passion and violet throbs of rage,
 the red declarations of despair, the black of unrequited sex,
 the false white of imagined securities.
 These are my hues-- yours to mix and match,
 artistic licence to kill and to cure!
 Play with these , O man-- try these effects
 of light and dark, of depth and perspective.
 Make unto me a living portrait
 that I may be satisfied
 you have received my gifts.
 Learn to work this pallette lovingly,
 for here is a beckoning taste of freedom.
 O man, I call out of thee my truest consort,
 clothed in radiance, a sun to all,
 the pillar of my power and varied subtlety.
 On me he showers unwavering devotion
 that I may give to all this coloured life.
 Endure these trials, that you be purified
 and come unto me, O my man!
 Is it only airline wine talking--
 bubbles of love potion bursting
 in the blood at 40,000 feet?
 So softly, strangely overwhelming
 to the mind, this life in the body.
 So curious and adoring
 of the mystery in these others!
 Is it all just chemicals--
 the whole of life and memoryís traces,
 the magnetic lines of beauty,
 the force fields of passions,
 cells bathed and renewed
 in each otherís fluids?
 Is it the intoxicating balm
 of orange blossom and rose
 rising above asphalt and traffic,
 permeating smog in the stillness before crime,
 pentrating fake indoor courtyards
 with flourescent light and fabric flowers
 in this paved-over paradise
 made safe for democracy?
 Not even the mind can live here
 yet bodies keep trying.
 A lizard suns himself.  A humingbird dives.
 In the distance, the faint sounds of barking seals
 mingle with the howl of sirens and neighborhood dogs
 as all the sun beats down.
 Is it the parched spirit talking
 from dried up loins, from pointless lineages,
 my fatherís desperation to fulfill
 his filial duty, his one reason
 for holding back the orgasm of death?
 Does a secret faith abide
 whispered from gene to gene
 in Grannyís sun-drenched yard
 on the edge of the ravine,
 with its sweet scents and optimistic birds
 and relentless ivy that hasnít heard
 the news for a million years,
 where a child giggles on the other side?
 Sir Isaac Newton sought the divine in outer space,
 not in the hearts of infidels and counterfeiters.
 He discovered gravitation, though not love;
 force, but not philanthrophy; the nature of light,
 but never the darkness in his own nature.
 As a boy his mother left him high and dry--
 an empirical fact no one then could study.
 Astronomers today have modern techniques.
 What a discovery, then, the obscure band
 down the middle of the Milky Way,
 black within white within night.
 These are the dark mother clouds
 where stars are born, and to which
 they return their dust, all light spent--
 each photon, however, a ship in a bottle,
 endless messages silently lapping on distant shores.
 Star do talk to one another!
 They tell their life stories,
 recount long gestations, brilliant careers,
 explosive midlife crises, and the slow
 contraction back into original wisdom.
 They stick together through it all-- the heavenly host--
 a gathering to chatter up Godís sorrows,
 holding each otherís grave attentions while
 the whole wheel crawls on its belly toward a new day.
 (all this in parenthesis
 to save you embarassment,
 knowing you would prefer
 I speak of God
 point to the moon
 praise the beauties of this
 and other worlds...
 anything but hold your gaze
 and tell you, you are the one
 who incarnates
 all this I treasure)
 The salty warmth of our two cheeks
 so urgently pressed for salvage
 these bodies marooned in the shipwrecked night
 cast adrift in a sea of need
 Strong and swift the current flows,
 self-renewing, cool and fresh.
 The tree stands sturdy on the bank,
 hearty with sap, roots dug in
 longingly beside the water.
 Dead leaves combed out by wind
 settle on the stream.  Sorrows and angers
 ripple down the river that never steps twice.
 The bough bends in the breeze and does not break.
 the river flows by itself, and ever flows.
 The heart creeps at a snailís pace,
 leaving its trail of jewels to mark the path,
 neither raw sense nor brittle shell,
 another creature altogether
 powerful yet armorless.
 Are we not turned inside out,
 wriggling softness surrounding
 an irritating remnant of hope?
 Good to clam up, protect
 what you think you are.
 Bettter still this grain should become a pearl!
 Winking over the wrinkled hills,
 the sunís grand eye
 cannot check his joy,
 nor from desire but what he is
 spills light the whole earth over.
 A second sun greets the first
 rising in a vault of skull
 illuminating wrinkled brain.
 In the lull of a moment,
 made of common flame,
 these two watch over you
 golden fires gathering
 just over your horizon.
 Are the sunís first rays really so dramatic
 or is waiting for the sun like waiting for the bus?
 Is sunrise a thing at all or is it endless,
 embracing day before, day after,
 kissing the wife goodbye,
 having coffee with the boss?
 The moment seems so singular--
 the metallic flash, the jingling sound
 of tumbling fare.  But when you
 put your foot on the step do you wonder
 where sunrise is going in its long haul?
 Or whether you will even get there
 or be forever waiting, transfer in hand?
 The earth groans through space
 stopping for all who want to board
 its lumbering path to release.
 The sun also wanders, and the galaxy,
 and probably the Whole Shooting Match,
 drifting, drifting in grace.
 Then such scurry for sunset, we rush-hour lemmings!
 Do tired eyes even notice the parting rays?
 There is not only beauty and truth
 at the end of the line.
 But along the way: tedium,
 chewing gum on the back of the seat,
 the careening joy ride polymorphously perverse,
 the tender viscous passage
 thick and sweet as the interstellar medium,
 home from the dance on the late night earth.
 Joy hath no itinerary, but like some bored
 mischievous god roams the earth a hungry ghost
 sneaking up on unsuspecting victims.
 Out of the blue another heart is fingered,
 laid bare by indiscriminate love!
 Egos dropping off like flies, what carnage!
 Suffering gone the way of dinosaurs.
 Dancing in imaginationís streets.
 Bygones gone by at last, masks flung off,
 costumes unbuttoned after the closing act,
 heroes and villains slapping each otherís backs,
 the whole cast partying the long night of the soul!
 Six billion angels dancing on the head of a pin?
 Whoíll answer the telephone
 turn the wheels of progress
 win the lottery?
 When the whole cosmic egg winds itself
 back into unfertilized singularity,
 the Big Bang unbanged,
 will there be room to dance
 will there be space for lovers to long across
 for Adamís finger to wriggle up
 toward Godís tendered hand?
 Time slides like blood home to the heart.
 I want to run after, call out wildly,
 shield you from apocalypse, never part,
 put a finger in the dyke of doubt.
 Though I enfold you in loveís rapture
 I cannot spare you the pain
 even of my own calloused way!
 Though I take you in my arms today
 I cannot detain you from your destiny.
 A man in the desert am I drawn to your waters.
 A mirage, you reappear in the distance.
 Though I hold the hour-glass in hand
 it is not mine to keep: all the sand
 of the dunes slips though grain by grain.
 Not one moment do I capture.
 Should the river freeze
 itís but myself turned to stoney sleep.
 How deep this spring you have tapped
 from which tears well not of sadness only
 nor contemplated loss, but a tide of sea-feeling
 across time rushing to join your waters
 your stars and mine tugging on puppet heartstrings
 wringing from our cloths the oils of understanding
 painís bulldozers clearing the wild way
 on the path overgrown between us
 man and woman at work, two nerves wandering
 like lightning in the brain of life toward synapse
 two halves of a mold burning out in the sacrificial fire
 two rafts becalmed in the stormís eye
 waiting for favorable wind
 knowing loveís tide pushes always in again
 Desire seeps like melting butter
 between my stack of hot-cake ribs,
 emanates microwaves through astral space
 to baste you in the spreading stain
 of first winter light, an egg yolk
 broken at the crack of dawn
 onto loveís well-oiled griddle.
 The morning after love has crushed you,
 idolled you in its many-armed embrace,
 you scramble to put humpty together again
 on the far side of the bed.  The riddle is:
 Like all else in the end, what falls
 into loveís black hole,
 from the frying pan into the fire?
 In this hand-to-hand combat
 I have no weapon against you.
 Each time you run me through
 with your stiletto beauty
 I stagger, uncomprehending.
 The fists of your laughter
 pound sweetly on my fainting heart,
 your glance tears blood away
 from brain cells dedicated to survival.
 Your odors claw at my desire,
 the rays of your softness
 sear my flesh.  Will I not dissolve
 in the onslaught of your caress?
 Will not even this bone of an ego
 be swallowed without contention
 in the utter delicacy of a kiss?
 Happily he lashed himself--
 to the great toothed wheel of fate--
 all the better to hear the sirensí call!
 Already mad with desire,
 drunken with the urge to fall
 overboard into the machinery of love--
 too late!  Let him have his shipwreck,
 be cast up on your shore.
 Let his salty lips awaken at your feet--
 that is the pilgrimage he longed for,
 your body his quest for truth.
 Some words are not hammers.
 Neither are they arms
 to comfort, to cling, but are space itself--
 the emptiness of the open door,
 the place set for the unexpected guest.
 In the beginning was pure stammering light:
 the word fallen flat on its face.
 But in the first second of the universe
 who could have guessed butterflies and birds,
 voices to sing or hearts moved by song?
 You, gliding joyously in the upper currents,
 with the slightest cock of your wizened eye
 take in continents I cannot imagine
 in my earthbound stride.  Do you see me
 far below, scrambling to follow your shadow
 across the tidepool bottom?
 What can I offer you, regal bird,
 but crustacean ease in the intimacy
 of denser worlds below?
 Flashes of the night of shooting stars
 one earth year ago.
 Your silhouette, your voice
 streak through darkened memory
 meteors brief as shadows cast by lightning...
 now count the seconds to the crash of loss
 relentless as thunder.
 Throbbing to share this sensuous night
 to hear your pleasure sparked
 at such a bright one before your sleepy eyes.
 And me, proud to have stumbled out here
 arm-in-arm to show you feral tricks
 groomed the whole year long
 for this one fleeting audience
 The break of golden smiles
 over your face awash with sleep
 the deep blue summer sky arching its cloudless back
 in imitation of your endless stretch
 your own starstruck backside lovely as summer nights
 disengaging from winter cloud covers
 a little more each dawn a widening swath
 of night-blooming jasmine-scented flesh
 pleasant as evening crickets
 smoothe as warm milk and drambuie
 a dizzying confusion of little brown stars
 floating to pythagorean music
 down a negative of the milky way
 the nerve-stripping tease of springtime
 calling out to the unsteady hand of man
 resting on the pillow beside you
 to reach for the stars:
 one small leap from such outer space
 How I love to lie awake beside
 your sleeping beauty, kissing your face
 with my eyes as the sages contemplate
 their waterfalls, speechless, breathless!
 You are the little notes I leave myself,
 the trail of breadcrumbs in the tangled forest
 because you cannot be forgotten
 because you are the thundering rush of beauty
 pouring from the void into the void
 Make no mistake about love.
 This world vows silence,
 where my body is the slate on which
 your chalk tenders its wordless message.
 I am charmed by the poetry of your touch.
 I am touched by the charm of your poetry.
 I am poeticised by the light touch of your charm,
 as your body leaves its trace on mine.
 Does blackboard desire chalk?
 Where is this you, this I
 at the point of contact,
 in the moment of love spelled out
 in Godís unmistakable hand?
  For Hal
 What a fine day to die!
 first thought I, sipping the cool
 dry aperatif of strange news
 passed like a tray of hors díoeuvres
 among convivials seated on the terrace--
 all waiting, by the sea in the stark evening sun,
 each and every one, to be served
 his own very personal last supper.
 There go I  -- my second thought--
 into that furled waterís brisk
 as I too did there, in the afternoon
 of other days, this time to swim
 on and on against current and wind
 that always blew one back to shore,
 out of reach now and unheeding
 the siren voice of the familiar.
 Third thought: do not mourn
 an old glove you find upon the beach,
 nor regret this tunnel through ambiguities--
 void passing through void
 toward inevitable surrender (to itself?)
 Unlived life grieves all abandoners,
 and is faithful with its little tricks
 to rearrange priorities.
 I walk out upon the gravelly spit,
 Sit on a log to watch
 the waters merge like highway lanes.
 Here the road ends  (think I lastly).
 The eye travels on single file
 toward that vanishing point
 where shifting tides meet
 and a new journey begins.
 in dancing laceworks wafts
 through crests of undulating glass
 lulling over the duny bottom
 as warm breeze meets waterís edge
 patterns playing also behind the eye
 in the brain that invents seeing
 and again in the soulís enchantment
 at these delicately layered ripplings
 crystallized from void, aboriginal
 as morning dew on a rose unfurling
 light breathes through pores of nothing
 passes through and through
 the tie-dyed silken skin of existence
 through gelatinous films of thought, grain by grain--
 for your eyes only-- this incredible son-et-lumiere
 the magic lantern of a captive hour
 where seeing is believing
 the dance of seven zillion veils
 the greatest show on earth
 holds you in its hand
 O movie goer and star!
 you shine with the light of its light
 as you barefoot through this vale of roses pass
 and when the last footage flickers through
 your silver screen career toward brilliant white-out
 you will know beyond all doubt you are
 that intensity itself-- the very thrust of life
 threading through green pastures
 the scintillation on the seascape
 the irridescent flash in the dewdrop
 the gleam in the eye
 of this luminous flea of a world
 crawling through the dark fur of eternity
 For Jack... 

 They say you can't take it with you: 
 money, fame, pleasure, pain, dignity... 
 Exits, like entrances, are naked, squishy, abject, absolute. 
 Though anticipated, always surprising 
 like the urgent telegram that makes you leave all behind 
 in haste, like the car abandoned at the side of the road. 
 Even the distillate of memory is too thick 
 too heavy to evaporate with soul's humours. 
 Levity alone rises to the occasion. 
 Four score years of keeping it up draws one vertically 
 in the crossfire between matter and spirit, 
 stretched, then stretching toward final ends, 
 each time with fresh eyes of surrender 
 and feet planted firmly in the soil of beginnings. 
 Gravity teaches balance. 
 Then one day an angel jumps out of the bush 
 to wrestle you finally to the ground. 
 What can you say in that summary instant? 
 "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace..."? 
 Or: "Have you got a moment, buddy-- 
 there's something I'm dying to discuss..."?       

 More likely: a gleam in the eye, 
 as grappling cedes to embrace; 
 and the crack of a wry smile 
 that has all eternity to spread
 I would dance with you 
 in a steady elevator to heaven 
 through still silent snowfall 
 or cheek to skinny dipping cheek 
 in the sultry eye of a hurricane. 
 I would pause to sway with you 
 as trees grown together windward of music, 
 limbs poised to migrate cell by cell. 
 I would crawl with you 
 through the snail love of carousel giraffes, 
 cavort with you on adolescence' lost savannah. 
 Time would lapse as stars arc to follow 
 the rush of clouds toward declining light. 
 I would spin with you 
 through recorded space 
 galactic arms entwined 
 in the repose of unspoken familiarity 
 thick as blood, in close embrace... 

 Whatever muse he dreams upon 
 I too know, by another name. 
 For now I share his secret smile-- 
 the ivory sage upon the desk 
 wrapped in centuries of saffron bliss, 
 insinuating joy unseasonal 
 as tender shoots in hothouse soil 
 that untimely care arouses, 
 green and innocent of dinning rain. 
 Such starts defy the winter pulse; 
 for vain are new beginnings if 
 the gardener's toil tends not destiny 
 in humid hearts as in glass houses.
 through the open window 
 cold night air 
 pulls a smile over the world, 
 the whole works: a moment of breath suspended 
 between the tic and the toc, 
 myriad crystallized galaxies 
 scattering like snowflakes 
 turned upside down

 this breeze, I think, is driven 
 by the very spring that moves the world and joins all things, 
 poised between a snap and dissipation, 
 the endless reverie after (or before) 
 the truly big bang 
 for all the faces, I couldn't find you then 
 cramped in the great rewinding, 
 knowing you were there 
 interlaced in this common world where 
 space is a strange dream of separation 
 and time the riddle of the cake 
 both had and eaten. 
 Only now is there perspective-- 
 room enough to see, 
 to touch you across, 
 tinged unavoidably with longing 
 The hired hand shovels-in the wellspring 
 that bleeds from the world's foundations. 
 There is a path that reaches round 
 the dark side of the moon; each 
 footfall masks a stifled cry 
 behind closed window. 
 Listen to the tune. 

 There is a thing grown hard with time, 
 its coarse hand over the white throat 
 it scarcely recognizes as its own. 
 You can hear the gasp for air 
 fainting with tenderness... 
 A song is handed down 
 in the lithe bodies of children 
 and the wails of crones. 
 A tale yet plainly to be whispered 
 through the baritone lines of history, 
 a clouded vision gathering 
 behind mournful eyes. 
 Never bite the hand that rocks the world; 
 the one you cradled in your breast 
 and groomed to be the wonder of the earth... 
 Look at him now, racing to mars 
 no hands on the handlebars, 
 a hungry ghost! 
 And therefore shall Penelope 
 unwarp the thread that's hers to weave, 
 the pattern unimagined yet by nature 
 or the lethally prosthetic hand of man. 
 She would rather sing in moonlight, 
 by the ancient spring. And 
 what she wills, she can.

 The sheer wonder of being here 
 attacks always unexpectedly 
 like a sniper in a shopping mall; 
 gone when you turn to face your assailant. 
 There is always an altar, empty, 
 in the temple of conundrums called love, 
 where no man can enter without 
 fashioning an idol, a pretext for surrender. 
 If longing stalks you, don't 
 report it to the heart police; 
 innocent names will be named, a culprit found. 
 Not even God is above suspicion. 
 To be an intransitive verb, an audience 
 for unconjugated desire... That is the question, 
 or on stage to fake intransigence? Either way, 
 soon enough the theatre will be dark! 
 If my eyes chase your ankles adoringly 
 across the floor, if my hand wanders 
 too often back to yours; how else to embrace 
 this fervor that demands to be danced?

 I retrace your footfalls 
 on ephemeral sands, 
 bejeweled impressions sparkling 
 between dark undertows. 
 See the steps abruptly overwash 
 as though the music stopped, 
 the dancer rapt away, 
 leaving the astonished cheek, 
 the crush of warm embrace 
 emptied like a sail becalmed. 
 Wind knows its business 
 but luffs and flusters 
 when tack is too direct, 
 uncertain which side to rush upon. 
 The sailor too is breathless 
 poised to come about 
 on the sea of endless miracles
 I thank all the gods I'll never know 
 for the joy of moving with you 
 to feel your heart beat in step 
 close against mine, as though 
 the big sad world had disappeared 
 and there were only love to fill hearts

 and simple tasks to fill minds 
 I am grateful, too, for bliss 
 whose sudden stabs of absence 
 of overflowing shorn away 
 recall that final theft 
 that there is only this 
 brief oasis whose clever sands 
 no brittle plot withstands 
 I bless this wakeful sap 
 that hazards time has mercy after all 
 that players chance to meet 
 on unknown stages, benignly cast 
 with rhyme if not with reason, 
 that in another season 
 there will always be 
 one more dance...
 By gathering phosphenes 
 dropped overboard in space 
 landlocked astronomers surmise 
 life histories of stars 
 long before there were eyes. 
 Their beacons, too, beam love 
 to the reaches of the skies...

 in case someone's looking 
 by the time light arrives 
 bobbing in its petty pace. 

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