i was hurrying along court street
my very long hair was blowing in the wind
and trailing behind me
it had become unmanageable.
as if by divine, hairy intervention,
a barber pole appeared on my right
just before i got to state street.

i tapped on the window
peered in
i didn’t see anyone
a dark figure stepped up to the door and the lock clicked open
“are you open?” “yes”
“why was the door locked?”
“to keep unnecessary intruders out.”
i looked at the barber and stepped back in fear
his body seemed to be pure muscle
his hair was very dark and majestic
as if he was a black lion

i tried to think of a reason for exiting
but he led me to a barber chair.
i think i stared at him as if he was a monster
“are you from israel?” “no”
“egypt?” “no”
he put a hairstyle catalogue in my hands
“choose the way you would like to look”
now he stared at me and imitated my questioning
“are you from canada?” “no”
“england?” “no” “usa?” “BINGO”

i chose a medium/short haircut style
that would last several months
the wall in front of us was all mirrored
he worked very quickly, didn’t say a word
each time he finished a section
he held up a small round mirror
for my inspection
it was perfect
he turned the chair around
so i could see the finished cut
“would you like a shave?” “yes”
he picked up a straight razor
and sharpened it on a strop
“oh,no,no,no, i’ve never had that kind of shave.”
“it’s the best”
“are you afraid i will slice off your head” “yes”
“i could have done that already”
“look into my eyes. can you see kindness?”
he brought his face in front of me
and stared into my eyes.”well?”
“you’re not evil.” “but am i kind?”
“i don’t know,
i don’t want
to die in a
barber chair.
i’ll pass. maybe next time.my name is daniel.
what is your name?”
“azizz. it means mighty, powerful, beloved,
and daniel?”
“god is my judge.”

every time i looked in the mirror
to admire Azizz’ handiwork
i smiled.
his touch was magnificent
i decided to visit him every six weeks.
at the end of each cutting he would
smile, “would you like a shave?”
” maybe next time”
just before the holidays i decided i would have
a straight razor shave.
maybe azizz would smile or even laugh aloud.
as i turned the corner at state and court
i could see that the barber pole was gone.
there was a ‘for rent’ sign on the empty shop door,
i stared at the black and white tiles in the entry way,
i ran my fingers over the rusty screw holes
that had held the pole.
i felt deep regret and knew that i had lost
something which i didn’t even understand

i was hurrying along atlantic avenue
it was starting to rain
i hoped to get to bergen street
without getting wet
then the heavens opened
cars stopped and pulled over
people disappeared into doorways
my hope began to wane
i buttoned my blue raincoat
buckled the belt and ran
suddenly lightning hit a pole
about a block in front of me
when i got there i stopped
saw that a traffic light
was neatly separated from the pole
i always wanted to have my own traffic light
i opened my coat and covered the light
nobody was in sight anywhere
only me, the idiot, who covered a traffic light
instead of himself
i ran because i could
reached my apartment
after i dried off and put on pajamas
i used some old towels to wipe off the light
it seemed three times bigger than i imagined
a few months later
a friend wired it for me
with individual buttons for each light
he refused to wire it to blink
he said my electric bill would be gigantic

young, liquid, curving, fluid
draped along the wooden stairs
moving up and down the deck
just past teen
touching their bloom
into ladyhood
taking photos of each other
smiling and bouncing furtively

don’t stare too long, old man
they may see you and point
they may laugh and giggle and
scream at your flabby grayness
old man humped, old man bent, old man dissolving
suddenly caught by a sunbeam
turning into a large sunspot
no one noticed you

young, liquid, curving arms
fluid legs still growing muscles
posing around the picnic table
moving in and out of their chairs
being served
like bubbling princesses
disappearing into the photos
reappearing decades later
as old women
with flabby breasts

      your life force is so powerful
      so gentle is the life force
      your soul is cleaning inside
      soon all the evidence will disappear
      you are the ultimate sun worshipper
      turning on your back,
                     gathering every fragment
      i will miss your handsome beauty
      i shall never forget one speck 
                           of your essence
      your soul is turning
      all of your loved ones are wafting you
                       your journey is beginning


              my tears mixed
              with your stuttered
              my stroking hand
                 was almost still
              each stretch   made
              toward      the sky
              felt   fully  final
              we grew closer
                    to each other
              we grew  far
                      away from selves
              struggling became gentle
              gentle became  stillness
              you disappeared   slowly
                   i   became


    sometimes it seems
               that the earth
                 and the universe containing us,
                   doesn't even know you
                    certainly doesn't know me
                   there is too much for contemplation
    after many years of waiting for someone
                    to come and explain everything
    we expect to find a truth hidden in a tie
    a lie smashed on the bottom of a shoe
    a forgotten discovery under a grandfather's rocker
    your brother's unknown secret scribbled on the back
           of a photograph
                this is the time to sing
          to touch the purity of sound
                   the endless continuity of breath
          to create a feeling of eternity
          to want to live in that forever sound
                 don't ever want to leave it
           it will be enough for me
          take            gently my hand


          "beautiful Galileo"
             and then again "beautiful Dziadzi"
           as though a single word
              a passage to elsewhere
           as though one phrase
                           can loosen
                            all that is secured tight
           at once everyone can stand
                 it is impossible to ignore the light
                              when   summer     lingers
                                in the wake of solstice
              when we can allow everything to open wide

              ( for Galileo/Dziadzi-judgey )






he decided he was not going to die
instead, he would just disappear
dying can be very painful
often it lingers for a long time
people no longer know what to say
some people say goodbye several times
returning too soon can be embarrasing
he’s still alive
if you disappear
you are there and then you are gone
it’s abrupt, but definite
your entire body is gone immediately
no ashes, no casket, no tombstone
it’s very inexpensive
all of your clothes are gone, everything
all your books, all your photos, all your smiles
and then there’s a part which many dislike
all trace of you is gone
you are no longer you
all thoughts vanish
you are less than invisible
nobody remembers you
it’s difficult to contemplate
it’s quite economical
the ultimate recycling machine
pieces of all that you’ve collected
stick to an endless carpet
it all rolls up like an enormous pinwheel
and the last object to stick is you
it’s over, it’s finished, it’s gone
you won’t hear any crying
you won’t be drowned in tears
some people think it’s selfish
some think it’s considerate
an amen isn’t necessary

all that we call holy is dilluted in the present day
it is almost non existant in the noise of civilization
here and there a sacred thought pushes through
the garbage
and begins to sprout with the pale timid green
of life
the atmosphere is laden with smog, sin, greed
and gold
the essence of love is underground waiting to
be nourished
kindness gazes from faraway mountains
find your voices in alleluia
sing and chant a sanctus
remember our resurrections
we shall sleep until the earth is gone
we shall breathe another planet
from the bowels of the galaxies
the air will be pure chartreuse
flowers will dream whatever they wish
everywhere will be washed by paleblue, glistening water
quiet shall cover the sunset with technicolor
there will be: no people
no hatred
no wars
only the sound of distant humming
only the swish of bourrees
only the endless
dance of peace

don’t forget to look at the rose tree
it’s magnificent
the springer rose bush
is having a halcyon year
it is no longer a bush it is a tree
its pink is beyond pink
its flowers light
the entire back wall of the garden
in the middle of the roses
there is a full scale bougainvillea
this once tiny rose bush cutting
loves the soil and the sun
it traveled here from oregon
if it were allowed to spread without pruning
this would become a rose orchard
one dark, moonless midnight
i awoke to the sound of a color
i walked to the edge of the deck
it was fullshining
it was pink aglow
the rose tree had become luminescent
don’t forget to look at the rose tree
it’s perfumous


somewhere in my teens
i realized that there
were many voices in my body.
my every day, all purpose
voice was only one of many.
i started reading and reciting
poems inside my head,
using my inner ears to listen
to the hidden voice of the poetry.
i think i might have learned that
from my high school English teacher
Miss Clark.
one day i approached her desk
with a question,
“would you be so kind as to help
me with this paragraph?”
she looked up at me
with the brightness of the sun.
“what a wonderful way
to ask a question.”
her smile pulled my entire brain
into the knowing of the question.
as i walked back to my seat
i was embarrassed but delighted.
Miss Clark always tried to capture the imaginations
of the entire class
” look at this character. what kind of voice does it have?
would its voice be high or low
scratchy or smooth, hard or soft?
if your body was inside its body, how would you feel?”
and when i looked up at her, i would discover
she was gone
floating high above the classroom
laughing with the ceiling.
once when we were reading Macbeth
i looked up at Miss Clark’s face

she had turned into three witches,
“when shall we three meet again?
in thunder, lightning or in rain?
when the hurlyburly’s done,
when the battle’s lost and won.”
she was flying around the room
i wanted to join her flight
my body wasn’t ready

she's tall
she's thin
her skin is light, chocolate cream
she is very beautiful
she moves very quietly

not on purpose, it's the way she moves
you could be talking to her
and then she's gone
she spreads the laundry out
on the smooth, round, dining room table
it looks like the most important
movement of the day
but it's just another gesture
she stands with natural grace
she walks within her beauty
even now when the baby is
growing inside of her
she often hums; i'm not sure why
perhaps while her brain is planning
perhaps to quiet her mind
perhaps to laugh with her baby
it's as though everything has a purpose
she would probably smile
if i told her that
i try to imagine how it would feel
to be so comfortable in my own skin
it seems like an impossible action
just to be what you are
just to be beautiful
pick each day from a tree
taste it slowly and graciously

he peeked out from behind a very wide tree
started walking quite cautiously
they spotted him almost immediately
started tugging at his manager’s jacket
he pulled the three gentlemen aside
they were very excited to have found them
they spoke in hushed tones
the manager returned to the pianist
” they offered you a million dollars
for one concert “
” do you want to do it?”
” yes,
fresh dover sole every day,
fresh green asparagus every day,
my piano must be transported,
it can only be guarded by new yorkers.”
” is that it?”
“y e s.”
they all started babbling with joy
as they chattered on, the artist disengaged
fr om the bulk
backed away slowly
tiptoed behind the same wide tree
when they finished talking
and the contract was signed
they turned around to congratulate the pianist
he wasn’t there
he disappeared
they walked away slowly
not knowing what to think
when it was completely quiet
he moved out from behind the tree
found the nearest cabstand
and went home

( for Vladimir Horowitz )