To Jimbo and Jeanne . . . and Because of Jonathan


Gustav Klimt, 1909

Saturday, November 28, 1987

Orlando, Florida

The Jeanne Miller and James P. Morgan, II Wedding

The gardener digs in the earth,

piercing rich soil with shovel-edge,

turning and churning moist ground,

hoeing the ground, the gardener hoes the ground.


The women approach the gate.

She, Rosie, pulls back the wrought iron

and Barbara goes in, Rosie follows.

The gardener looks up.


Fresh turned earth seeps a smell

of readiness.

And Sonny waits.

These women bring the seed.


They walk with mother-touch,

Firm press of foot-soles mark their intent.

Sonny knows. This is what he wants.

The ground is ready.


Barbara bends to the soil, parts it,

deepens a trough in cool black crumble.

Rosie, the seed cushioned in the center of her palm,

leans to roll it out and down the sculpted tunnel.


They hesitate. Neither moves. The gardener

waits. As if the next movement could be

thwarted, put off, the tiny seed taken back

from prepared ground

at the bottom of a small hole,


in the garden of the gardener.


But this was only a moment’s hesitation.

Both women scooped cupped palms to cover the tiny life,

pressing soft earth to contain and protect the seed.

Barbara poured water over the mound.

The earth drank it up.

Each woman leaned back.

The work was over.


Now to sit, still, so still

and wait, just as the gardener waited,

watched, with foot propped to shovel-edge,

his hand resting on Rosie’s shoulder.


This was no ordinary waiting, in ordinary time.

Years, the two mothers watched

and Sonny leaned to see, as the ground was pushed

back by the fledgling plant, unrolling

its succulent stem so like the embrace

of a man and a woman,

indivisible and upward to the sun,

warm and open. Two branches broke out from the main

stem, opening to the roll of warmth that descended.


Reaching stems proffered leaves, like palms

of lovers asking and receiving the necessary,

Stems lengthened to vines, leaves widened

and the mothers watched, the gardener waited

till day faded–no ordinary day–and night’s moon

yearned halfway down. The vines folded

into each other, bent and twisted and wrapped

within each other, so like the life

of a man and woman and the night

was good and cool and close.


Yet the sun came back,

slow creep into black,

slow to pink the sky,

and orange the dawn.

Vines untwined, palms unfurled

and reached sunward so like imploring arms

of lovers.

And the mothers called

to others: Paul, Fred, Vickie, Jacquie,

Wendy, Dean, Flora, Louie,

Michele, Nancy, Bonnie, Ike.


Now is the time,

full and open is the day

no ordinary day, no ordinary time

as vines bear fruit,

unnameable fruit,

two distinct kinds from one plant,

so like two friends

of the compassionate kind.


And the people hear

and the people gather

at the gate to watch the mothers

and the growing vines

and the gardener keeps hoeing, hoeing.


white peacock

Robert Mapplethorpe

Long and lone I fled into a vessel

I saw a blood lake yawning wet

I couldn’t say anything

shut up as a pea in dickens of care

I flew out, aped my horse sense and

Crusted angels frisk and his nose joints,

outbending any sleeper. O but a nile to lie down!

Death cane loaded, he was slick to be wheeled.

Now they crawed his slippers, now they licked him to sepia.

They were climaxes.

He was condensed,

turning again,

shifting his limbs over humps of seconds.

Steamy loss, he had pelted each trust of the casement,

prominently unzipped and hiked out to the field on his knees.

An anus relates peaches to paintings and his ran a whip to the bone.

Leaning into the beam, nipple-wishing, dealt it deeper.

A hollow body-skip lanked him, piled him to a salty pitch.

The other, lipped in cold cement, rammed the walls,

drove the edge up to his arm, honeycombing

pain to the sills. Light sang cold and opulent, in yowls.

O master! O fulsome bone!

A death like toast is freer and bleeds—

no longer sempering but devastated,

dropped, devoted to foreskin—its rich pull.

—mickey morgan

Darling, the Brick’s Disintegrating


[Portrait of Mrs. Boucard by Tamara de Lempicka]

Darling, the Brick’s Disintegrating

mickey morgan

Darling, the brick’s disintegrating.
The low wall on the driveway is nearly
no wall at all. The grass grows through
the cracked tar face.
During the long day draped
in my duster, I gaze
from the nylon bed of the lawn
chair, count the colors of metal
on the freeway. My vision persists
in blending them to chocolate,
insists on the scene of your homecoming.

You roll up and park, flattening
grass in sticky tar. You smell
of truckstops, bars
and hotel conference rooms. We make dry
love. You go.
I swallow
the fourth dose with a little
milk then paint
my nails with a third coat.
The fumes lacquer the air—
I feel heady.

Staring through the picture
window I dream of your foot
on the gas as you edge
up to pass on the right
but you’re in the wrong and you smack
to the concrete divider.
Fenced in by plate glass, I watch
the grass snake
up the legs
of the lawn

After B.

my left eye

[her left eye]

After B.

A future is not a past

A future is not now

Now is what I have

for a future

Green soft sweater

that mom gave me

Today I might walk the track . . .

But even before that . . .

Now I’ll work

Page by page

One page, one line

Haydn singing in swirls

around a green soft


with a gravity-bound body

weighted under it

Now is hot coffee, a cigarette

Not yesterday, not last week, not Saturday

not last night’s darkness

Now is something of this morning’s

drive to work, a cigarette, ashes tapped out the window

human voices, talk, writing on the radio, sound cuddling a car

into a garage, swinging around to level four and couching into

a place with grease dribbles unique to that part of the concrete

Something of John smoking outside the door to the elevator

Monday, isn’t it?

A past is dead, has death in it,

will sink a person in search of it.

Remember this lesson.

The past is whole,

won’t be segregated from its parts

My mistake. A mistake.

Mistakenly taking the unctuous edge

for the center, the radiant warm center.

Rather it is an oozing wound

with fever on the edges

I saw. It glowed

like divine light, like bliss.


And when a woman makes a mistake like this

she has to go on

over the rocks to find a place

where she can try again, have another

chance, please, give her another


And she can’t go back.

She must make a life for herself.

Must make a life wrung out of the old truths in her

–or not at all–

on the rock, old stone,

that shamelessly speaks its own inevitable truth.

Its voice is deep.

Like a hurt woman.

I like it. I try to speak its truth.

It sounds of wisdom.

It enfolds the past

in understanding,

that lays to rest, still as that old stone,

all that was


and rankle

Its voice is the kiss of a mother.

I try to speak like her

So . . .

thank you for a clean kitchen floor

for Baron’s clean bowl

for roses

that die beautifully, today

and tomorrow

Mad Fool


Mad Fool

We need some few of us to hold the inner space.

To watch.

To witness.

To contemplate.

To see the swirl of it all for what it is

and give that perspective back to the world.

To pray.

To read.

To write and study.

To meditate.

To generate

compassion in her listening

so it swirls out into the mix . . . she is helpless

to do otherwise in this life.

“Some are called to move in good action in the world.

Some few are called to be still.”

A fine balance is sought.

Equanimity between

movement and stillness

wants to come into being

in her world.

She is not a mad fool.

She is a mad fool . . .

” . . . she must be bipolar!”

Banyan Tree


Banyan Tree by Herb Kawainui Kane


Woody torso, heft of skeleton,

dendriforming figs, tholes

the afterthought.

Roots (fruit too,

in a sense), insouciant

to the central source—

long established trunk,

arbor vitae whose gray

nerveness overponders,

overspills herself.

Roots take off and variously plunder

the ground, groping for re-entrance

till that tree is many-fettered in options,

multiple sources, arboreal vividity

rigid in basilisk lock.