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Joe Doe

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Concord, CA, US

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Redistribution of Health

by

Joe Doe

It was a holiday, when
The rich Eagle flew in. It
Was the Year of the Rooster.
He had done as he was told.
People milled and scratched about
Street shops, talking about farms,
Family, flocks, and work friends.

The hospital was ready.
When the rich Turkey arrived
Almost like Thanksgiving. As
He was plucked for surgery
Word was sent to the prison,
"Women shi zhunbeihaode."

The prisoner was run out with
Feathers of agony on
His face. His crimes against the
People were read, but the real
Crime was health. As sparrows
Turned to watch, a gun quickly
Turned him into a headless
Chicken. But with little brain
In the spinal cord he fell,
Forever, to the good hell.

Several aids jumped forward,
Like Tibetan Vultures, glee,
Clicking their beaks, when the skulls
Are smashed by heavy hammers;
Dusted the body, useful wings,
Onto a canvas stretcher
Quickly carrying the carcass
To the hospital while tissues
Were still fresh, for everyone
Was unspeakably ready.

A week later, when the rich
Cranes left, the holiday was
Over. Like children not allowed
To watch fireworks, they wondered
What had been celebrated.


Waking Winter to Sleep

by

Joe Doe

How hard the handsome turns too late
Where no earth seasons permeate;
Distance is no fast barrier.
One season is always the worst.

Tumbling, turning, no anchor, boat
Without ocean and more remote.
Fear is real, pebbles out here are
Cruel weapons; white balloons will burst.

Swift is the angelís tear. No limbs
Enfold. He sucks and leaves a film
Of cold red to hide his horrorís birth.
Guide stiff crib back to motherís keep.

Later, back on land, white Service
Trees in bloom, in spite of ice,
Walking away from Acreís earth,
I pause, waking winter to sleep.

Note: The first three stanzas take place in outer space, a puncture death by a pebble size meteor during a routine space walk. The Service Tree is the first tree to bloom in late winter in the Appalachian Mountains. In the old days, when people died during the winter, when the ground was frozen, they would be kept until the Service Tree bloomed. When that occurred, they knew the ground was no longer frozen and a grave could be dug and the funeral service could be held.


Grown WIld

by

Joe Doe

Youth has its own world
Separate and intense under
A terrible sun more mellow
Than a daffodil, wetter than
A furnace until warm winds

Come to cool donned pearl,
Each drop on pine straw mere
And soon forgotten by willow
Sounds through leaves, sounds that can
Seize attention beneath the pines.

Where does wind from or go?
Unlike our human purposes,
It does not know. I first thought
It dreads and fear, the moan and sighs,
For truth is terror to the child.

Beyond that small event that knows,
I became a man, protecting us.
I understand what has wind wrought.
Its atoms, flying with joy, go by.
No terror there, it is our souls grown wild.


Rime of the Ancient Alcoholic

by

Joe Doe

Itís an ancient Alcoholic
And he sopped up wine and beer
"By thy long grey beard and red, red nose
Now wherefore sop up here?"

"The Bridegroomís door are waiting wide,
And Iím a relative;
The guest have sat, the drinks are served,
Hear toasts and wine flows live."

He holds him with laconic grip
"I need a drink," quote he.
"Be gone! Unhand me, old grey goat!"
But soon his hand dropped free.

He hides him with his aldehyde
From any Wedding feast
And makes him gag with baited breath
The type with fish or yeast.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a mound
So overcome with fear;
And so spoke on that alcoholic,
The jest of Tom and Jeer.

"The Ship was cheered, the wharf was cleared
And we went to our task
A load of wine rolled up in kegs
And whiskey in a cask.

"The sun came upon the left
Out of denatured seas
And he shone bright, on to the night
As sailors want to be.

"But now a storm-blast came, and it
Was best not be where we.
Hoping, we fled to some calm south
But no safe place would be.

"I tossed in my sleep upon a boat
ĎTwas tossing in the tea
I tossed on deck, and I recall
I tossed too in the sea.

"A barrel broke from its strong ropes
And rolled about unwined,
It ran into a mast, that cast,
And broke a second time.

"Wine, wine everywhere!
And every drop to drink.
Wine, wine everywhere
Till lapping dried the stink.

"Wine, wine everywhere
And with that fatal first
I drank my doom, a lifeís spittoon,
When that black kettle burst.

"My lust was loose, my passion caught
From wine to whiskey sought,
I found it out, though hidden well
My shipmates soon were bought.

"By time we got to solid land,
Now dry ship without wine
Or whiskey sallied into port
Where port would wear us blind.

"A pub, another, soon the gutter,
Wallowing in dust
Like angels fallen from great heights
Desire became our must."

And with that song the man was gone.
The wedding guest was sad
But no wiser as he went inside
And drank to make him glad.

With that, my friend, the storyís done.
Immoderate or not,
We all have boundaries not to cross
If we would salt the sought.


Notes on Procrastination

by

Joe Doe

"If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." Thomas De Quincey

Sheen agony shines, a worn
Saddle on a dog, the ones the
Monkeys ride around. Old tricks
Impress the ignorant and blind
Who reach out in fear, the bite
That often comes when thieves are kind.

I know why I put it off. Prick,
That I am. My ideals were, "What Tooth?"
How can I transcend myself with tricks,
Though every word a card unshuffled,
Bent and pinched, waiting for my picks?

I play whom? I write but then my
Letters to Spinoza, Kant, the
Postage due though all unsent, they
Meant there is much more to this small,
Mean world than prattled faith can haunt.

No, the cruelest act -- befool myself.
Murder truth? Decadence sliding down
Her soft unrobed sofa, faint bell ring,
Insulting in her speech, as if she
Were only eating peaches with the trash,
Spitting out the pit which leaves the sting.

And when Iím gone, who will write to me?
Invoke my dust from dusty books and read
These lines. I promise to know all your
Thoughts and feelings, if they are on this path.
But if you ask me what I think or feel
Donít stuff an oil soaked rag lit in my mouth.


Run Away

by

Joe Doe

The boy was a small law.
He was not the dog of a claw
Or a hobo on the tracks.
He was a small law of paper
Jotted down and dried to cries
As others have faced loneliness
In the rush of brave new progress
Built from flaws and more tar.

The boy was a small law
Unto himself as dignity will
Unfold itself from dark velvet,
Stained glass wonders jerked back
To traffic lights from prison cells.
He was astonishment and rage
Caught in the carelessness of his.
He reached into a frightened truth
To touched the limits, close
And less than any welded cage.


Immortality

by

Joe Doe

Itís said the old of Largs and Ayr
Believe the sea has no bottom.
Fish fly in liquid air
And the dead never come
When theyíre invited. Mere

Wisdom is one of those fishes,
Evading the nets of belief, queer
Crab traps of ideology,
It feeds on the bottom not there.
Somehow walks on air and wishes.

What would we lose, lost most,
If time had no end for Ayrís sad eyes?
Respect for life? For mice and men?
No difference between shit and flies.
Who would sing with angelic host?

(Have they eaten? And having eaten
Shat. Do they do that? Or are both
Holes sealed with wax, hot and pungent
Frankincense. Do they breathe an oath
To pleasant boast, ignore the beaten?)

Somehow I wonder what wisdom
Would wear if we forget the ends we fear.
If naked truth should show our
Hearts to be of hate, courage less care,
What have we gained if death is undone?

Yet in a mystery more hidden than
Hearing aids and glass eyes, our having been,
Now, shouts with the obvious.
But it is seldom heard, more rarely seen.
Mortal immortal opens a common tuna can!

Immortality? The cheapest trinket
Sold to pilgrims, with no production costs,
Nor taxes on. Better than a piece of cross
Taken when dark skies boiled with that loss.
When all the time we always had it.


Li Po Writes

by

Joe Doe

Li Po begins to write and spills
Black shadow hair upon a mat,
Beyond the paper rest the sweating goblet,
Anxious resin wine, plum, and fat.
Writing sounds where blood might clot.
Little warring cages that he sought,
Confusing raving gods
With meditating frogs,
Brushing ancient characters on rice logs.
He marks the vacant campaign map.
With a glassed in hand,
Takes a sip of sap.
Expounds in silence in a drunken jest,
Where, even now, the strange faced west
Approaches from four corners.
In the courtyard hidden dragons peer,
Startling, yes, his small sweet best
That flutters; throws his still wet goblet
Spinning into twilight, far; yet so near.


Machiavelli

by

Joe Doe

Next to Michelangeloís
Above the floodís intrusion,
On white marble, Tanto Nomini
Nullum Par Elogium. No one
Shuns, setting scales down, turns,
Holds a shield with his bust,

Above his bustum. Who knows
What that black prince must have won?
My artless daughter knows. She can see
Paths of cunning men, writing what they
Have not. Wisdomís wood burns
Where there is light, not lust.


My Friends

by

Joe Doe

When I sit in front of my computer,
Alone with work and yet more, sir,
No pleasant dreams play games with me
No hint of lavender or heather.
Keatís angel comes with silver wings
With playful dreams and often sings.

When I am warmed with wine and lamp
Debating matters State and cup,
So much depends on choices made.
Ideology does not put
Food on my plate; but Du Fuís rhymes
Feeds my soul plums and tangerines.

When I am drunk with my own dispair,
Responsibilities to great
To bear, I seek my dearest friend
Who rocks my boat, far from his fate.
Li Bai buys seashells by the shore
And gives them free to rich and poor.

When I study humility I
Invite my friend of mice and men
To share a cup with me and rob
Me blind of my good sense and when
He leaves he leaves a lowland fire
That burns the night with sad desire.

When I grow old and roll my pants;
But I am old, no hair to part
With peaches out of season
And I have failed to lift my art
To Eliot who graced with his best.
Perhaps I like, perhaps T.S.

When I pitch summerís hay in heat
And sweat until the afternoon
In shade I read a joke he wrote
Old man who did not see too soon
What Snyder saw and what I read
Axe handles are his prayer beads.

When I chop wood remembering
The man who took a different road
Ah, I would follow him, for truth
Begins with honest code
With ciphers broken by the cold
And frost that burns to take its toll.

When I write letters to my love,
Who never wrote to me, I judge
Her tenderly. When possible
I visit her but parting nudge
The afternoon into a hell bright
With souls that Emily delights.

When I stand a wave upon his sea
Moving in circles from that source
The stone that fell into being
Married by a real killerís force
Beyond what we understand.
Friend, "wovon man nicht sprechen kann".

When I wander down by Salley
Gardens, for I was as young and
Foolish, writing poems I only read
To wild grass, nettles, soil of sand,
I will not judge his wicked feats,
Yeast is that soul of bread he eats.

When I lie before my former friends
Alone with cold, discard and gone,
No nightmares will entertain me
Nor flea or curse, nor song or stone,
Cut me to find cause of my part
Will find Donneís poems in my heart.


Looking Out and Back

by

Joe Doe

Two mourning doves
Outside my window.
Sycamore, where the feeder is.

It must be Spring
Or cold beginning.
They peck each otherís beaks in play.

And suddenly
Iím 3,000 miles,
And further, 50 years away.

Early in day
I found their small nest,
Broken eggshells in disarray.

Beside the shells
Two blind mice, down head
Feathers, open beaks. Cheese or bread?

I ran back home.
And as there was more
Bread than cheese, I ran back out doors,

Up the small tree,
Even smaller bough,
Rolling bits of bread until fed.

Two parents flew
About wondering foul.
Enemy? Snake? What was I then?

But time can calm
Any animal.
I came to be their other friend.

The chicks grew fast.
Soon spread their small wings.
To swim where I can only dream.

But, as if an
Act of thanks about,
They land on fingers I held out,

Some times shoulders,
And then flew away. No one knows.
Perhaps these two descend from those.

For once again,
Back to how, I am
Too large for small trees or small limbs.

Memoryís nest,
Hidden in lifeís tree,
Holds what promises will be,

Now I have two
Children to protect.
I guard with vigilanceís neglect.

Just innocence
Rolls bread for our souls
Transforming crumbs to worthless jewels.


Rounding Lemon Bluff

by

Joe Doe

No game this bluff. Our pure
Speech as smoke we issued
Early morning, drifting from
Our engine mouths. Each boat slip,
Jerk, and noise drones as strangers,
Water running. Somehow showing
Mixtures never then admitted
Fifty years ago and even
Now they still can be obscure.

They came as from another
Hidden lake as open as
The puzzle sky, rounding
Lemon bluff and underneath
Palmettos, moss, and by
My liplike fingers weighed
As drops of blood upon
The turning momentís edge
When we killed the engine.

In that moment we emerged, when
I knew each verge in this quiet air
A poem, just as my brother learned
That every dare on earth a joke, and
As my sister saw the lake a prayer.

Edge by edge by edge, drifting.
Cupping over ears to hear the thin
And baiting river break and rush
To flutter round, relaxed, and right.
Delighted by this weekend wander,
Inconsistency of shade and might
With their sudden warming wind.


Spinosa prepares for Bed

by

Joe Doe

The World swarms
When my glasses fly
From honey skull to
Table top, and in that instant
Patterns do not fit
Where sleep, a boat,
Spreads out its wake
And bites with mismatched teeth.
The glassy jawbone of an ass;
Shimshon never knew
The lion knew.


Bok Tower

by

Joe Doe

First day of Spring, first day of Spring?
Grey clouds, no sun, and almost rain.
The Seminoles are cold and shake,
But caroling begins to break
Into our hope with golden ring.
First day of Spring, first day of Spring.
The hill of Iron, the hill of Hate,
The tombís stone angels weep and wait,
A day when I cry out and sing,
First day of Spring, first day of Spring!
My mindís too joyous to concede,
Though men proceed as grass and weed,
As good men die and dead men bring
First day of Spring, first day of Spring.


On a Good Day

by

Joe Doe

On a good day and a bad hour
Heaven, earth, and hell met
Discussing the weather or lack,
Washing each otherís feet.

"Everything is going so well."
"Everything is growing."
"Sometimes the sunsets are quite red."
Then the back door bell rang.

No one was expected that day.
The maid had the day off.
The scientists were far too busy,
Everyone turned and coughed.

It was a poor poet, who had
Lost his way chasing rain
Bows and wet from the bane attempt,
Had come to dry disdain.

"Now what are the rules?" they all asked.
"Which of us has to give
The other three wishes," they said,
"Or just a life to live?"

"How strange! How can one not wish for
Wishes?" the poet pleads.
And if not life how can we live
Wherever we might be."

Heaven sniffed, "Iím sure youíre an
Illegal Immigrant."
Hell slurred, "Hell hath no wraith
Like that of a poet sent."

But Earth had more to offer him.
"Please join," said she. "I am
amused by words but not amused
by them." "Perhaps some jam?"

"You are most kind", the poet said,
"Heaven is too much sin
and Hell would fill me up with wrath."
"But Earth I comprehend."

With that the poet left with Earth
And walked about on air.
They found a love Heaven resent
And Hell could hardly bear.


Without

by

Joe Doe

"A gelding is a horse that is without."
Posed in my logic class, I was asked
Its "meaning". Not having studied
For the class that day, I called upon
Great minds to think for me so I could bask
In bright lights they had endured.

Not being Hollywood, my explanation
Did not have a stunt man, no action scene.
It would have made a very short movie.
On hope, I turned to what might have been:
"So, finally, itís meaning all depends on
The meaning of the word ĎGeldingí."
And tossed the question back,
"Just exactly what is a Gelding?"

By this time all the farm boys in the class
Had smirks smeared round their heads,
But I was a city boy and learned other things
Less valuable where land rolls and spreads.

That silence as the last scenes fall
When the hero triumphs over all,
The professor swallowed and replied,
"Well_a gelding is a horse_ that is without."
And only then the insight. The light, I had
Hoped to bask in, illuminated my
Ignorance and removed all doubt.


Armadillo

by

Joe Doe

An Armadillo is somewhat
Like an armadillo which not
Only is as like the first
But then a third, which means
That that that first beast
Is as like the third, like he
And that enormous third
Will vanish ghost wise.
Wouldnít you agree?

In English long ago he,
I would know, I know who,
Wrote the words that say they say
That armadillos are the small
Pig beast like beast
Who ultimately grew up
In shelled to listen to too
Forgotten ocean shores,
Along lone Harney Lake, where,
Leaving levy shell and shield
And rotting stench half over on
The sands and sands and inch high
Waves that touch and wet and dry
Against the shell and gristle grit,
And they who read and mark
Not understood, for life not understood,
They are the beasts like beast.

But even I am wrong.
For man that shares the fate
With pig beast pig, the small
Disturbance that he knew
Will visit me,
Perhaps as violently,
As world as picture of itself,
And nonsense pictured
As the world.


Supper with a Friend on a Houseboat

by

Joe Doe

Yet I would kill you with
Much cherishing and best,
As praise of God before
The meal,
Describing her own world as
Not a thinking
Mind, not God, nor Buddha,
Not anything you feel, or
Say you see the dove
Rise suddenly into the only
Thing you heard,
And later on
Had I observed
That supper as a word?

Raccoon Strait curved
And looking out
Upon the East and West.


Dawn

by

Joe Doe

This night is going out
Curtain trees were woven tight
When some mock bird sings
Long and reckless flight
Is going out upon dark wings
That dip and soar and light
Above the glitter of the spawning trout
That suddenly is more
A dawn that is a Parrotís bill
Quoting dawns before
High on the pine hill
Neither lost among trees nor
Forgetting all about.


Fixing Breakfast

by

Joe Doe

When I look back upon
The last time I was in Africa
High in the mountains there
With the humming birds

Exotic with their huge musical wings
Even sexual in their colors, red
Like heat, blue like ice,
Wet wiping the air
With rhythmic beats
Dissolving in clouds.

Everything vanishes when you are away.

When I remember the deserts
Of Antarctica, low on the drifting
Dunes of snow, there the cold
Mirage of Japanese emigrants_
Confuses me. What are they
Doing here? And then are gone.

This is getting really strange.

When I forget to take the oatmeal
Off the burner and it burns,
Nothing a little cold water wonít cure.
But breakfast is ruined. And Iím late.
Iím a total klutz, nothing is right.

Everything happens when you are gone.


Hejaz, 1916-1925

by

Joe Doe

From a carved door
At the Mosque El Salith Talay,
Taken from a Quran page fetched
At the Mosque El Sultan Barquq,
Found in an ancient prayer niche
In the mosque of El Amri at Qusin
The Kingdom of Hejaz was given
Relief from its oppressorís opiate
At least to mail a letter,
By a stranger, as intricate
A puzzle even to his self met.

Years later, at Clouds Hill, receiving
A letter bearing the same stamps
He had printed, a hint of his book,
Crying for him to return,
-We do not know how to resist
The power of another Empire-.
He stares at the futility of war,
Trading one master for another
Farther away and so close to home.

Notes:
Hejaz, on the west side of the Arabian Peninsula, was first under the Ottaman Empire's control, then created as a Sherifate of Mecca in1916 during World War I, then a kingdom in 1917 to 1925 when it was absorbed by the Sultinate of Nejdi, which later was renamed Saudi Arabia in 1934, as we know it today. In Arabic the "Q" is pronounced somewhat like a blend of our "G" and "K", not an easy sound to make. So "Quran" becomes Koran, and :"Qusin" becomes Gusin.

The receipt of the letter is an imaginary event I created for the drama. I thought it was interesting that the designs that T.E. Lawrence used in the first three stamps he printed for the Kingdom of Hejaz in 1916 were all taken from places in Egypt, the first two in Cairo and the third from the Upper Nile. The stamps are quite beautiful; green, red, and blue.