April 25, 2016

The Smoke


Snow still sheaths the streets in their mountains,
and the spring trees shudder in the wind off their lakes,
until night's smoke frames them fades them finally and forever and they're gone...
gone into the smoke of the world.

Smell of her long hair hot in the sun through the windshield,
rattle of dried corn sheaves shaken by dusk's breeze,
soft heft of breasts sweet as winter oranges,
the breath rising in the dry heat parching her body.
And the fire rose up in me and I stretched her out, O lovely,
across the pale cloth and reached out
and holding held and held until gone....
gone into the smoke of the world.

Gone fifty years.
The day, the lips, the hair -- gone,
gone forever, forever gone into the gone world...
gone into the smoke of the world.

Above Berkeley's Old Moe's bookstore late at night
she loomed over me in the lamplight
as morning seemed forever delayed.
An eastern school took her at dawn,
her name forgotten, her scent and her flesh
remembered so that even now, on a unknown street
here in the west, I sometimes pass
a woman with that scent and turn
wondering, all these past gone years later,
could that one, that one, that one have been her
in that night when the dawn delayed,
and I woke to find her scent on the pillow
but her body forever gone, gone forever...
gone into the smoke of the world.


They arrive dancing along the blade of night.
They leave fading into the smoke of dawn.
The mists of memory swirl and fold,
and remove their distinct details:
the haiku left behind in old boxes:
"I scrunched up the moon
into my water bucket..."

Did someone say she became a singer
somewhere in California? Judy? Was that,
last innocent love of my youth, her name?

The Christian roommate with tawny hair,
stroking the breasts near the kennels of the barkless dogs.
That musk, that hot breath in the cherry orchards,
the dwarf cattle, that hand closing upon me
so fleetingly and then gone...
gone into the smoke of the world.

The Italian with the moped.
The cowgirl with the blues.
The lapsed Catholic.
The painter with the horse's face and too-tight jeans.
The chintz shack. The quilt covered table.
The kiss upon my body -- Ah and Ah and Ah --
The whispered love in the attic of the San Francisco Mansion ---
The poet's garret on the side street, gray corridors --
The one named after the little deer... Bambi....

And then the forest takes a spark
And all the woods are blazing
And ash drifts down over the days
And they are all gone ... all gone...
gone into the smoke of the world.

Then the years of the cities and the slim women
wafting out of the night and into the smoky clubs.
The models and the painters and the posers.
Hairdressers, shop girls.... and those that loved the literary life.
The mockers and the shockers who kept
mostly cats but sometimes chittering marmots.
The ones who were sneaking around way downtown.
The socialites at the Black and White Ball
who needed their foreheads held as they hurled
into the shrubbery and then headed back to the bar
for another burst of oblivion.

And then in the room next to the roses in the Sur,
Holding the one who became the long wife.
Now off to her aging and gone, long gone...
gone into the smoke of the world.

The brief wife calls from her place in the smoke,
hiding her need at the center of her speech,
and achieving assurance can't wait to fade back
to the rooms that she's chosen to have and to hold.

"How am I?
I'm good.
I'm doing quite well."

"That's good.
Glad to hear it.
Stay well."

Missed connections.
Harsh static.
The cellphone in fade and then gone...
gone into the smoke of the world.

Snow still sheaths the streets
in their mountains and rivers,
and the spring trees shudder
in the wind off their lakes,
and the streetlights flicker
in their towns and their cities,
until winter banks their fires,
and night fades them finally,
and forever they're gone,
gone into the gone world,
gone, gone, long gone,
gone into the smoke of the world.


Posted by Vanderleun at April 25, 2016 1:09 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

And never to return. And no more slim girls.

Excellent, truly excellent.

Reminds me of Ferlinghetti and my first, now dead, wife.

Posted by: bob sykes at April 25, 2016 4:37 AM

The fog creeps in on little cat feet.

The End

Posted by: Jack at April 25, 2016 7:05 AM

The imagery reminds me of Wyatt, but your mood is much more forgiving and accepting, less reproachful, and on the whole, more wholesome. Bravissimo!

Posted by: Punditarian at April 25, 2016 11:47 AM

Getting old is kind of bittersweet isn't It? You remember places in sort of a sensory way ( I think that's the residual of too much acid) but you can never go there again so you do what you can to live and leave a legacy of having lived.

Posted by: bill at April 26, 2016 10:40 AM

Ahhh.. Once again you have touched the heights of sensitivity, extending your editing skill to compose a post that "touches" the hand of the mystery of life. Gerard, I have only occasionally read you lately, but each visit is so joyful. God bless you.

Posted by: rem at April 26, 2016 11:50 AM

Always, all ways, heartstrings strummed, bitter sweetness and love.

Rare and well done, Gerard.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at April 26, 2016 3:55 PM