Michael Rothenberg

Gray Days

“You have to see the creek that runs by the house here. I walked it the day before yesterday, steep but short climb up the canyon, waterfalls (the constant sound of this place), maidenhair ferns, scraggly oaks draped with lichens, all kinds of mushrooms, fuchsia calypso orchids. Pristine. It is hard to believe it is right here.” from a letter to MM


In green company of huge redwoods

Money has come between brothers
Doves strike the window in morning pursuit

The news is cut to pieces, distributed
I complain and stay.

The rain finally stops, sun frames
the towering tops of the ever living

Sentinels witness my desperate living
Calypso orchids flame in mulch

Gray face, gray days
Winter hysteria succeeds in flood

Cain perpetuates and Abel blames
Under close examination

The flaw. . .


Talk to NY and back

           RE BEAT: post-war dissidents



Thurs 9:30 am. Dizzy
pigeons coo in the window box

Fri. 1 am
82 dozen twitches

                    As long as the master lives
                    there remains objective evidence
                    of a beautiful tradition

blink, blink
blink, blink


                     Goodnight, Marianne Moore


8:45 am

           As I get older
           I find the present more compelling

Walt Whitman’s America, David S. Reynolds

                    (press ENTER to insert)

Sand grain in my ear
rubs the nerve the wrong way
Vertigo, alarming but not harming

          Sinusitis, caffeine, gospel

                              Songs of Langston Hughes


Sleepy-morning sore throat

This isn’t a gray day but rather an exceptional Spring day

          Battle of Seasons

          Buds grow
          Buds freeze

Grow again
Through hell or high water

Battle for Rome
Bird flu or my rosebud baby!
          What do the White House fleas do?

                              Courtly love?
                    Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney
play hide & seek in the Lincoln bedroom


But more than one day, it is two days
One clear then one rainy day
More rain

Another cloudy day
Fill hot tub

          Eat two apples, one banana, not enough
Where are my anxious

      Monocled Mr. Peanut poem
                    arrives in mail from David

                                                  Thank you, dear Orpheus!

          Roasted, please


Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo


          March 29 went missing
          in worlds of rain

Keep running, Jonah!

                              All! All!


Big black umbrella shelters a big red smile
Hello, Beautiful Compassion!

Australian lamb stew w/ red potatoes & carrots
Gravy from drippings

Chill in my bones

In the room where my son wages a virtual war
the roof leaks in buckets


Oh, this aching world!
I must get over it quick!
That mist in the oaks
as thick as fire
A pleasure to be an angel

Marianne Moore’s regatta of small jinxed boats
Vegetable Kingdom for a brain
Lichen fuzz in my sensibility bush

Michael M. suggests we buy David a coat

Anselm sends the Collected Poems of Marianne Moore
I think he knows me better than I thought
Or we just happen to be on the same wave-length


                    “This is eternity.”

          Opaque reshape shift drift drip drip this

As this...

           Grays give me blues, spring subdued by revolutionary
and reactionary forces, bipartisan conversion, systems beyond Time

           I saw the headlines and I knew it was true


                    Silver blaze MOON bleeds in branches
          hung by invisible difference

                                                   Yellow primrose & forget-me-nots


Ash gray rain on muddy creek

Dirty pink stream blurs pebbled banks
Tears a verse a way

                               Mist in pine forest
                     Copper clouds stutter against aluminum gray sunset

          Blink of day

“Rain, rain, rain,” Terri sings from downstairs. . .

                               On the line Michael M. sings, “The stream should be your Muse”


                    I went to see my Muse today
                    Lovely, I thought, and full of rain


                    Another gray day accounted something
                    A science fiction

                                                   “Always,” I sing to myself, “All! All!”

           All gray, every day song to chase the gray away

Shamanistic Grecian Formula!

                                                   A day older, day grayer, but happier!


Plastic mouthguard hangs from my mouth, shines with spittle
Screw-eyed look between treetops for blue sky optimism
Disenchanted grunt and my stomach growls
Oh, for the good old hot toddy days
Gone with my liver
Gone with cigarettes and valium
Aspirations of a novelists, perspiration of a horticulturist
Sparrow skips, flits, pecks seed on the ground
in the squishy garden

                                        March 13- April 6, 2006

Michael Rothenberg has been an active environmentalist in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 25 years. His books of poems include The Paris Journals(Fish Drum), Monk Daddy (Blue Press) and Unhurried Vision (La Alameda Press). Rothenberg is editor and publisher of Big Bridge. He is also editor of Overtime, Selected Poems by Philip Whalen (Penguin), As Ever, Selected Poems by Joanne Kyger (Penguin) and David's Copy, Selected Poems by David Meltzer. He is presently working on the selected poems of Edward Dorn (Penguin, 2007) and the Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan University Press, 2007).

Photo: At "Charles Henri Ford's Apartment" by Ira Cohen

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