Ode to Keats

This living hand
This empty hand
This knife hand
This hand with gun
This sea creature
This open fist
And feeding bird
This leaf that falls
This cancerous glove
And budding flower
This bare-knuckle fighter
This harvester
And water bearer

Private High

After the first wave we step outside.
Predawn floods the arena
Of the mind like another drug.
The lake is like a gray plane.
Small wavelets seem sculpted
At exact intervals of sand and foam.
The hour is enlarged.
Every minute touches
The outer circle of the infinite.
My friend, overwhelmed
By rapture, weeps at the lucid
Disclosing of beauty;
He’s never seen his soul,
Never been so transparent.
Somehow the clarity
Has me immensely happy.
I stand on the cottage shore
Like some divine being.
I will never see farther,
Never comprehend more.
I look out at the lake
And embrace eternity
Like a gift to myself
I can’t open until I die.

Signature Piece

Snails in his poems, roadside greens,
Air-raid sounds and dictators’ bombast.
Olives grafted and blood oranges,
Larceny and justice divide him.
Red coral is rare in a deep poem,
Octopus arms and clouds of ink,
But Salvatore Ala backwards spells
A law of shared languages in rhythm,
A moving Mediterranean meditation,
A reincarnation better than his fathers
Still executing each other as spies
With children who believe their lies.
In which poet can you find an artichoke
With its heart open in a dream,
Pluck Sicilian guitar, play a mouth harp
And give the shape of life in breath.
His is the faint moan of a reed
Hearing its own exile and home.

Things I Saw Today

Many blue jays from parallel dimensions.
The marshes aloft with birds.
Reed beds in swirling masses.
One swan spread the sun’s wings.
A mud turtle appeared between waters.
Eagles in their own atmosphere.
The horizon grew its double in clouds and light.

Four Stone Mountain

Take off one stone
and you’ll see the mountain
take two stones
mountain lake and moon
subtract three
it becomes a distant mountain
remove the fourth
and the mountain vanishes

Add one back
a cave begins to close
another and the moon appears
replace the third
the lake brims with stars
affix the fourth
and the mountain vanishes


Gunned down outside a New York eatery
Stabbed in Brighton Beach
Beaten savagely on a street
Buried in a Vegas desert
A car bomb took the life of Machiavelli
Missing in Michigan
A sniper’s bullet in Montreal
He rises from the dead
In Washington and Wall Street
Moschenniki Machiavelli
The Mexican massacres
Ghetto star Machiavelli
Machiavelli with teardrops
The scream in Munch’s masterpiece
The Machiavelli’s found hanged
In their multi-million dollar mansion
They put a contract on Niccolò
Nicky got whacked
He rises from the dead
In Washington and Wall Street
Machiavelli eats alone
Sleeps with big fishes
Machiavelli mezza morta
Someone popped the Prince
Clipped his wings
Sent a message
Prince of mirrors
Machiavelli on the lam
Machiavelli in the wind