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

Age of Decline

At the age of decline my heart is largest.
If a cardiologist could measure it
He’d have to open all the windows and doors.
At the age of decline my mind is most pliant.
If neurologists could know it
They’d slip into a plant-like state.
At the age of decline my dead parts are waking.
It’s a mystery to me.
There will be more of me where I’m going
Than where I’ve been.

Travel Size

Plum tree flowers!
Someone shouts “cherry blossoms!”
The whole is the false.

Beyond a thousand gates
a thousand gates of rain.
Who will hear our goodbyes?

A thousand gates:
turning back
not giving up.

Mount Fuji:
in such a clear sky
such a clearer grandeur.

Retired sumo:
his immense sadness
crushes me.