Angel Drifters

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

angels on the street

I heard one of their voices
soaring through the alleyway

singing a hymn
in a language that doesn't exist

in words no human had
ever spoken

dressed in white
hair of flames

walking through the darkened
lamplit streets

angel drifters thru the nite

Golden Gate Park -- January 2001

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

walking through the park
I came across an open field
surrounded by a few trees

and in the field I saw four small girls
carrying huge branches
taller than they were
as if giant feathers
or eagles wings
white and brown
waving back and forth

and the girls were in long dresses
with their hair down
moving in unison
half running
half dancing
and chanting words I could not hear
as if taking part in
a tribal dance
a sacred rite

and I was almost overcome
by the beauty
and the grandeur
so I moved closer
until I could hear their chant:

War war war
Prepare for war!
Kill kill kill
Prepare for war!
War war war!
Prepare for war . . .

In a Mirror

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

in a mirror
for the first time
I see my
Turkish face

my mustache
thick and broad
my beard

in a mirror
for the first time
I see my
Asian face

only a dark
thin mustache left

when I come outside
I see a family:
the man and woman
don't recognize me

the two children
smile at me
their faces filled
with light

in a mirror
for the first time
I see my own
original face

The Tunnel

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

at a party
I tell the poet laureate
that poetry is a tunnel

in Istanbul
the tunel
connects the old city
to the new one
through a long-ago built passage from Golata
to the Blue Mosque

Golata: where my ancestors
opened up a candy store
started a new life
gave themselves a new name

I have gone underground
through many tunnels
from darkness into even deeper
darkness in my search
for light
leaving my old city
journeying underwater
beneath the earth
looking for
a new one

poetry is 
a descent into dark crevices
into narrow corridors
until you reach a place
where you can no longer find your way
back where you can no longer see
the dark behind you and can not yet see
the light ahead

and in that glowing darkness
you find something to carry with you
out into the light
though your journey seems endless

you enter the new city
mouth open
eyes wide
with a new name

Little Varanasi

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

the men with shaved heads
and white robes

the wife in orange
and saffron

the body wrapped
in white sheets

flowers heaped
in a cortege

then the procession
to the fire


on the other side
of the river

monkeys climb
the walls

women sell trinkets
to tourists

people buy peanuts
and popcorn from vendors

as we rise to leave
a man stares at me and says:

"We are all the same--
we live and we die"

life so close to death

the smoke rises behind us
as we walk back into town


                                                      Pashupathinath, Kathmandu