Saturday, June 13, 2009

Harold Norse, R.I.P.

Obit here. More here.
Three Poems

Classic Frieze in a Garage 


I was walking thru the city past umber embassies

               & pine-lined palaces

                              fat palms beside balconies

                       the heat something

                                   you could really touch

                                     the kids with cunning

                                         delinquent faces

                                  after americano sailors

            -thinking of nerval    tends-moi le pausilippe

                  et la mer d'Italie & living

                          on the hill         posillipo          under

               a gangster's dancefloor

                                                   among goldfinches

                                         on the bay of naples

                                                  in a stone cottage

                               over tufa caves in which the sea

                               crashed in winter     sweet gerard

                                                one hundred years

                       have made the desolation greater

     the tower is really down & the sun blackened

                     beyond despair      the loudspeaker drowns

                              finches     cliffs      caves

                                      all in the hands of racketeers

        yet i have passed my time dreaming thru this

                              fantastic wreck

walking thru incendiary alleys of crowded laundry

                              with yellow gourds in windows &

                              crumbling masonry of wars

                                    human corruption

                              so thick and hopeless that i laugh

when suddenly i saw among the oil & greasy rags

                               & wheels & axles of a garage

                                the carved nude figures of

                                        a classic frieze

                                there above the dismantled

                                parts of cars!

perfect! & how strange! garage

               swallows sarcophagus!

mechanic calmly spraying

                    paint on a


observed in turn by lapith and centaur!


                           of unthinking flesh!

                                       frank thighs! eyes

                              of aphrodite!

the myth of the mediterranean

           was in that garage

      where the brown wiry

youths saw nothing unusual

                   at their work

    among dead heroes & gods

    but i saw hermes in the rainbow

            of the dark oil on the floor

                             reflected there

           & the wild hair of the sybil

                   as her words bubbled

mad and drowned

                               beneath  the motor's roar

Island of Giglio


we sailed into the harbor

all the church bells rang

the main street on the crescent shore

hung iridescent silks from windows

stucco housefronts gleamed

rose, pistachio, peach

and a procession sang

behind a surpliced priest

carrying a burnished Christ

when I set foot on shore

a youth emerged from the crowd

barefoot and olive-skinned

and we climbed up rocky slopes

till dusk fell and close to the moon

at the mouth of a cave we made love

as the sea broke wild beneath the cliff

Piccolo Paradiso

let the age hang itself!  we've had

four marvelous days together

       no news reports        only music

               & no serious discussions


plenty of wine        the best

from the islands


        falerno &  ischian

            & lacrima cristi

                                   we've made up

                              for months

                 of loneliness

                     hard work


                            of 'superiors'


             we may not live

         very well or long

our mistakes are perhaps too great

       to bear correction

          at this midpoint

     of our lives (you're somewhat younger)

                         surely too great

to make up for the lengths we go

           to hide them

                                    e cosi...that's

                                             how it goes 


                      but at least

                      we're ahead of the game

                  we've stolen a march

                       on the dead       the herd 


if the return to grayness

sharp tempered weapons

of those who force life

into corners

       is more than we can bear

       remember this

           the wine

               the ladder

                    of stars that climb

                        vesuvius outside

                            my window

                         the waves

                           banging into smooth

                                tufa caves 


& the opera

              as we lay together







Copyright (c) Harold Norse 2003. All rights reserved. 

These three poems online at Abalone Moon. The last two marvelous stanzas, are something to think about after the disaster of the Bu$hCo years &, sadly, the first few months of the Obama presidency.

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