Thursday, February 8, 2018




                                               --for Nick S.

Let there be light
not for the sake

of light itself
earth and stone

as  light catchers
dissolving flesh

melting landscapes 
oxidized in blood

but for those light
has ceased to touch

the sun adrift
in a fever dream

a battlefield
seen through

a gray window
by a bald man

with yellow eyes—
Let there be light

not for the sake
of light itself

the created world
as light-catcher

let light call forth
the dead

as stones
in our orchards

along our shore

as waves
breaking against

our nakedness
on a summer day

as what commands
light because

it wounds us
with its brilliance


If a man appears alone
on a bridge

on a snowy evening
walking toward

a series of lights
in a row of windows

he doesn’t necessarily
have a future

or a past he is simply
a point on a grid

part of a composition
that tells us

what it is
while implying it is

more than it says
we follow him

into the night
because of the blue

we want to know
from whence

he’s come and where
he’s going

because the blue

everything but is
thin as air

because it’s everywhere
like the nerves

of an acrobat 
in pain

and we can hear it
asking us

to shed our skins
and follow


1 – Entering The Musée D'orsay

Augustine says:

I see myself seeing
or not seeing

but not what another sees
or does not

though the same thing stands
before us both

as if proof of the eternal
were encrypted

in the process of how
we know what we know

and thereby traceable
to a single source (God

or DNA) but does not
tell us why the stone age

images on the cave walls
of Lascaux will inevitably

be recomposed into
“Lush Life” by Billy Strayhorn

2 – On The Walls Of The Musée D’orsay

                           Eakins’ wife Clara
                     her haunted
              blue-eyes stare off to the left
                        at Carrier's
           wife and five daughters
                     (painted in 1893)
               blots of ectoplasm
                     in the dark
             of their four-square world
                    floating away from
                Jean Delville's
                          L’ECOLE DE PLATON
         composed around a central figure
                   bearded like Christ
                        in a garden of pastel flowers
                 addressing naked youths
                       and semi-draped
                 hermaphrodites arm-in-arm
                       beyond the reach of
                     in which the outcast
                   and his family
                wearing animal skins
                      pull a litter of dead prey
                          across an endless desert
                   hunters whose primitive
              condition does not save them
                 from the fear of what
                    they don't understand
                        on their way
                         to Gustave Doré's
                      a winged angel
                        gazing at
                     a maidenly Sphinx
                   above the smoking ruins
                              of a city

3 – Leaving The Musée D'orsay

I understand
the Museum as a record
of that which is uniquely seen
by one
               in what
               is common to all

each of us a world
that is born and dies
        the sum
of every birth
and death...
              even so

                     my morning-star
                     is not
                     your morning-star

and neither exists
 as an object
 in space


Dark palms blow
a blackening sky
in the shadows
blown back
are dappled gray
where light hides
under the gull’s wing
flashes briefly
in flinty moonbeams
as they strike
the beach
setting breakers
on fire
 licking spaces
in the rock-wall
in search of salt air
a healing breath
the heart in its
bat-wing lair 
I walk the beach
your name unspoken
on my lips
to whom I must
            to you my dear
            who fill me over
            the distance with
            all the years
            we’ve lain
            conscious of itself
            and thank you
            for this the story
            of our lives


1 - late summer

last day of August
low humidity
                        cool shade
                        warm sun
currents at dusk

I navigate the block
with Harry off leash
Florence on her porch
who once told me
she moved to Glens Falls
at 83 to be near
her daughter

calls my shepherd
                a handsome boy
guesses his weight
at 122 lbs
recalls her late Dobie
another heavy-weight
              What a gentle guy!
then discloses
her first son learned to walk
holding on to that
big dog’s balls

she is relieved to have shared
this intimacy and I
even more
to walk on nudging
who sniffs at
                         half blind
                         but otherwise
                         alert hears
my urgent
request to pick up
the pace

                   a teen aged girl
                   w/ purple hair
                   pedals past
when I catch her eye
then is gone leaving behind
a purple after-glow

steadier than usual
rounding the last corner on
neuropathic feet

                        for once
                        no wobble
                        in my gait

I can’t imagine being
happier than
at this moment
in sight of home

                        back straight
                        one foot
                        in front of
                        the other

as if holding on
to a big Doberman’s

2 - February, in tempranillo veritas

High on Spanish wine
on a chill night
past suburban porches
careful to avoid invisible
patches of black ice
wearing the wrong shoes
smooth soles

I am a not so goat like man
at seventy-four
my aging shepherd
            my wife
            still beautiful
            home in bed

stars above
snowflakes about to fall
think myself to have been
the best good
bad boy
the best bad
good boy
                plans to steal
                a slice of the fruit cake
                from the freezer
                heat it for 5
in the nuclear warmth
of the new age
of which I am
a part
                a living piece
                of graffiti such as
                haunts the walls
                of Rome

                 Kilroy was here!

adopt it as my own
sum of parts more
than whole
making it all the way
around the block
without a fall
with certainty

Heisenberg’s uncertainty
Delta pro delta x z h

equals Eckhart’s

I see God through the same
eye He sees me
3  – Early April 

bare limbs just greening
starkly visible
implicate echo
of leaves
porches at night
harboring shadows

we walk
my old shepherd Harry
behind me
                  half deaf
                  eyes cloudy
led by his nose
to sniff roots and dirt
surfaces rich
in history
so complete he can
taste it on his
from back yards
open windows
gather and
a street lamp

I wonder
at the interface
of music and numbers
pi chasing infinity
Debussy folding
the Golden Ratio
into La Mer
we create unheard
Harry shambling
beside me
through the night
I tell him it doesn’t
matter stars above us
have died long ago
and lie buried in
light years

experienced as fact
often more profound
than fact as

everything I see
cries out I AM


Paul Pines grew up in Brooklyn near Ebbets Field and passed the early 60s on the Lower East Side of New York. He shipped out as a merchant seaman, spending part of 65/66 in Vietnam, then opened his Bowery jazz club, The Tin Palace, the setting for his novel The Tin Angel (Morrow, 1983)A second novel, Redemption(Editions du Rocher, 1997), explores the Guatemalan Mayan genocide of the 80's. My Brother’s Madness, (Curbstone Press, 2007) probes the nature of delusion. His actively imagined memoir, Trolling with the Fisher King, is recently released from Chiron Publications. He has published thirteen books of poetry, most recently, Message from the Memoirist (Dos Madres, 2015) and Charlotte Songs (Marsh Hawk, 2016). His fourteenth collection, Gathering Sparks, will be out in the fall.  He is the editor of Juan Gelman’s selected poems Dark Times/ Filled with Light (Open Letters Press, 2012). Poems set by composer Daniel Asia appear on the Summit label, and opposite Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, in Asia’s 5th Symphony. Pines has conducted workshops for the National Writers Voice and lectured for the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Paul Pines lives in Glens Falls, New York, where he is a psychotherapist in private practice and hosts the Lake George Jazz Weekend.