HB Berlow

HB Berlow
3 Poems


Wallace Now. Stevens Later.

This is not time for transubstantiation.
That alchemy is left for wizards.
I know of wine & blood and lead & gold
and baser things besides. They sit
like knick-knacks on my coffee table.

I am too fascinated by wands and canes,
cards, rings, golden cones, coloured balls,
the blur of the hierophants arms
in his many jagged manipulations,
and when a dove appears from darkness.

I stare at auroras awed,
let rhinestones glitter in my eyes.
‘Pizzazz’ to me is still a sacred word,
more holy than ‘Amen’, more sanctified than ‘Love’,
an ever-present credo of my youth.

It is the song of words that sparkles
more than the words themselves.
The magic dance, the play of light,
a language foreign to these green ears.
I hear but know I cannot understand.



Love-Song of the Condemned

Let us try once, you and I,
To pretend that we are not going to die
While we watch the sunset on the Key West sky
And believe in the Eternal.
And maybe, just once,
Something that occurs to us will make sense
And we won’t feel foolish or lachrymal,
Welling up with tears,
Swelling up all our fears of mortality.
We have much better sensibilities:
We know what is right and what is wrong.
So you Adults and you People-In-Charge
Don’t just barge into our lives, singing
Your “Holier-Than-Thou” song.
Because we’re not buying it
Or any of the other shit
You’re selling today on prime time.
I know what’s mine, what could be mine,
And what’s never going to be mine.

On the afternoon blah-blah show
They pretend to discuss Michaelangelo.

I’ve never been truly wrong or totally right
And I’ve been more afraid of day than
I’ve ever been of night.
And still there is always something creeping
Just outside my lone front door.
Perhaps it is the yearning of Something More
That perpetually reminds me
Of all the Passion I can’t find
In blank stares and empty places
Where the glass-entombed towers stand tall
[Where Gucci-ed execs place that cellular call
trying to bring about their competitors’ fall.]

On the afternoon blah-blah show
They pretend to discuss Michaelangelo.

And where are Keats and Shelley today?
Or how about a rousing Shakespearean play?
But what’s the sense of it, they say,
When that kind of stuff doesn’t break even anyway?
And the Bottom Line and In-The-Black
And Profits will prevent a stress attack.
[So long as your partner doesn’t stab you in the back];
Just as long as there’s an audience that will pay
And pay through the nose.

What then of you and I under
The orangish-reddish sunset sky?
But then I turn and you’ve run away
And I go on looking each passing day
For the reason, the answer for your leaving.
Could it be I was not enough
Or that my ways were far too rough?
Was it a mistake to call your bluff?
No matter. I’m left here, alone and grieving.

Now I’m left here all alone.
Lord, I know it’s foolish to wait by the phone
For a mystical magical cellular call
Because, after all,
There are no phones out here under
The orangish-reddish sunset sky.

I’m growing old, so very old,
That I’m watching all I am unfold
Before my very eyes
Under these orangish-reddish sunset skies.

And, at this very moment, I wonder if where you are
You can see the same bright twinkling sky—
And with those wanting, needing eyes
You can see the same orangish-reddish sunset skies.
I’m glad they are not blue
Like mine, that always see you.



Van Gogh Stares Into the Sun
[this poem is also available as a Broadside with artist Kate Van Steenhuyse, viewable by clicking on the title]

It is not yellow.
It is not orange.
It is not even the burnt red
of abraded fingers, calloused
and numb.
It is every ray and tint that
gazes intently at it.
It is my scruffed beard
and scarred eyes.
It is I.

What I lose of sight
I gain in vision.
If rationale scrambles,
then art aligns.

Passion is the object of my desire
when the sun first rises
over the sunflower fields;
when it sets
drawing the curtain of night.

I contemplate the infinite
by means of the infinitesimal,
the forgotten pieces of the puzzle.

Staring into the jaws of a raging leviathan,
I accept melancholy, madness, death,
for no man can gaze upon the sun
and come away unscathed.


HB BerlowH.B. Berlow studied filmmaking and creative writing at the University of Miami in the 80’s, was involved in the Boston Poetry Scene in the 90’s, and was the former president of the Kansas Writer’s Association from 2012 to 2013. He is the author of the historical crime fiction series, which includes Ark City Confidential, Secrets of the Righteous, and Lost in the Plains published through The Wild Rose Press and currently available on Amazon.