California Spleen


Charlie Incurable

To Nature

I fear Godís power
And so I confide in you
Sullen, wayward nature
Your silent impersonality
Absorbs the heavings of my heart

You quiet night surrounding me
Do you know how disillusioned I am?
Inside my form is an empty chaos----
I can no longer trust my dreams
It is a waste to put them out to sea
The truth is
My heart and soul are flawed
The truth is
I am lost

Sleepy for Now

I like to get drunk and think about death
I like to get maudlin
If I drown in despair
Well, at least that's a way out

Is there an alternative
To this
To death?
I'm sure it's not an easy one
Pain may be the only way out of pain
That's a thought that haunts me

It would be nice to contemplate a color
It would be nice to shine a little bit
On the inside
And to live in a world that's not blank
And to breath and roam

But I can't reach it
Not yet
Not soon
Not for a long time

Spirit is elusive
I really don't know

I think it's time to go under again


Is silence golden?
It is actually gray
A gray dullness
I sit here and it listens to me
I sit here and the soft grinding, churning of my heart is centered within it
Death is a long way coming
But a dreadful urgency drives my hands
They grasp at the emptiness
My fierce longings are wasted on space
The only thing around

Fullerton Wandering

The sun, our mindless king
Is burning away
And a million miles below
I breath in a soft light
Relieving in a little way my pains

To the side a dirty stream is glistening
Strewn with pulpous algae, it pleases me
Trees, in quiet disorder
Gather and give shade
To the concrete creek

I happen upon six brown ducks
They sense my intrusion and sail to a peaceful place
Now I watch tenderly a white egret
She is walking through the murky shallows

I trek up on a hill and rest my body
Surrounded by giant palms
I stare
Standing in a great field of cut grass
I wonder, and I wonder

Sometimes I feel like a ghost
With a thorn in his side
I canít stay still
I wander, and the only rest I know is sleep

But my windswept empty life
Has beauty on days like these
And I give thanks for my rootless mind
As it moves through the sensual haze
Giving meaning to the ether all around it


I'm a foolish queer to say it
But you're my angel

The world goes round
And the sun goes up and down
But I know for sure I'll always want you

It'll never happen, we know
My dream is covered by a vast, dark night
Embarrassment and shame choke these very words

But you're my angel
The night has not changed my heart
You're my angel
And I'll never forget you

How Could I?

I want to lay by your side
And kiss your cheek
I want to feel the quiet warmth of your body
And set your mind at ease

I want to have the simplest thing in the world
The simplest thing
But the simplest thing seems vain and impossible
The simplest thing is beyond my grasp

A painful hunger haunts my dreams
I'm a stubborn fool, I know
But how could I blow out this tender flame?
How could I bury my one true love?

At the Crest of Desire

Look at you, you gorgeous guy
Sent down from heaven to be my joy
Your smile is all the confession that I need
To know you love me too

Deep within your hidden heart
Shielded from the judgment of the world
Is a tenderness and passion
Just waiting to be free

When you're near my knowing soul
Which likes you as you really are
Your heart beats fast
And the longing of nature
Grows too strong to control

With beauty streaming from your face
The language of your body
Tells the story of desire
Pent up within your lonely spirit

But at the crest of your desire
When your arms would soon be around me
A terror of everybody and everything that's ever held you back
And shamed you for who you really are
Wells up within you
And sends your love crashing into nothingness

At that time my spirit fades as well
For it is then that the world has broken my heart

My First True Love

You, my friend, were my first true love.
Your gracious form appeared in my life
And the fire of your beauty set my soul ablaze.

Foolish I was, and human indeed
As I grasped the newfound torch within
And searched out a happiness on this earth.

Yes, foolish I was as I sought out a life,
A joyful oasis amid the cruel sands of the world,
A garden for two sheltered by a strong castle wall.

You, however, who seemed braver than myself
Had deep within the worst of fears:
The terror of an overwhelming judgment
And a rejection by all.

Perhaps most of all you feared yourself.
All I know for certain is that you would not let it be.

Now, as the years go by
And as I contemplate our dual fate
I question how your heart fares in the darkness
And I wonder if it broke once like mine.

Are there still cracks and bruises on your inmost being,
And from your wounded heart does there pour a fragrance bittersweet,
A sad and silent song?

Do I sense across the tragic night
That you once loved me too?

For No Reasons

The reason I love you is that there are no reasons
The reason I love you is that you are you and I am I
Two souls circling in the heavens
Moved together by causes unknown to the mind

I have loved you since I met you
And when I am with you I am happy
Happy for no reason
And happy to have no reasons
Happy in the quietness of my heart

For love is enough
And you are enough
You with me, and me with you
You, my reason without reasons
You, my love up in the stars

Though I cannot fully know you
I will always fully love you

I can love you without reasons
For I have no need of reasons

My Own Brokeback

I long for you
And you long for death
I dream of a life together
While you hunger for oblivion

Donít you know that I have suffered
And tasted the pain which drives others to suicide?
Donít you know how I barely linger on,
Clinging with all my might to a life lived for the truth?

Look at what is right in front of you
Experience the passion, the sorrow, and the joy
Be a real man for once
For Iím tired of hearing your words of no meaning
And Iím tired of your refusal to recognize what is beautiful

For five years almost we have dallied with each other
For five years weíve enjoyed ourselves, but only at a distance
What is the problem that gets in our way?
Should the codes of boys put such a clamp on our existence?
And why should you heed the judgment of parents so indifferent?
Can it be, my friend, that you can only be happy in your unhappiness?
And in the end, would you rather throw your life away than live it?

For My Friend

When I am with him
When I hear his voice and see his form
My soul is often lulled to peace
So much sadness follows him
When he walks into my life
And yet often I am lulled to peace
He has brought me to my knees with pain
But more often he has brought my heart to beating
More often he has made me laugh or thrill with excitement
This friend of mine, this beautiful companion
He is a treasure to my soul
I think of him with joy
And my love for him will last as long as myself

In a Moonlit Garden,
The Glory of You

I never gave you enough credit
And I never saw your full effort
The deepest corners of your sacrifice were not known to me
And for long, long silences
I was of no help to you

But you knew I put you on a pedestal
Perched somewhere in the moonlight
You knew I saw the stars and moonbeams glisten
Framing you along with the glory cast by my young, excited heart.

I tried to be your friend
I tried to do the right thing again and again
And fleeing from sin
I fell into worship again and again

But not the worship of a church
It was the beauty of your perch
That pedestal in the gardens of a moonlit night
Where shone the glory of your face
The glory of your form
The glory of you
Forever living and forever bright

Sunday Driver

I went for a drive the other day
You know, I was looking for myself
Through the urban landscape
I passed a river, flowing through concrete
It drew my eye
It seemed like a good place to disappear

Why canít I love?
Why canít I be a person?
Why canít I be a man?
These squirming questions
I would have dissolved them in the water
But this awful world is a special place
We might be accountable
I wasnít sure

Continuing along
I followed the heavy, sinking sun
It was abandoning for the night this vast, strange kingdom
I guess you could say that thereís angst in my heart
But its really so much worse than angst
Iím afraid of an apocalypse
An apocalypse within
An apocalypse without
And yet it seems like it will never come
It seems like I am simply condemned to an impotence
A paralyzed struggling
A wimpering patience

While the clock ticks darkly
And puts all of my days to shame
I find myself dreading a trek, or a climb
Or a fall
Because it seems like I couldnít survive these things
It seems like Iíd melt in the pain

I donít know if Godís going to send me to hell
But its going to be hell getting to heaven

Behind Soft Words

My poor, unhappy friend
I reached out to you in kindness
Quietly with gentleness
I stepped into your darkness

Could you not hear behind soft words
A daring call to love me
And accept my care for you?

The brutal storm of solitude
Lashes fierce against our lives
And the hopeless situation
Tempts us sadly toward eternal sleep

But could you not hear behind soft words
The desperate voice of love--
Which knows you as you are
And wants you as you are

And Now You're Gone

And now you're gone, my lonesome friend
Beyond my reach and almost past the grasp of hope
And now you're gone
And now you're gone
Lost to me sadly as you brood alone
Lost to my love on the other side of the darkness

Meditating in your room,
Do you ever recall the night we almost gave ourselves
To passion and to happiness?
Do you ever recall that awkward night
When within the reach of our tired arms
Was a lifetime of forbidden comfort?

I recall that dreadful night
Memory burns my heart
As I consider all the things that held us back
And absurdly kept our arms from embrace
Our bodies from union by the ocean side
Our souls from peace until the dawn

Perhaps the fool in me has had his say
And perhaps the sinner also
Has shaped these tender words
But mostly just consider them so many drops of blood
Spilled from a weak and wounded heart--
A heart that loves you,
Which would cry to God for mercy
Should the chance come again
To spend the night alone by your side

Get a Life

Itís a mad, mad world
But get a life
Go to school and be on your simple way
Awaiting you:
A car, a job, a house and wife
Etc and etc

Freedom is choice
Between Pepsi or Coke
Or diet Coke
Itís not so bad
Everything shimmers
And the shimmer is for sale

The Gap is in the mall
And between your ears:
But be thankful
Raise a flag and fly the mask of business
To not give thanks--
It is a sin

The house is on fire
Its made of Third World wood
Love it or leave it, fool
To put it out?
You couldnít if you wanted to

Nobody hears you
Faint is your voice
--If you could get back on track?
Your cell, your life,
(Is there a difference?)
It might grow larger,
Possibly much larger--
Ikea would do well in that wing

The truth is, (between you and me):
Youíre not cynical
The rich and the great are cynical
And so they do the things they do
Youíre a realist
But you have to change
And forget about it all
Enthusiastic apathy is the way to go
Decorate your life, your cell
To quote great literature (itís sold at Borderís)
Make a heaven of your hell

Yes, itís true
That cool is cruel
And power is ugly
And money is dirty

But its not so bad when you donít know much
When you forget
Itís not so bad when you gaze at a screen
Or a paycheck
And slowly go blind

In the name of public opinion
In the name common sense,
In the name of pragmatism, moderation, and survival

In the name of the world

Kill your soul
And get a life

A Little World

O dreamy lover
Friend and mate
Walk with me
Let's journey far
In a deep and hidden place
I'll hold you tight

Wrangle with my mind
Could you beat it?
Probably not
But you'll have fun trying

Wrangle with my heart
Pull me back into life
I'll be thankful

Our bodies will be shared
We'll kiss often
And what's important
Our souls will blend
And make one space
A space to live in
A starting point and goal
A little world
But big enough for joy

Your Beautiful Face

Sweet and gentle
Sad and lost
Smiling, you ramble about
Sitting, I calculate the cost

The cost of contradiction
The fear of disgrace
The price of dishonesty
I can see it on your face

Your beautiful face
With its secret glances down my way
Your beautiful face
How it tells the things you'll never say

And as my heart is filled with wonder
And contemplates what is to be
There is just one thing that I long for
To hold you tight and set you free

To Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Old city
Landscape of my mind
You're beauty always enchanted me

Nobody understood this
Nobody ever will
For enthusiasm has a bad conscience
And is out of place in the world

Aged buildings
Liberated by neglect
Are lovely in their ruin
The dross of progress is swept away
And the essence of things can blossom in peace

It may well be that he who cannot love the past
Will succeed in this world
But his success is cruel
And stamps out the visions of weaker souls

Los Angeles
Old city
My heart grows tired
And soon I will set my love for you aside
But I thank whatever spirit made you
And for a time let me find in you
A gateway to happiness

To Los Angeles Again

I come to you, mystery city
In search of strangest truth
Like a haunting chorus of lost angels,
you call me on and on

Mysterious city of misty hills
With grand old bridges and aging palms
Your noble mansions sink and fall
Your dreams of power leave feeble golden shadows
And I wander in your sacred dusk

The craggy, splendid chaos
The lovely labyrinth and urban jungle
This my soul calls home
Not the rigid hospital of my youth
Not the immaculate prison,
The pristine hell-

I love you, mystery city
And one day I'll join you
Lost and lovely angel
I'll join your choir
Lost and lovely
Lost in love
I'll sing your song of strangest truth

About a Girl

I never thought Iíd love a girl again
I never thought Iíd slip and fall that way
But one strange night everything changed
I saw her face and heard her voice
She took me by the arm
And dashed apart my sad convictions

The very next morning my head was filled with thoughts
And I found myself singing songs I didnít even like

Somewhere between the brain and the loins
Is the human heart
Romance is a soft explosion there
And is better than any drug

Nervous, confused, a passionate fool
I had such high hopes and schoolboy dreams
Time took its course, though
And the stubborn truth, always unpredictable
Revealed itself harshly:
She wasnít addicted to me

So here I am
Left with the stars and the moon,
The sun and the sea
And the God who is ruler of all that is

An Innocent Heart Deserving

You are a flower most worthy
A gem stone so beautiful
A rare and fragrant delight to the soul

You are virtuous and kind
Merciful and humble
A peaceful, gentle spirit is yours
So much better than my own

Looking into a mirror I shirk with horror
So much vanity and selfishness I see
Though I suffer much
I often feel it is what I deserve

But have I discovered in you something else?
A wounded, innocent heart
Deserving of all the consolation in the world?
Yes, an innocent heart deserving

I cannot give it to you, dear
I cannot give you consolation
But I would, I would

I cannot give it to you, dear
But I would

The Blows Pass Over Me

The agony of my spirit
The darkness of my life
Speechless before the world's mockery
Impotent before death and eternity

What does any of this mean?
Why does God allow our torture and damnation?
I am a hell
My very soul is a hell

To be a human being is such a humiliation
A helpless beggar for love
Unworthy as a prostitute
Ugly as a cripple

The blows of reality pass over me
And I know that happiness will never come


Oh Beauty
My beloved friend
For many years we have been strangers

Oh priceless Life of my childhood
Oh amazing Love between my eyes
And all the world around me

Our God has taken you away, my beloved Love
He has snatched from me the rainbow of true wealth
And left me poor and stranded
Under a bleak and fearful winter sky

Alone I wander with dark, uncertain death
Announcing itself from all horizons.
Alone I trek in solemn dignity,
Maturing and progressing
In a virtue I donít want
And a life I cannot understand

Oh Beauty, my Beauty
You channel of light and peace
Who once passed freely through my eyes,
Cascading down within me
Bringing all the wonders of the world
To rest within a happy heart

Oh Beauty, my Beauty, I long for you
I long for you so fiercely
And with tears
I cry to God to give you back to me
Back to this poor, wretched beggar
Who pants for you in solitude, in sadness
And in horrid pain

Pain Around My Skull

Aah, the pain is clamping round my foolish skull
A sign of too many pills and too many potions
Imbibed to make the world less dull

My heart is in agony
My spirit starved for peace
Every easy route there is
Iíve walked in search of some release

Iím half-way crazy
With a soul so dead
My headache is wretched
A token of the life Iíve led

Grant me mercy
Grant me some light
When I wake up in the morning
God, oh please
Make things just a bit more bright

Psalm of 2004

A darkened righteousness descends upon our Land
Justice without mercy
Stifling order without beauty or grace

I crumple and I shiver
My heart is torn within me as I gasp for life and peace

Oh Lord,
For how long will it be a dreadful thing to love You?

You in whose name crimes are committed
Around the globe
Lies and violence which mar the world!

When again shall I hope in You?
When trust again in the beauty of Your truth?
Truth of goodness, truth of joy,
Salvation of a world full of darkness and pain

God of my life and of the world
When shall my journey end
And when shall my agony
Be sufficient?

God of Heaven and God of Earth
Do not abandon me to destruction and despair
Have mercy on me
And those I love

Here in this world and the next

A Christian's Despair

Stretched out and empty,
Heartbroken and dead
I linger on for you, my friends

This quiet exercise in boredom
This effortful attempt at loving usefulness
Its all for you, my family of strangers

So long has it been since life was beautiful
So long, so long
That I only hope for a miracle beyond the grave

Thatís the way it goes for Christian boys like me
Itís the secret, fearful path of the cross

Thereís an abandoned world which Iíll never get back
Never get the childís beauty back
Never, never
Not until Iím dead and recreated, risen

Itís all just so hard
Like a huge black stone in the depths of my heart

Strengthen Me to Die

The painful storm
This seasick life
Of one knowing not whom to blame
For all the distress and pain.

My own foolish rebellion
Or rather the mysterious hand of God?

Certainly, I am fated to die
But looking back on the gorgeous riddle of my youth
It makes it awful to march on forward
Abandoning this world,
My home for so many years

Empty it seems today, but every mask and every misty veil
Is a symbol of the throbbing joy I once knew well

To die to all this, to sacrifice the book of my life
This maddening book of stunted creation and love
It is so far beyond me, Jesus
So very, very far

This world has indeed become for me a hell
A vicious wheel of boredom and fear
But to lay it down on Golgotha
At your cross of Total Surrender

That seems to me an unbearable cure

For dying into eternal life and peace
To Resurrection
Grant me faith, Oh God

Help my hopeless unbelief

The Nothingness Is Filled

I have shed my shell and lost the world.
Standing alert in the strange night,
I search my mind for a memory of paradise.
In truth, that project was dropped by the wayside long ago,
But I listen sometimes for the echo of a rumor,
The ghost of my childhoodís effortless delight.

Ah, how the task of manhood calls strongly nowÖ
An awkward fool, I am stationed at my post.
The sentence being pronounced,
I bear the weight of anonymous humility.
My consolation is the dignity of togetherness,
The easing warmth of our nameless crowd.

Surveying my life I quickly long for you.
In your own funny way you are a vision of perfection.
You see, I would soon forget the castles of dreams gone by
For a couple rooms at a decent price.
If the walls were thick enough to shelter us a while,
I would speak to you my adoring heart.

Death, indeed awaits us all,
But boastful Hades will not impede me;
He cannot hinder my twilight call.
Be not afraid, my precious friend.
I would speak to you my adoring heart,
And so will the nothingness be filled.

A Dream

Come to me, my beloved, and meet me within a dream
Take you leave of your real life, and you shall set me free

There shall my agony be subdued
There shall my emptiness be put to flight
In this landscape of my longing
Will my pain be forever hid away

Sweet beloved whom I know I need
Puncture this wall which is my being
Puncture this dreadful, stubborn being
And fly me far to a world of peace

Be an angel unto me, my beloved
Transgress for us the boundaries of your life

Meet me as mentioned within a dream
And let us plea for beautyís all

Beauty is the stuff of dreams
And a dream will not rebuke our plea

Beautyís all for us, beloved
Beautyís all within a dream

High On A Hill

High on a hill
Gazing at the shifting, fuzzy vision of the world
Naming the nameless with my vain and grasping mind
I try to penetrate to the mystery of life

I canít, I canít
The comprehension of things is a work left uncompleted
At least on this side of death
And with a psyche so much confused

Jesus, I whisper
Jesus in my inmost heart

And silence--

The Son perhaps has left me hanging
As the Father left Him
In pain and humble desperation

And so with wounds I go down into the world of men
From the hill down to my brothers and sisters
From the hill to be swept away into an unknown future
A surprising destiny

For One Who Rests in Christ

Tears are not enough
To fill the empty spring
Words are not enough
To warm the icy wind

When you died
And we gathered all around
The funeral meant nothing
And the words I spoke
Brought only shame to my heart

Death is not a part of life
Death is not a part of life
The lies we tell again and again
Will never heal our aching wounds

Only life is truly life
And only hope will set us free
I write this poem to be read in paradise
And I remember you because
I cannot wait to see you again

How We Came Together

Its so funny
How a disagreement in words
Could lead to a unity of hearts

You liked me so well
But I hit upon a point of pride
We debated for hours
Thatís how it goes when universes clash

By the time words became sparse
Friendship was established

After the cigars were put out
The flames of your passion grew urgent
My confusion, however, was as damp as any swamp

Only the quaking step of time
Could settle things for the two of us
And now weíre together for real
Together and surprised
IĎm as joyful, too, as a loving fool could be


You donít want to hear my words
You donít want to share my space
The time you have is not for me
Your heart is in a different place

Youíre not a monster, just a man
Iím not a victim, just a friend
You followed me once, a vulnerable soul
Now its your time to gain control

Its alright when tables turn
My arrogant heart has now been spurned
Your mind should now observe and learn
Godís purifying fire burns

Oh My Jesus

Oh my Jesus
Do you understand the sinful creature who I am?
Do you know my terror of you
And of all the things proclaimed to me as good?
I cannot lift up your holy book
I cannot turn the sacred page
The cup of your blood is bitter to my tongue
And I cannot take your broken body within me

My life, oh my Jesus
Is a mysterious failure
And although I apprehend much of your truth
It largely remains to me a dreaded conflagration
A lightning revelation that shall scorch the earth

All I can do is kneel before you, Jesus
All I can muster is an offering of sadness
A despair endured for many years

I give to you a meager tear, my Lord
For there is little else, Jesus, that is truly mine

In Vain

I dream in vain, in vain
My heart beats on without reason
An unkind fate has banished hope from my horizons

Obsessed by God, I cannot love him
His will to me is an alien command
A lonely and unprofitable servant am I
I fear that His is an impossible decree

Where is the romance and tenderness of which I dreamt?
Where is that embrace for which my heart did burn?
Oh God, my God, I am desolate and empty
The breath of life has left me and I sink into desperate lethargy

Oh God, my God, my strangest God
Send out to me a messenger of beauty and peace
Do not abandon me, Lord, for I have not the strength for this despair


He only looks, he does not feel
His heart barely beats, but there is a fire in his mind
Hopeless, he sees so much
He is without the consolation of sanctity
Besmirched by shit and perversion
Mentally ill, a pill popper
Light invades the chinks in his armor
Intermittently only
Soon his mind must submit to the paradox
Of truth-- yes, of truth;

Into the Night,
for my Mother

Did you ever notice how quiet I was?
Did you ever guess at the mystery inside me?
God knows
Yes, he must
He created me from the tears and dust
He set me walking on my awkward way
Each step further into wisdom, pain, and darkness

God knows
Yes, he must
That you and I and all are of a common tragedy
A destiny of long, long suffering
Serenaded by the moonlight of prayerful song
Awaiting the eternal morning
Fixated on the dawn
Further we go into wisdom, pain, and darkness
Our hearts fixated on the dawn

I felt like quitting our awful game today
A coward like me can feel his pain, after all
But only for a while
Pining from my depths
Aching for the innocent glories of yesterday
I felt like quitting our awful game
I can only march into the blackness for so long
I can only for a while keep hoping for the daybreak

And all my friends, as good as they are
Donít know what to say to me,
And they couldnít if they wanted
Only a mother can do that
No, life isnít fair, she said
You just have to be strong about it
And having heard truth without malice,
Or the pitiless judgment of the crowd
I will march a little longer into wisdom, pain, and darkness
Hoping, or at least trying to, for the beauty of sunrise
Indebted as a son for the wiping of my tears

Everlasting Day

Everlasting day
Covered by a pale blue sky
Life becomes a vision
And spirits seep into your eyes

Everlasting day
In a world so deep and broad
A million colors waft in space
And each conceals a thought of God