Asher Blake’s Talking With Michael Black


Talking With Michael Black

I don’t just love you in your kimono
rage, your outfit for oriental jazz.
Constancy, sweet constancy, your head
within our fridge. My child, love
is yours not for blowing piles
of Miles in a cocaine fusion,
cocksure in your shoulder pads,
the wolf-geist in my guest house.
Because you are my son.
That is why I love you.

Not for the way you read Ginsberg’s Howl
with the actual pride of your daemon,
attempting some crystal adage
but lacking even the Hebrew School
knowledge of that Devil Moloch
who took you hostage. We still
ransom ourselves mad, and build
bridges over Gehenna ravines
inside your everyday mind,
for you, my little one, are still in sight.

You emerged in an aureole of perplexity,
of misery. We never travail
in your worm-like misery, but I stoop
in the dark in my attorney suit,
my silken fencing mask, and burn
real money in sprawling Texan
wastebaskets because
I truly love you, far more
than you love Ginsberg.

When you heard you had a son, the lightning
flew, ran with golden feet on each stone
vertebrae, that was how you said you knew.
Though you crush on Coltrane’s chakras,
that thrum and moan with vibraphone ease,
remember the greater liberation:
being born in flesh and bone
as generations more of living beings.

Dear Michael, music of the trees,
monster of epiphany, I see through
the forest, I know the field.
I’ve cleared the path in pain, in part
by cleaning up your child mess and vomit.
The tragic song to me is always klezmer,
like some carousel of ecstatic clarinet;
like my old arena: I know the field.
Your path comes through Michael,
come and I will lead you.

The real thing can cost
in fire; surely some flames
may touch the original Nordic
boat, even you, the gambler’s
wisely crooked dice.
Not for any tenderness
of youth, but in your grizzled
cheek as you resist the mental
ward – we love you.

A baby, already you brought
the doctors of the void to sound
their “ah’s.” They make the
illness the oracle. By now
you realize that real inference
appears by sessions looking
in the mirror, and if you cast reflections
twice, thrice weekly, send the bill
to me; grow a full, luxurious
beard. Just comply with us
on this: please take your meds;
I beg you to take your meds.

I have swallowed your horror
since you emerged into this world
from the areola, burst out from
a bison side. Your pills now the whole
horror swallow. Eat them
and take what we give in silence.

Take a chair beside me; my chair
into your room when I am gone.
Grow almost like me; grow almost
as ancient beside me, full of the throat
that throws wishbones of law,
and sets down pillowed cushions
for the rabbis in the synagogue.

Asher Blake’s Praise Poem #17


Praise Poem #17

Walking beneath the cherry trees
he fell in love with the Phillipines.
Young sapling roots hug the tidal basin.

When the wind is stronger than the flower,
weak aching heads relinquish their beams.
Ripe they fall in a frenzy
of the five senses every spring.
Our heads look
to the spin,

the eye and skin brush the whirling dress,
but our mouths hold back
Clouds are blooming like slow dancing
thinkers on the rain.

He was well seeded with his trees,
sprouted in the spring.
But he died in love beneath
the Filippino cherry trees,
passed Lethe in the floating arms
of uncut flowers
like children’s teeth.

His last hope was the breath
of a Filipino medic
that is still within his lungs.
Hopes hanging in his pulse,
life, then living death,
life, then dying all the death.

He holds his heart eyes open,
they stay eternally in windy breath,
when unshaken blossoms remain beholding Him,
in that very wind that is the vigor of the root.
In salted islands, and the eagle nest D.C.,
we take His body, preach His wounds,
for the Lord more beautiful
than cherry blossoms
rises first,
and keeps me clinging,
heart to beating heart.

Cherry Tree

Asher Blake’s Praise Poem #18


Praise Poem #18

Dread goes high, higher, Avraham,
how I’m dead and fear’s fatal gleam
meets my eye. And the final lick
of light in me has shut,
gone in raised harvest of hair and knowledge
off my body. Now I know the certain
darkness feels for something there,
smothered by the weight
of the night-fell-angel
forced the other way, to swear
by that boy, Struggle, getting blessings
for himself, the prince, so that
the horn of Israel did get it,
and his shaggy twin by bullish power
was thrown, his assumptions,
my son to starlight multiplies,
and saves Israel, the caravan light of Israel.

Oh august Lord God above,
please accept
my hand is coming,
your water, we wash always in your
water, you are why I always wash
the feet first and hands, then dishes,
the couches and the counters after.

Oh great Father, please accept my child,
the holy fruit of steady prayer.
Even father Avraham said,
Lord, let Ishmael live before you!

Dear Lord, Holy One Hashem,
please accept my son for love,
favor him and bind him
in your sign, cut off his foreskin
in the power of your knowledge.
By dread of you, we gain relief
and live, and read a sentence of
graven letters and are written –
in the Book of Life.

There is a surgeon’s skull cap,
pulling back the tenderness,
it lends him greater manhood,
so there is a foreskin for the circumcised,
something nails, some immodesty, a brazen
camouflage bandanna against the head,
the band of men appearing to take God,
Lord of stars, and nail Him,
kill your breath, then curse.

But there is also the call irrevocable,
and the fair song, singing,
praising breath.
We find through a little
side angled door, a seal
in Him forever. Go
past the fear of rejection;
go into the luscious manhood
of the vine and branches heavy pruned
by the Father who counted His Son’s blood
sacred, who created this means of worship
strong enough to bear the weight of rescue.

Asher Blake’s Elegy for Charles Mingus


Jazz Elegy no.1
Charles Mingus

Upraised wrists of a woman
and a fat dead hen
that hangs below.
Three dogs linger for broth and bone.
With wings spread,
one last dance
before the shaman.

He has no poultice
for a foolish soul.
Nonetheless he stoops down
for a smooth stone.

Loamy Earth
lusts for the pines.
The ground moans
when they flex
in the juniper wind.
She never stops braiding
herself with fragrant pine
even to the mid desert stands.

The people open their mouth for spirits.
And shamans names are known
to those in pain.
In the city clinic,
the fame of magic towers
above the poor higher
than Tenochtitlan pyramids,
the desperate lashed to their beds
with plastic twine.

Fingers pluck
the doors of Bellevue
a double bass knocking
through mopped floors.

fall solo
for the doctor’s sigh is in his breath
his underscore is in his notes.

Inroads of Mexico
in the American interior,
the white worm healers of Cuernavaca
have Mingus magnetized.

Nonetheless, he dies of ALS.
Respite of the rain in June.
Callused fingertips.


Charles Mingus, 1922-1979, may he rest in peace.

Wittingham Asluum

Asher Blake’s Elegy for David Schubert


Elegy no.2
Poet David Schubert

First she sank in
blanched relief
he left
the clouds to cluster.

Lifting herself,
she could have been made of a sparrow,
it was not light.
One jump launched all

the fires of his ships out.
If you tear the shreds or
moulder me in the attic
still there are the scraps of me

some other woman
rejoins years fidelio
in the ground –
still she tries to make them fit.

She is,
well, am not I,
some kind of sour slave
feeding others?

The skirts of a mother’s suicide,
once uncovered,
are like black pitch
spread across the eyes.

Yes, he left the clouds to cluster.
In my mother
I was as a tie knot
more firm than marriage vows.

More sensitive than a man’s
member, is the skin in a sparrow’s
ear. He flies seaward farther
than the dove.

The shape of a poignant life
is a boy who grows in long fatherless
shadows. All poignant
lives make peninsulas.

Teeming sourdough, or seed
born with germinated seed.
David restless in a clotted pinch.
A hand went within.

There are not enough hands.
We must all love one,
asymmetric, for with the remaining
hand we refuse the Lord.


This elegy is based on the intensely tragic and painful life of the obscure poet, David Schubert.  Particularly the focus here is on the suicide of his mother after the two had been abandoned by David’s father.  David was the one to discover her hanged.  He eventually became schizophrenic, suffered persistent poverty (including the Depression), and in a psychotic fit destroyed most of his work.  His ex-wife pieced together the fragments of his poems after his death and after 15 years found him a publisher.

David became an inspiration to poets like William Carlos Williams, John Ashberry, and James Wright.  You can read his poetry and what some other poets have made of him at, and short bios at the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry and also at his wikipedia page.

(Painting above by Andrea Kowch)

Asher Blake’s Thwarting Ground


Thwarting Ground

At last it is me I meet –
I mean the mole.
My pinhole eye
opens on the inside,
and the torn stair of childhood,
the crib-crawl drag,
all half-swilled tales,
and each jagged scissor edge
cohere in me like some collage.

I open on the inside
like some ceaseless
spangled housefly,
artless, paranoid –
his buttressed eye
bears all. His fur fangs
hang clean as they can get.
I cannot say why, for my life
I cannot say why, I cannot sing my
sigh. All the town comes skating

on my pangs, creaking on their sharp
stroking merriment.
It is a warm spring day
when children jump the thin ice
down like a scared cat,
when old men’s noses
begin to differ.
There is a rose and fond thorns.
And again a sweaty band
inside the hat.

Asher Blake’s This One Friend


This One Friend

The problem,
– he said –
with the knot… is all the folds…it’s all folded up…
into itself…upon itself…it can’t be answered.

None of these questions…It’s confounded by folds.

Pull them apart…unwrap them like little gifts…
now once you’ve got it all unfolded, stretch out the ends,
one opposite the other. Put the ends
away from each other,
far away.

He asked:

do you know the 72 centimeters of facial destruction?

– No. –

About someone’s face in Chinese Medicine?

I told him my face was the punching bag
of a thousand folded wings and
that I always give the best lines to myself
but that when I win this weekend,
I will get him all hooked up.

He said:

You should really meet Tonya.
She could tell your parents didn’t love you
and you ate hot soup in the rain.
She could tell all that
because your hair was mussed
fingers shaking
to sign up
for the experiment.

Asher Blake’s The Inherited Farm


The Inherited Farm

I wish I could have different ideas than about myself,
Sons of Texas.

We sleepless three days moan in meditation.
Room empty – a coffeepot and three foot siphon to the side.
The room-tomb become a cavern.

We are crackpot custodians,
anarchists of the chain of geodesic domes.
None of us have made the Waco postcards.

Like a little bird in my hands she swoons to me.
Why are the Sons of Texas so sexually dimorphic,
Patrick Lawler?