Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons
by Al Young
Al Young's recent poetry is collected in Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons – where you'll find these, and more. He is California's Poet Laureate.
Notes on the Future of Love
Meanwhile over in yet another time zone,
somewhere between Iraq and another place
hard hit, the most toxic of gumbos thickens.
To the poisoned Kool-Aid taste of homemade sin,
answers-in-progress stack but don't add up.
With every putrid breath you take, hope dissolves
into streaming re-runs of hell and high water.
In Chinese, in Czech, in Arabic or Albanian,
in Japanese or German, does the Sermon on the Mount
still count? And does it say still: Thou shall not kill?
In your cozy time zone, sandwiched now somehow
between Iraq and another place hard hit,
where do you come down on the future of love?
The Elvis I Knew Well Was Spiritual
The Elvis I knew well was spiritual.
The books he'd read on mystics, yoga, Jung
and Jesus, Buddha – long before your digital
technology kicked in and Mao Tse-Tung
became an icon you could click – he tried
to buy enlightenment. He thought a check
might do the trick: big bucks, love-tendered, wide
and blank. No deal. No Ouija board, no deck
of tarot cards could trump his fate. His star
beamed underneath (or far beyond) the God
he knew as blackness, gospel, blues. As far
as light-years went, Elvis could ride and nod.
He couldn't get high on glory, glamour, fame.
Blissless, he drugged you with his moves, his name.
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