We see exits and entrances

In the early days of lockdown, as I watched dragonflies mating outside my window in Los Angeles, I worried that in San Francisco, my 97-year-old novelist father was dangerously detached from the things that sustain him: carnival. human, and his own writing. His poor eyesight made it difficult for him to type, so I sent a poem to his apartment in San Francisco via US mail.

Soon my dad and I were sending each other poems in the mail, talking about an upcoming poetry book, and sharing ideas about love, romance, death, and all the other fun stuff. My twin brother, Ethan, soon joined in with his own poems, and since he’s a musician, my dad’s a novelist, and I’m a filmmaker, we could compete without killing each other.

We and the poems will be included in “Helicóptero”, my new film that was inspired by a commission from Alejandro Jodorowsky to heal the spiritual wounds of my family. This first selection of our poems, “We See Exits and Entrances,” captures a season in the dreams of father and sons. —Ari Gold

Scribble me a poem, I tell my dad,
because he’s making excuses not to write.
You can’t see the typewriter cranes.
now collecting dust.

Tomato soup is empty, prunes hard.
I mixed them for breakfast this winter,
in a glazed glass bowl with last week’s soup,
But I drew the line by eating that shit
microwaved with loving ingenuity,
by a child of the first Great Depression.

At this time it should be in front of sight.
from his window looking south,
on his sofa full of The New York Times,
to the golden haze of San Francisco at dawn,
Where the tower of Grace Cathedral pokes the air,
doing his North Korean marching steps.
Scribble me a poem, I say,
but I must be the one I send,
dreaming of the Baltic countries,
in front of a garden in Los Angeles,
a palm tree, waiting for hummingbirds
to meditate with me. —Ari

This is what I know for sure:
I will not die yesterday.
Morning? Is that a question?

Yesterday and all those yesterdays
forever endless times
when she smiled charmingly,
showed a leg
or looked me gravely in the eye,
our eyes met together,
or simply winked an eye to warn—
in my dreams-
Even when I think I’m awake
writing these words.

The trees outside my window
wave and bow and shrug in the wind
Even when the trees across the road
they are still and imperturbable,
neither breath of wind nor words.
Like I never will be.
As I surely will be. -Herb

My brother stares at the window with broken glass.
I don’t really like sliding doors, I say
Why not get French doors?
that opens at night,
if you’re going to bother to fix it?
But my brother likes a quiet room.
Yesterday he made fun of the guys who hang
his arm out the car window.
But I’m one of those guys, I told him.
My friend Elouisa,
who I was in love with a long time ago,
He offered to diagnose me.
I opened the windows of his bungalow and
she called me restless.

The train in Glendale just honked.
I don’t like to remember that it’s just
a commuter train in Glendale.
I don’t like to remember
our dad is in the hospital,
the unfulfilled promise of adventure with him,
a promise between father and sons
that the windows will always be open.

In the Ballona Wetlands Natural Park,
on a cement block sculpture,
I am a child again, on soft and warm cement.
A frail woman passes, bent over,
the smile of nature on her face,
dog walking forward
I hope my dad has at least one nice nurse.

A beam of light the width of a house
springs from earth to heaven,
from heaven to earth.
Let’s breathe for all of us.
Brother, father, father, children.
I want to free you from your broken heart. —Ari

no one gets out alive
not of life
So we hasten to escape
And we only have one safe output:
Memories, those of others.

Not ours of course
But those of those
who will not come out alive
In the final silence.

The time goes by?
No, sir or madam,
He limps, he staggers, he falls.

Let’s remember then
That’s the music we make and listen to
When we limp, we stagger and fall.
Not virtually, not digitally,
But in the fire of love, eternal love.
Even if it’s temporary, it burns, it burns. -Herb

Clockwise from top left: grass; family; Grass, Ethan and Ari; grass and lemon balm gold; Grass in San Francisco; ari and grassPhotos: Jeffrey Bloom and Ari Gold


“My fickle dancer swells my thighs
with helium,” I say. helium, stranger
word to use for love, but can disguise
my teenage angst, and maybe rearrange
Dad’s stuck memories of his paradise,
since twenty years have passed she has gone,
and the threat of selfish tears in her eyes
it embarrasses him, so he blinks and yawns.
Ancient memories take me back
to wink at his still radiant young queen.
My half-formed self, huddled in the living sack
she carried, could she have ever foreseen it?
one lover crying while the other sealed
his heart, destiny making us turn in the same wheel? —Ari

Why do you write poetry?
Do I write poetry?
I do not know. But you are writing right now.
Is it writing poetry?
Is poetry written?
No. Poetry is more like forestry. Or gardening.
I agree. Do you like daffodils?
I don’t know what daffodils are.
I stink outdoors.
that’s why i do
a life
and sounds,
Artificial. —Ethan

That photographer, who with his lens had recorded so much decadence,
I last saw him at a funeral.
He greeted me, I greeted him.
I said, “How are you, Jim?”
Death was written on his face.

when my heart stops
Or my brain explodes,
Oh please,
let death come to me
Before the greyness, the doom and the despair
They are inscribed on my face.
Oh please,
Give me time to tell the sons and daughters
“Okay, it happens to everyone.
You can do a song, or even not do it.”
Go ahead, go ahead.
Pick up your knees and your spirits
(My knees, my spirit)
In this exercise of disorientation
(a fancy way of saying
I did not know extreme old age
it will happen to me)

My metabolism gives me time to consider it
decide about it
And finally forget it
Like everyone.

I won’t miss the commotion.
The commotion won’t surprise me
However, however, I am still here.
Sing it, please: “I am what I am,
I am Four Eyes the Writer Man. -Weed


The boy bathes in the stream.
dreaming of distant girls.
The goats peek over the bushes,
horns first,
and then disperse.
sweat tastes good
lip sweat—
work sweat –
America sweats.
But he is not American.
he is not russian
not Belarusian.
not Ukrainian,
not polish.
He is everything and none.

The goats, his last friends, are long gone.
The stiff woolen uniforms of the Cossacks look elegant.
They take this 12-year-old man
-he is a man-
and laughing, lift it up,
throw it into the water.
Now the taste is more salty,
Blood and spring.
They’re just playing with an animal,
practicing hockey with sticks hitting a
disc, one face, softer than a disc.
Later my grandfather gets up,
return to father and mother,
He says
I’m not like you,
won’t live like you
won’t die like you.
There’s gold in the streets of New York
or maybe Cleveland. —Ari


What to do when singing a song is like pulling a tooth
When listening to friends is like being bitten by mosquitoes
When sex is like a walk through a minefield?
When love is like a life sentence?
Is it time, then, to run to a swamp,
Let the body be eaten by the little bastards.
Get out of the swamp over a demilitarized zone
And stop at the dentist on the way home?

Enter the body, somehow
It hurt
It’s a terror to be alive
But I still prefer it to the alternative.

Let us now praise the infamous dentists,
and bus drivers
and rude companions
And jealous lovers
and the war
We humans are always looking for pain to remind us. —Ethan

Someone famous will die that day,
My day,
And the newspaper will report:
“More obituaries on page 24.”

For the curiosity of some,
the repentance of many
and the pain of a few.

Those few matter
So that you have a good walk.
on the promontories of Marin
In the shadow of a tired and worn mountain
(still green! still fragrant!
with transplanted pine and eucalyptus,
and most importantly: still there!),
where I am proud that a few collect garbage,
But throw my ashes downwind,
And remember as I fly away -Herb

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