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Thursday, December 29, 2011

This pumpkin strives (the poem)

This pumpkin strives.
She climbs. She
grapples. Her fruit, more apple
green than the accustomed

pumpkin’s burnt
orange, peeks between
limbs spread wide, not to yawn
but to fly.

Why strive? Why climb, when
the lure of earth sits there so sure
below, its nurturing brown-black,
rumbling with need?

The see-through air dares
her with its sweet, and her cares
are precious but they’re
also very patient.

Monday, December 26, 2011

On the Feast of Stephen

When the wren
senses the sun’s gift,
its enlightened touch
warming a tender brown breast,
he begs neither hand nor pen
to send his blessings

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Not enough mouths to say it (my gift to Jill on Christmas)

There are not enough mouths
for me, or me’s on all my parallel paths
to say it
or sing it
or sound out the words that rhyme
to the truth of it

I will, I
do, I’ve
loved you
since we met, since
well-before that, in fact

I will, I
do, I’ve
loved you
since my childish heart could love, since
before I couldn’t speak
with all these superfluous mouths, mouths
unable to give
any true sounds shape,
just these words, sometimes
ringing as hollow as hellos

I will, I
did, I
do love you,
and all these irrelevant mouths
through all the relevant times
and tenses
are unable even now or then
to describe
the multi-dimensional ride
my heart takes
whenever, wherever, however
we meet, coming and going,
growing both forward,
and all around,
and back to the well-before
those sounds

I couldn’t speak.

[Christmas = love, and this is for my love, Jill]

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the Winter Sostice, 2011

We’re on the cusp,

a pin-prick gleam on the lip of a cup,
and we’re running. Over

and over, we’ve held it.

We’ve raised it up,
this golden
cup filled with the sacrifice
of time, time and time again,
until its weight gets too much,
or our arms too fat to hold it. Much longer,

and longer than that, the shadows go,
and they’ll continue to grow now. Our fancy cup’s
at the tipping, with its time spilling out
twenty-four hours
a day into the forest of roots

loosing their grip on the slime-drenched
soil. Little Juramaia once played here,
and Gaia hasn’t forgotten her. Could she

forget us, or the trees? She can’t

feel the hoar frost for the trees,
or us, when it’s gone,
and the trees have gone tipsy
at the thought. That,

and this lengthening light.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The rest is leaving me

Are you responsible for it
what you do in dreams My dreams
may be
telling me

There’s no need to yell He’s right
there in front of me He’s right
there
The okapi, Okapia
johnstoni, is a giraffid
artiodactyl mammal
native to the Ituri
Rainforest in Central
Africa
I feed my head lots of facts A little
fiction They tamp down
others that are
older The others
that are less
comforting
Sirius is the brightest
star in the night sky It is
almost twice as bright
as Canopus The name
is derived from the Ancient
Greek for "glowing" or
“scorcher”
I remember yelling I can’t
remember what
I yelled or
if he wore glasses I do
remember a room
and the flimsy pale
blue Frailty The rest is leaving
me
I was freezing
and walked on following
that track in my dreams, longing
too for that
doorway to
an enchanted theater,
which was for madmen only
Are you responsible for it
what you did when young I was young
when I yelled He was there
He was still there Still there
right in front of me

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's the trees that listen

The murder hadn’t heard
her not-words
murmured in delight.
The trees did despite
the flapping,
darkly beaten wings
filtered through a leafless light.

Friday, December 09, 2011

One day, a cat

One jet scars the night.
One feather leaves it a kiss.
One morning comes, gray whiskered,
to lap away the miss.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The softening sadness of a softer rain

Here’s the pretty picture of her
unfamiliar wall: there’s a prettier
window where soldiering trees line up
to have their familiar tops and bottoms cut,
and their bare black branches removed
just as they reach into a settling blue.
Its painter didn’t remember to paint it in,
the softening sadness of a softer rain.
Wet drips, and it drips us invisibly
drowsing to a picture of soldiering trees.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Expanse

I know
but can’t believe it. I can’t
feel it, not all of it. It’s too big,
and yet, it’s getting bigger.

Such a small child,
my small thumb and smaller
fingertip meeting to pluck it
out from a there, where it’s not
blinking, not really even twinkling,
but lightly being both
there and a part of me.

How could it ever not be
there when that there comes
back, black and white, but
a little bit different,
a little more removed
the next day, and again
every day after?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Obscura

Time is relative
it’s akin, and akimbo
to the quality of our failing
light, as the camera draws near, then
it pulls back from fading stars
and into grasping shadow.

Thanks to Jill, who planted the seed for this.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December

When the nine that’s eleven
becomes a twelve and not ten
browns will wander toward white
and hard swallow still soft light

Saturday, November 26, 2011

For Jill

The wonder filled words for the wonders we feel aren’t words at all They’re not the words in this poem to be bunched up or rhymed They’re not the sing-sung words of other poems and tales we read aloud at wee hours They’re not even the words from the oddly but sweetly breathed lyric we rediscover to each other over and over They’re found in the whorl of a whispering wind helping orange and amber hands to shimmy and sway as they reach up from the cold cement to touch our warmth They’re bound up in the low hum and hard pull of a half moon as it sits in its still-lit blue and nods down to bless our walk They’re the sound of everything we’ve ever wondered at They echo nothing but the beauty we’d only squander if we could never share it And though we can’t rhyme them or read them or sing them we can always hear them together.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Borrowed rooms

This borrowed room
won’t borrow its light from a moon
hidden from sight
behind a plain, black rectangle, but a slight
glow sneaks in at the fringe.

I like to look at that fringe.

My neighbor is
scratching. He is

scraping the wall
with a chalk
piece’s quick jumps, and

its languid swirls. I can

merely guess at
the alibis he writes on its flat
backside.

When will the scraping die
down?

It dies down.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The solipsistic scientist defines

1.

[My] theory [is]
the self is
the only thing

[It] can be
(it is)
known and
(in knowing, it is)
verified.

2.

[My] theory (is)
or (it is my) view that
the self is
the only
(known and knowing)
reality.

3.

(My theory is)
self-absorption.

(It is)
an unawareness
(yes, blissfully so)
of the (unknown
and unknowable)
views or needs
of others.

(Are there others?)

Monday, November 07, 2011

My hollow has a metal sound (the poem)

[Well, I'm posting one more poem before I take my pause from regular blogging to focus on a longer-term project (and I may break the silence again if the muse takes me unexpectedly, as she often does).]

My hollow has a metal sound.

My hollow is sounding this way:
A hinged flap clangs,

tapping against its empty cylinder.
There are cinders in the tender

trap I laid yesterday

to catch a glimpse of a gleam.
The gleam leaped from a small crinkle

in the steel, and got free
before I could show it how much

I loved it.

Then, I closed my eyes.
When I close my eyes, I can see

flares of color.
Monday, it isn’t blue, it’s red,

a ruby splatter creeping

its stain of warmth to the very edge.
Tuesday, it’s blue. Tuesday is

a sapphire pool slowly spreading its wet
to cool off Monday’s hot.

Today is Wednesday. That gleam was

supposed to be my yellow.
Without it, what I see slips back into a black

velvet landscape they’ve re-placed inside
a cheap aluminum frame.

What I see in it is

what I saw on it, when the black was more
sheet-metal gray, and it was and is

a wounded robot hand-painted white
to wander

across the wastes where my human mind

once played with colors.
It’s collecting glints off smooth-faced

granite with its sensitive sensors for eyes.
They’ll help fill its hollow,

a hollow suddenly sounding less metal.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011

Dona Nobis Pacem

"Dona Nobis Pacem" is Latin for "Grant Us Peace" and it's a sentiment being echoed by bloggers from around the world today as part of the 2011 Blog Blast for Peace. You don't need a blog to participate, just a Facebook account. If you'd like to find out more, please click here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Stabbed through with her smile, I thrive

The eight’s double curve’s shaking.
It grows to nine,
and reading, I read a word
at the same time
she’s speaking it to me. I’ve
looked to the sky
and wondered, can a pure blue
flutter? Can it dive?
Can it drive its peeks of white
deep into me?
It can, and does, and it is
no less, her smile.

Monday, October 31, 2011

For Poe, On Halloween

The floor boards beat
dull beats,
but they won’t

beat without me
lying
down, not on

them, on the bed,
their beats
beating up

through springs, in through
the walls
beating. Beat,

I’m not afraid.
My heart
beats louder.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sop-o-rific

The sop of it is terrific.

Look at it soak
up
all that white.

I could tear it, another
piece of this
bread, more white bread
to take up
more white milk.

I could dip it –
this piece, this time
not in milk, but tea
or better yet,
tea and milk –
to slowly watch
the white
darken.

Or gravy,
I’ve never made gravy,
with or without
its little lumps, but I’d like to
dump its brown out
over
a large white plate, and sop.

A milksop is a person
easily frightened.

I don’t frighten
easily.

Sometimes I do
need to bribe myself
to sleep, and stop
these soakings,
when I listen
to the stillness and think
about
the ways I can soak up your voice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I sometimes dream in the third person

He did
and she would frolic
along a wooded mountain pass,
among its prickly firs
and down a long basalt road
passing between their two countries
placed incontinently
an ocean apart,
their two unwritten tongues
writing overly-dramatic parts
she doesn’t
and he wouldn’t speak.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Appositely, not in opposition, we're defined

I am
appropriate[ly]... fit.

I was
positioned (at rest)
[to] respect... another.

I can
be it, side-to-side,
front-to-front,
[and] back-to-back...

You’ll see, me
three-dimensionally… related
[to you.]

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bold, her dash

Bold, her dash dashing
not coldly from moldy facts
…......................... to unfolding asks

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Give praise

There’s a peculiar geometry to where
my days take me; in circles
inscribed in squares, where
I’ll greet the same faces, faces
oval and round, and then some
with more angular features.
Sometimes
they’ll scatter along stray lines,
and sometimes
they’ll challenge me
to remember where
I met them.
Sometimes they don’t, change
or challenge me,
because sometimes
they can’t move
and there is no face to remember.
I met an elm of silver.
It was robed in the indigo
night. Robbed of a limb, I made it
a face there,
with a ring for its smile
and a knot for its eye,
but I couldn’t move it.
I couldn’t turn it,
not its not-eye,
or its not-mouth
up to the marshmallow
light, no matter how hard
I tried. Yet,
the light still fell there,
and it made the elm’s not-mouth
sing, “Give praise,
dear boy, not for what you’ve made,
but for the light
and what it makes,
when it falls
in the fullness of our circles.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We, the unjust stewards

Before our children, we came,
this world of generations
no wiser, and to them,
to the children of light,
we said:

“Until you, there was the dark
we made. True,
what we’ve made,
we made for ourselves. Even you.
We made an end
of Man, an end of we men
with the means to make
a righteous mess, and
if we failed, we failed only us,
not you.

“We made deceptions. If we could
have deceived you,
one more generation,
we could have been, we men,
forever, lasting
in our habits, in ours,
nations.

“We were faithful, most
faithful to this, or at least
our faiths filled it,
if too much. What’s just
in the least, how can it be
unjustly too much? If we were,
if we’ve been
faithfully unrighteous,
for Man, or we men and we admit it,
will it comfort you? Will it win
your trust?

“There are true riches,
we have not been
faithful to. To who
should we have
given them? To you?
What do you own? No,
servants serve. We were
masters of earth. Better
to be one and hated,
than as the other
be loved.

"Behold
us, that one, despised
but no other. We cannot
serve but god. God is Man, and
we men..."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Go back

This square of light isn’t
an open door. It’s tricks played
by playful shadows.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In the dreams, I dreamed

In the dreams, I dreamed, two fish grew legs –
these two fish he’d caught. Well, he’d caught one
and the one caught the other,
before he’d caught them together, two in one
flopping from his fishing line. Whose line?
I didn’t know him, but he handed me them –
these two fish he’d caught as one, and I pulled the one
out from the mouth of the other. I knew
it was too big to be just one. What kind of fish?
I can’t say. They were two ordinary fish, of the kind
you’d ordinarily see hanging from a fishing line.
They were a silvery white, and their scales
caught the blue of the early morning light
when you turned them. Then I held them
and I didn’t know what to do with them. I thought
I’d release them, but he’d brought them
from a long way off, and no water was nearby.
There was no water here, except for two puddles.
Two puddles formed where two tires gouged
the ground. The water was a chocolate milk brown,
and it shimmered. I put the two fish in this water
and they squirmed to soak it in. Happy,
I thought, or as happy as fish can be
out of proper water. Then around the corner –
the red brick corner of the house that’s here, for it was
here at my childhood home he’d brought them to me –
I saw more puddles, bigger puddles. The fish
and I skipped from one to the other, each of the fish
also getting bigger, until we reached the horizon’s
line. That’s when the two fish grew legs
and walked over the edge, into the ravine
and out of the dreams, I dreamed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

In, securely

“What’s wrong with you,
can’t you
close the gate behind?”
she, now just a muffled voice from behind
mesh wire and tightly shut
glass, loudly snaps at his back. He didn’t turn
back. He kept going, knowing a few well-turned
ounces of black metal wouldn’t keep
this world, more worthwhile than her keeping,
out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unimpressive digitation

Just when I think
the magic's gone out
of my magical thinking

I over-hear the flutter of
her voice drop

...no, no, it hit her hard,
my mother, the divorce...

And I think
I’ve pulled it out
of an empty black

Monday, October 10, 2011

How I'd talk to Tarkovsky

Tarkovsky talked
of sculpting time,
of chiseling off the non-essential bits
of it, to make a film.

Andrei talked
of the primacy
of a fixed past in our minds,
of it being more real for us than our slippery presents
of shifting moments.

Science has talked
of a very different present, a present made up
of our experiences
of more recent pasts, pasts also fixed in time.

The green I’ve talked about, the green
of your eyes reaches mine, my eyes
of a puddled brown, within the smallest pieces
of a second, those pieces
of a past so touchably real because it’s still present.

I’ve talked to you
of the first time I touched your palm, how the spark
of electricity from it still races through me, but the shock
of it diminished when we parted.

If he were still alive, I’d talk to Tarkovsky
of making films, to Andrei about films
of your green eyes,
of my thumb probing your palm,
of a broken past, so I could fix it like the present
of those moments when I can see your eyes.

Friday, October 07, 2011

She occupies the sky, and we will the earth

Gibbous moon
give us some news.

Our moment’s
waxing. A few

are waning
blue. We watch you

roll your eye.
We’ll take the clue.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Yeah

The difference
between “yea” and “yeah”

is more than a put-upon “h”
It’s more than
those sounds like “ate” and “at”
It’s the difference

between the beat-up
old blue baseball hat I hate
to wear, and the glistening
varnish on a bat that baits
my child within

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Three times

Three times, truly
the cock didn’t crow
… … but the crow did caw
its last into next night.

I won’t deny it to you.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

When the world would change, He would whisper

If you let Him,
He’ll whisper His
old world anew

You thought
you knew

He knows
and He’ll tell you

He wants it, to show you
the way
His world can’t work
the way it’s not,
meaning to comfort you

He has
His ungentle voices,
yes, yet
they wouldn’t suit what
He wants for you

They wouldn’t soothe you

Not now,
and He’ll use it,
His other voice,
the voice He slips
slow and deeper
inside of you

His gentler voice,
it slides inside,
uncoils, and it pushes
out the chills shaking you,
these doubts threatening to
shake His world too

You know
you thought,
but His voice is a thought
it thinks for you

He’ll remind you

This is His world
and He’s built it for you

Monday, October 03, 2011

Flipping probability on its head

I’d say heads
or tails, but and is
always a possibility
when universes multiply
my imagination

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The story is

The story you tell me

doesn’t arc. It doesn’t
follow. It doesn’t

rise or fall within one sun’s

cycle. It has no
particular place. It skips

to its own peculiar
rhythms. It takes me

to its many places with no
name, or those names
you’ve given them, the secret
names meant for me and no

other. It’s taken me
so many times, and when
it walks me through them,
I can can see their faces,
through your eyes. The faces

both kind and hard on you,
once smooth or lined, but
always there, I can see

through your eyes. Their pale
green glass casts my shadowy
gaze back to a past, I can’t know
except through you. It’s enough

for me, while I have you
to see it through.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Power needs our concessions

“Power concedes nothing...“

a nothing we’ve taken when we give
it the power to demand
more from us. But what if
we refused it? What if

not a few of us, but all of us,
refused its demands, unmoved
by its roar,
or its thunder, not afraid

of its ocean or its rain?

No water, no matter
how violent,
can command the sand. It can
only displace a tiny fraction.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

If you want new, stop talking old

Let’s pretend...

Was gets fuzzy until its bleached
bounty doesn’t give much
that matters;

Must can’t make a fuss about it,
its bluster’s dwindling
to short breaths;

Had has fled the trap: colorless
maps wrapping its bad
intentions;

We shakes its slate, lines erase, but
the dots await clean
connections;

The end.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Unrest for the wearied, take two

A body at rest, remains
at rest. Don’t come here to rest,
but come. Come though they’ll tell you,
You can’t stay here. They’ll tell you,
Public walks are only public when
you're walking past them
. Don’t come
here just to walk, or rest, though you’ll want to
walk and rest. You’ll want to lay your head
to rest on the hard concrete, and look up
at the cold gray sky, the sky getting
this concrete wet. And you’ll wonder
how soon before they’ll tell you,
The air’s not yours. The water that falls from it
isn’t yours either. The oak trees and prairie grass,
we took for these towers, were long ago bought
and paid for.
They won’t like you to think
such thoughts, and they’ll ask you to go
home without them, if you have a home.
Why would you want to be
so uncomfortable? We can’t protect you here.

Comfort is all they can offer. Comfort
and security, at least for a little while longer,
as long as you don’t get restless.
When the rest goes, a body will move,
not on, but in unexpected directions.
This body might even ask herself
more unsettling questions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are there words? (Trying to get my attention)

They’re not sending me messages, are they?

By they, I mean these words.

I’ve told myself,
told myself more than once, in fact,
It’s just coincidence.

But the whole time, I’m thinking to myself,
If I’m telling myself this,
more than once,
once not being enough to convince,
I must not be convinced.


What should I call it,
the chance meetings I have with words?

They’re not everyday words.

They’re not even rainy day words
I’d save and savor to use later,
when the right occasion drops round and wet,
but words I never use,
not once,
and surely not twice in such a short time.

Take simony.

I couldn’t define simony,
but there it was,
and there again for me to find.

What is it?

I looked it up,
it’s, An act of buying and selling
ecclesiastical offices and pardons
.

Don’t bother using it in a sentence,
no one today could make sense of you or it.

Yet there it was, on the bulletin board
outside a cutout church, inside Canto XIX
and a puppet’s Inferno.

My mind’s tongue rolled it around, si-mon-y,
and it sounded as antique and mysterious
as the original poet’s Italian.

O Simon mago, o miseri sequaci
che le cose di Dio, che di bontate
deon essere spose, e voi rapace
per oro e per argento avolterate
or convien che per voi suoni la tromba,
pero’ che ne la terza bogia state.


It was too ancient to hold onto,
and I let it go wherever the words go
when we don’t want to keep them.

Yet there it was again, the morning after Dante
had wandered off into his deeper circles.

I don’t play eeny-meeny-miny-moe,
not one-potato or two, but I will let my finger roam
across the spines of my three shelves of paperbacks,
and like a divining rod, it picks what it’s drawn to.

It stopped on Dubliners,
and when I opened it, I saw
simony there again on the first page of The Sisters:

Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in Euclid and the word simony in the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some maleficent and sinful being.

Seeing simony again, I didn’t feel the same,
but the feeling wasn’t dissimilar
to seeing the name of the one you love,
the way that name seems to show up everywhere
you look, though it’s not seeing so much as noticing,
at a time when the one you love’s name
is the only word worth noticing.

And no matter how commonly the name is found,
bound up with her or him, it sounds like
the name of some magnificent and sinless being,
a lot like Dante’s Beatrice,
come to think of it.

A few letters can also take dominion over a page,
when the word or name has a newness,
lacking the history and the intimacy of the familiar,
or the loved.

The first time Joyce’s narrator speaks,
I don’t know,
whether the child is a boy or a girl,
what particular age this child is,
how tall or short,
thin or fat, so the voice floats there
a blank to be filled in as I get more words.

The meaning of my meeting
floats with it,
but more words may not come,
and the old words are all I have to explain it,
so I tell myself again,
It must be coincidence.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Modern religion

When our leaders preach
death, why is it we
so easily say amen?

Friday, September 23, 2011

An urban autumn's song

There are no harvests
here. There are no boundless fields.
There are lonely plots
cornered by sidewalk and street,
fanned by the limbs and leaves, green
and not yet feeling
the fall. When they drop, they’ll drift
and pile, and mark the passers
by, too hurried to notice
a fall came without yielding.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lessons from foreign gods: Melia

Melia sits, sister
priestess in her
wooden box.

Confess,
her branches rasp,
and with a scratch
she bleeds me ashen,
taking my sins.

Forgiveness
comes as the honey
she drips back to me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The wastes of green

I'd like to tell you its name, the name of the sickly green that glowed through its windows, but I can't.

I was in the back of the house, a house I'd known since childhood. The house looked over a a ravine that would run with fresh rainfall, when there was rain, when I was a child who ran through it.

Now it was dry, and the sloping ground above it was covered with a waste of wood. It was this waste of wood that gave off the sickly green light I saw. It wasn't the green of living things. There were no leaves. There weren't even trunks to hold the branches that would have held such leaves. There were only piles of broken grey wood.

It might have been driftwood, these piles of cracked and stunted branches, had there been any water to drift them. There wasn't any water. They were covered with a green slime, a slime that spoke of the absence of life, or a life most alien to the one that had grown up around me.

No smell should have reached me through the glass of doors and windows pulled tight, but I could sense its smell. The green slime covering the piles of wood smelled of a special kind of wasting, a wasting with a name I didn't have, and I still can’t give to you.

The ravens came to give it to me, that name. They swarmed to the waste, swooping down from a pewter sky. They hopped up the hill through the piles of sickly grey wood covered with green slime, until they reached the sliding glass door where I looked out.

The glass was pulled shut, as was the curtain, but the curtain was made of a see-through, plastic fiber, and I could see their ghostly shapes through it as they came slowly up the hill.

Suddenly they took to the air again, and one raven, the largest, twice as big as I what I thought a raven could be, hovered just outside the pane of glass. I could see its shadowy form there, and when it turned its head I could see the outline of its parted beak. Its great parted beak floated there like another pair of wings, and its tongue vibrated within as it sounded the name it came to tell me.

I couldn’t hear the name through the glass. I couldn’t hear any sound through that thick, shut glass door. I could only see the shadowy form of its enormous beak parted to give me a name I might not even know how to pronounce.

I put my hands against the curtain to try to sense the shape of the name's sounding from its vibrations. The raven humored me and hovered there a little longer. It hovered and loudly hummed this name while I tried with both hands to touch it through the pane of glass. The name was too big for my two hands that tried in vain to grasp it.

All I could feel was the curtain and its plastic covered in web, the silky, sticky cobwebs of too many years gone by, the weightless grabbing of our neglect. Then I heard my grandmother’s voice, the voice of my grandmother Rose, dead now for twenty years. It came from behind me, not angry so much as annoyed, in that nasal way she had of nagging.

My dead grandmother’s voice came annoyed, not angry, and it told me to get away from the glass. I had to obey her, it was her house. As I stepped back, the raven lifted away from me and away from the sickly green light, and it took the name with it.

That’s why I can't tell you the name of the wasting green covering the wood behind my dead grandmother's house.

I for you

How long can you pay for one
mistake, and by you, I mean
“I and you”
or “You and I.”

The uninterested books I read
looked at me and said for you
to compound it out
over a lifetime,
if I had the will
and capital.

I long mistook that one
you for an I.

I, for you, paid,
to cap it all.

It must have been my turn
to mistake it,
so I left you
to the others.

Other chances,
other places,
other times, too,
I left to you.

You’re not infinite, I know,
I’m just infinitely inclined
for another go
at you and I,
our blanks checked,
our books balanced,
and our accounts divested from false
superpositions of I and you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'll move with you

A leaf trembles, not
for fright or cold, but because
its light can’t stay still

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lessons from foreign gods: Pooka

What took us –
a black horse,
overgrown rabbit,
goat or dog –
is a part of its hocus.

The pooka’s
all of these.

He’ll lead us
astray and afield,
back home and alone
to our own
many selves,
given we give him
his, our harvest’s share.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

When the Kimchi rings false

“Him!” she cried, her
Kimchi finished, and her
sour finger pointed at the dead and
dour ringer ringing a false
memory of a past between
them, for he was just the cook.

Writing our way home

The Writing Our Way Home blog, which interviews creative types, did me and nooshin azadi the honor of posting our answers to their questions. You can check it out here. Thank you, Fiona.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bushes bow

When I walk so small
on this city’s whitened walks,
down among its tall
gray-black caverns, all
around me, many colored
people, people of many
moods and many tongues,
the people with their buzzing
and singing voices,
yes this beautiful
wide tide of people
who push me forward,
as beautiful as they are,
tend to blend in until lost
to me. They get pushed
head first to concrete, the way
thirsty bushes bow
to splendors of a greater
wood, or the pebbles
lower their gobbled faces
before a reigning cliff, or
the way one marbled pigeon
trembles off coo-less
to a dot against a thunderhead’s
tumbling vastness. And I don’t
mean to belittle
the people, not one of those
beautiful people I walk
among, but my god,
can’t you see how this thirsty
bush looks up in awe
at those magnificent trees.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Candlemas

I was once
(and this once wouldn’t
be twice, at least
not in the nice repast
where once resides)
notionally devoted.

I was inclined
to get inside the not
sideways but some-side
seeking (which side
it was, wasn’t
apparent from the outside)
prayers sighed out by
robed supplicants
going through
the notions
proscribed to them by
their owning scribe.

They also recited
(in the time between
those sighs, and the once-
a-day tithes-
paying their souls
owed) their devotionals
to a once-
great power
inflamed by its votive’s
waxy decline.

And I didn’t die
(not notionally,
not yet) in that devotion’s
snuffing, but I was
reborn when I didn’t
stay there to try, to make
sense of the heat
or where it goes
when it lifts
away from white wool
dyed black by
an intimacy with gray
curls borne off at
a wick’s dying.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stormy

To weather
such weather
is to untether
the whether
we’re there. They're.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Raven’s love; the Crow's likes

Many people use
'Love' and 'Like' interchangeably.
Technically
Loves belong to Like.
They can be called Likes -
but not all Likes are Loves.

First,
most noticeably,
Loves are larger than Likes.

If you're familiar with Likes,
you'd probably recognize
Love's call as being different.
Love's call is lower,
People ask, "Was it a really big Like?"
The answer
invariably chances
that it wasn't a Like at all.
You want to hear the difference
for yourself.

Love
isn't very easy to tell if
you often look at Like.

Likes
tend to be more rounded.
Loves are
pointed. This is most noticeable
when Likes lie nice.
Loves lie a little more jaggedly, and
look ragged.

Love and Like can often be
found living side by side,
but Loves prefer wilder
Likes. The bigger Loves
will tend to live more
and will venture farther.

There are more differences
but these should help you
whether you're looking at Love
or a very large Like.


This poem is an erasure with a twist, taken from this text.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My daily planner

Sunday:
Sandy, my day goes by

Monday:
Moonlit buildings can fly
like white space ships

Tuesday:
Today, my countdown starts
at nine

Wednesday:
When eleven and ten went,
they went
hand in hand back to when

Thursday:
There's how
and how
I hate the way they ran

Friday:
From a child's play I came
dancing

Saturday:
Sadly,
my child’s kingdom
doesn't come

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sartre never swatted at flies

Fly,
fruit fly.
Fly, the fruit’s
gone. The fruit’s done,
and your life’s begun
to be done too soon
too, but not too soon
not to enjoy
without or
with fruit,
fly.


Dedicated to all the fruit flies who've come and gone, and one poor squished frog who can now chase them in the hereafter.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Hand it to me

You’ll have to hand it
to me, “it” being
your hand, both
firm and willing,
creased but not yet
spotted, given not for me
or you wanting
a wanting hand up,
and given not too willfully
to hand me or you down,
but as well-wishers
well-met put hands across,
if there are such hands
still well for the meeting,
because both of us,
well, all of us,
and I mean an us
shaking hands with an all
in the broadest of broadest
senses, will have cause
for such sensitive hands,
such hands being
most sensitively our hands
handed together,
banded to span
the comings and goings,
all those senseless gaps,
those gaps not yet yawning,
but they’re growing
entirely too big,
shaking us, our being,
with an entirety
entirely in our own hands
both firm and willing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Lessons from foreign gods: Atë

Atë ate
eight lives
lives she hated
living
and living
hateful lives
ate at her
until her
lithe feet
lithely footed
eight fated heads
heads having at it
with each other
and with
a havoc
the Litae
not so lithe
couldn’t stop
nor Atë and her
appetite for
bloodletting them
their lives.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Fall's falling

Fall’s falling. Falls fallen.
Fall there.
Beat the beetle
down, scurrying in damp
leaf-litter. Scurry there.
Spared, out dive the sparrow,
biting crisp air.
Dive there.
Worry not worms
wiggling through worn
earth’s cool.
Step there, lightly.
For fall’s falling,
fall’s fallen, here.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Perspective

It’s ten thousand
feet. I can see
the cling of her
breath on her skin.
And through her breath,
her skin, covered
with blemishes,
blotches. Its raised
scars, its scabs, and
open gashes. They
don’t bleed. They weep
most perfect blues.
And all of it
is imperfect.
And all of her
is perfect too.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Seasoned

Now that seven is nine
mine is to remember
September and the heat’s
fleeting grasp relaxing

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oranges and apples

I also compared
orange to apple. What’s good
for one’s the other’s
for good. Orange, he didn’t mind.
I left him a spiraled rind.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Apples and oranges

I dared to compare
apple to orange. Apple
red-faced objected.
I reduced his complaining
to a few seeds and a core.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When the stories I tell can change me, I tell them over again

There are three kinds of memory I’d provocatively tell myself if I knew which self to provoke and the provocative part isn’t what they are so much as who they make me There are the personal memories of course like that one of an early crawl with small fingers tugging at shaggy browns as they make for the Siamese who lies purring grays a world away Or another hand much bigger but less sure The temptation this time is maybe hers sitting close but distant and yet it’s more likely mine and where my hand wants to lie and how it wants me to keep it there forever I have to tell it its forever is longer than mine These memories are an always too slippery to hold and I've always let them go where they will There are also cultural memories the kind with lives and lessons they’ve unkindly kept in books but their lessons don’t live within the bindings clapped down with dust to lessen them They escape with each crack and they tiptoe their stories inside me Their stories that root and rise an idyllic garden leafing lush greens with one forbidden tree I’ve bitten its fruit and it's opened my eyes I’ve re-opened them often and what I see changes and I see in these changes there’s a third kind It’s kept deeper Deeper still Too deep to read or know well It’s written within each cell and it tells the same tales with a different head This head much hairier peeks between dense branches at reds suddenly grown sharper and it peeks for me A snake that can’t be so easily hid.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dreams are my mountain top

Are dreams thoughts or
feelings? They're both? In them, my feelings
and thoughts take shape and
color. Is white a color?
They are white and they
are rectangular. They can be blocky, but they are
what I feel and yet what
I feel with a more delicate feeling. Or what I
think. I think
squares too, and blue. Their feeling squares
with a certain circular logic, and with
life. Can a shape have a life?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yo-yo

I gave the world my string. I got
the string from a rainbow. I’m here
sitting at the end of that string
and figuring, what’s this world, what’s
this life for, if not love?

I gave it the song I sing. Got
the song from the rain. It makes me
go. Whenever I move, it’s moved
its fingers. There’s no luck to see.
It’s not me, but it’s love.

Life’s wonderful things come.
I’ll go as long as the world holds
my string. Silly-sober, I’ll be
so, yo-yoing better
than if it ever let me go.


This is very loosely based on the song "I've got the world on a string" by Harold Arlen (music) and Ted Koehler (lyrics).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rogers Park street scene

There's no present like the moment the used-up and tossed aside not quite dried out strawberry shaped juice container looking down on its luck like the Virgin Mary’s faded but still sacred heart whispers up not the least bit bitter or glum from its clump of weeds to the crow who's perched on a soon to be glowing streetlight’s sturdy arm and who's quickly losing interest in both never more and tomorrow morning’s preyed upon glories

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Poor Richard

Dreams make frights for babbling souls. Fret it not,
for words are for cowards. Conscience, ill-used,
devises hurts, to keep us long in awe
of our conscienceless laws, armies. Be strong,
the pell-mell’s joined to us. Graveward let’s march.
Heaven and hell go hand-in-hand, then not.


Continuing on with my insults to the Bard, this time a history gets mistreated:
Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls;
For conscience is a word that cowards use,
Devis’d at first to keep the strong in awe:
Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law.
March on, join bravely let us to ‘t pell-mell;
If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.
[Richard III: V.iii.330-5]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love, cross those stars

Confusion’s cure lives. Peace, no. Not shame. For
Confusion’s in this Heaven. For yourself,
all is made fair now. Heaven had. Its parting
made, we are all. And the better for it.
Death could not keep you from your part. In her,
him, the eternal keeps, but Heaven’s life parts.


You don't have to cross the stars to find love, but you do have to find the little bit of the stars' love that sits in you. Here are the Bard's lines (spoken by the Friar) that inspired my blasphemies above:
Peace, ho! for shame! Confusion’s cure lives not
In these confusions. Heaven and yourself
Had part in this fair maid; now Heav’n hath all,
And all the better is it for the maid.
Your part in her you could not keep from death,
But Heav’n keeps his part in eternal life.
[Romeo & Juliet: IV.iv.101-105]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In praise of the brittle star

This brittle star shines
a sleepy
bright aquamarine
and creepy
it creeps in deeper blues.
It’s much more and yet less
fragile than you
or I are blessed
to think it. Spun
with spindly arms,
it spins off tales when
they’re tried or untrue. Unharmed,
its trails aren’t lost but
slowly put
aside until
it can grow them back. It will.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moor or less

Love forbade me “if,” that friend I had. And her
story. Teach me “should” and I’ll tell him how to
speak it. Would I, her? This heat’s woozy upon
me. The danger’s passed. For the love I had,
and she hers, there’s the pity. Do I love?
I used to. Missed witchcraft is all I have.


Oh, Othello. You couldn't trust your heart, but you could Iago's words, and now where are you? The Bard knows...
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov’d her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this heat I spake.
She lov’d me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I lov’d her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have us’d.
[Othello: I.iii.179-84]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Teapot

… Sometimes-voices land
flat. Long sheepish, they had waked after I. Then,
pills made me sleep again. Again, I’m dreaming.
The clouds are thoughts. Rich, they would open to me,
show ready drops. Don’t wake me! Upon them I
dream, and won’t cry again.


Back to the Bard, this time revisiting Caliban's lines from The Tempest.
… and sometimes voices,
That, if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that, when I wak'd,
I cried to dream again.
[The Tempest: III.ii.135-40]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Found in translation, a poetic life cycle

1. Egg

[This is my hatching
thought, which you cannot
see.]

2. Larva

The moon shines,
a pretty pill.
It couldn’t fill me with more.
It couldn’t
spill its light more
brightly or cover me more
tenderly. My chalky
smile smiles back at her more
sweetly for the pain-killing.
It’s magic.

3. Pupa

La lune brille,
une pilule assez.
Il ne pouvait pas me remplir de plus.
Il ne pouvait pas
répandre sa lumière plus
vives ou me couvrir plus
tendrement. Mon calcaires
sourire sourires de retour à son plus
doucement pour la douleur-massacre.
C'est magique.

4. Imago

The moon shines,
a pretty pill.
He could not fill me with more.
He could not
spread its light over-
bright, or cover me more
tenderly. My limestone
smile smiles back at its
gently. To the pain-killing,
it's magical.


The French translation with all of its beautiful flaws, is provided by Google's Translator app, as is the re-translation into English. I've only changed the punctuation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This and that

It’s not that,
it’s that this
“this or that”
we try
could be
“this and that,”
and it’s that
you and me,
might find
in that and
an end
to or, and
a better we.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Entomophagy

An ent to me
isn’t Tolkien’s walking tree.

It’s the lead-in to studying
insects (the ancient
Greek, entomon).

Have I told you,
what wonderful creatures
ants are?

They are.

They herd
aphids for honeyed dew;

they tend
their devil’s gardens,

and when
a fight comes (which it will)
they soldier on
better
than Achilles’ Myrmidons,
better
than Treebeard
after his Entmoot.

Remind me to tell you
about the clever disguises
worn by walking sticks
and the peculiar crunch
they make
when caught.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life comes after life

There is no
hell o’ bellowed heat
and no
heaven for leavened souls
but I know
there are bells now
and yes, those bells do ring
throughout hillocks and hollows
hallowed by a name,
your name, I speak
when they pause to allow me
one brief hello.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guest post: "hangry" by nooshin azadi

nooshin azadi has graciously given me the following poem to post as a follow-up to my last piece Unrest for the wearied.

hangry
by nooshin azadi

.
something's lost
in me
in you
in them
in us
i don't know what it is
do you?

something's stolen
from me
from you
from them
from us
i don't know what it is
do you?

something's missing
something's gone
something's taken

an empty space
an empty feeling
an empty force
is eating our soul
i don't know what it is
do you?

i feel empty
i feel hungry
something's lost
in me
something's missing
in me
something's taken
from me
i want it back
i want it back
i want it back
do you hear me?
do
you
hear
me?
i'm hungry
you know how it feels
don't you?
.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unrest for the wearied

What the to-do is is brewing a yeasty undoing of our dearest darlings’ daring finery finely done and they’re mostly up there in their makeup where you can’t see them and they’re all made up for themselves alone and you’re very plainly alone sitting in the in-between sitting in your plain and hard-backed chair and you’re slack-jawed as you view the crowds through your thick and illuminated glass wall a glass soon to be shattered but there’s no shattering the other glass the glass of this ceiling that's pressing down this ceiling never more classy than it is now with glass that may get thicker yet if it’s not the thickest in fact and that’s got you feeling jittery at what little is left and what's left has almost been undone it’s being bitterly undone by hosts of  lads and lasses with an anger like a hunger they're angry at the made-up most who are at most a few of the most well-off and these most haven’t been keen on hosting any airings of grievances because the cutting’s been done and it was needed that undoing no matter how cutting it feels and it’s all for the best even if it’s not in the least for the the best of these hosts of least who are the least of your sister-brothers, father-mothers and others farther along the family tree with its branches now withering everywhere but at the very tips and those leafy tips don’t reach down to those who may not bleed with you in a family sense but in every other sense they are your family most deeply rooted in you and they’re deeply incensed yes they’re incensed deeply enough to shed their blood your blood it's our blood.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wee one

Wee one strapped to her
small she hears gurgles ... lessons
more precious than books’

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trifles

A small girl’s white sock
Middle of the sidewalk. ... She had
No great need for it

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Danish

Unborn is to discover, not countries
or travelling puzzles, but our return.
Will dares us. No ills will take us. Rather,
as those naughts we’ll fly — other, knowing all.
Thus consciousness, a coward, is unmade.


Moving on, this time to the Prince of Denmark and his brooding:
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, — puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
[Hamlet: III.i.89-90]

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Playing hop-Scot

Tomorrow isn't tomorrow. Tomorrow isn't.
It sweeps this pretty place. A day, today,
to last, must not. Syllables record time.
Our yesterdays fall when the light's a mute.
The way's dusty but death's brief, its candle out.


More fun with the Bard's words, this time it's the Scottish Play:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
[MacBeth: V.v.20-25]

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Leary

How, how, how, how, o stone, can men know when
one is dead? Eyes? One lived when I used them.
I have a tongue; it’s dead. Your cracks go on
for ever. She vaulted them. She’s gone. Heaven
and earth should lend me a look; I am glass.


This is me noodling with some lines from Shakespeare's Lear. Here's the original text I'm mutilating:
Howl, howl, howl, howl! O! you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
That heaven's vaults should crack. — She's gone for ever! —
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass
[King Lear: V.iii.303-7]

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Hey meek, your inheritance is waiting (and the anonymity will suit you)

What can you write when a bloodless rock and its bloodied people writhe pained by the squeeze of men like snakes no less than snakes less than worms not fit to be early or late-bird plucked from the rain-soaked ground but it’s not the ground soaked or parched they sit upon it’s an airy perch from which they spy us and it’s not that they’re not seeing the squirms and it’s not that they’re not making out the wriggles and it is that they’re giggling at the blurriness of the faces from so high and it’s then you write that it’s time and it’s then that you write of those times to come when we’ll take this anonymity to our advantage.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A bad economy of words

I can’t say why
you stare, I can
say what you dare
not. In this man-

made mess-making
of the shammy
and shimmering,
we’ve got little
to hold onto.

Let’s hold onto
the little we
hold closest and
let go the rest.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Oh, some prose to a woodlouse

The woodlouse, a bug come to you as pill, potato and roly-poly all rolled into one, wouldn’t want you to suss him out, all rolled up in his plated gray ball where he’s more susceptible than you perceptibly might think, and he’s depending on that, plus your general lack of enthusiasm for creepy crawly critters, to avoid the footfall’s crush.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Politics today

Do you
sir, agree
sir, with the clap
trap yapped by your
ill esteemed
colleague
on the right?

No, sir
you see, sir
I’m to his left.
I agree
completely.

Friday, July 29, 2011

When I found myself in times of trouble Mother Mary leaped from me (or the importance of finding new gods)

Mister and Ms. Computer
Scientists, grant me this.

Program me, virtually,
a plump-sweet, pretty world.

Don’t play with tricky words,
but the truer noughts and ones

you’re accustomed to,
to two-tone its bitsy pi

of peach and sugar-plum sky,
its rump of gingerbread

beach buttered up against
a rum soaked sea. Let it be.

Oh, let it be, holy geeks,
there my brain, over-stuffed with

thick-milk worries for this world
soured by off-the-shelf warming

and war, gets dumped. Crumpled
skin and bone can be left

behind. Where? Wherever
I won’t really care.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A few default responses

If they can’t raise the roof on this
high-priced rental,
it’s ain’t all
bad, brother.

You see, sister,
we can stop

Paying remote control soldiers to pretend
lives in Yemen,
Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
are worth less than video game victims

Paying Somali proxies to torture
questionable answers
out of top secret prisoners

Paying our own guards to harass
and embarrass
a man whose only crime was
showing us
the lies they still want us
to glassy-eyed believe.



It's not one of my most artistic efforts, but it's something I wanted to get off my chest.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

miscommunication

voices come, some
...................... calm, some cool,
.......................................... some eagerly
collected, but they know,
...................... they’ll go before
.......................................... they can or can't
extinguish the leaves

I know them all,
...................... all their calm, all
.......................................... their cool, all
yes, the eager, but
...................... I can and I can’t
.......................................... distinguish the small
silences they’ll leave me

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Light lessons

The sill still tries to learn me

Shadow isn’t absence

It’s the light
falling somewhere else

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's all just was

When
all this is
always just was–
whether
the once-white of a creamy walk
grayed by rain
or the chocolaty puddle
crept too-wide there to skip
with the stone-cold squawks
the starling tossed to me–
why
would I stop
and trip into will be?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

No bother

Bah, mother, they’re
no bother there
both in the air
and the water,
fonder of where
father brought their
farther off stares

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Transparency

These cicada suits are see-through
Their good-natured ribbing
is pitching, sound-effects
sci-fied to sell
a quicksilver summer
on the value of settling down

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Xi-sub-b

Get up, quark!
It’s not so strange, quark,
for me to want you
to lift your heavy bottom, quark,
and carry on
the way young baryons do.

[Physicists Confirm Existence of New Particle]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Parthenogenesis

The good book and many less good read mankind was made in god’s own image and though the atheists think it’s the imaginary reverse what if it’s that the universe and all its matter what if it’s that all those things before we mattered in our smattering of light what if it’s that all that was and is was plucked round and red into being by one unknowably knowing consciousness tempted by the empty black to fill it with the white noise of chattering possibility and what if it set those first simple blocky shapes it plucked those blobby forms it picked to form themselves into ever more complicated shifts inventing themselves flappy fins and gills then wobbly legs and lungs a caring heart and brain again and again toward a more subtle somewhen else when someone else more knowing stands up and falls down fruited by the tree of life to see we have our farther’s sensitive eyes and can look past walking lifetimes to find the now knowable blueprint tucked in a twisty pocket of ribs and it’s also here we’ll find ourselves red-faced according to the plan laid out for those first formless shapes somewhere else as someones else not trapped but free inside a magical black box filled by the emptiness come back and a poisonous white flask of one possibility silently collapsing into an informing consciousness.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How to unlearn the damage of decades

1. Stop
reading what you’ve read;
now read it all again,
but in reverse.
2. Go
outside, look instead;
there are lessons written
in the bark’s terse
lines. [End]

Friday, July 15, 2011

As god goes ...

as god goes or our notion of god goes with the young pink chubby and rash motion of its toddler's reach we won't go with god but we and god will come out together by vanishing in that very shiny second he’ll come she’ll come we’ll come shambling out from the shadows showing not himself or herself myself or yourself no self at all but all of us linked arm in arm jowl to jowl wink for wink with the cheery release of an unstuck swirl of a magnificent eye unshut where we'll be and we’ll see our past falls away our future is forgotten and matter was is will be of a mind to help us find a way back from the bitter not so long ago night spent curled up right here on a bus stop bench graffito tagged god is dead

Saturday, July 09, 2011

My cosmology prospers

such stuff are we
and all things made
dreaming on, on

our spirit and flesh resolved,
these towering clouds of droplets
melted once to fall again and again
rippling the muck

the very fabric on our backs
is based on a form, filled
by a vision

there was a bang
then light went forth
with matters to attend
and potentials to birth

death comes, it came before,
it comes, not as a rack
but a collapse

all our possible worlds
dissolve into this one
gorgeous rock, this palace,
a home to vibrating atoms

a little rounded life
both bound and free
both found and lost

it’s bounded but free, found
and lost, lost and found, on
and on, our revels a spiral, to end
and begin, to begin and end

Friday, July 08, 2011

Better bare than threadless

Prodded by my Facebook friends and in defiance of Threadless T-shirts having rejected the design as not worth the printing, I've created two new custom shirts in my Zazzle store (yes, I have a Zazzle store, even though no one bought any of the previous merchandising brain storms).

Here's the design:


Yes, it's a little crudely drawn and not ha-ha funny, but it has a certain charm in my eyes. If your eyes see the same vague quality, it's available on both light color and dark color T-shirts. Find a color and a style that makes your heart flutter.

But don't purchase them yet, though I know you're eager too. I need to order them first myself to make sure that the graphic prints at the correct resolution.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Bloom wears off

Odd. I see us hop
disappointment
to disappointed.
Our penny lope
isn’t waiting for us.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

One touch can mean the universe

There’s a whorl at its tip
and it slips, a world
in the palm of your hand.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Rendering fat unto Ceasar

it may or may not be fading the glory but the gory red white and blue meat of it was charred to a cinder while you neglected to handle the griddle and its blackening pool of fatty answers that spits and pops greasy drops wanting to fly to a wheel any wheel left that’s not attached to axles attached to chassis attached to roofs attached to sirens hurtling bodies bloodied by joyless sticks their attacking thumbs with no prints just a serial number and a pension that causes them to intentionally twitch these deaths a world away throw that world away and turn your eyes to see reach your arms to hold and probe their discarded limbs feel their loss a loss repeated to a scream you couldn’t hear what good is your akimbo pose posing as if you had questions or doubts even when the questions ran out so long ago so long in fact that the meat you’re cooking was no longer fresh when you tossed it in that pan of foul smelling fat you thought was clear but it’s flecked with bits of sour alibis and singed hairs that float and lie to you they’re licorice coated floss


At the suggestion of a friend, I tried writing a poem with "no structure." I combined this exercise with the wordle prompt over at The Sunday Whirl. What emerged is much freer and, probably because of my current state of mind, much more overtly political than what I usually write. I'm sure not everyone will appreciate it, but that comes with the territory of experimentation and speaking one's mind.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

An interdependence of days

Where’s the joy in belonging,
with them, your head will be
long at it, figuring this out,
before you’ll understand,
if you can, under
stands of pretty poplars,
enjoying the love of your life,
the embossed license they gave
you with a scent of petty lies,
and that pretend belonging
sensed but well-overlooked
for the overhanging green
clusters missing their catkins
the way your toes miss
those calfskin shoes
toppled on the flagstones beyond.

Bossily they’re quite good at putting
their airs off, you to ease
with an easy welcome,
but when their time unwell
comes, and there’s a lively green now
speaking love and life without license
to those beyond who will call on you
not to be rapt by leaf or catkin,
but a different flag, and their stones
and shoes hurled at impositions,
disfiguring heads painted on calfskin,
you’ll need to understand
where it is you belong, and stop
longing for toppled stands of pretty
poplars and petty lies
they only pretended belonged to you.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The stationary traveler, twenty

Head bred. ... These heads bred
ease. ... Inner’s outer. Outer’s
in. ... I’m all islands.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Plant this seed

She tells me to plant this seed.

It's not much of a seed,
this seed.

It's not much of anything,
with wee crags and crenels
its slip of a crescent slides through
the creases of my palm,
but she insists it’s robust.

She persists with me,
This seed can live within,
where there are no waysides,
no rocks, no thorns.

It can live despite
the greedy shadows everywhere.

It will thrive
basking in the light of a future sun.

This is not Egypt,
she says.

No wicker basket will deliver you.

The river here isn’t strong enough,
she tells me,
and above her there’s the drone
droning on,
droning her out,
but in it I still hear her,
and she lets me have her ear too.

So came she to sow
and the souring
night couldn’t discourage
her final words to me.

Not thirty, or sixty
or one hundred days,
but one day,
the plant will grow
and it will be grown
to a great height,
a height higher than you
can imagine it reaching.

Its future sun will be
your present sun,
and the old days,
even older ways,
will wither wanting
their lost light and the fluid
love taken up by these
stronger roots.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The stationary traveler, nineteen

Wring seconds out of
minutes. Out of hours. Out of
days. Suns ring us still.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The stationary traveler, eighteen

Weariness closes
eyes. See magenta-full fields
float there in black. Yield.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The stationary traveler, seventeen

There are stories told,
not told. They bring the people
cities eat to live.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Between me and a judeo-christian god

Forget the bit about being
everywhere, and seeing
everything. My mercy is
limited. I can try
to give you
my forgiveness
completely.

On the plus side, I won’t
ask sacrifices,
send down plagues,
cast you into the desert,
turn my not-all-seeing eye blind
to test you, or make you
a salty column.

Other than that, I think
we’re the same lonely guy,
and I do
love you
unconditionally
at least when I’m in
the proper frame of mind.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I do little more than repeat myself

More than twenty years gone.
What’s not, may not be,
but I won’t get there yet.

More. Then, twenty years.
Gone’s what I won’t. Maybe not.
Not yet, but get there.

Twenty years. More than
what’s not gone, I won’t get.
But there's not yet. Maybe.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Our future is looking up

We have our stories
etched in bone,
echoed by
this temple’s pulsing.

Tangled brown threads
play there and know
from their fibers,
not one word is true.

A serpent didn’t usurp.

It still has legs,
but they’re hidden where
no bitter gods can take them.

Stardust isn’t light.

It falls, not angels
prideful or worldly, as the sky
sifts a fateless effluence.

Neither snake
nor cosmic particle
will spark our clinging
gossamer’s tear.

The claws to rip it
can come back to us,
if we’ll use them.

Then we’ll twist
up the slit
and see our else,
no longer idly watching.


This week's wordle prompt at The Sunday Whirl took 13 words from Nicole Nicholson's excellent poem Homeward. These are always a challenge, but this week was a little more so for me. I tried to go against my usual instincts and write a piece that contains a bit of optimism.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The stationary traveler, sixteen

My plants and my pets
are happy. ... They don’t care why
I still care for them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A language for the end times

It’s the midsty morning,
all grammar’s run amuck
and the rapture won’t take me.

They’re lining up,
the letters and errant punctuation.

Spray-tagged against walls
they’ll torment the souls
who’ll stay here in god’s mean timing.

I keep putting apostrophe’s
where they don’t belong.

It’s an oblonging of words
and it will always be
my denial.

What’s possessed me?

I could pose esses,
caressing them down to tildes,
til disappointed and unsexed
by a symbolic life on its side,
they'd rise back up to text,
not angry but sure
their standing’s worth fighting for.

That’s nothing but a bad dream.

Line theft has left
this man fantastical
and it’s broken my container
of finger-twitching quotations.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The stationary traveler, fifteen

Straight lines. ... I painted,
unacquainted with white. ... Watch,
the walls have stained me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wolfe, pig, whale

Wolfe's "You can't go home again" came
millions of years too late, or too soon.
India's pig, her offspring whales
re-committing and committed to mother sea.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bold doesn't suit me

my story isn’t

your story
with a foreign accent.

it can’t speak. devious

it signs an inspired sleep.
between us,

strange kinship slips. it’s not

freudian,
but wishful. thinking its

enchanted thoughts, i won’t

lure you. a venus, all
torso, no alluring

sins, it won’t

feed the lotus readers
who’ve left off caring if

my story is.


Bold is not one of my favorite words, and it may require extensive psychoanalysis to uncover why. Clever fellow that I am, I worked it into the title, so all wordle words have yet again been vanquished. Brenda's moved the prompt site over to WordPress, so here's the new address where you can find the other poets' contibutions: The Sunday Whirl

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The stationary traveler, fourteen

Cobblestone, dust. ... Walls
huddle their heads, comfort. ... We
pine for far-off green.

Friday, June 10, 2011

meeting through the walls

Over the past three months, nooshin azadi and I collaborated on a series of poems that are now available in our self-published book meeting through the wall.

These 30 poems each deal with a pair of contradictions, such as light and dark, right and wrong, empty and full, joy and sorrow, etc. The "wall" of the book's title refers to the divide between these "opposites" where we tried to reach a common understanding.

Our method was to separately write a set of seven lines on one half of the pairs. Since nooshin lives in Tehran (and I'm in Chicago), we exchanged these short poems via email. Once we'd both finished our seven-lines, we alternated writing the four lines of a concluding stanza together.

It was a fascinating process, and I learned a lot from the way she approached these topics. The different sections of the poems can have different styles, and different points of view, but we tried to resolve these differences by the time we reached the conclusion.

If you'd like to order the book, it's available in paperback at Lulu.com for $7 US. And if you do, please leave a comment here letting us know what you think. There may be more collaborations to come...


An update... nooshin asked me to add this lovely poem and comment to the post:

you think you own many things
but when you share what you have
you understand owning is not having
but giving

you think you see many things
but when you share what you see
you understand seeing is not eyeing
but whying

you think you know many things
but when you share what you know
you understand knowledge is not knowing
but forgetting

(Francis... our collaboration was a journey into awareness... thanks!)

For Smita

I have to strain to see it.
I’m too far to catch it, your smile
Cheshire-tucked in the coming,
in those cooling mountain mists.
It waits for me, and I’m patient.


This poem is dedicated to my friend Smita Tewari who passed away yesterday. Please visit her blog Smita's Poetry and remember her with me.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

With apologies to Harold Arlen

It’s only a paper.
Moons cover cardboard.
See, it couldn’t be.
Make believe it’s you.
Believe it’s me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The humor of human invention

A plane makes raspberries
against deeper blues. The chickadee
titters its approval.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Monday, June 06, 2011

Pretty things preach pretty thoughts

This blissful abyss we share glows,
gaudy-full if unfulfilling. It spins in
purple prose. It tastes of bon-bon
mots. It won’t suppose the inky
murmurs squirming below it,
or those secret scents that rise in goodbye-
giving waves ... or those
undulate and aqua misunderstandings
misgiving further underneath.

Ours is a blank-space world. ... It’s always
facing West, its face made-up
with gunpowder daubs.  Its head
is traced on one side by Queen Anne’s
lace, the other bullet baubles.  Its mind
is stripped of all naked-mole
rat thoughts. ... They’re the ones who might
burrow blind but unafraid
to love a common, unadorned heart.


Another week, another Wordle. Check out the other participants' pieces at A Wordling Whirl of Sundays.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Flowers can't care for you

The rose does not want
your water. It wants the sky’s.
It needs even less
sappy poems to it. Its ads
the petals jingle for bees.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The stationary traveler, twelve

The hill of beans, it’s
bigger than. Enough to fit
we. Crazy problems.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

A wig, in the middle of the road

A wig
wigged out
in the middle of the road
is no middle-of-the-road
metaphor.

It’s not an octopus either.

A polypus?

Perhaps, because
eight’s not enough
what with these many strands
stranded on the center line
where pretty pivoted
away from trash.

It’s no skin
off my back,
or off your head, or his, or hers,
whoever ditched it.

There's no skin
to cover, so it covers
not divots but gouges,
and those gouges are filled
not with pebbles,
but bits of tarry black blobs.

The pigeon feather
farther on
knows what loss is.

This isn’t much of a loss.

It’s better
than losing your head,
a head you were part of,
to a vicious jack
with an angry boot heel
quicker than any head can move.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The stationary traveler, eleven

Good offense takes good
labors. We work for one touch
rain drops can undo.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The stationary traveler, ten

My wet palm’s printed
On black glass. It unsettles
A minstrel’s dead smile.

Monday, May 30, 2011

This calm is brutality

Farther, farther, where you have forsaken glee
take to knee, and have that good cry.

The wind’s stopped ... caring
how the twilight comes,
if it comes it can come
with pigtails and a little-girl skip
or baldness and an old man’s stride.

Our bruise of sky has turned from
a heartless purple-black
to a gassy planet’s sickly yellow.

The leaves are out
again, exhaling greens.

Against their backdrop
who can be afraid of sparks to fire,
for we future fallen?


This weeks prompt from A Wordling Whirl of Sundays uses a dozen words taken from the Wallace Stevens poem Domination of Black. Check out the poem, and the prompt site to see how other's have responded to it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The stationary traveler, nine

Each green seed of thigh
high grass seeks an ear. Their waves
reach me on parting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Albert (In Praise of a Pug)

It’s been said
“dogs grow to resemble their masters”
maybe
we’re drawn to those who resemble us,
not like Narcissus,
but grabbed by the familiar
kiss of a kindred give and take.

Albert’s pug face shouts wide
ranging expressions. Most
are in a key of indignation.

Those few times,
happy times indeed,
when the joy does
come, ... it comes so overwhelming,
he snorts and puffs, he hops
and prances about His tiny body
can never contain it
and he lets it spill
all over me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The stationary traveler, eight

The spoiled sun inhales
fog shrouding distasteful brown
lands. Leave me, sourness.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

In this time of rapture, moonbeams scatter

When you weaned me from the waning moon,
its milky cusps, winking welcome
moods of starry surrender, I was lost
to my reflection rearranged
roughly on the window’s pane.

Don’t take flight yet, you said,
first take the light’s left hand
and keep it from the misbehaving oak,
its frightening reach.

There are beehive-capped angels
swinging there beneath, and they’re angling
to gather moony souls
together in false hope.
Their absent promise is absolute,
and absolution.

They’ll utter their nothings,
utterly sweet, if you let them,
and lull you with their yellow tongues.
Fly away with this light you now hold
and risk the falling.



What better way is there to celebrate surviving the rapture than with a wordle? You can check out this week's prompt and all of the wonderful responses to it, by visiting A Wordling Whirl of Sundays.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The stationary traveler, five

Thicket walls stand on
the writing of longer lives.
I can't feel my hands.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

The stationary traveler, three

The world I saw is
Worlds beyond me, red-shifted
Small measures of time

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The stationary traveler, two

To every season
there comes a time, out of turn.
Days, I’m not at home.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The stationary traveler

On another side
of understanding, I’ve lost
it, all hope for home

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We fall away from the forest

The man, somewhat less than
environmentally leaning,
falls down, making a definite
sound in protest.

The forest, far away
and dwindling, may or may not hear
his unkind sting. It’s none the less,
not interested.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fast-food notions

There’s no need for me to start
in, when a stop’s been
abridged to little more than
a pause and a wink at
the romantic thought
pleasant but stony bridges
once came between
coming and going.

They’ve substituted it –
the dirty and rutted
road leading up –
to a smooth black surface,
with a broad white stripe
and a textured mat
of margarine yellow,
hard rubber bumps, that
will teach us, what
shakes us doesn’t have to slow
radials slurping us in through
the drive-through.

Some things are worth the wait,
like the wind-up voice
behind sliding-glass,
and its brandishing hands
eking us our infusion
of copper coins back
and flimsy paper sacks
filled with a rural life
filtered out through industrial
chimneys, then patted
down to a few
salty, groundbeef patties.



This is in response to the most recent prompt at A wordling whirl of Sundays. Check out the site to see what others have contributed.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For all those who've known a Michael Francis Lynch

I read Michael Francis Lynch
lived twice, but differently
as two different men
and was killed
on the same day
in the same tragedy.

We’ll mark it, that day
(and both of him,
and those more than two,
thousands of others)
with twin reflective pools
set within twin absences.

Above the one,
northerly facing
spaces carved out of bronze
may recall one
Michael Francis Lynch.

Above the second
southerly gazing, similar
spaces taken from similar bronze
may recall a second
Michael Francis Lynch.

How will they know,
those who knew
either Michael Francis Lynch,
which of the face-filling blanks
holds which?

And if by the same
slim chance as two
men with the same name
finding the same end
on the same day,
they, all those who knew them,
choose the same bronze
and search it
for the same spaces,
whose face will they find
in those empty words,
and will the other still unread
stand for anything more
than emptiness?



I read a short piece in the New Yorker ("The Names" by Nick Paumgarten, 5/16/2011 issue) about the National September 11 Memorial due to be completed in the fall. It dealt with the difficulties the designers had arranging the names of those who were killed on the bronze panels ringing the two cascading pools where the towers stood. Among the 2,982 victims were two with the same name, Michael Francis Lynch, and it was decided that they should be listed on separate panels.