Monday, February 28, 2011

Not all can go to the mountain

The beat-up, long-used-up mountain
bike kick-stands close to the stationary
bike. As they stare out the window, she wins
his respect by exercising
his dreams with her recollections of flight,
mud thrown back, and occasional toppling.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Missing the forest for the trees

Forests can be seen as darkly
forbidding as we bid them be–
horrors. We've bid. Uselessly, I’ve wished them be
more than the threatened lesson we,
for us, bade them be.
Lore has it we,
or they, long before we
born to cities came to be,
wore threadless cloaks born of trees.
Torn branches went with us, spitefully
shorn of their leaves. Millennia later, we,
born to cities, can't leave them be.
Born to cities, we,
bored by leaves, still tear them from trees.
Torn by us to cities
born, their sticks are now lifelessly
born afar to the cities we
bored out from their trees.
Torn from them then born afar to these cities,
more lifelessness sticks to what we see.
Born to lifeless cities,
more sticks are wistfully
torn for our wishes life could be
more than what we see. When no more can be
torn by it, maybe then we’ll be
born less by our life-lessening wish for a more-to-be.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dame Freedom escapes her keepers' over-protective clutches

One day, maybe today
her sweet voice will sweep in
unaided by your crutches.
It's then you’ll lift away
like those dewy drops steamed
by the sun's lightest touches.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In the confusion of voices

I’m partnered with whispers.
Disquieting their partner, they whisk her
voice unasked through my dial-bound trips.
Daily they gaily needle me with their tip
to need her voice nonetheless.
Nightly I feed them less and less
detail, but they grow and they mock the endless hem-
hawed denials, I’ve tripped again.

“Check this box. You know,
the four-squared lines around the hollow
of our white space.
Yes, there’s no phrase
next to the unchecked box. It doesn’t matter.
We’re only here to gather
a positive response. We’ll fill in the rest
later, and we’ll attest
we could see through
your glassy hush, as we saw through
the stone trying not to dwell
on those bits of crushed shells.”

The shells. Those damned bits
of shells she left minutes
before she left. Shells already
discarded by some small medley
of slimy unnamed things
somehow both alive and living
out in the dead-calm lake. Those shells lost
or more likely tossed
aside but lightly, as delicate dishes
are gently pushed when finished.

“We’ve heard you tell it.
The green-brown waves rolled to deposit
them on that spit of coarse, cold sand where
your toes slipped from shoes and care
to taste the ridges
of their gently sloped backs and smooth-worn edges.
She took them home then
and using nail polish she painted them
shocking pink faces and round eyes in various hues
of red. Glitter-glued to blue
construction paper they bubbled
her winking verbs, which troubled
you as you re-read
them and deconstructed
her intentions each color-
less visit to the refrigerator door.”

I’ve told it
and much the same, but when I hear it
their words
become less mine than hers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A dying bird defies gravity until the end

My dear friend nooshin shared a lovely and moving poem with me, and I couldn't let the opportunity pass to write a response to it. The top piece is nooshin's, and mine appears below it.


the bird was severely wounded
it needed no food
and no water
no medicine
and no shelter
all those who watched its flights
or listened to its songs
except an artist
who painted it
with its wings wide open
soaring in the blue sky
he knew a dying bird
only wanted to be remembered
in its flight


What makes this bird die
a bird? It wasn't
what they hinted
with their hollow words
about her meekness
of beak, at bone,
or feathers they caught
with owning-eyes,
wishing to keep her,
keep her from flight.
It was deep down,
her why, he observed –
the resilience
of a graceful will
to take wing despite
the weighty wounds
and their whisper,
"Without us, you're not."


Sunday, February 20, 2011

A trusted give and take

I’m not trustworthy,
but I'd put
a world's worth of trust
in your words
no matter how not-
worthing trust
they seem, simply put,
if you'd worth
a new trust in me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In its coming, glory-less, there will be no lord

Blind skies have gleaned
their stories from the strumming of the bored,
but they do change them.
They rearrange them,
their outcomes, slightly,
and, when they retell them,
the words fall back to us lighter,
delightedly so, than they were before.

“It’s just us.”
We’ve heard.
“It’s just us,” more called,
and they shared this secret:
“Those blind skies aren’t blind at all.
They only pretend
not to see, as they bend
the wind to help us.”

They let us think,
“The movement’s thanks to me,”
when we tell our shortened tales
where the Lord doesn’t deliver us.
We tell them to no-one
and anyone in particular,
by pecking our thumbs with an irregular,
scratched-out beat.

It happens too when they slow us down,
and we punch-in our excuses.
“I would have gotten here sooner
in fact, but the tactless crow I followed
took a crooked path.”
That’s when not-blind skies wink
and they lift our rhythmic letter-breaths
to become the stuff of linty pockets.

Some day, one day,
not a spare hour or minute
but the splittest second before
a glory-less death,
our stories will snow back on us.
We’ll hear them
and the words will feel
familiar, though a little more gray.

Then the smallest voice
we’ve ever heard,
somehow both ours and theirs,
will say, “The gist is got
but the endings are not
quite right. Yet,
I admit they’re also righter
than my telling’s long-ago was.”

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Valentine gift to you

If this hallmark of a romantic gift
I give
is a bit fumbled,
and its professions of heartfelt wishes
slack in their graham-cracker-box repackaging;
If the candy-coated wrapper’s fit
is left
misfitting around its dented-in red corners,
and the lippiness of its stick
has come
unstuck at each crushed-down end;
If the pink bow
stands unbowed
and frowns as unpretty as any crime-scene picture,
while it raises
a frayed end with the victim’s gone-through motion
death for its last tug free;
It could be
my feeling heart’s once-bold youth
entirely found in it,
or it could be
the entirety
bound in it,
my heart,
couldn’t find its way out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This crime more ancient than the mariner's

Albert Ross was at a loss.
He couldn’t gloss
over the dull fact hanging
lifeless like the near-homophone
about his neck.
It’s a pretty neck,
this long and slender neck,
with the impeccable lines of its smooth cylinder
broken only by a smallish apple.
Eve would’ve refused it.
To sea. To sea.
There he’d see
with its wide vistas
the feathery visage of this polar white
visitor riding astride his black cloud.
“Rain, would it please you to rain?
Are you allowed
to open up and drown me?”
Is how he’d phrased it
in his mind, countless times.
The hardest rain would be welcome,
but this constant threat,
this ponderous yet,
this threaded pendant swinging
as fast and steady
as a winged pendulum might,
was not. It tightened,
that knot deep in the pit of his stomach.
He’d done no harm.
Harm wasn’t his to do,
or undo. The harm came before,
at the hands of a father,
who gave him such
an ill-spoken name,
and the Father before him.
He, ages before him,
deigned to make us this world
where a bird’s no more
than a bird or any man
with the want of a soul.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

In memoriam

This is it.
Your "He was,
was he not?"
collection of lazy
You'll project it on
those fuzzy
"Or now was he?"
and reject them in favor
of a rock solid
first impression.
He was, after all,
with those strange,
even dangerous
and his oddly arranged
just a guy
you kinda knew.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A wink and a nod

I'm a willful blink rushing to its close
but a few languid lashes lag to break
the black line and savor their fractured pose

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Goodbye, hello

To be very blunt, this isn't working. I'm out of whack. A ghost, with a fading voice and a haunted step.

I've invested much of myself in this virtual enterprise, with absolutely no expectation of a return. It's helped me in many ways, and I don't regret it. I could never abandon it completely, but the time has come to change gears and seek balance.

Being of the world, I need to go back into the world. I've tried to be so totally available here in this simulacrum of a world, dedicated myself so thoroughly to it, that I've withdrawn too much from the real one.

What does it mean? What's next? I won't stop writing. I could never do that. I know. I've tried. But I've come to recognize that what I write is lacking too much of the real world too. There will be fewer posts. Fewer tweets. Fewer Facebook statuses. Fewer blog visits.

In short, I can't be as present as I am here, and also be present "out there." And being totally present here is damaging me. There are big changes going on in the world right now, and I can't just be a spectator to them anymore. I need to participate.

I'm lucky, in a sense, to be alone. I have no real obligations that tie me to a particular location. I have the freedom (though maybe not the funds) to wander, and explore, and discover. I only lack a plan to put it all in motion.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

An apocalypse will paint beauty we’ll never know

I was there, but I wasn’t
where snowy wisps skitter
across the beige-brown sand,
and skim-milk rolls
stand frozen, no longer
struggling to reach the shore.
Gulls wheel high and fall back.
I couldn’t hear them calling,
“Here’s the beauty
when life stops, and then goes.”

I don't have a camera, so this is how I captured the wintry landscape along Lake Michigan in the aftermath of the recent blizzard.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Oh, Ophiuchus

Oh great Ophiuchus,
you stand there mighty above us,
all nights, collapsed in the collapsible
container sky. We do
look up to you, Ophiuchus,
as other-worldly worries nestle us
into our nested doll
worlds. Though Ophiuchus, we must
ask again, what it is you can give us
while your sculpted arms keep
a coiling beast at bay? Go on,
let go. Let go of it, Ophiuchus.
Your strong hands can point us
back, just when our need walks forward,
to a stone-laid patio where broad browns
empty into vast blues,
and our wise Hypatia sits
nose in books. Woe it is, Ophiuchus,
she’s so oblivious,
to those shouts of a smallish mob,
their small minds squeezed by greedy Christian lands.
They pad to her on paws
well-provided with ostraca
claws, and next morning the mourner jackdaw
will refuse to withdraw
its usual caw from a flawed
maw that couldn’t warn her, the time’s off. It’s now
it seems, Ophiuchus,
the day’s come, though the daw’s left us,
when clay heads will fall at golden feet. But
Ophiuchus, do please
tell us, can we focus? After
these many centuries, Ophiuchus,
can we learn to focus,
and on our own keep the constant
nips of the present-preened serpents at bay?