Friday, December 31, 2010

Snowscape V (the end)

The winter white takes
shallow breaths
and exhausted she coughs
grey complaints
about the crushed
green of popped-down bottles,
a cellophane cat
holding his short stock
of shock-yellow crumbs,
and other man-made matters
mocking her color
but, not her,
they don’t fade away

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snowscape IV

from the muzzling
of a winter's drowsy-
days-long muslin wrap,
brown earth bursts through
what white patchwork's left
to cure forbidden tramplers
with a slurpy, foul-mouthed,
aubade kiss.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snowscape III

Steamy column of warmth
slips through the crack,
pawed by purrs from his cat—
a tonic wash to welcome
slush-slicked, black boots back

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowscape II

The sun's diminished light might
seem blundered if not for the wonders
of winter's incomparable white

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowscape I

White imprisons gray.
A black sole subdues
one red glove with a soft crunch.
There it will pause, fingerless
until the first thaw.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

‘Tis this,
morn at the end
of that clutch of days
Christians named 2010,
and the diffident sky
can only manage
one irreverent blink.

There they're here,
candy cane lights
with green-garland ears
and drunken noses
to point my way through
snow-drop-hushed streets
robbed of their rush-about
and vagrant shouts.

Then’s when
I’ll take it,
the harked-upon angels’
high stool, and make low
the hollered occasion
with a devilish wink
to swivel
their pin-cushion heads:

“Yay, I say,
for unto you is born
this day, in the city of laid
lids, a savor!
Look for true
love in the cradle
of your straw-strewn hearth,
and unswaddle it.”

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In the beginning, we got lost to our endings

The jelly-jiggling slop first had to flop
before it could waddle
ashore into this muddle of last gasps
and becoming
where middling deaths swaddled in gauzy breaths
emit a consonant-rich sussuro:

If you don’t recall the swirl-swept depths
where we furled it,
can you keep that promise in shallows pocketed?

So we began, and with the begetting
a rosy cloud plumed forth from our two
terraformed lips,
its delicately distinct petals mushrooming out
with a thorn-less, serif-soft voice
to bestow this frothy font of atomic confusion:

Let the forgetful sea rinse over now-handy fins
to hard-edge etch
their starfish straight lines in a slurp of soggy sand.

The mothering molecules haven’t lost
their smothering ache to forgive
our thickened skins
and they still cling to us, cooing about a lulled drift
past bye when we’ll climb the thinning links
back to homes cloaked in a sifted light:

The loves of your heart-filled heads, no matter
how starkly pled,
all waste away to join us in our timeless waiting.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Undomesticated scenes

There’s no life-
likeness in the dioramas
he meticulously pieces
together with stray remnants of lost
childhood, but there may be
an uncanny resemblance to truth

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ode to the winter solstice

He may be bits shy,
tucked in there behind
a ready excuse of clouds,
but from today he spreads
our pocket-lint days
with radiant smiles,
and lingers longingly,
beggar moments longer each time

Monday, December 20, 2010

A birthday wish

It's not that rocks don't
Feel. Keep still your eyes, look. See
Our shy smiles shimmer

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cupid's need for archery lessons

Can love's long shot con
us with its loft, drop
a steel tip to spark
flinty hearts, and burn
away sleeping stings?

Friday, December 17, 2010

I make up words, and they return the favor

If cupple were a word,
it would be
linked to couple,
but there’s the small complication
it doesn’t exist, not outside
the confines of this poem.

Cupple (verb):
To gently join
one’s hands and hold
an object in a loving
and inquisitive manner,
somewhat cautious lest its essence
leaks out between the cracks.

Possible poetic usage:
Spy me, one tiny dot
spiraling up
a spiny staircase of crystalline steps,
until I’m picked, pinched
and cuppled by a darling universe
before she takes me off to bed.

Will cupple make a break
and elope with its old-world cousin?

I can’t say, not in a voice
convincingly heard.
You see, I’ve lost all taste
for those dictionary words,
a touch hushed within bindings, tightly bound
while my pretenders nose around
their glossy jackets.

It’s not that I’m wishy-washy
about cupple’s ambitions.
I’m just happy to keep it here with me
in my wish-washed state
where there’s no point
beyond the widening
smile of our gradual arc inward.

Special thanks to Kay at Immersed in Word for lending me the word "wish-washed".

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The mind reels

Here's my latest attempt at an animation. I'm still making mistakes, and learning from them. I'm going to go back to the written word for a little while before I attempt another one of these (they're very time consuming).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Water on the brain

My hush-hushed secret,
rush-rush waves will tell you,
isn't a leaked taboo
of still, stale waters,
or worse, worry-wracked seas.
It's too simply my clipped
and unwary tale
of the calming ocean
I sensed when I waded
into the shallows
of your penetrating eyes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A glimpse of things to come?

I've begun learning a 2D animation program, and I hope to use it to create short videos for my poetry. Here's a very brief attempt at animating one of my drawings. As I get more adept, the results should be a lot less primitive.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An apostate's creed

When I was spongy
soft and daisy yellow, my father poured
forth with piety his cleansing love
for god and country, and he poured
it into poor little porous me.

It was a sop I tried to hold
but just as gold wings go
and clay feet come,
so my faith in blindness was replaced
by a bookish seeking.

The small wrings and smaller
squeezes of his uneven hands
told me god wasn’t 'man enough,
and any bounded place was too cramped
a space for my odd inklings.

Then I found this upon the further
side of knowing: Nature lives and dies not
in our world alone,
but there’s a universe to breed
and spoil with my loving’s expansion.

It’s always cycling...
cycling before me...
cycling through me...
cycling past me...
cycling in spite of me.

Ever never blinks
and no quill’s ink tallies
those woes and wants
played out on the twinkling
stage of our weakling moments.

Outside the familiar
rhythms of my childish loves,
I’m left
pledging to do no heavenly harm
as I spread wide these arms
so inadequate for embracing the vast
elliptical clouds of intermingling
light and dust,
and in flying I’ll fall toward
but not reach
the core of my sunny belief.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bunny swallows owl

Inside the bunny suit
my ears are still small
and round, and percussive
sounds come to visit me
costumed in white muffles.

Inside the bunny suit
a bead of sweat itches
my nose to rabbit fidget
and wiggle-twitch where
my fingers can’t reach it.

Inside the bunny suit
a thin layer of nylon dots
inserts its silky self
between me and everything
I fumble to touch.

Inside the bunny suit
the outside world’s broken
up by a half-dozen holes,
and green strands fuzz the focus
of each fragmented peep.

Inside the bunny suit
probing orange lights
make kaleidoscope shapes
through those same cut
openings. They distract me.

Inside the bunny suit
I can smile at and feel
closer to the fantastic
creatures who surround me
in their own decorous skins.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Night mares always look back

My night, marish, clops through
a mirror life
some mad scientist might
have coaxed to self-replicate
into an intemperate ooze.

I’m standing there,
and then I’m not,
lost in its reflection
and aflutter with a flabbergasting abandon
at having met you
after a bushel of now grainy,
barren years.

It is me, and it’s not
or it’s both, I can’t say
who it is, who turns away
panicked by the befuddling
indifference in your voice
before it trails off
and tumbles into a cruel muddle
of swallowed gruel,
where I’m unable to skim out
the love I loved in you,
once, or spoon
one meager goodbye.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Sweet meets nothing, and nothing wins

The sweet-meets-
nothing, I said,
wasn't at-all
sweet but it was
nothing, unlike
the some-things-
said by better
for better-haves
sake, in their own
less original rite,
and it's that
I'm quite fond of.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Miracles can wait

He whiles an Earth's worth
The saintly stone eyes won't roll
Servilely his way

Saturday, December 04, 2010

I take a secret pleasure in being disabused of my fonder illusions

It was
put a bow on it pretty,
our democracy
with its polka-dot accountability
and its tissue-paper truths.

The discount-bin card arrived
separately, postage due,
and with a punctilious script
it promised us
a curlicued freedom from
antiquated forms of expression.

Our very love was
ceremoniously given,
but was it
ever right-
fully ours?

Let’s render up the flattering
notion of own,
as it's grown so fatty
lipped it wears a perpetual pout.

The gift was merely Caesar’s
grandiloquent concession
tagged liberally,
“To: Us,
a meekly over-entertained many
whose we, drained of meaning,
poses no coherent threat.”

Not yet.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Some compromises we do

Straight-striving, a white
............. oak sapling bends
.................. (it pretends) willingly
..................... to the lapping of grey-
......................... hound gusts. It knows
............................... the musts of a thin-
................................ skin (if and when,
................. it can endure) will loosen
........... some with thickening. Then,
........ well, the strength comes
....,. to laugh at always
in the passing wind.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Some compromises we don't choose

her brittle bones balk .... before
......... their daily battles
but for a living .... they give in

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Ticktocks go away with the clock

In the gloom-heavy
looming of our preordained
hours, stretched minutes
lie with their alluring
promise, the endless
seconds to come

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's in our dreams we'll find the way forward

My inner tongue trips
over her yesterday
morning’s extemporaneous
homily and its retelling
rains down on me
temporal anomalies
through which I’ll slip the bleached
monotony chasing me.

Turn key,
return me
to the upturned
glee of a midnight macadam.

Unmanned, it’s where
the manholes open up to me
their traps of sunken yet
stacked wire-mesh baskets.

They’ve been left
to catch a refused few
turquoise-beaded strings
mixed with ash
feather-dusted by the lime,
tangerine and grape
wing beats of exotic birds
too meek to fly upward.

There the tensile tip of a sweet
and fecund smell grips me
and it squeezes out
visions of too-soon
dying in that bed
where a stripped truth lies
tenderly with the on-putting
of my put-off lies.

A low hiss heralds happy heat
and radiating pings rap me
down the shrinking-shadow hall
away from Hedone’s keep.

In the singular
pleasure of this rhythmic pluralism
my nouns and verbs find
their final agreement:
All we’ve known
is what a wanting wind’s foretold,
but its chilly, willful voice
can no longer hold us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

The sickle that cuts

The silvery, sliver moon
snubs me with the stub of
her turning-away's nose

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When the top turves

When the one spared treetop does turve
its cherished Cheshire won't perish
but the once persisting smile will

Monday, November 22, 2010

We honor the spirit of the season by misgiving

When we find ourselves
by the once-again
betwixt a barest bare
season (of not-there)
and the rock-hard
reason (for there-is), let’s

Place the lemon-sour wedge,
where it can be tasted
with expectantly peppered
peeks and the snowy soft pines
for a gifted we we’ve been
too white-elephant
wary to unwrap.

There’s a transplant
future. We pretended
it (to-be
forever sutured to our bristly back-
then), and it meets the it
it was beneath a scrub-brush
Christmas tree we’ve stowed

Carelessly in the cramped space
where our sameness
lets crawl the other. Tinseled,
pre-assembled, past-
their-prime-time specialty
brands of static
clinginess have diminished,

But not-enough,
as the persistence of any-man
attraction shows,
would if it could bring
Whitman’s samplers
of sentimentality
to cuddly bear on a leftover

Choice (What’s-next,
warmed over and over). We
will stick to it,
fuzzy ornaments
on the crackly loud, paper-
thin present. We didn’t give
up but we did give away

Boxed-up angels
in exchange for one red-ribbon
day, its frilly bow tying us
so tightly to
the pressed-down rule
of our highest of highly
evolved thumbs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Laminated maps make ideal umbrellas

A dead-end road of raging
sky grumbles
peculiar directions, then
dizzy drives
crisply crossed drops to their head-
long tumbles

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sometimes there can be fairytale beginnings

With a smack of tender lips
the sticky-stammering spell
breaks, and,
frog cleared from tricky gullet,
he speaks
the binding incantation

Friday, November 19, 2010

Relishing the pull of gravity

Quicksilver traces wake
elliptical motives
as string-less spheres take on
all the tuneful burdens
a black, gaper void won't
hole-heartedly embrace

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Prologue is Future

This is a bit of a mad experiment. Against my better instincts, my best experience, and anyone's good advice, I've decided to revisit an old short story and not only rewrite it, but transform it. I've kept the bare bones, but I'm giving it new flesh. I like it much better than the original, but it'll be a challenge to sustain the for the 15 chapters I've sketched out. This isn't a final draft, so more changes may come.


Let's peek in where it all starts and ends,
at that moment of a single movement when

The head, once so deadly heavy,
is reanimated
to jerk up in a backward nod.

This jump lumped with the looking-in
may make your graceless gaze feel
like a twitchy puppeteer's hand, sadly
forgetful of the pulled strings. Get past it.

See the light.
His two blue irises gasp at that light.
They gasp at the spray of pallid yellow
light that washes over them
when he rears his reluctant lids.

Notice the ears,
his nicely rounded ears. Those cauliflower
receptacles are made more prominent
by the gleam of a cleanly shaved pate.
They receive the sounding waves
as his mechanical keeper regains its motive.

Watch his nostrils.
That pair of nostrils that have grown
fleshier with the facial widening of passing
years. They flare at first to gulp and then more
slowly sip the stagnant air
perfumed with a mix of sweat
and snow-wetted wool.

We welcome Jonas back to the jostle
of the boxing car in which he's stuffed.
It's a thoughtless train that carries him through
circular sentences punctuated by fits
and false starts, the small jabs and stronger
punches that toy with rag-doll chins.

We'll read into his tale and we'll find
this Jonas is a stand-in man perhaps
too cleverly named. And what is it,
this his tale? His is a tale of bellies, and being
trapped. The first and seeming

Everlasting belly surrounds him
now with walls crafted from cookie-cutter
steel. It's a strong-link drop, down
in the chain of silvery likes.

The time.
What's the time?
What's the day, for that matter.

The left arm wears a watch, but its skin,
pinned till pins and needles called,

Won't lift up. It's left to the right hand
to drag its partnered player to where
Jonas can read the scissor-splayed dial.

Seven o’clock.
It's always been Seven o'clock.
It may well always be. Square

With rounded corners,
the window backed by early winter
morning’s black, gives out no
further clues. Does it make a difference?

It doesn't.
How could it? Suspended
above the flash-bulb scenes
of troubled and troubling city blocks,
Jonas lets his mind again go slack.

With it, once-sharp voices
dull to indistinct mumbles, as if they were
spoken long ago, leagues distant
and in an incomprehensible tongue.
Jonas's head nods forward, and with it,
we slip away to darkness once more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Make like a snake

Heat-addled and stretched out
flat on a desert stone,
he warns off god's coming
with a rattle made by his own
flayed skin, two pulled hind teeth,
and borrowings of bleached bone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Making the best of it

What does the wind intend?
Our branch-bridge bends up to ask us
Let's pretend the answer's love

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You (I wanted to write a poem starting with “Why”)

Why is it I
can’t? You leave it
alone, but I
know I can’t. It’s
the OCD in me
to rearrange everything. I
have sorted the sordid
big details of when. We
got together
by an ascending order
then. I
ruined it with a “Why?”
and “Ever since...” We
back to one, and I
am still flipping
through the why’s.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Zero gravitas, or when I solve the fundamentals of time travel

If I could send
one message
back through time,
I wouldn’t write to beg
words off a writer
I admire –
be it Dante or Blake,
Yeats or Cummings –
and I wouldn’t warn away
the gazes of a to-be
lost love
or push the glad
hands of not-yet
abandoned friends.

I would write
to my yesterday self,
who lazily left
dishes for today’s
me to do,
and I’d rightly tell him:
“Please, reconsider
the sink-
me urge to shirk

“These are citrus-
scented suds,
and if you let them,
they’ll tickle
a memory of 3
too-old oranges
forgotten to bother
the bottom of a wicker bowl,
which in turn
will return you to rethink
the how of when
a younger you
grew 5
times in those 10
years before the death,
and then
you stopped caring for the 20

It’s news of the wee,
and non-consequential
tasks that gives
all of these me’s pleasure

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Impudently dancing to the dourest of beats

Wee hands
we tethered
and together
we skipped
the craggy face
of calamity's cliff.

More rumble
than chuckle,
it laughed to buckle
our knees,
and we laughed
right back at it.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Being broken isn't always a bad thing

The chrysalis crisp someday
cracks and crawls away
till its crumpled fills
a renewed creation

I'm struggling a bit with direction and next steps. I'll be easing up a bit on posting here for the foreseeable future, so I can concentrate on longer forms of narrative. I feel like I've reached the end of my larval stage. The chrysalis is hardening, and I'll begin breaking myself down in order to assume a more mature and fruitful shape.

I'm also giving up on the idea of submitting my work anywhere. It's become apparent that my writing really doesn't belong in any publication. My style is too crude and unusual, and it doesn't play well with what others are doing, so I'll take the punishment I deserve and continue to imprison my poems in this obscure and benighted little corner of the Internet.

Thanks to all my regular readers and collaborators, as you and your sites are what keep me going.

Update, Nov. 9: I've decided to convert my short story Belly to verse, which will consume most of my creative energies probably for the rest of the year (unless I really get cooking). I'm not sure yet whether I'll post the chapters as I finish them, or wait until the whole piece is complete.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The glass you gave me is emptiful

Watch me closely, God,
though you’ve seen it all before.

I’ve got the universe up my sleeve
and it’s itching for a sleight,
if you’re willing to be conned.

The stardust filling Aquarius
has poured for countless millennia
and it won’t brim the bottomless cup
of your oceanic blues.

That’s the warm-up for Lepus
who, lean and polar-white, leaps
out from my flipped-over cap
and is chased by the steel-plied
Orion’s hankering for roast hare.

Hunger-driven this heaven hunter
has a saggy belt; his sword’s tip drags,
slicing Gemini in two,
but twins can’t be parted long
and divinely grasping Pollux clasps
Castor’s pause anew.

Conjoined, they bow together
under showers of milky petals
kissing no-longer
furrowed brows till black
velvet curtains fall
and are followed by your eons of
endearing applause.

This poem was written for Poet's United's Thursday Think Tank Prompt: Magic

Friday, November 05, 2010

Prayer of the unsaintly

Would you banish me if I confessed
a secret thrill the instant
shrill sirens intrude,
rudely breaking in
to shove aside my trailed-off whispers
with a wail from which no earwax,
no matter how doughy thick,
could keep a modern Ulysses safe.

Maybe it’s this time
they’ll stop for me.

Maybe it’s this time
and there won’t come a knock.

Maybe it’s this time
the stale crust of hardening past
explodes to scorch a put-upon earth
or crack her open so we can,
you and I, slip through,
up among the slewfoot roamers.
Their heavy heads are down,
always down, down,
pointed down and they’re unaware
there are germs here.
There are puffs of dainty fluff floating
close above them here and hoping
to ride our slipstream,
to skip over those dreams
too drained of ambition for ever
to germinate.

Ignore, am I
the kind to ignore? I am
ignoring them right now,
and the dimpled facts
they’d dare be
if beggary wasn’t better served
than derring-do. Don’t
tell me you don’t see them too.

I’ve witnessed the self-interest
and I’m still abiding, dude,
but when, dear God, when
will enlightenment finally arrive?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dampened spirits

From an icy blue
(remove) ........... INEVITABLES
chilling s-p-r-e-a-d wings

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A political postmortem

In the yeasty yearning for
fuzzy was – its sleep-
deprived, batted eye trimmed with
never-were, prickly lashes
long-frayed from the thumb-on-thumb
of constant tugging –
we loosen our hug
around bugaboo learnings
and lose the gripping
way to clear but not soothing,
white-nighted will be.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A few photos

Here are a few photos from the reading I did at the opening night of George Kokines' Elgin Academy installation.

The "September 11" pieces (St. Nicholas, Ground Zero, The Sky Above)

Yours truly, reading

George and me

Monday, November 01, 2010


Wind sweeps up crushed-leaf
Curtains, strictly maintaining
Roomy illusions

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sifting through autumnal clues

Rotting sparrow tucks in
a dead
leafy blanket

Curdling, black caws crawl on
the fall's
crimson telling

Decaying light sneaks through
our chance

Friday, October 29, 2010

To make less hollow the hallowed, I ween

The ten commandments say nothing,
in the translations I’ve read,
against coveting my neighbor’s good
sense of style,
or the countless other intangibles
gifted by Nature
and our DNA's mischievous inventions.

I’m a strict constructionist,
when it suits me, and especially so
with documents carved in stone
by invisible hands
having no recorded fondness for the market.

I’d trade places with any nameless witch
caught cavorting in her coven’s canopied oases,
their cauldron-ringing capers
and care-free cackles cheered
by owl hoots and cricket song;

Or the smallish, self-sacrificing spider
who rather than a cigarette gets a close-up
view of his mate’s spinnerets dispensing
the silk sheets to wrap him
as a happy meal deferred.

I also envy their creepy hatchlings
who weeks later will climb to the tip-tops
of firry fingers, cast a single wistful thread
and wait for the wish-fulfilling wind
to carry them lifetimes away.

That’s how I could stiff this chill
that taps me on the shoulder, and chase
after a far-off warmth I’ve weened
since my weaning was done.

I count these covets no sins.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Night injects itself
Daylight's shrill cacophonies
are sweetly silenced

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A stomach for gore

Liquid larvae churn
the content
of a beastly belly
by now-vacated fangs
with a vague hope
to pacify us
and our death-
obsessed grinds

I'm getting in the mood for Halloween

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking a cue from the leopard slugs

I’ve found her sticky
trail of coincidental
spots, the tasty spit
to lead squishy spells
and piece together
our puzzling
theme of a tree-top
fall to redemption

There when entangled,
the overture hangs,
our forbidding fruit of blue
translucent petals,
and it swirls and swells
to fixture-
cast an eerie glow
that slowly unwraps

And inseminates
us with precious, not-thought of
for rebirth.

The inspiration for this is the strangely beautiful mating ritual of the leopard slug, and a challenge from my poet friend Eileen to write a poem about it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Their words led me to the course of water, but I would not drink

Call me paranoid,
or clairvoyant,
or a desperate seeker in need
of a kindly wink
who gets blank
stares from the battered
plot of Black-eyed Susans.

I’ve seen sweet
grimaces and gruesome
grins locked in the fuzzy
outlines of a hinge
with its unused spins
putting the bedroom
door ajar.

Cheerless chuckles
and twinkling frowns
bubble up
from the brown-edged
peels of paint
on a water-damaged ceiling
constantly keeping my looking-
back glass fogged.

They come visit, sometimes
smiling, often beguiling,
these faces who lurk
in this saddest of places
where I hold
their ghostly echoes
safe from the outside
voices cautioning me:

“Too many conjured guests,
even the prettiest
ones you’ve grown
fond of, eventually become
so much unfiltered noise.
Find and kneel down among
the moss
and lichen-covered pews.

“Put your whisper-burned ear
to the quiet-cool earth there
and hear her tell you,
‘Look up.
Look up. Share,
oh do share dear,
in the wonders of this infinite
and unpeopled blue.’”

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The drenching rain
drains away
a staining crimson
and the dread
his rubbed hands
abstain from feeling

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wry reflection

I'm not the swan, I am
a lesser, wry reflection
sipping at an idle drift
before breakfasted, its wings
lift me from the mirror

Friday, October 22, 2010

Set for new ways

This lapsing sun
sensing an end
can be a touch

Its rose-tipped fingers
elect to anoint
just we sinful

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Consciously fragile

I dent it, he smiles
and tags along
with small fists full
of dirt and gravel.
She sneaks between
their curses and shouts
to welcome us,
a guileless mistress
clothed in tempting,
barely there brags
and ever basking
in our mischief.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It’s my biography and I have every right to get it wrong

Chapter I: A misplaced youth

My first original rhyme –
take a “truck” drop the head and add an eff –
was hand-me-down crude,
not clever,
but how clever can you be
at four years old?

The chilly blush of it still brings
out a ringing
sound of one hand clapping
against my cheek;
then comes the deflating bawl
from pouchy flesh instantly un-stuffed
of its squirrely giggles and glee.

It put me off cheap sing-song thrills
for decades.

Same age, different flaws:
Can you be too young to develop
a finely tuned sense of entitlement
and the firmest conviction
for redistributing misbegotten wealth?

If anyone deserved a raggedy toy –
don’t call it a doll –
mouse-eared and with cherry-red shorts
cheerily poking out
of a tinsel-topped Christmas stocking,
it was me, not her.

Maybe Santa was suffering
from dementia,
or forgot his reading glasses.

I wasn’t smart enough yet
to cover my tracks,
and I didn't know any fences;
it’s hard to deny a crime
when you’re hugging the goods.

Skip ahead a few years,
and after the regular Sunday
indoctrinations of an uncharitably
faith-based brand of hero-worship,
there are all the tell-tale signs
of a sleep-sick heart
with an over-simplified world view
married to a messiah complex.

Is it normal to dream
of oneself, small but magnificently armored,
supplanting Michael
as the head of that goodly Host
driving out the evil legions?

At least I knew how to side with a winner
back then.

I also dreamed Gulliver-like,
I had been roped down to my bed
by a clutch of creepy-crawly bugs,
and in a tiny voice I could barely make out,
their spokes-beetle cried up to me:
“There will come a time
when the time finally comes,
and when it does
you’ll smack its self-satisfied face
for keeping you
waiting so long.”

My hand's always poised above the clock.

To be continued...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The impermanence of writing

The vagaries of a boyish heart
penciled her squiggly name
onto this warped white sill;
they can also reduce it
to the cryptic black crumbs
his soft-puff of a sigh will
spill into a gulping down
by the floor's shy crevices.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The life in a day

I captained logs lovingly across
a musky pond
to hang stars on this date
when so much happened.
Let’s wake in the missed-me morrow
and I’ll try to recapture it.


My aroused heart pounds with the eager
pecks of new world sparrows
feasting on a found pile of saltine cracker

With these easier pickings, they can gloss
over hypothetical seeds lost
and the unfortunate insects
still trapped in their tightly wrapped buds
while emitting
a silky trickle of pollen sweetened tears
I might have once confused as joy.


My mouth is a cast iron bell
robbed of its moistness
and the service of a tongue that would rather be
surgically cut without
the requisite anesthesia
than extol with slithering anticipation
the downfall of cold-blooded prey.

A grubby grimace can’t
switch off the cockle-less warmth
gazed by an elegantly impolite swan,
but amazingly cottony soft escapes can
be ginned with the bait of a choirboy’s tender
“Have mercy!”


My nutmeg brown irises are diced
fresh and tossed into a pot
where spiced hot they’re shown
the urgency this yet-to-be plucked rose feels
when the mid-morning light
accumulates with enough heat
to bake the earth chocolate.

The tattered edges of her puckered lips
glow an ardent shade of pink and make
a beacon, signaling kingly butterflies to abdicate
their aimless flutters and jet
directly toward her alluring realm.


My usually cool tips can’t maintain
their aloof trance and they trip
red with sudden blushes over the damaged
clasp on a school girl’s lunch box
crayoned with lemonade kittens,
their wordless greetings.

It’s unlatched to reveal no magic
pressed in the chunks of pickle loaf,
but the foetid and desperate
fruits of a wish for can’t-stay-at-home mothers
to be released from the wages of others’

A squirrel drags her white bread
and dappled meat onto the play lot
where the child’s storm-cloud stare
breaks with the flash
and low rumble of laughter.


My soles crave the touch of loose-dirt
roads, but it’s my ankles that meet
brambles and are torn by their tiny kisses
from which a rubbery
beauty of sappy drips trails back
to grow pastel primavera blooms.

Their long, tapered necks
and delicate, glassy horns blow
the modulated notes of an icy hymn.

Its diamante flecks freckle
the hovering blue before falling
to press these young,
painted plants into a frieze
and free them from wilting.


My nape aches for the subtle
weight on not supple joints
between thick fig branches
powdered with a maquillage of snowy dust.

No one care can snap them
or keep them from sheltering
the grazes of constantly bleating sheep.

Candy floss wool is tinted
jonquil then apricot then cherry
as the distant and fiery ball of a sun
slowly descends to the quenching
splash in its night-deposit bucket.


My unencumbered back gently rolls with a raft
adrift on ripples raised
when unknown aquatic creatures
stir in a shallowly cupped liquid.

Their pleasant plunks and gleeful gurgles
are carried on the crisply creeping evening
air to wash away
the unsavory wafts of salty rumors.

Here I can’t scent the far-removed
oceans racked by hunger’s
chilling frissons and the pundit’s
raging rants to at all-costs maintain
the elevation of market-priced pap.

Thanks to Rallentanda for the 100-word prompt that inspired this. I'm surprised it only took me a week to finish it :).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Replaying god

The plentiful dust
I fuss
to sculpt
a troupe of selfless
Freed from any
light, we hum
the delightful
tunes for a giving
each tone-
deaf twirl
sharing us back
with an even-
handed air.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The dawn of detectives

The diligent dew
clearly knew
continued vigilance
would pay off
with the clues
to smile snatch
a sneaking-by sun,
before its cheat
of red-faced fragments
peeked through

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It all goes by in a blink

A nettlesome gnat
dodges past
rote swipes,
and in the stodgy
middle of milk-
spilled glass,
a waning wink
the faded
to its midgy sink

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The consolation of weeds

I’m not a botanist,
or an avid gardener.

The horto I culture consists of two pots,
sits on a narrow sill
and soaks in its one-hour slit of sunshine.

This makes me unfit
to label much less
fathom the encroaching
sublime, which sprouts,
shoots, creeps, clings and endures
from far reaches beyond me.

It has spines
supple and rigid,
skins coarse, spiked, and silky,
quivering tips that are spidery,
and bunched as small dollops,
jagged teardrops and jigsaw puzzle pieces.

I’m not a botanist,
but if I were
I should still be struck dumb
by these numbing instances
a protesting tongue
insists it won’t box up
such greenery with the genial trappings
of a scientific classification,
or even the oddly
folksy catch-all “weed.”

I can’t always tell what’s a weed, what not.

l know those greedy
intruders growing at the heart
of a meticulously turned earth
to spoil the well-ordered
plots of a barely adequate vocabulary.

It gets more complicated
with the thrilling misfits
and their sturdier notions
of choking life from inhospitable beds
poured and paved
to the detriment of meeker plantings.

Yesterday I met the peeks of ten
woody red stems poking through
a patch of chunky white gravel
spread thick between two
steel rails that fled to a horizon.

I watched the breeze
shake their candelabra arms
dressed in sparse leaves
and denser seed-packed sleeves,
and they welcomed it.

I'm not a botanist
and I can’t name these plants,
but I can admit, I admired them.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Skeletal boughs
picked bare
by a ravenous drizzle
twitch and unlock
the pitch-black passage
where departed glances glint,
slip back

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sweet charity

There's sweet charity
In her stare, his stone face feels
Cradled, not cudgeled

Friday, October 08, 2010

Hide and seek

One white dove hides
in the sheltering sighs
of a wind-battered willow

Her wander-lost love flaps on
buffeted but secure
in his searching

Have poems, will travel

Today, George Kokines' September 11 installation (with a different configuration, which the artist is excited about) moves down the road to the Elgin Academy, and I've been asked once again to read my 3 companion poems at the opening. If it's too far for you to travel, maybe you can arrange for the pieces to be exhibited closer to your town :).

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Sunflower daydream

I teeter
with this squirrel,
tiny toes dug in
a greening droop

We pick and sniff,
and choosy choose
which seeds to savor,
which let slip

On soil, they sweeten
while we float
aloof inside
a big black eye

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


One clamorous crest comes calling
after another
and they reach me with a quick
and bracingly unmelodic

“Rise and shine and meet me
in this glorified story,”
I’d hosanna back
if I could teachably know
the way of what befalls next
before the last
spray’s never-lasting say slips away,
chased off by a life-gobbling trough

I’ve over-measured their amplitude
yet again, and consequentially
an intermittent solitude
can’t be modulated below
the frequency of a here-piercing squeal

It should register lower,
like the guttural
and earthy murmurs
gurgling up from unknown hollows
beneath the twisty slops
dropped by my neglectful sink

Or like the howled curse,
the snarl and growl,
the bowels churning
of one garbage truck,
one dog,
one beggar
each on the prowl
and pursuing the other
beyond my unassailably seeing
how these sounds connected by me
could ever logically follow

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Food for nought

His humbling hustle comes
to its bustle-less part
not pulled
by sugar-feathered rasps,
an angel-food-cake wink,
or the egg-white of rustling coos
but pushed
into the beefsteak brusque
and husky, muscled hush
borne once, then ever after stewed

Monday, October 04, 2010

Mock Icarus

Hopping off-on
a sickly joke
of tarred and downy
breast beats, he robs
a green-frowned safety
its simplified gravity
to recover
boundless, blue-bleached
a sun-lit unforeseen
with nimbler pluck
than his ten-thumb plan's
busted-up doing

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Tempus fugitive

Cheating time, its hands
Caught wandering when's soft shouldn't
Flies off, unhandled

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A macabre courtship

Virtue circles her
well-trod grounds
leaving clues,
this residue
Death sniffs out
before donning
his rainbow mask
to bid her

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I. Sower

In the crinkled-up inkling of a question...

Cracked voices found me
as they fled throats full-
filled with a caked red dust

Their fleet pleas hounded me:
“Don’t forsake this stony ground.
Lay on patient hands

“Bone-hard, break it. Uproot
its thorns. Distract the birds
toward other pursuits”

I soaked in their shattering
chorus, then it fell – silence.
Someday my plants will come

II. Soil

In the lush crush of hushed hours...

The come-as-you-go wind came
and she scatter-rained
the sparkly seeds she carried

Maybe she had no plan, or
maybe the plan was to sow
her songs chaotically

Either way, she graced me
with one seed to grow. If I can
tend it ever so tenderly

Its complexity will push
through headlong to bear fruits
and miraculous perplex me

(Inspired by the Parable of the Sower, and a continuing conversation with a friend)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zero emissions: A lesson in sustainable poetry

I. Reuse

Weightless, I walked
through this darkly steep
and thorny thicket.
With each step, I passed
over a world of wrongs
not committed
if imagined
but razor-sharp
when limned.
They all bled me
till ghostly grey
I left no mark,
only the memorized
feint of pale words spoken
to and for no-one.

II. Recycle

If when lonely roving
thick-lined felt,
rashly I imply
in thin-stalk-fonted yap
we met before
while toeing separate parts
through oily lands
marred by
murky nickle mons,
do teach me
to spare my pitted foe
and deliver me
to dazzle-destined toll hall
where potent word-loss magic
wrings this soaked
throw of noughts

III. Reduce

i felt
to toll
of nought

This piece may need a little bit of an explanation as it's mostly an intellectual exercise. For Reuse, I reworked an old poem called "Weightless, I walked" (click the link above). For Recycle, I took all of the letters from Reuse and scrambled them to come up with new words. For Reduce, I did an erasure on Recycle, stripping it down to a few choice words (while keeping them in the same order).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Named drops

My "love" hung inert
When I blurted it, you winced
Then "we" plummeted.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gritty, take and give

Tide falls, quick
its woe not
gently receding
Freed, sludge-slow
a crescent muck smiles
wide as the foam goes

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Doing Christ one better

It’s not just bowed wood slats
singed till tar-black
on that bushel basket
keeping your brilliance pinned.
There are mediations of glass
and twirls of brass fittings
regulating its bold flame down
to dull orange glow.
Smash it all,
obtuse and obscuring.
Where will your light go?
To heavens and its birthing.

(inspired by the parable of the Lamp under a bushel, and a wish)

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Glad leaf, gracious host
Gave Not a small spot to rot
It's splotched with regret

Friday, September 24, 2010


Leaf-alit drop slips
To pause, stretch, then celebrate
Her cyclical thirsts

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Unsafe cloistering

Midnight's ghoulish howls
Rummage macadam rivers
Better pray elsewhere

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A sinful synaesthesia

When I said “I love you,” I lied
with a drifting and dreamy head
across the velvety sea
I imagined
resting and narrowly defined
in the nakedness
at the edge of your lap.

I have a history
of over-indulging
mixed-up senses.

I tasted the sight
of a gently curved nose.

I caressed the scent
of a lightly perfumed neck.

I’ll speak but not hear again
of the salty, savory, sweetness;
all bitterness has gone.

It’s not that I binged
so much as feasted
after a prolonged period
of self-deprivation.

And now I’m caught
between two urges:
To shave, to shear, to no longer
shabbily make shrift;
Or to revel
in the sloppy temptation
of recalling you.

Powerless I'll watch
the dissembling
tomorrow makes.

Before it comes, whisper-soft,
I repeat my mistake,
and unreliably say,
“I loved you.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Boring worm whispers
Through the soil's firmest clutching
This joy is release

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cold seeps

I would have posited longings ago
this short-shrift to-do over such a curt list undone
was inconceivable
the pages of deceptively practiced perceptions
published in a pop-up book smirk,
or beyond
the canary-yellow frames of a cartoonish
distortion relishing its mired but spongy giggles

lake sleeps implacably
at the bottom of an irascible ocean

Whatever it may,
you can’t deny the wantonly
watted life teeming pretty as it pleases,
untroubled by a hollow-core belief
or the extremest demands of our foul temper

How I could have,
if I’d only swallowed
those bubbled-up blurts
ring-wronging the tip of my wriggling tongue,
never been audibly
landed by one alluringly barbed certainty

There are supine bodies—
stagnant, quicksilver pure—
no material ship navigates
and no intentional intruder can swim
emerging atypically
unsettled by the caustic exposure

Tread lithely
when you go;
this shoreline bites.
Its clustered rocks will snap shut around you
after digging in below you with a protruding toe,
and its carmine stalks will sting you
as they writhe past you
to mime a part-less goodbye

Here be where
the monstrous cold seeps
and a hellish hot vents
in compliance with this centuries-old complaint:
too-short was the time we wept
for those wiggly wonders
we could have kept
if we’d only octopus-arm embraced
the inevitability of their bandy-legged escape

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hard learning

Listless parable travels
On a pebble's parabolic curve
Then its lesson hits, blah plunk

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Decayed leaf, damp soil
Whiffs of an oaken schism
Tween summer and fall

Friday, September 17, 2010


Paired wasps buzz its pond
Mate-less the bullfrog responds
An awful low croak

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the minute coming of His second, all hours turn to dusk

Who’s to say how
He might come back for a second
inhumanely heaped-up helping,
if we grant that immensity
of our assumption He did come
kingly first into this inside-
out size from a do-you-miss-me-
yet’s mirthfully mythical realm

I have seen Him
lurking in a particle-board fine
finish on the thin outer membranes
of our estranged and better faces;
He’s Higgs-boson omnipresent,
but far too theoretical
for our broadly practical, turned-
away gazes to rediscover

There He is now
rising in the favela’s gap-
toothed grins with fabulously naughty
corners this glee-pawed grandpa twists
using cur jests his nappy charges
imagine as flightless quarrels
grey-hooded pigeons would gaggle
were they over-stuffed on golden grain

And there again
on a Calcutta mound’s cluttered
conic end, smog-like He slowly lifts
with the crust-gnawed, razor-wire crimps
of a soup-can’s unconsummated lid
as dainty fingers crawl in toward
a gelatinous glob still clinging
to the powerful pretense it’s meat

And there once more,
conceding oms, He restless flickers
at the margins of blocky beige
Beijing screens as crisply clicked clacks
circumnavigate the darkling
smooth patches and spit-spark a few
conscious drips to squiggle out from
the babble of noxious red seas

Emerged, this welp
won’t toddle off to dribble-stain
the dressy linens of a made-up
nanny’s well-mannered and ornate
evil; it will curl up instead,
a swaddled yawn with no yearn to
suckle under His real mother’s
gaping wide and grungy bloused best

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blood XV: Satisfaction

At first sip blood's thirst
Swells toward destitution
Its curse fills oceans

(And thus it is concluded...)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blood XIV: Somnabulatory

This night drips sticky
Blood-soaked fingers, no telling
What things they'll cling to

(Only one more left of these, then on to other things...)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

9-11: Art, poetry and ritual remembering

Yesterday's debut of the September 11 paintings by my friend George Kokines at the Gail Borden Public Library was a big success. There's a nice piece of coverage on it at The Courier-News website, including a photograph of the Ground Zero piece (but ignore the characterization of the mixed-media pieces as a sculpture).

The library is a lovely building, and the organizers did a wonderful job of arranging the three pieces in the facility's rotunda. If the estimated 200 attendees hadn't been moved enough by the art, they were brought to their feet for a standing ovation after George's emotional description of the pieces and his experiences of the day that defines them.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sent along a declaration honoring the occasion, and after it was read, I got to recite my three poems that were inspired by George's paintings (Morning, our tomorrow; Saint Nicholas; and Silver Wings). Despite a mild case of nerves, I didn't trip over any lines.

I'd like to thank George for including me in such a special occasion, and Kate Burlette, Director of Library Experiences, who acted as emcee and created a nice display for each of the poems next to the corresponding paintings.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blood XIII: Amorous

Love crowds dingy streets
Once certain to bring blushes
Can the blood make room?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blood XII: Humility

Pride draws lines in blood
But finds with time its fiercest
Roars do diminish

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Blood XI: Circulatory

Blood travels all lengths
Clamor goads its stamina
Flush with flooding strength

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Flibberty Gibbeted

What is Flibberty Gibbeted? Well it's a play on the word flibbertigibbet, which Wiktionary defines as:
  1. An offbeat, skittish person; especially said of a young woman.
  2. (archaic) An imp, a fiend.
  3. A flighty person; someone regarded as silly, irresponsible, or scatterbrained, especially someone who chatters or gossips
Flibberty Gibbeted
It's also the title of a young and trimly figured volume of my poetry. This impish collection of 44 offbeat poems and a handful of flighty drawings puts an irresponsible spin on some classic tales and invents a few more originally scatterbrained myths along the way. The pieces are all informed by my skittish muse, the orange faerie, who can sometimes look a little fiendish, but her idle chatters are always enlightening.

The best news is, it's available right now as a free download, and if it captures a fancy for things concrete, there's also a paperback edition you can keep tucked under your pillow. Whichever version you prefer, you can use the same link to get it at


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Never underestimate the power of telling people what they want to hear

Our wilier webs
woven with the distractions of self-absorption
can come to feel
cheated if we use them
only for halfhearted games of catch
and eventual release.
He’d overlooked that part.
Then there was an obligation to prey
who so willingly strayed upon the taffy
pull of his sweet and sticky strands.
The scrunch up of their wee faces
squeaked, “We deserve
to have our glued-down expectations
met with a most gruesome expertise.”
He’d just wanted to watch them
struggle a smidge,
at first.
It was a test if this muscle the scribes
ascribe as rightly plagued by pangs
was in him
perhaps despicably defective.
With each tripper-by trapped
the examinations grew
more tortuously complex,
and when none raised even
the slightest murmur of a palpitation,
he gave the web its dripped-dry due,
at last.
“The murderous truth will out,”
they say. It did, monstrously.
Now his bound but gagless masques
are always well-attended.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Blood X: Sacrificial

Blood cut loose drinks in
A river's broad gulps to bend
Its will from plagued course

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Blood IX: Resurrection

Saps dry, no matter
Diverse blood lines, her deep taps
Break through cakey scabs

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Friday, September 03, 2010

A quantum vinaigrette over lightly mixed greens

With its sinuous green edge and its delicately
decorative white venation this dewy cress laid
on a fine crystal platter would fit well next to that
chunk of cement facade ensconced in a vitrine
at the Art Institute’s new Louis Sullivan exhibition
There’s little cause to wonder why these particular
atoms once afloat on inchoate seas and awash
in the hummed mumbles of humble vibrations
chose to decohere into this one captivating pattern
from among an infinite variety of mattered schemes
even limiting their choicest range to those paired
colors A tree frog for example its narrow lime toes
suctioned on a broad leaf and its watchful pearl
eyes misconfigured with a blind spot too soon
exploited by a beak spouted peril Or the gallant rider
in uniform myrtle and mounted atop an albino steed
who at a mirthless gallop through routed troops
delivers this message Mother I am so far away
from everything They’re oddly jarred couplings but
with any choice whether slapdash had or carefully
considered what’s our guarantee it will live up to
the iron of romantically clad expectations I have
heard It’s always the salad that gets you in the end

This week at Big Tent Poetry, Jill Crammond-Wickham suggested we gather up words from our everyday lives. I'm not much of an eavesdropper, but I did borrow vocabulary from some diverse sources: Wired magazine (decoherence, humble vibrations, vitrine, and inchoate); The New Yorker (slapdash and It's always the salad that gets you in the end); a cereal box (our guarantee); and Werner Herzog's film Kasper Hauser (tree frog, gallant rider, cress, and Mother I feel so far from everything). To see what words captured the attention of the other poets at BTP, click here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Whetting the appetite visually

Here are a few glimpses of the works in the George Kokines installation that will be unveiled next Saturday at 10am at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL. These pieces (in order, starting from the top, The Sky Above, Saint Nicholas and Ground Zero — all photographed by George in his studio) commemorate the events of 9/11, and inspired my three poems (Silver Wings, Saint Nicholas and Morning, our tomorrow), which I'll be reading after George's discussion that day.

Blood VII: Justification

Laws inflict strict harms
Causality's casualty
Raw emotion bleeds

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blood IV: Advisory

Wind shifts on a whim
Blood-chilled counsel, "push away"
Fades to gentler, "stay"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blood III: Predatory

Black-tipped wings beat back
Gray wriggling, vision of blood
Gabby gobs twist up

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blood II: Transubstantiation

That this blood could change
Not to wine, but water drops
Freed to feed parched earth

Friday, August 27, 2010

The degradation (and uplift) of advancing technology

It has every right to bare
this clenched fist of a grudge
embittered by techno-Jovian
whims and base transformations

Once delicately formed— two
tips pressed en pointe, three
others elegantly tucked— it
danced with a golden shaft
pulling indigo pirouettes
across a swept ivory stage

Then came the re-pose: a claw’s
arched looming. Unhappiness
fell as five wilted stems,
beggar mouths forced to fumble
toward those impoverished
humps of white-on-black glyph

The other hand is left
complimentary, richly gripped
by understudy glee, being
drawn from a hapless margin

Carolee Sherwood's prompt at Big Tent Poetry this week is to take a "hands-on" approach. I did a comparative study of my hand at work penciling a sketch versus pecking at the keyboard, and this is what resulted. The days of hand-writing poems are long gone, and there may be a wee metaphor in the retelling of the demise. Check out what the hands of the other BTP poets were doing this week here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blood I: Revelation

His blood spills secrets
Tangy trysts, lusts fed full red
A heart disordered

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Conversation with a pesky subconscious

My heart is a squishy stone
I toss out
across this green-gray gloss
mosquitoes skim
but the odds were always slim
it would skip with any vim given
its mix of bulges
and irregular beats
Let’s not mention that
surprising lack of heft
currently keeping it afloat
There it lies not quite flat
a maroon lily pad
I’ll lay piddling wagers
some nomadic creature
can make a home
Maybe the crawdad whose squeak
nothing like a fog-horn warns,
“Frog dress is on the marsh”
I swear I can hear
her bull groaning,
“The slippery bitch
can’t stay clothed”
Newly hitched
this bogged-down daddy’s got
a passel of polliwogs to feed
and he needs
the lean of her tender
slimy legs for support
The crickets and I
might inwardly snigger
but from such
small giggles bred
is the manly laugh of strife
and that’s when
my heart slinks slowly back

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Crazed eyes churn up, wash
away his watery calm
Salt-licked worries spray

Monday, August 23, 2010

To see...

When I saw her, I didn’t see
a girl who girlish wants
to laugh and dance and breathe in
the song of fall scents
the smiles of dainty sunshine
What I saw was a drumbeat
those questions I had to keep
flat-foot stomped down deep
or I’d blurt them out
the dozen how could’s
one hundred why would’s
and a lone what should
this girl do to make it stop
That’s when it finally did
and what I saw was me
uncovering my eyes

This poem is written for Brenda Warren's new site Prompts for G10. Brenda asked writers and poets to contribute to the discussions she will be having with the adolescents in her Montana classroom. The first prompt is to address two excerpts from the YA novel Firegirl.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Uncut memories

Mute grass remembers
One season when scythes didn't chew
Seeds glistened in dew

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rare pebble

Rare pebble, worn smooth
Takes bubbling dares, gives up murk
To gulp at crisp air

(with thanks to dearest human being for her inspiration)

Friday, August 20, 2010


My sins run cold, so
Hold me closely and scold me
I've told you, I'm old

Thursday, August 19, 2010

celebrating the superficiality of all things being made equal

let us join hands
you and i
and tramp down this falling away
road new paved with over-baked schemes
and the shattered
windshield glass from a dream car
we left for dead many miles back
every tire including the spare had blown
and they still hiss their casual tunes
while popped-out
flesh-tone hoses
dangle and sprinkle
a rainbow gloss on black-rimmed puddles
it’s a cause for deepening joy
these shallows won’t
dry up in either of our weened lifetimes
moisten your lips dear
and make that pineapple-sweet whistle
i love to taste
when i dare to plant my tongue there
the food’s long gone
and pots are now for banging
we’ve lost our way
and maps are made for shredding
into playfully themed streamers
we’ll tie in our hair
as we dance off the waning
silky heat of a too-late summer
the sun’s dial is flipping
and bound by those zeros
we’ve gotta go but it’s best
we’re brought low together

This week's Big Tent Poetry prompt is a wordle, that jumbled confection of vocabulary you can see pictured at right. It's a bit of a secret mash-up; the words were taken from an unrevealed but "well-regarded" poet's published poems, so check back in to the BTP site to find out who that was. I'm sure they'd be surprised to see their words put to this particular use :^).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Boredom drifts, no worth
Yielding eyes pry, floorboards creak
Cracks in his settling

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

a parable of incomparable talents

when I go
it will be
impossibly late
and I’ll leave you
not multi-talented bars
or pairs of randy ingots
itching to procreate
in a splendid explosion
of golden delight
what I’ll leave you is
a stale-air larder
filled just this once
by dully packaged thoughts
and duller feelings
when I have them
they could only couple
if enlivened with musical prodding
or the sigh effecting benefits
from hands full of mood-altering
so please yourself instead
and don’t
put them to any use
bury them deep
better yet
pile them high on Pyrrhic pyres
where the gathering scorch will send
down leaden puddles
while precious platinum curls rise
up to trickle trickster tears
my greatest possible reward


Horned owl ponders
Origins of specious sky
Calls without response

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Stained-glass wings shatter
This butterfly's carcass lies
Beauty's no trifle

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Age's road wends where
Why's get narrow; How's bend... point
When, he can't defend

Friday, August 13, 2010


What’s mine is
yours what isn’t
all his possessed cheap
and passed on
needle deeds to pour out
the thimbles-
full fitting
nimbly in the shallow
dimples of
a love’s distressed palm.

Its clutch of fare-
well will break
hers down to
beggared bits
so nebulous ours
can’t keep from
matters and oh how
theirs gets circulated

This week at Big Tent Poetry, Cynthia Short invites us to think about our possessions. I've been making a concerted effort to lesson my hold on physical matter, and this piece is an abstraction on possession rather than a focus on any one thing I may "own."

Thursday, August 12, 2010


He speaks speckled grays
Good days gone by tinged with sighs
Her missed spectacles

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

if i had wings, i'd spy

a man cloaked in dust bitten rays skip down the rude lit hall
as a voice calls to him run your fitful bow across my cracked
teacup mouth and draw forth a loosed leaf smile at first
i dismiss it as contrived twaddle one might hear in settings
where silk roses bloom on synthetic counter islands or
a cloth lily wrecks on its maiden voyage mid-way through
a copper sink’s bounded blue but cigarette tip joy burns
peep holes into my cottony resistance it’s a compact thrill
as dense as the peach pit my tooth struck to chip that once
such piquant frissons dissipate into damply aromatic trickles
when the man replies with a tartly rolled lavender bud ready
to burst its pink i’ve the heart of a wobbly kneed boy about
to pull back the tulle cloud on an auburn morn’s feathery
bathers petaled girdle strewn on the slippery rock path
leads up to her dewy lap where luminescent splayed fingers
lay printed hymns when ash trimmed logs fall from his fatty
lips i take the house sparrow’s hasty cue to flap a skyward
exit out from the bony white glow of his unfulfilling promises

At Rallentanda's blog this week, the POW prompt asks us to create a "spotlight poem" (one for which we'll have to answer to commenter's questions) based on 30 words she cleverly arranged on the back of the nude in Man Ray's famous photograph. Check out the other poet's spotlights to get in on the fun.

I don't know what to call this new form I'm playing within, but something about it appeals to me. I'm sure I'll get tired of it, but for now the freedom of these run-on lines feels like the wind's blasting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Tentacles unfurl
Soft ribs neath aqua-blue tent
Preyed upon's shelter

Monday, August 09, 2010

If the world could teach me, I'd sing

I've had this idea for a media project kicking around in my head for over a year now. The basic idea is to  collect art and poetry from a cross-section of the world's children addressing a single theme. For it to work, there would have to representation from all corners of the globe, and as many diverse cultures as possible.

Right now, the question I've settled on is, "If you could be any creature, real or imagined, what would it be?" (Although that's not final at this point.) The children would be asked to write and/or illustrate their choices with a short explanation.

I know it's an extremely ambitious idea, and to do it right would take a tremendous amount of effort and a good amount of time. I could "crowd source" the initial stages by having kids submit their art electronically to a blog or website, but that would potentially exclude a big demographic. Plus I'd like to find a way to personally visit these communities as much as possible. So, I think there would need to be a bit of both electronic and in-person solicitation for material. Ideally it would be coordinated through local school systems.

As a website, the project could be continually evolving, especially if it's built on an open-source content management platform such as Joomla, where contributors could post their material directly to the site. This would also make it possible to submit all types of media (images, video, audio, etc.).

I'm writing this post as a way to concretize my thoughts on the project, but also to get some feedback and/or suggestions (or even offers of assistance, if you're enthusiastic about the idea).


Salt and pepper lies
Can't disguise gouges he's made
Peculiar pecking

Sunday, August 08, 2010


He'd devise strong vows
Where she comes foremost, and stays
Words are too brittle

Saturday, August 07, 2010


In youth his might could
Brandish ponderous beyonds
Now here's weight crushes

Friday, August 06, 2010

It's merely evilution, my dears

that gurgling brown hunger you feel deep down it wasn’t you
god knows who put it there no it’s only natural it was she
who planted the initial seed grown up into a succulent leaf
frowning nature abhors a vacuum and she wouldn’t couldn’t
endear herself any more if you sustained such a saddeningly
blank space she’s given you the device for devising wickedly
clever ways of consuming it would be a godless shame
to leave the engine idling now what you eat doesn’t mean
as much as the act of eating itself actively naming god’s
creatures great small may not give you dominion or merit
ownership but ingesting them sure does dainty fingered
sentimentality lost her privileged place when steely
eyed invention serendipitously shoved a crappy cushion
throne up to your table’s edge it’s a divine and kingly right
to take your fill with hands nimbly fashioned for taking
all that’s managed eon after eon to crawl out of a world
engendering slime until there’s nothing left but the awful
runny pallid mucous you’ll sneak back to sated at last

This week at Big Tent Poetry, Deb Scott suggests stretching different poetic muscles. I tried to go "against type" (for me) with this unpunctuated, second-person, prosaic block of text. It's inspired by an article I read (The Scales Fall by Elizabeth Kolbert) about the collapse of fisheries in our oceans due to overconsumption. We're at the dawning of what biologist Daniel Pauly describes as the Myxocene epoch in which the seas will give forth only inedible slime.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


His full, moony face
spins on thin neck, reflecting
bright passerby smiles

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cicada's siren

Cicada's siren
whirs its wayward directions
Crashing waves of heat

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Estos Huesos Hermosos

Still he stalks that road in Andalusia
siempre esta noche
19 Agosto

A bleached-back beast
who plays at fat habits
and gorges at ragged bone buffets
while a wobbly, hobbled silence lifts
then bounds from mound to mound

Their gently dusted humps
eulogized by one faint sound:
an insistent insect hum

Cantan las moscas,
“Aquí están
los desaparecidos”

Seventy four years ago
esta tierra roja
had a terrible thirst

First, she slurped peppery blood
Then, she chewed their salted flesh
Then, she ground down their swollen organs
Lastly, she swallowed
their still tender names
and spit up
a gray welt of trunks to replace them

Aquí, aquí, aquí
he digs, gouging out from the deformed,
hardened bellies what remains he can
to pretty himself with
the discard of another worn-out piece

Perhaps he’ll take our splendid poet’s smoothed ribs
or the natty newspaperman’s polished hip
or that meddling mayor’s sturdy jaw

His parts always need changing, but
los años perdidos
filled so by unchecked appetite
offer no shortage of substitutes
estos huesos hermosos

I got an early start on this week's Poetry on Wednesday prompt, where Rallentanda asked us to take inspiration from the Spanish. August 19, 1936 was the date that Federico García Lorca was summarily executed by Nationalist militia in Granada. The exact whereabouts of his remains (and those of others who were "disappeared" during the Spanish Civil War) is still unknown.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Clepsydra dribbles
bead-moments he can't recall
One life's time dripping

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Pesty he sputters
indeterminate, too kind
Thick ooze trails behind

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Let there be sound...

I'm experimenting with embedding audio files on the blog. If the player doesn't work, the mp3 is available here. This one is of me reading my recent poem Saint Nicholas. The sound quality isn't great (I need to invest in a better microphone), so you may have to turn your speakers up a bit.


Life line dips shallow
With this sharp knife's tip he'll carve
his palm an asset

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lessons in allocentrism

Into our fun house of mirror neurons,
a favorite Fellini character strides
distorted perhaps,
but reflected clearly enough,
none the lesser for our wear.

Who is it? Which one?
It’s truly hard to decide.

It could be that brute Zampanò,
his chain unpopped,
and as ever demanding our attention...

Or the cypher, Steiner,
teetering on edge
to tell us his secrets...

Or a voluptuous
la Saraghina,
reveling in our riveted eyes...

Or gentle Giulietta,
chasing her voices,
their whispers that echo ours.

It doesn’t matter who, in the end.
Better yet, let’s take them all,
and crowd them close in.

What matters is,
we ask they try
a seeming simple task—
touching tongue to nose,
or elbow to chin—
and we watch
their attempts, together.

Strive and fail.
Strive and fail.
Strive and fail.

These are the Sisyphean rhythms
we’ll need to learn.

We have our limits,
but empathy is endless.

In this week's Big Tent Poetry prompt, Jill Crammond-Wickham asks us to imagine pop culture icons in a mundane setting. I'm sure what I find iconic might not measure up as "pop" and my mundane is always quite mental, but Fellini and a fun house seemed a natural fit for exploring some neurological concepts.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Morning, our tomorrow

What we were once, two words,
we are no more, taken in

When ten sticky layers absorb
the shadows of our predecessor shapes.
Purple bruises bleed through
the buried steel

Where one-hundred shouted
stories slid down into
a waiting mouth of obtuse angles.
Vague numbers now,
we follow, ask

How one-thousand labors
couldn’t gird us against not-
birthing gusts, their reverse alchemy,
aching to prove

Why countless precious lines
could turn testily from true
geometry’s parallel path, and seek
an improbable calculus of chaotic drips,
those splats that trace a figure

Who in the flash of flame
realizes his distinctions
have lavishly become

Our tomorrow will know
what our today’s forgotten.

This is the last of the trio of pieces I wrote to accompany my friend George Kokines' installation of 9-11-themed pieces, which is to be exhibited at the Elgin public library in September. I wrote this thinking of the iterations the painting went through, its previous versions invisible but still lurking underneath, and how that's a metaphor for so much of the past that we pretend doesn't exist but always informs our present and future. If you missed the other two poems, they are Silver Wings and St. Nicholas.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

After Beckett, Words Fail

Better or worse?
Maybe if you massage it a bit...
You’re beyond help’s reach.
I could squeeze it till numb, and it’d still be worse.
When did it start?
When will it stop?
You’ve got no answers?
I’ve only got questions.
Questions start the ball rolling...
I’d like it to stop.
First, try to start.
I’ll start tomorrow.
Would that be better?
No, worse.

I didn't do a very good job of writing to this week's Poetry on Wednesday prompt. Rallentanda posted two music clips: Martha Argerich performing Bach on piano, and Anoushka Shankar playing sitar while accompanied by a violinist. Such music tends to set my mind wandering (a dangerous thing), and the latter struck me as a kind of conversation. Having spent the past week immersed in Samuel Beckett plays (there's a wonderful 4-DVD set called, originally enough, "Beckett on Film," which includes his 19 plays), this dialog is what popped out. It's derivative and not very deep, but it succeeded in its mission to amuse myself. There's a musicality to Beckett's language, which I admire greatly.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


If you asked me what
it is I miss most from
an easy moving childhood,
I’d answer with the simple
toss of a pebble into thick
summer air, like we did at dusk
to trick the echo-location of bats,
and watch them twist,
circle, dive after the false
apparition of a meal.
Far from ideals, in a white-
nosed now, their winged numbers are
receding as quickly as
those innocent days when
a small stone felt like it
could work big magic.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Squiggly dust

Eye finger-pried wide
he awaits sky's drop, to cleanse
aged film's squiggly dust

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vain wishes

There's one pin-prick light
If I could wish it to move
it might prove... lucky

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Spider slides down sly
thread from flower-cup fixture
Spry when food happens

Friday, July 23, 2010

Saint Nicholas

How do they call you,
those who’ve passed through unmarked
twin doors for the shy
side of one century?

Is it as Nicholas
of Myra,
or of Bari,
or as an unlocated saint,
working wonders in
this home of trim white-stone
block, with three tiers of black-
arches, frowning up at
the merciless
grids behind?

Rows, rows, rows, they float
on glassy, steel-blue oceans,
and these oceans will fall in
waves unlike any with foam
caps that once lapped
the rocky coast of lost Lycia--
your see
our maps don’t contain,
and our licit hosannas won’t reach.

Who are they?
Who pray here?
all whose sighs
rise with the torrent of immigrant chants
liaison rafters
fracture in echo-song,
the old coinage that plies your favor.

To which patron can they turn
when your cross crowns not
the work of masons
but one day’s
a tongueless bell,
the charred
relics of unnameable acts?

This week at Big Tent Poetry, Carolee Sherwood suggests we use a favorite poem. Often, when I get stuck, I'll return to a work I admire for inspiration and perhaps an idea on how to move forward. That was the case for the above piece, which is the second of three that I hope to recite at a friend's upcoming art exhibition. The poem that helped me with it was The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Tall grass blades, stout friends
lend him sympathetic ears
Words of wilting, drought

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Three minds

I am of three minds—
an un-whole trinity
built by ghostly id,
god-sick conscience,
and one son of never-
virginal egos—
interlocked inside
a mortal’s spirited,
head-in-head conflict.
To the fabulous free
goes my prized heart’s
spoiled meat. Cooked rare,
its fetid, red juices
run in all directions.

For this week's Poetry on Wednesday prompt, Rallentanda asks, What's on your mind? My minds are on my mind, all three. This was sparked by my drawing of the same name, and my friend Eileen's suggestion that it be put to words.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Partners in limits
Pleasure-bound mind blocks body's
painful messages

Monday, July 19, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Collision Course

Wipe away that image of
beating butterfly wings

and the currents they send across
great continents.
See instead, you and me

arranged on the same vast
plate — two irregular green peas
rolling around the nucleus of a split pod.

Even if we don’t meet here and now —
snagged by an intervening fork,
set off course by rivulets of gravy,
separated by marbled slabs of meat,
or consumed by a gravity-defying, black-
holed gob — somewhere
on parallel, fine-clothed
tables, we’ll savor the joy of
big-banged, trajectory-altering collisions.

At Big Tent Poetry this week, Nathan Landau suggested we dabble in steganography. Mine isn't a very challenging code to break. Each stanza represents a word. Each line contains one letter in the word, and the line's number indicates where to look for the letter (counting from the left, and ignoring spaces and punctuation). I wouldn't have made a very good cryptologist.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


He hunts for the blunt
Sworn words once used to capture
fading attention

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Making positive use of a double-negative on Bastille Day

He couldn't
not take off
the backward cap
that hides
his tousled hair
as he pulls back
the high-backed stool
he'll perch himself on
next to
this unfamiliar beauty.
He couldn't
not accept the bourbon
shot, a pert bartender
offers to keep
his pint company
and lend him
extra courage.
He couldn't
not exchange
an inquiring smile
then a glib remark
about the heat
and the sudden
appeal of dank taverns.
He could
watch her
small gestures for hours
and never
lose interest.
The way
alabaster fingers
tease auburn hair,
they pull at his longing
for a moment
they'll land to still
his right hand
nervously tapping
so useless against
the emptied glass.
He couldn't
guess where
it all might lead,
but he couldn't
not take the chance
it might,
Her accent
sounds French,
and it is Bastille Day.
Anything's possible,
n'est-ce pas?

It's Bastille Day, and the Poetry On Wednesday prompt this week gets us in the proper spirit by suggesting a sprinkling of French and some mimicry of the poet Jacques Prevert. My piece is more Francophile than French, but I did retain enough from my high school studies of the language to understand Prevert's Desjeuner du Matin in the original (with a little help from the translation).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Late summer's stroll

There’s a sidewalk here,
the city has poured,
cemented with smooth
and perfect squares.
It leads to all
the usual places,
only altering when
at last it crumbles.

There's also the rough-
cut route I’ll walk,
taking Aeolus
by his shaky hand
to stroll where moths mingle,
dandelions dance, and
destinations giggle
tickled by our setting suns.

This is my contribution to the dialog my dear friend human being is having on her blog Thus Spake the Crow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Silver Wings

Should stolen silver wings make soft
cutting of glass and steel...

Should thumbs of clouds smudged red and gold
stop watchful gulls mid-dial...

Should broad-shouldered blue shed brave skin,
then feverish crumple...

Should there ever be a morning
when grey snow falls on warm
September sidewalks, and brings us
no damp or cool
but the burning
silence of five thousand throats... how
could I write that canvas?

This is a poem I'm working on as a companion piece to a painting by my friend George Kokines, which we hope will get exhibited as part of an installation this September 11.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


It's a vain effort
To re-member past selves torn
apart hastily

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Putting an end to this bad pun, There’s no I in steam

I like to visualize my death
not as a grand moment
fraught with TV-script intimations
at sudden illumination
while I’m encircled by a non-weepy
sprinkling of the usual types:
one surviving relative
curious to see what I’ve got
left to inherit; one forgotten
friend dubious I hadn’t
died quite some time ago;
and one vengeful stranger
anxious for the shock
when I hear her unmask.
No, I envision my death simply
as the lonely release
of a hardly noticeable puff,
its minute droplets lifting
to mix with every other
ever breathed, and bid adieu
to my residue of befuddling
puddles flecked with unresolved bits.

This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry takes inspiration from The Love-Hat Relationship by Aaron Belz, asking us to take a common phrase and make it "go a little sideways." There's no better cliché to send off-track than a sports cliché.