Monday, May 31, 2010

Heat's due

Wrapped in his own arms
he shakes, defying the breeze.
Heat's due any day.

This was written just before the heat arrived here in Chicago. We may yet get another short cool spell before summer takes hold.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


A plume should be a thing lovely and light
dancing violet as it's fanned
at the flanks of the blue
who hangs limberly
to solicit a mate

It should curl
blinding white at the back
of the puffy Samoyed
prancing fancy to please a master
who also preens on the oval
of a sawdust track

It should flop
red at the top of gold-painted tin
helmet awry on the head
of an aspiring actor
who plays centurion for tips
outside a mobbed Colosseum

It should spray
as clear and cooling drops out
the copper mouth of a grass-snake
green hose uncoiled by
the sneaky dad who tickles
giggles from sweaty kids

It should flutter
gray at the tail end of a quill
bouncing to the frenzied
jottings of an anachronistic
frump who takes the pain to outfit
himself far too seriously

A plume should not be a thing of plague
riding currents kissed by taint-
sweet crude blasted from a wound
gouged in the crust
of a frigid deep to feed
our shallow lust for eases

It shouldn't choke

It shouldn't muck

It shouldn't tar

It can't help
poisoning that last pretense
we cared about anything,
be it plumed or not, but
the finality of
a bottom line

We Write Poems posted an announcement from Poets for Living Waters calling for work related to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. I wrote this in response to that, but I'm not sure yet whether I'll submit it (pending a possible re-write).

Fledgling eyes

Six fledgling eyes stare
out from willow's feathered shade.
Flying's not safe yet.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Stray Eros

Aphrodite's kid
could've handled this
if eons ago
he hadn't wandered off
pining for his precious Psyche.

Where that leaves you and me
today is exploring
the grocery store aisles.

Oysters, sure.

Dark chocolate,
even if it's not.

Saffron would,
at minimum,
put my nose in the mood
for some
hay-scented rolling.

Celery? Really,
it doesn't do much for me,
but whatever
floats your dote, dear.

Treats unsacked, we may grasp
that the chemical boost's
no ha-ha joke
but romantic love could be
based on such practical tricks
to keep our DNA churning.

This poem is written for Big Tent Poetry's Week 4 Prompt, taking the aphrodisiac as its subject matter. It's always struck me as strange that someone would need an assist from food to get in the mood, because if you're not motivated by love then truly what's the point (except procreation).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The madness of a hatter-less hat (POW Prompt 4)

It might be the pungent steam from a pot
steeping herbs meant to bend its sippers'
minds to potent effect, or an unanticipated
digestive reckoning from that mawkishly flavored
brand of store-bought paste they pass as butter.

However the dough arises, their collective
recollection of storied events, lengthwise sliced
and ritually rehearsed, hops facilely on the hump
of a bucking and overtly nonsensical wind.

Tea parties with slippery perspectives
have been shown quite clinically to induce
heightened sensitivity in participants,
so it's prudent to set about tidying the facts:

The hatter, it's become clear, shifted one place
too many and disappeared with a trace -- leaving
behind his hat to nobody's great advantage.
Lacking a wearer, the headgear's reputation for
producing madness has rapidly diminished.

The march hare pulls off his change in a very
separate and seasonal way: the bunny's
bottom half somersaults its top to occupy
both his spot and the hatter's vacated seat.

The dormouse upon its latest arousal
is re-visioned to be small, but not much mouse
at all. He's plush with the long-in-the-ear habit
of a pink stuffed rabbit, which the crusading hare
furiously declares is most curious, casting
doubt on the vermin's commitment to "no room."

Alice remains foremost in tact and is given
a bonus of two spare feet complete with slackened
bootstraps. She keeps them and her other luxury
items well-sheltered behind a stout table leg.

The absentee hatter doesn't dare shame her
with a radio-show call-in decrying
the waste. She's generously agreed to
cover the medical expenses from his firm flop.

This piece is written for the Poetry on Wednesday Prompt 4 and inspired by the painting "Feet Beneath The Table" by Charles Blackman (pictured above). There may or may not be a political metaphor at work here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thorny ends

Locust laughs sweet 'n last
as loose-scrupled invaders
meet its thorny ends

Monday, May 24, 2010

Crime story (the demise of the newspaper industry)

The mighty Chicago Tribune got hit last night.

Well, its newspaper box did,
only one picked from a sidewalk-consuming
row of four corner mainstays
to suffer that indignity of toppling.

I found it this morning, blue-
and-white face down, fifty feet further on, and
eating pushed-up daisies from
the commuter rail's prairie-grass embankment.

It couldn't tell me those dead-man
tales of daily mischief's end, but graffito-
tagged its side did sigh, "Someone
feels my news ain't got the values it used to."

This poem is based on a true story, but I didn't bother to change the name as there is no innocent.


Knifing cloud severs
my eyes from strife's horizon.
I'll throb in its calm.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Missing My Miss Sadie

I wrote this as a song for my friend Alicia's dog who was pretty sick recently, but I am in no way capable of putting it to music. Any musicians out there want to give it a try?

My miss may not be expensive, but
she's worth this world's unfolding to me
On bitter days and drearier nights,
her apricot smile's always at my side

She's furrier than some may like 'em
yet when her wag drags it takes
me down with its droop, and that's why
I'm missing my Miss Sadie

She's got an easy-and-gone temper.
There's no bit o' bite in her polite bark,
just a fine fondness to be pampered
and I'm happy to indulge all her whims.

She's furrier than some may like 'em
yet when her wag drags it takes
me down with its droop, and that's why
I'm missing my Miss Sadie

She got sick, now it's me that's hurting,
and while she's away doing another
kind of healing, I'm waiting here for her,
my poor missed Sadie, to come on back.

She's furrier than some may like 'em
yet when her wag drags it takes
me down with its droop, and that's why
I'm missing my Miss Sadie

Figure eight

Figure eight lies plumped
with sideways dreams of being
infinitely summed

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Days fold, weeks collapse
Then, her broad smile intrudes
re-inflating hours

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mix me a fixer upper

He's part artist, part alchemist,
but a full-on con, self-professed with post-
graduate degrees in mixology
and the god-given sense to know which
smoldering home remedies will catch fire
(give or take an occasional legal glitch).

His healing pitch is grifted on the easy
comparison of queasily lowered brows to
their indistinctly raised betters. You'll doff
the scoffing face as he pulls back a masking
caparison, and your fever gallops hotly
hoof-in-mouth with an uncontrollable itch.

Tinctures, colloids, salves and potions,
they all have twisty caps, blithe boxes
bubbling over with hypnotic patterns
fashioned to cure your urge to avoid
his futility. First'll come the fondle, then
the crumple followed by purse strings loosening.

Don't consider it capitulation.
His assortment of fluid manipulations
bear a singular branding at 100 proof,
and after the recommended daily dosing
(two jiggers with each meal), you'll feel
you're homo erectus made sapient.

This poem is written for Big Tent Poetry's Week 3 Prompt, and marks the return of the beloved "Wordle" — that jumble of challenging vocabulary you see pictured at right. I managed to get all the words into the narrative.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


bulbous fruit by thin,
brittle stem suspended, sweats
a little suspense

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Impure Imagination

Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka once asked me
to step into a world
of pure imagination
and I danced to his voice
of sugary imperfections.
The swelling strings drizzled
on top falsetto inflections
captured me childishly
with candy-coated attentions

But even the finest chocolate melts,
and I learned to let purity be
pushed by treacly lyrics
or stern midgets secure
in their fudge-topped zealotry.
It sifts too pretty for me,
powdering my grown-up
infatuations with petty
wants, getting a little messy

What I crave instead's stained-glass contraptions
to propel me past the stretches
of biblical proportion
where light and dark don't mix.
I'm no Idiot, good-hearted
in the veins of Fyodor
or Akira, and I can't see
beyond the pure tedium
of a blurredly driven snow

I like my mental drifts grime-choked and splotched
with some savory do
dropped in to dissolve flossy
confections to a salted soup
of imagined impurity.

This poem is written for We Write Poems prompt two: Singer, Sing me a Song. The music behind the madness is "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka. Click the link in the poem to hear it, but be warned you may not be able to get it out of your head for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fruit of a Bizarre Love Triangle (POW Prompt 3)

If I hedge thus a drooling wager and cash
in on my thrice-foiled cravings for her over-due bites
(plus a guilt-free laugh at his expense), I can
use minced steps to sidle around too-lively
trunks, and avoid the need to heed thugs
barking mad from within their crevice-laid traps.

How those bug-eyed brutes'll clamor and claw at me
to discard this protective wrap, clued in by my rep
of never bending willfully to anybody
but her. "Come on, shed! Get, uh, new set of scales,
for you we will -- promise!" is how she'd stammer,
roughly translating their not-so-twee chatter,

if she were there. Rather, in that lavishly apt way
she has, she'll be off picking suitable pelts
to adorn her newly uncovered, quite-public shames
while fending away an advancing clod, who won't go
easily, but who does go on ad nauseam with
a penchant for naming every God-damn thing

that haps vitally across his cocky path. Beyond
a simple relish of mischief, I'm doing this (mostly)
for her benefit. How could a persimmon
be forbidden, as if he had permission to make
such bargains? He's dismissed it as an ungainly fruit,
and mocked its likelihood to "lava thy lips"

with an orange pulp, but in that chance smattering lies
the matter to inflame my soul. I'll feed her
the pudding-fresh flesh, stripping it down
to its delectably small seeds, and in their splitting
I'll glean the silvery utensils to spill
a man's wholly worthless future. Let's tuck in.

This piece is written (a little ahead of time) for the Poetry on Wednesday Prompt 3, and it will require some explanation. A passage from a Ted Hughes poem, in which he describes tasting a fresh peach at 25 (click the link to read it), was the initial inspiration, but my mind wandered into the realm of forbidden fruits and somehow interjected a persimmon into an alternate history of the Garden of Eden told from the serpent's point of view. Note that colored phrases in the text indicate anagrams I used for Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.


Jostling smaller birds,
the jay joins his feeding mate.
They'll jabber of hawks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Silt blessings

River gives her silt
blessings to blacken one hand.
Heads bow low in praise.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Rude virus bursts in
to make itself, flop-sweat home.
No apologies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


The raccoon snickers
at snobs who snub such morsels
above starvation

Friday, May 14, 2010

Infinite potential of a finite mind

Sidestepping shadow-plays
boxed in bonus-sized portions
for garden-varietal religions,
I've had these scuzzy intimations
great big (voids) lie behind
most altruistic inclinations
and the biggest news is,
we're still expanding
with-in-exhaustible potentials
to be eternally filled greater.

Now I'll admit to being
hampered in my cognitive
capacity for meaningful
pattern recognition
by my debilitating
predisposition toward
concentrated forms of myopia,
ergo, I can't shape
a formless mess into anything
but incoherent flimflam.

I've tried alleviating this
condition with meditative
concoctions and palliatives
of sensory deprivation,
yet I fear I'll need
a silicon-chip-enhanced head
before I can glimpse
the cosmic legerdemain spinning
its paradoxes of endless
surfaces but no top.

If I finally do, I'll smile big
as a great-white gull winning
his first demonstration hand at
the three-card monte of not-to-be
reconciled contradictions.

This poem is written for Big Tent Poetry's Week 2 Prompt, and was inspired by the March 7 episode of Philosophy Talk on Infinity. The suggestion was to only use three to six words overheard, but I think I ended up using as many as a dozen here. I'm a philosophy nerd.


That wave of hanky
hints at kinky, her hinky
lipped invitations

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Unwary firefly
transmits its radiant notes.
Love can't be cautious.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jonesing for Alternative Currencies (POW Prompt 2)

I've been thirsting to burst your bubble since
I heard the low-down we may be over-
supplied with a green-backed bird called Money,
that trollop spread-wide by aliases

A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound
A buck or a pound, a buck or a pound

To a layman's ears unlearned in the fine-
tuned registers of glib-tongued financiers,
it may ring up as reason to cheer with
no tinkling of trouble, but if Money

Is all that makes the world go around
that clinking, clanking sound
(they do say)

She sings, clangs a bit hollow when she clings
too heavy in alms of poorly wrung hands,
it's then well-heeled sit'n spins'll turn us about
to the golden-gapped beams of bankers mouths

For Money makes the world go around
The world go around, the world go around

And will till johns who hold little put less
stock in the tart pitches of slick-macking
daddy Street with his tricky fat pay backs
for the ounce of love he's flouncing to sell.

This piece was inspired by the Poetry on Wednesday Prompt 2. We were supposed to use as a model an Elizabeth Smart poem in which she combines a Biblical Psalm and a police report. I tried to mix a financial report and lyrics from Cabaret (in italics), but the economics got mixed up by the fun bits and ended up a little compromised.


Waves whisper to sand
a grand alliance, withdraw.
Resistance erodes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Checking My Box of Almost Never

They're piled in an Amazon box of almost never-
(that is, all not-quite not-ever-
but sometimes twice- and most often a mere once-)
worn clothes destined for another,
bigger green metal box proclaiming itself
charitably fashioned for such donations
as these nearly pristine shirts,
jeans and sweaters that have only those holes
their makers intended but still lack the want
I've wasted for arms, legs and torso to fill them.

What they don't have is shabby stitches
or those counterfeit claims mocking
a public thread-lust for luxury labels,
but they are mild misfits of the well-meant
gift or of my poor-choice selection
and they carry an ill-suited look,
whether it's fleeced too loose and loud,
or flanneled too bold and blousy,
or otherwise woolly with any too fuzzy
je ne sais quoi that puts me off.

Too's had grown too many as if the clothes bred
while tucked in nice 'n cozy at backs of drawers
rarely drawn or stacked sleepy on the bottom
of a closet's clutter-topped shelf,
and if proved it would be a miracle
on par with Christ's gospel-touted cloning
of the loaves and fishes, but it's not,
so I can't compare my parlor-trick sharing
of two dozen hand-me-downs carelessly passed-on
to his magic of multitudinous feeding.

After all, the real comparison is,
I could have accomplished even more
than this speculative giving,
had I been retrospectively better
in my retroactive accounting
and made the significantly less sinful
omission of never (not just once or twice,
but actuarially quite not-ever)
accumulating so much always
not-needed, however tasteful, stuff.

Another new poetry site, another new prompt. This one comes from We Write Poems, and tasks us with writing about boxes. I wrote this while battling a head-cold, so if it's more of a ramble than usual I have the excuse of diminished concentration.


Perusing her palms
etched with dry gullies, she finds
some answers won't flow

Monday, May 10, 2010


She's not the sort of
consort you'd call devilish,
but her kiss does burn.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


"Death be not proud" ... but
it should be, speaking all tongues
with perfect accents

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Savoir Faire

He lacks savoir faire,
savoring favors granted
by coarse-mannered louts

Friday, May 07, 2010

Bred to a Circus, I'm not

From that moment the mouthy man in the middle,
top hat in hand, barks and waves our three floodlit rings
into motion with a flourish of brassy blasts,
the big top gets turvy and my stomach's all nerves
making the bushel of peanuts I just munched feel
like broken glass chewed by my friend the tattooed geek.

Martha says, Elephants are supposed to be more
dignified... don't mope! It is hard to grasp for her
tail day after daisy-chained day when I'm holding
this bouquet of forget-me-not rubber-banded
by a grudge. I tell her, The real indignity's
being dressed in a rhinestone-studded satin cape.

This poem was written in response to the new site Big Tent Poetry's Prompt #1. Keeping with the Big Tent theme, we were supposed to write a persona poem based on the circus. I'm a sucker for misfits and animals.


His breath can't compete
with wind's complete abandon.
A birthday wish blows.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


One goat's load: bucket
of woes; but their source spills on,
long after its scape

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Poetry on Wednesday (POW): Vita's Dance

It's a common trope,
the Danse Macabre that troops us
toward hushed tombs.

Blame its plague on Wolgemut
or Bruegel (Pieter the Elder),
and certainly Bergman

What with his iconic black-clad Death
and the parade of captive players taken
hand-in-hand on a joyless march.

But Life has her own fleet moments to lead,
and these flip-flop pageants though ragtag
are not the less enriching to behold

Or so I'm told in passing by
the delicate bluebell peaking its buds through
a monochrome rubble.

This poem was written for the POW Prompt #1 based on a photo collage, which you can see by clicking through the link, but after its evolution it bears only a tangential relationship to the inspiring image.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


If you could bottle
this night, it would smell of dead
alewife, moldy bread

Monday, May 03, 2010

What love becomes, when you think too much

To concretize my theorized love,
I could play the accidental odds and strew
slippery tongues of spotted petals
onto thickly trafficked highways,
or use the best predictive modelling
to deduce when and where I can poke out
a well-heeled boot to trick unwary spills
and snatch a kiss from the unsuspecting
lips of any suitably compatible
passerby oft times inconvenienced and passed
on by.

These well-oiled and crudely experimental
methods do produce expected results,
but not the breakthrough nor the looked-for
satisfaction of appropriate reactions,
so I'll keep my dotted eyes tucked in
their pulpy stems and my shoddy toes curled back
while I beam my bits of invitation through
circuitous routes spatially arrayed along
parallel paths where one might search
with an extra-terrestrial inventiveness,
and wait.

I know the trials of these errant waves
won't add up to a guarantee
my burpy blips of a pulse can reach
the receptively comprehending and responsive
soils I seek, but it's the remoteness of a stead
to come stalking that appeals, and despite
the Hawking drone of unveiled warnings
I might regret such contact, I'll risk it all
on vaguely washed wishes this astronomical
anomaly with an alien sensibility has
one match.

My mind processes information in strange ways, a fact you've probably noticed if you've visited this site before. I often have lines come to me in my sleep and "slippery-tongued petals" was one of these, though don't ask me why. The oil spill in the Gulf has been weighing heavily on my thoughts, and that crept into my language here. Plus there's a reference to Stephen Hawking's strange caution against alien contact thrown into the mix to add a little flavor.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Solicitous snail
finds fondness for brevity
requires contraction

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Stars peer

Have you ever thought,
It's the stars that peer from night
and search, for our eyes?