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