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