Monday, January 31, 2011

Jurt, she (or, how I take inspiration from word verification prompts)

Jurt, she
curtly spurts out
and stops
not knowing if
she’s going to
continue to
speak unknown tongues
or if
this emanation, this
spoken on strange
is Icelandic
or Bosnian
or Serbian,
and if
the middle one
how not the last,
when they both mean
the same thing, Yurt.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Orbital fantasy

Not all tilts are
quizzical ... some ponder
with a dull ache to shake
elliptical pulls and escape
guilt-free ... where jilted straits
spin beyond her

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I pal around with a drone

I pal around with a drone
who hums honied palindromes
home to his hive. "Wed did I?
Never even I. Did dew?"
He'll buzz as he dives from view.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Prayer of this never-sainted Francis

Lord, if you exist and have ears
(neither of which
proposition is entirely clear yet),
let’s make a deal.
(I know prayers ideally aren’t
supposed to involve bargaining,
but this is really a poem
so I’ve got some wiggle room to niggle.)
Bring a little peace to these instruments
who call themselves your kids,
and I swear by all things you deem holy
(since you made everything,
I guess that’d be the whole shebang)
to give myself up to your wills and won’ts.
Of course you’ll have to clue me in
where there’s a Will,
(the won’ts are pretty well covered)
whether buried in endless musts
thrust thus by musty books,
or hidden in plain-sighted laws
governing the broadest range of spirals
from when the first shoot knows
it’s time to poke its budding nose
above an earth that’s lost the frosty bite
to when our yellow dwarf explodes
and grows a giant with nebulous arms
stretching outward to catch its dying breath.
(I’d cast a vote for the latter,
but my still-small voice has long been
to the far reaches, outnumbered.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Small revelations need no deathbed

considering how
I watch a considerable number of films
at least one most days
when those days aren’t too demanding
though the films mostly are
confined to my laptop screen
trips out to the theater being savorably rare occasions
it’s not a complete surprise
I might jumble things
now and again or is it then
misgiving an actor’s given name
transposing disposable plot points
but how could I confuse a film’s coloring
and transport its content to a another continent and time
first I should retrace my missteps
worst foot forward back to the trailer I see-saw
hyphens mask bigger blanks than I imagined
I remember paying half my mind to coming attractions
coming too many before a full-priced feature
I’d rarely occasioned out to see
some do come to attract my attention
it began with a pretty girl
they pretty much always do
she waltzed through frames clearly drained to black-and-white
then the same girl still pretty sitting atop a horse-drawn waggon
it put an older period to the piece’s full-stop
hop skip and jump a week
later to a movie reviewed on crisp pages
I hold up against my dog- eared mental note
its flap obscuring all but the letter W
deduction is a wonderfully productive art
agile assumptions can work the nimblest tricks
but my convenient leaps inelegantly escaped a niggling
dissonance to connect this pair of widely ranging narrow dots
a girl and a jagged shape
it’s how I came to mistake Winter's Bone for White Ribbon
months later I’d see the error of my daze gone by
and this stubborn pig of a world with all its pigments restored.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The names I whisper are always imaginary

I’ve known
several women with the same simple name,
but this morning she’s the one who came
to mind.
I whispered it softly –
her name – just once
(I wouldn’t repeat it),
and you didn’t –
you couldn’t – know
the same name held clinging
dirty-blond curls,
the interrupted curve of a bitten lip,
the upturned twitch of a switched-on nose,
a sparking flame at the center of midnight eyes.
Did I make it all up,
what I saw
when I whispered
this same name...
what I saw
when I whispered it,
your name,
just once?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Paradise (POW)

Paradise is small–
our own small version
of everything.

Everything given–
the cool sea,
the shaded sky,
the windy fields,
the high fig,
had been
had been
had been.

A long, clovered pause within,
and the sweet heat of should

“We held more than this...”

For this week's POW prompt, Rallentanda asked us to use the following passage from George Johnston's novel "Clean Straw for Nothing":
...we had been given our own small version of Paradise...everything had been held in a long pause within the sea and the sand and the winds and the high sky,held in the sweet heat of clovered coastal fields, the lantana, the cool-shaded fig trees,the sorghum sweeps. Should we ask for more than this?
I decided to do what amounts to part erasure, part a jumble of the words, rearranging them to find a different intent. I made a couple tiny changes, and some repetitions, but otherwise everything comes from the source text.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The stories ghosts tell

today he hovers
caught up by the taught
shadows, but there was
a rhyme ... He’ll tell you
when his sought smile stayed
to weight the night scape.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


The following is a collaborative poem I wrote last fall with my good friend nooshin. It's cross-posted over at Flashing By.


by nooshin azadi (odd stanzas) and Francis Scudellari (even stanzas)


she opened the everyday window
a cypress tree was descending
the mist-covered hills of faraway

He strode through the humdrum flat where grays played
above and below. One watchful bulb pushed amber
smiles between patchy leaves and shamed an absent sun.

a black bird detached itself from the cypress tree
deliberately dissolving in the never-dissipating mist above
she turned back facing the rampant rug down below

The troglodyte cherub long dwelling in his dull
damp sensations, stirs to feel the creep-down warmth
of these lesser beams brimming a lost possibility.

the wavering rays of a meager lamp were lost in the silent symphony
of the colorful knots as she faced the opened window another time
the mist was not a blanket anymore but a web with a billion eyes

A fledgling finding its wings, he sought succor inside
basket-woven branches where the leaves now thickened red.
Their thousand tongues each wagged one warning: Your journey’s
just begun; beware the powerful snare of these mirages.

the black bird reappeared out of the blue
it kept appearing and disappearing again and again
as if stitching two worlds together

“Aren’t you just a figment too?” He asked, feeling devilish.
“I’d rather fly forever satisfied with airy lies
than be grounded by rocky, hard-to-discern truths.”

she knew both worlds were lecherous lies
always taking something away from her
she lived in the giving truth
a membrane between the two

All their disquieting peace had already been spoken,
and from an empty rustling one seed twirled, twilit
to sow dissonant hues between what he see-saw felt.
With eyes eased shut and breast bumped ajar, he left.

all day long she could hear some footsteps permeating through the membrane
they came dizzily and left hurriedly never lingering more than a smile
and when they were gone, a new eye in the mist would open

Afoot in a distant squint he spotted the humped backs
of hillocks, whose gently sloping slides he might climb
to change his stride and find more knowing whisperers.

the eyes were all as silent as a seed
either flickering agitatedly with a story
or simmering down in a dream
she sat all day long looking into them
running the golden thread of the stories through the pearly drops of dreams

The picked road chose to imperceptibly dip
before it would ever-so-gently rise. In its subtle
sagging sat a toad of uncompromised bulk,
and he crouched to hear the wisdom of warted sighs.

there was no end to the stories nor to the dreams
thus no end to the threads running through the pearls
she hung them in her window where they swayed in the breeze
and the passers-by could hear their songs - if they listened

From the throbbing pouch of its throat came a rumbling
mishmash of a song. “Not all sounds sing, at first hearing.
Nothing grasped can be held long. The prettiest
stones are also the most slippery. We’ll all dive in.”

she was watching the pearl hangings in the breezeless window when she heard
a distant song with a bumpy rhythm and a pebble-in-the-pond ending
she knew the song and the singer but not the silent listener
another eye in the web, she smiled wryly, or a web in the eye?

Then the toad’s muted brown shape fizzled to drown
in the ripple-blown glass where, once again becalmed,
small milky spheres appeared to hang and point his gaze
back toward the hills, their magically hidden denizens.

there was a long silence then
brimming with pulsating little waves
torpidly traveling through her
just to die in the now singing pearl hangings

The steep he climbed with slow but steady steps
as the sun slid behind far-off twin bulges.
Hushed by crimson shadow, they hinted at lively
cheeks, a blushing face to tease his picked-up pace.

the waves
the songs
the pearls
the threads
the stories
the dreams
the mundane membrane
new foreign footsteps
her gaze followed the hills stretching over the usual misty horizon
the descending cypress tree was now so far away from them
for the first time her mind couldn't only watch
she wished the footsteps would never arrive
or if they did, they would never leave

Clumps of weeds and grasses ate away at the road.
Trunks, both straight-backed and curved, joined
bushy greens to gobble down the once-thick air
and prop up a big-top canopy, where
a kaleidoscopic chorus
and chirruped
so he wished this walk would never end
or if it did, he would never leave.


september 19-28, 2010

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There’s a where ravens are taken (the rebirth of POW)

My myth-maker’s made
a sunny place-setting
and he sets it politely there
where I sit not wearing boots.

With black squawks he came
from out-there not smitten,
and he tells me tall riddles of let
blood’s sleepy seeping home.

“You’ll notice many
cut-cross paths can get you there
to the next where, if you know
what’s not here you’re not getting.

“It’s there, where and when
you’ll come in, approximately,
to uncover hurt never.
Ever met cures before.”

He stays there beside
and with unwary wings pushes
twice-worn boots where my feet
were yet, unprepared to go.

This poem was abstracted from a context you're unlikely to decipher. As part of the renewal of the Poetry On Wednesday (POW) prompts, Rallentanda posted a passage from a book (see it here). We all make our own myths, but I like mine to be more in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm, Bullwinkle and Dr. Seuss.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The end of days may be sunny

Would that four and twenty were all
red-wing blackbirds rejected by the sky.

For each one wonderment’s pie-pleasant fall
down open pockets full of why,
ten thousand unsavory more tumble
I’d prefer my thumbs fumbling missed.

Can you hear it? Louder than a stomach’s rumble,
here comes some-when-else, timely this
time where-ing unaccustomed particulars’ shine.

Buzz with me there, Honey,
although I’ve got no hive in mind.

The end of days may be sunny.

Let’s not hide, but heal what’s broken
and bask in the deep void’s coquettish gaze,
mutating us one short step toward then
with its white wash of cosmic rays.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Disquiet of a troubled mind

This why hounds
It travels ... Bounds
An unspoken
"Not yet. Not yet."
Lay it down dear
Lay it down soon ... Here
at my feet, yours too ... Hours
are profoundly still

Friday, January 07, 2011

It all comes down to us (a frog's goodbye)

The last golden frog waved
a stilted goodbye to what's wild
as the human hand slipped
him inside a plastic baggie.
He chirped, but he couldn’t cry.
The why-tinged tears he’s left to us.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A pluck of false strings

Toxic mimics, they stand
on polyester strands
and sip at their trickle-down dew,
all the while tickled by the thought
there’s a web tying me to you.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Five breezy pieces on the winter of white

I re-worked these five snow-themed vignettes into a single piece tied together by the themes of black and white.

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

The sun's amber frown of diminished light
slides down black branches
a blundered slight,
but when it hits the ground, it rides
wonders of uninterrupted white.

Steamy columns of warmth
slip through the crack,
pawed open by blue purrs from his white cat—
a tonic wash, to welcome.
slush-slicked, black boots back

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

Winter’s white makes shallow breaths,
and exhausted she coughs black
complaints about the crushed
green of popped-down bottles,
a cellophane orange cat with a close hold
on his shorted stock of shock-
yellow crumbs, and the assorted other
man-made matter mocking
her color, but never her,
wherever they stay.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Rearranging the present

This sense-maker makes
pretty nonsense in creases
of her mirrored smile,
draws droopy eyes back to where
his petty youth could explore

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Do deck a hedron, but don't make it jolly

There’s a fifth elemental
bottled up inside,
and I’ve found myself
in biomimicry
light as the airs
that this too too earthy flesh,
no platonic object,
of fiery desires,
could atomize and rise
to the watery dote,
where true hearts float
and all honesty lies
with a fine print of boasted
and side-splitting effects:

  • The meaty much we do
    means little
    mixed in the cosmic stew
  • Arms are best for putting round,
    but when putting right’s left out,
    it’s better to put down
  • What cleans a surface,
    even tears, can also stain,
    given enough time
  • Take the cleansing solution,
    and wipe them
    down to their gleaming steel
  • Then weld the twelve
    couple-less, cautionary signs
    to fashion a finer form

I could pack infinity
into that very finite dodecahedron,
with this one simple observation:

The glow reflected on your face
is the most beautiful
my light has ever been.