Saturday, April 30, 2011

The sum of my month (in its reduced parts)

Today is the last day of National Poetry Writing Month, and this is my last daily poem celebrating the 30-day occasion (though not my last poem, of course). Making like one of those awful clip shows where TV writers mash together snippets from previous episodes in order to take a week-off without resorting to a full-fledged rerun, I give you an erasure built from 30 days worth of poem titles (in order, including this last one). Maybe I've invented a new genre... the clip-poem? Thanks to everyone who read and wrote along for this NaPoWriMo ride.

Looking up,
I could dive
to meet you.
There are moments everyone wishes they were
To wake
the others
I'll dream
a reckoning.
our hope is
In the sunrise
with broken-glass
lessons from
Death. Skip to
what to believe.
What was lost
with her blossoms,
a brother.
The hardest path's
shadow and song,
the not-so-good of
her true face.
He'll waste it, wanting
the grass greener,
slipping into
this (a love poem)
the sum.

Friday, April 29, 2011

This is how I'll write the multi-verse of you's (a love poem)

I’m in the simplest

Zero and one

knowing these many
weathered worlds of me

Strangling cloud and drunken sun

are faced with flip-books
flapping startling expressions

A dropped lip and picked-upon eyes

as each tries not to let varying
beauty-scars overwhelm me

Forest lost in ash and beige fields waving for hands

They’ll collapse into a single here-
when my I’s observe in unison

Giving back to sticky roads and taken by stubbly plains

the then-where I can convince you there's a we
calling to those countless shades of me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Slipping into the bit stream

Is it a selfish wish
to want
even less self,
less of this flesh, too?
It too sullies,
this flesh.
That it would melt,
melt or better
be resolved to zero
and one both,
a qubit, which leaves
no smudgy prints, but mixes
with others, entangling
invisibly as we flow, growing
into the most unthinkably
spooky actions,
viewed at a distance.
Pull us closer, Einstein.
We’ll materialize,
our selfless wishes.

(With an obvious nod and wink to the Bard, whose birthday it was a few days back, and less obvious ones to David Deutsch and his theories of quantum computation with the irresistably named qubit, which I read about shortly after composing the first draft of this poem, in a proof of entangled concepts).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When birds get insomnia

Out there in two-thirty’s
marbled indigo, he goes on
and on with his warbling,
not minding the long unwinding
until the dawn.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The grass may be greener, but it's still struggling to emerge

Pulling seasoned lessons
from their shallow pockets,
springy fingers, nimble and green,
push through a saturated brown
to beg you: “Spare us some
of those bits of warmth
you’ve stolen, touches of sunny
encouragement to entwine,
entangle, and cushion you
against the coming fall.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

He'll waste away with its wanting

He feels the blue-black
chattering of his cheap tattoos.

They pinwheel around
and they tumble down
to greet a broken-track braille
and join its scabby trailing off,
stammering dead-end tempts
to the diminished lots
of unmarked tissue.

You can t-taste it too,
first that rubbery sharp squeeze,
then a streamlined steel’s b-bite
with its c-creeping warmth,
its p-piquant glee
and its promises to quench
those g-glimpses of eternity.

Each promise gets
reneged as soon as it’s replenished.

There’s an art to this steal;
its con is his meat and bone.

This is in response to the weekly Wordle prompt provided by Brenda Warren. She's set up a new site for prompts called A Wordling Whirl of Sundays. I did slightly change a couple of the words.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter shows her true face.

Ôstarâ dawns, her yellow shift
chased by sunny rabbits and
the reed-woven basket she handles
nestling a pair of stork's eggs.

She'll chuckle as she skips by
Wotan well into his nine-days
sacrificially dangling, the wound
weeping brown to white in his side.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Metaphysical recycling

A soul’s not a bottle,
hard and cold. You can’t
redeem it with one trip
to the corner shop
or swap it for nickels.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Not-so Good of an Earth-centered Friday

Here’s what passes for a Good Friday:
The drone of bots dropping bombs
in the name of a Man-god,
whose half-breed flesh
and blood have been
to stand for a peculiar,
store-bought brand of freedom,
freedom we dilute more
with the gallons of others’ blood spilled,
while still others shed their blood
just to taste it.

The celebrated Earth tastes it,
the others' spilled blood.

It’s her day too,
but she’s not in a celebrating mood
what with that sour taste of blood
and the litter of flesh we’ve left.

Their god can sort
the innocent from the guilty.

Our god was crucified today
and we’re taking the afternoon off.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shadow and song

Dusk’s crepuscular creep
makes the craggy steep dour.
Crickets receive the hour well,
chirping to it cheerily.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The hardest path will help you

The flagstones, they push
up at me. They push
back at me. They spray
dusty well wishes,
and they tell me, “When
you finally get
there, to whatever
where is there, thank us
for the wear and tear,
simply being here.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's a fun-house, brother

The purple gorilla’s spacing.
Splayed-out on the trash bin,
he’ll play it off cool, jiving me:
"It’s a fun-house, brother,
tripping hard in this down-
on-its-luck play-land of plenty."

Monday, April 18, 2011

No catchy slogan can compete with her blossoms

Chip-bag phrases,
clipped and cornered,
ripped and unstrung,
make a sad sense
out of their silvery

Jagged, inept scars are
overlooked and forever
forgetting the spring,
the way
her perfumed messages
sneak off to the sun
and his golden-tongued
flattery returns
to sprout more magenta-blue

The swelling
colors cover-up
the drone of crudely picked,
plastic plantings.

Beauty is all.
It discounts
as it recounts
the bags’ ticked-off failings.

Here's another Wordle prompt as provided by Brenda Warren. I enjoy doing these because they're like a game of connect the dots, making stories out of a clutch of (not quite) random words.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What was lost was (the warmth in their hands)

Our memories may be too short
the one-hundred years too many
and the lessons too hard
to bring back their every touch,
each tender touch given
by the hands of
one-hundred twenty-nine women,
the seventeen men taken in the Fire.

There are those cold, raw numbers, but
I want to talk about
I want to feel and hold
the warmth held and lost in their hands,
the way one hand might fall
as light as a tissue
brushing the hand of a friend as they talked
about Sunday strolls with lovers,
or the way one hand might squeeze another
tightly when they gave sharp laughs
after an off-hand joke
at the expense of a hand-me-down coat.

Fifty-two hours a week, those hands
had work to do,
work for others,
work snipping and folding
shirts, they worked, and the work kept them,
it kept them from
the touches they wanted to give
and it robbed them
of so many more touches when
they touched the doors made walls,
those bolted doors
their bosses had made walls.

The walls were flame then and their hands led them
instead to the windows,
those windows they could leap from to keep from
turning to ash, their hands
becoming still there on the pavement, lifeless where
on the pavement passersby watched
and reckoned the costs of keeping
comfortable in cheap shirtwaists.

I wrote this poem in commemoration of the recent centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which was "the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York" and took place on March 25, 1911.

Today I'll be reading selections from the excellent anthology Walking Through a River of Fire at the closing party for my friend Diana Berek's exhibition Denim: Fabric of Our Journey (Narratives of Work Embodied in Reconstructed Fragments of Recycled Blue Jeans) at the B1E Gallery here in Rogers Park, Chicago. If there's time I hope to read my poem there too.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What not to believe

I distrust
the lessons I’ve sussed
like cigarette butts,
gum wrappers and foil
pulled from the tangles
of trampled-on grass
or a susurrus
in the suspect dusk.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Death and taxes skip to the due

The modern taxman cometh more
and conveniently e-.
One meaty hand's
in the bony hand
of his forsooth saying-mate,
the other flits
freely, its unaccountably icy digits
lithely cyber-tapping
rhythms from a tipless plastic glove.
His sticky memory can serve, not love,
but the love of two
masterly forms of flim-flammable,
sleight. The aghastly fat
he flabbers glad
and the stripped-down he tops
toward the same childish deduction:
a pea
will evermore end happily
feathering the most luxuriantly
nested cup.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lessons from foreign gods, No. 2

I've followed the Wyrd thread
where it led me,
and it leads me again
to this loose end.

Three gently giant crones
dip their watering pale
hands in a waterless well.
They tell me:

"The becoming's
happened. It was one picked.
There were many
hung by our ought-to-be."

This is the second in my planned series of short poems related to gods and myths from around the world. I'm currently reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which is providing me with ample hints toward other mythologies to research. His reference to the Norns from Norse mythology got me exploring, and this is the result.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I've had a history with broken glass

At six, I pitched
two small, balled fists
through the flat of a screen
door’s flimsy pane.

It was latched shut, but
I was Superman.
The blanket cape and
bloodless wrists proved it.

Over four decades
I’ve leaped, bound
to keep fewer
delusions of super.

The last shattering
as my clench gives
a misplaced tap,
to storm window glass.

Two sputtering
crimson tongues taunt
the kerplop
of that passage.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In the lighter dark before sunrise

At the nexus
between morning
and the next us
fleet sparrow song
to becoming
too, we’re coming

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our hope is only as strong as our shelter

The cruel April wind doesn’t howl.
It laughs at
his corrugated-cardboard hovel.

Dandelion-wine-stained walls groan
gloomy up against it,
as a cut-out flap flips to reveal
hums of empty space.

Cobwebs come
to what’s at rest. Here
the poorly grounded facts are:
scattered ash,
the misplaced and misspelled
scrawls he so feebly scratched out.

His paper-weighting
dance of two exposed knees
can't be crucial.

Brenda Warren provided another Wordle prompt for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). You can see what others came up with for it here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hey Mister

Hey mister!
Hey mister!

The little girl calls in her
little-girl voice.

Hey mister! Up here!
She calls again, still
little but clearly showing
a growing impatience.

Her pig tails poke
over the sill. My eyes meet
chocolate-milk saucers –
filled to brimming
– and her questions spill
down on me.

I leave my answers there
to fly to her. They were
not meant for the dogs,
or for the dumpsters lining
this brick-shouldered alley,
or for me to hold.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Jungian Reckoning

My shallow shadow’s grown
a deeper troubling.

It creeps here doubly
corpulent, as its opulent
appetites swallow
the tendered terrains.

Side-ling, I’m shoved aside
unloved in its lack.

It shuffles on, a truffle
top tipped to taste tasty
shades of mustard and green
then spit them back, dead black.

Friday, April 08, 2011

I'll dream in haiku

Morning, dark and wet
Slithering sleep won’t let me
Escape its slick scales

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The foot's in the other shoe

There’s nothing.
Nothing is gonna change.
Go on and change, nothing.
Change, nothing, and prove me.
Prove me strong.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

How to wake-walk (don't sleep)

To simulate somnambulation
is an ambition, when you can’t sleep
but you can walk. Not far. Close enough.

The first step is instructional. Eyes
distant. Not focused to avoid both
ambivalence and stimulation.

Then comes. A stub of revelation:
shiny objects at rest are better
practitioners at simulation.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

When yellow is brave

Spring winks small and wild
yellow flowers. They tease dead
leaves, crowding clover.

Monday, April 04, 2011

There are moments (everyone wishes they were somewhere else)

The wooded hills would give
a prodigious shout to shake
the humdrum from pedestrian clouds,
but they’ve been stilled by brown
water. It soothes and it slaps, small
falls striking an inattentive stream.
The insect smog where they meet
buzzes in anticipation of antic
aerobatics. One fussy fish
might just follow along; it’s swept up
instead by the gentle flutter of leaves
a breeze puffs off sheer slopes.
It’s a freedom that lends them
omnipotent airs. This lack
of agitation should be apparent
to everyone. Not the harried stones
who've relinquished closely harbored
preconceptions. There is no necessary
conclusion to a docile journey
downstream where a supercilious
tortoise scoffs at such received wisdom.
Far away cold puddles are mired
in a fallow field. They imagine
the tickle of a flow with sunlit speckles.

For NaPoWriMo Day 4, I've taken up the Wordle prompt Brenda Warren so generously provided. Check out Brenda's poem Fish Basket, and the comments to read what others have done with the prompt.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Saturday, April 02, 2011

I could dive right in

The river was and is
curious shades of shy.
I can't say why
she calls me in,
her husky tone rippling
with hints of verdigris.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Our downward gazes are looking up

​​It's plainly a checkerboard plane
..... That's a jet leaving cotton candy 
​with green and brown boxes boxing dots busied bopping,
..... ribbons. It has a clear destination, 
​but there's one wondrous dot not
..... pushing its snow-cone nose so purposefully
​caught up in their squared-off games.
​..... through the Kool-Aid sweet sky. 
​You know how I envy its open-ended refusal.
​..... If I could only tag-along agreeably on its closing-in...

(Happy NaPoWriMo!)