Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oranges and apples

I also compared
orange to apple. What’s good
for one’s the other’s
for good. Orange, he didn’t mind.
I left him a spiraled rind.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Apples and oranges

I dared to compare
apple to orange. Apple
red-faced objected.
I reduced his complaining
to a few seeds and a core.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When the stories I tell can change me, I tell them over again

There are three kinds of memory I’d provocatively tell myself if I knew which self to provoke and the provocative part isn’t what they are so much as who they make me There are the personal memories of course like that one of an early crawl with small fingers tugging at shaggy browns as they make for the Siamese who lies purring grays a world away Or another hand much bigger but less sure The temptation this time is maybe hers sitting close but distant and yet it’s more likely mine and where my hand wants to lie and how it wants me to keep it there forever I have to tell it its forever is longer than mine These memories are an always too slippery to hold and I've always let them go where they will There are also cultural memories the kind with lives and lessons they’ve unkindly kept in books but their lessons don’t live within the bindings clapped down with dust to lessen them They escape with each crack and they tiptoe their stories inside me Their stories that root and rise an idyllic garden leafing lush greens with one forbidden tree I’ve bitten its fruit and it's opened my eyes I’ve re-opened them often and what I see changes and I see in these changes there’s a third kind It’s kept deeper Deeper still Too deep to read or know well It’s written within each cell and it tells the same tales with a different head This head much hairier peeks between dense branches at reds suddenly grown sharper and it peeks for me A snake that can’t be so easily hid.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dreams are my mountain top

Are dreams thoughts or
feelings? They're both? In them, my feelings
and thoughts take shape and
color. Is white a color?
They are white and they
are rectangular. They can be blocky, but they are
what I feel and yet what
I feel with a more delicate feeling. Or what I
think. I think
squares too, and blue. Their feeling squares
with a certain circular logic, and with
life. Can a shape have a life?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I gave the world my string. I got
the string from a rainbow. I’m here
sitting at the end of that string
and figuring, what’s this world, what’s
this life for, if not love?

I gave it the song I sing. Got
the song from the rain. It makes me
go. Whenever I move, it’s moved
its fingers. There’s no luck to see.
It’s not me, but it’s love.

Life’s wonderful things come.
I’ll go as long as the world holds
my string. Silly-sober, I’ll be
so, yo-yoing better
than if it ever let me go.

This is very loosely based on the song "I've got the world on a string" by Harold Arlen (music) and Ted Koehler (lyrics).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rogers Park street scene

There's no present like the moment the used-up and tossed aside not quite dried out strawberry shaped juice container looking down on its luck like the Virgin Mary’s faded but still sacred heart whispers up not the least bit bitter or glum from its clump of weeds to the crow who's perched on a soon to be glowing streetlight’s sturdy arm and who's quickly losing interest in both never more and tomorrow morning’s preyed upon glories

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Poor Richard

Dreams make frights for babbling souls. Fret it not,
for words are for cowards. Conscience, ill-used,
devises hurts, to keep us long in awe
of our conscienceless laws, armies. Be strong,
the pell-mell’s joined to us. Graveward let’s march.
Heaven and hell go hand-in-hand, then not.

Continuing on with my insults to the Bard, this time a history gets mistreated:
Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls;
For conscience is a word that cowards use,
Devis’d at first to keep the strong in awe:
Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law.
March on, join bravely let us to ‘t pell-mell;
If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.
[Richard III: V.iii.330-5]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love, cross those stars

Confusion’s cure lives. Peace, no. Not shame. For
Confusion’s in this Heaven. For yourself,
all is made fair now. Heaven had. Its parting
made, we are all. And the better for it.
Death could not keep you from your part. In her,
him, the eternal keeps, but Heaven’s life parts.

You don't have to cross the stars to find love, but you do have to find the little bit of the stars' love that sits in you. Here are the Bard's lines (spoken by the Friar) that inspired my blasphemies above:
Peace, ho! for shame! Confusion’s cure lives not
In these confusions. Heaven and yourself
Had part in this fair maid; now Heav’n hath all,
And all the better is it for the maid.
Your part in her you could not keep from death,
But Heav’n keeps his part in eternal life.
[Romeo & Juliet: IV.iv.101-105]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In praise of the brittle star

This brittle star shines
a sleepy
bright aquamarine
and creepy
it creeps in deeper blues.
It’s much more and yet less
fragile than you
or I are blessed
to think it. Spun
with spindly arms,
it spins off tales when
they’re tried or untrue. Unharmed,
its trails aren’t lost but
slowly put
aside until
it can grow them back. It will.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moor or less

Love forbade me “if,” that friend I had. And her
story. Teach me “should” and I’ll tell him how to
speak it. Would I, her? This heat’s woozy upon
me. The danger’s passed. For the love I had,
and she hers, there’s the pity. Do I love?
I used to. Missed witchcraft is all I have.

Oh, Othello. You couldn't trust your heart, but you could Iago's words, and now where are you? The Bard knows...
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov’d her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this heat I spake.
She lov’d me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I lov’d her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have us’d.
[Othello: I.iii.179-84]

Thursday, August 18, 2011


… Sometimes-voices land
flat. Long sheepish, they had waked after I. Then,
pills made me sleep again. Again, I’m dreaming.
The clouds are thoughts. Rich, they would open to me,
show ready drops. Don’t wake me! Upon them I
dream, and won’t cry again.

Back to the Bard, this time revisiting Caliban's lines from The Tempest.
… and sometimes voices,
That, if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that, when I wak'd,
I cried to dream again.
[The Tempest: III.ii.135-40]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Found in translation, a poetic life cycle

1. Egg

[This is my hatching
thought, which you cannot

2. Larva

The moon shines,
a pretty pill.
It couldn’t fill me with more.
It couldn’t
spill its light more
brightly or cover me more
tenderly. My chalky
smile smiles back at her more
sweetly for the pain-killing.
It’s magic.

3. Pupa

La lune brille,
une pilule assez.
Il ne pouvait pas me remplir de plus.
Il ne pouvait pas
répandre sa lumière plus
vives ou me couvrir plus
tendrement. Mon calcaires
sourire sourires de retour à son plus
doucement pour la douleur-massacre.
C'est magique.

4. Imago

The moon shines,
a pretty pill.
He could not fill me with more.
He could not
spread its light over-
bright, or cover me more
tenderly. My limestone
smile smiles back at its
gently. To the pain-killing,
it's magical.

The French translation with all of its beautiful flaws, is provided by Google's Translator app, as is the re-translation into English. I've only changed the punctuation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This and that

It’s not that,
it’s that this
“this or that”
we try
could be
“this and that,”
and it’s that
you and me,
might find
in that and
an end
to or, and
a better we.

Monday, August 15, 2011


An ent to me
isn’t Tolkien’s walking tree.

It’s the lead-in to studying
insects (the ancient
Greek, entomon).

Have I told you,
what wonderful creatures
ants are?

They are.

They herd
aphids for honeyed dew;

they tend
their devil’s gardens,

and when
a fight comes (which it will)
they soldier on
than Achilles’ Myrmidons,
than Treebeard
after his Entmoot.

Remind me to tell you
about the clever disguises
worn by walking sticks
and the peculiar crunch
they make
when caught.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life comes after life

There is no
hell o’ bellowed heat
and no
heaven for leavened souls
but I know
there are bells now
and yes, those bells do ring
throughout hillocks and hollows
hallowed by a name,
your name, I speak
when they pause to allow me
one brief hello.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guest post: "hangry" by nooshin azadi

nooshin azadi has graciously given me the following poem to post as a follow-up to my last piece Unrest for the wearied.

by nooshin azadi

something's lost
in me
in you
in them
in us
i don't know what it is
do you?

something's stolen
from me
from you
from them
from us
i don't know what it is
do you?

something's missing
something's gone
something's taken

an empty space
an empty feeling
an empty force
is eating our soul
i don't know what it is
do you?

i feel empty
i feel hungry
something's lost
in me
something's missing
in me
something's taken
from me
i want it back
i want it back
i want it back
do you hear me?
i'm hungry
you know how it feels
don't you?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unrest for the wearied

What the to-do is is brewing a yeasty undoing of our dearest darlings’ daring finery finely done and they’re mostly up there in their makeup where you can’t see them and they’re all made up for themselves alone and you’re very plainly alone sitting in the in-between sitting in your plain and hard-backed chair and you’re slack-jawed as you view the crowds through your thick and illuminated glass wall a glass soon to be shattered but there’s no shattering the other glass the glass of this ceiling that's pressing down this ceiling never more classy than it is now with glass that may get thicker yet if it’s not the thickest in fact and that’s got you feeling jittery at what little is left and what's left has almost been undone it’s being bitterly undone by hosts of  lads and lasses with an anger like a hunger they're angry at the made-up most who are at most a few of the most well-off and these most haven’t been keen on hosting any airings of grievances because the cutting’s been done and it was needed that undoing no matter how cutting it feels and it’s all for the best even if it’s not in the least for the the best of these hosts of least who are the least of your sister-brothers, father-mothers and others farther along the family tree with its branches now withering everywhere but at the very tips and those leafy tips don’t reach down to those who may not bleed with you in a family sense but in every other sense they are your family most deeply rooted in you and they’re deeply incensed yes they’re incensed deeply enough to shed their blood your blood it's our blood.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wee one

Wee one strapped to her
small she hears gurgles ... lessons
more precious than books’

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


A small girl’s white sock
Middle of the sidewalk. ... She had
No great need for it

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Unborn is to discover, not countries
or travelling puzzles, but our return.
Will dares us. No ills will take us. Rather,
as those naughts we’ll fly — other, knowing all.
Thus consciousness, a coward, is unmade.

Moving on, this time to the Prince of Denmark and his brooding:
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, — puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
[Hamlet: III.i.89-90]

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Playing hop-Scot

Tomorrow isn't tomorrow. Tomorrow isn't.
It sweeps this pretty place. A day, today,
to last, must not. Syllables record time.
Our yesterdays fall when the light's a mute.
The way's dusty but death's brief, its candle out.

More fun with the Bard's words, this time it's the Scottish Play:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
[MacBeth: V.v.20-25]

Saturday, August 06, 2011


How, how, how, how, o stone, can men know when
one is dead? Eyes? One lived when I used them.
I have a tongue; it’s dead. Your cracks go on
for ever. She vaulted them. She’s gone. Heaven
and earth should lend me a look; I am glass.

This is me noodling with some lines from Shakespeare's Lear. Here's the original text I'm mutilating:
Howl, howl, howl, howl! O! you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
That heaven's vaults should crack. — She's gone for ever! —
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass
[King Lear: V.iii.303-7]

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Hey meek, your inheritance is waiting (and the anonymity will suit you)

What can you write when a bloodless rock and its bloodied people writhe pained by the squeeze of men like snakes no less than snakes less than worms not fit to be early or late-bird plucked from the rain-soaked ground but it’s not the ground soaked or parched they sit upon it’s an airy perch from which they spy us and it’s not that they’re not seeing the squirms and it’s not that they’re not making out the wriggles and it is that they’re giggling at the blurriness of the faces from so high and it’s then you write that it’s time and it’s then that you write of those times to come when we’ll take this anonymity to our advantage.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A bad economy of words

I can’t say why
you stare, I can
say what you dare
not. In this man-

made mess-making
of the shammy
and shimmering,
we’ve got little
to hold onto.

Let’s hold onto
the little we
hold closest and
let go the rest.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Oh, some prose to a woodlouse

The woodlouse, a bug come to you as pill, potato and roly-poly all rolled into one, wouldn’t want you to suss him out, all rolled up in his plated gray ball where he’s more susceptible than you perceptibly might think, and he’s depending on that, plus your general lack of enthusiasm for creepy crawly critters, to avoid the footfall’s crush.