No Pain Yet: 27th Post

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Taking Comfort

Minus five degrees Fahrenheit at the gas pump
and now I’m driving
shuddering into fifteen degrees in the truck cab as the sand dunes
of grocery bags shift gently beside me.
I grip the stiff blue wavelets on the steering wheel as I surf
the ice-covered parking lot.

There’s a damp warmth where my thumb bends
and I huddle toward it without moving
the way a lover leaps in spirit at the flare of a match.
I follow it home
a thermal conductor to my warm kitchen just six blocks away.

Standing indoors I pull off lined leather gloves to see
blood in a smeared map of South America flowing
from a dark Amazon. No pain yet. No recollection
of pushing my tearable flesh against something firmer.
Only a moment’s understanding of our need to linger over wounds
for the comfort they can give us.

Anything to Grab Onto: 26th Post

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–for my mother

The time

everyone else

had left the party but the music was still throbbing

and Stefan

two languages

away from me

had my blouse half undone–

that’s the light

I mean


smelling of alcohol

dangerous with its promise of brilliant regret

The time

I jumped

heavily clothed into the water

for lifesaving practice

and the water


above me

reflections subdividing like amoebas–

that’s the distance

I mean

deeper than

my arm’s length

resonant with resistance

The time

I climbed

on Trinidad Head

alone on black wet rock


by the sudden


of ocean too close–

that’s the texture

I mean

where anything to grab onto

is life

even if it tears your flesh like a cat’s claw

Cast & Wait: 25th Post

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Fishing the Coast

The spatulate surf heaves
against the arc of rocks, exploding to opalescence.
Boulders the size of house trailers stack and sway
as the surf recedes,
pulls away, returns.

Four men cast about for meaning and find it
in remaining upright in the roar, in slipping
a silvery bite of food out sideways, in failing to see
the faces of loved ones in the clouds overhead
or the foam below.
They fish. They merely fish.

To catch is to eat is to live long enough
for their bones to barnacle up with salt,
their dreams to crab against what they know:
that you need strong arms,
good line, patience,
time, and sadness you swallow

like a shard of mirror,
hunger you feel like the pleats in a man’s pants
bravely failing to accomplish anything.
The men cast and wait, cast and wait.
Cast again and wait, not planning
to forgive anyone.

Wanting to Shout: 24th Post

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Being quiet has its advantages as well as its ability to kill one.


I Want to Shout that My Hurt Is Greater than Yours but I Mustn’t

Locked in the apartment she rented this morning
she wrote on a calendar cover: This is because,
She could smell the last tenants in the flattened areas of the carpet,
in the air in the nightstand drawer.

In the Central Valley a foreman hands out long hoes.
Drive by: look to see if workers bend to the cabbages and garlic.
Imagine the turnips’ moist bodies, soothed in dirt.
Drive by: crop dusters rise and dip and roll away just behind you.

The body stretched, running away.
The body shapely against angular gravel.
The body in the center of my memory.

In the Central Valley rows of stakes
with seedlings lashed to them. You drive and drive,
relieved to see the quick curve in the rows where you think
a tractor driver may have swerved to miss a rabbit.

Cupping a two-month supply of Prozac in her left hand
she walked from bed to couch
and back to bed. No, I would do that.
I imagine she does it.

The body tossed in the field for owls or coyotes.
I suppose that’s where you put it.
The body still on the gravel in my memory.

In the Central Valley almond trees seem neat and classic as penny loafers.
I hit a hawk, even after swerving.
A hundred miles later when I had to stop for gas
its body and wings were still there, fanned out across the truck grill.

I drove past parked trucks: TNT Reddaway, Dole, Reliance,
CWX, U-Haul. She was my lover’s most recent ex-lover.
I let the 5 a.m. red sun burn a hole in my sight,
only to see I’d made a perfect black backdrop for my thoughts.

I pried the bird off with sticks
and carried it to a row of bushes. Those stiff
angry-looking hedges they force to grow behind some gas stations.


Those Awful Heads: 23rd Post

Amish Dresses Drying on a Clothes Line


This poem was published in The Centennial Review (Vol. 38, No. 2, Spring 1994).



Are all the doors locked?
Is the stove on? You’ll
check it? All right then
I’ll leave that to you.
Do you like colored glass?

See this clear blue vase?
When I was five I’d
say to my aunt where’s
my pity pitcher? She’d say
here it is darlin and

she gave me that pticher
I treasure it more than
anything I have. My grandmother
never gave me anything. My
daughter says I shouldn’t remember

such but how can I
help it? Is the stove
on? Do you think the
stove is on? No? Well
then all right. And as

I was telling you we
had geese in a pen
about as big as this
room and one time they
jumped up and flew and

a coyote got one of
em and carried it off
too far our gun couldn’t
shoot so far you know.
Have you ever heard coyotes

howl? My mother said they
shouldn’t have left their nice
pen. Are all the doors
locked? We’re isolated here you
know. Though I could swing

a polecat by the tail
I guess it’s OK you
say they’re all locked? Well
then all right. Are you
going to be here in

the house with me all
night? Will you sleep up
there or down here? As
I was saying one summer
a woman visited me at

our cottage up north and
she hated the woods. She
didn’t like the spider at
the swimming dock either I
told her it was my

pet and how did she
like my other pet this
garter snake. Well she went
home after two weeks though
she was supposed to stay

with me all summer. But
that was better don’t you
think? Are you going to
be here in the house
with me all night? Are

all the doors locked? You’ll
check them? Good then I’ll
leave that to you. Do
you think the stove is
on? No? All right then.

Do you like to travel?
It’s good for a person
to go places while they’re
young. My parents went up
to the Black Hills once

oh they were pretty that
was before those heads were
there. The Indians were real
mad you know when they
put in those awful heads.

Moving, Listening, Leaning: 22nd Post

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These 3 haiku were published in Haiku Zasshi Zo (June 1989). The photo is from a cornfield after harvesting by both humans and assorted undomesticated animals.


haiku for changing places

moving through the fog
the wary fox approaches
a sunlit hillside

in the hot stone flute
a listening woman walks
where the wind spirals

fleshless cornstalks lean
like cartoon figures begging
in brown unison

No One Duck Has to Carry the Melody: 21st Post

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This poem, like the ones in my First Post and Third Post, appeared in Phoebe: A Journal of Literary Arts (Vol. 24, No. 2) and was a finalist for the Grege Grummer Award in Poetry.




Integrated Functional Responsive Capability

Lack Thereof

This above all This above all This
Above all Don’t show me that Bass beer I used to
Hate someone named Bass
The ducks were
Chuckling a Beethoven scherzo I tell you
Why isn’t there a verb to describe
The way squirrels move All those
Handsome boys
Like leaves
Blowing around campus I was supposed to be
Here an hour
Ago This above all See the ecologists
With their bags of silver bullets What’s
It like having such big hands Since when
Does pleasant weather make you lose Those
Radio collars on bears make me
Cry The
Ducks were helping each other
No one duck
Had to carry the melody The refundability
Of the bullets was a job bill for the home-
Less This above all Do they look alike or
Don’t they
What happened before Do I need
To do something I began to
Cry about the
Pattern of bricks so the nice man gave me
Pills to kill bacteria This
Above all The
View of calf muscles pleased me I was not
In control All the churches
Need repair like the envelope of my skin


Pardon Me: Is My Hair Pouring Out or Shooting In?

The urban raccoon padded over this cement
Before it hardened That crow
Looks enormous
On the bare branches by the river Hang on
Hang on I hugged the bus stop tree Whitey
The carriage horse are you retired yet Was
It like a
Spongy forest floor or something
From a B movie I heard the male klipspringer
Never moves more
Than sixteen and a half feet from its mate
This above all She used to laugh
At people who
Wore watches The breeze lifts
A shoulder feather like a wand The raccoon washes
French fries in a parking lot puddle Fortunately
Many things are none of my business
I don’t want
The raccoon to hear domestic
Violence This above all Whitey get up Which is
Funny nothing or everything The girl had
A beautiful bottom The man had chemicals
The collar lay on a cage of bones
You don’t know
Me well enough to This above all This above
All He had the gall to ask if there was a
Each sport must have its own
Vocabulary I carried a coat with me
All day but I could not put it
On my crescendoing skin I need to know
If this is important

Like Stones from a Bridge: 20th Post


The arbitrary assignment I gave myself was to write a poem about a school of little fish and to use 5 words per line/5 lines per stanza as the form. This poem was published in Whiskey Island Magazine (Summer 1989).


The School of Little Fish

They stood looking down at
the school of little fish.
I seek the black fish
said the old one for
it cures the pain of

age. I shall have the
green fish whose flesh gives
great vision claimed the learned
one. Said the pretty one
I want all the pink

fish for my collection. The
fat purple fish are mine
cried the hungry one. The
young one gathered all the
fish and threw them high,

high and they fell back
like rain on corn like
drops of lava like good
news like stones thrown from
a bridge like the arms

and legs of soldiers like
snow like memories of love
like leaves like words on
deaf ears like candy from
a piñata like little fish.



Nineteenth Post

IMG_9115 smThank you to everyone who has read my posts.


The Namer and the Named

Breast out. Crawl back.

What would it take to make you happy?

If you connect the dots on my skin
there is a map of Stockholm. The scar
on my knee is in the shape of John Lennon.
My kidneys are twin televisions.

Side out. Side back.

And what do you think would be different
if you changed your name?

I am a Bach sonata. On cold days
I wear plastic bags on my
asparagus feet. Like most people
I take little note of persons in vehicles.

Back out. Back back.

Can you think of a constructive way
to use your anger?

I want to have ruby slippers
and the tongue of a hummingbird.
I want to wail Johnny B. Good
and accept the Nobel prize in sign language.

Flutter out. Butterfly back.

Do you want to tell me
about the voices that you hear?

Inside me is a Magic 8-Ball
that floats haiku in my navel.
The music of the spheres plays
in the hinge of my eyelids.
I am the namer and the named.

Crawl out. Float.

And what are you thinking about now?

There are too many.
There will not be enough.

Eighteenth Post

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This poem was published in the journal Tyuonyi in 1992. “Tyuonyi” is a Keresan word (and Keresan is a family of American Indian languages) meaning “the meeting place” as well as the name of a major prehistoric ruin in northern New Mexico.


let the shape
be the sound
of two violins which
as we know
or at least
I can tell you
is if
both are played
with equal intensity
only one
point three times
the sound of one or more
likely the shape
should be
doubled requiring
ten sounding oh come
let us let
a point on a line be
side a parallel
line escape its
apprenticeship in
poverty sink without
guilt to a comma or rise
beelike to more
glorious intersections why not
let me
be a riddle
and you be
like an edible
pawn or let
the falling
twilight of ash
groves succeed
daylight without
apology with
black birds demoted
acrobats standing low
rather let the shape
be the triangular beauty
of acknowledgment and daily
without regard
for the ratio of mass
to velocity
let the horizon
into the horizon