Thank 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.
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
both are played
with equal intensity
point three times
the sound of one or more
likely the shape
ten sounding oh come
let us let
a point on a line be
side a parallel
line escape its
poverty sink without
guilt to a comma or rise
beelike to more
glorious intersections why not
be a riddle
and you be
like an edible
pawn or let
twilight of ash
black birds demoted
acrobats standing low
rather let the shape
be the triangular beauty
of acknowledgment and daily
for the ratio of mass
let the horizon
into the horizon
This poem, which I wrote about my father, was published in The North American Review (Vol. 281, No. 3, May/June 1996).
The Discomfort of Reincarnation
If you stare long enough at rain
I do not love information.
What I like to believe
is that at the last he was able
to lie down comfortably with no thoughts.
Not even the memory of our last time outdoors together
—his wheelchair parked at the edge of a kidney-shaped lagoon,
he and I nearly covered with ducks, geese and pigeons
grabbing fresh bread in whole slices and reaching for more.
December in Arizona and I was in shorts,
thrilled at the soft warm breasts of the geese
as they pushed against my legs.
He laughed in scattered short syllables that might
have been words.
I cry at the memory of my own complex laughter,
a fact I don’t care to examine.
He could be one of those selfish birds.
This poem was published in Writ (20th Anniversary Issue, no. 21, 1989).
Body Parts: Love Poem for Sarah
today he found a bag of human
hears in his back
yard weather the two-year-old
ate insects and sucked
wet leaves for five
days alone in the forest analysis when
translated to notes
the genetic codes in mouse
ribonucleic acid play
Chopin’s Nocturne opus 55
no. 1 correction he glued baby
shoes on the deformed goose
so it could walk viewpoints
the peregrine falcons kept the imitation
eggs warm sports rule 8: keep
one container of water
and two sponges in the pit
for rinsing dogs’ mouths during
scratches and switch
sponges with every scratch in
brief he placed the head section
in a heated tank with high-
quality earth nation the assemblyman
called the state mollusk
a bisexual pervert arts the chicken
grew rounder when it
listened to Vivaldi world the winner
of Moscow’s first beauty pageant
wore a tiny bathing suit
and praised perestroika leisure because
alligators have no lips
things go into their mouths
easily at home I love the soft part
between your toes where you
let me keep my fingers
This photo is of fire-scorched trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, northern Minnesota. This poem was published in Denver Quarterly (Vol. 27, No. 3, Winter 1993). The placement of ‘only’ is one of the keys to meaning.
To tell the truth
How analysis of the effects of disturbances can be reduced
to the calculation of an impulse response
I only want
Let time be the set of integers.
Binary fat fish near the
sheep-colored edge of a continent
Eighteen hundred thunderstorms are
I want only
The map is not bijective.
The boy with three coats on
Who sifts through out dumpster at dusk
A suitable forgetting factor can be
by monitoring the excitation of the
I only have
Seventy-five hundred volts here to go
A tribe of plastic squaws from Hong Kong
Within the fetters of long, straight skirts
Feedforward eliminates measured
I have only
The sound waves of air
heated to fifteen thousand degrees
The catachrestic nouns of my thirties
The profile of her lips in blue mountains
Thank you to everyone who has read my poems. Your visits mean a lot to me!
This poem was published in The Cream City Review (Vol. 18, No. 2, Fall 1994).
In this puzzle piece of desert
snugged close to its neighbors by Joshuas
and the suck of dryness,
death is a softening
—a limp half hour before one reassumes
the unyielding stance of any other day.
But this time your pushed-out arms,
set jaw, and stern face fail to sway me:
I have seen that pose
in wax museums and found it disappointing.
If the guard is away, I want to squeeze
a bloodless hand with my own warm, moist one,
suspecting both will change in some way.
I want to see the head,
tiled a bit more than would be comfortable,
jerk upright and complain.
If you could die again,
I would kiss you in the soft places
and wait like parched ground
for the rain of your complaint.
This poem was published in Denver Quarterly (Vol. 29, No. 01, Summer 1994).
My Father at Ninety
sees with a permanent
sort of déjà vu.
We ate here yesterday,
he growls, or,
you already carried that box in here.
The fool as always,
I continue to bring in the box
containing a book he has already read.
Remembering the future
as readily as the past,
he perches, mantislike,
on the fragile leaves of now.
In case time is linear,
the fool plants flowers.
Fools will, he says.
This poem was published in Writ, 20th Anniversary Issue (No. 21, 1989).
Song of the Mystagogue
You with your announcement of injustice
and you with the names of your friends–
You running sideways from the rules of priests
and you wrapped in the love of your mother–
You with your scarred hammer
and you with your thin line of words–
You with your insider’s wind
and you obsessed with entrapment–
You peering longingly at death
and you with your ancestor’s pictures–
Like those armless ducks standing
on top of the frozen river
Imagine owning nothing
and sing to me.
This poem was published in Interim (Vol. 20, Nos. 1 & 2, 1999).
What I Can Tell You
This apple orchard
is the instant your temper came unhinged.
This well-known novel
the instant your wife took new note
of the dark-eyed man in her physics class.
Turn left here, on the street marking
failure to understand
inability to remember
Count what you love
now count what you’ve lost:
The oxygen you inhale
is the number left over.
Cradled in a crack in the sidewalk
a beetle waits for your shadow to pass.
You darken whole minutes.
to crush the space beneath your feet
is the instant a window opens,
scattering birds from the rough sill.
This poem was published in Writ, 20th Anniversary Issue (Number 21, 1989).
The slightest tug on the left rein will do.
And you must look left.
suspended like a speedboat under you
skimming over the fence
will land on the correct hoof
allowing all the other hooves
the legs and their great body
to follow the head like a plant trailing a tossed pot.
For your part
to look like the spider
blameless in the flying ficus
perfect in landing, speedy in beginning anew
you must let all your many hinges
–ankle, knee, hip, elbow, finger, eyelid–
close and open like the doors of heaven
wholly unconscious of anyone’s effort.