the vulture eats between her meals a bottle fly, a pair of eels a rotting carcass in the ditch a taste to make your stomach hitch to tide her o'er till dinner bell a politician straight from hell putrid, lifeless, soulless lout see the vulture crunch his snout swallow his ears, his fingers, a toe spit out eyebrows, the tie must go even the vulture has her limits she vomits him out in a matter of minutes
How nice it would be if both one’s internal and external dialogues could be peaceful…
REHEARSAL FOR AN ARGUMENT
I am a square-shouldered
decision, a kite
snagged long ago,
my tedious semaphore
It’s snowing, but
I cut the sound:
everyone’s already heard
the scrape of claws
on tree bark.
Let them imagine
of each crystal flake
shattering on impact.
Placing my ear
to a rock,
I wait patiently
for the translation.
A thousand frosts later
the answer is
mine in a
of sturdy flour.
a lunge of knuckles
and there’s bread
While the meaning of words can and often does shift over time, there is often an echo of the original meaning that lingers.
The Good Girl sleeps quietly
with other women’s husbands.
Dimples cast in concrete,
she cleaves a breast of white meat;
a potato bursts in the oven.
At first, the word ‘win’ meant merely to struggle.
Homeostasis: maintaining a couch,
a fire, a coffee table behind your ribs,
fine art on your turbulent heart.
At first, ‘attack’ meant to stick a tack into.
The Good Girl has forgiven music
for the pain it has caused her.
Bathing herself in vanilla and almonds,
she gets a job and keeps it,
collecting her pay like rainwater
in clean pools and pockets.
Here are the morning, the noon, and the night,
her silent partners, investors
in waiting, their solar and lunar coins
strung out like a dazzling bracelet
shimmering a dance of lust.
This poem first appeared in The Centennial Review, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 2.
FIVE PEOPLE (HOMELESS)
- Sally, Inauguration Eve
This dirt gone?—white. I am
and Everyone says He’ll do the job
Give us hope but I was
wearing wool A-line skirts with
the very clouds above for shirts
last time, when my opinion
meant something. Click click
my tiny Italians on polished
boardroom floors Gentlemen,
I said I fail to see I
did fail to imagine this cardboard
throwing its brown cast on me.
- This Red Scarf
White clothes mean sticks in the arm
but if you stay clean sheets
one night or two. On the lake bank there were
white trees! I had ice skates.
They had no leaves so the light came through.
The Polish girls wore scarves tied under their chins.
I was no Polack but see, I tie this scarf
tight and keep my head down
watching for ice. You fall here
no boys laugh or help you up.
But if they stick you
they help you up real nice.
I’m used to being in charge
so this will be about you.
I want you to know I appreciate the aluminum cans
so neatly stacked beside the trash can.
I see you see me take them, see you hurrying
to meet my six o’clock pickup daily.
I admire your scheduling abilities:
kitchen scraps to the chickens before work,
the soft globs of their droppings to the compost heap
before dark; the garden weeded Saturday mornings,
fruit plucked and distributed to neighbors in the afternoon.
I would have hired you in the old days—
kept an eye on you, as they say—
I keep you a secret now,
for the cans.
What’s left of this planet is my home.
Birds are not afraid of me, curled in this bush,
unless I jerk my legs, dreaming
I fly with them over the roofs
and across the highways.
We eat the seeds that drop
and peck at the not-ripe pears,
scattering when the farmer comes
to nail his straw-filled savior to a post.
- When I Was One of the People
All these things I shall tell you are true.
When I was a warrior my skin flowed yellow, red and green
like the sashes of the old ones.
When I was a warrior I devoured the night
and spit stars at the immaculate moon.
When I was a warrior my courage rode in front of me,
a blind slave stolen from an enemy camp.
When I was a warrior the wind and I embraced with great joy
and we brought forth spring, summer, fall
and the weaver child, winter.
When I was a warrior I kept sadness behind my eyes, mute as light.
When I was a warrior I could swell until the earth was inside me,
feverish and bloody,
and I could sweat until the earth was healed
and I could bleed until the earth was whole.
I am the owl and the darkness now.
I am the hawk and the light.
I am the crack in the clouds now.
I am the wind in the night.
Well, we’re all freaks, of course, one way or the other.
THE MAN WITH NO WRISTS
cannot twist a poppy to pluck it
nor see in a single movement
the entire surface of an apple held aloft.
He admires the resilient wrists of women
washing clothes in the river,
the blurred wrists of pear packers,
the sturdy wrists of boys playing tug-o-war.
He watches the violinist’s bow arm
dance its sexy hula,
sneaks a look at anybody’s watch
at every easy chance.
Drunk, he slobbers over his mother’s
until she powers a slap
to his wet cheek.
The Amazing Man with No Wrists!
I bought a ticket to see him.
In the audience a woman waved,
her arm a fluted column,
fingers swaying like palm fronds.
A man threw pity like a discus.
Where can he see his heartbeat?
I wondered, looking at my slender table
with its feast for slicing.
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.
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