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

Piano Keys sm

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.

Passacaglia

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
consolation
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
disappear
into the horizon

Seventeenth Post

1450 Peregrine falcon sm

This poem was published in Axe Factory III (1990).

Reintroduction

for Sarah Rutledge Birnbaum

who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge

With its streamlined dive
toward slate gray waves
your peregrine spirit swift
cries a rattling kek-kek-kek
near the cold eyrie

then silent       Boated men
lift you with curved
hands feed you oxygen
concealed in a puppet
made to look like

your mother       On land
others incubate you in
a carton lined with
red mittens       Near your
closed eyes they place

wind-up alarm clocks ticking
like gopher hearts       Happily
they note the statistics
of your progress       You
will fly again

Sixteenth Post

A Flamingo Preens Its Long Orange Feathers

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
it becomes
—no
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.

Fifteenth Post

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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

Fourteenth Post

Fire Scorched Trees sm

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.

Lightning

To tell the truth

or

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

now.

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

determined

by monitoring the excitation of the

process.

I only have

Seventy-five hundred volts here to go

there.

A tribe of plastic squaws from Hong Kong

Within the fetters of long, straight skirts

Feedforward eliminates measured

disturbance.

I have only

The sound waves of air

heated to fifteen thousand degrees

Celsius.

The catachrestic nouns of my thirties

The profile of her lips in blue mountains

Thirteenth Post

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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).

 

Rain

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.

Twelfth Post

CR2_2631cf sm

I don’t usually explain poems, but I like readers to know that I wanted to write a poem to a heavily tattooed woman but also to address a poem to the whole Earth, and this is the result. It was published in Willow Springs (No. 37, Jan. 1996). The quoted poem at the top is copied exactly as found.

 

Binoculars on a Tattooed Lady

I’m Jane or
I’m not sure if I’m 
Jane or not.
I feel like Jimmie
but I could feel like
Marlena. I’m green
I could be a leaf. If
I were blue I could
the sky.
       poem by a homeless woman

I want to worship at the fins
of those procephalic dolphins caught
at the top of their arc out of the Sea of Cortez
garrisoned in your temple.

I want to smear
on your forehead ashes
from the collection of burned lovers
in the urn on your hip.

With you
an elbow becomes a category,
your ass a pasquinade.

Who says you don’t shoulder your burden
who burden your shoulder with that
sunken ship.

Asymmetric beauty
I want to soak you like an avocado pit,
pierce your clean body
and see what grows.

Eleventh Post

016 Palms

This poem was published in Writ, 20th Anniversary Issue (No. 21, 1989).  Though the inspiration was my love for Bermuda, I have a long-time deep affection for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as well, and their heartbreak and resilience are much on my mind.

Unedited

After you rode there on horseback

in the flowered breeze

under trees so sweet they curled shyly

when you touched them

you felt you’d earned the right

to lope on the crest like a movie star

absurdly romantic, impossibly attractive.

The sand was talcum powder

peach-colored and toast-warm as you ran

from your horse toward the surf.

In the warm waves that tumbled finned

people and little fish like dice

there was the surprise of not knowing

where your body ended.

Farther out you could gurgle

in rubber tubes and view widescreen technicolor drama

—your spongy hand visible on center screen

pointing with newfound grace

at purple lace waving under yellow trees

and rainbow actors skimming in and out

of orange doors. Back on the beach you’d eat

sweet onions glazed in sugar and rum

shared by whispering locals

sweet and shy as the bending trees.

When you rode back, imagining

your own silhouette against the orange sky

your thin shirt open in the still-warm breeze

the longtails swooped for insects

and the frogs sang like rusty swing-sets

behind the closing credits.

Tenth Post

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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.