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
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.
THE CHARM BRACELET PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE
Integrated Functional Responsive Capability
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
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
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
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
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
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
This poem was published in Axe Factory III (1990).
—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
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.