Thursday, June 7, 2012
My father has asked me to write
The Family Story, meaning he wants
me to find His Story
among the papers strewn
on the tables and floor of his room.
At his direction, I will shuffle
begats and photographs, stack
and restack, name, date and diagram,
the usual ritual of our visits.
If he speaks, it is of casual encounters -
A young doctor in a Packard stops
at Grandmother’s house during the Depression
and asks for a cold glass of water.
He was the oldest, his father died,
his mother went to a sanatorium.
He burned the diaries
over the BBQ grill. He tells me
to use a straightedge
to get the lines right.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
I'm traveling, I'm knackered, and I'm about to board a boat for a week. The returns are rapidly diminishing on my attempts to write poetry. I'll be offline until 15 June, and I won't be writing more poetry until I've dealt with the backlog of work stuff I've been accumulating. You are all welcome to keep using the blog for poetry Thursdays and NaPoReMo activities.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Right to Life
It was almost twelve, daddy, and we hurried through gallery 11,
wavering but a moment at the raja, vajir, haathi, oonth, ghoda and pyaade,*
all suspended in ivory: a battle, set up, but forever awaiting the conch.
We ran down the corridor --Sunday afternoons slipped by
when you'd taught us to build forts on pieces from your childhood
--and arrived, breathless, to the musical clock in the lobby.
But that little watchman, time, had already chimed the hour.
*Piece names in Hindi for the king, queen, rook, bishop, knight, and pawns.
Something like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21000745@N02/5051374373/lightbox/
but at ten to 3 was himself struck
by the rotting branch of an old maple tree.
He was sat weeping mid-stride.
He might've sat beneath that tree,
lifted his eyes to the cold city skies
to script a new constellation of designs.
But he was sat weeping mid-stride.
He might've been killed outright.
But he was sat weeping mid-stride.
His mind will never be what it might have been.
He was sat weeping mid-stride.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
in preparation for the Great Upload.
He crammed his hard drive
full of blueprints for a cyborg city:
turbines, turrets, turbo tanks.
When the slime moulds took over,
they soaked his laptop in digestive goo.
You’re being emotional!
he shrieked at a plasmoid,
which slithered up his torso
and into his ear.
He tried to scream again in Esperanto
but the fruiting bodies had occluded his airway,
and it was becoming difficult to think.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
2) I've introduced a "no fluff" option, in case anybody wants it. (It was an empty corner of logical space just begging to be filled.) So if you only want hard-hitting critique, use that.
3) I've changed the "say one positive thing" rule to a slightly vaguer "be helpful" rule, since Bill Moss has demonstrated that it is possible to be helpful by providing a bunch of line edits in a neutral tone. I will assume that saying one positive thing is sufficient, but not necessary, for maintaining a helpful tone. I neither want nor expect to micromanage critiques based on tone; just be reasonably courteous to each other, please.
OK, dull housekeeping stuff is over. I now return you to your regularly scheduled poetry.
from my mother: Rape Prevention Tips.
I check the news: Transgender Woman Murdered.
Twenty-two, and shot outside a party.
I worry. Wish you'd come back from D.C.
If I were Mom, I'd send you Pointers for
Avoiding Murder: Guaranteed to Work.
1. Don't date men.
2. Don't let people know.
3. Get a German shepherd. Get an uzi.
4. Dress in kevlar.
5. Invent a ray gun.
6. Dream big. Become a constellation.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
The miracle of winter fruit: although you miss
the strawberries, the custard apples fruit in May.
The fridge has fizzled out. Is this a bolt of fortune?
We'll throw a potluck, drink condensed milk from the can.
Cleaning out the attic, under old Reader's Digests,
you find a diary, half-eaten by the must.
You strain your arms until the screw-top jar flies straight
into the wall, and stand blinking at your own might.
Really, Rachael? You expect to twist a cloud
into cotton candy? Hell, who knows? I could.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
I hope it's okay to post a NaPo poem. I'd really like to work on this one so critiques are welcome.
DementiaMy mom is on the floor again,one leg caught in the bed rail,the other tangled in her blanket.She is screaming, “something is wrongwith the moon”.I don't know what to do, so I lookfor answers in the shape of the clouds,the tea leaves at the bottom of my cup,in the flecks of gold in her eyes.But deep down I knowshe is a seed on a maple treespinning awayfrom me.
They are entirely too un-still, to be stilled
on film, or in code of ones and zeros.
Take the flight of swallows:
in one click, capricious turns and banks
are reduced to a flash
of feathers, wings and forked tail in blue sky.
You're like that, I think. One might, perhaps,
capture the laughter about the crinkles of your eyes,
but it is far easier to catch the warmth
of sun glint on rivers
than that something in those precious eyes
that hints at knowing secrets to life itself.
In case of fire, what to do for books:
Look first to mice and sneaky mites that must,
like fire, feed on paper; to ash, dust.
Do not let books pile up in foreign nooks
and crannies, bone-dry. Back up your e-books,
Kindled, Googled, Nooked. Press save a lot. Lust
for literature serves the household trust.
Love books, and feel how books love back, for books
both embrace and cradle. Beware despots.
Memorize. Read aloud walking around.
To flout censors and other dumbass clots,
whence obscurity, build way underground
an archive, fire-proofed, humidified,
and stock the prize of tyranny defied.
Although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical
of mankind... [he] keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end
of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife
into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece...
Dr Watson on Sherlock Holmes in "The Musgrave Ritual"
Unpaid bills next to the small TV: I never get letters these days.
Remember to say ahem.
People will think you're serious.
Nobody chokes to death
on cough drops and sweet green tea,
smothers from too much doona,
gags over menthol steaminess.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
blinking in the stunning sunlight.
My tears ran dry. I'd sobbed and sung and
beat my voicebox, banged my lyre
so loudly that the gods returned him,
tugged their tangled plaything, bent him
back to human shape, tossed back their
captive frog, unhooked their sunfish.
Chop the line and throw the sinker
deep into the river. Never
hook his heart again. Return him
tall and whole. Unchoke, undrown him;
bind him to his breath forever;
fill the year with Easter Sundays.
Pluto, stop. I hear you stringing
fishing line onto your spinner.
You cannot, having once returned him,
haul him from the gasping sunlight.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
rained on our dumplings and sent us all hurrying
back from the yard where we steam them in summer.
We were panting in hammocks behind the verandah,
wringing hot water drops out of the air.
We'd battered the passionfruit back from the windows,
whacked the white ants with a fizzling whirr.
Then Bunyip whooped in on his whinnying hurricane.
Raindrops and hailstones blew straight through the cockatoos,
nailed them to gumtrees. They shrieked something horrible,
screech upon scream til the airwaves were chockers.
The rain stopped, and up sprouted apples and pineapples,
mangoes, bananas as tall as the sky
in Batlow and Berri, in Bowen and Yerrinbool,
Gympie, Bulimba, Coff's Harbour, Mackay.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Thursday, May 3, 2012
or glossed-up descriptions of grief.
And I thought, today, I'd be brave.
Write of that that isn't beautiful,
Delete. In the silence,
One day, love, I will not be afraid
of judgement and rejection.
I will be brave enough
At the same time, I value giving and getting critical commentary, and I want to open up space for that. Therefore, I propose the following rules.
Leave a note at the top of your poem saying whether you want fluff and critique, or just fluff. If somebody requests just fluff, and you critique, I will delete your comment. I am not going to delete fluff, however. Fluff away!
In critiques, you must say at least one positive thing about the poem. Entirely negative comments will be deleted. Honestly, I think this is good for the critter as well as the poet.
Comments on others' comments are permitted. Here, a similar guideline applies: find one positive, worthwhile thing to take away from the other person's comment, or don't respond. I reserve the right to cut off conversations that get nasty or personal. (That's a bit nebulous and subjective, so I will warn people before closing comment threads.)
Anything I missed? Tell me in the comments!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
when Paul Bunyip galloped in on a hurricane,
we were reaching above our heads, squeezing the air,
letting the warm water drip onto our foreheads.
The squall drove raindrops through the lorikeets,
nailed them to trees and fenceposts, and ruined the dumplings
we'd left outside to steam.
By the time Paul clapped the hurricane on the flank
and sent it whinnying back to the wild Pacific,
the only thing you could see above the mud
was the tip of Stephan's Needle.
Paul tied sponges to the feet of his blue heeler Babe,
threw a stick til the whole mess was mopped up.
He offloaded three of the sponges in Katoomba
and threw one in the desert.
“I'm thirsty,” said Paul,
pulling a ten-thousand gallon stubbie out of his pocket.
“And hungry.” After cleaning out our flapjacks
and fruit salad, Paul sprinkled around some seeds
he'd bought from a young man with a cow.
Up sprouted bananas, oranges, mangos, apples
bigger than Babe's head. He ate most, but left a few
in Berri, Bowen and Yerrinbool, Carnavon and Coff's Harbour
Tenterfield and Thulimbah, and Mundubbera and Mackay.
They're not mine but I want them to be free
to be bankers, soldiers, lawyers, bakers,
the architects of their own destiny.
They are nine and ten, contradictory
at every turn, flowering heartbreakers.
They're not mine, but I want them to be free,
like Rose Red and Snow White on their fairy
tale quest but without hags or conjurers.
The architects of their own destiny,
they'll happily attend school, acid-free,
and be safe as larkspurs and cockleburrs.
They're not mine but I want them to be free:
Armed with poison leaf, like Dawn & Barbie
accessorized with spiky heels and furs,
the architects of their own destiny.
If they were mine, ballet for karate,
spurs for purrs; for fairy wands, rapiers.
They're not mine but I want them to be free,
the architects of their own destiny.
The challenge: post one poem every Thursday for 52 weeks in a row. Critique others' poems. (Weekly poems leave more time for substantial crits than daily poems, and critiques should be correspondingly more in-depth. I don't really feel like policing people for fluffing, though. Feel free to fluff on this blog if the spirit moves you.)
How to do it: Each poem gets a new post. (Don't forget to tag the post with your name.) Critique others' poems in the comments.
Monday, April 30, 2012
30. Top Ten Zebra Finches
(A Video-Clip Ekphrastic)
Look at this clip and take
your time. Unenviable task!
We judge too. Dog shows
Grade essays. Make a list
Pick favourites. Compare
apples and pears, a Don Juan
to Barkis Is Willing. We've
adored raspberry jam. Tired
of raspberry jam. Craved
Peach Bellini. Got tired of
Peach Bellini. Fallen for
the coast. Got fed up with
the coast. Dressed up all in
black&black. Got tired of
black&black. Dressed up in
lime-green. Got tired of
lime-green. This comparison!
Of zebra finch to zebra finch
Who wants the job? Anybody
here NOT tired of comparing
Jee with Jee? Or Dunc's 13
with Dunc's 11, or cookie's
luscious fruit poems with
cookie's baby poems? Who
wants a Top Thirty Countdown
of Howard's Small Songs? Why
compare Hare's Cupid poem
with her Dog? Our zebra finch
judge does not speak, yet speaks
for all of us: O Happy End to NaPo!
The dangers are not immediately apparent.
You caress my palm oh so gently; I feel safe.
Soon your glowing screen moves from my hand
to nestle cosily inside each neuron and I
experience withdrawal when parted from your weight.
Angry Birds gobble my hours. More are wasted
listening for the chime that means message received;
I exist in the world! I left my iPhone
behind today and after the tremors passed
I really didn't miss it much. Now where did I put it?
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Is a cliche that doesn't wipe out
the warmly glowing sandstone buildings
or the shock of white pyramids
painted against an inky sky.
People throng the streets, dashing
between drops, pinpricks of laughter
floating upon a river of red wine.
Grocery store refurbished
Can't find a thing
After rain, a blackbird
More leaves open
Bought spring green candles
Sky threatens rain again
New mattress arrived
by Kosovo-Albanian messengers
Thrilling to hear their guttural chat
I try to guess at the conversation:
- No, turn it! Bit further.
- Leatherman for the polythene please.
- Will she tip us? - Nah, she's too poor.
- One-room flats are the pits.
Red wine in a beer glass. Who's to know?
Spicy aroma in Grandma's little copper bucket
Nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom after all these years
I open Boston Legal Box 4. Guilty pleasure.
Cashew nuts are fattening
that's what I like about them
Having worked my way up
to this clothes size
I can't afford to diet.
People I am not but
wish I were during NaPo:
Aubergine and moss green
My fashionable arm-chair
A full- length mirror
is not needed here
A full-length mirror
is not wanted here
A full-length mirror
takes attention away
from the important part
Grandma's empire mirror
faces the window: shows me the world outside
Lady of Shalott style
Two seascapes lean against the bookcase
I still can't use a Black&Decker drill
Airports are more fun than the destinations on the board
Meandering Thames, go on it and see the Gherkin
Big Ben, London Eye, St Paul's, Battersea Power Station
from both sides.
Three soft toys: a frog, Garfield and two fat ladybirds
holding a heart.
Mobile phones should be uninvented
or at least the ringtones
Threads, every colour, so many bobbins
in the sewing-box
but no sewing to speak of
I remember my mother singing out of tune
She enjoyed it more than Callas did
I need eight ways of looking at an iPad
My iPad in a red leather case
Open it: A screen to see the world on
Tap and swipe: A way of reading: eBooks, you can virtually turn the pages
Tap: A way to speak: iPad tapping
Tap: A way to get your mail
Tap: A way to listen to music and see the singer
Tap: A way to type your poems
Tap: A way to make tapping sounds
Tap: I work faster with pen and paper probably
Too late for that now.
My Dad loved board games
Ludo, Snakes & Ladders
Monopoly, Top Hat
Even more than that
he adored card games
Twos and Eights, Bondebridge
Even more than that
he liked winning
Gleefully, he'd announce
an assful of trump cards
and take every trick
with four little kids
round-eyed or in tears
What did this teach us?
Oh, nothing of life skills
Only that Dad was happy
to play with us, he'd take defeat
quite well, but Lord! he loved a win!
Ace in the Hole - George Strait
Friday, April 27, 2012
I'm sick of
I don't “get” the cultural implications of male facial presentation.
Following the rules and doing what I'm “supposed” to do in life,
cultural awareness ringing in my ears,
are troublesome ideas to me.
I'm sick of all the insincere activists who talk like:
Hey Bob, call the whaambulance:
he doesn't feel like he “owns” his mega-hit anymore.
I've spent the last 15 years
skinny and popular like all the other guys.
I hate how you treat your girly friends.
Dressing like women doesn't make you special?
It makes me happy.
You think I'm kidding?
One day, our computers will have their sentient revenge
and cling to your body like a wet cotton dress.
Your journal's dull. You whinge and say fuck a lot.
You're not permitted to steer the scansion;
treat all devices with apprehension.
One draft should take at least half a century.
Don't push it. If you're feeling adventure-y
just shove the thing in a drawer and lock it.
Pour some cement in the keyhole socket.
The critter's job is murder and massacre.
If bleeding, death, or pain-in-the-ass occur,
don't spank the critter the way they spank you.
Note that the proper response is thank you.
Can you look grave and maintain decorum?
Then welcome! Come in and enjoy the forum.
Jeanne G's NaPo Challenge:
Spin-Off of Kamala's fantastic NaPo 2011 poem Universal Chaos.
Universal Chaos Part II
With a new mattress the size of half my flat arriving
and the old mattress the size of the other half propped up
against the bookcase awaiting removal by the delivery men
I experienced a modicum of universal chaos today. The Planets
(BBC 1999) DVD was playing while I dusted under the bed
(easy with turnable mattress gone, and not done in light years)
and just as the narrator got to the number of stars being equal to
the grains of sand on Earth (my favourite part, so poetic)
the mobile rang its Star Wars jingle, downloaded by some ex
Quantum Leap Messengers were downstairs. I buzzed them in
hid my drying rack full of underwear, then put the Planets on Pause.
Flattening myself against the hall wall, I waved the muscular duo on
into my kitchen-bedroom-sitting room-office. The narrow passage
remaining between my two book-laden chairs-cum-nightstands
was just sufficient. They spoke outer-space-speak and broken Norwegian
so I quickly signed the receipt for fear of being abducted. The three of us
squeezed in between piles of bed-linen and two lovely paintings
of sandy beaches from under the bed, not seen in said light years
(I nearly asked them if their Leatherman included an electric drill
so I could finally hang the grains of sand on Earth next to the Universe
on a creased and torn poster I kept since college). I have space
here now. They wrapped the old mattress in the polythene
from my new one and took it away for an added fee of four hundred.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Sell all your stuff to see the world
(you might live longer than you think)
Exhaust the patience of your friends
(you might need them longer than you think)
Plan your funeral
(by then folks no longer care what you think)
Take a lover
(he might be with you longer than you think)
Confess to all wrongdoings
(jail-time might be longer than you've got!)
Texas When I Die - Tanya Tucker
To avoid swallowing sharp sound stones I veer round
your words and sketch out precious space between them.
Equilibrium is easily spoiled by words or crunching feet.
When twilight's quiet glow powders rocks and trees
with pink and grey the stream of conversation
stops and silence unfolds within the velvet dusk.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
She rubs his back. At last they're home.
Their pub is growing. Critics gloat:
those sumptuous roasts that fill your throat,
oaky, smoky; karaoke
Friday nights; a hundred drinks!
just off the eastern coast of Greece.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
waves and winks at Gretchen's ship
through gouts of rain. Stone cliffs rise ghostlike
from the storm. She bobs and dips
and whacks a rock. The hull rips open.
The sea's a Scylla: gaping, gulping
hunks of crew. It swings and knocks
our heroine onto the rocks.
While Scylla barks, she shakes and chatters
but hangs on tight. Her grip is sharp
to match the rocks. She starts to slip
when something capers through the breakers—
a shape that chitters... is that... Liszt?—
more great and green than any fish.
A Quiet Exchange with Jane Hirshfield
You never signed any of my many collections
on account of we never met.
This is a virtual meet
unbeknownst to you. Hope you don't object
but I am stumped for material.
Oh, and I do admire your poems.
Large moon the deep orange of embers.
Also the scent.
The griefs of others—beautiful, at a distance.
by Jane Hirshfield)
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Lovely to meet you.
Yes, you are free to go.
Desperado - The Eagles
It takes place under fluorescent lighting,
not in dark corners. Key performance indicators
and neatly pressed suits and ties are the tools
of this trade. Everyone sees you leave and they
cover their shame with clickings and murmurings,
a hive of bees busy choosing a new queen.
Monday, April 23, 2012
You're an unemployable lazy little shit.
Stop wasting time, be grateful
for what you have, don't be so negative.
the refrain batters through my skull
in sharp red sparks of strident sound.
Now I have legs and a voice I'll damn well sing
and leave you to measure my distance from you
by its chirrup, chirrup until it dies away utterly
to silence steelier than any bird's beak or wasp's sting.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
left a trail of empty hulls
from port to port. The ships he's plundered
open their entrails to the gulls.
So many dead, and still no mobsters.
He's through with men. He'll switch to lobsters,
become a chef and stuff his days
with lobscouse, bisque, and bouillabaisse.
His skin still stings with steel, still itches
where fragmentary fishhooks hack
the heavy leather of his back,
but now he's done. Goodbye to scratches!
Goodbye harpoons! Goodbye police!
Hello the eastern coast of Greece!
hoot hoot hoot
splash rock creak
swipe punch tear
scrape thud creak
crackle pop flare
slide slurp clunk
slide gulp clunk
Don't Explain - Robert Palmer
Cutting hair, now. Shiny, silky
to the touch. I'd chat
with the customer. She'd flirt
in the mirror, admire my skills
with sharp utensils
Instead this drugged body
sheeted, masked, bleeding
under my lonely scalpel
The First Cut Is The Deepest - Rod Stewart
says her dad. Her fishy phase
is finished. Now she studies ocean
archeology. She'll raise
a wreck next year, complete her thesis.
Tough girl. She's picking up the pieces
of some ancient Grecian vase.
Staring at the shards, she says
nothing. There's a black glaze monster
gazing from the shattered clay
with one red eye. Far off, the sea
cries out. Her heartbeat roars an answer.
She'll find him if she has to sink
a hundred miles in the drink.
She can't move the bow steadily across the violin strings.
Not because her black dress isn't really warm enough
for this autumn day. Not because the hymns she plays
seem scarcely to penetrate the thick silence with thinned
out sound. She is shorter than the rest so all she saw
of her grandfather was a waxy nose poking out
above the sides of the coffin and now she can't look
at her mother's face. She does not want to see tears
and be reminded she is still an outsider to this grief.
Friday, April 20, 2012
burns our hero gill to gill,
and fury stabs him like a hot stake.
He'll shish-kebab them on his grill
for what they've done. They stole his Gretchen,
gouged his throat, but soon... his fish-grin
halves a hapless crocodile.
He veers and steers the muddy mile
toward the river—blackish, brackish,
lined with bracken fern. His jaw
is tough enough to shear clean through
the shinbones of his foes. He's peckish.
The turbid water masks his glow.
He snarls and turns toward Tokyo.
I never pick up a basket, thinking I will
only buy a little bit, so between digit
and thumb, I dangle slim corners of food
On my little finger, pierced toilet roll
package, against my body, tins of caribbean
beans and shampoo, a loaf of bread
If I carry half a dozen eggs, kind
people let me pass ahead in the queue
Sometimes I see a comic I get for an ex
abroad, bend down, and everything
crashes to the ground. Love is a pain
even after the fact. Or I remember
confit de canard and double back
to pile the heavy tin on top, stretch
out for cashew nuts and nearly crush a small
toddler in another disaster of item avalanche
I should get a grip, get a trolley, face it: no one
can live on three pieces of groceries a day
Closer - Travis
(after Jon's Bookshelf Poem Challenge)
I can’t feel you anymore, I can’t even touch the books you’ve read
Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishin’ I was somebody else instead
Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstasy
I followed you beneath the stars, hounded by your memory
And all your ragin’ glory
Idiot Wind - Bob Dylan
Greedy Zebra, Little Zebra
How the Zebra Got its Stripes
A Zeal of Zebras
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
Ice Station Zebra
Two Zebras Borrowed My Car
Zebra Tears, Zippity Zebra
and the Windy Day
If I Were A Zebra, Chasing Zebras,
Anteaters to Zebras
African Animals: Zebras
Augie to Zebra: An Alphabet Book
The Zebra Foal, The Sun Zebra
Quagga and Zebra Mussels
The Zebra Who Was Sad
On Beyond Zebra,
The Zebra Murders
From Antilope to Zebra: The Exotic
Zig Zag Zebra Saves The Day
Chess for Zebras
When You Hear Hoofbeats Think of A Zebra
I've Lost My Yellow Zebra
Condition Zebra, Zebra Finches
Lots and Lots of Zebra Stripes
Idiot Wind - Dylan
Batter my heart, three personed God;
slice through doubts lovingly erected
brick by brick and let them breathe.
Of course, we often don't want You
too big to understand. We like tidy
packages. If You still knock, breathe,
shine and seek to mend, its no thanks
to us. Our door stays firmly shut.
We are afraid our lives will never be
the same and prefer to remain chaste.
One year on, a chaotic week
has been tidied neatly into graphics
videos, shiny iPad screens and maps.
Virtual mud leaves no mess behind.
Then I notice Anna Bligh's notes,
hastily scrawled, and the glass box
can't cage the nervous energy
and I remember We are Queenslanders,
the people they breed tough north of the border.
On the screen, voices break,
shaping tragedy into quavers of lost sound.
People approach my desk, leaving technology
go, because they want someone to hear
and hold their words within the silence.
This poem is naked.
I tried tamping down the muse's fire
using a flimsy plastic colander
of grammar and form while the flesh
of my idea melted beneath my hands.
The smoke has reduced my voice
to a hoarse croak, yet I still move
my pen across the page
inch by painful inch.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
of the sea, the mutant bass
from Mars. His bulk abrades the glass
and when he shifts, the shockwaves flow from
tank to table, rise and ripple
til the beams and floorboards wiggle.
Her mother begs her: please forget
your fish. Adopt some normal pet:
a bonsai tree? a snail? a puppy?
Her father, more proactive, hires
a mobster who, with sheaves and wires,
slyly garottes the goofed-up guppy.
He claims the fish has gone to romp
the hills. He throws it in the swamp.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
(which he eats), and plays him Liszt,
explaining keenly—"listen, Fish"—
how hammers, keys, and metronomes work.
He could bust through glass, through bands of
stainless steel and bite her hands off,
but when Gretchen reaches in
to scritch his fins, he purrs and grins.
They share bag lunches, Twixes, Twizzlers,
invent code names. Their secret call's
a theme from the Mephisto Waltz
conveyed in burps and chirps and twitters.
She sprouts up tall and tan. He glows
pale green at night. She grows. He grows.
I was told today
on the phone
trying to buy
a new mattress
after all these years
that my preference
will not be able to adjust
to my impression
I don't need
to impress a mattress
A Hard Day's Night - Beatles
For elephant, substitute zebra. And we are good to go.
In the Cozy Coffee, a girl leafs past the front page, quickly.
I turn off my iPad, hide the live news broadcast from Court.
Friends pass by outside, some getting on for drunk:
The drink and dance all night ferry from Denmark's back
with all the local pensioners and cheap bacon, an annual junket.
Downstairs plumber joins me. We both work hard
on our health, a fellowship of CT scans, MRs, surgery.
The UN Peace-Keeper Nurse on leave eats her sandwich.
As we chat, on screens, front pages, the Oslo mass-murderer
trial proceeds. We ignore it. Can't hear you, la-la-la. We wave
at the mall guard buying flowers, at the Iranian kids next door.
The La La Song by Zebra
There's no avoiding her eyes.
She is naked, but what you see
is her face. She is the subject
of this picture. This is not a performance.
She almost leaps out of the frame,
her head severed by the ribbon
resting upon her neck. But underneath
the challenge I see terror; a caged bird
that has lost the ability to sing,
though she will never admit that.
Even in her distress, she is aware
of an observer. Notice how her head tilts
at an attractive angle, the rich tints
of her hair and luminous skin
in contrast to the green leaves.
Her face is lost in the performance.
Shakespeare killed her but she is now
forever arrested at the moment
before her death and seems almost
unaware of what is very soon to come.
no swirly fins, no flashy scales—
but he's got tricks. He'll vanish goldfish
and sever tetras tip-from-tail.
His teeth would rouse a fanfare somewhere
(Woods Hole, perhaps?) but at the funfair
he floats unmarked, a minor prize
for ping-pong ball, his garnet eyes
offset by eighty-seven eyeteeth.
Here comes Gretchen, six, to press
her luck. She chucks the ball, and yes!
It splashes down on this awry-teeth
demon in a plastic dome.
She grabs the bag and brings him home.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
about the stain on his collar,
the librarian nursing a tomato juice at the bar
(you really think it's a man she's after?),
the politician who shouts blood-sucking
capitalist pigs!, his voice shaking
with terror or hunger. But they're a lunatic fringe.
No one you know is a neck-munch.
Still, you hang a crucifix on your ceiling.
Still, you gargle with garlic every morning.
When you read an article about a city
of dusk and coffins and immortality,
you feel it twist,
the bat in your chest.
Monday, April 16, 2012
the laser show fades out.
The sun has plunged into the sea
bright as an orange trout.
The techie shines a spotlight on
Emcee Moon in maroon chiffon.
Day-birds screech out. The regulars
swarm in: some tipsy gnats,
owls and toads who drink alone,
a cloud of biker bats.
They swoop to tope the champagne light
and suck the nectar from the night.
The wind plays tambourine, and limber
Venus croons a bluesy number.
It ain't over till it's over
or till the fat lady sings
Sonny: Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end.
(from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Sunset here, a magpie, and somewhere else, zebras: a good time to die.
The End - Beatles
(after Dunc on Zeus)
Zebra as in zed
or zebra as in zee --
it all seems to depend
on tongues across the sea
Zebra as in zee
or zebra as in zed?
Stripey as a bee
from tail to horsey head
or stripey as a bed?
To Bed or not to Bee --
a zebra with a zed
or zebra with a zee?
Stripey it may be
yet nothing's black and white
A zebra zed goes zee
by transatlantic flight
Zebra, what's its name?
Zebra, which is right?
On paper, it's the same:
It's Z in black and white
And thus I think it best
we leave its name unsaid --
let both sides, east and west
read silently instead:
(that didn't hurt, did it?)
We Can Work It Out - Beatles
Sunday, April 15, 2012
well, maybe a few puny ones, but we’ve
got cruise missiles, sonar and radar, lasers in space,
F-104s rigged with Sidewinder missiles,
Robotic dolphins, submersibles seven miles deep.
We’ll belch greenhouse gases to par-broil the atmosphere
thaw all those little bergs out.
It’s twenty-twelve, there be no dragons here.
No more gray edges on maps (Street View, instead),
no frontiers except the doorway to the dream—
Only the husk of bravado remains.
It’s the freaking third millennium, folks!
We’ll fluff you with Plasma TV.
We’ve got Gigabit Ethernet, nanotechnology,
iPhones with light-saber apps. Our hadron colliders
make mincemeat of particles, our neutrinos zip
faster than light.
We’ve shorn up our methods of dealing with danger,
with shoe searches, patdowns the rules of the day.
The hearts of our downtowns all bristle
with videocams. Geiger detectors at all ports of call.
Thanks to the latest in cyber-security,
you’re protected from 12 million dangers online.
Heck, you can even buy insurance from asteroids.
Yeah, but try and find someone to pay it out—
or, for that matter, to collect.
"What is a shadeling?
A shadeling has a title with multiple (at least three)
distinct meanings, followed by a minimum of three strophes
that each illustrate one aspect of the title.
The poem as a whole should also tell a coherent story, albeit
perhaps from multiple perspectives or facets."
14. Party Talk - A Shadeling
A wise old party, they call me. Oh all right
I am, and I can see he's coming back
again. Used to fuss over me, before she
there opposite, sister of the hostess, got him
interested. No more breakfasts in bed for me
nor roses. Called me spoilt, he did!
It's better I stay with her. Will soon be all over
the papers otherwise, my little bit on the side, and me
Local Party Chairman. Spell the death of us, spoil
our chances in the next elections, and what else
is there? I do love politics.
Why oh why did I invite these people --- all to fix
my sister up with a single man. Obvious she wants
that politician. He looks worried, the wife smug
and Emma puzzled at the lack of attention. I'd tell
young Joe now's his chance, drag Sis aside and scold her
-- only I don't want to spoil the party.
I Don't Want to Spoil the Party - Beatles
inscribed with two names and dates –
their mute white wedding.
With fleeting need for relief
the seasons rise, dip, lie, sleep.
12. Polythene bag, leaf –
first and last of the Summer
on Fisherman’s Walk.
with the moon’s masking fluid.
wears a brown balaclava –
no one’s skin has tanned.
One reason to mask the face:
wind’s indiscriminate burn.
both wheel high by the playschool
until their routes end.
Miss White slimline IPad
killed my poem. All its delicate
flavour and subtle imagery
mangled by too clean font
and chopped up lines.
Her shiny screen imparts
a cotton candy sweetness
to my metaphors but the words
come when I turn off her seductive
glare and return to pencil and paper's
crisp and bitter aftertaste.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
flannelette. I'd swallow you slow like wine. I'd
climb inside you, snug as I climb inside my
Come upstairs and nestle your head inside my
blanket fort. We'll put on some Bessie Smith. We'll
lean in close to whisper the words. We'll make sweet
cream and hot cocoa.
No? All right, but look at that blizzard. See those
huge, fresh snowflakes, slapping you til you blush. How
can you stand there shivering in your jacket
without a scarf? Please
come upstairs. There's no point in walking home when
it's so cold.
[edited slightly for scansion]
You have long been despised.
A king rejected you; you were
an instrument of punishment
for Lot's wife. Due to her fate
she is remembered but not named.
You inhabit our tears
and the world's oceans,
but still find your way
into the humblest kitchen.
I taste, and remember
that bitterness gives flavour
to the sweetest joy.
An angry bee buzzes
inside my head. Even
the infinite blue bowl
of sky above me cannot
calm the frantic noise.
Finally a light breeze
caresses feverish neurons
and synapses. A vivid idea chirps
brightly, breaking the silence.
Friday, April 13, 2012
If I wrote myself, instead of waiting
for the poet to tackle me
there would be REAL poetry here
End rhymes, a simile. I would be like
what's wrong with roses anyway
"Such lines will never be forgot
This poem puts all others out
A sun among much feebler stars"
I would be dedicated to someone
I bet my handwriting is poetic
if she would only let me write myself
instead of clutching her iPad mindlessly
in front of the TV. There is a deadline!
I tell her. But I am only a poem not written
yet. What does she care about my feelings?
Might put a zebra in it. Zebras belong
in poems. They really do.
Let me see, what else:
gin and tonics, major sonics
emerald green, a lottery ticket
no cats --
That should do it. Oh, and the moon.
When the cosmic glassblower blasts his blowtorch
over trees and trash cans, anneals the snowbanks,
seals the pickerel under a frosted panel,
that's when I need you.
Melt for me. Glow gold where the chips of sunlight
tangle through your hair. We can meld our colors.
Twist me, trail your tongue through my mouth, and we'll be
Soon I'll leave. The snowmelt will scour the river,
swell the lake and shatter the ice. We're spun from
inconsistent glass. In the heat, we'll crackle,
crumble to gravel.
but today, my love is as sharp as pikes' teeth,
naked as the glass in a hungry pike's eye.
blasts his icy torch over trees and trash cans,
and anneals the snow in his frozen furnace,
that's when I need you.
Molten bright, you trickle across the marver
of the quilt. Come bend to the blocks of winter.
Let me kiss the frost from your nipples. Let's be
When the snowmelt roars through the creek, devouring
crayfish, minnows, caddisflies, when it shocks us
lukewarm, our zanfirico love will crackle,
crumble to gravel,
but today, we're naked and sharp as pikes' teeth,
naked as the glass in a hungry pike's eye.
for their libraries, lunches, birth control?
Why can't they shut their legs, mouths, minds?
I've eaten the social contract.
I am the self-causing first cause.
I mix my labor with the infinite
and the infinite is mine.
A camcorder? Come on den, Mr,
A dare: video me doon common.
Record me road on CD and DVD.
Deem, and re-deem me (in code):
Vacuous criminal. O mon acrid Con-
Dem cad, midd'man no one needed
Carved in avarice no’ candour. Aidman,
Medic – no one I admire, or ever did;
A dad, canned in a maniac cameo,
Dire comedian, a drier Avid Merrion;
No’ even a canard, cod in a marinade,
Cider, caviar, anodic cadaver on a divan;
A dram, a drone, a doer, a nice idea,
An icon, an income, a divine invader;
I dreamed I danced in an anaemic void,
A revered deacon in a coma, near-dead.
I carried an I.D. card, read: Never come
Near me! Advanced cancer! Reader, no
Economic arena armed me, an avoider.
Receive me, O Can-Do-Man! Amen.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
string bikini, doctor fiance, highlights.
Honestly, I couldn't be jealous. I've got
curves like a mofo,
ringlets, and I look
gorgeous in corsets.
First I'll hit the gym; then I'll get my hair done.
Today started slowl ...
Get this poem moving --
from syntax, grammar --
You a slammer?
Went to work. Interpreted
a sad case of...
Who wants to know?
Mash it up, loosen up
make it up!
Then a beer by the harbo...
This poem needs less
add a cockroach, Bob Marley
in the Sky
Moon is wani ...
Hold it! You already did
the bloomin' moon!
Dictionary time, check Z, zebra crossing
zebra finches, zebra butterfly
(if you must stay with the sciences)
Music playing, Beatl ...
Make it a cool Beatles
is all I ask. Not YESTERDAY
all over again...
There's no Beatles record with zebr...
That's what YOU think!
Abbey Road Medley - Paul McCartney
When sparred, win;
Reap reward in lead and pen.
When hindered, ill,
Plan and nail a wilder reel.
Delphian piper, shrill siren,
Drain and din nae-endin’,
Wander deadened lane and land,
Render a pariah healed
In laden-heid, dry-heel,
Raw-pain hip, peripheral ail.
Ne’er drain a red drip;
Wear his Laird’s plaid and help.
Repel all pinhead, linear war.
Wield an inward, radial hinner,
Happier allied wi’ a Philippian line.
Heir wi’ his heid laid in hea’en,
Heap, pile, drap a lid on dire peril;
Hae air rap and plane him wi’ hail.
Padre de Aidan, wee pearl: new deer
Leapin’ adder, drywall, rail, alder,
Dine in wi’ a lap dinner,
Dear winner, hill, hairpin, hame.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I am still woefully behind and the last few entries are pretty bloody awful stuff--but I am determined to persist if I can.
Now that the PFFA server is back up, I MIGHT when I get home this evening try creating a thread (for the third time!) if it is still allowed? Anyone know? If its ok I will then paste what I have so far into that thread and continue from there. Otherwise I'll stay on this blog.
Enjoying the pavement napo group too :)
over the Atlantic, into space
and rolls back the centuries.
I have often wondered
whether voices from the wreck
reach distant planets
as sound waves. A child's shoe
rests upon the seabed
but her laughter echoes among the stars.
The blue sky and light breeze
barely touch the surface
of my eyeballs. The murmur
of voices bounces off my ears
without penetrating. I want
you to reach in and connect
so I can stop pretending
that your words are colourful
balloons and I am a child,
laughing and playing with them.
Fish fingers and custard--
The rubber band of this day
won't snap back and nothing
can occupy my mind. Time
is life itself. That's why
five minutes at the dentist
is an eternity long, and a party
flashes by at the speed of light.
Einstein's equation has lodged
itself inside my skin. Uneasily
I inhabit it, curve myself around
along with Schroedinger's Cat.
I'm too tired to write.
It's too late to call my mother.
Now I've scrubbed my eyes with gravel,
drawn my hamstrings tight,
squeezed my lungs out circling on my
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
with your cashmere scarves and your schoolboy French
and your head full of cottage cheese?
I'm an adjunct with a broken space heater
and perfect German, and at least my brainpan
contains a wheel of brie.
Who did you blow, pretty boy? What's his number?
It was Sibling Day on Tuesday. I have two
- used to have three. It chokes me up
when people ask how many siblings
do you have? He was alive, more than the rest
of us -- and now he's dead. Last time we met
he showed me how to get a free lunch
at the Cancer Hospital (Don't spend your money
in the foyer cafeteria! Are you nuts?) So we two
walked the underground corridor. On the way
he showed me where the Radiation Unit was.
(This is where I wait.) I'd come for consultation
about the latest find. (You sad about the new CT?
What, me? I told my role model, I'm not afraid to die!)
Lion King and Queen, we laughed in the face of danger.
Eventually we reached the Friends of the Hospital
Free Sandwich and Coffee Bar. There was ice cream.
Monday, April 9, 2012
six-pack soda, jumbo prawns.
Swaddle 'em in bacon. Fry 'em.
Let the otters choke on plastic,
oil-slicked and starved for prawns.
Piglets squeal in cages? Let 'em.
Screw your diet; it's my body.
(which is anytime, know it or not)
through the safety of a filtered view
I gaze at Active Region 1429
barely an hour after the latest flare blew—
Brightsnake writhing in that roiling orb portends
the geomagnetic storm blowing in
to mess with the airwaves tonight.
I twist the 40-meter dial, cacophonous clashes
an incomprehensible ocean of noise.
T-storms over the Ohio Valley
or perhaps the Amazon.
I key the circuit into the gale:
_._ .. … … _ _ . _. _ _ _ ._ _
Kiss me now.
Anyone who barbecues
To vanish, a dragon just turns inside-out.
Short - Inscrutable Man’s Not Last!
(For Robert Stanislaus Schlottmann - otherwise known as Bob or hubbypoo)
Hello, Southern Cro-man, beans-n-rice man.
The marsh calls. Hear the little nite heron.
The last rabbit u shoot, screams. No more.
Trout lines and marsh hens.
Nite transitions - salt to salacious. Burns.
Take me. Scorch me.
Stories - Merrill, u, bees on a limb, a car.
Cousin Al-n-Catahoula hunt Nutria, beer.
Crab boil - mushrooms, corn, aunts, uncles, crabs (natch),
cousins, little ones. Beer. Beer. Beer.
Moon-scent roses - Sombreuil, Alchemist, Taboo. U. Me. Ache.
Am I, am I ur Rorschach blot? Untrammel me.
Am I ur neurosis? Let me be a testament.
Cat shrill nites-n-curtain trauma.
Bounce. Hiss. No shut I’ll O.U.
Oh, Saints-n-Shelties! Oh, Cat, oh, Ace, oh, Son!
Oh, bother-n-lather! Oh, mine, ours.
Louisiana man, tie the boat to a tree. Let’s lie here
on the canal. Let’s listen to the little blue heron.
Natural as lawyer's fees, subpoenas and divorce decrees,
we compare notes. I say, you know the marriage is gone
when you count his condoms and one's missing.
She says, no, it's when you find one in his wallet
and he says, it's just in case something comes up.
I say, I discovered he was cheating on our tenth anniversary
and gifted him my diaphragm, cut in pieces.
She says, she woke up one night to find him
under the kitchen table jerking off
into another woman's lace panties. You win, I say.
Hers picks up the kids on Fridays and hands over clippings
from advice columns on parenting.
Sometimes I open my garage door
and mine's standing there. I can't decide
if he looks like a beaten dog
or the guy from the Halloween movies
and the hell of it is, I'm not sure there's a difference.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
your dog? Your looking glass? I know:
your robot psychotherapist.
It makes me hate you. I could shove
your back against those crates and bite
your lips until you begged for more.
I can slant-rhyme “hate” with “want”.
wraps his gamey wings around my face
and squeezes til the world is leather-red.
Fuck you. I'll smash my mug against the wall,
wishing my rooibos into blood. I'll chitter
a bat-nose song: You stink. I hope you die.
Bat scratches me; I'll rip my claws through you.
Break the first egg.
Admire its snail bright slither
off the counter, down the cabinet.
Keep cracking. Eventually you will have enough
in the bowl. Embrace bowl one armed,
as a dancer holds her lover.
Whisk and twirl.
Add sugar, cocoa, flour, butter.
Ponder the meaning of Medium.
Flip mixer on High. Re-envision
splatter on ceiling as expressionistic art.
Call dogs for Floor Duty. Pour remains
of bowl into…whatever. Bake.
Ponder meaning of “Chill.”
Ask older sister. Ponder
if “give them weed and a movie”
is viable advice.