Saturday, April 22, 2017
The nest above the garage belongs to a finch.
Mine is the savaged arm below the pillow —
raised veins, petechiae — dozens.
Ghost today, memory tomorrow,
age deals this unexpected sanction
of intimate loss, the body’s lurch
apart. Oh, for a package tour of Egypt,
vector idly picked to intercept
this slapdash, two-bit lurch
toward derivatives I don’t sanction —
rude death, wait for tomorrow.
Impelled to nurture another dozen
(lice & worms fattening the nestlings’ pillow)
each spring this blithe finch.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
|Esther, John, Carol, David|
The whistle — descending third — meant home.
How wonderfully far that familiar sound
traveled at dusk to children bicycling round
suburban streets yellow with ragweed bloom.
Tonto, Geronimo, wannabe hounds of hell
played hide & seek in half-built houses
pressing on pastures of last-chance cows
fated to fuel Atlanta’s urban swell.
Up to the school, down to the pond, a zoom
around a corner to the corner store
where no one had coins so our gang
leader stole. We seemed impossibly far
when dinnertime tolled & pronto — hunger pangs.
Oh! There were mothers, whistling us home.
Driving home I shake at what I’ve done —
handfuls of grapes prised from their stems,
their tart flesh juiced between my teeth,
the bottle of cold beer a welcome balm.
Four ticks the women struggled to release,
troublesome barbs lodged in skin,
the imminent threat of Lyme Disease an old
refrain, fables victims told, the flood
of horror — leeches fastened to tender skin.
Sleep continues to be my best release —
dark, cotton, arm under pillow, balm
until I wake at midnight, heart in my teeth,
slung from the highest trunk, branch, stem.
Guilty, I am. Oh for this dream to be done!
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Collecting sea glass, high tide,
I raced toward the rocks, away from swash
until I forgot. The swash rose past my knees.
I stayed on my feet, I swayed, I waited, then peered
at backwash for minuscule bits
of orange & red, green & blue, pearlescent
white, shells worn thin as mica, rocks
blotched & streaked, fossiled & pitted, hollowed
& cored. Next I knew a streaking wave
sideswiped a second seeker, bloodied
on gravel-strewn sand, muscled by forces
beyond her ken, she rued her salty camera
& phone. We come from Nevada, she said,
we have nothing like this at home.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
|Jorie Graham [WSJ]|
Orpheus and Eurydice
by Jorie Graham
Up ahead, I know, he felt it stirring in himself already, the glance,
the darting thing in the pile of rocks,
already in him, there, shiny in the rubble, hissing Did you want to remain
completely unharmed? —
the point-of-view darting in him, shiny head in the ash-heap,
hissing Once upon a time, and then Turn now darling give me that look,
that perfect shot, give me that place where I’m erased. . . .
The thing, he must have wondered, could it be put to rest, there, in the glance,
could it lie back down into the dustiness, giving its outline up?
When we turn to them — limbs, fields, expanses of dust called meadow and avenue —
will they be freed then to slip back in?
Because you see he could not be married to it anymore, this field with minutes in it
called woman, its presence in him the thing called
future — could not be married to it anymore, expanse tugging his mind out into it,
tugging the wanting-to-finish out.
What he dreamed of was this road (as he walked on it), this dustiness,
but without their steps on it, their prints, without
What she dreamed, as she watched him turning with the bend in the road (can you
understand this?) — what she dreamed
was of disappearing into the seen
not of disappearing, lord, into the real —
And yes she could feel it in him already, up ahead, that wanting-to-turn-and-
by his glance,
sealing the edges down,
saying I know you from somewhere darling, don’t I,
saying You’re the kind of woman who etcetera —
(Now the cypress are swaying) (Now the lake in the distance)
(Now the view-from-above, the aerial attack of do you
now the glance reaching her shoreline wanting only to be recalled,
now the glance reaching her shoreline wanting only to be taken in,
(somewhere the castle above the river)
(somewhere you holding this piece of paper)
(what will you do next?) (— feel it beginning?)
now she’s raising her eyes, as if pulled from above,
now she’s looking back into it, into the poison the beginning,
giving herself to it, looking back into the eyes,
feeling the dry soft grass beneath her feet for the first time now the mind
looking into that which sets the _________ in motion and seeing in there
a doorway open nothing on either side
(a slight wind now around them, three notes from up the hill)
through which morning creeps and the first true notes —
For they were deep in the earth and what is possible swiftly took hold.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
The silver mike in a soundproof booth
overlooks side-by-side turntables
screwed to a raw plywood bench.
A tight space. While one song plays
to the live feed I unsleeve a fresh
LP, guide the spindle through
the center hole. My anti-static brush
sweeps the grooves. I choose the cut, set
the needle, rotate round to the first sound,
& as one last note fades, I flip
a knob to swap the feed, toggle a switch
to start the new song, rate my segue.
One-girl DJ, now & again
I name the artists, the bands. Mostly I spin.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Sea Lion At Dog Beach
The dogs find the body first,
fin over teakettle tumbled by surf
up the tide line onto the beach
of kelp-strewn sand, pale meat
where seafaring creatures
chewed at the drowned hide,
nothing remains of the head, no eyes,
fins limp & folded, backwash
lifts & swirls the shrinking corpse
away from the nuzzling dogs,
their owners’ shouts, bathers gawking
beside, so close, so raw.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
|W S Merwin|
As they were leaving the garden
one of the angels bent down to them and whispered
I am to give you this
as you are leaving the garden
I do not know what it is
or what it is for
what you will do with it
you will not be able to keep it
but you will not be able
to keep anything
yet they both reached at once
for the present
and when their hands met
Saturday, September 24, 2016
by Charles Tomlinson
slats of the garden
bench, and strung
to their undersides
light as the bench
with paint: ranged
seven staves of them
against the space
by the least breeze they
seem not to move
by one as if
tug themselves free
down to be
replaced by an identical
and instant twin:
the longer you
look at it
the stillness proves
one flow unbroken
of new, false pearls,
dropped seeds of now
Sunday, September 11, 2016
from The Bottomland:
by Harry Humes
Three we found sheathed in ice
after a late freezing rain.
They were like glittering bottles
stuck on a branch,
their small eyes watching,
eyes that could see
rabbit guts half a mile away.
We lowered them in a sling
and carried them like logs to the shed.
Our daughter traced a finger
over the red turkey heads.
She lay next to them.
They were longer by inches.
Suddenly a horny leg broke through,
a shoulder, some wing feathers,
and then the stench of their true
design drove us away.
We left the shed door open and watched
from the kitchen as they wobbled out,
fussing their feathers, stretching their wings,
bouncing grotesquely, then rising easily,
beautifully, the world’s real
pragmatists using the slightest updraft,
scanning the landscape, scouring it.
Their whole being was set for this
Puritan hatred of living flesh,
this love of neatness.
this love of neatness.
Sunday, September 4, 2016
from I Am Not a Pioneer:
by Adam Fell
Light falling on snow
is naturally cast upward,
but we are not designed
to fully contain the glow.
We wake in the dark of the woods
and must go forward.
When we are killed, we respawn
a few feet back until we solve
the error that wrecks us.
Each time, our bodies make
a sound like yielding,
a comprehension, a crumpling.
A burning barn glitched
behind a restless static of leaves.
Hatchlings on the beach at night
scuttling toward the city,
mistaking it for the horizon.
Devotion extends forward
despite our bodies’ failures.
We leap and leap across
the voltaic rooftop letters
of a falling HOTEL sign.
We kill its current, watch it startle out.
We barely reach the ledge.
But barely is sufficient in a moving world.
Our flashlights make the cattle leak
from pens to pockets of drying grass.
To face ourselves, we respawn endlessly.
There are not fresh hoof marks.
There are fresh hoof marks.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Individual Parts May Be Salvaged
Alone in the house after my death
the robot powers down my phone,
straightens my cuffs,
wipes away fluids oozing after my fall.
While its moving parts tidy,
its cortex sends notifications —
Ben, your mother has fallen & can’t get up.
Matt, it’s already too late,
but get in your car and drive down here now.
Esther, your daughter’s finally on her way to join you.
She’s still the same,
so if you want to maintain your peace & quiet
you might want to descend to a lower circle
or petition Beatrice for a long overdue pardon.
The robot doesn’t know
it’s reached end of life too.
Recycling an intact elder care robot
has been against the law since 2025
though individual parts may be salvaged.
It’s the impossibility of securely erasing data structures
that dooms the robot’s cortex
& sensory appendages
to be rendered.
My neurons, my ligatures
have begun to unweave.
My life of reconstructed memories
shrivel to stories soon to be no longer told.
To my granddaughter, I gave my tidiness,
to my younger son, my zen,
may the annual library sale profit from my books.
Friends, my undying devotion has died.
I remember every friend I ever had
even if I unfriended them.
Now I’m a dead facebook account,
a dead-letter email.
The robot scans for breached perimeters,
an ill-adjusted thermostat,
running water, a kettle boiling dry.
It livestreams my missing pulse.
It will open the door to the paramedics.
This robot has been awfully good to me,
outstanding at finding my glasses
& prompting me to medicate.
I don’t suppose she misses me.I sometimes called her Rose.
Friday, April 22, 2016
begins as obake —
ghost fog — sails in
to finish a sunny day.
A whisper of leaves,
rustle of fronds
rises to din
& rain cascades
My cat leaps
to a sill,
mislaid, a bucket
rocketing end over end
to meet & tangle
with hog wire fence.
in this riot,
by tethered fog,
this sudden chill,
I’m sodden & smiling,
with soft rain.
with soft rain.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
I disinter roots & branches of
trees sawed & stumps ground last autumn
rotting at their slow pace.
Weeding is a constant path.
Between stones grow blanched stems,
under them, blanched roots with no stems.
I pitchfork weeds into toppling cones —
nutrient steam flecked with yellow flowers —
stack & restack pyres to stall growth.
By now I know each type of weed
including one I pardoned — its velvet leaf —
like as not, not what I wish for,
no more than sounds at my door at night,
not rain or wind, not possum or fox.What pitchfork might rout this dark?
Sunday, March 6, 2016
by Stephen Berg
never was always will be
mind before mind
earth water fire wind
sleep there tonight
you you on fire
to this burning house
all the way back
to the womb
can’t remember a thing
even before autumn’s
you hate the poor
and forget when you
you saved every dollar
watched by the famished
wraiths of your self
your whole life
could not pay off
nothing on my mind
that’s why I can say
it’s all mine
you want someone you love
you never knew her
you can’t forget
not to remember
someone you never forgot
you see it one brief evening
everything’s a lie
bitter? does this
incredible world of grief
hurt? why wound yourself
brooding on dreams?
no hands no eyes
instead of clutching your head
go and sing
because you need it
in this joyous world
the hating mind
itself is not bad
not not hating
crumple into a ball
for the gutter
what you should do
I I I
keep wrestling with yourself
these days enlightenment
means nothing to me
so I wake up
tired of praying
for salvation look
at those poor beautiful flowers
along the river
day and night here
listen the world’s
all dressed up dazzled
by brocade robes
come from your mind
right wrong right wrong
call it this that
it doesn’t exist
except this page
except these wavering phrases
like a block of wood straight through
my head’s the universe
can’t hide my ugliness my clumsiness
so I just go along
with what is
nothing to see nothing to know
before after now
call and you’ll hear
its heartbreaking silence
[from Stephen Berg's The Steel Cricket: Versions 1958-1997]
Saturday, March 5, 2016
A Quilt of Wings
A red bicycle rumbles
the gravel parking apron,
rosemary hedge a blue tangle.
The body crouched above a sprocket
pedals beside a dog on leash
block after sea level block.
Succulents skirt a patio.
An orb weaver hangs flies
above a planter where collards grow.
Fur webbed with splints of bone —
owl-cast on asphalt —
how tongue eats tongue.
Duck bills worry clover,
squirrels tightrope jacaranda,
a quilt of wings squareknots the river.
At the beach the dog’s set free to run.
Chase stick. Chase ball. Chew wave.
Genuflect to pelicans.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
4:30 am, I’m not getting up because it’s too early. I turn the pillow four times hoping for who knows what comfort. The smell of the sheets surprises me — slightly sour, salty like soup. I could say I’m being called to wash them, remnants of my childhood where no sheets went more than a week unwashed, & with all the graham crackers I ate in bed, my sheets needed washing or vacuuming at least. Household tasks, particularly laundry, always soothe me. I have a washer & no dryer, so when fog settles, I bundle wet sheets into my car & drive to the laundromat. I bring William Carlos Williams to read while the sheets tumble, his memoir of his European/West-Indian mother who lived with him until she died, “sat in her room year in and year out” because she walked to the Club, “without rubbers,” slipped & fell on ice, broke her hip. Elena was nervous, vain & timid, tough & good, & Williams loved her. Sons are like that, not seeing us as slightly sour, overly salty, instead as interesting, kissable, worth cooking dinner for. In one poem he described dancing naked in his attic while the family slept, happy genius of his household. I quit the laundromat with slightly damp sheets, air them dry in late day sun.
Monday, February 8, 2016
|Ada Limón [Monterey Peninsula College]|
from Ada Limón's Bright Dead Things:
Long Ago & the Cow Comes Back
In this, the current recasting of the great plummet,
it is I, and not the other grand-eyed cows off Leveroni Road,
who watches the two cloudy youths climb into the backseat
of the long boat-like car during the plunging dark hour
of no turning back. I am not folded into its tongue-red
interior watching the headlights of the passing traffic
trance the windows like far-off lighthouse lights pulsing
at us, lost in our swollen inky sea. In this version, I am
the still bovine beauty staring into Carringer Creek, hungry
for nothing but what comes every day: grass and sky,
and the silvery creek water reflecting the grass and sky.
By the bend in the clean zipper of stream, by the gate
of my life, a metal animal’s insides steam up and I understand —
so many dolorous selves in each of us dissolving into fog.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Cheaper than lock & key, a chowkidar
defends our door. He’s ragged, poor, menial
kin to fruit peels we toss in the street,
yet he guards our home, we, the non-
pariahs, so luminous, bindis scarlet
between our eyes, brilliant silks binding us,
shades & smells of turmeric, chilis,
asafoetida. He waits, his heart
an apple wizened to a frame for pips,
pledged to our stone stoop & waves the well-
regarded across to our baubled inside.
Monsoons don’t muddy these parquet floors
or swamp the beds, we women marooned,
we refugees, our bruises, our spells.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
|The Potato Eaters by Vincent Van Gogh [Wikipedia]|
In the Last Few Moments Came The Old German Cleaning Woman
by Jane Cooper
Our last morning in that long room,
Our little world, I could not cry
But went about the senseless chores
— Coffee and eggs and newspapers —
As if your plane would never fly,
As if we were trapped there for all time.
Wanting to fix by ritual
The marriage we could never share
I creaked to stove and back again.
Leaves in the stiffening New York sun
Clattered like plates; the sky was bare —
I tripped and let your full cup fall.
Coffee scalded your wrist and that
Was the first natural grief we knew.
Others followed after years:
Dry fodder swallowed, then the tears
When mop in hand the old world through
The door pressed, dutiful, idiot.