Recited by Colin Farrell
We are looking for submission for the summer issues of the Poetry Cooperative Magazine. The topic is UNITY. Please send us up to three poems, preferably no longer than two pages, in any form or style. Let’s celebrate what binds us all together.
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org, Our submission window is open until the end of July.
Subtle as a feather
Yet, profound as the sea
Oh, how I long to submerge in it
As quietly as it seems.
Visions in all colors
Such resplendent lights
Although, a sudden shadow
That casts out its light.
Like a dream, it appears
But sometimes a nightmare it seems
Lost in deep thought as I blend in
Yet outside, still a mystery to me.
One of seven billion plus, no? Perhaps this is not so any longer
can it be? After this last year? 2020, 20/20?
Eyes wide open
what did we see?
So much death. So much so many in place of decision
even now thru decision and not making decision adding to the incredible numbers of deaths. Numbers hard to encompass their reality. Still in the context of our supposed numbers overall,
the question necessarily surfaces
within at least this mind always attempting seeing clearly,
what impact pandemics’ happenstance(?) on world population?
It, for those concerned for us of the future resources available and to so many, central to their calculation. Necessarily true, then to a mind of this kind comes question of pandemic and even possibly vaccine in some other fashions’ part in providing solution to this question. The capitalist, governmental mind from my study clearly historically able
to see the positive side
to all the common man
There is to the finally coming to clearsighted awareness
thru, for some, individual significant persons and intimate situation
and for others clear understanding of the history
of mankinds’ relation to itself,
that the retreat into the depths of themselves
sure of their inability to be a self
or one protective enough
has its reason.
Not biochemical misfirings of different component parts of the brain
inabilty to control emotion.
Can’t find it conspiratorial fantasy
to recognize in supposed coincidence
and lifes’ just being life, the continuing
over especially the last 20 years
occurrences that have as part of their every happening
the profiting of those occupying
the upper tiers
of the pyramid that is humanity. Or find it mental illness,
of those occupyings’
willingness to do those things of profit to them
to the minds of those unable to accept it as human.
Seems to be no thought given to the sensitivities of those empathetic to the suffering of others
for the manifestations of differences in behavior
defined as mental illness. In too many personal lives thru to what’s there to be seen on the world stage,
mans’ understanding of himself as predator.
So many of the educated
sure of mans’ animalistic beginnings
of the possible, probable inner worlds
Like a new leaf in spring turning over the tide
I learnt my first words barely a cry
But as I grew up, so did my words,
They bloomed like the flowers, giving me life.
Then came the summer, where my words grew afresh,
I was eager to face a challenge and even lost some bets,
Never gave up did I, to fight for my way,
My words gave me strength and the courage to be brave.
Autumn came by in a dazzle of gold and red
And thus my heart began to beat in blushes of red
Your sweet words gave me hope and lightened my life
Eager to be with you, I gave you my word for you to be mine.
Years later, on a bleak wintery night,
My words came out cold and uttered a cry
Your words were a whip that lashed me out
Words never to be forgotten and kept me out of your sight.
Funny as it seems, how these words shaped my life
I learned to be strong and carried on my light.
stepped out of time as the day to day
and stand in the moment continuing, that one, mine, behind time
where I am just…, and contemplate life surrounding, coalesced, and am amazed, despite the darkness
part of the journey
made up of my ignorance of knowing how and fear of being, that I live, loved, and home means peace
I stand there, that self I am always, since…, behind, knowing I am not times’, time, somehow having made it’s way to reflecting my always’ need
she rises to go inside and Spike he follows, I tell her, “I’m coming”, and am thankful continuing to Him for the one allowing my always
a home, in time
and I close the door, behind me
To educate and inspire, we speak to poets who stand out in today’s competitive poetry market.
Any budding poet who wants to go from writing poetry as a past-time to seeing his/her poems in literary publications wants to know what it takes to get published. Most poets receive countless rejections before finally seeing their work recognized and printed by renowned magazines or websites. In the Poetry Cooperative Interview Series, we speak to award-winning, well-known poets to find out just exactly what makes a publishable poem.
With this series, we hope to inspire and encourage our members and anyone who’s trying to get published. All our guest are honourary Poetry Cooperative members. With each interview, they each get a dedicated page on our website.
We’re proud to announce that prize-winning UK poet Jenny Mitchell was the first to make time to answer our questions. Watch out for the first edition of the Poetry Cooperative Interview Series here next week.
Anyone who writes poetry wants to know what makes a poem a poem rather than embarrassing ramblings. I’m posting Daniel Tysdal’s Ted talk here. In simple terms, he describes how to write a great poem as opposed to an average one. Enjoy!
The long awaited morning has come .
It has come to pass.
I have seen you again.
My dead dread has resurrected
And moved to the seventh heaven,
My tears have ended.
I know I will no longer go tired
Wiping the over flowing tears
From my tiny spherical eyes.
My visage is happy to cry happily.
The long awaited afternoon has come
It has come to pass.
I have seen you again.
I have come out of
The coffin of loneliness
And death will never again
Storm my demanding heart
My friends are good
And indeed very good
But you are best and excellent
Please, my lost one
Clap hands for yourself.
The long awaited e evening has come
It has come to pass
I have seen you again
The dimpled piggy cheeks,
The shiny well created eyes,
The gorgeous happy face-
A face never gloomy and sad.
The warm gifted bosom,
The soft palms of your arms,
And the succulent lips.
I will kiss again
Because you’re the chosen Mary
Among the virgins.
You are homely welcome
And the rest I don’t know.
THE NABENDE WRITING FAMILY
“Education made our eyes sprout”
UGANDA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
when comes the mistaken taking of life/Christian one/believing man/that one who’s right as far as you’re concerned/when comes the mistaken taking of life/led, step by step/for reason/all to do now/the asking of forgiveness…/ of the Father…/will you then/…will you then/ decide on His understanding/of love the other/ as yourself
In the dead of night the little Goths come out-
their startlingly masked, chiaroscuro visage
with fluorescent yellow disc eyes when light finds them,
shining like luciferin and luciferase reacting in the firefly-
and their cautious, staccato, and slinking movements
obvious against the freshly painted white picket fence,
like splashed gentian violet on a wedding dress.
In wistful November
these few straggler raccoons, huge,
in preparation for their seasonal sleep.
One enters the garden through
the square framed hole we cut for
all God’s creatures through the fence-
tabby, tuxedo, and calico kittens, ‘coon kits,
an opossum jill and her joeys, garden snakes,
squirrels, railroad-line field mice,
Mourning and Rock Doves.
He barely pulls himself though,
then arches high and stretches into his fullness,
looking like a small bear,
before he cases the yard,
before he plans his zigzag, concrete and dirt-sniffing
approach to the freshly filled plates and bowls.
This humongous, ticked raccoon
finds Sassie, a one-eyed tortoise shell cat,
left behind by a moving family
and forever having kittens,
already at the plates;
they eat in peace,
while a shy, grey-faced opossum jack
darts under an elevated outdoor fire pit-
too many critters to feel safe-
until all is quiet again.
Who blessed me with the care and
companionship of these creatures?
My little burghal, backyard zoo.
Bellied Sassie saunters slowly to the right,
to her between-houses escape route,
the masked ‘coon face keeps
checking me for friendliness,
then pins the plate with his wide, star-fish paw,
to get the outer halo of pate on the plate,
while his mate peeks her curious head
out of the fence hole, to watch
these nocturnal goings-on,
or, more accurately,
to fill those autumnal pangs in her belly.
He stares me down, grabs the Oreo I left,
then treads along the cement line to the fence,
makes a short stop to sniff
the calico cat’s grave stone,
takes a step up upon it,
then tries to heave his
exploding November girth
through the fence hole,
this foray for food coming to a close.
Small yellow leaves pepper the place-
I tediously pick them out of the food
every day this time of year-
the rows of wind-gathered, golden confetti
following the lines of concrete squares,
with gentle curves framing
the feeding and lounging areas,
and the goodness of God in the still night air.
I mean, this stuff happens in the deep,
deep homesteading Midwest,
where 10 year old sons routinely
work butcher knives, prepping
pumpkin squash, ham hocks,
for eating or freezing.
I’ve seen pictures of them unshod
in barns smiling,
no safeties on anything.
Once there were Chestnut trees
foresting the American East Coast.
But that Japanese Parasite killed them.
The people of Appalachia
got an economic kick in the nuts,
and the foraging fauna felt it, too.
and sleeper in corn cribs,
would put Quakers and hip-hop fashionista
both in their place
with his saucepan cap-turned-backwards.
He traipsed around like that,
then cooked meals in his hat.
No one thought much about it,
or that he might be a nut case.
On the Savannah, Ohio lawn of Amy Sheaffer,
the last, extant, gnarled and knotted
original Appleseed tree still grows
just outside her kitchen door.
It still rains apples. When fall comes,
it just rains apples.
So the kids get tricked-
she makes her applesauce
with star anise, cloves, cinnamon sticks,
and vanilla from Madagascar,
a rich, thick chutney.
They imbibe in grateful near-gluttony.
in the 1920’s boardinghouse-
and still is, tepid,
from US Government surplus,
in public school lunchrooms.
Fractal vegetable- self-similar, edible flower-
pyramidal chartreuse curds
or lime in color,
Wonder-inducing Fibonacci sequence,
its piquance a hit for North Brooklyn hipsters,
or still-growing, not-knowing bridesmaids
ringing thrice, even quadrice marked-up bottles
of bottom-of-the barrel Crane Lake chardonnay,
snug in ice buckets on outdoor tables.
All in masks,
They don’t mind paying for the experience.
I made up the word “quadrice” for this poem. I hope I don’t go to poetry or linguistics purgatory for this! The inspiration for this poem came from my getting my first box of “Misfits Market” produce delivered, and the fractal beauty of the Romanesco cauliflower inside the box blew me away.
Ariana, adopted the old Greek ways,
when Nikos died diving for sponges.
She encased her curses into two lead stones:
smuggling one into his coffin,
dropping the other into Naxos deepest well.
She made sure Nikos soul would
carry her curse to the underworld
before it ascended to heaven,
or activated fully on the river of forgetfulness
for Death to see, read, feel her grief.
She had hired the local poet who still
remembered all the magical phrases
and could reverse the flow of words.
She wanted Death
to throw himself to the crows,
split like she was divided inside,
perish the same way Nikos drowned,
damned Death’s eyes to drunkenness
till he became a burden to the earth,
a useless sack of spoiled wine.
As she turned back and
started to look away
she heard Nikos voice echo to her.
She turned around and In
the mist that crawled away to the Aegean
was revealed three Cretan hounds snarling
behind the gate of the rich shipbuilder’s house.
The sea, the earth the sky collapsed in her.
The sound of tides, the swirling dust, the rain were
mocking this girl who knew only ordinary curses,
this widow doomed to live a long, grieving life
listening for Nikos sounds until her very end.
Perfection can only be seen in the descent,
the glow of spotlights colliding to true whiteness,
the realization that grief touches the ground.
Mary, they say, you never experienced birth pains,
but the linen folded eternally beneath your son
shows that his final blessing transferred all to you.
Your tears wash his feet, and I imagine,
you wiping them dry with your hair,
a doting act of love he passed to his disciples.
Your grief remains in your soul.
Only the pain is collected in
the last descent of angels.
I feel the slow bump when
the descent must hit the earth,
the slight stumble to awkward reality.
I wash my feet everyday to honor
the perfect glory I’ve been blessed to see.
This is a memory of the 1964 World’s Fair where I saw the Pieta in the descent of an escalator. it lasted all of fifteen seconds, roughly the time it takes to read the poem.
(In homage to William Carlos William)
Outside was my red bicycle
leaning against the wall
next to a red wheelbarrow
on which nothing depended on.
I was the kind of child who
was always daydreaming
himself to victory and today
I would win the Tour de France.
So the plan was to practice
beyond my own wobbling peddling,
like the unbalanced red wheelbarrow
my father pushed among the chickens.
I felt the heat, the flame of potential speed
where so much could happen
and depended on my straight control
in a world zooming by in flame
until the wind was red wings,
only my own red thoughts ablaze
in the warp and the things I hated
of the world were longer in myself.
until I flew over the handlebars
hitting my forehead on a
sky blue Cadillac door handle,
the scar following me to the future.
Now I nick the tiny flames of memory,
as I push the red wheelbarrow
up the hill as if my life depended on it,
even as it always wobbles down.
It was the light that told Vincent,
the one which always told him the truth
reflected his soul’s desire,
the glistenings of his mind,
that this mass of gnarled roots
would be his last vision.
He could feel the gun smoke
creeping into his soul,
corrupting his thoughts,
the very rays of his world,
even his beloved
hog hair brushes and pigments
as he walked the Rue Daubigny
pass the Church at Auvers
he needed to canvas in June
when the flint of its history,
death, faith, passion and beauty
impelled him to create,
pass the wheat field absent of crows
which made the world seem more
beautiful with its darkness
hovering over the light of July,
diminished now to ordinary light,
smoke, haze and fog.
He felt his world constricted to
a blue room with a blue bed,
a blue chair wedged in a corner
draped in blue shadows
which could not be mixed
to the perfect colors.
When he saw the gnarled roots
exposed in late afternoon July beams
he knew that he would not live
to see the first dawn of August,
that this would be his last
perfect beautiful, silent spot.
He painted smelling the gun smoke coming,
the smoke turning into a bullet
as he passionately tried to capture
life itself frantically and fervently rooting itself,
as it were, in the earth and yet being
half torn up by the storm.
–After Rainier Maria Rilke
The washers have lived with death
as they have with the lamp,
the flame and the dark,
the nameless rinsing of limbs,
the even more unnameable nameless.
without histories relative to them.
Their sponges dipped the water
then the silent throat,
trickled rivulets on their faces,
waiting for it to absorb,
to convince themselves more than anything
that the body no longer thirsted.
They only stopped their toil
to turn their head to cough.
The older ones unclenched
the hands of the dead
that refused their final repose.
Only their shadows
jerked the quiet walls,
the net of silent life
extinguishing to last existence
that ignored their shrugs
as the last now antiseptic corpse
was finished and the window shut.
We exist in
and in the bending over
for we are
are but the
memory of grief
that soft bodies
leave when they die.
Oh, when the sun yields child
to the soft caress of the night
After the sun has gone.
After the sun has gone.
That lifts the wind
after the sun has gone.
The last of wonder and awe
That turns life
from a beach shell echo
to a cornucopia
after the sun has gone.
Life without a shell must
shake out the shadows
live full to overflowing
less it dry after the sun has gone
leaving the child still, beautiful silent
in the beach tide after the sun has gone.
After the sun has gone.
My love is like a mysterious wind
Ever changing and always there
Can’t be tamed or controlled
Always waiting to catch me
Leaving as I reach out
And then I catch it
And I fall down
Leaving the earth in a state of euphoria
Where no one can find us
And no one ever will
Cleansing my soul
Reaching down into the depths
Looking for answers
Learning I am complete
Finding my way back with Him
I learned to love myself
I no longer walk alone
I made it through to the other side
I keep fighting
I’ll never give up
I saw the light in you
I wish I had loved you before you left
All that remains is me
Sleepless nights and endless days,
Counting for hope that’s once lost,
Thinking about the rheumatic past,
Makes me realize what I have lost.
People come and people go,
For I would not see you,
You who showed me light,
You who I’ve let go.
If only I could turn back time,
Bring back what’s once was mine,
Mend the past for a healing future,
Mend all the regrets and crimes.
If, if only I could see you again,
Once more in this shimmering light,
Standing next to me like in the past days,
Watching over like an angel at night,
Till we meet again.
In the house made of waterproof canvas
We’ll listen out for the sounds
Expecting big hairy footsteps
Making prints upon the ground
You better make sure the zip of the tent
Is done up nice and tight
And keep one ear, one eye open
Whilst sleeping in the night
You could fall asleep and start dreaming
A nightmare, call it as you will
About the big hairy Sasquatch
Committing the most gruesome a kill
You may just hear him coming at you
A twig snapping in between trees
You’ll be in your sleeping bag
Feeling the shakes in your knees
You’ll reach your hands down
Feeling around with no sight
Looking for torches and axes
To get you through this night
You try stopping your mates from snoring
Only to wake up yourself and see
It was all just a dream that made you sweat
You start you fall back asleep
Then you hear the zip start to move
The seam becoming undone
And before you can let out a scream
Your vocal chords will be gone
Pick up the stone as you walk in the sand
pick up as you try to reach the end
the stones are from days of yore
it may be of dinosaurs or life long before
each tells a story of journeys taken
some smooth and some shaken.
I can not tell you which one to choose
hundreds lie along the path of view
some hidden and some calling for you
Feel the wave in your feet
feel the warmth of the sunset
let your shadow grow longer
as you walk to your path a bit longer
wondering why the stones matter.
I gave you two stones long before
when we walked together on the beach
you did not know the journey it had taken
you were too young to think for a second.
you threw one into the ocean
gave me the other to do the same
I told you it will come back w
hen you grow up
all the love contained from yesteryears
I am not walking with you this time
but do pick up a stone from the sand
feel it; let it go back to the ocean again
to come back again with memories.
The stone you gave me long before
reminds me of the path we have taken
I have left it on your desk now
For you to throw back into the ocean.
Shout into the eyes
of the boy who dances in the light.
Every dragon’s death
foretells this child
onto even the smallest realm.
The Phoenix is an ally
to the boy
who forges worlds.
The stars proclaim his shine
this boy who dances in the light.
He is the boy
into the sun
and does not dissolve.
His chariot with flashing wheels
races with the rainbow.
He is the boy who
sells the golden trinkets
with 1001 truths in the bazaar.
Even the baubles know not all his stories
of pirates, pashas, tigers and kings.
After all has been vended
this boy with the wondrous tongue
will wipe the sweat of his brow
into the most damask bottle
and proclaim it genie’s breath.
The rain chuckles on the rooftop
and the sound carry’s down the house.
The oaks in their amber raincoats
hiss in the water’s tickle.
Their sinuses suckle the drops to veins
then shiver off the excess.
The wild summer streams are
beginning their running joke.
The drought retreats with a frown
to the applause of the scorch grass.
The old man and his grandson watch
the slapstick of nature from the doorway.
They wave to their bemused neighbors
in their rockers watching the show.
The old man hands the child an umbrella
and watches him join the laughter all around.
The child delights in the rain drumming
smiles on the harlequin cloth.
a little punch
to the face,
like eyes, mouths,
that are open,
But there is
She is non-violent,
and wraps herself
around the nutmeg seed,
and when dried,
can feed and feed.
a baboon’s hinie,
but not as stinkey.
and hope our repasts
I read that state police no longer use mace on protesters, because it is not effective on alcoholics, drug addicts, and schizophrenics. Pepper spray is what they use today. As a non-violent Quaker, I just use the culinary spice blade mace in the kitchen, and it’s an upgrade from nutmeg, which can be too heavy in dishes. It’s wonderful in cream soups, too! Let’s do things positively on this planet, homeboys and homegirls!
We turned around and she was there
stranded between shore and sea,
beach filled with the oily smell of whale,
her dark tonnage serenading the waves
for the comforting echoes of others,
her great fins offering sand flowers
to the Great Ocean God for her salvation.
We mistook her motion for the final dance,
the soprano voice for a lamentation,
the agitation of her great tail for death gasps
for in our experience we are slippery skin
creatures destined to loneliness,
defined to be Ahabs to her kind.
The incoming tide heard her prayer and
navigated the sand to slowly release her to
re-float with the high tide, the deeper water
where she be well with herself.
And we sat on the beach and watched
her swim out knowing that
the sea can easily swallow a whale.
The heat is a pendejo querida
a street full of melda de vaca, mi amor
steaming, stinking, like a hungry puta
who takes mi dinero and gives me crabs.
Sleep with me chica. Cool me down
in el rio d su chocha. Por favor. Por favor.
Mariposa de su womb. Pajaro en mi boca.
Do not steal my crumbs and fly away.
Tu coolo is una ballena. Lo adoro.
It’s as hot as the clouds that stampede
like los cascos de los caballos salvaje.
Your centavo feminino blends with
the eibas y el calor making me want to
comer naranjas amargas contigo en la cama
or a picnic with you a orillas del rio del Paraiso
watching the lotus bloom.
Translation of Spanish:
pendejo querida- male pubic hair, my love
melda de vaca, mi amor- cow shit, my love
mi dinero- my money
el rio de su chocha. Por favor- the river of
your pussy. Please.
Mariposa de- butterfly of
pajaro en mi boca- bird in my mouth
Tu coolo- your ass
una ballena- a whale
Lo adoro- I love it
los cascos de los caballos salvaje- the hooves of
centavo feminino- womanly scent
ceibas- kapok tree found in Puerto Rico
el calor- the heat
comer naranjas amargas contigo en la cama- eat bitter oranges with you in bed
a orillas del rio del Paraiso- by the shores of the river of Paradise.
The Pandemic has closed
the theaters and cinemas.
On stage a lone actor commits
suicide in the loneliness.
On screen the two lovers run to each
other against the march of soldiers.
The actor’s death is an extravagant fake,
a nod to the art of dying a good stage death.
The lovers perform erotic asphyxiation
until the man seems to fall deeply asleep.
The actor pulls the dagger from his neck,
red silk flowing freely from his throat.
In the light motes coming from the projector
Sada realizes that Kichizo has died.
The red silk now entombs Sensei Omiya
like a gown as he reaches out to Sada’s cry.
Sada kisses Kichizo for the final time
as she removes Kichizo‘s blade.
Sensei Omiya drowns in a swell of red silk.
“Sada, my child, what shame have you brung?”
Sada cuts Kichizo’s penis off cleanly carrying
it inside her as she madly wanders Tokyo.
The projector clicks off, the house lights fade.
The transformation is done.
The performance is over
The Nino de Atocha statue
in the front persona of the house
floats on a cloud of marijuana smoke,
the heavenly white base chipped,
pocked grey from neglect.
They murdered the pine trees.
Not even on their property.
Drunk Uncle pruned them,
so the birds wouldn’t crap
on their five non-garaged cars
until they looked like
eight asparagus spears in a row,
branches tragically amputated,
trees leaning like the guest who staggered out
the side of their house once during a party.
That’s how you kill a tree.
Two late winter pines began to keel,
so they hired Mexicans from Jackson Heights,
the cheapest labor they could find,
and cut all eight down.
And left them there,
behind the fence,
a dam, embedded now with barbed wire,
for crepuscular vespertine, and nocturnal
wildlife kin to dodge,
like homo sapien sapien would
with land mines.
They shot the trees.
The landscape has teeth missing.
It’s the back of what looks like
a grey metal airport hangar now.
Property value down by 10 K for everybody,
for yard-turned-car parking garage convenience.
Pocahontas’ Grandmother Willow would tell them
to follow their paths straight to hell.
The smell of skunk herb
wafts into and around my homestead-
aging-out MC Stoner Boy is still in his mother’s attic
mixing, bass boost rattling adjacent houses.
There is no escape. Incessant, deep thuds
marinate brain stems
for years. The quiet neighbor
on the other side
is very old and sick. Says nothing.
Maybe he knows that
when the shadow is ignored
and inflates the group- little neighbor mob-
it’s like trying to talk the finer points of
to a lobotomized Frances Farmer.
Drunk Uncle once pointed to his
left upper-arm tattoo in passing-
a cartoon-like, third world Christ Child with a halo,
in a deluded and desperate attempt
to proclaim what a good Christian he was.
Yet he and his 50 K-a-year car parking garage
and night-shift security worker acquaintances
grind shit-faced dancing
with Latinas they barely know.
Upon first acquaintance, Stoner Boy
once offered, “Hi! I’m Hispanic.”
I did not offer, “Nice to meet you! I’m Caucasian”,
as I don’t greet in that way. Ever.
I was so thrown.
The pine tree is considered sacred
in most world cultures.
It shelters birds, squirrels, chipmunks,
raccoons, opossums, porcupines-
it gives us pine nuts,
the most coveted and nutritious
evergreen seed in the world.
We decorate our homes, cabins,
baskets, generous with the cones,
hang them glitter-sprayed on Christmas trees,
or just hold them in our hands,
marveling at their sacred geometry,
at the beautiful gift Gaia has given.
I dreamt of three snakes last night.
Each got progressively bigger.
The last was swimming through
a central waterway on my property,
its circumference as big as a sewage pipe
that takes it all outside of your house.
It had little feet-fins in front, like primitive fish,
to help it walk- that’s how huge it was.
I am not called to roll a faux joint and tape it
to the mouth of Nino de Atocha,
or stuff their mailbox with so many packs
of rolling paper rendering it unusable;
I can hire artists from Brooklyn’s Bushwick,
bloody starving for cash in this pandemic,
just to embarrass them-
have them surreptitiously climb up at night
to paint a mural on the exposed hangar surface
of Drunk Uncle knocking back Corona after Corona-
once he left some dead cat on my front stoop
in a Corona beer box with no note in January –
one of his aging, baby-mamma sisters dutifully carries out
his beer bottles in huge blue bags,
slung over her back for recycling,
like a hunchback, labored Santa- that’s her job.
They can paint Stoner Boy, too,
savoring another blunt toke just huffed-
But despite unconsciousness, selfishness,
inconsideration, and lawbreaking in a flailing city-
the dream snakes announce that I am the one
heading for some transformation-
some big-ass transformation.
I need to breathe.
I need to move,
and live where trees lives matter.
Inspired By The Poetry Of Robert Lax
The poem rumbles in my brain
and wakes me at three in the morning
as if my devil branded me with his pitchfork
reminding me of our inspired bargain
My nemesis love calls me to the fiery sheet
his impish pride burning praise in me
that swears fealty with bloody words
how your satanic verses
chum and shudder in me
sharking nightmares to dreams
and my words to the exquisite limbo
doomed to fall short of true divinity
The poem squatters in my mind firmly
fixed in the ninth circle of treachery
offending my soul
crushing my heart
It takes and takes and takes
and never gives not even
granting the guilt of dirty lucre
Words are my blood
Poems damn my veins
My quick-fire brimstone lines
are my epitaph
I am both cursed and blessed
to this addiction
yet I hope this passion never cools
only flames and reflames
Oh Poetry immolate me
burn me to the purest ash
leaving a diamond legacy
The poem is not a song
but the fire inside the song
the sulphur mistaken for honey
Oh dulcet sounds why and thank you for
making me an exile from life and tomorrow
a lonely sad witness to the world
Why and thank you for
fating me to this fiery covenant
When a cloud dies
doves and eagles
dip their wings
in mournful ‘memberance.
When the sky dies
it rots black
in despairing soot
of ash and pain.
When the moon dies
by the elliptical kisses
of the planets beyond.
When a planet dies
the universe gently cradles it
and lullaby’s it to the sun
until it falls to sleep.
When the universe dies
the lonely sad earth knows
that all the trees will go dark
when the world dies.
They said only the good die young
But I don’t know how true that is.
Guess they had never met you.
Around the table that day
All too numb to feel anything.
Thinking of the times
We can never replace.
Like that deep voice
Of yours singing along to
Or the way the room got quiet
As your words filled the space
It’s true that the grief
May never get better
But these are the memories
I’ll hold to forever.
Lookin back on the times
You’re recording out,
Under that old tree.
Taping home videos
of your little babies.
Or the peppermints on Sundays
Jesus loves me all the way to
O Beautiful Star
Hey Papa you remember
All those times you
Caught me with your guitar?
It’s true that the grief
May never get better
But these are the memories
I’ll cling to forever.
Teaching me to climb,
Reminding me to pray,
Soft spoken as you were,
You knew just what to say.
The strongest man I’ve ever known
I’ll always think of you that way.
Yeah and even though it’s hard
With how lost we feel
It’s the pain that reminds me
You gotta hurt to heal.
But we’ll surely miss
you down here.
December 1, 2019
I tried to bargain away all
the sickness and death
in my life with the
skies and mountains.
They refused to disperse my
pain in the sunlight and clouds.
The void rejected my life,
eternity denied my love.
The moon stayed its silent course
watching my fate fade away in the night.
Time denied my burden.
The wind swirled to heaven
seeing me coming near.
The waters cascaded away
fearing my touch.
God was on vacation
and not due back until
two days after my passing.
My heart opened wide
and I emptied my pain
on its breakers and shore
until all that was left was words,
these words in the color of clarity.
On this acre of unspoiled comfort
the hard winds blow once again now.
Through this acre of unspoiled comfort
the house falls once again now.
This acre of unspoiled comfort
so unlike a broken cry.
This acre of unspoiled comfort
once so sun caressed with smiles.
This acre of unspoiled comfort
once standing on unburied dreams.
This acre of unspoiled comfort
lingering near death.
This acre of unspoiled comfort
praying for its life now.
This acre of unspoiled comfort,
now I pledge my love again.
On this acre of unspoiled comfort.
A woman’s beauty is light on the eyes,
best pinned in thoughts, not weighed down
by beautiful lines that cannot halt wrinkles.
The dying frost of dawn does not
feel sorry for the gravity of the nest
knowing the wrens inside can fly.
The ode is limited to its chilling beauty.
The sublime pleasure of discovering
on a stroll the transitory pleasures
of another’s pedestrian secret life
is only weighed down by
future speculations of their destiny.
The gentle grace of a grazing fawn
killed by the hunter’s bullet
is elevated by the photo
caught before the moment.
The moon rises only on a setting sun
yet the calf of a homeless man
is wondrous reflected in the night’s light.
Even the suicide jumping off the bridge
is beautiful in the dark fall.
The butterfly takes flight
in the shout of the
hoping to catch it in his net.
He goes home sad not
knowing what he has
lost with his heavy words.
Keep the things
you don’t understand
always near you-
in your pocket
so in idle moments
at the bus stop
or in line at the post office
at the bookstore
until the inkling
of realization comes,
even if it’s
just a mark or two-
even if you have to
look it up in the dictionary
or on Wikipedia
or ask a smarter friend
or maybe even God
until you are certain
that you have
properly applied yourself.
in the strangled gleaming
of the last glory
of extinct clouds
I asked my soul
what is the purpose
the last thought
the last of me
stolen and not yours
The Jinn replied
they blessed you
don’t you remember
or dreamed that you remember
it was that memory
of some things
that started your world
and ended this
just the way
If I shut the border,
no one will shut their window,
hide in their closet,
lock their door.
They would shake the blinds of moths,
bring the dog in from the doghouse,
let the cat feast after the mouse hole
has been plugged with a door wedge.
In the distance
the train whistle blows
dispersing mist and rain.
No one steps off nor boards.
The bird nest is not abandoned.
The hollow of the tree stays hollow.
Nothing has shut down at all.
My pen scribbles a poem
only to watch the black words
return to the reservoir.
I open the dictionary to the word “hope”,
but the page refuses to settle
until I put all the words in them
face down on the writing table.
My stoma grumbles louder than my stomach.
I shut my cancer in the mother-of-pearl.
My wife’s cancer is placed in the
small valise of all our memories.
I can’t shut down the museum.
It already is.
I can’t shut down the cinemas.
They already are.
Only the pharmacies are open.
I shut down my mouth
on my broken jaw
with five missing teeth
only to feel the maw of death.
I shut down the ash of my childhood
into a golden urn of my own design.
I shut down America, I shut down God,
putting them both between the now
empty covers of the dictionary missing hope.
I shut down my passions, my emotions
in the moldy basement of my despair.
My shut down love is chained in the dungeon.
Shut up, shut down, I repeat to myself,
until those words lose all definition,
until my lips are sealed in pain and
the only thing left is my total shutdown.
Don’t take away my words
by not repeating my poems inside.
My poetry is revolutionary
as a floating feather.
Close your eyes and catch it
knowing the vision is in its flight
and not where it falls.
Pick it up from the floor
and it becomes a Cobra
spitting, aiming to poison you.
Outside of town a man died
naked beneath a nice tree.
Some said he was old
and that the tree was an elm.
Some said he was young
and that it was an oak.
Others, that he was a child
and that it was a magnolia.
The only thing they agreed on:
that he was naked, dead, under a tree
and they felt sorry for him.
So, the Widow Smith secretly
dressed him in her husband’s best shirt
because she was still mourning
the loss of Tom’s chest.
Mr. Aglet, who owned the shoe store,
privately donated the old Nike’s
Timmy abandoned when he went to Harvard
because Aglet missed Timmy putting them on.
Haberdasher Scye donated his swankiest cufflinks-
the one’s left behind when a newlywed customer
learned that his wife was in labor—
because Scye hated the look of an unadorned shirt.
He then gave his favorite top hat
for no man should be buried with bad hair,
his finest knee-high dress socks
because that’s what funeral’s demand.
He than gifted his finest silk tie,
a nice leather belt of the man’s waist size,
and just to finish the look
a properly somber black jacket and pants.
Optometrist Eyear noticing the man
was squinting rather oddly
crafted a fine pair of designer spectacles
that fitted perfectly on the dead man’s nose.
Everyone in town felt good about their gifts
and the funeral was well-attended.
It wasn’t until he was deep under
did they notice that they forgot the underwear.
They found them, the next day,
the one thing that knew him best,
hanging high in the branches of the tree.
The rain sheds precious jewels this winter night,
the oaks untangle their branches in clarity,
musky solidarity, and affirmation of their place,
an unlearned wisdom of existence that
allows them to bear the staggered light of
unhurried clouds spreading their endless laughter to all those fixed below.
The cold, crisp wind of change kisses and abandons all the oaks of the field.
They shiver off their acorns knowing
they must be naked for the dark days ahead.
The clouds dark smiles are just beginning
to bear their light for winter’s derision.
The sunshine dances with the wind
and the oaks of the forest sway
in the merriment of unfiltered days.
They embrace a child’s shadow,
generously mixing it with their own,
bearing a tempered light for those
who breathe beneath their branches.
Diamonds of rain embellish the thirsty oaks
and they drink it in in tangled unity,
not scornful of the others judgement.
Fickle clouds grudgingly bear the light
until the sun forces them to share
its unending generosity with everything below.
You were unburied
10 years before I was born,
pulled from the Arie riverbed
the day Nagasaki burned.
You died like a samurai
in your daughter’s arms,
head severed cleanly,
falling to the water
amidst the silence
of dead human trees
with their bark skin turned inside out,
among the screams of the living
realizing that not even water
can stop their burning away.
You were unburied
65 years before I was born,
killed by the big guns
with Conestoga wheels in the
ravine near Wounded Knee Creek.
You died running with your nursing infant in your arms trying to touch the flag of truce,
your child still suckling long after
the Great Spirits call— still suckling
as you were piled in the mounds
of mothers with no ghost shirts.
Others children’s children still
Ghost Dance and tell your lore.
You were buried
32 years before I was born,
shot in the back after
you had dug your own grave.
Shot in the back after
you had watched your house
burn in a kerosene blaze.
Shot in the back after
you knew the children
were safe in the swamp.
Shot in the back after
all of Rosewood burned
from the fury of white rage.
Shot in the back
until you were erased
except in the memory of tears.
What am I meant to do?
It’s summer and the
magnolias are blooming,
the cherry blossoms are ripe,
the black hills spruce
admits its forever mildew stink,
reminding harvesters not to
ever make it a Christmas tree.
I call out not knowing your names,
giving you invisible ones
that will reflect your death and life.
What am I meant to do?
Your unburied ash, spirit,
your buried charred bones
exists in wretched longing,
your names bleed into
the riverbed, the ravine, the clay.
I mourn as I freely travel the spaces
that others had trampled over you.
What am I meant to do?
Everything’s broken, diseased, sold and resold.
The pandemic’s breath blows on us.
Everything’s is devoured in a hunger never filled.
So why do I see a glistening in the distance?
In the day dream, a forest appears on the border.
The scent of lavender and lilies exhales out.
In the nightmare, the zodiac is sucked into
the black hole of a distant dissolving galaxy.
You wonder the miracle, if it comes,
will arise from darkness or dawn.
Will it arise from the first
natal nightmare or dream?
Her name you may
or may not recall.
It was Chrissie,
the body in the sand dune.
You do remember the shark,
the blood on the water,
death spreading like
a virus in the town of Amity.
You do remember that
the beaches should have been closed
but Amity was a summer town
that lived on summer dollars.
You do remember the shark
doing what it was built to do—
killing Mrs. Kintner’s little boy
on that beautiful July 4th day.
You do remember Mrs. Kintner’s
cold blooded slap
on police chief’s Body
warm blooded face.
“You knew there was a shark out there.
You knew it was dangerous
but you let people go swimming anyway.
You knew all those things
-BUT STILL MY BOY IS DEAD NOW!”
the mayor says.
“No, she’s not,”
Chief Brody acknowledges.
Suddenly you remember
reading a news piece
that Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fiero)
was a victim of the pandemic.
You realize there is no
police chief, scientist, grizzled old salt
banding together to do the right thing,
uniting to triumph over disease, death,
Only the orange hair President
standing deep in the drowning tide
smiling and waving and
telling everyone the water is fine.
“We are all Mrs. Kintner now.”
The final line is a quote by Mary McNamara,
the obituary writer for the Los Angeles Times.
What is the land
but lost sorrow
What is sorrow
but torn soul
but wounded skin
but a trail of tears.
white mans dirt
off their right foot
with their left foot
wipe the buffalo’s blood
off their right hand
with their left hand
bare right foot
to wounded left foot
on the dust
of their ancestors
their sacred hills
walk away from
The Great Spirit
to the not greater
white man’s God
slow sad right foot
to slower left foot.
Walk dragging their
dead still right foot
to still left foot
far away from the sun
of their monumental land
to this country
of bullets and blood
blue right foot
towards gray left foot
in a frenzy to erect
to all their dead
And when they cry it’s
the prayer of the white man
buried in Indian pain
May the wind
that is blowing
now and always
the dust of our memory
blow beyond your
fear of us
and all different
May the wind
turn from you
and only return
until you love not
the scars you
put on our backs
May you open your
eyes to unbuilt land
and see finally
The Great Spirit
calling every one
to share the
even the dust
with all that
have always walked
right foot to left foot
It’s a fizgig, a gadding
of damp powder
hinting to explode,
assuming your surname
without any legal ceremony.
It flip flops you with trust
burrowing into the one
sleeping ahead of you,
waking you when you fall behind.
Not at all heavy, yet the
heaviest thing you’ll ever have.
Every breath heavy with airy death
that stunts your budding
wings from taking flight.
You measure the weight of
every thought until it always
pulls you down and your soul
takes flight jut to live…
…and you don’t t bother to chase it.
a fizgig is both a flirting woman and a
firework of damp powder that fizzes or hisses when it explodes.
gadding is to go around from one place to another, in the pursuit of pleasure or entertainment.
A seed is a forest-to be.
A rock is a mountain-to-be.
A drop is a river-to-be.
A river is an ocean-to-be.
A cloud is a sky-to-be.
Clouds are an aspiring heaven.
An apple is a pie-to-be.
A brick is a house-to-be
A house is a city-to-be.
A city is a state-to-be.
A state is a country-to-be.
A country is a war-to-be.
War is a bullet-to-be.
A bullet is a death-to-be.
Deaths are a city destroyed.
Death is a house fallen.
A house fallen is just bricks,
apples not grown, pies never eaten.
the hell of war,
the hell of the bullet,
a city, country fallen to hell,
hell is the fallen house,
bricks tumbled to dust,
Death is the hell
of a heaven never found,
clouds never made,
rain never falling,
oceans never formed,
rivers never to be,
rivers dry from a dam of bricks,
forests never grown,
seeds never planted.
The moon was neither
voiced into creation
nor was it defined.
It was just parted
from the dark ink
of God’s voice.
exist on dark vellum
just illuminated papyrus.
God doesn’t have the power
to banish those things
that have always existed.
He can’t create the perfect night
just pull crows out of it,
really, the simplest of magic tricks.
The small orifice below the cheekbones
exists to project the whiteboard
scribblings of the human mind.
Man is sad because he knows
that his words and thoughts
fall short of God’s magnificent language.
The moon witnesses what
is below and above its light
and keeps both their secrets.
The light was so bad I made some clouds—
little cotton balls taped to helium balloons
drifting up to the heavens.
The first were the standard balloon animals:
dogs, sheep, horses, giraffes, lions.
They folded conventionally but
became much more creative creatures
with more cotton piled on.
The orange poodle became a bison,
the sheep a yak, the horse a hippopotamus,
giraffes just puffier and more absurd giraffes,
the lions awesome saber tooth tigers.
I added man, men, woeful enough that they needed a woman to tell them what to do.
Later I made the men sheep and the women lions.
I gave the dogs rabbit ears.
The sheep were now wolves.
I made the sky ark a canopy
to cover it from the dissolving sun,
a fluffy river to slack its thirst,
filled it with cotton candy gold fish
glittering bottle nose dolphins and sperm whales
echo locating each other’s existence,
populated its banks with palm trees and oaks
to shade all the other animals airy heads.
I created and created until the
creation created itself.
Lions became oaks,
sheep became mountains,
dogs became gods
wanting only attention
and belly rubs,
demanding all cloud creatures
know themselves only through
the smelling of each other’s asses.
It rained the last of the rain,
the last bit of piss left in their bowels,
rained until they could only poop.
I was irritated by the smell.
I was irritated by the noise.
I was irritated by how
they didn’t let me play my piano,
or continue creating my house
or not let me go to bed.
I was locked in place
and couldn’t look back.
I wanted to cover my ears
but my hands were gone.
I wanted to cover my nose
but it had broken, fallen off
into a pillar of salt.
I shouted until someone
or something heard me
and covered my mouth
with a primate hand,
stopped my ears
with a canine paw.
had stopped my creation
knowing that I hadn’t been satisfied
with what I had done
that very first day
and needed a reset.
The poet makes his gun out of any old thing:
sticks of words, bird song, the swish of trees,
the pitter patter of the growing city around him,
The poet’s gun is never just a gun.
His poems are never just words.
Today, the poet’s gun is a rose—
thorns of wounding,
warnings to admire its scent and beauty
from a respectful distance.
He fired it in the air knowing
that a gun that is a gun
is a little brook of death,
but since his gun was a rose,
it was dangerous and beautiful.
His verse exploded
shedding its crimson
like dew on the water.
It felt like rain.
It felt like pulsing veins.
It felt like life being knocked over.
It felt like love bursting through.
The gun was a rose
and the gun was not death.
Out of anything he made it.
Tomorrow, it would be water.
The soul is not a drip-dry thing.
It’s needs constant washing and wringing
to function cleanly.
It needs to tumble on high heat
to wear just right.
Hand wash it and it will shrink in protest.
Line dry it and you might think
it will smell of heaven but
it is the rancid smell of tussle and
toil that will stink the neighborhood.
And, oh, by the way you should never
bleach a thing that is already bleached.
Don’t use stain remover for that’s its job.
No starch, please. Stiffness is not needed.
The same goes for heavy or light ironing.
Follow these directions and
the soul will last your lifetime.
It will protect you from
all the stains of the world.
I am not a sailor.
I am meant to die on land,
ashes spread above sea level,
or in a coddled urn above the hearth.
My voice is paper and
where I choose to exist,
a white world that is not sky—
this voice of mine.
I have no ensign.
My heart beats soft, beautiful words,
a language of stars,
that knows that the twinkle
was once magnificent suns.
It’s in the shading.
It’s the way the light is written.
It’s the way the observer takes it all in.
It’s the way it convinces one that the world will last.
It’s the way it plants a seed in the mind,
the way it touches one inside, lives inside
the streets of memory, inhabits one’s emotional house,
sunsets, harbors, all the great perfect things
that exists in the brief eternity that loop eternally,
that convinces one that the extraordinary
is the purpose of existing in ordinary time,
that every moment lives for the perfect still life.
Poetry can kill you
when you shut
yourself inside of it.
It doesn’t want you
looking for better words
in other poems.
It wants to cage you
to the corners
of a sheet of paper.
It doesn’t want you
to breathe the thing
it won’t allow.
It wants you to use
just enough imagination
to finish it and
throw the overflow away.
For the time you write it
it has its own imagination
that refuses to acknowledge
that yours exists.
Until it’s done
you are it’s prisoner.
Only then will it open up
and let you breathe,
let itself breathe.
The seed planted with our small help
becomes a crop.
The flame carefully kindled by us
Now we must
weed our blighted hearts
to feed the moral fire
of our hungry minds.
a map of the galaxy
for his body,
a map of his genes
that are his universe.
a defense or attack
for every chess move
housed in Watson’s memory.
But precious of all,
the ability to
to put water in the
hands of the thirsty,
the right screws
to fit the peace machine
that makes our
better angels fly.
There once was a race of cake men
equally divided between
birthday and wedding types,
each born into whatever flavor
was selling that day—
usually chocolate or vanilla,
but towards the end Neapolitan-
whose faith was strong.
They succumbed to the next door
country of cake eaters,
who reveled in their two week
long cake eating festival.
The eaters would line up with
their forks and plates
and slice off a big piece of
cake men as they fled to
the nearby country of pie people
who granted them asylum and citizenship
because their people were
mainly rhubarb and mincemeat
and we’re suffering through fruit blight
that was destroying their fabled variety.
Soon the festival yielded
to a full scale invasion.
You see, the cake eaters were
tired of waiting in the sample line.
They ate the cake men to the last crumb.
With all the cake gone they ate the pies.
But by then the idea of cake was a lie.
The cakes were now mostly pies.
When the last forkful of pie
was in the cake eaters mouth
I will not be eaten by anyone
who can not see my beauty.
The eaters never thought that a cake
could be admired and never eaten.
They had no sense of the art and beauty
that was the filling of the cake/pie men’s faith
That last bite of pie became poisonous
and from then on the cake eaters
(who were now forced to make their own)
could never fully have their cake and eat it
without throwing up or dying.
They were now forever doomed to eat
their meat and vegetables.
What will happen
stop writing poems?
What will poetry become
when we stop inspiring
and the beauty of words
is silenced or rejected?
We will leave the writing table
and descend into the valley
to find new sounds and laughter.
We will drink the last water
from thirsty mountains.
We will listen
to the resounding
music and laughter
of our own dark forests.
When the giant bagel fell from the sky
everyone complained when it blocked the road.
Even when children cut it into pieces
and passed it out, lathered with shmear and lox
the town folks refused to eat the manna.
A host of angels descended to clean up the mess.
The town folks rushed to the angels,
still neglecting the heavenly bread.
When the last crumb had reascended to heaven
and the angels began to flap their wings
and take flight, the town folks begged them to stay,
but they would not. Instead, they left behind
a talking chicken to remind them when the sky fell.
I asked the haberdasher
to make me a new soul.
and lighter than 21 grams
with a loose fit.
He made it,
draped me in it
I went home
and hung it in the closet
The next day
I couldn’t figure out
how to put it on.
So, I left it in on its hanger.
Overnight it got darker
and had become a shadow.
In the light it went white.
I draped it over arm
and went for a stroll.
It feel out of my grasp
onto the sidewalk,
picked itself up and
followed perfectly behind me.
By twilight it had become invisible
and was complaining loudly
that it wanted to go home.
I took it back
to the haberdasher
like it asked of me.
The store was closed
and empty of every soul.
His tools had been left out.
Sadly, the master had gone home.
I am scared, mommy
like I was in the summer storm
many months ago.
I tremble in my feet and hands
as I was in the deep puddle,
eyes open, screaming, shaking, mommy,
dark words want to come off my tongue.
Mommy, I am shaking as I come
down the stairs, light as a ghost.
Make me some milk, mommy
milk, if you see me there.
Gone in the labyrinth
of dense words
is the thin golden clew
that is the salvation out
for the gathering of lost poets.
The thread doesn’t exit
to the center,
just a thick grove of forest
where they meander forever
in the definitions all around them,
each footfall erased in
the revision of those before.
The poet signs his words to the deaf.
The screen behind exposes his faulty hands.
He is silent.
His hands a fire.
He knows there will be unintended words,
new meanings to old and familiar lines.
The muddle is his creation,
their new meaning, new poem,
both treachery and rebirth,
their dawn and twilight, their light and moon,
both hawk and silver fish gliding, swimming
high in the silent moonlight clouds and sky
of the noisy rewrite of their imagination.
He reads his words on their shirts.
Cloth sells better, than ten thousand books.
The swift river of lines comes in their colors too!
His restless words settle in for the show.
He feels like a naked stranger in an open door.
When his hands stop, the applause comes.
The deaf are enthusiastic clappers.
Something about getting off on the vibrations
created by their hands, he figures.
He’s happy when they come up to him,
signing new syllables
to be printed on upside down books.
There will be a time when God leaves you.
Maybe summer. Maybe winter.
The last thing he will say:
Keep searching. Keep finding.
Seek me in the trash, the womb
lungs and heart.
He will leave you agape and stirring,
just a memory prayer
to say as the sun rises
and you wonder whether
winter or summer
has the holiest months.
The long way to heaven is to dig through the earth.
Walk with me. Fall with me.
Be the helmet light in the tunnel.
Hold my feet less I fall into the abyss.
Shackle your friends to you,
foot to foot, arm to arm.
The long way to heaven is to dig through the earth.
Pull me from hell, while all the others
jerk us to heaven’s salvation.
Mommy, esta di descubrí el lenguaje de los fantasmas
Ghost talk? What are you talking about, Jonny?
Si mommy. En serio descubrí. Escúchame.
Ghost talk? What do they say?
Para saludar dicen: hoo hoo.
Para decir que sí, dicen: Hoo
And how do they say goodbye?
No lo sé. They haven’t left yet.
Mama, today I discovered the language of ghosts.
Yes, mama. Seriously, I discovered it. Listen to me.
To say hello they say: Hoo hoo.
To say yes they say: Hoo.
I don’t know.
Writing poetry for me is like fishing in the wind:
You shoot your arrow-net into the air
and after many failures you snag an ugly bird
that you make beautiful the more you see
that it really resembles you.
The world is the ultimate trick
It grants man thunder yet steals his lightning
It makes him think he has the sweetest smell
of every thing
even that his shit does not stink
that taming fire was his best theft
of all time
that a caged dove heralds peace
in our time
the best of love
that time is a curse and not a gift
that the wolf is the enemy of pigs
that the world spins straight on its own axis
that he has a mind of his own design
that the red rose blooms for him to smell
that cancer is part of its mortal revenge
that nature taught man how to frown
that it would steal his nailed smile, if it could
The world is the ultimate trick
and it poisons him to think she’s his motherland
I gawked at her nine mind years
hooked three heart weeks later btw
f’ed a year before the day btw
three dogs, no kids
but she can really cook
so we lived happy btw
friends, church, family, dogs, house,
night, day, time all slipped away btw
yes, we aged, grew old-er btw
fell into cancer,
bad weather, lost it all, but well insured btw
no perfect couple, marriage but still around btw
until our slow last gasp,
last glance in the sun’s cast btw
on our old back porch with no one
do not send the sunshine
down in thoughtless
do not obsess on light
falling on all of your making,
everything on earth.
are things of the shade,
and the light falls too
hard on eyes
to all your light.
Bless the blessings.
Bless the moon
for bestowing dreams
that illuminate the soul.
Bless its beams.
Bless the way it reveals
revelations in the dark,
black letters inked on white vellum
daring to be read
that release the heaviness of the mind
in the lightness of eternity.
Bless the idea
that frees, not oppresses.
Bless words that shed
their flesh for the revolution.
Bless the protest sign
that replaces the trigger.
Bless the chalk mark that teaches
and not outlines a body.
Bless the creative mind
that marches with determined feet.
Bless the gravestones never needed,
those living bodies never
requiring homicide reports.
Bless all the never used bullets,
the limbs that remain whole.
Bless all those who die
in their right time,
their memories properly recorded.
Bless their smiles.
Bless your laugh.
Bless the eye
that sees, believes,
that still has vision and faith.
Bless all the prophets
who were right.
Bless the heart
filled with good emotions.
Bless the choir of our tongues,
the hymn that uplifts.
Bless all the times
that God has granted us
the chance to do the right thing.
The hot night rain drenches me in sleep
opening a bow to prayer
amidst the lunatic birds swarming
in the dark heat.
Magnolias are split in dreams
heavy with bolts and tears,
flowing in the cascade
of cracked mirrors.
All is unmoored from my memory,
surviving on communion.
Dear Jesus am I not more profound
than thy mad swirl?
in the shade of hades
sire and rise
the lived devil,
the tornado donator
that is the heart of the earth.
God denying, dog hating,
it listens for silence, the license
to edit the tide to its whim
and sink man’s canoe in its ocean.
Wise are the parents who give
their children difficult names.
Names that are a chant to God,
a sacrament with every utterance.
Or names that light a fiery rebellion
in the mulling brain.
Names that speak of the glory
that was before the slave ships.
Names that display the wonder of sky,
the Eagle, Buffalo, Wolf, Deer.
Names that should hurt and choke
Braves names spoken
by brave and unafraid people.
Names shouted loud by those
who fearlessly, openly love.
Those who dropped their names
in the easy English soil, reclaim them!
Speak it in the accent of the old country,
the tribes of the African plain and rivers,
the screech, rumble of the clouds, creatures that gave you your forever sound.
Gather your jewels from the ashes.
Mine them until they get their attention.
Collect the pieces of your lost continents
from their miscomprehension.
Your difficult names predate centuries
of their arrogance, ignorance, prejudice.
You are history
not their rewrite.
Don’t explain your name’s meaning
to those who have forgotten your story.
You are the original and
they are the stereotype.
Bend your syllables, vowels
into a new understanding country.
Keep your difficult names
Today I will be
an apple bringer,
a sower of Job’s tears,
a healer of grief.
Today I will be
the tarty sweet fruit
passed hand to hand
in the peace caravan.
Today I will be
the cooing melody
among a flight of doves.
Today I will be
the candle of the night
that shines the best
of my country.
Today I will be
the wind that spreads
the camphoric cries
that can not be blown out.
Tomorrow the world
will grant justice
for the obstinate tears shed.
Tomorrow God will
dance and sit amongst
in the wake of his beautiful moon.
Tomorrow the residue of his love
will turn the screams into almonds
that we will eat with him.
Tomorrow we will witness
the miracle of all fallen songs
blossoming into tulips.
I want to go live
in Candy Button Land,
for the news everyday
gets so out of hand!
Chubby bubbles of color,
round like mandalas,
where squeaky clean lanes
lead to five wooing hues.
I’d first go hug peach-
she reminds me of the beach
and those doughnuts
that you blow up.
I would rest my head on violet,
add some white, how I’d desire it!
like fluffed pillows-
he just mellows.
I’d flip, melt, big dot blue,
then shove off in a barley canoe-
would go wading after paddling,
with my feet a’ splish, a’ splashing,
and throw back into the water
fish who’ve stranded.
Next I’d bask by gladsome yellow,
like a resting, rock-perched turtle,
take in dynamizing rays,
-Vitamin D drops had their day-
recharged chakras, freely flowing,
guide my way.
I’d lay atop of green
search the stars for craft unseen-
this one bubble,
points skyward Hubble,
readied to discover
for crop circle lovers:
who took the trouble?
I want to go live
in Candy Button Land.
Writing poems for children is calming for me, as is coloring for adults. I wrote this on 05/27/20, as we near the end of the quarantine in NYC, where I live and work in my community as a clinical social worker in private practice. It was written for 9-14 year-olds, but when I read this to an adult I know, she said “I want to go live in Candy Button Land right now, too!”
The tears fade in
the screaming inside howling brick.
It is our cancer
stone, flesh and home.
Our history is in its eye,
our profile in this wild night of carnage
slouching towards mornings. We turn
away and the brick frees us.
We turn back and are inside
our granite selves forming in the sculpting wind,
erring in the perfect sad light,
Our names are erased from brick,
letters spreading like smoke
in the all defining wind.
It drops in the field of its birth,
a flash in the silent mud and clay.
It shimmers on my wife’s white blouse,
and when she walks away,
settles in memory.
The wind chisels a robin
falling, dying in my stare.
The cloud of my neighbor
floats towards me, pale eyes
trying to define me
but I am not a window.
Her face is lost in the brick
and the wind erases her,
the street, their signs,
the names of those in houses behind.
In the Charleston marketplace, a boutique auctions off
detailed limited edition replicas of black history: a slave
who hugs his chains upright over his porcelain hands,
is sold for $1200.00 to a man with a black Amex card,
a horde listening to the Emancipation Proclamation
goes for the same amount, Malcolm X gets $1000.00,
MLK just a little less, the OJ bobble heads sell for $60.00
in the store’s gift shop while the white Bronco in
slow pursuit complete with flashing police lights
and breathless live commentary garners $2400.00,
Rosa Parks languishes at the rear eventually getting $300.00,
Eric Garner, Treyvon Martin, Rodney King are
part of lot sold for $500.00 clearance and a free
Black Lives Matter T-shirt, George Floyd gasping out
“I can’t breathe,” enshrined in a porcelain halo nabs
the same price, while the last figurine, of his murderer
being embraced by a very happy Donald Trump is
purchased by a man in a MAGA hat for $10,000.00.
Pick a day.
The random date generator chose:
January 13, 1835
There are still generations formed
from those that fell in
birthed sons and daughters
on that day.
Each an unrepeatable existence.
Family lore and crests
enshrine the first kiss,
the birds that soared the sky,
the color of flowers in his/her hand,
words spoken and written in the heart,
the dress she wore,
the beard he had
and discarded or kept,
the Fahrenheit/Celsius of
the exact hour, minute second
of their first heat,
the time that their fingers
brushing against each other,
the number of teeth
shown in the first smile.
Count the time
from first hello to last goodbye.
Enshrine that number
of seconds, minutes, hours,
days, weeks, months, years,
in the tales told about them
by their children.
all the overlapping
welcomes and farewells
into the colorful threads
of all the houses born and fallen.
I look at that history
and I love you
solidly in the echoes
of all the past.
You fill my time,
even my sadness.
I have gazed too long
Into the light of you.
I only see
the burnt-in after glow
of all the whiteness.
The oaks perceiving the assailing breeze shiver off their nuts, swallows and squirrels
upwards to a dark fearful sky
that camouflages broken peace in the wild promises
of the swirling winds.
Night breaks night—
smashing every compass point in impatience.
Bricks stem to snow, the wind ghosts every leaf
in mournful woe.
The wasp tail shears enter in breathing
a final winter to her old house.
Inside her chest the wind hornets sting her,
with the loneliness of the yet and not yet to be.
The sofa pillows fly down the stairs
saving her small barking dog ascending the dark.
She hears black birds caw to her in the chaos,
the bully air stabbing in sharp awe,
stabbing her aware.
She knows it now. She sees the reason and agrees.
I am oxygen for you are the sky.
We exist only
because rain has formed the sea.
Our memory is buried
in every tide.
It waters swim inside
the roots of our blood.
The fluid of our language,
rippling stories in the school of words.
The bits of dreaming
are collected in clay pots.
Our thoughts are birds skittering
in the branches above the swirl.
Existence is the milky fish eyes
floating lifeless on the ocean’s surface.
Our kisses evaporate in the air,
not even dripping onto the
silent sea life nor sinking into the marl.
Our love is a bowl of feathers
waiting to form flight.
Until then are only meaning
waits in the icebox for the oven to warm.
Underwater, famished mermaids are eager to eat
the dreams and hopes of our sated angels.
My dog finds a conch nestled in the sand-
half dead, half alive- in the foaming tide,
She paws at its exposed pinkness
ignoring the hermit crab seeking shelter.
The conch shrivels beyond its lip
the scent of dead flowers pouring out,
my dog in a frenzy to taste its exotic flesh,
this beautiful creature sheltering in place.
Resisting the urge to pluck it from its shell
I pick it up and toss it beyond her scent,
beyond the fear, disease, the quarantine
I must always return to in silence.
As the shell sinks back to its home,
I now know everything dies in the sand.
For my reversal and recovery,
For my wife’s lost womb,
For a future free of cancers,
For the old brick house
toppled in the wolf tornado,
For the new cradle being
raised on an ancient cry of earth,
For the mothers who died
never seeing their children wed,
For rescued memories stuck on cardboard,
For dawning days of gray hair
and salt crusted smiles,
For all the altars yet to be built and crossed,
For all the twisted trees floating on rippled tides,
For all the roads, maps, stains and travails
that forged our life, created this prayer,
this hymn I sing.