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Heads up

Sorry for the reduced output of late.  Dealing with an attack of something stomach related, possibly pancreatitis, and it’s knocked me for a loop.

I’ll be back in form in the next day or so.

T

 

 

 


the American quiet

in the American quiet
a voice that 
in other countries
is plain and 
acknowledged
becomes a nuisance,

an unnecessary
trumpeting of what
the American quiet claims
is so obvious it is
unnecessary to say it:

that people 
have a right to 
redress and 
even the rudest hint
of protest is still
to be honored

but in the American quiet
all you hear
is that the rudeness
of the hint negates
the gaping scream
of the sacred cry 
it portends

you could drown in the American quiet
and no one would hear you scream


I Burn Twice

It is lazy to call this fatigue
or exhaustion. It is evil
to call this resignation or
surrender. I don’t have the right
to surrender or resign. 
By being ill and tired
I am doing evil. Smaller evil, maybe,
than others do; nevertheless
my exquisite miniature wrongs
enable Evils larger than mine
by geometric measures of scale
and so I am part of them.
I can tell myself every lie
in the big book of denial
about this, justify
a greed for self care

until I am exhausted
from that alone; in the end
neither self-talk
nor self-coddling will matter
when everything begins to burn;
all fingers will point at me,
the lazy demon,
as I burn twice, and I will howl
not from pain alone,
but in agreement
with your disgust.


Friday Night Guitar Poem

On a Friday night
I have a date with 
my guitar
a bundle of weed
and all my insecurity

because in the afternoon
I was bound by frail family
to their service
and in the morning I felt
every twinge of my chronic diseases

I need to get back to the doctor
but I can’t make myself go
because of what they might tell me
and I can’t let my family go
because of what they might call me

while we’re at it
I am only surreptitiously fighting the beasts
who are owning the world right now

I ought to buy a gun
to kill a fascist 

but I know
my hands make me a terrible shot
unless the gun is pressed 
against my head

I do the research 
compile names
addresses and hatreds
but who is going to care
among my gentle friends 
who are sure that love will conquer all
once they are bulldozed 
into the poisoned earth
I need to seize the guitar
the way I used to hold my pen
before I stopped writing poems
in favor of playing guitars
with these broken hands
full of dead nerves that hate me
as I have grown to hate so much

all I want is one good touch
all I want to love is one good person

but instead I fear the voice inside saying
fuck black brown white
center left and right
America
and the rest of the world
(the dolphins too)
and all the love the great unknown holds tight
instead of letting it flow

I want to hold my guitar
and play it loud
drown out the butchers
claiming my dying ears
for their own

singing me hemorrhage songs
drawing me into their arms

I’m tired of you if you think this is
remotely a good poem
remotely a prayer
can’t see this is a wound opening with a hiss
once cherished blood
(yours and mine) flowing out
on a Friday night

you ought to
thank God for this guitar
in my hands
which is not at all a gun


Leaf

I pick a leaf off my windshield
in a parking lot far from home.
It does not look like a tree there
I can recall, nor any I can see now;
it must have fallen to the glass
somewhere along my way here
and now it is far from home, 
as am I. I toss it to the ground
where it will soon rot and join
the soil, its foreign voice adding
to the patter of this place and 
who knows what will happen 
as a result; I will have played
in that a small part, a carrier’s part,
my own role near-unconscious,
soon forgotten by me in spite of
this poem and unknown to all others
in spite of this poem that itself
might soon fall and rot and disappear
into the earth, there to make
something happen none of us 
can currently foresee. Without much hope,
I daydream 
the potential here
in this parking lot 
too far from home.


Not Getting Over It

I don’t get over it
no matter what it is. It 
invariably looms over
me like some sheer
cliff for more or less time
and sticks in my memory
for longer.

I’ll likely be the same
(more or less) afterward
but shall be 
more defined
by having gone through it,
whatever it is. In the past 

it’s been many different things;
some were steeper
and sharper and cut me 
to form more starkly. 

Whatever it is or will be
I will expect 
pain,
will expect to be modified:

to be made into something
meant to be left behind
as it stalks off 
towering
into my past —

something to be cast off.

I won’t have a chance to get over it
because it will be gone

before I can even try.


Pushcart nomination…

Very pleased to note that Radius, an excellent online journal, has nominated my poem “The Patriarchy Apologizes” for a 2018 Pushcart Prize.

You can read the nomination essay and link to the nomination poems here.

Thanks to the editorial staff at Radius for the honor. 


My Morning Face

My unintended
punk morning hair.

Skin minutely flaky;
thanks, Type 2.

Eyes still baggy
in spite of sleep.

The damn bifocals,
the damn need for them.

Mirror, mirror: I begin to see
how I will end

some years from now,
although maybe I will have

fewer than I hope
to have. I will go

waving some sign
of denial

or defiance
in the midst of slow

decline, having
burned myself down

on one more night,
one more long night,

half blind yet
still seeking clarity.

I put myself
in this place

and will not likely
ever be content with it,

but while I’m here
I will look ahead.

I chose this,
now and then

readily and
consciously, now and then 

in error
or without

intention; I will
own the place

I am in and the place
where I’m going,

refuse to comb
my hair

before I step into
the next world.


Trivial Note

Just a trivial note to all:  I recently pointed this blog to a domain that doesn’t indicate it’s on WordPress.com. 

No reason, really; just an option that became available and I said “why not?”

It is now at “http://radioactiveart.blog” for those of you who notice such things.  I don’t think it requires you to change any bookmarks you might have as the old domain works as well.

I told you it was a trivial note.

Carry on.

T


Off The Blade

When I look at the television
and say out loud, “you’re a 
fucking moron,” I don’t mean it
literally.

There’s no one here,
for one thing.  Just the flat screen
and the flat face of the flat-out
fucking moron, as I’ve labeled him.

I know labeling is wrong but somehow
I need this. I need to stare into 
that reddish bloat and call him 
something or other, just to keep myself
off the blade. 

I don’t know his actual IQ
of course, for another thing — he’s not
smart, I suspect, more cunning, more
versed in sneaky, better at bulling his way
through the day than at figuring things out. 

And to disgrace the perfectly good word
“fucking” by using it in tandem
with my other words, by intensifying
my disdain for his cretin soul
through the colloquial use
of that beautiful, hothouse, slick-making
word –bah. 

I choose instead to
stare into the screen
while muttering nonsense syllables. 

I’m a person with better things to do
and better uses for my voice. I shall keep silent,
sharpen all the knives in the house,
dig trenches, stock up on books
soon to be banned, call every vulnerable
soul I know and invite them to build a fortress,
learn the rules of dirty pool, develop codes, 
fight as needed, take it to the enemy,
become as valiant as drama majors
on an empty stage waiting for the house lights
to go down and the stage lights to come up —

that’s how I play the game in my head,
and how I shame the game with the incantation,
once again.  “You’re a fucking moron.”
Staring into the screen, wishing I believed
in magic words, keeping myself
off the blade tonight.


Seed

Inside the seed of this second
is the tree of the entire day.

It begins to grow
when you open your eyes.

It bends as you do,
breaks if you do.

As you fall asleep
it is cut down and made into

furniture in the house
you go to in dreams. 

It holds the dream clothes,
the dream pages of diaries,

dream plans upon dream plans scribbled 
on dream paper.

Tomorrow, you’ll awake
and all this forest will be lost

but inside the seed of that second
waits the tree of a new day.


Private Language

I am trying to explain the delicacy
of our private language
to a sparrow,

hoping the drab bird
will understand enough
to translate it

and let it pour 
across morning
outside our window.

I hope it will mean something.
I hope it will succeed 
in bringing what we say

into fuller being. 
I hope nature draws it in,
holds it close, passes it back.

I want to hear it in the rain.
I want you to hear it
in the rain and wind. 

I want what we whisper
to one another
to become a shout

everyone hears.
Make it a battle cry,
rally chant, holy song,

Love, you know:
what we say in secret 
to each other

could carry the world
if they could
understand it.


How To Repair The Conquest

You want too much, 
I’ve been told. Eagle
dancing in my back pocket,
turtle face peeking from within
my coat, a mist in my eyes
that insinuated itself there
from a pond in deep woods.
You accuse me, say I want a life
like that, a life made of

all that was eaten and spit out
before I was even born, before
I could even understand. You say
I could have born in a time when
it was commonly part
of all who were born here,
but I wasn’t.  You accuse me,

say I want to go back there as if all
that’s happened could be erased;
you accuse me again and again 

and I respond that of course I know 
better, that we can’t go back
and I know erasing all that would mean
erasing me, as I am some
of what’s happened 
since,

and then I stop and look
at that, and think of how
it would shift the world
if I were to be erased

and I say that I need to study
on this one a bit more
before I can fully respond, even though
I am clear about how I’m leaning
and if I disappear after speaking,

so be it.


A note to the readers of this blog…

Dear folks,

I’ve decided to cut way back on my poetry writing and posting for the next month.

It’s important, I think, to lie fallow now and then and recharge. As it is, I’ve posted an average of one poem a day on the blog since 2010, so taking a bit of time away from it all doesn’t seem too outrageous an idea in the pursuit of better poetry.

This decision is also prompted by a really, REALLY busy work schedule for my business in April, including a fair amount of travel to handle multiple sessions for one client. I’m taking next week off for vacation and then plunging into the mess.

I hope my hiatus will not drive you away, especially those of you who are new readers.  Plenty of poems here to read!  

Thanks, and see you soon,

Tony


Delicacy

There is a delicacy to the question
of how we are going to move forward
from this moment — at least for those who see it
as yet another vagary of politics, a moment
up for firm but cordial discussion.  

For me the delicacy of the question
is drowned by the blood
from those being butchered
to feed both sides,
and how it pools ever deeper.

The ones who think it’s time
to find common ground and strive
for mutual goals are terrified
that someone might choose instead
to point out the red footprints 

they’re leaving behind 
on their way to the conference table;
to say that the words in their mouths
form the echoes of death sentences;
to say that agreeing to disagree

is equivalent to agreeing
to sharpen swords and load the guns
of the butchers. For me,
the moment for fear
of plain talk is long past.

Nothing in this moment
is delicate. Look at how the blood
runs. Look at how we hunker down,
hollow-faced, pretending. There is
nothing to be said. Now’s a time

for something that is not talk.
I don’t even want to give it a word
because it doesn’t demand expression.
Talking, we save for listeners. Listening
is a delicate art. This is not the time for it.