Category Archives: uncategorized

4000

The poem I posted this morning, “Fox On The Run,” is the 107th new poem I’ve posted on the blog this year.

I started keeping track of how many new poems I’ve posted on this blog on January 1st, 2010. This poem is number 4,000 over that time period. There are probably another 3,000 or so in the archives I’ve kept, online and on paper, since 1974.

That works out to about .89 poems a day, which seems like a reasonable way of putting it as many aren’t even real poems according to some folks. (Don’t listen to them. Let’s round up and say it’s an average of a poem a day, shall we?)

I’ve always nicknamed this bookkeeping “the Meaningless Goal,” although it has a more specific meaning and purpose for me that I don’t share with others, and I won’t share here.

More to the point, it represents a way of looking at the Work I Do that I think does matter — which is that many of them, most of them in fact, are mediocre at best and do more for the Work as a whole than they do standing alone as indivdual poems. I just decided to make it all public and available, rather than hiding it away.

I have a manuscript of selected poems in progress now. It stands at about 50 poems I’d be glad to be remembered for when I die. I’m ok with that. The blog will remain as the rest of the iceberg I struck upon before sinking. I’m ok with that too.

I’m not done adding to the Work yet, but I thought it worth noting that as poets go, I’m only moderately talented but I put in work to the point of exhaustion sometimes.

I try not to fall into the trap of putting any individual poem’s perfection before its service to the Work overall. (In other words, I edit and polish but recall that there’s always another poem to be written.)

I’m 62 and I feel like I’m just now getting to be the poet I knew I could be.

Back to work.


Revisions

Just made some revisions to the “Patreon” and “Show schedule, Tracks, and more” pages here. Updated links, etc.

An FYI only, but I’d love to have you check them out when you have time.  


Notice

My father passed away this morning at the age of 89 from advanced Parkinson’s disease. I will be away from writing here for several days, at least.  

I will be back. Thanks. 


An important note

Just letting everyone know that my output these days is low because we are dealing with multiple health crises in my family at the moment, and I’m the only member of the crew who is (crossed fingers) on my feet most consistently right now. 

I’m trying to get things finished and posted but…

Be patient. I’ll be back soon.  

Thanks.


Working on…

A music project. Poems to return in a day or so.


Unfamiliar

Never imagined
that my memory could
disappear, but it is. The letters of words
are themselves becoming new.

Definitions seem fresh again —
you ask me for a memory of you
that makes me smile — what is a smile?
Those letters are unfamiliar.

I’m not even sure how I’m writing this.
Muscle-habit, maybe; the gross framing
of my body doing a better job
of it than my brain can now.

My world that has depended
on my being certain of what I already know
is turning into smoke so much of the time.
It’s fine. I’ll slip into a sea of forgetting;

I’ll be fine there.




break

taking a few days off to recharge and rest up after some minor health issues.
read some poems from the past.
see you soon — I appreciate your attention.


Spells

A tiger and a grove of cedars,
a door and one dead tree.

A sword with an apple on its tip, a seeded cake,
a crow perched within a heart-topped arch of iron.

A stone with a voice, a goat dancing the tarantelle,
a blue-tinged wind hurrying leaves of blood along.

Something happening. Chilled backbones,
wet lips, trembling hands. Sorting the beings
in our minds, wondering how they mean.

All the possible revolving meanings
of transformed symbols falling into
their respective places.

If there’s a prophecy here it is open
to interpretation, but not
to doubt in its existence.

If it is an affirmation,
what it empowers
is hidden from us.


Fragment From Remnant

It keeps getting harder.

Small things. Triggers.

Deeper holes, steeper sides.

Darker, darkest; pure and wholesome darkness.

Not a man. A flesh wound. A mere annoyance.


Be back soon

Just getting through some stuff. Back soon. Sorry about the delay.

T


Labor Day

Originally posted 9/5/2011. Revised.

The rude elements
dressed your dirt-blessed hand.
Do not apologize for it.
Make the rich,
the distastefully clean,
shake it.  Make them see you: 
tired, aging too fast,
forearms threaded strong
from work. Force them
to see your clothes: how thin the fabric
on your jeans, the patches, 
the tears.  

Give them a moment
to take it all in,
then smack them. Seize their throats
and impress upon them
the everlasting schedule
of your simplified days —
each day you rise, sup,
work, sup, work, sup,
and sleep,
a routine broken
only by the time you steal back
to make a home, make children,
bounce the baby on your greasy knee.

None of the dirt you carry makes you
unclean. All of it was borne to make them
what they are. You deserve this anger
as you count pennies,
consider famine,
make do.  

You’re more glue
for this shiny cracked country
than any glitter-fed celebrity
or squinting dollar-breeding usurer;
make it known. Grab them one and all 
by their hands and at the very least,
make them shake yours — show them
that honest tan under your grime.

If their fear is a likely result,
it may be the wedge 
to open the doors
they’ve kept barred for so long.
Who better than you
to open them? Only your shoulder,
so long pressed to their wheels,
can possibly burst those locks.


About That Candle…

It’s said that it is better to light a candle
than curse the dark.

It used to be on a poster somewhere;
now it shows up on flickering screens.

Some of us have learned
how to be at greater peace in darkness

than we ever could be in the light.
Know this: that benevolent flame hurts

from out here. It reminds us
of where we are and how we are

not you. How we have adapted, how some
have even found a way to thrive

in darkness. Out here hope
is a danger, as it has been snuffed out so often

that to approach your distant candle
is an invitation to darkness

more profound for its rushing to take us back
just as we begin to adapt to light

and to imagine that we could have
what you have — although in truth,

some of what we saw there before
the wick failed left us puzzled: why would

what you have be any better than what we have
here — you with your sharp definitions, your

assumed clarity? Out here the world is soft,
we are careful to assume nothing,

and if we ever have cause
to light a fire

it will be one so fed and informed
by the dark we have always called home

that it will make the Shadow
you want to eliminate

grow so large you will beg us
for a way out, for understanding.


The Stench

1.
In first light I see
the black cat waiting for me
below the kitchen window perch.

“Jump up, beautiful girl — you
can do it!” I urge her and she leaps
up light, lands heavy, settles in
to her treats and wet food. The calico
does the same for her bowl across the room;
they are, for the moment, content.

I allow myself a thin smile
before I start the coffee,
before the scent fills the kitchen,
before I look out the front windows,
before I take a breath of the Stench out there.

2.
It takes me a hard breath or two
before I relax into the care
it takes to stand myself upright
in the teeth of the Stench.

3.
Dare I turn on the television? Dare I
open my mail? Dare I think of how things
might be getting better or worse?
Dare I count the dead?
Dare I count the sneers and curses?

Dare I measure
the indifference of the alleged good majority?

Dare I call them out as the deep source
of this smell?

4.
It’s taken me far too long to call it
as I sense it: that it is not behavior seen
or anger heard nearly as much as it is
an odor that chokes me,
makes everything taste less healthy;
an odor so thick it coats my skin
and distorts my touch; a Stench
from a host of graves, blood soaked
so deep into the soil it stains every foundation
and leaks into the roots of every tree
and blade of grass.

4.
In spite of how I choke upon the Stench
the cats seem to ignore it, are purring and happy,
falling back to sleep in their favorite spots
before I pour my first cup of coffee. I suck it down
and here I am again, wondering if today is the day
that I will suffocate at last.

5.
One cat sneezes. I look up to see
the calico stretching and reforming to her tight space.
She wheezes a bit. Might be the Stench,
might be simpler than that.

I’m sure it’s simpler than that.

I need to believe there are those I love
unaffected by the Stench.

6.
My love, asleep still in the next room?
All I want is for her to live through this
and thrive again, breathe clean again.

7.
As for myself, all I ask
is that I may live long enough
to help to clear the air.





Sharing

If you can keep a secret longer than it takes you
to walk from my mouth to the next available ear

you may learn from me a thing or two
about life itself, or perhaps less than life itself.

It may be the one insight needed, a last piece
to a puzzle you’ve had sitting undone for decades.

Of course, maybe the secret will only light up one absurd corner
of your own prosaic life, and you’ll shrug it off at once.

Or it will be in cipher form and so poorly made
you will lose interest at once and forget it before you’ve cracked it.

You may in fact only learn about my pretentious, pompous persona,
hiding place for a weakling attempting to seem strong.

All you need to do is approach me and ask to hear it.
I swear to you it will be told to you at once. You needn’t hang around.

I’m not the kind to make you stay with me longer than is necessary
for either of us. I will say I am the kind who needs to let it out,

in riddles sometimes but mostly in plain speech. Maybe you
are the same and you will go at once away from me and tell another.

Whatever: the world is always burning more or less everywhere
and if there are things we know that will douse a flame or more,

we should pour them out. So come close and listen. Maybe there’s something here that may save us all that will only work if shared.

If it’s time for sharing it, and you and I
are the only ones here, can we refuse each other?


New Hymnal

I wanted to have the life some of you apparently have
where you are thoroughly in love with the purple throats
of the irises in your yards and ever-tumbling with joy
over the individual reds of the house finches on your feeders

where you dive headfirst into the language of awe
when perched atop a local cliff and sit enthralled
by the fungi you spotted in your neighbor’s yard
wondering if they’d kill you but oh so lovely how could they

If this is how you are I honor your optimism
over the need for beauty and love
in our battle for the lives
we all think we all should live

When it comes to awe I take mine
from the voices of those in pain
who yet struggle to be healed and I say
in the clatter of a world falling apart there is yet

a sacred sound that to me is equal to the slap
of humpback waves on the side of your boat
In the color of poster board rage and flags in revolt
I can see the depth of how staggeringly handsome

humanity can be in the teeth of the gale of repression
and while repression itself has no beauty to it
the response it engenders in those driven against it
for me comes close to the catch in your breath

from the sight of fields of wild lavender
the scent of the earth warming in spring
the petrichor that predicts the end of a drought
that feels to me like the moment the barricades fall

When time comes to me to take in your notion of beauty
I shall take it in as a due reward for pushing through
but until then I will have to hone my grim adoration
for the grim into an edge that will carve down walls

and if you choose to extoll your esthetic as superior
I will turn and hope for the best for you in what is coming
and continue to seek and hope to find a new hymnal
in this moment where the old one has begun to falter