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.
Category Archives: uncategorized
I pick a leaf off my windshield
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
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.
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.
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
in the midst of slow
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
consciously, now and then
intention; I will
own the place
I am in and the place
where I’m going,
refuse to comb
before I step into
the next world.
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.
When I look at the television
and say out loud, “you’re a
fucking moron,” I don’t mean it
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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,
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.
strong attractor, such memory
of how little I cared for consequence
in their presence. I was young
and loathed myself except when
I exalted myself, and I had no balance
between. Stormcharger, super-attractor,
strong bringer of past to present, memory
of what I gained and tossed; nonsense,
these things – storm attractor, superbringer,
strong charger – are words only, things
I mastered long ago, things I made up
for the purpose of raising the dead
from the tombs within me. I was young once.
I killed that youth six times over. I am old now,
still ready to kill that youth, superstorm, charge attractor,
strength brought to bear upon how sick I am
with nostalgia and regret for how I let myself go
and how often in recreation of those forces
I let myself go feebly into their streams again.
I hit my Meaningless Goal for the year and beat last year’s posted poem total by 1.
328 poems posted for the year.
I’ll try and get to 330 by New Year’s Eve, but I think I’m taking a few days off for the holidays.
Enjoy your holidays, and thank you for reading.
The problem with
three chords and the truth
is always that third chord
When the first one
lays it right out there
where anyone can see it
and the second one
at what the first one did
why do you need one more
when all it does
is nods at the first two
and brings you
to them again
Maybe it’s in
the nature of truth
that we find the answer
that it’s not as much about
how three chords fill the void
better than one or two
than it is about
which three chords you choose
to carry which truths
You reach out endlessly
for the right ones
with two or three fingers
on keys or strings
and end up hearing either outright lies
or mere cartoons of that truth
and then you reach out again
and this time you find
a truth you weren’t expecting
which you follow and
there you go with those chords
and that truth
but the one you started with
gets away and one day
you come back to it
and stare at it and say
was this ever true
You puzzle out three new chords
and try to answer that
until one day that truth
blares out of a car radio
flying in on three chords
you never even considered
and it’s a hit and you shake your head
at how simple it should have been
to do this and then
you crank it up
of how this mystery passed you by
as you shout and you sing
and try to figure out
that third chord
that was the key you never found
Three fractured heads
in the crotch of a tree.
Dog-torn infant arms
strewn in a ditch.
On a dirt road,
dark wet sand.
New genocide and massacre
glimpsed on a screen.
You can’t look away
even as you say
“it can’t happen here.”
It has happened here.
Here is here because
it has happened here.
You didn’t do it. You had
nothing to do with it.
But you are here, in part,
because it has happened here.
This is why
you can’t look away
even as you say
“it can’t happen here.”
You want to know
what it looks like,
want to toughen up.
It can’t happen here
but who knows where
it will happen tomorrow
and if you are there
by chance or design
your today could be gone
when your tomorrow gets here.
You keep an eye
on the screen
and make plans and promises
about what you will
and will not do
if it happens
where you are:
how you will stay upright
if the road runs slippery
with blood, how you will avoid
tripping over flesh
on your walkway, how you will
get past it. How you
will thrive in the aftermath,
how you will raise a family