Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lying with Snails

In a soil thick with snails and rich as grease
I lie alone, untouched, unspoken, waiting for 
the spade.  The sound of the cutting of the earth:
grass ripping, worms splitting open, oozing 
into my surrounded bed.  This dirt, these snails
are my home now.  I am dead to the blue sky,
the white air.  My air is brown; my air
is grease; my companions are snails.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At the Grave of my Family: Father and 2 Brothers

This is the longest that I've spent with them,
lined up beneath the earth, side by side:
a united family.
This is the closest I've been to them,
all three so near, but 10 feet beneath my feet.
They all felt, at one time or another, that I was
better than them; put me on an invisible
pedestal high above them.
Now I'm above them.  I'm left alone
even though we've been estranged for decades.
I am alone.   It is quite here;
we haven't spoken in years.

I am the last on, penned with a name
that I had to grow in to;
A name that I pass along to my own children,
without strings attached to each letter,
each false memory, family lore that dictated
my behavior.  I.  am.  here.
staring at my name chiseled three times
into granite stones:

Here lies               Here lies               Here lies

I give my sons this name, Germanic and complete:
a name without lies;
The lies they told me, themselves,
the police.

Here lies the end of an era,
a fictional family made up of non-existent birthdays
Christmas cheer, Easter egg hunts, Holy Communion.
I have laid these lies to rest.

I turn around, take my sons's hand and
go home.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A writer with nothing particular to say

Flirting isn't the right word.  I am teetering with the idea of being a writer.  It is unsteady and lonely.  I like to write.  I love to read.  I know that I am capable of penning my thoughts.  I can definitely structure my days (blocking out specific time) to include writing.  Hell, I got my Master's and PhD while working and having kids.  I'm no stranger to late nights.  The difference?  With those, I had something specific to say.  I had a required format to communicate my ideas.  I wrote essays and papers and theses and a dissertation: hours and hundreds of pages.  It was difficult and sometimes I just wanted to go to bed, but the words always came.  They always came.

Now, I journal about my days, copy favorite poems, and every now and then I notice something that I try to fit into a poem.  The words come, but what do they say?  I'm not a pastoral poet.  I am not trying to communicate my love of summer evenings.  I'm no Allen Ginsberg.  I am not trying to describe getting drunk or the misguided politics of 2017.  I'm a dad.  I'm an educator on summer vacation.  I'm a writer with nothing particular to say.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Ornithology, or how to identify your feelings

I am but an amateur:
my Pathos sits in the shade of a pool umbrella
as a yellow-breasted swallow performs
schizophrenic swirls upon
aquamarine translucence.

These are the dimension of love that are difficult:
full commitment to the dive,
then changing your mind abruptly;
Kamikaze Logos - my inward thoughts
performing as a handsome aerialist.

We use science to understand the world,
but I am still an amateur
misidentifying my regrets as I sit
by the pool watching this bird
eat his breakfast.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Sangfroid

I want to lie on my back in 
the April night and see the stars
without an orange-pink street lamp
blinding my purview.  So, tonight I will wait until
4:00 AM to speak to the sibylline sky, telling
her my regrets as a man, asking for
forgiveness:


self-possession;
impermeability and water-tight protection for my sins.
The  cool, black breeze of the morning
washes over my body, lying there on the
capstones, I vacillate silently,
a fire in my head, an ember of hope
in my heart:

I want to kiss the
silver apples of the moon and awaken
to the golden apples of a new sun. 
 
 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

I Hear America Crying

I hear America crying, the multitude sobs and sighs I hear,
Those of mothers, each one crying hers as they should be,
The child crying hers as she is called inside before dusk,
The father crying his as he makes ready for work, hoping he returns,
The student crying foul at the misogynist comment made by
his professor during a lecture,
The immigrant crying as he sits with his family fearing the
knock at the door,
The lawyer's song, the 25th Amendment rolling around his
head and off his lips,
The angry sobs of the mother, or of the sister, or of the
grandmother, or of the aunt -- all singing their laments together
for those lost lives: stolen from them instead of protected;
Each crying what belongs to them (undeserved and forced) and
to none else,
The day what belongs to this 4th of July -- at night the party of young
fellows, somber and scared,
Crying with open mouths their strong fight-song:

knowing where wheels and people are,
knowing where cops and traps are,
knowing where deaths are, where the kind kills are.

Converting all sounds of woe
into fine fury.


Monday, July 03, 2017

Click here to unsubscribe

Every summer I begin the process
of unsubscribing from mailing lists
I either don't read, or I forgot I joined.

And so begins my process:
click here to unsubscribe
looking for the fine print;

becoming lonely.


See, an inbox of 25 new emails
(3 of which are important)
makes me feel connected and important.
I delete them
because I can.

Slowly, by the end of the summer,
I open my email to discover
I have 0 unread messages;
No responsibilities:

just my pen and paper
and thoughts.
See, I want to remember

what it was like before
the clicks and retweets

and empty importance.

click here to unsubscribe

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Summertime

He collapses in the grass:
the shade of a baby tree
not tall enough to provide anything.

Every so often, he turns and
looks at me: ten turns to two;
he seems so tall for a toddler.

The neighborhood boys stand sentry
discussing summertime,
passing around a water bottle

flipping it to stand on
it's own.
How proud they look

standing and loitering on their own.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Get busy and do some actual writing!

Stephen King just told me to take the act of writing seriously, and he's right.  Perhaps that is my problem: I write as a distraction, but I don't get serious; I hold back, attempting to pen poetic phrases instead of just saying "Fuck it!  I'm lost and pissed off."  Some of my best writing (at least the prose I enjoyed writing, where I felt I actually said something) came from those times when I sat down with a strong purpose and something to say.  Lately, I have been floating around a bit, reading book after book after blog post after Twitter feed after poem after poem after poem, looking for something to grab my attention and say, "Adrian, this is important!  Write about this.  Tell us now!"

Stephen King is right: I know what to say (if not exactly)l I just need to sit down and write!  My creativity isn't dead or hibernating or too ill to get out of bed.  It is just waiting for me to get busy and do some actual writing.

"If you can take it seriously, we can do business.


I know that I can take writing seriously.  I don't need a publisher, an agent, or a book deal.  I just need my pen and the balls to write down what I actually think.  I still have stuff to say.


Song of Myself #20

--Walt Whitman


Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; 
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? 

What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you? 

All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own, 
Else it were time lost listening to me. 

I do not snivel that snivel the world over, 
That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth. 

Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, conformity goes to the fourth-remov’d, 
I wear my hat as I please indoors or out. 

Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious? 

Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel’d with doctors and calculated close, 
I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones. 

In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less, 
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them. 

I know I am solid and sound, 
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow, 
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means. 

I know I am deathless, 
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter’s compass, 
I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night. 

I know I am august, 
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood, 
I see that the elementary laws never apologize, 
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.) 

I exist as I am, that is enough, 
If no other in the world be aware I sit content, 
And if each and all be aware I sit content. 

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself, 
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years, 
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait. 

My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite, 
I laugh at what you call dissolution, 
And I know the amplitude of time. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Whiskey

I need some comfort tonight.  I pour whiskey
over ice, just submerging the frozen blocks.
I take a sip and the novelty burns
slowly down by throat.  I turn the page.
I read, reread my favorite poetry:
Digging, Death of a Naturalist, Follower;
I take a drink.
It burns less as I read Personal Helicon and Antaeus.
A 1966 comfort
against the heavy Irish rain and smell of potato mold.

I turn to Whitman with my next sip:
larger this time with shards of ice sliding down my throat.

"of all the earth her heart most full of sorrow because most full of love."
Last night I cried with no one to kiss away my tears.

I take another sip and flip through
Leaves of Grass until I come to an old,
folded paper; names of former students:
Tatum with Dylan
Alyssa with Eli
Why did I put Joey with Amy?
Why is this memory lost, stuck between
Song of Myself versus 6 and 7?

"What is the grass?"
I take a final sip, smell warm dead grass
handfuls pressed underneath my nose.  I inhale
deeply and close my eyes.  This is my song;
my comfort.  This is myself I sing, interrupting
myself to ponder in silence.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Petrichor

She smells of the sun
and sounds like summer sun
showers smashing into dry, dusty asphalt.

She bursts into rooms like fizzes of
aromatic aerosols, telling me, asking me,
showing me; creating memories she can draw from
when reading a beach novel, warm sand
heating her towel and she can't quite put her finger
on it: palpabilis.
Or when she touches an unknown word.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Death

The way you describe Death
in that last poem
as a mysterious traveler
with no sense of direction,
counters everything I've ever thought
about the subject.

Perhaps the death of my Grandfather,
sudden and shocking,
or all of my childhood pets
playing now, on a giant open farm
near the moors of the Yorkshire countryside
as I was told:
they all go once Death meets them.

Most likely, though,
my mother's death
solidified the concept for me.
Her beautiful, bountiful, golden curls,
bouncing from her shoulders
like one of Charlie's Angels
as she walked hand in hand with Death
one afternoon down Hermosa Beach.

You see, to me, Death is lonely
and needs such company.
Death is an animal lover
and enjoys watching fields of dogs,
guinea pigs, birds, cats, mice, and still others
frolicking together.

Death needs grandfathers to teach
how to fish, hunt, and put together
a bicycle chain.

Death needs grandmothers to care,
filling their little farmhouse
with smells of German food,
baked breads, sweet rolls:
warm smells.

But, most importantly, Death needs
a beautiful companion,
such as my Mom,
to warm the bed on those
deathly cold, November nights.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Aubade

I will think of you
alone in your study
4:00 AM blinking on the plastic face of the clock,

or perhaps you have an old grandfather clock:
long chains attached to circular disks,
slowly ticking the moments.

I will think of you
awaiting the first bird to deliver his call,
those 3 notes.

I will think of you
while I am putting on my socks,
lacing up my running shoes,
fighting my inner daemons of laziness,
plugging in my iPod,
putting in my earbuds,

awaiting aubade.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Perdita

I'm holding her hand, tighter than I realize,
as we serpentine through the crowd,
when I realize that I'm lost.
I know where I'm walking, the benefit
of living in a decade where I am always the
center of every digital map; watching my haloed
triangle, stylized for effect, gliding toward
that red, inverted-drop-shaped destination

Omnia perdita sunt.

I'm disregulated, close my eyes
to oneiric images of my father
dragging me to the bathroom,
stripping off my clothes, yelling.
Hot tears dissolve in the steam-filled
shower, as I shit myself.
His breath spews forth like lava,
molten magma, scarring my body,
callousing my ten-year-old skin.

In extremis: my memory fades to black.

We've crossed the street, skipping across each
crosswalk stripe, arriving at the park.
My son's run off ahead, fearless and rugged:
Appaloosas galloping in the still-warm dusk.
I hesitate before letting go of her hand,
quickly desperate to never let go of her hand.
We walk toward the swing-set.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Poems of Billy Collins

The Poems of Billy Collins--
I shouldn't be surprised
that I'm writing again.
It only takes about

half-a-dozen of your poems
to cause that itch,
forcing me to write again.

Do you use special ink?
Magical, mind-altering ink pens?
or are your books laced
with a drug that eliminates

even the most stubborn
writer's block?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Lost Ideas

I’ve had
more attempts of
poems
than poems.

I have sat,
pen in hand;
(actually,
open laptop,
white screen,
blinking cursor,
fingertips pressed lightly
on the keys,
almost feeling each letter)
to be more accurate.)

I almost hate
when an idea hits me,
square on the back
of my head,
like a hot slap,
after a sarcastic remark
to my father.
If I do not have
pen and paper,
computer and outlet,
the idea is lost.

So, I run
frantically
looking for
napkins,
tablecloths,
scraps of paper,
a pencil, pen, marker.
I would use a knife
and write in my own
blood,
if the idea was
that good.

Most of the time,
I wait,
looking over my shoulder,
for a periodic
slap,
that is a poem.




Monday, May 01, 2017

Jagged

The grey mist
swirls
around jagged and cracked rocks.
I’m staring out onto
an endless ocean:
“Am I alone?”

The glowing, grey dimness,
full of shadows,
approaches from the sea
like a messenger,
soaked with rain,
bearing ill news.

I hear the sound of waves
crashing on the rocks
below
my bare feet.
Cold, damp penetrates my skin
vibrating my bones.


The silence in the sky.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Decision

The boiling water,
fresh from the whistle,
splashes onto
the black, glass
stove-top,
and I wonder
if I need to slow down,
possibly read a book,
or just stare
into the cool evening
waiting for dusk
to whisper into my ear.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

So much depends

so much depends
on
a little boy
held in my arms,
so many hours to go
before he sleeps,

so many hours to go
before he sleeps.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Crepuscular Poem-ideas

I shall read poetry only in the morning,
writing some of my own thoughts as they pass
my way.  Plucking ideas out of the air;
motes back-scattering words in the opalescent window frame.

Poem-ideas always seem to change when seen
from different angles in fading dust-light.
What could be better than a dog, cuppa,
and the sunrise and the still of the house, and
the periodic hum of the refrigerator?

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Suburban Spring Evening

"Love is the last light spoken."

I'm either too tired or drunk
to continue reading poetry by the dying
Spring day light; waning
as evening approaches the gloaming
sun dims.

I can still see the blossoming
plum tree across the street, exploding
whites and dusky yellows iridescent
against drab background of model homes.

Listen.  The sun is setting in suburbia
and children are finishing their Sunday evening movies.  Listen.

I turn to poets' voices reading to me.

Dylan Thomas awakes me to the vivid 
and wild  barbaric nature of poetry (of words);
stirs me to the quick.

Robert Frost brings me down to the synecdoche
of poetry; the whole of his experiences
and his woods.  I prefer reading Frost while it storms outside,

horizontal rain obstructing my view of blossoming plum trees.

W.H. Auden elevates and stirs my imagination:
the pomp and circumstance and traditionalism.
Hearing his voice reciting villanelles
speaking to the importance of simplicity and a simpler era;
staves off chaos with reverence.

I shall learn my mother-tongue.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Father-stuff

Am I filled
with the same father-stuff:
coarse and cold
and hard?
If so,
let me rip
my seams,
tear out my insides,
drain all my blood
onto the floor,
until I am but
a shell.
Let me find some new father-stuff:
white, wispy, soft, solid
warm and close.


Will I love
my child
the way he loved me:
distant, cold and course,
task-oriented?
When I become
a father (my father?)
please let me
find some new father-stuff.

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 4, 2017: Thunder-snow 49 years later

for Martin


Thunder startles the sky
reminding me that you were shot today.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness."

Can thunder, lightning, tempestuous rain?

I've never seen snow fall after thunder
cracked the sky; shattered into a spiderweb
of fear and hate.  Thunder-snow?
Snow acting as an acoustic suppressor,
dampening my experience, telling it is close.
You were suppressed.  You were close to achieving
justice everywhere.  Thunder-snow.

Nothing is more dangerous than silence.

I can't see through the snow-rain.
I can't see where I'm going.
I listen and keep moving forward.
The earth grows loud.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Emerging Now


It has been one week since my last post and two weeks since my last posted poem.  I am emerging now from a deep study of sound and rhythm.  I have been binge-listening (following along faithfully) to the Caedmon recordings of Dylan Thomas's poetry.  I have always been mesmerized by his voice, such a booming baritone for such a shy poet.  I felt that I needed to listen to him in his entirety when I stumbled upon these albums.  How could I not peek in on the hunchback in the park as he eats bread from a newspaper?  How could I pass on the opportunity to tour Fern's Hill and Sir John's Hill?  I have never traveled to Wales, but I felt myself transported to Loughharne with each poem; especially "Poem on his Birthday" and "Poem in October."  The best part of these recordings is that they are the poems that Thomas wanted people to hear and read.  I have always been a Thomas fan; his language and metaphor exquisite!  But I wanted a deeper dive into his use of sound, alliteration, assonance, and consonance.  I mean, who else write and speaks lines like these?

"Man be my metaphor."
"Now I am a man no more no more"
"seesaw Sunday nights"
"midlife mourn"
"tumbledown tongue"

His poetry can quicken and slow down immediately with his tongue-twisting language! Thomas' use of the personification of time as an omnipresent, binding force is mesmerizing.

Read this from "Fern Hill":

"Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes"

and

"Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means"

When I sat in my chair these last weeks, listening to his roaring roll of a voice, I began to really understand the intentionality of language in poetry. Poets use words and language to discuss and interpret their thoughts and feelings and interactions with the world around them.  Poets, especially Dylan Thomas, choose words pack a powerful punch and crafts lines that could not be written in any other way.  For example,


"When black birds died like priests in the cloaked hedge row"

What an image!  So, I am emerging once again with a renewed reverence for the language and imagery that I use in my poetry.  Dylan Thomas loves and reveres language.  He "cared for the colours the words cast on [his] eyes (Thomas, 1951).  He knew that he "must live with [words] and in them, always: a "writer of words" (Thomas, 1951).  He played with language, dragging up images from the depths of his mind in order to see how they would look and sound on the paper.  Listening to his voice reminded me of his 'imaginative purpose, which is to write the best poem he can" (Thomas, 1951).

I enjoy poetry.  I enjoy reading and writing poetry.  I feel that I can communicate through poetry.  My hope for the rest of the poems I post here, is that you, too, will enjoy them, because that is all that matters.  I will work hard at crafting my images and alluding to other moments only when absolutely necessary.  I promise not to just throw in an obscure Greek or Biblical reference!  I will concentrate more on how my poetry sounds, as well as how it rests on the page.  I may not be able to write a successful villanelle, but I will write more and more and more!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

What's next?

It has been a week since my last Project: #UndiscoveredPoetry post.  I reflected on the process and took some time to figure out where to take this blog in the future.  April is #NationalPoetryMonth, which is always exciting.  When I was creating Project: Undiscovered Poetry, I purposely placed it in March so that I could give myself a nice head-start moving into April.  That is exactly what has happened!

Even though I have not posted any complete poems in the last week, that does not mean that I have not continued reading and writing poetry.  In fact, taking the pressure of posting every day has allowed me to go back to some of my favorite poets and spend more time diving into their work.  I am continuing to push myself to write every day, even if that means just journaling my thoughts, with the hope that I can mine through various entries for some precious poetry gold.  I am happy with a few images and ideas for poems that have come up in the last week.  So, what's next?

I would like to continue using this blog as a platform for improving my poetry.  Although I did not receive a huge amount of feedback, the feedback I did receive was valuable and I got better as a writer.  I wish we all had access to our own personal community of editors and copywriters and creative writing teachers; where we could workshop our writing from the comfort of our homes and coffee shops.  I think there is a need for this.  Sure, there are online writing courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that aspiring writers can sign up for.  Unfortunately, many cost money to enroll, and more often than not, we all cannot invest 20-30 hours per week for entire semester in order to learn all the ins and outs of creative writing.  Yes, that would be fantastic!  I love being a student, but when it comes to writing poetry, I love diving in to each other's work, making meaning, offering suggestions, and rewriting.  There is something satisfying about the creative writing workshop process that I would love to create here on this blog.

So, my plan is to continue posting poems that may or may not be finished.  I will continue to solicit feedback from anyone out there reading.  Please feel free to leave any comments that will move the poem forward.

I am going to continue researching the possibility of self-publishing a book of poetry, since that was the original endpoint for Project: #UndiscoveredPoetry.  I am not sure if that means using Amazon's self-publishing services, or possibly submitting some poems to journals and various writing contests. That is another world that I know very little about, so I will be taking some risks putting my poetry in front of specific editors.  We shall see...

In the meantime, thank you for all of your continued support and feedback.  I'd love to figure out a way that you can also share your undiscovered poetry with me and others in this budding community.  Perhaps you can start by leaving a poem in the comments section, asking for feedback?  I would love to read what you all have written, paying it forward for reading my poetry.  No matter what happens though, we all need to keep writing!  Write through the writer's block, even if it's crap, it is still writing and you are still improving as an writer.

I will be posting soon!

Adrian

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Project: Undiscovered, a Reflection

When I started this project, my goal was to self-publish 31 poems in one month.  I wanted to force myself to get my poetry out into the open.  I thought that National Poetry Month eve was the best time to launch my poetry, hopefully soliciting writing advice from all over the world.  It is now April 1 and I posted my 31st poem yesterday morning.

I did not receive the amount of writing advice that I was hoping for.  In fact, when one writes a poem and shows it to another person, there is a moment when you feel both confident in your words and completely terrified that you are an absolutely terrible writer.  It is an odd paradox.  By forcing myself to write an original poem each day, I concentrated these feelings, slowly building up a tolerance to my dependency on the outcome.  I started letting go.  Each day, I let another poem go, releasing it into the void and cosmos of the Internet.  Some days, I released a poem that I had been holding onto for many, many years.  Some days, I wrote feverishly and let the poem go quickly, almost throwing it out into the open.  At first, I cringed each time I clicked PUBLISH.  Then, I realized that it would be less painful to schedule the release of each poem, and just watch them go out on their own.  Each day, however, this project forced me to let go, and had the unintended consequence of completely letting go of my original goal: to publish.

I felt that the more feedback I received, the stronger the poems would become, and the better writer I would become.  However true that statement may be, I became a stronger writer by doing just that: writing.  I wrote every day this month.  One week into March, I began flipping through some of my favorite poets for inspiration: Whitman, Hughes, Yeats.  I pulled down some anthologies that I hadn't read in years, reacquainting myself with poets I hadn't read in years: William Stafford, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Robert Frost, Anne Sexton.  After two weeks, I began binge-reading poets that I needed to know more about: Seamus Heaney, W.H. Auden,Tennyson, Wordsworth, Robert Hayden, Mary Oliver again.  I began seeing old poems with fresh eyes, new meter, and even newer imagery.  Project: Undiscovered reawakened in me a creative side that I thought had either withered away, or never existed at all.  Don't you need to take creative writing classes from some of the best poets in the world in order to become a poet?  How lucky are Billy Collins' students or Rita Dove's graduates?  Robert Frost was friends with Ezra Pound, who helped him promote and publish his poetry!

So, I hid my poetry away because I did not have any fancy creative writing teaching, or famous poet friends who took a particular interest in my work.  With all of those insecure questions floating around in my head, I had forgotten that the strongest writing teacher I could find, or the best poetry course I could take were sitting on my bookshelves.  Mary Oliver taught me the importance of sound, line breaks, diction, tone and revision.  W.B. Yeats reminded me that poetry can be startling and vigorous and musical all at the same time.  W.H. Auden reminded me of the importance of both the urban and pastoral landscapes.  Seamus Heaney taught me that it is okay to take some risks with more metered verse, and to always write what you know. Robert Hayden taught me to honor language and to be laborious in revising and editing my work.

Project: Undiscovered may be over, but my journey is not.  I have more to read and write. My goal is to keep reading and writing poetry, posting poems on Undiscovered Poetry as often as I can.  I do want to eventually take those 31 poems and bound them in a book, but that isn't as important now as is used to be.  If you are just discovering this blog and this project, I hope you enjoy my poetry. Please feel free to comment and leave feedback on any poem.  I really do read the comments and make changes accordingly.  If you know of someone who may like reading some contemporary poetry, pass me along! In the end, I will still be writing, no matter who out there is reading.

Thank you to Nanci and Laura and Gwen for leaving a comment here and there!  I really appreciate your support.



Friday, March 31, 2017

undiscovered

In your hands you are reading a poem
that no one has read before.  I wrote
it for you, to be given at the right moment.

In your hands you are reading poetry
that belongs to you.  I wrote them for you
because I don't know what to do with them.
I kept them in a box, in journals and blogs,
for years because I was scared that you
wouldn't want them.  Scared that you already
had found a poem to read.
But, here it is; here they are.

I know that you miss your home:
the garden you started when it was just dead grass;
Median plants, your attempts to create
a forested mountain, rivaled that of
Nebuchadnezzar himself.
I want you to take this poem and plant it.
I want you to read this poem and let it grow,
Amytis, and let it surround you.
It is in your hands now, so that after
I am gone, these Babylonian gardens
will survive the earthquakes.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Anteros

Ebb and  flow throughout my short life!
Why must time be categorized,
organized,
led away
into our minds?
Are you and I not one

in the same day?
Do we not exist,
but for the love and beauty
of all things?

Are there not an finite amount of sunsets
(glories of life)
in the course of a day?
Can we not visualize our purpose unless
it has a deadline?

Closing my eyes,
the clock stops its tick-tocking;
the cars stop their honk-honking; but
my heart continues beat-beating.

In the darkness of my mind,
time is eternal, it is pure and is made
from my blood and tears.
Time does not exist

for every atom in my body
(My body, my soul
does not move back and forth.)
In sleep, all things are peaceful,
eternal,
pure.

In death,
the ebb and
ow will stop,
and all that will remain
is love
(a love for all things beautiful.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tea

The teabag bleeds into
the hot water,
slowly oozing its nectar,
like a deep, red wound,
red river (split in two),
darkening{becoming pungent.
Hot blood in my coffee cup,
just below boiling point.
Who has wounded you?
Are the ripe, red strawberries
in my cereal your brethren?
Bobbing up and down,
the blood continues
without cries of pain
or shock.
I feel sadistic,
watching my tea bleed,
waiting to drink from its cup
as though ritualistically sacrificing
the adored lamb, waiting for its mystic
blood to collect in some holy, tin cup.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jared

While balancing an orange on round Tupperware,
its lid blue, stained with red chili,
I think of Jared and how he still sucks his thumb.
He's nearly six

and once his lips pressed
around the knuckle, creating a tight seal,
he lapses into infantile reality.
It happens so easily,

how we can lapse into childhood or childlike states
of mind.  I wonder what he thinks of:
whether he was breast-fed or bottle-fed,
whether he nursed for long?

He's a stubborn, whiny child,
but so are most adults.
Where can you draw a line;
separate cognitions; mark the maturity levels?

As a teacher, I can't make
him stop.  I'm not behavioristic and
he is not a Pavlovian dog.
I wonder if he feels

his mother's breast
pressed up against his cheeks,
her hard nipple squeezed in his gums
providing him comfort, security, milk.

Or maybe he feels the rubber nipple,
soft and elastic, strangled by his gums
providing him comfort, security, grainy, sticky formula.
Maybe he doesn't think at all.

No matter;
for if I push my orange
it will fall and roll onto the floor.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Matera

Take me out of this moment,
this place in time, and
invite me to your home,
smooth and quiet.
We can take my boat and

float down this milky-white river
and pass the rows of yellow tulips.
I will speak to the raven
overhead and ask him to fi nd me.

Take me to your cobbled streets,
and show me wide buildings
crowding the shops. Let me

sit in the cool corner
under forgiving basil plants.
I want to smell of mint and basil,
so let me bathe in Romanesque sun.

I can feel us nearing
the bright, green clearing, malve growing in Santa Lucia;
smelling the stones
of the short, wide homes.
I can see the raven calling
and the rain falling.

I am here;
we are near;
I do not fear
anything.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nyx

Running toward the blackened horizon,
the sky is nice and big tonight.
I see shadowed mountains
wrapped in the space of the night.
I feel warm here;
waiting to envelop the night and hug the sky.
There are plenty of stars
shining on me,
so I extend my arms and reach outward
until the smell of the evening lingers on my
fingertips.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

On Death

Part I

I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind--and that of the minds who suffer the bereavement.
Dr Peabody--As I Lay Dying

eldest son

Son, she's dying..
Mom's dying.
I knew,
somehow.
The Stillness:
cold, quiet;
There is nothing,
and I felt it.
Moments before,
it was clear.
(The pounding, crashing sound
rips me from it…)
I knew,
somehow.

father

We're going to beat this thing.
I don't fail.
I cannot fail.
I'm not going to lose;
I can fix this thing.
You gotta be smarter than the…the…
renal cell carcinoma.


eldest son

Months before
Weeks before
Days before
moments before
I knew.

youngest son

Mom's sick,
in bed
sick
smells funny
(I don't like her smell)
Does it hurt, Mom?
No, sweetie, I'm just tired.
Go to sleep, Mom.

eldest son

I fall to the ground;
my legs do not bend.
I crash;
my head
slams me down;
I cannot move.
Weeping, weeping, weeping:
no tears will fall.
I can't talk.
How long?
(The voice; sound
stabs me).
Six months…maybe less.
I'll drive down.
I'll see her.
I will stay with her.

Part II

It's because I'm alone. If I could just feel it, it would be different, because I would not be alone.
Dewey Dell--As I Lay Dying

middle son

I hate you!
I fucking HATE you!
How can you do this to me?
You've always hated me;
now you’re dying?
Fuck no!
Hell no!
I don't need you,
just go,
leave me alone.
Stupid bitch!
Goddamn you!
Goddamn it!
You never loved me,
liked me.
Just leave;
I don't need you.

father

You don't know; you fucking doctors
don't know crap…how to fix this!
We're going to beat this thing,
Toni.
Don't leave me
with these kids…
are my life.
This house is yours.
These kids are yours.
renal cell carcinoma
yours.
Mom's gonna be just fine.
Don't worry,
we're going to beat this thing.
Don't you damn doctors know
how to beat this thing?!
Worse?

youngest son

mom's breathing
breathing
the tubes are breathing
looks funny
(mom looks scary)
Mom, can I go to play?
Sure you can.

eldest son

How's she doing?
Ok…not good.
How long?
A month…maybe less.

middle son

I can't do it
not going
hate hospitals
NO GODDAMN IT!
not going
can't

father

I can't do it
anymore.
It's a poison:
toxic.
I can't do it
anymore.


eldest son

I got class:
school.
I can drive away,
cross the line
into
no death
no cancer
no.
I got class:
homework
a test
finals
I'll drive down this weekend.

youngest son

her hands are cold:
white
like bones
Mom, cover up with a blanket.
Mom is wet,
her forehead is wet.
Here's a towel, Mom.

eldest son

I'm tired,
waiting.
The painful lights
strike me down,
strike down my skin:
numb.
I'm tired,
numb,
waiting.
I've got school tomorrow.
This must be hard,
difficult
for Ellen.
I'm sorry, honey.
Sorry.
I love you, Mom.
Love you.

mother

I'm so ugly
feel sick.
I'm tired
of being
not ready.
Ed, be a good father:
be around.
Stop working so much
and be a father.
I'll take care of it;
my family is my life.
I'm sorry.
Eddie, you be a good boy
for your father, and
listen to your brothers,
especially Adrian.
Be a good boy
good boy,
Son.
I love you:
take care of my sons.
I love you,
you're my number one son.
Be a good son, Tyson,
for your father.
Don't cause trouble
Be a good son,
good son.
Tyson,
I love you.
I love you, too, Mom.
(I hate you)
I love you, Tyson.

eldest son

The stillness
remains behind
after we have left,
she's left
us.
There is nothing.
I notice the badly-decorated walls,
ugly,
so ugly.

father

I'm not ready yet, guys.
I can't do it.
I just feel close to her.
I can't.
It's only been a year,
give me more time.
I can't do it.
I'll take care of it.

middle son

Dear Mom,
I didn't want to
hate you.
Didn't want.
I miss you.
I love you,
always;
no matter
what was said,
you said.
I will love you.
I will miss you.


father

I just don't feel anything
for women.
nothing.
I'm just so depressed.
depression, depressed, depression.
sadness.
I'm just so down.
I can't imagine myself
with another woman.

Part III

I heard my mother is dead. I wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had. It is because the wild and outraged earth too soon too soon too soon. It's not that I wouldn't and will not it's that it is too soon too soon too soon.
Dewey Dell--As I Lay Dying

middle son

I'm just so depressed.
I'm just so down.
I wanted to be close
to know
you liked me.
I never felt, knew
before.
I know now.
I will love you.
I will miss you.


father

I miss your mother…so much.
depression
I'll take care of it.

eldest son

I knew,
somehow.
I knew there would be
nothing
within these walls,
this room:
cold, quiet.
I feel it
again…
moments before,
forever after.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Solemn Aspirations

solemn aspirations
dwell: statues
in thought.
The light is found
preserved
from centuries of
hate
patiently seeking
the meaning.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Theoritical Dream

it's gonna be
another late night:
sore feet,
sore back.
can't sleep:
a theoretical
$58 in my pocket.
6:28 PM:
no one here;
why am I?
10:55 PM:
fi ve minutes before closing;
no one is leaving.
11:55 PM:
still here,
waiting.
12:58 PM:
can't sleep,
Keane stuck in my brain,
with a theoretical
dream in my pocket.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dancin' a little

Pointin' my finger,
shakin' my hips
side to side.
Movin' to the music,
dancin' a little.
Snappin' my fingers,
feelin' the beat,
closin' my eyes
still shakin' my hips,
movin' a little.
Feelin' the room,
move as I move.
Feet are tappin'
dancin' a little.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Writer's Block

My mind is stuck
for lack of a better term.
The lights are on, but
the music has ended.
Writing is like listening to music
for the first time:
You close your eyes,
visualizing the notes;
You hum the rhythm
inside your heart.
Listening intently
looking for the right words,
for there are only right words
(no left words to listen for).
If you hear your music,
write it down.
If you cannot,
enjoy the silence.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Writer and the Poet

I must read poetry in silence,
enveloped in the quietude of myself
and the writer and the poet.

Whitman must be read outdoors;
Yeats should be read aloud.
I read Gluck on a sofa, under a comforter
with a cup of tea; alone with her words.

Poe must be read by candlelight
or flashlight, if you must.

I tend to read Baudelaire in coffee shop corners,
nervously glancing around to see if anyone
recognizes me,
or him.

I read Neruda in public, with coffee
(or in my case tea)
but with the intention of sharing lines
of verse, here and there, to strangers,
passersby.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Eulogy for my Father

This relationship is dead;
been dying for some time now,
a few words may be in order:

What happens when a father blocks his son,
his light begotten?
And the sun shifts, leaving me
alone in darkness?
Alone with poisonous nostalgia,
false memories of how things used to be.
I lost my umbrella years ago,
sank a foot deeper,
became a father myself,
perhaps my own father.
Am I robbed of a childhood?
When all I can remember is
thunder and rain and tears?

My sun shifted.
My light offensive to him.
He preferred solitude and shadows
And Fergus rules the shadows of the wood.
How can I inherit his sun,
when he buried himself alive,
clutching that orb of light
tightly to his chest?
Jedes Licht ist nicht die Sonne
And I will walk in my own light.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Song of Myself

Ah, Whitman!

The leaves of grass may be dead, yellow and brown,
covered with a littering of sharp pine needles,
but the ground is warm
and smells fresh and new.

I chose to sit in the shade, on this side of the tree
that slopes upward toward the concrete school.
I want to face downward, downhill, but I want to feel the strong,
rough bark of this tree hold me in the breeze.  I feel safer here,
so I try to avoid glancing at the school.

In order for you to understand,
I must look, but understand
I am doing this for you.

It's depressing, really, to see
the sun warm its cold, white walls.
The sun does not differentiate
between concrete and grass
(although it should).
It shines, warms every body,
tree, building, and child's head.

The juxtaposition of grass to concrete,
city to nature, warmth to cold,
is understood by us all.
Thoreau is not the only one
to notice the banks of Walden Pond.
Nor Whitman,
as he sat and cradled the leaves of grass
capturing their in nity
for us to understand.

The difference:
Thoreau, Whitman (and now myself, I suppose),
continue to notice and
continue to write.
But they are dead, you say,
They cannot write!
Ah! But they do, for
they write through me and in me,
and by me.

Thoreau: in every drop of water;
Whitman: in every leaf of grass.
They are still here, and so am I; glad I chose this side of the hill;
Glad I chose this pen,
and this day and this sun.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Laurel, MT

I. 
North side (NW end):
Driving into town,
past the tracks,
the smell of sulfur
hangs in the air.
Tall cigars,
stacked next to tall factories,
smoke themselves
into the sky.

II.
South side (SW end):
The train has left
its fingerprints
riding along the ground.
The train has circled
the lake
waiting for salmon to return.
Blue collars stay blue collars
in the Laurel working end.
Grandfathers take their grandsons
fishing in an empty lake.
If we could find one,
Grandma will fry it up
when we get home.

III.
East end:
Homes line the streets
separated by rocky alleys.
Alleys that connect the town
flowing through the homes.
These are the veins
of Laurel.

IV.
West end:
Tractor tires lay in
overgrown weeds.
Indentations mark a
faded diamond
where children still play
(as in 1953).
Saturday nights
we gather together
cheering Laurel's children.
No winners,
no losers,
just baseball.


Laurel sits in the middle,
beating life to its state.
Roads come and go,
but Laurel continues beating.
Early in the morning,
among the quiet trees,
you can hear it
if you close your eyes
and open your heart.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Emerson

Sitting before the fire,
not cold enough outside
to warrant one,
I am torn between two worlds:
Baudelaire's sad Paris,
changed and still changing
as he mopes up and down
Place du Carrousel
looking for signs of youth;
and my bouncing daughter:
pants too long, cuffs slipped over her tiny heels,
holding onto an overhead rail,
practicing her jump
over and over,
cooing and cooing,
laughing,
making happy noises.
Two worlds, a century-and-a-half apart,
a continent apart,
aren't that different.
Charles and I both long for an earlier time
when buildings and babies
were younger;
streets and siblings
were newer;
But what he and I don't realize,
is that if we just look upward,
toward the sun,
our objects of a affection,
and see beauty before us,
we will see
Paris.
Emerson.
Otherwise, we will continue
to walk,
head bowed,
missing life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Budding Persephone

The budding Persephone
drinks wine
surrounded by cypresses.
The crescent shadows

flowering from her
soft, olive hair,
cling at the earth.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

the forest

I am standing in a forest
Silence surrounds me
I am alone
I can see my family,
The ones I love,
But they cannot
See me
A stark realization blankets me:
I must leave them
I must turn around and leave
No good-byes
No last minute love to share
No time at all
I feel the force behind me
Pulling me toward it...
Toward the loneliness
I want to stay, but
Cannot
I want the warmth of life,
But I am cold
i am dead.
the forest becomes gray
the color of a storm
it is raining, but I cannot
feel
the rain on my skin
i am not wet
i am cold
water touches my cheek,
but it is only a tear
one tear:
shed for my life
shed for my love
shed for the warmth
i must go
to a place i do not know
i fear the unknown, but
most of all,
i fear leaving
I fear being alone.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Daydreams

My daydreams
had thorns on them,
and fade to the color of
boiling smoke.
Surrounded by the heavy blue scent
of my imagination,
I lose touch with reality,
become intoxicated.
Drunk with nostalgia,
I stammer to the open door,
ajar, and breathing with fresh air
from the outdoors.
I burst outside,
only to crash into a pile of dead leaves,
the colors of rust and butter. Again,
I am thrust into another childhood memory,
this one happier and healthier.
I cannot escape my memory,
and as this thought warms my face,
against the brisk October wind,
I fall into a deep, chaotic spasm of laughter.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Somnambulists

The somnambulists
walk slowly,
precisely,
through the stucco promenade
made from figures
in their
minds.
Each brick,
is a fantasy
linking dreams
and gravity
like the soft, pink
umbilical cord.
Their processions,
in the darkest
space
of their minds,
will surely end
with coming of
each day.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Poet Again

I want to be a
poet again.
Perhaps I never was
one, but
I want to bleed
my feelings.
I want my soul to grab
this pen from my hand.
Let me show you how to feel!
I want him to take over:
The Hopeless Romantic that
I used to be.
She love me more then,
or so I think.
She says she will always
love me, that man that I am,
but I could make her cry
once.
She would read, and my
words would blur in
the pools of her tears.
Was that me?
Am I lost?
I want to be a poet
again.
I want to write her,
and pour my feelings
over her.
She would drink them like
sweet water,
because
she is dying of thirst.
She needs the romance.
I need it, too.
I want to be a poet
again.
I never stopped loving
her,
feeling her.
I never stopped.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Under the Apple Tree

Under the apple tree,
the warm sun sets behind a purple horizon.
Patches of green grass
scratch our legs and
the knotted trunk itches my back.
We sit together.
80 years could pass,
all in one day,
and our love will be just as bright
as the sun that sets on
our lives together.
Under the apple tree,
we are at home
in our embrace,
and the apples ripen.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Late One Night

The real dream begins
when I exit the highway.
I pass reality by
and enter the mind
my heart created.
The music begins,
the blackness begins,
the road begins.


It is three a.m. and dark.
My eyes are heavy, but
I drive home.
I tuck half of my heart
into bed, and
begin to drive.


The radio is what keeps
me sane.
Life seems true, but
the road, the tires, the sleep,
all make me feel crazy;
This being the sanest I have
ever felt.
The music.
It is what keeps my reality
real.


The painted lines
appear and disappear.
Forty miles per hour seems slow.
I seem to be
floating through
a dream...my dream?
Am I awake?
Am I still driving?
I know I am driving because
it continues.
Every night it continues.


My car allows me to be
surreal.
My music is the link to
the reality in which I will awake.
Tomorrow will be another day.
Tomorrow will only come
if I make it home.
If I tuck the other half of my heart
into bed, and
begin to sleep,
dream.
Is this a dream?


I swerve and my body clenches.
My eyelids are heavy,
but my eyes are wide.
They stay open as I drive.
The night is black.
The lines are white.
Do I dream in color?
Do I see white lines and
a black night?
I see my marker.
My house will be approaching
soon on the right.
I turn o my engine.
I know I am awake now.
I thank her for gliding
home safely.
I sleep, and I dream.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

My Last Will and Testament

To Macbeth:
I leave my paranoia;
always tugging
at the hem of my slacks,
as I brush past
the puddling rain.


To Juliet:
I leave my romance,
my passion,
my name;
May you always
speak aloud
among the stars
and remember
how to love.


To Yeats:
I leave my manhood,
(my russet brow);
the shaved stuffings
creating my
pride,
insecurities,
hopes,
fears,
masculine gait,
and all other things
that dance upon the level shore
underneath the
disheveled
wandering stars.


To Mr. Holmes:
You shall receive...
(well, if you are reading this,
then you have already deduced
your inheritance).


To Dr. Watson:
I leave my desire
to capture greatness
with pen and paper
and an eye
toward truth.


To Superman:
I leave justice,
my strength,
heroism,
and a need
to do what is right.


To Mr. Collins:
I leave
my poetry
(you will know what to do).


To Mr. Hughes:
I leave the moon,
jazz beats,
hot, Harlem nights,
but most importantly,
my dreams.


To Mr. Whitman:
I leave,
myself,
body electric,
soul sewn into
rich earth;
scent of lilac;
hope for the future.
a belief in myself.


To Hamlet:
I leave my loneliness,
the indecision,
which plagued me
in life;
my cowardice,
my conscience.
I am off to the undiscovered country.


To My Beloved Children
(To be equally divided):
I leave it all:
Shakespeare,
Yeats,
Sherlock and Watson,
poetry,
leaves of grass,
Juliet and passionate love,
Langston Hughes,
Billy Collins,
and
Superman.

Listen to music;
dance,
be romantic,
brave,
unyielding in your beliefs.

Listen to your mother;
be kind,
funny,
and wiling to cry.
Take it all
and be you;
be wonderful;
just be.


To My Loving Wife:
What can I give?

There is one thing
left to give;
that, which you do not want:
change.
Remember me
young,
happy,
breathless,
utterly preposterous
and in love.

Sometimes it will feel like
you need to be two,
Don't--they already have me

inside.

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