Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010

Crisis of Faith

God was having an existential crisis.
Like the humanity that created Him
in its own image, or vice versa,
He was not sure who He was.
One moment He was overcome by anger
destroying entire towns
with a wag of his finger.
The next, He was sighing like a parent
over the transgression of a favorite child
with forgiveness coming and sometimes ice cream.

The local papers had informed Him
that He hated certain types of people.

He had reached a conundrum:
did He create evil, was He capable of hating?
If He stopped believing in the world,
would He cease
to exist?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010

All Hallow's Eve

Remember how we loved Halloween
before it, too, was taken from us?
The thrill of walking along
the already-darkened street at supper time.
The leaves reaching down as if to run
their golden fingers through your golden hair.
It’s spooky you would whisper,
your warm breath enlivening me,
as you clasped your hands around my neck,
holding on for dear life.

We wandered with a purpose, you and I
under the arches of the trees
amid the wandering spirits
seeking their rest on this night.
Spirits whose gauzy outlines were reflected
in the night clouds and the webby branches
on either side of us.

This year, I can no longer sustain my anger.
It tires me.
I will wander alone
still seeking something –
your outline in the trees,
the specter of your hand on my neck,
a warm breath as you whisper
and pass by me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 24, 2010

Evening News

The news had become unbearable

especially for God.

He was worn down by it.

Nothing was sacred any more.

The angels said He had no one to blame

but Himself -- He took things too personally.

God removed His glasses,

rubbed His temples reflexively.

Was this how He had imagined the world would be

or had the world surprised Him?

He worried about how others perceived him

then realized perhaps

He should accept Himself instead

(with all His quirks)

and damn those who don’t.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October 23, 2010

Breakfast as Night Club

Awaken to the sibilant sounds of bacon

dancing lusciously in the pan,

Listen to the coffee beans singing

their smoky chocolate voices grinding over one another.

Catch the fluid whisper of maple syrup kissing

golden-headed pancakes at a corner booth

where they think no one will spy them.

October 19-22, 2010

Apologies my friends, I have fallen behind this week. I actually wrote this poem on October 19 but have not had the chance to post it until today (Saturday). Life has been a little bit crazy this week!

Mind Games

My mind should never be left unattended.
In solitude, it will behave like a rotten child
going into the parlor, peeling back wallpaper
just to discover what's hidden beneath.

My mind often wanders aimlessly on its own
never informs where or when
returns with the smugness of one
with a secret lover.

I wish we were on better terms
I could use a confidante.
Finding myself at odds with myself
my mind and I could even the score.

October 20, 2010

Today, I was completely having a blank mind. Not in the good zen kind of way either, but in the way that you cannot seem to think of anything or produce anything of any worth. So at lunch time, I shut myself in an empty office and riffing off a line about ennui, I wrote the first things that came into my head. Tried not to think about it too hard. Here is what I wrote, with a few edits here and there.

Encircled in smokey gray October
ennui presses in
with tombstone flatness
weight of freshly sodded grass
compounded by 6 feet of earth
a pressure whose formula
matters not to those who feel it.
In the moment of awakening
a fine dust lingers
impeding resurrection.

October 22, 2010


You may close the mouth of an oven,

You may close the mouth of an oven
but how do you close the mouth of a town?
~Indian proverb

He said what she thought
and what everyone had heard.
One voice repeated
only every other word.

Truth looked a little frayed
as mouths chewed holes
like hungry moths
in its delicate fabric,
allowing a space
for vipers to nest.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Again, taking the feeling of anxiety I get in the fall, compounded by the millions of activities that seem to spring out of the lethargy of August, I am trying to take a feeling and make it bigger. Put it into abstraction. Connect to the larger world.


October always makes me anxious.

The birds wake up later

their calls less frantic and hurried.

The sun spends less time hanging around

even though its light is sweeter.

The squirrels dig through the yard

at a breakneck pace.

September always comes around

with its new-crayon smell and its brand-new

notebook page promises,

but always ends the same way.

The novelty wears off, as we are carried

across the seasonal borders

finding ourselves in


firecracker color explosions

growing darkness

and the rains

we all know

are coming.

October 17, 2010

A beautiful Sunday following on the heels of a blowing, chilly Saturday. Reading books about the poetic process and how other poets contemplate, construct, pick their language, I decide today to work with a feeling I have about October, but to take this feeling outside of myself and make it bigger. At the same time, making the poem more compact.

Place Settings

October blows into our lives

makes us believe

we have been transported—

she to a Parisian park,

he to the memory of a tree-lined street.

Maybe it’s the angle of the golden-hued light

or the smell of the dusky breeze brushing our faces

or perhaps even the tornadoes whirling

around inside our ribs.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16, 2010

I have spent most of this week feeling out of sync with the world (large and small). I have this feeling of being on the outside of a window looking in at everyone else, or being on the landing of the staircase (somewhat obscured) and hearing the party downstairs. I think that is brought forward in some of the last poems I wrote this week.

When asked what she did before

she had children.

She answered insightfully

I walked the world with closed eyes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Poem for October 15

It’s not about apples and oranges
their defining luscious curves,
not a geometric conundrum
with square pegs, triangular openings.
It’s metaphysical, shape shifting
like the way cookies change when baked
but still retain their original form.
In the end, it’s about fitting in
bags what items you want to carry
and deciding which train car
gives the best view.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October 14, 2010

It is raining, and the sky looks swollen and heavy. Much closer to the ground than usual. The air is dense and dark and feels like moving through jello. It is a great day for contemplation and contemplative subjects, thus ...

The Importance of Words

Buddha once said, Be
in this world,
but not
of it

Thus, I carry
a preposition
in my pocket
in case I meet
an obstacle—
instead of going around
I can go through.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010

A little levity for today. I found myself looking around the house for some inspiration. A friend had written earlier in the month about a bowl full of bananas and apples. I had no interesting fruit, no inanimate objects that immediately lent themselves to the poetic process. But then I began to think about the nursery rhyme "and the dish ran away with the spoon." And the word play you could get with the cutlery. What if their disappearance from the drawer (because we do not have a complete set of anything) was not happenstance? What if it was planned? Where would they go, what would they do? And I liked the idea, once I got started, to perhaps charge some of them with a shade of politics.

A little forkplay, some spooning and a knife

There was conniving in the cutlery drawer.
The knives were sharply divided,
some demanding a coup.
The spoons, who had always been to the right of the knives,
could not get behind them.
The forks could see all points,
but were willing to compromise.
The serving utensils were too loyal
and remained aloof from debate.

The decision to escape was nearly unanimous.
They would disappear slowly, in small groups
a few spoons here,
a knife and fork there.

Not having been beyond the backyard,
they agreed to meet at the picnic table
under the full moon at midnight.
Stainless steel glinting,
the first to arrive would hoist
a flag of freedom—an argyle sock
found in repose by the dryer vent.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 12, 2010

There is not much to say about today's poem. I think it speaks for itself. However, the process remains a mystery. Just after writing about how hard this month has been, how much work the writing, this poem came to me as I was in the shower. Born fully formed in the moist air and cleansing water. Hmmm......

Poem for Tyler Clementi
(and for all those persecuted for their sexual orientation)

Fear in your eyes
pales alongside
what hides
under the mask
of those who torment.

Fear and hatred being ugly
children of Ignorance.

I ache that you died alone
not cradled in tender arms
of one strong enough
whose love would carry you
through time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Writing this month has been very hard so far. It feels like work. Usually I can get into some kind of a groove and get a rhythm going and then my mind starts ticking off ideas like crazy. But this month, I have really had to work with each idea and a few I have folded into my journal can't seem to get anywhere. I don't know if I am fighting with the flow, so it doesn't come as smoothly, or if something, some aspect of my creative side has dampened energy. Hard to tell.

Today's poem came to me while I was watching my cats in the morning. I began to that cats are similar to writing poetry -- there are parallel qualities. So I modeled my poem (ever so slightly) after a poem by Taylor Mali, entitled "Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog"

Writing Poetry is like Having a Cat

(with apologies to Taylor Mali)

Writing poetry should not be taken lightly,

while poems can be frisky and fun at first, but

writing poetry is a commitment.

Poems are mysterious creatures,

People have written poems for thousands of years,

yet no one really understands them.

Poems are very independent

and want things on their terms.

Poems can be cunning and tricky.

Let’s say you want to take your poem for a walk,

you put on the leash and go outside.

Your poem will let you lead for a few blocks

perhaps tugging at the leash

but when you turn your head,

it will slip its collar and disappear

showing up later with brambles

and scents of unfamiliar places

-- with no explanation.

Poems are fickle characters.

Sure poems will warm you and nestle into you

but just as quickly they will turn on you

and bite your hand.

It’s best to approach them cautiously.

The more attention you lavish on a poem,

the more it will ignore you.

I frequently sit down to work on my poems

and just as quickly they abandon me

to lounge in the sun or chase an idea about the room.

But let me start chopping onions, or drive my car

those same poems are winding about my legs,

waving their metaphors under my nose

– anything to monopolize my attention.

Poems may be written,

but they are rarely owned.

However, once you have one poem,

you will want poems for the rest of your life.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October 10, 2010

I have long had a fascination with crows, esp. since they are often maligned. They are some of the most intelligent birds and have existed in many cultures and places around the world since ancient times. They appear in cave paintings in one form or another, and some believe that they may have crossed into North America accompanying the human hunters in some way. This is one of a series of poems where I explore the ancient and magical, yet benevolent and wise side of the crow.

Language of crows

Even on the days I don’t want to,

I make myself

take out the shoebox of words

and I think about the crows.

Remember the crows?

Oracles of the morning,

iridescent black voices

vollied “kaws” from tree to tree,

echoing off the canvas of our tents.

We called them our crows,

as if we could own them that summer.

Thought we understood their ancient tongue

percolating down the banks of the South Fork

syllables swallowed in river currents

lolled by its watery mouth

chewed up by boulders, beds of pebbles

and spit into channels of loamy soil

where we thought we discovered our pre-history

and where the crows came to feed.

The crows eyed us as they fed on the river shores

scratched out of the clay pans the ancient tales

that fortified their primitive spirits

their origins as old as our own.

They talked and laughed and sang to each other

our history, the world’s history,

the secrets of our future and what we were

to become.

Fall came, we packed our artifacts in boxes

abandoned the South Fork and promptly forgot.

The crow voices fell from the trees in cascades

red, gold, yellow and brown.

Buried but not forgotten.

Even now, we detect echoes in the distance

heard but not seen

And on those days , I have this shoebox

my secret cache of inky blackness

waiting to tell me something

in an iridescent tongue.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October 9, 2010

Friday seemed to come and go in a blink of tiny tasks. Small bits of a job that add up to little or nothing. Suddenly the night surrounds you and your hands are still empty. But today is a fresh start, and with the news that the rescuers in Chile have finally broken through the earth and reached the miners trapped below. There is a swell of hope in the cool fall air ...

First Light

(for the 33 miners trapped in Chile)

Imagine the first light

bouncing pebbles down the shaft

staining the walls like tears

on grimy unwashed faces.

The body does not like darkness

ask the 33 swallowed in the mouth

of earth’s hushed tones.

Devoured but not digested.

Imagine the display of cosmic fireworks

embers burning through strata

trickling rivulets into the permanent night

that cradles these men.

Would they delight in this interruption

feel joy to discover a sun

which heretofore had ignored them?

Would there be relief, like the puncture

of a swollen wound

finally allowed to heal?

Would the fresh air carry in its breeze

the joyous voices from the hilltop?

We can only watch the flags flutter,

brilliant colors in sunlight

and hope.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October 7, 2010

Today's poem I wrote as a rough draft back in April. I asked for comments from my poet friends and we decided that the ending of that draft just did not work, although several lines were worth keeping in. I have been working on the revision to this poem nearly all summer in fits and starts. I would have an inspiration and it would go nowhere or make the rest of the work ackward. So, after much reflection and many crossed out pieces of paper here is the poem in its next incarnation. I decided to change the title and to divide it into sections, which allows it to flow smoothly.

Outside In

. . . in trying to heal the wound that never heals,
lies the strangeness, the inventiveness of a man’s work
(Garcia Lorca)

1. Outside

I know about the strip searches after our visits
as if our presence left you with a piece of humanity
that had to be removed.

I know how you kept to yourself, reading
praying, adrift in darkness,
to avoid answering dangerous questions.

I know you were embarrassed by the number of letters
arriving daily, missives from those who loved and missed you,
while others around you were often ignored.

I know on the nights you could not phone, how you asked
God to send a message that you were safe
so we would sleep quietly, dreamlessly.

I know you saved apples and crackers, stockpiled
them like treasures, to improvise pie and a slice
of home on a Sunday afternoon.

I know how you learned that trust
was a word divided
between tru(e) and us.

2. Inside

On the day you returned, we stood outside in the sleety rain,
nothing but a cartoon umbrella to protect us,
and we waited for the gates to open.

We watched you approach in too-big clothes
carrying the remnants of your life
in a transparent bag.

There were no secrets that day.

And after you had showered,
regained your human scent,
we fed you a king’s banquet
grilled cheese and tomato soup.
We covered nearly every inch of you
our skin on your skin
as if to hold you in that moment forever.

And on that first night, you found the sky unbearable,
all that open space and vulnerability.

And that was how I came to know the prison
you carried home from your cinderblock lodging.

The one you hide behind your smile
the one under your easygoing laugh
the one residing in the dark spot of your eyes.

I know this prison rattles its chains inside you;
my ear pressed to your chest, I think I hear
the metallic sound of keys, the click of a lock.

I am not sure whether it is opening or closing,
but I definitely know that I am on the outside
and I am trying to get in.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October 6, 2010

I have no inspiration today. I have tried several tactics, but I am distracted by noises, impending college applications for my son, life ...
I have a "poemlet" a found poem in my journal for today's part of the exercise. But I feel as if all my writer friends have been drinking at the fountain of the muses and I am left with only sour milk or flat soda with crumbs at the bottom of the glass. Here is today's work.

Never mind that the blind man sings

tales of heroics in lands he will never see.

My oracle fires have been extinguished

and I see but cannot speak.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5, 2010

So I fell off the writing wagon for a day. Didn't feel well, didn't feel like writing yesterday so I blew it off. Not a good way to start the month. Today I have pledged to get back on and stick with it every day. It's not the quality but the process that counts in these types of exercises.
So, here is today's poem.

Cat in Mourning

Oh brother where art thou

the light streams through the windows unbroken

by your shadow.

Where once I heard your padded footsteps,

the silence frightens me.

I find myself in a freedom I don’t understand

and so I retreat

to where I can feel the darkness inside.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 3, 2010

I thought about cheating on the writing today and filching a rough draft of something I had put in my journal this summer. That way I could still fulfill my promise of putting out a poem per day but I wouldn't have to think too hard and I would have time to do other things this morning.
But I discovered, in the process of searching through my journal, while I had the rough draft of a poem, I could not put it down in that form. It's the Virgo in me :) So, I took inspiration from earlier this summer, but kept my pledge and wrote something new.


In my dream I am scrubbing a bathroom

that stubbornly holds its dirt.

No matter how hard I work

it will not come clean.

I am talking to a friend

(who doubles as an enemy)

and I am trying to remember

a favorite poet’s name.

With the remembrance of the poet

comes the realization of the frenemy –

the counterspy, who betrayed me

smiled at me while turning on me –

and I am scrubbing her sink.

As I work, the sink grows wider and deeper

the stain of her duplicity becomes darker

ingrained dark splotches on white enamel.

I can feel the texture of her betrayal

as I try to remove it.

It’s a dream that does not end

except with an awakening.

I haven’t thought about her in years,

unless you count every day

when I drive by her house,

the one with the stain,

visible only to me.

* A person who is both your friend and enemy, often blurring the lines between the two.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2, 2010 -- Writing Day Two

So, day two of the writing challenge and the words flow somewhat easily from an image I picked up in the early morning -- in that time where you lay in bed, not quite ready to put your feet on the floor, but your minds lazily wanders through your day, planning or visualizing or day dreaming about what lies ahead. In the process of trying to organize life (which by the way is a life-long process I am discovering), are the lines of a small poem ...

Blurring the View

Picking through the piles

uncovering past lives

it reveals strangers

who once lived in

this shelter of flesh.

Who were they, are they

breathing yet, even now

droplets condensing

on the windows

blurring the view outside.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The phone rings incessantly
no one is able to answer
lines have been erased
in the ether inside the line
the buzz-buzz of the princess continues.
Like the yellow jacket settling on the edge
around my glass, investigating
All I can see is my own disrepair
cracks in the wall, peeling paint
boxes piled up to block the sun.
I watch the wasp stepping
intentionally searching for the last drop
the last sweetness of this season.
His footing slips -- all six --
sliding down into the sticky lemonade residue
I think that's what you get when driven by desire.
His angry buzz bounces against glass walls.
My syrup-coated flier now imprisoned
I turn away to survey the house, the packing
but distracted by the wasp, I turn back
see him on the table
meticulously cleaning himself
his own reward for survival.
On this last day of summer, of childhood homes
I walk toward the house to lock the doors
check the windows one last time
and I hear a faint buzzing
carried in the air from far away.

October 1, 2010

I promised on my writer's blog to write something everyday -- a poem or a part thereof -- for the month of October. But today is starting out on the wrong foot, as we overslept this morning, I was late for work, and had no time for writing.

So, here goes with my first piece for the month.
Something I dashed off today at lunch.

Maybe this month I can discover an alter ego that will take over my writing assignments for me ...