Wednesday, October 27, 2010
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
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
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
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
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 22, 2010
You may close the mouth of an oven,
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
and the rains
we all know
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.
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
When asked what she did before
she had children.
She answered insightfully
I walked the world with closed eyes.
Friday, October 15, 2010
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
The Importance of Words
Buddha once said, Be
in this world,
Thus, I carry
in my pocket
in case I meet
instead of going around
I can go through.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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
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
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
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
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 sunlightand hope.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
. . . in trying to heal the wound that never heals,
lies the strangeness, the inventiveness of a man’s work
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.
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
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
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
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
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
on the windows
blurring the view outside.