Category Archives: SelectedPoems

Facing In

The fish in the closet
are wandering

Diamonds have become used to
force feeding

No wonder the stadiums
are turning inside out

I wish to learn how to swallow
this morning blindness

Late Winter

A late February snow has
the near world in its sequester

At Starbucks the barista imitates
a bird calling across the water

Gardenia

When the sky
opens beneath you

and you do not fall,
you hesitate to tell others.

What can you say?

The faint scent of gardenia
in the still air before nightfall.

Garden Bridge

Ivy grows up through the boards
of the garden bridge.

A rabbit runs across the bridge
and stops in front of me.

We stare at each other,
waiting to see who will move first.

The next morning I am not there
and the rabbit doesn’t stop.

Tickets to See Bob Dylan

Distant
pale Ginsberg
beacon

shaggy haired
owl
chant to us

of sweet
Melinda
in Juarez

and gravity
and negativity
and give us

a reason
to howl too
tonight

The Wind From the Sea


The sheer window curtain bellies like a pregnant Muslim woman in her dupatta, filling with secret life from beyond the horizon.

Fine incisions written as tatters say the sea has been restless for ages. The tea kettle outside the painting purrs today will start out calm.

It is enough to know these things without having to say them. Wyeth’s painting holds them before us.

Beyond the curtain is a road leading to the sea, to whales and fishermen with sore red hands. And to you, and to me.

———————————

*Wind From the Sea was first published in the Ekphrastic Review

Practicing

I tried untangling the drawstrings
on the folding window blinds–
someone left them tied in impossible knots

I spent hours sorting the pieces
of the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
into piles of guitar fragments

Fender logo, fretboards and lots of
black background nothingness until slowly
an autographed Strat showed itself

all curlicued happy snarls
and whammy bar and sidemen
drunk but still wailing eyeing the blond

at the bar who would make the night in a Tupelo juke
less like a box of rusty car parts
and more like a savage night run across the delta

in a growly Mustang hand on a tan thigh
tongue in ear mistake worth making a thousand ways
all the pieces fitting together all the guitars friends

who forgave my decades absence
while I worked on drawstring knots
making a Tibetan mandala out of sand

again and again and again
on my knees in red robes
practicing breathing like I didn’t know how

Mount Stuart

(after Tu Mu)

high up the stony trail below
the hatchet-faced mountain

the bones of a horse
at sunset

Neruda on the Poet’s Pact

“Poetry is a deep inner calling in man; from it came liturgy, the psalms, and also the content of religions. The poet confronted nature’s phenomena and in the early ages called himself a priest, to safeguard his vocation. . . . Today’s social poet is still a member of the earliest order of priests. In the old days he made his pact with the darkness, and now he must interpret the light.”

–Pablo Neruda

A Distant Echo Before Nightfall

The prone Diogenes asks Alexander the Great
to move out of his sunlight, his testicles sagging
and visible, stained with last night’s glorious wine drunk.

As a bee dances first before it dies for its queen,
so the nuclear sunset looks glorious before it reaches you.

Alexander laughs and moves to one side.
An irradiated lily puts its blossoms away for a time
when the air is safe to perfume again.

Cold Snap

A frozen river
of low grinding sound

plays out across
the curry brown hills,

wandering like Orpheus.
Sunlight, shade, sunlight.

———–
Cold Snap was first published by One Sentence Poems.

Two Perverts of Piso

Catullus was a 6th century BC Roman poet who influenced everyone from Ovid and Virgil to Yeats and even J.K Rowling. For his many raw sexual references, he was the Bukowski of his time. This is my free translation of his poem #47.

——

Porcius and Socrates,
two perverts of Piso,
that scabby slum of the world,

does that horndog Priapus like you better
than my little Veranius and Fabullus?

Do you party like rock stars all day,
while my friends turn tricks on the street corner?

——-

Porci et Socration, duae sinistrae
Pisonis, scabies famesque mundi,
uos Veraniolo meo et Fabullo
uerpus praeposuit Priapus ille?
uos convivia lauta sumptuose
de die facitis mei sodales
quaerunt in trivio vocationes?

Hanford 1944

Hanford 1944 was published by Work Literary Magazine.

Grandchild

You came and the world got better.
You came and irony went away.
You came and icicles sang.
You came and walruses sat up straighter.
You came and church steeples tilted in to listen.
You came and sheets felt softer.
You came and a hundred projects felt less important.
You came and relatives who never speak
talked about little things with their knees close together.
You came and smiles came down off the upper shelf.
You came and the world breathed a little easier.

Wintering Over

(first published by the Rainbow Journal)

the Ridgefield refuge
has old oak trees

the way we
have relatives

gathered
in clans

& spending decades
not speaking

What Became the Bandersnatch?

“Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.”

—Lewis Carroll

By teas and seas and billowed charts
The beamish boy did sail about.
Exilerious did he lark
And wilder did he lout.

“Tis true, the ‘Wock, I did him slay!
His hide and hat I did procure
And Jubjub bird and Bandersnatch
Did also take the cure!”

A Bag of Words

“We tortured some folks”
–Barack Obama

Like flying birds
We snapped as twigs

Covering our own heads
With a bag of words

(A Bag of Words was first published by the New Verse News)

The Pleiades Below

A human heart pumps enough blood
over the course of a lifetime to fill a super tanker.

Say this heaving ship full of blood
hits a shoal and spills its precious cargo into the sea.

All the proud, anxious, willful hours
infused in an entire liquid lifetime
mix with the dreams of sea urchins
and manta rays become blinded by love incarnadine.

Above the waves a lighthouse casts it’s watery beam
on a little white clapboard Catholic church near the bay.

A priest bends over with an aching back to tie his shoes,
wondering–out of nowhere– if God gave sea creatures
a mining claim on the un-lived fossil bed lives of his believers.

An Ahab in Blood

“Captain Ahab stood upon his quarter-deck. There seemed no sign of common bodily illness about him, nor of the recovery from any. He looked like a man cut away from the stake, when the fire has over-runningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them…you saw a slender rod-like mark, lividly whitish, like a lightening strike in a tree.”  — Moby Dick

No thing in the flesh
burns more searingly
than this hatred.

It is a hotter fire,
a pain more cutting,
a sorrow more eviscerating–
this diamond pure
rancor and loathing.

And yet –and yet–
it can bring a Fletcher Christian
and his crew out of the maw
o Pitcairn island.

It seems nothing good
in this world
comes without alloy.

Everglade Days

The mangrove holds the ocean back,
but takes the sea into its nostrils.

Roots reflected in the water,
a spiny möbius
sipping the tea colored sea.

The night sky bends down under my kayak,
a man in a mosquito tent buffaloes all night next to me.

The prince of storms
is tuning up to the south

like a chorus in Aida
or Sikorsky helicopters shuffling cards.

Tomorrow my pea pod vessel
must bear the weight of my fears.