Poem Therapy at 7:01 A.M. - John Ashberry

Meaningful Love
John Ashbery

What the bad news was
became apparent too late
for us to do anything good about it.

I was offered no urgent dreaming,
didn't need a name or anything.
Everything was taken care of.

In the medium-size city of my awareness
voles are building colossi.
The blue room is over there.

He put out no feelers.
The day was all as one to him.
Some days he never leaves his room
and those are the best days,
by far.

There were morose gardens farther down the slope,
anthills that looked like they belonged there.
The sausages were undercooked,
the wine too cold, the bread molten.
Who said to bring sweaters?
The climate's not that dependable.

The Atlantic crawled slowly to the left
pinning a message on the unbound golden hair of sleeping maidens,
a ruse for next time,

where fire and water are rampant in the streets,
the gate closed—no visitors today
or any evident heartbeat.

I got rid of the book of fairy tales,
pawned my old car, bought a ticket to the funhouse,
found myself back here at six o'clock,
pondering "possible side effects."

There was no harm in loving then,
no certain good either. But love was loving servants
or bosses. No straight road issuing from it.
Leaves around the door are penciled losses.
Twenty years to fix it.
Asters bloom one way or another.

Love is a incongruous and curious state of being. Who really knows what meaningful love is? Each person has their own template, I suppose. As humans we yearn for it, find it, lose it, find it again, suffer for it, bludgeon ourselves and others over the head with it, nurse our broken hearts, try again, fail, fail, fail, and hate those who have found it. Hate them with a fierce Chuck Norris intensity.

But, what is meaningful love? We think we know what it is. Fairy-tale romance, obsessive love, mother love, religious fervor, self-sacrificing, unconditional, negating, all consuming passion. We read novels, tell ourselves and our kids fairytale stories and pretend they aren't part of our psychic DNA. We watch films that show us what love should be:, sweeping and all encompassing, with a ubiquitous violin score ratcheting up in the background.

Be honest, don't you put your love life on scale and weigh it against some novel, legend, fairytale, or film, or some couple that has "found it"? Of course, we all do, and of course, this ultimately leaves us feeling cheated because our significant other forgot our anniversary, or left the freaking toilet seat up, yet again!

Perhaps, love is like what Ekhart Tolle said in the first few pages of his latest book, something about Jesus commanding us to be as a flower. The natural world blooms and recreates itself regardless of the losses or harm it suffers. A flower blooms and that's enough. I think we'd all be much happier as flowers.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Thirty: Wish You Were Here

Poets & Writers challenge for todays is to transcribe a poem—one of your own from this month’s challenge or a poem that’s spoken to you sometime this month—onto a postcard. By the end of the day, slip that card into the mail to be delivered to a friend.

I think that in addition to transcribing one of my poems for a friend, I'll write a postcard poem.

Wish You Were Here

Dear Siobhan.,

I wish you were here beside me,
alternating between holding
your breath and screaming curses
into the swirling chaos. The sky
is a threatening lapis blue,
and the trees are bent in a sideways
prayer beneath the wind's finger.
You always loved to be scared,
always loved knowing that the whirlwind
was out on the horizon waiting for you,
sharpening its scythe on its leather strop.


30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-nine: Driving to Mercury

When I finally looked at the clock last night, it was midnight and too late to get my twenty-ninth poem in on time. If you've been reading this blog, you know I've written a poem every day,(well, except for that Oregon weekend where I posted three poems in advance). It appears I'm the kind of runner that runs strong the entire race until the finish line is in sight, then just peters out. Not that I'm a runner, but an apt analogy. Speaking of running, I used to run everywhere, compete and win races at elementary and middle school. I had dreams of becoming a track star, but my mother told me it wasn't "feminine", which I understand now meant independent, tomboy, perhaps alternative, oh my! Come to think of it, nothing I did was "feminine", even the church patriarch after he gave me a blessing, said it was a "man's blessing", but that's a story for another day. To be fair to all involved, this was right on the cusp of the equal rights movement, and the cultural paradigm shift, I mean, women could be ticketed for wearing slacks in public buildings. No kidding.

I wish I had continued running. I really miss those muscles.

Here's Poets & Writers prompt for yesterday's poetry challenge: Pause today and allow yourself at least fifteen uninterrupted minutes to write freely, using the first word or phrase that comes to mind to guide the entire exercise. If you come to a stopping point in the writing before time is up, revisit the initial word or words as you would a refrain.

Driving to Mercury

We shred ribbons of highway
stretching across the planet's surface
under the watchful eyes of the stars
the car's headlights illuminating our path

I am strapped into the driver seat
hands holding the steering wheel loosely
heading toward that dark horizon
pulled by its gleaming iron core

My dog is curled in the passenger seat
whimpering in his dreams
He is unaware the smallest planet
of the solar system
is expecting our arrival

I know we must hurry into the distance
to win the race with the swift
footed messenger's flight across the heavens
before he disappears
once again in the morning light

Poem Therapy at 10:54 P.M. - Jack Stewart

Keeping Track of My Genius
Jack Stewart

I sometimes find him in the attic,
lying on his side, contemplating
the insulation. Or just staring at

the beams, trying to get the measure
of force and distribution. He turns up a lot in the garage.

I know he loves me. But if I look
away for an instant, he's off,
and I worry that he won't come back

(or when he does he'll have no taste,
gone in for some fad I'll have to bear,
and every move he makes a test).

But usually he's charming,
following me to the cafe
and lying on the awning so carefully

as not to make it sag, only
casting a slight shadow on my table.
Of course I act as though I

haven't seen a thing. He only wants,
I think, to do what can't be done.
Why just yesterday, for instance,
I found him going through the public trash,
figuring how to fill a bottle
some angry drunk had smashed.

My genius has been wandering lost in the trees for a very long time. If you see her, please drop a few bread crumbs so she can find her way home. I really need her help with my novel.

I spent the last four and one half hours soldering, hammering, sanding, oxidizing, and it was a glorious time! My little finger is protesting right now, though. I've learned I have to be very careful of it when I'm working, since I still can't feel the outer side. The tip still can't bend on its own volition, but it's geting better. I think.

Jewelry Spring Trunk Show - May 1

The trunk show will feature sterling metalwork, gemstone jewelry & dyed silks.

The show is this Saturday - May, 1 from 12-5.

Come and enjoy!

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-eight: What Goes Around

Poets & Writers challenge for today is to choose a clichéd phrase ("fit as a fiddle," "think out of the box," "running on empty," etc.) and turn it around. Use the new meaning created by this reversal to fuel a poetic meditation.

I'll be working with either "have your cake and eat it too" or "what goes around comes around", but much later today.

What Goes Around

the burdens of the dead
float inside him
like a boat made of sharp bones

his own death is coming
a shadow out on the dark water

Poem Therapy at 11:18 P.M.- W. D. Snodgrass

April Inventory
W. D. Snodgrass

The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven’t learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.

The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.

The girls have grown so young by now
I have to nudge myself to stare.
This year they smile and mind me how
My teeth are falling with my hair.
In thirty years I may not get
Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.

The tenth time, just a year ago,
I made myself a little list
Of all the things I’d ought to know,
Then told my parents, analyst,
And everyone who’s trusted me
I’d be substantial, presently.

I haven’t read one book about
A book or memorized one plot.
Or found a mind I did not doubt.
I learned one date. And then forgot.
And one by one the solid scholars
Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.

And smile above their starchy collars.
I taught my classes Whitehead’s notions;
One lovely girl, a song of Mahler’s.
Lacking a source-book or promotions,
I showed one child the colors of
A luna moth and how to love.

I taught myself to name my name,
To bark back, loosen love and crying;
To ease my woman so she came,
To ease an old man who was dying.
I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.

I have not learned there is a lie
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;
That my equivocating eye
Loves only by my body’s hunger;
That I have forces, true to feel,
Or that the lovely world is real.

While scholars speak authority
And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,
My eyes in spectacles shall see
These trees procure and spend their leaves.
There is a value underneath
The gold and silver in my teeth.

Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,
We shall afford our costly seasons;
There is a gentleness survives
That will outspeak and has its reasons.
There is a loveliness exists,
Preserves us, not for specialists.

So the cliche that "April is the cruelest month" rings true for some, I suppose, but begs the question, which month is the kindest?

I like the idea of writing an inventory of each month, so I'll begin with May.

Only three more poems to write for my 30 Poems in 30 Days!

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-seven: Him

Today's Poets & Writers prompt is to write a poem to or about a person close to you using any of the senses except sight.

Hmmm... sound it is.



30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-six: Pernicious

The following is Poets & Writers poetry challenge for April 26:

Choose a word or phrase you find yourself saying often (e.g. like, totally, hate, really, kind of) and write a poem using it as much as possible, turning it over and over, repositioning it, extending it, playing with its uses and the parts of speech into which it can be shaped.

I love the words alchemy and peripatetic, but I'm really leaning to pernicious at this moment. I'll see if I can calm myself down. In any case, I'll be back in to write the poem later this evening. In the meantime why don't you try writing a poem based on a often-used word.

I was watching The United States of Tara, basically procrastinating writing this poem, when I got the idea to steal dialogue and switch it up a bit.


come inside my world
same pernicious time,tomorrow
pernicious you, pernicious me
pernited kismet, ying to my yang
a warning: this per-ni-ci-ous damage
does not hold together

well, well, well
do you understnd you are not
the boss of this perniciuos process?
really, well then, prepare to get pernicused

where do you think you are perning going?
the elements have conspired perniciously
can't you feel it?
the perny eye of the storm
is out there watching

what are you perning going to do about it?
this is the perniciousing real world
you have to be smart as pern
or the system will eat you
it's so perniciousing exhausting

it is about pernicious time to get out
of this perning basement
I'm running out of pernicioused things to say
for pern's sake, will you please start talking?

National Poetry Month - Poets and Writers Poetry Challenge

Bird Carrier limited edition 1/100 - Ildiko Muresan and Flavia Marele

I found this print over at etsy.com. Muresan and Marele are from Transylvania, Romania. If you've read my posts today, you know I'm on a "pernicious" rant, and although this artistic duo do not fit the description in any way, their geography does, due to its former citizen, Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, and role model for all vampires, emotional, financial, etc., the world over.

The Translyvania duo graduated from Art University in Cluj Napoca, Transylvania. You can find them at:


I wish I had found P & W's prompt list earlier for my 30 Poems in 30 Days poem writing mania: Poetry Challenge. Great ideas!

Poem Therapy at 9:05 A.M. - David Lunde

Selfish Rage No. 2 - Karen Elizabeth Baugess

Rage for Order
David Lunde

I guess you could call it
a sort of sympathetic magic.
How else to explain
this obsessive reorganizing
of my home, my books, my papers,
my poems, this housekeeping
of my hard drive and floppies,
all the deleting and casting away
of redundancy and obsolescence,
dead files and moved-on addresses
and the scrubbing, the constant
scrubbing and dusting and the howl
of the protesting vacuum
that struggles to inhale
at least the 70% of house-dust
that is dead human skin
some of which might be hers.

Pernicious is the exact word that came to mind early this morning. What am I referring to, well, sometimes you just have to tell a thing slant. And that's enough for me at this moment.

I think Hamlet said it best when cursing his mother and her lover:

O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

per·ni·cious   /pərˈnɪʃəs/ Show Spelled[per-nish-uhs] Show IPA
1.causing insidious harm or ruin; ruinous; injurious; hurtful: pernicious teachings; a pernicious lie.
2.deadly; fatal: a pernicious disease.
3.Obsolete. evil; wicked.

1515–25; < L perniciōsus ruinous, equiv. to pernici(ēs) ruin (per- per- + -nici-, comb. form of nex death, murder (s. nec-) + -iēs n. suffix) + -ōsus -ous from dictionary.com

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-five: Dear Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Tonight's challenge is from Poets & Writers 2009 poetry writing challenge. Last year on April 25 writers were to write a letter to a landscape or scene you pass through today. For example, “Dear Williamsburg Bridge..."

Dear Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

I have never been inside your basalt womb
never felt the Indian earth beneath my feet
I have only seen you in photographs
in which you are described as being near the old
caravan route linking northern cities
to ports on the west coast.
I have read that you are cut
from the Charanandri hills and are very old,
dating back to 600 A.D.
There are thirty-four of you,carved from the earth
for Jain, Hindu, or Buddhist observance.
Such a large family!
You must be proud of Ellora Cave 16,
the world's largest monolith
and axis between heaven and earth.
Neither the Greeks, Romans,
nor Egyptians can claim this honor.
So strong are you, that not even thirteenth
century muslims could damage you,
and they tried.
It is a delight to imagine that the caves,
Shiva and Parvati's Himilayan home
was coated with white
lime to resemble snow.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-four: Strip

Tonight I'm writing an erasure poem using The Christian Science Monitor's Erin Cunningham's article Gaza Strip moves to preserve its abundant ancient treasure. Erasure poems excise words from existing text to create an original poem.

Poets & Writers magazine issued a erasure poem challenge a few issues back in which they provided the text for the erasure exercise,(and a poetry challenge from 2009 that I will use for the remaining five days of National Poetry Month, and my 30 Poems in 30 Days poem writing mania).

Here's a erasure example from a very cool blog.

You might enjoy reading Travis Macdonald' O Mission Repo erasure poem that used The 911 Report as the text it erasured.

I'd suggest that you print out the text and work with a hard copy rather than scrolling up and down a zillion times with a digital text.


alabaster sprawl
ancient hoard
of rich
terror walled
to bronze
in the absence
of us

plundered black
of private
and remain
to put away

The Gaza Strip was conquered by empires that left behind fortresses, alabaster jewelry, and bronze weaponry. Now the impoverished Strip is trying to rein in the black market in ancient treasure and better preserve items often found by chance.Gaza City, Gaza Better known for its long-running conflict, the Gaza Strip also has a reputation as an archaeological treasure-trove.Iraq's antiquities garner international attention Iraq's urban sprawl, not looting, threatens Ninevah antiquities When laborers stumbled on an ancient hoard of 1,300 silver coins and the walls of a 3,300-year-old city in the southern town of Rafah in January, it was a fresh reminder that the tiny territory maintains a richpast.At least a dozen major empires have conquered this tiny territory – including the Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and British. They left behind everything from walled fortresses to alabaster jewelry to bronze weaponry.But in the absence of solid laws or regulations, relics from as early as the Bronze Age are happened upon mostly by chance, poorly kept, plundered, or sold on the black market."Gaza is very small geographically, but in terms of archaeology, it is very large," says the Hamas minister of tourism and antiquities, Mohammed al-Agha. "Gaza was at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, and there is a great accumulation of human civilization here. But we don't have our own specialists so we can't manage the sites professionally."Many of Gaza's artifacts, including 3,000-year-old anthropoid coffins, can be found at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, dug up by Israeli archaeologists during the country's 38-year occupation of Gaza. Other Gazan antiquities are as far-flung as Istanbul and the British Museum in London."Gaza was for centuries the primary trade outlet of the hinterland of Jordan and the greater Arabian Peninsula," says Salim al-Mubaid, a professor at Gaza's Islamic University. "The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Mamluks, and Ottomans all ruled us. There are secrets of history under every square meter."Until fairly recently, black market antiquities dealers say their business was nothing short of a free-for-all. Of some 25,000 gold and bronze coins discovered since 1990, for example, 14,000 were stolen and sold off, according to the antiquities ministry.Construction contractors like Jawhdat Khodary, who opened a privatemuseum in a beachfront space in 2008, would pay laborers and local fishermen for any artifacts they found, preserving at least 3,000 pieces."An ancient piece the size of a cellphone from the Pharaonic or Canaanite eras easily sells for $1 million on the black market," says Abu Ahmed, a dealer involved in the underground antiquity trade. "And I used to make a major deal every month."He says Israel's new travel restrictions through the Erez border crossing have hampered smuggling. But the market for relics in Israel, which he says is the biggest, is still there.Many Israelis consider the ancient region of Canaan, in which Gaza is believed to have been located, the precursor of the original land of Israel in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.But Hamas says it is making both the regulation and preservation of historical sites a priority. The tourism and antiquities ministry inaugurated in January an artifacts museum in Gaza City – in an Ottoman-era governor's residence – and took control of the Rafah coin find.Mr. Agha says the ministry also plans to cooperate with Gaza's Islamic University to expand courses on archaeology. Hamas hired a new guard for the remains of the 3rd-century monastery that Mr. Mubaid says is Gaza's most important site.But Mr. Khodary charges Hamas with censoring some of his finds. He claims Hamas asked him to put away tiny menorahs – and a small statue of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, whose gown was deemed too revealing.

Poem Therapy at 7:27 A.M. - Ray Gonzalez

This poem is from The Religion Of Hands: Prose Poems and Flash Fictions . I love the ominious tone, allusions to the body, the images of the desert, the cave, the earth openings, and especially the line, "forgive the birds for trapping themselves this far down."

Yes, each of us search out the cave in which to lose ourselves to the darkness at some point in our lives. And yes, we are to be forgiven for the traps we lay, perhaps even granted absolution.

And There Were Swallows
Ray Gonzalez

Tadpoles seeing the future for the first time, monuments against the tide when the bats flew in and out of Carlsbad Caverns, cycles of burned ghosts who fell into the secret caves in the late nineteenth century.

And there were swallows in the memory of lust, hundreds of them guarding the opening in the desert, shadows plunging below the waist to guess where the body begins, where the soul stops searching, darting wings captivated by the flame in the will where the wind becomes the sound inherited after stepping too far into the mind.

And there were swallows diving into the cave, unafraid of dropping scarves in their paths, the women who left them there wandering deeper into the caverns without kings or their husbands’ pyres lighting the way. Destiny oozed down the walls to forgive the birds for trapping themselves this far down.

And there were swallows coming up, abandoning the search for the soliloquy of dust, an absence of light giving them the urge to feed and rise, make way for the bats because there is no need to delight the mushrooms growing in the black cave—the path of terror ripening on dark shelves below the opening in the earth where the swallows were landing, where the swallows were still.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-three: Karma Will Cut You to Ribbons

Have Your Cake Distressed Red - SweetDee on etsy.com

I love the phrasing of this poster. The word "will" changes the emphasis from having a devil may care I'll do as I please and what are you going to do about it? attitude to the devil's gonna get ya and get ya good. SweetDee's poster makes me feel much, much better about things. Seriously. Just the thought of those particular cake--eaters getting theirs, well, my heart rate zens out.

Karma, what goes around, comes around, is the springboard for today's poem. I've posted basic information about karma from wiki. I really don't know where this poem will go. It may be about the law of returns, what you sow, you reap, or perhaps about a woman named Karma. I'll see.

Even though I always try to make meaning from every situation, I'm leaning more to the randomness of life, in case you're wondering if I'm a believer in karma. I do believe in actions equals consequences, except that there are a lot of people out there whose egregious behavior goes unpunished. What's up with that? I suppose bad behavior is in the eye of the beholder. What I know from the list of how karma is produced is that I better clean up the invective and mafiaoso-speak while I'm driving. And I need to stop with the snarkiness.

"We are the heirs of our own actions." Buddha

Karma is not fate, for humans act with free will creating their own destiny. According to the Vedas, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate response.

According to Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, we produce Karma in four ways:

through thoughts
through words
through actions that we perform ourselves
through actions others do under our instructions - from wikipedia

Karma Will Cut You to Ribbons

go back to that sightless fish swimming
inside the cave of the body
toward the dark-haired girl
her virgin skin shimmering
in the kitchen's ambient moonlight
metal ringing in her ears
knives falling from the rocking table
like reverberating echoes pinging
through the cave's recessess
to the waxed linoleum floor

go back to the girl looking to the doorway
her shadow self standing at the threshold
a slow hiss lifting in her coiling tresses

30 Poem in 30 Days - Twenty-two: Horoscope

On the way to work today a rat ran across the street in front of my car. It was raining so I slowed down to make certain it was a rat. It was. I thought "what does this portend for the day?" then just as quickly, forgot the question, until I was trying to figure out what to write for tonight's poem, and my thoughts returned to rodents, and also, symbolism and mythology.

It turned out that it was a "rat" kind of day, lots of unpleasantness and petty annoyances. A literal portent. But, according to Indian mythology, Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, rides on a rat, so, silver lining, and all that.

I decided to write a poem inpired by horoscopes. Everyday when I open my computer, or read the news, I read my horoscope. It's usually random, but today's was a little eerie, which must mean I want to believe it, or I've made the prognostications conform to the events of my day. All of this lead to writing a horoscope poem.


A problem you have been avoiding since the day
you were born, will resurface today. It is the residue
of a past life. You have a restless spirit which twists
inside your skin like a snake. The planets have aligned
themselves against you and will continue until the Saturn
Uranus opposition has run its course. Do not attempt to exchange
the cards you have been dealt today, as this will only foster
disappointment and despair. Your deepest desire
is to run blindly into battle, armed only with the sharp
elbow of your erection. A lightening strike of clarity
will reveal the truth of your current situation. There
is a tendency to yield to nostalgia, dwelling on the past
when you clothed yourself in the blood of the living
and the dead. Focus on the present.

Poem Therapy at 12:52 P.M. - Gary Soto


This is my dog, Harley. He's supposed to be my husband's dog, but in our pack, I'm alpha. We got him when he was only 4 pounds. That first night he slept on my chest, his nose in my neck. I carried him around the house for the first two week like a newborn. It's really true that animals own us, not the other way around.

Nelson, My Dog
Gary Soto

Like the cat he scratches the flea camping in fur.
Unlike the cat he delights in water up to his ears.
He frolics. He catches a crooked stick –
On his back he naps with legs straight up in the air.
Nelson shudders awake. He responds to love
From head to tail. In happiness
His front legs march in place
And his back legs spark when they push off.
On a leash he knows his geography.
For your sake he looks both ways before crossing,
He sniffs at the sight of a poodle trimmed like a hedge,
And he trots the street with you second in command.
In the park, he ponders a squirrel attached to a tree
And he shovels a paper cup on his nose.
He sweeps after himself with his tail,
And there is no hand that doesn't deserve a lick.
Note this now, my friends:
Nelson can account the heritage of heroic dogs:
One, canines lead the blind,
Two, they enter fire to rescue the child and the child's toy,
Three, they swim for the drowning,
Four, they spring at the thief,
Five, they paddle ponds for the ball that got away,
Six, for the elderly they walk side by side to the very end,
Seven, they search for bones but stop when called,
Eight, they bring mud to all parties,
Nine, they poke among the ruins of a burnt house,
Ten, they forgive what you dish out on a plate.

Nelson is a companion, this much we know,
And if he were a movie star, he would do his own stunts –
O, how he would fly, climb the pant legs of a scoundrel
And stand tall rafting on white-water rivers!
He has befriended the kingdom of animals:
He once ran with wolves but admittedly not very far,
He stepped two paces into a cave and peeked at the bear,
He sheltered a kitten,
He righted the turtle pedaling its stumps on its back,
Under the wheeling stars he caravanned with the mule,
He steered sheep over a hill,
He wisely let the skunk pass,
He growled at the long-bearded miser,
He joined ducks quacking with laughter,
Once he leaped at a pheasant but later whined from guilt.

Nelson's black nose is a compass in the wilds.
He knows nature. He has spied spires of summer smoke,
He circled cold campfires,
He howled at a gopher and scratched at the moon,
He doctored his wounds with his tongue,
He has pawed a star of blood left in snow.
He regards the fireplace, the embers like blinking cats,
This too we know about Nelson.
True, he is sometimes tied to parking meters
And sometimes wears the cone of shame from the vet's office.
But again, he is happiness.
He presents his belly for a friendly scratch.
If you call him, he will drop his tennis ball,
Look up, and come running,
This muddy friend for life. When you bring your nose
To his nose for something like a kiss,
You can find yourself in his eyes.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty-one: Denied

The inspiration for this poem is taken from the events of the day, actually one event. I've been in a snit since I received the news. This poem goes out to a certain entity.

I grabbed the closest book next to the bed and started pointing and culling words for each declaration of denial. This exercise did lighten my mood, a little.


no ghetto thoughts
no dinky leaves
no cicada revelation
no grass soul
no disappearance lines
no designated burst
no sabotage minnows
no archbishop stage
no mayonaisse violence
no mob hiccoughs
no ruinous water
no milk darkness
no myopic thorns
no blurred celebrations
no bottom glow
no fleecy dimensions
no syrup sails
no nameless before
no thirst nightmare
no kisses counsel
no jelly history
no statutory laughter
no straw knees
no doormat solitude
no corn sun
no mercury vixen
no composite mania
no gulping year
no dead book
no forest miracle
no poison heart
no April basilca
no intonation pyramid
no pantyhose anger
no indifferent luminescences
no melancholic sky
no flagpole shimmer
no doll transgressions
no phosphorescent coil
no throat invasions
no butterfly nonchalance
no moth constellations
no tunnel goodbye
no memory moon
no desert orgasm
no garden rippling
no homeostatic church
no wind stanzas
no cigarette theology
no blue sobbing
no hawthorn squall
no pixel cardinals
no prophylactic theories
no lavendar sneeze
no quilt tenements
no dream opera
no gobbet throbbing
no virgin interference
no money avatar
no twig philosophers
no smoke eternity

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twenty: Autobiography

The prompt for today's poem is to take a moment from your life, or an imagined life, and recreate it in rich sensory detail and imagery.


in the crook
of the

Hard bark

Sky the color
of a fresh

Geese honking
overhead were

Sent to tell
me I
my own

I was the
of a great

A captain
of the roiling

Life was
so much bigger

So much

30 Poems in 30 Days - Nineteen: The Oven

The idea for today's poem is an adaptation of a fairytale. I chose the original version of Hansel & Gretel, pre-stepmother.

The Oven

mother at the sink cutting
strawberries,red juice
bleeding down white cupboards
her husband's children
fraternal twinned red-haired
girl and boy enter the house
grab handfuls of quartered
the bowl while mother is bent
over her oven
blood-red juice stain their child hands
out, out, to the forest with you, pick,
mother says, handing each a small pail

menacing trees crowd
the bread strewn path
a bend reveals a confection-laden cabin
the hungry children eat without permission

an old woman burdened with greetings
and gifts appears
eat, eat, come inside, eat more
she says, handing each a porcelain dish

inside, a cage, a lock, an oven

30 Poems in 30 Days - Eighteen: Tinkerbell's Advice

This poem is from a writing exercise I did way back in '02 in which we were to access and write from the shadow side of your personality. I remember I was in a dark bent of mind and was certain Kali or Medusa would appear, but no. Tinkerbell came flittling in. She appeared as a tiny magical fairy dusting the sky silver with her magical wand. She wore a gown of white feathers. In my version of Tinkerbell, she sleeps in a wooden shoe that is balanced on a precariously pointed mountain, but she doesn't worry. The shoe rocks her to sleep. She told me it was time to "lighten up!"

Tinkerbell's Advice


Put a brisket in the fire
let it spin in upmost dire
oh, you thought this poem would rhyme
now you know the words are mine
you are so attached to sorrow
you don't think of crims and torrow
yes, I know I've made it up
listen to the tripe you sup
you can't weep the days away
you must choose the way to fly
no one knows your deepest wish
no, not even you to keep
all is sky and cloud and wish
take the leap
it's only air

30 Poems in 30 Days - Seventeen: Ghost Birds

Ghost Birds

spirits live among us
secreting in cupboards
and closets
behind half open doors
they waft through air
like spent skin
gusts of exhaled breath
sighs of sorrow and regret
so it is,
so it is and always.

winged spirit
released from the flesh
of this body
grow into forgiveness
in the skin of another body

gone like a cipher
a small glittering
behind the retina
a pulsing
then silence
vast and empty
like the womb

a broken vessel
shards crumbled to dust

cigarette ash colored sky
seraphs circle close
quick footsteps behind
and all around
a voice from the closet whispering

30 Poems in 30 Days - Sixteen: Secret Crow

I'm cheating a little by posting sixteen - eighteen early. I won't be near a computer the next three days, and I don't want to break my streak, so I'm posting these poems early. I will confess that I wrote them earlier, in some cases, years. But, I will be writing longhand while I'm away from my computers.

Secret Crow

One crow
at sunrise
circling like regret
or memory weaving
in and out of itself
and disremembering
sluicing the silence of clouds

Nine crows
at midmorning
shadows flitting
wings dark secrets hovering
on the periphery
throaty caws croaking
we know, we know, we know

A solitary crow
at midafternoon
diving and pitching
black wings transformed white
a winged spirit homeward bound

30 Poems in 30 Days - Fifteen: Shekel of Tyre

Shekel of Tyre

I had to post the image of a shekel. Old coins, graven images, are so cool!

Toni William's commodity poetry exercise at The Guardian served as inspiration for poem fifteen. The assignment is to chose something, anything that can be bought or sold.

I searched around on google trying to land on a subject that would be of interest and finally narrowed the search to ancient coins, specifically, the shekel. The shekel of Tyre was common and it is the coin that Judas would have received to betray Christ.

I've collected coins since I was a kid. About twenty years ago I found an advertisement in a coin magazine, 30 lbs for 30 Dollars! I ordered the bag of coins and there were coins from all over the world, a few of historic value.

Shekel of Tyre

looking at a dead man's mouth,
what is the use of god
or money unspent?

give me hunger,
greed to be alive

give me silver,
the betrayer's coin,
holy and invoilable,
coin enough for a slave
or a life

30 Poems in 30 Days - Fourteen: Penance

This poem's inspiration is a line from a film I watched on HBO.


You pay for the silence. from Elegy

the space
each word
stalactite sharp,
a jagged
anthracite hue

accreting drop
by drop

30 Poems in 30 Days - Thirteen: Famous Last Words

The idea for this prose poem is pairing fictional and creative nonfiction vignettes with famous last words.

Famous Last Words

My fortieth birthday I decided to leave my husband. I have made that same decision every year since. Lying to yourself is a kind of dying. Am I dying or is this my birthday? Lady Nancy Astor. As a child, I stood in the crook of an oak tree and imagined it was a ship, and I the serious and grim captain steering it to far off lands. Oh, you young people act like old men. You have no fun. Josephine Baker. I was twenty-four and living in a squalid apartments with my first husband, when I realized I would never be a great artist. I gathered all my self-portraits and threw them in the dumpster. Later that day, after returning from work, I found them lined up on the parking terrace. Our resident dumpster diver sat beside them. He gave me a thumbs up. I went in the apartment, returned with a knife and shredded them, threw them back into the dumpster, got in my car and drove away. I was lucky a policeman didn't pull me over for speeding. I would have had a hard time explaining the butcher knife. I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have. Leonardo da Vinci. My first husband used to tell me in great detail the ways in which he could kill me. He made an attempt. Turns out he was all talk. I have not told half of what I saw. Marco Polo. It's surprising just how frail and temporal this life is and how quickly the body cools when the spirit takes flight. Codeine . . . bourbon. Tallulah Bankhead. I'm no good at endings. I don't know how to leave. I don't know how to say goodbye. I've thought of leaving a note, perhaps calling from a pay phone, but there aren't any pay phones left in town. Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something. Pancho Villa. My first husband used to cry out in his sleep like a wounded animal. Strange thing is, so does my second husband. Perhaps the reason I married both men was that I was attracted to their pain. Josephine...Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor. Living is easy once you realize that all you need is something to feel enthusiastic about. I feel here that this time they have succeeded. Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary. I'm a Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac. According to astrology, this is my last incarnation on earth. I really thought for my last life I'd be wiser, less fraught. I thought it would be less of a struggle. I hope the exit is joyful and hope never to return. Frida Kahlo, artist . The seventh month of my marriage to my second husband, I drank a bottle of wine every single night. I was too stubborn to go to a therapist and admit I needed prozac, or a divorce. I got tired of drinking alone. Now I just eat. I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis. Humphrey Bogart, actor. An enemy is the only mirror you'll ever need. Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies. Voltaire, writer I got the news that my mother was dying, that she'd probably be dead before I made it to the hospital, I put a Maria Callas CD in the car's CD player and sang along to O mio babbino caro which in Italian is "Oh my dear papa". It was the only prayer I knew to ask. Damn it . . . Don't you dare ask God to help me. Joan Crawford, actress. I grew up being taught that only the true believers will inherit the highest kingdom of god, and then become gods themselves, and populate thier own planets. You just can't make this stuff up. Woe is me. Me thinks I'm turning into a god. Vespasian, Roman Emperor. Most mornings I pull into the parking lot where I work and wonder how I got there. I don't remember anything of the drive at all. Marriage is like that. You say "I do" and wake up ten years later asking yourself "how did I get here?" My God. What's happened? Diana (Spencer), Princess of Wales. One of my earliest dreams is of being on a grand stage and Queen Elizabeth II standing and bowing to me from her royal box. My imaginary friend was destined to be a queen in her native African homeland, until she was abducted and taken to the court of Imonhotep III. I dreamed I was a Frisian queen from the tenth century when I was pregnant with my daughter, but it didn't turn out for her so well either. I think I believed I was a queen well into my thirties. You could chalk it up to delusions of granduer, but I think it's because I have a soul of a queen and the life of a peasant. All my possessions for a moment of time. Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Language can possess you. Does nobody understand? James Joyce. My father taught me to curse like the sailor he once was. I used to swear under my breath until I was in my early thirties. Now I fling expletives with pleasure, but only around people I really like. Most people I know have never heard me swear,and have a totally wrong idea of who I really am. You sons of bitches. Give my love to Mother. Francis "Two Gun" Crowley. The world is mine. The wind blows for me. The sky rains for me. The sun rises and sets for me. The soil is for me. All of the world is for me. I can never repay the debt for all I've been granted. Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius. Will you remember to pay the debt? Socrates. The last of the day's white light lingers and then is gone so suddenly, it appears there never was any reality other than the enveloping blackness. Get these fucking nuns away from me. Norman Douglas . In the end all of us cling to our superstitions. Death gives each of us an ending of our creation. All is lost! Monks, Monks, Monks! So, now all is gone - Empire, Body, and Soul!. Henry VIII. I like to believe I'm a reflective person. Truth be told, I run blindly to my own destruction. Every therapist I've ever seen has told me this very thing. What is the answer? [no response] In that case, what is the question? Gertrude Stein . hole... river... oak... deadly.... children... desert... Moose . . . Indian . . . Henry David Thoreau. When my daughter was very young, we'd take a crust of bread and sit out on the porch and wait for the evening's waning light, and the arrival of bats. We'd rip pieces from the crust and throw them skywards and watch the bat's deft flight as they swooped in an caught them in thier horrible feet. Put out the light. Theodore Roosevelt, US President. It is the silence which speaks the loudest. Go on, get out - last words are for fools who haven't said enough. Karl Marx, revolutionary.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Twelve: Secret Love Poem #2

I got the idea for this poem from Annie Finch's love poem poetry workshop, over at The Guardian.

Secret Love Poem #2

your acorn-colored skin
your blue jeans worn thin at the knees
your Dominican Republic cayenne pepper infused coffee
your eyes that change color to match your mood
your birthday the same as Charles Darwin
your collection of vintage postcards
your painting of Louis Armstrong wiping the sweat from his face
your overwatering of succulents
your parrifin-free Napoleon Bonaparte candle
your blue-striped button down dress shirts
your gift of a mariachi band serenade for my 30th birthday
your green-eyed ex-wife Katerina
your volume of Nabokov's Butterflies on your bedside table
your obsession with Albert Einsten and fossils
your injustice file documenting genocide atrocities
your famous poet ex-lover Louise
your rye manhattans at 2 A.M.
your penchant for disappearing without notice
your Ancyloceras Heteromorph Ammonite fossil collecton
your refusal to compare heartbreaks
your Nile-blue sofa
your soliliquies on refraction, discussing how light bends when it travels from air into water
your custom printed matchbooks printed with existentialist sentiments
your hatred of World War II and Vietnam War films
your father's last pair of shoes by the fireplace
your artist wife Solange
your refusal to admit to chainsmoking two packs a day
your mother's rings wrapped in a silk scarf
your reappearance without apologies
your deviated septum, the result of ice skating accident
your Beagles, Abraham and Moses
your snapshot of us on a carnival ride in Paris
your love of the color, robin's egg blue
your survivor's guilt eating a hole through your heart

Poem Therapy at 12:49 P.M. - James McKean

James McKean

Elegy for an Old Boxer
James McKean

From my window
I watch the roots of a willow
push your house crooked,
women rummage through boxes,
your sons cart away the TV, its cord
trailing like your useless arms.
Only weeks ago we watched the heavyweights,
and between rounds you pummeled the air,
drank whiskey, admonished “Know your competition!”
You did, Kansas, the ‘20s
when you measured the town champ
as he danced the same dance over and over:
left foot, right lead, head down,
the move you’d dreamt about for days.
Then right on cue your hay-bale uppercut
compressed his spine. You know. That was that.
Now your mail piles up, RESIDENT circled
“not here.” Your lawn goes to seed. Dandelions
burst in the wind. From my window
I see you flat on your back on some canvas,
above you a wrinkled face, its clippy bow tie
bobbing toward ten. There’s someone behind you,
resting easy against the ropes,
a last minute substitute on the card you knew
so well, vaguely familiar, taken for granted,
with a sucker punch you don’t remember
ever having seen.

Of course this poem reminds me of my father and the years left to him.

What immediately comes to mind is, better a has been, than a never was, something my father says at least once a week when he's trying to make himself feel better about getting old.

I suppose all that remains of us once we make our exit, is our stuff, to be sorted and taken to the goodwill or dump. I can't imagine my daughter dealing with all of my stuff. My book collection, art supplies, or my paintings, collages, sculptures, journals and ephemera, well, it's a little overwhelming, especially for one child to deal with. I'm going to pare way down, donate, etc. so it's not such an onerous task.

Perhaps the accumulation of a lifetime of stuff, the impossibility of it, is why so much ends up at the goodwill, and subsequently, my house. An uncle took my every last bit of three spinster aunts' possessions to the dump. What rankles most is that their journals and letters, literally the record of their lives, ended up in a landfill.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Eleven: The Museum of Dreams

I looked to my journals for inspiration for today's poem. (Did you notice I got an early start writing, rather than waiting until close to midnight? One reason is that I'm tired, but the main is that The Tudors premiere is tonight. I'm 'enery the 8th I am, 'enery the 8th I am, I am! 2nd verse, same as the 1st!)

I've recorded my nightly dreams in journals for years. I like the idea of a museum for dreams. Wouldn't it be fabulous to go to a museum and see Einstein, Elizabeth I, Cleopatra's dreams? I think I'll have to create a dream museum, virtual, of course. But for now, I'll offer a poem that captures a few of my night visions from recent years.

A dream museum reminds me of Nick Bantock's incredible The Museum at Purgatory book. I first learned of Bantock by colliding head on with his Griffin & Sabine series! and I've kept up with all things Bantock, since. I even won a illustrated mousepad when I entered his website contest. Lucky me!

The Museum of Dreams

a pervasive layer of salt covers our bodies
as if to say, learn about yourself
the pelicans rest on the water's lip,
none of the birds start, or dislodge
themselves and take to flight with our arrival,
we walk past them, further down the shoreline
strewn with detritus and driftwood
don't say anything, he says into the wind

a man walks through shallow lake water
suddenly veering sharply into an alcove
to see if water moccasin
have come down from the mountains,
as reported
he sees a dying
fish twisting in the shallows

even with all her exaggerated flaws
she has become a shadow figure,
a sun-faded paper silhouette
she whispers to the darkness in her room,
diminishing flesh, is itself an exalted thing

a woman forages through drawers and closets,
she is in a strange house looking through
other people's possessions, searching
for how it all began, until
a glimpse of herself in the mirror
arrests her attention,
she asks her reflection,
when is my mother coming back?

while the man isn't looking
his wife gives birth to a mole
it is hairless and blind,
he sees what she has done
and decides to love it anyway

we're in a foreign country,
it is dark and we are lost
we find a tunnel, filled with light,
it is a birth canal
for the living and the dead
we follow it down, down, and down,
and soon discover
in the land of the dead,
spirits are hungry for blood

a woman swimming against strong current
in a small ocean, turquoise
water tucked in a sacred space
I am not your servant and you are not my master
is the only thought she is capable of thinking

30 Poems in 30 Days - Ten: Postcard from the Great Salt Lake

Postcards are the inspiration for tonight's poem.

Postcard from the Great Salt Lake

The sky is an impossible
blue. If you were here,
you'd shield your eyes
and refuse to look.
The lake has a thick crust
of brine this time of year
that shimmers like
diamonds under harsh light.
The winter air is merciless.
It reminds me of you.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Nine: 107 Names for Woman

Let's get something clear, okay? Unless stated otherwise, all the exercise prompts will be from The Guardian. Tonight's is Jen Hadfield's list poem exercise.

When I wrote my list, I was in a very literal frame of mind. 108 names for woman was the original title of the list poem, but I omitted one word. I'll give you three guesses which one. GQ had a great article on "it" a few years back, and I agree with the writer, that reducing a person to this one word, really is the refuge of cowards.

It does appear that the word is losing its taboo status now that it is leveled at men as well as women.

If you still have no idea what word I'm talking about, head to your local library and check out a copy of Atonement by Ian McEwan.

107 names for woman

amazon, chick, shorty, bunny, dentata, mlf, chica,
sheila, angel, meshugeneh, box, diva, poon, babe,
minga, broad, twinkie, kvinde, mother, chiquita,
ma'am, vamp, klip, rumy, bird, kobieta, flange,
puma, donna, bimbo, hoss, trim, mahala, queen,
zena, lumberjack, mamma, boiler, ripper, aurat,
yak, booty, shiksa, lady, shrew, wahine, bombshell,
strumpet, mujer, lass, senora, animal, hottie, crone,
frau, wench, cherry, flapper, tomato, beauty, hussy,
female, lady, mistress, madame, vija, dame, doll,
whore, mom, fox, bitch, pigeon, cronk, belle, skirt,
hoochie, cougar, goddess, broad, dame, tart, butch,
madam, pussy, rat, doll, twist, dish, gal, betty, frail,
bag, ditz, femme, imra, mulher, fish, witch, nainen,
beaver, mummy, bint, dame, hag, gynaika, womb,

30 Poems in 30 Days - Eight: Henry Ford

The idea for today's poem is to take a poem, deconstruct it to its parts, (sorry Derrida for being so very willy-nilly with deconstructionism), and then reconstruct it, with parts of speech as the only guide, replacing each word with my own.

The poem I deconstructed, then reconstructed is Billie Holiday by E. Ehtelbert Miller. The ESL Desk was extremely helpful in finding parts of speech lists.

Henry Ford

occasionally the dead
work harder than the living

illustrious industrialist,
contemptuously all ubiquitous,
thought himself alive

dictates balefully accelerated
worth, an analysis, to his secretary

Cart Before The Horse - Satan at the Spelling Bee

I was just on the etsy.com site and read an article about artists Jo James and her husband Dylan Curry. Dylan mentioned he makes short films using his folk dolls and posts them on youtube, so of course, I immediately went to the site.

Do not miss these! The short films are hilarious! Here's The Spelling Bee. Also, Humpty Dumpty by Edgar Allan Poe, and there's Lincoln's rock band, Too Lazy to Bleed by Abraham Lincoln, (it has an explicit warning, so I didn't include a link, just in case there were naked puppets shaking it on the stage.

Here's more info about this brilliant pair:
etsy site
jo's blog
dylan's blog

30 Poems in 30 Days - Seven: Child with Toy Hand Grenade, New York City, 1962

Child with toy hand grenade, New York City, 1962 is the inspiration for this ekphrastic poem.

Amy Newman's ekphrastic poetry workshop from, you guessed it, The Guardian, states that "Ekphrasis is defined as the technique by which one artist responds to another, specifically as a verbal response to the visual or plastic arts."

This photo was taken the year I was born. The Vietnam War was into its third year, and there would be thirteen more before it was finally over. I thought about the war while I looked at Diane Arbus' famous photograph, and also, wondered if this child fought in the war.

Just found this! Colin Wood is the subect of the photograph. Mental Floss, quite possibly the coolest magazine ever, features a brief article, and you'll have to scroll way down on The Year in Pictures blog to read more about Wood. As for the question I posed earlier as to whether Colin Wood fought in the Vietnam War, well, he attended prep school, so I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he did not.

Diane Arbus is one of my favorite photographers. I believe you can know the artist by looking at their art, since all art is pretty much a mirror of what the artist "sees", what the artist "renders visible", as poet Hoawrd Nemerov explains in his poem, The Painter Dreaming in the Scholar's House. I also thought about the sad fact that Arbus would take her own life before the war's conclusion.

The and babies alludes to Ronald L. Haeberle's photograph of the My Lai Massacre, and frag is short for for fragmentation grenade, and for fragging, which the freedictionary.com defines as, To wound or kill (a fellow soldier) by throwing a grenade or similar explosive at the victim.

Child with Toy Hand Grenade, New York City, 1962

a toy soldier
dappled light falling like napalm
plays war in Central Park
poses for the lady
and her camera

his thumb pressed
over the fuse pin

a child mugging
for the camera
his malevolent claw hand
what can never
be said aloud
speaking angst, the
of being a mere boy
in a world
of men

in the distance
women, children,
and babies
pose lifeless,
nameless in
history's ambient light

three years into
that other war
and thirteen years still
for him to become a man
learn to frag
the enemy clawing
within himself

30 Poems in 30 Days - Six: Show Me What You Buy, I'll Tell You Who You Are

I'm back to The Guardian for inspiration. This time it's Daljit Nagra's dramatic monologue exercise "where one person is speaking to another person abou someone else. In the process the speaker reveals a flaw in their own character".

I decided on the dramatic monologue form early this morning, but could not think of a speaker, or the subject. I spent a good part of the morning photographing the spectacular effects of last night's snowstorm, (and not thinking about what I'd write for poem six). The trees were bowed to breaking under the weight. I measured four inches. I also took photos of the dogs playing in the snow.

Out of desperation, I finally turned to the news, the dailybeast.com, for inspiration and found my subject matter in an aritcle about how credit card companies create psychological profiles based on purchase history, which can predict if a cardholder is high risk, likely to get a divorce soon, has recently moved, if the cardholder spends more on others than themselves, with alarming accuracy. Apparently, if you like Count Dracula from Sesame Street, you're for legalizing marijuana. AH! AH! AH!

Diana Krall's song Temptation, and Nancey Chapman's Byzantine pendants and Michael Kors chainmail hobo bag featured in Vivre: The Art of Living magazine served as inspiration, as well.

Show Me What You Buy, I'll Tell You Who You Are

Oh, what is there to say
about our dear girl, that hasn't been said?
I lunched with Candace yesterday.
Poor girl is as world
weary as ever.
Yes, darling,
she's home, from yet another excursion.
Darling, I told you she was abroad.
I said we lunched.
I told you, darling.
Geoffrey, you must have your ears
checked, and soon!

No, I don't know
if she swam in the Dead Sea.
I sincerely doubt it. You
know what delicate skin she has,
so prone to dryness.
I haven't the slightest idea
if she prayed at Kotel.
Really! Why would she pray
at the wall?
You know she's hasn't
been to synagogue for ages.

Over shrimp in champagne sauce,
she brought out her latest acquisition.
To great effect, I am loathe to admit.
Yes, yes, that is quite an
admission, my darling man.

Oh, Byzantine bronze crosses,
circa 337 A.D.
She is on a mad quest
to find a jeweler
to have the things made
into pendants.
She asked me to enlist
you to find a jeweler. As if finding
a jeweler in this city was
an onerous task!

I expect we'll receive Byzantine
crosses next holiday.
Of course we'll wear them,
when we're out with her.

Remember those horrid
chainmmail handbags
she had specially
made after her stay
in Navarre?
I nearly broke
my wrist lugging
that thing

And, mon Dieu, after her tour
of Colonial silversmith
foundries, she presented
us with those ghastly
tree branch menorahs!
I was certain
if I opened
a window, a flock
of birds
would fly in
and promptly set
about building nests.

Why Byzantine? She identifies
with Empress Theodora.
Can you imagine?
Darling! I most certainly did
not tell her Theodora
was a whore
(and Christian),
before she was an empress.
Such a comment
would be gauche, simply
beyond the pale,
(no historical pun intended).

Indeed, the look
on her face
would have been worth
it, but darling,
I'm not like you. I
don't have the luxury
of blurting every
thought that comes
into my mind.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Five: A Lesser History

Stichomancy, as defined by the freedictionary.com, is a form of divination involving lines of poetry or passages from books. I use this divinatory tool,(originally used to decide a person's guilt by using lines from the Bible, and known as bibliomancy), as an idea generating process. I culled these words from Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers.

My rules for using stichomancy to generate ideas are:
1. Open the book at random.
2. Place your finger anywhere on the page, without looking.
3. Write down the random word or phrase your finger lighted on.
4. Repeat until you have a list of at least 7 random words and phrases.
5. Allow the words to suggest associations.

I'm not feeling terribly inspired at the moment, although the snowstorm raging outside is impressive. I'm going to sleep on it and see what happens tomorrow morning. I do like the title, which I just came up with, and now have a few more ideas about where I'd like to go with all the cryptic religious allusions.

A Lesser History


fruit of the tree
succulent and dangerous
wine-hued juice slides from lips
to chin as she split the quince
with her sharp, knowing teeth

struggling with the door

the door rekeyed
you are no longer welcome
persona non Grata is your name
henceforth and forever
I am not your father
you are not my child
you always asked too many questions
could never leave well enough alone
you are like your snake-tailed sister
pain of childbirth shall be your penance
shall be all your kinds' penance
how do you like them apples?

what has happened to you has happened to me too

your pain
is my pain
is your pain
and omega
I am
I am

a gentle deliberateness in his gestures

a furrowing of divine brow
crossing one all powerful
arm over the other
divine back turned against
insistent bee-drone of need and want

back from town

leveled to rubble
fires still smolder
the air thick with retribution
a lone salt pillar on the outskirts of town

a leaf curling at the edges

microcosm and macrocosm
a universe in and of itself
evidence of magic and mystery
oracle and miracle

many centuries ago

a woman partook at the altar
of a quince tree
woman's womb a reliquary
housing the holy relic

30 Poems in 30 Days - Four: Don't Waste Your Time Telling My Husband, He's Busy

Once again I have looked to The Guardian's poetry workshop for inspiration. John Hartley Williams' warped proverb exercise is what I'm using for poem four. Beat your mother while she's young, is a warped version of, Spare the rod, spoil the child. To further aide in writing a warped proverb poem, Hartley instructs to incorporate seven of the ten words provided and "allow your unconscious free play with the associations the words suggest", (I've included two of my own words to Williams' list):


I finally decided on this proverb to warp from the list below.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
Let the dead bury the dead
Speak softly and carry a big stick
Revenge is a dish best served cold
The husband is always the last to know
Old soldiers never die, they just fade away
Youth is wasted on the young

Don't Waste Your Time Telling My Husband, He's Busy

We live in a small town, population 2,177.
The choices around here aren't that great,
So I make do with what's available,
Bloom where you're planted, and all that.

Hank, the mechanic who keeps my truck up
And running, snow or shine, was first.
He lives back of the gas station
In a trailer, the size of my old office.
It goes without saying he wears worn cowboy
Boots and his Wrangler's tight.
His large oil-stained hands have a kind of appeal.

We moved to this defunct Montana mining town
So my husband could do good to all the unfortunate,
And downtrodden. He's something of a celebrity around here,
like Robin Hood, except no swashbuckle or bravado,
and he would never steal. He's always trying
to get the rich to give to the poor. Trouble is,
there aren't any rich. The upside,
is that there are thirteen bars, three cafes, two churches,
one gas station, and no stoplight or stop sign
on the town's one paved road. This town used to be hopping
around one hundred years ago. Hemingway mentioned
It in "The Sun Also Rises".

Robert, a.k.a Mick, because he's Irish,
Was second. He has wavy black hair and
Owns The Sunrise Bar.
He's also the bartender. That's how we met.
His brother bar tends across the street
At the Sunset Bar, but I digress.
Mick's a recovering alcoholic. He's been sober
For five months, and he's always going on about God
And the twelve steps. It makes it difficult
To drink around him, so I started spending a lot
Of time at his brother's bar. Mick drives fifty-five
Miles into The City every morning
For his AA meetings. Sometimes I go in with him.
Sometimes we get a room and it's a nice change,
Especially since his dog sheds like a mother.
Mick says he'll sell the bar, if the economy ever picks up.
He likes to go out line dancing and he articulates
His pelvis just like Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock.

There's not a lot to do around here. So, I drink.
Mostly whiskey and Coke, but some days I mix
It up and order gin and tonics. Sometimes
I get a little crazy and drink cosmos until
It's time to go home and get a little dinner
Cooking. Walk on the wild side, and all that.
Sometimes I hop in the truck and ride around
Looking for moose or bears.
I used to work in publishing, had my own
Office and assistant, and could get
A skinny double shot soy latte any time
Of the day, any day of the week.

Gibbs was third. He's Mick's brother. Yeah, I know,
I know. I felt a little guilty in the beginning,
but Eat, Drink, and be Merry, and all that.
He likes to fish. Every Wednesday, I bring a can of corn
and a can opener, and he'll grab a bottle of Captain Morgan,
And we'll slip out the back of his bar and head straight
For the river. Those fish really go for corn.
Mick found out about Gibbs and me and it
Caused a big problem. Mick threatened to tell my husband,
And I told him to go right ahead. A bluff. He didn't
But I sweated it for a while, cut down on my alcohol
Consumption and made special dinners. Mick
And Gibbs didn't speak for a long time.
I found a new bar.

My husband's main focus in life is figuring out
A way to spur economic development and get this town up
and rolling. I think he and this town should just resign
Themselves to reality. Every night he's at the kitchen
Table with spread sheets, current issues of finance
Journals, and old newspaper articles from the town's heyday,
spread out in a fan. A lot of his clients
Come to the house for after hours consultations.
I make coffee, then go sit on the couch
In the living room and run my hands over the cushions.
I've decided maybe my problem
Is that I need a baby to fill my time.
I scanned pictures of me and my husband into a baby website
That uses FBI face detection technology to see what our baby
Would look like. Not so good. I also scanned in Hank, Mick,
And Gibbs. Hank won, hands down.

David cuts the little patch of grass that surrounds
My house like a moat. He's twenty-three. He is my fourth.
Even though I'm only eight years older than him, I feel
A little like Mrs. Robinson. David was studying to be a marine
Biologist, but his dad got sick so he had to move home
To take care of him. He likes motorcycles and always
Wants to take me for a ride. I told him it's too public,
He understands that. About once a month he drops in my new
Bar and we have a game of pool. He drives by at least once
A week when I'm out on the porch having a nightcap.
I wave. He waves. I cry a little then go to bed
And listen to my husband snore until I fall asleep.
My husband doesn't come home for lunch
Even though his office is less than a block away,
Although, technically, this town doesn't have blocks.
I tried taking him a sandwich a few times,
But his office was always jammed with clients
Waiting to see him, so I gave it up.
I usually make David a sandwich and give
Him a cold beer or two. Then we retire
to the couch and do a little underwater exploring.
Co co ca choo, and all that.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Three: Dear William

I'm getting a very late start on poem three. The idea for this poem came from Kate Clanchy's workshop. The exercise is to write a letter to someone you have lost. The "loss" can be to death, but also distance, a misunderstanding, accident, neglect, etc. If you need a little inspiration, The Guardian offers numerous poetry workshops, by acclaimed poets, on its site. Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat, "that submlimely cool and marvelously short monologue of love and loss", is the guide text for this poem.

Dear William

Dear William,

It's close to midnight, the beginning of April,
and the weather here in Utah hasn't made up its mind yet.
I'm listening to Phoenix from Martina Topley-Bird's CD,
The Blue God , and if you and I had ever met, you'd know
being consumed then emerging renewed, is my kind of thing.

I'm writing you to introduce myself and let you know I watch
over the tree planted for you in Veteran's Park,
and also to apologize that I didn't do more to save
your original tree, planted in 1921 to honor the war dead,
that the City cut down to make way for progress.

It snowed the day they cut down your tree.
I was at work when the workmen mulched the branches
and carried off the wood. They stacked two lengths of trunk
in the adjacent parking lot. I had already said goodbye, twisted
the embedded wire from the crook of the tree's neck,
shot a roll of film as if the tree were you,
and we were at the station, posing before a train,
smiling for the camera.

I drove in and out of the parking lot, the next few days,
checking to see if the trunk, if you, were still there.
I'd sit in the car, the lights illuminating the
snowcovered trunk. Finally, I got out of the car
and sat on the trunk, patting the bark.
I tore two branches from the trunk. One is on my studio altar.
The other is planted in the flower bed on the west side of my house,
and although it's apparent it's not ever going to bud,
I can't bring myself to take it from the soil.

All I really know of you is from my father's stories, but like me,
he never knew you, so they're secondhand memories
told to him by his own father, James Archie,
who said that you came to his bedroom the night you died
on that troop train in France, a sliver of steel
driven through your throat on impact,
and stood at the foot of the bed, and said nothing.

I keep old photographs of you on my studio altar.
Sometimes I hear footsteps upstairs when no one
but me is home and wonder if it's you. I have a photo
of you unsmiling in your suitcoat, with your mother
and father, four sisters and three brothers.
A handful of photos of you on the farm
standing with your horses, a careless dark lock
flung over your forehead, your dog, Shep,
nuzzling your leg. I study the stiff poses
of you in your uniform, looking for myself.

In the photographs of you with Meldon,
your wife of one month before you reported for duty,
your eyes are mischievious and young. How could you know
your would be lost in little more than three months.

Or did you? You gave your favorite gun to my grandfather,
along with the words that you didn't think you'd need it.

They said you were the best of the Leighton men,
the hope of the family, and that when you died,
you took thier dreams with you.

What were their dreams, William?

A psychic told me that an ancestor wanted something from me,
and I couldn't uncover who, until you came in a dream
the morning of your birthday. Of course I didn't know
it was your birthday until I told my father as he cut
his pampas grass, that I had dreamed of you, and with his diamond
sharp memory told me so.

What is it that you want William? I really want to know.

With love,

30 Poems in 30 Days: Two: Anne's Nightingale

I've been watching Season Three of The Tudors, so Anne Boleyn has been on my mind lately. The show's writers did an exquisite job with Anne's last moments. The very last image she sees, just as the sword finds its mark, is brilliant white birds, doves, I think, blurred in flight. Even more poignant is Anne's last memory of her younger self caught up in her father's arms, spinning round in an innocent child's game, a fitting contrast to the fatal game he played with his daughter's life.

Anne's Nightingale

And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. Anne Boleyn

Despite her prophecy
the sky that early spring morning
was piercing blue and cloudless.

Birdsong punctuated her silence
as she walked her last
to the high scaffold draped
like a monk in voluminous black.

She could not know
its straw-strewn floor secreted
the French sword.

The sun had yet to wick
the dew-laden grass.

She wore an ermine-lined cloak,
grey damask kertel, and crimson martyr
petticoats for her last
royal appearance as Henry's Queen.

Anne addressed her audience,
paid her executioner, knelt,
her resolve to die unshaken,

Swete swete iug iug ,
a nightingale's song,
startled the queen from her prayers.

She searched the sky and found
the nightingale
perched atop a stone cornice,
its clear, sweet song
for her ears alone.

Suddenly, a dazzling white light,
and also, a thin red ribbon
encircling her royal neck.

30 Poems in 30 Days - One: Levelling

I had an idea today about writing a poem about famous deaths, so I googled "famous deaths", and Eleanor of Aquitaine's death on April 1, 1204 at the age if 82, came up. I knew I had my subject matter, but wasn't sure how to start until I read her quote on marriage. fyi: Henry II had his wife Eleanor pretty much under house arrest when his mistress, Rosamond, died, so she couldn't have killed her. The legend that Queen Eleanor pressed a daggar to Rosamond's throat and forced her to drink poison is far too dramatic to worry about historical accuracy.

All the poems I write and post this month are rough drafts, basically thinking on paper. I'll start revising in May.


How fortunate I was in my husbands: the monk, and the young bull in spring. Whether they would or not, they placed me on a promontory against which the tides of time have crashed and fallen back. They left me worn, these men and their tides, but they did not level me. Eleanor of Aquitaine

Let us agree
that a rumbling low murmer,
not words, only animal
sound formed at the base of the throat,
a gaze fixed on the horizon,
or a shrug of the shoulders
has been enough to fill the hollow
spaces between you and I.

Allow me to concede
how fortunate
it is that in each other
we have found the perfect rock
to batter ourselves against.

And also my gratitude
for the insistent waves
crashing against the cliffs
that shaped and formed us
into delicate grains of sand.

Here is where you turn
and prepare again for battle.

Here is where I sigh, close
the open window,
press my forehead to the cool
glass, and begin.

As long
as we're being honest,
let us admit
that a face can be a knife,
a tongueless kiss ungent
poison, sex a kind of occulation,
obscuring loneliness
behind it's large, luminous body.

Let us agree, on the last,
at the very least, this truth.

And also,
that Eleanor, of the two husbands,
and ten children,
knew the space between
meant chosing, knew
that there comes a time
to take fair Rosamond by the hair,
press a daggar to her throat,
and make her drink
a dram of poison.

April Fool's Day 2010

Good one Starbucks!

If you're interested in the origins of April Fool's Day, The Christian Science Monitor is at your service.

National Poetry Month 2010 - Poem a Day

If you'd like a poem delivered to your emailbox every day of National Poetry Month, sign up at poets.org, The Poetry Foundation, and The Rumpus

I will be posting a poem every day this month as well. Enjoy!

It has been snowing nonstop since yesterday, so I thought this poem appropriate.

April 1

Spring Snow
Linda Gregerson

A kind of counter-
blossoming, diversionary,

doomed, and like
the needle with its drop

of blood a little
too transparently in

love with doom, takes
issue with the season: Not

(the serviceberry bright
with explanation) not

(the redbud unspooling
its silks) I know I've read

the book but not (the lilac,
the larch) quite yet, I still

have one more card to
play. Behold

a six-hour wonder: six
new inches bedecking the

railing, the bench, the top
of the circular table like

a risen cake. The saplings
made (who little thought

what beauty weighs) to bow
before their elders.

The moment bears more
than the usual signs of its own

demise, but isn't that
the bravery? Built

on nothing but the self-
same knots of air

and ice. Already
the lip of it riddled

with flaws, a sort
of vascular lesion that

betokens—what? betokens
the gathering return

to elementals. (She
was frightened

for a minute, who had
planned to be so calm.)

A dripline scoring
the edge of the walk.

The cotton batting blown
against the screen begun

to pill and molt. (Who
clothed them out of

mercy in the skins
of beasts.) And even

as the last of the
lightness continues

to fall, the seepage
underneath has gained

momentum. (So that
there must have been a

death before
the death we call the

first or what became
of them, the ones

whose skins were taken.)
Now the more-

forward part, which must

have happened while I wasn't
looking or was looking

at the skinning knives. I think
I'll call this mercy too.

from Poetry November 2006.