52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

THE news

I don't mean to ignore the tragedy of the violence in Beirut, France, Iraq, Turkey, Nigeria, Syria, and elsewhere (just in the past two weeks), but how is this not the news people are [also] talking about?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Semantic satiation

I learned a new phrase, "semantic satiation." It's that thing when you repeat a word or phrase to the point where that word or phrase loses its meaning; it's just sound. To use it in a sentence: "Ron Padgett's sonnet 'Nothing in That Drawer' induces in the reader semantic satiation"

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I just want e-mail and

not the rest of the internet.

Any help is welcome.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Poems for, about, & featuring monsters...

I have a poem in this book. The cover looks like this:
You should buy it at Powell's.

It comes out a month before Halloween.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fiona Apple


To live with your nerves so close to the surface makes for a compelling artist, but it must be exhausting. Or maybe it's not. In any case: Jeepers is Fiona alive.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

James Tate, 1943 - 2015


Ancient Story


      At midnight I went outside to look at the
full moon. Bats were feasting on mosquitos.
Out in the field a coyote was howling. The field
was bathed in yellow light, and I could
see him, his head thrown back, like a passionate
tenor in an eerie opera. I wanted to join him, but
my howling was rusty. I walked slowly and quietly
in his direction. Several times bats swooped within
an inch of my face. My blood was rushing. The coyote
saw me and went on singing. I froze in my
tracks. It was beautiful. His song told some
ancient tale of grief and sorrow. I started to
whimper. And that turned into squealing. Then I
was bawling and weeping. Kind of blubbering, with
some yips and yelps thrown in. My head thrown back,
I began to wail. And I couldn’t stop wailing, it
felt so good. I had wakened the whole neighborhood,
and now they, too, were wailing.

[from]

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bolsa


Third scrub rabbit this walk. Vulture above that pond
Crosses before and over me gliding by the one
On my right, ignoring me, looking for meat
To fill the truck. There's mullet in clear water,
Shovelnose shark, sharing it with two herons,
Whose squawks of dispute cut through the audio
Earbuds feed me. Scrub birds, small wrens?
Finches? Gnatcatchers?—I know few birds—
Fly and flit and yip, unbound by the path that takes me
Onward, like a rider on a dark ride looking 
At the mechanical array, with a thrill he paid for,
Screened from nearby humans, forgetting they’re there,
Pretending to, maybe not. Each image and perspective 
Is made for him. What powers the rattle in the bush?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Your Position Helps Determine Your Position

'Liberation theology is for the liberation of all creation and all people but not in a way that erases concrete injustices, inequalities, and power differentials in society. Cone says that oppressors “never recognize that the struggle of freedom is for all, including themselves.” Everyone needs to be set free. But all lives cannot truly matter unless black lives matter, or as Cone puts it: “if the bottom matters then everyone matters.” Given our nation’s ongoing history, the burden of proof does not lie with black liberation theology; the indictment is upon U.S. Christianity and its traditional theologies which have rendered black life irrelevant.

'Some have juked Cone’s theological critique by blaming the problem on ethics. In other words, “Orthodox” theology is faultless but has been at times simply misapplied or not faithfully lived out. These critics say we should be sympathetic to Cone’s passion but reject his answers as “unbiblical and untenable.” But part of Cone’s brilliance was to avoid such an unhealthy disconnect between theology and ethics. If Cone is right (and I think he is), then we can’t keep using the master’s theological tools as they are to dismantle his church. If the theological well keeps yielding poison, we need to question that well and remember that God is the source of life.'
 [from]

Tub

[From]

Friday, June 19, 2015

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around

Um...

"[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event," Ehrlich said.
"A new study suggests that thousands of species on Earth going extinct at a rate that far exceeds what’s typical. We are in the beginnings of a mass extinction, argue scientists, and it could lead to global starvation for humans — as well as many other animals."
"We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis because our aim was to place a realistic lower bound on humanity's impact on biodiversity."

Two Words

1.



2.
"But if the plot by the gunman was to challenge race relations, to create terror, we cannot let him succeed.

"I cannot stop crying, but I refuse to grow angry, because it won’t help anything. We must stay on the course to integrate the church. We must stay on the course to create a multiracial, multi-ethnic platform for worship.

"The AME church is the church militant. We are the social justice church; we are the civil rights church. That’s who we are; that’s our tradition. If it was a plot, they picked the wrong church.

"We’re going to go even harder, faster, longer—with great zeal. We are the beloved community, and we’re going to love them to heaven."
[from]

Thursday, June 11, 2015

For a paper I'm writing

I'm putting down here, as in a notebook, this remarkable passage:
Cusa, in his book of 1453, had invited his monastic friends of the Tegernsee Abbey to look at a gaze that looks at everyone as if it were looking at no one else, and then to talk about what they could and could not see.

followed by this one:
How can we manage that with this Narcissism? . . . The monks are required to talk about what they don’t see. If they do that, they discover that the blind spot of their perception is no longer threatening. Because they talk at this moment about themselves, but in a divested manner, which means, on purpose, as Narcissus, but behind that very clearly recognizable as an individual person: embarrassing, shameless, the pure fear. That sounds simple, but it isn’t. The difference between seeing and talking marks the separating line at which the narcissistic trap cracks. You cannot believe what you see. That’s by far too incredible. Faith comes from hearing, says Paul. From hearing, from speaking (sprechen), and first of all from making a slip of the tongue / promising yourself (sich versprechen). No faith without practicing procedures of making a slip of tongue / promising yourself! I promise to you, that there is something to be heard at beyond the visible! But how do you make a slip / promise yourselves? I have to find that out by myself . . .
[from]

Proverbs 26:20

'For lack of wood the fire goes out,
    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.'

The Future

"When technological advances create new ways to deliver, acquire and perform work feasible and potentially more profitable, that’s progress. But when the benefits of these new techniques are skewed to a tiny few who control the platforms, while those who provide the services and perform the work struggle to get by, that’s perverse."

"The on-demand economy has reshaped how many of us get to the airport, buy groceries, plan our vacations and clean our homes. It will likely employ a growing percentage of U.S. workers in years to come. We must take steps to ensure it doesn’t leave our graduates with dwindling opportunities for a truly promising future."

[from]

Friday, June 5, 2015

That Summer Feeling

There's a lot on my mind, not all of it good. I hope for some rest and peace this summer. My family and I move in a few weeks, which is neither restful nor peaceful, but I'm excited about making things again. I sent some stuff out yesterday to a friend for collaboration. I also aim to see the man below June 19 in L.A. You should go, too, dear reader!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Monk

"Don't play everything (or everytime); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don't play can be more important than what you do."

[from]

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Adjunct Disjuncta

"We like to rhapsodize about the influential teacher who changes lives and hearts, and makes students stand on their desks in academic ecstasy. But this doesn’t translate in the contemporary world of higher education. There is a complicated culture of silence that surrounds adjuncting. Schools have no incentive to draw attention to how many adjuncts most institutions now rely on, and as for the adjuncts themselves, addressing the subject raises awkward questions, and might even put their jobs at risk: in her essay “The Teaching Class,” Rachel Riederer recounts how merely explaining how adjuncting worked to a group of students outside of class threw one adjunct’s job into jeopardy. There also can be an element of shame, or reservations about discussing financial matters, or a reluctance to complain." [from]

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bhartrihari

Three Kinds of Lovers

The deer, the fish, and the good man--
What do they love? Grass, and the sea, and peace.
Who are their most ferocious enemies?
The hunter, the fisherman, the nihilist.


[version by Robert Bly, after a translation by Barbara Stoler Miller]

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Frank O'Hara

"the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we're all winning
we're alive"

[from "Steps"]

Monday, May 4, 2015

All you sad sacks

who sincerely wish to say what you mean and try to use language to do it despite all the ways it fails and will continue to fail: I salute you. All you who to justify yourself only to yourself give someone who is hungry money to buy food (despite the suspicion that that is not what will be bought) or give someone water to drink even if grudgingly: I'm following your example. Out of fear you said no to the thing you knew you should say no to instead of the better reason: because it was right to say no: You said no, nevertheless. Good job. You showed up to the thing where you knew someone might maybe expect you to be because you hate feeling guilty and you knew you would if you didn't show up. You showed up. You sighed repeatedly, loudly, while you waited but you waited and you knew you shouldn't sigh like that, that your face should be clear, pleasant, should put on a good show: Keep at it. Art without love is nothing. Smarts without love is nothing. Nothing. Not even wind.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tomas Tranströmer

I just learned that he died, a little over a month ago. Below is a poem of his, translated by Robert Bly.
 
Romanesque Arches

Tourists have crowded into the half-dark of 
           the enormous Romanesque church.
Vault opening behind vault and no perspective.
A few candle flames flickered.
An angel whose face I couldn’t see embraced me
and his whisper went all through my body:
“Don’t be ashamed to be a human being, be proud!
Inside you one vault after another opens endlessly.
You’ll never be complete, and that’s as it should be.”
Tears blinded me
as we were herded out into the fiercely sun-lit piazza,
together with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Herr Tanaka 
           and Signora Sabatini;
within each of them vault after vault opened endlessly.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

EVENT!

Sunday
4/26/15
Poetry Reading
with Jenny Factor
Claremont Library
208 N. Harvard Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
2pm
Free!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Leonard Cohen

"We're so privileged to be able to gather in moments like this, when so much of the world is plunged in darkness, and chaos."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

:-(

'Besides El Niño, a more worrying, longer-term trend is also taking shape. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a decades-long periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean that tends to favor bursts of accelerated global warming. As I wrote last October, the Pacific appears to be in the midst of a shift into a new warm phase that could last 20 years or so.

'The PDO—or, “the blob” as it’s been referred to recently—is starting to freak out some scientists. There are emerging signs of a major shift in the Pacific Ocean’s food chain, including a dearth of plankton, tropical fish sightings near Alaska, and thousands of starving sea lion pups stranded on the California coast. As Earth’s largest ocean, what happens in the Pacific affects the weather virtually planet-wide, and that means an “imminent” jump in global warming may have already begun—spurred on by the PDO.

'The PDO has skyrocketed to record-high monthly levels over the past four months. In fact, there have only been four other similarly warm four-month bursts of the PDO in the last 115 years (in 1940, 1941, 1993, and 1997). A quick look at the historical record (for both 15 years prior to and 15 years after the bursts) shows that global temperatures rose at twice the rate of the 20th century average immediately after these bursts.

'Combined with the overall long-term warming trend from climate change, the emergence of the PDO warm phase means the current state of the world’s oceans has little precedent.'

[from]

Sunday, April 12, 2015

John Cage

"Begin anywhere."

Essential Read

"Living in a white dominant context, we receive constant messages that we are better and more important than people of color. For example: our centrality in history textbooks, historical representations and perspectives; our centrality in media and advertising; our teachers, role-models, heroes and heroines; everyday discourse on “good” neighborhoods and schools and who is in them; popular TV shows centered around friendship circles that are all white; religious iconography that depicts God, Adam and Eve, and other key figures as white. While one may explicitly reject the notion that one is inherently better than another, one cannot avoid internalizing the message of white superiority, as it is ubiquitous in mainstream culture."

More here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

TWO EVENTS: Come to one or both!

First, our next Salon--the first in two years--is happening Saturday, April 18th, starting at 7:30pm, in a tiny house in Seal Beach. It features poet Victoria Chang, visual artist Jordan Christian, and music collective Goon. Plus a special guest or two. Can't wait.

Next, I'm reading poetry the afternoon of Sunday, April 26th at the Claremont Library. The other reader is Jenny Factor. The poem on her home page, "Mind Loves," is terrific, as is this one, over at the Poetry Foundation. I'm excited!




Monday, April 6, 2015

View from Space

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.'”

- Former Astronaut Ed Mitchell

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Friday, April 3, 2015

45. Painting Detail


44. Good Friday Cinquain


He who
told us, Love friends,
love enemies, though they’ll
kill you, is now dead. He lived what
he said.

43. Maundy Thursday Cinquain

Go, wash
somebody’s feet,
metaphorically, or
really, then empty out your fridge,
and eat.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

42. He didn't tell me any of the jokes



On the drive home my son said
‘yeah you’d be surprised cuz

some kids you think are good kids
make bad jokes. But they’re not mean.

Some,’ he said, ‘like V________ are mean.
V_______ says his neighborhood’s

rough, like dangerous. He--
he sometimes says something really bad,

then he says after a little while
"I don’t want to go to hell."

So he’ll say what he just said he didn’t really mean.
He sometimes says that.’

Monday, March 30, 2015

41b. Zbigniew Herbert


Speculations on the Subject of Barabbas

What became of Barabbas? I ask but no one knows
Let off his chain he went into the brightly lit street
he could turn to the right go straight turn to the left
spin around in a circle crow cheerfully as a rooster
He the Emperor of his own head and hands
He the Governor of his own breath

I ask because in a sense I took part in the whole thing
Swayed by the crowd in front of Pilate's palace I cried
along with all the others free Barabbas free Barabbas
Everyone was shouting and if I alone had been silent
it would all have happened as it was meant to happen

So perhaps Barabbas went back to his gang of thieves
In the mountains he kills swiftly and plunders deftly
Or maybe he set up a pottery workshop
and now cleans his crime-stained hands
in the clay of creation
He's a water carrier a mule driver a moneylender
a shipowner—a ship of his carried Paul to Corinth
or—the possibility cannot be excluded—
he became a valued spy in Roman pay

Behold and marvel at the vertiginous play of fate
with possibilities power and smiles of fortune

But the Nazarene
was left alone
without alternative
with a steep
pathway
of blood 

[trans. by Alissa Valles]

41a. Reference points for Kendrick Lamar's "u"...

...from a person trying to make sense of it:

Captain Beefheart, "Well"
Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
Violent Femmes, "Dating Days"
Fishbone, "Drunk Skitzo"

40. Song

All but the singing is recorded on three songs. Tonight (I hope!) one will be ready...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

39. Borges

What type of sentence (I asked myself) will an absolute mind construct? I considered that even in the human languages there is no proposition that does not imply the entire universe; to say the tiger is to say the tigers that begot it, the deer and turtles devoured by it, the grass on which the deer fed, the earth that was mother to the grass, the heaven that gave birth to the earth. I considered that in the language of a god every word would enunciate that infinite concatenation of facts, and not in an implicit but in an explicit manner, and not progressively but instantaneously. In time, the notion of a divine sentence seemed puerile and blasphemous. A god, I reflected, ought to utter only a single word and in that word absolute fullness. No word uttered by him can be inferior to the universe or less than the sum total of time. Shadows or simulacra of that single word equivalent to a language and to all a language can embrace are the poor and ambitious human words, all, world, universe.
- "The God's Script"

[trans. by L.A. Murillo]

Friday, March 27, 2015

38. Detail from "Campo Vaccino," by JMW Turner


37.


Rejected by men, alive
to love, the bridge troll waits
for the yellow-skirted girl
to make her weekly crossing.

Where she goes, what she brings
with her in her bag is unknown.
She sings to herself.
Her baskets and parcels smell good.

He once lived in the woods
in a house made of stone.
Each evening after dark,
he’d sit outside his kitchen window,

enjoying in silence the memory
of scents from the meal he ate.
The warmth of those evenings
suspended his sleepiness.

Before bed he’d kill a deer or bear 
for the next day of meals.
The rest—how that life fell apart,
how he ended up here,

how he used to get what he wanted
and now pines for what
makes him seem to others
monstrous, he can’t recall.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

36. "The Letter Killeth, but the Spirit Giveth Life"

E.g., the woman caught in adultery
the prodigal son
the brother of the prodigal son
the brother watching Sonny from the 
     window watching the street revival
     in "Sonny's Blues"
the father of the epileptic boy, who throws 
     himself in the fire
the epileptic boy
Lazarus
his sisters
the woman at the well
the thief on the cross
Magdalen at the tomb
the people walking on the road
the Ethiopian in the chariot
the Roman centurion sending for Peter
     after Peter saw the animals in the sheet
     descending from the sky
Hezekiah praying for the tribes who ate
     the Passover meal without being purified,
     saying, "May YHWH who is good pardon
     everyone who sets their heart on seeking
     God"
my sons forgiving me
the one time the older one did by
     touching my face
Scott Cairns' "The Spiteful Jesus"
John Berryman's "The Carpenter's Son"
Tom Waits's "Where the Train Goes Slow"
the last scene in Magnolia
the climactic scene in Sense and Sensibility
the blind man who sees people like trees
     walking around on his way to seeing
     perfectly
the woman who bled for twelve years
the man at the pool waiting for the water
     to be troubled by God
the ending of Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation"
sitting in a bar with a friend who confesses
     all because he trusts you to listen and love him
the voice in the whirlwind
morning coffee for recovering addicts
morning coffee
Transtromer's "The Scattered Congregation"
Jesus telling "the many" rebuking the loud blind man to knock it off
the

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

35. "Museumgoers Think IKEA Painting is Real, Amazing, Worth Six Figures"


Clicking the link
affords a brief, sweet
sense of being
holier-than-thou.
But who isn’t a fraud?
I’m lying now.
What’s wanted in comedy
is commitment
to the bit, hope
mistaken as bullshit.

Monday, March 23, 2015

34. Something Else

The world's oceans appear to be slowing in their circulations.

We are hiring in my department at work and can't agree on a common vision of the future.

I'm struggling to finish a long-overdue writing project.

It's the end of the give-your-money-to-strangers'-non-profit-enterprises-in-hopes-they'll-choose-you-and-take-you-to-the-dance season.

I cannot speak for anyone else when I say the first sentence of this abstract largely describes my life. I hope, but am not sure, that the next three do not.

This is the mean stretch of Lent.

It's late. I'm going to bed.


33. Song

Sunday, March 22, 2015

32. Simone Weil

     "Time does us violence; it is the only violence. 'Another shall gird thee and lead thee whither thou wouldst not'; time leads us whither we do not wish to go. Were I condemned to death I should not be executed if in the interval time stood still. Whatever frightful thing may happen, can we desire that time should stop, that the stars should be stayed in their courses? Time's violence rends the soul: by the rent eternity enters."

Friday, March 20, 2015

31. Ollie to Oblivion

My son helped me set up the camera, and we used his software (so easy to use!) to put the frames into a movie.

30. Words are of Two Kinds

“Words are of two kinds, simple and double.”
Aristotle says this. Verb tense makes him live.

He is bearded, be-robed, hair giving way
to a polished pate. I don’t know Greek.

Perhaps he says, “Alert the pupils.
Our lesson begins.” What is there to eat

in ancient Athens? Rough bread,
fish, water with mud in it to drink.

The fish will not be like the fish I eat,
occasionally, in restaurants.

It’ll be unseasoned, full of bones.
I’ll rinse my hands in muddy water.

Does Big-A think I’m a pupil in my
outlandish clothes? I’m awfully old,

but he pegs me at 30. Will he put me up
for the night? Will my bed be straw?

Will there be insects in it and in my food?
Is there coffee? I hate it here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

29. These Enormous Boys

These enormous boys drink so much
weekly milk, crash through doorframes,
have grown to destroy without thought
windows and chairs. Why pictures are sad
is cameras see the invisible moment.
These boys, now large and regarded in
marks, scuffs, a torn screen, loose arm,
a stain, were once in whole beauty always
brought forth to new events: the plate,
the cup, washcloth and sink, toilet and bath
and clothes and holiday food: smaller in
pictures than they were in my arms,
offered to the eye that would fix them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

28. St. Patrick's Day

Kept on a necklace
woven of particolored

string, the saint's charms
jangled a resonance

the reptiles sensed
their entire length,

achieving without effort what
Frost, in “To Earthward,”

longs for, or claims to:
Total feeling.

Time has trimmed the capacity.
Green beer, green skirts

some inches above the knee,
spontaneous jigging—

these bring a smile
to the aged poet,

sipping his chicory
in the corner. When young,

the sight of a woman
wearing a plastic, buckled hat

thrummed through his unlined skin,
taking him

straight into the sea.

27. Kirk Franklin

I'm much less ambitious than last year. I thought this spring would be easier, but it's not. So many people dear to me say they feel overwhelmed. This is one of those songs that comes on shuffle that I'm always grateful to hear.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

26. Ben Franklin

"When nature gave us tears, she gave us leave to weep."

25. Song...

....um, [placeholder]

Thursday, March 12, 2015

23. Kearsarge Pass Trail



Over the first saddle, a flatter place
under trees blunting sunlight, what
I’d not yet in recollection seen

crossed the path before us, walking with
a quail’s gait, or a pheasant’s,
somewhere in size between the two,

duller in color, brown, gray.
I later learned it was grouse, common
to the Sierra, but new to me then.

In the cool of shade shared
by the pond on our left,
greenly mirroring trees, I said,

Wait, don’t scare it, what is it,
I don’t know what it is.
My boy, over his nausea

and altitude-inflicted headache
by this time, said after I said
what a treat it was to see a thing

for the first time, Maybe if I lived
as long as you and never saw
a bird like that before I’d also be

excited about it, like you are.
The creature fled. I squatted down
to put my pack back on, cool and damp

on my shoulders, and grabbed his, too,
so he could walk unhindered.
We eventually came to Flower Lake.





22. Smaller Meals


I wanna eat smaller meals
I wanna eat less
As I get older each year fewer calories
100 fewer per year
8-ish per month
per week per day per meal
I wanna see my kids on stilts
and join them on stilts
I wanna see see their kids on stilts
People saying, Look your grandkids on stilts,
like a troupe of Russian acrobats!
Your life’s goal achieved!
So few in this world can say such a thing!
Me not saying,
All that excess eating put me in the grave
The party is over
Everyone out of the pool

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

21. To Read a Book


To read a book is easy:
find the page you want
by flipping through it.
A scroll is awkward.





[Source text; written w/ help from my poetry students, as an example of two ways to put pressure on prose: via lineation and making changes in syntax.]

Monday, March 9, 2015

20. "you been swearin' to God..."

19. "you can create amazing things"

Saturday, I heard a pretty great lecture a watched a performance by the New York artist Joshua Clayton, whose work is largely based on experiencing the world through myriad digital tools and the languages that underlie them. At any rate, for my "Sunday" lenten entry, I thought the good word would be from his lecture. He showed the following image:
He told us that he rejected the first clause of the subtitle: "When you start with amazing products." He put a second image up, identical to the first, but this time the clause was blacked out, as if it had been redacted. The message then became "you can create amazing things." The aural banality of this statement disguises how profound it is. (Mercifully, none of the lecture had that studied pieces-clicking-into-place vibe that a TED talk has.) Clayton was using Apple products for his presentation, but I like to think he used them the way John Berger, in Ways of Seeing, describes the geniuses of painting using the commissions they received from powerful people: by subtly challenging, through honest reflection, the image powerful people so often have of themselves.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

18. "We Saw Whales"

The first two songs are still in process. This one was made today, completely, starting around 5pm. A trifle, & pretty rough.




17. Notebook


Saturday, March 7, 2015

16. Roddy


"I think it's time that you went home."
So says Smith to Roddy,
his middle child's new friend.

Everyone knows
what you've done for the least
of His kin you have done for Him.

Little Roddy, who lives
where no one reads or plays card games 
or apparently feeds

people under twelve, must be
one of these least. 
"Or else who is?" Smith asks the corn.

He regards it from a concrete porch,
like a stolid boatman
on an ancient jetty.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Poems Up

Four of my poems are up at Cultural Weekly. Read them here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

15. Swimming.



The current pulled me along the shore,
My wife and children on the beach.
I saw them grow smaller as I swam.
If they watched me I couldn't tell.
The sky lowered.

I bodysurfed a wave. 
Head resurfaced, I looked their way,
Drifting, their bodies and faces indistinct.
I did not wave, I was not drowning,
Sound was muted by waterfed ears.

I tried to swim against current
Back to where I entered the ocean.  
It has great force in it, and I am
Suspended in unconscious will.
I am riding the thing of it

It releases that was welcomed elsewhere,
My family a blur of gray and blue
On a dull yellow strip,
Beautiful and tiny.
My head is a dot.

14. Ends Up at the Rose Parade


 
Compass on the watch points north.
Watch on the tree branch says no.
Branch by the fountain shivers in rage,
or appears to. Rage arrives after years
of curt refusal. (Explanation has not helped.)
Refusal of explanation is a shell you hear
the sea in. Seas in the eye are collapsed on
by the dome of heaven, located where the pick between
wind-up and soft thud points.
The point where the sea makes
inconstant whoosh. I wish
I completed that which I set out
to complete. We set out before first light
with the scent of coffee,
eggs in tinfoil, I half-asleep,
blanketed in the back of the wagon
my father or mother drove
toward Pasadena. All roads lead
to so much solid as dream.