Tuesday, September 29, 2009


That subject line is not the title and does not imply a metaphor.


Thick as a kiss or a jerk
and orbiting that place
where it is not,
it carries its empty plexus
into your belly
in shove after shove
of broken sweetness.

A tumble of auburn crumbs,
a pouf of powder,
a flirt after the fact
when it has fallen
into leaden memory
of that mindless tryst
between bed and desk.


I've failed, I've failed, blah blah blah. I can flagellate myself over my absence, or I can acknowledge it and move on.

Moving on...this is draft 1.5. Draft 1 was written in the past 10 minutes or so.


On the side of St. Matthew's where there is no stained glass,
only a shortcut for a lunchtime fix, of one kind or another,
I see the man in plaid flannel who asks me,
twice, for change.

He is a piece of creation, no more or less than
that weed, unrooted, clenched on the alley brick,
but I deny my money for fear of opening my purse.
I say "Sorry" and make my face say the same,
after a quick rehearsal in my mind. I am sorry.
I do not say "God bless you."
This is on me. Why make him hate God?

I mull over going back, after reaching safety
like a child at tag at his temporary home. I do not
go back this time. This willfulness is grace,
however ungraceful/ That I can walk, and speak,
and sit at my Dell fixing grammar for dollars
or typing this poem on the clock.
Maybe I should rejoice this grace. I do not care to.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quick one

I'm writing a good bit; it's getting here that's the problem. Here's one as a sort of token.

Traveler’s Checklist

Tight rolls of stores in the satchel,
chosen for light. Dark covers
to ward against dirt and wear,
all the living parts scrubbed and draped.
Soft support for making tracks.
Loose bands to bind. Clean lenses,
clear eyes, uptilted chin
to kiss the new day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Draft horse

This is one I scribbled in the car somewhere on Massachusetts Avenue NW. I just made a few changes, partly based on my inability to read a good bit of my own scrawl. It's nowhere near "finished"--maybe not even enough to call a draft.


O Toni! It was under
your hat all along
and on the tip of
the bitten-off glove
the bright bird you wore
to impress her

Your bright companion has your love
10 chunks of your young hopes
and your heart in
your hat and

wound in your half-caste
java hair
for safety
your young banned dreams

Another from yesterday

I wrote some of these down while having dinner between work and choir practice. I did not have tepid soup.

Misery is a tepid soup that yet sustains,
cruel gruel and not-quite-cold comfort.
Familiar as a mole, or the farting cat
who sleeps nightly on your chest,
you can't chase it because it'll double back,
dog you, lick your heels
with its version of a kiss. You've worn
the shape of your body into these jeans,
and even as they tear, you feel
their rough grasp on your thighs.

That "rough" is definitely not the right word. I have tried "stiff" and "cold" and "cool" and none is right. I want that feeling (and sound) of a tough fabric that gives but is not entirely relaxed, that sort of holds you together even though it's not a cuddly embrace.

I guess I haven't been directed

I've been doing some writing, but I haven't gotten it onto the blog. I'll try to do better.

Arcane Diner (first draft)

The sign of the ketchup,
bottle upended on bottle,
means renewal by a kiss. Vinyl
is eternal. Whose jawbone
made that coffee cup?
Its pores are yours, a hard thing
that stains and weeps
even as course after course of
paper-capped kids rush to make
everything look clean.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I'm sorry. I'm having some kind of posting problems tonight--I can't get this damn poem to single-space to save my life. The hell with it. At least I wrote it, even though it sucks. Grrrr.


Attractive Nuisance


He said filling in the pond

would improve the drainage,

would keep the mosquitoes down.

What did I know?

He was the man.

When it was done, we had

a great gray plain, suitable for foursquare

or hopscotch. Perhaps a place to park

his motorcycle, if he hadn’t taken it.

When nature reclaims this tract,

when this empty house and its kin

are gone, will some tortoise wander back,

looking for water? Will some blind osprey,

following tradition,

dive into the still, hard lake?

Friday, September 4, 2009

RIP, Brett and Charles

I'm struggling with words here--worse, struggling with sentences. My structures are dull.

I decided to play MadLibs/Match Game by taking sentences found on nearby bits of writing and changing out many of the words. Here's a template.

The NOUN was first PAST VERB PREPOSITION a ADJECTIVE NOUN with SUBSTANCE. From the NOUN we VERB, we could not BLANK the BLANK. The NOUN does not seem to BLANK. PLURAL NOUN of the SUPERLATIVE NOUN harbor many PLURAL NOUN. We could not BLANK the BLANK. Be sure the BLANK is closed. Be sure you BLANK before you BLANK.

I'm gonna work a few variations on this one and see whether it gets the juices flowing.

The sulfur was first drunk from a silver goblet with gauze. From the bucket we carried, we could not propagate the marrow. The basin does not seem to dance. Carillons of the highest tones harbor many murders. We could not anticipate the sorrow. Be sure the lock is closed. Be sure you speak before you walk.

The fall was first found under a green flask with Rohypnol. From the chance we tattled, we could not deliver the goods. The door does not seem to hear. Maenads of the bluest nation harbor many cups. We could not force the gate. Be sure the wrist is closed. Be sure you gallop before you swoon.

By the time I started on the third one, I'd switched out "closed" for any adjective/past-tense verb I wanted.

The capsule was first enchanted using a pocket compass with bravado. From the marshmallow we nosed, we could not rake the missile. The missal does not seem to break. Divers of the most sacred drum harbor many handles. We could not hush the scarab. Be sure the skein is buried. Be sure you name before you swallow.

The bell was first scratched with a broken spoon with eyes. From the hair we ruffled, we could not see the sea. The cat does not seem to miss. Umbrellas of the tallest timbers harbor many fungoes. We could not paste the moon. Be sure the lathe is limber. Be sure you melt before you burn.

One more, and then I'm home to ruminate.

The dress was first fried using a summer day with raisins. From the mess we made, we could not calculate the pitfall. The crutch does not seem to budge. Diadems of the bleakest chanteuse harbor many flies. We could not make the gravestone. Be sure the tide is closed. Be sure you overturn before you tumble.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

No, really--I'm a very happy person


Atop the spinet she left the score,
one word underlined in red,
for the cops:

glissando, too pretty a sound
for the deep fall, unhesitating.
from the ledge. That mark

she left, emphatic, echoed its coda.
Dog-ears drew back, children stammered
as they passed. It was an ugly effort,

inferior to her schoolgirl debut.
That crank from the Times,
shameless: She just went downhill.

That break, midface,
a death by misadventure
he called a smile.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Not quitting my day job


A thirty-year-old man was brought to us
from the field hospital three days after
his platoon, on patrol, drove over
an improvised explosive device (Figure 1).
Samples were taken, and clinical doses
of drugs were delivered to his mouth and,
later, when dehydration set in, his veins.

Cultures were run in three separate laboratories
far from the field. Studies revealed
a new variety of sporulating fungus.
Death calls to life, and in the empty places
the authors found these flowers,
framed in slender dishes (Figure 2).

These were assayed and identified as
beauty that could not find a root
in metal and therefore yearned sunward
from the place he kept his wallet, the place
his savior bled, the place he waved goodbye.

Identification came too late for antifungal measures.
His family requested palliative treatment.
The isolate, a member of the order Mucorales,
was named for the field.

Figure 1. An IED.

Figure 2. Flowers are better than bullets.

Figure 3. A roadside in Kabul.

A room

Tonight I watched YouTube footage of Sandy Denny that I'd never seen before. Her ring and her slender bangle on her wrist as she played "The North Star Grassman." Her hair, so blonde, a curtain across her face. Her voice a big, rich flag unfurled; her body slightly tense through the shoulders.

A first draft. I got out of bed to write it. Rob is worried that I am thus losing sleep.

Glove Box

I smell the blue cotton
of your dress, taste your smoke,
touch the red hairs of the dog

in that other room behind the sheets
in that other place my copy lurks

a demi-me, a portion, what little soul
will slip through the barrier

a pair of hands, a pair of eyes,
some half a mind, heart split
as, elbows bent,

I search the room spied
through the dim glass
with only music to bind us

they say you can never enter a room
without taking something
without leaving something

and I wonder what dust of my skin
I leave on your body
as I pull back

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Radiator (draft 1.5)


She crouches on the cold seat
and picks at the milky-green flakes.
Each day, the land expands,
acre by lead acre. It never matches
the maps on the school globe, so she knows
it is a place she’s made
on this hard planet,
this quadruple arch, sometimes too hot
to touch, usually chilly, always with
that bird’s head, beak down, crown pointing
toward the door.

A valve, with the paint
of countless careless landlords
frozen into a beak.
She knows what it is, but she makes it
that creature that carries worlds
on its hard back, a bird that might even
break the pipes and fly. That sad fist
of a girl, making voids into continents
while she pees.

Here goes nothing

I've been dog-belly low for a long while, as far as poetry is concerned. The only way to pull myself up is to do stuff, as far as I can see. So I'm back here for another workout.

I'll post today's poem later today. I wrote it in my head in the car. Does that sound right? ("As opposed to my head in the house"?) Oh, jeez, I guess this editing job is affecting my sense of freedom as a writer. I've got to find balance somewhere, somehow.