Archive for April 2010

30th Day of National Poetry Month – Villanelle to Mistakes

April 30, 2010


30th Day of National Poetry Month, and my 30th (or so) draft poem.  I have to confess I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow.

This last draft poem is a villanelle.  This one came very readily, actually, as I was busy stewing over the day’s mistakes.

For a detailed explanation of the villanelle form, check here; for a comparison between writing a villanelle and assembling a banana pudding, check here.  For more villanelles, check out the poetry category from the home page.

As always, pauses in my poems are intended to be made only where marked by punctuation (comma, period, etc.) and not at the end of every line.  (I have to say I’m not completely sure of proper punctuation here.)

Finally, thanks so very much for following this blog, reading the drafts and not minding the many–


I make mistakes just writing out my name.
I know the letters, curves, the dotted “i”,
but what was then was then, now’s not the same.

The letter “K”, for instance, no longer tame,
won’t bisect in half with every try.
I make mistakes just writing out my name.

The “u” beginning “us” against the grain,
it wants to sag and limp, become a “y”
what’s then was then, why now is not the same,

why what should be a beam becomes a crane,
not level, but a very uphill climb.
I make mistakes just writing out my name.

How does one make a stand on legs gone lame?
How does one make a song out of a cry?
(When what was then was then, now not the same.)

The green in Spring is yellow, in Fall is flame.
What one can do is endlessly defy
the making of mistakes.  I write my name
as I did then, and then.  What’s now?  What’s same?

29th Day of National Poetry Month – Poem In Your Pocket Sonnet – WhitmanBack

April 29, 2010

Whitmanback, not Greenback (or, as it appears, Rasputinback)

April 29th–the 29th day of National Poetry Month–is not-so-traditionally “poem in your pocket” day, a day when everyone is supposed to carry a folded-up sheet of poetry on their person.  (In my experience, the main people who celebrate the day are students with good English teachers.)   Here’s a draft sonnet in honor of the day:

For Poem In Your Pocket Day

Amazing to think of a poem in
one’s pocket in place of all currency–
cash or gun—a bartered verse to phone in
to your broker, negotiable fluency;
“Song of Myself” read for a credit check,
“Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”
serving for your OB.  For a higher tech
purchase, try a quote from Stephen Hawking–
not quite a poem but close enough—and
for those moments one faces something raw,
when, as they say, the going gets tough, and
life itself seems stuck in maw and craw,
what a gift to unfold one’s own scanned lines
and read in them word of other times.

F0r more on sonnets, look here, and also check out the poetry category from the home page.

28th Day of National Poetry Month – Train of Thought

April 28, 2010

The 28th day of National Poetry Month, and my 28th draft poem.  This one is very much a draft, but, I hope, interesting.

Train of Thought

I am thinking as I sit upon the train
that the person who invented rubberized eggs
should be shot, or at least, forced to eat them, when
a woman with a rubbed-out face
steps onto my car.  She’s been burned badly,
her face segmented into triangular wedges of scar that
web the skin from one ear to the opposite cheekbone.
Hard to read the history
in the hieroglyphics.
An explosion on a stove?
Acid thrown in warning?  Retribution?
Her skin tan, hair dark, ethnicity scratched out, I go
for the acid, knowing that whether or not she is a woman
purposely victimized, there are such women,
damaged for their difference, their efforts, to hold
things in place, women.
She stands, waits, her face turned
so that I can see only an edge of eye (though her eyes
are almost all edge).
I want to give her my seat, but the gesture feels
intrusive, a kind of stare, so do nothing but wonder
about a world in which eggs are turned
into seamless yellow squares, and woman’s faces into
a stitching of scars, and how our minds can hold such things at once–
the trivial, the tragic, the very very tragic–and this City too,
this train.

27th Day of April – “Chalk Milkshake”

April 27, 2010


Here is my 27th draft poem in honor of National Poetry Month.

Chalk Milkshake

I knew that we would be married some day
when he drank down
the chalk milkshake I had made.
It was not really a chalk milkshake.
It was soy.  Powder.
But tasted like sidewalk
sweetened with banana;
a sidewalk freshly poured, or
covered with hopscotch on a sun-dried day,
your pick.
He smiled, after a sip,
a sweet smile shaped like a banana,
and, as I apologized, said,
“no, it’s interesting.”

26th Day of National Poetry Month – “Horizon of the Closed Heart”

April 26, 2010

Closed Heart (Actually, Locked Heart In this Case.)

26th day of National Poetry Month; a busy, social day, in which it was very very hard to come up with a poem draft.  (As followers of this blog know, I’m “celebrating” National Poetry Month, by writing a draft poem a day.  I hope you too are trying some.)

Horizon of the Closed Heart

The horizon of the closed heart is very short.
It is not like sun on water, that orb of glisten
that swallows the sea, and then is swallowed by it.
It is not like snow on mountains,
amazingly there in May, a dust of lost white.
Not even like a tall building edging the sky,
a compass hand to point this way as downtown,
this way up.
It lurks in the belly, pelvis, thighs; darts
into the forehead; but what it mainly does
is bind the chest, a second set of ribs bruised
by all the bumping into, bouncing back,
those reflections of the self turned in on itself,
the self, the self, the self, and all that it wants,
all that it lacks, spread thinly upon a small, mean space.

25th Day of National Poetry Month – “Thin Birthday”

April 25, 2010

Birthday Grapefruit

25th Day of National Poetry Month, and my 25th draft poem of the month.  As those following this blog know, I am writing a draft poem every day this month, and I sincerely hope that some of you are inspired to also try some drafts.

The following poem has a rhyme scheme I just made up;  I suppose it could be considered a modified (and much less musical) terza rima.  The stanzas are three lines, with the first two lines of each stanza rhyming as a couplet, and the third line rhyming with the third line of the next stanza:  AAB, CCB, DDE, FFE, GGH, IIH.  (It makes more sense if you look at the poem, although, because many of the rhymes are slant rhymes, it may not make that much more sense!)

Thin Birthday

On one birthday when she was very thin,
he brought out, after much whispering,
a half-grapefruit set upon a platter.

It was their birthday cake platter–wooden,
painted with blue ribbon swirl, holes put in
careful spaces along its perimeter.

The lone half grapefruit balanced in the place
for cake; a pink candle centering its face
like a faded, twisted cherry, stretched out tall.

He looked at her with such worry, not
(she thought) for her condition, but to please.  What
to give a child stuck in rigid refusal?

She’d disdain cake, she’d groan (he knew), oh Dad.
So, for her to weep, to get so very sad,

was quite unfair.  I wanted to give you

something you would take, he said, as they sat
out in the car and he awkwardly pat
her arm, reaching for something flesh and true.


(This poem was posted some time ago, but I’m linking it today, May 31, 2012 (the day before my birthday in fact) to Imperfect Prose, hosted by Emily Wierenga, who’s publishing a book on anorexia.

Since this original post, the poem has also been published in my book of poetry, “Going on Somewhere,” by Karin Gustafson, available on Amazon.   Check it out!!!!

(As always, all rights reserved.)

24th Day of National Poetry Month – Working Like a Dog Poem

April 25, 2010


[YIKES!  I wrote this last night on April 24th very late at night at a hotel with WIFI and thought I’d published it but apparently it was not published.  Either the hotel wifi cut out, or the dog ate it!  So, it’s a day late, sorry.]

Working Like A Dog

It’s not so apt
to talk of working
like a dog.
Mine sleeps like a log all day.
Working like a malamute,
maybe, that beautiful, dutiful, drudge
who pulls a sledge,
trots, trudges,
understanding both teamwork
and leadership.
My dog understands
She likes the CHEESE job.
She can tell,
by smell, sure,
whenever CHEESE appears,
but also, it seems, by some
combination of fridge door and drawer,
the shifting of legs and knife, and,
of course, the time—it’s late
when I take out the Monterey Jack–
sleep is shaken away,
logginess rolled to the side,
alertness electrifying every matted hair–
they also serve who only stand and wait.

23rd Day of National Poetry Month – Slant Sonnet About 22nd Day of National Poetry Month

April 24, 2010


23rd Day of National Poetry Month! Here is a sonnet written (oddly enough) about the 22nd day of National Poetry Month, that is, April 22, 2010, the day that Obama came to speak to Wall Street (though the poem is not really about Obama so much, or Wall Street, but just that particular day.)

Although the poem is, I suppose, technically a sonnet (it has fourteen lines), it uses slant rhyme and run-on lines rather than ending the lines with a rhyme or slant rhyme. (A slant rhyme is a “not-quite rhyme.”) This gives the poem an assymetry which tonight (I started late!), may be a function of lack of time, and fatigue; however, this assymetry can also be a useful tool as it avoids the cutesiness that can sometimes plague a rhyming poem.

April 22, 2010, NYC (Day of Obama Visit)

The meteor shower that I didn’t see
was seen yesterday, as was the fox outside
our country shed, painted white and faded green.
It ducked down in the spring grass, only orange spied–
orange-red. (Why they call it a red fox.)
But I drove down the FDR so early
I only saw the police and the blank box
of heliopad, waiting for the whirling
blur of polished light that seems to form
around anyone whose picture is taken
often enough. I saw too my cabbie’s worn
shirt collar (grey with black and white flakes of
contrast.) Wife was from Belize, he’d never
been. We talked of that by the dawn East River.

22nd Day of National Poetry Month – Another Kind of Earth Day

April 22, 2010

22nd day of National Poetry Month.  My draft poem of the day honors “Earth Day”.  A little obliquely, I admit.

One Kind of Earth Day

We dug well beyond blisters.
The earth was not like the dirt at home–
yellow, dry, always hard-packed below
its aura of dust.
This was soil; it held ground, sweat
of its own accord, curled wormlike,
clung rootlike, and was dark enough
that we were sure it hid black crude
just beyond the point of our spade.
When it oozed, then pooled,
our certainty turned to disbelief even as,
Eureka, we ran to tell
our grandmother she’d be rich.
As it was, she had to pay
to get the pipe fixed.



This poem was kindly distinguished by a Perfect Poet’s Award  from Promising Poet’s Parking Lot, a very active website supporting the writing of poetry.   Thank you so much, Ava, and all those being PromingPoetsParkingLot Blog.



I am supposed to nominate another poet from the participants.  Frankly, they are all interesting and promising poets, and it’s a very hard choice, which I’d rather not make, but since I’m supposed to do it, I’ll name NefariousX, a very subtle funny poet I discovered this evening.

21st Day of National Poetry Month – The Body Is Not Your Good Dog.

April 21, 2010

Good Dog! (Not Your Body)

The 21st day of National Poetry Month, and I have a terrible, terrible cold.  So far, I’ve managed to spare you the poem devoted to “rhinovirus,” but I found, in trying to write tonight’s draft poem, that I could not stay completely away from the subject of the fickleness of the body.

Note, in reading the draft poem, that pauses are only intended to be taken based on punctuation–commas, semi-colons, periods–and not at the ends of lines (unless punctuated.)

Here, Body

The body is not your good dog.
It may sit, lie down, roll over,
do tricks for food, and seem to love;
but there’s a limit to its Rover

aspect.  It will get sick just when
you tell it not to.  There’s no yanking
on that leash.  It will decay
when you say stay;  there’s no spanking

with a rolled-up newspaper,
not even the Times, which can train
it to heel, to keep
to the right side of that called sane.

It won’t obey you even when
it knows what you desperately want,
when its lesson has been learned
before, again; still, it will vaunt

its own fleshly, furry ways,
taking up all room upon your bed,
refusing to hush when hushed,
and, except when dancing, to be led.