Archive for May 2012

“Cautionary Tale” (Free or Trapped Villanelle?)

May 31, 2012

Cautionary Tale

“It’s hurting me,” she said in half belief
as her hair caught in his passing shirt cuff’s play.
He offered nothing else for her relief
except untangling fingers, smooth smile’s teeth
(his eyes flecked with intelligence and grey).

“It’s hurting me,” she said in half belief
about a life that had grown spare, deplete,
(and cast him as the knight to save the day.)
He offered nothing else if not relief–
opened doors ahead, used credit like a thief.

As he refused her pretended tries to pay,
“it’s hurting me,”  she said in half belief,
(but smiled inside at all that seemed in reach;)
her greater youth would certainly hold sway;
she offered nothing else for his relief.

Game over when he pinned her underneath.
His weight, his age, his wealth, would have their way.
“It’s hurting me,” she said in half belief.
(He offered nothing else for her relief.)


The above is posted for dVerse Poets’ Pub’s “form for all” challenge from Samuel Peralta (a/k/a Semaphore) to write a “free verse poem” in a formal verse form.  Yes, yes, it’s a villanelle.  Yes, mainly what I’ve done is mix up the spacing a bit.  But maybe, perhaps, because it’s a bit of a morality tale, it’s just possible that the repeated lines read a bit more freely and ironically than in a standard villanelle?  Or, are they too caught/entrapped?


Dog, Turtle, Elephant (In Dry Scape) Kind of Day

May 30, 2012


“Short” Villanelle

May 29, 2012



I’m told that feelings hold a set place in the brain
like a house upon a lot, a grave a plot,
but mine short like broken circuits caught in rain,

guttering flashes pulling to the sane,
but not quite magnetized to well-formed thought.
I’m told that feelings hold a set space in the brain,

a location to be mapped just like a vein,
demarked as ‘happy,’ ‘fearful,’ ‘sad’—x marks the spot,
but mine short like broken circuits caught in rain,

misplacing light and darkness, wax and wane,
mistaking good for ill, full well for naught.
I’m told that feelings hold a set space in the brain,

then mine must be a jumbled tangled mane
where what should beam straight cross cramps into knot
and shorts like broken circuits caught in rain,

splintering all that’s whole, all would-be gain,
forcing what surely is into what is not;
I’m told that feelings hold a set space in the brain
but mine short like broken circuits caught in rain.


Sorry – a very stressful time of late, combining with a day of storms, which brings me to post the above slightly depressed villanelle for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, hosted by the extremely generous poet, Claudia Schoenfeld.  I urge you to check out the site.


Liquified Whitman – First Weekend of Summer and More

May 28, 2012

On Memorial Day Weekend

First outdoor pee of the season, infused
with Vitamin B (to ward off
bugs), blends with blades of deep yellow-green
liquefied Whitman,  the
world lush at my feet as I feel, excitedly, that I just
can’t wait.

Later, I think
of the date–of those not far
away who bunch cut flowers in
cut glass to place in other fields of
soft, much-better-tended grass–and my forehead bristles with
thanks, insufficiency, those fields
of soft green grass.
I’m so sorry,
I want to tell them–all who carefully
position those
bouquets, and those who
lay beneath them, and all those too
who have no bouquets.  I’m so sorry
for all that you’ve missed–the glistening,
urgent, buzz of being, this summer, this
bright day. 


Here is an old poem, much re-written and re-posted  for Memorial Day weekend, and especially for the dVerse Poetry prompt hosted by Victoria C. Slotto.  I hope it’s not too weird or disrespectful feeling.  Veterans, and the lost, have  a great place in my emotional landscape, but Memorial Day weekend also always meant for me the glorious beginning of summer and the freedom it brings (if you have private places to be outside.)   An odd mix.

Spotted Wondrous

May 27, 2012


Some times the wondrous is spotted,
rather than spotted.
Take care to stumble ONTO it,
rather than ON TOP of it, for the wondrous
is fragile, and also, sometimes,
half asleep.


May 26, 2012



The victim of a freak
accident there, I don’t much care
for a fun fair, carnival–anywhere
with a ride that whirls and rockets
astride grease-black blur-blink sockets.  Things–
meaning me (parts of)–get caught in such
pockets, which do not
stay shut, and
in the midst of their whipped
whizz, the divide
between the wall-eyed
guy who, biceps slack-smudged, leans
against the gears
and the person who trusts that their
particular life will be all-good, all-safe, all-
rips away, victim
of a freak accident,
and I am morphed from sleek-
luck kid to human marked by strange
tight-ropey wounds that may be covered
by a wrap-around of hair or sleeve,
make-up or tattoo, but still,
it’s now just me and you, babe,
me and you.


The above is my offering for dVerse Poets Pub Poetics prompt hosted by the wonderful Claudia Schoenfeld about fun fairs.   A strange poem, I know. I was, in fact, injured at such a place many years ago, so it’s a bit hard for me to look at them with a open mind!  But for all kinds of poems prompted by the subject, check out dVerse. 

And have a wonderful weekend. 

“On Closure When Children Have Been Lost” (Can’t get them out of my mind)

May 25, 2012

On Closure When Children Have Been Lost

It’s only when I see the block letters bruising
the front page: “Etan:
Choked, Bagged, Dumped” that I
realize how I’ve imagined Gestapo
cuddling their dogs; Hitler
as a vegetarian; those barren Argentine
generals who seemingly loved the
children whose actual parents they
disappeared–how my mind has tried, in
secret even from itself,
to imagine a person deranged, evil,
but somehow kindly to kids, stealing Etan and all those other
missing children,
and keeping them
brainwashed perhaps and eating
pasty foods by the crate – there’s such
a crowd–but

Even as another part of my brain
knows it doesn’t work like that (Elizabeth
), still it strives (those unkindly grey cellar years)
for a saving grace, silver
lining, guardian angel (but at least she’s still
God; to find,
like Abraham, that suffering is but
a test in which a
passing grade is possible, complete with gold
stars and one’s child

Not random pain, not unredeemed
Not pain compounded by the guilt and fear that it
was not me
this time, not
mine, oh please,
not ever.

Please —
For even as guardian angel
turns gargoyle stone, the brain, roiling, holds
to what it can, prays
on–now that the boy is okay wherever he is,
in whatever realm, form, or formlessness.


Sorry to followers of this blog, to be so grim.  It is hard here in New York (especially if, like me, you have lived downtown for many years) to not be thinking of the recent developments in the Etan Patz case, sending prayers to Etan’s parents.

“Updates on Etan Patz” (Streaming Prose Poem)

May 24, 2012


Updates on Etan Patz

All day I return to it – the stark print underlined in red like a stripped throat;
the picture, if I click–the face that seems all hair, that soft fine down
that so often heads young kids, thin even as mop, like knob of joint on child bone–

Throat catches in stairwell seen through glass, a square in thick paint door, how I remember them in Soho, all those old factories huge as elephants, stairs wrinkled/stretched/collapsed like so many trunks; no, throats; outlined in black-cracked red the squares of linoleum, glass gridded as a crossword, only mute, ruffs of papers stuffed around the knobs, calligraphy like throats–what’s black and white and re(a)d all over?  Not newspaper, but Chinese menus–

Only online today, it’s underlined in red with slight-toothed grin, cheeks to be grown into, the same photo so many years we saw on the blue/red torso of milk, only then the black/white/grey of blow-up, Etan Patz, your sweet face blurred still hard to swallow–

later, my own–don’t you ever –the baker’s near-bare shelves mid-afternoons, Italian breadcrumbs a host of Hansels–

Even speak – don’t you ever-

Making sure–again, again–well, if you have to speak, yes, you can be polite, but–the Portuguese greengrocer stubbled–but you get nervous you go into–grouch if you touched a grape but would help I hope/think/pray–

Joe’s pizza, black shined hair, all thumbs still on the young ones–

Not car, not alley, not down stairs–scream if you have to

Rocco’s waitresses–their tight breasts squeezed in uniforms like nurses administering cannoli–they would help you, sure–with beveled glass–

He strangled Etan, the man says now, and put him–

he strangled him, he says–

if you get scared

and put him

don’t you ever

in a box.

You just go into

A carton on the counter next to small gnome fridge–

his black and white face greyed
as droplets–no A/C on fifth floor walk-up–slide
like tears down its red-waxed sides–

I click again, again; throat hurts.


This draft poem written this evening for dVerse Poets Pub “Meeting the Bar” prompt on “stream of consciousness” writing, hosted by the wonderful Victoria C. Slotto.  For those who get by email, I’ve changed the end since posting. 

A part of me really hesitates to post anything about Etan Patz.  I feel such sorrow for his family;  I would hate to add to their pain in any way or to seem to be voyeuristic or opportunistic.  I really hope that my sympathy comes through and that they may feel some sense of support in so many people caring for them and Etan.  (I also hope that the media leave them alone.)

“Swoop” (Chagall Clown)

May 23, 2012

The Circus With the Yellow Clown, 1967, Marc Chagall


Some have the trick of swoop; they loop-de-loop
into love; even their arc of catching/being caught trapezes, their leaping
release of grip an elegant show, their hold never easing
over their own sweet selves.

Others fall hard–like clowns–flat
on their prat, splat–
no matter their particular grace, they ace
bumble; fumbling humbly with their offer
of all they are.  (All–
when less might be

Their swoop occurs in
eyelash–the blink, the wish, the
vow–the wobble
of heartbeat.

And when they leap–the clownish–
their untethered arc ends in an
ignominious tub–too much splash
for tears, too little
to be blue.

(He loved her–it was as simple
and hopeless as that.)


The above is my offering for The Mag – a blog hosted by Tess Kincaid.  Tess puts up an image each week as a writing prompt.   Check it out.

And while you are checking things, take a look at my books!   Children’s counting book 1 Mississippi -for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms.  Or, if you in the mood for something older, check out Going on Somewhere, poetry, and Nose Dive, escapist fluff.

“The Hunger Artist” – Unread Kafka Her Mentor

May 22, 2012


The Hunger Artist


She putties potatoes/eggs/whatever
around her plate, constructing a trompe l’oeil
of savor, tinting flavor
with a spectrum of petite packages – fake sugars  (pastels),
cheap mustard (sallow yellow), ketchup (cadmium)–a palette
that abstracts a meal from anything, or
nothing, frames nibble.

So, she molds herself, flattening
with fingers a fluted
throat, bas-relief of belly, stilled life portrait
that refuses to be titled help me.


She has not read Kafka, but re-enacts
the self-expression of
repression, metier of life/death, her wont: I won’t/I won’t/I won’t.

Or too like the earlier Brunelleschi, working out
perspective by numbers, the intersection of
calories, weight,
narrowing to
a single
vanishing point.

Lettuce pray.


You can self-sculpt flesh
but carved bone is weakened (even when
buttressed by concrete will.)  A
mighty fortress is
my will
, hums
the hunger artist from
the ramparts
of rib cathedral.
Help me, murmurs the animal
base of brain, only, since it holds no
language center, the words transubstantiate to
I won’t.


The patina depicts
a picky picky
no no no, while within the
figurine –  so much easier to manage a life
that can be pocketed–hallowed emptiness
aches to please.


The above is my draft offering for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night and also for Imperfect Prose.   I urge all interested in reading and writing to check out these sites.  

Crib notes – Franz Kafka wrote a great story called “The Hunger Artist” about an artist who specialized in fasting; Brunelleschi was the Renaissance architect/sculptor/mathematician who was one of the principal developers of linear perspective.