Archive for September 2014

Eos At The Never-End

September 30, 2014


Eos At the Never-End

She took
to locking him in a room.
She took
to rolling rugs against the jamb.
She took no one
into her confidence,
not the sons of her womb,
the sons she’d won
by taking him,
then beautiful.

She, who gave birth to herself
each day anew;
she, who gave birth
to each day anew;
could do nothing–
against the decay
of his loved limbs,
the wither of his skin,
nor yet against
the forestalling of
the dust of him.

She took to polishing
burnishing the door’s brass handle
until it fretted into the flute
of an icon’s
pilgrim-palmed foot,
the metal worn to its marrow
by eons’ pleas.

She hummed, polishing,
as if dusting thin air,
but truly to guard against
the threadbaring
of the rolled rugs, their insufficient
for she could not bear to hear
his gristled babble,
his dried tongue,
the chirping
of chapped bones.

Oh how she ached, when there;
oh how she hurt, when apart;
but still she could not enter,
not even in those dark hours
when oblivion corralled
her pale chariot,
and rose was a shade
not imaginable.
not then.


Here’s a sort of poem for dVerse Poets Pub’s poetics prompt, hosted by Abhra Pal, to write a poem arising out of myth.  I have resorted to the myth of Eos (the Goddess of the Dawn) and Tithonus, the human lover she captured, who, upon her request to Zeus, was granted the boon of immortality.  Eos forgot, however, to request that Tithonus also be granted endless youth; thus he was doomed to live forever, growing older and older.  There are numerous versions of the myth–in some Tithonus becomes so old and parched that he turns into a cricket; in others, he simply becomes very very old (and I guess, senile) and Eos locks him away in a room so that she does not have to hear his feeble babbling. 

The above is a photo (supposedly in the public domain) of  Eos and her son (by Tithonus) named Memnon, slain in the Trojan War.  (So, it’s not Tithonus–too young–but a beautiful figure.)  This is from an Attic red-figure cup, ca. 490-480 BC, signed by Douris (painter) and Kalliades (potter).  It is sometimes called the “Memnon Pietà.”   (It’s in the Louvre Museum. No copyright infringement intended.) 

PS this has been edited since first posting;  one edit was done on the iPhone and left out a word!  But I think I’ve fixed that now.

Fleeting (September 2014, NYC)

September 29, 2014

An old photo! It was so much pinker than this today, and cloudy, and warm!

Fleeting (September 2014, NYC)

A dawn today more neon than dusk
the pink deepened by cloud cover, pinker than a painting sold
by a tourist’s seaside, oranger than sherbet, oranger even
than a distant
and, to the east, two
flashes, ongoing brightnesses more still
than a morning star
and its mirror–
helicopters, I’m guessing, or some machine
that balances on air, and my mind’s map places them
above the U.N., somewhere over
the FDR Drive, which pricks my wonder
at the beauty of this city,
not because I don’t like the U.N., but because I don’t like
the need for sentinels in the sky,
no matter how starlike.

And I was thinking all night, separately,
about the word careen–how it might describe
that day I rode with you
in the back of an ambulance, my back pushed
against its refrigerator walls, speeding along
that same FDR, how
my one hand gripped
what it could
while the other lay so lightly
across your forehead,
how the EMT called you sir
as he asked questions to keep you with us,
how I tried to croon quietly, even
chat, beneath the overhead scream,
maybe about the weather–
another heat wave–but what really careened
was all the fear I kept tamped down
below the lid of my voice box, my murmur soft
as a mown lawn, and I keep thinking now that fear
is something like magma
inside a globe, below the (relatively) smooth crust
of sea, sand, field,
fervid and spasming,
and no wonder
we call the Earth a good mother, the way she keeps it stowed
below her countenance mostly
except, you know, when it’s simply
too much and she cracks badly, and her face
breaks, her shoulders
shake, and everyone else
gets upset too–

Now, the sky clouds completely, pinks greyed–
those in-between times
fleeting—and the helicopters become
mere blips in the overcast–I have to squint to find
their beacons–and the point of all this–
and I mean–ALL this–is somehow
to hold on, get through
it, do
your best.


A very drafty poem–or something–for With Real Toads Open LInk Night–I am in Manhattan and so sorry that I did not take a picture this morning of the truly beautiful dawn.   Sorry also for the length of this–just written in between things, and not enough edited, as has been an issue lately.


September 28, 2014



They were like peepholes into
a glacial cave; they were like
cabochon jewels mounted one
upon another; the cataract eyes
the sodas slid from, garnets
of melt, yet still so cold the bottles were hard to hold
as we stood there– had to–
to drink them, then return,
sliding each into a chipped
wooden rack

slatted against
the white tiled glare of gas stations
that were themselves shaped, curved
like the cars, flat-topped
like the drivers, hubbed
with burnish–it all comes up
as I sit here trying to meditate away
the sadness, waiting for you,
who packs to go back, while me, I’m staying on,
only sitting in the car to avoid
another ticket, till, as I connect
with the breath, my nose is permeated
with the smell of gasoline, the guy in front, and so sad,
so sad (even though it’s only
a few more days), so sad
that I try to find in that smell
some release–the magic of
way back once
when it was an inhalation both heady
and thumb-smudged, dangerous, male,
oil-creased–a scent backdropped with levitations
of the dark and tubular–

the regular mechanical as reliably mysterious
as the thick lips of glass that circled
those swallows of freeze we
shivered down, never dreaming those bottles built
for re-fills would some day be far
beyond our grasp–

as will be
this moment I wait in,
this moment in which I am so sad
that you are going,
this moment that will not come back, no matter how

I might miss it–


Poem of sorts for Margaret Bednar’s post “Play it Again, Sam” on With Real Toads.  Margaret brings back older prompts.  I am returning here to Ella’s prompt about writing something that comes up after sitting quietly, and also Shay’s (Fireblossom) about magic. 

Also posting belatedly to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.


September 27, 2014



It was worse than embarrassing.  It had been bad enough
when he was little, and, now, when they said to him==”hey, you twelve now, boy, almost a man, not
a little bitty baby,”–he wanted to bite it off, sling it onto the highway, cast it into some woods, lose it anywhere there were trucks, trash, tangle. It just wasn’t

something a boy did–stick his tongue out–

and he did it all the time when he was drawing, really just concentrating on anything only that was mainly drawing, like he wanted to just reach out and give whatever he drew

a taste–

Only it didn’t look like that, it just looked

stupid, and so, as he began the hull, he tried to press his lips into a seam, the pencil curving, cause it was

boats he liked to draw mainly–old clipper ships with sails, or else

destroyers–he’d seen them in the library but mainly copied from

a catalogue they’d gotten, wrong-address–

the clipper ships built

in bottles, which seemed to him impossible, bottles something they just threw in the heap out back, a toss of crackling

into cracked, and the destroyer which the catalog said

weighed paper.  He could not understand why someone would want

to weigh paper, but didn’t worry about that part, ’cause what caught him was

that it was ” “just perfect for

that nautical guy

in your household.”

and even though he knew “nautical” had something to do with the sea and maybe even

boats, he pronounced it “now–oo–tical,” in his head, and it always made him think that the guy the destroyer would be just perfect for was someone who got everything right now-oo, and, he thought,

looking at the battleship, that in their house that would be his grandpa though he couldn’t actually imagine him saying “right now–oo,” which sounded like a howl, and may even kind of a joke, while when his grandpa wanted something it was kind of

a sharp right now, sort of like what he imagined to be the crinkles in

a crisp sea, or what they talked about in books
as the slap of the waves, or the cuts he imagined that
destroyer might make

through water, or a broken

bottle, his face even looking

like a destroyer, the thick grey eyebrows like

the bridge, the eyes, those gun tubes, his nose, beaked, prowed–

Which is when he remembered to check, lifting his pencil point towards his lips, and tasting

the graphite.

And cursed himself, using every word he did know how
to pronounce, and opened his mouth widely, though not so widely someone could actually see him opening it, and shut his mouth tight, and then tried to pretend that he was just yawning, in case someone could see, though he was as wired inside

as a straining rope, cause when he pulled his tongue back in his mouth, it burned, touching his pallet,

and after a minute he couldn’t help but try to press it against his teeth, anything, as if teeth

were comforters–

Then shook his head, wiping his pencil hand over the moistness, sweat, and, when he started to draw again, tried to hint at the outline of the planks on the clipper’s side, at the rounding of the wood that shinnied up the mast’s climb,  trying to make something solid

with shading, feeling all along the push of the tongue at his teeth,

though he hated feeling that, thinking of that, and when he got to the top of the mast, and poured himself into
the crow’s nest, he realized it had slid forward and out again, just a little, but furious, he bit it,

and to be honest, he tried not to bite it hard because

it was already so sore, and because

a part of him could not really believe that learning soreness would teach him

to keep it in its place; if learning soreness

kept it in its place, it would have a hide-out in

his stomach by now, maybe even

his big toe,

and he tried hard to laugh at that, the picture of tongue in toe, when it panged, and then, when it kept panging, to think of the pain as pencil points, dotting the heads of birds in his ship’s sky, flipping out their wing spans, and when the pain seemed like

it would not quiet, he tried to picture his mouth like the mouth of Jonah’s fish, which could keep Jonah inside without even hurting him

and then tried, thinking of that not-hurting, to push through
to the sails, his favorite parts, the way they let his pencil capture winds and sky and movement, and he drew their curves carefully, trying to imagine a tongue stuck in his toe, but never somehow the curves of his own cheeks, the slope down to his lips, the breathe stowed in his tight, bent, chest.


Here’s a draft something for Herotomost’s prompt on With Real Toads.  Herotomost said it could be anything inspired by a truth seen from a twelve=year old’s eyes=Herotomost creates a great picture of his own twelve-year old in a tangle of jungle, somehow making me imagine this one, and some little truth there–

Sorry for the length–and the picture is also not exactly right, not a clipper but something from NYC (where I am right now.) 

Also, I am not very good at posting sidebar pictures, but I wanted to let you know my new book Nice, written in part from a child’s perspective, is out.  Check it out!  Buy it!  (It’s cheap.)  I would be happy to get one to anyone interested in reviewing!  Thanks.  

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover




What I Was Trying To Write

September 22, 2014


What I was trying to write

I was trying to write a poem about war.

I was trying to describe
how we are blinded
by certain adherences, whether to faith
or jingo,
how they drag us, one-eyed, into
a Cyclops slog–

how then, I wrote,
we lid our cribbed gaze
in righteousness,
let pride steel love,
train out any tender bend
towards anguish’s white flags, the sclera of
the vanquished (or, just, the scared),
temper mettle
to sword–

then stopped, partly because
I had to look up sclera–it means
the whites of eyes–but more because
I wanted to be clear, not obscure
with slant convolution–

because when I wrote the “training out
of tender bend,” I specifically pictured, men,
ours, so young their skin
shows individual bristles–I think somehow
of piglets but in the sweet sense, long-lashed and
rather soft
behind the neck–
but the necks of these poor men are thickened by
what they’ve learned
to carry; armored as tanks,
they force some dirt-gouted door,
striding cartridges
into a crouch of women, men, folded up
as cranes, bird bones pushed
against creased pulses;

and when I wrote
of “anguish’s white flags,” I saw specifically
the whites of eyes,
the whites of raised palms, the white lines
on the back-sides
of knuckles, and

the soldiers shout a foreign bark
they think means “where?”
or maybe, if it blares on,
“we don’t want to hurt you, just
to search,” but the sounds are din
to the crouched
as if the voices cried for “lobster” in the midst of a desert, and they are
in the midst of the desert,
and the triggered hands look
like great claws,
and the skin that gapes through gaps
in the camo, red,
and the women, their eye whites
flickering now like a terrible game
of shadow against a wall, begin to wail,
and the young solders want
to whale them,
thinking why in the fuck do these people
we’re trying to help keep fucking
with us,
and wish they could kick
something, their boots
so weighted, and their mettle–that is
who they are truly–flaming into something
they can’t temper, and plaster sprays,
cloth tosses, and goats shit skittering,
and the whites of eyes mouth please or no or
something more
unspeakable, and the men hate,
and the soldiers hate,
and the women maybe hate too, left
with nothing, and how
one wonders does this solve
very much.

Which is what I wanted to write, and without homonym,
because no words actually sound
like what war means.


Here’s a poem of sorts.  Draft.  I don’t know about the basic frame.  But it started out with Grapeling’s (M’s) “get listed” prompt on With Real Toads, in which he suggested writing a poem based upon words chosen from the Art of War.  I wrote a poem for that prompt, but deleted the italicized stanza at the last moment before posting.  Then later showed to M who expressed interest, and in response–thanks, M–I came up with this. 

I also want to acknowledge Kerry O’ Connor’s wonderful poem “A Poem Is No Place,” which I read recently and which also has to do with the uses of poetry.  

Am linking to With Real Toads open link night.  Sorry for the length and profanity. 

And the picture is one that I took the other day that doesn’t really have much to do with this poem, but am using because of the different frames. 

The Young

September 21, 2014


The Young

How the young curl into themselves
like ferns in early spring,
hard-wired to hold their still-gyred beings,
clasp encircled
by own surfaces,
until, time, as it surely will,
fiddles with heads and bodies–

and, truly, how wondrous is
the unwinding–
fronds loosening like the skin limbs stretch
to encompass,
spores gloriously exposed (if, only
on the undersides),
leaves teething
to get a better bite
of sun
and rainfall–

Terrifying, though, when winds spin
their expanse, when cold
and they can’t coil back
to those clutched self-centers–


Here’s a sort of poem, written under the influence of Karin Boye, a Swedish poet, who is the subject of a prompt by Bjorn Rydberg  on With Real Toads.

A couple of process notes–the picture (mine) is of fiddlehead ferns–those are the ones I had in mind, which have that name in the U.S. due to the spiraled shape in early spring.  Also, one word that troubles me is “clasp” in the first stanza that had been  “small fists,” but small fists seemed to sort limit the poem to infants.  If anyone has any thoughts on these words, I’m happy to hear them.

Angkor What?

September 19, 2014


Angkor What?

If I could be what I am not,
I’d be someone who’d visited Angkor Wat
who, sitting ‘neath the towers Khmer,
found some bliss beyond repair.

But I am not what I am not
and have never been to Angkor Wat,
and bliss is something I’ve been known
to fix until it starts to groan.

So I must face myself as is–
that is myself with a face like this,
that grins, scowls, frowns (most unlike Buddha)
and is always stuck in would’a, should’a.

But this I tell you–I tell you what–
if we never get to Angkor Wat,
some kind of bliss we still have got
though, sure, it sometimes may get mired
in suffering, you know, and desire–
(thank God)–

Whenever you sit just right there
though you are not a tower Khmer
my Dharma still becomes quite clear
to be to be to be right here.

As Bodhisattva, I may be jumpy
and this Nirvana may be lumpy
but I will take it any time
as long as, anchor, you, are mine.


Here’s a sort of nonsense poem for Tony Maud’s terrific prompt on dVerse Poets Pub.  Angkor Wat (pronounced like the English word “what” ) is an ancient Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia, one of the wonders of the world.  And I’ve never been there!  (Though long wanted to go, always finding the Khmer buddhas particularly beautiful.)

Also, the above was supposed to be a free stock image of Angkor Wat–I’m not sure how the little elephant got in there though. 

PS_-this has been edited since first posting.


September 18, 2014



The treachery of ardor
is an arrow in the eye
and in the bloody gush
of I-mush and you-mush,
vision schisms to scheme,
where we are only seen
in the cross-hairs of each
other’s cyclops’ glares.

One weeps,
but the salt seeps always
into recapture,
tears wrung out and again,
as if pain were a bucket,
as if pain could be filled up
to its top
then dropped in some deep well
to let us be well.

We fight
as if war could fill that bucket up
but fast
(with something other
than ash)
then full (we might say, won)
let us be done.

But actions, unlike flesh,
do not turn to dust before
we even turn around;
and an eye once lost
is rarely found
in not-looking.


A poem of sorts for the prompt of a word list put together by the wonderful Grapeling on With Real Toads.  Yes, it’s a draft–in the moment before posting I cut out an eight line stanza–maybe the best stanza, but it seemed to just make the poem go on too long.   

Grapeling- Michael–expressed interest in the removed verse so I put it below–it was a second verse and this was one of a few iterations, maybe not the best, but what I took out last minute–sclera means whites of eyes. 

We lid our cribbed gaze
in righteousness,
let pride steel love,
train out any tender bend
towards anguish’s white flags, the sclera of
the vanquished (or simply the scared),
temper mettle
to sword.

Also, please do check out my new book, Nice, available in paper and kindle.  Please also check out my old books, Nose Dive (humorous novel), Going on Somewhere (Poetry), and 1 Mississippi (Elephants!)   They are all pretty cheaply available (most on Kindle for 99 cents, but I am happy to send a free copy to anyone willing to review on Amazon or Kindle–and the review does not even have to be pre-vetted!

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover

September 2014

September 14, 2014


September 2014

On this fall porch noon,
as dark shutters are shuffled in and out
for repainting, and the farther world
reshuffles wars I try not
to read about,
the little bat remembers
a host of slats where he’s packed
his storm-cloud self,

till his wooden shield swoops dayward, shutter
carted away, and he, swung, sweeps the air
like a winged wind,
spanned panic banging against brightness
but not quite the screen door,
till he sites himself, unsighted, on a small spare strip leaning
wall to floor, the wood
that grey-as-a-battleship he knows
so well.

Slipping his quiver behind its two-inch breadth,
side-sliding his cling
into its stripe of shadow, he tries again
to roost.

I confess to not much liking
to, when they are near,
swooping fearfully, sometimes able
to pack my whole self under a low table or behind
a locked door,
but now I stop my sweeping
of the porch, filled with such fellow feeling
for his upside-down tremor,
that I call for help for him
and not for me,
and wait there with him
till relief comes with a soft net,
taking only a few steps back
into the unblinkered blue.

For Grace’s prompt about September remembering on With Real Toads.   A bat did hide behind that little piece of wood after his shutter was moved away.  (I know I call almost all poems drafts, but I truly do feel very uncertain about the ending–and beginning–ha!–of this one.)

Also, sorry for the repeated plug, but my new book, Nice, is at last available in paper and on kindle–only 99 cents.  It is an interesting book, especially for someone wanting to go back to, or know more about, 1968.

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover


Since I’m in plug mode (!), please also check out my other books, Nose Dive (humorous novel), Going on Somewhere (Poetry), and 1 Mississippi (Elephants!)


Bearing Up

September 12, 2014


Bearing Up

She shuffled through life
like a bear wearing shoes,
which is not to say
that she scratched herself
or would take any honey
who would have her,
and, honestly, “hirsute” could only truly describe
her underarms,
or when spelled differently, her work clothes–

but it does mean that she shied away
from most humans
(though not, typically, their food)
and from conflict too
except when her young were near any line of attack, when she would become as ferocious as–
well, you know–

It also explains why she wore socks always,
even in bed, her feet not as furred
as her predilections, and why she could stand no chair long–
bears preferring even a stump to a straight-back–

Shoes aren’t great for bears, but were, you know, manageable
when the kids, cubs,
a mother willing to put up with all kinds of difficulty–
snout full of ants,
the sacrifice of salmon,
even pumps–
for the sake of family time in the den,
or, better, the dew of those summer nights
when they lay together in a flattened corn field,
cubs cradled in the warm and slightly hirsute hollows
of her arms,
staring up at their starred totems–

But it also explains the hobble,
after the cubs had grown away,
and the shoes felt always too big,
or too little,
rubbing her slashed pads, the claws
curling inwards, some
wrong way.

It’s true that there were other bears around–
wolves, mammals, poultry too—
even some very cold fish, all also jammed
into shoe leather–but not being a social creature,
she did not interact with them, except to startle
at their nearby heel clicks
down city walks and tiles, and to wonder, repeatedly,
how the fish managed to tie their oxfords on
so tightly.

Perhaps had she ever gotten dancing shoes, ballet flats,
she may have fared better,
but remembering how she once carried
her erstwhile young, she always went
for a stiffer sole, something with support.
Besides, bears tend not
to be good at ballet, not liking
the barre, much less mirrors–

No, if a bear wants to see some version of itself,
it looks down to those beings it was born to protect,
or up to stars’ paw prints, glinting
in the blue-black sky.

A draft draft draft poem–meaning freshly written, little edited, and probably too long–but for my own prompt on dVerse Poets Pub, meeting the bar, to use extended metaphor. I am also linking to with real toads open link night.

The picture is mine and was originally done to ask people to bear with me in filling in the shoes on the prompt for the wonderful poet and host Brian Miller (who has computer issues.)  But I liked the picture, and it sparked the poem.  For this poem, however, the bear should perhaps have different shoes.

Also–and sorry for the plug–but please do check out my new book, a rather serious one, called Nice.  It is available on Kindle for just 99 cents and in paper back for a bit more.  Also, I would be very happy to send a hard or other copy to anyone interested in writing a review!!!!!