Archive for November 2014

(“Not Sure What I Feel About This… Really”)

November 29, 2014



















Here’s a draft something for Corey’s (Herotomost’s) prompt on With Real Toads, to write something about an experience about which we are uncertain how we feel.  This is a bit longer than I intended–I got carried away with the pictures– They are also done in pencil on paper which makes them hard to edit!  But enough excuses–  Note that the whole picture may not show up on some browsers–if that’s the case click on it.  (Or let me know, as maybe I should reduce them.)  k.




November 28, 2014



I wait
for relief.  Ache
clouds waking.

I take aim at stepping back–

As if one could be a stranger
to the weight upon
one’s back–
though the grey gravitates
to the frontal contours of core, cortex–
never, for some reason,
does it press down the flesh
of my rear end, my ample hips,
which could perhaps use
some tightening–

As if its ways might be learned;
as if, then, it might even
be put 
behind bars.

But it is so much better
at surveillance.

Sometimes, it takes the cover
of a cheap chopping block,
sits in my chest sheathing breaths
in shadowed slits,
skewed knives badgered
into use.

Other whiles, it’s a separate head
in mine, a horned scaled self,
stalking eyelids as stolidly as a dummy Komodo,
until anything tries flight–
then it flicks it in
quick enough–
(Who would have thought Depression
had such fine motor skills?)

I plot escape, but it’s difficult
when you’re watched
from the inside, when you’re wearing,
as it were,
your own wire.


Here’s a poem not at all for Thanksgiving, but for Grapeling’s prompt on With Real Toads, “Get Listed.”  

Moving on, however, to the subject of Thanksgiving, I want to extended deeply-felt thanks to all of you who read this blog, and to all those in the wonderful online poetry communities, particularly With Real Toads and dVerse Poets Pub, especially Kerry O’Connor, Brian Miller, Claudia Schoenfeld.

Also a very special thanks to all who have purchased either in paper or kindle, my book Nice, or any of my other books–thanks thanks thanks.

Through Glass Darkly

November 24, 2014


Through Glass Darkly

I step into a circular glass elevator.  I find it terrifying–all the mechanisms of descent–blue tubes and looped hydraulics–showing so clearly against the ash grey shaft.

I am also concerned by several large gaps in the curved glass, uncertain as to whether I am supposed to hold on to the openings or stay away from them.  I worry that I could fall through one of the gaps, but, at the same time, that I can’t squeeze into the spaces between them.  I worry also about the several kids on the elevator, one with braids and a triangulated smile; there are mothers with babies too.

I decide at last to use the openings as grips– I need something to hold onto.  But the openings are placed at such extended angles that getting my hands and feet into them splays me, spreading me into a position I cannot sustain.

Finally, I let go, just stand there.  The kids, the mothers with babies, look at me with bemusement; they like the moving glass.  I tell myself that they just don’t understand that gaps like that have consequences, though, honestly, the elevator moves down slowly enough.

We arrive at a party for babies; it’s being held in a loft; a place with old wooden floors, well-buffed, but showing the darkness of wear.

My mother is there, and my brother, and, for some reason, my mother has brought my dad, though he is dead.  Maybe she has brought him because he, like a baby, is bald and also has rounded cheeks.  (It is only as I write this that I realize the dad she brought is not my dad as he died, whose face was so gaunt as to almost look bruised, but an earlier dad, whose features shone with curves of flesh and bone structure.)

The babies are very cute, different ages, but all with the pale softness of dough not nearly full-baked.  My dad lies in an adjacent room, I think of it as a back room, on a high cot, his skin considerably darker than the babies’ skin.  It is not the darkness of decay, but the pored reds and olives of someone who’s lived in the world; a light grizzle bristles his chin.

The babies are mostly too little to crawl.  When they are not being carried, they lie on a large double bed.  At least one is the child of an acquaintance–that one is quite wet and me, not wanting the damp to spread to the entire bed cover, but also wanting to be polite, asks the mother if she’d like me to change him.  I say something about how sure I am that I could do it just fine (as if there were a question on that point.)  My seeming assurance makes her immediately take the baby from my arms.  I leave that room then and go back to my dad.

I would like to touch him, to cradle his head, but am too fearful to reach out.  I have touched, caressed, even kissed the just died, but he’s been dead now for a few years.

Though he does not lie still as one would expect of the dead.  Rather he coughs, bends, twists.  Each move shocks me–could he really not be dead after all this time? When I recover a little, I peer into his face. I realize then that his mouth is slightly open and that his body is acting as a kind of wind tunnel.  I do not mean here human wind–the gases expelled by the dead when their bodies are tossed up to a shoulder, transferred from bed to gurney.  Rather he is a channel for surrounding air currents–the coughs, the turns, the twists all caused by random air entering through his mouth, then moving around inside him.

I rub my arms, remembering the time-lapsed video of a sleeping baby I saw the day before. The baby, though never waking, angled about the crib through the night like the hands of a clock, only an extremely jerky clock, given the time-lapse.  My father does not move so dramatically for this is real time, and my father a much larger person, at least he was before his last illness, which kept him from swallowing for about a year.

It’s harder than ever, what with his sudden twists for me to touch him.  At last I get the nerve to brush up against his ear, which looks so red as to be fevered.  It does burn to the touch, but it’s a burn of ice–I pull my hand instantly back.  In the current stirred by my agitation, my father coughs powerfully, his whole chest torquing to the side, and now I jump away, which is both terrible–this is my father, my father whom I loved–but also understandable–for the touch of cold has let me know for sure that my father is still dead.  This knowledge makes the movements of his body somehow more horrid.  It is as if even air can push him about, treat his body, now left behind, as a marionette.

A part of me is upset that my mother has brought him here, to this party.  Another part of me understands how she could not leave him at home, not in this condition.

And why had I not known this before, I ask myself, how the dead move, in air?

I look at him for a long time, the twists, the releases, the babies pale as ghosts in my vision’s periphery, until I decide the reason people don’t talk about this phenomenon, don’t even seem to know of it, is because the dead are usually in coffins, underground, where air cannot pass through. This, I realize, may be another justification for coffins.

Only now as I type this, I remember how my father used to always call me baby, even when I was a grown kid.  He wouldn’t do it to embarrass me, just not thinking.  I remember as he went outside, evenings, to call me in from play in the neighborhood.  “Baby,” he would call, “Baby,” to my absolute mortification.  I can see him, as through the round of a lens, standing on the small sidewalk that cut a path from the street to our front door, his face shadowed by the lavender light of late summer, the grass to both his sides so very dark in that light.  When I look through that lens harder, it is not his face I see, but that grass, the blades that stand up straight, and too those blades that are bent, crumpled, even those.



Here’s a story of a dream that is probably way too long and personal to post or to link anywhere, but bear with me!  Sorry for the length!  I am linking it to With Real Toads Open Link Night.  

The Way Of It

November 23, 2014


The Way Of It

How do we know
what’s meaningful in our lives, what higher purpose
we may serve?

We think it has to do with work, family, something

but maybe we were brought here simply
to walk that dog
whose incisored smile and skipping trot
seemed to lift the souls of passers-by
caught in the grey cracks
of New York City.

Maybe it was to elicit that once-satisfied goodnight
from the woman you call regularly
who has to bustle about for her hearing aids
just to register your hello.

Maybe it was your wrist flicking on
the car radio a jammed
afternoon and squeezing among
the blistered fenders a waft
of ‘over the rainbow,‘

or the sight of the leftover moon
a blue morning,

or your slow recognition
that those ochre fronds of weed
were not in fact a doe
in yesterday’s dusk, though just
as beautiful–

Maybe it has all amounted
to a single–one-time–confirmation of
the universality of
a universe

that we must love we must love we must love–

You tell yourself–I tell
myself at least (if I can summon up
the will when I am low)–that any light I’ve lit
is too close at hand
for me to see,
that I must, at last, trust
in the kindness of moths,
the hunger
of moths, the compulsion
of moths,
though their wings be as dry
as leaves in a rusting fall,
though that fall is nearly
run through–
that still they will find
my bit of flame,
and though I feel rather sorry
for those moths (even if a part of me longs
for the momentarily brightened flare),
maybe moths too
serve strange purposes.

Here’s a rather odd poem for With Real Toads, Play It Again Sam, hosted by Margaret Bednar.  In this case, I am using the actual prompt of Kenia Cris, to write something inspired by the philosophical poetry of Brazilian Poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade.  Margaret posts some beautiful pics from her daughter’s school, but I chose to you my own photograph above.

Still Life

November 22, 2014


Still Life

There is, in the framing of fruit,
a special deliciousness.

Yes, there’s awe
for shown skill, the furring of a peach
with paint, but for me
much of the magic lies
in the frame–not the gilded, the scrolled,
the varnished wood–the simple edge,
parameter, the fact that the seen–
the scene–ends.

When we underscore
almost anything,
then extend that bottom line
four square,
we pare down the all-too-much
to a center,
fence a tableau,
tame–no, aim–the random,
the overbreadth, the more-

making a window
into the not-right-here-
right-now, which, for all
we praise the moment,
we crave.

I think of suddenly
dark streets, just into
a shift of seasons, when walking in cold that falls
as quick as night, I look up to find a dinner hour, three flights
from the street–so elegant
from the asphalt, even a penny jar
on top of some inner refrigerator shining
like a goblet, a goblet like a sliver of moon,
then higher, half a block over, an aquarium blue
as remembered June;
in the not-quite basement apartment at sidewalk-level,
someone’s best wooden bowl on their nicked
wooden counter backdropped
by scuffed floor–all
the different grains angled
by panes into a pattern
the eye finds marvelous, everything made much
by its confines.

Oh yes, we admire thinking
outside the box,
but how beautiful is
the box

where life holds still
as long as we want, and then some,
while we, standing at its window, wonder whether
we’ll ever make it through.

Here’s a belated and drafty poem for Margaret Bednar’s prompt on With Real Toads relating to the wonderful still lives of American painter, Severin Roesin.   The above pic was taken by Margaret Bednar on her iPhone and is a detail of a Roesin’s “Still Life with Fruit.”

(A typo–lack of comma in the first posted version has been remedied!)



Subway Window

November 21, 2014


Subway Window

Old as a large lizard
and more cold, poverty
stalks the subway, careful
of the closing doors.

Older than a large lizard–
but it does not mind
the new bare-fangled, the evolved

So, the person whose body humps
like a triceratops turned on its side
just across from me
wears fake Crocs,
rimmed by the gaudy with which
manufacturers often brand
the cheap;

track pants of some newly-minted
fabric that, like the still-gilled climbing out
from undersea, doesn’t breathe right,
nor armor against the whip of wind chill,
at least a heavy coat, rumpled thick
as a hide;

but then protruding from khaki cuffs, I see nails
painted navy, and something about
their clasp of the bunched creases
of knuckle, lets me know she’s a woman.

And though she never turns
her head, lets anyone see
what’s beneath the ruffed hood–
still, the face of the face I trace,
a side of cheek roughed
by metal salt skies,
shows telltale softness.

I’d like to share something–
a smile, shrug, some complaint
about the crush, but she stays resolutely squared
towards the back of the car,

I try to see if she looks out
its bleared window, about
a foot away, out
to the flashes of darkness we flee
as we speed into
new darkness,
but what she sees
is very hard to tell
from where I’m sitting.


Here’s a belated draft poem for Kerry O’ Connor’s prompt on With Real Toads about Age and Youth, and also Bjorn Brudberg’s prompt on dVerse Poets Pub about de-familiarization.   The pic doesn’t really go, but there you have it!  


The World According to Them

November 17, 2014


The World According to Them

You asked why I wore myself so thin–
How else was I to squeeze me in
the world according to them?

You asked why I studied up so smart–
‘Cause the tests that mattered didn’t measure heart
in the world according to them.

Then you asked me why I made us cry–
The truth, I said–that I couldn’t defy
the world according to them.

But now that don’t sound good enough–
an answer off the fraying cuff
of the truth according to me–

a truth curl-curved and edged with cut
jigsawed to jam into spots that abut
the world according to them,

for when the cracks cracked and the frame let go,
then all inside me told me so,
that it was only words pouring out from them,

that it was me who, listening, whittled me thin,
me who kept me so tight within
the world according to them.


Here’s a very drafty poem  for Kerry O’Connor’s prompt In Other Words on With Real Toads, to use a variation of a title of a book (in this case, The World According to Garp), as a title for a poem.  I’ve mucked with this one on and off all day changing it dramatically, but improving?  Not so sure.   (The narrator was much more self-pitying, and blaming, in earlier versions, which finally didn’t sit very well with me.) 

For anyone interested, this grew in an extremely discursive way from a narrative I’ve been writing about a country-western singer.  I had modified that prose narrative to use for a prompt, and then woke up with this sing-song instead.  I may post one of the others, though they are really prose pieces.  Who knows!?  Back on the road again tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. 


Love in a Time of Thyme

November 15, 2014



Love in a Time of Thyme

She recited Prufrock as they walked a lawn
made purple by more
than twilight, each believing
that the mermaids would sing
to him (or her). Oh, they
would eat a peach, which incidentally
was the shade of her cheeks
that summer, the tenor of the bristle
garnishing his.

Not focusing either
on the fact that they talked (unstoppingly)
against a backdrop
of trout rather than mer–
(speckled, not wreathed,
in brown)–
a place where those
who’d drowned
had names like Rube that were passed
to the offending deep stream pools
and were probably drunk rather than waking
from a trance of unattempted

But they, speaking in Prufock,
did not categorize the sodden
as tragic, and after the grass grew damp
about their ankles, moved to Burroughs–because who,
he shook his head, could beat
the Beats
–then on to line and shape–how even
the Abstract Expressionists
were all washed up–

and, with the willful absorption
of the young, clung
to not being understood
and, sort of,
to each other,
purple tilting their vision even with eyes
half-open, the equinoctial light taking
to skin not used to being bared–

purple radiating
from the clouds overhead
or in their heads–
they never seemed to stoop
to what lay underfoot, not

until years later, and then
it was just her, and a peach was just
a peach and a drowned man was known
to leave at least one love behind, who, most likely
had to move to a trailer,
and the curls of mermaids
could only be traced
in limestone,
and she would reach down
to the violet clusters
that more than speckled
the green expanse, crushing one gently
to release its savory scent, and wonder
as she found it again on her fingertips
how it was all just there,
free for the taking–thyme,




Here’s a sort of draft poem for Kerry O’Connor’s “In Other Words” prompt on With Real Toads to make a poem using a variation of a title from a novel designated by her, in this case Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.   My poem has nothing to do with Marquez’s book.

I could not find a photograph I had taken of thyme, which grows wild rampantly and has a beautiful little purple flower, so used this picture of a fawn taken last summer.  I am positive, knowing the lawn upon which the fawn stands, that there is a great deal of thyme beneath and around the deer’s hooves. 

Process notes–the poem has several references to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot.  The Burroughs mentioned is intended to be William Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and others.   Also, note this has been edited slightly since first posting, a work in progress.  (Ha!)

For Once

November 14, 2014

For Once

We drove into the driving snow,
the night a sea,
the flakes a wake of anemone,
pale tails pulling ahead,
as we trailed, so fast,
from the deep,
as they rushed, even faster,
past reach.

You had to try hard, you said,
not to look at it or you’d
be mesmerized;

yes, I said, eyes trying to scry
the fleeing neon–
mind trying to fit
on metaphor–
it was as if, I thought, time
had let down her hair,
let blow in the wind
a stranded invitation, as if we following
too could be wild and wet
and headlong–

But maybe turn off
the brights,
I said, me the one who has always failed
to take risks
in life–

But–said you who
would mingle with fate in a moment
if it held beauty
on its arm–they actually help me
see the sides of the road better, see
if there are deer–

True, I said, as if you were, in fact, looking out
to the sides of the road.

Then you said nothing,
and I said nothing,
and so, you drove on
into the snow,
the sea,
the vast leading
and me, I rode


Hi All!  Here’s a poem for Marian’s prompt on With Real Toads about the love of one’s life.

Sorry for missed visits and for long absence.  I have been trying, ostensibly, to work on a novel, but in truth, have been taken up with job and family matters, and doing a huge amount of escapist reading–which has been very informative on the novel front!  (So, I tell myself.)   In the meantime, I’ve missed you all much and hope all has been well!

P.S. The photo above is not of the phenomenon I was trying to describe–the snow on a windshield on a dark night–I did not get a photo of it–but I also like this photo, so put it up.  (It is one I took a couple of years ago–all rights reserved.)  

On Halloween, Thinking About What’s Spooky Hint: Not pumpkins

November 1, 2014


On Halloween, Thinking about What’s Spooky
Hint: Not Pumpkins

There’s a great garbage patch
in the North Pacific.
It bobs plastic,

all those beer rings,
the sacks that bag things,
the bottles of that water we prefer,
the toys, the gear, aped furniture,
the wrappings of our shiny lives,
the trappings of our dull lives–
(a lot of them at least) land
over there–

Other bits band together
in the North Atlantic,
the Indian, the Arctic–each
has its fellow patch, thatching some large
sea surface, bits seeping
to the deeps.

In the Pacific, the mass
dwarfs Texas (on a good day).
It’s bigger yet
when the eddies stretch.

Breakers break some
to polymer–de baby
of debris–
Oh polymer!

But the mer, le mer, our mere,
still doesn’t like that shit–
what wants light withers
without sun;
st0maches swell
with swallowed gadgets;
others suffocate
in the cratered nets
of ghost fishermen, or similar
knotted tangle–the goal of some
gone game–

Still, we keep at it–
making garbage, buying garbage,
sending it out to sea–

so we can have room
for more.


Here’s a poem for Fireblossom’s Friday on With Real Toads to write about something spooky. 

We are now into November, and I am seriously contemplating a break from poetry–(i) to catch up on my job life but, more importantly (ha!) (ii) to try to get some momentum from “Nanowrimo” national novel writing month–to work on another novel.  It’s hard to focus on a novel if there is almost anything better to do.  But, in my case, if I go without focusing long enough, I lose track of all my scribblings,  and end up feeling terrible.  (Yes, I should be more organized with my notebooks!)  At any rate, I’ll see what I can stomach. Do check back in as I may at least end up writing about writing–if you are interested in that. I know I will miss all of you, and the daily back-and-forth of blogging not to post at all. 

In the meantime, do also consider checking on my very different past novels–Nice and Nose Dive, as well as 1 Mississippi (children’s book) and book of poems, Going on Somewhere.  Nice and Nose Dive are on Kindle for just 99 cents!  Thanks!

I believe that the photo above is okay to use, but I have linked it to its source.  No copyright infringement is intended. (The Millennium Report.)