Archive for September 2015

Not Bootless

September 24, 2015

 Not Bootless

She wished the time lost
but it kept finding her
as if she were time’s shoe
and you,
time’s body,
and she so longed
for your proximity
that she let time walk her
day in, nights out
even when you
were no longer about,
as if you still might heal her
from afar.

So, paced
by your re-membered
by the weight of waiting, time’s toe tapping
her spine, she who shod time
prayed for it to be waylaid,
as if a foot and not a shoe
might be mislaid,
as if a shoe might just walk away
on its own two feet,
as if its sole might meet,
on some lamp- or moon-lit street, not its shadow, but
its shine.


Drafty sort of poem for a wonderful prompt on With Real Toads to riff off of poems written by students from Ladysmith High School in Ladysmith, South Africa, for a project of 300 poems in 30 days.  (The students blog is called somewhere I have never traveled.)   Mine was inspired by a poem by Verusha Pillay, Grade 10 (a micro poem called “Time Stops”–in which she used the line “He stood wanting the time lost.”

The drawing is mine.  All rights reserved (and, of course, to poem.)

To Jeb Bush Who Says We Were Kept Safe (from a New Yorker)

September 22, 2015


To Jeb Bush Who Says We Were Kept Safe (From a New Yorker)

I did not feel it.  Not even as I shut
the windows tight, rolling towels into the gutted
frames, could I escape the smell, the pall
that slithered through the towels, the foul
breath of burning plastic, exhalation of steel
and swivel chair, melt of carpeting, and, against our skin, the feel
of flesh made smoke, ash griming the reflection
of all those posters, pleas for resurrection
headlined “Missing,” as if a person known
to have worked in the South Tower had just gone
for a walk, amnesiac or spree–
Don’t get me wrong–I could not breathe–
but I’ve earned
no right to complain–I was not burned
by a fire ball–

Not even when off the buses
they jogged, assault rifles shouldered without fuss
onto Canal, their camo so uncamo
in a city that wears black, their ammo
rounding chests already plaqued with bullet-
proof vests, faces young as pullets–
the few whiskers, crescent brows, strands
of feather post-pluck–not even as they ran
down the subway stairs in a continuous
booted line, uniforms pleating sinuously
about ridged belts, bulked thighs,
and I, stopping one GI, asked why,
are you here
and she replied, muzzle a diagonal to bunned hair,
to keep you safe–

Nope.  Not then.  Not that whole year
nor some years more–not, certainly, in the grand export of fear–
new carpetings of fire balls, new reasons
for retribution–no, not in that season
nor in the heft of its poisonous web,
dear Jeb, did we feel
kept safe–


A bit of a discursive rant here to Jeb Bush, running for the U.S. presidency, who, discussing his brother’s presidency in the recent GOP debated declared that “he kept us safe.”  I am not sure any president can avoid attacks and conflict, homegrown or brought from abroad, but Jeb’s comment seemed particularly disingenuous.   (I’m also not sure of those last two lines–whether I should simply write “we were not kept safe,” instead of alluding to how we felt, but am somehow a little too superstitious to write it like that.  This process note has been edited since Rosemary’s comment below.) The photo is one of mine–all rights reserved. 

Am posting to Real Toads Open Platform.  Check out the wonderful poets there. 



Phantom Heart

September 20, 2015

IMG_3737 - Version 2

Phantom Heart

When I gave you my heart, I gave it for keeps,
though soon you were gone as far as fall leaves
blown on a wild wind, leaving a chill–
taking my heart where you keep it still.

Yet here I’m left wondering, why my chest it hurts so–
with no heart to ache, my breast full hollow.
I fear in your pocket it’s squeezed till it’s burst,
bruised by loose change and pen knife and worse.

Or maybe it pains ‘cause you’ve lost it somewhere–
a one-hour hotel, by a bed that you shared–
where the heart that was mine is half-choked by dust,
the half that is left made sick by your lust–

Oh how could I give up the one heart I owned
to a man whose own heart was harder than stone–
maybe that’s why it weighs so heavily now
that heart that you’ve taken in tow, in tow–
that gone heart that still beats me so–

A ballad, a song, ditty for my own prompt on With Real Toads to write something inspired by the work of Dr. Oliver Sacks.  (Here, thinking of phantom limb syndrome.)  (Sorry to recycle the elephant–and older one of mine–a print made by painting on a glass plate and pressing it on paper.)



September 19, 2015


Then there’s that part of the brain that speaks in Chopin,
at least my brain, that, at least, listens
in Chopin, whose light-piercing tones–
notes that lift the heart, that dance the bones–
reverberate in loss, incipient,
past, lasting. The brain, made pliant
by the beauty of the song–
the brain that sways its hands along,
bends at its waist, rises on lobes’ toes–
finds itself unlocked by those
toqued keys, slides from arms’ bed
into the flowered mound at coffined head
of a friend, lost–  And how can I be here
and she be gone?  And how can fair be fair?

Except that all will join her soon enough,
or him–that’s you and me and them–no matter how tough
our resistance, how unalloyed
our letting go.  This moment’s would-be joy
can’t swallow the leaded rune,
and the brain’s stretched hands that just had traced the tune
in air, affecting grace, now cover the brain’s face–
or cover anyway that space
inside the brain–that part that hears
a minor croon in every music of the spheres,
that part that weeps
in what sweeps
it along, as if grief were its duty
to beauty, pleasure, life waylaid–
the price that must be paid.



Here’s a drafty poem–I call it that because just written–for my own prompt on With Real Toads about Dr. Oliver Sacks.  (Funny pic is mine; bust of Chopin–my husband’s.) 

I attach below a video (really audio) of Dinu Lipatti playing a Chopin Nocturne.  Lipatti, one of the most wonderful Chopin pianists, died, like Chopin, at a very young age (in his thirties.)

The Flesh of Vowels (II)

September 16, 2015


The Flesh of Vowels

I lie along you, mouth full
of words, knock-knotted until
unlocked–your gift
to the stiff limbs
of K, the pulled back
of R, the cracked angles
of N, M, W–

You sound an opening
they fold around,
spread a filling
they sandwich, warmth
they coverlet;

soon, my beginnings shell
your skin;
my endings well about
the you within,
my own cover releasing creases, leasing
a promised perimeter.

You answer, I love you too.

It is sometimes rather a soppy
filling, almost, but not,
too sweet.

Another draft poem based on my own playing-around prompt the line “the flesh of vowels.”  The first rather silly one (written with this one) posted last week.  LInking it to Real Toads Open Platform.  The photo, such as it is, is mine. All rights reserved. 


September 13, 2015



I’ve done my duty by pears this year,
shaking them from the tree as autumn neared,
remembering they can rot before half-ripe,
climbing after even the small hard type–

That was back when August shone its sun
(the apples still bit back when tasting one)
when rhubarb prime in June still limply stalked
and our own loosing limbs seem to be caulked
with warmth; the pears were only browning at the core
and only some–but now, no more
than two weeks later, the bags still left
sweat heavily with decay, heft
hollowing–fruit flies flitting in the fridge–

So, set to work, trying to save the ridge
of pear all day–that flesh between the peel
and ploded center, to unseel
the whites of pears’ eyes, forget
the dark brown cornea that sometimes stretched
across the fruits’ both hips–

until, at last, I try for any sauce–I’ll sieve it
later–tossing in the rot and sheath and seed–
just seeing what will work–no longer trying to weed
out more than stem, hard navel, leaf–

And the smell, cooking, wafts itself so sweet–
the peels, curled like mute tangled clothes
abandoned on a visit from their beaus,
seem to smile, cheshire-catting the sides
of the deep pot, as I blow my wide
hot spoon, tasting then the essence
of pear–not the excresence
of pear–though maybe they’re the same–
what is, what was–still called by single name–

and I think again–all day, I’ve been thinking–
about loss, reading Thom Gunn, sinking
as I read, into a numbness–all those beautiful
young men, who finally said screw dutiful
(except to self and friends) infected in the blood
to carry hard beneath the hood
that new despair.  I mourn
as I salute–their cheekbones born
again in wasting skin,
their frames becoming tents to house them in,
as what was wit and spark and human want,
what had determined to be insistent,
was cut down, taped, tubed, gone–
as pairs, as legion–
how can it feel so very long ago–
eyes still in the photos darkly glow–

And I don’t know what any of this
has to do with rot or pears or sauce
or numbness, only that the mind moves
back and forth through what it loves
which is so much over a life,
much even in the barest slice–
trying somehow to couple reason, rhyme,
with what’s been lost, is lost, in time.


This is very much a draft/first draft/ but can’t come up with more somehow–so sorry for the length and thanks to you who made it through. 

I am writing in response to Grace’s prompt (her last one) on Real Toads about Thom Gunn.  Some of Gunn’s very effective work arose from the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s.  I found such poems particularly moving.   Thanks so much to Grace for her series of prompts based on wonderful worldwide poets.  

The photo above is mine–all rights reserved (as, of course, with the poem). 





September 11, 2015



She had lips in her palms
and, as a result,
could not speak and do at once, and neither
very well,
and whenever she held hands with anyone,
they thought hers clammy
or kissing,
until sick of it,
she excised the lips,
stick too.

But then her palms held only
peeled throats (winnowing to wrists),
that, though speechless, gagged
so raucously, that she held her hands
to her sides at all times thereafter,
often as fists.


A poem of sorts in 80 words for Mama Zen’s prompt Words Count based on a film (Le Sang d’un Poete) by Jean Cocteau.