Archive for the ‘Spoken Word’ category


July 7, 2013



Bang bang bang
beat the conundrums,
timpani in my head,
tom-tom-tom and a dumdiddy dum,
with a side cowbell of dread.

Should I should I should I-ting–
Oh why oh why why why why why–bing!
Hiss siss siss
sighs the swirled snare,
boom boom bah
pounds the bass,
stretched skins trapping all care
in the rhythms of life’s chase.

Rum sounds a quest for the just and fair;
pum rumbles queries about my hair–
(what miracle might curve its flat to waves?)
bum swerves to whether Jesus saves.

Jig jig jig
jags each puzzle,
seesawing with the brums
of those fee-fie-foe diddy
fie-foe-fum fiddy
mind-numbing conun-drums.

Here’s a little draft ditty for Brian Miller’s prompt on puzzles on (dVerse Poets Pub.) I call it a draft because I haven’t really fixed the verse form.

Since posting, I’ve added a recording of the poem, since I have a particular rhythm in mind.  If you’d like to hear it, click below.


“Woe (the You) Is Me”

January 17, 2013


Woe (The You) Is Me

You’re wrong. Tick.
You made a mis-tock-take.
And now there’s no clock–tick
that can be turnedtock–
back–tick. The stock prices
dropped–tick. The man kicked
the buck—tock–with the t’s-tick
not crossed–tock–nor the i’s dotted–tick–
fuck; the whole thing a mess-tock–
’cause you made a miss
yourself a mistook–
tock– you less than a tick, miss–
You less than—

This really is a draftish poem for the terrific and exacting Mama Zen at With Real Toads to write something (in 75 words or less) about “the hard stuff.” For me, making a mistake–becoming conscious of making a mistake–is an extremely unpleasant experience. Unfortunately, it is one I have with great frequency. (You’d think I’d get used to it!)

Here’s a reading. I’m not sure I got the tick/tocks right, but it will give some idea–

Speaking of Real Toads – Isadore Gruye has very kindly interviewed me there today.  Check it out!  

“Interment” (Quatern)

December 6, 2012



I cannot bear to lay you in the ground–
not even in your ash state, shaped by urn;
it seems so cold below that clay-clung mound,
too harshly gelid to comfort harshest burn.

It’s true pooled ash leaves little to discern–
it cannot bare; it lays you into ground-
up bóne and góne and chár, while I still yearn
for spark–the live shine caught upon the round

of tooth, cheek, pupil–that in rebound
caught me. I want to know, but fear to learn
just why I cannot lay you in the ground
without my throat hard-bartered for a quern

that re-mills pain with every swallow’s turn,
that grínds what’s already fíne around
and round, allowing neither fruit nor fern–
that cannot bear to lay you in the ground.


Here’s a reading of the poem.  (I sometimes hate to take people’s time with readings, but in this case, the poem works much better read. I have changed one word since posting the reading, but it’s pretty minor.)

The above is a quatern – a new poetic form for me, that involves a repeating line.  I wrote it for Gay Cannon’s challenge on dVerse Poets Pub (“Form For All”).  I am afraid I used a slightly longer (pentameter) line than recommended for the form.  I urge you to check out Gay’s explanation of the form and the wonderful  poets at dVerse.

And – if you have a moment – check out my books!  Perfect for CHEAP Christmas presents!   Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, orNose Dive. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!

“Collapse (Of The Memory Palace)” A la Rossetti (Dante Gabriel)

December 2, 2012


Collapse (of the Memory Palace)

Onces I could recall
were once numbered in the many,
like a building so stories tall–
now, not any.
Not true, not fair.  Still, a lodging rather small

now houses about all.
And it seems to be built of scone,
the kind with currents sultanal–
I’d prefer stone,
which wouldn’t flake as I walk down the hall,

spot grease on every wall
instead of portraits, landscapes, fine,
their contours round me like a shawl,
warm with that time–
lost many–before memory’s crumbled fall.

A reading of the poem:


My picture, in case for some strange reason you can’t quite tell, is meant to be a scone house.  I am posting this for a With Real Toads challenge of Kerry O’Connor to write a poem in a rhyming and meter format developed by the Pre-Raphaelite painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). I’ve used one of Rossetti’s images (the face in the window of the scone house), and also stretched/squeezed in some of his background leaves.

 For American readers, sultanas are known in the U.S. as golden raisins – I’m afraid I’ve made them too dark in my picture.  A “memory palace” is an age-old technique for memorization, which involves placing whatever is to be remembered in a slightly strange context in some part of a known physical space.   (Joshua Foer has written a wonderful book about this – MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN.)  I was not frankly thinking about that use of memory when initially writing the poem, but it’s kind of a fun connection. 

Check out Kerry’s prompt for more info on Rossetti’s form, and also for other poets taking the challenge.

Also, if you get a moment, CHECK OUT MY BOOKS!  Great for Christmas presents!  Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -toddlers’ counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, orNose Dive. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!