Poems


The Successful Writer

 

The story’s story is no writer’s friend.

The path to glory distracts and wearies.

A story’s a story because it lies.

Some days, redemption is writing well,

Rounding up the words and making them small.

Some days—the hard ones—it’s not to write at all.

3 Haiku for Creation

 

God wakes, looks around,

Makes everything he sees

But can’t see himself.

 

Man wakes, makes a sound,

Names everything he sees,

Calls the mirror, God.

 

Woman never sleeps:

She builds the fire, throws the pot,

Cooks the dawn inside.

 

 

Easter Was Hard

 

Easter was hard for my young mind to grasp.

Chocolate bunnies laying eggs, Mom hunched

Over the dining room table blowing

The insides from raw ones Dad whipped into

a froth, scrambled, and we boys then devoured.

Watched Mom clear the table, paint the hollow

Shells with delicate brushes until they

Took your breath away. While Jesus suffered,

Died, a horrible, heartbreaking story,

But wait! That was Good News somehow because

God meant to kill his Son for us and Sin.

He didn’t really die.  You won’t either.

The virgins wore hats like flowering shrubs.

I got a new jacket, too big and white.

 

—Easter, 2013

Mr. Cheese at Dusk

I couldn’t give up cheese, my neighbor says,
When I tell him what I eat since I almost died.
Mr. Cheese, leaning on the lamp post, laughs
To hear this now familiar refrain.
He follows me around just to hear it.
It makes his day, such heartfelt devotion,
Clearly evidenced by my neighbor’s waist.

Cheese always wins. My students, in stories
Can find places they’ve never been before—
Inside themselves, an undiscovered crossroads—
And then… they hitch a ride with Mr. Cheese
For a car chase (goes without saying, right?)
A vampire, a serial killer, both.
The whole fucking thing’s like just a dream, right?
How cool is that? Cheese asks, laughing so hard
He can’t stop. No one can stop Mr. Cheese.

Down the street we see three deliverers,
Blinkers flashing, carrying Cheese in their arms,
Swaddled to keep him warm. Come baby, come,
Come let’s adore him, baked into a pie.
Mr. Cheese, he stick with you till you die.

The Exploration of Space

Each planet is unique like fingerprints,
Like palms crossed with life lines, heart lines, fault lines.
We are cradled in these hands, shaped to fit.
Squirming pups. Sniffing the winds for others.
They beckon from the woods across the road.
Here boy, fetch the bone, dissolve your own,
Seeking hands, having gnawed the ones you’ve known.
Deaf, half-blind, old, shambling across blacktop,
The vast reaches of space where worlds collide
With horns and screeches and scarcely a sound
But a bang, a whimper—a good dog gone.

As National Poetry Month comes to a close, it’s been great to see all the events around town.  This does bring to mind a less than satisfying literary experience that took place long ago and far away, though I did get this little poem out of it:

Famous Poet Workshop, Saturday 1-4 pm, $150

Caged sentiments, re-engineered memories,
and most of all, a way with words—
Let’s make a poem, shall we?
A poignant, patchwork little ditty,
a driven moment of self-examination
or typing, though some can’t write
without just the right pen or sedative.
Don’t let that slow you down. The lines
will find a way through the sediment
of your precious lives, and words will come
like something something you can’t—
or at least don’t care—to explain.
Never hang around to explain, and
eat the rest of those donuts or else
I’ll have to take them home.

Not exactly “To a Skylark,” but you have to take your inspiration where you find it.  A slug poem:

Trail of Tears

Hope is frail
and I am frail
and both are surely dying.
The slug leaves a glistening trail
as evidence of his trying
to get somewhere,
somewhere over there,
where the way’s not slick with crying.
There’s salt in tears,
no hope in fears—of this
there’s no denying,
until finally bliss
is one last kiss—
death-defying!
After that, who knows?
The going slows
for a sluggish rhymer crying.
The meter pumps a salty sea
like the one that pumps inside,
further proof, should it be needed,
I haven’t quite yet died.

Atheist

I’m not supposed to tell you I’m an atheist.
You might be concerned I have no moral compass,
no certainty concerning the finer points of the universe.
Better to dress it up and affect Taoist,
Plump it up and claim agnostic—gush
Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice to know?
Make of God such a windy abstraction
one might as well pray to the wind,
but please don’t say that word.
Sorry. I love life, Earth
its glorious habitat, sailing
through space, teeming with intelligent
faithful killing each other to confirm
which speaks for God. In silence I am
still mindful of our course,
our vessel,
the frailty of the crew,
its rare and precious cargo.

Canada Geese in Byrd Park

I’m moved by their dawn song, though I’ve grown to hate them,
a flapping, crapping infestation,
a non-migratory shit machine.
Still I’m a sucker for the splash
of their landing in the morning mists
upon the lake built to be so lovely in the 20’s
for man and goose alike. Only it’s
winter, guys, you’re not supposed to be here,
with more and more all the time,
a hazard to every water hazard,
destroyer of US Airways Flight 1549.
So where do you guys get off sounding so sublime?
Hired border collies roust you from the shit-slick promenade,
but still you keep coming back, determined. These are
your darkest days. The temptation must be strong to fly.
That must be what I hear in your song that moves me—
That longing to be birds again and fly the whole world round.
Hang in there. It’s Sunday.
Your pals with the Wonder Bread will be round shortly,
their chubby eager children, churning through the slime.

The Story

I must tell you this.
You must listen.
You’re thinking, no I don’t, but
you keep reading, wondering—
And here it is five lines in
or even more, if I
get all wonky with the line
breaks and these long parentheticals—
leading you on,
leading you nowhere,
leaving you wondering
How did I let this happen?
Why did I listen?
What did he say?
How did I get here in
The End?

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