Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Daisies Mown

from These Denver Odes

The daisies mown will blow again.
The moon pines not, nor is dismayed,
rejuvenating without pain;
once man into his grave is laid,

he is no more a man. His dust
may someday form some form instead.
It won't be he. The new moon must
return; but man, when dead, is dead.

So you, figured like Helen, bright
of eye, Celinda, will not see
how good you look, made up for night,
to be illumed like Semele.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Pastorale

This appeared in Angle. I have altered it slightly since then.

Down by the river the trout are laying bets
Per croquet hoop. They swear like Fielding fish--
Damme this and Bloody that. They're old ones
With cheeks that frogs would eat. Here unafraid,
They list to port and pass it to the left
And praise the neighbors' sheep and curse the day
Electric lights infested county skies.
Crooks, not hooks, still in the adverse flow,
They praise monogamy, but that's a joke
Told when women go the separate way
Appropriate. They do not fear the fly,
A thumb upon their scales, or lemon sauce.
These are the myths told small fry. They are men.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Speckled Stuff

appeared in Lyre, Lyre.

God likes speckled stuff, says the manly man.
He must have since he made so much. The straight
And simple are pulverized by the weight
Of odd and complex. There must be a plan,
And not a manly plan--something divine
Or outré, which means both. A freckled chick,
Violets wrapped around a mossy stick,
Villages built where earthquakes draw the line:
The quirky and the deadly and the spotted.
Whole romans fleuves have dammed themselves upon
Civilizations where the men are gone,
The dogs abducted, and the bookstores rotted.
He loves it all, the hoorah where the gleaming
Stipples on the bright stainless steel are steaming.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Second Thoughts

This is a very old poem. It's the title poem from my second collection, which was accepted, once upon a time, by a publisher who went out of business immediately thereafter and was never heard from again. It appeared in Whiskey Island.

If only I had gone to school in Boston,
flown east instead of west. If only I
had studied medicine instead of English,
dressed for the day in tie and stethoscope, 
if only I had let myself be drafted
and seen the bodies stacked up at Pleiku,
if only this, if only that, if I
had let that first pregnancy go to term,

today I should be sitting in a room
like this, my head not clear, my hand alert
to what it holds, and I should hear the cardinal
calling the late June morning to observe
that he's already up, and I'd be thinking

if only I had gone to school in Denver,
flown west instead of east, if only I
had been a novelist and not a doctor,
then I should say, hearing the sparrows chirp,

it would be all the same, even if I
had gone to school at Cambridge, learned to say
"shed-ule," and come to like my lager warm,
till, feeling a sudden numbness in my shoulder,
I'd wonder how it would have been if I
had only gone to school in California.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Growing My Own

I'm growing heroes this year, each with vim
And rectitude. Too proud to wear their masks
Or call themselves The Spanielled Cavaliers,
They will be known by what they do: The Lute,
My Sugar Beet, The Man from Polymath.
Muscles are nothing, candyland. Their feats
Are vitamins and tiny nebulae
And comfort for the shopworn. And the seeds,
Like starfish in a cup of broth, their shapes
Superfluous to what they will become,
Wait till it rains. Wait till the worms have made
Them room to move. Once they have sprung their shoots,
Who knows if you can bear to watch them work
Or how many widows lay an extra place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pursued by a Duck

Edge of the edge, the ducks explore

Duckitude.  They don’t know it, though.
They nibble at the sludgy shore
While we call names and say we grow

L’homme qui criat canard.  That sedge
Is served them there so we can chime,
We should admit that.  If they cadge
A breadcrumb, panic.  A loup in time,

The ground subsides, the ducks retreat
Like Muscovy.  Here, let us count.
One duck, two ducks: this life is sweet,
When wild in just the right amount.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Maltese Sonnet

This appeared in Lyric.

Having the frail, the dingus, and the gat,
My standfast scruples and a flask of rye,
I set her up, then I sat down and grat
Like any bairn. I spit in my partner's eye
And took a beating for him. I could draw
Honor from any gunsel gave the lie
Direct. A fat man and a slippery dame
Are markers on the pawnshop of the law.
A man should be remembered for his name;
And yet I drank to think of her forbye.

A character I am. I take no fall.
In black and white down these green streets I pass,
Errant and nicely suited. If you call,
Angel, I'll say you made a bonnie lass.