Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Who, You?

Death? Death Who? I don't know any Death.
I lied, of course. I saw him just last week
At dinner. He had come with Wendy's dad,
Who shivered over parsnips. He looked bad
And rattled like a toolbox with each breath.
Death drank a pinot grigiot, showed his sleek

Company manners. Yesterday I saw
Him outside Tiffany, blue box in hand.
An hourglass, he said, with diamond sand,
A bijou for a buddy in the law.

The phone rang. Death Who? I said. No death here.
I hung up, made the lords of order loud.
They shot at random, laying down the crowd.
No death. No suavity. A flitch of fear.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


This appeared in Pegasus.

Beneath the mist, beneath the dirt,
Under it all, she does not hurt.
She lies in unacknowledged state.
This is supposed to compensate
For all the pain. She never cries,
We say. At last she will not rise.
Thank God we know enough to be
Deprived of possibility.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Suffering Succotash

This appeared in South Ash.
          for Wendy

Let us enumerate some things which move you
(one, two, three, five—let’s only count the primes,
the ones that really count).  Your daughter’s hands
stained to the wrist in peas and carrots, saying,
“Mommy, can you do this?”  Your husband stopping
and getting back out of the car and coming back
to the house to say he won’t be back for dinner.
The thought of the lover you have never met
thinking of you and wondering what sound
you’d make if he turned you this way first, then that.
Your husband calling, saying, since they serve
fresh fish tonight on Burma Airlines, he
might miss dinner tomorrow, too, and if
Air Kampuchea takes his Mastercard,
he’ll send a postcard back from Angkor Wat.
The sight of your fingers telling you they are
your lover’s in extremity.  The voice
you haven’t heard paying you that one praise
you always wanted not to have to seek.
The airline calling, asking if you are
the beneficiary whom he called
aloud to, somewhere over Bora Bora.
A footstep at the doorstep, at the door.
Your daughter asking if someone could please
change her, isn’t anyone going to change?

Thursday, September 08, 2005


This one appeared in Staple, issued at the time from Matlock Bath.  Salve, Meashams.

From these bones you could build a bird.
From one blunt end a whispered word
emerges as music.  On their last
legs, these brittle sticks, they’re past
a long walk.  Down a short peer narrow
end-wise, which houseled a marrow
could bear a weight, you’d see the moon.
A cakewalk, a fox-trot: a tune
keeps time where we all come.  Belief
did not hollow this, nor did grief
warp out of whack the graceful line:
not sin, though tried, and it felt fine.
It was not fault, nor fear; not real
presence, the stars, nor that schlemiel
who broke her trellis, thorned by the climb.
It was a leg; it’s not.  It’s time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

My favorite poetry board remarks

--Who are you to say what's good?

--There's no such thing as good or bad; it's all just opinions.

--If you know so much, how come I never heard of you?

--I showed this to my girlfriend, and she liked it.

--What are you, like the poetry god?

--I've been published, you know.

--When I read this to a bunch of drunks the other night, all of whom were waiting a turn to read their poems, they all liked it.

--I really really liked your poem. Now read mine, and tell me what you think.

--You're mean. There's other things in life besides poetry.

--I've been writing poetry since I was 8, and I don't have to listen to you.

--Yeah, we read that Tennyson crap in school, but this isn't the Middle Ages anymore.

--I read this to Anne Sexton before she committed suicide, and she said it reminded her of Adrienne Rich.

--You're not the boss of me.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Blogs & Boards

This certainly is a different kind of format for someone used to the hubbub of message boards. It's still and solitary--which seems appropriate for a poet; but it is a change. The 3 message boards I've frequented over the years were loud, busy, contentious places, and that made them both interesting and annoying. The chief problem with them, for me anyway, is that an awful lot of people like to post on poetry message boards who have no interest in (let alone skill at) poetry. They just want to be noticed, and they don't care what they say, if only it garners them a little attention. At least that's not a problem here, and if it turns out to be, I see I've been equipped with a Delete button. How convenient.

Although I was going to remark that I don't know what it is about poetry boards that attracts so many trolls, so many half-baked half-wits, clamoring to be noticed and stroked--is it that poetry still has lingering trappings of prestige, vestigial survivals from archaic times?--the truth is that I'm not familiar with other sorts of message boards. For all I know, they have exactly the same problems. Maybe there are Quilting Trolls and Scrapbooking Trolls and Duckpin Bowling Trolls who haunt, menace, and disrupt their respective venues. I don't know.

But it is nice and quiet here.