Saturday, April 26, 2014

Inspiration

The spirits circled high above the house
And dropped surprising words like fennel seed.
Never before, he thought, and could not write
Fast enough to keep up. There slipped away
An observation on the rites of men
With women and a pun on Little John,
And still the spirits strewed the house with verbs
He did not know he knew, until, at last,
He called it finished, although it couldn’t be;
And then the tutelary angels left
For Calgary, by typo drawn away.
Not one agreed to read a word he wrote.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sonnetina

A sort of summer cabaret
Performed by girls in little more
Than skin, just like the dress they wore
When they dropped in. A small hooray
From men with lawnmowers and shears,
Indrawn disdain from proximate wives,
Both lots of whom resume their lives,
Unaugmented by wishful tears.

Not girls in skin, not now, this late.
Good girls go by. Old ladies pass
This way at noon. They touch the grass
With shadow. They are gnarled of gait;
And yet without their clothes, within,
Concealed consent, they carry skin.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Weekend Gardener

You mock the flowers I can raise:
A grown man should find better ways
To sow his seed and harvest praise.

Mutual funds look good, and hiking,
Plumbing repairs, and mountain biking--
Hobbies manly and much more striking.

Adam gardened. Cain, who killed.
Onan bore seed, although it spilled.
John Ball revolted. First he tilled.

Let me manure. I fork. I spread.
Like harlotry, in white and red,
I raise commotion from a bed

For private pleasure, amply paid.
In shadow, color: sun and shade
Where Cain worked hard and Abel played.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

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.