Poetry

Congregation of the Righteous

The only truth is

Touch, smell, survival

Let go of the need to think about

What has been said, what words

Need to be retrieved or repaired.

 

What kind of progression is this anyway?

Am I being genuine in my love and praise

Of the sparrow

Am I playing up to a god I don’t recognize

By the Word, but by the evidence of the

Creation–all green foundation

And blue raging borders.

Why language and the complexity of love?

Why grow past the oral stage and its

Guttural satisfaction?

 

Is this really what dominion is all about,

Failure towards everything we were

Put in charge of, which continues on

In spite of and around us?

Are there still days, after the flood

When you think maybe

You have created a monster?

 

Poetry

Honor Satellite

 

My mother cries for me

like I am the moon,

constant yet fickle.

What appears to her all too

frail human eye is not

reality.

 

I am not crescent or gibbous

and even new I am there, constant.

 

No reflection can deny the gravity

of duty,

no shadow cast darkness

across love.

Poetry

Differentiation Rules:

Product

 

Once when I was a dancer I felt it,

The pointe shoe chorus of snowflakes

Holding my invisible place, corporeal zero,

Every gesture a murmuration of birds

Black smog beauty, a rush of unity

We practiced diligently to achieve.

 

Chain

 

I should know I am a Scot—

Tightfisted heart holding its

Purse strings afraid and unknown

But beauty loosens me to Irish spendthrift

Debts owed to every gift of line

Those of words and of decoration.

 

Reciprocal

 

But the heart is alone, smelling of

Kombacha mother and cave air

A muscle clutching just above the

Black pit of a primal stomach

so romantic as to be ridiculous

if only not so essential.

 

Inverse Function

 

You are the point where I turn back

Again prodigal, unapologetic

The proverbs made new

Different characters, outcomes

Your body the feast

Your heart the sullen brother, lurking.

 

Power

 

Here the horizon turns on its head

Shakes down the swollen rain

Like candy from a papier mache hole,

Gaping, pouring deluge

The washout drowning

No nourishment holding to the roots.

 

Quotient

A heart is made of mica and rubies;

Which forms the wall and which

The liquid, what is the process

Of hardening, which of giving?

Where is the transformation complete

Or is there ever a chance for reversal?

Poetry

Microcosms

You live in fields now and

Fields are what man needs

As a whole, as a community

 

But you used to live in a lonely place

Where there were trees

And where the trees stood

 

There were ferns and mosses

Bushes filled with berries and

Fungus growing up out of decay

 

The woods provided for you

For animals and a few men,

Scattered families and solitude

 

Sometimes you would come out

Onto a lake shore and, yes, there were

Provisions there, fish and fresh water,

 

But the stretch of that liquid field,

Making the far shore miniscule,

Made you even larger

 

Magnificent and singular

This is the place you left

And the destiny.

 

Poetry

After Astonishment

In the cool morning air

I breathe like a panther

who has just tucked into

her meal, hard won.

 

But my eyes do not close

in bliss like hers, mine are

still wide and dilated

pulsing as if they could

 

breathe, take more in,

release more

molecules made visible

by the multi-million cones

of my cat green eyes.

 

The image convenes my heart

to run all its chambers

to quench its own thirst

for oxygen, for the hot inhale

 

of red spreading, soaking

into the tissues like love

like fear, like hatred

all the electrical impulses

 

we are told travel faster

than the speed of light,

but blood, blood travels

at its own speed, blood

 

tells its own story

carefully and fully

enunciated.

Poetry

In the Words of the Immortal David Byrne “How…

And I think it’s a lot like the song;

it’s a terrible series of accidents

 

Not a terrible accident, but the accumulation

of events takes on its own awful life its own

 

Fully animated, unavoidable, undeniable  

personality and I am left in lower case

 

A footnote, a collateral damage unsung

in any newspaper, patrol report or TV

 

Magazine segment.  I just ran parallel

to some other more important, more driven

Life that should have belonged to me, but so many

things kept me from laying claim– marriage, children,

 

A job that kept me from a career not to mention

a calling

 

So have I picked this moment, this time when I realize

that I had little choice, that I don’t know how I got here,

 

Do I pick this slice, this dip, this scoop of time

to listen, to hear the particular frequency,

 

The wave length, old-fashioned shutter gap

of my calling so that I can start a self-aware cartography

 

That will take me to a point where I can say

with some degree of certainty and maybe even

 

An endearing cockiness I took the 66 downtown

And then the light rail to the airport, boarding a

Nonstop to Paris , thinking I would never

Be seen again.

 

Poetry

Untitled, 1970

Cy Twombly’s gray palimpsest of a high school English teacher’s

bad day—the jumbled lines of some cursive instructions

written over and over—maybe his students made him write 1000

times I will not stunt my students’ creativity I will

allow their minds to wonder like the chalk now across this board

occasionally with fluid beauty, or with that scathing bite across

the blackness, often erased and hidden within it,

(though we almost never write anything on the board that

we’re ashamed of—maybe, before class, before anyone else

observes the clit, the dick, the tits drawn on the board, comic

book style or their corresponding, almost more powerful words

I just wrote them where you can see them.)

sometimes washed off by a student who can show their love

in no other way.

Poetry

An Evocation

Deliver

 

Definitions with Background Notes:

  1. To give forth or produce. There are many things one could bring forward. In the case of an article about teen slam poets called “Stand and Deliver”, besides evoking memories of Adam Ant or the movie about a gutsy teacher in a rough inner city school, they were bringing forth their vision of the future. None of these are what I think of when the word deliver is uttered.
  2. To bring or transport to the proper place or recipient. This could be a little more to the point, though it is hard to say if there is ever a proper recipient, a completely right place and time.
  3. To surrender (someone or something) to another; hand over. Yes, complete and total surrender, our will handed over to another so small and so innocent.
  4. To secure something promised or desired. Like anything they are often more desired before they are secured (pregnant daydreams of a Romantic reality) and this idea of securing only seems to taint the relationship. Certainly the idea that a parent ever had this definition in mind will be violently offensive to a child sooner than we can banish the thought.
  5. To throw or hurl. There are times when the delivery is forceful, pressure that has been built up will expel the object with great force.
  6. To strike (a blow). I’m not sure why that word is in parenthesis. A blow is sure and definitive, not parenthetical. It is no accident although possibly not premeditated.
  7. To express in words; declare or utter. Discussed under the first definition, although utterance has a more primitive tone, more akin to throw, hurl and strike. Physical reactions almost bypassing the conscious mind.
  8. a. To give birth to. b. To assist (a woman) in giving birth. c. To assist or aid in the birth of. Yes, these are the definitions I had in mind when listening to the mother of one of my students. She had brought in her son, two weeks old, for us to see. The mother, whose other child (my student) is nearing her fifth birthday, tells of the pain of the delivery as if it were a surprise, the pain seemed odd to her. “Someone told me with the second one it wouldn’t hurt so much.” And I do remember how surprising it was when my second labor started, surprising that I could have forgotten something so inescapable as that pain, that once it started it would not stop until it was finished, when I was delivered.
  9.  To set free, as from misery, peril, or evil: deliver a captive from slavery 1.When will we be delivered and what will this freedom feel like. Will we welcome it? Will we recognize it when it has been accomplished?
Poetry

A Glittering

 

“The smell of death here was overpowering. In fact, you could often gauge whether there were many or few bodies not only by the smell — which was so pungent that it almost provided a weird high, an asphyxiation, because your body didn’t want to process it — but by the little tornadoes of flies swarming into cracks in the rubble.” –Keith Marlowe writing for Life magazine talking about his photo of the collapsed Catherine Flon High School.

 

How will we find these pockets of bodies nestled like jewels

in underground caverns,

eyes teeth and blood glittering

in the lantern light?

These gems have not been formed

in the bowels of the earth

over millions of inhuman years

only a decade or so ago sprung

from mothers’ wombs and mothers’ arms

days ago pressed between layers of concrete

and plaster, the words shaken from the textbooks:

Les murs, plafonds, bureau, la mort, tremblement de terre.

The flies will lead us, masked and creeping, to these

strangely shrunken chambers– air, skin and bone

condensed to wafers, our tongues stick to the roof

of our mouths, eyes roll heavenward and stomachs

contract until nothing is left by the scent of spirits

so thick in the air.

 

Poetry

Last Hunt with My Father

The sun setting

every hair in white

relief—we are

surrounded by shadows

but the road is made of

strands of light.

 

He walks with the gun

broken over his arm

like an ermine stole

nothing like Henry the VIII.

We have a rhythm, grass crushing

anything outside register

my eyes follow the trajectory

of my dad’s gaze and extend it

to the rotten trunk

where the male has just

mounted, ready to drum

the thrum just starting

a heartbeat gone viral

until it stirs our guts like

heavy bass.

 

Even though

it will mean we’re skunked

my dad will not fire the rooster

as he calls out for love

from the tender heart

Of Koochiching.