Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Blind Painting the Nude

I've been the naked woman in the window
while light pattered over bed sheets.
My hair was upturned and just a slip
fell around an ear where a pearl—

I've been the naked woman sewing
with almost noon hammered over my
I've been a naked woman

slung to the dark town, spun visible
as the rain sloughed from my torso.
I've wished for umbrellas,
armour against the thousands of wet
cameras. At the same time, coveted
devotion, a discus shot back upon the lens.

Modelled in the bondage of drape, they languish
on beds, couches, under lamplight.
...................................I've seen a woman

blighted in daybreak pinks and backdropped
by the bluest of walls.
This morning, shutter
cords twist in my palm while light roughs

the outline of a mark. A brand, a mole
on my shoulder. Maybe a cancer, a pea
I've been a woman with one hand on the blinds
shuttled back and forth under thimbles, his brushes


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Back From the Ether

I have been offline for some months writing and trying to figure out what computer to buy.

Taking a break from poetry boards has always worked for me to re-energize and make me consider my perspective. It's like the person at a party who speaks too soon without consideration because - well, the party is going on and they want to charge ahead. But only reading and not posting makes me think and think again about what happens to the reader while they read a poem. And, does what is happening have some value?

Then the next knotty issue: if it has value, can we adequately say what it is if we critique? That part is the hard part.

I often feel like I am attempting Casaubon's Key to all Mythologies when I am struck by a good poem and try to say what makes it good. I find myself trying to explain why a line, word or whole poem is good based on its parts but have difficulty to find the language that expresses how the magic of all those parts work together.

As I considered the enigma of the good poem's resistance to definition, I began to think of the good writer as illusionist, a trickster who plays with our perceptions in just the right way. One of the pleasures of the text seems to be the pleasure of being tricked along the path of content.

Poetry boards are rife with critiques that state what makes a particular poem lousy, or what part of a good poem is lousy.

This year, I want to go looking for better ways to notice the illusory how of good poems.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

An Event Otherwise Known

Some things must not be known, not likened
—tales muddle in clocks, in time. Report:
Baleen Swims into Mouth of Fraser
Watchers point, Look! Look!

While the whale devours krill, radio waves
form and reform in the ear. Before the story
finishes it slips into a text, grows
great, grows small. Ten minutes, the hours
pass—or fifty years—an indent or paraphrase.
Details blur. Fresh water fungi or lichens
attack the baleen’s skin and, after three weeks,

it beaches.

That is the fantastical, the hook the hearer dreams
of, the mysterious whys. Tugboats in lines give
chase to drive the grey from the channel.
But it comes upriver with wisdom, a purpose.

At least we wish it to be true—for we must
make Mysticeti familial tales, myths of centric
matter. There! There! It swims
upon this page, beaches
in a margin. Now we know the reason
it flings fin and tail, submerges in the white.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Portrait of the Reader as a Man in His Kitchen

"We read to know we are not alone."
Spoken by the C.S Lewis character in Shadowlands.

Mouth at odds with countenance, he reads aloud.
His lips toss a pinch of salt, thrice sifted flour,
sprinkles of marjoram. Yet the body’s tilt, the crease
of brow, his internal thrust, pleads Holy Mary
Mother of God pray for us now and at the hour—
cinnamon. Every good receipt should have it.
And nutmeg too. Thou preparest — he's intent
upon a mirror. Upon the nuance of the cup.
But this slim vessel cannot contain fervent
utterance. He leans to recess, takes books sweet
as biscuits and breaks the bread of spines.
Eyes search for magical correlation, the obelisks
of feeling. He picks words from the rows and drops
them blindly into the shopping cart of his mouth.
While he works, his head bows to a wailing wall
of kitchen cupboards. Somewhere in the stacks
of Betty Crocker, somewhere there must be
the fit glove of incantation, its vesper
suffusing drawers of spoons, the hidden nook.
Roll the dough into the shape of this man. Let him
rise. Let him rise with a face, a body spiced.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


When the pigeons flew startled into the air

sounds like flap we say
sounds like what we cannot say
a mouth cannot form wing, say many wings beating

he ran. They always knew where the bombs
would land, could hear the whistle high above.
Like they knew the hawk, how predators

swooped from the cover of clouds.
When the bomb exploded in the square
he was far enough away, he was
saved. Now he walks slowly
on the flagstones, sits on a bench with his hands

overflowing with seed. Pigeons coo coo
at his feet or perch and peck on the bench rail.
Sometimes they fly up in a body, startled
by something he cannot hear or see.

sounds like flap we say
sounds like what we cannot say
a mouth cannot form wing, say many wings beating

He comes here every morning.
He comes here every morning.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

52-Pick Up May - Week 3

Reading Backwards, Pilgrims Happen Upon The Secret Map

This is how we read. Divining the miscreant,
slipping the knots of chronology. There and there—
in conversations with the dead
in sparks of bolt and wrench
above a moon keel-hauled by thievish company,
we dally. Become turncoats to order as a leaf falls
where it will. Long ago, we killed the navigators
of precise means and let caprice, the backward ghost
of slant, gather in the seams. As seer, it tells us,
tell us stories in bits and strings, gives us
tooth and tumbler, the wild figuring of sing.
So our caravan travels happily with the masked
bandits of sense. Cartographers affix small
dots of worship and pilgrims follow, discover far-
flung continents of pĂȘche, orchards of bloom—a man
sobbing at the flicks. We lead him. We lead him right
to left. We sing him to the peach.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

52 Pick-Up May - Week 2


I’ve been inhabited, spooked and haunted many
times. I know it when I walk the boardwalk
in the fog. Late at night. And see a white
rose, which I was given by those who came
before me, by the silent audience restless
in row seats at The Swan. They say it is an
echo. They said it is not yours. That you are a night
princess in your tiara—a little tyrant primping
before you sleep. As soon as you pluck a stem,
the blood beads on your finger. This slight pain.
It’s only the light. It’s only the light dribbling
at your feet. It’s only the plastic
chrysanthemums left in your dressing room—
a late sashay under the flashbulb of the moon.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Now We Sleep in Double Beds

Even the Thin Man in dapper robe leered
at his wife from his twin bed. We imagine

him getting up in the night and crossing over,
crossing this great divide dotted in bed

slippers. Nora, Nora, he would pipe, you
are far away and the moon rises, champagne

chills on the nightstand.
She is coy. And we
only imagine the unbuttoning, the layers

of frothy negligee disappearing off screen.
We grew up in black and white, separated

from our father’s desires, our mother’s
cloaked sighs. Her apron was spotless all

day. Each night she posed before her mirrored
armoire. A mock rehearsal. Brushing, brushing

—one hundred strokes until her hair shone like Troy’s
Helen. But he lay an aisle away and knew her tresses

were a trick, that he would not transgress.
Her hand, as always, hovers on the lamp

switch. Good night, she says. There is everlastingly
The Kiss. A quick fumble, the camera’s pan.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Letters to One Who May or May Not Be in Jiangsu Province

Henrys, Margarets and Sophias, one grave
marked Theodore. Before the noisy rustle,
a fall in choral suite, I did not know this rasp.
How my voice would go as you have gone. So soon.

Or where, which latitude—or was it north
to south? Now excavating, my planchettes
—a shovel, a brush and pen—point
east to China seas. Through the core,

I dig. Exhume ash and old woods petrified.
Along the banks of Qin Huai the forests
grow lush though blue amid a hapless stirring.
My trowel brushes a desiccated

onion, a skin. I quarry the red heart
and spade toward this or another day.
Kneeling low, feet almost shy and propped
in tidy furrows, I write of famine—

on the page’s throat, on a parched fold.
When you see the mulch crumble in the light, look
for the mute who bears a foot, a palm, a conch
as offering. Like the woman in Jiangsu who listens,

an ear to the earth, this shell holds the other
chamber, where green sounds shush east and west.
Between, the lines criss-cross, invigilate
which way, on what meridian we rest.

52 Pick-Up May - Week 1

Blindfolded into Sleep

Consider Lady Jane, how Delaroche painted her
with eyes bound in white silk. In a white
dress, with so much gloss upon her, she shines.
She shines like an optic blight. Cover your eyes.
Morning comes with shots, with blows.

The black hood the executioner wears at beheadings,
the mumbled petition for forgiveness,
the fall of the axe— whose eyes, face, lip in its down
turning should be masked? At dawn,

they line up spies, blindfold and tie them to a post,
as if their eyes would capture the report. Smoke-
blurred, the faces of the firing squad fix on first light's
mark. Like a daguerreotype, the dead reflect the faces
of their executioners. As I slip silk over my eyes to blot

out the leaking brightness— all gleam, all stars, the moon,
its glimmer— I wonder

what hood goes on what head.
How death has so many protocols.
How the victim's eyes staring into the barrel
bend bullets into the air. Or so it seems.

52 Pick - up

Recently I participated in NaPo. I found that forcing myself to write so quickly freed me in many respects from worrying about the audience. You know those pesky birds that seem to perch on your shoulder like the devil and block you from writing.

In keeping with that experience, I intend to continue to write often by writing and posting at least one poem a week. 52 weeks, 52 poems! I will be removing the poems as I sub them as editors are getting very persnickety: if they google and find your poem, they may not publish it.

Nic, Julie and Scavella are up to no good with a different kind of writing twisty. Write 1000 lines in IP!