Friday, August 31, 2007

Variations on a Theme

Just messing around with some new ideas, thought I'd try this and see how it turns out, more of trying to use Jazz ideas, actually Bop ideas, (making a new melody out of old chord changes), analogically with language in poetry. This form is called a 'Quotilla' and they are kind of the opposite of a sestina. We'll see how it turns out.

Four Variations on a Theme
(for Joelito)

I am holding you in one arm,
can't find anything else to pack.
"Stand still, Daddy" you beg,
the words falling faster than
rain rushing down the gutters, racing
against everything that falls,
my reign in this house included. The
window frames the sullen clouds.

I know what the clock says, and
can't solve what still
stands between me and
the woman you call Mommy.
Rain drums its cold fingers
against the heads of houses. Outside,
my parking meter has expired, the
window filled by a bright red flag.

I set your two years down slowly,
can't hold you any longer.
"Stand there by the windowsill,"
the door groans to you as it closes.
Rain rumbles, flashes a dagger
against the dark sky, you,
my only child, want to run past the
window, to my arms bulging with boxes.

I reach the van, turn a last time,
can't believe how you
stand so still as I close
the door. A fine curtain of
rain falls, refusing restrictions
against its wishes, animates your arms,
my hands. From opposite sides of each
window we wave, faces dripping.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Here's an experiment, it's a half-breed idea partly based on the Bop and partly based on a form called the 'Lyric Acrostic' or 'Quotilla' that I first saw used by by Evie Shockley. It's just the first take (so to speak), I'm not sure about a couple of things, like if the underlying structure is too esoteric. Although if the piece works that shouldn't matter. The problem is, I don't know if it works on its own or not, that's probably the main thing I'm unsure of. We'll see, I'll sit on it a couple of days, maybe tinker with it a tad. Anyway;

The Idea of Improvisation at Newport '61
(with apologies to Oscar Hammerstein and John Coltrane)

Butter on biscuits and denim on dresses,
Perfume on pillows and long sassy tresses,
Sweet tea from tumblers in throat soothing swigs,
These are some cool things a cat like me digs.

Raindrops and fingers drum
On the windshield of the car,
Roses lovely up an empty seat
And await your smile, white as
Whiskers curling
On my chin. Curious as
Kittens, they anticipate your
Bright eyes, shiny as
Copper pennies, two
Kettles of kindness.
And what could be
Warm as your hands? Not knitted
Woolen scarves, or those red
Mittens you lost last winter. Long
Brown legs, where are you?
Paper bag brown, twin slender
Packages of promise. Are you
Tied up on the telephone, tied
Up in a meeting
With the boss like
String knotted into fishnet?
These questions vex,
Are six roses sufficient?
A light drizzle falls, a
Few wayward drops
Of rain caress my hand,
My fingers think of your
Favorite spot to be touched, imagine
Things they'll soon coax you to say.

Cranberry candles and cognac in crystal,
Flannel pajamas and touches that tickle,
Feeding you chocolate with raisins and figs,
These are some cool things a cat like me digs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bluetooth til the batteries die

If you have a minute and are interested in reading some very good poems, check out the online journal Quest. The current issue is edited by Evie Shockley. I knocked out another Bop, this one is lighthearted and fun and based on a line from a song Prince wrote, although the two female cover versions (Stephanie Mills and Alicia Keys) may be more famous than his. It starts off with a Dr. Seuss riff and gets more bizarre from there.


One phone, two phones, red phone, blue phones,
and still, a watched pot never boils.
I got an antique Bell in the attic,
gotta cordless can in the den,
got a slim cellphone with phat ringtones
that I stole from the T-mobile store, but . . .

How come you don't call me anymore?

You thought a Sub was a sandwich,
Thought Dom was a brand of champagne,
Didn't believe a Tootsie Pop lick
could make you cry out a name.
Was there too much static in my lines,
too much kinkiness in my cord?
I let you play my number,
straight, boxed and even Pick Four, but . . .

How come you don't call me anymore?

Was there something odd in my digits,
too many sixes, not enough nines?
If it's a question of not enough change,
I'll donate a dumpster of dimes.
Maybe I shouldn't have left you
handcuffed and moaning for more, but . . .

How come you don't call me anymore?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Check It out

We sat on different sides of the porch.
The sky was flat and black
as a freshly washed chalkboard,
all the bright equations erased
as if by some giant galactic hand
while fireflies mimicked the missing stars.

Please remember what I told you to forget

What split us? Maybe me having to be right,
maybe you having to be snide,
maybe it was X + Y never really equaling Z.
Maybe it was the way your almost orange cat
scratched at the bottom of the stairs,
or the old issues my white stray found
behind the Recycle can. Maybe it was just
the constant criticism of the crickets.

Please remember what I told you to forget

Take the time to look out your window,
note how the stars have returned.
We agree that neither of us
enjoys Long Division.
If we reduce the fractions,
perhaps we can find a common denominator.

Please remember what I told you to forget

Will it Go Round in Circles?


A rhythm incessant and roiling like rain,
rushing to spill, I realize now,
rolls the rich blackness of your eyes.
Below the thick, rhyming lashes, curving
like question marks, revealing as riddles,
lie random clues to all the things you are.

There will be an answer, Let it be, let it be.

Blue, is the color of your favorite wine,
Since you were born under such a bad sign.
And the Blues is what you gave me,
When I asked you for your hand,
I said, the Blues is what you gave me,
When I asked you for your hand.
Does your rain form a rocky rapids
that capsizes every man?

There will be an answer, Let it be, let it be.

Maybe the question that blazes in your eyes,
Is what makes it so very warm for May.
Still, you soak my heart like a heavy towel,
Til I can't stand the rain, outside my window.
And I wonder, if I run my tongue up your bare spine,
How long will it rain, how hard will it fall?

And, there will be an answer, Let it be, let it be.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Letting Go of My Egrets

My egrets land after the sun goes down,
whirling on the evening wind
wide as the skirt of a winking woman,
whose lipstick is red as a deadly sin
and shinier than an Archangel's conscience.
My egrets are long-beaked,
fish the cloudy marsh of my conscience,
they do not eat like birds,
their hunger will not be sated
by a single multi-finned act of contrition.
My egrets are sacred, but will not sit
pretty on the head like
my grandmother's Sunday hats.
My egrets caw as they claw the water's skin,
caws sharp as the teeth of a tiger shark.
My egrets are not an endangered species,
they rise plumed like geysers in moonlight
and multiply like mathematicians from MIT.
I recall the words that created
many of my smaller egrets,
when they surround my squeaky bed at night
with their rapid knee-high cries.
My biggest egret tosses its head
like a woman I never asked to marry me.
My egrets are Herons, but not heroic,
and almost addictive as heroin.
I sometimes wonder about my egrets
as they strut about in their long-legged gait;
how they fly so far on those thin white wings,
how they maintain such perfect memories,
why I feed them so religiously every night?