Friday, December 05, 2008

Silly of Me

Here's another Bop. I'm coming to really dig this form for certain purposes. This poem isn't as good as I envisioned it conceptually, but there's still time.


The wind kisses the ocean's back,
waves rise like goosebumps,
fall soft as footsteps on damp sand.
The brown skin of the beach glistens
with the lines sung by
the surf's rolling tongue.

I imagine you curling your hair
or changing the Band-Aid on your finger.
Choosing between black heeled boots
or suede, wool lined slippers.
An expression descends your face
swift as Vietnamese swallows winging
through a name, startling as
the backwards knees of a Flamingo.

Tonight, you might follow
a string of numbers to this table.
Then wrinkle your nose above a smile
that curves like a bowling ball
down a shiny lane, before striking
all ten of my heart's wobbly pins.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

THE EMPRESS OF HIGH DESIRE
(For Yen)

Call her an electric currency.
Imagine a banknote
high as her cheekbones.
Yearn to say grace in Cantonese.
Not before an ordinary meal,
but before lips full as ripe fruit.
Say the tongue dreams
of tasting her oranges,
freshly peeled. Dreams
they say pluck me in Mandarin,
of softly circling a Navel.
The flesh pulses with Blood
anticipating a touch.

What does she deal
if not a high card narcotic ?
Call her addiction (opiate):
watch her smile blossom
wide as the petals of Poppies.
I cannot box, but will rebel
if denied these endorphins.
Intervene S'il vous Plait.
I'll relapse into a dream
of her slender fingers.
I bend like a card
marked by a yearning:
Wash me face down,
shuffle me by hand, I beg.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Other News

OK, here's a version of a crazy poem I was playing around with. The actual poem has a slightly different layout, but I don't think this blog format will display it properly. Lots of punning and tangential leaps, a few jokes and lines I thought might be clever. I guess it's a love poem of some sort.

OF HER MAPLE SERIF


A sign of

Love's liquid change

molecular letters

stated symbolically

buy a drunken tattoo

a tavern cryptograph ≠ a bar code

scanned lines numbered

Sin, Neck, Dough, Key

of lips radiating red

of hot fingers on a cool palm

excited now as though

she wasn't a complete tease

the hand covering her mouth

a stone bluff ?

Overhanging. A sticky desire.

To be called ?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Let us sing a new song

LANDSCAPE WITH MELODY
(B-Bop Solo # 3)

Her voice
rides a breeze,
her song washes
like eternal waves,
(although sea water
and the salt of sorrow
may be too married.)
Medleyed with a morning sun,
her tone tracks the heart's arc.
Since all that would elevate
fear what falling might follow,
she is careful,
sings of descent first,
is cautious with what
she allows to be heard
in the harmony.
And we wonder
what price of translation
she pays, as she sings
in a voice that is naked
and slowly utters
every word
by barefoot
word.

Her voice is more searchlight
than song, splashes dunes
with waves of something
wilder than water.
Her lyrics are a people's sighs
medleyed with moonlight,
a sound like whales exhaling.
Since tears shine,
what saline struggle
she's tasted illuminates her,
reflecting what
traces of grace
she may have seen
in the foam swirling
across what beach she walks.
She knows the sea and sorrow
sing in the same key,
but chooses to listen
to what the tide
utters in the interim,
word by rising word.

(For Cesaria Evora)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Morning in America

"This victory alone is not the change we seek, it is only the chance to make that change."

Past all the symbolism and the emotional import of last night remains the fact that this man is the real deal. Like the Tiger Woods of politics, not just I think in his appeal, but in his sheer ability to perform under pressure and get the job done. I am not often impressed, but last night watching that speech I was about as impressed as I have ever been by a politician. I loved the way he used the quote above to switch the tenor of his speech and deal with the reality of the situation we face. May god bless Barack Obama and god bless the United States of America. (Yeah, I'm a non-theist, but so what)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stop me before I hurt myself

Jesus, I don't know where this is coming from, but it's soothing as new rain.

GAIN

for X-tina

The best part is when I think
she hears my voice…

an earth-brown sound—pure rumbling
grainy as groundnut shells.

Last night I dreamt up volumes
with velvet ridges—

spinning, metal knobs for
when she is alone

and it seems, almost—
She wishes I were a knee-high boot,

so she can feel my tongue
along her legs.

Eavesdropping

A SIMPLE QUESTION

Is there a ticket into the reserved seats,
The roped off balcony in your head above
The quirky movements of the orchestra?
What can be read in the sheet music
Of your half-smile with its curling clefs;
An ancient oboe brooding in shadows
Or an internal organ piping its blues
Into your blood's oceanic motion?
Doesn't a subliminal sonata
ripple through this moment's facial flicker,
Coding your face's random freckles
Like a bowl of bruised bananas
Sporting spotted notes below attached stems:
Secret notation of the unsung soul?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dreaming

LUCKY LADY

I wax for your witching eyes when the moon
Mints its shiny coinage high in the sky –
When the black chips of midnight and its boon
Of bright stars are flung nigh like dotted dice.
The dozing sun reclines in Jackpot dreams—
All the slotted machines flashing red lights
As their trays are heavied with coins in streams
And your eyes waxing now, like mine, excite.
For some coins are cool circlings of silver
Wagered on the green tables of a dream,
A smile pressing the next bet. In this room
Where one awaits embrace: a flicker
Of fluorescence kisses quick. Sudden gleam
Of subtext; a winning wink of the moon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Status Update

Every once in a while as a poet you produce a poem that you feel like you didn't really write, but instead just happened to be holding the pen while it came through you. Below is one of the those kinds of poems for me, like all the technical aspects were internalized and I was just spouting pure poetry. It may be the fastest I've ever written any poem. I'm sure it can use some polishing, but there's plenty of time for that. Anyway . . .

[Untitled]

Once I was homeless
staggering down dark hallways
to snore in a sterile stairwell
where I dreamt your lips
kissing along my collarbone.
In the dream
your voice is cashmere
brushing my earlobe,
girlish and high
as Barbies on a shelf.
The curve of your spine
makes the small of your back
a jewelry box.
Like a snake, my tongue
can taste what will moisten
when I release its secret latch
and finger the velvet lining.
I have fallen down
enough bushy hillsides
to know how water
shimmers into a pool below.
I trace my name
in the sheen
on your inner thigh
Doesn't the forecast
of the first gasp
call for a firestorm in the brain
followed by a heavy downpour,
then the slow rhythm
of bright beads dripping
from eucalyptus leaves?

I have heard
that after the Autumn Equinox
you become Persephone
white knuckling the rail
of a long escalator
into a dark depression.
If, as we lay tangled as strands
of just washed hair
I held up a sliver of mirror
to reflect your laughter,
would it be sunlight enough
to seed the ceasing
of your smallest sorrows?

Or would it suffice
if you knew now
that last night
I slept again in a stairwell,
wrapped tight in the ragged
overcoat of my imagination
and felt the soft feet
of a nude descending
the staircase of my spine,
that her lips wore only a light gloss,
that this creaking morning
I'll stagger and stumble still,
but wearing her lip prints
like a necklace of light
whose gauzy glow hallows
whatever ground I cross?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nude descending the staircase of a spine

Once again, the view from the curb. The whizzing and splashing and passing of tires adorned with shiny rims and women's feet, in knee high boots, bopping past you into forever. (The refrain is from 'True' by Spandau Ballet)

SWAN SONG


The logic of your neck is fuzzy
The fuzziest peaches tender scented
the tender flesh, most willing
willingness wells like ocean waves
the wave and beach involved in a bite
the softest bite somehow best

I know this much is true

It would be Monday with a muted trumpet
there would be a piano flickering
your fingers across ticklish keys
the mood almost aquamarine
a Flamenco is scantily sketched
a solo dance, then a sigh
the trumpet blows air kisses:
the last kiss is pianissimo

I know this much is true

The kisses now miss your neck
The neck of logic isn't long enough
I long for a tongue, fuzzy as the sun
the sun sinks into the ocean's mouth
the mouth says goodbye with a thousand waves
waves won't cleanse the memory of your scent

I know this much is true

Caramel cameos

Found a new muse, gonna follow her where ever she leads. Messing around with some haiku, senryu, pseudo-haiku and micro-poems. Need to get back to reading poetry everyday, whether I write that day or not. Anyway . . .

My thumb
parsing the soft parts-
of her peach

Lost, I feel
the trunk of her leg-
this moistness, moss?

The ocean's salty
tongue laps the brown lips
of the beach

fondling her ear
she licks her lips-
starshine

As I decide-
the waves race up the beach
and back down


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On Love and Anger

Consider a clenched fist,
a flared nostril.
An expletive salting
the afternoon air.

Or a cashmere caress,
lips wet on a neck.
A whisper's velvet whirl
into an ear.

Two streams cascading
down different sides
of the same mountain.
Same fluid clarity.
Same foam
surging over
whatever lies
in the creek bed,
stirring turbulent reflections.
Who among us can bathe
and remain unswayed?

Friday, September 19, 2008

MELANCHOLY IS THE NEW ROMANCE

OK so here's a new sonnet, unrhymed, on an old topic. Still not sure about the title, but I'm just gonna let it marinate for now. I've got some interesting ideas for the next one, let's see if I can pull them off.

Sonnet #4

Are some things we resolve to sip simply
insoluble in sunlight or shadow,
solid as the oft denied dynamic
of sparkling hope fizzing in a fine glass?
The liquor of her laughter at my feat;
a jazz riff of ancient vintage on the
variable nature of our values
or a spinning record of our discord?
After she left, I arose, reeking of
the expensive perfume of high regret,
hearing hardy queries, old equations
in the new guise of Mile's muted trumpet.
Haunted by the inch of apricot wine
in the champagne flute of her parting smile.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looking back, looking forward.

I wrote the following poem years ago, it was in my book '4,000 Shades of Blue' as well as on my CD 'LibationSong,' but I was never quite happy with the ending. I'm not one of those poets who won't revise a poem after they publish it, for me poems are often living, breathing things that grow over time. I've been known to continually revise and re-publish poems. Here is what I think is this poem's true ending, the one I lacked the skill to find almost 12 years ago.

SOLO (IN THE KEY OF NICOLE)


She’s Miss Sweet Potato Brown
a steamy statuette
with caramel-colored eyes.
And with pepper tongue twirling
she sets whole rooms whirling
her black tresses swirling
so devilishly dervish
and needlessly nervous
though wordlessly
wordlessly weird.
After kissing her
I stumble into drugstores
and desperately undress all the chocolate bars.
Though she refuses all flowers
and will not hold my hand
she sleeps with me in a heavy sweater
as though almost afraid of the cold.
But it’s not until morning
over raspberry tea, that I read
in the lines around her half-smile
that she’s haunted passion’s alley
and searched through all the cans
but finds herself still hunting
with heavily soiled hands.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mixing mortar, baking bricks

Here's another try at the sonnet. This one is kind of special for me, been trying to write a poem for/about Phyllis Hyman for almost 12 years. I grew up with her younger brothers and sisters (she was eleven years older than me) and met her once in Union Station in DC. She was in line in the Food Court and I happened to be behind her and recognized her, she was dressed down and had just got off the train from NYC. We talked for about 15 minutes after we got our food, she was so fine and sweet and super quick and very real. Then she was gone.

NIGHT TRAIN
for Phyllis Hyman

What distant cry is this, whose rising moan,
whose flurry fleet of turquoise colored notes
caress the dark arms of the air? Then floats
and trails, rippling like scales or silver stones
awash and polished in a sonic stream
that cocks the head and taps the tempted toe.
Wends sibilant seduction in its flow,
vanishing towards the dawn like a dream.
Your bluesy whistle, hi-hatted with flair,
once also kissed the naked neck of night.
Improvised in the heat of harmony
it rose, a soft solo of hard blown air
dipping, fluttering, almost like a kite
held fast by cords, that somehow floated free.

I'm pretty happy with this version (Many thanks to Kevin Simmonds for his clear eye and sage advice), This poem probably needs to be recited from memory, rather than read off the page. I used to perform almost all of my poems from memory, but then again I used to dunk too. My dunking days are definitely over, but I can still memorize poems, it just takes work now, whereas before I would just remember them with no effort. I wish there was an open reading here in AC where I could go to try out some new stuff, maybe I'll trek into Philly to hit at one of the spots there.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Oh Happy Day

For a long time I've wanted to write a good sonnet. Lately some conversations on the Cave Canem Listserv got me to make some more attempts. I'm going to try to write five and see if any are worth keeping. Here is my first offering.

SONNET #6

The incense twists smoke into holy swirls,
cursive words written by a rising heat.
My fingers read the scripture of your curls,
looping in rhythm to a ballad's beat.
The night air darkens into a breeze, deep
and fragrant as a half-sipped glass of wine.
The ocean rocks our neighborhood to sleep,
though a shrouded moon seems too shy to shine.
Your shoulder is soft as a ripened plum,
warm as water in which we soon will bathe.
With quickening rhythm, our torsos drum
a hymn that crests like the peak of a wave.
Was any gospel writ on sheets so wet?
We pant in silence, drenched in sacred sweat.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Homage to my Old Town

IF ANYONE ASKS

I'm from houses on hillsides,
rivets in bridges and a tunnel's
dark mouth. From tiny rivulets
spilling into rivers trey or
the spray behind the Good Ship Lollipop.
From fragrant trees lining
a double-wide Shadyside boulevard,
a group of students earning
the steep grade of Mountain Ave.
or a back alley's cobblestone truth.
I'm from snow caps on city steps,
ice floes from bank to bank,
and rock salt crunching underfoot.
From behind Isaly's deli counter,
under the Kaufmann's clock,
pinned by a green pickle.
I'm from Falling Water and
Rolling Rock. From hoagies,
pierogies and chipped chopped ham.
From charred on the outside,
but ruddy on the inside.
I'm from a fountain that billows
at the confluence of dirty work,
clean sweat and hard desire.
From inclined rails slanting above
an abandoned warehouse and
the creaking descent of a cabled car.
From a furnace's 20 ft. flames
and a cauldron's white hot hiss.
I'm from triangular towers
and plate glass cathedrals,
from soot staining
forty-two Neo-Gothic stories,
and still stinging eyes downwind.
From Penn's woods and
Mr. Roger's neighborhood.
I'm from an arm that rifles
balls from the right field wall,
from the spittle jarred
by a hard tackle and the crust
of blood on a busted lip.
From a rusted trolley car
and a tugboat bullying a barge.
I'm from below the skull's hard hat
and above a skeleton of girders.
From the bluff over the river,
the gorge beneath the span,
the mist off the lock and dam.
I'm carried by a current
that courses hard
through the valley
of the shadow of steel.

Final Answer?

Looks like we might have a winner. After sleeping on it I settled on this version.

LASH DANCE

Your eyelids frame your
eyes and punctuate a question.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set against dark chocolate,
whose taut pupils decline to instruct, like
shells revealing, then concealing.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp jangles, quick as covert
glances, or eyelids flashing. One
cannot ignore this rhythm, I almost
seem to surmise a pattern.
To a curious lover, aren't blinks a
crack in the body's remorseful code?

But then recanted and switched to this;

LASH DANCE

Her lashes fly above her
eyes and punctuate a query.
Are they spilling secrets? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose taut pupils almost instruct, like
shells revealing, then concealing.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp jangles, quick as covert
glances, or eyelids flashing. I
cannot ignore these rhythms that
seem to surmise a pattern.
To an anxious lover, isn't any blink a
crack in an unremorseful code?.

After Pablo

This is my own translation of one of my favorite Neruda poems "Tu Risa"

YOUR LAUGHTER

Withhold bread from me
if you wish,
withhold even the air, but
do not hold back your laughter.

Do not withhold that rose,
the flower you pluck,
your joy bursting forth like water,
a sudden wave of silver
born of you.

My struggle is hard
and I return at times
with tired eyes,
having seen an earth
that will not change,
but on its entry,
your laughter
rises to the sky
in search of me,
opening all the doors of Life.

My love, in the darkest hour
your laughter blossoms
and if you suddenly see
my blood staining
the street's stones,
laugh, because for my hands
your laughter
is like a new sword.

Near the sea in Autumn
your laughter must lift
its cascade of foam,
and in the Spring, love,
I wish for your laughter
like a flower on which
I was waiting,
the blue flower, the rose
of my land echoing.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
at the crooked streets
of this island,
laugh at this clumsy boy
who loves you,
but when I open my eyes
and close them,
when my steps leave,
when they return,
withhold from me bread,
air, light, or even Spring,
but never your laughter,
for I would expire.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Revising What's Wrong

The problem with the previous poem "What's Wrong" is that both poems are saying the same thing, in pretty much the same way. I have to figure out what would make for good/interesting relationships between the two. Not sure yet. But the above isn't working, that much is clear. Maybe one is an open question, addressed by the other. I have to think more about the Tension/Resolution aspect of this.
Below find a second attempt. The poem is a quotilla where the seed phrase can be read down the left-hand margin.


Your almost grin teases the
eyes like a full-lipped optical illusion.
Are you bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose steep angle tantalizes.
Shells and a tiny ball moving.
My questions pierce like a wind chime's
sharpest notes. Quick
glances rich as sips of Merlot,
cannot help provoking the palate. You
seem almost indecipherable. But,
to a cryptographer, isn't any expression a
crack in the body's code?

This isn't so much a revision as an almost total re-write. I like the second one much better,but still don't know that the two poems do different work.

Here the next version, with revisions:

Your almost grin frames your
eyes like a full-lipped optical illusion.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose steep angles tantalize.
Shells and a tiny ball moving.
My questions pierce like a wind chime's
sharpest notes. Quick
glances rich as sips of Merlot,
cannot help provoking the palate. They
seem almost indecipherable. But,
to a cryptographer, isn't every blink a
crack in the body's code?

Better, but now the central metaphor is mixed. So, let's fix that.

Your eyelids frame those
eyes like a full-lipped optical illusion.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose steep angles tantalize.
Shells concealing a tiny ball.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp notes, rapid as my
glances, melodious as sips of Merlot.
Cannot any code be undone? You
seem almost indecipherable. But,
to a cryptographer, isn't any blink a
crack in the body's code?

Progress, but still not home. let's try this:

WHEN YOU GRIN

Your eyelids frame your
eyes like a full-lipped optical illusion.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose steep angles tantalize.
Shells concealing a tiny ball.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp notes, rapid as these
glances, rich as sips of Merlot.
Cannot any code be undone? You
seem to almost have a secret. But,
to a cryptographer, isn't any blink a
crack in the body's code?

Closer, but let's set up the last two lines a little better by introducing the idea of blinking eyes earlier in the poem.

WHEN YOU GRIN

Your eyelids frame your
eyes like a full-lipped optical illusion.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose steep angles tantalize.
Shells concealing, then revealing a tiny ball.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp notes, rapid as these
glances, rich as sips of Merlot.
Cannot any code be undone? You
seem to almost hide a secret. But,
to a cryptographer, isn't any blink a
crack in the body's code?

I'm still unhappy with the fact that both poem's themes are the same. I 'm going to try to re-work the ending.

WHEN YOU LAUGH

Your eyelids frame your
eyes like a full-lipped optical illusion.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose taut pupils tantalize.
Shells concealing, then revealing a tiny ball.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp notes, rapid as these
glances, rich as sips of Merlot. I
cannot ignore the rhythm. I
seem to almost hear a secret.
To a cryptographer, aren't blinks a
crack in the body's Morse code?

Maybe there's something here, let's tweak it a bit.

WHEN YOU BLINK

Your eyelids frame your
eyes, punctuating a question.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose taut pupils refuse to instruct.
Shells conceal, then reveal tiny balls.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp notes, rapid as covert
glances, rich as sips of Merlot. I
cannot ignore the rhythm. I
seem to almost surmise an answer.
To a lover, aren't blinks a
crack in the body's remorseful code?

This almost looks like a keeper. Maybe a slight adjustment here or there.

ON BLINKING

Your eyelids frame your
eyes, punctuating a question.
Are they bemused or amused? Damn those
almonds set in dark chocolate,
whose taut pupils refuse to instruct, like
shells concealing, then revealing tiny balls.
My ears are pierced by a wind chime's
sharp jangles, quick as covert
glances, or eyelashes dancing. One
cannot ignore the rhythm. I
seem to almost surmise a pattern.
To a curious lover, aren't blinks a
crack in the body's remorseful code?

Friday, August 29, 2008

ANOTHER POEM ABOUT HER

The following poem is my first attempt at an idea that I think has great promise. The poem is a quotilla where the seed phrase is also an original poem of mine. It's a haiku like micropoem that reads "Your eyes are almonds whose shells my sharpest glances cannot seem to crack." What I'm going to try to do here is to leave all the drafts posted, so there will be a paper trail of the revisions. The initial version is below.

WHAT'S WRONG


Your eyebrows arch. But those
eyes brown as groundnut shells
are what stun, like almost
almonds set in dark chocolate.
Whose polar stare have you stolen?
Shells of Brazil nuts aren't tough as
my questions seem for you. The
sharpest barb I could shoot
glances off. Its point
cannot pierce your porcelain mask, you
seem so sullen, I struggle
to discover what could
crack the code of your mood.

A NEW TUNE

I'm really feeling this new form, the B-Bop Solo. Here is my second effort. Hopefully I'll have another one started soon. The first two were failed Quotillas, but soon I'll start culling lines just for this form.

AT DAWN

(B-Bop Solo #2)

We could interlock,
in need of only ourselves.
A magic morning
once birdsung,
now caressed by whispers.
We could breathe in sync
if in need of a rhythm.
The anagram of silence
spells license.
What wild letters
would our embrace be?
B is the first letter
of beginning,
an initial sound almost
sacred as any word
we might whisper.

We might hum
like bees in need
of a honey song.
A magic buzzing
softer now as we nestle.
We could search
each others mouths,
in need of the tongue
that spells the final prayer.
What syllables
would be sanctified,
what sound sacred,
what word
as worship?

We could gasp
"Oh, God"
in need of air
in magic mouths.
Now kissing,
we could coil,
in need of more heat.
Our sweat beads,
spells exertion.
What place touched
would tingle most,
be the trigger of
that first moan,
more sacred
than any word
we might imagine?

Here is a Spanish version, some parts of the poem (like the anagram) don't translate well since they are based on intrinsic elements of the English language. Many thanks to Leo Lobos of Chile for this fine translation.

Al amanecer
(B-Bop Solo # 2)

Podríamos entrelazarnos,
sólo necesitamos
de nosotros mismos.
Una magia al amanecer,
cantada por los pájaros,
acariciada por susurros.
Podemos respirar
en la sincronización
en la necesidad
de un ritmo.
El anagrama del silencio
nos deletrea
¿De qué cartas salvajes
está hecho nuestro abrazo?
una explosiva carta,
el sonido inicial casi
sagrado de cualquier palabra
acariciada por susurros.

Podríamos zumbar como abejas
en la necesidad
de una canción de miel.
un sonido de caricia,
ahora situado más cerca.
Podríamos buscar
otras bocas,
que necesitan de la lengua
para la oración final.
¿Qué sílabas serán santificadas?
¿Qué sonido sagrado pronunciarán?
¿Qué palabra será adorada como un culto?

Se podría susurrar
"¡OH, Dios"
en necesidad de aire
en gritos de mágico asombro.
Besarnos ahora,
entrelazarnos podríamos,
en necesidad de más calor.
Nuestro sudor se une,
en enérgicos hechizos.
¿Qué lugar
dispara
ese primer gemido,
más sagrado
que cualquier palabra?

Translated by Leo Lobos

Leo Lobos (Santiago of Chile, 1966) poet, essayist, translator and Chilean visual artist. Unesco-Aschberg Laureate for literature 2002. He has done residences in major creative artistic cultural centers in France and Brazil.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A poem about a woman I really need to stop writing poems about.

AFTER WORDS

I was in a nightclub
chatting with the drummer
while the band took a break,
when someone pushed
a jukebox button.
A sax riff swirled,
exquisite and haunting
as fog in an open field.
The piano rumbled ominous
as mallets bounced
like acorns off a tightened tom
into a bassline deep
and dark as an open well.
When the tune ended,
I walked over
to learn its name.
"Alabama" by John Coltrane
read the label.
I stood stunned
in a corner of the club,
knowing this song
was the most sad
and beautiful thing
I'd ever know.

Last night you paused
in a doorway,
hair furiously spilling
over an exposed shoulder,
lips freshly glossed
and fraught into a frown.
You asked if I had
any last thing to say
before you turned . . .
forever.
I thought of our first kiss,
your tongue frantic
as the outstretched hand
of a drowning woman.
Recalled you whispering
"You can take me, however you wish,
but never have me."

I looked silently into those eyes,
sadder than the surface of a dammed river,
beauty frozen like a willow in winter.
I come here now
thinking of "Alabama,"
to speak three words
I thought I’d never say:

I was wrong.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More fun from the felt

Ace on the river,
Damn, did it help him?
The dealer looks bored.

The board pairs-
on the TV above us,
a shiny new boat.

Scary river card-
I stare at his sunglasses,
staring at mine.

After betting,
he looks up at the ceiling-
I'm down.

Dealer daydreams,
everything is so quiet,
Oh, it's on me?

The perky blonde,
who won that massive pot-
has a full rack.

On the button
I raise five limpers-
without looking.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Flushed, but still drawing

Been wondering when the two great loves of my life (Poetry and Poker) would meet. The dam appears to have cracked, here is the first trickle through.


After bluffing-
I watch a cute asian chick
stack my chips.

On the river,
a flash of red-
my heart?

All-in with a flush,
another spade turns-
I dig for more cash.

After betting big-
his chest rises, falls,
rises.

Betting AK
on a nine high flop-
lint on the felt.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

HAIKU

On the beach-
this book of nature poems
opens me.

Above the red lips
below the black brows-
the green of her eyes.

On this brick wall,
a dead kid's name-
still dripping.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Where I've been

It turns out I've visited 35 of the 50 states, although some states I was just passing through on the way to somewhere else. I can't remember if I've been to South Dakota or not. I'm pretty sure I went to Kentucky to eat at a restaurant with Jeff McDaniel and Joe Ray Sandoval on an AWP trip. I think the least amount of time I spent in any state was 45 minutes in Nevada, when me and Kenny Carroll changed planes in Vegas coming back from a poetry convention in Cali. I've spent most of my life (19 years) in DC, which isn't on this map because it isn't a state. The state I've lived the most amount of time in is PA (17 years), next is MD with one year in Baltimore in '68, then 4 years in PG County during the '80s, then NJ since I've basically spent the last 4 years in Atlantic City. I lived in TX, MS, WA, and MD during my three years in the US Air Force. No matter where I go or where I live, if someone asks me where I'm from, the answer will always be "Pittsburgh, PA."


visited 35 states (70%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Aint no Third Verse

Years ago I read in an interview by Bill Withers (one of my favorite songwriters) that the infamous "I know, I Know, I know . . ." section of 'Aint No Sunshine' came about because he hadn't writen a third verse yet and used that phrase as a mere placeholder (intending to replace it) but after hearing it, felt it brought something special to the song and kept it. I've always wanted to write my own 3rd verse, but it's much more difficult than it looks. You're only writing 2 new lines of 7 syllables each, since the song is a 12 bar blues and most of the lyrics are a repeating form, but still. So far I've got

"AInt no sunshine when she's gone,
[every face I've found is gray],
Aint no sunshine when she's gone,
[and I crave her all day long]
anytime she goes away.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Instead of Procrastinating

I was playing around with an extended riff on a list of words I got from Evie Schockley's Intro to the issue of Mi Poesia she edited, just trying to write some pure poetry, I came up with this. A kind of ecstatic exhortation, something different than what I usually write.

ON A LAZY DAY

Question the callalily,
Query its silent symbolism,
Dispute the divinity of its hue.
In question- The sturdiness of rhetorical stems,
Out of question-The plural of floral pleasures,
Beyond question-The dazzle of their dew.
Sequester all cellular insecurity,
Confiscate the plastic plants of certainty and
Seize the cool assurance of shadows.
Bequest a quick climbing vine,
Inheritance of the curious,
Legacy of the lost,
Heritage of the hopeful.
Quest incessant like a foaming wave,
Search scattered beaches on an
Expedition of dangerous desire,
Voyage of raging joy,
Odyssey of the seldom sane. An
Inquest of the native unknown,
Inquiry into thickets of thorniness.
Request random rhododendrons,
Plea bargain for the boldness of marigolds,
Call for kisses the color of cornflowers.
Wish for a dahlia's dense geometry and
Desire the daisy’s scalar
Conquest of the meadow’s melody.
Vanquish the stinging insects of doubt and
Defeat fear’s spiking spree by
Climbing a single sunbeam. Then,
Scale the sky's face with your
Acquisition of luminal levity and
Prize blindly what blossoms below.

A New Hymn

OK, so my old idea for the B-Bop Solo had actually already been invented, and had a name (the Quotilla) thus I have created a new form that I'm really excited about, this form will freely allow me to utilize Jazz ideas of improvisation in poetry. The idea is simple; to start by writing multi-stanzaic Quotillas, and then redo the line breaks and revise the poem in whatever way best helps the poem. Each stanza will still be tied together by the ghost of the original phrase, but the poems should flow better and lose all of the awkwardness that comes from being forced to use certain words in certain places. Here is the old B-Bop Solo #4, based on the Louise Gluck line "At the end of my suffering there was a door."

THE FIRST GOSPEL
B-Bop Solo #1

At the darkest center
of the soul,
there is a cry
without end,
the song of whatever
one suffers.
The eye is the pupil
of its own affliction,
a darkness dilating
like a learning.
Is the 'I' lashed?
Is something like skin broken,
the opening jagged,
groaning like a door?

At the core
of the cry, an 'I'.
In the center
of the 'I', an Iris.
At the end of its stem,
a serrated slash.
In the mouth
of the slash,
a bead of blood.
In the blood
of the suffering,
a saltiness.
From the salt
a sound crystalizes.
The sound is a hinge,
and from a swinging
of the hinge,
something like that door
opens.
Beyond . . .
a new Hymn.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just poking around

I unscrewed a simile
to see what was in it,

and found a smile
with an eye inside.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kinky Naps

So I lie down, eyes closed.
Sin wears silky lingerie, a
thin disguise for her
thighs. She
tangles my hair,
singles out a strand,
samples its aroma,
bands it together.

Bound, it feels better.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

One fringe benefit
of being a poet
is that even
when you're down
you can at least
throw objet d'arts
at the target of your sorrow.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Reasons

It isn't always
a tornado that tears
down the walls of the house.
We once lay interlocked
like links in
a fence around
the potato patch of love.
Your lips nudged my ear
with the words of Neruda
in the original Español,
every palabra coloring
your tongue like
a twist of licorice.
I fed you lines of Lorca
like fettucine al dente,
my voice warm and saucy.
We shared Shakespeare's phrases
like fries from McDonald's,
no ketchup needed.
And I guess what is woven
through all of this
like a blue strand of straw
is that we could've
kept feeding each other forever.
But nothing freezes my teeth
like cold peanut butter
and you just couldn't stop
putting the jar back
into the refrigerator.

Monday, April 07, 2008

On The Long Way Home

She said
she liked
being made
to wait
for it.

And thus
was in love
with ellipses . . .
the latest
of the Greek heroes.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Warning

Much of the following poem started out as Status Updates on Facebook.

DISCLAIMER

This is a free range poem,
devoid of antibiotics
and bovine hormones.
No animals were harmed
in the writing of this poem,
although it was tested
on several chimpanzees.
This poem has swollen hands
from swimming all night
through dark water.
This poem is not seeking asylum,
this poem was produced in a place
that processes nuts.
Do not attempt to duplicate this poem
it was performed
by a professional driver
on a closed course.
This poem is not readable on radar,
but has a high heat signature.
The claims of this poem
have not yet been verified by the FDA.
This poem denounces and rejects
Denouncement and Rejection.
This poem thought it looked sexy
in its dipthong,
then realized it had a consonant
caught between its teeth,
and vowel lint stuck
in its stubble.
This poem may cause you to feel
a sudden rise in blood pleasure.
If after hearing this poem
you experience an erection
lasting for more than 4 hours . . .
consider yourself lucky.
This poem knows firsthand
why the King of Hearts
is the suicide King.
This poem is absolutely,
positively not paranoid,
but very aware of the fact
that you have been following it
all the damn time.

Friday, April 04, 2008

On the Calamity of Cobalt Sphericals

THE TRUE MEANING OF THE BLUES
(according to Neckbone Nelson)

Is to be alone and horny
as a nine-headed rhinoceros.

With arthritis in your left hand
and rheumatism in your right.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

For Frida

Here's what I came up with for today. Enjoy.

SHIVER

It is dark
as I enter the garden.
Gently, I push aside
the twin slender branches
and marvel
at the moistness
of the petals, before
slowly
parting them
to bare
a glistening bud.

Then, softly,
I touch it
with the tip
of my tongue.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Light Through the Blind

Here is day two's entry. For whatever reason I write more poems when I'm running bad at poker, and judging from my results the last three days this 30 poems in 30 days thing might turn out to be a cakewalk.

SONRISE

Today is not 
my birthday.

But, what a gift
I am given,

when I awaken
and encounter

the up-curling corners
of your eyes.


(for Joel)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

For NaPoMo

OK, so it's National Poetry Month. This year to honor the month I'm going to abstain from banal intercourse and re-dedicate myself to the oral. Which means I'm going to try to post a new poem every day. Obviously most of them will be very short, and probably not very good. But here goes . . .

In the high coo
of a mourning dove, I hear
seventeen things to sing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Haiku

March morning
the windshield wipers fling
Cherry Blossoms

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quotilla #9 (your eyes are almonds)

WHAT'S WRONG

Your eyebrows arch. But your
eyes brown as groundnut shells
are what stun, those almost
almonds set in dark chocolate.
Whose polar stare have you stolen?
Shells of Brazil nuts aren't hard as
my question seems for you. The
sharpest arrow I could aim
glances off. It 
cannot pierce your porcelain mask, you
seem so sullen, I struggle
to imagine what could
crack the code of your mood.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Split this Rock

I'll be on Al Jazeera (English) on Sat. Mar 15th at noon reading and being interviewed as part of the Split this Rock Festival. I'm also reading on Fri. Mar 21st at 5 PM along with Grace Cavalieri among others.