Wednesday, July 30, 2008


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.


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."

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
Beyond . . .
a new Hymn.