Tag Archives: Poems

A poem for Monday

Someday they will ask you what love is,
those quiet voices.
Maybe you will say:
That love is boundless and blistering
as the first day of August,
wrapping all trees and chimneys
in its light.
Or maybe:
That love is a long afternoon indoors,
cool blessed air, an icy glass of anything,
bare conversation and bare feet up.
And you cannot forget:
That love is ragged toil,
heartbeat to heartbeat and day after day,
till the weeks run raw,
till your spine shifts from the years of it.
And you know, too:
That love is a blade without a handle
that gleams like galaxies in the dark,
cutting through coffins and entropy
and your palm as well; and the dark
in which it gleams is also love,
patient, silent, perfect, and broken,
an embrace that needs and has no name.
But maybe
you will only say:
That love is right now,
it is right now,
it is right now,
and so disperse, you quiet voices,
and stop asking what love is
and I will practice
what it does.

Ode on a Martian Urn

I wrote this in May of 2014. First time it’s seen the light of day. I tend to be very critical of my older work, but I’m actually still pretty happy with this one.

Thou Art, what art thou?
No clay-fingered potter wrought thee;
no blushing poet will sing thy praise
to an enchanted crowd:
child of the god of war,
color of rust, ancient as asteroids,
bold hypercubes writhe
rough upon thy surface.
What tesseract lies empty in its
stable, bereft of children
that they might decorate thee?
Brim-full of portent,
tick-tock-ticking unabated by
ten thousand thousand years,
what clock lies in thy shivering heart?
What crystal quivers for thy sake,
counting bright femtoseconds like fireflies
from the moment of thy creation?
And what doom draws thee near,
O Martian urn?
Barren waste lies where thy home should be,
thy rivers sere, thy valleys
choked with dust, thy mountains
scraping thin atmosphere
to grope at stars.
Wilt thou bring this fate
to fledgling Earth
when this thy clock expires?
And when all is done, wilt thou
lie close and say:
“Truth is terror, terror truth;
that is all ye know on Mars,
and all ye need to know.”

Friday Poem

W. B. Yeats wrote this a century ago, but it fits our current political climate so perfectly that I had to share.

They must to keep their certainty accuse
All that are different of a base intent;
Pull down established honour; hawk for news
Whatever their loose phantasy invent
And murmur it with bated breath, as though
The abounding gutter had been Helicon
Or calumny a song. How can they know
Truth flourishes where the student’s lamp has shone,
And there alone, that have no solitude?
So the crowd come they care not what may come.
They have loud music, hope every day renewed
And heartier loves; that lamp is from the tomb.

Have a gregarious weekend!

Haiku 365: December

And we’re done! A haiku a day, on average, for the entire year of 2015. (I will not be repeating the performance in 2016.)

People. Be impressed. Why aren’t you looking more impressed?

#335: 12/1/2015
Are there aliens?
Do they think we’re cool? Will they
notice our haircut?

#336: 12/2/2015
Winter is cliché.
Every year, more snow. It’s like,
really? Frost again?

#337: 12/3/2015
Koschei the Deathless.
With a nickname like that, you’re
just asking for it.

#338: 12/4/2015
Sky the color of
dirty mop water, cold wind,
grass still holding on.

#339: 12/6/2015
Monitor, world map,
picture frames, a desk, and books:
life of rectangles.

#340: 12/6/2015
Aluminum foil
sits crinkled and proud, corners
upraised like glad arms.

#341: 12/7/2015
Fresh start, clear cold day.
Frost is water: winter’s way
of cleansing old sins.

#342: 12/9/2015
Evil is not dark.
It curls up in warm faces
and becomes routine.

#343: 12/9/2015
Birds perch in fractals,
modulate their frequencies,
increase altitude.

#344: 12/10/2015
My house’s shadow
retreats inch by inch, serene.
Its time will return.

#345: 12/11/2015
Billowing purple
above city. Dim blue grass.
My new wallpaper.

#346: 12/14/2015
What is happiness?
Warm bowl of soup with noodles,
Betsy coming home.

#347: 12/14/2015
Sparkling Christmas tree.
Can I be nostalgic for
mem’ries never lived?

#348: 12/14/2015
Where is December?
To which month belong these warm,
wet, uncertain days?

#349: 12/15/2015
Post office, dentist,
Hobby Lobby, library.
Day of small journeys.

#350: 12/16/2015
Crosses of shadow
fall slanting on couch cushions,
bounding tracts of light.

#351: 12/17/2015
New Star Wars tonight!
Feeling like a kid again
(more than usual).

#352: 12/18/2015
Lines of blank thunder
course silent under clear sky.
Always there’s a storm.

#353: 12/21/2015
Friends and pizza come,
launching bright conversation
toward mirth and midnight.

#354: 12/21/2015
Children tiptoe to
Christmas, step by slow step. For
grown-ups, all too swift.

#355: 12/21/2015
Boxes and boxes:
rough cardboard, shining paper,
sought, prized, discarded.

#356: 12/28/2015
Bright garish TV,
squawking commercials, blank laughs.
Mute shade, come to me.

#357: 12/28/2015
Gentle, titanic,
obvious, necessary,
clean, warm, frigid rain.

#358: 12/28/2015
Polishing e-mails
to leap swift into the void
and come home laden.

#359: 12/28/2015
Five-inch thin red curve,
dry river, wrist to forearm.
Playful dog’s rough claw.

#360: 12/28/2015
I love “Kafkaesque.”
Shakespearean, Socratic –
make my name a word!

#361: 12/28/2015
Christmas here and gone,
wrapping unwrapped, stockings light.
Snowflake count: zero!

#362: 12/28/2015
Who forgot to lock
the great vault’s door? Who set free
these thick sky-broad winds?

#363: 12/29/2015
Sick wife stays at home.
Deploy Kleenexes and soup.
Rest for the weary.

#364: 12/30/2015
Penultimate poem.
One for each degree of great
circle, plus some spares.

#365: 12/31/2015
Farewell, Prospero:
Now your charms are all o’erthrown.
Ariel, ascend!

Haiku 365: November

It has come to my attention that the numbering of the haikus was off by two. The people responsible for numbering the haikus have been sacked. The numbering has been redone at great expense and at the last minute.

#305: 11/2/2015
Changing of the clocks!
We solemnly move back hands.
Time doesn’t notice.

#306: 11/2/2015
Black-and-orange pile –
Halloween decorations,
purpose extinguished.

#307: 11/3/2015
Voting: the fusion
of will with vox populi –
out of many, one.

#308: 11/4/2015
Cold apple cider,
no spice, no ice, plain round glass.
Laid-back November.

#309: 11/5/2015
A sky of dark rags
on a rose-petal blanket
lights up silently.

#310: 11/6/2015
Will this year die, too?
Joining its billion colleagues
in the whisper-dark?

#311: 11/8/2015
Voices, colors, lines.
Simple stories, simply told.
Take me somewhere bright.

#312: 11/8/2015
Midnight’s grandchildren
tiptoe in at six o’clock
under winter’s gaze.

#313: 11/9/2015
Brown mouse, shivering,
probes October air. Sniff, sniff.
Small life is life still.

#314: 11/10/2015
Knowledge is power!
(If it’s the kind of knowledge
that gives you power.)

#315: 11/11/2015
The eleventh day
of the eleventh month. A
good word, “armistice.”

#316: 11/12/2015
Light hours, heavy hours.
Light heart, heavy heart. Balance
comes and goes like fog.

#317: 11/13/2015
Green-and-yellow leaves
shudder, dive, and re-ascend,
clutching valiant twigs.

#318: 11/16/2015
Three and a half hours.
Not enough time for sleeping
or for waking up.

#319: 11/16/2015
Mice creep in, driven
by dark frost to our home’s warmth;
our reason also.

#320: 11/16/2015
Hard news and short words.
Dishwasher hums. It knows of
bleak work, of cycles.

#321: 11/17/2015
If my secrets and
your secrets were the same – oh,
what a waste of walls.

#322: 11/18/2015
Nooses and schedules
tighten. Rope supports or kills.
Careful with the tools.

#323: 11/20/2015
Nurses trump wizards;
drugs work better than magic;
hospitals grant life.

#324: 11/20/2015
Enjoy your new couch.
Get the shipping-box cardboard,
enjoy your new fort.

#325: 11/23/2015
First snow of the year,
pale frosting spread thin over
a vast chocolate cake.

#326: 11/23/2015
Beer, friends, birthday cake,
and colored pencils. Party
for former children.

#327: 11/23/2015
New couches arrive.
See them now, waiting aloof,
daring you to sit.

#328: 11/24/2015
Washer runs again,
resurrected without fuss,
chanting not required.

#329: 11/25/2015
Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Hm?
Mm, mm-hm. Ah, yes, indeed.
Well then! Very good.

#330: 12/1/2015
Fading afternoon
surrenders reluctantly
to evening’s triumph.

#331: 12/1/2015
Dormant Christmas tree
lies fragmented on carpet,
awaiting our hands.

#332: 12/1/2015
Flannel shirt’s repose:
no arms, buttons, or collar;
just a pile, cat-like.

#333: 12/1/2015
Americans love
French snails, Italian sports cars,
and British sitcoms.

#334: 12/1/2015
Don’t ask a cheese block
if you’re crazy. Silence is sad,
but a “no” is worse.

Haiku 365: October

#276: 10/1/2015
Let’s hunt unicorns!
And if we can’t find any,
then let’s just hold hands.

#277: 10/2/2015
Sing an apple-song,
thank the tree for bearing what
our steel cannot build.

#278: 10/3/2015
Fluorescent airport
full of soft curving steel lines
far too posh for us.

#279: 10/4/15
Narrow antique walls
whisper old stories loudly
while we try to sleep.

#280: 10/5/15
Drizzling firmament
matches puddle-rich sidewalks
synchronized in gray.

#281: 10/6/15
Rippling red dragons
watch like sages from their poles
revealing nothing.

#282: 10/7/15
Night in the city,
doors barred – strains of old guitar
caress thinning crowds.

#283: 10/8/15
Juggling fire at dusk.
Torches arc above the throng,
illuminating.

#284: 10/10/15
Languages of stone –
whispering buttresses recall
silent centuries.

#285: 10/10/15
In what museum
will shards of our work lie still
under glass someday?

#286: 10/11/15
The wonders of Earth,
proud, bright, have this in common:
that they are not home.

#287: 10/13/15
Down the rabbit-hole,
curious, curiouser,
till sunlight wakes you.

#288: 10/13/15
Consider the hair:
deaf, blind, cut back endlessly,
undeterred it grows.

#289: 10/20/15
Stubborn evergreens
hold out against fiery fall:
traditionalists.

#290: 10/20/15
For your ears alone,
irrevocably private,
the neurons whisper.

#291: 10/20/15
Cold is not a thing
but an un-thing, lack of heat,
yet it sings like fire.

#292: 10/20/15
Dry plants in old pots
await a soil afterlife,
deep, and free of wind.

#293: 10/20/15
A cluttered house is
life in motion. Should home be
antiseptic, clean?

#294: 10/20/15
Shh! All-Hallow’s Eve
creeps near, pumpkin candles bright
like the eyes of saints.

#295: 10/20/15
Cars save us effort.
That’s why we drive them to gyms,
where we exercise.

#296: 10/21/15
Plans like doves fly forth,
now and then returning stained,
weary, branch in beak.

#297: 10/22/15
Voices and voices
press in through this box of light,
urgent, seductive.

#298: 10/25/15
Win yew lye a loan
awl knight, ore wok four daze, a
lass! Yore mined gits week.

#299: 10/25/15
Rebellious body:
knees complain, stomach grumbles.
King Brain’s restless serfs.

#300: 10/25/15
The best thing about
finishing a book is that
now you can start one.

#301: 10/26/15
Don’t listen to me.
Especially when I say
“Don’t listen to me.”

#302: 10/27/15
Chimney’s silhouette
gazes lean, benevolent,
over pre-dawn street.

#303: 10/28/15
A car, an airplane,
Google Maps, unite two friends.
Evening of laughter.

#304: 10/29/2015
Gale screams, thunder cracks.
Eerie grey portal unfolds.
Bats swarm free like ants.

#305: 10/30/2015
All Hallow’s Eve, Eve:
pumpkins grimace, spiders spin,
gramarye grows thick.

#306: 11/2/2015
Low-level sickness,
just enough to make you tired,
crawls inside and purrs.

How I React When People Want to Read Me Their Poems (part 2)

‘As to poetry, you know,’ said Humpty Dumpty, stretching out one of his great hands, ‘I can repeat poetry as well as other folk, if it comes to that—’

‘Oh, it needn’t come to that!’ Alice hastily said …

-Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass