Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30 thank God it doesn't have 31 days

The epimedium's leaves spread into hearts,
rimmed with purple, to match the flowers
that are dying already.

A light at the end of the corridor,
yes, that corridor,
switches off.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29

Ripped from today's headlines

Miss Kreshi re-rediscovered Noah's Ark this morning.
She was just out walking her goats and there it was:
"I don't really think I noticed it before,"
though this was a well-worn route for her herd.

Noted archeologist Lord Blankenship claims it was there all along.
"It's right where I last discovered the irksome thing!" he exclaimed,
only peeved because the site had gone undeveloped all these years
though the grounded vessel offered terrific opportunities.

You could build a hotel-- or at least a cafe...
His Lordship was last seen wrestling one of Miss K's goats
for the branch it was chewing, the explorer believing
the stalk may be the very twig carried by a certain dove.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28


An ordinary college evening,
okay, maybe a Saturday, tripping,
and suddenly the pieces fall
together. Of course: the universe
could only have been created by Love.

Obviously hidden.
Mysteriously clear.
Laughter ensues.
Religions right after all?
What's a sophomore to do?
Repent? Too funny!

Love. Pure love permeating
black holes in space and nova
lox. Salmon, nebulae and the dot
matrix printer, newly invented,
adding to the perfection of it all.

Just like the day at the armory,
when I saw what happens when a tiger
bats its paw, just like my cats,
when annoyed, but causing three red lines
to appear through the trainer's white shirt,
lines visible from across the vast armory.

I remember these stripes
and the tiger. I see them now,
tiger and trainer, in eternal embrace.
Love is so different sometimes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27



Caused by collisions of more weather than you are ever
Likely to disentangle
Or even hope to
Understand, they nevertheless continue to hover:
Discarded dream fragments
Slipped skyward.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26

Poems from Scraps.

This continues an abandoned project of making poems from pieces of the guide to wildflowers.

Some White Flowers

I've sung praises of the Buffalo Soldier
while stepping on Buffalo Clover
with its heart shaped leaflets (notched at tip)
and trodden the despised Hairy Bush Clover,
a branch of the family no one wants to know,
dwelling along roadsides.

But none so hated as the Gall-of-the-Earth.
Though it flowers creamy white and bears
pinkish bracts, surely it made some damning pact
to earn such a name. In dwells in moist woods.
In the book, it besmirches the page
devoted to loose clusters of dangling bells,
rattlesnake roots. No innocent white flower
is without its malevolence.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25

I'll admit it: spirits are flagging. I'm crawling to the finish line.

Everything is boring.

Yes, everything is boring
now. It wasn’t when I was your age.
We’d sprinkle our heads with fairy dust
(luckily no one had allergies)
and the abandoned garage became a dungeon.
Don’t even ask about the tortures.
Even the internet is boring?
All the interesting sites want money
and you have none.
The television?
Only sports and you don’t care who wins.
It only matters when friends –- or foes--
are playing and today they’re all away.
I saw a program about a man
who was talking on a landline
when lightening struck.
He became a pianist.
I wouldn’t try it though.
You might end up a baboon,
flinging feces, the way our luck runs.
Just listen to the nuthatch
with that same tweet
over and over again.
What is he calling for?
Yesterday he squawked
and I thought perhaps I scared him.
But usually it’s just this tone.
I hear it all the time.
Sometimes it annoys me
that long, piercing note,
its meaning impenetrable.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24

Find a phrase

May my vessel be shattered by such fierce winds
not a board remains to bear me aloft on the seas!

The very formal pirate always tried to honor
his tyrannical English teacher

and never uttered such crass statements
as shiver my timbers

though the image of every slat
quaking with fear as the waves tore

and sheered it to splinters
might have won the pirate a gold star

and saved him a lifetime of seasickness.

Twist a phrase

Liar be square
Slime fries when you're having sun.
Truth is tasted on the tongue.
Pleasure twice: slut once.
A turd in the sand is worth poo in the tush.
A twitch in time shaves pine.
Dead guy at night, trailers turn right.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23

Prompt: "unlikely couples"

Title: "The Ancient Farmer Goes for a Spin"

My granddaughter stopped by to take me for a ride on her Harley,
remembering how I much I always loved spring.

Weeks can go by without ever setting foot outdoors, living at "the club"
so I was a tad surprised when I got my first whiff of it.

Manure on the fields already? It's only the third week of April.
They are always reminding us about the days and the months,

as if they could make us care, like our teachers tried to make us care
about the Romans and Spartans and their endless battles.

They never could and we still don't care. But it was good to get out
and see the fields already tilled smooth. Granddaughter said winter

ended early this year, that's why the farmers have started.
I'd have asked her not to drive down Cooleyville way,

if I'd thought of it, but once the motor starts up she can't hear a thing.
They're nice enough houses, and the builders need the work,

but I remember when those fields were dancing with white potato flowers.
At least the wild oats are shooting up by the reservoir. Were they always so green?

Some of my friends at "the club" have died in their sleep.
I've thought about how, before they did, they had one last dream.

Perhaps this is it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22

I took one word from the prompt, Reverberate, and let it reverberate, spawning words from itself. Maybe this is a form?


Trees berate beavers.
As verbs rate, be beats rave.
Bees veer at beer:
See breast, sate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21

You Think You’re Humble

When she heard the story of the rug maker’s intentional flaw,
she laughed: “I don’t need to try to make a mistake:
I know there will be one!”

To believe in One Holy and Omnipotent Deity,
I must have faith that all the cracks,
chips, aches and pains add up to perfect wholeness:
pure sanity wrenched from madness.

I dreamed last night that the walls were oozing black tar.
I tried to staunch them with tissues.
Faucets didn't respond to my touch.

When I awoke, the only problem
was a swarm of tiny ants in the cat’s dish,
eating his leftovers,
easily dispatched down the garbage disposal.

You see.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20

The prompt: a hero
The response: a pair of prose poems. (Maybe I could write a book of portraits of exes.)

Hero –Tom 1 (1975)

You and your buddy enlisted together but they split you two up and you never knew what happened to him. You came back to Jersey at 26 and got a job driving my school bus. You didn’t have “a habit”—only used H occasionally, for a treat. The rest of the time it was scotch and quality pot, which you could roll with one hand. What teenage girl wouldn’t idolize you? When we walked across a field, you told me you were having a flashback. Mud and walking did that, but you didn’t mind too much. You felt best when the weather was hot as New Jersey could make it and humid, rowing your rickety boat in the Hackensack River where no one normal would dip in a toe.

Hero—Tom 2 (1995)

Your mother had prayed a rosary for you every day and I thought that’s why the shrapnel, scalping you, left you with brain enough to function, so long as you took the anti-seizure meds. You didn’t believe in prayer and didn’t tell me about the toupee until I tried to mess up your hair, because there ought to have been something to do with it that would look a little more presentable. I guess you knew you weren’t presentable, so you built a log cabin in the woods and lived there with a sweet dog. A narrow bridge spanned a stream at the bottom of your property. I was always amazed it held my car, when I came and when I left.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19

Prompt: the light bulb moment

Title: No One Is Wearing a Costume

Before our first kiss, he confessed he "had a diagnosis."
No wonder he was single. He was cute,
but the mental condition had kept him out of circulation.
Still, he took his meds and was ever so gentle: a librarian.
"The doctor said it was a good career, for someone like me, or me."
He had his quirks, but who didn't?
Who was to say a crazy guy wasn't perfect for me?
I had done worse. A few times already.
True, he insisted there was no such word as "apparel"
but I didn't need to use it much.

We drove down from the country to Manhattan,
one pleasant October day. The usual city parade
was more garish than I remembered: a pirate passed us,
and a whore, who wasn't really a real whore,
because she had a smile, and she walked
holding hands with a chimney sweep, all covered
in black soot. "I'd forgotten it was Halloween!"
I exclaimed, squeezing his hand.
"Oh, is it? How do you know?"
"Didn't you notice the costumes?"
"No one is wearing a costume."

The pirate, the executive, the whore:
whatever code they used to determine their facades
would never be decoded by him. He'd wear the jeans
and flannel shirts he knew to wear. The circus
could not be distinguished from the cathedral.
I admired that all places should be so holy
and so terrifying. But I knew then, I'd have to leave him.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18

Cats? You ask me to write about cats! I always write about cats. I just had to go for a medley. Some of these are even from this month's challenge.

Random lines about cats

A white-masked cat, stretched out for cooling
atop a sepulcher, sees me and vanishes.

not a pizza delivery: a bomb
or the cat escaping
into dark streets where grandmother
leans against the utility vehicle

Used bookseller celebrates
the knowledge that remains
on the page, crinkly, sniffed
by white whiskered black cat.

A cat comes sailing down before your eyes.
His owner's scream after.
Everything that day is flattened and you know
you must get to a land without ledges.

The sound of ultimate satisfaction, the purr,
designed so that mama knows her kittens are
receiving milk, does not always mean all is well.
A dying cat may purr. Though perhaps this does
mean that all is well, in Julian’s cosmic sense.
Which is why her icon shows her with cat.
Which is why she fits in so well with my family
photos, all of which show my mother, holding
various cats—gray, black, calico.
One can date the photo by which cat is held.
The last photos feature the orange striped cat,
just like the one she’d had when she was young.
When he died, she said no more.
When dying, humans do not purr.

Aubade with Cat Lady

The breakfast call of the cat lady penetrates the block,
screeching into bleary toothbrush wielding mother’s morning,

setting loose a stir in shrubbery as delicate paws emerge, whiskers
sniffing air laden with odors of bacon and Dial soap.

“Here kitty kitty kitty,” the hearty soprano resounds, bounces
off stucco and brick, slips through Venetian blinds, insidious

as the felines who stroll, checking the scent of rivals
on leaf and chair leg, wary of the hedgehog

who lives under the sagging porch
with its bundles of newspapers,

stropping her pajama’d legs and offering up purrs,
a chorus of rhythmic lapping, their hearty response to her song.

The cats don’t mind a chill day, their coats protect them,
but against wind, they are powerless. Especially with long fur,
which ruffles so easily, the wind must feel like a thousand nasty
hands rumpling his fur and exposing his skin to the chill breeze.
They were out a short time and are now very contently curled up in the warmth of the living room.

I looked at Her and trotted to the door,
one meow and I was out to play.
Now I am out. But what for?
I want in and right away!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17

Sunday River, April 17

you thought I was done and wasn’t coming back till next fall
you let your pretty green buds start peeking out and the forsythia
with no shame at all was ablaze
but I gave you all a very nice coating
you look so pretty with a touch of white on your branches
and once again the skiers go whooping down my tempting surface

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16

Vicks VapoRub

The vapor’s visible and if it penetrates
my lungs , I’ll start to feel better,
menthol soothing like my mother’s
hand or lips on my forehead.

My own touch couldn’t tell anything,
on mine, or anyone else’s head.
These were mommy magic powers
that just needed to be confirmed

once the threat assessed by the shook
down mercury in the thermometer
under my tongue while I tried not to breathe
through my mouth too much.

If I qualified, I’d stay home in bed
read the next Nancy Drew, to be shelved
besides fifty others. Their hard covers
had pictures printed right on them,

no dust jackets to get bent or lost,
leaving just a dusky, old green book
with words on the spine faded to begin with.

Why do I feel my hands getting dusty
when I remember handling these books?
My mother bought them for me new.

Is time seeping through? The inevitable
sorting, carting off to leave the old house bare,
smell of boxes, old books, stronger than Vicks.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15

A poem originally called "Death of the Plastic Bag" now to be sung to a sing song ditty like what ice cream trucks play.

I swear by my swirling sand

That after leaves have failed and flung

their Christmas lights which once were strung

bare branches with their plastic bags

hide for shame in steepled crags

contagions spread as dove’s wing’s soar

Wondering what it was all for

What it was all for.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13

Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie

"In triplicate, he's sent an application, listing grievances, to the stars."
Better them than me.

The drivers all tailgate him.
The government's gone mad.
Dog owners don't know the meaning of voice command.

The stars are in for it now.
Will they weep, as I do?

Dry cleaners destroy his shirts.
Ski season ended too early
due to global stinking warming.

A professional kvetch, I explain, should hold something in reserve,
offer a surprise now and then, especially when dealing with celestial bodies.
Why should they hire him from among the trillion applicants,
rather than, say, the ghost of my father, who now has eternity to perfect
his critique of his stepfather's choices,
alternate scenarios sprouting like dandelions,
the whole duck family of Couldve and Wouldve
marching in procession across galaxies.
Planets ricochet while a mysterious gentleman
hangs up his pool cue. Pockets fill: coins spill.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12

Decoder Girl

License plates are trying to tell me something.
Not the cute ones: EyeDoc or JensCar. Those don't even have a role
to play in the great unfolding.

But the random ones are fragments of a predetermined message.
One day, traffic will line up perfectly--from Key West to Nome--
Total gridlock.

We all stop and watch as it starts to make sense.
Even the unintelligible signs
that number bridges will fall into place.

Don't mind me if I seem to be driving in circles
until then. If I don't run out of gas, I'll be there
when the letters add up.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11

A choice. This is the feline's worst dilemma. The furry one took over the keyboard today.

I looked at Her and trotted to the door,
one meow and I was out to play.
Now I am out. But what for?
I want in and right away!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April Time's a Flying 10

Spring Celebration in Florence (not Italy)

Cafe's "open" flag
celebrates wind
by wrapping itself
round the pole
and just a few inches
flutter freely

Students celebrate coffee buzz
by diagramming on napkins
careful not to deface
the books they hope to resell
after all necessary knowledge
has been absorbed

Used bookseller celebrates
the knowledge that remains
on the page, crinkly, sniffed
by white whiskered black cat.

Do you need dramamine for dreamtime?
Do bicycles enjoy their ride on the front of the bus?

Two jogging blonds high five at the corner.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9

napowrimo #9: your mission
April 9th, 2010
by the Read Write Poem Staff

RWP member Robert Peake has shared with us a prompt he used recently with one of his established writing groups:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:

* Use at least twelve words from this list: flap, winter, torch, pail, jug, strum, lever, massage, octopus, marionette, stow, pumice, rug, jam, limp, campfire, startle, wattle, bruise, chimney, tome, talon, fringe, walker; (didn't do these)
* Include something that tastes terrible;(did this)
* Include some part (from a few words to several lines) of a previous poem that didn’t quite pan out; and (used Keats instead)
* Include a sound that makes you happy. (this got it going)

The sound of ultimate satisfaction, the purr,
designed so that mama knows her kittens are
receiving milk, does not always mean all is well.
A dying cat may purr. Though perhaps this does
mean that all is well, in Julian’s cosmic sense.
Which is why her icon shows her with cat.
Which is why she fits in so well with my family
photos, all of which show my mother, holding
various cats—gray, black, calico.
One can date the photo by which cat is held.
The last photos feature the orange striped cat,
just like the one she’d had when she was young.
When he died, she said no more.
When dying, humans do not purr.
They say all food is bitter yet they beg for it.
They groan and plead and say they are tired
of being in a body but we must leave them there
and read them “O, for a draught.” Keats’ song
the only “melodious plot” we can hear
within whirring hospital walls.

For icon see

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8

Love’s Big Adventure

When we met, he reminded me of the wet
snow that sticks to skis, weighting them down,
stopping all motion.

After a year, he was more like a sailboat
springing leaks as we tried
to navigate the pond.

The hydrangea shoot should never be cut.
It will take years before it blossoms:
those flowers that can be blue or purple,
depending on the soil. He knew I knew that.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7

Sixth Grade Date

maple's lowest limbs just stubs
from girl's daily ascents
dream of sharing a treetop hideout
ended when the red haired boy couldn't climb up
his notes no longer sent across the classroom

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 6

Inspired by an image. A painting by artist Irving Lehman.

Cityscape #573

Each window a checkered frame.
None are dark, but all blaze orange, red, some green.

Life shimmers in every dwelling
but no human or animal forms.

Have the spaces created themselves for their own pleasure?
Empty dance floors tease darkness.

Playfully crooked roofs suggested by black lines.
White lines hint at the moon, above, unseen.

Energy without people.

A brown swath at the bottom of the frame
might be a river, or a street that reflects back distortion.

Perhaps we are privileged to peek into basements,
the foundations of this empty world.

The city space all a facade, concealing another, more colorful
world of vibrant autumn woods.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April 5

Making poetry a person


You were the tattered prospector,
heading out with a sieve and a gun,
into the desert hills, searching for nuggets,

finding instead the fountain
of sewage,
streaming slippery shit down the mountainside.

Still you kept climbing, slipping unstoppable,
scrambling to the top where, steady at last,
you dried to granite

and time passed.
And your name became The Watcher.
And still I wanted to join you,

to become the witness, the one who separates
sensation from stimulus
delight from all its consequent catastrophe.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4

Inside Out

As Groucho Marx noted,
"inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

I have not tried that location, but I have read
under blankets, flashlight spotlighting the page.

Inside the book's covers,
words ferried me out of my suburban bedroom,

ran me through London streets,
shot me up icy Alps, set me gently down

in meadows of dancing reeds.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3

What I fear

My own cells turning rebel army

the fog of war

whites against reds

not wines not Russians

but blood

terrorists in private places

attacking the wrong targets

friendly fire

cells multiplying

Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2

Redhawk Wildlife Preserve

After a life of nighttime dive bombings
by raptors large enough to block the sun,

last night, I was visited by a perfectly normal
red winged hawk. "Look," I said, "it's lovely."

No one noticed. It's prey was merely a small bird.
Hemlock branches shook and feathers shimmied out.

As it fought for its life, the bedraggled bird flew past
my hand, which held it, a moment,

keeping it, at least, from the hawk, who flew off.

April 1

Hey, look around, Candy Man,
are those your peanuts, littering
the streets?

This is City Life, Movement
Three, in a nutshell.

Or else it’s Eastern
Pictures gone to Hell.

Poem based on five song titles created by shuffling Ipod

"Eastern Pictures" Gustav Holst

"City Life, Mvmt 3" Steve Reich

"Peanuts" Chico Marx

"Candy Man' Grateful Dead

"Look Around" Blues Traveler

This blog

I will be posting here the daily poems I write in response to the prompts at