Plain American Language

I cut a sliver/of WC William's finger
and placed it inside/my philosophy...

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Morning, you've woken me
too early! And what is this
pigeon on my balcony,
so inquisitive, abandoning
its flock for better things,
like my acute contempt
an old, rusted wheel barrow
and the coming daylight.

*Aubade: A song or poem greeting the dawn; also, a composition suggestive of morning.
The aubade is usually spoken to a lover at the start of morning.

Untitled Poem

There is a big, black hole in my eye.
It reminds me
Of the spaces between tree branches,

Between the oaks and maples
On Longmeadow Street in fall:

How they dwell in the wind
Cry in the cold
And the trees wait to grow.

Monday, March 19, 2007

In Memoriam Charles Reznikoff

who wrote
in the great world

small for this is a way

to enter
the light on the kitchen

tables wide-

spread as the mountains;
light this is

heroic this is
the poem

to write

in the great
world small

--George Oppen

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Elegy for My Great Aunt Riv

Yesterday, my grandparents and I
went to the Landmark Diner in Buckhead
in Atlanta. I sat, we sat, and ordered;
we talked and ate. It was raining
outside, lightly, though the weather
most of the day was pretty mild.
Well, I guess the point is that
they told me to look at the deserts
out front, and there it was,
lemon merengue pie. And it hit me
that Passover is soon and I'll no longer
taste your rolls, though mom still has the recipe.
And a quick, biting pit stuck in me
as I sat down to finish my ravioli.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Found Poem

Real isn't how you are made, said the Skin Horse.
It's a thing that happens to you.
When a child loves you
for a long, long time, not just to play with,
but really loves you,
then you become Real.

Does it hurt? asked the rabbit.

Sometimes, said the Skin Horse,
for he was always truthful.
When you are Real
you don't mind being hurt.

Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,
he asked, or bit by bit?

It doesn't happen all at once,
said the Skin Horse. You become.
It takes a long time.
That's why it doesn't happen often
to people who break easily,
or have sharp edges,
or who have to be carefully kept.

Generally, by the time you are Real,
most of your hair has been loved off,
and your eyes drop out and you get
loose in your joints and very shabby.
But these things don't matter at all,
because once you are Real
you can't be ugly, except to people
who don't understand.

Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Elegy After the Death of a Cousin

It wasn't the fact that you died that I recognized
after hanging up the phoneit was the way my brother said it.
Nothing registered except quick annoyance and anger.

Then it sank in:
that your father, wife, & fourteen year-old watched you die
at the hospital in Connecticut; that I was away in Chile, miles
from the tired faces of parents, relatives--from any reminder
that you had died at all. And now, back again, I’m furious

at the vague but warm memories I have left:
your large, friendly body; your compass-like smile;
your laugh, like a big brass instrument—

ghosts left behind, and not even a wink of you.

for Steve

Saturday, March 10, 2007

5 AM, Restless Leg Syndrome

It’s been three days now
that I’ve woken up at five AM,
and every day just like that:
awake, unable to grip
the meaning of the dream,
restless & too aware
of the oncoming dawn.

I was in a warehouse—
no light, but I knew where I was.
Drew showed up,
suited in his coat, helmet,
bike. What’re you doing here, I asked.
Not much, he said, and peered
over my shoulder. He looked as if
seeing a Kandinsky for the first time,
boring a hole behind me.
This is not a pipe, he said. I woke up.

I close myself up in my blanket—
the beginning of the day’s starting,
wrapped in a few oranges and blues.
I’ll wait a little while longer,
a last attempt at sleep,
before getting up to shower and shave off
the night and early morning.

A Quote from Stephen Crane

Apart from the pulling and hauling
stands what I am,

Stands amused, complacent,
compassionating, idle, unitary...
Both in and out of the game
and watching and wondering at it.