Plain American Language

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

While Listening to French Music and Reading Daisy Fried (daisy fried's freakin awesome)

Sometimes it's a terrible forcefulness
that takes me and I want to write and
push it out of me
like trying to force out constipation
which obviously gives you hemorrhoids
which is why I might or might not
have an itch that comes and goes.
Then other times it's all rushing out of me
the great idea
but it's crap, we know it's crap,
we've seen it before, I think, but laud it
cause it's the the stuff that helps you loosen up
breathe and sit down on a sunny day
in front of the Potomac or Charles or the Hudson
and set by the trees and smell the balm, all moist and not much else
besides a bit relaxing.
Yes, walking and sitting. More and less motion.
That, they, release/s muscles, even
when it's bitterly cold, and
all you want is a face to leisurely look at
and warm by setting your hands--
your silly, cashmere-lined, leather-impulse-buy gloves you love--
on it, caress it briefly. Love is that
leisurely. At times yes, at times cold, at times.
I find that writing is almost best sudden
but also best when you're so barraged
by aimless particles that you're bound
to say something sickening or meaningful
or both--something that in the movies
only seems to happen after impulsive sex
with an Oh! and Mmm and Huhn
and so many other noises that imply
a desire to break out of that stupid square,
that stupid my life is the doldrums/a conundrum
and where is my latte and personal
soundtrack?;
and then he/she says it
and comes a laugh or the camera
zooms slowly in: Look
I'm changed, I've done something So
this is sex/fucking/love
--and what's
love again, yes or hot mistake?
Ah, yes and hot mistake.

So, in all, I agree with movies.
There you are. There she is.
If only she'd eye your crotch, if only
I could stop eyeing her breasts then mouth.
What's so vulgar? I think meditation is lovely in that
your mouth, in some way, controls it,
just like your arms are the gateway
into someone else's body, which, a case has been made,
is also the mouth's job. Yes, I agree with movies,
meditations on life, and, poetry aside,
a pen and paper are really lovely objects,
or no? So many of them, hand-made and otherwise.
A history of them wouldn't be so unwarranted.
Yes, the world is lovely indeed in spite of it all--
the boots you wear, the shoes I wore even
after the heavy snow warning
and the sweaters we dropped food on and the wine
(so sweet, a dessert wine, though I had more Malbec)
you spilled on the carpet--cream, like paper--
and after wiping it up you tilted your head up
and we looked at each other as if love were spilled
all over our shirts and you said, Yes,
so where the hell's the poem after this, mm?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Eye Like A Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Heaven (revised)

after seeing "The Physical Impossibility of Death In The Mind of Someone Living"

Why even dare touch
your hand, a finger, to it? What huge nostrils,
huge teeth. What a vibrant aqua-marine tint,
what gills what teeth
what blank dead death eyes.

No body
could ever grow redder, shake so violently.
It was just so violent. Derailed.
Like the embarrassment after
too-short sex.

The moment when anger lets out, when eyes flare and the mouth gapes open.
Oh the eyes:
they fold over on themselves,
double over in hurt, sometimes, and sometimes
clap over the body, somewhere in between self-control and total abandonment.

It's the red! The red
of embarrassed, too-short sex!
That's what it is.
The color.
Deep and felt

and the eye
like a strange balloon slowly mounts
toward heaven.
If only that really happened.
Those eyes must widen: flesh, desire.

Hunger. Those teeth could rip anything.
Blackness worse than a dead, open mouth,
wanting you there. Ravenous,
gnashing like angry eyes. They stared at you.
They opened and closed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lebkuchen

That's the good thing about bakeries:
They remind you of good times.

Each and every kuchen I ate:
Jumbo, a pasty crust.
Glazed, jellied fruits--not in the good way,
with granules of sugar that displease dentists, rather
the jell-o jellied: a rubbery top.

Frutillar, nueces. It must have been
caramelized, the store itself must
have been caramelized: trinkets,
wool, hand-knit sweaters and scarves,
the crust deep so that your teeth sink,
and that rich thickness: sugared walnuts.

Punacapa: we entered a church
(working backwards)
and admired the hundred-or-so year-old
cedar twisted and wrapped many times
by summer weather and bloom.
Kuchen, fruit, tart, maybe.
I don't remember much, except
drinking the sidra that got stolen
by accident on New Year's and how
it rained in Valdivia, down the river,
many weeks after, and I took pictures
of Claudia's grill and potted plants
and each drop was contentment.

Fragment 88 by Sappho (what a lovely poem)

Raise high the roof-beam!
Sing the Hymeneal!
Raise it high, carpenter men!
Sing the Hymeneal!
The bridegroom enters, like to Ares,
by far bigger than a big man.


...i think there are different, slightly better translations. i'm working on it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Eye Like A Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Heaven (there's lots i'd want to change about this)

Derailed. That's the feeling.
Why even dare touch
your hand, a finger to it?
What an off-feeling, like the embarrassment
after too-short sex. No, that's not it...

A hum and a slight wheeze out
the left nostril. What huge nostrils,
huge teeth, what a vibrant aqua-marine tint,
what gills what teeth
what blank dead death eyes.

No body
can ever grow redder, shake so violently.
It was just so violent. Derailed.
What do we do at the moment
when anger lets out,

when eyes flare and the mouth opens.
Oh the eyes.
They fold over on themselves,
double over in hurt sometimes and sometimes
clap over the body.

There is a moment before
they grow wider--
in between self control and total abandonment.
That gap. Choice.
Derailed.

It's the red! The red
of embarrassed, too-short sex.
That's what it is.
The color.
Deep and felt

and the eye
like a strange balloon slowly mounts
toward heaven.
If only that really happened.
They must have widened: flesh, desire.

Hunger. Those teeth could rip anything.
Blackness worse than a dead, open mouth,
wanting you there. Ravenous,
gnashing. They stared at you.
They opened and closed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to invite you in

Look.

Read.

How to invite you in.

Do you ever journey.

Do you mean what you say.

Say it. This is graphite;

These are your thoughts.

Do not stand.

You swivel in place; you scratch your belly--

Do you ever journey.

Whisper like a long dash your subject

Onto the blank surface in front of you.

Swivel your pen. Do you ever journey.

Look. Outside

The world is cold. Sit. Open.

Do you mean what you say.

We prepare by organizing thoughts

Like acorns and berries before winter.

Scream, viciously, inside your head one, solitary, thought.

Do you mean what you say.

This is how you prepare.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Harbingers and Resistance to Signs

A hum-mm after a cough.
Maybe trying to soothe myself
into a healthier state.
Dry, irritated cough. Seasonal.

The one true reason (out of several)
(an excuse to wear a scarf and
warm hats, for example) why
I look forward to winter

is the shape of bear trees
from a distance. Between branches
is light. And the oblongs
and semi-spheres of oaks, maples,

birches, willows slowly cross
the air with beauty between spaces.
I stood at the toilet overwhelmed
by the blood rushing my head

not two minutes ago. Like a twig
betraying itself and snapping
in the wind. This isn't a matter
of being suddenly cold; more so adrenaline and residual fears

of the dark.
This is the ritual:
turn one light on, turn the next on.
Turn the previous off. Run from room to room

in that same manner until safe.
Health doesn't ensure safety--
if that were true, I'd only be slightly
safe from outside this door.

Now we're in the bathroom,
every light is on. But the blood rush,
a louder hum-mm. Now we're in bed.
Now we're opening & closing our jaw

hoping our ears will pop. Hoping
our ears will hear more than they're supposed to.
Hoping the cough eases as eyes close.
Now we're in the dark.

As Usual (revised previous poem)

As usual, I stand up from the toilet
closing my book of poetry (lately
I've been vacillating between
William Matthews and Mary Jo Bang).
I wash my hands. My back cracks;
my wrists crack. Scratch. Sniff.
Who says we aren't creatures of habit?
Perhaps in a more unrefined manner,
but I mimic the weather as much
as possible: my routines change.

Not as erratically as New England weather,
I suppose, and that is the only
difference and what I sometimes wish
I could change: how our winters
are sometimes warmer than they should be,
and my scarves and hats lay folded
and hung. What I ask for is consistency.
What we get is rain while the sun's out.
Those days are always the warmest and most curious to watch:
walking through moist August
then showered on, interrupted.

Do we expect these things to happen
always umbrella-ing our heads?
Or do we walk out into it, uncovered, nervous
about the inevitability that the outside--
like our insides--will change?
Bathrooms, on the other hand, were meant to sit in
and reach inner peace. On that cold seat,
whatever else drops out of you
rolls down your forehead
onto your lips like a sudden, relieved "Oh!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Untitled as of yet...graffic scenes, just a heads up

As usual, I stand up from the toilet,
closing my book of poetry (lately
I've been vacillating between William Matthews
and Mary Jo Bang). Today, nothin' doin'.
I wash my hands anyway.
Scratch. Sniff.
My back cracks; my wrist cracks.
Who says we aren't creatures of habit?
Perhaps habit in a more unrefined manner,
but I mimic the weather as much
as possible. My routines change, but
not as erraticly as New England
weather, I suppose, and that is the only
difference and what I sometimes wish
I could change: how our winters
are sometimes warmer than they should be,
and my scarves and hats lay folded
and hung. What I ask for is consistency.
What we get is rain while the sun's out.
Those days are always the warmest
and most curious to watch.
Do we expect these things to happen
and always umbrella our heads,
or walk out into it, more nervous
than excited about mixed signals?
Bathrooms were meant to sit in
and reach inner peace. Sitting
down on that cold seat,
whatever else drops out of you
rolls down your forehead
onto your lips like a sudden, relieved "Oh!"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Living Among the Dead, after William Matthews (this may or may not be a direct copy, or just a good imitation)

Living among the dead,
like opening a chest of moth-ridden clothes,
is harder each day: trees,
like us, sway outside the windows of the dead.


For the past few months I've lived in
my car, driving to and from
almost anywhere. Lots can be said
about driving, being encased,
becoming an almost-passive insider but
a keen observer of the wonderful.

There is a tree I once passed on the way to Hadley--
gnarled like an old war story.
It's the dead that place these
along the roads---
they still hold hands with you, tell you,
We placed Pepsi-Cola checker boards in your bathroom
to put your poetry magazines on and drift back
to our tables, our chocolate milks and glasses.

Even the ones I don't remember
track thumb prints in the night.
They lay them on your head
and the next morning
your hair is matted to the left.

There is no way to avoid the dead:
there they are, setting themselves inside
their own footprints,
putting your feet inside new shoes.
Curling their eyes upward
then downward, watching their progress grow.



to great grandparents, and great uncle and aunt

Monday, October 13, 2008

Poem With a Line by Elvis Perkins

It worries me that there's someone on my mind who I don't see.
The kind of nervousness you feel when
meeting someone new
who you don't quite trust enough to say,

My heart bursts like autumn while you licked your lip to get a small
drop of iced coffee from running down your chin.

The kind that sickens your leg a bit,
makes it thrust forward--
a crunch and pain in your ankle.

Is this what love is, or just a fog soup
that's stepped off a pier in San Francisco
and turned to New England
to learn more about how weather will begin
to be erratic while internally
what is constant is turning and molten
and that's what you should most likely always
rely on: earth.

Poem Beginning With Two Words by Iron & Wine

Love was a coke bottle lens
balanced on your head; a joke that your
brother laughed at instead.
Instead of lighting up the dark
we let the match flicker out;
instead of laying by your side
I propped up a knee and smiled.
Our thumbs will eventually crack when
we lift them up, wrestling like time
with shirts and coffee mugs.
We flooded the basement carpet
refused to collect the rain
that swelled up all of the beams;
but, then, isn't that the point--
to float your arms down rivers
that motion toward the body?
We travel a great many distances.
We, the Mississippi, the mighty.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Soledad (needs a lot of work) (taken after a song by jorge drexler, called Soledad) (i actually see this as a song, and not a poem)

Soledad, aqui estan mis credenciales.
That's what I said when I left,
not knowing what you'll be doing
next. The guagua in Santiago
is crying, our parents are sick
and fighting. Things changed
ever since their divorces. Of course,
me, too, que nunca supe bien
como estar solo--there are
guaguas crying in Springfield
la micro by you is too.
How strange to see your hands
combing the hair of my sister,
every woman who brushes by.
Soledad, ahi quedaron mis cicatrices,
the pieces of glass that broke
the spokes gutted off your mother's car.

How we rolled when we reached the hill
in Olmhue. That's all I remember of that day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Here're the Lions

Here're the two stone lions. Paws up
balancing invisible candles,
and here are the chandeliers.
Here is the city skyline, glimpsed
on the southbound bridge home.
Trust bridges, they can be fixed.
They're steel; green and black.

They cradle other metal carriages.
Here are the oaks, some in early autumn
despite this 80 degree September 3rd.
The
Hadley weeping willow hangs like a birdsong,
an upside-down chandelier. It sparkles
like the Connecticut River, like
an indefatigable kettle, like steam,

the skyline we put faith in not
to disappear, like early autumn
or the maples that light the parkway in October.

The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Heaven (a title in Mary Jo Bang's "The Eye Like a Strange Balloon")

She has a plan.
Late, while he's asleep,
while roommate two is
watching movies,
she'll walk off Manhattan
and step into the space
between her wrist
and the nine tendons
that flow through it.
There is a cradle,
a candle, scented,
it smells like hyacinth
and mint. Love
can learn so much
from anatomy. We
find him studying
while she cradles him
in her arms like a wick.
From a median nerve,
from inherent, electrical impulse.
Each revolving star
we have mapped just
like our own bodies.
It's loving you that makes
this work.

Palm Springs (after reading a lot of Mary Jo Bang)

Palm Springs is a mecca of
mid-century Modernism.
Mid-century Modernism
is heavily influenced by
the space age and nuclear age.
We will find the God particle.
We will split the atom,
smash the atom, create holes,
tiny holes and vortexes
that no art can see through,
martial nor plastic, music or partial.
A blank, sucking hole;
not even Blinky Palermo
or Stella or Rothko or Auden
or Fitzgerald or Palm Springs
with their sand traps
and 100 greens like little hilly
helipads. Finally, we assemble
the machine that will ultimately decide
what beds down with our hearts,
while inside the planes we ride
to relax in spaces wide enough
to open our eyes
and have a drink, a smile
spreads like wingspan, as if
we were comfortable with forgotten coasts
and never needed
our feet to touch ground.

Monday, September 1, 2008

25 Different Kinds of Oysters

Lunch is always simple. It's choosing
that makes it difficult.
Number 25 is called, and the menu's got
three rice dishes, everything vegan,
free wi-fi for customers
to dawdle and idle around in,
and a bit of old art on the walls.
Tacky, but hip. Like lunch.
Rice & fried egg with black beans, a rice/soup,
and sandwiches, oh sandwiches.
The candles are decidedly no help.
Neither are the mirrors
expanding along the wall.
Now 31. Hummus. Why not chili.
Why not rice. Now 32. Now 33.
The Goya print is no help.
Now 34. Ok. So rice. Rice.

I Do This, I Do That Poem

Oh when the shower runs and you're
awake it's morning in New York
you're visiting and wanting to chat
slouching and correcting your slouch,
yes it's morning, in this unknown Brooklyn
a Saturday with few clouds out
the window, mostly apartment buildings
while the scarves inside are wrapping
everything, even the walls,
draping paisleys and gilded colors
promoting brick or mauve-ish reds
and creams that make you think
of breakfast while returning
home is more than a day away --
that revolving door called home --
and again no clouds
it is fresh and a toddler cries
his dailiness like this morning table:
an eye patch, a bracelet, cuff links
a pen and a few pennies.

I Put My Books In The Bag (this has a weak ending, i think)

We drive so quickly. The bends
on the highway bend
for us. This love, forced
like a pillow into a pillow-
case. We eat green beans,
it is summer, we have sweet corn
sitting in the bed of the truck.
There are times when
your hands go slowly.
Like a train sometimes will.
Time won't pass. It's not
so leisurely in its movement
but plucks along like
a nylon strung guitar.
Pass by the many houses
on the way to you.
The brown one and the pond
beside it.

"Don't forget that you must leave and return" -- George Seferis, A Poet's Journal

The room is more of a mess
than ever. 'Back' means
behind, flat or curved;
returned. In any case

it's what you left,
haven't looked at for some time.
Place things into 'keep' and 'not'.
We have to clean.

How else can we fit the books,
our shoes & livelihood?
The piles of clothing and bits

of the future finally cleared.
That space, over there:
enough room for a computer desk.

The old wooden one filled
with my grandfather's papers.
I asked him. He said
it'll be fine if I take it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Greater Turtle

So many people so well dressed
here in Chinatown. Ten years
the Verizon Center has been here,
in all of its many shapes
transforming visions, tatooing
its mark on the community.
The greatest turtle is the police
paddy-wagon, the van and
what looks like a trailer for a horse.
Inside, what, guns? People
waiting to be dispatched? Candy
for our do-gooders, swiftness
for our do-badders? Three signs
point the on-going sidewalkers
to public transportation.
The greatest turle is public:
grows grass on its back, says hello.
Shaven and sneakered. Sandaled.
A horse peeks out of the trailer!
So it's a horse!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

America (gutsy title...)


"The Bridges of America"
I feel like I've heard this before.
Or else have thought of it on this train
to New Haven.
The Great Bridge of America
is Mexico and the following countires:
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras,
Guatemala, El Salvador
Belize, Panama. Like a strangely-
shaped banana bridge.
Everyone seems to be saying America:
at the museums or the streets
of New York, in the privacy
of the houses in the Pioneer Valley.
We passed Yonkers, now the Bronx.
My grandmother came into
the Bronx. Learned English from
the radio & night classes.
I am budgeting for my next visit
to Washington, DC.
On the train, we pass
bridges
only from the side, never go on one.
We pass lakes and ponds
with cranes, tall and fishing.
Unless we did cross one, and
I never paid attention.

Untitled (a stylistic copy of an earlier poem called Finis Terrae...but we'll do it anyway)

An alerce will go on upward
until you run out of spine
to lean back on.

I don't know oaks
too well
but at the Smith campus
there was one
and what was more
impressive, the leaf
skinny and thriving
or leaning backward
to see, rounded
and wavering and breezy,
more?

In Memory of a Beautiful Life

Open up, highway. Let me
bloom, the night blooming cyrus;
let up on this traffic
weaving in and out of lanes
hating the breaks and the
no-pass-on-right rule

my left front blinker on the fritz
a pool of water collected
inside the head lamp
just below the bulb itself
(How does a flower live
with so much water?).
Oh, day
don't begin yet. I will reach
the suburbs like an ink stain
a perfectly good button down shirt
in about fifteen minutes,
before the storm reaches the car.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Untitled for now, and quite long

I am so secure in my Judaism
that it's easy enough
to see an episode of House
where he criticizes Christian belief
but when an orthodox woman
comes in and House knows
and punches in the face
the Aishet Chayil, I squirm.
He knows it, the beginning, at least,
in English, translates it,
calls her an idiot. I suddenly
lose a toenail. My eye twitches.

Ba'al Tshuvah is change.
That's what he struggles with,
and faith is mixed in, of course--
when moral dilemmas peep through the window
he unwillingly learns a lesson.
That's him: smug, numb, unflinching
yet movable on his own terms.
He must always learn, but
he can't just be right,
it's got to be wrong-right.
Extreme change makes him

uneasy like how unsettling my earth
makes me shake. I suppose
you can knock down your own trees
but when someone actually does
make fun of your momma,
you pull the ax on him.
There are probably many Jewish stories,

Midrashim, old Yiddishisms or
Sefardicisms about this kind of rattle
but not knowing much or only
some of the much is the challenge.
How can House be so unnerved
and hold his arm still, and
blue or green or large eyes steady.
He's fictional. As real as the blue
of our sky and the miracles
of eating cereal four meals a day.

The irony is that fictional doubt
can stir a thick pea soup
and click pens & ruffle pages.
Wonderful as that irony is, though,
there's the blackness of the pen again:
not getting any bluer
and not wanting to, like a

gigantic oil spill. How do we clean
those up, anyway?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Roads

Why must other drivers insist
on being on these roads?
They blind you with headlights.
Halogen, I think. Blue orbs
suffocating your eyes.
Unwanted guests. On night roads
it's preferred to indulge
in thoughts that you are alone
between the two sides of forest.
A blackness in front --
or rather, just beyond--
your own normal headlights.
A solitude never felt
because of the swelling of the CD player;
but seen, since night gallops ahead
of light and the only road
is what the lamps will give.
You might hit a deer or moose.
Wouldn't know it was coming.
That's why the moose is always black
on a yellow sign:
a dark object hit by sudden light.
It's them and the blue neon spout
of the fountain factory
that keeps this stretch lit.

Walking in My Old Country

I suppose the reason the snout
and upper jaw is missing
from my old plastic Tyrannosaur
is time. It's an old device
to evoke the clock,
my own wall a quick museum
of successes (a punk show flyer)
and failure (the dent
in the wall covered minimally
by a paper with a drawn-on flower).
I got rid of so many books.
A favorite, still here, dog-eared
and coffee stained. No, it
must've been torn off by me
or chewed by one of my dogs.
There's another dinosaur
with its horn filed down halfway.
It is too late to complain.
What do you begin to say
while facing morning?
As if the pillow were yanked from you
and shoes & socks suddenly
put on your feet.

Tea, needs LOTS of work

I should turn the light off.
Take two tea bags

to the heated water
by the electric water heater

(there is no kettle
in this house).

Orange tea. Toast
wouldn't be so good with this.

Maybe dessert or fruit.
Put it on the dresser, careful

with the wood. It burns
like feathers down the throat,

like a bad cough. Nervous again.
Close the open tea box

the tin clatters
against the frame.

It's past midnight anyway.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

and this is the last of my Chilean poems, it seems...

Untitled

Afternoon, it's raining in Valdivia:
crooked lampshade; small bottles & vases;
a cold, humid, fresh air; gusts
dusting more rain on the roof
like loose tin pellets; a field;
messy, scattered backyard:
wet coal, droplets rippling the tidepool
inside the grill; a laundry basket
with three bowls: soil, plants (herbs?)
taking in a fair share of drink
(later, when spring comes, a lunch
of sun); chattering birds. Two guitars;
silent wooden seagulls; stained glass
and more wind; the open door
trying like rain to close itself
and making the house shudder;
stone leaf pedestal; dozens
of paintings; cabinet with sun and moon.

this was written inside Claudia Retamal's house..

Fire

Fire has a certain lull
when stared at---
the wooden stove with bronze pipe
that heats this house.
By this time in Coyhaique
wood smoke fills the valley
as if it were fog (rolling,
immense thicknesses
that surround a mountain's
side like glacial ice).
but there's a smell
of barbecue, or
Spartan funeral pyre
all around the valley.
But we aren't outside.
We're inside
avoiding winter
like small critters human presence.
To spite the outside,
we clench together & enjoy
the soft stories the stove tells us:
of the fire that forged it
fires it's known and the lives
of trees. We finish
in bed, faces flushed
a burnt thumb
from when we fed the night
a little more wood.

the last travel poems of chile, from valdivia, june 2008, this one's a little journal-y

On a Plane from Santiago to Valdivia

Past Rancagua, Chillan, Pucon
a stop-over in Osorno,
where are you Carl?
I'm thinking again of where
I was born but never lived.
Where is your eye
your steel man your encouragement
for the vitality of a stinking city?

I grew up in suburban green,
wore it, wear it like a college graduate's robe,
and dream of it, too
as a divorcee might of marriage:
afraid of its slow pains yet clinging to its blankets.

There is this city
next to my dream
so where are you to tell me
what to look for in the people
in the eyes of my neighbor
who I don't yet know.
When we land,
what will be the first thing I touch
besides ground?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Seasonal Ghazal (will this be the final cut?)

What defines a ghazal is a constant longing.
Summer soon becomes quiet, slow, like longing.

In autumn the pine needles fall in droves.
Mid-fall is a fire; it consumes like longing.

The crunch of winter, the acid smell of February.
Early March. Leaves freeze, trees know longing.

What’s the usual sound a leaf makes when
It hits the ground: a quick spring of longing.

Wind twines leaves and twirls them
Like an arabesque. Then rain. Growth is our new longing.

Dogwood flowers drop pieces
Unintentionally. Wanting them back is longing.

We wrap scarves around us to keep out the cold;
Shorts to keep away heat. We enjoy our opposites, revel in longing,

Like a chipmunk dreaming in hibernation.
This is the year, crisp like autumn or longing.

If what defines a ghazal is a constant,
Then seasons shape our wavering wants and longing.

Winter grabs us like an entire year. May lets us forget.
Our constants, our longing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Etude, Metro (an etude is an exercise...)

To read a book forever would be ideal;
to sleep, more so.
We, like sadness, sit still
and mind our own business;
we just look. Like now:
a coughing child,
reaching like sadness for more popcorn,
hugging his dad, squiggling,
squirming, balancing his arm on my shoe
like sadness, looking at me
smiling as I glance his way pausedly.
The air through the windows,
pushing
as one pushes a piano,
as sadness; plastic seats
with felt covers; trains always
opening, closing, moving forward like sadness:
the beards we grow and wear
like sadness.

Moving Again by William Matthews

everyone can learn something from this dude, be it his absolutely ridiculous mastery of the simile, or the ease of his language or those perfect beginnings and endings...


Moving Again

At night the mountains look like huge
dim hens. In a few geological eras
new mountains may
shatter the earth's shell
and poke up like stone wings.
Each part must serve for a whole.
I bring my sons to the base
of the foothills and we go up.
From a scruff of ponderosa
pines we startle gaudy swerves
of magpies that settle in our rising
wake. Then there's a blooming
prickly pear. "Jesus, Dad, what's that?"
Willy asks. It's like a yellow tulip
grafted to a cactus: it's a beautiful
wound the cactus puts out
to bear fruit and be healed.
If I lived with my sons
all year I'd be less sentimental
about them. We go up
to the mesa top and look down
at our new hometown. The thin air
warps in the melting light
like the aura before a migraine.
The boys are tired. A tiny magpie
fluffs into a pine far below
and farther down in the valley
of child support and lights
people are opening drawers.
One of them finds a yellowing
patch of newsprint with a phone
number penciled on it
from Illinois, from before they moved, before
Nicky was born. Memory
is our root system.
"Verna," he says to himself
because his wife's in another room,
"whose number do you suppose this is?"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Slow Poetry

I just read a blog post (thanks to Silliman's blog) about Slow Poetry. It's this person's (Possum Ego, apparently) little call for a new sort of poetry, one that:
The slow food and slow biking movements offer possible models. By turning away from innovations that increase the speed of production, poets could rediscover valuable skills from older methods.
That sounds fun. Unfortunately, it's a sort of ambiguous (it seems to me) kind of "manifesto" or at least a "call" to me. I see it saying that rediscovering older methods can be useful, but to what extent? Are we talking about formal poetry? Isn't that the New Formalist movement of the 80s, 90s and today (thanks 96.5, you have ingrained your slogan into my mind...)? Well, according to them, it's pace:
Pace in this slow poetry sense becomes a greater concern. Value could be placed on the withholding of vital details and the slow release of vivid particulars within rhetorical situations driven by a desire to disclose new knowledge.
But I find that strange, ya know? Is pace an older method? Here, I thought pace was something already done, something ingrained (to use the word again) in our own choice of editing as well as writing poetry: one places pace within the line and outside of the line as well (the amount of white space wanted, spaces in between words, and even the line breaks themselves -- whether they call for an end-stop or to continue on into the next line, plowing through it with only that slight breath that the eye takes and not even the heart). What I do like about this is how it proposes treating the poem: as something that does not develop immediately, and has a bit of a prosey, discursive kind of feel.

When I think about it, it's trying to make a poem a Hemingway short story. It's those vivid particulars that make you figure out the driving force behind the poem.
SP contributes to systems disruptions by generating an open source platform for self-reflection in contexts where such meditations are more frequently discouraged.
Here, its political edge is shining through. The impetus here was something going on in Nigeria. I'm not in on the news since I've been out of it for a while (both literally and figuratively), so I don't know what happened in Nigeria. Basically, there's a globalization process that he's trying to include within this poetic appeal; it's where we can reflect personally on political objects, or situations like "living locally," as the blogger puts it.

I suspect we've already done a lot of these things. But I like where it's going, a lot. I might think about it for a little while, I wonder what you can do with poetry as a slow-cooker. Or developing a poem like a slow cooker. Makes me think of tsimmes and chullent, both slow cookin' Eastern European Jewish delights. Yum.


andrew

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Selk'nam (revised)

In the museum of natural history
there are two giant turtles:
the sea turtle
and the giant
Galapagos tortoise--
its shell
larger than I've ever seen,


large enough that
we could walk on it
if we were little --
each plate a Pangaea
a Tierra del Fuego.
We'd suffer, though.
Intense winds, winters.

Oh, the protection
we'd have to hunt for,
torpidly, spears in hand
throwing long dashes
towards a destination, hoping
to reach a target.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Moving Back

Up and up Cerro Carcel
the wind delicious but forceful:
just enough to make the nap that was promised
all the more worthwhile.
We got sand in our eyes
bits of whatever off the road
and later stopped to appreciate the view.
Earlier I said I'd miss the beer,
especially Kunstmann.
We laughed at the prospect
of an earthquake that would destroy
every single house on these hills
and yet they pop up on stilts
sideswipe the streets and say,
"I'm a house!" and exist to spite nature,

painted a pink, an orange,
anything bright that will off-set the rusted tin roofs,
one of them so brightly blue, we
couldn't notice, at first, the wood
that was missing. We were
always
conscious of those impending tremors,
but we laughed. Then a car backfired.
"They got me!!!" screamed Leora.

a while back i was feeling rather angry and political...so i dedicated something to my governor

For Mitt Romney, Who I Never Knew and Wasn't Old to Vote For


To its credit, Massachusetts has a lovely
drainage system, (it is the beginnings
of winter; raining hard in Puente Alto)
and plenty of storm drains placed
where flooding occurs.
Apparently Santiago never adapted.
It had always been a dry city,
raining once or twice a year.
Now, after five soaked days
and an overflowing river,
they cut the water supply in every comuna,
leaving us thirsty and obligated
to buy clean, expensive water
to last the next few days.
The smell of mold and mud
must be filling the homes of
so many inundated floors,
while the mountains and saturated hills
glow in earthly gladness
like a school budget after its first set of unnecessary cuts.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An untitled poem revised

A love poem is a poem of pursuit.
Each word catches your
earlobe, tries to pull
you down
into a body
a biology to pick apart.

A mouse roams your eyes in pursuit
of the cream of your
pupils. What pull
the morning has on the down
of your body…
I’m falling apart.

All this searching, this pursuit
of your hair, your
eyes, gravity’s pull.
Look down:
the creases of your body
follow each other, as if playing each a part

in their own pursuit.
What I'm trying to say is your
hands are suns. They pull
space together, up, down:
Out there appears the body,
a universe apart.

What nibbles at the corners, travels the maze in pursuit
of things larger than your-
self: fingers, touching your eyes? Tug, pull
and scratch the body:
there is more to do, more than one part.

I suppose I can’t know the science of your movements, yet my pursuit
is wholly good. What counts is balance. Your
own lies in the pull
this spectrum of light trickles down
into the nooks of your body.
There are days I’d like to spend inside one, if only for a small part.

Orpheus -- this is also a little old, from senior year, it's based off the orpheus myth

When the Maenads came,
he dropped his lyre slightly and remembered
how each string was silk
like she was silk, a tunic he wore like skin.

The flash of love she heaved out of her eyes:
the disappearing autumn
spent lingering in empty trees,
stirring like imitation leaves.

He did not stop singing when they ripped
his head off—he sang to Lesbos
like old olive branches to the Aegean Sea.

i found all these OLD poems i sorta wrote and never finished...this one's from Israel sophomore year..

Inside the Praying Area of the Grave Site of Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai

Some men were inside, wrapped seriously
in their text, praying
to God, source of light.
Only few were shuckling.
One moved about, pacing
as if he worried
God might not hear.

I peeked into the women’s side:
it looked like hundreds of them –
bobbing, mouthing words,
caressing them as a baby.
Some wailed as if they were original sin.
Redeem me Lord, I
am the downfall of man.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Seasonal Ghazal (revised)

A Seasonal Ghazal

What defines a ghazal is a constant longing.
Summer begins to cling, becomes quiet, slow, like longing:

In autumn the pine needles fall in droves.
Mid-fall is a fire; consumes like longing.

The crunch of winter, the acid smell of February.
Early March. Leaves freeze, trees know longing.

What’s the usual sound a leaf makes when
It hits the ground: a quick spring of longing:

Flowers and flowers drop pieces
Unintentionally. Wanting them back is longing.

What defines a ghazal is a constant, while
Seasons shape our wavering wants & longing.

A year’s length is a constant. It’s within it that we question:
“What does love look/like?” Probably like longing,

Whereas death, the other, stays obtuse,
Always pointing. This is a year’s length: love and longing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quote from Roethke

"It's the shifting of the thought that's important, often - the rightness (or wrongness!) of the imaginative jump. Many modern poets still are content only with the logical progression, or with metaphors - often beautiful, elaborate, fresh - but these consisting of little more than a listing of appositives. In the richest poetry even the juxtaposition of objects should be pleasurable..."


Something maybe I should start thinking about more often in my own poetry...I worry about it sometimes...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sculptures

On M St., on the way to Georgetown,
before the main strip,

under a hotel's great brick cuppula,
appears a sculpture:

people crammed into one another,
crowding, hurrying, large-eyed
and looking at something
(we never know what)
with such intent, almost religious wonderment.
They forget

that in the back, they're pushing too.
A cigar smolders
exhaling ghosts into the air
and skeletal men laboring and laboring
as they slowly sink into the metal
that forged them.

I look at the faces of this fountain
sculpture in the entryway of Republica,
off the Alameda, in which
men and women alike
(the only difference are lumps on their chests)
stare into that bubbling spigot--
water over-flowing into the drain
at the base of the lifted bowl
(I don't know if this is bronze
or stone) and every one of them blank---
not even etched out,
just smoothed away, born without time
to mark the progression of their eyes,
how tired they must become
as night pushes itself into day---
just looking; always looking.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A quote torn from the headlines of Charles Olson's "Projective Verse" essay...

“Is” comes from the Aryan root, as, to breathe. The English “not” equals the Sanskrit na, which may come from the root na, to be lost, to perish. “Be” is from bhu, to grow.


interesting, eh?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

After School Ends (pending title...this is almost all in syllabics...how did that happen??)

Comes the time again when we start to write.
It's summer and homework isn't hanging
over us like a mobile of little knives ---
no threat, we breathe, set a pen
in our hands and draw open the letters
of the year: how fall was tough
when we ended our relationship, and
especially March when our cousin died.
And then there was May, full
of hope for endings, since nothing begins
in summer: nature stagnates in heat
and humidity. Comes the pool,
comes the ice cream that fuels
the mind again, since we're out
of worries, besides August,
which levels the grass in rust,
a small signal of the September red
that we embrace like scholastic sex:
all classroom stuff & no exploration.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Request for Good Old Age

That's not what old age is.
Hearing from my Bobi and Zaidi*
it's more like you slowing down
and trying not to let it
slow you all at once.
It always seemed a habit that
Zaidi shaved every day--
since his face looks hairless
like there never was anything to shave,

but this old man here has cuts all over
his chin, and a few on his neck;
blinks like he's confused
but I know (or guess, really;
one is only ever an observer)
he's got his faculties together.
His gaze shifts so much.
That's not old age. Younger,
I always thought it was when
veins pop out just a bit more.

When my hands shake
and I cover my face
and it ends up shaking
like a bebop tilt-a-whirl
set me straight, will you.
Keep my eyes from staring
in one place.
Why should the mind slow
just because the body dances
at tempo lento?
Mouth set, eyes sweeping.
I would do nothing else.



*pronounced Bu-bee and Zey-dee (grandma and grandpa in Yiddish)

A Seasonal Ghazal (a ghazal is a persian form, i believe, that has a pattern that you'll see that repeats)

this is from Jane Shore's poetry workshop back from last year -- took a long time to look at it again, I thought it was done for, but recently I looked at it, and revamped it. I think it's better looking, with a few kinks in the second line and fourth line...


A Seasonal Ghazal

What defines a ghazal is a constant longing.
Summer begins to cling, becomes quiet, slow, like longing:

In fall the pine needles fall in droves.
Mid-fall is a fire; consumes like longing.

The crunch of winter, the acid smell of February.
Early March. Leaves freeze, trees know longing.

What’s the usual sound a leaf makes when
It hits the ground: a quick scream of longing.

Flower and flower drop pieces
Unintentionally. Wanting them back is a longing.

What defines a ghazal is a constant, while
Seasons shape our wavering wants & longing.

A year’s length is a constant, it’s within it that we question:
“What does love look/like?” Probably like longing,

Whereas death, the other, stays obtuse,
Always pointing. This is a year’s length: love and longing.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Complete Caesura of the Jewish Heart (working title...a pretty controlled piece if i say so myself...trying not to be so formulaic)

Half circle, two levels. Wooden benches
kids had struggled to sit still in.
Wooden benches that probably squeak;
sixty year old grooves in the wood; at one time,
maybe, the usual seat. Vespers of the last
wedding. An elaborate stained glass menorah,
white, set under a deeper blue. Stone
windows, carvings.
Illuminated by street lamps.
The bronze's taken out, put into the hall.

A leak in the roof. Five, maybe six days of rain
dripping, distracting away bits
of the dark (it's night). But not adding
any light. Just a neglected bucket.
In three months, razed. Later
some edificio, they said. A ladder.
Bits of the window also taken down.
Shadows and lights.
Downstairs the rest of us grab more challah,
a few more chips, and leave.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Made Death Into a Symbol (amatuerish, a little juvenile, but brought on by something that's explicitly talked bout in the poem)

I made death a symbol
and can't help but be a little pissed
at myself for doing so:
this pull to describe, to transform,
it is intense and the fact
that the letters still go holds my anger still

...Mark Doty, in a talk about James Wright's
"On a Hound's Skeleton"
praised the fact that death doesn't fall into
abstraction, that we're pushed back
into the dog, as it were,
the reality of things, where
a living thing mussed up a clover field
as it ran through it,
and the symbol of death, our speculations
and attempts to conjure it into
a specter of
understanding and opinion fails.

Therefore
we stay grounded like grass
in our own wavering thoughts
and are better for it in the end,
we checker pieces who doubt
as much as we move diagonally,
or just a bit better
we who sit at home
after the funeral,
forbidden by law and custom
to look into the mirror
eating lox and cream-cheese bagels
and talking about the past.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On Looking for Models by Alan Dugan

It's been a long time since I've posted something from Dugan, one of my favorite American poets. He's always served me well. Here's a bit of an "inspiration" poem that I particularly like of his.


The trees in time
have something else to do
besides their treeing. What is it.
I'm a starving to death
man myself, and thirsty, thirsty
by their fountains but I cannot drink
their mud and sunlight to be whole.
I do not understand these presences
that drink for months
in the dirt, eat light,
and then fast dry in the cold.
They stand it out somehow,
and how, the Botanists will tell me.
It is the "something else" that bothers
me, so I often go back to the forests.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I'm gonna be published again!!! WOO!

This might be a little preemptive, cause there's no set date of publication yet, but I'll say it anyway: I'm gonn' be published! The magazine's called "Thieves Jargon" and it's online (www.thievesjargon.com). Check it out, and check out the archives, most of the stuff is really well chosen, sometimes a little not fantastic, but for the most part it's really great poetry and prose ---

yay!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

No Water (another gross poem about my body, don't get too grossed out...should i stop putting these up, anyway? too many people know me here...)

There's no water, and I have to shit like mad
(it's amazing and terrible
how we take advantage of what we know
to be of importance---
water, being the essence of life;
our own bodies, 80% of which
is of this needed substance;
our rivers, oceans, creeks,
icebergs) with nothing
to flush except the little the porcelain contains.

Not to be let down, and with promises
of water ringing in my ears
and the idea of quick, panicked relief,
I go to do my duties
stand up and there it is again,
dripping a bit like a horse
after drink, and leaning left-ways like
when we drink Passover wine---
why should it escape when I need it
why is water leaking out of me
why do we expunge what we should save?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ideas, Thoughts & Sightings

The mug on the third shelf of my closet
filled with hot pear juice—
now colder, still just as sweet

*

In the dark on the way home
an orange and white cat
glowed, paused, looked at something
then slipped between the bars
of a gate—its home?

*

After three straight days of rain
it’s still raining but now the walk
to the supermarket’s changed—
two branches
make a low-bridge of green,
green leaves and bright purple flowers

*

I’m wishing for a cold day
only to put on my old, gigantic scarf

*

The windowed door, unclothed by the shades
and curtains
makes a box of light on the wall—
shaving off bits of my hanging hats,
as if it wanted to highlight
the brims

*

It’s curious how I forget
that after the rain
the Andes glow from the ice caps
and snowy tips
but only because the smog falls
onto us as acid rain

*

Do we all look at each other on public transportation
as much as I look at everyone else?

*

The volcano Chaiten’s ashes solidified because
of the river overflowing and flooding
the town—the life of a plant
or man or woman can be taken so easily
like breaking a newborn baby’s pinky

*

So many beautiful people on the metro
—where do they all go later on?

*

Wet fall leaves are so different from dry ones—
apart from kicking them up
and getting a shoe-full of water,
they stick to their surface like hell—
is this always a sign of autumn
or is this just something I see
as my eyes are almost always plastered
to the ground?

*

The arm of my tea mug is a sideways smile
and an eye—
there’s black through it, a pupil,
or pajama bottoms,
or a big, open hole.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Poet -- lots of work as well

The poet, despite his age,
and the fact that he told me one brunch
while talking work & life
that he's Getting Old,
doesn't like to show such cautions in his words.
Instead, he holds on to his
commitments, has barely spoken of death
since I've known enough to read him.

Death is the gathering of leaves
and their burning, -- supposedly to clear the yard
but really it's a terrible stench
and sticks to our autumn coat
and even the pockets will stay smoky
until it's finally, finally washed.
Why not speak of it, though,

I wondered slightly, though the poet
is resolute because he holds words highly
and ideals and philosophy,
which I admire, though
I cannot walk that way, I'd rather
wear the skeleton costume
that hangs next to my polaroids
of friends and Massachusetts.
Who imagines death but the living
and finds it anywhere
like wool sweaters in winter
unless we wear them for reasons
other than keeping out the cold.

Cold -- lots of work...very disjointed...is the first stanza needed, even?

If I let the cold of the beer run into my fingers
without clenching
without retreating just a bit
will the outside get a little warmer as I walk out the door
or will the tips of my toes freeze
as per usual?

A cold toe means a cold body, afterall
(the only thing we are born with
that needs constant covering)
-- a house without heat, walking, patas peladas
and by the way, Influenza,
my last lover who rolled with me in bed
so many nights
and left like the woolly morning,
aren't you and I brought together
by our naked toes meeting
on the cold, dusted floor?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Rides, after C.D. Wright's "Like Something Christenberry Pictured"

If this were, in fact, the end -- when you take away with you the last leaves of autumn on the way in from Boston or even Worcester, heading off the exit ramp of the Pike -- if this really were the end,

wouldn't you want to hear bells or some annunciation? -- not like the terrible anticipation (the wait & wait & wait &) sudden drop on the amusement ride "Xtreme Fall," that, all intensities included, could substitute for a few seconds of death,

or at least death's dream (which is of life, one would imagine) -- the pushing off the high dive by an unknown yet horrifically familiar pair of hands -- and there's no fantastical music,

just a whistling -- in and out of the dream -- and the whirling you feel after is only physical dizziness, the fastest ferris wheel in New England

-- a speaker blaring corny lines ("Drop in soon, won't you?") that should be welcoming and not force you to think of the imminent dread, but that is the rubberband of adrenaline, isn't it? -- and in the end

what isn't more enjoyable than exploding inwardly in one place, widening the eyes a little and letting your heart -- despite its settling solidly, comfortably inside your throat -- breathe deep and hold it,

an underwater feeling, after all; and how glorious to touch ground and find death is not imaginary but still temporary and finally, finally

you breathe.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Love Poem

I promised your socks I'd return
them. Was it
your lips that fascinated me,
or your hair
so black it curled into itself
lovely on the inside.

I hold hands with others
who don't
wear gloves; eat soup
spicy.
You can't see much in chili peppers
besides heat,
and what is red

besides

the color of you.

El barro no esta revuelto


There is a tree
I always pass on the way home.
I watch it constantly
waiting to see if and how
it changes.
The reds of autumn
remind me, almost, of
burnt pumpkin seeds --
salted, splitting them cautiously
a crack resounding
in the head, signaling sweet seed.
Also time. Also darker greens.
A life of falling, nothing ever lost.
Once I confused your argyle sweater
for the pattern of my life.
I stole it, brown, cashmere,
the crack of fallen leaves
that weren't dry in the first place.
It's the dirt that was.
That's what we really stepped on.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Slept, by Jennifer Chang....

Poetry Daily is a great site.

It has this great poem in it.



Yum.

Mote con Huesillos

Fall, and the stamens on these flowers
are plump -- one burst, I doubt from the cold.
I don't mind. I woke up today
to see the fall and haven't seen much
besides two instances,
gestures toward a more furious
type of tree; plus the white
of old hair on rotten leaves.
The stamen is where the pollen lies, the sex
of the flower where the bee
takes a bit & floats to the next.
I don't mean for sexual metaphors,
it's just facts. A red stamen like a red leaf.
Burst, it's white-ish/yellow-ish
on the inside, the flower blooms
grateful for the rain we had
last night. Digging my spoon
into the mote, it doesn't taste fantastic
but the huesillo is sweet & tangy
if you give it enough time on your tongue.

Parque Nacional La Campana

I never reached the top of the mountain.
But it was green, green inside.
Along the pathway I walked,
a reddened dash, a tree,
seven leaves on a broken branch, fallen
leaves and leaves like clay so red
they should be living. To kick them up'd be
a little useless: the life in them
is their fantastic death. They are
all fingers, pointing outward
towards time. I even heard
the crack announcing autumn's growth.
They fell like an arm, an empty arm,
embarrassed, as it dropped.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is There a Ghost? -- dunno if i like this it's a little angsty, huh?

I could sleep for days at a time.
The dead have nothing on me --
my hair would curl, and so would the dreams.
Once I dreamt of being pushed,
twice, off different platforms
and in another, battled the gator
that ate my grandmother. I woke up
feeling strange but gratified.

When I lived alone, I'd dance,
lots of times without music,
in my room. Why not dance,

I thought. I would cook eggs
and black beans and they would
dance in their rooms as well.

The dead must be haunting my hair.
I wake up with more each day,
wavier now, acting wild & unruly.
Mornings breakfast is practically useless --
there is no fast to break.
Now, December begins the cold,
while November stayed nice.
Is there a ghost in my house?

Smog -- an attempt at a poem in Spanish

Cuando llueve cae la clara de huevo.
A veces me toca mirar hacia la cordillera
y se ve brillante aunque
cafe y verde no brillan. Estoy convencido
que la idea de una montana
tapada con hielo o nieve
ya es historia, que, cuando se ve
ese estrecho de panzas gorditas
no hay cerros ni viejas errupciones terrestres
sino luz brillando con el color de tierra.
El proximo dia vuelve tapandose como una hoja seca
y deja su luz como la mariposa de sueno.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Facebook Status Sonnet -- a poem of facebook statuses ripped apart & thrown together again..

Risk-ed out, searching for sleep.
Dreading somewhere near
Canada and the Atlantic.
So close, so delayed. Seattle, DC.
Proceed, smiling. What doesn’t
Disappear, wants it to happen.
Awake, turned, it’s not a tumor.
Speckled daughters left as leopards,
Respectable again: clarity, foresight.
It is love like maple syrup.
Wishing the remains were longer.

Vodka soda soaking in today’s spring;
Strolling through summer fields,
Loving. I want to be a maniac. It is love.

Untitled

I assume we can handle thunder
even when lightning
smacks us with blue
every monsoon season. Sometimes
the driest times are in rain.
Warm rain in August.
It brings you back briefly
to the drought my father
kept reminding me about.
Before it begins
it's warm August in rain,
humidity you can swim in.
Days like that, our desire
stays inside like a tired adolescent.
Turn toward the inside.
What's under the bed beside August.
If it could rain inside my room
I would always let it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

After Miles of Scorched Trees, I've Had Enough

I think we all wear beards.
Honeysuckle and bees
bees and honey that drips
like a red curtain. Beards
made of hair and dead whales
like the ones you see on tv sometimes.
Sometimes beards get sick
and throw up white ugliness.
We wear them pretty,
lovely like some trees.
They itch like burnt earth.

Sleep

A few nights ago Malorie and I
were in a class, a raving professor
and his existential thoughts
on snowflake and snowmen cut-outs.
I fall asleep on public transportation.
Lasting things on my tongue:
dryness, a woman, a floor, grain,
footsteps, hands holding, maybe a metal bar.
Sara and I biked in the rain.
Hers was dry, mine soaked and set
leaning in an alley with soft light.
She twisted off. Like how she really did
when we biked in Bariloche.
That was no rainfall. If anything, wind.
If anything blue. A tree. A bump
in the road like a swell in a carpet.
We took no short cuts. In a dream
I woke up from another dream
and went out to search for a friend.
When we reached the top of that hill
the world felt cleaner.

Perfume is my Only Hope

I’ve made the mistake again
rubbing my eyes with
traces of chili pepper juice

still left on my fingers.

Think pepper spray
or tear gas, lacrimogena,
lacrimae. Swallowing
a gallon of perfume into my nose
slowly clears up the sting,
lingering to creep & itch.

I wish chilies weren’t so delicious.
My own fault for having eyes,
my own fault for succumbing
to urges I should ignore,
blackening the senses
panicking, wanting more than anything
what helps.

Night (needs a new title...)

Sometimes I laugh
    and I like it.


Get me another beer
    will you?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Iam Ver Egelides Refert Tepores (Now Spring Brings Warmths)" After Anne Carson

Soledad, Warmth

In the cold, aren't we waiting
for a larger season
of no brown paper bags
to breathe into, no falls?
What unlocks
but flowers. Louder, lovelier.
Now we plant our backs into the ground.
Now we watch what leaves.
Keep coming back to it.
Back the same way go a new way.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

At the Park

At the park, I sat on a large
colorful lizard, pinks, blues,
small fish as eyes,
beside the playground's
other sculpture toys & jungle gym.

There sat a kid, large
in the eyes, tight blue
jeans, fumbling, looking drunk. I
watched. He sat, made a sculpture his ground
while the smaller kids kept to the gym.

I started to think up something --
probably profound -- about
stupid drunken kids
when he suddenly got up
and rushed (as well as he could)

fumbling toward my lizard.
Something must've told him
(maybe my silence apart from the kids)
that I was looking. I stood up,
practically fled. Serves me right, anyway.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Selk'nam or, Looking, Hoping

In the museum of natural history
there are two giant turtles:
the sea turtle
and the giant
Galapagos tortoise--
its scales
larger than I've ever seen,


enough that
we could walk on them
if we were little --
each plate a Pangaea
a Tierra del Fuego --
though suffering
intense winds, winters:

the protection
we'd have to hunt for,
torpidly, spears in hand
throwing long dashes
toward a destination, hoping
to reach a target.

Clutter

Went to the Quinta Normal today.
It's getting colder towards night.
It's the green of the grass & trees
that gets to me: it leads me,
leads me always to the museums.
This is a microcosm of man's experience.
The cast model of a velociraptor-type dinosaur
gave me the chills. The heebie-jeebies
are also a microcosm of man's experience.
Whale bones, older'n a hundred years.
It's strange and ominous & lovely
how a whale's skin almost
has nothing to do with its bones.
Later on, a gigantic mug of coffee
and an empanada. My hand slipped
& too much sugar landed in the cup.

At the Acupuncturist (i think this poem's silly...if only for the cop-out ending, any suggestions?)

Sliding down into that phase
where the two heat lamps
sunning your arms-like-live-pin-cushions

in which all seems a bit dreamy --
be it the heat or not
you've nothing to do with your time

but sleep. The grandest object:
the window: an arch, pillar sentinels,
long glass plates, rose-tipped

at the actual arch. Darkness.
Awake again, heat's off.
were there ghost's cackling recently?
The arch pointing downward, smiles.

claudia retamal


so claudia is a friend of mine from valdivia, chile, who i met while traveling. she's an artist, and a i lovely one at that. anyways, a while ago, i posted a poem based off her painting of the earthquake in valdivia...

This is in spanish...inspired by a painting by claudia retamal

Hay una falla en el centro

una fruta podrida al fondo del canasto
un rostro quemado por los agentes del horror
un rastro que supura bajo las vendas.

Hay un error en todo esto.
Una piedra en el engranaje
un mecanismo desaceitado.

Son objetos, cartas, llaves perdidas bajo la alfombra
basura, quebradas que esconden cuerpos bajo la cal.

No hay sagrado corazón que redima.
No hay oración que enmiende ni explique.

Hay un pinchazo por donde se cuela el aliento
un desastre por donde hace agua la embarcación.

Hay una grieta
una trizadura en el centro

Allí chorrea la comprensión
el alquitrán ardiente de la palabra

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lemon and Honey

I'm with a cold like I'm with child.
The smell of honey
is either coming from the mug of it
recently consumed
or the smallest traces of it
that might still be on my fingers.
Voice, recently lost; recently gained again.
Viral or bacterial? Will I sleep tonight?
Emergency water next to the bed.
A heavy head. It's viral.
Being almost mute is wanting
to tell the world "Stop!"
Today was a friend's birthday.
One of the girls here cried.
I couldn't ask anything.
I don't think I'll ever know why.

The Meta Poem

I think I dreamed some lines last night.
Something about my lips turning blue and orange
out of fear or pleasure
or something else I can't remember.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

To Looking Forward

And what if there is no field?
In your heart of hearts
absence?
No more throwing deer off cliffs.
I thank my father & mother
for my two big toes
and thumbs that keep me stable.
Move out of the house,
swerving.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

In The House

There are so many ants here.
My legs are sore, have I pulled them
or not stretched enough?
I find ants in the bed: at first a strange,
jittery speck. Then I see legs.

I've killed a plenty by now, in the bed alone.
My fingers smell of garlic:
I tried to make an interesting marinara.
Thinking always brings my hand
near my nose. What a strong smell.

Opening the bathroom door,
seven, eight ants just circling,
no purpose. I don't do a thing about it.

Lately there's a strange picking
on my skin while in bed.
I hope it's my imagination.

Friday, February 29, 2008

a definition -- am i a "post-avant?"

According to Reginal Shepard on his blog post on Harriet, the thing that I've been trying to think about for a long time has arrived. Do I trust it? It seems credible, and I'll probably be looking into it more and more.

We are, I think, of the generation of the "post-avants." Here's the definition:

"Post-avant" (as in, "post-avant-garde"—insider groups love shorthand) poets can be described as writers who, at their best, have imbibed the lessons of the modernists and their successors in what might be called the experimental or avant-garde stream of American poets, including the Objectivists (especially Oppen and Zukofsky), what have been called the New American Poetries (from Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan to John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara), particularly the Projectivist/Black Mountain School and the New York School(s), and the Language poets (including such poets and polemicists as Charles Bernstein and Ron Silliman), without feeling the need (as so many other poetic formations have) to pledge allegiance to a particular group identity (the poetry world is full of fence-building and turf wars) or a particular mode of proceeding artistically. As poet and editor Rebecca Wolff writes of her journal Fence, a home of the post-avant, such writing “intentionally blurs the distinction between 'difficulty' and 'accessibility,' preferring instead to address a continuum of utterance.” Though many of these poets have projects and even systems, there aren’t a lot of programs. There’s much prose writing and thinking about poetry, and many, many blogs (this is a very wired “generation”), but not many manifestoes.
So, I suppose the question is, are we writing what we want to write, or are we knowingly giving credit to our influences and adjusting ourselves appropriately. I don't mind saying that I have huge influences within the New York School and the Black Arts Movement, but also a big part in the influence of my peers (hey guys!). So what do you think, guys who read this? Are we "intentionally blurring the distinction" between the 'difficulty' and 'accessibility' of our poetry? Or are we just writing what we wann' write?

this isn't my poem...and i don't know who it's by, but it's lovely

B=A=R=D

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"For who but I should understand love with all its sorrows and joy?" -- Walt Whitman

It's Never Possible to Write a Good Love Poem

Dates are dropping from the tree outside.
I tried one, it's nice, but dry.
You have to peel a green skin
to get to the meat, red and seedy,
a million of them. I wrote once,
"I want to take you outside,
ask you questions,
wonder at your solidity & ease
like the shining fact of your nose ring
against the sun."
Who but
I should understand love
with all its sorrows and joy.
That should still be a question.
Now I wonder how I never knew
a thing in my life. How, like a cake, love
always molds into another thing.

Older poem, slightly revised...

Phill Grossman passed away in a motorcycle accident, he was a big person in the GW community, I feel, cause almost everyone knew him, at least by his feathered fedora, or his big black cloak he always toted around...


Elegy for Phill

Death is a wet sock
that slips too suddenly over the body.
You shake his hand.
Droplets wander down your arm
plink onto your shoes.

He shakes your hand and smiles
because before, you knew him as
warm. He played clarinet.
He is sopping.
The sidewalk is wet with his past
as he walks, & turns the corner.

Apologies for the grossness of this poem...for those who can't read anything about my own body, please avert your eyes...

(This is unfinished, no title as of yet...)

Naked again, looking into the mirror,
just mystified by the curve
your pregnant (man's) belly makes
(the chest, a bit large to call them pecs)
but mostly that dive downward
that impressive hill leading into the forest
and outward to the cliff.
(Is that what a Jewish penis always looks like?)

Our body is a long curve,
isn't it? And yet that's what, supposedly,
interests us men: curves, the voluptuousness
of a bottom lip, the hip
curve enough to place a hand,
something to rest on
that suddenly your fingers
grow, widen like a dilated pupil

(here's where it's unfinished...ideas??)

A new flood of poems, some old, rediscovered ones, sorry no numbering...i gave up, remember?? i'm a quitter!!!

Self-Portrait

I'm a pear. A washed pear.
How does one live
like this: easily held,
always still or waiting
to be eaten or who knows what.

I guess it's not so bad, though:
aren't I a delicacy somewhere,
fit on a plate
with gorgonzola, romaine
and raspberry vinaigrette?

There are the obviously pitfalls.
I have no ass, no penis --
just tough skin and sweet meat.
I can't even love. I get lost
in the earth when done with, and then?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

i give up

dearest sirs and mademoiselles, i give up. i thought i could do it but i think, in the end, i haven't kept up as well as possible, and i have officially decided it's over.

i could've been a contedah. i could've been a contendah!


andrew

Friday, February 22, 2008

Words plum (after a really silly menu that's badly translated) #50

Words plum. Love peaches into the horizon.
But words plum. They hold you in their hand
sour and a reddish-purple and hopefully not mealy
on the inside. They’re smaller, shapely,
perforated by pock marks that don’t even sink

inside their skin, unless actually infected
& dangerous and must be sucked out
by a quick bite and spit into the trash.
Love’s pit splits open and who knows what’s
inside that poor thing. Does it grow at all?
The meat is what counts. It’s hard to swallow a peach whole.
Plums fall to the earth.
Peaches over-cast the sky.
Love over-casts the sky. Words fall to the earth.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Untitled, #49 (I'm cheating cause it's an older poem...)

I hope to fall down to my death like a pleasant cadence.
Like a symphony,
an early Beethoven, say,

I finish and that’s it! It's not the end, though,
that's important.
It’s the falling that is important to me.

I suppose I won’t realize it.
Or perhaps I will,
and that’s all the better.
I will know what to say at least.
I will probably want a glass of water
in a blue cup
and want to know how fast
the water runs,
if it babbles like a voice.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Such Thoughts In Summer, #48

The afternoon is called heat.
It doesn't matter the temperature
in the room, under a blanket
that in dreams could be a pumpkin
or an autumn ed of leaves,

the afternoon lifts me out of bed
with heat. Plucked slowly
like a lazy nylon guitar string.

To not wake would be better.
But the point is to open like a book
and love & respect your reader
with the words of a lover.

Short (a small exercise), #48

is the can strewn on the floor
forgotten after a hurried lunch.
Your hair as well, and gaze,
never up, only close, it's as brown
as your hair.
The inning, Sox vs. Yanks, was not.
Love was not. Your hair is.
As brown as leaves. Time was.
As brown as leaves.

Do I Finish You, Afterall? #47

Emptiness like a cave in my mouth
tastes like idle coffee
like idle coffee cake, like bad vanilla
like a foreign language
and it smiles at itself, as in a mirror
looking at itself, touching up,
fixing his tie.

Unfinished Poem in Spanish, #46

Sea o no sea el cafe
siento un zumbido en mi brazo
como cuando suena la ampoyeta...


----
(rough translation)

Be it the coffee or not
I feel a buzzing in my arm
like when the lightbulb buzzes...

Under a Gigantic Memorial for the Carabineros de Chile, Santiago, #45

This city is so empty. Six p.m., no,
that's a lie, almost seven
on a Friday. It's February,
summer vacation, the beach-week
when you can afford it
and the time. The shade is glorious
under this thing, though
the marble is as hot as the sun
and anyway it's not of much consequence
because the people are gone,
and
not concentrating on shade
but sun and how it bronzes the skin
instead of baking it like a pastel de choclo.

And so what's there to notice now that everyone's away
besides the immensity of this monument
the taste of watermelon (which I don't like)
and grapes (which I do)
some good coffee & cream
that I'm still slightly swallowing.
And the shade
& the large Bayer sign across the street
the sun
and summer traffic that goes swoosh
like a blown paper, loose leaf.

This is Probably More of a Worry Thought than a Poem, #44

Bronchitis is very easily cured.
He's off the anti-biotic
and should be getting better,
but they're hiccup-coughs
those that won't let you be
so you have to suppress them
until the cough builds & erupts
all over again. He's older, suddenly.
Though there's no real reason to worry
because a sickness fades
a cough fades, so do hiccups
but then there's sleep &
the hours of it lost, and,
with some help & force, regained.
His voice is still the same,
and probably will be in July,
when I'll see him again.

Mi abuelo ha envejecido, #43

Ser viejo es ser cansado.
Hasta los ojos hasta los dedos y labios
cansado como cuando un arbol se cansa de mover
y llora un poco en reposo
apoyandose con su tronco extranjero
como sus propias ramas.

No es que sea muerte esto.
God forbid. Speak not of these things.
Speak no more.

Blues, #42

A phrase of a song is just attached
to my psyche, & won't get outta me:
"I wear blue. I wear blue,"

but it's not so simple as that:
I (elongated) wear blue. I wear (pause) blue.
A vinyl with a speck in the groove.

This is the nature of a song, I suppose.
It digs & digs and then I wear it too.
And when the body adjusts

the eyes adjust too. Everything gets tinted,
what else in this view isn't blue.
Even pain has its own depths

and that's why a song digs. Despite
sweetness like honeydew, it aims for something
and then it tints.

Friday, February 15, 2008

hey all, sorry for the delays, the wrist is REALLY hurtin lately...

i have some tendinitis...but i am writing i do promise that. i'll post all the catch up poems later on, hopefully wrist intact.


andrew

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Jewish Melody, Congregacion Israelita, Buenos Aires #41

A short, sweet melody jumps & twiddles its thumbs,
mildly enjoying itself until an outburst of
happiness like pigeons or blackbirds
clambers out its own spaces making winds.
I wanted to write a Song of Exile:
a melody had wrenched me and left a pang.
A song of exile doesn't celebrate:
a minor key that does not drag, it just continues
breathes in and out the past.
We chant along in shul, once happy then sad, in cycles.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

#40 ya'lls!!1! Autumn's Child

It’s summer in South America.
Santiago, Chile,
is hot and I have stayed
inside my house for too much time

doing nothing.

This title is stolen from a song I almost downloaded
but wasn’t able to in the end.
I long for autumn.

Even summer carries a certain loneliness.

It’s the right temperature outside.
From the dryness of this city
I can wear flip-flops and be cold
though comfortably cold

like the beginning of autumn. I miss New England.
Trees, glazed in burnt colors.
Everything is possible in autumn
though most people believe it’s the spring that renews.

I doubt that. Through fallen leaves you can see
the probable future
and the smell propels you back into memories.
Sadness and happiness like yellow apples.

Summer is simplicity.
It’s here for heat’s sake; for the blossoming of blueberries
strawberries, peaches and plums.
The darkest plum skins are an autumn night.

When heat is what keeps you in,
no doubt there’s loneliness in summer.
You begin to think about the outside,
unintentional looks at the market, while waiting for fresh apple cider.

Voices, #39

I just heard a recording on a website:
Kenneth Koch, “One Train May Hide Another.”
The beauty of his voice --
high, consistent,
pensive or in a half-lament --
just kept going and did not want to stop:
beautiful, reckless. But it's ok.

It’s when a voice becomes nervous
purely out of its own responsibility to become nervous
like John Berryman does on his recording
of the first “Dream Song,”

that you twitch too
with every stutter and pause:


Like you in a train, nervous,
you want to get off
but refuse out of stubbornness
even though things like shanty houses shock you
and swamps with trees like
burnt bone shock you
and it doesn't stop
doesn’t want to stop
and you twitch nervously, beautifully.
But it’s ok.

Friday, February 8, 2008

After a Long While (on the Metro)

my eyelids fall toward my satchel
like the drop of water
off the glass she was holding.

Plucked Guitar #38

I like how the sound of the guitar
slides down your throat
twiddling & plucking your chest strings.
And a tear wells up
because it's as if it were a sock in the gut
but you enjoy it
it makes you feel sad
like a semicolon does
stopping forever the top of a letter
while reaching back towards it all at once.
The twang you hear should be low
and far reaching.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

#37, I apologize for the suckitude....

Sleep, Happiness, Theory


What is happiness?
Happiness is a roll of film

What's a roll of film?
Something to take pictures with

Your dreams, which always
end up blurry, in motion

Fear which is frozen
and green with sickness

Sleep, which is nothing but
rest, heart stealing

like a photo is said to do.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

#36, and it needs lots of help

The Art of Barbecue Isn't Hard to Master,

it all depends on how you
treat your steak, sausage, ribs,
whatever cut you may have.
Do you grill peppers on the side,
an onion, a tomato?
How do you like it:
bloody as the red pepper,
or black, burnt
like some eyes, like some fingers
like cages, knives,
two holes on the moon's surface
holes between lips
the rip in the carpet
that tears a bit more
since a foot will always get caught in it
and trip
blackening the surface with skid
and soot and charcoal.

Monday, February 4, 2008

#35, Heat

Sweat should be colorful.
Then you can be bathed
in a mood ring
instead of bland salt water:

morose reds, greens like those
that drip off conifers
in the morning like brewing coffee,
blues like infants' eyes and brown
like the roots of a family.

Walk, swagger in heat.
Colors dissolve in the shower,
like troubles,
after a brutal humid day.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

With an Elated Heart I Stare at a List of Argentine Poets and Authors (#34)

Perhaps after I buy a slew of books from every author, my capitalist urges to feed the Machine will subside.

...they smell like Florida oranges.