Plain American Language

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

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.

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 ( 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 ---


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 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
You can't see much in chili peppers
besides heat,
and what is red


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.


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.