Plain American Language

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

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
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,

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


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.