11.29.2014

Rules for Living

You had rules for life.
One was: In every new town,
try the Chinese restaurant.
I disagreed, preferring salad
or grilled cheese on rye,
but I went along.
Now, at every opportunity,
I eat broccoli with garlic sauce
and think of you. Still
resisting your rules,
but I’m losing interest
in strong opinions about food.
In a couple years all rules
for life will be irrelevant anyway.
Then I can forget you.

For Bjorn’s prompt to the Real Toads: TIME TRAVEL
And... it’s #29 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!

11.28.2014

Family Tree

Comes a moment
when a child’s empathy is tested.
Like heavy snow on the slenderest branch
you hope for deep bend, no cracking.
You should have known
there’s nothing brittle about her.
You watch her choose the right
but painful thing,
swelling with tears to near-burst
but she does not break.
She is pliable; she is green.
And mama, you too must bend.
What do you choose in the face of her tears?
You are the oak.
Describe your pride, your weathering,
your wonder at her strength, then
join her in sorrow.

Dear Corey asked the Real Toads to write about a time when we did not know how to feel about what was happening. It’s #28 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.26.2014

Fellowship (To Scale)

Turns out shadows
can’t be wiped off, dirt
resists extraction
even with sharp objects.
Just digs in deeper.
There is no relief
here; race defines you--
strangers, sisters
irrespective. Shit’s deep
and love is skewed.

Words from Grapeling’s travel list: scale, shadows, dirt, relief, race, skew

Poem #26 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.25.2014

Demons

It’s impossible to think
in the spin cycle. You can only feel.
Maybe you’ll notice how
you always hang the same color towels.
Never blue and white, only white
or blue.
As you spin,
you’ll feel the battering,
the bruises forming, the purple-yellowing
of them. You’ll wonder
what kind of cycle you spin in
when one man
testifies under oath
about another man’s face: It looks like a demon.
Spinning, reddening--
You’ll blink, then go back to hanging,
segregating by color.

Poem #25 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.24.2014

Death Day

Fog pushes down
on your death day,
then the rain moves in.
Plowable snow is forecast
for the holiday.
The radio reports
that today is the birthday
of Margaret Anderson,
who first published Ulysses,
burned as obscene.
Weirdly warm today, weirdly
windy too. No day
for fire.
In 1991, we burned you
on our collective retinas,
beautiful in life,
obscene in your youthful
unforgiving
death.

Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Freddie Mercury, #24 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.22.2014

Chip, Block, Apple, Tree

Are you sure
you like those boots?
mother asks, repeats
after the answer
Yes, sure I do
fails to convince.
I mean, I just want
to make sure you aren’t
wearing them
because you haven’t
something else
to wear. You like them?
Of course I like them.
If I didn’t,
I’d be whining about them.

Poem #22 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!

11.21.2014

Still Life with Fruit

This overripe melon
came from a cornucopia
of unseasonable offerings
at the market,
where all is available
every month.

What’s seasonal in December
around here anyway?

All I know is,
December’s dark freeze
easily destroys
the leggy new growth of May,
penetrating until she’s crushed,
seeds strewn across ice.

detail from Still Life with Fruit, Severin Roesen, 1852

For Margaret’s prompt to the Real Toads featuring this painting by Severin Roesen. Number 21 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.20.2014

A Poem About Aging, Chock-Full of Stereotypes, or at Least Crusty Adages

Time went completely wobbly
a long time ago
or was it only last week?
I’m older than my mother was
when I went off to college,
but just turned young enough
to snort-laugh a hallway chase
with an eight-year-old,
who says she might die laughing.
Seems we just chatted yesterday.
Has it really been years?
Years ago, I forgot my age
but now, cycling my half-century
is perpetually apparent.
Still too young for ladyfingers
with the bitter woman’s bridge
& sherry club, though.
They don’t serve vegans, plus
members are required
to wear underwear. At least
I’m old enough to know better
than to believe older means wiser.

For Kerry’s prompt to the Real Toads: YOUTH & AGE 
Plus, this is #20 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans. Whoosh!

11.19.2014

The Cabinet Requests

C’mon baby,
Spray some oil
on my hinges--
I promise
to keep quiet.

Home sick today, so just this teensy ditty for #19 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans. Who knows, maybe a head cold will produce some delirious poetry. Or, maybe I will just sleep it off.

11.18.2014

Something to Chew On

If death implies life then get started living
you intone, or at least I think that was you
chanting sagely, though in the pale of morning
I’ve forgotten my dream. Heavy from the mood
of the thing not recalled, I heave from black
to the brittle green-grey of before-dawn, leave
the room of regret for a spell best utilized
wisely because penitence piles up like frail leaves
this month, whirling around thirsty heads, dizzying,
decomposing as it spins. Was it really you whispering
across the bends, reeling an incantation, expecting
me to receive and comprehend? Yeah? Join me, then,
in a cup of black coffee and folding the towels,
ruminating, ruminating what’s already been swallowed.

#18 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!

11.15.2014

Rhapsody

Part of me
shines our boldest angel,
his pavonine glory eighty-sixed
in his preening prime--
Having anticipated
as much, steadfastly denied
   & orchestrated
last verse so sublimely beautiful
as to greet the sky where
the wind blows.

More inspired by Freddie Mercury. And #15 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!

11.14.2014

Emulating Freddie

He predicted
there would come a day
for changing strategies,
when to carry on as usual
gets to being ridiculous.

Until that day, let’s keep on
playing Queen in tight jeans,
bottle-brass hair let down
and I-don’t-give-a-fuck
emblazoned across our bosoms.

In the end, he never
had to figure out how to age
while twirling half a mic stand.
Let’s you and I not bother
figuring that out, either.

Real Toads are inspired by FREDDIE MERCURY. I think I could write a dozen poems inspired by Freddie; this is just something, just one thing I've been thinking about in connection with his life and music. And, this #14 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.13.2014

Helpful Household Hints

Oh, for
that moment when you think
you’ve stolen time
to write,
but you end up cleaning
up an overflowed toilet instead.
Here’s a tip.
When you have a clog, plunge.
Don’t flush.
I guess the same could be said
about writing.
You want to suck the stuff out,
not flush it away, though
the temptation
to soften the edges with poison
is strong. Hold fast
to that edge and pull,
pull like necessity, get it all out.

True story. This is #13 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.12.2014

Icons R Ours

Do we get the best of you?
You are
honed from pink star diamond,
sprinkled with fairy dust.
Some people
have to deal with dandruff,
but you shake your head,
magic spews out
like a prowess geyser.
You shake your ass
and we all faint,
pin your poster to our walls,
attempt to embody you,
use
a variant of you
in nasty yet delicious acts,
dreams ringing with applause.
Still, we demand.
Perhaps a version of you
goes unsullied,
heirloom edition,
packed away for safekeeping?
Hope you are well-stowed
because
there’s no place safe out here.

Where am I going with this? Just started ruminating on the subject of iconic people in society for Kerry’s mid-week prompt to the Real Toads. But when you are writing 30 poems in as many days, you end up sharing stuff that ordinarily you’d file under DRAFT. So here you are, the beginnings of something that I’m counting as #12 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.11.2014

Todo Acaba en Llanto

Sorrow bestows sorrow.

Grief responds in earnest
to kind gestures, terror

discomfits in waves drawn
fast by flash of lurking
loss, sideways obsidian

vision goes cobalt, fades
ash, drowns in wishing well.

Sorrow begets sorrow.

Inspirada por una historia de mi amiga querida Jacqui, y numero 11 de 30 Poems in November beneficiando Center for New Americans.

11.10.2014

Talking To a Wall

Been walking
a path leading to this guy.

Been visiting
every day, talking out troubles.

Been wondering
what I’d do if he talked back,
but he hasn’t, so far.

He’s been listening
without dispensing advice.

That’s valuable, you know,
finding someone who hears you
and actually listens.

Been thinking
if reason flew by on bird wings,
I might miss it in this place.

If hope unfolded in a fiddlehead,
it would be trampled underfoot.

If tomorrow rose like the sun,
right in the middle of this path,

I’d be too busy holding my head
in concert with this guy to notice.

photo by Marian Kent


Happy Monday! This is #10 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.

11.08.2014

What To Do About November

When the last brittle maple leaves
still holding strong shiver
in the face of Snow Sky, it’s time
to bring in porch furniture, sturdy
gutters, add a quilt to the bed.

Blink your tears, buck up
and move forward, remembering
always comes a day when frosted limbs
warm like a cat napping in raxiera,
when all the cold and distant falls away.

#8 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.