Thursday, April 30, 2015
Bucket lists are over
rated. Kicking them
is cliché. The act of doing
something whose reasoning
is based on not attaining,
erases joy like broken handles
of a slop jar. Jumping out
of a plane is to feel
the air rush past you and not hit
the ground. If bucket listed,
you face death to not face death.
If you hit the ground, you won't be
thinking of your list. Do you cherry pick
the 10000 things list, or do you
alphabetize it? Or maybe go for
the most popular lists derived
from that great number? Some say
that lists can be shared, but living
the dream list of others is like watching
others eat cake, with frosting,
pales in comparison.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Not an Erasure Poem
I tried to make this one,
went through various partial
attempts, paging through
Wikipedia, and lyrics, and poems
to find something to take away
from the lot, to egress just a few
letters clouded just so. Placement
through backspacing, sponging
white or cutting re-faces in a
graffitiesque hiding, an obliteration
of parceled font, an unilateral landscape
that blankets in black,
a sidelong glance for more,
an eclipse of the page.
I actually started with the band Erasure, but that didn't go anywhere. Heh.
Monday, April 27, 2015
I used to sit in church
and look up, counting medallions,
accepting how the marble and the song
exalted people in the pews, those
who built the church, and those who wrote
the books. The cornerstone
and the binding of the book, grew
and raised us all to tap in, like a winged
root, to raise art, song, and word,
trying to see the sky and beyond.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
No Title Available
Of all of the conversations
in all of the world, those I have
in my mind, with you,
are the longest and the strongest.
If those that never hear the light
of day, and those that I imagine
were true, or false, mostly false,
came true, there'd be another
conversation, very dissimilar
to the number I imagine. Zero
resemblance to love or life,
so I will keep them quiet,
no matter how loud they are
at night next to you.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Some job names are pedestrian,
no sizzle, likely to repeat and repeat
like a stamping machine
that isn't listening.
Dam tenders or ditch riders
on the other hand, play around
in water and play in sound,
one in tension and one in release.
They share an ability
to surprise using their names,
a joy (I typed job, true that)
that comes from the unimaginable
scope of a particular occupation.
I imagine a gentle person, patting
the dam, no swearing allowed,
and telling it that it should
be strong, and to forgive itself
its lapses, cracks in the facade,
a sigh of a moment impounding
man and design.
Ditch rider sound a little more
Easy Rider than Ghost Rider,
meandering down the water lane
finding levels and no fame,
but a rush between the legs
suspended across the gully.
a creative burst zinging up
to forgive the damns of the ignorant
know it alls who repeat and repeat.
Friday, April 24, 2015
I count on these arm
spread blooms every spring.
Their white sprung faces
bring a smile to mine
even if the dark center
houses bird nests
that cats steal, or hide
eaves trough spouts. Fate
tells us we can't choose
but each time the season
after winter proves fate
wrong. I planted these
to remember the viburnum hedge
that bloomed that day.
Here it blooms early, knowing
how much it counts, rather
than the hardiness
zones that fate picked.
It has spread past
its area, like you
spread through me.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Why'd the poem cross the street?
To get over to the next line
break. No easy
street, or easement here,
just a bunch of feathered
creatures roasting in a Napo
oven, basted with the fluff
of other chickens, yellow
feathers tickling the trafficking
of words, engines of poetry.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015
Packs of Cigarettes
Those posed puffs
which you burned through
in a day, stained your beard
and fingers the same shade
of nicotine yellow, like a pursed lip
flower. You stood at the front of the class
and explained ethics and choice,
your back against the chalk
board, smudging the yellow words
you refined with logic earlier
until they were trailing bits,
a spent bright comet,
pieces flying off towards us.
You'd sit down occasionally,
and let the chalk ledge be your
chair rail. Your fingers mimicked
smoking even when you weren't.
When you licked your stained finger
to turn the page, we all cringed
knowing how the bits of tobacco
would draw themselves across
the book, one we'd later need
to check out from Reserve.
Posted by vmh at 6:20 AM
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Driving Past The Penitentiary
The double row of barbed wire
is what sets apart me in my car
from you in your cell. I see
your son every day at school,
and I'm curious if you know
the pride he has in your location,
your grey bars, your orange jumpsuit
that he thinks looks like a superhero,
and that if he thought about it, you would fly
over those walls. He doesn't
realize that you can't, and I dread the day
he does. Or know that your day is worse
than the behavior chart he carries,
which weighs on his arm like your brick walls.
He carries many things of you, your slant
attitude and smirk, your insistence
on the innocent, his the noun,
yours the adjective. He tells me
that when the police took you
away, they were loud and had guns.
He brings sticks to school now and sharpens
the edges on the playground concrete wall.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
What Not To Say To Your Child
"You got to eat last night"
should top the list of what not to dos,
so conspicuously in a burger joint when you scavenge
into your burger with the strong
jawed gusto of a hyena into a wildebeest.
You fling your multi-tonal
brown bob undercut with blonde stripes
across your brow. Your laugh
spread across the room, like the scream
of Adam's ribs, being torn for copy.
Perfume wafted off your wrists,
stealing odor from burgers and fries.
You repeatedly licking your fingers, first
index, and then on and on to the baby
finger and back again, scaling piano keys
out of tune. Your daughter sat in a booster chair
waiting for your digestion to finish, waiting for your
fingers to stop moving, quieted by laughs
for which she would never understand, the no
humour of got to eat last night.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Reading Cosmo After Years of a Certain Age
The cover shouts "SEX! SEX! SEX!"
next to Madonna ("NEED WE SAY
MORE") in Brazilian drag. Most
of the models are younger, some remain
from back in my day. Those blurred ladies
are hidden behind sleeves or distance or filters
that Instagram would covet. Lips breasts
cleavage shoulders legs abs (we didn't worry
about abs back then) and behinds (we did)
are pictured about the same.
The Cosmo Guy is scruffed now,
his sleeves pushed up to show his biceps
that flex even though he's not holding
anything but his jaw. I don't know
of Skylar Astin, but he must be young
with a name like Skylar. The headlines
tell his rugged story, whereas the body
of the text tells another, softer story
below for those who read on.
"50 Times the Sexy" isn't about other
counted colours, just products,
which might be about the same.
Brown makeup looks like chocolate
now, a good strategy. "LOVE LUST
8 Myths About Men" enlists a hand
standing man, both ribs and abs
at the ready. Men worry
about abs now too. Naughty
toy are detailed next, when a naughty
story was highlighted in my day. The visuals
are important today. I'm still looking for the words.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
This poem was slightly inspired by the poem Disquietude by Michael Donaghy.
Hint of Gone
I wouldn't hide a voice recorder under the bed to relive
the gale of sheets wound, and blankets put asunder.
I'd treasure those sounds and breaths, the hiss
of vocabulary rendered, the porous rumours
of memory, until the next time, and the next. I've forgotten
the squeaks and door slams, wood splintered like
heartwood remains, and the disregarded
already, moments gone. When you got up that day
and left me with no sound, no fury, my ears
piqued at every whisper, every hint of gone.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
A golden dog is howling the next house over,
the wind winging his sorrow my way.
Children, like leashes, push and pull
the dog, to entice him from his nesting corner.
The pulses of silence and heat break the howls
but not the children. They tempt
treats his way, back and forth
like the deck stairs he so intensely
Then the silence remains and I worry
that the dog found the stairs and found
the gate, and now is as free as the wind
that carried his sorrow. The silence
of the children, and the door slam
I thought I heard, reminds me that all
things end, including children's initiative
on a hot spring day.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
When you first were born to me
I heard "This little light of mine"
not on the radio or TV or anywhere,
but still all around me,
wrapping my heart in maternity.
You were in a white knitted bonnet
swathed in love and blankets
and I sang and sang and said yes
to keeping you my light
and letting you shine.
You shine, and grew, and told me
exactly what your light was. You
exuding your best light. I said
yes even when you said no. You said
yes to my no. Not a candle,
because that burns, but the song
that is a daughter.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Walk This Way
Or this: a smith of air entertains grouchy remarks
for those origin stories, exposed,
steeped in drama and flair,
finalizing the daisies.
Or this: shout puns into phones
held like an ache, excusing back pats
Or this: in threes the geese
triangulate waves around her, she squawks
her displeasure at the turns.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Today's is an ekphrastic poem. The art teacher at the school I work at is doing a creative group on Saturday mornings. Mostly I write but yesterday she did lessons in gelatin mono-printing, and I made this.
When the gelatin stills,
the blues and greens meld into each
other like friends, or more.
When made permanent, by the ministering
of paper, they reverse course, and relayer
like sheets on a shaky bed.
The gold rises, pillows around, tied
in twine curlicues, quilted in lessons
on a Saturday morning.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Garlic interrupted my train of thought,
a reckoning of grocery lust and awe.
I prefer to drink my red wine in peace
yet the cool glass keeps calling out my name.
Pino doesn't require much of me,
except a jaunt ability to pour.
Reds and whites battle for supremacy,
while the pasta sauce bubbles into steam.
I've muted the dish and riled dinner,
so the tableau centers itself screenshot.
Friday, April 10, 2015
I livepoemed Book
Group, We read Anthoney Doerr's All The Light We Can Not See. Highly recommended.
The Hours of Light
The last chapter read first kills
your darlings, diamonds under her vaulted
ceilings. Find your boxed house
and let your egg float away.
Witnesses of choking and love
and horrors beyond the carved town.
The second course feeds
the stream of consciousness,
a drunken revelry. Stair climbing
and birthdays for those who lunch
but without the kitties.
Yum, strawberry ice cream cake
steals your heart
under vaulted blue, orange cityscapes.
Egyptian eyes and bonnets
look at you,
OCDing my way around
the sacristy, finding
transmission across coffee and cake.
Be a kept woman, on a cruise
ship, and cruise into the next future.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Let Me Know
The squeak of the pencil sharpener
lets me know my pencil is ready.
The ruffle of the blank page
lets me know my place is ready.
The exhalation of my lungs
lets me know my will is ready.
So when I pick up my pencil and let it
face the page, I should get a result
of tidal proportions.
Sometimes, the tidal pool
is shallow, and the rocks surrounding
are steep. The habitat surrenders
to the conditions, my words exposed
to the bright white of my page, seem
impermeable, yet life does flourish.
So when I hear the squeak
and the ruffle and my sigh,
I know the spray of the tide
waters it all.
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Evil Plans and Stuff
If I was a superhero,
I would wear a cape for sure,
a blue one, cobalt shade, filled with velvet
embroidery. Hand stitching
all around the fluted edges, details
carved in navy. There would be a bustier
too, sweetheart neckline I believe
they are called. Or maybe
a halter styled neckline held up
with baseball power-hitter wishes.
The boots, ah the boots, to the knee
dammit, without a wedge heel,
because how would your feet grip
the ladders when climbing
to the rain covered roof? Function.
Maybe kitten heels, meow? Army boots?
I would want bullet bracelets, as I like to see
the jewelry I wear. I would wear
no other than that. Statement pieces.
I might choose to fly, maybe. I would
rate the perfect cape higher. It's all about
priorities, you know.
As to evil plans, the best evil is
kindness, kill them with...
Every villain just wants something to
make them happy. So my evil
plan will trump theirs.
Stuff is important too. This is where
superheroes can shine, kick it
up a notch, a black belt notch.
With a utility belt please. A must.
It will have a Kleenex pouch,
and Advil too. Villains heads hurt
with the stress of being bad,
so that would just be a first kindness.
Rope and sanitizer for those dark
times they need reminding
of the kindness in which I deal.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
It Means Nothing
I dreamt of biting bones, sculpting fingers with teeth,
below the second joint. The sky whirled
fast in the background, white peony globes bent.
My mouth kept grinding away, full of unattached
distal splinters. Hunger for the mind's other
story fed the dream, like a baby's pabulum, dribbled
from the silver spoon. As I chewed,
the bones galvanized redemption,
a flower's arch.
Monday, April 06, 2015
The garage was cluttered in history. You
leaned against the gold Chevy,
your legs crossed like you owned
the place. The slushy ice in my
Mountain Dew and Triple Sec
dewed the plastic cup wet. Your
friend brought the joint,
stubbed it out halfway through,
and walked away.
The unlit night seeped in
between the kisses. Then inside
to dancing, arms tangled like intoxicated
rope. Dry ice painted the basement
floor white. When you dipped me,
into upside down clouds,
I thought it was forever.
Then you dropped me
and blamed the ice. I saw
stars and other colours
I couldn't blame on anyone.
Later, next to the car
in the driveway, legs uncrossed,
hands squared away in your pockets,
you said it wasn't working out.
I nodded and saw more
stars. The ride home
was as long as
the center yellow line. Later
the Triple Sec and Mountain Dew
gushed back yellow, not a spoken line,yellow like yours.
Sunday, April 05, 2015
Saturday, April 04, 2015
eye of the blackbird
every found fence
carries the carrion
monsters eye love
flowered pools quench
thirst hydrates desire
no mind in counted cedars
hours spent flying
inking the sky in black
every found fence
carries the carrion
monsters eye love
flowered pools quench
thirst hydrates desire
no mind in counted cedars
hours spent flying
inking the sky in black
Friday, April 03, 2015
I wonder what April would be
if it was in another season.
Would the rains fall so
nourishingly for a moment
and then rush headlong
into drought? Some say
the days getting longer only
encourages the dark. Would October
welcome this visitor who wants to steal
the thunder from gold? I see
a battle of the pastels
against the fakery of the demanding bronzes
struggling to be upbeat. Maybe,
just maybe, winter will have to step in
and tell them all to chill.
Summer, being the bright and sunny
middle child, will want to discuss
both sides of the issue. Meanwhile,
the earth knows they will just go
around and around
on the matter.
Thursday, April 02, 2015
The Metallic Smell of Morning
When they moved the misplaced old
farmhouse across town, to the suburbs,
the spectacle was televised. Eight years
later, past the rusted oaks and the four-laned
green, the diggers tore through
the rest of history.
The robins looked on in wonder
as the cars slowed envisioning
what they once knew. Diesel fumes
wafted past the stop lights,
and the Veteran's Home next door
paused for a moment between
medical rounds and Parcheesi.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
The clothesline stretches to a pinned
point while the blanket and diapers
trod softly against the deep wind.
Across the way, a toddling child creases
the grass, footprints
leaven the green, her cooing
swallows the dew.
Sometimes the mind's eye
shutters the window frame
like a camera, shudders
back the drapes, and kisses
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
My thoughts over the course of the afternoon and evening after reading this.
Initially upon reading what you did, I thought that you read the whole autopsy report, with no editing, or "massaging" just the words on the clinical page. Words that described the last moments of a young man's body, after a traumatic death. That would have been enough. I'd argue that would have been a strong performance poem. Taking news facts and broadcasting those the news reporters usually don't report. To use the clinical report to show the loss of the man, Michael Brown. A contrast between the man and his horrible death, an indictment perhaps, of the true loss.
Then I realized that is not what you did.
More facts came to light. You started with a massage, and ended with commentary on a penis. A dead black man's penis.
Given the racist stereotypes about black men's genitalia, the fact that you end your poem on the autopsy comment that those genitalia were "unremarkable", makes them remarkable. That you chose to end on that fact, not the actual ending of the report, brings the stereotype full circle, back into racist ground. For me that was where your theoretical intentions, to maybe show the true loss of the man, falls to the ground.
Massaging words. We shoehorn words, we smooth words, we revise and edit words, and maybe, though I wouldn't use that term myself in this context, massage words.
Words have meanings. I'd say we all agree on that. They bring to mind other words. Metaphor, allusion, revision and choice, all methods the writer employs to get their meanings across. Multiple meanings. For which the writer is responsible. Brown was unarmed then, and he is unarmed now. But this time, we know his name.
The Body of Michael Brown. Massaging as verb. Unremarkable. Then throw in a Latin quote to balance it all? I don't know. If there hadn't been editing, redacting, rearranging, maybe I could have trusted you.
My overriding thoughts were for Michael Brown's family, and their thoughts on the use of Michael Brown's Body for this endeavor. They've probably seen the report. Its horror is not as bad as their dead son or the suffering he endured. It's not as bad as the life they will have to live without their son. It's filled with words on a page. Words up for grab, apparently.
But what I'd like to propose, is that you use your words to write to them to explain your intent. How what you did in that poem would help them, or Michael Brown for that matter. It's not just a conference playground. Massage your words, that aren't from an autopsy report, to explain. Because words have meaning. The words you chose to read have meaning. And if the life of the man, in your poem, Michael Brown the poetical device, has any meaning, it is one that their family should be able to hear.
By adding yourself to that report, feeling that your choices made for a better poem, made literature, or a better performance, then you should use yourself to explain. Use yourself like you used him. Behold the man, but which man?
I've read my son's autopsy report. It's factual and clinical. But every scalpel slice described was through my son's beloved skin. Every organ removed, his heart especially, became fodder for that report. My infant son did not die in the way Michael Brown did, so I will never understand how his family feels, but I understand how I would feel if the clinical documentation of my son's body, so personal to me, was made public after his death, and was used by others.
It is personal. Part of writing poetry is to elicit a response from the reader. You achieved that. Now you will have to hear those responses. I hope your intentions for this poem equal the weight of the response to your selection of those words. Full circle.