Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stashing some poems on the internetz!

         Awful Arthur’s Oyster House

A mermaid burnished with a shellac from Akron,
juts out of cheap pine paneling—the restaurant’s
trophy for people unlocked from the Midwest,
their hands soaked in lemon pulp and fat.

Few notice her hanging on the wooden wall—
a man cutting steak slips the knife delicately
into his thumb and his potato turns into a pink purse.

The bone exposed is translucent, otherworldly.
Sunburned children ooh and ask to see his hand,
his wound.  He leaves hurriedly, napkin-wrapped fingers,
head above clouds of kid chatter, stilted romantic desserts.

Servers offer frothy drinks towered with cherries,
and lean in the kitchen—secret cups of whiskey
and filthy mouths undercut couples trying
to bring it somewhere new, where everything
is sifted and slanted to align with the sun.

When everyone leaves, the horizon—stagnant
sky map—slowly bends orange, red, beryl.
Local kids blend sweat and gears, they race cars
at midnight, leave oil slicks glittering with sand and glass.

The sea leaves its trail, but its waves never return.
It migrates miles in tires on grooved asphalt,
an impotent messenger: nearby the ocean is dying.

            Ode to Lemons
Little elliptical suns,
stacked across
the grocer’s shelves,
at noon or dawn,
the lemons
eyes forever winking

Medicinal welterweight,
bright yellow peels
steeped and infused;
given to those
who fight for:
blood, beauty, love,
brimming from within
tinted tincture vials.

swallow lemon seeds
and think a whole tree—
white petals waiting
to push
pulp and seed
into a tight ball—
will grow  inside them;
small bellies expanding
with wingless

            After Joan Miro’s Painting
                        The Lark’s Wing, Encircled with Golden Blue, Rejoins the Heart of                                                 the Poppy Sleeping on a Diamond-Studded Meadow

Thick tangle of green moss
debased with the face of a poppy,
do you lament your segregation?
Bisected away from the sun,
cinctured by a slash of black—
can you hear those Mediterranean voices,
that near-silence of Catalan, whose x’s
move like wind over l’mari,
on so many red-tinged lips?
Beneath you, the earth’s star, or worse—
an advancing alien sea—
blinds a cerulean swell harboring
the eye pit. The pupil long dead,
no longer widens with the image
it recalls—Roman marches in Barcino;
strong chants trailing the sea:
ad manes fratrum, to our brother’s
spirits, let us live, let us die.

            Boston, November 2006           

We find a broken pumpkin, still immaculate
pulp and pith shine delicious—
days until decay snakes a downy path.

Seeds and strings web through our fingers,
fevered to crush and smash such bright flesh
before air and mites and street shit cause its collapse.

Maybe the fight, or a moonless night sky tide
compels this flush, this departure from censure—
our hands and arms lush with slick, glinting guts.

            Tips for Bear Proofing Your Home

Old Westerns and hotel sheets make the best defense.
Hang em High projected onto garage doors or siding—
guests wrapped like little goblins in high thread counts,
sipping gimlets; bears recoil from such phantasmal excesses. 

Bears eat clouds and clover patches, but will settle for pasta.
Store food in anything non-cumulous and wait.
If your kitchen is untouched today, you must protect it again;
wear a sheet shroud and let True Grit  ring through the nightwatch.

Loud crashes encourage bears, brothers to Bacchus that they are,
but whispers attract them even more. Their hearing is poor
and they worry about being made fun of. Their growl and roar
grew as delicate evolutions to protect a winter’s worth of feeling.

Naturally curious, bears masquerade as lewd, furry garbage men;
but they wander, poets in the night, looking for material
and star-sanctioned connections. Paint Your Wagon plays
tonight so they will slip past your house, unnoticed and alone.


Arranged arrows
slung too static
in their quiver—
the nock never knows
what comes next
perpetual pause
plucks it to place.

Arrowhead points blast
first, splintering pine
or spurring skulls—
the fletching feather’s
waver should wisp back,
but even if it does,
the nock must wait.

Like the slinky’s last coil
a slight second of stillness—

love doesn’t hear that love is bled


the splatter of spill
and then, the lightheaded
lift of death.

The pink slip
or a slip left in your bed
happen just after
they were never expected.

It will take 8 minutes
and 20 seconds

to see the sun has gone

to some, 8 minutes
and 20 seconds never
sounded so good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Football Uniforms Should Be Called Costumes and Come with Mini Gem-Encrusted Capes

If that we could only incorporate the bejeweled allure of figure skating with the testosterone-fueled grunt-run-and-score primitivism of American (that is United States-ian) Football, this Sunday, I, for one, would be an even happier viewer! Alack. A lack indeed of sparkle, but not entirely the ethereal grace that is most associated with skating and gymnastics. 

There is grit, grime, force, bravado, and almost embarrassing shows of machismo; however, unlike some of my friends (male and female alike) I find it thrilling to see a hail-Mary pass completed successfully or a complicated defensive screen, much of this is thanks to the near-holy reverence football is held in within my family--I remember nary a fall or winter Sunday where it could not be heard/seen somewhere in the apartments I grew up in. I did not inherit a fanaticism nor a total disdain, and that is a balance I appreciate in myself.

With this said, Andy knows all too well that this can only hold my attention for so long--I become fidgety and then my eyes start sweeping the room for what can keep me quietly absorbed until the next must-see playback. Since I do not believe the NFL has the time to take my advice on costumage yet, and I will not be able to be mesmerized with aerodynamic capes glimmering with silver or diamond-studded appliques I so desire, I hereby give my advice on keeping oneself  happy and stimulated whilst the Superbowl reigns. 

1. Snacks! Making them, eating them, this has become a favorite aspect of football for me. I love appetizers of any kind, but especially on Superbowl Sunday, you can indulge and indulge on all the fried, processed and guilt-inducing wings, chips, pizza rolls, dips, etc that any other day may provoke scoffing/the passing of negative judgements by your (graduate school) friends. (Well, I eat these things more often than SBS, so, I do not have guilt, but others may! For you, be free to eat greasy, oh football friend in fried foods!) Getting creative with snacks is great too! Upper echelon it up with some Gruyere in that baked mac n cheese, or make your salsa by hand with fresh vegetables. And on and on...

2. This should go without saying, but BEER! Plus cocktails. I can spend more time with football if I am taking my time savoring a delicious beer. Andy favors the Superbowl's sponsor on the actual day, COORS, but I find this makes me quicker to zone out. So, I will be sipping on one or all of the following: Magic Hat #9, Sam Adam's Winter Ale, Blue Moon's Rising Moon, Tremont Ale, Anchor Steam and La Chouffe (if I can find that sneaky little gnome). Cocktails are also great for this category! I prefer Gin and Tonic, but a good Margarita feels like the proper level of festivity.

3. COLORING BOOKS! This may seem insulting/childish to some, but this is a delightful activity wherein I can make my garment preferences come to life. Ariel no longer has a bra and fin, no! She is in a Cardinal's Silk Jersey, with a sequined cape (shoulder pads optional), and designer leggins that feature lavish faux fur tassels which would look sharp should she break through the mass of players and score a touchdown, the wind billowing  naturally through the fringe.  My friend Elise and I also had a coloring contest to make the sluttiest princess pictures last year. Hers won with Paris Hilton Extensions. It's the details that escape me sometimes.

4. PUPPY BOWL on Animal Planet! I have a hard time growing tired of watching this. It is so dramatic, adorable, furry, and funny! Plus, there is a Kitty Half-time Show and Mia (and I) loves this immensely. 

5. TEXTING! I, definitely after a beer or two, can find it very engrossing to text snarky comments to friends/loved ones about the game or to swoon over an especially handsome puppy from the puppy bowl (ie, anything that is a big-bear-shaped dog)... There is the creative aspect (thinking of funny things to say) and then the joy of anticipated response (will they, too, love the same puppy? Did you just accidentally rag on the team their deceased great uncle loved?! Yikes! That was the beer talking!So many possible responses).

So, this usually gets me through, I mean I do check in with the game occasionally and snacking/beer is not to be underestimated. 

This year, however, I find myself at a bit of an impasse/stand off. This is the first year of my graduate career, my second semester to be precise, and while last semester, I was able to get by not reading every single day, this term's courses are a doozy. I am enrolled in a course on the Poetic Sequence and there are FOUR (please don't count aloud) of us and it is a four-hour discussion course. With writings by the likes of Whitman, Dickenson, Eliot, Bhatt, Gluck, and on and on. Many of them I have a familiarity with, but I am in the course to correct my familiarity with them (ie, unlearn what high school taught me), and was expecting at least 9 people to join me in the occasional comment (as the enrollment stands online!!). 

Now, it feels as though 1/4 of the class's meeting will be on my shoulders and this is a commitment I was not prepared for. I am excited to overwrite my understanding of some of these more traditional poets with the subject matter being one that asks us to think of their writings as a new poetic emergence--one that is both narrative, lyrical and disruptive to the standards of each. So I hope my excitement can get me carefully through the fifty-two sections of "Song of Myself" in addition to many many fascicles of Dickenson and the chapter in The Modern Poetic Sequence that is due the very day following SBS

It is maybe very true that if there was just a bit more glamour and glitz with the spectacle that is the Superbowl, I would not be very worried about doing my work.  I would sit without thought of reading, my irises dancing, as the light and sun glinted off the many-hued rhinestones at work, shimmying and floating their way down the field upon the broad backs of some of the biggest men in this country. 

Sadly, I suppose I will just have to sneak away occasionally to the solemn sanctity of the backroom while Andy and Jeremy and Rachel (our friends/guests for SBS) hoot, holler, dance, and drink without (probably much) care. 

Or, at least I will read in the morning. After all, this is once a year and if I start taking myself so seriously that I can't even procrastinate properly, well, that will be a damn shame for the future of my personal beliefs and aesthetics.

With (ALL) that, I say, Happy Superbowl Week and in the name of it's-what-I-do-daily, here is a great poem to feast your eyes upon. You know what they say, a poem a day...something something... I may try to post a poem or poet I enjoy each time...You may hate them (both a fact and a permission)...Without further ado:


You know how a word comes
To you like a face that's familiar
But without a name to which you can
Attach--not a complete stranger,
But not a friend either?

You stare into the features of this word,
Hoping the letters will find you--
You know they will find you;
You repeat the word to yourself
As if tasting it will help.

Mother looks at the word
On the index card--
Not at me, but the word--
Nodding her head as if my repeating it
Were an answer; she hangs on to my voice,

Trying to reassure me, but her eyes
Are not convinced. This makes me nervous.
I begin writing the word in the sweat
Of my left palm with my right index finger.
I repeat the word, again, louder,

As if I have a receipt for it in my pocket:
And the question of origin comes to mind.
So I ask: What's the origin?
She reads: formed from Latin, iridis
rainbow, 1796

What's the definition? 
You don't know this one? She asks.
The judges aren't going to ask that;
They're going to give me the definition, Ma.
Sigh. She reads from the dictionary:

iridescent: adj. 1. Producing a display of lustrous rainbow like colors. 2. brilliant, lustrous, or colorful in effect or appearance,

I feel sorry for those of you
Who don't know moments like this:
My palms dry. We watch ten letters
Lift off the page and spill
From my mouth like a magician pulls

A prism of scarves from his ear:
i-r-i-d-e-s-c-e-n-t. I watch the light catch
The brown of her eyes. I ask if I'm right.
Is that right? I say, I wasn't sure
If it had two Rs or just one.

She pauses for a second, still
Looking down at the word.
Yeah, baby, each word just like that.
I nod my head. She's still looking down
As if afraid for herself.

I realize nothing I spell sounds true.
Every round will be like the first time.
The light has run from her eyes.
She's quiet again.
Next word, I say.

--From A. Van Jordan's Macnolia: a beautiful poetic sequence-length book that re-imagines the experiences of MacNolia Cox, the first black young woman to reach the final round of the national spelling bee competition in 1936. She would have won but for the fact that the judges changed her final word to a word not on the official list, likely because of her color and the overwhelming racist sentiment of the time. MacNolia left the world of academia, married, and became a housekeeper. Van Jordan does wonders with his collection--at once memorializing a trail blazing young woman and intricately exploring the impact of this competition on her life, before and after the Bee.