Tuesday, December 30, 2008

27, Rue d' asshole

I just received this from a dear friend who thought it might be of interest, so here goes: "After coming across Joseph Hutchison's down-to-earth, downright right-on-the-target post, I knew even wild flying horses couldn't keep me away from my mission: I just had to find out where those dang-blasted ornery critters Mumford called 'harassed specialisms' were holed up. Well, I spent a whole day hoofing it, trying to get a whiff of their trail, not seeing hide nor hair of them and thinking maybe they were just 'figures' of my imagination, you know, like the number zero or whatnot. Towards the end of the day, I was still desperately running figures over in my mind when I saw the figure '27' tacked over a half-opened door of a run-down hovel and a smart-alecky-looking burro looking like he was expecting me. I should have figured as much." (Name withheld by request)


Soothsayer

Soothe me,
Tell me

When the clocks have stopped
Talking, what will the heart say?



Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Antonio Porchia's "Voices"
















"I KNOW WHAT I HAVE GIVEN YOU. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED"--Antonio Porchia

I once had two copies of this exquisite little book, translated by W.S. Merwin and published in 1969 by Big Table Publishing Company, Chicago; I gave one to a dear friend many years ago and kept the one signed
in October 1969 by someone whose name is still undecipherable, but whose message is certainly not (see title page).

One can easily see why Merwin was attracted to Porchia's only book from what he has to say of Voices in his translator's preface:

". . .the authority which the entries evoke, both in their matter and in their tone, is not that of tradition or antecedents, but that of a particular, individual experience. Whatever system may be glimpsed binding the whole together, [it] is not fashioned from any logic except that of one man's cast of existence. It is this which makes the work as a whole, and gives some of the separate sentences, elusive, but it is this which gives them their unmistakable pure immediacy--their quality of voice.

At the same time, the entries and the work as a whole assume and evoke the existence of an absolute, of the knowledge of it which is truth, and of the immense desirability of such knowledge. With no doctrinal allegiances, nor any attempt at dogmatic system, Porchia's utterances are obviously, in this sense, a spiritual, quite as much as a literary, testament. And the center to which they bear witness, as well as the matrix of their form, is the private ordeal and awe of individual existence, the reality that is glimpsed through time and circumstance, as a consequence of feeling and suffering. It is this ground of personal revelation and its logic, in the sentences, that marks their kinship, not with theology but with poetry."

As an influence upon my own development as a poet, this small repository of treasured utterances remains one of the most important, seminal works I have been privileged to discover; if you can get a copy, do so--but please don't part with it as did our bitter, unknown reader.

Monday, December 22, 2008

And Then There Were Six . . . . . .

. . . . .followers: Thanks to my lovely daughter Efiniki for joining Definitely Not Lemmings; here's what she looked like twenty-seven years ago, together with her mother and the poem I wrote for her when she was born.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sibyl

Knock-knock.

*

No milk run. Rather than deal just shut up
Open bay keep time merciful ticking
Like clockwork hand works mutilated miracles push button
Mushroom fills rising sun expanding mind cockpit exploding
Time runs out hands your hand a miracle, a complex
Map

*

Across centuries
Sphinx-riddled crossroads answer no
Second coming easy death wish all seeing
Eyes caught out gouged damned site swollen-
Footed fated one mother her son nailed
To bare mountain who sees shepherds tragic figure
His daughters before that incomprehensible
Reprehensible act clues leading flash back where double-crossed
Cretan maiden heads through whorish labyrinthian ritual
Runic sounding double-axe blades cut linear swaths through meadow in heat
Beehive buzzes words sacrifice sweet round Priapian bull-headed
Masquerading Pasiphae comes out clean as a whistle stops no clue
Why

*

Contented Aryan cows pack slaughterhouse boxcars with inferior beef
Attention turns to rack flesh burning where
Smoke signals wend stench retching as
Reflecting pious pilgrims genuflect before Pius
Remorse fills unredeemed coffers cardinal virtue offers
Sanctimonious wares a price war off expendable beaten but still viable track
Commodity

*

Pithy pristine vigor swells Newfoundland
Pollyanna belly-up swims in knocked-up naif
Bikini swills rotgut atomic afterbirth true men praise hosanna
Radio active record produces waves of delirium
Tremens and Heyerdahl?

*

Gutta-percha keeps vatic guts vindicated in Dead Sea scrolls most moist
Though papyrus sprouts another sold-out original
Version: A cast a way east
Of Eden, most bountiful producer
Of spread-legged constellations
Of dim-witted starlets, black holes, forlorn galaxies,
Swollen head of a born-again junkie's needle
Penetrating universal hymen, a singular
Still birth death moving

*

Vision.

(First published in Poetry Salzburg Review #6)

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Found Land

to the boy

pulling his small toy boat
across

the street the
seas aside

walk.


(from The Intricate Evasions of As)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute

Believe it or not,

I read somewhere that
Some land snails can

Lift ten times their weight
Up a vertical surface;

So if you were as strong as that
And sucked just as well

And weighed in at one hundred fifty pounds,
You could haul one thousand

Five hundred pounds of suckers
Straight up a wall.




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two Ways of Looking at the Gravity of the World

Pessimism:

Red-eyed,

The first thing you see
In the morning
Is a falling
Yellow
Leaf.

Optimism:

What--

An uplifting
Brisk wind brings it

To land on a flying green tarmac.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Man on a Donkey


Song

To hoof it with
The ass, always

In the saddle.


(From Sentences, 1976)

The ass in the saddle is still alive and kicking, though not as exuberantly as in this snapshot; his sidekick of a workhorse sloshing in mud bringing up the rear is sadly no longer with us (no great wonder); the poor, ladened quadruped has also hoofed it for greener pastures: Photo taken during olive harvesting, winter of 1963--when women were women and men beasts.

Standoff

Watching

The cat poised, watching
The tall, motionless grass,

Ready to pounce on to
Whatever it is, it waits

For it to make its move,
It must

Remain perfectly still

Until the right
Time comes,

If ever it will.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning


From the author's Preface to the Second Edition (1951): [This book] claims to present, not merely a theory of poetic diction, but a theory of poetry: not merely a theory of poetry, but a theory of knowledge.. . . . . . .Apart from pleasurable entertainment (which should never be forgotten), there are two important functions which poetry is there to perform. One of them is the one I have stressed throughout this book, namely the making of meaning, which gives life to language and makes true knowledge possible. And this it does inasmuch as it is the vehicle of imagination. The other, lying much nearer the surface of life, is to mirror, not necessarily by approving, the characteristic response of the age in which it is written. Now it may happen, and it has been happening increasingly since the eighteenth century, that these two functions conflict. They may even be diametrically opposed to one another. For there may be an age of which the characteristic response is to deny the validity of imagination. And if that happens, a true and sensitive poet will find himself in a dilemma. Though not as well-known as some other members of The Inklings, this book by Owen Barfield remains a classic; I've kept it within easy reach since the early 60s, when I bought it at one of the numerous second-hand bookstores next to the UW campus in Seattle--a great find, highly recommended and back in print (Wesleyan) after so many years of neglect.

Holocaust

As far as
The eye of the crow can see
The trees, the trees have been twisted,
Toasted, burnt to a crisp;

Birds no longer gather here
To eat red berries
For breakfast, or sing
A song out of Mother Goose,

Say of innocence, of sixpence,
A pocketful of rye,
Of four-and-twenty million
Blackbirds baked in a pie.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vamvakaris, Tsitsanis, Apollo


I was lucky enough to come across a number of 1960s postcards about five years ago when a small stationary-tobacco store in the main square of Meligalas was getting ready to be razed and the proprietor was literally giving away what was left of the goods. This is one of my favorites and shows the two giants of rembetika, Markos Vamvakaris and Vassilis Tsitsanis, playing alongside the god of music himself, Apollo--what a smashing trio!

Interior Landscape

On the way

To the overflowing
Landfill,

Against a background
Of empty sky-blue,

Wave after wave of mind-
Less white scraps

Of paper sea
Gulls sailing,

Headlong in.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Furtive

Out walking,

That familiar shaggy stray
Cur straight ahead

Shagging a bitch
On the sidewalk

Coming towards us--
How when passing by,

We all give one another
One last acknowledging

Sidelong glance.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Exegesis

I made you blind not to have you
Believe the light but to have you

Believe me.


(From The Intricate Evasions of As)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Autumn of a Lepidopterist

On edge

Of buckling, weathered
Red-tiled roof,

Orange-brown, yellow-green
Butterfly

Trembling,
Like a leaf.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hunchback Dwarf at the Market

Rides by
On her custom

Scaled-down
Bicycle,

Ignores our questioning
Glances

And pauses before
A stall

Full of fresh green leafy vegetables,
To show her farmer lady friend

What it is she has
We were wondering about

In that small
Brown flower pot--

A snail,

Small as a new-born baby's thumbnail
And a tiny tenderfoot tortoise--

Miniature grotesques

Along for the ride
Like the rest of us,

Looking curiously
Larger than life.


(First published in First Intensity #21, Fall 2006)




Saturday, December 6, 2008

After the Winnowing, 1945

Imagine only

A stone's throw away
From the marble threshing floor,

Hard stone-ground bread
Being broken into pieces,

Then hurled at sunken cheeks--
The urchins in the village are playing

War again.

For a Hubristic Grammarian

Sire of conjugation and definitive wit
Of a most demanding demeanor,

You made Philology your Holy Writ
And you were arrogant to the letter--

Made no deference [sic] to Death et al.
Who was the meaner speller.

Ex Lax Slanderer

Sling shit,
Sling shat,

Sling ass--
Whole shot.
Recently linked: My thanks to Scott Allen for becoming another definitely not lemmings. Welcome aboard, Scott!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Muse

Maudlin

Would-be murderer,
Bloody hack

Actor at heart,
Prompt her, kill her,

Liberate her,
Act.


(First published in First Intensity #21, Fall 2006)


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mea Culpa

You thought you heard her falter,
Where once her heart beat true--

It was not her intention,
Nor was it meant for you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Le Poet Mauvais

You are indeed a deviate--
Dig deep and dig well;

Avoid all aberrations,
Go straight to Hell.

Idyll

Coming upon

That cane-wielding halting
White-haired farmer's wife,

We cannot help
But hear

Insistent yelping and wonder where
Until we spot that bag

She's clutching, bursting
With newborn pups;

Grandma's out searching

For some out-of-the-way spot
Where she can put that cane

To better use, thrash the whole
Bothersome lot and just

Leave the trash there
To rot.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making Sense of Insomnia

Down

Narrow lane lined
With night flowers

Up to dawn.

Paean aka Παιάνας

--for Elizabeth

O

Wonderful the ray
Of sun

Upon the freezing body,
The drop of rain

Upon the burning leaf;
Pure, unmitigated

Glory of footprints passing
Over the turning Earth.


(The original English version first published in The London Magazine April-May 2007 and dedicated to a dear friend Elizabeth Boleman-Herring. Elizabeth also throws plenty of red hot chili peppers into her deliciously pertinent and highly readable fare available here--well worth biting into, believe me.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Παιάνας

Ω,

Υπέροχη η ακτίδα
Του ήλιου

Πάνω στο παγομένο σώμα,
Η στάλα της βροχής

Στο φύλλο που καίγεται΄
Ανόθευτη, απόλυτη

Δόξα των πελμάτων που περνάνε
Πάνω στην στρεφόμενη Γη.

(Greek version--translated about a year after the English one was published.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Payάnas (Paean)

Ο

Ipέrohee e ahtίda
Tou έeliou

Pάno sto pagomέno sόma,
E stάla tis vrohίs

Pάno sto feέllo pou kaίyete;
Anόtheftee, apόleetee

Dόxa ton pelmάton pou pernάne
Pάno sti strefόmeni Yee.

(Greek transliteration)



Lily

She had an unearthly air
Of innocence

Even the nuns were ashamed of.



(from The Intricate Evasions of As)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Last Scene

Between sunset
And moonset,

With the old
Moon in the arms

Of the new, it seems as old
As anything is,

And as young
As the new.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Big Bang

The gang was getting pretty itchy--
They unhitched

Those dazzling diamond-
Studded belts,

She hitched up
That oh so plain Jane skirt

Above her comely head,
Above that heavenly body

The stars

Exploded one by one,
Four studs dropped dead.



Carnage on Route 66

Flash back--

To finish off what's left,
Before the crow

Swoops in to cross
The double white line,

He must make double sure
Not to be hit from behind.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Το Σαλιγκάρι αkα The Snail

ars longa, vita brevis

Αργά μπροστά--

Ασάλευτος σχεδόν
Περίπατος

Στ' ασημένιο πέρασμα
Του φεγγαριού--

Δρόμος βουβός μυστήριος

Πως πάει μακριά αθόρυβα,
Μα κραυγαλέα

Ποτέ να κάνει πίσω.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Slowly forward--

An almost unmoving
Perambulation

Under the moon's silver
Crossing--

Road mute and mysterious

How noiselessly onward going
But clamorously

Never turning back.


(The original Greek version written three years ago, the English translated today.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Toe Saligάri (The Snail)


Arghά brostά--

Αsάleftos schedhόne
Perίpatos

St' asimέnio pέrasma
Tou fegarioύ--

Drόmos vouvόs mysterious

Pos pie makriά athόriva,
Ma kravghalέa

Potέ na kάnee pίso.

(Update: The English transliteration added after a gentle prodding from William Michaelian and I do thank him for the suggestion.)


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Poem for Joe Hutchison

who said so

naturally that sweet shiver of rightness
in response to a poem

I'd written about my wife,
then went on with

that keeps poets writing
and their readers reading--

this one's for him
who read what I wrote,

then put it so

sweet and right,
just like my wife.

Killer Instinct

Insane, the insane fly

Which, over the city
Is the bright light of shipwreck

--George Oppen,

"Of Being Numerous"


Something keeps
Telling me

I have to put an end
To this fly which is

Driving me mad--

Like some still unfinished business,
Perhaps a poem--

The mere thought
Of executing

It excites me
To no end.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Somewhat Prosaic Love Poem

My wife's forever after me
To tell her what I'm writing

Day-after-day; when I look at her
And tell her I have nothing to say,

I see the way she looks at me
Has everything, everything to do

With what I have to say.

(First published in NOON: Journal of the Short Poem, #5.)

Friday, November 21, 2008




Recently and not-so-recently received: Tulpen in India by Peter Goedhart in Dutch, English and Hindi editions: Apart from the author, I must be the only proud owner of all three signed versions though I have no way of being certain--but does it really matter? Of course not. What does matter is that more people are made aware of this beautiful little book. Which reminds me. . . . . . . .

In 1997 Eleni and I had been living
in our half-completed, two-story stone house for about a year; at that time she had a tiny sandwich shop in Meligalas's lower square. This had previously been the town's first and only gift shop, which she ran from 1987 to 1996 and which had managed to run in the black long enough for other shop owners to get wind of a good thing and start stocking their own stores with what they hoped would be equally "nifty" gifts. Why not? The more the presents, the merrier the present. It finally got so bad that at one point one woman who lived a block away from the shop started selling gifts out of her living room. It was at this point that we decided to do our store over into a combo sandwich shop-ouzeri. Eleni ran this culinary oasis by herself until 2003, and it quickly became a hang-out for people who loved good food. Since I had an extensive collection of authentic rembetika (Greek urban blues) songs and I also played at "playing" the tzoura, it soon attracted those few denizens of upper Messenias who were hooked on this kind of music. In no time at all, people who could play bouzouki, tzoura and baglama began dropping by the place and it soon became the only watering hole in the vicinity where you could eat great food, drink good homemade wine, and listen to live though harshly-played rembetika--that is until the police started receiving complaints about the loud music being played after hours and told us we had to stop disturbing the peace. We never found out who had lodged the complaints but Eleni and I suspected a taverna owner farther up the street who had no good food, no good wine, and no live music.

Late one summer night that year, Eleni and I were about to close up and go home when I saw a couple on heavily loaded bicycles hesitate in front of the shop--clearly tourists and clearly confused as to their whereabouts. They had mistakenly assumed there was a hotel in Meligalas (long since razed but still mentioned in some
hopelessly outdated guide books) and had stopped in the upper square to ask its location. "No, no hotel here but you can camp behind church in lower square--no problem!" No problem? Well, at that time the area behind the church was a Rom ghetto where the local gypsies had been squatting in deplorable conditions for the last twenty years, waiting for the central government to find them a piece of land where they could live decently. I told the cyclists so and asked them to park their bicycles and have something to drink on us. After they had finished, Eleni suggested we invite them to stay the night at our house; they slept in their sleeping bags on the bare, concrete floor of our unfinished second-storey bedroom and had breakfast with us before continuing on their way to Ancient Messene. This chance meeting more than ten years ago with Peter Goedhart and Ans Brouwer of Wageningen, Holland morphed into a lasting friendship marked with visits to our house whenever they come to Greece. It was during one of these visits that Peter told me the organization he worked for--ICCO--was planning to publish a book of his short stories based on his field experiences in Nepal, India and Pakistan. The Dutch version came out in 2003, and when Peter and Ans visited us again, I suggested Peter try persuading ICCO to publish an English version of Tulpen in India--after all, how many people have access to Dutch and how many to English? ICCO was receptive to the proposal and the English version came out in 2005; the Hindi was published in 2008 by an independent Indian publisher who came across the English version and thought it would be a wonderful book for those Hindus who do not know English. So there you have it--Tulpen in India in Dutch, English, Hindi--and as an introduction, here is something taken from the blurb on the back cover of the English version: In twenty-four vignettes, Peter Goedhart has recorded his penetrating observations. He paints a surprising yet recognizable picture of people who are trying to improve their lives. Or hang onto their privileged position. And what we Westerners are doing there. Required reading for those who'd like to find out, written in a sparse prose punctuated by a wry, inimitable sense of humor by someone who definitely knows what he's talking about.

Voyeurism in Vertebrates

To get it off,

Humans watch their goons
Murder, pillage, rape--

Baboons, monkeys, apes
Gape at their masters,

And masturbate.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NOTE: My thanks to Joseph Hutchison for following my blog. Joseph has one of the most interesting, down-to-earth blogs dedicated to poetry that I've come across and I'm honored he's decided to be another definitely not lemmings.

Graveyard Shift Straw Boss, RJ Reynolds

Now you get this
and you get it good

you nicotine pocked hack
reared asinine son

of a dung-reeking hump-
back Camel sucker,

that was the last
straw--

now, drag that
sorry butt-

smoking carcass
to the meat wagon--

pack it in
, Slim.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cracks in the Sidewalk: Delmore Schwartz, American Poet (1913-1966)

So rich

a mainstream his
precocious

school of thought:

returns

rapidly diminishing
recesses skip-

ping the side-
walk

where the fault-
line breaks

a mind mid-
stride

. . . .

by the road to the contagious hospital
and elsewere?

the pure products of America
go crazy--

Doc Williams spelled it out, Delmore,
but you could not

. . . .

be faultless be
wary daddy suspicious

fissures crack
the poor

mind open daily
don't let them

take in that child-
like heart

to night.

(
First published in Poetry Salzburg Review #3
, Autumn 2002)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lesson in Piety


Observe then,
If you will

My child,

How when
Drinking water,

Even the lowly
Chicken will

Lift up its face
To face

God.

Inscrutable


Memory lives the moment

That moment's left it.



(from The Intricate Evasions of As)

Monday, November 17, 2008



Recently received: I first became aware of William Michaelian when I replied to a post he had sent to Ron Silliman's blog about a month- and-a-half ago (thanks Ron for being the unwitting go-between); in the meantime, we've exchanged each other's books and maintained a sporadic email correspondence. For those unacquainted with Michaelian's poetry, I know that after reading Winter Poems and Another Song I Know, winter--and the short poem--will no longer be just another song you know.

Inheritance

Every winter,
we pruned
the same
long
rows
of
vines.

Now we're older,
some of us have died.

I see the vineyard in my mind:
the brush is tangled, leafless, waiting.

Winter Poems

It helps to know
that I can burn them
to keep warm.


Both books available for mind stoking at Cosmopsis Books.

Dedication


Here's to that

spunky little green stink
bug blinded

by the treacherous

light and dropped
onto my key-

board with me straining
after one more

sweet-smelling charming moving death-
less line--O dear life-

less little bugger, thanks
for taking the time, for trying

to stop me smack in time,
sorry for this too,

too precious rhyme.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Featherweight


for
aging

spar

row
in

the
sparse

spar
row

grass,
spar

ring
in

the
wind,

who's
going

to
win?

Caveat Emptor, Or The Law of Diminishing Returns


Dear poet toiling, trying
To win your daily bread--

See Wit rearing its precious head
Investing you with promises, i.e.

Striking it rich with witticisms
Longing to be read?

By the powers invested in me
By Tom, Dick and Harry, Ltd.,

I hereby decree this writ to be read:
To all promising poets,

Before you declare bankruptcy,
Strike it dead.

Thursday, November 13, 2008



Noted: William Michaelian's most recent post mentioning a musty-smelling little book of verse he picked up from an equally musty-smelling little used book store sent me scurrying to my stacks of equally musty-smelling books to dig out one of my forgotten favorites: The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse, edited by D.B.Wyndham Lewis (no relation to the BLAST Lewis) and Charles Lee--a sheer delight, let me tell you, as well as an edifying experience--seeing what happens to poets whenever they get the urge to fly high in the sky on the ass-end of an inflated Pegusus. Highly recommended if you can find it--last published in 1963.


Light of My Life

--for Eleni

I know

White will be the color
Of my true love's hair,

For the light of a thousand-and-one
Suns shall put it there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vigilance

Vigilance is in sighting
The lance

Being thrust into air,
Watching it, following

Its arc

Ever watchful of gravity
Inscribing your signature

Indelibly there.


(from The Intricate Evasions of As)

Bestiality in the Badlands, Circa 1958

(Scripps)

Round Rushmore,
Stark weather,

While way back west
In Tinseltown,

Another heart
Crushed

Bunny's bleeding, but
Claude

Hopper's hitch--

Cock's not wholly
Above

Suspicion.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Compost Heap

Mine's over there,
Tucked a-

Way out of sight
Down in the corner,

You have to get real close
To see these worms

Never sleep.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Clarity, or Knife in the Water

Though we do not see the mind
Carving, the knife in question

Appears clearly inscribed
In the water's reflection.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Look Homeward, Angel

Guardian--

You thought I was looking
To call out to Him,

But how when
So many are still

Lost in a haystack
On the head of a pin?

Incompatibility, Or Two Separate Worlds

Sappho supplicant, hers was religiously highbrow,
Nuns versed in poetry, divinely delicate Greeks.

His? One where offal-eating Huns ran roughshod,
Licking bare-ass pussy whipped artistic geeks.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Recently received: My contributor's copy of the latest Poetry Salzburg Review arrived today: The best issue to date of a magazine that is rapidly evolving into one of the best English language poetry magazines in Europe.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

A bed of coals
Stoked for winter--

A dying fireplace,
A blackened hearth.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Harbinger

It would be good to hear
The news that keeps us

Enthralled, riveted here--
It would be good to hear

The news that friends
Once old and dear,

Are waiting for that message
For them to reappear

Beneath the weeping
Of the willows

Banking on the river,
It would be good to hear

The nightingale's approach
Before we disappear.

NOTE: Thanks again to William Michaelian for his most recent thoughtful and sensitive words.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pathetic Fallacy

Under heavens' sheltering
Canopy,

Cruel wind thrashing
Innocent palm tree--

All God's hands
Stand down,

Naturally.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mirage Rising out of Death Valley, California

A translucent shallow blue
Lake, a high white wall

Of mountains ringing it,
Hard driving rain

Making cool looking red
Beads of sweat

Fringing the foreheads
Of pale faces

Up to their necks in it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Logic Behind Using Rhetoric When Writing Poetry


"The [Poetry] archive....aims to insure current leading
English-speaking poets are recorded reading
their work for future generations."
--BBC News, November 30, 2006

Rave is
To rant

As

Cant is
To drivel

Or is it

Rant is
To rave

As

Drivel is
To cant.

Maybe it is

Rant is
To rave

As

Cant is
To drivel.

Or perhaps

Rave is
To rant

As

Drivel is
To cant.

Can't drivel?
Can't rant?

What the hell,

Just go through
The motions--

Some critic's bound
To save your ars.



Biodegradable Detergents, or The End of The Age of Innocence


Take a powder?

Let me tell you, slugger--
When these gents

Go on and on about how
They wanna clean our little corner

Of the planet of filth and go on
To say they're clean themselves,

You really wanna
Throw in the towel?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Imaginary Narrow Escape, 1950













i.m.
Christos (Chris) Zambaras, 1938-2000


In this picture,


You can see where
The battered front

Wheel of my trusty tri-
Cycle looks like

A gun-shot barrel rim,
Having just banged

Off a lamppost before homing in
On my older brother's sarcastic grin--

You should have seen
The look on his face

When it came
Within inches of him.

(From the unpublished ms. The Intricate Evasions of As.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dark Bedtime Story

Them flashing white
Bones down

In the dark stream bed,
They done

Bed down for the night--
Y'all don't fright now--

Sweet dreams,
Good night.

In God We Trust, or Fiefdom in America

The times were vile,
the villagers spent,

torn to pieces
by The Good Lord's rent.

Camouflage

Wallowing deep

Down in the excess
Of its own

Dark juice, the octopus is clearly
Rejoicing; surely such

Indulgence is no great sin, now
That imminent danger's over.

.

Still, as it waits motionless
On the bottom of the ocean,

Turning purple under the sand,
There's a lesson to be learnt here,

Fisherman, catch it if you can.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Million Dollar Baby

No more whistling Dixie,
Trixie, the buck stops here--

No more tinsel,
No more razzmatazz,
No more Wall Street
Whizz-kids, no more jazz--

When Eastwood kicks the bucket,
No escape from Alcatraz.

Slaking Our Thirst for Fame

--for John Levy

For the sake of disambiguation,

However we
Lick the flames

Of the fire
Of our vanity,

Red Bull remains
The name of the game.

Rash Crash Diet

Poor plump dead cat-mangled
Mouse down in my orchard, you

Sure fell hard for sweet fallen apples--
Should have been mousse instead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


RECENTLY RECEIVED: Ron Silliman and yours truly both received a copy of John Levy's remarkable new book of poetry, Oblivion, Tyrants, Crumbs just out from First Intensity Books. John's been a friend for over thirty-five years (!) and has been writing finely-honed poetry even longer. He also wrote a book about the two years he spent in Meligalas with his fiancee (now wife, mother of two, and a painter) Leslie Buchanan, titled We Don't Kill Snakes Where We Come From: Two Years in a Greek Village published by Querencia Books in 1994. He's also our son's godfather, so I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse--buy da books!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mind Field in America

Clearly, a song
Of dead

Reckoning.

*

Mind you

These dudes were done for
Before they knew what hit them.

*

Like that sheen under

Mining the surface
Of superficial things?

*

Better let duds determine
What land minds mean

I mean

*

They figure

No prosthetic devices
To carry

Their numbers over.

*

In addition to body
And fender

Men, we see ambulances dance,
Romance languages languish

In agony, white Anglo-Saxon
Whores ply spare

Automotive body parts.

Genetically Modified Root Cellar

Ma, Pa,
You ain't been listening--

This is what's in
Store for us

And plenty darn more
Where that jolly

Ho, ho, ho's
Coming from

I done told you before--
That
humungous green

Horny transmogrified hermaphrodite
Bean sprout's sprouting corn balls again,

Stalking our cellar floor!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Close to Home

The falling palm-
Like leaves

Of the wild
Fig tree

Coming to rest
Near the abandoned

Shed

In which sparrows
Are flittering

To find shelter
For winter,

Turn slowly
Yellow-gold

As the autumn
Sun that dips

Lower each day
Over the earth

Under the eaves
That decline

Enough to admit them.


(First published in Poetry Salzburg Review #11, Spring 2007.)


Note: Speaking of fig trees,
William Michaelian has a gem of a poem (Time Piece) ticking away at his blog.




Friday, October 17, 2008

Regimen against Ennui

I know this sounds trite but

Before you call it just
Another day,

Leave two galvanized
Pails full of water

Under the stars,
Then hit the hay.

*

Get up

At the crack of dawn,
Go straightaway out

And

As you watch the stars
Being washed away,

Empty the pails in turn over
Your still numb stark-naked body.

You are now clearly
And fully ready

To greet a brand-new day.




Thanks to William Michaelian for linking to my blog, for his never-failing daily posts which help to make my day, and for his helping me with html tags.

Aurally

Never--

Hardly had he said it
When the wind said it

Again.


(First published in Poetry Salzburg Review #11,Spring 2007

Variations on a Theme by Williams

"There are lots of things we have to go and find out.
We have to go and find out, what red, what wheel
and barrow are, at some level." -- Paul Muldoon

Which is why

so much depends
upon

the glazed over rimed
blue

eyes of the stricken
farmer

beside the dazed white
chickens,

the frozen up-
ended

wheel of the red
barrow, the fouled

chickenshit mind ploughing
in the lower forty

of ground zero.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Form Is Nothing More Than an Extension of Content


Of the mind,

Of the spineless forms
That wend their way through

The spiny needles
Of the mind.

.

Of the pine,

And the mindless
Wind that penetrates

The spine.


Crepuscular

It sounds like that
Repulsive, creepy-crawly

Feeling's overtaken you again--
A caterpillar's treading, flexing

Its luminous pulsating muscles
On the curve of your wrist--

Your pulse is being taken
By twilight again.


(First published in Poetry Salzburg Review #11, Spring 2007)



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Last Post-Avant Lemming

This one's going
To be impossible
To follow--

Avanti!

Six Words in Search of Consummation

seed pods bur sting
in cemeteries




(First published in The Southeastern Review: A Quarterly Journal of the Humanities in the Southeastern Mediterranean, V.1, N.1, 1990.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Unredeemed

And yea, it shall come to pass,
And ye shall see them bereft

Wavering

Over the abyss of legal tender,
And the unredeemable

Waiting minions
Waving millions

Left in the wake
Of their waiting,

Empty hands.






Lodestar

losing over
bearing light

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Depression in Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin

Remember our pale, blue
picket fence, Dad?

We painted it,
as good as new.

You stepped on the gas
instead of braking,

shot the Chevy thru.


(First published in
Poetry Salzburg Review No. 2, Winter 2001/02)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Carpe Diem

1.

You know they say

Time is of the essence, precious,
Get it while you can

Before you waste away.

2.

Never knowing

What else to say,
They say it time

And time again, till
They grind it into dirt,

And throw the precious
Waste away.



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jim Crack Crow Bar

Now

Let's me and you
Just talk, boy--

All this is is a heavy
Line of black

Iron forged into a wedge
At one end

Fitted with a crow-
Like claw that's proved

Well worth its mettle,
Darn useful for prying

And pulling out stubborn
Nails, too.


Garbage Cant Dance

GARBAGEGARBAGEGAR
garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant

garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant

garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant

garbagecantgarbagecant
garbagecantgarbagecant
CANTCANCANTCANCANT


Monday, October 6, 2008













Aurora
im. Robert Lax (1915-2000)

mystical

morning
donning

mystical
light,

mystical

ritual
unfolding

calling

mystic
mythical

flight.




Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Fey Man in the Moon

With the cow mooing hey
Diddle-diddle,

He cradled his face to see the cat
Moon the fiddle,

While his dish ran away
With the spoon.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Efiniki and Eleni, Summer 1981










Efiniki
b. 3-27-81

her

breath's
in-

escapable
in

credible
evidence


(First published in The Southeastern Review: A Quarterly Journal of the Humanities in the Southeastern Mediterranean, V. 1, No. 2, 1990)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

V as in Vestiges

Not that

The world's full
Of mystery,

But that its presence is
Inexplicable

Victory.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Desperado

One left the beleaguered fort
In search of reinforcements;

One lived to tell the tale

Of his departure,
No one believed him.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vignettes

American Beauty

The knife was found
Planted in the heart

Of the rose bed.

.

gay blade

In the heart
Of the heart of the country,

Whoever sings

The body electric
Is in for a shock.

.

fodder

From the back of the class,
Sent to the front

By his drill instructor--
As in animal

Prodder.

.

not so unlikely bedtime story

All the world over, rosy-cheeked
Kids like you

Are being put to sleep;
In the abattoir,

Pallid vegetarian butchers
Count sheep.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Circe

Incredible

As it sounds,
You do not think

You hear whatever
Enters the sow's ear.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Midnight Matinee

In the heat of the night,
One cold bloodcurdling scream--

When the floodlights come on,
Melted cherry ice cream.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Notation For One Who Does Not Like Art

on
one

of
the
wires

between
the
light

poles,
two

ring-
doves

cooing,
cuing

up
one
note
down

to
the
next

and

so
on
till
they
touch

down
on
all
five,

just
like
that.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pentameter Written on the Wind

Gone before he said it went on and on.

If you look closely, you can see my eyes are shut in this photo, but they most certainly weren't when I first set them on Eleni!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Descent of Winter

You can smell it
In the air--

Blue's the color left
When the wind leaves

The trees bare.