Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hard As Rock Provenance

Where you can
Still stand where
You come from,
No matter where
Or how

Hard that is. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Heights of Fancy

We know

The poet’s voice has reached
Its pinnacle when

We can hear a pin
Drop here down below.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Poetry Only As Old As You Feel

—for Joe Hutchison

Honestly, I’m an old man
But I’m not really
That old.

I was just

Feeling my age when
These lines came to me,
Forever young.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Faced with Below the Belt Criticism, the Besmirched Poet Retaliates

You cocky fly you—

My immaculate sheets
Of verse—I swear

Before my hour’s through,
Your shit shall be maculating

The fan too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Traces (7)

Blockhead Existentialism

The tree was always there when
You needed it

Until you became a stump.



The poem
Wants nothing

From you
But to meet it

On its own



Waiting for a Bite

Whenever I throw out a line,
I always hope

Something will be left when
The poem decides

To reel me in.


Concentration Means Resolution

Let the first thing
That enters your mind

Stay there.


True North

So easy to be misled
By aimless wandering,

But then again, no one
Ever found himself by

Using a compass.

NB: A note on Traces: Time to leave, hopefully not without having left a trace.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Traces (6)

Share and Share Alike

You say it’s ours

For the keeping, I say since when
And then why

Are you going to throw it my way?


As Long As It Lasts

So how much

Are you willing to wager
It won’t go away?

I bet you don’t even know
The time of day.


Under the Volcano

See, I told you
You would not

Enjoy the view.



Breathless, waiting dumbly
To be struck

Dead in the head.


Aporia of the Man with the Closed Mind

I know

The good book says God is
Both A and Ω and thus

Readily accessible

To anyone at any point
In their life but why

Is there no table of contents?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Traces (5)

Pun, as in Donne

Intensity of vision?

The few who have it
Are under no illusion—
They see right

Through it.


Stage Directions

Place setting

Sun left
Enter full

Moon right
No dialogue



Square Thinking

We have to examine
The problem

From all sides, even if
It’s a circle.



Magnifying small type—

Gross human character.



There should be a candle

Burning at both ends.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Traces (4)


Let the first thing
That enters your mind

Stay there.



In the web of sacrifice
For your own good

There is only one thing
You can do

To escape,



Someone has placed
A leaf on the lip

Of this weathered
Cuplike stone

Fill your vessel.


Generation Gap

Hey, you larvae already

Eating holes in the leaves
Of my eggplant

As if there were
No tomorrow, weren’t you

Born only yesterday?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Traces (3)


The last time
You looked back,

There was nobody
Following you—

Turn back.



If I had a voice
Worth keeping,
I’d give it

All I have.



Waking but not yet
Fully, duly emptying

The last dull traces.


To the Reader

These scribblings

Mock me.


Take Two

Director’s chair’s aslant
On two legs against a wall—

The scene calls
For suspense.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Traces (2)



still my heart remains

on fire.



looking out

across deep water—

seeing, seeing.


Self-Incriminating Reflection

I find myself out

Watching how

Others look at me.



Leaves a trace

So much as that

Something you dare not face.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Traces (1)


your shadow not

of itself, a burning

display of incrimination.


Life Lines

along the line

you draw, another

longer one reigns



Sense of Solitude

you want to impart,

dispense with it

like the wind

parting pines.


If it is

all the same

to you, I’ll take

all you have

and then some, too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Poetry Workshop 101: How to Write a (Politically) Correct Poem

OK, class—
Put in

The right word

In the right place

At the right time

I think
That’s just


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lost in the Forest of Signs

I know wood is,
As numberless millions say,
Just another word,

But what

I just can’t see for the trees is
Where in the world 
Would we stand without it?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Sleight-Of-Hand Man

It doesn’t make sense—

We had almost no light left,
So this guy runs out and flies

Back into twilight before
We knew he had left.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Keeping the Rednecks on the Edge of Their Seats

We’ll be back with the latest breaking
Commercials after this short break

For the news, so you-all better
Be here when we get back,

D’ya hear?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Phil Levine (PLOTUS) and Madrona's Invitational Issue

While reading Joe Hutchison's recent
post about Phil Levine, I was reminded that the new Poet Laureate of the US was among the poets who generously agreed to send us something for Madrona's 1972 invitational issue. Other poets included w.j. higginson, Tomas Tranströmer translated by Robery Bly, William Stafford, Richard Hugo, James Merrill, Alan Dugan, Eve Triem, David Ignatow, David Wagoner, William Matchett, Beth Bentley, James Humphrey, Donald Finkel, Paul Zimmer and David Young, plus contributions from all three of the magazine’s editors.

Levine not only sent us the artfully handwritten poem above but also included a photograph of the woman he said he was in love with at that time. I assume Levine remembers the woman but wouldn’t it be nice to think he also remembers the magazine and the poem accompanying her picture?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bird in the Bush

You can hedge
All you want

But I bet that bald
Eagle won’t be there when

You put your money
Where your beak was.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Vazambam Exclusive: Incredibly Virtuoso Hellenic Rat Hurdles Another Language Barrier!

Believe it or not, this linguistically gifted, high-achiever of a mighty big mouse jumped from LOWER level to HIGHER—an ordeal usually requiring anywhere from 180 to 360 classroom teaching hours—after only 60 hours of intensive language instruction at one of the many RAT RACE SCHOOLS OF ENGLISH that have overrun the private language school sector in Greece—how did he perform that difficult task, you might ask. Elementary, my dears—He bamboozled his teachers by pretending English was not all Greek to him!

[Transcript of teacher instructing pupil] OK, Let’s try it again. C’mon buddy, there you go, eh, there you go, jump up again, c’mon!

NB: The few language schools that have remained loyal to cherished old teaching methods are now using the following poem as a stopgap teaching aid and rallying cry to ward off any more assaults on their turf. Suffice to say, these language schools—including the Zambara School of English—admit only cats, or in case English is all Greek to you—γάτες!



The saucy mouse said tit,
The sassy rat said tat;
Seductive in the kitchen,
Lady de la Roquefort, sitting pat.


The gnawing was ferocious,
The dame delicious, too;
Enamored with their gnawing,
They gnawed till they were bleu.

(A classic case of biting off
More than you can chew.)

No sign of consternation, no inkling of chagrin,
No reining in of hubris—O overweening sin!

(By Zeus! Such uninvited cheeky din
Was doomed to do our duo in.)


His catnap abruptly truncated by the ruckus,
Our couch potato Tom exclaimed:
Sounds like hocus-pocus woke us!

With drat and drat and double-drat,
That’s quite enough of this and that,
He went gumshoeing to the kitchen.



Brazen raiding scoundrels out-of-bounds
Ravishing our Lady Roquefort!

To arms! To arms!


And with that, dear students,
His Tommy gun reverberated—

Cut the knaves down
To modest wedges,
Just like that.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight ahead, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.

--Newton’s First Law of Motion

Hurrying out
Of the baker’s

To bring the still
Warm daily bread home,

This somebody comes close
To missing

The funeral notice tacked
On the light post

But does pause long
Enough to see

It’s nobody

He knows or else
He would’ve been stopped

Right there and then,
Cold too—like you

Or me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Intricate Evasions of As, Selected Poems, 1985-2010

In between swimming and relaxing, most of my creative energies these past five days were spent trying to come to terms with a manuscript (see photo above, courtesy of Eleni) that I’ve been wrestling with over the past 25 years and which has burgeoned from a chapbook of about 40 poems to a monster ms. now comprised of approximately 120. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve inserted new poems into the ms. or taken old ones out, or how often I’ve juggled the poems in a vain attempt to find the best possible arrangement or how the much smaller original manuscript was accepted by a publisher in England back in the 90s but who later informed me that he couldn’t do it owing to a lack of funds or that about ten years ago, I sent a longer version to a small-press publisher in the western US who rejected it after two years or that five years after that, I sent another even longer version to a small-press publisher on the east coast who also rejected it after two years—all of which leads me to what Joe Hutchison has to say about Bill Knott’s post re publishing one’s work: Do you DIY or keep sending it out in hopes that some publisher will mercifully DI4U—perhaps even before you die?

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