31 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #153 : Dead Bird in the Garden

Am I gothic? I've been accused of being gothic.

I'm going to finish out the month of looking back with a weird poem about gardening that is not about gardening at all. It does feature two obsessions of mine: 1) Birds; and 2) Decay. So there we go.

Starting tomorrow I'm going to take a friend's advice and start a series of poems about wood. Just wood, it sounds boring right? It is going to be AMAZING though, I swear. How much wood can a Michael chuck if a Michael could chuck wood? 30 days worth, if we're lucky.

Dead Bird in the Garden (4/28/05)

The sky is a gray sweep
of clouds making their brushstrokes
a perfectly windy sky -

Here the reel will speed up
as shadows blur on the landscape
if there were sound in this movie
it would be a lone viola -

Dip your fingers in
the rust-mud colored clay
that nothing will grow in
pull the rock from the shell of earth
roll it in your palms
put it back -

The heavy rains have
cracked and broken open
the small mound
the insides glow fiercely -

A small pool of black stares up
it has feathers that fold wet velvet
they are falling away -

Here is a rib poking out
a hip-bone the tip of wing -

A sudden sweep of air
across the breaking soil
the rest falls away -

A radish beneath the skull -

30 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #152 : Pastoral #1

Poems that use nature as a metaphor are both interesting and incredible obvious. I try to not use nature that way. I try to just let it be.

Pastoral #1 (1/25/03)

My body
Standing in the tall grass
Long blond stalks of hair

They brush
I try to stay solid
On the tilting surface
But the earth says no

Motions ankles to give

29 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #151 : Mute

I have sat in a dentists chair twice while someone near by was being told they had cancer in their mouth. It is harrowing to listen to someone be told that their life is changed, that they will lose a body part. Sitting behind a partition, you are not an observer, you are a hearing device. You are trespassing on grief. The moment has fallen into your lap. And you are static, unable to move, because you too are in a dentists chair, mouth full of cotton.

Mute (4/19/05)

The taste is metallic
throbbing in the back
of my throat

The sound of a man
being told
he has tongue cancer

Bubbles floating over plants
on the aquarium surface

A bright flash
hiss of pneumatic doors
mind the gap -

The tunnels thump
this is a moving place

The feeling of
perpetual motion

The dark tunnel and white tiles

The smell of old
flashing mice eyes
orbs of oil in brick spaces

Why the memory of a dentist
brings up undergrounds is beyond me

The rhythm maybe
of train tracks and random flashes of blue
the sound of setting a filling

The man is now crying
they are telling him
that the tongue will have to go

The doors open on air

28 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #150 : Planting Marigolds

Planting flowers is perhaps the closest thing to religion that I will ever get.

Planting Marigolds (4/4/05)

The pressing
That's the important part
Getting the roots
to press down and
point the right way

You have to
dig in the correct direction
being careful
not to go too deep
or the roots
will touch the veins of earth
and run towards the center

But it must be deep enough
to tap the water

You have to make it
careful not to fill it to the brim
then let it soak down

This starts the life cycle

Have to say
several prayers
along the way
Crossing oneself
with holly wreaths

But the pressing
making the base
against the wind
telling the thread like roots

This is the way down
This is the way up

27 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #149 : Storm

I had a metaphysical period. It was mostly about storms and things being anthropomorphized.

Storm (3/13/04)

As the buildings unmake themselves
the wind is singing about the unmaking
          about the color of unmaking
                    the taste

The streets cannot handle
the multiplying of atoms
as bricks disrupt

Lightening comes up
splitting paint from walls
          separating veins from leaves
                    stealing the soul of water

26 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #148 : Invitation

A nice simple one.

Invitation (7/10/04)

The past
is a homeless cat on the doorstep
sleeping over the w-e-l-

As if -
it were calling to me
over the expanse of the threshold

It comes into the house
sneaking when the screen door
is left open

25 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #147 : Study on Rain #2

This is the beginning of the other part of Study on Rain #2 I posted.

Study on Rain #2 (7/17/04)

across the street
huddled around
a half-dressed man
who is crying,
are other half-dressed people

Through sobs,
What will I do
now that I've

And is he talking
literal moments of time
actions with reaction
can there be metaphor at
10:00 in the night
with two young girls
in their underwear
standing over him,
consoling him

Later in the street
she was clothed then
we took the girl home
at 3AM in our car she said,
There are some times
you're just tired
you know?

What to think
of a reverse pieta

And then the mother
the next morning
was there asking,
You took her where?
I didn't know my
son had friends over

24 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #146 : 42

I still think about this man. He showed me where he had also been bitten by the brown recluse spider. Where the infection was boring a hole into his arm. Turning flesh into puss.

And I still charged him.

This poem is a reminder. I think of this man every time I feel my humanity slip.

42 (11/1/04)

He said his daughter died

That the service would be on Halloween

That she was bitten by a spider
while they lived on the streets

His jacket is too big for him

He is thirsty and wants a soda

I charge him for it
$1.60 for carbonated orange juice

I feel nothing until November
when, while standing at dawn
in a field

I realize I am cold

That I paid money to be cold

That I am in a field
in the mountains
by choice

And I charged him for a soda
the day before
he put his daughter in the earth

23 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #145 : A Theme Emerges of An Obsession With Nature & Death

A lot of the things in my journals are untitled. I gave this one a title that reflects where my mind clearly sits most of the time.

I think this is a bit of a riff on Pound's petals on a wet, black bough. But it probably could be argued that anything written about nature after Pound is a riff on that.

A Theme Emerges of An Obsession With Nature & Death (7/11/04)

Light catches
in the grooves
of the tree's abdomen

Leaves tremble
debate amongst themselves
whether to jump or not

It's the breeze that does it
that makes
the leaves want to fly, that

And the light
in the deep
skin-cuts of bark

in a rainstorm

22 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #144 : Upon the Spontaneous Invention of the Chariot

In 2004 I wrote a weird series of poems about the chariot and how the history of the transport is murky at best. This is one of the better ones and is placed in China. Which is one of the latter places to have a chariot 'invention' moment.

Upon the Spontaneous Invention of the Chariot (5/13/04)

In the fields and marsh lands of China
grasses root deep and jump beyond a man's head
filling the mind with ideas of the heavens
where a star blinks forgetfully
absent-mindedly and tremors with the idea
of projecting light alone

21 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #143 : Study #7 (Labyrinth)

I obsess over myths ancient or otherwise.

Study #7 : Labyrinth (8/12/04)

When Daedalus sat
looking over the
rolling hillside of Crete

Tapping his charcoal about the desk

His eyes would unfocus

A glaze of rainwater and milk over his iris

The floating olive leaves
would intertwine and mesh
forming a sheen of glazed
leaf pattern over darker leaf pattern

And in those leaves was the key :

          Trap it in a pattern of light
          Move it into the vein
          Place it in the center of god

The idea that these walls that drive you mad are the walls that have always contained you this is the thing we must remember

When he handed off the beautiful bull
could Poseidon have known
the chain of deaths attached to it

That Minos would cage his only son
his only daughter would die abandoned

Theseus' father would leave a namesake sea
so that the cursed child would always burn -

Did Pasiphae know that her bull sex would
unravel a ball of yarn attached to her fake udder
and finishing across the ocean at the feet of the man who killed her son?

As the green parts fade
they get red, brown, gray

A gray only seen once in all things
A gray that is only in death

There are bones left

Bones loosing marrow
small holes of air rupture the surface
leaving only the imprint
of canals that once carried blood

The leaf skeletons
          (at their centers)
this is where a light will never go off

All I know is this:

His wife gave birth to a creature of unspeakable traits that was ravenous in hunger for human flesh

Carved into a mountain
the sharp walls would slice open
and cut everything
into darkness -

20 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #142 : Shark Fin

Another thing I like to do when I'm stuck is to fall back on a classic form. The tender button.

Shark Fin (6/24/04)

A shovel bowl
Axe blade before a pane of glass
A sow's ear

Getty Images

Poem-A-Day #141 : Study on Rain #2

After I finished my undergrad I had a long period of time without writing. I worried on this for months. I began to stare at objects and write all the angles I could to fill up pages. Out of that, a series of 'studies' emerged. This is part of one on rain.

Study on Rain #2 (7/19/04)

The road
becomes alive
after a rain storm

The black
a deep well
with an awkward pulse

eyes blinded
by moonlight

In Santa Fe
there are no drains
the water pools

Or runs
into little mouths
so that the street's history
can be hissed

18 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #140 : About the Moon

Today's poem leaps ahead a few years. I don't remember the evening that it is about, but I definitely understand the interest in the moon.

About the Moon (6/20/04)

I want to swallow the moon
Take in the reflective disk
so that my belly glows
with all of that stollen light

Odd cold heat churning my insides

The sound of breathing
is like gauze over glass
a softness
you cannot hear
It is reeds
in an old martial arts film

You can taste marsh water poured over rice

The pocked face of night
a circle of yellow against purple
of course it tastes of rice
seaweed and turtle soup

17 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #139 : Mission

I had a tendency to write pieces that were about the physical journal being written in. A sort of meta-commentary on the act of writing in a journal itself.

The journal in question
This was compounded by the fact that most of my early journals came from the racks at Barnes & Noble. Their journal selection was, and is, a bit...silly. Endless books covered in flowers and "cute" things. I always went for the odder ones.

This is a piece about the journal I had early in 1999. It was my graduating from high school journal. And this is about its cover.

Mission (6/5/99)

The heat has bleached the sky to a heavy cream color
A heavy oak black-latched door
All the glass in this place warps that beauty for its own reasons
The smell of a thousand mildews
Iridescent copper giant turning green ogre of testament in the corner
A lone tree against the endless yellow eyes

16 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #138 : Legion

I have always wanted to experiment with structure and form. Not in a traditional way. In a weird way. This poem is long. Is weird. Is meant to be read in a ton of different ways with rules that I don't entirely remember. It was to be read by 5 people. It is my attempt to retell the story from the Christian bible of Legion, the man who is many.

The parts can be seen as a cacophony slowly being filtered. A is the most muddled, B retells the narrative from A. C is a sort of clarification of the story as a whole. And D is the implied threat that the creature represents.

I was a weird kid.

Legion (4/9/99)

A (read by 2 people in unison, the words of 1 and 2 should almost alternate, they will create two different meanings)

voices endless ceaseless voices enrapture madden voices swirl to mud in my head voices we are existed once sane voices speak of evil voices voices take over

we are many never to be whole in our power we are many whole cities in our completeness we are many entwined into an overwhelming force we are many as always forever and ever forever we are many none but us exists here we are many we are many you are us

B (read by one person)

wondering the desert
we discovered a fountainhead
drinking this elixir

this cleansing syrup is all we need
on earth
drink the air
we are millions

wondering by herds
taking all we cross into ourselves
drink humanity
we take all

we are many

A2 (read by 2 people in unison, the words of 1 and 2 should almost alternate, they will create two different meanings)

voices someone must bear this cross voices someone must bear this burden voices someone must set us free voices someone must take this over voices together voices

we are many many exist with joy bloody we are many many exist as one no more we are many many exist up to fall down we are many many exist away from we are many others we are many

B2 (read by one person)

for thousands of years
we searched for peace in normalcy
drinking beauty
we could never find

this purpose is clear
as we find that this is our end
drinking in end times
we fall to our feet

for years we knew of him
at his feet we cried
at the feet of him we found

we are many

A3 (read by 2 people in unison, the words of 1 and 2 should almost alternate, they will create two different meanings)

voices we cannot concentrate voices we will someday escape this shell voices we will no longer be here voices will someday end . . . .

we are many who rule this body we are many who never die or end we are many after this body there will be another we are many and we are all . . . .

B3 (read by one person)

threatened with exile
we are dishonored wholly
drinking from this elixir
the stuff of mortality

this man is against us completely
drinking in hatred
lashing with

threatened with exile
we hate him and
drinking from his blood
is all we want

we are many

C (read by one person)

He came to expel us
To make us one out of many
Though we wanted it, we do not wish
to be forced

But we are

driven out

We float away

Driven on

we will find another


We search for peace
in the desert
Bask in the voices
We are many

D (read by one person)

We are many bring us your children we are thousands give us a toy we are millions bring the young we are many growing we are many biding time bring us the children give them to us we are multiples allow this

Give us what you want
Give us what we need
Give us what we want
And we will go away

We are many

Poem-A-Day #137 : Dogwood

 I have been obsessed with trees and the cycle of seasons for my entire life. No trees manage to draw me in more than the dogwood. It's odd, early spring blooming without leaves. The little notches in the petals of the waxy flowers. The sort of node-like centers. It is the definition of ornamental. But also a harbinger tree. It foretells.

Dogwood (4/28/99)

Sore about the edges
Pulled out if its home into blinding light
Seared red by the womb
Scraped and bruised until chapped
Deep within still clean
Sweat and tears vein it
On display for all to see
The pain of it
The mark of being born


I'm behind on my Poem-A-Day. I've not had internet and I hate using the Blogger app on my phone so... will twice update tonight. Or thrice update tomorrow.

14 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #136 : Self Help

I'm without internet for a few days so I'll be trying out the Blogger app for the first time. I'm afraid. Hold me.

Which is exactly what young me was telling himself in this journal entry.

See what I did there?

Side note: young me should have written self help posters. Or Hallmark cards.


Stop them from doing it to you
Stop them from making you into what they want
Stop the incessant voices that hurt you
Stop being who they need you to be and be who you are
Stop looking for ways out and open the door
Stop staring trough the glass and break that shit open and let the air in

13 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #135 : What I Wish I Wrote

The more I dig around in my old journals, the more I realize that my mindset has changed little. I've learned more, read more, discovered new ways to frame my thoughts. But, in the end, the thoughts are the same

Young me liked list poems. I still do, but I try to not be so bald-faced with them. Young me was also very dramatic. Which I'm still ok with.

What I Wish I Wrote (1/25/99)

I wish I wrote about the way to get home, the roads to follow to an ideal place.
I wish I wrote about the paths not to follow and the pitch forks thrown your way.
I wish I wrote of the ocean, or, at least, of the salt on the tongue. The crystals that settle on lips and eyes.
I wish I wrote of the very alphabet, of the history of the word 'adequate'.
I wish I wrote of the road home. I wish I wrote of love. I wish I wrote of hearts.
I wish I wrote of the waves, the people that are inside them dancing to the shore. But I fear the water.
I wish I wrote of stability.
I wish I wrote of self-reliance, but I am not alone in a cabin by a lake.
I wish I wrote of the wilderness, but I never venture far from home.
I wish I wrote of who I am, but...
I wish I wrote of others, but I have exhausted so much time on people not worth my time.
I wish I wrote of the road home, but I don't know how, I don't know what that place is yet.

12 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #134 : Vessel

I'm pretty sure this is a really sarcastic response to Ode to A Grecian Urn by John Keats. I'm not sure where the oysters come in. I didn't keep notes. It is obviously me trying to ask what is and isn't art. A question that I still struggle with.

Keats dies at 25 and only published 54 poems, yet he is perhaps considered one of the most important English poets of the early 1800s ,if not of all time. This is Poem-A-Day #134. I've already written over a thousand other poems. Either I'm winning or I lost before I started.

Vessel (10/13/99)

Is it kitsch?
Does this object
leave you a little cold?
Is it the appropriate time
or place
for it?
Is it art?
Or is it
formed into shape
Is it social commentary?
Is it egocentric?
Does it deserve attention?
My span can be short
so it needs to shock me now
This could be art
Or worth nothing
Is it subversive?
Does it mirror?
Is it just a vessel
filled with oysters
and hydrogen
fused with oxygen
and nothing more?

A drawing by Keats of the Sosibios vase.
Which he never actually saw in person.

11 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #133 : I See

I've been thinking about my reactions to culture today vs. when I was a teenager. When I was a teen, I wrote long poems about how we were all going to hell and the world was on fire. Today, while I don't write in this way any more, I look at these poems and I feel like little has changed for me emotionally.

It's hard not to want to scream constantly in America these days. It is also hard not to feel helpless in the face of our collective lack of humanity and humility. It is difficult to know what to say.

I've combined a few lines to make things more sensible, young me had a tendency to break lines where punctuation should go and it makes everything confusing. It's over the top and melodramatic and I love it.

I See (7/1/99)

I see hunger and millions crying
I see hatred, bigotry, voices raised in anger
Many living in dirt

I see tantrums, ignorance, that many choose to be blind
I see a wish of uprising, devastation, a lack of history
I see land engulfed by man
Baren land

I see a future uncertain
Masses converging, myself in those faces
I see history repeating

I see millennial crisis, worlds colliding
Voices rising, disease, everything wiped out
I see a world bare
A tent city raised, a post-apocalyptic hell

I see people turn away
I see a mirror refusing to reflect
I see myself, unintentionally acting out violence on others
I see hypocrisy spilling on the floor of zealots

I see what I take for granted
I see that becoming a missile aimed at myself
I see destruction come forth and I see everything collapse

10 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #132 : Untitled (Feeling Today)

This is from October 2000. It kind of sums up a feeling that is absolutely not describable in language.


Feeling today
like my arms are gone

09 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #131 : Tea Bag

I got the first galley of my book last night. It is real in the world and in my hand. It will be available to pre-order on Amazon in the next week or so. You will go buy it. You will go buy it. You will go buy it.

Here is the cover:

I decided to keep it light today. And I'm not going to edit it because it's silly and oddly sexual and I like it as it is. A poem about a tea bag.

Tea Bag (9/8/99)

It smells of mint and cold
winters, this little pouch of
Wrapped up gauzed plant
bits, this thing that looks
up from the counter
I taste it
Lick it
Suck on it
Taste the knitted fabric and
herbal seasoned leaves
Heat liquid blue in a
black glazed mug
Tiny packet unleashed in water
Cool and warm fire, this pouch
drunk in contentment

08 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #130 : Boxed Storm

This was written 16 years ago today. I think my intent was to talk about the self as a sort of container for our swirling emotions and egos. I've decided that it's also clearly a mirror...

Original :

Boxed Storm (7/8/00)

Solid white vision
of a black box
polished crimson
in a purple light

Seamless edge
blue stone inlay
a rose or lilly

Reflection of self
imposed on the surface

Cold to touch
inside glowing white

Edit :

Boxed Storm

There are eyes here
they imagine themselves on the surface of a great box

Cold to the touch
the seams are red with welding the interior a blur of noise

We could call this a real thing
that it represents a soul or some intangible self

The face reflected on it
It is mine and yours and ours

07 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #129 : Ars

One of the first things people say when they discover I write poetry is "I didn't know people still did that." As if the art form died with the Beats. Another thing people say is "That's cute." As if poetry were a baby or a puppy to goo goo at.

One could make the argument that poetry DID die mid-20th century and we are all just writing out our feelings these days. One could perhaps even call it cute, many writers are definitely that. I've been obviously sensitive to this issue for a long time. Even in high school.

The original:

Why I Do It (1/27/99)

I try to write with conviction
1000 years standing behind me
I write at the edge of an era to keep it outside of me
I write to see if anyone agrees
Because I can do it
I write because though there is no special place where writers gather and hand out gold stars it makes me matter
I write to make me think that I could someday be happy
I might grow to be happy
I write to feel better
To communicate my thoughts
I write to put a word      here
To exert what little control I have
I write my emotions out of me
It has helped me out of dark things that I am amazed I survived
I write to escape myself
To stop suicidal thoughts
I write to tide me over until my next meal
To take space
Make myself larger
I write to fill in the lies, inadequacies
I write with guilt that I have the time to do it.

The edit:


There is the idea - a sort of cracked crysalis
          it is a word - on a page - in a rain storm

So much history in that liquified body
          a compact overlay of evolutionary fact

We write to feel ourselves - to take that pool and make it again
          let's no pretend we can fly - let's pretend we can emerge

06 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #128 : Green

I was just as obsessed by colors and light as an 18 year old as I am as a 35 year old. Below the poem in my journal is one of my favorite bits of poetry. From David P. Young's The Man Who Swallowed A Bird:
Once I swallowed a bird,
felt like a cage at first, but now
sometimes my flesh flutters and I think
I could go mad for joy.

The original:

Green (3/17/99)

Calm, cool
The color of springtime country
Makes me long for tall grass
to run through
roll in
Lay and look at the sky
Surf the endless
fields of ocean
Calm, cool
Next to anything it is
Always relaxing
Nature in color

The edit:


Long for the tall grass - the shade of big land
the stalks - thick and whip-like

The sound of speed - of knee high by the fourth of July
the thickness of summertime maple leaves

The sky bleaches against all this boiling pigment
all of this dampness - this scent of grass

The most restful of states - run in it - let it stain your jeans
the feeling of wet - the prime of your life

05 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #127 : Ode to Rain

I attempted to to turn this not a real ode into a real ode. Sort of.

The Original :

Ode To The Figure (4/15/99)

Through the dense fog
a figure moves.

The blinded moon
watched as silently 
as it could.

Green-toed rains
creep in on mouse feet.

The clicking of H2O
forms into droplets
causes shelters to fill.

Through the dense fog
a figure stands there still.

Edit :

Ode to Rain

Through this wall-like fog a shrouded figure drifts
Bleached rags spindle in the darkness and light - The
green-toed rain creeps slantwise across the earth on silent mouse-like feet

The sound of clicking water forms into pear-
shaped droplets - Each being seeks a shelter
There is joy in damp as life flows from the figure's fingertips

Through the dense wall-like fog the figure stands vigil.

04 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #126 : Red Maple Bonsai

Day 4 of Remembering the past. A nice little study on a bonsai. I'm not going to edit this one.

Red Maple Bonsai (4/28/99)

Stood hunched over
bent slight quasi tree
twisted to wire-like
beauty hunched
Quasimodo in a planter
blood hued leaves banked
by dark black stems
and branched arms
reaching for the sun
the ends curled
towards the blue sky.

03 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #125 : Blankets

For the thirds day of the Salon, a very short Remember.

The original :

Untitled (2/17/99)

The surface is texture
It is hilled and mountained
The fibers conjoined

The edit :


surface          texture and conjoined          and
          the fibers          mountain

02 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #124 : Guernica

Day 2 of my Remember project stumbles to the starting point of my obsession with Pablo Picasso's Guernica. It began with a really odd piece of theater. A high school did an original dance/movement piece that slowly revealed the full tableau of the painting across the stage. Each of the figures in the painting was given a solo dance. It was crazy and wonderful.

The original:

Guernica (12/6/98)

Came from above the rain
The purple is broken open
Tossing summersaults in the air it falls
Something inside me makes me want to run
Something inside me makes me want to put my arms up like I were crucified
Someone inside me runs away and is gone
Came down to earth
The red is spread out
Twisting summersaults in the air it falls
Guernica is confronted
Guernica is gone

The edit:


From above the purple
          above the rain
the sky is open

The pouring face tosses itself in the air
          it falls

          You want to run

          You want to be crucified

          You are both

Red spreads like paint
          summersaulting over the earth

It ignites
          and within moments
it is gone

Guernica (1937) - Pablo Picasso

01 July 2016

Poem-A-Day #123 : Night

For the month of July I am hitching my Poem-A-Day wagon to Ariana Lombardi's amazing Salon project wagon to do some amazing wagon things!

I dug out my journals from when I was in high school and will be re-working the poems into ... something. I'm calling this project 'Remember'.

I will post both the original and the new edit. Original first!

Untitiled (May 27 1998)

The puddles shimmer with the skins of soil. The floating edges of night. The skins of crab-starred beings light the endless night. The fireflies fall gently like fireworks sparks. Can I see the night life of the unopened door. Crack the lock.

The edit!


The lock of night - the closing in of our vision - we are helpless in the dark but stumble forth to bury ourselves in wet soil -

Out here in that darkness - beyond ourselves - the skin of the earth cracks open and the boundaries between this and that soften - it rains -

After the storm the puddles begin to settle - stars reflected look like crabs tracing their way to the ocean - the sparks of distant fireworks become lightening bugs they dance -