Sunday, November 23, 2008

A HARSH SEASON

A HARSH SEASON

it is autumn
who comes
in his crisp
grey jacket
it is autumn
who knocks
delivering
a hundred
handwritten
notes
it is autumn
who says
we should not
be surprised
by his coming
it is autumn
who leads us
one by one
down to
the river that is
freezing slowly
gushing vein
of our small town
it is autumn
who tells us
on the riverbed
it is time
he is sorry
and the knife
of October
slides into
our sides
it is autumn
who holds
our bodies
as they stiffen
it is autumn
who lays us down
pulls happy sighs
from our mouths
like bright
yellow scarves
it is autumn
who we watch
sideways
from our position
in the sand
as he knots
our breath
into bundles
sets them to sail
downstream
on individual
dead leaves
it is autumn
who has no eyes
to look down
on us struggling
but has tongue
teeth and lips
to say
he is sorry
he’ll be back in
one year
to work with us
again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

THE IMPORTANCE OF BLOWING BUBBLES

I’m in the basement blowing bubbles
from an old pink bubble jar and hoop.

Upstairs the phone is ringing.
It is very important that I stay here
in the basement blowing bubbles.

A wise man once told me the universe is fueled
by the slight death of things.
I wasn’t surprised. This man had seen war.
I didn’t have the courage to offer an alternative explanation.
This man keeps an American flag in every room of his house.

There is one tiny window in my basement
covered in cobwebs and dust.
It lets in just enough light to show
each bubble while it lasts
wobbling from the hoop
a swirling sphere of pink and blue and clear
bobbing toward the old brick foundation where it bursts.

The man who told me how the universe is fueled was wise
but I never said I liked him.
Nevertheless, I wish he was here right now
listening to the silent room, my breath,
the plink of tiny drops of soap falling on the concrete floor.
I think it would give him peace.

The phone has stopped ringing
and begun again three times now.
Whoever is calling must really want to talk.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's a Sunday morning in Pennsylvania. How could I not write this?

MYSTIFICATION

while praying
after mass
the Virgin Mary
in her baby blue
cloak and
pearl colored veil
leans down
reaches
over a bank
of lit candles
to touch me gently
on one shoulder
her lips like
a cut strawberry
she straightens
to brush a lock
of hair off her
china doll face
and whispers
excuse me
ma’am
I hate to
disturb you but
don’t you think
oh don’t you think
Jane Austen
could be
my twin?
Well, Tom and I are in Pennsylvania for a long weekend, and I've had a chance to write in the backseat of our camper van as we cruised up I-81. I'm currently reading The Really Short Poems of A.R. Ammons, which is definitely influencing my work.


WHERE I SEE MYSELF IN FIVE YEARS

I wonder if someone asked me exactly
five years ago
where do you see yourself in five years

because I know I didn’t have the pleasure of saying
well

I see myself in a field in South Carolina
unemployed, frustrated and twirling my hair
as I sit in tall grass

three donkeys grazing around me
one the color of a nickel, one a red almond, one like milk

I’m sure five years ago I said something to the tune of
business and success
and I wasn’t thinking clearly about the possibilities.

----------------------------------------------------------

NATIONAL

the enormous metal beater
moves through the flooded
cranberry field
turning it into a proper bog
sea of red hearts
bobbing

----------------------------------------------------------

Friday, November 7, 2008

I am having some MAJOR writer's block lately, guys. I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to come up with anything good. I sat in the waiting room of Boyd Tire Company (waiting on my van and its new shiny, round tires) reading Great Expectations and wondering why I couldn't write anything lately. Of course, Lish might be right: Dickens sucks out your creative soul. I'm still experimenting.

Anyway, this is today's piece. I was thinking of my sister as I wrote it. I hope you enjoy it.

PATIENT IN ROOM 135

He swings his arm out
to punch me in the jaw
as I stand over him feeling his pulse.
The drugs he can no longer have
are still speaking in the folds of his brain
still wiggling inside his muscles.
He smells of old pumpkin
and I combed a spider from his beard last night.
I am quicker than he is now, clean
but he says the smell of cotton
drives him insane. And someone keeps whispering
to him don’t let the devil’s daughter touch you.
He misses. I tell him my father is a laborer
in Washington state. Not a perfect man
but definitely not the devil.
He asks where my mother is
and falls asleep before I can finish telling him
she is living beside a beautiful lake now
watching wrens build their summer nests.
If I could only pray when a candle was nearby
my heart would wither like a cut rose.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Don't I wish this was how my day went?

INTERRUPTION

Sitting on the bank
of the Nooksack River

next to a blackberry
bush, next to some beetles

doing their beetle business

I’m in the middle
of a good clear thought

when floating by
goes an old wooden ladder

all on its own.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TIN STAR

There’s a tin star hanging
from a nail in my bedroom door.
It’s beautiful, with tiny leaves
pressed into its design.
One of my sisters brought it
home with her from Amsterdam.
At night I imagine her buying it,
slipping into some boutique
with her coat buttoned up
asking in broken Dutch for a souvenir,
something for her sister
something that might do
as a Christmas decoration all year long,
and the woman behind the counter saying
she knew just the thing
and knotting my little star on its red satin thread.
As it is, I know my little star’s real home.
Dangling over the frosty window of a bar,
nestled between an artificial pine bough
and the neon Amstel sign.
It is advent both here and there.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Per Christa's request, I'm posting the poem I wrote in the park yesterday as I waited for our writing meeting to start. It was such a nice day outside...I was sitting underneath a tree (don't know what kind...maple, maybe?) that was just starting to turn red from yellow. I was determined not to write about it, it was so beautiful! I wanted to see if I could focus on anything else!

I'm not feeling any creative inspiration today, probably because I haven't done much reading, but it's making me feel a little blue. Guess I'll go read?

IN THE PARK

I wish I wasn’t alone,
wish I couldn’t
see my shadow,
wish I could say wild dogs
were chasing me away.
I wish I could say
there was a book
in my hands
but I’m alone in the park
sitting on soggy grass
watching a hornet
crawl over its nest.
I wish I were a hornet
relatives packed around me
like clothes in a suitcase
but I am solitary
heavy in the mud
and just as ugly as
I can imagine.
I wish I were a squirrel
or a scarf
always running around myself
I wish I were a dirt path
or a harmonica
something people could use
This poem means
I am not winter
I am not frost or rain
I will always have a face and hands
and these two responsible arms
I will always be dying or dead
I will always be born
I will never be something as useful
as turbulence or teeth
or anything else that shines.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hello all!

I had a great day today, kicking off the morning with a trip to the Thumbs-Up Diner with Tom and Jason to indulge in some tasty breakfast foods...I took the train from there up to Inman Park to meet Christa for our writing group meeting. Fortunately, I was about a half hour early and it was a beautiful day outside, so I sat in the park writing until Christa arrived to pick me up. We went to a coffee shop and did a few writing exercises, critiqued some of each other's work, and afterward walked around Little Five Points in the sun. Tom met us up there so I didn't need to take the train home, and we went to REI to get me a new winter coat. Hurray! Now I'm sitting here drinking tea, preparing to read the Sunday comics after a nice sit-down with my Louise Gluck book of poems. Does it get better than that?

The poem I'm posting today isn't one that I wrote while I was with Christa, actually; it's something I just wrote a couple minutes ago. But I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to all the comments and hope more people will begin to see my poetry this way. This piece in particular is just a small exercise and hasn't been revised. With that in mind...

Happy Sunday Evening!

JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT

she brought the freshly picked
jack-in-the-pulpit inside
carrying it like a smaller child
in her white arms
and her sister sitting
at the kitchen table told her
in a grave, grave tone
it was illegal to pick
a jack-in-the-pulpit
those strange maroon funnels
that grew behind the barn

she had always imagined
they came to life
crimson-caped women at night
she didn’t know why she picked one
she thought she might press it in the Bible
or sleep with it under her pillow
but the look on her sister’s face
was serious as their mother’s china

so she ran outside
tore the pretty flower to bits on the porch
as sirens chirped to life
somewhere beyond the alfalfa field