Friday, December 28, 2012

Weekly Worded

  By Degrees

“How cold did it get last night at your house?”
“As cold as it got at your place.”
“My outdoor thermometer said, 1 below zero.”
“Mine must have been too frigid to say anything.”
“Don’t you ever keep track of the temperature?”
“I do.  You tell me how cold it was every time we meet.”
“You’re not even interested?”
“Of course I’m interested, that’s why I still talk to you.”
“So I’m your personal thermometer?”
“You are the measure of my atmospheric awareness.”
“What if I lied?  What if I told you it was 10 below?”
“Then that’s what it would be.”
“I never thought of you as gullible.”
“Well friend, I never thought of you as a lying, scheming bastard.”
“Whoa!  I just said, What if.”
“And I said, Friend.
“Good.  I’m glad you’re back to normal.”
“Inside I’m always normal.  It’s the outside that fluctuates.”

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weekly Worded

    The Numberless Age

When the animals entered the village
everyone except the old woman with
insomnia was asleep.  She’d heard them
before, skirting the perimeter, pausing

to sniff the air, breathing deeply as
the puckered dreams of humanity
escaped like aromas into the night.
She sensed how many had arrived by

tallying their claws clicking against the
cobbled stone collar circling the well,
and this is how she also learned to fall
asleep, in a time before sheep, rhythms

instead of numbers, rain against a roof,
heart like a tympanist against her skin.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weekly Worded

  Ars Robotica

I’m sorry,
but I am either composing
a new poem right now or
revising my long-anticipated novel.
Either way, I am not available
to answer your questions.
If you are wondering about
the lack of imagery
please press one.
If you can’t understand
why lines get chopped up
as you see them on the page
press two.
Complaints and outrage
over the general lack of seriousness,
especially when it comes to
the popular themes of
unrequited love or death, 
press three.
Prosody issues, press four.
To request a foreign translation
press five.
If you have read or written a poem
very much like this one
and want to question its originality,
press six.
For all other quandaries
take a deep breath,
then return to the first line.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weekly Worded

  Scribbler’s Tanka

Buried like the root
of a plant I long thought dead,
the most perfect word

surfaced, all green and slick
with the effort of rising.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Annual promotion

The Reviews*

    “Did you write this book?”
    “Yes, it’s my first volume of essays.”
    “It looks a bit anorexic, are you sure you’re finished with it?”
    “I'll have you know, it took over a decade to finish this book!”
    “Maybe you’ve got a touch of narcolepsy and don’t realize it.”
    “Completing this book has been the most fulfilling experience of my life.”
    “So then you don’t get out much?”
    “This book is wrought of experience.”
    “Did you say rot?”
    “I said wrought.”
    “Either way, it doesn’t sound like something I’d advertise.”

*Available online, or through Raven’s Eye Press, or by contacting ME!
  Happy Holidays.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekly Worded

  Unethical Trade

If only the African moon
was made of ivory,

and as it weighed
so heavily on the horizon

poachers could cut it
into pieces and get away

by daybreak with a truckload
of the polished night. 

I would give up the moon --
all of it -- let the earth

invent its own luminosity
if only to keep the elephants.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Weekly Worded

 Before You Go
    (opening with a line by Rosemerry)

I will write you a poem made of doors
that leak, all air, all light rushing through
with nothing to keep the world out,
no threshold to cross, no brass knocker
or bell, no slot where just bills tumble in.

Then I’ll write you a poem made of keys
that all fit, one ring full of chimes, each lock
with a scene inside it -- a waterfall
cascading over stones, a garden with
brass flowers tilting toward the sun.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekly Worded

   Post-Secondary Trauma

“Professor, I have a question about what you said ten minutes ago.”
“Why didn’t you raise your hand then?”
“To be polite.”
“So why interrupt now?”
“It still bugs me.  You said Milton was blind.”
“Certifiably, yes”
“Maybe that’s explains what happened to his dice.”
“What does this have to do with his epic poem, Paradise Lost?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he just misplaced them.”
“Did I say something ten minutes ago to get you thinking about craps?”
“You said Milton was blind.”
“Go on.”
“I got to thinking how the dimples on dice would be like braille for a blind person.”
“I don’t see where this is going, but go ahead, complete your line of reasoning.”
“So Milton gambled, lost, and realized he was better off without his dice.”
“Fascinating.  Are you a literature major?”
“Naw, I’m undeclared, but I like a good story.”
“And where did Milton start to confuse you?”
“When I tried to read him.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

Weekly Worded

 Elegy For the Unpicked Apples

Once round and sweet as memory, gone all
mushy, pocked with wrinkled skin, the fruit still
clings to the limbs like holiday lights left
burning long after the autumn blows out.

Soon enough they’ll be picked by the wind, by
frost, by a night of freezing rain leaning
its ladder against the bark, a fresh coat
of winter’s paint till they shine in the dark.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekly Worded


Image Source: Freeology

 In the beginning some man said
“Let there be rape”
and he saw that if it wasn’t divinely intended
it might not be legitimate,
so he made certain enough men
held positions of power
to keep an eye on the women
who claimed it had happened to them.
And there was whimpering
on the 1st day in November.

Then another man said,
“Let there be pregnancy”
and the men charged with
upholding God’s mind
knew it wouldn’t happen to them,
so there was much relief
on the 2nd of November.

And the Constitution said,
“Let there be elections”
so the men who had wives
pushed them in front of the cameras
to claim no matter what their husbands said
they were good men.
Infants were cuddled and kissed
all during the 3rd and 4th days.

Then the doctors said,
“Let there be amniocentesis”
and a window into life opened,
(though many pulled their shades)
which accounts on the 5th of November
for the heat in Roe v. Wade.

By November’s election day a woman said,
“Let me make up my own mind”
but so many things had been said
the chance to lay the issue to rest
on the 7th day was pretty much dead.

       *thanks to

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekly Worded

Middle Class Parachutes

“Congratulations on your retirement!”
“Thanks, but it’s not much to get excited about.”
“Really?  I’ve got 10 years before I can even think about retiring.”
“Lucky you.”
“Oh, so you enjoyed your career?”
“No, I hated it.”
“And you’re depressed about retirement?”
“Did I say I was depressed?”
“You said you weren’t excited.”
“Careers are like skydiving -- 30 years to reach altitude, then it’s a plummet.”
“But what about the thrill of the descent?”
“I’ll be falling fast enough to bury myself.”
“Surely you have a parachute.  Annuities?  Stocks?  Performance bonuses?”
“I don’t even have health insurance.”
“What did you do with your earnings for 30 years?”
“I fed them to the children.”
“Then take solace in your family, they won’t let you down.”
“I know, they moved back home.”
“Then think of all the time you’ll spend with the grandchildren.”
“I was worried about that when you started this conversation.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Worded

 Your Location Could Not Be Determined

The last time I checked
moonlight glazed the desert white.
I tapped out an informal Morse code
against the steering wheel
there at the side of the road,
but nothing was wrong.
I had stopped, shut the engine off
and opened my windows
to hear the tick of the cooling earth.
In the matrix of destiny
I was both on my way and not
trying anymore, my lungs
emptied then refreshed
like spring water issuing from the ground
with no more purpose than to
wash the bedrock clean.
Of the shadows around me
some shaped themselves
into hogans where the faint stars
sat in their ancient circles
listening, listening.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Weekly Worded

Dog Gone Days

As Sirius’ heat
loses intensity

the sun rises a hair
later, I stir my bones

and lazily climb out
of bed, lift my robe off

a closet hook where it
hung all summer like an

obedient shadow.
My bathroom mirror reflects

a haze like pond scum with
these cattails whiskering

against the morning light.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Weekly Worded

Ask Me 2
    (for the late William Stafford)

Some time after the daylight comes ask me
about my laundry.  Ask me why
my socks end up under every bed.  Others,
you say, manage to get their dirty clothes to
the hamper and in their small way try 
helping out.  Ask me what difference
their random domestic gesture has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can bend to pick up
the scattered shirts.  We know
the floor draft is there, churning, that it
suddenly sweeps my underwear away
in the stillness of each evening’s undressing. 
What the washer says, that is what I say.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekly Worded

   (for Leonard Cain)

When a medicine man dies his power
doesn’t leave the earth, but finds its way back
into the soil, pooled there by a soft rain,
pliable as a wet mound of clay on
a potter’s wheel, rising as the earth spins
until he’s with us again, tangible
as a bowl, fingers on the rim of a soul.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weekly Worded


“I heard that actual books will soon be replaced by electronic ones.”
“Where did you read that?”
“I didn’t read it, I said I heard it.”
“From an actual person?”
“What other kind is there?”
“You must not have heard about evolution.”
“If you mean Darwin, yes, I’ve heard of evolution.”
“And what do you think about apes?”
“It’s an interesting theory.”
“One of the last apes said he’d heard they were being replaced by people.”
“That’s ridiculous.  Where did you read that?”
“I heard it.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weekly Worded

The Vegetable Opera

Acorn squash climbed the chicken wire fence
surrounding the garden, not looking for
a way out, but looking, as squash blossoms
do for a dependable shaft of light,

a slip of shade, a perch above the riot
of broad green leaves where they might practice
singing their deep-throated songs.  Then these
few acorns fattened on the vine and hung

there too, not in the usual shadows
but in the air, as if convinced they’d always
be flowers, humming the melody of
yellow, yellow, yellow, inside and out.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekly Worded

 Falling Toward Fall
         (for Axel Cedarwall)

    Rabbit brush blooming
    in the doorway of the old
    miner's cabin, rust

    from his crumpled tin roof still
    running like blood through his veins.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Weekly Worded

 Still Life Without Lightning

    This morning last night’s storm
    clouds stuck to the ragged

    edges of cliffs outside
    my motel window.

    How funny they looked, like
    unspoken cartoon thoughts

    hovering over a
    landscape bathed in relief.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekly Worded

Bookshelf Conspiracy

All night Tolstoy whispers
with Steinbeck about socialism.
I have to be to work early
but they won’t shut up,

their hushed voices like the passing out
of pamphlets in my sleep.
I hear tumblers clinking, a gurgle of vodka
through the neck of an hourglass.

If I get out of bed to complain
it will just be wind
or a sudden squall of rain
against the roof.

Shelve them farther apart
and they would shout,
rouse those other controversies
I’ve forgotten about.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekly Worded

Olympic Gold*

I had been paging through a magazine, 
the cat purring on my lap.  With one eye
I glimpsed the electric bill I had placed
on the entryway table so I wouldn’t
forget to put it in the morning mail. 
With my other eye I saw the mail truck
one house away.  I jumped up, the cat went
flying.  I grabbed the envelope, sprinted
to the mailbox, slammed it away, flipping
the flag to an upright position with
my free hand.  I stood aside, panting, as
the mail truck pulled in.  The carrier reached
out her window but instead of picking
my mail up, she dropped a satin ribbon
with a golden medal over my neck. 
“Congratulations” she said, “Best time for
shuffling bills from a home to the point
of delivery, an Olympic record!” 
She politely applauded, my one
woman cheering section, then collected
the mail and sped away, waving as she left. 
I waved back, stunned really, to know I had
the right stuff at my age not only to
qualify for such an event but to
win the gold.  I ambled back to the house,
the sun glinting off the medal’s surface,
catching my neighbor’s eye.  He stepped out to
his porch and flashed me a big thumbs up.  
I think the cat had even forgiven me
for my abrupt departure as I sat
back down, still feeling a little winded
but the glow from such an adrenaline
rush still radiated.  Later on I
picked up a quart of milk at the QuickMart. 
The store manager followed me out to
the parking lot.  “Impressive aisle speed,
the best I’ve seen” he said, and he draped
another gold medal over my neck. 
By the end of the day I’d picked up four
more medals, though I was disappointed
by the silver awarded at the drive-up. 
I should have known better than to super-
size.  Back at home that evening I realized
I’d been training for this day my whole life.

*(thanks to where this first appeared)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Worded

Goethe’s Storm Glass

The barometer knows
about change,
pressure fluctuating

like a foot
against the accelerator,
but the animals

also know
and the arthritic ache
in the old farmer’s elbow

and the trees
with their leaves astir
as if to whisper

the weather
from the bottom
of the earth’s teacup.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekly Worded

The Involuntary Housing Market

  “Congratulations, we’ve had a very good offer on your house!”
  “You must be mistaken, my house isn’t for sale.”
  “It wasn’t when we listed it.”
  “You put my home on the market without my permission?”
  “Don’t you want to hear the offer?”
  “Absolutely not!”
  “You’re not even curious?”
  “I should be furious.  My house is none of your business.”
  “Actually, our business -- Reluctant Real Estate -- specializes in properties like yours.”
  “Have you gone mad?”
  “Careful, you’re crossing that fine line between reluctant and belligerent.”
  “Why should I care about the difference?”
  “The buyer often doubles the offer when the seller is reluctant, but belligerence tends to be a deal breaker.”
  “Doubles the offer?”
  “Doubles the offer.”
  “Well, I don’t really want to sell.”
  “That’s much better.”
  “Where would I live?”
  “Now you’re talking.  The buyer must accommodate these concerns.”
  “Are you saying I’d be rich if I sold this house?”
  “Possibly, possibly, we mustn’t look anxious.”
  “I can’t believe I’m still talking to you.  This must be a scam.”
  “Skepticism is the ugly stepsister of reluctance.”
  “Stepsister?  No way, I live here alone.”
  “And loneliness is a lien that must be paid.”

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Worded

Latchkey Cat

As we close the door --
heading for town and a fresh
cup of coffee -- the cat

sits on the window sill
watching us go.  We won’t be
gone long, but for the cat

time is like a neglected piece
of string on the floor,
no wiggle in it anymore.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekly Worded

Not a Cloud In the Sky

Where the hill rises
the corn rows bend
toward the horizon.

A visual trick
because the rows are straight
but still, they radiate

like the spokes of a wheel.
In another month
this field will be a wall

of corn stalks but for now
ten thousand green spikes
stipple the sunlight,

each furrow shining
with the snake oil
of an irrigated rain.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Weekly Worded

backward went I today 

different slightly everything
routines my
likenesses their unlike so
mirror invisible 
saw I thought 
-- no but
me was it 
out inside turned
copy carbon
urge misunderstood
exactly not
memory what
for calls
calls for 
what memory
not exactly 
misunderstood urge
carbon copy
turned inside out
it was me
but no --
thought I saw
invisible mirror
so unlike their likenesses
my routines
everything slightly different
today I went backward

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weekly Worded

Speaking of Home

A round nest 
beneath the Russian olive,
one syllable

of a thousand threads,
bits of fluff
spinning like the center

of a universe.
Stooping to touch it,
I thought to

pick it up, when a shadow
of wings
tussled the air,

so I left it,
knowing last night’s wind
had put it there,

but even so, I couldn’t help
glancing up
to ask forgiveness.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekly Worded

Fatalism Doesn’t Have To Be Depressing

The wind ceased
and the sun set.
All the dust and light

rushing over the horizon
looked as if it might ignite
a waterfall of fire.

How beautiful, I thought,
as another day
of my life ended.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekly Worded

Underground Publishing

  “I had no idea self-publishing could be done posthumously.”
  “None of our authors talk about it.”
  “Why not?”
  “For the obvious reason.”
  “Oh, I see.”
  “Are you interested in submitting a manuscript?”
  “Do I have to before I’m dead?”
  “Not necessarily, but it’s the only way you’ll know if the manuscript is accepted.”
  “Ah, again I see.”
  “It takes time for our authors to understand the process, but in the end they’re happy with the services we provide.”
  “How would you know?”
  “No complaints.”
  “I too am beginning to understand.  Of course, you collect your money from the living."
  “No way around that one.”
  “And if the book sells well?”
  “The author gets every dime.”
  “I see, posthumous royalties.”
  “Exactly, and no taxes.”
  “I’ll have to think about it and get back to you.”
  “That would be fine, but as I tell all our authors, don’t wait too long.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekly Worded

 A Good Night’s Sleep

Believe in anything before going to bed
and by morning

you will already be
eight hours ahead of disappointment.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekly Worded


“Bless me father, for I have sinned, my last confession was six years ago.”
“Good heavens, my son, why so long?”
“Six years ago I bought the truck I’m driving today.”
“Does this have something to do with your soul?”
“Well, it was a good truck.”
“God isn’t concerned with trucks.”
“Six years ago I asked if I could use the church parking lot to sell my old vehicle.”
“And what did I say?”
“As long as I didn’t park it near the main entrance, you said fine.”
“I’m sorry, my son, but I don’t remember.”
“That’s alright, is it still okay?”
“Your soul?”
“No, using the church lot to sell my truck.”
“Good heavens, no.”
“But you attract an excellent clientele.”
“Our parishioners attend services for God’s sake.”
“But the truck is immaculate!”
“How many miles?”
“Less than 75,000, brand new tires and brakes.”
“Original miles?”
“I swear!”
“Careful, careful.  Keep your voice down.”
“Leather upholstery, heated bucket seats, custom paint.”
“We are adjured by God to endure His hardships.”
“Okay, the passenger seat only gets lukewarm.”
“Is that all?”
“The engine overheats if you run the air conditioner while pulling a trailer.”
“Anything else, my son?”
“The spare tire’s shot, but that’s it.”
“Why sell the truck if it’s a good one?”
“I’ve got a family now, going to be looking for a minivan.  $2,000 under book, honest!”
“For your penance, say 50 Our Fathers and 50 Hail Marys.”
“Yes Father.”
“And park the truck in the rectory driveway.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

Weekly Worded

Narcissus and the Snake

In twenty years enough hair and skin
has made it down the drain
that now the flow has ebbed,

and so he stares into the basin
as water seeps through
the swamp he has created.

If only he had a snake
to clear the clog
that habit leaves in his wake,

he’d gladly spend the afternoon
on his knees
dismantling this abyss,

but towel in hand he waits,
wishing the water would swirl
and swallow his face.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekly Worded

30 Days
    (Dharun Ravi Sentenced In Rutgers Spying Case)

In a webcam version of justice
the living and the dead meet
to discuss how the clip
seemed so short

but the consequences drag on,
how the apology
will always be four minutes
too late, how the bridge

can’t be seen in the footage
but it’s there
sure as the unfathomable
water beneath it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weekly Worded

Local Wisdom

    “Getting out of here once in awhile
             is like flossing the brain.”
              – Overheard by a neighbor

Things around here move so slow
sunrise takes an extra hour every spring.

When they roll up main street at five
somebody oughta give it a shake.

Both stoplights are coordinated so that
when one’s red the other one’s thinking about it.

I remember when there used to be
a building right where that building is.

The judge always gets re-elected,
it’s the strangers that go to jail.

I used to shop Wednesday mornings,
now I go in the afternoon.

Don’t call after seven:
I’m either sleeping or not interested.

That’s right,
A.M. or P.M.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Weekly Worded

Breakfast with Dead People

Hundreds of black and white movie stars
    sparkle as customers walk in the door.
        I’m staring in amazement as the cliffs

of hash browns shuffle past my booth.
    Strips of bacon pucker like Marilyn’s lips.
        A surf of black coffee washes over the rim
as cup by cup I glance up at Natalie Wood
    but nobody notices tombstones, not even when
        Audrey Hepburn flounces in and orders a shake,
then follows it with another shake of her own.
    I swear James Dean winked at me  but I don’t
        know why, or even how, his crash
so totally before my time.  Still, it’s early. 
    Waitresses bus tables before the seats get cold. 
        Ronald Reagan glances over his shoulder

from a director’s chair, still confused
    about who’s giving the orders. 
        John Wayne looks as if he’s ready to

remount a dead horse and ride off
    into a sunny-side up, which is why I chose
        the special, hold the toast.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekly Worded

Directions For Giving Directions


Assume you were chosen
because you appear wise.
The salt-and-pepper lightning
along your temples
or the way you stand
with your chin cupped
in the bowl of your hand.


Ask the stranger to
repeat the destination. 
Avoid initial eye contact
and stare at the horizon. 
Nod your head as if
you’ve heard all this before.


It’s common to use your hand
for pointing, but try occasionally
for the sweep, a general flourish
east or west, as if kingdoms
had been mapped in your ancestry.


Sprinkle a bit of specificity
into your explanation, citing, say,
a red barn or an old Texaco sign,
but put a few miles between them.
There has to be hope.


If they thank you and drive away,
it’s important to remember their vehicle,
in case you see it again
returning from the opposite direction.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekly Worded

 Another Victim of a Random Colonoscopy

    “You had another colonoscopy?”
    “A person can’t be too careful these days.”  
    “That’s four in the last five years?”
    “Actually, it’s five in the last four years.”
    “Aren’t the procedures annual?”
    “Yes, all colonoscopies are anal.”
    “I said annual, not anal.”
    "What manual?"
    "Never mind, let's back up and start again."
    “Maybe I need a hearing test.”
    “You don’t need any more medical tests.”
    “Tell me about it.  I didn’t plan on my last colonoscopy.”
    “Then why did you get it?”
    “I had terrible nasal congestion.”
    “And your doctor recommended a colonoscopy?”
    “No, I swallowed colon prep instead of Nyquil, so I went ahead with the procedure.”
    “Why would you do that?”
    “You wouldn’t ask if you’d ever gone through the preparation.”
    “It doesn’t sound like it was worth it.”
    “Actually, it cleared up my sinuses.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekly Worded

Truth In Advertising

    “Congratulations Mr. Joseph, your reverse mortgage has been approved!”
    “My name is Mr. Arthur.”
    “Oh, I thought Arthur was your first name.”
    “No, it’s Joseph.”
    “But on the application here, you listed Arthur as your first name.”
    “I thought my approval chances would increase if I reversed it.”
    “I’m sorry, we need accurate information in order to process your application.”
    “At least you have my name straight, that’s a start.”
    “Is your address still 642 Olive Street?”
    “No, it’s 246.”
    “Mr. Arthur, this is very irregular.”
    “Call me Joseph.  I’m starting to dislike you.”
    “Do you understand what a reverse mortgage is?”
    “You give me money to reverse my fortunes?”
    “It’s far more sophisticated than that.”
    “Okay, basically you charge me a fee for completing this application, then offer me, as your ad says, a new future.”
    “Mr. Arthur...Joseph...we are empowered to provide you with an income to live out your remaining years.”
    “Remaining years?  This isn’t about making me younger?”
    “That, I’m afraid, is not within our powers.”
    “So who’s flipping the hot cakes now?”
    “We never claimed to be able to regenerate life.”
    “And I never claimed not to be who I am.”
    “But you filled out the application with erroneous information!”
    “I only reversed the truth.”
    “Truth reversed is a lie!”
    “So what is a Reverse Mortgage?”
    “Are your calling me a liar?”
    “No, I’m calling you a saint.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekly Worded

After the Resurrection

Outside my window a skinny horse
trims my untrimmed grass.
I don’t own a horse.
I don’t want a horse.
Too many neighbors breed horses
only to hang them like silhouettes
against the horizon.

This one is hungry,
the grass crinkling like cellophane
each time she tears more loose.
I would feed her jelly beans,
solid chocolate bunnies,
all my marshmallow Peeps,
even peel the hard-boiled sun
before it disappears, if she’d eat it.

But it’s oatmeal in a bucket she takes. 
Now she will follow me anywhere
and I lead her back along
her own horse apple trail
to a poorly latched gate
that presides at her overgrazed field.

She leans her long head
against my shoulder
just as a fat moon begins to rise.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekly Worded

And the Frame Wasn’t Bad Either

Donated by an old lady
who got tired of staring
out the same canvas window.
I see trees

still leafless
a sun eternally setting
a signature barely legible 
as if the artist tried to scratch it out.

Not Picasso, not Monet.
I stoop for a better look.
Twelve dollars isn’t much
to resurrect this day.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekly Worded

Rue Haiku
    (for Aeden)
So many bright stars
extinguished along the way
to our mourning

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekly Worded

Polynesian Polyglot 

On the trail to Ho’opi’i Falls
following the Kapa’a Stream
you hike on a crosshatch of roots
through a tunnel of trees.

You have only twelve letters,
five vowels and seven consonants.
If you stumble trying to explain
where you’ve been, where else

you want to go, remember
it’s the missionaries who crafted
a written language out of nothing
but beads and crosses.

Where the water rushes
over the pali and falls into the puka,
trust the heart -- not the head --
to shape a perfect nani.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekly Worded

A Green Rain

The rain itself is not green
but it falls for hours,
soft and penetrating
like a massage for stiff earth muscles.

I am not out in the yard
but standing beside a window,
hands deep in my pockets
watching gray winter

turn green, weeps in pools
as pungent dirt cleaves,
birds like notes
on musical branches.

I’m tempted to step outside,
let the rain wash over me
but it’s still a cold green,
shivers rising from a place

darker than my pockets,
fingers counting 
how many sweet peas possible,
how many hollyhocks.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Weekly Worded

Waimea Historical Society Membership Drive

The sugar mill has fallen to pieces,
its roof open to the rain,
anything sweet has been washed away.

Pictures in the museum
archive how cane was cut and crushed,
how history gets refined from what’s lost.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekly Worded

The Ancestry of Found Things

How unlikely that on four
thousand acres of coffee beans
cultivated beside the Pacific,
between perfectly arranged rows,
a clear glass bead
winks at her from the dust.
She picks it up,
hands it to me.

Before the Kauai Coffee plantation,
pineapples covered the same ground.
Before pineapples, sugar cane.
How long the glass bead
had to wait, who can say.
I raise it to the sun -- a prism
no bigger than a ripe coffee bean
but so golden against the afternoon.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weekly Worded

Reading Poetry to Geckos

On the lanai, a tall glass of relief
within reach, I pretend not to notice
the geckos weaving their spell
                                         around me.
They are crouching
under the chair, hanging up-side-down
from the railing, mounted
like picture frames to the wall
                                         behind my head.
I’m not sure where to begin.
One has climbed to the surface
of a glass-topped table
                            and is staring, as if into a lake.
The bright green one
with a red spot on its back
has vanished.  Just start, I say,
and the book falls open like a flower,
                                                every page trembling.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weekly Worded

Immortality Projects

The meaninglessness of my death looms,
so I craft a wall out of perfectly incompatible stones,
thinking it will outlast me.

To fit each stone in place, its edges must be chipped,
corners smoothed, the hammer and chisel clinking
like a clock in an old bell tower.

Ruts from the wheeled cart will be absorbed
by the grass, and the stones which I pried loose
from where gravity had once deposited them
now have centuries to chide me. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekly Worded

Chat & Mouse

    Before pushing the send button, corrections already surface in his mind.   Maybe he should talk, not text.  Maybe he should just stop over.  God, how he wishes one of his phone’s Gs stood for Genius. 

    She places her phone on the table in front of her, waiting for the tiny screen to light up like a birthday candle.  Would he text or call?  Of course, he said he “might” if he had time before leaving for the airport, and maybe he won’t have time.  Oh wait!  Did she turn it on?  She was pretty sure she had turned him on. 

    He backspaces over every character he typed into the screen until the field looks as empty as 40 acres after a blizzard.  What can he possibly say to fill the void?  But it’s his emptiness that makes him want to say something to her, something deeper than text can express.

    At least wish him luck, but if she types GL he could mistake that for Get Lost.  She doesn’t have to say much, just a few well-chosen words.  Or maybe she should wait.  Wait!  Did the phone just vibrate or did she bump the table with her knee?

    He’s going to call, that’s the best way.  He glances at the time, wondering if she’s up. Would it be romantic, to be jarred out of a dream by his stutter in her ear?  No, he’d better text.  He’s that type.

    She should go back to bed.  A watched phone never vibrates.
    Concise but sincere.  TTFN.  Too corny.  Backspace, backspace.
    As she decides not to waste the entire morning, the phone lights up.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Weekly Worded

Shadows Heard, Not Seen
      (for my brother, Paul, on his 60th)

Sun or shade, the groundhog
wakes wide-eyed from a state
of hibernation as early as January,
rolls over in its burrow and listens
to the dark sounds overhead.

A fox stalks a pheasant through brush,
two deer flinch as the wind
knocks snow loose from a limb
and the owl’s head pivots
like a latch, unlocking its wings.

If a shadow could be heard
it might sound like a shovel against
frozen earth, white with its timpani of thrusts
until the unyielding surface
shatters and surrenders to the light.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekly Worded

Voyage of the Tractor

The farmer tills his field,
waves breaking in his wake,
a linear but rubbled trail bending
to the horizon, a deep tide
churning the roots to topsoil.

This morning below zero,
dew marks each wave
with frost at its peak,
so the land resembles a mad
brown sea with whitecaps.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly Worded

Rose’s Outhouse

Its occupants once sat
sheltered under an apple tree,
an occasional wind rushing in
to slam its splintering door.

Nobody sits there anymore.
When it rains the walls weep.
Crescent of moon, shadow of starlight.
The sun has silvered its boards.

Rose remembers the blossoms
each spring, those firm round apples. 
Lord, how she misses that tree
but never the outhouse.