Friday, October 14, 2016

Weekly Worded

On Procrastination’s Shelf *

as I keep adding to the top,
what I’ve stacked up
starts to shift
eventually sliding 
to the floor.

Shuffling the stratigraphy
makes it impossible 
for archaeologists
to document any history
of my good intentions. 


*Dear Readers, This blog will be temporarily abandoned by me in an effort to complete a project that has surfaced from the bottom of the shelf. Thank you all for your reading, your comments, and your patience in waiting each week for the next installment. I have been blessed by your support.  


Friday, September 30, 2016

Weekly Worded

Troop 93

scouts camped in the trees
half a mile from a farmer’s cornfield
sending braided campfire smoke
into a watercolor sky 
anyone glancing up
couldn’t help but stare 
at the gilded sunset
tasseled with burning oak
but not the boys
too busy punching sticks into the flame
or their scoutmasters  
sitting in the outer circle
warming themselves
inside and out
discreet with their whiskey 
monitoring how fiercely the boys might spark



Friday, September 23, 2016

Weekly Worded

From the Top 

looking down
it’s impossible to say

with any certainty, 
there’s my house.

Climb higher and clouds 
obscure the town.

Look again
at the dirt road 

switchbacked into 
the mountain.

A plume of dust 
rises like smoke 

from a bridge 
you can't remember burning.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Weekly Worded

Along My Driveway

mushrooms, the size of clenched fists
are punching through, 
loose gravel in a ring

around each domed cap
like a crude fairy necklace
glittering in the moist air.

I stand and stare, amazed.
Yesterday when I drove over that spot
they weren’t there.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Weekly Worded

                                                                    Watercolor by p.smith

Tell the Truth

The sun is not going down,
sinking in the West,
or dropping behind any horizon.

It’s not losing steam,
slipping over the edge,
or pulling any global shades.
  
Copernicus is revolving
in his grave.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Weekly Worded

Before Bed

I reach for a toothpick.
During the search for bits of food, 
I track down lost ideas between my teeth,
fragments of the morning and afternoon. 

I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

Maybe in the evening 
while poking around in my mouth,
I believe I'll find something tender
that doesn’t bleed.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Weekly Worded

Hold the Enlightenment

I ate the salad
without dressing,
swallowed the water

without ice,
refused the cake
frosted with chocolate,

then waved 
as Buddha entered the diner,
motioned him over to sit with me.

He noticed
but chose to focus  
on the waitress who served my meal.

She was thin in the right places
and round where it mattered.
She smiled

more sweetly than I’d ever seen,
as if enlightenment 
could replace a healthy diet.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Weekly Worded

All That’s Left

is chimney and hearth
heated by sun
glazed by moon
chilled by snow and ice
a rich diet of ore timber rock 

the old mill
gnawed to dust
every bit of structure
worn away
fallen into the creek’s gullet

except this pinnacle 
of rough hewn stone
like a lone tooth
with a cavity of soot
focus of its appetite 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Weekly Worded

                   Full Disclosure

The house is for sale.
Its roof and walls, 
windows and floors.
Each nail, each gap 
where a draft slips through.
The entire square footage
inside, and the universe 
unfolding around it.
Even the trees with 
or without leaves,
along with their roots
connecting earth to sky. 
Bugs, burrowing rodents, 
snakes and skunks.
Five shares of irrigation 
and a cloudburst of rain,
freezing hail and snow. 
The invasion of noxious weeds
along with the flowers.
The birds in the morning,
the spiders weaving their webs
on the satellite dish. 
The price includes everything,
more than I can mention,
             more than anyone cares to know. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Weekly Worded

Mending Fence

Like a matchstick accordion 
cut from one sheet of folded paper,
the picket fence stretches across my yard,
illuminating the lawn with a line 
of faded white. I imagine how fresh paint  
might ignite the wood with phosphorescence.
Instead, it’s a railroad track rusted by rain,
a proud set of teeth stained by coffee. 
Who knows how long before it sags or falls.
Sometimes glancing out the window, I see 
the long scar from a suture on my hip
fading but impossible to forget. 

And if I begin, then what?
Scraping and sanding. 
Priming the wood 
followed by two coats. 
Days devoted to this fence. 
Days kneeling on the grass 
muttering curses and prayers. 
Untrustworthy gate, slumping hinges, clumsy latch. 
The aesthetic earth which the fence divides
looks pleasant to me on both sides.
No reason for it. 
Nothing to keep in or out.

It’s a Robert Frost project, something 
that wants a picket fence white, that’s all.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Weekly Worded

Cycle of Shadow

That shadow, like me, just a cloud 
trying to slip over Lizard Head Pass 
and ride the slide into Telluride. 

Minerals veined like bright bruises
trace a history’s unfortunate luck 
where others pummeled into rock, 

then slumped into the dark green trees.
See how those patches of snow, remnants  
from winter, still dapple the highest peaks? 

Once they were clouds too.
Now my backpack strains to be let down.  
I’ll rest and see if this cloud makes it. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Weekly Worded

            Roadside Graves

Only memory remains here,
a painted cross, a spray of flowers
in case the soul is hitchhiking 

beside the road where it came 
hard against traffic merging 
from a different world, 

one where we have so little regulation,
where the rest stops are lightyears apart,
the journey encompassing everything.

Eventually we all lose control, 
dart across the line separating 
fact from imagination.

Let each fatality be marked 
like a pin in a map 
along the rugged terrain of a heart.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Weekly Worded

         Holding Up the Sky

What the trees know
they will not say.
They keep it all inside,

their almanac of days
etched in a calligraphy
of whorls.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Weekly Worded

          A Reunion
                         for Bill Dewey

I was not consciously present,
my body slumped against the passenger door,
trying to remember where you said you'd gone
in the flick of a high beam.
Your grip on the wheel softened,
the car drifted toward
the trees then the centerline.
Headlights coming from the opposite direction.
Something woke me,
maybe a flash, a subliminal tug,
maybe my mother singing her psalms of caution
from a cathedral deep inside me.
It must have been a religious experience,
an epiphany, but I came back at that moment,
reached across the space separating us
and touched your shoulder softly, just so.
You jerked awake, brought us back into our lane.
Where was it you said you'd gone?
I remember we laughed, made a joke
out of squealing tires,
knowing our hearts needed a jump start,
only to ride the last fifty miles in silence.
I'm looking for the right words now.
A half century later
and we've still not spoken.
Where you went that early morning before dawn
I'll never know.
We lived.
Where have you gone?  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Weekly Worded

         Philadelphus Coronarius

Was this shrub flowering
in ancient Rome or in Philadelphia?

Oh, its sweet citrus fragrance
strained by my patio screen.

Mock Orange.
A porch for butterflies to rest,

like my own rocking chair
tilting east to west

through dappled light,
my eyelashes fluttering.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Weekly Worded

        Campground Caution

PLEASE...
DO NOT put trash
in toilets, it is extremely difficult
for the bears to remove,
THANK YOU

Friday, June 10, 2016

Weekly Worded

         Life Lessons

    One thing I had going for me as the speed boat engaged its motor and the tow rope grew taut was my memory as a child of trying to skip stones. I concentrated on smoothly flicking my wrists, hoping that would be enough to finally get me up.

    Then the tow bar got yanked from my grip and the boat swung around so I could pick up the rope again.

    The driver shouted, “Are you sure you don’t want to quit?”
    “Let’s give it another shot” I called back.
    “But this is the fifteenth time you’ve let go, I’ve got other customers waiting.”
    “I didn’t let go, the rope was yanked from my grip by your aggressive driving.”
  
    As an instructor, he had a few things to learn about being supportive.

    “Can’t you start more gently?”
    “Only if I’m dragging your dead body.”

    I decided right then there would be no tip. Readying myself, I gave him the signal, he gunned the engine. The tow rope went on without me, only this time so did the boat. He piloted a straight line toward the opposite shore until the boat was out of sight.

    I remained in the water, bobbing like an carnival apple, strapped snugly into my lifetime-guaranteed vest. I waved, but to no one in particular, afraid that those who count skips might also be skilled at tossing stones.    

Friday, June 3, 2016

Weekly Worded

         Resuscitating the Rider

After a winter behind the barn
buried under boards, tarps,
and a nest of chicken wire
the lawnmower coughs,
then sputters to life,
fresh gas in its tank,
oil like patina slick
against the dipstick,
air cleaner wheezing
like an asthmatic,
tires as soft as the belly
of an aging man,
the blade stirring the dust,
scraping a layer of rust
from under the deck
as it spins, then lurches
having slipped into gear.
This mechanical bull
sire of nothing
but appetite.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekly Worded

            Not What You Eat

You are not
a frozen pizza
waiting in a dark freezer

to be warmed,
nor are you a bowl
of granola,

a grilled chicken breast,
or a potato
twice baked.

You are light waiting
for the right moment
to be visible,

an eddy in a wide
stretch of water,
a breeze

kicking up a devil
of dust before
fading away.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Weekly Worded

           Etiquette

Eagle sits
on her perch, not grand
as an aerie but more
like a porch

at the top
of a dead cottonwood,
surveying the field below.
Cows ruminating

on patches of green,
dog chasing its tail.
Foolish man
shoveling dirt.

Eagle sits,
her circle of light
like water
ripples, 

her white head
swivels, yellow beak
like a crooked finger --
Come to me...

or wait,
I will come to you.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Weekly Worded

           Fight or Flight

Gray like the gravel,
four eggs cached in the driveway
beside the tiny red marker I’ve placed.
The plastic flag flutters in a gust
of spring while the killdeer shrieks,
flopping one wing open
as if she’s crippled:
Come and get me she taunts,
I’m helpless, I can’t fly.
It’s a ruse. I’ve seen it before,
just walking to the mailbox,
but what I haven’t seen recently
is her eggs, cloaked in invisibility
like alien pods from a stealthy bird-ship
circling above the newly budded trees.
I stoop, the mother scolds me again,
a cloud slips away from the sun
and the eggs materialize
like four perfect jewels,
sparkling and speckled, so obsessively
polished by this feathered breast
that stands at the precipice
of instinct, uncertain what comes next.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Weekly Worded

      Meditations on Mona Lisa

Let's say Mona Lisa
always smiled, that her smile
was more captivating in person
than in a book or on a postcard,
but that her poplar wood panel
is still comfortable
after 500 years,
that her oily complexion
hasn’t cracked,
that long museum lines
haven’t tested her patience,
that 9.5 Euros is a cheap date,
that Leonardo isn’t smiling,
that an Italian painting
can speak French,
that a hanging
is different than a lynching,
that at night when the Louvre closes
other paintings are relieved,
that having no legs
may be a blessing.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekly Worded

            The Name Game

    “Jean, your order is ready.”
    “Excuse me, but my name is Jene.”
    “That’s what I just said.”
    “No, you said Jean, but there’s an ‘e’ at the end.”
    “I’m sorry. Jeanne, your order is ready.”
    “There’s only one ‘n’.”
    “I only said one.”
    “No, you stretched it to two.”
    “Okay, Jeane, take your damn order.”
    “And there’s no ‘a’ either.”
    “I didn’t say an ‘a’!”
    “Yes you did. I’m a very close listener.”
    “J-e-n-e?”
    “Exactly.”
    “That’s Jen, not Jean.”
    “I should know how to pronounce my own name, thank you.”
    “So it’s pronounced like a unit of heredity in a living organism?”
    “Except it starts with a ‘J’.”
    “You know what that is?”
    “What?”
    “A bad gene.”
    “I beg your pardon?”
    “I serve ‘em like I see ‘em.”   

Friday, April 15, 2016

Weekly Worded

          Twin Moons

Rising in the east,
reflected by both the window

and the mirror
hanging on my west wall,

the moon
takes a quick glance,

adjusts a crater or two
and winks at itself,

confident that by midnight
it will be up 

wooing the stars, pretending
to know the names

of all the constellations,
looking good.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Weekly Worded


Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

1.     The sun doesn’t actually rise
             but believing it does
                  gets me out of bed.

2.    They say the moon is falling
            toward us but we
                 just keep turning away.

3.    The traditional dental practice
            of pulling wisdom teeth
                 is now considered unwise.

4.    Men and women exude
            a coffee pheromone after
                 the body filters the first cup.

5.    Buddhists believe that both
            chicken and egg
                 meditate with the same mind.

6.    My mother told me, as a newborn
            I had no hair: miracle of miracles, 
                 I am growing younger.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Weekly Worded

         A Cup of Crowdfunding

  “How about a cup of coffee?”
  “Sounds good.”
  “That will be twenty-five dollars.”
  “For a cup of coffee? That’s ridiculous.”
  “You don’t understand. It's a contribution that supports an innovative idea.”
  “Oh, I thought you were just charging that much for a cup of coffee.”
  “I’m not a barista.”
  “I wouldn’t think so at those prices.”
  “Would you like to get involved?”
  “It depends on the idea, doesn’t it?”
  “How right you are, but I've got to warn you, the premise at this point may seem rather
hair-brained.”
  “I suppose it needs more startup money.”
  “Yes, just like coffee, it requires a rich, full-bodied infusion.”
  “I see. So, what exactly is the idea?”
  “Simply put, if enough people buy a theoretical cup of coffee from me, I'll be able to open       
a coffee shop.”
  “Have you purchased any coffee yet?”
  “No, but I've researched where the finest free trade beans are grown.”
  “Do you have a machine with which to roast the beans?”
  “Again, not quite yet.”
  “How about an appliance to brew the coffee?”
  “I’m leaning toward a drip system.”
  “Then I'd be one of your Dripstarters?”
  “Thank you, you're the first person today who has taken me seriously.”
  “You proposed this idea to other people?”
  “Most of them walked away.”
  “Did any invest?”
  “One woman.”
  “She bought a cup of coffee?”
  “She went down the street and came back with one for me.”
  “That was generous.”
  “I thought so too, but when I took a sip she asked for twenty-five dollars.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

Weekly Worded

         The Double Life of Paranoia

There are two of us inside me,
one that does the talking,

one that worries
we’re being talked about,

whispering and insisting
on a closed mouth policy

so secrets don’t get out.
The first asks what you’re up to,

the second suspects it’s more
than nothing much.

And it gets more complicated.
The first one opens curtains,

the second installs blinds,
the first one reads the mail,

the second shreds it.
Both leave the toilet seat up

but one does it on purpose.
We won’t say which,

since accusations find their way
like grit into the grease.

One slips right off to sleep,
the other lies awake

inventing new pins and passwords
should the two ever separate.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Weekly Worded

           Tapestry by P. Smith

 The Wind in the Water
 (For Ed Abbey, January 29, 1927 – March 14, 1989)

Blowing out of the southwest,
the wind this evening gusts,
slaps against the house
like a rafter’s oar
skimming instead of digging deep.

I am sitting in my chair,
re-reading Desert Solitaire
while miles from here the wind
whips the Colorado into a froth
of roiling red mud mixed with thought.

A river’s sediment crossbred
with its sentiment, as if an artery
hemorrhaged in the West
and a tourniquet of common sense
could not contain it.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Weekly Worded

       The Argument

If the brain is in charge
then why do I sneer
when logic sticks its cortex
into my heart’s business?

So the brain sighs,
reminds me it’s only an organ
not capable of wicking
emotions like oil from a lamp.

Seeing into another’s heart
should stay a surgical matter. 
The eyes inspire like cathedral windows
dimmed by the cataracts of age.

So the brain says, Look,
there are limits to what can be
explained, it’s chemicals giving you
those feelings of depression.

Whose bright idea is this,
to send my feelings out
like unsupervised extremists 
circulating through the blood?

So the brain, observing from
its promontory, says nothing,
and the heart, tightening its life jacket,
heads into the rapids.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Weekly Worded

           A Prayer For Our Art

How the words get placed
requires a willingness to listen
to what the words want
as they flicker and waver like flames.
When I glance up, the readers’ eyes
implore me to be brief,
to say what is true
but serve it up wafer thin.
I pick up the pace,
focus on the end
like a finishing line.
I should just stop.
Collect my old Quaker thoughts.
Sit in the silence
while meteors trace destinies
through the heavens.
How pale my good intentions.
Whatever I can say has been said.
They are hymns with predictable refrains.
Go in peace.
May what is true
always be with you.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekly Worded

     Nine Ways of Looking at a Donut

I.

Life preserver of the morning,
I’ll take you with me
just in case.

II.

The hole is both my escape
and my hunger.
I’ll be round as a donut.

III.

In the shower
my skin glistens
like your glazed surface.

IV.

Oh perfect circle!
A donut’s diameter equals
half my appetite.

V.

As my stomach expands
I push a fist into the skin
and kneed the dough.

VI.

Leave half a donut 
and I’ll laugh to think
anyone could save you.

VII.

Milky mush, I chew,
swallow my weight,
a lifetime of anchors.

VIII.

Disco donuts
play their yeasty notes
on my fingers.

IX.

I think I’ll have
just one
more donut. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Weekly Worded

           Questions of Portents

If a stray cat shows up
to sun itself on my porch,
where are the mice?

If birds shun the feeder
even after I filled it,
is the sky agitated?

How can the windows
rattle without a breeze,
or the fork when it

strikes the kitchen tile
ring so beautifully?
Why do ants march single file

when the counter-top is so wide?
Does the well only hear
the darkness welling up inside?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Weekly Worded

          Artistic License

"How’s your photo project coming?"
"Campbell’s soup cans make the best shelfies."
"I think you mean selfies."
"No, I mean what I said. Ask Andy Warhol."
"He’s dead."
"That’s not my fault."
"I’m not blaming you, but how am I supposed to ask if he’s dead."
"You’ll have to take my word for it."
"But I have no idea what you mean by a shelfie?"
"Obviously, it’s a picture of an object on a shelf."
"So can a book be a shelfie?"
"If you take a picture of it."
"And a bottle of aspirin?"
"Sure, why not. But they’ll always be calendar art next to a Campbell’s soup can."
"So a soup can is high art, but other paraphernalia is just stuff?"
"Warhol had a sense of it. He could tell you why."
"He didn’t happen to share his opinion with you before he died?"
"Oh no, I never met him."
"Then how were you able to delve so deeply into his sense of shelf?"
"Once while I ate a bowl of soup he spoke to me."
"Alphabet soup?"
"No, tomato. The soup was the same color as the can."
"And what did he say?"
"He said the proof is in the putting."
"I think you mean pudding."
"No, I mean the proof depends on the placement."
"A true artistic consideration! Now I'm interested. What else did he say?"
"I don’t really know, I was hungry."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Weekly Worded

           Personals

The ad required utilitarian words,
as if my life had come down to
selling the human condition. 

I tried to keep the metaphorical
out, used unadorned nouns,
stock phrases like

Sixty-year-old seeks…
but immediately I craved 
an adjective up front

like Spry or Fun-loving
or even Good-looking.
A few more words might

double the cost but I didn’t
want to come off as cheap,
and an ingenious word might…

Well, as I tried them out,
spoke them aloud to hear
how I sounded to myself,

I suspected they identified
me as stuck up, not the kind
to rouse some strange

woman’s blood, so
I tried for humility, wrote
Lonely or Forlorn

then tossed the draft
in the trash and started over:
Healthy sixty-year-old seeks

happy companion…

but that didn’t work either.
I was actually horny,

looking for a willing woman
but I couldn’t come right out
and say that, could I?

I’ve read those crafted ads.
People writing outrageous things
to get a rise out of the reader. 

I didn’t want my money wasted
being sensational, so I tried for
intriguing but dignified:

Sensitive sixty-year-old
searching for…
but I felt
too much like Charles Darwin

on a quest, and I shuddered
to think of the kind of woman
who saw herself as the Holy Grail.

In half an hour I managed
seven words and only three
were true. I couldn’t simply write

Sixty-year-old…
and I couldn’t just write, Call…
because I might as well have added

…for a good time
, and then I’d be
right back to sleazy. 
I almost settled for primitive,

thinking that if anyone answered
she’d understand the syllables
thumping like a jungle drum:

Man seeks Woman
except me not Tarzan and Jane
not want to sleep with monkey.

And besides, the world’s got
more complicated than
boy meets girl, people

finding each other in all sorts of ways
that never fully surfaced before
in this dialogue called culture,

and really, isn’t that what we all want?
Someone to answer when we
finally stumble on the right words.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekly Worded

       Winter Proof
        (for my mathematical friends)

One           take a      deep breath
Two      dress so        the cold
   won’t nuzzle           your skin
Three          lace       your boots
    back and forth
        so       they’re tight
    but          don’t hurt
Four            prepare for the shock
   of wind chill scraping your cheeks
    by wrapping a scarf
        around your face
            so all that
              remains exposed
                 is  your eyes
Five                    step
into the fresh snow            lifting each boot
so the space where            you put your foot down
stays crisp as a mark of punctuation in a line of thought
Six                        pause
    to look          back
        over         the space
            you have trod

Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekly Worded

        Epitaph For a Journalist

I’m done with deadlines.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekly Worded

       Careless Omnipotence

A customer stepping into the fitting room
encounters a sign that reads, God Is Watching.
He's nervous enough, even with the curtain drawn.
As soon as his pants are off some stranger

will yank the flimsy divider aside and say,
Sorry, didn’t know if nobody was in here.
So he stomps his feet occasionally,
rattles his hangers, discharges a cough

that could be mistaken for a disease.
Three pairs of jeans, three shirts
wait on the hook beside the mirror
but he's taking his time disrobing,

trying to get comfortable with this idea
that no matter what he does nothing is sacred.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Weekly Worded

        New Year’s Eve

I dropped my watch
twice. Nothing broke,
it still keeps time
but I’m afraid
the future heard it
hit the floor.

Pieces of stars
no doubt came loose,
are streaking at this moment
toward our planet
set like jewels in the works
of a slippery universe.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Weekly Worded

  The Love Song of the Internet
 (for T. S. Eliot, 26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965)

For some time there’s been no you or I,
only a cluttered kitchen table with glossy magazines
and a small computer screen
that keeps me plugged into the flicker that passes
for a pulse while the major news networks
sigh and shift their personnel.
I wander down the hallway
from empty room to room, afraid to speak
or ask anyone out.
Should I get online, log in,
not ask who is it?
With millions on the internet
just chat/slash/visit?

And there will be time after people go to bed,
time to click and surf society
left clinging to the web.
Time to open tins of peaches
while the modem does its work,
seven megabits per second, maybe more,
and while I’m waiting shall I then consume?
After carpal tunnel syndrome
turns one hand into a claw
shall I tap my feelings out like Morse code?

[They will say: “How plain his profile seems!”]
But I have upgraded my life from megabytes to gigs.
I have sufficient memory to digress,
to fill my files with faces I have never seen
as I drag them across the ethersphere
and fix them to the screen.
I do not think that they will e-mail me.