Feb 1 — Dazzle Gradually, Rock Hill, SC
Feb 26-Mar 1 — 2014 AWP, Seattle, WA
Feb 1 — Dazzle Gradually, Rock Hill, SC
Feb 26-Mar 1 — 2014 AWP, Seattle, WA
I could go on and on about the cliché buzz sort of book signing handshake and who all famous I met at AWP and had a drink with or talked to at a party but it won’t take long it was Aaron Belz Aaron Belz was the most famous person that I met he was handsome kind of unassuming and really made me laugh Aaron Belz ate breakfast with me every day his insights were delightful I kept noticing him wandering around the book exhibition and he’d stop and talk to me and it was really nice of him but the big shocker was when Aaron Belz took me out for veggie tacos and a little carriage ride we stayed out into the night and skipped the big AWP reading I drank way too much with him and then went to the bat bridge and stuff Aaron Belz took my pants off and put them back on several times looked at me in the mirror even winked Aaron Belz is cute but the way he looked at me I could tell that he wanted to touch me in another way Aaron Belz signed his chapbook for me and was smiling the whole time wrote something clever and now I have 30 copies of it in my satchel he is so famous and I could go on and on and on
[Austin-Bergstrom Int'l Airport, Spring 2006]
Men and women should be gentler with one another;
what was it my godmother used to say? Painfully tender.
Men and women should arrive and depart together
and without flourish or flattery—just some small banter.
These aren’t the gentlefolk you might remember
hearing of I’m describing; these aren’t your ancestors.
Men and women in love should appear sister and brother
as much or more than they do ruthless lovers,
flashy, self-conscious, dressed as if by the perfumer,
unwilling to forgive, and in fact, consumed by the anger
that in certain circles passes as love’s necessary other.
It’s not that, being brutalized, one simply shouldn’t bother
to return what has been euphemistically termed the favor,
but to say, simply, always remember the heart of your lover
beating full of hope and sorrow, and that life’s a river
flowing in both directions, it would seem—forever.
I like Jenga in shrink wrap,
Jenga virgin, untouchable,
its blocks impossible to pull,
a tower impossible to raze,
because I’ve had enough
of compromise and failure,
don’t need the drama
in my life of balancing and
balancing, always calculating
what might be safely removed,
and because I’ve always wanted
the whole thing—of a piece,
monolithic if sorrowful
for lack of adventure. I like
Jenga in its box, safe and alone.
I wouldn’t say that you eat books, Dr. Halvorson.
I wouldn’t say that you eat French monks, either.
But there is something interesting about your head,
and not that it is large and rectangular, but that its eyes
and teeth brighten so readily at the mention not only
of books and monks but of morning canyon jogs
and soccer practice, and of your beautiful bride,
and of beers with the boys. There’s an omnivorousness
in your head, Derek Halvorson, an omnivorousness
that is more than just obvious or patently obvious,
yet it is not without a necessary executive steadiness.
I don’t know, man. You’re just a neat guy.
You like to kick it in a new pair of wingtips,
to feel that shine light up your mind and soul,
you like to clop down the hallway in painted klompen,
and I wouldn’t say that you go back to your office
and get out a fork and knife and eat those klompen,
but that’s just the thing! No one knows what you do in there!
So you keep getting older, and—best case scenario—
don’t change a thing about the way you are.
Keep delighting in everything. You’re well-loved, bro.
[Commissioned by subject's spouse, Dec. 2011]
Hey are you going to be anywhere at any point
Lol not really
Not really as in never or just right now
Not really right now and I’m busy this week
Oh okay I am too how about next week
Won’t be around next week
Oh okay are you down to chill at some point though
Lol sure you need to back off a little
Just wondering lol
Oh its okay
Are you going to be somewhere sometime though
Not really I’m going to Spain
I thought you went to school here
It’s a school thing I’m going to be in Spain
Oh okay maybe when you get back if you’re going to be around
I’m going to be around when I get back for sure
Are you down to chill when you get back
That is so weird who works six months out like that
I don’t know I was just wondering
What do you want from me
Nothing really I just wanted to see if you want to hang at some point
You have an interesting way of defining words lol
What do you mean by that
You like to stretch them out and make them weird
Didn’t mean to
It feels like you want something from me
You mean because I’m wondering if you want to hang
Just the way you’re saying it
Over and over like a crazy person
I guess I don’t know how to speak to people
Or think about things
I might be a rock or a tree stump actually
I am going to drink moonlight for awhile now ttyl
Omg you cannot be serious
What about chilling
I no longer want to
May I drink moonlight with you
Just need to be alone
My lip piercing is not closing up.
I’m combing out my dreads.
I have a ten page paper due tomorrow.
I’m getting a tattoo on Thursday.
Beautiful women hang out
with other beautiful women,
that much we who’ve hung out
in bars know all too well.
But the most beautiful women
hang out with one larger
woman and one less attractive
woman—their best friends.
The most beautiful women
look like Andie MacDowell
and do not drink very much
but instead stare meaningfully
in a direction of their own
and laugh genuinely at their
plain friends’ comedy efforts.
Those of us who’ve tried
to hang out with or at least
engage in conversation
the most beautiful women
have discovered that they
serve as reverse-medusas
in the nightclub scene—
feign interest in us, then
change us into humans.
[this and other poems available here.]
based on an email from Uncle Nat
You don’t know
until you’ve played
with the same ball
for three years running,
a ball aged by soaking
and lying in the shade
between rows of corn
all fall, retrieved frozen
in March, and in May
still frozen, hit directly
into your worn
leather glove at short…
stung the palm
pulsing. Why scouts
never appreciated our
handicaps is beyond me.
Sometimes when someone says something crazy
I tell them they’re out in left field.
The only people you can’t say this to are
actual left fielders. People like Barry Bonds.
If Barry Bonds says something that has
nothing to do with the subject at hand
and you tell him he’s out in left field,
he’s going to think he’s doing his job.
He’s going to think he gets paid
to make comments like that, but he’s wrong.
Similarly, yet also slightly differently,
when Barry Bonds fails to follow through,
doesn’t return a call, misses an appointment,
and you say, man, you really dropped the ball,
he’ll take it seriously—maybe for the wrong reason,
but at least he’ll try to do better next time.
One time I left a voicemail for Barry Bonds
and said it was urgent he call me right away,
and he didn’t return my call for two weeks,
and when he did, he said something
that had nothing to do with the voicemail I’d left.
I didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t confuse him.
To compound things, it was the third time
he had screwed up like this. He was out.
As he walked slowly back to the bench,
dramatically unbuckling his elbow armor,
I thought I heard him muttering something
and warned him that he’d better just sit down.
When Jeff Kent came to bat, I joked
that I’d gotten to second base with Barry Bonds.
He didn’t see anything unusual about that.
[Soon to be included in Persea Books' Heart of the Order: An Anthology of Poems about Baseball.]