Archive for the '1' Category

how fast i ride

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

     RAGBRAI 2014

Like the wind
up clock God made me,
quick as greased

do I careen into a dead
breeze, Allison—
fast and

slow, then fast—
quirky’s my pace. Aaron’s
pace. Cycling historians
one day will

showcase this
shizz at the Aaron’s
Pace Museum. Unique,
and I get there.

Sometimes get there,
sometimes sag,
oft hammer

always safety first,
often crash.
I ride like the broken
hind quarters

of the SUV-
traversed hog,
but they don’t call me
Mr. Porkchop

for nothing. They don’t
call me Mr. Porkchop.
They text me:
I’m on my phone.

The big guy,
I call him Davis,
and he
calls me Rone.

all my springs

Friday, May 30, 2014

“Where words leave off, music begins.” –Heinrich Heine

“Words, after speech, reach / into silence.” –T. S. Eliot

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.” —Alphonse de Lamartine

•  •  •

These observations are either plagiarized or so true that they’ve been formulated at least three times in almost exactly the same way.

UntitledWhile poetry, like all of traditional literature, appeals to one section of the human brain, the language center (Wernicke’s and Broca’s Areas), scientists say “Listening to Music Lights Up the Whole Brain.”

So after words are spoken, silence ensues, ambient sound quietly makes its presence felt, and that’s where music begins. Eliot often uses this image of silence filled with distant sounds, such as in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

     I know the voices dying with a dying fall
     Beneath the music from a farther room.
     So how should I presume?

As for me, I wake up with a head full of ideas as words and phrases, tiny puns and verbal problems, and in the slurry of coffee and pastries and newspaper i become mentally organized. I become task oriented. Sometimes a poem is a task I can accomplish in a day. Usually all I accomplish are more mundane things, such as answering emails and paying bills.

Walter Pater famously said that “all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music”; I believe this to be true. My words aspire toward music, which is why I feel such gratification reading them in public. They taste good to me. But I envy a woman who can take a few stanzas of poetry and sing them to life in a way that makes my whole brain light up. Heaven will be full of singing and praise, the Bible says. We will have music and dancing—whole brain, whole body. Of the City of God, writes the Psalmist,

     Singers and dancers alike say,
     “All my springs are in you.”

•  •  •

quitting for a while

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Need to find my voice again—it’s been shanghaied by hasty cleverness. Feel like social media has been sucking words out of me the way a Dementor sucks the soul out of a fictional English kid.  Goodbye daily chattiness, at least for now.


mother’s day 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

These are the words that spring to mind when I think of my mother. Just about every time we talk on the phone she reminds me that she’s always praying for me. If you understand how screwy and dysfunctional our entire family is, you understand that this is God’s love, not Mom’s—God’s mercy shines through her, and I’m glad she lets it.

From Bob Dylan’s “Covenant Woman”:

“I just got to thank you
Once again
For making your prayers known
Unto heaven for me
And to you, always, so grateful
I will forever be” 


Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You,” Illustrated by Nathan Gelgud

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Originally posted on Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets:

When Random House’s Biographile blog asked the illustrator Nathan Gelgud to contribute something for National Poetry Month, he said “I immediately knew what poet I’d want to cover. Frank O’Hara’s 1964 book, Lunch Poemscould not have had a bigger impact on me than when I picked it up fifteen years ago. Like lots of young men my age, I was in the Poetry section because I was interested in the Beats. Lunch Poems practically jumped off the shelf at me: It was familiar as one of the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, with its immediately recognizable cover design made so popular by Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. But it was also different, bright orange and blue, unlike the more familiar black-and-white covers I knew.”

Gelgud chose to illustrate O’Hara’s much-beloved poem “Having a Coke with You,” his favorite O’Hara poem.  It “seemed like the clear choice for an illustrated piece,” Gelgud…

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the butterfly

Wednesday, April 23, 2014



Large butterfly
fluttering by
the trellis: I name
you “Andrea.”
I had named
your friend “Karen,”
but she got
sucked into
a vent fan.

Andrea, where
is your lunch box?

And why are
you wearing skis?



Funny, I had named
the former owner

of this ungodly huge
cocoon “Papilionidae Rex,”

but he planted himself
in the garden.

I hope you’re next,
Vent Fan Man.



What lesson have we learned?



easter poems

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Look at all the weird seeds—
    plum stones and green beans,
salted sunflower snacks,
    buttered peas, silkweed pods
spilling downy-tufted spores,
    artichoke hearts, apple pips,
maple wings falling like helicopters
    up and down Main Street,
dandelion heads kids blow at each other,
    wheat germ, algae zygospores,
slick brown watermelon seeds,
    seeds that pass from fish to fish,
dog to dog, and deer to deer,
    human seed invisible to the eye—

and look at the bodies that develop
    from those seeds,
geranium, hippopotamus, human,
    the pear which grows unlike a rock,
the spreading mint, ivy and moss,
    the mammoth cedar, the wily goat,
and you will see the splendors
    of God’s holy transformation
of sown ground to bushes of fruit,
    the same transformation
the righteous will undergo
    in the blink of an eye
after having been planted for awhile
    in the earth’s hushed vault.


    “And star differs from star in splendor.” -I Corinthians 15:41

Finally resurrection will not be limited
    to bodily difference but will explode in light,
so that some of us will be stars, some moons,
    some suns and some comets,
consistent with the variety of God’s creation,
    so bright that we would not guess
what kind of cracked, dirty seeds produced them,
    but in such teeming numbers
that we will recognize the original vegetation,
    the birds, creatures of the sea, and livestock
the sheaves of humans, bunched and different,
    living in the huts, towns, and provinces
of the former kingdom which was a shattered mirror
    for that time—when God will give
the Morning Star to each who overcomes,
    and also a new name written on a white stone.

[Composed for Easter, 1996]


Saturday, April 12, 2014

By John Ashbery and Billy Joel


He cuts down the lakes so they appear straight
He smiles at his feet in their tired mules.

She’s got a way about her;
I don’t know what it is,
But I know that I can’t live without her.

He turns up the music much louder.
He takes down the vaseline from the pantry shelf.

She’s got a way of pleasin’;
I don’t know what it is,
But there doesn’t have to be a reason anyway.

He is the capricious smile behind the colored bottles.
He eats not lest the poor want some.

She’s got a smile that heals me;
I don’t know why it is,
But I have to laugh when she reveals me.

He breathes of attitudes the piney altitudes.
He indeed is the White Cliffs of Dover.

She’s got a way of talkin’;
I don’t know why it is,
But it lifts me up when we are walkin’ anywhere.

He knows that his neck is frozen.
He snorts in the vale of dim wolves.

She comes to me when I’m feelin’ down,
Inspires me without a sound;
She touches me, and I get turned around.

He writes to say, “If ever you visit this island,
He’ll grow you back to your childhood.”

She’s got a way of showin’
How I make her feel,
And I find the strength to keep on goin’.

“He is the liar behind the hedge
He grew one morning out of candor.”

She’s got a light around her,
And everywhere she goes
A million dreams of love surround her everywhere.

“He is his own consolation prize.
He has had his eye on you since the beginning.”

She comes to me when I’m feelin’ down,
Inspires me without a sound;
She touches me, and I get turned around.

He hears the weak cut down with a smile.
He waltzes tragically on the spitting housetops.

She’s got a smile that heals me.
I don’t know why it is,
But I have to laugh when she reveals me.

He is never near. What you need
He cancels with the air of one making a salad.

She’s got a way about her;
I don’t know what it is,
But I know that I can’t live without her anyway.

He is always the last to know.
He is strength you once said was your bonnet.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shane, you’re so weird.
At least you’ve shaved
your plaid beard.

I’d worried about you
out on the strand,
un chien Andalou

as they say. Your pipe
emitted foul lies
mixed with night

as you puffed, horny
as a hound dog
born in Borneo

some horrible,
plaid-bearded Romeo.
Shane, you’re deplorable!

idk hannah

Monday, March 24, 2014

If you can title a playlist
I Have Cry in My Eyes
without drawing attention
to another problem you
might have and that

would be a problem saying
things in a grownup way
There Are Tears in My Eyes
perhaps or Sadness Is
Changing Part of My Face

or even I’m Srsly Lachrymose
Ovah Here Dawgs
Hannah so many maturer
options but I do confess
none more Hannahish for I

strike that We and by We
I mean All of us have seen
what your hair tends
to do at times and are
amazed by it we are kind of

in awe so if there is any
way for your saying or titling
things to remain in keeping
with that yes then Hannah
yes the universe says yes


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