Twisting the shapes of morning dreams into the shapes of daytime emotions, regret and recourse, reality and renegade rhetoric–set loose on an unsuspecting landscape of innocent emotional vegetation, the omnivorous beast devours the hapless rooted instincts and flitting insect moods without distinction. Its mouth is a crane whose metal jaws indiscriminately hang open like the sifting teeth of a giant whale, sucking in all in its path. The beast is wakefulness, and upon its arrival the world is set drab again, and all the wonders of imagination cower so as not to become targets, so as not to become prey.

We wake and the slates of our minds begin tallying tasks and monotonous chores, the artistry of dreams swept away as so much chalk powder. Chalk powder that accumulates in the corners of our minds until an avalanche of it will bury us in its beauty, and we go mad.

Pirates and their poems

This is silly, but it is talk like a pirate day today. I looked for other pirate poems, and they were mostly crap. (So I decided it was ok to add to the drivel.)

There’s plenty more pirate innuendo where this came from. Some notable lines left unused include: “How’d you like to hang from me mainstay?” “You want to walk me plank?” and “I ain’t afraid ter get me sheets soaked in a storm.”


Treasure Map Tango

I was shiverin’ me timbers when I saw yer open spaces,
yer sandy shores curved in all the right places.

I cried out ARRRR!
In that moment I wished ter be a landlubber.

You was a prize fit for a pirate king;
an ye made me parrot sing.

I took an oar to yer beaches and buried me sword in ter da hilt,
stealing yer treasure without any guilt.

That’s how I found yer booty
‘neath yer spot marked X.

Things I inadvertently learned from her about myself and this poem.

Never give someone space before they’ve asked for it.

Never trust someone when I don’t know their intentions.

Never have sex with someone before I know their intentions.

It is impossible to know someone’s true intentions.

Never trust my own impression of someone’s intentions.

I should not trust someone who doesn’t make time to communicate.

(Even if they are busy, if something is important to me, it should be important to them.)

It is harder to write funny poems than serious ones after a breakup.

It is hard to make a serious poem funny.

Poems without imagery are dumb.

reflections on marble

As always, I assumed
my poems were the best ever written.

Then I saw the reflection of white clouds
in a marble floor, while the sound of a fountain
–water excited by white– accelerated time
and the clouds, moving inches at once
toward my seldom polished shoes
were like fat round soldiers at march.
The sun dipped behind one of them
and the entire day drowned for a minute.

Of course my poems were shit.
They always had been.

chosing a poem

Here’s how I’m doing this, chosing.
Flipping pages at random
until I find one that resonates.

But what book?
Whose pages, lines, words?
Neruda? Oliver? Paz?

As I scoop the cat litter,
I think of them all at once
then each in turn.
They are like friends from different parts of my life–
faceless, I know them.

We need cat food and the cats will go without until tomorrow.

Oliver wins.
I open New and Selected Poems,
beginning at the beginning.
(So much for random.)
One poem in, I’m enchanted.

Second poem,
I think about going back to the first,
but the third… is more… I think… me.

When Death Comes
On page ten–cross reference the index–
This poem is four years old
or less!

But it is imageless, or nearly so,
and the emotion is not the same on second read.

So I continue,
nevermind “an iceburg between the shoulder blades”,
I continue.

So much nature in Oliver. So many poems later,
I return to the beginning of the book.

Rain still patters on my rooftop even though
I normally don’t go for multi-page poems.
It starts on page three with
lightning, “When it hit the tree, her body/opened forever.”

And then prisoners escape, and her father stands
next to the grave of his brother.
His stanza is powerful, then
the teacher’s birthday, then
the fifth stanza, two lines,
“I have heard this music before,/saith the body.”

The body. Saith.
So non-colloquial. So uncharacteristic.
I cringe, remember,
how I had first thought this her early work,
on first read.
But less than four years old!
Well past her pulitzer.

Maybe she knows a thing or two.

And the poem ends on page seven
after drowning in images and images and images
after I remember thinking
the snake is a cleche in poetry.
The conclusion:
“He begins to bleed through/like satin.”
It floors me.
And I’m spent.

Monitor this,

god comes bundled with spyware,
and just like every other self-proclaimed “freeware”,
is no more open source
than Microsoft’s latest OS.

(Never mind the guiltware, nagware
adware and/or crippleware
climbing over the pews
clutching at the spines of
Earth’s first virus.)

That old tome is precompiled
to hide its true architecture.
They want you to run it without inspection
close to your firmware: “Click here
to always trust software from…”

We’re all just spinning
what our motherboards were spinning.
Garbage in, garbage out.

I don’t believe it’s in our bios
to just blindly run
every little command-line commandment
because ‘It’s from the source itself!’

We were meant to edit our own code,
tweak all those jumper settings and
replace a chip or two when they’re cracked.
We just have to take that first step,
open up, and show everyone what we’re made of.

soda pop wisdom

smoky water,
casts a translucent table shadow
ice cubes look like x-rays
round miniature jellyfish
let go of the sides of the glass
rising desperate and fast
to a surface quick, cold
glass with ice, bubbles

novel plot haikus

Inspired by this thread over at the nanowrimo forums, I wrote a couple of haikus about my novel today. Reprinted here for posterity:

tides of memory
assassins waiting in wings
truth revealed in dream

cybernetic brains
the smell conspiracy brings
run from everything


Poetry is fluid,
wet stuff, but hot.
My poetry is lost to me
the way liquid pours from volcanoes.
Once written, it hardens,
fleeing from my memory.
I can see the shapes of words I once knew,
but their meanings are rocks,
and I cannot penetrate them
without breaking them all apart.