Category Archives: SelectedPoems

I Sat Down to Write a Bad Poem

I sat down to write a bad poem,
all skin belt above tight fitting jeans,
all balls and wheel rims and neon on velvet,
a lurid symphony, a runny peach pie of a poem.

I sat down to write a bad poem,
one where Nixon marries Jackie O
and they make a border run in stolen clothes,
and open a wax museum in Juarez with only two people in it.

I sat down to write a bad poem
and all I kept thinking about was you–
twelve years into a five year diagnosis,
still laughing and telling dirty jokes

about the penguin who blew a seal
and taking Tamoxifen and smoking dope
and singing Angel from Montgomery
and I remembered there aren’t any bad poems,
just ones you refuse to finish.

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Lightfall

the first
woman on mars
stands outside
her capsule
watching her mind
run down the hard pan rivers
under oxtail skies
the earth a blue blip
in the sky road
between what she thought she knew
and what can only be sewn
into Kevlar suits
and left for radiation
to make new again

Poem for the Anniversary of 9/11

On the tenth anniversary
of planes used as killing missiles,
I walked ground zero on a sunny,
late summer morning. 

Wired men in plainclothes with weapons dotted the streets
like fearful fungi. A navy gunboat in the east river. Memorial bagpipers practiced their military skirls in Battery Park.

This morning, on the fifteenth anniversary, the memorials, the relatives, the silences.

The pipers have returned. This time they are playing an old Stephen Foster song, Hard Times Come Again No More, calling on Whitman’s grass to finally begin its tuneful work.

“…’tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
hard times, hard times come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh hard times, come again no more.”

Gardenia

When the sky
opens beneath you

and you do not fall,
you hesitate to tell others.

What can you say?

The faint scent of gardenia
in the still air before nightfall.

Garden Bridge

Ivy grows up through the boards
of the garden bridge.

A rabbit runs across the bridge
and stops in front of me.

We stare at each other,
waiting to see who will move first.

The next morning I am not there
and the rabbit doesn’t stop.

Tickets to See Bob Dylan – Summer 2016

Distant
pale
Ginsberg beacon

tight
nodding
aloof

shaggy grey
haired one
please

chant to us
of sweet Melinda
in Juarez

and gravity
and negativity
and give us

a reason
to howl
too

tonight

Midnight Bus

Yawning is like howling–
you cannot see what’s in front of you.
The fire pit devours winter’s oak;
the oak speaks quietly, removing only its jacket.

The cities where no relatives live, only friends,
have left you speechless.
The painted canyons.
A sprig of metallic sage in the pocket.

The emptiness of saints,
the one I thought I was–
rock faces, arms, legs,
a lupine tail wagging in the summer grass.

The cicadas in August,
like a Ravel daydream.
A distant buzzing hunger,
a schoolteacher leaves her meeting early
to rake marks on her lover’s back.
A shudder under the mountains
followed by a grief like no other.

Still, something makes you stay,
to see how the play ends–
without you–
like a priest on a midnight bus
watching the moon make the fields ache.