Tuesday, April 21, 2015

back again

small person
    forward      down
   clipping torrent
new details
                           at 10


My wife, oh
      my wife
   she beat me up
I'm sorry
I'm stupid
I'm sorry
     I had a stroke
                  my birthday
           give me a minute
       I just don't remember
       give me a minute
                     a refill
                     one more week

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Not exactly feeling it tonight

Some efforts, nothing quite hitting the feeling.


sometimes I remember
you like late-night oceanography
documentaries, the things
we did, inexplicable like
goblin sharks and angler fish anchored
in tenacious dark waters but
with a science comprehensive
to obscure experts
with thick glasses and beards

one nuclear affection, ignited
and decaying daily
exponential rates we couldn't outrun
or survive and no number
of late-night conversations
or tender face-to-face touches
could mitigate the disaster of us


let me just be
to lie here, still
to disconnect
from wants, needs
demands from all
outside angles
each moment a new request,
take a number, wait in line
don't absorb
not a single one of these things
actually matters at all
disregard this chaotic world
I'll just take a glance
through Niedecker
I'm not the only
confessional naturalist

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

unfinished things following me
around unaware corners
common and consistent symbols
not specific to the dreamer
shoulds versus wants
some shoulds are non-negotiable
how not why
moving toward forward
tyranny of past inhibitions
faced and overcome
these threatening impulses
belong to some other little girl

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fragmented Bits

Eternal sweet heartbroken
swooning cello's voice wraps
tender gentle fingers soundful about
my shoulders, slides note and note
upward into purely melancholic


birds fly like they are bound two to a tether
always the same direction, symmetrically parting and coming together again
nearly touching
then to fly away again, precise
inverted cuves
unspoken calculus of perfect balanced movement
expressed in unmeasured function


Have to get out of my head.  Is it silly
to feel like writing about happiness isn't good
that I seem to find better words when
the writing comes from a place
of agony and dissatisfaction?
We write the best and truest things
from vulnerable moments.


mountains dearer than my own heart's blood
some part of me shall always want you
when I am gone away

Making up

A Monday

i’m sick to expiring
of relentlessly volunteered
irrelevant bits of

every moment a new “i need”
a new falsetto dissonance
disbelieving number of offspring
and not a care-taker in sight

sudden unexpected craving
for dear old souls
deaf leading the blind
recalling jaunting sagas

every weekday sunrise
a new dread
retrace the circled process

my noose at my left shoulder


flirtatious April breezes
not as warm as you want
sky half-clad in tomorrow's storm
I'll lie still and without people
clamoring, no one asking
needing, claiming, insisting
all the ragged shreds of patient
grace remaining
in little dusty corners

all the calls are responsive
calls of finches scolding
mourning doves chased away
from food and drunken robins
declaiming atop the tulip tree
sun retreats. becomes languorous
a contented fading interrupted
only when the arthritic old dog
decides the birds
can mate another time

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tonight's page

I should be reviewing Algebra

she sits
in the same spot
every night
at the same
blank points
at the same
blank things
(every night?)

we could ask
if there's a point
but look
at her
graying skin
absent eyes
flesh melting
into uselessness
we know

we can judge
we won't be
asking about the razors
ribboning her lungs
and the claws
up her throat
or even the picking
needles pulling
apart her lips
the scalpel in
her brain
is a waste
of our time

we don't see
the knives
in her heart 
we'd be here
for hours 
how sorry she is
her self

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I am kind of happy

Even looking at this half-assed week and a half that has gotten away from all my intentions, I'm a tiny bit pleased with all this original writing.  Maybe because I've had some wine, but I'm rather taken with the fact that there are pages - plural - of things that have come from my stagnating brain.

I hate this poem - looking at old journals was better than writing this miserable confession

I have come to a conclusion.  Being less self-conscious might be a desirable state of being.  There's an early spring night warming pavement with cooling breezes and I'm sweating in front of a computer, thinking about algebra homework I should be doing.  A tiny bit of resentful hatred fizzes beneath my knuckles.  A bit drunk on Pinot Grigio, which is strange enough in itself.  I want to say something about my numerous flaws, how profound the notice of others is, and why it should not matter that I care so very much.  Except I'm a product of my formative stages, and no amount of therapy or self-actualization is going to repair any of these damages.  I am like one standing at the edge of a crowd watching the unfortunate scene fall out, like the seamstress observing a mannequin in robes that needs to be pushed away instead of hugged tight to my side.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Something resurrected


the copper of one’s hometown
is more precious
than the gold or silver corner
of the end of the earth

skeletons of a life full-lived
here a dance hall
here the grocer
the narrow shack where
Mr. Last-Full-Time-Resident
ate his supper every evening
peopled by the muted ghosts
and pacing spectres in periphery
congregating about boney foundations

damp-handed air strokes
living necks
sunny tamarack burial grounds

dry pine-bough shrouds

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Two for the price of one


endless unremembered words
fumbling at phrases I thought to adore
but cannot recall in the next moment
by trying to forget them

would they be worth anything
even if I could find sufficient words
that mean these feelings
I stumble after precision

drunk on iced floral sunshine
a pen pursed between lips and fingertips
a gaze focused between the breezes
to find things to say


imagining you is better than remembering
in the memories I’ve never had
everything you do is right

I listen to love songs
try to recapture emotions I’ve never
believed, maybe never felt
and sometimes wonder if not
forming attachments is my diagnosis
cowardice or inability
circumstances hardly signify
casting about

falling for ideas instead of things

Monday, April 6, 2015

An Aside

A brief word about the poem posted just a few moments ago.

The events are based on a story from a book called Tales of a Chinese Grandmother.  In it she tells how Chang Kung became known as a kitchen god.  This is my first effort at writing something to add to my thesis work.  It feels very rusty and very clumsy to me.  I know this will be reworked several times before I am marginally ok with it.  But finding words is the hard part.  Deleting them is much easier.

There are several shrines in Kam Wah Chung, the kitchen shrine being one of the more unremarkable, not being the shrine dedicated to Buddha, and also considering that during the store's heyday, there was a full temple just up the road.  I like the kitchen shrine for its nod to old tradition and perhaps a touch of superstition.  It also speaks volumes about the character of Ing Hay and Lung On that one of the shrines they would include would be a shrine dedicated to a god who makes sure we are being kind.  By all accounts, both men were unfailingly kind to everyone they knew.

Below is a photograph of the kitchen shrine from before the State of Oregon took over the care of the museum and began restoring the shrines, among other things.  Small, tucked out of the way, just above the cookstove, but obviously well attended, it would have been a useful perch for a god to watch the happenings on a daily basis.

In which our author becomes pedantic

Shrine of the Kitchen God

Tell me what causes you
to throw stones of unkindness
into the stream of happiness,
Naughty Children,
acting like the dogs that slink
and snap through streets.

Old, old one tells the tale, her voice
warm gravel in the dim room,
lying on her warm-brick bed,
a grandchild at each elbow.

A long, long time past
when the Dragon Emperor went up the mountain
each year to speak with the gods
Chang Kung's family lived
a hundred relatives
in one house like a city
fathers, mothers, children and elders
and no one ever argued

Even dogs were polite enough to wait to dine together.

News of the remarkable family
reaches even the Emperor's ears,
with a retinue of the tallest guards
in costumes of blue and red,
scholars in green and blue gowns
embroidered with peacocks,
and finally the Dragon in his sedan chair,
to learn their secret.

Chang Kung and the Dragon Emperor
sip tea from cups as thin as fine paper
and share their wisdom with each other.

"Very Excellent and Very Aged Sir,
I have heard no ripple of discord uttered
in any room of your home."

"Lord of Ten Thousand Years,
you do my house great honor.
It pleases me to tell you this is the truth."

"I should like to know your secret,
Excellent One of Great Age."

Chang Kung smiles at the Emperor
calls forth his servants bearing
the library's four precious gems:
bamboo tablet
ink stick
stone water well.

Brush to stone, brush to ink, brush to bamboo
the Elder writes a word one hundred times.

"Here, O Son of Heaven,
is our golden secret."

"You have written many words,
and only one word many times.
Grandfather, you have written kindness."

Such was Chang Kung's famous kindness
that people began keeping his picture in their kitchens,
where he could collect our kindness from the cook stove's smoke
and make his report to the gods
Each twenty-third day of the twelfth moon
we burn incense, sedan chairs of paper,
and light our firecrackers
to let the Kitchen God know
we remember to be kind.

Old, old one picks up her embroidery again,
the grandchildren have finished nibbling sugared apricots,
and Old Lao Lao wants her nap.
The grandchildren scramble into the sunny afternoon,
their voices ringing in the Courtyard of Politeness.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Late last ditch effort

You're a fiction in my arms
a changeling story, rewritten again
each time you're in my hands
I believe I can write an end

I'm not unhappy
I may be lonely
but I dream of you
sick for what you felt for me

I dislike imagining you
your recollection
is so perfect but its difficult
because you live in my brain
the deceitful creature
will not banish you

You've always been my favorite what-if
a ghost of past temptation
each landscape better remembered
for the distance
unable to forget

I'd write new poems on your skin
given half a chance
but paper is a paltry substitute

Thursday, April 2, 2015

As spring comes to us, we look to the sky

flicker of a pulse
in your throat
the skin below the curve
of your clenching jaw

lips like spring-mad birds
abscond across the stutter
in your stretched-tight skin

a wild hare your heartbeat
feeling my thunderous kisses 
pursue her to ground
but even in burrows
the tempest touches her
slides chilled fingers through her fur

furtive, trembling love - 
how do we discover the words
for what clouds do
the sprawl and scud
congregating to storms
with rainy bellies stretching to the ground

how do we speak of sensation
swallows wheeling
drunk upon the air
the giddy newborn winds

and storms and birds and all
the wildness
fall away, fall silent
human whole contained
two bodies
the flutter of your pulse
the break of the storm

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Poem the First

NaPoWriMo - take the first

Speak to me, O Muse - - - - -
From whatever burning dumpster you inhabit
I call, I -
the fickle and sedentary one
You know, that one who abandoned you
to pant after some crafted thing, some dream
and who shall flee again, for certain
Because with every stroke of pencil
upon flawless paper
my demons saunter up - even now
my doubts sink claws in my mind -
each line
more impossible than its predecessor
until I'm bleeding out in this
paper confessional
black graphite blood
and sorry promises.

A note about what I'm going to post...

I feel like I should explain what I'm doing with my poems before I post the first one in a minute...

I tend to write poems by hand.  When I feel like it, mostly when I'm comfortable with it, I'll post an inadequate picture of the page - or pages - I've used to create the poem.  I feel like my handwriting changes with my mood, and I am experimenting a bit to see if this holds true as I go through the month.  Also, people seem to like pictures?  The poem, as it appears on this blog, is technically the second draft - the first edit.  The written page is my first draft.  Some things will change from paper to computer.

I might doodle.  This doesn't happen often.  My art, such as it is, is juvenile at best.  Please just judge the words.

I am not going to post any sort of preface or explanation for the poem - the post is the poem.  There will be no "afterword" or explanation following the poem.  In another entry I may go back and hash out my own poem if I'm feeling particularly egoistic.  Posts with poems are going to be poem-centric.  Only footnotes, as they might appear in a published work, will appear on a blog post with a poem.


Here we go.

The first day

Probably a new poem tonight.  The one I'm thinking about posting is not related to my "theme," but a poem is a poem, yeah?  Research has begun.  I've got a pile of ebooks through which to sort and a list of things to check out at the library.

I'm thinking about foxes, lately.  I want to read more about them in relation to Chinese mythology.  What I've found so far is interesting - foxes as spirits or tricksters are usually female, and are often cast as "homewreckers," seducing good and honorable men away from their wives.

Glorious morning, when the light throws everything into sharp relief, and all the buds on the branches glow.  Soft, fast-moving clouds with blue-grey middles and shining gold linings; it feels like a rained upon morning without the precipitation.  Things are fresh, things are growing, it's a morning of essential, distilled spring.  I enjoyed Beethoven's final movement of Symphony #9 on my drive this morning.  The exultant chorale erased all worries of being late and any fretting about other drivers.  I believe I indulged in only a few choice phrases concerning the driving ability and ancestry of my fellow commuters.  I love thinking about the timpanist who performs the 9th Symphony.  It seems an entertaining instrument to play - at unpredictable intervals the timpani charges through delicate strings and lifts up soaring vocals and then carries the triumphant brassy marches.

On to a poem...soon.