Here’s the poem I read at Monday’s “Poets Picking Poets: Poetry and Pastries” event.
You’re Doin’ a Heckuva Job
The current shoves us toward
The wards and tin-roof neighborhood
And jostles hungry orphans as they
Wade across the streetcar tracks
While down on Dauphine pictures snap
And cell phones left on vibrate wake
The tourists fresh from Omaha as
Traffic drowns on Poydras Street
From above we must resemble
A child’s sandcastle half-built
Ramparts crumbling in high tide
Motion of inevitable breach
And I remember when I didn’t vote
When plywood nailed to windows seemed like strength
And councilmen found other pressing needs
As mayors fought for looser liquor laws
We wade upstream to higher richer ground
We stop to help a toothless woman die
Her grandson wails a dirge as we adjust
The lie we tell ourselves in bed at night
And know we own the water at our feet
The children’s dreams that none of us would save
The barriers that we never quite forgot
The shields we always knew would fail
And believed in anyway
I am completely swamped with grading and won’t have time for much new material, if any, until after final grades are turned in three weeks from now. In the meantime, here’s an existing poem from my younger days. Can you tell where I grew up?
For Miss B and Mister L
The August night skims
On a million wings,
Vampires who make love
The moving storm drops
Cloudy pods of light,
Fitful sparks against
Dusty, ancient Mason jars.
The humid night wraps
Tight about the Earth,
A bitter fisted
Salute to her nothingness.
Young boys panther roads,
Search back seats for love,
Dropping fifths and pints
In weedy summer ditches.
Possum smashed to dust,
Blood still fiery bright,
On hellish backroads,
Transfixed in gravel,
Its surprise like a buck deer’s
Round spotlighted eyes.
My life is like
A set of lost
To so many
To others who
Find my life in
The cushions of
Or in pockets
Of your heavy
Drop it in your
Pants until you
Where it will be
Here by popular (well…occasional) request, another poem from my files…rather dark. Thoughts?
Untitled on Purpose IV
Standing on vague borderlands
Foot in each country
Can’t see the landscape
Teetering on a great wall
The wind changing directions
Nearly makes you fall
On one side on the other
The burn ward of hell
Written after a fight with an ex, and the requisite beer binge that followed…
The ex wife screams
Eugene O’Neill at me
In south Rhodesian
I scream at her
A Gertrude Stein For Christ’s
Sake For Christ’s sake For
And neither one
Can comprehend the one
Who’s talking but that’s
Here’s a short one I wrote WAY back after my first divorce. I don’t know if it’s any good or not, but call it a look at one moment in time, lived in another life.
Sometimes I miss you
At night when the lights
Are out and I fail
To see who is not
Here though I still hear
I’m still hoping to get back to writing new stuff soon. I’ve got some ideas for rants and essays on here, and I’d still like to practice creative nonfiction before I try to send any out. In the meantime, here’s another blast from the past, selected randomly. Perhaps it sucks; perhaps it will change your life.
Last night the moon fell.
It exploded in
A field, gouging depths
In the dark landscape.
Nearby, a cold river
Flowed to nowhere else.
Today he fails to
See the blank hole in
The sky. He walks through
Fields of asphalt and
Drinks bitter air from
Cities never miss the moon.
Couching on the grass,
Wrapped around a cup
Of frozen peace, leg
Shot off by dead men,
He collects loose change
And ignores children.
Symbiote from wars
Leeching babies born
When he could stand straight,
He defends his name
From unseen monsters
And dying ideals
When the moon comes up again.
Today I had to take my son and my youngest daughter back after having them at my place during their spring break. I’ve been doing this kind of thing for nearly twenty years, and it never gets easier. This is how it feels.
You wave goodbye as they drive
Away, already mauling video game
Aliens and tapping their feet to
The rhythm of a song you’ve never
Heard of, forgetting their promise to
Look back before they vanish this time.
Or perhaps you sprint madly for the car,
Slam the door and clasp the seatbelt,
Reverse gear down the drive and
Rooster-tail through gravel to the nearest bar,
Leaving them to wave at your taillights
As your façade collapses in their wake.
You cannot betray their belief in
Your stoicism, your ability to take
The separation with blank aplomb.
You must remain an optimist, the
Guardian of their right to devastation.
But you can never cry.
Instead you must spout cheerful platitudes
That echo false in your throat.
They might as well be slogans
Advertising incremental hells:
“Only two weeks” and “next summer”
And “before you know it” and “soon.”
If you say it long enough,
One day you might believe yourself.
I hope all my readers (both of you) haven’t lost patience with my posting some existing creative works here instead of regular blog entries or brand-new stuff. I’m enjoying the time with the kids, and hey, why CAN’T I post some stuff like this if I want? Right? Anyone?
In the barn she floats
And worships motes of dust
Raw and big-boned
Country girl nursed on
Jack Daniels breasts
And corn bread suppers
Nails and virgin beds of
Unspilled milk at breakfast
Falling through her hair and
Never dreaming that
She dreams of pitchforks