April's Poems of the Week

 

                                        (E-mail submissions, suggestions, feedback or commentary to: timiimit@mockok.com)
 

April 29, 2012

                                                        FORAGING
 

 

                                                        Sedulous eyes search for what will be
 

                                                        smoothly grabbed by tutored talons,
 

                                                        processed by gut instinct,
 

                                                        the regurgitated consonant and vowel
 

                                                        to keep vigorous
 

                                                        generation of growth.  

 

                                                        

                                                        --if you live, your time will come

 

 

                                                       

 

April 13, 2012

SUNDAY OLYMPICS

Sunday--once the Lord's day, now mine to find Olympic Hot Springs.
Through six years I rummage the map from memory's glovebox:
catch a sharp curve turn-off across from the country store,
pay at the gate, then head straight past the alder grove
until the creek running rounded-stone shallow
leads past the abandoned ranger's house and tower
through oak and pine to a parking lot (fuller this time.)
 
Curved hiking trail leads me to unwind and anticipate
each sunny mud-slide bank, wash-out and fallen fir.
Still think those crumbling asphalt curbs were put there in the 30s!
Mumble the same 'howdydo' to each hiker passed
and take no false turns--straight to the upper-most pool
the lower ones lured me away from hundreds of Sundays before.
 
Zinnias and glads smile down their creamy oranges, yellows and pinks
from a shoulder high bank of moss to that first-formed hot pool.
I guessed they weren't placed there by the hippie teens ooohing their delight.
Gnome, stooped to show his white beard nearly as close to his feet
as his stringy white hair, empties a plastic flower bucket,
sits in the tub's corner offering a direct view of the two teens'
kinky blonde hair and thin, tattooed, pierced young bodies.
 
Undressing and slipping into water they each light up.
They ask if I want some coconut-flavored rum.
"Sure," I say, and ask if they'd camped there.
"Yeah, last night--and people keep it very clean, too!"
 
Old man says he grew the flowers himself,
"from Sequim--come here every Sunday."
"A nice way to go to church," I offer.
"Yeah, and a nice place to get kisses from young ladies.
And I get lots of them. Don't get nothing if you don't ask."

--if you live, your time will come

 

 

 

 

April 5, 2012

World Series
 

Please tell the cook

she will have to rip

tv arms and legs

from broadcast diamonds

as I worship shadow play.
 

--if you live, your time will come

 

 

 

 

April 30, 2011

                                                        Ohio Underworld
 

                                                        Hillside lights drop mazes

                                                        of white poles into a still river.

                                                        They seem to hold up the dark.

                                                        Another world on those streets

                                                        unreels and dissolves under a sky

                                                        of water.  A man I meet

                                                        beneath a bridge asks for change.

                                                        Twenty-five years at U.S. Steel,

                                                        he says.  Above the flood wall,

                                                        a small orange stream trickles

                                                        from a pipe.  I pour some quarters

                                                        into his hand.  He nods

                                                        toward three man in suits:

                                                        I'm like the lights in the river

                                                        to them people.  I leave him

                                                        standing in the runoff.
 

                                                                    --Peter Blair

                                                        (published in LAST HEAT)

 

April 21, 2011

                                                        Blackberries
 

                                                        They left my hands like a printer's

                                                        Or thief's before a police blotter

                                                        & pulled me into early morning's

                                                        Terrestrial sweetness, so thick

                                                        The damp ground was consecrated

                                                        Where they fell among a garland of thorns.
 

                                                        Although I could smell old lime-covered

                                                        History, at ten I'd still hold out my hands

                                                        & berries fell into them.  Eating from one

                                                        & filling a half gallon with the other,

                                                        I ate the mythology & dreamt

                                                        Of pies & cobbler, almost
 

                                                        Needful as forgiveness.  My bird dog Spot

                                                        Eyed blue jays & thrashers.  The mud frogs

                                                        In rich blackness, hid from daylight.

                                                        An hour later, beside City Limits Road

                                                        I balanced a gleaming can in each hand,

                                                        Limboed between worlds, repeating "One dollar."
 

                                                        The big blue car made me sweat.

                                                        Wintertime crawled out of the windows.

                                                        When I leaned closer I saw the boy

                                                        Smirking, & it was then I remembered my fingers

                                                        Burning with thorns among berries too ripe to touch.
 

                                                                                    --Yusef Komunyakaa

                                                        (published in NEW AMERICAN POETS OF THE 90s)

 

       

 

April 9, 2011

					Her Lips Are Copper Wire
 
					whisper of yellow globes
					gleaming on lamp-posts that sway
					like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog
 
					and let your breath be moist against me
					like bright beads on yellow globes
 
					telephone the power-house
					that the main wires are insulate
 
					(her words play softly up and down			
					dewy corridors of billboards)
 
					then with your tongue remove the tape
					and press your lips to mine
					till they are incandescent

                                                                                                --Jean Toomer

                                         www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/toomer/toomerpoems.html#anchor2762825

 

 

April 2, 2011

                                                        Quiet Nights
 

                                                        I go to sleep on one beach,

                                                        wake up on another.
 

                                                        Boat all fitted out,

                                                        tugging against its rope.
 

                                                                --Raymond Carver

                                                 A NEW PATH TO THE WATERFALL

 


April 30, 2010

                                                New Hampshire
 

                                                Children's voices in the orchard

                                                Between the blossom- and the fruit-time;

                                                Golden head, crimson head,

                                                Between the green tip and the root,

                                                Black wing, brown wing, hover over;

                                                Twenty years and the spring is over;

                                                To-day grieves, to-morrow grieves,

                                                Cover me over, light-in-leaves;

                                                Golden head, black wing,

                                                Cling, swing,

                                                Spring, sing,

                                                Swing up into the apple-tree.
 

                                                            --T. S. Eliot

                                                (published in THE WASTE LAND & OTHER POEMS)

 

April 29, 2010

                                                The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls
 

                                                The tide rises, the tide, falls

                                                The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;

                                                Along the sea-sands damp and brown

                                                The traveller hastens toward the town,

                                                    And the tide rises, the tide falls.
   

                                                Darkness settles on roofs and walls,

                                                But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;

                                                The little waves, with their soft, white hands,

                                                Efface the footprints in the sands,

                                                    And the tide rise, the tide falls.
 

                                                The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls

                                                Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;

                                                The day returns, but nevermore

                                                Returns the traveller to the shore,

                                                    And the tide rises, the tide falls.
 

                                                    --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

                                            (published in THE PREMIER BOOK OF MAJOR POETS)

 

April 28, 2010

                                                Blood and Lead
 

                                                Listen to what they did.

                                                Don't listen to what they said.

                                                What was written in blood

                                                Has been set up in lead.
 

                                                Lead tears the heart.

                                                Lead tears the brain.

                                                What was written in blood

                                                Has been set up again.
 

                                                The heart is a drum.

                                                The drum has a snare.

                                                The snare is in the blood.

                                                The blood is in the air.
 

                                                Listen to what they did.

                                                Listen to what's to come.

                                                Listen to the blood.

                                                Listen to the drum.
 

                                                                --James Fenton

                                                (published in OUT OF DANGER)

 

April 27, 2010

                                                The World Book Salesman
 

                                                He holds conversation sacred

                                                though a dying art.  Smiling,

                                                by turns he is part toady,

                                                part Oberfuhrer.  Knowing when

                                                is the secret.

                                                Out of the slim briefcase come

                                                maps of all the world;

                                                                    deserts, oceans,

                                                photographs, artwork--

                                                it is all there, all there

                                                for the asking

                                                as the doors swing open, crack

                                                or slam.
 

                                                In the empty

                                                rooms each evening, he eats

                                                alone, watches television, reads

                                                the newspaper with a lust

                                                that begins and ends in the fingertips.

                                                There is no God,

                                                and conversation is a dying art.
 

                                                                        --Raymond Carver

                                                (published in A NEW PATH TO THE WATERFALL)

 

April 26, 2010

                                                The Rescue
 

                                                When the future seems bleak

                                                And the way is long

                                                And you can't see the end

                                                Cause somehow it'll all turn out wrong
 

                                                When doubt covers hope

                                                And threatens to take hold

                                                And extinguish the light

                                                That wasn't that bright
 

                                                When courage fails

                                                And weakness comes

                                                Until all you want

                                                Is to hide somewhere safe
 

                                                The suddenly You come

                                                And show the way

                                                Like a brilliant star

                                                You shine as the day
 

                                                "Take courage, do not fear!

                                                I will always be with you,

                                                Stand and be brave,

                                                And your life I will save!"
 

                                                                --Esther Steiner

                                                (published in NORTHWEST PASSAGE)

 

April 25, 2010

                                                Track Gang
 

                                                Our shovel blades scrape the gravel
                                                between rails.  Under steady clanks,
                                                grunts, and thuds of dirt, we dig
                                                to expose a rotted tie.  Chug grabs
                                                a new one off the cart.  Yelling, Macho
                                                gandydancer, he carries it on his back
                                                and drops it in the stones.  Its black grain
                                                oozes creosote.  Jack, the track boss,
                                                cusses him, Do that again, you're off
                                                the gang.  Ruin your back on your own time.

                                                Chug's sheepish, his face sun-cracked
                                                and square as the eight-by-eight of wood
                                                that we crowbar, slide and sledge
                                                into place under the stainless rails.
                                                Their cool silver gleams like the coins
                                                we slide into machines, across bars
                                                and under cages of bank tellers.  All day
                                                we bury new ties in the humble dirt
                                                of an hourly wage where they stay
                                                for twenty years.  Together they lead
                                                to every town in America, and end
                                                on the blast furnace trestle.
                                                We're paid to keep it that way.

                                                                    --Peter Blair

                                                (published in LAST HEAT)


 

                                                                   

 

April 24, 2010

                                                On Aging
 

                                                When you see me sitting quietly,

                                                Like a sack left on the shelf,

                                                Don't think I need your chattering.

                                                I'm listening to myself.

                                                Hold!  Stop!  Don't pity me!

                                                Hold!  Stop your sympathy!

                                                Understanding if you got it,

                                                Otherwise I'll do without it!
 

                                                When my bones are stiff and aching

                                                And my feet won't climb the stair,

                                                I will only ask one favor:

                                                Don't bring me no rocking chair.
 

                                                When you see me walking, stumbling,

                                                Don't study and get it wrong.

                                                'Cause tired don't mean lazy

                                                And every goodbye ain't gone.

                                                I'm the same person I was back then,

                                                A little less hair, a little less chin,

                                                A lot less lungs and much less wind.

                                                But ain't I lucky I can still breathe in.
 

                                                                --Maya Angelou

                                                (published in AND STILL I RISE)

 

April 21, 2010

                                                    The Raven
 

                                                    The raven

                                                    is stealing your corn

                                                    old mother.

                                                    The raven

                                                    with his shifty black

                                                    eyes,

                                                    with his shiny black

                                                    beak.

                                                    The raven, old mother

                                                    is stealing your corn.
 

                                                            --Winston Mason

                                                    (published in COME TO POWER)

 

April 20, 2010

                                                    Going Home Madly
 

                                                    I walked the two blocks from the subway down
                                                    the hill toward the mosque beside the new
                                                    Islamic school to my tumble-down
                                                    tenement just off Second Avenue.

                                                    The moon was new, a sliver rising over
                                                    Queens.  The sky was plush as crushed velvet--
                                                    a midnight-blue wedding lapel purpling over
                                                    the East River like the inside of a clamshell.

                                                    The scythe-like moon atop the minaret
                                                    was silhouetted black against the sky
                                                    and I, going home madly
                                                    in love with you, in debt up to my eyes

                                                    and needing succor badly, and repair,
                                                    and almost lost, almost broken,
                                                    with nothing but my ragged heart to offer--
                                                    a warm and bloody token beating there

                                                    in my outstretched palm like some Edgar Allan Poe prize--
                                                    saw the crescent of the real moon rise
                                                    up over the solid dark dome of the mosque
                                                    with its mirror-image sickle moon on top.

                                                    Behind, the East River (oily, black as a bassoon)
                                                    boiled up in its banks like a Cubop tune,
                                                    and in the air, suspended, a double strand
                                                    of lights going over, and Queens, darkly beyond.

                                                    Sometimes this city chokes me up with all
                                                    her jagged beauty, and sometimes, I am made new,
                                                    like tonight, when I walked back up the hill
                                                    and 'round the block again because of you.
 

                                                                                    --Brooke Wiese

                                                    (published in AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD)

 

April 19, 2010

A.M.

Breaking eggs to scramble

I think of rainbows

And the good of promises.

And how it would be nice to go back to bed.

I see a yolk suspended

Through a hole in my hand,

And I wonder if this is how it feels to die.

A fork clatters to the linoleum.

flecks of pepper dive through the air;

A fish flies over the violet moon--

Or was it a goat?

Sadness is very beautiful in the rain.

Coffee, at last, with wisps of steam,

But I wonder if anyone knows what love is,

Or how a flying bird feels,

Or where I put the sugar.

--Sara Zurstad-Abel

(published in POET SPEAK)

 

April 18, 2010

                                                Committal Service
 

                                                The preacher reads from his black leather Bible

                                                while wind blows clouds across the Florida sky

                                                and my step mother stands stiff and dry eyed.

                                                After praying he takes

                                                his plastic bag, two hirds full

                                                of ash and bits of sharp white bone

                                                and walks back and forth,

                                                chanting scriptures, pouring

                                                ash clumps at the base of shrubs.
 

                                                Daddy gray-suedes the preacher's

                                                shiny black shoes.

                                                Wind-swirled, he dusts my arms, my cheek

                                                and I hold my breath

                                                to keep from breathing him in.
 

                                                Between molecules of air he disappears.
 

                                                                    --Nancy G. Lammers

                                                (published in MAIN STREET RAG)

 

April 17, 2010

                                                Twelve
 

                                                That the sum sanity might add to naught

                                                And words fall crippled from slaving lips,

                                                Girls take to broomsticks when the thief of night

                                                Has stolen the starved babies from their laps,

                                                I would enforce the black apparelled cries,

                                                Speak like a hungry parson of the manna,

                                                Add one more nail of praise on the cross,

                                                And talk of light to a mad miner,

                                                I would be woven a religious shape;

                                                As fleeced as they bow lowly with the sheep,

                                                My house would fall like bread about my homage;

                                                And I would choke the heavens with my hymn

                                                That men might see the devil in the crumb

                                                And the death in a starving image.
 

                                                                        --Dylan Thomas

                                                (published in THE POEMS OF DYLAN THOMAS)

 

April 16, 2010

                                                Moving
 

                                                I closed a drawer tonight,

                                                and it echoed.

                                                This place is empty,

                                                with no couch to recline on

                                                or bed to lie on;

                                                only an

                                                unfinished stack of blankets

                                                that makes up as both.
 

                                                Where did things go wrong?

                                                When did we three move on,

                                                so that your redundant babbling

                                                and your abrasive snores

                                                found other ears,

                                                other homes?

                                                I wasnít ready to stop listening.
 

                                                I left a mess on the counter tonight,

                                                and nobody cared but me,

                                                which wasnít all that

                                                different from before.

                                                Goodbye to you;

                                                throw these sisterly affectionate paper hearts

                                                into the recycling boxó

                                                give this green Valentineís teddy bear

                                                to a kid who needs something huggy.
 

                                                If I ever come to this place again,

                                                Iím thinking of slowing down my rate of acquisition,

                                                so that I wonít have to

                                                get rid of so much,

                                                and shove the rest into already-straining spaces,

                                                when the thirty daysí notice is up.
 

                                                Tonight, I turn off the light switch for

                                                no one but myself.
 

                                                                             --Kayla Rau
 

                                                (published in NORTHWEST PASSAGE)

 

April 15, 2010

                                                Security
 

                                                Tomorrow will have an island.  Before night

                                                I always find it.  Then on to the next island.

                                                These places hidden in the day separate

                                                and come forward if you beckon.

                                                But you have to know they are there before they exist.


                                                Some time there will be a tomorrow without any island.

                                                So far, I haven't let that happen, but after

                                                I'm gone others may become faithless and careless.

                                                Before them will tumble the wide unbroken sea,

                                                and without any hope they will stare at the horizon.
 

                                                So to you, Friend, I confide my secret:

                                                to be a discoverer you hold close whatever

                                                you find, and after a while you decide

                                                what it is.  Then secure in where you have been,

                                                you turn to the open sea and let go.
 

                                                                        --William Stafford

                                                (published in THE WAY IT IS)                                               


                                               

April 14, 2010

                                                Cold Mountain Poem 23

 

                                                My home was at Cold Mountain from the start.

                                                Rambling among the hills, far from trouble.
 

                                                Gone, and a million things leave no trace

                                                Loosed, and it flows through the galaxies

                                                A fountain of light, into the very mind--

                                                Not a thing, and yet it appears before me:

                                                Now I know the pearl of the Buddha-nature

                                                Know its use: a boundless perfect sphere.
 

                                                                                --Gary Snyder

                                                (published in RIP RAP, & COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS)

 

April 13, 2010

                                                Kokoschka in Love, 1914
 

                                                It does not matter how a mountain found
                                                its way into these waves.  Perhaps the wind,
                                                perhaps the war.  He turns in predawn light
                                                to find Alma's pale arms held as though bound

                                                to the bedposts.  Her eyes are giving back
                                                their horde of pure darkness as though the night
                                                were hers for good.  He knows those eyes will rend
                                                his flesh unless he paints them closed, the black

                                                buried in swirling seas along with blood
                                                and the morning's first full blue as the ship
                                                their bare bed has become shatters.  The lip
                                                of the whirlpool will be gushing with gold

                                                flecks of foam and silver will mark the clouds.
                                                It is the tempest and she is the bride
                                                of the wind fitted now against his side.
                                                He will do it right if he can just hold

                                                himself together long enough, if he
                                                can disentangle himself before she
                                                feels his absence or a chill in the air,
                                                if he can leave her there without a sound.
 

                                                                            --Floyd Skloot

                                                (published in BITTERSWEET NIGHTSHADE)

 

 

April 12, 2010

                                                My Back Yard


                                                Nature's bitch-vicious ways

                                                aren't welcome in my back yard--

                                                sending her orphan hornets from their

                                                thawed, broken combs to savage my dog's eyes.

                                                That was his shitting corner

                                                in my overgrown yard.

                                                That tree-fallen nest is trespassed,

                                                and not her place to defend.

                                                My dog was born to sturdy his turf,

                                                his right of way.

                                                Now with his eyes drowning

                                                in swollen pits,

                                                his face brings revenge to my blood.

                                                I've got my little red gas can

                                                and an itchy box of matches--

                                                strike anywhere.


                                                            --Matthew Stalter

                                                (published in NORTHWEST PASSAGE)

 

April 11, 2010

                                                I Was Stolen by the Gypsies
 

                                                        I was stolen by the gypsies.  My parents stole

                                                me right back.  The the gypsies stole me again.

                                                This went on for some time.  One minute I was

                                                in the caravan suckling the dark teat of my new

                                                mother, the next I sat at the long dining room table

                                                eating my breakfast with a silver spoon.

                                                        It was the first day of spring.  One of my

                                                fathers was singing in the bathtub; the other one

                                                was painting a live sparrow the colors of a tropical

                                                bird.

                                                                            --Charles Simic

                                                (published in THE WORLD DOESN'T END)

                                                   

 

April 10, 2010

                                                Sonnet 108


                                                What's in the brain that ink may character

                                                Which hat not figured to thee my true spirit?

                                                What's new to speak, what now to register,

                                                That may express my love or thy dear merit?

                                                Nothing, sweet boy, but yet, like prayers divine,

                                                I must each day say o'er the very same;

                                                Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,

                                                Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.

                                                So that eternal love in love's fresh case

                                                Weighs not the dust and injury of age,

                                                Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,

                                                But makes antiquity for aye his page,

                                                    Finding the first conceit of love there bred

                                                    Where time and outward form would show it dead.
 

                                                                                --William Shakespeare

                                                (published in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: THE SONNETS, POEMS OF LOVE)

 

                                                                                                           

April 9, 2010

                                                Someone Digging in the Ground
 

                                                An eye is meant to see things.
                                                The soul is here for its own joy.
                                                A head has one use: For loving a true love.
                                                Legs: To run after.

                                                Love is for vanishing into the sky.  The mind,
                                                for learning what men have done and tried to do.
                                                Mysteries are not to be solved.  The eye goes blind
                                                when it only wants to see why.

                                                A lover is always accused of something.
                                                But when he finds his love, whatever was lost
                                                in the looking comes back completely changed.
                                                On the way to Mecca, many dangers.  Thieves,
                                                the blowing sand, only camel's milk to drink.
                                                Still, each pilgrim kisses the black stone there
                                                with pure longing, feeling in the surface
                                                the taste of the lips he wants.

                                                This talk is like stamping new coins.  They pile up,
                                                while the real work is done outside
                                                by someone digging in the ground.
 

                                                                                            --Rumi

                                                (published in OPEN SECRET
                                                versions of Rumi by John Moyne and Coleman Barks)

 

April 8, 2010

                                                Jawbone Flats
 

                                                Three miles in.
                                                Three miles of pine trees,
                                                cedar trees, ferns and mist.
                                                            The hike alone is worth the trip.
                                                            Breathing in the fresh mountain air,
                                                            lungs filling with cool moisture.
                                                            The fresh scent a medication for the soul.
                                                Squirrels scurry across the path
                                                up a tree to their nest.
                                                A bird calls out to her mate.
                                                            The old mine shaft is on our left,
                                                            to our right a steep drop to the snow-melt river.
                                                            The rusty metal tracks lead into the mines.
                                                            Icy air hits me as I stare in, afraid.
                                                Higher and higher up we go,
                                                the sound of the river getting louder.
                                                            An abandoned miner's cabin, a barn.
                                                            Rusting farm equipment, a plow and a yoke.
                                                            Through the trees the cabins appear.
                                                            Oregon's ghost town.
                                                Alone in this forest,
                                                alone but for the trees, the wildlife.
                                                            Opal pool is there.
                                                            Over a foot bridge, worn with age.
                                                            Deep, clear, cold.
                                                            Jumping in the water stabs my skin.
                                                            Painfully, therapeutically cold.
                                                Ten, twenty feet deep.
                                                You can see the bottom.
                                                The smooth stones sanded with flow
                                                The mossy rocks protect the pureness, the tranquility.
                                                            Hidden from sight, the town sleeps.
 

                                                                            --Christina Tilicki

                                                (published in NORTHWEST PASSAGE)

 

April 7, 2010

                                                Strawberries
 

                                                There were never strawberries
                                                like the one we had
                                                that sultry afternoon
                                                sitting on the step
                                                of the open french window
                                                facing each other
                                                your knees held in mine
                                                the blue plates in our laps
                                                the strawberries glistening
                                                in the hot sunlight
                                                we dipped them in sugar
                                                looking at each other
                                                not hurrying the feast
                                                for one to come
                                                the empty plates
                                                laid on the stone together
                                                with the two forks crossed
                                                and I bent towards you
                                                sweet in that air
                                                in my arms
                                                abandoned like a child
                                                from your eager mouth
                                                the taste of strawberries
                                                in my memory
                                                lean back again
                                                let me love you
                                                let the sun beat
                                                on our forgetfulness
                                                one hour of all
                                                the heat intense
                                                and summer lightning
                                                on the Kilpatrick hills

                                                let the storm wash the plates
 

                                                                    --Edwin Morgan

                                                (published in A BOOK OF LOVE POETRY)

 

 

April 6, 2010

                                                The Swan

 

                                                This clumsy living that moves lumbering

                                                as if in ropes through what is not done

                                                reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.
 

                                                And to die, which is a letting go

                                                of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,

                                                is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down
 

                                                into the water, which receives him gaily

                                                and which flows joyfully under

                                                and after him, wave after wave,

                                                while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,

                                                is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,

                                                more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.
 

                                                                                    --Rainer Maria Rilke

                                                (published in SELECTED POEMS OF RAINER MARIA RILKE
                                                 Commentary and Translation by Robert Bly)

 

April 5, 2010

                                                The Sun
 

                                                Have you ever seen
                                                anything
                                                in your life
                                                more wonderful

                                                than the way the sun,
                                                every evening,
                                                relaxed and easy,
                                                floats toward the horizon

                                                and into the clouds or the hills,
                                                or the rumpled sea,
                                                and is gone--
                                                and how it slides again

                                                out of the blackness,
                                                every morning,
                                                on the other side of the world,
                                                like a red flower

                                                streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
                                                say, on a morning in early summer,
                                                at its perfect imperial distance--
                                                and have you ever felt for anything

                                                such wild love--
                                                do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
                                                a word billowing enough
                                                for the pleasure

                                                that fills you,
                                                as the sun
                                                reaches out,
                                                as it warms you

                                                as you stand there,
                                                empty-handed--
                                                or have you too
                                                turned from this world--

                                                or have you too
                                                gone crazy
                                                for power,
                                                for things?
 

                                                        --Mary Oliver

                                                (published in NEW AND SELECTED POEMS)

   

April 4, 2010

                                                The Old Man With Stars Inside of Him
 

                                                I look at the X-ray,

                                                a shadow of pneumonia

                                                deep in this old man's chest,

                                                and watch Antonio shake

                                                with a cough that traveled here

                                                from the beginning of life.

                                                As he pulls my hand to his lips

                                                and kisses my hand,

                                                Antonio tell me, for a man

                                                whose death is gnawing at his spine,

                                                pneumonia is a welcome friend

                                                who reaches in between his ribs

                                                without a sound and puff!

                                                a cloud begins to squeeze

                                                so delicately

                                                the great white image of his heart.

                                                The shadow advances

                                                every time Antonio moves--

                                                when a nurse positions his body,

                                                when he takes a sip of ice,

                                                when he shakes with a cough,

                                                moist and diminished.
 

                                                I see in that delicate shadow

                                                a cloud of gas

                                                at the galaxy's center,

                                                a cloud of cold stunned nuclei

                                                beginning to spin,

                                                spinning and shooting

                                                a hundred thousand

                                                embryos of stars.

                                                I listen to Antonio's chest

                                                where stars crackle from the past

                                                and hear the boom

                                                of blue giants newly caught.

                                                I hear the snap

                                                of white dwarves coughing, shooting.

                                                The second time Antonio

                                                kisses my hand

                                                I feel his dusky lips

                                                reach out from everywhere in space.

                                                I look at the place

                                                his body was

                                                and see inside Antonio, the stars.


                                                                        --Jack Coulehan

                                                (published in VITAL SIGNS: THE UCLA
                                                 COLLECTION OF PHYSICIANS' POETRY)


                                                           

April 3, 2010

                                                    True Love
 

                                                    In the middle of the night, when we get up

                                                    after making love, we look at each other in

                                                    complete friendship, we know so fully

                                                    what the other has been doing.  Bound to each other

                                                    like mountaineers coming down from a mountain,

                                                    bound with the tie of the delivery-room,

                                                    we wander down the hall to the bathroom, I can

                                                    hardly walk, I wobble through the granular

                                                    shadowless air, I know where you are

                                                    with my eyes closed, we are bound to each other

                                                    with huge invisible threads, our sexes

                                                    muted, exhausted, crushed, the whole

                                                    body a sex--surely this

                                                    is the most blessed time of my life,

                                                    our children asleep in their beds, each fate

                                                    like a vein of abiding mineral

                                                    not discovered yet.  I sit

                                                    on the toilet in the night, you are somewhere in the room,

                                                    I open the window and snow has fallen in a

                                                    steep drift, against the pane, I

                                                    look up, into it,

                                                    a wall of cold crystals, silent

                                                    and glistening, I quietly call to you

                                                    and you come and hold my hand and I say

                                                    I cannot see beyond it.  I cannot see beyond it.


                                                                                    --Sharon Olds

                                                    (published in THE WELLSPRING)

 

April 2, 2010

                                                    The Quest
 

                                                    The day my girl is lost for an hour,
                                                    the day I think she is gone forever and then I find her,
                                                    I sit with her awhile and then I
                                                    go to the corner store for orange juice for her
                                                    lips, tongue, palate, throat,
                                                    stomach, blood, every gold cell of her body.
                                                    I joke around with the guy behind the counter, I
                                                    walk out into the winter air and
                                                    weep.  I know he would never hurt her,
                                                    never take her body in his hands to
                                                    crack it or crush it, would keep her safe and
                                                    bring her home to me.  Yet there are
                                                    those who would.  I pass the huge
                                                    cockeyed buildings massive as prisons,
                                                    charged, loaded, cocked with people,
                                                    some who would love to take my girl, to un-
                                                    do her, fine strand by fine
                                                    strand.  These are buildings full of rope,
                                                    ironing boards, sash, wire,
                                                    iron cords woven in black-and blue spirals like
                                                    umbilici, apartments supplied with
                                                    razor blades and lye.  This is my
                                                    quest, to know where it is, the evil in the
                                                    human heart.  As I walk home I
                                                    look in face after face for it, I
                                                    see the dark beauty, the rage, the
                                                    grown-up children of the city she walks as a
                                                    child, a raw target.  I cannot
                                                    see a soul who would do it, I clutch the
                                                    jar of juice like a cold heart,
                                                    remembering the time my parents tied me to a chair and
                                                    would not feed me and I looked up
                                                    into their beautiful faces, my stomach a
                                                    bright mace, my wrists like birds the
                                                    shrike has hung by the throat from barbed wire, I
                                                    gazed as deep as I could into their eyes
                                                    and all I saw was goodness, I could not get past it. 
                                                    I rush home with the blood of oranges
                                                    pressed to my breast, I cannot get it to her fast enough.
 

                                                                                    --Sharon Olds

                                                    (published in NEW AMERICAN POETS OF THE 90s) 

 

 

April 1, 2010

                                                            Depression
 

                                                            On good days

                                                            he could sift through limestone,

                                                            a quarry of tombstones,

                                                            and parse out soil with his pen

                                                            fertilizing poems with verbs

                                                            like rise and soar, gliding

                                                            on the wings of a whooping crane

                                                            in air so pure the wind burned

                                                            flames across his face,

                                                            or walk through copper mines

                                                            in heat-furnace summer days

                                                            scraping off patina,

                                                            turning everything he touched

                                                            into a bright, shiny penny.


                                                            But on bad days,

                                                            when he would relapse

                                                            into addiction to old memories,

                                                            when the calligraphy of her signature

                                                            signed away from him,

                                                            nouns like pronouncements

                                                            waked over his body.

                                                            It was enough just

                                                            to take a shower and put on new clothes,

                                                            resisting the urge

                                                            of even this simple task,

                                                            when all he wanted

                                                            was to follow that crane into the sky

                                                            for as long as his wings could carry him.
 

                                                                            --Joseph Geskey, DO

                                                            (published in UNCHARTED LINES)

 

                                                               

April 30, 2009
                                                            TASTE OF AN ORANGE UNEATEN
 

                                                            With limbs green as the alders around
                                                            two girls possess a spring wood's coolness.
                                                            Sue switches leaves of a disjointed branch.
                                                            Anne rocks slowly in a woody lap above.

                                                            Ten falls later fingers gallop over metal keys
                                                            scattering timbre of Smith-Corolla,
                                                            while Sue's troupe chases runs of rhythm
                                                            through the house from taut piano wires.

                                                            On twenty digits the two dance
                                                            to passion's divergent choreographs--
                                                            as Anne types stories of anticipation,
                                                            her room-mate divulges melodies of love tasted.

                                                            How much can one expect
                                                            after sampling so much?
                                                            Sue's piano opus drifts by fresh,
                                                            familiar as whiffs of baking loaves.

                                                            Anne's mind tangos not with memories
                                                            but imaginings--wary
                                                            that fantasies born of experience
                                                            might narrow her range.

                                                            "When did you last make love?"
                                                            Cutting through the middle then squeezing,
                                                            Anne extracts sticky juice from her Valencia,
                                                            "Haven't--will it stay exciting even then?"

                                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in Seeds On a Wind Ride)

 

April 29, 2009
                                                            NON-STICK
 

                                                            It's trying for me
                                                            to believe God
                                                            meant to create man
                                                            to invent Teflon.

                                                            Easier for me to imagine the man:
                                                            driving his Lincoln to the lab
                                                            carefully through the museum of suburbia,
                                                            then tensely through city circuits
                                                            (lap belt and shoulder harness hugging securely)
                                                            still chewing uncharred French toast.

                                                            I would like him to pull up a chair,
                                                            raise ruby port with me
                                                            (through blue-grey smoke) to loosening lips,
                                                            and talk about feelings
                                                            that chase after the inventor
                                                            of a space-age totem.

                                                            Does his wife kiss more passionately now
                                                            that food slides freely from the pan
                                                            (each time marveling how
                                                            they ever lived without it)?

                                                            Or curse him for dismissing
                                                            one more sticky process
                                                            fundamental to the intercourse
                                                            of man and woman?

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in Seeds On a Wind Ride)

 

 

April 28, 2009
                                                            SEARCH MY SOUL
 

                                                            Writing need not be a trial.
                                                            There's no reason to take stock.
                                                            Heck, I ignore growing piles
                                                            of crumpled sheets, sure I will lock
                                                            on the scent of words in a while--
                                                            at least my soul's not yet in hock!

                                                            I see with the surety of the hawk
                                                            the small, darting prize in my trial-
                                                            and-error starts--the game I stalk
                                                            as the self-criticisms pile.
                                                            I wish I could at these times lock
                                                            up parts of my mind for a while...

                                                            Young life feels so easy to while
                                                            away: I cough, I scratch, I hock
                                                            lugees at a past on trial
                                                            for providing only the stock
                                                            answers to my questions that pile--
                                                            sogged driftwood barred from river lock.

                                                            You of life-as-combination-lock,
                                                            incredulous, all ask why'll
                                                            you not come down from those high hawk
                                                            gyrations to give life a trial?
                                                           
Before you lead me to your stock-
                                                            yards--just throw my soul in the trash pile!

                                                            I will sit long, risking piles
                                                            and the greying of curly locks.
                                                            I must be still, ready while
                                                            the muse delivers her shocks.
                                                            Any less a steadfast try'll
                                                            land me in writers' laughing stocks.

                                                            Rather climb like Jack his beanstalk--
                                                            cloud-head purpose higher than piles
                                                            of natal drafts with their death-lock;
                                                            Faust whispering all the while
                                                            his vow to soar me above the hawk
                                                            if I quit this error-filled trial!

                                                            Please excuse me while I grab a beer to take stock.
                                                            We'd agree it's a lock that no drafts will pile
                                                            those days I watch the trials of those damned Seahawks!

                                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from If You Live, Your Time Will Come)


               

April 27, 2009
                                                            EMPTY NEST
 

                                                            Against glowing galaxies robins fly
                                                            Undisturbed by compressed knowledge of star
                                                            Formation.  They settle to sing us wake-
                                                            Up tunes from a low but alluring limb.
                                                            While you dream you have heard I have read
                                                            Of dying greed in which ashes are borne

                                                            By winds witnessing, "a goddess is born
                                                            To ride trains coughed into these days and fly
                                                            Past plump fruits blurring to breasts just as red."
                                                            You are wondering if you will star
                                                            In your own show, when in chorus each limb
                                                            Sings with piercing notes that one must not wake

                                                            Sleepy members defenseless in the wake
                                                            Of a goddess shadow faithfully borne
                                                            By our mother earth who suckles the limbs
                                                            Of fruit-bearers.  Those bones prefer to fly
                                                            Past the arms of ornamental cherry, star
                                                            Of that fruitless place that makes you see red.

                                                            Sterile blossoms remand your monthly red,
                                                            Which will not cease and let another wake
                                                            To the paradox of one lifeless star
                                                            Able to energize each creature born:
                                                            Yes, even the denigrated house-fly 
                                                            We tore with childhood joy limb-from-limb.

                                                            With that stretch to reach the fruit-laden limb
                                                            (Berries, bobbing birds and dawn's light all red)
                                                            Trembling fingers transmit fear all will fly--
                                                            Like wild visions of the dead at a wake.
                                                            Sore-gut terrors ooze fear of being born
                                                            A hapless human--not fierce, fiery star

                                                            Giving life unmindful to an all-star
                                                            Cast, including one robin off the limb
                                                            Fluffing and pecking with pride for new-born
                                                            So hungry to gobble squirming worm's red
                                                            Tube into its gullet--the just awake
                                                            Fledgling gets all it needs to learn to fly.

                                                            Dawn's rosy fingers (limbs, like yours, warm and red)
                                                            Suggest you be born again and thus wake
                                                            Already a star, always ready to fly.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Nothing Else Matters)

 

April 26, 2009
                                                            MY PAPA'S WALTZ
 

                                                            The whiskey on your breath
                                                            Could make a small boy dizzy;
                                                            But I hung on like death:
                                                            Such waltzing was not easy.

                                                            We romped until the pans
                                                            Slid from the kitchen shelf;
                                                            My mother's countenance
                                                            Could not unfrown itself.

                                                            The hand that held my wrist
                                                            Was battered on one knuckle;
                                                            At every step you missed
                                                            My right ear scraped a buckle.

                                                            You beat time on my head
                                                            With a palm caked hard by dirt,
                                                            Then waltzed me off to bed
                                                            Still clinging to your shirt.

                                                                        --Theodore Roethke

                                                            (published in The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke)

 

April 25, 2009
                                                            THIS BREAD I BREAK
 

                                                            This bread I break was once the oat,
                                                            This wine upon a foreign tree
                                                            Plunged in its fruit;
                                                            Man in the day or wind at night
                                                            Laid the crops low, broke the grape's joy.

                                                            Once in this wine the summer blood
                                                            Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
                                                            Once in this bread
                                                            The oat was merry in the wind;
                                                            Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

                                                            This flesh you break, this blood you let
                                                            Make desolation in the vein,
                                                            Were oat and grape
                                                            Born of the sensual root and sap;
                                                            My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

                                                                                --Dylan Thomas

                                                            (published in The Poems of Dylan Thomas)                                                           

April 24, 2009

                                                            YOUNG BUD

  

                                                            To me in my city park pew
                                                            the afternoon serves up sermons
                                                            in its procession of temperaments --
                                                            now a spike-haired teen has the pulpit.

                                                            Like petals seen on Discovery
                                                            Channel fast-frames, her motions escape time
                                                            but release no trembling molecules
                                                            to announce flowering essence.

                                                            I sense blossoms pressed dry under pounding
                                                            insistence of culture's nuclear course.
                                                            Rooted angry in Narcissus'
                                                            inverse world, she snubs the universe
                                                            with innocent offer of thorns.

                                                             A pumping pendulum,
                                                            my heart swings from desire
                                                            to usher mature blooms
                                                            to the pulsed urge to hew brambles
                                                            of attitude with my own saws of insight.

                                                            As my pruning has won
                                                            no ribbons emblazoned,

                                                            gardener of the human soul

                                                            I cup my hands to toast
                                                            another hybrid tea.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Nothing Else Matters)


 

April 23, 2009
                                                            WE ARE PERFECT
 

                                                            We are perfect because
                                                            We make mistakes.

                                                            Life is perfect
                                                            Since it's
                                                            Perfectly unique
                                                            --one time.

                                                            Perfect scholars
                                                            Who know
                                                            Knowledge is imperfect
                                                            --most times.

                                                            Perfectly willing
                                                            To learn
                                                            To recognize mistakes
                                                            --sometimes.

                                                            Perfectly willing
                                                            To grant
                                                            Imperfection
                                                            --at times.

                                                            Thoughts perfect even
                                                            with doubt;
                                                            See one gone astray
                                                            --tossed out.

                                                            Words perfect, make us
                                                            Smile;
                                                            Even as we eat them
                                                            --once in a while.

                                                            Perfecting poets
                                                            Writing to see
                                                            Illuminated souls
                                                            --however imperfectly.

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Create That Love That Love Creates)

 

April 22, 2009
                                                            STRUGGLE AT LEAST

 

                                                            Unable to make sense

                                                            of existence,

                                                            struggle at least

                                                            to make some sentences --

                                                            without serving too many!

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from A First Collection of Hai-Choo--Little Sneezes of
                                                                 Profound Dittycism
)

 

April 21, 2009
                                                            CAGED BIRDS
 

                                                            I watched three caged birds released today:

                                                            Like revival-tent feelings--away

                                                            Cooing, We were never really yours.
 

                                                            Soon a walk in the woods grew soothing

                                                            To a body tired of moving--

                                                            Yielding a nap in maple's hard lap.
 

                                                            Rippling a sleepy body with laugh

                                                            Thought-freed visions led back to that path

                                                            Along the familiar way back home.
 

                                                            Surprise and disbelief--even rage

                                                            In finding two birds back in their cage!

                                                            Somewhere in me is the flying third.

                                                                                   --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Collected Words)

 

April 20, 2009
                                                            ARE THE FLICKERS NEXT?
 

                                                            When winged termite lights
                                                            salmonberry body
                                                            on black tar-papered porch,
                                                            two eight week kitties wait
                                                            like family at the airport gate
                                                            for their capricious click
                                                            to cat-and-mouse program.

                                                            Kill it?  Eat it?  Play with it?
                                                            Furry, fledgling hawks circle
                                                            on tense haunches before
                                                            they paw, sniff and rear back
                                                            from innocent insect.

                                                            Waddle, stop, and spread wings
                                                            that catch sunlight to release
                                                            silvered blue and shimmering orange--
                                                            then beauty gets batted back again.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in Seeds on a Wind Ride)

April 19, 2009
                                                            THE FLIRT
 

                                                            I sat frowning into my drink,
                                                            playing with the plastic pink
                                                            mermaid clinging to the brink.

                                                            I sat looking at my shoes,
                                                            felt the hot pink perfuse
                                                            my face, bloom there like a bruise.

                                                            I sat, trying to sound smart
                                                            about music, about art;
                                                            I sat holding out my heart.

                                                            And you, sitting opposite
                                                            smoothly smoothing out the slit
                                                            of your skirt, skewered it.

                                                                                    --Brooke Wiese

                                                            (published in At the Edge of the World)

 

April 18, 2009
                                                            LOSSES
                       

                                                            It was not dying: everybody died.
                                                            It was not dying: we had died before
                                                            In the routine crashes--and our fields
                                                            Called up the papers, wrote home to our folks,
                                                            And the rates rose, all because of us.
                                                            We died on the wrong page of the almanac,
                                                            Scattered on mountains fifty miles away;
                                                            Diving on haystacks, fighting with a friend,
                                                            We blazed up on the lines we never saw.
                                                            We died like aunts or pets or foreigners.
                                                            (When we left high school nothing else had died
                                                            For us to figure we had died like.)

                                                            In our new planes, with our new crews, we bombed
                                                            The ranges by the desert or the shore,
                                                            Fired at towed targets, waited for our scores--
                                                            And turned into replacements and woke up
                                                            One morning, over England, operational.
                                                            It wasn't different: but if we died
                                                            It was not an accident but a mistake
                                                            (But an easy one for anyone to make).
                                                            We read our mail and counted up our missions--
                                                            In bombers named for girls, we burned
                                                            The cities we had learned about in school--
                                                            Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
                                                            The people we had killed and never seen.
                                                            When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
                                                            When we died they said, "Our casualties were low."
                                                            They said, "Here are the maps"; we burned the cities.

                                                            It was not dying--no, not ever dying;
                                                            But the night I died I dreamed that I was dead,
                                                            And the cities said to me: "Why are you dying?
                                                            We are satisfied, if you are; but why did I die?"

                                                                                            --Randall Jarrell [1944]

                                                            (published in Selected Poems  edited by William H. Pritchard)   

   

April 17, 2009
                                                            ENDGAME
 

                                                            Descend like the squabbling starling
                                                            into this bowl thick with cacophony of
                                                            chants and whooped-up-wants--
                                                            fly away, any way, to the ball game.

                                                            Land with the waste wrappers on a turf
                                                            where sounds launch like line drives.
                                                            Ball meets bat (and glove) fickle as rain;
                                                            all called with a barking you've come to love.

                                                            Sink, though the hardwood bench opposes,
                                                            in your seat well above the field of play.
                                                            Betray puer's abandon with ill-suited garb:
                                                            back and tie straight as thin, white lips.

                                                            Search (you know you left them deep inside)
                                                            for diamonds dug and pitched in mounds
                                                            to touch base with curves, sliders, homers,
                                                            or the proud silence of the strike out.

                                                            Imagine you've "put it in the deck in a heart beat"
                                                            to emerge (like Aaron, doffing cap without modesty)
                                                            as the crowd fills you with dense inspiration
                                                            before you return to your dug-out habitat.

                                                            Struggle, as the thirty year old minor leaguer must,
                                                            to live a life where even play needs be vicarious--
                                                            like the video sex that pinch hits for
                                                            the dull surprises of mediocrity.

                                                            Laugh (before you discover no one else
                                                            will do it for you--except as snickering
                                                            behind your back) as you stand on deck
                                                            grimed with the black grease tone of greatness.

                                                            Swing--your power is in your arms,
                                                            your hope is in your power
                                                            just as your life is in hock to your hope
                                                            that your Hall of Fame date is a swing away.

                                                            Strike (as all creatures must sometime)
                                                            not at your wife and kids, but at your life.
                                                            Despite its unpaid bills and endless highways,
                                                            it awaits your clear, authoritative call.

                                                                                     --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Nothing Else Matters

                                                         

April 16, 2009
                                                            WHITE IN BLACK
 

                                                            Magpie's white and black bands

                                                            sail away ruddered

                                                            by wide tail feathers.

                                                            As it lifts up and away

                                                            I perceive the power

                                                            to level life's shrill flights

                                                            with the flaunting pattern

                                                            of strife--light in eclipse.

                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Nothing Else Matters)

 

April 15, 2009
                                                            RECOIL
 

                                                            There's a comfort in days that settle around--
                                                            rather than run like railroad track beyond view.
                                                            I want time coiled as the mid-day snake,
                                                            each part touching each.

                                                            Yet, seated below prized Anaconda skin
                                                            splayed out longer than the two of us,
                                                            I worry over that habitual reach
                                                            to pick up and re-read chapters

                                                            left lying along familiar footpaths:
                                                            repeat performances ready to strike
                                                            with some non-linear momentum
                                                            deceptively their own.

                                                            Like June's rattler-aborted weekend hike,
                                                            fear of future's nuisance still propels me
                                                            back to re-check yesterday's plans
                                                            I thought so carefully laid out.

                                                            One gentle hand squeeze reminds me
                                                            to wait huddled together with past and future
                                                            for either touch or strike of terror
                                                            to goad us step by nerve-jangling step.

                                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in Seeds On A Wind Ride)

 

April 14, 2009
                                                           
PICK YOUR PEAK

 

                                                                                        I seek 

                                                                                      the peak

                                                                                     experience.

                                                                                     Iím piqued

                                                                                     with meek

                                                                                     experience.
 

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from A First Collection of Hai-Choo--Little Sneezes of
                                                                 Profound Dittycism
)

 

 

April 13, 2009
                                                            CONTROLLED BURN
 

                                                            A burning ember

                                                            Now glows brighter

                                                            Fanned by a lover

                                                            Flamed by a fighter.
 

                                                            How big's the pit--

                                                            Can we another in?

                                                            How long'll you play--

                                                            Willing to win?
 

                                                            A soft wind blows

                                                            The misty rain aslant

                                                            As I stand watching, feeling

                                                            A breath or a pant?

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Collected Words)

 

April 12, 2009
                                                            THE TELEPHONE
                                                           

                                                            "When I was just as far as I could walk
                                                            From here today,
                                                            There was an hour
                                                            All still
                                                            When leaning with my head against a flower
                                                            I heard you talk.
                                                            So don't say I didn't, for I heard you say--
                                                            You spoke from the flower on the window sill--
                                                            Do you remember what it was you said?"

                                                            "First tell me what it was you thought you heard."

                                                            "Having found the flower and driven a bee away,
                                                            I leaned my head,
                                                            And holding by the stalk,
                                                            I listened and I thought I caught the word--
                                                            What was it?  Did you call me by my name?
                                                            Or did you say--
                                                            Someone said 'Come'--I heard it as I bowed."

                                                            "I may have thought as much, but not aloud."

                                                            "Well, so I came."

                                                                                            --Robert Frost

                                                            (published in Mountain Interval)

 

April 11, 2009
                                                            THE YEARS
 

                                                            The years?  A charming lot, I say

                                                            Brought presents yesterday, bring presents today,

                                                            And so we younger ones maintain

                                                            The charming life that's led in Cockayne.

                                                            Then all of a sudden the years change their mind,

                                                            Are no longer obliging, no longer kind;

                                                            Won't give you presents, won't let you borrow,

                                                            Dun you today, and rob you tomorrow.
 

                                                                            --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1814)

                                                            (published in Selected Poems Ed. Christopher Middleton)

April 10, 2009
                                                           
GRAVITY DANCE

 

                                                            Yellow-brown maple leaves shudder
                                                            in a Fall field of wild oats
                                                            as if tethered to straw stalks.
                                                            Or, fallen on feldspar table,
                                                            rise to dance with dust devils.
                                                            Those more restless sail off to skate

                                                            scooped rainwater basin
                                                            abutting boulder and tree.
                                                            Energized by hillside decline
                                                            rivulets crash the rock to form
                                                            sensuously smooth corona--
                                                            stone-lipped passage to pool.

                                                            Near rock and tree, in a night voice
                                                            more willful than maple's forced moan,
                                                            coyote warns a full moon.
                                                            Wild dog arches on hind legs
                                                            toward dark's most luminous stone,
                                                            then backs up for a rough rub.

                                                            This trinity--dog, boulder, tree--
                                                            belies discrete modes of demise.
                                                            After granite completes its dance
                                                            called by gravity, it will join tree
                                                            and animal as the earth we walk,
                                                            oblivious to its layered stories.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Create That Love That Love Creates)

 

April 9, 2009
                                                            
SPIDER BITE

 

                                                            Guess a brown spider
                                                            Not recluse enough
                                                            At quarter-to-three
                                                            Got a bare left foot
                                                            When my camper's bladder
                                                            Goaded me to pee.

                                                            The arch stopped throbbing--
                                                            And not located
                                                            For a quick look-see,
                                                            I soon found myself
                                                            Seduced by this mantra,

                                                            Just temporary...

                                                            You've come weeks too late
                                                            To cut this poison out.
                                                            It's seeped to the heart
                                                            Of your pedestal
.
                                                            Lose a foot to venom,
                                                            Pride to surgeon's art?

                                                             The irony sears--
                                                            It's been my job to
                                                            Replace worn-out parts
                                                            For cylindered beasts
                                                            Which just in my life time
                                                            Displaced horse-drawn carts.

                                                            Looking at his pair,
                                                            I can't save your foot,
                                                            Science lacks the clout!

                                                            The doc said firmly
                                                            With muted baritone
                                                            That plain knocked me out.

                                                            Now this handicap
                                                            A far better man
                                                            Might easily flout,
                                                            But at least it means
                                                            I'm left with one less place
                                                            To suffer from gout!

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from If You Live, Your Time Will Come)

 

April 8, 2009
                                                            JOAN US

 

                                                            Suffering is

                                                                   in

                                                                laBor

 

                                                                 soon

                                   

                                                               to give

                                                                 Birth

                                                              to doing.

                                                   
                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                     (from Collected Words)

 

April 7, 2009
                                                            CHANGING SOUND
 

                                                            From the buzzing of Charlie's
                                                            diesel on-site lumber mill
                                                            comes timber to erect
                                                            Charisma and Ember's barn.

                                                            From the buzzing of summer's
                                                            trapped in-doors horse fly
                                                            rise caged Dobermans to scratch my gut--
                                                            as prisoner-mocking window
                                                            flashes June's warm lures.

                                                            From the buzzing of neurons
                                                            in my summer melt brain--
                                                            not barn building, nor trail rides,
                                                            but words unable to break out
                                                            to nourishing pasture
                                                            like the fly head abutting panes.

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in Poetry Motel)

 

April 6, 2009
                                                            DON'T FORGET ADA
 

                                                            Ninety year old Ada walks in
                                                            alone, drops her weight on the orange chair--
                                                            loose skin and wrinkled blouse falling down
                                                            and out with her soft, old belly. 

                                                            Don't want to wear this thing no more!

                                                            Sweat-smudged, bubble gum pink
                                                            fiberglass cast leaves behind her wrist
                                                            with no more thought than last hour's memories. 

                                                            Just want to get back to my weaving...
                                                            Don't remember who put it on,
                                                            when or where.
                                                            Don't bother my mind with
                                                            the day or the President--
                                                            just want this off me. 

                                                            Gotta get back to my weaving.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from If You Live, Your Time Will Come)


 April 5, 2009
                                                            THE SPRINGTIME
 

                                                            The red eyes of rabbits
                                                            aren't sad.  No one passes
                                                            the sad golden village in a barge
                                                            any more.  The sunset
                                                            will leave it alone.  If the
                                                            curtains hang askew
                                                            it is no one's fault.
                                                            Around and around and around
                                                            everywhere the same sound
                                                            of wheels going, and things
                                                            growing older, growing
                                                            silent.  If the dogs
                                                            bark to each other
                                                            all night, and their eyes
                                                            flash red, that's
                                                            nobody's business.  They have
                                                            a great space of dark to
                                                            bark across.  The rabbits
                                                            will bare their teeth at
                                                            the spring moon.

                                                                            --Denise Levertov

                                                            (published in Contemporary American Poetry)

April 4, 2009
                                                            MY MAGICIAN
 

                                                            Someone pulled me out of a tux sleeve,
                                                            Doctor, hanging for my dear life
                                                            At the end of a long white scarf.
                                                            I fluttered over my magician.
                                                            I flew around the hushed theater.

                                                            Saturdays, at nine and at midnight,
                                                            He sawed me in half,
                                                            While I lay in the coffin
                                                            Next to my naked bride.
                                                            I never got to see his face
                                                            Even when the applause started.

                                                            We held our breaths under his hat.
                                                            Two look-alike dummies, we took
                                                            Turns sitting on his knee.
                                                            Through a row of wooden teeth
                                                            We spoke of God the Father.
                                                            Then we vanished in a pack of cards.

                                                            We were terrified and happy.
                                                            One instant he was swallowing fire,
                                                            The next he was spitting it
                                                            With the two of us riding the long flame
                                                            Like a coach into the sunset.

                                                                                --Charles Simic

                                                            (published in Walking the Black Cat)

 

April 3, 2009
                                                                    FACETS
 

                                                          Like taffy, Bob's face--

                                                                 and sweet, too.
                                                       

                                                         Through this sagging mask

                                                                      a voice

                                                                   disturbingly

                                                                deep and steady.
 

                                                              But not so his eyes:

                                                                      roaming,

                                                                     ravishing,

                                                                        ready.
 

                                                               Through that voice

                                                                  could be heard

                                                                   the crumbling

                                                                      of granite

                                                                  sculpted feeling.
 

                                                                 A tinkling passion

                                                                revealing his marvel

                                                                 that he'd ever met

                                                                         his life.
 

                                                                   ---Tim Van Ert

                                               (from Create That Love That Love Creates)

 

April 2, 2009
                                                            THUMB PRINTS
 

                                                            pulpy flesh ink pads
                                                            road maps of lover's body
                                                            roaming lips' resting station
                                                            first whorls and final twirls

                                                            Exploring Rodin in the sculpture garden
                                                            my hand absorbs the chill of bronze.
                                                            My stomach flares as fingers trace

                                                            the swirls his digits formed.
                                                            Signature impressions in green metal
                                                            spin like swirling tide pools.

                                                            These prints are the creator's kisses
                                                            blown from pliant wax to permanence
                                                            with impassioned pouring of molten bronze.

                                                            As my pinches warm and soften formless clay
                                                            I see thumb prints and remember
                                                            how this special earth takes its shape.

                                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from Nothing Else Matters)

 

April 1, 2009
                                                            LIGHT SHOW
 

                                                            Couldn't have been mother's

                                                            Encouragement that I,

                                                            Join the comet light show--

                                                            Flash ice across the sky,

                                                            Then blaze head-long toward

                                                            Solar system's backstage.

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert