POEMS OF THE WEEK

                                                     AUGUST  2013

 

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

    

August 25, 2013

STRANGER

It's true that all the men you knew were dealers 
Who said they were through with dealing 
Every time you gave them shelter 
I know that kind of man 
It's hard to hold the hand of anyone 
Who is reaching for the sky just to surrender. 

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind 
You find he did not leave you very much 
Not even laughter 
Like any dealer he was watching for the card 
That is so high and wild 
He'll never need to deal another 
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger 
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger. 

And then leaning on your window sill 
He'll say one day you caused his will 
To weaken with your love and warmth and shelter 
And then taking from his wallet 
An old schedule of trains, he'll say 
I told you when I came I was a stranger 
I told you when I came I was a stranger. 

But now another stranger seems to want you to ignore his dreams 
As though they were the burden of some other 
O you've seen that man before 
His golden arm dispatching cards 
But now it's rusted from the elbow to the finger 
And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter 
Yes he wants to trade the game he knows for shelter. 

You hate to watch another tired man 
Lay down his hand 
Like he was giving up the holy game of poker 
And while he talks his dreams to sleep 
You notice there's a highway 
That is curling up like smoke above his shoulder 
It's curling up like smoke above his shoulder. 

You tell him to come in sit down 
But something makes you turn around 
The door is open you can't close you shelter 
You try the handle of the road 
It opens do not be afraid 
It's you my love, you who are the stranger 
It is you my love, you who are the stranger. 

Well, I've been waiting, I was sure 
We'd meet between the trains we're waiting for 
I think it's time to board another 
Please understand, I never had a secret chart 
To get me to the heart of this 
Or any other matter 
Well he talks like this 
You don't know what he's after 
When he speaks like this, 
You don't know what he's after. 

Let's meet tomorrow if you chose 
Upon the shore, beneath the bridge 
That they are building on some endless river 
Then he leaves the platform 
For the sleeping car that's warm 
You realize, he's only advertising one more shelter 
And it comes to you, he never was a stranger 
And you say ok the bridge or someplace later. 

And then sweeping up the jokers 
That he left behind 
You find he did not leave you very much 
Not even laughter 
Like any dealer he was watching for the card 
That is so high and wild 
He'll never need to deal another 
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger 
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger. 

And leaning on your window sill 
He'll say one day you caused his will 
To weaken with your love and warmth and shelter 
And then taking from his wallet 
An old schedule of trains 
He'll say I told you when I came I was a stranger 
I told you when I came I was a stranger.

                    --Leonard Cohen

 

August 8, 2013

An Introduction to Some Poems
 

Look: no one ever promised for sure

that we would sing.  We have decided

to moan.  In a strange dance that

we don't understand till we do it, we

have to carry on.
 

Just as in sleep you have to dream

the exact dream to round out your life,

so we have to live that dream into stories

and hold them close at you, close at the

edge we share, to be right.
 

We find it an awful thing to meet people,

serious or not, who have turned into vacant

effective people, so far lost that they

won't believe their own feelings

enough to follow them out.
 

The authentic is a line from one thing

along to the next; it interests us.

Strangely, it relates to what works,

but is not quite the same.  It never

swerves for revenge,
 

Or profit, of fame: it holds

together something more than the world,

this line.  And we are your wavery

efforts at following it.  Are you coming?

Good: now it is time.
 

    --William Stafford

    from Someday, Maybe (1973)

 

August 29, 2012

                                        Good Fortune
 

                                        Our earth is a par-a-dise

                                        --for those who get rolling.
 

                                        --if you live, your time will come

    

August 9, 2012

Rick and Sue's Guest House
 

On the window, partly blocking
images of Oregon's rock rugged
coast, a plastic paste-on cornucopia
proclaims (in July) Happy Thanksgiving
while on the wall to the left
a cute cat tail swings out the clicking
clock seconds--innocent scythe
menacing the plaque placed below it
to announce Christ as the head of this house
AND the unseen guest.

But don't look down at the clear-cut below,
for that's what provides this ocean view.

Turn to the walls around you
and see Sue's photos on the wall.

In the dark of late night man's light
illuminates dung-rimmed rock
still above inky ocean
where clouded sky meets
imagined horizon.

Between me and the windowed wall
stands Rick speaking of his mistakes
which weren't his responsibility
and his accomplishments
which were.

 

                              --if you live, your time will come

 

August 5, 2012  

 

                                                                                 NEAL ARMSTRONG

                                                                                                      "I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks,
                                                                                                                                        
but for the ledger of our daily work."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         -- Neal Armstrong
 

                                                                    I kneel beside my bed
                                                                    head bowed, back bent
                                                                    not to send prayer to Him on high
                                                                    but to see if this is where it went.

                                                                    Dropping to my knees
                                                                    I lose two inches more
                                                                    as I sink into porous loam
                                                                    to plant what I can buy at the store.

                                                                    Fever brings me here--
                                                                    sweaty nightshirt tripping me
                                                                    as I kneel-walk in my delirium
                                                                    to the tub's cool water of mercy.

                                                                    Lifting up from all fours
                                                                    I ache from toes curled tight
                                                                    waiting for just the right moment
                                                                    to pounce on you with all my might.

                                                                    You bid, "Come down to me."
                                                                    And I say, "On my knees?"
                                                                    Knowing pumps through both hearts
                                                                    I do what it takes to please.

                                                                    I tell you then and there
                                                                    my heroes are those blessed to see
                                                                    beyond the lofty, honking geese
                                                                    without rising higher than their knees.

                                                                                  

                                                                    If You Live, Your Time Will Come

 

 

 

IN MEMORIAM: JOHN HENRY VAN ERT, JR -- born September 22, 1958   

        Despite his reminder to us all that "the road to heaven winds through hell" John is NOT a 'tortured

    soul' poet.  Instead, John reveals praise and criticism both as acts of heartfelt love.  John's soul is in the

    room as he shares his intimate vision of love, life and natural beauty.  To hear a man's heart so clearly can only

    make another heart cry with joy -- and loss.  John says what WE also feel--that's the poet-prophet role all

    cultures have needed to heal. 

            Last night, sitting in our backyard looking up to the heavens at midnight, the full moon blinded us to all

    but one of Perseid's show: a huge, blazing swath of sparkling light rushed headlong across the black backdrop--

    and just as suddenly was gone.  "Wow!  That's the first real shooting star I've ever seen," said Larissa, "I guess the

    other ones were just my imagination..."  Exactly how I feel after reading John's poetry.  Please enjoy and share these.

    I will be publishing two per week for the 3 months of August, September and October: http://mockok.com/SEP.htm

    http://mockok.com/OCT.htm
 

                                                                                                                                                Tim Van Ert                                           

       

August 27, 2011

Born of L.A.
 

Bus rolls by.  Cab rolls up

Mustachioed driver drinking from Styrofoam cup

Adjusting his mirror, he shouts from inside

“Just released? I know you need a ride.”

I grin. I laugh. Got one

It’s sweet.  It’s fine. Freedom

I notice, I sense, I smile out loud

Float to the corner and join a crowd

Baby blue Cadillac waits for the turn

Purple haired punker with cigarette burns

Flips off.  Flips out.  Screams

White haired grandma on grandson leans

Mesmerized.  Enchanted.  A Spanish girl

Soft brown eyes from another world

There’s me and Buba, Jose and Pops

One road opens, another just stops

Most times a corner, not today

A crossroad, a dream, produced in L.A.

Some of us make it, we catch our ride

Music turned up, we rock inside

My spirit soars, I forget the pain

Fleetwood Mac, “you must never break the chain”

Nervous, Anxious.  It’s hard to sit

T. Woods from billboard says “just do it”

A journey.  A trip.  A second stop

To a place imagined so close and yet

It’s distant.  Foreign.  Sort of Déjà vu

The sky a hope.  Silver and blue

Freeway.  Trees.  Blur of road

Sights and sounds.  Sensory overload

Joy and fear, force and fact

It’s old and new.  There and back

The buildings.  The cars.  Every place

Charged with tenderness and amazing grace

I think of her, stare at the hills

Sink to the spiral.  Thought that kills

An inmate.  A spirit. Elongated shadow

Tires on tarmac.  I begin to grow

A boy.  A man.  Seems like yesterday

Life’s a picture.  A movie.  Produced in L.A.
 

                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

August 23, 2011

GARDENS ATOMIC
 

THERE WAS UPON THE EARTH

A DISTANT TREMBLE THAT WORRIED

BOTH INNOCENT AND WISE

WHO HAD BEEN CALLED TO ASSEMBLE
 

IN THE TOWNS, CHURCH CHOIRS SANG

AS THE GOOD BOOK LAY OPEN

UNAWARE, UNREAD AS THUNDER RANG

AND THEY, SHAMED, TURNED AWAY

THEIR COLLECTIVE HEAD

                                                     

WHILE DEATH, INCONSIDERATE, PONDERING

NEITHER RIGHT OR WRONG TOLLED THROUGH

DUSTY DAWNS PRECONCEIVED IN

THE ICY DARK OF POLITICAL CON

FLASHING DESERT SAND, SACRIFICING INNOCENT LAMBS
 

IN ITS WIND THE TREES WERE ERASED

WHITE HOT ECHOES, THESE THAT DID NOT STOP

OR BEGIN WITH THE RISING SUN

BUT NEVERTHELESS CROSSED PACIFIC WATER

TO CHALLENGE AND TOY WITH SLAUGHTER
 

SHINING KNIGHTS CALLED THE MOURNING

OVER AND OVER TILL THE WARNING

GREW STILL AND WE AS A PEOPLE

GREW COLDER, IN AWE WE FROZE

PAWNS OF AN ATOMIC SCAM
 

IN THE HOLY NAME OF WAR

ALL BOWED, PRETENDING PEACE

WHILE MONEY HUNGRY AND

BLOODTHIRSTY WARRIORS DESIRED MORE

AND ALL HELL WAS UNLEASHED
 

IN CHAIN REACTION, GLOBAL HYSTERIA

EN MASSE WE BLAME IT ON THEM

THEM ON US, STOIC SCIENTIST

TETHERED PUPPETS, UNABLE TO FATHOM

THEIR MUSHROOMS OF ARMAGEDDON
 

                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

August 18, 2011

                                        Morning Light
 

                                        You will creep in silent shadows

                                        Of all those past

                                        Daring not to disturb

                                        The crowd as they chant unknown elegies

                                        For your sons and daughters
 

                                        Raise your head, unfold your arms

                                        Lift you voice above the crowd

                                        Through your conscience you have come to know

                                        The sound of tomorrow awakening
 

                                        A lark sang

                                        You were awakened from your slumber

                                        Were not the trees dancing in the wind?

                                        How could you not listen to the roaring sound

                                        Of the eagle soaring effortlessly

                                        Above your eyes?
 

                                        Let your tongue taste the rumble

                                        Of these threatening skies

                                        Thunder and lightning bring tears to my eyes

                                        Shedding no tears you look away
 

                                        Will you ever know the serenity of peaceful skies?

                                        Let the clouds part

                                        And the morning star will spread its light

                                        On this desperate world
 

                                        For it takes no more light

                                        To bring hope

                                        Than a whole, minute flash

                                        Let the morning light dance in your eyes

                                        For it may be your destiny

                                        To dance with it
 

                                                                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

                                                     UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

 

August 13, 2011
 

                                                Letters from Within
 

                                                There is a certain place between agony and ecstasy

                                                Although the description sometimes worries me

                                                Not for loss of words or a particular stunted emotion

                                                It’s just a void blurred by time’s inscription

                                                Upon a heart in constant motion

                                                Searching for home, wandering alone

                                                On the outside looking in

                                                Reflecting these letters from within
 

                                                Here under mounds of debris heaped upon sweet liberty

                                                Lies a sadness that is all on me

                                                Being sorry makes it no less a reality

                                                And tears that have fallen empty

                                                Echo the regrets that fill the pool

                                                Neither half empty nor half full

                                                Into the night, a terrible lull

                                                Between here and there, now and then

                                                Where memories glide and ride the wind

                                                To awake each morning as letters from within
 

                                                As I look past the now, into the tomorrows

                                                Beyond the sorrows that encapsulated my world

                                                Past the extreme loss of control

                                                Freed to experience new goals

                                                I pause, what is my role?

                                                Will I grow?  Which way do I go?

                                                To the heart, my heart, I must listen

                                                Seek contentment, find ambition

                                                Merge intelligence with intuition

                                                And read aloud the letters from within
 

                                                It is not like I can just say goodbye

                                                All alone I think that I

                                                Have never felt solitude so grand

                                                As I explore the private land

                                                With its roots in the child

                                                And its branches reaching to the man

                                                Stretching outward my thoughts expand

                                                Out across skies both blue and grey

                                                Beyond the night and through the day

                                                To touch those beautiful green eyes

                                                In daydreams and sweet lullabies

                                                Choreographed in letters from within
 

                                                Seems so strange sometimes

                                                As I sit quietly and talk in rhyme

                                                Moments suspend, becoming longer where

                                                Time fleets unaware like a leaf in the wind, gently

                                                The essence of partnership endures silently

                                                Revealing me like nothing else can

                                                Someday maybe you too will understand

                                                The depth of its simplicity

                                                Through emotions bared completely

                                                We’ll recall the way back when

                                                In these letters from within
 

                                                Can it be that two entirely separate things

                                                Are one at the same time?

                                                Through tears we sing, while falling we climb

                                                All paths lead to this

                                                In companionship we endure the abyss

                                                Separation then becomes fusion

                                                Girl this is no illusion

                                                The tempest rages under peaceful skies

                                                In those eyes, your eyes again

                                                Invite these letters from within
 

                                                Of all the things I have meant to say

                                                That which springs eternal

                                                And gives wings to our mortal souls

                                                Whether it be a man looking back upon his cages

                                                Or a young girl staring intently

                                                At the image in the mirror

                                                They are but letters on the pages

                                                In a tale of kindred hearts

                                                Four letters I’m thinking of

                                                In a story told again and again

                                                L,o,v,e,

                                                Burning letters from within
 

                                                                        John Henry Van Ert, Jr
 

                                                UNPUBLISHED COLLECTION

 

===========================================================================================================================

 

August 9, 2011

                                                    For Kurt
                                   
                                                            my sister came to visit
                                                                                                                                    Paul Simon arrived in the mail
                                                                                                                                    and I began to cry
                                                                                                                                    a poem drifting down through consciousness

 

                                                    Kaiser, offer us up

                                                    your round bitter wafer:

                                                    small mouthful of medical hell.
 

                                                    I admit I bit.
 

                                                    But now I spit Pautzke's red egg --

                                                    bait floating by.

                                                    The hatchery trout mind

                                                    instinctively seizes a moment

                                                    innocent of heaven's promises

                                                    to those who behave.
 

                                                                    Tim Van Ert

                                                    IF YOU LIVE YOUR TIME WILL COME

 

August 6, 2011

                                Part of Eve's Discussion
 

                                It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand,

                                and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still

                                and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when

                                a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,

                                very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you  

                                your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like

                                the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say,

                                it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only

                                all the time.

                                                                                Marie Howe

                                                        THE GOOD THIEF

                              

August 1, 2011

                                            The Promise
 

                                            If you could just lose weight

                                            your blood pressure would go down

                                            your diabetes would clear up

                                            you could get off all those pills you take

                                            your joints wouldn't ache

                                            your could climb the stairs

                                            run after the bus

                                            carry the groceries

                                            pick up the baby

                                            the swelling in your legs would go down

                                            you could reach all the way to your aching feet

                                            you could breathe again
 

                                            You could find clothes to fit

                                            get out of your slipper and into real shoes

                                            who knows but what your old man would come back

                                            you'd get more respect from your children

                                            a decent job

                                            your son would kick drugs

                                            your daughter wouldn't get pregnant again

                                            you'd live to see your last one grown
 

                                            Your neighbors wouldn't talk about you

                                            the toilet would flush

                                            the roof wouldn't leak

                                            there'd be food enough at the end of the month

                                            they wouldn't cut off your check

                                            jack up the rent

                                            you'd hit the number

                                            go off for two weeks in Aruba
 

                                            Jesus would save the world from sin

                                            those who mourn would be comforted

                                            the poor would enter the Kingdom of God

                                            your hunger would be filled.
 

                                                                    Venetta Masson

                                                       UNCHARTED LINES

 

August 30, 2010

                                                    Out of Danger
 

                                                    Heart be kind and sign the release

                                                    As the trees their loss approve.

                                                    Learn as leaves must learn to fall

                                                    Out of danger, out of love.
 

                                                    What belongs to frost and thaw

                                                    Sullen winter will not harm.

                                                    What belongs to wind and rain

                                                    Is out of danger from the storm.
 

                                                    Jealous passion, cruel need

                                                    Betray the heart they feed upon.

                                                    But what belongs to earth and death

                                                    Is out of danger from the sun.


                                                    I was cruel, I was wrong--

                                                    Hard to say and hard to know.

                                                    You do not belong to me.

                                                    You are out of danger now--
 

                                                    Out of danger from the wind,

                                                    Out of danger from the wave,

                                                    Out of danger from the heart

                                                    Falling, falling out of love.

                                                                --James Fenton
                                                    (published in OUT OF DANGER)

 

                                                   

August 29, 2010

                                                    A Family Portrait

                                                    This is a house the wind blows through


                                                    And this is a child
                                                    who doesn't speak
                                                    as he rocks in a chair
                                                    with a wicker seat
                                                    but who grunts or shrieks
                                                    and can't be reached
                                                    who will need years
                                                    of costly care
                                                    who never leaves
                                                    a three-story house
                                                    the house the wind blows through

                                                    And this is the red
                                                    eye of the mother
                                                    blurred with love
                                                    and rage as she
                                                    watches the child
                                                    who never speaks
                                                    but rocks back
                                                    and forth like
                                                    a pendulum
                                                    or bangs his head
                                                    in a rhythmic beat

                                                    Here is the father
                                                    with bitter mouth
                                                    who loves the mother
                                                    with reddened eyes
                                                    and fears the child
                                                    who costs so much
                                                    in the house the wind
                                                    blows through

                                                    This is the drafty heart of the house
                                                    an unspeakable room
                                                    the child in a chair
                                                    rocking and rocking

                                                    away from the man
                                                    with blood in his eyes
                                                    the woman with bitter-
                                                    sweet mouth
                                                    not knowing
                                                    how far their child
                                                    will rock or why

                                                    as they love and rage
                                                    faster and harder
                                                    each day they find less
                                                    to say to each other

                                                    in the house the wind blows through           

                                                                --Phyllis Janowitz

                                                    (published in RITES OF STRANGER)

 

                                           

August 28, 2010

                                                    Attitude of Rags
 

                                                    If felt like a story sorry it'd lost all its sentences,

                                                    Like a sentence looking for its syntax.

                                                    All of the words had homeless, unemployed, orphan

                                                    Written all over their faces.

                                                    It had that parboiled, simmering, half-baked look

                                                    Of curiosity about its mouth like a month of Sundays

                                                    Has in the mind of a non-believer, a true back-slider.

                                                    One got the impression reluctance was waxing.

                                                    One wanted to say passion was taking a beating.

                                                    One wanted to say one's prey to one's feelings.

                                                    The feathers of their feelings were all scattered.

                                                    It was the kind of day were one to see a flock of

                                                    Creepy baby angel heads attached at their necks to

                                                    Pitch-black aerodynamically preposterous little wings

                                                    Clustering at the sum of things, one would rub one's

                                                    Eyes, be too faint to respond, much less explain.

                                                    It looked the way a fence looks just after the last

                                                    Stampede.  A big old blood-colored barn collapsed in

                                                    Its tracks.  Out of hiding came all the hidden cameras.

                                                    It looked like streets look after a parade's disbanded.

                                                    It was the kind of day in which emotions roaming from

                                                    Town to town, free to be themselves, enjoyed their

                                                    Rich fantasy lives.  This was the kind of day that day

                                                    Was.  We were rags in the hands of a narcoleptic duster.
 

                                                                                --Dara Wier

                                                    (published in AMERICAN HYBRID)

 

August 26, 2010

                                                    Beavis' Day Off
 

                                                    He'd been doing a lot of cull-twanging,

                                                    he thought, walking back and forth on the deck

                                                    of his battleship whoa! correction: loft.

                                                   
                                                    Small fires burned on the outskirts of Soho;

                                                    Fanelli's lit up under a stickered sky:

                                                    cirrus pitched to the top of its firmament.
 

                                                    How long could he crimp the diesel in the dark?

                                                    The bedlam was breathing its own air now;

                                                    the parrot shivering in the freezer glared at the hen.
 

                                                    Please it's time said Meg.  And each infernal

                                                    truism struck a package deal for tin.
 

                                                    What hast thou, O nut job, with paradise?

                                                    The sparks O they crested the floor then they floated

                                                    and she lay down on fine braids and she cried.
 

                                                                    --Susan Wheeler

                                                    (published in SMOKES)

 

August 25, 2010

                                                    Antennae
 

                                                    *

                                                    The doctor lifted the baby's leg, and the father heard his mother-in-law
                                                    whisper, "What is it?"

                                                    **

                                                    A tiny red, white, and blue flag waves on an antenna--now and again.

                                                    ***

                                                    One notices more bearded ladies these days.  To what are they listening?

                                                    ****

                                                    He said the ability to decide to be good.  She said we can watch ourselves.
 

                                                                                                        --Stefanie Marlis

                                                    (published in CLOUDLIFE)

 

August 24, 2010

                                                    The Old Testament
 

                                                    My twin brother swears that at age thirteen

                                                    I'd take on anyone who called me kike

                                                    no matter how old or how big he was.

                                                    I only wish I'd been that tiny kid

                                                    who fought back through his tears, swearing

                                                    he would not go quietly.  I go quietly

                                                    packing bark chips and loam into the rose beds,

                                                    while in his memory I remain the constant child

                                                    daring him to wrest Detroit from lean gentiles

                                                    in LaSalle convertibles and golf clothes

                                                    who step slowly into the world we have tainted,

                                                    and have their revenge.  I remember none of this.

                                                    He insists, he names the drug store where I poured

                                                    a milkshake over the head of an Episcopalian

                                                    with quick fists as tight as croquet balls.

                                                    He remembers his license plate, his thin lips,

                                                    the exact angle at which this seventeen year old dropped

                                                    his shoulder to throw the last punch.  He's making

                                                    it up.  Wasn't I always terrified?

                                                    "Of course," he tells me, "that's the miracle,

                                                    you were even more scared than me, so scared

                                                    you went insane, you became a whirlwind,

                                                    an avenging angel."

                                                                                    I remember planting

                                                    my first Victory Garden behind the house, hauling

                                                    dark loam in a borrowed wagon, and putting in

                                                    carrots, corn that never grew, radishes that did.

                                                    I remember saving for weeks to buy a tea rose,

                                                    a little stick packed in dirt and burlap,

                                                    my mother's favorite.  I remember the white bud

                                                    of my first peony that one morning burst

                                                    beside the mock orange that cost me 69 cents.

                                                    (Fifty years later the orange is still there,

                                                    the only thing left beside a cage for watch dogs,

                                                    empty now, in what had become a tiny yard.)

                                                    I remember putting myself to sleep dreaming

                                                    of the tomatoes coming into fullness, the pansies

                                                    laughing in the spring winds, the magical wisteria

                                                    climbing along the garage, and dreaming of Hitler,

                                                    of firing a single shot from a foot away, one

                                                    that would tear his face into a caricature of mine,

                                                    tear stained, bloodied, begging for a moment's peace.
 

                                                                            --Philip Levine

                                                    (published in THE SIMPLE TRUTH)

 

           

August 23, 2010

                                                    The World is Full of Poets
 

                                                    On days like this I see that the world is full of poets,

                                                    Some are lying under a tree, others on a piazza,

                                                    Some are riding the subways or streetcars, some

                                                    Far away from home, perhaps,

                                                    Look for a letter in an empty box.

                                                    They are everywhere!  No boundaries contain them!

                                                    When the laurel wreaths are distributed

                                                    They will stand in jostling procession,

                                                    Elbowing one another.

                                                    When the medals and lovingcups are given out

                                                    The line of poets will stretch from here to Brooklyn!

                                                    On days like this all the poets of the world

                                                    Might soar to the skies, arm in arm with one another

                                                    Like glorious brothers and sisters, to astonish

                                                    The world, with a single enormous hosanna.
 

                                                                            --Candace Urdang

                                                    (published in NORTHERN LIGHTS)

 

August 21, 2010

                                                    A Bargain at any Price
 

                                                    Daily I go to the carpet warehouse.

                                                    The men think I can't make up my mind.

                                                    But the truth is, I have fallen in love

                                                    with the young ex-football player

                                                    who lights the dingy room with his hair.

                                                    Even machines can't help him add,

                                                    so we spend hours figuring and refiguring

                                                    costs--pad and labor, stairs and tax,

                                                    his patient golden head bent over the numbers,

                                                    the muscles in his arms reflecting shadows

                                                    like water under summer clouds.

                                                    Each time he starts the motor on the forklift,

                                                    slowly pushing that  long steel rod

                                                    into the center of a roll, then

                                                    lifting in out for me to see, Oh--

                                                    it's as if an inner sky were opening,

                                                    and all his hazy calculations

                                                    fall like stars into my heart.
 

                                                                    --Susan Ludvigson

                                                    (published in NORTHERN LIGHTS)

 

August 19, 2010

                                                The Story
 

                                                Once upon a time the farmer's wife

                                                told it to her children while she scrubbed potatoes.

                                                There were wise ravens in it, and a witch

                                                who flew into such a rage she turned to brass.
 

                                                The story wandered about the countryside until

                                                adopted by the palace waiting maids

                                                who endowed it with three magic golden rings

                                                and a handsome prince named Felix.
 

                                                Now it had both strength and style and visited

                                                the household of the jolly merchant

                                                where it was seated by the fire and given

                                                fat gray goose and a comic chambermaid.
 

                                                One day alas the story got drunk and fell

                                                in with a crowd of dissolute poets.

                                                They drenched it with moonlight and fever and fed it

                                                words from which it never quite recovered.
 

                                               Then it was old and haggard and disreputable,

                                                carousing late at night with defrocked scholars

                                                and the swaggering sailors in Rattlebone Alley.

                                                That's where the novelists found it.
 

                                                                    --Fred Chappell

                                                (published in SOURCE)

 

August 18, 2010

                                                Black Series
 

                                                --Then in the scalloped leaves of the plane tree

                                                a series of short, sharp who's:

                                                a little owl had learned to count.


                                                You lay in your bed as usual not existing

                                                because of the bright edges pressing in.
 

                                                All at once the black thick o's of the owl

                                                were the very diagram you needed.

                                                Where there had been two

                                                kinds of infinity, now there was one.

                                                The smudged circle around the soul

                                                was the one the Gnostics saw around the cosmos,

                                                the mathematical

                                                toy train, the snake eating its tail.
 

                                                Relieved by the thought that the owl's o's

                                                had changed but not you, that something

                                                could change but not be lost in you,


                                                you asked the voice for more

                                                existence and the voice said

                                                yes but you must understand

                                                I loved you not despite your great emptiness

                                                but because of your great emptiness--
 

                                                                        --Brenda Hillman

                                                (published in BRIGHT EXISTENCE)

 

August 17, 2010

                                                Malediction
 

                                                You who dump the beer cans in the lake;

                                                Who in the strict woods sow

                                                The bulbous polyethylene retorts;

                                                Who from your farting car

                                                With spiffy rear suspension toss

                                                Your tissues, mustard-streaked, upon

                                                The generating moss; who drop

                                                The squamules of your reckless play,

                                                Grease-wrappers, unspare parts, lie-labeled

                                                Cultures even flies would scorn

                                                To spawn on--total Zed, my kinsman

                                                Ass-on-wheels, my blare-bred bray

                                                And burden,
 

                                                                 may the nice crabs thread

                                                Your private wilds with turnpikes; weasels'

                                                Condoms squish between your toes,

                                                And plastic-coated toads squat plop

                                                Upon your morning eggs--may gars

                                                Come nudge you from your inner tube,

                                                Perch hiss you to the bottom, junked,

                                                A discard, your dense self your last

                                                Enormity.
 

                                                                        --Barry Spacks

                                                (published in IMAGINING A UNICORN)

 

August 16,2010

Ah, Sunflower

 Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

--William Blake


August 15, 2010

                                                            My Sister Is Not a Dollar
 

                                                            I think it is unusual

                                                            I even try speaking, I hear steps and doors

                                                            where there is nothing but a medicinal smell,

                                                            the person crossing near me crosses on.
 

                                                            At the far end of a country lane

                                                            the burned like shores,

                                                            the moon was dead, the moon

                                                            was okay.
 

                                                            The peace be and the peace

                                                            falleth, the garden is white

                                                            with my sister, and one dollar.
 

                                                            My sister is not a dollar,

                                                            I am not a man.
 

                                                            Not before the task,

                                                            when the burning afternoon rises

                                                            across the sky, not before

                                                            the angry residue of possession,

                                                            not before my teeth bleed

                                                            with greed for water...
 

                                                            Not before.  Here is the parting of nails,

                                                            frames, the parting of empty footsteps.
 

                                                                                        --Michael Burkard

                                                            (published in RUBY FOR GRIEF)

   

   

August 12, 2010

                                                            Absence

                                                            I have scarcely left you
                                                            When you go in me, crystalline,
                                                            Or trembling,
                                                            Or uneasy, wounded by me
                                                            Or overwhelmed with love, as
                                                            when your eyes
                                                            Close upon the gift of life
                                                            That without cease I give you.

                                                            My love,
                                                            We have found each other
                                                            Thirsty and we have
                                                            Drunk up all the water and the
                                                            Blood,
                                                            We found each other
                                                            Hungry
                                                            And we bit each other
                                                            As fire bites,
                                                            Leaving wounds in us.

                                                            But wait for me,
                                                            Keep for me your sweetness.
                                                            I will give you too
                                                            A rose.

                                                                                  --Pablo Neruda

                                                            (http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/absence-56/)

 

August 11, 2010

                                                                The Intruder  

					He broke in, picking the lock, or having stolen 
					a key, and he knew the code to disarm the alarm, 
 
					some homeless guy, a crazy street-person, harmless 
					you’d think, but you’re wrong: he likes it here, and he stays. 
 
					He rummages through my closets and dresser drawers 
					and tries on my clothing, which happens, of course, to fit him. 
 
					He runs my comb through his hair. He uses my toothbrush. 
					He lies down on my side of the bed for a nap. 
 
					He has settled in. In the mornings, he sits at my place 
					and has his coffee and toast, reading my paper. 
 
					He borrows my car and drives to meet my classes; 
					during my office hours he meets with my students. 
 
					We don’t look at all alike, but he’s living my life. 
					I try to signal my friends with whom he dines 
 
					or my wife with whom he is sleeping: "This isn’t me. 
					He’s an impostor. How can you not have noticed? 
 
					He’s old! He’s nasty. Also, he’s clearly crazy! 
					How can he fool you this way? And how can you stand him?" 
 
					They pay me no mind, pretending not to have noticed. 
					Could they somehow be in on this together? 
 
					But what is his purpose? Was he also displaced 
					from apartment, job, and wife? Did that turn him desperate? 
 
					And must I go out now myself to find a victim, 
					break into his house, and begin living his life? 

                                                                                         --David R. Slavitt
                                                                (http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16917)

 

August 10, 2010

                                                        Egyptian Sonnets (11)
 

                                                        Night, dispassionate scholar of our fears

                                                        Opens its portfolio, and unwraps

                                                        Our bracelets of tears again

                                                        How ghostly this train

                                                        Quiet as a forest

                                                        Hung about in smoke

                                                        And a poet

                                                        In a sudden fit

                                                        Falls weeping

                                                        A monstrous serenity

                                                        Rainbow salts, smooth lipped

                                                        The sculpture frozen in oratory

                                                        Lunar horns spreading

                                                        From its silver forehead
 

                                                                    --John Yau

                                                        (from AMERICAN HYBRID
                                                         a Norton Anthology of new poetry
                                                         ed. by Cole Swensen & David St. John)


August 7, 2010

                                                            Eczema
 

                                                            Tearing at my package like a child
                                                            eager for its present, I scratch my back
                                                            between the shoulder blades, my arms, my chest,
                                                            my face, and bloody myself, like one of those wild
                                                            self-flagellating enthusiasts.  The attack
                                                            subsides eventually.  Exhausted, i rest

                                                            but know another episode is waiting,
                                                            another battle in this civil war
                                                            my body wages with itself.  My skin
                                                            erupts periodically; it's something hating
                                                            itself, the spirit revolting at the poor
                                                            flesh it must inhabit, is trapped within.

                                                            Doctors call it a psychogenic condition,
                                                            like asthma or colitis; it is an ill
                                                            in which the skin's itch is the soul's fret,
                                                            and scratching is the body's act of contrition.
                                                            I try to absolve with an antihistamine pill
                                                            and not to get excited, not to sweat,

                                                            but there is a rage inside me, a prophet's deep
                                                            revulsion at the flesh.  When it gets bad,
                                                            I scratch as in a dream of purity,
                                                            of bare-boned whiteness, clean enough to keep
                                                            the soul that's mired there now, driving me mad,
                                                            desperate, righteous, clawing to be free.
 

                                                                                            --David R Slavitt

                                                            (published in ROUNDING THE HORN)

 

August 5, 2010

                                                            The Fisherman's Wife
 

                                                            The fisherman said I was his third wish.

                                                            He washed off the salt, taught me to breathe,

                                                            kick my scissory legs & doze

                                                            trembling in the sharp straw beside him.

                                                            Now he had boots, a boat, a wife with gill-

                                                            silver skin who peered at the sky for fish.

                                                            I couldn't speak: The nets in my throat

                                                            trapped the shiny movements of words;

                                                            the new hands, glimmering in the dark,

                                                            only stuttered like ice across his back

                                                            while I gulped for the water! the water!

                                                            needing the density of his mouth.

                                                            When I mended sails, the needle pricked

                                                            seawater from my veins; the other wives

                                                            scurried out of their clogs for the priest

                                                            who rubbed me with garlic against the devil.

                                                            A pelican dipped & angled for my eyes--

                                                            yet I couldn't drown: the angry water

                                                            shoved me into the light, I washed inland,

                                                            shellfish clamped in my streaming hair.

                                                            The fisherman plucked leeches from my neck,

                                                            crying, "You're the last wish!" I saw torn

                                                            boots, the boat shattered on a rock.

                                                            I dreamed I was out at sea, but the shapes

                                                            went blue, blurred, I wasn't anything,

                                                            a chill, a wish, his wife stirring in sleep.
 

                                                                                       --Maura Stanton

                                                            (published in SNOW ON SNOW)

 

August 3, 2010

                                                            Hush
 

                                                            The way a tired Chippewa woman

                                                            Who's lost a child gathers up black feathers,

                                                            Black quills & leaves

                                                            That she wraps & swaddles in a little bale, a shag

                                                            Cocoon she carries with her & speaks to always

                                                            As if it were the child,

                                                            Until she knows the soul has grown fat & clever,

                                                            That the child can find its own way at last;

                                                            Well, I go everywhere

                                                            Picking the dust out of the dust, scraping the breezes

                                                            Up off the floor, & gather them into a doll

                                                            Of you, to touch at the nape of the neck, to slip

                                                            Under my shirt like a rag--the way

                                                            Another man's wallet rides above his heart.  As you

                                                            Cry out, as if calling to a father you conjure

                                                            In the paling light, the voice rises, instead, in me.

                                                            Nothing stops it, the crying.  Not the clove of moon,

                                                            Not the woman raking my back with her words.  Our letters

                                                            Close.  Sometimes, you ask

                                                            About the world; sometimes, I answer back.  Nights

                                                            Return to to me for a while, as sleep returns sleep

                                                            To a landscape ravaged

                                                            & familiar.  The dark watermark of your absence, a hush.
 

                                                                                        --David St. John

                                                            (published in THE NEW YORKER)

 

                                           

August 2, 2010

                                                            You Can't Eat Poetry
 

                                                            This poem will cost you.

                                                            It will not register Black voters in Georgia.

                                                            It will not wash oil from ducks.

                                                            This poem will starve the big-bellied babies

                                                            in Angola, if they send it.

                                                            It...will...not...get...off...the...page

                                                            to convince the president

                                                            that loaded guns are dangerous

                                                            and should be kept out of the hands

                                                            of infants and senile demagogues.

                                                            This poem will not feel around under your dress

                                                            down by the lake.  It will not be generous

                                                            with its time, nor forgive.  It can't be

                                                            warmed up at midnight after the skating

                                                            nor charm the miser out of his hole

                                                            nor proclaim amnesty.  It's words,

                                                            God damn it, it's words.
 

                                                                                    --John Woods

                                                            (published in STRIKING THE EARTH)

 

August 1, 2010

                                                            Old Family Recipe
 

                                                            He lies awake for hours some nights,

                                                            imagining recipes too difficult to prepare

                                                            or simply beyond his will to manifest 

                                                            on the plate, like the concept of a

                                                            painting without a canvas, his

                                                            tongue rolling make-believe morsels,

                                                            savoring anticipated flavors, his fingers

                                                            mimicking the necessary motions,

                                                            stirring possibilities, folding thin

                                                            layers of pastry or slicing green apples

                                                            still in their tender skins, blending

                                                            dashes and pinches of this or that

                                                            perfect ingredient, including the

                                                            aromas of strangers, reminders of

                                                            what can be pungent and good,

                                                            mysterious to the palate, surprising,

                                                            caramelizing small sweet onions,

                                                            seeding bright red tomatoes, whipping

                                                            egg whites to firm peaks in a

                                                            copper bowl and selecting a creamy

                                                            cheese that bites gently, making a

                                                            totem of the taste and scent of garlic.
 

                                                            He lies to himself about bringing it

                                                            to the table, open faces turned to

                                                            him when he says, "Bon appetit!"

                                                            imaging the music of knives,

                                                            laden tines, the first magical

                                                            spoonful disappearing between

                                                            eager lips.  He imagines their eyes

                                                            widening at the first held mouthful,

                                                            and himself saying, "I love you."
 

                                                                                    --Scott Lubbock

                                                                (published in ON THE WAY TO WATER)

 

                                                               

August 31, 2009
                                                            Run-in on Bellfountain Road
 

                                                            Xibalba came knocking
                                                            Xibalba came up short

                                                            DAS FLEISCH

                                                            the meat

                                                            eyes meet

                                                            mine do not slow
                                                            the brain does
                                                            though

                                                            some feat

                                                            to see hers through fear widen

                                                            uninvited
                                                            she jumps right in
                                                            THUMPCRUNCHAAGGGHH!   

                                                            we meet

                                                            restrained only
                                                            by a wink
                                                            a pane
                                                            a door--
                                                            "No more!"

                                                            back on her feet

                                                            her mate stands on straight legs
                                                            vulnerable
                                                            momentarily
                                                            deceptively
                                                            looking more frightened
                                                            than I am to feel
 

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                    (from CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)

 

August 30, 2009
                                                            Into My Own
 

                                                            One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
                                                            So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
                                                            Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
                                                            But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

                                                            I should not be withheld but that some day
                                                            Into their vastness I should steal away,
                                                            Fearless of ever finding open land,
                                                            Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

                                                            I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
                                                            Or those should not set forth upon my track
                                                            To overtake me, who should miss me here
                                                            And long to know if still I held them dear.

                                                            They would not find me changed from him
                                                                    they knew--
                                                            Only more sure of all I thought was true.
 

                                                                                --Robert Frost

                                                            (published in A BOY'S WILL)

 

August 29, 2009
                                                            I Make Ye an Offer
 

                                                            I make ye an offer,
                                                            Ye gods, hear the scoffer,
                                                            The scheme will not hurt you,
                                                            If ye will find goodness, I will find virtue.
                                                            Though I am your creature,
                                                            And child of your nature,
                                                            I have pride still unbended,
                                                            And blood undescended,
                                                            Some free independence,
                                                            And my own descendants.
                                                            I cannot toil blindly,
                                                            Though ye behave kindly,
                                                            And I swear by the rood,
                                                            I'll be slave to no God.
                                                            If ye will deal plainly,
                                                            I will strive mainly,
                                                            If ye will discover,
                                                            Great plans to your lover,
                                                            And give him a sphere
                                                            Somewhat larger than here.
 

                                                                    --Henry David Thoreau

                                                            (published in THE WINGED LIFE
                                                                                edited by Robert Bly)

 

August 28, 2009
                                                            Rhapsody
 

                                                            Beat it with a shoe
                                                            because it can't talk, because it won't shut up,
                                                            because it makes those noises about its loneliness
                                                            endlessly.  Beat it with a shoe
                                                            over and over, beside the door, on the balcony;
                                                            beat it because it's yours,
                                                            because you've had enough.  Beat that shoe
                                                            your foot's orphan, like a leather club
                                                            against its side, around its head, with short sharp blows.
                                                            Beat it to make it stop crying.
                                                            Show you mean business.
                                                            Because it's dumb, because you told it once
                                                            or a thousand times; beat it because it ought to know
                                                            better by now.  Beat it with a shoe
                                                            because it feels good--
                                                            beat it until it feels good.
                                                            Beat the crap out of it.  Beat it senseless.  Beat it
                                                            within an inch.  Because it's worthless and dumb,
                                                            shitty, and loud, and dirty.
                                                            Beat it because there is pain in the world.
                                                            Beat it because it's yours.
 

                                                                                        --Cynthia Huntington

                                                            (published in NEW AMERICAN POETS OF THE 90s)

 

August 27, 2009
                                                            Day's Dance
 

                                                            When a day begins as dance
                                                            sweat rivers overflow, driving
                                                            the loose-knee rubber-hip trance.
                                                            Mind has no chance now to ask
                                                            questions of the night's dream show,
                                                            queries about today--or
                                                            What's important here to know?   

                                                            Body spins wobbly orbits--
                                                            arms and legs have come alive
                                                            with the juice that makes all fit.
                                                            Self floats free from its snug mask,
                                                            called by child's lost playground
                                                            where each pebble rubs senses,
                                                            warm body cheer for each sound.

                                                            Brain tumbles into body
                                                            which stows a dream into day
                                                            like precious, guarded booty.
                                                            Pleasure easily steals limbs;
                                                            freed snakes belly through bowels
                                                            now the center of being
                                                            laughter-driven joy howls.

                                                            Way before that first mocha
                                                            is asked to kick-start your day
                                                            gulp down hip-hop or polka!
                                                            Make your living room a gym
                                                            that charges next-to-nothing:
                                                            just billions of cells hungry
                                                            to flat transform everything.
 

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from IF YOU LIVE, YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

August 26, 2009
                                                        Walking on Water
 

                                                        There is a good friend whom I know

                                                        Who likes to fly above the snow

                                                        And walk with grace upon the water.

                                                        He has no desire to show

                                                        That he knows how to go

                                                        The way people think he oughter.


                                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                    (from A FIRST EDITION OF HAI-CHOO: LITTLE SNEEZES
                                                     OF PROFOUND DITTY-CISM)

 

August 25, 2009
                                                    Dance Troupe Meets the Regulars
                                                            at the Esalen Baths
 

                                                    White-breasted body weight shifting
                                                    nervously between lower limbs,
                                                    the chorus of visiting dancers shuffles

                                                    like a colony of lost penguins--
                                                    slowly enough to be constantly touching.
                                                    Toweled torsos deny distinctive form

                                                    until, shook loose by giggles, they are molted.
                                                    Down moist, wooden steps they enter our room
                                                    lit orange-red by human skin in candlelight.

                                                    From sulfurous spring-fed tubs
                                                    soft gasps and short groans blend
                                                    with ocean's cyclic boulder crashing

                                                    as older skin relaxes into crinkles.
                                                    Here, fat shows itself in haphazard bulges--
                                                    like straw stuffed to make bedding,

                                                    quick, before the hearth coals dim.
                                                    And aging breasts settle to rest
                                                    closer, now, to the earth's center.
 

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                    (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)



                                               

August 24, 2009
                                                            Planetary Motion
 

                                                            I've held love's spark
                                                            In my heart for you;
                                                            Half light and half dark,
                                                            As I thought you knew.

                                                            I'll hold it, though,
                                                            To my grave, unless
                                                            It's enticed to glow
                                                            And your form caress.

                                                            I'm asking true
                                                            Come down, face the flame:
                                                            Let it engulf you
                                                            With love without shame.

                                                            I love a poem's song--
                                                            I hope you do too!
                                                            The above is strong
                                                            As well as it's true.

                                                            Don't be intimidated
                                                            If, like me, you are feeling
                                                            Slightly intoxicated
                                                            With head, heart and soul reeling.

                                                            Respond as you like,
                                                            Respond as you will.
                                                            But drive down the pike
                                                            And visit me still!
 

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from COLLECTED WORDS)

       

August 23, 2009
                                                            Two Suffering Men
 

                                                            I sat across, behind my desk,
                                                            and told him I thought
                                                            he might be alcoholic.
                                                            "I never been drunk," he said.
                                                            I made a note on the medical chart.

                                                            I could see him getting irked.
                                                            His liver sick;
                                                            his wife gone with the kids!
                                                            I made a note on the chart.

                                                            I saw him gaining rage.
                                                            He clenched his fists,
                                                            leaned forward,
                                                            his arms on the desk.
                                                            He held his breath
                                                            until he turned red,
                                                            then, sighing, fell back
                                                            in his chair and cried.

                                                            Breaking a long pause,
                                                            he asked, "You're telling me
                                                            I'm alcoholic?  How in hell
                                                            would you know, in your
                                                            'pretty' white picturebook
                                                            middle-class hospital coat?"
                                                            His face suddenly tensed.
                                                            He pursed his lips
                                                            and lifted himself from the chair.
                                                            He stood tall, straight up,
                                                            bulging with pride
                                                            for all the ground-in years
                                                            of his laboring trade,
                                                            shouting,
                                                            "Stay out of my head.
                                                            Stay OUT of my head!"
                                                            and slammed the door behind him.

                                                            I longed to lower my eyes and cry.
                                                            But, from the bottom drawer
                                                            of my desk, just one small glass
                                                            of vodka and a chlorophyll candy
                                                            taste so damn good in the morning.
 

                                                                                    --Edward Hirsch

                                                            (published in BLOOD & BONE)

 

August 22, 2009
                                                            The Night We Pitch It
 

                                                            Until the TV sails through wet, black air,
                                                            the bowling balls at the Strand
                                                            seem heavy, the linoleum floor in the cage
                                                            elevator shaved too thin.  Until the TV sails
                                                            into the valley of railroad tracks, silent
                                                            as a fuse, our flat Iron City drafts
                                                            at Lasek's bore into our stomachs
                                                            and stew.  A steel worker; two roofers, and a printer,
                                                            our jobs seem dead ends of our youth
                                                            that Sunday night in May when Agnole
                                                            says at the light, I got a busted black and white
                                                            in the trunk to get rid of.
  The answer
                                                            surfaces inevitable as hills, Throw it
                                                            off the bridge.
 Until the TV booms into the empty
                                                            coal car, a shower of sparks and glass,
                                                            and we hoot and high-five, speeding off in the car
                                                            like crack high school commandos,
                                                            we aren't sure whose side time is on,
                                                            playing tackle in the mud, buttoning our nights
                                                            with Space Invaders at the Luna,
                                                            considering marriage.  But there it is, that sound
                                                            filling up the deep beneath us,
                                                            and Jim shouting in the car above the rest,
                                                            By tomorrow it'll be in Chicago.
 

                                                                        --Peter Blair   

                                                            (published in LAST HEAT)

 

Aufust 21, 2009
                                                            Woman Bathing
 

                                                            Naches River.  Just below the falls.

                                                            Twenty miles from any town.  A day

                                                            of dense sunlight

                                                            heavy with odors of love.

                                                            How long have we?

                                                            Already your body, sharpness of Picasso,

                                                            is drying in the highland air.

                                                            I towel down your back, your hips,

                                                            with my undershirt.

                                                            Time is a mountain lion.

                                                            We laugh at nothing,

                                                            And as I touch your breasts

                                                            even the ground--

                                                                            squirrels

                                                            are dazzled.

                                                                        --Raymond Carver

                                                            (published in A NEW PATH TO THE WATERFALL)

 

August 20, 2009
 

                                                            HEART’S PRAYER

 

            My sister whom I was once able to love
            and now am unable to find
            hopefully you will one day
            and hopefully one day soon
            be able to understand how
            you turn gold into straw
            how you scratch those trying
            to get close to you
            understand, relax
            let people hug you again--
            I can do nothing
            except pray
            and cry
            and pray for the day
            you relax
            and let people get close again.
 

                                --Tim Van Ert

            (from IF YOU LIVE, YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

August 19, 2009
                                                            There's Youth Still
 

                                                            A man has written his feelings--
                                                            Can it be done?
                                                            Has he found the path from ink to soul?

                                                            The truth certainly is:
                                                            It burns in my heart.
                                                            Can I release it as flame, or only as acid?

                                                            As children we embraced;
                                                            Loved with a passionate flame pure as Truth's!
                                                            No longer feel myself innocent, nor see you child.

                                                            An artist, a scholar, a physician, a poet.
                                                            A philosopher, a disciple, a scientist, a dreamer.
                                                            A selfish brat--ah, there's youth still!
 

                                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from COLLECTED WORDS)

 

August 18, 2009
                                                            Unable to Stand
 

                                                            White body leans against the plate glass
                                                            letting sun rays pour hot onto skin
                                                            to flush it port red around the breaks
                                                            with their spilt lymph like the lava rocks
                                                            my bare, roaming feet recall too well.

                                                            Seeing blurred blue smoke thread
                                                            hills' rifts while weighed down
                                                            by summer's inversion,
                                                            I recall the drowning
                                                            pull of passion's syrups.

                                                            Summer sprinklers make sense to me,
                                                            shoosh, shoosh, shoosh...splatter-splatter-splatter
                                                           
because I think I grasp hydraulics.
                                                            A tomato plant speaks out by begging,
                                                            through its drooping, for relief from drought.

                                                            It is strange enough producing
                                                            technicolor dreams nightly
                                                            from beneath basal ganglia,
                                                            but how does my TV know
                                                            to grab invisible power
                                                            surges and create sensible
                                                            images entrancing enough
                                                            to reverse the tide of literacy?

                                                            In mockery of mind
                                                            both knees buckle;
                                                            I cannot stand
                                                            not understanding.
 

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)


                                                           

August 17, 2009
                                                                    Batman
 

                                                        Temptations to gamble keep
                                                        nibbling on me
                                                        like memories of that bat
                                                        (plunging toward my warm-bodied
                                                        signal of a head,
                                                        exciting two frenzies with each swoop)
                                                        gnaw insistently:
                                                        catching me in the dark,
                                                        naked, unshielded.

                                                        I feel the expansion of time
                                                        in the compression
                                                        of each breath.
                                                        Exhaling, I seize
                                                        time enough to dream
                                                        of metamorphosis:

                                                        caterpillar climbing
                                                        inch by inch,
                                                        day by day,
                                                        struggling to budge
                                                        to that sheltered safety
                                                        where we all long
                                                        to hang topsy-turvy
                                                        in our changes.

                                                        Drawing there pictures found
                                                        of the world within,
                                                        and then full around;
                                                        recording words, images,
                                                        rhythms, sounds--drawing
                                                        heaven and hell to earth,
                                                        their hallowed place of birth.

                                                        Now ready to cast off the skin
                                                        of sacrificial totem,
                                                        I wave past him.
                                                        He waves erratically,
                                                        unstoppable...
 

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)

                                                           

August 16, 2009
                                                            Small Haiku Opera
 

                                                            The cat leapt from the
                                                            railing to the deck as if
                                                            I did not exist.

                                                            I watched the cat leap
                                                            as if there were nothing else
                                                            as real in the world.

                                                            A child with cancer
                                                            dies in Portland wishing he
                                                            had a cat to hold.

                                                            His mother, crying,
                                                            tries to imagine holding
                                                            her son forever.

                                                            If I could, I would
                                                            hold this stranger until she
                                                            cried herself to sleep.

                                                            The cat is sleeping
                                                            on the blanket I laid out
                                                            by a bowl of milk.
 

                                                                    --Scott Lubbock

                                                            (published in ON THE WAY TO WATER)

 

August 15, 2009
                                                            Vacation Trip
 

                                                            The loudest sound in our car
                                                            was Mother being glum:

                                                                 Little chiding valves
                                                                 a surge of detergent oil
                                                                 all that deep chaos
                                                                 the relentless accurate fire
                                                                 the drive shaft wild to arrive

                                                            And tugging along behind in its great big
                                                            balloon,
                                                            that looming piece of her mind:

                                                            "I wish I hadn't come."
 

                                                                        --William Stafford

                                                            (published in THE WAY IT IS)

 

                                                                   

August 14, 2009
                                                            Aborderlinosis
 

                                                            Angry?  First hurt, now this...
                                                            Don't you know
                                                            how hurt and anger
                                                            neighbor?

                                                            When their fence falls
                                                            revealed are no fine
                                                            neighbors,
                                                            but ranging flood waters
                                                            fluidly looting each other's
                                                            vacancies.

                                                            Don't you know
                                                            any good
                                                            contractors?

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)

 

August 13, 2009
                                                                        Slide
 

                                                            Did I hear any of that from you

                                                            Or are these just the echoes

                                                            From the avalanche I experienced

                                                            As I felt my heart sliding

                                                            Down from its lofty perch?
 

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)

 

August 12, 2009
                                                           Wandering Away

                                                            Like a corpse I lay in the waste land,
                                                                          And I heard God's voice cry out,
                                                                          "Arise, prophet, and see and hear,
                                                                           Be charged with my will--
                                                                          And go out over seas and lands
                                                                          To fire men's heart with the word."

                                                                                        --Alexander Pushkin
 

                                                            With wisdom too weak to weather

                                                            Weight of wanton ego, wander

                                                            West--unaware of what to do

                                                            When wakened with world-wide water

                                                            Washing your way in wind-whitened

                                                            Wonderfully overwhelming waves.
 

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)

                                   

August 11, 2009
                                                                Essays
 

                                                                My lines slur

                                                                summer's essays

                                                                on human being:

                                                                breath blown

                                                                too softly.
 

                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                    (from A FIRST EDITION OF HAI-CHOO: LITTLE SNEEZES
                                                     OF PROFOUND DITTY-CISM)

 

August 10, 2009
                                                                Waiting
 

                                                                Soft yet sharp like the junco's call
                                                                sunlight knifes between clouds.
                                                                Soft, then sharp.

                                                                As brigade after brigade of moments,
                                                                the hours march through me--
                                                                soft ahead of sharp.

                                                                Their earth rumble awakens desire:
                                                                thirst for soft,
                                                                hunger for sharp.

                                                                Mosquitoes light on me soft
                                                                before sharp.
                           

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                                (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)

 

August 9, 2009
                                                            Elsewhere
 

                                                            Sitting at a checkered tablecloth
                                                            listening to myself breathe
                                                            I feel like the man who invented
                                                            the boredom of accordian music.

                                                            I would like to compose
                                                            an image of my life
                                                            whose sheer weight
                                                            is quiet enough
                                                            to last a lifetime.

                                                            But to be alone like this
                                                            shakes the blossoms
                                                            from the stick trees
                                                            again and again.

                                                            I think how grief exactly fits
                                                            the size of anything living,
                                                            how it's infinitely expandable,

                                                           
                                                            but I am no more than a mote
                                                            floating through the small blue sky
                                                            of someone's mind, darkening
                                                            his rights and privileges.

                                                            Knowing this, I am lifted up
                                                            and then there is a calm, a settlement
                                                            of white blossoms,
                                                            trees like massive nerves
                                                            holding up the sky.
 

                                                                            --Jack Myers

                                                            (published in AS LONG AS YOU'RE HAPPY)

 

August 8, 2009
                                                            Storm Windows
 

                                                            People are putting up storm windows now.
                                                            Or were, this morning, until the heavy rain
                                                            Drove them indoors.  So, coming home at noon,
                                                            I saw storm windows lying on the ground,
                                                            Frame-full of rain; through the water and glass
                                                            I saw the crushed grass, how it seemed to stream
                                                            Away in lines like seaweed on the tide
                                                            Or blades of wheat leaning under the wind.
                                                            The ripple and splash of rain on the blurred glass
                                                            Seemed that it briefly said, as I walked by,
                                                            Something I should have like to say to you,
                                                            Something...the dry grass bent under the pane
                                                            Brimful of bouncing water...something of
                                                            A swaying clarity which blindly echoes
                                                            This lonely afternoon of memories
                                                            And missed desires, while the wintry rain
                                                            (Unspeakable, the distance in the mind!)
                                                            Runs on the standing windows and away.
 

                                                                                    --Howard Nemerov

                                                            (published in THE WINTER LIGHTNING)

 

August 7, 2009
                                                            The Five Year Indian

                                                           
                                                            Frankie was a pony baby,

                                                            baptized without food bowls

                                                            or ceremony fires in a gold

                                                            defaced church near the reservation.

                                                            No feathers, no beads nor stains

                                                            adorned his head for twenty one years.

                                                            Five years ago, he was Mexico race,

                                                            so enrollment cards say.

                                                            Today with feathers flying,

                                                            hair growing, beads banding,

                                                            leather fringing and ATM card waving,

                                                            he is one of us.

                                                                                --Lew Blockcolski

                                                            (published in COME TO POWER, Ed. Dick Lourie)

 

August 6, 2009
                                                            Post Card
                                                           

                                                            Inert for aeons like magma spills
                                                            table's tumbled debris collects topsoil.

                                                            Neglected mail, Coke cans askew--
                                                            the spent surround the unopened.

                                                            Mayo stand once rescued from Wally's Thrift
                                                            lies lost between boulders of crushed boxes.

                                                            Piles of clothes stripped of hangers
                                                            form wrinkle labyrinths without exit.

                                                            Lemon-lime cans harnessed in six-pack plastic
                                                            bear the dust of nowhere to go.

                                                            Silver and orange shears perched at a stabbing angle
                                                            menace inhabitants of a warped white box.

                                                            Through this you travel nightly
                                                            leaving no trace of trail or change.

                                                            I worry that when you offered us your room last night
                                                            you meant it as a postcard from your deathbed.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in POETRY JOURNAL)

 

August 5, 2009
                                                            Tumbleweed Soul
 

                                                            When my soul tumbles

                                                            oh it tumbles.

                                                            I guess what I want to know

                                                            is when my soul tumbles so

                                                            where does it,

                                                            where do I,

                                                            where do we go?
 

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                (from A FIRST EDITION OF HAI-CHOO: LITTLE SNEEZES
                                         OF PROFOUND DITTY-CISM)

 

August 4, 2009
                                                        Cockroaches  
 

                                                        Cockatrice of shields,
                                                        having not read Newton or Einstein,
                                                        flickers head-first down
                                                        the moist pumice wall
                                                        pausing, I surmise, to die.

                                                        Meet a lit roach waiting,
                                                        inflamed with hunger,
                                                        in a skirmish only one can survive.

                                                        His chocolate syrup smear
                                                        on earth stone dais
                                                        warns the others.

                                                        The phone rings, to be answered
                                                        by a mockingbird at play--
                                                        or scolding (like June evening wind
                                                        shaking the budding birches below)
                                                        this hunter his trespass?
 

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                        (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)

                             

August 3, 2009
                                                            Sharing Your Wealth
 

                                                            You just go ahead,
                                                            read those books on the shelves--
                                                            I read your bank account
                                                            through the windows
                                                            while you're both at work.
                                                            Money all over the house!
                                                            Sure, some's tucked away real cozy.
                                                            Small bits sparkle in my flash light.

                                                            Necklace over my fingers,
                                                            pulling it ever so slowly,
                                                            I feel your wealth--
                                                            I want your wealth.
                                                            We both know I'll never
                                                            really get it,
                                                            but I'm here today to steal it.

                                                            Like your family 'hoods the best,
                                                            so easy to get in.
                                                            Petty rich folks is what I call you;
                                                            all the same:
                                                            take this stuff for granted
                                                            till it's gone.
                                                            But then, you got insurance.

                                                            So I buy me another
                                                            hungry day of wretched life.
                                                            Or borrow it from ya,
                                                            if you like.
                                                            How many of your days
                                                            would you say
                                                            are missing now?
 

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from IF YOU LIVE, YOUR TIME WILL COME)

 

August 2, 2009
                                                            The Song of the Old Mother

 

                                                            I rise in the dawn, and I kneel and blow

                                                            Till the seed of the fire flicker and glow;

                                                            And then I must scrub and bake and sweep

                                                            Till stars are beginning to blink and peep

                                                            And the young lie long and dream in their bed

                                                            Of the matching of ribbons for bosom and head,

                                                            And their day goes over in idleness,

                                                            And they sigh if the wind but lift a tress:

                                                            While I must work because I am old,

                                                            And the seed of the fire gets feeble and cold.
 

                                                                                            --W.B. Yeats

                                                            (published in THE POEMS OF W.B. YEATS)


                                                       

August 1, 2009
                                                            Song of the Soul
 

                                                            In the depth of my soul there is
                                                            A wordless song--a song that lives
                                                            In the seed of my heart.
                                                            It refuses to melt with ink on
                                                            Parchment; it engulfs my affection
                                                            In a transparent cloak and flows,
                                                            But not upon my lips.

                                                            How can I sigh it?  I fear it may
                                                            Mingle with earthly ether;
                                                            To whom shall I sing it? It dwells
                                                            In the house of my soul, in fear of
                                                            Harsh ears.

                                                            When I look into my inner eyes
                                                            I see the shadow of its shadow;
                                                            When I touch my fingertips
                                                            I feel its vibrations.

                                                            The deeds of my hands heed its
                                                            Presence as a lake must reflect
                                                            The glittering stars; my tears
                                                            Reveal it, as bright drops of dew
                                                            Reveal the secret of a withering rose.

                                                            It is a song composed by contemplation,
                                                            And published by silence,
                                                            And shunned by clamour,
                                                            And folded by truth,
                                                            And repeated by dreams,
                                                            And understood by love,
                                                            And hidden by awakening,
                                                            And sung by the soul.

                                                            It is the song of love;
                                                            What Cain or Esau could sing it?

                                                            It is more fragrant than jasmine;
                                                            What voice could enslave it?

                                                            It is heartbound, as a virgin's secret;
                                                            What string could quiver it?

                                                            Who dares unite the roar of the sea
                                                            And the singing of the nightingale?
                                                            Who dares compare the shrieking tempest
                                                            To the sigh of an infant?
                                                            Who dares speak aloud the words
                                                            Intended for the heart to speak?
                                                            What human dares sing in voice
                                                            The song of God?
 

                                                                                        --Kahlil Gibran

                                                            (published in A TREASURY OF KAHLIL GIBRAN)