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July 28, 2013

                                                                       When Death Comes – A Poem by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.


July 7, 2013

Why My Mother Made Me

Maybe I am who she always wanted,

my father as a woman,

maybe I am what she wanted to be

when she first saw him, tall and smart,

standing there in the college yard with the

hard male light of 1937

shining on his black hair.  She wanted that

power.  She wanted that size.  She pulled and

pulled through him as if he were dark

bourbon taffy, she pulled and pulled and

pulled through his body until she drew me out,

rubbery and gleaming, her life after her life.

Maybe I am the way I am

because she wanted exactly that,

wanted there to be a woman

a lot like her, but who would not hold back, so she

pressed herself hard against him,

pressed and pressed the clear soft

ball of herself like a stick of beaten cream

against his stained sour steel grater

until I came out the other side of his body,

a big woman, stained, sour, sharp,

but with that milk at the center of my nature.

I lie here now as I once lay

in the crook of her arm, her creature,

and I feel her looking down into me the way the

maker of a sword gazes at his face in the

steel of the blade.

                            --Sharon Olds       
                            The Gold Cell


July 4, 2012

                                                                 Shattered Celebration

                                                        Holiday soused air breaks open
                                                        in hushed wallops, split
                                                        by screeching blades of sound
                                                        without force enough
                                                        to penetrate and scoop up thoughts
                                                        from history's trenches,

                                                        for on Independence Day
                                                        you refuse watermelon slices
                                                        and barbecue picnics
                                                        to curl in your rocker
                                                        and fire up images
                                                        from last year's July fourth
                                                        at the St. Paul's rodeo.

                                                        Fireworks' kinetic waterfalls
                                                        can't be resurrected
                                                        over coffee steam next morning,
                                                        so my voiced sparks send
                                                        you launching upstairs--
                                                        lit like a Roman Candle
                                                        spewing to join the show.

                                                        Tense as a bullfrog
                                                        split seconds before the hissing
                                                        firecracker blows,
                                                        city pets become coyotes
                                                        as you perch cat-calm on window sill
                                                        and I crowd the ledge with childish chatter.

                                                        To a beaming audience's delight
                                                        glowing yellow jellyfish floats
                                                        through smoke cloud oceans.
                                                        Quicker than a magician's bouquet
                                                        it implodes, disappearing without trace.

                                                        Suddenly muscle after muscle knots
                                                        while whistles streak my numbing head.
                                                        Jerking like a puppet on beginner's string,
                                                        I taste the sweat-salt terror
                                                        of the vets' 4th:
                                                        guts taut, then spilling
                                                        shattered flesh rainbows
                                                        in a moist, tropic squall
                                                        shamelessly inhuman.

                                                        --Nothing Else Matters


July 26, 2011

                                                    Polonius Passing Through a Stage

                                                    Try to be yourself, they told the child.

                                                    I tried.  Accumulating all those years

                                                    The blue annuities of silence some called

                                                    Wisdom, I heard sunstorms and exploding stars,

                                                    The legions screaming in the German wood--

                                                    Old violence petrifying where it stood.

                                                    The company in my Globe Theatre rants

                                                    Its Famous Histories, the heroes fall

                                                    In ketchup and couplets.  Ten heavenly don'ts

                                                    Botch up a selfhood, but where there's a Will

                                                    He's away.  Rotting at ease, a ghostly doll--

                                                    What is that scratching on my heart's wall?

                                                    I tried to be myself.  The silence grew

                                                    Till I could hear the tiniest Mongol horde

                                                    Scuffle the Gobi, a pony's felted shoe...

                                                    Then from the fiery pit that self-born bird

                                                    Arose.  A rat!  The unseen good old man--

                                                    That sort of thing always brings the house down.

                                                                                           Howard Nemerov

                                                            THE WINTER LIGHTNING


July 16, 2011

                                                    The Buddha's Last Instructions

                                                    "Make of yourself a light,"

                                                    said the Buddha,

                                                    before he died.

                                                    I think of this every morning

                                                    as the east begins

                                                    to tear off its many clouds

                                                    of darkness, to send up the first

                                                    signal--a white fan

                                                    streaked with pink and violet,

                                                    even green.

                                                    An old man, he lay down

                                                    between two sala trees,

                                                    and he might have said anything,

                                                    knowing it was his final hour.

                                                    The light burns upward,

                                                    it thickens and settles over the fields.

                                                    Around him, the villagers gathered

                                                    and stretched forward to listen.

                                                    Even before the sun itself

                                                    hangs, disattached, in the blue air,

                                                    I am touched everywhere

                                                    by its ocean of yellow waves.

                                                    No doubt he thought of everything

                                                    that had happened in his difficult life.

                                                    And then I feel the sun itself

                                                    as it blazes over the hills,

                                                    like a million flowers on fire--

                                                    clearly I'm not needed,

                                                    yet I feel myself turning

                                                    into something of inexplicable value.

                                                    Slowly, beneath the branches,

                                                    he raised his head.

                                                    He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

                                                                                Mary Oliver

                                                    NEW AND SELECTED POEMS

July 3, 2011

                                                                    The Answer

                                                                    'Stop! Stop! Stop!

                                                                    Stop in your tracks

                                                                    Because you are not with us

                                                                    You are holding everyone back.'

                                                                    'Friend you and your friends go your way

                                                                    And I'll go mine.

                                                                    I've enough water to survive

                                                                    But far too little wine.'

                                                                    (Crocodilopolis Papyrus no. 10743)

                                                                    --James Fenton

                                                                    (OUT OF DANGER)


July 30, 2010


        Then dirt scared me, because of the dirt
        he had put on her face. And her training bra
        scared me—the newspapers, morning and evening,
        kept saying it, training bra,
        as if the cups of it had been calling
        the breasts up—he buried her in it,
        perhaps he had never bothered to take it
        off. They found her underpants
        in a garbage can. And I feared the word
        eczema, like my acne and like
        the X in the paper which marked her body,
        as if he had killed her for not being flawless.
        I feared his name, Burton Abbott,
        the first name that was a last name,
        as if he were not someone specific.
        It was nothing one could learn from his face.
        His face was dull and ordinary,
        it took away what I’d thought I could count on
        about evil. He looked thin and lonely,
        it was horrifying, he looked almost humble.
        I felt awe that dirt was so impersonal,
        and pity for the training bra,
        pity and terror of eczema.
        And I could not sit on my mother’s electric
        blanket anymore, I began to have a
        fear of electricity—
        the good people, the parents, were going to
        fry him to death. This was what
        his parents had been telling us:
        Burton Abbott, Burton Abbott,
        death to the person, death to the home planet.
        The worst thing was to think of her,
        of what it had been to be her, alive,
        to be walked, alive, into that cabin,
        to look into those eyes, and see the human

                                --Sharon Olds

(published at http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/1954)



July 29, 2010

                                                        Boiler Bay

                                                        From Yaquina Head north to Otter Rock
                                                        sea and sky slowly gathered and grew dark
                                                        at mid-day. The wind turned itself around
                                                        inside caves it had carved into the land,
                                                        then curved over us with the open sound
                                                        of ecstasy. We took each other's hand.

                                                        In the May evening we began walking
                                                        the winter-beaten beach at
Boiler Bay,
                                                        celebrating our fourth year together,
                                                        not knowing how far we could go this year
                                                        but ready to face the change of season
                                                        in a place without comfort or shelter.

                                                        Wrapped in layers of wool, we were talking
                                                        about the endless months of harsh weather
                                                        and watching the waves at dusk in their gray
                                                        mass building force for another night's storm.
                                                        When my cane sank deep in sand she held me
                                                        up and led me to the edge of the sea.
                                                        We stared at the vanishing horizon,
                                                        where a first hope of spring began to form.

                                                                                         --Floyd Skloot

                                            (published at http://www.caffeinedestiny.com/poetry/skloot.html)



July 26, 2010
                                                    Drinking While Driving

                                                    It's August and I have not
                                                    Read a book in six months
                                                    except something called The Retreat from Moscow
                                                    by Caulaincourt
                                                    Nevertheless, I am happy
                                                    Riding in a car with my brother
                                                    and drinking from a pint of Old Crow.
                                                    We do not have any place in mind to go,
                                                    we are just driving.
                                                    If I closed my eyes for a minute
                                                    I would be lost, yet
                                                    I could gladly lie down and sleep forever
                                                    beside this road
                                                    My brother nudges me.
                                                    Any minute now, something will happen.

                                                                              --Raymond Carver


July 23, 2010

                                                As I Grew Older

                                                It was a long time ago.
                                                I have almost forgotten my dream.
                                                But it was there then,
                                                In front of me,
                                                Bright like a sun--
                                                My dream.
                                                And then the wall rose,
                                                Rose slowly,
                                                Between me and my dream.
                                                Rose until it touched the sky--
                                                The wall.
                                                I am black.
                                                I lie down in the shadow.
                                                No longer the light of my dream before me,
                                                Above me.
                                                Only the thick wall.
                                                Only the shadow.
                                                My hands!
                                                My dark hands!
                                                Break through the wall!
                                                Find my dream!
                                                Help me to shatter this darkness,
                                                To smash this night,
                                                To break this shadow
                                                Into a thousand lights of sun,
                                                Into a thousand whirling dreams
                                                Of sun!

                                                            --Langston Hughes


July 20, 2010

                                                When You Stop Growing

                                                I'm not getting any taller.

                                                A closet full of artifacts:

                                                pants with 24 inch knees,

                                                one double-breasted suit,

                                                wide ties.

                                                True, I'm using more belt.

                                                But look, down inside

                                                the skin, a child,

                                                wiseacre, full of street cant

                                                and knives, is clawing up

                                                to see out of the eyeholes.

                                                                        --John Woods

                                                (published in TURNING TO LOOK BACK)


July 19, 2010

                                                Morning Glory

                                                The faces of the teachers
                                                know we have failed and failed
                                                yet they focus beyond, on the windowsill
                                                the names of distant galaxies
                                                and trees.

                                                We have come in dragging.
                                                If someone would give us
                                                a needle and thread, or send us
                                                on a mission to collect something
                                                at a store, we could walk for twenty years
                                                sorting it out.  How do we open,
                                                when we are so full?

                                                The teachers have more faith than we do.
                                                They have organized into units.
                                                We would appreciate units
                                                if we gave them a chance.
                                                Nothing will ever again be so clear.

                                                The teachers look at our papers
                                                when they would rather be looking at
                                                a fine scallop of bark
                                                or their fathers and mothers thin as lace,
                                                their own teachers remaining in front
                                                of a class at the back of their minds.
                                                So many seasons of rain, sun, wind
                                                have crystallized their teachers.
                                                They shine like something on a beach.
                                                But we don’t see that yet.

                                                We’re fat with binders and forgetting.
                                                We’re shaping the name of a new love
                                                on  the underside of our thumb.
                                                We’re diagnosing rumor and trouble
                                                and fear.  We hear the teachers
                                                as if they were far off, speaking
                                                down a tube.  Sometimes
                                                a whole sentence gets through.

                                                But the teachers don’t give up.
                                                They rise, dress, appear before us
                                                crisp and hopeful.  They have a plan.
                                                If cranes can fly 1,000 miles
                                                or that hummingbird return from Mexico
                                                to find, curled on its crooked fence, a new vine,
                                                surely.  We may dip into the sweet
                                                together, if we hover long enough.

                                                --Naomi Shihab Nye
                                                (published in FUEL)


July 18, 2010

                                                                A SHORT DROP TO NOTHING

                                                                I can’t say what of this day or its lack
                                                                has caused me to weary on this floating dock
                                                                in the drift of the water’s warp and wrest,
                                                                with the indifferent sun, that seed-heavy sack,
                                                                tremulous over the pines, spilling its chaff.

                                                                Geese lift from the far hill in the last light,
                                                                unfurl above alders, dip and scrape across the pond,
                                                                and I don’t know how much longer I can wait
                                                                as the wind, smelling of leaf rot and dung,
                                                                tugs the evening over this darkening land.

                                                                                                  --Judy Jordan



July 17, 2010

                                                        The World of Ice Cream and Everything
                                                                                            --for Erin

                                                        My thirteen year old daughter and I drive

                                                        home from Dairy Queen.  Heath Bar blizzards

                                                        are the focus of our day until we pass Texaco

                                                        with its green belt fir trees.  Fifty feet up one tree

                                                        someone has nailed a hand-painted sign:

                                                        ABORTION IS MURDER.

                                                        This time of year the new growth

                                                        on fir trees looks like thousands of green hands

                                                        giving the finger.  I see church men on tv,

                                                        martyrs for what is right,

                                                        right, and my god,

                                                        I'm driving, screaming,

                                                        Children, women.

                                                        This thirteen year old glides

                                                        a scoop of soft ice cream into her mouth.

                                                        She turns to me, smiles, says,

                                                        Dad, God isn't everything.

                                                                                --Kevin Miller

                                                        (published in LIGHT THAT WHISPERS MORNING)



July 16, 2010


                                                        Gar unguarded

                                                        low inside Indiana's

                                                        two o'clock heat


                                                        the plastic lure and lets go--

                                                        not believing the world

                                                        has turned so hard.

                                                        It has.

                                                        And there are no limits to art.

                                                        So hand me that arrow

                                                        and take the paddle.

                                                        There, toward the teeth,

                                                        the shad-long



                                                        But seeing it eat again

                                                        and again

                                                        for its own ancient self

                                                        makes my heart

                                                        so terribly full of gar,

                                                        the underworld

                                                        insatiability of it all.

                                                        Bow drawn

                                                        behind the steel point

                                                        its simple head

                                                        won't know from lightning

                                                        as we devolve

                                                        in the Eveless garden

                                                        without hunger

                                                        or knowledge.

                                                        Who needs to know the past

                                                        when we can see the gar

                                                        and kill it?

                                                                    --Henry Hughes

                                                        (published in MEN HOLDING EGGS)



July 15, 2010


                                                        It is easier to outsmart a fox

                                                        than to outswim a shark.

                                                        One out of every seven drivers is armed;

                                                        the other six have only their fingers.

                                                        History is the story we make up

                                                        to explain the inevitable,

                                                       for which we are never ready.

                                                        It is far more entertaining to watch the Pope

                                                        pretending to be a contortionist

                                                        than it is to watch a contortionist

                                                        pretending to be the Pope.

                                                        Geologists refuse to admit

                                                        that many stones seem to enjoy

                                                        moving from place to place.

                                                        The real problems of our culture

                                                        can be deduced from the fact

                                                        that we name mountains after men.

                                                        If you can't get what you want from me

                                                        with flattery, flatter my dog.

                                                        That always works.

                                                                    --Richard Shelton

                                                        (published in THE LAST PERSON TO HEAR YOUR VOICE)


July 13, 2010


                                                        The fingers on this keyboard
                                                        have traced muscles
                                                        on your thighs and back,
                                                        even now struggling
                                                        to encompass what they touched.

                                                        They remember a potter's wheel
                                                        and clay that slipped
                                                        into forms the kilns hardened,
                                                        what flowers filled those pots,
                                                        what filled the air.

                                                        And they picked cherries, too,
                                                        high in sunny branches, and apples,
                                                        plums, even strawberries
                                                        coddled in straw.  They kneaded
                                                        dough for pies and started
                                                        at the oven's hot breath.

                                                        Once they ran across a tongue's tip
                                                        and slid down pages of dictionaries
                                                        searching for the right word
                                                        to flavor their speech
                                                        until finally sleeping
                                                        in the marrow of their exhaustion.

                                                        These days they dance
                                                        to the artist on the radio
                                                        hiding your name in their impatience
                                                        drummed on the wheel
                                                        of a car they steer--

                                                        wanting a spine's landscape,
                                                        wanting a heart beat's map.

                                                                    --Sally Jo Sorensen

                                                        (published in POEM)



July 12, 2010

                                                        For Whatever Reason


                                                        Power, Lust, Confusion, and desire.

                                                        Sweet embracements of our world on fire.

                                                        Let me lecture you on life, love, and death.

                                                        I'm sure you can figure out the rest.

                                                        Death can come as quickly as a bullet in the head.

                                                        It can come creeping slowly get you in bed.

                                                        Death comes regardless of your feelings.

                                                        It's the final card life is dealing.

                                                        Love, love is full of hills and valleys.

                                                        Like a captain to the thousand in the galley.

                                                        Life, There are plenty of highs and plenty of lows.

                                                        There are things I can teach you, but things you should know.

                                                        There are always ends that we have to meet at every corner on every street.

                                                        There are wishes that just seem to come true.

                                                        There are hopes in the distance called dreams, those are yours to pursue.

                                                        Material wealth has come to rule our kingdom.

                                                        Skeletons in our closets for whatever reason.

                                                        When you first held me my mystery was unleashed.

                                                        You turned me human from the beast.

                                                        We're whirling, trapped in a room, where no one else has the key.

                                                        Open your mind and set your soul free.

                                                        In just one moment I was no longer blind.

                                                        I watched as she made me with her eyes.

                                                        There has to be a reality different than the one I experience.

                                                        One not based on money or revenge, one based on fairness

                                                        We believed and entrusted good faith in so many, just to find lies.

                                                        Life has become routine, here's your ticket enjoy the ride.

                                                        Peace of mind exists in simple things, like waves crashing on the ocean shore.

                                                        By spending time with your loved ones just a little more.

                                                        Do you realize that our lives have become similar to a television?

                                                        Sometimes on, Sometimes off.

                                                        Why have we been left here never knowing when to cry, whisper, or talk?


                                                                                    --Thomas Ward

                                                        (published on World Wide Web)


July 11, 2010

                                                                        The Summer Day

                                                    Who made the world?

                                                    Who made the swan, and the black bear?

                                                    Who made the grasshopper?

                                                    This grasshopper, I mean--

                                                    the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

                                                    the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

                                                    who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--

                                                    who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

                                                    Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

                                                    Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

                                                    I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

                                                    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

                                                    into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

                                                    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

                                                    which is what I have been doing all day.

                                                    Tell me, what else should I have done?

                                                    Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

                                                    Tell me, what is it you plan to do

                                                    with your one wild and precious life?

                                                                                --Mary Oliver

                                                    (published in NEW AND SELECTED POEMS)


July 10, 2010

                                                                The Hound

                                                                was still standing in the narrow space

                                                                his forepaws resting against the side.

                                                                He must have leaped after the raccoon

                                                                from the large rock on the uphill slope

                                                                to the hollow, topless trunk

                                                                and losing his balance

                                                                slipped down to the tinder below.

                                                                How he must have bayed

                                                                might after thirsty night

                                                                at the moon and stars.

                                                                until the dry throat was silent

                                                                and the vital organs sucked moisture

                                                                from bone and muscle

                                                                until they too dried and mummified

                                                                and the eyes

                                                                could no longer watch the night sky.

                                                                            --Arnold Perrin

                                                                (published in WINDOW)


July 9, 2010

                                                    Saint Francis and the Sow

                                                    The bud
                                                    stands for all things,
                                                    even for those things that don't flower,
                                                    for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
                                                    though sometimes it is necessary
                                                    to reteach a thing its loveliness,
                                                    to put a hand on its brow
                                                    of the flower
                                                    and retell it in words and in touch
                                                    it is lovely
                                                    until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
                                                    as Saint Francis
                                                    put his hand on the creased forehead
                                                    of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
                                                    blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
                                                    began remembering all down her thick length,
                                                    from the earthen snout all the way
                                                    through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
                                                    from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
                                                    down through the great broken heart
                                                    to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
                                                    from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
                                                    the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

                                                                                                    -- Galway Kinnell
                                                    Online Source: http://faculty.washington.edu/jnh/vol1no1/sow.htm


July 8, 2010


                                                            My last view of Buddy

                                                            beat the soft tattoo of boots on the pier,

                                                            the bittersweet chocolate of

                                                            water-worn eyes

                                                            in the chanty of cigarette fireflies.

                                                            We knew his soul tapped

                                                            the dark singing barnacles,

                                                            the crab craven orgies of gulls

                                                            that scramble for scraps on the wharf.

                                                            He painted real portraits of crows

                                                            feather fringed crossing sun worms

                                                            funneled through hollows of warm

                                                            nights rendered in jazz

                                                            ringing glasses: paper bagged fifths

                                                            benched to the dawn edged drizzle mist

                                                            gay as the city warped clouds.

                                                                                --Jo Nelson

                                                            (published in MAIN STREET RAG)


July 7, 2010

                                                        Rooms to Let Dream

                                                        So says a sign

                                                        on a harbor hotel

                                                        of an island city

                                                        named for Hermes.

                                                        So say the rooms

                                                        behind numbered doors

                                                        hermetic against

                                                        untimely waking.

                                                        From each door's

                                                        quicksilver knob

                                                        hang the words

                                                        Do Not Disturb--

                                                        magic posted

                                                        to safekeep

                                                        those winged bouquets

                                                        delivered in sleep.

                                                                --Paulann Petersen

                                                        (published in FIREWEED)


July 6, 2010

                                                                    "Daddy" Warbucks
                                                                                                                    In Memoriam
                                                            What's missing is the eyeballs
                                                            in each of us, but it doesn't matter
                                                            because you've got the bucks, the bucks, the bucks.
                                                            You let me touch them, fondle the green faces
                                                            lick at their numbers and it lets you be
                                                            my "Daddy!" "Daddy!" and though I fought all alone
                                                            with molesters and crooks, I knew your money
                                                            would save me, your courage, your "I've had
                                                            considerable experience as a soldier...
                                                            fighting to win millions for myself, it's true.
                                                            But I did win," and me praying for "our men out there"
                                                            just made it okay to be an orphan whose blood was no one's,
                                                            whose curls were hung up on a wire machine and electrified,
                                                            while you built and unbuilt intrigues called nations,
                                                            and did in the bad ones, always, always,
                                                            and always came at my perils, the black Christs of childhood,
                                                            always came when my heart stood naked in the street
                                                            and they threw apples at it or twelve-day-old-dead-fish.

                                                            "Daddy!" "Daddy," we all won that war,
                                                            when you sang me the money songs
                                                            Annie, Annie you sang
                                                            and I knew you drove a pure gold car
                                                            and put diamonds in you coke
                                                            for the crunchy sound, the adorable sound
                                                            and the moon too was in your portfolio,
                                                            as well as the ocean with its sleepy dead.
                                                            And I was always brave, wasn't I?
                                                            I never bled?
                                                            I never saw a man expose himself.
                                                            No. No.
                                                            I never saw a drunkard in his blubber.
                                                            I never let lightning go in one car and out the other.
                                                            And all the men out there were never to come.
                                                            Never, like a deluge, to swim over my breasts
                                                            and lay their lamps in my insides.
                                                            No. No.
                                                            Just me and my "Daddy"
                                                            and his tempestuous bucks
                                                            rolling in them like corn flakes
                                                            and only the bad ones died.

                                                            But I died yesterday,
                                                            "Daddy," I died,
                                                            swallowing the Nazi-Jap animal
                                                            and it won't get out
                                                            it keeps knocking at my eyes,
                                                            my big orphan eyes,
                                                            kicking! Until eyeballs pop out
                                                            and even my dog puts up his four feet
                                                            and lets go
                                                            of his military secret
                                                            with his big red tongue
                                                            flying up and down
                                                            like yours should have

                                                            as we board our velvet train.

                                                                               --Anne Sexton

                                                            (published on WorldWideWeb)


July 4, 2010

                                                        A LANDSCAPE WITH CRUTCHES

                                                        So many crutches. Now even the daylight
                                                        Needs one, even the smoke
                                                        As it goes up. And the shacks --
                                                        One per customer -- they move off
                                                        In a single file with difficulty,

                                                        I said, with a hell of an effort . . .
                                                        And the trees behind them about to stumble,
                                                        And the ants on their toy-crutches,
                                                        And the wind on its ghost-crutch.

                                                        I can't get any peace around here:
                                                        The bread on its artificial limbs,
                                                        A headless doll in a wheelchair,
                                                        And my mother, mind you, using
                                                        Two knives for crutches as she squats to pee.

                                                                    --C h a r l e s   S i m i c

                                                        (published in SECLECTED EARLY POEMS)


July 3, 2010

Blackberry Eating

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry -- eating in late September.

                                                                                         --Galway Kinnell
                                                        published in SELECTED POEMS (Bloodaxe, 2001)


July 2, 2010

                                                                In Fear and Valor

                                                                My mother was afraid

                                                                and in my life her fear has hid:

                                                                when Perseus holds the Gorgon's head,

                                                                she cringes, naked.

                                                                Clothed in my body, wild,

                                                                even as I grew strong,

                                                                my mother, weeping, suffered

                                                                the whole world's wrong.

                                                                Vanquished and trembling before she died,

                                                                she claimed a place in my every limb:

                                                                my mother, lost in my stride, fears Death,

                                                                as I hunt him.

                                                                                    --William Stafford

                                                                (published in THE WAY IT IS)


July 1, 2010

                                                                The Power of Toads

                                                                The oak toad and the red-spotted toad love their love
                                                                In a spring rain, calling and calling, breeding
                                                                Through a stormy evening clasped atop their mates.
                                                                Who wouldn't sing--anticipating the belly pressed hard
                                                                Against a female's spine in the steady rain
                                                                Below writhing skies, the safe moist jelly effluence
                                                                Of a final exaltation?

                                                                There might be some toads who actually believe
                                                                That the loin-shaking thunder of the banks, the evening
                                                                Filled with damp, the warm softening mod and rising
                                                                Riverlets are the facts of their own persistent
                                                                Performance.  Maybe they think that when they sing
                                                                They sing more than songs, creating rain and mist
                                                                By their voices, initiating the union of water and dusk,
                                                                Females materializing on the banks shaped perfectly
                                                                By their calls.

                                                                And some toads may be convinced they have forced
                                                                The heavens to twist and moan by the continual expansion
                                                                Of their lung-sacs pushing against the dusk.
                                                                And some might believe the splitting light,
                                                                The soaring grey they see above them are nothing
                                                                But a vision of the longing in their groins,
                                                                A fertile spring heaven caught in its entirety
                                                                At the pit of the gut.

                                                                And they might be right.
                                                                Who knows whether these broken heavens
                                                                Could exist tonight separate from trills and toad ringings?
                                                                Maybe the particles of this rain descending on the pond
                                                                Are nothing but the visual manifestation of whistles
                                                                And cascading love clicks in the shore grasses.
                                                                Raindrops-finding-earth and coitus could very well
                                                                Be known here as one.

                                                                We could investigate the causal relationship
                                                                Between rainstorm and love-by-pondside if we wished.
                                                                We could lie down in the grasses by the water's edge
                                                                And watch to see exactly how the heavens were moved,
                                                                Thinking hard of thunder, imagining all the courses
                                                                That slow, clean waters might take across our bodies,
                                                                Believing completely in the rolling and pressing power
                                                                Of heavens and thighs.  And in the end we might be glad,
                                                                Even if all we discovered for certain was the slick, sweet
                                                                Promise of good love beneath dark skies inside warm rains.

                                                                                        --Pattiann Rogers

                                                                (published in THE TATOOED LADY IN THE GARDEN)


July 31, 2009
                                                            The Poet at Seven

                                                            She watched her hand flicker, flash out,
                                                            recoil, whiter than lightning,
                                                            thin as a snake's tongue, tensile;

                                                            and then the stain spreading
                                                            on the other child's cheek, a live thing
                                                            that transferred itself to her, her face.

                                                            Can the body have a life its own,
                                                            apart from the mind?  Does it work
                                                            that way, swiftly, without intention?

                                                            Anger.  Anger like her mother's.  But
                                                            she felt no anger, seeing her friend's
                                                            red face, only wonder at what she'd done.

                                                            And wonder as she learned her mind
                                                            was a hidden place, deep as grass,
                                                            thick as the scent of peach-blossom,

                                                            quieter than sky seen through branches;
                                                            a quiet into which she moved, swimming
                                                            down, down, down through dark waters

                                                            toward trees, beasts, changing weather:
                                                            the place her self lived.  It waited for her,
                                                            the country of resemblences.

                                                                                                    --Beth Bentley

                                                        (published in VITAL SIGNS AN ANTHOLOGY EDITED BY RONALD WALLACE)


July 30, 2009

                                                                In spring my future

                                                                is but warm, humid air--lost

                                                                each time I expire.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert


July 29, 2009
                                                                Where to Look

                                                                beauty in your life

                                                                beauty in your wife

                                                                where do you look to find

                                                                ...beauty in your strife?

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                                (from A FIRST COLLECTION OF HAI-CHOO)


July 28, 2009

                                                Toward The Heart of Priscilla Jean


                                                Gee, Mom, I guess God

                                                packed a lot of surprises

                                                into your small but sturdy body:

                                                a womb fearless enough to deliver

                                                eight vibrant souls into this

                                                challenging world,

                                                and a heart big enough

                                                to love them, and their own,

                                                through storm after storm.


                                                A heart this strong keeps making room

                                                for the defects borne of the womb:

                                                desertion and return,

                                                failure and rebound,

                                                loss of the innocent and

                                                discovery of the eternal,

                                                the proud coming out

                                                and the humility of rebirth,

                                                strength through persistence,

                                                vulnerability to love and

                                                wandering—yet never too far.


                                                No wonder such a heart,

                                                welcoming so many

                                                so often

                                                and so much,

                                                has pulled a part of you

                                                into its sphere!


                                                Now, let all those hearts

                                                that beat with your rhythm

                                                return to you

                                                the steady strength

                                                needed to bear this trespass

                                                and forgive all past trespasses.


                                                Please allow us our small

                                                jealousy that it’s your gut,

                                                not one of your loving eight,

                                                poised to smother you

                                                with such visceral intimacy.


                                                --Tim Van Ert

                            (from IF YOU LIVE, YOUR TIME WILL COME)


July 27, 2009
                                                            Coronado Beach

                                                            small things count--
                                                            just closing my eyes
                                                            without breaking stride.

                                                            The sand now reaches my senses
                                                            with a thousand warm fingertips,
                                                            a loving foot clasp
                                                            like when I cup Twister's
                                                            sharp feline fingers
                                                            as she splays out on her back--
                                                            paws waving languidly in the air.
                                                            Or when you twine
                                                            your fingers with mine
                                                            after I've pulled the covers
                                                            all the way up.

                                                            Carpet of fool's gold-sprinkled sand
                                                            vanishes in daydream flight with gull
                                                            on wind that fingers hair and smooths cheeks.
                                                            Cushioned pounding,
                                                            heel after heel,
                                                            dog bark and child shout,
                                                            blend with the sound of water
                                                            falling back onto itself.

                                                            Eyes still closed easily,
                                                            I hear your small cries
                                                            after my coarse barks--
                                                            body falling back
                                                            onto body
                                                            with another small taste.

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)


July 26, 2009
                                                                The Journey

                                                                One day you finally knew

                                                                what you had to do, and began,

                                                                though the voices around you

                                                                kept shouting

                                                                their bad advice--

                                                                though the whole house

                                                                began to tremble

                                                                and you felt the old tug

                                                                at your ankles.

                                                                "Mend my life!"

                                                                each voice cried.

                                                                But you didn't stop.

                                                                You knew what you had to do,

                                                                though the wind pried

                                                                with its stiff fingers

                                                                at the very foundations,

                                                                though their melancholy

                                                                was terrible.

                                                                It was already late

                                                                enough, and a wild night,

                                                                and the road full of fallen

                                                                branches and stones.

                                                                But little by little,

                                                                as you left their voices behind,

                                                                the stars began to burn

                                                                through the sheets of clouds,

                                                                and there was a new voice

                                                                which you slowly

                                                                recognized as your own,

                                                                that kept you company

                                                                as you strode deeper and deeper

                                                                into the world,

                                                                determined to do

                                                                the only thing you could do--

                                                                determined to save

                                                                the only life you could save.

                                                                                        --Mary Oliver

                                                                (published in NEW AND SELECTED POEMS)


July 25, 2009
                                                                The Sun Bathers

                                                                A tramp thawing out
                                                                on a doorstep
                                                                against an east wall
                                                                Nov. 1, 1933:

                                                                a young man begrimed
                                                                and in an old
                                                                army coat
                                                                wriggling and scratching

                                                                while a fat negress
                                                                in a yellow-house window
                                                                leans out and yawns

                                                                into the fine weather

                                                                        --William Carlos Willams

                                                (published in SELECTED POEMS Edited by Charles Tomlinson)


July 24, 2009
                                                                Time to Take the Dive

                                                                Music flows before the wine
                                                                To pair's peninsulas washed
                                                                        south Atlantic torrid.

                                                                In her placid head surf sounds
                                                                Repeat simple and soothing.
                                                                In his, driftwood from past ports;
                                                                Fallen Troys litter sea floor
                                                                        with columns in ruin.

                                                                Throughout the song breaks they float
                                                                Until a melody pulls
                                                                        two bodies together.

                                                                Finally, the lights come on.
                                                                Everywhere in her body,
                                                                Somewhere outside his sweep
                                                                Her heart still beats--some place
                                                                        beyond his beach retreats.

                                                                Warmed by her Samba rhythms
                                                                What new shore waits to welcome
                                                                        this Sao Paulo mermaid?

                                                                                        --Tim Van Ert


July 23, 2009
                                                            Summer Suitor

                                                            July's tardy sun slides below your horizon.
                                                            In their high pitch, mosquitoes summon seconds
                                                            convert from wave to point

                                                            as thoughts press to become flesh.
                                                            I watch your form raise its mockery
                                                            of sunset's unlimited line

                                                            and call out honey in tribute
                                                            to day rendered dusk by your sex.
                                                            Morning reminds me I won't stand

                                                            in muddy water till it clears.
                                                            So I carry away your love songs
                                                            like a wool suit in summer--

                                                            attractive, moist angles always itching inside.
                                                            The road's myriad voices ask me
                                                            what one voice-loss means.

                                                            Then I recall my Catholic mass choir:
                                                            first bass tremor's reassurance
                                                            that my deviance would not upset.

                                                            How will you receive me next time I warm
                                                            your foggy driveway with soft songs,
                                                            dressed loudly yet heard to mumble

                                                            words you mistake for secrets--
                                                            resist every impulse to pull
                                                            pointless clothes from my body?

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)


July 22, 2009
                                                            At the Esalen Baths

                                                            White-breasted like some beat penguins
                                                            the chorus of visiting dancers moves
                                                            slowly enough to be constantly touching,
                                                            weight shifting nervously between lower limbs.
                                                            Toweled torsos deny distinctive form
                                                            until, shook loose by giggles, they are molted.
                                                            Moving down the warm, wet, wooden steps
                                                            after disrobing all but their thoughts
                                                            they enter a room lit orange and red by human skin,
                                                            Like a brothel--minus the honky-tonk!

                                                            A more relaxed rhythm, the ceaseless surf,
                                                            is background music to the stops, gasps and groans
                                                            of tension released from brethren organs.
                                                            Older skin relaxes into crinkles,
                                                            fat shows itself in haphazard bulges--
                                                            like straw stuffed to make bedding,
                                                            quick, before the fire cools.
                                                            Aging breasts seek a resting place
                                                            closer, now, to the earth's center.

                                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from IF YOU LIVE, YOUR TIME WILL COME)


July 21, 2009

                                                            When the patience of patients

                                                                is required for staying

                                                            The doctors' doctoring,

                                                            I feel myself praying

                                                                that the doctor's patience

                                                            isn't sacrified to the patient's doctoring!

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from COLLECTED WORDS)



July 20, 2009
                                                           World Series

                                                           tell the cook to rip

                    my tv arms and legs

                    from dull diamonds

                    as I worship shadow play

                                     --Tim Van Ert

                                              (from  A FIRST COLLECTION OF HAI-CHOO)


July 19, 2009
                                                            The Eye

                                                            The narcissist's eye is blue, fringed with white and covered
                                                                with tempting salad leaves.

                                                            The purse-stealer's eye is yellow.

                                                            The eye of the non-combatant is white.  In the center is a
                                                                target rendered in green and black.

                                                            The voluptuary's eye comes to a point.  It is like a silo, the
                                                                echo of a halo.

                                                            The gravedigger's eye is hollow.  It is surrounded by a
                                                                thoroughly contemporary serenity.

                                                            The dynamite salesman's eye is like a pool, in which he who
                                                                leans to drink may be lost.  Drifting forever, like a cloud.

                                                            The maiden's eye is tucked under.

                                                            The billiard-player's eye comes to a point.  It is like a mild
                                                                wine.  Each billiard-player suffers from imperfect nostalgia.

                                                            The ghost's eye is green.

                                                            The poet's eye is like a candy.

                                                            The battleship captain's eye is like the light that falls in a glen,
                                                                when the doe has done with drinking.

                                                            The eye of the realist is inflatable.

                                                                                            --Michael Benedikt

                                                        (published in CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY
                                                                            edited by Donald Hall)


July 18, 2009
                                                            Still I Rise

                                                            You may write me down in history
                                                            With your bitter, twisted lies,
                                                            You may trod me in the very dirt
                                                            But still, like dust, I'll rise.

                                                            Does my sassiness upset you?
                                                            Why are you beset with gloom?
                                                            'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
                                                            Pumping in my living room.

                                                            Just like moons and like suns,
                                                            With the certainty of tides,
                                                            Just like hopes springing high,
                                                            Still I'll rise.

                                                            Did you want to see me broken?
                                                            Bowed head and lowered eyes?
                                                            Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
                                                            Weakened by my soulful cries.

                                                            Does my haughtiness offend you?
                                                            Don't you take it awful hard
                                                            'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
                                                            Diggin' in my own back yard.

                                                            You may shoot me with your words,
                                                            You may cut me with your eyes,
                                                            You may kill me with your hatefulness,
                                                            But still, like air, I'll rise.

                                                            Does my sexiness upset you?
                                                            Does it come as a surprise?
                                                            That I dance like I've got diamonds
                                                            At the meeting of my thighs?

                                                            Out of the huts of history's shame
                                                            I rise
                                                            Up from a past that's rooted in pain
                                                            I rise
                                                            I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
                                                            Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

                                                            Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
                                                            I rise
                                                            Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
                                                            I rise
                                                            Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
                                                            I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
                                                            I rise
                                                            I rise
                                                            I rise.

                                                                                        --Maya Angelou

                                                            (published in AND STILL I RISE)


July 17, 2009

                                                            Some motion in the train
                                                            frightens my stomach,

                                                            a notion in the brain
                                                            makes my mind queasy,

                                                            yet it's alienation
                                                            names my gut reaction.

                                                            Snake-bit, I slither
                                                            through my entrails

                                                            into that eternity
                                                            which holds my tale.

                                                            This perpetual pause
                                                            in waterfall mid-drop

                                                            is a silent answer
                                                            to the body vibrato;

                                                            the bass in this case
                                                            still reverberating

                                                            to the resonance
                                                            of a days' activities:

                                                                    winds of fate at 40 miles per
                                                                    past perpendicular thumb

                                                                    blow refuse down darkened lanes
                                                                    walked through retired beats

                                                                    light shreds and colored threads
                                                                    where heavy glasses had hung

                                                                    see somebody's lover
                                                                    reaching to kiss her

                                                                    she who laughs without effort,
                                                                    stunningly praising my German.

                                                        The train has stopped
                                                        but alienation rolls on--

                                                        time to talk to intestines,
                                                        or just to spill my guts?

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                        (from CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)


July 16, 2009
                                                                Islands of Time Connected

                                                                Move like that lucky ol' sun--

                                                                in no rush and no hurry.

                                                                Find no race needs be run

                                                                when you stay hushed and blurry.

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                                (from  A FIRST COLLECTION OF HAI-CHOO)


July 15, 2009

                                                               Mind like winter sea,

                                                                choppy, with all life

                                                                sinking for shelter--   

                                                                        March.  Still

                                                                        no dolphins lift

                                                                        water's horizon

                                                                        in games of chase.

                                                                        I roll over

                                                                        showers and grey skies

                                                                        toward piercing light that startles

                                                                        plunged soul.

                                                                        Brain lets slip like water

                                                                        a prayer to praise

                                                                        the steady heart

                                                                        pumping in my chest

                                                                break surface and fly.

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                                (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)


July 14, 2009

                                                                With so much

                                                                I don't know

                                                                and still so much

                                                                I have forgotten

                                                                I rejoice

                                                                for the wisdom

                                                                I have embraced

                                                                and incorporate the

                                                                brightness of memories

                                                                time cannot, and

                                                                Tim will not, erase.

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                (fron CREATE THAT LOVE THAT LOVE CREATES)


July 13, 2009
                                                            Sunset San Francisco

                                                            Breeze's salty air
                                                            Invites eyes to drink:
                                                            Bobbin' bodies, to
                                                            Whales rockin', fro
                                                            Thought-waves come and go.

                                                            Reflections dance
                                                            Along the waves
                                                            Resting restlessly
                                                            In shoreline fires
                                                            and children's eyes.

                                                            Drawing the day's
                                                            Last inward breath
                                                            All eyes mirrors
                                                            Reflecting there
                                                            E'er burning source.

                                                            Let's no human form
                                                            Obstruct heaven's show
                                                            Clouds beyond our grasp
                                                            Reach out to comfort
                                                            Trav'ling father sun.

                                                            Where my friend is the glory
                                                            The long-awaited sparkling
                                                            Of colors' brilliant delights?
                                                            Shall we put our gaze to sea
                                                            Let it soar free through the skies
                                                            Or dare we turn and see
                                                            The light in His children's eyes?

                                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (from COLLECTED WORDS)


July 12, 2009
                                                            Halloween, 1995

                                                            That was the night when the body dropped
                                                            its skin, the last costume fled the attic
                                                            and my father lay in his electric bed.

                                                            Where did the hair go?  An old tree sheds
                                                            twigs like memory.  The children
                                                            in wigs run loose, palms out,

                                                            swallowing mystery and sugar
                                                            while my drugged father, untethered
                                                            at last, turns blue from the toes up.

                                                            After the clock chokes on its magic number
                                                            who lets the air in?  When night seeps through
                                                            the eyes the tongue will forget its dance.

                                                            As the blue licked at his knees
                                                            we struggled like blind worms flushed
                                                            by rain, stranded in light.  Don't children stop

                                                            at the edge of the woods?  Don't saints
                                                            hold out their hands?  Then the nurse said:
                                                            What's farthest from the heart dies first.

                                                                            --Gary Stein, Silver Spring, Md.

                                                            (published in JAMA, October 27, 2004--Vol 292, No. 16)


July 11, 2009

                                                            We thought of ourselves as people of culture.
                                                                          How long will it be till others see us as that way again?


                                                            In her first home each book had a light around it.
                                                            The voices of distant centuries
                                                            floated in through open windows,
                                                            entering her soup and her mirror.
                                                            They slept with her in the same thick bed.

                                                            Someday she would go there.
                                                            Her voice, among all those voices.
                                                            In Iraq a book never had one owner--it had ten.
                                                            Lucky books, to be held often
                                                            and gently, by so many hands.

                                                            Later in American libraries she felt sad
                                                            for books no one ever checked out.

                                                            She lived in a country house beside a pond
                                                            and kept ducks, two male, one female.
                                                            She worried over the difficult relations
                                                            of triangles.  One of the ducks
                                                            often seemed depressed.
                                                            But not the same one.

                                                            During the war between her two countries
                                                            she watched the ducks more than ususal.
                                                            She stayed quiet with the ducks.
                                                            Some days they huddled among reeds
                                                            or floated together.

                                                            She could not call her family in Basra
                                                            which had grown farther away than ever
                                                            nor could they call her.  For nearly a year
                                                            she would not know who was alive,
                                                            who was dead.

                                                            The ducks were building a nest.

                                                                                Naomi Shihab Nye

                                                            (published in  FUEL)      


July 10, 2009

                                                            Summer screen door puckers, then smacks--
                                                            eructation of twin dust devils sired
                                                            by sudden acceleration through
                                                            a threatening squall of grey smoke
                                                            his lungs had spent hours exhaling.

                                                            He pauses on the porch, shakes head-to-tail
                                                            in ritual seduction of brighter humor,
                                                            then emerges expectant like the lipstick glossed
                                                            gladiola petal pushing past thin-sliced green sleeves.
                                                            Pasty face beneath red waves quickly dons
                                                            the newborn scowl of one introduced too soon to light.

                                                            Scrap pile rot radiates musk, directs olfactory tales
                                                            to settle into his cozy-couched mind as he goes
                                                            to his garden around the corner of the shed.
                                                            Instinctive smile greets plants in moats of holy water
                                                            sprinkled to bless their emerging leaves.

                                                            Mid-stride still, he leans forward--
                                                            his hug a thermometer of compost bin's radiance.
                                                            Lifting the lid is a two-sided struggle as worms,
                                                            mites and pill-bugs hustle for their lost darkness.
                                                            Seen from one corner of his eye a beast sharp
                                                            blue as steel settles on his open sandal.

                                                            First wasp glance animates mind and body
                                                            with adrenaline's prickly alarms,
                                                            while the steady gaze recruits
                                                            the balanced defense:  a composed respect
                                                            for the uplifting marvel of organic design.

                                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)


July 9, 2009


                                                                    Humanity, aging child,


                                                                    now weans from Mother Nature;


                                                                    lets fall her flowing breast milk


                                                                    to search for other secrets.


                                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                          (from A FIRST COLLECTION OF HAI-CHOO--LITTLE SNEEZES
                                                                    OF PROFOUND DITTYCISM)


July 8, 2009



                                        Warum mich

                                                                -warum nicht?


                                        Warum dich?                            Warum sicht…


                                        [Why me – why not?

                                        Why you?  Why the lot..?]

                                                                --Tim Van Ert

                                                                    OF PROFOUND DITTYCISM)



July 7, 2009
                                                            Salmon Berries

                                                            You yell as you slow,
                                                                        "Goin' to Huckleberry Ridge!"
                                                            We are soon talking
                                                                        about wild strawberries
                                                            tasted fresh from the ground
                                                                        in Mount Adams' wilderness.

                                                            My mind swerves to raspberries,
                                                                        dark and full of tiny seeds
                                                            that always take up lodging between my teeth.
                                                                        They can stay where they lay--
                                                            beside all the commercial fruits
                                                                        in the grocery store.

                                                            You wonder if salmon berries
                                                                        ever grow this far east?
                                                            Yesterday I saw a huge black bear
                                                                        paw through a distinctive patch.
                                                            Those are bears of a black that shines,
                                                                        we agree in smiling respect.

                                                            Heading opposite you at the trail, I walk alone
                                                                        through a horde of huckleberries
                                                            when a pair of fleshy orange globes flash
                                                                        their response to your question.
                                                            One rests on your still-warm car seat.
                                                                        I ate the smaller one.

                                                                                    --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in THE COMSTOCK REVIEW)


July 6, 2009

                                                            I feel silly being here--
                                                            I've just got a cough.
                                                            Not like any other, though...
                                                            There's nothing to it--just a cough.

                                                            If it was bronchitis, OK,
                                                            I had that before plenty.
                                                            So then hayfever runs
                                                            through my head.
                                                            What d'ya say, Doc,

                                                            I don't even have a fever;
                                                            you must think I'm nuts!
                                                            Nothing hurts, just this
                                                            nagging cough
                                                            keeps disturbing
                                                            my sleep, my dreams.

                                                            Ya know, Gramp's got lung cancer...

                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                            (published in ARCHIVES OF FAMILY MEDICINE)


July 5, 2009
                                                On the Debt My Mother Owed to Sears Roebuck

                                                        Summer was dry, dry the garden
                                                        our beating hearts, on that farm, dry
                                                        with the rows of corn the grasshoppers
                                                        came happily to strip, in hordes, the first
                                                        thing I knew about locusts was they came
                                                        dry under foot like the breaking of
                                                        a mechanical bare heart which collapses
                                                        from an unkind an incessant word whispered
                                                        in the house of the major farmer
                                                        and the catalogue company,
                                                        from no fault of anyone
                                                        my father coming home tired
                                                        and grinning down the road, turning in
                                                        is the tank full?  thinking of the horse
                                                        and my lazy arms thinking of the water
                                                        so far below the well platform.

                                                        On the debt my mother owed to sears roebuck
                                                        we brooded, she in the house, a little heavy
                                                        from too much corn meal, she
                                                        a little melancholy from the dust of the fields
                                                        in her eye, the only title she ever had to lands--
                                                        and man's ways winged their way to her through the mail
                                                        saying so much per month
                                                        so many months, this is yours, take it
                                                        take it, take it, take it
                                                        and in the corncrib, like her lives in that house
                                                        the mouse nibbled away at the cob's yellow grain
                                                        until six o'clock when her sorrows grew less
                                                        and my father came home

                                                        On the debt my mother owed to sears roebuck?
                                                        I have nothing to say, it gave me clothes to
                                                        wear to school,
                                                        and my mother brooded

                                                          in the rooms of the house, the kitchen, waiting
                                                        for the men she knew, her husband, her son
                                                        from work, from school, from the air of locusts
                                                        and dust masking the hedges of fields she knew
                                                        in her eye as a vague land where she lived,
                                                        boundaries, whose tractors chugged pulling harrows
                                                        pulling discs, pulling great yields from the earth
                                                        pulse for the armies in two hemispheres, 1943
                                                        and she was part of that stay at home army to keep
                                                        things going, owing that debt.

                                                                                --Edward Dorn

                                                        (published in CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY
                                                                            edited by Donal Hall)


July 4, 2009
                                                        Two Men

                                                        and two women were racing.  Sometimes
                                                        a man won, sometimes a woman.

                                                        In the course of this event, the contestants
                                                        grew fond of one another.  The men
                                                        were ashamed of themselves, however,
                                                        and each chose a wife.

                                                        Now the teams raced.  Sometimes one team
                                                        won, sometimes the other.

                                                        "Let's make this more interesting,"
                                                        said the men and they gave one of the women
                                                        a Norge and a Hoover and a Singer to carry.
                                                        The other had to hold a baby and every
                                                        so often douche or shave her legs without
                                                        stopping and without putting down the baby.
                                                        Sometimes one of the women won, sometimes
                                                        the other.

                                                        "Let's get in on this," said the men
                                                        and they sprinted to the wire, looking back
                                                        over their shoulders and laughing.

                                                        "It's all over," they said, "we won."
                                                        But the women kept on

                                                                                --Ronald Koertge

                                                        (published in VITAL SIGNS an anthology
                                                                            edited by Ronald Wallace)


July 3, 2009
                                                        Earth Lesson

                                                        The greater your faults

                                                        the more devastating

                                                        each quake.

                                                        I swear I hear the earth grumble

                                                        before I lift my bloody lips

                                                        from floor's hard kiss.

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                (from A FIRST COLLECTION OF HAI-CHOO--LITTLE SNEEZES
                                                                    OF PROFOUND DITTYCISM)


July 2, 2009
                                                        Pacific Crest Trail Ascent

                                                        Whistled screech ricochets
                                                        off cold mountain boulders.
                                                        Two explorers halt.
                                                        The yearling marmot
                                                        pauses to eye me,
                                                        hurdles back uphill.

                                                        Hanging high overhead,
                                                        spectral compact disk image
                                                        disappears as I pass
                                                        under wild spider's
                                                        summer fishing net.

                                                        Mountain blueberries wait
                                                        for August's sunny month
                                                        to offer juices to tired packer--
                                                        water replaces sweat,
                                                        sugar invigorates muscles,
                                                        wordless chewing rejuvenates.

                                                        Four inches deep in clear water
                                                        speckled frog kicks ninety degrees left,
                                                        faces his observer head-on.
                                                        After surfacing for air and a closer look,
                                                        he darts away in search of prey.

                                                        Drawing tight its string of survey circles
                                                        compact hawk drops like a stone
                                                        to lift away the flopping trout.
                                                        We both have enough for now.

                                                                            --Tim Van Ert

                                                      (published in SEEDS ON A WIND RIDE)


July 1, 2009
                                                        Shattered Celebration

                                                        Holiday soused air breaks open
                                                        in hushed wallops, split
                                                        by screeching blades of sound
                                                        without force enough
                                                        to penetrate and scoop up thoughts
                                                        from history's trenches,

                                                        for on Independence Day
                                                        you refuse watermelon slices
                                                        and barbecue picnics
                                                        to curl in your rocker
                                                        and fire up images
                                                        from last year's July fourth
                                                        at the St. Paul's rodeo.

                                                        Fireworks' kinetic waterfalls
                                                        can't be resurrected
                                                        over coffee steam next morning,
                                                        so my voiced sparks send
                                                        you launching upstairs--
                                                        lit like a Roman Candle
                                                        spewing to join the show.

                                                        Tense as a bullfrog
                                                        split seconds before the hissing
                                                        firecracker blows,
                                                        city pets become coyotes
                                                        as you perch cat-calm on window sill
                                                        and I crowd the ledge with childish chatter.

                                                        To a beaming audience's delight
                                                        glowing yellow jellyfish floats
                                                        through smoke cloud oceans.
                                                        Quicker than a magician's bouquet
                                                        it implodes, disappearing without trace.

                                                        Suddenly muscle after muscle knots
                                                        while whistles streak my numbing head.
                                                        Jerking like a puppet on beginner's string,
                                                        I taste the sweat-salt terror
                                                        of the vets' 4th:
                                                        guts taut, then spilling
                                                        shattered flesh rainbows
                                                        in a moist, tropic squall
                                                        shamelessly inhuman.

                                                                        --Tim Van Ert

                                                        (published in NOTHING ELSE MATTERS)