Posts Tagged 'prose poem'

Spring scramble

Dark chocolate jumps from hand to mouth,
Crusty bread sings aioli not hymns.

On the rooftop our just washed sheets dance and flirt,
April wind sees them waving, so much like old friends.

I chew my pencil for juice and for comfort,
scramble my metaphors like lizards not eggs.

Lettuce opens like a rose, fork hovers full
at the first cool mouthful of spring.

I saw

I saw – I thought I saw – the outward flight of birds
rising up from the water, this watery tomb,
this sunken parish.

I saw – I thought I saw – the roots of a drowning oak
reaching out, gasping for air. The children dancing
in the mud had keys in their mouths.

I saw – I thought I saw – a bridge, broken down broken
down I thought I saw a white fox cry,
beautiful in the moonlight.

Conceit is not a disease. A monument is not a disease.
A plaque remembering another another
tragedy is not a disease.

I saw – I thought I saw – the birds circle home,
the moon rise on the silvery water.
Let it stop there. Let it stop there.



It is the stability that makes it all so bearable. Never having to decide. My sacrament runs on established lines. Trinities. Bells ringing at predictable intervals. The bowing. The smoke. The painted snake runs along the inside of our mudded holy place and then out and around the building into the golden rows. The snake becomes the labyrinth within which we seek meaning. What is in the center of god’s heart? How far do we walk to find the center of that maze? The maize that grows in the fields feeds the children who laugh without knowing god nor snake nor sorrow. The maize raises its head to the sun until it falls over dead and feeds the cranes while the children sit inside drinking atole, hot liquid corn sweetening short cold days. It is the stability that makes it all so bearable. The stability of the dance that raises the children and buries the elders, the stability of the harvest, the chanting and the secret smoke that talks to the great ones, the ten generations who came before and will come after. Snake does not ascend. Snake lives here, on earth, with us. Like snake, we feel the sun on our backs, and we are warmed from afar.


The last thing I said to him was stop. The last thing I said to him was stop. The last thing I said to him was stop. Stop yelling. Stop crying. Stop blaming. Stop. The last thing I said to him was stop.

Take out a deck of cards and write an apology on each one. The 7 of diamonds – what are you apologizing for? How about the 3 of clubs? What apology fits best on the jack of spades?

If you shuffled the deck and pulled a card out at random, would you know who the apology belonged to? Your great-aunt Julia? Your mean cousin Jimmy who broke into your house and stole your mother’s jewelry? Would you apologize to your son, or to yourself? Would you apologize to the stranger you cut off in traffic last week?

The last thing I said to him was stop. The last thing I said to him was stop. The last thing I said to him was stop. I might have said I’m sorry you are hurting. Stop.


On the Woodtangle Freeway, all the cars drive both too fast and too slow. That’s right. The monstrosity in front of you, the multi-level dead car stacker with the cross-country plates and the smell of burning breaks – drives too fast and too slow. Swerving. Bent mirrors, views from Nebraska but now we’re in Philadelphia and the mirror is all wrong, all wrong. To keep awake, to avoid the tour bus and the singing frogs, I chew bubblegum. My favorite flavor bubblegum is asparagus, which can only be ordered on the internet. When I stop in Nebraska, Arkansas, North or South Dakota or Oklahoma, I strip off my day clothes and climb into the back of my Very Big Truck in my underwear and order bubblegum and red meat off the internet. Don’t order red meat from Amazon; order red meat from, where they know where their meat has come from, they know where their meat has been, they’ve driven their meat from here to there, through the simplicity of piano concertos on public radio stations from the redwood forest to the gulfstream waters, this meat was drove for me and you. And the truck driver, who could be you or me, is a minister of road wisdom and road rage; isn’t that the way it is, that the most spiritual among us here in Walmart America is also the most likely to be alone, blessedly alone on mile after mile of the brilliant highways of the CCC.

When you sit alone in an 18-wheeler, you can belch or flatulate, you can sing hymns or say prayers, you can curse or praise, you can be a zealot. You are alone, you road warrior, you road guru, you road map you. The path ahead of you is behind you as well, a bead on a string, a tale being told, a verse, held up to the unfolding sky and the stars that lie down on that winding ribbon. You’ve been telling them, you and me, this land, this land, but they look at you like you are a crazy; to believe in us, in the collective, is like believing in the giant squid, is like believing in solid gold silk, is like believing in wonder or white owls or sugar cookies or aliens. But to be a road agnostic is to allow for wonder, to allow for the open space between exits where tales might hover, lonely but waiting, for someone to paint that ribbon all the way  from here up into the clear blue sky.

Internal validity

As the self disappears, mind watches, skating closer to the mean.
Watch out for the non-uniform error! Beware of noise!
No regression in my yoga, please; pass the reliable results.

The entropy salad is very good – what’s in the dressing?”

“Cranberries and honey and vinegar and brown sugar and lemon
and banana and persimmon and cotton candy and asphalt
and calendula and scrub brush and reason
and periwinkle and submarine.”

It’s not just mind: all things fall apart. 
I pray to Heisenberg to set me free while bombs
fall, the cat mews for milk and there is a crack in the teapot,
yet it does not leak, yet/not yet. The matrix oppresses,
expresses that what we observe is not nature itself, just nature
exposed to our method of questioning, the questioning
that continues on and on, chewing on itself, a fox in a trap,
until the bloody method is the only thing left.

Regression to the mean, the question of internal validity, 
the compensator transporting the truth, scatter-shot,
filtered through small disturbances from laminar flow,
turbulence and the problem of stability skating
ever away, water striders on a lake in high summer.


Whisper I love you, that little dream I dreamed of you, the cat purring, the eggs poaching, the lust arching over an ordinary conversation, the dollop of cream, the whispering cloud of wish, the daylight scatter of toast and laundry.

I hear a sigh every year just before the frost comes, the first night when there is an inkling that sheets will want to be warmed before we slip between them. A spatter of rain drops on the windshield, fog rises inside the warm car, lights halo on the shining street.

The silence of evening settles when the motor is turned off; sitting in the front seat, shadows sidle anonymous, transient, drawn one breath away. Mystery hangs on hesitant leaves. Reaching, we touch them as they fall, red/gold, into the dark street. Exhale. 


The first Sunday after the first full moon after the autumn equinox is recognized with fire, with the roasting of nuts and the drawing of drapes. The windows are lighted, the evenings grow short. The children stare into flames and their cheeks are ruddy. The mothers and toddlers sit closest to the fires, cracking nuts, putting sweet meats into shallow wooden bowls. The dogs are subdued. The cats work feverishly through the night, catching the mice who come in as the evenings cool. The beeswax candles are fresh. The nuts and the squash and the onions are still new, waiting for the beatitudes of those first autumn celebrations. The elders sit gratefully in their bent wood, feet warming at the fire. The crackling fire marks each evening, first long and slow, then short and thankful. For this we are about to receive. Cold feet are pressed against warm bricks, the evenings count hours, then minutes, then seconds, then a moment’s sudden puff against a frozen window. Done, for children, for chickens, for sleeping bulbs, breathing in the cold air briefly. Not yet, they say. Not yet.




Once upon a time, an ancient Japanese ghost banged a cherry tree and lo, in the resultant pink and lucid blossoms, the American constitution was born. Aaah, says the Japanese ghost, I knew that these pink blossoms would bring reason and truth to America.

“America, what is America?” said the eagles, said the wrens, said the multitudes of birds who rode the air like water, their currents and circulations bending the stories of America and its conceptual underpinnings even as the ink was still wet.

The newspaper was the first dry message of America to Americans. They wrapped their meat and their fish in ink, they relied on stained and rumpled stories. What is American truth? said the halibut column and the features of cold beef. What is American truth? Said the bunches of flowers in the early undelivered morning? What is American truth? said the satori of tuberculosis and the crushing of children in dark heavy factories and the sudden brief enlightenment that burnt bright for 50 years, that threatens right at this very moment  to gutter and expire, here, in our very privileged lungs, gasping like dying fish, like first responders, like Massy men, waiting for someone to breathe deep, speak the American truth out loud, to bring the coral reef and the constitution back from the brink, bring air back into the discourse that fills each one of us, a gasp, a sigh, an exhalation, a prayer. 

Moment to moment

In the darkness, I can smell the fungus more clearly. I imagine they are feet, the feet of very old animals – old dogs, old chickens, old people, old fish, and there I stop. The feetless defeat me. The smell rises up once again in the chilly air. The smell of stale bread, of moldy hay, of paper in an old cigar box. The smell of bookstores, the smell of dirty ice. The smell compels me to stop, to cover my face, to breathe in the more familiar smell of myself. I wonder what I smell like to someone else. What do I smell like to the drawing man sitting across the duck pond at the groomed university? To the ducks, gliding and cursing, leaving green slime on the warm water? To the fat lady with the liver spots who will retire this year or next?

I smell like me, you smell like you, the rest of the world smells like strangers, or enemies, or memory, and that makes something happen on my face. The strangeness, the all-smell of memory makes my tear ducts react. My tear ducts, the ducks on the warm green pond, the regurgitation of rain from field to plain, from plain to highway; I am crying as heavily as the first tears ever cried. The evaporative cycle of hot and cold rises and I am speechless again.

The bones of youthful resilience bend and a light mist rolls in and away in the morning air. There is a rock nearby where tides approach and decline, approach and decline, and they tease one another in the fog. The open mouth of the rock is generous, waves slap and swallow, gulls call and clams do not call back. The gasping retreat pushes and pulls the heart, the heart that knows only the bivalve rhythm, the bivalve rhythm, self to other, night to day, small moments of air bursting, moment to moment to moment.

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November 2020