Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stone fruit

Thanks to Geraldine of Poetic Paths for this week’s prompt, fragrance. Be sure to spend time at all the poets’ roosts, drinking in their words.

Stone fruit

You have heard
about such things
shamans, midwives
reaching in with the blades
of their hands
pulling up
the size of pomelos

one day it came to her
as she was shelling peas
now that the flesh
was falling away
and the lining
of what had defined her
was shaved to its pith.

(just how unbound
she was. )

she reached into her belly
and pulled out a stone
still warm
wrapped it in parchment
and buried it like
the dead sea scrolls

a girl
coarse plaited hair
and anthracite eyes
toes dug into the slope of summer
spied it among the seaweed
at neap tide

restless fingers traced the grooves
the fragrance of apricot,
Darjeeling tea
it was then
that she caught
a first glimpse of
on the mountain top.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Thank you to Christine of Quiet Paths for the prompt inner voice. Please visit all the wonderful poets who participated this week at

"Truly to sing, that is a different breath."
Rainer Maria Rilke


when he was a fish
a brass trio, a second line
followed him
his ears grew faster
than the rest of him
like big shells
to scoop the brilliance
into his navel

when he was a boy
he travelled in music
like a marsupial
drawing warmth from memory
baby teeth shone like sharks
At dinner hour
Reuben’s charts
spilled from his fingers.

When I met the boy
he kept his drum set
in the basement
we talked about music
all the time
we listened to Monk
and Hillary Hahn
it was lonely then

One day
he called me down
his sticks beat time
in the cool damp
bronze trophies bragged
Zappa’s blessing
framed him
it was then
that I first knew
that I loved him.

Last night the boy dreamed
he was playing piano
but strangely
4 keys as wide as tree trunks
an upright
with the body of a tiger in repose
each of them sang
for him

at the end of the hall
in the last room
was a long bleached bone
he didn’t know how to make it speak
he was afraid
he began to run his fingers
along it spine
music poured out
like water

I told the boy I loved him.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Thank you Jim for the prompt "thinking."

This poem was in part inspired by the brilliant screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and borrows imagery from the film Being John Malkovich.


brush against
the soft body
of the tenant
who makes herself
small for your inquiry.

one day
all the whys
fall out of their follicles
you notice
that you relish the pauses
even more than listening.

Arriving naked and wet
fully out of your mind
on a terraced median
of the NJ turnpike
sniffing for truffles
in native grasses.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Here Be Dragons

Wow! Week 71 of Raven’s wordzzle challenge. Please join in the pleasure of spinning yarns on the virtual wordzzle porch with 15 daunting new words.

Here Be Dragons

This Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: sober, spoilage, knight, laugh and the world laughs with you, peak, blueberries, owl, drugstore, lampshade, keyboard

The mini challenge: economy, Michael Jackson, ladder, clue, structure

I recognize that people have very strong feelings about Michael Jackson. My sense of kinship and empathy spring from a common experience of having one’s childhood taken. Of course, my stage is much smaller, but one never outgrows the pain and sense of violation.

Michael Jackson. His tragic death shocked me and came as no surprise. Fragile and complicated, at once Norma Desmond and Laura Wingfield, he embodied the paradox we live.


Michael Jackson had no economy of scale. He gave himself away, then tried to recoup his losses at Sotheby’s.

A thoroughbred, drilled to perfection and trained to please, he had no clue how to live in the world. And so the performer retreated to a fairy land of chutes and ladders. And cool everglades. Giraffes and tigers loped the wild with no structure or stricture.

But it was not to be. Haunted by his demons and hounded by a relentless artistic drive, the boy prince could not rest or live in the wild.

ten word:

This Week's Ten Word Challenge is: sober, spoilage, knight, laugh and the world laughs with you, peak, blueberries, owl, drugstore, lampshade, keyboard

When he was at the peak of summer

and felt the thrill of blueberries running down his chin,

when he was dead sober and crashing the apartheid of MTV,

he slept ‘neath the shadow of a lampshade as any boy would;

No need for deadly nightshade or drugstore remedies.

One day the fog rolled in and the keyboard fell badly out of tune. The knight in epaulets surveyed his kingdom and saw the spoilage of the vine.

He called a meeting of trusted advisors and received false council. Laugh and the world laughs with you. He knew better than this. He knew this was no laughing matter. He would call the drugstore and the owl would be a silent witness to dreamless sleep.

James Baldwin made a prophetic statement about this possibility in his 1985 essay “Here Be Dragons.”

“The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring,… money, success and despair–to all of which may now be added the bitter need to find a head on which to place the crown of Miss America.

Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated–in the main, abominably–because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.”

In a world that demands
pick old or young, black or white, woman or man
Michael Jackson was a border crosser

He was controversial, enigmatic and strange. Aren’t we all?

He made us happy with his brilliance and profoundly uncomfortable with his troubles.

Now he belongs to eternity and we are the custodians of the legacy of his music and the reshaping our ethnic geography.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Whose Hands Are These?

"The stranger" is this week's prompt, courtesy of Beth Patterson.. Thank you, Beth and all who spin words into beauty out of the great silence at One Single Impression.

This poem is for Cecilia, my mother in law, braver than any person I know. How does she do it, daily face these terrible losses with the innocence and clarity of a child? Cecilia was diagnosed with Alzheimer's seven years ago. It is my honor and deep joy to be by her side as she navigates uncharted waters by the sextant of stars.

I was his student
it was raining
he drove me home
but we got lost in time.

Whose hands are these?

whose hands are these ?
so coarsely veined
fingers floating on a lost melody
“you were only coming through in with”
I see her leaving
and can only imagine
she dives into curls of smoke
surfing the ruins
searching the word for absence
she returns with a handful of gravel
shiny schist broken from a great mountain
as we sit I can see
each breath a separate pearl
on the fluttering wings of the moment.

Aside from myself, there are no signs of me.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Miss Monks

A tribute to my 7th grade chemistry teacher on the fourth of July.

supernova explosion

Room 102, 7th period

Miss Monks
spinster of combustibles
Bunsen and beaker
bare roots exposed
igniting wonder

the “small cloud” of Andromeda
burst into brilliance
in room 102
the perplexity
of life endured
in inner ring suburbs:
unstable configurations
irresistible attractions
couplings we never dreamed of
no travelling show this
but a daily
into covalent mystery.