$0.11

dime and penny
in my pocket.
eleven cents:

all I’ve got.

it may not seem worth
hanging on to

but I will hang on to it
for if I give you
a penny for your thoughts
I’ll feel I’ve overpaid
and then all I’ll have
is one thin dime
so how will I ever
make some time?

eleven cents
is nothing to build on,
not even enough
to feel more lost
if I lose it,

but I will hold
dime and penny
even though
they don’t clink
when they collide
in my pocket,

even though
it’s more of a grinding sound.


God In Middle Age

I believe
God has evolved
to an understanding
of how little 
he in fact
controls — I see

God in Middle Age
relinquishing the historic need
to hold
each of us
too close — I see

chaos descending
for good or
for ill – 

a huge Visage
smiles and 
whistles

“Que Sera, Sera”


Recent Publication

http://drunkinamidnightchoir.com/

The link above will take you to a relatively new online journal, “Drunk In A Midnight Choir,”  which published three of my poems this week.  I don’t submit to publications all that often, so I’m always pleased when pieces are accepted.  

The work being published in this journal is excellent, and I highly recommend adding the publication to your reading.

My thanks to the editors for their kind attention.

–T


Casus Belli

(the case for war)

because it feels
like I’ve learned how
to sing using
only blood

because I step
on my own tongue
chasing it

because between
the legs
is how I feel
rage

because I can buy
one boxcar full of lawyers
two boxcars full of editorials
and a whole train more of ginned-up rage
to ease the way
once it begins

because it can last a long time
it might lose its flavor
like old gum
but still stays firm
when it slides
up and down on the tooth

because having something sliding
up and down on my tooth
makes more joy than anything else
I can think of doing

because somehow
glamor and honor still congeal
around last charges
last stands
lost causes

and because they don’t give out
the good jewelry
for dying while asleep


Cryptozoology

A specialty of the fabled
electric sand-eel,
a creature extant only on
my mind’s favorite desert island,
is its ability to regulate its power
so that in one stroke it may bolt
across a room to kill or
perhaps light a fire
for worn travelers.

Among the creases in the folds
of the skin of the imaginary
pocket elephant
one may find
the algae, called by some “manna,”
which saved the Israelites
on their forty year stroll to
what they call home.

The solitary helicopter wing
of the bass wasp,
the blank face of
the spotted closet snake,
the fully functional heart
growing on the outside
of the Damson’s plum warbler:

can’t you hear that external heart
pulse as it’s calling you,
doesn’t the sting of the wasp
throb within you,
isn’t that
the tiny drumming
of the elephant’s feet?

Go ahead and admit how real they are,
how real you’d like them to be,
then make them more real to everyone else –
repeat these stories of their existence up and down,
praise the habitats they inhabit,
sing hymns for their well-being and
soon enough they will spring
into just as full a reality

as reverse racists,
welfare queens,
and the culture affirming smile
of Chief Wahoo.


Tale Of Two Artists

They once spoke of her blooming talent
as if she were a flower or at least the soil
a talent grew in.

They whispered of her dropping out
as the bloom coming off the rose
or as the fading of early promise.

They stopped speaking of her at all
and she was better off for it 
once the garden metaphors 

were gone and she 
could simply work
on what she was born to do…

Her brother on the other hand
worked hard and forged his own path
right up to the moment the world 

passed him by and he was cruelly
neglected until he disappeared
and it was a tragedy

they mentioned in every review
of her work from her first triumph
to the late career retrospective

which was titled 
“Final Fruits,”
of course.


Salute

I salute
the encircling arms
of whatever’s
holding me today

for keeping me
from falling

though I’ve tipped
and teetered
from sunrise
till now on the edge of
dusk 
and was not
at all sure that
a fall wasn’t
the best thing
for me

I honor whatever it was
that knew better
and held faster
to me
than I would have
had I been
in sole charge

Tomorrow may be different
Tomorrow I may
let myself go and fall

but tomorrow will come
thanks to whatever
held me today


Windy

The high wind has never died down
since that early spring day.

Drop something light now
and it’s gone. Drop something heavy

and the sound of it landing
might not be heard.  We all 

hold tight to our things, discard less,
build our possessions with points

for fasteners to hold them close.
Hats? Chin straps or nothing.

Skirts? Umbrellas? Things
of the past.  We’ve all gotten good

at handling kites, the Age Of Sail
has been reborn, and fossil fuels

are laughed at as a relic
of a stiller time.  That said,

we may never mention it
but everyone dreams now and then

of living underwater,
far enough down

that we could not hear the surface
if we tried.  In the worst moments

some climb to the tops
of mountains, open their arms,

and fall into the fatal gale:
same as it ever was,

same as
it ever was.


In Your Blind Spot

War me,
rape me,
kill me,
dick me around, 
drop me from a list,
dress up and
stomp a dance
against me;

ignore me
until I don’t speak,
I won’t care,
I don’t care
about speaking
to you – 
why would I
want to?  

In your Garden, 
I’m still the Tree
growing in your blind spot,
the Tree Of Knowledge
About You
That You
Don’t Have,
and that
right there

is a Way
of surviving.


Let The Mystery Be

After decades
of considering
how behavior shifts
in light of circumstance –
of considering how concrete fact
trumps principle and opinion –
of considering how little
holds up as universal
and becomes parochial
and local
and particular –

how delicious it feels
at last to reach a point
where only today
do I realize
that yesterday
I did not judge
or assume
anything

about a couple and a child
moving slowly in single file
toward the swings
in the park,
heads down,
singing in a tongue
I don’t recognize;

and then
when I was humbled
into recognizing
my own self-congratulatory tone,
how resigned I became
to the work left to do,
to the distance left to travel
toward the day when I note only
what is necessary
and all I have to say is

how beautiful the park
and all its people
were yesterday.


Sunshine Day

Feeling
that you are going to collapse
and not rise again
for any one
or any reason
is not as bad
as actually collapsing,
it’s worse.  Once you’re down
all expectations are eased;
till then

you are at the mercy of 
the gravity
you keep denying
as you struggle against it,
and how alluring
the sweet fall
into utter disrepair 
or complete ruin
becomes.

Shine, then,
meteor,
if you become
resigned to the fall:
shine, like a son
of heaven,
all the way down.


Nostalgia

I knew her
when she was,
at first,
all shell, all rind –
no, harder; 

steel hull,
bunker, castle –

I knew her
when it was hard to
know her at all.

Years later
we meet and
she’s 
split open – 

as she is now
she’s more of
a bare nut,
a ripe fruit,
a sweet
without armor.

I liked her better
the other way;

I liked me better
when I had to know her
the other way.


Parlor Altar, Local God

Bright painting
of a deity,
offerings of simple food,
small change,
red candles
to coax peace and fortune
from wherever they shelter,
to feed them, light their way,
invite them to stay;

a space as gentle
as a cathedral
is smothering;
as open to living
as a cathedral is
closed to natural order;
as intimate
as a cathedral is
hugely impersonal.


The Inevitable

Any process
once begun
urges its own
completion,
which is why we
are as far gone
as we are;

we’ve stood on all peaks,
braved all fires
and all manner of storms,
sailed into the moon
from the edge of the ocean,
addicted to going hard
and going far
in all we do; and so

we spiral
toward ashes below
still singing our own praises,
indifferent to how far
and how hard
we are falling.


Elevated Language (Don’t Cut It)

elevated language don’t cut it:

your music’s too baroque,
the bog of it is too much
swamp to cross; quit
sending me
the long way around
just to fetch eggs.

elevated language don’t cut it:

why do you keep explaining
how things spin? just say
youv’e got yourself stuck
on a bone-strewn plain
and be done. any horror
will take care of itself.

elevated language don’t cut it:

not when the cadence of women
murmuring about justice
while at work is perfect,
not while the creative frenzy-cursing
of the just-injured is perfect,
not while the rhythm
of checkout line chatter
is staccato and glory-filled and 
perfect. 

elevated language don’t cut it

when such plain spoken melodies
can already conjure this everyday earth 
so damn well.


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