Morning North Star

I follow 
a same-every-morning routine
of

blood drop,
breakfast,
coffee,
screen and keys

into 
an unknown chaos called
the day,

much as I might follow
a constant called
North Star

into 
darkness;

tugged along thus by hope
and discipline,
I can be certain
that even if clouds move in,
when they are gone
that star
will be there again.


CAT!

CAT!

go eat the food I gave you

upon which money was spent
upon which I spent money 
I could have used for something
more useful than feeding a cat

(like 400 guitar picks or a solid gold hat)

CAT!

why won’t you eat the food I gave you?

This morning you couldn’t get enough of it
And this plate’s been filled from the SAME CAN
But you turn your lovely whiskered snout away
as swiftly as a politician turns
from last week’s firm position

to its opposite

CAT!

I understand you need to be
a CAT
and therefore always
mysterious
always 
the avatar of 
Contradiction

CAT!

you are making me 
nuts
you are making me
question
if I can ever understand 
how to make you happy

CAT!

the whole time
you’re flinging things 
to the floor
and screaming
for something
that is obviously 
the food you aren’t getting

(whatever that may be)

you are purring
so loudly
in what is either
delight at my attentions
or gloating at my tension

CAT!

suddenly
you’re on my shoulder
rubbing my ear
still rumbling like a 
tummy

and then you’re gone 
and the crazy is over

for a few minutes until 
you come back in 
licking your chops
from the now-empty plate

CAT!
you
damnable
adorable

CAT!

it’s clear why 
you were worshipped
once upon a time

you’re as unpredictable
as any
deity
ever


The Condition

It’s time
to just be high
and let go
of one moment
of control.

I can’t feel much
in my little fingers
right now. My feet
burn whenever
I put weight on them.
Something’s
wrong with my body,
but nothing’s wrong with 
that;

what’s happening
is what should happen
at this stage
of The Condition
and
while I’ll treat it
and fight it and 
et cetera it,

it’s doing
what it is made to do and
the body’s reacting
as it was made to do
so

I’m going to get high
and take a moment to say
all is dead on for the horizon
and all is right with 
my tingling, burning,
blood-shot world.


Essentials

Went for a walk
and found a granite ledge
calling from where
it poked through
the frozen floor
of a clearing

I put my ear to it

The voice was
unlike that in a shell
that cradles
the womb-song of
ocean

Instead
a muffled
operatic baritone
declaimed other essentials
and broke now and then
into warm silence

I cannot recall a word I heard

although
inside me
the sacristy
where I hold
my best self
still rings
and echoes

and I have placed
a stone
in my pocket
to carry with me
always


Poem About Poetry

Once or more a day I pull myself together
and face this art too many say
is not itself a proper subject for 
art.  They scold that writing a poem
about poetry is lazy, a mark of 
having nothing to write about,

and then they sneer and slip away
to their cozy mutual masturbations
on topics of more import 
such as comparing themselves
to superheroes
or more talk of how it feels
to fuck, to wanna fuck, to be
fucking, to be not fucking…

I turn back to how I am,

to the work of speaking of everything
under the sun — even to superheroes and
to fucking, if that even needs to be said;

but if there now and then comes a time 
to sing
of how this often makes me feel 
like a superhero,

of how I’m wrapped 
in the arms of something greater
than myself when I am in this art,

of how I am humbled now and then
to see who I am through the stacking
and slashing and burning of words, 

of how now and then I get to hold
the edge of the universe before
I slip back into daily life,

when a song comes that demands I sing of this
I will sing it,

even if you  
turn away, your capes 
fluttering, your asses 
bouncing with your own joys;

I will sing it
and be well pleased
that I did not sing it

for you.


Too Much, Methinks

Not wasting a moment
more of my breath on him.
Not wasting time. Look at him,
a waste, a time suck.

To say the least,
he’s a shit.  A turd
not worthy of a second wipe.  
He’s a disaster, 

to say the least,
to say the absolute least
in the least time 
with the fewest and shortest words,

with no words, perhaps,
with a gesture
or one eyebrow,
one finger
raised, one elbow digging into
your target rib —

get a load
of that guy.  Of him.
Need I say more than that – 

if I do, if I need to explain myself,
you better pull up a chair
as there’s a lot to be said,
to say the least,
a lot to be said,
I guess
it’s kind of a
long story.


Don

he came late
sat at my table

after some small talk
and some formalities 
he began to speak
of why we were meeting

he had changed
he said 

drank from a tall glass of whiskey
ran an unsteady hand over his head
front to back

he had changed
he said again

not the same man
had done some growing up
came to realize, etc.

working his steps

I looked hard at the glass
then at him
at his eyes

I said 
put it together for me
make it make sense

oh
not for this he said
tilting the glass 
to make his point

for the other

I said
what other 
he said

water under the bridge
over the broken dam
does it matter
what other
trying to talk here
trying to make amends

ran hand over head
tilted the glass
I’ve changed he said
I’m sorry

I’m sorry 
dammit 
ingrate
wait
no 
sorry

he tossed apologies
at the back of my head
as I stopped tilting
at windmills
and walked out


$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.
you can’t buy anything
with it.
it’s not even enough
to make me 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
they make 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.


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