Daily Archives: March 28, 2016

Afternoon Practice

a pipe filled with a black herb.
a series of effects pedals.
a loud amplifier.

a scrappy, crappy electric guitar.
a series of effects pedals reversed from the earlier sequence.
a reduced number of effects pedals. no pedals. no amplifier. 

an acoustic guitar.
a change of voice as nothing said or sung before needed to be distinctly heard.
a change of herb.

a pipe isn’t necessary except to loosen vowels when they are too tight.
a pedal moves a bit of air more easily than a puff on a pipe.
a fair guitar smokes itself, amplified or not.

a single chord may do the trick.
a single chord may change a player or the world.
a single chord may change nothing at all.

a single chord may heal or kill or have no effect
except to be satisfied with itself from strum to decay.
a truth that needs telling is that you can’t even do that.

a truth that needs telling is that you will nonetheless keep trying.


Mud Season

Rain has stopped
after all night dropping
on us and ground and roof,
falling into gutters, clattering down
to puddle the sunken end of the driveway.
It’s going to madly green out there
once it warms two more daily degrees
or so.  We call this Spring —

or, more often, “mud season,” 
the season when we notice

how filthy our cars are.

Spring here is a half-minute of breathing room 
between ways to suffer,
a half-second 
to knock crap off your boots
and your life — 
a half inch deep 
undrinkable lake 
in the scant soil 
of the backyard.

Season of slop — 
our city’s not pretty,
not clean, not bright.
Our roads are holy and pitted
like the path to Heaven, even as
we’ve been dreaming
of Hell’s heat

all cold season long,

and now it’s coming.  

It’s coming
in faster bloom than last year.
It’s coming
in smaller snow piles than ever before.

It’s coming
in our unease at how easy
winter was, how little mud
there is to mud season
this year.

It’s coming
as we get around to washing off
toxic grime from our wheel wells,

scrubbing at caked,
kicked up road salt
that’s tearing
out of metal. 

A warmer world
is coming,
perhaps the warmest one ever;

it’s coming, and
no one’s ready for the heat;

though we all say,
as always,
that we can’t wait,
soon enough

we’ll be staring at that depression
in the backyard,
marveling at the memory of it
full of water, wondering
if  we will ever see mud season again.


Originally posted here in September of 2015.
Dates to 2000 or so following the death of a close friend at Easter that year; the original is long lost.
This is an attempt to recreate it, knowing I’m no longer the person who wrote that original. 

RIP, Terry Warren.

I come home
craving tomatoes.
I go to my backyard bed

and pick whatever’s ripe
for my favorite summer meal: 
thick-sliced plum tomatoes,

Gorgonzola cheese, 
a few shreds of basil, 
balsamic vinegar, light on the olive oil.

You once questioned me:
why not the more traditional Mozzarella?
I said it’s because I feel that 

strong blues make flavors pop
and without strong flavors,
what’s the point?  

You tasted it, agreed, told me later 
you could no longer imagine 
not using a strong blue cheese

in a tomato salad, and I was as well pleased
as I could be 
that we’d fallen once again into 
the same place on something.

I remember this as I stare into
strong blues and bright reds in this bowl,
stare into oil bubbles,


a brown slick of vinegar, remember

you weren’t here to help me 
plant this year, to plant the beds with me


scant weeks after your passing;
weren’t here to help me weed
and toss and water and feed;


realize as if for the first time
that you aren’t here to help me savor 
the likely last summer salad of the year,


picked ahead 
of the inevitable 
killing frost.


You drifted into this
as a boat unmoored
might drift:

based on past unmoored boats’
in an ocean with such well-known currents.

We suspect you’ll say now that
you were surprised
to end there of all places.
We have to call you out.

This was so obviously
going to happen. We shook
our heads about it
right in front of you.
We said it
right to your face
so often, we’re a little surprised
you didn’t dream about it
every night. It’s as if

you never heard us —
or maybe you did,
and then did everything you could
to be what you shouldn’t have been;

it’s almost as if you were determined
to end up there on that far shore
starving and broke and broken
with no way to come back, almost
as if you were determined to be
as far away from our good sense
as possible, and we’ll be damned

if we know how
or have the wherewithal
to rescue you now — look at you

sitting there, staring into the sun
as if you’d never been told
not to do that.