30 June 2012

Tone: excerpt from installment #3

Tone 1:3

Maybe they call them fireflies where you come from. But do you know of any fire, a real fire, that blips on and then blips off, and blips on again? Your old science teacher would have told you that these tiny creatures use their bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. You wanted to, but you never did, raise your hand and ask, "What's the difference?" You just doodled in your notebooks: Mates. Prey. Praying mantis. Pray. Mates. Playmates. Duckbill Platypus. 

After dropping Tone off last night I headed home to the trailer, but not before stopping by the store for some beer. I grabbed the first cold six-bottle carton that presented itself to the eye. It was a little game I played. Sometimes I cheated, of course, when the displays got too static and predictable, and the beer I really wanted was hidden further back in the store. Always bottles. Was never into smashing empty cans on my forehead though it certainly has its allure sometimes. And nobody ever ties bottles on the back of a wedding limo, so that painful reminder is avoided. I fell asleep on the couch watching a stupid Braves game, which they ended up losing in extra innings.

Read the rest of installment #3

29 June 2012

Pun and Punishment

water is torture
going without going under
not going across
going going gong
mickey mantle just hit a home run on the radio

what I am said to have said
in my sleep in my bed
who told?
they have written down
in the form of a confession

I am swimming, dog paddling to be precise,
in small discrete sea of uncooked rice
in a walled courtyard of a small country church
with a handful of guests waving
waving as from the shore

I have apparently cried out in my sleep
     I want to marry Marilyn, not Mei,
     but Marilyn from America
so they seized all of my books
except for the little red one

I must wear paper handcuffs
(and if I tear them then I’m clearly a rebel)
not because of my dreams
but because of my letter in
perfect English

I wrote my sister that
my cat took a long march
into my neighbor’s yard
and returned to my porch
to clean her hindquarters with her mousey tongue

28 June 2012


There is 
an imaginary sweetness 
in our desires.

A dream of cinnamon
on the very real skin.

Just a pinch,
or twenty-one.

It takes a mouth
to detect the spice.

And one month
for one sigh
on one shoulder.

Le dessein. Le désir

Il ya
une douceur imaginaire
dans nos désirs.

Un rêve de cannelle
sur la peau très réelle.

Vient une pincée,
ou vingt et un.

Il faut une bouche
pour détecter l'épice.

Et un mois
pour un soupir
sur une épaule.

27 June 2012

Family Portrait: Day at the Beach

father floats 
on his back spouting
the surf into the curbed sky
his treasured trunks puffed with captured air

sister sinks
and they drag her by
the hair to the beach to kiss
her blue mouth into a borrowed flame

brother fends
for himself spurning
the ferris wheels turning to
mothsoft towels their lubricious machines

mother sails
for the horizon
the oblivious smack slips
off of the dizzy lip of the whirled

26 June 2012

Like the wine (a simile)

she woos me with
the moon on her breath
and the scars on her wrist

are they new? i ask
no. they are like the wine 


comme le vin (une comparaison)
elle me fait la cour
avec la lune sur son souffle
et des cicatrices sur son poignet

sont-ils nouveaux? je demande
non. ils sont comme le vin

25 June 2012

How to ride rollers

Put old blanket on floor
Place rollers in doorway
Put chain on big chainring    
Pray cat’s asleep somewhere

24 June 2012

Rainbow I

a rainbow is
the punctual beau
who calls in kaleidoscopic clothes

whose colours run
by side for stride
as he cartwheels across his beloved’s sky

his feet in the clouds and his head
in her hands as durable crowns
tumble from his upside down

Public domain. Graphically altered by B.D. Rampey

 Note: "by side for stride" = side by side and stride for stride

23 June 2012

Tone: excerpt from installment #2

Tone 1:2

Saturday morning.  I read the Wheaties box, every last bit of it, and thought back on the last two days while I ate my cereal.

Flack hadn't even introduced us, but he wasn’t exactly one with the social graces of a debutante. He had called me at home on Thursday night to tell me a "new guy" would be coming around the next day. “New guy?”

“Yeah. He’ll be with us for the summer.”

“The new guy have a name?”

“Tony.” Flack was a regular spewing fountain of information. It was like talking to a captured spy.

“The new guy have a last name, or is that top secret?”

“Doesn’t matter. He’ll be around late Friday.” Flack hung up.

Doesn’t matter? What kind of answer was that. A Flack answer. It was pathetic. Was the guy engaged to his daughter or something? Maybe he was a spy too. Whole grain wheat, sugar, salt.

Read the rest of installment #2

22 June 2012

The crushed cup

like doubled doors 
my father's thumbs
locked across the communion cup

crazed and weeping
the plastic bleats
momma pinches me for looking up


Pas de trois plastique

les pouces de mon père
comme des portes doubles
couvrir la coupe de la communion

fissurée et pleurant
le plastique bêle
momma me pince car levant mes yeux

21 June 2012

Study in Orange and Blue

the world's greatest poet
sleeps under an orange tarp
all the other ones are blue and grey
like the sea, so his is unique

he has written one poem thus far
it is in his shoe
the neighbors laughed
but his mother learned it by heart

it's about a fox, an orange one
with a beautiful silver horn
that only he can see
can hear

and a little boy
thirteen years old
who follows the fox
for food

his mother keeps changing
the last line
“no,” she says, “you're better
than a raven”


Étude en orange et bleu

du poète plus grand du monde 
dort sous une bâche orange
tous les autres sont bleu et gris
comme la mer, donc le sien est unique

il a écrit un poème à ce jour
il est dans sa chaussure
les voisins se mit à rire
mais sa mère l'a appris il par cœur

il raconte d'un renard, l’orange
avec un cor beau d'argent
que lui seul peut voir
peut entendre

et un petit garçon
treize ans
qui suit le renard
pour les aliments

sa mère ne cesse de changer
la dernière ligne
«non», elle dit, «tu êtes mieux
d'un corbeau»

20 June 2012



For someone who sometimes
waits for a stop sign. to turn. green.
This was just too much. Don’t turn 
left. Don’t turn right. Can't go straight.

I already had six points on my license
so there was only one thing to do.
I abandoned my car. and my keys.
and walked.

I then started dropping everything that started with a “w."
It wasn’t littering I don’t think. 
I put things where others could find them and in alphabetical order.
Far more predictable than the periodic table.

Wallet. Walkman. Watch.
Wave-particle duality workbook.
Woolly mammoth sports jacket.   
And that was that.

I kept my wants, my wunderwear, and my woks and woos.

The streetlights got further and further apart.
After awhile it turned cold and dark
and I found a path that led across a rock wall.   
I clambered my best clamber and saw the tracks. 
The train tracks dressed as a ladder.
A ladder girded by angels. 
Angels dressed as bridges.

I’m not coming back.

19 June 2012

La Photo

stopping by the road on a cloudy morning 
for the seventh day in a row 
trying to photograph 
a red-winged blackbird in flight 

black bird black wire
old bicycle
blue nishiki

red-winged blackbird
slow camera
slower man

l'arrêtant par la route sur un matin nuageux 
pour la septième journée consécutive 
d'essayer de photographier 
un carouge à épaulettes en vol 

oiseau noir fil noir
vélo vieux
nishiki bleu

carouge à épaulettes
camera lente
l'homme plus lente

18 June 2012

After Practice

when the breathing begins
to bruise
and the grass
burns brown beneath our cleated feet


then their perfume hangs in
a noose
they had passed
purse-proud in their pluperfect skirts

Image: Public domain.  
Farm Security Administration/
Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives

17 June 2012

Views of time

how old are you
how old is daddy


points de vues des temps
quel âge as-tu
quatre ans
quel âge at-papa
cinq ans

16 June 2012

Tone: excerpt from installment #1

Tone 1:1

You gotta start somewhere. Sooner or later you just have to start writing things down. There’s that old saw about the journey of a thousand miles beginning with one step. What Lao Tzu failed to mention was so does a trip to the bathroom – ask any old man. But that’s beside the point I guess. Anyway, the burden of single-handedly saving civilisation from the scourge of plastic flowers must be borne by someone, and who better than me.  So here is my story – written down, instead of rattling around in my head. You can thank me later.

15 June 2012

Alpha Soliloquy

Decimated and alphabetized for optimal convenience, 
a famous soliloquy 
as it was sundrie times publiquely proclaimed 
in the honourable citie of London, 
boiled down smartly to two dozen words

bear bear bodkin
death death delay

dreams end end
life long long

pale pangs pause
sleep sleep soft

something spurns
troubles turn

under un-

14 June 2012

Le Bréviaire

s'accrocher à la pierre sacrée
et prétendre qu'il est os.
s'embrasse le corps et
vas deviendrez tu l'eau.


Prayer Book
Hang onto the sacred stone
and pretend it's bone.
Kiss the body
and you'll become water.

13 June 2012

Mort dans un cabriolet

Elle est toujours là. Toujours là.
Comme nos ombres, nos nombres.
Mais même par temps nuageux,
les jours de jeux nues.

Si près, que la mort,
quand le vent est venteux,
(et quand c'est le vent pas de vent plus?)
brosses ses cheveux
à partir de vos yeux.

Death in a convertible

She is always there. Still there.
Like our shadows, our numbers.
But even on cloudy days,
the days of naked games.

So near, that death,
when the wind is windy,
(and when is the wind not windy?)
brushes her hair
from your eyes.

Image: Public domain. DN-0086472, 
Chicago Daily News negatives collection, 
Chicago History Museum.

12 June 2012

La course de six jours

Les vélos sont prêts pour la course,
mais ils n'ont pas des cœurs:
seulement metallique les béliers en deux roues
avec des sabots en caoutchouc.

Avant le départ, nous sommes équilibrés
(où sont les soigneurs réguliers?)
par garcons avec enfances
mais avec des visages angéliques.

Nous leur disons, avec un clin d'oeil, 
que nos cœurs battent une fois par tour,
et que le septième jour
que nous allons respirer l'air enfumé du sabbat soleil

















The Six Day Race

The bikes are ready to race,
but they are heartless,
only metal rams on two wheels,
with rubber hooves.

Before the start, we are balanced
(where are the regular soigneurs?)
by boys with missed childhoods
but with angelic faces.

We tell them, with a wink,
that our hearts beat but once a lap
and that on the seventh day
we will breathe the smoky air of the sabbath sun