31 December 2012


THE end of the year
brings in a hard mark where there
are mainly mergings:

fresh water/ocean
heat of youth/cold of old age
freezing rain/soft snow.

Tomorrow grants us
starkness of resurrection
and so we’ll take it.

30 December 2012

Farmer’s Wife, circa 1963

THE cows would have to
wait. She unpacked the perfume
(mail order) after

locking her daughter’s
bedroom door. The bottle had
a baggy thingy

(like a docked blimp or
a tiny punching bag or
one of those Ambu

bags that medics used
in ambulances and in
emergency rooms):

that is, a perfume
atomizer. She took off
all her clothes and milked

a small cloudlet (is
that redundant?) of fragrance,
closed her eyes, posed her

arms as if they were
about to take on a load
of split firewood or

scatter the chickens,
and paraded through the mist.
Arching her back and

lifting her chin, she
could have been a model for
a hood ornament.

29 December 2012

Saturday Haikus

WE live in the big
city where everything
happens and nothing

ever surprises
us and the sound of sirens
just means someone else

notions of angels
bore us but we still collect
the perfume samples

from slick magazines
and from the Sunday papers
striving to recall

28 December 2012

Moon Full

LIKE the trembly torch
in the safecracker’s perfect
teeth, the moon, too, moves
with our two motions: twitchy
with nerves and with breathing, slow.

27 December 2012

Blue Christmases Past

My mother
was a looker
(of the Nashville lookers)
and men injured their necks

whenever she breezed by on Charlotte Ave.
And some even whistled
while they were out
walking with their very own wives.

Especially in the summer. In the winter,
on the faintest hope,
I kept to the window
and waited.

Momma’s blue-bulbed candoliers
(the melting wax
running down
molded right into the plastic)

we taped to the sills
because the electric cords
tended to pull them onto the floor.
And since those cheap blue lights – probably

a fire hazard since they always overheated –
were her only luxuries
in that entire house,
I kept to the window and waited,

hoping for snow
to fall
and added more painter’s tape
as needed.

25 December 2012

Virgo at Dawn

it’s been a long night
what with the neon
singeing NO VACANCY
and the artillery

shelling in the near distance
(that is, the heavenly hosts)
and the unexpected guests
smelling of lanolin

traipsing in one muddy-
rugby face after the other
and all their other buddies
that they’ve rousted out of bed:

coal miners and wildcatters
and lantern merchants
(noisy and oily all) not to mention
the birth of the boy and Joseph’s only

tunic soused – but dry now – with midwifery
so yawn Mary yawn
(the guests are all gone or passed out
on the periphery of the dying

it’s been a long night
and it’s almost dawn

24 December 2012

Night Silent

all all
and and
bright calm child

heavenly heavenly
holy holy
in in infant

is is mild
mother night night
peace peace round

silent sleep
sleep so tender
virgin yon

23 December 2012

Advent IV (momentum)

red rover red
rover send
the shepherds
right over

and so at first slow
and then fast
and then faster the dull
and the dusty

most doubting
some trusting
they ran yes they ran
all at once yes they ran

they ran toward the glint
of that heavenly band
their harps on the ground
and their hands linked to hands

but the dusty ones knew
that none would break
through in this crazy game this
starlit game this

dangerous game how would any get through
but right when they reached
that marvelous wall
each angel released

each hand in that wall and
each hand that was held was now held at each side and
each shepherd passed through to
seek and to find

22 December 2012


yes, her lips are like
lollipops except
for the ways they're not

no, they don’t come wrapped
in cellophane and
that handy dandy

paper stick — they don’t
have one of those for
convenient pacing

and they don’t get small
and sharp, enticing
a bite before dis-

appearing altogether
but other than that
her lips are just like

lollipops more than
they’re not

21 December 2012

Cartwheel Before Laolao's Funeral

She is way past fear-
less. Her sandals
are birds taken-

off into a green
sky. The same sky
where her hands are

buried. And for

an instant, as she
plays at Atlas, she
holds up every-

thing: expensive black
cars, golden trees,
and Chinamen

jumping. Off chairs.

20 December 2012










19 December 2012


Poets come
a penny
a million.

Readers, though,
are rarer
than rubies.

18 December 2012

Fallen Deer: A Parable

This is their field
for falling

just beyond

that strange black river
with those long

yellow fish.
And since

they were built (all legs and lungs)
for running,

they continued to run
from memory

(even after
those moving moons

and that brighter lightning struck
their ribs, their flanks).

They are now like wheelbarrows
abandoned from behind

and so they finally fall (and for the last time)
just beyond the black water, after clearing

the ditch.
And since

the mowers could not
(or would not) mow over

the bones,
the scrub

cedars are left
to grow.

17 December 2012

Horizontal Hold

I am
still awake
and the fuzzy
grey dawn is
just is

is just
coming in
like an old t.v.
screen warming

up and the earliest
trees begin
to announce
as filigree not night

not mittens
and fire escapes
unveil their cascading
Z’s against their buildings

16 December 2012

Advent III (snowglobe)

as angel word
is spoken clear
the settled globe
is shaken

and fearful shepherds
rise up to run
like centaurs swirling
toward the Son

15 December 2012

Mary in the Lights

Mary, or the woman
playing Mary, was the best
soprano in the church, and when
the spotlights were trained upon
her, for her big solo number,
there were then a total

of four Marys: the soprano
and the trinity of wavy
cast-on-the-backdrop shadows,
back-up singers who moved in perfect
synchronicity with Mary,
the best soprano in the city of David.

14 December 2012

Poem for Friday

the heart is
a lonely hunter
except the times

when it isn’t
and that’s all
the time the heart

want to hunt it
wants to be pursued
tracked sniffed heard hounded held
seduced sundered soothed

I’ll grant you lonely
as the adjective
but the noun
is nonsense

13 December 2012

The Choreographer

Reporter: We are so pleased you could sit down to answer a few questions for us.

Maestro: Not at all. My pleasure.

R: You have recently come forward to acknowledge your role in creating – and correct me if this is not a fair description – perhaps the most widely performed ballet of all time.

M: That is correct. My reputation, of course, is wrapped up with this one work. But only my closest friends knew about it. They insisted I “come forward” as you put it. To receive the credit they thought I deserved.

R: Can you tell us a little more about this work?

M: Certainly. It is performed by amateur and professional companies, and by beginners and seasoned dancers.

R: And the movements, I understand, are exquisitely suited for a spectrum of abilities.

M: Yes. The movements are both simple and elegant – and take into account improvisational elements.

R: That is fascinating. How did you come to design this dance?

M: Hours and hours of watching.

R: I think you are being modest.

M: Not at all. Just hours of observation, refining my vision, and then seizing the opportunities as they presented themselves.

R: And I understand there is no music.

M: That’s right – another tiny innovation of mine that…

R: And... Sorry to interrupt. There is also no applause – and this is across all cultures?

M: O, yes. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. It’s been quite moving actually – there is an almost sacred silence surrounding this artistic endeavor. I have to confess, though...

R: Yes. Go ahead.

M: Sometimes I am tempted to stand up and applaud. But, I stop myself - given the strong conventions of silence that have established themselves.

R: I have a confession, also. I have to confess that before now - before meeting you - I was not a big fan of ballet – I’ve heard of The Firebird and The Nutcracker, and something about After Tea with a Faun, of course.

M: You mean, I think, The Afternoon of a Faun – debuted by Nijinky, quite a scandal.

R: My bad. And before we go off the air – we almost forgot to mention the name of your wonderful ballet.

M: Indeed. The title is: Danseurs d'étirement et réglage leurs jambières.

R: Sounds beautiful. But I’m so sorry Maestro, I don’t know French and probably most of our listeners don’t either. Could you translate for us?

M: Certainly. Dancers stretching and adjusting their leg warmers.

R: Maestro, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule – I understand you will be present at two other performances this very evening.

M: That's correct.

R: Thanks again, Maestro.

M: My pleasure.

12 December 2012

Cop’s Wife

on a high and winter wind
the tattered cirrus clouds

(and on the drying line
are a dozen dress shirts
frozen solid like targets
and her one dress blouse)

and on a light blue bed
a sheer white gown

11 December 2012

Dream Date

I admit it. I was out
of my league. I had never
ever even heard of a moth

auction before. Never mind
been to one. My date had her
own magnifying glass. I’m

not kidding. She knew what she
was doing. I didn’t know
anything, so I just watched

the crowd mill around. Not true.
After I touched one, I watched
the crowd. Strike that. Once I got

caught touching the big blue one,
I started watching the crowd.
Not sure if my date was more

angry that I had far more
exotic and expensive
eye makeup on my finger-

tips than she had on her eye-
lids or that my fingers looked
like those of a preschooler.

10 December 2012

Advent II (redux)

Carpenters, over here and listen up.
And all the rest, you guys can go on home.
Don't you worry, all you clowns who showed up
will get paid for the full shift, and then some.

First off, all of these roof beams need to be
lowered. Not altered, all the way to the
ground. What about the pavilion? There is no
pavilion, get it? No roof, no walls, no

nothing. No skylight neither. There is no
building, you dunces. You just needed to
move the manger a few hundred metres
further out from the town. Was that so hard?
You geniuses even unroll the blueprints?
And no, you can't put fresh straw in it.

09 December 2012

Advent II

so lower
the roof beams

so lower

them until
there is no

roof or walls
no shelter

left standing
there at all

then make a
manger with

the debris
for the king

of glory
comes to play

outside in
a hiding

game a game
of hide and

08 December 2012

Ain’t No Shame

now there
ain't no shame
in a light-
headed heart

that startles
when she deigns
to smile or even when
she pauses near

and there
ain't no shame
in a heavy
one neither

one that withers
when she stays
hid far away
and the only murmur is remember

07 December 2012

Childhood Magic

my childhood was magical
like when everybody in my family
disappeared at the K-mart and I was the Blue Light Special

or like when I fell out of the attic
and almost broke my back
that was almost like rabbits out of a hat

(except for the direction) and speaking of ears
sometimes suddenly
things would appear from behind them

like the senior’s accelerating middle finger-nail
(on a bitter cold
waiting-for-the-bus morning) flicked against

my bare skin and then my lunch money coins
floated out
of my pockets (but not the marbles and rocks)

and my auricles
burned brighter red
than Rudolph's nose throughout first period

06 December 2012

05 December 2012

Light on a Dark and Stormy Night

              I could do these things
              especially if you asked me
like follow you across a strange
and dangerous city
              at night in the rain
              of course it’s raining
and windy too
and huddle beneath

              an awning (tri-coloured
              like somebody’s flag)
when the rain became
too much and when the first bolt
              of lightning struck
              I would actually run
and pull you after
me like Eurydice

               I think that’s the one
               can’t really remember
but I would try to
while you pulled out
              your cigarettes
              and tapped one out
and that’s when you would ask
and that’s when the glinting Zippo

              would appear from my jacket (I almost wrote
              magically but I didn’t)
like a knife and then the flame
would follow
              your face would be beautiful
              (and I did write it, a form of it,
this time) in magical shadows
and we would both guard the fire

              though we didn’t need to
              as you drew in the first draw
like the first taste
of a strawberry milkshake
              (notice how you don’t even
              need to use the word “straw”
since it’s already there
in “strawberry”)

              and the end glowing orange
              and the lighter clanking shut
as you turn-tilted your head
to blow the first puff up
              and past mine
              and I would wait
while you took a tiny
bit of tobacco off the tip

              of your tongue
              whether there was a tiny bit
of tobacco there
or not
              and I would notice
              your pink lipstick
on the cigarette and remember
the flavour of the milkshake

              but you don’t smoke
              and I don’t own
a chrome-plated Zippo
but these things I would do
              so maybe you should
              take up smoking
and these things I would do
I would

By the by, all the "ands" are on purpose.
If you don't believe me, take a re-peep at stanzas 1 and 3 and 6.

04 December 2012

I pick up things

serrated washers totally worthless
as coins and feathers with futures
containing neither
pillows nor flight

beer bottle tops like crowns
too small for my head
or yours
and smooth stones with no Goliath in sight

so the things I pick up
they are small
and useless
and light

and easy to hide

03 December 2012

Volcanic Verses: First Fragments

we'll take our verse
well-cooled thank you
black lava not
orange magma

antique tongs hung
in the shed not
tindering tongues
dancing over

our heads well-formed
and safe-to-the-
touch with touching
ironic turns

hammered in
at the very end
to advertise
the icy brain

at work with words that
pinch emotions
worthy of state

02 December 2012

Advent I

so tiny how
is my divine
so daringly
to be confined

to stoop into
a virgin’s womb
so temple small
there’s barely room

for altar bells
or candle stand
so body bow
to understand

so humbling how
is my divine
so small to fall
as toddling child

01 December 2012

Study in Purples and Pearly Whites

her purple

pulls open
her mouth so

that her lips
are just now

briefly lit
with trembling

static stars
of downy lint