Tag Archives: poetry

Ode to Box 1 (of 2)

IMG_20160611_101704You taunt me,
box 1 of 2.
What, and where
is box 2?

Is there even a box 2?
Is there any relation
between the utterly random
assortment of junk in you
to the cornucopia
which is box 2?

Ah, box 1
half of an unknown whole,
kept, I think, only to wait
for your long lost sibling,
languishing, somewhere,
waiting for you.

 

Endnotes

Endnotes

She didn’t want
to send invitations.
Why invite people you know aren’t going to come.
Seems a waste.
So her Daddy’s daughter.

It’s traditional,
says Mere,
People like to know.

She didn’t send invitations.

And now she sits,
easy to find with her purple hair,
in a mob of her classmates

awaiting a short walk,
a slip of paper,
the endnotes of this chapter
that she doesn’t really need to tell her
that the next one has started.

Almost spring

Almost spring

The final creme brulee crust of ice
clings valiantly to the surface of the swimming pool,
but vanishes at the lightest touch of the fingers

I pretend it’s warm enough
to be outside in bare feet,
pretend not to shiver when
the water gets on my neck.

Pretend it will be
warm again some day.

Vincent

Vincent

“Sit anywhere.”
He pushes some things off of Paul’s chair –
a swirly sky of stars,
a couple sleeping on a hay stack.

I stub my toe on pair of old black boots,
brush my elbow on some cherry blossoms,
and sit.

“Just a few things I’m working on,
they’re not done yet.”
He wipes a smudge of paint from his cheek,
gestures with a paintbrush,
getting yellow on the floor.

So much beauty scattered about
it’s hard to squeeze through
without knocking over
a vase of dandelions.

 

gauguins-chair

MY PEOPLE

MY PEOPLE

Thomas Butler,
my great great
great great
grandfather
was a wool weaver.
I hope to find him today,
sleeping in his homespun
at St. Catherine’s.

But my Irish roots are right here
at the breakfast table.

Good Lord, these people know how to eat.

Baked beans, eggs, sausage, bacon,
potato, pudding,
toast and marmalade.

And the coffee is good.

These are surely my people.

Spinning your straw into gold

Spinning your straw into gold
For E

Emerging from under the haystack
halo of straw around your head
the night under Claude Monet’s hayrick
and the dreams still
caught in your hair

You squirm like Rumpelstiltskin
stamping your feet and shouting
as we chase the rats back into their holes
tease out the tangles
find the treasure in the brambles
spin your straw into gold

Wheatstacks_(End_of_Summer),_1890-91_(190_Kb);_Oil_on_canvas,_60_x_100_cm_(23_5-8_x_39_3-8_in),_The_Art_Institute_of_Chicago

O Captain, my Captain

O Captain, my Captain is the poem that got me started reading Walt Whitman – one of many works mentioned in Dead Poets Society that got me reading particular authors. Not exactly Whitman’s most cheerful work.

Mom used to tell stories of her grandma Nace (my great grandmother) throwing apples at crazy old Walt Whitman as he went for his daily walk near his home in Camden, The kids of the town thought that he was a crazy old man. But he was a man who took his personal tragedies – mostly having to do with his brothers – and turned them into beauty, poetry, and a lifetime of service to the wounded of the civil war.

And now, when so many people are quoting “O Captain, My Captain” in reference to Robin Williams, I have to wonder if they’ve read past the first line – a deeply tragic poem about the death of President Lincoln, in which he is imagined as a ship captain who doesn’t quite make it into harbor, after his great victories. Chillingly apropos of yesterday’s tragic end to the brilliant career of Robin Williams.

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Island

Island

feb 24 2013
LAX, Gate 47A

island

The travelers cling to the island
fighting for a foothold,
for a chance to pluck the limited fruit.

Their phones, laptops, and tablets
balance precariously on the tiny table,
their cables drinking from the meagre outlets.
They sit on the floor, lean on the wall,
look longingly at the
only-slightly-more-comfortable
fellow passengers,
sitting in the cramped seats
around the A Concourse,
trying not to bump knees,
squirming to be comfortable,
in seats designed more for the rowing galley
than for comfort.

Waiting for their turn at the island,
watching carefully with seeming unconcern
for the moment when an outlet
becomes available,
and they can dash across to claim it,
take their spot on the island.

The tide goes out.
The tide comes in,
and a new crew of castaways
cling to the island.

Mussolini On the Produce Aisle

This requires just a little explanation. This is about the awkward situation that arises when you encounter someone from a past, and, in this case, very unpleasant, chapter in your life, and the difficulty of making small talk. Everything serves to remind you of something from that time. Which got me to thinking – what if I were to encounter a dreadful historic figure at Kroger. Hitler? Too obvious. I know …

Mussolini On the Produce Aisle

I saw Benito
– he’s going by Beni now,
sort of a break from the past –
waiting for his swiss

You don’t mention
death camps in the deli,
it just isn’t done.

So I made small talk,
asked if he had been
hanging around Milan lately.
Realized, apologized for the faux pas,
made my excuses,
went to find the rigatoni.

Saw him again
looked at the zucchini,
trying to decide
organic
or non-organic.

I complimented him on his
black shirt.
Again realized too late,

escaped to look for the
alfredo sauce.

I didn’t realize he shopped here.
Might order pizza for dinner instead.

Taxi

Taxi

At three in the morning
most cities look the same —
like the back of a taxi-driver’s head
on the way to the airport.

He also takes me places I’ll never see myself

A dive bar in Harlem,
where Dizzy Gillespie plays his horn
to a packed house

Or growing up in Somalia
one meal away from starvation
or enscription
or a lucky break in the new world,

Or the guy so Nigerian you can see Lagos
reflected in his eyes, who insists
he is American
and then shouts at the radio in Yoruba.

And Mr Patel, complete with Ganesha
swinging from the rear view
who asks me in a deep Georgian drawl
if I caught the Braves game last night.

And that dude in San Diego
who used to be a Java programmer before the bubble burst.
Now he sets his own hours and is home
when the kids get off the bus.

Most times, though,
at three in the morning,
we sit in silence, each of us thinking
of home.