Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poem #9-2010

       for J.D. Salinger

Salinger dead
Don’t ever tell anybody anything.
That next-to-last-line in Catcher
a mission statement for his life
of respected reclusiveness

Author fame – a funny, fleeting thing
Deserved or not, it lands
like an encyclopedia on
your shoulders
Never as wonderful as you hope
or as dreadful as you fear
(although it has certainly driven more than
one writer crazy with unrealistic
expectations: The only ones for me are the mad ones . . .)

But few things can claim universality
and fame is no different
Maybe it isn’t anything at all
Maybe it’s everything
Or maybe it’s just the same
recognition we all crave –
run amok for a time

For every author you think famous
there is someone blissfully
unaware of their existence

The wind blows through the rye
and leaves no trace at all
Yet words blow through my mind
and leave a permanent scar

Still, long-hidden behind page and pen,
J.D. himself could walk into my local pub
tomorrow and escape all notice
except perhaps a passing comment
about the decrepit old man drinking alone in the corner

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do,
you start missing everybody.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Poem #8-2010

Blowing white spindrift
Fire-white skyclouds glowering
Somewhere – it’s sunny

Monday, January 25, 2010

Poem #7-2010

Alone but not lonely
Sad but not despairing
Still but not paralyzed
Unfeeling but not indifferent

Something in the wind
passes slim notice
to an unrehearsed limitation
giving life to the long-dead
emotions sputtering
inside my level-headed distress

A small slick-haired fox
creeps through the endless rain
toward the solitary ghost of a tree
standing vigil in the five-acre field
behind our crooked barn

Watching him
everything makes sense for a second
Eat. Sleep. Move. Repeat.
So simple

I wish for a fox-like philosophy
to invade my core
and burn steady there

But I am not destroyed enough
to deserve such a gift

Somewhere between triumph
and annihilation
I linger, more afraid
of either than the soft middle path
I continue apace

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Poem #6-2010

During that in-between time
of sleep and wakefulness
when the window blinds
are just visible with early light
and all of my senses
seem to be – at the same time –
set at low volume yet high resolution
The birds right outside my window
sing piercingly soft songs

During that in-between time,
thoughts arise, scatter, and
recombine as if searching
for the answer to some unknown question.
I can almost see them –
a swirling vortex of energy,
careening molecules carrying
microscopic messengers
in a stew of chemical communication

This very morning
arose a sentence
Time marches on inexorably
And for the first time
in many months if not years
I knew the lie in that sentence
I saw the lie we’ve been taught
laid bare to a truth beyond symbols
A truth that sadly dissipates with age:

Time is something we’ve created
to hide ourselves from eternity

I returned to the birds

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Poem #5-2010

His sequin-starved
synthetic wife
fell sound asleep with a lit cigarette
in her mouth
while sitting in their
overstuffed chair bought
on credit from some flim-flam
discount palace

All the firefighters found was
a pile of ashes,
chair springs,
and her left foot

It cut down on cremation costs

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Poem #4-2010

Her neck veins bulge
as she belts out the old rock number
For some reason I focus on them
and not her other bountiful parts

On a junkie’s withered arm
On a dying loved one’s forehead
On a diabetic’s swollen leg
protruding veins evoke
desperation, loss, and pain

But tonight they symbolize
energy, passion, and desire

There can be no guilt
over nature’s meanderings
and no meaning
short of context

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poem #3-2010*

Not half – all
so romantic
value knows no time
ode to the premium

Rapid response
a thousand years
magic was lost

Life or death
available now

*This is a "found" poem. Every word came from a series of sequential TV commercials in the order seen.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Poem #2-2010

Let’s go because we can
Up and out and across this wild-eyed

country – no one else
has done it like we! No one

else can see first its sunrise
through our blurry eyes or
taste its fleshy freshness on

a dewy morning stirring
beside a sleepy New England

mill town. Or smell the pungent steel hearths
of industry. Or feel the warm

ghost sea air. Or hear the sugar sand settling
under the door on bebop winds
of change, change,

change the clock, the sheets, the tires,
the weather – bursting our

chests open from love of this and this and this
This small café. This gravelly food. These
world-worn compatriots. This familiar

strangeness. Let’s go because we can
Let’s take it all in, all of it –
the whole throbbing sweaty length of it and
come back for more, begging

please! – for more and more and more
until we lay exhausted, caressed in the sweet
traveler’s afterglow: sullied and spent, sorrowed and satisfied . . .

. . . loved

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Poem #1-2010

Somehow –
perhaps from lacking hallucinations
or suicidal ideations –
I have skillfully avoided
commitment in either
the Augusta or Harrisburg
state hospitals

Not that I aspire to it
(most of the time)
but occasionally they
seem like the only places left
where people can say
exactly what they’re thinking
and it makes no difference to anyone,
not to the psychiatrists or nurses or attendants
and not to loved ones who have come to expect
disconnected fragments or ravings,
unmanned communications spewing forth
with not even the speaker sure
of their origin or intent

Dark dark unspeakable thoughts
lurk inside everyone I fear

Or else I really do belong whereof I speak