Thursday, September 30, 2010

Religion for the Lonely

primordial soup.

in the early
allied in the spirit

of nucleotides,
becoming chains
of potential,
which rained down
from heaven
upon the desert sea

like the seeds
they would beget,
along with lungfish,
cockroach, and spleens.

But in the beginning
was only acid
to re-imagine itself,
to remember,
to distill

life, and then stronger
life, and finally

What a revelation,
the membrane, creator
of internal worlds.

realized the first
to strengthen
and to commune.

The joining
of worlds, inevitable.

Here a tail,
there a hook,
and a mere billion
years later
acid was algae.

And algae learned
to exhale
oxygen, invented
sex and thrived
on its own breath--

turned verdant
and rooted to stone.

animal forms gathered
exuberance into fins,
shells and spines.

On land, over-teeming
green and the first
creaturely ventures
against gravity endured
upon catastrophe,

exalting only the strong.
And perishing
gave rise to eloquence.

Shimmering scales,
gracious bloom,
and mammalian warmth.

a suckling babe.

And imagine
forgetting all of this,
the very legacy

of the cells in my old friend's
wrist where he so blithely
drew a razor,

not intending to die,
just hoping to prove he was
not already dead.

He and I do not speak
anymore, not least
because the mind fails
to comprehend
its own grandeur.

But at Christmas
I thought of him
when I peeled back
gold foil from a small world
sealed in glass.

Within, fairy shrimp
feasted on algae
in a sun-fueled Eden,
which I placed
on my desk, a reminder
that we are at least
as marvelous as that.

The last time I saw
my friend
was the funeral
of another young man
who had a problem
with forgetting,
and a shotgun--

such a crude tool
to end the work of eons
that have already borne
innumerable endings.

Yet I have a paper
packet of cosmo seeds
in my pocket, the beginnings
of a trillionth miracle.

And I still dare to want
for love.  We yearn
for what we are beneath
our blunt object egos.

Consider the lilies,
and grazing ewes.
Offer thanks
to who will listen,

personage in the sky
or child on the corner.
We are progeny
of an exploding heaven.
Forged in the roiling
waters of a jeweled orb.

Let us rejoice.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Twenty-five: Confetti

*I intend this poem to be the first of a series of birthday poems--snapshots of what I am experiencing as my age turns.  I'll be twenty-five on September fifteenth.

I stole the peonies
that reminded me

of my great-grandmother.
They blossomed

through the fence—

which I did not mention
as I gripped the chain link

against a kiss,
also stolen

and displayed.
Heads of pink petals—

obscene cabbages
that shed their bounty

overnight, and left
refuse on my nightstand. 


I wake late
and hung-over
before the ceremonies

of a dead elder
and wedding friends.

Top down, we drive
over hills that were

In the back,
my eyes closed
against the rush and light—

sound of struggling

and illumination
of inner eyelids.

I sit in a pew,
my hair askew,

and proceed
to consume

the Perfect Body
saturated in wine.


My mind a child’s
folded fortune teller,

a different future
under every flap.

Mansion, apartment,
or shack—all of  paper.

But now I have a house
with bones and square feet.

I spackle
the bullet holes

and paint over—
exuberant teal.

My colored
and white crusted

palms testify
to the cover up.

I scrub them
in the sink,

laden with crystal,
and I think

how the broken wine
glass glitters

prettily, like spent
sweat or semen.
I sweep it up,

to forget
the cabernet

and his solid form—

We are enraptured
by shattered things,

which never catch
this light intact.


My loveliest dream
happened in a sewer:

Tiny orange
and fuchsia hearts

from yards of crepe

we punched them out

Our pockets filled
with extras

soaked in refined
sugar and  rum

stuck to our hands
and mingled tongues.

to take the city—

we slide grates 
and descend
to taint the water

with saccharine seeds.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Project Echo & "The Question"

Project Echo--a collaborative art show that I am organizing--is the first time I have applied my poetry in an unexpected way.  I hope interesting things come of it...  

Visit the site!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Poems about Hips

Homage to My Hips
-Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top


Homage to My Hips: A Burnt Offering

My mother hates her
mother's hips, through which she came
to be-- rudely formed
those hips. And cumbersome.

The Old Masters admired
plumpness-- full hipped
and smooth shouldered.
They waxed rhapsodic in oils.

And Lucille said, Power!
These hips occupy space.

But my mother abides
the kitchen cross-stitch
that claims audaciously:
pleasure is fleeting,
hips eternal.

In ecstatic moments I grow--
an enormous moon--
and know no fear.

But in harsher light
I wish to be a tight
strung bow, stripped
of every blessing, formidable
as a burnt offering.


Asheville, NC is beautiful, and so is the Asheville Poetry Review. A gem:

Don't Wake the I-98
-Anna Connors

We didn't know the highway was closed.
Dark clouds' bruised underbellies
clog the sky.

Road colors radiate
through their dusting of ash,
blak-eyed susan yellow
in unsung morning.

Our car,
the only moving shape.

We find the occasional image
hold it,
an impossible breath.

A-frame churches,
steeples pierce the air.

Crushed animals
like moccasins
at this speed
their lovely, beaded bodies

and black
in the rearview mirror,

carrying us
one mile marker to another
until all signs say
go home.

You'll wake
the enthroned bulldozers,
tall and curved
like pitcher plants.

You'll wake
the broken billboards
that plead redemption,

the abandoned shopping carts
that couldn't possibly
be out this far,

directing us toward home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Gene for Wings

{from the stacks}

The mind of the structure is ordered and frankly
holy under fluorescent bars that forbid
distraction, and the people inside walk
like they are stepping on very old maps.

No one notices the man striding through with a bag
over his shoulder and a snowflake
in his mustache, his eyes supposing
a mind can conceive of what it doesn’t contain.

He doesn’t mean to intrude with his messy
flesh, not knowing the mind of God-- except that certainly
it must be collected like this, in towering shelves,
with an angel in each aisle, storming ideas for illumination.

Bowing his head over a volume on chromosomes,
he speculates, since chimps have 48 and humans 46,
that one might narrow the degree of perfection to One
and observe a microscopic God humming in a Petri dish.

He jots “48 and 46” on a Post It, and fixes it
with the collection already feathering his bag,
now a yellow wing that rustles when he walks--
the occasional observation falling off, gone begging.

Outside Waterloo

Punctuating an unnamed stretch of gravel,
weathered structures lean an ear
to woods—tangled and haunted by frogs.

Tender-thumbed tulips press green
from a window box, while the daffodils,
once polite, traipse from abandoned swing
to the barn turned shrine to rusted auto parts.

In the barbed wire patch, dormant grass pacifies
the goat who fixes her cataracts
on each passing pickup; blackbird; mutt.

Crate of murky bottles and the refrigerator
from childhood, now defunct, retire against the fence
alongside the elderly soprano gate.

No one hears the dissonant song, except the dog
who has been here so long he’d miss the company
if someone set it right.

Tarantula Nebula

From a hill in the south
if night is clear, our naked eyes
detect faintly a cloud straddling
Mensa and Dorado.
We call it Magellan, and feel bold.

We glimpse the brilliant inflection—
spark glints orange.
What cataclysmic creation is forged
amongst huddled gods?

Most active starburst
in the local galaxies, we regard
your electric embrace, your deluge of fire
with enhanced eye and letter your parts
as though to contain your very novae
in our tenuous web.

At our distance, you seem solid—
green halo, pink breath, and blazing blue
points of light: cells in a great body
with a heart that folds and enfolds again.


This second war house survived
to slant a roof over us
in curving dawn.

Part the curtain and reveal
thunderheads, pink-crowned,
above the peeling sill.

Before, you traced the curve
of night in solitude,
stored up longing: a planet

in the cavity of your breast,
in your palm. Now, your hands
work sheets like fragrant earth.

You conquer hemispheres
in the dark—in the morning
are the languid last pull of wine.

The dip of your throat
pools dew: just morning
through the rain-jeweled pane.

I press my tongue inside
and taste you ripening there
like apple, like grain.

Porch Light: Moths

Remember last night
the porch light.
You gripped my waist
as though we might fly

apart. And I will remember
your ribcage, a husk
cradling lungs and kicking
heart. Horn of plenty.

According to ancients
cornucopia was severed
from the face of God
or a goat, depending

on mythologies:
dreams we share,
like moths
and their luminous god.

Before you and I
with these particular lips
drew breath, we costumed
ourselves with wings.

Remember how we moved
as smoke, hassled flame
with arrhythmia—
vital, flawed.
Our wings brushed visions
that could not be possessed.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Deep Sea

When I was learning to read, I loved life
in most forms, but deep sea creatures best--
translucent mysteries, blind eyes, under-bites.
I weighed every volume from the Marine Biology shelf,
clutched them to my chest like secrets, like poems
I could not yet write.

These were the things unseen but real: creatures that were
alien not by virtue of their claim to another planet
but by the depth of their origin in Earth.
Terrifying, beautiful, they were poisonous, could dissolve
flesh with their mouths, could produce light. They survived
on what fell from the sun's grasp: a carcass,
perhaps a seal.

I could not fault monsters that obeyed their own economy.
What would it be to have no eyes?
What would it be to taste with my toes?
I would later learn that despite the illusion of unity
my body was not precisely an organism but an ecosystem--an effusion
of flora and tiny sea creatures, crowned by one
miraculous mind.

This did not surprise me, who had loved submerged beasts
without knowing why. Did I suspect myself reflected
in ghostly fish and spiny urchins?
My gut, my dreams, populated by distinct lives-
and no less my enemies, friends, the billions I will not recognize:
all planets orbiting other planets,
within a planet.