July 31, 2008

Language the color of war &

It rains
Over & over

We are moving out of the earthquake window where all trembled:
As in
Water. No veto on life.

Under my boy-thin chest
Anjou-shaped pears were forming

When I see cottonwood tree seeds fly and drift in the summer air, I think about a similar thing. They will drift into different places. But once they germinate, they become cottonwood trees.

Walking against an Ireland-colored sky brick colored Anam Cara
When it all began
I found one who was there          the iconic devastation which is the pity of war;

Not all the heather purples of the moor
Could make up for the thinness
From cancer

Not all the recitals of
Due to her psychiatric illness she could never enjoy the translucence of April come.

These others
Because they had no sorrow
They had no joy.

My day began unhappily
Like during war:
This time I’d lost a small piece of paper
A library slip
Thinner than your petticoat or undershirt
Containing my notes for poems from the night before.

Found it.
A cousin recalling my sister’s glee
When I could “sit up in the pool

This island-cold
this crystal-living
and the invention of butterfly. Ars Poetica, poem within jewel-case poem.

The kitchen sink sucking water down.
the planetarium first painted in my skull

Thru the twelve years of my life
Things hung on pegs:
Walking, first steps, last.

Scattered like dancing
Leaping               bounding               hiking mountains.
Love sputtering like a tallow candle.

Guzzling ice water
At the rusty pump I stood tiptoe:
The well.

Good god!
What did I dream
Under the full moon its ledgered schoolroom ruler:

The fuels
Of movement
Ecstatic again?

Moonlight clung to me like a gown I went dancing in
Thru the halls of the mental institution
Where daddy worked

An Ophelia.
Ritual. Exam. Mask.
The girl I love turning back covers searching for the library slip: Mine!

The dumbwaiter on one of our army posts
Which lifted up & down black-brown nothingness.

My sister & I thrilled
with the scare.

This island-cold
this crystal-living
and the invention of butterfly

—Lynn Strongin

Posted by dwaber at 01:43 PM

July 30, 2008

Ars Poetica

In the Indian museum
even the smallest basket
woven for just one bean
is banded red.

—Gwen Broderick

Posted by dwaber at 02:18 PM

July 29, 2008

The Shining Room

To survive chaos she inscribes
chaos, looking through

          space      this

shining flycatcher, oat grass
a line through fabric


name, a wild steadying
drawn tightly across

          what fills

To see
what won’t go away

          she lists
          every false claim

extending her body in space

          transparency after transparency

—H.T. Harrison
from Practicing Amnesia (Singing Horse Press, 2000) by Heather Thomas

Posted by dwaber at 02:09 PM

July 28, 2008

The Room of Not-Knowing

There’s a bed, a lamp, a bureau,
the drawer filled with your socks.
You keep the corners clear
for piles of laundry, magazines.
You sit at the desk hunting
what you don’t know in words
unspooling filigreed patterns
laced like nests across an inner sky.

Someone carries the chair to the car.

When the nests fall
from the weight of their knots
you make new ones
or give up and construct a series
of shifting screens dark or light
depending on whether you
remembered to change the bulb.
Some have the translucence of pearls
or the wings of mating dragonflies.

The car carries someone to the chair.

You come through rain
before everything strung and fallen,
brief as photos, your chance
to live at the heart of the real
and to tell. You are perturbed
at the pronounciation of your name.
Sleeping above you the skeleton
dangles your writing hand from its ear.

The chair someone carries is a car.

—H. T. Harrison

Posted by dwaber at 02:16 PM

July 24, 2008


you are not your mind you are not your mind you are not

                the poem is
                not your body

is language an ocean we live            coming to
                                     forms           proof
                                               she was coming to

blank space where the body could be blank space

                        curve           ink

                        wet     wide    open

thought lands wild      (grief is simple and dark)

                          to turn

turn into the one you want or each next enter the split

                mount an enormous
                with fictions
rushing past

     will you be close


               utterly solitude

                        maple, moss

my plot is marvelous this fine gauze

         conceals        practices

hard careful digging hard careful digging hard

          cold part

          would imagine

                    life like

—H.T. Harrison
from Resurrection Papers (Chax Press, 2003) by Heather Thomas

Posted by dwaber at 01:28 PM

July 23, 2008

The Fling

Instead of handing a poem to my parents, I hand
an excuse. Instead of making poems, I make headway.
Any visit I make I examine for poems
minutely, as for lice. Also any list. In laying
out my armor, breastplate and creases for next
morning, I'm layering and compressing
poems for later, the most possible, folded
or caught anywhere -- "What's great
about poetry is it doesn't have to stop
there," my student said, I'm stealing it,
flocks of poems gather and yap over the roofs. Let's
say everyone you wanted to sleep with would have you
and it's up to you to conduct yourself
ecstatically, fairly -- you'd prepare to say what you want.

—Kate Schapira

Posted by dwaber at 03:59 PM

July 22, 2008


When there is no good in us
Summon Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Corrie
Summon Emma Goldman, Philip Berrigan
Summon Walt Whitman, Cesar Chavez
Summon James Baldwin
Summon Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman
Summon Harriet Tubman
Summon Mother Jones, Medgar Evers

Be with us now
Be America
Be with us in our marching
Be in our bodies that lie in streets
Be in our nightmares as we try to sleep
Do not leave us
Whisper, hector, shout
through our bullhorns
through our throats

We are America
We are Elizabeth Cady Stanton
June Jordan
We are Muriel Rukeyser
We are the miners shot at Homestead
We are Sacco and Vanzetti
We are Langston Hughes
Essex Hemphill
Paul Monette, Audre Lorde
We are hope, we are nothing but hope
We are the ancestors to come
We fling ourselves into the future

Come, say it with me:
We are Sojourner
We are Truth

—Sarah Browning
First appeared in Beltway: An On-line Journal, special issue honoring Walt Whitman, Winter 2005.

Posted by dwaber at 01:48 PM

July 21, 2008

Workshop Poem; or, Sorry, Austin

One participant said saxophones
are always being asked to do
too much work in poems.

They are always there growling about
sex, and cigarettes smoking alone, it seems
to me. And so, she objected. Another woman

felt that way about cicadas. You know,
she said, they’re always there in the background
with their dizzy wings, the infernal saw

of Georgia nights, or Mississippi,
or some godawful Southern swamp. They never work.
Sorry. For me, offered the last, it’s bougainvilleas.

And they all agreed. The heavy-scented,
head-filling veil of their pungency, wafting
or whatever, across the veranda, it’s predictable.

And then there’s that thing about Vietnam,
the association with the Mekong Delta, or bombs,
or I don’t know, but bougainvilleas are just

too much. And so there we were,
with the cicadas and the saxophones and the bougainvilleas
roaring around the table, the poem

flat and quiet between us. Our work
here is done, one announced. Thank you
for the generosity of your words.

—Lynnell Edwards
from her book, The Farmer's Daughter, Red Hen Press, 2003

Posted by dwaber at 12:50 PM

July 18, 2008

Varnish This!

The worst color and two coats
of it thick on the desk
that I want for my work. Three
kinds of stripping solution, steel wool,
turpentine, finally de-natured
alcohol does the trick, lifts
malignant stain from the deep grain,
gives me back the lines
of raw wood, corners grey and rough
where damage must be scrubbed smooth.
But now it is my desk; I own
its very skin, have claimed its planed surface,
brace, and drawer with chafed hands,
stiff neck, cramped back stooped
to abrade its dark belly, squared legs.
And hard varnished to slick
and shining surface, I set my light,
my book, my clean sheets,
dangerous points upon it, and when asked
about my work I say: If
you want to write, then do it.

—Lynnell Edwards

Posted by dwaber at 02:09 PM

July 17, 2008


Your Honor, by reason of fathering
his own mother and miscarrying himself

If it please the court, he is a rabbit-
mind high up in tulip tree
when consciousness is nothing,
said an unbidden angel, but chlorophyll—
only color that color sees

Your Honor, the ram in the bramble

Your Honor, the light buoying my head
presses like too little air the bluing infant
into whose face my father breathed
the color back

Your Honor, if it were you in your own arms
one color would uncolor its son; we are guided
by his climbing deeper after tulips
over deepening trajectories

The rabbit, even for ears and acutest
angle of leap-pent legs can be reduced
to sphere, thanks to Grisha Perelman

“Yes, the Poincare was a little different
than mushroom hunting but led deeper
into woods. Forget the prize and gathering
of Minds round as their skull-cases.

It’s why I’ve taken you with me
along this gully and deeper for dead elms
whose unsleeving layered with leafthatch
softens chambered hearts of morel.”

In a Dark Chamber Rembrandt’s Jerome, whose thought
until this instant climbed the winding stair up
into void, frame, nothing heavy the hand spent
with Pamacchius and terrors of all sight, all hearing,
all action, all movement

Your Honor in spite of gunpoint or begging any angel can leave you
to your own devices: eight angles of room
fall in like crows I am nothing but sorting
wing from wing-edge all inaction
a day all hand guiding all knife to a woman’s neck (as they say)
in the Hamburg grocery all height all fallen
into legs that build me up again (all eye) all jowl
and rooted teeth all tooth then all neck
and the very blue that oranges
where all body enters it
all woolen chest all navel all cock
Ladies and Gentlemen—
if I am to be this alone

So starry eyed you see space roughly seated
before you, strapped with minutes

all minutes

—Nick Regiacorte

Posted by dwaber at 01:23 PM

July 16, 2008


For a moment on rising, at the edge of the bed, to be,
To have the ant of the self changed to an ox…
—Wallace Stevens

The breadth of each thing loved
unloved from Euphrates to Mississippi nothing
escaping my dimensions jumping-
jack of each atom and megalith measured
perfectly in my armspan cast from
moon’s light why go further
except for an obedient and anxious horse
whose leapsense makes Earth fresh
as new apples warm as your hair though
awful the long ladder counting down
will you be watching guess nudge
the little pool—right more right since
one or more feet for the story of misfalling is old will
catch when everything falls back into
true shape and density the head of one name
pulped against one much harder.

—Nick Regiacorte

Posted by dwaber at 02:34 PM

July 15, 2008


I wanted to bury him here in mud or
deep woods, sober him first & raise his
dull senses to the least animal cognition
of smallness then maim him from
pissing to speech, squinching both to slow
trickles and pain—let him speak
into his own pants, I thought, his liver sodden
to foam, heart founder, enlarging
only to a need for forgiveness that maketh
even mongrels children
of God. But the poem does not see
me as Black Shirt, alone
or with accomplices, though I still play out
the basement in my mind, chair, straps, pliers
and funnel. One man to an ankle, one
for each wrist, one at the neck—
wedging the jaw open. The poem holds
us back as though this one were
precious to it, a filament of
dullest noon didn’t shine too brightly
upon this head, I were not my grandfather’s
kind, didn’t carry mare nostrum
in my breast as fiercely, the sister kidnapped
in a dream of pirates was never
mine to save, even if prayer jinxed us
I had no right to ask the poem stand by, a poem
by nature cannot put anyone to death but
makes every breath a juror to thought, thinking
made us brothers or the only penalty
it may execute must restore or kill us
both—like castor oil whose great power
wells up in the gullet as reason.

—Nick Regiacorte

Posted by dwaber at 01:13 PM

July 14, 2008

The Sputum Pose

Spat at a stray black cat.
Nice flat timing, bike cruise smack.
'Twas smooching in a corner refuse,
but totally unfazed by my loog.

Think about it though,
mucous would serve as a styling poesy
vehicle for something
wrought up around
like a grandfather dying of throat cancer
with a loved one's:
fortitude, loyalty, stable
predictability in the regular
fillempty of life...

Spilled as soon a nonchalant purr
sports an attitude.

—Taylor Mignon

Posted by dwaber at 12:54 PM

July 13, 2008

              A Half-Baked Manifesto
        for Reconstructing Broken Bones

I told the Pentagon's one-eyed guy
        this damn war'd bring thousands
                of innocent deaths & hot new recruits
into al qaeda-affiliated terror firms
        but he still lives in the Cold War & loves
                to hear the sound of young ones falling.
Now the exploding corpses in uniform & out
        are food for the birds.
                Now 200-ton nation-destroying bombs
send sacred iron pillars to break bones
        & knock down homes
                across the floating extinction of continents.
"Only acknowledge your iniquity"
        said Jeremiah in the voice of god
                but the president is coughing & scrambling
his syntax trying to explain his & his nation's
        past macrobiological mistakes.
                The Attorney General has turned
into a granite fossil while kneeling in prayer
        & compiling neon McCarthyite files
                on infants & toddlers of antiwar marchers.
Maher Arar was tortured in Syria's breadcrusted dungeon
        despite Ashcroft's assurances heard echoing
                through the background noise
of a high-speed human rights blender. Cheney still claims
        Saddam was Osama's late night lover, Rumsfeld says
                the word "Guantanamo" with the smug grin
of a man who knows it makes no difference to rusty
        corporate news anchors whether his lies
                are big or bigger. The century's most pungent
smog-filled bill is nicknamed Clear Skies Initiative,
        Healthy Forests offers loggers a free supply
                of chain saw blades. An energy reform chauffeur
drives a cab full of tax breaks to summer homes
        of those fillet-prepared to cook the globe
                over a medium flame. The national
crime prevention brigade has developed a no-fail economic
        blackmail scheme to garner flak jacket U.S. immunity
                from world's most progressive war crimes court.
Even the rose-pedaled immune systems of children
        are not immune from Bush team's sour medicine,
                where "education for all" is laconic code
for stripping schools of the last sliver of union-made paint.
        Ending hunger for this shrink-wrapped administration
                equals sending starved kids down        
to nearest bootstrap sermon. If you ask for citizenly explanation,
        their public relations spokesman
                sighs it's all so undecideable
some weird kind of post-post-structuralist
        vague, ungraspable reasons overflowing
                horizontally across basement floor here
vertically thru 50-foot castle roof there, somebody
        they are unable to identify has placed a mile-wide pothole
                along the highway of American ideals.
Their made-in-Miami rubber bullet pellets
        are the only justification they offer, locked & loaded
                for rampaging gangs of idealistic teens.
There is no signature at bottom
        of any interdepartmental forms,
                no one with beating cabinet heart is available
to speak softly at the flag salute funeral, the documents
        the investigative committee has requested
                were shoved through the corporate paper shredder
a long time ago. There are no answers for questions
        of who never knew. Who told Novak?
                Who forged Niger?
How Enron money? Who slipped the 27 lies
        into Bush's State of the Union speech?
                Why's a Chinese semi-conductor company
paying brother Neil 2 million technophobic bucks?
        How did we get from Civil Rights Act
                of 1866 to here?
O that my head were waters! Lack of sleep
        has become breakfast too many mornings.
                The Earth has been sighing
through our open flesh wounds a quarter-million years.
        The sun misses its beloved.
                Our bodies self-destruct.
Our poets in the snowy cities deconstruct.
        Run--the horse--cave belly ache--
                corn never roots wish--
no end then beginnings--
        cut wire whispering--
                Which of the wanting Grand Narratives
are they talking about now? O lamentations!
        O Jeremiah!  O Blake! There is no longer
                a good excuse for our innocence!

Back in the 1980s I told the poetry world
        it was reconstruction that held the greatest
                unfulfilled emancipatory potential.
I was looking for the 14th amendment of poetry,
        a verse to reverse Plessy v. Ferguson
                for good, a new way of seeing to flip
the notion of original intent on its head, judicial doctrine    
        meant to invisibly disintegrate the most utopian
                midnight desires of post-Civil War era.
Much humane good has been done in this country,
        the ideals of democracy & unimprisoned talk,
                the vote & the vatic blues,
the fight against fascism and mass migratory movements
        for peace & australopithicene-ancestored rights,
                the jazz trumpet & long lines
of bebop hiphop verse. An expanding nutritional belly
        of sometimes sustainable mirth, quantum-eyed inventions
                of some melodic medicines & humming machines.
But it is still reconstruction that is most
        in need of a 40-acre rescue. Yet I have grown
                older & occasionally smarter
& can now also say "long live
the language poets"
                & the 10,000 other international schools,
so many diverse linguistic loves capable of digging
        up useful glory. As Nicanor Parra said,
                too much blood has been spilled
under the bridge to go on believing only one poetic
        road is right. Whether a kitchen mirror to the real,
                or Ernst Bloch's anticipatory illuminations,
Isaiah's admonition holds: "do not shed innocent
        blood in this place."
                In my most transparent moments
of realism, there is a purple horse labeled a long shot
        at the last moment reaching its neck
                across the finish line first.
In utopian fantasies I see thousands of multicolored shirts
        marching peacefully in the streets
                to throw Bolivia's president out
of the country, to send Georgia's electoral thief
        home with embarrassed eyes dangling.    
                I see a new global trade organization
exporting the idea of taxfree nonviolent presidential topplings
        whichever corner of Earth they're well deserved.
                I see a Geneva-negotiated peace deal
between Israelis & Palestinians that at first offers only
        a full-throated birdsong organizing tool,
                but within a short time
is being implemented step by step by a less stubborn age.
        I see a new president of Brazil
                altering the map of incomplete bridges.
The TV Reporters of Record have tried so hard
        to convince us we have no choice
                but this George, too, will be dethroned.
Love, you and I will unlock our x-rayed suitcase
        of buried laughter, the jobs promised
                will be there for all,
no longer will any engendered group be sacrificed at altar
        of an idea. Isaiah, we take the plowshares
                in our broken hands.
The wound bandages itself. The burnt day care center
        is rebuilt from its ashes. Our poems
                have become immune to the scissors.
Reparations for slavery's non-biodegradable shackles
        & native America's broken treaties will be paid.
                The next plague is already cured.
Our most peaceful surrealistic phrases mean
        what they say. The Human Rights Act
                of 2050 is passed!

—Eliot Katz (2003)

Posted by dwaber at 03:05 PM

July 12, 2008


A poet is someone who dreams
on her feet, for whom words
are the digestive reason
of her soul. This is not to say
that she never goes hungry or
craves unorthodox nourishment. It's
really not a complaint at all. Neither
is it an apology or a romancing
of her craft. She has no illusion
about where the words come from.
They come from nowhere.

—Theresa Whitehill

Posted by dwaber at 02:43 PM

July 11, 2008


it is the centre of a word
that is unimaginable, almost
as it flutters out with the birds
indifferent over the lake

as closed in the eye
or as far as the mountain
brittle as a principle or a crust
in the hand

it is raised up but not grasping
the sides of the hours
it is suspended, it is surface
as though carried by water

or wind moves the parts of language
less calculable than the tides
not boxed or protected
once they leave the soft throat

the twist of autumn trees
lets down the light, trust
in the chill, naked and right
that winter will always be spoken

if it is tender as thinking inside today
and surrounding form – klee klee
little curlew will sing elsewhere than memory
raising sky with soundings/silences

but it is a kind of peace time
and also a form of force that emerges
such as words that rhyme
or shuffle softly near the tree

a head operates in its clay
and thinks about the wings
it cannot elevate to understanding
here against the fickle light

to be based on what is left
as though still unwritten
a statement that suddenly swerves
and disappears

it has moved beyond confidence
and shed that blunt examination
even though birds pick over the ground
that is written

—Jill Jones
from Broken/Open (Salt Publishing, 2005)

Posted by dwaber at 02:04 PM

July 10, 2008

Things to make and do

Waver on stilts while listening to arias.

Sew your own rose and ask of its questions.

Steal flotsam like wanton flies.

Ruin lyrics, while above the egrets lift.

Paste green language around a cork room.

Refuse to ‘nail it’. Just refuse.

Keep rearranging what is footnote and what is space.

Walk out one day in presences.

Release the necessary angels from their curators.

Make friends with adverbs, unwisely.

Take night’s immediate nerve with possibility.

Speculate outside with the big southerly.

Pass as you go into.

Sleep all around at blue windows.

Burn down the villa, change all the doors.

Stand so shadows make you perfect.

Love your dumb corpus, of song.

—Jill Jones

Posted by dwaber at 01:34 PM

July 09, 2008

Charles Edward Ives

There is no word      can hold a chord      no analogy fits ear
forte, into eye

      a stanza      a piano inside it would stifle, would rife with
            hands fitting felt to phoneme, syllables to hammers, signs
                  hinges, singing.

Seized by strings, a stanza      whose whole interior rings
syntax      tightened to tune
to show a word vibrate

                        sympathetic with another—

Structure is image as prayer is      to kneeling      the composer reasons :

   two hands      opens the keyboard       to weird the signature
      raise the voice         music retreats
            into form’s firmament

                                          divinity free to live without—

—Brian Teare

Posted by dwaber at 01:26 PM

July 08, 2008


Not wrenched, but rendered—
extract beyond word or image:
matter melted into mind into matter melting,
tongue telling eye
seeing melt of mind beyond matter,
eye mattering as mouth does,
here much more than ear
ever than an h is,
ere eye sees y.

Why an ear sees here
more than eyes hear there
is what a paradox is.

A mouth mattering
as word or image.
An eye’s as much an ear:
look, hear beyond mutter of fact.

—Paul Dutton
“Content” (hear which syllable you stress) first appeared in the Milwaukee
poetry journal gam in 2004.

Posted by dwaber at 12:28 PM

July 07, 2008


No poems for three months, no near poems,
I revise, clean up, throw out. I index the survivors
by first word or key word. No X or Z, of course,
but at least one poem for every other letter -
except L. And how can that be? The one who loves her family,
loves her friends, loves her lovely garden,
loved the lovers who long ago moved on,
has nothing left to say?

What about Laughter? What about Life?
Am I waiting to be named queen of Loss
and Loneliness?
Better to settle for lunch
in the small French restaurant downtown
where a casual companion
lifts my hand to his lips whispering, La langue,
time now to speak of light verse.

—Annette Basalyga
previously appeared in VERBATIM and SNAKESKIN

Posted by dwaber at 01:01 PM