I have stared out
through this window before.
the sums of such things?
I was there this morning,
a fresh mug of coffee
sending the aroma of waking
up from the table beside me.
Yesterday, the trees
were the waving arms
of children at a parade.
The sunrise was
a golden flood.
In Winter, the finches
were the ghosts of Spring.
The frozen pond
a tomb for the sky.
The Christmas cactus was
the ebon night above us
on The Fourth of July, and
the hill which lifts this house
fell away from the porch
like the falter toward eternity.
But on this day,
the glass is only glass.
The rain is only the rain.
This morning is but the
last of last night.
The cats are just cats.
The leaves of the laurel
look as they do, and
I am only a man
in an old robe,
cradling a cooled cup,
capped pen in his pocket,
and likely to be late
At Hard Labor
I suppose I am grateful
that writing a poem
is not like mining sulfur
from the banks of a volcano
or welding a crossbeam
miles above the street.
Nor is it like
erecting a dreamhouse.
Most days, it is more
like splicing a phone line,
or hanging a door
on a linen closet.
Afterall, we live
in a world of toiling,
sweeping the dust
from the steps,
only to find them
wanting once more.
Wiping the gray mud
from our boots, then
walking out into the
field again at morning.
I have never
invited these poems, yet
they keep on arriving
one by one, shaking
from their shoulders
as they emerge from
the dark beyond my door.
I suppose I am grateful
that they did not
rob my house
or steal my children
Writing a poem
is not like
rising at first light
to cook for an army,
but more like
waking at ten on Sunday
to prepare an omelet
for someone you really love,
or teaching a small child
to lace up a shoe.
It is the dancers I pity,
who must aspire
to leap and spin, and
the painters who must
live with the burn of
turpentine in their veins.
What of the man
near the park, who stands
on the best days and the worst
turning chestnuts over tiny coals.
Or the waitress
who must always
be concerned with
what I want to drink.
Writing a poem is not
like any of that, I think.
But enough, the rain
is ferocious tonight,
So much that I fear
the hills will be washed away,
And if I am not mistaken,
there may be someone
—Daniel Thomas Moran (2002)
The hack of putting pen to paper
in order to park a record of existence
is a screwball comedy.
It’s a nuisance and charms me.
A happy red blister on the thumb of my face.
I mean it’s an instance,
like saying “I was here.” Or more at
“I am here.” No probably less at that.
The crack of writing is always an act.
“I write less words than I hues to.”
Always the yellow road is less cold
with a bullet in my ink.
My poems are pretty good
when I have a nice transmission.
I drive through the crack like a distance,
scribbling little bruises into the median.
Tiny little ears of ink settle upon each tissue of flimflam
until there’s a whole book of em.
I hack in order to park
on an instant. Sometimes even parallel,
which is great fun
and can often result in a haxident.
—Del Ray Cross
published in his book Lub Luffly (2006, Pressed Wafer)
Firing Squad Or Peanut Butter
They’re just words, after all,
ink pressed into pulp,
or air spat from split lips.
So why concern yourself
with cunt or radish, their difference
Tricycle or grenade, does it matter
which word a child plays with?
Rape, lump, castrate, flay,
lynch, malignant, gouge, extinct
harmless as slugs
or as nuclear fission.
Previously published by West Branch
in a picture of a breast
taken by smashing the tissue
onto cold, marked glass
and shooting it through
(take a small breath and hold)
with penetrating poison light-
may be found something significant.
—Mary Buchinger Bodwell
Joining the Din
in restaurants, as in life
you walk in and it's all
-the stories each
at some point
turning on a word
several now reaching
that final place of ah hah
others just extending
the first toe of complication
shown to your seat
sometimes, like tonight
you have the table near the kitchen
so it's pots banging too
and foreign curses
next to the usual
clink of wine glasses
rising and falling among
the sibilants and stops
from tables and tables
of curled tongues
and one has to think
what is it I can add
what shape of word to start
here in this place, with this person
to meet the tenor so varied
strike that note of seriousness, of whim
in this noise of words
to which we each bring
our past store of stories
our old rambling questions
where now how to begin.
—Mary Buchinger Bodwell
originally appeared in Buffalo Carp
The Poem from the Poem: Ars Poetica II
Mountains into further mountains, where you will turn your attention soon.
In the antique words or the words for antiques.
And mountains instead of real mountains.
Stay with me here.
Into the careful edge.
And the sleeping roses.
Words into the crossing of the mountains.
Into pictures in the distance.
To lose your sobriety.
Our broken and useless bodies.
Mountains as the name for that place.
The River of Poems, or True Black.
Into an alphabet of closures.
Who could help but love the mountains.
Mountains into working these mountains.
Mountains into an affair with the wife of a former aide, into get this party started, these words
from the words when you get home into pockets of these words.
When you get to the other side, into your head like a stream on those mountains.
Three more animals.
Infinity more animals.
And what I had to say, into every page, the alphabet of mirrors.
On that bridge surrounded by pigeons.
The yellow angel fish hiding behind the yellow rock.
The speaking bridge against the words.
Was it called the name or singing the name?
And the mountains into a conversation where I’m still waiting.
Who decided on a series of questions over the speaking words, these mountains into some kind
of future where I think I’ve lost my way.
Poems we’ve named These Little People.
Poems to help you sleep.
Only Lovers & Believers, Please: Ars Poetica I
Clearing by this afternoon, and I know you just want
to have a good time. OK, I’ll try
to work with that. Out here in the field, then, with this frontier
we carry around, there’s no difficulty.
It can all be explained:
We’re here in the scrub with our broken hearts
and the insects, and we’re looking for Elvis. Saying
Here’s Elvis, or whatever . . .
Please notify us if you’ve seen him.
And we’re not at all close to completing this thought,
you know, with the bugs and other old tricks.
Rain, even. That we hope for. In the dogwoods.
With only lovers and believers, please.
Understand, we’re not under great stress.
And this is only the beginning; the movement could grow.
It’s all about capturing the subject’s personality and
energy. Over by the dogwoods, as
the sun came out, that might’ve been Elvis
there. But differently. As we’re all
Going around in the great surround.
Fergus, the poet, lone in his cell,
hunched over his little deal table, intent
on creating his song, what he alone knew.
At one horny hand stood Seamus, the skull,
with quills in his noseholes, watching as ink
blotches and grace notes pied parchment sheets.
Fergus’ huck robe was stiff with the reek
of dried-up excretions—nosedrips and sweat—
old pain and raptures from stanzas long past.
A bright bone-white sunglare came through the window slit;
fumes of high-holiness rose to the rafters‹
gathered and hung in the cold upper air.
He and the sun considered the vapors,
watched color and form curl and float through the gloom.
Billows and shapes swirled bright in the moment,
floating above them, with soft feathered edges:
roses and raspberries, cherries and grapes,
rubies, geraniums, scarlet balloons.
Round luscious girleens, golden-haired, laughing;
tumbled in cartwheels, flushed with delight;
floating around him, pink and inviting.
round luscious girleens, roses, geraniums,
loose and delirious, cherries, tomatoes;
luscious round bottoms and rosy round breasts;
trilling mad music, enfolding him sweetly;
vaulting and springing and singing and shrill‹
laughing and singing and louder — and shrieks.
Blotches and scribbles of bright blood on sweet flesh;
pink girleens pinned in the dark thorny thickets
sprouting from sleeves of smelly brown huck.
for one timeless moment the cell soared and hung there;
eyes of cold flint scattered nacreous sparks.
Then something shuddered, the dripping pen fell.
Seamus the skull, through a thicket of quills,
watched Fergus, the flame, stir and squirm on his stool,
shift pages, sigh gently, and turn to his song.
Fergus picked up his quill; bent over his page.
The truth of cold truth pervaded the cell.
A cooling sun flickered, faded, went out.
Note: Alan Watts called the orgasm "the sneeze in the loins."
Also note: One can encourage a slow-developing sneeze by staring into bright
Poetry is the mysterious associate
I introduce to a few
friends and acquaintances.
Poetry wears an ascot to hide
the throat hole, the source of the song
since the operation.
Poetry is the enigmatic emissary,
Poetry is my comforter,
wrapping a motley mantle
about my swiveling ears.
Poetry is my lover —
mine only —
though nothing is ever declared.
Poetry is my silent advisor,
pointing with trembling excitement
to the flowering moon,
to the green streaks in old granite.
Poetry is my inscrutable opponent
putting tigers in my path,
disturbing my earthly devotions.
Poetry is a courier of insight
the journey often oblique,
the message artful in its simplicity.
Poetry delivers its truth
just as the oracle does,
long after I have passed by.
13 WAYS (more or less)
After Wallace Stevens
The poet seeks the desert
for its rare oasis;
seeks the company
of the bushman
for his water knowledge.
The poet’s soul
is an old, slow camera.
is a liver-shaped organ;
The poet’s song
is a song-shaped essence.
The planet implodes at zero hour;
The poet’s eyes close — open.
The poet, like the bishop,
Is a courier of insight
Always moving obliquely
On the road to Damascus,
the wrathful believer
meets the poet
and becomes him.
Reaching into the wretch’s gut,
the poet pulls out rubies.
A saint and a scoundrel are one;
a saint and a scoundrel and a poet
In the bog’s brown dark,
the poet sees a thousand colors.
The poet is a company of actors
all in one costume.
The poet, like truth,
is a vagrant entity —
a mutable subject.
The sage rides by,
whipping his camel;
the poet savors the attendant stinks.
The poet approaches me
with my face in his eyes.
The guests are assembled
in the library;
only the poet
knows who done it.
at a vacant sky,
the poet points to the bird —
marvels at its subtle markings.
All other options exhausted,
the poet releases
a shrapnel of songbirds.
Dutch Hunger winter 1944
“Of course I didn't realize that because of my psychiatric illnesses, I would never experience "the translucence of first spring."
By nine o’clock, walking against a Holland sky, reciting poems:
Iron fixed things.
Lord make me a magazine centerfold of a girl guide not the child on the March of Dimes Poster.
But God doesn’t listen to us:
By nine o-clock
Bone defined things.
on our faces
Fasten Ruined cities the most photogenic
Icon of war’s pity.
Lost railroads, factories, schools, temples, city halls. All.