10 November 2015

she might be someone i loved once,/or the other me i sense now


I fall in love with that one
glimpse of her from behind,
something about the bend of her arm,
the tilt of her head now, listening,
or simply the weight and sheen of her hair,
hoping sooner or later she may turn,
that she might be someone I loved once,
or the other me I sense now
standing beside me may have loved.

"Sometimes” by Dan Gerber from A Primer on Parallel Lives. © Copper Canyon Press, 2007.

09 November 2015

There were times my life and I made jokes together.

My Life Was the Size of My Life

by Jane Hirshfield

My life was the size of my life.
Its rooms were room-sized,
its soul was the size of a soul.
In its background, mitochondria hummed,
above it sun, clouds, snow,
the transit of stars and planets.
It rode elevators, bullet trains,
various airplanes, a donkey.
It wore socks, shirts, its own ears and nose.
It ate, it slept, it opened
and closed its hands, its windows.
Others, I know, had lives larger.
Others, I know, had lives shorter.
The depth of lives, too, is different.
There were times my life and I made jokes together.
There were times we made bread.
Once, I grew moody and distant.
I told my life I would like some time,
I would like to try seeing others.
In a week, my empty suitcase and I returned.
I was hungry, then, and my life,
my life, too, was hungry, we could not keep
our hands off               our clothes on
our tongues from

"My Life Was the Size of My Life” by Jane Hirshfield from The Beauty. © Knopf, 2015.

i drink because i'm lonesome and i'm lonesome 'cause i drink

[Verse 1]
There’s a bottle on the dresser by your ring
And it’s empty so right now I don’t feel a thing
And I’ll be hurting when I wake up on the floor
But I’ll be over it by noon
That’s the difference between whiskey and youm
Come tomorrow, I can walk in any store
It ain’t a problem, they’ll always sell me more

But your forgiveness
Well, that’s something I can’t buy

There ain’t a thing that I can do
That’s the difference between whiskey and you

One’s the devil, one keeps driving me insane
At times I wonder if they ain’t both the same
But one’s a liar that helps to hide me from my pain
And one’s the long gone bitter truth
That’s the difference between whiskey and you

[Verse 2]
I’ve got a problem but it ain’t like what you think
I drink because I’m lonesome and I’m lonesome ‘cause I drink
But if I don’t break down and bring it on myself
It’ll hit out of the blue
That’s the difference between whiskey and you

26 October 2015

I am unable/ to understand the forms of my vanity

To the Harbormaster

I wanted to be sure to reach you; 
though my ship was on the way it got caught   
in some moorings. I am always tying up   
and then deciding to depart. In storms and   
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide   
around my fathomless arms, I am unable   
to understand the forms of my vanity   
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder   
in my hand and the sun sinking. To   
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage   
of my will. The terrible channels where   
the wind drives me against the brown lips   
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet   
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and   
if it sinks, it may well be in answer   
to the reasoning of the eternal voices, 
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.
Frank O’Hara, “To the Harbormaster” from Meditations in an Emergency. Copyright © 1957 by Frank O’Hara. 

1999 Cat Power. poor old man likes sad songs.

07 September 2015

apart from the things i touched, nothin got broken that much

mermaids. and i'll be here soon

get yourself and bring her here fix yourself up in the mirror we'll fix ourselves another beer and you know we'll be here soon.

your hand in mine stills the thunder

The old man is so very fond of the second track--original by Woody Guthrie

I Ain't Got No Home

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

I ain't got no home, I'm just a-roamin' 'round,
Just a wandrin' worker, I go from town to town.
And the police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore. 
My brothers and my sisters are stranded on this road,
A hot and dusty road that a million feet have trod;
Rich man took my home and drove me from my door
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore. 
Was a-farmin' on the shares, and always I was poor;
My crops I lay into the banker's store.
My wife took down and died upon the cabin floor,
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore.
I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been working, mister, since the day I was born
Now I worry all the time like I never did before
'Cause I ain't got no home in this world anymore 
Now as I look around, it's mighty plain to see
This world is such a great and a funny place to be;
Oh, the gamblin' man is rich an' the workin' man is poor,
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore.

feel one hundred years old

Stolen Car

I met a little girl and I settled down
In a little house out on the edge of town
We got married, and swore we'd never part
Then little by little we drifted from each other's hearts

At first I thought it was just restlessness
That would fade as time went by and our love grew deep
In the end it was something more I guess
That tore us apart and made us weep

And I'm driving a stolen car
Down on Eldridge Avenue
Each night I wait to get caught
But I never do

She asked if I remembered the letters I wrote
When our love was young and bold
She said last night she read those letters
And they made her feel one hundred years old

And I'm driving a stolen car
On a pitch black night
And I'm telling myself I'm gonna be alright
But I ride by night and I travel in fear
That in this darkness I will disappear

Bruce Springsteen

buckets of rain. "everything about you is bringin' me misery"

12 August 2015

vacant parking lots across the street

Red ribbons hanging up 
Tennessee Square 
Old people laughing and singing 
And dancing down there
I'd like to join them
I got no money to spare
So I sit here and watch from the porch
Drinking whiskey in granddaddy's chair
Ferris wheel lights look like pictures
I'd seen in a book somewhere
Vacant parking lots across the street
Remind me I'm going nowhere
I'd like to join them
I got no money to spare
So I sit here and watch from the porch
Drinking whiskey in granddaddy's chair
It's difficult to go on
Knowing you're out there somwhere
Vacant parking lots across the street
Remind me I'm going nowhere

05 August 2015

he showed his vacation to his camera

The Vacation

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

"The Vacation” by Wendell Berry from New Collected Poems. © Counterpoint Press, 2012.

13 May 2015

scribble sunlight in the margins

a remix for remembrance


For my students

This is for the boys whose bedrooms are in the basement,
who press creases into jeans, who carve their names in pavement,
the girls whose names are ancient, ancestry is sacred,
the Aztec and the Mayan gods abuela used to pray with

This is for the dangerous words hiding in the pages
of composition notes, holy books, and Sanskrit
This is for the patients who wait for medication,
for the mothers microwaving beans and rice at day’s end

This is for the marching bands and girls at quinceañeras,
the skaters and the writers whose moms are eloteras,
laughing “Cops don’t scare us, we sag so elders fear us
We will rewrite our textbooks in our own language if you dare us”

This is for the Sarahs, the Angelicas, and Shawns,
the Beatrices, Paolas, Danielas, and the dawns
we scribble sunlight in the margins of horizons with our songs,
for all the voices tangled with the silence on our tongues

Rivals in the parks, fireworks at dark,
tired shirts that sweat your scent on hangers in the closet
For the boys who fix the faucet while their sister fixes coffee
’cause mommy had to leave for work at 6 AM and laundry
isn’t folded yet: you don’t have to hold your breath

You don’t have to behave: stage your own rebellion,
paint canvases with rage and religion and prayers for pilgrims
sleeping in the train cars at the border and their children
Filibust the Senate and bust markers on the Pink Line,
stain the prosecution’s case and force the judge to resign,
force the crowd the rewind the lyrics you invented

Speak away the limits to heights of your existence
Be a witness, be a record, be a testament, a triumph
Set your poems flying in the glitter of the planets
Feed open mouths with truth, the truth is we are famished
The Universe is starving for the symphonies you play
Clarinets and thunder and the syllables you say
are the instruments: you are infinite. Stretch your hands to heaven
Let your throat throttle the rhythms of all your fallen brethren
Your legacy is present, your history is now
You are the tenth degree of sound
You are the nephews of the sky
You are the bass line and the hi-hat and the snare drum and the cry
of red Septembers. You’re the architects of winter
You are the builders of the roads that you’re told you don’t
      remember          You are
      the builders of the roads
      that you’re told
      you don’t remember       You are the builders
           of the roads that you’re told you don’t

Cast poems in the river and tell them you remember
Skate City Hall to splinters and tell them you remember
Send diamonds to your islands and tell them you remember
Find your God inside your mirror and tell Her you remember

Source: Poetry (April 2015).

05 May 2015

All has been consecrated.
The creatures in the forest know this,
The earth does, the seas do, the clouds know
as does the heart
full of love.
Strange a priest would rob us of this knowledge
and then empower himself with the ability
to make holy
what already was.
St. Catherine of Sienna (14th Century)

missing her this mother's day but always my mother's son.

Your Clothes

Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation.
Of course they are artifacts.

Even if my sister and I should wear some,
or if we give others away,

they will always be your clothes without you,
as we will always be your daughters without you.

by Judith Kroll
Source: Poetry (March 2000).

03 May 2015

bruce dern in "Nebraska"

not sure about the rest of the cast, but brother dern is amazing.

01 May 2015

disappearing. wish i had a name for feeling nothing. ("The Blues Can't Even Find Me" by John Hiatt)


World is closin' in on me
Don't know what to do
Can't see the big picture anymore
If there's even one to view

Wife keeps pushin' buttons
Spend all day starin' at a little screen
I'm feelin' invisible
The blues can't even find me

Wish I had a name for feelin' nothin'
Wish I still had my old address
Where anyone could come on over
And just put me in a mess

Now I'm tellin' everybody
When we'll be takin' our next breath
Blues can't even find me
Like we never even met

She cried all the way to Memphis
With the kids in back
And only me to talk it out with
Used to be like that

Now there's fifty people in the car
And the kids are grown
And I've heard her side fifty times
Talkin' on her cell phone

Now we're just so lonely
And there's no turnin' back
It's virtually impossible
But I can live with that

I wouldn't want in on this train wreck
Wouldn't wanna be on this last date
Now the blues can't even find me
All I know to do is wait

Now the blues can't even find me
All I know to do is wait

Holden Caulfield:

"Anyway, I kept walking and walking up Fifth Avenue, without any tie on or anything. Then all of a sudden, something very spooky started happening. Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street. I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me again. Boy, did it scare me. You can't imagine. I started sweating like a bastard – my whole shirt and underwear and everything. Then I started doing something else. Every time I'd get to the end of a block I'd make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I'd say to him, "Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Please, Allie." And then when I'd reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I'd thank him. Then it would start all over again as soon as I got to the next corner. But I kept going and all. I was sort of afraid to stop, I think – I don't remember, to tell you the truth. I know I didn't stop till I was way up in the Sixties, past the zoo and all. Then I sat down on this bench. I could hardly get my breath, and I was still sweating like a bastard. I sat there, I guess, for about an hour."

28 April 2015

On the day that you wake up under some yellow curtains with a smile on your face

I Wanted to Make Myself like the Ravine


I wanted to make myself like the ravine
so that all good things
would flow into me.

Because the ravine is lowly,
it receives an abundance.

This sounds wonderful
to everyone
who suffers from lacking,
but consider, too, that a ravine
keeps nothing out:

in flows a peach
with only one bite taken out of it,
but in flows, too,
the body of a stiff mouse
half cooked by the heat of the stove
it was toughening under.

I have an easygoing way about me.
I’ve been an inviting host —
meaning to, not meaning to.
Oops — he’s approaching with his tongue
already out
and moving.

Analyze the risks
of becoming a ravine.

Compare those with the risks
of becoming a well
with a well-bolted lid.

Which I’d prefer
depends largely on which kinds
of animals were inside me
when the lid went on
and how likely they’d be
to enjoy the water,
vs. drown, freeze, or starve.

The lesson: close yourself off
at exactly the right time.

On the day that you wake up
under some yellow curtains
with a smile on your face,

lock the door.
Live out your days
untroubled like that.

Source: Poetry (December 2014).