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A Poet's Life:

Your head, eyes closed,
on one leg, notebook on the other--
lightly, my pen.


The cat wants to be scratched
more than the poem
wants to be written.


On the toilet, trying
to write poems....I keep
picking hair off the floor.


Reading of brave men
On horseback, I ride
The toilet.


I have no children.
Here, read some of my poems,
and don't hurt yourself.


My hand
writing
as in an animated cartoon.

The sort of odd detached view one gets sometimes of oneself.


A mirror oddly placed
across the bathroom floor: See
the bearded poet shit.


Back porch; can't see the woods
in the bulb's glare. With it off,
can't see to write.


Chuang Tse flutters past
my bench, dreaming I thought him
a butterfly.

Refers to a story the Taoist writer told of dreaming he was a butterfly with such reality that when he awoke, he wasn't sure if he was Chuang Tse who had dreamed of being a butterfly or if he was a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tse.


Each page I fill
lightens one of my burdens
and adds to another.


"Are you done?" No --
there's still one frilly, rust-tipped leaf
on the plate to see.


Checking my pocket...
Where are my pens?
I feel naked.


Two people come up
to say they love my poems. (I
still don't like parties.)


From that window
typing sounds. Who will read it?
Be moved? Me? You?


This alien hand
forms words. The pronouns
catch at me.

Sometimes as I write, I drift away a bit and see that alien hand (mine) forming letters, but like most beings, I'm a sucker for pronouns, so when the hand writes "I" (for example), I tend to become I again. Pronouns are little language hooks that attach us to identities.


From mirror's beveled edge
across my notebook
a rainbow.


A poet reads.
Behind him the wall,
busy with bricks.

And in front of him most of the ears have walls.


Grand piano
covered with books FOR SALE -
poetry reading.


Listening to an old poet,
young poet leans forward
straining the leash.

He's inspired? Or eager to get his chance to read?


Danish butter cookies,
apple juice, wine, chat,
more poets.

Typical poetry-reading refreshments during the break.


The poet reads.
Outside a dog howls.
Mutual critics.


The sky's out there.
I'm in a box, writing
about it.

The "box" is a room in a house.


Issa, we still have
holes in our roofs, but seldom
a star showing through.

Issa's way of complaining about the holes in his roof was to write haiku about admiring the stars through the holes. (He is one of the classic Haiku poets.)


After showering
I write. Hair drips blue
splotches on the page.


Where wet hair dripped
on the page, I can read
the other side backwards.


Out of the rain -
a museum - staring at me, is it...
Yes, Rembrandt, hello.


Rembrandt's face
meets my gaze reluctantly,
tries not to worry.

This and the preceding haiku were written in the L.A. Art Museum (near the tar pits), which has one or two of Rembrandt's self-portraits. It was a surprise to find him looking at me, alert and a bit worried - the worry being that slight seriousness that is hard to avoid in a self-portrait, as the painter peers at his reflection, trying to get the portrait right.


Hals, Breughel, but no
Vermeer, so I'll go outside
to find daylight.

No one does daylight like Vermeer. In ancient Greek times, his death would have been blamed on Apollo's jealousy.


Poetry reading.
The phone rings. Elsewhere others
speak other words.


Coffeehouse poetry --
cut by the break-squealing shriek
of steamed milk.

Those espresso machines really shriek.


My days spent in chatter,
in my poems I pretend
I was silent.

These are terse poems, haiku. They let me masquerade as a man of few words and take on some of that Oriental silent inscrutability, yeah, sure. Dream on, poet.


All shadows have
the same color until
you paint them.

To my wife, Pam, whose shadows have more colors than most people's sunlight.


Listening
to other people's poems
or to the breathing in the room.


Hello, reader! This
is day twenty of my juice fast...
have another poem?


He reads. I am not amused.
The others are amused.
Does this mean war?

Odd how differences in taste take on bloated importance at times. If all those around me are applauding a poem I find silly or dull, I feel like a spy behind enemy lines amid a cheering crowd.


Episcopal Church:
Poets read, like the dead
burying the dead.

This was a poetry reading in a Church in Laguna Beach, CA. The poets were mostly solemn chanters.


I read a long poem...
"That was good, Honey," she sighs
when I wake her.


Café table -- just me,
no newspaper, no excuse
for not writing.


Now I live in
a house in the suburbs, but
still recall a few words.

My idea of "poet" doesn't mesh with my idea of "suburb", but here I am, in a suburb and still seem to be me.


Intermission.
I try to think of a poem before
the lights go out.

I had my notebook with me, so when the lights came on for intermission, I tried to complete a poem before they went off for the 2nd act.


Wanting to sleep,
you toss me this notebook, saying,
"Write!" I chew my bone.


Lying in bed, writing,
I doze off, but don't dream --
how does one dream?

Dreaming, so easy to do when one is doing it, so hard to do when one is not.


Correcting typos
in my book...these words aren't
magic. What is?

That hard morning-after look at one's great poetry that, for some reason, now refuses to rise up off the page.


Bad-Girl poet chants
raw sex stuff (clap clap), then chirps
a good girl's "THN kyu!"


Today I read some poems
to some people. This will
change everything.

Or so every poet dreams.


Can I find something to say
before the hand I lean on
falls asleep?


Found Poem

Don't read that!
You don't know whose
mind it's been in!

A "found poem" is a poem that the poet "finds", that is, takes verbatim, from some non-poetic verbiage - for example, a paragraph in a newspaper article or a street sign or an instruction manual. Here it means a poem that a reader finds, here or wherever - in other words, ANY poem.


People read long poems.
Through the glass doors, passing cars
get interesting.


One moon slips beneath
the clouds, out pops another.
We're not fooled.


I hate to waste paper,
but sometimes poems don't end
right where the page ends.


As my wife reads my
poems, I put my arm around
her shoulders, cheating.

It's cheating because the poem is supposed to speak for itself, or maybe because I'm exploiting the poem to get something started. Though it's my own poem - I wrote it - it's on its own now, and I'm trying to upstage it or alloy it. Or improve upon it?


Pray for me, reader;
after all, I've been praying
for readers long enough.


Spring

Summer

Autumn

Winter

Rain

Wind

Night

Morning

Dusk

Walking

Places

Children

Lovers

Loss and Loneliness and aloneness

Characters

Old Age

Music

A Poet's Life

Cats

Dogs

Beasts

Birds

Insects

Plants

Trees

Telephones and TVs

Things

Mankind