Poem-a-Day for 2006
Poem-a-day ran for nearly 2 months 2006 (includes the last
mailing, 23 Feb, which included a lot more poems than usual)
-- before I left for extensive study. Here are the poems sent
out in 2006, but never put on the website:
Downstairs she's saying
"No...no...NO!" What's that
cat doing now!
in her mouth! Don't let her in!"
I want to write about something else,
but you are such a lovely cat!
Farewell, farewell, two-thousand-five;
And look at us we're still alive!
We're here! We're here! (You DID arrive?)
I guess we didn't drink and drive.
It's way too soon to wax prolix
About our new two-thousand-six
Yet poets can we have our tricks,
So Bards, prepare to wield your Bics!
A study of data obtained
from black boxes recovered
after fatal plane wrecks
has revealed that among the final
thoughts of each person killed was:
"O no! I just KNEW this would happen!"
To fight the growing pollution of dreams,
we must establish stricter standards
for nocturnal emissions.
[Note: Takes off on a song some of you may not remember that
features the words "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?"
Clinton, asked that question, replied that that depends on
what "is" is.]
Our congressmen are doing their best
to combat AIDS by ensuring the trustworthiness
of condoms with frequent
strapped in institutional beds:
Safety belts for bumpy dreams?
Not everyone loses from war:
Many a fine lady walks
in booty with the knight.
[Note: This poem is simply a take-off on the opening of one
of Lord Byron's best known poems: "She walks in beauty
with the night."]
With the newly crowned molars,
my teeth don't meet right,
just a fraction of a millimeter off,
but barely room in this wide world
for both me and that fraction.
You moan at my pun,
bold fingers grope for my ribs,
and I'm caught in your ten
Is abortion ever justified?
All the time,
The old pond.
A candidate jumps in.
Sound of splashing.
On a bare branch
sits an old candidate.
[Note: Two nonsense "haiku" that make little sense
unless you know that these are simply classic haiku in which
the word "candidate" has replaced the word "frog"
in the first and "crow" in the second.]
On the sunny step
a furry egg hatches:
Out peeps head of cat.
Plastic is disagreeable stuff:
In our driveway this gray rainy day
the bright blue garbage container
Funny how a poem
(like a house)
comes to life
when a cat
peers out of it.
Youth is poems
entitled "Love" and "Spring" and "Pain"
This poem is untitled,
but when it gets old, out of respect
you may address it as Sir.
He pours his words into the mike, hoping
if he pours in enough, they will overflow
into our ears, then overflow them,
a few drops reaching our hearts,
but the microphone is bottomless.
Bare branches frame
odd bits of sky:
blue stained glass.
Trees are strong, but gentle,
growing so slowly that anything alive
has time to move out of the way.
Why do sperm in their millions
flock to near-certain death? Something
eggs them on.
Experts say life begins
when a little spurt meets a little egg.
That's why there are so many
"All's fair in love and war."
No, the Nuremberg Trials limited war.
Now only obsessed lovers can claim
"I was only following orders."
Switching his head back and forth
as if trying to erase a message
left on the sweat-stained pillow.
Why hasn't she come home?
A Slippery Slope for Eyes
Low cleavage: Two ardent mountaineers
accept the challenge, clamber up,
then slide back down the shadowy slopes,
can't make it back up...must!...can't...
Whew! Lifted to safety just in time
to meet her eyes!
Best not to play with sex
until you've grown up.
And even then
we don't know if it's safe,
since no one has ever
On The Danger of Being There
Sex has always been dangerous.
You might learn more
than you want to know.
You might be known.
When spirit goes naked,
cruelty, alcohol and eye-glazing lust
offer inadequate protecton:
Hard to keep yourself
completely out of it.
Even alone in bed,
like one badly burned by a hot stove,
you may be ambushed
by the tenderness
of your own touch.
A campfire scares
wild things away;
City lights keep the stars
at a safe distance.
Willingly being in approximately
the same place at the same time
involved in similar motions
makes for all the intimacy there is:
Close order drill on a parade ground
creates comrades who will charge
machine guns together. The brief
co-motion of sex leaves strands
of attachment years & hate cannot snap.
Luckily we have bodies to hold us apart
these few inches--if they do...
It's not solipsism,
for the world we share
is one motif threading through
this world I weave,
always coming in on time
like each instrument
to the conductor's lightest
caress of air -
of its own free will,
but charmed to agree
because I am
such a fine fellow.
"I'm happy to say
I think, therefore I am."
Does anyone give a damn?
Hell has philosophy too:
I am, therefore screw you.
And where does God enter into things?
for God is that which,
when it considers it has entered
into things, considers that it is
no longer God, and when it considers
it is thoroughly and irreversibly
in things, considers that there is not
and has never been a God.
And being God,
as it considers,
so it is.
Don't jump to
"NOT Responsible for articles
Lost or Damaged" -
as in "Apple day keeps
te doctor away"?
[Note: The lost articles are the "an" and the "a"
in "An apple a day...". The damaged article is "the"
(missing its "h") in "...keeps the doctor away".
Oddly enough, besides being a silly pun on the word "article",
this poem has a small point to make, but only for those who
keep up with poetic fads. One of these is the idea that poetry
must be very parsimonious with words (for example, the word
"very" would be cut), and that includes cutting
out articles to the point where the poem reads a lot like
a telegram sent by someone short of cash. This is true of
much modern free verse, but also crops up in formal verse,
where the poet sacrifices articles to fit the beat, and even
more among haiku writers, trying to cram stuff into 17 syllables
or fewer. Thus, much poetry should be prefaced by the warning
that begins the above poem.]
So long as there are homeless
we are among
My left brain has eaten
my right brain -
[Note: I wrote this after reading one article too many about
how imagination depends upon the left brain. (What did we
use, I wonder, to imagine these brains?)]
The race is ON!
Which medicine cures the most symptoms?
Stuperin blows away headaches, sore
throat, stuffiness, heartburn and
midlife crisis. But Utoprin does
all that PLUS serves you coffee just
the way you like it AND gives terrific
backrubs! So for total relief of almost
everything, take Utoprin, because
Utoprin is even better than YOU are!
[Note: This was written a around 1994, but still seems relevant.]
"Organic matter"--an oxymoron almost.
This old pond is clotted with stuff
becoming life, life becoming stuff,
hard to say which is more disgusted
by the motley transaction; matter,
I think, muttering "Yuch! Life!"
for life endangers it by reminding it
who it is, this last resort of life,
trying not to be life, not to be
OF life, in hopes of lasting forever
(which, however, only life does)
like a child playing hide and seek,
crouched in the shadows,
chanting to himself silently
"I'm not here! I'm not here!"
in hopes of being invisible,
Giant Cheerios for
All the Pelicans
walk like Grampa.
A pelican sits down
further than you expect,
as if deflating.
Across the bay
Groucho eyebrows rise and fall--
a pelican lifts off.
[Three short takes on pelicans. The last one compares the
up-and-down huge wings (seen from behind and at a distance)
to the up-and-down motion Groucho Marx used to make with his
eye-brows - while bobbing his cigar in his mouth and leering.
The oddest thing is to glance to one side while driving across
a causeway and notice a Pelican flying along side, eyeing
you with his perpetual smile, looking like a feathered pterodactyl.]
Just as the laugh-track assures us
inanity is hilarious, so each day
the newspaper persuades us
"the world" is real.
"Stop mothering me!"
No one says, "Stop fathering me!"
We all know how to mother
but how is fathering done?
This begins early:
Mother is surrounded by coaches -
Doctors, nurses, relatives who tell her
bear down, relax, eat this, drink that;
and when the time comes, her body
tells her exactly how to mother,
while father paces up and down,
an ancient joke, not sure
what to do with himself.
Years later mother says,
"I can't do anything with that child.
You'll have to talk to him"--and father
grits his teeth, hems and tries
to remember what his father
would have done, and remembers
a huge man gritting his teeth
You keep telling me the same jokes;
sometimes I feel I'm at your wit's end.
Just Missing the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame
Among their near hits:
"She Loves You, Yes, Yes, Yes!"
"I Cannot Get Any Satisfaction" and
"Lie, Lady, Lie [Lie across my big brass bed.]"
Note: Since I wrote the above, "WHOM" fans from
the 60s have deluged me with additional information about
this little-known group. It seems their performances were
attended by mobs of politely applauding high-school English
teachers. Occasionally older teachers would swoon to "Now
I ask you confidentially, isn't she sweet?" They usually
opened with a bluesy number called, "It Isn't Necessarily
So." They also did a rousing cover of "I'm Just
a girl who cannot say no". Their career was nearly cut
short when, on a road tour, their VW van skidded into a field
and overturned. However, they all survived to write another
almost-famous song inspired by the accident: "Roll Over,
Note: Thanks for all the additional data you sent me about
"The Whom". Thanks, Jim, for reminding me of the
huge near-hit, "Thomas", and thanks, Luther, for
reminding me of the following:
And who can forget their incredible prolonged drum solo on
"In the Garden of
Eden", or the phenomenal mouth-harp riffs featured in
their classic "I have my
Yes, who could forget "I have my mojo working".
(Actually, that was a later cover of the group's own recording,
very hard to find now, "I have my more-Joseph working.")
I forgot to mention that one reason for their obscurity is
that they were about a century ahead of their time when they,
early on, discarded their guitars and became an all-accordion
It's a feminist masterpiece...I mean
Someone asked me for clarification of my poem about the feminist
"mspiece". I thought you might be interested in
my explanation - especially the second paragraph of it:
"Ms" is the preferred feminist way to address a
woman (instead of "Mrs." or "Miss"). "Master"
is a male term. The female equivalent is "Mistress".
"Mrs." is short for "Mistress". Thus a
feminist Masterpiece must be a Mistresspiece or a Mrs.piece,
but for a feminist, "Mrs." is a no-no, so it must
be a Mspiece.
Similarly, "Men" is not OK as a word for "men
and women" (as in "All men are created equal"),
so feminists prefer "Persons" ("All persons
are created equal"). But "person" contains
"son", a male, so a strict feminist might object
even to "person". It has occurred to me that a strict
feminist might object to "woman" on the same grounds
(it includes "man) and prefer "woperson", but
since that includes "son", a VERY strict feminist
might prefer "woperdaughter" to "woman".
Foreseeing this danger, some feminists change "women"
Way over there -
way over here,
a mere dot -
Lying in bed hanging onto thoughts,
afraid to jump out into sleep lest,
after the slow count, there's no
rip cord to pull or, pulled, no dream
blossoms out to slow the fall.
Self-portraits are troubling:
From the wall, someone peers at you,
saying, "You're not quite right..."
Note: You can get a sense of this by looking at some of the
better-known self-portraits, such as Rembrandt's and Van Goghs.
Rembrandt did about 70 of them over the years. From the painting
(on the wall) it seems the painter peers at us critically
or slightly worried or very intently, and we may take that
personally; in fact, the painter is probably staring at himself
in a mirror and comparing what he sees with the painting or
with how he thinks he should look and maybe feeling critical
of the painting itself or even the reflection in the mirror.)
Babies--such a deal!
You get so much out
for so little put in!
Kids sprint through the sprinkler,
their screams a chill spray.
Weary coach stops a shrill argument,
The mind is a versatile machine:
Feed it wisdom,
and it grinds out prejudice;
from actuality, it stamps out
symbols. Feed it vision and it excretes
passions, from passion extracts
reasons; from beauty a moral,
from ethics shame. The human mind
can process anything we feed it.
No wonder we think we need it.
On my fingernail
a tiny bee...
Where does she think she is?
How cleverly the shadow adjusts
not only to the swing's faint motion,
but to its changing distribution of light
among thousands of helter-skelter grassblades.
(Poetry Reading Repetitive Motion Syndrome):
My hands paralyzed
from polite applause.
[Note: The operative word here is "polite", the
correct adjective for far too much of the applause at poetry
So often have people killed as bugs
what now we see were people,
that I hesitate to squash what now
we see as bugs.
We hate most and try to exterminate
what eats our food, usurps our homes
and spreads our diseases: Each other.
The neighbors hang in their gardens
scented plastic bags that fill up
with Japanese Beetles, clumsy bronzed
little samurai that clamber slowly
over the heap of each other and do not
escape. We hang no bag. They flit
and couple on our shrubs. Some leaves
are now only a threadbare lace of veins,
sketchy plans for leaves, but leaves
are left to us, and anyway most you call
weeds, and the beetles are prettier
and less greedy than bulldozers,
leaving at least the ideas of leaves.
Lord, guide my feet that I step on only
Even through the din of heavy rain
I hear motors, distant hiss of tires
grinding up raindrops.
Trout leap into the air with such
obvious joy that we must catch them.
Fairies have butterfly wings. Angels
have bird wings. If angels don't feed
on fairies, it's probably aversion
What you eat has been killed.
Give more sentience than you take.
I went out on a limb,
played with its toes and scampered back
[Note: If a limb has toes on the "outer" end, there's
more danger for many at the "safe" end, close to
I like the way her skirt ends
almost before her legs begin.
[Note: a hem - of a mini-mini-skirt.]
Poe liked his women delicate--
He couldn't stomach crudeness.
He craved a pale and chilly mate--
A touch sepulchritudinous.
Do You Floss After?
"Our love-making was like brushing
my teeth." Yes! Sleep-glazed eyes
mirroring eyes as bristle after stiff
pliant bristle caresses the hot pink
gums, squeezing soft sweet stuff into
each crevice, rubbing back and forth
over the firm white teeth, penetrating
to the very roots, above, against,
behind, between, below, stroking faster,
faster!--rictus of spread lips shaking
with the thrust of it, breath tingling
with chlorophyl--O God! Don't stop! O
God! It's so CLEAN! Ahhhhhhh!
[Note: Someone used that comparison (lovemaking being like
brushing teeth) to suggest the dullness of routine deadening
sex. I turned it around, by imagining passionate toothbrushing.]
And Adam knew Eve,
and that was the party
of the first parts.
Shall we stay up for Koppel late
or turn it off and copulate?
Had the world but WHEE! enough & time...
[Note: A take-off on the start of Andrew Marvell's 17th Century
masterpiece, "To His Coy Mistress": "Had we
but world enough and time...".]
Ideally when I say "I love you"
it thereby and by no other means
becomes as true as ever that statement
has been true. This would, of course,
apply as well to "I hate you"
or "of course", so it might be more fun
to say "icicles digesting sunlight"
or "a white cat running silently
across dry brown leaves".
I am as unknown as glass or water,
rejecting all light or passing it thru
almost untouched, just slightly bent.
You see in me a distortion of yourself
or you do not see me at all.
Election year: We exercise our right
to choose and find out how flabby
it has grown, how easily exhausted.
Government is how all of us do
what each of us would be
ashamed to do.
"Come this way," says the butler
and marches off stiffly,
looking slightly less ridiculous
because someone follows him.
What makes us most uncomfortable
with human misery is the stupidity:
generation after generation people
playing the same old bloody games,
hatred begetting greater hatred
and no one saying "Enough! We don't
have to play this game!" It's like
having to watch the same stale
horror movie over and over, each time
screaming at the blithe teenager
about to open the grim door: "Don't
go in! Don't go in!"--knowing
she won't hear you.
How many missing in inaction?
Leaking tanks endanger water supply as
fuels enter in where engines fear to go.
From where I sit, I hear traffic.
If I opened the door and yelled,
none would hear me. If anyone heard,
what could I say that would change
my neighbor's life? "Hello, how're ya
doin"? What mania makes me dream
the words I write here change the world?
Most of the world goes to bed hungry,
lacks time and energy to write poems
or read them. We are privileged.
We must write and read WELL.
December 21, 2008