Monday, January 31, 2011

Social Scene

I wrote this quickly about three years ago, and have done no editing. It really shows, but I liked it a little despite its flaws:

Social Scene

We’re dancing that dance again
The steps were planned for us before we even entered the ballroom
Across the shifting sands of social mores
We tango with our eyes and hands
They speak truths that our lips turn into suppressed resistance
Jealousy turns your every move into a tactical one

You’re writing poetry with your knees again
I respond by crossing my arms
Which you interpret as me throwing down distance
When really it is to hold down my heart
Accelerated by a lift of your eyebrow
I am grateful for the coffee that fills our significant pauses
With insignificant phrases like
“This coffee is really terrible”or
“They should invest in a different brand”
You’ve branded your poetry on my fingers
Which cross and uncross in well timed ways

I’m texting you again
As if the game wasn’t complicated enough
Technology re-wrote the rule book
You and I are too shy
We were doomed from the start

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Thought They Were Angels

There were four of them
And I thought they were angels
After the trumpets they sang Allelujah
Jesu Jesu they sang
Sweetly as only girls of tender years could
And I waited for the Lord to return
I wanted to ask them to stop
I thought they were four angels
They sang Allelujah
Jesu Jesu after the trumpets

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Great Cat Massacre

Grimaulkin you are guilty!
He swung his gavel down
The villagers have gone crazy
Affecting the whole town
Children wept
Aristos slept
And no one told the crown

‘A pox upon you!’ cried the friar
As the cat was bound
‘My poor kitty’ cried the squire
As the cat was drowned
And someone younger
Died of hunger
And no one told the crown

I really like fringe history, the things you don't really learn much about in the textbooks. That's about all I can say in defense.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We were the chosen we stood by the gate
Told immigrant Wessies that they had to wait
Our faith was in Stalin, we believed in the state
And we’d guard Checkpoint Charlie as we’d guard our own fate

And yet we watched Ossies with hearts full of fear
Leap into the chaos we kept far from here
And the young Russian soldier looked on with a sneer
While we killed fellow countrymen getting too near

Yet when the day came we could not understand
Why our fellow Ossies would leave this pure land
Why they ran to the wall and destroyed it by hand
And left us a confused and a leaderless band

We’d given our hearts and we felt let down
And that was the night Dietrich went into town
He’d taken his rifle; He’d made little sound
“A straightforward suicide,” when he was found

But we all knew the message he sent to The State
We gave them our lives and they pawned off our fate
We did what they told us; they told us to wait
Wait as the chosen and stand by the gate.

When I was in East Berlin, I had the privilege of helping with an after school program in Prenzlauerberg, teaching baseball to kids. Of course, since I'm an American I will have some strong attachment to baseball right? Anyway, one of the points that interested me about Prenzlauerberg in general was that it was one of the closest sectors to the Berlin wall. Often they were the guards who "kept West Berliners from coming in." So all of the Prenzlauerbergs were the most committed to the communist party, and when the wall came down they were the most devestated. Thus, the poem above was born.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sargent: Franciscan Monk in the Garden of Gethsemane

And he was here
I dare not breath
I dare not speak
My vow of silence will I keep
In awe of nature and nature's God
Whose son this very earth has trod

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


More from the Cryptid project. This is sort of a personal story of something a friend and I saw when swimming in the Chattanooga river.

The sleekness of you rising mysterious
From shadow-pools your gentle reminder
Not to desecrate this, your haunt in blackness
I’ve gained some respect for the river-gods
I clutch the sweater we carried
Down the great wall of Chattanooga
In this lifetime our bodies shared water-space
And time loomed in like lateness and hallucination
Neither forgot and neither saw the river without you again

I will not be updating for a while. I'm having my wisdom teeth out tomorrow and won't be doing anything. I hope to be back on Monday.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Abstract of a Postmodern Love Poem

The photo of you
Is not you
And Foucault lights his pipe
Ceci n'est pas une pipe
And laughs at my tear
Which is not a tear
But a photo of you

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brophy: Harvest

Under the eyes of an angry God
We stand We fall
We fall We stand
Under the hand of angry man

From a small series of poems I wrote on artwork from the Portland Art Museum. Michael Brophy is a Portland artist and his painting Harvest, for which I wrote this poem, is a moving depiction of deforestation. I tried to find a link and apparently he has a new work out that is more popular, but if you can find it it's worth looking at for a while.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Night Before The First Battle of the Slave Revolt

Subtitle: I fail at writing children's poetry.
Unless you are the sort of person who thinks reading Grimm's fairy tales to kids is a good idea. Not that I'd ever compare myself to the Brothers Grimm. Maybe a really cheesy version. I had fun writing it anyway.

'Twas the night before the first battle of the slave revolt
And all through the camp
Not a sound could be heard
Save the lone watchman’s tramp

The swords had been placed by our sides with great care
In hopes that Saint Sparticus soon would be there
Gaius Claudius Glaber was nestled all snug in his bed
While visions of a consulship danced in his head

And Quintus in his leather balteus and I in my bronze hat
Had just settled down for a pre-sentry duty nap
When from atop Mount Vesuvius there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my mat to see what was the matter

To the outskirts of the encampment I flew in a dash
Peered into the darkness and stood back aghast
The moon shone right out upon the mount’s face
I could tell at a glance something was out of place

For what should appear to my woebegone eyes
But thousands of slaves of immeasurable size.
With a gigantic strong leader all full of such heart
I knew right away that it must be Saint Spart-

More rapid than lions his soldiers they came
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name
"Now Darius! Now Tullius! Now Varius and Max!
On Marcus! On Julius! Show them no pax!

To the base of the volcano which we scaled like a wall
Now surround the camp and destroy them all!"
And just like that time the Barbarians came
And completely destroyed us and put us to shame

So down the sheer rock face his soldiers they flew
Complete with strong weapons and St. Sparticus too!
And in a twinkling I heard in the camp
The sudden cessation of the lone watchman’s tramp

As I drew in my head and was turning around
In my tent St. Sparticus came with a bound
He was dressed all in fur form his head to his foot
And his armor was tarnished by mountain ashes and soot

A gigantic shield he had slung ‘crosst his back
He looked like a lion, eying me for a snack
His eyes how they glittered, his teeth how terrifying
I fell to my knees cause I didn’t feel like dying

His brow was furrowed to a perpetual frown
And he sneered as I cowered upon the ground.
“Fear not” he intoned in a voice quite inspiring,
“And rise from the ground on which you are writhing!”

“For I see by your dress that you are a slave
My army will spare you, though you’re not very brave.”
Those clipped rough shod words, though they wounded my pride
Caused me to laugh because now I wouldn’t die

He spoke no more words and returned to his work
He walked right up to Glabus and murdered the jerk.
And laying his hands on the rest of the Romans
The yelps of surprise outnumbered the groanin’s

He sprang to his horse, to his men gave a call
And they followed him cheering our recent downfall
But I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight
“You’ll never forget the Thracian this night!”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Regrets # 1

Look to your hands
And the skin you stripped
I tried desperately to heal
Your bleeding dreams
But I can’t save you
You’re the brick on my back
Your laughter, your language drowns me
Look to your heart
I have to bury you
And pray for Ezekial
I cannot raise the dead alone
I’m swimming sadly heavenward
And your air bubbles surround me
Like teardrops
I miss you
Look to your hands
Look to your heart

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adjule - People of the Veil

This is part of a new project I've just begun and am very excited about. I'm writing poetry on different cryptids. It began a little under a year ago, when I heard about the mothman, allegedly seen in West Virginia. I wrote several poems in response to the sightings, but more about the West Virginians themselves. I think the myths and legends of an area have a lot to say about the people and their culture, and they've certainly captured my imagination. So, I guess you could say I'm focusing more on why these legends have come to be and who contributes to them.

This particular one is about the Adjule, allegedly seen in Northern Africa. The nomadic Taureg people in particular believe this dog to be a person's spirit come back in the form of a ghost-like dog. The Taureg are muslims, but interestingly the men and not the women wear the veil for modesty.

Talemt is the constellation Ursa Major, but the Taureg call it "She-camel." And a taghazamt is an adobe hut built for a semi-permanent dwelling.

Adjule - People of the Veil

And the sand sleeps
Silent touching our ever moving feet
Trying to find where the waters run
The phantom dog comes
White cool in the evening
Our lives ever in expiration
And the desert creeps
Into our eyes staining our hands
The camel runs
The phantom dog comes
Under Talemt we plod
Seeking water in the white-blue silence
Adjule, Adjule could you be my wife?
Peering under my veil and noting the tears
Streaking my skin as the blue, runs
The phantom dog comes
My taghazamt holds my quarantine self
Unable to feel the sand the sun greets
The heavy tread of the camel’s feet
And the droppings from the camels’ run
The phantom dog comes

Friday, January 7, 2011

Savannah, Georgia Pt. 2

Air full of water, like graves full of bones
Secrets in the names on the old tombstones
Moss drenched branches, love in the night
Who has left you lonely, drowning in your light?
People here were married, babies here were made
Sherman’s march, here did stop, and passed on its way
Our time is short here and short will be our love
The sea-grass breaks the magic if we dare to make a move
The magic of Savannah caught in cobblestones
You’re drowning in the sea-grass with me in your bones

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Pelican Landing

I have been working on a new project I'm really excited about, but realized just now that I hadn't posted anything today. So, I took one of my old (and terrible) love poems from the archives. I actually really really don't like this one, but I was getting desperate so late in the day. The strange thing is, if I didn't know who this was for, I could potentially apply it to a recent issue with a friend...hmmm..

The Pelican Landing

We could pretend
To forget this
But I lack the energy
And you, the courage
You've swept my feelings
Under the proverbial rug
And there's no more room
For my heart
I'm sick of giving
So I'm giving you up
It's up to you
To change my mind
But I'm not pretending

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

After Portland

And I almost learned to love again
We never heard in the midst of heavy sighs
Our own hearts crumbling like sugar
Under heavy rain
I too damaged
And you too obvious
We bespoke each other's insecurites
And dropped each other's hands

Secretly, this is one of my favorites.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Coat of Many Colors

In my dreams I picture famine years and fatted calves
Swallowed whole by your monstrous jealousy
Seeping through my coat of many colors
Seven times my heart will melt but I'll stay
Strong for you and your salvation
Will it surprise you when you find me alive?
I will give you grain of love
For the treasure you stole
I'd hate the end with your face to the ground
But humility may be the only color you have
May I be like Joseph
You sold me for an unhappy union
And in my dreams dance fatted years and famine calves
And the moon and stars have dropped your hands
If it takes twenty years and pain
My coat has many colors of love
And I won't remind you of my dreams.

Monday, January 3, 2011

1. Various and Sundry

Time bespeaks me, Father God
Beside you, rockface melts and rises
And ever You
Yet gracious, time-entering to hold
My hand dirty brittle small
Too dead to raise palmward to You
Send me your angels