A Fire Was In My Head

Gift of God Blues
18 June 2011, 5:46 pm
Filed under: New Poetry

Gift of God Blues

Music is a gift, babe,
yeah music is a gift of God.
Music is a gift, babe,
oh yeah music is a gift of God.
And more music from your ruby lips,
well, babe, I think I’d rather not.

Beauty is a gift, babe,
yeah beauty is a gift of God.
Oh beauty is a gift, babe,
yeah it’s a precious gift of God.
Oh and all you got of beauty, babe,
is just those shiny things I bought (that you wear everyday).

Love is a gift, babe,
love is the gift of God.
Love is the gift, baby,
you know love’s the greatest gift of God.
And the love you showed me, babe,
it’s the gift I wish I never got.

Amen God.

Keep on giving.

Just spread it round the flock.


Kept Promises
23 August 2009, 2:32 pm
Filed under: New Poetry

Kept Promises

Ghastly crackles down below the wheels
sliding up the gravel drive to the old house—
the engine gives a little shake.
Wrapped as if in snow by darkness
and cool nebulae of dew
I draw no more form
than these pines I think,
the weeds and the azaleas looming,
mountains many miles north,
all of this I’ve ever known.
This night does not invite a sleep:
I have come in his car to his place
to read his books with his face.

A Poem from California
17 April 2009, 1:58 pm
Filed under: New Poetry | Tags: , , , ,

The title of this poem does not refer in any way to the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, save that I read that book recently and found the phrase apt. I wrote it in direct sunlight on yellow paper, the sun being the measure of all things in California, the ultimate force of that place. Or, rather, the sun was part of the reason and the circumstances at the poem’s conception. The other part is the person about whom it is most nearly written–I will never claim not to distort partially even the purest feelings and qualities in the translation from life to verse, so no real people will ever appear in my poetry–and to whom I have dedicated it.

Remains of the Day

for Kristen

You freckle in the light
with the surface of all plain things.
The swimming pool shimmers.
I puzzle under an open sun,
comb the freckles,
big, brown thumbs, prickles
of sun come up
to the surface to shimmer,
breathe in the light.
I puzzle of a night: they remember,
breathing in the dark,
wordless as hums,
shineless, shuffling buckles.
You and I know what
sun did or did not.

Trainyard in Morning
6 March 2009, 9:41 am
Filed under: New Poetry

It is possible to start at the end of the poem, then discover a beginning, then pencil in the in-between.  I wrote this piece in felt-tip and ballpoint around the edges of the front and back covers of CityPaper, the one with the cover story “Olney the Lonely.”

Trainyard in Morning

A hundred dummy cans adorning
the trainyard
in the morning
after a storm hit it hard.

The traders need to trade
in ballast
they have weighed.
It lost a layer of dust

last night and sits
clean in the mud. Any crow
who wants to gets
to come to the cargo

and drink
from puddles and make the rain
look more like ink.
We wait to load the train,

one crow and I,
the one who came
yesterday to take a drink and fly
in the storm. It drenched him lame

enough to keep
him close
to the puddles. Did he sleep
there as the puddles rose?

It rained all
night. He and I wait
for a train to haul
a hundred leaden boxes. It’s late.

To pass
the time I loop a memory
two hours old: just as
I arrived to see


a waste awash
in sunlight, the crow cooed
like one who, gaining ash,
forgets the wood.

11 February 2009, 1:28 pm
Filed under: New Poetry | Tags: , , , , ,


Coltrane slips from his speakers,
soft, to the trolley-pocked streets
like a blue moonlight bath,
and just-so his passage succumbs to
Her milky breath splatters the stark
silhouettes of the city:
black figures cast against walls housing
houses, the nuclear family commercials
colored by schoolchildren. Hearing,
his muscles are tensing.
She wrings him all over,
the saxophone twisting
the sax and the sex and the sweetness of sweat
in her bed.  The salt of the salt of the earth,
bodies slick with bodies’ work:
the building of bedrooms
where bodies will come to and come
from.  The music immures him, his rhapsody
mounting, careening, compelled
by the woman, her song, and her name, and her soul, and the sound of
Her brown hips
he’s helpless
to climax.

A couple exhales in his wake—not unworried—unheard.

An Idea
10 February 2009, 2:07 pm
Filed under: New Poetry | Tags: , ,

An Idea


that bass
Cut it kid.
Saw it in half.
No one’s watching.
Cept for little old me.

Let’s you and me
and that spruce upright
hop a trolley.
We’ll go station to station.

I can throw my hat on the ground.

The moon, and Kansas City,
too. We’ll do it all.
Everywhere we go we’ll be
some people.
The people
will throw money
at you, piper, and me–right into this hat
without even
knowing our names,

just like I don’t know your name.
I’m ready.
You just got to
get down off that stage
and keep cuttin it
the way you do.


Fellow a Belt
24 December 2008, 10:41 am
Filed under: New Poetry

Lists can be useful.  In the same way that the human brain tends to establish a correlation, usually narrative, in a series of images (the basic principle behind motion pictures) so it will contextualize words in terms of the other words around it.  Secondary meanings of a few words in my new poem below, then, brim more visibly because I have placed them in a series.  In the coming days, we will see what else I can list.

Fellow a Belt

Look down at my waist
is also to give a fellow a belt
across the rump
so’re throttle rack cream
skewer here reflected
my body each hair and curv
e the tribute
to diversity
of violence a form the image of itself
disfigured like what rules
are meant to be              coruscating
too words beyond
the mere characters measuring
so high or wide or spaced
such and such a distance
coruscant aglimmer
past the edges with consequence and use
produced by bodies they too
are tribute even those apparently
perpendicular or skew to violence
like “perpendicular” or “skew”
or “cherub” whose innocence
of form somehow must have been regulated–