"How It Ends" was Vallum Magazine's 'Poem of the Week':
How It Ends
I think of my uncle Aby,
Him bad with women,
felled by domestic spats,
had a stroke and babbled sound.
What’s left to do? Hey, be
turn your sharps to flats,
act like a mangy hound
when she leaves and maybe
by deferral you can spin
a barbarous congrats,
and be by nature crowned.
So this is what I’ll say: “Me
unlettered beast, of bastard kin.
Me grammar not so good.” That’s
why rifts and rows abound.
And: “Me have the rabie.
Me can’t win.
Me upside-down like bats.
Me run into the ground.”
Well, it’s how we may see
the act of deprecation,
last resort of eroticrats
who lose what they have found.
"Diesel Denson at the Podium" has been published in the August 2015 edition of the New English Review:
Diesel Denson at the Podium
Best off-tackle rusher in the history
of the Conference, he’s come to receive
the chronicled prize of the hero
at home in his heavy-traffic medium.
Cat-magic keeps him on his feet
in the midst of gang-tackling anarchy,
keeps him going when all are convinced
the play’s broken and is going nowhere.
The big defensive ends chop at his knees,
linebackers dive for his ankles,
cornerbacks zero in from behind—
still he’s up and running, lugging the ball
like a lump of pig-iron, moving the yardsticks
down the contested field
toward new lines of scrimmage, powering
through the twenty-third book of the Iliad.
Now, approaching the podium
for the token an epic ferocity claims,
taking the game in his stride,
poised in the dignity of performance,
he knows it all comes down to
the consummate art of balance-in-season,
receiving the unfired cauldron with grace.
And the Achaians applaud with reason.
"The Art of Thinking" has been published in the March 2015 edition of The New Criterion:
The Art of Thinking
Chickadees swoop and dart to the feeder,
flit back and forth with beakfuls
of sunflower seeds, oiled and striped.
Cardinals scoop at the safflower.
White-crowned sparrows peck at kernels and hearts.
Finches purple and gold go for millet,
white or red makes no difference.
Even the ground-feeding juncos
rise to the occasion.
Jays park their bulk on tray and perch
gulping hulled peanuts, shouldering the smaller birds aside
except for the white-breasted nuthatch
snatching the blacker grains,
its grip and cling, woodpecker-like.
We make sure to keep the feeder full
so the birds will pay us with visits,
graceful in their flight patterns,
dip and lift, deft in their arcs,
streaking the air with colour,
never going hungry,
never disappointing the admiring gaze
and the confident patience
of the one who waits and watches.
These poems will appear in my forthcoming poetry book, Installations (Signal Editions), to be released Fall 2015.
At the top of the contraption
a weather vane makes some sense
to meet the wind’s high five
except for being frozen
in solid grunge and meld.
Hubcaps and headlamps
serve as quaint nostalgic reminiscences
of better days when the 90-year-old farmer
went tooling about the countryside
with hair enough on his now bald pate
to trail behind like Isadora’s scarf.
A rusted harrow turns no soil up.
Pot lids speak of dinners past.
A German Cross remembers war.
In stolid resignation
the old man rocks on his porch
lighting cig after cig
and contemplates his handiwork:
antlers, scythe blades, motor parts, padlocks,
radio guts, a wall-eyed screen staring blankly back,
rotted planks, notched rotors, washed-out flags,
airstrip windcups, tractor handlebars set too wide akimbo,
grills and horseshoes, struts and bike reflectors—
a stack of decrepit bric-a-brac
slotted like a shim
between memory and bereavement
yet with its own eclectic grandeur and jumbled eloquence,
a towered whirligig
not wholly without meaning
for it signifies that it signifies
the absence of all meaning,
a monument to inconclusive ends, a dogged incoherence.
It stands there like a work of art
with no pretensions to be a work of art,
mixing and mismatching in its proud discordance,
asking only to be noticed,
to have us stop and snap a few
and record for no particular posterity
mounted in the featureless museum
that is a farmer’s field.
A is plump and happy
and full of good tidings,
promising a genial progression.
B lets light dance along its brightwork
but is a little insecure,
never quite sure where it sits on the stave.
C is an inveterate multi-tasker,
gamesome and versatile,
shimmering in lumilectric mango.
D is endlessly receptive,
a whore with a heart of gold
taking pity on the poor and benighted.
E is a loose cannon
on a Spanish galleon
loaded with doubloons.
F stays flatter than gravy on a plate
and leaves a dringle when it vanishes.
But G is rich and oligarchic
flaunting its Alacantara and sapele wood
and always sounds throaty and bespoke.
Of the minors, a and b
slide under the radar
and bring the eternal note of sadness in
when least expected,
putting the other minors out of joint.
The 6ths and 7ths
are often at sixes and sevens.
As Alan said,
I’m just a singer of simple songs.
I like to go from G to a minor
getting a little C in
on the way back to G,
the chord of chords,
governor of the fretboard
and parent of multiple benedictions.
[Note: This poem is an attempt to pay poetic homage to some of my favourite chords, which have always struck me as living personages rather than simply harmonic structures.]
What Makes a Poem
and the manner of its malting
its standing up to the wind
its sprouting and drying
its gradual ripening
and the manner of its flowing
traces of peat and mineral
its floral and honey notes
The mash tun
and the manner of the yeasting
where malt and water mix
starch turning to sugar
the draining of the wort
and the manner of its tending
its shape—column or pot—
the ancient skill of the coppersmith
and the manner of its keeping
the flavors of the wood
the subtle art of the cooper
its tempering of sublimities
and the manner of its passing
of its passing
and the manner of his knowing
the manner of his loving
the grain, the water, the copper, the wood,
and the slow ferment of years.
The hornet-fly sets down, and in its grasp
struggles the rapt, enfeebled beach-wasp
that plagued in freedom once my private space,
scattering its bites with promiscuous
indifference. At first I’m glad to see
it locked beneath the sable hornet-fly,
now practically inanimate, carried
to this table rock to become dead food
and subject to another appetite,
to insect hunger and to human spite,
so I could almost thank the hornet-fly
for this elementary courtesy.
I watch the hornet-fly get down to work
and with its throbbing hypodermic
pump its juleps into furry zones—
secret oils and intimate secretions—
its front legs moving in a strange caress,
a species, one might think, of tenderness.
The wasp was nothing but a nuisance, it
bit, it buzzed, left an itch, was obstinate
about the kitchen where it hatched its young.
And the same afternoon, when I was stung
by the hornet-fly, felt the fever hit
and heart skitter crazily all the night,
and nightmare mandibles, and, devil-sent,
shadows crawling by the bed, it wasn’t
hunger, spite or courtesy I thought of,
so touched by the fatality of love.
A real estate agent discovers the body of a missing lance corporal in a vacant lot
The Unit must evacuate an exiled dictator from an American hospital during a hurricane, victim of a sinister plot
Detectives investigate the mysterious deaths of two brothers
A rapist resumes his attacks, this time focusing on a different demographic of Significant Others
After a difficult loss to an underdog team, the town of Dillon turns on the coach
The six remaining teams take on a ballroom dancing discipline to help alter their approach
Bobby and the gang put their plan into motion to intercept a plane full of solid gold bars
War in Iraq: Suicide bombers and Exploding Cars
Entrepreneurs pitch their product ideas to business minds in the hope of creating sales
Hurley returns to the beach and tells some horrifying tales
With the gym locked for a week, Bob & Kim teach the players that they can still pump their load
Big corporations are lobbying Washington to turn the gateway to the Web into a toll road
A Confederate officer & his men journey to Mexico to buy guns
Asterix instructs the Romans how to defeat the Huns
A hold-up turns nasty when two thieves are found burnt to a crisp in a pizza oven
Pema Chodron talks about how her spiritual search led her to find serenity and become a Buddhist nun
The Doctor and Rose have to protect Queen Victoria from the werewolf’s wrath
Iran & North Korea: Heading Down the Nuclear Path
Inuit leaders & scientists present their concerns for the plight of the Arctic ice floes
Damian reveals what he knows about Mae to Carlos
[Note: These are all found lines from a copy of the TV Times, altered slightly for the sake of rhyme.]