POETRY

 

"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
irony’s companion,
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.

 

http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/The-art-of-thinking-8124

 

 

These poems will appear in my forthcoming poetry book, Installations (Signal Editions), to be released Fall 2015.

 

Installation

 

 

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

an installation

mounted in the featureless museum

that is a farmer’s field.

 

 

The Chords

 

 

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

 

 

The barley

   and the manner of its malting

   its standing up to the wind

   its sprouting and drying

   its gradual ripening

  

The water

   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

 

The still

   and the manner of its tending

   its shape—column or pot—

   the ancient skill of the coppersmith

 

The cask

   and the manner of its keeping

   the flavors of the wood

   the subtle art of the cooper

   its tempering of sublimities

 

Time

   and the manner of its passing

   of its passing

 

The maltmaster

   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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

TV Times 

 

 

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.]

 

 

 

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