to continue my preamble to this large project, I want to mention that anything copied into wordpress from a word document automatically becomes double spaced and I have no intention of going through these and correcting all of them. If you would like these poems without the awkward spacing, I will gladly sell you the book when it exists:
[man asks me for a poem for his 30th anniversary with his wife. Only tells me that he knew for sure that he wanted to spend his life with her the first time he laid eyes on her.]
If it were so simple as only needing
a pair of eyes
as beautiful as yours
there might be more men
as lucky as I am.
The true search is for something far more rare:
the you that you are
when you are in the dark
compels me as well. Praise the sweet
mystery that draws me to you
and let the years lift away
light like the plum blossom petals
picked by a brief March breeze.
When I want to hide from myself
to the underside of my own
tongue. I find there
the words I’ve kept caught
in my miasmic morning breath.
Under the crust
of the moderately avoidable verbage
I find the words
I have tried the hardest to hide.
This does not ease my avoidance
but it makes real the memories
of the last time I tried to run.
37. Candles, trees, flowers and rainbows.
[two sisters, 4 and 6 years old, ask me if I can write them a poem about two things (presumably so both could ask for one thing each). I tell them that I’m so good at poems, I could even write a poem about five things. They decide together that 5 is too many things, and they say they would like a poem about candles, trees, flowers, and rainbows.]
It could be like this:
a fairy shindig with pollen passing,
tea lights on the backs of dragonflies
swinging like faint music between
the bark of the redwoods under a
sunshower mist that’s burst into color.
It could be like this:
He was in love, and he has hiked with
her through the weeds with a picnic.
Some romance can be planned: the
candles and the flowers, but the soft
shower on the canopy and the rainbow
that followed were a gift
from a different hand.
It could be like this:
I have been given all these things
and more to hold in my mind and my
imagination is no simple thing. What
can I imagine today? A post office
run by dragons? A dance those fairies do
when they fall in love? All of this
my mind is good for.
[“so what would you two gals like a poem about?” “… … …uh…I’m really indecisive.” “would you like a poem about that?” “uh…yeah. sure. I’m like really indecisive”)
I know that Plato gets me:
the wise man only knows
that he knows nothing
at all. This is true
also for me
at an ice cream shop
or browsing Netflix
or looking for a boyfriend
I know that I do not know what I want:
look how wise I am.
[after she walked away with her poem, I realized that the woman with her may have been her partner. which I felt could have made the poem read somewhat offensively.]
[a woman with has tattooed a picture of Marilyn Monroe as a topless mermaid on her arm expresses shock that she hasn’t met me yet. She asks me for a poem about anything I want to write about. I press her to provide a topic. She insists on providing none.]
I bumped into a Monromermaid
in an amphibious supermarket
she was all scales and smoldering sex
appeal, as usual.
I see her there
all the time
making eyes at any man
buying a lobster.
She may find herself iconic,
but I always find her
and her tail
a little out of their element
and often shopping for “dry goods.”
40. Going Down
to slope in a negative algebra
is a misuse of both
language and mathematics.
Everything that “goes downhill” gets
“deep” and “brings me down”
shares the blame.
It is also,
I would say
an exiting of light
from the day’s ambition
a hunger that is only
the eating internal
a force of air
pushing not down
but out. I am taking
the truth to be found in these directions
I am learning as a leaf
caught in the expelling air.
[third poem of mine to make someone cry]
This is the tissue our body masses
to cover locations of hurt.
Here is the reminder we are
given of the times we did not know well
how sharp the knife or how needed
the stitches were. Here it amasses:
The voice of a tautological body
the kind teacher of it is
with its patient slow mending
saying, “you will
heal. You will heal
from this too.”
42. She Hulk Goes to the Grocery Store
[a young woman asks for a poem about female super heroes, because she is interested in portrayals of feminine strength.]
The household goods section
has lots of gender pronouns
that could be a problem.
The clerks have gotten
used to it. Put up a sign:
“Don’t murder over spilt milk”
The cashier sounds a little more
sincere when she says:
“have a nice day” with subtext.
The butcher goes about
his job slowly without quick movement
a smile as big as his knives.
When she gets home from the store
and crawls into a weary bed
she holds her man with
the true purpose of her strength.
43. Ezra’s bad rap follows him to Santa Cruz
I was, myself once
in a station of the metro:
I didn’t see shit. No petals
no wet black anything.
I left that station
felt a little
[woman asks me for a poem about the future. In chatting she mentions she has a six year old daughter who is part of why she thinks so much about the future.]
If I were to tell you we pass slowly
through our moments
that we move viscous
in time, would it come as a comfort?
Knowing that those who are cherished
and young are syrup in this state
and there will be much done
before they are just faces to be
placed in a frame to be adored or at least
available for adoring.
And what can be said for seeing
time as a torrential,
a pouring of hours
a deluge of days? How
can it be that whole years can be
summarized in phrases:
“I was young, too busy with beauty.”
“just wasting time in Charlotte
focused on a career.”
Both are true, and have the same word
scribbled in the margins:
45. for Mr. R**** 4** C******* M****** Ave. Box #***** Monterey CA 93944
[as I pack up my cart and head home, a man approaches me with two female friends. He tells me that they just had an intervention about his Gay Porn addiction instead of driving to San Francisco. He asks me if I can write a poem about it. After telling him that I’m about to pack up for the day, I tell him I could mail him the poem. He accepts, and dictates his address to me. I was never really sure if the porn addiction story was true or just an inside joke among friends, but I wrote him this poem anyway]
I have to say, do nothing
for me. Although
I have to admit, they did
recently make their way
onto my list
of top two favorite genitals. But still:
all of the flaccid flopping
and wrinkled testicular vestibules
lack something beneath: a pulsing of
(and you can find this in porn)
blood and a willful ecstasy of thrusting
heavily breathed preludes into a pearled trickle
(all this can be found in porn)
and beneath all of it:
a way of looking
(with which, if I could tell you how it is
to be found, we could stop all of
this madness) into adoring eyes
and saying: “Yes, lover, yes.”
[a woman asks me for a poem for her husband. When I ask what she likes about him, she is without words for a while and then says that she loves him completely, that they built their house together and raised two children there.]
There is more to a house
than walls. Layers
of paint are not the only
accumulation of this living
room over the years.
There is also this:
passed from one palm into another or
one hand pressed lovingly into another
or many small hands growing
up into large hands and the years
pass by (they are not like paint:
they do not try
to cover where they have been).
[a 16 year old girl and her father stop at my cart. The father tells the daughter to ask for a poem, she requests “a poem for her lost generation.” I ask her if she thinks her generation is lost. “Yes.” she says.]
I put JFK in a time machine
and took him on a roadtrip.
We went all over America.
He spent most of his time
either chasing women, or galvanizing
the nation’s youth. Success on all counts.
I couldn’t understand how
he gathered people around him,
and I couldn’t understand
his accent. I tossed him
my iPhone, somewhere in Iowa, and said,
“here Johnny, put on some music.”
and just like that
he was as lost as the rest of us.
[a man roughly my age asks me for a poem about anything I’d like to write about. When I ask him to help me out by telling me something he enjoys to do, he says he enjoys playing music on “strange instruments” with his friends while “just bullshitting”]
is a doom clap
it doubles back
lays down its own
sound. This I knew already
but then I found
in a clarinet to swing strong
on the downbeat:
this dubstep symphony gone high drive
a prevailing piano: a home
of hidden hammers.
I hear all this
with my friends.
[a guy who looks to be in the ballpark of 15 years old asks me for a poem for a girl he enjoys spending time with. When I ask him if it’s romantic his friends all laugh. When I ask him what he likes about her he says that he enjoys reading Neruda together and that she is lovely.]
I have been trying to speak with Pablo
about all these lovely things he sees:
onions and socks pulling odes
from this man,
into a song somewhere public,
taking him from a body
to somewhere sublime.
There are so many ways
to be lovely:
to be an onion that is the most onion,
a sock, the most sock;
there is a way one can have of being
that gives the rest of us solace,
lets us breathe deep and say: this.
This much at least I know is true.
[a woman who just got out of a long relationship and has been enjoying freedom and sewing and her newly bought (post-breakup) turntable asks me for a poem]
It may go without saying
that the sky has always been secure.
It might also be true
that the blue wonder does not need
any additional noise
to be made below it. When I am
free to take my limbs
to any desirable destination
when I am held more buoyant
by a more saline time the sky can deal with it:
watch me run a stitch
through joyous fabric,
watch me rotate
with this turntable. This is the work
one does when finding
their own anthem.
within humor there is always tragedy,
but that which is comic
happens to you
but that same falling piano
landing on me
I know a coyote
who knew all about this:
where there is humor
there is always uncontrollable
desire: to eat that bird,
to survive this piano
to travel this treacherous
life without breaking
distance between wails
52. First Base
[a ten year old boy asks me if I can write a poem about baseball, tells me that he plays first base]
What kind of blue the sky may be
at this small moment
I have no time for.
It serves as little
but a backdrop for
this infield fly.
What shade exactly
that grass is displaying
in the space between
the pitcher’s mound
and the dugout is
only there to be chewed
beneath my cleats.
there are no colors in this moment
when all I’m doing
is playing first.
53. Let us be honest:
if we are honest
there have been tears
there has been
weeping, there has been sobbing.
There have been many kinds of tears:
this is how I’ve known it to be.
There is a graceful day
coming. If you are lucky,
maybe this day of grace has already passed.
Over a glass of beer I met my mother
when I was 22. If there were tears
after that, they were different.
No one ever warned me
about the really important
things one must bring
on a roadtrip
nor could they.
How strange it would be
for anyone to say:
bring grace and compassion
and make sure that you pack
more love than you think you will need
for the person with whom you will travel
through this period of time.
There are many actions in life
that are more difficult
reading the arch of a ball which is
displacement in air.
finding the correct words, which is
telepathy via typography when
you see what I’m writing.
Water finding its way into a crack
in the pavement growing colder
until it freezes and pushes apart
something that seemed solid
like loving you.
56. just about 2/3rds of a sonnet
When purple leaves the vine it’s not to die
but to be beyond sight a season more
the geese can sing this song more true than I
of a returning color’s true allure.
I miss no color like wisteria,
which is a texture and a shape as well
my memory’s lies may count a plethora
and will a falsehood (for a smile) sell.
But this at least I do believe is true:
there is rebirth in me, in geese, in you.
57. poem for a smile
[a bald man on a bike stops and asks me for a poem because he wants something to make him smile]
listen here you cheese weasel
you mumbling muskrat
you pantsless giraffe
life is going to turn
the volume down
so you can see
all the hilarious things that are happening
A bigot bulbous as a beachball
cursing at a ballgame on a screen
working his fat wet lips inches
from an image of a skin tight running
ass. This happens every day.
Turn down the volume.
What strange animals you will see.
What strange soft animals we all are
[a woman asks me for a poem about “human relationships” as she walks away she adds that she’s always felt on the outside of most human relationships.]
blame the iphone
for the way these cradled rectangles are held does direct
the faces away from the crowd even in the crowd. You
could blame faces
turning away from books
on ironically titled social media.
I have never had this
to tell me in pokes, tweets, likes, and apps
how people relate. I prefer to close
my eyes, conversations waft past me:
the merits of dresses, destinations
for dinner. A thin man with a thin
silver tie leans to the ear
of the woman he walks with, and whispers
“I love you dearly.” And this helps
heighten the state in which people relate.
59. String Instruments
[two friends come up to me, one asks for a poem about bees. the other says that she wants a poem about bees as well. I cheated on both of these, they’re both poems I have written before. Why have I written so many poems about bees?]
there are bees hidden in the harp
they are warmed
in a case
The fiddle is its own
unlike the violin
you can spill beer on a fiddle.
all this buzzing produced
by these string instruments.
Their honey overwhelms my ears.
also # 59] Said one Honeybee to the Other
“I wouldn’t fuck you for all the honey in the hive
it would be strange to have that much sweetness
when I have your eyes
which I can see sweeten at the sight of me and
like beautifully kneecapped diabetic comas
just waiting to happen
and your lips
I do not have
because we’re bees.
But as for the rest of it:
I was built for these pollens.
I will fill the whole of this dome
this crescent of ozone
with such viscous sweetness.” You must listen in the early
spring before the air grows thick.
60. For Vittorio from his own heart
[a woman asks for a poem about her 1 year old son, she says that she wishes that he will have a strong heart that will lead him in the right direction]
Like you, I began
There was a time
not too long ago
when you were sleeping:
your mother held you
and cradled your torso
in her ear to hear
my sound. There is no simple way to say this:
the only thing more difficult
and important in this life
than listening to your own heart
is to make yourself still enough
to listen to someone else’s.
61. A brief lesson on Fountains and Love
[a couple asks me for a poem for their 21 year old son. When I ask them to describe him they say that he is “gregarious” and “good with the ladies.” I didn’t see any trouble relating, and gave him parts of a poem that I had written before that I thought would be appropriate.]
I have been told that the true measure
of a man
is his ability to give himself away.
I try to let myself be
like the water
you can find
in a fountain.
If I am not overflowing
I have very little
to offer. The more water
a fountain gives out the more water
returns to the fountain. This too is true for love.
My opinion of watermelons, age 12
It is a shame to have
to swallow so much sweetness
just to get a few seeds
to spit at my brother.
My opinion of watermelons, age 25.
In post-grad poverty
and invited to a potluck BBQ:
wonderful wonderful watermelon.
My opinion of watermelons, age 4.
Tell me what kind of glory exists
that couldn’t be improved by cheese
melted inside of a flour tortilla.
If food wasn’t made to be sautéed
in spices various, and rolled into burritos
then why did god give us hands?
Muse, sing to me of guacamole;
slather overzealous spices in sour cream.
My Elysium is a never ending
hot and mild
and the chips
never run out.
May 12, 2013
So if you were wondering why I haven’t been all over this whole “posting all 100 poems” thing, there are pretty much two excuses…um, I mean reasons. The first is that I’ve been organizing everything on this flier to help promote the Tannery Arts Center (as previously gushed about). The second is that typing up poems, and editing them so that there are no spelling errors takes time. Turns out, it takes lots more time than I thought. But don’t worry, there will be 100 poems I wrote in April on this blog soon!
as a preamble to this large project, I want to mention that anything copied into wordpress from a word document automatically becomes double spaced and I have no intention of going through these and correcting all of them.
1. Giving It Away
[poem for the guy handing out fliers outside the Silver Store in Santa Cruz]
It raises the question, what is worse:
to be ignored without thought
perceived secondary to the importance
of coffee cups, or to be accepted
by a man in bad flannel, who will
talk for fifteen minutes, with no interest
in buying silver? Sometimes one has to work
just to prevent the eyebrows and other
less controllable facial features from
becoming an accusatory apology.
Convince me this isn’t a shitty job.
Convince me oil travels freely though
Convince me you burn bright.
[a couple asks for a poem about a 10 year anniversary. no favorite poet provided.]
Love me like the sun rises
this is the brightness we have
Kindness and patience
are tireless as tide;
the way I’ll never grow weary
of looking into your
3. Damn Good Oysters (a Tercestina)
[Juba excitedly tells me about oysters from the farmer’s market. “Damn….Good…Oysters. Write a poem with those three words.” he uses as his conclusion. I say “ok.” He never returns for his poem. Not sure if he thought I was serious or not.]
Quite frankly it doesn’t matter worth a damn
if you think your poems are outstandingly good
someone will come thinking their words are pearls from oysters
but you can’t let that close you off like an oyster.
One must keep their pen moving and not give a damn:
this is the only way to make art that’s any good.
Mary Oliver told me not only that I don’t have to be good
but also that death can be gracious using poems about geese and oysters,
this is why, when you say “poetry” no one gives a damn.
Despite this, we go on. Public opinion be damned.
Every once in a while you have to do what feels good,
just because it feels good, like writing or stuffing your face full of oysters.
[guy walking by, without slowing his gait, asks without eye contact if I can write a poem that will stop his girlfriend from being mad at him. I say “I can do that” he stops in his tracks, explains the fight they just had, and ends up asking me to write his apology poem)
Sometimes I don’t understand
the tide. I want you to help me.
The next full moon let’s take a walk
you and I, down to the shore.
We don’t need to say much but
I want you to watch the tide
with me. Under the forgiving light
of Earth’s only satellite
maybe I can show you what I don’t understand
the tide rolls
out in the direction
of the sunset
every day and every day
it returns. I wonder: why roll away
in the first place. I want to say:
return, return, return.
5.(I keep) no secrets
[17 year old with gender neutral hair voice and clothing asks me for a song about secrets. Yup. a song.]
She speaks to me like a tiny violin
playing a tune that moves
like the distilled sweetness of bees.
I cannot remember the tune. (that is not true)
(I must say I cannot remember)
(she wants me to say I cannot remember
and I gave my word that I would)
My word is a rock that juts
in a stormy sea.
(I did not know this storm would come)
(a secret is a set of words
that you wish would be your lover
they drape themselves
in scant traces of lace
and wait for the candlelight to
do the rest. You can see and even hold
a lover like this but you can never truly
This is what she whispered.
6. timeless: without time
[60ish year old man with 40ish year old wife tells me his wife is 20 years younger than him and that he loves her no matter what anyone says about their age difference. Says his favorite poet is ee cummings. never returns for his poem.]
I do not love
(nor do I wish to)
like a metronome
clock a punch
card a watcher
no no I love
[60ish year old woman walks up to me and abruptly requests a poem about how “kids these days don’t have any proper role models” (exact words). Walks away before I can ask her if she has a favorite poet]
I’ve seen a compass confounded
by the closeness
I’ve seen the wisteria climb
any ladder left
to reach for
I’ve seen the path of my own
for a guide.
8. Movement in the Morning
[A man in his late 30s with a serious surfer vibe asks for a poem about fog. Tells me about watching the fog roll through trees while drinking his coffee that morning.]
In the morning, when the parallel is the clearest,
before the sun climbs to its point
of authority, I watch the fog slither
between the trees like drunk friends
it does not wish to wake. The fog does not wish to slide
over the ocean like the body of a new lover
who has not yet pulled it close. Then
blow the steam from my coffee
and let the fog clear from me
[a very quiet woman in her early 20s reads both volumes of work I have in front of my cart, and then watches me write for 20 min or so. She then asks me for a poem about solitude, says she does not often get out, nor does she have many friends. In the process of writing, I have a quiet and complete feeling of something coming through me. Handing the poem to its recipient felt like a psychedelic experience]
Some mornings the pale blue and blush
of the rising sky is a challenge
that I don’t feel like answering.
Some mornings the only kind of safety
that makes any sense to me is the heat
accumulated off my body through the night,
like some sash of soft darkness was laid
over me with each lightless hour
and each sash knew my sleeping body so well
that they loved each other silently, as
no one seems to know how to anymore
and to get up and leave this bed behind
is to push off of the world
this rare and quiet affection.
I promise some mornings
are worth it.
[30 year old lady asks for poem to help her boyfriend who works with a homeless services nonprofit who has chronic stress and is always like a kettle about to boil because of it.]
Perhaps you could tell…
with tense insight
about the temperament of steam.
what catalyst of liquid transition
ignites beneath us all
…you must know about this already.
The very heat that will move us
and accelerate us in our changing
can eventually come to a boil.
Where we thought we once were:
we are no longer. We become lost.
let me be for you a tray of ice cubes
to drop one by one into you
so that you may keep your heat
standing over the flame
without losing your passion
like vapor taken
by the jealous air.
11.) Remember Santa Cruz
[for one of two exchange students from Sweden who had been in Santa Cruz for three months and were boarding a plane back home the next day]
Here is one thing that I will never forget:
the way the sun here slides
over the hills in the East. And another:
the white petals that take the attention
away from each spring sky so that
a talentless poet could spend days
writing about them. The mad glare
of the boardwalk. The long neck
of the wharf. Each sleepless
night I’ve spent here I could hear
the moon complaining:
“I have spent so many evening hours
coming out early just to hang above
the same small flock of gulls for
which I have no love, nor for their
I do not listen to the moon.
Some find it hard to love what they have
before its gone.
12.) Photographs of the Ocean
[a woman who is walking with a man I assume is her boyfriend gives me flirty eyes and asks for a poem about the ocean. I write the poem and give her a private reading (standing, and giving her my seat) before she ever uses the word “brother” to refer to the man who I was desperately trying not to flirt with her in front of.]
There is a certainty in the tide that speaks
of the ocean’s conviction. I could sit
on the sand everyday: I could watch the spray
rise from the descending waves as they roll in.
I could point the camera at each sousing
and still never know what is more true of our moments:
whether time will roll through us as a
or if we are only the still odd moment
when the spray
and then caught in a frame.
13. My First Time
[I was asked for a poem about coral]
At the aquarium as a young man
I touched coral for the
Rock-sized and lost
from its home
now in my palm I thought:
this here that I hold, is
the bones of the ocean
some knuckle ruptured
and lost I hold here.
Surely the mariana
trench must miss its
knuckle. What irony
that it lost them here
in my own digits greedy clasping.
This was, of course, before I knew
how many carbon based beings
I thought were inanimate,
before I knew what we leave behind
when we die.
[a man in his early 50s asks for a six line poem about a cigarette butt on the pavement]
We all abandon pieces of ourselves somewhere.
There are times when this is metaphorical.
But that is not today’s story: today was
long in its holding of heat and slow
to submit and sink into the sunset. Today
did sink slow and I do not lament to follow its descent.
15.) The Young Gods
[for Kirby Scutter]
When Janus had children
they sprung, full grown
from his skull.
His first instinct
was to devour them.
They survived and this
is how the gods were born.
Very shortly thereafter
patricide was discussed
with a high level of seriousness,
but when the young gods
found they could not
wrench life from Janus’
they served him
with lease violations.
[a young woman asks for a poem about romantic indecision]
The 3 O’clock knows
what it wants:
the sun just shines
a wide brush of blue
over the far lifting sky
with conviction in its own
I have been chasing
an eight O’clock love
when the sky can’t wrap
it’s fingers correctly
around any hue,
and the night is a thief
around a slight corner of time
with empty beds in his pockets
and false secrets on his breath
about the hour and the color of the sky.
[a bald man asks me for a poem about cosmic compassion, never returns]
I would like the moon
to smile more often
out of compassion for those
of us below.
I would like for mankind
to smile more often:
I think we would
if we knew about the power
a compassionate act.
I have felt
in my moments of greater
grace, my whole heart
open like a sky
at night, awash with stars.
I cannot weigh my heart
the weight of all these arms.
give me more ways to reach
for another cephalopod’s
been lonely and scuttling
the bottom of the sea, just
area of aquatic affection;
for a heart like mine.
19.) What One Wants
[a couple approached me when the sky was getting dark and asked for a poem about anything. They had just left a fancy restaurant and told me it was because what they really wanted for dessert was an orange]
Somewhere in Florida a tree is lonely,
its branches without balance:
this is only one way to see this orange,
as a lost treasure, but why produce sweet
if not to give them away? Who can say
for sure that we are not made to desire
so specifically this
citrus sweetness at this time?
Who can say that there is a better way
to spend an evening then to forsake
all of the offered desserts
in favor of one’s true desire?
20.) Listen to this State
[an Indian family of five asks me (through the father as a translator) to write a poem for the grandfather, who is visiting America for the first time]
The California poppy
opens its bloom enthusiastically
to the sun like a trumpet
pushing a high note
in the borrowed color
of a monarch’s wings.
overstates its conviction
like a kitten roaring
a lion’s ferocity.
But these are the collected song
Look at the wide notes playing
in this field.
[for a self-identified “gamer couple” celebrating their one year anniversary]
How old and wonderful it is
that our minds made rules
to better be able to play.
That we did not make rules to
constrict or to bind, but bind ourselves
to rules to better fly
the desires of our minds.
[Two women ask me for a poem about money and never return to pick it up. They also do not pay me for the poem.]
I often wonder if cash
is a bad bone in the
human body. If we could remove
it and cure the disease.
Other times I want
and a villa and a few
steaks a week, new
shoes and a shirt
without holes in it.
I wake from this dream of desire
to list only that which I am able to give.
23. for Santa Cruz
[a young man from a “progressive Christian organization” asks me for a poem about love. When I encourage him to specify what kind of love, he asks for a poem of brotherly love in Santa Cruz. I later discover that him and his organization have laid out butcher paper across Pacific Ave and are asking passers-by to draw what they think love looks like]
Look, Santa Cruz
I have a great time
just hanging out with you.
You just really get me man,
like I can just say anything
to you like the tide can say
to the shore whatever truth
rolls off its roiling tongue.
When we hang out I can
honest about who I am
like the moon actually is
a pearl rolling
in the wide black bowl of the night.
I want to wear your friendship
about me like a garment woven
from our intention to ease
and invite the grace of this world
what I’m trying to say is:
I love you man.
[(after reading Vasko Popa’s “One Bone to Another” I decide to include bones in all of my morning’s poems) a woman asks me for a 10 year anniversary poem for her husband]
I imagine someday our bones
(some 40 or 60 or no more
than 100 years from now)
will have something to say
to each other.
I imagine they will turn
to each other casually
with the same knowing look
you give me now
“you held together
quite the companion.”
and my bones will blush
and in their own way
for your hand
by dispersing toward you
in the soil.
[(after reading Vasko Popa’s “One Bone to Another”) a student asks for a poem for his mentor who has just been diagnosed with a terminal cancer]
The bones, too
They are only the wick
of this oil lamp. And when this lamp tilts up
and your essence collects
it does not affect
all the wondrous change
that is inspired by your flame.
[(after reading Vasko Popa’s “One Bone to Another”) a young man asks me for a poem about an emotion he spends 20 minutes explaining]
anyone can look at October’s leaves
and say “look at these bones”
bout only a man who is bones himself
will see the way
they cast and cascade
and even in the slow wind,
(if he has become bare as well)
they are more like dead bats petrified
on extended wing.
The bountiful man may look at the same
branches and say:
“look at these buds
that are yet to be.”
27. JC Bootleggin’
[(after reading Vasko Popa’s “One Bone to Another”) a street magician who I tend to find obnoxious asks me for a poem about Jesus Christ bootlegging liquor]
I, for one,
would buy moonshine from Christ.
Something he cooked up
bootlegging in his Father’s basement.
As long as it was actual moonshine
(light from the moon)
I would go blind drinking that bone
I would go blind.
[a couple on a first date asked me for a poem. Neither had a favorite poem or poet. After getting their poem, I saw them kissing on the street corner. Success.]
went on a date with a lemur.
It was unsuccessful.
went on a date with a puppy.
It was adorable.
I went on a date
with a sociopath (this is a true
I found myself jealous
of all other conceivable
[a woman asks me for a poem for her friend who is terminally ill. She describes this woman as her sister, but explains explicitly that they are not blood related]
what bliss is implicit in “sister”
what love in me knows that even
this close name is profane for
the true feeling.
We could take dictation from
the daisy: it uses no words
to express how it feels for
the sun, but if it did, I would become
a thief and steal that word
and use it
for the ways saying “sister”
[a man who was visiting from Sacramento had his car broke down, we talked for nearly half an hour about how he could never make up his mind what to do.]
I would not bend so radically as the wind
at time I will cling to the branch
as if it were my own
But even these leaves
will travel in an unknown
direction, far from the space
they grew above
the will of the wind alone.
[a 15 year old in a group of 6 peers asks me for a poem about her boyfriend, who she has been with for three months. One of her 15 year old male makes three offhand remarks about the race of her boyfriend.]
Do me a favor:
Because your smile is softer
than the petals of the plum blossoms
you have rows of full moons
behind your lips;
part the night clouds for me.
bring the bright shine of your joy
to me. I want to share your smile
with every day of my week like a cake
too rich to eat in one sitting
I want to savor taking
my lips to it
day after day after day.
32. Inner Beauty
[a 14 year old girl asks me for a poem about inner beauty. When I ask her why, she responds that it is the reason why she would like to fall in love someday]
The principles of gravity,
the words traveling between our phones,
the wind that pulls
the petals of plum blossoms from their branches:
there are many things I cannot see.
But hidden in that invisible wind of white flutter of these petals is pulled.
We are as unable to see it at that which pulls
heavily the human heart
the unseeable and unstoppable
truth of attraction.
In the ripcurl of tide
sand and safety.
Also, in safety there is control
and also boredom
let me sail on this
let me muddle the velocity of gulls.
34. The Wolf
[a hairstylist asks me for a poem about wolves. Tells me that he asks every street poet he has ever met for a poem about wolves]
An Italian man with a fantastic white hat
once told me
that we live our lives
in the mouth
between the common man
and the brave man is
the common man tries to survive the wolf,
the brave man attempts to kill it.
April 25, 2013
April 11, 2013
…when you have a draft from a blog post that you meant to post two months ago, and the first line is about how much you’ve neglected your blog? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my thoughts from February 19th:
“Hello lonely little blog, it sure has been a while. And while the whole of the East Coast has been covered in 30” of snow, I too have been pretty busy down here in Santa Cruz. Nothing so epic that it stopped traffic, but it has been a good time. What have I been up to, you ask? Well, among other things, this:
Sometime last month I had a yearning for a typewriter. Couldn’t explain it, and certainly couldn’t justify it. That is, until I thought of a man I had seen on the streets of Northampton sitting at a typewriter with a sign that said “Poems: top of the head $1, bottom of the heart $5” I had always wanted to do the same thing, but I was nervous about both my poetic ability, and the fact that I would totally be stealing his style (now if you want good poetry in Northampton you have to go here). But Santa Cruz is an interesting town, a great number of things set it apart from Northampton, including the fact that one does not need a permit to busk. So I purchased the typewriter of my eye, from a thrift store ($65) an ottoman from Marshals ($35), and some plywood and wheels from probuild ($12.50). With a little help from the best glassblowing shop in Santa Cruz I was able to get the whole rig together ($112.50). Three days of busking later, I had made back all of what I had spent. Here’s the happy ending to the story: it turns out that writing poems on the streets pays an even scale of $10/hour (that was in February. March seems to be closer to $16). Goodbye endless hours at an unpleasant job; hello becoming a much better writer. Don’t worry, folks who are concerned for my well being, my mother has beaten you to the finish line where you freak out about me not being able to eat: I’m still picking up shifts at the cafe, but I make more money writing poetry…who knew?
Speaking of better writers, here’s another thing I’ve been doing:
I know it’s not the best flier ever, but it is what I’ll be typing all my poems on the reverse side of for the next month (I’m an evil marketing genius). One could theorize that I am simply not capable of moving to any new place without starting a poetry reading. You could build some pretty solid evidence for this argument, but this reading does feel a bit different to me. In many ways, it feels like it’s my audition for the Art Bar. I’ll be running this event at a café with a beer and wine license that is the only venue located in the middle of the Tannery Arts Center, which I have previously gushed about here. Speaking of the tannery:
That’s where I’m going to live starting in March. Yes, I’ll be moving into the Tannery!!! I can’t even express how excited I am. This is the largest project that ArtSpace has ever funded and I’m going to be running poetry events and living it! For the next two weeks I’m going to be concentrating very hard on how to count my blessings while simultaneously looking for ways to convince Rebecca to carry beer and wine cheap enough for poets to buy.”
The big updates since that post: Living in the tannery is awesome, the reading series is going great (in fact I’ll be hosting events on Friday and Saturday as well starting in May), Rebecca now carries $2 Rolling Rocks, and busking is going great as evidenced here:
More pictures of typewriters, and posts to the blog to come soon! Also, I’m thinking of starting …ugh…a twitter account with some of my adventures writing poems on the street. Thoughts?
December 6, 2012
or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the fact that I’m stuck in the Albany airport. (a photo essay)
A little backstory: flying a redeye into Logan Airport, I was supposed to have a layover at JFK, however, nothing had landed in in JFK that morning due to FOG (that’s right, I flew FROM San Francisco TO New York, and got delayed due to …fog.) so the rerouted us to Albany, NY, and at first I was upset to be stuck in …ugh…albany, but then I figured “well…I’m probably smart enough to figure out how to get to Boston from here without going back to JFK where there’s a morning’s worth of air traffic backed up.” I slipped into a zen-like state, possibly brought on by sleep deprivation and decided to proceed joyously knowing that I would be in Massachusetts soon, surrounded by wonderful people. And in the process I snapped some photos thinking “this will make a great blog post sometime.” three weeks later…
December 4, 2012
…so you remember that last post with the photos that happened almost a month ago? The one where I mention that I have a job working somewhere awesome? Right, well that’s a true story. And the downside to that whole “true story” thing is that I have a whole lot less free time than I did when I was unemployed and kicking about the country, add to that a crazy busy trip back home to celebrate my birthday and thanksgiving, and a botched attempt to sell my car, and it all equals very few blog posts. But now I’m back in the Cruz with a (theoretically) more settled job schedule, so I’m going to try to get back on this whole practice of updating about my personal life, and also about awesome arts organizations, and then hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to travel to Southern California to visit my wonderful family who has been adamant about welcoming me with open arms since I traveled out here months ago in the first place.
In the meantime I’m going to leave you with these two treats:
1. An outstanding “name your price” download from MN based “Doomtree” collective member Paper Tiger called Beat Tape
2. A photo essay of my travels back to MA which will be following shortly with an outstandingly clever title.
November 18, 2012
November 15, 2012
welcome to my camera (click through for larger versions):
November 7, 2012
The sound of construction is a mutinous beauty,
such a perverse pounding to stand pillars, the scaffolding and slashing
of structured corners
we walk between: this could be any city;
the window washers could hate their jobs
or their wives; falling bricks could catch
in the hefty black netting , a weight that hangs
like a swallowed love for a woman with a familiar heart.