Books for Sale

January 21, 2016

New Books added to my Etsy, check ’em out!

Kevin Devaney Tiny Poetry Books from Santa Cruz

These are, I promise, just as adorable as they look

You can now find me at

Hello wide world of the internet.  Just thought it would be about time to catch up.  What have I been up to, you ask?

Well I’ve just stopped running events 3-5 times a week, and started really plotting potential ways to run an Art Bar out here in sunny Santa Cruz (more details on that to come soon)!

Also I’ve been keeping myself fed and paying my rent using the power of poetry.  I promise this is a true story.  Here are some videos that folks have made about it:

<p><a href=”″>Story Of A Street Poet</a> from <a href=”″>Daniel Hoffman</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

…also, this one.

For examples of some of the poems I’ve written out there, you can check out 100 poems I wrote in April parts one, part two or part three.

You also just might have the chance pretty soon to get your hands on one of those books of street poetry and support the Art Bar in the process. Stay tuned.  Or if you’re local, come check out Santa Cruz’s Only Weekly Poetry Open Mic this upcoming monday (August 19th) to see me do a 25 minutes of poetry!

KUSP’s weekly Sunday Poetry Show asked me to do an interview.  Sarah had a hard time with my last name, but other than that I think the interview went pretty well…


June 6, 2013


…what can I say?  I’m in.

So it turns out that it took me a month to properly edit the end of this large project.  Again, 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, you can track down the orignial poems with the misspellings included but without the awkward spacing as a note on my facebook:

64.] Another Dream


[a woman asks for a poem about her husband.  Tells me they were recently married and living on a farm/vineyard and that he works as a chef and they’re loving their life, eating delicious food and being surrounded by beauty]


in this dream

            I begged Oberon

not to take


         this potion off my eyes.

                           I told this lord

         of forest magic


         to let his enchantment last:

                            “You must understand

         this dream I’m having


          under your spell:

            The sun everyday runs

            from orange to white to orange again and everyday

            I’m seeing this light on this face

            of one I love, I have coaxed a bounty

            from the earth and opened my eyes

            to it.”  And then, it was dawn


and Oberon and the dream

were gone.  I opened my eyes and you

were beside me.  Just like this,

           I thought, if I must wake from this dream too

                 let it be just like this.




65.] Vespa bravery


I am not saying that today

                  when you put both your legs

around my Vespa, that you experienced

the same emotion as St. George when he

faced the dragon, I am just saying:

                   “I am glad you came.”

This can be scary, I know.  And every year

they will make thousands of movies

about what it means to be brave

           and they will all get it wrong.

There will always be explosions or evil

threats to the world and car chases

and backflips.  I do not need this bravery.

Every year, they will make thousands

of movies about what it is like to love.

       They will not capture what it is like

             to have you here

                  arms around me


on the back of my Vespa.






[a 10 year old and his brother ask me if I can write “one of those poems where the first letter of each line spells a word” about soccer.  This is the first acrostic anyone has requested from me.]


So what if I never played midfield willingly,

Or offence if I could avoid it.

Can’t say I liked playing wing,

Cringed at the thought of goalie

Every position has its own deterrent.

Really, I should find a new sport.




67.  Poem for the Ocean


I am nothing as wide as the tide

which rakes daily over this serene shore.


I have not, by my hand, turned rocks

into sand or nurtured all life on Earth.


I have no released myself to the pull

of the moon, nor shipwrecked anyone


and taken them whole.





68.  Moving


[ A woman asks me for a poem about moving from one apartment to another.  When I asked he what the hardest part of moving was, she said getting rid of her couch.]


Goodbye couch,

       I hope the idle sidewalk loves you

if no one else will take you in.  I hope

you don’t get doomed to a dorm and damned

by some spilt beverage or other unsavory

fluid.  Couch, who has held me on my good

days as well as my bad, in sickness as in

health, and even that time I got sucked in

to watching Battlestar Galactica.  You

outstanding upholstery, blessed to be

best of all possible seats.  I hope for you

a happy home.  Or, if that doesn’t work

out for you, I hope you grow arms


                     these boxes are heavy

                     and I could use some help.





[a man asks me for a poem about a woman he’s about to drive to San Jose to see that his friends think he shouldn’t see, and he knows his friends are probably right, but he knows he’s going to go see her anyway.]


The heart may have reasons that

                             the reason knows not

but that doesn’t mean

                    my heart isn’t a jerk sometimes.


I’ll get in the car

                          with my heart, thinking

we’re just going downtown

                          for a cup of coffee and then

my heart slams on the gas

and we’re Vin Diesel-ing down the highway

to your heart’s place

                                  to get fucked up

on drugs that can only be made

                  by the insides of our brains,

and this is on a Tuesday night.

                                I’ll never learn.



[first time I ever used Vin Diesel as a verb.   won’t be the last.]




70. Snakes


[a man walks up to me and asks for a poem about snakes, provides little elaboration.  After it turns out he is on his way to do a reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz, where he read this as the opening poem of his set]


What bad name to be given to a belly

         creature: viper, serpent, they use

“snake” as an insult, those who are least


comfortable with their bodies hurl this

           hurt without hesitation.  They do not

know the beauty of a skin stone smooth


they assume the worser part of grace.

            To some this quickness is

uncomfortable.  They cannot say why they cannot see


the beauty of that which is





71. Time


A marble on a downward tilt,

most conscious school children,

credible rumors about world leaders:


                                 some things were made to be moving.


Time could be one of these things.

Or it could be allowed to be

like a dog in a yard on a summer day

with no master.  I do not desire

to be time’s master, only to build

      a larger yard in which it can roam.




72. My Sweet


[A young woman asks for a poem about her boyfriend.  When I ask her what she likes about him she says that he’s sarcastic and he plays lots of video games.  After a long pause she adds that he also likes chocolate.]


Those who describe chocolate

                         only as “sweet”

                               have not refined


their tasted tongues.

                      Who would have the canvas

                                 of their palette


beat monochrome in flavor?


This is the true gift of chocolate:

  in the cocoa also a hint

      of coffee, a hazelnut accent

          tint of bitter blended all.


And still this taste is simple

             compared to the sweetness

                         I find in you.





[a 12 year old girl asks me for a poem about horsies and doggies]


if I were a horse

                             I would be the best horse


my powerful legs would

                             take me away fast enough


to make my mane and tail

                             wave in the wind.


If I were a dog,

                             I would be the best dog


I would be good at fetch

                              and great at the park


but today and yesterday

                              and probably tomorrow


I am human, and I

                              will be the very best.






[A man asks me for a poem about madness, and continues tells me a very impressive story about some part of the beat movement he was heavily involved in.  I was too busy thinking about how to write a madness poem to properly listen.]


Madness makes

                                     the heart grow fonder.

Money makes

                                      the world go mad.

The poet makes

                                      the eye dart from

Earth                 Heaven

                 to                         to


for a very poor

                                                  hourly wage.

And we all burn with a madness beyond

 the genius of the sea

     though at times it may hide,

                                        it is inhuman




                                                not to smolder.





75. Disguise


This day has

                 about it a certain justification

of this much sunshine

                  but the rays have transformed

and become shy:

                   this one masquerades as a chord

pushed from a piano’s false

                    percussion, which is secretly strings

this one is the red relief

                     of sunshine in a strawberry

A transformed ray ready

                    for a mouth.

This one has become a thief

                   you can tell by the way it plays

around that last curl of hair

                    it is just waiting to steal

someone’s heart.





76.  Grace


Humor is a mixture of grace

                   and critical perception.

An apology is a mixture of grace

                   and admission.

Love is a mixture of grace

                    and adoration.


Let me be,

                    my dear,

                                     bathed in your grace.




77. How to Say


The ground grows no food so sweet

              nor (as those who chew rinds will know)



And still for any flavor we all

         in our way must create praise

                 for the day.


The California poppy

           does not need words for this

                  you can simply see


in the way it tilts

              its neck towards the sun

                        it is saying:


I love you,

            I love you,

                   I love you.





[another love poem that mentions poppies.]


For its ability to open

                      like a storm cloud

for its draw on me

                       like the sun on a poppy

for I could count all the birdsong

                and still the tones

and tunes of my heart would

                 play more profuse

for the swing in the arc sub-atomic

                or the curve of the worlds’

faithful moons

                       which are more the metaphor

           of the large and small ways

                       we move endlessly

on the desire

       to be closer

                            to love.




79.  Strangers


[the most social awkward person I’ve met on the street asks for a poem about strangers, and how there are some strangers you wish you could get to know better]


I don’t know who this is

            blasting hiphop with their windows


            across the broad wash

                      of Pacific Ave.

             I don’t know who this is:

     walking cocky with a white

                         spade beard and flat tie.

    I don’t know who this is

          whose dress is charming

          and stockings stylish

          and smile sharp

          and hair enticing

          and walk divine.

So often I would like to know

                   how to know





80.  In the dark


[a poem from an androgynous human being who wanted a poem for her girlfriend, who she fell in love with in a lighting booth while working tech for a theater performance in high school]


Something is blooming in the dark

  of a lighting booth somewhere.  I will stain

  my fingers with the juice of a raspberry

  to show the color of this bloom.


There was no wrath in her.  There is no

   promise of forgiveness, just one heart

     folding open in the dark.   From a girl


like you, for someone like me.

            This is true

                                if history is kind enough

                                         to repeat itself.




81.  Elusive


Grease on the fingertips

                         working at glass,

eggshell in a liquid

                         viscous mess,

broken glass all over

                          the haystack where I search

for the needle all day

                         with the same four bars

of an unnamed tune

                          repeating themselves for me.

The hands on the clock

                           have no fingers.



82.  Mr. Bones panhandles to Santa Cruz


[this poem and 83 were written not by request, but on a day when it was slow enough to just write for myself]


  Everyone here without exept-

ion rattles.  I rattle in

the morning.  By the line

  that waits for Forever

  21 to open.  In the evening

I rattle to the masses

and collect my change.




83.  It becomes the rule of the spirit’s desire


After, their reaction implies

         that I had said something like proposing that I could live

                                                                                                                                 without my bones.

                           A general awe at the thought


      that they were the free ones.


I do not want to play by the rules of bones any longer

        though there are so many who believe.






[an engaged couple who have known each other for 7 months and met at a meditation circle ask for a poem about how they spent a week together after meeting and she “kind of put a magic spell” on him]


If I didn’t know any better


                (if I weren’t still somewhat bolted

                to this world with its appointments

                to be kept and dentists

                to be seen and oil

                to be changed inside real metal cars)


    I would swear it were magic:

                (something harnessed or tweezed

                from sea mist or strawberry

                seeds drawn from a week that

                existed beyond existing)


                                                   this which draws me

to you                                        and makes me close today

                                                   and wish for more closeness

tomorrow, and all days: a wish

      to have you about me, like the mist

               that rolls from the ocean

                         in the morning.





[a man asks me for a poem about his 70th birthday, but he has to go to dinner, so he hands me a business card and asks me to mail the poem to him.  His daughter adds that it should include the themes of “trips, sea turtles, and the American Chestnut tree.”]



I can only hope to have a smile

   on my face fit to compete

  with Sam Kusic’s when I turn 70.


I can only hope to have my heart

   so full of shipsmen ready to set

   rigging and hoist sails for a trip

   as Sam Kusic’s heart when I turn 70.


I can only hope not to be narrowed

   by where I have been.  To avoid falling

   into the false beliefs that my journey

   has taught me all I need to know about

   journeys, I can only hope I am as open

   to the lessons of the turtle & chestnut

   as Sam Kusic when I turn 70.


I can only hope and let time wind around me

   in its whipstitch of sunrises until

   I will be where I will be in 15,436 days:

   I will be as old as Sam Kusic is

   today and (if I am lucky) as wise.






[another Happy Birthday poem]


At your age

  if you were a bottle of wine

    think how they would argue over you.


Then again,

  if you were a wheel of cheese,

    think how fast they would toss you away.


How lucky then

    that you are neither of these things

         but your wonderful singular self.




87.  my socks


I’m a believer

and an advocate of seizing socks

of all varieties: short socks seamed or

seamless, paisley or patterned, prints or

plaid.   I have ample amounts of argyle

to adorn my ankles.  I could salivate for

saucy socks: silk stockings stitched on buttons

pulled up high as a thigh.  Oh socks divine

cinched down to the shins I could slip you

over an instep and toss you into a corner

if you were knit and dry or wet and wool

I would love the sockiness of you.

I could get lost in a box of your

crumpled socks.






[a lesbian couple approaches me 1/2 of the couple grumbles about how I couldn’t write a poem about 1978 (the year they met in santa cruz) because I wasn’t around, the other says she bets I could and encourages me to do so.  They never return for their poem.]


When my bones were negative



                                                          6 years


                 the world still had this:


a wooden

     coaster rolling

          up the spine of the Santa Cruz


&                      the salty breath

                            of the ocean

                                     sprayed from the waves

in deliberate

           angles and mists & also (as you know)

some human spark, some angler of the heart

some pull from some hook and some decades

it took

   for both ends of this ribbon to pull


Hold the gentlest part     

                of your finger right here:

there’s a knot to be tied.






[a woman who has the same name as a lover of mine, asks for a poem for her husband, who has the same name as me…who she describes as a unicorn.]


When the time comes

       and it is the end

                 and the walls of this world

                                 wear thin


maybe then we will be able


                to see it all clearly


a red ribbon taught


                 between us, this hair of all


passionate happiness strung


                   and drawing me

                                 to you.



90. mangled bird


[a woman asks me for a poem about a bird she just saw that had two talons missing from one foot.  She says her favorite poet is Margret Atwood]


I don’t assume it was a fight.

There are many places in this world

                     where one can assume violence.


                     These assumptions are

                     not always true: look at these


scars, this fissure of tissue

I did not fight for, simply lofted


                     The back wheel of a bicycle

                     over my shoulders, grated pavement.


Easy for me to say, after all,

I’ve still got my talons.


But I would like my wings back;

my wings are still missing.

They’ve been missing all these years.





[a poem from a mother to her son as he graduates from film school]


The camera’s lens is only one way

          to view what’s been happening

in this wide and unpredictable world.


Another is to peer out of my own convex

          eye.  There has been too much

passing my vision to fit even into wide


screen.  CUT TO:  You were small and wailed

          and wailed.   It seemed nothing

would stop you.  I cradled you.


Perhaps this doesn’t make you feel proud

         or powerful, but you were so human.

PAN across some 20 years to this


small stage where a young man holds a

          passion for creation

larger than a lens, larger than a screen,

but smaller than my overwhelming pride.




92. the thwarted wanting that leads  to inner peace


All I wanted was a fucking ice cream cone.

    The Ice Cream store told me

               they were sold out

                          (of fucking ice cream cones!)


and that they only had kale.


I considered burning down the store


but decided against it when I realized

         the sentence for even attempted arson

             was likely slightly worse

                 than eating frozen kale.






[a woman asks me for a poem about finding one’s center.  When I ask follow up questions she alludes them all and insists I write my own “my own poem” …about finding center)


I have searched in the exhale

of my body.


I have searched too in its motion

                  in the minds of writers

                        (of mortality various).

                                 I have searched as well


when I did not know I was searching:

                      when washing a dish

                      or standing on

the jagged edge of a bright sleep

                      that refused to come.


It is often there

                                                 I am told.

I have been told many things.

I am just now learning how to listen

as it is one more way

to search.




94.  Granite and Manzanita


[…in the strangest request I have received a couple asks me for a poem about Granite and Manzanita.  I ask them lots of follow up questions]



I have at times thought of myself

                     as brave


but if we are being honest very few

                     things thought of as true


are true.   Paraffin thinks of itself as solid

                     until unzipping flame


traverses its taper.


            Granite may think itself strong


                   until Manzanita runs


                            its fingers gently

                            over the weary mountain and who


is it that has fingers

that have the same affect

on you.




95. Newspapers


[three young women who met while working for the UCSC newspaper ask me for a poem about newspapers, I completely ignore the statement that their collective favorite poet is TS Eliot, because at least 2/3rds of the group seem surprised to learn this fact.]


Look Bill,

                when you quip


    at your characters for not having

    “ate paper or drunk ink”

    you made it damn clear


   that you’ve never worked for a

   modern college

   newspaper                         or else

   you would have said:


   “he hath not considered murdering

   the chief editor, nor hath he

   argued alone in his office

   with a submitted op ed piece.”


Seriously Shakespeare

      get your iambic shit together

and get a better copy editor.




96.  Spontaneity


[after Slug]


We could hang out on the corner

    and throw rocks at people

to more clearly define the line


between random and evil.   Let’s throw match

      sticks at radical preachers

while yelling “repent!” and we’ll see


if they politely ask us what it is

     we’re talking about.  Maybe this is

not exactly what you had in mind.


Maybe more of a hike or a road trip

        or an  OUT THERE flavor

of ice cream.  Whatever it is


  just as long as life

  knows you’re planning

  the kind of curveball

  that will make it look


like a sucker in front of its friends.




97.   For a stolen backpack


[two hikers ask for a poem about a stolen backpack and never return]


There are days when I can believe

                that it is true

that I am large and I contain multitudes.


But it is not a common day

         that I am able to stuff a tent

                 into my mouth and throw myself

                          over my own shoulder.


This is why we need backpacks.

there is no solace in knowing


that thieves will never prosper

true solace lies


                          in my missing blanket.




98.   Transition


[a man in a tight white T shirt and a vest asks for a poem about transition, pays me $5 in advance, and never returns]


I do not see any complaints

          when I look

at bare branches.  In this town


the branches are wiser

          than elsewhere.

All along Pacific


you can see the blooming

            next to those

more solitary.  You could say


“These are bountiful

   and these others: cold.”


But these bare branches

are the wise ones that know

their glorious budding

awaits around a corner

in a sharp turn of time.





[a man asks for a poem for his sick, but recovering wife.  I asked if she was recovering from a surgery or major illness.  “no no,” he replied, “just the flu.”]


The truth is that illness can change

    us the way the sun can change

what you view in a pane of glass.


At the right height and angle

   all you’ll find is a faint mirror

reflecting your face and all that stands


    behind you.  But time rides on

the heels of the sun, sweeping on

     this angle of light until you


     can see right through

     and everything is clear

     and your eyes

     and whole self are ready again


to take in the beautiful day.



100. Guide


[around 7pm a woman approaches me and without asking any questions tells me that I should write a poem about how young people today don’t have any guidance in their life.  I tell her that I can, the poem will take 10-15 minutes and that I’ll be closing up shop in about an hour.  She tells me that she’s going to a movie that will play for about two hours and after that she’ll be back to pick up her poem.  Never saw her again.]


I’ve seen a compass confounded

                    by the closeness

                    of magnets


I’ve seen the wisteria climb

                     any ladder left

                     to reach for


I’ve seen the path of my own

                      tender body

                      reaching forward


                                                     for a guide.


People’s Poetry Grid

May 19, 2013

So there are a number of positions for public and/or performing artists that I’ve been applying for recently.  It’s a new thing for me.  Over the past years I’ve starting thinking more and more seriously about myself as an artist.  Granted, I started writing poems to mess with Dan Schrager’s stewardship of the LSRHS Fountain, but it has been a long and evolving road that has really come to a boil since I hit the Tannery Arts Center.

I’ve submitted two projects in the last month, and I should know within the next two weeks about both of them.  It is really exciting that these opportunities exist for artists in this community, and I feel quite proud of the proposals I put forth.

Most recently I applied for “Libraries Inside Out” through the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz City Arts, and Santa Cruz Public Libraries.  Their 2012 installation was a series of faces pasted in large scale on the side of the library.


For the 2013 Libraries Inside Out project I’m proposing a People’s Poetry Grid.  In the past months I have been writing “street poetry” by bringing my typewriter downtown and writing poems by request on any topic people ask of me.


I have been writing these poems on quarter sheets of printer paper and keeping a carbon copy of each poem for myself.  Because these poems are written in downtown Santa Cruz, and are requested by the people of Santa Cruz, they often have a local flavor and even at times address Santa Cruz landmarks.

I conceived of the People’s Poetry Grid when, after re-typing and photocopying some of my favorite street poems, I tacked the extra photocopies onto my wall.

Later that same evening I was working in Microsoft Excel and the organization of the rows and columns inspired me tack letters and numbers above the poems on my living room wall.  Over the next weeks the grid grew to almost the entire wall.  Friends started talking about their favorites through the coordinates:  “I like F6, and B2” and other friends could locate the poems easily.

Kevin Devaney Poetry Grid Santa Cruz



The Grid expanded and has covered almost my entire wall.  It has (in my humble opinion) its own humble and minimalist beauty.


The people’s poetry grid would cover 3 of the 9 panels of the Library’s outside wall.  Then, through a voting process (this is where the People’s part comes in), the top 6 poems would be scaled up from their original 4.25” x 5.5” sheets to the size of the entire remaining panels.

This is the beautiful thing about poems: they’re cheap.  All I would need would be paper and maybe a new typewriter ribbon, sheets of plexiglass (for protection from the elements) and framing, and I’d be able to produce this People’s Poetry Grid for all of Santa Cruz to enjoy.  I’ll let you know if I get it on June 1st.

I’ve also applied for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History’s Participatory Performing Artist in Residence Program.  I should hear back for that proposal sometime around yesterday.  I submitted the idea of setting up five different typewriters from five different decades, and letting museum patrons type out memories from those decades on the corresponding machine.  Then I would write poems in response to the memories and bind the lot of them into a book available for the museum’s collection.  The title of the project was “give me an excuse to buy all the typewriters I see.”   (kidding)

This is a kind of first taking a swing at being a professional artist.   In my spare time, between running events three or four times a week, volunteering to get this theater built and writing two books.   Seriously folks, it’s hard to hustle this hard when the weather’s so darn nice.  If I get either of these awards the first thing I’m doing is taking a day to go stare at this pretty ocean that I moved across the country to be next to.

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

to find

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.

36. Avoidance

When I want to hide from myself

I slide

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.

38. indecisive

[“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.

41. Scars

[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

a tenderness:

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

pretty quickly

and somehow

felt a little

more fascist.


[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]


in general

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

and layers

of paint are not the only

accumulation of this living

room over the years.

There is also this:

a paintbrush

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).

47.  Lost

[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”]

The bass

is a doom clap

it doubles back

lays down its own

buzz shake

sound.  This I knew already

but then I found

honey dripping

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

just bullshitting

with my friends.

49.  Lovely

[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,

breaking him

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.

51.  Humor

I know

within humor there is always tragedy,

but that which is comic

happens to you

but that same falling piano

landing on me

is tragic.

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

the short

distance between wails

and laughter.

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.

54.  Roadtrip

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

than walking:


reading the arch of a ball which is

paraphrased physics,

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

which is

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

at times.

58.  Relationships

[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.]

You could

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

flatscreen firsthand

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

and drowned

in a case

of cello.

The fiddle is its own

hive but

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

your legs

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

quite small

but beating.

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.


63.] burrito

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

salsa bar

where both

hot and mild

are bottomless

and the chips

never run out.

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

your wick.

Convince me you burn bright.


2. Together

[a couple asks for a poem about a 10 year anniversary.  no favorite poet provided.]


Love me like the sun rises

3650 times:

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

keep them.)

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

a time

clock a punch

card a watcher



of birds


no no I love


I love



I love.




7.  Guide


[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

of magnets


I’ve seen the wisteria climb

any ladder left

to reach for


I’ve seen the path of my own

tender body

reaching forward

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

I inhale,

blow the steam from my coffee

and let the fog clear from me

as well.




[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.



10. define:evaporate


[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:

(here, liquid)

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

flawed song.”

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

wave approaches

the shore


or if we are only the still odd moment

before another

when the spray

is suspended

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

first time.

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.




14.) Abandon

[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’

immortal soul

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


even with

the weight of all these arms.


they only

give me more ways to reach


for another cephalopod’s



that has

been lonely and scuttling


the bottom of the sea, just



for another

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.


The sunflower

overstates its conviction

like a kitten roaring

a lion’s ferocity.


But these are the collected song

of California.

Look at the wide notes playing

in this field.




21. Rules


[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.




22. $


[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

a yacht


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

just                             …be

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

and say:


“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

are illusion.


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,



and know

(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

white light.

I would go blind.


28. Date


[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.]


A giraffe

went on a date with a lemur.

It was unsuccessful.


A koala

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



including yours

right now.






[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”

falls short.





[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

dependent upon


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.




33. Surfing


In the ripcurl of tide

a ride


to shore’s


sand and safety.


Also, in safety there is control

and also boredom


let me sail on this

surf again

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

of a



and the



between the common man

and the brave man is


the common man tries to survive the wolf,

the brave man attempts to kill it.

Tomorrow (FRDAY APRIL 26th!)  come check out this awesomeness

you know, just something I’m working on with the ICA in my free time between booking 16 shows in May and building a new poetry cart (photos to follow soon)