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.

 

 

 

66.] 

 

[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.

 

 

 

69.

[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

              anguine.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

73.

[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.

 

 

 

74.

 

[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

                                                            Hell

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)

                    bitter.

 

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.

 

 

78.

 

[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

                                     down

            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

                                                  better.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

84.

 

[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.

 

 

85.

 

[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.

 

 

 

86.

 

[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.

 

 

 

88.

 

[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

                                                              old

                 the world still had this:

 

a wooden

     coaster rolling

          up the spine of the Santa Cruz

                                                    shoreline

&                      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

                          together.

Hold the gentlest part     

                of your finger right here:

there’s a knot to be tied.

 

 

 

89.

 

[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.

 

 

91.

 

[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.

 

 

 

93.

 

[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.

 

 

99.

 

[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.

 

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