Sunday, July 30, 2006


They say the peanut isn't a true nut,
Not like my first girlfriend, who rescued me
From dullness, calm days, and obscurity
By bringing me a half-Dalmatian mutt
(Part collie, part Alsatian, part pork butt)
Who, finding his own way to living free,
Slammed gracelessly into the neighbour's tree,
Which, then beyond all salvaging, was cut.

The public, shocked and ill-prepared to meet
With fate in this disguise, in canine form,
Preferred to call him names: Bull, Hardhat, Storm,
And much was said about our shady street
Becoming sunny. I admit defeat –
Young Peanut now lives where he's safe and warm.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Like a Sonnet

It isn't cumbersome to write this way,
In spite of what you're told. The metre runs
Like normal speech, and if I wanted puns
Or ambiguity, that's mere child's play.
The main thing is to write what you would say,
But concentrating, like a thousand suns,
On hitting where you aim. Like gatling guns,
These verses have a tendency to spray.

So that's the octave done. Now comes the part
That's harder: make the sestet. Like a hat
That fits right, a sestet may not lie flat
If everything's not working at the start.
Then rhyme and metre help you learn by heart
What should be in your head. Something like that.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The End of Everything

I was exfoliating with a friend
And popping mouthfuls of assorted pills,
Accompanied by smoked meat, slaw, and dills,
When she did something she did not intend:
She talked to God. That should have been the end
Of everything, but I just have to lend
An ear when she discusses these new thrills,
How she sees prophets on the windowsills
And angels in my hair. I have to bend.

I don't believe in God. An atheist
Would say, however, that I'm dithering,
Expecting angels to descend and sing.
Well, something fell, with a hell of a twist
And, weeping, mashed its face against my fist.
That should have been the end of everything.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Forest Home

The window wasn't open, but the sky
Was visible through leaves and rising smoke.
The clouds stirred, and she heard a bullfrog croak
Out by the shade trees, looking for a fly,
Or wishing his true love would have come by.
No one came by. The moon rose, and she woke,
Her heart as empty as the words she spoke
Forgiving him, which only made him cry.

There was a flash of lightning, and she stood,
Just staring out the window silently.
The memory of insufficiency
And harm dismayed her. She knew what was good.
Three things appeared before her: a red hood,
An armoire, and a severed artery.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Natural World Like a Machine

I can't believe this weather that we've seen
For nearly fourteen months here: winter, spring,
Then summer, fall, and winter following
As if the natural world, like a machine,
Has cycles. Shouldn't summer intervene
Right now? Or is the new spring gathering
Its strength to leap, an unexpected thing,
Into the world again? What can this mean?

I'd heard that primitive societies
Believe the sunrise, always in the east,
Can be predicted, and they hold a feast
To celebrate midsummer's short night. Please!
This is the stuff of first-rate parodies,
Or tragedies, or guessing games at least.

Friday, July 21, 2006

We Are Expressive

We are expressive, but excessively,
So much so that our friends start to complain
It causes them unnecessary pain,
Exasperating them, when they can see
We only say those things for symmetry:
It evens out the karma, soothes the brain,
Drops down from heaven like a gentle rain
Unstrained, and unrestrained, glad, bold, and free.

What do we know but empty words and sighs?
When were we happier than yesterday?
How will our friends prove everything they say?
Who claims our deepest feelings are all lies?
Where did these jokers learn to proselytize?
Why do we wave our arms about this way?

Monday, July 17, 2006


Watch out; I'm going to install this jack
Directly in your head. You'll notice things:
The way your eyelids flutter like the wings
Of a migrating butterfly on crack,
Which way a knife is pointed, shades of black,
How you can make out the crazed mutterings
Of ravers in the street, why a bird sings,
And whether time moves forward or slips back.

My heart is filled with love and wonderment,
And surely, when I give my chest a clout
To tenderize it, with a sudden shout,
"Take care," I'll be both glad and penitent:
The world, crowded with charm and incident,
Will come alive for you tonight. Watch out!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

While Others Slept

We went out yesterday, while others slept.
So early in the morning, with the sun,
We rose and watched the dew as it was spun.
We heard the songbirds when they laughed and wept
And entertained the worms that squirmed and crept
Across the lawn, when day had just begun.
We hollered, jeered, and thought of everyone
Sleeping in warm rooms, dusty and unswept.

Make haste! Make haste! Deliver up your days
And wring your nights dry of disaster's thrills,
Exploit the river valleys, mine the hills,
Fill up your pail with gemstones, rocks that blaze
With hopes and wishes. This is just a phase,
This heartless chase. Now throw away your pills.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dancing Alone

I danced alone, and found myself in tears,
Waiting for you to take me in your arms
And shelter me from struggles and alarms,
Help me to hide from danger, which appears
Too suddenly for my weak heart. Your fears,
Under control, seem more to me like charms
Than burdens, warding off unseemly harms
And chasing ghosts, until the dark sky clears.

I treasured your companionship, the dew
Rising around us when our paths first crossed,
How you insisted you were tempest-tossed,
But I saw wonderful, bright things in you,
So various, so beautiful, so new.
I danced alone, and was completely lost.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Inexact Things

How much change do you need before it's spare?
What makes the world go round? Who made it so?
Were you still hearing sounds six months ago?
Was someone's nephew turned into a bear?
Is cleaning antique brass a cold affair?
If something must go on, and not the show,
What must it be, and how would people know?
How safe are houses, and who's living there?

When Noah heard the rain and built the ark,
What reasons did he give you? Was he clear?
Are dust motes floating in the atmosphere
Still drenched? Have all these questions hit the mark,
Though not exactly? Do you feel a spark?
How long has everyone been standing here?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Admiration of the Virgin

Inventive in your use of tragedy,
I bow to your expressive choice of chance
As explanation of the grim advance
Of glaciers and the sad, thin threnody
I hear behind each word you say to me.
I don't believe in fate, but happenstance
Fails to explain too much. You look askance
In my direction, coolly, savagely.

Your attitude towards me is intense
And negative, but I don't mind a bit.
I don't regard your words as holy writ,
And sometimes you speak just to give offence:
You call me shallow, cunning, small, and dense,
But that's all true. I've got the hang of it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Forever isn't long enough for me.
Merely to never hear your voice again
Or have to see that liquid glance of pain
Before you deign to share your misery
By detailing your woes, so carefully,
Would keep me happy through a year of rain
And torment from my other friends. In vain
You praise my failings; that's just casuistry.

So by the time forever's come and gone
I'll still be watching for your famous pout,
The one where you look rather like a trout
Exploring for a perfect spot to spawn.
After forever, some new sun may dawn,
But if it shines on you, despair wins out.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Science Poem

It's not just evolution under fire:
The whole establishment of science seems
A sitting duck. Believe Jesus redeems
Your soul? You've fallen in a stinking mire
With brown swamp rats, the best of whom aspire
To do some good, the worst eat broken dreams.
They fight off biochemistry in teams,
And leave you less air than a popped car tire.

Yes, adding two plus two still gets you four,
But how does that help? Standing there, po-faced,
They claim technology has been disgraced
By its refusal to acknowledge more
Than quarks and waves. I'm feeling hot and sore,
Since (everyone knows) I'm still carbon-based.

Monday, July 03, 2006

At the Bar

I do believe you said that, I'm afraid.
I'd like to say I don't, but yes, I do.
I've heard worse things before, but not from you,
And not while sober. Those remarks you made
Were not about the wine, or the wine trade:
They were the wine, debating, talking through
Attempts to slow you down. You know it's true;
Your face has turned some sort of scarlet shade.

You've spent too many evenings at the bar,
Told all those stories, and traded on fear.
My heart is open, and my mind is clear,
So when we talk about the way things are
I never pander, stoop, or go too far.
And my opinions aren't on trial here.