Monday, March 31, 2008

My mother takes me on tour, saleswoman in tow
my father calls it "the mausoleum," mugs as for FBI
my mouth is shut as though threatened with soap.
The sky above Cougar Mountain glows dull opal.
I remember the winter fort my father and I dug
snow for by the swingset miles west of here. Halo
clouds memory. They're eighty, too late to redo -
downsize first before this move that makes it all
real. Downpayment's next, they've given oral
nods. Its all decisive. I am used to muddles.
Soon we'll Goodwill garage and basement scrap.
My father calls it "the prison" but he's exerted
words as she's made plans. He'll sign the check.
He's lodged his protest, will move and lapse
to late night solitare computer glow. Each atom
wound around its axle spins. This place
a lovely isle "hermetically sealed" he says, etc.
this heaven they have saved so hard to earn
Upscale ski lodge, hospital tucked upstairs it's got
fine dining, health club, library, trendy art glass,
bathroom emergency pull cords shown with tact
its somewhat act this active living while they bide
awee towards death, and yet.

Friday, March 28, 2008

3/28 Sheffer Crossword Poem Draft

I pull it from the oven careful in mitts
when that one's sold paste the red dot
There's better hot water at the spa
we love the Hunt Club but we ate in
Pablo and Pindar immortalized the ode
I profer regrets that everybody has
calf with three legs bound at the rodeo
Bindweed, Loosestrife, Dyer's woad
Sunday in the Park, The Ironers
all who publish are not male
I'd rather spite my nose than coo
Vodka stinger for Elaine, get me a mai tai
Spears to tell it all till she goes splat
cut a figure, up, above, a rug
if I love the book I read the intro
what you've never owned you can't resell
you'll know barbarians by their hoards
hold me tight to your chest don't be a miser
you imagine flute but blat the tuba
fifty ways to leave your habit
the heroes of our film are those who rob
I keep a shrine at home for Owen
condo on the magma in Hawaii
jointed goatgrass, puncturevine, millium
You be Lone Ranger, I'll be your scout
You play Saint-Saens, I stumble over Sousa
this room is empty but not for let
I cannot place exactly what I'm for
nobody warned me at the onset.
Last night the culminating reading for the school I've worked with since 1992. Yes, 1992. Not these particular kids, who didn't exist in 1992. They're fifth and sixth graders - and poets. I handed each a poetic license, entitling them continue to write and revel in poetry. One of the kids came up to me afterwards to check out the meaning of revel. One mother asked, "They wrote those poems?" "Yes," I said. "Except for A.," she said. "He wrote his too," I said. "But you said he memorized it," she said. "He wrote it and then he memorized it for the reading," I said. "I can't imagine those words coming from him," she said, at which point I realized A. was her son. Every year there's one sixth grader who is so truly sad our poetry making/reading time is over she/he gives me a touchingly awkward goodbye speech and hug. Here's what this year's fellow traveler, a boy, wrote and read at the reading:

Ode to Poetry


Ode to poetry
the awesome power of blah
a river of words
leaving people in awe

a picture may be worth 1000 words
but 1000 words is one great picture
cutting, crafting, working words
make a wordily overture


Poetry is an art as some might agree
true poets that is to a certain degree
but my goal is, surely you'll see
to make other people believe like me


Poetry is fun
it isn't true poetry
if it isn't fun

Discipline is key
strong nouns, strong verbs, strong writing
rhyme sometimes won't work

Come With Me

Come with me
to the place
where there is poetry
don't grab your keys
you're already there


there it is, that's it
I know that that was short
but I was kind of hoping
you'd be the poetry sort

in the humongous hole of poetry
I've only shown you a dimple
it may look just like building words
but I can tell you, poetry isn't simple


Here's the poem the mom didn't recognize as her son's:

My Mind

My mind is a mass of incandescent gas
a giant nuclear furnace
where hydrogen turns to helium
with a temperature of 17 degrees


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

as Hamlet knew to be is not to do and
if you've gone behind the shed
you know what clings to you like odor
unless you're alpha dog, a Leo
honey bees desert the hive
you left the door wide open
your missing eye won't make you Odin
all that staggers in your stead
cacophony begins with gavels
we claim too many gods to seat
you're not the princess and the pea
emir bowing to the east
which brings us to the vole
we are the proles with tails to wag
mucking lodges as they ski
for all our thorns we won't meet Herod
Caspar Milktoast Mitty not one ace
Used Fleetwood Prowler bachelor pad
Ramen fills the cart not orso
ground-bound as emu
we've no Aunt Bea or Opie
doff porkpie or fedora
you will never reign as champ
a perfumery of leis
did not turn you someone else
you have a turn, it's not the end.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Received an email from a colleague (with an mfa in poetry btw) that included the phrase "we're fast encroaching on national poetry month" and I think to myself jezus h god in a lampshade why the fracking he#(* do I take seriously the rejections I get when supposedly educated supposedly language loving people don't take the time and brain to use our language with attention. I know this person was not writing tongue in cheek nod nod wink wink but earnestly. I'm a little disheartened. Do I have an audience? Can they read?

I spent two hours this morning looking for a place to take five or six poems. A couple of weeks ago I sent 16 poems to Alaska. They said they wanted up to twenty. I send work every Saturday and look forward to it, which is funny, given that in past years I've sent a flurry once every six months unless someone asked me to send them work or someone local had a cool/funny/weird submission idea - tee shirts, bookmarks, bus placards. With sending work every week, it doesn't matter if one week I have a brain fart and send strange poems or poems inappropriate to the journal, because the next week I'll be sending somewhere else so the stakes aren't as high as when I was throwing poems to the one and only wind I could ever trust I could generate - would I build steam a second time in the year? I couldn't trust that I would. I circled contests in Poets & Writers and sent with thousands of other desperate once or twice a year submitters. I felt prostrate. I get excited now, thinking about who I'm going to send to, about what I'm going to send. Maybe some journal - I'm sending to many more now that I don't have to do it all at once - will take my work. If not, at least a lot more undergrads are reading my work.

3/22 Sheffer Puzzle Poem Draft

When the rains come, he marches us two
down the squelching trail . The view
is stunning but the stench has me rapt.
The brain is wider than the dust bin
and all the world's a bell jar
its so dark we dare not stare to sky.
Before the wonder bra, before the lei
all that's grim that will come after
he steers by sextant and weathervane
we live on hardtack and pesto
there are no tracks to put an ear
to. We believe in radius and ulna.

Friday, March 21, 2008

3/21/08 Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

Caveat-Containing Epigraph
you gotta read these babies fast cuz I'm yanking them from the site
as I revise and send them out into the vast poetry-in-print universe
for I do believe I do believe

up the rutted trail tromped the laden ass
musical with metal pots not even a tail to wag
prehensile ears heard grins on every face he met
but that's a portent for another age
like Egypt's fall involved a viper
we've had court cases and president for ape
and no one sweet as Jack to Rochester
cars toddle through potholes as we sit
we count comets with our toes in Yukon
flash our gold encrusted sash
we've been there too
up through the crenellated pine
we gotta leap or fester
gather rosebuds to our chests or plunk
piano in dingy parlors, taste
cardboard or cardamom, the jester
laughs at you pal
seven league boots across the seas
jeeze dive into it with all our mites
the strobe light's lit we've got the stage
greens in our teeth, berries now for Sal
Dostoyevsky peels another onion
it's awful quiet under sod.


Floating Bridge Press has come out with a double anthology of Washington State poets for their tenth anniversary - a "best of" section of poems from the first nine years, and the selected poems for year ten. My poem, nothing to hold onto, is included! They have also published an anthology of poems from Metro's poetry on the buses project, which you can buy at the same site. Mine, from 1999, wasn't chosen. Wah. But still.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Literacy Night at HIMS last night. I got all the little anthologies produced for three classes - including the one which has two books in one, each upside down to the other, and not the same number of pages, and with COLOR photos of the kids reading their poems so that the stakes were frickin high at Kinkos when I pushed that copy button. I ended up having to purchase a long armed stapler for $32 bucks, but there's a scam everywhere to keep you coming back. At Kinko's there's the educators discount of 15% to lull me into spending $200 on spec, hoping for reimbursement (I know now IS coming,) and at Office Max by I-5 in Wallingford (pass Open Books and wave at John and Christine,) their come on is that if you, an educator, sign up on line for their program, you get money added to your account for next time. There will, I know, be a next time, so I'm in, but I much prefer the cleaner percentage discount rather than the buy more get more later American way idea.

Speaking of the American way, I have not heard Obama's entire speech on race, but what I've heard rang so calm-headedly honestly true I was elated. Nobody in politics has talked this seemingly frankly about race in forever. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in a different era and with different goals (and was a PREACHER.) David Horsey's political cartoon in this morning's PI hit the heart of the matter, Obama calling for whites to give up their security blankets of prejudice and racism and blacks to give up their security blankets of rage and resentment.

Monday, March 17, 2008

3/8 Sheffer Puzzle Poem Draft

Life was easier before we were woken
vertical energy of the a-frame
nobody fussed was it truth or virago
except for Iago who was, this is a bracer,
real only on stage or in escrow
loggers boistrous with lagers
if you were in town you rooted for our team
and wood nymphs wandered Aden
before our lives were writ
but to return I'll need an aide
someone more loyal than son or sib
who I might like more than Ike
onto the stage strides Obama, balm
euphony from start to ciao
we scratch that seven year itch
and twitch for sonny to begone. Maids
and lads we want to scream out yes
for years have laid low
quagmired in Cheney's eddy
history pronounces worse than sad
and none of us can hide
we used more om's than ohms
to resist, want new iconic
mystery to raise and make up
for Hoss and Joe we need the Greene
man with that Spencer energy
ah to be legendarily herded.

here's why political poetry is awful.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You gotta love JP Patches if you grew up in Seattle - there's a project to put up a statue with pavers all around to celebrate him. If you recognize any of the following, you gotta contribute:

Patches Pal
The City Dump
Ketchikan the Animal Man
Miss Smith

Chris Weems, the man behind the clown, is dying of cancer. Crap.

Friday, March 07, 2008

3/7/08 Sheffer Crossword Puzzle Poem Draft

Anticipate and act all day
coil tightly like a snake or perm
remember phone dial
pull on finger, New Haven
where you saw your father laze
your dog at heel, collective allele
your answers don't lie aft
set type, your els and ems
be braver than you're craven
bring on those midnight beads
smuggle in the answer key
green acres broad as Eva
Scotch as steelcut oats
Mother of Berries before the lid
slides to I'll bet the pair
we've every red print Ace
Give me this day my daily pen
the value's in the dally
in the valley we'll be shaven
and run away from her
but that is neither plum nor egg
you've time to yack in Yakima
it's all immediate, slow down, shag
your poker face grave as raven
you really ought to give Iowa
a nod or quarry from your hunt
hammerhead of sea or peen
say unto others yes and yeah
for what you reap you've got to sew.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

3/6/08 Sheffer Crossword Poem

A flicker plies phone wire. Air blower blats nigh -
bird lifts, peanut cheroot, wire twanging from the sag.
If I were a real birder I'd memorize mohawk or tam
chant genera et cetera. That's not my area.
This entire opening a ploy
to lull you we're observing spring biota
while underneath I've got Tim Burton
his Zappa hair but you don't care I'm not your mom
in spring at school I penned immolation, ossify
admired tattoos and tights and all the blazing glaze
that meant exempt to
not accept the wheel
that's life. I was on the outs
with every oven's pie
remote as Alps
(which may not be how would I know?)
hills and dales I refused to go o'er
in those old smelly springs ere
have a good day sent me semi
comatose. I never tongue kissed LSD.
This isn't about me you know
Jesus wanted me for a sunbeam but I'm a comet
that with luck will fizzle through dark not an
April afternoon oblivious fauna
humping as I orient
for flashy burn which is our
Millay though Ms. McGraw
faded fair in love
I would not be her muling heir.


You can still get my book nothing to hold onto on They also carry In My Life: Encounters with the Beatles, which has a personal essay of mine in it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We gathered all the baskets but forgot about the eggs.
the kid on the hillside with the ewes renewed his sos.
water bottle spilled across my skirt, some become alar
but I'm among the stung ones hoping for a moment alee
before the ratcheting paw
a day in the shade in Napa
another risible ruminate.