Friday, March 27, 2009

Yusef Komunyaaka: The Voice
oh that's what I didn't hear in his poems,
the warmth and many harmonics sound
he makes with his chest and vocal cords.
He said his poem, "Anodyne", lifted head
out from the book wings, eyes closed,
and intoned his body love, this poet
who gave us the whine-bone in kindness
who Rebecca Hoogs introduced as
poet of accretions and additions
who sounded Bogalusan, Louisianan,
bluesy and much deeper than smart.
I'd only before known him as smart.
I closed my eyes, my ears drank tones
rocked in the arms of his poems.
(which are not easy-sweet my dear.)
A poem has to have content he said,
though he believes in vibrancy, will
speak about Phillis Wheatley, at
Callaloo at Washington U. Public
poet by twenty, dead before thirty two.
What do I have to show for my years?
How about you?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Live Imperfectly With Great Delight

Daily Crossword Puzzle Poem (Sheffer, with the PI, is no more - at least on newsprint)

Ah sing to me of Cuzcos and of Limas
holy cities that to climb to abler
make it first. That's how it be. Ah bee
ah ant we celebrants do adore
thee also common sense took Paine
and he gobbled up the task, T Rex
of Americana. We bear witness,
give due to them that did or a
few who born to did not but were sane
(see Paine) and so sir octopus we begs
with our friend Nash. We love heroic
the stoic who lashed to spar
heard the beauty and did not die.
We worship command and master
and those who are faster. Toil at
the tedious they do not. They trot
and do not see us see the aster
in their button hole. Their reins
we've softened with our teeth
we live to worship then are gone.
Their deeds live on in texts dense
with unabated glory. Are we glad?
Ah yes we sing of him who opts in
and clank our casks of tepid ale,
smudges in the pub scene, tired.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Flight From
for Icarus and Yusef Komunyaaka

Equilibrium is deadly dull
and when Icarus was young
he longed to loose labyrintine
rocks and hurl himself a path
across the sea. His father
the engineer balanced desire
with deeds, and as we know
Icarus did not heed his warnings
for his boyish greed for sky-high
play that repeats his story
still today.

for Lucille Clifton

Heel of my hand for backhoe
I scoop ants and flatten them,
swirl their ruined corpses
carelessly under the tap.

Spontaneous generation upon generation
spills in a single clandestine thread
along the baseboard from the door --
no matter that I kill some here come
more and more and more.

for William Butler Yeats

For I will arise and go now
to a cabin by a shore
where grape vines twine
through an arbor with a view
evenings loud with crickets
and nothing much to do.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Off to see the Lenin statue in Fremont today with a passel of sixth graders if a passel is twenty-some. We'll experience the statue with our five senses, writing from each of them for three minutes. We'll experience a Lenin statue presentation from aka which will further inform our poetry. Poems can be free verse or haiku or pantoum or nine line process poem style. The weather with luck will be dry enough that the words won't blur on the pages as though we wrote through tears, though through tears might be appropriate. How much do I tell them about Lenin the revolutionary leader who proved to be impervious to the suffering of his people? Do I tell him about the Moscow Red Square mausoleum where Shawna filed past his shrunken corpse wearing a red nightgown? We will eat lunch, 3" slices of sub sandwiches, apples, chips, juice boxes. We'll walk-hike-skip-bounce-lag our way from school to Fremont. Will we have time to stop by the Troll for comparison? Compare and contrast was quite large as a literary tool when I was in school. Isn't that what we mostly, naturally do?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Saw Jane Hirshfield last night - alighting from a car outside the Gibson Gallery in Seattle - the instantly recognizable hair. Inside the gallery where the reception was, she didn't need the nametag she was offered. I wore mine, with a little flag of cutout debris sticking out until Felicia Gonzales removed it for me. It was fun to be asked to come, and to talk with Jane and with Clare Molesworth who used to work at SAL but is now a practicing attorney! Yay! I remember her telling me that when she got to law school she "was excited to find so many people who think like me!" Here are some more !!!!'s. There. We're done. Oops, one more. I gave Jane a little book I made of poems written by some of my 8th grade poets at Hamilton incorporating lines from her poems, which she clutched to her chest and squirreled away in her bag!

Her reading style of hyper-enunciation which had turned me off on the online video did not detract from her poems in person. I like her, I like her poems, I enjoyed her reading. And that's probably enough with the I as well.

Rebecca Hoogs, the fashion front for poetry in Seattle, wore a sprightly gray dress with a skinny slip of a sweater with prominent round clasps and rasperry tights with gray heeled pumps to emcee. (Obviously she looked terrific.) Kathleen Flenniken's 5th grade student Michaela read her metaphorically veined poem to start things off. Michaela wrote that she felt like a cake topper set in her favorite place. One of my students will read something to begin Naomi Shihab Nye's second reading on May 8 in this series. Will it be the Palestinian-American girl who loves Naomi Shihab Nye? Stay tuned.

The q&a section began with Rebecca opening a water bottle and asking Jane if she wanted some. "Cheers" Jane said, they clinked plastic cups, and Jane settled back in her chair. "You didn't know; it's gin," she said. "Who knew Jane Hirshfield was so wild?" Rebecca said breezily to the crowd, and the q&a was off.


What counts are not the thoughts but acts,
Who were the first to cache their bras?
Will you run pall mall across the Abbey?
Asking me for $2, she says she makes a meal
with something like top ramen very hot, each
bowl "guaranteed to keep me warm" I quote.
Outside the auditorium a woman asks, which
did you see? She's looking at the sympony, two
posters - very grand - I saw the poet, ye gods
disappointment as she waited for the bus.
Bernie Utz Hats - man atilt in the doorway divot
settling in for the night, he jumped a little as
I jumped, delicate dance of privacy by urban
display. Is this a permanent wave
new Hoovertown between third and sixth?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Does anyone know if Ayda Al-Jahani is still in the running for best poet title on "Millions' Poet" the Abu Dhabi TV reality show? She (yes SHE!) made it to round 3 - A Beduin woman who resisted pressure to quit, whose husband supports her, and whose poems celebrate womens' value. See the video on YouTube. There are TWO reality shows with POETS competing for prizes on Abu Dhabi TV - The Prince of Poets as well as Millions' Poet.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Equilibrium like comfort can be deadly
dull. When Icarus was young he
longed to topple it -- loose labyrintine
rocks and hurl himself a path
across the sea. His father the engineer
balanced desire with deeds and
as we know, Icarus did not heed his
warnings for his boyish greed for
sky-high play that repeats his story today.

Monday, March 09, 2009

for Buddy Wakefield

Pretend the 6th graders in this room have the power
to slash lies with their pens.
Pretend they can use this power even when their
super suits are at the cleaners.
Pretend you can do the math and multiply this room
to get 7 billion.
Pretend every one of the 7 billion is writing a poem
right now - the whole entire planet - grammas
and tiny tiny babies bent over notebooks with the truth
spilling across unlined paper in every color you've
ever imagined.
Pretend we strung a line and hung every single one
of these fact sheet truths on that one line and that
we spent the rest of our lives reading them - time out
for community gardens, fishing, learning folksongs
around campfires - then back to the clothesline. All
our lives. Every written word, every rising sun heard.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I'm trying to embed fonts into a .pdf file, and this is way way out of my comfort zone, skill set, and identity profile. I look up tools on the internet, then I go downstairs and make tea. I chew the inside of my cheek. This is not helping anything, and it will be embarrassing for the dentist to notice, which I'm sure he's already noticed and politely not said anything. What do you say? "Hey, I notice that not only do you grind your teeth. but you also chew into the sides of your face - should I make you a permanent tooth guard? No big deal, we'll just have a j-tube installed into your stomach for eating, or I guess you could suck through a straw, though I'm a little worried what damage you could do to yourself with that."