Thursday, November 21, 2013

Open Mike, Week #3

My Poetic Muse sits in a little corner of my brain,
(looking a lot like Katherine Zetas Jones,
in that Zorro movie),
and she gives me bad advice.

That’s partly my own fault.
If you take your Muse out on Saturday night,
load her  up with Tanqueray and Wild Turkey,
and then pay any attention to what she tells you to do?
well then- you’re an idiot.

I want to make money with my words,
I told her. That’s easy, she said-
Write this down on a sheet of paper,
And you’ll make bagfuls of money:

“Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Fill this bag with 10s and 20s.
No dye packets”.

Ha, I said, good joke.
Easy to make fun at the expense 
of a tortured, starving artist, and, wait-
Should I capitalize “Dye Packets” ?

My Muse told me there’s a ton of money
to be made writing poetry.
Just look at the classifieds
in the back of Parade magazine-
Hallmark’s hiring.

Making money with poetry is easy.
All you have to do is come up with
57 words that rhyme with “Anniversary”.
News Flash to my Poetic Muse:
There is not a single word,
in the entire English language,
that rhymes with Anniversary.

Of all the ones I thought of,
the one that came closest? Penury.

But I tried anyway.
Happy Anniversary,
Happy Anniversary?
Happy Anniversary,
Haaappy Anniversary!!

Fuck it.
Rhyme is over-rated.

Finally, after consuming 5 pots of coffee,
and the entire contents of that little plastic baggie
I found in the back corner 
of my roommate’s sock drawer (in 1997),
I lost consciousness at my desk,
and dreamed that giant pink Easter bunnies,
(Rhyming, carnivorous pink Easter bunnies)
were chasing me around the Eifel Tower.

I woke up to find that I’d used my keyboard 
to batter my monitor senseless.
Thanks, ironic Poetic Muse
(who looks startlingly like Katherine Zeta Jones).

Look, I told her, I want to write poems 
that make a difference in people’s lives.
Failing that, I want to write poems that
at least make me happy. Failing that- 
Wait, she said.  Tell me the truth!
OK, I admitted- here’s the truth-

I am going to write a poem that gets made 
into the world’s first poetry-based
Hollywood blockbuster action thriller!
Leaves of Grass? Meet Die Hard Eight.
-He’s back, and he RHYMES!
It will be directed by Arnold Schwartzenager,
and star Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, and-
 dare I hope?
Katherine Zeta Jones!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Open Mike, Week #2

So, last night I read again at Northampton Poetry's Open Mike- a real change-up from last week's piece, this one is titled "Kosovo" -

Our grandfathers built this stone wall-
It replaced a stone wall our great-great-grandfathers built,
around our little town square.
Today, from the safety of this crumbling wall,
I look out at our small, suddenly-empty square,
Where the bullets patter like raindrops on dusty, packed-earth,
And bright pieces of shattered wedding cake,
scattered like snowflakes, melt, in the hot July sun.

This is the square where I teased you and
you made faces at me so long ago;
This is the square where we first kissed,
waking from our childhood slumber
and seeing each other again for the first time.

This is the square where we held each other forever
on that day we said was the happiest of our lives,
before today -today.
This is the square where you lie so still
on that dust-packed earth,
and I crouch behind this wall
and listen to the patter of the bullets.

You always said your raven-black hair
was not black at all,
You said it had streaks and glints of chestnut red,
and you'd get angry that I could never quite see them,
but I can see them now.

And I think, how generous of your hair,
and how like you, to share that red of which you were so proud,
to share it with the dry, thirsty ground
where the red glints lie now, crimsoned splashes all around you,
soaking deep into the soil.

Just wait another moment, my childhood friend,
just wait another moment my grown-up love,
wait a moment while I screw my courage to the sticking place
on this pockmarked and shadowed wall,
wait a moment, and then I will come out and join you.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Some Thursday morning Bookseller Haiku:

Yesterday the book
Was here. Now (sold), it's missing.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Open Mike, Week #1

Last night I stood up during Northampton Poetrys open mike period and read something I’d written. It was a lot of fun, I’m glad I did it. Now I’m going to be even more self-indulgent and post it here. Friends who read my book catalogs may notice some similarity of tone and style -

Your poem is lovely, she said.
Quite charming.

Lovely? Charming?
I’d hoped she’d say moving,
thoughtful, thought-provoking,
intense, insightful, inspired,
brilliant, barn-burner, bad-ass!
You’ve written a poem that would make
Charles Bukowski weep with pride!!!

But lovely?
How about-

It was a poem about a homeless man
who gets flattened like a pancake by a bus
on the 12th street bridge.
Charles Bukowski gently wept.

I wanted that poem to make her
question her beliefs,
fight the system, rage against the machine,
re-arrange all the paradoxes
and go help me save a little baby seal.

I wanted that poem to make her
quit her job as a bank analyst
and dress up in gypsy bohemian caftan
and write rude emails to Ted Cruz.

I wanted that poem
to make us have hot poet sex
on the floor
of T.S. Elliot’s kitchen.

Charming doesn’t get you there.
Charming gets you high tea
in William Wordsworth’s living room.

I dragged out the dictionary
and logged into my account
on Wiki-Synonyms dot com.
I pricked my finger and,
by the light of a black candle,
swore a blood oath
never to rhyme again.

I tore that poem open,
took a pail full of adverbs,
and stuffed that sucker up.
I removed every word suggesting
a color brighter than gray.
I called my cousin,
the career Navy man,
for some evocative words for
interesting bodily functions.

Well, she said,
putting down the poem,
her eyes fixed on the table,
her face the color of unripe dough:
This is- interesting.
Sort of like ... phlegm.

That’s cool.
It wasn’t getting me into
T.S. Elliot’s kitchen,
and the little baby seals
will have to make it through
another winter without us,
but at least it wasn’t fucking lovely.
It’s a start.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013