Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two Trees Before a Porch

Through the bougainvillea, two choke-cherry hued bunches,
pyracantha pomes bowling over the lower branches,
inverted pointillistic candle-flickers,
heavy with the responsibilities of installation,
the art of seeds, hang their loud red-orange collage
under the eaves of their quiet neighbor.

Just two lobes are left in that leafy lee,
as if the tree has shoved through the other
to brazenly show itself hiding, hunched over the fruit
like an old woman cowering in the cold,
dangling breasts unsure they wish to give
the birds their last children, in hope
of hearing once of a distant sprout.

The surrounding twittering makes promises
that the gifts will be eaten, counted, remembered,
but the bush has heard birds before,
with their lives lived in so many directions,
and no heed of who hears whatever they herald.

Only one dog-toothed, thumb thick bougainvillea
runner has color, as it pinks the trellis
and the blue over the bower, high where pyracantha
has yet to clamber thickly after.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What We Make Up

I've been told that prices are fictions,
but costs seem very real.

I'd write you a nice story to live in,
but the fictions are too depressed to play.

I'd hire the real things to stand in,
but the fictions have a union.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twisting an Old Tongue

There isn't any work today,
and there's so much still to do.
A thing depressingly precious to say,
but nevertheless, still true.
For the workers must pay,
even if they're not paid,
and the employers won't hire
'till their net worth is higher,
so the system's all nix
and too expensive to fix,
so there isn't any work today,
and there's so much still to do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Wall's Work

A wall's work is not obvious, they keep so still.
Refrigerators hourly wake to recite
their repetitious resume of droning chill,
Microwaves hire clocks to advertise their site.
Floors oppress the rough ground's usual burgeonings,
ceilings hung flat by magical engineerings
depend on a roof that does all the goalkeeping.
The wall stands. Somehow, the doors get all credit.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Which to Pick?

Butter knives are short and pointless,
serration puts too many points on one thrust,
axes have one sharp end, but get too thick,
pocket-knives are handy, and so always dull.

Fingernail clippers have such limited range,

but scissors, there's a metaphorical tool.
Paired opposing edges, a fulcrum, a handle,
they make a sound when they open or close
and their insides aren't too smart to touch.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Company Store

And what will you buy with your time today?

These are very nice, and of course mandatory.

We take credit. No, I'm afraid we no
longer accept anything else.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Please help me find
work of the unfolding way
help me to survive today
so I can serve tomorrow.

I promise to become,
not just to be.
I promise to make of my pain
only beauty.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Under the Cuts

A late January pruning right to the old wounds
has left the rosebox soil bare to air and sight.

Of all the exposed stones, one champion skipper
floats on a low swell of brown loam,
an imperfect oval proud to prostrate
before his first wide view of sky,
a flat gray for the gray rain
to wash like a new face.

Winter-slow clover fills
freshly homesteaded acreage of sun-patches
now open for the growing in,
one fingernail lobe at a time,
like baby-hands piling up to grip
the new peek-a-boo yellow.

An arc of black tube, main leg
of an above-ground sprinkler,
a back room job found filling in up front,
the loading dock and the maid's entrance
forced to work reception, just a hard, molded hose,
tossed up over concrete, once snuck over the brick-box
wall, now exposed as a mockery of the roots they service -
loops of smooth, unnatural mechanics,
ugly sprawl of function,
their four efficient and only branches
delivering water in their official gunga-din
uniform sprinkler-head plastic hats.

And those few brown leaves,
of all to the fall in the yard,
they alone hit dirt and not the patio
and the promise of a big, green bin;
those few brown leaves
that found their proper death

happily feed the undead
thorn-canes that remain,
as they fatten themselves
for next season's show.

The pocked dirt yawns in the direct, drying light,
tries to remember how to turn itself over.

Friday, January 23, 2009


If smart is a knife,
wise is where to stab.

If smart is where to stab,
wise is who.

If smart is who,
then wise is why
they truly deserve it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What the One-Eyed Man Came to Say

The fantastic makes some ask
why magic should remain the province
of some few,
why the words and other trinkets
aren't enough to unlock the tricks for all.

I, this strange wanderer here,
have come to say
that science is universal, true,
her opposite, of course, is not.
There is no sense in demanding
nonsense to be sensible,
fair, equal-opportunity
or subject to any law,
human, divine, or its own.

Even that fact is not always so,
sometimes the power plays in patterns,
sometimes the magic lovingly follows logic
like a dog.

For a bite, a drink,
and a nap under your roof,
I will sing you my best secret, though.

Every spell lives in the story
of its need, not its use.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Work

a soul destroying voice,
what a wish,
for a mouth toothed and tongued
for the sound

of the pulse of the fist
with the ticket stub in it

of the heartstrings knit
into a tour-date t-shirt

and if not that,
how is it better,
this wish,

to lay bare the listener,
cut through his ear
with a shard of mirror
he's unable not to hear

to surround her skull,
force her resonation
same as any proudly
necessary world

oh, for the sound,
for the secret words
and their pitch and order,
what great work is here,
what accomplishment,
the fine-tuning of
a soul destroying voice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chicken Dinner Wisdom

I reassured my wife of her cooking,
saying variation is a boring thing,
she laughed politely at me
until I said gently, "Truly,
no depth can be measured by turning."

Monday, January 19, 2009

To Snip or Let Grow Wild

Pruning the hedgerow into picturesque prismatic shape
may be socialism, equality enforced for all constituents,
or capitalism, manufacturing purpose for the people.

The linearity evinced might be homespun block-heartedness
or the simplistic hubris of the human hand's handle on things
or the splendor of abstraction at last achieved
after struggling, mindless millennia.

Perhaps the plants huddle over a dream of wall-tall glory
or, shamed by an unchecked month of visibly unkempt neglect,
strain to grow undomesticated slower.

Clippers could be construed as cold-forged order
forcing a shaggy-leafed mystic to conform
or envy keeping her sharp to herself,
as the steadfast wears shabby her only uniform.

One composite rectangle of sun-hungry green,
so stockade-still on those ash-brown, cross-hatch legs,
so many abstractions to answer to.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snakes Do Bite, But Dogs Don't Hiss

if something of all I've larnt
is what you'd call relevant,
it's this,
that if anything is important,
then people arn't.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Since Losing Sense

Dead men sing songs too, I hear,
I walk the block widdershins to listen

but miss

later sandman scrubs out my ear-traps
loosens the drudge in my whorls

tunes the drums to resound for
more lyrical tap and response,

he says

laments and requiems are for life,
the dead prefer light verse.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Be the first to steal these words!
Stack them just so
and call the order yours,
or spend the budget advertising
your deed to your title,

state your quotations,
mark your terminology,
tag your copy
of the right way to say it
with your registered real name.

Be the first to take a stand
upon the freedom of speech for the taking!
Be the first to say you said it first!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Volume Does Not Equal Capacity

I have to pack light today.

I have only one canvas tote
for darkness.

It'll have to be enough,
unless it learns to help,
or carry its own weight, at least.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dead Header

His is a fist full of rose petals.

The softened slap,
the backhand's fragrant wake,

but the knuckles still bone-sharp.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Description from a Yard, not of the Yard

Light is farsighted,
eyes are not.

Sound is slower,
but the foreground
is fadeable.

A chop saw a half block away
dizzies itself screaming,
the unmentionably passe, aloof
jet planes mosey their roaring arc
while passing cars compete
for attention like the younger kids.

One neighbor sorts her trash,
bins become ineptly struck bongos
the other neighbor walks in and out
her backdoor as if she has
some business doing so,
the squirrels clutter the reception
with their journeys,
then the chop saw clear again,
and the clack of cut parts
put to a workbench, then

construction, a jackhammer so
distant it's a woodpecker or
maybe that's a helicopter spitting
rhythm at each side of the city
as it turns and turns over the
traffic report -

and the trumpet-beep of a key-fob's
control of a car-lock, convenience
broadcasted for three streets
on each side of the happily
hurried owner while
the bus complains about the city
maintenance budget, having to stop,
having to start again with still
more weight and no new benefits,

then two men jousting conversationally,
voices walking abreast, points hard ahead,
comparing their sharp sounds
over their sidewalk scuffs,

until a trash collector begins
to syndicate it's performance
over every channel.

The ant on the brick walks as
silent as ever, so small he
needs looking at to be seen.

The leaves fall like token greetings.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Progress and Away

Depth is a direction hard to see in.
Like a roller coaster,
motion doesn't feel like motion
unless you're turning.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Constantly Orange Tree

Ripe-colored no matter the month
they hang unharvested, decorative

like ladies-in-waiting for the queen
to remember she also is a woman.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Keeping It Cheap

Another sufferer it seems
come peddling his well-honed dreams

his field of rivals is quite deep
while they know not that they sleep

Friday, January 9, 2009


is like living in a doorway.

is like a car with one gear
and no steering.

is a needle that needs
threading every stitch.

is a brick on the back
for every stone in the road.

is like being able to fly
only through a window
traveling at the same speed.

is also like light,
gold in the wind for the breathing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Prayer for a Patio

Blow, wind and breed
leaves to people this concrete plot,
deliver the whole family tree,
re-unite the roof-stranded cousins.

Blow, wind and sweep
foliage from the ghettos you've cornered,
repent and spread joyous diaspora
across the lifeless, landscaped plain.

Blow, wind and smooth
loose leaf multitudes into a crackling sea
proper for a son of earth to walk on,
or for wistful eyes to fish in.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Machine Executable

Truncated truth,
pulled tight and quotable,
opinions justified by their columns,

text edited for time and color,
infotainment priced by the polish,
muck brushed with grit to gloss,

every moment complete with joke,
or hook or proper sentiment
or invitation for the thinking
thing to talk back to the paper.

What is the word
for a person who sells their observations?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Little World Growing

A patch of clover
skirts the rose-roots
like a suburb sprouting
in a skyscraper's shadow

modern leprechauns,
commute up to the blooms

and work-a-day
efficiently songless amongst
the might-have-been-honey
and then go home.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Two Couplets

You build windows in glass walls
so I don't have to break them.

I cannot hold closed the door
whose lock you keep your key in.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

House Blend

On a chair dressed in a tablecloth,
coffee helps him imagine a menu
including pumpkin-orange-mocha-lattes
and an affordable future.

The toolbox will arrive at the right age,
the angel promised.
Your point and click wisdom
will be unlocked on level thirty-three.

Everywhere is full,
so pick your desert to walk into
and the inhabitants will gladly
imagine your absence for the return favor.

Coffee is an acquired taste,
he remembers.
Sweet is only the tip,
bitter is a rich array,
such is the existence
tongues were built to discern.

Seeing a crumble tart bought and swallowed,
he wonders if the garden
only had one apple tree.
He wonders what other fruits
were found there before they were lost,
and what sin he would accept as his own
to steal the first coffee-bean,
or whether he should switch to tea
or cider

Saturday, January 3, 2009


a word escapes
the way a bullet misses

a word is used
like the receipt
given with the gift

a word can be broken
like a story, but it breaks
like a wave

a word is heard
like an irritation

the skin must be allergic
to remember being touched

Friday, January 2, 2009

Manufactured Niche

A wicker couch,
bottom reinforced by a pillow
widthwise striped with the red and green that
shadow pretends is on the edges of the weave,
where the black makes an ink-sketch
of an armrest, a backrest,
and the pattern ignored
by every back and arm to rest there.

The foot-wraps are fraying
from so much standing still,
there's a cane out,
once cut by a pretty shoulder blade, maybe.
Fingernails have scraped the thin
cylindrical faces where hand-oil stains
have layered on,
one thing,
this wicker couch,
bought and paid for on one inventory line,
a warp and weft of sticklets
of finite number, surely,
but uncountable
as any contribution to the whole.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Hating your copies is nature's way
of transcending the art of collage.