The Daily Palette
My Earliest Poem
Lazarus (a poem) - NOTE: opens in new window
Thumbs up to heartache
In Art We Trust:
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Paradox
Blue bird, blue bird
take me away
to a land where things
are far from grey.
A land where things
are nice and quiet,
a land where no one
makes a riot.
Blue bird, blue bird
you've been so kind,
take me away
to the land
that's on my mind.
*I composed this poem when I was ten. For the record, my childhood was idyllic, spent in the lush suburban wonderland that laces New York's Hudson River Valley. My backyard was a forest. Still, I had a Snoopy Brusha-Brusha Toothbrush. A Spirograph. Lincoln Logs. A Lite Brite. Friends! A St. Bernard. My Holly Hobby Oven kept me occupied (or more accurately, mesmerized) for hours on end. Visits to the local library were frequent, and long, and every mad dash I made into the childrens' book section conjured the sensation of Christmas morning. I do not recall looking at birds.
Sammichele di Bari
The non-chance glances
of the old Italian man
who keeps riding by
on the world’s most battered
bicycle do not in any way
creep me out.
They might, in some other town,
on some sorry-we’re-closed side
street stumbled upon
in the unplugged hour of a neon night, time-
keeping dream teams lost in
transfixion, bros who know the score hashtag
you’re it one bar three bars two
bars hey pretty lady but not
inside this corridor,
dignity is the decision made,
again, by the Puglian dawn. Prima luce…
sparata… onto cold medieval stone
and that man is wearing a pin-striped
suit as he chariots a loaf of bread
inside a threadbare basket fastened
to the arc of two tarnished bars
he handles with a sincerity
I may never know.
I wonder if he stood in that crescent
of brass-playing gents
who crescendoed right through
the midnight moon.
Perhaps he played the tuba.
It was a dusty window
that I peered through.
Falling in Love in the Middle-Ages
(When You Were Born in 1970)
Silly little smart phone
- - shit! - -
slipped onto stone.
I am eligible for an upgrade,
but it’s enough just to know,
and stone feels like
home these days, anyway.
And it still works, anyway.
What doesn't kill you
gives you scratches,
makes a knee purplebursted
and those are two mating Monarchs
I might have otherwise missed.
This, I told you, through the phone
that slipped onto stone,
and you spoke slow,
of things below,
and the sky, it broke,
the jewel of worth-it-all
unearthed between us and yes,
I can hear you now.
Yes, as sun and moon
split the unlimited minute
here and now,
affirm your tone.
Ground and bone,
fixed, in the azure abracadabra
of love’s rotary unknown.
A Rooftop in Dubuque
is, apparently, where I’ll be, later tonight.
Given my current coordinate,
I suspect it will be 7:45-ish when I arrive
at the house that the new friend I made
last weekend on that bridge over the Wapsipinicon
gave me the address of. 7:47 is anybody’s guess,
but I suspect that label-free bottles of red
and snacks scattered about in artisan bowls
we’d never use were we eating alone
will be within eyeshot by 7:48. It’s summer,
no need for that business with the coats.
I’m told fireworks are slated to appear,
and there’s a pool if I want to bring my bathing suit.
But I don’t own a bathing suit. Not these days.
If I’m making time for anything these days, these
who-knew’d shoeless why-be-gone days breathed
beneath a sky that tries forever on for size with every dawn,
it’s doing nothing. And anyway,
I’m more of a feet-dipping, wine-sipping kind of gal.
There you go, bios
of all those well-known poets out there going strong
thinking big writing smart (read:
Ow.) poems with misdirected cameos by pronouns
and mosquitoes, poets who have published
volumes of poems and live, currently, in towns
where they work hard at poet things and know, mostly,
Here you go.
My life with that bridge and those bowls and that wine.
My broke but not broken state.
My Iowa my New York told me to go to.
My once upon a desk inside the home of two
benevolent friends of my pen but anyway where was I,
pen? Oh. Yes. 6:36. Shit. I still need to stop and get
the gas that I will pay for with a check memo’d you betchya
but first I’ll get this down so I can work on it
later if not sooner
if not ever, or if sky.
Walt Whitman Practices Holding Up a New York Deli
You!—grab that tiny crate of clementines—you!—
Hand me that deodorant—no!
Make it a tomato. Yes! That big, slightly rotted one,
And while you’re at it, dip your notions of hope into that Sabra hummus.
Also, take off your clothes. Have a seat.
Let’s talk of moles! Everything is headline news when you
Think you are about to maybe be dead––come on, people––cool it!
Remain calm! Compose your soul before you do or do not die, let’s
Sweep the nation into that dime-store dustpan
and speak only of dreams while we still can!
Of moles! Ants! Cracks in the sidewalk, in faces, there’s one in everything!
Listen. Nobody make a peep.
To the roof!––let’s go. Bring your multitudes, we’re not coming back
You there, with the pungent pits I beseech thee, king,
Undrape! And you, there,
There is e’er among us, a you,
Impotent, loose in the knees,
Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you,
Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets,
I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare,
And any thing I have I bestow.
That’s right Everyone!––Look alive! Atoms!
Strangers in boots!
Look as alive as you can
and nobody gets hurt.
As I lean forward to kiss the tip
of the nose of this regal creature
who just carried me inside the
cradle-crescent of his back
for three hours—
the weight of my bones
as four rusted talismans
nailed to his hooves
took on hillside after hillside,
creek after creek,
broken meadow after hinterland trail,
and then, finally,
that wide dirt road,
all so that we’d end up
right back here,
here inside this
a stone’s throw
from a rooster’s comb,
no fertile plain settled,
no destiny manifested,
no stars named,
dustier versions of ourselves,
but just us, standing here,
back where we started—
I can’t help but think of
and of my father,
and before I even have the chance
to wonder why they come to mind,
I am lifted onto that pony
in Wildwood, NJ,
and I am four,
and the man with the camel-hump hat
who took the money
is barely holding the rope
just ahead of us
as we pulse,
three times around is all we get,
so I will savor the third time, especially––
the ferris wheel in silhouette,
the sand a fiery orange
the sun the moon the stars the water––
and as we make our final circuit,
with a smile that may never be duplicated
I trot back towards my parents
who are sitting and watching
from the white wooden fence,
dad beneath “Pony”
mom beneath “Rides”
just like last summer
they sit and they wait
for me to return with my tale,
only, I leave
the best part out,
the part where I am forty, and unsure
about the rent, it’s great
to feel your passion, it’s so
inspiring that man at the packed concert last night
or back on that beach said and as he
lifts me off the saddle,
I close my eyes
and here I am,
settled once again
inside this golden barn,
here, inside this sanctum
I may never enter again,
I tender my lips to this bridled being,
and so, to a heart
fifteen times the size of mine,
and with a gratitude too vast
for even the Black Hills of South Dakota,
I whisper thank you
and tell Showdown I will
see him again
as particles of matter glisten and orbit
in the sun’s last ray of the day,
the way they might do
in the gleam of a movie projector
or a searchlight.
Room in New York, 1932
Dear Mr. Hopper,
I know that you died in 1967,
but as I stand here riveted
by the pureporcelain landscape
you have illuminated
and draped across
that woman’s right arm
all the way up
through the arc of her neck
and into the eclipse
of her low-lying gaze,
you are not dead, really.
I just wanted to write
and let you know
that I am quite sure
would have been
had you captured that woman
alone, as you have,
at the upright piano—
her stance remote,
skewed yet stable
atop a small
the weight of a day
of a thought
of a word, unspoken
all at once released
and then relinquished
into the transparent tapping
of a middle C.
But that you would
impose that man
into this urban diorama,
hinge him in that armchair
opposite that stately table
and slant his firm frame
into a leaf-through
of the daily news,
is to have altered
of not only
I shall work hard
the poetry I see,
the truths I imagine.
Those hues best fit
for lit interiors.