Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Poem of the Day #30


We were driving; no, ballooning.
We hover over the train tracks at sunset, out by Laguna.
BNSF half-mile long, cars hauling uranium, no, coal.

We land in the casino parking lot.  Mostly old people
inside, but some young ones, where money is traded
for expectations of dreams. 

Six thousand dollars is counted out to one woman
in cash, hundreds. Time to get out of here.  City lights
are a distant flicker on the horizon.

We float east and the train is still there, now motionless.
I think of my parents, they would like this adventure.
They sleep three states away, distant. 

Dreams so deep they won't remember
the journey when they wake up in their room.
The pilot gives us a shot of propane.

We rise, reaching;
content to drift,
silent at sunrise.

This is my final poem for April poetry  month.  I grew up with my dad and brother being railfans and into model railroading. Every time I pass a depot or train museum I'm conditioned to stop. While driving on I-40 west of Albuquerque towards Acoma Pueblo and Grants I've seen long trains. I don't have a photo, but the one here will have to do. I combined my love of hot air ballooning with trains in this poem.

Poem of the Day #29


At three a.m.
the moon knows
the truth.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poem of the Day #28


Cactus sprout new shoots
and the park with green grass is comfort
for families with kids playing on swings
guitar music floating on leafy trees
young couples embracing on blankets.

My satisfaction of planting herbs on my front walkway
to bloom in summer
A two hour breakfast with friends outside
A perfect sundown for a day in paradise
Saturn rises.

Poem of the Day #27

Leave Me Alone says Daisy Kenyon played by Joan Crawford

"Leave me alone!" she says
and the phone keeps ringing
old-fashioned brrrrringggg.....
solid and steady that won't stop
until she picks it up
and says "you're not listening!"

Two men want to possess her
they don't understand how she could want neither,
a woman alone with her career in the 1940's.

Alone at the Cape in winter
the two men still pursue her
their needs stronger than hers
an attorney's conquest
a troubled veteran's imaginary love
she wants the ringing to stop,
she wants to get on with her life,
make her own plans.

She is always the other woman
competing with a wife, one alive, one dead.
She wants to be her own woman now
and almost is
until Hollywood prescribes the woman-must-get-married ending.

Joan, I love your face and your woes
preserved in film noir
you are gorgeous, dark and beautiful
as you play the part
of Daisy with her still-husband walking in the door.
You have that second martini
and toast your make-believe marriage.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Poem of the Day #26


I have no tattoos on my body.
Am I truly naked?
Kids talk of their next mark of ink
to remember someone or something.
My body is blank of needles.

I sometimes wish I had skin of color.
I came here from the north
white as snow.
Now the sun has marked me.

I wish I could dye myself a new color
each day
around the color wheel.

White privilege cannot be erased
I stand in solidarity
with color.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Poem of the Day #25

Poem that Slept in Late

It's okay to title a poem "Poem"
Train ride dream to no-
Where car carries my water
I climb the rope
Ladder to no-
Where is the next level?
It's okay to count
This poem a day late.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Poem of the Day #24

Comment on Three Teenagers Drag Racing
On Central Avenue and Louisiana




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Poem of the Day #23

Meteor Shower

At four a.m. we saw a meteor shower
Yellow moon full and low.
My flight away from you will gain me two hours
At four a.m. we saw a meteor shower
Burning jet fuel carries me east to west in hours
Disorienting time and place to see you, my beau
At four a.m. we saw a meteor shower
Yellow moon full and low.

Today's prompt is a Triolet. See http://www.napowrimo.net/ for day #23.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Poem of the Day #22

Jump Rope Rhymes for Time Travel

Blue bells, cockle shells
Easy ivy over
Time travel through the swing
One plus one is?
(Jumper responds) Two

Two cities east and west
Who will travel next?
Two plus two is?
(Jumper responds) Four

Mama called the doctor
The doctor called the nurse
The nurse called the lady with the alligator purse.

Boy and Girl hold jump rope ends
Swing around and start again.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poem of the Day #21

Lines for Chekhov's Uncle Vanya's Fortune Cookies

You ought to have done something that mattered.

The land is getting poor and more hideous every day.

Let yourself go for once in your life.

You're not mad, you're simply a crank.

I believe it's normal for a man to be a crank.You are perfectly normal.

You shall live through a long, long succession of days and tedious evenings.

You've ruined my life. I have not lived! I have not lived!

In the whole of this province there have been only two decent, cultured people -- you and I.

Wherever you go, you bring along destruction with you.

The life itself is tedious, stupid, squalid.

You used to be an inspiring personality who never inspired anybody.

Man is endowed with reason and creative power so that he can increase what has been given him,but up to the present he's been destroying and not creating.

When I'm in this state I get extremely provocative and audacious.

You will draw up the most far-reaching plans for the future!

You will marry for love, or for what at the time seemed real love.

A talented man can't stay free from blemishes in Russia.

You will fall head over heels in love with some water-sprite.

Life has swallowed you up, poisoned your blood with its putrid vapors until now you will become just as petty as all the rest.

You shall know a life that is bright and beautiful. You shall rest!

Today's prompt from NaPoWriMo: re-write Frank O’Hara’s Lines for the Fortune Cookies

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Poem of the Day #20

Kodak Kitchen

George Eastman's organist plays precisely at 7:30 am
as he descends his grand staircase fully suited
to eat breakfast by himself
in his mansion.

As a young man, he spent three years
in his mother's kitchen
experimenting with gelatin emulsions.

Now his house secretary
uses double-ledger accounting
at his insistence
and he audits her once a year.
His staff of forty anticipates his every whim.

Snapshot is an old hunting term
for "no aim."
Kodak cameras had a shutter
but no viewfinder.

After his suicide,
visitors photograph his estate
on self-guided tours:
their kitchens full of empty jars;
their cameras, phones with no viewfinders.

Inspired by the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Poem of the Day #19

Found Poem: 21 lines from many books (and a few objects)

Mary in a cafe drinking Sioux City sarsaparilla
The broken check work of the steel girders against the sky.
They put soup in front of her but she couldn't manage it.
She threw vodka in on top of the tea.
There was every kind of news in the paper: accidents, shipwrecks, sports and politics.
She stood up and closed her eyes.
Absentee landlords had long been a feature of the Irish landscape.
She wished to God it was all over. The country had gone mad.
Billy had told her as soon as they met in front of Nick's that both their names were on the list.
She remembered when they rode in clear mountain mornings
"Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow because even today I still arrive" he said.
After the second wedding, the former Miss Wei stopped having bad dreams.
Two tiny Art Deco teacups, white and rusty brown.
"I'd be your best man if you wanted me too," Billy offered.
Romantic love easily becomes the overblown flower of the ego's desire for unique value
The next morning fog wove birch and yew and holly trees; in the clearing a naked figure leaped and cavorted in the blue dawn.
He retreated suddenly into his bedroom. In the brief solitude of finding his coat, his whole body began to quiver.
The church rose up from the dust of the road, huge brown granite blocks rose skyward to hold the bell tower and the cross of Christ.
Mary saw herself riding down from the mountains to the desert at that hour when thunderstorms and sunsets caparison the sky.
She drank more tea.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Poem of the Day #18


Sun comes out
with house items
and furniture
that haven't seen
the light of day
in years, a hallway cleared
of clouds.

Clinging, old sheets
make a tablecloth
for a newly discovered tea set.

We sort a box and a bag at a time.
It is worth it to see your face
with movement.

the window fills with sun.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Poem of the Day #17

Dime Time

Pay phone rings.
A woman answers. Who
will be on the other end to talk to?
She hears her heart beating.

Library typing room.
A man brings a bag of dimes
Ten cents a half-hour
writes a novel on $9.80.

Dime novel pulp
is devoured by the woman.
Transplants her to fantasy
only a planet away.

Inspired by Ray Bradbury, who wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the UCLA Library on dime fed typewriters.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Poem of the Day #16

Livonia, New York

Glowering globe of gray
Wet green grass
Farmer's dirt
Lakeshore town
Red sunset means
Better day tomorrow.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Poem of the Day #15

Starry Night
a  birthday wish
at the Starry Night
aVan Gogh washes over walls
a blue guitar and two women
sing sweet like crows
musical birds
spring is a bird
fluttering like a candle-on-a cake wish
all is not dark despite wishes of Blake's crow
aurora borealis might seize the night
"your text is spare" sings the young woman
Joe's still a-playin' unto empty pockets, his back to the wall
no bluebirds on these walls
crow is darkbird
white owl speaks to the woman
the birthday boy makes a wish
that tonight might be the night
where the crows
fly north the crow
speaks knocking on the wall
another starry night
where the birds
run the show wishing
they were women
with wings women
who can crow
out another wish
their backs to the wall
the man looks to the birds
on a bottle of Dirty Nighttime
beer is content spending his night
with the precious woman
of his dreams who is a bird
in disguise the black crow
of Poe or maybe hidden in the wall
with George Sand a wish
for a birthday night a wish for birds
together Crow Woman and Bird Man
no walls or texts between them

Happy Birthday John at the Starry Night Cafe, Rochester, NY April 13, 2013
John wrote lines 9 through 12
sestina by Jules Nyquist

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poem of the Day # 14

Blue Trees Fly

blue trees fly 
drift among clouds
cottonwoods and pines together
lacy branches weave a place of protection
they cry at night
tears with stars
float in space
invite me to sit
where they once had roots

Thanks to poet
George Wallace for his inspiration during the writing workshop.

photo:  Jules Nyquist - taken in Old Town, Albuquerque.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Poem of the Day #13

Reverse Sestina

Money built
I tower
of a built
tower money of
and I tower
of I
a money built
of a built
money I tower
a money tower
I built of
money, I
of built tower
and I built
a tower of money.

At a writing workshop with New York City poet George Wallace.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Poem of the Day #12


Early rise in flight
brings hunger and time change east
so no more breakfast offerings.

Soon to be upstate in hills, woods, rain.

Small airport pleasures:  a long phone conversation
with poet friend, being lost in a good book
and a comfy seat near a power charging station.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poem of the Day #11

Dear Sestina:

You've taught  me that I can write your obsessive, graceful form again when I thought all was lost. You've taught me patience, endurance, silliness and a longing for you like a forbidden relationship. You are a "high" for a woman of letters, a nourishment, a secret code of numbers, a troubadour club of the few who practice this art. A seven sestina sisterhood. Circular flames enfolding, give me permission to remember, to write about those guarded fears as you slowly pull them out of me. I am not alone. I promise to come out and play with you more often.

Verty truly yours,

Written for the end of our sestina class.
Photo: Arnaut Daniel - the first sestina troubadour.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Poem of the Day #10


Snow on mountains
much needed rain
last week's drought, dust and hot temps give way.
I don't wear a coat at night in the cold.
Am I a New Mexican now?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Poem of the Day #9

Filmstrip Genre

What do they know in New York
about "Understanding Your Love Feelings"
the name of the filmstrip we watch as poets.
Projector with strips of film
rolled, plastic see-through, teacher with wooden pointer
on the screen.
A kid in class mimics the 'beep' sound perfectly
causing the teacher to get confused, advance the strip
all wrong.    She asks us, is this fact or fiction?
Shout your answers.  Here in the 'Burque we don't know,
we say faction.

Thanks to Jenette for the filmstrip session at last night's East of Edith and for Mitch for the story about the kid.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Poem of the Day #8


Humans have a way of living in boxes
organizing box-like structures for other species
to live as we do.

Plants are easy.  They don't complain if we arrange
beautiful gardens
and leave them there for our happiness.
Sexual organs flourish as flowers and we can pick them at will.

Who's to say the giant koi aren't happy?
Colorful swimmers, they are well-fed and with their own kind.
The sole white rhino is more difficult.
Hunted for his horn, warning signs are posted outside his area
to remind us of illegal ivory selling
blaming the demand on some far-away bushmen
with insatiable desires to feed their manhood with its magical powers.

The zebras are not running away from the lions
The people here will never hear the ear-splitting roar of the King of the Jungle
The cheetah  naps most of the day.
A teenager asks, "Why are they sleeping all the time?" 
"You would too, if you were in a cage," her friend replies.

The aquarium seems more soothing.
We cannot imagine what it's like to be a fish
and couples have their photos taken with the sharks
and barracudas behind them.

Something primal is in the jellyfish moon tank
lit up in darkness.  They pulse and glow.
No brain, no heart, no organs we argue for when we say human life begins,
yet here they are, surviving in spite of us.

We have done our part to catalog and preserve our fellow creatures
into extinction from wildness.
The elephants sway and toss dust or water on themselves with their trunks.
They grieve, like us, of course.
Why would it be otherwise?

I say goodbye to the four elephants as I ride the train
back to the gardens and conservatory.
The sign reaassured me they have 5.5 acres to roam
and they "sleep under the stars" on summer nights.
We are all born into captivity.

I went to the Albuquerque Biopark for the first time yesterday. Within walking distance from my house.  This poem was forming in my head all day, I just had to write it down.  I admire the gardens and the aquarium and the Biopark is a great part of the city.  The Children's Fantasy Garden is marvelous and enchants the imagination.  I've always felt a bit uncomfortable in zoos, however.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Poem A Day #7


Pheasants are an exotic bird, she said, she saw one for the first time.
Daddy used to go hunting, I thought, and brought them home
and I'd stroke their colorful feathers while our golden lab, Blondie
proudly wagged her tail as she stood next to me.
A Minnesota autumn saw pheasants hiding in cornfields
as they walked through dried stalks, the dogs flushing them out
while the men shoot.
I was 5 or 6 at the time, and remember grouse hunting too
but ring-necked
pheasants were the superior bird for the dinner plate.

I call up Dad today to ask him about pheasants. They are scarcer now
and he tells me when they started plowing down the cornstalks before each winter
when he was on the farm. Corn bores would destroy the crop, seeking the sugar.
No more habitat left for either.

Quail are exotic to me.
I see them running in a group of four, or five as I float in the air
my hot air balloon pilot friend pointing them out in the desert.

Pigeons coo-coo-ca-choo from my neighbor's rooftop.
I know their calls and their nesting habits as they parade down the sidewalk
their heads bobbing, from Minneapolis to Albuquerque.

Poem A Day #6

Plan B

America celebrates Sacajawea's birthday on a silver dollar
forgot she was kidnapped at ten, bought by her French-Canadian trapper husband
as one of his two wives, saved the men's lives and received no monetary payment
only to die of fever at 23, her two children adopted by Clark.

Today a federal judge struck down age limits on the morning-after pill
so now any age girl or woman can control what happens in her body
with a simple trip to the drugstore plucked off the shelf.

Would Sacajawea had taken the pill if she could? Would she have been sold as a child
slave and future bride to bear children and used to navigate, a symbol of peace
trapped in patriarchy? A silly question for that time when women were property of men.

It's better now but not a lot when women worldwide have to bear their breasts
in protest for women's rights, where the breast still gets attention for being seen in public
whether nursing or for expressing love or hate -  those  motherly, sexy, beautiful breasts
and vaginas that keep women under the still oh so invisibly there glass ceiling.
Yes we've come a long way, baby but we still haven't passed the ERA
we are working on equal marriage rights for all and Plan B is sitting on a teenager's dresser.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Poem A Day #5


This is the somewhere
We were always trying to get:
Reduced to the basics:
Rolling mills, rocks, running
Water, burdocks, trees living and dead. (1)

Somewhere the dead
are buried under humps of dirt, somewhere
a white cross perches with faded plastic flowers run
over on the highway by drivers who will rush to get
somewhere unimportant. A basic
necessity of burial:  warm landscape

soft enough to dig.  We walk the land, scope
out our future with planted trees, no dead
ancestors among us. Basic
survival skills are burdock roots, some
flower stalks harvested before they get
to bloom. Tree bark stripped off as runners

to make canoes, stone faces stare at us from the bank. We run
into landscape.
Some day we will elope to a new place, get
dressed in red and tie ourselves to trees. The dead
and living surround us.  Somewhere
in our pockets lie changes.  BASIC

programs run on a green screen. Basic
codes run all life forms.  Somewhere someone runs
deep into the forest.  Ferns unfold.   Some ask where
they are but we see another landscape
appear on the screen.  Death
sleeps under down covers.  No graveyards to get

creepy with.  Graves are fine and private, we get
consolation in the land of Elysian, a basic
right of passage with manicured lawns, the dead
no longer gone but sweetly singing under running
water, weeping willows, the statuary landscape
attracting tourists with guidebooks, draped urns, winged cherubs, somewhere

over the rainbow death got lost.
This is the somewhere we exit, back to basics.
Run to the stonecutter, chisel our own mortality.

1 – opening stanza quote is verbatim  from “Daybooks 1,” Two Headed Poems, Margaret Atwood 1978.
photo:  Burdocks Arctium minus

I started this sestina on Wed in our sestina class when I had students write a sestina using a line or first stanza of another poet's poem.  James Cummins (one of my favorite sestina troubadours) gave me the idea for this with his poem #22 from his book "The Whole Truth."   The last three lines of the sixth stanza are also celebrations of Walt Whitman's view of cemeteries, from his biography.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Poem A Day #4

Blood Money

Reading Walt Whitman’s bio
I smile when I see poem titles Blood Money
or Song for a Certain Congressman or The House of Friends
the latter referencing Doughfaces, Crawlers, Lice of Humanity.
Not much has changed in one-hundred-fifty years
one century to the next fighting for freedom and the voices
of the people. Walt was devastated when hero fighter journalist Margaret Fuller
drowned off Fire Island, New York in 1850 along with her lover and child.
She admired George Sand, same as I do. I wonder what she would have thought
of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, murdered in a plane crash with his wife
by the Doughfaces, Crawlers, Lice of Humanity politicians.
Voices are remembered, or forgotten, bodies lost at sea, or in cornfields
or paying for their own tombs, their names etched in stone. How do we remember our own
pending deaths? Words in the ether, poems printed, birthplaces memorialized, the world marches on.
pic: Walt Whitman's tombstone, Camden, NJ

Bio:  Walt Whitman A Life by Justin Kaplan p. 163-164.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Poem a Day #3

A Kind of Courage
What kind of courage is it?
The anxious, scary kind,
the pottery on her aunt’s shelf in turquoise blue
chipped on the rim, well-worn and loved
through three generations and now you are responsible
for keeping it safe, handling it to save your life.
What kind of fool takes their life
and leaps into their unfamiliar? It’s
a congested kind of dust responsible
for new allergies, a woman who never knew the kinds
of desert plants that would settle her into love
of chamisa, blooming yucca, cactus, pinon, juniper and that incredible blue
sky, blue hovering sadness, blue
disappearing into the Great Lakes. Her life
out of the fog of waiting. How she loved
seeing Dad at the kitchen table, six am, it
was him alone, eating breakfast cereal, kindness
in his hands as she joined him, responsible
for getting up for school, responsible
with Mom and brother still in bed, her blue
eyes join his dream world of the working trucks, kinds
of home calling her away even then. Life
someday giving her offices, cubicles, typewriters, it
never stopped with just carbon paper and blue stencils loved
by her Mom’s church secretary upper office, love
of the smell of mimeographed bulletins responsible
for news and prayer chains and the next holy season, it
churns them out around the wheel of yellow, blue,
purple, pink and red.  She waits for her life
to arrive at the front steps, waits for the boy on the motorcycle, kind
of coming to pick her up, where they kind
of talk and lay down in the green park grass where love
eludes her young body this time. Life
will grow on in years, waiting to be responsible
for her own wedding crystal, her own blue
sky over her grandmother’s lost grave in Iowa, it
takes her prairie life and leads her.  A kind
of courage, it gives her love of the wind,
her response to chipped blue pottery.

I started this sestina in last week's sestina class that I am teaching to six wonderful sestina troubadours in Albuquerque. We are in week 5 of 6.  We did a writing exercise about how we felt in the moment. I started with "How do you feel right now?" and we wrote several one-word descriptions.  One of mine was 'courage.'  We then added an object that represented one of the feelings.  I looked around the room and saw Lauren's beautiful pottery displayed on her dining room wall shelf. Something about the pottery, the question and the way the sestina wraps me into it's form, pulling out things that I never knew were there, took me onward.  I wanted to start with the question and wrote the first stanza.  After that, it's that sestina magic that kept me going. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Na Po Wri Mo 2

Poem  2

Laughter transcends the phone meeting.
We are all afraid of cliffs.
Plum blossoms float down on me over lunch
the plants, the pond.
Let go, it is okay
to rest in this moment.