Friday, April 29, 2011

29:30: October 14th 6 almost 7 thousand years ago, in the afternoon

October 14th 6 almost 7 thousand years ago,
in the afternoon
god sat down at a yellow desk and decided
to make mud.
She maybe even read a book in between the batches
of sediment and stone.

The sun was shining in her window,
warming her legs.

She thought, "what a productive day"
as she turned the page.

28/30: Excerpt from The Toast

"We all walk this earth - forging our paths, mending unspeakable pains, getting dirt under our fingernails, feeling mountainous with strength and tiny in the vastness. We all have this in common and those of us in this room have one more thing in common: we have the privilege of sharing our lives with [them]. I have known of their love from the moment i drew my first breath. I'm lucky that way....but together, together they are a fierce and peaceful force of nature...I am who I am because of them, plain and simple. my blood and skin, from their blood and skin.... Woman extraordinaire and legendary barber: hear hear."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

27/30: Grasping at Straws

Act 1: Sitting in dim light

i toil to find the words.
i scratch my skin when it itches
and sometimes
pick at my skin.

Act 2: Honest introspection

the things i know are limited
as are
the things i can do.

Act 3: Desperation

as i sit to write, i find
everything is fixed.
Flesh is flesh,
there's nothing that can change.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26/30: How to Write a Shitty Poem

If at all possible, always drink.
Whiskey makes every word breathe
and bump against the page.
Stay away from tequila.

Sometimes it's okay to write poetry
while listening to hip hop.
Get your body moving to an apparent beat --
now, go. Write. The difference is tangible,

Use a pen that sits nicely on
the fingers used to navigate.
Usually, the pen makes it.
It's more like a companionship,
a mutual respect.

Same rule goes for the page on which
the pen moves. Love the paper,
the journal. Be comfortable with the booklet
in your hands.
It's really a love affair between
hands, paper and pen.

Don't think about the assholes
one table over. The ones with the obnoxious
laughs and floppy hair. They might craft
words together better,
but the whiskey gives you an edge.

Write. Write about what you know.
Write about what makes this life unique
to you.
Write it loudly and maybe, drunkenly.

Write it. Read it.
Re-read it and repeat.

25/30: Love Poem

There's just something about late at night.
It's casual and good.
And I think you agree.

I know you past midnight the most
and the best.
The way we talk with candor is
sometimes callous and
sometimes not.
Our syllables slow down,
sometimes completely.

And in dim light we sit,
full with one another.
Breathing in and
breathing out.

Being me and being you.


This one gray sweatshirt falls nicely
on my shapely shoulders,
it hangs on my round,
tom-boyish breasts just as it should
and I swear to god,
it makes me walk with
sex in my step.

I wear it along side narcissism;
they both fit nicely.

23/30: Spring Night

He said, in passing,
"Your face comes together
nicely -
all those shapes and

My lungs settled in steadily
with the breeze.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

22/30: to the Field Museum

Skinny legs are better for escaping a
tar pit.
We are currently in the sixth extinction -
caused by one species.
Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus are the same -
just different number of pelvic bones.
Juvenile and adult.
Mexican Grizzlies went extinct after being
forced into the mountains; they starved
to death.
Human beings are bringing about this new extinction
of mass proportions.
Early horses were the size of
The Wolf Kachina doll is used in ceremonies
between summer and fall.
Four species an hour die out, permanently,
due to human beings.
Homo Sapiens prevailed over
Homo Neanderthals -
and now, thousands and thousands of years later,
bigger brains and less teeth,
we're destroying everything

21/30: Religion

The only revival I've ever known
is the rising river
and the standing still.
Breathing in moist air
seven thousand miles away -
soaking up the rain near
a church on a monday night after
too many whiskeys.

The only revelation I've ever known
involved my breasts and tight jeans
during summer months. Also, wearing
my hair in a high pony tail.

The only comfort I've ever known
is, after fucking up daily
and hurting one million times more
than I ever thought imaginable,
laying in the bed at night,
listening to my husband breathe.

20/30: The Black Snake

Near the tree swing, you shot a snake with a sharp b.b.
The sleek black side, unaware of the muzzle of a gun,
completely oblivious to such an invention,
catching the summer shine as he went past.
I pleaded with you.

Next thing I knew, the poor creature flipped involuntarily,
trying to escape the pain and twisting in an ungodly
manner, and spilling from the graceful scales,
all of it's guts.
The rip in it's flesh paralleled only
by the sting in my stomach
and in my dry throat.

I ran behind the barn to cry -
ashamed for so many reasons.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

19/30: A welcome, but more like a homecoming for The Two.

Breathing in air for the first time
is an archaic step.
Today your little lungs met the Raven,
who brought ancient peoples light,
and Krishna.
Pieces of Jesus rested in your mouth
while you wept in the cold
under the brash light.

At once you became all directions
and all colors
and the symbol for the sun
and with your very first exhale
you are wielding a bow under thunder.
You're sailing waters in boats made
of sturdy oak and constructing
stone temples to praise
time passing and time to come.

The Earth welcomes your flesh and blood:
carbon from the coldest cave and iron
from the first volcanoes. You are old
and new.

Your family welcomes you with love.

18/30: Morning Prayer

Let today be the day my ribs
break apart and turn the dirt
The marrow from my long bones
will fill in and settled down
between the stones and
fiddle-head ferns.

Let today be the day that my life
is in balance - and not just the
The rain falls on me, like the last
person - walking lonely, dodging
the puddles with a

17/30: Architecture

I'm a fully mature female human
ruled by the moon in my Saturn Return.
I know it's okay to wear shirts
that lay just right on my breasts.

I also know it's okay to talk about it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

16/30: eulogy

Sometimes all the words
are written, or spoken.
There's an inviting silence -
worthy and restful.
But sometimes, as it is
with you,
all the words are dead.
Decomposing and overgrown
with weeds,
you killed everything.
But the
words went first.
Nothing I can scrape
together will ever
resemble what used to be
between us.


Sometimes my skin just hangs on
my bones -
like torn drapes.
I get nervous that my flesh
might be dismantling.

I fear my fingernails
are separating from their beds.
Just like my fingernails to have
uncovered beds.

I dream that my teeth crumble
into my coffee
and down my throat.
The only thing I can think is
"Someone get me to the fucking

Friday, April 15, 2011

Favorites 15/30: Married

by Jack Gilbert

I came back from the funeral and crawled
around the apartment, crying hard,
searching for my wife's hair.
For two months got them from the drain,
from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,
and off the clothes in the closet.
But after other Japanese women came,
there was no way to be sure which were
hers, and I stopped. A year later,
repotting Michiko's avocado, I find
a long black hair tangled in the dirt.

Favorites: 14/30 termites of the page

by Charles Bukowski

the problem that I've found with
most poets that I have known is that
they've never had an 8 hour job
and there is nothing
that will put a person
more in touch
with the realities
an 8 hour job.

most of these poets
that I have known
seemingly existed on
air alone
it hasn't been truly
behind them has been
a family member
usually a wife or mother
supporting these
so it's no wonder
they have written so
they have been protected
against the actualities
from the
and they
understand nothing
but the ends of their
their delicate
their lymph

their words are
unlived, unfurnished, un-
true, and worse -- so

soft and safe
they gather together to
plot, hate,
gossip, most of these
American poets
pushing and hustling their
playing at

poet (?):
that word needs re-

when I hear that
I get a rising in the
as if I were about to
let them have the
so long
as I need not be
in the


The line always stretches around
the cold church.

They stand with numb fingers
to maybe hold on to hope,

and a loaf of bread.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The squirrel slowly moved his squirrel
arms to his side as he cautiously watched
me walk past.
He only worries about survival.

Me, too.


The night he died, he wore a
yellow tank top and danced.
He had family in town,
who sat at the bar
drank red wine and
talked stocks.
He kissed his daughter
when she left to go home
to sleep.
The divorce was final and,
after two years, the house
was his and tomorrow
he had landscaping to do.

Before that night was over,
I wonder if he thought,
"sometimes life is perfect."

11/30: a study of cinquain

old bones
brittled by wear
cracked and dry 'neath the heat
disintegrate in heavy winds.
life moves.

move in the dark,
my lines forging with yours,
and our hot breath evaporates
from mist.

with ancient warmth,
we gather up our flesh,
submerge our hands in dirt and sing
of life.

Favorites 13/30: Of love and Other Disasters

by Philip Levine

The punch-press operator from Flint
met the assembler from West Virginia
in a bar near the stadium. Neither
had anything in mind, so they conversed
about the upcoming baseball season
about which neither cared. We could
be a couple, he thought, but she was
all wrong, way too skinny. For years
he'd had an image of the way a woman
should look, and it wasn't her, it wasn't
anyone he'd ever known, certainly not
his ex-wife, who'd moved back south
to live with her high school sweetheart.
About killed him. I don't need that shit,
he almost said aloud, and then realized
she'd been talking to someone maybe
to him, about how she couldn't get
her hands right, how the grease ate
so deeply into her skin it became
part of her, and she put her hand,
palm up, on the bar and pointed
with her cigarette at the deep lines
that worked had carved. "The life line,"
he said, "which one is that?" "None,"
she said, and he noticed that her eyes
were hazel flecked with tiny spots
of gold, and then - embarrassed - looked
back at her hand, which seemed tiny
and delicate, the fingers yellowed
with calluses but slender and fine.
She took a paper napkin off the bar,
spit on it and told him to hold still
while she carefully lifted his glasses
up on his forehead, leaving him half
blind, and wiped something off
above his cheek bone. "There,"
she said, lowering his glasses, "I
got it," and even with his glasses on
what she showed him was nothing
he could see. He thought, better
get out of here before it's too late, but
knew too late was what he wanted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Oh, lordy lord, I say
right before bed.

I don't mean it.

9/30: The Great Birth: a myth condensed.

The flood came for the Navaho
and wouldn't you know,
because of desire.
Masturbation with corncobs
and antelope livers with
well placed mouths.
The knowers knew storms were brewing.

Black Crow to the east - finding black storms
Magpie to the south - ocean blue storms, he said.
Hummingbird to the west, yellow storms, bright like midday
and to the north, a dove cooing of a white storm.

"Let all breathing creatures
retreat to the womb of the Earth."

7/30: Healing*

I've written about desert towns before;
visions of sand paintings every morning
on the bedroom floor,
The Blessing Way healing our every
ailment - me, you and the priest with clean hair.
Even the greatest heart ache bears
no weapon.

The dry air bringing pollens from
far away-
feathers in my braid,
distantly, we live.

When the sun sets, with
eagle's wisdom, the song sticks to my skin:
I sing
"In the house of happiness, there I wander
beauty before me,
beauty behind me, below me, above me,
with it I wander.
I am on the beautiful trail,
with it
I wander."

Favorites: 12/30 (2 of them)

by Stephen Dobyns

Trying to remember you
is like carrying water
in my hands a long distance
across sand. Somewhere
people are waiting.
They have drunk nothing for days.

Your name was the food I lived on;
now my mouth is full of dirt and ash.
To say your name was to be surrounded
by feathers and silk; now, reaching out,
I touch glass and barbed wire.
Your name was the thread connecting my life;
now I'm fragments on a tailor's floor.

I was dancing when i
learned of your death; may
my feet be severed from my body.

by Brett Jenkins

The Lord sits with me out in back and watches me
drink Miller High Life. I think about questions I will
not ask him and he shakes his head gently and smiles
a little. We watch birds flying low like leaves
lifting out of the fields. The cat lounges idly beside us,
toothing out the gravel from her paws. The Lord
watches her small movements for awhile. He asks me
to read him the Jack Gilbert poem again, and waits
as I flip to the dog-eared page; waits for me to wait for
the stable breath it will take to actually finish it this time.

Monday, April 11, 2011


A face like your dad's, you
sit under the light drinking
your margarita.
And you talk about your life.

Favorites 8,9,10,11/30

by John Ashbery

Quietly as if it could be
otherwise, the ocean turns
and slinks back into her panties.

Reefs must know something of this,
and all the incurious red fish
that float ditsily in schools,

wondering which school is best.
I'd take you for a drive
in my flivver, Miss Ocean, honest, if I could.

by Christopher Reid

That she was glad to sit down.
That her legs hurt in spite of the medicine.
That times were bad.
That her husband had died nearly thirty years before.
That the war had changed things.
That the new priest looked like a schoolboy and you could
barely hear him in church.
That pigs were better company, generally speaking, than goats.
That no one could fool her.
That both her sons had married stupid women.
That her son-in-law drove a truck.
That he had once delivered something to the President's palace.
That his flat was on the seventh floor and that it made her dizzy
to think of it.
That he brought her presents from the black market.
That an alarm clock was of no use to her.
That she could no longer walk to town and back.
That all her friends were dead.
That I should be careful about mushrooms.
That ghosts never came to a house where a sprig of rosemary had
been hung.
That the cinema was a ridiculous invention.
That the modern dances were no good.
That her husband had had a beautiful singing voice, until drink
ruined it.
That the war had changed things.
That she had seen on a map where the war had been fought.
That Hitler was definitely in Hell right now.
That children were cheekier than ever.
That it was going to be a cold winter, you could tell from the
height of the birds' nests.
That even salt was expensive these days.
That she had had a long life and was not afraid of dying.
That times were very bad.

by David Ignatow

I don't know which to mourn. Both have died on me, my wife and
my car. I feel strongly about my car, but I am also affected by my
wife. Without my car, I can't leave the house to keep myself from
being alone. My wife gave me two children, both of whom, of
no longer live with us, as was to be expected, as we in our youth
our parents behind. With my car, I could visit my children, when
are not too busy.

Before she died, my wife urged me to find another woman. it's
I'd like to take up but not without a car. Without a car, I cannot
myself another woman. That's the sum of it.

11.) 1953

by Jack Gilbert

All night in the Iowa cafe. Friday night
and the farm boys with their pay.
Fine bodies and clean faces. All of them
proud to be drunk. No meanness,
just energy. At the next table, they talked
cars for hours, friends coming and going,
hollering over. The one with the heavy face
and pale hair kept talking about the Chevy
he had years ago and how it could
take everything in second.
Moaning that he should never have sold it.
Didn't he show old Hank? Bet your ass!
That Fourth of July when Shelvadeen
got too much patriotism and beer
and gave some to everybody
down by the river. Hank so mad because
I left him like he was standing still.
Best car that ever was, and never should have
let it go. Tears falling on his eggs.

Favorites: 7/30: The Cure

by Ginger Andrews

Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

6/30: A Small Study of Haiku on Spring Birds (Morning)

two robins standing,
small heads tilted towards the ground -
listening for worms.

to the sparrows, they
are the only ones; eating
in the church courtyard.

purple house finches
sitting in budding bushes
singing their hearts out.

Favorites 6/30: Drawing Jesus

by David Shumate

The first patient drew Jesus as a tall, slender man with three smiling
heads, one eye in the center of each. Another sketched him as a stick figure
wearing a yellow hat. The teenage girl from Alabama drew a white
vulture with a halo above its head. At the table by the window the Hungarian
immigrant whose language no one understood drew a face with a
scar running down his cheek, a ragged red beard, and the kind of wild
eyes that frighten children. The old woman who has lived half-a-century
in the asylum painted a picture of a dozen orange boxes and asked me to
guess which one Jesus was hiding in. I pointed to the box with the
bulge in the middle. The Hungarian started laughing. Then they all
joined in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5/30: Working towards death

i would take my small bow saw,
maybe lay it flat and next to my
aged trowel, if i had one.

if i had one, i'd put it in my
shed that sits along the violets,
maybe i'd hang it on the wall
near the shovel.

one day, i'd go get that saw
and cut through wood with a
purpose; conquering, with grace,
the how to's of, i don't know, let's say,
a coffin.

that day, i'd also take the shovel
and dig a hole; wait, maybe years,
for someone to die.

Favorites 5/30: The Lovesick Monk

by Leonard Cohen

I shaved my head
I put on robes
I sleep in the corner of a cabin
sixty-five hundred feet up a mountain
It's dismal here
The only thing I don't need
is a comb

Monday, April 4, 2011


What about blood in the sand?
It puddles between the legs of a man,
flowing around like water.

There are teeth and bones and chunks
of skin tossed about in unsuspecting bedrooms,
linens balled up in the corner.

Then, grief becoming realized,
a cello sonata resting on crimson hands turned skyward -
desperate and aching for breath.

And me, pouring a glass of milk.

Favorites 4/30: Desperate Talk

by James Tate

I asked Jasper if he had any ideas about the coming revolution.
"I didn't know there was a revolution coming," he said. "Well,
people are pretty disgusted. There might be," I said. "I wish
you wouldn't just make things up. You're always trying to fool
with me," he said. "There are soldiers everywhere. It's hard
to tell which side they're on," I said. "They're against us.
Everyone's against us. Isn't that what you believe?" he said.
"Not everyone. There are a few misguided stragglers who still
believe in something or other," I said. "Well, that gives me
heart," he said. "Never give up the faith," I said. "Who said
I ever had any?" he said. "Shame on you, Jasper. It's important
to believe in the cause," I said. "The cause of you digging us
deeper into a hole?" he said. "No, the cause of the people standing
together for their rights, freedom and all," I said. "Well, that's
long gone. We have no rights," he said. We fell silent for the
next few minutes. I was staring out the window at a rabbit in
the yard. Finally, I said, "I was just saying all that to amuse
you." "So was I," he said. "Do you believe in God?" I said. "God's
in prison," he said. "What'd he do?" I said. "Everything," he

Sunday, April 3, 2011

3/30: Let's be Free

I want to mean the words I say, and
the symbols I use to convey feeling,
I want to mean those, too. I do
believe what I say when I say
I know my bones will one day be
inside your lungs
and Grass will
grow up through my ribs
I also deeply believe the words I
will never say, I know the secrets
I have, but I never want to
know yours. I've heard that whole-truths
can be entirely devastating.
One time, I walked
to a creek with a boy named Keith.
We loved each other in a way I
can't describe, but it was something like
Queen Anne's Lace and running
through the yard with muddy shoes.
He told me about craw-dads and tadpoles,
the words were true even if they
Twenty years later I think of a
boy who is now a man;
dead. (Those words are true
and false, sometimes, it's hard to tell.)
But now, after all this, I want
to say, Let's take this life one
word at a time. Let's be free,
both in truth and
in lies.

Favorites 3/30: Teaching a Child the Art of Confession

by David Shumate

It is best not to begin with Adam and Eve. Original Sin is
baffling, even for the most sophisticated minds. Besides,
children are frightened of naked people and apples. Instead,
start with the talking snake. Children like to hear what animals
have to say. Let him hiss for a while and tell his own tale.
They'll figure him out in the end. Describe sin simply as those
acts which cause suffering and leave it at that. Steer clear of
musty confessionals. Children associate them with outhouses.
Leave Hell out of the discussion. They'll be able to describe it
on their own soon enough. If they feel the need to apologize
for some transgression, tell them that one of the offices of the
moon is to forgive. As for the priest, let him slumber a while

Saturday, April 2, 2011


driving through the small town
known for its chair caning,
the church roof tells me "Jesus
is coming" and has for years.

I think it's only polite to gracefully
accept, but what I want to know is:
shouldn't we tell Jesus he's definitely late
and vacant promises lose meaning?

Mainly, I put my confidences in the brittled
corn stalks waiting to be plowed and
the bacteria that eats me from the inside out.

Favorites 2/30: The forgotten Dialect of the Heart

by Jack Gilbert

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not a language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.

Friday, April 1, 2011

1/30: without hooves

Sometimes the deer carcass will lay
and rot in the field -
the sutures of her skull undone by days
in the dirt.

Other times, her entrails spell out
death on the pavement,
bones and dignity splintered and scattered.

Either way she dies.
I am the deer,
no one cries for me.

Favorites 1/30: Firm against the pattern

by Brett Eugene Ralph

When I saw Charity dancing
alone in the farmhouse kitchen,
eyes closed, lips parted, held aloft
in one hand half a mango,
a gigantic butcher knife
clutched in the other -- I froze
at the screen door as I always do
when I come upon someone praying.

All night I had been hitting
on the daughter of a tiny woman
orphaned by Hiroshima.
Grandparents had been lost, and her mother
would soon be dead though no one knew
if it was the blast or the facility
she retired next to in Utah.

This was the kind of bitter irony
that made you want to burn the flag --
even if it was against the law, even
on the Fourth of July on property owned
by a Republican state senator.
Which is precisely what would happen
later, after we'd drunk the wine.

Hey, he said in one of those voices
unique to fraternity members
high on nitrous oxide, Anybody want a drink
of hundred-year-old Romanian wine?
Before we could answer, he had produced
from one of the pockets on his wheel chair
wine he meted out, so help me God,
from a Mrs. Butterworth's bottle.

By the time that bottle made its way
around the bonfire, I was drunk
on kimonos wed to atom bombs
and motherless children left to cultivate
an excruciating beauty,
drunk on crippled tipplers
scarcely larger than dolls.
On an evening such as this, one swig
makes little difference.

Like the wine my father fashioned
out of blackberries, out of plums,
it was very sweet and very strong
and it wouldn't have taken much to turn
Mrs. Butterworth upside down
until her skirts fell and I'd forgotten
that the cloud above Nagaskai rhymes
with the flag we raised on the moon.

As I watched Charity, I rested
my brow against the rusty screen
and that knife and mango might have been
a bottle and a beating heart,
a bomb and a burned up baby doll,
a flag and whatever comes to mind
when you read the word forgiveness.

Closing my eyes, I extended my tongue
and pressed it firm against the pattern:
I tasted yesterday's rain, the forgotten
carcasses of moths,
broken glances, rebel tears,
the smoke of not-so-distant fires,
all those delicate gestures
we collect and call the seasons.