poem-a-thon 24: masonry

Kind of a simple and sad one today for NaPoWriMo’s prompt. I’m circling back to my theme of youth and LGBT issues a bit; and hey you should donate please! Help keep the stuff in the purview of this poem from happening, okay?

I channeled some Kay Ryan again, as I am wont to do when time is short and ideas are slim. NaPo wanted a “masonry” poem, so I went in a couple different directions with a more abstract implication at the end. It’s not great stuff, but it will suffice.

Six more days, I’m running out of juice.


can be dangerous. Brick
and mortar
betray us and crumble
into grey and red disorder,
often with the play
of glass. And even after
there is still danger:
a boy happens to pass,
pockets rubble
meant for the head of some
other boy who
likes to dress
up. Rough words wrapped
round a brick sail heavy
and thick. And buildings
can be as much trouble as
when we use the word
evil. Imagine
how much damage waits
to be loosed in the vaults
of cathedrals.

poem-a-thon 21: the date

This is kind of an over-the-top last-minute sort of post, since I got home much later than expected and had much less time to polish and work over this one as I would’ve liked. (On the counterside, workshop was lovely and I do not regret the late hour whatsoever.) NaPoWriMo wanted a New York School style poem, following a “recipe” by Thom Donovan, which I did my best to overdo completely; I think I managed to cram all his elements in. It’s such a mishmash that I think Frank O’Hara would shake his head in disgust at it, and I would cry No, Frank! and beg him for another chance because he is one of my poetry spirit animals. But since I doubt that’ll happen, and it’s late, I’ll just toss it up on here and leave that as it is.

Hey, why don’t you donate to a worthy cause? And poetry?

The Date

          Christopher, you remember I rode the 9:52 train
into New York for a day with you; it was early November
and Bedford Street shimmered beneath me, and you were
eating an apple fritter in front of Starbucks when I arrived.
And you asked, do you want to come to the market, and
of course, yes, I had nowhere else to go:
                              so we roamed Strawberry Fields
buying sausage and heavy globed kiwifruit
and Vivaldi insisting on the speaker, and I paid
for everything. Then we climbed up three flights of stairs
to your apartment, well, your corner of a minimal room
with the single mattress was laid out
                              and we cooked sausage
and ate it, and tasted its grease on each other as we kissed,
soon we were fucking hard and fast on the floor
warmed by November light. Afterward we listened:
steam pipes trilled, a stray dog whined, Mrs. Lukacs
next door was on the phone shouting in muffled Hungarian
through the wall. Kurafi! kurafi! she kept shouting
so we flipped on the TV
                              still fucking once in a while
like when Jodie Foster in Panic Room changed over to
Tom Hanks in Big separated by commercials for crash
lawyers, bathroom cleaners, all the things we did not need.
Light moved and thinned with each thrust of our hips
until it had nearly vanished completely. You were craving
another cigarette, so we went back down again, and
walked out into the dusk
                              which meant I had missed all my classes
for a boy I’d known a week, whose life consisted of the Roxy
til 4 a.m., Avalon after that, who did lines of cocaine with
Kate Moss between shoots (or so you said, although
you couldn’t find the issue of PAPER you two were in),
who purred in his sleep, whose cock unfurled like
night-blooming jasmine
                              who bit my lip hard when we kissed again
at that moment, and I thought, what am I doing here?
where’d I get this fever? And Christopher, it was marvelous
when you offered the until death part as though you were
marriageable and I your bride, but darling, the next morning
I had a French exam, and rehearsal, and there was
only so much room in me
                              for those other men of yours
and mine. What would you have had me do? I bought
my ticket back by the glare of a PATH train light.
I turned off my phone. I was Sisyphus paused at
the top of his hill. Christopher you are climbing still.

poem-a-thon 20: year of plenty

A friend of mine coined the term Weedster for today. Groan. I’ll just leave that there.

After my blaze of writing yesterday, all the food and family and travel today just tripped my circuit breaker, I think, and I’m unreasonably mad about it (even though the aforementioned events were all lovely, I suppose). It’s ten o’clock and I still have one more poem to go, and I’m not going to get done any of the stuff I actually need to get done for tomorrow. There’s a lot of things I’m frustrated about tonight, and I can’t allot myself enough time to be frustrated about them all…in the long run, I guess it’s a good thing, but in the here-and-now, not so much.

NaPoWriMo wanted a poem in the voice of a family member, but you know what, I already did one of those before. So I’m doing a bullshit nature flowering cherry poem in a Kay Ryan style because there’s nothing else I can think of, and wasted a title on it. (We did talk about the flowering cherry in the yard today, and the bees. There’s the family connection.) Enjoy!

Year of Plenty

Bees cloak
the sour cherry tree,
fuzzed collectors
flower-choked on
their own nectarology. We
who carry along
wingless see their story
buzzed from every
burst pinkish hollow–
how to pull beauty
loose, to counteract
what misery may follow.
We too circle
begging a year of plenty–
but the cropped trees
which are most fertile
are first to drop pale money,
selfless as bees
of which we have many.

poem-a-thon 19: liberation

Feeling a lot more refreshed today: I can actually swallow without pain again! Take that, strep.

So we’re moving into the last decan of April, and I do feel a little bit more in tune with my poem-brain this morning; two down, one to go for the day (and maybe a bonus one for my pocket if I’m lucky). NaPoWriMo gave a list of seashells with peculiar names as the prompt, and I’m actually pretty happy I more or less worked in four of them (incised moon, Lazarus’ jewel box, sparse dove, unequal bittersweet), kept to my Poem-a-thon theme of queer youth struggle, and got a little Ryanesque voice in there around some unpacked Catholic school hangups. Not so bad for a morning’s work, I’d say, even if it got a little obtuse in the execution.

Since I’m at home while the Easter preparations are going on, obviously there’s a lot of religious topics on my mind, and also there’s not much to do (as I don’t want to get bacteria in the food or anything). I’ll try to be more active and firebrandy today and tomorrow. To wit, why don’t you go donate a bit? If you enjoy my writing, help save some lives…


How we scoured the testaments
looking for hidden theology:
hours considering Jonathan’s
sentiments for David, or how,
unbidden, the Beloved Apostle came
from Galilee to bow beneath the cross.
Or Lazarus, uncovered,
unbound: imagine how he thought
he’d lost the incised moon forever
to the merciless ground.
Who but a lover would open up
his jewel box of miracles and release
the most precious? We hoped
by reading between the lines
that these sparse doves of peace
could let us sleep easy.
No youth’s heart of hearts beats
abomination. We only wanted
truth instead of this– haunted
with complication, unequal, bittersweet.

poem-a-thon 11: the three fates

So with the signal boost from NaPoWriMo yesterday, I think I had more hits than the rest of the week combined; it’s since fallen off back to normal levels. Oh well. I hope that people are reading and enjoying, overall. It’s tough to keep some kind of blogosphere presence without a gimmick or other method of hooking people. Sometimes I’m tempted to give it up altogether, but I do enjoy it, and I do it for the handful of people that make their appreciation known. <3

Today’s NaPo prompt is a form I wasn’t familiar with, the anacreontic, which is a somewhat whimsical form in seven-syllable rhymed couplets, short and lyric with an emphasis on wine and love, specifically. (It’s Ancient Greek, appropriated by the English Augustans et al.) I’ve had this one scene from some years ago (along with several others, naturally) floating around my head lately, and though this little ditty doesn’t do it justice, I got thinking about triple goddess myths, fates, petitions, oracles, and psychedelic drugs as a result. Seemed to fit, more or less! And it gave me some Thom Gunn echoes that I enjoy.

Don’t take it too seriously, though, nor the other poems I’ve written about these semi-mythical figures in this semi-mythical moment. Forget you saw anything. Move along.

Two Anacreontics: the three fates

Their bedroom’s Compostella,
tonight. Pilgrim, come tell the
sisters your hot, secret dreams.
Nothing’s ever as it seems.
Their cocks are out, hard but thin:
they sip cups of mescaline.

Like soap bubbles, meanings fuse
with those dreams: the sisters’ booze
pulls them loose. Given wisdom,
with what coin will you kiss them?
No fear! I’m here, disrober–
chaperone stoned, but sober.

poem-a-thon 10: an advertisement

Well, dang, I’ve been featured on NaPoWriMo today! Thanks for the shout-out, y’all… it warms the cockles of my wee heart. And moreover, I’m equally warmed by the fact that I managed to crank out four poems this afternoon (three of them elsewhere), which means I’ve just got one post to occupy time after workshop tonight. To anyone stopping by here for the first time: I hope you will stay and hang out a while, and enjoy yourselves!

The prompt today is to do an advertisement, which became the simple title here because I couldn’t think of anything else. Tessa and I often have entire conversations to the structure of the Burma Shave doggerel, so it put me in a bit of a cheeky mood, but I went with more of a whimsical Kay Ryan take on safe sex. Make of it what you will, it was my last-ditch end-of-the-afternoon piece, and I am headed out for a few hours. (Oulipost poem for the day to follow later…)

And while I’m preaching, if you want to support charity through poetry, please donate donate donate and I’ll write you a poem!

An Advertisement

At this time, it’s wise
to mention some facts
and figures regarding
abstention: namely,
its failures vis-a-vis
human biology.
What happens, will
happen. A sensible
boy or girl first
unwraps and unfurls
that filmy rubber cap,
rather than open doors
behind which the matter
is scorched with rashes
and sores. Despite
what people may say,
you could spend
ready cash in worse
ways. At the doc’s,
form a line: look for
the pharmaceutical box
with the suitable size
for $3.99.

poem-a-thon 8: homecoming

Third poem of the day (though only the first post), and it’s only 4:00 PM! I feel pretty swanky about that, considering I have plans and plots to do two more by the end. But it’s eight days in and I’ve already written… 25 I think? I wonder if I can get to 100 poems by the end of the month? Although I think I’ll probably be repeating a lot of themes and language by the end if I do that, and I wonder if it will be that much harder to synthesize the drafts into something with serious legs after the fact…

This is for the NaPoWriMo prompt to do a poem that’s a re-write of a famous one. I chose “the sonnet-ballad” by Gwendolyn Brooks, as it’s one of my favorites of hers (and the form fusion is a wonderful technique). And given my Poem-a-thon hoojazz, the notion of a trans youth being sent to a religious “correctional facility” stood out in my mind; not sure if the voice here is a lover or a sibling, but I got a little heavy-handed either way. Yeesh, I have to start writing lighter…

(sonnet-ballad after Gwendolyn Brooks)

My prince, my prince, what has become of you?
They scraped your polished nails and washed your face
to make you right, they said. I don’t know who
this boy is, slouching homeward in your place.
On Sundays, mother wears her best disgrace
while father burns your rouge, your skirts, your weaves.
My prince, whose leatherette was trimmed with lace,
you’ve come undone beneath the hands of thieves,
these holy thieves. And mother prays, believes
the priests will save you; father mends the walls,
ices his knuckles. I’m the one who grieves:
who are you, silent when the night bird calls?
Some sacred knife has sliced your self in two.
My prince, my prince, what has become of you?

renovation twenty-seven: lullaby

Between the whirlwind of activity yesterday, the whirlwind this morning at work before the holiday, and then the trek southward to my parents’, it has been a chore to get anything done for myself at all. But, before I traipse off to dinner, I didn’t want to leave you guys in a lurch, in case someone needs a prompt! There are still a few hours left in the day…

1. “…you showed me your dark workroom…” (Jean Valentine, “Friend,”)
2. “When I see the cradle rocking…” (Donald Hall, “Advent”)
3. “I’ve been living with static in my ears.” (me, “Headphones”)
4. luggage
5. Create a kind of strange mythology to explain something.
BONUS. Break your poem into sentences. Break each sentence across an equal number of lines.
ALTERNATE (5). Talk about when you stopped believing in something.

…and clearly the miserable weather has impacted what I’m thinking about. This one is completely slapdash, I literally wrote it ten minutes ago:


If we consider music
the flowering of noise,
every noise
could be its seed.
There is a spirit
assembling the sound
of rain and sleet
before we hear it.
We’ve tried to lose it
with machinery–
but the need
becomes too great.
Each storm finds us
keeping time with
its primal drum,
its encircling beat.

A better effort tomorrow, I promise you!

renovation nineteen: wasp

Guess what. Another Kay Ryan style poem. I have to shake this out of me (well okay, I don’t have to, I just think I want to add more variety), but maybe the best way to do that is to just write as many as I can… anyway, they’re good for crazy days at work when I have limited time for prompts. Like this one!:

1. “It isn’t easy to catch a living / thing and hold it…” (Diane Seuss, “Toad”)
2. “That all you want is Fame?” (J. Patrick Lewis, “At the Crossroad, Highways 61 and 49)
3. “The one I love will be the one who says…” (me, “Berkshire Blazon”)
4. something unknown that glows in the dark
5. Invent a plausible fact about an object that comes in pairs or sets.
BONUS. Use at least one word with at least five syllables.
ALTERNATE (2). “Everyone said she was a clever woman.” (Margaret Atwood, “Marrying the Hangman”)

I could say that there’s something deeper to this story than there is, but maybe you’ll figure out something I haven’t. I’ll borrow the dictum we have in workshop: if I could have said anything else about the “backstory” here, I would have put it in the poem.


We flinched
when it settled
on Risha’s thumb.
Her pinch was
delicate, fingers
thick from needles
cupped to
envelop it. Wings
pricked the light
as she cast it
out the window–
and then
we could breathe.
Stuck fast with
things, pulled
loose by a pluck
whose ease
was so gentle.

renovation seventeen: melancholia

I was going to try to get through the rest of the month without doing a Kay Ryan style poem; FAIL. Not because I’m not still totally into her work, but because I figured I should start imitating other poets more often. (The pendulum is swinging back towards the Mark Doty side of the spectrum.) But I just was in a mood for a brief Ryanesque ditty, what with the beautiful weather (I’m wearing a T-shirt! and no coat!) and the Sunday meander and all. Of course, tonight I’m headed back up to New York for another week of mayhem, but what can you do.

Here’s the assortment of treats for your Sunday prompt:

1. “I shall burn my house with the rising dawn.” (Robert Penn Warren, “Vision”)
2. “An artist is different from other people because…” (Brian Swann, “Peel”)
3. “Outside, the gulls begin to swivel and wheel.” (me, “Climate Change”)
4. a piece of canvas, not for painting
5. Answer a riddle in a unique and novel way.
BONUS. Make two sets of letters that don’t overlap. Your lines should all begin with letters from one set, and end with letters from the other.
ALTERNATE (5). Ask a question that you can’t answer.

And as often happens with the brief poems, some of the elements got flattened a little bit in mine. (1) turned into self-destruction and dawn, (2) turned into the ink on the finger, (3) and (4) turned into the bay and ships. And I fudged the bonus a bit at the beginning. But overall, I was thinking about artists committing suicide, and how bummed it makes me. Not that this is going to save anyone; this is just an idle thought or two. I just hope the theme doesn’t feel too forced.


Not everyone
refuses it. A couple
welcome the bitter
truce of muzzle
tucked beneath the tongue.
An ink-stained finger
is paralyzed
on the trigger. But they
stop at the brink
when they see
a fresh crop of sun,
or ships plying the bay.
The world being married
to the world,
how can we not go on?
Think of everything
left to say, everything
we’ve carried.