Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Edward Lear

After a trip to the UK, my bf brought back a book of children's verse. A joke, I believe because he often thinks I exhibit childlike behaviour. Anyway, when I opened it, I turned right to the section by Edward Lear, specifically a poem called "The Jumblies" which made me think of Moko Jumbies, but I don't have a poem about them. Below is Edward Lear's introduction to himself and then mine.

How Pleasant to know Mr. Lear

"How pleasant to know Mr.Lear!"

Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few think him pleasant enough.

His mind is concrete and fastidious,
His nose is remarkably big;
His visage is more or less hideous,
His beard it resembles a wig.

He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers,
Leastways if you reckon two thumbs;
Long ago he was one of the singers,
But now he is one of the dumbs.

He sits in a beautiful parlour,
With hundreds of books on the wall;
He drinks a great deal of Marsala,
But never gets tipsy at all.

He has many friends, lay men and clerical,
Old Foss is the name of his cat;
His body is perfectly spherical,
He weareth a runcible hat.

When he walks in waterproof white,
The children run after him so!
Calling out, "He's gone out in his night-
Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!"

He weeps by the side of the ocean,
He weeps on the top of the hill;
He purchases pancakes and lotion,
And chocolate shrimps from the mill.

He reads, but he cannot speak, Spanish,
He cannot abide ginger beer:
Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,
How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!

How Lucky To Know Ms. O’Dea

How lucky to know Ms. O’Dea
For she’ll always tell you the truth:
That you look washed out in gray
Or have something stuck in your tooth.

Her brain is full of opinions,
Her head is too big for her neck;
She’ll treat you as though you’re her minions
And bid you to cork the Malbec.

She throws an impeccable party
And gives an untouchable toast,
But before the guests arrive tardy,
She’s castrated her husband, the host.

Her lines, she claims, are metrical,
But her feet are rather flat.
Her breasts are far from symmetrical,
And her fingers are wrinkled and fat.

She’ll go to your baby’s christening
And kiss his hockey-puck face,
Then ask whoever’s listening
Who to blow to get out of this place.

When she strolls down the hallway she thinks
The boys are all looking her way,
Which they are because she stinks
Of halitosis and Ben-Gay.

She cries when she sees Sid & Nancy
And gets off to a Mexican flick.
She subscribes to Teen People, Cat Fancy,
And Poetry, which remains in plastic.

Her pride’s that she’s fluent in French,
But she can’t tell parlance from parler.
She’s the MVP of the bench.
How lucky to know Ms. O’Dea.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


My sister Tami, inspired by some freelance work she did for Extreme Makeover Home Edition's forthcoming season premiere, has started a new graphic design business, Poppy Copy and Design www.poppycopyanddesign.com. So I sent her my poppy poem.

Photograph of Poppy Field in a Hollow near Giverny at the BMA

A black and white of her between the piece 
and him. He must've taken it from his hip,
a click before a guard could see the flash. 
Monet is more a blur than usual. 
Details that aren't there aren't even there. 

Her face is half exposed. Her left hand's thumb
and fingers are extended out. She feels 
the texture of the painting through the air--
like how you'd feel a lover's hand when pressed 
against the subway glass before you pull
away. But still, despite the black and white
and out of focusness, despite Monet's
technique and the photographer's improv,
the poppy field shines through and tints her cheek.

Friday, August 27, 2010

For Seamus

My friend Seamus' blog http://romancethesea.blogspot.com/ is all about having sex with waves. Not really. But sort of. Anyway, this one's for him.


At night, I lie and hear the waves. I match
my breath to them. I beg for their stampede
to reach my second-story door then break
it down. Rush over me and hold me flat
against the bed with unseen muscles. Make
me drown under their weight, surrender to
their pressure, fight my normal buoyancy.

Engravers, painters try to capture them,
but I give in and let them capture me.
I know how futile replication is.
Courbet had to admit defeat, could not
come close to representing them, but what
he learned from his least still subject, he used
to make his deadest canvas come to life.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jell-O, the Wrong Kind of Jam and a Volcano

Did I mention that my boyfriend is British? And I am not? Well, he next asked for poems about "jam" and "geothermic activity." I came up with the three poems below. The Jell-O connection works like this: British "jam" is American "jelly" while British "jelly" is American "Jell-O." That's how I got to Jell-O. Since that was a little weak, I also gave him a traffic jam. And a volcano qualifies as geothermic activity, right?

Break Out the Power Tools

Somewhere between the width of floating eye-
ball filaments and the width of fishing line.
That’s the size hole that I could drill into
my heart, if I could find a drill bit small
enough. My right hand could keep writing while
my left hand cleanly drilled a hole so thin
that when the spinning sliver was removed,
it’d heal like Wolverine or Jell-O cubes.

While making dinner for myself, I sliced
into the web of skin between my left
hand’s thumb and pointer. I rinsed and sealed it right
away and bound the digits for a week.
The cells rejoined, repaired themselves, and now
the scar has made that spot a little stronger.

Beats per Second, Miles per Hour

We’re tortoises to hummingbirds
so slow that they don’t even see
us move and wonder how we got
from there to there. Snails are simply rocks.

When NASCAR drivers aren’t at work,
they’re forced to share our roads. To them,
we’re a traffic jam at 80 miles
per hour. A traffic jam’s reverse.

They advertise themselves with iridescent plumes,
kill insects in midair, hover to refuel.
Crashes scatter fragments of viridian
and ruby smirched with almost black. My cousin mounts
a piece of wreckage on her wall and calls it art.

Où Sont Les Neiges?

On June 6, 1816 two consecutive snowstorms, caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions, covered Canada, New England and parts of New York state.

I left Friday happy hour at nine p.m.
When I’d arrived, it hadn’t snowed a flake.
Driving north, snow stuck like wads of phlegm
or wads of wet TP. I couldn’t make
it home so thought I’d try your place. Stoned Jake
answered the door. I asked, “Is Gavin here?”
then crashed with the cats ‘til you nuzzled me awake.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

“It’s not a date,” I told my mom before
you came around for Sunday night TV.
Mulder and Scully were locked behind some door
when my whole block lost electricity.
“It must be fate.” You scooted next to me.
I groped upstairs to get another beer
and chugged it down while you stepped out to pee.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

Your local bar was open, blizzard threat
or not. I parked, got smokes, defeated you
at every pinball game, or you just let
me win. By the time we got kicked out at two,
the lot was white. I grabbed you by your blue,
frayed hoody strings and pulled you in before fear
could stop me. Ten minutes passed then I withdrew.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

June of 1816 saw a storm
dump snow throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Folks stayed home and kept each other warm.
Why wasn’t there a storm like that this year?

(originally published in Measure, Summer 2008)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Poem Game Begins: Vegetables and Anthropomorphism

In July, my new boyfriend asked to read some of my poetry. I have a lot of poems. Some published; some not. I asked him to help me choose what to show him by giving me some topics. He gave me "vegetables" and "something non-human that's taken on human characteristics." Too easy. I sent him the two below.

We've done it once since (which will be the next post), and I am curious to see what else he comes up with and if I can continue to find poems from my collection that satisfy his requests. I have a feeling some of them are going to be a bit of a stretch. He doesn't know about this blog and probably won't ever see it. I'd like to keep it that way, so he doesn't have any pressure or influence in making his choices for poem requests.

The Corner Garden

The corner garden’s growing weeds,
obscene zucchinis, and tomatoes spilling seeds.

At least a month has passed since I last walked the rows
where only that which wants to spoil grows.

Hoping to discover something sweet,
I search among the overripe and ripped. Between my feet,

a softball of a watermelon sits.
Uneven markings trick my eye; I think that it’s

been squashed or cracked,
but passed between my palms, I feel it warm, intact.

I bet it can’t be good, but something makes me wonder what I’ll find
inside: weevils, powder, solid rind.

I grab the melon, leave
the rest to rot. It rolls toward the sink before I cleave

the ball in half. The core is organ red. I’ve lost
the bet. I scrape some off the top like frost

across a windshield, only it’s not cold,
and tastes like honey, gold.

Island Rain

I hear it first. A thousand typing girls
with Rockette legs and pencil skirts float down
the mountain towards my flat. Front lines descend
into the sea while reinforcements crest
the hill. They scramble in stiletto heels
across my corrugated metal roof
then slide into the gutter drains and pipes.
The sun returns. The carnage silences.
My cistern’s full of pantyhose and pearls.