Sitting in the City

Maple out spray maying
ribbons of flowers
twirl the girls
round the pole boys
pulling with bicycles
festoons falling
yards full of toys
and fickle mud.
Sitting out warm summer evenings, distant wildfires raking up the dry brush, smoke seen by astronauts as far away as January, surf still rolling up the beaches all around the world, I think of those days and nights six months opposite and reflect on the perfection of earth time.

 

We have “seen the travail”:

“A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been” (Ecclesiastes, 3:6-15, KJV).

 

But from the time the alarm clocks call and coo across the great divide, and while some rush to it others delay with snooze, to the resetting of the alarms at night, all grow quickly and remain forever impatient with time.

 

So time moves on: the commute doglegs left as the slow lane stops while drivers get out and pee behind the rail; cells go dead and news is lost forever; the lady in front of you in line at the coffee drive-thru is ordering lattes with lemon twists and chocolate sprinkles atop whipped cream delight – for her whole office; you stop for a jam filled doughnut, already late, and you don’t give a damn about the new diet.

 

Walking to the front door from the parking lot you wonder if you’ve worn the right clothes for the day. You forgot your sack lunch. The café is serving mac and cheese. You promise a nice salad for dinner. Someone has tossed a cigarette butt in your path – how rude is that! By the time you leave the office, it’s dark out and you’ve forgotten the doughnut and the salad.

 

July table in the shade
under the apple tree:
pickles, potato salad,
baked beans, deviled
eggs, bottles of beer,
water balloon toss,
evening of pops,
night of dust.
By the end of August,
the sun slipping south
at an alarming speed,
the activists suggest
a presidential decree:
a declaration of
a state of emergency,
plan parades in glee.
Winter whistles restlessly,
inflows of wet and dry cold,
floods and long lines
at the flu counter,
impeccable timing,
seasons on earth,
neither hurried nor harried,
quit nor balked.

 

Vowel Motion & Consonant Commotion

Vowel Motion

accelerate encyclopedia inch along
oval verbs Uranus Your > yr
wave  ~ func
funa  [this space left blank] fank
fenk fink Fonk
funk  [purposelessly] California
Faulkner Mississippi Oak Grove
Umbrella  #dearjohn Adieu Aeiou – Ah, You!

Consonant Commotion

Click and clack bicycle rack tongue and tooth
cat myrrh-th parts, spokes and wheels
synth Dry gin groove
Sly tryst Hymnal perpendicular hill
WHY THIS?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AND NOT WHAT?
 nothing Peaceful city  nothing goin’ on
Slow whisper shy summer down by the wyrm bay
consonants moving by & by

 

Variation of Psalm 100

Build joy full fool noise
sweet glands sing
gladness come singing Blake’s blacksmith
not we our own selfies we are people grazing
Go through open doors with thanksgiving
and into each home in song with guitars
tambourines and harmonicas clapping hands
ringing hullabaloo thanks to all Celebrate
descry each blessing for this
good mercy ever
lasting and this truth endures
to all to all to all

 

On the Back Nine

Nothing, no good hits on this
irrelevant and irreverent
nevertheless glorious morn.

Ritual brings them here,
always the same four,
carrying clubs and beer,

spreading foul shots
and fresh cheer
over the warm green.

Far into the back nine
a fox crosses
their fairway in a jig.

A twisted old man in an oilskin
coat chases after the fox,
waves, and disappears.

The 4 Hour Blues

(for Langston Hughes)

We start work at 6,
break at 8,
go again till 10,
then spread thin,

straining hoom
across the street,
pay to park the horn
in the barn.

4 plus 8 hours of bars:
menus, bibs, gases, and books.
We buy these blues,
coughing up blue stained bills,

so our blues may change
to greens.
We play the 4 hour blues.
We play the 4 hour blues.

Out on a Limb, and Text Mess Age

Out on a Limb

Out, out
reach,
be

Wary
stool
legged three,

Eye on
far off
complacency.

All that fall must
spring from this
stretch sketch.

Text Mess Age

  1. time u off?
    W?
    eta u gt hm?
    IDK
    Udu 2
    LEAF ME BEE!
    yr so techy
    U WATY?
  1. dry clothes pinned
    drift aloft couple
    leaning from window
    two squirrels wrestle
    in grass & chase
    after one another
    across clothesline,
    hopping over
    upside down
    stick figures,
    cell phone lost below
    in rampant weeds.
    VERY NICE. U WASH DISHES? VACUUM?
    FIRE UP BBQ?

Lost on Me – Fables Sans Morals

Some time ago, a friend mentioned driving north on I-5 with California plates and being pulled over by the local highway patrol around Olympia. “In Washington,” the patrolman said, “we like to think of the speed limit as more than a mere suggestion.” Apparently, the self-satisfaction rewarded from this afflatus meant that all the more that was needed to restore calm to that section of his freeway was a warning. Was this a cop whose partner was a muse?

The first critical review of my poem “16 Tiny Camels Found in Wood Box in Garage Stale,” up Monday at VERStype, began, “Beyond me my friend! I love the first line but lost on the rest.” “Ah! fellow musician,” I replied, “we often get lost on the rests.” I had, no doubt somewhat obnoxiously, tagged a few friends on Facebook to bring their attention to the newly published poem. Why? We are surrounded by poetry. No wonder erasure has become popular. If poetry habitually obliterates meaning, this is because poetry speaks allusively. We might define poetry as what can only suggest. But must we erase ourselves out of every poem? New hazards require new signs, new designs.Do Not

To allude is to hint. To hint is to keep something hidden, perhaps from fear, or to play, or to tease, or because to point directly is either impossible or too dangerous (like looking directly at an eclipsed sun), or erases too much from the peripheral shadows. Maybe poetry is a peripheral device, necessary to navigate around meaning. A road sign does not have time to solve every ambiguity. Stop means stop. But after stopping, we can go. Maybe the ubiquitous Stop sign should read: PAUSE. But the idea (stop) is not up for discussion, for our consideration. But what does a bevy of signs mean? We are surrounded by instructions. It’s easy to get confused. Road signs are like poems; they speak allusively. But poetry may not be instructional.

Sign Stories.jpeg

But there are all manner of poems, and the function of poetry may vary with each poem. And language is an ogre whose sleep poetry tries not to disrupt, usually to little avail. There are a few one way streets in our neighborhood. Occasionally, a miscreant driver goes the wrong way, honking and freaking out at all the drivers going the correct way. That’s what the poetic experience is sometimes like – that sudden moment when you realize you’re the swine driving the wrong way down a one way street, the epiphany sending you up and over the curb, everyone honking and shouting suggestions. Every sign contains a moral. Poetry is amoral. The perfect poem traffics not in values but in virtues.

VERStype is a new venue devoted to a particular kind of poetry. How we say something is as important as what we say, and how we say something includes both shape and syntax, tone and style, font and CamelCase. Jazz drums used to be called the skins, and to skin is to zest, peel, flay. How do you do that in a poem? Moving toward a lyric that mobilizes concrete techniques to carry melody and choreography with images of surreal dream dance. “JAZZSKIN” was published a long time ago in the El Camino College arts magazine, Silent Quicksand. No quicker way to obscurity, my friend Tim quipped at the time.

jazzskin2 (1)