Notes on Types of Poetry

  1. You look at something you believe should be familiar but see something else, something unexpected. A moment of confusion, you are given a start, seeing something new or strange, out of place or off kilter, in place of what usually passes practically unnoticed. Some like that feeling; others do not. But the feeling, whatever it is, passes. You dismiss the experience as a kind of déjà vu as what you expected to see comes into focus and the other vision, the mirage, the mistake, disappears.

 

  1. That night, you dream of a chess game, even though you don’t play chess. The chess pieces are friends, neighbors, and relatives. The Queen is a woman who walks by your house daily but never says hi. The King is the friendly dog from across the street, always happy to see you. The Knights are kids riding bicycles. The Castles are bell towers full of birds over empty churches. The Pawns are corporate employees you once supervised, riding a desk all day in a building of sealed windows. In those days, you used to dream of getting up from your desk and throwing open a window, a breeze of fresh air blowing all the papers off the desks, creating a ruckus. You are called down to the Personnel Department and summarily fired.

 

  1. You learn a new word, eggcorn. Slips of both the tongue and ears. You make a list of words you frequently misspell, fold the list, and put it into your Moleskin pocket notebook. You save the Moleskin pages for poems that never come. A week later, the Moleskin still empty, you take out your list of frequently misspelled words and throw it away. You make a new list of words you often mishear or mispronounce. You think of getting a dog and naming her faux pas.

 

  1. The plumber arrives to fix the pipe that froze in last winter’s silver thaw. Something about him smells familiar. It’s a stale beer odor. It’s late afternoon, a hot summer day, and he must have been out at lunch drinking beer, perhaps in the lot of food carts located down by the creek at the bottom of the neighborhood. You look into the back of his van. An old blue and white striped mattress lines the floor. The sidewalls are cubbyholes full of tools and plumbing parts.

 

  1. The power has gone out again, another rolling summer blackout. You light a candle. The phone and Internet are also out. You think absurdly of walking down to the corner to use the pay phone – the pay phone was taken out years ago. The evening is dark and quiet and peaceful, and you decide this is your favorite kind of poetry, the kind that creates a still clearness, and the stars are like rocks on the floor of a shallow, smooth running stream that ebbs and flows with the salt water tides. Suddenly the power comes back on, the fan spins, the radio blaring, the streetlight flooding through the open front window. A door slams. A car starts up. The lights flicker indecisively. Blackouts are only rarely epical.

 

  1. A young woman knocks at the door, a canvasser. Lonely for someone to talk to, you invite her inside. You make tea. Her skin is like parchment, full of colorful tattoos, pictures and words. And she has piercings, one in her upper lip, another in her ear, and a tiny diamond on the side of her nose. Her eyebrows are painted black shellac. She comes quickly to the purpose of her mission: she is selling low cost cremation plans. If you buy now, pre-ordering, before you die, you save lots. She’s already been able to help several of your neighbors. Your block is a gold mine of old people.

 

  1. You’ve the kids for the day, to babysit, day care. You get out large, thick sheets of brightly painted paper. Everyone takes a pair of scissors and cuts alphabet letters out of the sheets. You string the letters together with clear fish line and hang them from the ceiling with thumb tacks, creating slow moving mobiles that say different things depending on the breeze coming through the open windows. Everyone lies on the floor with pillows and blankets, watching the letters turn this way and that, reading aloud new words that appear.

 

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?