NaNo(inPo)WriMo 6 – An Idyll

An Idyll

Bone idle
bone dry
I have a bone to pick with you

bone shards
bone head
make no bones about it

Bone up on it, rag and bone man, throw
me a bone, grab hold tight on my
bone of contention, find what was
bred in my bone, yes dig for the bones in
it, measure the skeletons that rattle
in my closet, and after give rest to
my weary bones.

blood and bone
telling bone
to the marrow of the bone

knick knack paddy whack
the patient dog gets the fattest bone

fe fi foh fum
Death smells the blood of every one
and grinds their bones to make
his bread

I rolled them bones and took my chance
still Death it was got the bigger half
of my wishbone

My bone cleaveth to my skin, and to my flesh—
about this, there are most surely
no bones

NaNo(inPo)WriMo #5 – what is known is not always true

5. what is known is not always true

a tisket a tasket
a something something basket

mareseatoats and doeseatoats
and littlelambseativy

and a little lamb followed her to
school one day, school one day
a lamb followed her to school one day
which was against

follow follow fallow

to lie then fallow which means not wild
but plowed and then unseeded
and how has that never been a synonym
for fucking while wearing a condom?

fellow with a fallow phallus
a fallow phallus had the fellow
if a fellow has a fallow phallus
how can he have children that
a lamb can daily follow?

and if a fellow with a fallow phallus
nonetheless had a child could the fallow
phallus protect her? Wherever there are lambs
there are wolves nearby and that’s
a fact.

The International Wolf Center interrupts this rambling
to state unequivocally that the inevitability
of wolves stalking lambs is a fallacy,
and fallow fields left full of wildlife
will keep a hungry wolf from traveling
far afield to eat your lambs.

Wolves eating lambs = bad
Dogs eating lambs made into chow = good
It always comes back to purpose you see

Besides nearly all of the lamb-eating wolves
are wolves of the whistling human
variety. One such wolf attacked my
lamb leaving her bloody but alive
to be hunted again. Which is how I knew it was
a human wolf for actual wolves kill to eat
then go back to their peaceful female-headed
family lives while human wolves
say “tsk tsk the child reads too many
fairy tales her imagination is out
of control”

a tisk tisk, a task task,
a basket full of human crap

for more info on wolf/human interaction in reality, not myth, see:Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

NaNo(inPo)WriMo 4 – A Good Life

A good life

Death in the country is I suppose
somewhere on the psychotic scale.
The old farm dog when he dies is
sobbed for and mourned and buried with a stone
marker and the stories about him grow
to legendary while the calf you saved by
bottle feeding 10 times a day gets sent to slaughter
and eaten through a long cold winter

and both animals had good lives, that’s how you learn
to understand it, having had a good life,

though one was much much shorter and ended
in a planned and choreographed murder
and dismemberment.

Stay practical. Everything has its
purpose and purpose matters more than
time. Wasteful stupid waste to
outlive your purpose.

The purpose of a calf is to be beef.
The purpose of a dog is to be guard
and companion.
The purpose of a truck is to run.

Purpose over? Time to go. No sense
being sentimental over what by its
nature is finished.

But half the barns round this way
hold an old rusting truck. No sense
in being sentimental.

NaNo(inPo)WriMo 3 – Clearing the Path

Clearing the path

This truck used to be a bull not the actual
truck although I suppose with the chrome running
boards and stacks and AM stereo it was
a horny young bull but I mean

that here in the old lean-to on the sunny south side
of the barn was the stall for the resident bull the
minotaur of my childhood nightmares. Come near
the fence and he would charge and the look in

his eyes told you he could open the locked
gate anytime he chose and we would run screaming not
in the kid way of then falling to the ground and screaming
in laughter but solid sweaty fear so the whole backyard was off

limits. Except to the barn cat named fuck
I’ve forgotten her name I always knew her name
the things you think you can afford to forget in the
maze of your mind will do you in, that’s a fact

but that cat was fearlessly evil she would stir
up the neighborhood dogs and restless they
would pursue faster nearly snatching her
tail and then she would leap between the rails

into the pasture and the dogs would bay
bloodlust and the bull out of nowhere would bear
down upon them while the cat sat on the trough
cleaning her paws until her path was cleared to saunter

back to the porch to beg cream. She died doing that.
Led a pack of dogs to the their doom, dove over
the third rail and dropped dead of a heart attack.

She died doing what she loved most to do, died at the
pinnacle of her attitude. She hated kids as much
as dogs, loved only herself and my grandma
pouring cream. I still carry scars from her claws
I still fear her still want to be her.

NaNo(inPo)WriMo #2

Stones

So goddammed much stuff broken
here the truck’s axle all the messing
around with the motor just to lie on the rough
of the idle just to imagine

what was broken in the past or maybe
the past was whole but each second
of its immense feet marching across
the old farmhouse floor wore

down the foundation so life now
is iffy enough and the future
is bound to fall in on all
who survive to see it

I won’t survive the fall

I mean this fall I mean not some time
later when the last bits of these floors are
splinters in the last toes of the last children here
I mean lying here I’ve pulled the choke

back out and the rust of the truck floor rattles
with the motor’s idle roar, clacks the knobs
of the window handles shakes this seat
shakes my bones I’d rather

stay here and open the throttle wide
and let the engine shake my bones apart
rattle loose the hard dark stones my bones
shown in black and white are harboring

I mean I was made to the rhythm
of this truck’s shimmy-shake and if
I want to be unmade here as well
that’s my own goddamed decision

NaNo(inPo)WriMo 2014 #1

National Novel in Poetry Writing Month – which I just invented, or at least the name.

So long away from writing, the crazy uncertainties of my life blocking up all the passageways that should be open. But here I am, trying again.

The first lines of this poem came to me this morning, I didn’t know where it was going and still I don’t, but here it is. NaNo(inPo)WriMo #1

first poem after long silence

late afternoon out to the barn
keys and can of leaded gas in hand
rusty slide of door rolling back
grandpa’s faded truck

door locks never used not even once

lifting the steel hood to check
the connections on last week’s
new battery, pulling out
the cardboard scrap to check
the size of the oil stain

rusty chrome of door handle

hinges and your voice both
rumbling scratches so long
since either prayed

the smell of him might still remain

the imprint of his left fingers on
the back of the choke lever
youtube says pull it one half inch

but the heart is looking now, seeing
more than a camera ever could
pulling the lever as far as it will come
spraying WD-40, sliding it in and out again

until it comes no farther

how can the key be so small?

In it goes, turning and hoping
turning and holding breath
turning and a click and a sputter

feet waltzing:
pedal choke clutch
pedal choke clutch
pedal choke clutch

sputtering and dying
sputtering and gasping
sputtering and shuddering
and then

the closest thing to a purr this old engine
ever had

letting the engine run
lying down across the seat
decades of dust and yet the smell
of hay and ponies and the carhartts
soaked with gas and engine oil he
wore home from work
six days a week

perfume of a life lived with
limited choices, pony manure enough
to grow tomatoes wider than
a supper plate

just laying, the jerky engine idle
the rhythm of your
conception

For the Love of This Blue Planet 7/26 @ 7 pm

For the Love of This Blue Planet: An Evening of Eco-Poetry
Saturday July 26, 7pm, Big Blue Marble Bookstore

I’ll be reading as part of this great group of poets. Three of us are contributors to the anthology The Lake Rises: poems to and for our bodies of water: Lisa Wujnovich, Sam Hall, and me. Three of the poets are local to Philly: Hila Ratzabi, Anne-Adele Wight, and MaryAnn L. Miller.

All of us think and write and dream and scheme about how to use language to reflect the hard realities of human effects on nature — we speak of the beauty, of the horrors, of resilience, of a deep sense of connection to our world and all it contains.

Join us!

2 upcoming readings

Hi Fans and Friends,

I have two readings coming up:

Wednesday, June 25th, 6-8 pm, as part of an event called “Bold New Voices” at the National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 South Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106. I’ll be reading some of my own new work, and new translations from the Israeli poet Shez. Map for NMAJH

Wednesday, July 9th, 7 pm, as part of the Moonstone Series at Fergie’s Pub in Center City at 1214 Sansom Street. I’ll be reading with Amy Small-McKinney. Map for Fergie’s

Because this little poem made me remember what “yearning” means

From the Telephone
Florence Ripley Mastin

Out of the dark cup
Your voice broke like a flower.
It trembled, swaying on its taut stem.
The caress in its touch
Made my eyes close.

Bio

Side note from official bio, but not “side” to me: When Florence Josephine Mastin was in her 20s and already a published poet, she decided to replace her girlish middle name with “Ripley.

Florence Ripley Mastin was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Piermont, New York. She earned a BA from Barnard College and spent many years teaching English at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. Mastin was a popular teacher, and her student Bernard Malamud described her classes as “unusually exciting.” Her collections of poetry include Green Leaves (1918), Cables of Cobweb (1935), Over the Tappan Zee (1962), and Flowers: A Birthday Book (1964). Her work was regularly published in journals such as Poetry and national periodicals such as the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune, among others. The New York State Commission on Historic Observances chose Mastin’s poem “Freedom’s Dream” for its Hudson-Champlain Celebration in 1959; the poem was also awarded the Freedom Foundation Medal. Mastin retired from teaching in 1952 and returned to Piermont, where she died in 1968.