Monthly Archives: June 2012

small steps

I was a small child in the 1960s, when going to the moon went from being a dream to being a reality.  If you asked me where I was when they landed on the moon, I’d tell you I was in a friend’s kitchen, watching from the doorway in my pajamas!

 

small steps

everything was round
the corners of the fridge
the console radio
the bowl covering my head
the high stool with two steps
the smooth calves of my legs
swinging in time to the music
of the electric clippers
the pool of hair at my feet
the fresh pie waiting.

Upstairs I tried to sleep
but the moon called me
back to watch, eyes wide,
hardly comprehending
as the man with the moon-shaped
head stepped down
in black and white
on the tiny screen.

 

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Sets

I’m having fun learning my way around a poetic form called the Luc Bat.  It alternates lines of 6 and 8 syllables, with a rhyme scheme pushing forward on the 6th and 8th syllables.  It goes as follows:

xxxxxA
xxxxxAxB
xxxxxB
xxxxxBxC
xxxxxC
xxxxxCxD
xxxxxD
xxxxxDxE
Robert Lee Brewer wrote a great introduction to this form over at Poetic Asides.

Here’s an example from me – based on a true story.  Every so often, the weight room at the YMCA is thrown into confusion by the arrival of someone who obviously doesn’t need to be working out at all…

 

Sets

Those iridescent blue-
green running shorts, on view in glass
around the room could pass
for rainbows. As the class proceeds
with weights, two shining beads
moisten her neck. She needs to get
a towel and I let
my mind wander. Her set of flies
is next. I notice guys
changing their exercise routine
in ways I’ve never seen
so they can watch that lean body
arch magnificently.
She’s on the mat now, three sets of
crunches, arms raised above
her head, and I would love to know
if she means this floor show
to cause such a commotion. She
is everywhere, yet we
all pretend not to see. Somewhere,
someone drops a weight, their
muffled curse breaks the air, and we
regain reality.
I glance across and see the door
flash. Thank god, she’s off for
a run, to torture poor souls out
on the ball field without
even knowing about it… Wow.

 

Meet Joe

Meet Joe.  Or, Average Joe, to give him his full name.  Joe is the creation of the amazingly talented Emma Gerig, of Goshen, Indiana.

I have always wanted to have a cartoon penguin to accompany my poems – a penguin who is whimiscal but also solid and dependable.  The kind of penguin you could sit down and talk philosophy with, or go bowling with.  The kind of penguin that would be equally happy going skinny dipping, singing late night karaoke, or just visiting the Queen at Buckingham Palace.  A penguin who doesn’t take life too seriously, but takes it deeply, if you know what I mean.  A penguin who would knock you on your rear end if you even thought of hurting the chicks in the nest, but who would also share the last piece of fish if you were hungry.  In short, the kind of penguin I would love to become someday.

I think Emma got it just right, and I’m abosolutely pleased as punch to have Joe on the masthead of this blog.

Thanks, Emma.  You’re amazing.  And welcome to Joe!

Fabulous

Getting ready for a jazz gig this last weekend, I was surfing YouTube for versions of the old song “Making Whoopie.”  It wasn’t long before I found my way to that incredible New Year’s Eve scene from The Fabulous Baker Boys, with Michelle Pfeiffer performing the song on top of a grand piano while Jeff Bridges plays the accompaniment down below without ever looking up (until the end).  Stunning!  And very sexy.

So… in honor of Ms. Pfeiffer:

 

Fabulous

If I could, I would be
that piano, the polished
black mirror on which
you spin and flirt, scarlet
flame descending like a
red flag of challenge,
a demand of surrender
to all that the mind
can conjure if only
one could breathe in here.
I would be the smooth sable
bed on which you shake out
those long blond tresses
resting your head in a sultry
semi-colon just above the
questing hands of the man
who refuses to look up.
I would be the deep dark
joy enveloping your fabulous
red dress, the scarlet tease
in which you somehow refrain
from spilling all your secrets.
I would be the ebony, and the
ivory, on which you place one
outrageous blood-boiling
stiletto as you corkscrew
down to the bench, great
diamond clusters flashing
in the low spotlights, until
you rest your bare neck
against the willing quarry
you have trapped, your
head thrown back, lost
in this smoldering haze
of time and desire.
I would be the quivering
sound board, yielded
entirely to your voice,
thrilling to the midnight
promise of red and black.

 

To share with friends at the fabulous dVerse Poets Pub.

what do you do

 

It’s graduation season here in northern Indiana.  The past two weekends have been taken up with high school graduation parties, awards ceremonies, after-parties, and of course the graduation ceremonies themselves.  This morning, I ran across one of the local valedictorians at the YMCA with his mother.  Yesterday, he had been on stage, addressing his class as they received their diplomas.  Today, he was just another sweaty t-shirt watching ESPN.  He looked tired, self-confident, and yet also… a bit lost.  How do you cope with a huge event?  How do you come to grips with a life passage?  The real work of the summer begins with commencement…

 

what do you do

after the helium balloons
have kissed back to the
ground the gaily painted
crocodile waddled
every back yard wiped
frosting from its teeth
and shed its share of tears
after all the platitudes
have burst in silver bubbles
and the orchestra packed up
after you have swept the
living room and ordered
meatball subs even though
you’re not hungry and
stared at the cards and cut
your toenails at the sink
after you have driven your
mother to the Y and found
yourself running twenty miles
on the treadmill twenty miles
without stopping because
that’s all you know and
there’s nobody to tell you
what to do when you get off

 

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