Category Archives: dVerse

While You Wait

Railroad tracks 2Remembering a local business that disappeared in the name of progress.  I can’t show you a picture, because it’s gone.  But here’s the general location, right next to the tracks where it sat before the new underpass went in. Written to share with friends at Poetic Bloomings and the dVerse Poets Pub.

 

While you wait

Before they built the underpass there was
an oil change place by the railroad crossing
on Main Street. Stuck waiting for a train?
their brazen candy-stripe sign inquired,
Have your oil changed while you wait!

and I often did, screwing up my courage
to sample their outrageously strong coffee,
thick as 10W30, hot as the devil’s arse,
while the train rattled slowly past and the
grease monkeys scampered around the bay.

One time I read a book on their table about
sibling rivalry. Another I remember staring
out the dirt-smeared window at the quietly
falling snow. I thought great thoughts there.
I decided straight-up: God loved the railroad.

But in the end not even God could help against
the wrecking ball of progress. Now I don’t wait
for trains any more. I get my oil changed in
a place with a stuffed bass on the wall.
It’s too clean. And the coffee has no soul.

 

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sunrise

sunrise

 

A little poem about patience.

 

sunrise

to do the same thing over and again
expecting a different outcome
is sometimes called insanity

i call it hope

 

To share with friends over at the wonderful dVerse community.

Our real work

Over at Poetic Asides, the November Poem-A-Day challenge is in full swing. Last Thursday, the prompt was to talk back to a poet. I chose to respond to Wendell Berry, not in disagreement but rather in appreciation. His poem The Real Work begins:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work.

This slightly awkward rondeau is my response.

 

Our real work

Our real work puts on a hat and knits
outside a café, takes a drag and spits
into the wind, grinning like it can see
something we don’t – about mortality,
futility, about the shoe that fits

so perfectly we love it while it splits
our soul like weathered skin, until it hits
us in this stranger’s gaze – this cannot be
our real work!

And we are empty, scared out of our wits
by ticking clocks, by love, by snake-filled pits
we never chose. The figure strikes a knee
and we both laugh at our absurdity,
and then trade hats, while on the table sits
our real work.

 

Blaze

 

Not so long ago, I inherited a coat that had belonged to a far-flung relative.  I learned a lot about him from what I found in the pockets.  The more I learned, the more I appreciated the man.  I wrote this villanelle in his honor.

 

Blaze

The coat is surely from his east coast days
those years in Boston no one talks about
when he untied the strings a thousand ways.

I find a matchbook from the nightclub BLAZE
unopened in a pocket – without doubt
the coat is surely from his east coast days.

I think of him on stage, the thick-breathed haze
above his head and how the crowd would shout
when he untied the strings a thousand ways,

so far from home, a farm boy in that maze
of all that drugs and rock n roll could spout.
The coat is surely from his east coast days

and now I smile to think of all the ways
he honored her along that sacred route
when he untied the strings a thousand ways.

I treasure every unstruck match that says
some people love home best by getting out.
The coat is surely from his east coast days
when he untied the strings a thousand ways.

 

Kenwood House

One of my favourite spots in North London is Kenwood House, home to a marvelous tea shop and an even better collection of fine art.  Among the jewels of the collection are two paintings, one by Rembrandt and one by Vermeer.  The Rembrandt is a late self-portrait, brooding and disheveled.  The Vermeer is youthful and filled with his particular gift of inner light.  Across a single room, the old man and the young woman have watched each other for years.  I wrote this rather loose-limbed triolet in their memory.

 
Kenwood House

The woman playing the guitar would smile
softly at the dark-dressed man who held brushes like keys.
There in the sunroom, I would come to stand quietly while
the woman playing the guitar would smile
luminous, radiant, knowing she was being watched, to beguile
the painter opposite – keeping her innocence across the centuries
the woman playing the guitar would smile
softly at the dark-dressed man who held brushes like keys.

 

Nobody warned me

The weather is turning here in Indiana. Not quite as icy as the picture above – at least not yet… but the delicious chill in the air has seeped into my brain.  I’ve been thinking a lot about ice, and icebergs, and depths in relationships, and hidden things.  What amazingly fascinating creatures we all are, worthy of respect and always a second look.  I haven’t always been the best at seeing what is in front of my face.  Here’s a rondeau about love and ice and loss – not about any one person in particular, but maybe about us all.

 

Nobody warned me

Nobody warned me when the front door shut
a piece of me would leave as well. The rut
worn deep into my heart from long routine,
our blunted expectations, set the scene
for this unraveling. Perhaps what cut

me most was knowing I had missed a glut
of signs, had let the feeling in my gut
diminish to a whisper. What did it mean
nobody warned me?

If I had known I might have altered what
I said. Instead those icy caps that jut
above the surface chilled us with the sheen
of easy waters over pain unseen.
I could not reach you then – I would have, but
nobody warned me.

 

Preemptive

Submitting work to journals can be quite a circus.  It’s an act of will to keep sending work out.  I imagine it’s also quite an ordeal to read every well-intentioned piece that comes through a journal’s mailbox.  I sometimes wonder if editors ever get tired of being polite…

 

Preemptive

Dear sir, it has come to our attention that
you are contemplating submitting a poem
to our journal. We are contacting you now
in the hope of avoiding this regrettable
prospect. Prompt action on your part now
will save us all precious time later.

While we have your attention, we are
somewhat concerned you may be tempted
to pen another composition today. With all
good will, we beg you to resist this urge, and
instead give yourself to something better suited
to your talents. Like brick laying. Or crochet.

Should you feel the need to contact us
further regarding your work or our
literary standards, please do not do so
in writing. In fact, if possible, simply
lie down and wait for the urge to pass.
With all best wishes.

 

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