Regular Poem: Vice

28 Aug

There’s nothing
new under the sun. All
is vanity and vexation
of spirit.

I open this way both
because it’s true
(all scripture is profitable
for doctine and instruction etc.)
and because it’s the way
all my poems should open.
They’re all the same, even the one
I didn’t write
two weeks ago
and then
really
didn’t write
when I realized
Miranda Lambert had written it
for me.

Country western songs
are all the same, too.
Patty Loveless
probably wrote it for her.
Loretta Lynn probably
wrote it for Patty.
Kitty Wells probably
wrote it for Loretta.

And Solomon
wrote it for all of us.
David wrote it for him.
And the Holy Spirit breathed it
into him,
convicted him
to cry out
and accompany himself on his harp,
selah.

(To the chief musician,
most country western songs
are in a major key,
but why?
Yours,
A)

You start a fire from
the bottom.
Catch the tinder
and it lights the kindling and frame
and then the rest
burns, too. Slowly sometimes.
The sins
I’ve thrown
on the top of the pile–
vices to add to my list (that
was the starting point
of that poem I didn’t write
two weeks ago)–
are the ones I’d like
to see consumed
first.
I should’ve shoved them
in the bottom.
But that’s so dense already.
How’s any air supposed to get in?

How fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous
(that’s how the Amplified Bible often further explains the word blessed)
it is then
that the Holy Spirit
breathes
so much.

Regular Poem: Significant Quotations

20 Jun

Where were we
when we were here
before?

It’s one of those
repeated phrases
meaningful and meaningless
a motif
(bigger than a symbol
smaller than a theme
I used to explain
when I used to do
that sort of thing).

“But can’t
an author just write something
and it’s that something
and not something else?”
someone would inevitably say.
“Yes, but that’s not
why they pay me the big bucks,”
current me would’ve glibly retorted
if she’d been there.
I can’t recall
what I probably said then–
some diatribe
about the merit of literature
some obtuse
thing
to inspire thought
but mostly confound
and that’s why I got fired.
(That’s another motif.)

Regardless
here I am again,
here under a full moon,
a rare astronomical phenomenon,
like so many before–
blood moons and eclipses and super moons–
each coming and passing
and all promising and not satisfying,
romantic yet nothing–
“Do you always
watch for the longest day in the year
and then miss it?”

If my voice
must be full of money
why can’t I be, too?

Regular Poem: Upon Having My Convertible Fixed

31 May

One might forget
just how very
economical
her stories tend to be:
each character
gets her money’s worth–
reappears,
echoes,
trades exposition amd rising action
for a cameo in the climax.
Sure there are red herrings,
but no 11th-hour villains,
diablo ex machina
to pin the whole thing on.
It’s all a tight affair–
brass tacks mystery,
each scene integral to the plot
with a few descriptions
of gowns tossed around
just to set the stage.
Dialogue is terse, serviceable, interspersed
with synospes of talking we didn’t need to hear.

And then there’s Nancy herself–
just a blonde girl
in a blue convertible
who talks
more than she deduces.
Things just seem
to happen to her–
she finds herself
in all these situations
where clues
fall
into her lap
and she recognizes them as such,
where people
just say things
and she listens.
She connects dots,
but all the dots are in a perfect line–
no scatter plot for Miss Drew–
a perfect, neat mystery,
tied up and packaged
so that it will fit in her trunk
behind the vinyl stack.

I’ve always had an affinity for her,
felt some special thing
when I thought of her
and not just because I’m a blonde girl in a blue convertible.
I always expect
to see that stranger again
and realize what he’d said had been
a clue to some mystery–
but the funny thing is
when you keep your eyes open
this happens more often than it ought to–

like life sometimes feels
like some sprawling, rambling James Joyce extravaganza,
some dark Faulkner allegory
and you sit to write down the facts of it–
the observed and observable rather than the felt and thought–
and it comes out so small and
Nancy Drew–
and there’s a laconic beauty
in it.

We never hear
Nancy’s feminist diatribes,
rueful musings,
philosophical rants,
existential dilemmas,
but we hear
her heart
of detection and truth and justice and compassion.

She’s boiled down
not hard boiled
but boiled clean.

Regular Poem: The Arpeggio Conspiracy

30 Apr

an arpeggio’s
an arpeggio
they’re all the same
except they’re not of course
especially when
one of them
is so ugly

so ugly
it’s arresting
in its ugliness
and you look at the sheet music
and the chord it’s
ripped up and scattered from
isn’t ugly–
just regular–
not even like a suspended fourth
or anything

it’s ugly
like the drone string
on a perpetually out of tune
appalachian instrument

or perhaps more accurately
it’s ugly
like a transmission
that won’t shift
to the next gear
without a lot of
complaining about it

it’s like
watching a wobbly ceiling fan
and wondering
when the whole unit will just
fall on your head
and put you out of your misery

it’s either
too fast or too slow
this ugly arpeggio
and lilting and limping
into and out of chords
like a drunk with a bum leg
and it sets your teeth
to grinding
like when you have an aversion
to a certain tactile texture
except this is a sound texture
and it goes on
for measures and measures and measures
sometimes the whole song
it’s there
bubbling beneath the rest of the accompaniment
swirling and bouncing and tickling
your gut
as though it’s seeped in
through your ear canal and somehow
punched its way all the way down
and is now clawing to get out again

and you look around
with your neck stiff from
the anxiety of it
and either everybody else
has a better poker face than you
or it’s not as ugly as you think

but it is that ugly
it’s so ugly

and you have a thought
that this ugly arpeggio
is gaslighting you
somehow
you don’t know how
but you know
if any insentient thing
could make you think you were crazy
for fun and/or profit
it would be an arpeggio

Regular Poem: Polish

29 Apr

I had one of those
rock tumbler
polisher operations
when I was a kid–

you put some sand or whatever
in it and turn it on
and many hours or days go by
or however long
and then the
rocks are shiny.

I think
I used it
once
and was dissatisfied
with the paltry luster
achieved
and it’s probably long dead
in one garage or another.

But
I was thinking about it today
and wishing
for some apparatus
that would do the same
to poetry–

throw a poem
in an electric-powered shaker
to round off the rough edges
to make the individual words
gleam and sparkle
break off the ragged surface similes
sand down the craggy metaphors
crush it all together
crash it all together
rub off the exterior
to see the colors and patterns beneath
and at the end it’s all
glossy
not dull and boring and better left in the driveway.

But then
I was thinking
about how the rock tumbler operation
I had as a kid
didn’t do me right–
the rocks I took out of it
were still pretty much
just rocks
not gemstones
all of a sudden–
a problem of expectations
confusion about required actions.

So it necessarily follows
that a similar machine
but for poems
might leave me
wanting
might leave the poem
even lamer
than before.

I’d leave them in the driveway
but I’ve unfortunately
always had an affinity
for useless trinkets.

Regular Poem: Full Disclosure

28 Apr

Full disclosure:
I did not like you
when we first met.

Funny,
And here I was thinking
you were getting kind of fat.

Oh hey,
I know we barely know each other, but
I’ve been having dreams about you.

To be honest,
I’d rather you not ask personal questions
if you’re going to be a dweeb about it.

Girl,
sass me one more time
and we’ll see who cries first.

Yes well,
I’m actually more impressed
that you even know what cut time is.

Full disclosure:
I did not
say any of those terrible things
this week,
but I thought
every single one.

Full disclosure:
I thought
many more
terrible things
than that,
and many of them
were blue as the June sky,
angry and mean
contemptible wicked
hurtful spiraling persistent.

But I knew then and there
they were terrible
and tried
to shut them down,
sometimes succeeded,

and tomorrow’s Friday,
and I can be
the sunshine I ought to be
and maybe even fool myself
for another day.

Regular Poem: The Breakfast Nook

27 Apr

They took out the breakfast nook
years ago

and in those moments I remember it
those moments not unlike
coming home and as I’m unlocking the door
feeling a shudder in my soul
that I need to check
the answering machine
I don’t have
or that ghost of duty
that pricks me on a Sunday night
that I need to put the trash by the curb
but my trash day
hasn’t been Monday in 15 years

in those moments
I remember it
I remember
I don’t remember much about it

just flashes of images
of people sitting at it
drinking coffee
doing paperwork
reading glasses and trinkets
cluttering the whole corner

and I just want it
so badly
in those moments
when I remember it

a place
in the kitchen
to eat alone
and pay bills
and throw my mail
keep my laptop there
and fresh flowers
a perfect thing
for a spinster in a granny house.

They took out the breakfast nook
and I don’t remember why.
Sometimes I fantasize
I’ll find it
when I finally clean out the garage
and reinstall it
reinstate it.

How long would that take me
though?
How long
until it gives up
and rots beneath a shop vac and some old pool implements?
(They took out the pool
years ago
too
but pools are so expensive
so much maintenance
an understandable streamlining of assets
but a breakfast nook
just sits there
and serves you silently serenely.)

How long before
it’s just parts
instead of the breakfast nook
it used to be
(if it still exists
in the first place)?

How long before a queen
forced from her throne
living anonymously in the French countryside
starts making crepes
and forgets
how to respond when someone calls her
your majesty?

I should forget I ever saw its face.

They took out the breakfast nook.

Where?
What breakfast nook?

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