Tag Archives: Napowrimo 2016

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
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
and was dissatisfied
with the paltry luster
and it’s probably long dead
in one garage or another.

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
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
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.

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.

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
How long
until it gives up
and rots beneath a shop vac and some old pool implements?
(They took out the pool
years ago
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.

What breakfast nook?

Regular Poem: Tornado Season

26 Apr

I don’t think
I’d replace all four
bathing suits

just bare bones at first
focus on the essentials

a couple weeks worth of panties
and some cute luggage
to carry them in
live in a motel for a while

like some noir protagonist
on the lam
buy a cheap jalopy
that runs on sawdust and willpower
spending my days
calling the insurance company
on a rotary phone
sitting in the dark
ambling through wet shadowed alleys
in a damp second-hand trench coat
with a throaty narration playing somewhere
running into other displaced people
and nodding grimly
getting into fights in bars

that is
if my house
didn’t land on a witch.

Regular Poem: Dream Car

25 Apr

A girl I knew
a long time ago
at least once
her dream car was
a Honda Accord.

She had reasons
and she talked
with her hands
with such passion.

I was a child then
and she was an older child
a teen maybe,
and now as an adult

I hope she has that Accord.
I bet
she does.

I didn’t appreciate it
I didn’t understand
that she meant goal
rather than fantasy
when she said

and that’s such
an admirable attainable
position to take

though rather boring
in a conversation including
monster trucks and limousines
and Corvettes,

but even amidst
the din of adolescent voices
raising up praises
to vehicles real and imagined
each more grand than the last

only the Accord remains
in my memory
and the fervor with which
she extolled and explained.
She took a hard stance
based on evidence and experience–
concrete details instead of
hope and wonder
and whatever was shiniest and most expensive
and seen on tv by
young stupid eyes.

She didn’t sell me on it,
and I’d probably still like
the monster truck
that was almost certainly my contribution,
but the memory
bobs to the surface
and I always smile

about that
practical girl
and envy her
just a little.

Regular Poem: The Clothes May or May Not Make the Person (II)

24 Apr

I’ve always been
this way.

It seems to become
more intricate
as I age–
as I gain
more insight into
and other
equally bizarre

I had a hat
I always wore when I played Clue.
It was my detective hat–
some tweed fedora affair,
and never worn
at any other time,
thrown on
as an 11th-hour accessory
when the occasion arose–
kept in a specific and secure
But now

I cull pieces
and rearrange
push together and pull apart
for every attitude
is a good word
and so is
fits better:
It’s assembled
or disassembled
from parts
meaningless on their own
ambiguous in the laundry
taking on
new connotations
new shades
old connotations
old shades
different connations
different shades


The same
is suddenly

the attitude
outfitted costumed
in a different

that ensemble
merges those
disparate pieces

a solution–
the solute
the individual article,
the solvent
the character
(or proto-character
for it is unformed
until each molecule
rests squarely on
the one beneath it).

Or perhaps
the solution
is more mathematical
than chemical
and solves for x
and the x is
how to walk
how to talk
what to do
where to go
how to

I try
not to forget
what manner of woman
I am
and could be
should be
have been
am being.

Clothes never forget–
they may obscure
they may suggest
they may thread ideas
they may weave accounts
they may and
they may not
and they sometimes
what I tell them.

Regular Poem: There’s Plenty

23 Apr

there’s plenty
to be said about
a full moon

but a waxing gibbous
has its charms

a yearning
an expectation

and a waning gibbous
that hint
of loss and regret

and even a new moon
is sexy
with enough fog
on those nights
you can see an outline
a shadow of a shadow
a silhouette
of the moon dressing
behind her chinese curtain

and in a few days
there’ll be enough of a crescent
to call it a first quarter
and the name sounds too much like football
just like gibbous sounds too much like a monkey
the moon phases
ought to be called
by gemstones
or greek gods
or old movie stars
or even mathematical theories
sexy and mysterious
and flowing off the tongue
like an ancient language
mystical and gutteral and silky
a velvet evening
in soft rays and whispers and muted trumpet
or the sensual scratch
on the low strings of a violin
that never see much action
except in saint-saens concertos
and reverberate in your gut
and make your hair stand up
in excitement and longing
for something you wouldn’t even want to name
as the longing
is a restless desire
and exciting because it is unnamed and unknown

a full moon
is only
for a few minutes
after all

and it dances from waxing to waning
in a day or so
pulls veil after veil
aligns fan after fan
always hiding and revealing
a burlesque
a tease

even when it’s full
one hundred percent illumination
there’s always the side you can’t see
will never see
that’s her real ace

there’s plenty
to be said about the dark side
of the moon

but all of it
is supposition
rumor hearsay gossip myth
romantic notions
and grand tales
metaphor and magic
a few people
have been there
but none of them were me
i wouldn’t want to go
i prefer the intrigue
i refuse to even do the
tennis ball and lamp experiment
for fear of losing mystique
and wonder
don’t you just love wonder
a good mystery
is only as good as the investigation

there’s plenty
to be said about the moon
and there’s plenty
not to be said

Regular Poem: Games For One

22 Apr

It’s a game
with no winner
just a game
playing to play
itself out–
that last screen
on computer solitaire
where you win
and the cards
they’ll fly from
their neat digital stacks
as long as you’ll let them
until you click new game
and start again.
No one remembers
a specific game
of computer solitaire–
it’s all
just black and red and numb
no home runs
no shooting the moon
no 11th-hour three pointers
no reusing the same ridiculous drawing for several rounds in Pictionary.

It’s a prank
the brain plays
on itself
like tp-ing
your own yard

to have a dream
that haunts
that melds elements
in such a bizarre way
as to
linger and color
your entire day–
a tattoo
you didn’t conciously choose.

Regular Poem: How to Be Interesting for Fun and Profit

21 Apr

Like I get it.
I do.

I don’t


just imagine

storing up
just a barrage of
modes of being,
facts, statistics,
quotations, jokes, poems–
in this vague chasm of
nebulous hope
that one thing
will hit a target
any target
just shoot anything
until you hit

That’s too much work
too much ammunition
especially in this economy.

It’s probably
more complicated
more of an equation
analyzing and reanalyzing
reprocessing each piece of information
and testing it against
every sociological data point
and firing firing firing
reloading each round
and firing each round
from a different pistol.

That’s too much work
too many firearms to maintain
especially in this economy.

One can hold
so many different thoughts
at once
contrasting beliefs
disparate theories
compartments for each vice and virtue.

Like I get it.
I do.

But I also don’t.

There’s just no
way to be all things to all people
especially if you can’t be
a couple specific things
to yourself.

Book 'Em, Jan O

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