Contact the Author: rdlbarton@netscape.net

Contact The Author: rdlbarton@netscape.net

Ron. Lavalette's work has appeared in these fine publications:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

All Things Considered

The Liberal Media Made Me Do It!
(Print Anthology April 2014)

Three soon-to-be grads from Harvard
or Sarah Lawrence opine on the morning
news how their Senior classes seem
simultaneously base and baseless
in light of their last three years abroad,
considering how, after all, once you’ve seen
morning in Jalalabad, everything golden
in the heart of the desert, everything wan
and wavering in the high desert heat,
everything else pales by comparison.
Or so they say, three young women
taking their last few classes, studying
The Modern Islamic Middle East, The History
Of Moorish Art, The Economics and Politics
Of Oil Producing Emirates As Reported In
The Western Press, Such As It Is.
One of them has perfect parents in
Prague, will go to live with them as soon as
the mortarboard is tossed in the air;
one of them is hoping for a career in
diplomacy, if she survives a military stint
and a battle for the civil servant’s desk.
The third is planning a family
just outside The Beltway, her most
immediate goal a gallery, small showings
on alternate Tuesdays, her house
only a mile or two away, jogging
distance, close enough to push a stroller
or walk a border collie, far enough away
to kid herself she’s got a life that matters.




 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Death Is Like The Floor

Right Hand Pointing (Online) March 2014


Death is like the floor
in a hotel’s tiled men’s room:
the one-by-one inch squares
that no one ever notices,
the hard repeated pattern
that no one ever notices
until a tile is missing
and it’s you.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Well

red wolf journal (online) February 2014

All the water we needed was
well below the glacial till.
Twelve gallons a minute, four
hundred feet down. Charlie
and his boys had to keep
changing the bit, making sure
the mud went down smooth, the
flush and cuttings came up
like they should.
                                Three
blistering days went by
before they hit anything
vaguely resembling bedrock;
three days of a grumbling crew,
the chaser truck shuttling
back and forth for pipe,
for Cokes and smokes and
general store hoagies, hotter
than sweltering hell and only
the middle of May.
                                Tonight,
two Mays later, I’m out on
the deck, an icy gin and tonic
reminds me it’s almost summer
again, Venus smiles down, farmboys
off in the distance, probably
drunk, have themselves a little
impromptu fireworks display,
either because they just got back
from Toronto, or because they’re
too whopping drunk to know it’s
not quite the Fourth.
                                Either way,
I’m waiting for you here
beside the well tonight, enjoying
the show from a distance; happy
as man lately lost in the desert
come in at last for something cool
to drink.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cold Snap

Front Porch Review (Online) January 2014
--Originally appeared in Feb 2006 at Crescent Moon Journal

Outside for obligatory photographs:
ubiquitous head-shot, profile,
three-quarter profile, bust.
I stand between the battered, rusty
plow, lost in a stand of spruce,
and the house’s winter windows,
nearly buried by blizzard. I squint
and I will be squinting forever
standing, frozen by the shutters.

When I see myself, inside, later,
at first only pixels, then paper thin,
I am several hundred pounds of meat
none of it lean, leaning on a cane,
a lame spectacle trapped by
reflex and bifocality, with snow
at the temple of my thinning hair.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

How To Know For Sure

egg (online) December 2013

3:47 AM
and still you can’t
without her there, sleeping,
sleep.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Company For Dinner

Bohemia (Online / Print) October 2013

Who could resist those gumdrop
eaves, those icing gutters, pink
wafer shutters and doors, shrubs
of spun sugar, those licorice windows
and that delicate black cracker chimney?
Who indeed. No one. Everyone
who stopped, even if only to visit,
however briefly, wished they could
call it home, wanted to possess
such a finely sprinkled chocolate lawn.
But sooner or later, sweetness fades:
inside, there’s only a blazing stove,
a blazing iron oven and a wicked and
starving witch, wishing she wasn’t
so always alone, wasn’t always so lost
in the deep and darkening woods,
far from her cat and her coven,
trying in vain to fill her emptiness
with a couple of wayward children
fattening in cages in the corner.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thought For The Day

The Comstock Review (Print) October 2013

Although he did not have the time
to write it down or tell his friends
his thought for the day was this:
Nothing is ever where you expect
to find it.

                 He had this thought
as he balanced on the bed’s edge,
his feet sweeping circles in the dark
in search of his grey sweats, when
the massive clot dislodged, ran
its short course to the ventricle
and suddenly the room at 4AM
was bathed in beautiful light.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Song Of The Crystal

Northern Cardinal Review (Online) September 2013

Safe the harbor here
        where hardwoods creak
             in wind
               bend
        along the water’s edge
to kiss and mix
        their shadows;
to measure air
and mark the water’s reach.


Safe the haven here
        where streamlets, muttering,
           murmur secret histories
           of millrace, of millpond,
and of slightly shifted stone.


Safe safe safe
        where water falls:
        below the cliffstone
beneath a tree, beside a brook.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hemlock, Sandalwood, Sage

Northern Cardinal Review (Online) Sept 2013

Today it’s hemlock smoke, or
cedar and, under thin clouds
and the huge blue, I’m on a
hillside, high, dreaming about
what summer used to be like,
how all the beautiful women
walked up and down the beach,
their brown eyes no darker
than their deep tans, the sun
not much brighter than their
smiles.
               And I remember that
once I could smell sandalwood
—or maybe it was sage—burning
in the distance on an autumn
afternoon; could hear the chant
of soft wind through sycamore,
the burble of a mid-day brook,
and I realize
                        I’ve been here
before, been here in all seasons:
when the sun baked the drying
grass; when the snow drifted
into the hollows between the
hills; when the first leaves
greened, or the last of them,
reddened, sailed earthward
on autumn-scented air.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Watch And Wait

Untitled, with Passengers (Online) September 2013
**Audio Link On Page**
 
A homesick Canadian, northbound,
approaching eighty-five or ninety
blasted past me in a thick fog
up on The Heights, swerved
across the breakdown lane, sailed
the ditch and collided with granite;
everything within seconds was aflame.
Nothing could be done. I could only
watch.
Even the ambulance, useless,
red strobes flashing near midnight,
arriving before the useless state police,
long before the merciful fire truck
lumbered up, could do exactly
nothing.
Almost a week went by.
I told and retold the story; told and
almost wept with each telling, each
detail etched clear as an August sky
lit by flame and stars: the streak of
tail lights diminishing, death in the air,
waiting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Got Yer "Grumpy" Right Here, Pal

Anthologized in Ekphrastia Gone Wild from Ain't Got No Press, (Aug. 2013)
(Originally published in And/Or (Inaugural Issue, November 2010)

I guess you’d be pretty grumpy, too
if you shared a crackerbox cottage
with six other chirpy little bastards,
up every day at the crack of dawn
with a merry Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho on their
lips, off to work after nothing but 
a meager bowl of gruel, carrying
pickaxes and a box of dynamite,
leaving behind such a rare beauty,
a fair-skinned brown-eyed princess 
to sweep up after them, make up
their beds, wash out their nasty
sheets, no one keeping her company
but a bunch of dopey bluebirds.
What a waste. 
                         And speaking of 
dopey, let me just say a few words
about a couple of the schmucks
I work with:
                       I busted a thumb
about a month ago and found out
Doc’s not much of a real doc; and 
I don’t know what it is that keeps
that nitwit Sleepy nodding all day
or Happy so friggin happy, but
sooner or later there’s bound to be
a cave-in and, frankly, I’ll be glad
for the time off.
                         Maybe then I’d 
get to hang around the house, 
see if the princess comes across 
with a little TLC. Now, that might 
improve my attitude some, eh? 

Go away now, you’re buggin me.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Persistence Of Vision

The Rapid Eye  (Online/Defunct) (Aug 2013)

She opens the fish,
finds her daughter's fingers inside;
every fish the same explosion.

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wordland (2 pieces)

Issue 3  (Online)  Apr 2013

Escapee

Gimme that she said, reaching for
her daughter’s wrist; the goddamn thing
cost seven bucks.Let me just…
But it was too late. The string had slipped
and the little girl was already afloat,
helium and Mylar in a perfectly clear April.


While You're Away, A Meteor Shower

Twice yesterday and overnight last night,
snow squalls and wind.This morning
the lawn was white.Hell of an April.
All day today, though, I imagined you
wherever you are (somewhere beside
water, I think you said) staring up at
the same clearing sky, the same blue as
the cold, distant ocean that called you
away.
          Tonight it’s clear: I’m alone and
the sky’s a dark crystal. Only a few stars
mar the dim silence; I’m standing here
staring up at the Lyrids (fine silver rain
of sparkle and flash from somewhere
halfway across the universe) thinking
only of you.
                   It’s already almost midnight
and the moon won’t show for at least
an hour, no sun rises until you return.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Farsi Love Song

litbomb (Online) April 2013

After a while, even though they’re singing in Arabic or Farsi, he swears he can tell what they’re singing about; swears this song’s about what it’s like when their lips meet in the dark, how it feels watching him walk out the door, off to join the army, not knowing how he’ll get by without her.

He’s had this same experience before, watching an Italian couple arguing in Italian in an Italian subway station: she was telling him he’s a dog—has always been a dog—and she knows there’s going to be some slut at the end of the line, waiting to meet him and let him take her home to her chintzy and flowered walk-up, let him kiss her on the balcony under the April drizzle, then take him inside, let him prove just how much of a dog he truly is.

All of this he understood clearly without a single word of English. Translation, he thought, was unnecessary, superfluous.

Now he sits and listens to the Farsi love song, laments the pace that others set for themselves, a pace that keeeps them from hearing the heartbreak, feeling the loss, sharing the shattered moment we all have to live through, sooner or later, in any language.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Firetower

Northern Cardinal Review (Online) April 2013

Everything under the sun
is lag-bolt and pressure-treated lumber;
everything else is outside, beyond far.
It does not reach.
Here, only the movement of grasses.
Here trees, breathing, rustle and whisper
openly secret secrets
only to nuthatch and thrush.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Not Quite Mud-Luscious Yet

Every Day Poets (Online) April 2013

This latest snow, I hope, will also be
the last.
             I wait for white to fade,
for drifts to drift away, for warmer
nights and longer days.
                                  I pray
for crocuses to come and go,
or an April shower of tulip blooms
and lollipop roses; for anything
that shows us that the sun is less
removed, is less remote.
                                     I hope
these bloomless snowy days are past,
this latest snow will also be —at last—
the last.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Late Snow, By The Numbers

The Orange Room Review (Online) April 2013

I spent the night, head filled with numbers and
dreams of numbers, and in the frozen morning
 --new snow on all the branches--I'm filled with
numbers still: readout on the oil tank, wattage
of the feeble lightbulb, what part of the pound
of coffee remains until I'm drowning in a sea of
numbers too great to reckon.
                                           Five new inches
of snow at the end of April, the month pretending
to be March, going out like a lion on all fours,
temps in the lower double digits. Five new inches
of snow, even though the moon has orbited the
frogpond almost half a dozen times already
since the new year's turn. Five new inches of
snow on the three or four places we'd reserved
for delphinium and columbine, for roses, lilies,
and various summer whatnot.
                                           All the world's awash
in white. April's almost over; I'm counting on May.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two Small Threes By Five

(Haibun)
World Haiku Review (Online) March 2013

Irresistible— 
harvest moon after midnight
a haiku mandate

This is how it is for him. It’s pathetic, and even he knows it’s pathetic. He wakes up hours before daylight, fully awake with his self-imposed deadline ringing in his head: two small poems, three lines each, finished before breakfast; he just keeps thinking Two Small Threes By Five, over and over again until finally he gets himself out of bed to write them.
 
He thinks about where to start, takes the time to look up the phrase harvest moon—an antique phrase he’s vowed never to use in his writing—but the moonlight’s just so very present, flooding the window, shining on his desktop, and illuminating his keyboard that he feels the need to check it out and be certain. Sure enough:  a harvest moon, shining on.
 
After the first three hard-won lines, he hits the pre-set audio and the Sandhya Raga floods the room. He’s out of incense. He’s afraid he’s out of ideas. He walks to the kitchen, makes the coffee by moonlight, steel strings still ringing in the darkness:Raga Of The Harvest Moon. He looks out the window.
 
absolute perfect moon
coffee moon keyboard moon raga moon moon
haiku moon, release me

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Charlie

*82 Review (Online) March 2013

Charlie visits the Precious Savior
Bookstore, stocks up on all the latest
offerings: Ticket To Heaven postcards,
sticks of incense, The Greatest Hits
Of The Grateful Faithful, featuring
the Certain Resurrection Choir.
He goes for a walk on Water Street,
his head and headphones buzzing.     

Charlie folds himself into a corner,
contemplates nations murdering
nations. He no longer aims or claims
to be a general; thinks instead about
suicide, rain, and the sidewalks, running.
Smoke rises near the airport, insubstantial,
like a ghost rises from a cooling corpse.
Charlie, airborne, cools his heels, thinks about
jets and vapor trails.   

Back home, he’s got a fan
and a paint-by-number Jesus.
At night they find a little harmony:
the fan spins around and
the room spins around and Jesus,
pleased, lets Charlie go to sleep.    

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tutor

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (Online) October 2012
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (Print) March 2013
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (Audio) May 2013

The trick, he said, is to sit
by the lake, write about water
and sky without using words
like expanse or dome; without
comparing one to the other;
without mentioning robin’s eggs
or azure; without resorting to
a recollection of other summers
spent by some other expanse
of azure, under some other
dome of robin’s egg blue.
The trick, he said, is to see
across the lake to the other
shore; to make the other shore
anything at all but distant; keep
the clouds from becoming cotton.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fly Away Home

Poetry Breakfast (Online) October 2012

While you’re away this time,
and because I can never sleep
when you’re gone, I’ve had to buy
a big old sack of potatoes
to balance out the bed.
It’s not the same thing, really
but I have to admit: it’s not too bad.
Sorry about the sheets.

That meatloaf you made
before you left for the airport
lasted almost half a week,
then I just started ordering
pizza and Chinese take-out.
While I waited for your return
I carved a pumpkin. I tried
to make it happy, but it just
wouldn’t smile. Nobody came.

This morning it’s just me,
up early as usual, with
Jack Nicholson, Five Easy Pieces,
and the lovely Susan Anspach.
She, too, has beautiful hair.
I miss you terribly. Please try
to make it home for Christmas.

Bring me someone’s autograph.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Whither Thou Goest

Poetry Super Highway (Online) April 2012
(14th Annual Yom HaShoah--Holocaust Remembrance--Anthology)

Again the dream: the boxcar and the
long march. The camp. Last night, again,
selection and weeping. Ash in the air.

Don’t ask me why. Don’t ask me if
I miss someone I’ve never met, I
don’t. Except in dream, I was not

there to bear witness; was not there
at all. I don’t believe I’ve ever met
anyone who had to let their lover go

or let their father or their mother go
—I must have; must have met them,
but I can’t recall.

...........................This morning, though,
it seems I know them all. It seems I
stand beside them, waiting in long lines,

waiting in the cold on hard red ground,
surrounded by even harder faces, late
winter snow and traces of ash in the air.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Catching The Dalmatian

egg poetry (Online) April 2012

Just before he wakes up he reaches
for another jumbo shrimp. The cooler,
nearly depleted, is a mix of slushy bait
and warming beer. He snags one or
the other –he’s not sure which—
and wishes the odd lights at the bottom
of the dark pool weren’t so…what?
Hypnotic? Inviting? He sips his beer,
stabs another jumbo on the barbed
hook, flicks his ash and, with a flick
of wrist, casts the weighted bait.
A plop and a wait.
                            Half in the bag,
it’s hard to tell how long it takes
to finally sink to the bottom.
He’s had better days, he thinks;
he’d like to think that better days
are still ahead, but the bottom
of the pool beckons.
                               A sudden tug.
He jerks the rod to set the hook.
His head reels; “Dogfish,” he thinks,
Or something worse,” and cuts it
loose. He lights another smoke,
reaches for another beer, watches
the neighbor’s spotted dog
squatting on his August lawn.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Heart

right hand pointing (Online) March 2012

It's not convenient now, is it,
having one that breaks, daily;
having one that fails.
When I heard you on the phone
I almost escaped knowing your voice.
Here, the leaves are changing;
out on your flats there is fog
and little or nothing to do,
nothing to be done.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Curio Poetry (3 Pieces)

Curio Poetry (Inaugural Issue, Online) Dec 2011

By The Dozens

He kills as many as he finds, throws them
into the wheelbarrow. Their bloody eyes
stare up at him in astonished adoration,
freed at last from the earthly burn of air,
dust in the lungs, not enough to eat ever,
always running away from everything,
terrified. They seemed to anticipate
the fall of the ax, the swing of the hoe
or the heel of the boot to come down
on their fragile skulls and the sudden
long silence that followed; seemed almost
to look up, welcoming, as the end,
once it was inevitable, approached.


Sunset Over Oakwood Park

All day long, in the sunlight: the park.
The shadows shifted, lengthened,
made green greener where I rested
in the shade, cooled, lulled, heavy-lidded,
longing to lie on the grass an hour longer
under the influence of birdsong
on the best of possible April days.
At last the long shadows merged,
stretched to the farthest edges of the park,
the tops of the oaks caught a fleeting fire,
the darkness deepened, the sun
became a final sliver of gold, and was gone.


Sign-Off

I’ve had enough of that, he said,
pressing a button, ending the newscast,
putting an end, finally, to the useless
bombing of sand dunes and babies.
Then, half-reclined against the bedrail
he pressed another button, turned up
the morphine drip to maximum, closed
his eyes. I’ve had enough, he said.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ventriloquy

Every Day Poets (Online) Dec 2011

What time did you
come to bed
she asked


and when he told her
midnight she said

too late, too late,
you’re always up too late


and he could hear
in her voice

his doctor’s voice
his mother’s voice

the clarion voices
of his guardian angels


Friday, November 11, 2011

The New Echolalia

Every Day Poets (Online) November 2011

Whatever I ever say to her
she repeats back perfectly.

I think you’re beautiful, I say;
she tells me I should trim my beard.

I tell her how much I love her.
She reminds me to take my pills.

She gives me a kiss
when I bring her coffee.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On A Wire

Front Porch Review (Online) April 2011

Under their wings is white:
early in the morning, early
in autumn, birds, perched on lines
give new meaning to the words
‘the birds alight.’ Birds in search
of one last brightness, one last
dream of summer flight, gleam.
Spied from below, the underside
of wings is white, flares like the last
flash of another summer, undone
by autumn’s shortened light.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cana In Reverse

Four And Twenty (Online) March 2011

   ...and, when they said good-bye,
the salad tossed itself in disbelief,
fine wine paled watery.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Outbound

Fourteen Magazine (Print) (Great Britain) Feb 2011
Later, digitized at Poetry Magazines
--Originally Published (Online) at: Crescent Moon Journal (May 2005)--

1.

It's hard to find you
gone tonight, outbound

among the stars, and I
wingless, without a song

under a dime like moon
look up from ice.

2.

I did not dream,
last night, the loose end

would ravel. Your departure
loomed. I held my breath

while you slept, tired,
tried to imagine you

far from these sheets
of snow, under another sky.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

AND / OR (3 Pieces)

AND/OR (3 pieces; Inaugural Issue)
(pdf in November 2010; Print in December)
("Grumpy" anthologized in Ekphrastia Gone Wild from Ain't Got No Press, Aug. '13)

I Got Yer “Grumpy” Right Here, Pal

I guess you’d be pretty grumpy, too
if you shared a crackerbox cottage
with six other chirpy little bastards,
up every day at the crack of dawn
with a merry Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho on their
lips, off to work after nothing but 
a meager bowl of gruel, carrying
pickaxes and a box of dynamite,
leaving behind such a rare beauty,
a fair-skinned brown-eyed princess 
to sweep up after them, make up
their beds, wash out their nasty
sheets, no one keeping her company
but a bunch of dopey bluebirds.
What a waste. 
                         And speaking of 
dopey, let me just say a few words
about a couple of the schmucks
I work with:
                       I busted a thumb
about a month ago and found out
Doc’s not much of a real doc; and 
I don’t know what it is that keeps
that nitwit Sleepy nodding all day
or Happy so friggin happy, but
sooner or later there’s bound to be
a cave-in and, frankly, I’ll be glad
for the time off.
                         Maybe then I’d 
get to hang around the house, 
see if the princess comes across 
with a little TLC. Now, that might 
improve my attitude some, eh? 

Go away now, you’re buggin me.



When He’s Sixty-Four

He gets pulled over again, and this time
the cop is only about fifteen years old,
wants to know what’s up; tells him
there’s always been a stop sign at the 
bottom of the hill; says he must be blind
or crazy, flying through there like that;
tells him he ought to turn off the radio,
get his mind on his driving.  
                                           He tells the cop
he’s sorry; he says he was thinking about 
his old friend John who got shot in front of
his hotel, right in front of his wife and
the cop says yeah well that’s awful and all
but, still, ya gotta slow it down, Sir; gotta 
slow it down and watch the signs or 
you’re gonna end up dead yourself 
                                    —And he’s not so deaf
he can’t hear the condescending tone
in how the cop says sir; the way a bad father
speaks to a stubborn child—
                                The cop says  
I’m gonna let it slide this time, Sir,
but, still, you gotta watch the signs.
                                     Yeah,
yeah, yeah he says, I hear you. Signs. 
Huh. Imagine.


EGG TEST

This is Nish.  Point
to Nish.  Good.

This is Hondar.
Point to Hondar.  Now 
point to Nish.  Good.

This is Kiptron.  Point
to Kiptron.  Good.
Now point to Nish.
Point to Hondar. Good.

This is uh, Whatsisname.
Point to whatsisname.
Now point to Hondar.
Kiptron.  Nish.
Good.

This is a tough one. Point.
Good.  Now Hondar.
Whatsisname. Nish.
Kiptron.  Good.

Point. Point. Kiptron.
Good.  Whatsisname.
Uh, point. Now Hondar.
Nish. Good.

Good.  Good.  Point.
Good.




Monday, September 20, 2010

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo Anthology (Online) Sept 2010

Breathless

There is neither edge nor precipice;
nor slide, nor knowable fall.
There is only bottom.
Lack makes itself known
abruptly, a gasping loss.
There is only nothing, suddenly.

There is neither flight nor flying
nor slipping away into airlessness;
there is no drag or drain, no
low warning, no looming alarm.
There is only bottom and nothing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Everyday Genius (online) September 2010

Payday In Grinsville

Oh, I guess I could have done
anything. The agency lets you
try things out for up to thirty days.
I considered being “The Time Fairy”;
did broken watches for a while
and that was cool, but the nights
were pretty slow; not a lot of stops
to make, but I had to lug the things
around in a big sack. And people
expected cash for alarm clocks and
sundials and such. My back ached.

So I settled for teeth. Teeth is cool.
It’s only kids that want anything
for them, and they don’t much care
how much you leave. It’s magic,
they think, like payday in Grinsville.
Yeah, all things considered, teeth
is a pretty good gig. And I get to
keep all the teeth, which at least
I can do something with: they take
a nice coat of bright enamel paint,
and string up into nifty necklaces;
the tourists gobble them up.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

IBPC (Online) June 2010
(Third Place, May Competition. Judged by Fiona Sampson)

AFTER BALTIMORE
(for fredda)

Sometimes there was wine at night
but there was never any money.
I don’t remember much but coffee,
hash on the roof at midnight
and one time drunk on Harry’s street
dancing in the rain. We pasted up
the underground news. They paid us
with rolling papers, incense,
sacks of welfare rice.

What became of you after that,
after Janicelli’s peyote wedding
and our own sad abortive love affair,
my sudden disappearance?

You looked well some years ago
-it was February, I think-
and you still look good to me now
occasionally
though I must admit it here:
I can’t always recall your face.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Apparatus Magazine (Online) Jan 2010

False Start

Maybe this is what happens. A man starts
reading a story in the morning:
                                               a woman
leaves, leaving her laundry and saying
goodbye to the neighbors as they load up
a truck, preparing to leave the neighborhood
forever. She goes to the store and overhears
her husband’s girlfriend telling the clerk
how they’ve played her for a fool, how
his promises of fidelity are a joke,
have always been nothing but a joke.

The woman drives home and says goodbye
again to the neighbors. She leaves her
laundry hanging on the line and goes
into the house, packs a hasty bagful
of whatever’s close at hand, says a last
goodbye to the neighbors and drives away
deliberately.
                    Her car breaks down. She
pounds the wheel and waits a fuming hour
for her father to come and rescue her.
She sees the taillights backing up
to her bumper, but when she feels
the first tug of the tow chain, she has
her second thoughts.
                                The man has to
stop reading and go to work. All day long
he thinks about the woman, thinks about
the unfinished story and the neighbors,
packing up to leave. At lunch he goes out
and sits by the lake, starts writing a story
about leaving. After only a page he has to
get back to the office. His wife is away
at a conference. He wants her to come home
and read it. Maybe he never finishes the story.

Killing the Goldfinch

It did what goldfinches do. It flew
—or tried to fly, at least— tried
and failed to fly from the yellow
birch to a low and waiting branch
of aspen, a fluttering invitation,
only a launch and a few wingbeats
away. It did what a goldfinch does:
it tried to trade a green for green,
tried to leave behind one haven
for another and, along the way,
be nothing but what a goldfinch is:
brief and beautiful, a streak of
sunrise, bright. Alive. But fate
would have it otherwise; flight
does not guarantee arrival,
does not denote a destination
reached.
                A thing as clear as
glass –a windshield, say—or
some other car’s bright, shiny
chrome, going a mile a minute
unconcerned, barreling toward
its own destination, does not stop
to reflect on even one small
golden insignificance,
no matter how short its flight.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Troubadour 21 (Online) Sept. '09

The Way She Asks

I hear voices and sometimes
I tell her that I’m hearing them
and she says Nonsense, tells me
I’m singing to myself again.
She tells me that she’s never
known me otherwise,
loves me as I am, voices
no concern whatsoever.

She says I seem happy enough
most of the time, seem
sometimes ready for a jig or
sometimes, in the morning
–even before coffee—
she hears me singing out loud
out in the doughy kitchen,
hears me practicing lines, hears

me in my office clicking away
at the keyboard, singing.
Would you have it any other way
she asks. The way she asks
tells me she knows the answer.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Every Day Poets (Online) Dec. '08
--Subsequently anthologized (Print), Best Of Every Day Poets (One), Jan 2011--

Outside The Inn

There would, of course, have to be a star
—as there always is— but
only a single star, luminous
beckoning above the merest shelter.
Around the meager dwelling,
its wattle daubed with ordinary
midnight, there would of course be
shepherds, nodding, and music of
sheep bells a softly ringing lullaby.
There would have to be an angel.
The sky, a clear intoxicant, would
open and the angel would sing
and the shepherds, keeping their sheep
would have to spread the word
and be certain.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Every Day Poets Online (NOV '08)

Critic
He likes to say
he likes her like
he likes blueberries
on his cornflakes
and he’s always quick
to rave about the blueberries

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Orange Room Review Online (Oct '08)

On Tour With The Percussives

Every nook held its gong, its cowbell
tabla, tamboura, tom-tom, conga, guiro
and that was all we ever knew
except for how the landscape scrolled
past the tinted windows, lights
in little houses in tiny towns
well before dawn on the fringe
of the city, no one up but us,
not even the paperboys. We’d
hear the rev-down, feel the bus
decelerate, suffer the first tug
of gravity, re-enter atmosphere, peer
out at the still-dark garage,
the unlit pumps waiting, sway
slightly when the brakes squeaked,
unaccustomed as we were
to stationary objects. 
                                       This was
always the golden moment: stepping
off the ticking bus onto the sidewalk,
sunrise still an hour beyond horizon,
all the air in every direction pregnant,
everything only about to happen;
we’d share a quiet smoke and
listen to our heartbeats, rehearsing.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Stirring (Online) Jan '08

The Great Awakening

Oily America swims in a red sea
while we sleep. In the morning, the news
is grim; is no news, really; is only more
of what we have come to expect:
the buffed and baritone correspondent,
straight faced, numbly earnest
telling us Jim, the news death tonight death
from death this death city is
death is all around us and we fear fear
we miss our mothers and everywhere we look
is blood and destruction, Jim,
and that’s about the sum of it
from here in deathville;
back to you in the studio. Jim?

and Jim goes right on reading
the market reports and the weather
and the story about the farmer
who raised a gigantic potato
as smart as the President but
kinder and gentler; and all about
the elections and campaigns
all across America to have Jesus
back in the classroom, Christ
returned to Christmas, churches
to be the agency for insuring the poor,
and so on and so forth until, finally,
finally, finally hot young Jessica’s tits appear
at halftime, the cheerleaders take the field
and all’s right with the world again,
praise the lord.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

THE ANTHOLOGY OF NEW ENGLAND WRITERS (20th Edition) (PRINT) Nov '07
(Editor's Choice; Robt. Penn Warren Free Verse Contest)

Table For One

I never heard anyone shout so loud
so softly. Barely a tabletop away
I couldn’t hear a word she said
but I could see him sitting as she spoke,
could see his hands move from his lap
to a clasp, almost as if in prayer
before him, between them; could see
his face, and read the awful truth:
that she’d said it all before,
a million times or more, and said it now
one last time before she said goodbye.
He had nothing left to consider but
empty hands and having, finally, heard.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

EDGZ (#13) (Print) (October 07)

WHERE TO GO

It doesn’t really matter, does it,
once you’ve seen the Mall Of America
the abandoned tennis court
where Robert Frost learned to play,
no doubt enjoying the long volley
and scowling at any opponent
selfish enough to serve up an ace;
once you’ve walked down Elm Street
in someone else’s home town
and seen that Elm Street looks like
every other Elm Street, every other
elm-lined Main Street, every
tree-lined street in towns where
trees still line Main Street;
once you’ve looked into the eyes
of the diner’s late night waitress,
the eyes of the late night diners,
the eyes of the people up late at night
hungry for a stranger’s friendly look.
Everywhere you go, folks turn out
to root for the Buckeyes or the Jayhawks,
elbow their way into stadiums, turn up
along the parade route hours early, unfold
blue nylon chairs to get the best view, holding
cold beer in a blue cooler under a blue sky
or bury themselves in the beach sand and
worship the sun coming at them in waves
across the wide sky of another summer.
My friend Hatch used to say, “No matter
where you go, there you are. If you lived here
you’d be home now.” He thought he was
being funny. And he was being funny.
But it’s true. You’re home now.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Crescent Moon Journal (Online) Feb '06
(2nd place, Winter Poems Contest)

Cold Snap

Outside for obligatory photographs:
ubiquitous head-shot, profile,
three-quarter profile, bust.
I stand between the battered, rusty
plow, lost in a stand of spruce,
and the house’s winter windows,
nearly buried by blizzard. I squint
and will be squinting forever,
standing, frozen by the shutters.

When I see myself, inside, later,
at first only pixels, then paper thin,
I am several hundred pounds of meat
none of it lean, leaning on a cane,
a lame spectacle trapped by
reflex and bifocality, with snow
at the temple of my thinning hair.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Country Mouse (Online) Dec.04

Looking In

Fully banqueted,
the nicotine outcast
scavenges cigarettes poolside
while dregs of the party
sip Tanquerays with tonic
and linger over cheesecake.

Nothing is as blue as the pool.
The night, narcotic, welcoming,
lengthens; spreads itself out
behind a buttery August moon.

In the morning, huddled
over coffee, everyone is
blown dry by sunrise
and smells like almonds.




Thoreau Before Dawn

Four feels odd, I suppose,
except to those who rise at five
or, as a rule, at half-past five.

Most of us must toil and strive;
do not have the life we chose
so long ago, in which we’d doze,

in which we’d trust in God at least
to toss a piece of daily bread
our way, by which we’re barely fed.

But long and long before we’re dead,
we’ll know the nature of the beast:
we’ll trust ourselves, and starve, or feast.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

THE COMSTOCK REVIEW (Print) Sept. 04

Fallen Away

I don’t know when it happened;
I let it all fall away. I let it fall

on the long drive to work in the morning
in the sunlight, let it fall crossing

ridge after jaded ridge, fall
with the glimpse of an unlikely hawk

or a capture of crows, or the stacking
of cordwood, the season’s final frost,

fog on the hillside, or the flutter
of a yellow kite in a midsummer wind.

Like the stones of the dead, untended
in the long grass in the middle of June,

in the middle of nowhere I let it fall,
left it all behind and disappeared,

slipped into seamless dreams, drifted
through blue nights and black mornings.

I watched the water boil for coffee,
sat by the river and watched the water

run away toward heaven, heard angels
whisper in the leaves, left the secret

undiscovered, saw the uncertain moon
swim, reflected in dark, starlit pools.

Gone, now, the last of all the wasted words;
the effort, senseless, of upward struggle.

Monday, August 09, 2004

MiPO Online Aug. '04

Beanman’s Paranoia

Hungry as a jungle cat and
loopy as a Chianti loon
the beanman and the wishy lady
come walking.
The beanman's convinced
the librarian's out to get him
but the wishy lady says no
it's just the moooooon
making tiiiiiides inside his head.

All the same, though,
in the back of her mind
the wishy lady knows it’s true:
you can never trust the librarian.



Reading The Entrails

Bernie had a hole in his belly
as big as your head
for a minute
and Carole Anne
had the sweetest lips
the longest legs
and the driest thirst
for Cuervo
as she slipped
into darkness
like Bernie
forever
but slower

I'm gonna be
lonely as hell
today
horny as hell tonight



Friday, July 30, 2004

JOURNAL OF NEW ENGLAND WRITERS (PRINT) Nov 03
(Honorable Mention; Robt. Penn Warren Free Verse Competition)

Samsara

Almost 20years later, I find the Buddha.
I know him instantly. Each of us has aged,
lugging around our bellies, and I, too, am bald.

I see him through the window. Even at night,
six horizons from home, even through a sheet
of glass in sheets of rain, I know him instantly.

I know how the Buddha was broken. I go in
and tell the man how the Buddha was fired
from the dense, black clay of the Barton River,

his cracked glaze an accident of temperature.
I tell the man the Buddha’s mostly clay and glue;
tell him that the Buddha, shattered, has fallen

time and again for the same reasons; fallen,
time and again a foolish, foolish Buddha.



THE WRITER'S HOOD (online) Aug '03:

I've Married The Fly

I should have been home
alone in the kitchen
heating and eating a burger
checking the blue flame
under the cast iron pan.
I should have been
watching the cheese melt
watching the marbled fat,
browned, sizzled into grease,
run down the side of the patty
like a lava flow off Mauna Loa,
infernal, inexorable, out
toward a flat black beach,
broiled from above and below.

I should have been thinking of you
but instead I've married the fly.


IDEA MUSEUM (online) June ’03:

Disappearance

While you are away, I go out
into the sunless morning.
The door that closes behind me
closes forever. The house is an echo
and the vacant windows reflect
the flat grey-brown mulch in your gardens.
I have nowhere to go
but I get into the car and drive.

All the signs are stopsigns
People in the village stop, stare
as I pass, seeing only half of me.



Cow Myth Exposed

Even when the second city had its fire,
clearly, they experienced it first-hand.
The library was the first go. A homeless man,
smoking in the stacks, his clothes already smoky,
fell asleep amid the news of Euclid, the history
of shape, and dreamed of conflagrations, of ash
rising on waves of superheated air, then became it.
It was hard to tell the place from Alexandria.



MOONDANCE (online) Jan 03:

Janey At Five Below

Janey leaves alone
what she’s left behind. A door,
closed, remains closed.
Dark remains dark
and Janey does not linger
long enough to fix the blame.

Janey breathes
a slashing, glassy air. She
stands, transfixed, wreathed;
her own breath her only halo.



ANTHOLOGY OF NEW ENGLAND WRITERS (print) Nov 02:

Plains Bless The Newcomer

The fortune of finding a keyring
after having been given the keys:
shining ring on the sunny sidewalk
at the bus stop; and the driver, friendly;
these, and other blessings beside—
a yellow note, taped to my door near midnight,
Sandra, safe and away in The Windy City,
a fridge with a freezer that works---
these are the blessings of the plains,
and I am come to claim them all:
the countless thickets where the gray birds sing
the thunder, rolling through rolling hills,
the small, still lake where the water
holds the clouded sky upside-down, an
instant balanced on the promise of rain.




RAINTOWN REVIEW (print) Jun 02:

Invitation: The Shepherd To Join The Meager Flock

Climb on down, do.
We do not believe in gated air
nor find ourselves, chosen, unfolding
into welcomed and forgiving arms,
chastened and repentant. No. We are
too bold, always, and blind. Climb on down
to be among those who, nattering,
notice only the banquet’s crumbs; who
weave the lost threads of the Great Tapestry
into humble and ignorant cloth.




CONSPIRE (online) Aug 01:

Later She Said

Later she said
when you see her see if
she’s got those names right
see if she’s got that list
or the numbers reversed or
what was his name on the paper there
The doctor ought to know

See if she thinks
we should save it
if it’s red again or
check the list and see if
you can find out if she’s
waiting for the doctor
or she knows if I’m
having any pain or not

Tell her it’s red again
Tell her to tell the doctor it’s red




Betrayal

Othello is a small gray box beside the bed.
Two plastic tubes move air
from one place in the room
to another, but fail to inflate
useless, hungry lungs.
Late at night they lapse
and I am helpless,
lying in the dark,
listening
to mechanized promises
and the hiss of whispered lies.
I get up; move around the room
looking in the corners for morsels of sleep.
When I can breathe
I walk out to the desk
jot a few lines
about the death of Desdemona.




THE HIGGINSVILLE READER (print) May 01:

So Much Depends Upon A Red Wig

Ronald hasn’t shown
for several years now
since he came to cut the ribbon
and open the public doors;
has only sent an emissary
once or twice a month:
eighteen wheels and a logo
bearing frozen potatoes
and placemats or paper bags.

Manager Mike pines,
longs for a simple glimpse
of pancake, rubber nose,
or a pair of two-foot long
red plastic shoes.
He watches
his all-expenses-paid
managers’ incentive
Holiday in Cozumel
go south along Main,
turn left into Peking Gardens
while down the block, smirking,
his arch-enemy Wendy
serves Mike’s former regulars
with a vacant and Frosty smile.



POEMS NIEDERNGASSE (online) Feb 01:

Janey Misses Mister Right

Janey thinks back on aches
she remembers as
blades between shoulder blades,
sudden and sharp, electrified
tingle and shudder of
nerve impulses running
the length of her left side,
and the long flame of tendons
torn without warning.
Janey has that history.

She lets it wash over her
in the shower, lets it flood
her temples, invites it in
and feels the rush
of red again, lingering
like her last lover’s final touch.




MAELSTROM (print) Nov 00:

8/1

Tues. nite / Wed. am:
The prospect tonight of daylight tomorrow, the noises
on the second floor, the repetitive tiled hallways --
...it hurts, hurts.
Even deep Mingus on well-traveled tapes,
even Nocturnes no use, no use.
Bloody camel stubs in ashtray
1329 boulevard
can’t forget
bone pulled from bone, ancient practice, barbarism...

Another sun unwinds behind another smothered sky;
August opens slowly:
an ache of air impossible to breathe.

Ten before twelve. One into two goes soon,
Quick as a click.



PINE ISLAND JOURNAL (print) Oct 00:

Dream Farm

I want to have a farm he said
I want to make things grow
sun wind soil seed
the soft brown earth
the laugh-blue sky ---

Backache was all I could answer,
Downpour.
Wheels against the barn
rimmed with rust
the fallen gutterspouts
and all the grey and ancient boards
made echoes of agreement in the air.



ABLE MUSE (online) May 00:

The Most I Could Do

I watched: her breasts grow large
Her nipples swell her belly
Barge-like ferocious with child
Comes knocking
Like the moon at a midnight door
While angry he at home puked
and swore

Grudgingly she grew. He
Distracted, drunken, sunk
Beyond his own oblivion,
Telephones:
I don’t remember what / if he said:
The phone or he was nearly dead
or dead

And what could be said, then?
What could one say? The day is
Ended? The night is coming on?
What to do?
I offered her a cup of tea;
The most I could do: far more
than he.



LYNX EYE (print) May 00:
(Featured Artist: Three ‘Janey’ poems):

Janey

Janey’s boyfriend steers his goatee
and Metallica T-shirt down Main,

wishing he had leathers and a Harley.
From two to four, the empty ovens
bake only air, and Janey has to breathe.
Her mother’s echo recommends otherwise:
a simple change of shift, perhaps. Janey
simply shifts from foot to foot,
does not note the smallest change
from one sad jukebox world to the next.

Janey counts the empty booths again,
gathers herself near the window
considers the bars.



Janey Takes A Break**

Janey finds herself
in the furthest corner
of the darkest room:
everything there is cool.
She dreams of seamless days
and dreamless nights; she
trips in the hallway
under unlit lights and
sings to the tune
of untolled golden bells.

Janey gets lost in the attic
but she won’t come down:
everything there is, is cool.

**Subsequently published at Wicked Alice

Janey Waits At The Airport

Janey sits and listens
to arguments in Arabic
about the quality of water
on West Bank kibbutzim—
she takes no sides; finds
the contenders pointless,
the point of contention dry.

Janey reads other people’s poetry,
discovers dances beyond dizzy.
She borrows occasional phrases,
minces words and, sifting,
shifts an emphasis, deletes
a wasted measure, turns
the tune and, lifted, sings.


RED RIVER REVIEW (online) May 00:

Ms. Doe


She was old, so they beat her severely.
She was old: they kidnapped her,
drove her away stuffed in the back
of her own stolen car. She was old.
When she regained consciousness
they stabbed her repeatedly
with her own stolen steak knife
and dumped her on the roadside;
drove away, dreaming they were druglords.

She was old, so the wounds to her throat
and the wounds to her chest, and the wounds
to her face, and the wounds to her arms
will take ages and ages to heal;
and the scars that they left on her body
and the scars that they left on her mind
will last and last and last and last.


NEW WORKS REVIEW (online) Apr 00:

Crossing

 
The river sings of its rocks, mirrors
emerald and jade where summer
shadows attempt to outrun
sundown. I intrude, I presume,

I stand near the middle. The second cut
of hay is on the banks, neatly ordered
in rows this time of year, golden,
measuring the march-step toward August.

I think about changes: the movement
of sand through narrow places, how
a ripple diminishes downstream,
how a sound sounds when it stops.




Landscape

Wheeled glossy-wing’d and black
Corvus Cornix, Corvus Corax
to Home in golden Tamarack
this cold day in space & sad
when the sun goes down these hills

Merge here wood & water
inland, hillbound streams
dreaming driftwood beaches
along the forested seaboard;
Merge green & grey the conifer
and elm stands, gazing, down
where fine white waterlace
fans flat rockface & falls

Melancholy in this mist land
The Raven and The Crow




The Last I Heard
(for kiebish)

I’m rudderless tonight,
the forgotten lamb of visions,
(as clear as yesterday’s sky)
(as pointless as planets warring)
the Loch Ness Monster:
Nessitaris Rhombopteryx,
the loneliest of creatures.

The last I heard
you thought I hated you
but I’m only a madman in Coventry
staring up dumb at the Moon.