Exile

cloudy

 

Exile

Having abandoned one, I claim the other.

Rain speckles the driveway.

Solitude pays its toll with unmet expectations,
thunder receding, clouds shriveling to dust.

The mockingbird chirrs its cricket tune
before flying to a higher perch.

What you call home I call diminishment.

What you surrender, I bundle and mail to strangers.

 

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A History of Particles: Ash, Wood, Shrimp

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A History of Particles: Ash, Wood, Shrimp

Unsettled and predisposed
to flight, they
rise. Or, awaiting the process, receive
the glow as prelude to transformation, a

nocturnal exegesis inscribed in flame
and black swirls. Death in the air,
settling upon us. The bitterest
taste. But how to explain

the tongue’s sweet tremor? And the narrow
margins between the transition

from wood to smoke?
At 250 degrees
their pale shells redden,

become vessels of radiant
heat and its attenuated function,
moisture retained so as

to delay and heighten the
delectable flesh, once freed, become
virtue, become fate

sliding down the throat,
the course of deterioration hastened
and endured in perpetuity.

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This first appeared on the blog in June 2015.

Day 20 Poem of the May 30/30 Challenge is up at Tupelo Press!

Support poetry! Support poets!

My friend Stephanie Harper has been hammering out daily poems for this month’s Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge, in an effort to raise funds for one of the country’s best literary presses. Please show your support by reading her efforts and/or donating to the cause, if at all possible. Stephanie’s offering some fun incentives!

SLHARPERPOETRY

Belladonna

Les Belladones sans Merci

What ails you, Keyboard Warrior,
alone & typing in your room?
No nightshades blossom on my screen
     to face our doom…

What ails you, Keyboard Warrior,
with swollen eyes & bearing rough?
That tawny succor in your mug
won’t be enough…

Continue reading here!

Facebook flower

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Scarecrow Contemplates Pi

 Scarecrow Contemplates Pi

At the moment you snipped away
my reticence, I spoke so eloquently
that even the stones wept at your
indifference. As you arranged my
pose and buttoned the shirt
around the wire and fodder
replenishing my torso, I understood
your roots and mine should never
merge: transcendental, and in
collusion with the irrational, we
circles cannot be squared. And
how must I reconcile my unheard
words? The longer I speak the
greater their magnitude – a balloon
expanding in volume retains its
ratio – one day my words will sift
through your filters and you will
at last receive them. I pull this
particular comfort close – that
patterns and frequencies and
tendencies become law, that the
fleshless and soulless, the mute
and misunderstood, the powerless,
the different, nevertheless will be
heard. But what of love? How may I
contend to feel, to know that which
is your right? A nervous system
conducts electrical and chemical
impulses, yet lacking these, my
coreless heart sags at the thought
of your departure. I am no man.
Is this truly not enough?

“Scarecrow Contemplates Pi” first appeared with two companion pieces in Eclectica in summer 2016.

Optimal Daily Word Count

I reread Mek’s fascinating post on the optimal daily word count. It’s more pointed to prose writers, but relevant to poets, too.

Work in Progress

photo of a stack of magnetic poetry words to illustrate story on optimal daily word quota for a writer Photo by Steve Johnson

The habits of famous writers are a source of fascination and perhaps inspiration for book lovers and aspiring writers: aesthetics of their writing retreat; curios in their space; rituals performed before sitting down to work; writing tools; and, perhaps ‘easiest’ for the aspiring writer to replicate: their daily word quota.

Should we follow Michael Crichton’s gruelling 10,000 words per day, or keep it easy breezy at Ernest Hemingway’s 500?

To answer this question, I looked at available data on 39 famous writers and drew inferences on:

– Relationship between daily word quota and rewards

– Gender influence on daily word quota and rewards

– Perceived value of effort and output, and its influence on the writer’s psyche

– Optimal daily word count

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David Cooke (6 Poems)

Dazzling work by David Cooke in Underfoot Poetry.

Underfoot Poetry

Gold

Its lack of reaction has made it unique,
that and the way it can magnetize fools:
forty-niners, Midas, the futures mob—
so gung ho, yet always dazzled by it,
like urchins dreaming of gilded pavements.

Locked in a vault, it validates paper.
It’s what the rich cling to when the bubble
bursts, smiling at the rest of us, our mouths
agape, who wonder why what’s left
is fool’s gold, when the real stuff vanishes.

Acquaint yourself with history, the endless
grubby tomes we’ve filled. From the Age
of Gold to the Age of Iron the avalanche
of grief it’s caused would make you think
we had gathered mountains of it

when, if we had managed to find enough,
we could divvy up into shares for all.
So trudge across the moonlit ploughland
with a metal detector, unearthing
hoards of coins so hastily abandoned.

Crack open the mausoleums of men

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Palinode (birds)

Palinode (birds)

Simplicity, as in the cloaca. One aperture for all: eggs,
urine, sperm, feces. The majority of birds copulate
by joining the openings of their cloacae (most male
birds lack penises). Nothing is for nothing.

Nothing is for nothing, but the ache of emptiness
bestows its own reward. That movement from outer
world to inner, to anima, to breath, to flight,
approaching heaven. Birds know the way.

Knowing the way, birds express our envy of the
boundless, testament to the unity of earth and sky,
instinct’s voice. We see feathers not as epidermal
outgrowths, but as emblems of what we forever seek.

As emblems of what we seek, crows exploit man’s
folly, exposing hidden truths. Thought and memory
recede, leaving us foundered. Altered consciousness,
flight, the space to believe, simplicity’s forms in one.

“Palinode (birds)” first appeared in slightly different form in Otoliths in fall 2016.