A Brief History of Edges

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A Brief History of Edges

This road leads nowhere. I live at its end where breezes
wilt and the sun still burns my darkened skin.

I’ve sailed to Oman, but have never seen the Dakotas.
My friend searches for the concealed parable in this truth.

An early clay map depicted Babylon surrounded by a bitter river,
and an island named the sun is hidden and nothing can be seen.

Fitting the limitless within boundaries, she remembers no one.
The lighted sign says boots, but I see books.

Venturing from the shadows, she offers an accord: intersecting borders,
we must retain ourselves, deliver what calls.

In our place between the hidden and the invisible, consider
that neon gas possesses neither color nor odor.

What lives in creases and at the periphery? The isle called beyond
the flight of birds has crumbled from the lower edge.

Where I stand defines my portion of the spherical earth.
Crossing lines, I look to the sky, its bisected clouds.

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“Agave” on poems2go

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My poem “Agave” is one of five featured this month on poems2go

poems2go offers poetry to take with you, tuck in your pocket, your wallet, or to share. Five poets are featured monthly and multiple copies of their poems are printed on 4″x 6″ loose-leafed paper and distributed to selected cafes and/or bookstores for patrons to peruse and take 2 go.

“Agave” was first published in Ijagun Poetry Journal, and is also included in my micro-chapbook,You Break What Falls (Origami Poems Project), available via free download.

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Calm

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Calm (after H.D.)

I flow over the ground,
healing its hidden scar–
the scar is black,
the bedrock risen,
not one stone is misplaced.

I relieve the ground’s
burden with white froth,
I fill and comply—
I have thrown a pebble
into the night,
it returns to me,
settles and rises,
a white dove.

“Calm” made its first appearance in March 2015, and was written as an exercise, using a poem, “Storm,” by H.D. as the launching point. I’ve tried to emulate her diction and rhythm, with mixed success. Still, it’s fun to try these on occasion.

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Irretrievable

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Irretrievable

How we grieve the simplest
truths: we are

the scatterings,

relics of
the mind’s
erosions,

less than the sum
of our bodies. I cannot see
the word

but it smokes like
the color green
burning, but not of
flame, and once

the knife enters
you must avoid
its secretion

and peel the flesh
to reveal
what hides within:

the stem’s
purchase, pith,
seeds,

the irretrievable
shape

of a word
my lips cannot
form.

***

“Irretrievable” first appeared in a slightly different form in Vayavya, in December 2013.

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Video of April 15th Reading

Tupelo Press Reading

Left to right: Christine Beck, Katy Chrisler, Robert Okaji, D.G. Geis, Pamela Paek, Ronnie K. Stephens, d. ellis phelps

I was so pleased to read with this group of incredible poets, and to meet in person Kirsten Miles, the Tupelo Press National Director for the 30-30 Project. She is an insightful, multi-talented and absolutely delightful person. I wish we’d had more time to chat. My portion starts about four minutes in, but please take the time to hear Kirsten’s introduction. There are six other videos (poets have their own videos), and I urge you to watch them all.

Tupelo Press 30/30 Reading, Austin

Thank you to the staff at Malvern Books, and to Jeff, Cate and Plain Jane for sponsoring these poems last August.

For more information on the Tupelo Press 30-30 Project, go to the 30/30 site, or feel free to contact me for a participant’s viewpoint.

 

 

End of the Road

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End of the Road (2002)

Neither expected nor sought, truth arrives.
One phrase, a minute turn of the

wrist, and the beginning reverses itself, becomes
vessel versus point, illuminating

the reach: one sign, two paths. The agave.
How far we’ve come to affect this place.

Last season the flowers were gray and we knew nothing.
Even the stones quivered with laughter.

And then it rained. And the creeks rose, and the bedrock
appeared as if to say your efforts lack

substance. Look underfoot. There lies the truth.
Neither expected nor sought, it arrives.

 

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Icarus

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Icarus

Currents of breath, the slight curve and lift
within a single motion, once

poised then released as if to say
the wind is mine, or wait,
I am alone –

the story we most fear, not height nor gravity’s
fist, but to exist apart, shadow and

mouth, rain and smile, feather
and sun, all denials reciprocal,

each tied fast and renewed.

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With Summer Purpled Awe

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With Summer Purpled Awe

1

No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred
door clanking shut? I was born in
Louisiana. What happened next
is that song living at the edge of
memory, just beyond grasp, its
lyrics gnarled and tangled in the
roots of an old cypress along a
muddy creek. Yeah, that one. I
won’t sing it in this lifetime.
That tune’s never coming back.

2

You stretch out your hands
and a reflection cuts you in half.

3

I should have grabbed you and the dog,
and headed to Texas. They’ve got hills
there that the tide won’t reach, and
trees that won’t die from salt
poisoning, whose branches
won’t be festooned with children’s
clothing and bits of people’s torn
lives, and the stench won’t linger
longer than regret and the effect
of poor choice and dumb luck.

4

There, then gone. I scream
until my voice rasps away
but you are still out there,
still floating, still afraid
and angry and beautiful, hair
forming a halo around your
face, no tears, no sound
but water lapping, and
the flies zeroing in.

5

Next time there will be no party.
I’ll wait alone to greet the rain.
The wind will scour me
as I embrace what comes.

 

“With Summer Purpled Awe” was my 28th offering for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project last August. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.

I’ll be reading with other Tupelo Press 30-30 alums tomorrow evening, Friday, April 15, at Malvern Books in Austin.

 

Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven

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Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven

But your breath could melt a glacier at three
miles, she says, and then we might consider
the dirt under your nails, the way you slur
your sibilants, and how you seldom see

the cracked eggs in a carton, a downed tree
branch in front of you, the ripened blister
of paint in the bedroom, or your sister
lying drunk on the floor in her own pee.

Back to your armpits. Do you realize
we could bottle that aroma and make
a fortune? I inhale it and forgive

your many faults. The odor provokes sighs
and tingles, blushes I could never fake.
Ain’t love grand? Elevate those arms. Let’s live!

 

Never in my wildest dreams did I envision writing a poem about armpits. But the Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and Plain Jane, the title sponsor, provided that opportunity. I’ll be reading this poem, and several others from last August’s challenge, at Malvern Books in Austin this Friday evening. Join us if you’re able.

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