Return (El Salvador, 1983)

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Return (El Salvador, 1983)

Two years with no word.
The stick you planted
sprouted leaves last spring,

restoring hope. We had long
thought it dead. Two leaves
and a bud. A note

scrawled on a dollar bill,
unsigned and smuggled out
by some kindly stranger.

This is not much.
We can do little
but watch the tree grow

while you count steps
and deny the walls of a room
that light never touches.

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“Return (El Salvador, 1983)” first appeared here in June 2015.

To the Light Entering the Shack One December Evening


To the Light Entering the Shack One December Evening

No prayers exit here, nothing
limits you. I never knew
before.

The pear tree’s ghost shudders.

Water pools in the depression of its absence.

For years I have wandered from shadow to
source, longing. Now, at rest,
you come to me and fear
evaporates. I would like to count
the smallest distraction.
I would like to disturb.

You are the name
I whisper
to clouds.

Will you leave if I open the door?

A carnival germinates in my body.

You are not death, but its closest friend.

Darkness parts, folds around you.

I close my eyes and observe.

* * *

“To the Light Entering the Shack One December Evening” first appeared in Shantih in December 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for pre-publication order through Finishing Line Press.

Not Blame Your Pleasure

bike

Not Blame Your Pleasure

Because vision limits options, I close my eyes.

Becoming urges patience.

The morning after I didn’t die, I took breakfast in bed.

Arrival stamps the difference between waiting and choice.

Expectation, too, extends its squeeze, rendering sleep impossible.

I ride the bike and go nowhere, or walk steadily, covering the same ground.

Which will claim me first? An occlusion, gravity or unchecked growth?

Anticipation replaces one sigh with another: I have three falls from two roofs.

A friend has named me executor of his estate, and now the race is on.

The path to the void seems straight only near its end.

My ashes will one day soil someone’s morning.

ladder

“Not Blame Your Pleasure” first appeared here in November 2015.

Another Review of My Forthcoming Chapbook

Jaffa Kintigh has posted a review of From Every Moment a Second on his blog and Goodreads.

 

 

 

Order through Finishing Line Press.

 

 

 

 

Please note:  prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined and are able to help me in this commercial endeavor, please purchase your copy during this period, which runs through August 11. The book’s tentative release date is October 6.

 

 

 

Which Poet, Which Beer (2)

pint

Tastes change. In my younger years I preferred sweeter brown ales, eschewed hoppier, bitter beverages, and seldom branched out. Nowadays, I lean heavily towards the bitter, and when the opportunity presents itself, feel compelled to sample the unknown. Thus when I spied Alaskan Brewing Company’s Alaskan Jalapeño Imperial IPA on tap, I had no choice but to order a pint. We may not normally place the words Alaska and jalapeño alongside each other, but if this Imperial IPA is any indication, perhaps we should. With an odor of hops and capsicum, it felt smooth on the tongue, a little malty, even earthy. Not  complex at the outset, but subtle, defying definition and developing over time, in the way a good poem develops. My only complaint would be the lack of heat. But hey, I’m from Texas, and we do jalapeños. This is a beer of multiple cultures, a blend of distinct identities. I think of Joan Naviyuk Kane, and her first book, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, in which she writes in “Antistrophic”

Instead of out, I am in,
Trying at the old habit of imperfect definition
As well as the less familiar,
Between falling gold

Kane’s narrative, her mythology and landscape, are not mine, yet they invite me in and envelop my senses, allowing synthesis, acceptance, to occur.

But sometimes I crave the unadorned. The Lone Pint Brewery’s Yellowrose IPA, a single malt, single hop concoction, startled me. Surprisingly mellow in the mouth, it imparts grapefruit and perhaps pineapple with a hint of something I can’t readily identify. Strong yet delicate, infinitely interesting, Yellowrose is most definitely a celebration of simplicity and craft – a few ingredients combined to create magic. Which may also describe Christina Davis’s book An Ethic. Spare in nature, her work transcends the limits of language, the borders of the page. Her poems blossom anew with each reading, and the farther away I move from them, the more I long to return:

”All Those That Wander,” in its entirety:

After the ark survived the Flood,
it was taken apart
to be made into cages.

This is the nature of religion.

Of course my curiosity leads me down other paths, too. Infamous Brewing Company’s Sweep the Leg peanut butter stout pours with a small head, and tastes of rich malts and coffee, with a little cocoa and, of course, subtle peanut tones. An opaque, dark brown or black, with minimal carbonation, exuding stillness, it isn’t quite what I anticipated, with the peanut butter flavor a tad muted. But the mouthfeel is spot on, and the aftertaste lingers, leaving me requesting more of this unlikely combination, and reminding me of Charles Simic’s  Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell, in which he imparts, through prose poems, the experience of viewing Cornell’s enigmatic art. Nothing is quite as you expect it should or could be, yet you go on, somehow understanding. He writes in “Secret Toy”:

In a secret room in a secret house his secret toy sits
listening to its own stillness.

Simic offers openings into Cornell’s art, explains the unexplainable without explanation. I stare into the pint of Sweep the Leg, and find my own stillness. I read Simic and find another. This is what I seek in poetry, what I want in good beer. I have found it.

blackbeer

“Which Poets, Which Beer (2)” first appeared here in October 2015. You will be relieved to hear that I am still conducting research in these matters.

Recording of “To the Lovely Green Beetles Who Carried My Notes into the Afternoon”

“To the Lovely Green Beetles Who Carried My Notes into the Afternoon” first appeared in riverSedge Volume 29, Issue 1, released in October 2016. It is also included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, now available for pre-publication order from Finishing Line Press.

 

 

Please note:  prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined to help this poet in his commercial endeavor (which does seem a tad strange), and are able, please purchase your copy during this period, which runs through August 11. The book’s tentative release date is October 6.