The Theory and Practice of Rebellion

arrows

 

The Theory and Practice of Rebellion

Such small lives we’ve led,
diffident, quiet, until
provoked.

Remove our words,
we become steel
and sharp stone,
fletched softwood
splitting the air,
string reverberating,
singing resist,
resist
.

Fear not
who we are now.

Consider tomorrow.

 

 

“The Theory and Practice of Rebellion,” first appeared in Outcast Poetry, and was reprinted on Vox Populi. Many thanks to editor Sean Lynch for originally taking this piece, and for Michael Simms for reprinting this and other pieces. I am truly grateful for his support.

Nights at the Magdalene Laundry

cemetery

 

Nights at the Magdalene Laundry

Waiting, as if it could
be foreseen, as if influence and love
and truth could ease into the conversation,

she pours water into the night’s
mouth. A little longer, says the voice,
and the wind bends the grass,

reaching, without apprehension, a conclusion.

Which is not to claim verity, nor the patience of stone
crumbling along the ledge.

She leaves when nothing remains.

 

washtub

“Nights at the Magdalene Laundry” first appeared here in January 2016, and was subsequently published in The Basil O’Flaherty, in November 2016.

 

What Feet Know (with recording)

feet

 

What Feet Know

The earth and its subterfuge.
Gravity and the points between here and there.

And sometimes the rasp of grainy mud
clenched between toes,
or a rock under the arch,
an explanation too pointed
for display on a page,
too hard, too much for flesh to bear.

No constellations foment underground.
Nothing there orbits a companion.

No light but for that darkness the heel scrapes away.

 

 

“What Feet Know” was featured on Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine in December 2016, and is included in my  chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available Available at Amazon.Com and Here.

 

No One Knows

 

No One Knows

There, the dream of flying
cars, and the next,

tumbling through soft
glass, inconsiderate and

hopeful as a child
on his birthday,

hands outstretched, waiting.
Unsmiling. You might ask

where this story turns,
whether the glass reconstitutes

or the car crashes,
reminders of a childhood

reconsidered and the simplest
truth, which is no one knows.

 

“No One Knows” was first published in The Pangolin Review in March 2018.

 

Lament for Five White Cat (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

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Lament for Five White Cat (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

Five White cat always made sure
no rats gnawed my books,
but this morning Five White died.

On the river I offered up rice and fish,
and buried you in its lazy currents,
chanting my lament. I could never neglect you.

One time you caught a rat
and carried it squealing around the yard
to frighten all the other rats
and keep my cottage clear of them.

We’ve shared space aboard this boat,
and although the food is meager
it’s free of rat piss and droppings
because you were so diligent,
more so than any chicken or pig.

Some people speak highly of horses,
saying nothing compares to them or donkeys.
But we’re done with that discussion!

My tears prove it so.

* * *

The transliteration from Chinese-poems.com:

Self have 5 white cat
Rat not invade my books
Today morning 5 white die
Sacrifice with rice and fish
See off it at middle river
Incantation you not you neglect
Before you bite one rat
Hold in mouth cry around yard remove
Want cause crowd rat frightened
Thought will clear my cottage
From board boat come
Boat in together room live
Dry grain although its thin
Evade eat drip steal from
This real you have industriousness
Have industriousness surpass chicken pig
Ordinary person stress spur horse drive
Say not like horse donkey
Already finish not again discuss
For you somewhat cry

A Song Dynasty poet, Mei Yao-ch’en (or Mei Yaochen) died in 1060. His great poems live on.

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A Fire to Light Our Tongues: Texas Writers on Spirituality

A Fire to Light Our Tongues

Some publications are well worth the wait: I submitted poems to this project in 2017, and about seven months later was informed that two had been accepted. And then, silence for nearly two years. But the editors had diligently been working behind the scenes, and despite the pandemic and the tragic death of Donna Walker-Nixon, one of the lead editors, A Fire to Light Our Tongues: Texas Writers on Spirituality has recently been released by TCU Press. Featuring work by such luminaries as Naomi Shihab Nye (the title is taken from her introduction to Sailing the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets), Christian Wiman, A.G. Mojtabai, Rick Bass, Nan Cuba, Mary Helen Specht, Kevin Prufer and other well known Texas writers, it is “an eclectic work exploring spirituality, faith, and disbelief…” As serendipity (and maybe karma) would have it, I was touched to discover that my poem “La Grange,” on page 176, faces “A Stockyard Liturgy,” on page 177, a poem by my late friend D.G. Geis. The last time I saw Greg, we met at a restaurant in Bandera, Texas for a “losers’ lunch,” celebrating the fact that neither of us had won a poetry competition in which we’d both been named finalists.

Since I have poems in this anthology, I’m not going to offer a detailed review. But in all honesty I must state that A Fire to Light Our Tongues: Texas Writers on Spirituality is an exquisitely curated collection of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. Order it through your local bookstore, or through Amazon.

Edited by Elizabeth Joan Dell and Donna Walker-Nixon.

 

 

 

A Cheese Omelet at Midnight

cracking eggs

 

A Cheese Omelet at Midnight

You can’t ever leave without saying something,
no matter how insipid. That sweater looks good
on you. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. I’m sorry
I burned the omelet. Nasdaq has plunged 3% 

since last week. And I, in return, can’t let you go without
replying in equal measure. It matches your eyes. I love
to smell rain in August. That cheddar was delicious.
Maybe I’ll start a savings account. Next month.

So I wash dishes when you’re gone, wipe down the
counters, pour salt into the shaker, grab a book, join my
cat in bed. This tune’s been overplayed, the grooves’re
worn down. Maybe next time I’ll say what I mean,

tell you what I want: It would look better in a heap
on the floor. How about a shower here, tonight? Kiss
me and I’ll never think of it again. I don’t give a rat’s
ass about the stock exchange. Step away from that door!

I’ll make your lunch, butter your 7-grain toast, assemble
your IKEA furniture, balance your books, even dye
my hair pink, tattoo a pig on my thigh and drink light beer
in your honor, if you would agree to say what’s on your

mind. On second thought, don’t. Tell me, instead,
what I want to hear, but make it heart-felt. Truthful
and direct. Poached but earnest. Hard-boiled but tender.
I’ll cook your eggs. Invest in me. You’ll earn interest.

 

* * *

This originally appeared in August 2015, as the 25th offering in the Tupelo Press 30-30 fund raiser. Thank you, Pleasant Street, for sponsoring this.

 

Asparagus omelet MGD©

Wind

blossoms

Wind

That it shudders through
and presages an untimely end,

that it transforms the night’s
body and leaves us

breathless and wanting,
petals strewn about,

messenger and message in one,
corporeal hosts entwined,

that it moves, that it blends,
that it withdraws and returns without

remorse, without forethought, that it
increases, expands, subtracts,

renders, imposes and releases
in one quick breath, saying

I cannot feel but I touch,
I cannot feel

* * *

“Wind” first appeared in Blue Hour Magazine and is included in my first chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

tree