Strollermelon

 

 

Strollermelon

In the summer I roll them from grocer to bus stop, little bonnets
affixed, cooing all the while – cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew,
casaba, canary, sugar, you name it, they all come home with me,
in pairs or solo, snuggled tightly in blankets and ensuring
dropped-jaw, raised-eyebrow gapes from those who approach.
Don’t they look just like their mother, I ask, and no one ever disagrees.
Everybody is so nice, even the teen-age boys who no longer offer up
their seats. But Damon, who recently purchased new pants to impress
Wanda-I’m-An-Attorney, enjoys whispering secrets to us. Did you
know they’re actually berries? And that some are called fruit,
others, vegetables? They’re not much good for pies, though. I just
call them “Mel,” which is funny because I know that you’re not
supposed to name something you’re going to eat, and really, I do
recognize the difference between sentient beings and plants, but
then candidate Harumph comes to mind, and how do you explain
him and his followers? When cool weather approaches, I turn to
squash. Happy acorn, the elongated, sad butternut, pumpkin. Each
holds a niche in my heart, and I love strolling down the sidewalk
with them, humming tunes, adjusting stems, planning meals.

 

* * *

“Strollermelon” was first drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was published in Quiet Letter in April 2017. Thanks to Plain Jane for providing the odd title. One never knows what’ll arise from sponsored titles!

 

Incongruities

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Years ago, I worked in a library…

Incongruities

so little depends
upon

the half-Japanese
bookman

reading Italian
haiku

in the Texas
library.

Once again, my apologies to William Carlos Williams, whose poetry inspires and therefore often bears the brunt of my little diversions into whimsy. “Incongruities” first appeared here in October 2015. The original WCW poem can be found here.

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This is Not Just to Say

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This is Not Just to Say

Okay. I ate the damned
plums. But it’s not my

fault you left them
sitting there on the top

shelf, so sweet, so cold,
enticing me, as only

you, or perhaps a ripe
peach, or strawberries,

or Asian pears or even
pomegranates, can do.

Besides, you need
something substantial

for breakfast. How about
donuts, or bacon, instead?

* * *

My apologies to WCW, but I couldn’t resist. You can find the original Williams poem here. The poem first appeared here in September 2015.

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We Call the Neighbor’s Fat Burro Donkey Hotei, but His Name is Cantinflas

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We Call the Neighbor’s Fat Burro Donkey Hotei, but His Name is Cantinflas

Certainty grows in corners, away from light.
From his mouth issues the breath we take, the words we keep.

Enjoy the collusion of shape and sound.
We share the hummingbird’s taste for sweet, but not its fierceness.

Its heart beats 1,200 times a minute,
and you ask me how best to bury money.

Hotei’s name means cloth sack, and comes from the bag he carried;
a man of loving character, he possessed the Buddha nature.

What we own cannot be held.
Most plastics are organic polymers with spine-linked repeat units.

The space you’ve left expands exponentially.
Left in the rain, the bell grows.

Christen me at your own peril. Agaves flower once then die.
Fluency in silence.

I dropped my pants when the scorpion stung my thigh.
The wind takes nothing it does not want.

After vulcanization, thermosets remain solid.
The Cantinflas character was famous for his eloquent nonsense.

Vacuum wrap the bills in plastic, place them in pvc.
Having mastered imperfection, I turn to folly.

Not the thing itself, but the process laid bare and opened.
Hoping to hide, the scorpion scuttled under a boot.

Thought to action, whisper to knife: which is not a curse?
The wind wants nothing; the burro sings his loneliness.

 

This first appeared here in May 2015. My failures often lead to success. I’ve never quite completed this piece, and don’t know that I ever will. But the first draft (nearly five years ago) set me off on a new path, one that has served me well. What more can I ask?
 
 
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Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven

glacier

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 August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and Plain Jane, the title sponsor, provided that opportunity. This first appeared here in April 2016, and was subsequently published in Algebra of Owls. Many thanks to editor Paul Vaughan for taking it.

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Never Drink Anything Blue

blue drink

Never Drink Anything Blue

But always keep your options unzipped and
available to whatever slips in; the snake

lives in the attic for the rodents,
but occasionally takes a fledgling peewee

from a nest near its exit, while the scorpion
generally avoids light except for those nights

when moths seem too delectable to pass up.
Our governor whistles Beethoven but switches to

the hymnal when campaigning, and I’ve announced
a need for organic zucchini when craving a craft

beer. Confession is good for the soul, except
when it’s bad for the body. “Think with words,

not with ideas,” Sontag wrote, and Williams said
“no idea but in things.” Of course he was just writing

a poem. Baking is chemistry – measure carefully –
but cook with abandon! Whoever said “keep your

friends close but your enemies closer,” slept
alone most nights, or not at all. Born in Louisiana,

I am the product of an illegal union, but which
half should be interred where? Both sun and

moon rise and set. Is anything incorruptible?
Drink everything blue. Everything.

hymnal

“Never Drink Anything Blue” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and appeared here in March 2016. Many thanks to Stop Dragging the Panda, who sponsored and provided the title.

Poem Published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal

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My poem “Nanukatukitsukatsu” is included in Issue #6 of Last Stanza Poetry Journal. It’s available in print or in a Kindle version, via Amazon,  and other outlets. Thank you, editor Jenny Kalahar, for accepting this piece.

It was 10 A.M. When the Angel Said You Have to Go Now

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It was 10 A.M. When the Angel Said You Have to Go Now

Forgive me for seeking clarity, but do you have a specific
destination in mind, or are you saying, with a little less
force, get lost, go away, I’m done with you, or might you
merely be suggesting that I go forth? And what exactly is
your position on, oh, let’s just say the afterlife and the
journey there? As for turning, you certainly did,
offering both in sequence, again and yet again, to my
great appreciation. Butter. You must explain your fetish
and how the room exuded pale gold and sweet after
one little death, as if a honeyed light had oozed in beneath
the door, and, in kissing the carpet, released endorphins
and cool warmth, and love-moths frantically flapping
to dry our sweat without the slightest chill. It’s the little
things, my mother always said, never considering size,
but meaning those thoughtful touches, the fresh flowers,
a plate of cheese and fruit, and yes, the tenor sax moaning
in the alcove. I’ll go, but you know this is my apartment.

 

“It was 10 a.m. When the Angel Said You Have to Go Now” was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 fundraiser, thanks to d. ellis phelps, who sponsored and provided the title. It was subsequently published in Atlanta Review in May 2020. 

Bent

 

Bent

We’ve seen some version of the nail
curled over, the head angled at 90 degrees
or parallel to its body, just above

the penetration point. Three years ago
a tornado powered a single straw stem
through the oak’s bark and into its trunk,

illustrating the Old English beonet, for
“stiff grass,” and sadly conjuring the image
of a blade affixed to a firearm’s muzzle, the

etymology of which lies elsewhere, in Gascony.
And when we consider mental inclination,
signifying deflected, turned, or not straight,

we might also include an earlier past participle
meaning “directed in course.” But even the
tree’s armor could not deter the twister’s

wrath, and the hammer, no matter my aim
or purpose, seems intent upon glancing off
the nail, twisting it, leaving us, again, bent.

 

“Bent” first appeared in the print publication Ristau: A Journal of Being in January 2018.

 

Epiphanies

Don't Say That jar, collecting coins for bad words

 

Epiphanies

What greater doubt
than if

preceding only,
or hope cascading through the withheld
unspoken phrase?

Or the conditional, as it slows to place
an obstacle in its very own
path. If only I could

I would deny its existence,
but the conjunctive

bears blame as well,
though nothing’s put before

the preposition (which one
would certainly never end with).

 

* * *

“Epiphanies” first appeared here in April 2015.

 

CUE 8