Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon
Dear Jeff: The glow here betrays our fantasies,
and between day and night and that uncertain
moment when neither holds sway, I have gained
a toehold on consequence. Who knew darkness
could shine so? Last November the surgeon
incised my belly six times but no light oozed
out and little crept in. I say little, but feel
a peculiar radiance emanating from my middle
which I can only attribute to the moon, although
the medical professionals would say it’s just
gas. But what do they know of Sheng-Yu or
Li Ho, of jade wheels and spilled cups? Last
night, to honor our marching sisters, I looked
to the cloud-filled sky and toasted them and
our ancestors, the poets and scapegoats, friends,
allies, compatriots, Five White and Jackboy,
shedding a solitary tear of joy in the process.
We won’t label the other tears, but I shudder
at our country’s current course and how the
bulging wallets of the rich continue swelling
at the expense of the poor and unhealthy,
the elderly, the unacknowledged, and those
living on the fringes, in colored shadows.
If we meet in person on some desolate, moon-
free road in a country that could never be,
how will I know you but from the ghosts and
smiles sparkling in the surrounding fog,
and the little voices singing their sad tune
of happiness into the night. This is where
we stand today, but tomorrow? Look for me
on that bench. I’ll be the full-bellied fellow,
the one with an eclipse leaking from his shirt
in a six-point pattern, two glasses in hand,
wine uncorked, ready for reptiles and politicians,
mirth and causation and good conversation
in brightness or tenebrous calm, whichever
needs replenishing more. But bring another
bottle. Or two. Talking makes me thirsty. Bob.
* * *
My poem “Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon” was first published at
The Hamilton Stone Review in October 2017. Much gratitude to editor Roger Mitchell for taking this piece.
White Mules and a Column of Smoke
I am thinking of a place I’ve never seen or visited,
much like Heaven or Jot ‘Em Down, Texas, but with better
beverages and the advantage of hindsight and seasoning,
a glance back or to the peripheral, with a side of memory
and sliced, pickled jalapeños topping a pile of imagination.
And how do we so clearly remember what never occurred?
That book I read in 1970 was first published three years
later. A drowned childhood acquaintance ordered a beer
and sat next to me at a party in college. The open fields
I recall from the garden walls in France, where homes stood.
If only we carried with us slide shows or grooved vinyl
to trace back our lives – photos and recordings of those daily
remembrances – detailed notes indexed on cards, or data
embedded in our palms and accessed by eye twitches.
Would such evidence improve our lives?
Which filters shutter moments and thoughts, twist them
into balloon animals we no longer recognize? False
accusations and convictions aside, can we trust what we
know to be true? That oak stands where it has for four
decades. I bleed when cut. The sky still leers above us.
“White Mules and a Column of Smoke” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge. I am grateful to Natalie Butler, who sponsored the poem and whose photo inspired me.
My poem “Down and Away” is live at
. Many thanks to Juleen Eun Sun Johnson and Aaron Schuman for taking this piece. Trestle Ties
“Balance” first appeared here in February 2016, and is included in my just released micro-chapbook
Only This, available for free download from Origami Poems Project .
“Nightdreams” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Posted in Poetry, recording |
Tagged creative writing, insects, life, literature, nature, philosophy, poems, poetry, recording, writers, writing |
My poem “Cracked” is up at
. I’m grateful to the Noble Gas Quarterly Noble Gas team for taking this piece.
Posted in Poetry |
Tagged abuse, creative writing, culture, literature, perception, poems, poetry, questions, relationships, resist, writing |
In Praise of Rain
Which is not to say lightning or hail.
Sometimes I forget to open the umbrella
until my glasses remind me: Wake up, you’re
wet! If scarcity breeds
value, what is a thunderhead worth
in July? A light shower in August?
Even spreadsheets can’t tell us.
We’ve had rain lately…
“In Praise of Rain” is included in my micro-chapbook,
You Break What Falls, available via free download from the Origami Poems Project.
Posted in chapbook, Poetry |
Tagged acceptance, creative writing, drought, humor, language, literature, mindfulness, poems, poetry, Texas, writing |
Still Hands (Cento)
I let it burn, rooted as it is. Now
nothing else keeps my eyes
in the cloud – get close to a star,
and there you are, in the sun.
What about all the little stones,
sitting alone in the moonlight?
Silence complicates despair.
I have believed so long in the magic
of names and poems,
and I know that you would take
the still hands to dryness and
loose rocks, where the light
re-immerses itself. It’s not the story
I want. We cannot live on that.
* * *
Sharon Wevill, Julia de Burgos, Francis Ponge, Mary Oliver,
Alberto de Lacerda, Robert Hass, HD, Jacques Dupin, Francesca Abbate, George Oppen.
Posted in cento, Poetry |
Tagged cento, creative writing, life, literature, philosophy, poems, poetry, poets, psychology, writing |