Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

flame

 

Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

Each flower is a gift, a testament to
another morning’s arrival.
I watch you tend the firestar, its
mango-colored petals flirting with

the fire ’n’ ice’s elegant
red, accepting the pink indictment
of the flaming peace, and the
scarlet fireglow’s blush. You are like

a new sunlight crossing the day,
yet when I wave, a cloud passes over
you. Flames differ in this regard,
knowing they exist only as the product

of heat, oxidation and combustible
material, yet sharing their brief lives
with all who care to notice. I inhale
your dark thoughts, holding them

within, but later assemble my own
bouquet — wood chips and diesel
fuel, ground spinners, snakes,
strobes, rockets, candles, shells,

repeaters and a spark timer — and
plant it fondly in the garden. Oh,
how they’ll blossom before dawn’s
first touch. How they will shine.

 

roses

 

“Setting Fire to the Rose Garden” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge, and was subsequently published in The Paragon Journal’s [Insert Yourself Here]: an Anthology of Contemporary Poetry

 

Rain Forest Bridge

bridge

 

Rain Forest Bridge

To cross
you must first
trust the strands

to hold.
The second tentative
step precedes
the next,

each successive one
gaining strength:
here to

there, now
to then, a summoning of
entreaties
within
one’s faith.

Vapor meets cooler air,
forming droplets,
clouding the far side.

I have feared endings
and the strictures of the unseen,

but here
in this vast
swaying,
I know

one line
bisects the void.

 

* * *

“Rain Forest Bridge” first appeared in Four Ties Lit Review in August, 2014.

A recording of it may be found on the Four Ties site.

rope

 

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.

armpits

Countdown, #3: How to Write a Poem (with recording)

My last five posts of 2019 are reruns of five of the most viewed posts on this site during the year.

 

How to Write a Poem

Learn to curse in three languages. When midday
yawns stack high and your eyelids flutter, fire up

the chain saw; there’s always something to dismember.
Make it new. Fear no bridges. Accelerate through

curves, and look twice before leaping over fires,
much less into them. Read bones, read leaves, read

the dust on shelves and commit to memory a thousand
discarded lines. Next, torch them. Take more than you

need, buy books, scratch notes in the dirt and watch
them scatter down nameless alleys at the evening’s first

gusts. Gather words and courtesies. Guard them carefully.
Play with others, observe birds, insects and neighbors,

but covet your minutes alone and handle with bare hands
only those snakes you know. Mourn the kindling you create

and toast each new moon as if it might be the last one
to tug your personal tides. When driving, sing with the radio.

Always. Turn around instead of right. Deny ambition.
Remember the freckles on your first love’s left breast.

There are no one-way streets. Appreciate the fragrance
of fresh dog shit while scraping it from the boot’s sole.

Steal, don’t borrow. Murder your darlings and don’t get
caught. Know nothing, but know it well. Speak softly

and thank the grocery store clerk for wishing you
a nice day even if she didn’t mean it. Then mow the grass,

grill vegetables, eat, laugh, wash dishes, talk, bathe,
kiss loved ones, sleep, dream, wake. Do it all again.

 

* * *

“How to Write a Poem,” is included in Indra’s Net: An International Anthology of Poetry in Aid of The Book Bus, and has appeared on the blog as well.

All profits from this anthology published by Bennison Books will go to The Book Bus, a charity which aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.

Available at Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US)

Wherein the Book Implies Source

book

 

Wherein the Book Implies Source 

And words form the vessel by which we traverse centuries, the river
stitched across the valley’s floor, easing access.

Accession by choice. Inorganic memory.

Vellum conveys its origin: of a calf.

How like an entrance it appears, a doorway to a lighted space.
Closed, it resembles a block of beech wood.

To serve as conveyance, to impart without reciprocity.

Framing the conversation in space, immediacy fades.

The average calfskin may provide three and a half sheets of writing material.
Confined by spatial limitation, we consider scale in terms of the absolute.

The antithesis of scroll; random entry; codex.

A quaternion equalled four folded sheets, or eight leaves: sixteen sides.

Reader and read: each endures the other’s role.
Pippins prevented tearing during the drying and scraping process.

Text first, then illumination.

Once opened, the memory palace diminished.

 

* * *
This originally appeared in April 2014 as part of Boston Review’s National Poetry Month Celebration, and is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press chapbook collection, IDES, published in 2015.

ides front cover 92915

Houston

 

 

Houston

The difference in street and river.
Of sanctity and dreams, bones and water.
He offers prayer and thought, but no refuge.
The bruised sky continues weeping.
Frightened, the dog paces her narrow island.
Tents flap in the rooftop breeze.
I sit in comfort, watch the screen,
flowers, like gravestones, lining the walls.

 

 

“Houston” was first published at The Green Light in April 2019. Many thanks to editors Caitlin and Ash for taking this piece!

 

 

Tarantula

file000990621742

 

Tarantula

The patience of stone, whose surface belies calm.
Neither warm nor cold, but unfeeling.

It digresses and turns inward, a vessel reversed
in course, in body, in function, the

outward notion separate but inclusive,
darkness expanding, the moist

earth crumbling yet holding its form:
acceptance of fate become

another’s mouth,
the means to closure and affirmation

driven not by lust nor fear
but through involuntary will.

Neither warm nor cold, but unfeeling.
The patience of stone.

 

file5091271408303

“Tarantula” first appeared here in February 2015.

 

The Green Light’s National Poetry Month Celebration

 

The Green Light has put up the collected works from their National Poetry Month celebration. .My poem “Houston” appeared on April 4th. Many thanks to editors Caitlin and Ash for taking this piece!

 

 

How to Write a Poem (with recording)

 

How to Write a Poem

Learn to curse in three languages. When midday
yawns stack high and your eyelids flutter, fire up

the chain saw; there’s always something to dismember.
Make it new. Fear no bridges. Accelerate through

curves, and look twice before leaping over fires,
much less into them. Read bones, read leaves, read

the dust on shelves and commit to memory a thousand
discarded lines. Next, torch them. Take more than you

need, buy books, scratch notes in the dirt and watch
them scatter down nameless alleys at the evening’s first

gusts. Gather words and courtesies. Guard them carefully.
Play with others, observe birds, insects and neighbors,

but covet your minutes alone and handle with bare hands
only those snakes you know. Mourn the kindling you create

and toast each new moon as if it might be the last one
to tug your personal tides. When driving, sing with the radio.

Always. Turn around instead of right. Deny ambition.
Remember the freckles on your first love’s left breast.

There are no one-way streets. Appreciate the fragrance
of fresh dog shit while scraping it from the boot’s sole.

Steal, don’t borrow. Murder your darlings and don’t get
caught. Know nothing, but know it well. Speak softly

and thank the grocery store clerk for wishing you
a nice day even if she didn’t mean it. Then mow the grass,

grill vegetables, eat, laugh, wash dishes, talk, bathe,
kiss loved ones, sleep, dream, wake. Do it all again.

 

* * *

“How to Write a Poem,” is included in Indra’s Net: An International Anthology of Poetry in Aid of The Book Bus, and has appeared on the blog as well.

All profits from this anthology published by Bennison Books will go to The Book Bus, a charity which aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.

Available at Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US)

Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

flame

 

Setting Fire to the Rose Garden

Each flower is a gift, a testament to
another morning’s arrival.
I watch you tend the firestar, its
mango-colored petals flirting with

the fire ’n’ ice’s elegant
red, accepting the pink indictment
of the flaming peace, and the
scarlet fireglow’s blush. You are like

a new sunlight crossing the day,
yet when I wave, a cloud passes over
you. Flames differ in this regard,
knowing they exist only as the product

of heat, oxidation and combustible
material, yet sharing their brief lives
with all who care to notice. I inhale
your dark thoughts, holding them

within, but later assemble my own
bouquet — wood chips and diesel
fuel, ground spinners, snakes,
strobes, rockets, candles, shells,

repeaters and a spark timer — and
plant it fondly in the garden. Oh,
how they’ll blossom before dawn’s
first touch. How they will shine.

 

roses

 

“Setting Fire to the Rose Garden” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge, and was subsequently published in The Paragon Journal’s [Insert Yourself Here]: an Anthology of Contemporary Poetry