Day Three Poem: We Do What We Must

Sink Drain

We Do What We Must

How to reconcile
the German in me

with the Irish, the Japanese,
and those birthrights I cannot claim?

Cleaning the bathroom,
I twirl the toilet brush, curse in Italian,

and consider cooking Szechuan beef.
Sponges make me laugh

in French. Rice is gohan in my house.
I often say potatuh instead of potato,

and then there’s tomatuh. I may mispronounce
parmesan, but never parmigiana.

In Hawaii everyone looked like me
but I drawled like a true Texan

to avoid a beating. I say domani
when putting off chores,

but dishes must be done immediately
after dinner and during meal prep.

My mustache is red, as are some of my eyebrow
hairs. I am a man of many shirts, many excuses

and contradictions. I prefer washing by hand.
Spüli, I say, when filling the sink. Spüli.

* * *

Many thanks to Plain Jane for sponsoring this poem and providing the title and these three words: toilet, brush, and Spüli.

If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Pondering Perpetuity,” and is sponsored by Jazz Jaeschke, who sponsored the title and asked for three words: balance, swirl and awaken.

Poem a Day Mini-marathon Continuing, but…

Literary Cat

The mini-marathon of writing a poem a day to raise funds for Brick Street Poetry is continuing, but we could use a few more sponsors! I’ll keep going for as long as you keep sponsoring poems, or until month’s end, whichever comes first. 

I invite you to join me in this project and help out by reading, commenting, heckling, encouraging, insulting, cajoling, praising and yes, if circumstances allow, sponsoring me and donating funds (to Brick Street, not me). This might not be of much interest if the poems were simply going to languish in a file somewhere, but such is not the case. They will be posted online daily, warts and all, for the world to peruse. That’s right – you’ll see my daily work, unpolished and raw, finished or not. Thus far, I’ve not been reduced to whimpers…

I’ll post each day’s offering sometime in the morning, and will leave the poems up for a few weeks. I consider these poems drafts, and will eventually revise and send some of them to journals/anthologies for publication consideration. Many journals consider poems posted on personal blogs to be published, thus I’ll take them down, so as not to violate their sensibilities (odd though they may be).

Like many nonprofits, Brick Street Poetry, Inc. depends upon donations to augment their projects, which vary from a monthly poetry reading series and podcast, to placing Borrow a Book boxes in state parks, publishing a literary journal and various anthologies, and establishing a neighborhood literary art park (to offer free workshops), just to mention a few.

This month they’re raising funds by asking people to vote, via PayPal donations, for favorite haiku in a just-published online anthology.

I’ve decided to help out by — what else — writing poems. See my post of September 5th for details.

Why am I doing this? I love poetry. If I, poet, reader and book buyer, don’t support Brick Street’s mission, who will? 

Day Two Poem: Poetry in the Dark: A Speed Reading Nightmare

razor

Poetry in the Dark: A Speed Reading Nightmare

In this dream you have fallen in love
but have never met the object of your affection,
who, as it turns out, is a fake-blonde with a tongue
like a straight razor and an attitude so negative
even shadows freeze at her feet. Life is good,
you say, but might I have a moment to dispel
this notion of poetry in the dark? Every word
blossoms bright flares, each syllable unfolds
the night, peppers the air with lightdrops
and the aroma of shed falsities. And then
your love steps in and desiccates the atmosphere.
Drops a few F-bombs, slices nerve endings,
stomps out expectation. What do you see in her,
I ask. It’s not about vision, you reply, but what I
hope to find. Think of purgatory, of broken
door knobs and the party next door. Think about
time capsules and nested dolls and what might
live around the corner, if only you believe.
Then an auctioneer starts reading your poems,
and no matter how you struggle, you can’t
describe the lure, the power, the beauty,
the insurmountable, undeniable, ineffable darkness.

 

* * *

Many thanks to Ken Gierke for sponsoring this poem and providing the title!

If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “We Do What We Must,” and is sponsored by Plain Jane, who, six years ago, forced me to write “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven.” 

 

Make Me Write a Poem!

Reflections

I’m trying to raise funds for my favorite local literary nonprofit, Brick Street Poetry, Inc., and am hoping that some of you might be able to help. This month, Brick Street has published an online anthology, Haiku for Hikers, and in an effort to raise funds, is asking people to vote on their favorite haiku from the anthology via PayPal donations. Disclosure: I have two haiku in the anthology (on pages 47 & 48), and it’s been announced that the poet who generates the most income will receive a monetary award. To this I say: please don’t feel obligated to vote for my poems, AND if I somehow happen to earn the most donations, I promise to donate the award money back to Brick Street. The goal is simply to earn funds for this stellar organization. And, as luck has it, during September, Brick Street will also receive matching funds for all donations!

So I’m pledging to write at least 10 poems in 10 days, from September 8 through September 17 (as of today, we’re scheduled through the 18th, and will continue if donations come in). If you have the time and inclination, please follow along (I’ll post the new poems daily) and consider supporting poetry by making a donation. Every bit helps, especially with matching funds. To make this fun, and with hopes of enticing you, I’ve instituted a few incentives:

Name That Poem! For a $15 donation, you provide a title, and I’ll write the poem during the mini-marathon. Be imaginative. Make the title as long or as interesting as you wish – consider this a dare! But this incentive is limited to only ten titles (unless forced by demand to extend the challenge). Titles from previous challenges ranged from one word to upwards of 80, and also included such atrocities as “Calvin Coolidge: Live or Memorex,” and “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven.” These were, of course, among my favorites to write.

Use These Words, Poet! For a $16 donation you can offer 3 words that I must use in a poem. Why only 3? Because I’m (a) chicken (pawk, pawk!), and (b) I hate relinquishing control of my poetry’s language. Yes, yes, I know. This says horrible things about my character. But look at it this way, you could combine the first two incentives (for a $25 donation) to force me to use your title AND three words that I likely wouldn’t use otherwise, which is about as much control as I’m able to give up (shuddering). Be kind. Or not. But it would be nice to produce  publishable poems…

Isn’t Broadside a Military Term? Well, yeah, but in this case it’s also a printed poem. For a $10 donation, I’ll send you my broadside of “Mayflies” or “The Loneliness of the Last” — your choice — or perhaps one from the current challenge.

But feel free to donate any amount. These are just suggestions.

Brick Street has provided this information for those interested in voting:

Please check out Brick Street Poetry’s new anthology “Haiku for Hikers” and help the author of your favorite poem receive recognition and monetary reward.

Instruction for voting for “Haiku for Hikers” Poems.

Readers can access the online version by clicking on “Anthology” at the top, far-right of this Brick Street Poetry webpage http://www.brickstreetpoetry.org/  Reading is enjoyable & free!

Then vote for your favorite poem or poems by clicking the Pay Pal Donation Button and making a donation of any dollar amount and placing the poem’s number for which you are voting in the comment section. You may vote for as many poems as you want but need to describe the split of funds in the comment section or make a separate donation for each individually if voting for more than one. Donations of less than one dollar can’t be split. If more than one # is listed without splitting instructions, all money will be credited to the 1st poem listed.

Poems receiving $10 in donations will be included in the printed version of the work, and the poet will receive 3 free copies of the printed version. The poem with the most public support will receive an honorarium equal to half of the donations received for that poem.

Your support will mean a lot to the poet for whose poem you vote and it will mean a lot to Brick Street Poetry too!  We thank you for reading the work of the poets included in our anthology and for your support of your favorite or favorites.

Thanks very much for considering this!

Day One Poem: When Madeleine Said No

Empty Glass

When Madeleine Said No

The spotted orb spider withdrew
to a dark corner under the eaves.

Last night’s empty glass remained
empty. Books continued sleeping

on shelves, comfortable in their covers.
What do I do now, she asked.

Nothing has changed,
but the sunlight streaming in

bores through my skin,
fingers all the little crevices,

records my cellular secrets
and folds them into tiny squares,

perhaps to be exposed later.
I am alone but not alone.

All one. Like rain and a river.
Like a train’s whistle knifing

through dreams. Like the night sky
above storm clouds, and smoky

laughter wafting from a bar. A symphony,
a bible. One syllable reclaiming a life.

* * *

Many thanks to Lynne Burnett for sponsoring this poem and providing the title!

If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details.

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Poetry in the Dark: A Speed Reading Nightmare,” and is sponsored by Ken Gierke, who may or may not be out to get me…

Poem a Day Mini-marathon Continues

Literary Cat

The mini-marathon of writing a poem a day to raise funds for Brick Street Poetry is continuing! I could use a few more sponsors! The initial goal has been met, but I’ll keep going for as long as you keep sponsoring poems, or until month’s end, whichever comes first.

I invite you to join me in this project and help out by reading, commenting, heckling, encouraging, insulting, cajoling, praising and yes, if circumstances allow, sponsoring me and donating funds (to Brick Street, not me). This might not be of much interest if the poems were simply going to languish in a file somewhere, but such is not the case. They will be posted online daily, warts and all, for the world to peruse. That’s right – you’ll see my daily work, unpolished and raw, finished or not, and if you listen closely you may hear whimpers issuing from a certain garret in northwest Indianapolis.

I’ll post each day’s offering sometime in the morning, and will leave the poems up for a few weeks. I consider these poems drafts, and will eventually revise and send some of them to journals/anthologies for publication consideration. Many journals consider poems posted on personal blogs to be published, thus I’ll take them down, so as not to violate their sensibilities (odd though they may be).

Like many nonprofits, Brick Street Poetry, Inc. depends upon donations to augment their projects, which vary from a monthly poetry reading series and podcast, to placing Borrow a Book boxes in state parks, publishing a literary journal and various anthologies, and establishing a neighborhood literary art park (to offer free workshops), just to mention a few.

This month they’re raising funds by asking people to vote, via PayPal donations, for favorite haiku in a just-published online anthology.

I’ve decided to help out by — what else — writing poems. See my post of September 5th for details.

Why am I doing this? I love poetry. If I, poet, reader and book buyer, don’t support Brick Street’s mission, who will? 

Provide a Title, I’ll Write the Poem

Literary Cat

The mini-marathon of writing a poem a day to raise funds for Brick Street Poetry will continue for as long as you keep sponsoring poems, or until month’s end, whichever comes first. Donate $15 to Brick Street and give me a title — as short or as long or as weird as you want. Or donate $16 and force me to use three words of your choice. Or combine the two challenges for a donation of $25. Details are here. Feel free to ask questions via comment. 

I invite you to join me in this project and help out by reading, commenting, heckling, encouraging, insulting, cajoling, praising and yes, if circumstances allow, sponsoring me and donating funds (to Brick Street, not me). This might not be of much interest if the poems were simply going to languish in a file somewhere, but such is not the case. They will be posted online daily, warts and all, for the world to peruse. That’s right – you’ll see my daily work, unpolished and raw, finished or not, and if you listen closely you may hear whimpers issuing from a certain garret in northwest Indianapolis.

I’ll post each day’s offering sometime in the morning, and will leave the poems up for a few weeks. I consider these poems drafts, and will eventually revise and send some of them to journals/anthologies for publication consideration. Many journals consider poems posted on personal blogs to be published, thus I’ll take them down, so as not to violate their sensibilities (odd though they may be).

Like many nonprofits, Brick Street Poetry, Inc. depends upon donations to augment their projects, which vary from a monthly poetry reading series and podcast, to placing Borrow a Book boxes in state parks, publishing a literary journal and various anthologies, and establishing a neighborhood literary art park (to offer free workshops), just to mention a few.

This month they’re raising funds by asking people to vote, via PayPal donations, for favorite haiku in a just-published online anthology.

I’ve decided to help out by — what else — writing poems. 

Why am I doing this? I love poetry. If I, poet, reader and book buyer, don’t support Brick Street’s mission, who will? 

Poem a Day Mini-marathon Begins Tomorrow

Literary Cat

The mini-marathon of writing a poem a day to raise funds for Brickstreet Poetry begins tomorrow! Thus far ten days have been sponsored, which means the initial goal has been met. But I’ll keep going for as long as you keep sponsoring poems, or until month’s end, whichever comes first.

I’ll post each day’s offering sometime in the morning, and will leave the poems up for a few weeks. I consider these poems drafts, and will eventually revise and send some of them to journals/anthologies for publication consideration. Many journals consider poems posted on personal blogs to be published, thus I’ll take them down, so as not to violate their sensibilities (odd though they may be).

Tomorrow’s poem, “When Madeleine Said No,” was sponsored by one of my favorite poets, Lynne Burnett. If you’re not familiar with Lynne’s poetry, you can find it at her blog. You’re in for a treat!

Like many nonprofits, Brickstreet Poetry, Inc. depends upon donations to augment their projects, which vary from a monthly poetry reading series and podcast, to placing Borrow a Book boxes in state parks, publishing a literary journal and various anthologies, and establishing a neighborhood literary art park (to offer free workshops), just to mention a few.

This month they’re raising funds by asking people to vote, via PayPal donations, for favorite haiku in a just-published online anthology.

I’ve decided to help out by — what else — writing poems. See my post of September 5th for details.

I invite you to join me in this project and help out by reading, commenting, heckling, encouraging, insulting, cajoling, praising and yes, if circumstances allow, sponsoring me and donating funds (to Brickstreet, not me). This might not be of much interest if the poems were simply going to languish in a file somewhere, but such is not the case. They will be posted online daily, warts and all, for the world to peruse. That’s right – you’ll see my daily work, unpolished and raw, finished or not, and if you listen closely you may hear whimpers issuing from a certain garret in northwest Indianapolis.

Why am I doing this? I love poetry. If I, poet, reader and book buyer, don’t support Brickstreet’s mission, who will? 

Make Me Write a Poem!

Reflections

I’m trying to raise funds for my favorite local literary nonprofit, Brick Street Poetry, Inc., and am hoping that some of you might be able to help. This month, Brick Street has published an online anthology, Haiku for Hikers, and in an effort to raise funds, is asking people to vote on their favorite haiku from the anthology via PayPal donations. Disclosure: I have two haiku in the anthology (on pages 47 & 48), and it’s been announced that the poet who generates the most income will receive a monetary award. To this I say: please don’t feel obligated to vote for my poems, AND if I somehow happen to earn the most donations, I promise to donate the award money back to Brick Street. The goal is simply to earn funds for this stellar organization. And, as luck has it, during September Brick Street will also receive matching funds for all donations!

So I’m pledging to write 10 poems in 10 days, from September 8 through September 17 (and if there’s interest, might extend the challenge beyond the 17th). If you have the time and inclination, please follow along (I’ll post the new poems daily) and consider supporting poetry by making a donation. Every bit helps, especially with matching funds. To make this fun, and with hopes of enticing you, I’ve instituted a few incentives:

Name That Poem! For a $15 donation, you provide a title, and I’ll write the poem during the mini-marathon. Be imaginative. Make the title as long or as interesting as you wish – consider this a dare! But this incentive is limited to only ten titles (unless forced by demand to extend the challenge). Titles from previous challenges ranged from one word to upwards of 80, and also included such atrocities as “Calvin Coolidge: Live or Memorex,” and “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven.” These were, of course, among my favorites to write.

Use These Words, Poet! For a $16 donation you can offer 3 words that I must use in a poem. Why only 3? Because I’m (a) chicken (pawk, pawk!), and (b) I hate relinquishing control of my poetry’s language. Yes, yes, I know. This says horrible things about my character. But look at it this way, you could combine the first two incentives (for a $25 donation) to force me to use your title AND three words that I likely wouldn’t use otherwise, which is about as much control as I’m able to give up (shuddering). Be kind. Or not. But it would be nice to produce ten publishable poems…

Isn’t Broadside a Military Term? Well, yeah, but in this case it’s also a printed poem. For a $10 donation, I’ll send you my broadside of “Mayflies” or “The Loneliness of the Last” — your choice — or perhaps one from the current challenge.

But feel free to donate any amount. These are just suggestions.

Brick Street has provided this information for those interested in voting:

Please check out Brick Street Poetry’s new anthology “Haiku for Hikers” and help the author of your favorite poem receive recognition and monetary reward.

Instruction for voting for “Haiku for Hikers” Poems.

Readers can access the online version by clicking on “Anthology” at the top, far-right of this Brick Street Poetry webpage http://www.brickstreetpoetry.org/  Reading is enjoyable & free!

Then vote for your favorite poem or poems by clicking the Pay Pal Donation Button and making a donation of any dollar amount and placing the poem’s number for which you are voting in the comment section. You may vote for as many poems as you want but need to describe the split of funds in the comment section or make a separate donation for each individually if voting for more than one. Donations of less than one dollar can’t be split. If more than one # is listed without splitting instructions, all money will be credited to the 1st poem listed.

Poems receiving $10 in donations will be included in the printed version of the work, and the poet will receive 3 free copies of the printed version. The poem with the most public support will receive an honorarium equal to half of the donations received for that poem.

Your support will mean a lot to the poet for whose poem you vote and it will mean a lot to Brick Street Poetry too!  We thank you for reading the work of the poets included in our anthology and for your support of your favorite or favorites.

Thanks very much for considering this!

Scarecrow Considers the Afterlife (with recording)

Scarecrow and Friends

 

Scarecrow Considers the Afterlife

Gathering threads, I join them with a central
knot, producing a sunburst flower or constellation
of ley lines spreading forth and connecting their
tenuous truths – megalith to fjord, solstice to
dodmen and feng shui, suppositions entwined
and spat out. And who’s to say which alignment
stands taller than the next, which rut, which energy,
defines our direction? When I cease to be, will I
remain or dissipate, return in another form or
explode and scatter throughout the universe, the
residue of me sizzling along the starways for eternity
or perhaps just the next twenty minutes. It is clear
that I possess no heart, no internal organs. My spine
is lattice, my skin, fabricated from jute. Eviscerate
me and straw will tumble out. I do not bleed. Yet
the crows consult me in secret and conduct their
daily mercies, and I think and dance and dream
and wonder and hope. Oh, what I hope.

 

* * *

This was first published at Eclectica in July 2016, with two companion pieces.