Letter to Gierke from the Future’s Past

Letter to Gierke from the Future’s Past

Dear Ken: I’m fixated on open faucets and drained tanks,
on cracked PVC and browned grass, denial and what’s to
come, thinking of old dogs and accusations and how
the morning’s lopsided beginning has wrung out every
shred of positive emotion absorbed overnight. Then
a pinpoint emerges, swelling, until I can see, as through
a spidery windshield, tomorrow and its improbabilities.
Last weekend I built a window screen to exact measurements,
only to discover the sill tilted on the north by a quarter-inch,
and in order to install the damned thing I had to shorten
its right side, ruining the rectangle. Perfection eludes me,
even when guided by tape and square, especially in this
climate of exacerbated deterioration, which has not, alas,
excluded me – sciatic nerve, shoulders, knees, hands, etc.
But enough whining. Tea leaves predict that in a few hours
I’ll cross the creek trickling over the road, check the cisterns
and drop off tomorrow’s drinks before heading home to
swat mosquitoes and grill sage-rubbed pork kebabs while
sipping hoppy brews. That’s as far into the future as I
care to venture. The Cowboys drafted a lineman named
Taco, the weeds need mowing and my belly says noon
is fast approaching. I’d like carnitas, but have only rice
and beans, which probably signifies something far deeper
than my conscience will admit, trials I’ll never face. A
thunderstorm looms in the forecast, but my left ankle says
it ain’t happening. What do your mended bones claim?
Mine usually plead the fifth, but hey, they’re careful,
these days, and with good reason. Take care. Bob

* * *

“Letter to Gierke from the Future’s Past” was featured at Vox Populi in December 2017.

Overlooked

 

Overlooked

How immemorable, he thinks,
drilling into the wall.
Another hole, another day.
Fill them, and still others
beg creation.

Say mouth. Say void,
followed by tongue and burden,
by orifice and bland. Say
invisible. Empty. Say forget.

That we plan is given.
But who writes the manual
to our lives? The hammer

does not shiver at the thought
of itself. Take this board
and remove only that portion
the screw will occupy.

Level the hook. Admire
the work. Adjust.
Do this twice.

“Overlooked” was published in Mantle in August 2017.

Driving to Work, I Pass Myself

 

 

Driving to Work, I Pass Myself

Some days the drive takes twenty minutes,
on others, thirty or more. Seems I might pass
myself on the right morning if time flexed its
biceps or looped me into a dimensional shift
thick with donuts and tires and lost minutes.
How odd it would be to wave and say “see ya,”
knowing that tendered frustration grows in
distance, until it takes over the entire mirror.
Looking back, I see my frown diminishing
to a lone point in that shrinking van at the
hill’s crest. Will we meet in the parking
garage? Should I wait? You know the rules.

Scarecrow Sings the High Lonesome

Scarecrow3

 

Scarecrow Sings the High Lonesome

Nothing about me shines or sparkles. If asked,
I would place myself among the discarded —
remnant cloth and straw, worn, inedible,
useless, if not for packaging intended to
convey a certain message, which I of course
have subverted to “Welcome, corvids!” Even
my voice lies stranded in the refuse, silent
yet harmonious, clear yet strangled, whole
and unheard, dispersed, like tiny drops of
vapor listing above the ocean’s swell, enduring
gray skies and gulls and those solemn rocks
bearing their weight against the white crush.
Why do I persist? What tethers a shadow
to its body? How do we hear by implication
what isn’t there? Bill Monroe hammered
his mandolin, chopping chords, muting,
droning, banging out incomplete minors
to expectant ears, constructing more than
a ladder of notes climbing past the rafters
into the smoky sky. What I sing is not
heard but implied: the high lonesome, blue
and old-time, repealed. Crushed limestone
underfoot. Stolen names, borrowed sounds.
Dark words subsumed by light, yellowed,
whitened, faded to obscurity, to obscenity.

“Scarecrow Sings the High Lonesome” first appeared in Crannóg, in June 2017.

Jim Harrison

trout

While browsing the Poetry Foundation’s articles, I uncovered this piece from 2016. Jim Harrison has long been one of my favorites. His success at prose has perhaps caused some to forget or disregard his poetry, but in my mind, he’s always been a poet first.

 

 

Day Nineteen, Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, August 2016

music

My poem “What Are You Going To Do” has been posted among today’s offerings of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (9 poets have agreed to write 30 poems apiece in 30 days, to raise funds for Tupelo Press, a non-profit literary publisher). I am grateful to Barbara Carlson, who sponsored and provided the title. To make things a bit more interesting, I composed a cento of lines taken solely from Tupelo Press publications (and yes, I own all of the source books. I really am a fan of the press).

What Are You Going to Do (Cento)

Not everything can be set to music,
you have to understand that.

If I went to the end of the street,
would I be at the center of myself? …

Click here to see the rest of the poem.

Tomorrow’s poem, “You Say Cicada” was sponsored by Sunshine Jansen, who provided these three words: instar, ecdysis, and sap-sucking.

I still need title sponsors for the 23rd and 24th, and don’t forget about the 3-word sponsorships. Remember, you can combine the two (as in today’s poem) to force me to use not only your title, but also three words that I’d likely not use on my own. And can anyone challenge last year’s co-winners of Worst Title in the History of the 30/30 Project, Ron, Plain Jane and Mek?*

The  sponsored poems are a blast to write, and the titles lead me to poems I’d not otherwise conceive. If you’re inclined to sponsor a poem, Donate to Tupelo, and please let me know as soon as possible what your title is or which three words you’ve foisted upon me.

For a $15 donation, I’ll send you a signed copy of one of my 30-30 poems. Your choice!

If you need something to read, Think Dink! A $30 donation will get you my 2015 chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform, Barton Smock’s Infant Cinema, Jamie Hunyor’s A New Sea, and Tim Kahl’s full length work, The String of Islands, thanks to the generosity of Dink Press founder and editor Kristopher Taylor!  A limited quantity is available, so order earlier rather than later. I hear that Kristopher Taylor is providing a little something extra with the collection. You can read about it here, thanks to Ken at RIVRVLOGR.

For information on sponsorships (and my other incentives), click here.

Thank you for supporting poetry! Only 11 poems to go!

* The titles are, respectively, “Calvin Coolidge: Live or Memorex,” “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven,” and “Reduce Heat and Simmer Gently Without Cloud Cover, Till Sundown. Serves 2 – 7 Billion.” “Nose-Picking Reese’s Hider” is definitely a strong contender for this honor.