My poems “Worms,” “Self-Portrait as Question,” “Love Song for the Dandelion,” and “Pinecone on a Pedestal, Open Poet” are up at Rue Scribe. Many thanks to Eric Luthi and the editors at Rue Scribe for accepting these pieces, and to Ken Gierke, who provided the title for “Pinecone on a Pedestal, Open Poet” three years ago during a Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge. It finally made it into the world!
How to Do Nothing
First you must wash the window to observe more clearly
the dandelion seed heads bobbing in the wind. Next,
announce on Facebook and Twitter that you will be offline
for the next two days, if not forever. Heat water for tea.
Remember the bill you forgot to pay, and then cleanse
your mind of all regret. Consider industrial solvents
and the smoothness of sand-scoured stone, the miracle
of erasure. Eliminate all thought, but remember
the water. Hitch a ride on a Miles Davis solo and float
away on a raft of bluesy notes and lions’ teeth,
and wonder how to sabotage your neighbor’s leaf blower,
but nicely, of course. She’s a widow with a gun.
Now it is time to empty yourself. Close your eyes.
Become a single drop of dew on a constellation of petals.
Evaporate, share the bliss. Stuff that dog’s bark
into a lock box alongside the tapping at the door,
the phone’s vibration, the neighbor’s rumbling bass,
and the nagging, forgotten something that won’t
solidify until three in the morning, keeping you awake.
But don’t ignore the whistling. You must steep the tea.
* * *
“How to Do Nothing” was published in Volume 4 of Steel Toe Review.
Because You Cook
You know the pleasure of
hunger, of patience
and a task well done.
Dice onion, peppers – one hot,
one sweet – saute them in olive oil,
fold them into an egg
cooked flat. Add
crumbled goat cheese, basil.
Morning ascends, then declines,
but night drifts in, confident,
ferrying these odors among others.
Accept what comes but choose wisely.
Light the candle. Shift the burden.
* * *
“Because You Cook” first appeared in Ristau: A Journal of Being in January 2018. I am grateful to editor Robert L. Penick for taking this piece.
Ikebana (You without You)
Between frames, between presence and negation, authority.
If your body lies in the earth, why are you here?
Limits admired and sought: the way of the flower.
I pluck leaves from the lower half to achieve balance.
Shape and line detach, yet comprise the whole.
My father, awake in his chair, mourns quietly.
A naked twig forms one point of the scalene triangle.
Starkness implies silence, resonates depth.
Heaven, earth, man, sun and moon invoke your absence.
As you trickle through the interval’s night.
* * *
Ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arrangement.
This first appeared on the blog in March 2016, and is included in my mini-digital chapbook, Interval’s Night, published by Platypus Press in December 2016, and available via free download.
Waiting, I open myself but nothing enters. Even music’s comfort avoids me, preferring calmer ports or perhaps another’s wind choices. I drop the weighted cord through the flute, pull it, and watch the cloth ease out. Some days pain drags behind me no matter what words emerge, what phrases follow. Last night brought the season’s first fireflies. This wall of books grows taller each day.
exhaling, I note
smudges in the sky —
oh, dirty window
I have three poems up at Nine Muses Poetry, a new online poetry journal out of the UK. Many thanks to editor Annest Gwilym for taking these poems.
When this note fades
will it join you in that place
above the sky
or below the waves
of the earth’s plump
body? Or will it
circle back, returning to
my lips and this
to aspire again?
Note: Ro designates the fingering required to produce a particular note on the shakuhachi, the traditional Japanese bamboo flute. In this case, closing all holes.