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(A Slice of German Wry)

 

 

1. Loss
2. I a.m.
3. Dryads
4. You Go, Girl
5. Statuesque

6. Insomnia
7. Ascent is Not Always Vertical
8. Cleansed
9. Ghost of Redbeard

10. Henna
11. There
12. Steel Grey Stapler
13. Silly Putty
14. Headland

Loss

A drop of cold
A needle in my side
A sudden fragrance ...
A bitter taste
Enters unannounced
And unwelcome

I protest
And the mere objection
Brings it home
Memory's army
Floods into my body
And takes it captive

I surrender
Memory gloats
And loss leaves
A bootheel on my heart.

(2/18/88)

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I a.m.

The iceberg of don't-wake-me-up has puddled away
But the gates in my eyelids are still rusted shut
And the loop in my head has not yet jarred loose
In favor of fresh thought

I am in morning

The birds don't feel like singing
But the airplanes do
The sun is an ochre yardstick on the wall
I am my own homework that I don't want to do

Not even the rallying cry of breakfast drives me
And nature's call is only a whisper
The hinge on my jaw gives way regularly
To an Old Faithful of yawns

I only rouse myself because
I am tired of being tired
And duty has me in a headlock

OK, OK – Let go of me already.
I am awake.

(8/6/02)

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Dryads

We were buried in pine cones up to our laughing throats
The forest floor alive and wet and warm
Our hands grew worms and beetles combed our hair
Our tongues outstretched to cup the nearing storm

Waiting for our wings to dry
We tapped the soft wood candy saps,
Toasted ferns and learned to fly,
And napped in speckled doe-skin laps

And when the two-leg giant came
Headstrong for change and clearing-cut
We fanned the toadstools toward his flame
And shifted path beneath his foot

We thus waylaid, and so postponed
(And coaxed the rain to drench) his works
We fought for forest, faeries, birds,
For timid flower and beast that lurks.

Their Caterpillars finally left
And ours emerged as butterflies
And celebrated with the gift
Of wild confetti in the skies.

(9/10/02, 12/8/02)

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You Go, Girl

In the near silence hangs a fallen water drop
The phone lies coolly untouched
Vague white noise weaves along an apathetic breeze
I light a virgin candle
And breathe slowly and deeply
In enjoyment

Each moment now is a sunrise
Though tired, though late, I still have energy
I'm always hungry now
There's something to do now
Besides close the door
And exhale
The perfume of your wake

(7/22/02)

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Statuesque

Michelangelo
Breathed life into marble
With a chisel in his hands
And an understanding
Of his cool smooth medium.

Melina
Returns the favor
Steals my breath
With dimpled alabaster
A warm smile
And closer movement
To carve a lasting impression
And leave me immobile.

(2/96)

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Insomnia (Haiku)

Spiders in my eyes
Keep me awake and itchy
Keep me octopied

(3/29/97)

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Ascent Is Not Always Vertical

From asphalt
Away to grass
Herbal sway
Blinds lift

Out of freeway
Ear shot
Toward wind shout
River roar
Pulse lift

Leave work
Weary day load
Bleached
Bone sad

And walk
Huge bright cold
Become deafening fire splash
Feed simple hunger soar
And spirit lift

(8/14/01)

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Cleansed

"Be nothing where I am not
Go nowhere without me
Have only when we touch"

This was the spell placed on me
And forgotten after we parted
So that for years she still
Poked her witch's fingers in my ribs
Become a curse
Forged in silver, hidden in gifts
Buried in collages in strange languages
Encoded in a ceremony

Today rediscovered
Disassembled, torn, burnt, flushed
Evaporated, encrispt
The only reminder of her
Once fierce passion
A soot stain on a handtowel
And an empty frame

(2/11/96)

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Ghost of Redbeard

She lit me with a glance and pushed away her coffee
Looked at the ring on my finger and smiled
Wrote "Marry Me!" in lipstick on the table as it rained
And kicked me in the shins

Blew bubble gum in my ear and stepped on the gas
Took off her shirt to tan by Tyrone Power's grave
Now the girl who first invited me to swim in her lake
Could be dancing on the freeway for all I care

She took me for security as she got her first tattoo
And told me that her sweat could heal all wounds
Now the girl who whispered "Careful!" is a stranger to my calls
And could be strung out in the street for all I know

Took me to the dark side of her passion
She left her burnt insignia in my chest
Disappeared sarcastic with a bundle of my things
And an unspoken claim to all my rest

(7/31/90)

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Henna

The stinging smell of
Henna barges in, unexpected
Say hello again
To the maniac it makes of me
That smell of burning flowers
Or a tangy poison fruit
Familiar, what I used to bury
My face in years ago
Hide myself in her hair
Henna, the color of joy and pain
Of passion and regret

(3/7/89)

 

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There

There
The rock finally broke the window
The rain pours in too slowly
But it feels good on my face

There
The tension slowly fading
A glass of water waiting
Upon my waking up

There
The coffin finally lowered
My spit with dirt now mingled
The dance begins
Just by chance and ends
With a ditch where the mound had been

(4/18/99)

 

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Steel Grey Stapler

An elementary school battleship
A totem of an era of tempera paint
And mimeograph inhalants,
The texture and taste of a
Thoroughly chewed pencil.

I must have an attention problem–
I remember no lessons taught,
Only the drowsy buzz
Of children busy with noodles and glue,
Of missions made of cardboard,
Hands powdered black from playing on asphalt,
The low-budget smell of cafeteria corn,
The taste of school-issue pizza.

I remember only that
I accepted as truth
The bad political inside jokes
My sixth grade teacher fed us–
That Richard Nixon's brother had a
Fast food joint called
The Nixon-Burger Court
But I don't remember
My lessons on Brazil, Halloween songs
Or what came after nap time

Because I was learning the smell of pencils,
Erasers and books,
And gritty detergent-scrubbed desks.

I was flying around
Just under the ceiling,
Bumping into the transoms
And only landing in my chair
Long enough for roll call and
The occasional spelling bee.

What I learned over the years
Did not enter my brain immediately
But gathered golden on my legs
And was stored away once I got home.

(12/14/00)

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Silly Putty

Your beauty plucks out my eyes and rolls them
Across the hardwood living room floor
Picking up dust and cat hair, I blink
In time to see you open the screen door
My ears are chalkboards and you scrape your nails
Across them like the sweet music they can make
My lips are gravel, glue and broken glass
In comparison to the clouds you kiss with
How can an earthworm like me
Attract a bird like you?

(7/1/97)

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Headland

Slow navel swell of a papaya sun
Sinking into soft belly rise of quicksand ocean
I'm at the cusp of the bay
I stretch out my hands to the mountains
Wind smooth on my face like pale bleached hairs
Chin up, I stick out my tongue
Await the spray of the waves

(10/2/92)

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