too damned clever

for a long time i just wanted to kiss and be kissed

but, bucking convention, couldn’t

write dreamy poems

of sunset walks on the shore —

just because i was loveless

didn’t mean my poetry had to be trite.

and i didn’t write about rejection

because, well, i didn’t know any girls.

instead began writing poems with

chromed hubcap metaphors,

maybe tacky tin-can metaphors, in truth,

but shiny like the hubcaps on my ’53 merc’,

blinding me with dreams of attracting a girl,

blinding me to whatever truth the metaphor

was supposed to unfold.

 

Presidential Inauguration 2005

Seeing as how we are in the midst of political conventions and on the cusp of making important voting decisions, I thought this might be a good time to send out a poem I wrote on the occasion of George Bush’s inauguration, the beginning of an administration that led us into Iraq, among other places. I got the information about the gifts bestowed on important guests from the newspaper. I hope the poem will help readers to understand how crucial this year’s vote will be to all of us.

 

Presidential Inauguration 2005

 

I read the morning’s news, imagined

the private jets whining down

onto the D.C. tarmac

 

and later the glitter of the gifts

the gold Rolexes,

his and hers,

 

imagined this

country club crowd

stuffed into black limousines

 

and sequined gowns,

the men in patent leather shoes

beneath their tuxedos,

 

at the banquets

the sparkle of the

Dom Perignon.

 

Then on this hoar-frost morning

I went out to listen to my constituency:

yellowthroat warblers and western tanagers,

 

California quail and scrub jays,

towhees and western thrashers,

American goldfinches and the lesser goldfinches

 

along with waves of white-crowned sparrows.

 

As If I Want You to Go

This poem comes from an imagined situation.

 

As If I Want You to Go

After you tell me

you will be leaving soon

I have to get busy,

any hard chore will do,

so I grab a steel wool pad,

grab the broiler pan,

shamefully splattered

with black globs of

baked on fat

as if we never have

the time to clean it

as if we never

have the chance

to deal with any of the

messes in this

god damned family

and so I scrub

until my fingertips

bleed from the

spun steel pad

and I imagine

you in the family room

wondering

what the hell

I think I am doing.

As if I knew.

our hope will outlast us

 

we emerge slowly

from our cars,

limp through the

clinic’s doors

hoping one more time

to be healed.

here we must reveal our

swollen selves

to physical therapists,

the priests of pain,

who inquire about

our injuries, surgeries,

failures, addictions,

incisions and indecisions

and then we laugh

because the burden of hurt

and varicose veins

require hearty humor.

 

we lie on the

treatment tables,

therapists s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g

joints and muscles

to the edge of agony

and beyond as they interrogate:

“does it hurt here?

here? or here?”

 

we try

to breathe

silently confessing

“merciful therapist,

we have committed the sin

of wanting to run

like children again.”

 

 

 

 

America at Play

I took the underlined sections of this “found poem” from a recent “sporting goods” advertisement in our local newspaper. The rest of the words are mine. In the Big 5 Sporting Goods ads, the items change a little from week to week, but not much.

I propose that the discussion about the recent violence in the United States might include how casually we use the tools and language of violence in our culture and how making money plays a big part.

 

America at Play (from a Big 5 Sporting Goods ad)

 

Winchester .45 pistol ammo,  one hundred rounds, 

for forty-nine, ninety-nine! For your cutting needs a

Stiff Kiss Semi or Non-Serrated Knife!  For the kids

the Silent Cat Pellet Air Rifle or the Bullet Speed-Skates.

On sale, American Eagle 9mm Luger Ammo, 

one hundred rounds for twenty-nine, ninety-nine! 

And from The Marines, the Few, the Proud,

a Tactical Folding Knife! For you militia fans

we feature the Barricade Tactical Backpack,

the Smith & Wesson Commando Watch,

the XLA Shooting Bipod, and we’ve got

the best price on the Stealth Cam p18 Scouting Camera!

You hunters will enjoy a 12-gauge pistol-grip pump shotgun!

To make sure you get that trophy we offer

the Exacta 12-GA double-ought buckshot shells, box of ten,

that you can use in your new

The Marines, the Few, the Proud Tactical Pump Shotgun

perfect for your hunting needs!

 

questions for god, if available

 

why do you allow these

dark imposters to soar

in gorgeous arcs

over your dominion?

did you invite them in?

 

is it your hand that

keeps them aloft

for hours on

still wings

so they can watch us?

 

did you design

these carrion feeders

to fly as if dark angels

for your amusement

or to confuse us?