Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Memoriam: Douglas Brooks

I was in one of your lecture classes
Three hundred students stacked like
Dominoes in a classroom that once
Belonged to Biology. You came in the
First day and wrote in frantic letters
"Country Matters." By the end of the
Lecture you led us to worship at the womb
Of an abstinent queen. So were the
Wild adventures of all your students.

Almost a decade later, lining up
Dominoes of my own, I can't help
But think of the electricity of it all,
How like lightening we were occasionally
Struck. How for the rest of the
Semester we would gather around the
Tallest poles, hoping to be hit again.

I didn't get the chance to tell you,
So I'll say it in memoriam, but we're all
Still here, penitent at your feet, quiet
For the next light that escapes your lips.

We have grown in number over
The years, not just adding by semester,
But recruiting beyond your classrooms.
We are now armed to the throat ,
Hungry for the moment when we, your
Unexpected army, will turn this war around.

Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30, 2009

The human body is not
something I readily understand.
It is not something that
I can hold in the kitten paws
of my nimble brain.

Have you recently thought about 
the rocks in your mouth, 
the little osteo-pebbles that crown
your meaty tongue.

Have you pondered what they would 
feel like if you held them 
like marbles in your hand.  What they
would taste like if you tried
to chew them like a clove of garlic.

And these, these are just teeth, the 
people's party of the bone world.
The teeth are for everyone.  Imagine
now the little ladder of your spine,
your patella and how it sits like
a small yarmulka on your holy knee.

What ape man, with club and heavy brow
first found a full skeleton outside the skin?
What would you have done if you were
responsible for attending the same
puzzle of a person?

I would like to say with my intuition
and long history at my parents' holiday table,
I would assemble it with ease, but I think,
instead I would separate the pieces into
small piles, label this one "long,"
these "bended branches,"  the incisors 
"raindrops," the molars "white corn."

January 29, 2009

Bold, broad strikes, I think.
Ones that cover acreage on
this funny field of a canvas.

That was my year, today.

Soft, smooth scrapes in un-
expected directions, enough to
change the scene's momentum.

That was my year, today.

Pin-thin scrawls on the edges of color,
on the sides of the sheep skin stretched
tight across the wood.

That was my year, today.

Another thick slap of paint
pulled slowly with a taste of pennants
with a mouth of penance.

That will be my tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

January 28, 2009

How difficult it must be for a doctor
to simultaneously assess and tinker
with the bones and blood of a patient
while holding their psyche in a third hand.

The auto mechanics of the world do not
need same sex chaperones before checking oil
or testing catalytic converters.  They simply
break open the car like a wristwatch, just
careful enough to get the cogs back in place.

It is not this way with doctors, no.
When they break you open it is an egg,
and though their primal interest is just
the yolk, its viscosity, its color, they must
be careful not to damage the shell, patient
to weave its glass skin together if it cracks.

I am glad I'm not involved in such delicate things
what with my naturally buttery fingers, my
shortage of arms, and my overwhelming affinity
for things that are broken.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009

List of things to do based on John O'leary's sonnet

1. Incorporate boxing into my everyday life.
2. Eat oregano, not as a garnish, but as a meal.
3. Shoplift from stores that seldom see the deed,
Pottery Barn, Lowe's, a Toyota dealership
4. Take off my shirt in public, when sufficiently
comfortable, remove pants.
5. Invade an unsuspecting country, while
brandishing a Swiss flag. I think we all agree
it's time they stood up from the sidelines.
6. Walk on my hands once and for a very short time
just to appreciate how rugged my feet really are.
7. Learn to Charleston, in case I'm ever in South Carolina.
8. Hire trumpets, enter to fanfare.
9. Lie about my whereabouts, not to important
people or even people who ask. Call a stranger
and just tell them I'm in Hawaii or Mauritius.
10.Blow in the phone so it sounds like the ocean.

January 26, 2009

I'll hate you more than I'll love you,
that is, of course, if we're drawing
lines between the two.

I'll love you enough to hold
you up to the light and comment
on how the colors explode in your wicker/glass ribs,
but I will love the colors more than you.

I will hate you enough to hide you
in the garden when your translucent edges
have lost their light, and you are but an afterglow,
a fidgety ember.

On the bright side, you may die before
the wave and particle fail you, so you'll never
see how I shovel the upturned earth without a pause.

If this seems enough, for what you call love,
I know a very good florist.

January 25, 2009

the pencil I'm thinking of
is not as yellow as the rest.
the bite marks along its torso
reveal its wood organs and
the chalky sleeve if its
crushed carbon spine.

the eraser is whole and unused,
a perfect cylinder of unapologetic pink.

the pencil I'm thinking of
doesn't allow mistakes, just hollow
toothed payment for every
sin misspelled.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24, 2009

Poor girl, never did know
how much new shoes hurt
the end of your toes
and the butt of your heel.

I bet she's still walking 
up and down and up
and down her railfence
road, unaware of the
black top two miles north.

But then again maybe that
suits her, poor dreams for a 
poor girl, not looking any further
than her cobweb feet could take her.

I bet they're quiet, spook
quiet when she slips them 
on in an early morning dark
then walks her twenty mile walks,
never an arm's length from the bed.

January 23, 2009

I'm tired of writing these love poems,
these milky lyrical labyrinths that
house the man and bull of my anxiety.

I want to stand in the center of your
cities, and your churches, and your unused
Rockwellian dinner tables and tell you

that there is no way in, and there
is no way out, and the only string we find
we'll use to tie a ten million necked noose.

January 22, 2009

On Discussing the Process of Creative Writing

Perhaps I'll tell them to 
forget about these rules
and walk with me.

We will go through a forest 
that is also the sky, and 
when they feel so inclined 
to cough up something beautiful,

we'll pull back a piece of the world 
and make room.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21, 2009

I attended a class today

“The Desegregation of Public Education”


I was the only white student

A rarity at our traditional southern institution


The challenge of a class like this

Is not, not knowing what to say


It’s saying what I know

While trying to satiate the backwards assumption


That it’s far too much for me to comprehend.

January 20, 2009

Did you see him

When the reverend

Said humility

Did you see him

Raise his head

Like Rushmore


Was it quiet defiance

A challenge to the tie-tacked

Tyrants of our nation


Was it authoritative

Majesty, just basking in

White sun of the day


Or was it looking out

On the crowds, on the

Steady hands of the silent

Trying to learn what

This humility thing

is all about

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 19, 2009

Not all men are created equal.
Some come with a twist in their spine.

Not all men are bound for glory.
Some come with weaker design.

He died on a bloody black table,
wearing only the robe of his crime,

but his name isn't far from the martyr
whose legacy he helped to define.

January 18, 2009

Tonight, just before tucking myself in,
I pulled out a small cardboard box
of pictures I keep hidden beneath my bed.

Filing through the glossy smiles and
candid camera clicks, I saw myself as
a young man, much younger than today.

I recognized most of them as I recognized
the people that surrounded them: a name ,
an idiosyncrasy, an anecdotal story or two.

It made me wonder if our lives are
wooden blocks, on stacking one the other, or
if we are paintings, each separate but viewed in a gallery.

And if we are paintings, on what
uneasy easel am I now perched
and what force would it take to rock
myself off this stand, to fall and lie
face up to the wall-covered world,
me at age five making turkeys out of my stenciled hand,
me at age twelve eating warm grapes in a school cafeteria,
me at age twenty-nine, immovable on a color-clad gallery floor.

January 17, 2009

It is easy to write about
Spain in this 4th floor apartment
on the hip of Houston, Texas.

I can tell you about the
stone fountains that bloom
Along Las Ramblas

And how the blue of the
Mediterranean gets in your eyes
like soap or lemon juice.

I can tell you how the underground
wine tasting just off the beaten path
is sipped and spit in the company of three
cubist women exploding in color.

It is easy to write about a place I have
been as I sit so far away because
the length and the width of it have not changed.
The taste and trouble of it have not changed.

So when I write of you,
do not blush. I am writing
of a you that left long ago.

Gather roses at the graveside as you
hear references to her sandy hair
or her glass blown voice.

But do not indulge to think
that these are love letters.
Consider them elegies, and I,
just a clock-necked minister
paying my last respects.

Friday, January 16, 2009

January 16, 2009

Upon re-reading Billy Collins' "Sailing Around the Room"

Without fail I always find
new poetry here. Haunting little
images I didn't catch the first
time I tiptoed through this
little graveyard of a book.

I think, in your honor, I
will begin hiding little poems
myself: haiku beneath the
local park benches, a sonnet
at the local pay-phone,
a sestina beneath the bleachers
at John J. Riley High School.

I think if I hide enough,
then everyone will feel what
I feel now: this Christmas morning,
Tutenkamen, apple falling
sense of discovery that has
led me to write a small poem
of my own, you'll most likely find
behind the milk at your nearest Randall's
or braided in the chopstick nest
of some uncritical sparrow.

January 15, 2009

He came home today.
Like lava he exploded
through the door and
into my arms and now
is ever so slowly burning
his way back into my life.

They say when Vesuvius
erupted, the people of
Pompeii died where they were:
some eating, some dancing.

In a thousand years
when they dig up these bones,
some white-toothed archaeologist
will point to me and say
that woman was praying.

He'll be gone by then
leaving only this charred flesh
and a paper-mache nimbus
I bought for a song.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 14, 2009

I prefer the leaky pens,
the ones that spit and slobber
on the page like mastiffs.

I prefer the leaky pens
that spin and smear
like Pollock paint on
these tiny blue-lined canvases.

I prefer the leaky pens
that spill the words and words
my Rubbermaid mouth wouldn't
say if you turned me over
and shook my like a madman.

January 13, 2009

They told my this hole in my heart
was God-shaped or girl-shaped
or coin-shaped or globe-shaped,
but what if the hole in my heart
is just a speck on their eye
and what they see as incomplete
is whole beyond their unforgiving I.
and I am the only one with
nothing more and nothing less,
an eye shaped eye, a heart shaped heart

Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12, 2009

I want to grab you by the star of your eye
and pull you, brain first, into a lithium lake
of electric light, a dazzling flora aflame
in a heliophagic forest.

I want to hold you by the snake of your tongue
and wind you up and down the voice-laden vineyards
of my Hallelujah hillside, its frosted mezzo-sopranos
still lush on the vine.

I want to scoop out your soul and knead
it into my yeasty dough, watch it rise with
the sun and the Son and the sons of
a cauliflower country, armed to the jaws
with handkerchiefs and splintered wood.

I want to wash over you like the tide of an
ocean that ceased to ebb and flow long before
our race was unearthed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11, 2009

The American flag that hangs
above my roommate's bed is thin
and lets light through in the mornings.

I, an amateur patriot, would never
consider the stars and stripes a veil-like
or otherwise see-through symbol.

So why, as I search for something
to describe, am I so drawn
to the fading red and blue
that so weakly hides a framed America?

Am I, in my innermost Stein, critical?
Or, are the tongues of the tribunal
so thirsty for blood, I would
cut out my heart just to slake them?

January 10, 2009

Old Friends

I hope that you know 
I still hold you

On the shelf of my shoulders,
the sway of my hips.

I hope that you know
I still see you

In the length of my gait
and the curl of my lips.

I hope that you know 
I still hear you

On the floor of my tongue
and the roof of my laugh.

I hope that you know
I still feel you

On the skin of my hand
and the wind at my back.

Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9, 2009

If I had scissors
I'd cut myself out of this.
Paste myself somewhere
Less interesting.

If I had scissors
I'd run them quickly
through the wrapping paper
promises I've made.

If I had scissors
I'd punch holes in
the top of your mason jar
give you room to breathe.

If I had scissors
I'd hold them by the handle
and stab their little walking legs
across the desk.

If I had scissors
I'd unscrew their only screw
and separate them
a dagger for each hand.

If I had scissors
I wouldn't need all these
perforated politics
I preach.

January 8, 2009

The patchwork quilt my
grandmother made is not beautiful.
Its design of scrap squares and
unwanted cloth is a lost battle,
a cluttered floor, a cracked confetti egg.
The unhappy plum backing pulls
the bright green border into abyss,
not sharp well-crafted edges.

The thread is failing, and the unsteady
hands that sewed it eft uneven tracks
between quilting stitches.  The quilt is 
functional at best, comely only
in a pioneering setting when its jeweled
hues would be envied by unpretty
Amish women who never sinned.

Knowing this and that it would
be the first thing I'd pull out of the fire,
I wonder how many people who love me
are stunned by my ill-fitting arms,
upset by my patchwork hairline and 
diabetes body.  How many regret
my hairless legs ad gappy smile,
but would still rescue me before
my most unattractive features
were corrected in the flames?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January 7, 2009

I raise my glass to the forgotten
to the unimportant, to the innoccuous
moments I thought we shared
but have just been informed
by your sour smile and furrowed brow
that we did not.

I raise my glass to the song
I heard that reminded me, not you,
of a long glance we evidently did not
share across an unmemorable table
with some forgettable red flower in a vase
between us.

I raise my glass to the evening in the park
that I, not we, thought should never end
as you sat so swinging on what must have been
a run-of-the-mill playground swing
whose warped seat and rusted chains will be taken
down by someone who's never swung there.

I raise my glass to the us I've just learned
was a me and the you I've just learned
fell through some hole in the floor years back
leaving me to walk at your pace
some seventeen years in front of you.

I raise my glass to the forgotten,
to the unimportant, to the innoccuous
life I've been living so unawarely alone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 6, 2001

Where are they, if no longer at the mens and womens restrooms?
Where are they, if not at Lacks and J. C. Pennys?
Where are they, if no longer hidden in Sams Liquor Mart and Cathys Classic Cuts?
Are they gone forever, or have they just taken the low road,
splicing sentences and breaking up series in the Oxford fashion.
Have they teemed up to quote or partnered with an aspiring period to separate complete thoughts?
Or are they somewhere less conventional, stretching out leisurely atop French vowels or tanning just above the Spanish "n?"

If I ever find them don't worry about me spreading them around.
I will keep them safely guarded, my little punctuative menagerie.
Holding them all, guilt free, knowing I'm the only one left who cares about possession.

Monday, January 5, 2009

January 5, 2009

Give me the cold and rainy days,
The moorish days all black and numb.
Give me the trench coat and mercury days,
The dense gray days of a Bronte novel.

Give me a knife and a bag and a ladder
And I will, with the hilt of the knife,
Cut open the clouds and collect in my bag
The dark drum rumbles of these days.

And there they'll hide, until on some
Garish summer morning when we are all more
Austen than Hawthorne, I will pour out melancholy
Like a swarm and sting us back to sober.

January 4, 2009

All I ask is that you quake,
that you shudder,
that you feel the weight of me
and splinter.
That your porcelain palms
dissolve to dust.
And your china bones,
back to sand.
All I ask is that you
humbly burst into umbilical flame,
pregnant with the knowledge
that I am your god,
that I am your god,
that I am
      your god.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

January 3, 2008

In response to my roommate's recent receipt of a solicited advertisement from Harvard School of Divinity.

I am not judging you 
though Lord knows my 
gavel is weighty.

I am not judging you
because I too want the 
fattest calf.

But I can't help but
think in subjects such as faith
your reverence for one name
would surely shadow the other.

I can't help but think that
your view of one crimson
would distract you from another.

I can't help but think
that God-fearing men who reach 
too high, will land a priest
of man-fearing gods.

January 2, 2008

And some of you are doubtlessly already disappointed now that you see January 2nd's post appearing on January 3rd, but you must remember that my promise was only to write a poem a day.  There are times that due to access issues these mediocre poems will appear a day or two late.  

I recently found out that the girl I thought I would always marry is engaged.  I write this to her and the countless other beauties I've waited out for nought.

I wanted to see the underside of
your chin as I, one-kneed, fumbled
for your dime thin ring.

I wanted to see you minutes
before morning, the last night
we kissed in pieces.

I wanted to see your eyes cautiously
glance around the standing congregation
as my heavy breath blew the candles cold.

I wanted to see your hands,
impossibly smooth, as they reached
to steal mine from pocketed purgatory.

I wanted to see the space between
your parted lips that now hold words
you'll only say to him.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009


Tired of weight loss and language acquisition, bored with exercise and more time with the family, uninterested in pottery or better oral care, I've made a new list of resolutions whose success seems as likely as those aforementioned.

This year I resolve to yodel.
Loud and long from Manhattan
to the Matterhorn, I will sing my
mountainous mating song.

This year I resolve to herd cattle.
On a spotted roan sway-back I will
corral dogies from the wild plains
of my city apartment to suitable
and moneyed ranch men

This year I resolve to win a Grammy.
As I take the stage and golden
phonograph I will hold it high
thanking only the New Year for
its endless support and encouragement.

This year I resolve to cast the first
stone, unapologetically and with a
pitcher's authority. I will use it to break
your glass houses and to kill your two birds.

This year I resolve to cure cancer
and AIDS and homosexuality and alcoholism
and insomnia and egoism and apathy
and poverty and peanut allergies.

This year I resolve to end war.
This year I resolve to recycle peace.
This year I resolve to fix us.
This year I resolve to break us again.

This year I resolve to hold this year
like a grape, pull off its sour skin with my teeth
and leave its tasteless meat in the bowl.

And thus, it begins...

In the tired and perhaps egomaniacal way that poets of the past have publicly declared their New Year's resolution to write one poem a day and serve it cold to the waiting patrons of their hot n ready diners, I too have decided to commit to a 365 day poetic practice. I am not claiming that these poems will all be good. It is highly possible that none will be good. I do, however, think that it is high time that I commit to something and see it through. I am counting on the readers of this blog and the dedicated patrons of the far superior WJW to see me through on this adventure. Because of tiem restraints and not having a computer with internet it is possible that I will not be able to post each day. I will, however, give you my Aggie word that if a poem is posted with a date as its title, that poem was written during that day CST. I'm excited about this little journey and the small tribe of travellers who will see it through with me. It is my hope that December 31, 2009 will be a day of accomplishment. May this new dedication to my poetry blog be a path to expression, honesty, and occassional targeted assault on people, places, or things.