Saturday, January 31, 2009

We were asked to write a poem inspired by a well-known movie, so I chose The Big Heat.  I focused on all the smells left out of the movie -- or the most important smells.

The Big Heat  

Burn ointment, after it's sat for a day
on her cheek. The reek of  stolen
steak coming from the oven, constant
cigar smoke. Cordite on her thumb
from shooting her sister . Hot coffee,
dripping into the neck of her silver
dress.  Mint, faintly, around the rim
of her mouth in the morgue, and
hairspray. Black velvet gloves,
once they absorb the scent of violet

hand cream, of spilled high balls.
The smoke of a wife's burning hair

as the car flames, how the cotton back
of a sofa smells after it's been shot.

The duck pajama pants of a daughter scared
to get out of bed once it's dark.  Gardenia
perfume like the bottom of a dancer's shoe.
Gin slowly breathing in a jam jar. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

I saw this poet read tonight. Cynthia Cruz. I've been carrying Ruin in my pocketbook for the last six months, reading and rereading it. Her new poems were just as numinous and fantastic. I think she was a little overwhelmed by the way I slobbered over her when I met her... Oh, well. I can never act cool when I admire someone so much. I least I got a book signed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Wedding Night

My husband walks in, his hand
on the back of a fox, kicking

the door shut behind him with his heel,
and he says.  Staring at my neck

with the eyes of Mary after she found
the lamb.  As he fingers his long braid,
smelling of jasmine and bone dust.  

My husband says.  

My husband with the crooked crown,
with the half-seeing eye.  
With the thumb that wanders while he sleeps.  

My husband limps to the fireplace,
trailed by the bespectacled dog and bear;

my husband lifts the lid. To the murmuring,
bubbling, black-bellied pot.  The pot says,

get your filthy feet off my new red carpet,
before my husband.

Tips the bitter soup into the fire.  As the fire dies,
cursing and spitting.

He says, Don't.  My husband says, Don't let
your fairytales get in the way of my mouth.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Okay, I know you're dying for it. I'm jumping on the bandwagon and giving my two cents about Elizabeth Alexander's poem. First off, the blog I link to discusses it a lot more coherently, but here's my try. I like the beginning. I like the plain speech -- as those of you know who've been following my blog, I use it quite a bit myself. I enjoy the repetition, the way the poem starts off slow and unassuming. I think there's a clear and deliberate contrast with the gravity of the situation, and the plain-ness of the poem, and I like it. I like the details, the proletarian focus (which one commentator said meant it was only meant for a black audience; as if there weren't poor whites, or people with poor white ancestors who worked in the fields, like ME). I liked it up until the word, "Begin." To me, it should have ended there. It wouldn't have been an inaugural poem then, but it would have worked a lot better. After the "begin", the poem gets sticky and tries so hard to be lofty. By the time she gets to the word "love", the poem is completely gone.

Some suggest that the last 6 stanzas should stand on their own, and I agree -- they are really part of a different poem. That second poem is not so hot.

And her delivery: horrid, horrid, horrid. Made it much worse than it was. She gave almost the same emphasis to every word -- sounded preachy.

That is my two pennies. Feel free to yell in response.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From a series I'm working on:

And from ANOTHER series I'm working on, Called Border Songs:

At the Gate

At the gate, we remove our shoes.
We take off our belts.  We give

short men our keys and our keys
are held in grimy red baskets.

We don't talk; we don't look
at each other. The room is filled

with the smell of diesel fuel
and nervous sweat.  The boat
engine rumbles in the distance.
It sounds as if it is arriving; as if

it is leaving. The floor shudders
with the force of it. We hear

splashing, but we cannot see
the water.

Monday, January 19, 2009

As some of you may know, since I've been shouting it from the rooftops, I got a book accepted by Plain View Press.  So of course I've been frantically putting together covers, cause people judge books by their covers, you know.  Please vote for the one you like bestest.




Vote in the comments, or notes, or on the wall.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Didi painted a picture of me!

and I wrote a poem, again. I should show you the first draft -- it's so different, it's amazing. My mind tends to wander and things get weirder and weirder.
It's for a homework assignment for Joanna Furman's class -- a poem in one sentence. I actually did two of these.

At the Second Accident

I leave the engine running, the driver's
side door open, and I don't float --

I sink, the water not as cold
as I imagined, but brown and golden

underneath, filled with specks and slow
moving leaves and things that sparkle

and dart and I hear shouting and I'm
lifted by my ponytail and I'm out

of the water and you have your arms
and a blanket draped around me

and I think we're alone, but flashbulbs
keep going off, and I'm apologizing for

something I can't remember, and
you say, it's alright, that's what
credit cards are for, anyway.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Waiting Room, Mercy Hospital

Visiting hours are about to begin.
We all smell the same -- like vinegar,
coffee and rotten bananas, like sadness
held for a long time. The man
in the corner nods over his brown

paperbag. In an hour, a nurse will tell
him again to leave. Along the wall,

a girl on a boy's lap hooks her fingers
through his belt loops, he caresses
her ears; they moan and weep about
Markie. A blessing, an old woman
in a housecoat says as she opens
the door to the street.  Someone
has gotten better or she has given
up. A blessing, she says, as rain
slams into the sidewalk. When
the door closes again I can hear
myself  breath. Behind me, someone
whispers on their cell, I'll be there,
stop it already.