Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gogyohka 12.30.09

When I saw those two
talking about heroin addiction
in that movie
I knew they were once lovers
and not yet ex-es

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gogyohka 12.28.09

our little Christmas tree
in the window
with the sun setting behind it
gives me comfort
like a mini Mt. Fuji

If you lose someone
it hurts
but everyone else seems closer
The darkest sky
has the brightest stars

that old whore
wearing costume jewelry
and talking in reruns
a bad game of make believe

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gogyohka 12.26.09

went skating at Bryant Park
and fell down
now my upper butt hurts
on the train going home
bright faces wishing Merry Christmas


last night
went skating
and fell down
now my butt hurts
on Christmas morning

want to write a poem
to stop your heart
make the blood dance
shut your eyes
and let your wings grow

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gogyohka 12.23.09

What's called civilization
sounds like a sum of agreements
"It's not that easy
You can't just snap your fingers"
Time's old trick of permanence

My father stood up
and said no
to a room full of men
leaning back in their chairs
still full from lunch

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gogyohka 12.22.09

America, please--
be beautiful again
This December
filled with smiles and sparkle
can last

my youth dreamed up ideals
sneered at imperfections
whatever washed away my castles
now waves are enough
and more

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gogyohka 12.21.09

washing the dishes
temper breaks
glass shards on the ground
rage won't resolve
only circulate

you can rebuild
a building
you can't rebuild
a tree

the cleared pathway
has a skim
of snow
with pee

don't tell
Mr. Kitty
sleeping in the snow-reflected sun
about the splash and slush
of the melted sidewalks

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gogyohka 12.20.09

These accumulated over the past week like the snow piled up on the sidewalks in Brooklyn:

Already know I'm back
Go down the stairs
to the train platform
and hear steel drums
playing "White Christmas"

Driving to the airport
we see the border signs
from South to North Carolina
Once in the air
the only lines left are highways

the city street's mood
the moment between two songs
playing on a jukebox
the trash cans are wearing
tall white fur hats

Sneaking out late
Buttoning my coat
and zipping my boots
to wrap myself
in nature's blanket

blowing snow
turns a city night amber
the only sounds
a set of wind chimes
and the old school's industrial heater

This snow!
Fluffing up the spiny branches
and weaving a blanket
to rest in the temporary death
of Winter's sleep

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gogyohka 12.12.09

On the train platform
50 whiskey-breathed Santas
chanting "Ho. HO. HO!"
On the train a prophet--
"When the Word came, it was like a sword..."

the husband stands
in the winter sun
scrooging his face
his wife coos at an infant
down the sidewalk

Friday, December 11, 2009

Collected Gogyohka 12.7.09-12.11.09


New flag
just out of plastic
run straight up the pole
and waving alone
in the winter wind

"He's the kind of guy
who looks at his shoes
when he trips
over his feet."
"Oh yeah?"

for the moment

The fracture line
between thinking
and believing
Don't need no flowers
to feel the Spring wind

Climb a tree
when young
to paint the tree
in perspective
then become the tree

In this cold
the sidewalk
looks like
a future chipped tooth
an icicle falling

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another Guest Gogyohka Poet

This one is Peter Fiore, author of the first published collection of American Gogyohka Poetry, Text Messages. Peter has been a wonderful companion on the journey of promoting Gogyohka in this country, and since meeting in October his advice and energy has meant a great deal to me.

[Peter and his granddaughter Linda Fiore, who also writes Gogyohka]

in misty rain
I see my children
looking out the window
for me to come home

our first time together
I last 3 minutes, you get pregnant
40 years later
we have 7 grandchildren
and live 3000 miles apart

in the morning
we ate apples and cheese
by the river
my children and me
voices rattling like kites

You can read more poems and thoughts by both Peter and Aidu at Gogyohka Junction.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Guest Gogyohka Poet, Aidu Taro

Hi everyone,

If you follow my blog regularly, you remember I posted a poem by Mont. Well, you can call him Aidu now, and here's another Gogyohka I especially like from his English body of work.

after picking white roses
in our small garden

I set them secretly
in my wife’s pillowcase

an evening of May

[a photo Aidu took of a white rose growing in his garden that didn't make it into his bedroom]

You can visit Aidu's blog by clicking from the list on the left. His is called "The Lovely Earth".

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gogyohka 12.06.09

Does anyone
hate prison
more than
Johnny Cash?
Born with bars

Still haven't
the mix tape
of my heart
not enough tracks

The birds perched
on the highest branches
of the tree
outside the housing projects
are singing in unison

I don't live
near whites
I live
in a slice
of chocolate custard pie

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gogyohka 12.04.09

my outward expressions
have been made
so many times now
they're lined into one
heart's river keeps flowing

such a razor's edge!
cynicism's sneer
or staying not naive
seeing the wounded bird
forgetting the wounded bird

December Brooklyn
People singing
and dancing
even if
they don't know it

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gogyohka 12.03.09

we asked him what he wanted
to do for a living
"I want to lay in a hammock
with a glass of wine
listening to jazz"

The bright blue sky so warm
it makes me delirious
I set my head down
walk fast on the sidewalk
Past the drunk fingering his bottleneck

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gogyohka 12.02.09

The bare botanic garden
lets me see the reflecting pool
Seems so much closer--
an oncoming winter
promises intimacy

Something she likes
standing before the emptied pool
with an island
of dead cat-o-nine tails
Something the scarfed old woman likes

Lost in a waterfall of faces
and wanting to be
Only one way to avoid
achieving yourself
Easy to hide shouting alone, too

Walking the streets
could get hit by a bus
for all I care
Facing strangers without fear
Filled with riches none can rob

the sweet reeking potpourri
of brown leaves
gathered by hand
stuffed into shopping bags, tied tight
just like my landlord wants

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gogyohka 12.01.09

I see my breath for the first time
smell the sidewalk drying
mixed with the heating oil truck
Apples rotting on the tree

Spraying the tiles
thinking about
which store sells
the cheapest bleach
I fell down in the bathtub

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gogyohka 11.30.09

If concrete giants
are skyscrapers
then is the sky
Needles inject clouds

A book improves
from staying open
for all to read
I look on the horizon
and see the titles of a thousand waiting hearts

The Mexicans just laughed
when he told them
he was American
"No, no, no--
We're Americans."

the future
never quite exists
there is only
what you're willing
to keep doing

The address
but I am always
writing this letter
to you

seventeeen pigeons settle
on the gray roof
of a Gulf station
November blue background
barreling past on a bus on 95

In a Connecticut harbor
the boats
are pressure wrapped
in white reflective plastic
"Turkeys," says Olivia

To stop war
we'll need to sew
far fewer flags
and many more quilts
I don't know if we will

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gogyohka 11.24.09

A gaggle
of teenagers
tromping up Spring Street
"You drive a Prius
You're not Jesus Christ!"

My past hangs
a chandelier
above my head
Want to shake it
and watch the dust glitter

Wisdom of a Mad Old Man

What of it?
Most just walk down the road
Ask for a glass of beer
We dare not say it

If you doubt your song
stand before the tree of birds
The silverstreak jay
catcalling the blues hum dove
The oboe duck

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gogyohka 11.22.09

in my family
has bathrobes
Born into a country
of freezing mornings

My past--
a chandelier
above my head
I'm reaching to shake it
to watch the dust glitter

Laying spread on the pillow
he is a stuffed animal
Real hair doesn't come
in galaxy orange
I want to pet it back to life

---Don't know about "pet" as verb for lien 5. Originally it was "stroke," but that seemed too sexual.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gogyohka 11.20.09

When giving a gift
I don't charge
but neither
do I ask
if you want it

We aren't caterpillars
we have many cocoons
not just mitzvahs, confirmation, quinceañeros
many passages to crawl out of
and emerge standing

no flower, me
the hypnotist orchid
or the nymph daisy
But a sucker bee falling in them
never dusting my legs

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gogyohka 11.18.09/11.19.09

we'll start with yesterday:

checked under the band-aid
after three days
finger gash already healed
Resolved never to fear
getting wounded in love

"White boy!"
"Hey, white boy!"
turning my head
"You look good today."
don't half believe it's me

Metro North Train going to Mahopac

Through the seats
a man recreases his Wall Street Journal
Raging red bullfrog flap
folding over the white collar
Another asleep in his glasses

Metro North Train coming back from Mahopac

head propped
against the window
under burning lights
Just me and some Mexicans
sneaking Coronas in the back

and now today:

there's a reason
they call them
a movement
gotta keep keep
keep on movin

it can be better
to be tired
less scared
just don't want
to be tired /of/

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gogyohka 11.17.09


the daffodils
the furthest
they've ever been

After watching
Dancing with the Stars
I get ready for bed
rip off my shirt
like a Latin dancer

Reason gets up early
to wind its clock
while feeling
sleeps in
dreaming of dancing past the metronome

The generations of men
crowded into a room
elbow to elbow
not knowing
whether to talk or listen

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gogyohka 11.16.09

Bending my breath
to capture the street smells
nail polish, leather, perfume over sweat and smoke
Leave mine with the pavement
hoping to be remembered

We are the answers
Our fingertips
finding each other
Ask me anything
I'll answer with your song

There are diseases
and YouTube
and all that--yadda yadda
But what's most contagious
is fire

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gogyohka 11.15.09

Ok, so I lied: I'm going to keep posting /everything/ here. This'll be my little gogyohka repository. But I'll also pluck a few out to put on the Junction. Plus you can read poems by many others there, so I hope you all will feel welcome to check it out. Enjoy all things!

All these leaves
and people walking on them
driven to go up or down
frontward or backward
Mysterious--still motion

If I want
to listen
I better learn
to whisper

chitter chatter
two middle aged lady butts in spandex
parked in front
so whizzing bikers go past me
and win my secret race

Fate's arms
can choke me
for all I care
Just don't let me die
in August

Today I'll wear
a lavender shirt
form fit to hug my handles
and face head on
all those who see me

We want
to solve
but no can tell me
where the birds went

tomorrow comes
different from today
but you can stare at the wall
all day
and not see a new picture

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gogyohka 11.14.09

When you set out
with sail raised high and proud
you pray the clinks
of metal against mast
are the whispers of wind

I hope everyone will visit and join Gogyohka Junction at (it takes two seconds). Many of my poems will begin only appearing there, in the Forum. Thank you for reading and enjoying.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gogyohka 11.13.09

when hurt
I look for Fault
hidden in the bushes of sadness
I just find her
making out with Blame

Money may not
be the root
of evil
but it's at the root
of many fears

ever wake up
and have
the day

The beauty of buddhism?
It'll change
Bad times won't last
Good times neither
Give up toys and boo-boos both

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gogyohka 11/12/09

Soldier's mom on camera
"How can they be safe?
They're at war--"
holds her eyes
"I can't do this..."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gogyohka 10.10.09

Poem posts
from Japan
arrive on my screen
every morning
like a basket of dreams

call us out
when we're afraid
to be ourselves
and love us when brave

drum circle
next to
a school for the deaf
students are dancing

the leaf carpet
has turned
the squirrels
into crashing giants
with thorhammer tails

A woman alone
skates a wide march
under the trees
smiles at the racket
she's kicked up

walk, if you want,
on the paved path
the garden provides
I'll be next to you
in the bumpy grass

Trees have pulled back
the hems of their gowns
to reveal
a wide naked view
all the way to cars

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gogyohka 11.9.09

riding the bike
no beggars
maddened screams just a blur
even ambulances a minor danger
only connected to air

brown heat stabs my head
through the branches
around the trunk
comes the mascaraed eye
the pause of a woodpecker

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gogyohka 11.6.09

When my landlord's not looking
I snip a few sprigs
of rosemary and sage
from his meticulous garden
Nothing's free from him

these days
looking down
when I walk
but just to see the leaves
brown and piled

three nights of rain and gusts
will take
the sweep of autumn leaves
out of the trees
and into its hands

Others believe you
when you believe what you say
Just make sure
it's not
the only thing you believe

two square heads
in a candy apple Ford
huddled in the cab
in front of the heater vents
while the tailpipe smokes

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gogyohka 11.5.09

every seat
on the train
is filled
except the one
next to mine

to say someone
has strong opinions
to have one

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gogyohka 11.4.09

The flame attracts
not for the brightness
or its warmth
It reminds me
of my own

in the market's bustle
"Oh, look--
just look over here
Cameo apples."
"Making a cameo appearance..."

From the broadcast booth
comes Joe Buck--
"4-1 Yankees"
and Tim McCarver--
"4-1 Matsui"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Goyohka 11.3.09

If only my vision
wrinkled like my face
to see the way
I am seen
I look fresh and new

The gourds hang
from the upside down V's
of dead vine-braids
An old heifer
wrung bag-dry

gotta admit
the first poems
may have been best
worried about green shoots
with feet littered by leaves

The windburned sun
catches the red licorice leaves
of the Japanese maple
Baby monkey fingers
curling for food

How are you
it means it

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gogyohka 11.2.09

Scenes from the NYC Marathon (11.1), specifically in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn:

Two eyes, yes
Two ears, sure,
right on--but remember:
One heart pumping out

Gospel choir singing so hard
in front
of the Baptist Church
even white boys on the avenue
have to smile

marrow jiggling
off the concrete
only mile 9
a marathon runner knows
the privacy of achievement

the women tapping in heels
the man lost in his tambourine
and the rising tide
of "I'm so Grateful!"
almost made a Baptist outta me

the wrinkly bald man sweating
the toned young lady
Alex who must be supported by guides
all the same to her
"Looking Good!! Need some Gatorade?"

And then what I wrote today, 11.2:

anger tempts me
into a booming chasm
I stare out at everyone
"You think I won't?"
"You think I won't?"

at dawn
in time's foggy meadow
I pluck a turkey feather
notch it in an arrow
and kill a fox

the shadow cast
by the crest
of a wave
right before it breaks

the obvious sun comes on bright
it shines in your window
but remember the geyser
spitting its boiling sulfuric source

days pass
the beavers inside
build dams
but my river will flow
mighty I will flow into you

comes not
from good fortune
but the absence
of ill will

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gogyohka 10.31.09

You can refresh
the prunes
in brandy
but the wrinkles still show
Grow plums

Walk proud and open
to notice the inchworm
and cloud shapes forming
light in your heart
Sum the total self

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gogyohka 10.30.09

I pretend
it doesn't matter
but I worry
about money
every day

The most profound person
doesn't ask
What is the meaning of life
but creates their meanings
and lives with them

"I got some change the other day
Six dollars sixty six cents."
The prophet on the subway
isn't moving to the next car
Her legs shift weight

Come on down to where I live
big brother, big sister
Talking about bright days
and brighter dawns
Just come on down

when you sit down
for the game
first ask
do I want to play
or do I want to win?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gogyohka 10.29.09

Booming from buildings
Booming from their lawns
Booming into the TV
afraid of silence
these babies getting old

300 million
wasting away
with "I do what I want"
the new diapers alone
enough to suffocate the rest

mushrooms wait
for the right conditions
to appear
but mushrooms
are always there

To all the teenagers:
Normal people
are people
you don't know
very well

Run from the sun
All you'll see
stretched out and lengthening
a shadow before you
blindness behind

Couple Revisions, with thanks to Peter the Fungus:

Moon is low
the windows open
Air wet and cold
blowing over my legs
Billie's still there singing

And this one which was, ga-duh, 6 lines the first time around:

Not even off the plane
Already know I'm back
"Saw them in 57--maybe 58?--with Mantle"
"I was a Dodgers fan, a /Brooklyn/ Dodgers fan"
"So, Joe, you ever been to Yankee Stadium?"

Lines are still kinda long at the end there--may need further attention...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gogyohka 10.28.09

"Ma'am?" She looks up
from a plastic bag tent city
"You forgot your cucumber."
"Oh--thanks!" Stands from the stroller
now empty. "Celeste...Celeste!"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gogyohka 10.27.09

can't tell
if the changing oaks
are camouflaging
the buildings
or the other way around

the web of humanity
extending out
and linking us
can also reach back
and choke

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gogyohka 10.26.09

her hair such a fiddlehead
neck into hollow body
that I only wonder
should I bow the strings
or pluck them?

so many faces behind words
dripping down
from the wax pooled up in burning
its intentions either
to play or win

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Everybody, Please Welcome Mont!

Mont is a Japanese Gogyohka poet and new friend I met through the Gogyohka International BBS ( We have since corresponded through email and he has been kind enough to post one of my Gogyohka on his newly created blog (you can find it in my "Good Others" list--it's called "The Lovely Earth").

Now I have the pleasure to present one of his Gogyohka and a photo he took:

When our cat
didn't come home
we made fish smoke hard
fanning it out of the window
pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter

(looks like puss made it back alright)

Gogyohka and Revisions 10.25.09

Ain't singin to tell you
of some trouble I had
This here blues
is just the story
of a good man gone bad

Apathy's coils tangle me
Where are we going?
Are we there yet?
Can't see my feet moving

Some fixes:

I carry the scars
from reaching for stars
that turned into bars
In the mirror
a robin fidgets on a wire

If generations
want to get along
with each other
one can't think it's better
April's better without snow

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gogyohka 10.24.09

on a couch older than me
my uncle's viking beard turns
His mother's ice cube eyes flash
as he shows off something fancy
"Not bad for a Mick from Brewah, eh?"

I see him counting before he stands
See his knees
still remembering morning basketball
I love you, Uncle
I love /you/

Even "cracker"
Nana sits fast in her chair
smiling and full

If generations
want to get along
with each other
one can't think it's better
because it's bigger

the dust settles
on his children's rooms
Grown past the game boys
and college sweatshirts
and twin beds

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gogyohka 10.23.09

Walking along
begging with my face
of the blackboys passing by
Can you make me feel something
other than fear?

Sour smell in the shower
A block into outside
it hit me--
the bile and Kraft parmesan obscenity
of ripe Gingko berries

Summer sun
same color as the last leaves
Sky lovely blue enough
for a polar bear
to drown in

Not even off the plane
Already know I'm back
"I saw them back in 1957--
58?--no, 57-with Mickey Mantle"
And walking home--"So, Joe,
you ever been to Yankee Stadium?"

***With heartthanks to Matt for the next two

used to think
Japanese were delicate
now I think
they're frozen orange juice

surprise in the mail--
1960 Times review of Gatsby
folded into the envelope
My fingers careful with fifty years
so the yellowed paper won't crack

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gogyohka from Maine 10.18-10-21

Just got back--

couldn't make it precious
and so couldn't teach
to keep it within even public walls
cast the net wider
wider still

almost November
and still
there are roses
still roses
wedding dress roses, pink, and white

Dad in the front seat
full of presents
of his gabby gift
watching his water wheel thumbs
twiddle and churn

so excited
about seeing us
and the hike
he fell over
his dog

the dog will mark
the tree stumps
all over the woods
but he only shits
on the vast lawn

a young boy
can sit in the woods
and understand
how every autumn sapling
will lose all its leaves

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gogyohka 10.16.09

two interlocking parts
moving in distinct directions
with an unthreaded stake
binding them together
everything needs a hingepost

catching a whiff
of the cats' spray
like walking past a wall
ripe with the Krylon sting
of drying graffiti

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gogyohka 10.15.09

Everything singing water
The rain popping
on the blue tarp
The slick shish of car tires
The kettle water turning into steam

two doors down
old man swindled
out of his house
child-sized Winnie the Pooh
face down on wet concrete

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gogyohka 10.14.09

Ah, vanity--
the girl across the train car
isn't checking you out
she's checking her hair
in the window

When I saw the peach
at the bottom
of the jar
I knew
I had to make it mine

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gogyohka 10.13.09

First, a revision:

Years and fate
shape the river's rocks
smooth or sharp
glinting or dull
Grand Canyon's got nothing but time

Cat and human
snuggling under the afghan
should I tell her
he just finished
humping it?

These are after seeing an exhibit at the Met's special exhibit on Robert Frank's /The Americans/.

The challenge:
things as they are
the man holding back his face
at the funeral
Humanity's pink juice

the mexican cowboy
leans over a jukebox
deep down the wooden floor
with the sunlight creeping up
past the blast in the doorwindows

these crosses beside the highway
seen them all my life
never stopped
to find a wash of light
eating their shadows

These are after looking at paintings in the Met after going to the special Robert Frank exhibit:

Picasso, how did you do it?
Every day woke up
cracked the eternity
out of your fingers
and painted mile-highs

struck awe-dumb
in front of wheat fields with cypresses
my fingers draw in close
to frantic caked on layers
of vicious wedding cake clouds

saw O'Keeffe in white marble
gaunt sanded cheeks
hawk's mouth
to pick all the bones
littered on pink flesh mountains

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gogyohka 10.11.09

Time shapes us
one way or another
smooth or sharp
brilliant or dull
Shows a river rock's ore

Walking to Ft. Greene's market
I spot the address
of friends since gone
I walk by, head down
dodging sidewalk cracks

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gogyohka 10.10.09

Why does everyone
doctors and patients alike
look sick and tired
in this hospital?
Must be the Taco Bell

Passing the playground
at the Orthodox school
Replaced by wood and thatch
and black Jewish hats
sitting with plastic cups

and maybe
folks have children
so they have someone
to make faces at
blooga blooga blooga

don't tell
the expectant mother
that October
is a month
of waning

black woman profile
round visor hat
knit in purple shades
teeth in her smile
breaking open a pomegranate

out of the gray sky
a magenta rose
on a single thorny vine
lipstick on concrete

different sounds
different size
different lives
on different days
hearts beat in harmony

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gogyohka 10.09.09

still can't
get over
the city sights buses
passing blue overhead
living seen

got the mail
two unsigned rejection slips
and one poetry book
from Japan
inscribed to me

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gogyohka 10.08.09

I like
the way
you say
biting into chocolate

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

10.07.09 Gogyohka and Gusty Haiku

I bet
I'm so hard
on my country
because I've never lived
anywhere else

under the puckered gingko berries
I catch the smell
of vomit
Autumn's rot

when his wife
points it out
it's, "Oh, yeah--the moon."
then the two of us walking:
"Look--at that fucking moon!"

Had a reading
Hardly anyone showed
But it was worth it
to step out the Libary's doors
and smell leaves on the concrete

My fingernails
will keep growing
after I'm dead
and decompose last
Initials in bark

Out on the sidewalks
sometimes I wonder
if this city
disapproves my joy with life
not tough enough

who will love
the man
with warts
all over
his face?

It ain't
It ain't

Crossing 14th Street
Hair blown in my face
Grinning stupidly

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Couple Revisions

From two recent ones:

My bike skids off the road
and I walk it
to the lakeside
to see four gray swans
sailing with the wind

Don't tell
the startling daylilies
it's October sun
they match
Backyard kittens forage

Gogyohka 10.6.09

I like the idea of writing anti-seasonal Gogyohka:

Out on the lake
what a sight!
Four gray swans
amid the mallards
sailing with the wind

Don't tell
the kite
it will soon
crash land
It's made to soar!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gogyohka 10.05.09

Don't tell
the startling daylilies
it's October sun
they match
or kittens foraging around their blooms

The best argument
often consists
of distraction
storytelling's balm
grandpa's bouncing knee

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gogyohka 10.03.09

Divided so much into choices
"Are you A or B?"
How nice to have a swivel spot
neither this nor that
but the other thing

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gogyohka 10.02.09

You can kill
the wolf
but you can't kill
fear of the wolf
inside you

if you live
you're killing something
so if you kill the Earth
where do you live?
and how?

I just want
to avoid
becoming a caricature
of my parents
There are worse things, kid

sleepless sinuses
garden hoses
kinked up
shoved inside
faucet taut

The tide came
It came late
But it came
always does
Gangbuster storm rain

Wild Poem

I'm not

Block out the sun
standing over a clover
if you want to feel complete
I'll take the redwood's shade
and unmade becoming

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gogyohka 10.01.09

Looking up
at the spray
of elm leaves--
They're floating yellow and green
on seafoam

On a crowded sidewalk
or taking a shower
and straddling
the narrow bathtub
I wish I was Japan-sized

I release
the voltage
of a battery full-up charged
Bring it New York!

Let me be
your bonfire
or jumped-in leaf pile
or your jellyfish
floating transparent

All the Chinese women
on the D train
are wearing knit caps
Wrapped huddled
against the poles

Felt so good
I rode the bus
all the way home
Took forever
But got to see everybody

My jean jacket's
cracked and stiff
like it hung
from a hook
in a stable

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gogyohka 9.29.09

A sweet potato
and the news
I can't pay attention!
Flush with the excitement
of a new acquaintance

You meet some people
and can feel
the strobe light
of their heart
flashing out fascination

and maybe intuition
is just guessing
the best in another
cynicism the error
of putting them on trial

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gogyohka 9.28.09

fills the space
in the place
we formerly forgot
connects us

John Muir at Mt. Rainier
to his wife back home:
"Didn't mean to climb it
but got excited--
and soon found myself on top"

and maybe listening
stands before
the shadows of people
that redefine "me"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gogyohka 9.27.09

Maybe another differently formed Gogyo-sonnet?

all these prisons
an office
your house
the screens
and self-trapped
because the first screen
projecting the iron lock
or a skeleton key
comes with you every day
mobile, building environments
from inside out
obscuring the projectionist's will

all these prisons
or a skeleton key
obscuring the projectionist's will
from unlocking anything

I never thought
I had the ability
to convince someone
life is worth living
Just half a dialogue

hard drinkin
up late
eyes burnt out bulbs
looking for reasons
in the fog

this cool
blowing rain
washing me clean
from the rot
of being sodden

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gogyohka 9.26.09

Loneliness in the Digital Age

in fashionable glasses
her crossed legs
perched like chopsticks
A woman reads Jane Eyre
and eats sushi alone

I no longer yearn
for the sheltered warmth
of mothers and hearths
I want to dance in the naked air
and answer the thunder

The sun came
in the window
low and level
to enlighten the smell
of a rotten tomato

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gogyohka 9.24.09

No use
crying over
a dammed river
but you know what?
I just might

spun around
throw the dart!
And again!
Magic bullseyes

Seeing yellow elm leaves
I can't help but think
of March sap
straining upward
to budge out a bud

The stem's flower
is a risk
Pouring resources into bloom
Standing out
to grow past itself

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gogyohka 9.23.09

Autumn got corked
in a bottle
and shaken
the bubbles just waiting
waiting to POP

the afternoon sun--
just low enough
to catch the steam
swirling up
from my pot of tea

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gogyohka 9.22.09

Apprehension appears
as the freight
of destiny's possibilities
Brickbats swinging
at a sandbag piñata

Stripped to rags
Cut out at the knees
Still convinced
that our blood
flows for love

What makes the loons sing
when the moon
shines on the water?
That high lonesome flutter
the echo of coyote's howl

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gogyohka 9.21.09

The world is built
for power
and tendering
Invested in neither?
Watch out!

Father sits on the train
His lids dozing
With sleep leaning all over him
and in his lap
The sway of a Sunday subway

Rattle the bones!
(the bones?)
Have a dance party
so even the marrow sings

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gogyohka 9.19.09

you don't
sing the blues
because they're in you
you sing the blues
to get them out

I fixed it:

The white teeth of subway tiles
have black marker cavities
"I ♥ Carlos"
And crossword down the stairs

Or maybe a simpler way?

Black marker reads
on white subway tiles
"I ♥ Carlos"
And crossword down the stairs

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gogyohka 9.18.09

What if a memory bank
really existed?
What would be taken out?
What would you deposit?
And what currency?

If time
is memory's currency
then does burning your stash
make you a warm, generous amnesiac
or just cackling alone?

Gather up
the first fallen leaves
and burn them
swirling in the first cool wind
See the crisp fast flames

Sitting in an armchair
in a suburb
in a warm house
with an alarm system
the TV tuned to wild bloodcries of sport

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gogyohka 9.16.09

Today in Union Square

I read Kill Punk Rock Stars
heard a choral group in green robes
and saw a cleric's collared man
shouting into a megaphone
next to a construction cone orange bike

Walking down the parkway
it hit me
The sun warm
on my legs and back
not my bald spot!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gogyohka 9.14.09

the calm dry salty air
and spritzy foam
of errant waves
hides the destruction
behind erosion's lullaby

The waves' lightspeckled ripples
look like a bowl of Jello
being carried by a boy
who just took a turn
playing pin the tail on the donkey

Warm puckering sea air
blowing through the sun
and across the sky stretched thin
carries the haunted sighs
of an Indian Summer

Out on the dock
the waves slapping at the rocks
you can look out
and remember
even New York won't last

The full spread leaves
of two fig trees
peek out from the wooden gate
their fruit still green
begging the sun one last time

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gogyohka Sonnet?

I've been thinking about the form of this for some time now, and when it finally took root with content and inspiration, it spun out into a slightly different shape. But that's science for you, I guess. In any event, I'm hoping to work with the idea of even lined poems with fives and threes buried within them (as in 3 linked five-line poems that add up to a thirteen-line stanza and 1 three-line stanza that add up to 16 lines), so that I can get odd lined Eastern poetry embedded into even lined Western poetry. It's hard to explain, and might be boring. Better to read:

Out on the vast sea
we need a boat
but the boat can spring a leak
What we really need
is a gauge
we can consult
from the inside out
Some internal navigation
that can't be soaked
something we can call
our own
out on the stormy crashing waves

Out on the vast sea
What we really need
Some internal navigation

The last three lines, ideally, are interchangeable. You can read them in any order and they make sense. I don't know how often I can do that, but I'd like to try and find out.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gogyohka 9.12.09

Seems like philanthropy
is being generous
only when you know
you'll be remembered
A petrified forest

I still remember
the sunburned crags
of Utah
Sloping sudden canyons
where the dinosaurs live

Friday, September 11, 2009

Two 9/11 Gogyohka

I wrote this a while back. Figured it made sense to share them now:

Washington Square Park

Under the arch
someone is playing a guitar
so people can sing
and cry
and remember that day

WTC hole in the ground ceremony

I listen to the names
the wandering drone
until I am overwhelmed
and can only hear
the rushing blood in my ears

Gogyohka 9.11.09

I figured out
what it means
to be a man
(at least in Japanese)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gogyohka 9.10.09

I write a word
to lose it
from memory
and feel the mysteries
all around renewed

just sit there
watch the 5PM world go by
taste the dry air of an early fallen leaf
it contains all the whys

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gogyohka 9.9.09

More from yesterday:

This gray day
reminds me
I am just
a sundial
overcast with clouds

Amid the licorice bloom
of fennel
and the musky crush
of dropped piles of pears
a few bumblebees visit roses

The husky, tobaccoed corn stalk
gestures like an elder statesman
arm bent in some grand purview
of all this fallow land
waiting to come under his tasseled top

I wonder
when exchanging emails
with Japanese friends
if they ever see the greeting "Hi"
and hear "Yes," too

And from today:

The meaning of life
is simply to accept life
The wave curls only to crash
broken into pieces
that recede back into the sea

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gogyohka 9.8.09

i was feeling
sort of blue
so i watched
the Price is Right
it didn't help

how can we
move on together
if you don't
remember me?
if you never knew?

I can make my peace with her
as long as I live on unforgotten
what haunts me still
is that she never knew me
to forget or remember

Whitman nourished his soul
with the bread of his mind
and saw his soul in all
so all would be nourished in turn
be with me now

my weakness
my soul
my loneliness
my love
I must decide

The sun of early autumn
sinks lower than ever
and I feel it
rises sooner too!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gogyohka 9.6.09

living for a dream
any dream
presupposes a single goal
and one finish line
reminds me too much of death

we prattle on
about growing up
about emerging from cocoons
but look at the cake, the candles
and add it up

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gogyohka 9.5.09

West Indian Day Children's Parade on St. John's Place, where I live

morning parade blast!
marching goose necked dancers
tail feathers, headdresses
organdy costumes the color of the equator
a child on stilts rests under a parasol

The movement of art
like so many brushstrokes
the eyelashes
of our imagination

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gogyohka 9.4.09

the first revelation may be birth
and the next time's passing
but after that
and maybe last
comes how to bear life

For the meaning of revelation is that what is revealed is
true, and must be borne.--James Baldwin, Another Country

This also was inspired by finishing Osamu Dazai's wrenching novel, The Setting Sun.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gogyohka 9.3.09

The creamy mellow slant
of light in a strange September--
Hydrangea blooms
next to the rosebuds
next to me looking both ways

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gogyohka 9.2.09

unlike the cosmos
Earth is not infinite
but how gross
if we think its lifespan
matches ours

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gogyohka 9.1.09

My luck has changed!
After hitting a pedestrian
on my bike
I got swiped by a car
Everyone's OK now

how strange
to hear my parents
tell me "I love you"
only after
they got divorced

Gogyohka bobsleds down the hill
First through slush
then ice, building speed
around a whooshing blind corner--
Zoom! Frozen stand on end hair!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gogyohka 8.31.09

it is strange
but sometimes
the bed
is emptier
with someone in it

the sky is gray
my face is gray
can't sleep any way
end of summer can't stay
wish it felt better to say

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gogyohka 8.30.09 and One of the more beautiful scenes Hemingway wrote

I don't shrink from pain
nor do I hide from joy
The mountain
is an open bowl
reflected in the lakewater

From "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," which is /still/ one of my favorite Hemingway short stories:

"You have youth, confidence, and a job," the older waiter said. "You have everything."

"And what do you lack?"

"Everything but work."

"You have everything I have."

"No. I have never had confidence and I am not young."

"Come on. Stop talking nonsense and lock up."

"I am of those who like to stay late at the café," the older waiter said. "With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night."

"I want to go home and into bed."

"We are of two different kinds," the older waiter said. He was now dressed to go home. "It is not only a question of youth and confidence although those things are very beautiful. Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the café."

"Hombre, there are bodegas open all night long."

"You do not understand. This is a clean and pleasant café. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves."

"Good night," said the younger waiter.

"Good night," the other said.


"A little cup," said the waiter.

The barman poured it for him.

"The light is very bright and pleasant but the bar is unpolished," the waiter said.

The barman looked at him but did not answer. It was too late at night for conversation.

"You want another copita?" the barman asked.

"No, thank you," said the waiter and went out. He disliked bars and bodegas. A clean, well-lighted café was a very different thing. Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gogyohka 8.29.09

In a fancy moment
I thought of going to Japan
and climbing Mt. Fuji
But getting there to see it live
will be nearly the same feat

Sometimes I catch a hint
of my first love's
cheap perfume--
the sappy Kmart rose
of teenage passion

Oh! Return, summer sun
if only for a moment
so the beautiful girls
will walk by
one more time

Biking in the rain pro?
Less foot traffic
Biking in the rain con?
When you swerve to miss someone
you slide and knock them down

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gogyohka 8.28.09

The Weather Lately

A water balloon
stretched and sweating
in the bright heat
A cool drenching comes

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gogyohka 8.27.09

the clean white tile subway stairs
background the black marker:
I (heart) Carlos
And diagonally down the side

Last night
I dreamed of harmonicas
of playing them up and down
like I knew
I was the tambourine man

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gogyohka 8.26.09

The sunflowers
in the children's garden
peer over the plants
like watchful parents
taking care

The sultry dripping scent
reveals to all the noses
the abundance of the roses
under the canopy of cicada sounds

on the rock wall
a cross-legged young mother
pinches the skin
above her eyebrow
and watches her baby sleep

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gogyohka 8.25.09

Olivia brings home
butterfly bush
and I recall
the glowing meadows
of June

Say what
you want
about New York
The chocolate
is /damn/ good

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gogyohka 8.24.09

The temperature drops
The heaving winds
blow the spider web
slung between the panes
like see-through clothes on a line

Echoes of the hurricane
make the sky a milky marigold
as sulfur blasts
in the clouds
battle with the sun

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gogyohka 8.22.09

The drifting boat
cannot forget
the anchor
nor the lighthouse
seekers can also be found

By the derelict beaver dam
a tree chewed to two pencils
standing tip to tip
so much waste
so much industry

and maybe
means only
lack of experience
wisdom's seedbed

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gogyohka 8.21.09

The knife sits an inch
behind the lobster''s eyes
and cuts its face in half
The tail seizes in my hand
I jump, dropping it

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gogyohka 8.20.09

Over 7th Avenue's buildings
the sky flashes lavender ozone--
A sideways strike of lightning
becomes a whip of thunder
Umbrellas already folding up

The canoe hits sand
and the hawk wheels away
In the rocks
we find a garter's bloody head
wounded by the next-t0-last predator

"I am with you"
Whitman's words make us all silkworms
knotted by shimmering secret threads
They sing of a myself
that is the space between stars

"You think they can't get it that way?"
My bike leans on the sign post
"They picked it up clean over one over there"
"Do you think--" "I don't know"
He shrugs and the bald head looks away

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gogyohka 8.18.09

My copies of Enta Kusakabe's magazine Gogyohka came in the mail today. He carried 9 of mine.

I open the magazine
in a fever
flipping through pages of Japanese
to find two in English
A grasshopper in a field of daisies.

The alarm sting of chiles
The pepper tongue of basil
The skunked out eggplant
The tastes
of summer's spiky spice

amid the buzz buzzing
in the Shakespeare garden
a single honeybee hangs dead
still clutching the nectar stem
that nourished her

Sometimes in Summer
when mischief sneaks up my spine
I want to grab a camera
and take pictures
of all the tourists

The question is not
whether to kill nature
how we might die
with dignity

a carpet
of dried pine needles
isn't a fan of passion
until you throw a handful
on a campfire

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gogyohka 8.17.09

Also, I fixed up a couple of the ones from yesterday's post. Sloppy!

"Coming about!" He hollers
The boom swings
The boat tips
I duck, lean, and--Whoops!
The life vest bobs up and down

I stepped into the canoe
to chase the baby loon
but I rushed
and drenched myself
and my poem book

My home state returns
in the sunburn on my nose
the scrapes on my wrist
the soreness in my shoulders
and the swelling in my breast

At a concrete construction site
a whiff of pine needles
mixed with tangy lakewater
came into sense
and fooled me back to Maine

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gogyohka From Maine and beyond, 8.7-8.16

Hi everyone,

I've been on vacation but now I'm back. Here are some goodies:

If being
leads to
finding reasons
then why not why not?

The loon's wetsuit head
dives sleek into the lake
and leaves gentle ripples
(barely a trace)
and me, wondering, is this home?

"What kind of place doesn't have ketchup?"
"Potatoes? On bagels?"
The beard and yarmulke dart, makes change
"It's for a friend" "Oh, forget it" "Have a good day"
"Here you go--Yes, can I help you?"

The kayak bobs and splashes
in the chop and stride
I sweat and lunge and rest
Now still--
The swirling water catches back in

I want a T-shirt
with the state of Maine
outlined on it
and "Home"
written below

We skim over the lilypads
and they tickle the canoe
with soft patter
like rain from the ground up

The hawk appears
The blue jays squall
with accidental warnings
I thought of Sarah squeezing the air
with her smoke alarm hands

Telling others
what they should do
often results
from not doing
what you want to do

To forget
is to be
about life

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gogyohka 8.6.09

In some seasons
even the burly bear
uses his bulldozer shoulders
that can crack a man's leg
to pick berries and grubs

When I was small
and my dad was big
I'd watch him stand in the doorway
rubbing his shoulders
back and forth like a bear

Technology leaps alone past the starter's gun
leaves the minds behind
leaves emotions
consciousness--all else
in the dust, straining to catch up

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gogyohka overload 8.5.09

Some are wise
and some are otherwise
They hear the owl say, who who
or why why
or the silence in their breath

and maybe
God /is/ love
and we ought to worship
at the shrine
of each other's hearts

and maybe to be afraid
is the most selfish act:
to forget that we love after cruelty
to remember only past pain
present only for inside-out pity

Coming over an Interstate pass
to see wide straight planted rows
astride a white-framed red barn
and two bullet steel silos
ready to be fired into the sky

truth's surprise opens a door
The antlered buck turns toward you
then away
The waving frills of August queen-anne's lace
blast skunky peppered carrot in your nose

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gogyohka 8.1.09

Stopped to watch the sun set over the highway
Instead saw the moon rise
over a gas station sign
over an employee embracing his love
under the soft rose-lavender sky

and maybe
I'll die in Mexico
Fold my arms over my chest
Watch the stick finger
skull puppets dance

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gogyohka 7.30.09

I like to watch the bees
dip into the chocolate middle
of a sunflower
Their furred bustle matches
the yellow petals in the wind

With all the disease
science tells us
every US honeybee
will be dead
by 2035

The apples have started
to show pink on the branches
Their blushing says more of summer
has passed
than awaits

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gogyohka 7.29.09

Everyhing in the City is Ammo

Half empty Coke can
sitting in the sun
He glides past, his eyes scan
Lifts, wheels, and WHAM
A truck window explodes with foam

I rush at the door
I beat at its wood!
I curse its lock
huddle and cry, alone
and start to hear

Monday, July 27, 2009

One More

There are six million people living in Brooklyn
not one
And if he keeps acting like that
he's going to meet them
real quick

Gogyohka 7.27.09

It's just cutting cabbage
but when the knifeblade reaches the end
closer to my thumb, slicing,
that narrow balance
becomes much more

Since her husband died
she holds the mottled hands
until they're still
Buys coffee early Sunday morning
Sits in the shade to see it steam

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gogyohka 7.26.09

From the phrase "not knowing is very intimate"

I am a student of the world
to awaken is to discover
to discover is to be alive
to breathe is to learn,
intimate with endless ignorance

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bob Dylan Nissa pt. 3

Bob Dylan performed after three other musicians whose performances I did not catch. The sky was just beginning to fade from the deep blue of dusk to the bruise colored, purple-black summer night sky.

The stage was not very crowded, so we—myself, my friend John, and my new friend Lucas—could stand fairly close to the stage. Soon the house lights grew dim and an announcer called Dylan and his band to the stage. He was wearing clothes that made him look like he was from another time—loose dusty gray pants with a broad white stripe down the side, and a massive straw gaucho hat whose top looked like a cake. He looked like a soldier just returned from a battle in the Mexican revolution.

Amid all the costume, however, what struck me most was how physically small he was. He seemed diminutive to me, hollow, drawn into his own faded wrinkled face. This was the first shadow I glimpsed that evening.

Two songs captured me deeply. The first was just past the midway point of the set, called “Workingmen’s Blues #2.” It is a nostalgic song but also an invigorating song, that is sung from the point of view of a laborer who is too old to fight for his rights, as he once did, against the owners of the factory where he works, even though those rights are beginning to become compromised again. He is talking to his son, or grandson, or nephew, and telling him that while he doesn’t have to fight, “you’re best on the front lines, singin a little bit of these workingman’s blues.”

Bob Dylan
played Workingmen’s Blues
and it hit me
My dad’s been out of work
for a year

Next the band played a boisterous number, “Highway 61 Revisited,” but then the lights become tobacco-colored and dim, as though being viewed through the haze of a smoke-filled saloon. The projection of the light came from a low place, and the figures of the band members and Dylan became much smaller than the shadows on the screen behind them. One musician was playing a fiddle, and as he moved the bow he looked like a marionette doll, like a puppet whose strings were being pulled by shadows. The song was “Aint Talkin’.” It is nearly eight minutes long, and the refrain is, “Ain’t Talkin/ Just walkin,” with two more lines he changes throughout the song. My favorite variant is, “Walkin’, with a toothache, in my heel.” For this song Dylan was playing the organ, and his solo sounded like a horse descending a spiral staircase from a deep valley into depths below. I could hear the hooves clank on the wrought iron of the steps, the awkward shuffling of the motion and the clink of the saddle as the horse’s rider struggled to stay mounted.

After the show was over and we had exited the stadium, I ate some cold leftovers ravenously and talked with my friends. We got back onto the highway around 11 PM, with me in the backseat. John was driving a Jeep with no doors (they had been stolen a few days ago) and the top down. My hair once we stopped was very tall on my head! But as the air whipped and tossed me at 70 mph in the dark sky, I thought of how the wind had gathered during that organ solo and riffled at the screen projecting the shadows. I leaned back and remembered how the gusts of Great Lake Erie’s wind made the stage look like a confrontation with natural forces. Dylan’s organ playing somehow seemed to charm it, to tame it into some sort of workable chaos, if only briefly. It felt as though he could hold the rain back by funneling it and everything else in the present moment of the atmosphere into his fingers and soul and the way he played.

And breathing deeply that wild quick air on the highway, I was interrupted by Lucas, who pointed back over my shoulder, and exclaimed, “Look!” There stood, almost at the horizon line, a large orange moon, the color of charcoal embers, burning low in the sky and half occluded by gray clouds, as though wrapped in smoke.

I pack my tipi
on my back
and just go
Talk all day
Up listening all night

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gogyohka 7.24.09

careless love
the humility of diving deep
choking on seaweed
to surface, gasping
and give the treasure away

Bob Dylan Nissa pt. 2

In many ways I don’t feel as though I have yet left Cleveland, and thus that I have not yet returned to Brooklyn. I cannot say just where I am, only three days after my flight back into New York. But walking north on Washington Avenue yesterday, in the Brooklyn neighborhood called Prospect Heights, I came down a hill. I had forgotten the view from this hill, how it overlooks just the tops of some of the skyscrapers of Manhattan’s skyline. The most prominent is the Chrysler building. It has a tapering graceful top with bright glints of rainbow-shaped metal (said to be made of chrome and steel from old Chrysler hubcaps!) sharply reflective in the sun. The summer sun was bright that day, so the metal stabbed at my eyes and I had to look away.

I tilted my head downward, to the level of the smaller warehouses and buildings in my sight’s foreground, and just over the drab tarred over cheap shingle, black and absorbing light, I saw a sudden group of pigeons in flight.

A wheel of pigeons
flashing against the blue
quartz flecks in sapphire
wheeling forward
then banking back in the breeze.

My thoughts were not yet still, not yet settled, from my latest airplane trip home. I had distracted myself on the flight with a wonderful conversation with a fellow passenger. But in distracting myself away from the transition between two places it felt as though I had forgotten to get back here to Brooklyn. Maybe it is only natural to have the place where you have been, its experiences, if they were powerful and moving (as mine were), fresh and lively in your mind as you look around and absorb new experiences in the familiar places of one’s home. I cannot say. I grew up a wanderer, my family lived many places, so “home” has always been in flux for me. I think perhaps this makes my home either very big or very small—

“Tell me the best part of New York.”
“The best part? To me?“
“Nobody belongs here.”
“Me too!”

Because my mind wanders in the sun and air and water, spinning forth through time, around and bending, trapezing itself in all directions, and because weather changes quickly, I would like to pause to tell of the amazing specter that is Bob Dylan, before the thunderclouds gather again.


The storm has still not come. Only a little rain. I watch my thoughts and sit outside in the spaced-out droplets. The songbirds belt out screeches and cheeps and swoop over my head, crashing the suspended wave of stillness that is the air. It is nearly feeding time for them—4 PM in Brooklyn; 5 AM the next day in Tokyo—and their song sounds almost peckish, hungry.

Trickling gray and swollen
this afternoon is God’s constipation
I move a leaf
and the snail
retracts in its shell

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bob Dylan Nissa

This is a few pages long, so I'm going to post one page at a time:

Letters from America


I feel as though I am writing a giant postcard with my soul stamped on the corner addressed to a place across an ocean I once lived near, when I lived in California. The Pacific in my memory is light blue-green, violent and crashing and full of awe. I often saw the sea over long concrete piers with massive wooden pylons stretching out nearly to an island thirty miles distant, named Catalina, and in the long orange shadow cast by the sun I would put my hand over my eyes and squint, trying to see farther.
But now I am back on the Atlantic coast of the United States, in its greatest, most confusing, beautiful, and dynamic city, New York. I write to you from Brooklyn, on the southwestern tip of Long Island, surrounded by the deep blue swirling currents of another ocean, filled this time with clams, mussels and stone crabs with dark bluish almost black claws. In the summer we also eat tuna and swordfish, and occasionally mahi-mahi. The greatest delights, though, may be the lobsters that are migrating up to the colder waters of the state of my birth, Maine.

Enta tells me that the English language is a great sea to him, and that English words are planks floating in the sea. He reaches for them as he writes to me, and some are good, sturdy boards, and keep him afloat. Others, unfortunately, are rotten and disintegrate in his clutching fingers, and he’s left with a mouthful of water and misunderstanding.

With all this driftwood
floating in the Pacific
it seems only natural
to assemble a bridge
with wet tools

I want to write of my experience of July 11th, 2009. On that Saturday the American musician Bob Dylan performed in Eastlake, Ohio, outside of Cleveland, at Classic Ball Park, a stadium for a minor league baseball team. That morning the clouds rolled in off the tree-lined shores of the Great Lake Erie, bringing magnificent buckets of rain suddenly and irrevocably. I was marooned under the canopy of a restaurant with my friends Liz and John for two hours as we waited for the downpour to let up. The sky was thick and gray. Just across from where I was standing a farmer’s market had been interrupted. Most of the stands packed up and left at first sight of rain, but one, an Amish family, stayed:

The wind whips at the white tent
turning land’s shelter
into a soaking ship’s sail
A bonneted woman
fusses her potato baskets

There was only a little thunder, but all the dogs I saw were crouched huddled low in fear of storms. I was afraid the rain would not stop, and the concert that evening would not happen. But, as now, in Brooklyn, looking out the window of my first floor apartment on St. John’s Place, the sky quickly shone blue and sun streamed in great sheeting rays to dry up the grass again. Today the weatherman told us that Brooklyn would get thunderstorms all afternoon, and gusts of wind. But we live on an island, and weather changes quickly. Just as the thunder never came full force in Cleveland, it has not quite arrived here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nissa 7.21.09

Hello--please find below an excerpt from my nissa (diary of a poet). This is a coda portion, a piece Enta will not be considering for potential publication. If you like it I will continue to post these, with the next one being a memory of my experience seeing Bob Dylan in concert in Eastlake, Ohio, at Classic Ball Park.


Last night Hideki Matsui hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, NY, NY, USA to defeat the Detroit Tigers. He came up with two outs, and with the score tied, so his home run was considered a “walk-off.” The players all swarmed around him and one, a pitcher, smeared a cream pie in his face, so that Matsui had to give an interview with the radio broadcaster covered in custard and whipped cream. The radio broadcaster yelled when he hit the home run, and called it “another Thrilla from Godzilla!!” He said Matsui hit the ball halfway to Japan.

This morning I woke up full of doubts, to an air full of rain. I decided to walk to the Botanic Garden, just as I did, with Olivia in my arm, in early May for sakura matsuri and, ultimately, to hear Enta Kusakabe speak. On the way to the garden on my walk I saw a gingko tree, on New York Avenue, one block from where I live. For the first time this year there were berries on it. I smiled and thought of Matsui’s home run, and thought, “the American baseball from his Mizuna bat has returned.”

I kept on walking, and arrived at the Brooklyn Botanic Graden, which is free admission every Tuesday. Usually Tuesdays are very crowded as a result, but the rain kept everyone away, and I was free to wander the garden alone. In the deep wet green leaves I was drawn to a path I nearly never follow: it is the “native flora” section. On this path I was struck by many beautiful huge trees—hickory, elm, oak, a beech tree whose enormous shining smooth gray bark looked like the skin of a hippopotamus—but what arrested me in my strolling was a small, shrubby tree. It had small prickly bulbs hanging from its branches, and it looked familiar. I saw the sign identifying it. It read: “Ohio Buckeye.” It is a special tree native to Ohio, USA. It is related to the chestnut, which is what those hanging prickly bulbs are a form of. I smiled and thought again of Matsui’s hit baseball. I thought of the currents on the Pacific Ocean blowing it back from Japan.

As I was leaving the Garden I saw a lace-cap hydrangea. The past month and a half has seen Brooklyn have its own version of a rainy season, though much cooler than what I imagine it is like in Japan during the real rainy season there. All the moisture has led the hydrangeas to thrive, and some species in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which formerly have not bloomed are in full force. I had never seen a lace-cap hydrangea before. It was wide and a soft blue color, and it, too, arrested my exit from the garden. I smiled and thought, how like a baseball glove it looks. And I realized it would be good for catching the Matsui’s homerun baseball that has come boomeranging back this morning after being struck last night, in the form of new gingko berries and Ohio buckeyes.

It doesn’t matter
what’s inside the package
or what form it takes
(berry, buckeye, or baseball)
as long as it is wrapped well.

So I present to you, wrapped in my doubtful, stumbling English words, Japan’s poetic gift of Gogyohka back to those who created and write it.

Gogyohka 7.22.09

If we
do not
pick up
the trash
Who will?

Everything is perfect
Everything is horrid
But what about empty?
New moon nights have fireflies
and noon suns still cast shadows

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gogyohka 7.21.09

I scrounged a couple scraggles out of my notebook. For now please enjoy these. Tomorrow I will share portions from my nissa.

Matsuo Basho!
William Shakespeare!
Robert Frost!

Gogyohka's inner eyes
look out
to see what
those looking back at me
are seeing

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gogyohka 7.20.09

I may also post my first Cleveland nissa (poetic diary) soon. I've sent it off to Enta for consideration in his magazine, but I dunno what that means for the English version w/r/t copyright. Hafta ask first. In the menatime:

his inside growth
follows the example
of the crab, snake, or pigeon
(a beard, new shoes, bowtie, or bald)
change by molting

and maybe
I will disappear
bobble my juggled life
pick up someplace invisible

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gogyohka 7.18.09

I am not
like others
Because I want
to be others
Branch, trunk, and root

The moon is low
The windows open
The air wet and cold
blowing over my legs on the couch
Billie's still there singing

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gogyohka 7.17.09

With much love to Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone...

I need some sugar
in my bowl (ain't foolin)
Gimme a little sugar
in my bowl--shake mama
to the other side

With no love to Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity, Keith Olbermann, Tucker Carlson, Brian Williams, Wolf in tailored gray suits Blitzer, Ground Chuck Gibson, Katie Couric, Bill O'Reilly, Jon Stewart, and the rest of the flat-faced escape artists...

On the street
black and white
don't look at each other
At home Obama's on TV
and each see themselves

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some Edits

I'm not a real good reviser, but I'm working on it. Please tell me what you think.

Man on First taking Third on a Single to Right

Helmet down and pumping
he slides head first.
The wet dirt skittles
and smells like horses racing--
his eyes squint for the call.

His talk spins in tornadoes
picking up the Taj Mahal
scraps of metal
and junk from dumpsters
Anything but stop signs

I carry the scars
from reaching for stars
that turned into bars.
In front of me over my shoulder
the robin fidgets on a wire.

are often uncertain
but never wrong.
Even spiders sometimes hunt
dangled past their webs.

Goyohka 7.16.09

Across from me
her pinky curls
around a penstroke
looping scribbles on a pad.
I hope it's about me.

She will help him
love himself
He will help her
love herself
Peanut butter and Jelly

And maybe wealth
pricks itself
on the needles of desire
Maybe to feel rich
is to feel needless

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gogyohka 7.15.09

I wonder
if being an insomniac
and not being a morning person
are the same thing--
dark from light out of dark.

A moutain
of numbers
crunch crunch
climb climb

I pack my tipi
on my back
and just go
talk all day
up listening all night

The further
you go
the more
you see
the similarities

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gogyohka 7.14.09

His bathtub
is full of dirt
He'd rather grow
than clean,
dark green ferns

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gogyohka 7.11.09

bright warm sun
makes me dance
cool gray rain
lets me nap
in clouds I write

my socks
who cares?

I love
a fresh donut
that warm pillow
sprinkled with sugar
so it powders the air.

His bathtub
is full of dirt
He'd rather grow
than clean,
dark green ferns

And then one borrowed, with adjusted line breaks, from TS Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

In a minute
there is time
For decisions and revisions
which a minute
will reverse.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gogyohka 7.9.09

are often uncertain
but never wrong.
Even spiders sometimes hunt
dangled past their webs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gogyohka 7.8.09

On a bike, on a road

Whizzing past children's squeals
driveway wife on the phone
cut grass, skunks--
dog walker nods good morning.
Full summer bloom.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gogyohka 7.7.09

Man on First taking Third on a Single to Right

He slides in head first--
the wet gravel skittles
and smells like horses racing;
his head up, the glove clutches,
the ump's straight arms--Safe!

Gogyohka 7.6.09

Two people I have always known, with the first one in two versions (you pick the best):

His talk spins in tornadoes
picking up the Taj Mahal
scraps of metal
and junk from dumpsters
Anything but stop signs

I strain to listen
over his deep well
not knowing
if my shouts are heard
or just echoes come back.

Gogyohka 7.4.09

Looking in a bathroom mirror:

I carry the scars
from reaching for stars
that turned into bars.
In front of me over my shoulder
the robin fidgets on a wire.

Gogyohka 7.5.09

Fireworks burst and pound my ears
and Sousa's marches ring out,
all colors at once in the night.
Smoke rises to the stadium lights
and the huge scoreboard reads: INDIANS.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gogyohka 7.3.09

The ocean wave of goodbye:

Her arm hooks tight
around his neck
under the exit sign,
her eyes pinched shut past his face--
her shoulders unflex.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gogoyhka 7.2.09

we cry
once the leaves fall
that's when we see best
through the branches

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gogyohka 6.30.09

What moves you most?
The poem
with the ghost prints:
The poet's hands
most moved by masters.

Every week
he sends me pictures
of what grows up
from the seeds we planted
in the garden together.

All Dylan's songs
are protest songs
and Basho
never ain't wrote
no death poem.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gogyohka 6.29.09

A prayer for clearer weather:

If a raindrop
is the world
then right now
we are storm clouds
in a rainy season.

Inspired by Emily Dickinson's "The Brain--is Wider than the Sky--" and the idea of Buddhism to make the mind the sky.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gogyohka 6.28.09

Love songs
say these two
forever things:
"My man, won't you stay?"
"My girl, won't you lay?"

Mont posted this one:

About 100 Japanese
kill themselves everyday.
It has been continuing for 11 years.
Japanse society
has become abnormal.


So I posted this one:

Samurai suicides
were from honor.
Today's suicides
are from loneliness.
Both alienate Self from self.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gogyohka 6.27.09

The photographs
of stars living
la dolce vita
don't interest her;
she wants to be one of them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gogyohka 6.26.09

to survive
means learning
how to forget.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gogyohka 6/25/09

The corn tassels
blowing softly
in the wind of the Plains
grow higher
on the bones of the buffalo.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gogyohka 6/24/09

In Tehran
they are dying
for my same ideals.
I wish I had more to offer
than the swelling of my heart.

I once saw
a field of fireflies
thousands upon thousands
blinking on and off
and thought, "Yes! My mind!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gogyohka 6.23.09

When you're young
it's I know, I know!
then I don't know...
then I think so, maybe, to me--
once old you just say it.

Getting to the moon
should provide perspective.
But I wonder
If it wasn't the moment
we lost sight of ourselves.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gogyohka 6/22/09

A silly one:

They call him
a fly ball pitcher.
I call him
a home run pitcher,
or a bum.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gogyohka 6/21/09

If you can't
reach your well
or think
it's run dry--
I'll give you my bucket.

The New World:
If you are Eastern,
it is east of you;
if Western, west of you--
curved around to nowhere.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More from 6/19/09

I wake up
and fight all day
against the night
I wish I didn't
But it was taught.

When I tell people
what they should do
I'm telling people
what I'm not doing.

This one's courtesy of Bo Diddely:

you accuse
take a look
at yourself

are the
same fear

I want to ask
my country:
Why must everyone
else be wrong
before we're right?

Gogyohka 6/19/09

The antibiotics
take hold
and I clench my teeth
until my jaw hurts--
my mind is carbonated

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gogyohka 6/17/09

I wish there was time
for everyone
for their wisdom, joy,
sorrow, uncertainty and love.
I want to sing their song.

is the moment
the camera's beep
and the flash.

is the buildings
is the bricks

He says
he doesn't know
how to dance.
I think he just likes
dancing in darkness.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gogyohka 6.16.09

John said he liked to think the speaker of this first one was moss:

whenever I think
on my death
I wonder if I’m dwelling
because I like
to live in shadows

The statue says
all we want
is freedom from want.
All we got
was freedom to want.

I read
Ginsberg’s Kaddish
to them
until the sun went down.
We sat in darkness.

We gave him a camera
in Adair, Iowa
and said show us your life.
We never saw him again
until pictures came in the mail.

A dream
of a life
without machines
is as dangerous
as an American dream.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gogyohka 6/15/09

You can't
beat me
can too
Oh yeah?
hence, skyscrapers

A virtual life
where only
dwells next to online
lies in the neighborhood
of virtually dead

Many in my country
live on GPS headsets
in their cars.
They are innocent
and they are lost.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gogyohka 6.14.09

Possa wrote this one:

You could live on
without Car, TV, PC,
though, so humbly
so unworldly
and so cynically

And then I wrote these three in rapid succession:

I wonder at the reggae DJ
who lives next door.
I wonder about the connection
between his giant speakers
and concrete backyard.

China has bought the Hummer.
Now China will drive fast
into the wind,
dripping with nectar.
China's cheeks are fat and red.

Sweeping the back walkway
I unearth a worm.
It stabs and slides
and I repack it with dirt.
My nature is to undo my nature.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gogyohka! Now with mini-rant! (6/12/09)

This air!
It's a damp towel
impossible to dry.
It turns the honeysuckle
into honey.

The Japanese gogyohka writer Mont wrote this one,

The essence of the universe
is repetition.
But all the same one
is nowhere in a universe.
Tomorrow is always all new.

Which I really liked, and so wrote this one,

Nothing belongs
to anyone
We all
just capture
cosmic expressions.

Which /he/ really liked, so he wrote this one,

we just borrow
from the earth
from the universe
from the Creator
if you exist.


Also, I like Paul Newman's cookies, the ones called Ginger O's. However, they list their flavor as "ginger and créme." Now, ok, I know they're marketing to the young and presumed sophisticated, but, really, "créme"? You're gonna do that? With the accent? Créme.

Having said that, it didn't stop from eating five today. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gogyohka 6/11/09

You can
go to the doctor
but only
you can
fight the disease

the hour
their death

The blues isn't
in the words.
The blues isn't
in the strings.
It's in your song.

Whenever I describe
New York
I immediately
want to say
the opposite

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Goyohka 6/10/09

I have the exuberance
of youth
and the wisdom
of experience
It's all I know

The shad tree
the wind
and smells like semen.
Oh! Fecund Spring!

We are all travelers
in this country
playing Twister
with other lands:
A pretzel of a culture.

If you want
to travel
to foreign places
go to New York
and walk eight blocks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gogyohka 6/8/09

I love you dearly
But you are
full of pity,
pills, and promises.

you are
you're going.

Human nature
is wonderful.
The question remains:
To wonder why
or wonder at?

Gogyohka is
a ledge
on a window
on your thirtieth floor

are a dull idea
But the Rockies!
They are majestic
and we are generous

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Gogyohka 6/7/09

march in
as yesterdays
costumed in
today's newspapers.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gogyohka 6/6/09

To Didi I say:
Being alive
is first about
trusting yourself
to be awake.

"I am the
smartest person
I know," he said.
Then he ran into
the bathroom and puked.

The sunflower seedlings
from winter dressers
gathered from crowns
of dead November stalks.
It goes on.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gogyohka 6/4/09

A burst!

if you want
to go higher
you have
to go deep

My dream
is of sixty
daisy petals
surrounding the sun
dripping with dew.

If you kiss
my lips
hold my face
or my head
might fall off.

What's left to learn
can be measured
by how much more
each talks
than listens.

And two by ripple, the first of which popped up in response to the last one above:

We have
a mouth and
a pair of ears
So listen twice as much
as you talk

I can tell
by the heaviness
of my head
that it would rain
before long

That last one's for Sienna.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gogyohka 6/3/09

I know
you know
how to see
but what are
you looking at?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gogyohka 6/2/09

The hammer head
is for nailing
and the hammer tail
is for prying--but
it didn't build the wall.

When the rain stops
and the rose withers
and steams its Cadillac
car petals down--I know
summer in Brooklyn.

Masters will make
the future, as
poets shape dreams
to be surprised
out of Prophecy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gogyohka 5/27/09

Divorce makes
people out
of parents
and adults out
of children.

The row of
lilies behind
the gate
like locked
away sunshine

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gogyohka 5.26.09


Monday, May 25, 2009

Goygyohka 5/25/09

Silent and still
on a mountain trail
Crash! Two black bears
romp past and around
The leaves flash

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goyohka 5/21/09

No matter
their origin
has to chase
the traincar.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gogyohka 5.20.09

40 years old,
and still thinks
he can keep the
playthings on the other
side of the fence.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gogyohka 5/19/09

Gogyohka poetry!
I'm a child
in a sky
full of ribbons
Chasing the wind

Somewhere between
peace and war
there is something:
The rock, the smooth
lake, the plop!
The ripples at the edge.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gogyohka 5/18/09

I met Enta Kusakabe and Elizabeth Phaire today for a late lunch/early dinner and wrote these two on the subway on the way home:

This man
This man this
man. Who is
this Enta Kusakabe?
This man.

Guilt's claws
poke holes
through the
paper masks
of the past.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gogyohka 5/12, 13, and 14

The lines are getting too long, but i don't have time just now to clean them up and compress them.

The loungers in the square
the soft new-to-sun legs
and rippling cleaved mounds
The purple thistle's burst
stalks itself straight up

In New York neither the couples
nor the scowling old Boricua
leave their bench-spots
"Oh my God! It's not like
we're having /sex/!"

On a South Carolina river
in mellow strolling heat
the Creole band's slung
drummer leans shaded, bobbing
a cigarette and flailing brushes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gogyohka 5.9.09, 5.10, 5.11

She waters plants and piles
books, loves her children,
collects and keeps things alive--
smiles looking away:
My dad's new lady.

At one house, the cupboard
is full of tea!
All sealed in glass bottles.
In the other, only a few
bags sit in a basket--her favorites.

To drive through St. Louis
passing over muddy water
while passing under
the shiny arch
is to break the sky's egg open.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gogyohka 5.7.09, 5.08.09, and 5.9.09

I've been out of town (still am) so these are a little jet-lagged.

Landing in Charlotte
the Sun parts mellow clouds
in crystal shards
to shine on red dirt mountains,
tractors, waving grass, and me.

Visiting family
Wii time, TV, internet
going out every meal
No time
for each other's gifts

Three rose branches
one baked bare
one half a teabag,
half sun setting deep gold
The last dripping clover honey

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Middle Child

Almost done--took a while, but I'm starting to get happy with it.


It was a day at the end of April,
“Supposed to shoot up, near to ninety-two”
She said, her fan held still, her parasol
Open to catch the raining rays. “I heard,
And it might just be rumor,” the fan starts
Again, “I heard the record’s ninety-one.”
And shook her head almost around full turn,
As if to tell her, too, somehow, something
About how records scratch after they break.

“I was the youngest, so I never cared
for records—making them or breaking them.”
She wiped her brow. “Are you the youngest girl?”
(She was, but not the youngest of them all,
And guessing at the meaning, shook her head.)
“No,” and again, “No. I’m the middle child.”
And the across became an up and down—
Agreement? Comprehension? She stood still,
In the tight heat, and then, uncertainly,
As if that, that not knowing (or the sun?)
Made her legs engines, gave her fuel, she shrugged
And walked away. (She marched, to be more accurate,
Since accuracy is the rage these days.)

Alone again, her midday wanderings
Strayed off from sidewalks, strayed from pavement grooves,
And gazed into a stand of daffodils,
The perfect upswing rows of yellow cones,
Upended bells unrung; she gazed a long
Time, thought of that other between figure,
Or figurant, Narcissus, stooping down
On banks, or tidelines, marshy grass.
She thought of his eyes next, a pair of two
And both were looking for a rainbow bridge,
A light and sturdy transom strong enough
For body and image and that starboat
Of beauty, vanity (some call it pride)
Alike, a bridge to hold it all (an ark—
to be precise, but how can arks hold boats,
especially boats made of stars? How’s that?)
But, failing water-light, or arks, he drowned.

So too would these sun worshippers, in joy,
If they could, merging with what they reflect
And consummating color, name, and shape
Alike, at once recombinant, unselfed
(The blind man told him, he whose death feeds them,
“You stay alive as long as self’s unknown.”)
As they bent up and stretched before her eyes
In tip-toe straightlines, ruffled ends a crown,
The trumpets heralding and strident blast,
And narrowing the tube, the March windshield,
And out to petals. Here she noted on some
The extra bred-in ruffles, adorned
As to spread out the bell, open it wide—
Even the decorative, adored first bloom
Gives way to its own beauty ruse, she thought,
And, laughing, plucked one of them, to cup the weight
Of the selected for, of extra, trait,
And watched the rigid rows maintain their bask
As if to drench themselves until full drunk
In this, this chance to honor their Sun-God.

She sniffed and closed her eyes, and like a wish
The sky went gray, the billowed cloud shapes swarmed
Their deity and masked it, and let loose
Into the blooms turned buckets fat raindrops.
They splashed and pelted petals, and tested
The wishes of the congregants to drown
With tastes of rain to fill the flowers’ frames
(And she knew, wet herself, God had two names.
Of this, suddenly, she was now sure:
To punish and to give away were acts
Receiving letters at the same address.)
But she thought of the woman’s parasol
And laughed to wonder if its gossamer held.


It was about the first of May, and hot
Again, a little hotter than last time,
Some said. (She couldn’t say herself. She lost
Her parasol meteorologist
to sun-stroke’s calm.) Without the record scratch
she became more than middle; she became
lost. Doubly so, without measurement
or relationship, so she sought both
at once in her old haunt, the organized
display of botany, the sense arranged
in knowns, in pocketed themes, in placard facts.

She knew where, just where, she would go, first thing—
And, eager, nearly passed by the hillside,
Its bunches of drooped scallion shoots disguised
As scrubby ground, as cover, the stand gone
Despite the bright and blinding glow of light
The daffys honored through resemblance to
(Instead of family, become beloved).
But where had her beloveds gone? She asked,
And in the sizzling heat she saw shade stalks
That days ago had been ripe, butter-hued,
Hang shriveled as if on flypaper.
“I saw them flooded just the other day.”
(But when exactly she had no one to say.)
“And now. Now look!” She cried up to the sky.
Still soggy looking, sagging so, and shrunk
Down to half-size at least, a scorched bouquet.
“You look just like wet cats, the bunch of you!”

The daffys, though addressed, were still bare.
She pressed her cheeks in with her hands, her lips
Gave out a fish’s O. Not knowing why,
She shook her head until it would fall off
If not for triggering a thought. She turned
And let her cheeks go slack, gave her eyes room
And saw the visitors: the elderly
Smooth wrinkles out with bloom, and to her left
The mothers push their strollers, padding past
In brisk short sneakered strides. One of the old
Zipped up his windbreaker and muttered through,
Another spotted her, tipped his pageboy cap.
No one got her attention. No. Not one.

She was far gone by then, bent low over
A peony, a lone bud blushing past
In lavender plush nests. She groped and gasped,
“It’s not right. It’s just not.” She sputtered on
Past tulips, past their prime, thick waxy drips
Of red, or gold, the petals dripping down
In lazy candlewax streams. “Insect wings.”
Growing impatient, confirmation close—
Begonias? Check. Full blown, and early so.
The cherries, lilacs’ scent—all these belonged—
But this? She thought, beholding a wide blank
Of white, the mortarboards and tasseled tops
Of light green puff that signified dogwood.

She huffed, disturbed, and her reward showed up
As riot flames—the burst bloodlines in rows.
“Azaleas.” Said between question and cry.
The names came flooding through: rhododendron,
Blue bells. “Not cannas?!” Halfway peering out,
Afraid the whole thing would come tumbling down
At once—what if? She puzzled in her brow
What if at once? Like an instant message
Of some kind (right on the brink, cusping close).

She marched in broad daylight between the trees,
Appropriately pink flushed cherry trees,
Without seeing herself alone, the rest
Aside in shade and fanning, huddled close
Or posing, all tongues foreign to her
As she considered now. Now. Everything
Packed tight into a now, and here; if so
She must be here for it, here now (the sun
Is beating on her temples, sweat’s beads come).

For with this now so big, so suddenly
Apparently at once, it flipped itself
Over to near otherwise, too (wisdom’s
Sometime dancemate, the shadowboxed other):
It meant a big now must (at once) be small,
Be short, and quickly passing—and she thought
Of an eclipse, its now moment stuffed tight
And rare, and missed often (at least by her).

She thought of schedules of how to ensure
Next year she’d get in closer, here for more
(for a small now always has room for more)
And worried she wouldn’t adapt her time
So when the party came she’s have to check
The box that read “unable to attend.”

She fretted right over the stone arched bridge
A single humped piece—missed the cool water
Below, the stream flow dribbling old rain past
And just about tripped headlong exiting:
The fountain’s rim unleveled ground enough
To catch her back to earth, and sheets of drops,
A curtain drawn in shade around a duck.