Aw this is terrible--I'm four days behind in posting my daily poem for National Poetry Month, though I have kept up with the writing elsewhere. So without further ado, and in order, the poems of April 4 to April 7 below:
Young Sinatra's on the CD.
I can't think of a contrast more extreme
than his silky tenor and the rude jays.
“One for my baby and one more for the road.”
I play the music low because my love is deaf.
That way she can catch my sound
to go with my moving lips
when I sing along for her.
Last night we spooned with my hand on her mons
and I swelled and craved
yet when I flexed my knees
my legs cramped and awkwardly
(with hand in place)
I had to stretch, moving the dog
off the bed. You can guess
what didn't happen.
Of Book Trees
Do not pick a green book,
the print is faint
and there's often no ending.
They also lack that smell of organic
paper and glue and fail
to develop the proper musk.
Paperbacks mature more quickly
but are usually known cultivars
and lack the vigor of hybrids
that hardbacks display.
Still, where the soil is poor
or shade diminishes
the literary vigor of the tree,
occasionally a masterpiece
may appear. These are usually
grafted onto hardback stock
as soon as possible.
Beware a brown book,
usually overwritten or overripe,
stultifying reams of overexplanation
and overelaboration as in how many paradoxes
can fit on the head of a heading.
But you might find Henry James there
or the critical prose of Eliot,
so a discriminating taste
in aged books should be cultivated;
not all the fruit is too dry
for the tongue and eye.
A red book should be picked immediately.
Bright red has the genius of youth,
crimson the wisdom of age.
Size has little to do with taste,
though perhaps more filling
as in Tolstoy vs. Kundera.
Shakespeare and Dante and Homer
come in gold and are common,
having been cultivated for centuries.
The Bible is black but remember,
licorice is bitter then sweet--
like the scroll Jeremiah ate.
Poetry trees are rare
and do best in high desert climates.
The value of the desert
cannot be overemphasized.
Overwatering these trees
may lead to self-indulgence
and plush soil yields verse
like overstuffed Victorian chairs
and you find yourself
wading through syrup
for a kernel of nutrition.
Planted in unforgiving soil,
these trees take care of themselves or not.
Most die before they fruit, it's true,
but the few who flourish are prized
beyond all other books and seldom go stale.
No other books take so long to mature
just like the cone of a Bristlecone pine.
For sheer volume (pun intended)
pulp trees have no peer and can produce
more fruit than any other
though as in a Chinese meal
you may be hungry afterwards.
They are easy and fun to grow
and truth be told, everyone likes them.
The rules for nonfiction trees are simple:
lots of room and lots of light.
Space them too close together
and they share the same opinion.
Allow for too much shade
and the research isn't up to par.
It takes a gift to raise trees for children.
The fruit is magical and monitored by the FDA
for obvious reasons. To farm successfully
you must begin with the concept
of no tree at all, then imagine a tree
as if you were a tree yourself.
If you can't understand these preparations,
Reference trees are orderly as beech forests,
their tall smooth boles spaced widely,
an air of gravity in the light
that floods the oblong leaves.
Silence and history walk there.
And look! There is my book
about survival in the desert--
yes, a book of poetry.
But is it ripe?
If I could get every pound of flesh,
the whole whale's heart of blubbering humanity
out there on the operating table,
If every swallow in my cortex were crucified
on the windshield, if every cardinal bled brightly
under the lights, the heron choking on an oximeter,
If all my words were compressed from a superfluity
of glottal tides into one book, one slim text
beneath the latex gloves in open dissection,
If all you hear or could not hear were wrapped
in synthetic grape leaves the color of lemon
as an antiseptic precaution before the exploratory,
And if the world came to witness the miracle
of emergence, this pecking at the dragon shell of art
from both sides until black accordion wings
Unfold and fire forks forth, then would it have been worth it,
would it have been worth it all, without the vinegar or gall
to offer up our organs in a dying fall?
Dream of the Ex-
Last night I dreamed of my ex-wife
of 20 years ago again, the Queen of Chaos,
obese articulator of logorrhea, spokeswoman
for all that is tangential, forgettable, spewing
cheap chocolates from the Whitman's Sampler
of her mind's crowded trailer park, her laugh
like a donkey 's bray sometimes followed by a snort.
Before the C-section and third child
she had big tits and a nice ass and sex was good,
you know, physically, but afterwards she took to fat
quite naturally, sure as she made our new car smell
of french-fries when I warned her not to let the kids eat in it.
“But they were hungry!” she'd say, as if that made
ketchup on velor excusable.
In the dream I tried to reach my second daughter
but the ex- kept telling me the phone won't work
unless I registered my credit card somehow,
she couldn't explain it, then she could never
explain anything. Meanwhile I kept dialing
while something about jeans in addition to alimony
rattled out, and the plumbing, and Jeopardy--
she could talk to a wall, she could talk to a rock,
lack of sentience was no bar to her apostrophes.
Five bedrooms she had now, a brand new rental
before the coming spaghetti stains, wall gouges,
roaches, ants, weevils and clean and unclean wash
in one pile: the pyramid of mystery clothes.
As a doctor I had lots of time, of course,
to do my own wash, which I did.
These dreams where I splinter with nowhere
to hang the hat of my being, being dispersed
like pollen while the familiar but frightening tractor
flays the furrows of silence with its noise
and constant upheavals as in no dead air time on this station
of a constantly narrated life like hers--
Clearly I never worked through the damage
instead ran like Joseph, sundering time
and place from memory where I quarantined
the contagion of a house where nothing was ever
in the same place twice, where you couldn't walk
barefoot for fear of sticky quantums, leading
to a basic mistrust of carpet and other phobias.
We were good at sex but it wasn't worth the price
if 20 years later I wake up anxious and lost--
Though I did up my medications.
If you muddled through all those rough drafts you deserve a medal, so here:
The last poem about the dream really scared me. I hate when that happens.