Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tweeting and Dishwater Hands

I feel I am being stretched too thin by my blog, my Red Room blog, my Wisefire page, Facebook, Twitter and the ongoing promotion of my book. I feel stretched out into the ether and take my therapy in gardening and nature walks.

Except for my blog, I've been hornswaggled into these other platforms by people, like my publisher, who insisted they were invaluable in ongoing publicity on the web. I've even been tweeting a poem or two on Twitter line by line. Who reads it I don't know. I do know I have very little time to read all the stuff that comes my way and still have a life in the real world. Net overload? But what else would I do with my time? Plenty, I suppose. Yet this carnival of digital souls is a wonder and presages a new world, an even smaller world, where if you want, I suppose, you can know the kind of underwear Britney has chosen immediately afterwards.

I confess that when I read our local paper, The Press Democrat of Sonoma, I often glance first at the celebrity page on the inside of the front cover. Many of the celebrities I've never heard of, which bespeaks my age, but news about others comfort me like weather reports. And then there's always the downfall of the mighty which we all secretly wish.

The question is, how much does this exhalation into the ether affect your personality? No doubt it leads to a form of cybernarcissism, where our thoughts and deeds are magnified by the easy utility of web platforms. Obama used this with great aplomb, but he had 100 monkeys typing to do it, or more.

The age of the sound bite has now produced tweeting, the new path to notoriety. Who will be the champion tweeter? Who cares? Can you imagine "Blogging with the Stars?" Or "Tweeting with the Rolling Stones? Smart, current marketing people urge a web presence, and I had an article written about me ten years ago entitled, "A Presence on the Net."

Has my presence increased? Actually, since stopping The Melic Review in 2006, my presence has decreased, as I am no longer an editor at large whom writers aim to please. Now I am just like any other poet submitting to journals, with no special powers. Ending Melic when I did seemed right, but I wish I had the team to resurrect it. It's all about finding a literary webmaster, no small ticket.

To be fair, I did transition to blogging, though a little late, yet my highest average readership has been around 60. If I don't post frequently it naturally drops.

Friday I'll announce the winners of the poetry contest. If there are any laggers who still want to submit, send your best poem to cechaffin at gmail dot com. The winners will receive a signed hardback copy of "Unexpected Light," a book you simply must have if you've been a reader of this blog. It has many poems where I deal with the demon of depression that I blogged about here two years running.

My wife gave me a great gift the other day: If I would wash the dishes nightly, she would take over the finances. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have that burden off of my back. I have been awful at it, as I'm sure my credit score would reflect, but you can't be good at everything. In fact, I have a neurosis about money. It always seemed to make my family of origin unhappy.

God has always provided for me and my family and I thank him for it. Given my level of poor budgeting and living hand-to-mouth, it surely is a miracle to have such a burden lifted for the first time in my adult life. A helpmate indeed! Easily worth my dishwater hands.

Kiloneutral but a little anxious,


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Contest Deadline Extended; New Review!

It's come to my attention that although I extended the contest deadline until April 30 that I had only mentioned it at facebook and not here.

Again, to win a hardback copy of "Unexpected Light," send one poem, preferably your best, published or unpublished with "Contest" in the subject line to:

cechaffin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Also there's a new review in A Capella Zoo, short and sweet but insightful, here's the link:

Unexpected Light

Our garden has started to take off and so far one Delphinium was stripped by the deer but I inspected it and the root system was healthy and then I noticed three shoots coming up so I re-planted it. Score: Deer 1, Gardener 1. Also I spread iron pellets last night as I had noticed that a marigold was savaged by a banana slug. This morning I found him dead by the blackberry bramble. I think the marigold in question is still viable. Score: Banana Slug 1, Gardener 1.

Of course the two greatest sins of gardening are overwatering and overfeeding. And the three rules of gardening are: location, location, location. Is it the same with people? The old saw advises, "Bloom where you're planted." But doesn't it help immensely to have the right location, the right family, the right school, the right geography and the right encouragement? I'm so happy in Mendocino that I call it home after three years and hope to live another twenty here in the same rental. Now wouldn't that be a stunt for a peripatetic guy like myself?

Yes, I continue to labor to write a poem a day, skipping a few days, here's today's, a love poem:

Now You Have

On the porch with the Mendocino-blue ocean
before us, Icelandic poppies and apricot twist
and lavender striving towards summer,
I long for you. Beside you in the car
I long for you, even as I hold you in your sleep.
When you must be away I busy myself
while your magnet draws the iron filings of my adoration.
It's not like you were queen—no, that's partly it—
you are my worry stone, my Celtic rose,
my dolmen and my Grail.

Again I notice your legs, creamy and muscular,
your breasts beneath the halter top,
your ass wrapped in black canvas shorts,
but above all your soft face telling me,
“You don't have to do the laundry today, let's spend it together.”
That's where I'd rather be than anywhere,
whether your coronation or me reading
these few lines at Carnegie Hall. I know the same
obtains for you. Each morning we repeat,
“Have I told you today that I love you?”
And the refrain, “Now you have.”

I think for the rest of the month I'll write love poems only. If you were to peruse my book you would see a whole section of love poems at the end, why the book is subtitled, "Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008."

Not much more to report except that I remain rather fearful vis a vis all the mail and paperwork piled up on my desk; I don't think of winning the lottery, rather missing some arcane payment that will land me in poverty again. This attitude goes back to my days as a poor married student. Here is another poem on that very subject:

My Inheritance

I didn't grow up poor
but I fear poverty just like my parents,
who lived through the Depression.
Mom hoarded rubber bands from
throwaway papers and after Dad died,
re-used dental floss.

When Dad was doing well, financially,
he super-glued a loose tooth to his bridge
rather than pay a dentist. He was so proud
until the tooth turned black.
"You gotta make a buck," he'd say.

Mom sampled mystery foods
from Tupperware containers
left in the fridge for weeks.
She couldn't bear to throw a thing out.
"Never marry a woman who cuts
the twine on packages,"she'd say,
winding another orbit around her ball.

After his goods were stolen
and children murdered, Job said,
"What I greatly feared has come upon me".
What my parents feared never did.
Instead fear drove them to plenty
though they were always poor, like me.

(published in Poetry Superhighway)

I wish there were some cure for this neurosis, and when it works, faith is the key. Nevertheless, even if I were rich I think I'd be subject to the same anxiety as it's so deeply inbred. Rockefeller was once asked how much he'd need to feel comfortable: "Just another million," he answered.

I should mention that my shrink, after listening to me tell him that my book wasn't sellling as fast as I'd hoped, said: "I hope you weren't expecting to make money off of a book of poetry. That would call into question your reality testing." Yes, exactly! But hope springs eternal unless you have a foam bed. Ka-Ching!

Thine at 1 kilobunny,


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I see now that it's been over a week since my last post, which was only a poem from my poem-a-day discipline during National Poetry Month. I suppose the struggle to come up with a poem daily has superseded my natural return to my blog. And I have so much to report. But I don't know where to start.

First, I have my second reading coming up April 24 at the Mendocino Gallery Bookshop at 6:30 PM. Readings sometimes fill me with trepidation because I don't know how the poems will come across, and I am surprised at the intensity with which they hit me after I read them. I think it was Fellini who said, "All art is autobiographical," and when you read a finished poem out loud to an audience, memory strikes. I know when I have an audience in my hand because it becomes deathly still as everyone concentrates on the next word--ah the pressure, the pressure!

Most fun is attending a reading by a poet with whose work you are familiar. Then you can sort of coast and enjoy your favorites in context.

My middle daughter, Keturah, at 29-yr.-old high school biology teacher, is visiting us this week for the first time in our new domicile with the ocean view. She's relaxing over her spring break, and we've been hiking all over the place, most memorably the Fern Creek Trail Loop at Russian Gulch. We are so spoiled in Mendocino to have so many beautiful places close at hand. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, truly, though the economy here makes it difficult for many.

A lot of homeless adventurers pass through the coast this time of year, many of them Rasta adherents. I never get over the signs, however, that say "Help feed my dog." Why subject a dog to starvation in your travels if you can't feed yourself? The best sign I've seen was a young woman who proclaimed, "Need feminine hygiene products." I'm sure she did, but the thought of contribution was not alluring, however necessary.

In my poem-a-day discipline I have no idea of what quality the poems will eventually assume, as they are all essentially drafts. But here are two new ones, the first a free verse sonnet (a welcome oxymoron):

Praising the Dead

It is easy to praise the dead, to count their deeds
Intentional, heroic. Retrospect
Polishes the blackest silver bright.
Yet to have witnessed them sweating, unstable
How would it feed our need for Shangri La?
We don't want truth, we want legend and myth
As if our ancestors knew what they did
Stumbling through rain with the gift, a coal of fire.
And when they coaxed it in those filthy caves,
We dream of adoration and consensus
Against the yellow eyes that riddled night.
The longer dead, the easier to praise
When almost all were doing what they had
To do and nothing more. God bless the few.

Easter 2009

I've always felt it less than deferential to the Jews
that on our holiest day we crucify a ham with cloves.

Do I need a chocolate Jesus? Do I want a chocolate Jesus?
Dark chocolate for Good Friday, white chocolate for Easter?

And would I bite his head off as with bunnies,
or start with his wounded feet--
they would be wounded, wouldn't they, for realism?

I don't know realism. That's only Hollywood.
But a chocolate Virgin in blue and white foil?
Hail Mary, Mother of sweetness!

To devour her on Easter, yes,
how chocolate, like love, increases its intensity
with each bite, the last propels the next
past need, past any other desiring
until the body shakes with guilt or pleasure.
A woman's love is beyond human measure.

The idea of a chocolate Jesus came to me while driving back home with my daughter from the Oakland airport. I thought it was funny but did not think it would turn into a poem.

Moodwise I experienced quite a dip with smoking cessation on April 1, though I've been using the nicotine patches liberally. Still the patches don't raise your nicotine level to what cigarettes have accustomed you to. And the fight goes on. I'll always be a smoker at a deep level but I want to achieve the consciousness of a non-smoker at another level.

I had my Martin acoustic guitar set up by a local luthier so that now it plays much more easily under the aegis of my disabled left hand (disabled since last year's motorcycle accident). The neurologist tells me that nerves grow one millimeter a day, which means the connection from my spinal cord to my hand will take some three years to recover, but I think to myself that it's better than surgery. I always told patients to avoid surgery if possible; it does violence to the body and recovery is always slower than one expects. Having major surgery is like going through a car crash.

From all my bumps and bruises and major accidents in my life, I sometimes wake (as I did this morning) with generalized pain from my feet to my neck. Aging is not for pussies. The older we get, the more the pain-pleasure principle leans towards pain avoidance. But there's no avoiding pain in my case, just enduring it with the meds my doctor has me on. The lure of painlessness, however, makes me long to smoke opium, something I've never tried and likely never will, because a temporary absence of bodily pain only yields greater pain when it wears off. This is the conundrum of short-acting narcotics--the landing is rocky afterwards.

My new book of poems has now had six reviews, and I'll list the links below. I am hopeful that a groundswell of publicity may eventually increase sales, but selling poetry in America is a slow business, especially on the net, where playing on poetry boards breeds familiarity, and yes, familiarity can breed contempt. "Why should I buy his book? I just critiqued a poem of his I didn't like." Or so I imagine. One friend even wrote me to explain he just couldn't squeeze the cost of the book into his budget, what with the mortgage on his home and retirement property, and despite the fact that he and his wife are both employed. He obviously felt guilty but did I need a financial statement to tell me he was just too cheap and disinterested? LOL!

Of what value, then, is a book of poetry? Of inestimable value when the poet speaks to your heart, though many may miss it and make you less eager to purchase a new volume by a relatively obscure author like myself. At least on facebook I haven't asked anyone to be a fan!

And what is it with all these networking platforms? Twitter must be the ultimate vicarious living, getting updates all the time on your mobile communication device, knowing what the faux celebrity had for breakfast, yada. Isn't it time we started living our own lives? Or will our culture settle for faux lives?

Glad I got that off my chest.

Here are the links to all the current reviews of my book:

Hobble Creek Review

Rose and Thorn


Loch Raven Review

Centrifugal Eye (pg. 71)


All for today. Enjoy the spring!

Barely Kiloneutral,


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poem for Day 8 of National Poetry Month

A bit dense and disturbing, but I'm still recovering from the dream poem, #7, already posted:

Remedies for Diffusion


When my mind is splintering
I need not to be alone.

Identity's fractionation:
Who will squeeze my arm?

Funhouse mirror, receding view.
Aren't they all thinking of me?

This sickness is unto death,
this sensation of me in distant pieces offered,
when my body hair wakes with air
and I lift toward heaven,
how any part may or may not
cohere, as likely to spin out as orbit in.


Is it presumptuous to assume unity from personality,
say from a gladhanding televangelist hawking soap
who feels good about himself with no disunity
between motive and action, money and gospel,
who feels himself one self and not an act
unless it be an act his real self endorses?

Compare this with the redwood shattered
into a million matchsticks, the lost parasols
of a dandelion's head.

Perhaps the primary difference between him and me
is that I can be diffused into a hundred-piece symphony
and he is like a saxophone playing one note at a time,
whole and wholly sequential.

But how does he learn to take for granted
the unity so necessary for every function?
A unity as a mental patient I am forced to fuss about?


I digress. What helps? Concentrating
on my typing in the moment of composition,
I attain the identity of an archer fish
shooting a mosquito down by parallax
or the sunyata of the tarantula hawk's orange wings
flapping above its body bent in stinging--
these images concentrate quite wonderfully,
though this comment, “wonderfully,”
again divides me from my self, being an admission
that normally I am not concentrated--
but it's hard to hang on to this, surely
there is also a time for being dispersed
like pollen in a meadow without thought.

I had some mixed medical news as well, which left me feeling particularly mortal. And so it goes.

1 Kilorat,


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

4 More Poems for National Poetry Month

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:

Day 4

After Gardening

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.

Day 5

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,
don't bother.

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?

Day 6

Ars Thusia

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?

Day 7

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:

Feel better?

The last poem about the dream really scared me. I hate when that happens.

At Kiloneutral,


Friday, April 03, 2009

Here's today's poem:

Another Definition

Two Stellar's jays perched
beside the blackberry bramble,
black Mohawks shining
above metallic blue feathers,
Mendocino-blue ocean behind.
Such beauty wed
to such an irritating squawk --

Like a beautiful woman
with a high nasal pitch
and a strong Bronx accent
who won't stop talking
until her defects collect in your mind
and you are forced into
another definition of beauty.

I know the stanzas lack verbs to make them complete sentences, but hey, poetic license. But surely both men and women know the phenomenon of which I speak, where the outward beauty of a person transfixes you until they open their mouth, whereupon the pitch or accent or absence of any substance slowly deflates your initial impression until you wish they were just a silent Playboy doll.

Real beauty is often not symmetric; think of Ingrid Bergman's nose or Meryl Streep's face, women I consider beauties, or how everything about Sophia Loren's face is too big--nose, ears, lips, eyes--but the whole leaves you with such a wonderful impression. Pretty faces are a dime a dozen; true beauty includes character. In fact, until someone reaches their mid to late thirties, can beauty even be intuited without character? I suppose so.

Back to Meryl Streep. Or Glenn Close. Angelina Jolie is sultry but is she beautiful? Besides her pumped-up lips, she has nice features--but she does not strike me as beautiful, or handsome, or even pretty--more sexy, alluring, even a little wicked.

I was once considered good-looking in my pre-pubertal days; in second grade ten girls even held me down, struggling, so Loretta could kiss me. But after puberty my looks went, somehow--all our features get larger as adults, and it's the premature bags under my eyes that really did me in. Besides, my face (except for character) is so terribly average, as this picture will show:

This in turn reminds me of a poem that has not been published, maybe never will be, but as it is virtually my only self-portrait I post it here:


See mine, in the window there,
beard quilled in white?
Above, a vast forehead like a desert
as if the skull were pushing through?
Right, a scar from cops' batons
extends my eyebrow, and my mustache
is split by a brass knuckle's kiss.
The right eye's green, the left is blue
with crow's feet spread out
like shatter-proof glass shattered,
then all the luggage below, harvest
of late nights drinking.

Nose, flat and aboriginal,
strong even teeth but yellowed
by smoke and coffee, wide smile,
full lips upcurling at the corners.
Laugh lines outnumber other furrows
though puzzlement grooves much.
Not a rich man's face, it lacks
a certain earthly satisfaction
I hope is free of envy.


The poor you have with you always,
the rich man can't help but rub it in,
his mere existence fathers envy
which powers ambition
which feeds achievement
which seeks comparisons
which breed dissatisfaction,
giving birth to envy.

It's not the thorn against the rose
but both against the deer;
the deer make them equals
and the sun, confederates.


On and on the human engine runs
toward the swimming pool
purchased on credit
from a second mortgage,
toward the notion
that having all
might cure not having all.
On we fly like wasps
disturbed by a lawnmower,
no furies needed
but our lusts.

The ouroboros of desire,
lugubriously predictable.

How much is that Buddha in the window?

Again I would remind you of this month's contest: send your best poem, published or unpublished, to cechaffin at gmail dot com for a chance to win one of two signed hardback copies of my new book, pictured above.

3 days off cigarettes and I made a mistake today. I had been saving a fine Onyx cigar for the occasion of my quitting cigarettes, but smoking it this morning on the porch while reading William McNeil's "World History" only inflamed my desire for tobacco, duh. If I had a terminal illness I would take up smoking again, truly. As I prefer the best hand-rolling tobacco, on April 1 the taxes on it went up astronomically by $5 a pound. Packs of cigarettes will now exceed $6 in California; as I recall, New York is even worse. But what can you do if you're an addict? Quit, pay the price, or make contact with smugglers from Mexico where cigarettes are still under $2 a pack.

Some of you may remember when I posted my long poem, "The Deprivathon," here. It was all about quitting but I managed to start again. Here's a link to the page where the poem appears entire for any interested. It is not my best work, though inspired (pun intended) in places. In fact, here's one movement from it:


I saw the spirit of fire,
in her coronet of coals
dancing in a leaf skirt
of golden brown,
her incendiary thighs

burning burning burning

Before her only God breathed fire.
Afterwards came dragons,
venomous snakes and toads.
Finally man's penis swelled
and woman's labia grew
bloody-purple, pink and wet.

I heard Tobaccohontas speak:

"I burn for you, Brave.
Do not forget your love.
Cleave me with your tomahawk,
undo the seam so lightly stitched by nature
or my own nails will ream it,
drive your spear into the ravenous slit
beneath the golden curls of my mons,
pound me as a bear ruts a sow in a ditch
littered with acorns and salmon bones.
My mouths have swallowed
the seed of many warriors, come."

Ah, Tobaccohontas,
I once fingered your moist fragrance
in blue pouches of Drum tobacco.
Your scent still calls to me
from the tent of the elders
with their pipe of bone and feathers
but moderation is beyond me.
I must devour and be devoured.
Hear me now:

My lava grows hard in your ocean.
Your undersea cleft shapes me.
My tip breaks off like a coal in your wet purse.
I shudder, deflate and die.
You are the siren of my death.
I stub you out in ashtrays
as if they were vampire coffins
through which to pound my filter.
Now I can only inhale
the memory of your forbidden pleasure
and cast its usage toward some future
beyond obsession. Forgive me
Princess; you were the best.

Now I've certainly given you enough to read for one day. The key to quitting smoking, I've discovered, is not to smoke no matter what. And if you do stumble and bum one, get right back on the horse--don't globalize and say, "Oh, I've started again." No, that is what your unconscious wishes through its chemical addiction. Reason tells us that we can quit again and again and again and if we quit enough the moments shall be sewn together and formed into a pleasant curve as in the Calculus.

At 1 Kilobunny (though feeling a little edgy despite the nicotine patch),


Thursday, April 02, 2009

New Review; 2 New Poems

A new review of "Unexpected Light" (the fifth!) has just appeared in Eclectica. Have a look.

I've now got thirty songs up on Soundclick. Have a listen and report back.

I'm writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month, however bad. Here are the first two for April 1 and 2nd:



I want a hand-rolled cigarette,
only the best tobacco--
I am not an amateur.
I have been at this a long time.

Brown-gold leaf
rolled in sweet rice paper
warm rush inhaled
from a thousand thousand fires
our ancestors kindled
announcing mastery
to predator and prey,
carried by coals
from cave to cave.

Blast of nicotine
brain to attention,
galvanometers will tell you
what you already know:
this drug will juice you
this drug will goose you
there's no excuse, you
Your mustache reeks of it.
You've stained your teeth with it.
Your gums recede from it.

This magic smoke
will stiffen your bronchi
and petrify the air sacs
into fibrosed honeycombs.
Then there's the cough, hack,
mucus, wheeze, blow, cough,
hack cycle, searching for butts
in the sand of the theater tray,
freezing your ass off at night
'cause nobody gets to smoke inside.

Let me go, Tobacco,
from the valley of my addiction
to the mount of holiness
from the pit of my damaged will
to the city of willingness.
Make me transparent as water,
let no cell go unturned,
untwist the mutated DNA
in my distant bronchioles,
say halt to plaque in coronaries, too.

I'll burn sage in my doorway
to the departed spirits of fire
from a thousand thousand fires
once carried as coals
all in homage, desperate homage
to the fiery rootlets you have lodged
deep in my mind's pre-history.


Not Taxidermy

Who has shut the fortress
of my mouth and trashed
the drawbridge of my tongue?
Whence my silence?
I was a poet once,
words spilled out of me
like coins from a slot machine.
I'd collect them in rolls
organized by topic and flair
and call it poetry.
Now the machine won't spit
a silver metaphor,
much less a copper one.

I once calculated
how much I'd earned
by writing poetry.
It came to pennies an hour,
pennies an hour.
The minimum wage
in California is $8.
I should have mopped
McDonald's floors
or stuffed burritos at Del Taco.

But all of this is false collage,
pastel paper on wet cardboard.
You know the real reason:
It's a disease, this scribbling,
Gypsy dance of fingers,
a mania for exploring attics,
for squeezing fruit until unrecognizable,
give me a young mind to mold
and I'll squeeze all the juice out of it
and drink it up as a transfusion
for my poor enervated muse.

Beware, old poets can be parasites.
They want the glory of the disease,
not the stolid echo of past publications
hanging like dried roses
around a stuffed horse's head.
Stuffed horses, yes, what Roy Rogers
had done to Trigger, there's a feat
for any taxidermist to admire.
They want the real horse,
the one out to stud,
not for the glue farm.

This pieces are rough drafts and not to be mistaken for considered, polished pieces.

I have neglected this blog of late. Perhaps new poems will keep me posting.

1 Kilobunny,


Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!