30 September 2004

napo #34 -- Grover

after "Ikwe Ishpiming" by Linda LeGarde Grover in Sister Nations:

A Million Pieces

From a car bomb, pungent smoke
moils and capers across the street,
veils babies succouring dolls.
Martyrs ignore the lives of infants,
ignite their fuses, pantomime creeds
that fragment mobs, sacrifice brothers.
In a bus a market they carpenter crowds
with sacks of nails, they prayerfully die
with faith to guide them, Allah, Jehovah,
one deity, a thousand names
invoked to bless impure acts.
Yes, we confess, we repent, forgive us
O Jesu, Kali, Buddha, Satan.
Now wailing sirens conspire at aid
but no rescue. No house of faith
rocks the cradle of peace, peace,
better to live in holy war.

and after "Mites" by Nick Flynn:


spangles our forearms
like gems, with each press

we express it out, it coats our lats
& pectoral
swell. How to add weights in such

heat, how to raise the bar
without risking our heart’s arrest? All
is strain—the lights at

max, more reps

then more again—achieving the sharpest
outline, eagle-wing
deltoids, pineapple biceps,

& quad
planks like oak trees—wine-bottle calves

& abdomen, gritted steel.

29 September 2004

napo #33 -- Jose Luis Borges

after "el espejo" by Jose Luis Borges:

The Mirror

Barely morning, the sea glazed like milk,
clouds scissored by a celestial wind
and my face invisible behind plate glass,
a cameo ghost when I flick on the lamp,
absent, present, me gazing at me.
The dawn of blood erupts. The black barge
creeps along the coastline, ferrying fruit
to Oahu, farther out the tourists on their cruise
while glowing charred logs stack the horizon,
leave smoking shadows on the cold ocean.
Dawn reminds me to walk to the sink and wash,
pat cold wakeups on my cheeks, discover,
in the dim gray mirror, my blank face—
as amazed as the blue sky robed in scarlet.

28 September 2004

napo #32 -- Jorie Graham

after "Act III, SC. 2" by Jorie Graham from Dream of the Unified Field:

What If We Had Lunch

Oh no she said paying for a woman
is not what you want to do—She felt how he pulled
away, tried not to. And why
must he say this to her? Who else

can know? She wants to say she suffers
loneliness—but is hers like his—
would she buy love? How can she comfort,
what does it mean to be a friend

these days? He’s talked about his wife, his daughter,
she knows, or she thinks she knows, he loves them.
Yet here they are, two people at a conference,

spending the hours between here and there, hither and yon,
And he’s lonely, might buy a whore.
She’s his friend from work. What are they saying?

27 September 2004

napo #31 -- Jack Kerouac

after a haiku by Jack Kerouac:

Egg-hunting daddy mongoose
dragging a steel trap
doesn’t stop to eat the bait

26 September 2004

napo #30 -- David Ignatow

after "Two" by David Ignatow:


Ant currents flow with a ferocity of will I can’t fathom.
Neither the currents nor the will seem mindful
of this resolute purpose to ferry eggs,
moving the colony from here to there.
The destination seems better, even though the route,
the new-made nest, is islanded with poison baits I’ve strung
in hopes they'll dock at sweetly tainted moorings.

25 September 2004

napo #29 -- Stephen Dobyns

after "Let's Take a Break" by Stephen Dobyns from Common Carnage:


Nowadays in bed, I lie watching moon
in clouds or stars against sky. Often
I’m up walking to the doorway or window. Too often
I’m damp with sweat. Always, Diamond Head

looks back: green by day, black by night, the crater—
millenia since volcanic activity, no military
use today, a hollow briar-filled bowl for hikers
rock collectors, historians. Diamond Head

in glory blew ashes, super-saturated rock
vaporizing: tuff flying, far too hot to flow lava,
hot lava ran down cooler cones.

Now it’s a view. Now folks like me wake and gaze at city light
while tame cats wail on foundation walls and at sunrise
doves tilt on lanai rails singing: Whoo-ee, whoo-ee.

24 September 2004

napo #28 -- Claribel Alegria

after "Me Gusta elaborar mis pensamientos" by Clarice Alegria:

Me gusta emancipar
mis sensaciones

Me gusta emancipar
mis sensaciones
me las desvesto en campo
las acaricio
para me acercarlas
y mirarlas desatascarse
contra mi corazon.

I like to liberate
my feelings

I like to liberate
my feelings
peel them off me in open air
caress them
spin them close to me
and watch them unravel
against my heart.

alternate translation into Spanish by a native speaker:

Me gusta emancipar
mis sentimientos
quitarmelos al aire libre
revolverlos junto a mi
y mirarlos deshilacharse
contra mi corazon.

23 September 2004

napo #27 -- Marie Howe

after "The Dream" by Marie Howe from What the Living Do:

Living the Day


Mike’s pace on the deck is light and slow and sure.
The planks shine. I see a leak, he said. He’ll have to fix it.

Things break everywhere in the house.
All those missing screws and lost nails! And now

the screen door doesn’t latch. A dog barks from next door.
I’d move away, but it only gets worse, is what

my neighbor said, creaking floorboards, rotting sills.
We’re here now. And the wreckage helps to ground us.

Mike’s pace steady from one day to the next:
the world is a place where ruination follows creation.

Sometimes the rusty nailheads show through the old paint,
but the yellow color looks good on the wall—that’s

how we age, right? There’s another crack.


The cat’s sprawl on the deck is curved and tailed and poised.
The birds trill. She peers and sniffs, eyes wide. She’s Sly Hunter now.

Days pass in rainfall and sunshine.
All those lizards swollen and hot! And now

she traps one with soft paw. A parrot caws hello.
She’ll catch lizards, but she rarely eats them, is what

I often say, lying whitely, to myself.
She sleeps next to me. And lizard breath is not sugary.

The cat’s sprawl ignores the world’s burdens:
the fate of humans in search of superior destiny.

Sometimes the rainfall dampens and thickens her coat,
then she runs under the house, a tree, a rock—that’s

what a cat does. Chooses her next spot.

who . . . . . . . . . are you

Self on Stage

People think they know you
because they read your work
your poems
they postulate truth from the personas you assume
one morning before breakfast
one evening after two glasses of wine
when the truth is not even you know
much more than what burbles out
stimulated by a moment
an image
yon startling boy child
yet the instant fucks begin spilling
from your lips
they draw conclusions
further substantiated and personified
in the plaza
where you walk
legs propelling you
in some fashion your friends say
they would recognize anywhere
as if the rhythm of your gait
were some defining characteristic
reminds me how I tried
to teach Mike to sway his hips
from side to side like a woman
walking on stiletto heels
to be completely honest
I had no idea
how to make it happen

22 September 2004

napo #26 -- Komunyakaa

after "Nipples" by Yusef Komunyakaa from Talking Dirty to the Gods:


As if my legs are randomly hinged
Most days, I can’t promise
To bend my knees & walk
On neat, knobby ankles.

I have hairy knuckles that grow
Inside my ears, with the same
Wanton bulge & unplanned oozing
As the Elephant Man who pantomimed

Mauled lepers. I was bent
Toward gossip in my knees before
I could yawn. Eager to walk postulation
into my backbone, I can often intimate

Which arm is my own. After the handing
& the handing off, now these elbows
& wrists are faintly implicit, shy
Temporary junctions.

and this, after "I'm More Intellectual Than You Are" by Jonah Raskin:

I'm More Sexual Than You Are

I'm more sexual than you are,
(Though I don't look it).
I have pawed more chicks than you have, clearly.
I have more ultra-erotic come-ons than you do, for sure.
I have petted more pubescent boppers than you -- early start.
I have fondled more genitals than you have, don't even scan my pix.
Have rubbed more tits than you have,
(I'm slick!)
Have watched more dicks on video than you have,
Know more lap-dancing addicts than you do,
Endure more lap-dancing prime-time episodes than you do,
Wear leather chaps better than you,
Spent more money on buttock tattoos than you did,
Drove more miles in Chevies getting blow jobs than you,
Can pay the cost of more lap-dancing pussy than you can,
Am more often recognized in lap-dancing night spots than you,
Have more lap-dancing calluses than you do,
Know the politics of lap-dancing gentrification better than you do,
Diss the rancor of more anti-lap-dancing women's groups than you do!
And my son is more a lap-dancing patron than your son,
And my labrador is more a lap-dancing patron than your retriever,
and I have more lap-dancing DNA helix than you do.
And my lap-dancing response is bigger than yours
And more intense
And better suited to pay for repeat sittings, maximal breast thrust and squirming.
And I sit in a sprawl that's more lap-dancing ample than you.
And so, my friend, it's evident:
I'm more lap-dancing endowed than you.

21 September 2004

napo #25 -- Anne Sexton

after "The Truth the Dead Know" by Anne Sexton:

The Undying Dead

For my father, born August 1916, reported dead
in the early-eighties in an ICU in Canton, Ohio

Told, I cheer and flail my arms,
celebrating his painful annihilation,
declining the offer to sink his remains.
It is done. I am free from any more.

One time I went to him. I visited
a room where he lay strapped to a bed
beside a black man tied to a chair, keening,
punching the wall of the state hospital in Canton.

My father, his face drugged and spacy,
his head rising up from the starched sheets, his hands
pawing at my dress, at my breasts. Allie, he moans.
Now I’m his sister. Better beaten or loved?

How to get through. One more place
I found him, naked and flayed by medics,
purple-gray skin needled and wired,
green threads creeping and jerking like time.

How to snare the dead? He hangs like a bat
in a dark space. He fills more than space
in the muddled cave of memory. He declines
to be bled, eyes, heart and shuttered soul.

20 September 2004

napo #24 -- Redel

after "Steerage" by Victoria Redel:


I sit hunched over. My pain sits too.
We ease up and cramp again.

The tomatoes I ate are why my belly’s upset.
We face off. We’re swollen and burping and green.

Appetite, agony, sweet taste an imp that dooms me,
my gut, that roiling ocean, a blooded bowl trapped inside me.

We huff and howl our paeans to greed.
My pain engulfs me. Every damn time I do this.

Please, Pain. Can we heave?
We stumble away to try.

19 September 2004

napo #23 -- Susan Mitchell

Today's poem sucks, completely a first draft and probably needs to be shot, so instead of reading it, check out my friend's new blog: Chris Mastin's Ad Nauseam.

napo #23 = after "Bus Trip" by Susan Mitchell:

Hawaiian Homies

Honolulu folks take Sundays at Ala Moana—
the beach park, not the shopping center.
They bring lawn chairs and lomi-lomi salmon

for an off-day sprawl, leave cars
at curbside, unload plastic bags
from Longs Drug and Times Supermarket—

local treats of Spam musubi, malasadas,
kalua pork, haupia and moshi,
above all rice. Beyond food, try umbrellas,

coolers of soda and beer, and for the kids,
those tropical fruit drinks—
lilikoi and orange strawberry guava mix.

They spend the day outside on blankets
under blue tarps and white bedspreads—
playing cards, making love, infants

nursing and children seeking comfort
from small waves or big brothers.
Gambling and cursing, talking story

in twenty different languages—
taking potluck with pidgin,
staring at tourists with hotel box lunches.

The park is a World War II memorial
built for community. Veterans power
wheelchairs, their grandsons ride bicycles,

teenagers flirt and rap, ukeleles play,
speeding skateboards, patrolling cops,
yapping dogs, pigeons—here to stay.

Everyone is family, everyone’s lived here
their whole life, even grownup children
come back for Sundays, for Mom and cold beer,

for Auntie Doris Ke‘eaumoku’s birthday—
nobody knows how old, two-hundred people
show up to party. From L.A.

and Seattle, Palolo Danny and Kalihi Kim,

he remembers her,
she him.

ode to my friend

Am I Right Here?

Thing I like about reading Thom’s poems
is waiting for the woman,
then squirming while he undresses her
even though she comes on stage naked
because I know the guy’s married—
sweet Dolorosa or something along that line.
Isn’t that true?
Didn’t the guy tell us he’s married?
Did I dream that part?
The guy’s horny.
He’s the walking talking rhyming infuckingcarnation
of the male longing for our lady of perpetual cunt.
I aim in that direction,
I seek the compass rose,
the magnetic arrow—
my aim’s erratic but always zoetic,
it’s nothing noetic, it’s biotic, spasmodic.
Christ! When I settle on the erotic,
it’s a square-headed bolt. I’m seeking
the hummer of the male drive.
I’m cruising the freeway,
looking at carnage—
my psyche craves a wreck,
but that guy’s a peeper.
Even Thom’s manniquins are a veiled excuse
to ogle flesh while claiming concern
for children
exposed to abuse.

California days


Something about cardboard cups.
I can't drink without dripping.
Fumbled search for the flash green spray—
the muted chug of a masticating Miele.
Who’s blogging my URLs?
Step back, Ma'am,
take your hand off the mouse.

Now pedal, now brake, now glide—
my body on a bicycle heeling and toeing
through the dew-damp park.
Here I go zigzag around the golden rod,
shiny band, pink bud of a crushed pencil,
swerve past the sharps of a torn Fanta can.
I wheel down the hopscotch highway,
unspool in a small girl's mind—
one two one two—
past pavement's end to bump,
grass clump, wet sod, the leaping
splat of brown mud and no answer
to my mother's question—
why confess to the car she’s too blind to drive?

18 September 2004

modern heroics

Pumping Gas at Costco

Sky-blue duffel between the fill-er-up tanks—
I’m so spooked, I think it’s a bag left by a terrorist.
Hydrocarbon Spill Response Kit
spelled out in yellow letters.
Used to be when gas spilled on your hands
you waited for evaporation.
I like the prepackaged nature of this solution
for what to do when your hands are on fire
or might be.
Unzip the response kit and hope the directions are on top.
Meanwhile, the bimbo lights her cig
bip bap whammo—
flame out, is that covered on page 8?
Eighteen languages, starting with Bosnian Korean
Ebonics Phonics Sudanese Vietnamese and ending with U. S. English.
Meanwhile, I’ve gone up. My car, too.
Keep salt handy, my mother used to say,
in the glove compartment or under the front seat.
I don’t have a front seat.
Thank you, OSHA.

napo #22 -- Sally Keith

after "Note: 12 November" by Sally Keith:

Note: 18 September

Fold my legs,
now am I down
in posture—now

can I breathe?
Rough-brushed beige
flat wall—hood

my eyes. One breath.
An open tongue.
One breath. Zazen—

Inhale. Exhale—
three. Now free
the belly lungs

diaphragm. Cleared
they mime. Begin each
time. Not stray.

Yes enter.
Yes. Once more
to three? White noise—

shut it off—

Note: 18 September

who sets the dial
to NPR—who's

up pre-dawn?
Car-bombed street
ten dead—kill

my ears. Light’s on.
An empty house.
Loud noise. Coffee—

hot steam. Raging
heart. Who sets
the alarm for

their neighbors? Still
it blares. Unplug this
sound. To churn.

Please turn off.
Please. What if
I bomb? Pull pin—

toss it up—

17 September 2004

napo #21 - Bukowski

after "the interviewers" by Hank Bukowski

the asylum inmates

the asylum inmates meander in
and they do more or less whatever
they want to.

and the attendant’s lesson
is to listen in
and take

some days they all gather round
sad janet and big dog
and first one then another
offers cigs
hugs and kisses

I don’t sense they’ll ever
know the greater world’s gone

it feels okay to stay
I hear whispered

“I prefer to be King
Lear . . .”

or: “I feed Nurse Ratchet
all of my meds.”

how cool, that high school
English class
in modern America is
teaching students how to
truth: “I studied
Faulkner so I
could speak
in tongues.”

16 September 2004

napo #20 -- Transtromer

after "Breathing Space July" by Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly

Days at Camp Wisconsin

The girl who dives deep for soap in the green lake
is sheer ambition. She plummets through meters like a water-
     splintering plumb line.
She sprouts fins and tail,
she seeks with a propelling desire that ambushes foes in commotion.

The man who points up the speed boat tosses a rope over the stern.
Boats give armature to men.
Those gas-fueled motors dragging skiiers like spoor.
The shearing wake that swamps canoes.

The girl who hikes the rough trails through a green wood
sprawling over the elephant hills
will stake a tent at last beside the rill of a white brook
as the stones ripen like black fruit against the sky.

15 September 2004

napo #19 -- Blumenthal

after Michael Blumenthal's "Some Nights at Thirty":

A Pack of Dogs

Some days you are the St. Bernard in Acton
who gobbled my thigh into his lion-size jaw.

Some days you are Amy’s two guard dogs
who squeeze through rusty wire openings to chase me.

Some days you are the German Shepherd
who tried to make mincemeat of my grandchildren.

Some days you are the barking yellow mutt
who barreled down the Vermont slope at midnight
into a trash can instead of me pedaling away.

Some days you are my dog Brownie
who Mom had euthanized for puking squirrel guts
onto the living room rug.

Some days you are my first Golden Retriever
who nipped mailmen and was sold to a man with sheep.

Some days you are the dog I gave up along with my husband
in 1973, telling you both I’d had enough,
hearing you crossed the highway under the wheels of a truck.

Some days you are Jock the Dalmation who hauls my red wagon
around the backyard and lets me ride bareback.

Some days you are Bonnie the Collie who sang as I practiced piano
and doubled up as a pillow while I watched TV.

And some days, me retired and happily married
to a man who says: no dogs, they’re smelly, you suggest
I might outlive him and need a new partner,
you wonder if a Standard Poodle or a Chocolate Lab
might be my best choice out of so many.

13 September 2004

Hawaii at night

Night Vision

Seventeen million stars
take their Hawaii vacation:
sightsee telescopes
studding the spine of Mauna Kea
like buttons on snow.

Down on the salt horizon
VIP stars dress out in platinum,
designer names
flaring the night with phantoms
and souvenir scarves.

High up, the madding crowd
sprinkle-dust-silvers the touring dome,
white dwarf and red shift
ribboning milk down the throat
of astronomer bliss.

napo #18 -- Linda Gregerson

after "Pass Over" by Linda Gregerson:

Ill Chosen

                  1. Plague of Jokers

You make a smart face at a cop, the cop
                  will think
         you’re bad, he said. No matter thugs

down the road are fleeing, Shooter’s
         the back of the van such a pack

of procurers and half-dressed whores they’ll
                  no doubt
         rip your nuts right off. You know

what the sargeant said through the mesh?
                  More coming.
         Ten people jammed back here, whiskey breath

where it’s not fresh vomit. They shuffle
                  up tighter
         cause at least it’s not cold inside

like flat on a park bench under newsprint
                  or boxed
         in cardboard next to a wall. The cop

is fat, the face convinced him you mocked him, and
                  he thinks
         you’re one of the johns. Say your prayers.

If anyone might have saved you, my guess is that pimp’s
                  a mile away.

napo #17 -- Brock-Broido

after "Self-Portrait with Her Hair on Fire" by Lucie Brock-Broido:

Self-Portrait with Cropped Head

Now, it is as close as the slo-mo of shuffling the tower-
Decks into fifty-two-card pick-up, consanguination.

I cower saying this, how on day five, I asked Mike
To cut my long hair back to the scalp line

But he couldn’t raze it, not far enough—
Not to stubble so I could annihilate my image

In a gesture of longed-for kinship, conflating
The dead, ash by ash, to a self too skinless for hair

Across a pacific ocean helplessly large,
The sight of carnage steaming ringed by kliegs.

Hair will go on growing as mornings begin
                                 In dread and the uncertainty,

While I grow less watchful or crave attention
                                 So misguided it is next to mercenary.

12 September 2004

napo #16 -- Allen Ginsberg

after “A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg

An Amusement Park in Anaheim

       What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Disney, as I strolled down the boardwalks between the stunts with a nausea wholly expected after a high ride.
       In my gaseous nightmare, and hoping for relief, I leaned over a steel-tubed queue-aligner, waiting for my equilibrium.
       What horses and what dinosaurs! Mismatched species bobbing in tune! Poles up their bellies! Ducks with the alligators, Wilma next to Fred Flintstone!—and you, Sailor Popeye, why were you slapping Blimpy with popsicle sticks?

       I know you, Walt Disney, shameless, greedy young bugger, plotting to trademark ears on the Mus musculus, that Mickey the Mouse of yours.
       I spied you hiring draftsmen in droves: Draw Mickey in gloves. Give Minnie dimples. What about fan clubs?
       I flickered in and out of the mercury lights on stanchions praising you, and wondered in my hallucination if you now lived in hell.
       We must cross the Charon-mediated river in our independent ferries gauging punishment, avoiding civil and penal litigants, and never admitting truth.

       Where are we going Walt Disney? The rides stop at sunrise. Does Magic Mountain ascend to God?
       (I close my eyes and pretend your supremacy in animation never happened.)
       Will we ferris till dawn on independent wheels? The tunnels of love are closed, coasters slow the rollers, we’ll both airplane home.
       Will we drown claiming we are both prophetic fools shamming real experience with pipe dreams, crazed by our muddy visions?
       Ah, dear hustler, con-man, cagy old snakeoil-flogger, what false prophecy did you paint when Superman vaulted the phonebooth and you fell out of the mint limelight and started firing the mouse department for slack treatment of cheese?

11 September 2004

napo #15 -- Rita Dove

homage to "After Storm" by Rita Dove:

Drying Off

Already the yellowed moon had sloughed
its beam and slumped into the black-leaved trees
when I sat up, limbs
damp from the back wash of a dream
through which your funk and
the mist of a shower stall steamed. I waded
the jammed room of the motel out

to where the jacuzzi pump whirred,
safety lights mincing the wavelets
in bejeweled lacerations. You sat
shaking salt over the cruising snails.
I could see the whelks dying, the slime
trapped in a shriveling casket for hours.

10 September 2004

naporhymo #14 -- Hoagland

after "Still Life" by Tony Hoagland:

Fathomed Life

The men have it wrong, said Mandy;
the goal isn’t an executive limo or a six-digit pay stub
                                                or a surgically tweaked trophy wife;
the goal is an exhale
and it follows an inhale
            limning the physical body

                     a simple in-and-out
bringing oxygen into
                                         and out of present lungs
                  centering consciousness
                       repeating the act

And she sat cross-legged, like a heeled dog
who waits patiently for indefinite reasons,

—and, breathing deep
and letting it out and in and out,

she stayed there, quietly, on her mat.

09 September 2004

naporhymo #13 -- G. Brooks

after "Bronzeville Woman in a Red Hat" by Gwendolyn Brooks:

Big-Hearted Concord Family

gives needy child a week in the country

We asked for a girl to go with our boys.
                        The schoolbus from Roxbury. Like borrowing
A jewel, really. Duped
to shine. An opal. A diamond. A black
There she stood with her mom,
Inside a print dress that was worn, needed mending—
Nothing hard to do, of course—the mom’s face a snarl,
The naked rebuff from that inner city darkness.
The pertness
Of that slim quiet girl gave away nothing. Her limbs scarred with
       blacker hues. . . .
But that was simply our first hello,
And warm-up to a fuck-hollering night-demon—all sweat,
Belly aching, and unwilling to sleep in a bed
Without her sibs, that’s all.
Bad example
For our kids. We wanted a girl
To go with our boys.

[this poem imitates only the first stanza of the Brooks poem -- go here to see Thom Ingram take on the whole shebang]

08 September 2004

bop and napos

Naporhymo #12 is after "I Walk Alone" by Ruth Stone:

I Roam Alone

Curled in my chair at dawn,
sometimes the moon,
its pitiless who-are-you,
laptop hum,
the moon’s crumpled mien.
Nearly the presence of a friend,
as I imitate
his hunt-and-peck fingers
on the caps of my keys
as we write in the spell
of that communion
that now replaces face-to-face,
that makes love on screens
without contact,
in this far zone
where I sit engaged,
undressed, but only by the text.

A bop is a poetic form, note the September 6th, 2004 writeup on the National Poetry Almanac website.

Here's my try at a bop, also naporhymo #11, after "Haunting" by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon:

Coming Home

Mom grew up in the house by the river.
Fourteen children,
with a few always at home
to feed the other ones visiting.
Lily played piano
and Tommy mandolin.

We cousins learned all the words.

The red, red robin
goes bob-bob-bobbing

After Tommy,
two sisters gave away the canoe,
nursed Mom before she passed.
Now Lily, taken into care,
Mary eats supper alone—
one hot dog, skip the beans.

The red, red robin
goes bob-bob-bobbing

After Mary,
who will feed juncos and finches?
Scare off squirrels and jays?
I hear the gavel
and the Goodwill van.

The red, red robin
goes bob-bob-bobbing

06 September 2004

naporhymo #10 -- Olena Kalytiak Davis

after "Moorer Denies Holyfield in Twelve" by Olena Kalytiak Davis:

Giants Drop Four in a Row

The ’89 World Series.
First time in my life I've scored a ticket to the game.

I leave work early for the home opener—
my stub's dated tomorrow,
I’ll catch tonight’s battle on TV.
At the stoplight, I’m rear-ended,
front-ended. Overhead, the signal
is swinging for the bleachers.

I floored the gas pedal
before the earthquake stopped.

The swimming pool tidal-waved the garage
where everything I own is in cardboard boxes
because my lover intentionally walked me,
now he says I'm out.

One minute you’re teammates. Then,
fifty-thousand fans fleeing Candlestick.

The neighbors brought over a handcart, towels,
short relief.
But, cleaning up, I slow-mo the replay:

I’ve been tuned to the wrong channel.
I’ve ignored the stats, the lineup, the applause.

I let a rookie steal my slot.

05 September 2004

naporhymo #9 -- Lorca

after "Arbole, Arbole . . ." by Federico Garcia Lorca:

Sol, Sol . . .

Sun, sun
hot and gold.

The orc with the ivories
is slow-riding breakers.
The spray, gassy and whetted,
lures him behind the swell.
Surge howlers winked by
on balearic backbones,
with cockled cream ribbons
and high-tossed domes.
“Fly Barracuda, transvesta.”
The orc skates down the tube.
Three steam trumpets wailed,
tappets for the knell,
with ribbons pearling round oysters
and bells of marine copper.
“Fly Anemone, dauphina.”
The orc beams off the curl.
When the fathom had glimpsed
high noon, with ambered gills,
a fish plum sailed by, sharing
drift and sea palm from the drench.
“Fly Manatee, flamingo.”
And the orc bites on air drums.
The orc with the ivories
spins helixing spirals
with the green dice of the spray
snake eyes in his dust.

Sun, sun
hot and gold.

04 September 2004

speaking out against executive housing


I see a pillar cornering your house—
Is that a penis?
An extended middle finger?

Tell me your house rises from a swamp—
The pillar fends off slime,
Or you salvaged material from a fallen municipal.

Otherwise, I call it puffery—
Stucco over concrete over hammered steel.
Why not the square truth of milled lumber?

If you want art, then showcase something worthy—
Peel a tree.

Click here for my son Ben's view of real, which then inspired the naporhymo #8 poem . . .

after "Magpiety" by Czeslaw Milosz:


Dead beast but not dead to some, steady work for ant troops
Charged with fur stripping, hide chewing,
Transforming the carcass to community.
A mongoose was robbing nests, we said: Mongoosery?
What is mongoosery? We can never befriend
A mongoose thief, a scooting belly across wet grass, a mouth
That snarls and hisses, gnashes metal bars,
And so we lure and trap and coldly shoot mongoosery.
Since however mongoosery always returns
Our ducks keep laying down treasures.
Who thinks to warn the ants: multiply richly,
We count on your rank instinct to forage.

One more, after "This Be the Verse" by Philip Larkin:

Brown Be the Dirt

It’s such a crutch, to blame the world
For things that didn’t happen, or did
And fucked you up like wars or drugs
Or Latin—veni vidi—SHIT!

But what if you could share the blame
By owning up to luck and spin.
You could restart and learn the game
Or cry and moan and drink more gin.

Society will let you off.
Esteem is culture’s new excuse.
If you’re entitled, please don’t scoff
When boredom sinks to self-abuse.

03 September 2004

naporhymo #7

after "What Do Women Want" by Kim Addonizio:

What Do I Want

I want the original world.
I want it dirty and wet,
I want it too close. I want to sense it
before people paint it for me.
I want it hungry and cordless,
this world, with no one poised to preach
what’s meaningful. I want to tear off
the legs of beetles and chew them up
to discover I prefer the taste of red ants,
ants that crawled past my naked ass
and bit my tender nub. I’ll finger each one out,
eat them piecewise, head thorax abdomen,
mandibles tickling my sinus while legs tango by.
I want to tear off the scabs sealing me
to sniff iron filings and eyeball heart’s blood.
I want that first world raw.
I want it to defy
the puny claims of humans,
to make clear how small a role one person plays
in setting or binding what
she wants. As I find it, I’ll be that world
so fulsome. I’ll be bare and greedy,
inhale the whole tick and tock, through
my ear holes and my eye sockets,
and I’ll suck it like milk, like manna,
it’ll be the panhandling
murk I conceive in.

02 September 2004

naporhymo #6

after "How soft this Prison is" (#1334) by Emily Dickinson:

How rude my Naming is

How rude my Naming is
How sour these trocheed barks
No Love Song but the Yawps of Crows
Christening my caul

Of Front if this is Mine
Have I no sweeter Hail
A Title but a Prelude is

after "Somehow myself survived the Night" (#1194) by Emily Dickinson:

Somehow the Rocks embrace the Stream

Somehow the Rocks embrace the Stream
And scour the Bed below—
That they be worn the Worn withstand
Until the Fissure streaks,

Upheaves the lithic, waters boil
As earth and sky exchange—
Catastrophe for Ancient Haunts
But relimned into Place.

After agonizing these two, my respect for ED has quadrupled. Two nights ago, I began reading Alfred Habegger's My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson. I'm not a fan of modern biography, and the beginning of this one almost made me burn it -- portentous conclusions drawn from insufficient data -- but I labored on, and thank goodness, now that Emily's been born, it's proving to be reasonably rewarding.

01 September 2004

naporhymo #5

after "Drowned" by Carol Frost, published in The Gettysburg Review, Summer 2004:


Black and white: a transform of mask and wire: the hook:
stark menace from far flung planet and eyeballs: hoary and huge:
scientist summoned from Washington: all ears for the young man’s
story, the clinging girl: massacred farmer
last night: telephoning for troops against extra-terrestrial invasion::
bad weather: kids not home from school: schools closed by cops:
eyelids: talons: articulated limbs: encroaching tentacles scooping
town-fleeing for their lives: horror: horror:
that pen scribbling a complex math equation:
variables of rescue: intelligence too keen for Fly:: so pat.