Category Archives: Poetry

Unjust Venn Diagram of Confessional Poets

venn diagram yay for pedants

The ones whose open mouths
are unhealed wounds.

The ones whose closed mouths are healed scars
pulled together over wet soft void.

The ones whose words are spelled in pointillist
splatter awaiting forensic specialists.

The ones whose verses are pantomimes of ink
on paper, serif pixels on a screen.

The ones who juggle the slices of pie
dripping ichor, slinging off little chunks of minced muse.

The ones  who use an app to create
the diagram, to include themselves in, the other ones out.

The ones who mourn their lost spirographs
with which they transcribed the music of the spheres.


A Dickey Cento: A Woman Comes True

dickey with life mask twk crop2 shad2James Dickey

A Woman Comes True

I kneel in the quick of the moon.
Inside the one flame of that stone,
the stone held in air by my heartbeat,
the dead have their chance in my body.

In a sickness of moonlight and patience,
in a motion long buried in water,
my nearly dead power to pray
mimes the hypnotized language of beasts.

A tremendous, suffusing,
open shadow of gold,
from the iron depths of cold water,
a woman comes true.

The fear-killing moves of her body,
fabulous, rigid, eternal,
with the timing of rust,
stops the gaunt turning of metal.

In a sovereign floating of joy,
in the pale, risen ghosts of deep rivers,
in the purest fear on earth,
How can she come, but in glory?

James Dickey is remembered,  if he is remembered at all in these latter days, for writing the novel Deliverance, on which a memorable movie of the same name was based, but Dickey was primarily a poet. The collage poem or cento The Woman Comes True is made of lines mined from his Poems 1957-1967.

My copy of the Dickey book is stamped NO LONGER THE PROPERTY OF DENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY which means I probably bought it at Capital Hill Books on the corner of Colfax and Grant St. in Denver sometime in the late eighties or early nineties. Somehow it’s survived all the moves I’ve made since then. Having quilted Dickey’s lines into my own piece, I feel rather like a small bird who has furnished his nest with feathers stolen, somehow, from a particularly large and a grumpy raven. My eyes are on the sky, scanning for a black silhouette.

A Moon, An October

Blood Eclipse

Blood-dimmed tide,
cockshut light,
dimpsy at dawn,

ruddy earth shadow
creeps across the pocks
of the Man-in-the

murder most full
the bloodshot eye sliced
by arcs of strung wire,

the body shoved
by slow inches
into a pile of trees

Rosy-fingered, Aurora
pulls on her white gloves,
puts on a shine,

polishes off
the smudged print,

the goddess did it
with the daylight
in the garden.

I wrote this poem after watching a lunar eclipse in October 2014, then left it parked on the drive. Farmers have car gardens, phalanxes of old vehicles parked in a corner of a field; I’m not the only poet and writer with a garden of texts backed up onto a hard drive or tucked in the corner of an online cloud. Open a file, climb in, turn the key in the ignition, see if she starts.

A Poem of July offered to October

Ex Voto

The swifts lift themselves
high above the tall cypresses

as living praises
to an empty sky.

The swifts drift
in recursive spirals
a motile computational ogam

of sickles
kenning and reaping
an invisible insect minuscule

in the deep dye
and dome of air.

The swifts shift the blame
little saints of fleet ink

black against morning blue
flakes of obsidian
lodged in a huge unseeing eye.

The gift swift
as a stone knife in the chest

the heart heaves in offering
the cicadas cry.

This poem has been sitting on my drive since 2013. I decided to post it to remind myself I once wrote poetry. I’ve been clicking through the poems on my drive, and there are a lot of them I’ve never posted or published anywhere. Some of them no one but me has laid eyes on. There’s no particular reason for that, other than I’m my own audience and I don’t feel I or the poems will perish if I don’t publish. We, of course, will perish. But, in the meantime, here we’ll flicker.

Poem, Valentine, Be my

Love and Topology

I crease the square
of origami paper
on the diagonal

halve the diamond
to an abstract silhouette of Mt. Fuji
and trim the triangle

scissors cuts paper

down to a breaking wave,
the half profile
of a valentine.

paper covers rock

I fold and fold again
the half hearted paper.
I snip nicks, cut rough chevrons,

slice snowflake geometries
into the folds
leaving the leading edges uncut.

Butterflied confetti
to the floor.

rock breaks scissors

I unfold the murder, press flat
a whole heart,
a heart full of holes,
a heart cut down to crude lace.

Be my valentine?

Note: I wrote Love and Topology for Mrs. Dr. Omed in February 2004. So far as I can remember, it is the only occasional poem I’ve ever completed in time for the occasion. I duly posted it on the previous incarnation of the Tent Show on Valentine’s Day 2004. Since 13 years ago is equivalent to the early Ordovician Period in Internet time, I feel it’s not too soon to post it again.

The Facts, Ma’am, Just The Facts…

…are a kind of poetry. Also stone knives.

stone knife crop wc 35 rot crop

I read the text posted below to Mrs. Dr. Omed and she declared it a kind of poem, and perfect. Who am I to disagree?

It consists of an agglomerated string of dollops, collops, and loplops of prose scooped into the bento boxes of “Comments” to an unoffending and innocent Facebook friend’s post asking her fellow FFs to list reliable news sources. She used the word fact. Several times. A trigger word for me. Oh, the epistemology! I was off:

What is fact?

The root meaning of “fact” comes from the Latin: factum, a making, from facere to make or to do. A fact is not a given, something received, found or uncovered, it is what someone makes of what is given or received. A made thing, an artifact, or the making of it.

Question all facts, ask who makes them, and why, who passes them on, and why. This is especially important when the fact is asserted by friends, allies and trusted sources. No thing made by humans, tangible or intangible, is innocent of art and intent.

And if you aren’t making your own facts, you are accepting something secondhand. Readymade*. If you make your own, you will have an appreciation of the difficulties, skills needed, exploitation of materials, respect of materials, the mistakes and deceptions and manipulations involved even in the making a useful, solid, well made fact.

Also think on how facts are repaired, reused, repurposed, discarded, stripped of context and original meaning (use) like artifacts looted from a tomb.

We make facts to create, protect, and enhance meaning, not just for ready use. A leaf-bladed stone knife is made to be beautiful as well as useful, and spear throwers are carved with animal heads to speed the meaning to the target. A stone knife is a fact in the hand, ready to cut or stab.

And of course, in a market economy, particularly a digital market economy, facts are commodities, consumer products. But, as digital social media consumers, we can’t really speak of them being sold to us any more than we can speak of a can of tuna being sold mayonnaise or salad dressing or a jar of pickle relish.

Come, let us make beautiful tuna salad together, and together we shall be comforted by the warm fact of whole wheat bread under and above us.

Amen. The text is unedited, except a question mark replaced by period, a paragraph cleaved in twain.

*The entire Internet should be signed R. Mutt.

The Trouble with Normal

So many people in my Facebook and Twitter feeds adamantly retailed the meme, the posting of said meme peaking a week or two ago, that the Trumpening shouldn’t be “normalized,” and we shouldn’t slip into accepting Trump and the coming Idiocracy/Republic of Gilead as normal. I don’t necessarily disagree with that. I find it hard to think of Trump as normal, or to think that I would ever think of Trump as normal, particularly as he presents as a clinically abnormal personality. But I have trouble with the word normal. For one thing, a lot of “normal” people voted for Trump. For another, I have a clinically abnormal personality myself. But more importantly, I think many things we collectively as Americans have already accepted as “normal” are exactly what brought us to Trump. I thought, “The trouble with normal…is it always gets worse.” This is not an original thought. It is the refrain of a song by Bruce Cockburn, released in 1983. To wit:

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it’s repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the street shrugs — “Security comes first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Callous men in business costume speak computerese
Play pinball with the third world trying to keep it on its knees
Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
And the local third world’s kept on reservations you don’t see
“It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When the ends don’t meet it’s easier to justify the means
Tenants get the dregs and the landlords get the cream
As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Per William Blake, manacles are forged in the mind, and the hapless Soldiers sigh/Runs in blood down Palace walls.