Poems, Reconnaissance, Signed Copies, Uncategorized

the paraphrase of a quail egg

After Inspecting Brassaï’s Graffiti

At Musée d’Art Moderne
I notice the construct of silhouetted
stick figures juxtaposed above a door;
one’s triangular body tells me
to go into a different salle. There,
I find another version of graffiti
on the door in front of me as I sit down.
This is not art someone has written.
My bladder agrees, but against this angst
and all treachery of the world’s turmoil
another has revolted: Yes it is—
Art is what you make of it. Such words
delight me at first; they affect such openness,
pretend pluralism, and compel acceptance
of every sapling of discontent that arises
at seeing paint spread like entrails on the floor.
What you make of it . . . as if anyone could
wake and slither into anarchy and come out
with the paraphrase of a quail egg. I go out
and back to the exhibits, back to the violence
and spectacle of color and form. Seeking out
other dimensions, I walk into a room wrapped
in giant spools of gray, industrial felt.
At the end of one hall, a sculpture in straw
creates the illusion of an airplane; a thousand
pairs of scissors spear its shape. Art is
what you make of it? I need to go back:
digging into my bag and finding a pen
I scratch the last two words into blackness.

The poem is featured in Reconnaissance, published by Homebound Publications. For a signed copy (and free shipping), click the side menu and find “Purchase Signed Copies.”

Navigate to previous posts using the arrow on the right-hand-side menu.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Four Blue Eggs, Reconnaissance, The Comet's Tail, Uncategorized

PechaKucha 20×20 Bridgeport Vol. 1

I have to admit that before the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport Connecticut invited storytellers to participate in their first PechaKucha night, I had no idea what PechaKucha was. It’s simple to describe: a slide show of 20 slides which progress through 20-second intervals–so a story in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. More than the slideshow, PechaKucha is an opportunity to gather with others and share. Developed by an architecture firm in Japan, PechaKucha translates loosely into “chit-chat” in Japanese. It’s taken off worldwide and the U.S. is starting to catch up.

I was happy to participate as the Barnum Museum hosted its first (of many) PechaKucha nights earlier this month (May 9). I told the story of how writing helped me recover from a coma–a story that I share in more depth in The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory.

Annotating the Self: Writing and Recovery  (or click the image below)

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I’ll be at Byrd’s Books again on Sunday, June 3rd for a Book Talk about The Comet’s Tail. Support your local independent bookstore and join us.

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Nomad's End, Poems, Reconnaissance, Uncategorized

The Perils of Bedtime Reading

With A Brief History of Time occupying the top spot of my pile of bedside books, I’ve had space and time on my mind lately. So, four poems (small input, I know) toward a unified theory of the universe.

The Sky’s Version of Truth

So what about the laziness
of light, taking its sweet old time
getting to the eye. The sky
having no reason to be false
teaches memory, a peek
of what old people must have seen:
Cassiopeia learning to dance, Orion
earning his bow, Taurus deciding
to charge. A navigator’s dream.
What the eye catches is an old light.

What we rely on most is thriftiness.
Whatever speed it takes,
the open road is just dotted lines
a tree’s last goodbye to summer,
just lament. It’s a different kind
of blindness—seeing too much
seeing with the heart, light alone
or a blade of grass.
Loving the blindness, the eye sees a pattern:
the round dome of sky,
the traffic of night, ad infinitum.
Connect the dots the sky is saying.

I see a banjo, the spokes of a wheel,
the claw of a crow catching me. Maybe
a duck-billed platypus playing the trumpet.
I can almost hear a star’s last sigh.
Perhaps legacy is spelled out
the way memory returns to you
so many years later: you remember
the leaves, the rain, the sound
of a breath stopping three rooms away.

 

Time Travel

The summer after the diagnosis
we visited their beach house on the Cape,
taking the route through those warped
highways, drawbridges, and rotaries
made for delirium.

What to talk about with my mother’s friends
but the growth of children and the palace
of sea breeze, while the bug zapper
murdered hordes of bugs. What to say
of radiation treatment? What to say
of closure, that our meeting here
is the beginning of goodbye.

That night I met neighborhood kids,
joined them for bonfire and beers,
and dreamt of snakes.

 

After the First Kiss

Venus enters the fourth chamber,
meanders like a comet
through the claret landscape.
Finding it pleasantly blood filled,
she maroons and takes in the scope,
settles where the black holes leading
to outer galaxies close and open
mechanically, leaving no light.

Reclining with the boon of ancient history
pulsing like a red giant around her,
it’s no wonder she feels safe here
in the calibrated darkness. It is time,
she thinks, to postulate the theory,
time to introduce a little magic
into this hollow topography.

And with the red shift, she exits
taking with her tales of time travel
and the red fire of oxygen.
Slipping past the mouth’s gate,
she exchanges the good air and leaves
the secrets of human love.

 

While Constellations Sleep

I press my lips against your cheek,
brush a loose strand from your head,
and fold into midnight blue slumber.
Night watches over its sleepyheads
as a dim light trickles between the slant
of the curtains—perhaps the moon,
perhaps a lonely streetlight peeking in,
searching for companions to embrace.
The kittens tiptoe in, waking me to gaze
silently out the window. But I cannot see
the stars tonight; Orion’s belt brightens
someone’s sky beyond the clouds, beyond
the glossy shell of New Haven’s bubble of light.
The dippers are out of reach, the dragon

has slowed his brutal tail, resting above
the horizon. But I see the constellations
of your face even as you sleep. Wishing
to rescue light from the galaxies you dream,
I trace the pattern of your eyelashes and
telescope into the nebula of your love.

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Poems, Reconnaissance

First Day of Class

Prototype

Bless the first day of class
with its confined clutter. Notebooks
stacked and piled like sculptures
that say to the first lesson, I am ready
for you to feed me. Catapult us
into the realms of academia.
Picture chimpanzees swallowing
pineapple-white sheets in open cages.

Get your hands dirty, I tell them,
love the pages, the print, smell it
and remember papyrus. Break
the spine, hold it up to the light:
tell me who you are, author, tell
me your secrets; help me make sense
of your world. Transmogrify.
Cave dwellers, hierophants—make friends
with the exclamation point, bond
with the asterisk. Play with dirt.
Play with dirty words.

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Reconnaissance, Uncategorized

Proof of Existence

Distilling Sol Lewitt

Obliterate, says the line
curve the horizon, resist
tremors of an inexact hand
tap into the statuesque control
of an oblique axis, linger
in the infinite advance; find proof
of existence between the abscissa
and the ordinate, between Euclid
and Descartes, between an arrow
and its trajectory.

Sol Lewitt’s work is on permanent display at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; poem from Reconnaissance.

 

Reconnaissance, Uncategorized

A girl and a book

I’m reading a biography of L.M. Montgomery (by Jane Urquhart, Extraordinary Canadians Series), a poignant story of the writer’s life which makes her fiction even more meaningful. The new series Anne with an E is also worthwhile. One of my mother’s favorite books, Anne never made it to my bookshelf until I was much older. My parents, on my mother’s urging I’m sure, honeymooned on Prince Edward Island in 1970. To honor what would have been their 47th wedding anniversary, here is my poem.

The Resuscitating Tonic of Make-Believe

After the fifth or sixth closing of a now tethered
hardback edition, (her grandmother’s copy)
she sent Anne of Green Gables back
to the bookcase without ceremony or accolades
with only the guarded impulses of a pact
made between bosom friends: a girl and a book.
Even before her young lips knew
the timid inklings of what might
be later recognized as true love,
she had the entire exploit pinned down
like tissue paper patterned onto checkered gingham.

Someday, she’d bring him, her own Gilbert,
whoever he might manifest as, wherever
she might find him, to red clay sea cliffs of Anne’s
Prince Edward Island, leave the silk dress,
tuxedo jacket and champagne toasts behind
at the chapel, board the ferry and seek out
the lake of the shining waters, where fields
of tall grasses swoon in the breeze and hollyhocks
chime like wedding bells. But someday seems

an unreachable planet when one is thirteen.
The resuscitating tonic of make-believe begins
to peter out like a late August waterfall; thirsty
pragmatism piles up where once fluid imaginings
squeezed between a book’s secretive folds. Flipping
to the last page, she predicts that happily-ever-after
will look good pressed into malleable paper,
but such endings, with their achieved resolutions,
belong only to red-headed heroines, not real girls
who collect bookmarks and play tuba in the band.

cutting the cakeferne and ed honeymoon

The poem appears in Reconnaissance, published by Homebound Publications; second edition 2017 is now available.

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Reconnaissance, Signed Copies

First Editions

To celebrating the release of the second edition of Reconnaissance, enjoy this poem about first editions. Click the title to order your own first edition at a special discounted price.

The Thief

I apprenticed well. For a sixth grade project,
Mrs. Montecalvo taught me the worth
of a good forgery when she assigned
the footnoted history of a painter
and encouraged an attempt at imitation.

Seeing Monet’s Westminster Bridge reprinted
in Reader’s Digest, I modeled my own
with schoolgirl brushes and an aptitude
for blending. I typed his biography
on a blue Remington, stenciled a title page,
punched symmetrical holes and glued
the masterpiece into a pocketed folder.
I never got the stink of acrylic off my fingers.

 

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After Monet: Westminster Bridge, Acrylic on paper, circa 1985 

 

Audacity and small victories: these
are gateways for any scavenger.
Once one is secure in the false flat
of a sloped horizon, transformations
are easy: an open book, so to speak.

I pocketed the Collected Poems
of ee cummings wholesale, tore
the bar code from the last page
and slipped its frayed spine between
loose-leaf sheets of unlined
but perforated notebooks. Long after,
the card catalog entry went away too.

Like other trophies, I just stored it,
held it in a box of pressed flowers
and half memorized poems, among
generous piles of pens and paint brushes,
newspaper clippings and dirty love letters
scribbled on the backs of postcards.
For these corruptions I’ve paid only
in callouses and broken pencil tips.
Despite my best calligraphy,
slippery pens have crossed out
entire lines carefully typeset in Linotype
or Century Schoolbook, my marks bleeding
through pages now unreadable.

In the gray area between homage
and sacrilege, I thieve too much:
red wheelbarrows pile full of leaves and dirt
and burnable logs pressed into the pulp
of scrap paper or woven into stretchable
canvases. Little I see in nature
that is my own. I stole van Gogh’s sadness
and painted it on my shoulder.
Like Olympia, I learned how to stare.

Next time, let me mimic the syntax of bridges
and throw sand over wet, stolen ink.
Let me trust in surveillance. Once the thief
learns to discern original from run of the mill
everything is a first edition; everything
is one of a kind.