Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prayers, Portraits, Post-Its (16)

Knives in High Places

What were you thinking? I don't say you of all people
since anyone much past diapers should know sharpness
and top cupboards don't mix. And balanced on a plate?
What, so you could slice and nibble in ten seconds less?
Fate was civil. Your scar will give your glance new depth
and serve as a reminder, though why you'd need one–
Surely you recall some diagram of The Eye
or those peeled grapes that made us gasp on Hallowe'en.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Prayers, Portraits, Post-Its (15)


A skinny old sun-bronzed man lights a cigarette on his deck and carries a green watering can down to his tomato plants. Yuki has said she used to watch me from her window, just as I now look down and watch the old man lifting his leaves, checking for mites. She never said, she didn't need to, but I would have been sitting on this green plastic loveseat, drinking coffee or wine, occasionally reading, more often barbecuing sausages or burgers. I saw her in her window, one floor up in the building across from mine, when I first moved in. A slim figure, usually in a white T-shirt, standing at her sink or tending her plants on her window sill. Then I stopped seeing her. That was because she had started watching me, I realized later. I was puzzled at the time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Prayers, Portraits, Post-Its (14)

Joan's View

“‘I can't keep my windows clean,’
he says, and people nod okay
and keep on drinking or whatever,
but he keeps on saying it,
‘I can't keep them clean. No
matter what I do or try, they're still dirty,’
until it becomes embarrassing,
because of course they all
know that about him, his windows
are dirty and he can't keep them clean,
it's practically the first thing
you notice about anyone
–why harp on it? The harping's
just more dirt. Dirt on dirt,
until your window is everyone's
window, sights plugged in it,
faces swaying like fat carp,
and as the moments of drastic
silence deepen you can feel
everyone just trying to creep around,
creep around or crash through
that smeary pane he's put up,
out to where a cricket is chirping
and you don't even need to see
and pailfuls of moonlight
and that fresh lonesome
smell is coming up from the river.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Prayers, Portraits, Post-Its (13)


about 19
a Joan Jett type

slouched smoking
with 2 friends

with black rose

from ankles
all the way up

under her
miniskirt (this

is March)
I slow down


hear the word

and speed right
up again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Door*

the future then

standing on that road
outside Blaubeuren
even the dust
shines and is white

staring with eyes
at the wheatfield becoming

more than wheat, or
for the first time, wheat

a vibratory world
of timeless power, humming
molecular dynamo
and awesome geometry

razor-sharp planes

electric blue &
liquid gold

if i could see
then, the battering years

shocked, drugged, poor
in all ways; or
just that one terrible
moment when i smashed
my head repeatedly
on the linoleum floor
to free it—

would i still stare
through this shimmering door

feeling myself enter?

[*“The Door” was the final poem in my self-published collection Black and White Pictures After a Rainstorm, 1988.]