Jan 9, 2014

The First Poem of 2014

"I have a buzz on"
is a ridiculous thing to say
for a buzz can never been worn
but only felt
in a funny way
for only felt
can be worn
but a fool you'll always be
unless you are,
in fact,
known to humans,
as a

Oct 22, 2013

October Heaves

October heaves
17 days in
with a belly full of love
the ultimate blossom
from succulents to sweet jasmine
on this day every year
a birth occurs     
deep from within
the pedals and leaves and stems all become her
while orange peel and grapefruit mist
hang delicately in the air
it makes me tremble in a rhythm quite unfair
that thefts my breath and strips me bare
So I sing the same song
as she escapes to the sea
with the seals and their whiskers
busking our shared melody
She moves in water
like the canoe through the reeds
wild rice from the mindful seed

-to my darling birthday girl

Jun 15, 2012

Slowly. Sweetly. Sung.

-for my girl in Ipanema

I’ll be the eye that no one sees
I’ll be the ear that no one hears
I’ll be in your breath
Shot from a secret lung
And live in your mind pushing memory
Slowly. Sweetly. Sung.

I’ll be the air
That only you breathe
I’ll be that bird
That lives in your tree
I’ll show you a place
Where drops of mercy fall
And bathe your face in memory
Slowly. Sweetly. Sung

Speed the sound
We’re rolling down the road
Feel the ground
Shifting its load
Shifting its load

I’ll be the hand
That holds your head high
I’ll be the brook
That never runs dry
I’ll bring you the stars
So that you might sleep
A thousand nights full of memory
Slowly. Sweetly. Sung.

I’ll be the chest
For you to beat
I’ll be the earth
Under your feet
I won’t stand in your way
See me step aside
And watch the smoke of memory
Slowly. Sweetly. Sung.

Apr 25, 2012

Just Take Me Out Back and Shoot Me

Her face suited her name. Aunt Bert. Jowly, pale, and to me, always looking old. But boy was she funny. The kind of dusty dry, Norwegian humor that was smuggled in a burlap sack aboard some cold, 19th century ship and replanted in the black soil of southern Minnesota. She lived to be 97 and worked most of her life for Hormel's Meat Packing in Austin, Minnesota, where the original SPAM was created, grown, concocted. She never married staying forever solo. I'm sure Bert had plenty of secrets. But a particularly tasty one was that she got hooked on cigarettes while working some mind numbing factory job during WWII and never really quit. None of the family new this. Although she was always at family gatherings fully engaged, she mostly kept to herself. Lived on her own. We only realized she was a smoker after she quit. But this happened in her 90's and it wasn't actually a decision on her part but rather that one day she simply forgot she smoked. The nursing home staff confirmed that she was a daily smoker. "Not too heavy" they said, "but not necessarily light". Bert was loosing her marbles but she never lost her humor. One day, as they were assessing the dexterity of her mind with my mother sitting by her side, they asked her who the current US President was. "Eisenhower?" Everyone in the room agreed that it was, in fact, Bill Clinton. Aunt Bert quietly leaned over to my mother and with a smile on her face whispered, "Just take me out back and shoot me." After she passed away, I drove her late 70's burgundy two tone Ford Granada around Minneapolis for a couple of months before flying back to Australia. It felt good cruising the summer streets, especially the ones that thread between and connect those urban lakes. I would often roll the windows down and play Massive Attack's "Teardrop" and feel memory in the humid wind. My folks sold it for $500. Great car. Thanks Bert.

Oct 30, 2011

Prisoners of Love

I turned my head in an outstanding way
far from the light of your house
and I imagined a peacock in brilliant blues
like I was suppose to the first time around

I settled on the path that went into you
which turned from gravel to an honorable pave
and there was your house with it's front porch light on
the one that's been keeping me away

Oh, and I'm restless without sleep
cause I'm a prisoner of the gaze that you're in
cause I'm a prisoner of the gaze that you're in
we should all be so lucky to being wearing chains like these
we're all prisoners of love

I moved into a space beyond
and opened and passed through your door
entered a room so real
little futures were clinging to the wall
well there was order before
now all things have been moved
to accommodate a sign of the sun
I still like that chair and that fire over there
I think I'll stick around before I run

Oh, and I'm restless without sleep
cause I'm a prisoner of the gaze that you're in
cause I'm a prisoner of the gaze that you're in
we should all be so lucky to being wearing chains like these
we're all prisoners of love

Oct 20, 2011

Arcs (are straight lines)

There is a contest on the beach
and all the stories are supplied
hold your own hold your eyes
we'll run these stingers through the sand
and offer up one good side

I thought of you the other day
as I drew a perfect arc
you're out there and I'm doing my best
arcs are straight lines in progress
who offer up one good side

What I'm seeing ain't really there
at least not on this stretch of road
there's a break in the sky let's go on
and I'll tell you about it another time
and offer you one good side

Old standards sometimes live alone
not much can really touch them
it's nice to see them looking down on inventiveness
among the shells
who try so hard for one good side

Now there's no where left to go
if you leave from here they'll send you back
but what more could you need?
You got your own main street
with two good sides
two good sides

Mar 22, 2011

Silly (and ineffective) Love Songs

"There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something, we’d all love one another."
-Frank Zappa

Frank has a point. But flaws have been exposed as I ponder moments in my life when songs have made me love and I'm not even talking about love songs per se. "Sultans of Swing" comes to mind instantly. That song takes me right back to the Winneshiek County Fair and the chain-linked swing chair ride whose centripetal force would turn you sideways high enough to see the corn fields beyond the drive in theater. Our mopeds waited down below and love, in its budding form, stumbled around smelling like cotton candy and a new stick of Speed Stick. Whenever I hear that song, after marveling at Mark Knopfler's soloing dexterity and timing, I feel some of that young, directionless love coursing through my aging veins and it gives me comfort. So thanks Mark.

Now as far as a true love song, hearing Al Green croon "Let's Stay Together" transports me back to one of my brothers' weddings when it was played at the reception as their wedding dance after the lid to the pressure cooker was finally unscrewed. Amazing. And I can see myself awkwardly grooving on the sidelines and shuffling on the wide old hardwoods, straddled between two periods of growth not yet understanding what being "together" was in the first place let alone staying there. I had sunglasses on and was attempting a peek at the sun but Al told me there's no need to go at it that way. Thanks Al.

Massive Attack's "Teardrop", on the other hand, is an excellent (and quite possibly the only) example of a love song that is sung in an undecipherable language and one that even Noam Chomsky would not understand but for me it speaks of the highest love and reminds me in every way when I fell in love with my wo-man for the first time. Soft Phillippino sand, lost flip flops, king tides, burning thatched roofs and angry string rays become the backdrop for me and my lover girl whenever I hear Elizabeth Fraser sing that gorgeous melody with all those mushy words acting like lyrics and reciting the ingredients for love. Thanks Beth.

The list could go on forever. George Harrison. Thank you for writing "Something" for it takes me back to eating my mother's lasagna after a huge day of sledding on those steep, snowy bluffs of northeastern Iowa, surrounded by my family and happy as Larry. Joni, thanks for offering up "Coyote" and even The Blue Nile for "Tinsletown in the Rain", both of which helped me fall in love with the road and it's unrivaled solitude and arguably helped me learn to love inanimate objects such as blacktop, fuel gauge needles, and truck stops. Now that's something. So Frank, although your songs have never made me move to Montana to start a dental floss ranch, they certainly have sparked cinematic visions in my head. For that I thank you.

The issue here is not that love songs do or don't actually make people love each other but rather that songs are indicators of how our memories are extremely - and sadly - short term by their very nature. For 3 minutes and 21 seconds, we're the most incredible lovers creating sparks with our hands, flowers with our lips and ceasefires with our moans. But after that song is over, we tend to slip back into our old selves clawing back up that mountain in search of enlightenment or hoping to hold love in our hands once again. Perhaps if we had love songs playing constantly in our heads, we would always be in a state of love or loving. But that sounds awful. Give me silence. Give me nature. Give me traffic noise. Now that's real love...that and Nick Cave's "Into My Arms". Thanks Nick.

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Feb 18, 2011

Song for Sunday

Feb 11, 2011

So true...so true

“If it’s 97% true, I think that’s true enough. I’m not going to call it fiction because 3% of it isn’t true.”
 - David Sedaris .


Jan 22, 2011

Oh traveler

Oh traveler Oh traveler
My beloved traveler
Your wings are spread
while over the seas
I will hold your feathers
When you're gone from my side
then sing you sing you
sing you back to me