Memorial Day Sonnet (2017)

(I borrowed the idea of Facebook Street from Victoria Chang, a West-Coast poet whose poem appeared today on the site. Still a draft.)

I’m selling my flat on Facebook Street.
Maybe I’ll rent it out – rents keep rising.
Too many bugs in the place, laying eggs
in every crack and crevice. I tried Raid
to smoke them out – they just laughed and scurried
about. Let’s not even discuss the rats
down in the basement, walking on tip-toes
at night, eating pages from my old books.
Yes, I’m selling – maybe the Orkin man
can clean it out, make it habitable.
Again. Maybe the next guy can rent it
out, clean the smell of smoke off the walls,
the stains of piss and ashes I found
under the carpet on the parquet floor.

From the archives – commemorating the visit of Pope Francisco to Fatima, Portugal

#NaPoWriMo17 April 1 – Our Lady of the Hidden Rivers

Bless us, our lady of the hidden rivers –
rivers that flood and ebb – like tides –
flowing out to the sea and back

into our hearts. Surrounded by a soft light,
our lady wears a cactus cloth, a clam shell
from the oceans that mothered

and blessed the secret rivers. Our lady likes
the latte we serve her – decaf expresso
and Colombia mild roast – creamy,

frothy, smooth to the taste. We’ll see her again
with Mohammed’s daughter. The three children –
Jacinto, Francisco, Lucia – witnessed the vision.

They are blessed. Later, it’s a long bus ride
and a longer walk up a mountain path
to Montserrat, to stand in line to see

the glass-encased statue of the black virgin.
We kiss the hand that holds the sphere.
It’s worth the pain to be with her again.

Bless us, our lady of the hidden rivers,
hear our prayers, soothe all our pains away.

(Guadalupe – Wadi al-Luden – Hidden River)

a favorite from the archives – the roots of love

The roots of love

“We’ll meet again and then we must decide upon the hour
When we’ll allow our destinies to intertwine and flower.”
                                                                            From Sonnet #8

with a nod to Deleuze and Guattari –

Over the passing years our love has grown:
a mass of tangled roots beneath the soil.

Only an expert gardener would appreciate
this rhizome, how interconnected at every point –

each node drawing nourishment from the soil
surrounding it – every connecting root as essential

as the adjoining nodes. No prior unity defines us –
there is no original order to regulate or codify –

we name this love. Errant roots sometimes rupture,
break or fail, and remake their connections

in multitudinous combinations, always seeking
progression, insuring survival, feeding

this intertwining flowering, a map and tracing
of a secret underground geography.

#NaPoWriMo – shutdown, cooldown, depressurize

May 1, 2017

Who gets to write the poetry,
that is, the first-hand account,
for what it’s worth, describing
the next nuclear holocaust?

I studied the ethical and strategic
dimensions of the last one at Army
War College. I confess it was neither
poetic nor convincing and perhaps

the world would be much better off
if soldiers and diplomats studied
peace more and war a whole lot less.
But back to the questions at hand.

How long does it take, post-delivery,
for the ashes, debris, and remains
to cool enough for the victor
to march in and measure it all,

to assess the damage accurately?
for the searing heat to dissipate,
for the bright flash of light
to soften to a gentle glow?

from the archives – poems from previous April 30ths

April 30, 2013

we will write these poems
until we have breathed
our last, final breath

And then our poems will
read themselves out loud
for your ears to hear

I am missing you –

we turn our love
on and off
like a broken faucet:
an old fashioned fixture
with separate taps
for hot and cold –

nothing happens today
when I open the valve.
Did we forget to pay
the water bill?
I sit and wait
at the bottom
of the sink –
one drop of hot
or cold would do –

one drop would do:

I am missing you.

NaPoWriMo 2013
was a fabulous experience.  
So many new friends,
so many old friends with whom
I had never shared this love.  
Through poetry,
we have all shared
in the transformative
power of language,
and in some measure,
big or small in proportion
to our investment.
And this sharing
has transformed us, ourselves,
as we have transformed words,
shaped by rhythms,
to express our inmost thoughts.  
All that’s left is to say thank you.  
Thank you all. 


April 30, 2014

I needed to clear my mind
so I wrote a poem
some refuge from the daily grind
so I wrote a poem

My bees were in a tizzy
So I wrote a poem
I was feeling a little dizzy
until I wrote a poem

The skies were looking cloudy
before I wrote a poem
the winds were acting rowdy
so I wrote a poem

The rain was getting heavy
until I wrote a poem
My palms were cold and sweaty
and then I wrote a poem

This month has reached its end
so I’m writing a poem
There’s lots of news to send
so I’m writing a poem.


April 30, 2015 – every shade of green

every shade of green, it seems,
displays itself upon the hills
that fill the skies encircling my home –
when I arrived December’s days
were short, its nights were long –
these hills were grey and brown –

and sad, a bit, but I was told
that green, in Spring, would overtake,
outstrip Winter’s darkness, and the hills
would put on green – from the bottom
to the top – in stages and layers –
like stockings, thick socks for a frosty night.

and so, in streaks and patches to the top,
100 shades of green now fill the skies.


April 30, 2016

A translation – Portuguese (thanks to Dona Maria’s verb book & help from my Filomena)

através das palavras arrumadas
que surgem de um espaço interior –
repelimos as fronteiras, os contornos
de caos, de desordem,
e preservamos um mundo –
um mundo à parte que escolhemos –
que reflete a nossa paz interior.

English (original, from postcard poetry month, 2014)

through ordered words
that arise from a space within –
we push back the outer margins
of chaos, of disorder,
and preserve a world –
a separate world we choose –
that reflects our inner peace.

#NaPoWriMo 2017 April 30 – repetition

April 30, 2017 – repetition

I wasn’t invited to the White House
Correspondents’ Dinner last night.
It happens every year. Too bad.
They could have used my home-spun poetry
to lift the gloom. I’ll watch the video
or read the transcript later because
the press will surely fuck it up.
Maybe next year poets will be invited.

Anyway, there are more important
things to ponder. Things that also
repeat themselves. Like NaPoWriMo.
It’s my fifth year of observance,
of setting aside one month of daily
writing and blog posting, of poetry
production, of discipline and focus.
Over and over each day for 30 days.

It’s like fasting during Ramadhan,
one month of daily concentration
to set the rest of your year on
a righteous poetic path, a trajectory,
sort of. And it doesn’t really matter
what you do with the poems later,
if you revise them for possible
publication, or if you just let them
sit in a computer file until next year.

“If the song were sweet and helped
a soul, what matter the singer’s name?
The work was in the song itself
and not in the world’s acclaim.”
So said my fifth grade teacher.
I think she was a poet in disguise.

#NaPoWriMo 2017 April 29 – free association poem

Favorite poem: We Wear the Mask, Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Word (noun) chosen: “mask”

There are so many masks
available and so many
reasons to wear them.

I suppose if you wear
a mask long enough,
you forget what your
true face really looks like.
And beyond a certain point
it may not even matter.

The mask that conceals
your face can also protect it.
The mask that accentuates
feelings can also sublimate
the same feelings.

A painting or a portrait
of a mask might be
an interesting thing –
a second-order derivative,
sort of, of the original.

Picasso, a Spaniard,
painted African masks.
Was he modeling or just
imagining what lied underneath?