Sunday, May 30, 2010

poem: after telling

twin sisters hall
flagrant endeavor

crowning princes right &

left behind the 8 ball,

django's liabilities on

the table, straining

the credulity of all

his charms, green

the shoulders rhymed

by the pleasures

of dissidence. this road

leads to dissipation

the prophetic mind

sarabande delineated

by costly relief:

afterrains, after

telling no one

of her fate, willing

the adamantine flavors

this coil, this

roundabout perseveration,

calmly mired, mirror seen

flowered shroud



Friday, May 28, 2010

poem: plenty save

vicar reruns,
the slithy hedge
feral implants
carving the neutral ground

out of plenty
save the day

(and carve it, too)
the giants will

have their every

before you can tender

your best offer:

creekside salvation

as an open book.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #216: Dragon

Been a while since I played with the Sunday Scribblers. The prompt is dragons. The first five lines are Tolkien's, included in the prompt.

[still in]

it does not do to

leave a dragon out

of your calculations
if you live near


or her, we should

make it clear

perhaps even

the occasional gender-

bending sky

lizard, oozing

perennial, drift-

dreaming its

way through

crust and frame,

consider Freddie,

accountant he,

ever lost in calculations,

save the one

misstep that took him

skyward, skyclad

(most ignoble fate) -

panthers stalked him

nightly, but

this calling card came

bright as noon

kettle on stove

marmalade warming

toes still in

slippers that fell into

pond as he,


surveyed the kingdoms

beneath his feet.



Found object in Nick Flynn's The Ticking is the Bomb: a prompt, from a piece of paper he found on the floor in a school hallway: All living things have shoulders. The only words on the discarded page. He tries to write a poem incorporating the line, then contends that the line - period - is the poem. He's probably right, but what the hey:

[blob & foot]

All living things have shoulders

Stentor, Blepharisma, Bursaria, Vorticella

Euglena & Volvox & rotifers

If you study pond water samples, you will see rotifers)
Proteus - that classic high school protozoan -

Four-year letterman, Beta Club,

Science Club VP

Shouldering up to the bar at

Day's end, Oasis

In the midst of brouhaha

Calcification yet a dream

Glory daze long past

The morning's vigils

The everdreams

Calling to blob

& foot & flagella

Heavy brooding through

The night's stem, till

Last call sounds

Like the rumble of time

in the axials &

mercy finds the near

& dear,

need & desire,

envy & want.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

una semana

Busy week, busy two days: week of senior finals, beginning of everyone else's, Baccalaureate ceremony last night, graduation this morning, and just back from a few of the graduation parties all around town. A bit tiring, but the blissful peace that descends after the final sprint of the semester plopped down like clockwork last night and on into the day.

The seniors graduating today came in as ninth graders the same year that I began teaching at the Instituto, so it felt as if we had made the journey together: they move on, while I'll continue the journey on with the next round of folks. The school is small enough that we all get to know each other, and the bonds are strong.

Two years ago, I was asked by the graduating seniors to give the faculty member's Baccalaureate address. It was quite an honor and I felt very blessed, but in truth, I knew those seniors much less than I know this graduating class. The speech I wrote was a kick to write and give, but looking back, it felt more like a speech from my head.

I was deeply honored to be asked by this class to give this year's Baccalaureate address. The gist of it poured out of me on one of my walks on the Tobin Trail a couple of weeks ago. Here it is. (The only change I've made is to use the initials of the two student poets whose poems I read.)

Gjeniale është përgjojnë

On behalf of the faculty, administration, and staff of the Winston School, and especially on behalf of the senior class advisors Mrs. Hope Britt, Mr. Michael Canales, and Dr. Chris Gamel, I offer greetings to Families and Friends, Honored Guests, Members of the Board, All Students, and of course to the glorious - and bodacious - graduating seniors of the Winston School San Antonio Class of 2010.

I have entitled this speech GENIUS IS LURKING, and I would like to start by reading some samples of the kind of genius I’m talking about—these are four short poems by two of our departing graduates. The first two are by LDM and the final two are by CC:

The Second Horseman is Red and Always Will Be

When Pablo Picasso
painted a depiction of an impaled horse
we called it “art”
We all grow out of it eventually.
Revolution is never on the lips of
dying men.
But, I’ll tell you a secret:
there are
atheists in foxholes.

The God Switch

Ecclesiastes 1 verse 9 says:
There is nothing new under the sun
Black velvet comes on wing
I had a dream that my hair was
Empty flasks
I brought the butterflies today
Brought the women too


[box children]

It’s much easier to raise a box child than an external child
They don’t sleep, eat, love, be loved, make love, poop or anything. They just stare at you.
I’m a satisfied customer of box children, I have 8 box children of my own and going strong.
That’s 1-800-box-kids.

[nautical nonsense]

Look up at the stars and what do you see
I see nothing but a lonely sky and dots
Making dimples in the starry black night
The ones who came before us made the stars
Made of torches that lit up the dark blue sky
Belts, dippers, and dragons in the sky; all I see is Mother
Earth trying to cry.

You see the kind of genius we’re up against here. Winston fairly oozes with genius, and it’s not just on the papers we read that blow us away: the genius lurking in Winston oozes on canvas, on film, in the music room, on the playing fields, in acting class, in math, history, in all the extraordinary ways in which you seniors perceive the world around you with new eyes, fresh eyes, the eyes of innovation.

As I think about you all going out into your new worlds beyond Winston, I have really only one fear: that you may have missed the point of your being here. Many of you came here initially in a broken or a wounded state, battered by schools filled with boxes in which you simply could not fit your extraordinary limbs. For many of you, once you got here, it felt like things got easier. You watched your grades go up. You felt yourself breathing again, living again, loving again.

If you think you thrived here because you think we babied you and spoon fed you and made things easier for you, then you missed the point of how we envision learning. When you arrived at our doorstep, we knew something about you that deep down you knew too, even though the Big Box schools may have done their best to fill your heads full of amnesia. When you walked in the door here, we knew this: yet another genius was lurking in our midst. And when we were at our best, we gave you the room and the time and the affirmation to resurrect yourself. We knew that, rather than yet another box, you needed a big wild landscape to explore, and that big wild landscape was you.

Now, don’t go staring at your GPAs and SAT and ACT scores to see if you can prove me wrong. Genius does not lurk in boxes and GPAs and standardized tests. It lurks in your hearts and your minds and your bellies. And even your fingers and your toes.

We all know the mantra here at Winston. Advocating for those minds that learn differently. I know that some of you wince at those words when you hear them: you think they’re a hedge. You think they’re a cheat, that somewhere in there is the notion that you might be “less than.” While you may joke about being a “Winston kid” and all that supposedly entails, I know that for some of you there’s a seed of doubt that this is all a scam, just another set of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Well, if you haven’t slain that doubt by now, then I’d say tonight is as good a time as any to put it to rest. Because I’ll let you in on something else: those of us who have worked with you through your time with us, all of us who have been mentored by you, do not stay at Winston to fix broken things. We’re there to watch you birth yourselves and startle us with your genius, wherever it may happen to bloom.

In truth, we do not JUST advocate for those minds that learn differently. We ALSO advocate for extraordinary minds and extraordinary hearts that teach us differently. And all of you have been our teachers.


Take your oozing lurking genius selves on out of here tonight and let the rest of the world see how it’s done. Teach them as you have taught us.

In closing, my buddy Bob Dylan called me this afternoon and asked that I pass this blessing on to you:

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young

Best wishes to all of you from all of us. And Peace.



mi ritrovai

I was plunked:

gadfly jitters, they

was swarmin the corpse

of our feast:

Noodletown ain't got

jitters in spirals,

they's the ones

with master plans,

5-year tooting,

scope and sequence

down Dante's dirty

dirt road; forget

the wood,

clearcut into

hellcat oblivion:

I was polite in

the old days,

now's I just

craters: it's all

in the synch,

all in

the run for cover.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

flash fiction


Premium unleaded, premium powered, she made her way to Culebra, said, "Let's build something together." He balked, of course: he'd seen el mariachi loco before; distaffed, it mattered not. Portland was in progress: there'd be time for that when the getting was good, or at least getting. Shamu along for the ride, sans trainer, may she rest in peace. Cetaceous vagabond’s got a lovely ring to it.

The river was rising. Not the downtown rinse bowl, jeweled green jade paste, no: the Frio, the underground jewel out west, spilling her banks, spilling the banks of everyone up and down the canyon. Word came to him late, as it will, and he blamed the chancery, fizzing pharmaceuticals, and the carrion downpour in May. It had been decades since the likes of Nadine in green pools, tiring in the green lines, the tender brown flesh beneath, and the tenderest white beneath all that. In his shirking days, he would have shirked his way with not a moment’s hesitation, grilling no further than the balanced hemispheres of his less than nautical brain. It was crying time in these days beyond the green line, and no amount of Brubeck, Walton, or Tyner was gonna stop the thrashing: it demanded a passel of self-examination he’d given up on shortly after she’d taken all the brown beneath that thin green line and left him gasping, for the not and the always and the never no mo’.

It was Hondo before they spoke, forty miles of hand surfing out the windows. The prospect of brother V’s barbecue pit and the angels in heaven under the shade and the wisp of a green line at the horizon . . . it all welled up inside him as he pulled into the icehouse on the corner of Gray and Tuttle. Seek and ye shall find; he’d been bled of that one for years. He turned corners yearning through oceans of time and found the green line fading, gone, impaled by desire still hunting.

“Here,” she said, at the eight mile crossing on the farm to market road. Irrigated rows of green corn bled into the horizon; she splashed barefoot down the sodden alleyways, leaving him to consider what else was left to him but decades more of seeing her recede into the mist. “Alone Together” sung in Carmen’s living room the night before, beyond the crowd, above the world, we’re not too proud—it stung him then and stung him now. She’d shed all her clothes by now except the thin green line, turned a face to him that he’d seen only once on the horizon of her, deep in those last days when loss had a sting that almost mimicked joy. Blood oranges, he’d wept beyond all the ropes of pity he could manage to find.

“You’re next!” she cried, and the ghost of him rose from behind the wheel, he felt the green lines upon himself now, the brown beneath the green, the tenderest white beneath the heart of him. His fingers sang in the green tips of the plants, his toes squished in the mud. He found her halfway down a row, the water burbling around her, spilling into the next row and the next and the next. He lay down in the row beside her, felt the tendrils of his roots grasping for more beneath the mud and watched as the green line dissolved in the sky above him and sailed away.


Friday, May 14, 2010

[cancelled checks]

chi omegas snowdrifting

anonymity spelled out in blue

wisping away

the favorable weather

cushioned by

fashionable storms

jungian dreams

of Saks and the Five & Dime

seaside, lakeside

tower in the background

CG filing for divorce

cooing his Freudian moves

that white queen

be his mostest girlie

inventions on the down low

he and Siggy were both

popping beyond their

limits, emperor & clown

each the other's choice

when it all fell boom.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

day in the life

[the quadratic life]

P eating a hamburger
10:09 am
it's my burger, sez E
what are you doing to that burger, P?
I'm trying to concentrate here
I can't concentrate without ketchup
my burger,
she sez,
is delightful.
You mean,
my burger is delighfuller,
sez E.
post burger, P is quiet as a mouse, a mousy P.



[civil strife]

worldwide pest control
how does your garden

washtubbed apple dumplings
all they little darlin's
smashmouth gumbo
carousing the plush
rimbaud in abyssinia
exiled by desire
for left
and over
child bride
hyena bride
slavish bride
he to her and backwards
this triumphant morn
the worldwide pests pest on
a vigorous melange
of carefree doom
they matter not as
we matter more
perhaps even most.
the hannahs of the world
press on, we shrivel,
the party answers
with their jumbo paper
clips, & the princes
with their henrys
& their bones
ask the creeper
one more time
just who be
the creepiest -
me or thee?


Sunday, May 09, 2010

dia de las madres: for Tina


mauve's green

green's mauve

3 falls:

from tyranny,

from memory,

from captivity,

into ardent fools


into coffee'd pools


alizarin crimson rounding the heart

of Gwyneth's plume,

gold in the sun-flecked corners

songold / marrygold

hazy sunflowers in hazy mist

sea line woman,

ocean bloom'd

spun through riverrun heron's blue

castaway chillun

gathered into

the dark


of Yemaya's kiss:

carnelian babies,

sapphire blissed.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

this ain't congress, i don't know what is . . .

library of congress

sugarland runners

in the rain no mo,

aftertimes splintering

the games we play,

pullin' the skiff,

she gonna have him:

the unnamed babies done gone,

found somebody new -

the proteges was domestic workers -

dinah did she ever.

the taking was pre-arranged

a fox, a fix, a fast time

Texas fiddlin'

a lot worse to give pleasure

a wilting moon

won't moan (if you do).

Brazoria's two white horses

gonna run with the wind, brother

Mr. Morganfield be most shy

on the Stovall & on

the fly,

by and by,

you know how it feel:

see line

see fine

see mine

see all down the lovely vine

that vine be fine

& you sho is mine

most lovely.


one word revolution: lashes


evering the detours

calming the fees

casting allure

down lengthy greens.

simple calculations,

this heart greener

than that

all the carp

you can eat


in the cesspools

of granted wheat.

walk miles

swim rivers

cloud mind

with all that

withers, i am seed

building seed

trampling seed

& i wander

the castled ways

seeding fire

in coffee eyes

in coffee ways

tearing down

the fear

in all the fearsome



Monday, May 03, 2010

one word residuals: president

newness of the new
samples new
the tasty mold
gathers all its
invention labeled as
Mr. Puffy
all stand up comic he
fashionably late
the party be over
they's cryin' in the streets
our gab be won the day
who's cryin' now
the party mends itself
old cake, musty mold
for the rest
if they be icin'
i ain't seen it.
has you?


Sunday, May 02, 2010

one word pando: detour

valvoline mamas,
casual wear,

fighting the best

of the beasties

in the walls

of Nepal,

sighting the jiggly

set, infiltrating

those at the Six:

you wondered

before the wonder

started, stranded

in the separation

between fools

& gnomes: take

your best shot,


the chocolate nudge


two flowers twined

& in their twining

twinned the aspen

spaces, all

the tender buttons

of their lateral