Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Memoir Poem

I'm about to teach my Early Personal History
course again, where we read various memoirs
of childhood and the students write about
some aspect of their lives up to the age of 17.

Most of them write prose memoir directly, but
I'm open to any form, could be a play or a
series of poems or a movie script.

Most of my own poems are, in effect, memoir.
Here's one that has worked the same
material over the years, stretching the
details out at times, at other times
condensing...the latest try at a final


I never learned a merchant's trade
but dwelt instead as a favored guest
in the slow house of the words.

My laboring father lugged sacks of potatoes,
banana stalks heaved on either shoulder,
napped at the "Y," owned no car;
set me to shelling lima beans
from rotting pods, spoke to me
in all his hard life
maybe three or four times.

The children of workers, urged to get A's,
finish school with ink-stained fingers,
an early sensitivity lost,
those weekend days when I worked at our fruit store:
easeful melons, gorgeous eggplant,
before the words words words.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


A recent exchange-poem:


painting my altar red
promptly a fly makes a sticky landing

by pencil-tip: emergency rescue

O fly, buzzy creature neatly set free,
now you have red red feet

I too, I too have often escaped
feet red and sometimes burning
spared by pencil-tip release
for what purpose, what learning?

the shames of red: some I've known
bleeding their red to lightest pink
tiptoe in memory out of sight
seeking a long lost white

and she oh she who bared (so sweet)
her carapace,
her red red feet


Sunday, October 14, 2007


I was asked to write a poem for the opening of an
art show in town celebrating the year 1957.
Seemed like a good chance to be playful. Here it
is, down Memory Lane, in long lines that the
blog refuses to indent to show continuity,
but you can't have everything, or


All that concerned me in 1957 was my sex life,
and we don't want to go there.

Meanwhile that year
Liz Taylor shifted from one marriage to another;
a brave little black girl and eight friends
faced down slavering bigots in Little Rock,
and Mario A. Gianini died, the inventor of the
maraschino cherry.
(I googled to recapture the details).

Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize in 1957
while In Tulsa, Oklahoma, they buried a brand
new Chevy Belvedere in a time capsule,
an atomic-bomb-proof vault under the lawn
of the Tulsa County Courthouse
along with some gasoline in case that fuel would
have disappeared from human memory by 2007
when the car was found blessedly safe from the
bomb but ruined by water seepage
and having no need for the thoughtfully supplied

Oh, and on Saturday October 5th of that Wunderyahr,
in game three of the World Series, a Yankee rookie
named Kubek,
provided two home runs against the Braves,
great stuff for a rookie, Kubek in fact
declared Rookie of the Year, and where is he now?

Oh, wait, lest we forget, the day before Game Three
the Soviets scared us shitless by launching Sputnik
and sending the country into an overdrive of strive
that still shows no sign of abating to this very day.

I noted all these happenings and more, of course,
back in '57;
I reacted, I babbled, I opined,
but my real interest was my sex life, should I be
ashamed to tell you that?
Should I lie and say that Sputnik or Kubic or the
Nobel prize
took the dominant seat in my consciousness
a while?
Or Liz Taylor? Or the Chevy Belvedere?

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Priest, a Rabbi and a Poet Walk into a Novel...

I still write oh 4 or 5 poems a week at the
urging of various exchanges, but now,
composing a novel where one of the
characters is a poet, voila: a new opportunity.

Thought I'd post an example of this character's
pieces. It comes into the narrative to
amplify the notion that this loveable guy had a
penchant for "precocious deconstructivism,"
performing incomprehensibly even before



The oaken leaves attempt a take-off
at every flighty whim of the wind,
yet many's the twig won't let them go.

This serves as reminder for us that fat cats
can grow so clutchy-attached to themselves
they seldom will reach our enlightened ground.

Look how their rage sweeps them off at loose ends,
these Fat Cats, to cluster along a North Wall
where the chance remark of a Network Executive

stirs them to plunge with a lethal ice-dagger,
a jury-proof weapon that melts once it kills,
as (ha!) down here, we Others are basking

in kindlier weathers, with lucky toehold
on precincts made safe from intense foul play,
thus feeling no need to enhance our enchantments

as big pomposo clouds roll in
while sugar trees yield like affable uncles
and Eleanora unbuttons her shirt.