"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The hero fantasy

Day Thirty: Patchwork poetry - piecing together a line or phrase from each of my last 29 poems, which I think is a very fitting way to end the month.

Conspirators abound, and history
ties their black hearts together.
There is a world behind the glass,
all this fullness of thought,
comfort in the shade of an old pine
and loophole avoidance.
We hear it through the walls, so dry and thin,
there, something dying,
emptying into an ocean.
Where did the first flake fall?
And what, then, is the worth
of an empty pair of shoes?
Now the divine is real -
the grandest mystery borne
in the arms of lovers or
the mouths of scholars.
We have considered following regulations
and posting a sign,
a ceremonial decapitation,
a small scandal, an attack plan,
an ocean of usable air.
At the scene of a murder,
hunger motivates too strongly,
toxic and withering,
as bursts of exhaust roast the air.
There is no art in this,
the drowning of a man,
a slurry of missed opportunity
too far from the sun, and too late
to turn and fly back.
I tread lightly in the sunlight,
a mess of scar tissue and bloody forgetfulness.
I have never fought the urge to animate the dead
(the flames reach out to teach them)
or to break our glass house.
When the screen goes dark,
we see ourselves in true light,
broken in, like old leather.
It's a great deal, you know.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Sufan Stevens, Casimir Pulaski Day

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Day Twenty-Nine: Only one more left.

There is no art in this,
the drowning of a man.
The ripples that stretch out
reach nothing, no rescue
and no dry land nearby.
The hands that hold him down
belong to no one soul,
but the whole consciousness
of some new, imagined
group of dark oppressors.
It is too bad, really,
that he had been hoping
for such a sorry end.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Grizzly Bear, About Face

Monday, April 28, 2014

Extremist sonnet

Day Twenty-Eight: I really liked the curtal sonnet from the other day, so I'm doing another, with a slightly different rhyme scheme. Yay poetry!

Two fires have been lit, both roaring now.
Between them stand two children, born as friends.
The flames reach out to teach them, show them how
One day they each will be the other's end.
Each child receives a spear, some sharpened bough,
The other's dastardly attacks to fend.

The children hold their weapons, purpose clear,
But cannot comprehend how this could be.
"That's him, my dear friend, whom I hold most dear!"
But the flames burn hotter, force them to see:
          "He is not the same."

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Tallest Man on Earth, King of Spain

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Day Twenty-Seven: Today the prompt is ACTUALLY a picture prompt, and not just me being lazy.

photo by Jean-Baptiste Sinniger
It's a great deal, you know.
Trust me - I'm not a doctor,
but I'm even more powerful.

You'll feel the value right away,
and I'll stand to profit even more.
Just scan that bar code here,

and you'll fit right in, I promise.
We're a very welcoming group,
so long as you've already

done the required shopping.
Just keep in mind that any doubts
are a sign of your own corruption,

not a flaw in the system, of course,
because the system is without flaw,
from my flawless point of view.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Maps & Atlases, The Charm

Enlightenment sonnet

Day Twenty-Six (late): Writing a curtal sonnet, like this one.

We hear it through the walls, so dry and thin,
The universe expanding from within.
Until the day it drags us from this place,
We'll stay and warm the air that is our space -
To understand the power of our thoughts
It holds us in and ties us up in knots.

Although we're forced to stare, to know, to see,
So little makes it through - our minds, they flee.
And often do we hold the softest things
While, slyly, they betray us, tie our strings,
          Keep us contained.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Parov Stelar, Catgroove

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The trouble with memory

Day Twenty-Five (late): Write an anaphora - a poem that begins each line with the same phrase.

His hands were broken in, like old leather.
His hands were always in motion, the wings of a hummingbird,
beating, rhythmic.
His hands were empty, non-threatening.
His hands were frantic, like something had been taken from him.
His hands were outstretched, fingers pointing:

There, he said, and pointed to his arm.
There, he said, is where the blood will not come off
There, he said, and pointed to his neck.
There, he said, is where the blood will not come off.
There, he said, and put a finger to his temple.
There, he said, is where she will not come out.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Amerigo Gazaway, Breakadawn

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Day Twenty-Four: Writing a poem about masonry/architecture/etc.

There is something to be said
for the speed with which
they've torn down the pyramid.

First, the top came off,
a ceremonial decapitation,
and the rocks that fell
tumbled onto the heads
of those who built it.

The next few layers of stone
got nervous, shaking from impact,
recognizing the weight
and the consequences
that now rested on their shoulders.

What would change next?

Which cornerstone would give, first?
Which vital foundation
was due to crack, tear apart
like wood splintering into shreds?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Temples, Shelter Song


Day Twenty-Three (late): Picture!

photo by Gregory Halpern
Apart from the coursing traffic, this street has been quiet for some time.
Bursts of exhaust roast the air, keep that pesky ozone in check.
Cars drift aimlessly from one sidewalk to another, uninterested.
Drab as it may be, the birds are still excitable, hooting enthusiastically.
Zoology was never a hobby of mine - they are inconceivably bothersome.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
John Grant, GMF

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Day Twenty-Two (late): Writing a riff on Arthur Sze's Here.

There eyes water in front of a screen.
There the morning light arrives too early.
There a flock - no, a pack - a pack of birds sounds angrily.
There a great distance.
There a need for a new bridge, something healthy and
        safely suspended above the fray.
There a great fire.
There something else too hot, drowning.
There something dying, emptying into an ocean.
There an open wound.
There a promise.
There a series of broken bones.
There retribution, justification yet unclear.
There a man who has yet to find his way, and yet he
        searches in the dark.
There the final hour.
There the clock that keeps it.
There its dead batteries.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Staves, Pay Us No Mind

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A dagger to the heart of the city

Day Twenty-One (late): Writing a poem in the style of the New York School.

You come to my mind, then,
as the air in midtown -
toxic and withering,
filled with too many consequences,
too many wrong turns,
and not enough choices.
A death in the family,
and some wonderful rebirth -
trapped in the monotony
of rush hour traffic
and screeching brake pads -
the Columbus Circle of life.
And it has always been official,
not a chance, not a doubt.
Not a second before the lights
all turned to bloody red.
Not a second for me to think,
"Well, maybe, just maybe..."

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Bombay Bicycle Club, Leaving Blues


Day Twenty (late): Catch-up haiku!

The depth of our faith
is interesting, in a
broken kind of way.

We have considered
following regulations
and posting a sign.

Just try diving in,
but please do not crash your head
into the bottom.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Yasiin Gaye, Inner City Breathin'

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Atlantic turkey wing

Day Nineteen: Pretty interesting - use one of the seashell names here as inspiration for a poem. The one I picked is in the title. Seems like a pretty ridiculous name for a seashell, which, I think, is why I like it so much.

It isn't snowing anymore,
but the cold still creeps in
through the windows,
especially the ones that have
been in need of new insulation
for the past several holidays.

We can feel it prickling our skin,
drifting through our pores and then
pulling them out so our arms
look like vast, dune-pocked beaches.
The meal rests anxiously on the table,
calling quietly out to our eyes.

We're lucky in this family,
to be so unconcerned, so nontrivial,
to have an understanding and
a firm grip on what stands tallest.
No desire to fly away, not now -
hunger motivates too strongly.

Quick Links and such.

Randomly found this excellent poem by Mark Cugini.

Zach has kept it going in this very honest short poem.
And this excellent one - he's good, folks.

Leonard wrote another good one, as well.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Shad, Stylin'

Friday, April 18, 2014

The newsroom strikes again

Day Eighteen: Just something that came to mind.

Trapped inside the glass,
a bullpen so easily broken
and yet -
Work now means nothing,
the angry voice on the phone
is nothing but a buzzing lie,
trying so hard to convince us
that there is something,
out there besides our truth.
This is our tragic present,
the state we exist in which
the entire world is looking in
and we are looking out and
we want nothing more than
for them all to walk in,
to throw keyboards and mice
like they were stones,
break our glass house and
let us live again.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Common, Watermelon

Thursday, April 17, 2014

All part of the job

Day Seventeen: Don't know what this is about.

At the scene of a murder I
cross my I's and dot my T's
and then I can't tell any of them
apart in the report I'm trying
to compose while my idiot partner
mumbles in my ear, his coffee-
breath flowing in the wind like
radioactive isotopes that won't
dissipate for another few half-lives,
something like months or years,
so until then I am writing incorrect
letters on my clipboard and he
is crinkling his nose and saying
something about "symbology"
and then I am not writing at all,
I am picturing Willem Dafoe
standing on a bloodstained, white
wraparound couch, mocking him.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Passion Pit, Carried Away

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A hard day's work

Still Day Sixteen: DOUBLE POST. OH MAN.

Can we manufacture potential?
We would come home every day,
eyes and ears weary from
too many lights and sounds.
We would discard our dirty clothes
and wash our hands for dinner,
tiny, leftover bits of potential
drifting down the drain
in a slurry of missed opportunity.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Kendrick Lamar, A.D.H.D.

Whatever you need to tell yourself

Day Sixteen: Combining the prompt, which is to write every line as a lie, and Three Word Wednesday (which I haven't done in ages). The words are animate, impassioned and pervert.

I have never let money
pervert my decision-making.

I am far too moral for that.
I have never felt the desire

to scream loudly from a rooftop,
to mock those I disagree with.

I am far too understanding for that.
I have never been so impassioned

that I almost ruined a relationship -
that would mean I argued against

my better judgement, which I also
would never, ever do, since judgement

is an unquestionable strength of mine.
I am far too reasonable for that.

I have never fought the urge to
animate the dead, to bring them back

for a good slap in the face, to ask,
how they could justify leaving the world

in such disorder? My perspective is
much too realistic for such trivialities.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Yasiin Gaye, Peculiar Mathematics
(mashup of Mos and Marvin - spectacular)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Day Fifteen: Using yesterday's prompt, which was to write each line as a question, except the last.

Where did the first flake fall?
What was it made of?
Who caught it on their tongue?
Did they yell?
Did they vomit?
What new flavor did they discover?
Did they write it down?
Is there a recipe we can follow?
Could we recreate the magic?
Would we want to?
Are there any strings to grasp at?
What dangling beauty can we pull down?
And how to preserve it?
How to keep it clean, keep it safe?

The chemicals blend just enough to mask the taste.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Pharoahe Monch & Black Thought, Rapid Eye Movement

Monday, April 14, 2014

Counterpoints, ten paces, dawn

Day Fourteen: Another self-appointed picture prompt.

photo by Tom Hoying
There's a blank stare across the field,
drilled deep and left as a cavity, black
pits or something else just as ominous.

She brought him here for a reason,
and as of yet he is still too afraid to ask,

what will signal the depth of her anger?

Their silence has remained vast, unbroken,
yards of quiet, empty space between them

and an ocean of usable air - it has become
a question of, who will take advantage first?
Now that the requisite number of paces

has been reached, and the fog has lifted
from the frozen, crunching grass beneath

their feet, whose gunshot will ring loudest?

Quick Links, NaPoWriMo edition.

Zach - you killed it with this one, my friend.

An amusing noun-switch poem from Leonard.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Two Door Cinema Club, Something Good Can Work

Sunday, April 13, 2014

(Un)certain terms

Day Thirteen: Sad but true.

I don't daydream anymore.
My mind craves the blank
spaces between moments
of stress and high-impact
nonsense. My thought
processes feel like a sad
series of arthritic joints,
cartilage worn away - now
just a mess of scar tissue
and bloody forgetfulness.
Something is most certainly
missing. Something I had
once, something I still need,
something fanatical and
fantastic and horribly simple.
And something so easily
retrieved, if I could only
find the time. It would be
as elementary as closing the
rubber-fisted handles of a
pair of bolt-cutters, hearing
the padlock bounce angrily
to the ground and knowing
I'm back where I belong.
If only I could find the time.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Postal Service, Such Great Heights

Saturday, April 12, 2014

At the end of winter

Day Twelve: No prompt. Just poem.

Two chairs sit by the pond.
One has been flipped over,
used improperly and left as
evidence, obstinate green paint
deeply conspicuous against
the melting spring snow.

Two ducks sit by the pond.
They were fooled by the early
approach of warm weather -
now they find themselves
in limbo. Too far from the sun,
too late to turn and fly back.

Two trees fell into the pond.
Their roots reach out from the ice
like tiny, crippled fingers, tortured
by the pain of the freezing cold.
They'll sit and rot until summer.
No use for wet wood in a fire.

One person walks by the pond.
She stops and rights the toppled
chair, agitating the ducks. They
make angry noises and waddle
to the far side. She sits in the chair
and lets their racket fade to static.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fast and blank

Day Eleven: Using another prompt from the Found Poetry Review: univocalism. This means the poem can only use one vowel throughout.

Afar and always happy -
a small scandal, an attack plan.

A walk far away, a brass champ,

smart and a bar apart - warm scars
grasp back at stark shards, all sparks.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Shins, Australia

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Knowledge of the system

Day Ten: Today's prompt is weird, so I found another one I liked better. I'll be writing a "snowball," which requires the first word to have only one letter, the second two, the third three, and so on. This one is quite good.


Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Local Natives, Breakers

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Postcards from Italy

Day Nine: Take any randomized playlist and use five consecutive song titles in a poem.

She sent the family
postcards from Italy
to tell us how well
she was doing, how many
people she had met.

She wrote us about
the comfort she found in
the shade of an old pine,
one that grew outside the
window of the house
she lived in - how the
scent of the tree blossomed
in the midday heat. She
said it reminded her of
Chicago - picnics in the
forest preserve and the
speckling sunlight on the
wide-brimmed hats
Grandad used to wear.

She wrote us when she
was homesick, when she
wished she could get on
the next big jet plane
back to O'Hare, step off
into the sweet, doughy
scent of an Auntie Anne's,
cinnamon sugar coating
her grateful fingers and lips.
She wrote us to say
that she was coming home.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Beirut, Postcards From Italy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

If the sky could hear us

Day Eight: Rewriting another poem - If the ocean had a mouth, by Marie-Elizabeth Mali.

Would it listen, our screams
all hellfire and roaring,
our thoughts scattered
to the wind?

It would stay still, patient,
blink its eyes full of stars.
No one hears as much.

Would the sky ignore us,
leave us to our impunity?

Would it shroud itself
in the fog of a humid morning,
or would it come forth,
shining it's proudest blue
and ultraviolet torridity
to prove attentiveness?

What could we really say
to capture its recognition
when there is an entire planet
to give heed to?

All this fullness
of thought. Wide-eyed
lovers. Broken minds.

Within its clouds the frozen raindrops,
the potential of creation, shards of life,
anathema to those who cry out.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Step Brothers, More Wins

Monday, April 7, 2014

The museum

Day Seven: No prompt for me today. Just writing.

photo by Michael Rudd
There is a world behind the glass,
                                                      set apart,
                                                      left for us to question
as we run our hands down
the cold smoothness,
ponder the meaning of the streaks
we leave behind - oil and dirt,
something majestic like
a brand new work of art,
a masterpiece - bright canvas
and dark brushstrokes we will
hang up behind the glass,
                                                      set apart,
                                                      left for others to question.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Dag Savage, Van Gogh

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Day Six: The observational poem, written using verbs, nouns and adjectives you see looking out your window.

The grass is still damp
when I take thirteen steps
to ground level and smell
dinner simmering downstairs.
I tread lightly in the sunlight,
bereft of my memories,
for I have left them indoors.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Pusha T & Kendrick Lamar, Nosetalgia

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The bliss of modern construction

Day Five: The Golden Shovel. Basically, the last word of each line is a word from another poem, in order, so that you can read that other poem by going down each line of mine. You'll see what I mean. In this poem is the last stanza of W.H. Auden's As I Walked Out One Evening.

A roof has no concept of what rises above it,
and none of what happens below it, or what was
here before blueprints, when nature's hour was late,
when men put wood and brick together in the late
hours of summer, when the clouds grew colder in
the night skies of the northeastern lands. The
roof has no concept of what it hides in the evening,
what the human eye yearns to understand: The
grandest mystery borne in the arms of lovers
or the mouths of scholars. What, really, do they
know? They can tell us nothing about when we were
but an idea in the mind of a builder, a thought long gone.

A street has no concept of what passes upon it, the
usual traffic, speeding up and slowing down, racing clocks
to a deadline, to a delivery. It would be no better had
we learned from the past, for the past had ceased
to teach us anything when we stopped listening. Their
arguments and justifications count for nothing, chiming
bells in a city overrun with mechanical noises, and
the street is oblivious to this as well. Nor does it know the
taste of blood that has spilled upon it, drops of deep
hatred that have fallen here and collected in a swollen river
of interrupted dreams. The street doesn't know who ran
and left muddy footprints on it while the sky turned on.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Ab-Soul & Kendrick Lamar, ILLuminate

Friday, April 4, 2014

I live in the summer

Day Four: Writing a "lune." It's a version of a haiku that counts words instead of syllables, using 3/5/3 construction.

When the screen
goes dark, we see ourselves
in true light.

A binge session
no less dangerous than one
of hard drugs.

Addictive? Of course,
and so easily accessed, too.
What a life.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Isaiah Rashad, Tranquility

Thursday, April 3, 2014

War is over

Day Three: Skipping the prompt - writing what came to me this morning.

It's the obstinance of a few that has brought us this far,
trapped between a reprehensible past and a bright future.

They've moved us to tears, those few, and our saltwater
mixes with the seas at our feet, a grand disappearance

and an even greater absence - each drop a great singularity.
There is a battle light that emanates from those living,

a signal to the stars that we are still here and improving,
reasons to spare us from the inevitable apocalypse.

Any who pray have found their solace here, at night,
draped in the comfort of the still air and the emptiness,

meanings bountiful in the occasional outburst of a cricket
or the delayed reaction of some far-off thundercloud.

And the rest? They, too, know peace - no longer
do they waver in their endorsement of the divine,

because now the divine is everywhere - because now,
the divine needs not be prayed to. Now the divine is real.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
White Denim, At Night In Dreams

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The death of the Hound of Ulster

Day Two: Write a poem based on myth - but not Greek or Roman. I chose CĂșchulainn, a hero of Irish mythology.

Conspirators abound, and their history
ties their black hearts together.
But who could blame them? Stories say
that the object of their vengeance
has no heart at all - they say he is
the embodiment of hell itself,
of a nature so driven by bloodlust
that his frenzy renders him a monster,
an artist of violence and rage.

Wood is tipped with iron, and each
is thrown with furious adrenaline,
born in the hatred of a pained heart.
The raven flies overhead, and observes
the advance of death upon the warrior,
a man alone at the fall - and when he
ties himself standing, the only honor left,
the blight of a bird alights on him,
and his enemies know he is truly dead.

Quick Links - to poetry, of course.

Leonard P. Wilson has jumped on the NaPoWriMo train, as well.

Zach has another excellent short poem.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Bombay Bicycle Club, Ivory & Gold

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NaPoWriMo begins again!

And we're off! The first prompt of the month is to write a poem based on a quote generated by The Bibliomancy Oracle. Here's what I got:

The shortest distance
between points A and B
has always been a gentle
tug of the heartstrings.

Those who know best
have endeavored, for ages,
to put them on a map,
to make them anatomy.

They will succeed,
someday - most certainly.
But until then, we each
question our own value.

What, then, is the worth
of an empty pair of shoes?
When, then, is the day
we all shall know fire?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Anti-Lilly & Phoniks, Blue In Green