Friday, November 11, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Roland Barthes
By Carol Ann Davis

The boy with his mother in the photo,
the boy with riding boots and a long path behind him
leading to the seashore in fall,

whose legs tangle below the knee his mother's skirts—
wisteria stitched in into twill—he is in some difficulty
now that world is mostly gone. Everyone has a mother, sure.

But does everyone creep into the crook of her arm
as if to live there, does everyone,
arriving home in the afternoons, say
voila! l am here!

and from the other room know
her head is full of birds? I am saying know
with certainty. Trailing about each of us

the very possibility of evaporation. Surely not everyone
blooms inside such stillness. Paris can bustle all it wants.
The boy is no longer a photo—I should say

is no longer with his mother in the photo. The legend of the boy,
a man who's had something to say some years running
about the nature of perception

is quiet now. How alarming the empty house,
how nearly debilitating the checkout girl's train
of sable hair. Get up and lick the air—there's no one there

to tell him!—go back with your arms
full of apples. With your arms full of apples
find some reason within reason

to touch her.

Monday, April 4, 2011

check up

self-exam (my body is a cage)

Do this: take two fingers, push them into
the spot behind your ear, the spot

your skull drops off

into that valley of muscle
& nerve-this is the muscle that holds up

the skull, that nods the dumb bone
this way & that

when you think you under-
stand, when you think you get it-press deeper

into the gristle, find that little bundle of
nerves-the nerves

that make you blink at day-

light, that make your tongue slide in &
out when you think you're in

love, when you think you need a drink, touch
that spot as if you had an itch
as if it were a button, as if you were

an elevator, close your eyes &
listen, please, close
your eyes-can you hear it? We think our souls live

in boxes, we think someone sits behind our eyes,
lording from his little throne, steering the fork to

the mouth, the mouth to the tit, we think hungry
children live in our bellies, clutching their empty

bowls as the food rains
down, we sometimes think we are those

hungry children, we think
we can think anything & it won't

matter, we think we can think cut out her tongue,
then ask her to sing

By Nick Flynn
from the captain asks for a show of hands

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Looking again and revising is what I'm about
this month. That's the work: to return again
and again and look and shape and rearrange
add subtract add back take away multiply
I've a plan and a list and folders so it's
happening it's spring and the typewriter
above is from Shakespeare & Co Paris
a little confessional of revision where
I'll go in my mind to finish what's been started.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


What Should We Do?
Gratefully, I acknowledged that my doubts had kept me from going all aswim in
contentment over such givenness as prevailed everywhere one turned.

Since everything had gotten so much worse,
I tried to take in at least some one thing
to make out how we came to where we were,
with the result that, on my walk that morning,
which I take solemnly every day, over toward the creek
that rises beyond the highway then disappears
into the forest behind us, to reemerge
two or three blocks away in tiny cataracts
beside a yellow house with a gazebo,
I resourcefully recollected that the French
garbage can sounds like a word for a tiny
blue iris a couple might name their daughter after,
so that when I tried to articulate that moment
in my semiyearly letter to my friend Marcel,
who lives near Montbourbier in the Dordogne,
with its otherworldly river and black cliffside,
I could not imagine how I would convey
with any force in his own vivacious tongue
that we had tumbled into the garbage can of history—
nous sommes tombés dans la poubelle de l'histoire
simply would not do—so I wrote instead
how my wife and I welcomed the news that our plan
to come over to search for leases with options to buy
would coincide with the birth of a new grandchild
who might look back on these as times of triumph,
with or without tumbrels rumbling in order to have it.

By michael heffernan

Monday, March 14, 2011


Staff Sgt. Metz

Metz is alive for now, standing in line
at the airport Starbucks in his camo gear
and buzz cut, his beautiful new
camel-colored suede boots. His hands
are thick-veined. The good blood
still flows through, given an extra surge
when he slurps his latte, a fleck of foam
caught on his bottom lip.

I can see into the canal in his right ear,
a narrow darkness spiraling deep inside his head
toward the place of dreaming and fractions,
ponds of quiet thought.

In the sixties my brother left for Vietnam,
a war no one understood, and I hated him for it.
When my boyfriend was drafted I made a vow
to write a letter every day, and then broke it.
I was a girl torn between love and the idea of love.
I burned their letters in the metal trash bin
behind the broken fence. It was the summer of love
and I wore nothing under my cotton vest,
my Mexican skirt.

I see Metz later, outside baggage claim,
hunched over a cigarette, mumbling
into his cell phone. He's more real to me now
than my brother was to me then, his big eyes
darting from car to car as they pass.
I watch him breathe into his hands.

I don't believe in anything anymore:
god, country, money or love.
All that matters to me now
is his life, the body so perfectly made,
mysterious in its workings, its oiled
and moving parts, the whole of him
standing up and raising one arm
to hail a bus, his legs pulling him forward,
all muscle and sinew and living gristle,
the countless bones of his foot trapped in his boot,
stepping off the red curb.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


When I'm like zig zagging among stuff
and I can't find things in which pile
where/ on the desk, in the kitchen,
bed table/ car/ some place/
the work station above is what I yearn
for, with lots of drawers and com-
partments for different sized papers,
notebooks, postcards and photos,
binders, flashdrives whatever,
this man imagined it/a data-managing
collecting searching device/container
personal? cultural? whatever, could such
a desk? workstation? help me
be more organized, no doubt, my
system now is broken file cabinets
and canvas bags, and thank goodness
for the canvas bag, the various colors,
designs and causes enable my monkey mind
to recall oh yes, that's the paperwork
for blah/blah But I dilly dally now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Last year I helped put together an exhibition of writing
and art. One of the writers I solicited was Nick Flynn.
I've long admired his work -- poetry, memoir. He wrote
the poem hello, birdy based on the Motherwell print
above. And now that poem is included in his new
collection, The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands.
I'm reading this book now. It's a collision of forms,
voices and images. It has some stuff to show me,
not only in the meanings but in its architecture.

How the book and the work are made and then
I like the changes he made in the two versions.
The note card image is my fiddling by writing
his poem.

Here's another poem from the book.

haiku (failed)

The thin thread that hold us here, tethered /or maybe tied, together,
what / do you call it -- telephone? horizon? song? Listen / to yourself
sing, We are all god's children / we are all gods, we walk the earth /
sometimes, two sails inside us sometimes / beating, our bodies the
bottle, a ship inside each / until one day, for no reason, it sails --
hello? / damn phone -- until one day it sails / out of sight, until one
day it cuts out of / earshot, bye-bye muttered into your cupped palm,
bye-bye / boat, bye-bye rain -- Look / maybe this is the place we've been /
waiting for, maybe this place / is the day, inside us, inside each /
corpuscle, the day, that day, everyday is / inside, my body, your body,
everyday is / this thread, everyday you said, come / get me, everyday
you said, it's been way too long / you said, bye-bye, bye-bye, not a day /
went by, the thin, the thread, so thin, this thread, are you still / here,
is it still, your heart, is it well?

Monday, February 21, 2011


Sorrow, with Some Eye Contact

Mostly you just disappear. When I don't see you dead
I know you're alive, I can see you by the clothes you're wearing,

by your boot print on the unloved grass.
We make an ugly street ugly, a giant room stripped,

its high wood beams and bed big enough for six of me
or three of us. You swear we have no roof.

One morning we counted chickens
and ate their eggs for breakfast. We played with hats.

I think I thought your weight was on me,
but you were vanishing, even as you sculpted us from clay.

Someone has shown up for me, I sense a chariot,
the sky is preparing to rain on everything.

We forgot to put the doves away.
I can barely see you. I think someone has shown up for me,

can you see headlights? Hear footsteps?
Some remember my snatching an outstretched hand.

And in a room of rafters you do what must be done,
under moonlight, though it's days before you are found,

chickens gone, doves in trees, my bust smashed and mouth
punched in so its grin runs into an eye, winking.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

ghost moon

It's on the way, I tell you I smelled the mud
the melt, the thaw. Spring is out there
tonight behind the moon. Go now.

Friday, January 28, 2011

In the Room of Glass Breasts

Around each word we're hearing,
there spins an original flame;
the unborn wait in a circle of commas,
upright robins wheel to Wheeler
& termites with arms in their heads
dig under the chairs—

It is impossible to describe the world;
that's why you get so sleepy listening to poetry.
The writer skates but spring takes
the gold (
ooo don't let her fall in sequins)—dusk
buzzes in its meaning kit...

maybe you drank too much but that's not it:
the sexy cadence puzzled everyone.
You were drawn to poetry by something nothing
satisfies but poetry: boundless sensation,
an abstract tone—
then one day, two normal words
had made you weep:
Unreal...City.... Not
mostly; mostly they didn't make you weep, but still:
Unreal... (then that big pause:)...
City.... Look at that slumped
italic guy over there, waiting to be in a stanza:
Sat low our lord of literature
for he was very tired

Outside the room, the spell ends,
the vowel of an owl/the owl of a vowel
dives onto a warm body, the ruined gardens
of the state, tended by the great dead—
You were called by a silence you can't understand.
You're grown up now. You can read all night
if you want in the bride's bed—

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The brain is on my mind. Trauma and otherwise.
Saw this movie coincidently last night. Go see it.
Netflix it if possible or whatever. Weirdly wonderful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tucson/my brother's brain

The past few days I've been thinking alot about Tucson,
the city where my grandparents, cousins
and other family have lived.
About the saguaro cactus, Mt. Lemmon hummingbirds
and the White Dove of the Desert,
Mission San Xavier del Bac. My grandfather sketched
and painted the church throughout his life.
My grandmother's piano music, the quaver of her voice
as she sang Alice Blue Gown. Her guest room where I
stayed for awhile after leaving college.
The bar downtown where my cowboy uncle
treated me and my friend to whiskey shots.
The Medical Center, where my brother's
life was saved after the accident
that left part of his brain on a pavement
outside the university's football stadium.
Perhaps it's Tucson that bears some
responsibility for my turning to poetry.
After my brother's accident, I struggled
with the idea of plot.
When the fraternity brothers overstuffed
their cannon at game's end so that it
exploded and shattered, shrapnel
tearing into my brother's brain,
the randomness/ its aftermath/ left me unable
to see story. The construction of a novel,
which I'd thought a calling, seemed impossible.
Then stumbling into poetry, the comfort/excitement
in poets like Olds and Graham.
Why worry about storyline, character development,
cause-effect. Poems could be a container
for the non sequitur fragment,
the fracturing of narrative and family.
How incredible to shed those constraints,
which I wasn't much good at anyway.
My ties to the city are mostly gone,
as relatives have died or moved. I haven't visited
Tucson in years. The last time was with my own
young family. There were bees and big dogs
at my aunt's house. My grandmother sang
to us. The downtown was faded. New
developments and mini malls
sprawling/crowding the cactus, coyotes and
road runners. From Tucson, we headed north
to Phoenix and the Grand Canyon, the Painted
Desert and petrified forest, to Flagstaff and
Lake Powell, and Sedona. We stopped at Orabi
where I bought a pair of silver earrings that had
chips of coral in their watery design.
This isn't in order. I don't recall the map
or how we drove. The kids were in the back
of the small rental separated
by a cooler of food and we drove through high
desert country, went fishing and hiking,
spit into the Grand Canyon, headed back
to Tucson before flying east.
I'm not saying anything about the shooter
and what he did and Tucson and I'm not
connecting my brother's accident
to why I write poetry, which is as much
about lack of endurance as it
is about Tucson or the ocean and how
I'm distractable. Plus I like words more
than sentences sometimes.
There's no narrative thread here.
You know that.