Tuesday, June 17, 2008

United Poets FTW

Yes! The poets' strike has, at long last, ended. Over the next few days, poets are expected to ratify a spanking new multi-year contract, capping poetry's longest & most contentious dispute in recent history. Details of the agreement are not available, but with the strike now over, proverbial experts are totaling the cost, though loss is inherently difficult to measure & estimates, given the nature of poetry, tend to skew hyperbolically.

I can now once again begin posting on this blog, which is a poetry blog, so the aforementioned strike explains the crickets you may have heard if you visited here of late.

What's new? I've begun revising my next book. If you've never arranged a book of poems, how can I explain the sheer sarcastic joy? If you're like me, you have my sympathy--a form of self-pity-- as you pore over your life's work, your own worst critic, slouching toward Bedlam.

Here are a couple of poems I'm considering including in my book. If you want to tell me what you think, I'm approximately 90% ears. I want your honest opinion, but don't be a hater. I'm vulnerable these days.

GOODBY

Shiny heads of finishing nails
holding up the sky
we call stars, even though
we know many to be planets. It’s just

the way we are down here. High
in the apple tree, the world
you come from flickers
like a lightning bug. I mean

no disrespect to you or your
home. When you’re ready to
go back, you need
only climb up & pluck

your fiery bug star from
the dark leaves. Here’s a jar
to keep it in which will trim
light years from your trip.

I’ve poked holes
in the lid big enough to fly
a spaceship through,
see?

(as appeared in Words of Wisdom)


NIGHT SCHOOL

Norman forgot his math
book because when he went
to kiss his wife goodby, he found
a blue Post-it Note that said
something he didn't like

or understand, blocked
the image as he walked out, angry,
unlucky, possibly unloved, then had
to sit, gazing up at the black-
board sky, smudged

& smeared, beside a super-
annuated lady munching ginger-
snaps. Each cracked, faded
floor square represented
that awkward moment turning

in his head in which bifocals fell
from his striped shirt pocket. Even
without them, Norman saw
himself as the product of cheap
irony, the going rate, crawling

through blurry bits of lives
& spaces, the heel of an inattentive
loafer crushing the back
of his hand. Precisely what
asked the professor, propping

open a window with a rusty
abacus—is the hypotenuse
of the triangle opposed to
a lost sense of self-worth,
uh, Norman?
Crazy wind

whooshed papers throughout
the classroom, as a voice no one
recognized, not even Norman, whose
thoughts meandered, answered
with sputtering uncertainty—

1). the path to truth; 2). nothing
outside its linguistic form; 3). not
actual, the ultimate value cannot be
known; 4). anxiety, guilt, desire;
or 5). 7 1/2, same as my hat
.

(as appeared in Coal City Review)