Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Walking out

Backstage is such a hole compared to the house,
the lobby, the balcony, even the restroom—
dark corners, funny smells, greasepaint and mildew,
all the dust of theater ghosts left since the first curtain call.
Backstage thin hallways, no wider in places that your shoulders.
You stand sideways, back against the backside of the proscenium,
flat black and pocked plywood, looking fine on their side only.
Ropes, cables, counterweights, power cords smeared with oil—
you are no more than a prop yourself, standing there
in the slip of air between the wings passing time with the graffiti
marked high and low by generations of exuberant closing-night casts—
names that have gone now—I mean that have stayed—
while those who they belonged to... Maybe I can find someone I know.
Jack something. Jasper. Who’s that? Ellen Roseberg. Janice G-something.
James no last name. A lot of Ja- names in show biz. I’ve noticed that.
Jason Bostick. I wonder if he’s back here somewhere,
or in the greenroom over a border of bulbs around a mirror—
always operating at about 75% with the rest burnt, loose or missing—
the heat of the greenroom. As the audience settles itself, I remember
seeing Nora, Nora Ephron I want to say, but that couldn’t have been it—
she bent over and I looked right down her blouse. She seemed older
than I was at sixteen. Those tits. Even now. Looking down her shirt
and she didn’t know. And Jay opened the bathroom on Laura, peeing.
When she came out, he bounded up to make a joke of it.
“That or feel awkward for weeks,” he reasoned. He was right.
That time Frank Brady had me over to his house after a show
and laughed and said “Look at what my mom sent me!”
A diagram of a hemorrhoid. TMI. She must’ve sent it for a reason.
But I did the standard thing: switched the subject,
pretended it didn’t happen. I haven’t seen him in 25 years.
The last audience is seated. A change in the air echoes back here.
There’s the microphone, watercolor light, curtains. I’m not ready
in this tight black netherworld nowhere. They should make this place
like the entry to a slaughterhouse, like that autistic doctor did.
What’s-her-name. Funny name. Sojourner. Journey. Prentiss. Shirley.
How she designed slaughter plants so cows wouldn’t fear so much,
so they could be held kindly and go peaceful. Doctor Azure. Doctor Bliss.
Doctor Cradle. Doctor Donnybrook. The gates open ahead.
Light takes my face.
I’m on.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28, 2011

One week after the longest day
of this endless tragic year
I glance out back
at my budding summer garden
to discover the rain
playing a viola
hosting a surprise party
for the baffled world.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Solstice Prompt: Poem of Change

On this outstanding wheel-turning time of change, you are invited to write a poem of change, a solstice poem. What is at its greatest, most refulgent? What is turning inward?

This is a time of year known for midsummer celebrations across many faith walks, including celebrating the yin (with the turn toward the dark), bonfire jumping, first fruits, divination, and celebrations of the hearth.

What is changing in you? What are you celebrating?

Post labels: solstice, prompt, [poet's moniker]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lament of the Obese Wraith

Now that I'm dead I need more exercise.
Death strips you thin, they say, but they're dead wrong.
I roam back alleys, heavy with regret.

In my day men loved my supple lies,
my breasts like loaves of bread, my promises.
Wise men thought twice and gave me up for Lent.

Now I buckle sidewalks with my thighs,
trigger earthquakes, stagger like Queen Kong,
half her height and twice as corpulent.

An irate priest once tried to exorcise
my bloated presence from his parish yard.
I stuck in his gate 'til winter was half spent.

Greed transcends the grave, entices flies,
distends the ego, basks in disregard.
I haunt dark corridors, fat and out of breath.

Frieze in time

Frieze in time

Ah to smell the white sweet pea blossoms
in the cradle of civilization
rocked by the poetry of Hafiz.

& to wish on Delta trucks of hay
as they zoom through fields of tomato lies
on the 70 mph asphalt
as “heart of stone” plays bye byes.

& to seize the moment christ breathed his last
as you google the five greatest metaphors of all time
starting with “the right people on the bus”
that even the Sufis
do not frieze
in rhyme.

Green Haired Surfer (Catawamp)

Everything changed yesterday when I saw the surfer
Even keel on a hill with slope:
vibrant, bleached, soft green tresses

like kelp beds of meadow drawn
down the back ditch in wild array. She loped
on wheels, serene blesser.

The ocean of rasta moss was drawn
back loosely, her uphill float
an effortless glide the earth caresses.

Inspired, I imagined quitting, becoming an ocean outlaw
to flow through smooth terrains and sprout
locks like wildernesses.

My revery of soft foam crashes
against the tunnel of day job cloak.
I ponder a green freedom that reality distresses.

Peerless, ample surrender, undulant flashes
beckon as the mountain of suits gropes
for my throat. Only the growing earth gets me out of these messes.

Is it the ocean color or the serene stashes --
equilibrium of butte -- that in my heart stokes
what verdure expresses?

Everything changed yesterday when I saw
the green haired surfer. A moment became arctic, frozen,
in embodied growth. What senses

will that tidal rift awaken, gnashed
by the gravity well of two sheering continents, space stolen
from time, what bright, grass-colored lenses?

Or new eyes even? A waterworld mashes
in the orb of one eye-terrarium saved
by a momentary green-haired rider - I'll never know her name, what sends

her out on Friday night twilight, this merwoman who washes
across my awareness, the quake
of gentle green she condenses.

(If a song, the refrain...*)
Even suited, I will be this surfer. Dashing,
verdant Medusa uprising, like new continents shaking,
a mesmerizing body of peace.


* Note: Little sound file of the refrain...Newb at Garage Band, have to wait for it to start...

Friday, June 17, 2011

untitled (about what)

I’d like to welcome all things without names.
Not almond slivers, spring fever or motherboards.
Not baby’s breath, embouchure, heliofranticulating or stein lids.

But this poem isn’t a muster roll call, award pageant or paean.
It’s an open field of summer that barely contains its own accord.
It’s something like the unnamed soul of a fictive goat kid.

I want to invite not those things either but my own mind to the game
of conceiving what things might fall through a sky-lintelled undoor.
Try to describe in a teenager’s vocabulary the face of God.

Does everything called a dandelion look the same?
Please don’t label the line between the winter tree and the apple core.
The phenomena of names is only a grown-up cloud

that has insertions where some other welcome waterflame
verbing unaboutly holidays its last shardcords
(of deselected ancientless pluribus-tethered kiteydids).

Friday, June 10, 2011

untitled (adjustment)

After last Sunday’s memorial ritual,
only dance could release the enzymes
that turn grief into a citrusy meringue.

And 12 hours after that trance, my muscles
seized on the stillness of aftertimes,
stalwart through pain’s harangue.

This creaky morning I guessed 1997, fall,
as the time Zeda, my grandpa, lay supine,
his soles and my belly conversing in a language

invented mythic eras past. Breema, it’s called.
My wife-to-be demonstrated its inclines.
Zeda and I: a waterwheel in the Yangtze.

For 80 years, no message befell Zeda Paul,
but his body opened, proving simplicity sublime.
His form, the cello, and mine, the bow, sang.

Now with all those calendar grid lines fallen
and rigor mortifying the tissue that grips my spine,
Juliet’s dead mother and Zeda met in a tango,

came down in the veil at dawn’s inkling of pall.
Zeda bent to heal me, sighing a sign.
My vertebrae tapped a tambourine.

His presence tick-tocked craniosacral
equilibrium into my body as I slept in timeless
proximity to the true truth about the great ring.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Catawamp Form: Healing Poem

The body heals by degrees,
by flashing sunwise whorls and spirals.
The ocean of blood beats pulses of mending.

Tissue bridges are architect's decrees
with big bang energy in building gyres
as life rafts between catastrophe's sending.

Using tears what healing weaves;
can we stop the universe's fire?
Water's warmth carries originary blessing.

My shoulder is an ancient monument built by thieves.
They stole the night stars in choirs
by flood tide's rending.

My rotating sinew is cantilevered greed,
arc of galaxy arm collapsed to grasping desire
to hold canteloupe while bending.

Healing redraws creation's grief.
While throwing stars and eating constellations' flare
We receive the balm of forgiveness' tending.

It heals because of blueprints we retrieve
from ancient libraries carried in stars within DNA's lair,
where we read of matter's branching.

We heal because we remember and believe.
We take the galactic dare
to incarnate as water blossoms, dancing.

Prompt: Catawamp Poem Form and/or the concept of "Catawampus"

Here's a new poem form that came to me this morning. It's called a Catawamp.

A catawamp is a multiple-stanza poem. Each stanza has unique rhyme endings, let's call them A, B, and C (or it could also be A, B, C, and D), which appear in cascading sequence in each stanza. Each rhyme family, A, B, etc. has its own metaphor or body of metaphors it draws from that inform the content of each line A, B, C. No syllable constraints. The Catawamp is about change. It has a transformation point, or describes, within the often contrasting or elemental bodies of metaphors, a transformation. Often the rhyme scheme somewhat changes during or after the transformation in the poem to signify the transformation. (I'll respond with an example to make it easier to understand). Please write a Catawamp or otherwise frolic with the concept of mountain lions, wild animals, or things askew, as the term itself "catawampus" conveys...

Here's how Leif in Washington describes the meaning of catawampus, in case you'd either use the word itself as a prompt, or just because it's interesting to learn new things:

A "catawampus" can be a fierce, imaginary animal, the sort of vicious critter that jumps you in the woods shortly before you're never seen again. But "catawampus" can also mean "askew" or "out of whack," as in "Larry's elopement with Eloise knocked Cindy's wedding plans all catawampus." Neither meaning can be definitively traced, but "catawampus" in the eat-you-alive sense may well be a variant on the American folk term "catamount," short for "catamountain," or mountain lion.

The "askew" sense of "catawampus" is a real puzzler. The first element of the word, "cata," may be related to "cater," also found in the related word "catercorner" (or, as many folks know it, "cattycorner" or "kittycorner"). "Cater" in these words comes from the French "quatre," or "four," and "catercornered" originally just meant "four-cornered." Today "catercorner" means that two things are diagonally across from each other. The "wampus" part may have come from the Scots word "wampish," meaning "to wriggle or twist," which would certainly seem to fit with "catawampus" meaning "askew" or "crooked."
Prompt tags: poem, catawamp, [poet's moniker]

Picture Credit: Lion Cub by Beverly Joubert

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Natural Resource

I found a spark in the Virginia City cemetery

Mary Anne Sparks
in repose
in reprose

gold struck again
gold rush rebegins

the blog bleeps, I write
“will the cotton candy be replaced by water cannons?
“will the hills be torn athunder by torrents of water?”
to free little gold sparks to enrich the few
rewrite, repan, replay
a natural resource

them thar hills to be torn apart one last time
Mary Anne Sparks
will have to move forever

Friday, June 3, 2011

narrative nebulae

What precedes the start of a story arc?
A place devoid of heat, sound and motion,
a still space fraught with potential to spark.

With the house closed and the theater dark,
a bald bulb burns by no one’s attention.
This precedes the start of the story arc.

Then a door opens and light finds its mark.
Humors boil in dramatic reaction,
still spaces fraught with potential to spark.

Beginnings self-invent within each quark,
lightning-fired intrigues of excitation
that proceed to start every story arc.

Soon, there’s the amoeba, and then the shark,
and then the rise and collapse of nations,
still spaces fraught with potential to spark

A ship docks. A cloaked figure disembarks.
What was nothing is now expectation.
What precedes the start of a story arc?
A still space fraught with potential to spark.

Also note, my new performance is newly on YouTube!