May 182013

It has been a very long time since I posted a Sunday Poem. I am about to get on another airplane in the morning, so I am posting it a day early.

This one’s bones came to me on a return flight from up the California coast, seeing the marine layer hovering at the edge of the ocean. It sat tall, far taller than any of the hills or cliffs. It looked a cliff itself, a glacier, maybe The Wall from Game of Thrones, overhanging the land. It looked like a shoreline in an inverted world where everything we are was lost in the dark except the little twinkling lights.

Seeing the clouds as an ocean is hardly new, of course, but it stuck with me as we descended. I thought about the liminal perspective a plane affords, an upbringing affords, and recited phrases to myself, trying to commit them to memory before they darted away like nervous fish. It has seen minimal revision from that version, scribbled onto an iPad in the airport parking lot.

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Jan 042009

Between Left 4 Dead, and The Last Guy, I think something got into my head. 😉

Since the Zombies Came

Since the zombies came, you can’t get decent sushi;
Zombie sludge, it spoils fish like nothing doing.
And all the second hand stores, they had to close up shop…
Stains just don’t wash out the way they used to, do they?

Stuff that’s better – well, the horror flicks, of course. Duh.
Extras just show up. And don’t need paid, or credit.
Watch at home, though! Darkened cineplexes…
Real bad news. Though crowds are thinner at the malls now.

‘Sides, the zombies, mostly peaceful, right? Like yoga,
Tai chi, meditation, all that shit. OMMMM, then
Nom nom BRAAAIIIINS. They mostly stand and stare in corners
Seeing into places we cannot with jelly

Eyes and dreaming of the sushi and the clothes, the
Pay and credit, ordinary hungers (BRAAAIIIINS), good
Posture, faces still intact, more moods than one… sad.
Pity them; resent them, for the sushi’s sake.

Worse? It could be worse, sure. Aliens are worse, right?
Zombies get you, BRAAAIIIINS, you’re dead, undead, whatever.
Aliens, you live on screaming, tentacles in
Awkward places, slaved. I’d rather eat my friends, thanks.

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Nov 162008

…The highway between Kabul and Kandahar was supposed to be a success story. Completed in 2003, it has instead become a symbol of all that plagues Afghanistan: insecurity, corruption and the radical Islamic insurgency that feeds off both.

Aryn Baker, Time Magazine, Oct 31, 2008

“This is my road,” Saboor says: a dust
Track gone the long way through the desert rocks.

He drives the bus, two times a week, trusting
Life and face to dirt he smears across

His lips, a beard to baffle Taliban.
He wears mechanic’s clothes: a claim the road

Then makes on him, a thieving in the sand,
The way last week the robbers burst and stole

The crates with chickens, goats a-leash, the wealth
That masquerades as dirt itself, the greens.

I ask him, does he fear insurgent’s stealth,
The bark of guns, the bullet’s code, the dream,

When east Sarobi’s tea shops dish fruit cold and sweet,
Pomegranates, porcelain plates, nuts and honey treats,
The scent of lamb in stew, the simmering of the meat –

He shrugs. Stolid, fleet. He says, “This is my road.”
It is a dust track where the accent makes the meaning.

Sep 142008

I am here in Austin for AGDC, after a difficult day of travel. My last-ditch attempt to make it to Rudy’s for some BBQ before they closed missed by 20 minutes thanks to various flight delays. So here I sit with Sonic cherry limeade, melancholy, a Marriott substituting for a garret, to write a Sunday poem for you… 😉

When is a rhyme a rhyme? A pair of words
Vibrating twain and twin, a homonym
A scanty, scarcely fraction time, a blur
Of vowels assonancing on a whim…
Half verb, the penult, higher ante, quill
That sometimes speaks in halves and sometimes sprung,
And in the clumsy piling on of syll,
The ables and alliterate undone.
Is all it is the music? Nothing else
applies? The quatrain’s break, the plosive sound,
The prayer on the couplet’s open verse?
The sense of it, the consonance profound?
The algorithm elegant, the twinning still sublime,
Is it still a poem, if we forget to rhyme?

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