Month: April 2013

No ugly things, for Dinah P.


There is a hymn called
“I Love All Beauteous Things.”
I disagree.
What about
wolf spiders
marabou storks
most humans?

I love all things that manage
to emerge from the ruckus
of evolution
of that fateful race of sperm to egg
of the petty bigotry of mass media.

And while the tritone
has found respectability,
the lowly blobfish
remains a face only a mother could love.

Which is a start, and no small thing.


I made a brief list of sounds along this path,
the least of which is the crickle the dirt makes
as the sun lands on it.

There are tiny birds who flickle
from branch to branch saying “Psst! Psst!”
and teasingly disappear from sight.

You’ll miss the slow beewing hum
if you walk too fast or heavily.

The list of sounds I love has grown shorter
as my list of years accomplished grows.

Silence tops the list,
followed in no particular order by
susurrations of wind
and the chimes and trees it disturbs,
water in tricklets or waves,
voices twined in sacred and vulgar song.

I sometimes wish for synesthesia
so I could understand if my new fondness for the color blue
is because it sounds like all those things.

On the water, 6 AM

It’s often still but never quiet

on our flat water,
as a busy road girdles the mountain nearby.

A different kind of stillness
overpowers the engines
once oars are in hand,
a stillness that drowns out
chatter and nonsense
and every thought except “move this boat.”

Distractions are for those caught
in the monotony of 6 AM taillights.

On the water, every motion requires
unnatural focus,
for every stroke is different
and demands adjustment

of arms, legs, buttocks, shoulders,
the subtle twist of a wrist.

From the shore
every stroke looks identical,
every rower in perfect synch.
On the water,
Inside each woman is a riot
of concentration,
a hundred refinements of muscles
large and small.

The stillness of control
and will
lets us hear, between breaths, the water run bubbling
under our boat.

Ssshhhh. The coxswain is speaking.

Part 2

Heading on past the cliffs

Where hopping ravens make their nests,
I pass the bewildered willets
And the mated duck pair with
Their stubbornly remaining child.

I spot as a likely site
A slight indent in the cliff,
Out of the wind and out of eyeshot.

I discover a seep there,
Festooned with little flowers,
And I like the play on words.

Squatting, I notice a tiny skull,
And  then my eyes allow that
This is the site of a long past

When I saved that ladybug
From encroaching wavelets,
I placed him on a rock, clearly
Out of danger.

Then my eyes were allowed to see
100 dead ladybugs
All around me.



“Someday you will own a houseplant you cannot  kill.”

It is too soon to say,
but last year
someone gave me a thorny, vicious SOB of a plant.

It thrives near my workspace
and demands very little of me.

So-called “indirect sunlight” suits it.
Infrequent watering doesn’t faze it.

I have placed the more delicate orchid nearby
in hopes they will make a pact
to shame me into caring for them.

And it is thus I am childless and dogless
by choice, not accident.

The dead cyclops

In what would later be called “a dunderhead move,”
the villagers cut down the cyclops (it was not
a svelte creature, but elusive, hard to kill).
(It had plagued them for years
with unfunny practical jokes,
and had frequently absconded
with entire herds of pigs
or vegetable gardens.
And once, a maiden.)

The problem being:
The village sat
just downwind of its final resting place.

For a while, the noble citizens acted as though
nothing was amiss
(though looking rather bilious at their bread, cheese, and mead).

Then they began to think twice.
Had the cyclops been that bad a fellow
to deserve such an indignity
as lying lumpen in a field
better used for butter beans or sunflowers?

The murderers (so they began to be called)
argued their actions were righteous,
but squandered the goodwill of their neighbors
with insults
and eventually,

Great civil unrest ensued.

Each side kept at the other
until finally
(no trace of the cyclops remaining),
the conflict petered out
and life returned to normal.

The Cyclops Killers never got respect.

When the cyclops’ wife came to town,
a herd of pigs, bushels of vegetables,
and a strapping, downy-cheeked youth,
were left
in the square.

26 birthday candles – for Peter Q. Elsea

A man made a music program
that responds to visual cues.

Then he lit candles
for 26 dead children,
and let the flickering conduct an orchestra
that will crush your heart.

An artist’s tools
cloak function in beauty,
they trace down the living form
in the density of stone,
and give it a heartbeat.

Peeling back layers,
reassembling parts into a whole,
nudging code into lines,
breathing in air and letting out sound.

Add the flicker
And you have the heart.