When I’m Through

When I’m through interrogating
through tears
the face I have displayed
and covered
the quivering nerves left
in tissue paper passing
for gauze—

When I have pressed
need back
with a field tourniquet
of old roses
and blown this paper torch,
melted this ice flame—

Whatever’s left
will be shoehorned
into the night’s
dream reserve

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My Love and the Catfish

Mirror, Crescent and Round Lakes,
though little more than decorated retention ponds,
made three, and Tampa Bay drew
the fourth line: boxed in.
Lake dwellers now, we walked
block after block
seeing everything house-shaped.
I wondered, will I ever be happy here?
But we hadn’t yet forgotten how to see
jacarandas in April and some days
fried catfish saved our lives.
I read These Lacustrine Cities every night
and sometimes the thought of you
weighing each dollar
wrung the last tear from our double rainbow.
Reading was discipline
and the poet taught me how
that I might engage my own
precise experimentation.
I saw then fresh as today
the logic of my situation
in your green eyes,
love locked.

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A Rainbow of Tears: Reading John Ashbery

I’m a regular fountain of tears today Continue reading

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Jerry Lewis Comes Home

Who will we call on to help us
negotiate the tripwires,
to summon the courage to trip,
for we will, inevitably, over
every one and not to dud, please,
but to spring back nonplussed, now
that you have fallen?

Dear Jerry, we aren’t as spry
as we used to be. And tumble
we will over studied nuttiness
or improvised decorum
in the full blare of fluorescents
radiating on rubbed nerves
amid constant calls
for caution.

Though you buttered the bread
the French learned to parbake
they never forgot the you
they embraced
and we willingly relinquished
—no, rejected, or more correctly
could not stand
to look upon
was us.

You slowly came back to our shores,
never having left, the boy still crying
for mother, turning buckets of tears
into showers of confetti.
Can we know you now
as us
and claim you now
as our own, now that your own
have turned
to dust?


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ee cummings fora $

Why should Cummings’ poetry be a somewhat guilty pleasure for me? Continue reading

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Nature Is Cruel, Staros

In terms of fashion, the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever is fixed in time and place. Its disco beats, big collar polyester shirts, bellbottoms and platform shoes place it squarely in late 1970’s big-city America. The economic milieu of the film situates it less. The time we’re living in now bears some similarity: young working class people living with their parents skeptical of the future. Beyond purely artistic considerations, which are prodigious (fine performances and cinematic flow, stellar dancing from John Travolta and music), the enduring power of the film comes from universal human characteristics. It is not some peculiarity of 1970’s America that determines characters like those we see in Saturday Night Fever—dancing joyously one moment, plunging into abysses of self-doubt the next. This is the human experience itself. Continue reading

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A Note On John Ashbery and Charles Sanders Peirce

I was reminded of Ashbery’s phrase, “notes from the air”, the title of a poem from Hotel Lautréamont and part of the title of a selection of his poetry published in 2008, while reading an essay published in 1878 by Charles Sanders Peirce. Continue reading

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