Monday, April 28, 2008

Sensual poem

A little sensual poetry for a Monday. How to be erotic without being blatant...


Up to my hips in metallic gem-light

seeing dark eyes feast
silver streaks
was that your heart going by?

Up to my ache in wordless seasoning

tasting more than
skin-salt and liquid moon foam
was that your soul I savor?

Up to my lust in satin aroma

inhaling much more than
essence of sequined man-tides
is this where ecstasy perfumes?

Up to my sanity in startled “oh!”

uttering more than clichés
melody in key of vowels
is that the secret sung in swallowed “yes?”

Up to my smile in seamless grasp

pulling more of you inside than body
buttered obsession
did you give warmth your name?

19 Feb 2003

Friday, April 25, 2008

A slice of time

Here's another terzanelle. It was written (surprisingly) quickly when I saw a man place a bouquet of white roses on the stoop of an abandoned building. I wrote the poem when I passed by the building a week later and the roses were still there.

Still Life on Stairwell

He placed the roses down with so much care,
their breath became the sunlight, fading green,
which left a tender shadow on the stair,

and gave a final stroke of tourmaline
to soft, forgotten petals, velvet white –
whose breath became as sunlight, faded green.

I pause to mourn – no fragrance reunites
me, in my bitter tea-stained reverie,
with those forgotten petals, velvet white.

I know that future’s roses, meant for me,
won’t keep that heart of green and drip with tears.
I slip back into tea-stained reverie.

He walks away in ashen atmospheres,
the light shrinks from those blossoms, now sad gray
No longer white and green, they drip with tears.

The wilted stems and ribbons swept away,
where once he’d placed those roses with such care
the light shrinks from the blossoms, sad and gray,
and leaves no trace of shadow on the stair.

14 Mar 2004

Thursday, April 24, 2008


When I was given the word "still" as a title to write with, I immediately came up with three different definitions in my mind. The first thing that came to mind was the adjective that suggests lack of movement. The second thing I thought of was the adverb suggesting always...continuous-ness. And the third was the noun that suggested a vessel in which liquor is distilled.

So here is what sprang from my fevered brain.


holding onto
the breath I should have
to tell you

your words
paint upon my monotonous sky
a crescent moon
fog onto skyline’s jut

but I wait

exhaling so softly
water doesn’t

in case you missed the way
my hair
insinuated itself

and don’t recall the taste of rosemary

I’ll untie me
from your cerebellum

reminders are


nothing to do
but condense comfortable conversation


pull the moist


25 Jan 2004

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One more sonnet

What the heck... I think Shakespeare's birthday deserves yet another sonnet. (And I'll be almost caught up to my "one poem per day" promise for April.)

Freeze-Dried Sonnet

As if the darkness of your eyes could show
a way for me to trap the voice of pain,
and set in amber life’s imbroglio
for me to hide, so only you remain.

Jars of my desire, well preserved –
formaldehyde-postponed in its allure,
patient in the hope that I’ve reserved
for packing up my soul, in honey-cure.

Repentance never froze a single urge,
but kisses stir emotions long left stored.
From suspended animation will emerge
warmed and soft – adventures unexplored.

A trophy, not of conquest, but of art –
A taxidermist version of my heart.

29 Dec 2002

Another sonnet

Another sonnet for the Bard's birthday.

Shadow Theater

We live, as many do, within that space
where footlights end, and audience begins.
The fear lurks, unrelenting, in that place,
too close to catch the actor’s disciplines.

Tentative in spotlights, under wraps,
I seek the hand of moonlight’s puppeteer.
Stage fright fills imagination’s gaps
where props behind love’s curtains disappear.

Your words betray the secrets sought in silence.
The eyes of all observe your crucial scene.
A soliloquy of gestures in defiance
of direction, daring me to intervene.

Returning, where we comfortably consume
The space between the curtains and the gloom.

25 Jan 2003

Happy Birthday, Will

In honor of Shakespeare's birthday (he's 444 this year... not 544... I mis-typed his age last year), I am posting a sonnet (Shakespearean, of course) I wrote in a fit of mathematical ecstasy.

I will go read Hamlet... or watch the movie. Please celebrate in your own customary way.

The Science of Patterns

The order of the colors, prism bent;
The fractions in a chambered snail’s shell;
Statistics buried, called coincidence;
The chemical recall of asphodel.

So water congregates to build a cloud
and droplets marry heavy, forming rain;
With Spanish moss’s chaos-patterned shroud
To respirations measured fill and drain.

Honeycombs, whose architects are bees;
The icy veins in alabaster’s skin;
The march of leaves up eucalyptus trees;
The oscillating song of violin.

An ocean wave will roll in, uninvolved
In differential equations it has solved.

30 Oct 2003

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More fun with forms

Electronic signatures produced by collisions of protons and antiprotons in the Tevatron accelerator at Fermilab provided evidence that the elusive subatomic particle known as top quark has been found. (Image courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

The terzanelle is yet another form I like to play with. It's similar to the villanelle in that it uses repeated lines, but this one takes the middle line of the stanza and it gets used as the last line of the next stanza, so the rhyme scheme changes each time. And the final line should be the last line of the first stanza.

It's like putting a puzzle together... the hard part is making sure it makes sense. And this one just barely does.

­Subatomic Terzanelle

In orbit, strewn with waiting, patient protons,
With you beneath – unaware my anxious hover.
Beaming light, my kisses touched like photons,

And quantum flux in wavelengths of a lover,
Are positively charged in spectrum’s hope.
Beneath my hungry stare and anxious hover,

Add neutrons, and my heart’s your isotope.
Creating radiation, banish dark –
So positively charged in spectrum’s hope –

Infecting every flavor of each quark,
Until they shake in subatomic lust,
And create that radiation – banished dark.

Adding electrons to your nuclear husk
Can ionize your will to spark a fusion.
They’ll vibrate you in subatomic lust

Swirling in subnuclear confusion.
In orbit, strewn with hope and patient protons,
Ionize your will to spark that fusion –
Lightly, as my kisses, touched by photons.

15 May 2003

Because I wanted to use "hieroglyphics" in a poem

Another villanelle. So they're fun to write...


I found the definition of “beguile”
in places where your blush would hibernate
amongst the hieroglyphics of your smile

It dawns on me, I cannot reconcile
so I repeat until my mind can conjugate
and still see definition in “beguile”

I grasp the implication, pause a while
let meanings there unfold, as I translate
the wondrous hieroglyphics of your smile

So let me take a lifetime to compile
the essays that your eyes communicate
expand my definition of “beguile”

into vocabularies versatile
(hard-pressed for me to ever understate)
and solve the hieroglyphics of your smile

A scholar of the context of your style
and expressions as your eyes deliberate
I find the definition of “beguile”
inside the hieroglyphics of your smile

30 Aug 2004

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another Monday sonnet

A sonnet for Monday.

I have a theory that writing form poetry is (for me) a sort of exercise. I think sometimes that I write better with structure because the form itself (with its rhythms and rhyme schemes) keeps the left side of my brain occupied so my right brain can actually create. Kinda like giving a child a toy to play with so you can finish up a chore.

But it's just a theory. I could be way off base.


Impassioned portrait sketched in words of lust,
Enticing me to reconsider all.
It traces doubt with grey upon my trust
And intimations hide behind the scrawl.
Relinquish every preconceived intent,
And paint my face with violet crystal tears.
I cannot take them back, so I relent,
And let the brushstrokes cover all my fears.
The sharpened edges blur with every hue -
Impressionist emotions, tinged with red.
I dip my fingers lightly into blue
And dare to replicate those things unsaid.

Kandinsky never could imagine these
Colors of my heart’s geometries.

13 Jun 2002

Because sometimes it just is...

I can't think of anything to say about this one except it was easy to write.


all the rocks
insistent in their geology
couldn’t be still enough

to buoy my being
when your smile
slips off my shoulders

and tickles in tendrils
eroding with insist

pull the alarm
and sound
for the majesty
of darkened entwine

lifting until scream
pushing until ahhhh
and never letting
silent knowledge of my love


28 Mar 2004

Just because I like the sound of the words

I got the title of this one from an Emily Dickinson poem.

Prodigal of Blue

slithers art deco edges
into greyhound bus familiar

from the 12th floor
forgotten with

the purple flowers
were bubbles
in the oxygen of wonder

you heard the aria
before dinner

I was incandescent

14 Mar 2003

Sunday, April 20, 2008

still more verse

Some more sensual verse. I love it when writing turns out to express things just the way you want. In this case, I wanted to be appropriately subtle and evasive.

elements of nearness

pour yourself
into my lovescape

while I intone the vowels
of your secret name

let me spread
my verisimilitude
to your soul’s scrutiny
and smoother than cello

your sibilance
and I’ll exhale
after corrugated favor

I have capacity
beyond your shadow’s glint
so tap into

isabelline implications

no one is looking

touch warm
start ruffling the silences
that can’t be pulled
from your tongue’s softness

reach into
the crook of my comfort

nestle in
rapturous silver
meant for taste

your voice tickling
deeper than oboe

your eyes
striking ripples
in lost-teen-angst yesterdays


hoping to
into the midnight
of your eye-crinkling smile

I know your touch
at stocking’s edge

write, I say...
just write

don’t think
of my aphorisms
only let me fetch
one more constellation
from icy silence

awaken to my

juniper pleadings

and inspire the

piquant spice-green
courage hidden

yes... right there

27 Nov 2003

some fun verse

And a little bilingual scribble for today. I got a title suggestion from a friend who said he was learning to dance.

aprendo a bailar

necesito los zapatos
that can hip
your eyes this direction

whipped mambo
served calientado
frosted in frenzy

bedroom your way to doblado

step back
(two three four)
let el hombre lead
(seis siete ocho)

blue into cushion

press into
and before you know it


9 Mar 2003

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15 haiku

my dear accountant
the IRS doesn't want blood
it just wants your soul

Monday, April 14, 2008

Another time of year...

A little tribute to November. A bit melancholy for spring, though...

A Colder Season

Watching November ripen
with each thrum thrumming
of river and heart
in sullen, sad-love-song, crystallized ways.

The sky can’t manage
to be cheerfully blue,
and, frankly, stopped trying weeks ago
when October dissolved.

Now with darkness being a mere formality,
you take time to trace out our names
in faded sequins and reconstituted

When incantations become
merely talking to yourself,
wretchedness accumulates and shoulders
take on permanent shrugs of surrender.

Lastly, you sleep when spoken to.
So they take you somewhere
mint green, without
the benefit of petunias.

7 Nov 2005

Another villanelle

I know I meant to post a poem a day, but with the newest show, my weekends are taken up with getting stuff done. Sorry about that. I will post a couple a day to make up for it.

I love villanelles. Here is one I wrote and played a little loose with the repeated lines. But it's my poem, so I can do that. Besides, it works.

Absorbing Invisibility

I sit in camouflaged desire,
repressing fevered whirlwinds,
becoming shade as you require.

To dim the violent purple fire
dilute until it’s crystalline,
and wait in camouflaged desire.

Add grey to brazen red’s attire;
suppress her strut in softer skins,
in paler shades, as you require.

Hush the lute, and stow the lyre,
dampen strings on violins.
I’ll listen, and conceal desire.

I’ll paint with words that you inspire
disguised in shrouds of discipline
and faded, as your needs require.

Awaiting signals, I retire,
patient in the blues I’ve thinned.
I wait in camouflaged desire
a paler red than you require.

13 Feb 2003

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another peek into my mind

Here's a really old poem. It's one of the few I still like. Seems like I've always been obsessed with Dylan Thomas.


There are no violins on the moon;
and no nightingales.
The purpose of innocence
remains to be discovered
in the splintered remnants of peanut-butter memories.
So, take my hand while there's still time.
We can't compete with mediocrity.
And, screaming,
the wounded secret provides an anticlimax
for some celestial drama.
And the sandman is waiting under the marquee;
but that isn't my name in lights.
I saw a cloud move like this once,
like a stream of my thoughts.
I hurry to catch up with you.
You tell me I write nothing like Dylan Thomas.
Unknowingly, you've stuck a grudge
somewhere between my shoulders,
and white things seep into my line of vision.
I wish I had your purpleness back
because you're listening to me now,
and I wish I had more to say.

Well, Dylan Thomas could never write like me.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Some verse written in a sitting-in-a-sunny-window-inspired ramble. I love to interrupt my stream-of-consciousness occasionally, usually with another stream.

The Book I’m Going to Recommend

was on the free book shelf
at the coffee shop by the river

would you order a soda… or just water?
and the maroons and daisies of this day might become softly muted

I recognize the author
from, of all things, the television

would you recognize him as well?
how could this lapse in my rose-colored protocol conquer your smile?

I open the nearly-torn cover and out drops
a photograph of white-shirted man
with skinny tie
and his head resting on the jawbone
of some poor dead jackass

I imagine you’d strike that pose…and
even the chrysanthemums growing on my stony side would wilt in breathlessness

the photo was labeled “Live Faust Die Jung”

you’d see the fun in this
and it would plunge me back into the fragrances of “what if”

and the back was signed,
“Sorry for the lateness in getting this CD to you.
Things have been a bit twisted.”

“What CD was it?” you would wonder, as if on cue,
and I take the violet-shaded way around this time

A page was marked with a ticket to the
Grand Prix of Monterey
for June 7, 2002.

how often would we really look at the world in cellophane hues?
and would you have had time to read this before the race started?

I’ve stopped halfway through the book
ending each chapter with what I’d imagine you’d rant

if I could only tell you

and you’d look at me with that flash of hush
and I don’t

because you already know

13 Jan 2006

Monday, April 07, 2008

A sonnet for Monday

Monday seems like a good day for sonnets. Here's an old one I wrote when I finally figured out what I was doing.

Besides, we can all use a little romance on Mondays.

Simile for Your Kiss

The full moon took its time, and then my breath
Away as I saw clouds reveal its light;
Then gave me pause as when our lips first met.
I gasped in recognition -- pure delight.

Remembering your kiss, your touch -- that smile
Stopped my anguish at a moment’s crest
As liquid silver was my truth. And while
I memorize your touch upon my breast.

And, stopping me with white, the water mist
Reflects the singing moon as tarnished fire.
Just where my breath had paused before your kiss –
That same soul-filling memory of desire.

Mixing milk then bronze into the vial
The moon is metaphor still in your smile.

26 Sep 2002

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday and time to play...

Some fun free verse. A friend gave me a title and I ran with it.

Copacetic Persuasion

I tango to
the ask in your twinkle

not when we fit together
like finger to texture

regret is for the cup
not leaking
with serendipity

luck beckons
with python poker-face

and I’ll mambo until
romance’s roulette
tells me otherwise

26 Feb 2003

Saturday, April 05, 2008

More forms...

Today I'm going to dive, yet again, into a poetic form. It's a simple form called a villanelle and it uses repeated lines to its effect. The first and third lines are repeated at the ends of stanzas and again as the last two lines of the poem. The middle lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, and the other lines rhyme as shown.

The most familiar poem that uses this form is Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night".

While I have no delusions of being Dylan Thomas, I have written a few villanelles. This one was written while reading an old magazine in a doctor's waiting room. The magazine had an article about a group of people who bought tickets right after the first moonwalk to the first tourist trip to the moon. Evidently, the tickets are still valid, (or they were when the magazine was published) and I jotted down this ode to patience and optimism.

Waiting Room

Rapture waits in time I’ve loaned
to festivals in a “maybe” past.
My trip to the moon has been postponed.

I sigh in spectrums under-toned,
with passions held in color-fast
while rapture waits in time I’ve loaned

with interest. I am unatoned
until I surrender up, at last.
My trip to the moon; it’s been postponed.

Tranquil in the seconds owned
with minutes counted, softly passed
in rapture. I have time I’ve loaned

to one collecting fees, disowned
by passing title. Yet all’s surpassed:
my trip to the moon has been postponed.

In patience, which has been condoned,
I hold my tickets, business-classed.
While rapture waits in time I’ve loaned.
And my trip to the moon has been postponed.

13 Jan 2004

Friday, April 04, 2008

Romance, or something like it.

I wrote this one day when I had just stepped down off of my soapbox, ranting about Valentine's Day.

The short version of the rant is this: I think Valentine's Day is ridiculous and a waste of time and romance. If you can't say "I love you" 365 days of the year, why bother to do it only on one day? And I would much prefer to have a romantic gesture on a random day when I didn't expect anything...

Anyhow, June 12 became an unoffical romantic poem day for me and a group of poets. Here is the first one I wrote.

June 12th

This time last year

was river-fed and angular
was stirred by crystal zephyrs
was your smirk in my brain’s scrapbook
was meticulous merriment
was drops gathered in word sponges
was crabgrass between my toes
was how I’d imagined you’d smell
was the ratcheting of crickets
was the aching rise of pitch at the end of your sentence
was time slick with the artful varnish of optimism
was the grain of your beard crumbling beneath my breath
was toasted foolishness
was our absurd valentine

12 June 2003

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Another ghazal

So here (as promised) is another ghazal I wrote. I am proud of this one.

Dictionary of Rogue Verbs

I conceal meditations of that subjective tense from myself,
where clues of why your syntax may be indifference to myself.

I fasten onto your way of conjugating my ache until
I become the persuasive phrase you’d gauge innocence in myself.

When I can pen your hair into gold, the lucrative emerges,
but your daunting ease drains silver from the eloquence of my self.

Stretch taut my desire over the copper of your framework’s embrace,
and in esteem’s calligraphy – stained to permanence through my self.

Parchment-ready for prurient brushes with the ink of glances,
I inhale and find in the thesaurus of confidence: my self.

9 Jan 2004

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Introduction to the Ghazal

A few years ago, I discovered a wonderful adaptation of an ancient form into English.

The ghazal is a form of Persian poetry originating in Iran in the 10th century A.D. It is originally written in Persian or Urdu.

I have included a lengthy explanation of the form below, but if that doesn't interest you, you can skip to the poem at the bottom. Of course, you're welcome to skip this whole entry altogether...

To summarize, I will draw from a book I have and condense from a lesson by Agha Shahid Ali.
Here are the basic points for writing a ghazal in English:

A poem of five to fifteen couplets. The name rhymes with "guzzle." No enjambment between couplets. Think of each couplet as a separate poem, thematically and emotionally complete in itself.

Once again, ABSOLUTELY no enjambment between couplets -- each couplet must be like a precious stone that can shine even when plucked from the necklace though it certainly has greater luster in its setting.

What links these couplets is a strict formal scheme. This is how it works: The entire ghazal employs the same rhyme and refrain. The rhyme must always immediately precede the refrain. If the rhyme is merely buried somewhere in the line, that will have its charm, of course, but it would not lead to the wonderful pleasure of IMMEDIATE recognition which is central to the ghazal. The refrain may be a word or phrase.

Each line must be of the same length (inclusive of the rhyme and refrain). In Urdu and Persian, all the lines are usually in the same meter and have the same metrical length. So establish some system -- metrical or syllabic -- for maintaining consistency in line lengths.

The last couplet may be (and usually is) a signature couplet in which the poet may invoke his/her name in the first, second, or third person.

The scheme of rhyme and refrain occurs in BOTH lines of the first couple (that is how one learns what the scheme is), and then in only the second line of every succeeding couplet. The first line of every succeeding couplet has no restrictions other than to maintain the syllabic or metrical length.

There is an epigrammatic terseness in the ghazal, but with immense lyricism, evocation, sorrow, heartbreak, wit. What defines the ghazal is a constant longing.

This is what a ghazal looks like:
Couplet one:
---------------------------------------------rhyme A + refrain
---------------------------------------------rhyme A + refrain
Couplet Two, Three, & so on:
---------------------------------------------rhyme A + refrain

Here are some opening and concluding couplets of Shahid’s:

Example A:
I say That, after all, is the trick of it all
When suddenly you say "Arabic of it all."
For Shahid too the night went quickly as it came.
After that, O Friend, came the music of it all.

Example B:
What will suffice for a true love knot? Even the rain?
But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain.
They’ve found the knife that killed you, but whose prints are these?
No one has such small hands, Shahid, not even the rain.

Example C:
Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell tonight
Before you agonize him in farewell tonight?
And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell thee—
God sobs in my arms. Call me Ishmael tonight.
Did you get the gist of it? I know this is full of a lot of pretentious-sounding vocabulary and poetic jabber, but it is a delightful form to play with.

I discovered that I stretched my creativity a lot when writing with this form.

Here's my first try at it. (Tomorrow I'll post some later tries...)

Ghazal in ¾ Time

Rendering my words into songs may, from the dance
Kiss damp orange music pulled away from the dance.

We touch as though we knew the absence of roses.
Touching again, we move in disarray from the dance.

I wipe a tear from the page where you are drawing,
Stringing lines to remove the bouquet from the dance.

Though you spoke to me of afters, not of nevers,
We move through green laughter as if we’d pray from the dance.

Overwhelmed by the frost on your kiln-fired brow,
I discern the porcelain sobriquet from the dance.

Reaching into the marigolds between us, think:
How the weather takes a holiday from the dance.

Loosen your frown, unbutton your anxieties;
Let this lover remove all dismay from the dance.

Jan 2003

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

National Poetry Month

Yes, it's that time of year again. It's National Poetry Month and I decided to be ambitious. I am going to try to post a poem every day this month.

Every poem will be written by me. Some will be brand new, some will be older, some written last autumn. Some may be long and some may be haiku. Some will be rhymed, some will be sonnets, and maybe I'll sneak in some other forms.

I'll start with a personal favorite. It was originally written as an exercise in how many poetic devices I could use, and after much editing, I discovered I actually liked it. So here it is. If you like it or not, I'd like to hear about it. And like it or not, it may give you some insight into how (or if) my brain works.

Tea's Bridesmaid

The milk swirls tiny cyclones in my tea.
Butterscotch doesn’t work as an herbicide.
Your brow furrows with wicker-chair-imprint preciseness
at the off-key scrape of the sugar pot lid on the counter,
and the grains tickling the cupped palm of your hand,
while the steam warms the air next to your nostrils,
lingering for the linen scent.
The kitchen takes on cream-colored urges and vanilla sounds.
With a wry smile, I mention Dylan Thomas
and Wales doesn’t seem so far away.
Wales is unreachable.
Unless, of course, you are in Cardiff reading this
or you can only read Urdu
(and tides effect only grapefruit).
So take the chill off your chili and cha cha cha!
The cordial jest of despair can’t douse the flame of your anxiety.
My tea steeps in urgent equations.
You giggle uncontrollably
and stare at the Fig in disbelief.
The storm will come and freeze my tea before it’s ready,
and the cup will crack in cinnamon waves.
Time will go by as if by ancestral recipes
(de gustibus non est disputandum).
Though my tea laughed until it spilled its sides,
the light from the kitchen skylight aches in as if it traveled all the way from Wales.

9 Jan 2003