Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hating Snow

"I hate snow. It's fake. It's a facade that covers everything."

"It's beautiful though," he said.

"It just covers all the dirtiness," she said and stood. She wore thick makeup.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post-it Poems: 3

(Post-it Poems criteria)

Young exotic
thinks quixotic
reds and blues;

yuletide greens

spring through
you, darling
of 6th Avenue.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Marlon Brando

I consumed hearts, souls,
unwillingly received them

into me. My young strong
arms couldn't push

them away. My girth
grew till little beauty

remained. You see this
grave face always open,

expelling millions of
private parts once

consumed? It's a great
effort. I'm lucky to

exorcise ten per day,
but others knife

into me. God allows
this! Shakespeare, I'm

sorry and exit you!
Jimmy Dean, you're screwed.

Prophets, poets, politics
and philosophs are only

portals. God, please close
mine soon. These bones

are raked through. Save me
before I become Adam's

mother, dust.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Good Tidings

The holidays are painful. I've always preferred the generosity of presence to its pseudonym; but as we age, every day becomes haunted by a missing one; the joy of "auld lang syne" is replaced by the grief of "without mine".

I won't offer any condolences because I feel we have to find them within ourselves or through our beliefs, even our loved ones are no comfort if our mind is set.

For me, joy is always present in loving others (despite the nonsense accompanying existing), and its more substantial than happiness.

Photo by Leslie Goshko

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Clouds Without Water

Jude 1:13
"[W]andering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."

Humbled by my table
I bow, and write
across the sky.

Drink a thought,
consume a world,
morning bacon.

At night,

no brightness,
stone glows alone
under pond

of tears. Fear this,
wandering stars,
death by light.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Not Ironic

I paid for my Rembrandt post card with a J. P. Morgan Chase debit card. A pencil pricked my finger as I placed it into a cup at the P. Morgan Museum Shop.

Woman Carrying a Child Downstairs [ca. 1636]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Enduro's Lament Release

Thank you, Mary Cool, Leslie Goshko, Colin Grubel, Steven Leyva, Louie and Dennis.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jazz Transit Prosody

Morning Commute (Heavenly Train) is spoken with backing piano. Thanks, Jason Laney.

Whitman Levi's Jeans

A few years ago, Levi's used Whitman to advertise their jeans. At first I was repulsed by the idea, but then I realized Whitman would have laughed and likely loved this.

I believe the voice over is taken from Edison's recording of The Bard. Let's become "perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love".

Monday, October 22, 2012


A man got
sick on the

Veins of the
city rerouted

I'm on the
right track to

Man gets

City veins

I'm on


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

7 p.m. at KGB on Friday, November 2nd

Kyle Erickson at KGB, photo courtesy of Lindsey Bourque
85 E 4th St, New York, New York 10003

Award-winning storyteller and Huffington Post blogger, Leslie Goshko, hosts tonight’s book release party celebrating the publication of Enduro’s Lament by poets Kyle Erickson (Top 101 NY Blogs) and Christian Ericson. Join them as they welcome fellow authors Susan Scutti (The Commute) and Carter Edwards (Knucklebone) for a curated evening of original poetic works that’s sure to Kick Assonance!

Tonight’s readers:

Kyle Erickson is a co-creator of the poetry series Kick Assonance, which has been noted by the Poetry Foundation and The Academy of American Poets. Kick Assonance has been a Time Out New York “Critics’ Pick” and “a notable New York Event”. Kyle’s work can be read in This Land Press, Promethia, and B’More Poetic. His first book Enduro’s Lament will be released at this reading.

Christian Ericson was born in San Francisco, California, and raised in New England. He lived in Savannah, Georgia, for several years before moving to New York in 2001. He’s read his poems at KGB Bar, The Bowery Poetry Club, and other NYC venues. He is a Time Out New York “Cristic’s Pick”; he also is a visual artist and designer whose work has been shown internationally.

Carter Edwards is the author of the forthcoming novella “Knucklebone” and is the prose and audio editor at Pax Americana. He received his MFA from The New School. He is a regular contributor to BOMBlog, FAQNP and the Brooklyn Review. His most recent work can be found in Red Line Blues, LyreLyre, The Sink Review, Food-i-corp as well as Hobart, which nominated him for a 2012 Pushcart. His short story Illfit, is being adapted into a piece by the Royal Ballet of Flanders. He is also a Literary Death Match champion and has the medal to prove it. His forthcoming short story collection The Aversive Clause won the 2011 Hudson Prize.

Last year was a good year for Susan Scutti: her collection of poems, The Commute and her novel, The Deceptive Smiles of Bredmeyer Deed were both published. Her poems have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, New York Quarterly, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Philadelphia Poets, Tamarind and other reviews.  Susan continues to be a fan of brussel sprouts despite the sudden overshadowing popularity of kale. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Smashing beer pitchers in each
others' faces, each small bird
watches your package, and
guerrillas moan for your olives.

I got your back, brother.

Valencia ferias painted you red
with tomatoes"Good for your
man parts," I said, so you'd remember.
Now your whispering, incense

through the ceiling, cries for Christ's
ear. "Your shoe is untied," I say
as I bow, "watch my back, brother."
The kidnappers' guns fired past your

fleeing through a forest. "Lord Jesus
Christ, let me survive! I will do what
you will!" The morning carried your
confessions to Mom and Dad. Family

cried across the continent. If you had
died, I'd have sung this over your
casket: "He knew who he lived for;
why he died. Do you?

I got your back, brother."

Siguiendo a Bashō

Mañana de otoño— 
Un azulejo dobla una rama húmeda.

Translated by Beatriz Arango

Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Edition Sold

My sister bought my first book produced by a printer, which will be released on November 2nd. If you know me, you know what this means. The pain and pleasure of a poet reside in times like these. If we can increase the beatific forms of love, we should.

I'm grateful for every kindness received. Try to be kind people. You only have one life if you're lucky.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good Friend Gets Good Exposure

Del Darcy is a one-of-a-kind friend from Tulsa. She was recently interviewed by I'm happy to share her good fortune.

Please read this if you have the time.

Del Darcy and Jennifer Lavoie

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thank You, This Land Press

"Forever Home on Mind" contained all the heaviest and most important stuff of my poetry and familial experience when I wrote it at 22 years old. A couple years later I thought it was crap.

An interviewer at Electric Literature asked me to read some of my poems in December 2010. I read her most of my best poetry, which she acted like she enjoyed, then I hesitated before reading "Forever". I said, "I wrote this a long time ago and I'm not sure if I want to read it." She said, "Well, read it if you want to read it. No pressure."

Leslie's embarrassing me with my poem during Sideshow Gosko at the KGB Bar.

I read it, and she said, "You were going to deprive me of that!" I could tell by her face she was sincere, but I was floored. She asked me to reread it for a recording.

Her response restored my faith in the poem, but I still didn't submit it or any other poem for publication till last month -- and This Land Press published it.

I don't know what this means. Should I stop submitting because my first submission got published (I'm currently batting 1.000) or should I stop trusting what I think about my own poetry?

I don't care really. I'm just terribly grateful for this moment.

Friday, September 14, 2012



Words exist longest if they are a mean of metaphysical and survival uses.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


I don't think
people are
inherently evil
I don't think
people are
inherently good
I think

Saturday, September 8, 2012


When you're old, every item in the apartment is sentimental.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Writing and The Sacred

Me: I think he takes writing very seriously. To him, it's sacred.

Friend: I can see that, but you do the same thing.

Me: Sure . . . . Wait, I wasn't saying that is a negative aspect of his process. Do you think it is?

Friend: It can be.

Me: True.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Journal Excerpts

Having lost his mind, his journal revealed he was beyond words and communicating through primordial images.

"We'll take a car to Neptune," Colin said.

"[A]rt is human willpower deploying every means at its disposal to break through to a truer state than the present one." -- John Ashberry

I feel the world is too holy to live in. And so is Heaven.

She was so beautiful and so crazy, a legitimate lunatic, and I was bothered by this -- because such beauty couldn't be tainted by insanity? I guess that's what I thought.

What is here that all of us want -- those who consciously chose to come here and choose to stay?  I don't know if all our sacrifices, specifically spiritual ones, are worth it. Residents unconsciously trade their souls for the world, but we do get the world in return. And the world is what the prophets foretold and is New York City and is empty machinery.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gare d'Austerlitz

A friend created this powerful film as an intimate portrait of a painful moment. (See the "My Films" section to play the video.) I'm impressed with her candor and bravery.

If you take the time to watch this short piece, brace yourself.  Also, please leave a comment or rating if you don't mind.

Yin Yang

I did hedonism
and asceticism
before deciding
to live more
than 50 years

Monday, August 13, 2012

Center of the Universe

He walks in quick small steps ahead of her, ashing his cigarette on every fourth step. She is large, mainly belly. He can't escape her gravity despite his pace and attempted levity. They round Quincy Avenue onto 13th Street, he gives way to her and walks on the weeds shattering the sidewalk. He accelerates for his stumbling to maintain pace. "Chuck is happy I want part time. Few people do, you know? Women's clothing is women's clothing. I'm good at sorting by designer and size. Faster than everyone. So fast. But, yeah, I know he's getting 40 hours work for 20 hours pay. Hey! watch this, watch this!" he says. He takes four steps and puffs his cigarette but holds the smoke and takes four more before blowing smoke rings that are shattered by the sun. "See those?! Did you see them?!" She says nothing. She's got continental sweat stains beneath her boobs: Africa on the right, Australia is small. Her world is trembling.

"I'd like to organize by colors, but they don't shop that way. I sometimes do for fun. I sometimes wear the blouses for fun!" he says. The wet crotch of her jogging pants sags and rubs her things raw. They are off 13th Street and onto Quaker.

"I like the paisley tops, but I don't wear the skirts -- I wear the solid skirts, not the paisley," he says. Four steps, puff, blow. Four Steps, ash. He's scattered by the shattered sidewalk that tumbles into 13th Place. He's lucky not to have fallen. She's not breathing heavy. She's pacing herself off Quaker and onto 13th Place. She's not talking.

"Did you see that, did you?!" He's skipping backward ahead of her. "Concrete must've been blown to bits by the drunken curbers -- you know drunkards hitting the curb?!" His bare feet are burning. Her flip flops are slapping. The brick apartment building is shattering the skyline to the left of them as they spin: left turn, left turn, left turn -- 450 steps, then left, 464 steps, then left, 451 or 452, then left, 464.

"I love you!" He blows the words into her path and her face shatters the cloud of smoke. "I love your baby too -- our baby, our baby." She stutter steps. She steadies her pace and eclipses him around Quincy Avenue. "Living on Tulsie time! Yeah, yeah, yeah," He laughs and sings, staring at the sun and he shakes a flame across a new cigarette while sidestepping sidestepping he hops outside her orbit in the grass.

"Ahh!" He screams.

She stays steady forward. A shattered bottle bleeds his foot. He can't drop his cigarette and hops alongside her. Onto Quaker. Onto 13th Place. On one foot. Onto Quincy. Onto 13th Street. Pangaea of sweat quakes on her belly. He gets ahead of her but bows to the pain. She maintains orbit and passes without him.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Remember those magic cards that used to be in the back of books and contained the names of previous readers when you borrowed them from the wonderland? I miss them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Sunshine lines shadows across plank tabletop on office rooftop

Normal Is Your Neighborhood

My first blog post was about the scents of New York because it floored me how strong and multifarious the city's summer scents are. Leslie and I also couldn't get over how many wonderful things you could do here for very cheap or free -- the first month I was here I saw Chuck Klosterman read at the now extinct Borders in Chelsea. The things one takes for granted in his hometown are illuminated with fuzzy nostalgia when he's homesick.

I asked a friend who was born in Queens if she ever had epiphanies from the powerful impressions the city creates around almost every corner. She asked what I meant. I said that the sunlight off the Chrysler building at sunset stabs my heart. She said she never had any experience like that -- well, she said, maybe with shoes.

My close friend Zhanna was born in St. Petersburg and moved to Brooklyn in her youth. I asked her the same question and she said, Of course! at least weekly; just the other day I was in the Village when -- .

Did Zhanna relate because she was a transplant like me or is my Queens friend a Philistine? Maybe both or neither, the power of the city's impressions likely depends on the sensitivity of the soul that perceives them. But this realization made me think of the endless star-filled Oklahoma sky that I rarely paid attention to in Grove growing up, of my mom's hands cooking pancakes on Saturday morning, of the smell of Portland dust in my clothes, of my grandmother's singing voice over the pulpit. I have to consciously think of all these things now because they are not here to unconsciously impress me, but I can get waylaid by much here if I just remember, as one poet said when speaking of how to be a poet in New York, to just "look up".

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Poets Are Few and Weird and Amazing

When Leslie and I finally stumbled upon the patch of grass where the New York City Poetry Festival was being held after crossing the entirety of Governors Island, this was the the first thing we saw.

Poets are weird. This was the "poetry forest" where children could tear writing prompts off the floating heads of dead poets, and play in tipis.

It took us a while to even find the festival because there weren't enough people at it to differentiate them from any other group on the island. Here is the billboard where you could graffiti or leave a comment.

Yep, Les and I were the 3rd and 4th persons to sign the board midway through the second day of the fest. I felt weird before we even entered. The park was a triangle with a stage at each corner, but it was so small that you could simultaneously hear poets from all stages. I first thought: Who are these strange people? And then, I'm not like this, am I?

After we paid our five bucks and grabbed a stage schedule, we went to hear Thomas Sayers Ellis "read", which he didn't do. He made oral sounds and moved while his friend accompanied him on sax. It was great. Those who've been to a reading know they're boring. A good poet will attempt to entertain or be engaging, but most are simply not extroverted. So they're boring readers, regardless of how good their poetry is. Ellis was riveting. He was entertaining though I have no idea what his poem was about, which is the opposite of what a poet usually wants, and Ellis' point -- I think.

Thomas Sayers Ellis and friend.

After he broke the ice the rest of the day was wonderful. Valzhyna Mort read from her most recent book. She bit and hissed at the audience with her pronunciation, and her poetry is so sexual and sensual that it was a little disturbing. I liked it of course. Mark Strand closed the festival by reading from his newest collection, Almost Visible, that's composed of prose poemish things or paragraphs. Some read like Koans. The crowd enjoyed "Dream Testicles, Vanished Vaginas", which I can't explain, just grab the book if you want to laugh, cry and think.

On our way back home we saw a bunch of kids crawling on Lady Liberty's face.

Over 200 poets read at the festival. We only caught the latter half of the second day, but if The Poetry Society of New York decides to do it again next year, I'll be one of the weird ones there early. After it was all over, around 30 of us went to a bar where Strand read while girls cheered like he was a rock star. It was bizarre and amazing.

Succubus (Radio Edit)

Here you go, Mom. A radio edit for your listening pleasure.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Colin and I recorded this tune on the porch of a cabin in Phoenicia, NY (yeah, those are real bird chirpings in the background). My apologies to my mom for the language, her least favorite word in the world, but the song is so angry that it just made sense.

Friday, August 3, 2012

One in a Million or Deja Vu?

I called the Strand to reserve the single copy of The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol that they had in stock. The clerk said it was already reserved by another customer. I had a flashback to this. And New York just got a little smaller than smaller.

Parents and Theft

I once went to dinner and a movie with my parents while I was in college. They had driven up from Grove, 70 miles, to visit me in Tulsa. We had a good time and enjoyed the film, but when we returned to the truck, Dad's tool box was missing. He usually put buckets of tools in the cab when in "the city", so if they stole the box itself, he was only out $50. He hadn't done that this time.

Well, my Mom flipped. She was furious. My dad remained calm, likely because I was there, and they had come up to treat me to a night out -- he didn't want to spoil the mood. Not to mention that my education would help me work with my mind, not my back, and make more money than he ever made. He didn't want the theft to be about money either.

This morning, talking to co-workers about the woes of old buildings and shitty contractors in NYC, I not only realized that my Dad is an excellent craftsman who is sought after by foremen, contractors and architects who know their stuff, I also realized how much that stupid date-night cost him and my mom. What does one do without descent parents?

Paul and Dawne Erickson, ca 1970s.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Poetic Tension in Your Chest

Art that attracts great and lasting attention has tension in the chest of the work and reader. When this tension eases the attention often does too, but worse, the greatness of the art diminishes. A few samples of artworks with this tension are OK Computer, Beyond Good and Evil, Wheat Field with Cypresses, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Highway 61 Revisited, Notes from Underground, and The Waste Land.

Portrait of T.S. Eliot by Wyndham Lewis
I wrote about this tension or dissonance in similar posts here and here.

Friday, July 27, 2012


A coin has two sides.

Sometimes there is no coin.

I'm too conscious of my consciousness sometimes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kick Assonance Poetry Reading at KGB Bar

If you're free on Thursday, some friends and I are having a reading. Please come on down.

85 E 4th St, New York, New York 10003
Thursday, July 26
Award-winning storyteller Leslie Goshko (Sirius XM, WNYC, Manhattan Monologue Slam Champion) hosts a curated evening of original poetic works that’s sure to Kick Assonance! Join poets Kyle Erickson, Steven Leyva, and Steve Dalachinsky as they share from new and published works and for what Time Out New York magazine named a “Critics' Pick.”


About Tonight's Readers:

KYLE ERICKSON is co-creator of Kick Assonance Poetry Series. His poetry and writing blog,, was named a "Top 101 New York Blog" alongside such well-known sites as The New Yorker, Time Out New York, Gawker, and more. His series has been noted as a Time Out New York "Critics' Pick," "a notable New York Event," and his work can also be seen in the literary journal, Promethia.

STEVEN LEYVA is the author of the recently released book of poetry, Low Parish, and co-creator of the poetry series Kick Assonance. A graduate from the University of Baltimore with an M.F.A. in Poetry, his work has also appeared in Welter magazine.

Praise for Low Parish:

“Low Parish is an ambitious debut of a voice that’s passionate and tough, honest and intimate, bookish but without unnecessary irony. This voice pursues its losses and desires in urgent muscular rhythms and ceaseless syntactical staccatos. Paying its tribute to real and mythological places, Steven Leyva’s poetry runs along the bloodlines of fatherhood and brotherhood, forming a beautiful, deeply felt collection.” –Valzhyna Mort (Author of Factory of Tears and Collected Body)

STEVE DALACHINSKY is a PEN award-winning writer whose books include A Superintendent's Eyes, The Final Nite & Other Poems: Complete Notes From A Charles Gayle Notebook, and Logos and Language. His chapbooks include One Thin Line, People/Places, In the Book of Ice, Blue, White Dog, Portuguese Letters, and Contemporary Poetry. His work has also been extensively published in both on and off line journals.

Arrive early to snag a seat. They go fast. See you there!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Morning Memories/Impressions

Journal Excerpt

A girl hangs around her mom's waist and pink jeans.

In a dream my dead grandfather said, Don't get rid of any long-term clothes, any long-term anything.

A fruit vendor sells bananas in the sunset.

There are dragons under the concrete. The people don't know anything.

Handsome Spanish man is sleeping on the subway. The toreador came down on his back, sprang up like a cat.

Red fabric crippling across the sidewalk.

A redhead hides behind her freckles reflected in the subway window.

Thinking of Me-me asking me to navigate with map, and how scared she must have been when I got us lost because I was only 13. Or how scared to ask in the first place.

Poetry runs on Dunkin'.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Recurrent Revelation

I'm reading Robert Bly's Leaping Poetry and becoming more excited about poetry than I have been in a long time. Excellent book. On top of that, I had a revelation that I'm embarrassed to keep forgetting: complex and heavy ideas can and sometimes should be delivered in wild ecstatic language. Bly doesn't say this, but the poems he's chosen and translated do this.

Lorca and Dostoevsky are some of my favorites who do this well. Bellow is great, too. Rilke does it in Sonnets to Orpheus.

About "the writer", Gertrude Stein said, "He must be sensitive and serious. But he must not grow solemn." Yep.

Morpheus and Orpheus by Colleen Doran

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Which Sensitive Poets Make You Laugh

I laughed out loud upon reading this during my morning commute. Oh, how I sympathize with this sensitive guy's overstatement about New York City.

"The two elements the traveler first captures in the big city are extrahuman architecture and furious rhythm. Geometry and anguish. At first glance, the rhythm may be confused with gaiety, but when you look more closely at the mechanism of social life and the painful slavery of both men and machines, you see that it is nothing but a kind of typical, empty anguish that makes even crime and gangs forgivable means of escape."

--Federico Garcia Lorca
from "Lecture: A Poet in New York", translated by Christopher Maurer

Garcia Lorca, Self-Portrait in New York, 1929-1932

Saturday, July 14, 2012


If over a flute
the sensitive tips of his
fingers and lips
could mute the pain of men
imagine the sound
his skin sang to the ground

Marsyas by Balthasar Permoser, ca. 1680

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Her Inheritance

After she died bearing
the baby, Daddy
put her into the
baby, but there
wasn't enough room
for mother and daughter
in one body, so the
baby grew a tree from
her head like hair, but
the branches and leaves
were made of stuff
of souls not trees
and remained unseen,
though she felt the
weight in her shoulders
and neck as her
head hung low with
her mother's phantom
shadow covering
her every step.

Daddy didn't know
his longing grief caused
his daughter's slouch
of unknown sorrow --
unknown to her
for she knew nothing
of her mother but
what he had told her,
unknown to him for
he couldn't see
the soul tree nor its
heavy fruit, which thickened
from the food of the roots --
the juice of longing grief
and unknown sorrow
mixed to make confused
pain -- that rose up the trunk
and bowed the branches
and fattened the fruit
that dropped and rotted
and fertilized the seeds
that became phantom
sprouts, then small trees
that first caught her
eye in her waking periphery
till a forest of what was
her mother comforted
her in nightmares and whispers.

The haunted grounds
of madness cradled
the daughter like
a never-known mother till
the birth of her own
daughter illuminated the
branches with a fondness, with
the forest's first living leaves.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Another's touch startles the cosmos within your own skin, sends objects out of orbit, constellations falling outward and inward.

Your body becomes a foreign living landscape where geysers of sensation distort perception, and beauty and horror are banal daily bread.

How women smell!
The living hell of 
their proportions.
The living hell of
your proportions.

Your skull crashing through innocence forever.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

[fragment 3]

Her crotch was lit.
Signs on lampposts
pointed toward it,

but boys flitting
around the maypole
confused artifice and art.

Her crotch was wet
with death whose
stench filled the sidewalks

with boys who humped
the benches confused
and crying, Mother!

The mother elm in
Prospect Park is raised
on a hill so its leaves

don't spoil the ground
with affection,
the crotch of her limbs

is broken, but the limbs,
with wire supports,
are still up and open.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When We're Dead

We're lying in bed reading and I'm thinking of when we're dead. The path to death really -- neither are as dark as they seem. In fact, when I get up to get another book and you watch my reentering the room, I say, You looking at my Adonis body? You say, Pose. I mock a statue at the Met.

Now the light is on your book and face and you're nearing my favorite expression: focus oblivious to everything else.

This is about death, I guess, because the path to it is filled with these forgetful moments. When we're gone, no one will know them, but I'm glad to now notice them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

[fragment 2]

How much pain gluts this little frame, so hard shivering she's rising from the pavement, inner centrifuge thickening her blackness. It's so heavy the smoke falls out the mouths of third-story windows, under which her naked body tears at passing faces of morning commuters. Gaping moans of broken windows, black baby biting her finger, marigolds crowned with soot surround the spruce reaching out the street over the smoke, flowers and toddler.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Working Title: Mother

A dragonfly beats
its body against the pane
of the cabin window.

Bees violently
flirt under the eave.
A daisy breaks
its neck toward a humming-

I'm remembering your
pansies and gladiolas doodled
during church around rose
bushes under the eyelashes
of your color-penciled gardener.
The impressions of violets over
stone raise a greater
ecstasy in you than Paw-paw's
sermon in neighbors in pews.

These fragile fliers and flowers remind me of you.

Especially this dragonfly flailing
against the pane.
A tenacity of spirit, not body,
keeps it afloat and fighting.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Her feet sang across
the bricks,
toes splitting over the gritty
sidewalk along the park, and
sirens silenced her laughter.

"Your mom's a bitch," she
sang and skipped,
"She's a bitch, a bitch."
Her hips shift.
She stretches a dress already
too small to fit her sorrows
at sixteen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts at a Sidewalk Table

There is beauty in watching a facial expression
that doesn't know it's being watched,
but I have no taste for persons always trying at
catching who don't know they've been caught.

Though it's stereotypical to place a suit
and face on first impression inside a case,
we know that each has a life outside
our mind's easy arm reach.

To a jazz connoisseur I once sheepishly said:
I don't know what's good, just what moves
my head. Silly now to think: I'd like to unthink
poetry and just move to its music.

Few things are as romantic as hand
movements in familiar action: pie
maker with dough, farmer and hoe,
a jeweler with metal and stones.

A family of three sits beside me.
The younger, a man, slouches over coffee;
the middle, a woman, sits prim with toast;
the older, their father, dotes over both.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

4 a.m.: The Only Note Mozart Never Played, Or There Are No Birds Singing

She fingers the sweaty keys, her
sweat is on the keys, creating (re-creating?)
Fantasy in D minor to
block or mock the noise outside
the window. Her mother quilted
quilts while rocking in her rocking
chair when she was young and
practicing Fantasy in D minor
on the family baby grand piano.
Now, a family is grandly wailing
up the air shaft outside her window:
the mother's wailing is
dancing with her baby son's
wailing as she beats him
for rhythm. The pianist, who
fingered music to her mother's
fingering quilts, cries for the
wailing to stop with feverish
fingers sweating over the keys,
Fantasy in D minor. The
wailing mother fantasizes blackness,
has no fantasy but blackness,
hears no music because she's wailing and
beating her son to the rhythm
of Fantasy in D minor.

A Poem a Week for 10 Weeks

Steven threw down a challenge for me, so I'm going to write a poem a week for 10 weeks. My goal is to take a full week to write each poem, beginning the new poem immediately after I post the last.

As always the trick in writing poetry is deciding when to stop editing. Now I don't have to decide that. Till I go back to rewrite.

Here we go. Wish me luck.

Pound's eviscerating Eliot's "Wasteland".

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Text Messages to Steven

Prospect Park hates itself in spring. Change is pain. This is cliche. Hi.

Dark roast beans are bitter, not stronger. I didn't know that.

The laughter of drug dealers echoes our stairwell. A gun was pulled last week. Not fired though. I don't really want to hate anyone.

You know Jack Gilbert's "Meniscus: Or How the Heart Must Not Be Too Much Questioned". I wish I wrote that.

In my head subway cars rattle, Prospect Park congas conga, neighbors scream, radiators hiss, and Halal street carts crowd out Oklahoma: native stone, blooming redbuds, church pews, clotheslines, thunderstorms. Can you still smell New Orleans streets?

I romanticized the Beats. They romanticized Rimbaud. But I don't like drugs or squalor. Silly.

I'm not sending these texts to you. Just posting them on my blog.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ode to the Weehawken Public Library

Hold on
for dear

Photo by Denis Finnin.
Every time I pass this library I think it's funny, sad, romantic that it hangs off the edge of a cliff. No need to reach for a metaphor.

This Moment of Heaven

They doused the night in whiskey. She
hugged him and the bouncer. The three sang,
"How can you mend a broken heart?" to the fog
that tackled the traffic on 44th and 9th. I'm
not ready to cry myself to Brooklyn,
she said. I'm not ready to end this moment of
Heaven, he thought. A feminine Bob Dylan
twirled her dreads across the train, and eyed
them. A man in denim and gold rings stared.
She cried on his shoulder -- the fog kept
breaking and breaking her heart. He gloated
for the beauty snuggling his shoulder.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


6:20 --  Open notebook. Look around the library.

6:30 -- Watch the guy walk to the fountain. Watch him drink. Look away when he looks at you.

6:34 -- You've been here 15 minutes and have only written: "Sex is beautiful and messy". Look around the library more.

6:40 -- The sun has sunken low enough to cast light directly into your face. Move to new chair.

6:52 -- It's been 30 minutes. Cross out "Sex is beautiful and messy".

7:05 -- Sip water from bottle. Flip through previous pages of notebook. Make random grammatical edits.

7:15 -- 5 more minutes.

7:20 -- Close notebook. Go to bar.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Being in the company of good friends makes you lose yourself, which allows you to completely be yourself.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


The sound of shattering dishes across the air shaft. Distant dog barking echoes. It's raining and he wishes it were storming. The rodent in the ceiling is shaking the cage again. Where are the sirens? A man smashes furniture in the courtyard. She touches her elbow to his -- a decade ago, a subtle flirt, now a fearful scream as if she were turning herself inside out through her mouth, her elbow.  A plane howls to JFK. Everything is coming down.

On Beauty

I'd like to write a poem about her that embellishes nothing. No observation, just an objective being. The reader would know her furrowed brow under headphones on a Q train over Queens. What's left of the sunlight after it's fought threw Manhattan is reflected in her face. But I can't do that. There's a bird in her throat that cries and cries and claws her tongue. Its wings are breaking behind her face. She taps her foot to the rhythm.


Journal Excerpts

The city is a different place in each season, but what doesn't change?

Microphysically I'm a different person between  now...

and now.

I like taking a local train and watching the passengers change down each passing platform: skin color, clothing, expressions, posture, height, width.

On the top of Fort Tryon Park, boys and girls were practicing freestyle walking. Whenever the girls separated from the boys, each group behaved differently from the other. Each was quieter. The boys hurt themselves less. The girls tossed their hair less.