Thursday, August 15, 2019

Villanelle

At the end of your life
you’re gonna be all used up”

When does it end?
The redbud holds no blooms.
When will it be spring again?

Her leaves were torn by autumn winds.
Winter became cold so soon.
After the frost, will it end?

Summer dried her broken limbs
and lightning struck her through.
Please let it be spring again.

If she had a forest of friends,
instead of dry grass and a few
stones, she’d not hope to meet her end.

Her twig ends do not bend.
Green grows not in her shoots.
She doesn’t know it’s spring again.

Early chirpings have hope to lend,
though her trunk’s core is a tomb.
This redbud has met this end,
though it’s finally spring again.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Death

For Jan Tilley

Death is a form of rebirth.
We've come down to Earth,
or we were born out of star
dust to be a light far

from where we're born. Death
is our friend; she'll be
there in the end. Breath
tends to fend for keeping

us alive. The darkness
wakes us to what matters.
My friend, your kindness
leaves others in tatters.

Thank you.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Tater

I’m late-night writing,
and I break some ripening
garlic to cleanse my blood.
I find myself searching

for bulb skins beneath 
the refrigerator—thinking:
"Tater can’t eat these
garlic skins. It’ll hurt him."


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Marriage: An Epic Poem

I've been working on this for a while. This section is somewhere in the middle of the poem. I'll likely continue it indefinitely.

Today we celebrate
our being husband and
wife for fifteen years.
Every day I love you
till I'm more into
your aura. Our color
will soon be violet
I'm blue; you're red.

Passion told me
my life is ending
tomorrow. I told passion,
"I begin again." Lovin'
is easy. The cousin
of "hating" is at the opposite end
of the spectrum. Indifference
is the enemy. Hints
are clues on how to be
together. I can't see

without you. I've
told you that striving
for the sun can lead
to Icarus' feathers in the
sea, but if the sun

"could change to a
softer hue of blue,"

never mind, I've begun
to change myself for
you. You know, cutes,

the emperor penguin salutes
no one. The male protects
the egg all winter, protects
the answer to the equation
of love. We've had abrasions.

We've weathered waves
that've crashed brave
couples into the sea.
Mermaids may believe
saltwater can breathe
sailors to life or death;

I believe we'll see
each other in heaven's
lament. Rilke said heaven
has a greater heaven, created
by Orpheus' lamentations
for Eurydice. Execution

could not quiet Orpheus'
head from singing. With us,

nothing will stop my
poem. Nothing. Sigh
a little. Smell the magnolias.
I promise I will never leave ya.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Senses

This poem is by my mom, Dawne Erickson.

I know what invisible is
because I can no
longer see you. My fingers
feel as though they
are callused, when your
skin is separated
from my touch. A song?
What is a song,
when you’re not here to bring
the melody? Deafness
closes in on me,
because your laughter can’t be heard. Light?
Have I gone blind without
your smile to light
my way? No taste
or smell gifts me now,
without you, the umani
of my soul. All my senses
now collide. All my senses
now have died.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Joe

There’s more than a few
people I know, but Jose
is the best. No way
can anyone compare to blue. 
I mean a “Kind of Blue.”

Time takes its toll
on others, but not my
friend. Every tear cried
with joy brings a bowl
of fruit. Let’s stroll. 

Near the end is where love
is. T. S. Eliot “arrived where
we started.” Your hair
is your flair. Look above. 
“All you need is love.”


Friday, July 12, 2019

Mr. Miracle

You write the truth more
than you know. Floors clean
themselves with dirty, lean
words. If those who adore

you, read your work aloud,
you’d be in their consciousness—
around the world. Blessedness
is a gift not given. I’m proud

to know you. Keep your
Texan privacy. Cheap are
words said in vain. Bar
talk goes down drains. Bore

no one. Heap love on
mercy needers. We all
need mercy. Above all,
a greater heart beats on.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Gary

Friends for life are hard
to come by. Birds, especially 
blue birds, have to gently
sing their songs. Shards

of hearts litter sidewalks.
I know a mate named Mark
who’d give crumbs, not hearts,
to these kind creatures. Talk

to me and you’ll see
that a poet can hear
what many others fear
to see—life can be

forgiving, even for kind
fellows. The best finish 
first, occasionally. Fish
and that’s what you’ll find. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cat

Tater's treats sit atop
Auden's "Selected Poems"
on the bookshelf because
they fit there. I thought
this fitting for a poem.


[Working Title: Bloomsday]

The patrons play and fall
regularly in the streets.
Puke splatters the walls,
and the Irish stand tall,
till they don't. Punches
fall and faces crawl
into the gutter. Hunched
back travelers brawl
and wail for the stench
the smell of sheets,
washed and dried clean.

"Let's get out of here!"
said the woman, pear
shaped, to the man agape
with fear. He apes
himself. He knuckles down
to the rippling ground,
and says, "No more."
His last breath is floored.

On this day we sing
into the pissing wind,
and allow others to fend
for themselves till night's end.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Honeymoon

While pulling a barstool, 
screeching across the floor, 
you're hit with the scent of whiskey, 
mahogany, and your own sweat, 
which intermingles with the taste
of blood in your mouth. The hardwood 
backrest is light in your hand. You 
can't see a bottle of Maker's on the shelf.
It's going to be a long night. 
Your husband raises a finger beside
you. "One more for my bride, sir!"
he says, or would have if he weren't dead.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Working Title: Movement

Life is motion. The ocean breaks the shore.

Every door opens and closes more loudly with age.

The burden of living breaks a man.

Each decision aids precision and navigates the river rocks.

The water flows.
Now is the time.

Ever present is His presence.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Breakfast

Green tea peels back
last night's drunken damage,
and the day breaks on 30th
Avenue. Every footstep passing

the sidewalk table eats
a bit of each person that clicks
and clomps toward work.
The day is already done.

Dreams of the reverse path home
fill their heads like water, or
green tea. The leaves sink
to the bottom of this paper coffin.

Dead tired, the writer tosses the cup
and joins the cattle lowing toward work.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Geology and Genealogy

He spent years under Oklahoma stones. Even after washed and dried, his shirt held their incense.

When building chimneys, the odor of wet mortar settled into his beard.

Portland dust fertilized his boots with city-germinating aromaskyscrapers and sidewalks come from this dust and will return to it.

After a rain, the New York City pavement composed him, yesterday, in his son's memory.

Stone or concrete perfumes him into existence, out of thin air, for his descendants. Anywhere.

Text messaged photo from my dad.



Thursday, April 4, 2019

R.I.P. Coach Hampton

In physical education class, you made me run suicides against the oldest and largest boy while the whole class watched. I was the youngest and smallest and couldn't beat him. He'd win by a hair and you'd make us run again. You were rooting for me, but I didn't know that then. The largest boy was running for his dignity. How could I beat that out of him?

That's my most vivid memory of you and your teaching. Wait.

I also saw you on the pitchers mound of our middle school gym floor. You'd throw the kickball maddeningly and bouncily to the athletically gifted to keep the playing field even. And you'd snatch linedrives out of the air as if you had a gloved hand catching a baseball. My older brother said you used to dive, too, before your heart surgery.

Now I see you eternally diving home. How is your eternal home?


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Portal

The soul's window remains
the same from birth to death.
Life parades outside. Jester
and orator are equally framed.
Those born blind see the same.

The eye is a symbol of a window.

A witness knows when one
gives up the ghost, whether
or not the shades are closed.


Friday, March 29, 2019

Earthbound

This incensed hyacinth
purpling aflame in spring
will anger into summer ash.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Incomplete Idea #3

Your eyes are the same size as when you were born. Who knew the soul's window needs to remain the same from birth to death?


Sunday, February 24, 2019

On Berryman

I've recently been obsessing over John Berryman's work. I've been rereading The Dream Songs, and I also purchased Homage to Mistress Bradstreet and Short Poems. Both purchases were discontinued library books. Short Poems was a first edition and only checked out once. Bradstreet was never checked out.

I know that I'm a rare weirdo because I still read and write poetry outside academia, but really? One of America's greatest poets of the 20th century has a book that was checked out once in 50 years, and another book that was never read, until I bought it.

Also, both were academic libraries.

T. S. Eliot said, "The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future." Sorry, man, the future doesn't have hope for your art form.

God bless the soul who acquired this library stamp.




Thursday, January 17, 2019

Incomplete Idea #2

If language can compose
a home, each word
is a brick, and this stanza
begins the foyer of this poem.