Sunday, July 30, 2006



in fields of tobacco
I would ride the machine and prime brown leaves
dreaming about our nights—together—

call it love—or phemones singing the future fantastic—
though anyone else—

would you call it magic—this inability to explain
what seems so simple for a moment

I never imagined you to be smoke and mirrors—
but rather a tenant in a shared building—

you facing east and I facing west as we view
the sun on a horizon forever defining the same land—
even if we can only hold a conversation in north and south

Sending calendars to the following---

Derek, Gabriel, Pris, and Laurel.

Please send me your address.

I am publishing Laurel's poem in OCHO.

Thanks again for participating in the challenge. If you send your poems to other publications and they are accepted, let me know. I am always happy when I find out I inspired someone's work.


miPOradio's The Goodnight Show: miPOradio's The Goodnight Show with Michelle Buchanan

miPOradio's The Goodnight Show: miPOradio's The Goodnight Show with Michelle Buchanan

I will not Write about Love

I will not write about love even if memories and moon
light up the sky at nightfall.
I will not write about love or about
the language and gestures of fools and poets.
The further the years span the brighter your eyes seem.
I will not write about love by the fireplace on winter nights
or by the sunken garden where we once sat,
drank a glass of wine and walked into woods.
I will not write about love or about your face
resting on my chest and your hair on my lips.
I will not write about love, and I renounce kissing and whispers.
You may find me sitting in a coffeehouse writing on napkins
but I will not be writing about love.
We watch commercials and read fashion magazines,
we call the prison system an institution
Such deception.
Today the day was marked by thunder
people ran across the beach to watch a man flutter in the sand
hit by lightning while sleeping
he must have crossed god’s line.
I have crossed it also.
I will not write about love.
I will be alone like a house gutted by fire,
alone like thorns.
I will not repeat myself
and I will not write about love.

DQ 7/30/06

"pond" (adam fieled)

you're "deep", I don't deny
it; it's why you hurt me. you
know about scar tissue, livid
purple bruises grown tender,
scalding memories tipped
boiling into rusty hearts. it's
a sin; two deep people borne
back into shallows like whales
in a pond. no reason but
pride & prejudice. no cure.
nothing to do but flop.

Friday, July 28, 2006

"This drought..."

This drought
has ants drifting in
bath water
all around me.

Even advancing
along the engine block
to the power steering leak
or for motor oil

     and death,
     as long as it’s wet.

"edit" (adam fieled)

we look so good on paper,
don't we, two hot bandits
making love w/ words &
bodies, perfect, a scamp
poet & rogue "fictionista",
each straightforwardly
attractive in an "indie"
way, your luxuriant
breasts brushed by an
urban outfitter's t-shirt,
my sprung parts scraping
tight jeans, perfect, you
could build a movie
around it, the burning,
bare-bummed affair,
only somehow the movie,
the papers don't account
for the borders, boundaries,
all the ways our humanity
tips the scales into "edit",
our deadness to "erase"

deadline for seeing a man about a dog is coming up this weekend

and only one soul has left me their entry in the thread as specified. I imagine the rest of you are still tweaking or something.

going to pick the three I like best this sunday.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

twilight gestalt talk
and tantric dark
i'm this pressure quivering
with romantic english
cohabitation on most wild shade
foliage of turns into city
shock lot of floor fatigued
of wood mysteries

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Pornography" (adam fieled)

as if I would strike you,
as if I, myself, were pushing
your face away, fists livid
against yr soft, waspy cheeks.
in some other world my cock
bears nectar, my hands clasp
your ass like wonted shelter.
in some other dream your
eyes don't freeze but melt,
sugar cubes smashed by light.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"You may look like Joe Brooks" [shi w/ argot]

If you cast a kitten on the water   what bread will come back to you?
don't take any wooden nickels   unless they belong to you
in giggle water (hair of the dog)   the land has fat for you
"I've got to go see a man about a dog"   it's the same old song for you
to iron one's shoelaces 'ere they hatch   were frankly wrong for you
you may look like Joe Brooks   but the nookie torpedoes are singing scat for you
okay what's eating you now?   what jive has become King Kong for you?
you slay me!   O darling Guinevere   I (zozzled) came back for you

Four-flusher Nocturne

Joe Brooks' torpedo took a wrong turn,
ends under the East Bay docks, beneath a woman
mumbling, "I have to see a man
about a dog." She is blind and tied to a dog with wild eyes.
The crasher knocks the pilings and won't blow -
trips up a zozzled boy of fourteen,
set to cast a kitten into the depths.
He is from Oklahoma, originally. These things happen.

At home, he might have been Joe Hayseed,
here he's just another knockabout drifting
through the scraps of Holloway and St. Mark's,
caught by the impossible current.
He sneaks up on the woman and steals a hair of the dog -
An animal dream to stitch the iron one's shoelaces.
Like I said, these things happen.

Brinks is down from the mission, handing out advice
like cheese on toothpicks. We're all everything
skewered here. Want more nookie? Stay off the giggle water,
but keep it close. Everyone is starving for something, even
presidents are tapping their teeth.
What's eating you, kid? Firecracker's a dud. You're all powder
and no fuse. Get your glasses on and don't
take any wooden nickles. It all goes hollow in the end,
elm wood soft from the rot. You
slay me.

I Have to Go See a Man About a Dog

I Have to Go See a Man About a Dog

Joe, brooks are made of stones
and—don’t giggle--water.

If you listen close, the water chortles.
It says: Go away, Joe. Just go. That nude
asleep on the torpedo-shaped boulder

isn’t posing for you or the photographer.
Sometimes, a picture or a moment needs

no words. Clouds mottle. The day is over-
cast. A kitten cries for its mother. Hit
by a car, she’s not coming back. Alas.

Didn’t you once say the world was cruel?
The hair of the dog will keep falling out

to spite the vacuum and her aching
back. She’ll surrender your best friend
to the pound where he’ll die alone. Give

until it aches. (Charity begins at home,
eh? The mice played and played

on your Egyptian sheets and king-sized
mattress, didn’t we? Wheee! ) Don’t take.
Any wooden nickels clicking in your pocket

should be buried for the squirrels to eat
like nookie on a winter body. Jaunary

is always so frigid, so unforgiving.
She forgot about the iron. One’s shoelaces
are sometimes all that contains the feet, keeps

the soles from running away. You have felt
the need to flee on the beach. The waves

are always ready to receive a prodigal body:
Come, my child. Don’t be afraid. Breathing
is for old men and babies. What’s eating you

is eating me, my sweet. Life and love are ravenous.
I /you (are) slay(ing) me. Still, I refuse to feel

shame. Look, the stars are zozzled tonight.
That’s no siren; that’s your wife. Your shirt’s on fire
and your house is being consumed by flames.

quick visit

signed my name times new roman on your plaster cast a kitten
drawn cute & japanese next to it a symbol that makes you giggle
water dribbles 40 degrees lip-to-cheek. after inflating surgical gloves
each finger becomes a mock-torpedo breaching your personal space
a doctor says don’t take any wooden nickels surely chiming in her
pockets (nurses uniforms have pockets too) i like the cut of her jib
& with my mind in the gutter you slay me with a look your silence
loud see she has hair of the dog her dog silky & loyal if ever i have to
go see a man about a dog he will be proverbial & without doubt this
doctor’s ex-husband. conversation lags the american talk small but
quaint only the master of innuendo his bed in the next alcove helps
a cackling half-reference to nookie or fcuk shirts barely heard still
the ironic potential solid as iron. one’s shoelaces will unweave
at the worst & best of times i think bending down all zozzled
yet particularly aware of the time. over farewells i spy
a nicely dotted j one simple character legible amidst the
doctor’s signature not jane not jess not jill not jeremy or joe…
brooks of ether & opium seem to babble but in a mean way
as i shoot down the hallway.

Monday, July 24, 2006

the outline of gravity beaches

night comes hardly
the new neck shore of longing
comes in difficult absence
and final high
flickering metropolitan
signaling this swing
for somewhat words

sweet saying with waking
behold impulse machines
and the outline of gravity beaches


electrical technique
a maximum hand moment
veil blown vapor confusion eyes
to ecstatic distances of memory
like especially tasted

ever-increasing flow
against marionette sleep
poppy my eyes
in permanent countries


night curves gravity
youth-giving road tissues
to leap entire bewilderment

longing light shape
to pass current
could remain complicated

aware in swim springs
and grow room
need anaesthesia
fire with turning
youthful for burn

uncomfortable carefully
plays your mountains
of electrical connection

"10:15 Saturday Night" (adam fieled)

then like how bout we give this
thing a chance or at least not bury it
beneath a dense layer of this could
be anyone, we could be anyone,
anyone could be doing this, just
another routine, another way of
saying hello, & goodbye just

around the corner like a dull
dawn layered thick in creamy
clouds, ejaculations spent

Sunday, July 23, 2006

You Slay Me: A Dream Narrative

When she dreamt about nookie she cast a kitten
and stumbled through alleyways zozzled
and whistling the tune of a torpedo.
A team of mimes aligned the alleyway
reconstructing her ruined orgasms,
each one like a miniature heart attack
in a fast food drive-thru.

As a child her father always told her,
“Don’t take wooden nickels.” It was the only advice
he ever gave her. But right now she needed
to find some serious giggle water.

She ducked through a swinging door
following a replica of her dead father,
handsome in the presence of the overhead thunder.
He kept mumbling, “I have to go see a man about a dog.”
She followed the nervous footsteps into a room
where the lighting shuffled past a series of round tables.

She noticed a Joe Brooks sipping liquid from a fizzling cloud.
“What’s eating you?” she asked in a passionate voice,
squatting into the chair next to him. The table had a hair
of the dog, empty and stinking. Joe had to iron one’s shoelace,

so she ordered a fizzling cloud and watched the shooting stars
prepare for takeoff. When he returned he was sporting
a metal jacket and his hair was perfect.

Don't Cast A Kitten (for the challenge..comment/suggestions welcome)

This New Years Eve,
like every New Years before,
body bent like a sleet-hit
tree limb, false teeth clinging
hopefully to his shrinking gums,
Joe Brooks sneaks out
of the nursing home to the corner pub.

Blue Suit.
Red Tie.
In need of some nookie,
he says, if asked.

What's eating you? he yells
to his half-deaf, half-dead
roomie, who turns up Friends
to the volume of a Dead
concert in reply.

The nurses toss back their hair,
giggling. Even Ms Sanders at age
sixty-two feels like a girl
next to Sam, a hundred and one,
now, if a day.

No need to stop him, one titters.
He always comes back,
begging for the hair of the dog,
next morning.

Back to his mind-numbing roll-up
bed, ten pills a day routine,
tellie blending day into night.
No wonder he needs to remember
when he was a stud, a looker,
he thinks when he hears them joke.

Really got zozzled on that giggle water
this time, he brags to the red-head
when she brings his morning pills,
her head too filled with Johnny Depp
to hear him. Don't take any wooden nickels,
he flirts, his once strong baritone voice
aliened into an old man's wheezing whisper.

They laugh again at days end report
at how he tells them he'll hire torpedos
to protect them or admonishes them
not to iron their stockings too many times
when the supervisor's around.
They wonder if he really can get it up
or if anybody will still have him,
cash roll regardless.

Well, I've got to see a man about a dog,
one says, finally, and they walk out
into the cold Boston night, shivering,
futures still writ in the stars above them.
They chatter about hair styles and nail polish,
swing their hips confidently,
never imagining their own teeth
in a glass or that they will one day
become an anachronism, too.

don’t take any wooden nickels

From the cast, a kitten was told

she wouldn’t be needed for the third

and final act. They would replace her

with a recorded version of herself,

a rehersal tape where she said her lines

much too loud into the floor

mike, smooshing the words

into booming wordpaste. This feeling of:

why am I here?, compounded

with members of the production

asking repeatedly, What’s eating

you these days?, easily sent her

to reconsider a marrige to Joe

Brooks, man about the (small)

town of Giggle Water. Of course

this wasn’t the outpost’s real name,

it took on this cognomen

long before she refused to make

nookie with Jr. (Joe Brooks), and

the true date fell somewhere between

when the men went off to build

another torpedeo, and the women,

zozzled on what liquor was left

from the night before, were said to

“iorn one’s shoelaces”, which of course

meant some job with les stature

and effect than bomb building.

This was well before the time

kitten first heard the story of her father,

how he left one evening saying,

"I have to go see a man about a dog."

Kitten, in her period costume, smoking

and sad, taking in a little nip of the hair

of the dog outside the theatre, remembered

that time again. Called back

her mother’s long and silent breakfast,

making malt-o-meal just like always,

but this time, wearing her father’s

torpedeo suit: dark blue jumper, ball

cap buldging at the sides from the hair

stuffed inside. With a ladle,

her mother slapped at the air, flinging

malt-o-meal across the walls, while

quietly hissing: You slay me!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The following is an experiment where I took some headlines from the French newspaper Le Monde and translated them homophonetically. It's still unfinished.


Just a present,
chaste and dead
conflicts demanded
an Orient.. Vestal
partings could not
lie nor rest

on logic proper.
Odes and eons
assisted to an articulation
of conflict.
The emergence
of delirium came
to ground, pushing regions

to a nuclear
Ground and train
readjusted bounds of
reverse guards,
allied to complexes
of frost.

read the Moors,

venting dread.
21 jails let a novel
wave, delousing
risen Caliban.

counterflows objected
to conduct beetles.
Subterranean sound,

utility pores,
transported a disarming
and deriding touch,
in particular, the devil’s.

Leveled, Baal beckoned
bastions, thus a brawl

of dancing lights.
For Troy,
civilians zoned
in quietude and dour

propagating asps
and liars.

Austere laminate,
stationary aeolian,
primed in parlance
of a forced deluder,
the debate

guaranteed flatulence.
the mosque
in hazard.

Candelabras defaced
security untamed,
emanating disorder

and apneatic lariats.
Pushed millers

depressed the sunset,
in resent. Dandy,

the cordial mosque
dense drapes
adlibbing aniseed palaces

with antic scansion.
The lured sternum
had body lace.

Unplug the marooned
& aliased dusting
Seasoned droll
toured the devil,
marooned pluralist,

for lampooning intensity.
Donors incrusted paragon-
fluctuating dances,
and jousting leprechauns.
Minute notions poured
the essential parameters,

knees saving fixed
limited proteins. Avalon
cleared a portal,
paroling pious Pluto
annotating luscious
cocoons for offending
the grand evergreen.

Nether visages poured
the moment.

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels
(and other conversations)

So they say. And who would
do that anyway? Does it have something
to do with George Washington's wooden teeth?
and what about that phrase
"What's eating you?" like what WOULD?
Is cannibalism an outbreak like SARS?
Or are wo so psychically dead
that the bacterium ready and waiting
to begin their work are jolted
into action a bit too soon, PREmortem?
And sincw ehn is "You slay me" funny?
as if death by laughter is preferable
to life--well come to think of it--
I guess it would be a pretty good way
to go, similar to dying while getting
a bit of nookie, at least for the nooker,
though not so nice for the nook-ee--
can you imagine going at it only to discover--
well, let's not even go THERE--you'd have
to drink a lot of giggle water to get over
that experience. Imagine the headlines:
Joe Brooks dies while being zozzled
by his wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.
That's one torpedo he never saw coming,
no pun intended. After that
I guess you'd just have to have another drink,
and then another and next day a bit of the hair
of the dog that bit you before until, well--
might as well get up and iron your shoelaces
or cast a kitten in your next movie as start all over again.
But that's the whole point, isn't it?
Starting over again? Bye!
I have to go see a man about a dog.

"Mud Mix"

We're two trucks stuck in a lane.
You force me to force you to move.
You spill your cargo of colored glass.

I spill my cargo, dyes & paint.
I force you to force me to mix.
We're two reds making a "blew".

We're too green to mellow out.
All the dirt around us is composed.
We both want to rush home to Ma.

We both want to run home and cry.
All the lace around us is undone.
We're two trucks stuck in a lane.

red seas

i know that there's someone somewhere
who feels desparately
from the 1920’s

cast a kitten
when prohibition slowed
with childish delight

don't take any wooden nickels flappers
flicked their giggle zippos
when i set my eyes on you
mystified and mussed up musky

hair of the dog preview track
midnight looked you looked
you looked like a kitty

no one moves
no one talks
tonight baby
and the moon
became blood

"i have to go see a man about a dog"
son of a bitch spoke in o soft knots

iron one’s shoelaces
and soak art guzzle the flame
of giggle water
and joe brooks' best flash fiction
and shine a spotlight
on alien knowledge

say nothing more nookie
do not f**king speak torpedo
all day and all of the night
spinning sex over the music
of the spheres radio radio

o baby
i'm dreaming
of monday

what's eating you?
being accurate
about the small name
you slay me!

fed up
fed ex

zozzled these
these tragic words
these were parted
like red seas

New Poetry Challenge

Please follow these guidelines.

Place your entry on this thread if you belong to the community. If you do not belong to the community and would like to join in, email me at didimenendez at hotmail dot com and I will send you a Blogger Invite. Place your entries on its own thread and your personal blogs too if you like to receive comments. I will only be reading the entries though posted on this thread.

Write a poem using these 12 words/phrases:
cast a kitten
don't take any wooden nickels
giggle water
hair of the dog
"I have to go see a man about a dog."
iron one’s shoelaces
Joe Brooks
What's eating you?
You slay me!

If you are not sure of the meaning of some of these you could stop by here.

Use one of the words/phrases as your title (optional).

The best three poems (in my opinion) will receive a Bettie and The Poets Calendar.

One of the best three poems will also be published in OCHO.

Thank you,
Didi Menendez

Death, You Meant

Death, You Meant

There are certainties: The latent seeds
revealed in the halved apple.
Worm, you meant. You saw the point
of entry. You dismissed the imperfections,
the bruise, the tiny portal, convinced the yield
would still be sweet. The sleeping worms
awakened beneath the overturned stone.
Worms, you meant. Startled by their pink
and wriggle, you flinched. Once you rescued
them from puddles to wind around
your chubby fingers. Remember when you
hoped? The seethe of maggots
in the eye socket of the dead squirrel.
Babies, you meant. Death, you meant.
The stench and heft of the corpse
didn’t bother you at all as you flung
it into the woods. You should’ve covered
the body with leaves. You should’ve attempted
a decent burial. You shouldn’t pick up
dead things by the tail. You should always
always dig a hole. Right now, your white cat licks
the bottom of his pristine feet. You will never have
to clean yourself with your mouth. Still,
you are an animal; you’ve sucked blood
instinctively from paper cuts and cooled wounds
with your tongue. Once, you knew how to seal
a man shut and break him open with just
eyes and lips, hands and pelvis. What happened
to that woman who never had time to mourn?

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Is now available. Stop by this link to get a preview or purchase a copy.

If anyone is interested in reviewing OCHO in your blog/s, magazines, journals, what nots, let me know. This offer is only for the first 10 people who respond.

Thank you,
Didi Menendez

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New Book

I just published a new book with Lulu! It's called "Poems of WW III." I got a lot of help from Integrative Ink. Take a look -- it's not too bad!


Monday, July 17, 2006

the inbetween show

Julie Carter & Your's Truly run the countdown while Bob & Michelle are away:

powered by ODEO

included poems:

Gary L McDowell, "Bones Hurt When They Have Flesh on Them"
Scott Glassman, "Snowing yet . not here"
Dean Gorman, "Everything Everything"
Daniel Lawless, "Wig Shop Choir"
Adam Elgar, "Chapel of Rest"
Sarah Manguso, "29"
Christine Hamm, "Seventh Year..."
Didi Menendez, "Little Deaths"
Sandy Florian, "elevator"
Pris Campbell, "Innocence"

Also, Julie and I each "pick a poet" and read from their work.

Hope you enjoy!


The extent to which the book extends
is bound within its cover and stretches
through the vaunted halls of mind cathedrals
in signs and codes.

The book whose spine
follows the circle of library walls
is God - according to Borges -
and spins circles through space.

The space between books on shelves
in the library,
any library at any time,
remains a universal constant
over which a librarian has no control.

This page, a leaf that turns through cycles.
These letters, catalogue of scrawl on the toilet wall
by those who seek light
as they travel down rows of shelves,
neatly filed volumes dissolving into atoms
of information
transmittable via brainwaves,
anatomical cables bridge from print to thought.

A conversation with God,
with gods of words in ceremonial procession
covering page after page,
coordinated page and word.

Titles by authors long dead,
the scarecrow straw and stuff of their heads.
'Oh time thy pyramids,
thy labyrinth of letters'

how we scramble and climb
through their thorns and dust
for meaning
and find only the beauty of symbols,
a simulacrum of beauty.
We search now for alternatives
through spaces, silences, the narratives unwritten.

How long have we stumbled uncomprehending,
and who writes the findings of the search,
the narratives of the searchers?

Is there, somewhere, a writer penning
in slanted gold calligraphy ...
'In the beginning the word was ...'

Friday, July 14, 2006

one diversion

some news of the bermuda triangle?
i sure haven’t heard much recently then
like a concept i am sure to forget
it pops up all conspicuous & sweet
deja vu neat / wisdom in it too see
images repeated bring loch ness tears
but only in dreams & i wonder what
they were about come morning – a person
an event or a tv program with
seven hot characters & a script by
a doctor of philosophy? used to
cut her at launches now she’s disappeared

we live in a cool world of disaster
& all you say to that is probably

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

where are the poems?

o where are the poems   dulcet & dapper?
(water from faucets   may mimic a river)
pithy & earthy   or chipper & proper
where are the poems   for sweat or in shiver?

where are the poems   suasive & laughing?
(water from bottles   may mention a rill)
gleaming & flowing   or bleeding & scoffing
where are the poems   that answer & fill?


I am putting OCHO#3 together and I would like to consider your poems.

Please send along new work.

If you are not sure what OCHO is, stop by here

If your work is selected, you will receive a contributor copy.

Send it via didimenendez at hotmail dot com

Thank you,
Didi Menendez

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday, Monday

My mother died on a Monday, Monday,
now once a week there’s a Monday, Monday.
Sunday, and then it’s Monday, Monday.

Tuesday, and it was just yesterday, yesterday.
Wednesday, and it was just two days ago
and it was just two days ago.

Thursday, and it was just three days ago.
Friday, and it was just four days ago
and it was just four days ago.

Saturday, and it’s only two days till Monday, Monday.
Sunday, and then it’s Monday, Monday.
My mother died on a Monday, Monday.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

"He Was Far More Complicated Than That" (For Sgt. Raymond Plouhar)

Sgt. Raymond Plouhar

Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, 30, of Lake Orion, Mich.

Plouhar died June 26 from wounds received while conducting combat
operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion,
5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force,
Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"He Was Far More Complicated Than That"

He was the hugest heart
in a helmet, grinning into his future,
a purple sunset over Michigan's former
majesty. A full boy. A hunter
and a camper. Good thoughts all around.
On his father's Harley, with a grandfather's
Bible tucked in his war shirt.
Heaven on his sleeve, a sleek passage
into duty. Choice, an inheritance
in the hours of ironing and polishing
the buttons. Poetry on the lips of the survivors,
lines about sacrifice and the selfless, believing
conditions were improving, an expedition
into history. He was indestructible.
A winning force. A signature on the passing
of time. A camouflage and ramrod
boy. A fighter. He preferred peace,
a lakefront home. The walls of collages
introducing the chapters. Posing Dragons.
Wrestling circles. A wedding day.
The sun busting through the senseless
trees. Something like an animal huddled
beyond the field. A trained sniper.
"This is who I am." Love. A misfire.
"A Marine to the very end." Endlessly.

~ Lorna Dee Cervantes
July 8, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Promise of Light Poetry Contest

Promise of Light Publications
is now accepting entries to its
bimonthly poetry competition.

Only $3.00 to enter.
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!
and send 1-3 poems by e-mail
attached in some version
of Microsoft Word.

Or send your submissions
by conventional mail with
a check or money order.

Promise of Light Publications
Bimonthly Poetry Competition
PO Box 81, Milton, KY 40045

The winning author will receive a $10.00 cash prize.
Each winning poem will be published on the web site, and all
poems will be automatically entered into the editors possible-publication pile.

Deadline for the first competition is July 21, 2006.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


There you are, saying much,
doing much

The light falls
where it is

How we sometimes
say things we don’t mean

to stay near
what we love

That sudden shyness
of being somewhere

we want to be
just to be

"The Unknown Service" (One Poem for Operation: Poem)


This is the last shirt I will ever fold.
Here is my armless sleeve,
my face huddled up next to you,
my memory wound on the forever
replay of a grieving heart.
Here is a medal to honor
my blank chest, my shot weapon.
Here is the Humvee humming
into endless summer.
Here are my tears
folded into my body.
Here is your joy
pressed into an unplucked flower.
Here is the single rain drop
disguised as an unused sorrow.
Here is the many-tongued
denial of a mission, the lost
taste of a mother's cookie,
a father's last tool left vacant
in the vacant lot of an old garage,
heart-stopped, deadly
only to the dead

Stop them in an alley.
Give away the clothes.
The stray cats flee
like shrapnel on a weak
horizon. All the blinds
gone bad, the future
sabotaged by a sutured smile.

Here is the last letter
I will ever write you
buried in the armor
of irony, the lit fuse
of democracy, burning
(o' burning!) for you.

* a poem written for a fallen soldier for Operation: POEM

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

MANGO Publications - 30 Years Ago Today

(sorry, just wanted to share this -- Ajua!)

Thirty years ago today I started my publishing venture with the inauguration of my new press, MANGO. I was the original "kitchen table" press which inspired writers such as Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, Patricia Smith and others back east. "Freedom of the press belongs to the one who owns one," I was fond of saying. How I loved my little R2D2, my mailbox sized Multilith. I bought it from a guy who used it to make extra money printing pizza menus after cutting leads (the little wires on the back of stuffed pc boards) six hours a day with a group of women who didn't know whether or not Canada was a state in order to afford her. To afford my freedom and independence. I considered it in the tradition of one of my idols, Henry D., wandering off into the woods at Walden ("born too late/ for you to cling to..."), the publication of Walt's "Leaves of Grass", the signing of the Declaration of Independence and other such literary and spiritual ventures conducted on July 4th. Wiping off the kitchen table, opening all the windows, no matter how stubbornly painted shut, opening my doors to the world as I watched the first poems of Alberto Rios, Orlando Ramirez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ray Gonzalez ("I want to feel the rotting wood I walk upon..."), Wendy Rose, Bernice Zamora, Luis Omar Salinas, Ricardo Sanchez, Sandra Cisneros. . . . Tony Burciaga's pen and ink wit arise off the page in my tired hallucinations. How I loved my inky kitchen, my printing clothes with their split-fountain splotches and flowered fingerprints. How I loved the odor of chemicals, even the worst. The lilting momentos of Billie making the mockingbirds sing, the "no woman no cry" all night long to the train-chugging of that motor and cylinder proclaiming, proclaiming, world without end. Creating a mini chapbook sensation before there were even such things other than chapters from some scholarly tomes, before there were expensive contests to apply for or foetry foes to fight with, virtually. There was just a gal with her press who wasn't afraid to get dirty or lose a finger. Who didn't care how the house smelled in the morning or if the dishes were washed. Who only cared about getting it right, getting it inked up good, getting the lines straight because they were some of the best lines she had ever read. Lines that still hold up. Even if it wasn't always inked up good or the paper feed jammed up. "We're jammin'/ we're jammin'/ we're jammin'/ we're jammin'/ And I hope you like jammin' too" keeping us alert another hour, another cup of coffee, another ream, another poem. "Hard work!" declared the movement out my kitchen window. "Hard work" sang a man who wasn't doing it, who was free at at last, on stage and gettin' paid, "Hard work" kept the gauge going, the wheels on the gears throwing its luck to the pall; the ticking frets -- evident. Another Chicano manifesto, another Chicana manifest, Xicanao music all night long in the weave of words and flight. Fright, a thing of the past, Joy's horses finally let loose, loose women dancing on tables in poetry for thirty years, loose tickets hidden under sofas for just that long -- as the train advances.

Been gone to the freeway and back.

Happy Independence where ever you hold it, whomever you hold.

(Gracias Orlando Ramirez, Adrian Rocha and Jose Antonio Burciaga, for all the thereafter -- but, you knew that)


Monday, July 03, 2006

A couple of links, and a poem

I'm not usually big on poetry contests, however I ran across one that looks like possibly not the usual kind of thing. Art at Work, a Canada-based website, is holding a poetry challenge/contest on the theme Being at Work: poems "by people about the work they personally do or have done, paid or unpaid, blue- or white- or no-collar." Also poems about "looking for work, how our hours at work affect the rest of our lives and the process of retiring from work."

According to the website, there is * no * required entry fee (though they are accepting donations for the Movement for Canadian Literacy, a non-profit organization). Of the five contest judges, who are named in the website, two are Canadian labor union officials and one (poet Susan Eisenberg) is a licensed master electrician. Another of the judges, poet Tom Wayman, edited many years ago an anthology of poems about work, which I read back then and liked quite a bit.

I'm not necessarily endorsing the contest, but thought it interesting and wanted to pass along word of it. Thanks to Ivy for posting a link in Dumbfoundry about the contest, where I originally found out about it.


Cafe Cafe member Michelle Buchanan has started a new blog, Operation Poem, seeking poems of remembrance and compassion for military service people who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Go to the link above to read the many powerful and moving poems that have been published in the blog so far, and for guidelines for submitting poems.

I was initially moved to write the poem below after going to the Operation Poem blog a few nights ago. Michelle was kind and generous in her comments about the poem when I sent it to her, though after discussing it a little we agreed it might not be best suited for the kind of thing she's looking to do in the Operation Poem blog.

So, posting the poem here. -- Thanks.


graves registration

like a wind of wolves, like a lover,
i have come answering your call.
on the high galleon of empire, chasing
gray phantoms, we sail out of new bedford.
behold, i am the heart of iron. hear me,
i am the voice that shatters dreams.
a house of fresh paint, a rosebush,
a small clock on the wall, a high school
yearbook photograph. the toys
of the dead, the salt of fossils.
eyes that once could see into the heart
grow distant and clouded with milk.
the monster of meat and grease slugged up
on the deck, opened to the air by long knives:
deliverance of the bearers of light: blood for oil.
the sea is a drunken chaplain tottering toward nightfall.
tripoli, barbary, the far bermudas,
tilting toward waves and ice, we move with a purpose.
thunder offshore, racket of gunfire, thump of drums.
you who knew us, remember our works
and the fires that burn here.
for a monument leave a fallen wall.
you will have salt on the table, and
the lure of the tropics, low deductibles,
and in general a promising growth rate for investments.

Holiday Illustrations From the Book of American Life

After the smell of hotdogs on the fourth day of July,
the fountains that cause un-surmountable glee,
it’s too hot to wear flip-flops. Then school starts anyway,

the pools close, and the pumpkins wear silly faces
(some with paper ears).
The air smells heavy with the wetness of leaves

or exciting, when raked piles crackle and burn.
The turkey’s in the oven, and the house smells like yams.
After the tree goes up, and the cat pulls tinsel down,

the crèche holds the Jesus-Baby and Advent-candles glow,
we trade Valentine cards, and the snow blows in (a bit
later than expected). Deep snow-drifts pile up—

reaching the roof of the falling-down shed.
After the cherry blossoms and azaleas come forth,
and the wind blows yellow pollen all over the car,

the sky has grown dark and the firmament shaken:
We anoint His body in a borrowed tomb
and wait together for three days, each blossom

on the dogwood forming its symbolic cross.
After Resurrection, a butterfly lingers close to my face.
We smell the delicate scent of roses. The weather’s

warmer, and we notice—by the light of any dawn
or any twilight’s gleam—that a steady and impoverished
stream is penetrating our southernmost rampart.

Now we’re back at the Day of Independence.
And “Oh say, can you see”
(who God sees) in the hamburger air?

The Sand Kissed

This is a poem in remembrance of the U.S soldiers who died in Iraq.
The soldier I chose is Sgt. Jose M. Velez

I could write a poem of alien sand
where water is the sweetest touch,
where MacDonald's golden arches
and John Wayne cast no shadow
and the beach of the Western frontier
burns forever without the respite of ocean.

I could write a poem of reporters,
camera bulbs exploding, firing questions,
planting microphones to spout official party lines.

Men in flowing robes beneath headwear
announcing their usurpery of God
weilding official party lines like scriptures,
papal blessing kissed
like a bruise from snake lips,
as righteous as jihad.

But the poem I'm writing is of a mother,
waking from the sound of carrion wings
flapping dark knives across the sun,
to realise it's the fan ticking sweat
from the mattress where she lays listening
for her son's tread on the stair,
remembering her fingers
on the silk bristle of his army-cut hair.