Saturday, September 30, 2006

Night Honey

The night runs her wild honey over me.
Pressed up against my back,
pawed along thigh,

ballooned above me in sweet crustations,
sparkling breath engorged between us.

An amber moon floats sticky cells
where darkness dips and ripples.

We are soft together, she and she,
tasting edges of sugar,
spinning our trihedral forms to floss -
filaments of night and light.

new blogroll for the CountDown

Bob and I are working on a new blogroll for specific use of the selection of poems we will be featuring in The Countdown -- so if you have a blog where you are posting new poems then please leave me a note on this thread that you are okay with us selecting and featuring your work in audio read by one of our staff members and broadcast on miPOradio: where poetry tunes in.

Automatically every poem in this blog is considered as well as on MiPoesias Magazine.

Thank you,
Didi Menendez

"Ensconced in tangles"       [ballade]

By now I know the newsprint
with its inkled smudges
I know night's darkled starglint
and Sunday's drugstore fudges
how the critique curmudges
peering through theory's hole
one thing still never budges
how I do not know my soul

I know they claim by sheer dint
of love and will one trudges
through timely victory's end-sprint
with spacious winks and nudges
in briny waves one plunges
compelled by adventure's role
one mountain never budges
I still do not know my soul

I know the Mojito's fresh mint
how snowwhite ends in sludges
I've spied the friendy-faced saint
confronted frightening cudgels
cut milk teeth in urban jungles
madly grasped at riverine shoals
tiptoed through classy bungles
strangely I don't know my soul

William there must be angels
keenly lauding source and goal
still I'm ensconced in tangles
plainly knowing not my soul


This is my first approaching of the ballade form (following from the olden French); I had been vaguely hankering after it for some years. The poem is based fairly closely on (or, as they say, is written "after") two poems: a ballade by François Villon (with the refrain "I know everything but myself" -- seen in Galway Kinnell's translation here, and in an earlier version here), as well as W.S. Merwin's "Search Party" (from the volume Travels (1993) -- for which poem, see here). The latter poem was itself written "after" Villon's; so in short, the above poem invokes two inter-related antecedents. Today is W.S. Merwin's birthday (born September 30, 1927). Hence this. Conventionally, the envoy (final short stanza) may be addressed to a prince (as is Villon's). I do not know what prince he addressed. This one solves it by addressing W.S.

new OCHO

Cora Lee

Rag bound 'round your head,
brown skin dipped in sweat
you washed our dishes
our clothes
ironed starched collars
and fancy blouses
no Cinderella prince
would offer you in your lifetime.

Four years old and precocious,
I corrected your grammar, ran unbidden
down the path to your house,
watched you fry fatback
and flatbread, thought it a feast,
never dreaming, if offered the platter
you might have chosen steak instead,
never saw you sighing at the unjust breeze
or the angry hawks circling over the thick pines
behind your house, day's end, sore feet crying
on the graying planks of your porch.

Grown, I wanted to toss out my sorry's
like a pink net of flowers--like Judas,
to give back the coins, beg forgiveness,
undo the nails, dig out the thorns, but
you stood in your sister's door
a statue, already fading in the twilight
eyes as vacant as a barn after the cows
have been led out to slaughter.

Friday, September 29, 2006

bush league

georges silver spoon
brought him the texas rangers
which was perhaps his only real job
before the presidency

all those awols
in the national guard
don't count because
he had connections

when he sold the rangers
he stripped the team (Corky Sosa)
and made a big profit on that stadium
the people of texas bought

george is now a legend
in his own mind
small legend since the acreage on the G.W.B. mindranch
is infinitesimal

george yesterday complained about leaks
that might skew the election
guess he forgot about
his own administrations use of leaks

george yesterday made some statements
about bin laden and his killing agenda
guess he forgot about
his own killing agenda

george has made us all ugly americans
to a point and width we've never been before
guess that's the best he could do
with a bigger expenditure than ever before

george, do us a favor
go hunting
with cheney

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"American shame"   [pantoum]

This is a day and time of American shame
the monster we decry we must not mimic
when fast and loose you play in such a game
the gun of fear is no mere nasty gimmick

the monster we decry we must not mimic
this is a basic principle for the civilized
the gun of fear is no mere nasty gimmick
who'd dream the Magna Carta would be trivialized?

this is a basic principle for the civilized
brutality contradicts our human aim
who'd dream the Magna Carta would be trivialized?
this is a day and time of American shame


Responsive to the headline "Senate Passes Detainee Bill Sought by President Bush" (in the New York Times online)
By KATE ZERNIKE 31 minutes ago
The bill, approved 65 to 34, establishes far-reaching new rules on the treatment of terrorism suspects and is expected to go to the president by week’s end.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Review of one of my books

My great thanks to Cafe Cafe member Jenni Russell for her wonderful generous review of my book What Is Buried Here, in her blog Chanticleer.

(The review is posted at the above link to Chanticleer. Jenni's review includes a link to the publisher Red Dragonfly Press where the book can be ordered, if you're interested.)

Thanks. Salud.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


gotoworktoday ifonlythepressureswould
itindicatesmsgsallday: theenvironmenthas

The September Challenge Winner

Is Lorna Dee Cervantes.

I especially like those black bean nights....

Until next time,

Didi Menendez

Monday, September 25, 2006

"To continue"     [pantoum]

To continue in English   press one
to continue in Spanish   press three
to continue in Sanskrit   press none
to continue in Elvis   Presley
to continue in Spanish   press three
para continuar en español   la prensa tres
to continue in Elvis   Presley
to continue in ichor   press space

para continuar en español   la prensa tres
auf Deutsch fortfahren   Presse fünf
to continue in ichor   press space
to continue in Eros   press rump
auf Deutsch fortfahren   Presse fünf
if you would like to place a call   please hang up
to continue in Eros   press rump
if ya wanna vernacularize   yo slang up

if you would like to place a call   please hang up
if you wish to be silent   why not just try it?
if ya wanna vernacularize   yo slang up
if you seek to be enlightened   please be quiet
if you wish to be silent   why not just try it?
to continue in banter   select fun
if you seek to be enlightened   please be quiet
to continue in English   press one

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Episode 15 of THE COUNTDOWN

MiPOesias Magazine - miPOradio Poetry - miPOradio Poetry

powered by ODEO

Poems Featured In This Episode

Riley Dog -
"Chemotherapy Omnibus"

Laurel K. Dodge -
"The Bough Has Broken"

David Raphael Israel -
"One Side of the Heart"

Erica W. Adams
42 Opus -

Mark Young -
"so maybe there"

Christine Klocek-Lim -
"Tonight I Walked Into the Sunset"

Alison Stine -
No Tell Motel
"After Meat"

Amy King -
"Causes for Celebration"

Jill Chan -
The Eye

Amy King Interviews Bill Berkson

Pick your podcatcher:

MiPOesias Magazine - miPOradio Poetry - miPOradio Poetry


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.....In praise of prison beauty pageants

O let us pause and give thanks
.....unto the warden! How blessed

we are to spend an hour
.....forgiven of sin. Let us praise

the way his nightstick rattles
.....the cell block bars like teeth.

We give thanks unto the infrared beam
.....of light as it swings through

the guard tower window. We give
.....thanks to you O sun. We lift our voices

in praise to the moth who is caught.
.....The black widow who will finally feast.

We praise the constant flutter
.....of fluorescent white lights, the eventual

darkness it holds at bay. We give praise O make-up artist, O lord

of pencil and brush. May you bless
.....our copper skins with your wonder.

O yes! May you bruise our cheeks
.....with your powder and blush.

We praise the mouth that was once
.....rusted shut. We praise the red carpet.

We praise you O judge.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

melancholia's tremulous dreadlocks issue 5

The fifth issue of melancholia's tremulous dreadlocks is online now, featuring work by:

Amy King - Ana Bozicevic-Bowling - Brian Howe - Brian Lucas - Craig Perez - Danielle Pafunda - Jana Putrle Srdic - Janet Holmes - Jill Jones - Jen Hofer - Lisa Fishman - Elisa Gabbert - Novica Tadic - Bruce Covey - TA Noonan

Art by C.E. Laine and Ira Joel Haber

melancholia's tremulous dreadlocks is an online bi-weekly journal of poetry and curious bits, co-edited by Andrew Lundwall and Francois Luong.

I Don't Think There's Going to be an Ecumenical Community Deployed Amid the Raft of Sock Hops in Our Century

obviously, "chill"
encompasses (mentuses)the free willow
of an infant world
in which no systems
mesh or match
with all dispatch

Monday someone is getting a gift......

here are the details of the challenge -

I Must Listen

I tell you to disappear,
not in an angry tone,

just in the way
we sometimes talk,

one end of the table
to the other.

There is all this hunger
and that strange act

of giving what
one couldn’t have.

I must learn
to listen.

You still know
to be silent like that,
never disappearing.

Friday, September 22, 2006


My sister cooks split pea soup-
Chicharos with hamhocks
and potatoes and carrots she buys
Saturday at the open market in downtown.

She cooks los chicharos
in an old pot inherited from an old aunt-
It has traveled with us from here to there to here.
We hang on to things that work such as a good man.

We are living in the middle
of a Norman Rockwell painting.
The children wear baseball uniforms
in the summer and Halloween pumpkins
come early — as early as mid September.

Women, men and children mow their lawns.
They have well behaved dogs who watch
from a fenced 10 by 8.
Sit, stop, stay.

And this is where they have stayed for generations
unlike my people who call home anywhere
the chicharos cook slow
in whatever pot we were able to bring with us.

My dogs bark and do not sit or stay.
My dogs bark and chase the squirrels which taunt them
from the top of our maple tree
and throw pieces of bark back at them.

The squirrels are like our neighbors
who smile at us then call the police
because a dog got lose.

Bob delivers the mail at noon.
The dogs bark at him too.

Oh my....

I don't usually read blogs with my volume turned on and did this time, only to hear my voice. Startle reaction:-)...then followed by yet another poem (fantastic!).

Thanks, d...from now on I'll check for sound.


The Poet's Silly Daydream

They’re not here to watch
black superstars
abuse a basketball,

they’re not here to cheer Mil Mascaras
kick Hulk Hogan’s ass,
they’re not here

to see an old naked Madonna
crucify her wrinkles,
they’re not here

to gasp when Justin
exposes Janet Jackson’s tit.
No, they’re here to see you read

your latest poem on the Jumbotron,
you’re four dimensional now, baby,
there’s fifty-thousand in the arena

and everyone is standing,
panties are landing on the stage---
your poetry’s on the Jumbotron.

Call for Poems: Lost Highway/Mulholland Drive

Call for Poems

Unrequited love. Living nightmares. Reality that doubles up then cracks wide open.

Seeking poems that evoke and explore the strange worlds in David Lynch's Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive for publication in The Private Press's latest chapbook anthology.

Guidelines and online contribution form:

Deadline: 31 December 2006.

The Private Press and Half Empty/Half Full recently released A Slice of Cherry Pie (ed. Ivy Alvarez), a chapbook anthology with poems from Australia, Europe, the UK and the US, inspired by David Lynch's cult TV hit Twin Peaks.

Podcast: "Shelling the Pecans" by Lorna Dee Cervantes Over Mana - "Bendita Tu Luz"

Excuse the pop on this - uh, I mean that popping breathy sound. I'll learn. This is my first attempt at a podcast. You can also get the site and subscribe by clicking on the button: My Odeo Podcast

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Lorna Dee Cervantes reading "Groovy Mortimer y su Lepista Nuda"

just trying to get the hang of this -- from a recovering Luddite

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Proclivity Toward Growth of Sunflowers at 39th and Campbell

Two decades before, an urban Arizona sunlight fed the wide face of an advancing flower. I wrote a haibun for the university. Today as I walk past, a fence remains, outside of which, some spindly plants, their yellow unconfined. Synecdoche thus fathers deeper thought and feeling toward inhabitants of the house. My legacy becomes a memory that consistently incarcerates each displaced image. Our comprehensives fastened on the Imagists, conjoined by shared disinclination to emote over removed or otherwise distinctly colored flowers. Like many breathing forms, I never have been young. Despite having rehearsed a sequence of abundant lifetimes.

What separation used to cost, and what it costs today, an archive of displacement

he forgot the crusades!

fish hat man stood in regensburg and
spoke to the academy there
where he'd taught theology in the 1970's and
revisited centuries of Islamic, Greek and
Christian philosophy

bavarian pope decried holy wars, forced conversions
and held up Christianity as the
"profound encounter of faith and reason"
in a long dense lecture prone
to wide interpretation

he said, "violence is incompatible
with the nature of god and
the nature of the soul" and
"not to act in accordance with reason
Is contrary to god's nature"

benedict used the word "jihad" and
chose the emotionally and
politically charged arabic word
for holy war or struggle but
never mentioned once the word crusade

it must be nice to be infallible

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Bough Has Broken

The Bough Has Broken

Lulla-babies. As usual, you’ve misread.
(Everything, the world, words, Alicing.
What body parts besides the eyes—-bitches--
betray your age? How many holes
have you gone down already? ) Babies,
lulled. Babies, Dead. Sing a song
to your arms; serenade that empty cradle.
Roses explode every day; no one notices.
Babies are born every day. Or, miscarried.
Prick. Your blood is brown and black
and red. The flow is slowing. How old
are you now? Then? Don’t tell them
how it fluttered in your belly,
how it revved. The man in the moon,
the ghost in your womb are silent
as they cease to pull; complicit.
You will chew your arms off
and wait for wings. You will slit
the night open as you fly through it,
a moth that feeds on tears.
You will chew holes the size and shape
of fetuses into every woman who backs
away, every mother who does not say:
I’m so sorry for your loss.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So yeah, I'm reading some poetry by this 16 year old, and yes, I am quite impressed by it. This is when I wished I had read some of this stuff in workshop when I was doing my undergrad. Sure, there some preciousness to his writing, not quite surprising for a writer of his age, but there is also a precociousness to it. At one point, I was reminded of George Oppen's poem "A Theological Question."

Monday, September 18, 2006

heel to toe   ("till the days of blogging")     [villanelle / elegy]

We may not be kind
but we are enough.
We may not be strong, but
we pretend.
The mind is grey, a blend
of all colors.
mind over matter: I will line up
several pairs of shoes, heel
to toe. I will follow
their procession.
Lynne Beyer
in The Cheap Review Of Poetry #1 (1986)

Why didn't you stick around till the days of blogging?
I'd daily be checking the news at Beyer-dot-blogspot
but I won't submit you now to postmortal flogging

ten years has it been? does a decade thin out the fogging?
have you found release in light? or some shady grog spot?
why didn't you linger a spell   till the days of blogging?

in Christian realms is there annual egg-nogging?
do Judaic & Islamic kin fear a Gog & Magog spot?
but let's not submit you now to belated flogging

I'll head some moon back to LA   the land of smogging
though I laze through the years   I'll find afresh some jog spot
why didn't you stay?   so close to the days of blogging!

true enough   the pipes of hope are prone to clogging
and we tend to sink when we hit the proverbial bog spot
no I'd not submit you to any belated flogging

from life to lifetime   sheaves of narrative logging!
all the poems (with sources) revert to the secret tug spot
it's a pity you didn't stay put till the days of blogging
but I pray you're past all weary dreams of flogging


in memory of Lynne Beyer

Christ Under Water

I dreamt of you last night.
It was not our usual dream
exploring taboos in the company
of rose petals and mirrors.
It was a civilized dream.
We greeted each other like old friends
and walked away.

Its been years since I’ve seen you.

Off the coast of Key Largo
there is a sunken Christ
dressed in barnacles and shells
arms raised towards the sun.
I can never tell if the sunrays are coming
from the father above the waters
or out of the son’s hands and up to the heavens.
His decomposing eyes weep in green and salt
and the voice that raises the dead
is slow and choppy like the murmur of the tide.
He stands on grass that moves
to the song of the angel’s trumpet,
and small fish swim
about their drowned idol
like thoughts turning to miracles of different colors.

Its been years since I’ve seen you.

This is how I imagine me
the day I do.

DQ 9/15/06

"Compassion, Love"   [villanelle with found poetry]

"Dalai Lama Urges Compassion, Love"
the headline reads at 6:00 a.m.  it's Monday
there is an earth below and a sky above

the contours of the hand are shown in the glove
he addressed the Denver Pepsi Center on Sunday
"Dalai Lama Urges Compassion, Love"

to fifteen thousand he spoke for an hour of
the value of human tolerance   as some say
there is an earth below and a sky above

"I'm a Buddhist monk   now becoming a defender of
Islam" he remarked   decrying how after that numb day
one September   many lost track of compassion and love

"Take care of others, you will benefit. Think only of
yourself, you will lose"   seems it was a plum day
as if an earth were below and a sky above

autumn returns   toward winter you feel a shove
a week ago   human beings remembered a glum day
now "Dalai Lama Urges Compassion, Love"
there is an earth below and a sky above

The headline and quotations (as found poetry), found here:
Dalai Lama Urges Compassion, Love

Published: September 18, 2006

Filed at 5:27 a.m. ET

DENVER (AP) -- From high in the rafters of the Pepsi Center, perched on a bare stage in a big leather chair, the Dalai Lama looked small.

But his message was as big as the world.

"This century should be the century of dialogue," he said Sunday. "The past century somehow became a century of violence, century of bloodshed."

As global trade, travel, telecommunications and the Internet bring people together, the old ways of war and territorial thinking have to give way to mutual respect and aid, he said.

"Take care of others, you will benefit," he said. "Think only of yourself, you will lose." . . .

Saturday, September 16, 2006

it's cold

bodies on bodies
breaking free
it's out there
so many parts
the night

what fun
is a tractor
i mean

feel this
there's no one around
i've no idea
it's cold
and so late
so simple
so not
so simple

I want everyone who participates in this community

to click here and subscribe to miPOradio on iTunes. It is not that much to ask for. Really. Please share the link to miPOradio on iTunes. This way you are supporting all the work we are doing.

(here it the link if you prefer to copy and paste)

Friday, September 15, 2006

What Happens if we Don’t See Each Other

Thomas, what happens if you don’t touch the earth each hour,
do you forget it’s there?

Blinded by touch, will we know who we are, or is it just
that comfort zone we seek—a mantra of acts, like sipping
the broth first and eating the Eucharist noodles last?

And having consumed the body, we search for it in our own acts;
are constantly disappointed that we are not unique outside of what we are.

Signs and symbols surround us. We inhale the phemones of the herd.
We expect and accept no less—lees from the celebrations which created
god, the ipod, a leaf on this vine, the perfect cup of Tim Horton’s coffee
and one person out of two, always trying to pull each other apart.

<< Prev Topic

Thursday, September 14, 2006

In Praise of Rain

Rain fills
the bruises of earth,
flows from the facade of structures
into dust covered streets.

Dust assembles on graves
under the bed, inside the bible
until a crosswind, an opening
re-assembles it elsewhere.

Air in my lungs, in my heart
like the voice of the poor
like the void of humankind.
Nothing a little love can’t cure.

Your house burns down
and all you thought was you
is now scattered ashes.
Ashes, wet from the fire hose nozzle.
Kids in the neighborhood watch in amazement.

Here’s what happens when you die:

A bottle is thrown from a passing car.
It shatters and spills its remaining contents on the asphalt.
A small portion of the contents is absorbed into the ground.
The rest is absorbed by the atmosphere.
They will eventually rain elsewhere.
Fragments from the broken bottle are hit by sunrays.
Glass angles break the sun down into lights of different colors.
Kids in the neighborhood watch with amazement.
Somewhere in the world the sky turns to cinder.

DQ 9/1/06

"Shards in the shade"   [villanelle]

Ten thousand publishing poets   were praying and preening
ten thousand pondering poets   were plying their trade
seven thousand were angsting   three thousand at most serening

eight hundred and fifty esthetics   were gamely gleaming
sixty-seven aubades met nine hundred and four serenades
ten thousand publishing poets   were praying and preening

some argued for sound   some favored the moxie of meaning
some shattered the syntax   sorting the shards in the shade
seven thousand were angsting   three thousand perhaps serening

from the field of the news of the world   six thousand were gleaning
on the personal stone   nine thousand were whetting the blade
ten thousand publishing poets   were praying and preening

four thousand were hearting   two thousand I think were spleening
statistically meaningless dozens   were eyeing the maid
seven thousand were angsting   three thousand perchance serening

how many were spatting?   how many were poking and beaning?
so many were wooing!   what wars!   such loves being made!
ten thousand publishing poets   were praying and preening
seven thousand were angsting   three thousand at best serening


Responsive to this passage from Ron Silliman's blog:
In the late 1940s, the U.S. had a population of rough[ly] 150 million people and saw in any given year the publication of roughly 8,000 book titles of all kinds. There were maybe 200 publishing poets in the U.S. The U.K. and Canada were distinctly different markets in those days. Today we have 300 million people in the U.S., and last year there some 174,000 different titles published (a drop, actually, of about 16,000 from the previous year), of which perhaps 4,000 were books of poetry. There are at least 10,000 publishing poets and the borders between markets have become fully permeable in the age of the internet, where the most influential online zine for American poetry is published by John Tranter in Australia. Finding an audience is a far more daunting proposition for a new poet, even if she or he gets a book published. Discerning any shape to the overall landscape may simply appear impossible.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Boarding House

My room
always smelled sour
like vinegar, cabbage,

had a Roman column,
sixteen foot double doors—misaligned,
with a thin triangle of visibility.
I would put a blanket between,
seal off the light, muffle the talk
from the living room.


If I didn’t plunder
the storage piled four foot high
in one corner—black trash bags,
cardboard boxes, a wingback,
two burnt-out TVs:
the cockroaches kept their


On hot nights
I ran the swamp cooler.
It sounded like a revved-up motor.

I slept
on a metal frame bed
needing WD40—it was hell
when the train rumbled on
across the street: structure and body,


She’d said, rent’s 50 dollars
a week,

meals are 20 extra
First time in the kitchen—I declined:

on the counter sat
pickle jars without lids,
dirty silverware,
a two year old Sugar Smacks box;

I opened two chest freezers
filled with produce and meat
burned and turnin’.


Mrs. Elkins made it clear
guests were to leave
by 10 P.M. and that no
woman was ever to spend the night.

Said she’d had problems
with whores before.


The previous tenant
left a white letter envelope
containing colored condoms
under the mattress.

I used them for practice,
watching porn on a cabinet television:
70's style projection.


I took showers
late at night, mornings
brushed my teeth
outside with the spigot.

Time and again
told the old woman
not to wash my laundry
and that I still
don’t want to eat your porkchops


Reclined in her La-Z-Boy,
cane propped, golden under the lamp,
she’d hold me up telling stories:

of roaming through the 40's
as a traveling insurance sales woman
bringing the wealth of death,

of the first boy she took in,
how she put shoes on his bare feet
and worked him in the chicken coop,

about how her husband lay dying
and saw Jesus

and told her.
The bedroom was dark, she said.

Moonlight on the wall
like his presence.

Another One About Memory

You don't know
how to make up for it.
The many
unresolved assurances,
the ways we continue
to be helpless.
There’s such a thing
as courage,
being here just alive enough
to witness another sunset
as wide and beautiful
as the sunrise,
and memory as an antidote
to leaving things behind.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I wasn't able to use all of the words, so I've disqualified myself from the contest. I did want to post what the challenge helped me produce, though. Thanks, Didi!



Mother shrank while everyone else slept. Eventually, she was gone. Like
a dream you try your best to remember but can’t. Dad tried to make
everything work after that: He clamped pliers to the dial of the washing
machine, set the sofa on upturned skillets for legs. But you can’t fix
everything, he’d say. The TV’s picture still rolled like movie credits and
the dog still had to wait. He’d finally raise his head when our forks
stopped scraping their plates. He’d gnaw at a ham bone all night, picked
clean of the meat.


She made me feel better than myself when I was with her. She knew things.
On picnics, she’d read a book listing the genus and species of mushrooms
and trees: lepista nuda, she’d say. Populus tremula, (an aspen, I later found
out). It made me think about our future together. About having kids. What
she’d name our first: Seymour or Mortimer? Kosumi (which meant fishes for
salmon with spear)? Every now and again, she’d try teaching me words in
Spanish. Bonito (which made me think of burrito), and Cienfuegos, which
meant something dependent on whether or not you spaced the n and f. Being
out in the open made me remember how distance changes things. How a city
in Cuba suddenly becomes a hundred flames within the span of two letters.


Tonight, at Caye Coco, she orders an entrée whose name I can’t pronounce
(black beans and tamales for me). I flag the waitress for a second basket of
chips before we finish the first. With every round of Margaritas, I try to stop
smoothing my napkin. But she knows things. Facts. How aspen leaves tremble
in the breeze because the leaf-stalk flattens. How the leaves have wavy edges
and teeth on each side. But hypothesis is a very different thing. I wonder how
we’ll handle uncertainty, no back of the book for answers. I wonder what she
knows of possibility. Of having to wait until everyone’s eaten to be served.

Paper Snowflakes

My new chapbook Paper Snowflakes is now available from Southern Hum Press.

"Groovy Mortimer Y Su Lepista Nuda"

"Groovy Mortimer y Su Lepista Nuda"

It was a black beans summer night,
the squash was kid long in the grass
and you could smell the tamale pie in the avenues
coming from the curtained backs of the bodegas.

Lucky Cienfuegos was on the ancient phonograph,
black nylon no longer slick, the tar-voiced maestro
still snappin' his hat on the wrist, stiff kinky
creases in the cuff, double turned and out

of fashion. But in his prime, never: cha cha ritmos
of rhymes between the bolero eyes, Caye Coco
all the way to the heavenway of poetry, Mayan
waves chucking bonito in the aqua

spray. In a heyday of rites and rituals,
this shred left on the trunk of cultura like
candlesnuff clumps on a stump, the indigenous
xlaria hypoxylon, common and otherworldly

as a woman named Kosumi, Miwok for
She Who Fishes For Salmon With A Spear
who goes into the forest padlocked in pine and
searches the Aspen floor for the populus tremula,

the aspen flower for fears -- to stop the fear
and trembling of an age. This black bean soup.
This herbal blossom. "How to Speak,
And How to Listen."
The blue foot, pink cap

lepista nuda sunning herself among the needle
beds -- purple fleshed in the vulva, a hundred
fires in the stem. And somewhere sweet Seymour
turns in his dream of beaches and pies, spies

the black pitcher of night dawning into sap,
the well-fed soul stalling on the stove,
a single salmon stunned in the wake and
scooped up by hand en un camino antiguo,

un camino real. And Mortimer grooves,
his lucky capitalist nickel heaving up
the tunes on a lonely juke box on a flaxen
fleshy night; the groovy night, a wood blewit

blue cap erect, edible and delicious.

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Face in the Park

The face on the park bench
has gathered a crowd.
It is smooth and thin and likes soda,
a folded can sits by a newspaper.
Flies and insects typical of
summer feasts and garbage
buzz around the crowd.
The face is not bothered by them.
The face belongs to a young man
with a tenor’s expression,
with the skin of autumn skies.
Eyes fixed on the clouds
with the deep look of glaciers.
Arms clasped together,
mimic the faithful stance
in paintings of the crucifixion.
The improvised stage
looses a little perimeter when
a trail of ants exits the mouth on the face.
I think of his mother and then of mine.
Someone uses a cell phone,
others murmur like insects.
No one touches god’s garbage.

DQ 9/4/06

"What would be great is"   [sonnet]

What would be great is
if these raindrops   of September
dawdled in lateness
in the land of   I-remember

is the time for the poem ample?
is the slowness   consequential?
does the bore of the sentence sample
mental soil?   ornamental

may weave the lithe lineations
where formally blossom syllables
whose cadance queues the elations
discerned in the tacit decibels

the raindrops plop at leisure
a king can squander treasure

Responsive to musings from the Ivy is here blog.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

miPOradio's The Goodnight Show: The Good Countdown

miPOradio's The Goodnight Show: The Good Countdown

Groovy Kosumi Stain on her Sunday Best

The picnic voice carried over the black beans,
“I just want to travel a bit, sail
upon the waves of Cienfuegos,
grow the freshest tamale known to man.”

Grandmothers hovered over the onion dip.
Mortimer gargled lemonade, “Tamales, huh.”
A mosquito landed on his big toe,
it was the season of flip-flops.

“You know my friend Seymour lives
near Caye Coco, has a view that changes
the way you dream, literally.”

Out in a clearing giggling children froze inside
a game of tv tag, their faces like hooked bonito.
Someone caught a frisbee in their teeth.

“I travel to Tully every Thanksgiving,
stay with a popular Celtic band. We feast
on Lepista Nuda and drink until the sun rises.
You should join me next trip.”

She leaned against a dying pine tree,
xylaria hypoxylon sprouted wildly at her feet.
“Northern Ireland is not my idea of vacation.
I need a beach, a place where I can show
off my collection of sunglasses.”

An older man with a fake mustache
and a golden cigar stuck his pinky finger
in the guacamole. Mortimer smiled
at him as if he just got out of prison.

“I don’t know why everyone associates
beaches with vacation. I always associate
beaches with war.”

He bent to tear some leaves off
a populus tremula, which someone had told
him earlier was mixed in the guacamole.
He stood for a moment disguised in thought,
“How did you get that stain on your blouse?”


Silence gives way
to round little vowels
that ooze from your lips
like sweet ripened fruit
at the touch of my hand.

A slow string of ohs
owned by ghosts
filling the air
with the heaviness of petrified music
long after spoken.
Voice pearls.

The laws of everything
fail in lovemaking.
My ears can see your face
by the tone of your ohs.
My eyes can taste the burning flesh
by the position of your legs,
and my hand can hear the rapid beating
of your heart as it slides down your chest.

DQ 9/9/06

Cayo Coco (for the challenge)

When the cancer gnaws at his bones
like a crazed wolf
and the angry moon scorches his eyes
he dreams himself back in Caye Coco again.
His homeland.
That golden wing dangling
from Cuba's broken spine.
He finds god in the Cien fuegos,
the warring kosumi, the gray hazed
tobacco-like clouds, the bonito.
He finds god
in the trampled ground
and the crumbling haciendos.
Mortimer and Seymour, his childhood friends
lash him to the populus tremula,
arrived full bloom through the mists
of time with him,
its leaves quivering with excitement
over being the first Cuban cross.
His penance.
His gateway through hell.
His reason for coming.
Lepista Nuda, zylaria hypoxylon,
he screams in his sleep.
Odd words zing back and forth
in this time travel progression
through spirit.

His fat caretaker,
tummy crammed with tamale and black beans,
lumbers to his bed to poke him.
Crazy old coot, she mutters.
Doesn't notice the blood on his palms,
his feet, can't see the halo
or the Cuban birds who have followed
to guide him away from the wolves
and the moon and this soiled cot,
guarded by a woman who only
cares what her next meal will be.

She settles back in her chair,
snores her own way to the groovy El Carlos Restaurant.
el restaurante de lo mejor en Miami, she sighs.
Drool runs onto her heaving bosom.
A breeze from the cot ruffles her hair.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

melancholia's tremulous dreadlocks issue 4

The fourth issue of melancholia's tremulous dreadlocks is online now, featuring work by:

Aaron Belz - Amish Trivedi - Andrew Joron - Audacia Dangereyes - Brian Henry - Eric Gelsinger - Josh Hanson - Mathias Svalina - Maxine Chernoff - MTC Cronin - Nathalie Stephens - Primoz Cucnik - rob mclennan - Sean Kilpatrick

Artwork by Lauren Kohne

melancholia's tremulous dreadlocks is an online bi-weekly journal of poetry and curious bits, co-edited by Andrew Lundwall and Francois Luong.

five minute xanadu

five minute xanadu
after dali - 090706

powered by ODEO

there's something north from here -
it's a long thing and i can't get it.
which sucks so i am bored - the south is fine
in the winter. i never thought you talked
funny either. just never whispered. over me.
which is something i rely upon.
so if this is a confessional fine.
i kept saying hello to everyone.
it was very burdensome in terms of my stress -
so i made some phone calls and now will be highly
more involved - a long time ago - going fast enough to
catch you - out of your black velvets and pardon me
for how your face twists twists ever so over canvases.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Arnold Speaks   [sonnet]

Forgive me if I said you are a babe
it was a rather vapid way to speak
I'm trying really trying to behave
alas my discipline was rather weak
my good Teutonic blood I aim to marshal
my every utterance shall be P.C.
my bonhomie has been a bit inertial
and yet no racial slur was that from me
I said the Cubans and the Puerto Ricans
are passionate by nature through the mingling
of African with Spanish traits? Mohicans'
finale stands before you blithely tingling
  I am the man who accidentally uttered
  taboo remarks no dog would dare have muttered


Riffing on the media brouhaha apt to emerge from the perceived (or so-called) gaff (in the form of a notably cordial and decent off-the-cuff remark) reported by the Los Angeles Times as having been made by the Governor of California (who has, in this connection and in this particular instance, my decided sympathies). Vide: Schwarzenegger Apologizes Over Remarks (New York Times)

Postscript on the September Challenge

If you write a poem for the challenge please record it as well and send it to me. I am broadcasting them too -- everyone who participates will be broadcast -- but you have to record it first -- duh.

Making a Living out of Poetry

Haiku for the baptism,
sonnet for the wedding—drive-by shotgun words ringing (or)
tires on fresh asphalt delivering to a destination, for a price—
and passing countryside (a promise to revisit) sometime soon.

Bank account battles a rose. Clouds bend to pick up a penny.
Music’s supplied by accordions like reflections in windows
facing the news, guessing at words.

Ancient Future

Day follows day   somehow the world continues
whatever we do   this basic state remains

I sent out an email   listing the local venues
for Ancient Future's   future tour   the rains

have passed   there's blue through a window   morning gleams
all the yesterdays are gone   I can't say the gains

outweigh the loss   I don't recall my dreams
each day we're new   but we keep the olden names


Chinese poems, late summer, no. 6

the local venues: this poem is partly responsive to an email exchange. Matthew Montfort (founding member of the Bay Area-based "world fusion music" band called Ancient Future) wrote me:
It is great to have you back on our media list, print or blog!
Too bad you moved to Washington DC as we didn't find a gig there. This is our first trip in 25 years. If you were in California, the distance between DC and NYC would be considered a hop, skip and a jump away.
Looks like Benjy might be playing with us in NYC as he is on tour as well and has the night off.
Let us know where we should try for in DC next time.
So I sent him a list of some local music venues. Back around 1982, I wrote a detailed review of one of their shows, which was published in the East Bay Express. That was early in my venture into music journalism -- a quasi-vocation I pursued for the remainder of that decade. When Montfort emailed me lately (about their tour with gigs in NYC and Boston), I remarked I wasn't much publishing such critiques any more (not since the demise of EAR Magazine circa 1992), though I'm blogging and may occasionally post some such things on my blog. His note above is the reply.

There's reference to a 1990 benefit concert for EAR Magazine here. There's an old concert poster here, and a suggestion of some back issues here. Otherwise, it's a lingering legend in a few minds.

miPOradio's The Goodnight Show: Lets Put Together a miPOradio The Goodnight Show

miPOradio's The Goodnight Show: Lets Put Together a miPOradio The Goodnight Show

Sunday, September 03, 2006

When I Was a Child I Believed in Magic Toadstools

My head is full
of Janet's* poems,

my paper is filling with red ink
and goldfinch eyes,

and the guy in the pub still sits
in his corner
on his synthetic tiger fur stool
bought especially for him,
since he's always there.

Like a toad he sits
and guzzles Speights,
in a timely fashion,
with genteel finger.

If you talk to him
he'll tell you your fortune,
and the dark places of your heart -
according to him -
embowelled in his wallow of Speights.

But I am in the unblinking
goldfinch eye, and traced
through these red scratchings on paper
are my heart's places,

impervious to any subtle residue of magic
toadstools may have.

*Janet Frame: New Zealand poet



An Ode to P.G.D.   [limericks]

Through preimplantation genetic diagnosis
can we screen out the embryos prone to nerosis?
    if cancer doesn't loom
    in your embryonic bloom
perhaps we'll select you for further mitosis

In vitro fertilization allows the fine-tuning
of whether your larynx sustains suasive crooning
    cannot poetry potentially
    be selected for? eventually
philharmonics boast superlative genetics-wraught bassooning

With preimplantation genetic diagnostics
we select for the CEO and weed out the beatniks
    biotech bodes a future
    cafeteria of Nature
permitting us to sire keen inventors of Sputniks

In vitro fertilization permits the selection
of the predispositions for human perfection
    why live so haphazard
    as the fruitflies and lizards?
genitalia and gizzards we improve with reflection

Via preimplantation genetic diagnostics
we aim to distinguish the dumbos from gnostics
    pre-prenatal IQ testing
    can be swiftly arresting
those embryos not favored for crosswords & acrostics


riffing on this report --

"The DNA Age: Couples Cull Embryos to Halt Heritage of Cancer," by Amy Harmon
New York Times (September 3, 2006)

September's Challenge

Please follow these directions. This challenge is open to cafe cafe community members. Poems must be new and not being considered by another editor. Poems must include all the words listed below. Poems must be posted on this thread as well as on its own thread. Poems not placed on this thread will not be considered no matter how good they may be. I (Didi Menendez) will send a $100.00 gift certificate to the writer via email. The writer who receives the gift certificate will also have thier poem published on OCHO. Deadline is September 25th noon EST. Only one writer will be selected for this gift.

All the words below must appear in the body of the poem as well as one of the words must appear in the title.

-lepista nuda
-populus tremula
-black beans
-xylaria hypoxylon
-Caye Coco


Good luck.
Didi Menendez

Orange Light

Updated monthly.
How loud the fan—

churning warm air
over me, in bed.


the illegible distance
between two huge hands
the night’s sandpaper
erases evidence
discards damage
reimburses rattle
and bursts

the wallpaper giggles
this is why everything
is after all
because dancing
is nonsense
to wonder
off of

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Poem Loses Its Credibility

The Poem Loses Its Credibility

When I use a word, it means exactly what I intend it to mean, no more, no less.
..............................—Humpty Dumpty

accuracy, I call it—the difference
between using their and there
correctly, in a sentence. Ultimately, you must
determine whether you're
expressing position or possession, as in the phrase
forever, you are mine—meaning I've
gathered the signs you've left on my heart like
hieroglyphs—as opposed to—
I've hewn you from stone with my trusted
jackhammer, my pick-axe rusted,
kinked from years of digging the wrong holes.
Location. Location. Location. I've found
myself spacing through the channel 10
news, thinking: Was the joke he just told rolling
on the teleprompter? You never know. That's the whole
problem with improvisation. All the
questions you're left with. Whether his
restaurant selection is fresh or another scene
stolen from an old script?
Trust me, he says. Only you know better. You
understand to interpret his statement as: my
Volvo left tracks in the sand still
wet with rain, so I'll find my way home,
X (your name changed for protection). Or, maybe
you should toss that letter, the one with "love" written a
zillion times—I didn't really mean that.

Place your favorite miPOradio shows on your blog too!

cafe cafe community
Birdie Jaworski
Ron Androla
AnnMarie Eldon
Amy King
Pris Campbell
Ron Silliman
MiPOesias Magazine
miPOradio's The Goodnight Show
Grace Cavalieri's INNUENDOES

your allotted lamentations

exceeding recommends itself as sport
(do you import your dowagers)
I mention applique one summer just before
you have arrived at point B
only to inform the many still on risers
that the collective tuning fork has been thieved
by unanticipated out of work ensconced
in nature paths and common quirks
give me a scarlet A to chase when
any point is stacked apart from chintz
and libel maybe left from prior pates
considering the damages have you done that
have you imbibed do you convert
(are there skeletons in your closed eyesight)

Friday, September 01, 2006

literate thighs

strangled bodies of concrete
are moaning cold tonight
it’s true there are no beds
big enough to lay my lines
for train tracks are solitary
and depressing and sleep
is elsewhere collapsed
between literate thighs

Sivakami Velliangiri's "In My Midriff"

The above-noted (and here linked) PDF chapbook, just out from Lily Press, presents a sequence of poems by a friend of mine from South India.

Some may be interested to acquaint the Lily Press chapbook series, and/or Lily (an online literary review).

Sivakami exemplifies the pan-Indian literary phenomenon of poets writing interestingly and distinctively in English.

Lorna Dee Cervantes Unplugged By the Poetry Foundation!

You can read here about the Poetry Foundation refusing to run my guest blogs for the week that they commissioned. I feel I am being censored. In the least, it is an unbelievable way to treat poets by a multimillion dollar foundation. More info on my blog:, but for now, I am SO upset and disappointed. I'm outta here -- off to get my wounds licked. :-(