Friday, March 27, 2009

jeffrey mcdaniel

Reminiscing in the drizzle of Portland, I notice
the ring that’s landed on your finger, a massive
insect of glitter, a chandelier shining at the end

of a long tunnel. Thirteen years ago, you hid the hurt
in your voice under a blanket and said there’s two kinds
of women—

those you write poems about
and those you don’t. It’s true. I never brought you
a bouquet of sonnets, or served you haiku in bed.
My idea of courtship was tapping Jane’s Addiction

lyrics in Morse code on your window at three A.M.,
whiskey doing push-ups on my breath. But I worked
within the confines of my character, cast

as the bad boy in your life, the Magellan
of your dark side. We don’t have a past so much
as a bunch of electricity and liquor, power

never put to good use. What we had together
makes it sound like a virus, as if we caught
one another like colds, and desire was merely

a symptom that could be treated with soup
and lots of sex. Gliding beside you now,
I feel like the Benjamin Franklin of monogamy,

as if I invented it, but I’m still not immune
to your waterfall scent, still haven’t developed
antibodies for your smile. I don’t know how long

regret existed before humans stuck a word on it.
I don’t know how many paper towels it would take
to wipe up the Pacific Ocean, or why the light

of a candle being blown out travels faster
than the luminescence of one that’s just been lit,
but I do know that all our huffing and puffing

into each other’s ears—as if the brain was a trick
birthday candle—

didn’t make the silence
any easier to navigate. I’m sorry all the kisses

I scrawled on your neck were written
in disappearing ink. Sometimes I thought of you
so hard one of your legs would pop out

of my ear hole, and when I was sleeping, you’d press
your face against the porthole of my submarine.
I’m sorry this poem has taken thirteen years

to reach you. I wish that just once, instead of skidding
off the shoulder blade’s precipice and joyriding
over flesh, we’d put our hands away like chocolate

to be saved for later, and deciphered the calligraphy
of each other’s eyelashes, translated a paragraph
from the volumes of what couldn’t be said.

[image via here]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

robert graves

Who calls her two-faced?  Faces she has three;
The first inscrutable, for the outer world;
The second shrouded in self-contemplation;
The third, her face of love,
Once for an endless moment turned on me

If I am ever asked to describe myself a five-line poem, this would be the poem I would recite.

Monday, March 9, 2009

e.e. cummings


who knows if the moon's
a balloon, coming out of a keen city
in the sky - filled with pretty people?
(and if you and I should

get into it, if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody's ever visited, where

Spring) and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves

e e cummings or e. e. cummings or E. E. Cummings or Edward Estlin Cummings was a poet and painter and play-write and much more.  His peculiar syntax I find alluring; his intentional strewing of punctuation across the page, I quiet my compulsiveness and curiously enjoy.  Because of Cummings' distinct style, it is almost vital that his poetry be read out loud.  And as a result, Cummings continues to masterfully influence the way each poem is revealed to the reader.  So go on, read it aloud a second time around.

[image from The Red Balloon via here]

Saturday, March 7, 2009

song of myself

I've always been taken with poetry, and I want more of it in my life. Walt Whitman is the man fueling the desire:

Have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poetry?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall 
possess the origin of all poetry
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, 
(there are millions of suns left)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books.
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.

This (demanding, passionate) snippet from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman encourages spending time with poetry so that words can come alive in a way unique to the reader.  In that sense, poems are like fingerprints - not one person's application is the same.

[hypertext image of Whitman's writings via here]

Thursday, March 5, 2009


My morning routine has taken a reflective turn, literally. At the top of the first hill on 190th, and depending on the morning's clarity, I am gifted with a brief (but so satisfying) look at the ocean behind me via my rear view mirror. Often coupled with 105.1's national anthem or Big Boy's casual chatter (both of which offering very distinct accompaniments), I'm hit with a wave of graciousness. I am so fortunate.

And as if that weren't enough, I see the sun in reverse on my drive home. The colors are vivid and electric and I swear I haven't seen a single hue repeat itself in the 8 months I've lived by the beach.

Sunrise and sunset, nature's bookends. It appears as though they hold me up as well.

[Hermosa Beach sunset image via mstlouis]

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

you crazy child

My morning coffee has served it's purpose, and now I am alert after a seventeen hour work day. (Monday's and month-ends are not the most promising combination.) Heavy lidded eyes and the almost-mistaking of my morning oatmeal for a soft down pillow have me wishing for something comforting and familiar. So naturally, I've turned my Pandora station to Billy Joel in hope that I'll hear Vienna, the song that serves as my sweet and subtle slap on the wrist when my work/life balance begins to slip.

Slow down, you're doing fine. You can't be everything you want to be before your time, although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight. Too bad but it's the life you lead, you're so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need - though you can see when you're wrong, you know you can't always see you're right.

When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

[image via Merisi, author of a brilliant Viennese blog]

Sunday, March 1, 2009

a tease

oatmeal with vanilla bean
trail mix, with one cinnamon stick
the sun deck and a round table
faded tablecloth and iron chairs
bathing suit and sundress and bare feet - propped,
four chairs for just one summer-stricken girl
reading and being,
striped beach bag packed
for a sun day like this -
and when the sun is just right she walks
down her white-washed steps and
onto the sand
to sleep - stretch - write - listen -
to memorize everything on purpose, as
sun days will be hard to come by
in february
on another coast

[image via irene suchocki]