Monday, February 28, 2005


Play the podcast.

This poem was inspired by Sylvia Plath (of course) -- but I was trying to do an anti-Plath with the rhythm, which is to say that there is no rhythm. But -- isn't that what you'd expect in a poem that is about electrocution -- a deliberate method of stopping heartbeats? You decide...


I drop the raw, live wire, plugged-in

into the pool of water where I am standing –

grape lips, scorched soles,

wired hair, convulsions –

remind me of you

in your touch inexplicable voltage –

the amperage is what kills

(or fails to)

and still, tears scar,

or didn’t I know that?

a room thick with charged vapor and wanting;

flames jolting the blue out of my eyes,

and yet the color refuses to budge

amnesia was the gift

this was supposed to deliver –

I can’t remember your name,

but the longing

is worse

than ever.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Varieties of Infinity (In the Form of Shoes)

High heels, sandals, pumps, flower and rosette-adorned -- these are some of the shoes I admired in St. Petersburg during "white nights" -- the 24 hours of daylight that make people amazingly romantic, especially when considering that this occurs only 6 months from the darkest points of winter.

Play the sound file (suitable for download for portable players, such as iPods)

Varieties of Infinity (In the Form of Shoes)

Cool summer rain in St. Petersburg,

moist hopes clinging to legs like a “chick flick”

that sensitized state

lasting only long enough to be aware that,

yes, something else is possible.

Summer on the edge of a canal to the Neva River

smells of infinitude and continuity,

their smooth waters like walls erected by the mind

no longer attracted to metonymy –

Only the concrete will suffice.

A leg smoothed down with oils;

a sandal sherbet-bright;

cut-out patent flowers pushing into the toes;

an amber pump, subtle in spite of itself;

strolling alongside

the gold-leaf icons of the orthodox church

glittering like beads and shared needles.

New Russia, old Russia?

A slender leg,

terminating in thin straps

an impossible heel; or,

a narrow foot,

cloaked in modest leather?

And then,

the motion of legs,

an outrageous dream lasting only long enough

to be aware that “awake”

is merely one of many states.

Today I buy colored stones

as if they were amber

or the past reborn.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dream House and Garden

This poem was inspired by travels to the Talysh region, and by admiring the work of artists working in wrought iron and also tin, hammered, cut, and pressed into filigree.

Play the sound file (podcast suitable for download to portable devices such as iPods).

Brick by brick, strip by strip of filigreed tin,

we built the house we would substitute for Self --

5 miles from the border between existence & infinite void.

It is where trees scrape the sky

like the edge of a medieval map of a Flat Earth, and we see

ships sailing into the vast & unknowable place some call Imagination

but I call Love,

as I reach for you, searching for you

in my dark and painful fevered night.

We are no longer the subject of our own dreams;

you were in a ship that fell off the edge of the earth.

I was anchored on Terra Firma,

learning the language of deracination

like a child sent to a convent after surviving plague --

christened into a new family of "sisters" and "mothers,"

ordered to forget the void where I once possessed a name.

We planted a garden next to our little home --

cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon trees and tea.

We pickled pears and apples

in the shade overlooking the sea.

From a distance, our window panes were calligraphy

spelling the universal presence of God.

In the mornings, you would hand me a glass of juice

pressed by your own dear sweet hands,

and I would drink, as though my entrance to the Infinite

could be represented through the act of swallowing.

I wanted to sail with you into the map itself.

Terra Incognita could mean Unknown Earth,

or it could mean the places my mind travels at night

searching for you when my fever spikes high

and the demons you kept at bay

crawl into my joints and tear the fibers from my heart.

I'm direct, and some say this cannot be poetry.

But time is short, we must engineer our categories.

If a text is multiple, it is either philosophy or poetry;

if the image connects the concept to the heart,

it is poetry and simply that.

But when the poem makes me aware we must be together or die,

when it breathes and becomes my reason to fight,

then "fight" means "dream with sadness"

and the "You" becomes my concept of Universal Love.

Unity is more than an integrated psyche.

It is the comfort, the mental structure we require to endure our lives.

I must be direct. Tomorrow we may die.

We built our little house with bricks and filigreed tin,

knowing our actions foreshadowed loss;

our windows overlooked our lush little garden

next to the ocean bordering the edge of the earth.

The ship took you away from me

the moment I spoke the other's language;

the map that had once squared us in the center

now slips us to oblivion.

But when I open that window we placed in its case together,

I breathe lemon trees and roses.

I remember you

yesterday, handing me a glass of juice

the color of life, the work of your hands

still present in every drop I drank,

sweet but thick with the dense salt brine of tears

foreshadowing the moment

I would cry your name beyond our gentle sleep

and into my dark and fevered night.

We cannot live if half our body is void.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

This poem was written about a super typhoon that raked through Okinawa before moving to the larger islands of Japan and causing severe damage.

Play the PodCast.

Today, the possibility of the merger of two cyclones in the South Pacific is keeping meteorologists on alert. Located near American Samoa, one of the cyclones, Cyclone Olaf, has winds of 170 mph. At one point, it was threatening to come together with Cyclone Nancy and create what forecasters call "the perfect storm." It is quite scary. It reminds me of May 3, 1999 -- when two large tornados came together as they moved north-northeast from Chickasha, Oklahoma, through Bridge Creek, Newcastle, and toward Norman. The massive F-5 tornado skirted Norman, thanks to a last-minute change in direction, but mauled Moore, south Oklahoma City, then near Tinker Air Force Base, Midwest City, Del City, and then up toward Stroud, where it took an outlet mall down, leaving nothing but cement foundation.


* tokage is Japanese for lizard,
also the name of a typhoon that hit Okinawa on October 18, 2004.

The day’s gray
attenuated pebbles of light
on a beach, that big slice of earth
we both try to walk on;

but this is
a skyward journey

adjusting my eyes
droplets dreamily sliding down
windows, chapters,
fearful conceptual divides --
the long descent to earth

the typhoon boils up
into the watery wombs;
dark caves
we mistake for refuge

shadows cast like dice
by last week’s moon --

shivering, your hand
reaching for luck, my outstretched palm
our skyward journey

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The poetry of storms at night. Storms are explorations of states of being and can be rather interesting expressions of limit experiences. They are less about people and more about an epistemology that privileges postmodernist fragmentation with constructivist notions of reality as something to bring it back together.

Play the podcast.


The brilliance of thunder
droplets against the sheen of night
leaves torn by wind
my fingertips raw with wanting;
I hang on
yes, I hang on
and when we tear each other open
like pale hearts of palm peeling,
smooth is our oblivion
and the confluence of taste,
touch, sound, sight -- my heart
beating like staggered wings
taking flight
every five seconds or so –
upon the rapture of electricity
breaking itself brilliant
over our mutual skies.


I entered you like the sea
my salt mixed with the molecules of your waters
our forms in suspension, dissolved into each other
an emulsion of salt, foam, and hope
crashing onto rocks or ripping under tides
masked by a surface as smooth as thighs
or infinite sighs --

We are ships moving along the dark, starry night
we navigate our dreams along pinpoints of silent light
north for freedom
north for lands unknown
my heart pounding
my compass is unwound
needle detached
I spin in dizzy spirals;
We are ships borne by the power of dreams.

You entered me like the sea
my heart mixed with the depths of your mind
made into a dangerous compass, spinning around
all our circumstances of sea, salt, foam & need
and still the realities of our indelible forms --
you are my water, I am your salt
your precipitous crystal
my slow, luxurious drownings
as night melts into day.