The Editor


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She said she doesn’t understand me.

Not my words, not my plans, not me.

She doesn’t understand me.

She said that, “I don’t understand you.”

She also said:

“You don’t use enough poetic words.”

“You’re unclear.”

“No one understands what you mean.”

“You say too much.”

“You leave nothing for the imagination.”

“There’re prettier ways to write that.”

“Your sentences are too long, too short,

Too convoluted, too simple, too complex,

Too awkward, too abstract, too concrete…”

And so much more she said. 

She gassed on about my description, my

Commas, periods, semi colons, dashes,

Especially the Oxford commas and italics.

She hates enjambment. 

She said it, “I hate enjambment. 

I prefer clean breaks.

People need to write plainly.

Go direct, 

Say what they mean.”

She likes rhymes or landscapes,

Not a lot of nihilism and death.

She prefers old verse to new,

Stanzas to trees, 

And blank verse to free.

Words flow too freely too often.

She repeats that.

Each time I see her, she repeats,

“Loose lips, and sticks and stones,

And penny for your thoughts.”

She likes the old ways, the olden days.

She doesn’t like my way.

My way is too dull, too lurid, too boring.

She said she honestly doesn’t know

Why I bother.

She doesn’t get it. 

Not me, not anything about me.

She doesn’t understand anything.

She doesn’t understand me.

I said that: “You don’t even know.” (Me)

She-dog on She-cat Crime


Two things on my mind today:  pet wars and naked logos.

The not-so-new addition (even the picture above is over a month old), a Husky pup, who, at 4 3/4 months weighs about 35 pounds of massive paws and thick, stocky chest and haunches, loves to “play” with our penultimate addition, a mostly white Japanese bobtail stray, smallish for a full grown cat typical of the breed. 

The latter is wily and clever, eccentrically faithful to her chosen human, my daughter. She abides people amicably. The former is a doofus, aggro, boundary-testing youngster, whose only purpose in life is to play, eat, shit and destroy. She’s pretty, stunning ice-blue eyes with a thick, grey and tan wolf coat, and sweet. She’s also unrelenting.

Willow the cat is curious and heat seeking. She’s also playful. She often comes looking for Goose. She quietly stalks the puppy, who, upon spying her, full-speed gallops in a furious rush. She sniffs (tries to), bites and captures the cat with crushing will and heft. Frustrated by the rebuff–getting her nose clawed–she whimpers, turns her body around, and boom-lowers her massive girth to snuff out the feline, a horrifying domination, as if the small cat 1/8th the other’s size will be bone-crushed smothered in furry cement.

But despite the cat’s frantic struggle on her back, paws and claws air-poised to strategically strike vulnerable nose and eyes (everywhere else is futile with that thick, cushioned hide), her deep, low growl in constant grinding gear, she seems to know what she’s doing. Because despite clearly taking a beating from massive paws and jaw with beastly big teeth, she knows that at some critical pause, some crack in the feeble-minded puppy’s concentration, she can scuttle up a bar stool or leap up a high armoir to safety, wide-eyed glaring down at the dopey, tongue-flapping brute. 

I confess that I watch in both amusement and terror, anxious and hopeful for the underdog kitty’s safety.  I’m unwilling to intercede on her behalf, though, resolved that she asks for it.

The other image teasing me this morning is the picture on my website–a sort of branding logo–for onenakedpoet.com. The picture reveals a naked woman’s back, hands clasped behind her, one arm bent over her shoulder stretched down her back to link the other reaching from below to center of her back. The yoga pose twists rotocuff and bicep, which casts in relief dorsal and bicep muscles and sinew. Her ass is partially exposed, just the twinges of crack and buttocks. 

The photo is also slightly blurred, out of focus. The back is mine. A few years ago, a photographer shot my unclothed yoga practice. I used the picture on a whim to name my author’s website–one naked poet. I deemed crafty the double sense of revealing heart and skin, a doubly exposed confessional poetry. 

Clever as it may have seemed at the time, I now wince at that photo, which collapses the private and public in a way that could be perceived as both celebratory–an aging body contributed to the ongoing conversation of body “beauty” conceptions–and discomfiting. 

Not discomfiting as to nudity or aging. No, the ruffle arises over the hidden face and naked back. The unwitting exposure is the attempt–all writers, all women–to confess, reveal and expose a mind’s “truth” without holding back, but being unable to do so. 

A hidden face is in all writing: the persona or mask. 

Because you can spew words all over a mile long blog about love, ownership, family life, daily doings, heart break, possession, politics, hygiene and belief, everything that makes up a breathing machine called human, one particular human, and never show your face. You can write obscure, viny verses that suggest, tease and seduce but ultimately obfuscate and confound, leaving a reader clearing the rainforest, skin-misted without absorption, without sensing the screeching, raucous hues and pitches of a mad-scramble, raging artist’s pallet. That’s the writer’s plight.

So much color, so little connection. Blank screen. 

But this is also the plight of many. The same kind of angst in complicitly witnessing interspecies battles, I experience eyeing that branding: nakedly hiding a truth–about women, fear, prejudice, the lengths we the civilized go to oppress the marginalized, the subterfuge victims cultivate to survive, configured bodies continuously on public display–utterly exposed without identity, without face. Hiding in plain site always is her lurking predator–in dark alleys of the city and congress.

Women’s problems are just women’s, some believe. I could turn around, show my wrinkled face, my sagging breasts, my pregnancy-ravaged poof belly and crepey legs, a less “attractive” view, but in whose eyes? 

I am concerned about my or anyone’s acceptance or even tolerance for violent, insidious misogyny. I agonize over finding voice. In gendered inherited words, striving to write real from inside a body, I worry that we’re all cowards, immobile before the fray.

Dearly Beloved


I’m leaving you soon, a matter of hours,

And before I do, I want you to know that I don’t leave without trepidation.

I’m not one to walk out.
 

Stand and face–even when the blackest eyes pierce my throat–

That’s been my method, fearless.

No doubt I’m getting older, less reliant on speed and jaw.
 

Yet, my resolve stands taller, wider, less compromised 

By shaky passion and toppling ardor.

I know what’s right for me and mine.
 

Perhaps the children have made it so, the will,

The mighty outrage and outpour of righteous indignation,

It’s no mere whim or fashion.
 

I have roots, here in this land, on the soil of my mother.

But they grow wherever my feet touch down, 

When blossom and wither beach.
 

My return, though certain, may not be.

I once traveled far, jungled inside, canopied under

The emergent layer that cocooned and cut me, culled flight.
 

And I never returned, even as surely as my sandals scraped sand,

The water’s edge of me, the tidal flow of drifting ear deep in water,

Listening to Gods and men groan secrets unheard.
 

I left then, returned, leaving my image behind me, left to howlers,

Lemurs, quetzals and Monteverde capuchin, who held my breath

In their seams, and still do.
 

I never came back, and now it’s winter, the summer of then passed,

To retrieve the lost faces, shed skin, the chameleon dreamed,

I’ll need to travel far from you, leave your bigotry and bile.
 

And when my body drifts inside again, your walls, your fever,

Only vespers’ dusk and smokey dawn, crust of the ague, remains

That travel torn, release us from hate’s grip, my form and fold united.
 

I will be new, and you will too, when I slip once more inside your border,

Hear the errant’s disbelieving, horrified roar, the be-trodden masses.

I’ll be ready then, to stand erect, balanced, both arms ready.
 

I hope to say farewell to closed palms, only to be welcomed

In a week or lifetime or two, to open gates, walkways to settle-in wicker

Chairs to my rest, porch to our swings, quieted storms’ memory.
 

I want you, my beloved, healed and hallowed, churched Christly,

Only the love, only the forgiveness, only the compassion, only the humble,

To fight, to triumph’s return, you, my lover, once more mi patria–free.

 

The 2016 Poetry Marathon Anthology


Now available on Amazon. My poem’s on page 80.

My second year taking part in this beast, a hell of my own making but a great creative distillery, I managed to squeeze out one worthy poem at least. I’m grateful for the Jans’ generosity in hosting this annual event and in compiling this anthology of selected poems from the event. 

Peace (and purchase :)). The proceeds go to the next year’s marathon.

Gaze

Sleep, Lover Lies


You sleep with your mind awake.

I see you twitch and worry as I 

Lie inside your watching, along.

 

Your body tells your story, the 

One about anxious defenses, and

Hilly motoric reflex, fortress wall.

 

A rage induced, childhood fascists,

A jealous brother usurping control,

Lorded over a boyhood’s landscape.

 

And the son who became the man, 

Who took fury to the world, coated

Like enamel, wolfish covetousness.

 

Stuff it all, beers and candy, yearn

To a carefree kid, the promised life

Of firstborn fortune, fiefs forever.

 

Lost, love, in stifled cries un-yelled

Swallow in dragon-ful dreamscapes 

Yawn fire through loins and islands.

 

Bleed worlds inside a wall-safe, keep

Cupped palm close a vampire’d lust.

Despise the rest as marauding cheats.

 

Still I watch, tender-horrified aghast,

Thumb to forefinger circle poked hate

Necessity, wrench-tightens hope-bolt.

 

Awaken yet, chestnut eye transcribes

Silence to story and mawkish, stolen

Laments death, sleep and secrets bare.

 

Sleeping with the enemy, I gaze, boring 

Holes in the skull’s soft, vulnerable hind

Sight, believe too in my own enemy-love.

 

Lovers-valentine-lying: pixabay

Stench Of Discontent


The noise keeps me awake, 

And the static on the TV 

I don’t know how to turn on 

Let alone turn off.

 
The vibrations trip me up,

Topple me as I walk and think,

Make my knuckles swell,

Ache to type the arthritic words.

 
There’s more too, like the faces,

Eyes wrung in red rashes,

Stench like piss and rum from

Dirty denim and leaky shoes.

 
Don’t sit in my breathing space;

You’re money’s no good here.

Turn up the air and open the door.

Nod off your head twisted neck, go.
 

And I cringe and shake in despair,

Fight off the crusts of anger flung

Face off in my corner here, where?

The door, the door, where’s the door?

Saying Good-bye: Ten for Today

A deep melancholy weaves itself inside a house leaking in 

the first cool night of October. 

It shadows the shades with daylight endings 

with no thought to warmer, longer days. 

It’s a passing of sorts, the dying season. 

The year’s swan song in golden ochre and chestnut hurrahs.

 
Only this first cold day, a day where I search for socks 

in a squeaky disused drawer overflowing unmatched orphans, 

endings haunt the costumed furniture. 

Almost Halloween, though none know it’s Halloween inside. 

And only I know my mismatched socks stretch 

hodge-podge high up my booted shins.

 
These and many others are fall’s secrets, 

hidden under leaf piles and broken relationships. 

I’m sorry to see some go. I’m sorry. 

Only spring light may reveal a return on investing 

in you all these years, but only if you count it out– 

the season of us has dried up and gone. 

Careful Now

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My skin flicks daggers when they box me in, droves of rolling wind-shielded, multi-tasking dryvexters, head bowed, praying to the light of their battery’d gods.

Then those days of aromas, perfumes and incense, like silken smokey kisses, nibblers at my tongue and ear, lean heavy, move me, like longing in a store front window.

Our emanations, I believe, send some forest denizen half way round the world toppling hoof over antler, for the sheer shot-stream blast crumpling poise and balance.

Imagine anger and love, thrust to the sky, cannoned from skulls, like New Year’s pistols shot to heaven on midnight’s stroke, only to meet drop-down death in upturned eyes.

And so I say to fresh-plucked sprigs of another’s birthing, my charges today, “Be careful of how you speak, your intentions, jealousy and greed, for they bite hard from behind.”

 

Murderess

She wrapped me in her quilted smile 

then torched the salty fabric of us, 

tear stained and aching. 

She knees cruel in the balls. 

And I love her that way just the same. 

She hangs me up to dry, 

then cuts me down for air. 

The breathing windows of us, 

pulsating walls setting chairs rocking, 

us inside, lulled in four-arm sleep.

Sunday Morning, Pink and Black: Ten for Today


Awake. Dark room, light shivering between slatted tears in sleep’s cloth curtain, no,

It’s not cold. 

Frozen eyes, shuttered left, off kilter for Sunday morning’s churchyard calm, dazed and scarcely hunted.
 
It feels encrusted shut, my eye, right, no left–at the shake of a quiet mind’s head. 

I’m not sick.

It’s just…just…not like a Sunday. 

Swollen, itchy, red…no, I feel pink but not like a wisp of ultra violet setting rays into the dusk.

Like pulled cotton candy, taut, sticky, stretched to disappearing.

I have pink eye.

It’s red and puffy, and the itch that can’t be scratched for the contagion that she brings.

I’m catching.

Do I call in, call up, call out this small disease, this lodged discomfort, virulent invader?

I look it up.

Warning signs, good sense and no regrets; I confess to all I anticipate in a day’s walk-about, 

a Sunday.

“I…I have pink eye. No, I think my hands touching my eye, touching you.” Can I see you without touching you?
 
Will your money be repulsed, sweet-toothed craving not crusty but cultured,

the dissonance like shimmied NO, a gulp, grimace and gag.

I should stay.

But I go, and I lie without guilt, smile without repercussion, moan without regret and leave, sailing

like the marine layer over our beach city, puffy, cloudy, windy and cool-breezy could care less.

I’ve planted seeds now.

The growing season well nigh past still yields a muddy crop, sunken, aphid-riddled, shriveled dawn.

I took camera digitally clicked snapshots.

Thick waist sloped into fleshy hips, fortresses to meaty buttock questions to the sheets.

Am I asleep? 

Or am I just pretending you loved me kindly, tenderly with your chestnut grin and molten eyes,
 
clear, clean and molasses.
 
No, not pink. Ink. Like night, pintip pupil black.