Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not Enough Water, Too Much Sun (A Didactic Poem)

I could tell you, "carpe diem, quam minimum
credula postero," or I could show you the half-dead orchid
on my windowsill; too much sun for its tender
heart, not enough water for
its lust. Or perhaps the pungent field of

mustard flowers yellowing the blaze; the rhythmic kerplunking of
gutter-rain on the pane; the first fallen autumn
leaf on the man-made variegated stones that encircle
the maple in the spiritless
strip-mall plaza from which it

fell; or the wind clattering the bamboo chimes hanging
from the awning of my mother's porch ... oh ... perhaps
you get the idea. Every poem (idea) needs
an image (or two) to hang
its hat on—embodiment of the abstract of whatever

it is the poet thinks (s/he never knows)
the poem is about, even knowing a poem is never
about any thing. It's all metaphor,
this physical expression of whatever it is. Don't tell
me about your broken

heart or your dream of peace—I've heard it
all before; it means nothing to me without
the tabby at its latest mouse-kill or the bloody
remains of a stillborn's
placenta. Shut up about

how you feel—let me run my own fingers over
the seams. Let the picture paint a thousand words, the scent of it
fill her senses, the sound of it ring in his ears long after
the words have gone the way
of all words:

bloody, wind chime, orchid, bamboo;
gutter, leaf, placenta, sun;
tabby cat, mustard field,
raindrops, stone ...
hat hooks I believe in you.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Out On The Edge

of the beach where
the sound meets the sand
there is a long-dead maple tree
fallen in last winter’s storm blocking
the way from the cabin my grandfather built
so many years ago to the stretch of beach beneath
the bluffs where nature has its way and no man can tear
it asunder. The sun is dying a beautiful death on the horizon of
this pre-fall evening, its blood-spray across the sky that is closing its
eyes against the parting. There are days I cannot bear the passage of time.

(For Eve, remembering...)


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Art Is

"Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, 'I am alive, and my life has meaning.'" ~Karl Paulnack

Friday, August 1, 2008

What Doesn’t Kill Us

For Eve, remembering Sky
(February 17, 1979 - August 26, 2007)

More drew us together even
with (because
of, I would have said) two children than pulled
us apart or so
I thought for thirteen lonely (I see
now) years. It was a suicide that divided us
at last: your baby brother who could no longer
bear Atlas’s burden, could
no longer be what
being is. The earth
rolled off
his lean shoulders—a boulder crashing
down the long ravine you
& I walked, hand-in-
hand with our children—cracking the
wind, knocking you off
your feet, knocking you for
a loop, breaking
the ties that bind; your entrails ripped
from far beneath your heart & just
above your womb.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What MUST You Be?

"Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves. What human beings can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature. This need we may call self-actualization."
~Abraham Maslow,
20th century humanistic psychologist,
from Motivation & Personality

Abraham Maslow taught that the need to grow, to reach our potential, and to self-actualize is an absolutely fundamental need.

According to Maslow, this need to actualize is not a "wish" or a "desire" or a "sure would be nice to have" kind of thing. It's a NEED (like that need we have for oxygen).

To the extent that we’ve taken care of our more basic needs and we’re not satisfying this need to self-actualize, we’re gonna live with anxiety, regret and disillusionment. Period.

The specific manifestation of our self-actualizing process is obviously unique and varies greatly from person to person. As Maslow points out, in one individual it may "take the form of the desire to be an excellent parent, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventing things."

However, in all cases, the question remains: What must you be?

From Brian Johnson's

Saturday, May 19, 2007


(for Burt, remembering)

The river that wends
its way through the dark
forest of the mind is not a way from or to
but a forever fluttering falling
ribbon of no
consequence—its beginning its
end as (un)knowable as
g-d. What would we make of
the trees that line
its banks, shadow
its course
from the unclouded
sun? Who is it that floats neither
coming or going in a simple
birch bark canoe? This
is no marked year, no specificity
of time. We can never look away.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

April 8, 1959

This is all
I am now as
all I was
before. The world
turns steadily on
its axis; the amaranthine
waves lap
their shores; the sun ever-
sentry shines
regardless. Like the dead
the days go on leaving; like
the days we
who live go on
living. All
at once I grieve
for what was and is no
more and celebrate what
is and always
will be.