My Poetry

4 Conversations

This is some of the poetry I have written over the past couple of years. If you like it, tell me so and why; if you don't like it, tell me so and why. I really like it when people tell me why!

Photograph at Dusk

She stands in the garden's goldfish pool like some imported lily,

delicate wavelets radiating from her calves

and her grey pleated skirt blooming in the wind

that flaps glossy leaves and plucks at close-folded jessamine.

In this evening all is blue: the water is blue,

the vines are blue,

her hair is blue

and wafts about her smooth moon face

one moment after turning, one before

she smiles and says, "Hello, friend.

You're here, too?"


Most trees are bare, brown. The others are dim.

No fish flicks the surface of the lake.

Warmth does not rise in water.

The sky is no color at all. Not gray, not white.

Perhaps there is a duck swimming somewhere.

There usually is.

No bird noises. Only the crickets, who unknowingly sing

their own requiems from under wet leaves

and thickly twigged shrubs.

Slowly the longest night of the year

darkens the sky between the stars

and makes the crickets colder.

Unicorn Hunt

And though the maiden's ribbon was a gash in his pure white throat

seeping yellow satin blood

he bore her no ill will

but silently his eyes spoke to her

of cold rainbow mist off mountain waterfalls

and the fire-hearts of stars.

His horn was spiralled opal-ice

that she was not afraid to trace with her fingertip.

She glanced away and saw her father's arm raise the spear.

For an instant, all was motion -

she rose, the spear flew, there was a wild swirl of white -

and the unicorn had vanished,

plunged once more into the forest's shadow-bright sanctuaries.

As her life bled out around the spear,

her eyes held her father's and said
Because he was beautiful

and he had done no harm.

The Air-whale

There is a whirring behind me.

Turning, it is the purring

of a little air-whale

nuzzling about the walls

and ceiling.

A silver balloon with motor and propellors -

tails with three fins.

It is as smooth as black pianos

and as bare.

No place for eyes

staring through nighttime water

at slowly swimming divers.

Placid rover, a whale,

bred miniature and airborne

but a whale, still,

with the ocean's vast serenity.

In the barn-shaped kitchen

it nestles at the high ceiling

and is silent.

The boys scowl upward, shake the control,

growl about ladders and batteries.

As they move away, I see

a rubber-gloved hand stroking rubber-like skin,

divers riding a flipper as a silent glider,

a darkness heavy as curled-up sleep,

long flukes vanishing into deep blue caverns.



The twins, boy and girl, hold each other

as they walk through the woods. Their feet are soft as rabbits',

their eyes dark as deer's.

An owl sings to the mouse in its talons.

The children find a hollow, nestle in dry leaves like eggs.

They sleep, still holding each other,

and the owl sings again against the moon.


Walking to choir I hear a mockingbird

and halt in my robes, listening to him sing

from the shadows of leaves. He sings as water flows,

simply, knowing his purpose.

I could not sing with years of study

as he is born to do.


Whales sing as well, in the cold of the ocean.


are best known, their tunes

shifting as currents shift.

Their moaning notes echo off coral as they swim

beneath the abacus of stars.


Take the beauty of the numbers that made the abacus obsolete.

Roman alphabetics were never so graceful.

For instance: 8. It is elegant, the

twirl, the twin

moons kissing. What swirls of sand, what

sinuous dune inspired this Arabian curl?


Schubert's Ave Maria plays in the night,

when I am too tired to be distracted.

The violin is a soft dawn rain, so sweet.

If you've never heard it,

it is like the music made with the stars' turning,

with the intricate minuet of moons,

with the tilting of Saturn's brim of rings,

with the slow glide of the glowing sun,

with the drawing and spinning of all circles.

Curio Cabinet

A veil of dust cloaks the doll,

prematurely graying her walnut curls

and dimming the splendor

of her sparkling pink ballgown. Long

she has awaited the touch

of a human hand, to be

played with and admired, and her hair

brished and the folds of her dress

smoothed, as she first was.

She gazes hopefully at the approaching girl - whose hand

positions a statuette

amid clumps of adorable porcelain toddlers

and miniature beribboned carousel horses,

never straying to those already

installed, paying them no mind.

With watery eyes the doll and her consorts

cheerlessly greet the new addition

to the ranks of relics.


She sits alone, posed

like a mannequin, her only movement

quick eyelash flickers.

Her eyes are seeing something else, a daydream

or remembrance.

Her lips are firm, as unnerving as a fang

in how they never bend, never tighten, never part.

They whisper: She got like this

after that tragedy; you remember.

She's heartbroken, poor thing. But still...

She was a little unnatural even before. So still.

Look, you can't even see her breathe.

A new-grown man once thought her beautiful,

like a serene caladium

dreaming off into nothing.

He wanted to paint her portrait.

He wanted to kiss those lips into a smile.

He wanted to marry her.

They whisper again: Wasn't it horrible, that

charming young man

being murdered? She must be devastated. They even

called a few condolences over,

observed no response,

murmured: How well she's taking it.

But they didn't know.

That it was she who had slipped the knife

between his ribs, she who had precisely sliced

his adoring portrait into passive snakes

coiling on the rug.

Then left the apartment and walked to the subway,

purse over shoulder and smile on her face.

Those who saw her shuddered

as though seized by sudden snow,

for through that smile they could see her soul.

Broken Skin

1. Take-out

Tooth-tearing crusty skin off pasty meat

no longer shielded by a deep-fried shell

slick with the steaming humors of the skillet

bending bloodless joints backwards to fracture

and slurp in muscle near toasted bone

--with the ease of dying.

2. Instructions

To disassemble a hand:

slice on the lines of the palm,

peeling skin to the wrist;

caress the sleek muscles of the palm

before severing with civilized steel.

Again, slice: on folds of knuckles.

Separate fingerbones

with the gentleness of a fossil-handler.

Quietly obliterate the whirls of identity

through smoothly rolling blood.

Keep fingernails to bead a bracelet.

It is as easy as dying.

The Glass-blown Sky

Nothing came of my summer. I hated the days I spent

forcing words on paper, the bulky grotasques

I hacked from fine marble.

A disfigurer of loveliness, I tried to refigure myself,

my mind, to create beauty instead of destroying it.

I whipped myself with musts and shoulds:

This poem must be perfect, I should be able to do it!

An idea came: I had no spontaneity.

If I let words come on their own, oerhaps they would be better.

But I scorned that down. Writing is work!

Poems don't trot up and sing, please write me!

Let words come! Let sheep

form democracy and overthrow shepherd and sheepdog!

Is that sensible?

But I had forgotten the mother of all words,


that moment like a night tree suddenly brought to light

by a crack of lightning,

too quick to see the branches dip with the wind, but

you've seen it, the white branches, the

sharp shadows, the startle,

and you'll remember how beautiful it was for the rest of your life.

I didn't see it. I was crouched

over the coffee table, agonizing over synonyms.

If I had seen the lightning-tree, I might also have seen

the clouds sail east two hours later

leaving silence and stars in the glass-blown sky

after their wake had rippled away.

And each star might have been a poem,

and I might have found one,

shining perfectly, that I loved,

and kept it in the private inner library of my mind.

And, in silent sleepless midnights when time might have vanished,

I might

have whispered it

back to the glass-blown sky.

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