Friday, April 28, 2017

Drowned Spring

Fall betrayed us. Winter shattered us.
Drowned spring brings less hope than anger.
Our fields wait for burning summer

to raise some crop that can feed the heart-hunger
of betrayed women. Of those to whom
drowned spring brings less hope than anger,

condemned for the crime of carrying a womb.
Witness the truth and shattered surprise
of betrayed women, of those to whom

luckless losers told loving lies
and raised shadow-fists in the name of love.
Witness the truth and shattered surprise

of men who swore by some God above
whom they had raised in their own selfish image
and raised shadow-fists in the name of love.

The year turns against those who batter us.
Our fields wait for burning summer.
Fall betrayed us. Winter shattered us,
our hands reach out for the handle of a hammer.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Monday, April 24, 2017

Deadlock Victim

Rerun the transaction. Another process
claims the same resources. You have been chosen
as the deadlock victim.

It’s nothing personal. The optimized queuing algorithm
says you are the lowest priority. Resources are insufficient.
You have been chosen as the victim.

Deadlock. Rerun the transaction.
Blame system resources,
not the algorithm. Blame the pie, not the slicer.
Denied insurance? A loan? Foreclosed ahead of schedule?
No appeal. Resubmit your application.
Still the deadlock victim.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Epic Protest Poems

is an ongoing poetic project at epicprotestpoems.com. Check it out. My contribution is today's: epicprotestpoems.com/2017/04/13/tiel-aisha-ansari
Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Manhattan Beach, 2064

Cedar log burns, fragrant, smokeless
splash of light, heat
on cold dry sand.

Ahead, surf gleams in starshine,
whispers chill salt to my cheek
where warm flannel scratches.

To my right, waves growl
along the jetty’s broken riprap.

Tiny sand fleas rustle in dry seaweed,
hop on my feet where I sit
smooth pebble in my left hand
rough shell-shard in my right.

It would be 2064, if there were still calendars.
It would autumn equinox, if there was still time.
This place would be Manhattan Beach, north of Rockaway, if there were still maps.
I would be a hundred years old, if I’m still alive.

No clouds. No moon tonight. No smell of gasoline, exhaust, sound of traffic.
Only firelight picking sand-ripples out of the dark,
limning my footprints, only mine on all this beach

once strung with cotton candy, salt-water taffy, sunscreen flavored with coconut and banana oil.

Behind the low bluff of sand. Behind the dune grass. Something rustles in the dark.
I tell myself skunk. I tell myself garter snake.
I am alone.
I smell the urine of the wolf.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Monday, April 03, 2017

Coral Justifies Bleaching Itself

... as the algae provide the coral with 90% of its energy, after expelling the algae the coral begins to starve. –Wikipedia on coral bleaching

We have to expel these foreign (colored)
elements. Although we benefit from (can’t do without)
their labor, they are a threat (essential)
to our way of life.

So out with them. Our body politic, purified (whitened)
stands ever stronger (bleached skeleton
starving
dead).

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Agate

polishing agate
white fades like a cataract
revealing an eye

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Reading: March 26th 2017

Joan at the Lane Writer's Guild very kindly recorded the reading and posted the video.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Monday, March 27, 2017

Newspaper Taxis

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the…

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” The Beatles

Newspaper folds to Boeing silhouette
taxis down a runway where the jets
appear and disappear: a liquid shimmer
on asphalt, mirage or something dimmer.
The business changes. Technologic ruses
shore up circulation, but the news is
waiting for a savior like Godot
to rescue it from being thought too slow.

Takeoff’s late, reporter on the beat.
You can’t catch the talking heads who tweet
away like birds in midair conflict zones.
Climb into your paper jet. Launch drones
in search of next hour’s topic. You can’t write
the copy ‘til you have it in your sights.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, March 24, 2017

Character and Intensity of Precipitation

Moderate intensity; mostly benevolent in character. Raises flowers and nourishes crops.
Heavy. Spiteful. Comes with high wind; damages trees and power lines.
Light. Languid. Can barely be bothered to dampen the sidewalk.
Moderate, freezing. Malevolent. Sneaks up on you. Avoid driving.
Heavy without wind. Indifferent. Watch for local flooding and rising rivers.
Changeable with strong wind gusts. Mischievous. Eats umbrellas for lunch.
Light, with bright sunshine. Playful. Throws rainbows.
Heavy, with bright sunshine. Dangerous. Throws large hailstones.
Heavy disguised as moderate. Untrustworthy. Monitor voting record carefully.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, March 10, 2017

Waiting to See if the New Ban is Overturned

leaf shadows quiver
uncertain on the window
expect storm or sun

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Sanctuary

Sanctuary. Sanctuary. All that lives needs sanctuary.
--William Stafford, Citizen Here on Earth

Breathe it. Where you feel safe.
Georgia outlawed sanctuary cities in 2009.
California, Connecticut, New Mexico, Colorado are sanctuary states.
Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine are sanctuary cities.
So are Beaverton and Clatsop. So is South Tucson
but not the rest of Tucson, Phoenix, or Scottsdale.

Seattle, Puyallup, Kent,
Boston, Amherst, Cambridge:
safe. Breathe free. Chicago. New York City
where the lady lifts her lamp above the harbor.
North Dakota: State Penitentiary and South West Multiple County Corrections Center
are sanctuaries.

Dallas but not Houston. Montpelier, Winooski.
Sanctuary landscape changes fast. Watch the news.
Small towns make tough calls: federal dollars
can mean loss of elder care, Meals on Wheels,
road and sewer work. Hard choices for public servants.
We can't guarantee protection.
We can't protect ourselves
from the blackmailers and bullies
we've put in charge.

Breathe where you feel safe. It's hard.
Some days anxiety clutches your throat
pounds your heart against the inside of your chest
darkens the bright sky that arches over
your new home, your old home,
my home, this place we share.
Sky that wraps around this entire earth.
Maybe I can't protect you.
I will hold your hand.

List of sanctuary states, counties and cities, circa January 2017

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, March 03, 2017

You Bring Out The...

The exercise: Write a poem titled "You Bring Out The _______ In Me" where the blank should be filled with something no one would ever actually use to describe you. (Or so you hope.)

Previous take was here

You Bring Out The Lynch Mob In Me

You bring out the midnight knock, the knotted noose in me
The sheet with holes, the burning cross, the blown-up black church in me
You bring out things I never knew in me, the jackboots, submachine guns, barbed wire in me
You bring out the knife and the gasoline-filled tire in me
The chokehold, gun to the back of the head, jail-cell "suicide" with mysterious camera malfunction in me

You bring out the fear in me and promise a wall to keep me safe
You bring out the howling hatred in me and promise a war to make me strong
With you I burn mosques, bomb synagogues, desecrate burial grounds
You bring out the spite in me and bloat it on a diet of alternative facts
Be careful, Mr. President: the things you bring out in me cannot be put down so easily
and, unlike dogs, will turn and bite the hands that feed.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Reveal

She promised you you would see her again.

So you imagine her with a thousand faces
waiting for you beyond the clouds,
beneath the sea, deep under the earth.

You know the straight path can only go awry. You write
in glancing arabesques, hoping
to reveal her shape, as curling waves by Hokusai
reveal space.

You never look-- or is it hidden from you--
what we, helpless adoring, see plain as day.

The horned shadow at your feet.

Your frame
--a fearful symmetry.

For Peter Beagle

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, February 17, 2017

Report and Forecast

Good news after bad. The snow all melted.
The immigration ban is dying in court. The legal case looks strong.
The dam did not collapse.

Good news, but what next?
Dead trees stand in a flooded pasture.
Yesterday was Day Without Immigrants. The hallways of my city’s schools
rang empty. A voiceless protest.
Today the coast was sunny and windless
but storms are forecast. Fishermen tie up their boats
and double-check the knots.
The ridges of the Coast Range look like knuckles against the sky
knuckles on a fist raised
in silent protest.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How We Got Here

Some of us walked. Some were born here.
Some came by ship and plane.
Some were escaping famine. Some were following a dream.
Some swam across a river.
Some traveled first-class. Some were the cargo.
Some crawled out of the underworld through a hole in the earth.
Some came to join families already here. Some were alone in the world.
Some were adults. Some were children. Some hadn’t been born yet.
Some are still waiting their turn.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside