TOO SOON

The leaves will soon begin
their descent from the small tree,
already brown, their beauty
departing before they do so.

They are bilobular, an odd word,
but one that belongs in a poem,
even this one it seems, and it is
their shape that you first notice.

The tree will all to soon be naked,
branches sticking into the air
as if searching for a breath
that refuses to arrive.

But we know that soon after
the small buds will open
and orchid-like flowers will appear
to our all too temporary joy.

DEMANDED TIME

I’ve made a practice
which feels more like a demand,
that each day I take a few
moments or more and stop
whatever else I was, or
should have been, doing
to write a poem.

There are days, perhaps this
one where it seems more
a short bit of prose to which
I have added line breaks
despite the protest
of the words, condemning them
to bear the mockery, and
others when I take a poem,
ignore its inherent rhythm
and pass it off as prose,
that insult remembered,
the words plotting revenge
but lying low, waiting
for the perfect moment
to destroy a poem I know
is worthy of publication.

EMERGENT

When I least expect it, one
may unfurl wings and lift
into a clouded sky searching
for the hidden sun, or

it may wander off, a child
momentarily free of parents
off to discover the real world, or

it may retreat back into
the pen, unwilling to be seen,
objecting to its misuse, or

it may sit in front of the TV
and watch soap operas
and game shows, not caring
what is on the screen, just
escaping from the damned page, or

it may sit still, be tucked away
and hope one day to be accepted
for all the world to see.

EIRE

There are two principal problems
with Ireland, and I found both
to be utterly insurrmountable.

Every town, even Galway City
at any time of day or night
looked like it should be a postcard.

Add to that the horror that in
every pub I visited it was assumed
that if asked I would sing a song

or, realizing I have no singing
voice, I would recite a poem
from William Butler Yeats

which I sadly could not, yet after
the third pint of Guinness
I could, I think, recite my name.

QINGYUAN’S “COME CLOSER”

Walk slowly
through this bramble of words.
Do not allow yourself
to become tangled in them
though they will certainly try.
Tear out this page
burn it for faint warmth
or steep it into tea,
reduce it to simple fibers.
Then it will be
a poem
of some small worth.

A reflection on Case 10 of the Shobogenzo Koans (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

DARE I SAY

Few will dare say it, but I
have always imagined myself
among the few at most things
so I suppose it falls to me.

The lifecycle of the poet
incises an arc and there are
recognizable nodes along its path
from beginning to end.

The first poem published in a
journal, no matter how small,
then one in a publication others
have heard of, if never read.

Next you are in good company in
the Review you could find
on the shelves of your bookstore
in the deep past when bookstores existed,

then onward to the self-published
book or chapbook, and maybe one
by a noted press, the apex
for almost any poetic career.

But gravity takes hold, the descent
will be sharp and often ugly, marked
by the poet believing the blurbs
on the back cover of his book.

VOW

I swore, once, that the poem
I was struggling with would be my last.

Actually I swore that more than once,
several, maybe mamy times in fact.

In my defense, that poem
and the others that followed were
each the last I wrote
under their respective oaths,
so there was a fulfillment,
however partial, of my vow.

I am not making such a vow
with this one, however, and before
you say it, yes it is a poem
despite what you may think of it.

FOUND POEM

Each morning, before
I finish my morning cappuccino,
I scan my email, hoping to find
a perfect poem that has
gone forever unclaimed.

I have enough skill
to alter it sufficiently
that I can safely claim it
as my own, if the owner
ever were to appear,
by adding, After XXXXX.

All I have ever found
is the odd limerick and
frankly I can to better
on my own, not to mention
I have been to Nantucket.

PENNED IN

He stares at the collection
of pens crammed tightly into
a coffee mug whose handle
had long since broken away.

He knows some are dead,
awaiting a proper burial,
following a brief memorial
service paying homage
to their illustrious past.

He is certain that one
or more is secretly harboring
the poem or story that he
has been meaning to write,
the one that the journal
on the desk has been waiting
its entire lifetime to receive.

NEVER EVER

For those who cannot see the picture above, please imagine this text is the most hated font of all time*:

There are certain sins
a poet learns never to commit,
whether by teaching or
simply bad experience.

Poetic sins come in many
shapes and sizes, grammatical,
typographical, metaphorical,
or just about any -al you choose.

Bad rhyme is a minefield, unable
to know slant from abject miss,
forced form a train wreck with you
at the controls, blinded by ambition.

But the cardinal sin, the one
for which there can never beĀ 
any excuse, mortal to a poem, is
to think you can use this font.

*comic sans, of course.