Image of shelter


Light verse

(For Henry Taylor's class in formalism)

Cookbook Clerihew

Marcella Hazan
never cooks with one pan
when messing up dozens
fills so many more ovens.

. . .

'D.C. Politics Hour' Clerihew

Radio's Mark Plotkin
sure interrupts a lot in
his hurry to make politicos
confess their pecadillos.

. . .

Thoughts on the Race for the At-Large City Council Seat

We all know the candidate Barry,
though from his campaign many tarry.
That stuff near his nose
scares political pros --
his baggage weighs too much to carry.

. . .

Revenge-Seeking in the Senate of These United States

Appeals court for Judge Charles Pickering?
The matter set Washington bickering.
Lott gummed up the Senate
until, he said, when it
repented -- and stopped all the snickering.

. . .


An overaged Thurmond named Strom
kept his seat on the Hill far too long.
His staff dyed his hair;
he was propped in his chair.
But in voting he just soldiered on.

Two-Hour Story Meeting Haiku
(with a Brief Coda in the Form of a Note to Self)

The belly of the buddha
behind the big desk
bespeaks bad habits.

(Go running tonight!)

June, 2001

. . .

The Sin of Forgetfulness

Melted another ChapStick in the dryer this morning --
      how many is that this year?
It fell to the floor as I was pulling out the sheets
      and when I picked it up
the cylinder was fiery to the touch,
      and empty.

June, 2001

. . .

Mosquito Haiku

Tiny shadow at
my ankle. Faint buzz beside
one ear. Itching starts.

June, 2001

. . .

At the Sushi Bar

We talked of lovers
and porn magazines
and the latest gossip,

and the sushi chef standing
there in front of us
must have overheard all --

Susannah's obsessions,
the time you kissed Chris,
our tastes in videotapes --

but he never looked up
from slicing dark tuna into
perfect, imperturbable rectangles.

June, 2001

. . .


      For Kenboy, on a dare...

An old glass, now cloudy in places,
slowly unsilvers itself on the closet door:
After many years any mirror may decide
it's seen enough of human longing,
of crass ambition, of aging and loss.

Yet for you the mirror comes to life --
picturing clearly the arms eager to pull another in,
the thighs that can barely contain their thrusting.
The mirror sees your smoldering eyes and thinks,
For such as you was this silver mined.

December 30, 2000

. . .


A short poem about a lengthening silence

Would you rather me
over what this means --

                                      or not?

November, 2000

. . .

Coffeeshop, Skidmore College

(after William Butler Yeats)

That is no country for old men.
The young, in orange socks and
day-glow-green tennis shoes,
mock their elders at every table,

laughing in baggy pants and spiked
hair (tinted rust, or the purple of
lollipops). They don costly sunglasses
that filter out our scrutiny.

November 2000

. . .

Sidewalk, Fourteen Fifteen and a Half Twenty-Second Street

A leaf
pictured in the concrete
where it fell -- a perfect impression:
stem and capillaries distinct; one edge torn slightly.
Impromptu fossil.

A cinquain exercise for "Poetry Bootcamp" class, March, 2000

. . .

"List of Plates" (Excerpt)

Fig. 8: Brisk morning breezes (A, B)
enliven the flight paths of pigeons
swooping and soaring and turning
by twos and threes in the brick-walled
canyons (see inset) between
office buildings downtown.

August, 2000

. . .

Breakfast-Dishes Haiku

Rinsing dried wine from
the bottom of last night's glass:
thick scent of roses.


. . .

Anticipation Haiku

Waiting for the kiss
we both know is not far off
is itself thrilling.

March, 2000

. . .

No, More!

(For ____, as he wrestles with temptation.)

I spot them slipping in the door
and wonder, Did he say, "No more,"
or was the comma placed before,
with an exclamation after?

January, 2000

. . .

Driving to Rehoboth, August, 1999

Haze like soup.
Jeep radio distills
first movement of
Triple Concerto,
broadcast from
100 miles away.
Notes, scales,
arpeggios emerge
from static,
fade among
brown waving
corn, soaring
hawks, butterflies
blowing past
roadside stands
selling cantaloupe
and tomatoes.
Then finally --
one last run
of trilling violin
and piano --
a talk show,
loud and clear,
from a closer station.

. . .

Trailer surrounded by
the rusting carcasses of
a hundred riding mowers

Man on the highway shoulder
in a motorized wheelchair

. . .

A boy sits backwards on a bicycle he's riding along the shoulder of a two-lane road, just over the Mason-Dixon line. It's a small bike with a banana seat. He holds his hands together in front of him and steers by balancing, wobbling now and then as he peers over his shoulder to check the road ahead. He is smoking a cigarette. He wears a tie-dyed shirt and a baseball cap, turned backwards, so that in the whole vision the cap and the bike are going the right direction, but the boy is not. I give him a thumbs-up as I pass. He scowls back, the way any teenager would who was defiant enough to ride his bike backwards.

. . .

Poem for Kelly [unfinished]

Some people, and most
religions, suppose
that affection and lust
can be tamed like dogs --
swatted into obedience
with rolled-up newspapers,
forced to smell the places
where they were unable
to restrain themselves.

August, 1999

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