Now and then, inspired by Emily Anderson’s wonderful Bluebird Fairies (Check them out! Get a pack! Support Artists!), I draw what I call a Slip Fairy instead of writing a daily poem. Here are a couple of recent ones. (Slip Fairy because they’re drawn with the non-dominant hand.)
WORK FOR THE DAY
Your assignment: design a container
for the sea. It must embrace each whale
and fleck of plankton. Of course, you will think
of your favorite tropical fish, the rich
coral canyons, the deep kelp forests,
the sea otters and singing dolphins, but
you must must include the rest:
great white sharks and red tides,
the deadly stinging jellyfish.
Your container must hold every calm
and billow, every island and basin
and estuary and brackish backwater.
Leave nothing out. The tsunami must be
there, and the pale blue impossible calms
after the storms have passed.
I’m reduced to looking up old prompts and combining them. This is the result of two: “make up the world,” and “new proverb.”
In this world, nine stitches
hold Time together.
You’ll need waxed thread,
a curved bookbinder’s needle.
When you have finished
sewing up Time’s spine,
all the eggs in your basket
will hatch at once. One swallow
will settle on your hand
to twitter up the summer
and two will call from a bush,
then lead you on.
Follow them to a meadow
where a red morning sky
is opening the roses.
All the horses you have wished for
will thunder from the mountains.
Choose one and look in its mouth,
but don’t believe a word.
Wrote this one early on and forgot to post it.
POSTCARDS FROM THE ROAD
How travel assaults the senses!
Black pudding and grilled tomato
with a poached egg stealthily pocketed
for who in full jetlag could eat
such things so early, or at all?
And who would offend
the dear old hosts of the Irish B & B?
Pushed underneath the lumpy bunk
in the smoky German hostel,
what might once have been
a chicken wing.
And who could forget
that rainful cycling trip through France,
the flagrant scent of lavender?
It was all rehearsal: ways to dampen
anxiety. Yoga, Qigong, prayer.
meditation. Long walks. Gardening. Art.
Old household skills: bread and soup and cookies
and soap. Getting along with others. I
recall how the Brits kept going during
the blitz, my aunts and uncles in Poland
after the war. You’ve had the dream, I think.
You’re in a play, about to go onstage,
but you don’t remember your lines or worse
never learned them, or worst of all you’ve never
even seen this play, and the director says,
“It’s theater, for Chrissake. Fake it. Make
something up! The curtain’s rising. You’re on.”
THE END OF POETRY MONTH
~a manifesto, or possibly just a rant
People who write poems do it ALL THE TIME.
Even when they aren’t writing.
When they’re walking, eating,
sitting in the coffee shop staring out the window.
When they’re watching movies,
drinking with friends.
ALL THE TIME.
And once a year,
in the cruelest month,
you haul them out,
put them on display,
act like you care.
THEY ARE NOT LIKE A DISEASE
requiring an awareness month.
You do not pay them a thing
and they do not ask you to.
Maybe they should.
Maybe they should
go on strike.
No bookstore readings,
No new poems.
The extremists among them might
knock poetry books from library shelves,
might stand on street corners.
Their placards might read
NOT POETRY MONTH
HAVE YOU NOTICED?
“. . around the edges of oddness”
~A Bluebird Fairy by Emily Anderson
You won’t find it
in halls of ivy, or
in the chambers of kings.
It isn’t between the covers
of carefully curated
volumes available only
to members with reservations.
Never in anything
by color or size.
Never in anything glossed
or listed or rewarded.
It’s teetering on a tooth
from a reconstructed
on the rim of a sixpence
balanced on a pole
balanced on the rubber
nose of a clown
riding a unicycle on
a tightrope stretched
between a stormcloud
and the beak of a raven.
It’s lurking in the garden dirt
under the left thumbnail
of the weaver’s second
daughter. If you want it,
you might start there.
STILL LIFE WITH VAN GOGH’S EAR
Gala (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova), c. 1936
Pink chrysanthemums melt and spread
across the surface of the black-bound bible.
To the left, a clear glass jar of yellow pencils,
each with a small, fierce face and tiny
wings. The ear,
no longer fresh,
has dropped a bit of blood
on the Spanish lace table covering.
Outside the thinly-curtained window,
the sun shines over a field of what we presume
are red poppies. At least,
that’s what we’re meant to presume.
THE POET’S STUDY
(oil on plywood, 4’ x 8’)
~after David Weinstock
Not a simple abstraction—
if there is such a thing
as simply abstract—
Under the brown glaze,
The finest edgings
Are those human faces
in the cloudiness
at the center,
or are they cats,
or planets circling
a central sun,
or is it—a bowl?
Or is it merely the gold
at the center of everything?