Page 52: Impounding the Overflow

I think it was during National Book Week that people on facebook used to post, say, the 3rd sentence on page 52 of whatever book was closest at hand. This is a found poem from 2012, cobbled together from a bunch of those sentences.




Methanogens, red paper hearts, 

white paper lace, cartoon cupids, 

grey seals, are archaea. 

The central brainstem stands up

like a fist on an arm, renowned 

for many haul-out sites

over and around it, 

dominating it both physically and mentally..

Every computer fits easily on the page

by impounding the overflow 

from the spring into a reservoir.

Besides being a theological dilemma, 

it is also a judicial one–

think about it critically.

I think it was this line of reasoning 

that roused me or maybe 

it was my desperation that made 

me unconsciously pound the door 

with the back of my head.

That was, ‘I love you.’


Obtain title to “desert land” 

by irrigating twenty acres.

As you begin, understand 

that the Indians’ new homes 

are ‘settled, fixed, and permanent.’

as a product of their metabolism. 

Lounge in the sun and enjoy 

the abundance of fish

Consider the Indians friends and neighbors. 

Produce the flammable, odorless 

gas methane. Explore flash 

content on other webs.

Go to sleep now like a good child.


Cooper treads through the darkness, 

enters the tent, and is asleep instantly.

Winter Prompt #15: DOTE

(and then this happened)



Winter Prompt #15

Today, the given word is “dote.”

Perhaps I’ll write about a goat?

Or something I wrote about before?

A Dr. Suessy sort of note?


I will not write about a goat.

I will not write about a stoat

or a note in Dr. Suess’s style.

How about a winter coat?


Is a stoat anything like a weasel?

Do weasels eat oats?

People make winter coats from weasel fur,

but only when it’s white.  In winter.


Maybe weasels eat groats?

This is ridiculous. A kind of compote

of rhyming words on this white page.

Don’t quote me, please.


Compote, compose, compost. . .

Take the mote out of my eye,

and don’t quote me, unless to say,

“It’s all she wrote.”


With the mote removed, I can see!

Do you know that anecdote?

Anyhow, “It’s all she wrote.”

I’ll end this with an antidote.


This needs work.


I’ve found the ultimate source for Found Poems.


Kari #2:  found words


~Found in the Reviews section of ARTnews, February, 2014

A meditation on the nature of time,

morphing gradually from one mode

to another without giving up its own past.

The way time can never be absolute,

ordering the mundane details of existence.

A new spiritual age is on the horizon

using a variety of intermingled tongues,

seven pedestrians with peculiar gaits,

human beings resting atop ethereal pods

that resemble clouds or stylized islands.

The figure eight on its side is the symbol

for infinity, resounding with existential

wisdom and enduring hope. Celebratory,

yet born of a certain solemnity.  Curious,

but nevertheless arresting.

A fixation with axolotls and subsequent

metamorphosis:  uncanny and matter-of-fact,

premeditated and spontaneous.

A sense of déjà vu, largely sardonic.

Mouths took over entire heads.

The beyond is a titillating, prurient

world of masks, the unlikely oddly askew.

Race, culture, the unreliability of signs

can downshift into impiety like

an extra-large, cold-weather onesie.

(This could go on infinitely.)


If you aren’t connected,
come to my kitchen.
It is blue,
full of big people.

This world is alive,
as good as rain, so
talk like a motionless eagle
eyeing the valley.

Build a chapel
in your mind in your hour
of inactivation. Fetch me
black pepper and
spheres full of god.

Sometimes it’s as if I am
a large part of your hands,
your primate finger,
your clapping palm.

I shall never end
in irrepressible springtime.
Give thanks.
We are already tired, yes,
my birding friends.

You can defend
painting the summer,
managing some sort of time.


I have no idea what the inspiration for this was. It has a Translation Party ring to it.


in the medium saucepan you bought at the fair, melt
one block of yellow Irish butter
one cup of coconut cream

smooth in
a smudge of Greg’s crystal clover honey
the scent of lemon
several costly saffron threads dissolved in sherry wine
allow to cool


in a marble mortar with a porphyry pestle crush:

find a big brass bowl and fill with:
fine farina flour
sifted semolina
coarse French sea salt

use your father’s ash-handled carpenter’s hammer to crack:
black walnuts from the farm on the hill
butternuts from the library tree
discard the shells

with a sharp German chef’s knife on a Vermont Maple table chop:
the black walnuts from the farm on the hill
butternuts from the library tree
and canned macadamia nuts an old enemy mailed from Madagascar
set them aside in a blue clay bowl

With a wire whip whisk quickly into the fine farina flour,  salted semolina and coarse French sea salt the crushed cardamon, cinnamon, cumin, cloves.  Pour the melted, cooled yellow Irish butter and coconut cream with Greg’s crystal clover honey and scent of lemon, costly saffron and sherry wine over  the fine farina flour, sifted semolina and coarse French sea salt.   Mix well.    Oil your hands with coconut cream and knead the crushed cardamon, cinnamon, cumin and cloves, the cracked chopped black walnuts from the farm on the hill,  the cracked chopped butternuts from the library tree, and the chopped canned macadamia nuts an old enemy mailed from Madagascar into the melted and cooled butter and coconut cream with Greg’s crystal clover honey and scent of lemon, costly saffron and sherry wine, fine farina flour, sifted semolina and coarse French sea salt.

roll into small balls
place two inches apart on un-greased cooky sheets
dry in the sun
store in a tightly covered clear glass jar


From 2013

ROAD NOT TAKEN: Translation Party

Two roads in a yellow wood, I stood,
could have looked for one.  I know of one–
please turn down the bush
where a long branch of one person

is just as fair–
It probably has a better claim,
the grass is worn with other.
But to do so, just as I wore in passing, really.

Both that morning
had taken steps like leaves.
I have to be exactly as if I believe I am
still far from Ohio.

To my knowledge I have defended
the lead in a different way.
There are somewhere ages and ages
breathing a notice:

Two roads, one by one
what is the difference between my trip,
one of my little ones
to two single branches.


Tweaked, to clear it up somewhat.  I love the randomness of being “far from Ohio.”


(He) is not one man.
He is many men.
Only thus is (he) to be explained.

He is the South Pole of idealism,
the North Pole of realism,
and the Equator of humanitarianism
come together in a single human entity.

He is the deflator of human conceit,
the escalator of the meek.
He is the trumpeting brass and yet
the soft strings of the human orchestration.

He is the gentle rain upon the dry grass
of man’s frustrations, nurturing them into hopes.

He is the cultivator of man’s spirit,
the stimulator of the weary,
the catalyzer for the wicked,
the ennobler of the good. . .

He is The Voice
of those who have no other voice. . .
he has watched humanity pass
before him, as he sat by the road
and looked upon them all, appraising,
gently chiding, sharply criticizing,
philosophically suggesting,
rising in crescendo against what he thought
were wrongs practiced by the strong
against the weak, soothingly inspiring. . .
the tired and the weary and the fearful.

. . .he is a landmark, an institution,
a by-word. . .
In physical stature tiny,
thin, academician in presence, in philosophical
stature big, universal, geometric in his
audience. . .

(He) fears no man,
except himself. (He) respects all men,
but those who are struggling against odds
most of all. (He) loves people.

He is not one man.
He is many men.
He is all men.

He is humanity itself,
with its chameleon colors, its oddities,
its goodnesses, its hopes, its fears.

(He) is them all. . .
We hope everyone will . . know (him). . .
and knowing him. . will love him.
(He) is, indeed,
“what this world needs.”

Found in Louis B. Seltzer’s Introduction to “What This World Needs” by John W. Raper, a perfectly dreadful book of “inspiration”  that my mother gave to my grandmother in 1945, when Mom was 24.  If I had Mr. R’s last name, I’d change it.


Sei Shonagon’s Catagories (I think):


Magnolia trees, their blossoms like exhausted ballerinas. Stars carved into the backs of delicate comfortable chairs. All the air bubbling, the will-the-wisp nonsense of a blue veiled dance, a fetching look. Vibrations of molecules along wires, into the ether.  Pigeons huddled on the warm side of a tower.  A row of white porcelain teapots. Tiny stones in the deep blue pond of the air.



A blue stucco house with no curtains and a front yard of dirt and stones. The stoicism of Northern people living through March again. Flowing water, blood, milk.  Years of bending and filling.



Gray-haired women knitting yellow hats for premature babies. A country with many saviors and sacrificers working to make the world a better place. Heroes and heroic tales.  Anguished young martyrs baring their bosoms to the sword.



The smell of snow.  A village celebrity who thinks he is entitled to a special seat in the café. A narrow path opening to river shallows. An old man with a Tootsie Pop.  A strip of pebbles by the river where someone small might bend to drink. A clear flute in the dark. Walking toward one’s shadow.  A stack of blue saucers.  Old ladies in corsages.  A stack of white porcelain cups.



The way dark hair curls down the neck of a handsome clerk and children wearing pointed hats sitting on tall stools in corners. Flocks of birds and people clapping.  The end of hurry and a red leather shoulder bag with compartments for everything one needs, including a paper knife and earplugs.  The solemn descent of oak leaves and a chickadee with cold toes clinging to one’s finger.



Young men in baggy flannel trousers printed like pajamas. The moon through lace curtains. Cows scratching on a rock at dawn.  Clean water.  Narrow benches with odd legs.  A group of young women talking with a baby in a maroon snowsuit.  Crows chasing hawks.  Sitting in a folding chair.  A brown paper bag filled with false mustaches.



Broken houses dark in the noise of war. A blank page. The compulsion some people have to go downhill fast.  Strawberry shortcake made with donuts.  A willing ballerina with a broken shoe.



The end of tribalism.  A round white stone. A clear space.   A walnut-shell bed with a rose petal coverlet.  Engraved notepapers.  A yellow dog eating cherries from a tree.  The smell of snow.  A thin green fish, transparent but for its dull black eyes, who swims its life away between the tentacles of a giant squid.



Anyone who thinks his place is  more important than anyone else’s, who stares and clears his throat until you get out of his way. A breathless anticipation of Whales.  A small boy struggling through thick snowflakes. A veil of cloud draping a mountain after rain.  A gravedigger waiting in a red truck, playing the radio, drinking coffee from a paper cup.



The hiss of an espresso machine.  Garden spiders guarding the beans.  Leaving parties.  A coffee grinder like a dentist’s tool. The secret knowledge that one is a better poet than any of them. A dead sister in a bridesmaid’s dress.



The chipped and scratched jelly cupboard built and painted white by one’s grandmother, full of English teacups and blown-glass vases.  A fat gray cat sitting on a seed catalogue.  Beaded ballgowns, silks, handmade suits.



A dresser full of  perfume bottles, tin boxes, bolts of cloth. Many photographs of people you don’t know standing in front of Japanese temples or tall white houses in Greece. A monkey searching for the brightest berries.   A small black cat looking for an open door.



A closet full of fur coats that one is ashamed to own. Waiting for a friend who is always late.  Fountain pens nibbed with gold.  An upright bass with bright blue strings.  Air tasting of diesel fuel and pine sap.  A woman frowning at bananas, wondering if they will ripen too soon.



The underside of a nuthatch, white and patterned with brown. Yewbush needles defined with dew. Black limestone wet with rain. A small girl in tiny eyeglasses who has never seen a burdock root. Awakening in the morning to find the garden full of dew. The line of the east gable of one’s house seen by moonlight.  A catbird, who, having no song of his own, makes one from clippings.



A red squirrel’s tiny delicate feet. Old people excited by the smell of frying donuts.  A wagonload of small children on an outing with plump and cheerful teachers who stop often to point to butterflies or orange tulips. A black puppy with sleepy eyes waiting in the backseat of an old green car.



A ruined bedroom where one was ill. The back of a kitchen drawer.  A mouse’s abandoned nest.   A cheap orange sweater with a hole in one sleeve.  The sound of dry leaves blowing across the cement floor of a hospital parking garage.  A plastic bag entangled in a broken barbed wire fence.


my categories


Yellow curtains.  An oriole singing in the top of a wild apple tree.   A lawn with maple color covering.  Spotlessly clean eyeglasses.  A chubby man carrying a zucchini into a doctor’s office.  God’s peculiar kind of household growing like a mustard seed, or like a banquet of cripples and fools. Children crying at the funerals of old ladies.  The sound of an approaching parade.  A field of pumpkins.



Magazines in dentists’ offices.  Football games in the cold.  Sleepless nights in generic hotels.  Descriptions of movies one has no desire to see.  Piped in music in funeral homes.  A cold kitchen that smells of turnips.



A baritone singing lieder with piano accompaniment. A waning moon like an sore red eye.  A “feminine need” away from home. Spaghetti stains on a white shirt.   A stink bug laying eggs on a sheet hanging on the clothesline.  Easter communion bread stuck in one’s throat.



Weeding the thready roots of coreopsis from hard white violet knots and the long white ropes of mint.  Picking ugly apples in the rain.  An irritable ventriloquist’s dummy.  Washing piles and piles of old towels.  Scouring cat litter boxes and bird feeders.



The cries of a lone gosling watching its parents fly away.  A woman in shorts and high-heeled slings, displaying to advantage her rippled midlife thighs.  An old man with tattoed ankles sitting in a wheel chair.   A broken robin’s egg with a tiny, rubbery embryo inside.


AWAKENING THINGS:  The mint overgrowing one’s dead sister’s herb garden.  A texting driver swerving to avoid hitting a rabbit. A white-crowned sparrow preening in a broken pine tree, stopping now and then to throw back his little head and sing.  An 83-year old grandmother trapped in a mangled car, sucking moisture from her socks.  A new pink tulip in a blue vase.



July, 2010


To Han Solo:

I am simply trying (oh, once again!) to accept the snippiness in myself.  Would anyone be surprised if I did it? Sometimes I wonder if anyone would even notice.  I didn’t write a poem today when I first got up.  This means that I’ve missed that odd loose brain state–emergence from the fragmenting, defragging stuff of dreams.


To Sir Isaac Newton:

Chimpanzees don’t get backaches.  Maybe if you could grow longer arms?  Knuckle across the ground?  Would you then worry about leopards?  We’d have to live in pods then, I suppose.  I wouldn’t want to fish for termites, either.


To Werner von Braun:

When they said “We have died with Christ,” maybe they meant “We have accepted the inevitablity of our death, so that we may fully live.”   This day stretches ahead of me like an old rubber band that holds together a bundle of letters or a tattered cookbook.


To Lao Tzu:

Oversleeping leaves a part of my consciousness abandoned in dream.  I probably shouldn’t try to write until I find it, but there doesn’t seem to be a map.    I’ve been meaning to write, but somehow the time just slips by.  I’m occupied, it seems, with many things:  reading to the cats, making mittens from milkweed fluff, carving swans from bars of soap.   Have you stopped stressing out on your own personality?    I would think that the Right Man would accept it in you.


To the editor:

The cats are restless.  Money seems to be the preoccupation.  There are more important things, it seems to me:  orcas killing whale calves off the coast of Baja California.  Sext messages.  How I yearn for cheese.


To Her Majesty the Queen:

Not only is your work suffering, but your child is drifting away.  Come see us if you can get a housesitter for the dog, and if the bluebirds finish their nest, uninterrupted by swallows.


To a Grecian Urn:

I’m beginning to believe in angels again–oh, not the pre-Raphaelite ones, but the ones who burst in screaming “Fear not!” and you wet your pants.


To the Benandanti:

I’ve been rereading Milton, with more sympathy this time.  I think it’s because I finally begin to understand what he means by “the worm.”


To Raggedy Ann:

If you don’t begin to understand that it would be best for awhile to forget about attracting a man, I don’t know what will become of you.


To Milton, on his Blindness:

Do you find it difficult to sleep in the dark of the moon?  I do, and wonder if it has to do with the presence of predators, back when we had no strong houses.  It’s difficult to cook meat-and-potatoes meals alongside vegan ones.


To my Dead Sister’s Ghost:

Is your brother better?  I think of him often, wondering how he can stand both the pain of the injury and the knowledge that he could have changed things for Ellen and you.



To a Skylark:

Have you noticed that as the sun sets later, your knees are more likely to ache?




To Ophelia:

Birding in the Azores?  What will you be doing next?  I’m sure things will work out with Sue Ann.   She’s a good soul, but needs lots  of space, and less time.  Buy her a green balloon next time you go to the zoo.


To Dr. Kevorkian:

I’m so sorry we didn’t make it to the party–by all accounts it was fabulous!  I had no idea your daughter was so accomplished–and the flowers!  and the music!  Next year, I promise you, we’ll be in Taos for the season.


To Emily Dickinson:

Thank you so much for the vase.  Just knowing its lineage makes it precious to me–Ludwig, and the Washingtons, Marvin and Ann-Louise.  But it’s beautiful, too–the shape and the way the light plays around the thin clear rim.  I shall keep it filled with apricot-colored roses, in memory of our times at the Cape.


To Clara Schumann:

Whatever can I say?  How can I possibly apologize enough?  My only excuse, which is of course inexcusable, is that I didn’t know how deeply involved you were with him.  Of course I’ll never, ever see him again, and of course I’ve burned the photograph.  I hope in time you’ll forgive me.


To John Locke:

The air this morning is like clear green tea, and the mists are draping over the hills like little lacy handkerchiefs.  Oh, I know you accuse me of being sentimental, and I suppose I am, but I keep expecting you to appear between the trees like a Knight on Horseback, or better, the King of Ireland’s Son.


To Hillary Clinton:

She had the baby, did Mother tell you?  And she still won’t say who its father is.  It’s a big child, with clear gray eyes and long fingers.  I strongly suspect the oboeist, but I may be wrong.  I wish you hadn’t left her in the station that night, but there it is.  I know quite well how difficult she can be.