Thursday, December 1, 2011
You’ve heard of Type-A.
They’ve got it wired
and will take the world by storm.
As for me,
over-achievement is shadowed
by perpetual self-doubt.
I am not Type-A. Sometimes,
all I want is to crawl
into a hole and be left
I have come to realize
I may be Type-N.
All my socks have holes in them
and there are old crackers
in my cupboard.
Left to my own devices,
I forget to eat breakfast.
I’m afraid to be the best
at anything. Most telling,
the N-key on my laptop
has rubbed off.
Either I type a lot of N-words:
no, never, narrow
or I need to remember
to clip my right index fingernail
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
There she was, trying to make her way
up up up the slippery slope of the kitchen sink.
With every attempt, she was thwarted,
and with every thwart, she simply
rallied her legs, and tried again.
I had not even had coffee yet,
and there I was faced with a moral
dilemma. To kill or not to kill.
In my half sleep, death by paper towel
seemed a good option.
Dispatch and be done.
But, some part of my frontal lobe kicked in.
Spiders do bite, and yes, they are creepy, but
they are also alive. They ask nothing from me
while policing my house for small insects.
Rubbing sleep from my eyes, I trapped her
with a cup and postcard and escorted her out.
Momentarily startled away from her effort
to conquer the sink, did she wonder where
am I going? What is moving me now?
I set down my makeshift trap on the porch,
lifted the cup. She skeetered off into the grey
dawn of day to build new webs, new empires.
I wished her well and imagined in that moment,
some force some where, was lifting the cup for me.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Did you know
that when you watch
an old TV sitcom
the laughter you hear
is the laughter
of the dead?
Some of those laugh tracks
were made 50 years ago
and the people who laugh in them
were already old when they laughed.
Now, they are dead.
They look down from heaven
on Lucy and Rickie, Fred and Ethel,
Gilligan, Ginger, and Maryann.
They look on the Beaver and to-the-moon-Alice.
They look on Colonel Klink in his cozy stalag.
They cannot help themselves.
They hoot and guffaw.
They chuckle, giggle, and howl.
Even though they are long dead,
it is all still so funny.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
One has to wonder:
at any given moment,
how many rainbows arc
across the wet, sunlit ethers
of our bustling planet?
Is anyone counting?
In how many places
do the sun and the mist
in that moist coming together
that makes light split itself
into its very essence?
How many rainbows briefly grace
various remote jungle corners
and how many bridge a valley
or mount a virgin forest?
Is there a lake in Bulgaria
or a hilltop in Michigan’s U.P.
crowned with a rainbow right now
that I am not aware of?
How many go unnoticed
right over our very heads
on a Thursday afternoon
when we are driving home
from work or Wal-mart
or out walking the dog
and simply not looking up
or in the right direction?
How many rainbows
valiantly extend their short lives
so that a little boy—with his belly
peeking out from his Smurf t-shirt
and his bare feet hurriedly padding
the cool sidewalk to get past the trees
blocking his view—can shout with joy,
I’ve never seen a rainbow!
Are they still rainbows if no one
catches a breath at the sight of them?
And who is the unknowing recipient
of that faraway and unattainable pot of gold?
Monday, August 1, 2011
I find them hanging on the line.
They catch the wind and pull
everything else with them:
socks, underwear, pantyhose.
Large, like spinnakers, they float
and billow on the summer breeze
like three sighs, three graces. They are
reminders of where I have been
and where I am going. First, the swaddling
sheet of infancy, when the world
was my oyster and all things miracles.
Second, the sheet of paper, the blank
on which I wrote my life story, inch-
by-inch and hour-by-hour. I made
an airplane; flew my craft to far-flung lands
where no one knew my name. A place
I could reinvent myself with the right words.
And last, the shroud. The coverlet in which
I will spend the coming hours spread out
on this hard floor, drunk on eternity.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Hell in a Hand Basket
Would going to hell
be any less hellish
if we went—not
in a hand basket—but
in a foot basket
or in a hand cart?
How about in a purse
woven from lost eyelashes
or better yet, from stray
pubic hairs that litter the tub
with telltale spirals
of someone else’s desire?
Have you ever noticed
how going to hell in a hand
basket is a lot like going down
the drain? A horrible,
sensation not unlike
being born. Face it.
Leaving the womb
was your first and only
entry into a hell entirely
not of your own making.
It was all laid out for you.
All future hells blossom
into an all-too-familiar
reminder of that first
when you had to undock
from the mothership.
You know full well that—
given the choice—you would
have stayed tucked up in there,
full of eternity (and then some),
happily floating in your amniotic
ocean of love and mercy,
not in search of a savior,
or a pleasure cruise, or a warm,
wet paradise. Yet safe
in your palm, you'd hold
that coin for Charon’s boat
to cross the River Styx.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Brot und Zeit
Brot is bread
and Zeit is time.
If bread were time,
I’d slather every hour
of the day with butter,
forget about the fat.
I’d let crumbs fall
just where they may,
lick them from the corner
of your mouth.
If time were bread,
I’d match my Brot to yours
with meat between.
We’d toast our Zeit
whole wheat or rye—
it matters not. But yeast
to make each moment rise
a must. We’d share our feast,
thus: half to start our day,
half to nourish our night.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I am heading to Germany today for two weeks. If the June 1 poem does not have a German theme, I will be very surprised! -- Lisa
Sunday, May 1, 2011
iPads for Tots
“These toys are neat. The children love them.” –a preschool teacher in Milwaukee
On the topic of becoming real,
the plush toys know. This incipient state
is just around the corner of free will,
deep in the heart of the nursery, late.
When the child has nothing more than the dark,
dream’s door, and a velveteen friend to hold.
Today we let our charming gadgets speak
and push the child forward in a world
longing for buds on trees and imagination.
That fertile place, that hatch where iPads
may first have slipped to conscious thought. Don’t shun
these sparkly tools, these harbingers, these fads.
Let new be new, but let’s maintain the old, the frayed.
From the ragged edge comes love, human-made.
Friday, April 1, 2011
How is a teenage son like a poem?
He is long and gangly but his stanzas
are rather even. His hair is perfectly
combed, and his scant words fit him
like a glove. He is one moment super bebop
cool and then hot like a pepper. He enjoys
the look on his own face, especially
when distorted in a maniacal grin.
Like a good poem, he imagines himself
a gangster, a troubadour, a bow and arrow.
He would steal your heart if you let him in
and bring it back, maybe next Tuesday,
if it suits his iambic pentameter. He ignores
niceties such as towel racks, trash cans,
and the call of civil conversation. He speaks
in monosyllabic haiku and will eat donut holes
all day if you let him; he will think of countless
words that rhyme with donut hole.
He picks at his forehead like adolescent poems
have done in secret since the Romantic era.
He is no stranger to comedy or tragedy.
Any resemblance to a poem, you say, is purely
accidental. And yet, he has this way
of yowling his hello on the telephone,
then offers a blank stare that clouds his face
when you ask for the details of his day.
Show, don’t tell, he seems to say. Leave me
alone, to my own devices, just like you did
when you made me, when you knit me
in the darkness of the rocking chair with dad.
I say, when I made you, I had no idea what I
was doing; did not even know the first thing
about making a poem, let alone, a son.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
was with my mother.
I insisted that drum
begins with j. She
otherwise and I
cried, but could not
prove her wrong.
was with my father.
He said, rock n’ roll
is abstract. I said,
structured. I knew
I was right. I went
blue in the face
countering his theory.
there is no argument,
only a longing to go back
and tell that child,
that teen, to calm itself
and consider the parent.
Now, I get to argue
with my son. He says,
you don’t like anything.
He is wrong. I am wrong.
Or, rather, we are both right.
I leave it at that.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
there are all kinds of whisperers.
Horse, dog, cat. You name it,
someone is whispering to it.
American idols, who are they?
There are politicians whispering
behind closed doors, on cell phones,
to large piles of money. Who
are these faces and what lips
can whisper such secrets
designed to hurt so many?
As for me, I am whispering
to the trees. For so long,
they have whispered to me
and now I beg them, please,
teach us to be more like you,
steadfast, but flexible.
Don’t just hug a tree.
Be a tree: root, stretch
shade, blossom. Then,
when the wind blows,
whisper thank you.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Seen from above, we are
a myriad of small circles.
We move through the streets
like blood cells in veins bobbing
our way in and through to the heart
of the matter. We make ourselves
known as a collective system.
We work to keep the greater body
alive and healthy, we work
to keep at bay that which would
like to annihilate us. We band
together in arteries all over the planet,
all systems flowing toward a common
goal: to speak, to be heard, to listen.
We flow like water, like wine, like blood.
Each one unique, each one connected.
When we ignore our small discrepancies
and remain united, we cannot fail.
We surge like a tide. We will prevail.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Once upon a time, there were
smoke signals and bird calls
and charred bones left on mossy
cairns. These early equivalents of
“alert the media” did their best
to convey the ebb and flow
of human endeavor in those grand,
nomadic days before the invention
of tampons and sliced bread.
Gradually, we realized we needed
to move our words a bit faster
and so we got the ponies involved.
These express equines dragged
our words toward the industrial age,
though they still needed to be shod
and curry-combed and fed an apple
now and then. We got the philatelists
on the case and soon, stamp collecting
was born. For a long time, we cruised
along, with rates rising a penny a year
and the occasional someone going postal.
Insanity aside, our mail options
have now advanced to texting
and sexting and tiny tweets.
And so we have returned to the birds.
Sender and receiver beware: burnt bones
crossed on fire pits may not be far behind.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
You cannot put reptiles
or animal parts in the mail.
Why would you want to?
You cannot mail firearms,
knives, or revolution.
You might change someone.
You cannot mail lotteries.
(These are marked by a request
for payment, a cash prize,
and the element of chance.)
You cannot mail the promise
of false hope or true love.
You cannot mail mountains,
oceans, or umbrella drinks.
You cannot mail peace of mind.
You can mail elephant dung, but only
if it is art (with proper documents
enclosed) and not a form of fuel.
You can mail belly button lint
but only if disguised as a love token
buried deep in the creases of your words.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
I go back to my quiet dusting
in my warm house,
find a book on the shelf, given
to me on my nineteenth birthday
by a friend of my parents
whom I did not know well.
At nineteen, do we really
know anyone? Günter Grass,
The Flounder. The gift-giver
died, a few years after the giving
in a car crash. I remember her
circa 1979, blond and pretty.
On the title page, she wrote:
To Lisa, who is warm and beautiful
and a delight to know.
It is a hefty book,
and I’ve never read it;
just once in a while,
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Love is a plunge into darkness toward a place that may exist. —Marge Piercy
Go as deep
and as far
as you need to.
stop your progress
toward that place
that may exist
in someone else.
And when you arrive
at this mythical place,
breath in and out again
and quietly know
you are there
There is nothing
to say and nothing
to do, because love
does not do or undo,
say or unsay.
It just is.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Jamal died six months ago
leaving his rat brother, Krusty,
alone in the cedar shavings
to gnaw solo on the wooden house.
Even with no one around to pummel,
Krusty bucked up, ate his colorful
pellets, found contentment
in the furry lump of self he was.
Lately, his wheezing had gotten worse
and his fur, no longer smooth and sleek
stood along his back like sweaty thorns.
He listed to one side. He stopped eating.
In his two-foot cage, Krusty
had always known the only certainty
in life is death. He is in the freezer now
and come spring, we will bury him—
not near his brother behind our old garage—
but in the park overlooking the lake.
He will know the sound of waves against the shore,
a teasing sound, one even a rat would adore.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
It is Tuesday.
It is snowing.
I am early.
I wait in the
of the breast
I wait for my name
to be called.
All the people
on the way in.
On the way
into the clinic,
they were smiling.
Why is everyone
Are they early?
Are they healthy?
It is Tuesday
I take my chair.
I am early.
I have a book,
but I am not
On the table
there are magazines
They tell about
how to be fit
at 40 and fall’s
(But it is already
winter and besides,
I am past 50.)
I am not inclined
my hair or mind
the suprising truth
I am early
but I am not reading.
I am thinking
There are no more
Tuesdays for her.
A simple thing really,
Tuesday. We take it
for granted. Mary
was early. Death
came too early.
I did not know her.
But I knew of her.
She was waiting.
She was early.
Gabe died too,
but not of cancer.
He came to hear
a lecture on Tuesday
and then, he died
I knew him a little,
from English Lit.
But that is not
how he died.
His heart stopped
while he was reading
in his chair one night.
In the morning,
he was dead.
He was not ready.
He was not waiting.
He did not know
he would die,
at least, not
on a Wednesday.
Today is Tuesday.
It is snowing.
I am early.
I am waiting
for my name
to be called.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
There is a physical law
that governs the proper distance
a man should stand when talking
to a woman. Don’t get in her face, okay?
She can hear you without your chin
so close to her nose. Proximity
of eyeballs is not required to be understood.
You personal space invaders
should take a giant step back.
She will be more inclined to listen
if you acknowledge where your space ends
and hers begins.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Short Love Story
It was dumb luck
that brought us together
and dumber luck
that tore us apart.
Slower and Lower
(the way that Jesus went)
on an ass
low to the ground
close to the children
Truth Spoken By My Son
Worms die of length,
elephants of width.
On the Window Ledge
Another year, two
dry sticks show signs of new life
my sweet orchid comes.