The Fireplace

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We’re building a Rumford: the mortar receives each brick
and the courses absorb moisture in a running bond
of waterstruck mattes. We use the attraction, the bed
soothing imperfections around the kiln stamp.

In Colonial winters, houses burned twenty cords
of split oak and elm, wind shaking bubbled glass.
Below the windows, batts for insulation and protection;
wattling holding slung trowels of heavy plaster.

We begin slight curves on both sides of the fireback—
like upraised arms of a televised minister, pointing
us on the path to salvation, his intention so cynical
the hollow columns are more believable. Give me

festivals through streets lit by candles, dollar bills pinned
to St. Anthony of Padua, songs and hymns, gelato
and lemon ice, carts of fried dough and hot sausages, aunts
in black brocade and daughters in communion dresses;

smoke of apple wood blowing above the ridge, the flame clinging
and curling, drawn to surfaces, the shiny creosote
and smooth clay, channel of air along the plank floor
that sends it heavenward, incense in the chancel’s stars.

Rejection Slip (Thoughts while opening a SASE)

Friday, April 1, 2011

This packet becomes a finalist for the worst
manuscript submission ever received at this address
OR at our previous editorial offices,
though we easily tossed out reams
of bright copies in the move. Thank your
“centuries of stars” and all other Light & Power images
roughed into these scabbed on notebook jottings,
that our last “editor emeritus” was canned
before volt testing these bundled entities. Rhyming
“artifice” with “Artemis” (virgin goddess of the hunt & moon),
though not technically prohibited,
perpetuates a misdemeanor of aggravated insult.

Sprinkling The Irish Times online weather forecasts
throughout Roman numeral numbered selections
diffuses the desolation. We’re now inured to surveys
of barren skies that change from prolonged rain
to isolated showers to risk of drizzle, though bare
for The Burren is brilliant, if it were only yours.

And we will never assent to reverent inventories
of leather carryons, nor perpetuate pieced together
ransom notes of patched together reports
and paginated attempts at collage. All titles drizzle
this impression, a lost wax theory of poetics,
candle liquefaction into stalagmites, mining nothing.

Kennings of cold ones, the hammer, and road to paradise
slide off the stanzas like pond-deer on cloud-streets.
Please, no found poems in the tax code, no six-line poems
of Seymour Glass from Salinger’s descriptions; for bathos
is just a letter flipped upside down from pathos
on the wrong refrigerator.

If only there were spooked horses, slapped together skids,
braced stalls, if we could see the years
of bites and scratches as the ewes pushed for a place.
Give us a yard sale saucer on top of an icebox,
a rusted biscuit tin, instead of mourning
another star lost in a far galaxy culled from
the science section of Tuesday’s paper.

Thank you for your interest in the press
and continued cohesion in your industry,
so little recognized.

Spelling And Grammar, A Relationship

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Who would read this poem, so full
of fragments never considered
for revision: wreathes of seashells
hanging in the marshy air,
with chipped syntax
and lower case errors
beginning most lines—
messy ofs and withs, instead
of the suggested Oafs and Foes
And Wits never dealt with.

So much ignored, options pooh poohed
more than once, “changed to”
so little. Still sticking with enamored,
which I love, instead of the heavy-
handed “unarmored” with
plaques of acrylic fish, but still
plagued by “possible questions”
never anticipated.

How many rules can be skipped?
How many agreements between
noun and verb can one dismiss,
even if only printed on light?

Tell me again, if a word is not
IN the dictionary, we can actually
ADD it to the dictionary?

At one time you counted my words,
and that made it seem the reverse
was true, even with your insistence
otherwise with oscillating lines.

“The check is complete.”
Someone pays, someone walks.

And so we close, grammar
a nightmare, participles tangled,
timid hyphenations, always
moving on to the next sentence,
the next disjointed
piece of typing . . . with
extra space between words,
never undoing an edit.

Black Dresses and Bloody Marys

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More people than you would think attended
Her memorial. At 85, An Avid Gardener, she won
Top prizes at the flower shows, and at seventy ascended
To chair the town’s conservation commission.

The minister mentioned her cherished rain gauge.
Her youngest daughter remembered the short
Plays she and her cousins penned and would stage
For the friends and literati who used her tennis court.

The noon reception following was a smash—
Caviar and sushi, smoked tuna on rye crisp;
Cheeses, grapes, and in the lime drinks, a splash
Of grenadine. An incredible lobster bisque.

High heels and sandals on the wobbly lawn,
The tanned arms of summer reaching for champagne.
Smiles, a blue linen napkin covering a yawn
As the relatives meet strangers, forced to entertain.

While the college girls the caterers hired survey
The table of grilled salmon and asparagus spears,
Wondering how many bottles of Pouilly-Fuisse
They’ll steal for the beach and chill with the beers.

Pastries on the counter with the quiches.
It’s a pageant of black dresses and Bloody Marys;
Lemon squares, biscotti, Danish with peaches,
Servers in white shirts pouring obituaries.

And Use the Kitchen

Monday, November 15, 2010

Breakfast brings
an onslaught of eating—
blazing black pans
lathered with butter frying
chicken sausages
and chopped hot dog pieces
folded into duck eggs
wrapped in oily
burrito shells
in Frank’s Red Hot
with sides of kimchi.