Tuesday, May 31, 2011

House on the Hill

Revelation fields, Eric Johannson

House on the Hill

I’ve built a  fine house on top of my head, grey
dormer windows and tall stories, preaching chimneys,
heavy boards of years across the door. 

It’s easier now, not going in and out,
and I needed a way to keep out the dead.

The time it's taken you'd never guess, to 
trim my ears into topiary frogs, meticulous sentinels here
by the door, crouched comical, listening and green

on the hair I’ve mowed smooth as a fog. Totems
well placed can help keep out the dead.

Of course, my eyes still stay outside, blind ovals in
the wild blow of storm, hit by each unseen coldslap surprise,
while inside my house, white incense smoke takes 

the sweetened song of a bird in a cage from attic
to hall, to ward the doors that keep out the dead.

There's the child in her room, lining her treasures up.
See her bone beads of grace in a plastic cup gleam
rich red in an eyeglow turned in, flicker 

and spark giving light where there can be
neither fire nor candle to keep out the dead.

She wears my mist necklace of disappearing jewels
clothes of umber leaves, shoes from old squirrel tracks
left on the lawn, paints my face with the scent 

of rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn,
come climbing up over the living and dead.

And the view is good from the slanting roof,
laid on the summit of my growth, looking out
where my own eyes ever go, beyond my topiary ear

to the walled horizon of clouds and fear
the dead must cross to get to here.

May 2011

This poem was inspired by the photographic-manipulation work of Erik Johansson; in particular, Revelation fields, as shown above. Thanks to Fireblossom for sending me the original link. 

Take some time to check out his portfolio of amazing images here:

Posted for  OneShotWednesday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Funeral Exhibit ~Memorial Day Repost

I wrote this last year for Veterans Day; reposting it today, for Memorial Day as I'm sure this same scene is still going on all over this country, and in one way or another, in many others.

Funeral Exhibit

Stopped bored at the tracks I look
over the fence into the cemetery
at the funeral.

Heads bared to the lucid November sun
on display to all who pass outside,
the mourners shift uncomfortably
around the sad slump of green
cloth that is the
next to last
shelter of the passed.

A young black sailor stands frowning
in uniform on the outskirts of the grey white family,
stark as a banner of war in a country of peace.
His white cap floating above the composition
like an artist’s touch of cloud on sky
placed by design to draw the eye
away from the politely concealed
hole in the earth.

It seems obscene for me
to watch from my car
the flag folding,
the mortality party
to which I’m uninvited
but no one seems to care that
a few feet away the world
drives on.

In the rearview mirror
I see the sailor extinguish his cap
in a sudden grasp,
bow his head.
then they’re gone.

If only it was really
that easy to pass on.

November 2010
Veteran's Day

Photo credit: Veteran dedication marker, Elmwood Cemetery, Barre, Vermont ©2008 Kimberly Powell

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Filling Brick Hats

Filling Brick Hats

The city's been up all night
abraded, restless on her stucco sheets,
clockwork cogs whirring and grinding
the chaff along with the wheat.

Just a little thing fails,
the tooth loosens itself in the
splitting splayed hole
and the buckle unbuckles.

The crack starts small,
pencil line of a fantasy disaster,
unseen in an ignorance
that crumples the bridge.

Important in her concrete suit,
the city wakes up breathing,
forever one breath away
from not breathing.

Two tall hats higher than hills
detonate red in cyclopean explosion
filling with death instead of
water for horses.

If there is a place where
water can be dipped up in a hat,
there must be a place
for the horse to drink;

the city, the hat, the gesture, 
the head it covers, hollow
as comfort, vengeance, the conceit
of  a vacant control.

May 2011

Posted for   OneShootSunday   at the inimitable  OneStopPoetry 

Photo by Scott Wyden
Scott Wyden's website

Saturday, May 28, 2011



Trees thrash in the clammy wind
and the sky looks bruised, off-color, splashed with
the unsettled and unwelcome afterbirth of the behemoth
that pulled the houses down, rolled the cars like dice,
and tore the child from the huddle in the tub,
untangled her from shelter 
of mother and brother,
sent her flying
to ride the whirlwind
off to Oz
or a drainage ditch.

Her mother sobs
off camera, the EMSA crew, the sheriffs
seem heavy with guilt as if their
uniforms and equipment should have
prevented the sorrow,
held back with their will, 
a vest, and a waved flashlight
the grinding windcircled debris
that ate the trees and the heart
of this place.

Does the child still fly
crying forever for her lost
bed, the safe arms, the world before
the blast or is she circling higher and higher
seeing the stars fold like origami
over the far land of the blessed,
putting her scattered laughter
into the wind?

May 2011

–noun the international radiotelephone distress signal, used by ships and aircraft.
Origin: 1925–30;  < French  ( venez ) m'aider  (come) help me dictionary.com

This poem is based on an actual incident which occurred during the outbreak of tornadoes in the Midwest and South on May 22-25, 2011, but I have altered details. On this weekend set aside to remember the dead of our wars, sympathy goes out to the families and individuals across the heartland who will be burying their dead from these events in the coming days and who will still suffer for many more days and years from the devastation they never saw coming.

Photo courtesy of kfor.com, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Tangle

Barbed wire - geograph.org.uk - 621582


I started weaving
barbed wire,
eyes busy not looking
at the burned dead
drying in the sun.

Where are my
black gloves to wear
for gathering the bones?

I'm wound 
in a white lace dress,
torn and tight
as the moon on her spindle,

nothing but the last 
untangling cobweb
across the opening gate.

 May 2011

Posted for   Friday Flash 55  at the G-Man's

Image: Barbed Wire, by Kenneth Allen, 2007
captioned: "Some times the sheep try to get through"
via wikimedia commons 

Musical Interlude ~Blind Faith

This song has been going through my head this morning. Blind Faith was a short lived group formed and dissolved in 1969 by Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton and also contained Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. There are a lot of versions of this particular song out there; the live 1969 version has a certain time capsule quality to it, but the sound quality is horrible, so  I've gone with the album cut:

Can't Find My Way Home (Steve Winwood)

For those who are closer to the 80's than the 60's, this is a pretty decent contemporary version (2005) by Styx:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Trimetran Form Explored

 Geshna cannalis

Damn the worms!
Screw  them
and the rapaciousness
that turns unfurl’d Canna’s leaf to stem.
Dictated insect winner’s terms
and the rapaciousness
of a herd of maddened pachyderms!!!


I respectfully submit this piece in the newly discovered Trimetran form for my readers' review. The Trimetran is a syllable-counting form with strict rhyme scheme, though no specified meter, which alone makes its composition possible. It was once thought to be the invention of the fictitious Dr. Enid MacFarquhar-Douglas, but that has proved to be a hoax, MacFarquhar-Douglas being a pseudonym for the even more pseudonymous Shay Fireblossom, known to have been observed flagrantly writing trimetrans on used but uncrumpled napkins at Danny's while the kitten Guiseppe Verdi rolled helplessly with laughter. 

You can read her Trimetran attempt (merely passable for a normal student of form but exceptionally well done for one who has not as yet composed even the simplest of shadormas, haikus or dyslexias) here at her post: The Trimetran Form

For those interested in the nuts and bolts of trimetranism, in the above post,  Prof Fireblossom extensively explains this challenging and exciting new development in poetic composition  sweeping across the blogosphere. Because I know you all have lives, I will spare you most of the highly advanced scholarly verbiage and technical terminology here in this handy Cliff Notes style summary:

Trimetran = nine lines
syllable count/rhyme scheme

(with the final couplet unrhymed, of course.)

Warning! Whatever the beginner does, it is VERY IMPORTANT not to skip the homogeneous coupling of lines 3 and 6!!

Enjoy, fellow poets and helpless readers!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011




of its quirky carapace
comes the green shoot
comes its partner root
questing for place.

of the fumbling cotyledon,
with its rudimentary
green spurs the opening fist,
come the true leaves
born for the light.

through the sharp sand
the hardpan clay
the barrier stone
uncaring which

tendrils dance and turn
with the malleable earth,
in elemental shapeshift
 ever ductile ever smooth
powered by an infinite fuel.

and below
unity of purpose
one mind of being
all choices made
before the push begins.

in a haphazard ordering,
the casual digits
of the giants
pluck them out

May 2011

will be
Posted for  OneShotWednesday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

NOTE: We  had severe storms and two powerful tornadoes come very close to us last night, but we are all okay and no damage done here. We  did have a power outage so my computer was off, causing withdrawal pangs, but otherwise all is well.
~hw 5/25/11

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive ~May

Before the month is completely over, it's time to switch out the Off the Shelf selection once again. Browsing through the past entries, I discovered I'd yet to post anything by Theodore Roethke. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Roethke (1908-1963) belongs to that period of American poetry between Whitman and Ginsberg, and was influenced by T.S. Elliot, W.H. Auden, and Whitman himself. The son of a German immigrant market farmer whose death when the poet was fifteen profoundly influenced his life and work, Roethke spent his young years working in his father's greenhouse. He later taught English at Michigan State University and the University of Washington, and published several volumes of poetry and was, as poets go, well-known and successful. His life was marked by episodes of severe manic depression and heavy drinking, and he died at 55 of a heart attack.  I've selected two of his shorter works, different in style and theme: Dolor, and Journey into the Interior. 

You can find them here in the  Off the Shelf Archive   for June 2011.

In order to make room for this new selection, Robert Frost's The Hill Wife makes a final appearance before entering the archives. As always, feel free to comment on either poem here, as comments are disabled off the main page, and suggestions for next time are always welcome.

The Hill Wife
by Robert Frost


Her Word

One ought not to have to care
So much as you and I
Care when the birds come round the house
To seem to say good-bye;

Or care so much when they come back
With whatever it is they sing;
The truth being we are as much
Too glad for the one thing

As we are too sad for the other here --
With birds that fill their breasts
But with each other and themselves
And their built or driven nests.


Always -- I tell you this they learned --
Always at night when they returned
To the lonely house from far away
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray,
They learned to rattle the lock and key
To give whatever might chance to be
Warning and time to be off in flight:
And preferring the out- to the in-door night,
They learned to leave the house-door wide
Until they had lit the lamp inside.


Her Word

I didn't like the way he went away.
That smile! It never came of being gay.
Still he smiled- did you see him?- I was sure!
Perhaps because we gave him only bread
And the wretch knew from that that we were poor.
Perhaps because he let us give instead
Of seizing from us as he might have seized.
Perhaps he mocked at us for being wed,
Or being very young (and he was pleased
To have a vision of us old and dead).
I wonder how far down the road he's got.
He's watching from the woods as like as not.


She had no saying dark enough
For the dark pine that kept
Forever trying the window-latch
Of the room where they slept.

The tireless but ineffectual hands
That with every futile pass
Made the great tree seem as a little bird
Before the mystery of glass!

It never had been inside the room,
And only one of the two
Was afraid in an oft-repeated dream
Of what the tree might do.


It was too lonely for her there,
And too wild,
And since there were but two of them,
And no child,

And work was little in the house,
She was free,
And followed where he furrowed field,
Or felled tree.

She rested on a log and tossed
The fresh chips,
With a song only to herself
On her lips.

And once she went to break a bough
Of black alder.
She strayed so far she scarcely heard.
When he called her --

And didn't answer -- didn't speak --
Or return.
She stood, and then she ran and hid
In the fern.

He never found her, though he looked
And he asked at her mother's house
Was she there.

Sudden and swift and light as that
The ties gave,
And he learned of finalities
Besides the grave.

Image: Boreas, by John William Waterhouse, 1903
courtesy wikimedia commons

In the City of Android Dreams

In the City of Android Dreams

Down the latticed steps checkered with emptiness
leaving pillared buildings replicated endlessly
to arrive at their multiplying clones
in a bleach boned City of one shape,

dappled with green sulphur light I walk,
on a pavement that moves beneath me like
an animal twitching in its sleep, irked by
the buzz of yellow hellbeams that pierce the fretwork stairs.

My feet obey and slide me downward
in the inexorable fashion of the rolling belt.
The factory of my life hums as I descend,
through a rain of tumbling forms, a good machine.

There is no whirr, no clank, as the guardian statues watch,
not even the comforting blanket of a  natural terror;
only the ponderous attractive white building
which is every building, opening its million mouths.

There is no end to the steps going down
and there is no end to going down them
into that greengold sulphurous heart
that long ago ceased to beat,

into the light that is a violation,
down, down to penetrate the
atom, to be a particle forever
trapped on a stair spiraling around
the silent maelstrom’s eye.

I ask the shadowed statues
the only question I can’t answer;
the words drop, falling planets
in a black well of void.

August 1987
revised 2011

Posted for  OneShootSunday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry 

Image by Walter Parada
Mr. Parada's website


Friday, May 20, 2011



Sitting alone in the time
when the night won’t let go
of the day
when the sun rattles the locked
door and screams to get out from
her black basement

I think of you
as I dance in my skin
you who gave me a necklace of silence
who braided my hair with wet
feathers and left me
a bracelet of tears.

I think of what you saw
when you whispered
let down your hair
I remember my breath
pulsing light, a mist
in my lungs

exhaled in unwilled wisps,
washing, clinging,
outlining us,
softening the ice-green border
where we met to barter selves in
a steam of blood and living fire.

And still the day
paces in her holding cell;
but something is with me,
as the wind passes us
on the road to morning.

May 2011

Posted for    Friday Poetically   at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Thanks to Brian Miller, who blogs at Waystation One, for the prompt, which was to write a love (or unlove) poem.  Happy 15th Anniversary, my friend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Van Ness in the Morning

Georges Seurat 058

Van Ness in the Morning

My cells now not soft amoebas
open to living division,
but old marbles, making a
pointilist’s dotted doll,
glass globes spilling 
at a touch.

My self then,
barefoot feet filthy on hot pavement
amongst the butts and empties
hungry, alone, dissolved as
a brown  bag in ocean
as I’ve ever been.

May 2011

Posted for     Friday Flash 55   at the G-Man's

(This was really intended for last week but got wiped out in 
the Great Blogger Massacree )

Top image: Standing Model, by George Seurat, c 1887
Bottom image: South Van Ness at Army, 1953, by Telstar Logistics on flickr

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blue Feather

Electric Blue feather

Blue Feather

As the sun blows away from the east,
in the stripped tree by the far fence
the eagle breaks through,
too big, too bright
too blue, come carrying all
the questions of white weather, 
cold electric blue in all his parts.

He moves on the bare branch reflexively, restlessly,
a ruffling knife wind at his back full of every
promise of change and threat of frost,
pulling an azure flight feather
through his solitary note of yellow,
stiletto beak a drooping mask
in harlequin opposition.

Improbable of color and shorn of motion, he sits
in a stillness that is not repose,
a being of want and promise, his eye on
an oblivious thing, small and fat
hunkering at my feet, that one
of all my charges I've loved
but not too much.

The eagle watches from the border
of the breathing lands, as I stand my
half-hearted guard, his bright head cocked
to one side like a ragdoll’s flops,
his mouth unlatched, impatient,
his indigo eye kindling like a flare, burning
blue warning in the impending night.

His great wings draw up in clouds, 
shadows spread dark on the sky
crackling loud in the apricot sunset,
bent legs folding flowers under the storm.
His hoarse cry springs the feather, spinning
sudden and singular it hangs between us
centering the worlds.

Then he’s read me, all I am.
He jumps the wind, a flying bolt of blue gone
forever far from where the bars of arms draw in
and sleet falls on the sacrifice heartcovered
in my breast, safe 
from that one stray moment’s wish
to give it up to make the eagle stay.

May 2011

Posted for  OneShotWednesday   at the inimitable  OneStopPoetry 

Image: Electric Blue Feather, by tallmonkee on flickr

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Three Flowers

Photo by Fee Easton

Three Flowers

In the clearing two horses endlessly cable
the moon, white shadows blown
before a hooked wind on a black plaster sky.

A flying worm lights its brief light;
a little boy tries to wear it on his shirt.

In the forest bare twigs chatter against
the bony branches shaking wet snow
down upon the field rat’s muzzle
stopped ten steps from life under the
white owl’s eye.

Two sparrows splash in the birdbath.
The sun is a haze through green locust leaves;
 in the clearing a winding horn finally
blows to summon the storm-dispersed hunt.

In the boneyard by day and by night
three flowers bloom red:
poppies named
 Tomorrow’s Fight
to forget
the thing that lies buried here.

August 1988, revised November 2010

photo by joy ann jones  2010

Posted for OneShootSunday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Header photo used with permission

Friday, May 13, 2011

Musical Interlude ~Memory Motel Montage

Yeah,  some days I like the Stones still.  Old habits die hard. 

This is a live performance video montage from the No Security tour, 1997; the Rolling Stones with Dave Mathews on supporting vocals.

 The Memory Motel--it's on the ocean, I guess you know it well.

...every woman seemed to fade out of my mind
I hit the bottom and I hit the second time..

That quote should make it evident that Keith Richards  co-wrote the song above. He's generally portrayed in popular  culture as a clownish figure of fun and wastrel drug addict. He may be all of that, and more, but the fact remains that not only is he the sodden inspiration for Cap'n Jack Sparrow, but the self-effacing backbone guitar and musical leader of the band, and the writer behind every song that powered the Stones (in conjunction with the equally talented but rather more...flamboyant Jagger, of course.)  From wikipedia: "Richards has frequently stated that he feels less like a creator than a conduit when writing songs: 'I don't have that God aspect about it. I prefer to think of myself as an antenna. There's only one song, and Adam and Eve wrote it; the rest is a variation on a theme."

The song below shows what kind of juice the man has as a songwriter, I think. From the 1969 album, Let it Bleed: You Got The Silver

hey babe, what's in your eyes? I saw them flashing
like airplane lights..

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Liar's Moon

The Wounded Angel - Hugo Simberg

Liar's Moon

I sit and watch your brushstroke of back expanding,
spreading out on the canvas in the wash of
endless days to come til there is only black blurr;
no memory thrumming in the ears,
not even a dead tear’s salt lick on the cheek.

You may have taken off your eyes, but that hasn’t
stopped you seeing in nightmares, dim shapes of
you, forever dancing to the irresistible song of  the knife,
me, the ghosted wormbitch, pale and passive,
hiding poison in a soft smiling mouth

split with sour pink grapefruit lips, astringent and
stinging wet, dripping worm words of false
agreement, appeasement, as she rolls her swollen white
corpus over, bleached and boneless belly up,
while still she spits green bile.

Or do you not look back
because you see the sadness of yourself, us both
mounted on the void like feathered lepidoptera, forgotten ciphers
trailing across the velvet sky of memory,
the falling embers of  burned angels.

It’s a liar’s moon tonight anyway,
showing nothing anyone would want
to see, just that dead-branched dark grove
where nothing holy ever stood
no goddess laughed or wept,

where even the pythoness recoils
on her bed of smoke and  broken glass
from shattering out words
in streams of darkness, and the lamia won’t stop
licking neurotically at the bloodless wound.

Burnt wings flutter the air ringing with
your voice, your laugh receding,
gone where eggshells and first feathers go;
If you have any choice
I would rather not be that worm; let me be

just an unplanted field, some wide beach of poppies
and birdsong, or mist with a river, where
inside the insect whir of summer, a naiad’s wraith
turns like a leaf in the turquoise wind
that blows from oblivion.

May 2011

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Image: The Wounded Angel, Hugo Simberg, 1903