Shoved deep into the bench seat of an old Ford truck we found a kitten. The bench seat, like a black sofa, leaned against the chicken coop. We used to play house and pretend outside was our living room. It was dead, of course, the kitten, you can't stuff a body, no matter how small, between the stiff cushions of a Ford bench seat. Other animals had been found, recently Cats, kittens, chickens, a mouse. They said it was a coyote or a fox but how can an animal stuff a kitten into an abandoned black bench seat? There was that day when... A porcupine attacked the dog. The dog howled in screams as men pulled her from the truck. It wasn't a porcupine that killed the kitten. This needed human hands. We ran home to tell our mothers. We climbed over split rail fences, through dead and dying orchards. across old rail tracks that once transported swine, beef and grain, but now the trains were ghosts and the rails vanished into the dirt. We reached the farm house, the white peeling paint revealing rot. We'd lived there, but not long, two families without fathers, and many kids. Sometimes men would visit. Some fathers. Some not. They'd bring beer. We were out of breath from running. We heaved and pressed our palms against our knees. Ma! we called. Ma! It's dead. A kitten! we called. It was empty. There were no mothers. No fathers. no adults. Stapled to the door A pink paper. Animal Abuse it said. The animals were all gone. The dog with the porcupine quills. The cat missing kittens. The puppies. The chickens. All gone. A dust kicked up around our tired feet. The pink paper waved in the breeze the tape held it to the door. A car was approaching from the distance. They would take us next put us in foster homes send us to strangers. Soon we forgot all about the kitten.
It's been years words can't escape if they never arrive
I miss them
In The Beginning
In the beginning there was only the holy darkness,
and in that darkness there was a moment of chaos,
and the darkness shattered,
and a great buzzing occurred, a sound that was not there before,
and all the beings in the holy darkness thought that they knew
all about the accident, knew what, and why, and wherefore…
and they were righteous.
When the darkness shattered shards of light scattered
and the righteous believed they could see, truly see,
and they began to dictate, and rule, and control those who were born after
the days of holy darkness.
The righteous believed they could see
never understanding that the light was an illusion
and the noise was a lie.
The truth, the enlightenment, was back in the darkness
Where chaos always lived
where there was no sight
where the silence was as heavy as flesh.
What Are We Doing Here
Even in the light of day the stars are shining down on us.
The sun cascades behind the horizon as if the earth is as
flat as the celestial mysteries hidden far beyond our clouds.
No one knows the mountain, shown in the half moon light that crosses
over the river, one passing the other like a mirror reflecting a casual glance; no one knows that mountain.
A dog barks.
I sight a deer in wild bamboo—
What is it doing here?
How to Read A Poem
I first began a blog in 2008. It wasn’t this one. Back then I had no idea what I wanted to do with this whole blogging thing (still don’t, but I’m getting closer to the idea). I have about four separate blogs, a ridiculous mess, and I’m putting things into order. For the next few posts on this blog I’ll be transferring some post that were written in 2008, and posted elsewhere.
In 2002, I had taken a poetry course with a teacher named McDowell at Portland Community College. I actually dropped the class. That had nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me. The following post is from notes I had taken while attending his course. I can’t take credit for all the information, and if I had his full name I would post it here. If anyone happens to know his full name send it my way, and I’ll update this and credit it properly. The notes were all taken by me (by hand even) and they are also adapted into my own language and examples, but the ideas are McDowell’s.
HOW TO READ A POEM
- Read it all the way through.
What if you don’t get it? Its form is strange, the language isn’t familiar, the imagery is abstract- forget about it- don’t stop reading. Just let it go and read it all the way through from beginning to end- try to relax your mind and just read.
- Read it again but this time read it out loud.
- Word by word
- Look for the Imagery
I know her scrubbed and sour humble handslie with religion in their cramp, her threadbareWhisper in a damp word, her wits drilled hollow,her fist of a face died clenched on a round pain;And sculptured Ann is seventy years of stone.
- Read for Organization
From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,And I hunched in it’s belly till my wet fur froze.Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
- Read for Technique
- Read it with all the above– I’m just going to quote McDowell’s bullet point here:
- Often a poet will go through dozens of drafts of a poem before allowing it to be read by anyone else, much less published. Dylan Thomas often went through 80 or 100 drafts. You can be assured that if you are alert, you’ll gain more from another reading. Poems aren’t like newspapers, to be read once and then tossed into the recycling bin. Each year you’re a different person; you’ll find that when you return to poems read years before, the good poems will seem to be telling you exactly those things you learned in the interim; they’ll seem like different poems. Every poet, every age, every country, every emotion, every climate, every language, every temperament produces different types of poetry. If you don’t like a poem, do it the justice to find out what about it you don’t like, and then move on to a different kind of poem.
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike
I am not cruel, only truthful –
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.