Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Well were at war again

Well, we’re at war again....................

Sand and bombs and ugly little
desert spiders and a rancid smell
death on the street or fear in the locals?

Sitting in the waiting room at the VA hospital
spinning the new wheelchair smells like a new car
no spiders here no locals and maybe
no bombs but we'll still watch
with the good eye

Talking to the new wounded and comparing
wheels like high school kids.

Do we only write what we know? And is this effort poorer because of that?

I find it terribly absurd to think that all my memories are real, especially those dealing with the times of war.  I can remember when I would put on a 50 pound ruck and move through the most dense jungle on earth, cautiously and with much labor, traveling with young men like myself, moving less than a kilometer a day in search of ways to kill other young men.  Daily, we would move against this oppression of infinite hardship, killing and destroying, being killed and destroyed in turn.  Endless weeks of vicious boredom marked by a minutes horrible agony.  How we joked of the ways we could suffer, and loved one another with a mean affection and a deadly touch.  

Soldiers and fighting men we were, all from the ancient ages of 18 to 23, except the platoon sergeant, he was old, almost 30, and the Captain only a year younger.  We had seen more violent death on our walks in this country club than most cops could claim; and in the third world squalor of the villages, more disease than most doctors even imagined.  We had illiterate privates who could diagnose malaria, plague, and 3 or 4 malnutrition diseases.

It comes down to whatever we could handle
All the late hours of hanging out in our own skulls
Strolling carelessly to the sounds of hidden memory
Denying whatever might cost.
Most of the books deal with coping
With being able to handle life
With belief and ability and desire.
I think in terms of energy.
Is it worth it any longer
To expend energy to achieve a lie?
Once, we celebrated Ho Chi Minh‘s birthday.

Here I am going home to my father
Over vast clouds and mountains
His voice is calling to me
Soft with the light of summer.
He used to rest outside for a little hour
On a Sunday after Mass.
He has been my granite wall
And hard fought friend
He has worked
And raised a dozen or more children.
In his rest the machines
keep breath in his tired lungs
I owe him.  More then the earth.
I want him to breathe softly
To know we love him deeply and then
Like the autumn we never suspect
Fly away with the winds of summer

(The ground which forgives all our sins
And loves us dearly in the end)

Among the story of my father are the unwritten letters to Lowell, David, Joe, Patience, and all the others, they stand accusing.  Sometimes there is a striving for beauty and for the pictures of the things and the emotions.  Sometimes all this longing is paralyzing and the soul writes the letters but never sends the words.

I do not want the politics and the purpose.  What I need is the expression and beauty, and deeply, the showing of humanity as human.  Not as dogma, not as that thing which is politically right or judicious; but as that thing which is humanly felt, born of care and love and longing.  Expressed not efficiently or out of correct purpose, but expressed cleanly out of beauty and spoken with a lovers touch.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005





Cinnamon tea is a warming sound,
Softly dressing a silken minute
Delicious is such a pretty color
Lightly wrapping the quiet hours

It was 120 degrees under a hellish sun
And the dull blue cigarette smoke
Hung in a haze around our heads
On a hillside smelling of death
Which is the only smell in war
And you get used to it
On the day I packed
Most of my friend Michael
Into the bright green body bag.

I still see you in the chair
Your face a quizzical mystery
A shy smile asking do you do this often.
Felt worse than a penny dreadful
Wanting to hide among cheap novels
OH! Could I have run, I would
Damn the marriage,
To find affection on barstools
With desperate peoples.
Instead to face your friendship
That was a light to blind my whimsy
The memory cuddles like affection
Thinking of
Kansas, sweetness, and you.

Monday, August 22, 2005

small thoughts on language

One of the reasons for creating this blog is to show some of the things we go through to take an idea from basic words to a finished poem.

Usually, the rough drafts, as shown below, are filled with the language as it originally expressed the idea. Sometimes this language really overflows and fills everything up, and covers or drowns the original thought.

Sometimes, we just cannot get past the beautiful words, phrases, images, little songlike patterns, and lovely laughing clauses. When we get so caught up in this the poem gets lost but the language is lovely, and that often makes for poor poetry, but really nice sounding daydreams.

We have found that the best way to pare the lines down to the core is to have the family dragon burn all the fluff away. We can then rebuild from that to make a clearer, if somewhat more astringent creation, dedicating the rebuilt phrases to the spare but now well defined poem.

If you don't have a family dragon, well, you need to use a different metaphor, then, don't you?

Poetry On Line


Beijing is only a little hustle
But every morning government house
And all the other big brother buildings
Remind you
There‘’s more muscle here
Than Shanghai.


The place to shop here is the Bishop Tutu Mall and occasional revolutionary parking lot
But in the heat, the slow pace of afternoons outside cemeteries
(New Orleans copied these, they are the Caribbean standard
almost Japanese with crowding)
hectic tourists chase all the birds away, swarming the best headstones.
I flew in from St. Croix, before that Tortola, San Juan,
Some sweet line of sea and perfect blue
And never rode a cruise ship so stood out among the tourists,
Who never entered any other way, they only ever cruise
Also, had more than four......hours to stay so I saw the place
Driving to Megan‘s Bay where the ships have (damn it) sailed
filled the sand with the smell of booze, retirement, and coppertone,
It is somewhat sobering to contemplate what was
Frenchman’s reef could conjure a storm of pirate tales
lost now under a concrete walk behind the glass hotels
where mountainous canoes spew forth money, jobs,
the lesser hope of sharing has cast lots for stripping riches
from the shills.


Here, I didn’‘t see any Iguanas, but on the road
Horses bloomed like magic