Sunday, October 28, 2007


The veil between the worlds is wearing thin.
As October hobbles to its chilly close,
the spirits slip their summer discipline
to haunt our porches in their parent’s clothes.

Monsters jostle demons in the streets,
the walking dead are jolly as they rot;
it’s difficult to say, of those we treat,
who might be whom, and who may not.

But soon enough November falls in place,
with a question no one ever asks:
what kind of creatures would we face
if grownups finally put away their masks?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dyl and Syl

Dylan Thomas

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Sylvia Plath

Poems, Potatoes

The word, defining, muzzles; the drawn line
Ousts mistier peers and thrives, murderous,
In establishments which imagined lines

Can only haunt. Sturdy as potatoes,
Stones, without conscience, word and line endure,
Given an inch. Not that they're gross (although

Afterthought often would have them alter
To delicacy, to poise) but that they
Shortchange me continuously: whether

More or other, they still dissatisfy.
Unpoemed, unpictured, the potato
Bunches its knobby browns on a vastly
Superior page; the blunt stone also.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Day at the Arboretum

Now the helicopters come,
now the abracadabras
of the great abscission,
as the trees spin down
their summer architecture,
provision and shelter
for their germinating young,
fuel for the fires of autumn.

Watching my daughters run
with their recalcitrant kite,
breeze a straggling lamb
behind, I wonder why
I feel so strange lately;
why now, when everything
showed signs of coming
together, I should look
down to find my hands
involved in such confusion,
such an inchoate music
of kite strings and leaves.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Shell

I took the conch down from the shelf
to listen to the sea,
but at my ear a silver elf
sang my name to me.

A voice of silver, high and wild,
no human throat could form,
as if an ectoplasmic child
were crying in a storm.

I held it there and strained to hear
a message, grammar, sense,
but just a syllable was clear,
simplistic eloquence.

The carols of the Lorelei
cost sailing men their souls;
the Sirens’ fetching lullabies
peopled Grecian shoals.

I put it down; its whisperings
could charm the curios;
I knew that there are certain things
it’s better not to know.

But the voice was never in the shell,
the voice was in my head;
fires of heaven, fires of hell,
I followed where it led.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Half Life of One

At long last I have in my hands Bill Liversidge's new novel A Half Life of One, and a beautiful thing it is. It is currently available through Amazon. Do yourself a favor.

We are trying to arrange an interview with the author, but he remains, as always, elusive. No doubt there are better avenues to publicity than this humble blog, but we will persist, and we hope that eventually he'll be convinced to come have a chat. His picture is below. If you see him, a word in his ear would not go amiss.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

By the Sea

I used to come in former days,
to watch your dazzle shame the sun,
to listen as you’d paraphrase
the legends of leviathan.

Once I thought I understood
your idiot metronomy,
hoped your ceaseless murmur would
approximate profundity,

but now I see a tattered bird,
a parrot raised in distant lands,
squawking language never heard,
that neither of us understands.

I would have liked to learn the trick
that whittles old glass and stone
to gems the lucky children lick
and barter on the journey home.

But all our charmed summers go;
the children put their pails aside,
voyage slowly home to know
the cunning harvest of the tide.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Secrets of the Great Composers

We write what music’s in our hearts
in manuscript of blood and nerve:
to wrap the primal fish of art

no lesser parchment serves.
None so plainly signifies
the variations we observe:

iubilate, track of fly,
oratorio of gall,
heavy metal lullaby.

Composer, fiddle, fiddler, hall,
we count the quavers, score the parts
to songs we learned when we were small.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Once we were young, and knew
the monsters in the dark were real,
waiting there among the shoes
and shirts for another juicy meal.

But we lived and learned, most of us,
that shadow phantoms were the least
of it, that sunlit dailiness
could hold more terrors than the beast.

Now, old, we tardy scholars
serve our demons bread and broth;
we gossip with our midnight callers,
but dread the dusty kisses of the moth.

Friday, October 05, 2007



Love is gentle, love is kind,
love is all things positive;
love can devastate the mind,
vaporize the will to live.

Would Jack and Jill be mad about
themselves absent their gnarly hill?
Would love be love at all without
its coiled, embrangled codicils?

Love’s unrequited, to take
the common case to be the whole:
one oblivious to the ache
that permeates the other’s soul,

a torture reason doesn’t ease,
that logic’s powerless to move;
it's one of love’s vagaries
that only Darwin could approve.

But lightning strikes. People do
meet, and do reciprocate
affection all the time, it’s true;
then they re-evaluate

relationships already sealed,
weigh the pain of leaving with
the anguish yet to be revealed,
the dismal facts against the myth.

Catastrophe in Camelot
could have been avoided had
not Guinevere and Lancelot
usurped the love their vows forbade.

Think of Helen and her boy,
the city sacked, the useless dead;
they traded happiness for joy,
got love’s choruses instead.

And then there are the noble souls
who do resist the sirens’ song;
they learn to sleep on glowing coals
but rarely hold out very long.

Resistance only makes it worse;
passion waxes when denied.
Love has methods to coerce
nobility dissatisfied.

The only mystery is why:
clearly, love’s a losing game.
Ask the pretty butterfly
about the flower in the flame.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Disappearance of Jane C.

The initial chat had been upbeat enough,
but still, the callback took her by surprise
because the competition had been tough,
a drill of hungry-looking Ivy ties
whose calfskin attaches were nicely scuffed.

So Jane was leery, facing the gray VPs,
two flannel walrus and a worsted moose,
who didn’t seem to doubt her expertise
so much as her promise not to reproduce,
to keep a handle on her ovaries.

She swore that kids were nowhere in her plan,
would never be, even unforeseeably.
She swore to be as bankable as any man,
and the interview concluded quite agreeably,
though the odd remarks about her tan

and the news that she was possibly a ten
made her disbelieve them when they said
she was still in the running as of then,
and maybe just the slightest bit ahead.
They’d be in touch. So long. Thanks again.

She bought two papers on the way uptown
because she had some extra resumes
she thought it couldn’t hurt to spread around,
a polished recitation of her works and days,
worth about an interview per pound.

But in a week they thrilled her with the news,
and though the piggy only yielded ninety cents
she shopped away her unemployment blues,
scribbled checks against her next month’s rent
for a calfskin case and new cross-training shoes.

And that was the last we ever saw of her.
None of her usual contacts had a clue,
except her new personal manager
who knew from watching her accounts accrue
that she couldn’t conceivably be happier.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Parking Lot

Sedan de Ville

Oliver Kingman wheels regal his shimmering stretch
into its place of honor by the door, eyes
the Bug at the foot of the lot with something akin to fear:
all these years of running his place he's always been first,
and now some flextime freakshow comes before
the sun is up, burning the lights, as if he cared
about the flow of work or man from day to night,
or rituals of keys. Mister Kingman pushes home
the magnificent door and savors the solid thunk
of his enameled dreams, squints against the sun
rising in his chrome, thinks of Cadillacs to come
as he heads into the place he built with his hands, a man
with places to go, a man with appointments to keep.


Bloody with morning,
low in the red eye of sun,
squadrons of Nissans.

Electra 225

Caught like a fly in the amber of morning
the janitor eases his deuce and a quarter
to rest in the first of the unreserved spaces,
sits with his radio, drinking the last
of his breakfast of beer. In back of his mind
is a certain unease with the ghost of the previous
owner (a soldier more hopeful than wise,
who’d bought the impeccable ride for a woman
more trying than true) whispering mile
after mile of adulteries into his ear
from a government grave in the wintery earth
of Detroit. At the start it seemed fortunate past
all his dreams: a woman with money to burn
with a car that was everything rolled into one.
But of late he'd begun to have certain misgivings
at how it appeared to betray his intentions
whenever the voice in his ear became lulling
or frightened him more than he usually was,
how it reached for the shoulders or hungered for speed
or was simply so smooth that he found himself drifting
to sleep at the wheel. He poured his libation,
went to his duties, with only a glance
at the glittering thing he'd escaped, saw only
its blank and implacable beauty returned.


In black ten-gallon,
blue jeans, hand tooled boots, ambling
from trusted Honda
to his opulent corral
in the Xerox room,
a faithful reproduction
of the golden west,
riding an eastern pony.
He is a vision
of some lost nobility,
a hint of mislaid
character, backbone, poise. Then,
in grey ten-gallon,
grey jeans, boots, another one,
from another Honda, grey.


Driven madly through the dawn
from condominium to panic,
the junior salesman pushes in
between desire and consummation,
sweeper and boss. Dashboard strewn
with foiled antacid, he sees in Kingman's
lacquer Kingman's lackey, unaware,
despite his various degrees,
that the space is empty by design,
if unofficially, owned
by Kingman's secretary, Suze,
high school graduate,
who as he sits pulls up behind
and taps the horn of her new Corvette.
Puzzled for a second, finally
he understands, in time to see
her smile dissolve like windshield frost.
Backing out, he smiles across,
a new offense, sees his future
curling from her chromed exhausts.