PAD Day 17

Today’s challenge: title a poem with “All I Want Is ____” and go from there. So:

All I want is not to want things
that are pointless or painful to want
especially given how much I possess
that I thought I’d wanted, and do, but look
at how little I’ve done with it, and at
the feasts at hand I’ve not yet fully savored
so why my fool heart still covets more crumbs
of unearned idolatry, unsolicited joys,
and unconditional connections — I want
such senseless cravings to cease.
such senseless cravings to cease.And yet
all that I do not want to become
stays my hands from straying toward
the things that are not mine, no matter
the depth of my damnation — these days
through which I dogpaddle past
the siren serenades and the hollow gifts,
‘til my self-churned waves cast me upon
the shore of a story with a happy ending,
one in which I don’t find myself wanting.

– pld

(P.S. I don’t have the chops or know-how to match the html color code to the background within a reasonable space of time, so if you see the spacer-text in front of “And yet,” please just pretend it’s blank.)

So I Decided To Make Up Easter

The Day 12 (Easter Sunday) prompt for the PAD challenge was to title a poem with “So We Decided To ____” and then elaborate on it.

So We Decided to Walk Down St. Claude

Easter Sunday in New Orleans, we had our choice
of at least five parades: Chris Owens, Arnaud’s,
St. Charles, the gays, and the Goodchildren Carnival Club.
We weren’t in the right mood for Vieux Carre hijinks
so we headed toward the Goodchildren gathering
at the corner of St. Claude and Poland. Along the way,
a half-dozen strangers wished us “Happy Easter,” and
one man cheerfully yelled, “Where’s my candy?” We also
passed a brick building where someone had sprayed
anti-war slogans. Eight blocks east,
a dentist’s window proclaimed, “We Cater to Cowards.”
The police hadn’t arrived at the start of the route
by two-fifteen, so one of the firemen
angled his truck across a lane
as a wall between the restless bunnies
and would-be thru-traffic. A woman in
a hat bedecked with large purple flowers
and an alligator plushie peeking out of her bag
kept trying to reach the cops, while one of the bands
passed the time repeating “Down By the Riverside.”
Finally — one, two, three boys in blue.
The marchers mush into their lines. The sirens toot,
and ten minutes later they’re all past the turn.
If it weren’t for the trinkets cupped in my palms —
a green plastic egg, a xeroxed fleur de lis
inside a metal frame, two strands of beads —
there’d be nothing to show me what I’d just seen.
Ten years ago, I’d have hoarded such relics,
and twenty years ago I’d have gone to Mass
as a voyeuristic indulgence, the way I always order
a wine or whisky I haven’t yet tasted
when we splurge on a dinner out. The older I get,
the less I try to cling to the past, for
the more I realize how much it costs
to clutch at even insubstantial dross. But blessed
are they, I’m told, who see not, yet believe. I see
yet do not believe. I am blessed nonetheless.

– pld

On the Road 5

Ekphrastic! And I can’t spell, especially French.

Usually I object to woman as object
but for a couple hundred yearS
she’s stood gazing adoringly
at Daguerre’s bust, uplifted
arms mid-drape and full of laurel
and I pity her, her whole life
watching his dark face stare
somewhere else.
Perhaps I could pity him
were he more than mind,
a solid chest or fine ass
on display as much as she.
But it’s her naked back,
the low cut of her robes
that greets the viewer,
not the world or this man’s eyebrows.
Pity me, pity you,
for we echo her pose.

riff on color (PAD day 16)

This morning, at my personal blog, I claimed I was about to head to work.

Assorted chores and one shower later, I’m still about to head to work. But first, here’s my response to today’s prompt at Poetic Asides, which was to select a color for a title and then write about it:

Flute White

I am not an artist, so
to suggest a flute, I reach
for a gray or silver crayon

but here at Cafe EnVie
we breakfast below a fine painting
of a jazz musician. The keys

of his flute shine out, bright
in the Monday morning gloom,
white splashes of light

like Cheshire teeth gleaming
from dark green thickets. Like
a trill of sparks within
a moody solo. Like the fall

of water from our showerhead
that, not being an artist, I
would try to depict
as something transparent —

streaks of white in a painting,
or streaks of black in line art — only,
the way it falls reminds me how
notes swarm out of a virtuoso’s flute

like clouds of fireflies. Brightened
by the sunlight pouring through
the bathroom window, the water

strikes the tiles in a cascade
of gold and of tinsel, silvery
as the oil-paint white

keys of the flute above us,
as glittering as the note
that sounds as our glasses meet.

– pld

On the Road 4

I met Lo and her husband today, which was great fun. I hoped all the poem talking would inspire something. Here they are, heartfelt appreciation for the beauty of their relationship:

When the boat comes
I will follow you.
I won’t set out before.
The wide world’s done
it’s wandering with me
and there is just one trip
I’ve left to take.
Alone. But never first,
No matter how the nerves
default to panic
or endorphins buoy me
above fear’s waterline.
You say you’ll follow me,
you won’t set out before.
The ship will kiss the sand
with us still arguing.

the blood already running there

Today’s PAD challenge: take a favorite poem, change its title, and then write a poem in response to the new title.

[Source poem: A Poem for Painters by John Wieners]

A Drink for Dabblers

To start, there is no defense.

My kitchen contains no wild
fruit, no
flapping of guardian
wings, no cherished chants,

yet, when petitioned
to brew up a blessing,
I leave the drawbridge down,

so eager my fire
to be more than a brown shadow
lining a wall within the ruins
of other people’s memories.

I serve you this tea,
knowing the thirst, leaving

what will last
up to your hands and their restless
roaming. My pitcher pours
its psalms upon palms
no longer outstretched
by the time the ale foams
its promises along
the cracks of your gloves.

– pld

[Some poems are like “Greensleeves” — they become the song that slides without a second thought out of one’s fingertips during sound checks, at unattended pianos, and within collabs and improvs. I’ve riffed on “A Poem for Painters” before, and if you peeked at yesterday’s handwritten drafts, you’ll have noticed that I’d started out by picking yet another fight with Shakespeare Sonnet 116…]

one from the weekend

I did see Friday’s PAD prompt before catching my flight to New Orleans: it was “Friday.” I flirted with a number of possibilities over the following twenty-odd hours, but I eventually sketched out the start of this early Saturday morning (I habitually fade away to bed before the rest of the Saz-Erac household. While it doesn’t always translate into my rising before the others the next day, I woke up eager to write about a statue I’d seen the previous afternoon…):


Five days of the week, and sometimes six,
Stanley is at his desk before sunrise.
Four days of the week, and sometimes five,
he’s still crunching numbers
after the sun disappears

but Friday night, no matter who tries
to chain him to their columns of demands,
Stanley leaves the office before sundown

and as the candles glow
and the wine wakens his tongue,
shining psalms unfurl from Stanley’s shoulderblades,
floating him into his day of rest.


bagatelle night

The PAD prompt for day 13 was “hobby.” Here’s my effort (a bit over a half-hour in a gmail window; kick-started primarily by Martha Rhodes’s April 10 “Poet’s Pick” for the Poetry Daily e-letter (a rondelet by Anon that began “I never meant…”)):

Calligrapher’s Rondelet

The letter f
defies finesse. Out of my pen,
each letter f
looks like a mashed-up treble clef.
I had not dreamt, when I began,
how I’d draw again and again
this letter f.


[I’ve still half a mind to call it “Calligrapher’s Rondeloop,” but perhaps I’ll reserve that for a grander (and/or more grandiose) take on the topic (some other night).]

NaPoWriMo Day 14: Brianna

I realized, today, that posting poems on the Internet makes them ineligible for publication.  Darn.  I wonder if that’ll ever change?  A weblog is hardly in the same camp as a literary journal, but it’s also not the same as showing something to your friends around a table at a bar.  Anyway, it means that’s the end of my sharing of terrible first drafts.  I’ll finish out the month by writing about whatever writing work I do that day, and maybe posting some excerpts, a la the very wise Mary.

Today I wrote the bones of a poem about riding the Skytrain.  It’s called, brilliantly, Skytrain, and I started while riding the Skytrain.  Imagine that!

And I spent most of the day organizing batches of submissions for literary journals and a chapbook publisher.  I think my eyes are now permanently crossed.  Not the most fun work, but it always feels good to get it done (or almost done–I have more niggling format issues to conquer tomorrow).