POEM: for Lorine Niedecker

for Lorine Niedecker

I imagine you at a card table
on a screened-in porch
vinyl tablecloth
with a bright flower pattern
glowing in the afternoon light
of a Wisconsin spring

you’re holding a sheaf
of carefully typed poems
harvested from years of
unvoiced imaginings
your hands shake slightly
second ring catching the light

in front of you on the table
is a Philips dictation machine
tiny wheels turning
as you intone the words
your reedy voice
imparting a gentle dignity

at this point almost no one
has heard of you
two books published decades apart
one privately, one only in Scotland
your connection to American letters
a series of epistles to Zukofsky

soon a stroke will take you
silencing your voice
just as it’s becoming audible
but enough have heard to ensure
your words will survive beyond
this Wisconsin afternoon

for now it’s enough
to sit on this warm porch
read your poems about Monticello
remember Polly and Darwin
this paean to place
your lasting gift to the world

5 April 2012
Brooklyn NY

/ / /


It’s National Poetry Writing Month! A poem a day, each day in April. This poem was inspired by the Niedecker episode of Essential American Poets.

POEM: Naruto Ramen, Brooklyn

Naruto Ramen, Brooklyn

where the cooks speak a mixture
of Japanese and Spanish
Irashaimase!” they call
as people come in off 5th Ave
hang their coats and backpacks
on the wall hooks
those who know sit at the bar
because the bar is a sacred place
where devotion is paid
to the sprout, the noodle,
the bean pod, the tofu square,
the white pepper garnish
the sweat on the brow
the cold Sapporo or Asahi
the cheap balsa wood hashi
that you break at the end
scraping the sticks against
one another to remove splinters
order the extra noodles because
they’re generous with the broth
slurp loud enough to pay respect
to the hachimaki-sporting men
flinging pots on the six-burner stove
like Barishnikovs with ladles
for some, the nostalgia is as thick
as the steam rising off the broth pots
it’s a bit of a surprise to leave
and find yourself in Brooklyn
not in any of a thousand thousand shops
just like this one, tucked around a corner
of a narrow street, in every town in Japan

4 April 2012
Brooklyn, NY

/ / /


It’s National Poetry Writing Month! A poem a day, each day in April.

POEM: The Entire Sweep Of Human History…

The Entire Sweep Of Human History, Reduced For Easy Consumption To One Tiny Facet Of Evolutionary Biology, Made Easily Digestible By The Removal Of Context And Detail, Served In A White Clam Sauce Over Linguine Noodles, With A Glass Of Red Wine, All For $17.50

this is
the story
of trillions
of sperm
and the
eggs who
loved them

3 April 2012
Brooklyn, NY

/ / /


It’s National Poetry Writing Month! A poem a day, each day in April.

POEM: like

like

garlic and Earth Balance over warm rotini

the key changes in Stevie’s “Summer Soft”

flowers on the window sill (our window sill)

Roland Orzabal’s guitar solo on
            “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”

miso ramen with white pepper and sprouts
            eaten at the bar where everyone is sweating

sembe and a cold bottle of green tea

Levon Helm’s drum crescendo on the final verse of
            “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”
            from The Last Waltz

when my kids get tired at night and forget
            they’re too cool to hug me

the chorus of “Go All The Way” by the Raspberries
            heard while watching someone stuff artisanal Twinkies
            in a Park Slope bakery (I know, I know)

in bed, playing Chrono Trigger, one of us for the first time
            and the other, well, not for the first time

at the table (taken from 24 Packard) talking politics
            while Paul Robeson sings “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

sitting on the cushion with the rain falling outside
            and the Japanese temple incense filling the room

when you said, “I want you in my life for a very long time”

2 April 2012
Brooklyn NY

/ / /


It’s National Poetry Writing Month! A poem a day, each day in April.

POEM: Cape Town

Cape Town

singing Cape Town into Brooklyn
through a pair of speakers made in China
music written in the Berkshires
by a madhouse veteran of the solo circuit
green tea in the last surviving mug
from the latest in a long line of relocations
the new room has an altar in it
which would surprise everyone and no one
the air smells of incense and lilacs
the bed is a nest of pillows and mattresses
if you draw the Buddha, said the monk,
be sure to always draw him smiling sweetly
that way he’ll make the children happy

1 April 2012
Brooklyn, NY

/ / /


It’s National Poetry Writing Month! A poem a day, each day in April.