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Category: My poems

My first book!

I found out Tuesday night that FootHills Publishing, a 25-year-old independent poetry press, is going to publish a collection of my work. I really can’t believe it. Huzzah!

Watch this space for more details…

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POEM: Tomorrow the wedding

I wrote this in Oakland, CA, in October 2008 while getting ready for my sister-in-law’s wedding.

Oakland photo (c) Jason Crane
Oakland photo (c) Jason Crane

Tomorrow the Wedding
for Amy & Michele

Tomorrow the wedding

      today hauling cans of soda,
      bottles of beer.

Phone: the Italian groom

      carrying a bouquet of balloons
      back to the apartment.

Meanwhile…

      eastern family, recently landed,
      descended from the pure blue.

Our temporary hilltop home,

      where we sit silently
      on the sun-warmed porch,
      looking out over Oakland
      at the glittering bay beyond.

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POEM: Robert Redford’s Banker

I wrote this on a plane trip to San Francisco in 2008, while sitting next to the gentleman described in the poem.

Robert Redford’s Banker

makes perfect check marks
next to the names of Maui restaurants
that he’ll visit when the plane lands.

With measured strokes,
he moves money
from one worthy cause to the next.

The handwriting in his register
shows the passage of time,
a certain revealing tremor in the fingers.

A small picture of the actor —
in his halcyon days —
rests on the tray table next to a bill

from the banker’s club, a map of Maui,
and suggestions for avoiding problems
with Medicare and the tax collector.

He nibbles a deliberate biscotti
and counts to three on his left hand,
fingers pressed, one after another, against his thumb.

Perhaps he’s not counting at all, just
reassuring himself of his own tactile reality,
one not represented by ink on watermarked paper.

The plane touches down, the banker gathers loose papers
to his chest and moves off into the terminal,
searching for his connection, dreaming of the stage.

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POEM: Maple Leaf

Listen to this poem by pressing the play button above.

I wrote this over the weekend on the train from Albany, NY, to Rochester, NY.

Photo (c) 2008, Brian Cameron
Photo (c) 2008, Brian Cameron

Maple Leaf

ice flows on the canal
and I flow the opposite way,
bound west on two steel lines
toward my old not-home

now the water is a river
filled with half-wild islands
and on each piece of snowy ground,
a flock of waiting birds

Amsterdam, Utica, Syracuse —
ancient and exotic names
they have turned their backs
on the water and rails

further on now through fields
where sparse grasses and weeds
poke up through the snow
like drowning men’s fingertips

blowing snow, fog-like
makes of the rail line a dream sequence
empty nests wedged in tree limbs
empty factories with no hope of spring

for an instant, beside the tracks,
two men with rifles search the trees for prey
while nearby an empty backyard
where an empty swing set sways

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POEM: bus stop effigy

Listen to this poem by pressing the play button above.

Image (c) John Brodkin
Image (c) John Brodkin

bus stop effigy

bus stop effigy
low-wage lynching
victim waits
to move from one
rat hole to the next
stop on the line
with only ends
no destinations
no cessation
puffy down coat
conceals smoldering
fire in the gut
winter air hides
shamefaced blush

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POEM: William Can’t Tell

The thermodynamic arrow of time has always interested me, both as a concept and a phrase. I wrote this syllabic poem last year, my first such attempt. Thanks to Huw Price for allowing me to use the epigram.


Image courtesy of Rush W. Dozier, Codes of Evolution – the Synaptic language Language revealing the Secrets of Matter, Life, and Thought, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1992.

William Can’t Tell

Late in the nineteenth century, on the shoulders of Maxwell, Boltzmann and many lesser giants, physicists saw that there is a deep puzzle behind the familiar phenomena described by the new science of thermodynamics. On the one hand, many such phenomena show a striking temporal bias. They are common in one temporal orientation, but rare or non-existent in reverse. On the other hand, the underlying laws of mechanics show no such temporal preference. If they allow a process in one direction, they also allow its temporal mirror image. Hence the puzzle: if the laws are so even-handed, why are the phenomema themselves so one-sided? — Huw Price, from The Thermodynamic Arrow: Puzzles and Pseudo-Puzzles

chaos does not lessen
along the arrow’s path

and time cannot be measured
by order or its absence

the arrow flies forever
no pressure no resistance

thermodynamism
beneath the lives of every

woman, man and baby
throughout this blind creation

there is no bow, no hunter
no target, no intention

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