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Category: Poem-A-Day 2013

POEM: The Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion


The Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion

back when we used to watch the same three channels
& a pirate could take over the nine o’clock news
now a m-m-m-maniac in sunglasses and a latex mask
is shouting the names of his friends and enemies
looking like a crazed Ronald Reagan (yes, all Ronald
Reagans look crazed) & we’re glued to the set
like Oprah was giving away free cars but of course
she hadn’t started doing that yet in 1987; she had only
just displaced Phil Donahue (that ancient wizard) as
the number one talk show host on the block but we digress
Pseudo Max Headroom is on our TV screens in place
of “The Horror Of Fang Rock” & who is Chuck Swirsky?
[screams and moans] “Your love is fading!” & at the end
a woman dressed like Heidi smacks his ass with a fly swatter
& we can’t help but wonder if this was the only
two minutes of honesty on WTTW that entire day

/ / /

Jason Crane
18 January 2014
Oak Street

/ / /

Here’s a video of the incident referred to in this poem:

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POEM: release



I slowly open my hands
feel its wings flutter
against my warm palms
see the colors emerge
from between my fingers
until it is free, flying
lifting off into the sky
leaving a single feather
on the cuff of my sleeve
I put the feather on my desk
so I can look at it later
when I need to remember

/ / /

27 January 2014
State College, PA

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POEM: hunting


the snow has stopped
men in black parkas
move among the hulks

with long handles
excavating their most
precious commodity

water is leaking
from somewhere, spreading
a slow dark stain

the thick glass
keeps out the sound
of the whipping wind

leaving behind
the low, heavy, silent
sound of a dream

as salesmen circle
their prey
in the showroom

31 December 2013
State College

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POEM: you



Dave Von Ronk is singing
about John Henry and bamboo.
I’m sitting at my desk, waiting
for the sun to rise, thinking
about the same thing this morning
I was thinking about last night.

30 December 2013
State College

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POEM: Sunday rain


Sunday rain

awoke to the sound
of the rain on the roof
I turned to put my arm
around you
but you aren’t here

29 December 2013
Oak Street

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POEM: this too is science


this too is science

there are freckles
just below
her collarbone
like a constellation
of tiny stars on flesh

when the sun is up
she covers them
beneath a lab coat
or a blanket
of unpopular opinions

at night, she
slips off her second skin
draws black lines
around her eyes
steps into the darkness

where the laughter is loud
& the music is louder
people jammed together
like atoms in the Big Bang
this too is science

28 December 2013
Oak Street

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POEM: Dizzy Gillespie At Newport, 1957


Dizzy Gillespie At Newport, 1957

everyone is wailing
trumpets splitting
the blue Rhode Island sky
bringing the crowd
to its feet
in a surge
the dam breaking
women in summer dresses
men in linen pants
white short-sleeved shirts
they swirl and jump
hands grabbing
sweat on their foreheads
back on stage
Dizzy is dancing
thick black glasses
years ahead of his time
bell pointing at heaven
the saxophones slither
as the song builds
to a crashing avalanche
loud enough
to compete
with the howls
from the lawn
when the ending comes
it takes the people a moment
to realize it’s over
then their screaming gets
if anything
until Dizzy says
and the crowd obeys
just another collection
of instruments
on this summer afternoon

28 December 2013
State College

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POEM: almost

Road trip-Santa barbara


she has a one-eyed dog
named after meat
sometimes she has
red hair
but sometimes not
she’s a bright moment
in this strange world
of near connections
the people we almost
but don’t quite meet

28 December 2013
State College

/ / /

Photo by Yvan Morin

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POEM: a poem for loud lovers


a poem for loud lovers

I don’t have a real bed
(& my inflatable bed died)
but there’s carpet on the floor
and half the fun
is scaring the neighbors
or making them giggle
as they look toward the ceiling

in fact, if we’re particularly good
we might convince them
to turn off the TV
make the downstairs
as loud as the upstairs
which, to my way of thinking
is nothing less than a public service

27 December 2013
State College

/ / /

Image by ee cummings

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POEM: Christmas Eve, 2013


Christmas Eve, 2013

I’m sitting in my apartment, one lamp on,
watching old episodes of Doctor Who, from
the first year they made it in color. There’s
nobody here but me, because the boys are
at their grandmother’s house, and I’m not
allowed past the front door. And not even
that far, if she has her druthers. They’ll be
here soon, though, to take me to their house,
where we’ll play some games and wait
for the arrival of Santa Claus, in whom one
believes and one doesn’t. If you’d told me ten,
or even five, years ago that this year I’d be
cut off from my entire family (except for my
sister) and living alone in my least favorite place
on Earth, I’d have hoped you weren’t clairvoyant.
And although I’m much better at staying
in the moment than I used to be, there are some
moments you hope pass quickly. Still,
later tonight I’ll get to tuck my sons in,
pet their dog, lay my head down on a real bed.
And in the morning they’ll open their gifts,
we’ll laugh and we’ll hug. That’s what I’m waiting for,
as the clock ticks away the minutes on Christmas Eve.

24 December 2013
Oak Street

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POEM: tengu



it sits quietly waiting for a new sound
the six lights that make up its closed lips
pressed together in anticipation
its eyes slowly pulsating as it listens

this odd little creation is meant to be
an interface between sound and vision
intended to express visually
what its mechanical ear takes in; it’s easy

to forget when its mouth is synced with speech
that it is nothing more than an ear, a sensor,
a series of facial expressions, but then again:
which of us is any different?

22 December 2013
Oak Street

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POEM: American Fool


American Fool

It was the summer that John Cougar’s “Hurts So Good”
owned the airwaves. I remember it was playing
in Todd’s room when I got there. Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Our family’s last stand in our home state before
the final dissolution. Before we spread across the country
like dandelion seeds scattered by a strong wind.

It was also the summer of the Kinks’ “Lola,” introduced
to me by a Doctor Demento parody called “Yoda.”
“Y-O-D-A Yo-Da.” All three of those songs are bound up
in my memory like the sight of the sword Todd laid
on his bed, a gift from the grandfather we didn’t share.
The one who’d been an officer in the Knights of Columbus.

It was the last summer of trips to see Plymouth Rock
or the replica of the Mayflower. (“April showers bring
May flowers. What do May flowers bring? Pilgrims!”)
After that, seeing Todd meant a trip to Wisconsin.
It wasn’t the same. Even later when I moved to Arizona
where he lived, things had changed. Too much time.

It was the summer I came home from my grandparents’ place
round as a beach ball from all the Ring Dings I’d eaten,
sitting in front of the little TV in their den watching Star Blazers.
My parents made me run a mile a night until I was less round.
One of many clues I didn’t notice until three decades later.
By then the bullet had hit and passed through, leaving a scar.

21 December 2013
Oak Street

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POEM: birds unknown kind


birds unknown kind

A dozen birds — unknown kind,
beaks into the December wind —
cut through the pinkening sky
like ink spots on a silk sheet.
A full morning moon shines
in the ice patches on the sidewalk,
sharing a laugh with Jupiter.

19 December 2013
State College, PA

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POEM: summer of ’77


summer of ’77

who knows what kind of car it was
all I remember is the windshield
looking through it over the shoulders
of my mom and my not-yet-dad
to see the cold gray TIE Fighter
swoop down on a lone X-Wing
against a black, star-dotted field

18 December 2013
Oak Street

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POEM: they didn’t even mind that their skinny jeans got damp


they didn’t even mind that their skinny jeans got damp

instead they ran through the streets of the West Village
laughing as they hadn’t since they were children
jumping in puddles (first he, then she, then he again)
as the sound of a jazz combo lurched up the stairs from the 55 Bar
following them down the street like a beatnik mendicant
on the corner of Greenwich Avenue, across from
Jefferson Market Garden, she grabbed his arm, pulled him close
they kissed in front of Village 1, parting the shoppers like a boulder in a river
then, laughing, they danced out of sight down the avenue

17 December 2013
State College, PA

/ / /

The title of this poem comes from something written by Avital N. Nathman, whom you should be following on Twitter and at her website.

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