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Category: Poem-A-Day 2013

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

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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

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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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