Howl

- 1949-

a refrigerator
makes a lot
of sound
so does a bird
people are
always talking
full of love
& pain
we started
a fund
and the dogs 
are needing
some money &
I don’t know
how to do
it & I’ll
learn from
one of them
Tom’s blue
shirt & glasses
are perfect.
My teeshirt
is good
my pen
works
I breathe.

Fifty-Three

I've already had a lot of them
I'm looking at a tree
full of tiny balls
California trees are different
thin eucalyptus more blades than
leaves not hitting
my face
it's a country of tiny leaves

no leaves

simply balls
I desire a big book about
this not better
than them but
their friend.
Who doesn't love the text?
a book about trees
it's like a park
except that all its windows
face outside
you look up at the world &
go: oh

a book is
a web I suppose

saying you come
here to go
out an
incessant
trembling bridge
which a tree
is
I imagine
a tree
my best friend
& I love
you on one
of so many birthdays

Joan (audio only)

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

Choke

Of all the ways of forgetting
not turning the pilot on is not
                             the worst

The house is intact
you are floating
in time
buckets of it streaming through
                  the windows

youth turned it up I think
or on & fell asleep

Remembering to do.
You are too intact
the dappled sunlight on the lawn
or pots of darkness
like salt instead of depths

Still once I turned it up
the popping commenced
like applause for the present
tense
the site of my sway

Larry's new car is wide & safe
a woman's voice conducts
us left & right
she's crazy he laughs
again & again

my shrink said buy it now
about the car

I told him about my phenomenal streak
of winning & when the stakes 
rose I began to bid low & 
not at all
I could have won; you choked
he said.

Woof. To not choke
is I suppose to experience
to hold it in & go forth
though you need the heat

The sun had not done more
suddenly for a while

it's like we took off our skin
and said it is hot.
It's like we sold our skin
& said where did everyone go?

when the weather's too hot for comfort
& we can't have ice-cream cones
it ain't no sin
to take off your skin
& dance around in your bones

Related Poems

So Be It

If the neighbor’s roof is a shamble of broken tiles, so be it.

If those tiles sit there for weeks. If no one does a thing about them.

If the sky is gray day after day and then snow falls and the tiles turn into
fragments of a broken alphabet traced in snow, clinging.

Darkness, then dawn.

If beauty, as hoped for; if death as promised.

There is no reason not to say it: the woman with her head bent, reading, is
beautiful.

The train rocks beneath her, but she mostly sits in stillness.

A slight trembling of the page betrays the truth of things.

Meanwhile, a window above her bent head. A river and a bridge, a sky
darkening just beyond the window.

The bridge and the sky, the slight blue of a river: a world beautiful beyond
our understanding.

No reason not to say it: the woman will look up from her book, from the calm
page, from the story not her own.

In due course will suffer before she dies.

The small blue relief of the river is a darkening song without end.

from Bharat jiva [I can not begin to know]

I can not begin to know
producing difference by deferring
second third person construction
in the first third person narrative
promising surrender to the dead
acknowledging, I am an unknown participant
something maybe, something blind
consuming scarcity
producing hunger
constructing gender
breathing markers
making someone a thing
scapegoat instance
another perfect occasion
construct of a common sense sentence
out of many different bank accounts
apparently to produce
a final outcome
illumination legible
newspaper flyspeck
on the edge of an abstract noun

Sharks' Teeth

Everything contains some
silence. Noise gets
its zest from the
small shark's-tooth-
shaped fragments
of rest angled
in it. An hour
of city holds maybe
a minute of these
remnants of a time
when silence reigned,
compact and dangerous
as a shark. Sometimes
a bit of a tail
or fin can still
be sensed in parks.