Tag Archives: National Novel Writing Month

#368: It’s Friday

It’s Friday
at the end
of the second
weirdest teaching
week in history
and I’m not
going to write
a poem about
a piece of fruit.
In my resistance
to writing about
fruit, in addition
to a number
of diversions
today, I almost
neglected to write
a poem at all.
My impulse
today was to make
music, and I
fumbled my way
through that and
had some fun and
almost wrote a song.
That felt good.
Almost writing
a song today
felt better than
almost teaching
a class, which I
was a great distance
from doing,
and this, almost
writing a poem
about not wanting
to write a poem
about fruit–
that feels pretty
good too.



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#166: A Couple of Clerihews

Warren/Nietzsche 2016!

Warren/Nietzsche 2016Nietzsche1882

Senator Elizabeth Warren–
she won’t allow any snorin’
but neither will she give us our fun;
she refuses over and over to run.

Friedrich Nietzsche
could not be seen with a pee-chee;
a notebook guy, clearly it’s true–
how else could he pen Zarathu

Michael Jarmer
has become quite the verse farmer,
but attempting some Clerihew fun
exclaims, Oh, my, that sure was dumb.

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#159: Listening, Drinking, Watching


(a landay/ghazal hybrid)

Last night–I stay up late listening:
new records spin in the dark and there’s bourbon to sip.

A police car pulls in across the street,
lights ablaze, I leave my headphones on and watch.

I cannot tell what is happening
but there is no indication of violence here

so I continue listening, watching
as the police car drives off, take a sip of bourbon.

Cheers to safe neighborhoods, an illusion
I sometimes allow myself to believe here in the dark.

I feel safe, listening, drinking, watching;
new records spin in the dark and there’s bourbon to sip.

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#158: Shopping for Records on the Anniversary of Paul Revere’s Ride

IMG_2392 IMG_2393

On the 240th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride,
I ride to Music Millennium for Record Store Day.
I wait in line for an hour to get inside
and while I wait I see a former student
of mine whose friend (just along for the journey)
is offered $100 by some dude with an ankle
injury to give up his spot in line.
I give $1, the last dollar bill in my wallet,
to a sad sad man who says he needs
bus fare. And speaking of busses, while we
all wait in line a bus pulls up
with a live band inside–and they do a set
inside this bus with the doors open so
people can hear, a three piece, I think.
There’s a drummer in the bus,
a guitar player who sings, and a bass player
who performs the set sitting on the floor
of the bus with his legs dangling out
the open doors. And the whole time the
bus is idling, you know, because that’s how
they are powering their amps.  They’re
pretty good but the exhaust fumes are
getting to me and I’m pretty happy as I
move farther up the sidewalk and closer
to the storefront doors and away from
the exhaust fumes.  Eventually, all
of us pilgrims are herded inside the store
and along a queue where all of the special
Record Store Day exclusive releases
are on display.  Each person takes his turn
flipping through the stacks in alphabetical
order and the line moves at a snail’s pace
while the rest of the store where one
would do his or her regular music shopping
seems relatively clear of crowd, nearly empty.
We all waited in line for an hour to wait in a line.
I love being here and doing this, one of the few
truly consumeristic pleasures I have, even
though I am underwhelmed by the offerings,
end up choosing only one Record Store Day
special release, a clear orange vinyl pressing
of “Do the Collapse” by Guided By Voices.
Everything else I bring home with me I could
have found on any other day at practically
any old time without having to wait in line
for an hour. New Death Cab, new Sufjan,
an old record sorely missing from my collection,
“Dirt” by Alice in Chains. No matter, I’m still
pretty pleased with myself, having had an
experience, an outing, a very public few hours
of solitude, doing the thing that since childhood
has been one of my very favorite things to do
in the world: shopping for records.

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#157: A Spectacular Cat Gif


Pretend, for a moment, this poem
is a spectacular cat gif, and you like it.
You like it very much. You like
your liking it, and you share or reblog,
perhaps you’ll even tweet, instagram, or vine;
you’ll repost in every imaginable
format and your friends will follow
and follow, like and like,
to the extent that this
spectacular cat gif, which is not
really a spectacular cat gif,
but a poem, will go
absofuckinglutely viral. This will
all be very good for me and my cat,
who co-writes most of my poetry,
as we will instantly be known
as the greatest (in this moment)
producers of poems disguised
as spectacular cat gifs
on the entire world wide web.
Some will say that we have
broken the internet and that
will also be good for me and my cat.
It has been our design all along.
Finally, we will have our dominion
over the very short attention spans
of internet users far and wide
and our poems disguised as
spectacular cat gifs will become
the stuff of legend for as long
as it takes to view a single cycle of this
spectacular gif.

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#155: The Poet Addresses His Poem in Crayon on a Napkin at a Restaurant

Poem on Napkin

why the
are you written on
this napkin? You think
you can just show up any old
place? Have you no self-respect?
What will people say,
your lines and stanzas
just hanging out like
this in the open
air? You’re

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#153: My Son Loves Cows

fish eye shot of cow 455010

My Son Loves Cows

He used to love hamburgers,
but now he loves cows
and is experiencing his first
serious moral dilemma
in his 9 years on Earth.
The last time we fired up the grill
he wept through the whole meal.
You don’t have to eat it, son;
on this occasion we WILL make
you something else. But he insisted
through the tears on finishing
that burger; so delicious
and so terrible.

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#150: Sick Dog (an Abecedarian)


At 3 in the morning, no
Barking, but an old dog fails the attempt to
Climb the stairs,
Drops back down:
Early, the dog is sick.
Fuck. Shit everywhere,
God awful stench,
Holding back my own retching,
In every room of the main floor, I’m
Juggling paper towels, disinfectant,
Kitchen linoleum scrub,
Livid, trying not to hate my dog.
My god,
Not good,
Old dog,
Poor thing. Finally, I
Quit cursing,
Remove the carpet in the
Study, drag it outside in
The morning dark for daylight hosing or disposal. It’s
Unlikely to be salvaged, like this night’s rest, a
Veritable trainwreck. Nevertheless,
We love our animals, and will do this lamentable duty, ine-
Xorably, until the very end of their days,
You know, because there is no other option.


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#147: Ode to Ears


Ode to Ears

They say
you only
something once
you’ve lost it.
I didn’t lose
my ears, literally,
but rather, the
use of them.
some glob of
wax lodged
itself deep inside
my ears, I have
been dizzy deaf
now for several days.
A horrible experience,
but worth it: the doctor
reaches in there
with a stick and
grabs a glob,
then the nurse
comes in with the
ear canal fire hose
and it feels like
the water will
go in on one end,
travel through the
brain, and squirt
out the other side.
It’s hideous, but now

I can hear.

Ears, nothing
escapes you now,
even the contacts
under each key on
the keyboard, the
sibilance of wind,
rustling leaves
disturbed by ant
crossing: I hear that
shit now and I am
so grateful for ears.
I’m just walking
around the house
listening to things,
running water,
the turn of a door
knob, the dog’s
belabored breath.

I want to sit down
right this minute
and listen to music
and hear each
vibration under the bow,
the wow and flutter,
the buzz of the roll,
each syllable, no,
each individual letter
of each word.
Ears, nothing’s
stopping you now
from hearing every
thing in your path.
You go.
I’m right behind you.


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#146: Ode to Pablo Neruda’s Odes


Ode to Pablo Neruda’s Odes

The socks,
the book,
the storm,
the fallen chestnut,
the watch,
the tomato,
Pablo’s odes are
tropical fish in a tank,
darting back and forth,
reaching for sky,
coming up for air,
going down deep
for sunken treasure, the
nourishment of the mundane.
When the ordinary gets
the special treatment
and seems to deserve
every bit of it,
there is nothing
unworthy of praise;
no stone, pebble,
clod, or mote
is undeserving.

O, Pablo’s odes,
teach me how to do that.
I want the tank of my poetry,
the record of the day to day,
to be that lively, that swimming,
that vivid, coming up for air
and digging deep,
turning what is often overlooked
or ignored into something
reverential, monumental,
as vast as the ocean is wide,
commensurate to prayer, song, or
the dance of a thousand enchanted drummers.

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