I consider myself an activist as well as a poet, and have long debated whether the twain need meet. I believe in poetry’s power to move people and that we are all products of our time, so even a small detail in a poem might hint at a problem of the day.
For example, say lovers are strolling along a riverbank at night, and some of the moonlight is reflecting off broken bottles and cans. The poem may never stray any further from the couple’s affairs, but that image and the suggestion of...
My poem “The Cheshire Cat Effect” reflects my interest in the intersection of quantum mathematics and poetry. This is an interdisciplinary field that’s really got me excited these days because I feel like there’s a lot of productive thinking to be done about the relationship of the arts and the sciences. And also our culture, whether it’s reflected through the arts, or through psychology or religion, still has barely begun to come to terms with the implications of quantum physics although it...
MOST ACCIDENTS OCCUR AT HOME
Nobody tells you this:
Every day is a creation story.
You’ll make a dome of light over waste and welter
some of the time, then wake one night
on your side of the bed and remember:
There weren’t many happy endings.
First the ripe fruit. Then the way he turned from her,
said it was her idea.
Nobody tells you this will happen again
Ideas for a project beyond survival
A friend says my picture looks like I am throwing a dazzling parade of ideas. I don’t have any ideas for a project beyond survival. This is from a project I am calling Survival. What am I currently working on? I am currently working on not getting sick/fired/overdrafted/divorced. I am currently working on forms and checks, not forgetting fucking milk. I am currently fixing the broken chain-link fence out back. I stand up in front of an audience and...
I do not mean to come off as overly idealistic. I can't feed, clothe, and provide compasses to all of the lost, broke, talented, and up-and-coming writers out there anymore than I can sustain myself. What I can do, however, is talk about submitting to literary journals from an empathetic standpoint, if only because for the last nine months I have done nothing but sit, write, workshop poems in a weekly group, and submit.
The past year has netted some great results. It has also netted...
When the bats tore from our attic through the dilute dusk,
we on the lawn watched them satisfy their summons,
the adults explaining natural radar, a human deafness
we would grow to accept. They rode like the sheets
on our pulleyed laundry line, parallel to the meadow,
lofted by a ditch of wind or my expectation
they drop down to us. This radar, we were told,
was like love, sponsoring naked, eggshelled wills
as they advance into...
When I received the invitation to post on the blog (my first), I’m ashamed to say that my initial reaction was one of horror. I quickly came to see that that reaction had something to do with why I write poetry. For me, poems are like little postcards thrust anonymously through the mail slots of people’s hearts. A little like valentines from a shy secret admirer. When I read a poem I really love, that touches me, I don’t want to know anything about the poet. I don’t want to hear him read. I...
Some poems percolate for decades, waiting to be born. My friend and baritone sax player Rick Countryman tells a story about working in a band that played behind an Elvis impersonator. When I heard this story, Rick and I were sharing a tumbledown house in Seattle that had no heat. In the winter, I’d open the stove and stand in front of it for warmth. This was the beginning of the presidencies of Reagan and then G.H.W Bush. Once I remember watching some African-American kids playing hoops. One...
Seventy years after the ten minute jury deliberation that sent him to the electric chair at age fourteen, George Stinney, Jr., was exonerated of the murders he had been convicted. When I read the story, I was, of course, deeply disturbed. Disturbed by the glaring injustice. Disturbed by the similarity to the circumstances surrounding the recent deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement.
What upset me most, though, was the description of...