Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cosmic Hump Day

Cleaning Out the Attic

It's the cosmic hump day, the sun's spike,
The midpoint. Quarter and cross-quarter
Days slice the sky into a pie. I can't let this
Day pass without thinking of Daisy:
Do you always watch for the longest day
Of the year, and then miss it? We almost missed
The window for spring cleaning.
But it's not too late to get a fresh start.

We keep moving our shards and scraps
From one side of the divide to the other,
Kidding ourselves that we'll sort it out
Someday, but today there's light enough--
Let's take it all out and get a good look.
Sigh. For the rest, it's all berries and gingham,
While we work, our hands accruing
Dust and spores. Fans fruitlessly
Push waves of humidity around the room.
I kneel before you in this inherited kingdom
Of mosquitoes and mold. Old letters, ragged bits
Torn from old notebooks. Water-painted photos.
Full baskets, empty suitcases.
There might be something here.
Something we can use.
Even when the room goes dark, I stab
My finger at the square of light that remains.
Love's amateur archeologists, that's us.

But in that fragment of a moment
Comes release. Let's wash our hands.
All we need to to carry us
Until the longest night is all
We see in each other's eyes.
Let's go to bed now.

We long for a holiday, a walk in the sand,
But in the peace of escape, you find still
Tugging at your ankle, a string of seaweed
Charmed with rattling coquinas.
Pull it loose and let it go.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bubble, Bubble, Barney Rubble

I've been telling people this for years. Demographics are not dollars. If newspapers, which used to provide something of value and still do occasionally, can't find a way to "monetize," how could social media possibly do it? LinkedIn is a ghost site making a cash grab. Groupon should have sold out when it had the chance. Now there are scads of imitators, and Groupon's only strategies are to divide into areas of concentration and/or go microlocal and/or buy up the others, all of which will cost more than they have, even with a vastly overvalued ipo. Or they could hang out and wait for the competition to myspace. That's "myspace" as a verb. I would have said "betamax," but you're too young to get that, I bet.

Actually, hidden in that linked story is an excellent look at why advertising too is dying. Only a few rich people have anything left to spend, and it doesn't take too many people or much imagination to pitch to them. Most of the advertising I get paid to write is pitching the federal government, who's a rich guy no matter what he says.

Sorry, sometimes I have the illusion I'm still in business. I'm fascinated by what the world values and doesn't, and how it assigns these values. Because nearly everything I value has no value to the world. Like right now, I should be writing for pay but Ima write a poem. And speaking of young folks.

Bikram at 50
Beware, young women, beware. I dare
To place my mat square in the front of the room.
Every pop of my knees and hips reports
Like a shot in the dead of night. I am your
Gray and sweaty wake-up call, girls.
I come from an abundant, careless time,
A time before we knew that none of it was good for us.
Weak weed, full bush, lead, white bread
In the balloon-festooned plastic bag.
Bowl after bowl of eight essential vitamins.
Sucked dry by Count Chocula in the heavy metal parking lot.
And look where it got me. A pretty young thing
Orders me: "Down, dog," and I obey.
I am the memento mori among your still life
Of flowers, ripe fruit, shimmering, freshly opened
Oysters. What a spread those old masters
Used to lay out, didn't they? They knew how to live.
But there, in the middle, they'd place
The grinning skull--skulls are forever
Grinning in bad writing, aren't they?
You smile at me and tell me:
"Keep it up. You're doing great."
I grin back at you.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"This One's From The Hip"

Usually I come back from my special camping trip with short, simple, amusing poems. And lots of em. This time, I get long, drama-laden, prosy stuff. And thank the gods there are not lots of em.

The Great Celebration
When the world failed to end
On the day the preacher said it would,
The day went down in the books
As "The Great Disappointment."
Here's my proof, as if more were needed,
Of how much we humans fear being alive.
Better the devil we know, we say,
Than the angel we may never meet.
Living means not knowing
The appointed hour, and so much can happen
To hurt a soul in an hour.
How often, maddened in love, have I said:
I could die now.
Beneath that pure lotus of acceptance
Spreads a swampland where an
Alligator swims. I'll name him "Wish."
Take me home now, before the party dissolves
Into cigarette butts and muddy footprints.

A year and three nights
Of drums and frogs and
Our sweat fusing our skin.
It's summertime, and the living is easier
When you don't always get what you want.
You can be certain of me now:
As certain as you were that you would die young,
As certain as you were that you would always be alone,
As certain as you were that the world would end.

For Those Who Won't Take Their Medicine
What I wouldn't give
To give that man a handful
Of something--god knows what
He could use. I'd find something.
I'd take what he gives me, and then--
The direct route. A bungee jump, they tell me,
Into the abyss and out again.
A lifetime of digging done
In a puff of smoke. Take this,
And you will push through
Fifty years of pain,
Just like that.

But the man with the medicine
Won't look my way. And that's okay.
Because it's my way, the hard way.
At the end of the day, my legs trembling,
I sit at the table and struggle to scoop
A small mound of rice with my broken hands.
Damage strengthens muscles.
I train my hands so they will be strong enough
To dig myself out of my grave.

The world conspires against
My ease. I won't be allowed
Pillows and stroking and tea and friends.
These are things others are offered freely
But I can't even bargain for.
The arm, extended in welcome or comfort,
Will not find my shoulder.
If I crumble, not one of you
Will pick up a single piece.
I've always known this in my bones.
My only medicine is the breath of the trees,
Harvested by my own hours spent running, running.
Each journey I make alone.
Each day, I will have to sweat,
And plant seeds, and wait for them
To sprout. Many of them die.