Altered Reality

I was going to talk about sleep, dreaming (a favorite topic), and/or virtual reality. The biologically necessary escape from reality, it itself altered reality. But I decided to work with found pieces of prose and poetry and conversation and see what comes of it.


What Comes After

I am not what is obvious
skin, hair, tone of voice
but I have learned to live
with it being on display

on the days when life is most
painful, I am most colourful
a too frequent refrain
but there laughter wells

and tenderness so like rain
on sere land I drop
words, yet they don’t break
I uncover joy in twilight  



Tracy K. Smith, the current U.S. Poet Laureate, often talks about poetry as vehicle to bridge the gap between people. I read a thoughtful interview with her in the Washington Square Review. In it, they asked about the writerly evolution in her work. She said this about her most recent book, Wade in the Water:

“I don’t yet know how to classify Wade in the Water. In part, I think it’s true to say that the selves I’m most committed to in that book are the ones our culture continues to make most vulnerable: women, people of color, the lonely and disenfranchised.  But I truly hope it’s more than that. I often think of a wonderful Marie Howe poem called “The Star Market” which begins: “The people Jesus loved were shopping at the Star Market yesterday.” These are the old, the sick, the people a healthy young person might recoil from. Jesus also loved the foolish, the pushy, the stubborn, the fickle. Maybe I am asking my new poems to remind me that I am one of those people, that America is one of those people.”



The people Jesus loves make their way to work on foot, the dew wilting their shirt collars.
The people Jesus loves plot appointments by the handful of bus schedules fanned out on the cracked surface of their kitchen table.
The people Jesus loves furl their bodies under tarps and discarded plastic, the cold air wetter when their bed is the sidewalk. 
The people Jesus loves shop at Super Choice and Bravo, at Aldi’s and Apna, at Publix and Kroger.

I forget this sometimes in morning traffic when I’m cut off.
I forget this when I curse the dullards driving 25 in a 40 zone.
I forget everything when I watch them, the reckless, slice a sharp diagonal across three lanes.
The knowledge of it is furthest away when the richly dissatisfied complain about nothing
and everything, unhappiness a white skim along their mouth, heart, and mind.

Before resentment strips the good words from my mouth, let me remember the people Jesus loves is us.


I am obsessed with found poems. This one was birthed out of fragments from “Our New Lives” by Helen Coats out of One Teen Story, Issue No. 53 and a quote from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent:

“we are all candle flames, greasy-bright, fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me in a grey wreath of smoke i will vanish into the air and the night.”



go in right now against the surge of emotion
come clean, apologize and ask forgiveness
abandon the thought of invincibility
the conviction of a safe landing

to bless and receive blessing
accept the awful coming footsteps
the blowing out of light into the grey
the greasy-bright fluttering in darkness

Lost Found

I planned to try my hand at a new (for me) poetic form but I suck at time management. So here’s a quick and dirty take on a found poem.


Found Poem

(found fragments from The Sun, May 2014)

in the twelve years since you died
i still remember
the pitch of your whistle
your warnings turned into joke

choose your target wisely
don’t dress like a protester
never date a blond surfer

now i understand the whys
aunt tia told me about him
the college boyfriend named Eric
such menace in a lowered brow

the silences make sense at 40
at 18 it embarrassed me
you always found a reason to eat

you told me i should have children
the most meaningful part of your life
we were    you said

i don’t want children     i have no
plans for old age surprises
i won’t add more life to a world
that already has so many

Terra Incognita

Some years ago, I had an e-mail address–with a provider which is now defunct–that was forever inundated with spam. ( I have the nasty suspicion they sold my address to various and sundry unsavory operators.) I discovered the crooked e-mails contained scraps of random prose. It appealed to my inner poet, so I cribbed snippets of prose from those and other spam.

I figured since I couldn’t block them all, I would at least subvert them into a bit of beauty. Transform them into poetry. Years after I began I stumbled across the term–found poem. A new poetic form!

Silk from a sow’s ear.


Terra Incognita: a found poem

What should I have been without him? Still
I lost him into the silence like a sloping roof,
as if he were a stranger upon earth,
a revelation of human inconsistency.

Underneath burning glass, he looked strong.
There is something I want to tell you, he said.
Trust me no more, but trust me no less,
than you would an inspired heap of sand.