O Death (new poem)

BOO! Here’s a little something for Halloween.

O Death

O Death you lurk these sterile halls
I hear you whisper through the walls
So patient though
Because you know
One day you come to claim us all

I’ve spent time in hospitals
Heard the doctors’ coded calls
Seen them fight
Against your might
The best they’ll ever do is stall.

Your favorite friend is pestilence
The virus we’ve no proof against
Loosed on us
Airborne like dust
Infecting all the populace.

O Death I’ve seen the sick and frail
Crossing themselves to no avail
Are you God’s tool?
Did you kill Him too?
Is that why all these prayers fail?

I wonder if you even hear
The fevered pleas from those who fear
Your soft approach
The words unbroached
What’s left unsaid as you draw near.

The rooms you passed are darkened still
Though sunlight warms the windowsill
Where tears are cried
And never dried
And you don’t care and never will.

And others you refused to take
Lives trapped in a broken state
Minds undone
Another one
Suffering a helpless fate.

O Death you call men out to war
You tell them how much we adore
A soldier’s death
The last honor left
The only death worth living for.

But when pieces of their bodies lie
Scattered about them you deny
The last request
You could bequest
You will not simply let them die.

I wonder if you like your work
When I see your duties shirked
Do you feel glee
In agony
Or is pain your job’s only perk?

O Death you play a wretched game
You linger just outside of frame
So we forget
Because you let
Us think you have forgot our names.

But no, you linger chafing close
You’ve nodded to me each of those
Times I fell
Or was unwell
But those were not the time you chose.

So I have waited out your flu
I know what modern weapons do
I won’t be fooled
By your ruse
I won’t be led astray by you.

I’m sure those words you’ve heard before
I’m sure my pledge will be ignored
It’s your life in fact
you’ll take it back.
I wonder what you’re waiting for.

For I know time is on your side
You need simply to abide
As all my years
Add to my fears
That soon my heartbeat will subside

O Death I know you long to see
The last breath taken out of me
You mock my rage
Against my age
And tease me with longevity

I met you once, if you’ll recall
In a pool when I was small
Panic when
Drowning then
I was pulled back to tiled wall.

But I think I have always known
I’ll lose my life to undertow
Swept out to sea
Where you’ll claim me
Because that’s how I fear I’ll go.

But somehow I can’t stay away
From the rolling of the waves
And that’s why
it’s how I’ll die
But then I have to die someday.

Here’s something…

To state the obvious, I have not done a whole bunch of posting lately. But there are big things happening in the poetry world involving yours truly.

First, I am going to be in a big poetry show at the Charleston Music Hall on August 14th. This show will feature Derek Berry, Matthew Foley, and the lovely and talented Marcus Amaker. I’m not one of the featured poets, but they’re giving me a whole 10-minute set. So get yourself a ticket and come see me perform.

But perhaps a 10-minute performance is too ephemeral for you. Perhaps you need something permanent you can hold in your hand, Well, my second piece of news is for you. I am humbled to learn that one of my poems has been accepted for publication in the next issue of Kakalak.  There’s lots of wonderful poets and visual artists keeping me company in those pages, so do yourself a favor and order your copy today.

Now that the goal of being published by someone other than me has been achieved, that means I can quit submitting stuff, right?

Two post-LEAF Limericks

Here are two limericks inspired by the contra dancing this past weekend at LEAF.

Limerick 131

We danced in a room full of dust
Teeming with sweat and hoping for just
That one perfect swing
To melt everything
To a puddle of soothed wanderlust.

Limerick 132

I return to my waiting work world
Climbing the stairs with my fists now uncurled
Dreams of long lines
Filling my mind
Where the weekend at LEAF still swirls.

Limerick 71

This is from yesterday, and I think the last line needs some massage yet, but I really like the first two lines. Critique away…

I woke to steady rainfall falling
On balustrades and on the awnings
And though it’s still warm
I know I’ve been warned
A harbinger of cold cold-calling.

One weird trick to fill your days with haiku

Sales of The Haiku Project have been pretty slow. A large part of this, I’m sure, is because I basically suck at doing commerce. But this blog is all about learning and improving, so let’s call this brief missive what it is: an ad unconvincingly disguised as a blog post. Click that link up there and find out what so many folks should be talking about!

In other news, the Limerick Rehabilitation Project is proceeding apace. The thing is that I’ve been writing them all in my trusty notebook, and I have not been making the time to transcribe them into any electronic format with which they can be shared. (And since no one can read my handwriting, I can’t share that either.) It’s not that I don’t want to share, it’s that I spend so much time in front of a computer every day that when I have actual free time, a computer is the last thing I want in my hands. Every now and then, however, I’ll slip one in on Facebook or something.

Oh, and one more thing: I have a secret project I’ve started that is still too new and fragile for details to spill out. But it’s exciting. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

You Asked For It

Several of you Luddites out there have asked me about hard copies of Tango Girls. Since I had an evening free due to weather-related panic (seriously, y’all?) I went ahead and reformatted it for CreateSpace. It’s in the review process now, and should be available probably next week sometime. I shall be in touch.

In the meantime, here is one of my efforts from the Limerick Rehabilitation Project:

As I ran down the wind-soaked beach
Pondering the weight of my feet
How far to go
To reach my goal
As I ran down the wind-soaked beach.

Talk to you soon.

Project Update

One of the things that I learned from the Haiku Project that I’ve carried over to the Limerick Rehabilitation Project is that even though I am writing these things every day, I am not going to make any attempt to post them all. That is not because they are some big secret, or that I don’t want you to read/hear them. Rather,  it’s a huge pain in the ass to keep the blog up to date with them. Just like with the haiku, I write these in a little notebook, and eventually transcribe them into an electronic format. If I was then going to post them to the blog I’d end up posting like 40 or 50 at a time, and with the way my social medias are all connected now I’d be flooding everyone’s news feeds and just being annoying for all concerned.

Instead, every now and then, I’ll post one just to give you any idea of where I’m going with this. Today being either a now or a then, here’s a limerick:

The voice of Google Navigation
Has a strange habit of inflection
The way she says to-
ward with stress on “to”
As if “to” was the destination.

Feel free to be judgy in the comments.

What’s New for 2014

I am sure that many of you are wondering, in the wake of the smashing success of The Haiku Project, what I have planned for 2014.

Well, I pondered it and pondered it.  I really enjoy the idea of writing self-contained pieces every day. At the same time I need to be realistic about my schedule: much as I might like to I simply don’t have enough time to write a 30-line poem or short story every day. So, a short poetry form seemed best, but I didn’t want to do haiku again because I’d already done that.

Hence my project for 2014: every day, I will write at least one limerick.

Now, limericks have a deservedly bad reputation for being low and generally vulgar. I want to explore what else this form can hold, so my limericks will adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Must be five lines, with a strict rhyme scheme: AABBA (although AAAAA works too).
  • The line lengths (in syllables) can vary, but should be constant within the limerick. So, lines 1,2, and 3 should all be the same length, with lines 4&5 shorter but the same as each other. For example a common scheme is 9 syllables for lines 1,2, and 5, with lines 4 and 5 being just 6 syllables.
  • A limerick should have an iambic meter.
  • Nothing dirty (the occasional swear word notwithstanding).

None of this is to say that the limericks can’t be funny. If that happens naturally as I write them, that is just fine and dandy. But humor isn’t really the goal for me; this is an exploration and practice of meter and rhyme, with the stretch goal being no less than the revitalization of this ancient poetry form.

I’m calling it the Limerick Rehabilitation Project.