* * *
READING BETWEEN THE LIONS
Stopped in my tracks
yellow circles coming into flower,
white spheres going into seed—
I start to track
the over-long overlooked;
that missing phase between.
Well, Mr. Omnipotent,
I hope you’ve enjoyed
your little game.
About what to believe,
about how to behave—
you’ve stumped me.
I give up.
You know the kind:
immersed in passions
at which they flounder.
Life and livelihood get sucked in.
Do they mind?
Nah—happy as clams.
Not fallen petals
carpeting the orchard,
mirroring pink above with pink below,
but branches pruned at winter’s end—
they flower now in final tandem
with former fellows
reprieved short weeks ago.
Do you want the left world
or the right? the up or down?
the dark or light?
Take whichever pleases you.
I don’t want to fight.
Book or pen,
pen or book?
How hard my life, if I forsook
book or pen, pen or book.
By the time I raced outdoors
the bird was in the jaws of the cat,
who released it to me on request—
The long beak,
knocked sideways into the chest
by force of impact,
was plastered with breast feathers.
The breast muscle had been split.
The body was limp and lifeless
except for one eyelid blinking,
one eye roving.
now that the body, recovered, has flown,
where does the eye rove;
and, over what, the mind?
ONE IOTA FOR MY QUOTA
dandelion bouquet is three-
fifths faded, my day is four-
and I am more.
One thing left: this poem chore.
You can know too much.
At least I can know too much.
Knowing, for instance,
that the least-used restroom stall
is nearest or farthest from the restroom door,
I stop, in spite of urgency, to consider:
which stall do I actually use most often?
Which least? Which did I use last time?
Do I want variety,
so as not to fall into habitual ruts?
Why—if I choose number one this time—
do I do that? am I afraid of something about
numbers two, three, four…?
But let me assure you—
considering my total life experience,
I conclude quickly and accurately about one thing:
any women's stall is more likely to be clean
than any men’s.
BOOK-COVER DESIGN ADVICE (for Cathi)
How much to kern is a matter of concern.
Visual vibration causes consternation.
Fonts should be few; in fact, two will do.
Zap all-caps QUICK in italic or script.
Let images illustrate (not negate or duplicate).
Avoid cliches, plus clip-art way out-of-date,
plus fonts too overused and tame.
Don't use your title as a frame.
[ASIDE: Commenting on a fellow writer's website.]
Raven roved, on the road
from Pittsburgh to Poughkeepsie.
Every time he went away,
that gypsy came back tipsy.
Elephant, his stay-at-home,
was plump from trunk to rump.
She never would be svelte;
at least that's how she felt.
[ASIDE: Wisdom House Books - Challenge:
use the words trunk, svelte, raven, gypsy]
Tempted by a spray of golden forsythia
cascading over a country dirt-road fence,
I draw near, only to find the outermost stems
already snipped off and a cluster of
deer prints in the mud below.
ALL THINGS OLD
MADE NEW AGAIN
Ah, the beauty of the world;
the bounty of our lives!
But Oh—first glimpse, first touch,
first whiff—the beauty of surprise!
at thrift store;
shopping specials only
less is more
in lap of luxury;
then luxury stood up
In dreams or visions,
what does mind's-eye know?
And does it see things plane
or in stereo?
HER OWN SELF (for Annette)
Frida wore a nose and mouth;
that is how God made her.
Frida wore a unibrow;
no one could dissuade her.
* * *