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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Carmela

I ran home from night school
                Where I ate pencils for hours
To lock my door and watch Carmela
                I broke into a sweat on my neck
Slobbered like an ogre to pass
                My driver’s test

And I never graduated,
                Never went naked in a graduate robe
With the toenails she painted pink
Instead I rode
my bicycles in many Italian races              
                Only to watch Carmela give her face
To a thousand other faces

Vulgarities are red in a mouth—the raised red glass
                A kiss sealed together with rubber
                A kiss from a stranger
will get a raise
While you wait for the love you can light with matches
Love you can’t know from praise.

And I wait for another race to put me down
                Not ever knowing the first one’s fate
                And I race Carmela in my mind
And carry her cross from time to time
No matter how many years she’s late.

–begun 1991, finished 2021

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Peace

You put the juice on the table

You put the spoon deep

In the soup

You watch a sun that’s been angry all day

Put its anger to bed,

In the purple sea.

Peace:

It’s a different kind of struggle

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Rebecca

You say it’s more than a rose

Four thousand years ago

They pierced your nose

You were ready to marry

That’s how the Bible story goes

 

And now the father Abe

Don’t know what to do

The bride’s got a nose ring

And also a tattoo

 

The dreams of the fathers

No longer within

The values they taught

Just a picture on skin

 

A memory for those

Whose values will never win

 

The minute you met her

On the gypsum colored street

You’d lost favor in gold

Lost the flavor in meat

 

You saw she had a ring

And you know he had one too

The father loves your woman, son

But he gave her to you

 

To pass his ideals

to his blood in the sand

And then far away he flies

Not knowing where they land

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You hold up the window to capture sky
You hold it to capture blue
It’s somebody else’s morning there
And it’s getting ahead of you

The night still moans her labor
As she put in her e-string
Her menopause is moody
And her bones are brittle things

And her calories she’s counting
And she does another plank
And the morning is a picture
That you keep inside a tank

And you’re going to finish that novel
But the words just won’t come out
It’s about a boxer who’s beaten
They knocked his molars out

And you could either take the stimulants
Or hear that country song
You know when you take either
That you’ll feel just how you want before long

She said when the old song touched her heart
She felt again like a child
And it made me smile to set her free
And see her feet turn wild

Cause the purest love I can think of:
When we set each other free
And each of us ask the hardest question:
“Will I ever come back to me?”

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Caffeine Headache

My head and pencil neck

                Hang longingly over the

                Syringe-like highway dividing lines

Speeding past; morphine

                Nightmares; an ominous windshield

 

I’ve been wearing black

                Socks in the morning

                The coffee I cuddled

In my tonsils

Gropes around

                Like the failure of alcohol

 

I’m going on furlough up north

Up away from pedestrians

                And pederasts,

Just above the street corner

                Cymbal music, a cut

                Above the freon suffocation

 

To the fake pastoral fields

                Away from my siblings

                Away from the church

To the fake pastoral fences

In a car with a passenger

                I don’t know

                Away to anywhere

 

I took the white hot pills

To ensure that before I reached

My destination I would not fall

Asleep on the road, killing us both

 

But this time they made

                Me ache; as my foot

                Dips into the combustion

 

I squeeze my eyes

                I’m awake and more in pain

                And acutely aware

That I’m as fragile as glass.

 

–Eric Rasmussen, 1990

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Anniversary

We didn’t have a dinner out
The plague would not hear of it
I couldn’t buy her a nice new gown
She’d have no place to wear it

She wouldn’t want a special cake
It would make way too much of her
My offer of a walk she wouldn’t take
Cause getting out the door was a bother

She didn’t need a night at the play
It’s dangerous to sit in the rows
She didn’t need a day at the spa
Or to see a jar with a dozen or one rose

She didn’t need an anniversary
With all the gestures such as these
Cause most of what we share is all right there
Each happily seeing what the other sees

And ten months together we’re locked away
With more laughs than shouts in between
We both know we chose right on a long ago day
And are loving our year seventeen

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Taste

She said she liked my song

But not the tasteless arrangement

My melodies are like pigs, she said

And roll in muddy firmament

 

And her dark eyes had kohl and looked wet in the room

Here she knew she could judge me

Knew her look meant my doom

 

Looking for a flat or a word out of place

She could cut me and see the pain on my face

 

My whittling thirds and a seventh out of time

I cut it too quickly like the green off a lime

 

She knew how it hurt to squeeze some flavor from truth

Still she shot down my song

Called it tasteless, uncouth

 

Then she asked me for dope money

And I gave her a ten

Till next time she cuts me

When we do this again

 

And as she left me alone

So her arm could seize joy

I’m here tasteless in waiting

For those with taste to destroy

 

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She Said I

She said I’m as alienated from my own singing voice

As I am from the ships that cross the narrows

Same as when my looks turn like gravity into male gazes

And they bash each other like black beard sparrows

 

This is nothing I contrive or plan on a hot street

God having made me what I am

And when I hear my own voice in a tape or a phone

I do not know that person any more than a staticky voice on a radio

 

And when I turn and see my blonde red reflection

And try to plumb the depths of the maker

Who is it really that made up that face,

That I had nothing to do with, nor the sexual race

 

The proceeds of knowing come when I walk or turn out the light

I don’t know how many arguments I’ve sparked or fights

Cause when I hear my own voice in a phone

I’m afraid of it, that other thing, that I come to know when I’m alone

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If I were a child and you were the sea

I’d find a place for my ankles in you

And my hands and my curiosity

And you would rise up

With warm and sandy love

Rise up to my knees and then rise above

And I would find depth

For my shoulders and chest

And my neck and my mouth and my teeth and the rest

And when I knew you were faithfully cold

I’d give you my heat while the water takes hold

The ocean’s chilling black and the vast shipping lanes

Cut for all ships, squids, roaring seaplanes

I give to the sea all my hair and my hips

Give love in more ways than through just two soft lips

And you don’t have to cry for all the things we now share

Love in its ocean, joys, blood, toil, despair

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Scopes

When my friend had

His first child, he said

“Now I believe in God!”

“How can you not

believe

When you first look

Into his eyes

Upon the miracle of his life?

The miracle

That is your baby?

“How can you not believe?”

 

When I had my child

And I watched him crawl

Watched him stoop and learn to walk,

When I saw my son bend his knees

And hunch over

To pick up his first apple

I thought,

“Holy Christ!

“We’re fucking apes!”

 

 

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