So I Keep On Writing

Mary Oliver writes of
flowers and she does it
very well, as I just stare
at words, wishing that
goldenrod could mean

as much to me, stuck in
this urban world, nature
on the fringe, everything
I cannot see, because in
the car I move too fast

to even smell the air,
but excuses will never
win, nor are they really
true, so I keep on writing,
this much I know to do

Typewriter’s Last Words

Please don’t leave me now
that you’ve seen the future.

My ink is real and you can touch
my paper with your hand holding

words, the ones pressed by my metal.
Permanent black rune, my tattooed

sentences offer so much more than
the screen, where mistakes disappear.

Delete, delete, delete-so easy to
forget all the missteps and time taken

to roll sheet after sheet. But each
letter, each tap, was your imprinted

mind. Go to the computer, but this
crumpled beauty, you will never find.

My Favorite Dream

My favorite dream was when I flew,
as bird or angel, ethereal, I never saw

halo or feathers, or looked at myself in
a mirror, only knew that I could soar high

up in clouds, skim over fields or shingled
rooftops, able to control all this grace.

So I floated back to Taylor Elementary,
hovered by a window, staring at kids writing

in their 6th grade classroom, when I saw him,
a boy I recognized, holding a #2 pencil,

tongue slightly out, concentrating, filling
up notebook lines. I watched for a long while,

then realized he was me.

Jedi Knight

I never used to think I could
become a Jedi Knight,

that Yoda even existed on
a screen was unfathomable,

small hero with big ears,
fierce teeth, and what was

the force anyway? But that
was before I learned George Lucas

was Buddhist Methodist, the way
we all are something inside,

waiting to be revealed, like
Plato’s Cave said, and here

I am on a Friday night writing,
a quiet Sabbath, blue ink

lightsaber in my hand.

Making Sense of Time Passing

Usually the plan is to
read and read and read

the poems of others, until
something strikes my imagination.

This often works, sometimes it is
just a word, like pulsating or

scramble, a pathway to completely
forget that my shoelaces are tied or

that these fingers belong to me.
Lost in the moment, obvious and

unpoetic, then again, also true.
That really so much writing is just

abstract painting, adding color,
a swirl, skip a line, then do it again,

and again, until the crickets outside
sound like laptop keys, and nothing

is lost, not these seconds, not the
clear air of night, not my quiet mind

making sense of time passing,
time passing.

Stand by Me

We wanted to follow
railroad tracks and sleep
under stars, maybe cook
up hot dogs without
a strict parent seeing
us wipe the grease
on our jeans. This
was 1986 when Polo
shirts were everything, not
following dreams or watching
morning deer, or thinking
about writing, or what
friendship could mean. But
Stand by Me let
in a little light
so we could remember
who we really are.

He Pretends To Be A Poet

He pretends to be a poet, but does he even like poetry?
Sawgrass shallows, dark forests and trellises, the
language of description, erudition, evoked through so
much longing to be heard, to be read. But what does

it mean? Instead, he writes about what he knows,
which most nights seems like not a lot, sometimes silence
or that most mundane of all arts, parenting, being a dad,
or he reads half pages of zen books while munching on

frozen blueberries, while trying to remember the pickup time
for ballet. No, he doesn’t live in Paris or London, or
New York, although San Francisco is a writerly city, that frigid
foggy place where he was once young, and a real poet

in his studio apartment with Chinese takeout night after night,
the J Church train rumbling, urban soundtrack mixed with
Sonny Rollins, oh yes, he was cool, back in the day, but now
he sits in the kitchen, barefoot, wondering where his socks are.

Modern Homework

Sitting with my daughter and her iPad, we
fill in boxes that pose questions about
Greek Civilization. Art = statues, writing=
Plato, upper classes made laws, were
citizens, slaves did what they were told to
do. Box after box on the screen, covering
500 BC to 146 BC, until Rome conquers
Athens. Less than memorization, we cut and
paste words from other screens into hers. I
imagine Socrates in the agora, watching us,
wondering what happened, how we stopped
interrogating the machine, our flesh fingers,
puppets, moved to reduce everything to this.

4 Words In A Line

hard not to smile
when thinking that this
is one of my
favorite things in life

to put four words
on line after line
free to do this
when dishes are done

and the kids are
in bed, and no
one is speaking, not
even the incessant TV

can reach me now
for here it is
just one word, then
the next, neatly placed

like scrabble or a
crossword puzzle, or some
other kind of activity
where concentration is everything

anyway, this is mine
this little moment here
inside my brain’s imagination
where anything is possible