Poetry in April -- in celebration
This is my Second Book of poems. I may not have eaten the plums from the icebox, but I am guilty of writing poetry without thinking too much, without laboring over words and lines.
This Is Just to Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
by William Carlos Williams
You, too, forgive me for I only love the writing process; the result is secondary...And please never mind that I am also aping William Carlos Williams's false apology.
From where does the title Beetlebung and Kettlehorn come from?
The name Beetlebung and Kettlehorn has to do with ancient whaling practices and Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod.
During the nineteenth century, because of its dense white wood, the tupelo tree was used in whale oil casks made of copper. Beetle was the mallet made from the Tupelo tree and bung was the stopper in the cask hole. In Martha’s vineyard, the Tupelo tree is still known as the Beetlebung tree, and at Chilmark there, is a Beetlebung Corner, with shops at Chilmark Center, from where roads lead to other interesting points.
Kettlehorn, as well as being an ancient surname, refers to a piece of equipment resembling to but much bigger than a shoe-horn, used to stir the hot blubber and separate the fine oil from the denser particles. Whale oil was a popular commodity and, as a fuel, was used for lighting the dark, burning to provide heat and as an aid in cooking. After the whale was hunted, men in a boat cut strips of blubber from the whale's back, tied them together and rowed ashore. There the fat was cut into smaller pieces to be boiled into oil in large copper kettles.
In addition there exists kettle corn in Cape Cod which are corn chips fried in kettles and sometimes mistakenly called kettlehorns.
For some reason, way back when, the words Beetlebung and Kettlehorn were used together and, at one time or another, were given to shops and other things that go together as titles.
I adopted the name for my on-the-spot poetry in reference to the idea of blubber.
"Poetry the shortest distance between two humans"
|Soaring high, using my tools,
comb and brush, with them I groom,
appliances, with those I mash, smash, cook,
dustpans and brooms, vehicles
rarely used for sweeping,
best yet, laptops that spark my passions,
casting their angelic light, until
they fall off grace
and rob me of my delight.
I’m not asking them to be immortal, but
why do they refuse to endure
until my end and abruptly leave
this dimmed earth, taking an obtuse
graveyard path while still resting
in my hands?
I hate the loss, my stone-faced pain,
this tossing them out
in trash bin’s harsh reality,
but as my arms are fashioned to throw,
should anything break,
I’m so there in full fury.
Prompt: Something you hate to do
Perhaps a seraph metamorphosed,
the guy who bags groceries at Publix,
incarnate in his gift of small talk
and a stare too long, making me blink.
“You buy green things!” He points
with his chin to my stuff
on the receiving end of the register.
“They help,” I answer, though I
couldn’t explain how, if he asked further.
He straightens, stiff on his leg braces,
to say, “I eat anything. I don’t care.”
I trace his words to shattered dreams,
beyond the reach of sunlight,
bracketed by a demon’s deed, but then,
is there ever a body not broken,
a mind not eccentric,
a heart that never aches?
Yet, he stuffs the wares into plastic
with poise as if his spirit
just gushed out of a monastery’s hush,
where pastel blue blossoms and faint pink
cherry trees exude grey shadows
and outcast things can be holy.
at St. Lucie county fresh market
tomatoes red as blood, string beans
kale, carrots, oranges to squeeze
big, bright, death-defying
all raised with ease, locally
on sandy soil, close to the nuke plant
a force to be reckoned with.
They lie spread-eagled on tables
hoping for candlelight couples
instead, ancient ones roam
some mangled, some slow
some tired of low prosperity
but poised with flattened wallets
on this day the thirteenth
though not a Friday.
My hands caress mangoes
as if champagne
bursting in glory, sparkling
for life deep in sweetness
and in chatty vendor’s smile
so much taste and grace
and colorful dreams blooming
oblivious to gamma rays.
Prompt: Not a Friday
|She dances to the music of her own wandering
to create something new to surprise herself
in the dime store of hope, now a warehouse
with dozens of eyes embedded in its walls,
eyes sentencing those who enter through
the chipped frame as its door..
She dances her jig as if a spirit
melting into air, her steps weaving the fabric
of what she thinks she sees: cloud-capped towers,
dark-eyed palaces in distant shadows,
the half-moon's light touch, ash-pink roses,
jacaranda trees, gaudy parrots...
She dances, her moves artsy to instant choreography
using anything: mold on the walls, old photos,
broken sculptures, phrases, word fragments,
all eating away into her time, the floor
reverberating to the steps she wants to take,
wants to have taken.
She dances to her inventory of scars, wondering about
her feet. Do they have the power in tea leaves,
crystal balls, spells of sirens, magic? If not, so what?
In the dime store of hope, now turned to a warehouse,
decrepit, with dozens of eyes embedded in the walls,
she dances to survive.
Prompt: A dime a dozen...
|Coming down the mountain with eleventy-five ridges
It seems only days ago when I climbed, scattering
stones and dust; who followed did not concern me,
but the game ‘s over now, and I search
up and down and around the cliffs of the mind.
Coming down the mountain with eleventy-five ridges
I walk fast along winding streams, carrying pebbles
and ten thousand dreams, yet I linger by one broken tree
among a line of pines, like men with guns and a false promise.
Coming down the mountain with eleventy-five ridges
However remote from the depths, I see a flower
half buried in rock, its doggedness daring gods,
as spunk lifts it up to the light.
Coming down the mountain with eleventy-five ridges
feet bandaged, plastered, healing, I dance like a clown
leaving at the top, triflings and crows of sorrows
and one hundred fifteen crags, in cryptic numbers.
I'm coming down the mountain with eleventy-five ridges.
Prompt: Eleventy-five: is it a real number?
eleventy = (slang) 110
You are not the one to replay errors
yet, you commit big sins,
like the time, in your roaring twenties,
you offered your heart to him
as easily as a glass of water
and he changed into the pearl in the clam,
the disease in your shell.
Disease or not, you’ve journeyed upwards,
taking care not to slip on wet, slick roads,
your eyes, your pen lying,feigning joy,
your years falling away
like beads from a broken pendant,
and that pearl, forever, a clinging cancer.
Still, you believe your last decade will be your best
since it will hold your parting
absent of regrets, devoid of drama
for, at your undoing, you will not feel the pain
that creeps inch by inch on sleepless nights,
sharpening with the loosening of the mind.
No, you are not the one to replay errors
yet, you commit big sins.
Prompt: Your favorite decade
|On TV, war heroes, drive-by shootings, an overdose
Jody Arias, mercury in baby food.
News inflated like balloons and popped up just as soon.
“Did the nurse call 9-1-1 and when did the ambulance come?”
“Cabbage here gives me gas…”
The terror of disease, muscles squeaking,
bones skidding, hands gripping wheelchair arms,
offspring staying away, heartaches underplayed,
friendships, fighting, making up, shriveled senses.
All this and a room full of peers, yet Jenna, the woman I am visiting,
cannot focus on anything but crossword puzzles
Her eyes glued to the paper, she elbows me.
“What’s no in German?” I answer “Nein”
She tattoos N-I-N-E on the paper and nods, “It fits!”
In college, she carried signs, joined hands,
was dragged away in protest for mothers of all kinds,
but the mind has left her inside this bureaucratic dismissal
like a ventriloquist’s shattered dummy,
An interruption. “Who wetted the floor?” The glacial silence.
Shame wanders, sharp like acid, from face to face.
I bristle with the current like a maniac, and inside me,
strung-out, stunned, I yearn for flight.
|Fake headlines or true, I can’t tell, for it’s early morning,
earpods, from the dollar store, itchy in my ears,
near me, he snores, moving like a lethargic wave;
but all the same, desperate truths are in coalition.
Chaos! The radio reels with chatterboxes on straight whiskey,
superegos, wise as serpents, slither on my pillow,
and without Googling, my blotched, cobwebbed cognition
roasts on slow fire, dripping fat while I pull the duvet to my chin.
Utterly frivolous! I can't, no way, fill in the blanks
when they turn into black holes or sinking evil,
but instead, I’ll let voices bluff me with Corelli and Bach
I'm easy that way, and never over-sure.
Prompt: Wait, wait, don’t tell me!
"Wait, wait, don't tell me!" is a radio talk-show with games, supposedly on the high-brow side, and mostly mental (in either meaning of the word).
|When I arrive at my own door,
He’ll hold my hand and offer me
the bristling ocean in a crystal goblet,
a mixture of fire and water,
pomegranate blossoms, and cosmic light,
spiral fragments glistening.
Such divine sensation!
And my eyes will open wide.
A strange wind will pry my image
on time’s screen to show how
who -I loved or loved not-
can unite without titles, without faces,
for my life to restyle in retro
and galaxies to accept my recklessness.
Now, everyone will know where I stand,
and my eyes will open wide.
Then, a dolphin will play the violin to a shark
--breakthrough music, and jazz--
and the new voice I recognize as my own
will flow into lines without words,
and pages of poetry will penetrate inside
our collective mind.
No more waking up feeling empty,
and my eyes will open wide.
Prompt: Your idea of heaven
|Out of habit, I pick up dirty laundry
--mine and everyone else’s—
Also millions of things that scatter
twig-like all over my life:
rose branches, rakes, rods,
baseball bats, even javelins
equipped with hidden barbs,
spikes, pins, thorns
to sting, slash, draw blood.
No need for Band-Aid or wraps,
I let my plasma trickle out,
so on my wounds,
poems can collect like flies.
prompt: Pick up sticks
|Alert to hidden messages in things,
I search the pits of an apple.
Can a tree grow out of those? Even a forest?
Or something unidentified,
something I can use, akin to poise,
like a sandpiper’s
puff-breasted, snow-feathered, walking on stilts?
In the hyperspace of mind, The Alchemist *
whispers, “Why poise, though?
Why can’t you let go, and let it all hang out?”
I argue, “Oh, Dangerous One! Don’t you see
the value in interwoven signs in series?
Better than me bound to Bourbon,
if less than a pint.”
He shakes his red horns in disgust.
“Hypocrite! How unaware you are of your boredom,
the worst of miseries!”
*Satan Trismegiste who addresses the reader in the beginning of Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire.
Prompt: A fifth of bourbon, whatever that means
|Above the water,
scavenger wings, foreboding.
Feathers, blackened lines against the sky
Vultures stalking prey.
Below, my arms extend with paddle
and fierce grief, hurting inside.
Sun finger-paints the river against shadows
and overhanging tree nets.
Ahead, downstream, granite boulders rise,
in clusters, teeth-like, ready to bite the kayak
to splinters on fierce roiling froth,
same as love gone bad.
Current, turbulence, savage waves strike,
thrusting me toward rapids.
Alarmed, with dread,
I lunge forward.
At the bend, beneath surface,
churning force, water roars with icy fists
pounding, slamming, trapping me
inside my distress.
I claw toward the light
to catch my breath, to stare with awe
at the stranger who eases me
to the beach.
|From chair to door
I focus on sounds,
tap, slide, tap, tap, slide
my lifepath number five,
Have I stepped
--akin to a conjurer’s coin--
number five recurs
with caveats and outbreaks
of coyote calls, cricket chirps
marring the head in my heart
or the heart in my head.
What the king, Shahryar, might say to Scheherazade
This is what I like best about you:
Your seductive voice,
sweet, deep, rustling with 1001 stories,
to scare away my ghosts,
to lose what I have never missed,
to drown this weakness of skin
and black-bird chatters
on the wisteria vine.
How tentative it all is!
For I, a timeworn, romantic fool
deaf to your orchestrated lines,
play both Romeo and Othello
filling our lungs
with the thick stench of
Prompt: Too, too solid/sullied flesh
|First order: Shirley Temple
Not the booze, but the oozing of sweetness
dimples, face glowing like the moon under one huge hair ribbon
Second Order: Princeton Punch
Not bourbon or rye, but schools in variety
and a sapling tearing herself to tower over tall trees
Third Order: Valentine Twist
whirlpool of passions, but damsel of the bitter kind
human heart, in weakness, growing a prickly feeling
Fourth Order: Flaming Volcano
Not rum or brandy, but purpose, resolve
after Sojourner Truth, rejecting Kewpie dolls
Fifth Order: Mother’s Day Cocktail
fizz, bitter-lemon fatigue, but sweet fruit, mint
and lukewarm dreams drawing up inventories of scars
Last Order: Elderflower Liqueur
brouhaha quieting down, but hearth smelling of ashes,
then, final folly with inside voice rattling, “What is the right journey for humanity?”
“Why didn’t I just live!”
Prompt: Human Folly
|To glimpse the sun's arc
and the horizon,
I climbed into a book
at age four, like a Tarzan
when ants emerged as tigers,
and caterpillars, caymans.
Less than three feet high,
I swung from page to page
with savage cries, grasping words,
to tumble in a heap, bawling
not much has changed;
I still plunge inside pages
to discover how much there is,
except my wild self learned
to rise again,
clutching the tomes.
Prompt: books or beyond them, or Buzz Lightyear (“To infinity, and beyond!”)
|Body slouched forward
eyes twinkling like neon signs,
he waves from a face-size window.
I clutch my bag and hold his smile
wherever he goes.
But he'll come back again
with clangs and whistles
around the circle.
while I turn into a pillar
graying after him.
No platforms here, just hope
tuning into railroad songs
and flashy red wagons
hissing to a stop,
at the Choo-Choo in the mall.
Prompt: train ride
|Eyes red, tongue dry, your bones whine.
Hovering over toy towns invisible in darkness,
you crave home, your bed, your sleep,
a fresh apple and peach.
Guy in the next seat snores; his eyelids twitch.
Girl across the aisle sips from a plastic bottle.
Her gulps reach your ears, and under the overhead light,
a woman, yawning, holds a book upside down.
Attendant, too sweet, too green, dims the lights
now shining like dusty candles.
You listen to the engine sing falsettos to the ocean
and hope the pilot is not blind drunk.
Sleepless, you flounder in thoughts or obscenities
as memories infest, shoulders ache, feet hurt,
and you still keep vigil over nerves soaring
on extended wings, yours and those of the plane.
|My lines, trained vines on trellis heart-to-heart
Words tumble out of my pen yet not art
Akin to a bug I crawl on new plants
Wet with changing moods April rains impart
Seeking for nectar, seeking for love's smile
Sun slides away, the day begins to part
Waiting for May, when I can fly or fall
And past will be a dream as I restart
A Houdini, no. This poem is the mind
But, after canes and crutches, it's the heart
Prompt: April showers, May flowers (but no actual clichés) (maybe a ghazal!)