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"
|It wasn’t the clown
his wild boa eyes without bottoms
giggling kids, or noise-makers
but the inner shape of me
the human sponge lifting up fears and secrets
when Mama stabbed her knife down to the hilt
into white cake with hot-pink frosting
the skin in her arms flapping back and forth
tactfully veiling a venom
in icy appraisal of my follies
as if my wiring were faulty, somehow.
prompt: a birthday party
|You let your voice rise
flaring wildly, museless
no vision or destination
except for convex mirrors of a past
tilted, cracked, shattering
into smaller and smaller
Bleeding, you say half the lines
in bits and pieces
words land with thuds
faces fall, and you
whip around on challenged toes,
leaving your shadow on stage
like a hard-bitten bandit.
Prompt: an actor in small parts
|The question mark still hangs
over where the rapid current flows
in strenuous calisthenics
where you spread yourself too thin
where the disconnected God kept His distance,
and how I, the brute, drove past through it all
unable to pull you back from the undertow.
Time heals, but no, not the mother-tongue of pain
not buried things, nor unthinkables,
but this is my blood
and the wound I don’t want healed
Prompt: a suicide
|How exquisite the way
you arrange upward
step by step
no skin, no flesh
loading choice words
probing innermost depths
and in this staircase of awareness
I clutch at your lines as if railing
while remembering things
I wanted to forget.
Prompt: a staircase or elevator
|you wake into life again
for the freak shape-shifts to a full circle
poking fun at rising chests
since as a night predator
it dwells in dark sentiment
tinged with longing
and urges your wet wounded eyes
doomed to dust
to wait their turn
leaning over the edge
like the halo of mist
around its fullness
Prompt: a phase of the moon
“….blaspheme so loudly,
And live for that honour, to stoop to thee now?
O Delphic Apollo!” -- John Keats
“O, Delphic Apollo!”
no less vague than a moon mission
you write off your debts
using the plague as if pen and ink
since fates humored us both, release me
from these poetic chills with fire-fletched arrows
or send me a symphony
now, while I write between the lines
seasons are merging in regret
yet, for all the burns it causes
the saffron sun still shines
and, even at this late hour,
you still inspire me
to change my life.
|alteration of routine tones
power drifts, eddies of rage
audacity rising like miasma
world making demands
time out of joint
a marauder outmaneuvered
welcoming the full moon
better to howl out humiliation
than shed tears alone
in the dark night
when you are overruled
Prompt: wolf, wolves, or lupine
|to fight old age, in juxtaposition
between fresh and metallic
a life pretty much sealed
with the scent of an ancient ghost
her color is turned as if an art
made to crawl tight within, servile
sniffed at, tasted through puckered lips
served at an altered angle
a bare-heart ladled in sauce
like a story retold in plainer words
not quite a carcass, but no worries
since there are different ways of dying
Prompt: anything in a can
|I grin in pain as wiring’s askew
if I only knew how to
fix all electronic circuits,
or to mold and shape the mental clay,
clean the rust amassing in my insides…
Since I’m a futuristic feat,
drawn in perspective,
why can’t I cry the human tears
fear the fears, taste their wine?
Why do I have nothing subjective
a wish to fly, a love to seek, a dread of death?
A system failure, is it?
At least, while my focus slips, don’t turn me off
until I find out how to dream.
Prompt: uncanny valley (Google it!) (and/or interpret phrase any way you want!)
|right out of the cocoon, a metamorphosis tucked in your loft
pesky winds, softened sorrows, redundant jaunts, chain-reactions
you flow without knowing if predestined or not, but the seed’s sown
as a slap in your face, a spiral in viral marketing
you press the hidden button in the mind, but
dams trap rivers searching for escape routes
you wonder which hits the hardest: traffic, Judases on the way,
a dead infant, the sick child, or your rage crushing the dam
yet, at journey’s end, all shall drift away like bubbles of soap
in fragments of a dream to vanish on waking in your empty bed
Bird feeder in the next yard
swings empty with the wind.
New people, young and rowdy,
false airs and fire in the core,
summon a storm of internal complaints,
but I transmute what I hear.
Nothing sinister in this
life's haunting, changing patterns.
David, the World War II vet,
last Christmas Eve,
handed me a bear, and
not to be outdone, his wife Dot
endorsed by her inimitable O.C.D
rearranged my kitchen drawers.
Nothing sinister in this
life's haunting, changing patterns.
The stuffing is falling
out of the bear now, and
in my kitchen, I can't ever find
anything, but chiefly, I can't stand
to see the feeder empty,
spooked by the missing birds.
with snaggle-teeth smile
bounces back twice
topples to the carpet
torso, legs twitching
while getting whacked
by nerdy analyst
drifting in currents
temple, neck and back
your chest heaves
struggling for air
stirred with the silt of guilt
for such nutty reaction
gulping a ragged breath
you blink the eyes
at the locked visuals
on your surface mind
and the corpse stares back silent
from the TV screen
|Jagged, crooked, one-inch long
an old rusty snuggles into
a blanket drained of color
around the flagstone path.
From her looks, to demystify,
did the nail ever have a life?
Possibly yes, while bright, coquettish
holding things together,
with success to be hers if she wished.
Soon, a slow wind wheezes
through the trees with a sigh,
and white flakes--silent, proud
in series of freeze frames--
shroud her in reply.
| Since I am so deeply inspired by our politics...
never mind the elderly
swipe at those
buzzing about your head,
root for the savage cult
perform a first-class haunting
with shrouded power at heart
whip through the masses
and crawl around your enemies
in wealth of stealth
dirty fighting is all there is
against saucer-eyed bastards
so you outlive the beasts
this is no vice
take Hunger Games' advice
Prompt: give some advice
|“Why are you here?”
asks the nurse in cardio
“for Echo,” you say, handing in
your papers. She nods and
shows you in. Why so easy?
Why so biocentric?
Consider everything concentric
spiraling up and beneath
the vault of bone over your brain,
entire creation, earthly events,
space, time, quantum physics…
Just a tiny spectrum of possibilities.
Why are you here?
Observer, actor, co-creator? And
what’s under your mission statement?
Looking in the wrong world, maybe?
Why are you born
if to be torn asunder?
The answer could be Pandora’s box,
but dare you unlock?
Or possibly it might be way deep
in a cavern hidden
inside your humanity
to be opened with the right touch,
empathy, or gravity
pre-existing grace or not
through a redirection of vision,
you echo that hardest question
with the biggest payoff:
“Why am I here?”
Prompt: pose a question
|She lands like a slender thespian
in mid-passion of a miracle play
on top of the milk thistle,
clapping blue ribbon wings
her large eyes taking in the scene
How focused, how clear she is
in self-assertion, desire,
living life as herself
what she wants…
As the setting April sun
pulls down the curtain on the day,
unlike the damselfly,
my question still is
after so many years,
“What do I want?”
Prompt: a blue ribbon
|An overgrown weed
clinging to the driveway,
a living thing.
I pull it out
feeling its hurt.
Granted, the comparison is remote,
but what good is a festering wound
or a pre-cancerous mole left alive?
Still, why does my touch leave
a bite mark, and
why did I,
in my extreme matriarchy,
not trust anything foreign
on my children’s path?
Prompt: A Regret
|Live bait on the hook
line sinks, lure dissents
time a toxin
misfortune tempts tragedy
eat to be eaten,
like Jalapeno peppers in fragments
or horseradish attacking eyes
staying in sinuses for days
I think I’ll swear off lunch
|In euphoria, as the only pseudo-spiritual practicing silence, you sit undisturbed amid pristine breezes and starlight, in no-man’s land, among a group of reveler friends whose joy you trust will rust with time for pleasure is a fleeting thing; yet, a mind is what you have to offer, neither wild nor alien, in hodge-podge speculation, so you judge as you ought, through spines and angles of thought, in stealth and solitude since nothing can disrupt your stillness, not even the hooting of an owl, haunted and gloomy, his grim presence looming as the secondary wilderness.
A swift breath at your neck, someone flippant, for sure, to stir you up, so you stretch your arm, touching coarse fur, and forgetting silence, you scream fearing, in this jungle’s clearing, a mangled hand, a bear’s chewing, but it is just your friend’s mutt.
Prompt: the unexpected