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"
|a discomfort so comfy
between this earth and sky
when you and I point fingers
at each other
and blame the venom on
the snake or the apple
then we bite into our sorrows
unaware of the magical filling
slipping out to the ground
Prompt: base a poem on an eponym, that is, a word that comes from a person’s name. Examples: sandwich, diesel, guillotine, cardigan, leotard, bloomer, martinet, mesmerize, silhouette, shrapnel, draconian, etc.
|when your pace slows,
you notice on each curve
designs unfolding as traps
smudges, words, lines, tints
but you rise toward skylight
without a glance at the abyss down
wondering if people could tell
you never left behind
what they trespassed:
dense depths inside your shadow
and you climb realizing
how life lies in balance
with each step you take
and designs you cannot evade
for the path on the ascent
is always perilous
|See now, how stars nod at the window
to ease my lassitude,
to bounce doldrums away in memory-drifts
while my words cling to my hands
and the desk-lamp’s light flickers.
So much to rant about, life in my face,
crotchety days lost like dreams,
spreading around in ravines of years, in vain
my pen on paper, letters like nightshades
urging me to detect myself.
Prompt—poem that contains a confidence (private info shared in trust with an equal)
|such cowardice, I now confess,
when I lied to all to say
my mission called me
and fled, split into fractions
in fright of a fight
oracles of bamboo or steel
they sang in gentle tones
in my choice for flight
rash decision with no vision
since more theater was there than facts
the day I left for good
the day I rang the wind chimes
when there was no wind
oracles of bamboo or steel
they sang in gentle tones
in my choice for flight
Prompt: poem that contains a confession (private truth told to powerful entity)
|Back in the vast city. I’m nowhere and everywhere,
tunnels, canals, tankers, taxis, slums, skyscrapers
webbed, veined, and no skin transparent.
Crooks and junkies in this dark metropolis?
But no, only phantoms smelling of fish
ghosts from a graphic story--singed, somber
and tragically misread—still hiding
in the tenements of my mind.
This city has been a bloody slaughterhouse
littered with noise, and I still writhe
in a corner park, watching
the 59th street bridge with steel biceps
where she once said they met in secret
and broke all circuits inside me, and
voiceless I screamed underground poetry
to inflame the avenues in my roiled solitude
igniting the Hudson River.
Prompt: underlying emotion you never name
|blissful yellow flames
slow dancing in the wind
covering the sand in compassion
a field of tight-petal tutus
parted by a cement path
leading to the ocean
such disdain in the name False Dandelions
for almost asters in silken threads
cultivating untamed land
soon to be replaced with fancier blooms
what a pyrrhic victory
their hope before defeat
Prompt: wildflower of your choice
Should I whip a meaning for eagle eyes
with the kind of light
Orion’s belt catches at night
its smallest star offside, two others askew,
adrift like Nile’s path?
Do they watch
lost souls with three-king egos
or dead-bird carcasses hidden
under Giza’s Pyramids
telling tales with ancient punctuation?
Do they obsess with stuff they can’t handle
such as my life hunted out by years,
to which shadows have been merciful
snubbing the sun god with the curved beak
who wished to watch me fade out like him?
|rain, a woodpecker on the windowpane,
while I read Gone Girl
later, a deluge
insensate flow of blues music
until cloud edges beamed with light
its bird eyes now beg forgiveness
for which I cannot tell: back porch
or feet soaking under water, or
the shadow on the puddle, mine
yet it was me who didn’t close the door
it was me who let things flounder
and it is me who can never stop the falling
Prompt: rain, showers, and/or clouds
|In Emergency, I wait for hours
for my neighbor Carmen’s outcome
after her affair with the treadmill.
Later, I sit at the edge of the bed
to hold her hand, and she cries out, while dazed,
for her son, el Nino Jesus, her mamacita,
and sunbeams slant through blinds,
and I reflect. Eighty-six degrees on April six
a gem of a day in subtropics where
I am a mere stray among orchids,
fake talk, fraud, old women
silver hair with flair, and Medicare.
Then Carmen awakens to my relief
in such delicacy of mind’s openings
to faint glints of light sneaking
into the room, for sunshine outside
spirals in ribbons through palms’ fronds
letting all things shimmer in transience.
as they pirouette
over puckered pages.
Inside me floods rise, then ebb
leaving back debris
under caustic light.
And that smirk on your face?
Yet, no pointing at
as you grasp
my hands in yours
Empathy through your fingers...
So, why worry?
Even if on paper
I can’t capture me,
I can still love the world.
Prompt: Fingers, hands, or both hands
|(Rear Window 1954 Hitchcock movie)
how easy it is to watch from afar,
warring in their distant holes
akin to afflictions
within my underworld
for I sail like a pendulum
between thoughts and doubts
so silent and veiled
yet affection lights
your simplest gestures
in my enigmatic darkness
if I could pattern my feet
to stand on their own,
I would open a rear window
to mirrors inside me
to reveal your angelic image
Prompt: incorporate something from a film into your poem
|(A John Pike watercolor)
wilderness covered by
an incandescent dragon
in diamonds of ice
wide girth and hues of white
perhaps a dark story, but, no
a transient light --light, powerful light--
whirling through snow-laden branches
trapping the monster’s plot
so tiny in this fluid scene,
ant-like in a blue snorkel,
a cap, its fur earflaps down,
a hardy, gruff hunter
with his own plot
snatch the rifle from his hand
turn him around
invent him a face
comfort him with a warm touch
soften him up
so I can dwell in
this widespread vista
prompt: respond to a work of visual art in your poem
|Dear Director of Human Resources
With due respect
to your high wall of blind diligence
for competitive advantage,
Just how do you weigh people
while you hold your breath
in your birdcage
and recruit for approach, measure for skill
while you resist passion,
a time-tested, specific
What if I tried reverse psychology?
What if I made you believe people are magical
and tattooed on their senses is the world?
Could I seduce you
with vision, with humanity?
Would the art of it teach you to exhale?
Prompt: use a phrase from an actual letter in title, epigraph, and/or poem
|writing wild words, a deluge outside
all of a sudden, the world created anew
nothing subtle in tempo, rivers running downward
cool liquid seeps within, spills out
Noah’s spirit booms on two of us
spurred by flashes over high branches
letting lines trudge two by two
falling cold and mute on laptop’s screen
in one single desolate desire
not a pinch of hope
what about pretending to be an artist instead
or an architect to bridge earth and sky
but giving up, I rise for a cup of tea
so hot, it burns, tunneling through throat
tiny bumps on tongue, and I wonder
why are some things like this, so difficult, yet so tempting?
Prompt: “changing your tune”
|Under the fan’s breeze, she reaches
with giant hands to pour coffee,
the aroma pervasive as perfume.
“Pancakes, no eggs, coming up!”
She’d serve roses, if she could
for my notes on the napkin
about our fortunes deranged,
as we both would do anything
for a good story.
In and out of my body I roll, as my murky mirror distorts any image to a shadow in a silent scene and my reflection provokes an angry momentum before I enter the kitchen, tripping, in slow motion, through a glass darkly, with eyes half-open. But I fear not because I sense my early morning’s transient, sinister emotions will be washed away once the opulent coffee brews in its seductive honey-pot, and I look forward to what rapture its first sip will bring. Possibly, a vista of the secret city inside me, of fluid neon reflections, complete with road maps and directives on the huge dim board of its courthouse. With that in mind, I strip and open myself to the ballistic baptism of the shower head. Water’s tone deliberately turns to morning drum rolls. The trouble is, today is not just limited to feeding and entanglements, but it flaunts a purpose of change to outstrip the hollow alleyways and slums I have kept hidden.
Prompt: The trouble with Mondays...
|This morning dawned in gray,
dolefully, on the golf course
in the back of our house,
as I imagined it mourning
for the disarranged lives
wandering in spirit circles
over smokestacks, burned cities,
and those ugly things
we'd rather forget and throw away.
Yet, can we leave cobwebs undisturbed?
What happens when everyone moves away
from someone, one way or another,
and how much escapes us when
six million stars sink
into that black space inside us all,
in our reluctance
to admit our wrongs?
|"I'll go. Big Hula festival in Hilo," he says,
"Best thing about the whole place."
His lips are still warm with Pinot Noir
and he winces at the sweetness,
memory or wine, I cannot tell, yet throw
a ragged lifeline to our chat,
"In Hilo? And the occasion?"
"Merrie Monarch, if you must know,
to pick Miss Aloha Hula,"he says,
as if she's fruit, ripe and toothsome.
I imagine a pageant for unsolved puzzles,
women dancing as a single force
to give up their crown
for the male eye, and singing,
words draped in flowers, flowing
in liquid music to a tragic sea
masked beneath an ashen moon,
and beauty bucking on just one face.
Then I wonder: Is she
shattered inside, watching a volcano,
her jam-packed crowd of bronze shadows
swirling hips, mastering the fire
in dramatic distances?
Prompt: A difficult conversation