Piedra y Palo

31 Jan

No todos los latinos son mexicanos
y no todos los mexicanos escriben
sobre la migra y sueñan con el norte

No todos los poemas son sobre la dura vida
mi hermana vendiendose para comer pan
en manos de chulos que no se la dan

No todos los poetas son chicanos
ni tampoco son todos ellos pandilleros
de rodillas los domingos en el prisión

Si es asi, quienes mismos son la gente culta?
Viven en urbanizaciones a puertas cerradas
Cual es tu apellido? No te conozco. Hablamos.

Siempre busco los niños pobres en el barrio
para unos momentos sentir su sencilla felicidad
Pelotas de piedra y muñecas de palo.

Curiosos sobre todo pero sin comprender
que sin zapatos y ropa limpia nunca
van a superar. La vida es dura.

Hay demasiados niños. Sus risas innocentes
me duelen hasta el alma. No todos los latinos
hablan castellano. ¿Son latinos entonces

o que son? Son algo ajeno que no es mi problema
no siento lastima. no siento el peso de sus
sufriemientos. Ayyyy, Lupita, no se preocupe

la navidad lo tapa todo de luz y de blanco
la virgen nos protegerá. Pero pidele al cura
dame un poco de tu pan esta noche.
Lo siento, no hay mas.

A mud hut.

A mud hut.

Process, Discipline, and Sharing

25 Jan

January has me writing new things, with new projects in mind, and a new approach to writing, which hopefully will bear fruit soon. I had to take a step back again and reassess my process. Let me explain a bit what I mean …

I have put together two manuscripts and submitted them to various places, with hopes that my poems will resonate enough to motivate an editor to want to publish my work. It is crazy hard getting this done. I just have to trust what I have put together and trust where I am sending it off to. Take deep breaths, and keep moving forward while I wait.

In the meantime I MUST WRITE. It’s the only thing I can do. But unfortunately, I’ve learned from other poets and some editors that I have spoken to that I can’t post poems on my blog anymore. Nope, not if I want them to be considered for publication in a magazine. Which quite frankly sucks, since a huge part of my process has been this wonderful blog, which I love and has loved me back.

So, I can’t post new poems on here. Which leaves me at a loss of what to do. How can I get feedback? How can I test my ideas and be brave, which is the most important thing for me? How can I get help with my poems from other readers?

The only answer to that right now is to write and write and write, set aside, look over, and edit and write some more. It can’t be self-gratifying, as this blog has been, since I can post a poem and within hours receive lots of “likes” and comments, and even follows from Word Press readers. It has to be more disciplined and consistent. It has to be a committment.

I promise, though, that I will continue to read and record my new poems on SoundCloud. I will post the readings here so at least they can be heard, if not read. I enjoy posting my poems on SoundCloud. It helps me in the editing process, and helps me tune my reading voice.

A new thing that I have begun to do, and hope that it will stick as a habit and part of my new process, is writing morning pages. Morning pages are exactly that: writing a set number of pages freehand every morning. It’s supposed to be like a freewrite, but the most important rule is to write every day. My college pal Kartik Singh, who directs films and writes screenplays, shared this with me, and I just knew when he told me about it (three and half years ago, gulp) that I had to do it. I’m finally doing it Kartik!

The other thing I am doing is submitting more. Oh, gosh it is so hard to do- submitting poems and hoping against hope that some will get published. When the first one finally gets published I will be so freaking happy! Yes, I will certainly blog about it.

Lastly, I have been applying to writer’s workshops and fellowships. This is in lieu (for the time being) of actually getting an MFA. I am not opposed to getting an MFA, but I have to consider the time that it will take away from my family and work, not to mention the expense. But, I think I know deep down that I need something like that. I need to learn more and to hone my craft, something I feel is still is in it’s baby-stages.

I still don’t have enough poetry in my life. I don’t think I will ever feel like I do. This is a contant thirst and it gets satiated at times, but never fully. In order to keep my blog alive with poetry though, I am going to start sharing other poems, poems not written by me but that help fill my poetry void. Hopefully this will help create a discussion about poetry that will inspire and motivate my readers.

 

When

9 Jan

When the moon glows full
and the stars speak to you with
infinite sweetness

when you find a green
rolling field, inviting you
to lay upon it

when a lofty view
tugs at that space within you
that never stays full

think of me, perhaps
feel me close, remember my
joy in knowing you.

In the curve of the arch.

Glowing Arch, Washington Square Park, October 2015.

This started out as haikus composed in my head while I tried to sleep. Although I did follow the traditional 5-7-5 pattern, and there is nature involved, the verses are more like American Sentences (17 syllables), and together form the complete poem.

When emotions run deep, poetry helps me distill the essence of what I want to take away from an experience. Sometimes, it takes a few times to distill it all. I am finding more and more, that fewer words are often best.

Small Packages

1 Jan

Savor the moments
though fleeting or few, joy comes
in small packages.

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My first poem in a long time. A little bit of joy for me, in a small package.

Happy 2016

Berl’s Poetry Shop (a found poem)

12 Oct

Excitement Doesn’t Like Commas

This is what it is like
to be loved by me
cinema of the present
in the circus of you
cutting time with a knife
making dying illegal.

The woman in this poem,
citizen, unleashed, not nothing.
You must look hard
to see what’s there
I am you this morning
you are me tonight

Anything could happen
in the presence of absence
one sleeps, the other doesn’t
technically, it is not my fault.
The French exit:
thanks and sorry and good luck

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This poem is a found poem, composed entirely of titles of poetry chapbooks for sale at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop in DUMBO (Brooklyn, NY). Berl’s is devoted to selling poetry books and chapbooks produced by small press publishers. I visited Berl’s for the first time this past Friday morning. As part of the events of the annual Poets Forum, held in New York by the American Academy of Poets, we were treated to a Brooklyn Poetry Walk led by Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang. Berl’s was the first stop on the tour, which took us to the waterfront, where we read Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, and to Cave Canum where we heard two readings by some excellent and up-and-coming young poets.

I love creating found poems, and book title poems in particular. Titles are very important, and authors spend a lot of time choosing the titles of their books, so I think it’s neat to find interesting titles and weave them together. As I was surrounded by hundreds of poetry chapbooks at Berl’s , I couldn’t help but think that of all book titles, poetry book titles are probably the ones with the most thought put into crafting them.

To all the poets whose titles I used in this poem: thanks (and sorry, and good luck).

UPDATE: A few readers wanted to know the process by which I did this. Usually, I pull books off the shelves and then rearrange them to create the poem. I stack them up and take a photo, then write out the poem in a post, like this example from a few years ago: The Lovers (a found poem). However, I felt kind of funny just pulling books off of the shelves at Berl’s, because they are arranged in a certain way and I didn’t want to disturb that. So, this time I just walked around the store and jotted down a list of the titles that jumped out at me. That part of the process is the “found” part. I try to just let the titles hit me so I have a good list of interesting titles to use for the poem. Then, when I actually wrote the poem, I read over my list of titles and just started playing around with combinations and order. I am a bit of purist, so I don’t alter or truncate the titles in any way. Also, I use the whole title, one per line, or in the case of one word titles, I will separate those by comma. There were a number of two line titles that I kept two lines in the poem. Lastly, I did not add any extra words to the poem apart from the titles.

Here is a photo of my journal where I wrote the list of titles that I selected so you can see how I fit them into the poem.

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Fly By Day

9 Sep

My flight departs when I put my left foot on the pedal and coast, down the driveway, onto the street, swinging my right leg over the saddle. If I had wings to beat, they would be my two feet, pedaling down the asphalt runway. This is my morning flyby. My feet push hard against the pedals: pushing away worries, pushing back years, pushing against thoughts of you which I can’t ever seem to escape from. I keep pushing until my thighs protest, my chest heaves. Lightheaded and flushed I soar through the streets of my neighborhood. I admit, I do spread my arms like an eagle, because it feels good; this is the closest I come to actual flight. I pump my legs and ascend higher and farther, as if this is all I have. This time, cutting through space, where I run to you and away from you at the same time.

The retired men, putzing around their yards in my neighborhood know me. They line the streets and cheer as I speed past, just a blur. As they watch me go by, I recognize the look in their eyes, it makes me want to keep going and never stop.

Hot drops of rain fall
on my helmet, I welcome
them, and feel alive.

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I wrote this, my first haibun, for Dverse Poets Pub’s first Haibun Monday. Having never explored this form of poetry before, I am not sure that I totally nailed the form, but I enjoyed writing it. As I was on my bicycle this morning, these were my actual thoughts. Thoughts which were followed by a sense of dread that I would not be able to work my ideas into a coherent poem. Then I got home, hopped on the computer, saw the Dverse post and boom! Haibun!

Oh Say, Can You See?

26 Aug

I can see you
13 rivers red blood brothers
13 pillars victorious mothers

blue promises in the night sky
your stars shining as they guide

give me liberty, give me life
bless the fruit of our strife

o majesty, wave your banner over us
bless our battles in the dust

your colors dipped in God we trust
I can see you, I will be you
wave, wave, wave

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one thousand places where you are not

24 Aug

rollinggreen grassy field, zephyrs concourse
saltcresting gulfstreamwaves, miles from land
hayloft of a barn, Tennessee horse farm
mossyaired spaces in between forest trees
nestlecurled beside a hollow rotting log.

Mexican rooftop, anotherplease tequila
sunrise filtering through empty playground
swings, floatspinning down a lazy river
in a warm rainstorm, poundingpavement
in the everincreasing heat of daytime.

an airplane holding pattern slowwaltz,
banking over the Panama Canal,
hilltopview of Manhattan, twin lights, painted desert
highwaygunning towards Pacifica, that
bar in Copenhagen, wintermidnights
on west 57th. the Jewish weddingdance
in Buenos Aires, au pied de cochon
Amsterdam, Aachen. Gare de Lyon.

who do I kid not? you were there, are
there, always will be and anywhere
elseplace I go you ceasenot
to leave your footprints for
even the windleaves they carry
your indelible invisiblemark
even in watersounds i hear your
wonderous laughter

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Places. Kennings. An experiment and some truth. Can you guess the influences?

Take a listen:

Break Through

20 Aug

I’m looking for a spoon.
I’m looking for a spoon
to crack an egg. To smack
through the oyster shell
of my heart, the soft boiled
container of my soul.
That shining spoon
has to fit my fingers
it needs to be surgical steel
with the right balance
of stem and bowl
so when it thwacks
upside the egg, it’s ready
to dig, to scoop out
all the glorious goo,
all my runny ideas
and inspiration in one
yellow flow, but first
I need that spoon.

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The Audience Awaits

5 Aug

I went outside to watch
the stars tonight, curled
in my Adirondack chair
but those stars, I swear,
peered right back at me
blinking their diamond eyes
in the quivering silence, inquiring
in some universal Morse code,
So, what are you
going to do next?

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