Turtle Thief

The turtle in this science lab
Clunks uselessly in his plastic
Cooler, prison.
Sometimes I am that turtle
Gawping uselessly at those
Impermeable walls.
Legs are hopeless here,
But the turtle is not.
I wish him luck, because
Sometimes things happen.
Sometimes students re-pond
Furtively stolen turtles.
Sometimes grace falls on your stubby head
And beaked face and your stupid, stubborn shell.
I’m just saying,
There’s nothing impossible
About that.

Be free. Eat many fish. Flummox many predators.

Pardon Me

There were no signs inviting me to Paradise Creek.
Maybe that was my problem.
It was true that the cold smoothness of the stream,
And the secret stillness of the shade under the sunstirred trees,
Were pretty exclusive,
Not even the man-made concrete trail
Five feet away
Could boast the same refinement
As the shag-carpet weed of the creek-stones.
The cattail brown-paper mat
Whispered under the retreat of a garter snake,
A stream of scaled fugitive silence.
The frogs submarined in embarrasment.
Even the leeches politely backed away, yellow
And quietly insisting on their mudbound privacy.
Furtive is the best word: as if I did not belong there,
As if this very experience was a theft.
Imagine a burglar in a museum wondering where everyone’s at,
That’s how I felt.
Or maybe I was just a visitor in a room some curator forgot to lock.
Either way, I expected to
Be kicked out
Soon, but scenelessly.
Maybe I’m the oblivious celebrity
Trying to hug the Queen of England.
“What a nice lady,”
I tell myself,
While the Queen continues to smile patiently
From behind my enthusiastic,
Unwelcome arms.

Wet Walk

This is a short free verse poem in which I recycled another poet’s line, as an exercise. See if you can guess which one is the borrowed one!

On one of those rainy days, when the sun seemed so far away
Under the spatter and
drip
of the then,
You told me you did not want my umbrella.
You were perfectly content to let the
sky
Fall on your head,
And somehow the world seemed suddenly
To make sense that way.
So I put away the sound of the gibberish that the rain
Was typewriting on my umbrella,
And talked to you like a normal human being.
We were wet, us two walking in the afternoon grey,
While the umbrella’s steel tip clicked patiently along,
Metronoming with its tick
Our quiet concerto of talk, and laughter,
The grey and agreeable silence.
I still think you’re strange.

Surprises

“Isn’t it the worst thing ever when you’re expecting milk and you drink water?”

It’s true enough to taste that surprise in my mouth
When it’s mentioned,
And it always comes as a surprise, for example,
When our water contrarily turns into wine
And a Messiah trashes our money-tables.
Surprises should laugh:
Small stomach earthquakes,
Oddness with oddity paired.

Lightning: another surprise.
We look to the darkness, clouds looming like Sinais:
And the chilling night-shroud cracks in blazing glory:
Green and orange and yellow and purple.
I always laugh and shout
When I see a bolt burn the air
And split firmament,
And feel the air tremble while the angels
Do their dancing.

The pagans were saddened from lack of surprise,
Laughter-lack; grim ironies and satire
Bittered their mouths.
See, they never expected the comedy
To be deep.
They never find what Shakespeare found,
That the man did not drown,
That the Devil’s tail was pulled over his eyes,
That weddings come in threes.
And infinite surprise, the best,
When tombs hold living kings,
Who turn out not to be gardeners
After all.

Psalm 148: A Free Verse Rendering

This is a free verse rendering of Psalm 148 I wrote for a poetry class in college. This one needs work, and it’s been called overdone. I present this unfinished version to you all for feedback and criticism. Please comment with thoughts, first impressions, or suggestions.

Praise the Lord from the heavens
Be cosmic bread, leaven of glory,
All seven spheres tune ears to hear what the moon and sun
Have begun to sing in the star-deep sea of the sky.
Let firmaments, assured of enduring,
Remember the commands and decrees
Of the Lord who ceded them their high boundary.
And then tip-top over, to the downward plunge,
Back to the sea, that roaring mirror of the skies;
Leviathan, still unhooked, bows his heads with their fiery eyes; Continue reading

A Paraphrase of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale

I am sad at heart, and numb to the world,
Like Socrates who drank hemlock,
Or as if I drank laudanum (like Coleridge)
Recently, and sank into forgetfulness:
Not because I envy you,
But because I am too happy for you,
That you, nightingale of the forest,
In some beautiful copse
Of shadowy beeches
Sing carelessly of summer.

Oh for a taste of really well-aged wine, that has been
Stored and cooled in deep earthen cellar,
Tasting of the Goddess of Spring, and greenery,
And dance, and folk tunes, and a hot day at the fair!
Oh, I wish I had some southern wine in a glass,
The good stuff, dark crimson, Continue reading