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Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Big Questions

Pots . . . are a way of thinking about  bodies, the figure, space, and architecture. These are the essential questions of form.

Each workday when I go to assemble slabs of clay I've cut out the night before, I discover in the haphazard conditions of temperature and humidity, the possible forms from a pattern, depending on the wetness of the clay. Sometimes the clay sags, and the pot has a wet sloped slippery look, other days I arrive just in time to assemble shoe leather hard slabs into rigid rectilinear boxes.

This idea of perfect form, and proportion, halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, fibonacci ratios . .  makes me wonder about Johannes Kepler who saw in the design of the stars, and the relation of the stars to the design of individual mens lives, a much greater design . . . . 

Were the thinkers of old asking larger questions than we do today?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Snowfall and Oysters

Things held together by 'roundness'.
Characters met in dreams, stand,
toy soldiers, alert, but cold to the touch.

My access to the room, where fragile things,
from memory are laid one upon the other,
in danger of being broken.


Lacking the words! Down the corridor for an orange. Pad, pad, pad on the black nylon floor. Moments of darkness as I turn on and off the lights.  An orange vanishes.


Late night is a time for poets. Peace after a long day under attack, the daytime throb to think and survive, to premeditate, to earn, is finished. Night comes, and brings peace. Solace, for full or empty stomachs, for breathing, for bleeding, for the wounded who wait. Night comes, bringing peace for poets.


Here waits the cool olive solace of my typewriter. Olivetti green, my hospital walls.

Jeff and the others cross the lawn, carrying guns. I see them, and want to run the film back, but I cannot. It is a dream, broken by the sound of a glazier's knife on glass, or a mason's trowel upon bricks and cement, or a teacher's chalk on the blackboard, or the painter's scraper abrading cracked and peeled paint from the clapboards.

Knives on whetted stone.

Time to sleep again.


I leave the apartment with my bag, umbrella, and my portable typewriter and walk outside.

Snow is falling, heavy wet flakes. The concierge's cat plays against the window trying to grab the pieces of snow as they float past. Mr. Rabelais, the concierge, is inside watching too. We laugh, through we can only see, not hear each other.

The snow falls fast. It accumulates on the outside of my clothing, the brims of hats, and on the grass in the park along Avenue Foch. The streets are still wet, the pavements melt the flakes as soon as they touch.

I take the metro, then get out, and cross Place de la Concorde. It is thicker now, and I'm leaving footprints. Gradually the snow is turning the world into shades of white and grey. I look into the Tuileries. All the gravel surfaces there are white.

I enjoy for a moment, the unsteady, slippery pavement.


I stayed, long enough to watch autumn prepare the trees for winter.

After the first frost, the maples, the beech and oaks made a display, a final dance. The reds trembled, the yellows and scarlets shimmered. Then they fell, threw themselves to the earth, and the branches they left were gray and black and brittle. The sap ran out of them, to the roots in the ground.

This somehow brought to my mind a woman I thought I knew, or wanted to know. When the icy frost dealt the leaves a fatal blow, her wound poured out the colors of her life. At night the sound of them dropping lightly on each other was her faint voice, whispering. In the damp leaves that emerge beneath the snow in the spring, I saw fragments of her face. In the green buds that are held dormant all winter I saw her smiling.


Ideas are bubbles, that will eventually find their way
out of any sunken ship.
The force of thought is weak,
but the force of will too strong to find its way.
Ours is a patient receptive mind,
that is spoiled by what it knows, but saved
by what it feels.


The moon is ringed by an icy halo, frosted lines of yellow etched in the sky.

The boulangerie and patisseries put their moist smells of Christmas banking out into the street.

I admit sweethearts to my rooms, to the warm halls of memory and experience, where echoes and laughter brighten this chapter of my life. A petite blond girl, I divide her little fruit, with my tongue.

It's a quiet morning in the rear courtyard of Avenue Foche. A refrigerator is humming somewhere.

I ate Christmas dinner in the kitchen with Marie Rose, Madeleine and Jeannette. Their faces are exaggerated, comic in their simple routines, replays of Molière.

Roast chicken, baked apples with jam, boudin blanc, boudin noir, creme de marrons, and huitres. I ate the oysters hoping I'm not allergic to the shellfish on this side of the Atlantic.

In the middle of the night I awoke, and vomited for ten minutes into a white plastic bag. My stomach processed everything except for one tiny part of each oyster. I count them. Some footy mantled part. Exactly eight. What a clever organ, the stomach. I gargled, flushed the poison down the sink, and feeling much relieved, fell fast asleep.


Sickness, feeling the nearness of death -
A comforting thought to me now, shivering.
How to replace the vacuum left inside me.
Her going may break my will.
Did I know how deeply I was falling in love with her?


I navigate in the dark with my cat's sense of the walls.
I know the doors that are open, I know the doors that are closed. I know where their handles are.
What is to explain this?
And all the many senses we have within us?

I'm losing my days,
to silly problems that could have been foreseen.
I could have steered away,
But now I must bear the consequences.

I wish I had used my cat's sense in time.


I found a place for a month. It is quiet, it has a table and light.
But it is a boat, and it jerks all day at its moorings.
How can I write when I am ill?


I am living in the womb of a city
On the twisted confluences of a river
Filled with bottles, cans, choked with mud
It flows anyway.
I float on it.

Everything around makes this city famous
Everything and nothing
I have to walk far to find the life I love
The country is far, trees are far, birds are far.
I am surrounded by works of man.
But I live on a river
That is not the work of man.
Through the center of the city it flows,


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Conversate on the Train

A friend posted this on his Facebook page:

    "If you need to conversate, please use the other cars."
                (Conductor on the train, 'conversating' with us . . .)

Another friend criticized. Conversate he argued, is not a word:

    "It's 'converse' and 'conversation' combined . . . One's a verb, the other a noun. 
      You can't make it both. So it satisfies nothing."

I jabbed a reply:

     "Some diehard word columnist must be a rider on your train, . . . you could probably even track down 'conversate's chief defender!"

I decided to look up conversate online.  It is a word, first recorded use in 1973:

Merriam Webster:

     con·ver·sate intransitive verb \ˈkän-vər-ˌsāt\
     Definition of CONVERSATE:
     : converse
     Origin of CONVERSATE
     back-formation from conversation
     First Known Use: 1973

Urban Dictionary:

    A word used by backwards, ignorant, illiterate inner city trash who mean to say 'converse'.
    "Yo, I just needs to conversate witcha!" 

The rest of Urban Dictionary citation is unquotable. The Black-Eyed Peas sang the word in the 1990's, part of a song rich with sexual innuendo, "we could let our body conversate", probably because of the ending '-sate' which makes conversate resemble words where the root sat means 'enough' as in satient (giving pleasure, satisfying), saturate, and satisfy. Another citation states:  "(An) Ebonics version of the intransitive verb 'converse'; urban hybrid of the two words 'converse' and 'conversation'”.

Conversate doesn't just mean talk with someone.

Converse, the verb to talk or speak, has the accent on the second syllable, i.e kon-VERSE. Converse with the accent on the first syllable means opposite, or reversed, as in converse of a mathematical theorem. Converse as in All-Stars, the famous basketball shoe is also pronounced KON-verse.

English thrives on class warfare. The well-schooled will complain the masses are subverting the language. Strike 'ain't' from English? Be prepared to lose most of "Huckleberry Finn", arguably the greatest work of American fiction. Use only proper English in music? Lose all of rap, most of Dylan and all of the Rolling Stones. If controlling language is your goal, you "ain't gonna get no sat-is-fac-tion".

Conversely, words morph, switch meanings, and put on other people's clothes. I'm reminded of the last episode in Season 5 of the popular TV series, "Mad Men":

An advertising exec named Peter Campbell, has a boring train companion who sits opposite him during commutes, boring until he meets the man's lovely wife in the parking lot. Then he does what advertising execs are supposed to do, he takes her back to her own living room and conversates with her on one of their upholstered chairs. Needless to say, he is not a gentleman, not until he learns she is so depressed that she's headed into shock therapy, and wanted one last tryst of love with Mr. Campbell, something she hopes she'll remember when she wakes up. Alas, when he visits her in the hospital, with flowers, she can't remember him at all. Their lovemaking is gone, like a forgotten word.

This piquant episode, reminiscent of Cheever's "5:48", and Ken Kesey, "Cuckoo's Nest", ended with Campbell slugging her husband on the train, for submitting her to such radical treatment. This won Campbell a stout fist from the conductor in return. He slinks home bloodied, to conversate with his wife.

Photo credit: Still from TV Series, 'Mad Men'

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Stones and Water

Stones and water often mix,
With seaside drops and ocean drips.
Dried salt, like diamonds gleam,
Facets of mica, also seem.

I see elephants brushing paint.
Never rushing, they sweep and feint.

A day of bright sun becomes a day of white light,
A day for my spoon, which is silvery bright.

Poetry descends, dark photons in a cloud,
I send them back, and make her electrons go wild.

If I tell you what my poetry is, you'll go raving mad.
If I tell you what my madness is, will you promise to keep it in bed?

Mind is craved by soul the way that water needs a bowl,
Soul give worth to mind as coal gives birth to light.

Find this note, don't go this way, I left it here, then got taken away.
Life isn't perfect, fate isn't fair. I'm no more, but I don't care.

Love 'n lust don't share guests,
One is trust and the other arty,
Those who notice, crash both parties.

I keep him locked up, he's pounding my drum.
He wants back outside, to loose his rhythm.

Out west birding on a festive holiday,
I saw wren-tits of family Sylviidae.
True I saw Tits, I saw more than two,
but no bushy tits from clan Aegithalidae!

Tell this knight that if he stops pretending,
you can get right back to hops bartending!

Arjun had a chariot, The best in the Maha battle!
Krishna gave him a ride in it, In spokes that were pulled by cattle!

Like is to Sign, As Metaphor is to Symbol.
I liken Design, As a Door to a Thimble.

With what cold felony, I stole such fire,
Which bold mystery, I so needed to acquire.

Go tell the folks at Netflix, They'll say likely story,
Or you could say your dog likes DVD chips, and tell the truth that's boring!

I knew you in a previous lifetime, You were my previous lifetime gal.
I knew you so well it's frightening, Now you're my present life pal.

Mercury's going retrograde, time to stop writing poems.
Rhyme instead what I paint on pots, in my kiln I'll be baking soon.

A bloodless word has made us tire,
A gutless world that went vampire.

You jumped in deep scheisse, taking tea with Carol's hatter,
Pump up your siz-e, and make that devil madder!

I'm goin' down, had my precious blood!
To another town, to another bed of mud!

To whomever you've barked, wherever you blacked it
Your curses in the dark, will one day be enacted.

Life is a rumble where we all get to fumble
Get out and choose, if you're not wearing your juice!

Religion's a crucible that holds molten and unknown,
Vision that's reducible, into what's golden and forlorn.

My father was a wolfhound, my mother was a terrier,
He would rather run for love, and then come home to marry her.

What's indivisible and isn't named, . . . is fleeing,
But with that deserved name, . . . is seen.

Make yr passion yr passion then yr passion's won't break,
but if yr passion's yr job then your passion won't slake!

Tigers roam the imagination, whales below in dreams.
Birds over fly our nation, we long for what she means.

Human survival is not her game
Even our Bible can't make her tame.

Thought is craved by soul, as water abhors a drought.
Soul gives thoughts to mind, as coal gives watts to light.

As Oceans Tide

Ever since you left my light,
I saw the world in black and white.

The dark you took when you went away,
your heart sends back as sparks today.

Love that Buddha, and that hawk!
What dove he's true to makes me gawk.
That jade gremlin? I'm not tremblin!
He's got no belly, He's made of jelly.

When Raptors fly, over lands and fields,
It just about ruptures, our plans with Israel.

Water brought pain, from a tyrant above,
He's not stopped the rain, and seems tired of love.

Take all you've assumed, and all you hold dear,
Assume it's all doomed by your innermost fear.

Break out your shovels, take out some seed,
Plant lines of sweet clover, and stand by to weed.

Bedecked with diamonds, collared with pearls,
Heck I'm just rhyming, because I like them curls!

Bernd and I we like the crow,
'Bert and I' is from Down East though.
Birds in Brooklyn? - there are lots!
Sparrows, falcons, . . . Triceratops!

In the air and on the ground, a hawk will stalk, without a sound!

Every Pharaoh with a harem and a scarab ring,
Dreads the power of the net and the Arab spring.

The sacking of a goalie on account of a howler
Lacks all humanity especially this hour.

Ces cerveaux ne sont pas faibles,
un veut manger de ce pain sur table!

Des grandes penses, ils sont mieux,
Je veux dancer avec les deux!

When I talk to her, she's sweet to me,
And when she balks at words, I eat a Parle G!

If the Higgs boson,
Had the inclination to think,
One might read of quantums,
Written in Higgins ink.

The origins of Easter aren't at all Jesus,
But a goddess named Ishtar, so burn that old thesis!

My son with his stubble, says the world's at peak beard,
Hirsute chins make for trouble, when eating gets weird.

My flask runneth over, with the smell of your skin,
. . . Specific task odors in cuticular hydrocarb-in.

The sources of rhyme cast a bottomless spell,
Of course like the Nile, they pass time by as well.

A message sent, by the fire stoking,
What is meant, by all this poking?

I had friends who learned to fly
But when they talked, began to die,

They muttered aloud then heard a call,
Fluttered about, and began to fall

When you're painted red as wrath,
Be sainted by my tea-water bath.

Chartreuse eggs? I like the color.
The question begs: 'Who's the mother?'

I glazed and loaded ninety-nine bowls,
In five days time, the kiln will cool,
Then all these bowls will want some tea,
Poured within to give them souls.

You're messin' with me, but I'm missin' you.
 Please let's wait patiently, 'till our moment comes through.

What adds but cannot think, then ferments to a hearty drink.

Inspired a notion of a force unseen
Sits between me and what you're seeing.

On motion'd feet I carry all speech,
For when you eat, I cannot speak.
As oceans tide, I sally forth.
All your life, then when you goeth.

The death of one great, the cause of what's wild,
Reminds us we're late, to pause for our child.

See actors, sharp on stage, 'Neath clover, dark in shade.
Above them, a ficus forest, 'Neath them, a fawn adores us.

The Wind of Fortune

At riptide in a town that was tawdry and dark
I met an old fish with a guitar made of bark.

Ego loves the fox, sunlight tries the dark . . .
Should we lie down in a forest? Or go to town in a park?

Whether any Euro members mesh,
Germany will take a pound of flesh.
Printed funds from a paper sock,
To buy Grecian homes on a bare white rock.

Medicine or poison, overdone, or done just right .
True I’ve drunk so much, I've almost lost my sight.

Caffeine flows, I pee it away, Poisons created unfortunately stay.
A fair trade from coffee black, Kali’s drink, welcomes me back.

A lofty spire makes a crow come inquire,
And perch to look out below.
The heights of empire shall not equal a flyer,
Such as the most humble crow.

Who from the Crypt does first appear?
The Raven or her Master.
One drinks and feeds, the subject bleeds,
Death comes on so much faster.

I write what I can, and ink what I may,
and think that I'm fluent, in the news of the day.

Five hundred degrees, too hot to open,
Unless you're a potter, crackin' or dopin'.

A poem's a sandwich or an equation solved,
flowing from language, no reason's involved.

If poetry was wed, to symbolic mathematics,
You'd see verbal solutions to metaphysical antics.

Some says fate is history solved,
All that's done, and can't be shelved.

A romantic wander, through the streets of Queens,
Poetic plunder found some Keats of dreams.

When she grants a few more years,
I'll live and rant without frontiers.

Then she tendered blood for paint,
From poetry, a heart that's faint.

She's a mystery, tied up in code,
So much history, forever stowed.

Above the streets, above our tears,
Over all beings, loom all fears.
Horned beasts that trample lives,
The moveable feast of art will die.

Presume as true that those you miss,
will bloom anew with a makeup kiss.

Wherever you've parked, wherever you've backed it,
Your cars in the dark will one day be compacted.

I awoke to the stink of avarice,
that took us to the brink of precipice.

Ordinary life's full of mad dashes.
At the end of our strife we’re burned into ashes.

Shall I fly to the Yucatan, to play on sand while nude?
Though it's changed to black from tan, by all that BP crude.

To a scattered mind, a pile of rice.
Is a soul contained, but reminded twice.

All year I potted, now I glaze,
Got to fire, just one or two days. :)

Fired mud in temoku, A bowl for me, a bowl for you.

Playing Dylan, glaze re-fillin'.

There is one who lives in me . . . both when I dream and when I see . . .

The Wind of Fortune often blows,
Through wings of Ravens and humble Crows.

A stein of Beer, or a glass of Wine?
Germany or France, either's fine.

The wolf of need versus the wolf of love.
Which one to feed and which one to shove.

Grace looking west at the setting sun,
Is placed to show best her prettiest bum.

After a rich meal with fabulous wine,
Regale me with bitchy tales, as I get into Thine!

This firing's an experiment, who knows how it will turn.
That with some accidents, a fire sale after burn.

What hurts me most about vampires feeding,
Are fees for shirts I post to dry cleaning.

One of the problems with feeding on blood,
Are the troubles of sleeping in a coffin of mud.

The clay on this Earth in the not distant future,
Portrays man with some mirth as a planetary moocher.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pâté with Chanterelles

A caterpillar singing Dylan,
   to his lovely little daughter,
Met a Butterfly that was chillin',
   in a pool of Muddy Water.

A caterpillar took his rest, in a chilling mystery thriller,
   Met a sudden bookish death, by a serial butterfly killer.

A caterpillar sadly sitting,
   through a chilling mystery thriller,
Had her body badly bitten,
   by a serial butterfly killer.

When a caterpillar stewed, "I'll never get fine clothes."
   A butterfly bought him a suit, "For my caterpillar bro!"

A Butterfly played a clever Metaphor,
   His poetry got engraved, on a Caterpillar's door.

A tiny Butterfly sang a killer metaphor,
   The poetry he sang, hung on a Caterpillar's door.

A Caterpillar climbed, to a Butterfly's front door,
   So poetry grows sublime, on the shores of Metaphor.

Scanty and bare, what don't we like?
   Bra and panties, take a hike.

I heard a call, and wrote this ditty,
   Knowing well that graffiti's seedy.
Made it rhyme, and got it punning,
   arranged in time, and made it funny.

Au Frontenac à Montréal
I bought pâté with chanterelles.
I sought my queen in the rez-de-chaussée,
Après j'ai pris, un petit café.

Raymond Catalan wouldn't fit,
   Not in our car, nor the back of it!

I knew a poet, whom little was lost-on,
   He didn't know it but his name was Drew Boston.

The mortgage mess is a full-scale eruption,
Sordid bets, with bales of corruption.

Professor Newt once took a sack,
. . .  of government loot, from Freddie Mac.

These bankers whine, but act so noble,
     like John Corzine of MF Global.
He's got some gold in his knapsack,
     since he sold his stock of Goldman Sachs.

Republican candidates have Alzheimer's bad.
Can't remember dates, or who is whose Dad.

No sane reason to speculate,
 . . . that ancient treason was Hecate bait.
A Turkish dish writ on Grecian lace,
 . . . sent a kiss from Samothrace.

Milky silk and silken skin,
Beneath her kilt, I looked right in!

Permission requested to write some poems,
that won't be found in a reputable tome.
They might be struck down, but once on the town,
their mission's to romp as they roam.

I beseech you, are these leechees?
Or Leeches with Beach leaves?
Eyeballs for my highball?

Irene brought doom, duress and bleeding,
Her cost entombs success that's fleeting.

Money prowls through indebted streets,
Something growls, but nothing to eat.

Greedy feeding at the trough,
weeping wives and lovers lost,
Brooks and Murdoch not enough,
to pay busted lies, and karma tossed.

The brute refuted a working gal's rage,
But information she looted put DSK in a cage.

What feat or race of mortal men,
Could face or beat an Andromedan?

What fruits of bankruptcy corrupted the feast;
The boots of Italy, that stepped on Greece!

Get lost Silvio! Call and ring him!
Tell the truth he has no lingham.
Imperial love at last has soured,
On Berlusconi, master coward.

Papandreou withstood populous rage.
Hard to do, it takes courage.
But Berlusconi, across the sea,
Won't resign, until forced to flee.

Rupert M is on his knees,
   before Her Majesty the Queen,
The travesty now is what he's blown,
   and all the TV she's seeing!

Don't buy those bonds don't be such saps!
No putting off a financial collapse.

Who caused it all? I'm not talking,
But it isn't the fault of the subprime Balkans.

Papandreou the Fearless lives to fight,
An honest PM from a Greece in plight.

Berlusconi scorned the fuss,
Dines alone on Italian puss.

Berlusconi won't take aid,
From the one and only IMF maid.
If she were younger he might have asked,
For bunga-bunga, those times are past.

Greek bonds are weak,
German banks are wormy,
Thank the French, the stench is germy,
Italian paper's coming down,
A fire-sale in your home town.

The Mantis Male

After great Sir Walter got beheaded
They ate his daughter's brain, not breaded.

Such was life in this brave New World,
Where to survive, colonists ate young girls.

Get out your tomatoes and forget that tornado,
I'll massage your labido 'til it feels like Play Dough!

A torrent began of pagan words,
So a poem came and torched my earth.

I'm letting go of old tea-bowls,
Watching them flow to dear old souls.

I left, all packed, in a rental car,
But won't be back 'til I travel far.

Tantric experiments in symmetry,
Time got folded, literally.

The circles I travel in are like fabric unravelling.

When your lot in life is a salary,
You put salt in the pot from a company.

A train so needs a load of coal, yeah,
A shame no weed for old soul yoga!

One Bufo marinus, got to know Jesus,
Amplexed before sex, on females he seize-ed.
Bufo this Cane Toad, fast-tracked to Australia,
He aspired to sainthood, on the backs of femalia.

I once knew a pimp, a Mantis Shrimp,
Colorful, but decidedly fierce.
He met a sea-horse, a metaphor of course,
For his lover who liked to get pierced.

One Pimp who knows nature's carnality,
Is the Mantis Shrimp, he blows with finality.

The recessive painter colors for who?
An incessant prayer that's greater than you.

The Fed has set its oatmeal to bubble,
Face well away, or else there'll be trouble.

Sympathy for old friends, with coins on Mt. Gox,
Gold makes no amends, they've both got the pox.

Booked to stoke wood, from midnight to dawn.
Look into the kiln, third eyelid withdrawn.

All your guts know rot is balmy,
Roots grow back a thought that's calming,

A progressive writer, tools wit in a blog.
The aggressive fighter, duels with fog.

The rogue-est of states is run by a young-un,
The lowest-est of fates is fun for Kim Jong Un.

Many say love's an emotion,
Others say love's in the head.
Some complain love's a commotion,
And maintain it should stay in your bed.

As a Mantis Male,
 . . . I have a fantasy,
It's to grab your Mantis tail
 . . . and then to bed with Thee!
But as a Mantis Man,
 . . . I know reality,
You plan to eat my head instead,
 . . . the moment I bed with Thee!

Whatever you want to make,
 . . . is what you'll eventually be.
However many mistakes it takes,
 . . . shouldn't matter a whit to thee!

To my Mantis-wife,
I’ll dish my fantasy,
I’ll pray and wish my Damnedest-life
That you never prey on me!

If a Mantis-thee, is my fantasy,
I wish you'd grant us, prey on me!

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