Writing

Big Fish

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Many thanks to Gyroscope Review for publishing the following poem in their Winter 2017 issue: 

Big Fish

                                         —restaurant & bungalows

Last year, a beach-view balcony

  a midnight breeze brought salt

    thirsty lime juice on our lips

.

At lunch, cotton-stuffed cushions

  tables tall as crisscrossed knees

    curries spiced with dragon weed

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This year, a cold-water room out back

  garden dogs, mosquito verandah

    laptop lines and letters glow

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Tonight, back for another sea breeze

  pineapple curry on chicken and rice

    I breathe the freedom absence brings

.

Your absence, a ghost seated beside me

  stirs her own papaya pleasure

   same same, yes yes, but different

.

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Moleskine: December

Been thinking a lot of Montevideo… sketched a few things from Plaza Independencia…

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These were done super quick, rapidamente, sketching past the fear that they’d be bad…

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Went last night to the Hotel Rex for a reading of San Francisco travel writers…

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Had to sketch stuff quick before it moved…

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The reading was over in less than an hour… Stuff don’t last long… Gotta catch it on the fly…

Afternoon in Amsterdam

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Many thanks to Sandy River Review for publishing (most) of the following poem in their Fall 2016 issue.

Afternoon in Amsterdam

                                                                     —for Roland Möe

Forget the red-light district

. toothless skirts from overseas

.. imported age-old fantasies

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I ask the way to the Van Gogh show

. a bearded local walks me there

.. we smoke a bowl on a smoky bench

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Inside, alone, nose close to canvas

. amazed by heavy strokes of pain

.. such violence in a starry sky

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Someone tugs my sweater sleeve

. that beard with marijuana breath

.. twice my age, here to persuade

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I say I’m hungry, leave the show

. he follows, knows a place not far

.. leads me back to his second-floor flat

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Up steep and narrow bohème steps

. he serves up bowls of stovetop gruel

..  veggies and grains, a sweet-spice stew

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Once he tastes, I try a bite

. smoke another bowl, relax, unwind

.. he lays a lazy hand upon my knee

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Downstairs, distressed, I say I’m beat

. heading back to my hotel to sleep

.. he begs me not to go—Please, stay

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Half his age, afraid of his long song

I find my way to the red-light zone

.. still unsure if any road leads home

 

The Tao of Doing Less

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Many thanks to the California State Poetry Society for publishing the following poem in California Quarterly.

 The Tao of Doing Less

                                                            —Koh Tao, 2012

All night, breezes brush the trees

  palm fronds imitate the rain

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When light appears, I rise from bed

  slip into the hammock on the stoop

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Dogs already up and down the beach

  island mynas pecking fallen garden seeds

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It’s enough for me, this warm humidity

  this balm to calm my aimless wandering

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Each morning, we wake to reinvent ourselves

  each day attempts to best the day before

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Though not today, not in this old hammock

  not with time before me like an open road

.

This morning brings its gift of slow simplicity

  nothing but nothing wrapped in nothing

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I light a cigarette, take a sip of water

  scratch a bite that itches on my arm

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I have come so far to do so little

  give me more, give me more, give me more

Long-Tail Taxis

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Many thanks to Marathon Literary Review for including the following poem in their June 2015 issue.

Long-Tail Taxis

                                           —Gulf of Thailand, 2012

Overcast dawn, low tide gray
..long-tail taxis bob awaiting rain
….waters to rise, to start their day

Tethered to trees, long rough ropes
..sitting still as Buddha grins
….quiet squirrels in coconut trees

One boat fat with jungle fruit
..Thai flag flapping, edges affray
….suns and moons of salty spray

I am a squirrel at a teakwood table
..curry and rice and coffee consumed
….waiting, too, for clouds to clear

That girthy garden statue squints
..always aware of this one moment
….low tide, high tide, water waist or ankle deep

Breakfast by Myself

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Many thanks to the editors of Gyroscope, an online literary review, for including the following poem in their January 2016 issue:

Breakfast by Myself

                                                             —Pattaya, Thailand 2013

To start, I spark a cigarette

..remove my frames so I can’t see

….the stares of strangers passing by

……their kind, misguided sympathy

 .

They must presume I must be sad

..sitting solo at a table set for two

….no hand to squeeze, no one to thank

……for sparing me their sorry stares

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But I’m not blind:  I stare, too

..couples leaning back in wicker chairs

….some laconic, poking at porridge

……each alone devising their escape

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Others gab, chatting up the rain

..jabber rolls like rice across the floor

….bored companions act amused

……grateful to be spared my sorry state

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Yet I am not alone, not with paper

..not with more than fifty years of ink

….not with you a world or life away

……you now nodding—yes, yes, yes

.

Milano

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Many thanks to Amarillo Bay, an on-line literary magazine, for publishing the following poem in their November 2015 issue.

Milano

                        —Easter, 1980

Most everyone’s gone for the holiday

or gone to church or shut away at home

the streets have surrendered to belfry chimes

to flocks of pigeons, swirls of last night’s trash

for lunch, we lick ice cream and save our cash

for dinner: steaming pizzas spiced with thyme

strange goat cheese, drizzles of oil from Rome

we eat, drink wine, and ask for more ashtrays

Years pass: I lose the urge to smoke but not

the flat image of that fat pizza man

his two fat sons and daughter, his thin wife

that day, we feasted: gluttons at the trough

some, instead, labored: blessing us with hands

with hopes they might attain eternal life

Jupiter Gone Retrograde

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You may have felt it.  Jupiter went retrograde back on December 8th.  It’s maybe why you’re withdrawing more than usual this holiday season.  When Jupiter turns backward, it’s time for active things to slow.  It’s time to look inward, to re-examine old philosophies, to grow from recent wisdom.  When Jupiter goes retrograde in Leo, that hot fiery ego becomes the focus of our introspection.  If lucky, we catch a glimpse of our true selves, the ones we’ve tucked away for no one else to see.

Myself:  I’ve hardly left the house the past few weeks.  I’m adapting a novel from a screenplay I wrote a few years back.  Turns out, a novel is so much more cinematic.  A novel’s narration allows for inward introspection, and much of my personal retrograde focus is appearing in the emotional lives of my characters.  (It’s hard to explain and probably foolish to try.  But that’s my inward journey.)  Jupiter goes direct again April 8th.  By then, I hope to complete a draft of this novel. Before that, Mercury goes retrograde on January 21st for three weeks.  At that point, things might come to a downright halt.

“Days in Pattaya”

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Many thanks to Segue, an online literary journal published by Miami University of Ohio for including the following poem in their Fall 2014 issue.

Days in Pattaya

                                          —Thailand, 2013

 On aching hot days, I pray for cool dusk

  band of orange across the western sky

    rising moon, planets, stars

      each an old acquaintance—silent, serene

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Come sunset, as thirsty mozzies swarm

  as motorbikes buzz, I dream of dawn

    band of orange across the eastern sky

      smooth beach bare of night

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Mornings, sizzling like a plate of eggs

  I pray again for dusk—all its disappointments

    my monkey mind cannot sit still, cannot

      find satisfaction in a cup of tea

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Day by day, I plant no purpose here

  only pen and paper, only hope

    a garden might bloom, leaves full of fruit

     a summer flower bending toward the fall

Mercury Goes Direct

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After the past three weeks, a retrograde Mercury turns direct again today.  Like any Mercury-retrograde period, these past few weeks were filled with travel and communication snafus; yet this was also, as usual, a great time for looking backward — to analyze past projects and endeavors, to determine what’s best to leave behind, to decide what’s best to keep going forward.  For me, this past retrograde period was great for revision.  I revised ten poems originally drafted during the summer of 2013.  Three months from now, when Mercury turns retrograde again for another three weeks, I’ll revise more of those older poems.  For now, I’m looking forward to learning new skills with photography and video, planning my classes for the spring semester, and making new friends.  Bottom line:  It’s a new day with new possibilities.  That’s always good!  (Plus, with a little luck, the Giants may yet walk away with another World Series.)

“Time Zones”

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Many thanks to riverSedge: A Journal of Art & Literature published by The University of Texas-Pan American for including the following poem in their Fall 2014 issue.

 Time Zones

                                        —Taiwan, 2012

We fly all night, escaping yesterday

   Pacific asleep behind us 

 

Strange to bend the flimsy arm of time

   imaginary lines on manmade maps

 

In my seat, earplugs hush the engine hum

   a blindfold brings back history

                    *

A decade ago, I sat like a stone

   shot like a bullet through the midnight sky

 

Since that flight, now wed and fled

   father of a summer sprouting son

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Each season, every afternoon

   another new mark on the laundry wall

 

It’s All Good

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When we got back from Thailand, she said she couldn’t “see” me anymore — “no phone calls, no emails, no texts.”  She said she was setting me “free.”  During the five months we dated, she noted, I hadn’t written her a single poem.  That hurt, she said.  Up until our breakup, I hadn’t written any poems for more than a year.  Oddly, her disappointment inspired me.  Freedom always breathes an air of opportunity.

Yo Baby

                                —August 2014

 A tsunami arrived that day

  you spread your jam

    on my smooth sand

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A hurricane blew

  a ukulele tune

    farther and farther, out to sea

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 In your summer absence

  autumn winds arrived

    warm air oiled up the beach

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And that icy-hot sun

  your sun, ever present

    finally set one dawn

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Now all the birds fly free

*