THE 8 POEMS NOBODY WANTED

Word up, yo. I found these poems suffocating in a Google Doc from 2017. I’d sent them all out a million times to a million online journals with no takers (which makes sense).

It turns out I have a connection with the editors of this fine site; I traded 2 canisters of CBD-infused Flonase for them to post these 8 fairly-crappy poems today:

 

The Candle Throws Tantrums Against the Walls

On Christmas morning
I feel giddy with something simple
like a sunbeam flashing
off a metallic pinwheel.

We give Lois a sweater and help her
pass her arms through. The nurse
hands us a Sharpie to write
her name in the collar.

The bright rope that held her thoughts
is slack. I can’t tell if the punch
has grapefruit juice
or pomegranate sherbet.
There’s a man at the piano
with his back turned, turning
pages in a songbook, searching
for Silent Night.

~

Highs and Lows

The dementia ward plays Born to Run
from speakers embedded in the ceiling.
Lois is sad today. She can’t say why.
We walk outside to the reflecting pool.
There’s an airplane above us,
only a handful of people
even know where it’s going. 

~

When the Party’s Over

I watched her walk
across the lawn
with the shower curtain
held high, fresh
from the washer,
headed for the line.
Without being asked,
like a giant pine tree,
I stood there,
worried.

~

The Plague

Like a great darkness it moves
from one leaf to the next
through the thoroughly-washed
50/50 mix. 3 different strains
of lettuce and spinach
succumb to black slime
deep in the unpopular
corner of the crisper drawer.
Armies of manganese
and potassium suffocate
inside the quiet running
of the refrigerator.

~

Married To My Country
-after Wendell Berry

My country and I
trade fake smiles
for months.

There’s no use
to try and seduce
my country.

All my country complains
because the sun won’t walk
in the shoes of the moon.

~

The Cabin Wakes Up

The eyelids of two beagles
and a golden up first with the sun.
A forty-eight-nail tap dance
on the hardwood, their tags
tambourine the water bowl.
Loud cartoons and the empty bellies
of the five and six year old flip on. I rise
because the sun in my face
and a mildew scent on my pillow.

Grandpa starts the coffee quietly.
Grandma against the measuring glass
spazzes eggs with a fork
and the four teenagers begrudge every sound.
Their empty beer bottles, wine bottles
and bottle of rum
stuck to the table on the porch.
Their ping pong balls cornered
and they’re awake but not up

as the adults commit glass-on-glass
atrocities in the trash.
Their worried words
white-hot ping pong balls
from the paddles of their mouths,
and I’ve been that teenager
hearing just enough to know what’s coming
and knowing just enough to stay down.

~

Sweeping Alabama

The dogs–more afraid of stick than bristle–
run and hide as the 5 year old sweeps the walkway
to the cabin and sways to jazz on the radio.

I sweep out the studio that faces the lake
with giant bay windows. Several dead scorpions
cramp the threads of my broom, each in its own
sarcophagus of dog hair, dust and pencil shavings.
The prayer of their tiny claws open and unanswered.

A great drag out the window: wake boarders, skiers
and inner tubers. I wait to see someone swept
from their rope, their bodies skipped like stones
across the waves.

~

Urgent and Damned on the Rio Grande Under the I10 bridge

In a Bronco with tinted windows two teenagers
are locked in an awkward, equal-opportunity
sexual stickiness. There’s also 4 swastikas
spray-painted red on the turquoise supports.
One can smell a dead duck upwind in the reeds
and overhead one can hear the jagged ripping
of motorcycles, the steady forge of 18-wheelers
and the constant crackling of the desert sun.
The scent of fertilizer runoff from the fields
lifts off the river and one can feel the moment
urgent and damned, like a fly with amputated wings.

NIXES MATE REVIEW — NEW POEM UP

I’d like to thank Boston’s NIXES MATE REVIEW for publishing one of my new poems. See the original post here. 

We Don’t Look at Each Other

 

We came to the edge of the forest

to practice the raising of our spirits.

We drove here in reliable vehicles.

We lined them up behind us.

 

A stealth bomber slides

across the sky. I imagine

how thermals feel up

its matte black wings.

I don’t tell the others.

 

One lady raises her open hands

to the damp particles

pumping towards us

from the forest.

She feels the spirit. It’s easy to see.

She jams her hands

back in her pockets

like the rest of us.

 

We’re strangers unkennelled

by irritable attention spans,

dehydrated generosities

and a swirling boredom

with the modern world.

 

Soon we’ll be splashing

gas on the skirt

of this great forest.

Each person will pour

all they’ve got.

 

There’s no sense hurrying

hydrocarbons.

The timer’s set.

 

The headlights at our backs

make it look

like a movie.

Our silhouettes

twitch on the silver

screen of the forest.

 

It’s this last bit of waiting

that burnishes our fear.

THANK YOU CACTI FUR

Thanks to Jim Thompson over at Cacti Fur for publishing these 13 new haiku. Cacti Fur is the only poetry journal in America that would accept these. These 13 haiku got rejected 72 times. Here’s a brief retelling of those rejections:

For rejections 0-10 I remained giddy.

For rejections 11-26 I ate corn dogs or thought that maybe I should find some corn dogs to eat.

For rejections 27-32, which came in the winter, I felt cold on the inside and the out.

For rejection 33, this one never came, I’m guessing the editors were so knocked out by my haiku they just tossed in the towel completely and turned to stone like that one soldier in Clash of the Titans.

For rejections 34-58 I thought maybe all the publishers of poetry in America must clearly be idiots who only publish their white friends. This feelings lasted 46 days and 26 minutes.

For rejections 59-62 I thought maybe I would have better luck being published if my name was Suzy Hiro or Hilario Bustamontes or Mads Kellaway.

For rejections 63-70 I thought maybe I’m a terrible poet and then I told myself that writing is like therapy and then I washed my mouth out with Ivory soap.

Rejection 71 came from the New Yorker, oh Kevin Young, what good are you? You’re a better color than the last dude, but c’mon.

Rejection 72 never came. Rejection 72 was an acceptance letter from Jim Thompson of Cacti Fur. I love you for loving me! But I hate myself for being this needy. Jim, if you are reading this, when can I submit more poems to you, and only you, for rest of my life?

Click here for 13 new haiku by Tim Staley

Here is a picture of me pretending to talk about my 13 new haiku to Kevin Young from the New Yorker: