Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rejected by the New Yorker

Three of my poems were rejected by the New Yorker. Yay! I'm waiting to hear back from Poetry Magazine, I have four poems off to them. Getting a poem published in either, for me, would be like a squirrel from my backyard getting a gold in weightlifting at the next Olympics.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Trying to Locate a Scary Book, Recognize this Symbol?

This has been driving me nuts. See the above symbol? It comes from a book I read back in elementary school, juvenile fiction. I can't remember the name of the book! Hopefully somebody can tell me the name or author of the book if I describe the story. Main characters are an older brother, younger sister. I think they are pre-teenagers, but just barely. Brother gets a job mowing the small town cemetery's grass. Sister tags along, because the graveyard is cool and creepy. The brother makes wisecracks about the various people buried there and makes up a series of satirical rhymes using names on tombstones. Then we are introduced to a mystery -- there is a mausoleum, or large gravestone with an angel on the top of it. The angle points towards a part, or corner of the graveyard, where a certain plot is. This plot is where a family is buried, reputed to be witches. The person who put up the angle blamed this family for the untimely death of their son. The kids examine the cursed plot tombstones, but there is not much of interest. Then, before Halloween, the kids notice that someone has drawn a symbol on one of the gravestones. In red paint, I think. This (above) is the symbol. Then some stuff happens, the kids have their eye on the last living member of the "witchy" family -- an old woman who they are naturally very afraid of. The girl ends up getting kidnapped by the old woman, who turns out to be a witch. The old lady tries to bargain the girl's soul away to a demon the witch invokes, but instead the demon tricks her and turns the old witch into a Douglass Fir. Ring any bells? Book had some illustrations in black ink.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

every time you think back

for my father

now i am away from there

separated by not only distance

but time

i write about this and that

and i see that even my worst

wasn't that bad

i find i miss people

not the places

and also by remembering

i am forgetting

it is some kind of rule

every time you think back

a part of the past fades away

slowly slowly fades away

oh it isn't so bad

this melting away of facts

of details or faces

otherwise it would be

like having to hold

a red hot iron in your hand forever

yes all things subside

they must settle

and be gone

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Ride for the Abbot

You were a fraud monk. The abbot of Sera Mei monastery knew this, but he ordained a few young men who were studying with you. The abbot never outwardly criticized you for being a phony, for having no faith, but later after the ordinations he wouldn't come into your house. He stood by the curb, outside on the sidewalk in the cold San Jose night. After the ordination you giggled, sitting in your snug little house. You giggled and giggled at how successful things were going. You laughed because you had asked the abbot to come in out of the cold and the abbot had refused. I think you were the only person there who truly understood what that meant, the abbot not coming in to your house. The abbot waited and waited for his ride while you didn't give a goddamn, because he wouldn't come in. June and I asked the abbot if he was okay. He stood there for about 40 minutes while I tried the phone number to the place he was staying, it was wrong. June and I drove him home. When we got to the place, he invited us in. We sat in the living room and then he started to laugh. We drank tea and he asked us many questions and told us his stories. We got the correct phone number for the house he was staying at. When I called to see how the abbot was few weeks later it was hard to hear the person on the other end of the line, and besides they couldn't understand english that well and said I must have the wrong number.

poem/ behind


what a
i call
a writer

i have
to keep a
pad on
me at all

leave a
on the
side of the

you never
see it

Thursday, October 11, 2007

(and i wish i/ brought my gloves)

we head into chicago
riding the cta

i look out as we
go along
soon it will be rainy
and dark all
the time cold
then the predictions
will come true

they all say we'll
find the winter here
we'll yearn for
that "extravagant
california lifestyle"
we left behind

but i don't
tell them i disagree
with how terrible
the weather will be
i let them

chicago rises
buildings higher
and higher as if
the skyline was

we get off
at adams
when we exit to
the street i
can see the art
institute and
get a blast of wind
from the lake

you recoil and
so do i brrrrrrr
we recover
winter will be fun
i say to you

(and i wish i
brought my gloves)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Cigarette Butt

One day, not long ago, a cigarette butt was looking up at the wide blue sky. For some reason, cigarette butt had very good eyesight. It watched the clouds going on their way east, and it thought about life.

Being smoked, cigarette but had every reason to feel morose, but for some reason it didn't feel depressed. It thought back idly to the proud day it was a whole cigarette, with all its friends in the cigarette pack. They were fresh and new, packed in by a machine that made hundreds and thousands of them, all day long. It was so exciting at the factory. Many of cigarette butt's associates thought that they were like soldiers, bound for exotic places far away, over the globe. But cigarette butt's pack ended up at a White Hen liquor store in a suburb of Chicago.

"How I would have liked to have seen the world!" thought cigarette butt, when a cloud wandered by that looked like the Eiffel Tower.

A robin landed near cigarette butt. "Hello, what are you?" asked the bird.

"I was a Camel Light filtered cigarette." said cigarette butt, mater-of-factly.

"Are you good to eat?" asked the robin, looking at cigarette butt with one bird eye closely.

"Not really. All that is left of me is the filter." admitted cigarette butt.

The bird pecked at cigarette butt to make sure this was true.

"Ouch!" said the cigarette butt.

"Okay, well, take care of yourself!" said the robin, and it flew off into the next yard.

After the robin was gone, it was quite for a long time. Cigarette butt was comfortable, because after the robin had pecked, cigarette butt had become wedged & almost completely hidden in a deep crack between two paving stones. Down there was a complicated fascinating fluff from tree leaves, twigs, bits of bark, and below this mixing in was loamy earth flecked with bits of decayed granite.

Cigarette butt became drowsy down there in that secret place, and it decided for all time that life was good. The earth was interesting, and cigarette butt knew it was now becoming a part of it.

Leaves, Twig, Bark

One day, two yellow leaves had a meeting.
"Let's go back to the tree." suggests the first leaf.
"I think that idea is acceptable." says the second leaf.
"I don't think that is possible." says a twig.
"Who let the twig in?" says leaf one.
"Twigs! Just ignore it." says leaf two. "Let us continue with our plans. Now, the tree must be nearby somewhere around here."
"Absolutely." agreed the first leaf.
"Precisely!" added the second leaf, needlessly.
"Hello." said a fleck of bark to no one in particular.
"Hello." said the twig. "Where did you come from?"
"The tree."
"Is it very far away?" asked the leaves.
"Once you get dropped, there will be no going back to it, ever." replied the fleck of bark.
"You said it, brother." said the twig.
Then a small gust of wind kicked up. The leaves, the twig, and the fleck of bark were hurled wide and far and never spoke to one another again.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

a poet/ has no patience


has no patience
for poetry

going out
most of it is
words words
phrases complicated
so involved!

(written for
other poets
who dare not
leave their
ivory towers

or written
for the dead
that he
thinks were
greater than


a fresh
wind blows
through the
small backyard
bringing some
leaves down
by a rabbit

yellow leaves

oak park
october 2007

Dentist Printer

At 6.30 AM this morning, as soon as I am awake, I am unhappy. I have a dental appointment today. I go to the dental office, the Dentist tells me all about "The Da Vinci Code" as he drills and drills and drills and drills and drills and then he gets a bigger drill and drills so it feels like I have a malfunctioning 2 stroke motorcycle engine strapped to my head. More drilling, water splashing, suction, air please, stuffing, pushing, scraping, packing, drying, open as wide as you can, drill, drill, done. Signing the bill on the way out, the dental assistant cannot get the printer to work. It alternately won't print, or it prints the wrong document, shreds the pages it is outputting, jams, or takes forever to print. I watch her try to produce the bill for over 15 minutes. She unplugs the printer from the network, reconnects the printer, partially disassembles the printer, disconnects, reconnects printer, and so on and so forth. She expects me to get impatient at this, but I reassure her I am not impatient. Gradually though, while I am waiting, I start to hear a small child in the back of the dental office crying as the Dentist works on him. I watch the assistant work with the printer as the child's moans and cries evolve to delirious shrieks and screams. The printer being jammed forever doesn't bother me, but the agony of the small child begins to get on my nerves. The assistant pretends she doesn't hear anything, or possibly she is so used to little kids crying at the office -- the sounds do not register. I tell her to fax me a copy of the bill and leave the office. For the next few hours I have a soundtrack lodged in my brain of a small child yelling at the dentist's office. I try to drown this out with heavy metal music, but this phenominon unfortunately has to wear out so slowly on it's own...and eventually it does.