The Ariel

Kimbell Art Museum, Ft Worth, TX | Turner exhibition, 2022 | 35mm film photo by author

Lashing out, fair rations
the slap and sting
of salt waves mixed
with snow
ice and fire, a cold burn
swirl and tumult of
upturned cargo and souls
nearly foundering
with progress breathless
for the suffrage of a new life


This is the second of three ekphrastic poems I wrote at the Kimbell Art Museum during their exhibition of Turner paintings earlier this year. THIS is the painting the poem is based on. Thanks for reading!

Waterloo

Kimbell Art Museum, Ft Worth, TX | Turner Exhibition, 2022 | 35mm film image by author

The field of death illuminated
Light suspended, in suspension
pigment in medium,
applied, brushed and varnished
but not glossed – so much loss
at what cost
By their own light
those who could not fight
search for signs of life

Wandering in suspension
the crowds pass in
muted tones, hushed and dim
making their own inspection
frame by frame
mostly weighed by age
and time, and glossed
by the wonder of art’s rime


This is the first of three ekphrastic poems that I’m going to share from the trip my daughter and I made to see an exhibition of Turner paintings at the Kimbell Art Museum earlier this year. THIS is the painting that the poem is based on. Thank you for reading!

Missing

Dad, September 2020 | 35mm kodak film (photo by author)

He sits in his usual place, a sturdy ocean of calm waiting. Heavy repose rests, stoic, in his lap, unperturbed by the silence humming in his drums. Gone is the beat that fanned the fire, the flames from his mouth; someone turned off the gas that combusted in his internal engine.

A stroke of bad luck. A rogue droplet, bent upon mischief, scrambled all his eggs. Now a handful of pills dully keep the leftovers warm.

The old stubborn ox put out to pasture, the bull wandering away, while we venture into the neighborhood to plaster up missing signs. Have you seen him? How is he? We look and look. He is there. He is not there.


In honor of Father’s Day, and my Dad’s 81st birthday (which is today!) I decided to share this prose poem I wrote a while back as a prompt response on Medium. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably read me talking about how my Dad had a major stroke in 2020. I try not to let myself think about his current condition or how drastically different he is now from before; when I consider the reality of it, it makes me so sad that I can easily lose sight of the fact that he is still here with us, which feels like nothing short of a miracle.

I know that lots of people say to hug your loved ones, forgive them quick as you can for any grievances between you, life is short and precious, etc and all that blibbety blah those words can be eye-rollers, but for me it’s all so true. My Dad used to exasperate me to no end; now, I would give anything for just 5 minutes with him pestering me like he used to. Things can change quickly, y’all! In my family we have this lesson before us to be grateful for what you have because you never know when it might be swept away.

Happy Father’s Day, all you Dads! Here’s to a day of whatever makes you happy, even (especially) if it’s telling groaner jokes and being obnoxious on purpose.

Live from the beach – a video prompt

Port Aransas, TX

The beach is a poem
In sand and sun, waves and time
A poem without words


Greetings from the beach! How about this – what if the video at the top of this post was a poem prompt? I don’t need it now, because I am there, but I’ll need it when I’m back home and daydreaming about the tide. Want to write to the video? Go for it!

Fog

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center | digital photo by author (using a lensbaby lens)

The night fog
dampens sound
weighs it down
so it can’t rise
to tap at the
window pane or
whisper shout
in my ear

The night fog
turns normal nine
into mysterious
midnight
secrets
breathing on
the glass to
expose ghost
writing left
behind by
unseen fingers
letters lingering
in the dust
for time to find

The night fog
hides darkness
and throws back
light, a shock
of gloss through
the frosted mist
that fights
the odds to
point the way
forward

Just outside
the circle,
silence lingers


Another poem about the night! Thanks for reading!

Packing for the Beach

South Padre Island National Seashore | 35mm slide film, xpro | photo by author

Shade – because there won’t be any
take some from the dark corners
at the back of the pantry
bring a little of the gloamy coolness
that lurks under the trees in the yard

Flip flops – that you won’t wear
because the wet sands sucks at them,
turning them into heel-paddling liabilities

a hat for the wind to steal

clothes you won’t use, except
when forced out of your bathing suit
for the partial respectability of dinner

a book – mostly for bringing home
remnants of salt and sand

buckets of sunscreen

a cooler to weigh down the towels

snacks for the gulls to scream for;
chip-clips to dissuade invetable aerial theft

dreams – to float and drift on the waves;
all the flotsam of a well-loved life
rushing away and back again, zipping off to
imaginary islands, caught in the riptide of summer


Guess what I’m doing. . . . . I noticed the other day that the WordPress app is very convenient for making posts on the fly. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll send y’all some live poetry and photo action from the beach! Thanks for reading – and happy summer, y’all!

At the Cafe

Medium format film image by author

Sidewalk scenes

a good dog
patiently doing
tricks for treats

a small boy
asks for the hot tub
after dinner

an old man
long beard bristling
goes inside

music drifts
outside from inside,
old show tunes

a couple
together but not
holding hands

window seat
a woman reading
now vacant

a young girl
talking on the phone
while she walks

flannel shirt
tied around the waist
makes a skirt

in a mask
a man with a hat
hurries by

the good dog
gets lots of notice
from women

Inside scenes

two people
sit talking loudly
one dances

on a date
or maybe just friends
at present

computers
rule the table tops,
free wifi

teenager
writing and dreaming
of freedom

espresso
machine makes noises
and coffee

one man sits
by the door alone
and busy

a woman
alone with her phone
and coffee

laughing guys
playing a dice game
fill the room

girls whisper
at the big table
together

a mother
trying her best
to relax

rolling dice
clatter and echo
the guys sing

when he left
he looked back at her
with a smile

window seat
no longer vacant
filled by me,
poetic spy


My daughter loves to go for “writing dates” with me at coffee shops. This tradition has evolved from us sitting together to her wanting to be left alone and me going stir crazy because she always wants to stay much longer than I do. Recently we went for one of these rendezvous in the late afternoon, and halfway through my cold brew I realized there was no way I could sit still for more than about 30 seconds at a time (anybody else struggle with caffeine late in the day???). To calm my over-hyped nerves, I started focusing on my surroundings, and lo – this poem appeared.

Thank you for reading!

Lies, Big and Little

Ondu pinhole multiple exposure, Ilford FP4 | photo by author

I’ll tell you lies,
sweet little ones
or big fat juicy ones

I’ll tell you how
the morning whipped in
like a windstorm
and last night fear
pounded on the door
from 3 to 5 am
until four of my neighbors
hopped the fence
to restrain him
then we all sat in the grass
and watched the sun rise
singing hymns
and passing a joint around

I’ll tell you about
a guy I met at a party
who carried a primitive
knife around his neck
to cut ties and bad vibes
this was on the beach
where he had been
swimming with sea turtles
I still have sand
between my toes

I’ll tell you how a group
of rattlesnake handlers
told me in the detail the best
way to prepare the meat
and groused about feral hogs
mowed down from helicopters
how they spoke the calm
language of wild danger
expressing fangs, tuned in
to the ranging dialect
of western nature

I’ll tell you about the
explosive flat tire we
had to change while a
tornado-wielding thunderstorm
bore down on the side
of the highway, drawing
herds of deer out of the
brush, across the street
fence-leaping, white tails
flashing like lightning
as they headed for
clearer skies

I’ll tell you,
and you can listen
but it’s up to you to excavate
the truth of it, should there
be any at all to find


This poem is part 2 of my tiny discourse on “the Muse” – part 1 was yesterday. Recently at a party part of the conversation I had about writing was whether or not there was any truth to it, as in does a poem (or song, as the case was) reflect your life, is it based blatantly or in coded fashion on your life experiences? Or is it lies, wonderful fabrications for the sake of art? Does it matter?

So, I wrote this poem. Which parts do you think are true? And how do you write?