eyeing the caffeine

delays in good old customer
service, the batching of
work, duplication of minutes
across a pastel wall shielded
by obituaries for spiteful
clouds, rounded in their
tired introspection and moot
rebuttals, hissingly solemn.

first day back, eight tall
canisters of coffee burn
while the power goes out
and we look around, see
how many slips need a
home, a pinch, cardstock
in the brightest blue, my
coveted stamps finding
refuge in the bag of our
most reliable deliveries.

first-time consultations are
really just several prolonged
rounds of peekaboo, but we
often write up stories as to
why no one saw us, and why
no one sees us pouring life’s
catalysts the way pretty folks
do, poised and undistracted.

Cat No. 122 of the 500 Cats Project

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clumsily, in taste

she ate crème brûlée with the bluntest fork.
this afternoon, her first time.

she wanted to tell the world and its
mother that she finally knew what
she had missed, what she had feared,
and all she could only read about
between walls so thin like the red worn
by crisp, dainty apples washed with joy.

morning is rarely missed, returning too soon
with birds in the middle of gossip’s fifth round
piercing the lightest blue, and she’ll learn to
make some for herself, plastic spoons aplenty
as the clock does stand oh so wonderfully still.

it was never too late for the girl
who shook and cried after an unbroken fall.

Cat No. 109 of the 500 Cats Project

he that is preoccupied

I shook my head at pancake syrup
because I knew it’s your tool
when words fall within the cracks
and spaces that even lizards avoid
after offering excuses no one buys.

Dishes are toppling over
themselves in a room dark like
autumn days should become,
murkier still as you dance those
crooked steps disregarding mind.

Your lips move as midnight moves
closer, openings seal like tape
and the locket hanging to disagree
breaks at the hinges, paper photo
ripping without the unfelt touch.

Television blared the day I knocked
and you told me to call back, that
you were busy, in a conference
that did not result in a solid deal
to ease your labored breathing.

Cat No. 90 of the 500 Cats Project

Scraped Knees by Kristine Brown

Hermione Flavia at CravenWild has written a lovely review for my collection, Scraped Knees. She hosts a blog ample with feedback on books, cosmetics, and more. Stop by at CravenWild on your next coffee break, and feel inspired!

CravenWild

Poetry is a funny thing. It’s kind of forced on us in school, and becomes something we love or hate, something that bores us to tears or moves us deeply. It’s also something that, well, a lot of modern hipsters like to think they’re poets, right? Poems are a lot like man-buns, lumberbeards, Mac laptops in Starbucks and toting copies of Nietzsche that you’ve never read.

But poetry can also be Wordsworth, Byron or Maya Angelou. Or Eminem for that matter.

Kristine Brown, to get to the subject at hand, sent me an email asking me to review her little chapbook of poems, Scraped Knees, published by Ugly Sapling. I got the good vibes from her, so I said yes, though I don’t normally deal with poetry in this blog. I do happen to quite like poetry.

The book itself you can see in the picture above, it’s a neat…

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Construction in Expression – Holding Pattern/Joyride

“… it’s easier to get ahead over the corpses of those who disrespect you than it is to ride their coattails.”

I’ve recently found myself interested in compiling quotes. Oftentimes, they are silly, nonsensical, and essentially, fodder to save whatever tiny notebook I have on my nightstand that’s about to hit the trashcan. Lately, I’ve been scribbling down words of an angry Mel Gibson. As some of you know, I have what the socially prudent would call a fiery temperament. Aside from verbal assaults and racial slurs dismissed in a discussion on alcohol, Mel has some pretty interesting things to say. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, he professes to “murder inanimate objects.” The ability is so impressive that we should watch him “choke a toaster in the morning.”

It’s all quite amusing, but are the rants constructive? If I were to compile a book titled Quotes of Mel Gibson, would it be anything more than a list you find in your supermarket’s Cosmopolitan that details sixty-nine ways to please your man with a chocolate eclair? I highly doubt it.

Recently, I was privileged with reading and assembling over sixty poems from J. Walter Falconer’s blog, Holding Pattern/Joyride. Some pieces are worthy of an aching chest, others read like battle scenes from fantasy novels I’m too intimidated to open, but all the poems saturate, ideal for any weather and worthy of multiple re-reads. I’ve found myself doing this quite a bit, visiting the blog, admiring the precision in Falconer’s stanzas, and more so, reminding myself that my issues, both internal and interpersonal, aren’t unsolvable and can certainly be articulated in less than abstract ways.

I’ll reiterate that Holding Pattern/Joyride is more than a poetry blog. It’s a collection of writing that likely appeals to an ample span of readers. Students, nature lovers, hunters, enthusiasts of health, medicine, and psychological complexities. And let’s not forget those angsty people like myself who need a bit of a grounding. My obstacles aren’t necessarily insurmountable, and the grievances and ambivalences I clumsily attempt to juggle aren’t exactly sixteen-pound bowling balls.

If time allows, I highly recommend you read the blog from first entry to the most recent. Holding Pattern/Joyride is more than a glimpse into the happenings of a poet. Here, we have a cancer survivor embarking on patient advocacy, a friend with advice regarding relationships gone sour, the cool guy at the coffee shop who gives me the gritty details of what it’s like to be in grad school, and how working in a lab isn’t to be glamorized. There’s a poignant bit about the kind impartiality of animals we hold dear. As someone who frequently finds solace in the company of other friend’s cats as I save for my own, I can only smile at the declaration of “No prejudice here, no sir,” followed by an entry on therapy animals.

Indeed, not everything’s permanent, and the idea of the world constantly fleeting makes me pretty anxious. Self-identity is often muddled, and still, at twenty-five, my coping skills need work. Falconer’s blog reminds me of this, but not so patronizingly. It’s kind of like a self-help book, but better. A compilation of tips, poetic, detailed, and structured with a purpose that directs me away from the sinkhole angst can sometimes lead us to, including recorded arguments we’ll likely soon regret.

smugly

your worries amuse,
as I lay here, quiet.

a fence deterring
an awkward climb.

fall to the ground,
and questions

from Mom.
angry, and disturbed

as she clambered to bed,
reaching for the covers.

naps at a time
ideal for fried eggs

are the new paradigm.
but I pretend, conformity flat.

you walk a little closer,
and I open one eye.

another step forward
wouldn’t be smart.

*(Hardly Visible) Cat No. 25 of the 500 Cats Project

Chianti, beaches, beautiful women, and paradise in Rumors of Cortez

“Henri asked the angel what happened if you  had nothing to possess, his face pressed to the glass, trying to see the empty fields below.

The angel said, then the light will descend upon you and you will be clothed in it.”

Jeffrey Levine, man of assorted talents, not only writes poetry but maintains a blog at http://jeffreyelevine.com/, walking aspiring authors through the writing and traditional publishing processes. Here I came across Rumors of Cortez, a 2005 collection of poetry assembled in five parts. Often massaging a worry stone as I think of which of my many thoughts to say or write down, I thought I’d buy a copy, and take some time to listen. I tell you, these 83 pages of linguistic melody will be read, re-read, and kept as inspiration, both stylistically and conceptually.

Levine incorporates the extended line, while few poems in Rumors are presented with considerable white space. The writing I would call demonstrative of stream-of-consciousness or continual flow has the potential to overwhelm, bog the reader down and perhaps frustrate her to the point that she does away with the work. Rumors doesn’t do this. Each piece guides you on a journey, walking on a Downtown sidewalk where a beautiful woman waits, to admiring the majesty of the sun-kissed Galapagos. Of course, Part IV’s sojourn into Rome with Orpheus and Eurydice may emerge most memorable to readers. It can definitely hold its own among accompanying pieces, though verses of the Adam and Eve we can all relate to serve well as a sensual prelude. Where love drops by, longing lingers. “There’s a Hole in the Screen” reminds us,

“Bach was right. Joy is all in the desiring.”

Wanting, possessing, remembering. Levine’s implementation of these potentially heart-wrenching topics works to carve an image you can take anywhere, a fantastic conversation starter. Something relatable to much of what you see everyday. Those who appear in Rumors – Nana, Henri, Caruso, and others – possess a longing for love, adventure, passion. Chopin, Eurydice, Orpheus, and other prominent figures aren’t so intimidating when we see that they too, are blushingly imperfect. Remember a time you were so preoccupied with a gadget, a hobby, a video game? Orpheus develops a fixation with his camera, while Eurydice ventures through the catacombs, alone. I found this scene most striking in that it reminded me of relationships where one felt guilt, persisting in a disconnect while the beloved other was so close by. Think the man on his computer, surfing the Web, while his wife is asleep in the other room, wishing they could spend just a little more time together.

Levine couples the classic and contemporary to where the two become one. In essence, Rumors is “stopless.” I read these poems at a moderate pace, absorbing the richness of each long line, breathing in the fragrance of beaches, oceans, seagrass, the grand Pacific. The vitality of red, photographs of paradise, and descriptions of birds with personality recur throughout Rumors. While readers may leave this work thinking about that Ferrari, its preceding trinkets lend the collection a touch so richly organic.

Often, in the world of the average, everyday reader, life gets overwhelming. Simply, it’s “stopless.” Rumors serves as a constrained, yet intricate alternate universe, albeit so realistic. For the traveler, these poems may bring back fond, spectacular memories, despite the problem of characters forgetting from time to time. And even for one who hasn’t wandered out of her nest for quite a while, Rumors can comfort. Inspire. Inform. Pick up a book on French. Get introduced to Descartes. Learn basic Italian, and grow familiar with regional recipes. Plan that trip to Rome. Easter Island, Puerto Ayora. As the poem “Comprimario” states:

“When one is ready to leave, even a single wooden spoon is enough to stir the world.”

Rumor of Cortez is a worthy guide to worlds within a globe that keeps on spinning. Levine writes, “In our country the only currency, my best girl, is longing.” In multiple aspects, these poems suggest that maybe, we are all from that country.