Tuesday, December 29, 2009

*New RANDOM WRITING Workshop Series*

Just a reminder: On Jan. 13, I'm beginning a new RANDOM WRITING poetry workshop series. It will be held on the 2nd and 4th Weds. of each month, at the A.I.R. Studio Gallery in Kingston. The workshops are scheduled to run from 6-8 p.m.

For the first half, I'd like to hear what you're working on, and be open to feedback from others there. In the second half, I'll offer a writing prompt, or you can go with an idea inspired by the writing of others, or your own mind breaths.

$10 per night, 6 workshops for $50. Call to confirm or with questions: 845-339-8686, or e-mail me at dorothyy62@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

*Poem: "Ice Fishing"*

Ice Fishing

You and your father and Karen Carpenter

drive slowly out onto the lake

as far as it's safe, then farther,

windows rolled down, doors unlocked;

or, leashed to a rope for safety,

you or your father slinks across the surface,

cigarettes sending up signals

to the other fishermen:

it's safe, it's safe, it's safe,

then farther still.

You haven't told me yet about the

hairline cracks in your solid Minnesota,

midwest fields, woven plaids of green and grey and brown,

or how to cut a hole in a foot of ice

to get through to the real water,

where fish don't know it's Christmas again,

just when they thought it was safe.

CAR 11/30/09

*Poem: "Fish House- Lake Mille Lacs"*

Fish House- Lake Mille Lacs

Purple rising into pink, into blue,

slateful of snow, one narrow path

plowed up to the fish house,

a fancy one you say, not the

plywood shanties you remember.

I know that blue from Catskill winters, twilight,

punctuated with acorns, twigs,

irreverent leaves freckling the surface.

That clean, blue sheet across the frozen water

must be crisp and neat the whole season

but for a hole, a few footprints,

a few lost souls whose fins freeze

quickly in the Minnesota air.

Many Lakes, you say it's called--Mille Lacs,

Ojibwa by way of French traders,

heat-seeking Canadians just steps

from the border, and with this solitute,

lines we draw between countries,

between each other, declarations

blow apart into so many blue stars,

nestled together in the sky above this shack.

The windows glow yellow, bright,

a bit of warmth in all this consistency,

hope for the fish that remain

that somewhere in this frozen landscape

fire survives.

CAR 12/1/09

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

*Poem: "Mary the Second"

Mary the Second

Luckily, silver becomes me,
shines like a river against my brown skin.
I’ve always been number two.
Even in grief, when we set out for His tomb,
after the soldiers told us where He was stashed,
His Mother tagged along as if we didn't
deserve a little time alone to say goodbye,
like she still didn't trust Him,
didn't trust us.

His buddies ate first, slept beside Him,
asked Him over and over
the obvious questions we had already answered
in the early morning, our time.
He was mine then, but even so,
I could always smell Martha’s oil on His head, His feet,
knew she had been there before me again.

In a previous life, my specialty
was cleaning up afterwards,
comfort, do-overs.
They came to me for something more.
They left with too much.

He called me Beloved.
We bickered and bantered
like an old married couple,
but I knew we’d never marry.
He was a busy man,
never in a place long enough
to pin down about it, anyway.
I like my time alone, too.
After a long day of splitting fish and bread,
who wants to come home to a multitude?

He told the world He cast out my seven demons.
I told Him they were all just friends,
seven veils, seven wonders,
seven deadly sings of joy.
He knew others too, before he got
the nod and wink from Johnny on the Spot.

I introduced Him to the body
He’d only starved and run ragged through the desert.
He made wine from water, brought back the dead,
but never really tasted Himself
before I came along.

So I went to His tomb that Sunday
to bless his battered body with sweet oils myself,
the Sabbath leaving no time for such niceties
(take my advice: never die on a Friday;
your shrift will be short and mumbled),
and like I said, the Mother tagged along.
She never approved of me.
It wasn’t her approval I wanted.

When we got to the tomb,
we saw that somebody had beaten us to the punch.
Somebody had moved the rock!
I ran back to tell the posse.
They didn’t believe me.
They never did listen to a thing I said,
like I got by on my good looks
alone all these years!

He had to tell them Himself,
let that fool Tom poke his fingers
in the hole in His side.
I always knew it wouldn’t last.
Ascension was the last straw.

Now I sell t-shirts at the outlet mall in Tel Aviv.
I sold my story to the Star a while back;
People did a nice thing, too.
I still got it. Men sip from me
like hummingbirds, bees, nervous bridegrooms,
stop for a taste of the eternal,
and go home to meatloaf.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

*Poem: "Donald at Boughton Place"*

Donald at Boughton Place

A small dog darts out in the highway,
but not a dog, a red fox,
drags a grey-furred mass off to the side,
glances back at me when he's safe,
black pointed ears, tail.

Black geese, down for the night,
cluster in twos and threes
don't pay attention as the fox
drags his prey past them.
It's not clear what he's got,
but if it's goose, they don’t care,
engaged as they are in discussions
of weather, direction.

At the reading, on a circular stage
layered like a wooden wedding cake,
Donald Lev is the feature.
He reads love poems for Enid,
ever regretting his choice to leave
the hospital that night and who
knew it would be her last?

Donald, eyes of snow, four separate seasons,
reads Enid's own lament for Sari,
lost biblical sister moved to suburbia,
remembering her desert commune.
Donald won’t be mistaken for a fox,
this lazy-haired poet alone
in his house of lemon balm and books.

Thunder rattles the theater.
Donald is undisturbed.
Red wine trembles in our glasses,
and already Donald has tried
to wipe a spill from his large, white heart.
Too late, it's already stained through.

CAR 7/31/09

*Poem: "Song of Washington Park"*

Song of Washington Park, 5/31/09


I bring my copy of Leaves, mass market paperback,
purchased the summer before I went away to college
at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, Long Island,
with my my birth name neatly written in my 18 year-old hand
in the upper right-hand corner of the first page,
and a bookplate inside the front cover
with my short-lived married name, from when I was into
Aubrey Beardsley bookplates and married names,
both seemingly the thing to do.
In the park is a birthday reading for Whitman, of Whitman,
his "Song of Myself," not about him,
and the weather is clear this year,
but cold, colder than the mall I've just been to,
and the gym I endured this morning.
Listeners are gathered around the mic in lawn chairs,
wearing baseball caps, multicolored shawls,
gloves, scarves and blankets.
My boyfriend is dressed for summer,
white linen jacket, straw fedora, short-sleeved shirt.
Dan, our host, dons his customary black beret.
I have my black jeans, shirt, sandals,
tortoise-edged sunglasses, and nothing more.
My boyfriend retrieves our picnic blanket from the car
and I wrap it around myself, him being stronger,
less inclined to expressions of discomfort,
We who are unafraid of the mic take turns.
Even my boyfriend assists, offers up the unfamiliar lists
to the busy wind, as the sun dodges out
from behind newly leaved trees, new May trees,
new green, suddenly full.
We stand at the base of the Robert Burns' statue.
The mic stand is decorated with Tom's Day-Glo streamers.
One tears off, blows away, and I chase it down, a memento
of Tom, the mic stand, the green.
Power walkers in the park walk more forcefully
when they pass the poetry readers.
Rugby players at the adjacent field,
high strung and giddy with games and the day,
pay no attention, no mind at all.
A jogger heads off in the opposite direction,
bald head gleaming in the distance.
A marching band practices its routines somewhere out of sight,
Elderly sweethearts cuddle on a park bench
under a spreading oak, then come closer,
cross before the mic and readers,
step in unison left to right.
An ice cream truck drives by, Mr. Ding-A-Ling,
and the electronic tune is foreign,
not "The Entertainer," or "Yellow Rose of Texas,"
I hear at home, complete with
automated whinny of a Texas horse.
Two rugby players stop him for treats.


Then I think, this reading should be in my old mall,
mall of my memory, fountain in front of Macy’s
standing in for Robert Burns,
water swishing, gurgling, drowning out
shoppers’ quick steps, clean-shaven cascades,
pocket change minnows glimmering in the pool,
and shoppers rushing past, big, crinkling red bags
stuffed with cashmere jock straps, alligator bras,
nylon nylons, exotic perfumes brewed East of the Expressway.
Should we read on the roof,
plush pads of moss to cushion our steps,
bold gulls improvising blocks from the Sound,
up where we can see Pinelawn in its orderly splendor,
bones as broken in death as in life,
and Adventureland, popping lights, pirate logo,
rocking metal galleon thrilling ticketholders and us?
The human stew remains the same,
though the spices vary.
I take the bus there, the mall, too small for a car.
With Walt’s words to move through my mouth
I see what he would see, the wild frontiers
of A&S, Penneys beyond my $5 spear,
soft pretzel and slushie at McCrory’s before the fire,
Foods of All Nations, where the sugar-covered violets come from,
a book shop at end tip of one wing,
comic books, paperbacks, where I buy my copy, Walt’s book,
carry with me, unread, for decades,
bring to this reading in Albany today,
leave in the car, because I know Dan has a script,
bigger letters for older eyes,
and I do my part, tandoori chicken vapors
mixing with the wind and my hair.
The mic rustles, and Robert Burns
remembers his night, Tom’s beret,
and the snow that surrounded his birth.

CAR 6/1/09

*Poem: "Sherlocks"*


It hasn't been a bar for years,
the Board of Elections office,
uptown all offices now, so at 5 o'clock,
glass doors are locked, plastic blinds pulled
and the homeless take back their places
at the foot of stone basement steps,
down narrow alleys with broken iron gates,
or out in the open, slapdash park,
new tree, glistening green bench where
the tollbooth once stood for the parking garage
that started to crumble, then was demolished.

It hasn't been a bar for years,
but once upon college days it was
the fern bar of fern bars,
actual ferns hung in the front windows,
intimate tables on various levels,
and I was into Sea Breezes, now forbidden,
grapefruit juice incompatible with Lipitor.
My soon-to-be ex-husband drank bitterness
anywhere he could, huge mugsfull.

True, the gods had not been kind to him
in the Good Looks Department.
He was short, very short, and not handsome,
too uptight for sneakers, t-shirts, a bit of beard,
and his friend Joe treated us to drinks
while we worked for his ill-fated city campaign.
I lusted for Joe, and my husband was jealous
of everyone I talked to, and juggled
his own affection for him, their good times,
and me, the unfamiliar woman who had
taken the vows, put on the ring.

He must have thought I'd stop looking then,
made me guilty for still being alive,
and I'm not sure I ever loved him now, really,
certainly never loved Joe, but
I did meet a True Love soon thereafter,
two weeks after I married, in Joe's kitchen.

Joe's mother is dead, and that man
I met wasn't Mr. Right either,
but that's the love that blooms
in me, an air fern needing neither light nor water,
reminding me to never settle, never put up with,
and even in neon pinpoints of barlight,
there are greys we can't imagine when we're
18 or 25, or even 40.
There are teetotallers living a somewhere life
that later, when you are both sober,
arrive gratis from the closed saloon,
mysterious waters suddenly clear,
to sate your deepest thirst, last call,
when you can't stay where you are.

CAR 6/2/09

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

*Poem: "HGTV" *

In those designer homes on TV,
there's no room for prayer flags,
Kwan-Yin cut from a junk mail ad
and thumbtacked to the wood panelled wall,
no thumbtacks at all.

There are no piles of half-read, re-read, soon-to-be read
books next to the bed, beside the wastebasket,
no tissues either that missed the basket,

no magazines opened up to a recipe for Pumpkin Bread
with whole wheat flour, agave nectar and applesauce
on the kitchen counter, though plenty of counter, empty.

There are no birthday cards taped to a doorframe,
no place for unwashed laundry, litter boxes, dirty plates,
burnt toast, yarn scraps, dog-shit covered boots.

Just quiet breath, hands folded to lap,
flat screen TV tuned to the Fireplace Channel,
CD in the player enclosed by an oak entertainment center,

set on repeat-repeat-repeat- to a
copyrighted theme without words,
without staples or a strip of duct tape
to make it home.

CAR 11/5/08

Friday, January 30, 2009

*Poem: "Three Hours"*

Three Hours

Three hours behind me every day
and as I finally my eyes
droop before the DVD de jour,
your evening is just beginning,
supper dishes drying perhaps

if you are one of those that still does that,
or maybe the dishwasher has ceased
its recycled rumble, the sound
you’re unaware of until it stops

like the trains that pass my house
a couple blocks away, 11:04, 11:35,
and which is the wrong side
of the tracks from here?

Midnight, prime time on your coast,
sit-coms just starting in earnest.
If we had cable it would be time for Bill Beutel
to say goodnight to Roger Grimsby.
I leave the bedding of Mrs. Calabash
in your nostalgic hands.

My head tilts up on the pillow like a baby bird
hungry for any worms the night can provide,
trains huff through the backyard,
sirens for no one on the tracks.

If you were here, you’d hear the birds have
already begun their mindless chant
for sunrise, and at 4 a.m. I know
where the term, 'birdbrain' comes from.

We are three hours, three thousand miles,
several partners apart, and just as the sun
reaches the high point over the Catskills,
hides behind as many clouds as mountains,

you are ready for a second cup of coffee,
check your e-mails, watch those celebrated frogs
settle into midmorning callesthentics,
and I wonder what with all the tectonic shifts
in our friendship, how time will fly before us,

if our suns will come together, mountains part,
and we'll share a cup o' joe from the same pot.
I'd look in your eyes, colored the same
sarcastic tone as the rest of your sad bones,
eyes that have it where the rest of you is
overshadowed, shark-skinned and cautious,
chink in your herringbone armor.

Three hours, three thousand miles, a couple of
lives before, we meet again and again,
you my ambassador to the world of high standards,
red-striped ties and a sense of what
good can do in the lives of strangers
and other insidious creatures
on the left coast of life.

CAR 6/19/08