Monday, November 26, 2007

"Orange Blossoms"

Orange Blossoms

“A typical orange tree carries about 100,000 pollinated blossoms, each of which is a potential orange, complete with the seeds that are potential trees. But in the course of a season, only about 500 oranges are actually produced. The tree determines which ones make the cut…” -Dan Cray, Time Magazine, Oct.2007

They rest, like gleaming starfish, mouthing light-
bulbs, fringed in gold-faced sticky fillae,
expectant. Clustered like stars on the forked
trunk, among the ovate, bottom-heavy
leaves, dark green, with crenulated margins:
scalloped like a cloud, or doily. Petals
joined, nested like ivory measuring
spoons: tablespoon, teaspoon, one-half, one-quarter.
One-hundred thousand of you, pollinated,
palming life. The decision has come: wet,
smooth, black bark sheds the “not viable”—the ones
with insufficient light, or hosts to moths’
homes. Luminescent petals slide to the ground:
the ill-begotten, eleven-week blood
pulp of a pitiless mother tree.

Arachne's Child

This poem was inspired by the story of Lakshmi Tatma.

Arachne’s Child

Arache’s child, a god-head
in her own village—the more arms
and legs the more wealth,
what is it they cultivate, anyway?

Eight teeth show in her splitting laughter,
Ember-curls around her gold-pierced ears.
Her strong hands clapping, grasping air,
dancing, with her polished black eyes.
She is a beauty, by any standard. The hairs
whisp between temple and white-collared
dress. She is happy, in the way children are happy.

The BBC news-anchor is sober-voiced,
camera panning from her joy-face
downward, the “parasitic twin” they call it—
four additional atrophied limbs dangle
from a truncated, headless body.
The eight-legged one, the girl-spider.
She carries a joined spinal chord,
perhaps spare lungs between all
those legs. Arachne’s child,
with a womb-wrought parasite.
The question is whether beauty will live.

For My Brother

For My Brother
(a ghost villanelle)

What we are is not so different, you
and I. Your russet hair, deep doe-eyes glide
gently across the world, the trees, the sky.

Yours track, mine quivering across the lines
of pen to paper, or stitches fingers slide.
What we are is not so different, you

and I. Steady-handed tracers: moved, high
by the intricacies of our art, slid
gently across the world, the trees, the sky

by palpable passion. The names fly
from my lips, yours: Latinate conifers spied.
What we are is not so different, you

remind me, platinum fletching putty
poised on the arrow’s shaft, then the vein laid
gently across the world, the trees, the sky.

Fletching is not unlike sewing, shooting
not unlike writing: pinning down to look:
what we are is not so different, you and I,
beings born to the world, the trees, the sky.

The Kitten

The Kitten

She coos like a bird to you
and your answer is a cocked head
and golden eyes

trained on her warm and climbing body.
Again and again
she sings without opening her mouth.

You are not her father.
Neither of you have met a bird,
not really,

just seen them, suspended among leaves
in the hornbeam, through the wrinkled
old glass of our window.

But she calls their call to you
and you listen.
All children must make the same song.

"You Are"

"You Are" (an unfinished poem,dating from May)

You are of sacred fluids.
The only landscape with which
I could replace her cool, damp one
is yours—balmy. The shade seems
rarer here, without the rails
of skyscrapers or brush of willows
to hide your face
so I crawl where I am known,
beneath your warm belly to lie
pressed and oddly free. I know
its smell, contours, and the inexplicable
kindness of your eyes, the blue they take on
in semi-darkness,
the blessed lashes.
And I find no need to declare
our love to a wider world.
I only scale your shifting body,
while you do the same,
then grow quiet and still again.
Look directly and speak to me.
I left her broad walkways
only for the tightness of your arms.

In case you're not tuned in, you should be!

NPR presents whole concerts as mp3 files on their website:

Most of the tapings occur at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. and are definitely worth listening too!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Trees

"The Trees"

The rain stains their gathered thighs
charcoal-black, like any number of
dryads lying back on one another,
grown as one, to wear fire-hair.

November and the trees look
more like balding men with
silvered orange mutton-chops.
Someone pasted yellowed leaves

and lamplight to the sidewalks.
Such joy to find my childhood--
browned grass and conifers--
replaced with Virginian opulence.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

making the news...

(University of Mary Washington senior Whitney Roberts holds a sign at a unity march held after a racially insensitive poster and comments created a stir on campus.)

featured in The Free Lance-Star, on Nov.10, 2007.
Here is the article:

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm in the midst of writing a lyric sequence...

and I wanted to post rough drafts of what (I think) will be the first two poems of the sequence...

"The First Miscarriage"

Where were you, when it happened?
I imagine it as it could not have been:
clean, cool, white tiled floor in "the apartment."
A chest-high mirror, dim light.
Daddy was at school-- third period,
a pickle-jar's dented gold top, lidding formaldehyde
and squid.
black-haired, thin daddy.

Your body erupting in a smear:
a thing no longer than the distance
from knuckle to joint, on your first finger
breaking off, pouring out, jellied ear-knobs,
eye-spots, doughy hands, a curled tail.

not unlike Daddy's squid-jar. Swimming,
grief pasted to your brow in streaks of blonde,
twisting mouth, rolling eyes.
Will we? Can I?

I don't know
who came to get you. (Does it matter?)
I can't see the glassy hospital's landscaped islands:
a parking lot without mirages, too late for daffodils,
dogwoods, streaked and open-faced pansies.

Too soon for black-naveled sunflowers,
too soon for me, your June baby.



the metal canister and mouthpiece--
one green, one yellow, crooked like the periscope
of a submarine:
one to keep you from having an attack.
one to make it stop.
you always pushed your breath out,
wheezed it in, held, and shook
the air from your lungs, the hair from your neck.

epinephrine, albuterol, caffeine,

the purse to carry your glass inhaler through college.
tiny sod-squares of rash on a five year-old's back.

Don't lay in the grass, baby.
You'll get sick.