Thursday, May 31, 2012

New driver of Truck for June

Many, many thanks to David Graham for so ably attending the Truck this past month. I had my seatbelt fastened all the time.

Welcome to Lars Palm, who takes the wheel tomorrow for the month of June.

Exit Strategy

Photo:  Still life.     David Graham

Well, it's been a lot of fun, driving this TRUCK for the month of May.  Thanks again to Hal Johnson for the chance to feature some poems by poets close to me, along with a scattering of my photos.  And thanks to anyone who has stopped by, with or without letting me know about it.  

On my final day I'm afraid I am going to indulge myself by posting a small sheaf of poems I wrote myself (always remembering Robert Creeley's favorite post-reading query, "are those real poems, or did you write them yourself?").  

Don't know if the following are real poems, but I did write them myself.

See you around.

A Weed Among Weeds

In a past life
I was a farmer’s field, and my wife was the rain.
                  --Brent Goodman

My wife is the rain, I say:
she covers my fields each spring
with the needed solution. Just
because it's predictable
doesn't mean it isn't miracle.

So my wife is a miracle,
I say to the sky, as if I could
conjure a great amen from
the wind, but of course I cannot.

I found my wife in the sky
so long ago it feels like
a story, I tell the clouds
as they drift, dissolve,
reappear above the tree line.

So the clouds have no comment,
nor does the fire in the west
singing its usual song tonight.

And my wife sings in languages
I cannot even speak, but I love
to lie in bed listening as pans
clatter, the kettle boils, and she
quiets the panicked phone
just by talking to it, slowly
and carefully, as you would
gentle a frightened dog.

I'm just a weed among weeds
and lucky to rise a good inch
above ground most days, wavering,
bending, trembling.  I'd like
to be the rain sometime, I say,
and of course she says You are.

--David Graham

Photo:  "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower"     David Graham

Not Sure What

Long ago I realized I could never think
very hard about customer service, propriety,
matching colors, gas mileage, or pardoning
my French.  I'm not proud but sometimes
annoyed at the world for reasons even I
don't follow.  It's hard to share a world,
as every toddler knows.  Die early and avoid
the fate, Frost advised, and I think he
probably meant it.  Kind of a jerk, he was,
but so is your uncle.  Even as a kid I read
more books than I knew what to do with.
I've been trying to cut back lately, but
everywhere I find questions posed,
answered, beautifully evaded.  Yes, I love
theme-and-variations, but often have to  
wonder:  what's the theme?  All I see
some days are variations, rich and hard
to read as a pot of lobsters.  When you don't
remember something, speak loudly,
someone once said, I forget who.  I said,
I forget who!  Oh, I suppose I'm proud enough,
but guess I don't much feel like talking about it.
Cigarette smoke curls in musical air, never
quite vanishes even while vanishing.  I take that
as an emblem of something, but not sure what. 

--David Graham

Photo:  Old Business.     David Graham

Love is some movie you've seen before, but

--after Richard Brautigan

Love is some movie you've seen before, but
you fell asleep before the ending.

Love is either that wicked great dream you had
instead of the true ending, which was sweet
and delicate as a caterpillar sneezing
in the basement,

 or else

it wasn't like that at all, and involved
George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson
loping through a shopping mall that's on fire
with gunshots from all directions and glass
exploding into beautiful disaster in orange air,

or maybe love is the alternate ending
that you have to get the DVD extras to see,
the one where George Clooney can't stop
laughing, take after take, when he tries
to recite a poem to dear sweet Scarlett,

and even after he finally nails the poem
and puts a take in the can, nobody
in the test audience liked that ending at all,
so they changed it to something
probably really lame, so you were right
to fall asleep and dream your
breathtaking dreams after all.

--David Graham

Photo:  Realism.     David Graham

Against Whitman

-- I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from me?

Today I woke without a hero
in my head, not even Whitman
who usually brims my pockets
with jingly treasures, sweet breath
swelling laundry on the line,
but today just seems a big gasbag
heard at a distance on a tinny
carnival P.A., drifting in and out
with summer's sourest breeze.

Contains multitudes, yeah yeah yeah;
sings the body electric, sure,
whatever; hears America
singing, well, duh!  Walt, we just
don't need you anymore, now
we've got cable, we've got
radial tires, we've got Google.

But thanks anyway for your
transcendental cloud-puffy beard,
your Jesus eyes and too-friendly arm
draped over my shoulder
up and down the Broadway bus line.
I really do appreciate your
Wal-Mart vastness, it's just that
we have Instant Messenger now;
we have reality TV, Disneyworld,
the Apollo moon photographs
of our great rolling earth
postering our living room walls.

We have laser-guided missiles,
email, disposable diapers,
electric wrenches, Valium,
closed captioning, adhesive tape,
time zones crossed by jumbo jets
filled with businessmen with
cell phones and laptop computers;
we have the interstate highway
system and grocery aisles thick
with kiwis, curry, and arugula.

What could you possibly add to that?

Or to the kid in Sunday school
who gives his Christ a posse
of gangsta disciples to guide
the ascent from emptied tomb
to graffiti-tagged heaven,
all of those Bible boyz packing
serious heat and draped
like Christmas trees in bling,
all rising, democratically,
toward the great big satellite
in the vanished sky, Walt,
and who could stray from that?

--David Graham

Photo:  Chicago Sky Puddle.     David Graham

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Love Poem with Row Boat

Photo:  Barn Door.      David Graham

And one final poem from Paula Sergi.   Enjoy.  Tomorrow being my last day at the wheel of TRUCK, look for something different. . . .

Love Poem with Row Boat

At a curve in the path
near a pause in the gentle hill,
blades of yellow-green grass

cover the mound of brown earth,
soft as fur beneath our feet. Earth
so rich we smell nut shells,

watch moth wings shed morning’s
wash of dew. Too soon
for blossoms, but nubs of early

iris arms twist around their secret—
we predict purple. The door
to a weather-worn shed

hangs on rusted hinges,
open just enough to show
cool dust and loose shingles,

nails and a rusted fish hook.
We’ve never seen this building
at the edge of our lawn,

budding true as any story.
In the back a wooden row boat
peels its blue paint,

bobs on the wrinkled linens
of a man-made lake. You turn
to me, unshaven, murmur

Let’s push off.

--Paula Sergi

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Photo:  The difficult journey.     David Graham

Continuing our feature on Paula Sergi today. . . .


I want it to be night,
to fold myself in that navy wave
that overtakes us. But if it can’t be that,
I’ll take a rainy afternoon in Portland,
the drizzle barely visible
to wool-clad natives while
I look for bookstores and tea shops,
content in my new hiking shoes.

And if this isn’t Portland,
let it be Madison circa ’78,
some bearded man making bread
in his rented kitchen while I knit
my first lopsided scarf, each stitch
an expression of how much I love
learning how to fall in love.

When Madison outgrows itself
I want San Francisco,
not as tourist but to camp
with a high school friend while
I look through want ads,
anything to let me stay
single and intrigued with
my inner karma, my solar plexus.

If California passes a law
that sends me away, 
or threatens to shake till
I leave, let me buy a van
in Missoula, take a class
in glass blowing, plant
potatoes till the earth
seems dull and tasteless,

then may I wander the back roads
of Alaska for a summer,
learning how to fish and skim
stones across the bay,
renew my vows to myself
and lose my way back home

so I never have to sit
alone in a mortgaged house
while my husband watches
the news in the other room,
my sons scattered across the globe

and me sitting in this small town
where everyone can see inside
our windows, the panes afraid
they’ll shatter in the glare.

--Paula Sergi

Monday, May 28, 2012

Small Breaking

Photo:  Ice shadows leaf.     David Graham

Today another poem by Paula Sergi, from Black Forest Love Songs.

Small Breaking

March, but the ice hasn’t broken
yet. Yesterday’s long ray of sun
reached in, woke me to the ache
of every neuron in my skin,
memory of your hands and

making love for recreation,
shedding all pretense.
Then we were unguarded
almost fierce, as if our lives
depended on it.

Then evening was one
long silence to savor,
like tapping crème brulee,
just before its small breaking
opens to something delicious.

But someone leaves in the morning,
or has made a promise
to someone else, or nothing at all
has been said about morning.

Walking on thin ice over Spring puddles,
knowing as one foot lifts
even before the next step
my weight will cause melt,
cause the cracking.

--Paula Sergi

Photo:  Frozen puddle nebula.    David Graham

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Grackles with Late Spring

Photo:  Egg bowl shadows.    David Graham

Here is another poem by Paula Sergi from her forthcoming book Black Forest Love Songs.

Grackles with Late Spring

The one with a broken wing is back,
insistent. Flakes fall from a muted
gray sky. At first they look like ashes,
a careless whisper of fire. Then orange
beaks break through white as they gather,
drowning out sparrows and doves—
make no mistake, we matter.
Angling towards earth, snowflakes
and grackles alike, whether I wish
for goldfinch or crocus to butter
my day. By afternoon layers have landed,
white snow over blue-headed birds
whose heads glimmer like black pearls.
Smaller birds hide in bushes while
grackles side-step in snow that falls
like loose feathers, erasing tender
shoots of green, drowning bloom
of songbirds. Grackles and snow until
I don’t know what to believe,
the white or the black of it.

--Paula Sergi

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Photo:  Heavy weather.    David Graham

I'd like to mark the end of my stint driving the TRUCK by featuring some poems by Paula Sergi, from her forthcoming collection Black Forest Love Songs.  

Highly recommended.  In fact, I had the chance to read this book in manuscript, and here is the blurb I wrote for it:

Love in all its moods and seasons stands at the center of Paula Sergi's Black Forest Love Songs, her strongest collection yet.  This sumptuous suite ranges from small town Wisconsin to the German forest of the title poem, with stops in California, Alaska, Oregon, and elsewhere, including the fields of dream.  The voice here is wise and wistful, the emotional clarity notable, and the lines rich with music and dramatic detail. Sergi displays an especially sharp eye for gray areas of both thought and feeling. "I want it all," the speaker of one poem admits; and of course wanting is at the core of life's sweetness as well as its losses.  In fact, this book does have it all:  music, honesty, and unforgettable turns of phrase and thought in every poem. A highly readable and haunting chapbook.


The barking dog three houses away
pitches another mournful note.
Beagle or hound with empty dish,
with ears unscratched
while mine recline on goose down.
His call winds past dark arms
of old growth pine, through thick night air
pooling at my window,
then penetrates lathe and mortar,
reaching the dark ink of my hidden ear. 

I’d rather volley sighs with the dog
than hear my neighbor’s jigsaw
chewing and screaming all afternoon,
carving miniature lawn chairs
for a tiny play house
with no front wall--passersby
and strays can see 
pretend children sleeping in little beds,
see the master bedroom lit
but empty.

To the next door dog I murmur
some sleepy reply,
unlike the pagan moon who never answers.
This dog laps loneliness
like moonshine. He’s on his last chain link,
so I stay awake and surrender
the late show, twenty-four hour news,
sacrifice my husband’s eager hands.  Who
can make love with the howler’s grief
so audible? Who can sleep under
the moon’s one glaring eye?

--Paula Sergi.  from Black Forest Love Songs.  Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What kind of belt does Orion wear?

Photo:  Father sky.    David Graham

Rounding the bend into the home stretch of my month driving the TRUCK, I give you one more poem by John Ingemann.  As I noted before, it's been a great pleasure to be able to feature the work of some of my former students in this space.

Stay tuned for something a bit different for the last week of May.

What kind of belt does Orion wear?

I imagine
it would be star bound leather,
a buckle of black matter,
strung together with galaxies,
or planetary rings.
The notches, black holes,
waiting for the universe around Orion’s waist
to get toned from the summer months
when he’s on vacation in the Southern zones
busy with cosmic barbeques
and intramural softball leagues.
It’s also nothing showy,
just practical and old
for the nighttime hunter
unable to keep up with the newest winter trends
from up in the heavens
where he strikes his eternal pose
with his not as well known clothes.

--John Ingemann

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Obituary Will Read...

Photo:  No mail today.    David Graham

Today I give you another poem by John Ingemann.

My Obituary will read…

He’s dead, as a dusty untouched bicycle
locked away in the cellar of his house
with its FOR SALE sign in the lawn
near the curb, where his wife sits
waiting for drive-by condolences
or cheerful waves from neighbors
who haven’t read the paper yet,
which waits on the stoop,
wrapped in plastic and news,
the front-page on current economics,
politics, Section B6 for the cryptic
crossword across from Myrtle and me,
elderly features, grayscale smiles,
a crooked family tree, “deceased before their time”
a luxury notifying my younger coworkers
of advancement opportunities,
my neighbor, Carl, pondering
“Can I still borrow his tools,
which is silly,
since Carl still has most of them
And again, a wife on the curb,
paper in hand, thumb over my picture
smearing the ink, blurring my cheeks
and closed lips together.

Coming down a staircase of breeze
I’ll crouch next to front lawn mourner,
an invisible arm around the shoulders of the
red-eyed and teary, waiting patiently
for the mail on a Sunday
which, I suppose, is better than waiting
for me, digging up out from my grave
dirt on my suit, in my hair and fingernails,
beginning to walk home as if I was late for dinner
after the longest day of my life.

--John Ingemann