Friday, June 27, 2014

Listening to Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”

In my brother’s apartment
there is a poster of Louis Armstrong
holding his trumpet and laughing
sitting on the palatial steps of a hotel
he wasn’t allowed to enter.

My brother has finished lugging rocks for the day
and sits with his eyes closed, carried away.
And yes, it’s about time
for him to have some fanfare

for getting up at dawn’s first grayness
for sitting on someone else’s steps, laughing
not halfway, but wide open

with all his beautiful teeth.

Published in Bowdoin Magazine Spring 2014

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thank You

Thank you

for bringing over chicken soup
and lifesavers
when I was sick, washed out,
alone in my single apartment.

The sound of you
clanking my pans, the squreak of
a can opener
listening to my tinny radio
on a sunny day in May
fixing me a treat in the kitchen--

does something to me. 
outside              somebody's thumping
reminds me of a boy,
12 years old, playing basketball,
the backboard
an abandoned road sign

it's my brother,
wearing a blue Tshirt
never a white one-we had no white sheets
white towels--even our dust bunnies were red.

from my bedroom at home I could
shut my eyes
and hear flies buzzing on the screen
someone downstairs talking to the cat
the hardback books settling
into the bookcases,
someone else
to call the electric company
when the power went out
someone else
to light the woodstove
cold mornings,
someone else to sit beside me
when I was sick, and tell stories.

Thank you Laurie, for clanking pans
for reminding me of the house
I lived in once, the one where everything
had a sound,
had a color.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To answer this age old question we must
understand the nature of chickens.

There has been entirely too much focus
on the road aspect
and not enough
on the soul
of the one crossing it.

Knowing chickens as I do—
their pecking, their endless interest
in bugs, worms and corn cobs

It would not be work ethic
that caused the chicken to cross that road
there are no chicken palaces
or works of art or chicken inventions

nor loyalty, certainly—
they will fly off at the first chance

nor brains—
flying off, they will end up right
in the fox’s mouth

but they do have curiosity and
an interest in bugs, tender new shoots
and warm patches of sun.
They will lie on the other side
of the road all day,
utterly content.

We should be so lucky.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reading at the Forsyth Chapel May 2013

Here is a link to my reading at the Forsyth Chapel in the Forest Hills Cemetary. The clip is called "Sam Cornish and friends" (Boston Poet Laureate) and was filmed by Boston Neighborhood Network. What a beautiful place to read.

I am at approximately minute 9, 23 and 30.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ancient History Lesson

Ancient History Lesson

First, there were floods
Lots of them, and they always wrecked the crops.
Everyone starved.

Then there was irrigation. And fighting
over water. And battles.
Everyone was slain.

Later, there was religion. Thousands of gods,
then one god (whose?) then more battles. Everyone
was converted or slain.

After long periods of nothing happening—
(except the usual—marriage, children, death from disease,
parties and music, drawing and inspiration, the rustle of wheat)

suddenly war would break out.
This goes on for 5,000 years.

Everyone hated the others for no reason
or every reason we know: the crops, the rights,
the look on his face, don’t look at my daughter that way.

And what will we be remembered for?
Airplanes and electricity? Voting?
Or more battles where everyone was slain. Followed by
long periods where nothing much happened.

First published in Sonora Review

The Heart

The heart                                                                                           

On August 19, 1996 I realize
the idea that love
is physically located in the heart,
that pumping thing
inside your chest,
is not as arbitrary as I thought,
a convenient symbol for valentines and poems,

that it could not be placed somewhere else--
the left ear or right foot for example,
or the hands--though they might come in second,
their need to touch coming from a place
we do not control.

I had seen you again, a few weeks before my thirtieth birthday
and again dragged myself over the same ground:
Could it work? And again the conclusion, probably not,
over and over, like the woman
who sits outside the Boston Public Library
and runs her fingers along the hem
of her skirt, all day long
each nubble, each tear.

People pass by and look away
believing what she seeks
is not there.
I know where it is.

At the BU track I run six laps.
A boy starts to cry as I start out
in a language I don't know
or none at all

a wail that comes from his chest and
does not end.
A mile and a half later he still cries out steadily
not giving up.
The wail gets inside me
but I do not stop.
I am here to say you are wrong--
with your stethoscopes, your psychologists.
It is my heart alone that pumps the blood,
pushes me forward
around and around this red, dusty circle.

Boston City Hall Prose and Poetry contest winner 2013