Free Range Poetry

behind the scenes in the kitchen at the City Lights Diner

Ferlinghetti made spaghetti
he probably shared it with his dog
very democratic of him
I think he shared it with his dog
though my mom doesn’t think it’s real literature
but she kind of liked it anyway
and the dog ate it
very democratic of him

William S Burroughs, he made some churros
for his lunch, which he shared with the prostitute
on the 3rd floor balcony in a shit apartment in Mexico City
     who sometimes sold drugs
     or took drugs
     or read horoscopes
and who might have smoked crack
     with Jack Kerouac

come on man

Allen Ginsberg cooked a mean duck stuffed
with ginseng ginger juniper
dash of salt naked in the bowl
he’d say you have got to howl a bit as you eat it or the
don’t blend right
Owls and ducks are both birds but
you couldn't prove it looking at them could you

Bukowski was sitting in front of that stove all morning
I don’t know what the fuck he made but

if you can’t stand the beat
stay out of the kitchen

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despair of the snow man

I stand sentry on this small hill, pine-girded, snow-crusted,
commanding my troops, frozen as I am, my smaller
brothers (and one sister) and the
snow-fleshed animals in sweaters they do not need,
any more than I require this top hat to keep me warm.

If anything, I keep it cool, fresh for my successor.

We have been standing for days without action
keeping still as the cold
waiting for the enemy to show himself.

For six days, my comrades – two snow babies, a snow woman
(hardly more than a girl, really),
four snow rabbits in silly vests, and a lumpy blob meant to be a squirrel
(you can tell from the acorn) – for six days we have waited.
We have been cold a long time.

School has started.

The cold carries cries of joyous recess across frozen fields, and they are not coming back.

In the glitter of the distant January sun, my
sagging hat gives the lie to my whispered encouragement.

“Be strong. Stay cold. They will return.”
But they are not coming back.
We know that, now.

School has started.

Or perhaps they will return, running,
inappropriate shoes squishing through the melting meadow
to find our hollow clothes,
sopping sweaters and our rotting, mouse-gnawed noses,
and my best top hat,
still cool,
inscrutable to the last.

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between us

I’ll be your personal poet
You be my reader and voice
No one else ever need know it
We’ll offer no other the choice

I’ll be your personal poet
I’ll write every day just for you
The lines on my face will not show it
We’ll age just one day for each two

I’ll write them in torrents, in floods
In gushers and geysers they’ll come
As trees in the spring with bees on their buds
Sweet honey drips, thrum thrumming hum

I’ll be your personal poet
I’ll follow you into your dark
And when you’re alone, you will know it
I’m waiting to write you a spark

I’ll send you my words as a blanket
You’ll rub them all over for heat
Warm and as safe as blanket
Rhythmic and salty and sweet

Come evenings, in winter and autumn
When the fires and embers have dimmed
Priceless, we couldn’t have bought ‘em
These poems have the seasons all limned

When the last rays of sunshine have fled for the west
Baby that’s when these open, we’ll break out the best!

And I am your poet, your Pan!
In summer and springtime and all
I’ll write ‘em and sing ‘em as best as I can
Just for you, from now ‘til we fall

And when we have fallen in shadow
And age makes a mock of our bones
I’ll write us some light - en fandango
And we’ll dance on each other’s headstones!

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the squirrel

There is an idea just outside my window
chittering at me
scampering around the yard like a mad thing
which I guess it is.

The dog next to me really wants to go outside
"No," I tell her, "it's just an idea.
You'll never catch it. Leave it be."
She is undeterred.

The idea runs up the short wooden fence
scampers along the top of the fence
like climbers hiking the ridge of an impossible mountain
but faster and fearless of falling

Impossibly nimble, the idea finds a berry,
a nut, nourishment for ideas not yet fully developed
and cheeks bulging runs up a straight tree
ninety degrees from the ground

A hawk's shadow stops the idea in its tracks
red in tooth and claw but -
ideas have a life of their own, genetic memory saying
"Hold still. Hold still or die."

A fox waits for an idea to come to her.
The idea calmly crosses Edison's suburban tightrope
to a safer yard, footloose and fox-free
to find a nut to bury, forget, and cause an oak.

The idea spies another yard,
grass greener, nuts sweeter and
like so many ideas that have come before
starts out across the street

like so many ideas that have come before
doesn't make it across the street.
Just another idea run down dead in the road.

I never said it was a particularly bright idea.

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Nihilism Comes to the Bard:
A Sestina, by William Shakespeare

Now will I charge you in the band of truth, 1
as doubtful thoughts and rash-embraced despair 2
can bide the beating of so strong a passion 3
that wear this world out to the ending doom. 4
To death, or to a vow of single life - 5
Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust. 6

Destroy our friends and, after, weep their dust - 7
but for the certain knowledge of that truth, 8
to grunt and sweat under a weary life, 9
surfeits, imposthumes, grief and damned despair, 10
but bear it out, even to the edge of doom, 11
allaying both their fury and my passion. 12

And those that mingle reason with their passion, 13
begrimed with sweat and smeared all with dust; 14
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom? 15
That is no slander, sir, which is a truth: 16
Hope gives not such warrant as despair… 17
We pay sour earnest for a sweeter life. 18

So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life, 19
and with such sober and unnoted passion 20
here overcome, as one full of despair - 21
all follow this, and come to dust. 22
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth, 23
as we draw the lottery of our doom. 24

From the creation to the general doom 25
that makes calamity of so long a life, 26
this is the show and seal of nature's truth: 27
inconstant, full of tears, full of smiles; for every passion 28
no worthier than the dust! 29
Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair. 30

Two loves I have, of comfort and despair, 31
firm and irrevocable is my doom, 32
as when a whirlwind takes the summer dust. 33
O, that I could but call these dead to life! 34
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, 35
dare no man answer in a case of truth? 36

And my ending is despair! 37 This hateful life! 38
It may stand till the perpetual doom, 39 into a towering passion, 40
until this day, to scour it in the dust. 41 I speak no more than truth. 42

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That Clock is Not My Friend

They never say good morning. They rarely say good night.
They never ask how are you, or, is everything all right?
They don't press about your business as you press on with your day
Clocks just grind on tick tick ticking, with nothing much to say.

Today's a good example, as we set the hours back
The clock could say, good morning, as I wake up at the crack
of dawn, and let me know I'm due a re-do for an hour of my choice,
to re-live a really nice part of the day, just raise my voice

and it is done, from 2pm to 1, in just a flash.
What could I do, again? To read a book? Just taking out the trash?
It could give me such advice, could help me find a pleasant
way to spend an extra moment here or there, to bring the past to present

once again. But it does not. Unfeeling, quiet, it switches while I sleep.
It spends the better part of spring and fall without a peep,
without my saying so, just tick and now it's 12 again or so,
and I wake, confused, convinced I've overslept, and then but no.

The clock is not my friend.

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Nihilism Comes to Keats

When I have fears that I shall cease to be,
I know the ugly beauty of that truth.
And all our works, so mean and mighty, we
see crumble into dust and shit and toothless
desperation. Useless passions from
our high romance are rendered dull and senseless.
Our imprisoned lives! We do not come
to hell, nor heaven go, too high the fence
that guards the veil of hope. We witness lives
account for naught, a crumpled dollar bill
against the wind, and all those ones and fives
are toilet paper. Money? Work, until
to stardust you return, sans teeth, sans hair,
and then alone, reflect on all you've done: Despair.

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on loss

there is a crack.

it was never there before
it was not there yesterday
yesterday, I was whole
today, there is a hole
a gap

where once there was togetherness
now there are sides

this side, over here.
that side, over there.

in the middle, part is missing.
imagined differences become reality
defined by absence

absence, separation, cracks.
as we leave each other, we redefine ourselves anew
becoming less than what we were together
and yet
more than what we were before.

our memories become Kintsugi lacquer,
healing our broken cracks, making us stronger, and beautiful.

you may not return
                            (that side, over there)
and yet
your golden memories fill the cracks in me
making me beautiful

and stronger.



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Warm, Bright Big Sister and Pale, Dark Onee-Sama (by Dusk ShAde)

Big Sister and Onee-Sama are different.

Big Sister's eyes are brown.
Warm, Bright Brown.
Brown like savored chocolates.
Brown like the logs in the fireplace.
Brown like a wooden cottage by the seaside beside a beloved forest, where fond memories are made.
Onee-Sama's eyes are green.
Pale, Dark Green.
Green so dark it could be mistaken for grey, or even white.
Green like spearmints on chilly day.
Green like distant glaciers made from antiseptic.

Big Sister’s hair is red.
Warm, Bright Red.
Red like the roaring fireplace.
Red like the glowing sunrise.
Red like blushing cheeks.
Onee-Sama’s hair is brown.
Pale, Dark Brown.
Brown like the trees of the dark forest.
Brown like rusting bloodstains.
Brown like the cover of a book.

Big Sister likes chocolate.
Warm, Bright Chocolate.
Chocolate like Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate that brightens your mood.
Chocolate that warms you inside.
Onee-Sama likes mint.
Pale, Dark Mint.
Mint that chills your mouth.
Mint that overpowers your nose and makes your eyes water.
Mint like an approaching blizzard.

Big Sister feels warm.
Warm, Bright Warmth.
Warm like the cozy rug in front of the fireplace.
Warm like hot chocolate after playing in the snow.
Warm like a loving embrace.
Onee-Sama feels cold.
Pale, Dark Cold.
Cold like a steel blade at your throat.
Cold like a corpse hidden within a blizzard.
Cold like the dark space between stars.

Big Sister is smart.
Warm, Bright Smarts.
Smart like the top student.
Smart like a role model.
Smart like the tutor who helps you every step of the way.
Onee-Sama is intelligent.
Pale, Dark Intelligence.
Intelligent like the military commander.
Intelligent like the tyrant who has studied both Machieavelli and Vetinari.
Intelligent like a machine, a machine that learns, incorporates, and applies within seconds.

Big Sister is pretty.
Warm, Bright Pretty.
Pretty like a sunset along the beach.
Pretty like a full moon on a starry night.
Pretty like fireworks among city lights.
Onee-Sama is beautiful.
Pale, Dark Beauty.
Beautiful like exploding stars reflected by the approaching glacier.
Beautiful like the ornate, but still deadly blade lunging for your throat.
Beautiful like the minty hurricane, headed straight for you.

Big Sister is energetic.
Warm, Bright Energy.
Energetic like the child in a candy store.
Energetic like the peppy grade-school teacher, ready for her students.
Energetic like the exuberant party-goer.
Onee-Sama is calm.
Pale, Dark Calm.
Calm like the coiled serpent.
Calm like the courtroom judge.
Calm like the hangman.

Big Sister has lots of friends.
Warm, Bright Friends.
Friends that laugh along with her.
Friends that invite her to their parties.
Friends that always want to hang out with her, as though they have nothing else they would rather do.
Onee-Sama has a few friends.
Pale, Dark Friends.
Friends that fight with her.
Friends that have other things to do.
Friends that always have her back.

Big Sister is peaceful.
Warm, Bright Peace.
Peace that begets itself.
Peace that smiles and cheers “Let’s be friends!”.
Peaceful like drinking chocolate flavoured tea.
Onee-Sama is violent.
Pale, Dark Violence.
Violence, not for its own sake, but for the sake of peace.
Violence of honour and reason, of law and order.
Violence like the hangman’s noose.

Big Sister is kind.
Warm, Bright Kindness.
Kind like the other cheek.
Kind like the outstretched hand.
Kind like the offered band-aid.
Onee-Sama is just.
Pale, Dark Justice.
Just like the judge in the courtroom.
Just like the verdict of Guilty or Not Guilty.
Just like the hangman’s noose.

Big Sister’s smiles are bright.
Warm, Bright Brightness.
Bright like innocence.
Bright like naiveté.
Bright like children’s laughter in the sunshine.
Onee-Sama’s smiles are tired.
Pale, Dark Tiredness.
Tired like the honest hangman, knowing full well what they’re doing and enjoying none of it.
Tired like the soldier, who’s only wish is for the fighting to stop.
Tired like the father, who knows their child must one day grow up.

Big Sister likes to hug me.
Warm, Bright Hugs.
Hugs in times of joy.
Hugs in times of sadness.
Hugs in times of fright.
Onee-Sama likes to hug me.
Pale, Dark Hugs.
Hugs when I’ve done a good job.
Hugs when I’ve had a bad day.
Hugs whenever she feels like hugging me.

Big Sister loves me.
Warm, Bright Love.
Love for a favoured sibling.
Love for life, and for the happiness of others.
Love for my laughter.
Onee-Sama loves me.
Pale, Dark Love.
Love from a mother to a child.
Love for life, and it's ending.
Love for my smile.

My favourite flavour is mint-chocolate, because it reminds me both of Big Sister and of Onee-Sama.

I love my Warm, Bright Big Sister and my Pale, Dark Onee-Sama.

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peak time

I've seen these hills before, in memories of tales and half-remembered dreams of ages gone.

A snow-capped snippet of a textbook childhood, immensely tall from shouldered vantage, urging my father faster, higher.

The son becomes the father, but we arrive too late for mine to ride my shoulders. The mountains do not care.

The lives of men flash like ants upon their upthrust shoulders, the full moon strobing eons as these rocks ascend the vault of heaven.

I gaze upon these mountains now, my soul upthrust as any jagged crag. My eyes take in each perfect peak, freckled here and there with snow.

To reach the top! To touch those peaks! My heartbeat pounds as fast as moons by mountain time. Surely, to ascend such beauty must be to caress the crinkled edge of heaven.

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