Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Loneliness of an Egg (poem)

The recipe card says two.
Take them from their hollows.
That leaves one.

The loneliness of an egg.

The recipe card says two.
An occasional cook
doesn't risk deviation.

What’s it like on the shelf,
solo, in the dark?

One egg, scrambled.
So good for the dog’s coat.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cranberry Salad Is a Personal Thing (poem)

Cranberry salad
is a personal thing.

Remember that unusually warm winter
when the canned jellied party's rhetoric
riled the bag and cook your own types
and their campaign commercials
stirred up the cool whip
and the real whipping cream proponents
who began shouting "Slave to the kitchen"
and "One molecule away from being plastic"
until you couldn't hear yourselves think
and there was very nearly a war?

(People will never learn, will they
It's when you can't hear yourselves think
that war creeps in like an elderly pit bull terrier
and you don't know she's there
until she farts
and suddenly war fills your nostrils
war fills your mouth
you inhale war and exhale it out again)

But that year the cranberry salad war ended before it began
The wind came up
and the temperature went down
and the war was nipped in the bud
because no real Minnesotan
would follow the drum in the middle
of a traditional November December
(Wait until Spring, we say,
except if there was a lot of snow
then March will be all mud
April can be iffy, too,
Perhaps June is the best month
to take up arms
It best not drag on too long, though
Don't want to be crouched in a field
watching for the whites of some bastard's eyes
when it's humid and sticky in August
and the mosquitoes are slightly larger
than the largest of crows)

Cranberry salad
is a personal thing
"My mom always put a dollop
of cool whip on top"
you brightly say to me

Your mother and the horse
she rode in on,
I think to myself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Subtext (poem)

I wait all day
to hear the results!
chirps the program lead
in charge of project pick-an-acronym

I smile pleasantly, and don't say

I wait all day
to lie in bed at night
with my dog

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Someone Finally Calls (poem)

Someone finally calls
You've got the phone in your left hand
Clutched so tight you will later see
the indentations of it on the inner sides of your fingers and thumb
You open your mouth to say something
you've needed to say for days
but you feel a scream way down
in your throat
and that mustn't happen
because once you started
screaming you might never stop
so you hesitate a moment
a split second
too long in this post-modern age
And now the person
has asked about the dog
The dog?
You swallow down the scream
and say the dog is fine
So the chance goes by
like when the sky in evening is full of reds and oranges and golds
and you catch just one glimpse of it
before you get on the freeway heading east
Well, Merry Christmas, you say,
and wish you hadn't answered the phone.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Says the Matronly Shih Tzu (poem)

Just to make conversation
As she trots down the dog park path
I say to the matronly Shih Tzu
in the pink sweater
"This snowfall flocking the trees
and capping the fence posts
makes me think of pictures I’ve seen
of the snow-tipped mountains in Tibet
where you come from."

"What are you talking Tibet?"
the matronly Shih Tzu replies.
"I was born in a split level
in Blue Earth, Minnesota, USA.
It was August and humid as all get out."

"Here," I say, embarrassed at being caught stereotyping.
"Let me pull straight your pink sweater
which has gone all kitty-wampus under the left arm
and is in danger of impeding your gait."

"I'm not sure it’s appropriate,"
says the matronly Shih Tzu.
"That lady over there
trying to unlock her new phone
is my Dresser and Undresser.
We are family.
Are you family?"

“I am part of no one’s family,” I say.
“But it may serve as a kind of bona fides
if you know that I was born in Winnebago
which is nine miles from any split level in Blue Earth
if someone were to orient herself in a northerly direction.

"Close enough for government work,"
says the matronly Shih Tzu.
And comes close so I can fix her pink sweater.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

L'Action de grâces 2011 (poem)

We told you
not to go

We said
you’d get hurt

We told you
that if you go
looking for love again
you will end up
wondering why you spent
next week’s gas budget to drive
the twisty-turny roads
just to sit alone in their living room
and watch an episode of
Star Trek: The Next Generation
you thought particularly inane
back in 1992

We told you
how it would be
we told you
that love finds you
and if it doesn’t find you
love is not for you
you must live without

we told you
we told you
not to go

we said you’d
get hurt

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Death By Powerpoint Presentation (poem)

                Our mission statement has five “strands”, as it were
                Now I’ll walk you through this color-coded table
                I’ve been told I use too many acronyms
                Here’s a graphical representation that summarizes what I’ve said thus far
                I won’t discuss every page of this spreadsheet
                And, now, to recapitulate
                Any questions?

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Towels grown meager

Low-salt canned beans a luxury

The little dog with whiskers

who was better off in someone else's house

Dreams of thick socks

Fear like a crow on one's shoulder

Feet gripping

A beak that can split bone

No pity in those dark eyes

Some hours, years are best forgotten

Tell me how

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The slight drag of a long tooth
against my index finger
as the dog takes from me
the proffered kernel of white popcorn
reminds me that he could
rip the flesh of my hand from the bone
with an efficiency
that I could not equal
even if I remembered to keep sharp
they who call the knife block home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It Is a Cause for Bewilderment (poem)

When you look out from where you are to where you will go
and you see clear as day the monsters on the path
each one waiting for its turn
to backhand you across the face with a clawed hand
and knock you to the ground
and plant one massive foot
the better to hold you in place
while it uses its teeth
to rip mouthfuls of your flesh
and spit them out again
because this is not about butchering
it's about butchery

oh, and they laugh
don't forget the laugh
the laugh is almost the worst part

it is a cause for bewilderment
that at that moment when you are staring
at the horror that awaits you
a stranger does not step from a doorway
and whisper to you
it is time
and melt away again in the crowd
it is a cause for bewilderment
that you don’t immediately find yourself
in a room lit only by candles of varying heights
with a small group of intimates
your old nanny
the first minister who was first minister
to your father and your father's father
a priest in fine woven black
a brother in rough woven brown
and you know they see the monsters too
and you know they are there to robe you for war
to peel from you the fashions you are accustomed to
but will never wear again
to bathe you in the bergamot oil that will keep you from all harm
to clothe you
in silk woven by virgins as they sung
masses in your name
and when you stand ready
with the candlelight glinting off
your outer layer of the finest of fine chain link mesh
they present to you a sword
so well forged so sharp so beautiful
it has a name

and you kneel
sword in your hand
in front of the statue of the mother and child
and the child’s marble lips
whisper to you
from the moment of your birth
in your cradle I sang to you
of this moment
of your destiny
you are the chosen one

Oh, and there's a horse
don't forget the horse
waiting for you outside in the light
Of the torches he gleams blue-black
the horse shares your destiny
and the horse knows it

it is a cause for bewilderment
with monsters on the path
when you tell people you can see the monsters on the path
that none of this happens
the group of intimates does not assemble
no first minister old as Merlin
no candles, no masses, no body armor
no sword with or without a name
every statue you pass is mute

unsuitably dressed for war
you are left to battle on as best as you can
with a list of cognitive distortions
and a 30-day supply of pale green pills

Monday, August 15, 2011

Missing Julia Child

No surprise
the sea bass fillet
cooked amid a barrage
of fuck yous and piss offs
comes out raw in the middle

When asked to rate his fellow chef
tattooed contestant
replies a volley of bleeps
the only portion of his words
deemed fit
to be heard
by the American viewing audience
bitch can't cook

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hoarders (poem)

If you are urinating
into old juice bottles
please tell us
so we can zoom in
on the full bottles

we will give you access to
licensed mental health professionals
if you let us film you
crying, raging, picking your way
across the piles
you have made
into your world
unable to throw away
rotting squash

cue the flies
for their closeup

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ships That Pass In the Afternoon (poem)

Filigree teapot charm
hangs from rearview mirror
Blue Toyota
turning onto Cedar going south
Obama bumpersticker

Sandy hair
White toecaps separating from red sneakers
Calls out “Jean-Paul” to empty field
Purebred Malinois comes a-running

“I just can’t purl – I keep adding stitches”
she says into her pink Blackberry
as she swipes her Visa
at the pump

Only connect!
was once the cry
No easier then
than now

(sit in the blue armchair
knit five rows
rip out two

in the cupboard
5 blends of tea
untouched since June

dog on the bed
red with dark mask
in hindsight
Hèrcule would have
been the perfect name)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Margaret Atwood Blind Assassins (poem)

My successor
I assure you
the smear
on page 16
is not blood

blame it on
living solo
table manners
in the absence of witnesses

once was a time
I would have
said oops
cash in hand
to a lady in a twinset
at the service desk

personal responsibility 
was important then
now I choose
to spend my money on
dog food enough to last the week
and trust that all those
ladies in twinsets
their eyeglasses around their necks
who noticed
who cared
whose near-sighted eyes were 20/20
when it came to 
the need for restitution 
are gone
replaced by mechanical eyes
that see barcodes
but not Western dressing

Sunday, April 10, 2011

No Moon in Maiden Rock (poem)

Did you see the moon tonight?
she says instead of hello
It's huge
go look
I mean it
take the garbage out or something, go look
then call me back

Step-on can nearly empty
I take the dog out instead
in our winter coats
in the playground
surrounded by jungle gyms and slides
made into mountains
by Fran on the snow plow
I look up for the moon
No moon
I rotate in place
as smoothly as bad knees will allow
Looking for the moon
No moon

I call her on my cell
I'm outside I say instead of hello
Isn't it fantastic! she says
No I say
I don't see it anywhere
Maybe the moon is huge and special where you are
But there's no moon in Maiden Rock

She laughs
Wisconsin is crazy with bluffs
Maybe it's hidden behind one
There's a moon in Maiden Rock
you just can't see it

Symbolic I say
I knew it! She says
I knew you were saying It's symbolic
in your head
You make too much of things
You drive yourself crazy
Stop it

Too late

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pyjama Pants on Lake Pepin

I felt lazy. So when it was time to take my dog out for a quick potty run, I just put my coat on over my pyjamas and shoved my bare feet into my low snowboots, and headed out.

Well, it was supposed to be just a quick potty run. Instead the dog headed in the direction of Lake Pepin, and I followed obediently. For the last several days, my dog and I have been walking way out on frozen Lake Pepin. The weekend ice fishermen's trucks leave a convenient wheel rut to walk in. This time we ventured far, far out onto the Lake. I could no longer distinguish the buildings in Maiden Rock. From that vantage point out on the ice, the buildings seemed to fade away or blend into the background. All I could see all around me was a vast expanse of white and then in the distance bluff upon bluff dotted with evergreens and the wooded inlets with their 3-tiered contrasts of honey-brown stands of native grasses against the taller red-brown sumacs against the still taller dark green fir trees. The sun bounced off the snow and glinted off the tops of the trees. The sky was hyacinth blue. Mother Nature - she is glorious.

We stayed out on the Lake for nearly two hours. The dog, at times, was completely out of my sight. Then my eyes would catch a flash of light brown on the white snow, and I'd see him off in the distance, his head turning slowly as he panned the distance until he spotted me. "Ah, there she is - she's fine - I can keep on running" his ears would say (stand-up Shepherd ears can talk), and he'd dash off again and fade from my sight.

As I said, we were out there wandering around on the frozen Lake for nearly two hours. I thought to myself, "I'll stay here forever." And then I clearly heard my mother's voice say in my head, "Not in those pyjama pants."

Suddenly aware of my almost numb hatless, gloveless, pyjama-bottomed self, my dog and I walked back. The bluffs receded and the buildings of Maiden Rock returned.

"A pot of hot tea, " I said to my dog. "Breakfast," said my dog's ears.