Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Keeping it alive....

So I come by often enough to keep the page alive - as there's some pretty decent work by some decent folk here - and if that's what it takes for Google to leave it on the webz, good enough for me.

PS: Some of my personal doin's are kept current by a facebook widget in the previous post if you wanna know what's up with me.

Stay versy, my friends....

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New places to visit us/National Poetry Slam News

We're branching out and things are happening:

Jim Keller ("Jim K" and "J.Mayard" are some performing noms de plume) is now a member of the Salt City Slam '06 Team, representing Utah at the 2006 National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas from August 8 - 12.

You can visit SaltCitySlam's new Website for more info, poems, news, podcasts, video clips, spoken word calendars for the state of Utah, etc.


If you want to see some of our personal pages click to go to:

Patricia Smith's Live Journal

Jim Keller's LiveJournal

Susan Schefflein's LiveJournal

This post will be updated as other TPG members set up pages.......

Shut Up and Talk! (Jim)

What is this open mic crap?

I wanna be like open mic??

I feel an opening.
And thank god
it’s not my fly –
‘n dunno why
‘n sometimes drowned out
by the coffee house poet’s pest,
the espresso machine,
but I am opening

I am opening windows in doors
in new places in my head
I never knew were there.
I am opening conduit to vibes
that rattle and shake
the timbers of what
I think I think I feel
what I used to think I feel
I think.

Am I more alive with a mic in my hand
and people in front of me?
Or is it that I’m more than me
when I’m with you
and you’re open and miccing
and we’re opening to each other.

Are you my poet sister,
my writer brother?
Does reciting make us family
or just a mob
incited by recited verse?

We all got here through a narrow passageway
and we’ll all mostly leave in a hearse,
but we’re here for now,
we’re sharing about what we’re caring
about whom we care and share
and rant about what’s fair
and what turns us on
before we’re gone,
the losses we’ve endured –
and it’s live it’s open
it’s here,
it’s the livin’, breathin’,
gut twistin’
clammy armpits
sweaty palms
hands shakin’
tremolo in your voice
spoken goddamn word.

So come on up
this party’s never done –
I know you got a voice too –
know there’s things
lodged deep in you
that beg release,
so get your ass up here with us
and be (effing) heard.

–Jim Keller
December 29, 2005
Draft © J. Keller 2006 All rights reserved.

First Lessons (Susan)

After supper my father and Uncle John
Sit in the living room
Smoke cigars, speak of crops.
We kids play tag on the porch,
Name the living room window
Home base.

First back, I win,
Rush with laughter
Toward my surprise.
It opens wide for me,
Translucent, gleaming mouth.
I enter the room
Swaddled in the sound of shattered glass.
The astonished men rush
To lift my body
From splintered light.

I might imagine how it looked to them,
My human arrow pointing toward their hearts,
But I am already beyond their reach,
Have entered the world of reality
Where pain is possible
And death,
Where everything
Silver and silent as the stars.

–Susan Schefflein
Draft © S. Schefflein 2006 All rights reserved.

Orchard in Stow, 4 October 03

For my Son

Your boy cheeks, elongating to a young man's face,
bones rising from roundness, mimicking the curves
of the ocean of apples, people bobbing among them
returning wet-footed with halfpecks of fruit.

''Tricking the ladder" read the poet Cervone
and my floodgates creaked open to enter the day
when with hurt hearts benumbed we picked apples in rain
and so marked the passing of Walter, your dad.

We noted with pleasure the farmyard display,
the cinnamon doughnuts, the sticks full of honey
when the day just before we had driven north fast
to outpace the moment that had already passed.
From the highway we phoned and embraced our dismay.

You had sat by his bedside, quietly weaving
small rings into chain maille of galvanized steel.
Few words passed---the odd joke, the sly story,
..............move this pillow---
till fatigue overtook him and nurses claimed his time
their efficient poetics of coming and leaving

–Deborah Maier
Draft © D. Maier 2006 All rights reserved.

Loving Ferns (Susan)

I would like to be a lover of ferns
In a place somewhere dark and cool
The sweet scent of spores
Riding through the thick air
Landing willy-nilly upon
Expectant mouths

I would like to lie down
Among fronds turning to me
With the melancholy call
Of mourning doves sliding above my face

I would cover myself with leaves woven of lace
More delicate than that of Irish spinners

I would raise my dry mouth
To be quenched
In the musky, flowing shade

–Susan Schefflein
Draft © S. Schefflein 2006 All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Animal Family (Liz)

Animal Family

The rodents are redundant
this year, having easily survived
last year’s mild winter. We watch
baby chipmunks scamper
from beneath the porch, playing
tag amidst the dry leaves;
rabbits bounce through
a game of hop scotch
in the junipers

Up on the hill the deer graze
on our shrubs, a forest of
forsythia now a razor shaven edge
of barren stalks, blindly awaiting
winter’s deep freeze

Squirrels have burrowed
into the attic, building
a home among the eaves,
arriving and departing
with the ease of a lazy roofer
through a crack in the flashing;
their well fed family proliferates daily.
I climb up, hammer in hand,
but cannot go in for the kill

I should pray for cold weather
to reduce this pesky population;
instead, I am secretly delighted
by the wild kingdom residing
in our own backyard, remnants
of the family we never had

–Liz Burk
Draft © E. Burk 2005 All rights reserved

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Toby's Trial (Prose by Jim)

Animal caretaker for the experimental psychology lab was my decades ago college work-study job. Sans a major during Vietnam draft days, a path to grad school and paying rent were jobs 1 and 1A. So, a farm boy flattered to be noticed by the learned, urban professor recruiting me, and intellectually smitten with Science, I was clay ready for shaping.

Except for one detail, that one main “caretaking” duty was liquidating the animals whose experiments were done, it might have worked out. But the lab produced a constant stream of “retirees” – with no budget to put them down humanely. The extant procedure was, yes, to put 10-20 rats in a bucket – pour in carbon tetrachloride (a cheap toxic dry cleaning fluid) and cover the bucket – until all sounds of frantic motion ceased. A painful, mass, panicked death indeed.

When my boss refused to, I bought more expensive chloroform. Using soaked cotton, I picked up each rat and covered its face. Little struggle or pain, just quick unconsciousness before the bucket. Executing pigeons was more difficult and upsetting as they took longer to die.

What was happening to me? I was now a killer for pay – not my own kind to be sure – but, hands on and personally. And when I began to “devise” ways to lessen the birds’ suffering, it was clear I’d become a scientist all right – if experiments in efficient mass killing are “science.” You may recall a surfeit of such research in Germany and Japan in the 1940's. I did.

Struggling to cope, I began to find homes for a few, as tame white lab rats any lack self-survival skills. Pigeons had a chance, but had to be transported miles (a few at time in my tiny sports car); otherwise they’d congregate on the lab’s roof – and the researchers were callous, not dumb.

Some animals had wires implanted in their brains through a socket attached with sloppily applied pink dental acrylic. One of my courses included placing these into rats’ pain and pleasure centers. They were anaesthetized, placed in a “head vise,” scalps retracted and skull tops sawed off. Hardly neurosurgeons and “unscrubbed,” we aimed our probes with a rat brain “atlas.”

After operating and stitching, we returned the unconscious to their reasonably clean cages. Recoverees were “culled” by being hooked to a shocking apparatus for testing, e.g., a rodent squealing and writhing meant we had a viable pain center subject.

School and work grew increasingly surreal. "Pay to play" had become "Kill to graduate." Late one night two friends and I got fairly wasted and went to the lab. Rod in particular was never averse to skirting the edge of the bizarre, but both were blown away watching rats pressing bars to receive pleasure shocks – you may have heard about rats in these experiments dying of thirst because they wouldn't stop to drink....

My buddies decided a mock trial for a rat might somehow assuage my dilemma. One acted as defense counsel for “Toby” (named on the spot), the other prosecutor for “pure research” and I the judge. Frankenstein-headed rats weren’t placeable, plus might garner unwanted attention (and while killing university property was my job, stealing it was a felony). Thus Toby, an innocent rat in a kangaroo court, was sentenced to die – by turning the pleasure machine’s power all the way up.

The guys thought this a great way to go... ...blazing out in an orgasmic explosion....... ....and in my slaughter-benumbed soul, I decided, think what you will, it couldn’t be much worse than inhaling chemical death in a dark, crowded, bucket. So hesitating only briefly, I set the controls to maximum.......

Hooked to his wired tether, well-trained Toby approached the bar.... ...and when he pressed it.... ....jumped half his height off the ground!!

Then lay quivering. But soon got up... ...went right back.... ...and pressed more vigorously than ever, acclimating to the new intensity of ecstasy. So Toby had the pleasurefest of a lab rat’s life before dying “normally” a few days later. And taught me a lesson.

No, I didn’t start a humane animal research movement – would that I had. But things change, and maybe I shouldn’t be cynical. Maybe standards are tighter now? Maybe that lab was an exception?? Maybe, maybe, maybe......

At the time, though, my only focus was leaving this charnel house. I soon quit my federally subsidized job and found an honest gig in a gas station. And set about becoming something – and someone – else.

–Jim Keller
September 6, 2005 Draft © 2005 by J. Keller.
All rights reserved. World Rights Reserved.
(Excerpted version published in "Readers Write" Sun Magazine No. 360, Dec. 2005)

Lines (Susan)

That winter I was eight
You took me ice fishing,
Wrapped me in bright yellow rope and tied it to a tree on shore.
Don’t disappear on me, you said.

Grown now, I hold your hand
Remembering opaque lines are for liquid
Gray lines hold you securely to your bed
While you in dream imagine us
Back on the boat again.

The morning we went to see the osprey’s nest,
You pointed to a spider web
Soft and shimmering on the stern,
Marveled how it held in the wind
All the way across the lake.

The last thing we saw on shore
A child holding a frayed rope
Knotted to a maple branch.
Swinging out over the water and back,
His wet toes digging into the sky.

–Susan Schefflein
Draft ©2005 S. Schefflein All Rights Reserved

Mouse (Prose by Deborah)

She had seen them before, children hunkered over in the middle of a sidewalk, or hunched on their elbows, butts up, hands busy, faces attentive. Blowing that odd yellowgrey dust this way and that. Dust half pollution, silt from cars humming a bodylength away. Half of it that same earth blown in from the desert south of Tehran, and slaked off houses on the way. Blowing it into piles, runnels, feeble towers, micro-architecture for citydwellers’ brutal shoes to annihilate.

A tiny tube in his mouth, the child was oblivious to the traffic-stuck taxi rider. Who saw that dust caked on his lips and cheekbones, powdering his hair. The tube like a fat spaghetti, that allowed for intricacies and arabesques in that most uncooperative medium. Had he learned the tube from watching an elder at his heroin ritual, she wondered. Gotten it from there, even. His wornsoft shirt flapped on skinny arms in a stifling blastoven breeze. She coughed away the dust, kept looking.

These were no children, though. Men possibly thirty, miserable with no wives, or with them, their sex worn blatantly in their swagger, blissful, dumb. She with her imperfectly concealed light hair, normally a butt for this type, their leers, now going unnoticed. She relished the moment of obscurity, focused through the oppressive sunlight, took in the tableau.

The dry cleaner was away, still on siesta maybe, but business would pick up soon. They would need to finish their game. Whose nature she could almost, not quite yet, see. A child coming from the stores beyond wriggled free of his mother’s grip, came forward, as she did, shavings to a magnet There was laughter, of delight it seemed, or of someone-made-a-fool-of ilk. A flea circus, she thought, noting the small circle of attention, the minute reactions. The mother saw sooner, yanked the child homeward, veilwrap in her teeth, muttering imprecations or godforgiveusses.
A shallow box, a tiny writhing furry thing lay back, tail sweeping under it. On its belly a slit, like a vent but newly minted, mouth of rodent hell. The men gleefuly fingered down its paws, and held a dropper over it. Filled with dry cleaning fluid. Mindful of its poison stroke, careful to await its full effect, drop by dropperful they worked. A dark clot formed in her middle, nausea and anger in equal parts.

Theatre, she thought, or film, as they say here, that’s just film, or something played for an effect. So she was the effect, perhaps, that was her part, so though it seemed as though it could not be, that grown men could not be tormenting a small animal right there, there it was and there she was, the one-who-saw-and-had-to-say. It really was not her business how they got their gratification, she knew, yet no. Would the boys back home do it, if bereft of televisions, loinclothed gladiators, shoulderpadded aggressors, wives to knock on? Was she the emissary from a land of virtue, crossed her mind. Who had any room to talk, who had every right to--? No but just a bystander, surely, maybe not so innocent, who could say, speak out as anyone would but yet no one did.
No one did so it took relatively little time to do the righteous deed. Appeals to shamesense came easily, discovered late and exercised often. Hearing her clunky protest, the word torture as it came mangled out of her mouth, one of the men cried with overlarge how-can-I-help-it gesture, But Khanum! He was eating the clothes! And returned to his labors.

It really took only the time to scan the bent attentive backs, hear the raspy laughs, hear the little beast scraping and thumping, muffled squeaks. Her words were puny, laughable, separate from some other intent. Which drove her boots to the midst of the circle, all politesse aside. On their mercy mission, their gut justice jag. She gave them their papers, released their brute energy, said That’s right. And as she felt the volumes, bloated baby fingers, of mouse organs flattened, took a mental picture. Remembered the featherlike bones of a roast pigeon she’d eaten in Cairo once. Was glad for the width of her heels and the fineness of their construction. The way their edges met the ground. She felt under them the box turning, sliding; under them, small life ebbing. And walked on trembling, not looking back.

–Deborah Maier
Previously published in: Inkwell
©2001 D. Maier All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Generations (Susan)

These permanencies remain.
Arched windows
Through which the browned leaf
Reflects the end of season.

Soft swell of music from
Antiphonal choirs faced off
Across the church loft.

The transient put aside
Here by the altar
Where I place myself
Midway between two voices
Heard as one.

Some sat here other Sundays
Took bread and wine
Witnessed marriage
Mourned the departed

Like Clara Stevens
Laid to rest in 1926
With thanks
For fifty selfless years
Of teaching Sunday school.

The choirmaster claps hands
In the loft above.

”Start again at letter C.
There’s time
Before the audience arrives
To do it right.”

–Susan Schefflein
Draft © 2005 S. Schefflein All Rights Reserved.

James Wright ‘s “Two Hangovers”

(From The Branch Will Not Break, 1963
Submitted by Susan)

Number One
I slouch in bed.
Beyond the streaked trees of my window,
All groves are bare.
Locusts and poplars change to unmarried women
Sorting slate from anthracite
Between railroad ties:
The yellow-bearded winter of the depression
Is still alive somewhere, an old man
Counting his collection of bottle caps
In a tarpaper shack under the cold trees
Of my grave.

I still feel half drunk,
And all those old women beyond my window
Are hunching toward the graveyard.

Drunk, mumbling Hungarian,
The sun staggers in,
And his big stupid face pitches
Into the stove.
For two hours I have been dreaming
Of green butterflies searching for diamonds
In coal seams;
And children chasing each other for a game
Through the hills of fresh graves.
But the sun has come home drunk from the sea,
And a sparrow outside
Sings of the Hanna Coal Co. and the dead moon.
The filaments of cold light bulbs tremble
In music like delicate birds.
Ah, turn it off.

Number Two:
I Try to Waken and Greet the World Once Again

In a pine tree,
A few yards away from my window sill,
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down,
On a branch.
I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do
That the branch will not break.

Harry Krishna (Jim)

Harry Krishna

Used to be
My life was filled with me
and me, me, me.

I had this little ego prob
you see.

But now I never fumble
at being humble
and I'm so proud
I could should aloud.

–Jim Keller
1983 (or thereabouts)
Draft © 2005 J. Keller All Rights Reserved.

In some perverse way I miss those
guys in the airports........

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Myth of the Shower Curtain

A Dialogue

“Psycho is your most disturbing film.
No shower for me since that day.
Bereft the pleasure of soothing
Stream of water warming,
Gone into the nightmare of your need,
People clutching their seats with fear,
I bathe, my back to the faucets
Face toward the door

“Don’t complain. I made you famous.
Marion Crane my creation for the world.
People buy shower curtains with
The silhouette of the murderer on them, you beneath.
The knife gave you immortality.”

“I gave the knowledge of an unsafe world,
And learned the dark side of your personality.
Day after day you placed that mummy in my dressing room,
Waiting for me to scream
Waiting for the moment
My fear would reach the breaking point.”

“I am the Director.
I give people what they want,
A view into the abyss,
The absolute knowledge that all can be lost
In the moment of a door opening
A figure moving toward a curtain
Lifting a knife.”

“I leave it to the stand-in, the only scene you let me use a stand-in for,
The woman Tony Perkins lugged from the bathroom
Wrapped in the shower curtain.
An unknown lump of flesh millions saw encased in plastic,
Dragged into the future
Forever fulfilling the myth of a world of horror.”

Susan Schefflein
Draft © 2005 S. Schefflein All Rights Reserved.

A Sixties Story

- In Memory of Little Joe-

Who smiled and nodded through the night,
eyes shining in a walnut puckered face,
while we passed the bowl of bitter plants
in silence around the circle, sitting inside
the deerskin teepee from the time
the sun disappeared over the blooded orange
Sangre de Christo Mountains to vertigo tipped
dawn fringed with pink purple stripes
in dry New Mexican skies,

Who chanted in tongues unknown
but in words that pierced the heart
understood, then passed the rattle and drum
from hand to hand so we could beat
the rhythms and sing the songs of the lives
we brought to the teepee from all corners
of the earth to the clear New Mexican night,
where we heaved the contents from our bellies
and the fireman shoveled out the sick,
leaving us with our pure peyote dreams,

Who built his adobe hut brick by
muddy brick studded with straw
on the sage desert with the hippie woman
from the east who married Little Joe
so she could pray with the Pueblos,
work the land, and sing the songs
of the Native Americans who taught us
how to live with the earth
and each other,

Who died silently in our midst,
who we buried in our hearts,
who lives now and forever
in the vast New Mexican sky.

–Liz Burk
Draft © 2005 L. Burk All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Character Study (Patricia)

As soon as I scripted a line that blessed him
with a functioning heart, he strode naked
out of my novel, squeezed his squirming head
through the space in a double-spaced line and
gaped at me, eyes wounded by my indecision.
He shoved at a weakened verb and ripped the
prose wide open, bled twisted smell on the keys,
laughed maniacally at the optimistic progression
of page numbers. His huge mouth was crammed
with misplaced teeth, having existed as both
empty howl and sputtering door slammed shut.
He was nude and ashy, swathed in stiff denim,
his voice base gravel, then rootless and defiant,
his eyes pulsed gray, bottomless black, flat green
with flecks of spittle, his height wavered, his flat
tattooed gut pouted, then didn’t. He was scarred
by every change I’d made, every strike-through,
cut/paste, backspace, delete, all the unleased
betrayal that roars through prose. I built him
from a knowing of adjectives, piled on detail and
declaration, and now he is overdone, dragging
all that weight and wheezing when he breathes.
The boy patiently loads his pockets with stones,
bottle caps and jagged pieces of glass, waiting for
the moment when the skin of my neck is exposed.
Only 11, he scans me with man eyes and says it,
claiming my nights, advancing the plot in a way
that can’t be undone. He says: Give me a name.

– Patricia Smith
Draft © 2005 P. Smith All Rights Reserved.

Kirstie Allie Meets Calista Flockheart (Liz)

Over dinner, the following conversation was heard:

“Callie, how do you manage to stay so thin?
Tell me the secret of your strength within.
The stakes are enormous, we’re filled to the brim
with pressures to always look sexy and trim.

I have so much trouble, can’t hide my sins
Whenever I eat, I compulsively binge
My meds don’t work, can’t fight that urge
And I haven’t yet got the hang of purge.”

“Allie dear, listen here,” Calista replies,
“It’s all genes and upbringing, this issue of size.
Calorie has always been a bad word
My own mother taught me to eat like a bird.

My history with food was marked from the start
With ambivalence filling my hungry heart
I obsessed about weight, I barely grew breasts
I wanted a body without ripples of flesh
I dreamt of women with tummies concave,
Cadaverous cheekbones of girls from the grave.

“Ohmigod” said Kirstie, I’ll never hack it
I obsess about chocolates lined up in their jackets
The mysteries of coconuts, cherries and creams
Appear almost nightly in all of my dreams.
Truffles, caramels, chocolate double dutch
On the tip of my tongue, melt at my touch.

Cassoulet, leek soup, potato cheese soufflé
Fettucini alfredo, bananas flambé,
Butter slathered on a loaf of hot bread
A steak so rare the cow’s not quite dead.

And if you’ve got a headache you can’t endure
Here’s the best meal for a hangover cure:
A Big Mac, greasy fries, a strawberry shake,
Finish it off with apple crunch cake.”

“Oh Kirstie, my dear, that sounds utterly gross.
My taste is quite different, I prefer dry toast
And mood’s a factor, I was born in a funk
I’m driven to eat like a Tibetan monk.
But a diet of rice and weeds from the sea
Leaves me without much energy
And sex is a no-no, my libido is dead
I used to indulge, now I live in my head.”

The waiter appeared at the table for two.
It was time for dessert, the moment of truth
“None for me” said Callie, she sat small and prim
“Bring it on,”said Kirstie, she looked rather grim
“I’d rather be fat, fun loving and crude
Than be skinny, unhappy, and never get screwed.”

– Liz Burk
Draft © 2005 L. Burk All Rights Reserved.

The Grande Dame and the Painter (Deborah)

(in progress)

When Mary Wortley Montagu
Met Monsu Desiderio.
She slipped off her cloak
...............And kicked off a shoe
Saying, would you wish to tarry, oh?

The lady of letters, the man of pigment
Circled each other across decades.
He said Lady, you are of my prescience a figment!
And she: Sir, your sulfurous vision ne’er fades.

Said he, tell me, your face: why so pitted, craterous?
Parried she: to well-being your pix are most traitorous!
Quoth the painter, Many, lady, by your wit have been bitten!
And my Self, she ripostes, by the Pox have been smitten!

– Deborah Maier
Draft © 2005 D. Maier All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Roots (Susan)

This is my grandfather
He teaches me to be quiet
To wait

He teaches me to plant
To dip water
Drop by drop, gentle
Upon the sprouting seeds
Strawberry and melon ripening
In the sun

He grows me green
Plants and plentiful
Bread and fish to eat
His roots twine
Ancient, fragile
Around my feet
Binding me to earth

He disappears into the sun
Leaving me rooted in the soil
He hides somewhere
Waiting for me

I will uncoil from tangled roots
Become a bird
Fly away to find him

Susan Scheffein
Draft © 2005 S. Schefflein All Rights Reserved.

“Settlin’ the Score in Ellsinore” (Jim)

(First draft of an assignment to write a dialog between historical figures who never could've met in real life............ Jim)

“Settlin’ the Score in Ellsinore”..............................
– or – ..............................
“The Get On in Avon”................................

(Seats Still Available ........................................
Call Ticketron Today) .....................................

The Bard never hit as hard as The Floater
(at least not below the cortex)
but both were dexterious dancers
in their days and ways
and both were poets.

“’Tis most passing strange
my pugilistic partner
that thee and me be paired
in such odd contest.”

“I know what you mean,
‘cos altho’ we get on pretty keen
you’re paunchy and white
an’ I’m black and lean.

“I mean ya’ tagged me at the weigh in
but don’t be thinkin’
no pen’s mightier than my fist

“It’s only I been out of the ring
plus my mamma told me
never hurt helpless old folk
so I was pullin’ my punch
when you ducked
and I missed.”

“Oh, if only t’were true,
but we are well and truly met
so you needn’t retain a reserve
for I’ll be giving you all you deserve.
And do take care lest all that
but too solid
well-conditioned flesh
should melt away.

“For I have come not to bury you perforce,
rather your fierce prowess to praise,
and while ne’er dreaming of what a rub I’d need
were you to catch and smite me in a squared ring,
yet around you rings I shall write.”

“In your dreams you pale old man
I am beauty, I am truth in a glove,
I am the plan.
And before we hit four
You’ll be down on the floor.
You think your plays are the thing,
but you ain’t felt my sting.”

“Indeed Sirrah
should your uppercut connect
and put me deep into sleep
who knows what dreams would arise from
Oblivion’s indigo depths?

But luckily I shall not likely
face that eventuality
as people say,
‘Alas poor Ali, whom well I knew.’

“S’more likely they’ll be sayin’
‘Here lies Will,
who thought he could take on the greatest,
now laid out pretty damn still.”

–Jim Keller
Draft © 2005 J. Keller All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lucille Clifton's "BROTHERS"

(being a conversation in eight poems between an aged Lucifer and God, though only Lucifer is heard. The time is long after.)


come coil with me
here in creation’s bed
among the twigs and ribbons
of the past. ihave grown old
remembering the garden,
the hum of the great cats
moving into language, the sweet
fume of the man’s rib
as it rose up and began to walk.
it was all glory then,
the winged creatures leaping
like angels, the oceans claiming
their own. let us rest here a time
like two old brothers
who watched it happen and wondered
what it meant.

how great Thou art

listen. You are beyond
even Your own understanding.
that rib and rain and clay
in all its pride,
its unsteady dominion,
is not what you believed
You were,
but it is what You are;
in your own image as some
lexicographer supposed.
the face, both he and she,
the odd ambition, the desire
to reach beyond the stars
is You. All You, all You
the loneliness, the perfect

as for myself

less snake than angel
less angel than man
how come i to this
serpent’s understanding?
watching creation from
a hood of leaves
i have foreseen the evening
of the world.
as she as she
the breast of Yourself
separated out and made to bear,
as sure as her returning,
i too am blessed with
the one gift You cherish;
to feel the living move in me
and to be unafraid.

in my own defense

what could I choose
but to slide along behind them,
they whose only sin
was being their father’s children?
as they stood with their backs
to the garden,
a new and terrible luster
burning their eyes,
only You could have called
their ineffable names,
only in their fever
could they have failed to hear.

the road led from delight

into delight. into the sharp
edge of seasons, into the sweet
puff of bread baking, the warm
vale of sheet and sweat after love,
the tinny newborn cry of calf
and cormorant and humankind.
and pain, of course,
always there was some bleeding,
but forbid me not
my meditation on the outer world
before the rest of it, before
the bruising of his heel, my head,
and so forth.

“the silence of God is God.”
--Carolyn Forche

tell me, tell us why
in the confusion of a mountain
of babies stacked like cordwood,
of limbs walking away from each other,
of tongues bitten through
by the language of assault,
tell me, tell us why
You neither raised your hand
Nor turned away, tell us why
You watched the excommunication of
That world and You said nothing.

still there is mercy, there is grace

how otherwise
could I have come to this
marble spinning in space
propelled by the great
thumb of the universe?
how otherwise
could the two roads
of this tongue
converge into a single
how otherwise
could I, a sleek old
curl one day safe and still
beside YOU
at Your feet, perhaps,
but, amen, Yours.

“………is God.”

having no need to speak
You sent Your tongue
splintered into angels.
even i,
with my little piece of it
have said too much.
to ask You to explain
is to deny You.
before the word
You were.
You kiss my brother mouth.
the rest is silence.

Lucille Clifton
From “The Book of Light” (Copper Canyon Press)

Quotes from James Dickey and Paul Blackburn (Patricia)

“…What you have to realize when you write poetry, or if you love poetry, is that poetry is just naturally the greatest god damn thing that ever was in the whole universe. If you love it, there’s just no substitute for it. I mean, you read a great line, or somebody’s great poem, well, it’s just there! I also believe that after all the ages and all the centuries and all the languages, that we’ve just arrived at the beginning of what poetry is capable of.

All of the great poets: the Greek poets, the Latins, the Chinese, the French, German, Spanish, English—they have only hinted at what could exist as far as poems and poetry are concerned. I don’t know how to get this new kind of sound, or this new kind of use in language, but I am convinced that it can be done by somebody, maybe not by me, but by somebody.

I feel about myself as a writer like John the Baptist did, when he said, ‘I prepare the way for one who is greater than I.’ Yeah, but look who it was!”

--James Dickey

“I wouldn’t even know whether a poem was finished or not unless my ear told me. I think music must be in the poem somewhere. Poetry is traditionally a musical structure. Now that forms are as open as they are, each poem has to find its own form. It has to do with the technique of juxtaposition and reading from the breath line and normal speech raised to its highest point. But that’s abstracting a principle. When you’re writing, these things are at the back of your mind. It’s almost as through your technique is in your wrists and you’re sitting at a typewriter instead of a piano.

As far as I’m concerned, people who don’t hear the poems are missing a good deal, and a poet who doesn’t hear his own poems is missing everything.”

--Paul Blackburn

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Orange Gloves (Brad)

The top three requirements for a successful navy,
Are: sailors, ships and, an ocean.
Curiously, about a thousand miles
From the nearest ocean,
Very close to Chicago, is a huge navy base
Called Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
This is where newly enlisted sailors go for what
The Navy calls “Basic Training”.
Most know it as “Boot Camp”.
To me it was six weeks of annoyance,
Marching, shouting, being shouted at,
Laughing, crying, growing up,
Losing weight, gaining weight,
Getting sick, getting fit,
Running, pushing up, jumping jack,
Swabbing, scrubbing, painting,
Folding, stenciling, stowing,
Lacing, polishing, stomping,
Showering, shaving, shooting,
Rushing, waiting, sleeping
And dreaming of going home,
Mostly, missing what I left,
Until Graduation Day.

A light snow fell outside the barracks.
Enter the Company Commander,
Attention on deck!
The man in khaki shouted (he always shouted),
Allums, Brown, Jundra, Kepko,
Kinter, Washington, Yale,
Report to the main gate
To greet your visitors!
Easier for some families
Who lived close to Chicago
To see their son graduate
Into the United States Navy.
As the rest of us waited nervously,
All our sea bags packed and stacked,
The Company Commander entered
With four more lists of men
To report to the main gate.
To greet their visitors.
Each name he shouted
Drove me as effectively as a hammer,
Deeper into a dark and lonely depression.

As the ceremony approached,
The Company Commander entered
One more time, to shout one more name.
Moroni, report to the main gate!
I was shocked by the thought
That my parents (maybe even my older brother)
Traveled all the way from Connecticut
To see me enter this new phase in my life.
Double time!
I triple timed. I quadruple timed.
I ran as fast as I could.
Elated and sweating in my pea coat,
My heart racing as I burst
Into the block building at the gate.
My name is Moroni!
I huffed as I looked around for my family.
Take these and follow him!
The second class petty officer at the counter
Said as he handed me a pair of gloves.
Special gloves. Rubber coated cotton gloves
With stretchy cotton bands at the wrists.
Tremendous gloves, bigger
And more orange than any gloves I’ve ever seen.
When I put the enormous gloves on,
My hands looked like they had been run over
And flattened by a cartoon steamroller.
As I stood on the tarmac,
Waving cars past me
With my ridiculous clown-like hands,
Hearing Anchors Aweigh blaring
Over the thousands of people
Graduating and watching
Their sons graduate,
I laughed at myself.

–B. R. Moroni
Draft © 2005 B.R. Moroni All rights reserved.

August Commute (Jim)

Driving home on a Triple-H day
with the A/C conked out
(sweatin’ in the very worst way),
began to fear I was about to expire
(even while giving my all
to my need to perspire)!

My humid gaze gathering in
the shimmering sea
of unending traffic –
suddenly struck by a thot
a vision so graphic –
felt myself transformed
in spirit reborn –
couldn’t wait to share
lay my soul bare –
nothing else mattered
illusions all shattered!

No heat anymore
no 10,000 cars stretched out ahead,
no, just me and the insight
now filling my head,
Exit 10, Exit 9
countin’ down
(ain’t life fine!)
past the mall, round the wall –
Then at last into the drive
(man, I felt so excited,
never felt so alive)!

Bounding up the steps
I ran in, ran about
now babbling, now whispering
I talked in a shout –
but as I tried with each of my family
to share my wondrous epiphany
they all ran away –
once they got their first whiff o’me!

Well the story’s moral is simple:
no need to feel dour –
when you’re given a vision
(of whatever power) –
just please wait to share it –
‘til after you shower!

– Jim (Eureka) Keller
September 4, 2002
Draft © 2005 J. Keller All rights reserved

Monday, October 10, 2005

Inside a Grieving Heart (Vince)

A country road cuts
through a meadow, its
dusty beige path stretching
out to who knows where.

The meadow grass,
golden from the sun,
stands tall and still.
Up above, a goldfinch
bounds in flight against
a blank, blue sky.
The air is coated with
the smell of sweetfern.
Cicadas sing from roadside
oak trees, whose limbs
spread wide from stout trunks.
Water runs smoothly
over round rocks
in a nearby brook.

Under one of the oaks,
a young man stands alone,
staring down the road,
waiting, weeping

-VT Polywoda
Draft © 2005 V.T. Polywada All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Jim Keller Live in Nyack, NY Wed. Oct 19

“Poetry is Dangerous”

A Performance Poetry Event Featuring:

Jim Keller

A long time Rockland Resident

returns from Utah to entertain and astound you
(or something like that....)
with his unique brand of live poetry

The Nyack Center
58 So. Broadway (at corner of Depew Ave) ● Nyack, NY

Wednesday, Oct. 19 ● 7:30 pm

Open Mic After Performance

358-2600 ● Suggested Contribution: $3.00

Jim Keller is a Performance Poet who divides his time between Utah and Rockland County. He’s done concert appearances in Woodstock, Nyack, Salt Lake City and elsewhere, and has read in LA, NYC, Westchester, Wyoming and NJ.

Jim has also won several Poetry Slam competitions, helps maintain a poetry blog (this one!) and wrote a book of “Hy-Tek Hyku” in 2003. Jim’s fine art photography has also appeared in juried shows

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Vera (Susan)

Our neighbor, Vera, my classmate’s mother,
Used her husband’s belt,
Genuine Italian saddle leather,
Size thirty-six,
Knotted to the clothes bar,
Then, around her neck.

The deliveryman told us
In the middle of supper.
Reported the news to shocked spoons
Raised to unaccepting lips.
“Hanged herself in her bedroom closet,” he said.

My mother cried,
I slipped away
Sat on the front porch step
Looking up toward Vera’s house.
I held a square of chocolate cake
And suddenly could not eat.

The dog rubbed her nose against my side,
Wagged her tail.
I held the cake out to her,
Sprinkles raining on her eager paws.
She wolfed it down,
Then licked my face, slowly,
With her sweet, chocolate tongue.

–Susan Schefflein
Draft © 2005 S. Schefflein All rights reserved. World Rights Reserved.

Jekyll and Ice (Jim)

Walking down on Broadway
the sky was filled with diamonds –
they were snowflakes in the night lights
falling softly to the street –
And while wishing you were with me
so we could share this winter moment –
A woman walked ‘gainst the wind
toward me,
hat down –
gaze fixed firmly at her feet.

There was this outfit in the Thrift Shop
I was certain you would die for,
while thru the bistro’s steamy panes,
no diners even saw me turning white –
Ambling down the sidewalk
past the shopwares in the windows;
sinking deeper into nightdreams –
taking in the frigid crystal sights.

Then, scraping white stuff from the windshield
and stamping frozen water from my feet;
the scene took on a...
...harsher meaning...
Driving home, alone, to sleep,
hands clenched,
white knuckled to the wheel –
slipping, sliding down the street.

Beauty oft extracts a price
and beauty can be cold –
still, I gladly pay its fare....

There’s always lots of icy streets –
but even on a lonely night –
beauty’s all too rare.....

–Jim Keller
Jan 19, 2004
Draft © 2005 J. Keller All rights reserved. World Rights Reserved.

Eating Disorder? (Brad)

Do you think I have an eating disorder
Because I eat more than I oughta?
I know I’m fat and getting fatter
I look in the mirror and get madder and madder.
I ate all the food that was in my house
I ate my goddamned computer mouse.
I went to a vineyard and ate all the grapes.
I went to the zoo and ate all the apes
No, I didn’t eat the fuckin’ lion
But it wasn’t for lack of fuckin’ tryin’
I tried to eat the steel cage
But the lion went into a rage.
The trouble started long ago
Long before that Fear Factor show
When I was a kid I ate my crayolas
When I was a cop I ate my payola
I ate my next-door neighbor’s car
I went to a nightclub and ate the bar
Then I ate all the booze and the glasses
I ate the stools from under the asses
Because I eat more than I oughta
Do you think I have an eating disorder?

I went to the library and ate all the books
Talk about your dirty looks
I went to Italia and ate all the pastas
I went to Jamaica mon and ate all the Rastas
I went to Mongolia and ate all the hoards
I went to Afghanistan and ate the warlords
I ate the flowers in front of my home
I even ate my garden gnome
I ate three French hens and two turtle doves
I ate Michael Jackson’s other glove
I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly
Big fucking deal I just ate twelve pies
And thirty plums and eighteen peaches
I ate the sand off seven beaches
I’d like to try to be athletic
But I eat so damned much it’s pathetic
I tried to run but I ate the track
I tried doing drugs but I ate my crack
I can’t sleep because I ate my bed
I just stand around and eat instead
Do you think I have an eating disorder
Because I eat more than I oughta?

–B.R. Moroni
Draft © 2005 B.R. Moroni All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 26, 2005

Poetry is Dangerous (Jim)

Live poetry is Dangerous!
Prob’ly should be banned.

Why, next thing y’know,
you let this stuff go –
free speech to the extreme
in the public ring –
all kinds’a things
start to get outta hand!

Still, tonight’s not about who wins
some philosophical battle or other –
and s’not about where I stand –
So no debates about candidates –
or heapin’ grief
on any belief

S’not that I don’t have enough “positions”
to fill a Kama Sutra of the mind,
I do, I do, I DO!
But my mission here’s more subtle –
to engage, not enrage.

Don’t I have to confront you to move you, tho’ –
grab you,
shake you down
to your roots?

Don’t think so.
If I arch your back
you’ll just deflect my attack –
You’re used to propaganda
You won’t be moved by spin.
A head on assault?
It’ll fail by default!
For it’s not some poem – or poet you face
when you gaze into yer soul’s deepest mirror.
It’s you.

So tonight while I exposit
and you’ve lent me your ears –
if in some fairly uncommon ways –
this’s really about –
our common hopes and fears.

I mean, I figure if I help you rejigger
just one’ve yer notions–
you know,
move a little of your most stagnant
mental furniture ‘round –
Well, once that step’s taken –
Once you’re ready
for a little life upshakin’ –
Once there’s a breach in yer comforting wall –
Then an open mind’s absolutely
the most dangerous state –
of all.

–Jim Keller
Oct 5, 2004
Draft © 2004 J. Keller All rights reserved. World Rights Reserved.

The Vanity Table (Susan)

I take my place before the antique table.
Carved grape leaves inlaid with gentian flower
Curl slyly round the edge.

Wood panel lifts revealing the mirror
Of mother’s precious Vanity,
Tilted to receive my waiting face,
Fairest of them all.

I bare my breasts only in dreams,
In the public room, the place of prying eyes,
I cover them again
With white cloth smooth as open palms.

I am years swollen
With pretense and smiles
To please the Prince.
Evenings of Loretta Young

Swirling through an open door,
Standing on the dining room buffet
In spike heels
To give the full effect.

I’ve served my term,
A thousand tubes of lipstick past,
Powder puffs, cold cream,
Eyeliners ground away on half closed lids.

Give back my life.
This time, I’ll make it real.

–Susan Schefflein
© Susan Schefflein
Published in Each In Her Own Way, 1994