Friday, September 16, 2016

Needle and Spoon

            for Buster

This is how we . . .
envelop in our arms, smother
with smooches and nuzzle.

Pull loose skin from endoskeleton,
stick the steel spike in.
Stay still
while the saline bag
empties.

Watch darting eyes
succumb to numbness, until
the slow
drip
stops.

Throw a ball. He
jumps and growls. We
laugh and smile

for as long as he has energy
or until it’s time to feed him.

Fickle, like an infant,
he must be coaxed with airplane noises,

plying tiny spoonful
after hopeful tiny spoonful,
until he
will no longer eat.

This is how we cope, our
addiction, since cancer has claimed
appetite and vigor.

-

I am honored to have "Needle and Spoon" included in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue (#19) of Touch: The Journal of Healing. Touch is publish semiannually with a lot of love and care by The Lives You Touch PublicationsYou should treat yourself to the entire issue, but here is a direct link to my poem.

Eric

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Garden Economics

            The beautiful landscape as we know it
            belongs to those who are like it.
                        —Muso Soseki

Capitalism is    a beautiful weed.
It grows most striking sans constraint
and prospers    for a while
            in fertile soil,
until it chokes
on coiled roots and unrestrained vines,
laissez faire foliage.

A mindful gardener
prunes flora     held so fair
with care,
            with incisiveness,
lest compelled to axe
and spade.

Don’t be all      Edward Scissorhands,
but snip, snip,
            manicure,
manipulate,      cultivate.

Capitalism is    a beautiful weed,
a living, growing thing,
not a delicate thing.

Trim, tend, cultivate
                                    or
axe, spade.

-

"Garden Economics" was included in Issue 13 (Spring 2016) of local Dayton journal Mock Turtle Zine. 

Past issues of Mock Turtle can be viewed online.

Eric

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lost Pepper, Roots of Evil

Lost Pepper

While clawing at the ground,
I think I uncovered history. As others

were digging up bones,
I discovered a miniature bottle

of Tabasco sauce
and a rusty blade.

My brother, the expert, says it’s a piece of crap,
but it cuts. The tiny bottle

makes his mouth water.
He covets the burn—lost pepper, vinegar,

salt in a wound—
sustained in sediment.

I wonder how long it has aged,
savor the burn.


-

Roots of Evil

Picking out parsnips and turnips,
I decide to surprise you with extra beets.
I know how their sweet blood pleases you.

When it drips from your lips,
I realize how ironic it is for a vampire
to be vegan.

You wipe the juice away,
and I pretend to not notice.

You suffered through two root
canals so your hallowed fangs would
not show.

This is how you erase your past.

            But if I
discover a coffin in the cellar,
or find you sleeping while
hanging upside down from the ceiling,

I will regret not buying
rainbow carrots instead.


-

"Lost Pepper" and "Roots of Evilwere published in Issue 12 (Fall 2015) of local Dayton journal Mock Turtle Zine. 

Past issues of Mock Turtle can be viewed online.

Eric


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Overdue Poems

Poor Folk

The book on her nightstand
is by Dostoevsky, one of
his early novels. She
studied him in college,
wrote a master’s thesis on
The Brothers Karamazov, his final.

The main character works as a copyist,
frequently belittled and picked on
by colleagues. His clothes
are worn and dirty. His
cousin is from the country.
He is in love.

But a rich man
proposes. She slowly
becomes accustomed to money
and leaves the copyist
alone. His plea goes
unanswered.

The book goes
unfinished. She has lost momentum.
Life happens too quickly. Two
full-time jobs leave no time
for Russian novels, only
Russian vodka.


-

It Speaks

A book begins to speak,
            tells me
how lonely it is
in dusty stacks, especially
for a book of poems.

Only poets read
            poetry, unless
for academic assessment,
or love inspires
search for clich├ęs.

I take the poor thing home,
prove the truth
            it speaks,
a poet granting poetry
its only wish.

-

"Poor Folks" and "It Speaks" were published in Overdue Poems, a chapbook of work by members of the Wright Library Poets in Celebration of Libraries, Reading and Books, compiled and edited by Grace Curtis and Elizabeth Schmidt and made possible by a grant from the Wright Memorial Public Library Foundation.

Eric



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Two More in Mock Turtle

Not Quite Emo

Death wears a camo jacket
and combat boots,
not much else. Her hair
is pitch over pale
complexity—
eyes sharply lined and shining,
pout painted crimson.

She casts a grim gothic
shadow, reaping
prolonged glances,
double-takes.

            And when
Death cuts,
it’s not herself
the scythe slashes.

Death does not bleed.


-

Educational Services, East Campus, Room 6

A shark with a broken tail
hangs from the ceiling
next to the crab with only one claw.

The students are also broken—
some have twisted bodies
and shuffle sideways

through life's narrow hallways;
others are like the shark
that will bite but cannot swim.

Teachers are torn
like chum in the open sea,
so children can feed.

Some are food for others,
bones discarded, unwanted.
Few survive unscarred.

-

"Not Quite Emo" and "Educational Services, East Campus, Room 6" are included in Issue 9 (Spring 2014) of Mock Turtle Zine. These constitute my fifth contribution to this local Dayton journal.

My poem "The Little Nun that Could" is in Issue 8 (Fall 2013) and "All of a Sudden, but Not" was published in the Spring 2013 issue (#7).  In addition, "Beware of Poet" and "An Ubi Sunt for the Bees" appeared in the Fall 2012 issue (#6) of Mock TurtleIn addition, "An Ubi Sunt . . ." was originally included in issue #5.

Issues of Mock Turtle (including issues #5, #6, #7, #8, and #9) can be viewed online.

Eric

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Little Nun that Could

            for Jill

            When lift plus thrust is greater than
            load plus drag, anything can fly.

There is a moment when
the wind drifts at just the right
angle, rustling leaves, teasing
my habit. I have just the right
song in my heart, producing
lift. The aerodynamics of the
soul is unknown, the purity
of my body, the naivety of my
mind. Nothing tells me I can
not fly, so I try.

-

"The Little Nun that Could" is included in Issue 8 (Fall 2013) of Mock Turtle Zine, my forth contribution to this local Dayton journal.

My poem "All of a Sudden, but Notis included in the Spring 2013 issue (#7) and "Beware of Poet" and "An Ubi Sunt for the Bees" appeared in the Fall 2012 issue (#6) of Mock TurtleIn addition, "An Ubi Sunt . . ." was originally included in issue #5.

Issues of Mock Turtle (including issues #5, #6, #7 and #8) can be viewed online.

Eric



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Second-Hand . . . , to a Sidewalk

Second-Hand Trickster

Coyote the icon, the master. Coyote the student. Coyote the retired horse thief, dropping breadcrumbs and scabs to guide his way home. Coyote the second-hand trickster, finding a lump of coal under his pillow.

Coyote the widower, caressing a dead woman’s hair, remembering the scent of her breasts, the tang of her thighs. Coyote crying into open palms after midnight. Coyote waking in the morning, taking a shower, going to work in an office selling insurance. Coyote the master. Coyote the slave.


-

Ode to a Sidewalk

Steam rises in wisps
after the afternoon sun shower.
The Ginkgo stains you
with its stench.

Dogs sniff and piss on you.
Your cracks kill mothers
by breaking backs, if
children stumble.

Colored chalk tattoos,
hopscotch boxes.

Well-groomed
or shaggy around the edges,
it does not matter.

You take us
where we are going,
even when we wander
for hours.

-

"Second-Hand Trickster" and "Ode to a Sidewalk" are included in Issue 61 of Pudding Magazine.

This is my third contribution to "The Journal of Applied Poetry." My poems "Frost on the Ocean," "Old No. 2," and "This Poem" were published in the Summer 2012 issue, and "And God . . ." and "Peter Pan Must Die" were included in the Summer 2011 issue.  

Pudding Magazine is a hard-copy press. To get a copy of the any single issue or subscribe to the magazine, please go here

Eric

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Little Orphans

God Holds Grudges

The one of us who grew too quickly
makes jokes at the others’ expense.
He laughs at the empathy we share.
He sees nothing clearly, being blind
since birth, both stubborn and angry
at a god who gave him bulk and brawn
but never listens to the prayers he offers,
asking for sight—a hint of color,
asking for what other people have.
And yet he dances on the altar
and rages from a brimstone pulpit
about the sanctity of life and the need
for blind obedience, blind faith, and piety. 
He prays. Then he drinks himself stupid
and slaps the whore who lies beside him
across her red lips because she says
she loves him and that her unborn child
is his. He does not preach forgiveness.
He does not forgive. God holds grudges,
he says. And this is how he worships.
This is how he lives his sorry life.

-
Opening the Mind
Now this
is the key to passing
one piece of knowledge
to another person’s
mind: Take one
tiny microdot
of truth—one
fact plucked
from emotion—
and place it
on your tongue.
Do not savor it
for long. Do
not swallow.
Share it
with the world
one whisper
at a time.
            And
lightning flashes,
sparks fly across synapses,
and sometimes
there is thunder
in the distance.

-
The Good Parts

The dead rabbits seem so sad
as Grandpa’s knife separates fur
from flesh. We are so glad
to have nourishment packed with protein
and luck. We suck marrow
from the bones.

My brother is partial to the brains,
simmered still in the skull
with what’s left of a rich stew.
Grandma stitches the skins together
to make a blanket
for the baby’s new bed.

                                    And I
read to him stories of Br’er Rabbit,
of southern post-war reconstruction,
leaving out the good parts—
the jolly poverty and zip-
a-dee-doo-dah endings.


-

"God Holds Grudges," "Opening the Mind," and "The Good Parts" were published in Issue 9: The Originator (Bo Diddley) of Literary Orphans.  This is my second contribution to this stylistically beautiful online journal. My prose poem "The Meeting Ran Long" was included in Issue 5: Satchmo.

Eric

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Momma Dwarf . . . , Tracing Snowflakes

Momma Dwarf Has Another Child

As if being slapped around and
downgraded wasn’t enough, the “fat asteroid,”
Pluto, has another moon—
barely big enough to spin, yet
pulling weight around her momma’s
midriff. They’ve named her

S/2011 P1, but call her P4 for short.
(All good family names are taken.) Caught
on spy camera playing
between her two closest siblings,
nary a squeak.
She makes it a quartet.

Portraits courtesy
of Hubble Studios.

-

Tracing Snowflakes

My wife is pregnant again,
and I am watching her

as she irons the coarse weaves of my cloak.
I am trying to write, feverishly.

I am Doctor Yuri Zhivago,
and I am in self-imposed exile,

tracing snowflakes on the window.
I am dreaming of Lara.

The Bolsheviks have raided the city
and have purged the souls of the people.

The personal life is dead in Russia.
History has killed it.

I have had my fill of bloodshed.
I have looked at death with wild eyes.

I am coming home to Tonya,
to Lara—
                       
I am coming home. The key
is still where she left it.

-

"Momma Dwarf Has Another Child" and "Tracing Snowflakes" were included in Issue #2 of Vector Press, a hard-copy poetry journal in its first year of publication.

Eric

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Everyday Strangers

I walk the same street every morning,
and every morning, the dogs in one yard
bark at me and my dog, as though
they had never seen us before.

And the pot-bellied pig grunts.
He is as big as the two German Shepherds—
one docile and friendly, the other
always angry.

Then two tiny mutts, constant
in their yap yap yapping, begging
to be stepped on. And Buster, walking beside me,
growls his displeasure once we've passed.

The pig thinks he's a dog. I know;
I've watched him. We are everyday strangers—
our paths habitually crossing, like walking in circles,
like clockwork.

-

"Everyday Strangers" was picked up for publication by The Rusty Nail Magazine.  It appears on the literary magazine's website and in the June-July 2013 issue of The Rusty Nail.

On August 30, 2013, "Everyday Strangers" was read by Conrad Balliet on Conrad's CornerWYSO 91.3 FM as part of his local poets project.

Eric