a day (like any other)

a day like any other
sunrise in the east
breathe in breathe out
sunset in the west
the rest is silence




NPR Sunday Puzzle Listener Challenge May 20, 2018: The challenge comes from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. Take the title of a famous Hollywood flop. Change an A to an R, then rearrange the letters to spell a famous box office hit — which went on to spawn sequels. What films are these?

I send in my answer
hoping against long odds
to be chosen to play next week
on the air with Will Shortz:

Heaven’s Gate,
change an A to an R,
rearrange the letters
to spell The Avengers.

How the smallest details
change everything, a rainy day
and an offer of assistance
beneath an awning tent

Or even a single boiled potato
rolled in Kosher salt
to quell this intense hunger
I barely knew I had.


My night was plagued by cats.
Cats on my couch.
Cats on my legs.
Cats on my pillow.
Cats on my face.
Cats in my dreams.
Cats speaking German, calling, All aboard.
Cats in Parliament, wearing powdered wigs.
Cats meowing love songs to the moon.

The Cove

Sometimes it aches me to the bone,
deep as the bellow of a big bull sea lion
like the one we stepped around to get
to the little beach of wet low-tide sand

Between the rocks of the cove on the night
that the full moon splintered every wavetop
all the way to the far shore, more peaks
and troughs than the moments that make

A life.  I used to swim there on warm days
with the garibaldi, bright little orange suns,
and the manta rays gliding fifty feet below
with their shadows flying the golden sand

Just below them like great black birds.
Kelp trees swayed languorously in the deep
like the motions of lovers’ hands waving
at a distance as they mouth the word goodbye.

Reach for my hand, I called, and we’ll leap
together to the bottom step to climb above
the turning tide and begin the resolute way
back to our lives on this dry and unforgiving land.

The Four-Chambered Heart — 4 Poems for V-Day

Four recycled poems for your consideration:

1. This one is in my new book, Dating Tips for Conservatives (2017) (for sale at link). It was written 5 years ago.


A girl named Bambi
left a heart-shaped box of chocolates
in my locker in sixth grade.

The photo of the nurse and the sailor
on V-J Day by Albert Eisenstaedt,
the woman dressed all in white
and arched like a crescent moon.

Eve Ensler with black bangs,
black dress and bright red lips.

Dating tips for Conservatives:
Take her to a gun range.
Shooting some rounds with your girlfriend
is a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Cartoon caption:
If I can’t buy you dinner,
at least let me pay you for sex later.

Eros with arrows,
again with the shooting.


2. This one was published in a contributors series at Voxpoetica.com in 2010

Our Volition Was in Not Turning

Scraps of paper
lifted on a careless wind,
these are my verses tonight.
You came to me so –

the familiar face on the
peeling wheat-paste poster
blown across the square,
come alive at my feet,

deft motion of fate’s blind impulse.
This wind was not of our doing.
Our volition was in not turning,
in being that shape in the flow.

Take my hand, you said,
step with me into this landscape,
let us tumble like leaves, let us curl
like tendrilled smoke.

It is the same with this poem –
it found me on a windy night,
and when I did not turn away,
that was the beginning of love.

3. Another, from 2013

Shape of a Heart

We play the game called Exquisite Corpse —
you with the curlicued lust lines
of your tragic fine-point pens,
I with charcoal-smudged
weather reports and raucous blackbirds —
two sides unseen of the same
folded paper’s fearful symmetry.

I hand you the scalpel, Dottoressa,
and turn away at the first red spots
beading along the curve you cut,
a rotated cardioid, the rolling circle
that traces a two-lobed valentine.

4. Also in my Dating Tips book (for sale at link), from 2015

The Apparati of Flight

Sinew hinges, struts made of hollow bone,
feathers to catch the air, to gather it up
and shape it into dreams that hold us

Aloft.  Forward we pump ourselves, wingbeats
and heartbeats, feathers aligned against the pull
of prevailing winds.  Hope, yes, is one thing

With feathers.  Another is the egg.  Whole
or broken, it is a beautiful reminder.  But
this sky, too, is made of pale eggshells and

The sun, a yellow-bright yolk.  Take wing.  This day
is born to flight, it calls us, crow-caw, goose-honk,
and we are lifted on the buoyant light of love.

Moon Poem

Everyone was talking about the moon
like it had magical powers

to change size, turn red or blue,
or even disappear for a while,

when it’s really just a big lifeless rock
speeding around a cold and airless track.

Now an octopus is something to talk about.
It can change color, disappear into its surroundings,

and even open a jar with its eight wondrous arms.
(I, too, know about cold, and speeding around a track

and I have known your wondrous arms and legs.)
And when I feel most like my world is airless

(and even when I feel like the rock)
I remember the light of your eyes upon me,

magical, how that feeling made me shine.