Friday, July 4, 2014


For the few people who have been paying attention, you may have noticed that I haven't been writing or posting much in the past few months. There are many reasons for this. Some of these reasons are out of my control, such as my current work schedule. But I have also kind of lost my way, my motivation, whatever it is that keeps me writing and posting things I think are worthwhile. In hopes of renewing some creative impulse I have decided a change of venue might be helpful. We'll see.

You may now find me at my Wordpress site, My Tiny Throes. All of the content here has been imported over there, and I hope the new scenery will spur me on to keep writing and posting. (As an aside, I have reverted back to my given name, Jeff. I think the folks who were out to get me have been sufficiently thrown off my trail, so there is no reason to use a nickname to protect my identity.)

Judson Mitcham: Before Prayer

(Judson Mitcham)
She curled up next to me on the Trailways,
clutching her cigarettes and change.
The light framed her face, while the bus
idled under a streetlight in Ringgold,
till it groaned on into the night,
headed south down the two lane.

I think of her often, this woman
who appeared in the aisle like a nightmare
somewhere in Tennessee, bits of weed
in wild hair matted on one side.
She lurched through the vacant bus
toward the one seat where, by accident,
she could touch someone.

When the light left her face, it came,
this ache I have felt all my life.
Whatever is within us, it is not enough.

                   --Judson Mitcham

Saturday, June 21, 2014

David Wagoner: After the Point of No Return

David Wagoner
After that moment when you've lost all reason
for going back where you started, when going ahead
is no longer a Yes or No, but a matter of fact,
you'll need to weigh, on the one hand, what will seem,
on the other, almost nothing against something
slightly more than nothing and must choose
again and again, at points of fewer and fewer
chances to guess, when and which way to turn.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tu Fu: Standing Alone

Empty skies. And beyond, one hawk.
Between river banks, two white gulls
Drift and flutter. Fit for an easy kill,
To and fro, they follow contentment.

Dew shrouds grasses. Spiderwebs are still
Not gathered in. The purpose driving
Heaven become human now, I stand where
Uncounted sorrows begin beginning alone.

          --Tu Fu, trans. David Hinton

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Walt Whitman: Thought (Of persons arrived at high positions)

(Walt Whitman: May 31, 1819-March 26, 1892)

Of persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies, wealth,
   scholarships, and the like;
(To me all that those persons have arrived at sinks away from
   them, except as it results to their bodies and souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked,
And often to me each one mocks the others, and mocks
   himself or herself,
And of each one the core of life, namely happiness, is full of
   the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often to me those men and women pass unwittingly the
   true realities of life, and go toward false realities,
And often to me they are alive after what custom has served
   them, but nothing more,
And often to me they are sad, hasty, unwaked
   sonnambules walking the dusk.)

                          --Walt Whitman

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson: I Am Not Alone

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unaknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. 

         --Ralph Waldo Emerson, from "Nature"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

William Wordsworth: The Strength of Love

There is a comfort in the strength of love;
'Twill make a thing endurable, which else
Would break the heart.

     --William Wordsworth, from "Michael"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Walt Whitman: Thought (Of Equality)

(Credit: Ohio Wesleyan U., Bayley Collection)


Of Equality--as if it harm'd me, giving others
     the same chances and rights as myself--
     as if it were not indispensable to my own
     rights that others possess the same.

                        --Walt Whitman

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stephen Crane: War Is Kind XXI


A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
"A sense of obligation."

--Stephen Crane, from War Is Kind

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Amy Fleury: When at Last I Join

(Amy Fleury)

A few weeks ago I read a poem in Ted Kooser's column. I liked the poem so much I looked up the poet, Amy Fleury, and bought her latest book, Sympathetic Magic. Every single poem is incredibly good. Seriously. I don't remember the last time I read a collection of poetry that didn't have even one weak poem. Here is one of my favorites:

When at Last I Join

When at last I join the democracy of dirt,
            a tussock earthed over and grass healed,
I'll gladly conspire in my own diminishment.

            Let a pink peony bloom from my chest
and may it be visited by a charm of bees,
            who will then carry the talcum of pollen

and nectar of clover to the grove where they hive.
            Let the honey they make be broken
from comb, and release from its golden hold,

            onto some animal tongue, my soul.

                                 --Amy Fleury

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

If I Could Have Any Wish

There would be no blazing colors,
     no deafening fireworks,
no boisterous milling crowds
     of pleasure-seekers.

Only you and me
     in a darkened room.
Only the electric touch
     of your body and mine.


Congrats to Abhra Pal on the occassion of his first dVerse hosting! Abhra, using the joyous Hindu festival of Holi as inspiration, invites us to consider the combination of color and love. Contrarian that I am, I went colorless. Kind of. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Walt Whitman: The Most Spiritual Poems

I will make the poems of materials, for I think they
    are to be the most spiritual poems,
And I will make the poems
    of my body and of mortality,
For I think I shall then supply myself with the poems
    of my soul and of immmortality.

              --Walt Whitman,
                    from "Starting from Paumanok"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sindoor Sun

(Painting by Sunita Khedekar)

Veiled from the setting sindoor sun
by a charcoal roof
and shaded downcast eyes,
I still feel your tears on my face—

what are these thoughts I think
in the gray of a fading day?
Just to know, for my own sake,
I look from the window

as we used to do, to see
if the fishermen’s boats
still glistened in the
setting sindoor sun.


For dVerse. Grace has us writing with color in mind, using artwork by Sunita Khedekar for inspiration. It's been such a long while since I've posted anything, but Sunita's work is so powerful I just had to give this a go. Click here for info. on sindoor. Please visit dVerse and write something you can share with us; at the very least, you owe it to yourself to check out Sunita's art. Incredible work!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Galway Kinnell: The Olive Wood Fire

The Olive Wood Fire

When Fergus woke crying at night
I would carry him from his crib
to the rocking chair and sit holding him
before the fire of thousand-year-old olive wood.
Sometimes, for reasons I never knew
and he has forgotten, even after his bottle the big tears
would keep on rolling down his big cheeks
—the left cheek always more brilliant than the right—
and we would sit, some nights for hours, rocking
in the light eking itself out of the ancient wood,
and hold each other against the darkness,
his close behind and far away in the future,
mine I imagined all around.
One such time, fallen half-asleep myself,
I thought I heard a scream
—a flier crying out in horror
as he dropped fire on he didn’t know what or whom,
or else a child thus set aflame—
and sat up alert. The olive wood fire
had burned low. In my arms lay Fergus,
fast asleep, left cheek glowing, God.

                           --Galway Kinnell

Friday, January 10, 2014

Poppy's Brush Pile

Poppy’s Brush Pile

Poppy liked to tell the story
about the time he did a little
yard cleaning and had a grand old pile
of brush and leaves, probably
about ten feet high more than likely,
and reckoned he couldn’t  
bag it all, that Ketchem’s
didn’t have enough bags to sell
even if he’d a-wanted to, so he
figured on it awhile and settled on
a big burning as the best way—
shortly the pile would be gone,
and while it was a-going he could
set on the porch and just watch.

So he took a dry bunch of leaves
up under the pile and dropped
his half-smoked Marlboro.
One tiny spark and a smidgen
of smoke and nothing else.
Well, this ain’t working
worth shooting, he said.
Then he went to the porch
and got a-hold of the morning paper,
crinkled it all up, stuffed it
in the pile and lit a match.
The paper burnt quick
and awful hot but petered out
before doing its business—
‘bout like my pecker, Poppy said—
so he went back to figuring.

Then he remembered that five-gallon can
of regular gasoline he had sitting
in the shed, and he wasn’t about
to let a damned brush pile
make a fool of him. He took the can
and scrabbled to the top, standing
like the precious good Lord
come again on Mount Olive,
and dumped the gas all over the pile.

‘Course it took awhile to pour
five gallons, so in the meantime
the fumes worked their way
all into the little pockets
of air. As you might guess
but Poppy didn’t, not quite yet,
when the match was dropped
the blast blowed him
clear into the flower bed,
heels heavenward. He said he smelt
singed ass-hairs for two weeks after.

He liked to tell this story and say,
See there, honey, even if you reckon
you got the best idea, you still
might want to figure awhile.


For dVerse Meeting the Bar. I have been absent from the bar for a few months, and sincerely missed everyone. Peak season at work, tons of overtime. I still was able to do a fair amount of reading, but very little writing. Just couldn't find the motivation, the inspiration, the whatever it is that makes me put pen to paper and try to make sense of my world. 

Anyway, our host Tony Maude has us hearkening back to previous prompts, and since I missed so many I felt a lot of freedom. This poem is meant for the prompt Victoria offered, in which she invited us to write close to home, personal, in the common speech of daily life. I actually had another poem ready that I wrote last night, but things happened and I didn't submit. Then as I was falling asleep I thought about this story, so I wrote it out this morning.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Paulo Freire: Enemies Who Must Be Watched

(Image credit: Slobodan Dimitrov)
The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own "effort," with their "courage to take risks." If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the "generous gestures" of the dominant class. Precisely because they are "ungrateful" and "envious," the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched.

--Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Friday, January 3, 2014

Maurice Manning: A Contemplation of the Celestial World

(Image from The Poetry Foundation)

A Contemplation of the Celestial World

Whoever had the thought to render bear fat
and burn it in a lamp was touched a bit,
or bored, or left alone to ponder light
too long in some dank cabin: bear fat pops
and stinks and brings no cheer to our condition.
My brother Squire would burn such lamps to read
the Scriptures: eyelids smudged, his head immersed
in smoke; his Bible, like a gutted beast,
spread open to Leviticus; his lips:
for prayer. Then I would go outside to muse
upon the many things which need no light,
the chiefest being tears and copulation,
then others, like remembering glad days
or moments which occur without regard
for stars or lamps—my thought: what matters most
is borne of darkness then makes its own pure light.

              --Maurice Manning

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Robert Hass: New Year's Morning

(Image Credit: Chronicle/Chris Stewart)

   New Year’s morning—
  everything is in blossom!
     I feel about average.

   -- Robert Hass, from 
       "After the Gentle Poet 
        Kobayashi Issa"