Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I live on a leaf

The Air Beside Me

I live on a leaf
I’ve gone all the way out to the end of the wind
holding on where silkworms lay down silver threads
Green branches rub and saw like violins
And birds tip their wings on the air beside me
Sunlight breeze and stars at night
the hush of thoughts in my head
This is the faraway world I find myself in
where I may never have to worry 
because I believe in the leaves
Annotated Leaf:
This is from the book of poems:
'Bowl of Water' (2004) Bottom Dog Press.
These two photos were taken yesterday,
laying down, looking up at a dandelion.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mr. Mnemonic

Early this morning, I was having a dream
featuring a character with a weird name.
I wanted to remember his name, to use in
the story he was telling me, so I woke up.
In the darkness of our room, I reached over
to the bedside table and wrote his name.
Later, when it was day, I read the word
I wrote down: mnemonic. And later on
again, coming downstairs, I looked it up
in the dictionary: "of or designed to aid
the memory."

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Cherry Trees

Today I sneaked out of my job
to take pictures of the cherry trees

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Martian Tigers

Another rocket landed on Mars.
Once the smoke and dust cleared,
the door opened. Nothing moved
from the rocket until the floor tipped
and out dropped a tiger.
It was groggy from the long flight,
it got to its feet, unsteadily rubbed
its stripes against the silver rocket leg
as it blinked around at the red planet.
It stretched its neck and smelled the air,
tail wagging. Tigers were the only
Earth animals to really adapt to
the conditions here. Few creatures
had lasted long. The tiger watched a
wheel of starlings resettle in a
brass colored tree not far away.
The cat’s big head nodded,
there was a good scent there.
It moved away from the scorched ground,
across the rubble, silently into the white
Martian flowers.

Annotated Martian Tigers
This is a from my not-yet published
next poetry collection. For a while
I was writing my own version of
Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles.
This story and the previous post,
'All Shakespeare's Birds' are from it.
Also there's a whole other novel
set on Mars, not yet published either.
It features a game show host and

All Shakespeare's Birds

Edward Shepherd stepped out of the elevator

carrying a suitcase filled with birds. After the cold winter

air of Lima, Ohio, the sudden warmth of the red planet

hit him like a wave. He wore his best tan searsucker suit,

he swung the suitcase lightly as he stepped onto Mars.

This was his second trip to Mars. The first time,

half a year ago, he’d been struck by the bare violet sky,

awfully empty. He took it upon himself to change that.

When he went back to America, he grabbed every bird

he could, collecting pigeons, sparrows, starlings, crows

and more. They weren’t just random birds picked from

trees and telephone wires, he brought only the birds

mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare. That was

Edward’s mission, the reason for this second trip to


The elevator door slid closed behind him, he

walked across the sand toward a hill. His alligator

shoes slid into the loose soil.

At the top of the climb, he stopped. This was

where it would start. He pictured a statue of himself

placed here, and the birds that would land on him.

He opened the suitcase and there were the Earth

birds, dehydrated and kept in packets.

Annotated "Shakespeare's Birds":
This is from my book Home Recordings
(Bird Dog Press, 2009) based on
a story I read about a man in
the late 1800s who imported
the birds mentioned by Shakespeare
into the air over Central Park, NY.
For my story, I changed his name
and his planet.

movie time

'Riso Amaro' (Bitter Rice) Italy, 1949

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Cardboard Violin

The Cardboard Violin

Myrtle Beet was done making a cardboard violin.

Nobody was there to ask her about it, the long hours it

took to construct and paint and string. While it rested

like an elegant duck on her counter top, she could admire

it and breathe all the satisfaction she needed. What a

marvelous and perfect imitation, she had even detailed

the wood grain, she knew anybody looking at it would

never know. She smiled then at that. Yes, there was one

who would know. Soon enough.

She reached and pulled the heavy black telephone

across closer to her. A trembling finger found the numbers

and dialed them. It hadn’t been easy keeping arthritis and

old age at bay while she built the violin.

“Hello,” she said when the ring turned into him.

“Hello Leonard, it’s Myrtle Beet. How are you dear?” In

the pause, the clock in the kitchen wall tocked. “Well,” she

said, “Why don’t you come over here. I have a present

for you.” She smiled. “Yes, alright. See you soon.” She

hung up and watched the violin, pleased with herself.

In a minute, the apartment door started to scratch

into a couple of knocks.

Myrtle stood up slow, straightened her dress and

the apron she wore. She glanced at the violin again, she

could almost hear it already.

She put her hand around the glass diamond door

knob and turned.

The man who spent all of his time in the apartment

next door stood there. He was frail and gray from lack

of sun and wind and rain, he was Leonard the cardboard


This is a story from
Home Recordings,
Bird Dog Publishing, 2009

April Ohio Reading

Selected Correspondence
of Kenneth Patchen reading:
Thursday April 26, 2012
at the Lakewood Public Library
15425 Detroit Ave, Lakewood OHIO

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Spring Bird Song

The Spring Bird Song

The spring bird song is back
All this cold winter that kept it
Tucked away like a record
On a shelf to be remembered
And ready to be replayed
At the first sign of new life
When those cattail bones
Turn green again
And blackbirds perch
On top the crowns

(Note: This poem originally
appeared in Another Life
Bird Dog Publishing, 2007.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mr. Harryhausen

Last week, after I told JGenius I just saw a girl
with yellow seagull feet, he reminded me of a
cinema moment we both experienced as kids:

“that old Sinbad movie with the witch "Zenobia" in it.

She took some potion that transformed her into a seagull

to do some spying and shenanigans, but then some oaf

knocked over her little precious vile of potion and there

was not enough to transform her all the way back to her

human form and she was left with a seagull foot.

She moaned "NOT ENOUGH, NOT ENOUGH!!!"

as the camera slowly panned down to reveal the

hideous seagull foot. That image haunts me to this day.”

Which made me remember when Ray Harryhausen

came to my home town a few years ago. Harryhausen

is the creator of those marvelous creatures from the Sinbad

movies, and many more besides. I would watch them on

the Saturday afternoon Sci-Fi Theater on Channel 11.

I made Mr. Harryhausen a cardboard key to the city

shaped like his Ymir creature (from 20 Million Miles

To Earth) and painted it gold with welcoming lettering.

When I handed it to him he said, “Ah, my old friend…”

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Invisible Poet

Discovered this book,
The Invisible Poet: T.S. Eliot
with child's writing in front.

Rejected New Yorker Comic #2

I uncovered another one of my comics
The New Yorker magazine rejected.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Audubon Librarian

Meanwhile, at the library
they're lining up the books
for the furnace. I feel like
Audubon, catching pictures
of them before they're gone.

Seeing Eye Mouse

This is a little stapled comic book
I made for Rosa when she was a baby.
Probably from 1997 or 1998.
There was a song that went along with it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dinosaur Sighting!

This photograph appeared in the library book-drop,
clear proof that dinosaurs exist! There's little to
go on, the date is August 13, 2011 and the
landscape appears to be magma, perhaps
some volcanic tropical island. Now if only we
could hire on Peter Lorre and James Mason,
the adventure to track this beast down could begin.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Just finished reading these two books
about Fishtown. Hoping to visit the ruins
later this spring when it gets sunny again.
JGenius has a canoe buried under his barn
we can go see the poetry of Robert Sund.
A drive down the coast from here
Fishtown is featured in my novel
The Mermaid Translation
(Bird Dog Publishing, 2010)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Telephone Joe

Telephone Joe

Joe worked in
the tall wind

A professional
telephone line

his only problems
came when he returned
to the Earth.

Gravity wanted
to pull him
back down to
where he
could be

chased by dogs
run over
by cars
rattled by love,
mortgage payments,
all the earthly

delights of America
falling in
the late
20th century.

But when he was
up on a pole,
tying up the wires
that ran
the humming
the country,

Joe was far
away with
the clouds.

Annotated Telephone Joe:
Another poem from 'Bowl
of Water.' I drew that truck
parked outside my window
in Seattle a long time ago.

After the Rain


The Rain

After the rain

when puddled land

is spilled out clouds

touched on ground

we’ll go from each to each

as if they’re seas

to be named

or a watergiant’s footsteps

skipped in a game

Annotated After the Rain:
It's rain, rain and raining still.
This is a poem from 'Bowl of Water'
Bottom Dog Press, 2004.