poem16 Apr 2018 08:34 am
When Alice journeyed thru the looking glass
Into that other, surreal world
Did her mirror-image Alice
Simultaneously stride bravely
Beyond the silvered surface,
Ending up in ours?
Did our ordinary, everyday world seem strange
Within her eyes? Perhaps a bit predictable?
Perhaps much too mundane?
“So boring and routine” she criticized—
Our oh-so-logical domain
No more gossip or lighthearted chats
With talking flowers / To while away
Mirror-bright hours. Why, her cat
Isn’t even Cheshire, and what’s worse
It refuses to sing, or recite or converse.
And she’s weary of all this schoolwork
It’s such a thankless task; she longs for fun
Or a little weirdness – is that too much to ask?
Does she think, “Why, there must be
Something here that I can eat or drink
Which will lead to untoward events
Or unexpected consequences?”
In her experience, tiny notes with instructions
Are often attached to things
(Meanwhile, the other Alice
Must be busy befriending a unicorn
Or chatting up a walrus
In a place where the odd-most happenings
Are happily the norm.
Is she so enjoying frumious adventures
She has no desire to come home?)
Does our alternate Alice long to return
To her familiar mirror-image dimension?
For a while, at least, she is condemned
To wait upon reflections
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poem09 Apr 2018 11:36 am

What would Nellie Bly have said to Lois Lane
as legacy? Girl reporters were old news by 1938.
She’d shrug. Her own adventure’s source? Fictitious
Phileas Fogg. So: Bly knew what words can do.
What would Nellie Bly have said to Lois Lane?
Nothing Lois didn’t know: don’t let go.
Don’t stop going. You’ll always hear your beat.
Men may fly but news is faster.
What would Lois say to Nellie Bly?
Imperfect copy, parceled out in man-drawn panels,
I carried on, nearly a century in public view.
Newspaper ink no longer smears, pink’s always in—and thanks.
Sorry to run. But I’ve still got a lot to do.

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poem02 Apr 2018 08:53 am

Some call it the Nexus,
others call it the Void,
but for us it’s simply the Transfer Station.
It’s the one place in the Universe
where all the garbage gathers,
the light and the dark,
the material and immaterial,
the cast off and the cast out,
the aimless bits of solar wind-blown debris
and lost souls hoping to catch a glimpse
of the infinite, before the refrigerator door closes
and the light goes out.

But just because the light goes out
doesn’t mean one ceases to exist—to the contrary.
The Transfer Station takes matter,
whether it matters or not,
and transforms it into something new:
a planet, a star, an automobile.
There’s no rhyme or reason,
only the perpetuation of what was
into what will become.
A galaxy, a refrigerator, an infant child—
the list goes on, both past and future.
No one can possibly know the outcome
of such a random afterthought.

But you can’t accept that can you?
Of all creations you are the only ones
who question your station in life.
But then maybe that is your gift,
and why you will continue to wash up
on our cluttered shore,
bruised and battered yet not defeated,
resisting the inevitable
even when you know the inevitable must be;
clinging the way a dying star shakes its fists,
displaying the brilliance of its anger
across the blackboard of the cosmos.

But judge not the intent or purpose
lest we be judged on the purpose of our intent.
Don’t bother looking that one up,
you won’t find it.
Just know that we here at the Transfer Station,
where nothing is ever wasted
and nothing ever is a waste,
take a special pleasure in taking you in
and turning you out,
making your transition
as meaningful as possible,
knowing you will never admire us
the way we have come to admire you.

Illustration is il fegato è il pettine del gallo by Arshile Gorky, 1944 in the Albright-Knox Gallery.
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poem26 Mar 2018 08:31 am

His hands work, flaying the hide from the deer,
parting the sinews that bind it to flesh
with a stone-flake knife; murmuring apologies
and gratitude for the gift of its life.

Dripping, he drapes it over his shoulders;
feels the still-warm blood course down his spine,
feels the weight of the antlered skull upon his brow,
feels the wet sinews bind to his flesh.

His hands clench to fists, become hooves, his spine
contorts—and then he races away through
the woods, fleeing pursuers more deadly
than any mere wolf.

When he comes to rest in a cold camp,
fireless, he strips off the borrowed skin,
but leaves the head in place—a mask with
sightless eyes, carved from flesh, and hard as bone.

Wolves come, having scented wounded deer,
but whine and press bellies to earth when they
meet his lifeless eyes; they know he is no prey.
They gather close and warm him until dawn.

When his pursuers come too close, the wolves
begin to howl, and the man puts back on his skin—
flees as the wolves harass the men who pursue him.
At sunset he returns to find their bodies, fletched.

Weeping, he thanks them for their kindness,
and then his hands work once more,
separating supple skin and soft fur,
settling it over his shoulders once more.

His nose touches earth; he catches the scent
of those who pursue him—and this time
when he leaps from the brambles it is he
who hunts for them.

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poem19 Mar 2018 08:11 am

As if it was merely a matter of wine and parchment,
polished glass and hammered copper, the condensation
resounds against the pulse ticking in your throat.
If you pierce the eyes of crows, lace them together
with crimson silk, they still summon the darkest nights.

That swelling in your belly will be milkweed,
swallow wort, goldenrod. Your lips
will give shape the way mares give milk. Syllables, strung
like abalone on a thread of sunlight, will scatter
like so much rice. They will sting like fresh cream
on a sliced tongue. The frost tightens its noose,
but your words are betrothed to the ripe sun,
and your ululations crepe the branches heavy.

Your body gives the soil its permission
as the light nestles in your palm like fur
and bone, and you kneel in the green confusion and weep.

illustration is American weeds and useful plants: being a second and illustrated edition of Agricultural botany by William Darlington
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editorial13 Mar 2018 01:29 pm

Recently, I decided to reboot my personal website. It was mostly cobwebs at this point and many of the plugins I had used had faded into obscurity at some point over the last decade. I deleted everything that was broken, put up a couple of placeholder pictures, and went on to one of my five million other projects.

Last week, someone I met asked if they could purchase some of my artwork. Cool! It’s been a while. I handed her a business card so she could reach me later. Later that day, she wrote me in confusion to say she’d looked at my website but couldn’t tell what kind of things I did or what my style was. Whoops. That was embarrassing. So I rushed around putting a minimal website up so at least a visitor would know who I was. I wound up missing my Monday posting deadline for Polu Texni while I was working on that.

I don’t like to give a poet less than a week of featured time, so I thought it was a good time to do something else instead of the normal poem to make up the rest of the week. I decided to do a round up of artist links from business cards I’ve picked up recently. I sat down to look at all the websites, and guess what? Out of the half dozen sites I planned on showing, only one of them was functional, professional, and gave a good idea of what the artist did. The rest of them were out-of-date, contained no pictures, had broken functionality, or were missing all together. I had picked up all of these business cards in 2018, so over 80% of artists I met recently made a bad impression and potentially lost a customer. Wow! The good part is that it made me feel much better for having committed the same sin. At least it’s a common mistake.

I’m going to hang on to the link to the good website for another day so I can introduce it with “hey, this work is cool” instead of “hey, this guy’s website isn’t broken.” For now, I’ll just remind artists and writers if you are passing out business cards at art shows or cons, make sure what you are linking to works and gives a good impression.

 

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poem05 Mar 2018 08:00 am

The desolation and terror of, for the first time,
realizing that the mother can lose you, or you
her, and your own abysmal loneliness…
~Francis Thompson

If I were you, and part of me is you of
Course, conceived as I was, not quite in love
But in spite of love for your fellow man
Who didn’t fit the reproductive plan
Outlined by the geneticists who ran
The robotic grafting units, I’d scan
The contracts more closely, looking for stuff,
If I were you,
That granted you parental rights you can
Keep. Like getting to see me; I began
As a numerical code, a bit rough
If I were you,
To identify me — not a person’s
Name by any means, but a type, a brand,
A factory where your DNA strand
Became a building code to merge with an
Other building code, like a hand in glove…
And here I am. I couldn’t search enough
If I were you.

illustration is Hope, II by Gustav Klimt
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poem26 Feb 2018 08:08 am

Even though when rebottled for sale,
the insanely-expensive draughts are small,
the original container is said to have
been huge, magnifying, behind the moat
of glass, scales the size of platters,
a cold Palomar-like eye, and fire-blackened
teeth.

As for the properties it is alleged to confer?
Like most folk medicine that involves
the consumption of animal parts, even
in this age of germline editing and born-again
dragons, the effect is rumored to be largely
psychosomatic:

the inner wings that sprout may still allow
you to believe you can fly, but any knights
you attempt to ingest are far more likely
to induce heartburn than gastronomic
satiety — there still being no evidence
at this point (or so saith our procurer,
flashing unicorn inlays) that drinking
dragon wine is suspected to be the cause
in at least three investigations
of spontaneous human combustion.

Chinese snuff bottle, 19th century, glass bottle with jadeite stopper, Honolulu Museum of Art
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poem19 Feb 2018 08:36 am

She is sister to all
citizens of the sea.
She has kept the selchies’ secrets,
danced with them at moonrise,
carpet of discarded pelts
beneath her feet.
The mermaids permit her earthbound voice
to join their chorus;
although she’s neither terrible nor tragic,
her songs still taste of salt.
 
She travels each day
to hear the holy rock struck
like a drum by ocean’s swells,
her own heart hammering
answer near as loud.
This is prayer and preparation.
 
The last of her kind to have the gift,
the last whose knowing fingers
harvest and weave,
she must wait
till infant granddaughter grows
before she can pass on the ancient craft;
her only child, a son, lacks
blood’s inheritance
or woman’s patience.
 
No mollusk delivers up its thread to her.
Byssus cloth, shimmering with memories of nacre,
never sold but saved for special gifts of love,
is far less precious than her work.
Hers is true sea-silk,
woven from wave and wind.
 
It needs no lemon-juice to coax its gold.
Her silk catches the glint of sun,
star-silver, moon-shadow,
the undergleam of deeps shaded
by coral forests
and the dreams of whales.
 
Woven into armor,
its shark-strong links
make the warrior invincible.
Suppleness learned from
the dance of kelp beneath the waves,
its robes grant undine-gracefulness
to any wearer.
A sail of her stuff,
so fine it may fold into a tea-cup,
will carry your ship
through all the seven worlds.
 
—That is, for those few
who win the wave-weaver’s favor,
convince her of a righteous cause.—
 
But for herself,
she sometimes knits a net
and, passing the pearl-laden oysters by,
trawls the waters for the tales
the sea tells no one but itself.

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poem12 Feb 2018 09:25 am
Michael and Satan:
forever among the homeless and the pigeons.
And the tourists—
every moment
someone is photographing them
with cameras that change year by year.
But they are only focused on each other.
Supposedly they are locked in battle:
Michael, triumphant with his sword;
Satan, defeated on the ground.
But from the side—
that isn’t fear in Satan’s eyes.
Mild annoyance perhaps,
familiarity certainly.
As if Satan has been lying in the sand,
reading a book or looking at the sea,
and Michael, bored, is jesting,
and will soon settle down
and sit beside him,
watching the water.
Photo by Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15905060
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