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From 1993 to 1996, I fancied myself a poet. Now, I am a power-typer. ^^

The Old Wives' Whale

Oct. 95

I. Exile

from the Negeb he journeyed by stages toward Bethel, to the place
between Bethel and Ai where he had earlier pitched his tent.
(Gen 13:3)

Dromedaries up and over, up and over twice.
Bethel tent Ai. The camels had a drink.
Hagar, barefoot, hauled the sacks, in surges, through the mud.

Inside the tent, Sarai heard Abram's murmurings,
watched his face tense with benedictions: the soundings of I am.
Shaken so, she broke a beveled ewer,
calling Hagar to collect the shattered edges.

Slowly Hagar rose from chopping
fish still looking for the moon
eerie and light, who was that calling?
the lord who commanded the fish?
the man who led the camel?
No, it was her, Her, and where was the moon?
Lot and the camel became one
and in yellowing vision like sackcloth she fell.

In alarm, he yoked the camel to the pot of swelling lentil soup.
He gathered Hagar in his arms and called to Abram's tent.
A backlit beard pointed out, casting shadows even in
that unmooned night; on Lot's black burden,
her rounded skin and bone.

II. Slave Song

His hand will be against everyone; and everyone's hand against him; and he will live at odds with all his kin. (Gen. 16:12)

She heard everything.
She heard Sarai when she came for the whip,
She heard her curse the camel, the pot, the lost lentils.
She heard Lot leave.
She heard whaling in her belly.
She heard Abram snore.

She heard Escape!

(slaves listening, scattered, caught
the sinking edge of echoes)

III. Morning oracle

Then you are to smash the jar before the eyes of the men who accompany you. (Jer. 19:10)

Sarai shook Abram roughly out of sleep.
"The soup is spoiled, the pot broken,
Hagar's gone with that bloody moon
and your son is the country."
Just then, a groan and sobbing drew
the matriarch away while Abram, grateful, slept.

Hagar spilled into the tent, Sarai poured water to a bowl.
The handmaiden struggled, the midwife was stronger --
calmed her in slow rounds. The circle of hands
rolled out an arced crescendo with each new wave of pain.

Abraham gave up his sleep and rose a lot alarmed.
Pouring water to a bowl, he gathered up
the basketful of elder flowers and left to find the fire.
Looking back, the tent seemed strange - a realm not at all his own.

He poured the water in the pot, picked up a piece of wood,
chiseled it with a sharpened stick, and shaped it like a god.
A furious force put out the fire while Abram soaked his roots.
In the steeping tea he saw four faces, four wings, lion, ox, and eagle.
His skin was tense as presence wrestled through him.

The fire jumped up and at God's command, Abram threw the idol in.
He returned with the tea to the tent of screams to soothe a spirit born
The first cry came when he lifted the flap, mother and baby as one.
The midwife took the tea away and poured it into cups.
When the leaves had settled and their mouths were wet,
he began an intonation.

"You will call him Ishmael. He will be my favorite son, though I covenant not through him.
He will wail at your vision of the color I am, including every other."

Abram, meanwhile commanded nothing, but in his hands the ewer mended.

"You, too, Sarai, shall feel these pains of nation-building in your loins.
I will place in you a great nation to lie and misrepresent me.
I will send prophets against their progress.
I will turn the ewer on the wheel, reshaping as I list your treasons:
the reasons you've desired to be me.
You will try to sketch me with your sticks,
weigh me with your shekels, and prove my worth at sea.
But I will not hear you at work in the wheel,
except as the buzzing of flies."

Abram rose to fill the finished pitcher.
Sara cut the cord, amused by the fictions of her womb,
while Hagar in the corner wept the songs of Port-au-Prince.

... some disaster data ...

... an american express card
            bobbed and lulled
            through the sea of japan
scrap from a seoul-bound jumbo


we were in transit

We were in transit -- nothing but watching to do;
            even the birds seemed nervous
Geese blared at the sky, stuck in the weal of hard rain
            they noised their offense.
Swallows rose in tiers, escalating to up in
            selfless formation -
a blacknotted afghan rising to the pitch heavens,
            stroked with eerie green.

Each how we trembled to hear the storm's red rhythms
            flog at the cornstalks.
Wind beat at shacks, heaved them through the swaying fields,
            threshing towards the plant ahead
where workers manufactured
            white venetian blinds.

You said "look east" when ions pulsed through voided light
            & green careened to blue,
Safe in our cabin, metal was heard to groan:
            we, electric, bent.
Things were in transit: sharp sheets of the factory roof
            had parsed the yellow line.

Under the grey bridge, cornered in concrete wait
the wipers beat madly as exits flew by.
We were home from Chicago.
            from color.
            from noise.

haiku & other more recent typing


pulled moons push back
the tidings of the day
already full

ABCs of C

.to tearDown (the web)
it is critical.with
     the doctor etherized
     in adminz tables
.to banSpinning

e.e. cummings cabal

All this cab (gentle yet, you see) picks at
your ax of might,your right to shall
     (umbrellas up, the rain comes down)
those couldly wills (once diffed in your woulds)

whose heads roll out
     in why?           the back
               (how sweetly set their grins)
This hapax cabal yet gentle rings (you see) bells:
whilely ringing up those wrongs-you-wrought down
-- the whetherone shouldn'ts
     -- who wither their weren'ts
          (their little wikis all a-kNOT).

A Hundred Daysy Mays the dozen,
     (heresweetlymust)     you grow.

(Dec. 2016)