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Pam's favorite recent poems

I have included audio with some of these poems. Where audio is available, you'll see a small button next to the poem. Press to play the RealAudio recording. Note: if you don't have RealAudio on your computer, you can download the FREE reader by clicking the following link.

Bad night
Can you know
Charlie the dragon
The dance
Disney got it wrong
Fallen into Kansas
He was so well loved
Jose writes
Koi hoi polloi
Small love songs
The small water of his voice
Speak to me Stone
I thought it was...
We have met the avant-garde and they are young...

Bad Night

Despair shook me awake in the wee hours,
took me in hand, sat me in a chair.
Though I did try to ignore her
she wrapped me in her icy arms and pointed out
the barren beaches of my life, its stagnant sea.
There was no hope, no love, no merriment.
Whatever I had done fell short.
In her grip, I'm seized with rigor, burned with cold.

Sometime during the night she slipped away,
leaving only the old brown husk of her,
her peculiar smell.

The sun leaks through an upstairs window
paints leaf-lace.

Can you know?

Could I console the worm for its dark labors?
Could I measure by my light the fragments of
a rainbow’s sigh, the crystalline beat of
winter thunder, night over
the ocean, the silent flight of
the pelicaon? Could I be so watchful? And perhaps,
if so, would they turn into sentient patterns, knowledge of what
they are? O worm, o pelican, o joyous
thunder, can you know me?

Charlie the dragon

Charlie the dragon is gone...
His heavy, soft, flat-footed pace,
green-scaled, fire-breathing.

Someone said they saw him over Kansas,
Wingspread from horizon to horizon,
Scales gleaming in the sun -- magnificent.

But what will I do without my dragon?



I think I'll go out like a light
with a dimmer on it or a Fade
in the movies. I probably won't go
just like that. I'll inch towards death, first the
big toe, then (with a sharp indrawing
of breath - zsiis) up to my ankles.
I've already started by moving
just a little bit slower. Maybe I'll move out of step
for awhile, spend time at the gym, lose weight,
drink protein shakes and bound up stairs.
I don't much wonder about me, I'll
dim down bit by bit. I might even be found,
eventually, taking a century or two to cross the street,
eating lunch until 2, viewing the young
through a porthole only I am aware of
(appetites dulling, fading, fading).
One day they'll find just my shell.
I'll have moved
wholly out of it.

The Dance

I danced for the rush
or for the thrill of it.
I danced to the sun, to the harvest,
to the family of man.
I danced fast, putting fields and mountains
behind me, slow and stately, like
the elm. I danced for the gods.

When I stopped being able to dance,
I watched the dance,
and my feet wiggled to it.

Disney got it wrong

I think I remember Anderson's story
about the mermaid who fell in love
with a prince.

She didn't win in the end, though.
There was another woman, true,
but it wasn't a witch.
And the little mermaid
paid for her limbs with pain,
ended up as sea foam
for eternity.

That's hard to show
on film.
And doesn't fit
the standard happy ending.

Question is: whose point of view.

I was the other woman just
walking down the beach
the day she saved him. I
didn't put a spell on him.
She disappeared.

was looking for an excuse
to fall in love.
He just got the wrong
happy ending.

Published in Potomac Review

Fallen into Kansas

Fallen into Kansas, after the storm,
ozoned absence of spent thunder all around,
I look about, hoping to see Oz,
or Emerald City, at least.
Is it all gone, a dream?
No chance of Technicolor? Or
did something pointed just pass by
over my head, whispering with
an electric thrill?
In this poem, I could be young, fierce,
timid, made of tin. Let me
send you myself in one of my guises.
(I’ve lived in a green city where daffodils sprouted
from hillocks in Rock Creek Park every Spring
in the middle of a rushing dreaming city,
sending beacons of yellow
— someone’s dream made manifest - and fog
rolled in over the Potomac. And if 1 want to go back to it,
I can. anytime. I can take you with me.)
Let me make a moment of uncluttered space . . .
within which to talk to you.

He was so well loved

It used to be enough
to steal a loaf of bread
to have your head
claimed by the better man.

We go on killing in the auspices
of the food god.

You might say of the fleet
that he was so well loved
by the lion
that the lion
(being the fleeter)
just went ahead
and made the antelope
a part of him.
he ate him up
malgre tous ses efforts .

If you find yourself half-eaten,
look for the lion,
the vulture, the hyena
lurking in the tall grass
loving you.

Jose Writes

Jose writes me from prison in Texas:
They've moved me again. This letter hopes
you're doing well. May you go with god. May
fortune be yours.

I didn't know there was anyone in the store
that night. I wanted some beer. I didn't
mean to hurt anyone.

Sometimes the guards get rough. They
don't need to hit me like that. Why do they do it?

My father is dying. I got so depressed I
tried to cut my wrists -- not really to kill myself
but because it was so bad here. . .

they've moved me to a psych prison and they're
giving me Praxil in the mornings and Atarax
in the evenings and I don't know what it's for.

Jose writes me from prison:
will you send me information about
these drugs? I don't want to be an experiment. . .

Jose never writes me from prison anymore.

Koi Hoi Polloi

Coy Koi,
Pixillated piranhas,
marvelous minnows.
Something in water
gets our attention:
looking beneath the wave,
see a whole world.
bottle blue,
griffin green,
sand sand sand.


Fragmentary rocks define the shores
of this bright prairie, line
the boundaries of my lament like
schoolboys on the cracked cement
of summer's playgrounds while the
sun beats mountains down.

Barren land, crook of the Colorado
down in the Badlands, wild and tenanted
as a tormented soul by timid ghosts
of cactus, tumbleweed, prickly pear, Apaches,
haunting even the afternoon.

Thought has its values:
surface glints, hints of reflection,
middle depths, thin memories,
mirage of schoolboys with their bandaged knees,
bored, kneeling at marbles, and this
parched land, steeped in brightness.

Shist. stone. peccary, coyote. bear, more
attuned to light than hunger. thirsting
for blue. for thunder, for the first
large drops of rain. oh rain...

This is the season when cracked earth
opens its mouth, when seeds respond,
frail antelope drinks, rain giving life's living.

Simultaneity. Those schoolboy days
co-exist with this vast Texas landscape,
Thinner than moonlight,
moving softly, still to their own rhythm

Even the prairie runs through them.
My lament, sharp as an edge, piercing
as daybreak, as prayer - sentience
on sentience - captures all and
a thousand thousand other things,
this window's reflection, refraction, transmittal.

Small Love Songs


Hearing the rain falling, she knew that
it had all happened again...
or would.

Had it happened,
(had it happened to her)
had it happened just that way,
or on a Sunday,
or in the heat of a Summer's afternoon,
would we have?


What a relief it is
when You come in
out of a new world

After two days of raining
in buckets
(us going to the movies)
it is high and dry.


Sometimes the world
brightens and there's the
beauty of that one tiny rumpled
yellow piece of paper -
shadows, creases, planes of light.

No wonder people sometimes think
Artists are crazy:
It's just a register receipt
rumpled from being carried in your pocket,
but a whole potential landscape
to me.

The Small Water of his Voice

Desperate, I reach out to someone
with my fear. He notices only
that I am ugly, doesn't notice
my panic. How can I grow old,
when I am still a child?
How can I mature, when so many
assume I am old?

I remember that phone conversation
as if it were a shrill wind
blowing across a flat dry plain.
His voice was the only water,
and he wasted it.
And I'm sure he didn't mean to.
I'm sure he didn't mean to.
How can he grow old,
when he's as young as the stars.

If I can only remember
we are all simple in concept,
starting each moment
like a new line of poetry . . .
there will be hope

like the small water of his voice
after a flat dry plain.

Speak to me, Stone

If a stone could speak, without
mouth, without tongue,
what would it say?
Would it intone the obvious? I am
stone, I am rock, I am granite,
Rose Quartz.

Would it speak of it's qualities?
I am stone-blind, stone-deaf,
a mere stone's throw,
the rock of ages. Would it regale us
with its origins? I trace my history
to prehistoric times when I meant
"stiffness" or "solidity".
Would it recriminate us for not
recognizing its beauty?
Would it say "I am
beautiful," "I am igneous,
solid fire, potential fluid motion."

Speak to me, stone,
tell me your flow and history,
fluidity and faults, describe your
habits and habitat,
that I may
know you.


She was twenty when she discovered the ability to levitate. She didn't credit it at first, and when she'd had a chance to confirm it, in private, held it like a guilty secret.

She tried to find out if any of her friends had the ability. "Marilyn," she'd ask, for example, "do you ever feel - ah-lightheaded?"

She took to researching the Internet or paranormal activity, hanging out at Barnes and Noble, finally came to the conclusion this was a talent.

"Useless," she mused. "What can I do with the ability to levitate? It's not like a job skill, not like being able to predict the outcome of the races or tomorrow's stocks."

When she finally did come out and tell the world about her 'talent,' the most amazing thing was the lack of affect.

It was as if she'd announced the ability to pour milk. Everybody went on, quite uncaring.

So, since there wasn't any use for it, she forgot it.

At 83, she wondered what life would've been like if she'd been a hero.


Sometimes I feel as if I offer my truth
tentatively, holding it forth with just
a small gleam showing through my fingers

And the one to whom I proffer this light
rejects it. And I return it to the box,
waiting for the perfect match.

Sometimes I actually blurt it out,
marching in an array of kindred folk
only to find when the march is over
I put on the same old cloak
and steal away.

Sometimes I put it in a poem
and they say, "thatís nice" but
I can tell I havenít reached them.

Or in a painting and they donít buy it
or donít accept it in the show
or they say, "you like Southwest art, donít you?"

And my truth doesnít get enough oxygen
(or whatever it is that truth needs
to get strong) and wanes, grows pale.

So when you offer your truth,
when you put it out elegantly
and someone listens,
and I see in it something that matches mine,
the small gleam burns brighter,
burns and burns.


I thought it was . . .

I wouldnít have called that dream a nightmare, but
it wasnít pleasant. I was a fragile sort,
always crying, spending years perhaps
wondering why I couldnít remember their names,
wondering what I had done to be berated
so, wondering how to help. And why
they ran before I could stop them, why I couldnít
find them. We were housed in a building around
a courtyard -- or maybe a ship-- old and forbidding.
Here I am, crouched by a locker late
into the night, dawn approaching, crying
my heart out. Here I am, approached by a man
who tries to comfort me, who sits beside me,
embraces me. Here I am, in the food line,
taking a last slice of cake, then finding it full
of maggots. Here I am, hurrying through the
darkened halls, carrying blankets and pillows
seeing my first true love, turning my face
(lest I be seen). Now in a rare but important
meeting with the man at the top, taking notes
on a scrap of paper, so nervous my pencil is shaking.
Then out of all this pain and agony (dreamed
in a moment but seeming to be spanning years)
the camera pans round the group and there I am,
talking and smiling, and I look happy and really
pretty. That is the snapshot.

Do you wonder
why the bombing of cities, refugees
in marginal camps, faces of children lost,
make me nervous? It is the dream, the dream,
I thought it was a dream. I thought it was . . .

We have met the avante-garde and they are young

Iím driving through the gentle hills of Virginia
in Spring with a 20-year-old artist visiting
from England. She says sheís a "conceptual artist."

This is something I know nothing about.
I have paid no attention to modern art.
But she is working with conceptual boxes
from which she can suck all the air, creating vacuums.
One could tuck one into a purse, flattened,
then at the appropriate time and place, pop
it open, fill it with that special moment . . .
the afternoon you spent sitting with friends
in that Greek taverna, that foggy "after midnight"
time near the railroad tracks when you were just
about to go to the bakery for fresh bread,
the morning you leapt forth from the dormitory,
heard the siren, saw each leaf and grass
blade grow.

close it up, label it, put it
on the shelf. What a neat idea.
I am captured. Now I want my own
box. I want her to market it. I want . . .

She doesnít want it to be commercial. She
doesnít care if it communicates.
This stops me in my tracks, silently
I drive, thinking this over. She wants the "kick"
of creating. Well, I can understand that.
But hey, itís too late. Iíve got the idea of the box.
I can have all the boxes and spaces Iíd ever want.

c. May 70

"In the beginning and forever is the decision
and the decision is to be."
From "The Factors" by L. Ron Hubbard

I am the bird in flight over the soft wove fire of the early sun,
The phoenix risen in the light of fires from the coals of that which I have done.

I was an old woman puling dreams in the gutter
A-wash with tatters of a frozen goal,
A candle-light a-flutter,
An old man slanting to some supposed home
Through the muttering of twilight, adrift and all alone.
I was the witch which haunted all your dreams
And made blood curses to torment your body's ragged pain.
Ah, yes, I played that game.
I was the dragon and the child,
Passion-soaked and mild.
I was the maid asleep in the burnished nest,
The man suppressed, afraid, and the suppressor yet.
I spent long centuries poised upon your beauteous fields
Shedding clouds, the shrouds of my ancient enemy.
I consorted with the priest and sold my life and being to the devil
For a moneyed fee.
I conceived that I was free and lived within a broken cage
And did not see the bars. I flung in high wide fancy to the stars
And called it God.
Look, look, ceilings are such little things.
I was the angry prophet pierced with unforgiving light
And I was right and I was right,
And I was wrong and all the universe was right.
I squatted in the lowest dung of degradation
And flung foul spitty curses on you.
I inhabited a wolf's lair,
I of the fanged teeth, eating your flesh rare.
I lingered in the silence of the brooding depths of sea,
Then I poised in my flight and
Came close to catching me.
And I wore hands and eyes
But I could not feel and could not see.
I infested pools.
I lived by rules
And then without them.

I was death in the night slowly growing chill,
The long silence of the ocean floors,
The soundless sound of the willess will.
In apathy I occupied for years
A point that didn't warrant tears.
I could do no wrong.
I could do nothing.
I was sorrow brooding over the minds of millions
And I comforted myself.
Then I was afraid, cold and hot by turns,
Turning and always the danger behind me.
And I was the danger in the night,
Hidden in the long black veils of the assassin -
A knife behind a smile -
And for a while then I was anger, rift the rocks of the shore,
Blood-red and swore and had the strength of many men
And many men listened to me
And I spit at them and wore their teeth for my armor.

And I grew bored and went away
for a long time
a long time
a long time

Then I saw a grape upon a vine growing in the summer haze
And reached out and plucked it.
Oh, it was warm and round to my touch
And seemed to say so much to my tongue.
And I was young again, willowed in the washing spree.
I has no hands nor eyes
Yet I could touch and I could see.
I made mountains and watched you run circles around them.
I made running streams for you to wash within.
The wind that sighs around your hallowed head,
The meadow that you lie upon.
I watched you making sunbeams.
I became music
And you became light.
And I was the phoenix while you were the fire.
I was the day while you became night.
And I was the left when you were the right.
And I was and you were...And I and you
And we.

In the beginning and forever is the decision and the decision is to be.
In the beginning and forever is the decision and the decision is to be.
We am the bird in flight over the soft wove fire of the early sun,
The phoenix ever rising from the coals of what we have done.

I also have a chapbook called "Recovery", if you're interested. Cost is $5.00 plus shipping.


Last updated: Friday, May 20, 2005