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2001 Poem-a-day

by Dean Blehert

The following poems were sent out daily during 2001 by email. They are all original by Dean Blehert and are copyright by him.

I always tried to be the strong silent type,
but no one noticed.

Let me ask you a purely academic question:

We have to kill more people.
Otherwise it will be just murder
and not History.

We kissed long and hard --
it is not easy to learn
a foreign tongue.

It's even sadder than you think:
They were ALL good people.

Pardon me, green bug --
I meant to scoot you from the page,
not to squish you.

On Cell-Phoned Dull Gents (self-indulgence)

O pity the cell-phoned,
For they are not self-owned.

I would let myself be God
if I could trust myself as God
to go on being me.

Prehensile Utensil

Said a rake to a wench in New York,
"If you're open, Babe, I've got a cork..."
Said she, "I'm just unscrewed,
Not a jar. Sir, you're crude,
But would you care to spoon where I fork?

San Francisco: the ocean-drunk wind
carouses through the narrow streets
like a mob of sailors on shore leave.

"Two dollars! Why I remember when you'd get
a bigger scoop than that for ten cents!"
Inflation -- how we grow old in the absence
of ill-health and children.


A young sportsman embarking from Nyack --
Tried to row round the world in a kyack.
When it made it to Borneo --
This is gory, I warneo --
He got hyacked by a head-hunting Dyak.

I'm very good in bed:
I just lie there with my eyes closed
and don't do any harm
to a soul.

Don't use a hungry carrier pigeon
to send a friendly message
to a worm.

We looked a long time at each other.
Something vanished -- I wonder what?
Then, lightly, we kissed goodnight,
and I walked out the door,
probably opening it first
out of habit.

Ahead of me on the bus I see the backs
of heads. Behind me I see nothing,
because my eyes are in front of my head,
which gets in the way. If I slip out
behind my head, I see the back of a
bus...WHOOPS! Let's fine-tune
that move a bit.

The alien intelligence,
having gotten all the data it needed
about the unsuspecting earthlings,
dismantled its cunningly disguised
mobile camera units overnight.
Next morning millions of earthlings
cried out in vein: "Here, Kitty!
Here Kitty Kitty!"


The Professor, pretending to lecture us,
Was indulging in daydreams most lecherous,
For the blonde in the front
Crossed her legs -- cunning stunt!
Did this show help her grade? Oh you betcherass!

This is just a poem: It won't save you,
but it may locate you
so that a rescue party can be sent out.

I'm tired of brushing and flossing and combing and wiping!
Where can I get some of those birds who peck clean
the crocodiles fangs? And a mama chimp to groom my hair.
And some puppies to lick me all over. And some
cattle egrets to pick up after me. And...

Making The World Safe For (poem written in 80s, sent out Sept. 11, 2001)
Yankee, you say, thinking
you understand me, thinking
the 24-point-headline ideas
by which WE fail to understand YOU
will suffice for understanding US.

We are your problem as you are ours;
Let us understand one another.
It won't be easy. While your children starve,
Most of us are trying to loose weight.
We speak from a different part
of the palate, look with a different
openness -- some say veiledness; we have
an innocence -- or is it barbaric daze;
idealism -- some say bullying self-righteousness;
squeamishness about death and torture
if we have to see it...

I am a fat, squeamish Yankee, taught
to understand you by your T-shirt-like labels:
"Kill Me", "Pity Me", "Exploit Me", "Bribe Me",
"Enjoy Me", "Fear Me". I AM not,
CANnot be the thing you think you see,
for I am what you are: the understanding,
not what is misunderstood, which is
where I am absent from myself, and so
become what is easiest to be,
because it fits the headline script:

The Fat Greedy Satan whose crime is
to have failed to make everyone like me;
whose crime is to have dreamed well,
but not well enough; to have created a game
so good, it became the only game in town,
but not good enough to let everyone play;

so now the new game is: Destroy my game.
If all can't have it, let no one have it.

Understand us: We do not need your help
to destroy America. We need your help
to create it. It has not yet been.

Understand us, for we do not. You,
who hate us or condescend to us or toady to us,
you trap us in your sticky visions,
which, hardening, preserve us, your nightmare,
like flies in amber. We cannot be that.
Please understand us. We don't want to destroy you.
But how else can we free ourselves
from your vision?

From here it's downhill all the way --
unless we go the other way.


A police car cruises slowly by.
It's two cops become the center of gravity
of this busy street by their quiet alertness
as they scan through what passes them,
searching, perhaps, for an honest man.

To worry is to wear time
as a rumpled suit.

On this dark plain
Sad am who sane.


Oh some have been saddened,
Oh some have been maddened,
Osama bin laden.

Saddam Hussein is
A sodomus anus.

No porch light. I grope
for the door bell...whoops!
You won't ding, little snail?

After the Tower Fell

"Suddenly no one seems to understand
a word I'm saying," said the lover
of peace to himself
in Babel.

We have been here too long
when what our clothes and furniture
would say if they could talk
is exactly what we say.

Gray branches, brown earth, black crows --
a moving matrix to contain
this volatile green
that drifts in the forest's cage,
lighter than air,
only a brief condensation
of blue and gold,
shepherded, cherished by darting birds and
fluttering shadows that coax it
back within bounds, calming,
caressing, keeping greenness
for a while with us.

The mean justify our end.


How I'd love to be asked for advice;
It would give me a chance to be nice,
To share all my knowledge
(Not taught in some college),
And be humble and wise and (as I'll now explicate in detail with several brilliant examples) concise.

Endless applause --
"Thank you! Thank you!"...Oh!
Heavy rain this dark morning.

We lack, not heroes, but poets,
having plenty of knights eager to save the day
if only someone would create it.

Hope is the scout:
As our armies of certainty grindingly advance
inches a day,
hope leaps ahead.
Some hopes end up limply sprawled
on rolls of barbed reality,
but if we can find enough brave hopes
and keep sending them forward,
surely a few will make it back to us
with good news.

The murderer thinks just one more killing
will end his problems forever,
but there is no solution in the

Caressing every surface,
touching my eyelids, cheeks, belly,
reaching between my legs, my lips,
moving deeply in and out of me
until I am stiff and breathless --
the air.

Nobody -- NOBODY! -- treats me this way!
(A great Zen riddle, like walking without
walking and talking without talking: Stop
treating me the way
nobody treats me.)

He looked like the rest of us,
moved, talked, had a family,
exchanged conventional courtesies with us,
but, looking at him, trying to see
someone there, I could see
only a chalk outline.

Toccata and Fugue -- if there were
no such thing as a cathedral, this
would create one.


Some are not.

Why are we not free?
Because we fear the fear
of those who fear our freedom.

I climb the hill, putting the sun
back in the sky.

Early morning -- a solid wall
of airplane noise. If I were born today,
I'd learn to call it "blue noise",
the sound of sky.

"The great divide," she calls age 50.
I'm 9 years down-river, so why
does the view keep improving?

Crossing the great divide --
not as exciting as, in my juicy teens, crossing
the great (be-fruitful-and-) multiply.

Leaning my head on my fist,
teaching my wrist how hard it is
to be a backbone.

The trick is
while seeing infinity in a grain of sand,
to know it's not
the only pebble on the beach.

THIS . . . is your life on
Internet. Any Questions?

No history book tells of people waiting
in long lines or crowded waiting rooms,
because it is not seen that they make
things happen, nor do they, but THEY happen,
or rather, when enough people have waited
long enough, there occur the explosions
we call History.

A joke making the rounds has the suicide bombers,
expecting to wake in Heaven,
finding themselves in Hell.
It's worse than that: They can't tell
the difference.


The gentle cow's a useful beast, it's true. Her
Grazing trims the grass: She's a lawn Mooer.

I empty my pockets onto the dresser.
Naked, I go to bed. If stopped
by the Dream Police, how will I prove
I'm me?

Though today has been a mild, lazy summer day,
I am one day older. Or can I disagree?
Perhaps some days I grow older, on others
grow younger, aging each time I lapse into
agreement with the calendar, as if running
the wrong way on a treadmill, losing ground
only when I relax my disagreement.

When I think of all the things
I should be doing, sheer desperation,
like heavy-footed braking on a steep slope,
strips my brake-pads slick,
and I skid down into
busy procrastination.

Airing again this morning. We're expected to get
thousands of inches of air before day's end
and continuing tonight.

"I just want to be left alone,"
he said to himself
in vain.

Running, head down,
a world goes past unseen.

A long run --
one sidewalk block, so many

A long long run,
just beyond a worm's horizon,
the next stride.

A long run.
I slow to a walk. The world
of trees comes back.

Post-0-11 Mayoral Campaign Sleeze:

Can mendacity
mend a city?

If you were me,
How nice you'd be!
If I were you,
I'd be me too!

If you were me,
How nice you'd be --
If I were he
I'd like to be
(I'm not, you see).

When the unicorn birds first appeared,
hovering and plunging like giant horned hummingbirds,
they skewered thousands, but now,
in our thick cork armor,
we dare re-emerge into the streets,
where their attacks merely decorate us
with bright quivering feathered darts.

All relatives
are distances.

there's something important I need
to tell you...it's...it's that...
(Well, I'M having it, but
it's yours too.)

Only the unwanted phone-callers
insist on knowing how I am
before asking me anything
I can answer with no.


However is life? More over than not, yet
never the less. We will be thereafter and were
there afore; hence, here with. All be it
as it were.

Excerpts from a long rant:

"Everything changed on September 11."
Don't believe them, notebook.

Now is the time for every good cause
to ride its hobby horse harder.
From all sides, the chorus
of "I told you so!"

We are the most powerful nation on earth.
What could we possibly fear?
Only the sky. ("Look, sweetie! There's
a big airplane!! Can you say
airplane?"), only the air we breathe,
the water we drink, the envelopes
we open. Oh for the good old days,
when all we had to fear were our
drugged and armed children.

"America Controls the Skies"
said the headline after we'd bombed
Afghanistan for two nights. Well
that's a relief. We can go live in the skies,
unless you'd rather keep your feet planted
on terror firma.

"There's nothing to fear but fear itself."
Nothing to love but love itself?
Nothing to talk about but language itself"
Nothing to enjoy but joy, nothing to hate
but hate, etc.

But we are not terrified of terror --
we go to movies to be terrified.

No, it's you I love, not love; it's what
we do to one another and may yet do
that terrifies me, not terror.

Now we are going to make war on terrorism
and wreak Infinite Justice. What a relief!
Just when I was afraid we really HAD
lost our innocence!

Let that nation that hath not sinned...

What we need is increased sanity
in a mad world. And yet, the world's
most powerful nation (in technology,
production, distribution of goods and
services, weaponry) entrusts the area
of mental health to a "science" whose practitioners
produce slightly fewer positive results
than witch doctors from the most impoverished,
illiterate, diseased parts of Africa.

Some among us say we are wrong
to be dropping bombs on Afghanistan,
and, indeed, how many food packets
(are they SMART food packets,
or do they feed just anyone?) -- how many of them
equal one bomb?

I don't know if the bombing is wrong.
It may be better than doing nothing.
What is definitely wrong is that,
again and again, the most powerful nation on earth
feels it has no course of action open to it
but to drop bombs on people.

It's not that we Americans aren't doing our best.
It's just that we don't know what we're doing,
we don't know that we are doing what we do
(who has been to Afghanistan, who knows
what our intelligences services do, who knows
what havoc the quietest commercial burps
of our consumers produce in China, Guatemala,
Saudi Arabia?), and we don't know WHO
is doing even the few things we know
we're doing -- for who are we, as Americans?
What is this freedom we vaunt?
What do we have to offer others?
But within these limitations,
we are doing our best?

Those who attack us, on the other hand,
know precisely what they're doing and
who they are. The only thing they don't know at all
is that they're doing what they're doing
on some other planet in some other millennium
long ago to some hideous enemy long dead.
Unfortunately, as they roam their ghost planet
(which mimics ours, much as a nightmare's landscape
coincides with the bedroom and the wrinkles
in the sheets), their bombs explode only
in this world, blowing up our uncertainties
and persuading us of their mad certainties,
urging us to become the monsters for whom,
so vividly, they've mistaken us.


To a man with a hammer, all problems are nails,
and to someone who wants to pound nails,
every object is evaluated as a possible hammer.

No, child, that's not a toy,
it's a puppy. See, he yips
when you tug his ears. That means
it hurts him.

Yes, that heavy crystal ashtray
can pound your pegs, but you may
shatter it.

We must consider efficiency, the greatest good,
elegance, manners, the feelings of others.
A careful workman selects the current tool
for the job.

If you try to cut metal with a wood saw,
you'll ruin the blade. If you try to
crack walnuts with a Mack truck,
you'll find the meat disintegrated, inedible.
If you pick your teeth with your fingernail
or clean your nose with your finger,
you will not be asked out in polite company.

And yes, child, you COULD make a lampshade
from the skin of a woman, but that is not
what a woman is for or a person.
And, no, child, that is not the proper use
of a plane full of people.

BAD body! BAD BAD body!
Naughty! Get away from me!
You're a BAD BODY --
FAT body! OLD body!
Stop begging -- you HAD your supper.
Get away from me!
Bad Bad body.

Small, cicada-like bugs
that infest the bark of trees and all day

Failing so often in our efforts to be useful,
we begin to complain of being used.

Fame has not changed me,
though I daily bask in the applause
of future readers.

Someday physiologists will realize
there are no smile muscles.
You have to leap outside your head
and with airy fingers
tickle the mouth's corners.

If I sit very quietly
for a very long time,
the living-room furniture will forget I'm here
and resume its ancient rites.

Six pm -- already getting dark.
I hope they are enjoying the sun
wherever it went
as much as I would.

What if I woke up to the same sun and sky,
but could not find you? How then
could I go on hoping ever again
to be free of the sun and the sky?

I write rapidly, and yet
several people have died
while I've written these lines.
Some people have no manners at all.

The dogs crawl up on the bed with me.
I let them stay: My nearness
means so much to them,
so little to me.

WE care about every sparrow feather that falls.
If not, we wouldn't need to invent a God
to care and thus make it OK
for us to forget to care.

Reaching out of himself,
groping for mystery,
the poet entered into and became
a tree, the most interesting thing
that ever happened to that

A hole as small as a mustard seed
in cloudy, wavy glass: window
Hope, like faith, moves mountains.
Each boy takes a peak.

A chicken is a gawky irregular lump.
The egg, all alabaster serene brow --
THERE'S your highly evolved life form,
probably very wise, too, though inscrutable --
until, like a barbarian horde carousing through
a shattered basilica, arrive
the chickens.

Perhaps the sun imagines himself invisible
because no matter how hard he shines,
no one ever looks right at him.

Though you never seem to see me,
I must be content if, in my light,
you can see one another.

So attentive to his date,
like a child ruining his first wrist watch
by continual rewinding.

Sex is like pinball: Poinnng!
I take my shot and jiggle it a bit
until your eyes light up and I am
awarded a free game.

Agents of rain follow me inside,
concealed about my person -- Aha!
One of them drops from my hair,
narrowly missing this notebook...

That nut in the asylum who says he's God,
he IS God. They put him away
because he claimed to be hearing
human voices.

They practice Tai Chi.
Invisible foes are shed on all sides,
softly falling, petals from a rose,
to perish smiling, as if waking
from one dream to another.

You can't solve your problems
by pretending they don't exist,
but it helps to pretend that they do exist.

Being myself is better than being someone else.
I've told myself this many times,
but someone else always intercepts the message --
it never gets to me.

Half awake, I explain something amusing
to my wife, who grunts softly.
Waking, I know I only dreamt
I'd spoken to her. I tell her again
what I told her in my dream.
She grunts the same grunt.

What's a poet to do?
There are only so many ways
to say hello...

so many ways

I lie on my back in grass.
Trees spring up behind my head
as the earth tries to swallow me,
the brave blue arch of sky staving it off
like the stick holding open
the jaws of a crocodile.

This morning, thinking about the future,
I put on my left shoe,
then had to take it off
so I could put on my pants.

When did THAT last happen?
Never...to ME! Long ago
to a child. Has it been so long
since I had a future?


I lead an obscure life.
No one has ever heard of me.
I hope the world will profit
by my example.


If I dial the right number and you're home,
you'll answer.
Why else do you have a phone?
And so I keep writing, thinking,
why else do they have a language?


Perhaps when I say "you",
I mean myself. All the more reason
to hope for an answer.

I made a purple hippopotamus,
gave it wings and said "Fly!"
It lurched forward, flapped sluggishly, collapsed.
"I'm much too heavy to fly!"
it bellowed. With my finger
I flicked him out the window and began
to build a better hippopotamus.

(To avoid resembling a hippopotamus,
Simply reduce that hip or bottom mass.)

My trouble is, I'm way over my head.

Things to Say

When you say something to me
that is cruel or stupid, I am hurt
because of the million things I have to say to you
that, suddenly, can't be said.

When I myself say or do cruel or stupid things,
I am swept back on an afterwave of loss
of the million things I no longer have
to say.

Lint-ball hangs by an invisible thread
just beneath the picture frame.
With the tip of my pen, I brush it free.
It falls, catches, hangs by an invisible thread
an inch above the floor: Prudent acrobat --
you had a net!

Chirp! Chirp! The sparrows
splat sidewalks and cars with
tiny white chirp marks.

Hard to write in the laundromat
with half my attention on what the machines
are doing to my clothes. How can a quiet poet
hope to compete with professional

Today the sun has stopped
dead still in the noon sky.
We are all feverishly
winding our watches.

Full moon -- the whole
family gathers to view
the TV screen.

The faces of enemy soldiers (under funny helmets)
could be our faces. We fire, hoping to shatter
the mirror, but no glass breaks, only
shattered eyes and lips mirror still
our own.

Window with no shade --
if anyone sees me naked,
it serves them right.

Why must I sleep nights?
Don't they want me to catch them
changing the numbers
on the dates?

The Job Has Gotten Tougher

"He died for our sins." I wish
it were that easy -- that I could help you
just by dying for you. No -- for your sins
you must fully confront each one,
and I must see you through it.

Avoiding the mud
till out-flanked: Kiss! Kiss! Spring
makes moist love to shy shoes.

The physical universe rambles on,
satisfied that I am attentive
because I pretend to take notes,
while actually I scribble this gossip
to pass around to you.

I just bit my tongue --
calls are pouring in from all over my nervous system!
"Who would have thought it?" marvels
my tongue: "Thank you for your concern,
I love you all!"

Though my body is 92% water and 98% liquid,
I am careful to dry it after a shower,
and I always wear dry clothing.
Perhaps we developed such habits
so that we can more easily detect leaks.

"I'm cold," she says, snuggling near,
as my hot hands engage in
global warming.

I'm here to see the ocean --
I ran all the way!
Did I miss anything?

Watch your step --
a thin crust of snow conceals
the crevasses;
you could enter a poem
and never leave.

At a movie by myself.
Why not? Don't you go
to this poem alone?

I have no trouble loving my neighbor as myself.
It's harder to love him as HIMself.

Boy intent on pissing --
trying to cover the water
with gold bubbles.

From humble beginnings
God grew up
to be us.


Some magnify God out of pride:
See how great must be that to which
I submit!

"O Lord, Thou art all! I am microscopic
in Thine eye!" But I am permitted
to address "Thee" as an intimate.

People who talk incessantly
about God and God's Will
think of God as the Mafia thinks
of the FBI -- CAREFUL! This conversation
may be bugged.

"God is in each of us."
Those who fear God
fear each of us and themselves.

My friends are all magic:
When I believe bad reports of them,
they turn into toads.

The things you think are wrong with you
are only wrong where they are not

Good grief! It's already the past!

I could become a legend in my own time
if I only had the time.

The sun continued to explode today
with nearly 6 billion survivors.

Somebody better learn to be me
before I split and the universe
falls apart.

If we didn't have bodies,
we could still be friends,
couldn't we?...Hey, are you
listening to me?...

On the path an injured worm
tries to signal for help,
but can only thrash out esses
rapidly, one way, then the other, never
an O.

This spring day I with my pen,
my neighbor pounding, and that lark
waste time.

No one pays me to write.
Lark, do you sing on breaks
from selling used worms?

If I sing like a lark,
will you, lark, tell the world
how sweetly I sing?

Ah, reader, you give good

The dog sleeps with slitted eyes --
dreaming? His eyeballs roll up and around dizzily,
patterns of white, then brown,
then brown and white spinning past
the crescent windows until -- a noise...
Alertness overflows the eyes.

Poems, poems, poems -- always
I have to write more poems!
Reader, do you think I'm MADE of poetry?

I'm the finest poet that money won't buy.

Open me, O pen.


'Twas a cold winter's night, drizzly -- BRRR! --
And a dog in the manger said, "GRRR!"
But a cow and some sheep
Rose from wet shiv'ry sleep,
Tottered near, sniffing frankincense, mrrr.

This is the end
of everything...
so far.

Now that I have your attention,
what would you like me to do with it?

Question mark,
why must your lovely twisting
come to a point?

My last letter said
"'Goodbye forever" -- maybe today
an answer...

Folding only my laundry
since she left, underwear
looking lonely.

My eyes catch my eyes
in the mirror, asking,
where are her eyes?

The sky fell into the lake
and got wrinkled.

"Don't scratch them," she warns.
What good are mosquito bites
if you can't scratch them?

Dear Abby,
Why don't my friends
answer my letters?...
Abby? I say, ABBY!...

if you can't save me from myself,
could you at least set up talks?

Let.s just leave God out of this --
OK, God?

A human is probably the only animal
that stares at its knees.

I opened my hand slowly. It began
to talk to me again, telling me
what it had done.
I clenched my fist tight.

Last Updated: March 8, 2003
copyright c. Dean Blehert 2003. All Right Reserved