Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Nineteen

The leprechaun listened to the sound of the fisher gnome’s skin, his meat and skin. Plap plap. Plap. But he watched the work the breath he’d given was taking on. It was not easy work. The chest heaved, the belly poked out, pulled in. A sickly yellow-green, the color of a healing bruise, began to underlie the ashy blue. The nostrils twitched, the tongue jerked. The eyelids had once settled neatly over the eyes, but the eyes had sunk into the head, and the lids had remained in position, stiff, bloodless, and ajar. But now the lids fluttered, snapped open,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighteen

After giving it a head start, the counting leprechaun warmed another lungful, leaned forward, put his fist under the other’s chin to lessen the slack mouth’s gape, and covered it with his own. The second breath he forced in with a sudden whoosh. Then (as long as we’re counting) he sent a third, a fourth, and, after a pause, a fifth, though this last was slow slow, and finished up what lingered deep in the counting leprechaun’s doughy belly. As he stepped back, someone nearby applauded languidly. That dull slap of hand against hand could only be the fisher gnome.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventeen

his head just under the nose, so the upper lip curled back and the pointy nose jutted out, then from a picture hook strung him up. The counting leprechaun looked at the teeth the curled lip hid no more. They were quite nice. Capped with gold. Even and clean. Dazzled, the counting leprechaun leaned close and tapped a tooth with his cracked fingernail. He smiled a Mona Lisa smile and into the mouth of the blue, unbreathing leprechaun he let a warm wayward breath find its way. This breath knew what to do; he felt it orient, begin to probe.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixteen

familiar faces drinking turpentine and less familiar faces drinking turpentine with cream. Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five. Number thirty-six was an ashy blue and displayed no familiarity with breath. The counting leprechaun rolled this one over and kicked the empty tequila bottle thus revealed. With a slow yawn, which exposed black and yellow teeth chummy as headstones in a pioneer cemetery, the counting leprechaun pissed into the tequila dregs. He grabbed the blue leprechaun by his matted scalp and poured the piss-tequila mixture down his cold throat, then he shook him and pounded him against the wall, tied a power cord around

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifteen

snoring in a pool of green vomit, his beard wrapped three times around his neck, cold vodka dripping from a cracked vase onto his chest. Number two hung by a toe twisted into the beads of a chandelier. Numbers three and four were squeezing hallucinogenic pus from the sores of number five who had been tied to a fireplace grating. The blue slick fingers were then lapped at by whichever tongue happened to be closest. Though tempted, the counting leprechaun only paused for a connoisseur’s sniff before moving on to the flooded bedrooms. The hours passed as he checked old

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fourteen

to a wall or toadstool and slump, sigh, drool a little, sniffle, rub his eyes, one of which had invariably wandered away from its brow and had to be nudged back, then pinch his cheeks until the red in them gleamed like apples slapped with a strop. Taking courage from a swallow of fermented aphid juice and a chaser of deoxygenated brown recluse venom, the leprechaun would rub his nipples absently, squint at least one of his unsteady eyes, and return to the scene of the count. A square-tipped finger picked out the first of his fellow leprechauns, this one

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirteen

kind of whimsy an office manager would enjoy, or a VP in charge of marketing, not a five-year-old. The daughter sniffed the turtle’s diaper (smelled clean) then returned to the kitchen. Meanwhile among the leprechauns one of the least inebriated began counting noses. He had done this a few times and each time had come up with a number. Just when he grew confident that he had the right number, the next count, a count merely to confirm, a count to make sure there was no mistake, would turn out slightly different. The leprechaun would slap his forehead, stagger over

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twelve

could not restrain herself from the most elaborate and various whims. They ranged from elephants made of cotton candy to water in anatomically correct globes that do-si-do’d with smoke armadillos. Even if none of this lasted more than a few minutes it still sounded dangerous. Disruptive anyway. How did multiplication tables get memorized? Besides, didn’t this seem more whimsy than whim? And everyone knows that whimsy doesn’t come on until middle age. A child’s whim is more along the lines of smearing eyebrows with lipstick or pouring lemonade on the dog. A ballerina made completely of paper clips was the

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eleven

mobile into a spin, tossing off a comet that hasn’t yet been reattached. Later, she learned, her baby was merely going through a rock dove mood. They do that. Moods, phases, whims. The mood is of relatively short duration, usually passing within an afternoon. If the turtle was a phase it could last weeks. Infants typically don’t experience whims. Whims are too sophisticated. Whims tend to come on sometime around 30 months. The daughter’s cousin, a school teacher, once had a student whose whims had to be separately housed, with attendants. It wasn’t that they lasted long, but the child

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ten

check on the baby who usually woke from its nap at about this time. In the crib instead of a baby a dusty brown turtle was burrowing under the fuzzy blanket. The daughter pushed the blanket aside and lifted the turtle to her shoulder. She patted its shell gently. A month ago the daughter had gone to the nursery and found a rock dove nestled under the blanket, its head neatly tucked under one wing. She had screamed, which caused the dove to burst into flight. It rushed about the room, brushing knick-knacks off the bookcase and sending the star

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Nine

ablution team at the World Ablution Championships, an event that comes around every six and a half years. Cheering for spiritual cleanliness seemed to have a greater social import after the bloody unrest. Or so she thought aloud, while washing the baby’s bottles, her left hand smarting from a speckling of freshly boiled water. When she shook the bottles out and leaned them in the dish drainer, she turned to her father, and found he’d left the room. The daughter sighed, pushed behind an ear a few strands of auburn hair that had been tickling her nose, and went to

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eight

also was a pleasant spring with lots of flowers on the hedges, the Truth Commission hearings were winding down (the ratings for which had hit a nadir), and the new Red vice president (the former rebel commander) and the Blue president (the previous administration’s minister of argument) had been seen at state dinners civilly passing a basket of sourdough. The farmer’s summons likely involved jury duty, ceremonial guard duty at one of the nation’s monuments, museums, or sacred cenotes, or drinking. None of these, the daughter reasoned, was high risk at present, what with the recent victory of the national

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seven

you were a Red this did not necessarily mean you got your old house back, as someone might be living in it who now considered it their house and the government wasn’t interested in pushing people around, but it did mean you could apply for compensation from a special fund created by an additional tax on the importation of milk, milk being a product the country just held its own on producing, which meant as supply fluctuated money would move into the fund, though not as much as was needed to cover all claims or even very many claims. It

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Six

The very next day the sheep farmer received a summons. His service was requested on behalf of the City of Reds and Blues. The farmer’s daughter tried to look on the bright side. The civil unrest had recently been decided in favor of power sharing. The army of the Reds having been demobilized and disarmed, their followers were allowed to reclaim the homes and property that had been stolen from them when the head general of the Blues went bad in the head and sent his soldiers on a killing and looting spree that no one could have predicted. If

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Five

mix had been the first one to the ewe, the lamb she was birthing still stretching out the wet birthsack. The dlgs mix grabbed the lamb by one hind leg, while his buddy got hold of the other, and, not wanting to share, each pulled in his own direction. The ewe wailed. The farmer was on watch as he knew the ewe was sure to drop any day. He’d even patrolled the fence, but the feral dogs found a hole hidden under a shrub, and the farmer came running too late to save the lamb who hadn’t opened one eye.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Four

seemed impossible to the dlgs mix, yet you could not deny that all around there were trees. Packs of them. And that appealed to the social animal. A forest is the most faithful of packs. Only in death does your neighbor abandon you. The dog imagined a tree doesn’t feel the pangs of hunger the way a dog does. A dog feels the pangs of hunger pretty darn pangily, let me tell you. So it was both dogs were given opportunity to cash in their karma on a new go-round by a sheep farmer and the sheep farmer’s shotgun. The

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Three

a deep admiration for patience, not having much himself. There were dogs with patience, he knew, dogs who could wait hours, even days, for the beloved to return, and wait without complaint, patiently, gazing off into a future so assured nothing made them nervous. The dlgs mix knew he could never be like that. A tree, however, was patience. It was essential tree nature. No matter the species, if it was a tree it was patient. A tree planned for the long term, reaching deep for the resources that stayed put, spreading wide to catch the resources more fleeting. That

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Two

pal, a doberman-labrador-greyhound-schnauzer mix, liked the idea of tree, having peed on many a tree during his time, pee for a dog being no insult but rather a prime component of the communication repertoire. Dogs have real respect for trees. The dlgs mix was also tired of having to run around all day, sniffing, biting, scratching. It’s not that there weren’t satisfactions to a good gnaw or to the tingle in the nose brought on by a whiff of dog butt gland, indeed, it was hard to imagine a life that didn’t include such wonders, but the dlgs mix had

Friday, August 13, 2010


“Thousand” has just exceeded 10,000 words. Seems like that should call for a party. Anybody want to set up a surprise party for me?

Thousand: One Hundred One

available), a gnat (brief turnaround time could be an advantage), a basilisk (tempting for the vengeful but may not actually exist), a tree (you are not allowed to specify a species), or a Catholic. The dog, upon its death, chose Catholic. The child did not know he had been a dog in a previous life, although during communion a priest did get bitten. The Catholic position rotates with Hindu, Muslim, Animist, and Zoroastrian. Many dogs go for gnat. Gnat is not as low a rung on the karma wheel as you may think. Plus, there’s little waiting. The dog’s best

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred

up the tomato beds. And biting off all the squash blossoms. This was not a good beginning to the dog’s story. However, after it was dropped off at the crossroads in the middle of the night, the dog learned the ways of the country dogs, which was to chase sheep, tear open the hutches of tame rabbits in order to eat them, and steal food from the bowls of cowering poodles, that and rack up karma points for their next lifetime when they would be (and here they were given a choice) wolves (a very limited number of wolf slots

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Nine

drink order the bartender reaches up and plucks from the tree’s branches one of its fine fat fruits. The bartender puts the plum to her mouth and bites. Plum juice sluices down her chin and, as she chews and bites and bites and chews, working her way through the slippery, softening plum, the juice drips from her chin, and the juice runs down her bare arm to the elbow where sweet golden drops gather and fall. “I’ll have what they’re having,” says the tree. Once upon a time there was a dog. The dog had begun its story by digging

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Eight

An elm, a citrus fir, and a summer plum walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” The elm says, “Water.” “OK,” says the bartender. “Water it is.” Then, turning to the citrus fir, the bartender asks the same question, “What will you have?” The citrus fir thinks for a moment as though it hadn’t anticipated having to answer exactly that question. “Water,” after due consideration the citrus fir says. “Great!” says the bartender. “We have very fine water here.” Now it’s the turn of the summer plum. But before the plum has a chance to place its

Monday, August 09, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Seven

that might be the better choice, really, considering the unappetizing sway of dried kidneys on a string. A dilapidated cottage in dark woods or that distant thing that might be something. The wear of the paths suggests a preference. Although it could be more travelers than not are lost and a house of that sort encourages one to keep going. Not to say the less traveled path comes to a stop at the stoop. It goes on beyond, too. Above your head evergreens drag needled crowns in a fog. Down in the bushes birds rustle and mice build toothpick houses.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Six

to breathe, although, frankly, not everyone would. The other road leads to the beginning of something. It will get there eventually, which is why this road is used. The way, however, is roundabout. It wanders, its destination is its determination not to get any particular where any particular soon, and it’s pretty good about making that destination in good time. There are those who like that. Maybe more than like to be healed or who think they are ailing, alone in the woods, with the option of an ugly old woman to save them, or going forward toward the place

Saturday, August 07, 2010

no nod

Got the news about the second batch of haiku I sent out at the end of July. (Fast turnaround!) “Though there are some interesting observations here,” said the editor, leading with the positive, “they tend to tell all and thus leave the reader little to discover.” Then she recommends an essay on contemporary poetry, the same one linked from the haiku magazine’s website, so, yeah, I done read it, right. Whatever.

Having read & written haiku off & on over the last 25 years I’m not going to claim I have nothing to learn – there’s always something to learn, isn’t there – but my process is for my purposes. Not pleasing the editors of haiku magazines, while disappointing, is a matter of incidental importance. 20 years ago I subscribed to Modern Haiku and sent work to the editor who was friendly and tried to be helpful. It was then I learned how fussy the idea of haiku can be. Still, I’ve read a lot of haiku I’ve loved. I don’t know that the proportion of haiku loved to haiku bored by is greater than the proportion of other contemporary poetry loved/bored by, but the haiku goes by faster.

Thousand: Ninety-Five

indifferent drummer just off the altiplano. There are so many ways to go. Perhaps you should let a coin choose your path. The road less traveled, though not much less traveled, really, as neither’s been traveled much at all to judge by the grass growth, presents the attraction of being a shortcut to the ancient healer in the woods, a hag of withered countenance and prominent physiognomy, with two cats of dubious manufacture, a haint, as well as several organs and oranges drying on strings next to the gleaming ropes of peppers on her verandah. You are bleeding. You continue

Friday, August 06, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Four

What metal could prove itself, clean as mercury, toothsome as gold? What joy has been cut to accentuate its facets? But just then, the heroic anthem strikes up and a banner unfurls over a castle just stormed. The rain is falling on a drought-stricken postage stamp. And the sinecure provided an aged actuary proves just slightly inadequate such that he must downgrade his trip to the French Rivera to a trip to the Balkan Riviera, Montenegro’s Adriatic which, he tells his youthful protégé, Elizabeth Taylor thought was worth an afternoon or two. Meanwhile, you hear a different drummer chasing an

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Three

of fate until it hits the sun, sweeps just shy of the heel and touches venus’ mount, before turning back up the life. Oh, what a tickle! And it so knows you. This little bead has bobbed about your ankle and cycled up and down the inside of your nose. This little bead’s been squeezed through the left ventricle of your twisting heart and lingered in a lung to exchange some gases. It knows your prefrontal lobe and your middle frontal gyrus. And, yes, it’s helped warm your hairy genitals. This bead knows you. What gem could be so intimate?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Two

setting in the silver dust, untie from the stone the ready pink thread, and begin to add to it the beads of your inner darkness, one by one, to make a necklace? Are you a do-it-yourself type who would snag a curl of cloud and twist it between your fingers into the thread that would pass through the needle’s hungry eye? What better spine for the bead of secrets? You catch one of these ruby beads as it drops from your arm. You roll it around in your palm. It scurries over your girdle of venus then follows the line

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-One

you prick your thumb? A trail of blood leads down to your elbow from which two drops have already leapt the gap between your flesh and the earth. It was the rose you fondled. So pretty. It was as though the world, swaddled in its soft red petals, were a sleepy bee. That’s when the thorn gets you, dips its fang into your sap, and draws the poison out. The darkness is drawn to the beckoning needle of the rose. It emerges in beads. You forgot the thread. Thread? Do you lean over now and pluck the stone from its

Monday, August 02, 2010

seeking the nod

Of the two batches of haiku I sent out this past week, I got a response to the one sent Saturday. Two days ago. The response was NO. “While your work is engaging,” said the editor kindly, “it does not quite meet all of our criteria …” Ah, haiku criteria. Yes. The haiku purists have a pile of criteria that have to be met in order for a little poem to be a haiku. Some Japanese are quite contemptuous of Western versions of haiku. The editor did suggest I try again next reading period. If he’d thought me totally off track surely he would have defended himself against further time wasting by fending me off more brusquely!

So I might. If I stick to my haiku-writing regimen I’ll have scads of rejectables seeking someone to say NO to them.

Thousand: Ninety

from his foot, had offered in exchange a limp. Around your feet are the bread crumbs that lead off to the left. Tied to a stone is a pink thread that zigzags away over the rubble, circles a tree, then disappears into a hole. The stars, as usual, have been aligned into a northward pointing arrow. There is an envelope pinned to your collar. Breathe, remember? It’s not the sort of thing one remembers. Breathing. If one were to remember every breath the memory would have room for what else? The action. Breathing. That’s what you have to remember. Did

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Nine

Sighs? “You hurt me,” said the man who traveled across stones hot as tears, who had beaten his camels with a switch cut from a tree that all the time weeps, its sobs shaking it to the hollow. They would not go faster. They would scream, raising their ululations to the camel god who seemed to be taking a mercy fast. “I didn’t hurt you,” you want to say, but where is he? He limped off into the maze, leaning on a silver crutch that had a toe of sore flesh, the hurt man’s own toe, the one that, torn