Thursday, December 31, 2009



Behind you,
the weird grey graffiti of shadow.
You loom
above yourself, outside yourself.
It's called
projection--casting your darkness
onto objects,
landscapes, people. The good news?
is also a noun, at least when the stress
is placed
on the first syllable. The word leans
its weight
forward, prods you on, invites you
to wear
whatever magical clothes allow the work
to happen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ships Set Out

Ships Set Out

Ships set out to cross oceans
with maps that ended. This was the edge
of the world with saltwater draped atop it,
unbounded as sky. Months of this,
years of this, the heading-toward-ness,
and still, the crew worked and ate
and slept and conversed. If nowhere else,
here was land, an island, a shore.

Monday, December 28, 2009



Halfway through my drink, I notice the stain
that adorns the rim: small, smudged, pink.
All the traditional stand-ins for a lovely mouth
arrive. A petal, a bud, any part of a flower,
really. Coral. The pink underside of a seashell.
I settle on a pencil's garish eraser, which leaves
crumbs and streaks of itself to blot out error.
I press the napkin's edge to the lip print,
and clear what water and detergent had not.
Again, this becomes a glass dedicated to the task
of cleanly containing water and slivers of ice.
Some other woman painted her lips and drank,
quite recently. It is not alarming, this ongoing
exchange of mouths and glasses and water.

Friday, December 25, 2009



A garland, a crown,
a rounded sprig of twigs
and cut greens to lean on the door.

An empty frame,
a mock mirror lacking
kept images, reflective backing.

This is an entrance
that I have circled, a porthole,
an enchanted, perfumed portal.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Key

The Key

Here is the key to the city.
I know, it is heavy. Not the city,

the key. Not to mention gold
and beribboned. I'm assuming the gold

isn't just brass. Should I bite
it? Can't you taste gold to test it, bite

down to see if it puts up a fight
in your mouth, against your teeth? Fight

the urge to brandish the key
like a baseball bat. No, you cannot key

the Mayor's car, nor egg
its windshield, or knife the tires. Egg

me on to fit the key in a lock,
to turn it, a steering wheel that can unlock.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009



Put it inside of something with a handle.
Stow, tote, lug--whatever version of carry
occurs when you bend and reach for it.
Zippered, flap-pocketed, grommeted,
trimmed in leather or tweed--the bag
is heavy even on its own, even without
any of your belongings tucked away inside.
Lift with your legs. Push into the floor beneath
you, the floorboards, the grass, the rooty dirt.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009



An extra face, the outer layer.
The outside hull of a tangible object.
For example, the flat top of a table
onto which we pile cutlery and dishes,
or maybe the mail. The readily visible
and accessible to eye and to skin.
These are our surfaces, our eyes
and our skin. They keep us in.

Monday, December 21, 2009



Tonight, a swarm of crows
hurtling overhead, with the velocity
of sand flung from a beach towel.

As if in response, the train
arrived just then, and pulled open
its doors to reveal a people

dedicated to holding closed
their coats, their scarves. This train
is conductorless, carries itself

North or South, and stops
at the same speed in every station.
How to classify this momentum:

the elevated train, cables
and currents embracing passengers,
the eruption of crows in multiple?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009: White Christmas

White Christmas

Why the preoccupation
with holiday snowfall,

with a landscape blank
or blanketed, all the houses

and hills like the bumpy
outlines of figures in beds.

Why the need for cold,
for a calendar materialized

in weather that lingers
and lingers. Is it only so that

we can look out on it from
a place of warmth, so that we

can glide on top of it as if
our very feet had been recreated?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009: Branches


Branches, do you feel satiated
in the summer, the lush sheen of leaves,
saturation of sun?

It is December. What do you sense
in the river of wind coursing through the spaces
inside of you?

The snow lies on your bark like stubble.
There is a nest on your highest limb,
a bowl of twigs gradually filling with snow.

See how it balances, it doesn't spill,
so well-constructed is it within you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009: Toothbrush


A plastic wand in the mouth, sugared gel
gone frothy from water and agitation.
Attention to the undersides, the backs,
the overlappings, the gaps. There is intimacy
in here somewhere, I tell you. The toothbrush
runs stiff fingers over calcium as a woman
untangles her mussed hair--without faltering
or judging. The bristles lean equal weight
over fissure, filling, veneer. Twice a day
we spit out traces of what's been taken in,
the blunt spikes slipping beneath the gum
as a reminder of how easily we are pierced.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009: Thirst


The wineglass does what liquid wants to,
collects in the flat puddle of the base.

The stem needs fingers enfolded around it
for it to be a tool, an index finger and a thumb

and a ridge of knuckle. When you drink,
you tilt its lip to meet yours, briefly,

and then set it against the table or whatever
surface is in front of you. All it takes to push

an object into its purpose is a set of fingers,
bent like a crane's legs, and thirst.

Monday, December 14, 2009



The strain and drape of clothing against skin,
measurements converted to volume, sensation.

Socked feet sliding against a tiled floor,
a sandpapery whisper deep in the instep.

Numbness sputtering into splintered pain,
a hand or foot reawakening to itself.

The big sting under an eyelid solved
in the retrieval of an eyelash, a tiny fishhook.

The gentle pressure of a cool fingertip
against the throat, percussive, verifying bone

or indentation, the places by which the body
is exposed as tent, frame, drum head.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009: Nicolas Evariste, "The Passenger"

Sea Legs

From land to water,
the body must account for motion.
Beneath the boat,
the sea churns, a roiling, lunar
terrain. Its beat
crawls through you, adjusts your bones
within their limbs.
These movements read as uncertainty,
tremors, the shakes.
But deep inside the trembling is
a trust in the rhythm
of approaching ocean. Lean your weight
against ship against water,
and wade into disorientation.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009: Amy Casey, Begin Again (


Buildings, trees, teeth.
All can be wrenched from moorings

with the proper amount
of torque. Leverage and pressure and

the impulse to yank,
and how can surroundings resist? Oh,

let's be honest here,
landscapes are altered everyday. Holes

are constructed in
city blocks, big boxes of earth and space

and beam. Trees keel
over, roots revealed and splayed like tentacles.

And of course the old
string round the open door's knob, tied to

the tooth. Steady your palm,
its innate desire to push and pull. On three.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from:storm.jpg


Rain on its way to becoming
snow. Water in the process
of becoming weaponry.

Droplets flung like darts.
The sting of the in-between.
Transitional types of weather

bewilder and entrance:
pearls of hail loosed upon
the green lawn; the frost

sprung up on leaves
of its own accord, an
internal snow released;

and this, the sleet,
diagonal and digging silver
claws, a volley of arrows.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009: Gwenessa Lam, Curtain & Chandelier:

The Curtain

The curtain's spine is first to wear dirt.
The sheer panel dims over time,

a failing bulb. The edges of the ceiling fan
grow furry with sediment, like petals

recalling pollen. Without movement,
life is present, but only through accumulation,

congregation. Stillness calls out to stillness
in the language of decomposition.

Dust and tarnish will stain anything stationary,
will drape dusky hands on unmoving material,

turn brightness into pallor. The curtain sighs,
content to go on gathering, gathering.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: All About | :: Dan Shepelavy ::

Strange Beasts of the Present

These days, strange creatures still surround us,
but they are getting harder to identify

because they are learning the best hiding places.
In the hood of a car, in a wallow of oil,

for instance. Or the bottom shelves of libraries,
between pages of books that go untouched

for years. In a nest of leaves in the gutter.
In the mouth of a VCR. We'll need to teach

the children how to search for them, how to
distinguish the sound of their breathing

from the hum of the lights or the fridge,
and to coax them from their dens occasionally,

so that we can remember how good it feels
to be near to something untamed, otherworldly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: Tumblr


Satin folded in upon itself,
arms bent at the elbow, clasped behind
the back. A fastening, a knot, but not
for function. You are meant to untie the bow,
to pull at one of the ends, to take its hand
in yours and disentangle its temporary
prettiness. It readily unfolds,
a butterfly transforming in reverse.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009: Notcot #26715 (Post number 350!)


This tire came from a tree.
A curved blade shaved
a strip of bark, winding

around the trunk, a whittled
barber pole, a study in
exteriors. Latex seeps

along the cut. And still,
the tree is fine, we slice
it almost every other day.

Latex drips out like overturned
correction fluid, and we
siphon it, keep it, praise it

for its ability to be changed,
its resilience. We wrap wheels
in its buoyant embrace, or

compile and compress it
into an eraser, a marvelous
tool for removing, resurfacing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009: Ffffound! Madame Herve: behind the curtains: Tilda's Advent


The cursor ascends the screen
without prompting from my finger.

A Ouija board indicator, it floats
up, a white pennant raised by pulleys

off screen. This is evidence of
the magic buried inside the little

that we perceive, and call life.
The cursor hits the ceiling

of the monitor, bumps its point
on the edge of the screen.

I touch it with a pointed finger,
pluck it from the monitor

and hold it between thumb
and index finger. The edges

are sharp. Still it lies on the table,
unable to breathe the undigital air,

pointing with no reason, an arrow
irretrievably jettisoned, aimless.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009: The Library of Congress on Flickr (via the Flickr blog)


Distance can be condensed,

so that it lies flat as paper
on paper.

Gaping cathedrals, their ceilings
like flipped-

over, suspended pirate ships.

hills and lonely orchards.

leading up or down,
the faint

edge of land across
the lake.

Immensities yield to the page,

hands tacking them onto

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009: Notcot #26456

The Dash

Like windows into the core of meaning,
gauges throw their needles' weight
on numbered pinpricks. To indicate
a change in speed, a car's careening

from trot to gallop, the pointer lifts
an inch or two. The engine shrieks
within the efficiency of its physique,
and still, the needle barely shifts.

Scarce as a body's slump into sleep,
change comes. To quantify
the present, we need a contraption, an eye
that registers physics. The car is a heap

of motorized gears. We were built
of miscalculation, the earth's tilt.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: tumblr_kt4zhrIETb1qapnito1_500.jpg

The Drive

I drive past four car accidents
in half an hour. Blue, red, yellow
light tumbles through my car
with the trajectory of a soaring
soccer ball. I drive slowly, I do,
the car's gait laced with caution
and avoidance. At arm's length
from the disaster, this is where
I try to hold myself, upright
and singing along with voices
propelling from the spinning disc
in the dash. Onward without plan,
I assign the memory part of my brain
to get me home, to reel me in
one car length at a time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, November 19, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: Lovely Package


If I am here,
I am not elsewhere.

For every
one of of my actions,

there are
a staggering amount

of verbs
I have not used.

This is the
trouble with one foot

in front of
the other. If we illuminated

all the paths
I have not surveyed, surely

the map would
blind me, this cardiovascular

system begging
to carry blood, air, a body.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009: Polaroid Vase by Jung Hwajin

Some Things Are Irreversible

Faces seared
onto a Polaroid,
looking out
from the white sill
always will.

The brocade
of scar on skin,
an embossing
of pain.

The crease
in the corner
of a page,
formed in
an instant:

Recall a moment
by these marks.
Return to them,
these asterisks
signifying the pretense
of permanence.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009: Notcot 26344


The mouth is a sock puppet inside the skull.
It peers out between hedges of teeth.

Your voice is the hand, the puppet's backbone.
The mouth is a channel for sound,

and sound evacuates all manner of meaning.
Throat, jaw, lips, teeth, these are

the mouth, stacked and intrinsically harmonious.
The mouth, a member of phylum

chordata, a small room out of which ideas take wing
like passenger pigeons released.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009: Tim O'Brien at Drawger

The Zoo

A city needs a zoo.
We need to see animals in natural,
simulated habitats.

At the zoo, they are grouped
into neighborhoods, continents.

We gawk at their eyes,
the giraffe's canopy of black lashes,
the elephant's fatigued Bakelite.

The zoo employees are dressed
for safari, in rumped khaki.

The animals feel quite
comfortable, of this we are certain.
They still roar and shriek,

trill and grunt. They eat
their favourite foods at the zoo.

When we leave, we hope
to carry in us something of
their fierceness, their unruliness,

but often, I think of how far
from home they are and will always be.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: Kenichi Hoshine--BOOOOOOOM!

The ocean's surface mirrors mountains.
A still body of water is a night sky
pulled tight as a fitted sheet.

A felled tree lies end up,
a heap of thumbprinted stump
and mangled roots,
a crumpled hand.

Landscape is reiteration, duplication,
at least in the human eye.

All nature is pattern reaching for itself,
and so is this,
so is this.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: Materialicious--Book Sconce


(Under, beneath,
in binding and on page.
In the bandage of
the binding, the glue
in the shredded canvas.
Meaning wells up
and finds hidden channels
to course through.
And all of this under,
the being of the book
when it is closed.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: Tumblr

Today everything I notice is in contrast.
Orange leaves against the wet, grey street,

bright as parrot feathers.
The fog on my back windshield

dissolving into colourless stripes.
Hydrangeas blue as bruises

lingering next to brick.
The lack of people in the market

and the throngs of cars creeping
along their narrow lanes.

The muffled noises of night
inside other people's apartments--

a squawking television set,
the pulse of the washing machine

next door, an elevator's whir.
And of course, as I bring water

to my face to wash from it
the day's unseen debris,

the knowledge that tomorrow
is poised to sort shadow from glare.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009: Achraf Kassioui via Notcot

How to Read Instructions

Match the pieces to their images.
Count them, the fittings and the tools
with which to fit them.

Match the number of parts
to the number of parts listed on the page.

Lay out all the materials,
reserving a you-shaped spot amongst them.

These directions are in
another language. Search
for your mother tongue in the instructions.

Look for any image
to dangle from, a caption
or a warning of a product's dangers.

Assembly can be hazardous.
Take up any two metal fragments,

press them into one another.
Fasten that onto one of the rough-edged

boards. Lose the Allen wrench
in the plush of the carpet, but fear
not, there are six Allen wrenches,

seven if you count the one lolling
in the bottom of the box like a penny
in a parking meter.

When there are no more parts to join
or misplace, look at the picture
on the front of the box

and ask yourself, what in the world
have you made?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday, November 5, 2009: Notcot #26043


Candy-coloured building blocks drop from the sky.
I am the builder. It’s my job to pull them into
Even lines, not to stop their falling, but
To ease them into waiting spaces. There’s music, too,
To contend with. It sets a pace, or maybe I do.
The blocks flutter down like confetti, Rubik’s cube shrapnel,
So I breathe and gather myself. There’s work to be done here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, November 4, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: Studio Home Creative: Once upon a time…

Spiders make a web because they must.
They do not hang there ominously
In hopes of frightening you.

Nor do they want to socialize with you.
They pull the thread from themselves
Without unraveling, and choose

Branches or railings or wires as a frame.
Do not fear this weaving, their textile
Equal parts hole and seam.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from Flickr Photo Download: las vidas en las casas

Pull the wool
from your body,
arms up and over the head.

Tug from the shoulders,
the upper arms.
The sweater crackles like fire,

grips at your face,
your cheekbones and nose.
Strands of your hair are weightless

as the looped yarn
runs fingers along
the smooth, dark tresses.

All this friction,
All this static,
and still we put it on

and shrug it off
in fear of the chills
that can clasp our human skin.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009: Quoted from: Design *Sponge


Growing stealthily, evergreens
produce new needles at their tips, their edges.

They stretch and grow, by adding inches, limbs.
Or practice subtraction, dropping handfuls of needles,

like piles of pick-up sticks. Because we see
no change, no baring of arms, no traffic light's

rendition of time and movement (green, yellow,
red), we say yes, evergreen,

perpetually lush, already grown,
still growing, though not apparently.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009: Materialicious--Domsai by Matteo Cibic

You, the you I write to.
The whole so what.
I know that I have your
attention. And now

I'll keep showing you
scenes, presenting them
like tattered bouquets.
You, you can look

at them, the images
that I bundle and display.
I bring them because
what else can be done

with the disorder
of how this happens
except to make collections
and place them at your feet.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009: Notcot #25897

How to Live in a Tree

If the tree is going to fall, let it fall.
If it will live, allow it to,
and build your house around it.

Trust it to hold your weight.
Remember that you don't have
a front yard, just a yawning space

and majestic view and a narrow set
of stairs. Yes, watch your step in
this life within life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009: Notcot #25822


Locked into a safe,
a box with a latch and a lock.

The lid remains closed,
the latch snapped, sealed.

What of the glittering thing
in the dark chamber--

what is it like
in that crate, no air,

no light. Safe, we call it,
from rougher hands,

from the calendar flipping
fast as a bicycle's spokes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009: Notcot #25833

The Lake Keeper

You have entered onto someone else's land.
This much is clear as you watch water slap shore

and your breath leave you in pale puffs,
perfume from an atomizer.

Even your silence is borrowed, is an interruption.
Three raccoons scuttle from beneath

the skirt of a pine. Ducks clatter in the water,
dirty dishes clanking in a sink.

Probably a squirrel gripped a branch.
Leaves collected against leaves.

Only you watched, thinking your silence
qualified you to belong to this moment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009: photo by Marcos Armstrong (via his Flickr)

Strange Design

Strange design has been applied
to this sheet metal. Water’s

drooled, dragging rusty stalactites,
brown daggers. Perforated

stencils—labels of ounces and pounds,
an emblem resembling a sheriff’s badge.

The most recent revision: seventeen
bullet holes, a constellation

of freckles, troublesome moles. We process
the punctures as polka dots, black

spots, dark drops of paint.
This metal is aging artfully,

unwittingly, thanks to the dusky
palette of decay, graffiti.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009: Materialicious--Ecolodge in Egypt

Sand, Snow

Sand kneaded with saltwater
and scooped with a bucket

keeps its shape when overturned.
It will crumble if it dries,

and will fall once again into sand,
knocked loose of all tension.

The inverse of sand is snow.
Snow will also respond well

to condensing, to being packed
in a gloved grip to temporary solidity.

Sand, snow--kick it, throw it,
build with it. Use it to destroy

or assemble. It will regenerate,
smithereens of lost water or ground.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from: Friends of Type

every place.

In every location,
each site,

all areas,
and each point.

Far and wide,
the world over,

in each and every
space, with name

and without,
here is where

thought yields
horizon, the heart

fashions milemarkers
and arbitrary arrows.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009: Jillian Tamaki at Drawger

The genre of mystery
hinges on resolvability,

on whether the clues
presented to you

add up to a culprit,
or at least enlightenment.

The genre answers
the reader's need

for objects, people
to be clues, to be

crucial to the plot,
mostly in hindsight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009: Ffffound!--Quoted from: tofutti break

In and around our lives,
there are catalysts that help us release.

A flood sends a basement's worth
of belongings afloat.
The next day, black garbage bags line the curb,
dark bulbs waiting to be planted.

Let this go,
let it slip from your hands
as children clamber over a jungle gym
and fling themselves down the slide.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from:///latest///

Think of all the greeting cards sent
with the merest amendments--
two names, or only one,

the sender and the receiver.
The margins corral the printed
text, italicized, centered.

A column of lines like an upended
barcode for specialized birthdays,
for sons and daughters,

for their children; two sentences
for condelences, their fonts
intertwined, tendrilly.

The greeting card has gained the trust
of anyone who cannot write
what they feel, or anyone

who does not know what to feel,
what to say, how to verbalize
the way we are catapulted

into the future. Tell me how
to congratulate and offer sympathy.
I will sign my name.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009: Notcot #25548

All roar and defiant vulnerability,
riding a motorcycle is a statement.

I'm tough, and wish that I could fly,
or I am in control of all of this or

My skull is my helmet.
The motorcyclist's clothes are armor,

accelerator, made to cut through air
cleanly, a beetle's shiny wings.

They are stared at by those inside
of metal vehicles, who cling to steering

wheels and turn knobs for music or heat,
grateful for the coverage, the climate control.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009: Quoted from: Flickr Photo Download: Cinderella concept

In fairy tales, the stakes are high,
and all trials must be timed:
before midnight, at sixteen,
by sunset on the third day.

Never a minute early, the problems
are solved at the deadline. The moral
of these stories? Be patient, and wait,
look out the window, and dream, and sigh.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009: Quoted from: Bacardi on the Behance Network

Shape Shifter

Wax changes form without complaint
and each time, wick hunches under flame.

Who is not a shape shifter, prodded one way
or another--not by force, but by unseen

heat, bringing molecules to their knees.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009: Notcot #25440

Under each streetlight,
a circular pool

of weak illumination
puddles atop concrete

Either a puddle or
a manhole, a trapdoor

Just light on a surface,
unwavering until

morning, fixed on
this spot, here

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009: Notcot #25379

Plants have it figured out.
Clothed in aerodynamics,
seeds pull free of tree limb
or stem, and spin, or flutter,
or drift toward soil.

Even in death, the fragile,
dried-out blossoms or
leaves heave themselves
upon whatever earth is available.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009: Mark Fisher at Drawger--Steel Life in Mummytown

Did you learn to float,

to trust the cool water to hold you

Did you think of ice cubes

displacing only their weight

and even in melting to maintain

the water's surface, to remain level

Did you need arms beneath you

stiff as the runners on the bottom of a sled

while you closed your eyes

against the heat of the sun

and the give of the water's slack surface

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009: Notcot #25251

In all of the refined science
of our age,

little diseases flourish, defiant.
We gauge

each symptom, Google it with dread.
A cough

can worsen quickly, or might spread.
Swear off

every pleasurable food or drink,
and douse

your hands with Purell. You might think
your house,

your community is immune
to germs

that sound sprung from myth or cartoon,
but worms

still push their way through dogs' hearts,
and red

spots are called a pox. Our parts
are fed,

and our modernity, to bugs,
to flus.

We can only make the drugs,
the news.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009: Behance—Small Talk


Deserving praise and protection,
those with a great sensibility
exhibit the classic symptoms:

Quickening heartbeat,
flush brought on by fear or excitement,
water pooling in the eyes for small dogs
and other helplessness.

Science sought to measure
this titillating theory—
that the body replicates and regulates
passion, desire, pity.

The body is sympathetic to itself,
winds the pulse like a watch,
directs blood and allows it to be shown through skin.
Not the piano keys, nor the player,
but the pedals--
hushing, obstructing, sustaining.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009: Drawger: Walter Schnackenberg (via Rob Dunlavey)

It is four in the morning.

Legions of deep sleepers cling to pillows,
their dreams the day's reverberations,
or else nothing, starless.

Some of us stir,
eyes open and seeing shapes in the blue-dark.

Memories come crawling toward us, unbidden.
They are made significant only by the hour.

Remember this.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009: Flickr at the Getty Images Gallery, London (Peter Baker)

The Parking Lot

If it is tiered (think airport),
an endless spiral climb
and search in darkened
levels of numbered spots.

If it is level (think movie theatre),
an immense plain of blacktop
adhering to plowed earth underneath,
like newly-cooled lava.

Vehicles remain in their slots
marked with metal signs
delineating rows or colors.
The cars remain there,

a robot harvest in this urban
or suburban garden, and bark
once or twice to tell their owners
reassuringly, we are still here!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009: Mark Fisher at Drawger--Ennui in Mummy Town


The gray lull that yawns in afternoons.

The dull discomfort trickles along your scalp,
the nape of your neck,
settling around your shoulders.

A weightless yoke.

A verb problem--what to do,
this game of next, next, next suddenly
made visible, barely materialized,
a cobweb reaching one tentacle from a corner

and almost as quickly receding,
crab into dark, dark shell.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009: Behance--Daniella Lehavi

Little Things

It's the little things that get me.

Someone says it, probably a woman,
while sighing and placing a tissue beneath
her lower lash line.

Her eyebrows arch steeply in sentiment,
and yes, reminiscent of a church steeple,
reverent, inconvenient.

It's the little things that get me.

She's explaining while watching a scene,
a small thing, replete with the ordinary
and yes, the tender: an ice cream truck
rollicking along the city street,
a man buying tulips, pink as polished nails.
The extra button to who-knows-what,
some sweater long since surrendered to time's unraveling.

We make it diminutive,
call it an object, a little thing,
so as to be capable of holding it,
holding onto it.

It's the little things.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009: Notcot #25051


In the Dallas Cowboys stadium,
the new one, a screen floats above the field.
It replicates the action, nearly
life-sized, and in high definition.

It is easier to watch the screen.
Even that little bit of distance helps the eye
hobble onto the field, process the colours:
green, white, blue, cavernous black,

silver and yellow. The cameras
guide us through the game. Meanwhile,
the Cowboys run and tumble and throw
below themselves, their own reflection.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009: Drawger, Shout

Make the shape of a J
when you paddle,
I learned in my limited canoe experience.

To turn, the person in the back
should plunk their paddle
down into the water, straight and steady.

I made my sister promise
as I handed her the paddle
not to tip our canoe, to be careful, because

(even now) I worry needlessly.
I climbed in last, my paddle
solid in my grip, pushed off, and steered.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009: Quoted from: automatism


Mason jar,
Wine bottle.

Even when empty,
These containers

Are oddly heavy.
When I save

Them, I
Repurpose them:

A vase for flowers
Bought at the market,

Grown in distant
Soil; a candle

Holder; vessel
For pens or coins,

The tokens through which
A day manifests

Itself. Surely,
There is a surplus

Of glass jars,
Finely crafted,

Maybe imprinted
With measurements

Or a company’s name.
If I filled

These containers,
What would do

Them justice, what
Could I preserve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday, September 24, 2009: Ffffound! Quoted from Boing Boing

For mending to set, leave it alone
For a few days. Allow the glue to dry.
Do not test the strength of stitches
In fabric or skin. Let the bandage’s
Edges remain unnudged. We are talking

About trust here, friend. It would
Be best to carry yourself with caution,
At least for the next however many
Weeks. Discomfort is normal—expect
Some tingling, and try to be patient.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009: Notcot # 25006


The keyhole and door have long stood in
For the mystery of another’s mind:
Closed, locked, visible with limitations.

Most doors are manufactured without
Locks, or with the push-and-twist locks
Built right in to their knobs, gold thimbles

That grip a mechanism inside the frame.
Think of the scenes unleashed onscreen
Or on the page, thanks to a key placed into

A keyhole, a tiny metal doorway. Metal
Upon notched metal, and the door swings
Into a room, a portion of the world yet unseen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009: Notcot # 24962

When you were young,
Five and six years old,
Did you long to touch the machinery
Of adulthood?

A piano, a typewriter
In the basement,
Pots and pans and a calculator.

To play at knowing
How to manipulate these tools.
Until we do,

We bang pans together,
Pound fingers onto keys and buttons,

And wonder why the noises
Sound wrong, and quickly move
From one toy to another.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009: Quoted from: cansbuffer.jpg (JPEG-Grafik, 860x625 Pixel)

What Stays

A garbage bag, an overstuffed closet:
What goes? What stays?
Decisions flicker through the mind
Like bits of sunlight on unsettled water.

This can go, the broken and breaking.
This too, the useless and unwieldy.
In any process of elimination,
The first choices are the easiest.

The sifting becomes thornier
When encountering objects you have
Not seen in months, a year—
This one, a gift that was not quite right

From a person you love.
Maybe this person is gone.
An article of clothing that no longer fits,
But you wish you could wear

Again, and inhabit its confidence, charm,
Innocence, etcetera. The bag is in your hand.
It crackles, a sparking fire. Accept
This triage, subjective, uncertain.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009: Quoted from: small magazine | autumn 08 | page 12

Every day we cope with the dream of flight,
Our incapability.

We feed birds, and print them on our clothes.
We pick up feathers

Fallen on the sidewalk. Children wave at
Airplanes high overhead,

Almost celestial they are so high.
We kill insects that dare

To come hurtling toward our faces at night
On patios, if their limbs are

Long and thin, their forms alien, robotic.
We stuff our pillows

With feathers. Sometimes the stem of
A small white feather

Pokes out against your cheek, thorn-like.
You pull it out, a splinter,

A little fan, and wonder about the feather’s
Origin: did it ever fly?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009: Notcot # 24887

Someone watches the ocean,
The peak of a wave,
And thinks,
I’ll stand on that.

He buys a surfboard,
Arrives at an almost empty beach.
He envisions the flat plank
Skimming through the ocean’s surface,
Like a knife through meringue.

This is only the first day,
Before he will swallow a liter
Of the sea,
Before he is dropped into the water
Like a sugar cube into tea.

Fight the urge to look away
And revisit him in a week and half,
When mastery is beginning to settle in.
Stay with this process,
The sputtering, the bruises.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009: Quoted from Robin F. Williams-BOOOOOOOM!

Survivor from the party,
The Mylar balloon droops

Slightly below eye level.
I bat it between my hands

With moderate force,
More than you would think

Would be required to juggle
Air encased in metalized film.

I palm it like a basketball
And press the sides together

Until the silver strains,
An inflatable mirror.

Who thought to decorate
With compressed air,

Cupped in balloons, whispers
Under curled hands, into ears.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009: Quoted from: cow_birch_with_barred_owls.jpg 500×666 pixels


Birches stir the imagination.
They peel and reveal

Rough black patches
And strips, deconstructed

Bar codes and inky
Clawmarks. Slim-trunked,

Skin pale as bone,
These birches lean out

From the ground.
They are vulnerable

And weird, and so we
Make them into other

Forms: kneeling girls
With hair flung forward,

Ladders, knobby horse legs.
They bend and stretch

Under the weight of our vision,
Intangible, strong as a breeze.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009: Notcot #24766

Yesterday I saw a metal tag embedded
In the throat of a tree.
156, its elegant script pronounced.
The bark had grown around the medallion
Drawing it back into the tree like
Stacked chips swept from a poker table.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009: The SartoriaLUST at Barneys

Social Studies

Equalizers of teenagedom—
Movie stars, class photos of friends and crushes,
Sneakers, scissors, textbooks warped
As pizza boxes.

A portable closet,
Shallow wardrobe.

The locker is the first taste of storage
Away from home in this wide world,
A metal door locked with a sequence of numbers.

Between classes, lockers serve
As lookout posts, mile markers.
Surveillance comes easy
To those passing by,
Another lesson somewhere between
Chemistry and social studies.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009: fffound!--Quoted from: The Strange Attractor

An unexpected clarity has cloaked me;
All my movements all deliberate.

My hand resting along the windowsill,
My foot upon upturned earth in the garden.

Before sleep, I saw the darkness douse the room
Like watercolour seeping into paper.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009: Notcot #24680

The Carriage

No matter how gilded and tasseled, the carriage
Looks like a shell. The driver is on full display,
Telling the horse where to turn for the veiled woman
Inside. Discretion is the name of this game—whose
Home will she visit, why will she call on that man
Or woman, does she dare risk a tarnishing of her
Name. The driver knows it all, coolly flexes his wrists
To get the horses to slow, and calls it out like a toast:
Here we are, ma’am, we have arrived!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday, September 5, 2009: Quoted from: Plan59 :: Vintage Ads :: Mid-Century Modern :: Clarence Holbrook Carter, 1953

The Wood Anniversary

What did couples exchange and receive
After five years of marriage?

Wood, I’m told, is traditional.
Though the more modern option is silverware.

I will buy you neither tree nor table.
No carving or picture frame or flooring.

No fence, no log, no splint, no walking stick,
No whittling of your likeness,

No cedar chest, no teak armoire,
And certainly, no knives and forks and spoons.

Instead, I give you this:
A cross section of our daily sleeping and waking

And the small acts that give it shape—
An extended hand on our way to the car,

The ridiculous songs we sing on the way
To work, our cats, our old photo albums,

Our maddening, unflagging lack of a camera.
My parents received a piano

On their fifth. This song is what I have for us,
A seed, a tangle of roots, a nest balanced high on a branch.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday, September 03, 2009: Notcot #24628

A saw, a chisel, a rake
Dragged across the block of ice

And then a mermaid
Cascading hair blown back

By the waves cresting
Around her narrow waist

The sculptor revels in
The impending collapse

Of features he had mined
From a variety of sources

Disney eyes, the nose of
The woman he had lived with

Sophia Loren cheekbones
Imagining the figure reduced

To a melting stump, a puddle
Made him close his eyes in pleasure

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009: ffffound!--Quoted from: nl121108


Measure the eye,
Its capabilities.

Produce numbers
That describe

Its functionality.
Ask the patient

To call out the
Digits and letters

In the poster on
The plaster wall.

The patient will
Feel nervous,

I assure you.
Plastic disc on wand

Held over one
Closed lid,

Your patient’s
Heart might tremble.

It is thus with
Any test of one’s

Experience of
The world, each

Of us seeing
And interpreting

with varying

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009: ffffound, quoted from: but does it float

The Map

Over time, the map’s creases weaken.

The paper’s feeble bonds have been tested

Each time I unfolded it,

Studied the markings along its wingspan,

And collapsed it between your hands.

The creases have worn away whatever

Was printed beneath—

The boundary of a park,

The delicate, tangled grid of streets into freeways,

A river.

The map is disintegrating,

A localized continental drift.

The names of streets aren’t even right

In some areas,

So new is this landscape

Compared to its facsimile.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009: ffffound! Quoted from: Yay Hooray | Best use of Live Journal (Official)

The Negative Space

Choose the negative space,
And focus on what is filled:

Either the knobby vase,
Knuckled, architectural,

Or the faces in profile,
Twins or reflections.

The failing daylight
On the last day of August

Or the almond-shaped
Shadows of leaves

Smudging the walkway
Like thumbprints.

The endless options that fill
Our lives--channels,

Cuisines, products
Ready to solve our needs.

Can you flip this scene
And see what these obscure?

Hunger, the desire to clean,
To control our neck

Of the woods, the anxiety
That hovers above our choices.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009: Quoted from: czechoslovakian matchbox label on Flickr - Photo Sharing!


We planted the vegetable garden,
And moved

Across town, to a home with a smaller

I often pictured another family (blond

Dark-haired father, two little girls, not

My family, but just not us) kneeling or

Uncovering the carrots and onions
I want

To warn them—do not dig too far to
The left

What would they make of our pets’ bones,

That stay until they have crumbled into

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009:

Nordictrack, Gazelle, Bowflex:

These sound majestic, like Greek gods

Or names of mountain ranges.

When they arrive at her doorstep,

A heap of metal bones collapsed within

An enormous brown box,

At that moment, the dream dissolves.

She called a stranger and asked them

To send it to her, two weeks ago.

Ever since, she’d been imagining

Carving herself, as a sculptor reveals

The figure within the marble

With a sharp tool, a blade, perhaps,

Or a chisel. These machines could cut away

Everything extra that had settled

Around her body: routines of

Seatedness, rewards she bestowed

Upon herself, generously as

A parent, her persistence and

Her comfort, the fatigue and aching neck,

The muffled longings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009: Quoted from: today and tomorrow


For I have looked up at the steep, towering buildings

Forming the maze of the city,

And have been sent reeling,

Have felt the street tilt and pull away from my feet

The sheer grade of its stone face

Tipping the horizon on its axis

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009: Notcot #24352

Illuminated Manuscript

Teachers, editors, designers disrupt the sacredness
Of the typed page. Their comments grow amongst
The printed lines, crimson grapes on evenly-spaced
Vines. Arrows traverse margins like laser beams,
Lassoing disorganized words. Teachers, editors,
Designers—you must thrash about in our documents
Like a dog caught in tangled reeds, I know. I do not
Fear your decoration. Step into my words. I invite you
In, an unexpected guest. Pardon the kitchen, the mess.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009: Quoted from: Alan Lund Gard photography

The Pool

For one summer, I loved swimming.
I spent hours at the municipal pool
With my eyes open underwater.
The painted concrete at the bottom
Was smooth beneath my feet,
And the lights embedded in the walls
Shone, tiny portholes on a radiant ship.
Pallid legs and tips of feet, like felled timber
pierced my aquamarine haven here and there.
I don’t know where it went, my thirst
For water and chlorine. It passed swiftly
As a season. But the body remembers
These sensations--the desire to be submerged,
To be slowed and cooled, weightless.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009: Quoted from: Design You Trust. World's Most Provocative Social Inspiration.

As the teacher wrote on the board, microscopic bits of chalk
Rained down, larger shards that fell to the floor and snapped.

On their way out of class, the students run fingers along
The metal gutter gripping the chalkboard’s lower edge,
Touching and gathering the fine powder, the sediment
Of long division, vocabulary, instructions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009: Notcot post 24194, Tang Yau Hoong

Look out from the coast in the day, and there are barriers
For your eyes to crawl over and cling to, like barnacles.

Maybe the grey, smudged fingerprint of a mountain,
the tip of another piece of land, a blurred edge of foam, sand.

At the very least, clouds bunched and catching the wind
Like white linens pinned to a clothesline, reaching into the breeze.

But at night, looking out into the ocean of inky sky
Perforated by pinprick stars, where can your gaze settle.

Sky and star flatten into cloth, embroidered with connected
Dots, with constellations. How can I accept that the sizes

of stars denote not size, but distance, that the tangled strands
of lights unfurl like bulbs loosening, receding, drifting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009: Quoted from: Postcard pack (vol II) front cover final draft en Flickr: ¡Intercambio de fotos!

The buildings gleam,

Steel and glass fingers on a robotic hand.

The skyline says hello,

Welcome to this part of the world that we have built,

We claim this land for you.

The human urge:

Let’s put a tower here,

And build it higher and higher

So that we can see and be seen.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009: Quoted from: CH-1989-0552b.jpg (JPEG Image, 600x470 pixels)

Once captured in film and wound around reels,
photographs and songs now appear instantly,
summoned by a button.

Did you ever pry a cassette from clamped-shut
Tape player, and find skinny black ribbons
Spilling out like tinsel?

Have you slipped postage stamp-sized slides
Into a notched carousel? Tamed the flickering
End of a wild film strip?

Lifted the twig-like arm of record player
And gently set its needle to the ridged disc,
Black as repaved road?

Have you beckoned to a recorded voice,
Released portraits onto a screen? Have you?
Does anyone know how?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009: A Simple Portrait

His knuckles had never been the same
Since he touched the piano.

But he moved away from home, and didn’t
Own a piano, nor did his friends.

In his sleep, his fingers sometimes fluttered gently,
Releasing scales and rehearsing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 11, 2009: Quoted from: INSPIRATION: Tebe Interesno | FLYLYF

The Woods

Any section of forest requiring at least seven minutes
To walk through, or any clump of trees
dense enough to obscure roads.

An indefinite place, characterized by trees, leaves, dirt,
Patchy shade, solitude.
It begins where you say it does, and grows

Up around you as you walk. If there is path, you might
Follow it. I have lost an hour,
Two, beneath, inside, surrounded

By the woods. You can read the seasons in the leaves, the future
In the tangled clutch of branches. You will
Lose your way, at least once.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009: Quoted from: The longest solar eclipse of the century - The Big Picture -

The longest solar eclipse of the century
Transformed sun into crescent, then thin ring

The black disc of the moon blotted the light
A dilated pupil, a black hole

For six minutes and thirty-nine seconds
Some people watched with the help of a lens

The rest of us saw only through replicated images
Photographs of the eclipse and eclipse-watchers

With flat, black filters like 3D glasses
Shielding their eyes, mouths agape and full of shadow

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009: Quoted from: Matt Duffin—Fine Art


Dark mornings, puddles,
The squeak of rubber against elementary school linoleum

The surge of rainwater
Unleashed from buses and large cars

During rainy trudges to school
You were warned to step back from the black, shiny road

By the wavelike whoosh
A hushed crash that could drench the hems of trousers

If it weren’t for the galoshes
Those boots reversed everything—shoes over pants,

Morning dim as evening,
Water unfurling from the ground, rain upside-down

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009: Asasi on the Behance Network


Old railroad tracks are embedded in the asphalt
In the road behind your house.
The metal snakes along the road, both buried and visible,
like the blue blush of veins in your forearm.
Someday, these tracks will also be buried in an ocean
of cement, and your house, and also mine,
and only the tips of telephone poles and their wires
will peek out into this new landscape, volcanic, reconstructive.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009: On the Street...Sheila Scotter, Melbourne

The Elements

Day gloves shielded her hands from
What—from sun, perhaps, or dirt.
From the elements.
In chemistry class, I used to stare
At the periodic table--the
Sympathetic sigh of gold,
The metallic gag of silver--
And wonder, which of these
Was a threat to a woman’s hands.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009: Quoted from: Lovely Package®

Brown Bag

Brown paper bag, the plainest and most mysterious
Of all wrappings. Whatever you contain, you also
Conceal. Crinkled around bottles, you allow any
Beverage to appear in public. You hold lunch,
The meal of modesty and obligation; groceries
Fill your cavernous angles, and breathe three
Dimensions into your corners. I take you apart
To cover a textbook, or a gift, and voila! A second
Skin is born, tan, even, coarse. You’ll become
Whatever I use you for, without objection, and
Hide what’s inside from any prying eyes.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009: Quoted From: Violet Voice-stranger things (via Laura Serra)

Stranger Things

Three missing dog posters stapled

To the telephone pole on the corner.

Three dogs, all toy, stacked vertically

Like totems of cuteness and loss.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009: Quoted from:

Her wooden stool shifted its weight
along with her body—a slight lean
backward, and the stool obeyed,
a back leg buckling slightly.

She’d always been able to control
Her surroundings—she called forth
“walk” signs or green traffic lights.
Doors swung open without her touch,

crowds parted cleanly so that she might
move through them, might impart some
of her magic. Like Neptune conductingthe sea and salty air, harvesting storms.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Inspirations for the Storialist

Hello Readers,

On this site, you may be surprised to find poems referencing images not on The Sartorialist. Do not be alarmed.

While I will still draw inspiration from The Sartorialist frequently, I will be broadening my sources for images.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009: Quoted from: Williams-Sonoma

When peeled from jars and bottles,
Labels leave behind a sticky film.

Postage stamps, too, when removed
Post-licking allow their backings to remain.

I was told that bees leave their stinger
And usually their lives in their victims.

Have you felt barer, recently?
When you left, something of you stayed behind

ghostly, gossamer, near-invisible, and yes,
capable of causing fleeting pain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009: On the Street….Striped Right, Florence


The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.

-Wallace Stevens, “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm”

Red or blue ribbon is sewn into the spines
Of some books. Satin leeches that dribble
Out of the gold-edged pages, and slither
Into the pages that you close and put away.
Later, when you nudge the book from its shelf
Or stack, do the pages fall open like a gown
Unfastening, falling to the floor, revealing
The message you sent yourself: begin again here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009: My New Obsession—Cuffed Jeans

A splintered block, a pudgy plastic
Doll with fishing-line hair. Any animal

Gone threadbare from companionship.
Our ability to worship any object

Extends beyond these purchased toys
Even in youth. Who has kept a box

Of beloved items, not meaningful
For any reason other than you love

Them—a small eraser, smooth
And curiously sweet-smelling (like taffy

Or mown grass); a white plastic
Disc on a tripod of legs, taken from

A pizza box; a white feather;
A strip of aluminum foil folded into

A ring. These things—all
Small, all collected, curated—these

Amulets are an early attempt
At protecting what we, only we love.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009: On the Street…Belt Driven, Paris

A bobby pin into
A wall socket’s grin

A red marble under
The tongue, rolled against teeth

A hand slipped in
The narrow crevice behind the fridge

Our earliest testing
Of the world through an object’s and body’s limits

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009: Eva, Behind the Scenes of the Italian Elle Shoot-Paris

Bunny Ears

In class photos, boys and girls in the back row
Hold up two fingers, peace signs, and affix
Them to the students in front. Bunny ears grow,
Stubby antenna, little antlers, matchsticks,

Pointy, sliced halos sprout miraculously.
Or in a classroom, dimmed to view a projected
Image of cirrus or cumulus clouds, should anyone be
In front of the screen, backlit—it is expected

To bunny ear them. To apply your two-fingered joke
(Your first bold deviance) like two cigarettes, unsmoked.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009: On the Street….At Dior, Paris

Her look oozed fashionable malevolence:
Swamp-green nylons, ebony tusks
Dangling from her earlobes,
Black-red ink daubed on unsmiling lips.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009: On the Street…Summer Chic, Florence


After an hour
Of sitting on the pebbled wall
And watching lunch breaks come and go

I stand and stretch
The backs of my legs bear the stones’
Profiles, my skin bearing the blemishes

Of a hundred rocks
Embedded in concrete. Who is not
Impressionable. I’ve seen women’s shoulders

Dented from years
Of pressure from heavy bra straps;
Fingers permanently slimmed

At the base from a ring’s
Clenched jaw. Gravity,
Experience, encumbrance.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Storialist Turns One

For one year, every weekday I’ve updated The Storialist thanks to the evocative images on The Sartorialist.

To all of my readers: a heartfelt, resounding thank you!

My poems have transformed so much from my first post. I’m excited to see the changes in my words this year!

Monday, July 20, 2009: On the Street….Eva, Paris

White linoleum with flecks of gold, stainless
Steel draped into the sink’s belly and around
The faucet, knobs bearing temperature’s initials,
Monogrammed with h and c:

The kitchen and bathroom share materials,
Accoutrements. And why shouldn’t they.
The kitchen’s a stage. Its counters beg for hands
And elbows, for guests. An ode to process

And public procedure. The bathroom is intimate,
A shrine to steam, to things that clean and are
Clean, perfumed with citrus, bleach, pine.
The bathroom proffers secrecy,

A mirror and bright bulb for examining your skin.
Genetically linked, these rooms let you lose time.
Tiles, metal, thudding cabinets
Extroverted, introverted.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009: On the Street…Jump, Paris

They painted over the existing wallpaper
In their first house: brown wreaths,
Olive-coloured trees, pheasants strutting between
The greenery. Dark grey coated
That landscape perfectly, dripped dusk
On flora and fauna alike. In the right
Light, leaves and feathers were still legible.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 16, 2008: On the Street…Shorts & Jacket, Milan

The parking lot outside the playground
Was comprised of jagged white stones.

On your way to the swings, she bends and selects
A rock, chipped like an arrowhead

And with the surprising sheen of mica.
Your friend asks if you want to go

To the pool after school today. It’s hot,
And you both test the heat of the black swings

Before trusting them with your weight.
Your friend says that her older sister

Let her use her Sun-In (a spray
To lighten hair). She holds a thin

Rope of strands for you to examine,
Wiry, a little broken from

French braids. It looks like the yellow
Fiber optic wand that you

Waved when you were four, in the theatre
Before Sesame Street Live.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009: On the Street…Marais, Paris


When she purchased the belt at the secondhand
Shop, she touched the sixth and seventh holes
Stretched and worn by another wearer.
She tightened the belt, slipped the nickel prong
Into the second hole. Her fingers
Often grazed the other wearer’s closure.
The holes stood ajar like a propped open door.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009: On the Street….Black & White, Milano

Cross Country

The tread on her shoes wore unevenly,
The left thinning more than the right,
And always sloping outward

With the right technology, someone
Could track her, her prints of
A limping cross country skier.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009: On the Street…Paris in Bloom


Because they are ready to be held in a dim room,
To lean their lithe arms on boys they’ve known
Since elementary school, to cast aside
The denim and ponytails for twelve hours
And swath themselves in satin gowns, like bedsheets
Gathered and tucked around lovers’ torsos,

Because they are ready to be looked at, to be touched under
Supervision, girls welcome the nervous
Hands of their dates fastening ivory or red
Roses to their pulse points, hearts and wrists.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009: On the Street…Belted Jacket, Paris

In this stiff heat, all distances
are exaggerated, stretch out before you
like spun taffy.

Six blocks from your apartment,
You wonder if you can make it, your
Brain is that uncomfortable.

So you think about something
Else, checking your voice mail,
The dial tone cool as water,

Or the white rectangles stuffed
Into your mailbox, an accumulation
Of voices and numbers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009: On the Street…Milano Goes Green, Milano

The photo of me that night.
Does it resemble me?
When was it taken?
Do I set my mouth like that,
And why is my palm turned up,
Wrist flexed, as if holding an
Invisible platter of fruit?
Who are these people passing by—
A blurred, blond woman running,
A man with a white dog?
Where do they live?
Will I see them?
Did they hear the robotic snap
Or see the flash
As I did— scuttling crustacean,
lingering chandelier of pale spots?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009: On the Street…Raider Nation, Paris

The jogging stroller:
A conductor of external momentum

As a weathervane
Whirls in chaos of wind and rain

The texture of asphalt
Leached through the stroller’s frame

Saturating her palms
All day she felt the gravelly momentum

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009: At Dior….Cool Summer, Paris


Sea creatures emit light for several reasons—
To attract or repel, to communicate across

The dark ocean, to illuminate the depths
In order to pass through, or as camouflage

In the evening, our little cities glow
Their radiance blankets constellations

We mirror the overhead light and obscure it
What are we calling to or warding off

Friday, July 3, 2009

July 2, 2008: On the Street…Blue Dress, Paris

The tension between travel and home
Is embedded in all folklore:
Fairy tale woods beckon and enchant
And harbor wolves, witches.
Dorothy Gale is the patron saint of all
Who cling to home while
Sensing the magnetic pull of the road.
Even you. Think about the ache
in your chest that quivers
like a speedometer when you unfold
a map, when you watch
a train hurtle into some distant
sunset-coated place.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009: The Lido with My Workshop Students, Venice

So often, water play involves pretend drowning
And rescuing. A cool hand on your shoulder
Pushes down, and you are submerged.
Under the ocean it sounds like a band is playing
In a nearby stadium, muffled percussion and
The crowd’s collective voice. When you burst
Into the heat of the air, coughing, your friends
Are laughing, I’ll save her, and you let them
Hold you, brace you between sea and sky.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009: On the Street…Light as Light, Paris

To Go Abroad

She found it reassuring that all this,
The stone streets, the weathered, marbled buildings,
All this was here before she lived,
Before her parents or their parents lived.
And had she never seen Paris,
The city would go on without her in its mix
Of refinement and slow decay;
Only a hairline fracture of sadness would have
Formed in her,
I wish I would have.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009: On the Street…Monotone, Paris

Shadow Puppets

Turn your fringe of four fingers horizontally,
Thumb bent in. Divide this in half, by stretching

The ring finger and pinky downwards. This is
The lower jaw of your creature, be it dog,

Alligator, stork.

Allow the light to sift through your digits,
And admire the charcoal profile that emerges

On the wall or tabletop, your stage. It can
Talk, eat, breathe; it only needs an inch.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009: On the Street…After the Show, Paris

How to Handle the Loveliness of Young Men

Especially if their looks tip toward prettiness—
Hair in a halo of curls, petal-smooth cheek,
Slim, pale wrists

Feel free to dip your words in the common dialect
of loveliness: angels, flowers,

Turn toward the person to your left and remark
How beautiful he is, or use
The word striking

For here, in the shaky subway car, amongst the crowds
And murky newspapers, his
Looks are agonizing

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009: On the Street…Trench Tie, Milano

The Rules

King me, she said gleefully.
The clatter of checker on top of checker,
Her delight in playing by the rules
And winning. That’s what I remember.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 25, 2008: On the Street…Via Tortona, Milano


A fastening of innocence,
For children or the elderly.
A flap of teeth slapped against
Its fuzzy shadow. Simplicity

Defines Velcro: apart, together.
No allure of the button that ducks
Its opening without the wearer’s
Consent. Buttons get unstuck,

Noiselessly. Zippers announce their closure
Depending on the force applied—
A slide whistle. Metallic, secure,
Zippers catch fabric, are pried

Apart and broken, permanently.
Velcro is affixed to itself like a Band-aid.
By the time it weakens and grips loosely,
The clothing has been outgrown or mislaid.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009: On the Street…Nicole, Berlin

What’s Between

There are two little girls on the sidewalk.
They are tearing at what’s between
The squares of cement. Their fists
Clamp bouquets of grass, shredded weeds,
The occasional limp clover or dandelion.
Somewhere, a lawn is being mowed.
A plane dawdles overhead, the size of a dragonfly.
Their drones are indistinguishable.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009: On the Street….Simone at Sunset, Florence

Index finger, named for its ability
To peruse, to slink amongst rows of type
As a cat pads through a flowerbed.
Also known as the pointer finger, it can
Indicate a thief, a suitable area
For a picnic, a direction in which to walk
Or drive. Also, trigger finger
For its skill in recoiling, hooking and pulling.
It can represent the number one
Or victory when raised alone.
When wagged from side to side, windshield
Wiper-like, it shames, prevents.
With it raised against your closed lips,
You might be mistaken for a stern librarian
Extinguishing noise like a snuffer blots
A flame. But I know your index finger,
Braced against your mouth is a tool for thought,
An instrument for recalling, locating.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009: On the Street…Stripes & Squares, Florence

In the theatre, before Giselle,
the girl stares up at the heavy chandelier,
wonders, aghast, what if it fell,
if she stood and ran, would she slip on her souvenir

program, would she be crushed against
the doors leading to the lobby, between
tuxedos, satin gowns, fur, condensed,
trapped, coins in a slot machine.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009: On the Street…The High School Student, Florence

Cruising along 670 West in my first car,
My parents’ maroon Pontiac that we called “the new
Car” in ’92, I’m wondering where
I’ll live. Maybe on the East Coast, Maine,
Perhaps (I’d researched that state in fifth grade,
State bird: the chickadee). I’m seventeen,
It’s spring, and all decisions resonate
With magnitude, maybe for the first time, at least
In my understanding. The Wonder Bread factory
Is dumping its sweet, dusty smell all over
The highway like pheromones, pollen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday June 17, 2009: On the Street…Man Stripe, Florence

Basic human locomotion is a machine
That operates best without thinking, deliberation.
The moment you think, toe, foot, ankle, knee
You’ll stumble, I know that I have.
Knee into asphalt, wrist striking pavement,
A tumble within my body divides me into shapes,
Turns me into Colorforms, a Picasso.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009: On the Street…Floral Beauty, Governor’s Island


We walked through the woods, me thinking about the difference
Between the words forest and woods, you talking about the emu
Feather you found on that farm in college.

At first, I thought it was a trampled fern, and when I picked it up
And shook off the dust, I saw it was a dark feather. Tan and

Brown, like a reed. The sun made leopard print of our arms,

And I said If we lived in the forest, we’d have to evolve, our skin
Might grow spots
. We were quiet for a while after that, not in
Any meaningful way, just a space

That sprung up in our talking like the thick beams of light that
Sometimes pierce the dense woods, like someone used a
Hole-puncher on the tangled foliage overhead.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009: On the Street…Seventh Ave. & 23rd St, NYC


So much of city life depends upon
An ability to overlook,

To look past the unmentionables:
The tarry spots of gum

On the cement, so near to one’s toes;
Sirens and yelping brakes,

Two versions of mechanical weeping;
A man curled like a caterpillar

In his sleeping bag, coat over garbage
For a pillow; the near

Death experiences of cyclists at which
They barely flinch.

Learn to distance yourself with, say,
A sweetened coffee

That you swirl in your hand like a cocktail,
An iPod to redesignate

Background noise, and look out on all of it
Your kingdom, your village.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009: On the Street…The Starlet, Governor’s Island

After an hour in the sun, her freckles bloomed,
Miniature beige and brown blossoms across her arm,
Shoulder, bridge of the nose. I think I’m burnt,
She sighed, fanning herself with an unpaid parking ticket.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009: On the Street…The Sheltering Sky, Governor’s Island

Our Town

Summer evenings, our town transformed into an Edward Hopper
Landscape, veiled with stillness and failing yellow sun.
Shadows spilled from suburban architecture like gasoline,
Slippery, iridescent. Girls propped themselves
Against window ledges, porch railings, the tenuous boundaries
That separate inside from out. Longing sprawled everywhere
In those days, in my recollection of those days.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009: On the Street…Sunday in the Park, Governor’s Island


A plaque in the middle of the park
Tells us how the cottage-sized boulder got there,
In the center of a flat field, bordered
On three sides by black-green trees.
A glacier had consumed the rock
And dragged it along the earth during
Its descent. The glacier’s remains,
Its bones, its boulder still stands,
Shivering in the sun, a vulnerable creature
Stripped of shelter or shell.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009: On the Street…S. Portland Street, Brooklyn

At five thirty on a Wednesday night, the look on all
Our faces signifies concentration.
We match. We look related with our furrowed
Brows, clamped mouths. I walk six blocks
To the bus, clenching my jaw all the while,
And wilt into the vinyl seat, my focus
Dispersing into the air like scattered light.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009: On the Street….Blue Byrne, Brooklyn

How to Remove a Spider Web

You’ll need a broom handle, or plastic ruler—
Something to function as an extension of your arm.
Do not, under any circumstances, use your fingers.
The web will cling and stick, and even after soap
And terrycloth, even the next day, your fingertips
Feel glazed and gummy, and you won’t remember
Why. In the same way that worry can approach
And creep over your heart, dragging a net of malaise
With no discernable origin or pattern.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009: On the Street….Moving Images, NYC

The rules of traffic are arbitrary,
And arbitrated by machines, lines, and lamps.
I wince at the cyclist hurtling along the narrow channel
Between wheezing, lurching vehicles.
When you enter your car, you become it.
That’s how we function on a road crammed full
Of metal and glass moving as if of its own volition.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009: On the Street…Fort Greene, Brooklyn


A broken wristwatch becomes a bracelet.
I prefer it that way,

For numbers to become decorations,
Illustrations, squiggles.

When time’s arms stretched and yawned
From a sundial's center,

How long did it take for someone to shudder
At the lateness of

The hour, the momentum and strength of shadows
Running the length of their leashes.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009: On the Street…Print Dress, Sydney


You showed me your grandmother’s ring—
A poison ring, you called it—that could hold a capsule
Of cyanide in it. But your grandmother used it
To hold a seed pearl from the strand that snapped
On her honeymoon. She’d knelt on the blue carpet
Of the hotel in Cape Cod, praying it wasn’t an omen,
Plucking the ashen beads from the navy fiber,
Cupping them in her palm (against her lifeline)
like rainwater, miniature hail, fine snow.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 30, 2008: On the Street…English Rose of Brooklyn, London

For those of you who haven’t seen Cabaret

Out of context, the song Cabaret is all
Show biz and glitter, stage lights and brass. Dolled
Up like a clown, menacing and manic.
Its swagger lets us forget: it’s a gigantic
Performance. Listen to this: “From cradle to tomb
Isn’t that long a stay.” She’s consumed
By hedonism, and urging us to become
Performers—to drink, to dance, to smile, old chum.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009: On the Street…Write On!, Milano

Balcony and fire escape are equally romantic:
One a deck for declaring devotion,
The other a ladder for fleeing flame
Or lover. Each is an eye fringed with
Wrought iron, an escape route, a treacherous
Way to climb back in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009: On the Street….The Dancer, Melbourne

A sleeve, a cuff, a collar or cut neckline:
Edges, limits, ending punctuation:
A stop, a pause, the expectation

That we must cover ourselves, yes,
But that the way the garments end
Or begin draws the eye; we see

The shape of apparel because
It allows us to divide body parts
Into parts: hems, seams, darts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009: On the Street….Shark Pants, Sydney

Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear,
And he shows them pearly white.

Through song and story, teeth transform,
Stand in for jewelry, for instruments of power.
A snarl reveals a flash of ivory incisors,
A threat, weaponry. In the mouth, teeth
Shine like baubles or knives, attract or repel.
But extracted from the jaw, lying helplessly
In boxes like pebbles, teeth summon visions
Of shattered bones, brittle calcium cousins.
And bones, we know, mean both growth
And decay, buried in flesh and earth.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009: On the Street….Clinton St., Lower East Side

When did I, or you, last call handwriting “penmanship”?
Inkwells affixed to desks have been wrenched off,
Melted into ashtrays or windshields. Cursive squirms. My print
Is wobbly and childish. The certainty of type
Leaps from page to eye. Its neat stasis, steady lines
Invite us in, hold our hands, and let us stare.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009: On the Street….Vintage in Black & Red, Sydney


Hemingway’s publisher suggested The Sun Also Rises
As a title. A Biblical nod, classical,
Heavy as boulders. The original title, Fiesta, survives
Overseas, abroad. So why the party for Europe,
(ironic but still a party) and the cumbersome sentence
Here? The sun also rises, it’s true,
Yes, but is hope the subtext? It sounds weary, defeated,
As in the sun goes up and down and up
Again and again, inevitably, additionally.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009: On the Street….Color Steps, Lower East Side

The allure of purchased coffee is this:
Someone’s hands prepared it according to your

Desires. Syrups drool into
Your cardboard cup—caramel, orange,

Hazelnut. Before I’d tasted
A hazelnut, I’d sipped its facsimile

Steeped in espresso. Someone’s eyes
Inevitably roll when the barista says expresso.

So what? And isn’t it true, that buying
Coffee is all about speed, efficiency,

Routine. Some old guys discussed
All this before: that being in time is an issue

For us humans. Coffee is
A prescription, slid across a counter, scalding.

Pleasure in fragrance, condiments,
Heat: It’s one way of slowing down.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009: On the Street….Sixth Ave., NYC

Our tastebuds learn to love strange textures
Gradually. The chilled formlessness of tomato,
For instance. Its ooze made me cringe. How easily
It yielded to the tooth, to my teeth.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.