Wednesday, November 23, 1994

Monochromatic Rainbow

Azure bays
Vermilion skies
Verdant grasses

Oh vivid Earth,
Oh dull me!


Monday, July 11, 1994

Ode to the "O"

Ode to the "O"

O the loneliness of the lone O.
Solitary and firm
like the last outpost guard,
waiting for more letters or words
to swarm across the page.

O, the profound depths
of your semantic singularity,
producing short shocked sighs
and expiating exhalations.
Or perhaps strings of your brethren
join to commiserate angst ridden existences.

O egglike symbol of our life.
Matriarch who engenders a family
of little swirly roundlings
Following your red letter lead.

O, in your artfulness,
like the open eye of the muses'
inspirational wink:
Shakespeare's dramatic
wooden playground O,
Seurat's petite colorful
pastel building block o.

O ubiquitous nothingness.
Golden sealer of marriages
and faucets.
Your cornerless presence
a signature of poetry
turned endlessly in upon itself.

O, cornerstone of the poet's heart.
Circumscribing the silent space,
emphasizing the emptiness,
preparing the way for a multitude
of equally circular stanzas.


Friday, July 8, 1994

I Love You Baby

I Love You Baby

I love you baby, but I just can’t smile.
I’ve given away all my smiles,
Back in the days of wonder and impatience
When we used our bodies like greasy brillo pads,
Scouring the world.

Our moonbeams and stardust have turned
To silence and lint.
Our promises seem meaningless now
That I can’t remember our faces' smiles.
Until we have more than smudged words and fading memories,
I can only rejoice in the palm of my hand.
And wait.


Monday, June 6, 1994

Beat The Time

Beat The Time

Two warm half naked silhouettes sway softly
Circumscribed by a small circle of time
Confined by its shortness.
Background lines of music,
Unaware of the two now tightly clung bodies
Feverishly trying to melt into each other and the rhythm
To forget that tomorrow will part them neither friends nor lovers
Just a helpless memory and fervent hope of tomorrow —a year,
Twist and veil the hour.
Frantically, with neither shame nor regret,
They hold each other close through the warm wetness of their mouths
As their bodies, try to beat the time.


Tuesday, May 17, 1994

Aveenu Malkenu

Aveenu Malkenu

Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend.
Unconditional is your love;
unsoundable your kindness.
For all you have done, peace be to you.

Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend,
like a warrior of peace
yours is a tree of life,
and happy those who hold fast to it.
Proudly you stand in fertile soil.
Humble roots firmly planted,
trunk gently bending in the winds of change
and branches reaching,
you point the way towards the stars.
Your noble stance suggests an ideal
balance between earth and sky.
You connect grounds of reason and stability
to space of dreams and passion.
If ecologists could see into the core of being
and read there a story of life
recorded in rings of growth,
they would find fifty-six concentric chapters,
tracing most humble beginnings
to fruitful present.

Guide and vessel in unsure waters,
you are my navigating hand.
The parted waters
and the dry land.
You have set the example,
matching form and essence
word and deed.
O sculptor of flesh and blood,
O companion of the heart:

Had you brought me into the promised land
but not consecrated a temple of security, Dayenu.
Had you blanketed me in warmth
but not sent me through the gates of Wright, Dayenu.
Had you given me an education
but abandoned hope after Mother's passing, Dayenu.
Had you continued living
but not continued loving, Dayenu
Had you given of yourself
but not believed in the future, Dayenu.
Had you encouraged my dreams
but not supported me in failure, Dayenu.
Had you bedded my fears
but not pushed me to excel, Dayenu.
Had you wanted the best
but not cared how I obtained it, Dayenu.
For this legacy and all you have done, Dayenu.

Once more cradle my hand in yours,
and let us return to the chosen asylum,
that pebble laden pond of our youth.
There, our small saucers of rock
carefully chosen for flight
shall continue skipping, perhaps
never letting the water catch
and swallow them down.

Let us return again
to that bed-time fantasia,
that fabulous never-never-land of imagination
Let me run to you once more
and climb your trunk
and swing from your branches
and eat of your fruit
and dream in the shade of your gaze
like so many times before
just before slipping into the land of nod.
Aveenu Malkenu, more father more friend
let not my seed fall far
from your giving tree.

Do not let us go apart.
Let not the bridge we form,
a crossing of hands and souls
tumble to dust.
What if memory should not be enough
to guard your voice's smiles,
your eyes' laughter,
your brow's bloom
and the imprint of your warm embrace.
All of you that is dear to me,
Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend.

Neither builder nor blacksmith
I would like to make you a poem
that isn't one.
Words fall heavily from my hands
blunt unfaithful tools
betraying meaning.
Nor constructor I
stacking beauty
stone by stone,
word by word
in aspiring form.

I fear slipping into Babel,
and losing you in a labyrinth of lines
from which these Daedalus thoughts might not escape.
I am an architect without plan
building structures of word,
without rhyme or reason.

Dare I, Dear I
Continue to offer
these words of a feather,
flocking across pages of blue
too hollow to ring true.
Carrier pigeons,
bearing messages from the heart
in a pitter-patter vocabulary.
A coded language,
filling in the flat lines
with a syncopated pulse for you;
it's message barely audible,
and rarely understood.

Lay aside your science,
it won't help you decipher
this cardiogram I send.
Instead, close your eyes,
press your ear to the page
and listen
to the two beat measures take flight.
Let them course directly to your veins;
from my heart to yours
a glad gift, a transfusion of love
for all you have done
Aveenu Malkenu, my father my friend,
peace be to you.


Thursday, May 12, 1994

CWA Paean

I walk slowly through the front gates and up the road that encircles the campus. For fourteen years I knew no other world than that encompassed by this not quite circular strip of pavement; it was the horizon of my entire universe, the known and knowable world.

As I look around and back through the past, I realize that at one time or another during those fourteen years I explored every corner, every nook and cranny of this campus. Though now empty and quiet, in my mind it is filled with the faces, voices and smells of the past. The playground still rings with savage shouts of triumph from a time when a slide was a dark mountain to be scaled, and a sandbox could contain an army of orcs. The fields, with their heady smell of fresh-cut grass, or slick with rain, seem filled with countless soccer balls from recess pick-up games, to summer soccer with Gil, to a state championship hanging in the balance of a shoot-out.

Walking past ‘the bubble’ gym, now the dome, my stomach unconsciously tightens as I remember the long process of weighing-in and waiting to step on the matt for a week-end wrestling tournament or weeknight meet. A light breeze over the gravel parking lot, gives me the same puff of freedom and invincibility that came with having a car, but also the bitter-sweet chill of taking refuge from middle school dances overcast by the salty tears of unfulfilled desire and heartbreak.

With each familiar step I tread, the nostalgic reverie drowns me deeper and deeper. Walking amidst these shadowy memories, I feel somehow lost, caught between student and alumni and comfortable with neither one.

I have seen the sun rise on the Charles Wright campus, and I have seen it set. I have passed weekdays and weekends here. I have stood at the top of its ranks and received its highest honors, and I have knelt and dug in its soil. Over fourteen years I have seen brothers, teachers, headmasters, friends and classes fill and empty the halls of Charles Wright Academy, and now I realize that I have come and gone as well. And as I scratch at my name engraved upon its steps, the steps our class helped to rebuild, I can only hope that one day I may return to Charles Wright all that it has given me.


Monday, April 4, 1994

An Early Marriage

Does it still count if you got married in the third grade, and have never been formally divorced? I ask this because I was married to Ashley Orth during recess one morning in the fall of the third grade. At the beginning of fourth grade Ashley left Charles Wright to go to a public school, and I haven't seen her since.

Even though the whole affair didn't last more than two weeks, I remember the wedding quite clearly. I remember how after the wedding I kissed the bride then ran away to play soccer, like going off to war. Soon after, the bell rang and we all went in for Math -so much for a honeymoon.

The day after the wedding, I gave Ashley the gold plated necklace with a lapis lazuli pendant that I had proudly bought for ten dollars in the J.C. Penney's jewelry department. For this gift she gave me a kiss on the cheek behind the blocks. Maybe if I had bought the fourteen karat gold necklace I would have gotten a kiss on the lips, but who knows?

It is with a pang of regret that I recall those first few days following the marriage. Each day we sat next to each other at our little desk. Sitting there in conjugal joy consecrating Mrs. Munn's spelling class. And each day Ashley drew a pie graph with a section for both me and my best friend Brian Stern. Ashley would explain how the size of each piece represented how much she liked us. Each day I watched as my piece of pie grew smaller and smaller, and Brian's grew larger. Finally, according to the chart, Ashley liked Brian more than me; after that day Ashley and I no longer sat at the same desk during spelling class.

What still bothers me is this: we were never formally divorced. Our marriage was quite official of course, complete with bible ceremony, witnesses, and preacher. Trevor wasn’t a real preacher I guess, but he was the most religious guy we knew. Well, he brought a bible to school sometimes and could name some of the books in it. As I remember his sermon was short and to the point. He said, “Girls have cooties,” advice which in retrospect may not be so bad. I guess the fact that Ashley kissed my best friend behind the blocks just two weeks after our marriage would be considered the same as a divorce.

If I remember correctly she went on to break Brian’s heart too, and didn’t stop until she had dated all the non-drooling guys in our class. But I was the first, and that means something, right? In fifth grade, several of us made a pact not to date Ashley anymore. We all agreed that she had to be stopped. A week later, Aaron Gonter had broken down and secretly started dating her, though I don't think he lasted more than a few days before getting dumped. I suppose a nine-year-old’s resolve is as fragile as his heart.

I guess I found some closure to this chapter of my childhood when many years later Ashley came back to Charles Wright after having left to go to public school in the 6th grade. It was senior year, I was feeling very confident about life and Ashley had grown into a very kind and sweet young woman--nothing like the serial heart-breaker I had once known. Anyway, it’s not like I wanted to marry her or anything, I had already done that in third grade. I just wanted to take her out on a date... As it turned out, not much came of the date. It was cordial, but it was clear that we had, what’s the expression? Grown apart. The spell had been broken, and next year we would both go off to different colleges and follow our own paths. I no longer worry that we have never officially gotten divorced. Hey, Washington’s a no fault state, so nobody’s to blame, right?


Friday, March 25, 1994


In first grade I was dubbed, motor-mouth, and by third grade I was the acknowledged class clown. I, like everyone else, craved attention and respect, but being the youngest of two brothers and also very short (vertically challenged to use the vernacular) I learned that it was difficult to get attention academically, athletically, and/or by miss-behaving because someone was always one step ahead of me. Namely my two brothers. I quickly learned though that I could get attention by being silly and making people laugh with or at me.

I became an attention addict; making jokes in the middle of class and having everybody’s eyes focused on me relieved my fix. They gave me the attention and feedback I needed. Of course I still got the best marks, which is the one thing that saved me from getting any of those self-fulfilling prophecies which teachers from time to time will on unsuspecting young school children. In fact, I had quite a good reputation during elementary school aside from my "tendencies towards in class verbal self-indulgences." Teachers basically liked me because I was smart; and I had friends, because I was funny, played sports at recess and didn’t pick my nose or puke too often.

I guess I never really lost that childhood zeal for being center stage, because in sixth grade I began acting in operettas at the Tacoma Pantages theatre. That first year I tried out and got a part in The Gypsy Baron. I played a little Gypsy street urchin who ran around getting into trouble. I even had a few lines. The excitement and sense of camaraderie behind the stage amongst 'the cast' was heady, and I fell in love with the idea that I would become an actor when I grew up. So the next year I tried out again for a part in The Merry Widow. I ended up playing a cute little boy of eight or ten, which by the way is not easy to cope with for a short pudgy insecure seventh grader of twelve-and-a-half or thirteen. I didn’t have any lines, but my main scene was jumping into the arms of a busty merry widow with whom I was quite enamored.

My acting career dreams were shattered in eighth grade though, when I was relegated to the measly part of a rabbit in The Magical Flute (the irony inherent in this choice of parts will not be missed by the francophiles as I suspect the director must have been himself). Needless to say, I was devastated. I decided to never return to ‘the Theatre’. I realized my parts were increasingly getting worse, first I had been a boy with lines, then one without, and finally I was just an animal who followed around a dumb flute. I just knew that if I tried out again in ninth grade I would be cast as a table or something. So that was the end of my acting career, I was burnt out after three brief years on stage at the ripe young age of thirteen.


Sunday, January 23, 1994

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

A lunar eclipse is a misnomer.
I know, I saw one
last night before bed.
Imagine a sort of un-magic trick.
I, planted in the courtyard
assisted the spectacle,
yet there was no slight of hand in sight.
Perhaps it's the moon who is had,
and we on earth the accomplices.

Come one, come all
and don't be late,
for once a century
with the aid of the eclipsing earth
the moon succeeds in fooling us all.

Outside the authoritative presence of the sun
she shines brighter than ever.
Normally flat facial reflection
moon is transformed before the world,
into a luminous and independent orb.
Chinese lamp of my memory
full of hope and honey.

Child that I was
and will try to remain,
I remember playing trompe l'oeil.
Game of light and imagination.
Squinting through chopsticks
to trap the silhouetted lamps
little retinal planets
simulacre prefigurations
a lunar eclipse suspended
in a dimly lit Chinese restaurant.

Tonight with my chopstick fingers
I tried to possess the moon
and put it in my pocket,
but she escapes my grasp.

The moon is not white
she is yellow, out of modesty
veiling herself by light of day.
The earth, a jealous lover
hides her in his shadow,
sole spectator to the metamorphic strip-tease.

And the sun, eternal voyeur,
throws its projector light
on the moon half undressed.
The surface blushes orange,
the sea of tranquility blusters.
The moon isn't trying to be a star,
she simply wants to prove her existence.
A recurring rite of passage.

Shortly after, the curtain of light
falls back over the scene.
The monologue now finished,
the moon regains her poise
leaving us with the memory
of a flash that will wait
eons for another chance
to unveil itself for those
who are ready to pay attention.