Spring 2010

Volume 5, Issue 1



Schiller's Skulls

This poem originated partly in response to a New York Times article discussing some confusion resulting from the misidentification of skeletal materials in the Schiller family burial grounds, resulting in the uncertainty now over which remains, if any, were actually the poet's. The article itself was served up against a backdrop of ongoing natural and political disaster, to which I allude later in the poem.


Fleeing Angles

Decades buzz, while we, in the matter

of Schiller's skulls,

imagine this: one poet, himself, and generations,

like neutrinos flickering,

a silvery and autobahning field, grace-noting,

as they did then, circulating,

as they did then, through the park, and our own

and sometimes German quarter,

through that park where I snapped curve-balls,

mimicked heat, and

cooled myself in the heart-shaped Works Projects

Depression pool, where,

decades earlier, my old man swam and ( maybe )

courted, spinning

his own first German poems, before contracting

with the Big Leagues,

and wondering, no less than I, about the two stone

German buddies at one entrance,

about that changeable and German neighborhood,

with its sausage makers,

parishes, and that city's Nationals, later, inspiring

a slow short kid

to practice bankshots, while highschools closed

for good, teams moved, and

the city's share-inspired skulls haunted kids

for decades, even to this

crow's call, to this screw-tearing bluest slice

through green, this jay-playing,

swift and stuttering, chasing a crow off

with its mischief, assuming

themselves their parts, pursuing

and fleeing angles,

while this oldest news, these


of Schiller's skulls




Not One But All

Clean up / out! The winds, obsessed, as we,

by their own varyings and humors,

report, by their own misfirings, on this morning's

tight-lipped ribbon corps,

on the junta's game restraint and piracies, on that

convulsed, storm-wary

and guardian rhetoric, even as leaves come back,

carried off through lifetimes,

enduring, as they may, that darkest ebb

and congress, these

theatrical say and sky-shaking forces, carrying on,

through all the muted

exercise. Comes this tidiness, none too soon,

and this commingling

hush, as that finger lowered from spirit-haunted lips

tours the rim he's sipped

by this much from wine level, setting the tone

for days ahead, for weeks ahead,

of business overdue, for this welcoming, nonetheless,

announcements yes,

and policies, let run like mal-ware in the background.

And, as for our patience,

being here, the more the shore birds hear of it,

there's just so much to tell. And,

in the matter of Schiller's skulls, so much, not one

but all of them, that

we must marvel the combinings, follow their own

fine workings home

to certain promises, to show how unruly tones

behave as asked

or as they have to, with this good light for now,

and these flowers

we celebrate, inflecting, transplanted from

black plastic to ceramics,

raised each, as light, each pinch of light

pronouncing green, glowing,

into summer yes, and these ensemble

poems I've yet to read

in my own language, this beer, for

the old man say, and

for what else I might discover,

revealed, as

it were, in theirs, and

in our own

first interest.


Mood Swings


In Our Amusement

So much for field tactics, field-house strategies,

spent in reference

and supposing, on tidings we might have thought

to get away with, adding


value, and agreeing, in our dull amusement,

to remember, and,

in our amusement, tell, the look of the summer

dresses say,

with the light worn through, the feel of light

warmed stones,

where the children sit, while their sitters

dream lifetimes


beyond the sandwiches and colas,


so predestined girlfriends


almost feelfeel




Thistles and Balm

Thistles and balm, I think, coffee and secrets

still, for which

we might seem responsible, in our astonishment

or reverence, only

a week or so from the first classes, but, since one of us

heard her then,

any of us might have, and known enough to wonder

what that answered,

modeled in time, in stone, when choices of slides

and swings preoccupied,

the box-slatted green sky-rides, with their dropped

restraints, to hold

the children in, or the long-chained slabs kids

swore kids' friends

empowered across the top swing bars,

then down

again, to earth more



The Emphatics

How alone he'd felt that Tuesday and mid-summer!

But briefly, as that was,

how stenographic, faithful in transcription, to her words,

each, as the summer found itself,

with the aches, dispiritings, and always ( it seemed )

the rain-bearing appraisals,

its courtings, if you will, embracing each dumb thing deep,

and deeper then than gospel,

the pace of the moment, of the exhausting inquiry

/ improvisations,

the ways of telling it, to this afternoon, defined by clouds,

or by this gunfire

from the strip-mine where sons loiter, suiting their lines

and likes to holiday, their

portable / potable indulgence, until there are tidings,

crow-chatter, mowings

everywhere, smiles and smiles say, through windier

though unresponding green,

and these hard-bound poems, scribbles advanced

by the same laughter

from the girls' table at McChesney, from their

teeterings and trampolines,

with nights ahead of them, scheduled

for the housebands,

nurtured, like themselves, by

blocks around

or The Emphatics.


Leaf and Luxury

If parallel worlds / planets turn advisors, eager

to console / advise,

what's there to tell, but these imponderables maybe,

comic or sonic

parables, when it's consciousness or it's perception

we're to favor, oracles

to light the shade and light we must inhabit, while

the historians, the moods adjust

we learn to fit or render as permissions, so that

it's difficult to tell, as

you stretch to sip and set the cup down after it,

desiring -- is it salt

/ self-healing, a summer cold to go its own way --

to sip from this cup again,

pushing yourself to stand and slip indoors

from summer reading,

as undervalued yet, as earth and leaf

and luxury, with

nothing to say, as good as that,

and this

mid-sixties chill, after




French Doors

You push yourself to stand, steady, before

you step in

and surprise her, with an extravagance maybe,


by the excited greens you left behind, and

by her interest,

by the morning as it is, with nothing yourself

to add

to such intentions and pawed bindings, to


begun by incidents, but only to host, believe,

even these sirens

and this unclever bat your confirmations,

or this light through

the french doors, all the local hurry

turning a day

amphibian, and bringing the rain

along, the sun

by mid-afternoon, for

a day's



Close Scale

As if the planets could have known, teasing

your dreams

toward waking hourly, or the rain now, puddling

the places

where the raccoon clawed below the feeder,

you factor the same grey light,

the stillness yet, from dark folds, goodness knows,

finger the breeze

and now this ten-thirty lightning. Even this page,

joined phrase by sentence,

phrase by sentence, to the post-rising morning

and conditions,

reminds you after all, begun with excited green,

with these tickings behind,

or this ice, dropping in the maker, the sounds

of your own fears, and

tears, as you suspect, though merely the tears

as these have been

through generations, and so, as it is,

the eloquence,

as unestablished yet, and yet to tell

and to rely on, this wise joy

say, in green predominant,


atmospherics, at




Tricked Up

Here then this poem, closer than memory

to misunderstanding

I suppose, seeing through families, through

moods to initiations,

to this poem I think I could not have

done without,

this carnival, gemutlicheit, this greening

and later light,

shelaleh rage, and yes, the exhilaration

seen through,

to this joy, you could say, seen


and all tricked up, if just

to surprise us,

after all, by such



Five Dry Days

A celebration of the details



Except for some few who take the ends

of Daylight Saving personally,

the ways deer do, bow-season, seriously,

and the sci-fi weaponry to follow,

except this raccoon, bearing, dragging

his sorry self in nine-thirty light

up the west going median heading east,

there's no assumption

of concern, and nothing the facebook poetry,

the casual weather, or the casual

business of the planet, has the will for,

leaving this moon we wager on, but

hardly enough we think, to affect, foreshorten

the DC dooms, but, by our wishing,

wagering, sufficient to conversion, a new

OS installed, and adjustments

to consider, Classic done, and our hallway

turning out, our New England schoolwork,

and black and white black-framed conversions

sharing space, with

the white wedged tapers in black holders

the black vases, white walls complement,

the black dala horse, and, at the halls end

on the blonde shelving, above

the bright cherry flooring just installed,

the rust-washed, rust-speckled

vase and brass-topped, glass-doored

glass-walled storm-lantern, staged,

with the tall ships, the clock works

displayed beneath beams

pitched to meet, to center the lives

meeting then, in this

brick-hearthed, and, yes,


family room.


In Order to Serve

In order to serve what urgencies, what comforts

weekends generate, what whims

suffered through, enjoyed through their reporting,

will the Shakespeare, shopping, supper out

engender, or evenings at home by nine or so, to

rearrange, redecorate, never more mutual,

more moved, Elizabeth, by the love of God, more

genuine, these five dry days, with harvests

setting in around Ohio, and such green come again,

sharing some casual course toward Halloween,

toward All Saints, Souls, and toward Thanksgiving,

quarter's end, refreshed by the breakfast

following good dreaming, with last night's scallops,

fire-grilled, and the spinach-flecked

shrimp-topped, lobster-inflected ravioli, put to

this second use, with Mid-October

as it is, and with tomatoes still, tea-roses prettying

the front yard, putting on tones to suit

inspired retirements, such faces, you could say,

as resurrection, ritual, as smiles

adapt, to thank you Lord, to thank you, love, with

the peppers still, zucchini flourishing, and

groves, distinctly thinned, ribboned with haze

another Monday, but turning out, at

half-past nine, as even our white walls, shelf,

daylight at play on the ghost candles

wedged into dark holders, as if to fathom,

factor policies, the moods of State,

or another week's intentions, shared

by, divvied among

the most political, declared

in the home-run



Made Sensible

Let these black frames promise much,

heirlooms and purchases

keeping family, and family much, light sleep

and driving much,

for some other Monday's turn on promises,

bright so the deer retreat

from breakfasting, while the birds keep watch,

sharp eyed, from

the sack-tricked limbs and the state fences,

leaving this heart its drive,

this drive's unearned complaining, this tour

through stones

and libraries, with hours to trace the weekend

back, to hours with you,

Elizabeth, hanging the pastel cabinet,

a yellow to score,

to match, set off the wainscot-high yellow

and brilliant white above,

a French kitchen, if you will, made

sensible in Sebring,

with the limoge, the Bavarian pieces

brought, borne

through by kin so long, long


in their silence.


Back to Top
Review Home


© 2010 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture