Featured Work Archive
Apologies - am revising many of these over time, and moving new versions to the Submit boards here at PC, or https://twitter.com/riordato, or https://www.facebook.com/tom.riordan.378, a private site at https://www.facebook.com/groups/811479732227259/, or the trashcan - in some cases, stranding your Reply without a subject poem. Sorry...
Lovers of poetry
go rough on poems
—averse to fluff.
Thoughts on email from a friend far away.
He sits down each evening
regular as clockwork.
Sixteen hundred to be precise;
reads his email.
Dirty jokes from a brother,
admonishments from his mother.
Happy pictures of a well-groomed garden
From a well-meaning wife.
Within a portable aluminum cocoon
he still hears random gun shots.
At night, instead of children
He tucks men in bed.
I like this idea of a journalese, so here's my stuff that just didn't make the cut.
I miss the mountains, and
there once was a guy from Missouri,
who had to get out in a hurry,
but then in the end
he found his best friend
had been sentenced to death by a jury.
I wish I could tell them
that I never wanted to be
money making hand over
fist into the cold pot
that sits on top of
Tap Tap Tap.
Me Me Me.
Tap Tap Tap
Me Me Me
and after I
will not recognize
who I be be be.
don't don't don't
read read read
But if it happens
that you do
Life so far today has been Carlos Santana and too much Iran. Click to channel nine, Tom Cruise doesn't seem too nervous about the Paramount plunge. How long does real cream last? I think I bought this small carton two weeks back.
Should I wear the purple v-neck or the pin stripe cream and black top with that cute bow at the waist? Polyester....which has more of what bakes flesh?
The v-neck weighs in at less than ten percent. Gotta live cool in my Global
Warming World. How do I do August? I say, "Self, Dallas has it worse."
Work now includes a new girl who llikes to talk loud and long in the car pool.
Yesterday I learned the downfalls of her new cell phone plan. I puncuated the rant with head nods and uh hahs... and concluded that it will be harder to find
poetry on Highway 27.
cover by Tomm Scalera of Graphic Angels Design
Below in this journal are the first drafts of the poems. Most recent drafts of the book length poem can be downloaded at http://poetrycircle.com/forum/resources/the-muses-advisory.5/
I stood for hours
watching the seep
the trickle down drain
to hear you move above
and I was drunk for days
but that was once -
and once is a very long word
that’s not forgotten
that you should think
the world is flat by means
of arrogance and never give
birth to voyage unslurred
I busy myself pantried
stock shelves rearranged
and mummer the proper response
in mourning a greet
there’ll be no birds today
no sense of scavenge as
even the carp feeds bottomed
On Monday the air in at my open window came in uninvited
and at such a pace: not a run, not a skip, but with the sweep
of a ballroom diva gliding a fast fox-trot. I had no choice
but to name her Joyce.
Tuesday, the gauze curtains hung limp until sunset when this air
(I’m sure it was German) blurted through in know-it-all gusts,
rocking a crockery stringer of fish to clunk like terra cotta bells,
chipping a maroon fin. I named her Bertha.
Wednesday brought Anna who curled my bedsheets up
like the back of a slumbering cat. And Thursday, Phyllis,
who stirred only rarely, and then like a nurse with a tongue
depressor, demanding that I say, Ahhhhh.
Today is Friday. None have come and suddenly June
fails to fit this chunk of days with one this still, this stale.
While doldrums remain, June will be Jane. (I had, you see,
It just so happens I was NOT able to keep from trashing this one up, so here's your warning: I don't write in this journal to win friends and influence people. I say some pretty awful things. So if you're faint of heart or you tend cry and whine when you read something by me or something really bitchy, please don't read this. I'm asking as politely as I can.
here goes my second try, lessee if I can keep from trashing this one up.
Girl of Ten beside Tomb Effigy 1966
Effigydressed Girl dressed
in academic costume: in hand-me-downs,
a long red cassock… a small red T-shirt with frayed
…shirt underneath … hem revealing skin;
…tabard… skirt also red, with broad white stripe,
let in when she grew last time
she had bronchitis.
…cape also red, fringed, Anorak blue, with dangling
with deep pink furred hood… drawstring hood,
…black pileus on head; Elastic pony-tail band in hair
Face and hands naturalistically coloured;
Head resting on two cushions, Girl stands, legs already
the top one blue, covered in new hair.
the lower one pink, with tassels. White socks, Clark’s sandals.
She is looking under the slab
and bites her nails.
Effigy lies on a flat bed
made up of...
I leave you my breath, cantankerous
bones, various organs; to sleep
in the shade of willows, in a warm bed
I bequeath a blunt knife, threads
of unravelled string, nets, pointed
stakes, untended acres, the scent
I adjure you not to forget the picnic
basket, and when you come to me with full arms,
bring a sprig of thyme, a bell full of grapes,
a gentle horse.
Warning: I don't write in this journal to win friends and influence people. I say some pretty awful things. So if you're faint of heart or you tend cry and whine when you read something by me or something really bitchy, please don't read this. I'm asking as politely as I can.
Sometimes you work and work with an issue, a difficulty, you try everything.
This is my last attempt to remain and linger.
She's not your mother,
your lover, your girlfriend,
your friend, your advisor,
she's nothing but herself.
She is not a muse.
Leave her out
of your arguments,
your wars, your battles
your romances, your fantasies,
your delusions, she's nothing
but someone who needs to write
to stay happy.
If she writes about sex,
it's not an invitation.
If she writes about sadness
it's not an invitation for ridicule,
pity, or analysis.
She doesn't look to the left
or to the right.
Doesn't care what you think.
She's not interested.
He found the brown shoes on the verge
beside the Rochdale Road up on the moor.
Who’d dump a pair of shoes there with no feet?
A sailor from Lithuania? Plumber outward bound
for Blackpool for an august week? A lover
looking for another half? A drunken shepherd
on a spree? A hard man on his way to death?
Shoes bear the scars of life, their soles
know all the ginnels, cobbles, grass, the mud,
rugs, lino, pavements, slime that clasps the rain;
so many paces in the hunt, the chase that pumps
the heart, slow step of sorrow, stamp of hate,
march of arrogance, stumble of blind faith.
A crow lumbered by, a curlew trilled. He took
the shoes home, chucked them in the bin.
(For a video of this:)
She thought, this is my lucky day, when the baas
didn’t beat her when she spilled the coffee, when
he didn’t squeeze her young breasts and take her
like a sweating bull when the missie went shopping;
when she wasn’t locked in the shed with no windows
for having forgotten to polish the horns of the kudu,
whose sad head hung over the mantlepiece gazing
at the twin tusks and assegais on the facing wall;
when they said she could go home for a night, even
to leave in the gold and pinks of the sunset, to walk
the dusty road through the wattle plantations, farms
where birds fluttered and dipped over the green corn.
The judge asked if she had anything to say. She said:
'I saw the black widow-birds dancing in the mealie fields.'
It came to me whist ironing vertical blinds
in the confines of my kitchen
whilst I'm pretty sure that I'm not the first
to think such a thing
I know that Mrs Lawler
who's trimming her Ivy next door
has never had it intrude
and I've never read a poem
or short story featuring this perversity
if this thought were an animal
it would be an uncategorised creature
lurking beneath a slab of icy ocean
an elusive beast, as quickly as it comes
it leaves, and as I carry the blind
into the gloomy front room
scratching around for a notepad
it is gone-- slinking away
its shadow the shape of a long cloaked man
the arc of a scythe high above
glinting in the sun
Only at your last supper are you sitting,
as if it were a posture intermediate
Otherwise you held yourself erect
even as a babe in arms,
erect as Joseph's helper,
erect beside the Baptist at the river,
erect upon the waters of Galilee,
with Moses and Elijah on the mountain,
on the hilltop with Satan,
But surely as you were a man
and had a favorite place to sit,
for if not,
how could you know us
or our sins?
It may have been
a simple stone
beside a quiet stretch
on the road to Tiberias
came down from the air
to harry ants,
or at Magdalen's,
where her husband lorded
himself over her
before he walked with
or did you have
a sparsely furnished room
to which you retreated
from evangelist eyes
and simply sat,
You just sit, they say,
you must have learned
when you were here,
in a chair
you smuggled back
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