Friday, June 19, 2015

An American selfie (ii)

photo by James Nash

He's coffee with cream & mocha shag carpet,
a red tank,
         blue shorts,
                  & Nike high-tops,

everywhere, in the center lane ---

                                His name
                                is Sherwood,
                                but is known by this tongue
                                of street
                                as "Wood"

his head to passing cars ---
no one chances second glances,

(Lot's wife, lots in life & all the uncomfortable others
we imagine in the dark
alleys @ night,or our daughters
bringing to the dinner table --- )

& when he thinks
no one is looking,

breaks into
a shimmy-shake / jive fake / passing the unseen
ball between his legs / sets / leaps

defying gravity & other conventions we depend on
to define our world view, a sense of self,
our justification for mental health
                                         or other/wise ---

practicing his fade away
                      until he gets it right.



  1. The last lines brings to life this haunting piece. Well done.

  2. As do we all, but most of us don't have the sand to do it out in the centerlane, not caring that we get that non-look of rejection. My favorite lines here are those about Lots, and the tongue of street.

  3. Maybe it's only possible to be yourself if no-one's looking. I wonder if we're afraid to look cause we will be like Lot's wife....

  4. I hope you keep going with these selfies. Great "meme," if you will.

    As for this one, I don't need any more than the very first line. A ladder, creamy coffee, and my favorite kind of carpet. Stunning opener.

    I love the way you distract us with his dancing, b-ball moves, etc., when all the while you're really saying this:

    "& when he thinks
    no one is looking,
    breaks into" [in two]

    I could "hum along" on the closing couplet alone, for days and days. If I were to number-grade a poet's inner gifts ... well, let me just say it this way: Your ability to impress me with your brain just climbed up several rungs on the giant H.

    I want to give this man a hug; he's hurting so much, despite being surrounded by people impressed with his moves and gregarious nature. And yet, he's alone and completely tormented. Sometimes those who seem the most social and entertaining are also the saddest, loneliest, and most wayward.

    I haven't told many people this, but I have prayed for Satan before. I feel sorry for him, and I can understand his psyche. I secretly wish he and God could make up and move past all this and this heaven/hell nonsense could be dissolved. Sometimes I wish I could write the ending to all this. But I guess the big pen will always belong to someone else.

    1. I just found that stacked "nods his no" --- very clever. I love the red tank, too.

      Lots of good vertical writing in this.

      Also, upside-down writing. I may be the only person who reads like this, or everyone may do it; I really don't no. But like here:

      "a shimmy-shake / jive fake / passing the unseen
      ball between his legs / sets / leaps

      defying gravity & other conventions we depend on" ...

      When you extend certain lines, it makes my eyes looks for connection at the ends of lines, often reading upward. Here, I see: "We depend on the unseen." Things like that. I probably make them up, but if writers do it on purpose, then kudos for sure. I probably shouldn't say this, but a little higher in the poem, there's an upside embedded message that says "others tongue carpet." I do it at the beginnings of lines too, just smash words together that seem to pull toward each other naturally, like "We imagine alleys/Alleys/allies in the dark." That missing space before "or" in that same area makes me search out something to do with the "or," like "the or dinner" or maybe "Thor dinner." Anything goes, I suppose.

      "his legs set/sit/see-tea sleep tea sleep" ... "a sense health" ... "defying gravity and other convents" ... "our just I / eye (two ayes in the title) ... fie-cation / fiction"

      Sorry ... am I not the only one here? :P

    2. ... this is a great comment!

    3. Thanks, chickadee. ;)

      One more thing, bro ... right here: "lots in life" ... did you means "lost in life"? I've stumbled over it every time I've read it. Not that making people stumble is a no-no, 'cause obviously I do it with everything I write. But that's not really your thing. Either could work; I just thought maybe you actually meant "lost."

    4. yeah Helen, she is pretty amazing.

      your "lot is life" - your position in society. it is supposed to be lot, and was playing off lot's wife as well.

      I do try to play in some vertical lines, like yesterdays "only ruach"...and even earlier this week when I went full on cleave poem for one stanza...but you def identify far more than I intended, but that is way cool.

      Thanks S, you are much appreciated.

  5. Brilliant...and totally haunting!
    Yes...I think we're afraid to look just in case we see something of ourselves in his moves...or in Lot's wife...

    Have a Brilliant Weekend! :))

  6. he sounds like an interesting character - i like the part with lot's wife much and the beat of the piece as well as the play with the fading in the close - cool
    sometimes i wish i was brave enough to just do what i feel like doing without caring too much what people think - ha

  7. without a care in the world.....a free soul

  8. You describe someone that many of bus have seen but perhaps not looked at so closely. It is such a humane and lovely portrait. The close is very effective in its mix of dark and shadow, black and white. Thanks. K.

  9. .. for me ~ this was the ultimate poetic b-ball metaphor/fantasy! Certain I must be 'out' there on some weird limb?

  10. Well, what an interesting character study! Hope he keeps shimmy-shaking to his heart's content. And hope as time goes on he doesn't care if anyone is looking. Smiles.

  11. I could see him moving: a shimmy-shake / jive fake / passing the unseen
    ball between his legs / sets / leaps -

    I admire his trying his fade away to get it he mentally fit or not//// I can only guess ~

    Have a good weekend X ~ Trying to catch up on comments in this other blog of mine ~ Grace

  12. Great portrait, X. I like the little details (like the brand of his sneakers), the observations that lead us to assumptions about him and make us think they are totally possible. I also think the title was a smart find.

  13. Brilliant piece! I think the others have said it all. Loads of de-ciphering to be done - what a challenge! I feel quite sad for the little chap, trying to bolster his ego. At first I wondered if he was daughter's bf coming to dinner to meet the parents, lol!

  14. This made me think of Jim Carroll very cool!


  15. That shimmy has stayed with me. Oh, man, that was so vivid. Beautiful, just beautiful. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  16. ... haven't been looking over my shoulder for a while now on who is looking or not ... life is just too short, u know .. Love, cat.

  17. people on the 'outside' - outside norms, outside walls - I wonder, how close we really are to them. a hair's breadth, it seems, sometimes ~

  18. The hidden shake, awesome u, bet you catch it every time, always X

  19. Share Wood ... you are flipping hilarious. Keep it in your pants, dude. :)