augury doggerel

Sunday, October 31, 2004

did someone get in touch with you about michelle?

Someone named Amy, someone I don't know, sends me a message, asks me whether someone has told me about Michelle, someone else I don't know. Amy says I left a message on Michelle's blog. I ask Amy for more, for a reminder, to tell me where I've been. Amy says I left "Where are you?" on Michelle's blog. But it's the sort of note I would leave someone I wanted to add to my list of poetry blogs. I must have seen her blog. Where? I search the net for Michelle.

Friends remember gator victim as talented poet, free spirit. / his daughter's nightgown near the lake / What kind of idiot goes swimming in the lakes around here in Florida? / Florida officials say a Georgia woman died / Autopsy confirms alligator killed woman in Lee / > >> It is with great sadness that I announce the death / Kvinne drept av alligator / found by her father in a lake near a residential area / > >> Some of you may know her from these listservs / Megette az allig�tor az �jszaka f�rd?z? l�nyt / 7-foot-11-inch alligator was removed from the lake / Skinny-Dipping Woman Drowns After Alligator Attack In Fort Myers / Gator chomp fatal to swimmer / > >> be greatly missed by those who knew her. / "She was intelligent and thoughtful," Voss said. / "She was provocative," Voss said. "She said quirky, / "She was the kind of person who would go swimming at 2 in the morning.

But I can't find the place again. Where are you?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Of Semiconsciousness

We sleep late. She looks under the pillow. Still just a tooth. The tooth fairy has forgotten. The tooth fairy is tired. Tooth fairy arrives late with a boxing kangaroo computer game. But we're late. Shoes, shoes, shoes. We stagger out, we walk, the kid and I, to the tram for school. As she walks she reads a manual for boxing kangaroos. I carry her swimming stuff. Don't read that now, look at the leaves. The leaves are beautiful. Red and yellow. Orange, purple, brown. Green and gold. Look up, look up, look up. I stand in dog shit. A large gold and green pile left in the middle of the leafy street. Take her to the tram, kiss her goodbye. I smell like a large gold and green dog shit and I have forgotten to hand her the bag of swimming stuff. I am left holding the bag. Walk home again, mumble to man with dog, mumble to the woman, wash shoe (I have just two, and isn't Washoe the name of a talking chimp?), take taxi to school, give kid (who is reading computer game manual at her desk) bag of swimming stuff, wait for tram, wait for tram, wait for tram, take tram to bus, wait for bus, wait for bus, wait for bus, bus is late, bus is late, everywhere people, bus riders and bus drivers and tooth fairies, looking at leaves, standing in dog shit, bus to work.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

On any street in town

In the corner of the cafe, the voices of two American women. They don't notice me or don't think anyone could make them out under The Essence of Andy Williams coming through the speakers. One gushes, one holds forth.
"the boys watch the girls while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by." "feel like" "this fascination with" "it's keepin' track of the fact watching them watching back that makes the world go 'round" "he's crazy" "Which is the name of the game, watch a guy watch a dame on any street in town" "crazy" "just makes everything worse" "eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene" "when we first met"

When I glance to see what this talk looks like, I am given the evil eye. They leave. I am Andy's special guest this evening. "la, la, la, la"

Friday, October 22, 2004

Made Visible

I unlock the mailbox and there's a card from Tlon, a parcel from Orbis Tertius. My six-foot rabbits are real.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Every time I turn to this poem, the first word is Penis in large plain type and I'm sitting on a crowded bus or tram or in a cafe with someone behind me trying to make out words in this foreign book, so I turn to the next poem rather than be the strange foreign man who reads so intently about the penis, pencil gripped. How does it begin? What comes after penis?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

In Numbers

A red fire extinguisher on the wall under a red picture of a fire extinguisher on the wall. A sign shows how to choke, how to recognize choking, how to unchoke. A fat man orders cake, then cake. Three skinny girls hunch over small cups.

Monday, October 18, 2004


To write a manual I describe what happens when a primitive call is wholly unsuccessful, and what signals are returned. But this we know.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


I don't remember wanting anything the way this little girl wants candy from a machine. She is carried off, she is screaming on a big man's shoulder, reaching back and grasping in the air. The man says "Look! There's mama! Look! There's mama!" but he could be pulling her leg.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


This morning early, geese and frost, airliner, scaffold, white and orange safety tape, cement truck idling, geese and frost.

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Ironing small clothes just to warm them. Cereal becomes sweet warm chocolate milk. Cats in the kitchen play with chestnuts. Toys almost smuggled to school. Tram doors close on a kiss goodbye.

Potato man calls "kar-to-fle" (po-ta-toes) in the street. I tap his call out on the piano. G#, E, C#, like Goldfinger, but he's the man with the tuber touch.

The zoo in the rain. Mother hippo plays with baby hippo on wet grass. Mother leopard plays with baby leopard in dry straw. Open mouths, big teeth, biting just enough. Father leopard struts big leopard testicles in a separate cage.

Mathematics, writing, piano, all-fours, W.I.T.C.H, Bionicles. Bath water must be tested by softer skin. Long hair hurts to brush. Makes herself cry. Brush your teeth. All of them. Her cat, her pillow.

Early dark. People and dogs, sidewalk, field, the Milky Way, even here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Off Season

I take the kid to school, then sneak away alone to the zoo.

I am a man with a pack and a book. They swim and surface and have beautiful whiskers. I say, "Hello! You have beautiful whiskers." They also roll in mud. They have humps and lips. They have strong smells and Latin names.

In the space of two minutes, the time of thirty short steps, a girl who doesn't have to be at school yet is afraid of a tiger and calls "wolfies wolfies" to the wolves and cries at a spider on the rail.

There is almost no one here but workmen with shovels and trowels and levels. I read some of the best American poetry available at the time to equally uncomprehending penguins, to yaks and to ducks equally. To the llamas, who ah-oo, I ah-oo too, we all ah-oo ah-roo. I am among the wooliest.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Last night, I cry at a sad song. Then I get mail from childhood. He says he's melancholy, friends move from Buffalo. This morning, geese fly away.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


It's autumn, the season my year rolls over.

A potato man is walking down our street. "Potatoooooooooooooooooooooes." He holds the last syllable to give it time to carry up from the street to our windows. Women negotiate from their windows and balconies with the potato men to have large bags of potatoes brought up to their kitchens.

Just five or ten years ago, the potato men would have come down this street in a wooden wagon pulled by a horse. Now the horses are gone and they come in an open-bed truck idling at the curb. Soon it won't be worth their time to compete with private cars and hypermarkets and viruses and trends.
"Russia is teetering on the brink of a large-scale potato crisis ignited by the same virulent, fungal-like pathogen, Phytophthora infestans , more commonly called late blight ... The Idaho Potato Commission is engaging in a head-on assault on the myth that the complex carbohydrates found in potatoes are bad... No person shall, in the course of business, import into England potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes...

Things are precarious ("on the brink") on the small potato farm. Meanwhile, the woman has just come back from the cobbler and the corner grocer, both of whom (like "whom") are also doomed. (Though we're not unhappy about the impending doom of this particular cobbler, who is a bastard.) The cobbler and the grocer will sit on a long, long wooden bench in the corridor with the potato farmer and telegraph operator and fisherman and lighthouse keeper and elevator operator, the typist and librarian and programmer and IT technician, the translator and song plugger and the camera operator, the pilot, iceman, scrimer, organ grinder, the whacker and the ankle beater and the hurrier, the drysalter and the eyer, the fancy man and fewster, the gummer and the self acting minder, the xylographer, the woolcomber, and the wantcatcher, the wakeman chapman chandler stoker smith.