holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 6 of 34 in the series Small World


The oaks have
dropped more acorns
this year than anyone
can remember. It’s
like walking on ball
bearings, except
sometimes they pop:
a cap comes off
& one blank face
gains a split. It
must be lonely
having the only
mouth. Do you take
a breath? Do you
invent eating?
Do you look for
another broken soul
& improvise some
kind of minimal
kiss? But wait
a while: soon
everyone will awake
& turn & stick
a yellow tongue
into the earth.

Morning Porch: the movie

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Direct link to video on Vimeo.

More and more publishers are producing video trailers for new books. Perhaps it’s time to start making them for websites, too. This action-packed trailer, though, is intended less to promote The Morning Porch than simply to introduce it to new readers — something to embed on the About page.

I shot the video yesterday for my one-minute movies project, and I suppose I’ll still class it as such even though it goes five seconds over with the addition of the Paul Eluard quote (which I stole from a friend’s pseudonymous Facebook profile a while back). This one is definitely more documentary than videopoem. I could probably make it more exciting with a few, brief inserts of other images: you know, close-ups of things glimpsed from the porch. But that might clash with the message of the text, I don’t know. Here’s what I wrote for it:

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a prisoner, condemned to the same round every day, compelled to do things I had little appetite for, surrounded by others in the same situation, all of us desperate with loneliness and the desire to be somewhere, anywhere else. What would I do? I’m a writer, so I suppose I would write. It would be an almost enviable situation: all that free time. I would take note of everything I saw, immerse myself in the moment no matter how bleak, because daydreaming would only lead to despair. I would write small, spare things 140 characters in length that some would call poems, but that I would see as clauses of one long sentence. I’d be in for life.

The Machinery of Time

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Direct link to video on Vimeo.

A flash-fiction videopoem featuring the hands of my niece Elanor and members of her plastic entourage. The depressing subject matter might have something to do with the fact that I had just seen the documentary Gasland (highly recommended, by the way). And in fact, my preferred style of videopoem-making borrows heavily from documentaries, relying as it does on discovery rather than invention (e.g. actors following a script), and using voice-over narration to convey the text of the poem.

The Machinery of Time

The time machine was our only answer to the apocalypse we’d set in motion. Some chose to travel 10 million years into the future, by which time, they figured, new multicellular organisms would’ve evolved. Others of us decided to go back & try to change history. Someone thought she could help Carthage win the Punic Wars. Someone else wanted to insert a fable about hubris into the Homeric epic. But the backwards travel unraveled us, thinned us out & made us ineligible for death. We appeared only in mirrors, or to people with second sight, provoking fresh terror at a haunted world. When after millennia of helplessness we reached our own birthdays, we crumbled like the pages of a burnt book.


That’s about the maximum length for the text of a one-minute videopoem, by the way. I had to cut out a few phrases and read more quickly than usual to fit it in. Still, after almost three years of writing for the world’s tiniest daily newspaper, The Morning Porch, one minute seems like more than enough time to get an idea across. The above text would fill five tweets.

Jersey Shore

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 19 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


Direct link to video on Vimeo.

Another one-minute movie. The postcards displayed are all from the Garden State and span the 20th century. Here’s the text of the poem:

Jersey Shore

the shore is a kind of road
that leads only to itself

the sound of its traffic
is said to be soothing

its sand grains attract
hourglass figures

we bury each other
up to the neck

gulls & gamblers take turns
screaming at the sun

we eat white sandwiches
& colored ice

there are rides no one
has ever dared get off of

there are entire hotels
patronized only by crabs

paperbacks sprawl
face-down like drunks

we hold hands & walk
into the surf

it’s the only way to leave
without paying a toll

Poetic trees

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
black birches in Plummer's Hollow
black birches in Plummer's Hollow

This month’s Festival of the Trees blog carnival at Kind of Curious features an unusually large haul of poetry, including poems by Daniela Elza, Nic S., Eric Burke, Dorothee Lang, Walt Franklin and Rob Kloss. I also enjoyed some of the more informational posts on topics ranging from nurse trees to the destruction caused by the recent tornadoes in New York City to the practical and legal implications of tree-hugging in the U.K. I’m not going to link to any of these individually, because John did all the work pulling the link-fest together — he deserves all the traffic. So go visit.

Don’t forget to bookmark or subscribe to the coordinating blog of the Festival of the Trees, and whenever you happen to blog about trees or get a tree-related item published on the web, try to remember to send us the link. Also, we still need a volunteer to host the festival on December 1, so let me know if you’re interested.

One final tree-related note: my mother’s nature column for October is all about last year’s devastating October snowstorm. I think I posted some of my photos here at the time, but Mom goes into much more detail than I did, so go for the photos if you want, but stay for the writing. That storm was about as much excitement as we ever get around here.

I went out in mid-morning while it was snowing heavily again. The forest was a palette of white, gold, and green. Black birch and witch hazel trees were bent over and a few black gum trees had broken in the woods both inside and outside the deer exclosure.

Large branches littered the Far Field Road along with occasional whole trees — red maple, sugar maple, hickory, chestnut oak, and a split black cherry. Once again snow piled up on the leaves and branches of standing trees, and after I had walked over to the Sapsucker Ridge Trail and across the black-locust-bowed Far Field, I heard the smash of a tree or large branch on the Far Field Road. Nervous about my safety, I tried to hasten along the ridgetop trail…

Snow on autumn leaves is a beautiful sight. But an excess of beauty can be a terrible thing.

Bread & Water

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 18 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


Direct link to video on Vimeo.

This is the first in a planned series of one-minute movies made in less than a day with text written in response to the film images. I include the text below for the benefit of those on dial-up, but I’m not sure it makes too much sense on its own.

Bread & Water

I cast my bread on
the water, but
it didn’t come back.
Did you call?
I wrote. I made tea
from every leaf in
the garden.
Would you know it if
you saw it again?

I would.
I would know it slowly.
I would know it as
a failed boat.
Wasn’t it full
of air pockets, like
a lung?
No, those
were just open
dates on a calendar.
It was fresh.
It had skin for a skin.
What will you do when
you tire of waiting?

I’ll whistle back to
the old steam grate.
I’ll lick the lenses
of my glasses until
the street looks clean.
What will you do
if the bread
comes back?

I’ll teach it to sink.