Moving Poems profiled in Connotation Press

Back in early August, I had a very enjoyable, rambling discussion via Skype with California-based poet Erica Goss, who wanted to interview me for her new monthly column on videopoetry at the online journal Connotation Press. That interview is now up, and it’s coupled with an interview with Motionpoems founder Todd Boss (whose blog I just linked to here yesterday). Check it out.

I especially liked the closing quote from Todd: “To see your poem through the lens of film is to learn a new language about your poem. What could be more instructive than that?” I think this holds equally true for poets who envideo their own poems — or, as often happens, derive poems ekphrastically from film footage, their own or others’: it’s a form of translation. And just like traditional translating, it requires a reading so slow and so close as to amount to reinvention.

I also had a couple thoughts over at the Moving Poems forum, reacting to something Erica wrote: Are poets who make films of their poems self-publishing? And if so, are we risking loss of prestige (versus getting others to envideo our works)? Please go over there to comment on that, if you wish. But first, of course, read Erica’s column.

Peach Pit

This entry is part 17 of 34 in the series Small World


Dark & intricately coiled as the brain of a chihuahua, hard knuckle, by what mechanism does it come to inhabit such yielding sweetness & such a velvet skin? Like a rough manuscript that some editor turns into a book with gilt-edged pages, its labyrinth is threaded with a scarlet bookmark. And how is it a pit? If you split it, no tree will grow. If you plant it, the tree won’t grow true & only hornets will burrow into that feral yellow, each of their pits ending where the pit begins. Yet even an unblemished peach, placed alone on a table, betrays something of its hidden, still life.


Written in response to a challenge to use three words in a poem: chihuahua, mechanism and manuscript.


This entry is part 39 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012


An epic cast of characters, girlfriend—
tearful child, black witch, miserly wife;
slavish husband, jealous neighbors. Star-
crossed sweethearts, jilted old maid.
She darns socks; she howls at the moon.
Be careful: even Prince Charming has
a sordid underwing. More twists to the tale:
a virgin betrothed to a snake. He comes
to her bed under cover of night and demands
all lights be doused. At dawn, the sound
of a key turning in the ignition; wheels
screeching up the mountain road. Dust,
desultory chickens pecking at the stones.
How does it end? In tears, of course.
Or at a crossroads, the dark sky raked
with stars for backdrop. And only
the briefest intermission.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Thirty-five rings in the river

Todd Boss:

We poets are used to solitude, and when we publish our work, it’s hardly an event that attracts attention. But this project would be seen by everyone on the riverfront in my home city of Minneapolis, for a whole month. I admit I had more than one sleepless night about this project. Would victims of the collapse be offended? Would the project get criticized in the media? Who was I to speak for my community this way?

Letter, to Order

This entry is part 38 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012


Sin cere: Where did I read about this mark
potters stamped on the bottoms of earthenware, of drying

crockery? Without peer, meaning not a copy,
original; baked terra cotta, crackled brown, bread-like

surface of imperfections. Around the courtyard, in the day’s
last glaze of heat, curling vines gather. Fronds of fern

spiral back toward themselves at their tips. I tuck the ends
of my worries like that sometimes: like hair behind my ears.

What I would give for such a sign, to tell me
of the genuine, or promise what will not change again—

But for now, only something in the name of the lilac
to suggest its scent; something in the aspect of the moon.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Morning refuge


Until enlightenment I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and in the supreme assembly of the Sangha, I mutter, but I don’t really: I take refuge in the car starting and in scrambled eggs and in coffee fatted with cream. I think of all the cancers growing in my friends, and in strangers, possibly in myself: the race between cells that know restraint and cells that don’t is not a hard one to call. The worst are full of passionate intensity, and single-mindedly, bloodily intent on replication. The faces in the Republican Convention hall didn’t even look human to me: they looked like masks.