Monday, December 27, 2010

Haiku for the Holidays

I received a set of Haikubes for Christmas. Except for the first one, which is actually about the holiday, these poems are the product of rolling word dice. To be fair, I have to admit that only half of the actual words in each haiku came from the dice. I added enough of my own to make them grammatical.

angel ornaments
smile at gifts that peaceful lie
swaddled 'neath the tree

heavy blades of grass
dancing by the shady pool
following the rain

desperate as I,
our eyes consume every hope
ravenous tiger

ill fortune for love:
moonlight slips on wet stormclouds
flying between us

after sleeping late
rosy lips whisper their wealth:
a mouthful of yawns

Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Poems: 2010

As the year winds to a close, it is time to compile a list of the best poems I've read in the past twelve months. Nearly all of these come from Poem of the Day emails I received from, which I highly recommend signing up for. (It says the daily poems are limited to April, but they are actually year-round as of this past May).

It was difficult for me to narrow them down, but I've decided on a top 20 list.  These are my recommended reading, though I realize of course that, perhaps even more than other art forms, poetry is a matter of taste. If you have some favorite poems from the year, please include your recommendations in the comments section.

The poems are separated into three categories, though some don't fit conveniently into only one. The categories are essentially the choices I've given for reactions at the bottom of each post: fun, imagery, and meaningful. Within each category, poems are ordered by author, and I have starred my very favorites.

Poems I liked for their humor or cleverness
Meeting with My Father in the Orchard by Homero Aridjis
9 by E. E. Cummings
The Passionate Freudian to His Love by Dorothy Parker
*Quick Black Hole Spin-Change by Edward Sanders
The Pumpkin by John Greenleaf Whittier

Poems I liked for their language or form
Sawdust by Sharon Bryan
*Spell for Encanto Creek by Mark Jarman
Refusing at Fifty-Two to Write Sonnets by Thomas Lynch
Mnemosyne by Trumbull Stickney
*Magdalene Poem by John Taggart

Poems I liked for their insight or introspection
Birthplace by Michael Cirelli
The Sweetwater Caverns by Kimiko Hahn
*Arabic Coffee by Naomi Shihab Nye
Motherhood, 1951 by Ai Ogawa
*Early Memory by January Gill O'Neil
Fusiturricula Lulluby by Gjertrud Schnackenberg
*Testy Pony by Zachary Schomburg
*Adjectives of Order by Alexandra Teague

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It is the feeling one gets when
one has just used the absolute
very last of the toothpaste
from a tube that one
nearly did, and in
good conscience
well could have,
thrown away
empty two
and a half

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Convict Escapes Through Chimney

Dec. 15, 2010  Wednesday
LOS ANGELES -- A nationwide man-hunt is underway today after three-time convict Nicholas Claus escaped from prison yesterday evening. Authorities have offered rewards for information leading to his recapture.

The prison break occurred shortly after 6:00 pm local time, when Claus reportedly climbed into a brick fireplace near the mess hall. Security cameras on the roof show him emerging from the chimney and clambering into a get-away vehicle that pulled quickly away. Ground pursuers were unable to follow it.

Warden Joe Mohr described the escape in a statement to the press. "It was pretty audacious. I saw Nick step into the chimney and ordered him to move away. He looked directly at me and tapped his nose like he knew something I didn't, then gave with a nod and bam he was gone," said Mohr.

Chief Inspector Robert Helms, who heads the investigation, called the escape "troubling." Helms noted that the coordination evident in the timing of the escape indicates "direct communication, and possibly even rehearsed extraction scenarios." Nevertheless, he blames lax security for the incident. "Why a fireplace was allowed anywhere near the convict's cell is entirely unclear," Helms said at a press conference earlier today.

Warden Mohr has been fingered for the lapse in protocol. "We searched it for tools and weapons when it came through, and there was nothing dangerous so we had it installed. I never thought the fireplace itself could be used to escape," said Mohr. "Besides, it came gift-wrapped." Police have not released information about who might have sent that package.

Chief Inspector Helms has, however, confirmed the identities of two suspects allegedly involved in aiding the break out. "Security footage implicates Dasher and Donner Tarandus," he said, two brothers and known associates of Claus. Warrants have been issued for their arrest both in the United states and in their native Canada. Other members of the Tarandus family, and the family friend Rudolf Rangifer, are also being sought for questioning.

Nicholas Claus, who operated under the alias "Kristopher L. Kringle," was serving a two-year sentence following conviction for fifty-six counts of trespassing. Court records show that more serious charges are still to be brought against him, pending procurement of witnesses. Attorney H. Livingston has previously stated his intention to prosecute Claus in connection with an international smuggling ring once sufficient evidence has been gathered. "Past complaints against him [Claus] have failed in court due to the anecdotal nature of the reports, but we believe we can mount a convincing case based on well corroborated facts," said Livingston at the time of Claus' trespassing conviction. Neither Livingston nor C.C. Moore, who was Nicholas Claus' defense lawyer, could be reached for comment today.

Claus' prior convictions, for which he was fined and sentenced to community service, involved customs and tariff violations, and one count impersonating a clergy during the well-known "Father Christmas" incident. Popular rumors that he also impersonated a saint have been dismissed as fanciful.

The police bulletin describes Claus as a 5'11" white male, 62 years old and 255 pounds with a ruddy complexion and "a droll little mouth." At the time of his escape Claus also had a large white beard and mustache, but police remind the public that he may have altered his appearance.

Police also warn that Claus, who was arrested almost a year ago, is most active during the holiday season. "We ask that people take extra precautions to ensure their homes are not invaded this year," said Helms.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winter Wind

The song she sings is beautiful, an aria of the soul.
Majestic music moves the skies with the sadness of a world.
Beneath a cold and muted sun she tends an empty land
unhelped, alone, and yet she sings through every space she can.

Standing there to hear her sighs is chill, and cleansing, too.
Tears unnoticed frost my cheek, a silent frozen dew
that knows somehow her tragedy and can't but stop to hear,
but to me the weight of grief is much too cold to bear.

Ashamed then of the shivering that drives me back indoors,
I guiltily cocoon my home in levity and warmth
and only listen from afar through panes of frosted glass
to wisps and strands, e'en though she sings as long as winter lasts.

I'm yet too young, but hope someday to have a heart that's deep
enough to hear the winter wind, the grandeur of her grief.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nursery Rhyme

Sing a song of Christmas:
a new star in the sky,
four and twenty nights until
Lord Jesus will arrive.
When his eyes have opened,
with angels we will sing,
"Rejoice! Come, see the Son of God!
Come praise the King of Kings!"