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Language: English
baby  geographic tongue  green  hope  man swimming  man  smallest worm  swimming  tiny man  tiny  tongue  upstream slippery  worm 
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Preview: RP Poetry

RP Poetry

A place for me to showcase my poetry. Interested in publishing or reprinting any? Email me at Remember that all are free to comment, but be constructive if possible -- I still have much to learn.

Updated: 2014-10-02T00:46:51.447-05:00




Firework gun-pocks
We lay inside on your
Mattress touching
In silence entwined
Entropic entangled
I wanted to hold those
Distant bursts of light in
The palm of my hand
Press them together so here
We could explode
Green and gold
No watchers

Pulp and Circumstance


Summer arrived. What
I wanted more
than anything was
lemonade. Hands grinding
halved fruit onto
that vaulted star,
I wrung a 
cup for you
before your flight.
Left behind was
sticky pulp, stink
on my fingers,
and rind beneath
my nails. Mixing
unequal parts simple
syrup and citrus,
I added sugar
to taste, desperate
not to erase
your bitter tang.

"September Night, Hackney"


What happened that night
we met Simon at the hookah bar?
Brick Lane wound like a haze
through to Hackney -
bottles of beer out back,
cool air and the dangling
Distant sound of voices
floating into cricket skies

Waking up to your glare,
to dry smooth skin,
London was a new fruit
I bit into with relish
reduced to a memory
now of the sweet taste
of Dr. Strangelove at 5 A.M.
and the dull ache of wanting it to end

"Alone Together"


The night we were alone together
We asked the moon to break the bread;
The two of us yapped, as black as dogs.
I couldn't find the words to tell you:
Talking is feeling for the emotionally inept.

I never liked your damned moon,
Its error driving men to howling
And shining through window blind slats.
You lay there painted like a zebra poised 
For prison, its very crime its ostentation.

We crossed the bridge we burnt behind us;
Look back and even songs won't save us.
Take my hand; don't speak.
Listen for the scraping of tinder:
The sound we make burning together.

"Geographic Tongue"


My geographic tongue,
Migratory glossitis, they call it,
Provides me a map
To search for you.
You were predestined,
A recurring X
Marking the spot
Of a continent lost
Every seven to ten days
And replaced anew
By fresh formations.

What a strange tongue.
Even my oceans are impermanent.
You could sail over the edge
As Columbus feared,
Disproving manifest destiny
All the while.
Still, you'd reappear
Like a ship out of fog,
Horns blaring,
And I would cast your anchor
Until the week is out.



I hold up a mirror,
But only shallow breathing comes.
A cross country trip
Could only have widened the distance
Between you
And your shadow, no?
What would he have done
You in California,
He ever wider in your wake?
Though time was caught,
He's closer to your feet,
Closer to his black intent.

Aren't we always chasing selves
In rental cars?
Maybe you can still catch
That racer on the hill,
Those boys who used to yell
Go, Lance, Go on sunnier days.
You waved back over a shoulder;
Your shadow cannot wave.
He knows only the drip drip
And the steady hum and beep
And days that forget you one by one,
Edges glowing, nearing eclipse.

"Under Attack"


Your marriage is under attack.
Or maybe you didn’t know
Pansies with baby bulbs
Are on the move
Batten your hatches
Even the backyard garden
Is a battlefield
And even the most potent
Poppies have proven ineffective
At soothing what ails
An overgrown weed,
Also known as
Homoseximus maximus
Also known as
A Chelsea flytrap.

Perhaps it's all just a plot,
And a careful manicure
Will leave your marriage bed
Of flowers alone to bloom.
Or perhaps I'm being overoptimistic
And all you can hope for
Is a garden of weeds
Growing taller and wilder
And more unkempt
Until flowers
And weeds
Entwine to make
A perfect garden.
More perfect than our garden
In the beginning.

"Decomposition Composition"


I hope this letter reaches you.
I gave it to a worm,
Whispered instructions
Only it, the smallest worm, could understand:
Tunnel 90 miles west, I told it.
Burrow deep into the soil
So this letter picks up wisdom
From the earth and bones
And sticks and stones.
When finally you crawl back
To green grass and purple skies,
Find the boy with blue eyes
Who will sing even you,
The smallest worm, a song.

If indeed this note has reached you,
I hope your eyes are still blue,
That you still sing to worms,
That you remember the song
Our hands played together
Like harps nimbly plucked
Or toe shoes dancing on marimbas.
I hope you remember it all
Like the dirt remembers
Our bodies when we’re gone,
Remembers our song,
And breathes it into new life
Like an aria sweet and urgent.
Time is a diva.

If you find this letter in error,
Please return it to my worm.
Bend down to whisper instructions
Only it, the smallest worm, can understand:
Tell it to tunnel 90 miles east,
Burrow deep into the soil
So this letter picks up wisdom
From the humus and root
And gravel and soot.
When finally it crawls back
To green grass and purple skies,
It will find me listening underground
For a song from you
And preparing to be sung myself.

"Underfoot Over Time"


One Tuesday I set out to walk
From Greenwich Village
To Morningside:
100 blocks, like friends I’ve known
For years without touching,
Containing lives in cubic rooms
Piled high with clippings
And gabardine suits,
Empty bottles and full china plates.
Every step here carries its own heartbeat,
Every neighborhood a manner of speech.
I want to tell it all, but how.

The Village wears its hipster T-shirts,
Shopping in Starbucks and Baby Gap
And yearning for a smoke.
It’s restless down here,
Where money meets crumbling brick,
And it’s easy to lose sleep
With Burp Castle across the street,
NYU kids hopped up
On hops and cigarettes,
And bums howling skyward like cats in heat.
Stir crazy comes easy, even here,
Where freedom paints the blues on like punk rock jeans.

Hitting the pavement is how I get out –
An expression I hold dear –
Stepping out to crack the world
Feet prickling concrete, fingers
Rapping on sewer grates
Firmly battened.
The sidewalk leads me
Where I feel,
Senses showing where to tread
With the funnel-cake foresight
Of my geographic tongue.

On the West Side, there’s a park I know,
Green and narrow Riverside,
A sliver of trees and a path is all,
Green carpet, trim like Astroturf,
And green taste in the air
To set my tongue at ease,
Ripe fruit in the eaves of green locks,
Raw sprigs thick like giants’ hair,
To be braided in hindsight
Into jump ropes soft with dew
For the Harlem girls to twirl –
One my baby two my baby three my baby jump

Into dusk and its calm,
Wedged between wake and sleep
In the cracks between tall buildings,
Where darkness creeps,
Keeping secrets mum till morning,
When hot dog stands
And newspapermen are the rule.
Until then, there is the hush and rumble.
The city that never sleeps
Tucks itself in, and the restless ones
Scrounge in empty night stands,
Straighten their neckties, and swarm.

That evening, I set out for Chinatown,
Teeming with life: fish and man.
Pungent odor, shoulder-high boxes,
Not Uptown’s Chanel
And Chantilly lace.
Wizened Grandmother Moon,
Swaddled in stars,
Whispers thanks from her perch
Through box-slat teeth
The color of cheese,
Reminding us all
To watch her in prayer.

These are the things I remember –
Moments from a walk I took –
Now as I sit by my bedroom window
Looking out at the dog
And its frumpy-pants owner,
Now as I watch my father
Gag and struggle with his food
In the dim light of a house,
Evening walks from which are sacrosanct
In the crosshatch crosswalk moonlight
Of my mind’s small city,
Not quite New York, but still.

Subway Poem


Navigating homeward
Carrying your tuba
Like you could blow
Pushing your stroller
As if you could know
The man sitting across
Eyes down
Hands in lap

On the street a man blowing balloons
And twisting balloons to shape the world
And blowing smoke
A twisted grin and something
Unintended to his audience

Below a man
Beady eyes
A girl across
Fiery and young
He leers
Speaks to her
“You got a boyfriend?”
Spits on the floor
She turns and hugs her mother
Smile on her face
Not thinking as I do



Taking this into –
I made it even more difficult for you to –
I hope you make it through –
Without –

“Fast and Slow”


If I were slow
As light
If I were fast
As a day with snow on its feet
I would run slow
And sleep fast
With you



In biology,
Love is an affliction, complete with side effects

In the movies,
Curt exchanges and a glimpse of a lady’s glove

Plato believed we were pulling our halves together

In the Bible, God is love

I do not know what love is

But I would like to think it’s a secret shared
Whispered little by little over time

Do you want the long version or the short?

"Bones Man"


I grieve for the losses yet to come,
The coroner carving in blunt white bone
The names of the dead like a permanent plaque;
This man is my friend, dressed in fresh-pressed black.
He sits at the table with the rest of us.
“Pass the salt” – or is that dust?
Folding paper napkins into cheap grotesques,
An everyday hero’s quaint bequest.
And shooting the breeze like a friendly chum:
One day their hour (and yours) will come.


Inspired by thoughts on death at KGB Bar.



When you and I are lying in bed, you don’t seem so tall.
These days you’ve stretched to reach me.
I’m low for you tonight.
You look for God in a kid’s kaleidoscope
And the meaning of life to fit in all those shifting shapes,
Yet to learn that Life is given the name Death at birth,
And God is his schoolyard friend,
Whispering in his ear dirty, lucky jokes.


This poem takes its first line from something I read on some scaffolding that caught my eye on my way to work one day.

"I'm A Tiny Man In Your Swimming Pool"


I'm a tiny man in your swimming pool
Mouthward ho! in your crazy straw
Thrashing upstream like a slippery fool

Bashful and powder white, you chalk up the rule
I pee in the water; you lithely withdraw
I'm a tiny man in your swimming pool

I try to fight it as in Catholic school
The awkward curve of your hardest jaw
Thrashing upstream like a slippery fool

Sometimes I felt the wet eyes, so cool
Peering from corners with primmest paw
I'm a tiny man in your swimming pool

Attending your fin-bellied Oedipal school
In the best of your mates lies my tragic flaw
Thrashing upstream like a slippery fool

Before me your face, so raw and so cruel
Eyes behind chalky white mask, and you saw
I'm a tiny man in your swimming pool
Thrashing upstream like a slippery fool


A poem I wrote at the request of a classmate of mine, Shayne Terry, from David Lehman's class last year. She's publishing a follow-up to last year's Jam Today publication, which was the culmination of our efforts as a class. Shayne challenged me to write a poem with the phrase "tiny man" at a reading David Lehman did at KGB Bar.