17 July 2014

Sunday Morning, Sunday Afternoon

Saturday night dissolves into
Sunday morning, the music
and talk died away now, slipping
on blackened shoes, securing the goldbead
clasp of a handbag with a
snap, hem straightened, and, powdered and
lipsticked, off to Mass

later, picking up soft rolls and the
bulk of a Sunday paper, inky fingers pressed
Silly-Putty upon the funnies,
turning it to see the image
you have created, this
duplicate of a duplicate, another
and another

later still, listening for the
jingle-music of change in a pocket
foreshadowing thick curds of
ice cream in a crisp cone, the
paths cut into the grass of the
park strips of brown earth
worn bare, naked as
open wounds

Christmas Cards Tell the Weather

Christmas cards tell the weather
report, the deaths and

borne by red robins wreathed in
a gleaming sparkle of snow, gritty to
the fingertips, caught by the light, the handwriting
fainter and fainter until it is
no more

still others enclose photos
of grave-faced children, familiar
yet unfamiliar, mouths silent,
name and number on their

as we stir the batter for
the Christmas cake we make
wishes, always wishes, how
wonderful the things the mind
can conceive.

the foreign taste of dates a
meaty sweetness, the
custard, hot, poured over
pudding and Christmas
yet to come

the bulbs burning on
the tree are hot to the touch,
the tinsel a magic of silver


two blue birds, their meeting
forever forestalled under the
china glaze, repeated, endlessly,
over teapot, dinner plates, side-
plates, teacups, and saucers

so smooth to her fingers, laundry-
chapped, as she sees the story
of lost love repeated, repeated,
repeated in blue and white,
upon the shelf, the shelf, the shelf

of blond wood that she stares at,
puzzling at some small imperfection
she cannot correct, the motes of
dust in a ray of sunlight mocking
her and still the dinner to be done,
be done, be done

12 July 2014

McCarra/Poetry on YouTube

Red Birds

two red birds settled upon
a bush, bare yet, of leaves,
one greyblack insect, manylegged,
scuttles across the stoop

one heart and stomach
provoked and
unsettled, protected by
a cage of bone and
gristle, quietly resistant to
any cutting tongues or
thick stupidities

dust, settling, upon a baseboard,
wiped off by a gloved hand,
the debris of past days settled,
brownboxed, overspilling

the quiet that settles
after chaos and strife (better
than the blankness of an April morning unfurling),
comfort of settling into
an attitude of rest,
curved into the quilts

Last Straw Spun to Gold

the last straw she spun to
gold before falling into a swoon,
finger pricked upon the spindle,

glaring step-sisters pleased at such
a coma, leaving the field clear,
for them, so to speak

to have at all the eligible
princes carrying their coffers of
gold, cutting through thorniest underbrush,

vanquishing dragons, answering riddles, and carrying
out all manner of princely duties
while their old fathers, the Kings,

balanced their budgets on the
back of their peasants, making them stretch
their black bread a little longer, as

Hansel and Gretel were
turned out into the forest and
our spinning Princess sleeps in quietude,

immured from the carping harpies
who would steal her children from her

At Water's Edge

at water's edge
tarblack rocks
shelter small pools where
tiniest of fish dart, safe
for the moment, secure,
locked in constant
rippling causing circles
that intersect, then
break, repetitive as breath

(greyshelled, a collection of blood, sinew
flesh, bone, all bound
together by twining filaments clinging to
an opalescent interior, smooth, curving,
rainbow-threaded, mother of pearl
sleekness within, without an exterior dark grey, ribbed, striated,
edges sharp enough to gouge the fingertips, bony teeth
tasting blood mixed with
salt water)

until the tide rushes in, noisy,
untrammeled, unmannered, pounding over
this threshold of sand and rock,
thick with green ribbons of kelp,
briny, stunted flowers, washing over, salt-green,
the salt-green sea,
over stinking carcasses of horseshoe
crabs, to wrest the fishes from
their pools, sending them
to certain death

City of Words

see the city of words, city of
gold, a-shimmer in the
distance, upon closer

the branches in the
parks are heavy laden with
verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, all
manner of portmanteau
words, who fall down

to the ground, and, finding
their feet, stride along
the boulevards, atwitter along the tree-
lined streets, once quiet as mid-
night, the narrow alleyways, too,
beneath blinking lights

squeezing out the, wringing out
the dregs of meaning to be
held in the palm of
your hand, inhaled as air

Night, Star-Pocked

why? because, with you, she should like
to stretch the blackness of the
night, star-pocked, as she would an elastic band, pulling it out
so that it lasts a thousand hours before dawn cracks the sky, no,

more, so that she could, for all time,
delineate the lines of you, as if blind, with her fingertips,
the scent of you, too, the speech and intonations, write
it all down on a map to be referred to in those moments of urgency

when all seems lost, the sense of the
world sadly lacking, thrust into this alternate
universe where yes is no and it is all
tied up in a thickly twisting bouquet of red tape,
bulging and bursting out, situation normal, all........

the prize for the Queen of this Carnival is
listening to lies, each as headily fragrant as last month's trash laid
lying out in the sun, curbside, stinking, fish heads a gawping

oh, the seven plagues
falling on the house, the breaking of crockery, and mirrors, the
car trouble, false friends, funerals, the endless mendacities of
paid caretakers

before night, finally, draws the curtains again

Going On

I can't go on, I'll go on.

sitting on the rubbish heap,
pouring out the dregs of
tea so that they puddle
at your feet, the sun
reflected in the murkiness of brown
liquid muted, so
you can stare at it
without fear of injury--
generator of all good things--
the flowers borne out of the
heap of pig manure, stinking to
high heaven,
wiping it from your shoes
as you go on
and on and on


wishing for a river to
carry her to that distant
place, free of encumbrances,

where birdcalls echo across
the water, framed thickly
by landscapes of trees and

mountains, this economic
engine pulsing past towns
thrumming with industry, vein

of lifesblood bearing goods
for barter, sale, constantly
moving forward, roar of

the water a beating heart, all
in unison while she slows,
stops, and listens.

Grown to Metal

standing on the threshold the
bricks dissolve back to mud
around her ears, those ears
a hum of frogs from the
forest, her limbs grown
to metal, the eyes of
sapphire plucked out, the
ruby from the circlet
on her finger prised away, her
faulted, faulty form is
melted down to make the
wires used for animal-
cages, trapping first, her
voice, trapping second,
her spirit, trapping
third, her heart, all
put on display for the
ticket-purchasing-public, words parsed
and strained while they
search for offence and
strike at the cages with
ineffectual hands


the branches hung heavy
with fruit
still reach for the

sun and storming clouds
seen through their
jagged fingers, the
fruits bruised by
their drop to the earth--
she tried to catch
them all

but cannot, those fruits,
thickly sweet,
savored by a hum of insects
or shrunken by the sun
into a wizened face


the flax that makes Ferguson's
finest linen
pierced with bloodred threads, the
dictum: in Adam's fall we sinned

free of slubs, the damask fit
for Judy's dinner party where
women's voices are heard above
the clatter of knives and forks
battling against the chicken cutlet.

time for a new embroidery:
back to the basic equality
of all beings


green--those shoots that
tore through the blackloam--
bursting into red, yellow, the
colors of foreign flags--all on
your staid suburban lawn,
beyond the river, green,
growing up
into blades that cut through
the spring air like a knife
through butter,
borne out of bulbs planted deep,
with a whisper of hope
before the snows came

Intemperate Weather

intemperate weather, blowing your
chill breath on the back of

her neck, the cataracts and
thrum of hurricanoes above her

head, waiting, perched on a
sleety step, for the postman

to deliver slim envelopes, each
one carrying sad, sodden words

of her unsuitability, unfitness,
the dismal forecast spread out

on slips of paper destined for
the rubbish bin as
the sun stutters, finally,
to the sky, the bells

ring out at noon,
granting her the
grace of sunshine

Postal Marks

I would be sad, said he,
were the day to come
when your letters could
no longer reach
my mailbox

sheets folded once, then
once again, envelope
addressed in slanting script,
cursive, always, abhorring the
block letters favored for
government forms

folding other sheets she
follows the letter in her
mind, his breaking the seal,
reading her words, consigning them
finally, to a desk drawer
where they hum, wordthick,
above all
the other papers, however
finely footnoted


she says:
spare me your checklists as
you count my grey hairs, each
one a testament to advancing
wisdom, shrugging on her
cloak of invisibility, to
glide away from the
oasis where horses are
watered, dates, rimmed
with sugar, consumed whole,
crowding the mouth
with the sweetness she longs for,
choosing, instead,
the blank canvas of
the desert,
shifting sands beneath
her feet

Zoological Garden

peacocks threaded through
the tables at the
snack bar, seeking out
the rinds of pretzels as
we ate sandwiches of
black pudding and drank
from a flask of tea

and the lions still
recline, in relief, facing
each other, as we
faced each other, only
later stumbling in the world
of darkness and
grasping for each other's

timing the turbulence of
the river against our
breathing, pulsing over the
rocks, while common
chipmunks scurried past,
on their way, in a
hurry, somewhere,
while we waited for
the day to expire,
roaring at the lions,
never expecting them to

Deo Volente

Deo volente, because a stitch
in time doesn't always
save nine and yes,
sometimes we cry over
spilt milk when there
isn't enough left for the
tea and, sure, there's
those who would steal
the milk out of your tea
as soon as look at you--
shower of bastards raining
on our parade, laughing
wile the world laughs
with us, never
crying alone

Rose-hued Days

her bags were packed yesterday--
kicking heels knocking over the traces
as the sun rose, passport
at the ready, thinking of
all those days, rose-hued,
strong on a thin chain of gold,
looped long around her neck,
promised to her as the
frogs croaked in their
solemn chorus and
dinner burn to a cinder,
smoke signals seen for
miles, a declension of all
those paragraphs, the
sentences diagrammed so that
all can understand them


a dream of shelter and
time enough to sleep and
wake restored

cradled on soft furnishings,
cheek tweed-grazed, the
curtains drawn close to

block out the late-morning
light, your tulips bursting forth
in serried ranks, precise

swathes of color borne out
of his handiwork, vibrant bands
shimmering, dancing, in the breeze


the mountain, riven open with
a single slash of her hand, reveals the
veins of precious metals, jewels,
hid beneath the din, grey

exterior, the cheerful trees topped
with snow, toppled, toothpick splintered,
the picture-postcard
torn in two, jagged edges
fanning her cheeks, hot with

anger.  she picks the jewels out,
one by one, cracks them between
her teeth, as the wastewater,
grittily thick, tears down in rivulets

Under Glass

an oblong within an oval, the
reflection of the portrait seen in a looking glass
through the crack of the door,
changing as the light changed

first, silvery at dawn, the
features indistinct, only
slowly becoming clear, the eyes a
challenge bordered by flesh,

the hair growing to flames as
noon approached and the bells
ring out, red-haired Una,
framed for all time, held

captive behind the glass, such a
fine specimen, her gaze direct,
eyes the slate grey of a roof


stitching that would cause blindness
finished almost invisible seams
of a hidden pocket, the photograph, twice
folded, a man's faced, quartered, in
the wrinkles of the creasing
she pressed a fingertip, hoping
to read in the texture
who he was, who
he had been, tucked into the pocket of
a coat of autumnal haze, now
turned out to see
the light, sepia facing the
blue of sky mottled by white,
discovery of this unnamed
fellow, forever young, bereft of a frame,
secreted all these years, the intrepid
explorer mothballed in cold storage,
oh, my lost, my lovely one, you
stare with the sincerest of eyes

As His Eyes Bored Through Her......

as his eyes bored through her,
black as the two holes burnt in a blanket
from dropping ash, she thought she'd
let the matter go,

at the ragged end of the night
they sat, face to face, him
rubber-banding the notes made
flat to stack, pleatings of paper
upon paper, thick enough to
choke that horse,

and, sunny Jim, she thinks, don't
be trying to hide that tail from me--
I see it, sure enough, snaking
down the leg of your poxy trousers,
the hooves, too, you try to hide
betwixt my sheets, scratching the
varnish off the bedposts, leaving a
goatish pong to my bedclothes,

and later, too, as you
trowel thick-cut marmalade
upon toast, to go with your
breakfast-cup of brimstone,
noxious, redolent of all
your lies, the curling lips
pigsflesh fit for
butchering, exhaling, in your
stale and stinking breath,
the banality of evil

Hedges, Bird-Thick

the hedges, bird-thick, send out a
morning song, the chorus swelling,
dying off, then the soloist
perched at the tip of a branch
trills.  morning, again.

the flowers woven through a
random punctuation of purple,
red, blue,

the bare branches tied together
for kindling and she recalls
the yellow tape for the telex,
perforated, as it shuddered
through to Hungary, without
preamble, her slim words

the notes, too, written within
the cover of a blue book, the
faint lines of chickenscratch
resonating still, the postcard, too
giltedged, marking the place
in her book

waiting for the postman moving up
the civil step, swept clean, the
curtain atwitch as he
leaves his daily offering in
the black box, thick-stamped
missives, miniature portraits of
the historical, vegetable, mineral....

while cream-laid sheets,
heavy with cotton
wait for those sure strokes
of language, steady as the
rain pelting glass


pushing off from the shore
we still saw
copper-breasted birds wresting
worms from the earth

stopping her ears from the
siren call snaking through
grey mists edging the
waters, a fluid fog
wreathing the way

unplotted, our navigator
gone missing at the last port,
color-coded maps with veins
of red, indigo, green, orange,
mustard-yellow, harvest
gold, bordered by blue,
shoved under your oxter

the salt spray so
refreshing, while
tapestries are woven and unwoven,
you sing stories
of the long way home, the
dog-eared tickets, her
last and best hopes
dashed upon the rocks

No Other Choice

because there is no other choice
the daily resurrection occurs
like clockwork, the minutes clacking
past, wheels on iron through the
thick folds of brain coiled tightly
around the brainstem, ivory
mottled by bloodspecks, the
malevolence sighted under the
glass, the round screwed
down hard upon the plates,
scrutinizing the replication of
the viral chains linking, one
to another, banded worms roiling
in their own world, microscopic

on the scald the pot, the
tongue, held in check only
for as long as it takes
to swallow the liquid, nut
brown, only lightly acquainted
with milk.

the arc of the day: spent in
removing foreign fibres, stringing
letters together, mixing matter
thickly with a spoon and
pouring it into the pan

until night falls, the black of it
a dull sheen of carbon paper

she washes the soil of the
day from her hands, the
day done and ended

The Dinner Party

seeking--a place at
the dinner party, laid
with porcelain plates
upon fine linen, the
table bearing cards
noting the

oh, to be in such a
company, to dine upon
such words as one
would hear, meat and
drink for the soul,

an emerging into light
from darkness


through light and dark and
scale we tell the symbolic
tales of our times--expressions

of all aspects of existence, we
search for the key that will
help us to understand

the lyrical loveliness and
jagged edges, deciphering the
divine through work of humankind,

seizing hard those glimpses of
life, espying the oasis in
the desert, singing out

elegies for the unforgotten,
remembering that
caution is
the enemy of art

Visions and Revisions

visions and revisions
of images, repurposed and
commodified, grace
the shelves, these homely
reminds of greatness rub
against the keen cuts of keys,
marking our place in a book,
kitsch and kin, worn smooth
by anxious hands, the
gift shop at entrance and
exit, exquisite bookends--slice
off a piece of art and
take it home, heavy as a
wheel of cheddar, nourishing the
eyes of those who will look upon it


a flutter of wings, a spatter
upon the canvas, thin strokes
drawing out the image as a
sculptor chips away the
non-essential to reveal the
glories of the human form, glowing
with a light all their own,
despite, in some cases,
sadly truncated limbs, the
beauty borne out of the
rarest minerals and stones
a wonder to the eyes, a
relief from the muddiness
of newsprint

Domestic Arts

scraps of fabric threaded through with
miniscule stitches, this third
cousin, once removed, from the
grand tapestries hung on cold stone
walls, destined for the domestic
sphere, no less a place for
art than the cool whiteness of
the museum, art in
practicality, in memory, too, the
strips of cloth reminding one of
a long-ago summer and
how the crickets sang out in
unison, the unexpected
concert a final blessing to
the day, the lightning bugs
blinking out their morse code,
our glasses drained and bed awaiting

Living Room

after he reupholstered the
sofas in vermillion he
got down to measuring the walls
for art, each blank space
an abhorrence til here they had
a scene of war there and there
the lion and the lamb lying down, and
pretty much everything in-between elsewhere,
the birds, confounded in their cages and
on the windowsill, twittered at
their painted compatriots, cowered at
the beasts of prey, dazed at
the riot of color

later, they sought out
a still life, white plated, greedily
consumed, appetites whetted by
the heavy-hanging fruits of
their labors

Approaching Transcendence

approaching transcendence, feeding
the soul,
love coming in at the
eyes, mixtures of light
and dark in perfect

the rainbow palette reconstituted
upon canvas, another story
told for our all-seeing
eyes, they have it, in
plentitude, these two days
and nights out of three-
sunsets over the river, the
wash of color across the sky
promising fair sailing

I'm Through

I'm through
being blue.
perhaps I'll be
red instead.

still, I have been
use all the colors
in my box of crayons
so perhaps I'll

Leaving Marks

jumping the stile at an
unguarded place, we avoid
the gatekeepers and their
sour smiles, using all the
pigments at our fingertips
to leave our mark on those
blank spaces left carelessly
pristine--yes, I was
here--along with Kilroy,
and scratched my images
so they can be seen beside
lush landscapes, under
no lesser light than
the sun bearing down


portraits, like old friends,
line the walls, this one an
old familiar, the strokes
bringing the curl of his lip
to life

as if
he might speak
at any moment

the ancient hues, the light
and dark mixes, almost
photographic, their words,

hang heavy in the air, paragraphs
untold, furling out in
your future dreams

The Door Opens

so the door opens, color
upon color revealed, line
upon line intersecting finely,
cool geometries and supple
curves to enchant the eye

all along the majestic river,
the rainbow colors furl out in
a variety of forms and
methodologies, catalogued
neatly in black and white

the sinuous forms and the
straightedged, the bleak and
the blooming set forth alongside
this engine of industry ever flowing
past, through the green and rock

framing rushing water, bearing us
all towards our end, mooring,
for a moment, at this shore
before we are away again


now shelved, the glossy sheen
of her finish reflects the faces

who gaze upon the fineness of her lines, her comrades,
the broken vessels, recall their

daily use, containing water, wine,
oil, grain

celebrated for their usefulness,
for what would come forth

from the hollow of their beings,
some warmth, some sustenance,

some relief after the beating of
the sun, searing, upon their heads,

sighing, now, the sherds are envious of
their celebrated sister, whispering once,

once, we were, we were, we were, as you

Who is She?

and who is she, writing upon
walls, the words streeling,
lopsided, until they drop

down to the floor and run
off to the street, capitals
and lowercase alike, the

signage liberated so that
all the words mingle and
rearrange themselves into

fresh paragraphs to assault the
eyes with their sheer audacity,
verbs upon nouns, towering

adjectives, large looming adverbs,
shot through with flashes of
color, ribbons of scarlet, splotches

of mustard yellow, cadmium blue,
rushing out to form hasty
manifestos of art for
art's sake

forget the grocery list and
the absence note, the
letter to the editor, tonight

the words will gambol like
Blake's lambs, innocent, free
to say
whatever they will

Blank Canvas

we'll start with a blank canvas
and work from there, each
twisting of the wrist bringing
forth some new nuance
to wonder over

the tints, mixed, so, to match
your eyes, the shading of light
and dark in your smile,
the unequal mixing of talent

and aspiration--you set out
to make a table, and, somehow,
end up with a chair

nonetheless, it is a good chair--
you will rest on it and witness
myriad sunsets, the colors woven
through them like threads, the
ends broken off with the grinding
of one tooth upon another