Tag Archives: poetry

Poem: “I Shall Make My Soul Dance”

Now shall I make my soul dance,
stir it to twisting delirium,
this wreck of a body I’ll lift
on high.

A violent luck and embellished instruction
to no more quaint suffering
than a bowl of soup
for strained throat which howled at life
like a mutt chasing cars.

Though our bones mingle,
and my fingers quake,
this is how I shall make my soul
and preach furious chance—
even on Saturdays,
even when god sleeps,
even when the sun dies.

That’s when I shall make my soul dance.


Five Black Lashes

Five black lashes

on a face lapped by rivers;

Hands that have coupled in prayer

and held sin as acorns.


Flowers grow in the most foolish soil,

under windows shuttered like dead



Five black lashes

on a face bitter to logic,

tap-danced to dull marble.





Oil and Filter

“How did the operation go?

Were they able to reconnect

your carburetor and replace your

spark plugs?

And what about that lump you found

in your glove compartment?

Was that as benign as the feelings

about your last mechanic?

You know I try to keep up with the intricacies

of your oil changes and birth control


but sometimes I get too caught up

in my favorite T.V. shows.

Do you think they’ll ever turn

reality programming into true horror

snuff films?

Just last night I saw a condom commercial

followed by a tampon commercial

followed by a car commercial

and I found myself unable to tell the difference.

I think we have discussed where I stand on this,

but do you think there is anything

beyond blood, semen, and motor oil?”



A Great Conspiracy

Declined to their own rubric,

overreaching, overriding, reclining

in no-brainers,

joint-strike borders;

divining biblical no-fly zones


Oppressed by philosophical incest

and snacking on corn syrup passages

of annexed text


As leaves fall,

temperatures lower,

belly fat is increased:

padding for pudding.

Democratic credentials

turned obsolete

by evangelicals in Idaho,

in Wyoming, North Dakota,

with bubblegum brains and licorice fingers,

thumbing noses out of habit,

beating breasts like rabid baboons;

red asses raised like flags.


Sometimes life is an exhibition game

played by blind quarterbacks,

and millions of birds suicide bomb

the ocean playing field of Boise State

or the dusty floor of Palestine.


But after all: trust not your feelings,

trust only what is thought for you

by used car salesmen posing

as god’s henchmen,

selling eight passenger yaks

or cardboard Silverados:

high-ho, indeed!


Remember when John Wayne ethnic-cleansed

the crusty Injuns,

and hold aloft your touchdown



“Hello Means Goodnight”

My house is an ellipse–

a home without an edge.

I’m keen to bark at my girl’s heels,

lick her kneeballs,

cradle her love ladle…

whatever the case may be.

Chicken scrap dinner table barters

if I’m a good boy.

Or I thumb through her underpants catalogue

where sex is sold solidly two dimensional

and comes with a free tote bag.

Internal rhyme is a crime of fashion,

taken out of context like a hairpiece,

a hex-feast of grab bag vernacular

rotting in my brain.

I’m bored of curves and wet crevices;

I’m tired of weddings,

of funerals,

of funnel cakes,

of crock pot beef,

and of caring about fleece sales

and programming the T.V.

to record feats of anorexic


collagen collages in high def.

(Definitely no more absolutes)

Tired of underused basement stairs

and credit card bills,

always credit card bills.

I don’t dream of colonized children

hanging from my limbs like Spanish moss.

I’m putting her heart in a bag

and hailing a cab from the front porch.


A Birthday for Bly

Call and Answer

Tell me why it is we don’t lift our voices these days
And cry over what is happening. Have you noticed
The plans are made for Iraq and the ice cap is melting?

I say to myself: “Go on, cry. What’s the sense
Of being an adult and having no voice? Cry out!
See who will answer! This is Call and Answer!”

We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.

Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t
Escape from silence? If we don’t lift our voices, we allow
Others (who are ourselves) to rob the house.

How come we’ve listened to the great criers—Neruda,
Akhmatova, Thoreau, Frederick Douglass—and now
We’re silent as sparrows in the little bushes?

Some masters say our life lasts only seven days.
Where are we in the week? Is it Thursday yet?
Hurry, cry now! Soon Sunday night will come. 

-Robert Bly

[August 2002]



Brief Words Are Hard to Find


                                                                              Image: Ugly Smile   

Recipe For Happiness In Khabarovsk Or Anyplace 

One grand boulevard with trees

with one grand café in sun

with strong black coffee in very small cups


One not necessarily very beautiful

man or woman who loves you


One fine day

                         -Lawrence Ferlinghetti



Here’s a yummy dance tune that I suggest listening to when the sun is down:


From Shot Callin’

An Ancient Chemical Prophesy

Image: Detail from mural found at San Bartolo, Guatemala  
     The end ghost which I saw
while I gazed into the God-Nose
came dancing from his water grave:
     a Quetzalcoatl Jesus.
Ayahuasca messages scrawled on ancient synapses,
a fracture in the cliffside silence,
whispered blood stolen from orchids.
     The bones of a dead race
and the vines on which they hung
became a virgin dance in the lapse of structure.
No–allegro con brio,
a pattern folding over on itself,
back in,
as I saw the devil bird resting
on San Pedro Cacti
     cawing destruction.
–Chris Piercy

Dead Horse Beat

Image: Eugène Atget. (French, 1857-1927). Magasin, avenue des Gobelins. 1925. Gelatin silver printing-out-paper print, 8 1/4 x 6 1/2″ (21 x 16.7 cm). Abbott-Levy Collection. Partial gift of Shirley C. Burden
When the lights go down
we can sing to the beat of a dead horse
Talk of trees
with roots deeper than our pulse
Paint blue fingerprints
across white paper
Return to inhale
the carbon emissions of lost time
Take apart stereos
to exorcise the noise made
when your mother died
-Christopher Piercy