Talking Boats

After reading Robinson Jeffer’s play, Medea, in college, I had always wanted to write about Jason. As a hero, he needed a lot of help from Medea. And when he was done with his tasks, he dropped her for a pretty blonde princess and a more conventional life, being a king, raising children. The first attempt at a poem involved a washed up Jason sitting in a bar when Medea happens to walk in. This poem started in college and got some revision later, but it’s an old poem, the equivalent of that college paper that you thought was brilliant. I think I do a few things better now. I can see Medea’s point of view more. She wasn’t just the temptress I put in my poem. I’ve included that old unpublished poem below.


Jason at 50

Am I drunk and dreaming?
Is it you, Medea,
Come for me at last?
I could lie and tell you
the past doesn’t matter.
That I gave up my regrets
like my sword and shield.
But you know,
your legs still bewitch.
You put on the satin skirt
flaming around your hips.
You painted your eyelids
the cool green of sea.
Is it still my fault?
How many men and women
have you left that question?
Let Euripides drink donkey piss.
Anyone who has danced
in your web knows.
Have you come to tell me
you saved a son after all?
That he waits to avenge
the gray streak in your hair?
Don’t bother. I’ve lost
a brood since then.
Have you come to see
what lust can shake up
in these old bones?
Will your magic make me
a great unhappy man again?


*Putting an unpublished poem in a blog is like driving it to the vet to be put to sleep. It means that poem will go no further.

Some people roll their eyes at poems based on Greek myths. I like writing them. Using myth gives me enough emotional distance to be honest with myself. After one more poem on the myth from an unnamed crewman, I decided to read more about it. I read the Wikipedia entry on Jason and the Argonauts. I downloaded the Argonautica to my Nook. From that I learned that the myth was a little like an action movie. It was loaded with the stars, the heroes of the day. For example, Hercules and Orpheus were on the Argo until they found better adventures along the way. This time the crewman had a name, Hylas. He disappeared like the guys in red shirts on Star Trek. I’ve included a link below.

Poor Hylas | Jason Primm

The other important thing I learned from the further reading was that the ship talked. I imagined that when the men slept, early or late, Jason and the Argo would talk. The poem is from the point of view of the ship, years after all the glory chasing. It’s a very long poem. I am so pleased that Light/Water published it. See link below.





The Fly

This morning I am treating myself to a wicked mocha and a chocolate croissant from Jacque Torres. It’s summer in the city. I get a light sweat going in the mornings walking to and from the train. Then a clammy feeling when I hit the air conditioning of my job. So many boundaries being crossed, family me, alone me, read on the subway me, hot me, cold me, look at the river out the window me, sigh me before summoning a bit of discipline and getting some work done.  Recently I watched The Fly with my eleven year old daughter. The result was this poem which the good folk at pioneertown just published.

The Fly


One coffee shop, one bug, and one imaginary kingdom poem

You can peel back the surface of most of my poems and find me sitting at a coffee shop. In the poems, it’s a tiny version of me at a tiny coffee shop with crumb size pastries and a thimble full of coffee. A few of the poems have tiny bars behind them with incredibly small machines that pour draft beer.

Here are links to some new poems at Palaver and Juxtaprose Magazine:


Two Poems in the Columbia College Literary Review

I have two new poems in the Columbia College Literary Review. In addition to my two poems, one of which is about an Aquarium Diver figurine, there is a poem in the shape of a bathysphere. I didn’t know this until recently, but I kinda like shaped poems.

This journal actually edited the poems. They were interested in three, published two and helped another one.  The link is below in case you want to buy a copy or submit work to them.

The Columbia College Literary Review

New Poem in Rust + Moth

This poem started when I had a discussion with a friend about poet crushes. He said he had one for a while on Deborah Warren. If you don’t know her work, it’s great. She writes formal poems that don’t strain to fulfill their forms. I really enjoyed her book, Zero Meridian. That discussion made me realize that I had a poet crush on Elizabeth Bishop. The crush has now gone on for decades. I took the address from a book of Bishop letters that I was reading. The contemporary poet that I saw by accident at a friend’s reading shall remain nameless. The more that I have read of her, the more I feel guilty about a few of the lines.

45 King Street

Inscription in a Richard Brautigan Book


The inscription was written  on the first page above the blurbs:


Welcome to Brautigan. This is mind-funk. Enjoy. Thanks for being you. Keep hoisting them dark pints! 



The paperback is a bind up of Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar. I found it in Brooklyn on Prospect Park West between Prospect Ave and Windsor on Jan. 3. This was a day when people get back into town from their Holiday travels and try to make room for new stuff. There was a small pile of books, so Death had been busy on Brian’s bookshelves.

For non-New Yorkers, here is some context (apparently lots of people in America don’t live in New York). Space is extremely precious in Brooklyn. Books are space hogs. People often put books out on the curb and then other book-suckers pick them up.  Read them or not, they may end up out on the street again, most likely right before or even during a move, part of a slow moving sea of books traded anonymously. If we all lived in big houses in the suburbs, we would just keep them.

Despite the wishes of the M. of the inscription, Brian did the worst thing that you can do to a gifted book. He put it out on the curb. But why? And who are these people?

It is addressed to “Brian.” Just “Brian.” The writer could have helped. Had it started with a “Dearest” or a “Beloved,” we would know for sure that their bonds were of the flesh. Had the Brian been cut with a “Hi” or a “Hey Knucklehead,” we would know that these were friends. Just “Brian,” lends a weight. But what kind of weight? Lover, Former Lover, Mentor, Boss, Parent?

The first two sentences make me lean towards a mentor relationship:

Welcome to Brautigan. This is mind-funk. Enjoy.

It also has a kind of pushiness. I own this writer. This work was mine and now I’m giving it to you. Notice the hyphen in “mind-funk.” This is a performance. Then M. goes on to tell Brian what to do: “Enjoy.” Nobody likes to be told what to do. Imagine we were in a bar together and I turned to you and said, “I command you to breathe and drink your beer.” You would probably think, What an asshole, as you took breath and drank beer.

There is nothing worse than the mentor who tries to mentor the unwilling. I may have been guilty of this in the past.

The next line pushes the scale back towards a romantic relationship, “Thanks for being you.” But a particular kind. This line sounds like a consolation prize for a relationship not had. Something that the lover who thought better of it all would tell you. With that reading in mind, the next line is heartbreaking:

Keep hoisting them dark pints!

Forget that I said this person was bossy. This inscription strikes the right note of camaraderie. A little roughened grammar, a great verb. This is the right way to drink. If you actually get to sleep with the person that you hoist “them” dark pints with, you are doing very well in this lifetime.

We should all hoist while we can, because one day, it won’t be hoisting. That beer stein will be bailing out a sinking ship, one mind-numbing drink after another. This inscription was written twenty-three years ago. Maybe Brian is there already. Maybe the memories soured on this friend, or this lover, or on this self, not because it was a bad self, but because that self can’t be recaptured. Or maybe he didn’t like the book that much and only kept it because of the inscription. There was a dog-eared corner at page 93. The corner could have been marking a favorite passage or be the place that he shut the book forever.

The writer of the inscription signs off with an initial and a period. The M. needs no explanation for Brian. The self evident M. would never imagine that he or she could be forgotten. That  Winter day may have finally come.

As far as the book goes, I’m with M.. I’m having a good time reading it.

ps. Brian, Brian between Prospect Ave and Windsor, if you happen to read this and you have changed your mind, maybe you forgot the inscription was in there, maybe M. just called, maybe you ran into someone that knew you both and you had a long talk about old times over a whiskey, maybe you got it all wrong, maybe you misunderstood a whole decade, Brain, you can have Trout Fishing in America back. Don’t wait too long. When I move, I might have to put it out on the curb.

2 New Poems at The Manhattanville Review

I had this thought that I shouldn’t just post the link, that somehow that isn’t enough for a blog post. On the last blog post about a publicaton, I talked too much about how I wrote the poems. I preened a bit. Poets are the worst. The Byronic guy with flowing sleeves and a dashing way with anything that touches his hands (foils, women, forks, corkscrews, wooden tennis racquets) doesn’t exist in this body. The Byronic ego is there though. If I am at a dinner party and someone says that they are a poet, I run. If you are at a dinner party with me and I mention that I’m a poet, don’t run. I’m really a deep and fascinating guy as evidenced by the poems at the link below.