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poems, etc.

work in progress: "i am feeling american"

This occurred to me as I was walking back to the subway Tuesday night. I
have been catching up on my Transcendentalists, Emerson and Whitman, while
I'm here.


look out nihon
i am feeling american
i have been reading whitman

i will take the love of your women
yes, and that of your men too
i will take it not as theft but as tribute
it is freely given. i cannot refuse it

i am feeling american, more american than in a long while
reconnected as i read whitman
beware japan
i will take the steps two at a time in your train stations
i will but gesture in your taverns, and glasses will shatter

February 18th Zeldas: a dozen little poetry projects

This is an exercise based on "Twenty Little Poetry Projects" from our usual text, "The Practice of Poetry". We had four people there and each contributed three little "projects", things to put in a poem, for a dozen total.

1. use a color under many names

cloudy perlescent smoky indeterminate

2. describe an emotion

left him feeling like an empty cup, full of possibility, light, ready to hold anything the cosmos might poor into him

heart singing, like Bugs Bunny,

3. use a sentence that bugs bunny might use

carrots are divine, you get a dozen for a dime, it's magic

4. reach for french vanilla in your thoughts

Feb 11 Zelda's Inferno

exercise: an alphabet list

Alley behind my parent's house
Baseball games with ghost runners, my brother and I
Car coming down, time out!
Double if it went into the yard with the pool
Equal, me older, but my brother more athletic
Fencepost over there, third base
Gloves, oiled leather, breaking them in, the smell
Here is the true game, in alleys and lots and schoolyards, not in stadiums
Infield fly rule, Talmudic mysteries of the baseball rulebook
Jim, my brother, my opponent, my playmate, the strange relation of brothers
K, the scorer's symbol for a strikeout
Line drive over my brother's head, him turning to chase it up the alley

February 4th Zelda's exericse

At Zelda's - missed first exerfcise, busy ripping hole in the living room wall for the satellite cable. It was to write a five stanza poem, with one for each of the five senses.


exercise 2: wordlist, on the theme: music
/guitar /emotion treble harmony pitch melody comfort /catharsis visions dance /tension /colors /sharp /crescendo /voice

seeking catharsis of sharp emotion
voice rises in a sharp SCREAM
let it out through the throat
instead of taking up a sharp blade
to let it out through the skin

tension builds like tightening a guitar string
until something must either snap or be cut

Jan 28st Zelda's exercises

First exercise: "Extrapolations". Given a set of objects (what I had in my bag: a pair of scissors, a Chicago Transit Authority card, a big glass marble, two green rubber bands, a set of plasticware, and a digital camera), describe the room from which all these things came.

the table by the window is covered with photos, torn magazine pages, x-acto knives and razor blades and a few different sizes of scissors
all scattered on a cutting board
a camera on top of a stack of prints
on the corner of the table a clear plastic clamshell salad container, dried French dressing crusting it and the white plastic knife and fork, soaked in to the c

have a Load of Fun with Tom Swiss, February 2

Will the poet/singer/songwriter see his shadow and be frightened back into his hole, signifying a long winter? Will he be stuck living the same day over and over again? Will Brigid, muse of the poets, visit him on this old Celtic holy day of Imbolc?

Probably not, but come find out at a night of music and poetry - A Load of Poetry, in fact, from the fine folks at, on Friday February 2nd, 8 pm, at:

Load of Fun Gallerie
120 W. North Avenue (in the Station North arts district)

featuring words and tunes by yours truly, Tom Swiss. Open mic follows.

Zelda's Inferno, January 21

First exercise: "Block,Pillar, Slab, and Beam". write a poem in which you build or take apart something

I wasn't there when he put it up
Nor when it was taken down
But I imagine him happy putting it up, a hale man in his sixties putting up a swing set for his grandsons
Sinking thick steel tubes into the ground, angled brackets holding them together
A screwdriver, a wrench, pliers in his hands as he marked and filled space with the frame, hung the chains to make the function
(I think about how he picked out the location, sun and shade, trees and garden)

I think that frame was still up (swings and chains long gone) when I graduated college, my brother high school

Edgar Allan Poe's birthday visitor

There are certainly things about Baltimore that I don't like: murder, heroin addiction, blocks of boarded-up houses. But any city where for 58 years, someone has come the grave of a writer to leave a mysterious tribute, well, can't be all bad.

When it became clear that the Poe Toaster had arrived, and placed a half-empty bottle of cognac and three red roses on Poe's grave, the crowd rushed to one entrance to get a glimpse.

Jan 14th Zelda's Inferno exercise

Sunday's Zelda's Inferno exercises:

1)"Texas hold 'em" with a "universe deck". A universe deck is a set of cards, each with a word. "Texas hold 'em" is a poker game where some card are shared in everyone's hand, and everyone also has their own individual "hole" cards. ("Hole" is probably not the right word, technically; sorry, I'm not a big-time card shark.) The exercise: use the dealt words in a poem.

shared words: spirit bite rumbling hot
hole: green floating melody

the green spirit of spring arises early
fooled by the hot January, robins and geese return months ahead of schedule

Kagami Biraki, shiatsu class, this week's Zelda's, and topological romance

Did my "Shiatsu for friends and family" class today - it went quite well, had 12 people come by. Apparently that's the most so far for a workshop at the Well. Yesterday was Kagami Biraki at the dojo, special New Year's class - started with 1,000 punches and went from there. Yes, I'm sore. And that's not helped by still having my car window busted out (note to all: do not take your car to Russel Automotive for any sort of work) and having to crawl in from the passenger's side, since the driver's side door is all taped up.


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