Monday, December 6, 2010


The day's long past that I've expected less--
I think it's time I expected more.
It may be what my expecting is for--
And I will learn by love to strengthen it.

I am pissed by my expect-less days,
smitten by an expect-less craze,
compromising my loves and hates to fit.
"Procrustian" is what I make of it--
but you could call it cutting my heart out
to spite my place.

I want something better.
I want something made right.
I want change, and more of it, and faster,
and still, I want everyone to feel the change until--

a lot of words get unsaid
and wounds unwound. And hope that was fallen
gets refound. I want starbursts of passionate
adoration for the different and careful
listening for the silenced and the hope
that their voices find a gain,
a verb, a reverb--a DOING!
And that the inscrutable gets a good unscrewing.

I want that thing-a safer place,
a human kindness informed by grace,
A human face enchanted with the beauty
of, say a great, comfortable pair of boots,
and not, for example, a boot stepping on a human face.

I want accountability and respect!
I want personhood, selfhood, privacy, and how!
And still openness, the end to shame, the knowledge
that understanding people will somehow
understand. And not judge until they've walked
not one mile but two--

or three,

or a dozen!

I expect more! I have to, I'm broken for it--
all in, passionately hoping we find Eden again--
and if there's an angel with a sword, guarding the gate--

well, I have a teaspoon.

An angel? A sword?

Whevs. I expected MORE!

(inspired by Shakesville)

It is not yet an Elegy

It is not yet an elegy,
but I can feel the themes gather,
the muse calls, the baleful
light falls across the keys
of my instrument, and I type--
But it isn't yet an elegy.

You live, for one, and I can't,
for another, imagine you gone--
a reality that battles back the
themes of mortality,
skews the dying light
to cast about in a certain corner--

What did we call it?

And that was mother of the thought
I had of you, being mortal,
and your mortality,
that it should not be rung as an elegy,
but tragedy,

that flesh is tragic,
that loss is tragic,
that we are all flawed like this, which is tragic,
and most tragic of all--
that something still within you stands
passionate, connected,
full of life--

and also full of dying.
Unthinkable. These two competing strains--
I dare not call it an elegy,
no. This dissonance haunts my
instrument, chastens me,
forbids me to wreathe you in
laurel or flowers, makes me honest--

but doesn't make me accept.
I have knowledge of what you are, alive.
I can not take knowledge of you finished,

~Jennifer Paviglianiti (12/6/2010)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Protest Song

(It lacks a proper melody, but there is a call and response that actually sets up the rhythm--suitable for marching.)

How long?

(Not long.) 4X

How long will some people be so
self- satisfied,
that they've pushed to keep
other people down?

How long will they keep
holding back the tide?
Do their arms get tired
As they push to keep
other people down?

How long?

(Not long.) 4X

How long will they make it
a source of their pride
That they fought to keep
other people down?

How long will they teach
their children--
that it was right,
pushing other people down?

How long?

(Not long.) 4X

Did they think no one kept track
of they hate that they spread,
and no one kept track
of all their lies?

There's a book where there's written
everything that they've said,
and one day they will need to

It has lead to their ruin,
all the hate they were spewing,
as they pushed to keep
other people down.

How long?

(Not long.)

How long?

(Not long.)

Would you fight to keep
other people down?

Monday, October 4, 2010

This one isn't mine but Kenneth Rexroth--

whose poems I truly like. They ring the bell. Starbursts. Mouth your own cliched metaphor for liking someone else's poetry and see how it feels in your mouth. A little like you ought to rinse and spit, am I right? I steals the copy from this link, because you must know I am too lazy to type all that my ownself.


I don’t mind the human race.
I’ve got pretty used to them
In these past twenty-five years.
I don’t mind if they sit next
To me on streetcars, or eat
In the same restaurants, if
It’s not at the same table.
However, I don’t approve
Of a woman I respect
Dancing with one of them. I’ve
Tried asking them to my home
Without success. I shouldn’t
Care to see my own sister
Marry one. Even if she
Loved him, think of the children.
Their art is interesting,
But certainly barbarous.
I’m sure, if given a chance,
They’d kill us all in our beds.
And you must admit, they smell.

Which is awful because it's true and I think if he lived now he'd have a blog, don't you? I once thought I learned two incredibly important things from literature--the first was that all people are equally useless from the jump. The second is that we are all equally dignified. What matters is how we employ our dignity. But part of the biggest stupidity humans fall prey to is dividing people up into race-this and gender-that. Here he just lumps the whole of humanity into the "to be hated" pile, employing all the cliches of bigotry. And suddenly, if you're included--don't you want to defend yourself? And any others under the broad umbrella of the human race?

It's crafty. I like it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Nursery Rhyme on Bullying--if one might be Needed

You want to teach your son how to be a man?
Teach him to be himself, if he can,
and then listen for the ways he'll show you how
he is who he is, and if somehow,
he's not the man of your expectations--
Is he at least good? Then the situation
is that you've raised a good person and that's the key;
they don't have to be what you expect them to be.
They just have to make it--stay alive--
Because life can be awesome for those who survive.

But truth is, the world can be a bad place for sons,
and daughters too, expecially the ones
who develop early or happen to find
they have an attraction for their own kind--
So start out early, and right out of the gate,
explain to them they're too good for hate.
And the people who would want to hurt them are wrong--
and that those minds are weak but love is strong.

And don't teach your children to be cruel,
there's still gold in the Golden Rule--
they shouldn't call names and they shouldn't throw fists,
they shouldn't name targets and they shouldn't make lists--

(Should a bullseye be on their back, too?
Would that thing be okay with you?)

And they should be respectful and appreciate others--
That's the goal, fathers and mothers,
Showing them how to be themselves and real
while respecting how other people feel
will make them strong and keep them true,
and they will come back with rewards for you--
or not, because they're only human,
but at least you didn't harm or doom them.

And always tell them that things get better,
even if you suspect they don't always do,
and maybe they'll believe it down to the letter
because it will count if it comes from you.
And if they don't even believe it themselves
they might be moved to come to you.
Because they want to see in your eyes that it's true.

And it does, it does get better, kids grow up and out!
And the world makes more sense and seems more sane
now they're old enough to know what they're about
and their old foes aren't there to give them pain--
and your kids seem better and even free--
Not maybe exactly who you thought they'd be,
but here, and loved, and make no doubt,
lives can be rich when they are lived Out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Place Where a Rock is Commemorated-or any other missile.

Resentment should begin at home--
why should it atart at some faraway setting?
The sideward glance and the flare of green
are home truths rustling in the backyard
of your imagination--
So why place it there?


Why not center it here--
your neighbor and their muzzein
the call to prayer mingling with
church bell call, with its tasteful
jingle of "Amazing Grace"?

How do you face the world knowing
that two, or three, or a dozen faiths
contend, in this very nation--
and custom and Constitution claim
no preference for any?
Meaning no
preference for yours?
(If any.)
Do you pause there, entranced
by the variety of beliefs?
Do you dance on the head of a pin?
Or do you draw back, spent,
recognize the ultimate
reality is that your standard is--

but only one contending. But as for
these other contending voices--
their creed:

Resentment should begin at home,
aquaintance brings these sufferings,
and hearts are only good for strings,
that can be pulled towards anything.
And if that thing be bitterness,
and the others' gross exclusion,
let us come to this conclusion--and
spit a little hate in everything.

But were that sentiment too vicious,
this then, the kinder thing,
the truth that I would mean to say:

Bigotry is wasteful in every way,
and is not a rest for those who seek peace
but a stumbling block to perspective.

That's the missing link--

And as for practice, does hate want
a face to punch,
or a house to ransack?

Does hope want a
place to land?
Isn't the lack of a welcome
the grievous foe
of those who just want understanding--

Think about that, then, please,
We hate so often by degrees,
and singe mere humans with
bad intent. Our lives then seem
much better spent
accepting and not othering.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Inexorable as the tides, the tomb.

My patient lover waits.
I'll meet her at the city gates,
though the old folks say "Too soon."
But they don't know my heart
or how it strives to ruin
me with fear before I see her.

I will wear my best vest for the day
that I am thrown into Her arms.
Her charms have long beguiled me,
so I am sure to be prepared.
I've lingered in the town square,
for a glimpse of Her face.

My old friends will cling with
loving hands, but know I'll not be stalled,
and Mother has known about this day--
she might suspect that I've been called
by the way I am more thoughtful, now.
I know she even knows Her name.

I'm unafraid of anything--but my fear,
and conscious of nothing but my Love.
I long, I lust, my passion like fire,
like hate that has nowhere to go--like
a kind of madness about fate! But
I have to seek Her out to know.

And will she love me back? The whore?
The desperate ghost that haunts my dreams--
perhaps She isn't all she seems;
although Her arms surround me and Her voice
like a dove....She's been with many,
And they are gone. She slaughters memories.

How long would it last?
How long? Before She calls out to another?
But I'm a fool if I don't go. And maybe--
maybe I will be the one. The one so true,
even her lips will crave none but mine,
and her hands seek only my skin alone--

So to the gates I go! I'll miss
you all, but this is what I'd planned
long before I learned to be a man.
My destiny always was Her arms,
her fortune, always mine to see--
What other thing would you have me be?

There is nothing but her
for one like me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Tenuous is what I think I'd call
the grip any of us have
On reality; we reside in thrall
to sense-perceptions after all,
filtered through a primate brain
to which our symbolic fetish
is new as fire, sudden as rain,
and because of that, we easily
the creation of taboos and
sacred things,
the hallowings of ground
and the rings
of a Venn diagram would not
easily show those borders of
sacred spaces and
the acceptable places for our
we are too enamoured as yet
with the get of our
made into existence with words.
And if we say our is
makes oughts--


So it does, as we
are primitive architects
as yet, cave-dwelling, and
words confuse, creating forms
in spaces mental and emotional--
and so the devotional space of
intrudes on the wounded place
of another,
but brother,
this isn't about your pain,
but a recognition--


That we might make things right
with the words we have
and make our symbol new,
and what pain was ever borne of
hate, with love, could
be remade true.

And we accept that we don't own
all our pain, not
when it is shared,
and wounded hearts heal
when we understand
what separates the fallen
from the spared--

one thread cut off,
one yet woven
into the complexity of time and space,
and time does not erase the memory
of the missing,
but the reality of the living
is to accept the buffeting of fate:

we all are sliding to the tomb, but
we need not linger at its gate.
Let new life bloom and connections form,
lets let ourselves relate--

before it is too late.
Before it is too late.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Body Political

I awoke
to find myself political.
My skin was political,
as if I were papered over with
the Sunday Times.
My face was political,
whether I showed it off
or kept it veiled.
And I saw my hair was political,
whether I cut it off,
or kept it long,
or let it be natural,
or did it up.
And my tongue was political
no matter how I kept it--
working or still.
And then there was my voice!
(That, I always did suspect
might be a little political,
you know.)
All I said was political, or
if I sang,
even if I said nothing,
and sang nothing.
That was political, too.
Political body:
political breasts,
political belly, political hips--
and no, those politics did not
stop you know where.
And this understanding has moved my
political feet,
do you get me?
I awoke
and found myself, political--
so that's just how
I'll be.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The World is Broken

The world is broken, so it goes,
imperfectly round and madly off-kilter;
running hot and cold, and wet and dry,
the earth is not a place for life
lived too conservatively,
oh no,
it's for life on the edge,
the fringe, it rewards
the strange and the beautiful,
and it embraces the freaks and the
that would have been occluded shines
in a broken world,
and this is a pleasant thing to find,
I myself being somewhat
broken. And strange.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Little Things

The little things that aren't kind,
you mind.
It's not the big things, really,
no--you could face a disaster
without a hair out of place,
but the lightbulb blew,
or the pilot went out,
or the door wasn't locked--
that thing threw
your day. And then you knew
the bottled fear that the payment
was due--for a moment.
The little thing could have been
nothing, or maybe the penultimate straw
before the fracture of the
dromedary's spine;
and yet the breech in your mind
is such, that little thing though
this setback was--you wonder.
A little thing?
A little thing a lot,
and that is probably a description
of everyone's experience,

Friday, July 2, 2010

And washed our hands of it

Mistakes were made,
choices settled themselves by committees
who picked up the choices that fell to hand,
carrying out the important business,
the work that should have been done,
that could have been done
that became quite undone in advance,
due to the importance of the task
set before us, so we thought
consequences were bound to arise but
they were merely byproducts of
the dumb dead albatross these stupid
circumstances wreathed around our necks
and so we dropped the chemical
to the tune of many, many, many barrels,
to undermine the flow of our
of course, some are never pleased,
the turtle-lovers, the sand scrapers,
the people who weep at any pelican
or baby dolphin
or whale, smothered.

Unbelievable, these people,
to accept that the deed is done
and there's no use crying over spilled crude.
really, that they'd expect more than what we're doing--
but what will come?
aren't we only men?

(Unless you mean--aren't we gods?
With dirty hands and dirty feet--
yet we can wash the dirt away.
And still not know the future.)

Unnatural as it may be,
we're deeply apologetic,
and we won't be doing anything like this again
on any of our other rigs,


This is a poetry blog.

I know that's weird. Poetry and blogging--meh? But I used to write poetry on a regular basis: some of it crap, some of it I'd like to think not especially crappy. But it isn't a form that always communicates an exact message, which is usually the point of blogging. I don't know exactly what I want from this blog, except to write in a way entirely different from what I do in prose, and get back in the poetry habit.

Also, publishing my poetry via the internet is a liberating idea to me. I jot down ideas or lines often, discard things often, save little. But if I do a poem as a blog-post, it's like I've fixed it in amber in a way. I guess if I really hated something, I could delete the post, but it's more effort than tossing out a shopping list with a haiku on the back, you know? But at the same time, I'm self-publishing. I guess that means I'm saying--here's my stuff: judge.

Well, there it is. Here's my stuff: judge.