How to Form a “We.”

How to Form a “We.”

The Buddha in the Attic
The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. 2011

In Julie Otsuka’s beautiful novel, The Buddha in the Attic, the narrator is a crowd, an us, a swarm of voices we want to listen to, because it’s truly an Everyone, and the voice is a poem. She speaks for them, as them, as a people, and as individual women who once shared a voyage from Japan to America as mail-order brides soon after WWI. There are shocks and surprises, radical disappointments and disillusionment along the way, but Otsuka’s incantatory prose moves us and moves the book swiftly forward, even though we want to dwell with this new “we” longer. Much longer. . . . Read more. “How to Form a “We.””

Floating in my Tin Can

Floating in my Tin Can


NASA Icebridge Project

Live for today?
This may be among the most pressing
Questions of the era
Given the fires the seas the melting ice caps

Why is it so profoundly important?

Because I said so
That’s why

And because I just said that
You stopped reading
Most likely
Which leads to our next proposal:

Dance sing play the drums
Piano Guitar Bass
Like it’s the End of the World
Like no one is watching

While being cleverly

So that they don’t care
But they do

So that while they’re whirling dervishes
In front of us
Dionysian in front of us
They realize something way down deep

In their guts
In their DNA

We’re just passing through
We’re going to pass on
We’re going to be forgotten
All of us

As a species

Unless we
Unless we sing dance play music
As One as a Species as a People
Who really like four temperate seasons

A Box a Bundle a Triptych of Poems

A Box a Bundle a Triptych of Poems

Slouching Closer to First Sins


She sat on a universal
A universal space and time
Not of her making

It was hers by right
And everyone knew it

Many decades later
Some would call this
Into question


Decades after that
Aggressively and with anger

They would question the universal

They would question the idea
That anyone can really see anything
From anywhere

Without all but nullifying
What they see



The stain of being human

But she was dead
Long dead
And laughed six feet under



The Ghost in the Mirror


The judgment of Paris
Or Detroit
Or Dubai
Is hubris in search of

The tauntingly absurd
In search of
The stunningly tone deaf

As in
The most human thing in the world

We are forever belated
And that endears us to the gods

Just like the dead
The woman from before
The one six feet under

Know this feel this smell this
In all encounters
With a Sapien’s vision of itself
Its vain preoccupations served up

On ice-cold platters

We struggle for acceptance
Based on ideals so new
So precarious
So devoid of sustainability

The winds howl with derision
And call us fickle

I want to find a pre-Freudian
Enclave garden jungle bridge
Where no one has seen us

Secure against further partitions
En solidaritĂ© march on!! . . . Read more. “A Box a Bundle a Triptych of Poems”

An Artistic Life Needs no Explanation

An Artistic Life Needs no Explanation

It’s so clear to me now
Like the crunch of frozen snow
And the cuts it makes
When we don’t wear shoes

It’s so obvious to me now
Like the hurling infrastructure
Of crestfallen waves that seem
Desperate to put us in our place

There can be no direct communication
There can be no epiphany via words

Only images
And sounds
And wounded flesh
Get through to us

And even they struggle
To make a lasting dent
In our move-along minds
Our blithe embodiments

Such were my thoughts
Before she rose from the sea
And walked out of the waves
As if she were a goddess

Helpless baffled frozen
In space
Though the sun pounded down
On all things everywhere

Like the last fire
The whole world aflame

I managed to say
Or let slip
Or mumble
I love you

Context is a poem

The Sheer Unabashed Misery of Speculative Fiction

The Sheer Unabashed Misery of Speculative Fiction

It’s a common theme among
Certain kinds of philosophers
That life would have no meaning
If it never ended

Well, it’s not common, really;
It’s rarely ever brought up,
To be frank
Or Celt for that matter

I see things in a different way,
And always have
Due to my double helix
Glasses, tilted raffishly to one side

So I dissent
And dissent again
Which is to say
I pour another whiskey

Getting a drop or two inside
The snifter or me

It’s understandable to consider
An endless life as endlessly meaningless
Though I’d at least like to give it a try
— Not as I am now, of course

I’d have to be young, hale and hearty like a god
Or what’s the blooming pint? . . . Read more. “The Sheer Unabashed Misery of Speculative Fiction”

The Purpose of Life is Life

The Purpose of Life is Life

Everything is ex
There is no why

We don’t have a clue
We don’t have a rationale

Beyond bad or good or great

This is how we survive
This is where it takes place

My store of knowledge
Is on East Main Street

So the Thought Police usually
Leave me alone


There is strength in numbers
Fewer than twenty

More than that and we have
Problems and they

They always investigate

Big numbers
Big figures

Big loops and swirls
And counterfactuals

Golden means of production . . .

They also tend to
Giggle at Fibonacci

When they see the name
In Nature and beyond

I hide them in the back
So the Thought Police

Never see them
I hate the way they laugh


Spiral Staircases, or It Pays to Reread

Spiral Staircases, or It Pays to Reread

Up in the mountains a man wrote a novel. It was set by the sea, about a woman who wrote plays, mostly about poets. The novel focused on one play in particular, about a fine young poet who, as a side-gig of sorts, cooked dreams down by the harbor and sold them for two bits, or a smile, whichever came first.

It was a catastrophe!! The novel, the play, the dream cooking, the works!!

It was as if the whole sleepy harbor town had conspired against the dream chef. Rather than the usual sunshine and sweet nights indicated by his time-tested recipes, there was rain and rain and more rain. Instead of peaceful vistas and blue skies, there were dark, eerie corners, Gothic creaks and groans, spiral staircases and shadows for the shadows. . . . Read more. “Spiral Staircases, or It Pays to Reread”

New Poem by Doreen LeBlanc

New Poem by Doreen LeBlanc

Arriving Home

When I cross the harbor bridge, I’m home.
In awe of intersecting sky, river, ocean,
mountains sloping down to fields,
wild roses, Queen Anne’s lace.
I inhale them with all my senses.

Arriving at the cabin, I catch my breath.
We ran through these hay fields as children.
Here my grandparents worked the land,
sea and woodlands without rest.
Now it is our summer haven.

Afternoon sunlight streams into the kitchen.
I look for the great bald eagle up river.
Instead, a tiny hummingbird
hovers for an instant,
looking in the window at me.

A short walk to the beach,
Two cousins come over the rocks.
As always, we are on and on about
what the weather promises,
ripening blueberries and family news. . . . Read more. “New Poem by Doreen LeBlanc”

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