OnPoEvMo: The Rhino and Gazelle/Father and Son February 2007

This is another installment in my series of poems I am writing and podcasting every month under the banner of One Poem Per Month for a Year. I wrote it as I watched my oldest son (age 9) playing basketball the other day and was amazed at his athletic abilities and I was wondering where this passion for sports came from (music was my thing). And we had just visited the San Diego Zoo, so animals were on my mind.

The Rhino and Gazelle/ Father and Son

(February 2007)

Listen to the Poem

The gazelle inside of you came from somewhere but not from me.
I am more like a crash of rhinos with heads lowered, eyes narrowed, horns raised up in defiant defense.
I am more like the lumbering giant than the fleet footed creature that you are,
darting, moving, skirting the horizon with energy and freedom.
You spring from one side of the world to the other with your motors on full,
an open field with nobody else in motion,
time slowed down to a crawl,
and all of us just watching, watching, watching,
as you surprise your opponent with stealth and speed.
No one expected that of you.
Certainly not me.
To the rhino, the gazelle is just a flash of a rainbow caught from the corner of the eye
and coveted as a dream that has been released to the stars
as if it were but a balloon on a string on a windy day.
No, the rhino remains firmly centered here on this Earth with gravity pulling on the mind
with weight and worry draped like an anchor around the neck.
I could never run like you. Never.
I was always the bull — the muscle — the brawn —
the man in the middle who threw the block and freed up others so that they could gain the glory
and I would often wonder at why it was that I was built so different from all of them
but the gazelle never gazes upon the rhino except in times of need.
And now I know. Now, I know.
I was built to protect the gazelle from others who want to tear down the beauty of the run
and twist in the imperfections, twist it into something ugly and painful
— already it has begun, the self-doubting, the impossibilities, the sound of other voices taking hold on your tongue–
and so I lower my horn and crash into the crowd, a raging rhino,
determined to protect you at any cost from the slow and steady pull of gravity in the world.

Peace (without cages),

OnPoEvMo: Finding Words Inside of Image, February 2007

This morning, I was up particularly early because one of my sons was sick and somehow, this “found poem” that is inspired by Michael Wesch’s video on New Literacy began to formulate in my mind, and I became obsessed with composing and publishing it. I used Tonya W.’s translation of the video into text as my source (thanks!)

So, here goes:

Finding Words Inside of Image: An Undiscovered Country (February 2007)
(with credit to Michael Wesch for creating the video Web 2.0 … the Machine is Us/ing US and to Tonya Witherspoon for converting Michael’s video into text. With apologies to both.)

Listen to the audio version of the poem

To hunt the invisible poem inside the video
is akin to exploration.
You unlock the door — pull back the skin —
and decode its unfolding creation.
In this undiscovered country — a hidden interior —
beneath the code of image and sound —
a webworld of nodes exist
beyond sight and sense, but not experience;
Its poetry is waiting to be found.



Digital text is anywhere, everywhere, virtually structural, expanded, different;
Social form defining formatting constraints
as the content is designed and expanded and productive;
linking no longer teaching the machine,
no longer linking information,
we teach you an idea a billion times a day as a virtual sticky document;
post your note in private, but highlight the network,
paper the web.
Exchange the form.
I am linear/non-linear information.


Created in the Limelight, fluffy and white, social, tracing authorship,
organize the people, the text, the family, ourselves
media mashes U and I into RSS as a broadcast blog born every second
that can relink/respond to this automated HTML-XML-Web 2.0 world.
Highlight the collaboration; free the idea;
forge a link; teach me in digital response: love;
teach the machine when we post, tag, name, link, export, map, save, organize.


Do not define form as content in code;
define it as flexible humans designed to forge and expand together.
Rethink the world as an idea of the Wayback Machine;
Ethics/Aesthetics/Rhetorics: names teaching us of ourselves.


The beauty of being digital is not just text
but video
photo flickr data design
hypermedia anthropology created by you,
View the source as bold and italicized,
and free of complicated code that is no longer just commerce;
etext me; I etext you; We etext the we in us because the information is:
flexible structural elements
sharing as moveable savage minds that can be exported,
highlighted, organized.
Above all,
search!… create! … teach!

<title><title>Rethink the World <endtitle>


Peace (beneath the surface of text).

OnPoEvMo: Sleepwalker — February 2007

I was thinking deep about one of my students — a boy whose past is written all over his face every single day and he is one of those students who doesn’t care about school, doesn’t try to make any effort, and doesn’t connect with other people on any emotional level. He worries me to no end.

So I wrote a poem about him for my OnePoemEveryMonthforaYear project, just to try to get at my own understanding of who he is and what he is going through.


Listen to the poem

You sit —
hands on the fidget —
your mind a million miles away,
writing — the last thing you want to be doing
and you listen to the voice but don’t react.
There is no one in the room but you, and your thoughts.
You move forward — trudging up from slumber, a silent sleepwalker of life —
waiting for something or someone that you are certain will never come:
a hero, a savior,
a messenger whom you wouldn’t recognize anyway because heroes have knocked before
and then disappeared before you could even answer them
— that’s how far away you are —
and there you are, staring vacantly at the open door, open into the wildness of your heart;
the wilderness; the place where you again wonder why it is that you are here
and worrying about nothing more than survival.
Sleepwalker, you move among us but are not of us.
The wound lies so deep, so far down,
that the tenderness that comes of kindness is like the painful knife of the past.
You reject it all just for the sake of protection,
and in doing so,
your slumber grows deeper and deeper until you are nothing more than just a shadow cast upon the wall.
Awaken, sleepwalker, and let us see you.
Awaken, sleepwalker, awake!

Peace (with patience and understanding),

OnPoEvMo: Bush 2.0 January 2007

There has been a flurry of poems this month with my OnePoemEveryMonth project and I can barely keep up with the words (that’s a good thing until I lose some of the words in the time when I am not near a pen, paper or computer). Here is a poem I wrote after watching part of the State of the Union address (without sound).

Bush 2.0: State of the Union 2007 (January 2007)

Listen to the poem

The sound was turned off but not the screen
and I just wished I could turn him off, too,
but I couldn’t find the remote to the rhetoric
and anyway, my access was limited,
so I glued my eyes to his face
and wished for some miracle of metamorphosis on the podium
that never came
and marveled at the way his expression twitched and turned
and there was tension behind that presidential mask.
At least, there was that — the tension of the times.

On this stage, the new is the old
and the old is nothing more than
the origami of truth and facts twisted
and reformatted into convenience for the sake of simplicity
and I’m left feeling like a little child in the time-out corner of the nation,
not at all clear what I am doing here
and unable to claim responsibility.

All I want is openness.
All I get is incompetence
in this last gasp of a man
looking into the inkwell of historians
and seeing only the red ink of error after error
written permanently in the blood of our soldier-citizens.
Friends — family — farewell.


Peace (in peaceful times),

OnPoEvMo: Like Birds in Flight, January 2007

Some of the writing for my OnePoemPerMonthForaYear project have come easily and some are still in the midst of revision and stuck with me as I try to understand just what I am trying to get at with my words and phrases and voice.

This poem, called Birds in Flight, is a prime example of this internal struggle. It is inspired by some conversations with my students about their own experiences living in a very insular and safe community, primarily white, and how our preconceptions shape our understanding of people who look, talk and act different than we do. My students’ experiences are very similar to mine as I was growing up and I tried to capture in this poem some of my conflicted feelings that took place when I first forged some close friendships with people of other color during my time as an infantry soldier in the Army National Guard.

I came to realize how racist some of my impressions were and how long it took for me to see them just as people, and not as different people because their skin was different from mine. This is something that no one taught me. I had to learn with experience.

Like Birds in Flight (January 2007)

Listen to the poem

I can’t crawl inside your skin
I’m claustrophobic with the fingers of history wrapped around my neck
and, besides, your black doesn’t fit with my white.
We clash.

Or so I have been told, not in so many words, of course, but in so many looks.
Which leaves us both here with this sense of intense misunderstanding
and missed opportunities that come from rage at the ways of this world.
No one ever told me that you were always the same as me,
with the same dreams,
the same heart,
and you, with your ancestors on an timeline that intersects with mine only in pain and infinite sadness,
you look so different from me — on the outside.
Your black doesn’t fit with my white.

I often wonder how it would be if we had a covering of feathers instead of skin
and you were to become haloed in a rainbow
with hues casting deep shadows that I could just swallow up like worms on a summer day after the storms have cleared away,
filling me whole with experience and reality,
and then maybe — maybe — I could finally feel your light, your strength, your sense of being you.

Just you and nothing more.
Your black would fit with my white.

We would no longer feel tethered by this solid Earth
and instead, as one, we would rise to the clouds on the upward draft of hope
and avoid the fears that keeps us rooted so firmly in our own minds.
I look at you.
I don’t see you.
Instead, I only see skin.

Peace (with understanding),

OnPoEvMo: Shrinking Clothes, January 2007

Here is another poem for my OnePoemEveryMonthForaYear adventure. It’s about my younger son and how his feet are starting to pop out of his pajamas.

Shrinking Clothes (January 2007)

Listen to Shrinking Clothes

I know you grow
Because in the foot of your pajamas
I can see your toe
Poking through the fabric
and so, your toe shows
how unbound you are by your shrinking clothes.

Peace (with warm pajamas),

OnPoEvMo: Mannequin January 2007

This is my first poem of 2007 for my One Poem Every Month for a Year adventure and I guess it was inspired by my recent experimentation with StopMotion Animation and my use of a mannequin in a dancing movie.

Mannequin (January 2007)

Listen to the poem

I am the mannequin
Sinewy thoughts all aflow
Dancing on the edge of the stage
just inches from disaster and audience intrigue
as the invisible hand caresses me into shape,
and guides me forward into the spotlight.

I can hear the harmony, the melody, the music,
somewhere in the back of my mind
the growl of the ever-expanding universe
so bones begin to pop, skin falls away,
my mask comes undone
until there is nothing left of me but soul
and movement.

I am the mannequin
who believes in self-determination
yet fears the unknown hand at my back
which wields the majestic power and authority
of preordained fate.

I slip the string
loosen the knot
and fall off the stage
with the resounding crash of independent thought.

Peace (with string),

OnPoEvMo: The Mind Alive — Dec. 2006

This is another in my installment of poems, with the aim of writing and publishing at least one original poem every month for a year. It turns out I am on track to do two poems every month for the year but I refuse to change my moniker now! 🙂

The Mind, Alive (December 2006)

Listen to the poem

At night
when all should be in darkness,
I am bathed in light;
words in my mind turning corners
and wondering all the time whether this, too, shall lead me
further beyond myself.

It’s the small things;
The words not spoken, the look not given,
the missing embers lost among the light of these anxious moments
into which I offer nothing more than some token passive resistance
to the inevitable.

And yet, who is to say …
Nothing is certain at 2 a.m. with the lights turned off —
when dim silence is comforted only by thoughtful interrogation
precariously balanced between madness and meaning.

Outside, the rain falls
and thunder calls from a far-off distance
Not something wicked this way coming
Not something I cannot see
But, rather, the anticipated movement of time itself
into which I draw comfort
and sleep.

Kevin (the poet)

OnPoEvMo: Boy Versus Jacket — Dec. 2006

This is another poem in my effort to write and publish at least one poem every month for an entire year. This particular poem was inspired by watching my youngest son struggle to get his jacket on one day (poor kid).

Boy Versus Jacket
December 2006

lights up his face
his arm struggling against the suffocating fabric
as the seamless entry shifts, disappears, shifts, reappears, shifts, disappears again,
so he turns on me
as if I were the one casting some invisible net all around him
– a sinister Spiderman of a sort–
confounding his efforts in an premeditated move
to listen to him scream.

If only he knew …

I watch helpless as he drops like a rock
prone horizontal to the ground,
legs kicking with a power all out of proportion to his age,
the wail of anguish suddenly pulsating up from his chest
out through his lips, and right into my brain.

Meanwhile, his sworn enemy – the winter jacket – waits on the ground
patiently – waiting for another round against the boy
and already silently declaring victory.

Listen to me read Boy Versus Jacket Boy Versus Jacket

You can also read and listen to the other poems in this series.

Peace (with poetry),

OnPoEvMo: Buried — Nov. 2006

This is the second installment of a poem for my OnPoEvMo Poetry Project.

November 2006

There’s a poem buried in my backyard:
something left behind by someone else
who used to live here —
someone whose coffee cups are now just broken shards forced to the Earth’s surface
every spring by the frost heaves,
along with discarded bones from some old dog or wayward cat
or maybe a perfectly good person whose time just ran out.

I wouldn’t exactly call it treasure – these ceramic, organic tokens from the past —
except for the poem:
the poem that remains buried there in the fertile soil
– I can hear its Siren call late at night when my mind races
and my pen only writes in the ink of invisibility and forgetfulness —

I have the map but the shovel?
The shovel is nowhere to be found.

Listen to me read the poem Buried