Monthly Archives: April 2010

Creation of Family

My son is sick. Nothing serious,
just a virus I had a while back,
but painful. I remember the pain.
I’m still recovering myself, still tired.
We’re both sleeping in the living room
so he can sleep with his head propped up
and I can hear when he needs something.
Two nightlights are set for those moments
when I check his covers, his forehead,
decide his cough is too much, too hard,
and prepare a dose of medicine
the only way he’ll take it, then coax
him barely awake, and wait to see
if it worked. He doesn’t remember
but last night it was three times. Better
than when he was little, I stayed up
all night in the hospital, helping
in ways he doesn’t want to know now.

The Creation of Everything

What? You thought the creation of everything
was some cosmic deal like the Big Bang,
firing off this enormous burst of life
in all directions, fueled by a fierce
enormous passion? Yeah, right. Think again.
Bring it a little closer to home. Life.
Well, everything wouldn’t mean much without it,
would it? Sounds kind of boring to have it all
but it all just sits there. So life, gotta have
life. That’s one thing. Getting life going, well
that’s kind of like a big bang again.
Lightning and storms and all that jazzing up
the primordial soup, whipping it up
in a frothing frenzy of fermentation,
et voilà, we got ourselves a sustained
reaction that step by step leads to us
and nothing is about to quit there.
That’s everything, now, right? Past, present, future
and the old Norse Fates, those mythic old ladies
with their threads of fate, spinning, twining,
winding, weaving, and somehow it all makes sense,
to them at least, in a way that seems like
magic to us. Nice and linear, right?
Well, with weaving, I guess two dimensions,
at least — our life moving forward and back,
and all the lives next to ours that connect.
But, you know, somehow that isn’t right either.
I don’t know why, but I know nothing is
what’s linear, devils move in straight lines
taking the easy path, and everything
must be something else. I’ve seen the wizard —
young hot-chickadee with her white-blonde buns
and orbiting rings of primal rainbow shapes —
putting her head together with the dude,
the nordic surfer dude social as Shaggy,
the two of them magicking up virtual
models of the e8 polytope.
That was something to see. It looks so
simple. It’s all lines, but the way they connect
makes something else, and that keeps changing, or not.
It is the same each time you see it, but
it looks different. From one angle you see
a Star of David, from another squares,
there are octagons, dodecahedron, more.
One plane tells one story, another
something else. Models within models,
shapes within shapes, order within order.
Each time I look at it I see something new.
Even the model, a bit like a blueprint,
doesn’t completely work in 3D.
It’s bigger than that. If even a blueprint
of everything is bigger than what my brain
can wrap itself around, well, then, the real thing,
that’s gotta be something, really something,
just what I don’t know. Not sure I need to know.
But everything? I know what it’s not.
A straight line. Anything easy. That bursting
forth of passion throwing out growth, that’s not life.
Cancers have that all worked out, and just look
how useful and durable they are.
Everything, well, it’s got some sort of order.
Amazing how even chaos seems to have
some order in it. Maybe it isn’t
actually chaos? Or maybe chaos
doesn’t mean what we think it does. Maybe
chaos is just order that’s too big for us?

Creation of a New Day

Day doesn’t always begin at dawn. Sometimes
clocks tick over midnight, a string of zeroes,
and tick on. In the dark and silence, that shift —
the clock counts, the calendar flips, and the light
under the water changes from green to blue
to black, and back through blue to green one more time.
Every day, it is one more time. Just one more.
Sometimes day is dark. Sometimes day is alarmed.
Some days wait and wait more for their beginning.
Some days wish they’d never been born. And sometimes
day is simply a word, an empty hand, open.

Creation of Meatloaf

Playing twenty questions with the kids always starts the same and then changes, like confession or saying grace, but instead of “Bless me, Father” or “Bless us, O Lord,” it’s the question, “Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?” Meatloaf is like that. Ask me how to make a meatloaf. Go ahead, ask me! I could reply, “Animal, vegetable, mineral.” Really! Think about it. Infinite variations on a theme, but they all start with ground meat, some sort of grain or starchy vegetable, and salt. Meat, starch, salt. From region to region, family to family, the traditions change, but always as absolute as prayer. “It isn’t meatloaf without ketchup,” “without spaghetti sauce,” “without salsa,” “without chili,” without whatever savory spice makes that heart say Home. Meatloaf comes from the poor, but not so poor there is no meat, just not much and not the best. The meat is whatever the deity has provided, what is easy to use and easy to find, ground fine to use bits that aren’t most wanted, and stretched out to make it fill many mouths. Beef, pork, sausage, turkey, chicken, lamb, in some places fish or eggs, or even beans (the vegetable meat). Bean loaf? Yes, bean loaf. Every evening, somewhere, someone is making meatloaf of one sort or another, as if it is a fundamental human act. Just change the names and shapes. Meatloaf, bean loaf, tuna loaf, spaghetti loaf; meatloaf wrapped instead of square — pasties, kibbeh, kubbeh, dolmas; who knows? Maybe even sushi is meatloaf. Meat, starch, salt. Cook kibbeh in a pie, in a loaf, in a leaf, in a crust, in cabbage. What is a quiche but a flat round cheese & egg loaf? Where are the boundaries of the transcendental quintessential Meatloaf? Does meatloaf even need boundaries? Begin with bread, rice, potatoes, noodles, tortillas, bulgar, burghul, couscous, quinoa, lentils, whatever is to hand. Layer beans and tabbouleh and brine. Meat, starch, salt. Whatever is spare, and there. Be humble. Let the food be humble. Bury your hands in the mix. Meat, starch, salt. Touch it. Play with it. Cook it, share it. Let the meatloaf be our meal. Let the making of meatloaf be our prayer.


This is not a new poem, it is not part of my NaPoWriMo series. This was originally done as a collaboration with Dana Guthrie Martin over at the Poetry Collaborative, which no longer exists. It could originally be found here as the poem itself, here showing the collaborative process and discussion (which I have preserved but which is not currently online), and the combined set was here.

by Dana Guthrie & PF Anderson

It all began with an onion skin
rolled in the palms after removal —
microscopic veil, shredded to sheer
vulnerability with a touch.

Rolled in the palms after removal,
the laundry sheds dead skin, dust to dust,
vulnerability with a touch
of misplaced affection. For what holds

the laundry’s shedding skin, dust to dust,
dissolving? My hands flip back and forth
with misplaced affection for what holds
fast inside them, admitting only

dissolving. The hands flip back and forth,
fingers work, creating compartments
fast inside them, admitting only
what moves through by force and persuasion;

fingers work, creating compartments,
viral spaces exploding with guile
what moves through by force and persuasion
can’t be named, only felt — a motion

(that viral space exploding with guile),
a microscope zeros in on what
can’t be named, only felt — a motion
like a benign tremor or stutter;

a microscope zeros in on that
stumbling heated communication.
Like a benign tremor or stutter
from movement into meaning teased out,

calipers stretch molecular strings —
microscopic veil, shredded to sheer
infinity. Between, space equals
space, that began with an onion skin.

Creation of Storms

Blowing hot and cold,
isn’t that the phrase?
That’s how it begins, you know.

It begins with wind’s laughter
lightly drawing a line dance
upon the water. Water

slips sideways to draw
another line, another …
and then the wind is blowing

all the lines to some far shore
that doesn’t yet exist, but
looms gray on the horizon.

There is a faint ache, an edge;
the hint of salt in the mouth,
on the tongue, abrupt & sore;

a vague discomfort, restless.
The wind whines, whimpers, dies down.
The sudden cold silence is

charged with incipient loss,
an electric hurt.
Hot/cold, hot/cold – what is it?

What do you want?
Trees and waves work out
with unusual vigor.

Right/left, right/left, exercise,
work it, work it out.
There is a rhythm to it —

the dark deep drumming
of thunder, the ache.
Hot bubbles’ warning startles.

The air is so turbulent
it feels as if the wind is
catching the words from

right out of your mouth
and sucks them right up,
claims them for its own.

The sky has turned a sickly
yellow green, still dry.
The unbearable waiting.

It begins with the water
flinging her salty sweat right
into the face of the wind.

Wind tastes salt and howls.
Waves roar back and weep.
That is just the beginning.

It builds from there. Into what?
The howling of hurricanes,
the wounded broken silence

in the black eye of the storm,
finally — cataclysmic
and devasting,

the orgasms of planets.

Creation of Rhythm

Before rhythm was in the drum, it was in the skin;
before rhythm was in the drum, it was in the tree.

Before rhythm was in the tree, it was in the leaves;
before rhythm was in the tree, it was in the hands.

Before rhythm was in the hands, it was in the feet
raising staggered clouds of dust from the hard-packed earth.

Before rhythm was in the feet, it was in the voice
panting, crying, howling, or murmuring far away.

Before rhythm was in the voice, it was in the breath,
just breathing, breathing again and again, nothing more.

Before rhythm was in the breath, it was in the eyes
blinking, shivering with the pulse, it was in the heart.

Before rhythm was in the heart, it was in the body;
before rhythm was in the body, it was in the day —

the day and the night, the sun and the moon, the seasons
of mating and birthing, sleeping and waking, and death.

Before rhythm was in our deaths, it was in being,
it was in being, it was in being, it was, is.

Rhythm is in the being, rhythm is in the air;
rhythm is in the smallest element of atoms,

rhythm is in the spaces between all the atoms,
between all the stars or galaxies or clusters.

What are we when we are moved by rhythms we hear not?
What are we when we are moved by rhythms, and aware?

Rhythm was not created. Creation was rhythm —
the pulse that opened all still echoes, echoes, echoes.

Rhythm is not created. Creation is rhythm —
begin & bend, pulse & pause & point, guide & full stop.

Rhythm was not created. Creation was rhythm.
Rhythm is not created. Creation is rhythm.

Creation of Dance

Dance began with the first
separation of elements,
of wind and of water.

Dance began with the wind —
the faintest slightest shift of air
against the skin of the water.

Awareness of surface tension.

Dance began with water —
the tidal swelling without words,
“lift me up,” “lay me down,”

a slow slow silent sigh.

Creation of Logic

Logic must be laughable.
After all, so many jokes
about Mister Spock exist —
eight million, six hundred and
seventy thousand at least,
as an approximation,
most of them variants of
the classic six on eyebrows,
green blood, “yo mamma,” Kirk, sex,
and, yes, vulcanized rubber,
but there are three million less
if Data is excluded
from the search, which is not like
removing the evidence,
except that Data, too, is
logical, of course, and if
the search includes both Spock and
Data, as well as more terms
related to logic and
logical, such as geek, nerd,
logic of course, computer,
research, and both rational
and rationale, you will find
the number of jokes totals
thirty-three million and eight
hundred thousand, which is more
than fifty percent of the
total universe of jokes
in your language, that being
sixty-seven million and
one hundred thousand —
so much evidence supports
the premise that your people
for some inexplicable
reason find logic funny.

Creation of Dreams

Oh, no, not sissy dreams of what you wish
or what you want to be when you grow up,
no strategy for making ‘dreams’ come true.
Not the fears that itch & shiver in our skin.
Just ordinary plain vanilla dreams
(if any of the nightly concoctions
our brains cook up could ever be called “plain”),
or the dizzying disorienting
paths our minds wander when we aren’t looking
that pop like bubbles when we snap alert,
leaving only the faintest chill sprinkling
that quickly dries, or a faint scent that fades.
All the hard work our brains do while we sleep,
trying to assemble meaning, structure
and link the gathered fragments we rolled through,
stitching them like quilts to hold the layers
together, or perhaps some more fragile
metaphor. In the morning, I’m muddled
riding the bus, and wishing I was still
asleep. Looking out the windows, watching
very simply — what is familiar, what
is not. The ribs of the bridge at dawn strip
light and shadow like torn fabric, create
rhythms that bump along my brain’s ridges,
creating a sensory cavalcade,
memories escorted by eyes into
jumbled juxtapositions, strange puzzles.
The knotting network of nerves stretches out,
nudges the delicate dendrites that nose
from cell to cell blindly, tasting their way,
triggering a blip here, a sizzle there,
an ache, a bruise, bewilderment, old friends
familiar though you’ve never met before,
chatter, colors — stuttering chemicals’
curious cascading kaleidoscope.