Cliff Lovers

Teaching in Chinatown, I am near PG&E’s 77 Beale Street where peregrine falcons nest each spring. I stand before students, lecturing about rats and wolves, and notice the mated pair launch and land on the peak of the skyscraper. Both mother and father brood their clutch of eggs. They hunt birds in the grey city canyons and prey on waterfowl near Fisherman’s wharf. Honking cabs and office lights may obstruct their strike. Sidewalk shufflers can spook pigeon flocks. But cool ledges of high rise towers make natural nests for cliff lovers. A pair mates for life and returns to the same spot every year. The falcons feed their fluffy white chicks, tearing off strips of meat red as roasted Pei-pa duck hanging in restaurant windows of Chinatown.

thirteenth floor —
mother falcon hunts dove
below me


Written in response to today’s dVerse Haibun Monday prompt.



Lovers injure flowers
more than widows, soldiers,
boys, or babes do, loving
makes us sacrifice things
proving that our love is true.

Why so sad with teary
eyes? The time though dreary,
quickly leaves you, love rose
spring-like, bloomed in meadows
now it’s grave where grasses grew.

Written in response to today’s DVerse prompt. The challenge is to write a poem using trimeter. I decided to make it weirder by using trochaic trimeter since it is unusual in English. And the simple aabb rhyme gets an additional rhyme in the fifth line of trochaic tetrameter adding a cc based on the second foot of the third line. Sounds more complex than it is, and this explanation is longer than the poem.

Breath and Being: A Poetics of Allen Ginsberg’s “Poems of These States”

By m.j.smith

Today, I was reading Allen Ginsberg’s “Beginning of A Poem of These States, Memento for Gary Snyder” the opening poem of his Fall of America sequence. This era of Ginsberg’s poetry often comes under criticism for being formless, verbose, self-indulgent, and riddled with flower-child mentality.

I’ll leave the latter two points for another time, but the first two do not hold up to scrutiny when reading “Beginning.” Ginsberg composed the first draft of many of the poems in Fall of America on an Uher portable tape recorder (purchased for him by Bob Dylan) while riding in a Volkswagen minibus camper all over the United States (Morgan 418). The passing scenery, songs and news on the radio, conversations with his drivers (Ginsberg had no license to drive the bus), recent reading, and pit-stops merged together to make what he called “auto poesy.”

Continue reading

California Quarterly

After recent rejections from Negative Capability and Beloit, I received an acceptance from California Quarterly for two poems: “After Rexroth” and “On the Arrival of Portola in 1769.” These are both poems grounded in the California landscape, so they have only been sent to journals that are published in this state. It makes me very happy to have them in CQ.

Speaking Well

I’m afraid your manuscript

does not fit our current needs

I’m afraid you’re overqualified

for this position

I’m afraid your credit history

renders you ineligible for a loan

I’m afraid you just aren’t

what we’re looking for

But never fear,

We’re not really afraid.