Poems by Teg George


alone like evening enough stars
hot here
can't mess around under starlight
neighbors get suspicious
stare at nothing no lightning bugs
no bullfrogs no bats
no winds
damn hot a giant owl perches
on the power line then it finally
flies away


Though your death spites us --it is unjust
--whom can we return to earth through our grief?
more, if we groan deeply enough to shake
the branches, deeply enough to drop leaves

before autumn, the torrent would not breach
the god's pine heart encasing you,-- nor would
our pleas entice the total inventory
of dreams you dreamed,-- for you were alone

with thoughts bound to you, and we can't enter
them now,-- we never could --but, no matter,
our grief will always be self-regarding
--who we return from death is ourselves, once

isolated from each other and once
fastidious about others' suffering.
Now, we suffer as your spirit loses
us,-- it gains itself --it murmurs to us.


does baby dream along or is it separate like men from each
other and from God who after all had to give Jonah a pearl to
light Leviathan’s bowels and see all that had come to pass—
what fun it is to be all knowing— not in the belly of a fish
does Jonah still dream the fish’s dreams or the fish, Jonah’s?
a whale’s baby might know what its mama intends— yet they say
the angels come to erase a baby’s memory at birth but what
about a fish can rub out the thought of sharing briny sex with
three instead of one— maybe it was fun though Jonah’s not
telling and baby can’t recall cause Jonah won’t recall the
fish’s humming that shook his ribs and thrummed his backbone
until Leviathan and man were one


kentucky has built two beautiful
birdfeeders from old gate posts
she's smeared a couple of corn
cobs with peanut butter & propped
them atop so that the whole looks
bullish in the misty air though one
has two grapefruit shells strung
from its jaws & filled with bird
seed sparrows titbirds jays come
to roost cardinals too feast along
with crows finches & others

Blond in Black Leather

A fire that won’t speak has darkness
at its soul. So when you pass me
and don’t say hello, I feel my tongue.

I wish I had guts
enough to still you, but you rush like iron
and can’t be halted by smooth

lines tossed at your back.
Your silence moves
me to you: your no-song, a glory

meant for much more than me.
May I touch your sunglasses? They show,
“She is untouchable,” but more, they hide

your fire and keep us from marking
your darkness as a shroud.

Canaveral 1969

owl feather acorn pine
cone trout scale
coon-fur rubbing orange
blossom beeswax palm
bark morning glory blue
as my arteries
white spout and yellow stigma
poking out five black stripes
make a star where I touch
the petals an hour later pink
fingerprints in the blue
emerald swells plumeria
flower on jams trampled
at bottom in seashells

Chicago 1871

glitter swings
through the pine needles
coats branches
and bows stipling oaks
spindly maple
rooms cast lamplight
on cowering juniper
winding flame engulfs
a bowl
mixes with ash
rises in wisps
that string upward
to gray sky
across shadows
far away


to me the tomb rises
not bitterly from the soon
to be but nearer than one

wants to see—
the lark in the dawning
leaves to love its song

early even the kingfishers
lose their chops
when leaves begin to fall—

or as the nuns said
“souls falling into hell
like leaves stripped

from trees and scattered
floating downward
fluttering from God’s grasp”

like punched tickets—
or confetti shimmering
after an election’s won

Drunk in the Window Seat

that Halloween on Irving
with the Bad Brains sleeping
curled into scarlet cushions
red noise blanketing me
then no noise no people
lit streets me like some
one dead after retreat
a bombed body dreaming
masks float away with arms
akimbo legs striped chests
cluttered with bullet
holes awake in the window
dimming sky gone gone

Few Knew

few knew beauty is death
was not his theorem
nor had he bothered to prove
whether beauty had sense

without the lack of sense
implied his love of beauty
occurred absent beauty
time worn flowers pressed

in an old dictionary was near
beauty for him nearer
to death for others
since flowers must lose

their lives to enrich others
but few held him as a return
to a simpler god whose own
dictums seldom flowered

beautifully except in a field
of lilies where we are
not arrayed as one of these

Flesh Offering

pinched my nose
to bleed
only look clownish
unlike clowns
who have dress code
like the five
habits crossing
the street of roses
stare at my nose
red bulb attached
by fire to my face
a fire that never
burns humor
doesn't rise above
shimmer with the sun
dance with angels
my bleeding nose


worst could happen
I know
a bad thing
fish with two eyes
on the same side
of its head
silty ocean bottom
blend into mud
churn for food
how boring the side
to side looks
how magnificent up
appears even if
I never
swim there

Foggy Bottom

I stood and she sat. It gets that neat
when the Metro’s full— even a thief

must rise to allow the lady a seat.
While I admired her, she read some brief

from her firm. We didn’t speak nor look
to one another for romance— our meeting

would be happenstance. Our train shook
her station as it stopped and she, tripping

over my right foot, landed square in my
embrace. Her eyes— what could she say, “Get

away”— they had those blue flecks in their gray,
and I, being less a man, might have let

her get away. Here she stands, another chick—
a sonnet is a moment’s taste, a kick.


maybe your kin’s from here
twiddling in the turf
bathing in the bay

years passed then you were born
in a squat by the road to Mayo
still longer and you passed

after your husband smashed
his head against a train wheel
near Ottawa—by accident of course

then your children were brought
up by your brother’s wife
somewhere near Pottstown

thousands of miles from seal
who could hunt you drunk
and carry you away

barking mad like all the rest
of us—twilight shorn
singing ourselves ashore


carving a Jack o' Lantern
for my daughter a happy
one a grinning orange
head made for light long
cuts for the mouth & rounded
triangles for its eyes
teeth are so hard to cut
I cut my finger blood all
through seeds & pulp
my daughter stanches me
with napkins with iodine
later we cut the lights
put the pumpkin on
roast the seeds & eat

How Could I

mistake myself for Christ
so uncool all my vices
cussing drinking no

go amongst beggars old thieves
children nowhere except bed
or the fridge

I moan & toss & pity
myself for all I'm worth
did Christ's blood

boil out His body flex
off microbes healed & healed
He must have

swelled with so many fish
under His belt but no

they never rent Him as they
do me squirming around as I
mistake Him


birds migrate, find their way,
their own way, guided, maybe, by sun,
stars, instinct, but not landscape

since forests have gone,
cities, replaced the hills,
and farms, the prairies

—a thing changeless
most others have rocked
to, chained to, or spun by like tether

balls yoked to an invisible staff,
a thing that guides
these birds has a name,

but I’ve lost it—
still geese, wild ducks swing
through the sky like squadrons

of angles pointing
away from the hypotenuse
of your bones

In His Movement

in his movement away from material
he denied himself and became almost
silken and slipped beneath the known
shape of things instead of rising above
wafting among the clouds as a lone
parachutist detached from figures

hands joining away from the group
who will rise but sunken slid deeper
into himself until heart beats had
the muscle he'd so longed to deny
so longed to ignore yes
the heart moves to the material

he thought it matters

Jerusalem 0031

do not celebrate the fall
of rome at mass do not shake
open your wallets and let
green twigs fall do not
leaven your juries do not bear
libations to the armies nor sprinkle
foreheads with evian
because the elohim loved the basket
of green twigs they lay down loving
our father then got up wondering
what ram lay bleeding from the dagger
embraced to our father's chest
chest of his chest our father tested
back high on the holiest what god
what ram what son for man so loved
his son made in the image of god
that he clung to the bush lit the ram
and claimed stone knives sanded sharp
by love what god so loved
his son made in his image more god
than man and let him wander
for thirty or so years around nazareth


the little paws
that can’t grip a pencil

no light for the body
no candles for the bedstead

keen for the earth
for the pen writing


soil covers us all

small sparrow weeping

through the pines
pines not song

Lake Eola 1989

that winter we put
on Shakespeare
in the park
was the coldest in ten

years and just before the audience
during Shrew
a horse and carriage got hit

by an Isuzu
the loose filly galloped
past the bandshell
but missed the stage

sirens fired past
and broke up Kate's wedding speech
the crowd thought she's finally realized
what a crud Petruccio is

Mars Not Blinking

as the stars do
has a red tinge

red is red
blinking hasn't

changed Venus
curse me thanks

she doesn't hold
him enthralled

the hot embrace
red warty one

shaky armor
a catch to flip

Orlando 1992

a tower of light like a blown palm
made from green glass
windows for staring strangers
horns flaring at us

wild yellow belly of the bulldozer
its iron dong trenching the soil around us
cracker shacks once harvested from orange crates
cobbled with spent nails

the road's end splays into the tower of light
like an artichoke made from coke bottle
light gone inside out

People Around These Parts

An old one holds
his hat as though praying,
leans on his shovel and smokes:
vapors ignite with night.

His dust should mingle
with these stones.
His lips remind me of my
daughter’s lonesome mouth, of my

wife’s longing mouth,
a haze around the moon.
I know I’m stardust
that sizzles down to this gravel.

“Can’t have these stones.”
Well, who are you people?
And they won’t tell me.
“So what if we have no

identity,” they shout.
And one particularly pretty
one says, “I could love you,
if you would scream on key.”

I could love you if I were
a rainbow trout thrashing
beautifully with my fins
against these golden rocks.

People Who Disappear

in a burst
of lightning
—struck soundly
—fill the rolls
of missing persons
—as though God
out and said,
“Take that,”
then took them
burning to His
breast, their hair,
singed, brushing
lightly against His
and their moans
tickling His


deep in the interior
(where deepness has no ill effects)
let us love as lovers will

simply to refrain from still
ness less to avoid the shrillness
lovers married thus will endure

likely as friends mostly as purely
indifferent though always loving
: cards at Christmas

: cards at Easter
birthdays forgotten
since age devours beauty

and beauty endures love
leaf by leaf
and drop by drop

let lingering caresses cease
and kisses lie languidly
on lips

lazy so lazy
we leave cares to lounge
and lie


pardon my bones
as they will pardon you
pardon my lumbering
as I would if gait
could excuse
as well as include
pardon my bones
they only ache
aloud for you


this stone etched by hand
unknown, this pot glazed
with old colors, these colors
lost to us, breath lost,
us lost—

this mural stretching,
this glyph, this stele,
this mosaic, our figure,
this figure some figure
somewhere modeled

Reason He

the reason he was so undocumented
his parents disbelieved him (the cause

was lost (along with his early Brownie
snaps)) and being so unrelished

by aftermarket after-effects as 8mm
and pastels from the local boardwalk

he had to continue without sustenance
of Land Camera stylings otherwise events

delimited him and his parents' beliefs
circumscribed him and he was left

(the cause was lost (along with his class
pictures)) urbane but wrong


the brothers made lovely
lamps of hammered iron
and cut mineral glass
that shone yellow
with blue flames licking
each busted edgewise
facet—a kind of beauty
that only a Bonaparte
would have endured
crepes at noone
pink bulbs jutting
out were shrimp
done up as butterflies
then quick steamed
instead of fried
so unlike the Pakistani
dive in Kensington
where Mr. Scampi endorsed
breaded shrimp
for odd some raison
—4 pounds eight the lot

Salem 1692

leaning tower
sprung from the paving

its bell clangs
hung like the gallows

quaked among rocks
spars whose ropes

when tugged
make iron ringers sail

past the sexton
head swung sideways

and eyes riveted
to the steel statue

hands crossed upon its

popped onto the steeple
dropped bolts

and fissures singing

Sarasota 1998

he had wants
stained glass entry
new wooden windows
fiberglass garage door
small house built in 1928
siding petrified to blond patina
just needs a few touches
here and there
new mantel
vinyl guttering makes such a big
difference but despair
makes more of a difference
so he hung his wants
from the rafters
and swung back and forth
like a good pendula


the summer days
when it would rain lightly
I would read in my bed
with the window open
and let the rainy breeze
blow over my face
I could hear my neighbors
arguing in their kitchen
the squirrels, in the trees
the birds, beneath the eaves
night came
my friends and I would hunt
lightning bugs and load glass jars
with their flickers


rolls with the waves
the wind driving the waves
sand as it runs out

glass for the wavering
streams into waves
old panes

unwaved glass
see through it
built too close to shore

you will undo me
you gaudy thing

Sweetwater 1966

she hoped they'd
love her
tried to love them
their clothes cost
more than a year's tuition
cars as much as her
parents' split level
dinner with them
emptied her purse
trips emptied her VW's tank
they talked vacations
in Zurich and Rome
shinnied gutter spouts
to their beds

Tempe 1994

or a most appropriate fig leaf
to their nakedness
a sermon set loose

after an idea
like a pit bull
that's working the yard

or a sermon as chocolate chip
after the funeral
when the mourners are up to their necks

in coffee
then watch the blue airplane
water flush it away

or before a large audience
each at each lectern
reads homilies written by others

to each other in a kind of code
only they would know
they were making peace subtly

or we knew and could tell
but being subtle ourself

That Little Shop in Taos

with hundreds of crystals
—many talismans
many lives enclosed in odd relics
: Bob’s shinbone
: Sheila’s goblet
: Andy’s garters
How Tarot Can Make You Rich
is sold in the back
while two folks
on the the front lawn
throw cards
and burn incense for the tourists
—didgeridoo and anjunabeats
surround us inside and out
the wood frame shop
while hundreds of strange
insects crawl happily
oblivious to their
former lives as stockbrokers
lawyers and poets

This Lunar Eclipse

clouds obscure it
tinged red these clouds
the moon's face
now probably redder
than my tongue
craters scarred red
then copper brown
then black the moon
clouded by earth
large shadow
over the horizon
over the bank of clouds
the stone frozen
moon of mind

To Have Caged

to have caged God
in His theorems

lust proving sense
sense proving existence

what was left for him
but to wander the valley

as an asthmatic
with no good breathing time

the free breath left
on a mesa yet feathered

only that would open him
as untheorized in that land

where a god roams free
and unhindered destroys all

but sense and a last sense
of what could abate lust

Unless Horses Ride the Mesa

the way these flowers do—horses not wild,
not wild as flowers are, though purplish
in the right light, now, while the sun is low, they seem
more red or blue than purple like the flowers spilling
out of window boxes onto a street or in front
of someone who once lived and had flowers spread
before him as he rode through the streets
on his donkey or horse—it could have been a horse
—what did Adonis ride through town on, anyway
were purple flowers on this mesa then,
were they in bloom, or did these flowers ride
in some man’s saddlebags, unsuspected as he bumped
over rocks and railroad ties, him longing for his wife,
did these seeds spill from his sacks, hidden,—
could he have made his fortune from them
because they are so beautiful, but small,
or am I inventing this and are these flowers
wild and not sown from anyone’s horse?

What Powell Must Have Felt

before we turned this river
into his lake
covering billion
year old rock
with silt and fishbones
so old
we are a pebble to how old
this canyon is
wits must have shook to see
the vastness
and gone enraged to the rim
to be killed
mistaken for escapists
—one arm acrobat
more monkeyish to them
heroic to us
will they discover
what stone cold Powell
our bones indebted
to the minerals

Without Form

my cousin tells me
about his first carpenter job
where he and his buddy

build forms while the master
looks it all over then motions
for the crane to empty

a bucketful of concrete
that breaks over
and pours out and free

into Baltimore harbor
—the master still as a pillar
ruined face streaked

my cousin and his buddy
drop into the caisson
with their shovels

and set to
while the master gets
plastered at a crab house


My daughter, Hayley, sits like the Budda and meditates on Betty Bear,
a yellow chewy. What was her face before her parent’s birth? She
looks like my aunt with her chubby cheeked smile but has my square
forehead. Maybe she’ll like sushi better than her mom likes sushi.
When Hayley backpedals her walker, Frank croons, “You make me feel so
young.” Hayley mews, scratches my neck and nose, too. The sound of her
satin-quilt bear rattlin’— the sound of myself rattlin’. She screams
like true cloud-water. Sometimes when she yells, suddenly there is no
Hayley— just sound.

Poems by Teg George


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