Monday, August 22, 2011

Rules In My Daughter’s Sixth Grade Handbook (That Weren’t In Mine)

(A found poem--draft)

Underwear exposed or worn
as outerwear
is unacceptable;

no pajamas or slippers
will be permitted
(except on Pajama Day).

Pants should be an appropriate length
and not dragging on the ground.

Students must act responsibly and use
appropriate language and behavior
on computers and the Internet.

Use of toys and electronic devices
(including but not limited to

CD players,
cell phones,
pagers, and
laser pointers)

are not permitted during school hours.

Public displays of affection, including
hugging, kissing, holding hands, etc…
are not appropriate in the school setting.

--Martin A. Bartels

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Marisa Tomei, Marisa Tomei"

We had a fleeting affair although
it’s possible you may not remember
your briefest cameo.

By coincidence we followed the same
map of Italy while you filmed “Only You”—
Florence, San Gimignano, Certaldo, Rome,

and then Positano where I turned a corner
outside Le Sirenuse, our eyes met and
we were cast into the inevitable.

Again, it is possible you may not remember.

Tabloids would soon ask “who is this man?”
as poets are singularly anonymous but
love the word “paparazzi.”

I asked you if actresses could be trusted
not to turn each day into vastly complex
movie scenes and you laughed at me knowing

I would one day write this very scene.
“Should I trust a poet?” you scoffed. I was
stupidly miffed. A stray dog followed us into

Chez Black and you insisted he stay
over the protests of our waiter. We tipped well.

Leaving, a young boy out of a film by Fellini
ran up the street shouting your name.

—Martin A. Bartels

(Author's notes may be found under "Comments")

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


(draft, Aug. 10, 2011)

Inevitably it rains, the chirrup of the forest night
muted by a thousand tiny drumbeats of raindrops on our
tent roof. The smell of smoldering firewood clings to

everything, a rustic bouquet accented by hints of 
pine, damp dirt, decaying leaves, our humid sweat.
The scents mingle until there is no differentiation,

we have become our forest selves--a stray leaf settles
in your hair as proof. Tiny stones and dirt clamber to fill the
space between my toes. They, in turn, yearn to become roots,

and that itself is the lure: We seek out this tiny isolation to
lose ourselves in the nothingness, the simplicity that is
not the us of every day. This is the reset button: Start anew.

The rain slows, then fades, forest noises reassert. I cannot
help but succumb to primal anxiety in this darkest hour. 
Confronted by such elemental weakness, I bemoan the fact 

that there are no superheroes whose indefatigable strengths 
are love and patience, understanding, faith, and the ability to 
withstand the sudden onslaught of painful memories.

--Martin A. Bartels