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Laurie's "Virtual Chapbook"

Try some American Conversational Poetry...

It doesn't put on airs, it doesn't rhyme (mostly), and it's sprinkled with Science/Astronomy imagery ('cause to us SF-readers, Science is just as natural and beautiful as roses or sunsets...)...it's what I call "Modern American Conversational" poetry (as opposed to "New England Transcendental" or "Beat" poetry, or sonnets or something like that), and it's what I write.

Poetry on the Web? Yeah, I know, "serious" poets never put their work online....the online audience tends not to be into poetry, and a lot of what they have seen posted from their fellow hackers is, well, pretty dreadful and enough to turn anybody off.

But given how few people bother reading books of poems published on paper, I figure if even ten people visit this page and read some of my poetry, I'm ahead of the game.

All poems Copyright 1984-1998 by the author, Laurie E. Ochsner. (Don't turn them in to your English 123 class as your own work, or I will hunt you down and kill you. But if you'd like a paper copy or want to publish them somewhere, just ask....I've got enough for a book here, and I'm happy to share. Contact info & background credit are at the end.)

Table of Contents: (Click on a title to go there, or just scroll down.)

  • Dealing With Desertion
  • Distance
  • The Geometry of Human Beings
  • Arachne
  • Poppies
  • Lens
  • Stars
  • E-Male Lunch
  • Sloth Today
  • In the Desert
  • Of the Sea
  • Light Promise
  • Losing Contact
  • Waiting
  • Escaped
  • Gardener
  • Awakening

  • Dealing With Desertion

    I have worked, tried, fought, made mistakes,
    hoped, planned, speculated,
    spent hours by myself.inventing reasons,
    sighed, given up, recommitted,
    walked shopping malls empathizing
    with leaping puppies at the Pet Ranch,
    gone walking, gone running, gone crazy,
    run away, lost myself -
    if only you would do something
    truly obnoxious
    and let me hate you cleanly.


    Beloved, not lover;
    cut him out in little stars
    put him in the sky.

    The Geometry of Human Beings

    You move in your circles,
    I move in my circles,
    and we intersect, sometimes
    go on a tangent together and fall back
    into our separate lives.
    And I revolve around the problem
    of being an individual -
    we exist only in points,
    can know only now
    and look behind us, trapped in the isolation
    of our own point
    of view, our own experience,
    and try as you might
    to share my perspective,
    you cannot leave the track
    in which your race is run,
    the circle of your own life,
    but at most can intersect with mine,
    and when we burn bright enough
    launch together, near escape velocity
    matching paths for awhile til
    the gravity of our lives pulls us apart again
    into ellipses that carry us round
    back into our circles, broadened now
    for having touched.


    This is my sheet of dreams, the music
    of my spheres, my orbs
    uplifting, growing with the night;
    my sound spinning air
    weaving webs
    in silken arcs
    moon reflects in every strand
    lovely long lace
    lonely tree limb
    against moonlight webwork branching
    lowly spinner, growing larger
    with the darkness, spider dancing
    orbs uplifting reflect magic
    long lines lovely rolling seams
    weaving music softly silver
    spider spinning sheets of dreams.


    The rain's Mass ended
    when four-petaled orange bells
    pealed across the grass.

    Table of Contents


    I am glass
    I reflect
    I magnify
    small things

    and in conveying
    images, reflect
    greater ugliness
    and greater beauty
    back at the world,

    project greater
    ugliness and
    greater beauty
    than lies within myself,

    absorb greater
    ugliness and
    greater beauty
    than the world


    I can't remember when
    I couldn't be seduced by them -
    they lie so lovely,
    distant suns no less real
    than the warmth of a lover lying close in the dark
    my intimates, asleep when I wake.

    Our intimates - extend your reach
    son to sun
    the points of light dance
    even for Managua, even for Baghdad, even for Johannesberg -
    a partner for each soul
    dancing in darkness
    waiting for the dawn.

    E-Male Lunch

    O my electronic intimate
    tall, dark, and dreamy
    your letters so
    enticing, so full of
    promise, innuendo, lust -
    yet in meeting so mundane;
    your lips so full
    of work at the office, daily life -
    over ribs and blackened catfish
    I can't believe we're sitting so close
    feeling each other breathe
    watching each other's mouths
    knowing the things we've said
    late at night, alone in our studies
    stroking our keyboards, burning up the wires
    with intimate Email, knowing such things
    about each other
    and not even touching
    just chatting about stocks
    like we worked together
    or your wife were watching;
    you know my husband wouldn't care,
    would understand if we held hands
    once or twice under the table...

    How distant you are -
    your handsome face, your muscled body
    your biceps stretching the cuffs of your short-sleeved shirt
    so not the nerd you could be,
    your writer's words so perfectly describing
    a million things that don't matter...

    How distant you are
    two feet across the table,
    near enough to touch;
    how close
    when you speak
    from a hundred miles away.

    Table of Contents

    Sloth Today

    I am a blob,
    amorphous grey;
    I am a three-toed
    Sloth today.
    The cold in my head
    is weighing me down,
    and I don't feel like walking
    or moving around.

    My nose is at war
    even when I'm asleep;
    it sneezes and runs
    and it's quite hard to keep
    control of things, when
    my brain feels so numb
    and my limbs are thick
    and heavy and dumb.

    It's making me feel
    entirely fat -
    I'm sitting here eating
    and noticing that
    I'm a larger person
    than I used to be,
    and feeding my cold
    is enlarging me.

    If I can lumber
    as far as my bed,
    I'll prop up my pillows
    beneath my head,
    then decide which cold
    remedies to take,
    and hope I recover
    before I awake.

    In the Desert

    I went to Egypt once, alone
    to learn from people there who knew
    the answers to the questions
    I did not yet know to ask.

    I studied silence; I studied patience.
    I studied wind, I studied sand.
    I searched the desert for my darkness
    that had driven you away.

    I learned to plant date palms.
    When I ached from digging,
    I learned to make baskets.
    When the dry reeds cut me,
    I learned to weave cloth.
    When I blistered from the shuttle,
    I learned to dry fruit,
    and milk goats, and sew tents.
    And I dreamed of a sandstorm;
    you were lost in it, alone.

    You'd been traveling for days
    searching for the lost part of yourself
    that remained wary of your approach,
    that would only allow you near
    when you were quiet, and gentle, and centered, and free
    of the noise that chatters daily with us all.
    Just when you and he were about to meet
    I approached, just before the sandstorm came.
    Wanting to help, I had brought supplies -
    dried fruit, and cheese, and cloth in baskets.
    I tried to reach you, to talk to you
    but your lost self saw me, and turned and ran.
    You never saw me; I slipped away
    behind a sheet of sand before you glimpsed my face,
    separated by the storm as completely as by an ocean,
    and I became a hand grasping empty space.

    I stood still with my camel, breathing,
    heating your cries in the cries of the wind
    and knowing that your survival
    had nothing to do with mine.

    Back at the village, I wake on the day of my leaving
    without the tranquility I had hoped to find,
    with your memory not lost
    but wind-burnt into me,
    and thinking that I can find peace
    if I can be the empty space
    enclosed by a hand.

    Of the Sea

    You are dark, rough and dangerous,
    with warm, gentle currents running through you,
    eddies that break on the shore
    in twisted curls of foam,
    broader than I can swim across
    deeper than I can fathom
    sometimes so shallow I can see right through you,
    but a voice that could sing me to sleep
    for the rest of my life.

    Table of Contents

    Light Promise

    When I left work today, it was light outside.
    The air was stabbing vengefully
    cold, and the blinding whiteness
    lay everywhere, across
    roofs, along
    bare sidewalks and streets
    streaked winter-white with salt.

    But each sharp lungful
    brought air from a sky
    still blue, still light enough
    to hide stars behind it.
    And I knew
    that some ancestor long ago
    rose in her skins from the meat at her fire
    or left her child asleep under a heavy quilt
    and stepped outside
    to take deep breaths of bitter-cold air,
    watching the sky,
    feeling the same warmth I feel -
    the creep of daylight
    promising spring.

    Losing Contact

    I am giving you space, so much
    space that I am outside the ship
    in my spacesuit, no longer connected
    even by the support line, but
    floating free, spinning between the
    blue-white plain that fills half my sky and
    the wet black star-studded night
    filling the other.

    Catch me; I came out here
    by myself, could get back
    alone, in time, but adrift
    I think too freely, ponder how much better
    it would be if I moved first,
    cut you off, changed my mind, ended things,
    before you could say those words to me;
    in acting first, imagining control
    anchoring myself again.

    Sometimes there's more danger
    in dealing with your feelings;
    guns and blades and terror games
    only scratch the surface,
    only tax the flesh, are only make-believe.
    But playing on the edge
    of affection counts for real,
    takes more courage, bluffing, maybe losing -
    there's no edge play truer
    nor payoff bigger when you win.

    Table of Contents


    I want to unbutton your shirt and
    pull it off of you,
    slip my hands around your back
    and slide into a kiss,
    melt your lips into mine,
    run my tongue along your lower lip, then
    suck it into my mouth,

    still pressed all up against you;
    to be at last where the most important moment
    is right now, holding you here,
    mashing my self against your skin,
    then fall asleep
    in the interlocking shape we've become...

    In a thousand years or roughly forever
    when it comes to pass that we are together,
    I will breathe these words through my fingertips,
    Braille them into you,
    not speak them aloud.

    Now each night I write another line
    make love to you a little more
    each night
    as I breathe before sleeping.

    Some nights all my time is made of waiting
    listening to thoughts throb
    not patiently but difficult;

    all there is is wanting,
    or having wanted, once you have

    which is sweeter.


    It makes me want to cry
    when I think of your smile,
    your pretty eyes, long-lashed
    your ready laugh,
    your gentle hands that clasp
    the bars of a motorcycle
    or a guitar, or a baby,
    or my hands
    with the same intenseness,
    the same strength
    pouring out of your bright, burning core
    that loves and hates
    and measures the world to your length
    loving me
    loving her, loving him - all
    facets in the kaleidescope of you
    undiminished by your refraction -

    when I think
    hard thoughts and fractured
    edges - you are slipped away
    like the one perfect face
    you glimpse for an instant
    in the crowd by the subway,
    live whole lives in a look of mutual attraction
    cut off when the doors slam shut -

    I am standing in the station
    watching you leave
    with no right to chase you,
    ask your destination or give you
    mine, just alone
    tasting that moment of connection
    as it echoes down the line.


    You water me, feed me
    guide my limbs skyward,
    stroke the dust from my leaves,
    train the tendrils of my hair,
    and, beneath your fingers,
    I bloom.


    You breathe into my ear, and
    the hiss of moisture creeps
    through, the seed the clouds needed
    to start the rain -
    which collects, from mist to drops,
    starts to fall, falls, and cascades...

    Open wide beneath the sky, parched prairie
    I catch the torrent, deep spring rain,
    my grass growing long and lush, vibrant green and tall,
    flowers waving in lazy breezes, blossoms
    paper-thin and fragrant, calling through the air,
    prairie dogs nesting, darting
    in and out my edges,
    grouse and pheasant soaring over me,
    my roots wriggling down into the earth
    tendrils emerging, drinking, slaking thirst
    nourishing my buttes and valleys,
    my hills rolling out to the horizon
    infinite in every direction, alive and
    spread open wide beneath the sky.

    Poems by:

    Laurie Ochsner
    536 Heathcliff Drive
    Pacifica, CA 94044

    Background for this page by Terry Gould (kestrel@netaccess.on.ca); used by permission.

    Table of Contents

    This the chapbook. And this is the counting of the chapbook:

    © 1996, 2000 ChaosMedia by Laurie Ochsner.