"Dacey's poems are as original as fingerprints."
               -Hudson Review

sample poems

"Memorizing Poems"

"The Soul"

"Letter to his Daughter"

"Lying in Bed With a Book"

"The New Love Poem"

"Serenade"

"Butterly"

"Psalm for Fay"

"To the Thread by Which Everything Hangs"

Two poems: The Buzz/The Descent

Read more poems online.

Read more poems below:

                    DOOZY

                   “Is it spelled doozy or -ey or -ie?”
                                            from a letter



It's doozy in the dictionary, and doozy in my heart,
and doozy up and down the street.

It's doozy where the daisies roam
and dizzy where the lovers doze
and days are lazy.

It's doozy where it's Dacey
and acey-deucy upsy-daisy,
dipsy-doodle when it's crazy,
but doozy all the time.

It's doozy any way you spell it,
but dicey if you try to sell it,
doozy any way you slice it,
with doozy you don't have to spice it up.

So doozy this and doozy that
and keep your doozy hot
and let your doozy out when it wants out,

for hunky dory introibo ad altare dei
makes a fellow woozy
onesy-twosy
does he does she
yes they doozy
to the tune of Tommy Dorsey William Basie any
bluesy band.

Then tell your Suzie there's no time for choosy
and it's all good newsy
till the boozy blowsy
easy jazzy
doozy end.


The Midwest Quarterly, 1999


                  LLAMA DAYS

Because today I walked a llama back home,
I have a new standard for all my coming days.
Just minutes with the llama made this one a poem
of kindly wonders, long-necked woolly praise.

I'd been raking leaves, bent forward, head down,
eyes on my country acre, so that when
I raised them and saw at my driveway's end
a llama standing tall there, checking me out,

I was all stammer and gawk and disbelief
until I thought of Leon, my neighbor half-
a-mile away, whose land was mostly zoo,
menagerie, whatever, I called him Doo-

little, the animal doctor himself,
though Leon was no vet, just one big heart
for anything that walked on paw, web, or hoof--
goat, peacock, sheep, horse, donkey, mink, hare, hart.

But llama?  I'd never noticed one before,
though no doubt my surprise at seeing him
was matched by his at seeing me--or more
than matched, he being lost, freedom become

a burden twice as bad as any bars,
so much so panic struck and he turned back,
high-stepping it onto the road, two-lane, tarred,
and I saw the headline, "Llama killed by truck."

Dropping the rake, I raced to rescue him,
who now stood frozen, straddling the centerline,
looking this way and that--oh, too much room,
too little clue.  I had to herd him to Leon .

With slow approach and arms a traffic cop's,
I eased him into action in the lane
leading to llama-chow and fell into step
beside him--well, sort of, his two to my one.

I talked him down the road, an unbroken string
of chatter my invisible halter and rein:
“Howyadoin?  Where'd you think you were going?
A little farther now, big guy.  You'll be just fine.”

Luckily, no car came to make him bolt,
though I almost wished for one, wanting someone
to see us, like old friends out for a stroll,
shoulder to shoulder in the morning sun.

Once we got close enough to what he knew,
he was gone, down the right driveway this time,
and I was left alone to wave goodbye: “You
take care now.”  His thanks silent.  “You're welcome.”

I don't expect the llama to escape again.
Leon 's repaired a fence, no doubt, or gate.
So I know tomorrow I'll have to find my own,
invent one, a facsimile, and I can't wait.

Already I see him coming like a dream,
disguised as odd events, encounters, small dramas
worth at least a laugh.  Let “He walked his llama home”
be my epitaph.  I wish you lots of llamas.


Cumberland Poetry Review, 2004


           TAKING A SHOWER WITH DANIEL ELLSBERG

I think history has walked into the shower room
where I'm cooling under a steady spray after racquetball
when Daniel Ellsberg enters naked
and asks me if he can borrow some shampoo.

I know I'll never get back the green ribbon
he presses onto his palm but that's okay,
it isn't every day I get to watch, while pretending
not to, a supporting actor in the great American drama

lathering his woolly head until I soon begin
to confuse him with America itself and think
I'm watching my country working its way down
to soaping its genitals and asshole.

It does not matter I heard him speak
last night at this prairie college where he'd come
to instruct the corn, to teach it to grow,
and that I tasselled and tasselled--

I am not prepared for this, unless I have been
preparing for it all my life, as fresh from a swim
in waters most likely shallower than he's been used to
he seems to have stripped off with his clothes

his merely personal self, as well as his public mask,
to reveal the vulnerable and aging body
of a nation whose struggle became his own,
a nation defenseless against itself.

Maybe it's all just soap in my eyes but
his fatty and falling dugs seem to me
those of an old mother of many children,
whose fighting among themselves weighs upon her,

and his bony legs down which water pours
are the weak pillars of democracy, hairy
with freedoms that protect even
the enemies of freedom, so that I think

if Whitman heard America singing I see her
showering, her varied body parts I see,
including a gut like a portmanteau of classified documents,
about to unclassify themselves forever.

But now I've dropped my bar of soap, which skids
across the floor to Ellsberg, or Columbia ,
who scoops it up and hands it back to me
like Liberty passing the torch and suggesting

I clean up my act.  I want to ask about a patriot's
oscillation between pain and pride, but I can only say
thanks and attack my waxy ears--the citizen as listener--
as the all-American androgyne stands still

under the showerhead, eyes closed in what I assume's
a dream of washing a war right out of that hair
till it's squeaky peaceful.  Meanwhile, I can't rub off
a question: does our history leave us naked, revealing us

to ourselves, a self we scrub and scrub in vain
to sanitize, or do we dress ourselves after the shower
in the history we tell the world and each other
to make our nakedness more presentable?

By now the steam is so bad I swear I see
the ghost of Lyndon Johnson writhing in it like a dog
he picked up by his ears and the Pentagon papers fallen
where the draining water returns them to pulp.

Suddenly I notice the shower room is a long tunnel
at one end of which there is light, but I
have had enough of light and move toward the dark end,
leaving Ellsberg fishing, blinded momentarily, for his towel.


Willow Springs, 1998
 

               WINDFALL

When she objected that the bedroom
was too hot that summer day
for what I had proposed and suggested
we create a spectacle of ourselves
for the audience of trees and shrubs
in our backyard, I had forgotten
about the apples.

And when we spread wide open
the sheet and sleeping bag on the grass,
out of sight (mostly) of the road,
and released our entire bodies,
piece by piece of clothing,
into the arms of the air
(which, unaccustomed to such
an opportunity, puffed excitedly),
I was not thinking at all
of the apples.

And even when we laid ourselves down
and sanctified that country acre as it had
long deserved to be sanctified,
sending birds racing between trees
while the whole world gathered itself
in her eyes, into which I looked and looked,
I did not see the apples.

But later that afternoon,
as I carried our clothes toward the house,
and she, walking ahead of me, stopped
to pick up a windfall apple and tasted it,
declaring it delicious and urging me
to take a bite, I most certainly noticed
not only the apple but the garden
surrounding it, like a scene
from a familiar story, one including
a man happy in his skin and a woman as
tall and shapely as she was naked--

naked, that is, except for the Raybans,
which she'd slipped on when she went
to get us each a beer after our holy
expense of energy and which,
with their Vogue-like stylish incongruity,
saved me from an insufferably poetic moment
and let me enjoy the very apple
that the apple was.


Cider Press Review, 2004

 

 

 

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