37 posts from Silent Movies of the Spoken Tongue

How Coyote Was the Moon: a Sonnet

The world was not always the same as now.
There was no moon, just stars came out at night.
"We need to see" the people said, "but how"?

Red Fox went up & curled up in the sky.
He was too hot. Crops Burned. No one could sleep.
"Come back down here" they called, "you burn too bright"!

Coyotl was next. He liked what he could see.
Not hot or cold, Coyotl was just too loud.
"Hey you!" he called to folk who kissed or thieved.

No one could sleep again. "Coyotl! Come down!
We changed our minds—let someone else be moon.
You pry too much, besides, you’re just a clown!"

That's why Coyotl howls when he sees the moon—
the only job he liked, he lost—that's true.

Poem Written on the Night of My Daughter's Conception

for Trish

The tide moving against
            the tide,
all water the same.
      Two rivers touching razor edges.
Blue morning filters through
     the window of the drowned.
All life springs from this place.
All life returns so.
    The cycle of spawning salmon,
twin rivers meeting head on.
Rain will return to the ocean.
Ocean will fill the sky.

There are rivers flowing in darkness
to sing our babes to sleep.
    Soft to the touch, embracing,
skins slide off
     & are left, washed up at the shoreline,
    slapped about by waves.
All water the same.
The river seeks the ocean
      which would swallow the land
        & reclaim its parts.
The dams will fall
           in time,
the reservoir will move on its way.
    You cannot hold what slips
                  through your fingers.
    You cannot keep what rises
                through air.

Your lips are wet & salty
remembering the joy of your birth.

Shiva: Lost on Endless Highways Amid the Honkeytonks

We circle & sniff & are not sure
dancing together but far apart.
Unease is clear unlike the cure.

Love still casts a patent lure
but even with hunger in the heart,
we circle & sniff & are not sure.

Desire swells & reason blurs
hot & cold sweat alike taste tart.
Unease is clear unlike the cure.

The path to union arcane, obscure
the steps of the courting dance forgot.
We circle & sniff & are not sure.

If we have forsaken what once was pure,
what of it?  Lust has its own lost art.
Unease is clear unlike the cure.

Doubt is no enemy as he was before.
Love & lust both bound in relativity's arc.
Yet, we circle & sniff & are not sure.
Unease is clear unlike the cure.


In the clasp of hands
the dance began,
fingers tracing palms.
Our skin’s rough rasp
soothing all qualms,
forming a bond so strong
I couldn’t grasp it.

Call it transgression,
I felt transmission.
There was a union
in the beginning
never lost in moving on.

Be there for me
in the darkness.
Be there for me
in the night.
Be there, even in absence
when the fires have all burnt out
and the passion is gone.

Call it transgression,
I felt transmission.
There was a union
in the beginning
never lost in moving on.

Motion Like a Hummingbird

Our lips meet,
separated only by
your long dark hair.
I pull my head away in a long curve,
stretching to let the hair fall away,
and return,
pull away in a curve, again,
and return
pull and return, and when
your hair at last drops from my mouth
I kiss you then, and think:
I am stitching us together.

Panorama Nonpareil

The sight of your spine
sends shivers down my back.  Twice.
Rising in simple curve, alive,
flanked by planes of subterranean ribs
echoing its arch, complementing
scapula its capital.

Were the landscape of this place we live
formed of such crescendo and subtlety
I would have to be buried here
as I could never leave.
& if you cannot join me
when I go from here,
I won’t be leaving.

We could travel the world, you & I,
showing it, in your anatomy
the construction of a perfect place,
a panorama nonpareil.

Rooted In Loess

Why would you sit here
keeping company with me
in the cold, hard wind,
if you plan only to depart,
leaving the wind
that much colder?

A Trick of the Light

You scratch me up the back of my legs
in slow, abrasive, rasps of pleasure
without your hands,
firmly dug in my back pockets,
ever leaving my ass.
It’s a trick that leaves me gasping
till I grasp that as you bring me in tight
to your body, the motion
carries sun heated, black, stiff, denim
against the back of my calves.
We stand in gravel, in the glare
of a cloudless day, and I marvel
that you could be so ingenious.


I fall into the bed as the sun climbs.
The wind, too weak to dispell heat
or traffic noise, still has the strength
to blow curtains into the room,
brushing my skin as lightly as your caress.
Intermittent strokes of sun and shade
bleed over my skin in a comfortable wash,
the warmth and caresses coming and going
as you do.


After the argument
I hear your hand moving
toward me in the sheets.
Just for a moment I think
you might be reaching to touch me.
You don’t. You were just moving deeper
into sleep and further away.
I laugh to myself about hope,
thinking, “maybe this is why I love you—
You have combined the sweet pain of loving
an unobtainable woman, with constant presence
and just enough satiation to live on.”
Our bed is often a netless tightrope,
but I don’t worry about you falling.
You could just step to the ground,
having already re-invented distance
to suit you.

John T. Unger poet

I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

Before becoming a visual artist, I spent 15 years as a poet. I studied poetry at Interlochen Arts Academy, Naropa, Stone Circle and on the streets. I performed my work for years at Stone Circle, solo shows, poetry readings, and at Lollapalooza in 1996.

I still write poems, but only if I can make them fit the constraints ofTwitter.

Mobile: 231.584.2710 (9 to 5 PST only) | Email me

Art IS my day job

Popular Pages + Entries

  • All content © 1992-2013, John T Unger.