Sunday, November 30, 2003

Kerouac on Prayer

"Did you know the prayer I use?"
"I sit down and say, and I run all my friends and relatives and enemies one by one in this, without any angers or gratitudes or anything, and I say like 'Japhy Ryder, equally empty, equally to be loved, equally a coming Buddha,' then I run on, say, to 'David O. Selznick, equally empty, equally to be loved, equally a coming Buddha' though I don't use names like David O. Selznick, just people I know because when I say the words 'equally a coming Buddha' I want to be thinking of their eyes, like you take Morley, his blue eyes behind those glasses, when you think 'equally a coming Buddha you think of those eyes and you really do suddenly see the true secret serenity and the thuth of his coming Buddhahood. Then you think of your enemy's eyes."
The Dharma Bums, pp. 68-69, Viking-Penguin, 1958, New York; © 1958 Jack Kerouac; renewed Stella Kerouac and Jan Kerouac, 1986
I stumbled on this as I indulge my current Kerouac obsession. Coincidentally, I am also preparing to lead a program on prayer for my church. Imagine praying for your enemies, that they are equally a divine manifestation of the coming Christ. Well, I'm pretty sure Jesus would be cool with that.

I'm a little over half-way through Dharma Bums and I keep thinking: Kerouac, during his time as a look-out on Desolation peak (recorded in Desolation Angels) really did succeed in following in Thoreau's footsteps . That cabin, marooned up on that peak, was even more separated from society than Thoreau's cabin — which was essentially in Emerson's back yard.

I also think how often Kerouac's prose lifts up and sings in Whitman's tradition. Whitman was also into Buddha, as many of the Transcendentalists were, so he would have been happy to walk with Jack. Yeah, Ti Jean walked the same open road Whitman walked.

I think of how I've sort of bought into the middle class dream that Ti Jean (Kerouac) rejected. I mean, good grief, I have a mortage and an eight to five job. Yet, I still strive to walk my own path. And confront the beast wherever possible and however necessary.

And, finally, I think how sad that Jack couldn't live the dream and follow Buddha to the end of the road. Drinking yourself to death is not the path of Buddha. But, look, that doesn't deny the truth of what he was saying or the truth of his hunger. The hunger for spirit, as they say, will either go for the true spirit, the Great Cosmic Spirit Kerouac and Ginsberg found in Buddha, and others find in Christ or in nature or in the stars; or that hunger will go for the false spirit which generally comes from a bottle. Some of the greatest spiritualists live on skid row.

We'll never hear their prayers, tho' they may be truer than the Sunday morning Amen corner. Thank heavens that traveler Jack Kerouac, Ti Jean, is still in print, so we can read his prayers.
You may have noticed my saying I would be leading a program on prayer at my church. I hope to post some notes from that presentation on this web-log. Yet another direction to go, and I can only guess how it will affect the banner ads.

Ideé d’jour

Let the mystery be.
— Iris DeMent, singer/songwriter

Friday, November 28, 2003

Divine Lover

Divine Lover
Why do you follow me wherever I go
Why do I see you everywhere I look
In church last Sunday
the woman four pews ahead
had hair like yours
The blonde-haired woman
had a head shaped just like yours
And the trees
driving home from church beloved
as the trees clapped their hands
as the trees changed for autumn
the hands they were waving
were your hands beloved
Divine Lover
you were smiling at me
from within the leaves
of the maple autumn glory

Buy Nothing Today

I tell you what, I am thankful for the children in Malaysia who make the clothes they sell at Wal Mart
I am thankful for their sub-standard wages that make it possible for me buy those clothes cheap
I am thankful they have the chance to live the Dickensian dream
I tell you what, I am thankful cars are being made in Mexico, Japan, and Germany,
rather than here in America; export the dream, I say.
I tell you what, I am thankful Halliburton has bought Iraq
cause that'll teach those Emirs in Arabia to keep raising oil prices
I tell you what, I am thankful for Wal Mart — they stay open all Thanksgiving Day
I tell you what, I don't care what it takes
just don't take away my standard of living
keep them terrorists and commies from my door.
Say what? You say my job is next to be shipped over-seas?
Well, you're still going to pay me, aren't you?
Fight the power! Confront the consumerism demon & be triumphant! Buy Nothing Today!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I'm Piglet?

You are Piglet
You choose your friends wisely and even though they may be few in number, they are high in importance. You feel most comfortable when you can follow the crowd and let others make decisions. But that's not to say you can't make up your own mind if you need to. Faithful and true, Piglets make the best friends.
Which Pooh character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
I wonder which pane of the Jo-Hari window these Quizilla quizes reveal and/or reflect.

Ideé d’jour

If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know.
— Louis Armstrong
One of the greatest Zen statements made by an American.


web-foot dawn
stalks up the horizon

the moon ticks slowly
past saturn & mars

black cat stretches
across the lawn
flees down the morning

my words are empty
hollow commanders
chasing after each "a" and "z"

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Haiku: 21.Nov.03

Piebald cat watches
me drive past.  She looks both ways
then crosses the street.
The stained-glass cat comes courtesy of my new e-mail friend, Connie Beckers. More of her work may be viewed at Goddess of Glass.

Connie's work graces several of my postcards. In this instance, I sent her the poem, and asked her to select a pre-existing stained-glass piece which best illustrated it. Here, you may see the final result.
southeast morning sun
varigates the sky in pink shades
behind the new capital dome

birds perch on the rim
of the famous milk bottle,
form the ridges of the cap

i drive this labyrinth
every morning & each turn
reflects a new scene

Ideé d’jour

Why does no one confess his sins? Because he is yet in them. It is for a man who has awoke from sleep to tell his dreams.
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca, writer and philosopher (BCE 3-65 CE)

Monday, November 24, 2003

Ideé d’jour

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
— Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter, architect, and poet (1475-1564)
Yep. That Michelangelo. Wonder if we can adopt the same attitude to words on the page?

Friday, November 21, 2003

Slogan adapted from an evangelical bumper-sticker.

Bolivia Postcard Poems

The editing & layout are done! All that remains is the actual photocopying and stapling. I still have hopes of having a few copies in time for this Sunday's art show (see below). A pdf version is available, but you'll have to write me and beg to receive the pdf version. Be forewarned that copying and collating will be required in order to view the chapbook in its intended format.

Our production costs are likely to be low, and proceeds will go to the Ninnekah Methodist Church, if you chose to order a paper version.

By the way, as you'll see if you click on the MapQuest link below, Ninnekah is a bedroom community of Chickasha, OK, which is a university town. Chickasha is about an hour's drive southwest of Oklahoma City. The Methodist church is very charming, very much in the "country church" style.


Prairie Fruit
Art Show and Reception
featuring works by
Linda Pope

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 23
Ninnekah Methodist Church
912 Grand
Ninnekah, Oklahoma

Map to Ninnekah

A sampling of art
available online

News d’jour

Haven't said much about Prez Shrub's visit to Great Britain or the fall of the gloved one. Actually, the news I've been following concerns the bombings in Iraq, Turkey, and elsewhere in the region. Not much I can say, except it's tragic.

The Iraqi people may be free from Saddam, but the violence of their existence has increased. Now, rather than a few getting tortured in Saddam's prisons, masses of regular citizens are affected by bombs from both Americans and the terrorists.

My question is only: how long before another strike happens here? All the Patriot Acts in the world are not going to slow down one dedicated terrorist. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I strongly suspect the terrorists will "bring it on" to American soil before the next election.

Dream, Friday Morning

Who was that woman?
I don't know, it was just a dream.
Well, I think it might have been Toni,
but then it could have been an amalgram
of all the women I was attracted to
who were not drawn to me.
I don't know. It was a dream.
So, anyway, I was living in an all-male dorm
that was like one long open lodge
(come to think of it, I believe I've dreamed this lodge before).
The beds were lined up length-wise along the wall
on each side of this long open space.
I remember the bed next to mine, at the head,
had a radio placed in the window-sill
and the man liked to play music softly, all night long.
And Toni - and we'll call her Toni
because it just seems rude to keep calling her
'this woman' —
Toni wanted to sleep with the man
across from me and up one
(if you know what I mean).
She swore me in as an accomplice —
though how we were going to keep a woman a secret
in an all-male dorm is a mystery
which could only survive dream logic.
So, I was getting ready for bed,
I mean, I was just taking off my pants
(discretely, because ladies were present)
when she came right up to me
and asked if I had pajamas I would loan her.
Not sure what happened next —
guess I loaned her something,
maybe an old shirt and some pajama bottoms,
because then she curled up next to the other man,
you know, the guy sleep one up and across from me.
I don't suppose they screwed or anything —
seems like the alarm went off about at this point —
but I do remember the radio
playing music all night long.
Just a bit of dream journaling, in a semi-poetic format.

Word of the Day

extramundane (ek-struh-mun-DAYN) adjective
Beyond the physical world.
[From Late Latin extramundanus (beyond the world), from Latin extra- + mundanus, from mundus (world).]
Today's word comes courtesy of Word a Day.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Across the Chiasm

God created the heavens in the day
the earth was without form
and when no plant of the field was yet in the earth
the darkness was upon the face of the deep
for the Lord God was moving over the face of the rain
And God said "Let there be ground"
but a mist went up from the earth
and God separated the light from the dust from the ground
and the darkness he called the east
a garden in the east
in the midst of the waters and let it separate
every tree that is pleasant
And God made them good for food
the waters flowed out of Eden
to water the garden
under the firmament, and
they became four rivers.
The name of the first is Pishon.
And it was so.
First experiment of selecting phrases across the "gutter" (or chiasm) of a two-columned Bible. This selection conflates the first few lines from the book of Genesis with lines from the second chapter. Who knows? Maybe this was the origin of William S. Burroughs' concept of "cut-up".

Anniversaries, Pt. II

The second anniversary of this week has slightly more personal resonance than the mass suicides at Jonestown.

Friday, November 22, 1963 was my eighth birthday. I have now out-lived the man who was shot this day, who died at the age of 46. I don't know if it was a lone gunman or a conspiracy involving everyone from J. Edgar Hoover to Fidel Castro. All I knew then was the President had been shot. John F. Kennedy had been assasinated on my eighth birthday.

Many of my friends who are the same age have a memory of hearing the announcement in school. My memory is of watching Uncle Walter deliver the news once I got home. There's a good possibility my memory betrays me, for Kennedy died around 1:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. Seems like we watched the funeral at school, but my memory may be playing me false there as well.

I don't recall that I was very much aware of Kennedy or national politics prior to his death. I would have been a rare eight year-old if I had been. But I did get caught up in the hagiography following his death — to the point that I felt very conflicted about the coincidence of my birthday falling on the date of his assasination. This became so extreme that I announced that I did not want to celebrate my birthday.

Well, you know a kid is a bit overly sensitive when he doesn't want to celebrate his birthday! No clue why my dad didn't hie me to a therapist then & there.

But I've had mixed feelings about the date even as recently as a decade ago. But here we are, fourty years later, and it's a day. I'm no more troubled by the coincidence than I am by the fact of growing older.

I did watch the better part of "The Kennedys" on PBS this year. To be honest, as I watched again, I felt sadder about Robert's death in '68 than I did about Jack's. But I have not watched any of the other specials, and do not anticipate watching the ABC special supporting the theory of a Lone Gunman (Lee Harvey), which is scheduled to air tonight.

I suppose that's the trick of it — to be aware of the coincidence, but not immerse myself in it. The man is dead. He had his faults and his glories like any other man. As we have learned, he was far from a saint. He certainly made a tragic mistake by increasing America's involvement in Viet Nam. The Bay of Pigs was a mis-step almost worthy of our current President. But on the other hand, his response to the Cuban Missle Crisis proved that he could achieve a diplomatic ideal. The Civil Rights Act began on his watch — although, admittedly, events pressed him to finally take action on what was a political hot potato (he needed southern votes to achieve a second term).

In other words, like most of us, John F. Kennedy was a complicated man. We may see him as a tragic hero, in the mold of King Arthur, or we may see him as a deeply flawed human being, like Bill Clinton. Either extreme misses the real person, whom we can only hint at. It does not serve the man's memory to beatify him, for that neglects the whole person.

Anniversaries, Pt. I

This is a week of anniversaries. And I have fairly clear memories of both of them.

Twenty-five years ago this week, approximately 911 people willing swallowed poison at the direction of Jim Jones, in Jonestown, Guyana. I was nominally a attending college at the time, and chose to stay in town in order to attend a Bob Dylan concert (the "Street Legal" tour). I was living in a dorm, but the dorms were closed over the Thanksgiving break. A former college roommate let me stay at his place, while he and his family went out of town for the holiday.

Most of that week-end, I read Perry Mason mysteries. Well, tv was pretty boring, but I needed a break from the sort of heavy reading I was doing for classwork. But one night I turned on the news. And there it was — the whole chilling story. The story progressed; it seemed a few of Jones' bodyguards had left the compound prior to the mass suicides. We began to learn more about what life was like in Jonestown prior to the deaths. I dealt with the story the best way I knew how — I wrote a song. I imaginatively placed myself in the place of one of those bodyguards, asking myself how it would feel to be betrayed by one's leader in this

For Jones' ministry had begun in the streets, helping the poorest of the poor. His was a socially-activist ministry which also preached non-violence. But, what started as a non-violent movement which fed street people in Ohio (then California) ended with guns and suicide in Guyana.
I've been lost for a long time, so I came out to the Guyana jungle; and the Lord handed me a gun.
The Lord handed me a gun.

Well, Jesus liked his wine, and Moses told us lies.
That's what the Lord said to me
And the Lord set me free.

Well, my parents wrote me a letter, saying "Jason, please come home."
We planted crops, and it would rain
The Lord, he did everything.

So my brother came to see me;
Said, "We miss you, can't you see?"
He stayed for nearly a week
I hope we had plenty of time to speak.

I didn't know the congressman
He wasn't even from my state
But someone put a knife in his side
And the Lord handed out the cyanide.

To the jungle I have run, for the Lord handed me a gun.
For the Lord handed me a gun.
© 1975

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Word Doodling

I had a little satori this morning, after I left my steamy shower. This idea had to do with a poetic technique.

I've already discussed the "Poem-a-Day" concept as described by William Stafford in his book Writing the Australian Crawl. The idea is not to try to write something deathless each day, but merely to write. A phrase or image from a mediocre poem may still prove to be the spring-board for a superior poem, or may find a home in a superior poem.

Well, for the past couple of days, I've had this image of the leaves of the Autumn Glory Maple — they are a bright red, and seem to provide their own source of light, or to glow like neon. This image led to a phrase, "autumn glory maple leaves / luminesce an unearthly red"; but I could not think of where to go from there.

So, there I am, padding au natural from bathroom to bedroom, when it strikes me that I could approach the thing like doodling. Whenever I'm in a meeting, I'm an inveterate doodler. Generally what I do is swirl my pen around until my subconcious suggests a shape or image — sort of like seeing pictures in the clouds. It's a very left-brain sort of activity, and I'm never concerned about what the end result will look like.

So: I wrote down that first image in my "patented" on-line Poem Postcard Format. By the point I wrote those first two lines, a third came to me.

I let the whole thing percolate in my subconcious until noon. As I walked to lunch, I tried to be very aware of weather conditions and the state of the trees. I'd already been thinking of trees as suburban sentinels, so I held that phrase in reserve. I noticed several trees where some leaves had changed and others hadn't. Although the word "piebald" may not seem accurate (it's most commonly used for black and white, esp. horses), I liked the sound of it. I was also charmed to realize the sky was a stormy gray this morning, and was brilliantly blue at noon, so I chose to include that in the poem as well.

Well, the third verse seemed pre-ordained: time of day, state of trees. You see the whole thing played out in the four entries below.
late afternoon is still clear
trees lean north-ward
gifting leaves to the wind
These entries may now be viewed as one postcard. Click through, and see if the verses arrange the way you thought they would.
other suburban sentinels
piebald brown & dusty orange
celebrate blue-sky noon
autumn glory maple leaves
luminesce an unearthly red
against gray Nov sky

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Ideé d’jour

You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.
— Meister Eckhart, theologian (c. 1260-1327)

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Lee Malvo

When I return
I'll be a mountain
people will trample on
for five thousand years
When I heard this on this evening's All Things Considered, it seemed a striking bit of "found poetry." The quote is from Mr. Malvo's questioning; it was reportedly the last question, "Do you believe in reincarnation?"

If you follow the above link, look for the story titled "Author Calls Malvo Comments 'Chilling'."
Prairie Fruit
Art Show and Reception
featuring works by
Linda Pope

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 23
Ninnekah Methodist Church
912 Grand
Ninnekah, Oklahoma

Map to Ninnekah

A sampling of art
available online


we're walking across the street
in an elevated covered bridge
watching folk walk below
through filmy windows

the women in front of me
are sight-seeing: the student
with orange hair, the
leaves that match

well, i'm on a deadline
i'm walking fast and wondering
why they're walking so slow
seems we each walk our path
at our own chosen speed

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


You don't necessarily live in the world of Jack P. Muenster
yes, I realize sometimes it feels like it
when you hear the sound of hob-nailed boots
but really it's only an echo

Well, Jack likes to drive a Ford 4x4
he likes to ride through the wilderness
on a gas-powered chain-saw

But that's his world, not ours

Jack will kill to protect his home
and he's got the guns to prove it
Jack's loaded up and full up and
he's ready to go

Jack is marching across the world
Jack is holding the Milky Way hostage
Jack is standing at your door

But you don't have to live in his world.
As for me and my house,
Jack ain't welcome here

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Armistice Day

Students of American History may remember: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month. Armistice Day, commemorating the date and time the Armistice was signed at the end of World War I. The Great War, it was said, that would end all wars.

I don't recall when Armistice Day became Veterans' Day, but I insist on calling it by its original name. Not to slight any veterans who have died in subsequent wars, nor to slight the men and women who are currently dying in Afganistan and Iraq. But to comment on that notion that there could ever be a war to end all wars.

Only Armegeddon will end all wars — that is to say, the war that ends the world as we know it. Look, I don't know if it will be the four horsemen and all that Hal Lindsey/Tom LeHaye crap, or if it will be the great bomb we feared in the fifties. It might be a series of things, like dirty bombs and biological warfare. But humanity retains the tools and the capacity to destroy itself several times over.

Humanity seems strongly tied on the wheel of suffering and death we call war. There seems no escape. Let us never again fool ourselves into believing we can fight a war to end all wars, anymore than we can fight a war to end terrorism.

People have always had a choice how to respond to violence. Most of the time, we choose to respond with violence. The number of times we have chosen a non-violent alternative, or even diplomacy with the threat of violence (which is at least nominally better than actual violence), are extremely rare. The most natural thing in the animal kingdom is to respond to violence with violence. It takes an extreme act of will to respond any other way. I would suggest, however, that the non-violent (or diplomatic) response is the mature one — the response of an evolved being.

Let us take a few moments today, at eleven o'clock, to meditate on how we can be agents for true Armistice. Let us honor the fallen by becoming people who promote peace before guns. Let us sit in silence at 11 o'clock, as our grandparents once did, and pray for a lasting peace. Only in this way may we avoid the final Great War.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Door Open

I left the door open all night
so my spirit could go forth
and wander to & fro in the earth

She was a prairie schooner
sailing across fallen leaves
she danced with Bertolt Brecht

She saw that Mars
described one horizon
Saturn defined the other

She dreamed her way
across the dewy loam
to watch leaves melt into sunrise
Second draft. Does it still need work?

Friday, November 07, 2003


The only way through it
Is to do it
He who moves a love to scorn
Shall feel the prick
Of the rose's thorn
Up-dated, & corrected, thanks to Cousin Kathi

Thursday, November 06, 2003

For Emily

Here's a large notecard dedicated to my sometime muse, Emily Dickinson. The "poem" (if you will) is randomly selected first lines from a collection of Emily's poems (copyright information is on the card).

Take a peak, then come back here & let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


They were hungry and I fed them
after all, that's my job
and I make good money, after tips

No, I don't know what
they were talking about
I don't listen to the customers
that would be rude

Yes, I am Algerian
but I have lived here many years
I am also American

Yes, I send money home to my family
Yes, I am Moslem
but I am not al Queda

I am American

They were thirsty, so I gave them drink
oh, some water maybe sweet wine
who can remember

I don't know what they were talking about

I don't know more now
than I did four months ago
When can I go home?

I am American
Heard about this Tuesday evening on All Things Considered. This is obvious fiction, since all court documents are classified. Just active imagining. Read more about the referenced case at: here, here and here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Sweeps Week Reviews Are In!

This past week, Michael Wells took on the task of reading and reviewing five web-logs dedicated to poetry and/or poetics. A brave offer, that. Probably best for his sanity that only six "blogs" were nominated, and of those, only five were active.

You may read all the reviews right here.

Of the five reviewed, Love During Wartime (you are here) rated number one. I'm very flattered, Michael.

Here's Michael's full review:
Love During Wartime impressed me the most.  The Poetic Powerpoint really caught my attention.  Clearly James has taken it upon himself to accentuate poetry and poetics during Blog Sweeps week.  That's fine, he got there.  Still there are strong political under tones in his work.  I found the GBII Poet to be enjoyable.

Mixing Warren Zevon, George Wallace (not the former governor), L.C., and Cassie Lewis's material with his own provided well rounded reading.  Aesthetically the site is pretty hum-ho, but he made up for that with his content.  Again I feel the Poetic Powerpoint stold (sic) the show.
Well, I confess that I have been lazy about the layout. I simply selected one of Blogger's "pre-fab" layouts, and have been working within the restrictions that layout creates (e.g., an extra-wide right margin).

As I noted going in to "Sweeps Week," I began this blog as an arena in which to air my political, religious, and philosophical views. The past few months, however, have focused on poetry — with an occasional political or religious aside. Sometimes, the poems have had political content — Michael highlights "GB II, Poet" (see Wed., Oct. 29). I would also mention the Evo Morales says postcard.

Well, I'm very honored and flattered. But my ego is still in check.

Thanks to everyone who stops by for a read. Especially to you, Michael.

Ideé d’jour

It is often forgotten that (dictionaries) are artificial repositories, put together well after the languages they define. The roots of language are irrational and of a magical nature.
— Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986)


words like dark clouds
gang up on the hollow drain
postulants walk the cloister

words like hidden sunlight
find their own meaning
re-define themselves in covert rows

words like weathered hands
caress the cheek
and leave only echoes

Monday, November 03, 2003

letters pace the traces

letters pace the traces
stand in neat lines
then are called to their places

sentences are not sentient
but they wait at the canyon edge
to spring into infinite ether

well, that's one form of the myth
and we memorized it in the depths
of grandmother’s well
Also in Postcard Format. Natch!

Epic Poem ...

For some time, I have intended
to write my epic poem
about why I no longer write poetry.
It would be an incredible poem.
It would be so moving,
people would beg me
not to stop writing poetry.
It would be a hard poem to write.

I mean, first, it would have to find a form.
Should it rhyme?
Should it be a symphony of sprung rhythms?
Would it be a bouquet of sonnets?
Well, finally I decided
it would be one of those poems
where each line would find its own length & form
   even if it went beyond the end of
   the page.

Of course, it would be highly ironic.
It would have to be,
being a poem about not writing poetry.
If I were serious about it,
and this were conceptualist art,
I would get up and read the title:
'An Epic Poem About Why I No Longer Write Poetry
   composed in a friend's living room while she
   washed my car & a cat stood guard'
Then sit down.
To a room filled with silence.

c. 1986

Sunday, November 02, 2003

How to Create Your Own Poetry Postcard

Today's lesson requires some prior knowledge of both html and Cascading Style Sheets. I measured a standard picture postcard, and arrived at the dimensions 4.25 x 6 inches. In Photoshop, I created an image this size, and determined the image would be 334px x 432 px. Simple multiplication and division determined sizes from there; for example, if the message size side of the card were to be as large as the address side (as is true with most picture postcards), the message side could only be 231 px x 334 px.

After a couple of days of playing with this format, I arrived at some standards which could be put in a stylesheet:
body { background: #4682B4 }
/*This makes the over-all background about the same shade as "Word Perfect" blue*/

td {vertical-align: top }
/*This guarantees the image, and the poem, will begin at the top of any table cells*/

h3 { font-family: 'comic sans', cursive, verdana, sans-serif; text-align: center }
/*This is the font I selected for the address side of the card. Note I offer a couple of alternative fonts in the event the user's machine does not have "comic sans"*/

#cit { font-family: verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 8 pt; }
/*This is the font and font size for the citation which appears beneath the picture*/

#bottom { vertical-align: bottom; font-size: 8pt;}
/*This is primarily used for the "Daphne Productions" credit*/

#stamp { float:right; vertical align: top }
/*Obviously, this controls where the "stamp" image will appear*/

For most of my postcards, I have used a table to control where things appear. The next generation of Web whiz-kids are opposed to using tables for formatting, but this is a relatively small one. You'll note that I've left myself a trail of section headings, as comments.
<table align="center" height="668">
### That "668" is twice "334"; this guarantees the table will at least be as tall as both sides of my "virtual postcard" ###
<td colspan="2">
### The following assumes the image is landscape. I use a different format for "portait", which I'll discuss below. ##
<img src="http://server/images/filename.jpg" width="432" height="334">
### CARD BODY ###
<td width="216" height="334" bgcolor="#87CEFA">
### The "bgcolor" (background color) here is a slightly lighter blue that the body of the page. Blue was selected because it is easier on the eyes than white ###

### Picture Citation ###
<div id="cit"><font size="-2">
Author Name and dates
Picture title
Media and dimensions
source (and link to website, as appropriate)
### CARD TEXT ###
<div id="bottom"><font size="-2"><i>Daphne Productions</i></font></div>
<td width="216" bgcolor="#87CEFA">
### Place for inside address and stamp ###
<div id="cit"><font size="-2">Address</font></div>
<div id="stamp">
<img border="0" src="http://server/dir/Images/filename" width="57" height="81"></div>
### The dimensions of the stamp are arbitary - based on what looked good to my eye. The empty line below
is outrageous fudging to allow space between the stamp and the fictious address. ###
<h4> <br /> </h4>
### Mailing Address ###
City, State, etc</h3>

As far as that "216 px" restriction goes, about the best format I've found is three stanzas of three verses each. The lines need to be relatively short, as well; the available space seems to be about 18 em, when using 12pt 'Times New Roman' font. Anything beyond that becomes a notecard, rather than a postcard. And I've done a few of those as well.

The advantage of these external limitations is they force one to be brief and concise. There is also an element of "first thought, best thought" at operation, since there is little chance for editing once an actual postcard has been mailed.

I share the code for any poetic geeks out there who want to explore the possibilities of this form.