Monday, June 24, 2019

MERWIN IN THE KITCHEN

For better—but, of course
for worse—when I pick up one
of your smart slender books,

it puts a sort of simple frame
made of un-lacquered wood
around the minutiae of morning.

It is—you'd be relieved
to hear, I think—a subtle feeling:
like gravity,

like insects' wings beating
from way out there on the fringe
of your garden;

I find myself
pausing between pages—
to trace with a finger

a certain pattern in the
grain of the table,
to listen more closely

to the sonata
of the fridge compressor,
to gently swirl

this glass of cool milk—
allowing it
to dawn on me

(the way dawn itself must
dawn every day at the
end of a rainy Maui night)

that I wouldn't enjoy it
if I drank it too quickly,
that any second—

this one—or maybe
the one that comes next—
could be

an equator,
some invisible
but significant

prime meridian,
the exact dead center
of my life.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

SLAP IN THE FACE

     This is tantamount to a slap in the face.
     -Cosmo Kramer

Can anything besides
a slap in the face
really be tantamount 
to a slap in the face?

Could any deed meet
or surpass the sensation;
can words
stand-in for feeling?

Me, seriously writing
a poem about this,
for instance—you,
sitting there reading?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

POEM TO A PICTURE

When and wherever I
look at something, I can't help
but imagine I'm
seeing the whole picture.

It's a different problem than
the one you might be thinking:
mistaking trees
for whole forests, calling
nine guys a baseball team, and so on;

it's more
like how I force myself to look
at your face while I'm
talking like this,

because then, I'll believe—that you
are really in there,
that then you can see
and hear me too,

that your head was ever even
close to the house
you liked to call
home in the first place—

it's also like standing
on the edge of this pier
while I do it,

then, gazing out over
the darkening water and realizing
it's just me, all alone

at the ocean—
instead of the shore.

Friday, June 21, 2019

THE PRICE

It's a beautiful thing I suppose at
first, outside my window

each morning—a hundred or so
sparrows that can't resist singing,

each punching a hole in the
cheap silence, sharpening

to a nice fine point
another one of the universe's

amorphous lumps of potentiality,
spinning one more dull strand

of space—formerly reserved
for something tedious

to occur—into the gold
of what's actually happening

even as I bend
to write it.

But I admire them less
when I descend to street level.

Walking past their lean environs,
it isn't difficult to see

that the price they pay
for their kinetic abilities—

their singing prowess, their
admirable near-weightlessness,

their sleek fleetness of wing
and of foot in the lilac bushes—

is instant panic
at the slightest hint of foot traffic

and an unwinnable war
for territory and resources

against even the least
eager wind.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE

Experience tends
to accumulate gradually—
its little green spears take
their time broadening

into fat wise leaves,
which then rain down
flowers for months thereafter,
with the indiscriminate grace

of a grand old catalpa
tree, anointing as it shelters
everything underneath.

But knowledge is a
much more brutal force—

no cart, all horse; it charges
only forward, carrying nothing
but its own momentum, fast
and hot as lightning

and just as precise—often
pointlessly so: 

only one thing—if it lives
to appreciate it—
is left any different after
it dissipates.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

PRESTO CHANGE-O

What if
the Resurrection didn't
happen presto 
change-o all at once?
What if this last
and best trick of all
was the gift
of open-ended process,
if this longest
of long shots was
still going on?
Think of that lesson—
all the little christian kids
taught to love things
in increments,
not taught
to keep track, not
to count
blessings only once
they've passed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

FREE WILL IS AN ILLUSION

They're right when they
say: the world isn't black
and white. But of course,
it's not like it's full-color

either. On the orders
of magnitude which we can
appreciate, everything
is grayscale—the inane details

of the honeymoon itinerary,
each nail-biting second notched
into the shot clock, every
excruciating decision waiting

in line to be made
at every McDonald's drive-thru
on earth—is an old photograph
being narrated-over

by a minor celebrity
in a Ken Burns documentary:
before long, a comforting
narrative begins to accrue,

a good little nest egg
of diction accumulates
over this range
of one-to-two options.