Friday, December 14, 2018

LITERARY INFLUENCE

I've just got to say, I'm really sorry
to have suddenly interrupted
whatever decent little aura

of silence had been haunting you
prior to picking this thing up
and singing it this far

with that puffy cantor
who lives in your head. I know
how earnestly you'd been tracking

the simple dark swinging pendulum
of your breathing, or inviting the illicit
swivel of candle flame to illuminate an old

newspaper, or just staring straight ahead,
parsing the mercifully uncomplicated
texture of burgundy

paint on the drywall
of the room you were standing in
when you first heard the news.

If it's any consolation—
I promise to return you
to a more burnished quiet,

to a reverie even more hopeful
and pregnant and profound,
to an even deeper silence

than the silence whose fierce
gaze had refused to quit
pleading with you before.

It turns out, this is a special feature
of even the least imaginative poetry:
all you have to do

is read this last sentence, then
cut the music
and don't move a muscle

while all the forces of white space on earth
suddenly rush in to surround
and shoot down the final period,

and listen for that faint ache
of a recoil—it won't sound like much,
so you've really got to listen.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

THE MANEUVER

I need you
to keep picturing this
small ugly catamaran
with its galley lights stuck on

bobbing up and down on
the huge silent water!—
orders the fierce little
white-bearded captain

who's crazily trying
to ford the pure rushing
stream of this
imponderable consciousness.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

CLAP ON, CLAP OFF

Yesterday, I impulsively
purchased a Clapper (As Seen on TV!)
from my local Walgreen's,

whisked it home directly, eager
to automate several bedroom appliances,
and just as quickly went to pieces
when it didn't function as intended.

When I woke up this morning,
begrudgingly switching on my bedside lamp
and small box fan manually,
I realized—this is exactly

why I write poetry. It isn't
the blessed rage for order found
in a freshly plowed field of
perfect straight lines,

or the seductive dance of a
brand new shape
undulating down the length
of a virgin-white page,

or the drowsing hymn-like quality
of sonorous vowel sounds
repeating comfortably at regular intervals—
though those things too are interesting.

No; really it's because
life is already so filled
with poetry's exact opposite,

I desperately need to balance it out
to keep me—and everyone else
from toppling right off
the pages we've been writing

and landing, with a flat little clap
in the trash can—and perhaps accidentally
triggering the Christmas lights
or the television to turn on

in the empty home
of a single man in his 30s
who's so profoundly lost in thought
he might never make it home again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

FRICTION'S MUSIC

As its black tip question-marks,
and the question mark
dwindles, I just have time

to wonder: have I really ever
made a fire? Or was it

always just—the match.
And

who invented these things anyway? And
did that person ever consider
all the

future generations—brightly
going around claiming to be creators

when actually, that gleam
of genius in their eyes
was preemptively put there—

by starlight, by manure
and milk and carbon and cod liver,

by the bodies of two strangers
just out for a good time—just for

one headless goddamn moment—in the
more pleasurable dark.

Monday, December 10, 2018

CAREFUL

Listen, don't make a sound—
there's a starved silver beautiful

wolf who's been pacing
and snarling outside the moon-

lit window of this poem
like some lunatic wraith. He’ll never

pass under this warm drowsy
doorframe though—not even

close, I can
promise you that, dear—and neither

will I, no, and
neither can you.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

DEGREES OF DIFFICULTY

If you want to know the difference
between poetry and prose,
you've simply got to spend

the better half of an afternoon
skidding through the silver-strewn
park playing ice hockey—then go home

and, as the frosted rose
sky fades to puce through the
block windows, try to resume

that same game
down in the semi-finished
basement—with just socks on.

Friday, December 7, 2018

SLANT-RHYMING QUATRAINS

Seemingly unable to speak
the right mantra, to see
the edge of sky inside
for the top of the ceiling;

yet there must still be
some silent intelligence—
drooling and rummaging
around the hackneyed

and shopworn attic shelves
inside me, about which these
cleaner and more articulate
selves—can say nothing.