Wednesday, July 17, 2019

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

It's a lot to unpack: whether
the little collective

of coffee beans I automatically
pulverize each morning—

then sluice
boiled water through—

then throw in the trash
and distractedly

sip the resultant brew
while reading a few Tweets before

dashing out the door—
was heretofore treated equitably

on its journey
from Ecuador to Chicago.

Most days, I'm too distracted
by my ongoing lack

of contentment, too worn out
from last night's argument

at the bar, or else
I just find it a little too convenient-

ly early to contemplate:
whether there is really

such a thing as
a good person,

a better thought,
a noble action—

or if it just feels that way
by comparison

when one tends to go around
thoughtlessly extracting

only those bits
which are most useful

from one
bitter assemblage—

one shit-
situation—after another.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

MASSES

Astounding—the dark clouds
which have gathered
this morning

could only have come
from nowhere,
could only be going

nowhere. And yet,
here we are
beneath them again—the believers,

sipping our coffee
a bit more devotionally,
letting our eyes wander

that much more slowly
over a few extra columns
of the day's first reading,

wavering a little longer
in the dimly lit front halls
where the rain jackets

and umbrellas are reverently hanging,
before diffidently opening
and closing our large doors

and beginning the gravid procession,
to and fro, past one another
without candles

or crosses—but because
we recognize
the damp feeling of being

audited
from an alter
somewhere behind a screen—

with our heads bowed
automatically a little
closer to our arched shoulders.

Monday, July 15, 2019

DOCUMENT

Back home for a holiday,
watching smudged approximations
of former special
occasions on television

as magnetic tape slithers—
unspooling and recoiling away
inside its thirty-year-old
VHS case—I'm wondering

if blurry is even the right word
to describe what it is I—
and mom and dad
and Jeffery—are seeing.

I don't remember being there
that time I turned seven
and the ice cream cake's candles
proved too tricky for me to handle

any more than they can
seem to recall plotting it, snickering,
and bearing witness. And yet,
here it is (albeit dark and a

bit fuzzy): proof positive
that it happened; that it was brutal
and savage—and that, still, somehow
the dispassionate world

kept on turning.
But I can't help but figure
that, if he were here, my tight-lipped
old Grandpa would remember

operating all of those arcane controls,
forcing his one good eye
into the uncomfortably
hot rubber socket

of a cumbrous old video camera,
and proceeding to achieve
his cold sober objective—like
it was yesterday.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

ALWAYS

Out of what must be millions
upon millions of those
maple tree whirlybirds,

my eye
always seems to focus
on one ruddy outlier

as it helicopters—
perilous, heroic,
and lonely—out and down

to some very likely inhospitable
patch of new ground.
And I wonder,

for the thousandth time,
whether
everything I am

is just all the things I can't
stop doing.
And then, for the first:

what will become of that heap
if I keep neglecting
to sweep it

since I'm always
so busy jotting
down spare phenomena.

Friday, July 12, 2019

AFTER THE POEM IS DONE

Of the tens of murky self-
similar thousands,
there is only one

crystalline moment
immediately after
the poem is done

in which I don't feel exceptional
pressure to explain
anything to anyone;

not the intimate
nature of my relationship
to friction and its coefficients,

not the gory details
of my long-standing three way
with Gravity and the Normal Force,

not even the vague way in which
uselessness wells up and
clashes with hope

when I stop to acknowledge
the velocity at which
the surface of the earth has been rotating.

For one rock-solid second,
I feel obligated
never to explain

anything that's been going on with me
ever again.
And when this happens,

it's such a strange combination of
a relief
and a rush,

a hybridized feeling
so complete, yet unique—
almost to the point

of being unheard-of—that
just this once, I
had to tell someone.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

MATHEMATICALLY SPEAKING

Still thinking about you every
so often, I wonder whether
the paradox of Zeno

isn't the real reason
I still feel safe reaching—
across camouflaged time

and dubiously
empty space, tiptoeing lightly
as I pass

around all the noisy hollow
containers, the trash left over
from sugary memories,

and the pale changeling bodies
of every possible
unborn child—

and if simply halving the distance
stepping by-numbers,
then fractions

of numbers,
isn't the best, if not only way
to move forward

incorporeally
toward what I take to be
your face,

two outstretched
arms, and chest—in a theoretically
classic gesture

of comfort
and genuine condolence,
without ever

having, mathematically
speaking, to wreck all that
by embracing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

FIRST PLACE

At the starting line, there are so often
things we mean to write or say
aphoristically—but it
never turns out that way.

In no time flat, the words begin
to clump in herds,
to yoke themselves up—and we
can't resist plowing

aimlessly forward:
mowing down the clean
mentality of trees,
uprooting the humbler mammals'

homes as we go on constructing
another eight lane road to god-
knows-where, without even caring
which direction we're going.

But then, where in hell have aphorisms
ever gotten us anyway?
I remember hearing once, for instance,
that love is all you need,

that it'd be just the thing
to light the way, to show me
where I was going and
where I would stay.

But now I think
the most useful emotion
is whichever one
is still in the tank,

whichever residual feeling
remains, whichever mood we still feel
lingering in the sweaty air
at the end of our labors

once we've finally had the courage
to drop every implement, turn
around filthy, and survey the truth
about where it is we came from.