Wednesday, December 30, 2015

SLACK

It's official—nothing
wears your body 
down like

keeping 
still and holding your 
breath, in an increasingly

elaborate pantomime of death, 
while simultaneously chastising
yourself

for not growing
celestial
wings in the meantime,

and wondering the
whole time—whether 
it just can't be done? Or worse,

why?
it just isn't happening
quickly enough

to counteract 
this annoying and
incessant little compulsion

you seem to have developed—to keep 
pinching and  
hoarding and furtively

sniffing up—
little secret doses
of the free, ordinary air 

which seems
to lie
around everywhere,

so stupid
and dispassionately—outside
of yourself.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

INTERCESSION

Dear God—
please hear me,
I need you

to understand—
the extent to
which mom

always lets—
me do pretty
much

what-
ever the hell
I want.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SNATCH AND CLEAN

Inhaling compassion—exhaling
pride (for keeping
both inside would surely kill me)

slowly I start to move about my daily exercise.
I walk,
I jot, I push and talk, repeating.

I see the movement, become the movement,
swallow a little water
I carry, repeating. And I notice it tastes good

to me. It tastes so good
and so right
that soon I begin to notice a new endurance, as

steadily I continue now—to move about my daily exercise;
the force and object
of which, presently, feels far less heavy

than it does substantial: to lift
and pull—
the words off of their objects.

HUMAN INTEREST STORY

The puffed reporter's
sheep eyes say more—than a bleating
ten billion newspapers.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

DEATHBED EDITION

Devouring Homer,
Whitman,
Christ!—was never enough, 

either to crush their hunger to be clever
or to quench the thirsty 
doubt of their questioning.

And so—as of now
and hereafter, your self 
and your soul would like to announce:

they are giving up,
and have decided to just lay down
and start making love to each other;

taking turns, one
nourishing the other, strictly 
on rhythm—

and achieving, at last, via this
tacit and fictive music—
complete satisfaction.

That is—
that perfect faith
which is utterly inexpressible,

but which is sort of like 
how—the edge of the water
is more than 

the end of the land; it is also
the end of a man, and spells
the end of all his words.

And it seems perverse 
at first, but such
are the little deaths 

we never even realize
we needed.
Until after 

we've already found ourselves there—dumb
and so ready
to fuck.

DUMB SHOW

In the cold streets, 
I watch them pass me neat 
and swiftly,

carried on two stiff bits of sticks
toward various green leathery 
destinations—rumpled behind desks, 

or else shining, golden and 
auspicious somewhere, over
substantially heavy polished counters—

the old man faces. These
supposed geniuses of our race,
whose noses flair, gravely

exhaling smoke and fire and iron 
across the quaffed silver arches 
of their vast incombustible mustaches.

And yet, I cannot resist 
giggling a little 
to imagine—their children,

or, more likely, their 
children's children! Somewhere 
warm and safer—perhaps

back at home, if they're 
lucky—but with infinitely more convincingly
austere looks upon their faces

than these scowls now parading
past me can muster. 
For here, I suddenly feel cocky

and confident,
that no mask 
can affect the true look of solemnity, 

which isn't still malleable 
enough to render 
into realistic expression

just how severely 
frivolous—is 
the whole masquerade.

Monday, December 21, 2015

STROKE

Every living thing
becomes more

and more beautiful,
but only

once dead—admits its
perfection.

DUNGEON MAP

I must keep perilously barreling
past and through,

or else run
the risk of eternal paralysis—if caught too

careful, too regretfully—inside of some cautiously over-
lit room or other, replete

with pulpwood faces collapsed hard over paper coffee
cups, stirred a little

too surreptitiously, with balsa splints
in lieu of spoons

because there simply isn't any sugar
to measure.

I'm sure
I was born better

than this, I'll curse. I am not so ambivalent
as these others.

I am not so
one-dimensional. This may be hell, but I am not

averse to what's
in the next room. I am not afraid. I'm just exhausted

and too selfish to leave here, bereft
of all feeling, save for

this deep and luxurious intellectual concern—
that there

actually isn't any next room
beyond the one in which I'm stalled. That there's

really no way out of here
at all. And that hulking impersonal

black and clear
door over there, the one with the largish

handle, on which is printed
PULL

TO GO BACKWARDS FROM HERE
TO WHERE YOU WERE

is only
painted-on.

Friday, December 18, 2015

POSSESSIVE CASE

Without dismissing the import
of this old and fortuitous
trove of strange riches—
the discovery of which, I admit,
owes mostly to a lot of
blind luck and bit of impertinence

toward the vast and immovable ocean
called Filial Piety that nurtured it
(but which also so-willfully purposed to obscure
and shroud and suppress its utility)—

I hereby swear
that I'll always endeavor
to spend its salvaged composite currency
(three small coins, each of which
feels so familiar to use, and yet
foreign to measure)

as quick-
and as loose- and as usefully as I'm able—
letting fall, with the happy grace
of a very recently-poor man, fat streams of all three

glinting
spangled
sungolden pronouns, called—
us.
and—we.
And, most expensively—ours.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

STEPS 4 AND 5, STUCK ON REPEAT

Not without passion,
not without disgust,
not without
ennui, fear, longing,
desire and frustration,
apathy and zest—
not without some
levity, plenty of ceremony,
a little lust—
not exactly ironically,
but not fully conscious-
ly seriously either—I confess,

I tend
to love
to make
the most incredible small secret tricky intricate unfinished symphonies

out of spitting
the most delicious
bites back
onto the speechless
ceramic faces of their erstwhile
wan robin's egg blue dinner plates—but it's only because

I just,
so very
very much,
want everything
that I touch—to be
perfect, just the way it is
now—except, later. Not until
later. Not until much later. Not until
much much much much much much later—

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

IN BELATED COMMEMORATION OF "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" PASSING INTO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

Tending as always
toward tomorrow
and tomorrow—toward gravity 
and its hugest superlatives 
but also the infinitesimal point of a place, marked with a bold 
x, where the world ends, or so
we've been told;

we sometimes find instead where we tread—a slight 
translucent muse
whose

simple song
at first
is not but disappointing levity—a nursery rhyme! we cry,

a sort of cheap birthday 
party tune—

meant to accompany that space of time, we think 
in our ponderous graceless mood,
between the bored now and
the dark time when all shall become as smoke 
under our very noses, after 
our fervid but still
uncompleted visions have been subsumed
and what's left of them now enveloped 
in gummy sugar and sticky laughter.

Nonetheless,
the music plays on, and gradually 
we realize—
we know the words already, having
learned them all
by heart when we were small.

And what then—
of gravity 
after all? 

Surely a few distractions—a white confection and a few
friends and close relations
are not the heaviest burdens to assume. And as
the lingering smoke in our nostrils 
continues to curl, it compels us 

to recall
and to compare—another simple song,

we dimly seem to have heard
or read about somewhere—

something—regarding ashes and dust 
and so-on, until suddenly

that is to say,
eventually—we hear each song conclude, only 
to rewind and start over,

as tomorrow becomes 
today, re-steeped once again 
in the burnt and dead
leaves which we just 
very nearly discarded,

and we remember that here
on a perfect sphere,
every point 
is both—the end of all things 
and absolutely nowhere. 

And it is then at last
that we find ourselves
free to give up 
and simply let loose our own music
without that unwieldy burden—of ownership,

and the song we make then
is a slender
little cellophane thing, but it nonetheless runs
wild in our minds, chiming
out more and more strongly 
with each new
repetition of its chorus—

Be not a prophet.
And leave off desire
And dignity and class.
What does your day
to day life require?
Tell us—only of that.

Monday, December 14, 2015

TOLL

All the teeming living breathing peoples of this earth!
are somehow—not enough 
to fill

a measly 
two,

or maybe 
three quarters—and that's only 
of the very 
last few 

on a 
quite understandably
highly extensive list—of its

most indispensable 
six,
or maybe 
seven dozen newspapers.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

AND I LEFT TRADER JOE'S WITH NO GROCERIES

Desperately seeking an immediate antidote
to relieve this sudden noxious fever,

a serious bout of sickening confusion
spiked with a sweaty vertigo at the oncoming awareness

of so many enigmatic and far-flung cultures,
raw lands of sticky green junglesnarled hills

and steamtopped mountain summits
colliding here in this climate-controlled moment

with a dark and indolent December-in-Chicago,
from these bunches of gaseous yellowing

bananas hanging next to slick plastic cans
of greasy coffee beans from Peru, to those

deep pink hibiscus flower two-dimensional caricatures
fetishized perfectly into corporate logos—

I fervidly began chanting,
quietly but discernibly out-loud to myself,

some of the coldest
words that I know

in order to hopefully
quell the delirium.

And those words
were these,

and in this particular order—
grave.

lone.
winter.

stone.
and last,

but not least of all—
silence.

Friday, December 11, 2015

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION AFTER FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMAN'S HOMER

Walking out under the beclouded heaventree
of electrified city lights near Christmas,

I looked and found I could, just barely,
still make out the belt of Orion.

At once, I felt like some premier modern astronomer—
solitary, vigilant; attentive, self-contained.

Which is to say, actually much more like an ancient
maritime explorer—marooned; without the support of a crew.

Which is to say, still another way—utterly
impotent. And doomed.

YOUR MOUTH WAS A STOP SIGN

That's when I 
knew

how inextricable 

feeling
isn't

written 
down—but made.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

DUCK DODGERS IN THE 21½th CENTURY

These days—
no poet writes anything

about
pretty silver shafts

of moonlight, or whatever. 
Not

because they no longer
think

to look up, 
but because—no one

in their
right mind! goes

outside at
night.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ANALYSIS OF "THE MOUTH OF HOME"

After a while wandering miles—the Speaker of this poem
can't help but notice 
that his favorite place to enter
always has a red door,
which always opens inward.

So much better!—he thinks,
than having to rear-back
and tear a new hole 
by ripping some cold stainless lever, 
and then regain his balance 
before stammering into the place like a whirlwind, 
with no time to spare, even for repairing 
the silly abrupt 
slice of his damage behind him.

By contrast, 
at this place—the whole thing always seems to begin 
by bowing.
Then, just enough, he clenches, 
then eases, then 
gives the barest little push,

and then—rejoices;
basking in the feeling 
of having been automatically ushered inside
by that last puff of his breath, into this precious
soft womb of familiar space—where he invariably feels 
his dark tired feet
have been waiting, 
upturned, since long 
before having—actually arrived there.

Monday, December 7, 2015

UNREASONABLE

On a protean ocean
somewhere—
a fugitive

plastic green bottle-
cap—stoically
rigid

green
and determined—
keeps floating to shelter

perhaps—the smallest
hapless last
whiff

of invisible
wind on the
planet—from destiny.

Friday, December 4, 2015

NEWS

Carousing cold sidewalks,
three pigeons—

mottled, sticky with light
and filth of greenish shadow—bob and shudder
to be perceived,
projected, reinvented! But

resist. For images
are hardly so pure
to speak of as their number. And truth—it is dull

and low
and uninteresting cold—which you know
will come to ruin
these old sidewalks

long-
before they've had a chance to.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

BUSKER

I promise to make you fresh
music each day, with all
that I've got. Which is only two things—

syllables stressed
and less-
stressed. Small words 

and those chittering 
patterns of them
which I learned—before I knew 

how to dress 
or tie 
my own shoes—by

parroting the tall glittering
fuss of grownups. 
But—in exchange, you must 

always agree 
to let—my instrument 
be simply 

the daily
currency of your breath—its pitches, 
your little inclinations; 

its timbre, 
only—
the voice in your head.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

PAVLOV'S DOGS

It's beginning to look a lot like
Christmas—the way bleary thousands 
upon thousands of pairs of perfect 
strangers avoid eye contact instinctively,

glancing instead down, and then
off to one side, relieved to alight their eyes
on the adjacent, newly repeating 
citywide signs for consolation,

recreating each snowy sound and story
in the salivating mouths 
of their minds—of new lives deserved 
or of old adversaries reckoning;

memorable cashes of phrases recurring,
seemingly swirled randomly, but in truth, manufactured 
to refresh mankind's blurry but ample
and resilient muscle memory 

for preferring to remain so 
spectacularly alone (united just softly enough
by fear—of death 
and by awe of what's left)

and for soldiering on, simultaneously—
consumed by these empty tidbits 
now piling up across the white
sidewalks and street corners 

and desperate to consume 
and regurgitate 
and then re-consume them
all over again—at the drop of the next silver bell.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TO TELL THE TRUTH

Do not say grace to him 
for things.
Pray instead, poet, to things 
for his grace. 

And do not seek to write of 
real freedom;
you risk describing—complete
alienation.

Above all, remember never 
to walk 
the perimeter of your life—to fathom
its shape;

but rather, to constantly trace
an apprehension:
the shape of this life is—not the only 
one.