Monday, October 31, 2016

COURAGE

As a young lion, he loved to follow mountains
of instructions to the letter,

but absolutely hated
being told what to do.

Now, he wakes up howling about how—
every day is leg day

and scowls in his sleep,
mumbling—each drawer's the bottom one.

But this, we're all very quick to assure him,
simply prefigures

a thing
that's much bigger,

like a crumble
of rangy yellow—in an emerald city.

Friday, October 28, 2016

CLEARING

Happening alone
at dusk upon
a hollow,

illumined
by this mangy
inter-generational grove

of flameyellow trees
which rings
its ragged perimeter, I see

in an instant,
the impossible mystery
of my own continuity—

that thought
which still remains abstract,
once in a picture

is crystal—precious as it is
pathetic,
solemn, but breezily irreligious:

like these, I die
to watch my way of life
survive;

and life-after-death
snaps
to sheer certainty,

as long as there's
no future outside
of—today.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

REGIMES

Every morning now—kingly skeleton mouths
grin out from camouflaged

graveyards—and pluck, as if from
these hot capillaries passing by, oddly

exuberant dissonant chords;
raising and reanimating giddy phantoms

inside me, of spooky gossamer agents
I can never put my finger on—

some terrible, witlessly merry pulse
and its catchy unutterable melody line.

I only know it's something
along the lines of—how death must start

as a ponderous mountain of potential pleasure
whose sheer gravity causes it

to implode
the longer and harder we try to conserve it.

Maybe that's why—what I've been
hankering for all these mornings

has been the taste of
hunger itself. And maybe that's why

I've never been able
to bring myself to sit and watch

the sand in my hourglass
gracefully run out,

without growing so sick
and tired of waiting—that I

positively have to—get up
and go running.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

LEARNING HOW TO BE COOL

Kate, if one day
you no longer recognize me,

it'll be
'cause I've grown so chill

as to look
almost standoffishly blue

and translucent,
from praying

'til I'm pale
that all those other

dudes my head grow—not
dimmer, just

more shallow
in their criticism;

and if I'm no longer plucking
the million-pound

moon from its heaven
to drop it

all-sly in your
shoe as a present (or even

fishing it out
from my casual place

sprawled on a manmade
suburban lake,

where I smoke candy
cigarettes and chug

Gatorade),
it'll be

'cause you
had said—that's okay,

you didn't
really want it—and I finally

remembered
to listen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

LITTLE TROUBLE

Beheld by the mirthful 
eye of the mind,
the autumn breeze 

always seems 
to be laughing
at these certain small

disheveled lessors
it periodically sees—fevered
and glistening, fit to 

sneeze—flurrying back
to work
again sweeping 

newly strewn crumbs 
of dirt and scratchy 
bits of leaves 

out from the thusly- 
tickled elbows 
of concrete curbs 

underneath
the smirking 
windowfaces

of bloated
obsolescent
brownstones—as if 

somehow, those!
were the motes
that caused all the itching.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

NO MORE SYNONYMS

There are so many zeros
in a million

that sometimes, you just long to say
and do nothing,

to let those last gold glowing 
tokens fall 

with their familiar little rings—until, at last 
you have 

absolutely none 
of everything. Then you'd feel 

clean, you'd feel 
in control, 

feel free,
since

the fortunes 
you would care about now

could only be as small as
your thoughts made them out to be.

But still 
always, there's the gleam

of subconscious
knowing underneath—wordless

and silent, 
impoverished

and unspoken—such close pairs as these
mean far 

from the 
same thing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WRETCH LIKE ME

So deep in thick wilderness,
I feared I could no longer 

make out the old song;
but it was then, 

with the melody missing 
and absolutely no sound, 

that I finally heard 
the words crystal clearly—

I once was lost, 
but now 

I'm 
just a 
bit curious;

was blind, 
but now, 

I guess 
I can kind 
of understand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

RE-ELECT MAYOR GOLDIE WILSON

Is there a single brave soul out there?
a weary nation of individuals
wonders, who's like us? A man

who's far less smarmy
than a hero, but less like a crook
than a witless bystander?

A woman, who's willing to work overtime
at keeping her integrity nearest to zero,
so as not to call unnecessary
and ballistic attention to it?

That hardened-but-immaterial
sheep of the herd who goes first,
who strives boldly to improve
the whole world only subtly,

through ecumenical promotion
of the most empathetic self-interests
and nonchalant nods to the most
figure-flattering of scruples?

Deliver us, lord,
the private prayers shall go
sailing ever upward,
one we can trust—who's not afraid

of switching off the lights
when leaving the room,
even just for a minute,

but who still insists on sleeping
next to a jittery little Chinese
box fan every night, for the comforting
ambient drone of its motor.

Monday, October 17, 2016

SUPER NATURAL

This is how the wind blows most 
October afternoons, now

that you're old enough 
to really be properly 

scared of all of those creeping
things of this world 

which are neither 
scarce nor sacred, those shades

that cast nauseatingly 
typical shadows, 

those mundane wraiths
which are so 

overworked and
underfed they've grown stupid—

a thousand thousand thousand 
insistent iterations 

of the same unimportant
brown autumn leaf 

that go scuttling past your sneakers
like failed and abandoned 

kites in stilted currents;
the drowsy zombie

bumble bees 
tickling your hair like bats

rising blind from their cells 
in hell,

not to riot, but quietly
squeak of prosaic dangers

(not enough cash-flow, too much 
fat in your diet, et cetera);

and finally, from endless porches, 
the sallow leer 

of prototypical
jack o' lanterns penetrating, 

making you feel
hollow inside, 

guilty—for all the time 
you spend thinking 

about the immaterial 
words of dead poets, 

instead of trying
to picture—all your disgruntled still-

living
relatives' faces.

Friday, October 14, 2016

WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA

When you were little,
you never gazed

longingly off
in the distance—you only stared

at what was right
in front of you. Until,

eventually, you realized
literally everything

you could see
was really

made of something
smaller—loose locks,

wormy stocks,
and rusty pitted

barrels. But
now, even peering at

classic books
feels

claustrophobic—
all those panicky letters

bumping into
one another,

stampedes of words
collapsing

into shapes
made by the same mouth

and its
small monotonous voice.

And you're right
to feel nervous

because—
the one original

thought
you've got

left is:
what if

the Apocalypse
has already happened,

It just wasn't
a huge deal?

All those insignificant things—
tiny habits,

mute gestures,
the cute words in those books—

just took over
casually,

gradually, when
the colossal individuals

who made them
stopped looking.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

PLANS FOR AFTER GRADUATION

Most of the time
you'll wake up in the morning
drained and literally not
having dreamed

about anything,
every last trace of that once-
liquid-leaden uncreated
conscience of your

race having been siphoned,
cooled, and compacted to sustain
and buttress the the inexhaustible structure
of something preexisting.

You'll actually eulogize catching colds
and having those good old hunger
pangs all the time, bereft now
of any terror you could name

that hasn't yet been played
out in simulation, over and over
again. Yes, and I'm guessing
you'll still have never read

The Divine Comedy—but,
at any given time, you're likely
to have seen all three Jurassic 
Parks on TNT fairly recently.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

THE LAST BREAKFAST

After waking, blinking
lightning

yawning
thunder,

probably urinating
several

sturdy rain-
showers, he proceeded—

as ever
with gentle gratitude

to the light
of the father

for all
things presently

made soft-
ly visible—

to cradle
and raise

a steaming white
cup

piously
up,

tilting
to baptize

the agonized
waiting

and withered
congregation

of his
guts.

Monday, October 10, 2016

WORKS CITED

In a debate, both parties
do their best
to mean

the things
they say; it's just that
the definitions

are always
gradually changing.
For instance,

everyone's confident
in insisting—
the most shameful thing

a human can do
is choose
to love something

it's impossible
to get rich abusing—but
the humanity bit

tends to get a little
stuck between
their dictionaries' pages,

last seen—marooned
someplace
weirdly perfect

between
mundane—and eminently
despicable.

Friday, October 7, 2016

DOWN AND OUT

Once, in purest poverty, I tried
to compose a poem with no design—

but words, those little mottled black-
and-white vagabond things,

each one starving
despite being swollen near to bursting

with unkillable sound, and all of them
greasy and threadbare,

sheathed in rumpled suits of their
hand-me-down significance—

they all kept on creeping
and scrambling back into the construction

with a desperation so relentless, so
astoundingly unbreakable

that I lost my will to kill them at all
and collapsed instead on a strategy

of control—with ambitions presently
only to spin such thick patterns

of this slack spongy population,
that any discerning reader

should figure—the craftsmanship here
transcends the material.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

COGITO ERGO

You probably can't trust that you're 
fully awake yet, when—alone in this 

packed city rumbling, all the pinstriped
and pastel parcels containing 

cake donuts—and the steaming rain-
spattered lids on white take-it-

to-go coffee cups 
streaming past you in the hands its

carefully waterproofed commuters—
only make comfort

to you feel so frivolous, so
momentary—so fake.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

DISAPPOINTING DREAM

Breathless and dark, I wait smack
in the middle of a deranged plain

for the cool glowing words
of this mysterious angel

who has landed close-by and pale
in the tinder, my only real company for

centuries, here under night's growing
translucent veil of slow suffocating

cloudsmoke—until finally, tolled off, one by
one, like very old dense iron church bells,

she intones the words—Son, hey, you got,
like, a lighter I could borrow?

Monday, October 3, 2016

RHYTHM'S STILL THE INSTRUMENT

Why do you reek
of muses and luck, super-

stitions and such impalpable portents
as which fickle

way the wind blows?
Were you unwittingly raised to believe

in special inevitable
angels, who hover invisibly over

every timid little
spear of grass that's out there,

cooing and gesticulating
grandly—encouraging the poor thing to grow?

I must say, it seems
as much, by the way I could see you

swaying a little
in the veritable breeze you were making

as you prayed
in the same frenzy once again

last night, for fresh
fruit—instead of giving thanks

for the chance to labor
again tomorrow.