Friday, September 22, 2017

DECLINE

Summer was a warm and
generous, if

somewhat of a two-
bit painter—until

it started taking those
pills of moonlight

and stiff droughts
of good sleeping weather.

Now, it has taken
to calling itself

Autumn—
to smoking constantly, and

behaving a lot
more recklessly; with fulsome

abandon, it
darkens every corner

and highlights
every singe and freckle. Albeit

brilliantly, it smudges light
sources, messily

blurs all the edges,
and dismisses its subjects with waved

hands, insisting that—
no, it doesn't really care

one way or the other
what color

your energy is. The only
question now

is—which color is it
turning?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

THE POEM OF TOMORROW

In the future, I hope I will say—
do not waste

your time on me right now.
I believe

in too many
plain and definite things,

such as whiteness
and eclipses

Japan
and snow,

grace,
second chances,

green apples
and thermodynamics—

but luckily, also
that no one

is one way
all of the time,

that most things
don't work (are reassuringly frustrating),

that there's no ideas
but in things, but

there's no things
but in experiences;

so please,
just walk away.

Come back
and read instead

the poem
I write tomorrow;

it'll have plenty
of holes and controversy

and demurrals.
Tomorrow's poem

will be full of suspicion,
mistrust

and indecision, but—unfortunately,
I've got nothing

but answers on
offer today.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

BRIGHT SIDE

Not so much a rush, more a dull
slow wave of indulgence

gradually rises and over-
takes me as I walk by

to recognize
that they—the ones

who eagerly stole away,
faceless and clandestine—they,

the ones who took the time
to practice designing

these stark gang signs
well in advance,

pre-sketched on these
hard packs of Newport cigarettes

which liter the dark and far
corner of the yard

under the familiar lumbering
shadow of their gradeschool—they

are certainly
the takers—of much more

care than they're currently
equipped to realize.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THEORY OF EVERYTHING

I don't know about
you, but I'm getting pretty
sick and tired

of knowing
what everything around
every corner is for—

There used to be dangers,
so we used to be braver;
life itself

was sacramental, so everyone
was, by nature,
religious.

Now, we've figured out—divinity
was just eternity's jazzy but
frivolous costume.

And what's more,
the entire universe is just
a habit;

the sun
is an inconclusive nuclear
bomb,

the moon is really
made of
language,

Tuesday's
parent was Monday, and on
and on.

And it turns out,
we've been looking
in all the wrong places

for everything—that is,

the grand and inter-
dimensional unifying force—

was never meant
to be found
scientifically;

it can only get
teased out of
tradition.

Monday, September 18, 2017

YOURS TRULY

I am scared—there.
What does
that tell you?

I'd much rather describe
the intricate
formal pleasure
of a single mauve rose

and its dovetailing petals—
talk circles
around the arcs of strange birds,
the slowdance

of two impassioned seasons,
the secret things I've heard
treetops whisper—

Seriously, I'd prefer
helping you picture
nature when she's undressed

and lamenting the rented
rocks we live on,
and predicting how the universe

will eventually run
out of the ardent fusion of love
and ice-over—

I would even sooner hang
confident rhymes
on what came before the big bang,

work my way up to runaway inflation,
tackle the president,
sweat about the atmosphere one day
blowing away—

I would rather take on
the responsibilities
of god

than face
the one thing
even he'd
be most afraid of.

What does that tell you?
About the way
poetry works—what does that say?
About me.

Friday, September 15, 2017

GETTING WARMER

Life begins. Crisis
comes. Death
follows. This

is how
history
happens to you—a spiderweb

viewed
from the wrong angle
is nothing special;

the universe is a lattice
of all possibilities—
but it's not like

most of them are open to you.
Invisible consequences
still linger,

the distance home
increases, and
no moment

will ever be harder
than the moment before
the next one gets here.

You can't be too careful.
But—once you realize
you don't have that option,

consequences sharpen
and belief in significance
gets closer and easier.

Once you're free
to walk away,
differentiation is compulsory.

The world—this one,
the one
we all live in

must be real.
Not because
we all live here.

Because—death
happens
someplace else,

and nothing
makes distinction clearer than
leaving it behind.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

ADVENT

Can you see it?
It's only September, and
outside, all life
is already uncomplicating,

is feeling the
centripetal pull
of invisible
clock hands whirring,

reeling—
irresistible,
as a
black hole's center.

Can you hear it?
The imperative
of the thin air: carry 
your coherence with you, 

I dare you! Everything
unceremoniously
stretched and bent,
squeezed and rent—

and us too,
stripped of our former, worse or
better selves,
and of all of those strangers' concepts.

Can you feel it?
Never mind reason, never
mind force. Never mind
vengeance—never mind love.

After all, how powerful
could love be,
really—without any
of its objects?

A general feeling, a ubiquitous
expression,
vast and true
as the universe itself,

love just exists
unbounded, immaculate,
perfectly
useless.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

MEGALOPOLITAN

The collective
looks seasick,
the whole place

has gone clammy—
but still,
each stubborn, woozy,

and translucent
individual—keeps
gratuitously steering,

rudderless and rudely,
with no map
or compass—toward

one of several million
disparate
back-alley addresses—each one

squinting ineffectually
through a fog
of rank patriotism

and exclaiming—but see? 
all the rats
are still here,

so—the ship 
can't be
sinking.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES

Were all the causes
exactly the same?
Are all solutions, then,
basically interchangeable?

Maybe on the curved underside
of the world's unreachable roof,
of detached imperturbable blue,
marbled though with high
stratus cloud brushstrokes,

time doesn't
fly, it holds still—frozen, quiet,
but without any
of those adjectives.

Down below, in assiduous
city streets, though,
so many noisy ideas,

so many guesses
concerning tempo,
history, chronology, space

hang from each building,
lamppost, and tree—and they
interlock and sway,
stretch and compete,

like the tangled
invisible morass
of beautiful but stubborn-
ly deliberate spiderwebs—that

each day as I
pass, underneath,
I can never go three feet
without having

to brush them away
from my face.

Monday, September 11, 2017

TWINS

This isn't rocket science; when we
aren't being wise, we're peaceful.

Sometimes, we meet,
then part, then meet

again, and part some more—
like the garrulous wavecrests

of a teeming prismatic
but otherwise taciturn sea.

At times, we speak
easy and casual across the distance,

confident as passing clouds polluting
the blue sky with matter-

of-fact revelations, with ideas
which are edge-less and vague

and so pure-
ly aesthetic, they meekly fall away.

Other times, we're sitting still
or standing

quietly
side-by-side—no blasphemy

without faith—as we each become
the dream of the other

and so can no longer possibly
treat each other like meat,

not merely indulging
the prodigal silence,

but candidly, equitably
splitting it—50/50.

Friday, September 8, 2017

HOW COME

There are things
I believe in—
at breakfast,

for example—
eggs and bacon,
forks and knives,
butter and toast.

And of course,
there are things
which I don't—

pure villainy,
death and
reincarnation, animal
souls, karma and ghosts.

And then, there are
all of those
runnier things in between,

the sticky stuff
which I believe in,
but only just
a little—

hypothetical
barnyard animals, filthy
and greedy

strip mining operations,
wheat—conceptualized
as an amber wave.

But even if I could
glue it all together,

and even if I understood
why I was trying doing that,

I'd still never know—
what I was making,

how long
it would take me,

what
it was for.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

PR MAN

In this case,
the right words
are few,

must be
sharp and
clean as jewelry—

and chosen
just as carefully
as those polished

affectations are
to rare but naturally-
occurring minerals.

I am a conjurer.
You
are the conjured.

Poof—I exhaust,
then revive
my audience;

I gas them
so I can be the one
to fix them up again.

I am the menace
and the protector
of the menaced.

In every case, the
right words
are few,

and the pure thoughts
are two:
First, this place

where they are
is actually
the lounge;

it's only
the waiting room,
and I

am the warm-up act.
Second: the big star
behind the next door

doesn't give a flat
fuck about them
at all.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

TWO BIRDS, ONE STONE

The mission is no longer
to put them all dreamily to sleep
with these ghostly subversions—
charcoal and smoke

and cedar-infused air,
smudged outlines
of ash across cave walls,
and burnt little matchsticks—

and then, to artfully wake them
back up again, listening carefully,
taking down notes
as they blather on about something

concerning the old story,
about visions of floodwaters
and rainbows and
halos of light in the still-dark morning—

and then, simply to
polish the symbols they've engenderd
and shine those bright fictions
right back at them.

Actually, this is still part of it, but
the mission itself
is now considerably larger. The mission
is to forget—and yet to remember

the whole world
(and all possible alternatives)
forever hanging there,
crooked and careless

in the improvident
cold of outer space;
and then, to convince ourselves
that we're actually right

where we're supposed to be—
that when great complexity
is lost, even more
simplicity is gained—

that the mission was never—play to win,
but rather:
play to not lose;  live
to fight another day."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I SAW HER STANDING THERE

No no no
no, now—it's
too late for that;
I'm far too

preoccupied—or maybe
uncertain—
to ask a stone muse like that
to wobble

and dance
with me. Trust me, I
may look sharp
and cunning,

but without somebody's
capable hand down there
guiding the handle, I'm all flash
and dangerous.

Tonight, I've got her
underwear's elastic
strapped tight
to my head

but still, she seems
unimpressed. Guess it's
too little,
probably far too little

and probably too late
for a little magic
like that;

The fact is—
I should have been
thinking
with my private parts

way back,
when she was
just seventeen,

when she knew
what I mean—when
all this didn't

seem pathetic—
when I still
had a chance.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A CADENCE

Ever since you first cracked
the lid,

arrayed your babyish
hands around the keys—

smooth and cool
and white and bonelike—

grasped that it was easy to play
pentatonic Lutheran tunes

in that hopeful
acolyte mode—it seems like

you've been
nothing but desperate

to leave—to run around chasing
the high of sharps and flats,

to bear the weight
of a considerably more labored

and much lonelier strain
of music

than: row, row, row your boat—let's
change the subject.

But listen: where are you now
other than stranded?

What have you been doing
but killing yourself for decades

trying the avoid
the place where you came from?

And which refrain
really sounds more cowardly now:

the one in which you
always stayed

and only played
the notes that made you happy? Or—

the ballad of you
haunted and desperate forever

to avoid going home
to C Major?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

MEMORY

Dreary gray-
scale afternoon dreaming—
walking the city park's
grubby perimeter, wondering

of just what
sort of squalid
desecration and decay
are our fiercest newnesses made?

Some things, I'm sure,
are beyond
good and evil, but lots
of things

are not.
And there's plenty
of detritus
and rainy day junk

hanging around
here, rising to clutter
foreground
and block both concepts.

And which
is more important?
The things, or those spaces
they each take up?

Huge, mythical owls
roosting in dark trees
may very well be
not what they seem—

but I'm pretty
sure all of these shit-shiny
pigeons
gumming up the sidewalk are.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

AMERICAN SUPERHERO

When I was younger, I always
would look

up and imagine—what
it would

feel like—to swoop
brawny and

broad winged and darkly
confident

wheels through empty
blue space,

with perfect faith
in the invisible gusts

of midwestern wind—so
fulsome they're practically

solid with the vitalizing musk
of sweet forest trees—

gliding there in silence
for as long as I wished. But

now that I'm pretty much
all grown up,

I more often look up
and wonder

whether or not
that same exhilarating hawk

ever falls
asleep at night

and dreams
of coming down here

to earth,
getting into some warm

little car,
perhaps with a shirt

and tie on—and just going
to work.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

POST MODERN DANCE SCENARIO

Stride for stride,
you

and I
just go

walking
sometimes—

past paper mache
trees and
shoebox buildings,

often silent
for indefinite-
ly

long stretches of time;
though

not exactly.
Not really,
since—

mutual intent
and fealty

and faith
that every routine
will eventually
eat its own tail,

and an
unwavering confidence
in the indefinite,
and yet—

in the truth
that must exist

in the direction
of every single,
individual step—that

itself—
does all
the talking.

Monday, August 28, 2017

LUKEWARM

It's true, I suppose; the best
things in life—are free.

Free, as in: cheap. Almost totally
worthless. And, as in: running

at light speed—heedless and probably
laughing—away from me.

The worst stuff, on the other hand,
usually feels really expensive;

all those gruesome weather systems
and under-performing bodily organs,

all the thick, crusty, old prejudices and
jam-packed modern expressways—

those things all move so slow
and feel so solid to me, and heavy

for their size. But then, I suppose
there's always—the death

of all of those things to consider.
And when they occur, those deaths

don't feel cheap, but they never
feel expensive either. But then, that's

the trouble with driving right
down-the-center, with pure freezing cold

and blazing heat mixing together;
the results are too perfect. Gentle speeds,

normal pressures—the wide middle lane
is so luxurious, so easy to travel,

that no one ever thinks of turning
around. No one ever even considers

interrupting the strange feeling
of no longer feeling either extreme,

never thinks of hitting reverse, of pulling
a u-turn, and coming back

where they came from—even though
of course they could, of course they could.

Friday, August 25, 2017

DEATH WISH

Some thirty five feet
above this old sun-
blinded street—

a lean gray squirrel
bounding
across an electrical wire,

and me—down here realizing
I've never been
that sure

of anything
in my life.
Except maybe

one thing—which
luckily, he's
never heard of.

BREAKTHROUGH

The poem I deleted
before I wrote this one

was like the furtive intricate
folds of a rose petal—

complex in its frailty
and perfumed with allusion,

and it contained sterling answers
to all the most pressing

metaphysical questions.
But personally, now that its

destruction is finished,
I actually feel better.

I mean, I feel
superior—not to mention,

much more accomplished
than I ever did before.

Who says you can never
destroy information?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

MESSAGE NOT SENT

Common grackles,
with most of their intelligent
crests of iridescent
blue consumed by stolid black,

and the starlings, gold flecked
but still greedy, it seems
from their quibbles,
for more and more light—

make for some ragged but
fitting company—prying worms
and raiding berries
under mangy catalpas.

I feel greedy too—shivering
in their shade
but feverish,
not for the simple

frivolous truth—but
for some slippery,
cornerless,
grubby certainty.

Hang dignity. And all
the hopeless symbols:
don't kiss me or smile. Don't wait,
and don't call.

Don't promise to send any
funereal flowers—I just want, somehow,
to know what you think of me
right now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

INTENTIONAL FALLACY

A mostly pretty magnificent head
is never found—in the
clouds;

it's down
in the empty park grass, supine
on the ground,

presently
feeling gainfully defensive,
thinking—

is this the very best
daydreaming
can offer? It isn't

very relaxing
at all
to stare at those

shiftless
cumulus tumors
malingering up there;

so profuse
and indiscriminate, so rude-
ly unintentional, and so distastefully

unlimited
by the things people think
that they are

that they don't
have any respect for their own
boundaries—little wonder

that they're
barely able to keep
themselves together.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

BAZOOKA JOE

Remember when you were
a kid, and you
really believed it

when they promised you—that
pumping some ordinary
air into your shoe soles

would somehow
grant you the power to
jump a little higher?

When you figured that
in order justify reading the comics
you had to chew the bubble gum?

It's time to stop living
inside of those sorts of comfy
parentheses now.

It's time to stop pretending,
that, one day,
you'll know how

to perfectly remember tomorrow
from the day after—
like it was yesterday.

Recall how—you couldn't just swallow
that toothache, just like
you can't outgrow

all of your shells
from inside them. Step confidently
barefoot—out onto hot pavement,

sinking sand, prickly
grass; take off your sun-
glasses, dude, and look

around you—something is amiss
when the wrappers
are more valuable

then whatever the hell
fleshy stale
crap that they're wrapping.

Monday, August 21, 2017

FABLE WITH SELF-EVIDENT MORAL

The manifest image today
is that
of the moon—
a bedraggled old thing, hard and
barren as bone,

but which is really made
of words,

bumbling in front of
and temporarily bunging-up
the colossal pouring forth
of the sun—its light,

the radiant invisible
source of
pure language.

For a time, all brilliance
wavers and wanes—

and we're left with
only
our dim understanding,
a belief
in the brute force of description;

but eventually, the last remaining
wispy sliver of light

waxes and shudders and
pours once again
warmly forth—

along with
our faith (graciously not
our belief)

in the undying
unspoken
apprehension of metaphor.

Friday, August 18, 2017

IT'S NOT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE

Hate
to break it to you, son

but Baseball
isn't real.

It's a game.
Games are fake.

Sure—a baseball itself
is a thing,
in so much as

you can hold it,
one could hit you
in the face.

And the boys in white cotton,
and the men in black and blue;

all the hot dogs and bubble gum,
all the leather and tobacco
and resin and wood—

those items
are all out there, too.

But the really,
really important stuff? RBI's,
pop flies, sac bunts?

Come
to think of it: home runs—

they just don't exist;

it's a wonder
we can even
discuss this.

Foul and fair
territory
are imaginary,

leagues
are abstractions,
salaries—theoretical.

Even the baselines,
connecting home
to first and third,

which we all think
we see clearly,
are like

the line
on a map
in a schoolbook of yours

separating, say,
Canada from America
and America from Mexico—

quixotic collective fantasies,

only
painted-on.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

INDEX

If feelings
were stones

littering huge
ancient cliffs—and

words were
the cumbersome antlers

of ferocious
dead animals—then

the first poem
on earth

was a hatchet,
chipped and chiseled

from rough
chalky flint—

and this
more recent example

is the polished
obsidian tip

of an arrow,
aimed straight

at some modern heart—which is,
basically,

a sack
full of stones.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

AFFORDANCES

This poem is my poor, honest
excuse for an airport,

since I doubt I'll ever get around 
to building you a real one; 

stubby runways 
of instruction—in digital code, some 

short bits of information, to which 
I only hope 

you'll give me a break 
and apply a little energy. Basically:

keep flying towards the light 
at constant angle A. Then, just 

trust me—you'll make 
it someday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

FUNDAMENTALIST

Confession—still usually makes me
feel like a deity
to swoop in

from outside
of her own
furiously honed ontology

and to smash—
the occasional floozy
brown spider

who scuttles alone
down the edge of
my basement hallway molding—

like I'm silently teaching
the whole universe
some ineffable lesson. But gradually,

spider by spider,
it's seeming
slightly more radical—

to learn
instead of
to teach the lessons, to pivot

on that
retributive foot
and leave unseen, to become

truly invincible
right here
on the earth,

as an indispensable
broker—not of mercy, but
nonchalance.

Monday, August 14, 2017

QUALITY CONTROL

Don't worry—real white
looks nothing like a glass
of ice cold milk,

nothing like a bleached
square of toilet paper,
nothing like some freshly

washed bed sheets,
or that special kind of
toothpaste you use;

real white
is something so pure
and true,

it would never let you
just go rubbing up against it
like that.

Real white is so good,
and so right,
it is not even like

the thin, soft light
by which you first recognized
your own face in the mirror.

In fact, real white,
real rightness,
real innocence, and the like—

those things
are much less
like light

and considerably
more like—Einstein's
equations describing it, or

like the time it takes
a cloud to rain
itself clear out of existence.

White is not even a feeling; it's
the feeling of
whichever feeling that was

slowly dissipating
once you understood—it was doing
nothing for you.

Friday, August 11, 2017

ON AND ON AND ON

Passion is loud
and sloppy and sudden,
is something

that just happens—
like
the mumps.

But, at it's quietest, love
comes across
much more like

fidelity—
not at all
glamorous,

simple and slender
as a promise
when it's whispered,

something you
don't touch, but catch
glimpses of,

too steadfast
and unremarkable
to be a miracle—

like July fireflies
in those considerable moments
between flashes

or dusty dented boxes
a little too full of
Christmas ornaments,

like beautiful wind chimes
hung up
in the window of a closed shop,

or exotic garden flowers
at night
when no one's there looking.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

LET'S PRETEND

Imagine your
relief—when you're
finally dead,

and you end
up in
heaven—a place

of infinite
harmony
and order

to which
no one can
possibly object,

where there's
no such thing
as danger—

so you don't ever
have to be
brave.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

On a quest to completely
disown all my preferences,

I set to work
inventing a brand new piano—

with no sharps and
flats, no black

and no
white keys, to play fantastic

modern melodies
which would neatly upset

all expectations—
and huge heroic chords

unencumbered by such
baroque constructs

as good notes
and bad ones—

but once the thing was built,
and I finally

laid my hands on it
and discharged my first

ecumenical message,
the tone just didn't strike me

as functional
at all. The good

and the bad
were still calling out to me,

like small moans
on a breeze

from someplace
far away.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

POP SONG

Verses start
with some jottings,

notes
toward the real thing,

drawings
of something
I can't map

my mind
onto.
I guess it's all

true—
mountains are mountains,
huge

and secular;
they don't represent
distance

or fortitude—
only themselves, only
the background.

And water
is water—in an ocean,
in a toilet,

locked deep
inside a strawberry.

Speaking of which,
Love might be
well represented by

a leaf,
a grass blade,
or a grain of beach sand—

each humble,
potentially irritating
to the skin

and hardly ever
discussed
as a thing

all by itself. Which is exactly
the point,
since—when

the chorus
gets here, it'll be ripe
for how

all things
are interdependent—like ripples on the
placid reflections

of everything
else in this

lake of a universe,
and how

chord changes
now, are
a total illusion,

and how everyone—
everybody

everywhere
is exactly one,

is precisely
the same thing—especially
me.

Monday, August 7, 2017

GRASS IS GREENER

Meanwhile, on the other side
of the hill—

the problem was
that the problem itself had vanished

since they didn't know which
questions

to ask anymore.
Instead of transparent, things were

clear. Instead of unfathomable shadows,
the whole world was filled

with an intensely blinding
luminosity. It was as if

the light was coming
from inside of everything, instead of

shining out from a star—as if it was time
itself that stood still

so the topography of the bluegreen
earth could

all the more easily bend
and curve around it,

until—there no longer was
any "hill"

or any "until"—
or, for that matter, any such

thing
as a "was."

Friday, August 4, 2017

WHAT A NIGHTMARE

Suddenly, your dream is
not a dream
any longer;

the prophetic image
that forms—is no image
in itself,

but a cold, empty glass
through which
many other images become focused;

and you see
it now—

this whole world
was made
for them,

for the swallowed,
the poisoned,

for the drowned,
and the bent-
low—

all the dead
live on

as
information—

permanent,
as words

and shapes and
colors and numbers,

as theory—
as imaginary

multiples
of fishes

and cloned
chunks of
old bread loaf—

impervious
as forever,

right here,
in the heads

of the temporarily-
living.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

CONFESSION IN CHEVRON

Correction—
there's no such thing

as good days;
only these

fluke electro-
magnetically galvanized ones—

where the black waves
of anger

come evenly
spaced

across the blank-white
forever of obsolescence,

and they
all line-up straight—and nicely

face a more upright
direction.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

Like apprentice sooth-
sayers, we usually go looking

into every little
anemic puddle

until we see
the truth—not

in any of our
warped reflections, but

in what
we've been doing:

closing our eyes,
to lies,

and to
evil—and tragedy

and violence,
and grief

and seeing
absolutely nothing—might be

a relief;
or it might signal

the most consummate
torment

of hell.
But after

a while, opening them
and seeing

those familiar
demons again—that

is the most
exhilarating

kind
of salvation.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

TO SOMEONE WHO'S NOT LISTENING

Face it—to us, the poor-
in-spirit,
hustling the inexhaustibly
mundane

out here on the street,
a motorcade
is just plain in-
convenient.

It's a sheer waste
of resources. It must be
difficult for you
now to remember, but

present and future
are hardly
the same
thing to the living.

And your life
was never
a deliberate procession;
if anything it was

a heedless river,
an idiotic spectacle
which began
in babbling words,

but which always
seemed to surge,
down the throat
of the present moment,

not forward,
but back—and downward,
toward some ancient ocean of
indescribable music.

Monday, July 31, 2017

WHERE THERE IS DOUBT, FAITH

Had any self-respecting
man of the cloth 
actually witnessed

this—ecstatic and 
innocent-as-
alabaster young friar

out there wandering 
deep in his own garden,

high on his 
hunger and preaching sweet
and ever-sweeter

sermons
to the birds—

he would have scoffed,
guffawed, pointed, and 
just about 

died 
laughing out loud—

instead of 
either by employing those 
little yellow 

canaries' favorite method—singing,
or else,

his own vastly preferred 
and time-honored way—cursed,

and tired,
and finally—of miserable
old age.

Friday, July 28, 2017

CURMUDGEON

Older Americans
are too proud
of their grandkids—

they're always taking
up way
too much
room on the sidewalk,

liking
The Beatles a
little too much,

purchasing
all the good
groceries right
before me, and single-

handedly keeping
the film industry
from being "a thing."

They insist on
taking all of their meals
on-time and
in-order—and literally

laughing
out-loud at network
television (which is
disheartening.)

They do such a
good job sticking
to a "daily routine"
that it's starting to
usurp all my
hope for the future,

and they know
to manage things like heart
conditions, stress,
and diabetes

the same way I know
how to use
a flyswatter.

Older Americans
who are too proud of
their grandkids also "don't really
like poetry." But they're careful

never to blame the authors—
yet they refuse
to lay the blame
on themselves for it, either, because

they simply haven't got the time
or the energy
to worry about things
that don't define them anymore
and—

I'm starting
to think—frankly,

neither
do I.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

DHARMA

One day in late July, when the mirage
of five
o'clock in the afternoon
still looms

a huge droning
honey bee
might be the only
one who's not dreaming—

moving outward
from the center, he endeavors
to scour
the entire fortune

of the lone sun-
flower
emerging from
trilling tufts of wild dill—

there, at the still point
of the swift-turning
universe, at the realest
place in existence,

spitting and sucking,
he makes the world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

SUPERINTENDED

The message
is actually

exactly the same;
it's just that—

courage
takes

out
all these

minuscule
personal ads, whereas

fear
goes for billboards—

Maintain. Maintain.
Maintain. Maintain.

But depending
on where

you see this—it makes you
feel either

disgusted
or disgusting—

which then
makes you wish

a custodian
really did exist, so that

they
could be the one

to come down here
and plunge this

toilet
that's not flushing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

HALCYON ABSTRACT

Amid the rippling
galaxies
of white clover, spiraling
out on a
kelly green lawn

where here
and there, a few robins
go gliding,
sheathed in silence
through the
yawn of late day,

on a small blanket
littered
with the glad aftermath
of kool-aid and
cold chicken—

a drowsy ten-year-old,
Raul maybe,
hugs
and nestles
closer, and keeps hugging

his short plump abuela,
who murmurs
some soft string
of lullaby lyrics
he doesn't understand,

but which probably
translate
roughly, to—
it's true,
there's no such thing
as heaven,

and if God exists,
he is not
great. No, he isn't
great at all—

but some days, he
sure knows
how to give it
a shot.

Monday, July 24, 2017

MIRAGES

You've probably
noticed it by now—that
the best sensations

are never found
in the place where
they come from, that

the tantalizing late July sunlight
is your toughest antagonist
when you look directly at it.

You've likely felt it too,
how summer—the true season,
which you swear you've experienced,

with its ripe
tomato-red, immaculate
white of bleached,

enriched bread, and undersea
blue of doo-wop
music under poplar shade—

how it never really
comes upon you; it's always
just around that next leafy corner,

until—wait, now there it is,
back there, behind
the sepia-toned last.

And there's something
illusory too—something
of a magic trick, even to these

hazy backyard barbecues
and dizzy pool parties
with friends and neighbors

when you're disoriented,
heavy with sun
and charcoal smoke

and too hungry to notice
in the moment—how it's never
that hot dog itself

that you're smelling; it's
the fire, the supernatural
smell of ashy fat and charred metal,

and most of all, it's
those little onions—stubborn
ugly vegetables, now

translucent, tortured and sweating out
their acrid toughness—it's just onions
you're after, all along.

Friday, July 21, 2017

THE CATCH

The beginner's mind
seems like
such a hopelessly difficult thing
to come by

after Todd,
the candid landscape architect,
stands and ends
his rain-plagued tour

of the garden grounds
by stating, as if
it were fact—that
the pruned

juniper hedges
flanking the whole perimeter,
which somehow trap
and hold the spearmint

smell of summer thunder-
storms long past,
and which
somehow even manage

to ensnare the silvery
light of the moon
in a neatly repeatable
demonstration

that even the homeliest
little spider's nest
is more breath-
lessly intricate

than any
cartoon web you could
draw or
picture in your head—

obviously, just make
the whole
place—look
dated.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

AMATEURS

Like some set from
a Hollywood
movie that

I would have indecorously missed
the first twenty
minutes of,

the subway-
tiled urban

neighborhood
men-only

hair salon
waiting room—

apparently
boasts
an electric blue vintage

fridge full
of Michelob—

the kind
in those little
8 oz. faux-bottle rocket ships—

and I
can only think,
as I catch

my first nervous
sidelong
glimpse in there

from the
dopey red leather
chair

where I've
hardly ever felt
more professional-

ly juvenile
and vulnerable
in my life—

that
those sorts of
bewildering props

must be
for all the
bumbling understudies

who go
around showing up
a few minutes

early—for
appointments.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

LIVE A LITTLE

In the hard glint of afternoon sun,
you can't really think,
except to realize

you're not actually
very far away—you've never been
closer to home; and now,

when the intellect
is mercifully diminished
all your senses quickly sharpen—

and you can almost hear
the noiseless stealth
of shiny black ants

as they bustle back
and forth in the
sidewalk cracks—

and practically smell
the sweet breath of lazy
vines across all of the

brick walls all exhaling—and
for the first time in a while,
really see all these

sweet plucky children
come streaking
out the open

doors of squat shops
with pinstriped window awnings
and go

surging like a flood
through the streets
of this lakeside downtown

with meaningful streaks
of brown and pink and seashell
white on their cold cheeks

and remember
that there used to be so many
unique ways to get here,

because fudge,
after all, is not really
a candy—it's a process.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MISTAKE

Turns out,
my freest
moments are always

those
in which I'm
able to forget

that all my thoughts
have been
pre-selected.

And how they might
come spaced,
like skinny trees

through little iron
cages in the cement—
the products

of conscientious
urban planning
and development—

each one similar
in size and shape,
distinctly separate

but almost always
all considered
together

as one thing. Yes,
respites
like this

are the best,
because
the truth is

all that stuff—
like distance
and time

and space
and whatever—
are nice,

but they're just
options—not to mention
illusions.

Monday, July 17, 2017

CONNECTIVITY

It's okay. There's always
a bridge—a giant
twinkling mythological creature

stretched and sleeping
over the churning
curve of fresh water,

a way back—
if you think
you ever need one.

But, you don't think—
you grip
tight to the silver

rails of this rented
catamaran in the crisp wind,
and you deepen,

like that distant
bridge's prodigiously
thick foundations

sunken
into the dark and
Paleolithic limestone bedrock;

while topside,
your rigid little
bones and tight skin

begin to loosen—
from being whipped across
the straits of Mackinac

this great and turbulent
confluence of gray
glass mirrors—called Superior

and Huron. And from now on,
there's no tolls to pay,
just a frozen Bluetooth

and a hiccuping 4G connection.
It's okay. This is not
the end of the world—it's

the top.
The edge as you know it,
the peak

as you like it, and as they
will all probably
like it too—

online, in a few
carefully curated pictures
a few days later.

Friday, July 7, 2017

THE READER

This is addressed to you,
the one,
true reader,

even if we never meet
or understand
one another—please

let this
poem stand for

the opposite
of prayer—

no sparkling
paean
to the sacred sky,

just these mealy words
to ground you
to the earth,

to fermented treasure
troves of dirt, actual apple trees,
sequoia groves;

may it point away
from god
and curl more in-tight—

toward goodness,
toward all those faultless,
and guiltless

protons and electrons.

And may it point outward too,
toward that
which

you truly are.

All of
the time.

No matter
what else:

a primate—

in a gorgeous electro-
magnetic field.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

WORKING ON MY NOVEL

Some days, I wake up
and feel like
the only thing I'm able
to write

is
my own name
italicized—

Dan Smart: sort of bent
and crumpled,

stretched thin and
maybe kind of subtly
yelling at everyone;

and I try to fix
the way it looks
with a few quick cups
of black coffee,

but each one only
makes the letters
look bolder

and then adds another
strenuous (though impressive)
punctuation mark to it.

If it hasn't grown
too long, it's still able
to walk the dog
and maybe exercise a little,

which seems to at least
drop it off
at the top
of a new paragraph;

but then, it's just stuck up there,
freaked-out by precarious
position it's in,
wondering how long

it can possibly
stay balanced
in any sort interesting
(read: readable) way

when it's reaching so
hard for what's clever
and hugging
what's miserable.

And would anyone
want to read that?

Then, I think—maybe
that's enough for today.
And

my name relaxes,
straightens out,
or at least
calms down enough

to be read
legibly again. And suddenly
it's like—except

for all the content,
this thing
writes itself.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

LIBERATION

So—one day in the Starbucks, I
stopped. And tried 
to listen in, and between
the weak din

of the background hard bop and 
the murmuring traffic
outside on the Street, my sweet little 
conscience whispered 

to me: You know 
what? I take 
all it back—you shouldn't
listen to me,

and never wish 
upon a star. It may look 
pretty, all 
twinkly and infallibly faraway, 

but a star doesn't know anything 
about your past 
or current 
predicament. A star 

has never shit 
its pants as a little kid. 
A star has never 
had to get high on Krylon

just to face up to 
mowing the lawn. 
A star has never daydreamed
about whether there's  

life on Mars, causing it to
botch another work email,
or dreamed of a star 
that's technically its sister

out of weird pent-up sexual frustration;
it has certainly never had to 
get up and make its bed after 
such an incident happened, either.

Or even—not once, come 
to think of it—been through the 
sheer hell that is having
to wake up in the morning at all, 

let alone ever felt as 
jittery, small, and dismayed, 
as utterly futile, 
as preternaturally balanced

between anxious and dull—
as dirty 
and as pure 
as you're feeling now.

Friday, June 30, 2017

POEM FOR ANY JUNE 30

On the slippery lip of another spectacular
downtown plaza
fountain, misty,
wrecked with calcium—

wet, spindly finches
and fat,
grimy pigeons
with bulging chests and distended necks

preen and quaver—
but never flinch,
because they
and cannot bring themselves

to resent
these important men
who insist on
crisscrossing them—

sanguine
in their heavy,
requisite blazers,
gesturing and cogitating,

with only
their impeccable
sunglasses—to keep them
cool.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

CONCURRENCE

Under the commodious shade
of a poplar, the wind
purring

indiscriminate through its
summer carapace
of leaves,

thought I could see, in broad daylight—Orion?
and The Big Dipper?
faithfully

sketched in the furtive
freckles of a tiger
lily.

The blossom, common among its
sisters, was a pure grimace
of confession—

unblinking, staring straight and 
conscientiously skyward,
it delivered,

maternally—yet very matter-of-factly 
(like an old, matronly
administrator would):

well, how did you think all these
different things around here
discovered

the one place where they all fit together? 
Whether we choose to admit it 
or not makes no difference;

the fact is we're always, 
always, always, always—
living in a neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

PERFECT SPHERE

Listen carefully—
whenever people say:
it's a slippery slope,
they're not really thinking.

Because obviously,
we've all been stuck
to this surface
for a while now.

And there aren't any
gradations, either.

There isn't any
center. and there

certainly never was
any middleground.

There was ever only
occasional
floozy curves
and maybe a few
interesting indentations

simultaneously vying
for our inter-
mittent attention.

And, of course,
there were
things—

even now,
things
are still real,

and we would do well
to continue to attend
to each of them

because
they (the things)
need us
in order to exist—

But personally, I no longer
think I prefer
one to another;

I don't go after things, either.
Not anymore.
I only move casually toward them

(even the things
that are invisible—like the way
ocean waves still waggle
at the moon
in broad daylight)

content to relate to them
a little
and let them carry me
where they will.

That way,
no one thing
will feel totally hopeless;

instead, it's like there's a little
barely serviceable
hope—everywhere I go.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

FULCRUM POINT

Every morning, or maybe
even more often, for the last dozen 
years—it's 
been like this. But I'm not 
crazy; he is.

Hey Dan, it's 
me, he says; 
your humble ubiquitous 
plastic black 
men's pocket comb

Why not write
a nice little image poem 
about me 
in a profoundly 
casual tone? Can you believe it?

I mean—he's not exactly
one in a million; 
it's more like 
literally (probably) one 
of ten billion clones

which lurk 
like hideous spiders
inside every junk drawer 
and travel bag 
in the world, 

which hover, all
dead and distorted,
inside all of those 
weird alien blue 
jars the barbershops use,

and which sulk 
forgotten in bathroom cabinets 
(you know, those deceptive, 
untrustworthy kinds, 
on the other side of the mirror?)

Forget it, I've always
told him, it's way too difficult
to even so much as squeeze you in
to whatever
thing I'm working on; face it,

you're full of dead skin 
and hair fuzz, and not at all 
moral, like the good old 
soap is—or virtuous 
like the upstanding toothbrush.

But it must be 
his response, that inevitable bristle 
of silence, which, lately 
is forcing me to admit
that what he really represents is

one of the most workable 
means to an end 
that exists 
in my entire universe,
And that, pretty much all the time, 

I totally find 
that damn mind-
numbing 
ubiquity of his, more than 
slightly—reassuring. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

DEDICATION

There—in the place
where the freshest light
goes streaking

through still-
living oak trees'
spangled branches

and gleams
on polished stratagems
of pink marble—

where the quick ripple
of bright flags' far-off waving
corresponds neatly

with the faint sounds
of chains and ropes pinging
off slick poles of brushed aluminum—

where the plain pretty
alternation
of gullies and ridges

made by erstwhile
busy gophers
under wrought-iron fences,

the ones
far away from those
shabbier plots

in the
shadier knolls,
where the lawnmowers

can't go,
and from which crowds
of red and white lilies

reach nearly horizontally
on their thick spindly stalks,
greedy for sun—

that is the place
where I know I
shall come

to believe in
life after death;
that is—

to finally believe
in their life. After mine
is done.

Friday, June 23, 2017

CABLE MAN!

Just as things
are looking their blackest,
domestically-

speaking, a huge-booted
superhero—
called Javier,

originally from
Seattle or somewhere—
breezes in

to assail the grim scene
with alacrity, charm
and the trademark civility 

you'd expect 
of his beneficent 
alien technocrat guild.

At once, he rolls 
his uniformed sleeves,
thrusts his hips

and cocks his
already quite tilted
and overloaded

utility belt
just a little
bit more

(this alone doesn't
fix anything, of course,
but it helps

you feel
as if you're
being taken care of).

Truthfully, he rarely uses
a single
cabalistic implement

from inside the thing
(his mere presence
ordinarily quells the emergency).

Truth is, that belt
isn't even
very pretty,

but damn it,
it's part
of the outfit—so he wears it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

COMMON CROW POEM

Through endless fields of fire-
blue ozone, weightless but

oppressively cloudless, she alone
goes slowly wheeling,

dragging a ragged black cloak on
secret invisible breezes—

breezes which she seems to carry
and keep underneath her,

even in this stilted dead
center of summer; while two

opportunistic eyeballs,
sharp pebbles of obsidian,

scan the heather
which rustles and sighs

beneath a few drooping deciduous
mid-western treetops.

She—the one uniquely
American scavenger,

she never rests—but neither
does she work.

She doesn't pray,
but she does not hunt;

when she spies
a good meal, she laughs

and she coughs,
both at once—

making known
to all of us down below,

the peculiar nature of this
shared paradox—

the grim intransigence
of our own good luck.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

LOGICIAN GENERAL'S WARNING

Caution—occasional words 
may swell 

and veil 
those facts which 

first 
propelled them. 

And none 
have been experimentally 

tested 
and proven 

to describe 
the distinct 

absence 
of a miracle.

And in fact, 
any answers uttered

in excess 
of yes 

or no
could be 

asking 
for trouble.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

MNEMONIC

You don't have to know what it means,
or even
how to make it.

Just think of poetry—as
something
which,

one day
you suddenly
happen

to wake up
and find yourself
in the middle

of having been
more or less doing
for decades already.

Actually—less
like speaking

and more
like
singing—that is,

singing in your sleep:
without that syntactic
net of guarantees—

in rhythms
with no history

and in tunes
without fates,

and on an instrument
felicitous
only, perhaps

here and there, to
an embittered
old sphinx

or occasional
impenetrable
Delphic oracle;

and each
as valuable only
as much it can be

unattended,
and of course,
apropos

of no intention
you could name,
not even—and maybe

especially—
upon waking.

Monday, June 19, 2017

CULTIVATED

Listen; once you finally get tired
of looking-

up the word misery 
in the rhyming dictionary,

I have a better idea
to help ease the tension

between longing to seem
vaguely similar

while also appearing so
strikingly individual.

All you have to do from
now on, is always make

sure to carry your very
correctness with you—

as if it were a cherished
trinket on some

shimmering necklace.
Futility!—they'll whisper

whenever they see you
out at parties;

such a costly and un-
touchable point of view!

Friday, June 16, 2017

OMNIA VINCIT AMOR

The way I figure it—the conquerors
had it backwards

all along—true love
has never

made anything happen.
Love does not

do work,
it takes credit.

It's the frozen
lustrous moon; not the

incandescent sun.
Love doesn't

permit or divulge; in practice
the real thing

is more like
a withholding of apathy,

of prejudice,
of revenge.

Only,
lazier than that—it's

never cleared
a forest

of formidable oak trees;
it's more like

the little wind
that likes to go out

gossiping in the
brambly coppices after.

It isn't industrious, it's
the bliss-

fully
indiscriminate consumer.

You
and I (and everyone)

can feel it sometimes
sloshing around

inside us; but
it can't make

us feel any fuller,
it utterly refuses

to conquer, And it's certainly
never ever

made—a Subaru
a Subaru.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

TAKE YOUR TIME

For a huge minute, the
sweet,

red rain-
dappled cheeks

of a June
strawberry—they don't

exactly
move, but they do

still manage
to let it speak clearly:

Please—
feel free

to invent!
any and

whichever
dance steps you'd

like;
the music

won't be
changing.

Monday, June 12, 2017

TOMB OF THE EMPEROR

A lot
of our thoughts
are so
tiny—and they each

individually
weigh next
to nothing;
but the

thing is:
when they come,
they come
in droves.

Initially,
they're taken
so lightly—
they drift around

like flurries;
we don't
expect them
to stick.

And so, we simply
throw any
old coat
of shabby insensitivity

on top of
the depreciated
cores of our
feelings

before
venturing out—
inevitably
sinking, lost

and deep
in the vast
and inarguable
mythologies we created—

stark naked
by the time they
finally
locate our corpses;

though mercifully—
we're
covered in
thick snow,

right up
to our ponderous and
erstwhile
enterprising crowns.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

EXPO

Hi, my name is
Mr. Write— 

Objective: 
live like a child

who's scared 
to die. Skill-sets include:

bleaching the stains of hope 
from the bones of reality, 

churning the truth 
into honesty and faith,

praising everything 
that is and happens 

just for being and 
for happening.

Fun fact about me: I've never read 
an entire newspaper.

Former employment:
a symptom of someone 

else's fever, desperate 
for answers

when there so plainly
weren't any. 

Where I see 
myself in five years: as objectively

as you might 
see another.

In ten:
speaking to the dead 

on behalf 
of the dumb. 

You cannot possibly 
underpay me.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

OUTBURST

Somehow, each morning 
through gunmetal 

clouds of my own
not-yet-knowing

which rage 
like mad over 

the tops of
of my shoulders, 

the clean 
hot electric

light 
of a thought 

will flash its effulgent 
and pliant pith 

setting
something deep in me 

rumbling sympathetically—
until eventually 

raining down 
hectic drivel 

in wet 
jazzy patterns—

when my mouth tries 
to mention it.

Friday, June 2, 2017

LAST DAY

At precisely twelve o'clock—there's a rush,
a sudden
sunblinding gushing

and a couple of
intrepid but
grubby and ill-equipped grownups must

once again go wading—
in undulant rivers of shimmering
children.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

CENTER OF GRAVITY

Dreamt I picked up a lone,
cool, round stone
from a rocky, bone-
white beach up
north somewhere—

held it firm
in my leathery palm,
felt its heft,
made it warm—

for a moment,
it was special. It was mine.
I had selected it
to the exclusion of its brothers
for some
very important reason.

Then, I waded out a bit,
and I dropped it
with a plunk in the
shallow, translucent tide,

and, before it had even finished
settling to the slate gray bottom,
I already could no longer
tell it apart
from an unfazed million others.

And, feeling neither
sad nor dis-
contented about this,
I shrugged (the tiny, imperceptible
shrug of a titan)
and moved on

down the strand. It was
such a mild feeling. Not strange;
smooth, but not boring—it just felt
easy to forget
and just let
go of having
inconsequentially changed
everything forever.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I SIT, AND MEANWHILE BACK

Take care: it's getting harder
and harder—
to be

somebody
out here. Despite blue
suburban skies,

there's a furious-
mad but
directionless wind

that keeps blowing
and blowing on the street—
and no one

else can see it.
It's yours
alone, and it's

blowing
you
nowhere.

And even their
greatest metaphors
seem

to hold
no sway anymore;
most things just are.

Or—more
precisely, you know it
when they aren't.

For instance, all those
Penny Lanes 
you remember,

dazzling uncountable
miles of them—
in all sizes,

far flung,
shade and sun-
spangled—

might be
stopping-up your
ears and eyes;

but
not a single one of them
will ever exist

the way you
really need it to—
as pavement.

As asphalt and rebar
and paint
and concrete

underneath
your sore and
intransigent feet.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MIDNIGHT BLUES

You don't know
a lot, 

but you think 
it's safe to assume 
that

all things 
are desperate—

to open up 
and show you
what they've got. 

You suspect—
there are 
all kinds of feelings 

you haven't met 
the words for yet.

Last night, 
you could
see the shiny 

milkwhite 
quarter moon,

ringed 
with tiny
forever stars

and cradling 
the ghost 
of 

the full moon 
in its spindly arms
and felt 

willing to bet—
someone 
or something 

was 
trying to forget 

everything 
that has 
ever happened,

and yet, in the process—
inadvertently 
thinking of something 

really big
that hasn't yet.

Friday, May 26, 2017

HORROR FLASH FICTION

Consider—
one by one, the objects around you
are all disappearing;

fading, receding, being turned
slowly into
pure ideas—not abstractions, exactly;

more like—lists. Lists
of things. Things contained in
better and better photographs.

Photographs which are, themselves,
slowly dissolving. Slowly being siphoned
away from their cameras—

because, after all, cameras
are objects, and all
the objects are disappearing.

But what if? these photographs
were slowly becoming
more aware? Aware

of their limitations.
And slowly getting obsessed. Obsessed
with their own fidelity. Obsessed

with becoming
as pure and honest
as a thing can get: that is—less

and less
real, yet more
and more accurate, and ultimately

so adherent to the truth
as to no longer exist. And what if,
speaking of truth,

none of this
is hypothetical. What if
it's actually already happening? And

little by little—the pictures are coming
closer and closer to
the facts.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

IN THEORY

Any time I start
to think
I might be done

arguing
back
and forth again

with a few dumbbells
and overly-reflective dinner plates
and those cursory screens,

and everything I can imagine
seems to exist
at right angles

to something else
which I hoped it was supposed
to be fluently representing—

any time
I'm ready
to just give in

and believe, already—
just so I don't
have to take responsibility

for knowing;
that's when I realize—
I could probably always,

in theory, at least,
go for
a nice cup of coffee,

and that
sometimes, that isn't a symbol
for anything;

sometimes, it's
just
the thing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MISDIRECTION

Hope for the future.
Childlike and
inscrutable wonder.

Breathy,
pungent breezes,
redolent, despite their freshness,

of ancient,
archetypal
mysteries. Ever since—

tired
yet proud of it,
wide but still waifish,

the enchantress
came walking
through the morning

piss and gloom,
slowing to huddle
inside this

fiberglass bus stop,
clutching a dozen
deep crimson roses—

with which
to blind the
mind's eye

perfectly—from
the lime-
green Crocs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

CONTRAPUNTAL

In the midday
wind, roadside litter crescendoing,
fluttering

like so many
white
and pink and gray

devil-may-
care songbirds,
giddy with their freedom;

making those fraught,
jagged,
haphazard loops

of hotly competing
amateur soloists—
and mocking, necessarily,

their huge hostage rows
of passengers
sitting

hunched over
gunmetal steering
wheels,

whispering
over and over—some
very precise

lunch orders
to help them remember
they're

not being paid—
to compose any
questions.

Monday, May 22, 2017

DAILY HABIT

How can you ever begin
to tell them—why it is you
have to write this?

Explain the nearly visible idea,
translucent
like a wraith-like raven,

like a razory, bag-of-bones bird
always nibbling,
always needling away

at the sharp peripheral
corner of your mind—relentlessly

pecking at your temple
while you try
to sleep at night

and always perched
upon your shoulder
and cawing—in that distinctive

scrape-smoldering
caw of his—any time you're awake,
as if he's saying

something about—
diving deeper.

Something about
some divinely comic inspiration

spelled out in quivering
motes of dust

in the stretched afternoon
light of a yellow happy tapioca sun—

the same one that warms
and lulls and will
one day, kill everyone.

Something—about holding
your breath for four
or five years (yes, you begin to imagine,

you could do that), just to hold
for one posthumous moment

in your cheeks and your toes,
in your bowels and your knees;

that sensation of
orgasmic relief—fierce spiraling rockets
splitting the ozone,

fireworks so white-
hot that they're
soothing—slingshotting

out from behind the wide
whites of your eyes

and smacking
against the back of your skull—
which, incidentally

goes a lot
farther back
than you ever thought—

at the exact,
ecstatic second—
when you just can't

seem to
stand it anymore.

Friday, May 19, 2017

YOU GUYS!

Not everything that's
reasonable 

is easy to grab
onto.

Not everything that's
simple

is also
reasonable. 

Lots of things exist 
everywhere you look—

but still, 
when you discuss them,

they sounds like 
dumb in-jokes,

spoken in some
weird fictional language 

between identical 
twin brothers. 

For instance—think 
of all those axioms 

of geometry
you learned in high school

which can never
be proven;

without a little 
blind faith, then,

wouldn't all 
of our buildings fall?

Or, for instance—
there's really 

no arguing
with the assertion—

that
every person living

inside every
one of those buildings—

could be expressed as:
a million of them—

divided by 
a million others.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

ARCHENEMY

You can see it
even now,

in relief against
the bleak and colorless

light of dry day—not so much
the slack and ruinous

drowsy cotton
cloud of an idea—but

the actual word;
a fierce but impotent emblem,

with its alluring snakes
of composite ciphers,

emblazoned (in all-caps)
across a slab

of cool pink
tombstone marble:

SLEEP—the silent
and ultimate temptation;

the one that has
no need

to negotiate.
It only has

to wait—
curled and tightly quiet

in every bleak and undusted
corner of your life

for luster
to fade,

for your resolve
to falter,

for the inevitable moment—
you start to ask yourself whether

you might
not rather—sacrifice time

in the name
of some space.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

TEMPORARILY EMBARRASSED MILLIONAIRE

Fine then—
keep your
goddamned

quarter,
man—I'm
not embarrassed

for having
previously-existed.
Fact is,

I've probably been
here so long,
I might've started

the whole world turning; I could
be the
Prime Mover!—I really

don't remember.
But don't you
dare call me

obscure, either,
Mister—I vastly prefer
undiscovered;

besides which,
all these
words are only

temporary anyway.
But kiss
my ass—I'm not

being vulgar;
my thoughts are far
from ugly, lonely,

or impoverished.
Nope, they're
more like:

bunches—
of still-
immature,

multi-
million
dollar

mother-
fucking
bonds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

FIRE US

Matchstick, matchstick—
one of
two dozen,

torn from your
bed—still
choosing to succor,

paraffin
wax and powdered-
glass-headed,

callously
struck—but
brilliantly bruising:

potassium
chlorate, red
phosphorus, sulfur!

Teach us—how you
sustain-
yet-relinquish;

help us!—we can't
keep this
madness

up—for
too much
longer either.

Monday, May 15, 2017

WHERE THE KNOWING IS NOT SATISFIED, A HUNGER FOR MORE QUESTIONS

It's Monday again,
so you think

and you chew
as slowly as possible

a new,
cartoon-
red apple

to help dissemble
your true

motivations awhile—those of
knowing,

in the sense of:
absorbing,

destroying,
reconstituting,
and exploiting

pure form and matter

at the causal behest of some
mysterious alleged

form of all forms,

and with the casual
grace of that

penultimate
tool of all tools, your spindly

spare hand,
with the dominant one,
meanwhile, off somewhere

googling
absent-mindedly—
for conciliatory

cat memes about Mondays.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I'M YOUR REASON

I like it here, and
I'm not leaving.

Inside, I'm just so
spacious and

complex and immaculate,
a great work of art

that hasn't been realized
yet—and you know it.

You know I'm pure
and formless matter—actually

nothing, but
potentially—everything.

Face it: all that
productive thinking

never created
anything, anyway. I mean,

poetry never
baked you a cake.

Then again—a pastry chef
never built any bridges, either.

Then again—no bridge
has ever required

any man or woman
to cross it.

But never mind, it
doesn't matter. I know

you think
you know

too much—and that soon
I'll come leaking out,

the way innocuous oxygen
rushes to fill an invisible vacuum.

Bet you never thought
your head could

get so full of
other people's ideas, did you?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

APOLLO: ATMOSPHERES AND SOUNDTRACKS

It's like—when you
wake and you

walk out the front door alone
and the

morning's all mudsilver,

silent
beads of dew on greenblue

hostas in the wet dirt

spring to mind
visions of

faraway planets

whose hot
remotest jungles

and freezing
cold untrammeled beaches

are airless, soundless vistas

where
you can't smoke cigarettes

and
music won't exist

and which
you'd practically have to be

dying—to visit.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

SONATA FOR A RECORDER

It's been
out now

for hours
in the clamoring wind

and
formidable rain—

bumbling,
sponge-wet,

wind-wracked, and
scraping against

the raw, fetid
basin-bottom

of its brain;
wondering—how!

aren't those scraggly
little lambasted

lilac flowers
as disconsolate?

Why? aren't those
spindly stalks

of tulips—more
afraid!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION

I met a nice guy once
or twice

in a mirror,
and each time, he

silently reminded me—
how we

can usually see
all kinds of things

a whole lot more easily
than we can ever

repeat them
back to anyone else listening.

It sounds funny, doesn't it?—
to cause a child,

to create 
a fire—

when neither one of those
was our invention.

Now, the only contraption
I can devise

to cleverly wheel myself
out of this alive

is this whirling, spitfire
torture rack sort of

thing—where words
are constantly

stretching
and shifting their meanings, but the

things in the world
keep on staying stubbornly,

stiffly,
exactly the same.

From there, it's a no-brainer
that I can never

successfully transform what's here
into what's

there anymore,
and it also

pretty neatly explains
how come,

even though
I might have used to think so,

an acorn—
in real life

never turns
into an actual,

physical—stalk of
that corn.

Monday, May 8, 2017

ORRERY

     We sacrifice the intellect to God. 
     -Ignatius Loyola 

Enlightenment,
secular
humanism, freedom

of religion—nothing.
Even now, I can feel
that gossamer,

itchy something
irritating—
the stubborn,

stiff, outer
corners
of my existence;

feel it
tugging
at the very end

just as I
still can sense
that it

did
at the
beginning—

feel it, even
as I'm speaking,
pulling me

awful tight
and thick
and uncomfortably

constricted—
here
in the middle.

Friday, May 5, 2017

THE UPWARD SPIRAL

Almost makes you feel 
sick now
to keep doing 

slightly elevated
versions
of the same old things

that used 
to excite you.

You get vertigo
and make some puny excuse
and have to leave the room

after grappling
with the exasperating 
sensation—of trying to keep

your eyes 
on the only thing inside
that's still, while 

all that cartoon
scenery around you
keeps moving.

You can now suppose—
with your eyes closed

that freedom 
isn't a thing

or even a place—
it's just

the most frictionless
motion you can make,

and that
chasing after
ideals—means

you'll always be
running

around in a circle—
but

it's still considered
progress

as long as
you find yourself

never running
into parallel
predicaments.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

DIALECTIC

Right about now—with
your hands numb
and mouth full

of triple
thick, quick-
melting coffee bean ice cream—

is when
you start to feel
not so great

about
all of those so-
called resolutions

you made
almost
half a year ago—

is when
your face
first flushes to realize

that you can't really
stomach
any more promises—

is when
you start to regret
having turned yourself

into a total
glutton
for punishment

instead of
becoming one
for permission.

Right about now,
hell feels
like combining

acute stressors
and old
coping mechanisms

and then
still wondering—

how come
I

won't calm down—
and can't

wake
up? at the same time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

DAWNING

It's possible—you're
someone
really special

without
even trying, without
even knowing.

It's possible—that
when
you're asleep,

your quivering, secreted
eyes just keep
seeing things;

that the faintest outlines
of webbed
veins and capillaries

threading throughout
your paper-
thin lids

might become
the same
giant super-clusters

which weave together
vast regions
of deep space—

and that, one day,
you'll get to see
your great-

great-great-
great
grandchildren

finally
coming to visit.
It's possible—

that this
little phenomenon
is quite common,

while simultaneously—
extremely far
from normal.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

STARVING IS THE ARTWORK

So I'm walking past a
vacant lot
and feeling

overgrown; feeling
wet and ravenous
for aesthetics—when

many sticky-
headed
robins,

who'd been
darting,
hideous and

obsessed
through the
wet grass,

all seem to pause
for a cold split
second to chortle out to me—

how cool it
can be!
just to feel

hungry.
But—necessarily,
we mean

cool
in the warm sense.
Cool: as-in

genuine. Cool:
as-in
sincere. As-in—can't you

see and
hear it? how rich
and productive?

How
ardent and pleasant
and satisfying it is—

just to watch us hunting
this canvas of
weeds and

black mud—
for those
fat,

for those
blind,
for those

slow
lazy
worms.

Monday, May 1, 2017

CHORUS FOR LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

I know
it takes
too long

for the
cool part
to come. I know

it feels scary
and protracted. But
trust me, some-

body's
got to
do it—because I think,

invariably, it's like:
each little voice,
(pretty but meek)

is sort of predestined
to meet and marry
and mimic

a specific partner—
and this melding
keeps happening

over and again
until eventually,
we no longer

know whether
the whole group
is singing

one guy's idea,
or whether
each person

just happens
to be singing the same
inevitable vocal line.

One thing's
for sure, though—
revolutions

are never personal.
There's no solo singers—
and they're never over

in under four
minutes (including
intros and outros).

These sorts of refrains
are less popular
than they are

outright contagious.
Outrage is cheap.
Breathing free is costly;

they're infectious—but
like poliovirus,
not like some

catchy-enough
cough of a
pop song.

Friday, April 28, 2017

TICKY-TACKY

Acceptance—is expensive.
Since it's tough to cultivate,

and even more difficult
to distribute—most people

can't afford it,
except maybe once

or twice a year. During
the holidays, maybe

they'll make a pilgrimage
to some

bleached and
tall suburban mall;

where they'll fight
for some precious, picked-over

bit of it—
which, half the time

gets smashed
to pieces

before they're done elbowing their
way out of that hell

and back home
to their own, more familiar version.

Resignation—however,
is cheap,

quick,
and everywhere. In every

neon heap
of a strip mall, next to every

groggy blue bus and
train station,

and on every
single street corner,

in every dismal
downtown neighborhood you

could imagine—seems like
there's always

some jumping little
hole in the wall going—where

that's all
they sell.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

CONSIDER

As far as we
know at this time, backwards

time-travel is still
prohibited.

The jewels 
in the crown

of your corner lot garden—
all those uncountable,

charitably pink-
white cherry blossoms—

when nettled and nagged 
by soft enduring rain

eventually 
will sigh and settle—

to clog your storm drains
and highlight every 

last little 
crack in your sidewalk.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SPECIAL CASE

At last—those holy city
parks and

gardens—
full of yellow
and orange,

full of pink,
red, and violet-
striped lollipop tulips—

are beginning
to shrug
and wilt

and lose
their neat,
laconic integrity.

What a sweet
and lazy relief

to see their humid
tiaras slip,

to watch them crumple
and rumple,
and melt—

and finally start
to look

just as guilty
as the rest of us.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

CHICKEN

On a spring day so
pleasant, it's downright
alarming,

my weird, distracted
thoughts fly away, and I'll pray
to god—please turn me

into a bird, make me
a slender and golden American
eagle;

not so I can fly far,
but so I can learn how
to stay here

on the lawn—milling around
when it's not
my default, quiet,

calm,
disarmed completely,
and gradually disappearing

into the innocuous,
egg-yellow
background.

Monday, April 24, 2017

VANISHING POINT

Sorry to say—compassion 
isn't a 
very big thing.

It's more like 
that precise and pointed 
jewel facet 

where kinship 
annihilates 
individuality. 

It's a blade, 
a weapon. It's knowing—

like a narrow spear of 
rain knows the river, 

like a pair of silver scissors 
knows white paper—

that right now, 
somebody out there 

needs more help
than they're 

willing to ask for—and yet, 
also owning the feeling 

that it could be, sometimes,
worse than this: 

sometimes there's a 
desperate little animal 

making its nest 
under the hood of your car,

and it needs 
more help 

that it knows 
exists. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

FLATTED FIFTH

There's nothing 
you could articulate  

that would 
make a good

defense. That's just it.
There's this

dissonance 
in you, 

and it 
really works in context.

Like a jazz chord—
but more 

primordial,
less 

complex, and easier 
to analyse

the quieter 
it gets—

it's that part of you 
who's silent

that seems to know
exactly what to do.

Which means—
when you talk 

you always 
come across

innocent
but blameworthy, too.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

50/50

If it seems
like your mind

must start racing
insanely fast

just to imagine
some peace,

I promise—
it's only trying

to keep pace
with your body

(which already feels the
very same idea

as a
resignation).

What,
did you think? those crickets—

which you can't see,
but suppose

must exist—
from the way

they keep
grinding their legs to pieces

in the grass over there—
are doing it

because they
feel like it?

You think
those trees

menacing the perimeter
of this field

are tall?
Nonsense. Trees

aren't tall. Trees—
are deep.

Monday, April 17, 2017

BODY POSITIVITY POEM FOR MOTHER EARTH

In the
all-hell,
busted wreck
of spring, she's such

a mess,
she's
such tough art,

she's like—
is this 
the end 

or is this
the start? 

But it's like—to us, the earth
is
some sagging

and bulbous
and fleshy
old lady

being pretty
outrageous,

scantily dressed,
all in our faces

and out-there
in public
in a way we don't like;

a little too real,
a little

raw for our taste,
a little

too confident
and honest
with herself

and everyone else
about

how
beautiful shit

and
actual,
literal shit—

never used
to be
separate.

We don't want to hear it,
but

right about now,
she must be thinking:

fuck it, if I cannot
get rid
of this privilege,

if I cannot give
all of this
away—then

I may
as well
use it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

NEW MOON

It's getting
so late—

and my brain's

such a dark
and a

dangerous neighborhood;

but I think
I must keep

forgetting the way on purpose—

to ensure
that I'll always

need company.