Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

THE REAL WIND

Sweeping
down from the frozen,
unreachable peaks

of some ancient, sibylline
range of mountains

to meander, invisible
and chill
the plains of the earth,

the true wind—
the real kind,

the perfect wind—
whispers;

but never in words,

much to the chagrin of
several philosophers,
but

mostly to
the tremendous relief
of the sinning multitudes

who don't mind
the thought of
being prayed for

but are desperate
not to imagine

ever
being prayed-
over.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO MAKE SUCH A POEM OUT OF EVERYTHING?

These pages always look like the blank stares
of vacant houses

waiting to be outfitted with furniture—
that expresses my taste

and my internal state, and just looks like
it's just always been there.

And I'm supposed to keep the impressive stuff
up front

where other people who come over
can see it.

But the truth is—some days, I'm sick of that.
The truth is,

I just want to sit around
on a mattress in my underwear.

The truth is—what I write
doesn't have to be fact

to feel comfortable or
be truthful.

In fact, I don't even want to sit around—
now I want to run

and meet you
standing on a snowy street corner

somewhere
in a similar but fictive universe.

So I write that down, and
Bam—there I am.

Boom—there's moody late afternoon
street lighting, there's music.

But then, even the paper and pen,
even the blinking computer

begin to feel constrictive
and expected.

So it's: quick—pick up that
hammer and thread,

go get a needle
and nails;

I'm off to make something stupid
and new.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

UNTAPPED

Sometimes, when I am alone,
when I'm cold and at my most quiet,

I feel the faintest undulating—

an inscrutable deep sea pressure
shivering through my chest cavity

and I realize—
there are these frequencies in me

so deep
they barely move—

but whose
momentum can never be stopped. They go

so slowly
and carry

such protracted information,

such distant
and enduring longing

that I just know—

you'll have to be standing pretty far away from me
one day

to truly understand it all.

Monday, November 13, 2017

WORDS ON A PAGE

Picture—
distilled artesian
room temperature water

in a smooth
and smudgeless
blue-rimmed vase

packed tight
with severed stems, with limpid
bloodless vampires.

This is pure poetry;
idealized,
sacrificed—in advance

on your behalf,
without your
having asked.

You can reckon, I guess,
but you just can't

argue with a present like that.
Do you still want it?

Friday, November 10, 2017

SIGNIFICANCE

It's not really that
you get what it is—

it's that you understand
what it was,

and you know it
when it's over with.

It's
pure space,

weightless,
soundless rhythms playing

as ripples
across

the surface of gray water;
fortunes

which nobody owns,
decadent processions

of white
and yellow light,

pageants
which admit,

which accept,
which possess

us—and not
the other way around.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

LONGING AS ECHO

One by
one, the oak leaves

faintly falling—
on sheets

of flat,
obdurate concrete—

sometimes, we have no choice.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

INVINCIBILITY POEM

Listen—even this
is a distraction; words,

like hailstones
disturbing the surface

of a deep and melancholy ocean.
It's only when

every sound, inside and out,
finally stops—that you can hear

the song of grace—
the source of the huge, cold waves,

the faintest music of
the planet smoothly turning—

its only lyric—
unsung, unheard, transmitted only

as a pattern of undulating insight—
an impassable question:

what is the real shape
of your face?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

VESTIGES

I might as well
tell you, I'm
a funereal flower.

I am beautiful—
and very proud
to be so

complicated on top,
oblivious
to having been

severed forever
from my simple,
mundane roots;

roots which were made,
in another place—
dark and wild as the permanent night,

fermented
from milder elements,
clean water, quiet starlight—

but also made
of something more
even less complicated—named mercy.

But over days
and many nights,
these particles drew together—

mercy hardened, deepened
in form and in color
into something meaner

which is no longer
useful—to me or to any beholder, yet it's
still there.

Monday, November 6, 2017

DAYLIGHT SAVING

On the street,
wan light beginning

to seep
through stained-
glass at evening vespers—

is enough
to de-confound the fogged
and profoundly
time-logged mind.

Where time unteathers, no longer
is measured,

all at once, cascading like water from a shower:
mounds of shimmering questions
linger,

remain unanswered;
and there, in the dark
and cornerless mind

of the newest
recruit of Quixote's—
the daylight fights proudly,

each old thought is new again, like
every single redundant moment,

heroically endeavoring
never to end.

Friday, November 3, 2017

INFERNO

Just now—all I crave is
muteness.  Or 
do I? 

Does it count 
still—as 
mute

if I spoil it 
by telling you? 
This must be hell.

To speak of silence, 
I emerge 
from silence—

but no, that's the right word 
for what I picture
when I hear it.

After all, the movement 
is not the problem; 
what I'm after 

is silence, 
not stillness. 
Things must still happen.

And for anything to have happened,
it must 
have happened to someone.

It's like how—even 
the god-damned
must still have one.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

CONTRIVANCES

Invisible wind
winding through the
old elm leaves—stirring dull memories

you seem to have
but never
have lived through:

you see eternity
meandering on on forever,
even though

you also recall
with certainty that
it all started somewhere—

you've felt the earth move,
crawl and writhe, but watched
the sun retreat and die

twelve or thirteen
thousand times.
By now,

absolute stillness
and perpetual motion
feel like same thing;

and fear, when turned inside-
out, becomes what you
call—wonder;

and confusion
always waits in the darkness,
at the center—not a black hole,

but a huge, heavy whetstone
which you use to sharpen
truth.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

TRIAL POEM

Neatly, I have been given
an entire

ocean to drink;
I've got

nothing to say,
but all I can do

is speak—but don't
go confusing

the lowly-
bowed head with

the naval gaze.
Yes, I think

poetry
is pretty great—

at confronting all the problems
it creates.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

WHITE KNIGHT SYNDROME

In this modern
day, things don't
fall apart, they

hang
together
mercilessly;

and gradually, ritual
becomes
the battleground.

Dead
and putrefactive words
on a sacrificial page

are now, each
day,
left out—bloody charity

for this demon,
this fierce,
infernal dragon—a serpent

whose alluring and
hypnotic, slithering name
isn't Duty, but

Consistency.
And every night he
crawls out,

and stretches
himself out
into this

ruthlessly straight and
infinitely
long line—which I,

in lieu of
railing against,
must go on

toeing—
just to pass
the time.

Monday, October 30, 2017

MERCURY FALLING

It's disappointing, you say, to see
religion decomposing

into mere art;
into words—into music.

And even music, you're afraid,
is decomposing

into math,
which nothing

but space
(and what is space? for that

matter—but coagulated
time?)

I'm sorry to say, but
your only hope is that

God might exist
in the walk I just took.

Pieces of him
might well be swimming,

in the tap water
I just drank from the jam jar.

Or, he might be sitting, sweaty with a
bed sheet over his head and cascading

down over his body,
and two holes where the eyes go

all alone in real-deal heaven—
his mischievous little imagination

tricking him into thinking
some friends are coming over.

Friday, October 27, 2017

JUST DESSERTS

What is the relationship
between suffering

and its causes?

Between the hanged man
with his stiff prick

and the angel of Death,
who has no dick?

God is
on stand-by—

just a trifling
convenience—

but justice
seems a little too snazzy

of a trick.

I think
the real link is—

as soon as you
claim to be

innocent, you're
not anymore.

And the sentence
may already exist,

(after all—our
days were numbered

to begin with)

but the prison's walls
are ours to realize.

Which restriction
will it be?—unconditional

love, or absolute
freedom.

But who
am I kidding? We can't even

answer
our mouths are so full

of chocolate
syrup—or wait, is that

blood?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

SWEET TALK

Periodically, I like to stand aghast
at the prodigious depths
of my own

shallowness—
gaping
up at the height

of sky,
which ripples—like a kite
with the wind of all

our
collective longing—
to realize

that it's
much closer by
than I often surmise;

and that
mine
is such a cold sort of compassion.

For the lean fact is—
sharp teeth
just want to bite things,

and nothing they find
can ever be foreign
or bitter;

because there's
only thing
that's really off-putting,

only one thing
that's truly
alien—

and that's
the idea—
of true meaning.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

AIN'T AFRAID OF NO GHOSTS

If it were really
so easy, don't you think

a child could
annihilate
every last trace

of their tormented woe—and
supernatural angst

with a single,
unhaunted
look on its face—

decontaminating
the whole place,

not with a ray gun,
but with a simple,
piteous gaze?

You wouldn't need
to call the police

or one of those
crackpot ghost hunters
to come racing out

to haphazardly abolish
the calamities
of the goddamned

and reinstate
a clean iteration of the landscape.

But as it stands,
it's not as straightforward—or as
cinematic as that.

There are rules.
For instance:

1) nothing
which didn't happen
can ever happen

genuinely again. And—
2) no one can

make an everlasting decision
alone. It's only
all of those now living

together—who can
do that; and

more importantly,
2A) it's actually
all of us

now living
together—who have to.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

NO SITUATIONS BUT IN FEELINGS

For example,
I don't even need
to leave.

All I need is to describe the
leaving—
and seeing

the way
lead light is cast
down from any old streetlamp,

flaying
my evening
shadow
into several pieces

on the damp, cold, gritty
concrete as I
pass under-
neath

to understand—I must not be
the one

who reflects back
on any of that

when he's safe
and warm at home.

Monday, October 23, 2017

PARABOLIC

At the end
of the line, there aren't any lines.

at the edge of every 
demarcation on the graph, 

such a delineation 
does not exist 

and the once obdurate
frontier, as if curdled by fear 
of its own fixity 

will curve back 
on itself, like looking for comfort 
in some less ostentatious past

like the tail of some 
'fraidy cat.

Returning 
from your journey—you too, 
will likely find

there never was 
any such trip;

your life has not been 
some straightforward expedition, 
and it's not because

you didn't arrive anywhere 
(no one does that)—

but because
the very first step
mattered

so much more 
than every other step 
which proceeded it—that is, 

each step 
took you farther than the next—

and in turn, 
even that very first step
was always 

fated to be
much less significant 
to the picture

than 
the stopping.

Friday, October 20, 2017

WE HAVE LIFT OFF

Rust and rot, scum-
puddles and birdshit—

these things
never seem redundant. It's only

your humanity
that gets boring.

Whenever you
have no idea what to do—

move out
into a bustling street and

spread your wings
when that special,

end-of-the-day breeze is blowing,
and feel—

nothing happening
(as usual)

and just try to hang on
to the feeling

of not disliking yourself for it
anymore.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

SELF-HELP

Tense and fiercely
ignorant once,

and small—
like a miserable little koan

packed tight
in its obstinate hard shell;

eventually
I opened up

so much—I was like
a haiku

in reverse;
found myself getting

dumber—
blathering,

trying
to fill space.

Wondering—which was
the sliver

that was
worth something?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CHANGES

Treasury mounds—
dry fortunes of wood
chips and oak leaves
and cinders,

over which the drowsy worker
bees meander
and the hungry gray
squirrel scurries—

lie spread beneath
the palace of
the queenly robin
surveying her autumn province,

unhurried, perched on
a bony throne of
limbs—a sturdy,
open hand to hold her;

a sticky bare head, her majestic
crown—the trilling entirety of westerly
wind: now a royal
byzantium-colored cloak.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

EPITAPH AS EPIGRAM

I may have been
born
not paying attention,

but I've since
learned my lesson—and so, now

I vow to
die listening,

even if it's
to the wrong thing.

Poor old fucker,
my future
grandkids'll mumble, turning to go—

at his age,
should have known better:

RAWR
is not
what a tiger says;

RAWR—is just
what it
sounds like.

Monday, October 16, 2017

CREATIVITY'S GRAVEYARD

Stuck here, and still
you're fierce-
ly clinging to the
first idea—

I mean: the last
day idea—

by the skin
of your ugly, yellow,
tombstone-marble-shaped...
List, list, O, list!

lost, lost, so lost
in this Walt Disney stick
figure cemetery—crossbones
like the crossroads

betraying the crooked
way you grew up;

now, that old intersection
of creation and annihilation
is gridlocked for good reason.

the conjunction
which joins
and polices them

is no longer OR

(OR has gone
rotten, withered
away now, melted and sunk
into the silty sand—what
a nightmare!)

but AND.

ANDas in:
fact AND fiction;

make AND break.

So that's
how this works. Damn,
if only

you knew
that sooner, you could've

been gentler
to—and also, certainly would've

saved—all
your baby teeth.

Friday, October 13, 2017

ANTIPHON

With a creaky organ wheeze
these evenings—those old
buildings go
sighing

out though their stained
glass noses—
hoping to be inhaled
and infect the ones

walking past—
who certainly feel glum
as rusticated
brick in late afternoon sun,

who won't seem
to wake up,
but who refuse
to go back to sleep either.

But it's useless; mere sight
is anathema
when their mouths
remain shut

and their noses
and ears
are plugged up, have
grown used

to being forewarned
or soothed
by Nick Drake or
Daniel Johnston

instead
of Martin Luther.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A LITTLE SELF-FLAGELLATION MUSIC

Evening is falling
messy and in-
distinctly throughout

the universe
now,

and according-
ly, Enie Kleine Nachtmusik 
is playing—

tiny floating membranes
and vibrating strings, all
twinkling

imperceptibly, all
transitioning
hastily

from Allegro
to Andante—but

not me.
I refuse
to move

that way.
I am not so rude
as the instruments

which, day
to day, comprise me—

I am so patient
they call me
Doctor Adagio—

that's how slow-
and pre-
cisely

I choose
to do—
everything.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SQUIRREL

Post-rain October afternoon—
filled to bursting
with sharp green-
golden leaves and shimmering water,

you are so great and benign
to let him
dare try—to perforate
and prick

and drain you
wrinkled and dry—to steal away

your rusty treasures and
sweetest elixirs

for that dim dearth
of winter, when his throat
is parched,

and his
imagination dehydrated—and his little wife
and kids are starving.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

CATCH AND RELEASE POEM

Exhilarating to hold
so momentarily
close on a string, beautiful

yet unfeeling—
another gleaming,
streamlined, well-muscled

teardrop configuration
of dovetailing scales goes
limp—inevitably slipping, quick

and slimy, through your under-
apprenticed fingers—and at once
is instinctually swimming mechanically

out toward imagination's deep and
freezing sea. But
it still appears just as legitimate

and perfect and precise
when you see it become
a sharp speck, a miniature part

of the grand and silent
bluesilver painting known as
Seascape w/ Horizon

as it did when you
first held it up
and counted, savoring

all its uncannily self-
similar parts. And sure,
it probably would've been

more nourishing
to cook and consume every
morsel, but—still, ad-

mittedly, is aw-
fully wholesome—just to look at, crude
and in the distance.

Monday, October 9, 2017

NO MATTER WHAT

Whenever opportunity knocks, it's
complexity who enters;

inertia who seizes, and it's me
who never fails

to wonder—
whether real immunity (the kind

of liberty worth persuing) follows
from a life which is really

one long and unfailingly arrow-
straight hall—made

of white
enamel-painted brick, with

not a single curve
or junction—and with

absolutely no windows, doors or
access vents?

Whether complete freedom,
however counterfactually,

necessitates a perfect
prison—pure exemption

from decision? Whether I prefer
complete immersion

in a perfectly incontrovertible space,
where only the actual is possible?

Or—if what I really crave
are the built-in excuses,

if what I really need
is a little more room

to wobble? An escape hatch
behind a loose

brick in the wall,
a secret trap

door in the floor?—and further,
whether

the very circuitous truth
of my wondering

hasn't, in fact, already
dissolved the whole problem.

Friday, October 6, 2017

SPECTRA

Sometimes, the notes all
the big guys
play are too high,

and I feel as though I
can never hope
to hear them;

but there are others—which
I'm also not professional
enough to hear, but

which sound so low
that only the littlest hairs on my
body must feel them.

So what—if
I'm not large,
I contain no multitudes?

If I don't dare
disturb the universe
because the future is determined?

If I don't feel all that
insignificant, either
at the train

station, or
beside the white chickens,
or wherever.

I don't care. I swear
I never thought—love
would last forever.

I'm stubbornly stuck
in the middle
of every endless spectrum.

When I die, I'm sure I
I won't fly
up, but—

if I'm
lucky—into
some other people.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

IDEAL MACHINE

This is it. The privilege
which lurks in the
margins of blind formality,

the slavish, but the easy
habits of morning—

yanking tight the same
manila
shoe laces, walking the dog

and picking
up the shit, smoking charily
by rented open windows,

boiling water
for more tea and the
eggs about to expire, and small-

talking your
way through the big proposal—introducing:
the next big thing.

This is life's
perfect, incognizant
self-writing poem;

blurred on the surface
and superficially metaphoric,

but, over time
and underneath, really
quite specific—

less like a rainbow, and more like
all its composite
rain drops.

Less like a momentary
spike
in adrenaline, and more like

the inane itch
of some days-old fury slowly
scabbing over.

This is the freest kind
of mechanism
you can hope for:

handcuffed by so much
repetition,

but turned-
on—by all the patterns.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

POLLYANNA

Due to circumstances beyond our control,
we never truly
believe

what we're told.
Have we all been
putting on a decent performance,

or just being performed?
Does the answer
to whether we're somebody's

expensive,
walnut-
carved marionettes

or a kid's simple handpuppets
made of old
knee socks

solely depend—
on whether
you'd rather

be pushed
or pulled
into admitting?—that

even if
all the lines have been scripted,
it's still up to us

with how much
aplomb—
we'll perform them.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

ELBOW ROOM

I choose
to believe,

for every hard problem,

there exists
a soft answer—

a balm, a sleeve
to salve
this raw funnybone,

my own
small brittle locus
of universe.

Every now
and again, I like to kick

my own ass, so that no one else
has to—

nap
with my clothes on,

so that it doesn't count
as napping—

insist
on a few

things, even though
I don't know how to;

like:

One—no value is intrinsic.

Two—any cage I feel fine in
is not a prison.

Two,
two and a half,

two and three
quarters—all our goodbyes are,

in an increasingly
finer and

finer
sense—gradual.

Monday, October 2, 2017

VIEW FULL POEMS FREE ONLINE

Some truths feel valuable 
even though 

they're trivial;
others, we're compelled 

to communicate 
even though they're unhelpful. 

To write—there are no words
 somehow feels, 

to these 
impossibly well-organized  

Turing machine-souls,
like both.

It's a perfect poem, and
a full-proof

device. It tends to work 
its rational Good

by nature 
of it's own outlandish falsehood. Or,

when it doesn't work—even better; 
that just means

it's working—
perfectly. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

CRISS CROSS APPLE SAUCE

Rhythm is
the gist of it—I'm growing

up, and growing old, and
dying every minute.

In my pursuit
of freedom,

I am like an autumn apple falling—

to lush grass
in the cool evening:

with a blush, I will
ripen to my own destruction—

toward a gravitational certainty
which takes root and blossoms

into repetition,
reinforcement, and insulation—finally

toward abstraction. Until
I am no longer

like an autumn
apple falling;

now I am more like
the pattern

of an autumn apple falling—

repetition after repetition
leaving me soft and mealy,

leading, inevitably,
to falling

again in silly,
desperate love with

the routine—

by which
my point of view gets (hopefully)

smeared-out all over the
place—without me.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

ODE, SORT OF

Whenever there are places
to be, when there's traffic,
when the car

needs gas—
I hope
you still notice,

safely ensconced
deep in the strip
of decorative boxwood

which flanks greasy street curb—
the assertive old
starling,

with a distantly recognizable
version of
the milky way galaxy

swirling
across her iridescent,
midnight back—who keeps

assuredly cheeping;
not like
she's trying to

remind you
of anything—like she's
trying to get you to remember

something
sweetly indistinct
about your own future—lyrics

to a tune
that you haven't started
humming yet.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

INCORRUPTIBLE ACTUALITY

These measly fractions of
of our lives—
the crumbs
we horde, shivering

and the theoretical
models of its atoms
which we each
have to sketch

in order
to believe in
and remember—

they're such a small
part of it;
it's like we're all

staring—long and hard
at the world's
most precise

and sincere
and dazzlingly
beautiful mural,

one-eyed,
through a skinny
corroded length of pipe,

to witness
one simple,
unsentimental
tile at a time.

This big picture—
if we could see it
mounted there,

against
the far wall
made of pure
white lightspeed—is titled:

The Future is Only the Past Remembered

and the docent's little inscription
beside it
probably reads
something like:

The idea here—was never 
to win the war.
It was always, only, and ever 
to stop it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

SMALL SIGHS MATTER

Dear passanger—it's never
the huge stuff
that makes

or breaks-up
and maneuvers the future;

never the big breaths,
that contract the land and
push the oceans,

that ruffle
or flatter the world's flags.

It's always the small ones—
the indissoluble:

the quiet sighs,
the delicate whispers—

the invisible stirring of
cool blue wind;

it's always
the intangible,

vague,
and unobservable
streaming of elementary particles

which, over time,
exert pressure—which ripple

and grow
and sweep and compound
to change

the flow
of the ever-
cascading universe.

No form,
no semblance
of formal

organizations;
only the ripples

themselves:
the movement
alone

dictates
the pattern.

There were never
and won't ever be any

things.
There is only
and always—agitation.

Things
don't matter—it's just you

(and millions of
billions of others
just like you)

who's out there—
imbuing alterations

with which-
ever emblems
you choose.

Monday, September 25, 2017

SENTIENCE DREAM OF THE PRIME NUMBER SERIES

At the end of the universe,
there sits

a huge mountain—
quiescent,

impassible,
made

of pure time;
it cannot be climbed.

But luckily, you,
though savagely beautiful,

are not corporeal. You
are no agent;

you certainly
know nothing

of the terrestrial, and your goals
are not so provincial.

You (alone, perhaps)
are perfect-

ly imperturbable;
you are

the
limitless truth—

manifesting
itself as

a brilliantly silvery
rippling butterfly.

And you travel
to infinity

to visit its high,
inconceivable peaks

spectacularly
regularly, simply

to polish
and sharpen the tips

of your
wings on them.

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
any majestic old hawks

ever fall
asleep at night

and dream
of deelevating down here

to earth, walking and
shoving into some overly

warm little car
with a shirt

and tie on—and, very slowly,
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.