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.