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?