Friday, March 29, 2019

WALKING ON THE ROOF OF HELL

If the wretched old parishioner
perpetually glued
to the front pew of your childhood
church told the truth, then you're
walking the dog, pushing
the stroller, jogging around now
and again after work, if you're
lucky—all on the vast rooftop
of the devil's terrible castle.
No wonder, then
you've so often
found yourself bemused
by the air's peculiar
coolness in the morning,
the fecund smell of earth
after rain, the sight of
fresh tulips each spring,
each of them nodding
eagerly as you pass by
again with your daughter
as if to say—we're all part 
of the same thing,
their doomed bulbs aspiring
as ever, toward heaven.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

GROSS

On the sidewalk, while the
coffee kicks in, I'm watching
this sticky-headed robin as he

plucks up and gulps
an whole translucent earthworm
from that post-rain muck

of mulch at the curbside—
and all I itch to do in that moment
is pull out a smartphone

and videotape the situation. I guess
to some juvenile part of me, this act
seems worth preserving;

maybe it makes the little kid inside
me think of dinosaurs, and he's
thrilled and afraid

of his own extinction,
of the roller-coaster thrust
of evolution,

of the drive to achieve
this same kinds of radical
and disgusting satisfaction—

after all, here I am, out here
sketching poems for breakfast;
I have work to do later,

issues to discuss, perimeters
to consider. To him, none of those
matter. He owns

his nakedness and is proud
to wear his predatory hunger.
Or maybe it's because, unlike me, he

was born from an egg
that this marauder doesn't even care
what his own mother might say.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

FINAL WORD

In spite
of everything—

clear skies
tonight: copacetic

moonlight.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

LE MOT JUSTE

Sometimes, I wish I was brave
as these crocus buds not yet waving,
for whom silence is eternity
and everything began yesterday;

instead, I cling to a stubborn faith
in an ancient language
which still can't convey
the religiousness of plain light.

But then, I don't know, I want to say,
somehow, maybe—
a decision you can't make
is one that's already been decided—

like the way the fragile skies
and ladies in gray keep weeping
and weeping each spring, but Jesus
keeps getting crucified anyway.

Monday, March 25, 2019

LAST YEAR'S TREES

Last year's trees—do not come back here
without the intensest kind of hunger,
without their old fear of an everlasting
night, without fully expecting

to lose all of their proud currency
and to stand there again eventually
as blind and petrified monuments
to poverty. And so—neither do we

leave without completely losing
control of every appetite,
without forgetting the smooth feel
of the seeds of our anger, without

laying down those heavy
strapped purses and bulging back
pocket wallets which we use
to conceal and carry the calcified

marginalia of our sorrow—and
somehow, without fully expecting
never ourselves to become the neat plots
of land which will re-feed them next year.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

GPS

Saturday nights in the city,
we catch one another
glancing up

at the glossy wrought iron
black gate of sky,
pretending not to be

hunting for stars—as if
privately trying,
by the vague light of their ailing halos,

to discover some sliver, a half-
buried arrowhead, one milky brittle
fossil of fingernail signaling

those directions we all forgot
together—five, ten, maybe twenty
million years ago.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

ON THE CUSP

Still bare Chicago
sweet-
gums quiver

and reach
to thrust
their talons into

tender blueskies
huge
and thrumming

with
Boeing
747s.

Friday, March 22, 2019

LATELY

these morning walks
are getting dangerous—there, I said it.
There is so much
fierce wind up here

on the high wire of the mind! And I
admit, I am far more eager
than graceful—god knows things
are always a little

less pretty than they appear from
ground-level. But the
truth is, it's still
a perfect miracle—I continue to move

like some
parasitic amoeba would: with my
entire body, one fly-by-night pseudo-
pod at a time.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA

I had a dream. I met
my great great grandfather
on a dismal New England shore.
He was a whaler—

a grim dogged hunter
of grotesque blubber. But now
he'd grown
half-blind and old,

and his industry was dying.
I could see holes
in his gloves, and in between
his teeth as he spoke—

it's so cold, and so dirty
and dark where I'm living;
I only wanted to make soap
and sell my fine candles, he told me.

I tried to console him—
don't loose hope.
It came out—don't give up
control.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

ENERGY CONSERVATION MODEL

Speak, if you
can speak

to the voiceless dog
those vast
tongueless forests—of

human nature
as it is;

or else
keep silent
and just do your best

to imagine it
as it was.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

MESSAGE TO KATE FROM LUCY

i am fine
never knowing
where you go
when you go
only that you do
not go
away for good

just like you
are fine too
once i come
since you knew
when i came
i came to stay
that way too

Monday, March 18, 2019

MOTION CARRIED

Hands plunged
deep in the silver kitchen
sink again, cold

water touches them
and flows, and I think,
or really, don't—

this is all completely
made of holes;

weekends,
subsisting by kind permission
of a temporary
dearth of original ideas—most

weekdays, nesting
in those empty spaces
in the middle of certain vowels
where a certain wind blows

nothing but the chunk
of wind that had just a moment ago
come blowing,

nothing but its own
hollow cartoon
sound of wind-blowing,

nothing but—every suspicion
of its own lack of essence
out of existence.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

INDECIPHERABLE CAUSE

What in this world
have I ever truly loved?
A sunrise
Sunday morning
pancake
batter smell
the plagal
cadence of folk
mass songs
or the lone
crow's call? So
I've heard—the blackbird 
is involved 
in what I know,
but I don't
have the smallest
snowball's
chance in
hell of knowing—what she believes
at all.

Friday, March 15, 2019

KING OF THE CASTLE

There's a storm in the forecast.
There are ideas, and then
there are things. My sadness says—
I am not concerned; I am contented 
looking at old postcard photographs 
of lilacs on Mackinac Island. 

There's a storm on the way.
The windowpane is foggy and quivering
like a kid's lower lip. My lack of belief
regards the horizon and
states flatly—I am not mad, I am
simply unwilling to talk about it.

There's a storm raging outside.
Buckets of rain gush down.
My incredulity is staring
out the window, slack-jawed
at this spontaneous abandon
of prudence and caution.

After a while, my confusion
finally asserts itself
and professes its
now-incontestable feeling
that better place 
than this—must exist.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

LATE-BLOOMING GALAXY

Scientists say—
the middle of something

can't really be measured;
the heart of a process

has a process at its heart,
and you can always

keep zooming in, perpetually
chop it apart

and find smaller pieces.
Which is why,

instead of declaring,
I've always been fine

with just guessing—
that the farther

and farther
out I'd go spinning,

the more dependent I'd grow
on that tiny grain of sand

which lent the pearl
its mystery, that invisible

talisman of confidence
which doesn't exist,

that hole between the lips
of an old first kiss:

my exact center
of mass—

wherever it was
or is.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

DREAM OF AN AFTERNOON

That lakeside park smell—
of jogger sweat
and hot dogs sailing

mildly on the mossy air;
we stop for lunch—
or maybe

just umbrella
stand tea somewhere
verdant in between

the strange alabaster of
pillared museums.
For a beat or two,

we each stop talking,
having balanced
our hollow bodies

so precisely on that
inadequate sliver
of sunbeam straddling

our over-examined
past—and
insensible future.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

COFFEE BREAK

Nothing like
a halfway
decent cup of coffee—
black as the midday
sky is cerulean,
with steam arabesque-ing its
ladders to heaven
above the attendant
and mortally-
still kitchen table—
to make you feel
that you might
somehow, someday,
in another kitchen
far away—
with strange new photographs
adorning its walls
which are
all painted completely
different colors than
these are—
still fall in love
with the life
you have left.

Monday, March 11, 2019

PROBLEM IS

The problem is I love you
with that hunk of me which is
unfinished,

that perfect romantic steak dinner
which is perpetually
still cooking,

with a will that is always
changing and never
was mine to begin with

and lives high up
in the master bedroom of a
dwelling place that is temporary,

a shit apartment, adequate for
a scrawny underfed spirit,
a small body that doesn't physically exist;

no limbs, no tongue
with which to speak
or lick, to taste the dream of air

that floats between the words we say
and those we no longer
say to each other—and

this thing, this stinted love,
this phantom child of us,
I can only guess

must be: so holy, so miraculous
that it still exists, even though it was
never born—at least not yet.

Friday, March 8, 2019

MARCH POEM FROM A HUNDRED YEARS AGO

The city park was finally electrified;
the temperatures had been rising

since early in the morning.
At two, the clouds finally yawned

wide open, allowing fresh sunlight
to come sliding down along

last night's imperious snowdrifts; its
mellow glint, gently blotting out

all of our sharp-cornered thinking.
Everywhere we looked, we saw

nothing—but the bewildering
dignity of very real things.

Every time we paused
to think back, we could recall only

the sound—of laughing
invisible children.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

GENERALLY SPEAKING

Generally speaking,
we are all
the same—whole pieces
who like fitting tight

in those dark parts
of the universe—the ones we've seen
in NASA pictures, in between
the superclusters;

we seem to enjoy
not being seen, while we gaze out
at all the other stars, which seem so
much better than ours;

and we don't mind
feeling helpless—though we do dislike
how awkward
being helpless feels.

But more than anything,
we just love
not talking about it. It's true—once
we were wounded,

but now we don't want
to be healed; all we want is: not to be
wounded in that
exact same place again...eventually.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

TO THE DOGS

Though grateful
to share a scrap of day
or night together,

I wish
I could go where it is
you go after—

mind lying
wide open and redolent
as a shaggy field at high noon;

body parked and idle,
agreeable as
a wood-paneled station wagon

parked in a vacant
lot by the ocean;
mouth hanging so

cleanly open, unpolluted
by words. Sometimes, I call you
but you don't call yourself anything.

Some days I don't call myself
anything either—at least
not anymore.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

MARGIN OF ERROR

It's true what they
say, you know—

all roads
lead to Rome—

which, by
the way, is scheduled—

with every bit
as alluring a mix

of exactitude
and casualness—

to burn
and crack-

up, and hemorrhage
and collapse—

at some
pathetic moment

during
your visit.

Monday, March 4, 2019

ALMOST SPRING POEM

Off the back
porch red railing, a
chip-toothed piano

keyboard of
old icicles dangling

unseen—except
by the sparrows; those
little bits

of lyrical
language about suffering—

thankfully
proclaiming: very little
outside

of their context.
Those things

which help us
suffer less—
we'll eventually have

to stop
abusing them too.

Friday, March 1, 2019

PARLEY

Whenever we sit
together, touching or not
touching, I don't ever wish
to be any wiser
or dumber than I am at that
particular moment—

right, but maybe
wrong; thinking, but then, not
thinking; breathing, or else
waiting for our
next turn to breathe;

we together
animate the spirit—of some
third and
immaculate person,

a perfectly faithful and
loving companion, who wants not,
who alone is capable of wearing
our invisible ring,

and who, finally, is fed and nourished
by every dynamic rhythm
of our being perpetually
a little out of sync—

and to think: all of this hocus-pocus
without the need for any
magic words or provisos or
vestigial ribs.