Saturday, August 31, 2019

HERE'S WHERE THE POEM COMES IN

It's probably
true, the soul
likes its strictness—yes,

it actually desires
its tightness
and its rigor.

it longs to be stiff,
wants to stick
to the classics—it insists

on complete
silence in the library,
on reading (by candlelight)

canonical literature
mistrustfully and critically,
on going straight

to the Sanskrit
or ramming Derrida hard-
as-it-can at Saussure.

However—the soul
is also smooth,
completely

edgeless,
and invisible. As such,
it must also crave

to be mistaken,
to feel stupid—and often
misrepresented;

to get taken
for the proverbial
ride and even get

called a little son
of a bitch, now and then,
by courtroom men in

tailored suits or brimstone-
eyed priests
in identical robes.

It has no mother, either,
so it must be used to
being overlooked

by heroic
women in white
coats or blue uniforms

who routinely check
the body, not for a soul
at all, but just

for a pulse,
for a heartbeat,
for a certain rhythm

that resembles—
which perfectly
rigid military

march, what turgid
German symphonic
masterpiece, exactly?

Friday, August 30, 2019

ABSTRACT EXPRESSION

The thing about living
on planet Earth is

the Sun
always seeming
from this perspective, to rise

of its own volition—
each morning
glory petal uncurling

the same way its
light arcs and turns dreamy

through the green glass
which is strewn
around everywhere:

Rolling Rock, maybe
San Pellegrino—

domesticated German, wild
Latinate words combining,

disposable shells
of desperation
and sensibility,

all these trivial
husks of hard money—

all divorced, but
each kissed into glimmering
in the same decisive way;

coerced to cohere—
to mingle
in this loamy alley

like Rothkos
in their gallery.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

DREADING COMPANY

Don't worry—the little awkward
silences you encounter
are nothing at all

like the cracks
in a load-bearing wall.

And—though they thread
and filament through the fabric
of your prefab interactions
and artless attempts at cooperation,

conspicuous as the spider
veins on the legs of your grandmother

or the capillaries
inside your eyes every night
when you stare for too long
at the bathroom mirror—these pauses

are not empty gaps.
Hesitation

is much sturdier, much
stronger than that.

Think of the rebar
under miles of concrete
keeping the road you must one day take

to the hospital from falling
into complete disrepair;
think of the mortar

which holds tight to the bricks
of all the mausoleums out there
built to contain the remains

of each bygone day—
which, like it
or not, we are tirelessly building,

every minute,
every second—stone

by inane little stone—whether we're
doing it alone
or together.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

LOST HAIKU CONTEST


Strange feeling to get—

a certain image: not shit

like certain feelings.



Image result for lost

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

THE SAFETY'S ON OL' BETSY

Ghostly-paler nights, closer-
and closer-away disasters—

this is no Disney park;
no handholds, no boardwalk of nations,

no lanterns—visible stars, like
lights in the harbor. Far too dangerous

to be seen, to get caught
thinking—let alone to just imagine

the thought
as: only the post-conscious representation 

of a prior neural-chemical action 
over which we as agents had 

no control. 
We had no idea.

Why would we
listen—why lay down our arms

with intent
to become weapons instead?

Why come, increasingly, with user
instructions and warnings, why bother

to refashion ourselves next time
thinner, lighter, smaller?

Why no longer try to conceal ourselves
in order to carry

one another across certainty's borders?
Ghostlier and ghostlier,

smoother and smoother—over time
we might come to trust ourselves

not as guns, but as their
hair triggers—if we are moved to act,

it is because we got bumped, not
squeezed by an omnipotent finger.

Monday, August 26, 2019

THE ABSENCE OF THE IMAGINATION

          The absence of the imagination had
          itself to be imagined.
                —Wallace Stevens, "The Plain
                     Sense of Things"

Make it new,
make it plain,
make it sing, no ideas

but in things—now
who am I?
And how is it right to talk

in a future
where I'm
seeing digital pictures

of those things
instead of originals?

Like, just this morning—
the towering
figure of a guy

so prim in his black
and white suit and tie,

so shy—so 1945 New-
England-buttoned-down, he'd likely
never have said fuck at all

the way I do so
casually today,
whether out in public

or mired like this,
in a much plainer poem
(sketched, by the way,

in pajamas on a smartphone)
about far less plain things—
such as my own disillusionment

with images. Or else, the way
I've taken all these
pictures for granted.

I've never really known
the full weight
of physical media,

felt the fineness of excess
or correctness of old
catastrophes—

let alone
straightened my dour tie and
proceeded to imagine, somehow

much more wildly
impossible things:

the bronzed edges of space
where golden birds sing
their wordless songs

of thought, perched firmly
on a palm

of a hand
which might be mine,
or might be

the frond of a tree
still growing, even now—
still blowing

in the same slow wind
at the end of the mind.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

JUST A SECOND, ALL THE TIME

Clean rows
of colorless cemetery
stones, hard-edged

at the end of the day, stabbing
all their shadows
uniformly eastward—

already stark
nighttime
in that part of the world;

somewhere beyond
that—already tomorrow. Pinks again,
oranges, yellows; a light

breakfast
tasting just thoughtlessly
alright to someone.

First, grace: a life
never seems neat until it's
bound and finished.

Then, mercy:
the reassuring smell
of wet grass dissipates

once you round the bend
and realize—you don't have
time for this.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

REVELATION

This is a collection of verses
scrawled to your self in the future
by homeless men—

a few sprawled on benches,
one or two in smart nooks
between tree trunks—

all strewn across the park
in the late
August dawn.

It was first sounded out on the breeze;
it whispers of adversaries,
wails of the sort

of contention which
the conspicuous
absence of women portends—

it warns you:
every morning (so far) is similar,
but it could have been very different;

it ruins the old lines,
stale soup queues now not even
worth standing in;

it trumpets: the gold rush is over
on compassion, there's a run
on cooperation. The foliage ringing

on the outskirts is still
green, but it knows:
presently

all is nourished, is kissed
by vague sun—but
by and by, every island paradise

in the city will be fumigated,
then cleansed—if not by a flood
of rain water, then

by the bitter
certain cruelty of the coming
season's wind.

Friday, August 23, 2019

AN IMPRESSION

This morning:
the early clouds—soft
gauze

swathing last night's
dreams, still-raw—
steered

harmlessly now,
out past
the veil

of existence
by cool pulses of wind—
an impression

of
sky moving
outward forever;

a suspicion
of never
having been

more certain
about blue—less sure
of the word for it.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

THE IMMORTAL MADE SIMPLE

Try this—
place a good little
gift shop bouquet

of red local
flowers on the table
near the window

in their
hospital room at
the right time of day—

then watch
for a minute (though they
aren't awake)

the auroras cascade:
the amaranthine import
of Art itself

flooding in
to drench the tedious
and inconsequential,

the antiseptic gray
space in which Commonplace
necessarily exists—

and then come
home and tell me
you still don't know

what forever
is, or today
was for.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

OBSERVANCE

From that first catastrophe of dawn,
the liturgies of sun, of wind, or
of rain; the driving, idling bit
by bit in this or that room, consuming
sacraments until they're gone—

to the inevitable slouching,
the slow bowing-down and the
penitent crawl toward reconciliation
with twilight and night as they play

out on television—no one we would
shudder to recognize as formerly living
ever comes. The miracle: there never was
a minute of perfect blameless silence
all day long. Not even one.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

WITHERING

       Though leaves are many, the root is one;
       Through all the lying days of my youth
       I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
       Now I may wither into the truth.
              -W.B. Yeats, "The Coming Of 
               Wisdom With Time"


How many drafts 
does it take 
for a wild poem to atrophy
into its spare and abiding truth? 

How many 
barely differing iterations 
for its flashy lines to stiffen 
and darken, 

for its wettest words to dry, its dazzling 
images to soften 
into such well-defined textures 
and restrained colors 

that any artistically-inclined 
eye in the future 
could easily reproduce them, as if 
painting by-numbers? 

How many nights 
to name 
the full moon titanium- 
or maybe dove-white 

such that, 
in the mind of a person 
whom I don't even know 
that I love yet, it never wanes; 

or to define the morning 
light which streams 
through my window simply
as yellow ochre—

and, perfectly satisfied 
with the very certain kind of longing 
I've conveyed, just turn away
and leave it at that? 

Monday, August 19, 2019

FRUITION

That almost cloying sweetness
of summer—
all the blossoms
spinning spare sugar
out of the extra hours of light,

the blue lusciousness
of water and the
candied stripes of tree shade,

our skin, and the skins of our
daughters and sons, like peaches
and nectarines blushing
pleasantly darker with
the slow simmer of each passing day—

these things make it possible
not to endure, but to ignore—
or obfuscate for a little longer—
to mask the bitter tang of death which
always smolders in the background.

Idle afternoons induce in us daydreams
not of stingy bees' stingers
but their generous amber
honey soothing
the backs of our ticklish throats;

we forget
how true it is,
and how telling

that whichever holy specimen
of fruit we are handed—
however ripe and juicy, bewilderingly
redolent, immeasurably round—

the most perfect thing
we can think to do
is bite into it;

to destroy that integrity,
to take every fraction of its cool
sweet perfection, reduce it, and
lock it away deep inside—

as if somehow, we could force
even the smallest truth
to be ours and
ours alone.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

THE THING WITH FEATHERS

          "Hope" is the thing with feathers—
          That perches in the soul—
                    —Emily Dickinson

So, wait—but which
particular bird
was Hope, again? The dark
raven, no,

the white dove—
doesn't matter
much, I suppose, since I haven't
seen either around

here for a while—just this one
slight silver crane,
made from a carefully
folded old gum wrapper

which lies belly-up
and gleams for a second each morning
when I open the flooded top
drawer of my desk;

but I think it's safe to say
this one's given up its quest—
which was never for Hope, anyway
but of course, for Peace and Love—

in the name of bestowing its
little specious branches
of Peace and Quiet, daily, upon this
shabby ark, instead.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

the lights are still
on somewhere—
There is nothing

at their center—
Nothing
at the boundary

Friday, August 16, 2019

QUIXOTIC

Astonishing how
the impetuous morning glories—
their fluted violet
petals near-translucent
in the onrushing
light of the dawning world,
their young tendrils heroically
messy and untamable—
are still so eager
to drape their spry substance
around the perfectly
ordinary: wrought iron fences,
long rows of tall black,
machined en masse
for the purpose of keeping
one particular stripe
of life in each neighborhood
separate and abstractly
protected from the others.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

THE CATCH

It's all the daily floating
irritations in your eye which blind you
to the beauty you may somehow
yet be making from their shavings

for the sake of a beholder
whose tastes and purpose
your nervous system was never
built to imagine—what is a pearl anyway

but thankless work
done in secret around oversensitivity;
a little tenderness over time growing
too unwieldy for the oyster.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

Most days I don't see
anyone—

just dogs
halls doors lawns.

This
seems fine.

These silent creatures
and I, we get along

famously
as all the creeping things in Eden.

Then again, if I
were Adam

this paradise
wouldn't have lasted long

as I'd have balked
at the prospect of sacrificing

one iota
of its staid perfection.

I would never consent
to the theft

of an inch;
not one ounce,

not a minute—
let alone

the indispensable
symmetry of my rib cage

for the sake of
conversation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

THE DRY SPELL REBELLION

Too early for autumn, so I had to
convince myself I saw
above the street this morning

a whole fleet, an army,
an air force of brown pointed
leaves going AWOL,

madly abandoning its
camp in a tree—but (as if refusing
both surrender and retreat)

exploding up instead of falling,
then executing a quick barrel rolled
burst along the horizontal,

breaking for freedom
with all of its might—like a scrappy
half-starved young colony

of sparrows, who would rather
their poor overtaxed
hearts give out from the fight

than stay put and continue
to exist in my mind's stultifying
grip of persecution.

Monday, August 12, 2019

STEP ZERO

Before the first thing,
morning itself

searches 
for a body—wet chocolate

or warm
milk in color;

torso, cagey
gnarl of limbs,

any weird
protuberances dangling—

preposterous illusion
of indelibility,

of familiarity:
always the same

incentivizing
degree of unrecognizable.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

DIAGRAM YOUR LIFE

Forget about
arriving (somewhere
you have

heard this);
what's important
is the journey.

I'm curious
what all the paths would
say about that:

striding
versus striving—how quickly
muddied,

how complex
the physics of
simplicity gets.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

DOG DAYS

Like the first time it
weightlessly
darkens your mind

that you've almost been
at the same
task for too long,

so the rainlessness
gradually bakes
its cracks and imperfections

into mid-August.
From park to mangy parkway,
nothing fresh

is happening—
just the slow bleaching
and rusting of status quos 

which typify hard-won
and wistfully
lackadaisical midlife.

Dog days,
we call them—the shaggy
glaucomic old hunters

nosing already for
that twinge
of September,

that shiver—a portent
without any
prompt from memory:

death will return here
as beauty's young
heiress, not it's mother.

Friday, August 9, 2019

THAT ONE ANNOYING POEM IN YOUR NEWSFEED

I know. Right now,
as you read this,
or listen—so many things

you're not seeing, will not have
heard this morning.
For every thrush that's

chirping—which rain forest?
Every last night's gauzy
dream—whose murder?

Authorities maintain:
every siren in the distance,
every gallant black

batman-looking
helicopter on the scene—is hope
and significance,

provides solace and
explication, bakes another brick
into a biblical tower.

But as far
as our starved and poverty-
stricken insight is concerned:

silence is the mortar.
Traffic conditions matter.
The weather

affects construction schedules.
Not always, but
some days might start

with the premise:
What if there weren't any 
small questions? 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

PERFECT MIRACLE

We aren't true believers, but still
in our hands, the calendar
is transformed into

a rosary; one at a time
we allow its worn beads
to slip through our warm and

penitent fingers, intently repeating
the same sentences
in the same orders—

entreating the universe
conjuring, from breath and air
pressure alone, the one and only

truly perfect miracle:
the stamina with which
to sustain the illusion—

a frail human notion
that devotion alone
constitutes sequence,

as if anything regarding
inward reflection's
procedure were volitional,

as if allowing 
could explain what we find
ourselves doing,

as if we were the ones letting
the days go by.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

WEDNESDAYS

Certain days, when I feel
stuck, disempowered—
when there's

a creature in
the corner of the
room I can't acknowledge—

I'll sit down and look at
the word written-out:
W-E-D-N-E-S DAY

while allowing my
mind to pronounce
it as: Wenz / day.

The simple simultaneity
of the discrepancy
is such a relief; as if a thing

which is two things,
is all you need to triangulate
the size of your life—

to walk the uncharted
perimeter of its shape;
to peer in one misty

window—then another;
listening both places for
the better music,

but hearing
the exact same thing,
whether it's

this little baby getting
sung-to—or that little one,
gently wept-over.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

LOOKING FOR HOME

Almost (but not quite) like
a Renaissance painter
who has masterfully hidden his
face somewhere

in every Last
Supper or
Agony in the Garden,
Sometimes I think there is

a little lost dog inside
everything I write—
perhaps a scrappy black-
and-white terrier named Richard

who goes searching all night
for that one signature
door frame he knows, combing row
after row of my odd

bumpy prose like
cold cobblestones
in the alleys of a hamlet called
Hyrule Castle Town

long after the market bazaars
have closed down and his owner—
a plump moon-
faced woman, whose name

might even be Mamayu Yan
has returned home alone
to weep and pace worried
infinity symbols

around the stark wood interior
one of my many
flimsily-built medieval
slums of a stanza.

Monday, August 5, 2019

HOW TO WIN THE POEM

Work with regularity
and weightiness a while

to form the mallet
of your timing,

to whack-a-mole
those rising bubblelike

holes in all your feelings.
Sometimes you'll see them

because they gleam
with rhyme—

others because
it makes you furious

to the point of near
blindness when they won't.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

5 6 7 8

Between the counts
of one and two,
something furious must
go missing;

between two and three persists 
a distraction, an Instagram picture: 
an idyllic waterfall—with Sisyphus 
photoshopped down at the bottom;

three will only hook-up with four 
the way a pale green door fits 
with its frame—thin ribbons of empty 
space all around it, 

a rectangle of light 
escaping from an off-limits interior 
too reminiscent of the house you 
grew up in to bear. 

For the choreographer—
whose idea of truth 
fits inside the cramped beauty of space
like lace

slippers inside a white 
workaday box,
whose escape from the real is 
the regimentation of the possible—

such profligate ciphers
must leave
not enough, or else too many
rooms for error.

Friday, August 2, 2019

JEALOUS GUY

There are certain disadvantages
to not believing in god

I remind myself grasping
and embracing are

not the same thing
but at some point one

turns into the other
for instance those people

who think they
were John Lennon in a past life

but still a charm
that works like a charm

in the wilderness that exists
out past the garden footpath

must be the the end
of the whole discussion

the sunflower
a bewildering eclipse overhead

the staggered majesty of
Douglas fir mountains

what are these
but swirls of light and matter

forms of that madness
which does no harm?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

FISH ARE JUMPING, COTTON IS HIGH

In the dream, it is never raining.
The bees have plenty of time to talk.
The cotton is high, but the corn
is green and neat, and, though it nods,

it isn't listening. Above tree crowns,
the sky has become its own flag:
proud blue and rippling with starlings.
Beneath, huge fish—all exhilarated,

all silver—bullet their glistening
bodies upstream to spawn.
But then, something happens;
something dawns, or someone speaks—

in the gravel bed, an idea has dropped
and broken open; the honey turns
sweet and begins to get heavy.
The bees, those once-lithe teachers,

are drowsy. Clouds gather at far corners
like rumors: those salmon are running
toward suicide—and yet, soon every
reluctant student will wake and return.

LOVE POEM FOR THE WHOLE WORLD

You and me—
in such perfect sync

we never even
think of each other.