Thursday, October 17, 2019

SHABBAT

Christ's sake—
from one measly
sundown
to the next,
why not
just relax?
Take a bath, read
a good book,
or both. Heck,
nothing beats
a little candlelit
Yoga by the river
Styx, and you'll
never reach Valhalla
without taking
a quick dip
in the Lethe
first. So forget
about running
around 24/7;
turns out those
ancient Mayan
mathematicians'
calculations were
off a bit—from
a modern Astro-
physics perspective,
it's just as effective
to sweat every
threat to your
chosen ideological
provenance
twenty-four-six.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

ACCEPTANCE LETTER

Even if all you recorded
was the getting
out of bed,
let us say thirteen
thousand one hundred
and forty or so
times by now—all
in a row, without ever
questioning it—
you'd already be sitting
on an epic more impressive
than Homer's in scope,
more inventively
quixotic than Cervantes',
and several hundred
times longer than those
numbered days even
Jesus of Nazareth could afford.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

PROOF

Just so you know
there really is a book in which 
everything is written 

but the catch is 
you're not allowed to read it 
until after

for now I'm afraid 
only 

the muteness 
of touch 

the silence

of the voices calling 
and calling in the dreaming 
interior of the mind 

and of the doubt
that rises 
obediently to follow 

the peace 

the kind best exemplified
by still
water in light 

the unfalsifiable claims
to beauty made repeatedly 

by each burning daybreak 
and every irreversible 
immolated night—

for now 
only this much 

is safe
enough to be 
underlined and annotated

as true beyond reason
beyond purpose 
beyond question.

Monday, October 14, 2019

ANACHRONISM

O, conspicuous
fleshy pink
hibiscus

still waving to me
on increasingly crisp,
persuasive breezes

and foregrounding
now, from the threadbare bushes
nearest to the avenue,

the neighborhood's
canniness of
Halloween decor—

how I wish
you could tell me
what it is I don't notice

about the moments
in which I am
truly contented

until the colors
have shifted
and the whole planet

tilts—and they're
so out of place, it looks
ridiculous.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

BESPOKE IDEA

Believe me, I'd love for the words
which we've already got
to work. But it's no surprise
they don't; you know that, and I
know it too—there will
always be this flimsy sort of
something between us, some gauzy train
of see-through stuff, some tailor-
made fabric smartly furled,
and yet routinely stretched to a
shape we can't name
and a color we've never been able to
label. We can't explain
the ritual; we've glimpsed it
in dreams, but it blazes
up way too quickly. So now,
miles and miles from that hotbed
of emergency—and safely wide awake
on a cold dazzling Sunday—
the best I can do with these
prefabricated phrases
is just to say that it's
life-size, enact a swooping dance
of pure gesture with my
hands, and leave it at that.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

REHABILITATION

It's hard at first
but once you're bent
you tend
to bend there again.

After a time
you might
even start to arc—less like
a yogi

than a wizened
ray of light
on its way through a filmy
glass of water:

still play the lottery
just skip
the ticket; more than once
let your kid come

with you to the
convenience store
dressed in her
Halloween costume.

Friday, October 11, 2019

OBLIVION

If you can when
you're old,
think of this:

loss itself
is a kind of flaw-
less memory;

a cognizance
which, at last
is yours alone

a blissful sort
of looseness
you can hold—

the only gone
you ever get
to own.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

ASKING A LOT

There is a reason
we cannot think back 
before we could talk

we didn't know what to call 
anything we saw

this morning 
the light by which I recall 
you sitting across the breakfast table smiling 
lying on a couch petting the dog 

is simply older than can be known

before it I am still as an infant 
to the whole of the universe 
in which there is no shadow or sundial 
no aurora or gloaming 
no picture or sound or concurrence

I do not dare ask 
such fierce radiance 

should the air I inhale now 
somehow have
anticipated me

then how could any exhalation be 
expected to remember

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

NOUMENON

At the twenty-
four hour grocery
store: putting
whole things
in a squeaky-
wheeled cart—
one at a time, night
after static and
cleft, discrete night—
has, by this point
really started
to inspire me.
A whole apple,
the ideal
box of Cap'n
Crunch cereal,
one very conclusive
container
of peanut butter—
I have come
to appreciate this
clean moment-
ary world. I like
being invited.
And I've even begun
to warm up to
the thought
that I'm being
proffered
realities which are
so gratuitous-
ly themselves, so
redundantly in-
dependent and
entire—that no
prior concept
of the flawed
and incoherent
shopper is required.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

OCTOBER

Flapaway
again bluebirdies
and leave
the sweetgums stark

naked in your
tumultuous
wake;

leafless—
unsuited—yet
limbs posed
so illuminatingly

penitent
when snow's
white coma comes.

Monday, October 7, 2019

MANY WORLDS INTERPRETATION

Two and a half pounds' worth of chuck roast,
salted and slid into a low oven for
over seven hours. A combination-probe-
and-investment. A bold investigation
into tomorrow.

Important work otherwise
disconcertingly minimal. Out of your hands
though, is the way you'd prefer it. On trial,
you'd have been willing to settle
for Leopold Bloom's verdict: more sinned-
against than sinning.

Cutting your hair and shaving
felt like paying back a loan. Taking another
walk around town, to help shake off
the anomalous feeling; your favorite
way of seeing
football. On other people's televisions.

The clouds gradually overtaking the sky
while you were dozing after lunch
in the muted living room, trying not to
think, trying not to move. Just in case
none of this really belongs to you.

Just in case that was someone else's
day-to-day life-
situation bleeding through.
Just in case that was
your Monday morning, plainly feeding
back into this derelict Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

POSTMODERN FRAGMENT

Hunting for
positively any redemptive
epigraph I could uncover

and still not finding one
after half an hour—I start
to fear it's useless,

that I'm all on my
own on this one—
the debauched page

billowing, pulsing
with menace like a soiled
padded room—unless

those two crows—perched
on a cornice, and cawing
over the grayblue confusion

of the street after sunrise
with a glee that's
unusually magisterial—

were to suddenly
achieve perfect enlightenment,
swoop down

from their neo-Gothic
roof crown, and rescue this
tortured sentence.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

OUTGROWN

A long time ago, your soul
was a new penny loafer. You were
so afraid to ruin it
that you never even wore
it outside of the house.
After a while, you found it transformed

into the perfect running shoe; so snug,
light, and quick in those days—your feet
were clouds of fire, which never
touched ground. Right about now, though
your soul is some old and worn-out but
miraculously decent-fitting boot

scrounged by a homeless person
before gratefully leaning back on the
street corner trash can for a nap.
But don't sleep—eventually it's going
to morph one more time, to the polished
black wing-tip of that

beat cop drawing nearer—
chip on his shoulder, baton and
mustache twirling—who claims he never
believed in souls, and who won't
abide any street-preaching
derelicts or loafers.

Friday, October 4, 2019

DAILY POEM


When you need a few
minutes you
plainly do

not have,
this is the poem
I want you to find waiting—

like the robin's egg
blue dress hanging
clean in the closet, or

the Kit Kat bar
in the grocery
store checkout line—

these are the words I'd hope
you would memorize
even though you weren't required to

and the light you might use
to someday recognize
my face by.

It's terse
and compact enough
so as not to be

a burden; it works
like a constellation: just enough
data points to function.

It has fine rain
at a graveside funeral, cherry pie
on the windowsill,

Christ's blood as perfect
relationship metaphor—
and exactly one cedar waxwing.

Really, this poem
has nothing
to do with anything;

actually, this poem has
something to do
with everything.

Its take home message
is just that,
if you're still reading it,

you haven't completely
wasted your life yet.
That last poem which you read

on the subject
must have been mistaken:
there is still a little time.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER VS THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

The domed ceiling of evening
closes down pretty fast now—at least
the rain can no longer pester us;
the wind, not so tough a
bully as we thought.

It feels late. We must have already
been affected. Left alone. Truly. But
we've been expecting this—
we've got cans of split
pea soup on hand, men with helmets

on the HD television. Soon (we reason)
a commensurate pea-green glumness
will come to both cradle
and cover us like coffin satin. Not bad.
This season was long overdue.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

...AFTER YOU

Since you're the one
asking, I admit—
I'm a flat 

earther—
maybe half
of the time, sure.

Whenever 
it gets dark, say. 
Those nights 

after you drop me 
off. When, in my
mind, the first

lonely impulse 
is to take off
my clothes

and put on black
tennis shoes—
I own several 

pairs of these 
just in case—
it might feel 

so amazing—
it might just be 
crazy enough—

to walk 
and to only 
keep walking...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

COGITO

O to just have faith
enough to wake
and get dressed

without
exhilaration but
nothing to resist

none of this
syntactic spun-
sugar

how many lines
have burned
in my earnestness

skill and hurry
having murdered
purpose

between birth
and death how many
unarticulated poems'

flattened tongues
mouths closed
around headstones

useless and end-
stopped
order beauty simplicity

no organization
other than
by date

no justification other
than appearing
to exist