Saturday, November 16, 2019

COMMON GROUND

Just think of all the things in this
life there aren't words for—

the chocolate smell of brewed coffee
being different from its bitter taste

or the lonesome color of every
wet maple leaf mixed together

after being compressed beneath
the eager feet of trick-or-treaters

and pulped by grudging commuters
two weeks or so into November

when you can hear them start to
mutter back and forth on the platform

so much for a good long autumn 
because they can't find it

in their stony hearts to say
here comes another hard winter.

Friday, November 15, 2019

ORDER OF OPERATIONS


Photon
by photon,

light infiltrates everything.

It doesn't take,
it finds

the average.

It doesn't
discover, it

defines the boundaries:

ghost
in the shell;

on earth as it is in heaven.

But then,
such invisible hunger—

an internal space

that's uninterruptible—
what in the

hell could this mean?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

CONSTRUAL

A writer is
one who revises

whatever he or she
is waiting for.

Slow and
with great care

letter
by letter

coffee and breakfast turn
carefree and steadfast

true loves
become tea leaves

melancholy—
now that is

a tough one.
Some hint at

dying flowers
and leave it there.

Many others
have simply written

to say they're
still working on the problem.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

SERVICES RENDERED

Over the years
I have churned
out so many poems

I can't recall how
any of them go. Urgent
as they were

most were about
girls I'm sure now
i'd rather not remember

engendered by metaphors
that didn't compare much
with the world of sense

set in locations I'll likely
never see again.
Yet—I'm not sorry.

I won't be held responsible
for emotions whose postcards
I no longer want

for mutt feelings I've let out
at the curb on the street
or regrettable versions

of persons now-retired.
All that amnesty I must
hold on reserve

for the reason itself
which I can't afford
yet to forget—

and for the one person
who in the interim is
still required.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

OVERTURES

O nameless untamable
joy of bright morning—
unpopulated white light

wasting inexhaustible time
playing in the mazes
of silent faceless ice—

please excuse humanity's
abominably late
entrances, they

cannot help it; please
break them off a piece
of your eagerness

to mind not a bit
of scarcity or lack.
When they wake

they inevitably
wake feeling dark
blue and starving.

Monday, November 11, 2019

THIS NOTHING

        how did this haste begin this little time 
        at any time this reading by lightning 
        scarcely a word this nothing this heaven
             —W.S. Merwin, "Just This"


Even when living
in the moment
I am still afraid

the moment
is me. I do not want
to see it leave

though I never
saw how it
came this way.

Tomorrow I will
likely say
I believe in nothing

outside of today—
not even
the last time

I came to this place
and professed the same
belief. I know

the stars we use
to steer by
have all burnt out

long ago
but still I rush
to look up

an answer
to the question—
who invented zero.



Saturday, November 9, 2019

LYING ABOUT PRAYING


It's true I still think about you
at least once a day

but I've never thought
to pray.

Except for that one time
you asked me to

with the look in your
eyes—far away

as unnamed planets
all clouded over

with roiling atmospheres
yet stubbornly

refusing to rain—as I lied
and shouted

and swore
I could change.

Friday, November 8, 2019

THE PRIME MALINGERER


He's not what you'd call
flighty—it just so happens

staring distracted
out the window comprises

his very small area
of expertise.

What he sees
there abstracted—the mangled

trees, crooked dismal
stacks of brick—you couldn't call it

disaffection, exactly;
it's more the artistic process

by which the labyrinthine city
becomes the living manifestation of

his cracked and hypnagogic logic.
As a matter of fact, do-right

pedestrians like us, so unimaginative-
ly late to the party

would be just as comfortable calling
this waking world surreal 

if everything we saw didn't appear
so likely.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

THE COLOR OF EVERYTHING


Every day
before the stories
of sirens

before the fictions
of backfiring eighteen
wheelers yellow diesel
busses cranes jackhammers

new light—

silent
faceless
gray as water

then the color
of pale roses

then of jarred honey

spreading from the great lake's edges
without any interest
in boundary
or intent—

must awaken
the sleeping
authors from their measureless

reality of dreams


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

ITSELF

Like thin pencil
flourishes of high birds
churning wider

and wider
circles in the gray
emptiness of morning sky

every day
every hour passes
gradually turning

into something
so slow
and simple

and inevitable it
surprises no one—
even though

they squint and stare
unprepared
at the squiggles

of letters which are
all familiar
but which

together form
a signature
a word that no one

on earth dead
or living has
ever read before.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

MEMORY AS THE INVERSE OF IMAGINATION

Even though
it also doesn't

youth
most certainly
disappears suddenly

a little like
a huge July sky
plunges over water

a little like the voice
of wind bellows apples
from November trees

a little like good
will and cheerful
music goes in January

a little
like an April snow

but mostly
like nothing
else we know.

Monday, November 4, 2019

ABANDON


Even as they're crying
the poor November
birds form flocks

even the little ones
who were born here
in the rich light of late summer

which is still burnt
into the shrunken Oak leaves
and the rock-

hard crab apple berries
resist but
are helpless

to keep from remembering
for the first time
how to fly

not in the direction
of safety but all the way
back home.


Sunday, November 3, 2019

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS ENDS

How is it the few drab
gray brown birds

still left here in the naked
gray brown limbs

are the only ones now
not singing

songs about things
that already happened?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

ERRORS IN THE TRANSLATION

Many people have stood here
before us and fallen—names still
sewn in the same gray ground now

that was once the province
of spring and its effervescent
kingdom of blossoms.

When we look at a thing, we think
we are seeing it always; we forget
the word for rain, deny the black eyes,

the savage humiliation and abuse
of the still-living Jesus, behold nothing
in those still-blank pages

to which the slightest wind
has blown our notebooks open—
whose song have we been singing

along with all this time
without even realizing?
what malevolence was it

that tricked us into swallowing
those cyanide seeds
of purpose and belief?

How did we ever
come to imagine these
moments belonged to us?

Friday, November 1, 2019

ALL HALLOWS

Nonsense only yesterday—
sweet sepia breezes,
fat bees grazing
on tufts of wild aster

this morning are
monuments—directionless
headstones, even
road signs frozen over.

No names left now
but our true ones.
Suddenly, we have come
all at once—

starved saints among us
to their ledges; the rest
of us, tomb-less ghost soldiers
building makeshift bridges—

to rush the perilous
mountain peak of
all prior knowledge
and experience.