Wednesday, June 19, 2024

SEAMY

After the last distant 
and longing clang 

of churchbell vesper 
song is diminished 
and fades, 

the able, charmed silence 
of twilight descends 

to swathe, in its 
shadow, half this gently-
tilting planet.

And then—out 
come the rats 

from the west 
to the east, 

from their dark wombs 
of nests underneath 
the parkways 

to raze our grand empire 
of Day to the street 

by reclaiming 
all our most thoughtless-
ly tossed 

post-dinner bags 
of warm trash 
as their feast. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

CONTRIVANCE

Beware words 
which at first appear 
open as the air, 

for even they 
must be mounted 
in some very particular frame, 

and are only meant 
to offer 
one particular point of view. 

It's hard to notice 
how subtly 
and slowly they accrue, 

until they're assumed 
to be ancient 
as the mountains

and self-evident 
as the sediment which 
constitutes our planet—but 

recall from past litanies 
of mistakes you've 
been engaged in

how a wall made of glass 
was still a wall 
nonetheless—and so, 

virtually any thought 
you might presume to be 
transparent as well

is potentially false—
and cruel—
and vindictive 

as a window 
in a prison cell. 


Monday, June 17, 2024

COMME IL FAUT

Howling down 
from the frozen and
desolate peaks 

of some ancient, sibylline   
mountain range, 
a proper wind—

by the time it meanders 
through the amber waves,
and cools,

for an instant
or two, all the impotent 
plains of the Earth—

decrescendos 
to a whisper,
much to the relief 

of its workaday 
fools and sinners. But 
much to the chagrin 

of its politicians 
and philosophers, 
who can't abide 

a whisper,
unless it's made
of words.


Friday, June 14, 2024

NO TAKE BACKS

Sometimes, saying "sorry" 
after the fact

is worse than 
not at all;
it can never correct 

the full extent
of the injustice,

and tends to leave
the aggrieved 
bereft 

of a most-pleasant 
fantasy of sweet 
revenge exacted. 

Moreover, 
such expungings are, 
at best, sacrilegious 

to the autocratic
enterprises of history 
and physics, 

both of which contend 
that every action, once taken, 
casts with a firmness 

the faultless exactitude 
of the world we live in, 

and it'd be a fate, 
not just worse, but  
more impossible than death 

if we ever endeavored 
to go back. 


Thursday, June 13, 2024

PARTY TRICK

Most of the time, 
whenever I'm 
engaged, 

I find myself resisting 
an urge to slip away 

from whatever I'd 
begun to say. Although 

I know the art
of conversation 
is crucial, 

the sentence I'm dispensing 
feels more 
like a party favor—

like a school child's 
fortune-teller 
crafted out of paper—

an amusement flitted 
deftly from the pocket 
of my pants, 

first flapping, 
then unfolding before 
the eyes of my supporter 

as beguilement 
and suspense begin 
to mount in equal measure

toward the flimsy crescendo 
of one of several 

predetermined
points of order. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

ADVICE TO YOUNG ADULTS

To not act 
on passion would 
seem like a sin, but 

salvation's 
not about that—it's 

all your offhand 
choices and 
run-of-the-mill opinions 

which, at long last, 
coalesce into 
the voice of pure reason: 

every last advantage you have
will have to be abandoned, 

for, when all 
chained together, even they 
will constrain you. 

And you can't use a chain 
to pull your 
virtue, anyway; 

you must 
get behind and push it;

grow through sin—
slow as old Issa's 
young snail did;

take the levelest 
possible road 

to the top of this world's
tallest mountain. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

ADVICE TO YOUNG CHILDREN

Don't be too eager 
for the love you'll
be craving, but 

don't take what comes 
either, or you'll 
take it to your grave. 

It's just as important 
to speak your mind 
as it is to speak politely, 

but never say excuse me 
when I'm sorry's what 
you mean to say. 

And when the ones in charge 
begin to spurn you—
when they assure you 

you're dust,
and to dust you 
shall return,

only to then 
turn around and ask you
for your sympathy—

try not to laugh in their 
mortuary faces; 
just say 

I'm sorry 
before you turn 
and walk away.