Friday, January 21, 2022

THE EXCEPTIONAL PERSON

Isn't it strange
how there are so many
things in life that hurt

but are commonplace enough 
to go right on 
living with? 

Perhaps, in the end, 
all the people 
and words

which are impossible to forget 
are really a curse;

perhaps the best moments 
are the ones you 
can't recall:

the ones which gave nothing
and asked the same in return;

perhaps it's a mercy 
to remain distant,
unconcerned;

perhaps if you had 
cared more, you would have 
fared worse.

Perhaps 
"Anything is possible" 
is the province of astrologists—

a refrain 
sung by dodgers
and foolhardy mystics.

If anything, 
in the end, 
the exceptional person

is the one who would posit
the inverse:

"this is nowhere near 
where I dreamed I'd be—
but it works."



Thursday, January 20, 2022

OVER THIS WINTER

Amazingly, somehow
a whole flock 
of comets—

or the ice and dust rings 
of some massive 
exoplanets—

have crash-landed 
recently
on the streets of Chicago.

Now, it seems 
everywhere I go, 

odd bits of gravel,
salt cinders, snow

have blotted every curb, 
sidewalk, underpass,
and gutter, 

hindering breathing 
and impeding travel.

Who could have guessed?
All this beyond-ancient
jetsam of space—

all of its ghostly, 
beguiling debris

(which I used to only
see on TV 

or splashed around 
in glossy
school textbook photographs),

when it's piled up
in front of me, doesn't seem 
so special.



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

ZENITH

That first day 
when I'm quiet, 

but the sound of the world 
still hums—

when my pen lies still 
and this page 
remains empty, 

but the truth 
is completed,
and the inquest is done—

let it be because 
there is nothing left to seek;

no loose earth 
and quick-
drying cement 

to plug and cover 
the holes, bore-in deep 
by the forceps of grief;
 
no gauze 
to wrap over these 
implausible scars; 

and no one 
who needs to see 
for themselves to believe 

the face I am wearing 
that day 
will show up there,

for they,
on their own, will have 
finally realized

for once, how 
contented—how at peace 
I truly was. 


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

ABLUTIONS

The very first time 
we were lugged inside 
the sacristy, 

swaddled and screaming, 
then paraded 
through the nave—

it was then we should've realized
that something 
wasn't right: 

how our truth 
was a sin, 

and our sin 
was the truth;

that our bodies, 
which were heretofore 
made of perfect ratios 

of fat and heat
and light 

now felt constricted 
inadequate, and tight—

while cold chrism, 
drizzled listless
in those echoey rooms,

and the grave-like indifference  
of their cold marble pools,

and the cruel, fearful symmetry 
of responsorial tunes
repeating—

these ordeals ballooned
to a wretched eternity,

just the way 
hell might.


Monday, January 17, 2022

THE STRANGERS

No longer contented
to be 
the rain falling 

steady on the plain—
same gray color 
as the background, 

each blade indistinguishable, 
as they're all 
shaped the same—

we decided to make our 
selves more complex 
and elaborate; 

so we got our 
core temperatures 
quite a bit colder,

whipped our loose 
molecules into 
scrupulous crystals,  

and built brilliant white 
latticeworks 
around humble specks of dirt.

Now, as we fall 
through the air, 
it is clear: 

that none of us 
is exactly the same 
as any other—

just like 
every other 
snowflake that's out here.


Friday, January 14, 2022

EXPLANATION

Have you ever noticed 
how electrons 
don't get dirty 

no matter how hard 
or fast they go 
careening around—

how photons almost never 
have plans 
for the future—

how bosons don't have 
bad memories, and quarks 
don't get scars? 

Nevertheless,
here we sit anyhow,
under the same old stars, 

unwilling 
to make sense of
what can't be accounted for,

without ever realizing 
what poverty
that brings.

It's as if, all our lives, 
we have looked 
without seeing 

that each part
individually 
was perfectly sufficient—

but, left to its 
own devices, never
meant anything.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

THE MISSION

Some day, I must be
braver than this

and establish my own religion—
one in which I
permit things

which amaze me
to exist.

And perhaps, while I'm at it,
I'll allow what's amusing
to matter a little bit.

And who knows?
After careful consideration,

maybe I'll even be
hard-pressed to admit

that the reason
its passé Sunday services
should persist

is to give all our grandmothers
a halfway decent reason

to remember to videotape
the figure skating competition,

to lay out smart shoes
and to powder their noses,

and to keep their short
blue-ish white
hair coiled-up

in those perfectly
tight little
beautiful roses.