Tuesday, September 22, 2020

MY SHADOW

I am not bragging, 
but the self-thrashing 
exercise 

which I still find 
the easiest 
is

staggering west 
beneath sun around 
noon, because 

no one 
around me is 
likely to notice

how huge 
and how ponderous 
the burden of sin 

I've always been 
dragging behind me
has grown since 

the last time I 
managed to 
run across my own grinning 

skinny black 
corpse in the 
road—but ignore him.




Monday, September 21, 2020

MANIC MANEUVERS

I woke this morning groggy 
but surprised at having, 
sometime in the night, opened up 
an old cut on my pinky. 

Small dribbles of dried blood 
smeared my cheek and pillow case, 
made uncomfortably sticky my sheets and bare 
chest, even my hair and underwear. 

What sort of ungainly 
or manic maneuvers 
had my unsupervised body 
undertaken? I wondered. 

As I began to run the shower, 
I shuddered to think, while I sleep, 
of all the unpopular places 
my unpoliced, renegade 
fingers must travel—

all the old faces, the awkward, 
sentimental, silent embraces 
these foolish hands must 
dare to reach out for, 

which, upon waking, 
I'm certain they'd never 
wish to be caught dead holding.


Monday, September 14, 2020

SPECTRA

Greedy for pastimes
and clicking through all of the options online,
I'm wondering—where do I fit
on this spectrum?

We like tell ourselves life is long
But really, desire is so much longer.

So many days, I have sat quiet and still 
as an idling car, helplessly watching 
its frightful tail of quaking black boxcars 
thunder through the crossing.

But it's no use wondering 
when I might be free 
to unite with that dream 
in the vanishing distance.

Every morning, I have one motivation,
and by evening, quite another;
and I've never once gone to sleep wishing for 
the same virgin soul with which I wake.


Friday, September 11, 2020

NO OCCASION

All my life, I've made things 
for no occasion, 
without giving a bird or bush 
for their practical use.

Thinking back on it, 
so much abstract ideation 
sounds perverse.
Has any one particular poem, 

one song, one sentence, 
or one verse
ever really improved the world?—
as opposed to 

merely improving 
a few of their perceptions—
say, for instance the color 
or cultural-historical significance 

of the flower 
they were holding 
out to that world in question?
But now, I'm confused;

for it sounds, 
in my recollection, as if
even the most ambiguous 
or off-season of these symbols

has shown 
how there's really no difference 
of substance
between the two.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

THIS IS NOT THE LIFE YOU CHOSE

Outside, it is raining. 
It isn't yet evening; 
but to you, the hour feels thick
and inevitable, like evening.

Weren't you going to leave the house?
Groceries. Good bread and soup
aren't just going to show up—

at least, not nearly 
quickly enough—so 
as always, sooner rather than later, 
you will have to choose.

Dryness. 
Satiety. 
Two forms of comfort.

By pining 
over either, already you realize 
you are losing the crux 
of them both.


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

IN THE END

What if you saw your most 
difficult choices 
packed like pickles in a cloudy jar? 
Slimy, wart-pocked, shriveled by salt-brine, 
they too have not seen the light 
of the sun for a long time. 
See how you almost pity these catastrophes, 
now that they appear weightless 
and harmlessly sour, now 
that they no longer remind you 
of who you are? 
Notice your mouth even start to water a bit
as you consider their time-accrued flavor—
balanced up tight against 
savory meat and sweet carbohydrate,
and no more harmful to you at this point
than a little too much garlic 
on this last summer night.




Tuesday, September 8, 2020

PERFECTLY AT HOME

Waking up cold 
and alone in the morning
to the rumble of trash trucks

as they belch and clamor 
their way through the 
too-skinny alley,

I keep my eyes closed 
and feel, for a moment, as
perfectly at home 

as a mirror does 
while it's hanging 
in front of no one.