Friday, December 21, 2018


Little violin,
despite your sturdy, resolute hull
and those
two ghostly ear holes,

you're not quite
a skull
built to house the restless brain
of some long-dead master,

or an envelope full
of brutally honest letters
to the editor of a sleepy magazine
called Sunrises and Sunsets.

No—to me, you're the tiny
wooden room
where one determined writer
can just barely fit,

provided he sits hunched
uncomfortably enough,
to listen to
your distant singing

and hopefully scribble
a few poems—fantastically
alone, and most likely by
virtue of you.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Though firmly constrained by
its impregnable container,
the mind is wild, and it can't help

but slip, on days like this
out through the gaze
through the eye's hibernal windows

and down below to where the whole body
might one day coat the landscape—
strange, the hard sensibilities

of solitude and safety
mingling with the sensual taste
of soft wetness and escape,

of wild excess,
then discomposure, then extinction—
it's the last good mouthkiss

from someone
we knew we'd never saw again,
it's some exquisite candy's

slow dissolving
in the dark palace of the tongue—
the whole of this

divinely-given binary
riddle of existence
comprises something Dionysian,

as pure raw milk—
safely contained
in its sturdy Apollonian bottle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Deep and crisp and even—now that's 
the kind of snow for me. 
Though I think maybe I'd
also add "laughing a little," most likely
at me while I'm trudging along talking,

perhaps to my mom
on a hands-free call, reciting 
a dull litany of groceries needed 
for the holiday dinner's infamous
broccoli cheese casserole 

instead of discussing the refugees
who's pictures she'd just seen,
crouching near a chain-link 
fence at the border and eating 
a can of beans for dinner—or 

the Christmas Eve truce of 1914
and the mirth that oozed up 
from the foxholes of Belgium
when soldiers gin-anointed voice boxes
were the only things exploding—or even

entertaining such a miracle's inverse:
the ludicrousness of the ineluctable light
of our shared universal consciousness 
getting momentarily stuck in the throat 
of a disconsolate baby. Though perhaps 

the snow laughs because it suspects
I'm not really on a phone call at all,
but just careening down the street
and mumbling out-loud to myself about
the exact same things.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I remember being instructed
to count to a hundred
to pass the time in that roadside
restaurant—the one whose

hostess would give the good kids
free balloons—waiting after Sunday mass
for those much more appealingly
flattened discs of bread.

I still do this sort of thing.
Even though it's no longer a challenge,
it does the trick—makes me think
of childhood as the perfect

pang of hunger, the one finite thing
buried deep in the infinite dirt of me
that can still retain logic's
gleaming immediacy,

and the only thing which,
having already come this far, I can
neither bring myself to abandon
nor ever quite seem to find—before time's up.

Monday, December 17, 2018


I often wonder about the effortless songs
we write while we're sleeping alone.
I'm not trying to say that it's easy,
just that the melodies are always so strong,

the chords so even and clean, as to resemble
the beautiful rooms in those formidable
19th century buildings which catch and hold
the resplendent afternoon sun on their roofs

of carefully rusticated stone.
The thing is, although these old structures
are still in great shape, we know we could never
live inside them, because they don't contain

a stick of furniture. It's usually at this point,
that we begrudgingly realize: we're going
to have to leave the house. We must
abandon that living room, which is, after all,

empty of everything (save that sturdy piano
which holds all the family photos). But
we don't actually need to go outside to do it,
we just need to start reading a lot;

then, we need to write a bit; switching
the order here, tweaking the vowel sounds
there, maybe sipping a little more hot coffee
from the newly visible and always-full mug

at the gradually solidifying kitchen
table and chair, gesticulating and nodding
and believing our current living situation
could have been otherwise.

Friday, December 14, 2018


I've just got to say, I'm really sorry
to have suddenly interrupted
whatever decent little aura

of silence had been haunting you
prior to picking this thing up
and singing it this far

with that puffy cantor
who lives in your head. I know
how earnestly you'd been tracking

the simple dark swinging pendulum
of your breathing, or inviting the illicit
swivel of candle flame to illuminate an old

newspaper, or just staring straight ahead,
parsing the mercifully uncomplicated
texture of burgundy

paint on the drywall
of the room you were standing in
when you first heard the news.

If it's any consolation—
I promise to return you
to a more burnished quiet,

to a reverie even more hopeful
and pregnant and profound,
to an even deeper silence

than the silence whose fierce
gaze had refused to quit
pleading with you before.

It turns out, this is a special feature
of even the least imaginative poetry:
all you have to do

is read this last sentence, then
cut the music
and don't move a muscle

while all the forces of white space on earth
suddenly rush in to surround
and shoot down the final period,

and listen for that faint ache
of a recoil—it won't sound like much,
so you've really got to listen.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


I need you
to keep picturing this
small ugly catamaran
with its galley lights stuck on

bobbing up and down on
the huge silent water!—
orders the fierce little
white-bearded captain

who's crazily trying
to ford the pure rushing
stream of this
imponderable consciousness.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Yesterday, I impulsively
purchased a Clapper (As Seen on TV!)
from my local Walgreen's,

whisked it home directly, eager
to automate several bedroom appliances,
and just as quickly went to pieces
when it didn't function as intended.

When I woke up this morning,
begrudgingly switching on my bedside lamp
and small box fan manually,
I realized—this is exactly

why I write poetry. It isn't
the blessed rage for order found
in a freshly plowed field of
perfect straight lines,

or the seductive dance of a
brand new shape
undulating down the length
of a virgin-white page,

or the drowsing hymn-like quality
of sonorous vowel sounds
repeating comfortably at regular intervals—
though those things too are interesting.

No; really it's because
life is already so filled
with poetry's exact opposite,

I desperately need to balance it out
to keep me—and everyone else
from toppling right off
the pages we've been writing

and landing, with a flat little clap
in the trash can—and perhaps accidentally
triggering the Christmas lights
or the television to turn on

in the empty home
of a single man in his 30s
who's so profoundly lost in thought
he might never make it home again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


As its black tip question-marks,
and then dwindles, I just have time

to wonder: have I really ever
made a fire? Or was it

always just—the match.

who invented these things anyway?
And did that person ever consider

all the future generations—brightly
going around feeling like creators

when actually, that gleam
of genius in their eyes

was preemptively put there—
by starlight, by manure

and cow's milk
and carbon and cod liver,

by the bodies of two strangers
just out for a good time—just for one

headless goddamn moment—
in the more pleasurable dark.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Listen, don't make a sound—
there's a starved silver beautiful

wolf who's been pacing
and snarling outside the moon-

lit window of this poem
like some lunatic wraith. He’ll never

pass under this warm drowsy
doorframe though—not even

close, I can
promise you that, dear—and neither

will I, no, and
neither can you.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


If you want to know the difference
between poetry and prose,
you've simply got to spend

the better half of an afternoon
skating over the silver-plated
park playing ice hockey—then,

return home and, as the frosted rose
sky fades to puce through the
block windows—just you try

resuming that same game
down in your semi-finished
basement—in stiff socks.

Friday, December 7, 2018


Seemingly unable to speak
the right mantra, to see
the edge of sky inside
for the top of the ceiling;

yet there must still be
some silent intelligence—
drooling and rummaging
around the hackneyed

and shopworn attic shelves
inside me, about which these
cleaner and more articulate
selves—can say nothing.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


It's too late, I've already decided
I'm not going to write this
poem about it. I'm telling you:

it was nothing. A paltry commodity,
hardly suitable as an article
of deep contemplation—just something

ubiquitous, easy to miss
as a mustard seed buried
in halfway-decent soil—like one

of six dozen flathead screws
holding great grandma's baby
grand piano together—

like one little pretty pink
earlobe of a seashell,
on one of those endless glossy

Thomas Kincade shores
on which there's millions;
even now, I can't even explain

how it managed to worm its
way into this sentence. There was
no reason to keep it—it wasn't

a memento, there's nothing in it
which suggested my favorite
corporate logo in its shape,

no connection to some
old girlfriend's
light-thirsty birthstone,

no talisman of those
couch-surfing, "No School
Special" good old days.

It's just something
I almost stumbled over
earlier this morning while walking,

head down, furiously toeing
the slick razor's edge of the
overly-urbanized avenue,

trying to picture
my hypothetical reaction
to sudden loss

of cabin pressure, and
rather too aggressively

to get the hell out of
my own
way a little faster.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Could there ever be
a singular idea
that peers securely from behind
two or more sets of eyes—at one time?

Is it "like" something
to be one wisp, one arbitrary gleaming
velocity arrow—in a silverwhite cloud
of arctic herring?

Do the stars
have inner lives?

I wonder—those silent nuclear processes
going on inside them

just seem so much bigger
and more
difficult than ours.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Oh sweet and

soft brush of eagle's

wings, oh warm,

breath of dawn, please!

back-off my
neck, I'm trying

to sleep.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Please help me, I think
I must be suffering
from Man's Disease—

I keep saying "God knows"
when all I really mean
is that I don't,

and I can't seem
to express any of that
supposedly unbounded love for

immediate family; they're perpetually
having to settle—for this small
soundless fealty.