Thursday, January 31, 2019


Sometimes, the drain
is the only way out.
Sometimes, the last days
offer our best chances—when everything living
swoons and dances
to that music, not which
is prettiest, but which is headed
for the most auspicious ruin.

Even Franz Schubert
might still compose himself better
as a butterfly someday; his newly
reanimated tune: two bright blue-
glowing wings, extending
to catch the comatose
afternoon light—come some balmy
June or July.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


The end looks
like this, I think—
none of that profound fire
and pressure of slow
grinding wheels;

instead, all is white,
and clean with cold,
save those
slight shadows—
the odd arc of gulls

obscuring the light
over the frozen footsteps—
those ghostly rows
and columns of yesterday's intent.

our bodies are all trapped
and peering, offended, from inside—
tattered and impoverished
as zombies
whose very sensibilities are starving,

whose every pore is thirsting
for a return
to that warm dark heaven
which must have existed—before
we were born.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


I know—the face of the earth 
is only an idio-
matic expression

but the place is so vast, I confess
I get scared
to look, let alone

gaze—let alone choose
where I'm going
to stay.

They say, even vandals
are great artists too, in their
own beautiful way

and that we must each
invent our own instruments,
and that it's okay

to just use the verses
to get to
the chorus—but

I confess, in lieu
of songs—I'd sooner make
drowsy non-

linear poems
like this one
when I want to

cultivate a little chaos,
in which
there's no chaste aesthetic

or dramatic
point of view;

just me.
All alone.
With you.

Monday, January 28, 2019


In all directions, the blankest
faces—not of death, but
imagination, of old ingenuity

now breathless and perfect-
ly preserved in
fresh ice. And the mute snow—

holding fast and glaring
up at the cloud-shrouded aspect
of some meek and

underfed January sun,
while the wet wind combs
and rakes the accumulation into rows,

and the skinny buildings
of in the distance, groom
and mold that same prodigal wind.

At last, all is clean
and nameless and new—
and visible across the grounds

are only a few
dappled traces—
but absent are the usual

accompanying sounds—
of several million human
beings trying.

Friday, January 25, 2019


Okay, I confess—for years now, I've
been selfish-
ly keeping my
thoughts to myself

in order to write them
down on paper and pitch them
at you later—as if: mine
were the one true point of view

and a short, well organized poem
was the highest possible
peak you could climb;
the perspective from nowhere,

and as such, the only one
you could trust; the dead center
of the universe—something much
more usefully observed than discussed.

Earlier this morning, for instance,
I carefully reasoned
that today was the perfect
day for sweatpants; then wandered over

and wondered into the bathroom mirror
whether I could ever get away with
an authentic handlebar mustache;
then, in the kitchen, carefully weighed

all my coffee grounds
out to the decigram; and finally—
endeavored to imagine
just what it could look like

if I rearranged all
the furniture in the living room,
before deciding I felt a little too
uninspired to bother.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


Econoline van, midnight
blue, with a ladder
on the roof and a yellow-
ish hardhat or two on the dash,

how many times? have I
seen your kind double
parked on the clenched-
shouldered avenues of Chicago

and thought—maybe unrequited
love and/or hunger, credit card
debt and lumbar pain don't
always matter; sometimes there's a place

at the end of a very
long and slate-
gray basement corridor, a room
that only one person has the keys to.

Forget about the logistics, and
never mind the weather—one waist,
belted-up tight with the right gear
has waded out this far regardless.

There's a hole in my sock
that's been swallowing me for hours
and my lips are so chapped
they're about to crack open—but

one mouth can confidently disclose
what's most likely
wrong with the washer/dryer,
where the conduit goes,

why the locks froze, how all those
hoses are supposed to hook
up to the furnace.
Somewhere—perfectly at home

within the hopeless folds
of any one of these condos—
is one voice that knows
exactly what it's talking about.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Only because
it's now been
so long, I'm not even
sure what I should
picture myself
missing anymore.

Most days—
which is to say, specifically
during business hours—
which is to say, most
of the time I'm awake—

the writer in me—
hunched at a table, comforted only
by the aroma of coffee
and by punching
some keys
and seeing the immediate
results on a screen—that person

most sorely laments
a lack
of sonorous diction
and syntax: the
you and me, the
she and I, the
hers and my, and so forth.

In other words—it's not the images
which are missing;
it's the style
and the pattern
of certain, very useful
idiomatic expressions.

It's just later on,
after night falls,
that I tend to finally
knock off

to sleep and dream—
through that hazy poetic halo
of pensive noise
and ruminative distortion
for five or six
or maybe seven seasons
at a stretch

purely about the face
of any
particular person
or place
or thing
or belief
or reason.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


Once, there was this simple
and sweet little toddler, and he
liked to eat honey
all by itself—right out out of the little
bear-shaped jar.

Then, there was his grousing
seventy-year-old grandpa—bushy
brusque Italian, hair
like white feathers, skin like leather
furniture after a fire

who smelled of pungent things
like whiskey and world war
and medicine, and who seemed
to require everything
he ate doused in vinegar.

But at this point
there only seems to be, for better
or worse, me—
seated somewhere
midway in-between them

at the empty rectangular
table in the kitchen, eating
a little rice and broccoli
with some bland breast of chicken
and desperate to point out,

to nobody in particular—that nothing
in the world would be better
than a few healthy spoonfuls
of both
mixed together.

Monday, January 21, 2019


shut the blood

red cover—
What's the use

of History? I wonder,
it doesn't

my mother once.

Friday, January 18, 2019


though it's
freezing cold, the look

on my face
in the window
of your home—is blank

as a page,
on which
has been written, over

and over again:
it's good to be alone 
it's good to 

be alone it's good 
to be alone it's 
good to be alone—now please won't

you let me
come back
in already.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


First of all, there's really no such thing
as the temporal significance of anything;
everything's just an accident, a downstream
coincidence of Gregorian circumstance.

And speaking of accidents—images
are not really treacherous; they just get weird-
ly slippery after a while. Let's take her
for example, slowly tripping

up the stairs from a pea-yellow
bedroom in the basement, mumbling
something like happy 
anniversary from the bathroom

an electric toothbrush buzzing in her mouth;
me in the kitchen, probably reciprocating,
me definitely
having some coffee ready.

Now, let's cut to—the sun
eventually lying down, bloody
and exhausted, to warm the earth
somewhat differently for a while.

Suddenly, nourishment is nothing
like what it looks like.
There's so much less to it
than we thought a little bit ago. Now,

it's basically the ambient temperature
on the surface of our skin
which shows us—invisibly
but substantially—how.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Some days,
it's alright—you
are light,

literally made
of invisible star parts;

but even
then, of course, there's
those hours

slightly less
in nature—you're a transparent case

of mismatched leftovers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Lumpy coffee
cup—made of clay
and grape

paint and enamel—from the
you look fake;

but on the inside, just
incredible—vacant, but like
nebulae are vacant,

like time
would look, all
looped and piled up—

like the expression
on the face
of the interstellar water

as it regards, by way
of reflection: an ape
standing straight

up in the morning,
stretching, walking, then
plunking down again—to hammer the bones

of a lyric
poem out
on a smartphone.

Monday, January 14, 2019


     "That music is intensest which proclaims
     The near, the clear, and vaunts the clearest bloom,
     And of all the vigils musing the obscure,
     That apprehends the most which sees and names"

     -Wallace Stevens 

Lying awake
at night, in a room with
no window

just thinking—somewhere
else, the bright
moon is showing

off her halo;
somewhere, the shadows
below tip their

black hats, or else
the silence is not nearly

this shallow,
or other, it must be still

that deep and dream-
silent kind

of snow, those
feathery little piano
arpeggios—falling clean

and clinging,
to the surface of a glass
and steel city

with a much
more beautiful
name—than Chicago.

Friday, January 11, 2019


Before you believe what
you're told—
feel your feet

against the ground,
listen far
left, then

right to the sounds,
raise your eyes
and look

for the sky—and realize, you're
being gently

Thursday, January 10, 2019


If I wasn't so tired and quiet
and conspicuous-
feeling—all goose pimples
and rumpled underwear,

I might stand and shout
out the chilly bay window—
take it all back!
at the exacting light,

which, with its usual knife-
edged insensitivity,
is presently quizzing
all the neighboring

brick walls, needling
the street beneath, and
splitting the precious hairs of these
blunt stone hours

into cheap and hurried-
feeling moments—like this, each
one a little too sharp for my
taste in the morning.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Pursuant to the new year, a rude
cigarette lying
out on the sidewalk still burning,

its curled gossamer
floss of smoke, the cherry
on top, so elemental

yet conclusive
as the profligate
ribbon on a gift—which

you've done so little
to deserve,
it unnerves you to accept

such an absolute
surge of dry lust, a sudden kindling
of entitlement 

to be—someplace warmer
than this is, at least. And a third
cup of coffee.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


God save the thin woman
in the longest parka imaginable

bisecting the lowly
wind outside my window;

that spectacularly inflated
little royal fountain

of a Pomeranian-Shih-tzu
gurgling along beside her

likely requires
someone truly special

to clean the interminable
gunk from the

corners of its eyes—
if not the matted

shit from its
jubilant coat—routinely,

without somehow
growing too humble

to keep scheduling
public demonstrations.

Monday, January 7, 2019


Here you go, son;
here's your very own
loaded gun—

now remember, an eyeball
never stops seeing
what it looks at,
even with its heavy lid blinked;

so be sure to be
careful with
where you choose to point it—

and by careful, I mean steady;
and by steady,
I mean absolutely
certain that you're right;

and by certain, I mean

and by right, I mean not
too unhappy.

Friday, January 4, 2019


No wonder a few hundred
years—or a thousand
are still
not enough to learn from:

how did she look
when she first heard the news
horse-powered from the border
a few weeks too late?

what was his first thought
when that cold rain which fell earlier
suddenly caught
the light of a blue moon?

History has no
people in it.
Only pictures—and, of course

words—doing things,
following certain

Thursday, January 3, 2019


As a puppet is free
because he cannot look up
to see the strings,

as a seer voraciously rereads
and memorizes page 35
in order to predict 36

in a huge holy book
whose conclusion already exists
somewhere around 500—so too

every night, in our dreams
so many unwritten poems
gleam on the knife edges of the horizon

while our shuttered eyes are powerless
to read them. Yet
silent, incorporeal, ghosts move to visit

each of these dark cities
off in the distance,
populated with divorcees and fugitives

and orphan children—
whose histories are long epics,
the lines of which will change slightly

with each new generation, because
they must be sung
in order to be remembered.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Mornings, the guy is basically toothless
and quiet: all black
coffee and no talking, thank you.

By afternoon, though, he's
so through
with contemplating that sermon of serene sky,

and, much like the light in the windows
gradually twisting pallid, then chilly,
and finally cruel, his mouth too starts twisting

toward the shape of the new vulgarian's—one
who's so ruthlessly "past all that"
and who is presently

howling out-loud at the neon heaven glow of
internet television—or else
hunching over to hellishly

wolf down helpless sprats,
all uniformly slashed, preemptively
decapitated, and buried

two tons-deep beneath
the brutish crust of some ancient stone-
ground mustard.