Monday, September 30, 2019


          [Winston] Churchill perpetually demonstrated 
          enthusiasm, determination, and optimism—
          if not at all times in private, then at least 
          always in public.
               —International Churchill Society

Whatever else—always charismatic,
dawn sun hitting
the red wet
brick beautifully

on row
after determined column
of shabby-but-
decent apartment buildings—

That I should be
awake to see this!—so often
I admit I don't
often notice.

Sunday, September 29, 2019


Look at it—does
this nearly translucent
luminescent seashell glow

from the secretive
center of it
out to the edges

or is it
the other way around?
Is that cracked

but serviceable
bowl on your counter
for putting junk in

or pulling it out?
Where the movement
ends and the

willingness begins
is no stance
you can take, not a concept

you're taught;
it's just something
you get.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


In misery, them
leaving you.
Them leaving

you in misery. Then
time lapse: suns
setting, moons

rising, that kind
of thing. Seasons.
Blackened bananas

and avocados rotting.
Maggots writhing
in the kitchen. Then flies.

Then nothing
but starlight. Not bad,
you manage

eventually, you
see it: everything
that leaves—returning

just never to stay.
The worst of it
realistically, then

is the days.
Their empty
interminable passing—

only to come
back the same
way again: terrible

but so familiar.
Like a bad dream
in which you

find yourself becoming
aware of having
had it already.

Friday, September 27, 2019


Listen how
even the sincerest damn

birds can't stop clamoring
at once

for more and more
worms and yet

and sunnier weather.

Thursday, September 26, 2019


O that tender voice, the prim
lips and smooth cheeks, the warmth
and softness of fingers touching
other compliant fingers—how luxurious,

how beautiful it is
to desperately need
those things which we
cannot afford to need.

Sunrises, sunsets, swaying
gardens of late roses and
lollipop dahlias—all those classes
of prize are different;

not prerequisites, exactly
but novelties, gewgaws—free upgrades
to your basic Food-Water-Shelter-And-
Warm-Someone-Else Package.

Though of course, you
still wind up paying
for every single one of those
too—the presumption being

that you'll find yourself desperate-
ly happy to do so
once you've seen and
handled a few.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


While I'm here,
when I speak, I must speak
for everything:
the blood and the body, the water and dirt—
which, for their parts
all take their
silent turns wearing me;
not with precision
as earrings of laser-
cut diamond, but with a certain nonchalant
yet elegant equanimity;
a maternity dress—just one
of the many hung
in a redolent closet, perhaps
billowing slightly in the evening air.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


It's a traumatic thing to witness
the lush and lively thickness of summer
inexorably getting thrashed
and winnowed. We'd have to be
forced, not coaxed, to reckon with
the evidence; and in truth, it goes so
much smoother when we don't notice.
It isn't just that the light bends to
obscure it; the whole planet tilts, and we
tilt along with it. Saturdays, we're very
busy bagging leaves, digging out
the slow cooker; Sundays, folding
clothes, cleaning windows, putting
elaborate lattices on crusts of dough as if
by the charmed wink of a candle, which
we know—but again refuse
to acknowledge—if used to its fullest
is doomed to dwindle. We do not think
twice. We are complicit. We light
it, and we burn it—then, we force
ourselves to squint a little in order to
perceive: there's still just as much
as ever that needs doing before the chili
depressurizes and the big
game kicks off. Even though of
course there's really ever so much less.

Monday, September 23, 2019


Outside my window, a lone
crow's desiccated
rasp of a caw,
first of autumn—like

bugle Taps for the bygone
season; like a callus
that's thickening. Well, what's one
more, I guess

in the grand scheme
of this jointly tender
and excoriating world—or do I
mean, one less?

Sunday, September 22, 2019


          One day, we will put it all behind. We'll 
          say, that was just another day on Earth.
                    —Brian Eno

Dear God—please, fuck this
tyrannical math of the
thirteenth Pope Gregory.
Here I am, deigning again
to wake in good faith;
and again, I see a traitorous
digital calendar display
has slithered and shape-
shifted and clawed its way
forward another day
to the dearth of my consent,
belief, and understanding.
This is the last straw—so
help me, I will not accept
one more of these abstract
numerical premises on
behalf of your allegedly
esteemed representative.
With You as my witness, I
hereby no longer agree
to shave the graying beard
of my finite existence
off like this: for all intents
and purposes blind, with
the needle-sharp point of
an Italian stiletto, and one
uncountable hair at a time.

Saturday, September 21, 2019


How are we expected
to square the fact
that a good romantic novel
makes a piss poor history book
written in reverse?
Any way you choose
to look at it, fractal and confused
is the spot where the juiciest
plots merely start,
while their rectangular ends
are so neat and Newtonian
that it's more than a little perverse.
In the threads I've somehow
managed to pick up
and follow, the characters
bend and the situations alter,
but divergence is the longer-
term rule of thumb.
In as many of the world's
pages as I've fumbled
through so far, loose ends
never wind any tighter, monuments
and gravestones only
crumble in one direction,
and it's not like anyone
down there ever ends up
more in love
than they were.

Friday, September 20, 2019


          Past the pits where the asphalt
               flowers grow
          We shall walk with a walk that is
               measured and slow
          And watch where the chalk-white
               arrows go
          To the place where the sidewalk
                    —Shel Silverstein

I don't know,
Silverstein—mostly it seems,
hours after I've dreamed them,
my desires, hopes, and
fears are still sleeping
measured and slowly in tight
neighborhood flowerbeds, while I
blow right by them
distracted and daily
on these neverending conveyor
belts of milk gray concrete.
My mind might be
an intergalactic band
of time-traveling space aliens;
my body, perhaps
a harmonized tangle
of vibrating proto-conscious superclusters—
but in any case, everyone in here's just
fissuring on
in his limitless way
to someplace definitive,

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Those first hateful days
that follow are more obliterated
than they are recognizable—let alone
believed-in—and so
can hardly be
counted as such. Then

for a month—
and the bleary compendium
of months after that one—it's just
too hard
to talk about much. But

once years pass, it becomes
so difficult
to rekindle any sentiment
or recall really any
details at all—it feels trivial, if not positive-
ly dull to discuss.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


O September—the boughs
are getting heavy now,
and the stalks are growing
brittle. There is a meanness in
the flowers' faces. The yellows
are bronzing more than a little,
and white pillows of clouds
are flattening out. Though
all around the tall dry grasses
lie softened nectarines, plums
glossy with rain, and faintly
rotting melons; the bees
have grown listless, the song-
birds strangely terse, while
invisible cicadas whisper
more and more anxiously—
this secret of yours can't be
kept for much longer.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


Like a gladiator, the late
September sun returns
a little more battered each morning,

a little less warmth
and a little more color.
But which spectator among us pauses
to consider—each time

our own voice rises
in anger, lowers again
in despair—how many Olympians
are summoned and spent,

how many golden days
ransacked, rarest hours
blitzed from the air—how much summer
do we really think we have left?

Monday, September 16, 2019


In the mornings, when it's still kind
of dark out, I'll get up, and I'll go
for walks around the neighborhood.
It's early, but I'm eager
to take in the empty park, the motion-
less street, and the dark trees, still vague
and damp with droning insects.
I'm always hoping the weight, the dead
calm of these sorts of things
will displace all the thoughts,
the duties, the debts, and the memories
that invariably creep in
shortly after each new day begins.

Often though, while I'm moving,
a sudden invisible something
will brush my face or forehead. Unlike me,
of course, the spiders
have been very busy during the night,
but it's always hard not to get
taken aback by the strange sensation
and immediately begin brushing
my face and my hair with both hands.
Naturally, this is worse than
useless. I can never see
or even find the damn thread. Some things
are just too fine, too delicate for the size
of a person, I guess.

So I press on. Though for a second
or two, I confess the invisible
stickiness of these threads
gives me the urge to turn around and head
back inside, back to bed.
You couldn't really blame me for that,
though, I suppose. In fact,
more and more I find myself supposing
one day, you won't really
blame me for anything.

Sunday, September 15, 2019


I should just be grateful
for the whole thing. I am, too
really. I should say so. I should
tell you. But I won't

risk ruining it. I can't decide what I'm
supposed to do instead, though,
so I'm waiting. Just gazing
hard at quiet light on the floor.

Sunday morning. No music plays,
no Velvet Underground or anything.
Books on the table. But all
are closed up now. My voice is gone

and the coffee's gone too. I regret
that, as usual. But you know
how I always think it'd just be
a waste to make any more.

Saturday, September 14, 2019


So many dis-
things have happened already

that I don't think twice now
when I walk past the sunflower
on the edge of the sidewalk

which was just a stalk
yesterday morning.
A slight roil of wind—

no big deal—
blowing another little
swirl inside the mind. What about

the gardens of churning stars
we used to see as
kids—whose big idea

was that, I wonder—whose
dizzy distortions
of children were those?

Friday, September 13, 2019


It's what they call
an elegant (read: deceptively
simple) equation:

a loss
over time

a sort of distributed ratio
known as losing;
e.g. a knot

becoming such
and such a size—
and me

still waiting
around independently
for its loosening.

I just want to tell you
how much I've
enjoyed your company,

but even that
I can't seem to
do yet.

Which at
least makes
more intuitive sense:

can't divide two
prior things
and expect

to get something completely
new, now
can you?

Thursday, September 12, 2019


Those lights in the sky—
we are told
to call them stars—they burn
though every last atom
of matter in their bodies
until they die.

Until the slag at the center
of their hearts
explodes. Until
their starving invisible ghosts
go sucking and tearing
searing holes in the universe.

But it's alright
we tell ourselves. It's okay
we'll say to someone else
who loves us—this has
always been the plan. They are supposed
to do that.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


          —September 11, 2019

Would anybody
today in the world trade
no hope
for no despair? I would. I wouldn't
care whether
the two were equivalent

either. Tomorrow
is such a gratuitous balm—
I mean
it seems to cost nothing
to keep
slathering on. But

the past—
feels so jagged
complex—so inevitable
to me when
that's what we keep calling it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Like a sunflower
that follows every
moment of the sun—I

am a slave
with no brain
who cannot even

see you're the one
in charge.

Monday, September 9, 2019


When I say this,
does the papery half-
moon make sense to you?

Could an inkblot
cloud oozing dirty across it
cause it

to make any more
or any less?
My guess is

they were wrong
about a universe
made of grammar; but maybe

there is
still a hierarchical order,
a syntax

of all the hidden things out there,
which—and here's where
I always struggle

to complete that thought,
and where you continue
to find it

so interesting,
even though by now it isn't
at all unusual.

Sunday, September 8, 2019


Each day, I'm so busy—
I think 
and I think, until every
niggling thought is gone. Believe me, 
it's not easy

constantly racing 
to the bottom 
of plots; so furious 
to get to the end of things. And yet 
the nights

are so empty—nothing left 
in these 
drained containers 
except: that inhospitable vacuum  
of memory.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


Look—I don't want to
tell you my life story; I am not
curious about yours or
what exactly happened back there.
I just want to take
one minute of one single day and
make it a little bit
sweeter to have wasted:
a nervous kiss, half
a cigarette, a morsel of chocolate—
the word morsel, for
that matter, or the word resplendent
deployed right at sunset.
Listen—the succor of hiatus 
is what I solicit. Long term, no way
could this ever work.

Friday, September 6, 2019


Year by year, our complexions
seem to worsen.
Every pockmark or pimple
is a jot we should have written,
each new wrinkle,
some metaphor we've failed
to explore—or an image
we'd barely dirtied our minds on
before abandoning for the sake
of a cleaner-cut conversation.

Every line which hasn't been
elongated successfully
is another ligament tightening,
until we begin to feel
whole stanzas still inside us
one by one, shuttering their doors,
cooling down, getting dusty—
the way joints get rusty,
cartilage hardens, and breathing
and bloodflow begin to slow.

What are these statues
we're all turning into? What
grotesque creature (and from
where?) do we slouch toward?
Which crumpled object, cracked
nationalist symbol, club-footed
iamb, or hoarse-whispered word?
Maybe things don't fall apart;
maybe they just harden,
and harden, and conserve—until

all life is
is arches and serifs;
some are just slightly
ahead of the curve:
from Abraham and Sarah,
to Binkie and Herb—
everyone on earth
who has ever existed
sooner or later
is a word.

Thursday, September 5, 2019


for bread—you must
pick yourself up
by the bootstraps;

for roses—quit
pulling yourself
up by the roots.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


Ten a.m.—must be the first
Tuesday of the month: time
to test every emergency
siren, all at once. I wonder,

Has someone determined
that Ten a.m. on Tuesday
is the least likely time for an
actual disaster? Is it just

too soon in the week
for the great apes
and the lions to escape?
Too early in the day perhaps,

to incur the rage and mania
of a battered mother
nature? Am I really so sure
that I'm sitting too far west

to finally anger Zeus
into reanimating the Gorgons
for having picked the wrong
religion all along? (Although,

would that one really
be so bad, anyway? To be
stone-still, to be spared all this,
and to last?) Just ten or so

more seconds to go now—until
the shrill whistles finish blaring
their counterfactual bulletins
of Warning, Warning, Warning;

This Is Your Imminent 
Emergency Warning 
That There Currently Is No Such
Imminent Emergency.

And then: on a dime at
one minute after—that feeling,
not of relief, but of something
which is nothing,

something which it seems like I've
only been rehearsing feeling,
something I can't quite
put our finger on—I can

only say for sure that it must be
a feeling I feel routinely
relieved to have failed
to feel for real.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


I've got a girl who comes
around every night—
no matter what
her day has been like.

I bask in the glow of a
bride who's dependable. After she
binges, she purges—
so she never really changes.

This woman worships the very
festering earth that I walk on.
But she's clean. And careful
not to give in to those urges.

She's an angel, ghostly pale
and powdered smooth.
And so she prefers me bonesmooth
and bonewhite too.

We don't have to talk. When I
blink, she blinks. When I wink,
she wobbles. She doesn't drink
but doesn't mind if I do—as long

as we continue to dance
wild tarantellas on this
lawn by the heaving
sea until dawn. And as long as

the shimmering night tide
is jealous, keeps snapping its
million little pictures each second—
I'll look smug and satisfied. I'll lie

at night, my chin raised, my
gaze fixed to that one certain
place in the sky—like the most
requited dead man alive.

Monday, September 2, 2019


Thank goodness
for a whisker

for the few
coarse copper hairs—

little stowaways
still clinging

to the disconsolate
underside of cushions—

all these
lazy days

all these harrowing
years later.

Sunday, September 1, 2019


Once you're an adult
and you're living alone,
you'll finally do whatever
you want to do—just
because you can. You'll
wear the same clothes
and eat with your hands
and work on poems all
morning, then take naps
in the middle of every
afternoon. You'll never
have to talk to anyone
you truly get along with.
At night, you won't
go out—you'll just lurk
around, or lounge;
you'll loaf on the couch.
You could smoke
indoors if you wanted
to—but you don't.
You'll get to watch the shows
you want, then throw-
out your television
the moment you suspect
that you've begun
to outgrow it. In fact,
you'll throw out most
of your furniture
while you're at it—
and your books
and your dishes
and your coats
and your shoes
and those old pictures
and most of the food
in your refrigerator—since
no one you love is coming
home expecting dinner.
Not ever again, as far
as you can guess. So it's
burgers again. Hell—it's
burgers for breakfast.
Nobody's perfect. This is
so much simpler.