Saturday, November 30, 2019

EVOLUTIONARY COSMOLOGY

Mostly, we are still just
in shock—
after all this time

how few
have disappeared, turned
thermal-nuclear

gone molten,
become stones.
Alone, and increasingly

more than alone,
but measuring the increase
more and more accurately,

still in shock
at the prospect
of becoming newly shocked,

still hearing in the echo
of the same strings
of numbers repeating

the deepness of externalities,
the richness of
our tilted simplicity,

still respecting
for bygone reasons
the old grandaddy feebleness

of what was long ago so
grandly termed
gravity—each body's

invisible faraway breathing
learning like some miniature
shoulder-blade demon

on the heavenly trajectory
of every makeshift, every
would-be Jesus.

Friday, November 29, 2019

EDGES

What sense
is there in studying
only one insect—
a discrete bee

instead
of a swarm? Even
as a kid, I was taught
to imagine myself

as a jet
instead of a fleet—
instead of a company
that makes jets.

Today, I still look
from a second
floor window

and think of
the physics of flight—

not the frontiers
of the possible, but its
rhetoric—

how there is no way
to measure
the space between units.

Last night there was
so much grown-up talk
of edges and distinctions,

and yet
here I am on the fence.

The vastest extents
of my littlest bits
are anyone's
educated guess.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

MYTHOS

Give thanks

with or without

a table

a home

day or night

this coiled morass

this labyrinth

of fear

and delight

you know it

as yours

not alone to

never untangle

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

UNREASONABLE FACSIMILE

Gazing out
the apartment window—

past water droplets
gradually stiffened

by freezing wind
and glowing

in the light of the unseen
streetlamp below—

to the farther-off
sparrows

nestled on the swaying wires,
pigeons on a wet copper cornice;

all huddled there
of their own volition.

No fear
like mine

of heights
(how very like

a bird) no thought
of this

injustice—being turned
to words.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

NO RESPONSIBILITIES

Never mind decent food
for worms, birds,
trees, pretty

flowers—or even
the ghostly
future of human thought

when I die, I'd like best
to be turned
to a brick;

to be
so ubiquitous,
useful, part

and parcel of the growth and
spread of a
brilliant civilization!

And yet
to transcend all of it
after the fact

with my
perfect little soulless ignorance—
this

would be the
most magnificent and
terrible gift.

Monday, November 25, 2019

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE CHICKEN SOUP LOVER'S SOUL


I swear, if left entirely
to my own devices, most
of the time, I'd be fine

to slaughter
a whole filthy pitch-dark
labyrinthine penitentiary

packed claustrophobically
close to bursting
with the unfortunate

dinosaur mutants—eyeless
and shivering
and covered in dried shit.

I wouldn't sweat; I'd just
spit a little chewing tobacco,
deadpan as I moved

to pull the ostentatious
red lever for the screeching-
loud conveyor belt.

With a detached nose,
I'd boil their bones in vats
the size of Apollo moon rockets,

next calmly strain
and add rice, then bless
and seal each

compressed acre of carnage
inside a uniform
tube of aluminum

designed to stack nice
on a shelf and stamped
with illustrated pictures

of the creatures themselves
roaming a cute barnyard printed
on their labels—all of this

I would piously do,
all in the name of soothing
your latest or littlest

existential boo-boo.
You wouldn't even
have to ask me to.

Then I could come over
and heat a can up for you.
Think nothing of it,

I'd instinctively coo,
just open up, sweetheart—here
comes the spoon.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

SECOND HEAVEN

Eternity exists—
but it comes
with a catch.

What you wish
is to be
together again;

what you get
instead—is
never separated.



Friday, November 22, 2019

UNDERSTANDING THE ELECTRON

          Since the development of particle 
          physics and the Standard Model, 
          we have accumulated a great deal of 
          knowledge about the relationships 
          among various subatomic particles. 
          However, this knowledge has not 
          significantly aided in our understanding 
          of the fundamental nature of any 
          particular elementary subatomic particle.
               —Kevin H. Knuth, Cornell University 


In short, it's because
of the nuclear forces—

those strong
and weak prefixes

to oceans,
to land

bridges, to huge world
wars and gas

shortages,
which carried the light,

if not
the word, forward,

messily, uselessly, crucially
in time—that I'm

here now talking 
(though I can't say

to who
without spilling

the milk and
splitting in two),

unfolding truth,
wave by vague

wave, line
by blind line—

thus far redoubtable,
courageous and

carelessly
shitty at the same time,

and, of course
necessarily

compound-complex
as you, or

as dead
empty space, or

as the terrible
formidability

of this
very sentence. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LITTLE LIKE CHRISTMAS

As November
nears its
inauspicious collapse—

fermented leaves
clogging curbs and
turning noses,

the white menace
of frost boldly creeping
out from every spurned corner,

and the piteous chalk-
grayness of clouds dulling
the edges

and muffling all sound
like a dirty makeshift
bed sheet pall—

even our prior sense
of disbelief
seems to soften,

caving in
in time with the moldering
jack-o-lantern skulls.

And it is only then,
finally, when even the most
trivial of gifts

would feel like a miracle,
that we are able to believe
anything is possible.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

IMPONDERABLE THANKSGIVING

The end of November
is the absolute worst.

The word summer 
sounds in the ear now
like cold distant Church Latin,
like a terrorist's trigger word;

and even the spectacular
failure that was autumn—

the bittersweetness of colors
running, the dead moons
hanging low as loose teeth,
the flocks of crisp geese retreating
giddy through the lunatic air—
fails to stir the heart any longer.

All is simply brown and gray
and braced for the full-body
cast that is winter—a terrible lot
of pressure

as we collect one another
and prepare to obliterate
ourselves on the brink
of some wandering anniversary,
to ask—

Who here
have I recently offended?

Did I slow down for a second
to actually taste the stuffing?

Am I sure I love this
person I'm sitting next to?

Am I supposed to learn something,
or am I supposed to pass the test?

Did none of us savor those bygone
seasons of the year enough?
Has anyone ever

truly appreciated
one trivial grain,
one liquid syllable

of earth correctly—
just the way
it was intended?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

EVER NOTICE HOW—

contrary to popular belief,
the poets
are not so quiet;

the poets
are the loudmouth
stand-up comedians—

doing such necessarily
frowzy impressions

of the unspeakably majestic
that they sometimes
bear repeating:

when the wind's 
high, those songbirds 
are all-like—

and the flowers 
have those looks on their 
faces where they're just—

and the shape 
and the color 
and the aspect 

of the water 
were never really
the same after that...

Of course,
in the heat
of the moment

no one is laughing;
the audience is barely listening.

And so the poets, those
rare idiots, feel
all the more

emboldened
to just say what they're thinking.

Monday, November 18, 2019

RELEASE

We have it
on good, albeit
tacit authority;

we can taste it
in the fear
drizzled lust

on the tips
of our tongues—
a little blot

must rightwise come
to the end
of every sentence.

Approaching
this limit
is a stunt

which none
are in a hurry
to rehearse, yet

listen to all of us—
just dying for
the practice.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

COMMON GROUND

Just think of all the things in this
life there aren't words for—

the smell of brewed coffee
being different from its bitter taste

or the lonesome color of every
wet maple leaf mixed together

after being compressed beneath
the eager feet of trick-or-treaters

and pulped by grudging commuters
two weeks or so into November

when you can hear them start to
mutter back and forth on the platform

so much for a good long autumn 
because they can't find it

in their stony hearts to say
here comes another hard winter.

Friday, November 15, 2019

ORDER OF OPERATIONS


Photon
by photon,

light infiltrates everything.

It doesn't take,
it finds

the average.

It doesn't
discover, it

defines the boundaries:

ghost
in the shell;

on earth as it is in heaven.

But then,
such invisible hunger—

an internal space

that's uninterruptible—
what in the

hell could this mean?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

CONSTRUAL

A writer is
one who revises

whatever he or she
is waiting for.

Slow and
with great care

letter
by letter

coffee and breakfast turn
carefree and steadfast

true loves
become tea leaves

melancholy—
now that is

a tough one.
Some hint at

dying flowers
and leave it there.

Many others
have simply written

to say they're
still working on the problem.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

SERVICES RENDERED

Over the years
I have churned
out so many poems

I can't recall how
any of them go. Urgent
as they were

most were about
girls I'm sure now
i'd rather not remember

engendered by metaphors
that didn't compare much
with the world of sense

set in locations I'll likely
never see again.
Yet—I'm not sorry.

I won't be held responsible
for emotions whose postcards
I no longer want

for mutt feelings I've let out
at the curb on the street
or regrettable versions

of persons now-retired.
All that amnesty I must
hold on reserve

for the reason itself
which I can't afford
yet to forget—

and for the one person
who in the interim is
still required.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

OVERTURES

O nameless untamable
joy of bright morning—
unpopulated white light

wasting inexhaustible time
playing in the mazes
of silent faceless ice—

please excuse humanity's
abominably late
entrances, they

cannot help it; please
break them off a piece
of your eagerness

to mind not a bit
of scarcity or lack.
When they wake

they inevitably
wake feeling dark
blue and starving.

Monday, November 11, 2019

THIS NOTHING

        how did this haste begin this little time 
        at any time this reading by lightning 
        scarcely a word this nothing this heaven
             —W.S. Merwin, "Just This"


Even when living
in the moment
I am still afraid

the moment
is me. I do not want
to see it leave

though I never
saw how it
came this way.

Tomorrow I will
likely say
I believe in nothing

outside of today—
not even
the last time

I came to this place
and professed the same
belief. I know

the stars we use
to steer by
have all burnt out

long ago
but still I rush
to look up

an answer
to the question—
who invented zero.



Saturday, November 9, 2019

LYING ABOUT PRAYING


It's true I still think about you
at least once a day

but I've never thought
to pray.

Except for that one time
you asked me to

with the look in your
eyes—far away

as unnamed planets
all clouded over

with roiling atmospheres
yet stubbornly

refusing to rain—as I lied
and shouted

and swore
I could change.

Friday, November 8, 2019

THE PRIME MALINGERER


He's not what you'd call
flighty—it just so happens

staring distracted
out the window comprises

his very small area
of expertise.

What he sees
there abstracted—the mangled

trees, crooked dismal
stacks of brick—you couldn't call it

disaffection, exactly;
it's more the artistic process

by which the labyrinthine city
becomes the living manifestation of

his cracked and hypnagogic logic.
As a matter of fact, do-right

pedestrians like us, so unimaginative-
ly late to the party

would be just as comfortable calling
this waking world surreal 

if everything we saw didn't appear
so likely.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

THE COLOR OF EVERYTHING


Every day
before the stories
of sirens

before the fictions
of backfiring eighteen
wheelers yellow diesel
busses cranes jackhammers

new light—

silent
faceless
gray as water

then the color
of pale roses

then of jarred honey

spreading from the great lake's edges
without any interest
in boundary
or intent—

must awaken
the sleeping
authors from their measureless

reality of dreams


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

ITSELF

Like thin pencil
flourishes of high birds
churning wider

and wider
circles in the gray
emptiness of morning sky

every day
every hour passes
gradually turning

into something
so slow
and simple

and inevitable it
surprises no one—
even though

they squint and stare
unprepared
at the squiggles

of letters which are
all familiar
but which

together form
a signature
a word that no one

on earth dead
or living has
ever read before.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

MEMORY AS THE INVERSE OF IMAGINATION

Even though
it also doesn't

youth
most certainly
disappears suddenly

a little like
a huge July sky
plunges over water

a little like the voice
of wind bellows apples
from November trees

a little like good
will and cheerful
music goes in January

a little
like an April snow

but mostly
like nothing
else we know.

Monday, November 4, 2019

ABANDON


Even as they're crying
the poor November
birds form flocks

even the little ones
who were born here
in the rich light of late summer

which is still burnt
into the shrunken Oak leaves
and the rock-

hard crab apple berries
resist but
are helpless

to keep from remembering
for the first time
how to fly

not in the direction
of safety but all the way
back home.


Sunday, November 3, 2019

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS ENDS

How is it the few drab
gray brown birds

still left here in the naked
gray brown limbs

are the only ones now
not singing

songs about things
that already happened?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

ERRORS IN THE TRANSLATION

Many people have stood here
before us and fallen—names still
sewn in the same gray ground now

that was once the province
of spring and its effervescent
kingdom of blossoms.

When we look at a thing, we think
we are seeing it always; we forget
the word for rain, deny the black eyes,

the savage humiliation and abuse
of the still-living Jesus, behold nothing
in those still-blank pages

to which the slightest wind
has blown our notebooks open—
whose song have we been singing

along with all this time
without even realizing?
what malevolence was it

that tricked us into swallowing
those cyanide seeds
of purpose and belief?

How did we ever
come to imagine these
moments belonged to us?

Friday, November 1, 2019

ALL HALLOWS

Nonsense only yesterday—
sweet sepia breezes,
fat bees grazing
on tufts of wild aster

this morning are
monuments—directionless
headstones, even
road signs frozen over.

No names left now
but our true ones.
Suddenly, we have come
all at once—

starved saints among us
to their ledges; the rest
of us, tomb-less ghost soldiers
building makeshift bridges—

to rush the perilous
mountain peak of
all prior knowledge
and experience.