Monday, October 19, 2020

CERTAINTY

Somehow, 
I am always so sure 

of those degenerate doubts
which I do not want 
to accommodate—

so certain 
that my longing 
and despair 

are a pair of grifters, 
famous con artists, sticky-
haired bandits—

who must be run out 
of this fragile frontier town.

And yet,
my desires, 
my hopes, my convictions? 

I know they, too, 
must be holed-up here somewhere—

living in our midst,
opening small businesses, 
slithering through church crowds—

and I am much less confident
what sort of men  
they are.


Friday, October 16, 2020

ALLOWANCE

There's a message 
for us, written perhaps

in the shapes
of old elm trees—

who never grew 
their limbs so sturdy 

intending to harbor families
of starling refugees;

whose uppermost branches 
were never conscientious 

with regard to the fragility 
of a fledgling bee colony;

whose proud trunk 
was never so determined 

to unburden the squirrel 
in her private den of rest. 

And yet? 
And yet, nevertheless—


Thursday, October 15, 2020

MAKING THE BEST OF IT

What do you say 
when it's 
not even gray out

but blank—
as if 
the destitute landscape painter, 

in her mad rush 
to make windblown autumnal trees,
forgot to give the sky a color?

You may discuss it 
with the neighbor,
or the florescent grocer 

whose volubility 
is automated 
as the wind in those trees;

or, you may 
say nothing to anyone, choosing 
to remain

undeclared on the subject, 
honing your inevitable 
inaudibility,

practicing craving 
this muteness— 
as the day does.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

ON A DARE

How do we, even on a dare, 
call this everywhere?—

as if we're not still 
all trapped in here 
with the double-edged stars. 

It's as if each of us, 
burning after privacy,
has built our own house—

our foreordained blunders, its 
inviolable walls.

Each of us, for once, 
wants to be
the only one who does the wanting;

who feasts on the night air, 
on the integers, on tomorrows. 

We have risked the keeping of a secret ledger, 
an unscrupulous balance 
of doubt and contentment,

apprehended the fealty 
of its dog-eared corners
to our present-day predicaments.

We have learned to take snifters 
of liqueur in our coffee—

to insulate 
the incoming bitterness  

from the imminent 
underlying sorrow.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

LIKE MAD

          Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
               -Søren Kierkegaard


Happiness is not 
what you thought it was 

the moment 
you first slithered up 
from the dross.

The security 
you sought bartered 
courage as the cost.

Now you're most surely 
as alive 
as you're lost:

hopping—at best, 
rock to rock, 
lily pad to lily pad, 

hoping to stick 
the next slimy landing;

ecstatic when you manage,
every pore tingling with the zest 

of once again having 
skirted 
certain damage—but only 

for a second, 
and never 

having done so
in the same manner twice.


Monday, October 12, 2020

CRITERION

Ceramic cup—
you whose wherefore is
to be filled-up;

you who deigns 
to contain 
whatever we say you contain;

you who were built 
to capitulate, 

built
to be scalded, 
scrubbed, and hung 

upside-down until you've forgotten 
any traces of 
yesterday's freight;

you who never gets 
to keep what is given,

whose finitude 
is all of you, 

whose limit 
has been built right in—

how is it 
your capability 
never wanes,

and yet you still refuse to hold 
our trespasses 
against us?


Friday, October 9, 2020

NUCLEAR OPTION

The implications
of some things  
stubbornly persist, 

while others we wish 
would remain 
considerable, diminish.

The birth dates 
of lovers who have 
long since departed 

are filled with turmoil every year, 
yet we cannot recall 
a grandmother's eye color. 

This is just the way 
significance works:
It does not care if you support it.

Somehow, with every new 
earth-like planet 
that's discovered, 

scientists 
grow a little bit 
less enthusiastic,

public opinion,
a little more certain—instead 
of the opposite.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

THE DAY

From dark gray 
to pale robin's eggshell—
the day 

slides into view 
like an empty ceramic plate 
across a black granite table.

It is made (if it was made)
to contain within its edgeless 
and unblemished perimeter 

the delusory errata,
the sloppy aberrations,
the fine-toothed regimens 
of billions.

(If it was made), it is made 
of one, single, solid, 
finely-machined material;

an impossible material
which cannot be mishandled—

cannot be dropped, melted,
smashed, frozen, or 
otherwise destroyed.

Although it is continually 
replaced, each one 
is ageless;

it will never tarnish 
or rust,

could never by mislaid, 
or lost,

or, least of all, 
thrown away.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

CONSTITUTIONAL

Lately, as the dried tips 
of everything 
sharpen, 

as the orange things 
turn vermilion 
and the coppers 
grow browner, 

the ellipses
in which I wander 
have been growing commensurately  
wider and wider.

Combing through 
the honed decay of old streets 
is a grim sort of pleasure, 

though I am not really out there 
looking for anything;
I am merely rehearsing 
(and trying to memorize)

that feeling of finding 
precisely what you're looking for—

so that, if my chanciest meeting 
with the vivid color of awareness 
I'm so hungry for

should finally occur,
I shall find myself 
so well prepared 

that I'll keep walking past it 
like I don't even care.


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

THE PICKLE

I know how badly 
you just want to take 
the gamble
and grab onto this fiercely
with your own bare hands; 
to cup the thing 
tight, to feel its 
full weight 
and cool slimy girth 
in the center of your palm.
But the truth is, 
it's best to remain calm 
and dispassionate.
If you don't want 
to startle it—
or compromise the safety 
of your own skin
in the process—
you must proceed 
with caution 
and a sidelong glance—
and only once
it's been given to you freely—
and never forget 
the supreme importance 
of holding it always
by the handle.


Monday, October 5, 2020

DAILY YOGA

Forget the tall mountains 
and the sun salutations—

sometimes, the tension 
of another slab of morning 
following the last

already feels  
like a pretty large stretch; 

sometimes you pose 
like an obdurate child 

when the shower sprays cold 
and the internet's out; 

sometimes 
you can balance on that 
sword-tip of a moment 

before floss pierces gums
and razors hits stubble;

and sometimes, the most stable 
thing in your life—

is a while bowl 
filled with black plums 
in the middle of the table.


Friday, October 2, 2020

REFUGE

Restless at dawn, I abandoned 
all the stray thoughts I'd been hoarding, 
ventured outdoors, 
and followed the sound—

and soon found 
the robin 

flitting from deep within 
a small, frost-coated boxwood. 
The Implications 

of words
became superfluous; she was 
at home.




Thursday, October 1, 2020

WISH FULFILLMENT

Dry sidewalk leaves 
crunching brightly beneath 
beat-up Chuck Taylors—

what sweeter reminder  
could you need?
Destiny 

is neither 
distant nor profound; 
the world to come will come

for free—it's grandest mythologies 
will lie about you 
everywhere.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

VENTURE

In the gingerly cooled
and stiffening air, 
it has become so clear—

the bronzed sweetgum leaves
gently streaming 
from their slender trees, 

mellow and lonesome 
as the strain of a distant 
solo violin,

have wended down here 
just to rehearse with us—
in a generous preview 

both of loss and 
of unsought accumulation—
the spareness 

and the mortal grandeur 
of winter's quietly 
coming dream.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

WRONG SPEECH

You say 
words cannot wound—
this is part 
of your business model.

You insist that they last 
only in as much 
as the moment endures 
in a photo.

And it's true,
one by one, the odd syllables 
are spoken, 

with only the most current note 
striking in our ears.

And yet, somehow the last 
does not quite vanish (as it should) 
to make way for the new;

each becomes a stitch 
in a funereal suit 
you are sewing, 

a gaudy swoosh 
in the corporate logo 
which now threatens 
to outlive you.


Monday, September 28, 2020

THE SLIGHTEST

Remember, dear passenger—
it's never the huge gusts 

that maneuver our vessels 
ever closer to their shores;

it's wasn't those monstrous 
atomic blasts, 

or the exhalation of gargantuan 
authoritarian breaths 

that smashed and fused vast 
tectonic plates together, 

or ruffled-up the sea foam
of all seven oceans, 

or ripped to shreds 
every flag on the planet. 

Rather, it has always been 
the humblest puff 

of patient explanation  
that got us where we were going;

the kind words, delicate whispers 
and quiet, inconsolable sighs 

which have cracked granite mountains, 
stirred hurricane-winds into action,

and caused cumbrous hearts 
to fail—or else, rise to such occasions 

as would seem to the common chests 
which dared to contain them 

as far too enormous, 
too convoluted, too labyrinthine 

to have been the plain, inevitable results 
of such tiny perturbations.  


Friday, September 25, 2020

VOYAGER

Spider on the ceiling, 
encroaching 

on my brooding—
I have decided
I will let you live 

since you remind me, I too 
possess the ability 

to stay silent 
and remain calm 

in this upside-
down world,
which has taken it for granted 

that some would be willing
to risk everything.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

SEPTEMBER CHORALE

The triplet caw
of a crow,
conducting from somewhere
in the gaunt September shadows,

keeps ruthless time
as our daily routine marches
into the ragged and
dwindling scenery.

We are not afraid
to take part in making
this wraithlike elegiac music.
We had rehearsed this;

cessation was expected—
the swelling 
of the vines foretold,
the acrid smoke of bonfires

as the cool dusks clamped down
harder and faster,
with the thud of a grand
piano lid.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

THE COMPRESSOR

After spending the morning 
dawdling in the kitchen, 
you cannot help but 

come to resent 
the frequent engagement 
of the fridge's compressor...

How many of these things 
are running in the world, you wonder 
and quickly Google the answer—

1.4 billion plugged-in refrigerators;
1.4 billion spinning motors, 
cooling milk, meat, raspberries, cucumbers...

savagely burning 300 million year-old coal... 
perhaps to preserve the priceless medicines
which save the lives of countless strangers.

How is it, then, 
that you could still think 
one off-day, or one idle hour— 

one unclean utterance, 
or even a single undisciplined breath—
doesn't matter?


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. 


Friday, September 4, 2020

HIDE

Under sun 
under stars 
under rain 

root vegetables—
fields of them, 

hideous things—
hide 
in the tremulous cool September soil 

like the face 
of a master 
inside his painting 

growing, siphoning, absorbing, 

waiting—
like you have 

and I 
did—as schoolchildren

for the soon-to-come time 
when we might meet 
the sky 

and their hands
unafraid

and finally 
be worth more 
than our weight.


Thursday, September 3, 2020

INSIGNIFICANCE

These days, 
I hear a lot of voices, 

all of which sound
a bit like mine, 

saying—hush,
it is not trivial 

to let your hair grow 
just a little while longer, 

to reuse this Ziploc 
a thirtieth time,

to give to the spider 
a push to keep living 

by placing a sheet of notebook paper 
beneath its spiny appendages. 

I am not alarmed 
by the bleak minor key 

of these directions, finding it easier 
and easier to listen; 

The catch is—
there is only one lifetime 

and yet, there is 
so much of its vastness

to excerpt 
and to favor.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

FROM AUTUMN

Chalk it up to bitter-
sweetness—how

end-of-the-line, 
for the green things, 

always means 
a flowering.



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

IMAGINE

Setting aside that song 
of John Lennon's, 
let's imagine (for a second)
there is a heaven—
one hundred and seven 
billion individuals: 
blissful, well fed, 
well met, and well protected; 
no crying at parties or 
sexual tension;
no one undervalued or 
starved for affection;
none struggling 
to thrust spears 
tipped with pressure-
heated viewpoints
against the pallid weak flesh 
of ignorance, nonchalance, 
hate, and discrimination;
no misanthropes striving 
against existential 
doubt or cultural oppression 
to create meaning 
for themselves or inflame 
their generation. Go ahead,
imagine it. I wonder
if you can 
without feeling upon 
your lips and your hands 
the cold kisses 
and limp handshakes—
without seeing and hearing
tasting and smelling
all the beige paintings 
and slow boneless dances, 
the bland food and sad flat 
champagne in glasses, 
all the tuneless
songs they'd be playing, 
and the pages and pages 
of flowerless, moonless,
childless, useless 
poems about amity 
you would get.


Monday, August 31, 2020

SCRIBBLED IN THE CUSTOMER RECEPTION AREA

How long have I been here? 
Have I been here before? Presently,
I find the distinction itself
confusing—the ontological trick 
between coming and going. 

I attempt zen—to sit noiseless and still, 
indistinct as the wallpaper.
But my mind will not relax; 
it waxes, as a moon does, to engulf 
in blue scorn, this slim pretense of a room.

Yet for all of this righteous aggression,
I do not know (and cannot fathom)
why each minute slips past me
as slowly as an open 
parachute descending,

nor would I even begin to suspect
the hostile nature
of the territory below, to which 
each precious one of them is now
prayerlessly falling.


Friday, August 28, 2020

REASONS TO KEEP WRITING

Because words 
are dull, 

heavy, 
old as stones—

but stone 
can be cut 
and formed 

and used 
to make bridges. 

And those bridges 
which connect us, 

our best instructors 
taught us 
to call metaphor.

*

Because there, 
in the shadow, 

in the shade 
of our doubt, 
grows

the carrot
we will follow 

through another day's 
wasteland.

*

Because 
the light which bathes the world 

comes in curves 
tens of millions of years long,
so complex 

and absurd
it'd ruin us
to perceive it. 

Yet—
the derivative of light 
is heat, 

and heat's 
is scent, 

and scent's, capricious
taste in melody; 

for instance,
the accelerating velocity 
of birdsong.

*

Because all the great music 
that exists 
in the world 

to us, still isn't nearly 
as good
(or as much) 
 
as the music 
that, as of yet, 
doesn't.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

RIVERWALK

Early in the morning, and
the sun's begun singing,
her rays, tangled up in 
coagulant clouds;

and the breeze by the river 
feels to me more like 
bad breath than mere air

as I walk along the wrinkled planks 
repeating without speaking 
old bits of conversation—

and thinking how words 
are too small, or too dense, 
or too disjointed;
they are like calcified fossils 
of the feelings 
which once walked,
and talked, and pointed.

But still I lope, greedy 
and shameless as a convict,
keeping those words both 
intimately close 
and deviously hidden 

like contraband 
underneath my tongue 
on my way back in 
to some solitary prison. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

ABSOLUTION

Mere words 
on the air—what 
could be frailer? 
But 

just to have 
such thoughts as this 
must be proof 
of your existence.

Maybe, poems
say things, 
and maybe prayers
are things; for here

your sentence 
becomes my jail,
your sin, my penance—
isn't that a coincidence? 


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

THE AUGUST ENDING

Heavy—presently almost too heavy  
with every enviable 
kite-soaring memory 

and each tiny rain spatter from
tenderest June through this 
blessedly pregnant pause of a moment—

a bloated, swollen, 
torpid finality;
its attendant musk mantle

settles and clings
to the drooping tomatoes—
all roped to their stakes now, like 

crucified deities 
on the brown mounded Golgothas 
of neighbors' back lawns.


Monday, August 24, 2020

MEDITATION AS A STRATEGY

Thinking back on it, 
the being 
in the moment—

the movement 
of the breath 
on the face of the water;

the double-helixed ecstasy 
and terror of no tomorrow, 

the pure synchronic 
collapse of infinity, 

and the man 
with no head left 
smoldering on the alter;

no swirling fragment, 
no rainbow-colored 
shard of that fantastic incident—

in fact, no such trial 
or encounter whatsoever—
ever truly mattered 

nearly as much as 
the story
to told about it later 


Friday, August 21, 2020

ORDINARY INSIGHT

If you could ask 
the great monk 
at the top on the hill
who won't speak, 
who's stick-thin;
the one
with the serious-
ly mutilated skin—
so pure, it 
bleeds steam—
why he thinks it's 
so fundamental
to yolk one's life to rigor 
and masochistic exactness; 
you might be pleasantly 
taken aback 
by the logic, direct-
ness, and banality
of the answer:
the best reason 
to come 
so fully committed 
to the cuffs, 
he insists,
is because it makes it 
so much more fun 
to covet skinny wrists 
and fetishize keys.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

AT THE FARMERS MARKET

Smashed 
into those
fuzzy cardboard plats of 
medicine-bottle-green,  

the blueberries—
the very last of the season 
lying on the table,
shrunken and bloodied

like promises I have neither kept 
nor broken yet,

like the people among us out here
who have already come through 
too much 
this summer.

I long to take them home;
get them out of the sun, 

to plunge them deep 
into the back of the freezer

and halt their decomposing.
I would pay anything—

but no,
I should keep walking.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

YES, YOU

Just think, 
out of all the billions 
which have ever existed, 

I wrote these words 
only for you.
The consequences of this

are swift
and automatic;
right now, you 

are not you;
You are a vestibule, 
a gateway, an antechamber;

and I 
am in love 
with the whites of your eyes

for receiving, 
and holding, 
and reflecting these letters.

For it's true—
when our souls flutter out 
past their parts, past their matter

love 
is the only reaction 
that is possible.

Maybe transmission 
sparks enough 
for understanding;

maybe 
this world 
isn't so awful.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

OPPORTUNIST

We've been taught 
never to make 
a simple thing complicated—

get to the bottom 
of it quickly, always 
praise the core.

But maybe,
time doesn't just accumulate 
like rain;

maybe time burrows 
and surfaces 
like a mute and blind earthworm.

And maybe
the way we love 

is contradictory 
and feeble 
as a skinny brown bird—

razor-eyed 
but patient,

demure 
(from the binoculared 
eyes of the beholder),

but cursed 
with a dinosaur's 

entrails inside—a rash 
compulsive carnivore. 


Monday, August 17, 2020

FOR NAUGHT

Last night, I awoke 
from the dream 
of a poem 

whose music was so 
candid 
and complete

there was no need 
to write it down.
I should have known 

this morning, 
when I bounded with
the all the speed of a mountain

to commit it;
it would simply come out 
as a jangling thanks

and straightforward 
recognition—
that I now always have this

sweet, unblemished 
memory 
to recount.


Friday, August 14, 2020

NOT A LIFE STORY

By the time it's over, I hope
to have made of my life 
a painting, 

wide 
and tall and
hung at eye-level,

so as to be viewed immediately
upon entering through the doorway—
such that 

no one 
may come
to see what I've done, 

since I will be always 
in the midst of doing it 
suddenly, totally, all at once.



Thursday, August 13, 2020

STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT

Perhaps, this love 
we've so often demanded 

was never minted 
to sustain us.

Perhaps love is no form 
of currency at all;

but rather, a process,
like nuclear fusion—

that life-giving suicide 
which powers the sun—

in which two individuals, 
breathless and speeding, 

collide and expire,
in the name of creating 

not just a rarer element, 
but enough heat and light 

to make the lives 
of billions of others, 

however imperceptibly,
a little more survivable.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

RECIPE

One grain, one syllable, 
one breath at a time:
the dead become words—

and words, over 
centuries, change  
to information—

and information 
is the catalyst which
ferments questions 

into theories—
which congeal 
to prescriptions 

before eventually, 
under tremendous pressure, 
dissolving into legends.

Meanwhile,
the temporarily-alive  
are starving 

and cannot survive 
on the juice extracted 
from disaster,

or on the hopeful fumes 
of stories—even those of loaves 
and fishes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

HOW TO RAISE KIDS

First, you admonish them 

for having filthy hands, 
for crawling on their bellies, 
and never wearing shoes.

Then—after they learn to stand up, 

to clean up 
and suit up,
and say they believe you—

then, you sell them sanitizers, 
autonomous cars, 
and mink oil polishes—

all with no doubt 
as to the cleanliness 
of your conscience. 


Monday, August 10, 2020

GIVEN

Let us not, in the red face 
of the heat 
and our struggles, 

say nothing at all 
in the service 
of reverence;

let us instead quest
for the generousness  
to admit—

that beauty 
should exist 
far beyond its utility

in the hideous way 
our pangs are made manifest; 
this 

is what they
would have meant
by grace.



Friday, August 7, 2020

BAPTISMAL

Long ago—
perhaps 
the first time 

we were carried 
kicking inside—we should 
have realized

this cannot be right. 
That the truth 
was a sin,

and the sin 
is was truth.
That our bodies

were all weight 
and fat heat 
and fierce light.

While hell, 
on the contrary, 
felt like cold 

chrism 
and listless rooms.
Like asthmatic organ tunes,

and that cruel 
and repetitious symmetry 
of hymns.



Thursday, August 6, 2020

WHAT THE TREE TOLD ME

Roots deep 
in hell,

branch tips 
scraping heaven;

trembling 
with the littlest wind, 

stiff in the pose
of perpetual giving;

impossible
to kill,

but willing enough
to die 

again—
that is what it will take,

as season blunders 
into season,

if you ever expect 
to keep living.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

ENDURE

Day after day, 
rainstorm after rainstorm, 
afternoon 
after humid bluegray afternoon—

the avocado in the kitchen
(tough green, in memory, as 
the skin of an alligator) 
has been growing imperceptibly 
softer; 

but the large pit 
ensconced away at its center is 
hard as ever
and poison to eat. 

Take note of this, I think
to my own aggrieved species—
keep your composure;

there is nothing we can do 
in time 
but yield 
to one another,

but never 
will they take 
our dark heart—that small enraged oval 
that none would dare conquer,

that is the part
which is ours.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

CONGRATULATIONS

We did not want
to be the raindrops 

falling 
on the plain—

same color
as the background,

so amorphous,
too mundane.

So we made our lives
complex

as the snowflakes—
delicate latticeworks

built around 
dirt specks; 

and now, none 
is like another—

just like 
every other.


Monday, August 3, 2020

STRAY

Little drifter, 
you've been a stray
a long time—

why not keep still, 
trust the gravity
in laughter, 

curl up 
on my scale 
and see what you weigh?

You've made oceans
of byways; why not 
spend the night? 

It is not true 
that you don't know 
what you want;

what you want 
is to know 
what it is you require,

to ripen into love 
with this thought,
or that one—doesn't matter;

what you need
is to grow 
a heart pain can poison

before you can fertilize
that heart's 
desire.


Friday, July 31, 2020

CHORUS OF NOTHING

Last night in a deepest 
ocean of sleep, 
I thought I
heard a brand new vowel—
a phonic so huge, I found
myself completely surrounded 
and pulverized 
by its reverberant sound,
the way one who 
had never seen the sun 
would certainly 
crumble to their knees after 
a lifetime underground —
a sound so complete, it listed 
all the nameless things 
which had never existed
in a code which broke itself 
even as it executed. 
I shuddered. It was like 
nothing the living have ever known, 
a death rattle
which persists for days
after the funeral. When I awoke, 
my apprehension 
was immense; I knew the voice
which I could no longer place
had been the 
remotest hope: a genuine
silence.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

THERAPY

How unbearable
life would be, if we 
were not free to 
rove pharmacies! To cruise 
aisles in grocery 
stores, choosing our favorite pre-
fabricated remedies. 
To hold in our fingers 
these objects of desire 
and crinkle the plastic 
while we read the smooth, reassuring
words on their packages.
Then, without any doubt
or delay whatsoever, 
to make them ours outright 
by transacting money
at a high sterile counter.
How giddy are we 
to take them home 
and bring them inside these weird 
slots where we live—
where we turn on a light 
(but not too many)
and begin to tear into them 
with everything we've got,
like a harried and desperate 
single parent 
whose ungovernable child 
cuts a more exquisite reflection 
then they'll ever feel ready 
to admit in a session.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

THE SAVED

In heaven, 
everything's great. They 
flit around saying 
congratulations, 
you made it 
to your destination.
Finally, there really is no 
tomorrow; nothing
comes later.
the light 
in the sky is so 
pure and eternal—
like it's always 
10 a.m; the sun
will never set.
The streets are gleaming; 
you quickly notice
there's no litter—
because there's no shopping bags,
and there's no such thing here
as yesterday's paper.
No one drinks coffee, 
because everyone's 
awake. 
If you'd like,
you can still close your eyes 
and imagine 
being happy, but 
you're never quite sure
if you've done it correctly,
since you're no longer able  
to make a mistake.



Tuesday, July 28, 2020

SAKURA

Only there, in the wind-painted
cloud-stained plein air
mute to reason,
conscious of everything

may the soul be released—
untethering from the body
like the dream of a memory 
in our memory of a dream:

the landscape artist, in
branding his canvas,
excluding Mount Fuji 

if, and only if, he 
is standing on 
Mount Fuji.



Monday, July 27, 2020

HESITATION

And then, 
when I looked once again 
at the whole presentation—

at the boundless light
and the thing with feathers, 
that creature 

who's freakish
visage I'd hated—
with just a second's 

more hesitation, 
a space opened 
up in my ossified acuity,

spacious enough 
for the thrum 
of ambiguity—so spacious 

I could no longer see 
the thing I was seeing, 
but instead, 

all I could see was the act
of my looking. All along,
I thought I knew 

what it took 
to alter one's outlook, but
only then realized 

to rewrite the future, I must have 
already 
redefined the past. 



Friday, July 24, 2020

A PATTERN OF NONINTERFERENCE

The clouds today 
look faint and 
far away as abstract concepts 

for which 
the listless living
have no uses—

the way their great
and beige-white plumages  
edge without care 

or consternation over boundaries 
into that opaque 
inconsequence of blueness, 

for one everlasting moment, has 
nothing to say—
which says something great 

about the shabby significance 
of the piece of that air 
which I've been using.



Thursday, July 23, 2020

BARRIERS

Suppose for a minute, 
you were 
one of those people 

who believes different 
truths on each
day of the week—

one night, the full moon 
would be 
made out of brie;

the next, the starlight 
would strike you 
so harshly, 

you'd be scared 
to so much as undress 
in the dark.

Would you know
the difference between 
love at first sight 

and life  
in a silo?
Would you be more

or less 
well-
contented than 

your counterparts
never to recognize 
the devil you know?


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

GREAT PAINS

In late July, when 
five o'clock is high noon 
and the sun on the blacktop 
is a sweaty mirage 
glimmering off in the vanishing distance,

the honey bee 
must be the only one working—

from the shade, I can see her
plumbing and scouring the 
depths of a sunflower 
tucked between wild dill 
tufts on the street corner. 

While everywhere about her, 
huge titans and terrible monsters 
stew in their own torpor, 
she spirals ever-closer 

to the sweet center 
of the gently oscillating flower—
the perfect still point
a swiftly-turning universe—

and there, in the bruised heart
of all delicacy 
and nature's fragility unfurled,

spitting and sucking 
and needling her pincers, 
assiduously makes the most of our 
overused world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

IMPOSSIBLE JIGSAW

When you were little 
you believed in
as much as you were given, 
but the rest 
was left to clenched 
fists, uneven glances, and
secretive curses.
Whether the universe 
unfurling 
without much direction 
in your tender imagination 
was built by 
brute forces, or
(per the fancier verses)
finessed into place
by a fussy designer,
the only thing
that mattered 
at night when they 
snuffed out the candle 
was not 
how many more pieces 
you'd discovered 
today were missing,
but how on earth 
you were ever 
going to make it 
until tomorrow
without a quick peak
at the puzzle box cover.




Monday, July 20, 2020

A GREATER REPUBLIC

No paradise 
all by itself, but 

no Utopias 
without it; 

brutalize 
those friendly saints, 

unfreeze their 
faultless minions,

and open wide the death 
row gates—

The Poem 
is no one's enemy.
 

Friday, July 17, 2020

ANESTHETISM

To the ears 
of the world-weary, the 
ascetic life 
sounds wonderful, 

but something horrible 
is smuggled into 
the perfect love 
of the angel.

Upon closer inspection, 
the saint's meek austerity 
is a bit too severe; 
the blazon martyr may fare better. 

You may say 
you grow tired 
of arguing til dawn
or fighting war with gusto,

but you'd never dare
disavow the passion 
and the feeling
and the ardor. Truth is,

in the bid for perfection,
it's the devoted 
who risk going abstract
and toothless; I suppose

one must be more
than a touch ruthless 
to wear the crown they
call the halo.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

UNSPOILED

In the gilded precious 
future tense 

where every day 
is still 
a good day—

the mountains 
and rivers of our lives 

somehow mean more 
than they do
from our windows;

and yet much less
than they signify in prose.

On that unspoiled day
which is not 
today, nothing 

is the same 
as before 

and everything 
is the same as before—
except 

we scald the teapot
and steep the leaves, 

and even the dregs 
are poetry.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

HARMONICA TUNE

I am no catch—stony as I am 
and stuck 
for the increasing duration 
in this lonesome prison made 
of unrequited destiny.

It's not as if any of this 
is your fault;
you are not the judge-and-jury, 
nor the one who 
carries the keys. But still,

each time that you speak, or 
so much as knock 
against my friendless 
ingress with your eyes, somewhere inside 
me, a lock releases.



Tuesday, July 14, 2020

QUARANTINE REDUX

From innocuous corners, untold places 
in the hundreds 
of millions

the wind's shifty whispers wash 
over the cities, 

spinning 
and blurring and 
turning these long days

to the rhythms 
of the rumors 
which are 

slowly 
eroding our lives.



Monday, July 13, 2020

PUTTING ON THAT OLD ALBUM

How is it 
that there is still a word for this?
The quantized width 
and depth of your bits 

entering me, explicitly,
at many 10s of 1000s of cycles per minute,
eliciting a unique chemical response, 
depending

much less 
on the fragile and windswept vagaries 
of your erstwhile intent 
than the metamorphosed truth of 

my present situation; what it feels like 
to listen, again and again,
to the exact same missive
amid hundreds of disparate 

days of this sprawling, unorganized 
mess of a generation, I am glad 
not to be able to express.
As is so often the case, I try 

some of your lyrics 
on for the occasion—breathlessly 
moving my lips around, feeling
your words in my mouth. 

Friday, July 10, 2020

THE BRAVE FISH

Remember.
The exact 

way in which 
you matter 

could never 
have been imagined 

by the genius 
of the past.

There was 
no way to know 

which minnow 
would be the brave fish of evolution

or into which rivulets 
each droplet would flow.

Just like now—
at the bleeding-

skin thinness 
of this moment—

how there's no profit
in diminution, 

no sense 
either in disavowing

or wriggling back 
to the ocean.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

PERFECT KNOWLEDGE IS A DEATH SENTENCE

You think 
you want 
to know the truth, 

but you haven't 
thought it through.

When ambiguity  
becomes exhausted,
potentiality 

is also lost.
Does the color blue 
have an origin story?

Could the universe 
in which 
all possibilities are bound

compound 
in meaning
on top of itself?

I would not keep  
my fingers crossed.

Hope is 
being tossed

down a pit 
which is infinite—

fear is 
that it's not.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

ECLIPSES

Remember how disappointed 
you must have been to learn
that the orbits of the planets 
are elliptical, not circular—

that the backyard bees don't really
hibernate, they just 
freeze to death in the winter—
that heroes and villains exist 

on a post-hoc spectrum, 
and not as some good-verses-
evil dialectic? With what perturbation,
then, do you think you'll react 

when you once again find, 
at the end of the line, that actually
nothing you ever believed in 
was wrong?—your most stubborn 

superstition, your lighthouses 
of love for those ships long gone—
none of these fictions were destroyed 
or disappeared; they merely 

became blocked from view 
by some mutable purpose 
which was either larger, or emerged 
in closer proximity to you.



 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

POEM FOR 3 PM

It might be coming to pass 
even as you read this—
in this hottest and waviest 
season of dearth,
when all your intentions 
lie around the backyard in piles 
like construction materials
coated in dust 
and the fecund smell of dill is hanging
like a sticky net in the air—
this is the late-afternoon 
moment you realize
you're not going 
to get anything useful done. 
Your brains are turning
to coils of sprinkler hoses; or else, 
they've just been swapped out 
for the last two old nectarines 
left at the market—
so bruised, they must 
be kept artificially 
cool at all times 
to slow the spreading 
blush of their bruises
before the sweetness rots
from the inside out,
and even the smell of it 
is hell enough 
to ruin you.

Monday, July 6, 2020

MEANWHILE IN GUYVILLE

Even after years of feigning
exile and alarm
waking up outside bodegas  
on blocks where he doesn't belong 

he still can't resist hiding
exactly where he's hidden
riding out the verse and chorus,
waiting for the coda.

In math, he's the inverse 
of what you'd call an absconder
sticking to the same path he's
already beaten

and waiting, half-hearted
for his turn to repeat 
the line that he's never done 
anything wrong—

not like those fuckers in 
the Liz Phair songs. And yet, 
he's the one still going
up on his tiptoes 

superstitious and secretly 
past your old mailbox, 
because he's too self-conscious 
to write anything longer

than an open mic poem about 
never sending letters 
or drinking your brand of soda again—let alone 
something stronger.


Friday, July 3, 2020

THE COST OF LIVING

It is only the righteous
who survive 
long enough 

to watch 
their luscious goals 
and the ripe sweetness of deeds 

ferment 
over time to 
the spoonable mush 

they may keep in a mason jar
and call
hopes and dreams.

Wealthy 
and sectarian 
though they may be, 

they still understand 
the universal 
value of a bargain—

those featureless angels 
who watch over their children
day after day 

may work 
without pay, but they've 
still got to eat.




Thursday, July 2, 2020

SOLO GYMNASTICS

People will say 
I'm dreadful-
ly boring 

and dry 
as a newspaper 
strung on a clothesline 

and only willing 
to paint inside 
the lines with 

proprietary utensils 
the color of eggshells. 

I would retort 
that they
must not consider 

the hell 
that I suffer 
every day 

to keep every moment
precisely the same. 

Trying to maneuver 
and manipulate 
one's body 

into all the same places
at the same times of day 

over and over 
without falling back
on the nets of despair 

requires flair
and some remarkable 
poise under pressure. 

In short,
no game demands
greater concentration 

than threading 
the needle
of remaining unchanged. 

It may not be glorious 
or attract 
many spectators, 

but mine is a sport 
full of high-wire balance

for which 
only the chastened
have got enough patience.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

MISDIRECTION

Let this poem stand 
in relation
to the truth 

the way a mirror 
in a magic act 
can apprehend 

reality: as a fiction, 
as a fantasy 
which distorts me

and conceals you
while it gleams
in the quiet wings, 

slanted off at
forty-five degrees 
to validity. 

No stanza is there
to explain 
how the things work—

each was manufactured
to bring you 
where you would not go 

ordinarily. The words 
are quartz and silica;
the sentences pass 

and dissipate 
like smoke.
And the premise 

isn't even happening—
now you see it, 
now you don't.



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

LIGHT CONVERSATION

The question 
is always:
does a whole thing 
exist? Or 
is everything made
of pieces? 
Those photons 
(in the billions)
lightly flitting 
against your delicate 
skin right this 
minute, for instance—
are they just
an extension 
of the sun?
Do all the stars 
in the heavens, 
for that matter, 
as buttons 
on the same jacket, 
really deserve 
to be called facets
of the same thing 
which, 
by its own volition, 
of its own 
good graces, 
and ceaselessly 
in its entirety, simply 
reaches? 


Monday, June 29, 2020

LATE JUNE POEM

with a shadow that grows 
like mold
and a shudder that passes 

quick as snakes 
through the dingy buildings 
and tired piles of construction dust 

the sharp cold rain, 
for one stupendous moment
peels sideways through the city streets

and soaks you 
cleanly 
through your shirt―

and after, under clammy hair 
and orange-yellow skies, 
you're surprised 

and delirious to find you're 
alive 
and unhurt.

Friday, June 26, 2020

FLAGELLATE

Somewhere inside, you know 
the ground 
you meander around on

is practically vertical—
but you 
don't really.

Really, you think 
you're on top of things, 
you think 

you can hide, you can run;
you think you're stuck
or sinking. 

But none of these 
circumstances 
makes a lick of sense from 

the superior perspective—
where, 
no matter what you do, 

no matter where you go
or how you live, 
you're an infinitesimally 

tiny protozoan 
faced with the prospect 
of certain grim death—and yet

there you are clinging 
to your crucible's face 
and lashing your flagellum 

with the strength 
of a billion 
neutron stars exploding 

and to the amusing—
perhaps maybe even 
a little inspiring,

but highly illogical—
thought
of surviving.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

THE PROBLEM WITH LOGICAL POSITIVISM

Would you be 
surprised to learn 
that every furtive freckle 

held like a secret 
in the innermost petals 
of one particular pink-white lily 

might map exactly 
onto the stars 
of a certain distant constellation 

visible to seafarers 
in the Arctic Ocean each December
and born nine billion years in the past?

Or would you be 
even more impressed 
to know that 

no one has ever inspected each one 
in a wretched attempt 
to rule it out?


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

AGE OF REASON

It's inevitable, practically 
iron-clad as gravity: 
one day, you 
will speak the truth,
and nobody will listen.
We tend 
to call this kind of 
lawful obsolescence
senility—but really
you're not crazy;
it's just that the words 
you'll be using 
to compose your confession
won't mean anything 
to the creature 
who's guarding you—
let alone to the warden 
of the prison.



Tuesday, June 23, 2020

STAY SWEET

They say it can only pay
to stay on the sunny side 
and always assume everything's 
going to go your way. 

Why even think about that day 
when your car will not start
because, last night, the rats moved in 
and chewed your engine wires to bits?

In just the same way, 
you've got to keep waking up 
and insisting on using your 
heart to make the key decisions,

always presuming
it hasn't yet rotted—like a June peach 
shrinks around its 
pit—in your sleep.

Monday, June 22, 2020

NO END TO THE ENDLESS

Just when you think 
you can't lose 
any more luck,

when the worseness 
of things 
cannot be increased—

when you're as soaked 
to the bone 
from the oncoming storm 
as you can possibly be—

when you think you've lost count 
of the number of pain receptors, 
multiplied by the versions of you
in alternate universes—

something as simple 
as the distance 
between 0 and 1 
verses 1 and 100 
expressed in integers  

rises 
like another moon 
in your brain
to remind you: 

there's no end 
to the endless;

infinities 
can yet be added 
to infinities.

And even though the realization 
doesn't go 
any deeper, 

you cannot help but 
realize it again 
and again,

as you gawk 
at the endless sky 

and the boundlessness 
of your hopelessness 
increases.

Friday, June 19, 2020

AUTHORITIES

They used to say—
surrender your life 

and your life 
will never end.

Now, we know better 
than to let the feckless 
speak for us. 

We have leapt into being 
like the tip
on a match,

taken back 
the present tense, 

and perished 
the thought of living 
forever.

I don't know how I should 
feel about this yet,

says the militant head 
at the tip of my neck. 

Or—I don't want to go. 
Or—let me say that again.

I trust this oracle's 
intimations are correct

though no part of me as yet
can say how.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

ANXIETY IS THE DIZZINESS OF FREEDOM

So what's the matter 
with a will to live 
which is fixated only 

on the very 
next thing?

Would it really be a shock 
to discover 

your heart was a horde 
of butterflies?—
No wonder, 

the way it lusts 
and flutters 
and longs to play

(even though it knows 
for now, it is still 
on the clock).

I have always 
had a hunch 

that my mind 
is lopsided—but
in that primly aesthetic way,

like the limbs of a tree, 
which are perfect for climbing—

and that my attention, 
when gone astray, 
is thrilled

to be so out-to-lunch,
counting the trills 
of leaves in its branches, 

getting up to 1,
losing track—and then
starting over.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

STATUTORY

At this juncture, 
the thing in itself—
without smell, taste, or color 

may be genuine, 
but it 
just seems improper. 

It's like reality 
is that despicable defendant 

who says, maybe 
our particles 
were asking for it:

the way they gave up
their positions 
and velocities 
so easily!

*

We can't go on like this, 
seeking clues to the case
on brand-name tags, 

reading metaphors
like fact-checked newspapers,

with our collective sense 
of wonder so 
plainly exhausted.

We give up! 
Dear doctor, dear expert,
just tell us, already—

what is the spin 
of the electron 
responsible for this tantrum?

Who's odorless, tasteless, colorless physics 
are at the center 
of this intractable catastrophe?


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

NEW JOB

With little else to do 
I still choose to look 
around the city 

at condos, cars, 
concrete, 
wires—all repeating.

If all of this is a construct,
that's not so bad; 
at worst 

it's replaceable, 
and at best it's all mine. 
The responsibility 

is that of a 
solitary oyster, but the reward 
is that of a pearl.

Each word I form
is its own moment, 
poised at a starting line—

I touch my mind 
to the earth and originate 
the world;

then, I move my body 
through the space, and it organizes
time.



Monday, June 15, 2020

IMAGINARY

O, how we all like to talk 
in low voices
in front of large paintings—

or gawk at mountains 
burnished with sunlight
and exclaim 

we've been struck
by the elegance—
but this cannot be right.

For true beauty 
would not ever 
put words in our mouths 

or smiles on our faces;
It could not look
so familiar.

When it appears, 
it must appear
for the very first time;

it is not a construct 
bridgeable by simile. 
Neither could it be recognized,

for it is not returning here.
Beauty is as stardust—
it belongs only 

where it has come from—
never our midst, 
always somewhere else.

Friday, June 12, 2020

MEMORY IS A SKILL

Perhaps the sparrows
sitting up on the sagging 
wires above us

are neither praising 
nor blaming the day; 

maybe they 
keep making noises 
which are incomprehensible to us

because 
we keep expecting 

criticism.

*

For me, it's fun to talk 
about the weather 
with a neighbor

the way it's fun to play a game 
of Simon:

every contestant 
down here 
is in a fierce competition  

to put abstractions 
such as 2 and 2 
together—

just like every 
brutalized animal's 

pleasure center 
is still a sucker 

for a little pattern 
recognition.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

PASTORAL

With humidity 
on the decline, 

perfectly occasional 
cumulus clouds linger 
like doubts 

in the purest blue skies 
of a PG movie afternoon.

Not so far away, 
from fire and rage 
and fierce needles of rain

every man-made angle on the street is 
kissed and gleaming;

even the oncoming faces 
seem as if 
they have only just now appeared—

yet still, they look so familiar 
I'm afraid

I must be dreaming.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

SELF-TALK

There are mornings 
when that wild flutter 
of breeze 

which ruins the most delicate flowers 
defines for me 
the whole situation—

I shudder to think 
of my humblest requests 
being rejected, 

of such beauty hinging 
on such finitude.

I want to say 
to the bluster—
do your worst 

and 
I'm no prude

but I too have these lapses 
where I talk a streak, 
black-and-blue, 

but I'm not sure 
what I'm asking.

It's like I become my own 
colonial power 

and my body
no longer understands—
let alone

respects 
the mother tongue. 


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

CATCH 22

The teacher who said—
never begin 

a poem with 
"I remember"—

must have been 
exaggerating;

since now, all you can recall,
having ran 
rings around the world

and understood nothing 
as profoundly as ever, 

is waiting 
for the day's shadows to come

and completely cover 
your losses.

You were desperate 
to record
the exact syncopations 

of bricks and flowers, 
sidewalks and foliage, 

rising and falling,
almost like a language

in which someone had been
trying to pronounce your name correctly. 

In that moment, 
you only lived 
and breathed to preserve, 

so that another 
might understand in the future, 

how, just before 
the evening storm,  

those incessant bird calls 
sounded 
all the sweeter 

for having nothing whatever 
to do with you
or your urges.



Monday, June 8, 2020

PROCESSION

Life, the particle 
physicist says, 
is really just a process.

For the novelist, 
it's more like a faulty premise 
that goes on 

for as long 
as it can sustain 
an audience.

But both parties 
will insist, 
for a process to be real 

it has got to be 
witnessed. 

*

The truth is 
we don't want any so-called 
god-particles to exist; 

we don't want people 
to be made of pieces.

It's easier to posit 
god-forces 
and believe only 

in the invisible absoluteness 
of uncorrupted action.

Generally, I agree with this. 
Most days, 
I feel a lot less like Jesus

and a lot more 
like the force 
of Inertia itself—

so determined, 
no matter what 

I'm processing
(or not),
not to be interrupted. 



Friday, June 5, 2020

WORDS WITHOUT DEEDS

When what you took for angels 
were really made of pixels, 

it is probably time 
to wipe the drive and start over. 

When immediacy  
has been recruited, 

the present moment 
must be in retrograde.

Now, the shining algorithms blaze forth 
with a light that can never be extinguished,

curating all the white 
space that remains.

Was that last swipe an unconscious choice? 
or merely one of desperation?

because there no longer is any 
in-between. 

"Behind-the-scenes"
now describes a way of feeling.

Everything feels deliberate, 
even when it isn't.

Everything, even the present
document included, 

once came from the same 
fatherless nothing.



Thursday, June 4, 2020

TOWERS OF BABEL

Now, the last chapter 
has finally come; 

last chance to grab an arm 
and dance 
to the last song 

before the DJ
hauls the milk crates 
back to his van. 

Standing silently 
off to one side

and feeling  
self-conscious is
no longer a plan.

*

Every gesture has been inverted; 
all forms of inertia 
are now being called-out 

as bullshit 
or subversive 
or complicit 
or performative.

Turns out, collusion, 
not creation
has invented this world;

even the Prime Mover 
has been caught 

on that space telescope camera 
with his hands in his pockets 

and designs 
on some girl.

*

And to think—
all humanity 

once 
spoke the same language

and
was punished 
for its insolence.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

UNDESERVED

In lieu of flowers,
it might be 

gracious enough 
to consider how

right now, 
pure light 
from the end of the universe—

weightless waves
from nowhere—

are on their way 
here 

through the nothing 
that's there.

And yet, 
you and I can 
still get distracted 

by the words
like ads 
for what we don't have;

we will quibble 
about the shape of space 
like the fit of a new shirt 

and refuse to die 
without having first 
equivocated  

about the pedigree 
and color

of the nectar 
that's refracted.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

IGNORANCE

To put the matter 
delicately, 

this world we inhabit 
is an out of work actor

that can itself 
no longer afford 

the price of the bliss
in which it has been living.

We are guilt-
stricken tenants 

who insist
we've tried everything—

talking in circles 
darting our eyes—

still this terrible 
hunger persists.

When the churches 
were still open, 

they used to tell us
we're being tested; 

now it's as if 
we're being bitten 

and tasted—eaten alive
from the inside.


Monday, June 1, 2020

MISCONCEPTION

Somehow, the flames 
when viewed 
on a screen

look even 
more listless, but 
even more reliable;

they seem both 
frenetic 
and discretionary 

at the same time. 
It's as if 
we're remembering

that suffering 
wasn't invented; 
it had to be invited.

We might well 
have been thinking—
If only our bodies 

were as plastic as fire! 
if only our minds
were that pliable.



Friday, May 29, 2020

MEMORY BOX

To think—I am now sitting 
thoughtless
in the same kitchen 

in which I 
will have been standing 
then 

after I have deciphered 
my very next words.

*

These strange loops 
and chickenscratch x's 

may take on a prescient significance 
as imperceptibly 

as a snail 
secreting its shell. 

*

After the frame 
is in place, 

it's so difficult 
to remember 

It hasn't always been like this.

How do we expect to compete 
with the nostalgic stillframed past? 

Looking back, 
even every failure and deficiency 

was just so easy,
so precious,

so perfect.



Thursday, May 28, 2020

DOING EXISTENTIALISM

It's hard to resist.
Watching the news 

makes us go stiff—
makes us feel serious 

in the way 
stark poems 

or a Bartók quartet
used to.

Serious—
but not sober, 

like a sublime encounter 
with the terrifying existential 

power of the ocean;
the post hoc rationalization 

that nothing 
is personal, 

nothing is 
goal-directed,

nothing
is shocking

shocks us—
shocks us just 

hard enough 
to get off.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

EQUIVOCATION

Are we not
appeased

by the flutters of melody
coming from the 
parks and gardens—

by those peeling-
open faces 
of the peonies, 

the savvy darts of spiderwort
foxglove, lily of the valley, 

by the broad flat open 
palms of red hibiscus 

rippling in the spree 
of late May light 
and breeze—

are we not so
completely relieved

and reassured 
by all of these

that we've 
utterly forgotten 
why it is we need

such a repeated
and urgent
reassurance?


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

THE WORK IS STRANGER

I used to think, 
along with most: we were simply 
playing our roles.

We were dynamic characters 
surviving hardships 
and changing for the better.

Lately I have come to suspect 
the work is stranger 
and less glamorous than that—

we are living in the time 
after the movie has ended; 
that moment 

when, up through the field 
of uniform black,
the credits come scrolling.

Suddenly, we are not sure 
which one of these strange collections 
of symbols we were,

and the audience all have different ideas   
concerning when it's appropriate 
to get up and go.



Friday, May 22, 2020

FEELS

If I'm being honest 
it feels like 
the end game 

has already passed us
but time is still 
of the essence. 

It feels like 
I've never been more 
self absorbed 

or less attentive.
Like, if I'm not 
at least trying

to control 
my own thoughts
I will probably be seen

as more than a little 
gauche—so 
in lieu of meditation

I've been practicing 
my penmanship 
in reverse: 

first I write lost
followed by is 
and then all


Later on
I take a picture 
where I'm standing outside 

listening to traffic 
and feeling conspicuous—
it sounds less 

like applause 
than I had expected 
and more like 

the murmuring 
of an internet church—
how many followers do you have?


Thursday, May 21, 2020

THANKS SO MUCH

On behalf of myself and the rest 
of the crestfallen,

I would like to say thank you 
to the faded sprees of sidewalk chalk 

and the banana-yellow bouquets of balloons 
calmly deflating on front railings.

Thanks so much 
to the homemade posters 
hanging in the floor to ceiling windows 

expressing, in turn, their thanks 
to the others 
with rainbows and hearts and five-pointed stars.

Thanks to the brightness 
of the caution tape on the gates of the park, 

the minimalist art style 
of the new bus ads and billboards, 

and the soothing piano music 
playing in the giant 
conglomerates' internet commercials. 

Thank you for helping us 
come unstuck 
from our hamfisted grip on the statue quo—

because of you, 
it feels like we are finally giving up 

on those cumbersome beliefs 
we had carried around since childhood 

that life was eternal, and we 
were invincible.