Tuesday, June 30, 2020


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 
by its own volition, 
of its own 
good graces, 
and ceaselessly 
in its entirety, simply 

Monday, June 29, 2020


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 
through your shirt―

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

and delirious to find you're 
and unhurt.

Friday, June 26, 2020


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 
makes a lick of sense from 

the superior perspective—
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—
of surviving.

Thursday, June 25, 2020


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


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


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


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  

like another moon 
in your brain
to remind you: 

there's no end 
to the endless;

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 

Friday, June 19, 2020


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 

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


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


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


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

at condos, cars, 
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

Monday, June 15, 2020


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


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

we keep expecting 



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 

just like every 
brutalized animal's 

pleasure center 
is still a sucker 

for a little pattern 

Thursday, June 11, 2020


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


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 

I'm no prude

but I too have these lapses 
where I talk a streak, 

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

the mother tongue. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020


The teacher who said—
never begin 

a poem with 
"I remember"—

must have been 

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 
all the sweeter 

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

Monday, June 8, 2020


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 


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 
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


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 

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


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 

spoke the same language

was punished 
for its insolence.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


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 

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 

about the pedigree 
and color

of the nectar 
that's refracted.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


To put the matter 

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


Somehow, the flames 
when viewed 
on a screen

look even 
more listless, but 
even more reliable;

they seem both 
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.