Friday, July 31, 2020


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

Thursday, July 30, 2020


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


In heaven, 
everything's great. They 
flit around saying 
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 
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


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


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 
redefined the past. 

Friday, July 24, 2020


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


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 
contented than 

your counterparts
never to recognize 
the devil you know?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


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


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 
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


No paradise 
all by itself, but 

no Utopias 
without it; 

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


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


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—

we scald the teapot
and steep the leaves, 

and even the dregs 
are poetry.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


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


From innocuous corners, untold places 
in the hundreds 
of millions

the wind's shifty whispers wash 
over the cities, 

and blurring and 
turning these long days

to the rhythms 
of the rumors 
which are 

eroding our lives.

Monday, July 13, 2020


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, 

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 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


You think 
you want 
to know the truth, 

but you haven't 
thought it through.

When ambiguity  
becomes exhausted,

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

Could the universe 
in which 
all possibilities are bound

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


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


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


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


It is only the righteous
who survive 
long enough 

to watch 
their luscious goals 
and the ripe sweetness of deeds 

over time to 
the spoonable mush 

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

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


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


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.