Wednesday, September 30, 2020


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


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


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


Spider on the ceiling, 

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


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


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


I am not bragging, 
but the self-thrashing 

which I still find 
the easiest 

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


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


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


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


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.

Two forms of comfort.

By pining 
over either, already you realize 
you are losing the crux 
of them both.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


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


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


Under sun 
under stars 
under rain 

root vegetables—
fields of them, 

hideous things—
in the tremulous cool September soil 

like the face 
of a master 
inside his painting 

growing, siphoning, absorbing, 

like you have 

and I 
did—as schoolchildren

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

and their hands

and finally 
be worth more 
than our weight.

Thursday, September 3, 2020


These days, 
I hear a lot of voices, 

all of which sound
a bit like mine, 

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


Chalk it up to bitter-

for the green things, 

always means 
a flowering.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020


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.