Friday, October 30, 2020

GLOAMING

Words 
cannot place it

the littlest hairs 
in an ear 
cannot miss it

the larger-than-life shadows 
of the gaunt noisy crows 
careening west over scabrous 
textures cannot save it—

the opacity 

the density 

the trueness of the day 

the moment just before 
it starts to be called
night.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

REST

Only once 
it was over 
did life come, 

as a teeter totter,  
to be hung 

at its
simplest equilibrium.

In the midst 
of the jostling 
and the opposition 

and the leverage, 
was it much
too much fun?

or just too difficult
to admit—

I was much closer 
in position

to the 
rest of us
than I wasn't.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

BESIDES

There are so many things 
I only think 
I understand

until I stop and consider—
this life, 

overexamined, 
overrefined, 
overdetermined.

These trees 
I brush past 
in a flurry every morning 

which have stood here 
unafraid of the ignorant
wind for much longer,

never wondering, 
when will this rain end—

where does the sun go—

what else is there?



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

LEADING TONE

If you spend 
a minute to think 
more about it, 
no minute 
is ever the last
minute, since  
there's always 
another minute 
waiting behind it. 
Every last note 
in the scale leads back 
to the tonic.
So what if 
the fate of this 
planet is definite?
time is still 
infinite; new ticks 
will kick old ticks 
off the clocks 
for the rest of it. 
Even the last moment
of your life 
is not the end of it:
what you think 
of as "terminal"
is really just
penultimate.


Monday, October 26, 2020

INCUMBENT

Though you say 
you want nothing, 
you continue to wait—
like a refugee waits.

Though you maintain 
that you're finished, 
that you just want 
to leave, 

you continue to think
that a shape with no center
is a Cartesian waste 
of Euclidean space.

Though you cannot sleep, 
you still could not dream 
the half of this harrowing 
state if you tried;

its expressways, riddled with 
their nondescript exits 
are so familiar 
you could drive without eyes, 

but the great and gripping 
strangeness 
of the place you were made 
will beg you to stay.


Friday, October 23, 2020

MOUSETRAP

My eyesight now—
and my conviction 
that it's never too late 
to be taught;

the light of October
as I trudge on, lost in thought—
all bound-up and shrouded 
in swaths of cloudy gauze;

the sweetgum trees 
at the end of the street—
weeping without discretion 
their yellowed spears of leaves;

their faint shoulders passing 
my bleak eyes in the rain, 
slumped already with the dolor
of a thousand grim winters.

This world 
is a mousetrap. 
A wily seduction—

things seem weaker than they really are. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

HOUND DOG

Whatever chills your warm-
blooded heart, 
stiffens the lithe little 
shadow of your soul,

I have caught you 
acting bold
now and again on our
walks around town—

as if you cannot 
help but follow 
the lead of your 
misbehaving nose;

as if bravery,
for you, were less a compulsion
than an instinct—
a default rather than a goal. 

As if, though 
many bright and strongly-scented
leaves adorn the ground, 
you somehow prefer 

to gaze into trees—
to lift your snout 
and search up, and over, and out 
instead of down.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

ONLY THIS

I once fed my head 
to the mouth of a well—
deep and strong and round and empty;

I hollered something 
elemental 

into the black 
depths of Earth, and I 
waited—straining to hear the reply:

now, only this 
life matters.



Tuesday, October 20, 2020

LEISURE TIME READING

Like nondescript 
words scrolling 
by on their pages, 

the pattern and significance 
of leaves outside my window 
keep changing. 

That I am perusing an adroit story, 
I never even question.
And yet, deeper 

and deeper into October, 
no one moment 
is like any other.

No particular morning 
of drizzling gray, no crisp afternoon 
or raw honey sundown,

no certain bird 
pecking at the decorative 
flint corn in the park

can distract me
from the extravagance 
of what has come before—

or the importance 
to the big picture 
of the sentence coming next.


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.