Wednesday, December 30, 2020

NEW YEARS PARTY

Like everyone else here, 
I have practiced 
speaking gracefully  

about the myriad ways 
all life on earth
will cease.

The lakes of hard clay
and black holes 
born at CERN 

trip off my tongue 
at the New Years party—
as if

preempting 
my own absence 

will save me 
some face.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

AXIOM

They say—Light 
is uncatchable
weightless

ageless
incorruptible. 

But without an observer—
a serpent 

to proffer 
the choice—all this 
becomes nonsense.

If I never needed 
to say anything again
would I?

How would I 
decide?

How would I 
make clear that I haven't 
decided?

What could it mean 
for an axiom 
to vacillate

between 
higher—or even alternate 
dimensions?


 

Monday, December 28, 2020

LACUNA

When I think 
back on all 
the objects 
I have worshiped—

many spheroid, 
others cylindrical,
all of them 

hollow now, black 
and white in 
the photo-
book of memory—

I experience not 
the loss 
of quintessence, 

but the paradox
of hope;

it might yet 
be possible—
for a substance, 
for a presence 

to represent 
its own total 
lack.



Wednesday, December 23, 2020

NEVERTHELESS

Even while we cry 
for help—

pinned and seeing 
neon in a car crash,

dangling and superfluous 
in a pitch black elevator shaft, 

from every strained cell
of our body mass, 

in our weaknesses, 
in our sleep—

we nevertheless remain 
those rightwise 

and bright-eyed optimists 
of myth. 

To have a taste 
for anything at all—

any form of subsistence 
we may yet deign to eat—

is an article of faith. 
Every day,

to wake, 
and to rise—surely

these are two kinds
of belief.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

AT THE END OF THE DAY

Even the astronaut—
decorated veteran,

so fond 
of silence, 

so near
to heaven—like everyone 

else here, just 
wants to go home.



Monday, December 21, 2020

SMALL TALK

What if there 
were an ominous 
pleasure 

simply in calling 
a thing 
by it's name?— 

This 
is called a "ghost note."

that 
requires exquisite 
"control." 

Each recalled term, 
the guest of honor
at a banquet, 

long toasts recounting 
all the places 
it's been.

Overstimulation
would come merely

from teeth 
touching tongue; 
a fatally 

decadent self-
indulgent feeling

as air
abandons lung.


Friday, December 18, 2020

SURROGATE

From here on in, 
to help avoid any 
unnecessary confusion, 

every day will cancel
the previous 
one out. 

Like voices 
cooing "nothing 
compares to you" 

just as the marvelous 
synthesizers 
kick in, 

this place you're in
and that place 
where you came from, 

will both signify—
significance.

True, with no endings 
and no new beginnings, 

you'll never uncover 
the source 
of your sadness.

On the plus side,
if you ever thought

you'd rid yourself 
of that nuisance 
"once and for all"—

now you're only
half-wrong.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

THE PRODIGAL

Me and my satisfaction—
how appallingly like 
the prodigal.

The moment I catch it
staggering back, 
I'm out there—

slitting fat throats 
of nicknamed calves,
chainsawing

timeshares
and 401(k)s 
in half, bleating 

appeasements, 
tickling its feet, 
and babbling 

of rash feasts (gold leaf 
on the appetizers, 
knock-me-down cigars,

60-year apertifs)
in its
pussyfoot honor.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

UNEQUIVOCAL

Across the graying snow, 
my hound dog 
bounding lightly, nuzzling patches 
with her nose 

and going crazy with delight 
to feel the cold wads of it
clinging to her muzzle. 

Despite my reluctance,
she had wanted to come out. 
Naive to grumbled curses,
she resolved to bow 

and splay and curl her body 
in curious service
to this hostile environment

while I stood back on cold heels,
frozen toes, watching
with slow growing interest

blooming to amusement,
and genuflecting 
imperceptibly now

to her and to all that is 
still unavoidably 
wonderful in this world.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

PHYSICS LESSON

Given enough time, you say 
whatever flies forth 
from an once-opened hand 

is statistically bound 
to come back.

With one 
palm pressed firmly 
into the other—

so much the better
to conceal 
the dull ache there—

and the light of oblivions
at play 
on my face,

I nod my understanding
and falsify 
the case;

I must be decades away 
from believing that.


Monday, December 14, 2020

ARTIFICE

There's a graceful
way, this time 
of year, 

that the bare branches bend 
with each sharp sprig
of wind—

and are coaxed 
even more so
by snow's repetitious angles

and the permanence of evening 
to bow slightly 
downward—

which may make you feel like 
letting things be 

just as I begin,
temporarily, to reexamine 

my usual ploy
to gain pity.


Friday, December 11, 2020

RESOLUTION SHORT LIST

To eat less. 
To move more. 
To make your peace 
with decaf. 
To stop snoring. 
To half-ass-
learn French 
to pad out a profile 
on a dating app. 
To avoid going senile 
by making daily anagrams 
out of random 
AdWords letters.
To smile at more faces
and read fewer poems— 
in order to remember 
both of them better.
To get sacrificed 
in the name of 
one thing
in lieu of getting laughed at 
by all of the others.
To feel safe in the arms 
of a spiraling galaxy 
with a black vacuum lodged 
where its heart should be.
Or at least 
to keep your skin farther 
apart from your bones
than a soul is close 
to its body.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

RHYME OR REASON

You've learned—if not reason, 
at the very least, rhyme 
is required. But it's no use; you 
can't make either work. 

Your lines are not catchy,
nor are they terribly 
instructive. But it feels 
when you speak the words—

a jumble of phrases 
about the glow behind trees...
and the mentality of morning...
and wishing you were younger—

all of which seem to glide 
like an iridescent fish 
in the deep and soundless 
trenches of your mind—

that a third thing is happening. 
A third kind of mattering. 
That perhaps feeling, at its purest, 
neither entertains nor teaches.



Wednesday, December 9, 2020

CUSTOM ORDER

Like the words to a song—
today, I woke 

and took the dog out 
to the dew-silver park

and worked—but not long—
at the one thing I love

until noon, when I stopped 
to cook, then slept hard 

and dreamed 
again, of a conversation 

we were having. 
Only this time, It was me 

saying how the stars 
didn't look so impossibly far,

but really, it was alright here;
there was nothing I needed.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

THE SCARCITY OF WANTS AND THE MULTIPLICITY OF MEANS

Even if this 
might get a 
little bit awkward, 

it'd be best 
if we practiced 
saying goodbye.

This is not an argument 
against the primacy 
of heaven. 

Only—it seems, 
after hours spent glimpsing
the moon out the window 

during decades
of cold nights 
inside warm secure houses, 

we must admit 
to having tasted 
so many paradises;

each one, 
its own delicacy—
a leftover 

hors d'oeuvre—
from its own
private party.


Monday, December 7, 2020

POTENTIAL ENERGY

For a minute, when we 
first wake 

and all is first light
and mists
and innocent,

We feel so, so 
very lucky.

For what 
is each 
untrodden morning

but a new 
and earnest 
conversation?

And we think—if I just play it 
smooth enough, 

I could totally
worm my way into this.


Saturday, December 5, 2020

DOTAGE

The fiercely accommodating 
taste of old age—to reject 
as inadmissible 

the rudeness 
and the sour gall 

which wreathe and tinge 
the recollected 
vigor of its youth.





Friday, December 4, 2020

FOR BEGINNERS

Perhaps it's too late now 
to turn around in failure;

perhaps no providence 
but the one we make in words.

So we run on 
like proverbs,

like a newspaper horoscope, 
like Ecclesiastes did— 

each last breath, 
which once was all life, 

presently a memory—
eventually abandoned.

What do you think of 
when someone says repetition

Exercise regimens. 
(You can't sprint a marathon.)

Amateur hour. 
No big loss. 

A knock at the door.
A lack.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

MUST BE DECEMBER

Between row homes' 
little cold 
sigh of a railing
decked with green wire

and that curious 
"city version" of dirt
which collects near the road verge
made of bare concrete, 

three robins—
former rakes, to be sure, 
now all uptight
and pointed and sticky—

darting absurdly 
back and forth

and squawking nonstop
about Easter.



Wednesday, December 2, 2020

CONTROVERSIAL THOUGHTS

Without trying, you'll look out 
and see the sun shining 
down on your city, 

knowing—but unable 
to bring yourself to believe 

that it truly has no 
alternative.

You won't even have to search 
in order to find 

that which seems 
to want to define itself 
as beauty—

the amber light 
on antique heaps of brick, 
the streaks of dried dog piss 

that mottle the street, 
each nearby 
grass blade in high relief.

An unwilling witness—
amid depression, 
amid poverty, 

despite sickness, 
despite depravity.

Perhaps, then you'll say
there's something 

to not fighting 
for our consonance 

when every scrap of this 
wretchedness 
is compulsory 

and every stitch of love,
unearned. 



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

CASTLE IN THE AIR

You swear 
what keeps you going is 
the prospect 

of tomorrow:
a contemplation 
of the rosy 

taste of clover honey, 
the mouthfeel 
of good milk. 

But what is hope, really, 
but a certain kind 
of fear 

that's been perverted 
and turned 
on its ear? 

When you leave here, 
how will you know you were 
free in this moment—

this moment of sorrow  
which must precede creation—
regardless 

of that thing 
which was destined 
to happen?