Monday, October 18, 2021

CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE

I exert my own kind 
of pressure 
over time; 

I pass it absent-
mindedly, or else 

forget it exists entirely. 
Like a chooser 

who chooses, with his infinite
freedom, to beg,

I sprun the past, 
with its plain face 

and bad manners—
forever waiting, jungle cat-
eyed

for just the right 
future to appear.

*

Are we dying 
to express ourselves more 
or less precisely?

To fill the tank with self-love 
or empty it 
of self-pity? 

We've been pressured to believe
all these opposites 
arose separately, 

and then synchronized 
by chance. (What are the chances 
of that?)

Who knows what sorts of errors 
have been magnified 
in the process 

of enhancement—
or how many of life's other 
magnificent annihilations 

we find ourselves out here 
wannabe-dying 
to practice.

*

All told, a life 
is a road;

there's one obvious direction, 
but many gaps 
and fissures.

And every savage experience 
is a manhole.

And the language we use 
is its scabrous 
cover.


Friday, October 15, 2021

HARBINGER

Landing all 
in a terrible rush, 
as if forcibly 

pushed by the host 
out of heaven,
the gaunt crow overtakes

the gilded autumn field
whose resplendent view I'd 
been admiring while walking.

Go ahead! Go ahead!
Make the most of this 
false show of pigment—

his coal eye
and flinty beak twitch 
to suggest—

for we both know 
when those everlasting sea-
bottom-black nights 

are due back—and you, 
ever so much bleaker
than I am on the inside,

will likely need all 
of the gold 
you can get.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

LATE IN OCTOBER

A month ago, 
the same sky that now threatens 
to bulge down from heaven 
and flatten the fallow land 

was glistening blue 
as packed 
Park District pools.

Now, the birds have whisked 
the sweet summer air southward 
on their beating wings,

and flower beds 
are burial mounds 
which even the fastidious 
bees have abandoned.

What use is it
regarding what's left of the harvest, 
gathering wool and 
clever remarks

with our bodies now hiding 
the same aging machinery 
of departure

and our voices 
drifting wild through the cold 
soundless universe?



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

AUTUMN DEFENSE

The weather
does not even know 
we're alive,

and yet sometimes, it changes 
in ways 
which are kind.

When you're low, a white 
cloud blooms and 
blankets the sky;

when you're blue,
tongues of mellow flame, 
arrange themselves just so 

on the trees 
which array your 
apartment's bay windows—
 
wagging their yellows, 
and crimsons, 
and browns—

not to distract,
but defend
or console 

against the slowly thickening knots
of grim 
winter's shadow.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

FIRST THING

First thing in the morning, 
before red 
begets gold, 

the whole world 
knows what it's like 
to feel old. 

There are those 
who rose willingly 
and pirouetted from their beds,

and then those 
who were chosen—flung forthwith
to the floor. 

And yet somehow
they all find themselves 
arriving here together

to comprise, for just 
one moment. the very core 
of re-arrival.

Every man, 
every woman, 
every creature who knows 

knows too, just as surely, 
that they've been 
this way before.



Monday, October 11, 2021

DENOUEMENT

In autumn, just as the 
root vegetables

(with all of their warts 
and nodules) fatten,

and the din 
of another great 
geese migration quickens,

and the leaves, 
which once were the green 
of an ancient sea, 

turn reference-book-brown
and spoiled-tapioca- 
pudding-yellow;

so too, then, 
does the feeling 

that we 
have been grieving—

so hard,
so incessantly,

for what must 
have been months, but 

what feels now
like centuries—begin 
to mercifully 

thicken 
and mellow. 



Friday, October 8, 2021

DISILLUSIONMENT 24-7

It can perhaps be tricky
to remember,
but your beliefs

are neither
expensive
nor sturdy.

They do not stack neatly
one on another,
like bricks,

but in truth are the shape
and consistency
of bubbles—

mysterious dirigibles
spawned from
strange wands,

and borne
on their courses by
impotent winds.

Exemplary as they are,
their translucence
was never wrought to suffer

an increase
in the altitude
or atmospheric pressure

which inevitably must presage
dissolution
and its death rattle:

that cheap little pop sound
as another evanesces
from your memory.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

EXIT INTERVIEW

Sir, if you still can, try 
to think back—
which language 

did you speak 
when there was still passion 
on your breath? 

Did that passion 
leave a sign?—some distinctive  
color, or a signature

stink? And did those words 
you once rattled
 in your prime 

or dashed off
onto ream upon ream 
of cheap office paper 

really mine 
the untold depths of what 
you'd dreamed 

in your most 
exuberant philosophies? 
Or did they merely 

have to look nice, take up X 
amount of space, 
and rhyme?


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

PREMONITION

On some secret overcast
autumnal evenings, 

there's a pinpointable moment 
when day gets invaded 
by a parasitic night; 

when any residual warmth 
is subverted 

and the alien fog both 
condenses and grows.

From the street, 
the faint lights I now  
see in neighbors' windows 

feel at once mellow
and chillingly remote. 

It is usually then 
that the words get caught 
in my throat—

I do not know the exact specs 
of this obstacle,

but the pull is strong enough 
that I fear it's 
unsinkable. 

In a blink, some ghostly 
scenario behind my eyes flows

from unthought
to available—

to forboding—
to unthinkable.


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

HOW TO LOSE

At first, we cannot see ourselves 
weeping over a body,

let alone feeding one, 
owning one, 
being one. 

Then we come to know 
the gauzy feeling 
of sleep,
 
the sound of the rain 
that keeps beating 
on the ceiling,

the almost-
numb tingling buzz
of what busy is.

Now, we understand 
when we say 
we still miss them,

we don't really mean them;
what we really mean 
is us

the us that didn't yet
know how to lose, 

the us
we had only just discovered  
when we met. 


Monday, October 4, 2021

DIVEST

Outside, the obdurate 
plod of October 
rain is defeating

the tenuous will of the 
weakest leaves—

three at a time 
falling, then six, 
then twelve. 

Perhaps we too, hopeless 
but willful as these 
rooted trees,

will be driven yet completely
to divest, 

will be martyred 
to the very cause
of our changing—little by little, 

squall by squall—
into poorer but sleeker,
bankrupt, yet less 

overburdened versions 
of ourselves.



Friday, October 1, 2021

WITHHELD

Platitudes sound grand 
because often 
they're true—

but let's suppose
life doesn't even hand you 
any lemons;

how do you squeeze 
a lack of cons into pros? 
How far out of your way 

are you willing to go 
in order to make 
the most of an absence?

In the case of the lemons, 
your best bet 
is to take them: 

charter a plane
to the dark jungles 
of Myanmar

and raid a dwarfish tree there 
of its denied
bitter treasure—

as soon 
as you can be 
halfway sure

that the bloodthirsty baboons 
who live there 
aren't looking.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

DREAM RECALL

Occasionally, very 
first thing 
in the morning, 

a person 
may sense for a minute
the faint pressure—

like a handprint 
on the bedspread, 
still there from the night before—

of all of queued dreams 
which the dawn 
has left stranded. 

Still fuzzy, 
this person can't begin 
to imagine 

what tender and doleful  
scenes they've abandoned.
And yet, 

faint depressions
of each character remains—
a surface tension 

as subtle but urgent as 
moisture in the atmosphere, 

as full as the low clouds 
which have gathered 
at the horizon's corners, 

obscuring the sun, but 
declining to rain.



Wednesday, September 29, 2021

LESSON PLAN

Beware The Complete Poems 
of Emily Dickinson.

Solitary words,
machined with such precision,

are liable, when incanted, 
to crack the roof open

and fill up your classroom 
with sharp sky-
colored diadems.

Incantations like hers
are much safer 
read in private, 

for when- and wherever 
such a stealth bomb 
is detonated, 

every molecule 
in the ears of the hearers 
might quiver,

the hard drives 
in their cell phones may
spontaneously erase,

and of course, 
there's the ominous possibility 
of power failures: 

the overhead projector
darkens; the lights dim 
and flicker;

the custodian in the basement
primes the generators, 
just in case.


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

OFFSCREEN

After standing alone 
outside of it all 
since before immemorial, 

time 
has grown stubborn, 
furious, cold. 

But once in a while, 
time is kind—when it's late, 

and it's drowsy 
and slow, it says 

things like
"Tag. You're it." And 

"Anyone 
could have written this." 
And

"direction is effective 
but unnecessary."

*

What have I got to lose? 

Among the bumps 
and depressions 

of a black and blue 
keyboard, the only things moving 

were some shadows 
and their fingers.


*

In the terrible dreams 
that I've been having 
lately, 

words rise unbidden 
like bodies 
from the harbor 

and speak themselves.
It's like—everything that made me 
not good enough

comes screaming at me 
from everywhere offscreen
at once.

Through the racket, 
the question I still want 
to ask you more than anything

isn't 
whether or not 
you love me, 

but whether or not you 
believe 
that you do.


Monday, September 27, 2021

ELEGY WRITTEN AT A KITCHEN TABLE

Essential as it is, 
it's as difficult to love 
as it is to live comfortably—

however completely
that drawer by the stove 
becomes stuffed 

full of manuals, user guides,
warranties, and gift receipts,
in all the ways that matter most, 

deep down, you know 
you're on your own. 
But difficult as it is, 

its just as essential  
to eat the peach 
and leave the pit, 

to carry off the dead, 
to bury the shit, to swing 
at all the decent pitches.

It's not just a rush: our sense 
that changing the future  
authenticates the past; 

it's a pulsating truth—
that after anything is swallowed 
or flushed or cracked or burned to ash, 

the world is new; 
there's no way of 
going back.



Friday, September 24, 2021

REVOLUTION

Thirty seven years, 
and I'm still 
this mysterious: 

mid-stream, I'm liable to break up 
into ripples; 

each night, 
each one fords a different 
lonely dream. 

*

O, to be beautiful 
enough for someone 

to want to come along
and break me in half, 

rend my halves 
to shreds, 

grind 
the shreds to dust, 

and then fan 
the fine powder cloud
over the sea. 

"Let's see you rise up 
from these deaths," 
they might say, 

I like to imagine, purely 
out of jealousy.


How many tiny changes 
until this body isn't mine?

Until the world 
as I know it ceases 
to exist? 

When did this revolution
begin?

Already, our attention lapses; 
we know

there won't really be a next time.




Thursday, September 23, 2021

COHESION

It's become a favorite 
David Lynch cliché—

that dark two-lane highway 
connecting two odd 
numbered interstates;

a distinct memory, 
not of the events which 
took place, 

but the interstices  
between them—
the absoluteness, 

not of the dream, 
but the dream's
continuity—

and the song
that was playing. 

*

Now, it's as if
the present moment 

were an exception 
to The Rule, 

as if bodies in motion 
could contain 
their own means,

as if teetering 
on the brink 

between never-meant 
and always-will 

were just one viable way 
of a million
to remain.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

AT THE CROSSWALK

In the milky sky above the square, 
the familiar almost-equilibrium 
of pigeons 

having burst from their fountain 
at the gunning 
of green light engines
 
now tickling the low clouds 
in undulating ripples,
diving and swooping in hapless formation—

making me 
feel restless; making me feel 
small. 

For a moment, I suppose
I would like to be 
one of them—

but no, that's not 
quite right, is it?

I'd like to be 
them all.



Tuesday, September 21, 2021

CONCLUSION

Every day, 
fresh trauma 
is minted,

is deemed 
too precious 
to spend—

is saved 
instead, 

is recklessly 
preserved, 

is obsessively 
earmarked 

for later
grows rotten. 

*

Then, one day,
just before your bullish 
toddler swipes away—

that photo of Earth 
as seen 
from space

as seen 
on the lockscreen 
of an outdated iPhone.

How long 
had we known
it would always be this way?

None of this 
could be lost. 

It all must be
forgotten.



Monday, September 20, 2021

EQUINOX

Just like that, the home team 
punts—and another summer's 
florescence shrivels.

The home improvement store 
hauls boxes of gourds 
and dimpled pumpkins out front.

In the park, an almost 
chilly wind thrums;
a stubborn toddler's nose is tickled. 

But rather than sneeze 
from the windblown spores 
of autumn mold, 

she blinks her wide eyes 
and shivers out a squeal instead— 
because she knows, 

from the tresses of auburn 
that loosely overlay her head, 
that though the afternoon

sun grows long, 
there's still no way 
that she is the one 

getting old—at least, 
not really. 
At least, not yet.



Friday, September 17, 2021

OCCURRENCE

The hulking 
gnarled arm 
of a woebegone ash tree

sagging yet 
a little lower with its 
resident crow—

o how I long
to lift it back up, 
to tear all its blight off, 

to shoo 
this dark payload
away from my soul.



Thursday, September 16, 2021

MILLIONTH DOG POEM

When, by chance, 
you looked up
and entangled my gaze, 

unconcerned as ever 
with what your faultless eyes 
were saying, 

at first, I 
was furious (for I believe that
calmness can kill us; 

it's the friction 
of disturbances 
we depend upon for warmth),

but that madness
soon turned curious, then
began to grow concerned:
 
what distraction still
in our future will cause 
concurrence to be ruined?

Which of us will be the one 
to look away 
from all this first?



Wednesday, September 15, 2021

LULL

On a September noon 
this clean 
and this still 

when even the few 
clouds seem
some stately archipelago, 

the only thing that's reeling
would have to be 
the sparrows

whose quick-darting song 
tingles each tongue of 
calm avenue,

and the only dirty thing
is the feeling 
you don't belong.



Tuesday, September 14, 2021

NAME IT

The way night
bookends day—would you call that 
haiku? 

Haiku would choose 
to name it
red sundown, 

streetlamp shadows 
creeping through the park grass;
perhaps

the dregs of green tea 
in a white paper cup 
near nude feet,

grown satisfactorily 
too cool 
to drink.



Monday, September 13, 2021

LOVE WORKS

For all of its plaudits, 
love works 
like a virus—

unseen 
and unknown, it grows 
without goals; 

when it attaches, it 
bores down and 
binds us 

to our skeletons, 
to these hard discrete cores
which we'd been 

heretofore 
trying to keep from 
bobbing to the surface. 

It is nothing 
but a brainless, selfless, 
welter of confabulations 

which causes us 
to confront 
and expel 

the only other feeling 
which, hitherto, 
we'd come to know: 

the vague prickle 
of our 
own nauseous longing;

the sickness 
of our selves. 



Friday, September 10, 2021

WAITING ON SOMETHING

Tongues of yellow light 
through an afternoon window 

which creep to kiss the tip 
of a prone 
hound dog's nose 

should mean more 
than they do—
ought to 

collapse 
this mute feeling 
of distance between us

into a thought 
even god couldn't hold.



Thursday, September 9, 2021

KNOT

Cheap knot of sparrows—
somehow I know 

you're the 
undisclosed masters

of all of the air between 
here and there;

for you're 
manic as preachers

whose sermons 
are their bodies— 

which are hurled all around me 
like pointed brown echoes, 

great tails of reverb 
which rebound without end

between two very clear and 
frictionless mirrors—

and it must be a strange-yet-
ideal piece of physics 

which is always unconcerned 
with the state of my happiness,

but never in itself 
unhappy.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

SYNOPSIS

The exacting way 
the morning glories 

are snarled around 
the warped wooden gate 
at the corner,

violet fire-faced
and fluting out the rapture 

from ripe throats 
so white they almost make
you lose your balance—

how does yearning get here? 
the vine-strangled 
mind wonders.

Who is to blame?
What was the reason?
Most importantly, 

what's 
the big take-away?



Tuesday, September 7, 2021

VULNERABILITY IS RARE

Vulnerability is rare
as the hairs that protrude  

from our scalps 
and our arms 
and from under our noses.

What we fear most 
to lose falls 
in pools at our shoulders, 

or is grisly, 
or brittle—disturbed
by mere air.

And the truth 
is so trivial: every one 
is born with some—

how will you choose 
to wear yours?




Friday, September 3, 2021

AIR MINUS AIR

Where my lungs 
met my heart, 
it was air minus air 

when you left; 
it was blood 
drained of oxygen's 

flair when you left.
To my eyes, 
it was light 

with its sweet 
waves of white 
boiled out.

If only I now
could see 
through those eyes 

as they pitied me then—
could here resurrect 
the primordial planet 

on which 
such a demented 
physics made sense—

I'd feel I might 
still yet survive
my own death.



Thursday, September 2, 2021

(NO BIG) LOSS

After the distant longing clang
of churchbell songs recedes,

first comes the twilight 
and then, that charmed silence—

washing over 
the tilted planet, 

beckoning rats 
from dark wombs of nests 

to the post-dinner 
rush of back 
alley trash feasts, 

razing proud empires of day 
to the street,

and darkening 
the newly-strange path 
of concrete 

I suppose I should really take 
home—
in a minute.



Wednesday, September 1, 2021

HINDSIGHT BIAS

Watching the first few 
pale stars of evening, 

you might realize 
by their light 

not hope, 
but the truth:

that somehow, a man 
is both an ungainly 

and a deftly brutal animal. 
How nimble 

his belief;
how awkward it reads 

when we
see it on the replay—

the way he savagely hammers 
and tapes 

his feelings 
onto shapes.



Tuesday, August 31, 2021

FOR EMILY

To the poet, is possibility 
really so much fairer 
a house in which to dwell 
than prose?

The abstract made tangible 
seems a double-edged sword—
to be liberated, at length,
is to find yourself unmoored 

in a closet-
sized hell
where defining
spells confinement

and the devil presiding grows
bored of the details—but never 
the impregnable strength 
of your rhyming. 



Monday, August 30, 2021

LITTLE CLOUD

Baggy soul, 
vague stray sailing past
in the sky—

how strange it would be
to know 
why you rain;

how frightening 
to comprehend your 
delirious lightning. 

If these memories won't go,
wash their pain, 
immolate me, 

then shade 
as your winds fly the ashes 
that remain.



Friday, August 27, 2021

FANTASY

If I was a billionaire

with the means 
to travel everywhere, 

and I found nothing anywhere—
would I not still

have succeeded? 

Would I not always be lauded 
and remembered 

for allowing 
here and there

to finally coincide?


How about this 
for a fantasy?—

You play the intergalactically
famous conductor 

of the Quantum 
Mechanical Choir and its
Relativity Orchestra, 

and I'll be 
the one-man crowd 
of dark matter

who does not 
applaud—but still pushes 
for an encore.

*

Once again, our
experts are astounded
to find—

the what 
and the how 
are at odds with each other;

the more sincere
we sound
when elucidating one

the more desperate 
we become 
to convince one another.



Thursday, August 26, 2021

ELLIPSES

Summer's end 
in the park:
the open mouths 

of now-
exasperated May flowers
still asking—

what good is shape 

to the artist
without color?

Could the length 
of life matter 

more than the impact? 


Given the tendency 
I have to keep 

cropping up 
in sentences,

I have begun 
to suspect 
I can 

out-quip
my own death.

*

For every toss 
that just feels wrong, 

there comes 
a semi-
righteous turn—

a neutron 
drips radiation, 

converts 
to a proton; 

you squirm 
in your dreams, 

as if trying 
to escape them, 

but always
relate them 

in first-
person narration.



Wednesday, August 25, 2021

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

After all the thick music 
and the black 
diary entries,

after Nobel prizes 
and new-critical analyses 
are accepted—

isn't a poem just 
a little machine:

a firework that displays
(in the flair of its plume)

one frame 
of a dream? 

Is it not "we" 
divided (unevenly) 
by "me,"

a form on a page
stalked offstage 
by a concept?

Or shall we make 
uncertainty
even easier to defend 

and claim it's 
just a novel 

with everything 
but the intensest feeling 
wrung out of it—

until all that's left 
is a curious pulp 

that molds
in our grip 

to the shape 
of deep 
silence?



Tuesday, August 24, 2021

INQUEST

It's been said 
that the soul 
is shaped by its seclusion,

its desire for
tight junctures, its fetish 
for their rigor—

as such, it has commanded  
you too
to be stiff;

it has bid you to insist 
on silence 
in the library 

and coerced you to stick 
to reading classics 
of the literature.

But the truth is, 
this is a bit 
of a misapprehension; 

for whenever you 
look, what you see inside 
is edgeless, 

smooth, 
transparent, 
indivisible—and so, 

the best way 
to truly comprehend it
might be to dirty it, 

rough it up, 
abuse it, call it 
stupid now and then.

Only then, 
when it reddens, 
swells up, and 

begins to accuse you,
may you circuitously 
measure it—

pretending 
all the while, of course,
to keep your soul

at arm's length
and pay it 
no attention.


Monday, August 23, 2021

IF THAN

If there is a place 
where "here" and "there" 
collide, 

what other words 
might have syllables 
in common? 

*

if something is lost 
and then I find it, 

which type of drama
would you now say

is your favorite? 


If the myriad white 
and yellow blossoms,
 
once opened, 
all act as parasols, 

does that mean 
all effort 

is cumulative?

*

if "what" and "how" are two 
dependent variables, 

how do we know 
whether anything 
has 

escaped?

*

if everyone out here 
is "sitting in traffic," 

then there's no such thing as traffic, 

and so—no one 
really is?



Friday, August 20, 2021

RANSOM

Do you remember 
the day when you 
first learned

that the color
and the sound bursts 
which were littered 
all around you

were intended 
as gifts—each of which 
you deserved? 

More importantly, 
what priceless boon
did you gain 
in forgetting

the simple glories 
of that morning?

More than enough, 
one shall assume,

to pay the ransom 
demanded by the 
madness of identity—

to forsake
your handy arms 
and those
efficacious legs, 

and, despite its utility,
to willingly come,
for a time, to be 

stranded 
in your body.




Thursday, August 19, 2021

DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION

I have just decided: 
I don't want to be represented 
anymore—

or dissembled 
or regretted—only 
reflected.

All day, my mind has been 
one of the plants 
in the garden 

which thrust without intent, 
then retreat 
without haste 

as the sun 
moves west 
from east—

their gnarled branches 
and upstart green leaves (forming 
meaningless patterns 

of fractals 
which seem to endless-
ly stutter and repeat)

having thus far managed,
without any basis 
in merit,

to please me 
again. And again.
And again.


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

OVERSIGHT

To be human, they told us
would be all about 
balance: 

to walk upright 
would steal dignity 
from the belly-crawling class.

Sure enough, 
our particulars 
would soon tend 

toward the over-
determined, 

while their context 
was so delicate, 

it had to be crafted 
from scratch. 

But what nobody mentioned
was that opposites 
attract—

that, at base,
we consisted of 
infinitesimal points,

half of which 
had 

what the other half 
lacked.

(Were we supposed 
to act proud—

or jealous 
of that?)


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

BY DEFAULT

What would I do 

if I didn't 
need to do 

a thing? 
Would I 

fluctuate 

between magnetic
and electrical 

potential—

between 
dinner and dancing 

and a long- 
distance call? 

Show me a beholder 

with no eye 
to privilege, 

and I'll show you 
a massless particle 

that doesn't rumple space at all.

Ask me: 
what do "self" 

and "it" 
have in common? 

And I'll answer:

how could a self 
not be selfish 

by default?



Monday, August 16, 2021

GOOD POINTS

There's a very real sense 
in which 

stillness comes 
to murder us.

We really don't know 
how much we depend 

on the restless fury 
of all that writhes within us 

until it slows
such that the heat starts 

to go—
and even then...

*

"You don't know 
what you don't know," 

one unfertilized 
egg says 

to another, 
as if suspicion of everything 
was really a way 

to fake this existence 
until it gets 
made.


How do you even know 
if a poem is 
making good points

when each sentence 
is tailor-made 
to slip 

like trick cuffs 
from the wrists of a 
practiced magician 

freeing himself 
for the millionth time 
this month

from the painted-on 
prop cage
of language?



Friday, August 13, 2021

WE'LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE

With everything we know 
so far 

we couldn't fill a 
vacuum.

Some maintain  
that nature 
is God's thoughts; 

others, 
that God is nature 
talking.

But whichever the case, 
at least no one argues 

that all the great many 
are made 
in the image 

of something 
that lacks patience
and abhors 

concentration. 

*

Letter by letter, 
I am spelling out 

thank you

with one unbroken cursive 
caress of a pen—

is this the same 
way mangled

roots turn
to hale stems?

Does each
tendril reach 
to receive 

or to bless 
the sun?


Thursday, August 12, 2021

NEXT LIFE

Just so we're clear—

you're sure
the stars 
are the barrel fires 

of all our exiled 
ancestors,  

but that language 
is a curse 

that precludes our getting
close?

*

"Poetry always 
says more 
than it means to,"

lectures the YouTuber confidently, 

as if 
we could measure it—

as if meaning came
in units. 

*

If there was another universe 
one address over,

I'd be 
good as gone.

But the doors 
that might lead there

(per the ones 
from my nightmares), 

all look exactly 
alike.




Wednesday, August 11, 2021

HUMBLE PIE

Near the trash bins
in the alley 
which always overflow

a hundred black ants 
(or maybe more) 

have swarmed 
to the center of a 
brown apple core—

Pathetic, you think, 
how they jones 
for the sugar. 

But what used-up hull
do you consider treasure?

And how much of it
would you throw 
to the beggars 

in order 
to know one scrap 
of that rapport?



Tuesday, August 10, 2021

RORSCHACH TEST

Some mornings, downtown looks 
more distant 

and half-missing—
not much to see
but two or three obelisks  

which loom 
in the haze like 
somber monuments 

created in the oblique 
likeness of their 
long-extinct builders: 

a race of giant 
men and women 

whose every grand achievement 
was quickened
by its lack 

and who must have been 
wiped off the face 
of this planet 

by the sickness 
of their own ambition 

or perhaps 
its terrible cure—an obsession 
with rest.




Monday, August 9, 2021

THE SHAPE OF THINGS

Unlike Shakespeare's art, 
in life, it was you 
who played the part 

of your own three
weird sister cheerleaders:

from the start, 
you'd seen
how this ends, 

but still egged 
yourself on—as if 

even a ruin 
could be intelligently 
designed.

*

In order to see the future, 
we dress it up 
as the past. 

In an attempt 
to hide the past, 

we stow it safely  
in the future. 

But if time 
is a smooth line 
and not discrete units, 

how do we extenuate 
the blasphemy 

of our
breathing?

*

After the shape 
of things is disclosed,

exposing their seams
is easy.

We remain suspicious 
of everything we can't see 

and afraid 
of the common coldness

of plenty
of the things we can. 

We propose 
a new astrology

to give purpose 
to the stars 

after failing to divine any 
offhand.


Friday, August 6, 2021

CLICHÉ

Yet again, an old tree branch 
has snagged and gored a 
plastic bag.

At first, 
from the ground beneath, 
you can see the two of them 

bend and thurst
and parry in the wind;
but then, 

they seem to marry 
and behave as one system—
an augmented chord  

that just hangs in the air
with no inherent urge 
to resolve, 

or the parent 
who has just captured, and now 
raises up her fretted child,

only to kiss
and forgive.





Thursday, August 5, 2021

ACCESS DENIED

The very first 
game 

we learned
how to play 

with ourselves 
would have to 

have been
Peekaboo—then 

Hide-and-Go-
Seek was king—

before it full-
bloomed into 

See Something, 
Say Something. 

*

What do I like best about myself?

My inability 
to take compliments.

You might view this 
as a detriment; 

but I use it 
as a gift-

card 
(which never expires) 

kept safe 
in its wallet but 
not yet 

redeemed. 

*

It is written in the skies 
which we're so keen
to look to

and nod to each other 
and call diamond-
blue

or blood-red 
when it's 
not true:

it's hard to be understood—
even harder to 
be seen.



Wednesday, August 4, 2021

REMINDERS

1.

I am neither depressed 
nor anxious. 

Depression and anxiety 
merely exist.
Okay—so, I guess

thoughts are just 
having themselves now? 


2.

How is your 
apocalypse going?

In mine, the survivors 
all form a band 

because 
they understand each other 
that much 

better when they
aren't talking.


3.

Life is 
made of particles, 
the physicist says; 

while the novelist 
suggests 
it's more like a premise 

that toys 
with its audience. 

Either way, it's a process 
which has to be observed 

and once it has started,
must not be 
interrupted. 


4.

Does the light 
you can see
at the end of the tunnel 

remind you of the over- 
harsh 
delivery room glare? 

If so, that's 
perfect; there's 
no need to worry.

If this were a dream, 
there would be no 
reminders—

everything there is exactly
as it appears.



Tuesday, August 3, 2021

NOUMENA

It's true that
we're not willing 
to try very hard 

to see things as they really are,

devoid of their color, 
smell, taste, and texture—
that is, 

enduring 
as pure numbers 
and positions—without us.

Yet, how rigorous—

how hard 
and how long we 
are willing to practice

to perfect 
the ridiculous 

art of our own 
indifference 
to the fact.

*

Dear God, 
where's the pizazz 

in doing all this 
math in your head:

derivatives 
of ribs, 

raised to the power of 
sea and soil;

darkness 
divided by light 

(in parentheses) 
times seven?

Unless 
or until

you spread your lips 
and hold forth,

all phenomena will wither 
still deaf
to the truth,

and its magic 
will be spoiled.



Monday, August 2, 2021

BREATHWORK

Inhale
and behold: not before, 
but behind your very eyes, 

the attention 
is collapsing—
as if 

every thread 
of some fabric 
has unraveled, 

as if empty space 
has been yanked 
down a sinkhole,

a pinhole, 
an infinitesimal 
but unfathomably deep 

black hole—
inside which, 
in a lapse 

lost to time, 
all that nothingness 
gets compressed 

and compounded 
until it explodes—
slingshotting 

a new admixture 
of consciousness  
back home 

just in time to notice 
the slight tickle 
in its nose.


Friday, July 30, 2021

HIGHER POWER

On balance, there's nothing 
you loathe more 
than a cheater,

but lately, even you 
have been tempted 
to picture 

the load that you carry as 
someone else's 
metaphor.

I guess it's true after all—
you think 
but don't say, 

as you feel yourself 
blissfully 
drifting off into 

the blank spot
in the hot attic 

of that person's
cobwebbed dark irrelevance—

that acceptance 
doesn't feel nearly as 
solipsistic 

as futility did 
exhausting. 



Thursday, July 29, 2021

THOSE DECISIONS

Because we are told 
this is just 
how it is, 

we do not feel that 
amazed 
to perceive  

that every thing out there
is made of bits;

and bits are, of course, built 
from yeses
and nos;

and yes and no
aren't things, 

they are motives—
notions, caprices, hunches, 
and so on—

which makes sense 
since these 

are the only effects 
that survive death. 

And so grows our faith 
in the power of 
those decisions

which can't be held 
in the hand or touched— 
but only maintained 

by the backward-
looking gaze.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

DOUBLE WONDER

Most of us spend our time 
never noticing

that time isn't ours 
to spend; 

that each moment belongs 
nowhere, 

has no target
to acquire. 

But what 
kind of compound 

slight of hand 
could it take? to realize 

that the feeling 
is only an impulse, 

and an impulse 
is precision-

made
out of nothing.

*

Imagine comprehensible immensity. 

Imagine
the Grand Canyon

filled to the brim 
with religious 
memorabilia—

Christ himself 
would be gobsmacked 
at the sight

of Judas Iscariot—
of all of us—oblivious, 

just walking across 
unharmed.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

GOOD, BAD, OR INDIFFERENT

Somehow, the obdurate 
weeds explode 

through the cracks 
and the holes
in old parking lot pavements; 

and the thorn bushes thicken 
and sharpen their resolve 

to swarm the perimeter 
of their methane-
choked marshes; 

and the wine-blushing flowers 
blossom in the handmade boxes 

which adorn 
your southern-
exposure window—

but the rains
that plumb

and the winds
that run

and the sun
that comes

are all one
and the same.



Monday, July 26, 2021

ANTICLIMAX

Those who bore witness 
thought the explosion 
would be bigger,

but orders of magnitude 
mean nothing 
to the ones

and zeros
whose

limitless iterations 
are contorted 

into the vestigial shapes 
we, 

when we're   
being good 
audience members, 

are liable to politely 
ignore as mixed
metaphors.


To the prototype infants 

whose wait offstage
for their number to come up
has been eternal, 

a climax seems desirable. 

But the minute 
two bits 
hit each other 

all the mystery is annihilated:

this is not 
my beautiful wife,

sings the singer 
who is not the original
singer,

I am no longer 
my original
self.



Friday, July 23, 2021

OCCAM'S RAZOR

It's simple: prune away 
the near-
limitless causes

and suddenly 
the least conspicuous 
becomes the most plausible.

For instance,
in order to measure 
the harms we've caused

verses those 
we've incurred, 
either 

the good Lord 
took our innocence 

and in return, 
gave us sons 
and daughters;

or else, 
increasingly high-level 
security clearance 

begot 
ever more furious 
computer virus coders;

or lastly—
and by far the least
fathomable of all—

evolutionary 
pressure 

hastened 
the invention 
of numbers.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

SOUNDS OF ONE HAND CLAPPING

Never mind 
the trees 
that fall 

in forests 
when no one's around—

what I'd like to know now is: 
does silence come 
from somewhere? 

If not from our hands,
from the future, 
perhaps 

as it abandons 
the past—

or when the silverblue 
dragonfly darts 
and then hovers 

as if coming 
into a room, and then 
forgetting why it entered?

Or could this universe 
of reticence 

imply something 
more sinister—

a weaponized quiet 
from the mouths 
of prize roses 

which ring the dry fountain 
at the city park center 

and whose only ambition 
under the sun 

is to put all these flurries 
of action 
to shame, and then 

sit there in perfect 
judgement?



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS BEFORE

It's no good denying
I am jealous
of the refresh button—

that circle with the arrow
in the corner
of the screen

bidding knowledge
to begin again

like it's nothing
whenever pressed. I think

I'd give at least
50%
of my life

never to have to realize
I'm thinking

the same thought
twice.

*

Moods
are like seasons
which always come again;

they start at 0
and must wend their way
up to 1

before starting over.
No wonder,

although you can
get ever higher,
to get there

you always seem to have come
this way before.

*

In the computer
of awareness,

each intention
is a microchip,

every instant,
a transistor

embedded within it—
whose purpose

is not 
to record the event

but produce
a yes/no

to the question of 
coincidence.



Tuesday, July 20, 2021

PASTICHE

Strange to say, 
but the mind 
was made 

to follow, 
not to lead—

its Alice in gingham,
raked along 
by the breeze,  

not the rabbit 
who torpedoes 
fleet

and naked 
through the field.

And we say "strange" 
as if surprised, 

as if mind itself
had been first 
to suggest this, 

but the fact is that 
mind is clever 
just 

as a child is—
it can teach us 
new dance steps

when it watches
then burlesques,

and it speaks to us 
only in the most faultless 
sentences

to which it listens,
then repeats.




Monday, July 19, 2021

DELIVERANCE

Grace is not always
just spiritual grease—the
industrial-grade stuff

made for oiling hidden machinery
and lubing-up
stopped locks.

Sometimes, it's conveyed
as a stream of cool water
through the eucalyptus trees,

or a clean shaft
of light falling
exactly where you are,

but which leaves you—
when it leaves you
(as it must leave you,

much as it just left
the feet of your neighbor
who lives one debacle over)—

standing somewhere other
than the place
where you were.



Friday, July 16, 2021

IN PLACE

Does this make any sense? 

Walking past, 
you will sometimes

give the mind 
what it thinks 
it must want—

not the raving 
half-starved sparrows 
warring on the lawn, 

distant 
yet immediate—

but 
the intermittent tones
of a marvelous wind chime:

each chilly crystalline whole note 
teeming 

even as it dies away—



Thursday, July 15, 2021

TRUE NORTH

Face it—all children may come 
into this world beautiful, 

but none 
has been born 

whose nose points 
true north;

any such pose 
she is later able to hold 

must be 
made ugly,

must be molded 
into place—

like the creased flesh 
around its pit—

by a long-standing 
habit. 

*

Say, where can a guy
buy a can 
of beer around here? 

Or a bun on its own? 
Or two chicken eggs 
for his breakfast?

New points of view 
are sold this way too—

like it or not, 
it's cost prohibitive 
to purchase one; 

they always seem 
to come 
plastic-

ring-
shackled 
in six packs. 

*

This can't be all there is

because no thing 
happens last!—

If this were your 
last thought, 

how long 
would you want 

to hold onto it
before you 

forgot? 



Wednesday, July 14, 2021

MINUS THE DYNAMITE

Recall 
the last time you 
felt the warm weight

of a nickel 
in your hand 

and honestly 
thought you might 
purchase something with it.

Imagine being presented
with a granny smith apple
as a Christmas present

by someone 
who really meant it.

The short poem is like that.
It's an angel—
not a real one 

(the kind a desperate 
person may need
to believe in),

but one of those 
white plaster quarter-size 
statues of one:

not so great to look at—
and minus the dynamite 
singing voice—

but at least 
it can neither vanish 

nor inspire
any hate.



Tuesday, July 13, 2021

PASSING THOUGHT

Have you noticed—

when you sleep, 
you do not feel old 

or young—
but ageless.

Not ageless 
as in eternal; not pressed 
into the shape 

of the universe.
But ageless 
as in: 

holding no pose
out of habit; 

ageless as in:
uncapturable, 

unfathomable, 
new. 

*

Drifting off—
where is this sea? 

When
was this ancient 
glacial flood? 

What is 
this leviathan 
that rises up 

between you 

and the creature 
you were sure
you were

gravitating to? 

*

Alas, the omnipotent mind 
of the dreamer, 

though even its creations  
may remain
unconvinced, 

never once 
thinks: this can’t be happening.



Monday, July 12, 2021

YIELDING DISEASE

Does it 
trouble you

the way in which 
one thing insufferably 

leads 
to another? 

Watching the horizon
as one cloud 

irrevocably merges 
with a partner—

and just as the evening 
comes bleeding into afternoon—

may be enough 
to set some people off.

Such diagnosed souls 
might feel choked

when there's so little room 
for doubt.

For the born-lonely 
and the hidden, 

this threat of what's 
separate's constant 

convergence
is a poison;

they reason 
that always wanting more 

is clumsy, 
and it's greedy—

wanting less, a prim 
and penitent 

expression 
of their grief.




Friday, July 9, 2021

STRUCTURES

Perhaps every day 
of our lives
is a hall 

in a building 
so tall, clouds obscure 
the top floor.

And every poem 
we encounter  
is a hole in the wall there—

not a vandalism 
or incompleteness, 
or some emblem of disrepair, 

but an aperture, a door 
leading somewhere
we're not authorized to go—

or worse, a once-familiar interior 
which we now fear is haunted 
or condemned—

or worse-still, a one-way exit
emptying us out 
god knows where 

with an abruptness 
the thrill of which
time can't account for

onto a dazzling street 
we surely didn't 
take to get here 

and have never walked
before.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

BRANCH PATTERNS

Curious 
how, no matter 
what happens, 

however unpleasant,
the story line pivots 

and continues 
to unspool in response 
to that action.

But despite 
complex changes 
to rules and directions,

every piece lands
on the same space
eventually: 

it isn't my secrets
which bind me 

back
to that loneliness;
it's the fact that 

my past can't exist 
in this present.



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

INTERFERENCE PATTERN

Now that we live 
in a futuristic present, 
scientists do know 

why
"You say goodbye, 
and I say hello." 

It's only 
an emergent property 
of quantum entanglement. 

Where once, two 
made contact, 
their states remain joined, 

never to ruin, but
forever destined 
to counteract—

like the 
forbearant half 
of a flipped golden coin,

or a marriage 
which has gone bad—
but not worse 

than the incoherent 
roars of traffic 
in the rest of the universe. 


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

STRATAGEM

Some of us simply cannot resist—
to speak a thing passionate-
and repeatedly, we think, 
is the most preferred way 
to feed it's significance.
While others seem to greedily insist 
on capturing the tiniest bits
of random discourse which 
chance to come near them.
But of hunger, of course, this
is the opposite: their plan 
(well-intentioned, inter-
locutors rest assured) 
is first, to ensnare, 
and after—to nourish. 



Friday, July 2, 2021

FLEDGLING


blue jay—you 
say much,

but never 
enough; you may 

as well be 
a poem.






Thursday, July 1, 2021

CROSSING OVER

Because we were lectured
so hard and
so often

on "making something"
of ourselves,

it makes sense 
that feeling our
limbs going phantom 

as our eyes turn
to marbles 

would seem obvious—
but not virtuous, 
since 

virtue is just not a 
virtue attributable 

to the mildest 
among us: the
inanimate objects.

*

Turns out, 
what the martyr values
is focus 
more than balance; 

they see a certain fearsomeness 
in the symmetry 
of being 
too clever by-half.

Remember how once we fought 
about empty vs. perfect
but didn't argue?

Remember when we thought 
we'd jump in 
at the middle 

in order to get a head start  
counting to infinity?



Wednesday, June 30, 2021

MENTALITY

Do not think 
of changing your mind 

regarding 
where we should meet 

or what you want 
to eat

as capricious 
or easy; think of it 

as practice—
greasing the groove

for the one 
indestructible, 

changeless move
to come.

*

Although 
no neuron touches—

but shouts  
only "yes/no!" 
to—its neighbors, 

somehow, 
together, they dream 

of a point man
who speaks for them, 

who listens, posits, 
then explains 
the mechanism

of their uncanny 
existence.

*

My mind is like 
the crowns 
of these trees 

which are proud, 
symmetrical, 

dense with leaves—
but which 
nevertheless allow

the wind 
(feral, inconsiderate

old friend 
that it is)
to holler through 

and rend them 
from their 
sycophantic branches 

any old time 
it pleases.



Tuesday, June 29, 2021

OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR

The truth 
about distance 

may never be 
determined,

but over the course 
of a lifetime, we 
have learned 

that now 
is so much 
more demanding 

than belief 
in the future 
ever was—

how 
our movements tended 
to leave a smudge 

on the juxtaposition
of objects 
we loved—

that we did not know 
until we knew

that here 
was the heaven 
we'd always wanted:

the open sky, 
the cadenced plain, 
the words 

(which were 
never quite part 

of ourselves)
all dissolving,

and all 
of the history 
we’d pursued 

until now
in the frame
of the rearview. 


Monday, June 28, 2021

EQUIVOCATION

To become nothing 
but a blip 

in a system 
filled with circuits 

would seem 
like a step 

in a worsening 
direction. But

how do you think 
your intuitions would flip 

if to become something
was to know it, 

whole and private
from the inside,

and to know a thing
was to cherish it 

for the span 
of just this moment—

which, as with 
all previous 

and subsequent 
moments, also consists

of a circuit 
filled with blips

getting broken 
or switched?


Friday, June 25, 2021

HYPERTEXT

"Don't get any 
big ideas," they say 

as if concepts 
had a shape,

took up space,  

put on weight.

"Don't be so 
hormonal," we snap 

as if phonemes 
could cross 
the synaptic gap; 

as if we weren't 
wordlessly
speaking to ourselves.

*

Perhaps experts 
minted profane words
for sex—

for violence, 
infirmity, and
betrayal next—

not because 
they must be 
discussed, but 

rather, to act
as talismans,

so that we wouldn't have to 
contain them.

*

With the web cache 
of hindsight, 
we can now see

the brilliance 
of the 20th century 
poets 

was to mishmash 
their analogies

and to formulate 
their metaphysics so exquisitely  
backwards: 

plainly, ideas 
are not in things

they only exist 
as the bridges 
between them.



Thursday, June 24, 2021

EVENTUALLY

When you were little, 
you were taught 

that time 
is divisible, 

that someone would be coming 
to pick you up

later. 
Even now 

you can't seem to rule out 
the possibility 

of conditional  
rescue entirely—

after all, 
you do not want to die
frightened; 

you'd rather go 
bitter.


The question 
isn't whether 
or not 

a heart comes 
to be broken—

or even 
when and how—
but rather, 

how 
uniquely? 

How beautifully 
scattered is the 
shattering pattern?

This must be the measure 
by which we earn the right  
to call ourselves

extraordinary 
individuals.



Wednesday, June 23, 2021

STAR PHASES

1.

Each instant, undaunted, 
a new future rises, 

then falls, exhausted 
through the present 

into the hole 
of the past it imagines.


2.

If I'm sure of anything, 
it's that stars don't "align"

without the scrawny perspective 
of the bleary-eyed night-worker.

And if they ever touched? 

That wouldn't just be 
a disaster.

More like 
the industrial 
factory that makes them.


3.

Somehow, what once was broken 
may be briefly reassembled 
at the death of the sun;

eons of discord, suddenly inverted,
could become
a pop song. 

And a pop song 
could be a life 
in its sum—

bursts of transient 
color, sound, 
and temperature; 

so far, you're 
not less—and hardly
any more.



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

COUNTING TO INFINITY

Even in doing 
very little, 

every little life 
must accrue. 

In the space 
of time 

it takes a whale
to blink an eye,

uncountable unseeable 
ecosystems are moved,

great galaxies 
implode

long before their constellations'
names become known,

and you—every step, 
at once takes you farther 

from the home 
where you started

and never any closer 
to the place you meant to go.




Monday, June 21, 2021

LONGEST DAY

After fissures 
of lightning,

and the crack 
of thunder is over,

the first day 
of summer 
pours out all over—

the fresh honest light 
of a morning 

seeking nothing—
like a sentence
only started,

or a promise
not yet broken,

still moving-
ly devoid 

of any meaning 
or utility. 


Friday, June 18, 2021

ALONE

It's the brain, 
locked away in silence
inside of its case, 

that causes the moon 
to appear 

larger 
on the horizon—

in order, perhaps, 
to make itself 
less conspicuous 

to silence's stare,

and its distance, 

and its dark.


It's the way, 
when a body stops

for more than 
one second, 

this slithery sense 
of permanence attaches—

the pit in your 
stomach, say; or 

a neutron star 
far away.

*

I feel so alone. 

Remind me again 
what kind of stuff 

we're all 
made of—

bone meal and 
table sugar,

or stardust 
and wave functions,

or diploid cells, 
cloned

and then cloned
and then 

cloned?




Thursday, June 17, 2021

BEGIN AGAIN

First, the curtains.
Then four taps 
on the arrow of the thermostat.

Let the lagging thoughts stray 
all safe 
to their stops.

In soft light, take the white cup 
down 
from its spot, 

and try to keep your focus 
off that word— 
"habitat."


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

COUNTERPOISE

Perhaps tenderness 
is less of a kiss 

than a small buzz 
on the skin,
that momentary itch 

which displaces 
our heretofore 
uniform composure 

in a distinctively  
pleasurable way.

*

Perhaps, the heat
we encounter

when some 
little kindness
from our recent past 

rubs up against 
some rough patch
in our future 

is the same kind 
of friction we mean

when we try 
to speak about 
loving each other. 

*

Perhaps peace 
isn't rest;
it's a reflex 

when life cleaves,
leaving spaces
between—

it's no coincidence 
that our sheaves 
of opinions, 

persuasions, beliefs
all seem to shrivel 
like leaves

when we're finally 
at our most helpless
in sleep.



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

QUANTUM ULTIMATUMS

Perhaps it's high time we 
re-calibrate 
the instruments.

Perhaps if we began 
with our 
second thoughts—

and then 
worked backwards—

we wouldn't get
the answer

but at least
it'd be 
a start.

*

Just try 
to jazz correctly 

and analyse 
these harmonies 

while you're moonstruck 
by the melody, 

and see 
how far you get.

*

On a silent chess-
board, stuck 
in stalemate,

each object 
screams the same 
obvious thing—

our compulsion 
to grasp
the weight 

and the shape 
of each 
piece's intent

is what keeps 
smudging up 
all of the photographs

with some filthy, 
face-shaped
silhouette.



Monday, June 14, 2021

SEEING THINGS WHOLE

When it comes 
to gleaning the 
difference between 

what happens 
and what is

using only 
the tingling 
fingertips of consciousness

running up 
the spine of this
body you stole—

any less 
than confusion 

is far worse 
than useless;

it's much more instructive  
to wonder 
than to know.