Thursday, December 30, 2021


At the quietus 
of an old year, let this be 
my decree:

only that I 
be patient—resolute 
as the trees

which stand mangled 
by wind, 
tickled by cold rains, 

or insulted by sleet
which forgets
how to slow.

For I too am exposed  
to every whim
of this climate;

I too 
sometimes dream 
on my feet

of flocks in formation
with their beaks
at true north, 

or the vulnerable shapes
of those first buds 
in April. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


In the free market 

your favorite 
TV show envisions, 

our isolation
as a pre-existing condition;

talk jargon 

because intimacy 
is cheap and too quick-
ly dismissed,

and "numbing-out" 
is finally considered 
a good thing—

synonymous not 
with desensitization, 

but a healthy respect 
for the hard work 
of avarice. 


Maybe in reality, 
the rules 
of engagement 

by which 
we had governed our 
most successful wars

were not as fixed 
as we'd previously 
been assured;

rather, they existed
as a random pastiche 

of late night show monologues, 
Lenten confessionals, 

memorized stump speeches,
and Shakespearean soliloquies 

overhead, truncated,
scrutinized to pieces, 

then placed into a hat
to be taken out 
of context.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


Like rats 
in their mazes, 
or fish in the ocean,

so much emotion 
is trapped 
inside language. 

But when we try 
to free the anguish
enmeshed in our speeches

or crack the vast 
lightness that's 
stored in our poems, 

the outcomes 
are more than a little 

for the sprung feeling 
can't last where it 
doesn't belong, 

and it soon 
retreats back to the 
refuge of its prison—

the only other option 
being: certain 

Monday, December 27, 2021


Perhaps this virus
isn't just trolling us;

perhaps, like an 
overtaxed capitalist or 
reformed absent father, 

it's touring us 
by the millions, 

desperate to find 
the consummate 
picturebook vacation home—

a respite from the cold 
of its walking-
dead existence, 

a substitute 
for the warm hearth
(pathetic as that is).

And perhaps, 
minute after minute, 
its zombie hopes 
are dashed afresh, 

as it checks in 
to another one,

kicks off its shoes
in a bid to relax, 

and takes a blithe 
look around—
only to find 

it's got nothing 
but clones 
of itself to spend 
time with. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021


All of your crowded 
desolate days

now stand bruised  
behind X's on the calendar.

It figures: only on the verge of this 
next reincarnation

does all of your deep-
frozen hope start to crack.

In the next room, revelers 
move strangely to boiler-plate music,

but right now, it's you 
who feels clunky, underwater—

as if, somehow you've waded 
too deep in a lake,

waiting for their searchlights, 
flair guns, or sirens;

but nobody cries out 
to warn of your mistake; 

no person jumps 
up and down on the shore;

no one, with arms waved, is 
calling you back.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


Already, I see it's getting late.
Soon, I must head out 
to rake and gather

all that I've done 
and failed to do 

and, without separating 
one from the other, 

to set fire to the bunch—
hear the words pop,
watch the deeds crackle.

For only then can I resume
my odd processes

of writing notes to myself 
and making friends 
idle promises 

in the purified, ashen, desolate space 
which another December's
conflagration opens up.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


For all the anticipation, 
the end
is so sudden;

we are thrust
at the future, like drunks 
at grim dawn.

And the bracing scents
of pine and fir needles
offer little consolation 

when the sky here 
is almost as besotted 
as the ground.

Back in summer, we 
felt certain—in autumn, 

the hand we held
was perfect; the love we had
was sound.

Now, starved for light,
in a surplus 
of seclusion—

amid gift cards,
bright carols, infusions
of wine—all we want 

is to find our way back; 
all we need 
is more time.

Monday, December 20, 2021


What is silence
but our home 

I mean—
not the current one, 
but the place 

where we came from.
Each time we open 
our mouths to speak, 

we must sneak 
from its windows 
and flee the perimeter.

But over and over 
(in our scramble), 
we spill 

one more precious thing 
which can never 
be refilled;

and, flustered 
and frightened, we retreat 
there again, 

locking the silent door 
of our childhood 

before we flop down 
on the bed 

in the shape 
(and the muteness) of 
a fetus in the womb, 

we grab the 
silent radio 
knob with one hand, 

status-quo parents 
be damned—

we twist hard 
as we can—really 
crank up the volume.

Friday, December 17, 2021


If existence has no meaning, 
surely, it must at least 
have an undertone—

like that resonance 
you still hold 
at the tip 

of your nose, 
even after a bell 
is done ringing;

or the mysterious color 
of light on the limestone 

the instant an afternoon 
flows into night.

Perhaps we simply fall   
into the mood 
of believing 

we've endured this far 
only by measuring 
the distance 

not as the difference 
of now minus then, 

but a collection 
of formerly useful

as many different 
colored ribbons,

misshapen, slightly shredded, 
torn from ex-birthday gifts,

saved in a old shoe box 
underneath the bed. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021


To the old woman—
but elaborate, 

caning her way through this
noisy supermarket;

removing every egg carton,
groping all the fruit; 

yet expectant in each instant 
to endure;

focused on pleasure 
as abstraction, not sensation;

uncertain and determined 
in profoundly 
equal measure—

this is just to say, 
you and I are too alike:

every day, we're surprised 
to find ourselves 
still alive 

on this magic-tinged 
slice of our 
fascinating world;

and yet, we still oftentimes
relish being silent, 

our disappointment, savor
being bored.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021


With hindsight, 
distance sometimes wears a halo 
of affection.

After all, 
something dark—

something ignorant—
connects the stars;

what must it feel like
to pass that gap
between them, 

to love that thing most 
which you'd never 
come back to—

what sort of next-
level closeness 
does that reflect? 


If you were to watch me 
from the porthole 

of a fast enough rocket, 
at a far enough distance, 

would I smear out 
like an arpeggio 
of notes?

would the last thing I told you 
remain ripe 
in my throat?

When you go, 
I can only hope to remain 
frozen to this spot,

so that, from your point 
of view, 

I will always be 
saying this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


There are few 
to no leaves 
this nadir of December—

yet the wind is still playing 
in the limbs 
of the sycamores.

To witness 
just this 
on an afternoon street 

is stranger than unvarnished truth,
more nourishing 
than food or drink.

How lucky, for an instant or two—
to find oneself 

standing downstream 
from the brutal effusion 
of tomorrow's mad mysteries 

and sitting on the cap  
of the jar 
of human history.

At least, so far—at least 
til the very next breeze 

and gratitude's 
vast volume
must be cataloged anew. 

Monday, December 13, 2021


Just now, on a screen 
whose dimensions 
you can't believe,

whatever remained
of your narrative 
is dissolving.

Meaning well, 
you move to grab 
and hold yourself 

as a little kid—
but alas, the only way 
to touch him

is to catch him
doing the wrong thing.


never swerves 
from the center of the horizon.

Does this thought leave you
intrigued, or sick 
and distraught?

the next sound you hear 

may be the last; 
it may be 

addressed to you—
or perhaps 

it may not. 

The contact high 
is temporary;

soon we will have no recollection 
of these stars.
As if 

such faultless darkness 
were really the force 
of genius 

making its meaning heard
above the torrent 
of piss—as if 

having learned 
the word 
for inscrutable    

were the same 
as comprehending it.

Friday, December 10, 2021


One by one, 
as if on 
assembly lines,

weapons are built
in the shape of 
men and women. 

The more complex,
the simpler 
the launch code;

The greater 
their significance,
the more localized

the payload.


What's another 
person to us 

but a discrepancy 
in a pressure gradient

whose absence 
we miss 

like a pea 
from a mattress?


The message 
at the end 
is that 

is a fiction;

cannot be fixed. 

How dare 
the letters 
that make up your name

ever be 

to spell 
other things?

Thursday, December 9, 2021


All minds are made up 
of near-
infinite wheels—

but only the poet's 
is filled with 
their turning.

Make no mistake, 
she's no more ardent 
than the rest; 

in fact, she disbelieves 
all she's learned
from the fire.

For her, 
the shape and flicker 
of words on a page 

speaks less 
of the march of 
indelible flames, 

and more 
the untellable sensation 
of burning. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021


The world remains balanced 
on its axis 
like this: 

half the planet thinks
their belief 
in false promises 

must make them slightly 
more likely 
to be fulfilled—even if 

it's after the fact, 
ad hoc, and 
out of guilt. 

The rest must believe 
things that happen 
aren't random, 

but are fixed and legitimate 
to their questions;

no matter what, 
they must take it 
for granted

that anything real—
even their own 

is evidence 
of something 
even more essential 

which cannot be measured,
but can still get
covered up. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021


If you still don't know
the difference 

between poetry 
and prose—

go run some errand;
go walk a few miles
in a midwestern winter

in a pair of wool 
socks and stiff 
waterproof boots—then 

come inside, 
undress in the dark, 
and cross, 

just once
from end to end 

the lonesome hallowed hallway
that is most 
of your apartment

one step, then the next,
on its warm bars 
of hardwood—

in nothing 
but your bare toes.

Monday, December 6, 2021


In the long run, even 
the guru 

I wish I was 
still curious about 

what it's like 
to be me;

I wish I still was

in the beautiful blue 
of new bruises. 

When I write these things now, 
does it sound like 
I have a tendency 

to take myself 
as the exception? 

Very well then:
I admit, I stand alone, 

by my breaks 
and overuses—

and I wait 
in seclusion
for all that I've lost 

to be dreamed of
in this poem. 

Friday, December 3, 2021


A solution 
to the hitch at the end 
has been found: 

turns out, our philosophy 
was backwards and 
upside down.

Turns out, God 
was not only here, 
but embedded—

tangled in the moss 
and installed in 
all the pebbles.

In that case, 
perhaps you were not 
your thoughts after all, 

but the tiny anxious blanks 
which were fixed 
in between them. 

Go back, then, 
in pursuit of your 
newly found smallness—

your drooling 
chin and 
waning attention—

clap your chubby hands 
at the coincidences 
which spin 

while music chimes
above your crib.

Thursday, December 2, 2021


the bold future 

standpoint epistemology: 
what you know, 

to know it. 


At present, the child 
is an untenable species; 

the deep hole
that guards what you think 
from who you are

is black 
and large 
and hungry enough

to gobble the sun of discovery. 
But for those 
who hold fast,

who stand curious,
who remain waiting;
the worst 

will always be a shortcut 
to epiphany.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


The whole thing starts off 
innocent enough:

your waking up 
to yourself 
that first morning. 

Then, the endless 
imitations will start. 
First, it's the sharks 

who are chasing after.
But soon, it's: whatever—

you're the one 
chasing them.

Before long, 
you find you're 
no longer enamored

with the passing,
and the waiting, 

and all the anxious 
blanks. Jesus calls 
you boring, 

and Satan commands 
you to iterate faster

while lashing your back, 
as if this were 
life and death—

which, of course,
so far, it isn't—
until that one morning 

when the script flips,
and it is.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021


A poem worth its salt 

because it doesn't. 
Its words are false 

whose vices 
are all too real.

Recall how a meal
is coerced 
to taste less bitter

when a brackish tang 
makes neutral 
seem sweet;

by such oblique action, 
each line teaches 

not what, 
but how—

and how much—
to feel.

Monday, November 29, 2021


One of late fall's cruelest tricks—
the repeating patterns 
of symmetrical bramble 

where abundance 
and plenty 
and multiplicity once stood.

No more ears 
of colored kernels on 
the corn stalks, 

no moss 
among the farmhouse bricks.
And elsewhere, across 

every deserted city park, 
warped baseball diamond, 
desiccated front lawn,

stems, trunks, vines, stalks—
all blossoming 
with the colorless 

fruit of autumn's sameness, 
all in illustrious bloom
with our loss.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


Our days are pervaded 
with so much sweetness 

that often, it's counter-
productive to notice. 

Ever realize 
how it's alright 

that you don't know 
what the birds are saying?

You are not living 
at the end of time;

tomorrow will arrive.
There is nothing 

you can do—
or need to.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


though it is, 

has its upside—

which is (of course)
that no downside 

In heaven, for instance,
what "is" 
is less precious, 

doesn't mean as much— 
and perhaps 
that means more
than we're willing
to admit.


And God said, 
fear not;
to me you are more valuable 

than a whole flock 
of sparrows.

And some who were assembled there 
tried hard not to wonder, 

how many birds really count 
as a flock?

And a few others 
started pulling bows back 
with arrows.

And the rest sort of toed the ground,
or else turned aside 
and coughed.


What is a soul?—
but our sense
of denial,

famously bitter
and let out 
on the prowl.

The look on its face says, 
I'm adamant
I'm elsewhere.

Nothing that happened here
ever mattered 

Monday, November 22, 2021


Nothing gold can 
stay, he wrote,

but nothing 
turned precious 
overnight, either.

Treasure is so 
because, first,
it's been lost;

and that need 
burns worst which 
takes longest 

to arrive.
Like diamond 
from coal, 

the obstruction 
tends the goal—

the mind 
must be squeezed 
til it caves 

into a soul.

Friday, November 19, 2021


It's frightening, isn't it?— 
to find ourselves 
so groundlessly romantic, 

so swept up in the strange 
and the dangerous 
side of sanguine. 

I mean, how conceited—
how reckless 
can you get?

To sit there and wait 
for just the right bird
to perch in your soul 

and sing her unending 
song without words?
Forget about 

the thing with feathers—
perhaps hope 
is that open road

piercing the horizon,
but coincidence
was finding 

some time on your hands,
a tank full of gas,
and no map.

Thursday, November 18, 2021


Some days, 
I'm content
that my head remains 

a black box.
Instead I wish
my chest
was made 
out of glass—

then, you'd
so clearly 
be able to see, 

in my heart, 
how I'm always 

trying to do 
my best.

No matter 
what else;

even when 
it might be killing me;

even when I smile
and insist 
"this is fine,"

you would see 
that I believe it, 

even though you
know I'm 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


In heaven,
there's honestly 
so little action,

it's a good night 
when the grandkids bicker; 

it's Christmas when 
businessmen step 
onto ledges;

it's a main event 
when Mars attacks. 

and abraded edges 

are the hottest incognito 
internet searches.

is like ice 

in a delicious glass 
of bourbon 
to us, 

and panic 
is our music—

though you would not want 
to call it that.


Here at the bottom, 

in the dark, 
in the wet

where impressions interbreed 
with postulates—

that is where we sit 
in judgement,

while they 
stand and sway 
from foot to foot 

for reasons 
their conscience won't let 
them suspect,

for want of a pot 
in which 
to piss.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


Ironically, it's usually
the most ageless
of knowledge 

which stubbornly refuses 
to be handed down.

Hence, generations 
have mostly failed 
to notice 

how those of us who acquiesce 
to that stubborn injunction 
to make time 

are always 
the most hungry for it, 
always the first to kill it,

always the most desperate 
to change on a dime.

those of us who are out here 
zealously copy-
and-pasting the past

after years, become satisfied
to dream less,

to wake up in the same place 
a different kind 
of depressed, 

to only entertain 
(but never befriend)

our increasingly 
unambiguous conception  
of lonely.

Monday, November 15, 2021


In as much as 
you will feel compelled 
to continue 

to run up that hill 
at the end of 
your dreams,

as life within you
and without you 
will spar

and the story
you are trying to tell
will careen—

that's the extent 
to which 
you will lose just about

you have received 
thus far.

But the one thing
you must try to keep 
is your thanks

that whatever 
after the loses

must be the only stuff 
made to endure:
a soul 

which does not care 
in praise of which epitome 
it sings—

an essence which is made 
of the meat 
of what change is.

Friday, November 12, 2021


just underneath
the clamor 

of the Earth 
as she's heaving 

her second-
to-last breath;

just in-between
our having come this far 

and the chaotic way 
we are cleft 
as we leave—

an absence 

a silence 
that speaks.

There are moments, it says, 
when we can't act 
as we must;

there are endings 
far more everlasting 
than heaven—

yet less abrupt 
than death. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021


You say the rules are simple,
yet the game is

it's not 
that we don't want to die, 
but that we actually can't. 

These names attached 
feel so clever, so singular; 
each word 

conveys no sense 
of reconstituting 

If now is always now, 
you contend, then the leaving
will not be registered.

Beyond you, ceaselessly,
somewhere, the ocean 
is crashing

but there's no pain
to the impact, 
no ennui in the sighs, 

no bereavement
in the heaving.
So why are you running so fast 

to kill 
hunger pangs 
for an afterlife?

Why are you not trying 
to copy that?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


          There are things that are important beyond 
          all this fiddle.
               -Marianne Moore

The truth is 
that art isn't 
worth all that much.

The laundry is 
far more important 
than poetry; 

a picture's 1000 
word minimum 
is short work for autofill. 

But still, 
there is something 
beyond pleasure 

in the slightest accord 
between violin strings.
It's in the way 

the whole thing shimmers
where its parts 
made no difference, 

or else strained 
in imitation; 
the way a lack 

of explanation 
satisfies our yearning 
for inconsequence.  

A poem has no instructions, 
but once read,
achieves summation—

a baby's cry 
means nothing, but delivers 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021


The way, 

old thoughts come 
back around—

only this time, upside-

or a little off-

reminds you a little of 
swarming ghosts 

in a midnight soirée 
at an old haunted mansion.

When they were alive, 
each of them 

used to know you, 
used to love you, perhaps—

but now that 
is finished. 

And yet, each of them
shows up here,

and they all sing
as one. 

The tune is monotonous; 
the mood gloomy,

but blithe. 
As if each one 

has left something minor 

Monday, November 8, 2021


can feign ignorance 
all that you want, 

but the truth is 
it always happens 
like this: 

there is at first
a burst, 

a bubbling rush 
of enthusiasm—

a flair 
of righteous ardor—

after which 
any giddy thought
of advancement 

fizzles out—
or else burns, 

even beyond the traumatized victim's
to identify. 


Who am I 
to deny the bitter-sweetness

of a tragic complicity 
such as this? 

That the long-sought-after 
if found to be the inverse 
shape of what's gone missing.

Each night, 
it seems impossible 

yet trivially true to me: 
you are not here. 

But where 
is "not here?" 

Anyplace I don't exist. 

Friday, November 5, 2021


Yet again, I look 
at the clock 

just to be sure 
that time has passed.

From somewhere 
or other, I seem
to hear strings 

of words being uttered,
originating elsewhere

before passing 
through purgatory 
and terminating here.

So I close my eyes once more 
against the din 
of recognition 

and imagine 
I'm a sleepwalker 
holding out his fists, 

trudging alone
through the cramped decor 
of his own thoughts—

Ignorant of all 
he is saying 
or doing, 

even after it has happened.

Tag—you're It. 

And what It is
is a mistake—

but who ever heard of 
a mistake 
that has a system;

whose papers were filed 
in the proper order, 

which is bonded, 

a mistake which is 
a nonzero vector,

with an origin 
all its own

and an arrow 
of direction?

Thursday, November 4, 2021


How many things 
will I have to change 
my mind about 

in order to to become 
a completely 
new person? 

Could a process 
this mysterious 

be undertaken gradually? 
Will I resist it?
Would I have 

had to begin it 


Wherever two or more 
are gathered in my name...

Let us call that 
brand of resolve

not "contraction."

Let's also call "pressure"
by it's first name: 



To have been 
together then.

To one day be 
together again.

Then and again,
in these kerneled 

are everything
we care about 

when it comes
to forever.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021


Content to fall short
(nothing else 
will do),

with that which is good, 

is a verb to you.
They say—
the also-rans 

rarely make the news.
But you know the also-rans 
are the ones who will watch it,

to find themselves 
otherwise unoccupied.

I'd like to inhabit 
the warm flesh of 
your quiet 

so soft it's almost edible);
I'd like to steal 

more time—
and fill it up 
with you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


After all the redundant striations
of heaven are gathered 
together and observed,

whatever feeling 
is conserved must be
the imaginary—i.e. 

only seen by you 
or me. In the universe 
of the majority,

this is what's known 
as one's 
"default position."


Throughout the static fullness
of conventional eternity, 

is so tiny, 


ly exaggerated—

and above all these,  
always so insistent 

on beginning. 


The most extraordinary thing 
that ever will be 

has got to be plain old 

around an infinitesimal 
point of rotation.

It's heartbreaking,
isn't it? How 
everything changes 

so finely 
on the premise 

that one thing stays
the same.

Monday, November 1, 2021


Morning after morning, 
all the hairs are lined up 
by their lengths 
to be split—

and the domino columns 
are counted 
which are all to be ruined 
in midair.

In rooms 
and in streets, then,
the real progress begins; 
one by one, 

the synonyms are deployed—
replacing each EVERY 
with one lonely ONLY.
The way forward, 

once enacted, cannot be 
destroyed. Evening 
after evening, aren't you

Friday, October 29, 2021


Harm—I mean 
the winged
fire-breathing sort, 

with intent—isn't rare 
or made-up. It's 
everywhere you look. 

Long ago, it was 
often pursued 

by those who would 
maim themselves 
just to claim its jewels.

Currently, though,
it's simply mis-

as it flutters
from camp to 
decimated camp

as Help—even though, 
by now, this has got to be 

the oldest trick 
in the 
holiest book.

Thursday, October 28, 2021


Looking back, 
some would say 
we're obsessed. 

But it isn't quite like that. 
We were told 
when we arrived 

that wealth 
would be plentiful

just as water 
was wet—

that we'd live 
to be much older 
than our parents' generation, 

just as soon 
as we re-bolted the gate, 

every threat. 

So we check, 
and double-

and triple-check 
the locks; 
we circle back

and look 
with microscopes 
and magnifying glasses 

for the faint shapes 
of the arrows 

which we know they 
must have 
humanely painted 

on the floor of the maze 
before they left. 

Now, the thing that 
we're desperate to find 
we cannot shake,

and what we want 
to hold most 
we cannot possess:

a life which
at once feels both penetrable 
and safe.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


Despite its 
undoubted lack 
of marriage at the end,

before fade- 
to-black, I would like 
to have said

my life 
was a fairly ambitious 
amateur movie—

by plot, and excruciatingly 
slow at times;

but all the while 
by a kind of 

almost maniacal, 
ham-fisted take on material 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021


After generations spent
working hard at your desk, 
you head out at last

for that walk. 
which once offered coveted shade

and chattered 
their small talk 
in virile June breezes—

now crunch smoothly
as you junket,

your open jacket 
blown back behind you 
with each chilly gust.

You pass jack-o-lanterns, 
inflatable ghosts, 
grinning skulls pitched askance

on each proudly
ragged lawn. 
Gradually at first,

your thoughts 
turn to patterns,
which weave

and then merge with 
the rhythm of your feet. 
Never in your life 

has air tasted
quite like this. You know it
now: every prior hour 

you did not choose
to squander 
as a waste. 

Monday, October 25, 2021


Late in October, 
all things pursue ease.

yellowish, moldy, 
and brittle—all matter, 
all space making peace.

All of us, too
are seeking release;
All at once, 

our eyes, 
knees, and speech 
will grow weak.

What we loved most—
what we sought 
(so we think) 

from the world 
more than pleasure 
or experience—

was security:
a clean embrace, order 
in the storm, shelter 

from the subsequent 
wreck. But now, 
we haven't got 

the spirit left 
to wonder: 
what sort of terrible 

miracle comes next? 
What summer child 
could be born 

of this marriage 
between solemnity 
and death? 

Friday, October 22, 2021


There are lots 
and lots of 
pretty things out there,

but true beauty 
is rare; 

like a blank spot 
which does not cry out 
to be filled in,

the kind of quiet 
which does not announce

"I am keeping quiet" 
in a stage whisper.

We have seen it seldom, 
as we are far too poor 
to afford ourselves 

to notice:
how fortuneless, 
how willing we are

to sacrifice experience 
to the god 
of Having Been There

when really, it was everywhere
(that's why the instruments 
couldn't measure it).

All along, the allure
was attention itself,

not the purported locality 
of its center;
it was the laughing, 

not the laughter; 
the actual fact 
of being seated here together,

not the table 
or the chairs.

Thursday, October 21, 2021


The experts are quite clear 
about talking in absolutes. 
They say 

the matter we encounter 
and the energy feel

is just half 
of a conversation 

we were not meant 
to overhear.


Let's face it. Relationships 
have always been a gamble. 

And what is a gambler—
if not a little unstable? 

Like a blip
in a machine, he thinks 
he is special; 

he thinks 
he alone can read 
the clutter of chips on the table.

Just the same way, 
we seem to think 
that luck 

can be stacked;
we recall

how we happened to win
the jackpot once, 

and we honestly believe 
that the past 
makes comebacks.

For eons,  the pious moon
has only been showing us one
of its faces. 

What on earth are we 
supposed to take 
from that? 

It must not be safe yet
to be ourselves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


That moment 
when you see a 
snake's tail 

rammed so incautiously 
down it's own throat—

what comes to mind? 
For me, it's:

even the rocks 
are rented; 

even the air 
is tied in knots.


Over time, my passwords 
have grown longer, and so much 
less intelligible,

and I am responsible 
for fewer and fewer of them—

it's how I know, 
not only that entropy 
must be increasing, 

but that I am complicit 
in this clusterfuck of justice, 

this snarl of radiation,
which is, even now, 
both splintering 

to bits and evening 
things out.

As if 
|the absolute value 
of the wave function| squared 

were as equal 
to The Real

as your little pliant groan 
of an exhale on the pillow

as you drift on a ship 
toward an islanded dream 

which you invented, 
then discovered—and which 

I am forever 
forbidden to visit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


Opportunity knocks,
but it's complexity 
who enters,

inertia who pins you 
when ambition 

In Yeats's day, 
things fell apart—

now, they just 
hang around 

dilating over time 
and merging 
with technology—installing 

automatic updates 
while you sleep 

with all the 
feigned ignorance 
of Judas's kiss. 


Personally, I think it's 
a bit of a 
no brainer; 

I don't dare 
disturb the universe 

because the future 
is determined.

But isn't it probable—
that what the world needs now 

isn't more love, 
but more 
built-in excuses,

a secret trap door 
in a metaphysical

a little more room 
just to jitter 
and wobble?

Monday, October 18, 2021


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-

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 
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 

Friday, October 15, 2021


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


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


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 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


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- 

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 

and mellow. 

Friday, October 8, 2021


It can perhaps be tricky
to remember,
but your beliefs

are neither
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
and its death rattle:

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

Thursday, October 7, 2021


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


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 

In a blink, some ghostly 
scenario behind my eyes flows

from unthought
to available—

to forboding—
to unthinkable.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021


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 only just discovered  
when we met. 

Monday, October 4, 2021


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 specters 
of ourselves.

Friday, October 1, 2021


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


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


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


After standing alone 
outside of it all 
since before immemorial, 

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 

could have written this." 

"direction is effective 
but ultimately 


What have I got to lose? 

Among the bumps 
and depressions 

of a black and blue 
the only things moving 

were some shadows 
and their fingers.


In the terrible dreams 
that I've been having 

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

whether or not 
you still love me, 

but whether or not 
you believe 
that you do.

Monday, September 27, 2021


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


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, 

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

Already, our attention lapses; 
we know

there won't really be a next time.

Thursday, September 23, 2021


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

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


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 

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


Every day, 
fresh trauma 
is minted,

is deemed 
too precious 
to spend—

is saved 

is recklessly 

is obsessively 

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


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


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


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


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


The way night
bookends day—would you call that 

Haiku would choose 
to name it
red sundown, 

streetlamp shadows 
creeping through the park grass;

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

grown satisfactorily 
too cool 
to drink.

Monday, September 13, 2021


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

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 

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


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 

this mute feeling 
of distance between us

into a thought 
even god couldn't hold.

Thursday, September 9, 2021


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 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021


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, 

the big take-away?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021


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


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


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 
in a minute.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


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


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


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


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


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 

my own death.


For every toss 
that just feels wrong, 

there comes 
a semi-
righteous turn—

a neutron 
drips radiation, 

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


After all the thick music 
and the bleak 
diary entries,

after Nobel prizes 
and analyses 
are accepted—

isn't a poem just 
a little machine:

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

one frame 
of a dream? 

Is it not a we
divided by me

a body on a page
stalked offstage 
by a concept?

Or, shall we make it
even easier to defend 

and claim it's 
more like a novel 

with everything 
but the intensest feelings 
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


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, 

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—

all the while, of course,
to keep your soul

at arm's length
and pay it 
no attention.