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?