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.