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.