Friday, October 22, 2021

NUTS AND BOLTS

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

HALF

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

EDEN

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

WAFFLE

Opportunity knocks,
but it's complexity 
who enters,

inertia who pins you 
when ambition 
overleaps.

In Yeats's day, 
things fell apart—

now, they just 
hang around 
mercilessly, 

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
floor, 

a little more room 
just to jitter 
and wobble?


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.