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.