Monday, January 31, 2022


For almost as long 
as the world 
has been turning, 

we too 
have been doing our best 
to keep busy—

on narrowing the parentheses 
surrounding our doubts

and diligently screwing 
our faces up 
toward heaven—

not with the intent 
to discern 
if it's up there, 

but rather, 
to repeat 
(all the better to memorize—

first master, 
then internalize, 
then make automatic)

the mechanic of our looking, 
so we don't have to 
try anymore.

Friday, January 28, 2022


makes everything 
less exact. 

In the haze of its falling, 
faraway birds
turn ellipses 

as if newly unsure 
of the depth 
of the air. 

many city dwellers 
curse and fear 

not just the loss 
of accessible paths,

but how indiscriminate 
precipitation's verdict is—

how equitably 
its capricious largess 
is bestowed.

Nevertheless, there are 
fortunes to be made yet
in mining the gap 

between what 
each majestic 
fresh blanket is worth 

and how much 
it seems to cost.

Thursday, January 27, 2022


Each morning, as I sit 
in exceptional silence 

in my permanent-reserve pew 
in the church 
of austerity, 

a cloud will invariably 
darken the windows

as a chipped plate is 
soberly handed around. 

And each time, 
I find myself 
giving a little more 

than I found myself comfortable 
giving before. 

From the gloom,
I seem to watch, 
as if far removed,

as private rooms within me, 
one be one, 
are handed over;

I watch as they mingle
like garden pebbles 
in the moonlight

with the hard, flinty reticence
of a billion more parishioners 

whom I suppose to be sitting 
at this very moment 

in similar shrines 
of their own private making.

And I find it to be
both a curse and a privilege—
a boon and a crime

that I'm 
compelled to pay more
than my share of this debt

which seems far too enormous
to legitimately exist.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Too much beauty, 
when viewed all at once,

is disturbing to the eye 
and makes
no sense.

It's as if 
we have no choice 

but to see 
what's beyond 
as odd and expendable—

as if, all along, 
it has just been the outside
world versus us.

But of course 
we can't see
it's this whole outlandish place—

from the dirt underfoot, 
to the oceans on the planet,

to the whole enthralling, 
utterly chaotic 
fever dream of a universe—that's essential;

and it's the erratic actor
who fritters and struts
that cares too much,

and yet, is superfluous—
born uncertain, 

gone just 
as mysterious.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022


When you think of it, 
true genius 

can only be 
as rare 
as stupidity. 

Of finesse 
and expertise, of course
very few can speak;

and yet, 
in our dreams

however lonely, 
amorous, or horrible—

however brassy technicolor
or dishwater brown and 
tarnished silver—

are justified 
moment by moment solely 
by the fact of their unfolding),

each of us 
is brimming 
with vision and prowess.

No sleeper 
was ever particular, 


but all are quite

every one's 
an artist.

Monday, January 24, 2022


Eventually, every one of us
must bow 
to the mystery:

that our life 
was a gift 
we could not have been granted

because we 
were not standing there prior 
to accept.

And yet, 
somehow, we received it
without our ever touching—

like infrared heat 
from distant forked lightning, 

or the faint crackle of pirate 
radio stations,

or a radical new theory's 
full implications.

To think,
none of this 
was even close 

to predestined;
but now, how much is so 
coolly presupposed?

But the real question is: 
what'll we do with this gift 
we were given—

this deep and soulful 
undulating pattern

of presence and absence
which simulates
an existence—

now that it's taken a shape 
we can recognize 

and a name that we know 
as our own?

Friday, January 21, 2022


Isn't it strange
how there are so many
things in life that hurt

but are commonplace enough 
to go right on 
living with? 

Perhaps, in the end, 
all the people 
and words

which are impossible to forget 
are really a curse;

perhaps the best moments 
are the ones you 
can't recall:

the ones which gave nothing
and asked the same in return;

perhaps it's a mercy 
to remain distant,

perhaps if you had 
cared more, you would have 
fared worse.

"Anything is possible" 
is the province of astrologists—

a refrain 
sung by dodgers
and foolhardy mystics.

If anything, 
in the end, 
the exceptional person

is the one who would posit
the inverse:

"this is nowhere near 
where I dreamed I'd be—
but it works."

Thursday, January 20, 2022


Amazingly, somehow
a whole flock 
of comets—

or the ice and dust rings 
of some massive 

have crash-landed 
on the streets of Chicago.

Now, it seems 
everywhere I go, 

odd bits of gravel,
salt cinders, snow

have blotted every curb, 
sidewalk, underpass,
and gutter, 

hindering breathing 
and impeding travel.

Who could have guessed?
All this beyond-ancient
jetsam of space—

all of its ghostly, 
beguiling debris

(which I used to only
see on TV 

or splashed around 
in glossy
school textbook photographs),

when it's piled up
in front of me, doesn't seem 
so special.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022


That first day 
when I'm quiet, 

but the sound of the world 
still hums—

when my pen lies still 
and this page 
remains empty, 

but the truth 
is completed,
and the inquest is done—

let it be because 
there is nothing left to seek;

no loose earth 
and quick-
drying cement 

to plug and cover 
the holes, bore-in deep 
by the forceps of grief;
no gauze 
to wrap over these 
implausible scars; 

and no one 
who needs to see 
for themselves to believe 

the face I am wearing 
that day 
will show up there,

for they,
on their own, will have 
finally realized

for once, how 
contented—how at peace 
I truly was. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


The very first time 
we were lugged inside 
the sacristy, 

swaddled and screaming, 
then paraded 
through the nave—

it was then we should've realized
that something 
wasn't right: 

how our truth 
was a sin, 

and our sin 
was the truth;

that our bodies, 
which were heretofore 
made of perfect ratios 

of fat and heat
and light 

now felt constricted 
inadequate, and tight—

while cold chrism, 
drizzled listless
in those echoey rooms,

and the grave-like indifference  
of their cold marble pools,

and the cruel, fearful symmetry 
of responsorial tunes

these ordeals ballooned
to a wretched eternity,

just the way 
hell might.

Monday, January 17, 2022


No longer contented
to be 
the rain falling 

steady on the plain—
same gray color 
as the background, 

each blade indistinguishable, 
as they're all 
shaped the same—

we decided to make our 
selves more complex 
and elaborate; 

so we got our 
core temperatures 
quite a bit colder,

whipped our loose 
molecules into 
scrupulous crystals,  

and built brilliant white 
around humble specks of dirt.

Now, as we fall 
through the air, 
it is clear: 

that none of us 
is exactly the same 
as any other—

just like 
every other 
snowflake that's out here.

Friday, January 14, 2022


Have you ever noticed 
how electrons 
don't get dirty 

no matter how hard 
or fast they go 
careening around—

how photons almost never 
have plans 
for the future—

how bosons don't have 
bad memories, and quarks 
don't get scars? 

here we sit anyhow,
under the same old stars, 

to make sense of
what can't be accounted for,

without ever realizing 
what poverty
that brings.

It's as if, all our lives, 
we have looked 
without seeing 

that each part
was perfectly sufficient—

but, left to its 
own devices, never
meant anything.

Thursday, January 13, 2022


Some day, I must be
braver than this

and establish my own religion—
one in which I
permit things

which amaze me
to exist.

And perhaps, while I'm at it,
I'll allow what's amusing
to matter a little bit.

And who knows?
After careful consideration,

maybe I'll even be
hard-pressed to admit

that the reason
its passé Sunday services
should persist

is to give all our grandmothers
a halfway decent reason

to remember to videotape
the figure skating competition,

to lay out smart shoes
and to powder their noses,

and to keep their short
blue-ish white
hair coiled-up

in those perfectly
tight little
beautiful roses.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022


Perhaps our ignorance 
isn't just abstract;

if we really
looked close, perhaps
we'd see it rippling

in waves from the ends 
of our fingers
and eyelashes

outward to anyplace 
our bodies don't exist. 

But suppose 
the bright edges
which separate us from it 

are so sharp 
and so thin 

that the slightest 
careless twist
or overzealous maneuver 

could shred 
any stray opinion, 
narrative, or wish 

to ribbons 
so thin 

as to make it 
worse than useless 

to endeavor 
to stitch them back 
together again. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022


From the sweetly obliviating 
embrace of our sleep—

from beneath 
the huge weight 
of our dream-engulfed bodies

and the pleasant completeness 
of our sense-
deprived weakness—

each morning,
we nevertheless manage 
to persist

in our rising up 
and striving toward 
uncatchable light

like the bright-eyed 
of age-old heroic myth.

That, despite the perfection 
of dark's edgeless neglect,
we still willingly 
swim back to the surface 
and yearn, 

still volunteer freely 
to hunger 
and to thirst;

surely, this speaks to some
unshakable belief.

That day after day,
we still find 
that we wake 

and edge
toward the bathroom 

or the kitchen 
with a taste 

for the dully corporeal—
for anything 
at all, really:

this is our greatest profession
of faith. 

Monday, January 10, 2022


Little by little—
molecule by molecule—

our past 
becomes our future

like a shell 
which keeps accreting; 

like a bone 
that fills with marrow;

like a black speck of sand 
blown by destitute wind

which promotes 
fallow hill 

up to 
sovereign king mountain;

or the mollusk
that secretes a fluid

turning irritants 
to pearls, 

which—once glimpsed 
by the desperate 

men aboard the trawler—
cause every eyebrow

and possibility
to narrow. 

Friday, January 7, 2022


Instead of the me
which is bent 
in half writing,
I could come back 
as the lily 
of the field 

whose full blossom 
signals the beginning 
of the end;

the bird of the air 
who, if her children are 
to eat,

must make a leap
and leave their nest

or perhaps, the grimy rodent 
who scrounges your alley 
in search of a feast 

because his habitat 
has been upended by 
a luxury condo development.

That there would be 
no words 
to describe

my rudimentary  
grief and 
primordial anxieties

would then be 
the quandary 
of the poet on the street,

for it wouldn't impress me—
wouldn't bother me 
in the least.

Thursday, January 6, 2022


Due to a 
profitless surplus 
of data, 

the fact of the matter 
is no longer

and your belief
is an option 
just waiting to be chosen—

like a message
from a corner of 
an origami fortune teller: 

"Don't count on it,"
one says.

"It's your destiny,"
reads another.

But everyone's favorite is
"Ask again later!"


The full implication 
of your will 
to exist 

is bound-up in 
the significance
of whatever happens next:

exerts power 
over time, 

and moves without friction 
across the face 
of the waters—

or else,
two single cells
consent to share a nucleus, 

from floor to ceiling,

then come 
to a consensus

about what to name
the thing 
they're feeling.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022


as it is childish,

nebulous, yet 
painfully explicit—

the January wind 
starts its
bellowing again;

shellacking right angles 
onto ice-
embittered avenues,

lambasting me
(and the rest 
of Chicago)

right here 
in the street

for things I didn't do
last year—but 
meant to.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022


Once in a while, 
we may restart
from zero

counting all 
the days 
we have lived through;

we can return 
to those moments
our hearts still remember—

all the whispered warnings 
whose words we 
didn't hear—

as if dusting 
the artifacts 
in a natural history museum.

We reexamine ancient wasps,
now trapped in chunks 
of golden amber,

but we do not appraise 
or fear their 
sheathed stingers;

now we simply 
lift them up,
polish them with interest,

and place them 
back in their containers.

Monday, January 3, 2022


What would I want most 
if composure 
were a sport—

if detachment 
was somehow a thing 
you could own?

Perhaps just 
to sleep more—
like an old deserted road;

like a field 
long since fallow, 
now blanketed 

with snow—to abandon 
every cowardly
thing that I've done—

to be whole again; lonesome
for nothing
and no one.