Thursday, March 31, 2022


While they stand out 
like cracks 
in a load-bearing wall, 

those little awkward pauses 
aren't like that 
at all. 

Woven though they are
through the opaque 

of all our 
most tedious,
prefab conversations,

they seem, at best, 
like empty gaps—
but the truth is 

our hesitations 
are much sturdier 
and more integral than that;

picture the rebar 
which runs right 
through the concrete 

reinforcing the walls 
of the rooms
we were born in—

or the mortar 
holding right 
to the mausoleum's bricks 

which houses 
the remains of our 
very last communication—

every wearisome
second of it,
brick after brick,

whether we chose to build it 
or together.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022


By the time it's 
all over, 
instead of a story, 

I hope that my life
presents more 
like a painting—

brazen and wide, 
and hung right 
at eye-level, 

so that everyone who enters 
cannot help 
but regard it—

but no one
may come 

to say for certain 
what I've done—

only to see 
the totality 

of me having done it 
all at once.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


The results 
are in—

but the conclusion 
is awkward:

hundreds of millions 
of people 
now living 

are determined 
they're all going to live 

The catch is:
eternity doesn't mean 
what it used to. 

In this overcrowded, 
overheating stockade 
of a waiting room 

in which pointing 
to a lack of evidence 
against you is a worldview,

the only definition 
of forever 
worth clinging to 

is one second longer 
than the sap 
seated next to you.

Monday, March 28, 2022


If our bodies really 
are made out of starlight,

how come our lives feel 
so slow 
and heavy? 

Everything we know 
is supposedly 
made of the stuff, 

but still
there are so many 
words to learn. 

Everything we do 
(so we're told) 
is a vector 

of spellbound elemental matter—
and yet, many
are bad actors,

and others 
have reasonably 
decent intentions 

but nevertheless fail 
to state their cases right.

In fact, 
if everything we say 
is a violent stream

of photons,
heat beams, 
unstable nuclei, 

then who's to say 
we're the same people 
we claimed 

to be when we 
went to sleep last night? 

Then again—
if even the totality 

of all we can 
capably imagine 
is starlight, then 

none of this 
is wrong, because 


Friday, March 25, 2022


I hereby pledge, 
every day, to make you 
fresh music 

using the only two 
means that I've got: 

those syllables of English
speech which are 

and those 
which are not.

I'll arrange these 
small words into 
glimmering patterns— 

based on the ones 
I first learned 
(before I knew 

how to put on a raincoat
or tie my own shoes)
by memorizing, 

then parroting back 
the glimmering
fuss of grown-ups.

But in exchange 
for all that, I want you 
to promise  

to take precious care 
of my instruments: 

the measure 
and pitch of the voice 
in your head 

and the moment-
to-moment endurance
of your breath.

Thursday, March 24, 2022


An addict of experience 
always fiends 
for significance; 

she wants 
every gesture—needs it
to be special. 

If forced 
to stand outside 
the interpretive circle, 

she will struggle 
to understand 
its simplest implication;

but when driven 
to participate, 
the most byzantine ritual 

will snap to its 
grid and make 
unblemished sense. 

As if under hypnosis, 
she will dance 
the proscenium,

miming gifts of daffodils 
to imagined eye-

and bending
to the floorboards 
with a slow somber dignity

to press her soft lips 
to the corpse 
of the past. 

For her, even the darkness 
which concludes 
the performance 

is considered to be both 
highly referential 
and important—

of course, it's 
the exact same dark 

which she felt so compelled 
to dispel 
at the start.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


After decades spent 
avoiding the smallest 
threat of inconvenience 

posed by rich mythologies 
that don't explain 
a thing—at least,

not nearly as well 
as they tend
to illuminate 

the dry bones 
and land mines which lie 
in the brambles

and the cold 
distant sun at the heart 
of their explainer—

it seems you've grown more lenient;
you're now ready 
to concede

that there's dignity 
in the tyrannized, 
in the role of doleful entertainer, 

and most of all,
in the drudgery 
of rolling up your sleeves 

to pitch them 
the salvation 
of which you alone were told

but now are
far too old 
to receive. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


In the future, public spaces 
will be flagged 
as too dangerous

and outlawed for showcasing 
our species 
at its worst.

Even now, it doesn't take prescience  
or a doctorate of science 
in ecology to observe 

the wretched 
way humans 
unfetter themselves 

after glancing around
a protected ground, making certain
they're alone—

then start 
draining it dry
without much concern—then 

scurry off 
before the three 
bears return.

Monday, March 21, 2022


Once in a while, 
I try to imagine 
a perfect spring day—

much like today—
when I am no longer 
alive to record it: 

the adolescent sun 
and the vigorous wind, 

the transcendental mix 
of clouds and 
boundless light—

and then, there's 
the kid

racing with zeal
though a field 
of matted grass, 

his face knotted up 
in a smirk of delight, 

holding on 
tight to the string 
of a kite. 

But it's no use; 
the harder I try
to picture it, the worse

it seems to get. 
For starters, the kite 

isn't really a kite; 
instead, it's a bird.

And the kid 
is not delighted; 
his face is all grimace, 

and he's running 
for his life—as if 
being forced, 

during the eye 
of some terrible storm,

to run for his life 
and hold tight to my 


Friday, March 18, 2022


For only the space 
of a thunderstorm 

I can grasp 
the cold, 
wet understanding: 

the difference between 

who fall 

like blades of rain 
from the bay doors 
of airplanes 

in deference 
to some occult 

or pursuit 
of the most electric 


on whether 
or not 

they ever plan 
on landing. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022


by syllable, the dead 
become our words.

And our words, 
in the right 
environment, might 

into our wishes.

And after millennia 
of compounding 
and sweetening underground, 

some wishes are enriched
and condense into
pure insight.

Meanwhile, the living 
are wandering 
and starving—

oblivious to the nourishment
from tragedy;

they'd rather live
on rancid fumes

from breathless 
tales of loaves 
and fishes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


The middle of something
can't really be measured;

the heart of any process 
has a process for a heart,

and the scientists charged 
with chopping stuff apart 

keep on finding substrates
and smaller bits and pieces. 

I'm guessing that's why 
the farther we go spinning 

away from that dark mystery 
at the crux of where we fit, 

the more dependent we grow 
on the truth of its existence: 

the irritating sand grain 
which gave the pearl its start;

that hole between the lips 
of the first person we ever kissed;

the absolute fixed dead center 
of a life we never intended to live—

wherever that was 
or is.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022


In mid-March, after 
turgid winter
loses its grip, 

but the land is still 

and stubborn 
and dead, 

the small flame 
of a cardinal—all arrow-
sharp angles 

of fierce red 
and yellow—may look 
more than a little 

from your window. 

But more perplexing still 
to your groggy, 
undead soul

are his fervid responsorial 
and its notes 
of braggadocio. 

What earthly utility 
could exist? 
you might wonder,

in his crowing like this 
so early in the morning 

about some new-
paradigm truth
long in coming, 

the nature of which 
only he was 
made to know?

Monday, March 14, 2022


My love and I 
are like two 
synced electrons 

bound by mysterious 
quantum action

despite the infinitude 
of separating space. 

The math 
is complex,

but it happens
like this—she bends, 
and I stretch; 

she opens her mouth 
to moan during sex 

just as I take 
a huge bite 
of ham sandwich. 

Of course, we've never 
even met, 

and everything I've said is 
purely theoretical.
But I've noticed—

presumably just 
as she swaddles 
the covers around her

and takes that first drag
of a slim cigarette—

how useful 
it is to describe it 
like this, 

if to nobody else
but myself.

Friday, March 11, 2022


Of the hundreds 
of billions 
who have ever existed, 

few words get written 
only for you.

It sounds lonely, 
but the consequences 
of those that do

are both huge 
and automatic—

firstly: you 
transcend "you" 

and transform
into a vestibule; 

second: the transmitter 
falls pitiably in love—
not with you

but the holes 
of your pupils 

which received, 
then contained, 
then imputed his letters. 

From then on, whenever 
your companionless soul 
tarries out  

past the boundaries 
of its atoms 
in longing for its goal,

understanding is the gravity 
which tempts it gently 
back to Earth, 

and maybe this world 
still feels small
after all. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022


Mercurial doctrine 
of raw early spring:

dingy sparrows flitting 
from dead lilac 
to dead lilac,

until every last one of them 
lands a spot 
to preen and sing,

everyone fits 
with everything.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022


Who's to say, truly,
what you should 
or shouldn't do? 

Wait just a minute;
before you give your answer, 

stand up and fashion 
a small cup
from your words—

then brew 
a little bit 
of hot coffee up 

and pour it straight in there, 
with all the rough certitude 

of an omniscient, 
omnibenevolent narrator, 

taking careful notice
of what happens 
to your shoes.

Now: tell 
your audience—
who makes the rules?

Tuesday, March 8, 2022


A short poem 
is not something 
anyone owns; 

it's more like 
the decorative box 
it might come in.

If you want, you can 
put something in it 
that you love— 

or perhaps 
feel anxious about 
finally being rid of—

then step back, 
maybe snap 
a quick photograph, 

just to see 
how it looks.

Monday, March 7, 2022


Does a poet not
remain a poet 

even when 
they are 
restless sleeping—

worlds apart 
from any corpus 
of notoriety, 

let alone minutiae 
of rhyme schemes 
and feet—

even before 
the raw seed 
of The Idea

first perforates,
then warms in the loam 
of their dream?

For even then, 
in that darkness 
before starlight 

where no words exist, 
when nothing 
has been said, 

is not a distinct 
kind of fraught, 
fecund emptiness—

some heartrending 

made perfect-
ly manifest?

Friday, March 4, 2022


Last night 
I dreamt 
I fed my head 

to the black 
mouth of a well—

and then I 
yelled something 

into that strong 
empty cavern 
of stone, 

desperate to know
the counsel
of the echo: 

time is not 
it bellowed;

this life 

Thursday, March 3, 2022


These days, 
everyone you pass 
in the streets 

looks queasy.
In every compass- and rudder-
less city, 

it seems 
they have their reasons: 

the months
of doubt and deceit 
have been rough seas,

and too much 
bad medicine 
scored with a handshake 

has been swallowed
too fast behind 
back-alley addresses.

And yet, from the TV screens 
none will confess 

that the tempest 
has exacted
the ultimate cost

and the brightest and best 
will maintain 
until death

that the ship can't be sinking 
because the violins 
aren't playing yet,

and all of the rats 
are still 
here among us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022


At the center 
of how 
you always 

try to pin things 

is a nucleus 
made out of 
reasons why 

you mostly succeed 
in screwing them up.

the scalded 
cauldron of your grief 

without that name
you gave it; 

picture delineating 
the difference 

and amateur nobodies;

close your eyes 
and see if you 
can imitate

that legible melody 
your soul would sing 

all the notes 
it doesn't need.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022


on mere air—what 
could be frailer? 

But then,
just to hold on 

to a thought 
such as this one 

might be 
proof of their 

Maybe, then, 

says more 
than it 
means to; 

maybe prayers
become real 

the way 
our children's
sins become our penance—

the way 
one sentence 

carelessly tossed
in the wind 
by another

can transform 
into our jail.