Friday, April 29, 2022

TWELFTH BLACKBIRD

In some part of the world 
which we never 
knew existed, 

a river must be 
standing still—
since 

its prophet
(this impetuous carrion 
crow, to be specific)

has chosen 
not to fly there, but instead,
just to sit 

on this power line 
suspended over the street
like a knife blade,

pointing down here
with his craggy beak 
and laughing 

at all of our paltry 
attempts 
to wear black. 



Thursday, April 28, 2022

INQUISITION

So you wish, 
more than anything, 
to see inside yourself.

But your soul 
has been shaped by decades 
of obscurity and remoteness,

by its desire for tight junctions, 
and its fetishes 
for rigor.

In fact, it compels you too 
to be desolate 
and stiff, 

bidding you to insist 
on silence 
in the library, 

and coercing you to stick 
to reading 
classic Russian literature. 

The only way 
for you to get 
a sense of its dimensions

is to treat it rough, abuse it, 
call it stupid now and then. 
Only then, 

when it swells up, 
reddens, and begins 
to accuse you—

as long as you're quick 
and surreptitious 
and discreet, 

and as long as you can resist
paying heed 
to its admonitions—

can you possibly hope 
to randomly glimpse its 
offended silhouette. 



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

THE LOT

Have you ever stopped 
to ponder 
whether the luminescent pearl 

glows from the secret 
which must be
buried at its center 

outward toward 
its edges—or
the other way around? 

Do you wonder if 
the drawer in your 
bedside table 

is for placing 
keepsakes into, verses 
pulling them out?

Then how 
could you think there's 
a bet you can make

on the the place 
where truth ends and our 
willingness begins? 

Certitude is not 
a concept 
we're taught; 

faith can't be asked for—
it's just the lot
we get.



Tuesday, April 26, 2022

FORESEEN

I can't describe 
the physics yet, 

but I sense it works 
like this: 

little by little, 
our past 
clock-ticks keep accreting, 

compressing together, 
crystallizing, 

and ensuring the foregone 
fate of our tomorrows.

Each moment, 
like a speck 
of wasted black sand, 

is blown 
by the destitute 
wind of expectation

to its spent resting place 
on a quiescent hill. 
Until

eventually, a whole
mountain is fashioned,

inside of which, nearly-
unlimited vectors 

of pressure and force 
advance downward 
and pulverize 

some of that dead dust 
from coal 
into diamond.

Sooner or later, though, 
that diamond 
is mined, 

and all possibilities—
not to mention 
all eyes—

turn to the proximate 
prize and 
go narrow.




Monday, April 25, 2022

LESSONS

Forgetful as I 
always am, 

every day that I wake, 
I must make myself 
perform; 

I repurchase the lessons
which I came to know 

by closing 
my eyes and 
rehearsing them again: 

all the things we did 
and didn't—

the former, like a melody, 
the latter, its strange and
syncopated rhythm—

and all the I swears
and never agains I offered

which you 
had no space for 
and couldn't afford— 

now, a discrepancy 
buried deep in the score, 

like two 
conflicting fingerings 
for the very same chord.



Friday, April 22, 2022

CURED

In heaven, 
they say, everything 
is just great. 

Angels play trumpets, 
while both sets 
of grandparents 

wave banners 
that say: congratulations, 
you made it!

It's always 
12 noon there, so 
no one's running late,

and the lawns are green 
and spotless—though you 
never have to rake. 

The coffee there is excellent—
though most folks 
barely sip it, since 

there's no such thing
as craving, and everyone's
awake. 

Of course, if you want, 
you're still free 
to close your eyes 

and try to imagine 
what it's like 
to be unhappy

though you'll never be 
sure if you've 
done it correctly, 

since you're 
no longer able 
to make a mistake.




Thursday, April 21, 2022

TAKE IT FROM ME

If you're lucky, 
you'll live to see 
even this explanation

begin to embarrass
the frail beauty 
of your questions.

Each minute 
wasted 
in straight explication 

is a rivet in the instrument 
built to strip-mine 
your delight.

In dreams, you have witnessed
how relinquishing 
their purpose

can cause the disparate edges 
of far-flung
images to adhere;

likewise, participation 
shall assume the privileged 
place of understanding

only when 
you start to hear 
the fine, consistent song

of your own words 
possessing—then replacing 
all of theirs.



Wednesday, April 20, 2022

CITY OF QUOTIDIA

On its night-
time skyline, strange
pulsing apparitions—

be they, at length, 
ancient stars, or some 
arcane technologies—

display
the same famous 
vicissitudes of nature 

by bestowing their
miracles, then 
taking them away;

while the three million 
overused denizens 
who behold them

are filled with neither 
courage, nor 
dissatisfaction—

but rather, 
that frank, urban kind 
of routine wonder 

whose very weakness 
is its strength.



Tuesday, April 19, 2022

HIDDEN INPUTS

Looking up 
for the roughly fourteen 
thousandth time 

at the pocked, 
cockeyed face of a
three-quarter moon 

as it floats there, 
treading the 
infinite waves 

of this goalless, 
shoreless 
ocean of a universe;

I'm confused 
to find that, inside, 
I'm still thrilled 

to believe 
there must still be 

something left 
to parse in me, 

some invisible fragment
still worthy 
of rescue—

even if it looks, 
at best, blotted-out 
or lost 

in its own black 
and most boundless 
of all possible pools: 

the one with no depth, 
no surface, 
no rules.


Monday, April 18, 2022

TO RECAP

Is there anything less 
pathetic than 
the goldfish

laconically swimming 
through the weak 
indoor lighting 

which pervades 
the lump of water in its 
sterile, spheroid bowl,

and perpetually turning 
in the same direction: 

away 
from the ocean it intended 
to explore? 

Presumably 
not you,

who so often spent
so many wild nights 
riding 

some strange 
and subtle currents
of the water-smooth truth—

only to wake up 
adjacent to drool 

and confused 
to find that you'd detoured 
right back 

to the same prosaic 
corner you'd renounced 
the day before.



Friday, April 15, 2022

REGRET

In this life, 
there are many
and hospitable buildings—

the kind to which 
daily access is granted 
to billions. 

Then, there are those 
slightly less 
accommodating places: 

a cramped, remote 
fishing hut 
built for one person,

or a cozy 
but dilapidated 
backwoods cabin 

the roads to which 
are passable only 
in the dry season. 

For each of us, 
though, there is, 
at the last,

that one immense, 
distant, and 
solitary castle—

with its fierce, 
gilded towers and its 
halls of frozen marble

all commissioned by our hunger—
which we were proud once
to inhabit 

but, ever since, 
have merely permitted 
to secretly exist 

without the slightest desire 
or intent 
to revisit.



Thursday, April 14, 2022

TOIL AND TROUBLE

The hands that survive 
at the ends 
of these arms 

were never 
designed to prepare 
for war—

nor were they made 
to clench 
in censure, or even

to lie open and bare 
in a gesture 
of peace. 

Rather, here are two hands 
that were raised
to turn pages;

to brush back 
and down, with the grain 
of all dog fur;

to depress 
small contingents 
of congenial piano keys. 

These hands were made
to shelter secrets 
neverending—that is,

when they aren't 
employed otherwise,
wiping clean and straightening 

those treasures 
which were made by the 
stubborn hands of others 

and are, therefore, exceptionally 
worthy 
of preserving.




Wednesday, April 13, 2022

SHORTHAND

The way I'm so 
conflicted 

and perpetually 
in the grip of you, 
it's like

I might as well 
be the chewed 
no. 2 pencil 

you clench 
in a test you're 
attempting to pass: 

one side of me 
says

all the things 
you want me to; 

the other 
shrinks and 
blushes pink

as it tries
to take them back.



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

QUIETUS

All at once, 
in assault from 
above 

comes the shrill, 
punchy call of free-
migrating geese—

ricocheting off 
our asphalt, 
our high shelves of glass, 

and our citywide 
armories of bright- 
angled brick. 

This might be 
what Taps 
would sound like 

were it blared 
at mid-day 
by amnesiac buglers:

the giddy death knell
of this rough-
drafted morning—

of today's 
first, unpolished 
idea of itself.



Monday, April 11, 2022

PRODIGY

I've heard it 
so often, I believe 
without blinking:

how all of time 
and space 
have converged 

to make 
just the tiniest 
crescent-shaped edge 

of my brittle 
and milky-white left
pinky finger nail. 

But it makes me 
so nervous, I could chew it 
to shreds

when I apprehend these
minuscule melodies 
in me

without having seized 
on the artistry 
to see 

whose subtle fingers 
may yet swiftly 
descend 

and depress 
the right keys 
to release them.



Friday, April 8, 2022

POETRY COMPETITION

We're now playing 
a roulette game 

with the iffiness 
of language.

This next bit
may devastate—
or else 

sniff you 
a few times and 
leave you alone. 

His verses her 
ill-defined interpretation 

conjures "full-body transformation"
clich├ęd before-and-
after shots. 

Answers are little 
but combs 
which are hollow 

of the honey 
known as satisfaction

and yet,
pleasure still arises 

in our failure 
to choose 

between either side
of the paradox.



Thursday, April 7, 2022

FAULTLESS

Some things are so right 
that they just aren't 
taught—

some commandments, so innate, 
there's no need 
to hand them down.

Such unique breeds of fact
are twisted up tight 

and borne along inside 
like tiny strands 
of DNA;

they may wait years, 
or even decades

to unfurl their truth 
and replicate 

while you sleep—
and dream 
of a scene, almost deathlike, 

in which even the motes 
of dust are frozen 

in a narrow beam of light 
from a source 
you can't name—

and then wake 
to the littlest nag 
of an ache 

which, you now know,
will one day balloon
to a pain 

so great
that, at long last, it
exonerates your life. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

DATA

It may sound slick
and advantageous, 

but I assure you, 
it's a curse to always 
be so right—

might sound like a boon,
but it truly is 
a blight 

to always remain 
so logically congruent 

in the heat of hawkish 
conversation.

If fact,
you probably don't see
how I can do it 

even in the middle 
of a petulant fight—

like that night 
when I could not help 
but intuit, 

after you'd sworn I'd 
grown callous 
and aloof,

that the opposite 
of distance 

isn't closeness;
it's height.



Tuesday, April 5, 2022

EVEN ODDS

Another fragile 
April sky: thin uniform
of silver—

the kind 
which is both 
luminous and somber,

everywhere 
and nowhere at 
the very same time—

might yet darken 
and descend, cursing 
afternoon with evening,

or crack to wide blue 
and unfurl its 
smiling riches—

depending 
on whether one
very certain word

which is, at this moment, 
being whispered 
down here 

by one wounded person 
to the ear 
of another 

has been willfully filled 
with scalpels 
or stitches.


Monday, April 4, 2022

LITTLE SHOCKS

You've been unsure 
for so long, 

it's turned into 
an addiction—

what will you do 
with these things 
that you feel? 

And you've often trembled
in recognition 

of the voice 
you've been using 
to do all this wondering.

But it might be 
time to begin 
to believe in

this story you've 
been weaving—

to come clean and appreciate 
all the little shocks 
of truth 

which are shot through the morass 
of your neverending fiction.
To observe

which silences 
undergird the fabric 
of each word, 

stitching form 
and emptiness together 
into bodies—

better yet, into names 
which compel their 
passing owners 

to stop short
and gape back 

at you, their most 
reluctant speaker, 
as much in surprise 

as in 
recognition.



Friday, April 1, 2022

BITTER THINGS

After you've been 
on the Earth 
for a while, 

the bitter things 
start to taste better
and better.

Those acrid black coffees 
and astringent 
brown liquors—

which at first 
made you grimace 
and shiver a little—

now taste a lot more 
like the sweet woe 
of knowing 

that, with each passing 
sip, the gnarled 
measuring stick 

with which you tally 
your verve grows more brittle 
and shorter.

By the time you're 85, 
you're burning morning 
toast on purpose,

heaping turmeric 
and dirt on raw 
eggplants for dinner;

such tastes of oblivion 
are more than just 
stirring—

a daily brush 
with the ghastly truth
is all that keeps you going.