Friday, December 30, 2022


In truth, I do not 
even know 
what it means—

much less
how to make it.

It's just something 
you wake up and 
find yourself always 

in the middle 
of have been doing 

But it's a lot 
less like speaking 

than like
singing in your sleep: 

in rhythms 
with no histories

and melodies 
left suspended;

and without that
grammatical net 
of guarantees—

and of course, 
on an instrument 
which is only as valuable 

as its capacity 
to be left, every night, 

Thursday, December 29, 2022


At the terrible mercy of so much 
austerity, everything manmade 
collapses—or else 

hastily crouches to 
simplify itself, like some 
ungainly fraction. 

No more jingling sleigh bells
or mottled Appaloosas—only 
the simultaneous contraction 

of all the quiet, snowy roads
and all points of time's circle joining 
and compacting. 

Even the dazzling smokewhite 
of daybreak and the shimmer of yellow-lit,
 late evening windows 

are, here at another 
bleary year's end, just as remarkable 
as they are incidental. And yet, 

what remarkable freedom 
must exist 
to be reached 

now that all time and place
and every habitual 
path we might take

have just been so forcibly
but mercifully 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


From the far-off 
gleam of jet planes
maneuvering around 

the snarling jigsaw 
of towers downtown,

to waking dream 
of each singular flake 

of fat December snow 
landing and mercifully 
blotting out the details  

on row after row 
of old granite headstones—

everywhere you look,
things keep proceeding 
on their own—as if

the music 
which first inspired 
the dance of our lives 

was concluded 
by the orchestra 
quite some time ago,

but someone out there 
vaguely still remembers 
how the words went: 

there's nothing 
you can say;

and nothing's 
out of bounds;

and nothing 
ever has to
be a certain way.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


the past 

is a strike-anywhere 

crammed inside its 
stiff little box. 

the future is 
pure sandpaper—

or the grainy 
brick mortar 

just waiting 
to annihilate it.
And you—you're 

the addict, 
with his sulfur-

tinged nostrils and
nicotine fingers 

who delights 
at how quick 

and how hot 
and spectacularly 

the two come together  
to engender 
the fire 

which you jones
to take hold of 

and hold deep 
inside you 

before setting 
loose to get 
lost in the world—

every time 

at all.

Monday, December 26, 2022


You should never say grace 
for the things 
you've been given, 

but instead, pray to 
all of those things 
for their grace;

and resist the urge to speak 
or to write of your freedom, 
lest you risk describing, 

through negation, the depths 
of another's isolation. 
But the most important 

move you must make, 
if you really want 
to know the truth, 

is never to stroll 
the perimeter of your life 
in order to fathom its shape;

but instead,
to trace the outline 
of that faint apprehension 

that the shape of this life
is not the only one 
it can take.

Friday, December 23, 2022


Of all of the gifts 
man has ever
been given, 

this was, unquestionably, 
the greatest 
and the cruelest,

as it seemed, 
most perversely, 
to do the most good 

in curing the sicknesses 
which had heretofore 
driven him: 

his belief 
that there is any such thing 
as true knowledge, 

instead of that
black sea of 
fascinating glimmers;

and his addiction 
to confusion which impersonates 

both of which were easily 
and unsympathetically 

into that baffling 
pool of immutable 

which the shepherds 
night sky.


Thursday, December 22, 2022


To say it
out loud, it may
sound a bit odd,

but here in
The West, we don't
really disagree

with an old Hindu premise
that everyone
is God. It's just—

we count our chickens
before they
can squawk,

and we like
to proceed in a single-
file line;

so we keep off 
our knees until
something bad happens,

and we only let one
dead man walk
at a time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Have you ever noticed how 
that confidence 
which is wrought 

by our greed 
for sanguineness

and our future-expectation 
to live out
our aspirations 

is so alluring 
and diffuse 

as to be 
downright useless? 

How did we ever become 
so obsessed 

with scanning the distance 
through short lengths 
of pipe 

for some rose-colored bright side 
faint horizons might suggest

that we lost all sight 
of the much more 
pressing mess 

into which had so absent-
mindedly stepped 

and are up to our shins in 
right here 
in the present? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2022


Putting ice on bare skin 
is a pretty neat trick:

after just a few seconds, 
the exposed flesh 
turns pink—

but interestingly, 
this is actually because 
it's gotten hotter

your heart has responded 
to this insolent stressor 

by beating just a bit harder 
to send lots
of fresh blood there. 

If only the same 
dynamic were in play 

with regards to you 
and me. 
Just think 

where we'd be
if my coldness 
drew you in,

if that grimness and rigidity 
had attracted your heat.

Monday, December 19, 2022


Humor in a poem
is a strange
midnight gift 

by an arcane 
blue fairy.

What you sought 
above all in your
sleepless desperation 

will conjure, 
at first, such a 
pleasant sensation

of waltzing down
the lines delighted, light 
as air, and laughing—

but sooner or later, 
all parties come
to a close; you must 

haul this witch's gaudy gift 
home to the slum 
where you live—

and that's 
when it suddenly
turns scary. 

Friday, December 16, 2022


What if it's 
our uneasy, smoldering 

which leak and rise
into the night 

like curlicues of smoke
from some 
phantasmic cigarette 

that repopulate anew 
the great hanging archive  

which we all know, 
upon rising, to call 
the veil of sky? 

What then, is the difference
in regretting a thing
or desiring it?

Would we still long 
to relive the quaint 
feeling of a kiss,

or clumsily desire 
fewer screams than laughter?

If it's dark, fretful nights 
that engender 
the day, 

what on earth's the use in 
being afraid?


Thursday, December 15, 2022


What is this 
great energy that's buried
deep inside us 

which we struggle
all our lives 

not to clear, but 
Is it not

that light 
by which we might 
love one another  

so much 
that it's painful-
ly counterproductive?—

and the heat 
of we, the living 

who have looked upon 
the dying 

yet have managed 
to turn back toward the life 
of this world, 

daunted but preternaturally 
alert forever after

to how greatly 
this weight and its 
shadow only serve to 

the sky?

Wednesday, December 14, 2022


When they tell you 
there's nothing 
more you can do;

when they take you out 
into the hall 

just to sit you back down 
and say
all is lost;

when you find 
you've inherited only 
the goneness, 

the shape of oblivion, 
the complete lack 
of trust,

and that everything 
and everyone you'd thought of 
as precious 

will wind up 
as ashes, 

as sediment, 
as dust—that's when
it is best 

not to wince 
or raise your voice 
in protest. 

You must keep still 
in order to 
gather all your strength

and focus on the clarion 
sound of your voice 

as you hear it say, 
incredibly: Okay. So, 
what's next?

Tuesday, December 13, 2022


There's no loss 
like the bloodless, 

of the lost—if only 

there is no loss 
except it. 

You can try to surmount it
or get around it 
all you want, but 

in order to receive it, 
you will have to
open up—

and I don't mean
"empty out." 

I mean: pollute the world
with talk. 

Speak without thinking;
say all 
the wrong things; 

speak to keep 
your lungs breathing 

and the frozen air 
warmed up;

speak til your words 
span the black, 
barren gulf 

which hazards to sequester
all of you from
all of us.

Monday, December 12, 2022


Body, I know you 
don't see me for 
who I am half 
the time—and we 
grew up together, so 
we argue about everything. 
But there's so long to go 
from the middle 
to the end, and you
keep turning up, 
and that's all 
that I've got. So 
I'll take you as far 
as you're able to go
if you laugh 
and my jokes, and I'll 
listen to you sing.
It's not a lot, but it's 
something—like feeling 
lonely when you're 
really not.

Friday, December 9, 2022


Weird how they say—
it's not until 
your soul is full 

that it's finally light 
enough to fly 

and dance away
all the torment 
and dolor 

which you have amassed
in this
infamous life, 

often at the whim or 
of others—only 

this time, 
when it dances, it 
dances alone, 

because it's been 
blamed for so long, it's no 
longer ashamed, 

and it's finally 
racked up enough practice 
and poise 

that it isn't afraid 
to improvise.

Thursday, December 8, 2022


Though this pain which 
now blooms like a 
purplish bruise 

is both 
indescribably yours 
and new, 

rest assured 
that the black mouth of woe 
from which it sprung 

is everyone's
to plumb, and is
terribly old—for none

are loved more 
than those lost 
to our sight, and 

no truth bites
the living quite 
like: everything dies.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022


When you pass 
by another, it's 
probably best 

to avert your eyes 
or keep them 

that way, 
you'll miss the slight 
tremble of presence 

which you'd be 
almost certain 
to glimpse there—

and which might, 
in turn, fill you 
with an urge to possess  

all of that clemency, 
love, and 

you have been 
highly successful

and almost 
content to be 
living without.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022


The burden of grief
would be easier 
to bear, I think

if only it were a little more 
in its slaughter;

if the knife blade 
were longer 
and a little bit sharper,

then the agony would be briefer
and the torture
might be over. 

But alas, 
as it stands, it's just
too incomplete; 

there are lapses 
where we sometimes sing
from hymnals in the evenings, 

or find ourselves undone 
by some small 
accomplishment hard-won, 

or loose track of the strain 
which was placed 
on our shoulders 

while we're marched 
through the detours 
of loveliness and laughter.

Monday, December 5, 2022


When mornings 
start wavering 
out of existence, 

not yet gone, 
but long since 
in going, 

why do I
keep my mind fixed 
on their glimmering 

as a watch stopped dead 
at set 6am—contemptuous 
of noon? 

Would I starve in the wilderness  
to spare the strange, wonderful
plumage of its birds?  

Will I try to impose 
such a static thing as 

on the aggressive-
ly protean
soul of this world?

Friday, December 2, 2022


Too coolly, the hours 
drift past while you cogitate, 

inaudible, colorless, 
and unable to be named.

The sound of nobody's voice 
ignites jealousy 

as you talk,
like a stone might, 
to the gravity of the situation: 

How the hell did any of us 
get to essence 
from before?

Was there light 
before breath? Your heart fights
to remember. 

Or is no one 
led back home 
by the slow claps and low talk 

which they heap on 
fallen heroes 

as they're cast into 
the after?

Thursday, December 1, 2022


Stone-blind, we carried you 
past the boundaries 
of our apprehending,  

trying, still, to recognize 
some sense 
in the invisible.

we dug tunnels for dark hours 
under sympathy, 

emptying our heads
of its ringing 

and filling them 
instead with the glory 
of its grief.

Then, mutely, we agreed—
there are still songs 
left to be written, but we 

won't know how they'll 
go until we catch 
our children singing.