Tuesday, April 16, 2024

TO APRIL

The great rabbles
of clouds in your 
quicksilver sky—

confounding,
combining, 

compounding
one another—
are somehow 

less foreboding 
than the ominous way 

they loiter there
all day, holding on
to their rain.


Monday, April 15, 2024

CLIFFHANGER

If this were a movie, 
we'd think 

we've been shortchanged. 
And no wonder: 

the storyline's
meandering; the moral
won't cohere. But 

though we're alone in this 
cavernous theater,

and no one 
would be the wiser, 

the reason 
we haven't yet 
gotten up and left 

is simply because 
we can't—at least, 

not the we 
that we think of 
as us

See, somewhere between 
the start of the joint

and this particular 
maddening scene,

we've failed to notice 
the plot's 
beside the point.

As long as we're here 
to watch it progress, 

this life, 
by necessity, must 
be bereft 

not only of a happy 
or ambiguous ending—

but a proper 
ending all together. 


Friday, April 12, 2024

AFFIRMATION

Your duress, though 
intangible, is a matter 
of fact. Yes, it's less 

material than, say, 
an egg which is 
made of FabergĂ©, 

and yet: there it 
sits, every bit
as intact 

and impeccably 
jeweled in the pearls 
and enamel 

which you forged 
with great care and 
fastidiousness 

in the just-as-
immaterial furnace 
of your stress—yes,

every bit 
as lavish and loving-
ly constructed—

perhaps not quite 
as elegant, but
every bit as frangible.


Thursday, April 11, 2024

SEDIMENTAL FEELING

What were the magic 
words that formed 
the world? 

For an instant
most mornings, I suspect 
that I just knew;

but soon, there's a tide 
in the ocean 
of my mind 

dragging out to sea 
all the things I think
are true—and then 

washing mixed-up bits 
and pieces of them 
right back in again—

until most 
of the detritus I can 
see along this beach 

is made up of stuff 
so self-
similar and small

that it's impossible 
for me to count 
each individual particle. 

The best I can do 
is try to put 
the view to use

and give 
one collective name 
to them all.


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

HOLDINGS

It's impossible
to know 
at the very beginning 

what you'll eventually 
discard 
or outgrow 

and what is worth 
clutching to your soul
just in case. 

It's like how 
you still think 
abnormally hard 

about whether 
to toss 
that pickle jar

which you haven't 
thought to open 
in over three months, 

or keep it there
for three 
or four more 

just because 
you have 
the fridge space.


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

EKPHRASIS FOR THE PIN-UP GIRL

Even solid gold 
comes off messy 
when it glows 

from its post as 
the trove of her hair—tangled 
in the bearing 

of all that she must know,
too highly regarded 
to be tamed by a comb— 

as she gazes 
out from underneath 
all that wealth without a care,

eyes less daydreaming 
than floating, just above, 
or possibly below 

some effortless truth
about the nature 
of allure 

which you or I, being 
cheap and human, would have 
foolishly discarded.


Monday, April 8, 2024

SHADOWS

For almost as long 
as there has been light, 
something has been there 

to get in the way of it—
casting its absence
as a twin left behind,

a piece of the dark 
in the shape 
of its essence,

recognizable 
in an instant, and yet built 
out of nothing 

and showing us—we 
who are filled
with such questions, 

we who blockade light 
ourselves with these 
bodies—even less 

than those 
selves, even less 
than the night. 


Friday, April 5, 2024

NO ASYLUM

One would think 
that, with the rain clouds 
now parting

and the light drizzling down 
like honey 
from the sun 

on the wet city streets 
which are glistening 
like tongues, you too 

would get
sweetened, would be cleansed 
of what was wrong. 

But in truth, there's no 
asylum in a world that bests
its flaws;

it's a dirtying feeling 
when you sense you 
don't belong. 


Thursday, April 4, 2024

ALL THAT JAZZ

Is it possible 
for life to be both 
enjoyed and endured?— 

for the little you have left 
to be the most 
for which you hope? 

The preachers
say no—that our purpose 
shall be known—

while the politicians
split the vote by angling 
for an either/or; 

but the rest of us don't 
bother sending soldiers 
to that war, since 

we already know 
the answer is: sure, that's 
what music is for. 


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

SYNTHESIS

We're bred 
to think ourselves slaves
to affection—

to assume what we seek 
above all is closeness. 

But in truth, what we 
crave is a strange 
combination 

of intimacy 
and remoteness. 

Perhaps that's why 
in centuries past, 
brave men 

would helm the sterns 
of great boats, 

and, spurning common sense, 
sail off the edge 
into seas unknown 

only to yearn 
for the first sight of land

and dream under bright stars 
of their dull
lives back home.


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

CONTINGENCY

Like a musty old chess set 
whose knights were 
long lost 

and have since been 
replaced by two 
snatches of cloth, 

or the rusty stock pot 
with a frying pan 
for its cover 

that's too trusty 
to replace, even 
at trivial cost—so too 

can a heart 
still be 
jury-rigged to work 

even with a few 
of its parts 
snatched out, 

mislaid by 
the user, or 
accidentally tossed. 


Monday, April 1, 2024

GAPING

One would think 
that understanding 

would look different 
than bewilderment—at least 
from the outside, 

but the truth is
but it doesn't. 

The truth is, it looks 
exactly like you: 

stopping short, 
gobsmacked 
in front of a shop window 

at the sight of 
not the twin—not even 
the shadow—

but the stranger 
who's depicted there, 

thick, cold, and 
impenetrable. 

It looks like you losing 
and gaining 
sight of the facts

that a gap 
can take up space
and mass—

that some reticence is 
plainly visible—

that certain lacks 
feel solid, vast, 

and, though slight, still
quite unbridgeable.


Friday, March 29, 2024

NO NEW THING UNDER THE SUN

The "full implications"
of some things 
stubbornly persist, 

while others 
(however devout-
ly we wish 

would remain 
considerable) gradually 
diminish. But

this is just the way 
it works with 
significance

there is no trick
on Earth you could pull
to arrange it.

As the known universe 
expands, and our quarks
grow stranger, 

the physicists 
only grow more 
and more certain—

the lay public, less 
enthusiastic—instead 
of the opposite. 


Thursday, March 28, 2024

MEMENTO

To the old scythe-
nosed crow, half-cackling, half-
rasping

who has lapsed 
in the flight which is his grim 
and ceaseless office  

to perch upon that 
street lamp in my vantage 
in broad daylight:

I am glad
to be reminded of 
the certitude of death 

in a manner which I can't 
laugh off—and yet, which I can 
manage.


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

THE PROCESS

In the all-hell-
busted wreck 
of late March, spring 

is no pleasing, 
no delicate thing—
in fact,

she looks more 
like a fiend, 
an addict, a mess. 

If figures: 
the enfant terrible 
of the seasons 

has once again 
confronted us with 
"difficult art."

All who dare look
upon the cold
fecond dross 

of her latest, most 
reasonless canvas
must wonder: am I looking 

at the end of something? 
Or is this just
the start?




Tuesday, March 26, 2024

THE BREATH

There's a part of me 
whose only function 

is to keep two 
other parts from
touching. 

It's clean, transparent 
and made 
out of something 

resembling light—only 
lighter, 

more gossamer, 
less well 
defined—

which is 
just what's required 

when you 
need to clear 
the air between 

the longings
of your heart 

and the worries 
on your mind. 


Monday, March 25, 2024

EX NIHILO

If the narrator 
of the this faded 
and arcane little book 

would deign 
to speak out, I'm quite 
sure they'd observe 

that every time 
you sniffed, I sneezed; 

that just after 
you itched, 
I scratched; and that 

as soon as you got the urge, 
I danced. 

Not in space, of course—
not with my limbs sculpting 
glutenous time 

into readymade 
vessels for
operative gestures—but

all through the pages 
of interior space 

which contain the long story 
of how we came to be 
divorced. 


Friday, March 22, 2024

MISDIRECTION

Ever notice? 
The things we 
can't grasp

are the ones 
that we covet. 

Absences, 
dearths, sins 
of omission: these

fascinate more 
than plain 
interest might 

explain. Perhaps it's 
this obsession
with lack 

of satisfaction
which accounts 
for the way 

our hearts behave: 
always chasing 
after flashes 

of lust with 
nothing 
significant underneath, 

rather than 
the blander guts 

of deep-
ly intelligent matches. 


Thursday, March 21, 2024

GRANDSTANDING

Oh if it only it were 
so simple 
for the rest of us 

to get going 
like the tough 

when the going 
gets rough, 

instead of 
loading-up the tragic 
events with extraneous 

words and acts 
to protract 
their significance. 

I, for one, wonder—
who on Earth 
are these supermen 

who press 
on in the face 

of impending 
disaster 

in lieu of showing it off 
to their wearied 
fellow travelers

and/or feting it 
with their eloquence? 


Wednesday, March 20, 2024

ON TAXONOMIC HIERARCHY

It's said 
a shrimp's heart 

is in its head.
Sounds impressive—

but easy 
to pull off when

you're an arthropod, 
and all of your armor 

is a part 
of the facade. 

Still,
I admit, there's 

a pit 
beneath my soft skin

and deep inside 
my rib cage, which,

if not quite 
obsessed, is

at the very least 
curious 

what it would be like
to stop

overthinking this
and, just for 

a bit, over-
feel it instead.


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

IN THE ZONE

Once you're alone 
for too long, it's even worse
to be disturbed. 

There you were: 
fathoms deep 
in your mind palace, 

set before 
a perceptual 
feast just for one

and raising 
a chalice to the lack
of observation

when along comes 
some beggar, knocking 
desperate at your door,

as if it were
conceivable—let alone 
simple—to share 

one's isolation. As if 
the desolate depths 
of pure loneliness 

could be plumbed 
and abated by a little 
conversation.


Monday, March 18, 2024

TO THE VERNAL EQUINOX

Even though we 
know that we know 

how soon, how 
benignly, how inexorably 
you'll arrive, 

still we turn 
our faces to the sky 

to gawk in surprise 
at your arrival,

as though it were 
the very first time—as though 

we did not know 
that we know 

how long we have 
languished here, stymied 
by the poem

and pining for days 
when the world 
would receive us 

into more than 
just a waiting room; 

when nothing 
would seem necessary 

except (perhaps) 
contingency; 

when the language 
of flowers 
would not just inform,

but truly overwhelm 
the flowers 
of language. 


Friday, March 15, 2024

OUT OF THE QUESTION

Have you not realized 
by now how your 
most fervent wish 

has always been 
to ditch this existence,
to become somehow 

different, to turn 
into someone else? 
Thousands upon thousands 

of spins around this Earth—
a conduit of translation, 
a passionate observer 

of births and 
of deaths—and yet, 
oblivious to these motions, 

your sights have been set 
not on the longing 
for contentment, 

or for happiness, but 
instead, on the hunger 
to be other than you are—as if 

the one with whom 
you've sat and borne
witness to these moments 

was not but an awkward 
and a sheer and total stranger, 
with whom you still find

yourself thrilled 
(as well as frightened)
to sit and share the dark. 


Thursday, March 14, 2024

PRAYER

By now, I've said 
[your name]
out loud 

so many times in a row, 
that it's done meaning 
everything 

which I seemed 
to seek salvation from,

gone long past 
the sound of the cooed 
gibberish whose 

infantile pleasures I 
barely recall—

and officially now 
has arrived 
as a stand-in 

for any 
thought I could think
at all. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

FULL ANALYSIS W/ COMMENTARY

Your love: 
it's so much 
like a dream

that I'm never sure 
how long 
it lasted, 

or what it was 
supposed 
to mean.


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

SHITSHOW

Finding I'm faced 
west at sunset 
and alone, I understand 

how the only 
things I've ever owned 

are the failures, mistakes, and 
misconceptions 
which have plagued me—

how they all staggered 
after me, like the undead 
in a horror film, 

with hands stretched 
when I tried to ditch them;

each so sincere 
in its resolute faith 

that its clever machination
could spring me 
from the present jam;

and all of them 
correct (despite their 
grave miscalculations) that, 

despite my refusal 
to let them 
touch my skin, 

it has always been 
my running from them 

which has brought me 
where I am.


Monday, March 11, 2024

SELF

Even when I refuse to, 
it feels like I am still 
searching for you—

you, whom I'm sure 
I remember, 

though the last time 
we spoke, there was silence 
between us, 

and the last time we were together 
in the same room was 
long ago—

you, who never once tried to 
explain to me 
your identity, as if 

the inadmissibility 
of language 

was all you could need 
for evidence. 
You—

whom I know beyond
the darkest  shadow 

of reason 
that I must love,
even though

your existence 
I will never be able 
to prove. 


Friday, March 8, 2024

COPACETIC

At the end of the hall 
which is 
all that exists between us, 

there used to be 
an unlocked door 

through which we 
could pass 
on an errand or two 

to the stacks—
those dank archives of 
pitiful feeling 

we'd been hording  
on the off-chance 

an adventurer 
would come looking 

and discover there 
the treasure that would 
make them world-famous. 

And through that hall 
and the labyrinths 
which surround it 

have long since fallen 
into disrepair, 

I can tell from this distance 
that the door 
is still there—because 

every time you ask me 
where I've been or 
how it's going, 

I can faintly hear 
the quick pop 
of a lock—and the sound 

of it stubbornly  
creaking open.


Thursday, March 7, 2024

I BLAME THE INTERNET

There are drawbacks 
to knowing what everything 
is for.

Around every corner, 
there used to be 
dangers, so 

we had to be 
cautious—but also 
much braver. 

Life itself 
was sacramental, 

so everyone on Earth 
was religious 
by nature.

But now we know 
that divinity 

was only eternity's 
loud and tacky 
costume—and worse: 

that the universe 
is really just 
a courtroom,

wherein 
the most impassioned 
argument

writes the headline 
and the nomenclature. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

SCHOOLED

So, what then
is the difference 
between 

resentful 
and jealous? 

There the sparrows, 
all congregated 
naked in the still-
dead bushes, 

and the sound of their chirping has
unfastened me a little:

how recklessly 
happy—how delirious 
they sound,

and how foreign 
to my marrow 
it is to celebrate 
deficiency

just 
by subsisting here, 
at the tail-end of winter,

so cold, and so 
conscious, and so violent-
ly hungry. 


Tuesday, March 5, 2024

SPELLBOUND

The softest pedal 
on the piano 
must be down, 

smearing those unhurried 
arpeggios 
into clouds—

strange-
ly shaped formations, 
barely there, 

but half-occluded 
by devotion's 
hungry shadow 

outlasting 
my impatience 
and every expectation 

to have 
moments ago 
outgrown this fascination 

and snapped 
back off 
the radio. 


Monday, March 4, 2024

NOT MUCH OF A CLIFFHANGER

Have you noticed—
when it comes to being 
out of our depth, 

the harder-
up we get, the less 
help we'll accept? 

It's like: for over half 
of the film, we've been 
hanging from the cliff, 

fingers growing 
gradually wetter 
with sweat; 

but instead 
of either keeping 
our strength conserved  
 
or clamoring 
loud as we can 
for a savior,

we'd rather flail 
our legs until 
our grip has collapsed, 

then curse the long- 
gone villain to our 
very last breath.  


Friday, March 1, 2024

A REASONABLE FACSIMILE

Are there thoughts 
we can't think? 
Are there 

elevated spaces 
where the likes of us 
are not invited? 

Or dispositions 
so base—winged, fork-
tongued emotions 

with scales 
for skin and garish 
horns on their faces—

that to sanction their 
attainment would 
be tantamount 

to damnation? 
Such a blanket blockade 
is itself hard 

to imagine.
(Hard, yes—but not 
impossible. 

We are permitted, 
it would seem, 
to conjure—if not 

dragons—then at least 
their descriptions 
and pictures.)


Thursday, February 29, 2024

CHORES

This is not 
a request. And it's 
not a proposition. 

A duty 
is not 

transferable, 
or open 
to negotiation—only you 

can do 
what has got to 
get done. You must 

grab a hold 
of this man
whom you've become,

this person 
whose life you've 
tramped upon,

whose corners 
you've frayed and seams 
you've rent—

take it 
and string it up fast 
like a rug 

to that razor-
thin line in the sky 
of tough love—take it 

and beat it 
clean again. 






Wednesday, February 28, 2024

SECOND WIND

The instant 
our ship finally 
grinds to rest 

on the rocky beach-
head of true
hopelessness, 

we're more than a little 
nonplussed 
to discover it's 

far less depleting 
than we'd been led 
to suspect.

Turns out, 
even despair 
feels like 

arriving somewhere;
and, tired 
and filthy 

and hungry 
though we are,
we still eagerly 

throw the ship
in park and 
go explore. 


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

180

Everyone wants 
their own 
sudden epiphany,

but often, 
what's required first 

is something more like 
a revelation 
in reverse. 

That is: not 
in a flash, 
but something more

like a dirge, 
some judgement 
or conviction 

about which we 
used to be so sure 

gradually loses all its 
upward momentum 

and lazily, 
inexorably falls 
back to Earth;

like a very nearly- 
grand slam crack

that drops 
an inch before 
the centerfield wall, 

some suspicion 
or assumption 

that we used to call 
a fact

gets softened 
and lightened into 
just another fiction  

before it can 
smother us all.


Monday, February 26, 2024

CRUX OF THE MATTER

It's astounding for an eye 
at the boundary 
to behold

such majestic, 
relentless rotational 
symmetry. Unimaginable,

yet ravishing 
how much faith 
gets bestowed 

from one's perch 
at the edge on one point 
in the middle. 

It's more than a little 
unnerving, in fact, 
how over-

enthusiastically 
all we know is turning
around the black 

hole of a premise that 
there's one thing 
that won't. 


Friday, February 23, 2024

DEAR COMPULSIONS

What would my life be like 
without you? 
(It's actually

hard to imagine 
without being 
forced to.)

I wonder: 
are you always 
so sure of yourself? Or

is it just that, when compared 
with my thoughts, yours
know better? (At least,

so you somehow manage 
to assert 
without a word.)

And how do you 
sleep at night, o 
monkey on my back? (I mean,

aren't you afraid 
I might, some day, 
roll over?) More importantly, 

how do I sleep either 
without those
ceaseless reminders

for six or seven dark hours
who I am—why 
I matter?


Thursday, February 22, 2024

SOMETHING

There is always something 
indescribable 

in the need you 
feel to write things down—

something unsayable 
in the sounds

your mouth must 
use to say so.

It's something about a raven 
(or a crow, 
more likely)

always pecking 
the peripheral, always 
needling away 

at the corners 
of your temples; 

something about 
your penchant 
for holding your breath 

well past 
the point of discomfort, 
to distress

just to sharpen 
to the point of exhilaration

the pleasure of setting it 
free once again; 

something 
about finding divine-
ly comic inspiration 

traced out by wandering 
motes of dust 

in the window-
stretched light of a 
tapioca sun—the same sun 

that has lulled you 
into happy, ochre 
thoughts of love—

the same sun 
that must burn until 
it swells 

up and 
kills everyone.


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

TO FUTILITY

There is still so much 
left to affect
in this life, 

and (I know) 
not enough left 
of time, sweat, and blood.

But still, I must bask 
in the gravity 
of walking; 

still I must claim 
every breath
as a trust,

as a flame 
on a votive candle, 
lit in thanksgiving,

as a theme song 
for the wildness
and the honor of everything—

for the privilege 
of knowing that all of this 
began with light, 

and that all, 
as it must, will end 
in dust.

My clavicles 
and the gray of my 
temples may be showing,

aged 
by their prematurely-
accumulated grace;

my bones may be softer,
my pace may be 
slowing—but still 

I draw 
the next breath. 
Still I will keep going.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

OVER MY DEAD BODY

A change of heart 
is the hardest thing 
to hold out for. 

A mind may 
just be so inclined 

by the new light 
of facts or data 
charts, but alas, 

there are 
no counterparts 

in atonement, 
forgiveness, and
reconciliation.

no great 
conflagration of patience 
and time;

no new information 
or updated priors,

will ever counteract 
the resolve
of an organ 

that would sooner 
get attacked

than get made 
into a liar.


Monday, February 19, 2024

FIRST PERSON SINGULAR

In the beginning—
before the word—

there must 
first have been 
the relation 

between stillness 
and vibration, 

between plain air 
and the very first 
breath's aspiration. 

Then, 
out of silence 
and isolation 

came the merely judicious 
deployment
of solitude; 

past the unbounded, 
uncrossable gulf 
between humans

came, not even
the God's 
truth, but just 

the First 
Person Singular—

not wasting a moment 
in exploring 
its new power,

not singing, 
not laughing, 

but trying to 
solicit you. 


Friday, February 16, 2024

SOLO

Dear face 
in the mirror, what's 
it like

to weigh
nothing? 

What's it like 
to have no name? 
What's it like 

mouthing questions 
which you didn't first 
conceive? 

What's it like to be 
a slave—

always locked 
into a stare, always 

getting 
it all backwards, 
always placed

in a slight 
square of space 

which is nowhere? 
Is it worth it 
to show up here 

first thing 
every morning? And

anyway, how 
far away 
is it, I wonder, 

from here— 
where I doubt-

lessly stand—to right 
there?


Thursday, February 15, 2024

ON THE SOUL AND ITS ORIGIN

The question 
I ponder, but 

could never dare
confront

is never: excuse 
me, is there
anybody in there? 

It's more like: 
how many? 
And where 

did everybody 
come from? 
And: are you all 

politely
taking turns

denying my 
inquiry for all 
its absurdity? Or 

(and here, please, god 
bless the auspicious-
ness of my ignorance)

lambasting me 
with silence 

in simultaneous 
reply?


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

TO THE BLUE SKY—

how is it 
you remain 
so light 

and wide and 
gaping 
all the time? 

Always exposed; 
always 
so susceptible 

to the slightest 
perturbations 

and super-
saturation with 
Earthly imposters?

Unlike you, I'd
make a poor 
open sore: 

I'm too often 
oppressed 

by the absence 
of low pressure;

I too
quickly grow 
uncomfortable 

with my own lack 
of obscurity. 


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

SUNNY SIDE

          Keep on the sunny side, 
          always on the sunny side
          keep on the sunny side of life.
          It will help us every day, 
          it will brighten up the way
          if we keep on the sunny side of life.
          —Carter Family


Doesn't matter
how spare 

or how dense 
the situation gets;

in either case, 
we're told 

to bear 
the stress

and make the 
most of it. 

Our agonies
increase

from exquisite 
to intense—

our green pastures  
now consist 

of just a fraction 
of an inch—

and still 
we feel the pull 

to flex a smile 
and claim we're 

cool with it—
as though 

our acquiescence 
fed the wolf 

or paid the rent—
as though 

we earned 
our blessings 

just by saying we've 
been blessed. 


Monday, February 12, 2024

LEAP

It's true that 
some of the most 
beautiful hymns 

never find their way home; 
yes, the promised land
 exists, but it is

full of empty cans 
and ghosts.

And don't even ask 
how many good deeds 
never get off the ground, 

because there are loads
of them rotting 
in the fields as we speak,

or else packed 
in an attic, gathering dust. 

But still, you must 
try to do the 
next right thing, 

even when you fear 
the failure of your body 
to endure the cost;

even when you're 
sure it's useless;

even when you 
don't know 

what to say, it 
doesn't matter—for 

not every 
desperate blunder 
spurs us on to failure;

not every prayer 
that flounders 
is lost.


Thursday, February 8, 2024

REVIVAL

As if a 
monolith 

from above,
true beauty 

needs nothing—
perfect 

in itself, 
there's no favor

you could grant it. 
Love, 

on the other hand, 
is a beggar 

and a miscreant; 
it shouts 

in the streets, 
yet it preaches 

no doctrine;
it narrows 

your options, so 
you have to 

keep feeding it. 
But you cannot 

convert to it 
in a beatific 

instant—it has 
to be chosen 

new, moment 
after moment. 


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

SOCIAL EXCHANGE

How the hell 
am I supposed 
to tell which 
of my parts I 
should clutch
close to me, and 
which I should 
give with a wide 
open heart?  
Nothing in here 
has instructions 
or earmarks—plus, 
it's too hard 
to tell the difference 
between grasping
a thing and 
giving it up 
when every fretted 
gesture goes down 
in the dark. 


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

TO YE OF LITTLE FAITH:

Take heart. Little faith 
is not really such a 
bad thing;

yes, it's effort-
lessly shaken—

but then
again, it's just as 
casually regained. 

Besides, regardless 
of what 
Frost says, 

it's a waste 
and indecorous 

to harbor grand convictions 
about sustaining 
strained relationships 

or asymmetrically 
favoring 

the cost 
which you've already 
sunk into your chosen way—

instead of the road 
not taken.


Monday, February 5, 2024

SHELL GAME

Funny how
the more we think

we've got it
figured out,

the less we expect
the next

day—hour—
minute

to grift
our rube souls

with a wink
and a smile.

See now: how even 
the light—

which we're pretty sure
is permanent—

is not
without guile—

pretending
as it does

to always stand
still.


Friday, February 2, 2024

STAY HUMBLE

It's tough 
being tender—

no joke
to be unripe.

So why not 
throw greenness 

and ignorance 
some rope? 

It's automatic
to grow graceful, 

intelligent, 
mature—but

it's hard work 
to know that 

before you 
even learn.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

DID YOU HEAR THAT?

If everything we did 
was music, then 

even 
our silence 

would contain 
tacit fragments 

of protest 
and exuberance—

even our gutless 
assent and resignation 

would thrum 
with the remnants 

of our lust 
for disobedience—

even our 
acceptance 

would squeal VETO!
like a trumpet.

But hey, wait 
a minute: listen 

back again—
doesn't it?


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

KOYANNISQATSI

I like 
to think my mind 
moves pretty quick, 

but I'm 
shamefully slow 
wherever 

words are concerned. 
If only you 
and I could speak 

in those 
broken chord 
arpeggios 

like the kind 
Philip Glass chose 
for a film with 

no speaking roles. 
Because really, it's just 
there 

in the shimmering 
depths to which
talk won't go

where 
tender, nameless, 
feeling grows.


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU ANCHOVIES

To the even-
tempered fish 

who once 
were minding 
their own business

as placid blades 
of bluish silver 

foraging in 
brackish water—

but who now 
lie splayed 
out end-

to-end inside 
this golden
pull-tab can: 

it's a shame about 
your heads, but 

do you really 
even miss them? 
I used to think

I would 
for sure. But 

I don't seem to
know anymore.


Monday, January 29, 2024

INTERCOURSE

These conversations never go 
as smooth as 
you would hope. 

But then: even the water 
that flows 
from the tap, 

at some scale (you
must admit), is 
full of gaps—so

the same must hold true
for the very air 
you exhale—

to say nothing
of those quips, 
which initially set sail

with such zeal
on each rocky 
and pockmarked gale 

(each one assuming 
a placid landing,
and each intended 

to sound juicy 
as a ripe fruit), but which 
rather quickly 

find themselves 
marooned 
and full of pits.


Friday, January 26, 2024

DIRTY WORK

If emotion 
is a skill, we are novices, 
all—apprentices  

to passion until 
the day we are retired. 

Those magical potions 
we strive to learn 
and perfect—

drafts of warmth 
and respect for one another—

are diluted  
in solutions of pure frustration,

sugared dust of tenderness 
bound-up 
in poison lust.

Even the lightning-
strike hex 
of our grief 

gets obscured by 
anger, self-
pity, disbelief—to say nothing of 

the willow wand 
of love, which, at the slightest
touch, combusts. 

Nowhere does there seem to be 
so much as a journeyman we  
can learn from. 

Surely, in the absence 
of some reprimanding master, 
a job like this 

will be the 
death of us.


Thursday, January 25, 2024

DIRGE

Like a black 
hole in deep 
space, 

only the assumed shape 
of goneness 
can be found

in the heat 
glow of tacit 
bereft regrets, 

unarticulable  
laments, 
and relieved 

not-yets—which 
in our silence, 
tend 

to spiral,
iridescent,
all around it. 


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

POSTMORTEM

In our personal lives,
it takes 
less than a second 

to make 
the decision 
that unleashes 

the pandemic 
which defies 
vaccination. 

But even with 
hindsight expanding 
our compassion,

we question
how much longer 
the forgetting 

will take. It seems
that wishing, 
as we did, when 

we were young 
and health 
was given 

for such
stable, contiguous, 
durable lives 

might have been 
our first 
mistake.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

CLEMENCY

In the frosted 
gloom again

at the knife-edge 
of freezing, 
when

even the rain 
is starting to rain—
and where 

even the shadows 
will not follow
where you're walking—

the usual tingle 
at the base 
of your neck 

feels less like 
the shiver 
you remember from before 

and more like 
the potent 

that, despite your 
nonacceptance—and 
to your grim displeasure—

somewhere far 
away from here 

right now, you're 
being prayed for.


Monday, January 22, 2024

TRESPASSED AGAINST

As often, 
outdoor solitude 
invites the incursion, 

just after 
dawn, of one 
dismal, haughty crow 

who damns
from the dormer with her 
strident proclamations, 

disrupting
my nascent and
fragile meditation. 

Savor your 
idea of today 
while you can,

goes her dread-
fully flip-yet-
incessant incantation, 

for no man's 
execution 
ever goes to plan.


Friday, January 19, 2024

STING OPERATION

For what feels 
like years, I've been 

staked-out 
on the perimeter. 

I've been quiet, still,
and careful not to 

ruffle any of the local 
toughs' feathers. 

I've refined 
my hypotheses, 

appointed 
all my deputies, 

cleaned and maintained 
my surveillance equipment. 

I've got mirror shades, 
caution tape, 

thermoses, 
toothpicks. 

The mic's hot 
and strapped-on 

underneath a layer 
of Kevlar.

Any minute now, 
I'll chance upon 

the character I'm 
looking for: 

I will catch 
the strange 

man I'm afraid 
I'm becoming 

red-handed 
in the act 

of relaxing 
for a change. 


Thursday, January 18, 2024

EQUITY

After years spent 
waiting for 
impoverishment to worsen 

or ignorance 
to lessen—

for tall ships 
which tread the air 

to bear us 
away or 
strand us here, 

the truth of who 
and what we are 

may finally strike us 
as priceless 
in its ordinariness: 

our ticket 
to ride has been 
punched all along, 

and we've already 
taken what the world 
has to offer.

Every moment 
has a diamond in it; 

we are all 
so rich 

that nobody is. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2024

NABOKOV'S FAVORITE WORD IS MAUVE

          Nabokov used the word “mauve” 44 times 
          as often as one would expect.
          —Ben Blatt, in The Guardian

Do you think it was love 
of mauve that 
drove Nabokov, 

or merely the need 
to state things 
in-betweenly:

how even this rough 
life's most 
beautiful bruises 

are paler 
than purple, yet murkier 
than pink—and how

even the cleanest idea 
we tend to eye 
suspiciously

and can't resist giving it 
just the littlest shove 
with our lips? 


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

A REPRISAL

Ancient 
yet childish—
nebulous 

but explicit—
the January wind 

has been
bellowing again,

shellacking 
its admonishing 
breath of right angles 

onto every 
svelte branch 

and bare,
contoured avenue 

and lambasting 
all who dare
navigate those streets 

for things 
we didn't do 

in that bygone year—
but meant to. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

JANUARY UPRISING

If a life must be such 
that its winter always comes—

and with it, 
the bitter, lonely terminus

of nakedness in 
shadowed cold—

in lieu of prostrating 
and dreaming of June, 

let me end it
noiseless, focused, breathless, 

and standing on my own 
two feet—

just like every naked, fearless 
tree I've ever seen.


Friday, January 12, 2024

HOMEBODY

Like the potpourri 
of states which 
comprise some sprawling country, 

there are states 
of mind, too, which aren't 
so easily reached.

A Floridian
thinks twice before day-
tripping to Alaska—so 

who are you 
to expect your native 
worry and despondency 

to impulsively 
agree to go and 
rent a tandem bike 

and joyride their way 
to the border 
of equanimity? 


Thursday, January 11, 2024

PACKAGE INSERT

Warning: hyper-
focus on anything
as precious 
as consciousness—
as ethereal
and mysterious  
as this inkling 
we exist—
may make it feel
from the inside 
like the smallest
loss is total. 
To one day 
be ordered 
to slip off
the coil will
of course sound 
unconscionable—but 
even to sleep 
(with its mere
"perchance"
of dreaming) 
may at best
seem a gamble—
and at worst, 
a betrayal. 


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE

Every time 
a cell splits, do you think 
it hurts? 

Most creatures 
I've encountered 
would sooner die 

than be divided, 
yet somehow, all our 
littlest pieces 

suffer just this 
without the slightest 
demur. 

There is much 
to be learned from this 
lack of histrionics, I suspect—

and yet still, 
my eyes prefer 
to linger 

on the ravings 
of Hume to 
biology books—

and I'm quick 
to assent to 
destruction of the world 

in order to spare 
the scratching 
of my finger.


Tuesday, January 9, 2024

THAT IS NOT THAT

It's hard 
to understand 

just how much 
space expands 

as soon as its
collapse 
is grasped. 

The clockwork 
movement 
of the gears 

can't move anyone 
to tears 

unless they 
observe 

that there 
aren't any gears.
In other words: 

the rapture 
of freedom 

only comes 
with admittance 

that there's nothing 
whatever to be 
captured—or to capture. 

It's a pittance 
when you 
comprehend 

that all of this
is emptiness..

But fortunes 
are brokered 

whenever 
you notice that

emptiness 
(nonetheless)
appears. 


Monday, January 8, 2024

POTENTIALITY BITES

Most would envy a god 
who lives on 
all branches of the wave function. 

But in truth, this poor deity—
this miserable goblin, this 
hideous demon—

would be nothing 
like even the 
worst of us

who still feel pride 
when looking back 
on a well-chosen action.

For a creature 
as all-powerful and 
all-piteous as this

would be shackled  
to its own cache 
of ruinous knowledge 

that even good choices 
place hard limits on 
experience—

that each 
lucky break, every 
pleasant interaction 

must deny an infinity 
of beautiful things 
its existence.


Friday, January 5, 2024

DEAD RECKONING

Many winter nights, 
instead of seeking 
pardon—

or, in lieu 
of the warmth of 
reconciliation, 

simply to sooth and 
unburden one another—

we stagger as sailors 
alone out of doors 

and search the night 
sky for our 
direction. As if 

the constellations 
even grasped their 
own existence.

As if those storied
pictures in the stars

owed any explanation 
or solace 
to ours.


Thursday, January 4, 2024

UNDO

Chalkboard erasers, pink 
rubber, back-
space keys: all 

handy certainly, but 
what do we really 
know about their nature? 

It seems like
every erasure we 
could possibly make 

still leaves crumbs 
in its wake and/or
takes extra work—so

how the hell 
do we presume 
to ruin 

the fact that 
we never should have 
acted at all? 

Is there really any 
positive action 
we can undertake 

that will ever 
add up to complete
subtraction 

and grant us our
sacred lost 
energy back? 


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

PURSUANT TO YOU

I suppose it’s cruel 
of me to 
hide the homemade 

smile I used to use 
to move you 

from dubious 
to close to me. But then,

even the frayed 
ends of this 
chase require fuel. 

Alone at the finish (my having, 
at last,  
won the race)

with my bare 
face pressed against 
the glass 

that overlooks 
the cage you once named 
your favorite place, 

I think it's safe 
to admit 

to the silent 
pool of frosty gray 

that you've 
long since 
stopped chasing me anyway,

and I've 
long since lost 
my cool.


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

WISDOM

It's not, as supposed, 
that the youth 
do not know 

that they're all going to die 
without their teeth 
in the end. No,

the real designation 
of those who are 
giving,

and tender, 
and finespun, and 
slight enough 

to be young 
is: they don't understand that, 
until the end comes, 

they'll be 
more than willing 
to pull out each molar, 

one 
after the other—just 
to keep living.