Thursday, December 23, 2010


The littlest pains are creeping,
a slow swell of blind weight piling,

crying brings no giant, earth
mother has shrunk to sibling size,
and her after-image, sky father, is
as thin as any infinity is.

The dirt asks the rain
to pelt it back together.
All that far-flung dust
that never dreamed of flying

wants to sleep, or die or do
whatever verb can still make peace.

The big pains are stalking
bigger fish in the big-boy pond,

frying with the skin and bones still
in, for the line of heathen homeless
begging for better than loaves,
more than wall-eyed, stinking protein,

the water asks for quiet.
She's been writing this song
a century, and she'd finally like
to hear it. She plans to fall

and cannot stand how she hits.
She does not end in the noise,

that is the rain's mediocre, everyday
pain. She never gets to the ground.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Time may merely be the instrument set
to play the tyranny of a tempo
engraved around the sole sphere ever let
roll from the roar of the first crescendo.
Perhaps fate is also a slave, and only
made to play our master, a uniquely lonely
puppet without even a parallel
to imagine one day touching, still,
time harbors no stillness for us, the galley's
oars must stroke without hurry or delay.
Time breaks no pace nor makes provision for
weary foot or head. No pause for the poor
hearted wanderer to tour the treasured
storehouse of doorways all inherit each
night by dint of dreaming, no moment for
the lost to go once more unto the beach
to beg a place in history's shrewd net;
never waiting for the unfortunate
to ford even the shallowest occurrence,
or explore the shores of lesser horrors;
no stoppage of the plodding of the plot.
Not even the full-blooded patriots
of the practical may woolgather before
the glory exchanges their headlong rush
for another present in prettier wrapping.
Never a rest, never a step unlocked,
the scores of the recklessly hopeful must
give their war-march the same and only drum
that every atom of existence hums to.
No nameless thing, no spirit, no one and no two
are spared their seat in the dark, hurtling core,
that blind, piercing line that must ride
the unbending track of the unending next.
We all ride the rocket which stops for no star,
each full hour of ceaseless thrust is ours
to sit or stand or rush through, the only trust
given is the debt each passenger must
pay for their perpetual endowment of now,
for the privilege of being billed.
Time honors no breadcrumb trail of science,
promises no sanctuary to sound
planning or the savage magic of music,
no, the only truth that holds time
is the same, constant, inescapable
speed he lets beat down on every being
that began after him. The counting set
by no chanting demiurge, no angels' chorus,
no dragon's wingflap, no mathematical
constant, that rhythm will never let loose
of the ears of men. Those hands that pull
toward the only forward we know, those hands
gripping the silver thread no mind nor
body can ever break or break stride from,
they are the same hands that hold time
to his one coursing of the universe.
Destiny is held a great success by this.
Every dictator is measured by the stricture
he makes on earth, as it is in his heaven.
Time takes us through the only image
there is, the sacred resurrection of
occurrence, the same glass-thin second
come again to shower their scattering
and their sharp upon on us until we are
the same as our gifts, always shattering.
The word can wish it otherwise,
but the word has yet to learn the secret
of being true. Time has leave to travel
undescribed, unenforced, unplanned, to unravel
its secret self in plain, ignorant sight.
The words make treaties with us, but have no might
to defend us against our marching orders.
Time gives us no country, only borders.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Regular Trip

Morning stumbles over the hedge, sudden
dump of yellow splattering the clean gray,
the yard's crisp uniform of cold cluttered
with lukewarm shards of a day already
dropped into the hopper. She steps down hard,
hoping not to wobble her one chance
to perform a perfect orbit. Except she catches
her toe on the greasy thorns of some man's
scalp. As he scratches out those loops and spikes,
teasing strands of self to their wakeful place,
she tumbles over his ticklish wisps, thumps
thick into the tree roots. Her abrupt slump
smears his yawn into a pool of buttery
sun, crushes the flutter while still in his
shell, spreads him out like chalk on a line.
The shock knocks the last requests of dying night
from the sanctuary granted by the black
cassock of a dreamer's pupils, forcing
the dark to march out from the close comfort
of a face in the shade to the far fence,
where one upright line holds the shadow
of his head as ransom for the riches
morning demanded for landing on his space.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Atop the mountain sat the place,
man-shaped and rare of atmosphere,

the vacuum held overhead
called my head to face it.

When it was my turn to sit,
mouth open so that wisdom

would fall out and run down
to the earth it was raised from,

I would say: the world is fair.
And that is what is wrong with it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To Do or Not to Do

She knows you have to do things.
She doesn't like knowing,
so she says it when she can,
to make sure she doesn't forget
just because she doesn't like it.

Love isn't nearly enough, she says,
the world is only work.

A few years after she says so,
someone else demonstrates
that work is not enough, either.
Nothing is. She remembers she
used to say the world is what
we do to each other.

She says she wonders if she knew
what she meant, but she knows

now she knew better then, before
knowing better was something
she had to do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Making It

Faster, faster, says
the spinning. Beat
me around to myself.

Monday, March 22, 2010

If It's Not Sensational, It Isn't News

The American Dream is not dead.
Evidence: his most wanted
status is undisputed, and he
hasn't been caught in fifty years.
The most efficient and highest grossing
killer playing the field today,
he is still on the loose.
There's a reward for information
that leads to his capture,
but that's a one-time, flat rate,
there's no profit-sharing.
The Dream goes by aliases,
steals identities, and dresses
according to the fashion,
so be sure. False reports
are a tax on us all.
Plus, he's wanted alive, not dead,
so remember to shoot to wound.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where's the Neighborhood?

Two empty birdhouses,
with no reality television crew
to spruce them up for sale.
Two empty birdhouses,
no sparrow can afford,
no finch can land a loan for.
The hummingbirds ignore
the dark decor, the crows
refuse to see the exterior
color from fifteen seasons past.
The bees say build your own.
The falcon watches to see
if a squirrel can help
remembering where the seeds
sat freely in the open.
Two empty birdhouses,
and all around them, life.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Miracle Work

The rosebuds always increase,
like entropy.
They promise to open as other
things close.
It's like that saw about doors
and windows.
Whenever something shuts,
something else is forced
by someone to open.
Or from heaven's point of view,
what goes down must come up.

Friday, March 19, 2010

That's Not Even Irony

Time is perfectly fair.
Even the physicists say so,
time has a place
in all their equations.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two Takes on a Minor Occurence

Like a greasy-lipped child
leaning over the fair-ground rail,
profligate with quarters, the tree
drops leaves toward the glass,
one round mouthed, empty glass,
the only game in town.
Each leaf wends the unseen warp
and weft of the meters down
the yard of air to bounce
on brick or dive through
the hedge to wait for the earth
to collect it, until one plinks.
Except there's no prize for the sunlight
grubbing fingers that let it go,
no doll, no candy for the spring-green,
rich-green branch whose unnecessary
yellow was shed for his
one-way mission, no one
counts the score, one in the glass
from twenty feet up, no bonus points.
The woman whose water it was
doesn't even smile.
The leaf is just dirt that hasn't
crumbled yet. The chance of landing
in the mouth instead of out, she calls
inevitable, that's just what dirt does,
land in her cup.
The man drinking tea, as near as
she needs him to be today, he rejoices.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Still Life with Book about a Painter

First necessity, the table,
flat field of play for things,
those next necessities, things
for the picture to picture,
but first, the painter sets
the table, now as empty as the canvas
he's to make into a mirror.
He'll paint no realism, of course,
he builds his reflections
in the shiny side of his style,
he leaves the job of honesty
to factory-cut quicksilver,
his mission, should he receive
a commission to do so,
is to seek to show the sort of distortion
physicists have yet to measure
in refractions,
and this is practice, this table.
The painter sits reading and drinking
and thinking and breeding baby dreams
he'll only ever really feed one of,
he's getting read to prepare
to layer up a display
no light-fingered device ever
captured and abandoned
to their memory storage,
to their eclectic ghettos,
where now and now and yet another
pile up like the wings
the angels never get since
bells have all been synthesized.
Yes, he says to the table,
yes, you await your burdens
so faithfully, a phalanx of laterals,
lines alongside their brothers,
a table with four equal legs,
angles all right with the world
and a top as squared away
as a meal in an army mess,
you are a table ready to hold
objects. So the objects
appear, or are arranged,
or are arranged to appear
by a hand or the co-ordinating
mind behind the eye that hands
the objects to their places:
perhaps a clock, freshly wound
or melted over a slab of real
perspective, perhaps a glass,
half full of glints and highlights,
or perhaps a dead game animal,
motion stopped, body quietly
gaining the momentum of putrescence,
or the royal colors themselves:
flowers proud their flesh
is the only alchemy to extract
the proper spirits from the earth,
happy to challenge the clever
paste of oils and minerals
to duplicate their results.
They might sit in a vase
decorated in vain, say the
narcissists, or perhaps some
other variation on a cornucopia,
a ceramic collusion of glazes,
a pewter mug composed of crannies
and protuberances. Of course,
any fruit will do to play
the part of hue receding
from surface to shoreline,
but no, this table has none,
this table has only his feet
on it. Soon it will have a book,
closed upon the packet
a tea-bag once was wrapped in,
a book he has finished with,
for the minute he's sitting
still in for now, at least,
a book framed by the table's ends
for and to no pictorial purpose,
which is lucky, since the pages
may have closed their legs,
but the cover their pimp
wanted them to be judged by
is a garish thing men would
never hang on their wall,
but seem to enjoy blown up on billboards.
This book the painter
has stopped reading is about a painter,
or more precisely, it is about a girl,
who happens to have the painter living
in her background, or more precisely,
it's about a girl some author has imagined
alongside the painter she's sketched
into a foreground he never lived in,
and what's funny is, he's dead
enough that he can't live his life
any better to spite her pretense
to depict him. At least he asked
his subjects to sit for him. She's
just dead enough to need corpses
to flesh out her dumb-show,
she needs to rub better nametags
off of gravestones for the sockpuppets
she's hiding her hands in.
The painter looks hard at the table,
but the table has no opinion of the book,
the table doesn't even care
that the book is as flat as a family
member or lighter than some fat candle
or unlikely to leave a ring,
but the table doesn't know how
to do its job unless it's told.
So the table would need more
things to answer the painter's
question with, much more
than a paperback cut to fit the poster.
Maybe a magical artifact
some tomb-raider's financier
can claim copyright to,
maybe the keys to a car or a house
so hotly contested by their former
owners that their children
have made up new last names,
or a fork that comes with a camera
and wireless internet,
or a travel mug with spill-proof
lid some time-traveler claimed
he let Christ borrow,
or the coffee he turned to wine in it,
or the blood on the tine of the fork
the time traveler used to take a picture
of the cross taking over the man.
But after the painter picks up his feet,
after he picks up the book,
the table is empty. He can't
remember what he had decided
should be in the picture. The table
is also outside, which feels
wrong now, there isn't some
wall where windowlight
could write slanted commentaries,
it's a whole yard, trees that
are never, ever still. Landscape
with empty table, the painter
will call it. Except the sun
goes down. He loses the light.
The scene becomes about something
else and he cannot remember
why he has unfolded his easel,
why it was so important
to find the long lost tube of blue,
what it was about these things,
which after all,
weren't ever really on the table.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This Message Was Sent to You Free of Charge

Raise your hand before you ask
what dreams you are allowed.

Yes, there are stupid questions.
All the fantastic lands
have hotels on them already,
and homesteading is against
the law, you imperialist.

You cannot sing a note
that is not owned. Just
try to invent your own octave.
You cannot make a wish
we have not wrapped
up in a gift you need
to give someone if you
really love them - if you
don't believe us, you
can open them all and prove
it, just remember to pay
first. Make sure not
to sleep without your
ticket to dreamland,
we take our responsibilities
at the border seriously.

If you wake up and tell
what you saw there,
you may be in violation
of the confidentiality agreement
signed for you in absentia
before you were born,
don't go digging in
yards that aren't yours,
don't endanger the hard-fought
peace that protects
the sanctity of imagination.

We own the language
you use to think with.
Please don't steal from
the well we inherited
as your appointed guardians;
please, for us,
don't make us charge you
for your own muzzle.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Comes to Hand

She speaks sentences with sawteeth.
On their way out they tickle,
on the way back to her they rip.

He spends hours forging old butterknives
into battleaxes. His first sword
twanged and waggled against the stone.
Since mountains do not bleed
he needs a blade that does not quake.

She collects her ideas like needles,
two to knit or a whole pincushion salvo.
She pairs up her statements like handles,
two for a balanced tray or hooked
to a fulcrum for some nice scissors.

He steals spoons to arm his fairy
army with brickbats, sent to troop
over carpet and concrete to swat
flower petals and the interstices
that keep the sensible world
from collapsing back into imagination.

She gives him a golden spear
forged from all the sharp
tacks she's had to take.
He gives her a golden spear
hammered down from the tower
his dream makes him build
while he sleeps. They
promise not to stab each
other, but don't know what
else to do with such
sacred, unnecessary weapons.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Writing on the Ceiling

The birds are happy their alphabet owns
consonants the meat-lipped cannot pronounce.
The speech of the sky is frittered freely,
but without symbols for twitters and kree,
man's memory remains catch and release.
The vowels range from reed to brass on one
axis, with unnumbered counterpoints along
round to sharp, also known as shrill to sweet,
and the phonetic dimension of craw
to beak, which some men know as caw to tweet.
The hawks have their own script, curlicues sharp
as a reminder of the employment
proper to a beak. They descry the straight
peck and cluck, the chicken-scratch the fat-bags
scribble into the symphony. The crows
know their songs are ugly, and draw
their secrets with the same rough crosshatch.
They do not mourn a range of trill and coo,
but proudly recite their black syllable,
the selfish metronome of whenever,
the same note naming both and never,
one sound written with flap and swoop on blue,
a sign stamped on the sky-high wall for all:
that darkness flies as fast as light can fall.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Perchance to Wake

Last night, an angel in the guise of an alien
explained that hyperspace is easier to swallow
than faith and that there's a very easy way
to stop dreaming.

She said there is work that wants doing,
greater work than the moneychangers pay for,
and the first step down the ladder,
into the trenches, is
to stop the dreamers.

I voiced my concerns and she promised
there were stronger things than bombs,
better tools than weapons for leading
the horse to water and work.

She promised I would see the way.
She promised the work would ask
for my hands. She said the master
would come with the plan,
and the cash and the worker's comp
insurance and it would happen soon,
as soon as I stopped dreaming.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Another Squeak from the Rocking Chair

I'll tell you why the world
is smarter than you.
It knows that death is no
reason to stop working.

I could also tell you why
the world has no wisdom in it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

To See

A life breaks like foam on the beach.
Someone calls that ending beautiful.
Then they look away.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I have hired a hunter to hit my target,
so I can see it. A wounded future
leaves a trail, and a dead maybe
is easier to mount on the wall.

I have hired a liar to draw me maps,
so I can pretend to go there. He says
I get a commission on tickets
he sells to my wilderness.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

There's No Business That's Not Show Business

Two producers sit on their names and watch
the budget bloom and bust. Having planted
money, they need their trees to grow, or
at least the hedges they were betting on.
The older one is afraid bottom lines
are cutting it as close as tanlines do now;
but the younger one sees opportunity
like conspiracy nuts see aliens.
He watches the one dancer he's hired
to play the part of all the dancers,
replacing her whole union with one paycheck.
Then he asks his second second assistant
to write down the insights he's just seen:
Her layer of fat is sufficiently
thin and appropriately placed but the
jiggle is still inefficient. And all
that meat in so much motion, when the bones
are the real show. Meat is meant for eating,
that's its thickest margin, while the dancing
is done best with wires. Tell you what,
carve her up. Her eyes are worth more than her
performance, and she doesn't need them to
feel the music. There's another angle:
she can play her own accompaniment,
one-woman, self-sufficient, that I can sell,
so hollow her ribcage into a xylophone,
let her feet tap happily fleshless,
take the rest of her to market and buy
me another skeleton to threaten
to replace her with.

Monday, March 8, 2010

All These Futures Cost the Same

I want to be ruthless,
but I don't have a reason.

I want to be as naked as orange juice,
no pulp.

I want to sell my eyelids
like the rest of the audience,
but for a better price.

I want to wear a hood
like a villain or death,
blinkered into scythe-eyed focus.

I want my sleepy seeds
to grow their own gardener;
I want my wishes
to play baby gladiators in dreamland,
I want to wake up pruned for a purpose.

I want to be angry without earning it.
I want to be comforted
without having to hurt.

I want the world to stop being selfish,
so I can own it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Contradiction is Boring

There are no secrets.
Everything is a secret.

There are no ways out,
there is only the work to be done.
The only work worth doing,
is finding the next way out.

The truth is a box of bombs.
The truth is a carton of eggs.
The truth is half a carafe of tap water.
The truth is sugar on the floor,
waiting for the ants to carry it
to the new tabernacle.

There are no keys that do not cost.
No one will pay you for making a key.

No cabinet or closet yet
has produced the horrible doorway
it promised. The dark under the bed
is so shallow that dust makes
ships of the line to rule it.

There is no exchange rate for love.
Even timeless loves have to pay rent.

The laws of physics cannot be broken.
Physics itself will rebel next week.

You cannot own a secret.
I can let you know this one,
as long as I get my commission.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dwindle, Dwindle, Little Star

Inspiration is eating carrot sticks,
having snuck into the movies
to steal some of her ideas back.

Her sisters are sleeping
with the television on again.
They haven't learned their lesson
since History left the news on
and slipped into a coma.

She wants to save her tongue
for exploring a chocolate egg,
but she hasn't sold enough self
to afford to feed the self that's
left and the candy is a solely owned
metaphor for an idea incorporated.

Her daughter, since hired
to be her mother, tells her
sadness is not her bag.
Remember what I told you, she says.
Obedient inspiration recites her line:
All I am is amusing.

Friday, March 5, 2010


The pain also wants to live.
When the ache ends,
it forgets itself.
Dead it waits to wake
to crawl on its knees again,
to invent new syllables
for self-expression.

The synapse has legs to stretch,
no matter what the treadmill
does with the wheel-spinning.

When the suffering is done,
it's not like sleep.
It is gone, and the next
hurt, however similar,
is not the same.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sick of Medicine

Where I last touched her,
a cutting of pain sprouted up,
under skin and around bone
to flower her crown
with a headache.

The last thing I said
surrounds her stomach
like the Midgard Serpent,
an all-consuming clench
growing only longer in the tooth.

The last thing I wished for her,
she quietly returned to the air.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Keeping Time

The background is louder than us.
From conversations to cars,
construction to cosmic radiation,
our own reverberations swamp us,
the echoes of creation dwarf us.

Webs our grandparents wove to sustain us
throng and sing while our feet scratch graffiti
upon a wall of sound so loud we've
told each other to call it silence;
strings set humming by hands held high
upon the shoulders of fellow dead men
thrum and hang while our seats pick a place
to sit and pluck a complaint that the orchestra
was invented before we got to pick instruments.

Those high seas compounded of a hundred unknowns,
pre-physical rhythms
find their tides without our tables,
we dream of swimming while we climb
the slow, gigantic crests of a note
played two thousand years back by
a giant calling wayward children
in for dinner. Diving under
is a fantasy called knowing, the depth
every surface seems to promise in our youth,
where the currents slow to cold,
heartless beats, where what matters
is a long, shuffling, slither
scuffing up mud at the far end of a thump
that's been slumping through
one month of blue moons'
long pump of purplish blood.

We have it set down somewhere,
that we are the thing that makes
the measurements.
Since leaving school, the compass
and the ruler lay as forgotten
as any worker who has done their work.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Under the Good God's Foot

The monster in the box does not want out.
He has seen the wonderful world waiting
for his teeth, his feet, the ravenous heat
his heart breathes upon everything he loves,
tongues, kisses, eats. The box is dark to eyes;
the monster lives inside older senses,
inside an emptiness full of himself.
In his weakness he may dream of better
cages, but never of escape. Awake,
he knows the hated edges mean safety,
assurance that the beautiful world will
endure his hunger, the only thing he
has to give it. He remembers when he
almost broke it, once. That remains enough.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It Is All True

East on Ventura, seven-thirty,
driving at the moon, full,
bone white so bright
that becoming a skull
seems like a step up
Jacob's ladder.

The road is full of hurry.
Pushy taillights cut in line,
trump every yellow with
the ace of self-importance.

Somewhere else, the earth
quakes a country. In another
place, the ocean asks
for its share of the land
value, but homesteading
is a form of terrorism now.

Everyone on this road
has their errands.
I am free to look up
at the moon. The gas

tank is carried along.
The stomach also never
has to think. It just
digests and dies.

A walking woman is
beautiful. A man unlocking
his trunk breathes so hard
cars swerve from the sound.

The sky is a cleaner,
colder black than the road,
but the stars are still there.
Nothing is perfect.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Final Exam

The rain is allowed to stop,
the students are not.
The asphalt's mutter is gone,
the rooftop's sputtering ceases,
but the pitter-patter of little answers
testing their new legs against the questions,
that still has minutes to go before the rest
of their day can settle into working them
into proper objects. Tonight, the rain
will return on her own schedule.
The smart ones at their homework know
the day when the clock stops
ruling them is much farther off
than graduation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Both Sides

Her mouth opens. Her hands close.
Everything between, revolves.

She tells him to stop talking.
She promises she'll listen later,

if he does. All the air from
his tongue to her ear is ice,

until his quiet lets it melt.
She touches her toe to his,

the farthest thing from his
thinking thing, and halfway

past the hungry one. She tells
him he can remember it differently,

if he wants. She reminds him,
it's important, the stories

we tell about ourselves.
His hand opens. His mouth stays.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


We have not been weaned of dreams:
All our nursemaids believe in innocence.

We sharpen every tool into a weapon:
for time is both grindstone and sword.

We abandon the old to the dead:
The field is for war and festivals.

Monday, February 22, 2010

She's Continuous, Isn't She?

She's a geometer's dreamgirl,
all tangents to the touch of air
and imagination. Every eyeline
curves on approach to her round
horizons like an asymptote,
groping for access to her axis
but finding their path to her
there is infinitely oblique.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Much

Love is like a bucket with a hole in the middle.
Or love is the water that's meant to or needs
to fill it, or actually does. Or love is the hand
that keeps pouring into the injured pail or love
is the arm hauling it up from the well,
always less at the top than it had to begin
lifting. Or love is the ladle that gives
what is left, or the mouth that must drink
it or die. Love could be the well itself,
or the ground it was dug in but not the people
who needed the work done, or those who stand
in line to drain it. There the wide arms
of the idea must end.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Trumpet, Used, Plays Only One Note

The angel tried to tell us:
Everything we do is wrong.

We cannot hear the help there.
Perfection abandoned our ancestors

to their monumental adolescence,
and no other spotless superlative

adopted them or their mutant,
petulant, striving posterity.

Still we build our model towers,
efficient, properly scaled towers,

in the real and the true alike.
Still we try to be right,

when everything we do is wrong.
Still, we cannot hear the help there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Make Believe Thief

Such seeds he dreams up,
little ape hoping to hold
the scythe of father time.

Patterns wrapped as tight
as cells in flesh, paths
as numerous as nerve fibers,
all the maybe he can muster
folded up into one patina,
brown, humble starting point
gleaming like the eye
that first saw something
to tell about itself:

as many thronerooms
as there are peasants
dreaming they are royal orphans,
all that imaginary palace
packed in one uncrackable facade.

Pretty bangles awaiting
the ear they whisper in
to bend to the earth,
to plant them hooks and all
into the dirt thick with
foundations for empires;
pinprick luminosities
promising deep wells,
gravity and fusion forging
lead-heavy truth,
gold-plate for minting worth,
all from complications
made from simple one
and one, all from crushing
simplicity itself into
itself again and forever.

Such baubles he builds,
not houses or tools, but
enough to trade for them.
Such little glints he nets
like fireflies stuck
to the background glue
of the universe.

Such seeds he dreams up,
but he dare not plant them.
The world weeds itself well.
The world is not afraid of work.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Unspoken Couplet

All these thoughts I have caught,
when I should have been loving you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Share of Sleep

I do not trust myself to wake.

Sleep advertises everywhere,
musty air has an angle,
it tastes like an antique.

Death makes his nightly stop,
the depth all clocks must
turn through before dawn,

proud father of necessity,
selling and collecting
the same ticket,

since he's owned the way
between each day for years
his price is more than fair.

Three nights he could charge
for one day, if he wanted.

I may not be the man
who bought this bed
with a second-hand afternoon.

The measure of whether
a man's the same is:
for the chance to sell a share
of guilt, he'll pay debts
he doesn't feel he incurred.

I don't even eat for myself.
And some guy after me wipes
my ass, calls me bastard.

Tomorrow is a pile of rocks
waiting for seeds to green
and pearls to burgeon

into seas. The clock is
poised to pounce away
on silent paws.

I do not trust myself to wake.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Half a Bottle

She's as slick as a pill,
which means her bean's
missing the meat her seat
amply butters his eyes with,
she's free to see herself
out of the box I've thought
her into while his eyes
busily hide behind
the entitlement to rumple
her imagery at will.

She's as slick as a pill,
which is not repeated, no,
the line crosses itself
out, heard by the half
of her with ears,
so her bright bursting
remains uninterrupted
by the hairpin words
pinching what might
have been meant by what was:
a properly mucused
esophagus scraped by a dry
sour-powdery taste
sucking up the wet
like a glutton,
gluing itself to smoothness.

She's as slick as irony,
she's as medicinal as honesty,
but her authenticity is as heavy
as a chip of wax off a birthday
candle, and her sarcasm
bites like a newborn.
She is a pound of roundness
priced by the squared-off ounce,
but where those edges were
supposed to flow,
only the knife really knows.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Policy Correction

The boy asked about gender,
not sex, he amended,
"not sex, I mean gender."

I told him: Boys ask
if they're worthy.
Girls get to answer.

His mother corrected me,
said I'd better teach
him better than that.

So I said: she's right.
Girls ask, "are you worthy?"
Boys have to answer.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Her Line

Love locks you in,
she says succinctly.
The room is yours,
her first elaboration,
although they keep a key
at the desk and some
maid has the master,
she adds,
who the maid represents
in the parliament
she's seating round
this podium of sentiment
she does not elect to say
despite her stately raised
eyebrow, arch as a finger's
pointed melodrama,
love locks you in,
she says, a resuscitation,
beating her one beat,
as if she is a heart
with only four rooms
to live her lovelife in.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The good doctor neither gawked at
nor mocked her flagrant violet hue,

he combed her colorful aroma
with one manful, mindful hand

and roamed about the newest home
of her high-toned moan with the other

and pointing at the crux, the joint,
the anointed head of the enemy, he said:

a puncture at this juncture
would make her leak until she's pekid.

Soon this bloom of entrenched vibrancy
will plangently reek of meekness,

and when I take her tincture,
a pale pinkess I promise. To her:

One prick to the main vein of your bane
should drain the purple from the stain,

fear no needle, nor the bleeding pus,
imagine a flagpole, gently engorging

from its pure, painless point
to the top of good, white surrender,

claiming a lease on that soil for peace,
and soon as it is in the ground that sins you,

like snapping the cap of an oil well's swelling,
your innocently vile load of bile will explode,

gobbets of color lobbying
the landscape it splatters

for an abstract place to escape to,
and let them scatter like frogs and toads,

you'll be free of the teeming need
to hop or hope or have or hold,

and your pale, fair, hale, careless
face: restored to eggshell white.

A perfectly empty prettiness,
for sale if the buyer is right.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Look! What light from yonder prickly pear?
It's April, the cruelest month of our discontent.
The people come and go once more unto the breach:
slings and arrows, shanti, shanti, shanti,
and by any other name they would turn and turn again.
To be a bang or a whimper, that is his question.
He do the conscience of the king in different voices.
All the world's a pearl that was his eyes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Sky Does Not Need to Say No

Crow-souled, sparrow-hearted girl,
flippant of wing and beak-lipped,

what tortion of neck she displays
when hawking her own eyes,

what tailfeathers she spreads
when pinning seeds to the ground;

her heels like talons scribble
secret scratchwork figures,

showing her work to the class,
those gormless throats descrying

the worminess of worms and crying
out for regurgitated worm

sugared with her juicy stomach,
her long esophagus, her pink

tongue and her face promising
the taste of pablum, and her

wings, or those things catching
the light that might have been

a halo in another circle's
jargon, she certainly can

whip the wind up with them.
Yet she hasn't learned to fly.

When she does, she'll be all
the impossible has to promise.

Or she'll move in with her
metaphor only to find

his fineness can't afford
his half of the rent.

Then she'll accept the charity
doled out by biological destiny.

Then she'll winnow like a pan.
Sifting she'll leave to the wind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's Already Two Past My Advice

Never trust a seedless fruit.

The wholesale purpose of life
is annexation. The retail
purpose is collecting rent.

Peace was never in us.
The cell was the first palisade.
The cell was the first wall
built to keep something out.
The cell was the first
to claim a space and say
nothing else can live
here. Only this that I am.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

King Everything

Oh, vain world.
Sleeping is so easy.

You can't be sure
that a dream stops
with the dreamer's breathing.

I suppose you hope so.
Otherwise entropy

is a dictator
that only you support.
Or suffer. Or serve.

Yes, you are all that is.
The only one.

Are you silent
because you are alone

or because you wish you were?

Monday, February 8, 2010

For He So Loved the Lock

Do not envy Peter his key.
He stands outside the gate.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Waking, Running, It's All the Same Alarm

Ting, ting, ting
goes the apple in the tree,
it went to business school
to learn to sell itself
so it could rent a garden
to uproot itself to,
far from the stagnant,
original homestead.
Branches bobbing for air,
fat, sweet darlings
traded for water rights,
a percentage of the cider
to old alma mater moonshine,
scheduler of study aids,
turning Earth upside down
to reflect some light
down her skirt so young
trees know where the roots go.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Linear Arrears

Little muse, she wants to be a fury.
With her needle-knife for injecting
itches behind the ear and ideas
under the skin, she'd cut off the hand
that feeds the words to the page
if she could make a sword of her forearm.

She grows her own horns and saws
them off in hopes of the hollow
holding a bottomless well of immortal
fruit. She recites her wishes
perfectly, the genus and species
of snake she'd like tethered
to her central nerve, the perfect
temperature of molten rock
she'd like her veins to spray
upon her being wounded by her
intended, the tasks she sets
herself to prove her place
at a higher table than inspiration,

little muse, she wants to be a fate.
With her little tapestry of mastery,
her wall-wide collection of threads
making a thousand words into one,
true thing, she'd rather hold
the spool and the scissors.

What things become, she's tired of.
Those are only imitations, and words
one of the last kingdoms left
the last generation. The first
gods kept their fingers on
the real pieces. What she
wouldn't give to take,
rather than having
to give a talk.

Friday, February 5, 2010

So Many

This too, shall speak.
No object passing under
the mouthy hand that holds
the lantern high can escape
its rank in the files:
tags, labels, links,
references, appearances
in popular culture,
allegiances, usage,
history and see also

the meanings it might
have had if bought or built
by some other god's assistant.

Here are the things we are.
Like the list of our fathers
it is too long for any
living man to speak.
Still the mothers make us
and make us make our beds
and lie in them.

The bread does not butter
itself, she says. The old
man puts the book away
to say: the sun will shine
without your blood to run
it. Except he already

taught the child to read.
The secret keeps itself.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


That greatest apple-seller
said I could have a seed for free.

I wished I could love you properly,
the fables say there's safety
in unselfishness. He happily

granted my request and made me
someone else. That is how
he won you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Charting the Sea of Endless Shallows

Grasping ape, swung
over the rainbow between
the ground that bore you
and the height the pile of giant,
dead shoulder-blades has made,
you dangling darling of history,

you champion swimmer,
stroking over a sea
of sisters breathing brothers,
of men holding their own hands
to the rung above thier lovers,

you, the best selection,
the ribbon for the slickest
mouth to make an eye
want to make a body touch
a tool pretending to be made
for making words;
you, the master gilder
plucking your own lilies,
selling downstream
your own laurels,
the crown for the face
most likely to make us
forget Adam and Eve's
originally sinful visage,

you ground-glass theif
of the prism's property,
you twinkle-factory, you
knife-bright point shouting
down the sharpness of your
variations ready to replace you:

build no more cities in my ether.
I have not read your news today,
I have not watched your opinions,
your stories, your dramatizations
of my and your lesser drives
striving to make the world
believe they are better.

Your world is full of bookstores
full of selling themselves.
Your screens chase
each other's tattle-tale
truisms with the ambition to be
deeper than the flood
the last, great reformer of man
promised not to bother with again.

I'd rather my dreams
were dark than let them reflect you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Apology Excerpted

Oh, excuse me,
or should I say him.

This is who I used to be.

He shouldn't be here,
I know better.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Time and the Poet

Yes, I love you.
You are the metaphor superlative,
You stand in and for the human
condition, you surround me
like the sound of the answer
holding itself back until the end.

I just think we should see other meanings.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Captain Hook Watches the Horizon Dim

Goodnight, sweet bilgerats. Sleep
deeply, he's here, no doubt,
but the little terrorist
has a scabbard full of pranks, that's all.
No need to keep or call the watch,
my age may not have gathered wisdom
by the ticks and tocks, but restlessness
is a power sure to trump a dreamer.
Leave the canvas to flap and shred,
tonight. The deck is wet with spray,
and soon that shoeless urchin,
as self-satisfied as cats snatching
fish from an honest net will
slap his slippery heels upon it.
He might have some thief-sneak magic,
some naked-moon-flummery, words
so old and lonely he imagines
he imagined them, but that out there,
that's a salt-water sea,
where baubles and rhymes get lost,
get drowned in the most ancient
rhythm there is, dip and rock,
the ticks that came before the tocks.
He may have grown
wild without having to grow,
but my wild is coming soon, I know,
a madness I'll cherish like treasure
I'd forgotten I'd buried,
my rage will be all the storms
he played hide-and-seek in,
while trees he named fairy friends
swallowed the lightning for him,
all the cold he thumbed his nose at
while the boys he lost to hunger
pretending it was satisfied,
when it was all the time sneaking
the color right out of the blood
that fed their believing.
I know he has a wooden sword
as sharp as his mind makes it,
I know, but an iron hook
rips through charms as easily
as handkerchiefs and fish-cheeks,
I'll tie him down with a leaded-line,
and there's an end to flights
of fancy. Have no fear, yes,
hiding is his game, and he's here,
but he can't help laughing at us,
we're so old and ready for grinning
at, but I'll hear him, and then
I'll cut off his ears and show him
they look just like mine.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Two Ways to Count

A circle is a line
that believes in being obtuse.

If infinity is repetition,
then we are already over,
over and over, and around
is also and only again, forever.

A line is a circle
that ran away.

Out there it doesn't
even have to be a tangent.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Four and Twenty Imaginary Solutions

One bee in the camellia tree,
one greenfinch between leaves,

one elbow-jostling afternoon
counting singletons in the cold.

A dappled apple, taught humility
with thumbnail punctures,

a scarified passage from youthful
symbolism to its adult role:

foodstuff. The juicy wounds
complain the coffee is wrong,

off-tone, off-color, off message.
Soon the core is in the cup,

ceramic sepulchur for exposed
seeds and proudly gritty grounds,

ready to repeat their sour
history for any tongue

that stops to listen. Apple
and coffee aside, the dog

closes her nose to bees,
birds and the city's dreaming

team of aroma-makers,
kings counting their houses,

their stores and inventories,
their prime cuts of heaven,

nectar extra, manna
for platinum members only;

the dog rents with a breath
that patch of cushion

stinking like sunlight,
she wallows in it.

She doesn't know someone
might stop feeding her.

The planet is a nice place
to live. We'll be all right.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Strange, that white light should be
so rich and so brightly bland.

Buckler-cloud, with your bull's eye
chance to ward a yard from a bolt of sun,

yes, you've gone from simple froth
to mystic master. You became a spatial
gradient from glare to gloom,
floating between the sun and me.

Yes, I missed it, for that moment,
the hot, simple swath went slack,
the plain, perfect light so easy
to laugh at was gone. Pretense
selected which specifics to disdain,
which details to authenticate,
and when it came back, proud,
loud yellow monotony, the missing
also mattered, so I could not
pretend it was wise to know I
should have known it would return,
as if the shadow was somehow unreal.

It was good. Missing the thing
that was good was also good. Later,
I would miss it again, and love
that I hadn't learned my lesson.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Commuters Misusing the Word Monsoon

Today must be another day, because
the rain has come again. The backlogged
drizzle's brunt drops like a ready-made bog,
a thorough front of wet too long paused
by a city's wish to give us each day
our daily business. A pitter of plops
drumming up a thunder, drips become clops,
droplets happy to stampede: "bombs away"
the tiny shells exclaim as they explode
their payload of moist and chill. Their duty
fulfilled, little splatters, useless beauty
glistens on street and sign alike. One road
dreams of diving under all the driving,
sleeping undersea. The cars keep striving.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Taking the Drum Apart

She tells me what kind of quiet she wants.

The sounds are to divide like the sea,
so she can walk upon that wet desert
with her own shoeless feet, grip
the silt with toes tired of climbing's
leftovers, she wants to walk the secret
way down to the womb the great mother
keeps the angry giants unborn in.

She whispers to me, which silence she'd like.

The sounds are to parade past her,
the brayers bleating on her left hand,
the fluffy, silent counters rustling
into the cloudbank on her right.
There she'll shear the silent fleece,
spin it into untold yarns and knit
a cloak proof against a gate of flame.

She informs me which reticence would be better.

The sounds are to lay down. The light
has made them obsolete, the letters
have learned tone, color, even inflection.
Better not to be hunted or made slaves,
the sounds should die. Music she will
no longer need. The pictures and their
thousand words will keep her happy.

She asks for silence. I unwrap it for her
and take the paper away when I go.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Upon Rising

The sun blues the black,
a distant brush of greatness
draws the slumping color
back from the window,
across the yard, the county,
the countryside.

The glass grasps
the new royal tinge,
like a palette proud
to mix the right hue,
and quick as a tree trunk's
squeaky mimicry of a bird,
the wind shakes awake
forms, makes depth
necessarily true,
and the window becomes
only a doorway.
Imagery rushes in,
as pushy as a free offer.

Now the blue is removed,
so high and abstract
it's childishly bright.

The sun vaults the hedge,
the window becomes the bearer
of white, wooden crosses,
stalwart angles fathering
stark distortions upon
the carpet, the couch,
the coffee table's
collection of humble.
The parallelograms promise
order survives even
alterations of form.
The angles keep proportion,
if not identity.
Their originals stand
trapped, jealous of
their children's changing.

Somehow, mere vapor
crowds together enough clout
to cloud out the sun.
The glow of radiation droops
past the sharp of shadow,
cut away like a scene
soon to be contradicted
next episode. The greyed
reflectors keep the house
like retirees playing
life like it's a hobby.
The idea of rain
rings itself in.

Soon sound takes over
the depth of field,
the scent of wet the middle
and the foreground
is only variations
on cold and moist.
The morning has told
a story, but noon
has other business
to attend to.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Her mouth is too small.
Secret swallowing is beyond
her depth, one sword
would puncture her justification,
empty her down to the grounds,
the lady of her lake
left to flop around alone,
suffocating on the bottom with
a wisdom as old as gills.

Her lips are a bottleneck.
She's all pucker and no breath,
she can't stop kissing
every air that saunters by.
The gift the wings
were tasked to bring
as always, asks for awe.
She cannot open wide
enough to pronounce it.
The trumpet moves on.

Her teeth are too wide for the gap,
where the red-tinged fringe
lumps up its blush.
The flaps cushion the brash,
bullhorn words horning out,
thorns being born from a bud,
egg-fat secrets
tearing through a slit
full of sharp,
barbs meant to scrape the meat
from anything escaping,
letting out only bones as
thin as the shells
she sucked off her progeny
so her saliva could slick
the fledgling wings
down her gullet
to feather her proper

Her mouth is too small.
Behind that red buttonhole
her mind coils up like a hair
grown inside a greasy pore.

Her mouth holds her back.
When she was young,
someone told her
wisdom was silent.
Her mouth is now a stone,
proud of the strength
it takes not to pretend
it is a mouth.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Colder than a Breadbox

A brittle thing for slicing,
water so cold its lost its wet.

She's making us ice sandwiches,
no cream, no cucumber,
no peanut butter or chicken.
From a loaf of frozen bubbles,
unpoppable foam letting the crust
do the crackling, she unhinges
one slab to start. Soon her sawing
sees a profit, a pile of playing-card
thin mock-ups of meat and cheese,
chips as white and round as provolone,
strips as oblong and rough-edged
as pastrami. She tops them
with mismatched slivers,
prickly crunchers fluffing
their crisp into a clear-cut

promise. That last dash
of sea-water sauce does it,
she licks the salt on her finger
and draws a letter
in the frost pocking that top
slice. This one, she says, is yours.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Two Drinks

Water like a lover's finger,
smooth, cheek-hooking curve,
unfurling swirl drowning her tongue,
like a feeling should, she says.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Him cuts the roses so they can grow.
Him's a solar hero, he makes things
the same as the day, bright and doomed
to die in praise of an illusion.
Him wants the flowers to win
the same hill, the men to learn
the same lesson, the world to turn
under him, building a tower
aimed at the same and only noon
the math can prove is true,
and worth repeating, the answer,
again and again and again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


the vacuum harbors
an unnatural anchor

the spinning dust
loves the center

it draws in the dark

another turning
becomes the ground

another motion
makes everything

as still as it is

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Actual Size

I am not precious or small
my measure is the height of immense
any object of more dimension
is as much a tale as it is tall

Monday, January 11, 2010

Untitled Nobility

her soul is a pinhole camera
threading itself through a camel's intestine

to make a map for posterity

old double-humpy swallowed Peter's key
out of spite and runs laps around the gates

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I, Object

I should work,
said the machine.

I was built, so
I should work.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Becoming Important

Slow boiled down to proper sloth,
a greasy tincture strained for it's slippery,
rolled downslope to splash and compact,
the quick descenders splattering
into their fractions, colluding,
pressing together in hopes of forever
nesting in the center they've distilled.