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.