Tuesday, November 29, 2022

An Open Book

Slumped on a stone in the sun,
Bent dozing, nose to kneecaps,
Like a tuckered toddler or

Hedgehog in the palm of god,
The old man woke with a start
And went straight to reciting

A poem he’d learned in his teens,
As if someone had asked him
A question, and that was all

He could manage to answer,
Old sleeping dog roused to bark,
Then looking around to sniff

For danger, reaching the last
Line already half asleep.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Hurray, but We’re Used to It Now

Are we wearied enough yet
With scene-setting anecdotes
Starting chapters and essays?

Maybe myths were just the world
Throat clearing like a preacher
Or a pop-science writer

With some human-interest
Storytelling and drama
Before getting down to facts.

Can you not absorb a text
Filled with signification
Without a little story

First? Well, at least keep it brief,
So that we can leap past it
Like school kids skipping the parts

With long, boring descriptions
To get back to the action.
For words, palpable language,

Language with textured mouth feel,
Abstractions, facts, assertions,
Lies, rhymes—that’s where there’s action.

Once the world’s done with bedtime
And the children are asleep,
We can hunt those souls you keep.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Dusty Ride to the False Front Saloon

Mortality cannot be
Dealt with in narrative form.
Mortality can attract

Stories that start off, carry,
And/or end up with a corpse
Or two over the saddle.

Mortality has not been
Dealt with. Where mortality
Is concerned, storytelling

Is just what you have to tie
To the hitching post outside.
It stays when you go inside.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Underwriting Underwritten

In the office park
In Parsippany,
Among cubicles,
Back in the eighties,
There was a whole wing,

Both elitist but
Also a ghetto,
For the certified
Specialists known as
The underwriters.

Everyone else sold,
Massaged, or processed
The group insurance
Packages and claims.
Underwriters ruled

The terms that could work.
Strange to encounter
In these outside wilds
Now and then, the term
Underwritten, meant

As made possible,
Financed, justified.
Every narrative’s
Just underwriting
Written over, then.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Deer Weather

A web-less spider
Waits on the white wall
Of a pit toilet,

Patient as the cold
That excites the deer
In surrounding woods.

They crowd the meadows,
Pour over fences,
Bolt across roads

Into November.
Some injure themselves.
Some end as roadkill,

The next time you’re out
For a walk, you stop
At the same outhouse.

And there’s the spider,
Still on the white wall,
Barely moved at all.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Fenyeit of the New

To break up sleep,
One other book
The maker takes,

The pretended
One, on no shelf,
To make oneself,

To carry on
The destiny
Of the ended,

What happened then
To our sad tale?
Anything good,

Or only worse?
To read that book,
The maker makes

A few phrases,
Then a few more,
Then universe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


You run across a story
Of yourself by accident.
You feel bad for having killed

The story. It broke in half
Right where you crossed it. Where you
Fractured, the story fractured.

The story had two authors.
Neither one knew about you.
The first author was telling

A story about failure,
About the second author
Who failed to tell the story.

So the first author retold
The tale of the second one,
In which the second one told,

Or at least started to tell,
A story all about you.
You didn’t recognize it

At first, but then the authors,
The second one through the first,
Reached the part where you fractured,

And then you knew it was you.
That’s where the second one stopped
And couldn’t go on further,

Which was all part of the first
One’s story of the second
One’s failure. Not about you.