Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Flute Player

On the sharp ridge joining
The sacred and profane,
Our favorite secret place,
We caught the gauzy clouds
Of a gaudy sunset
And would have been content

With that grandeur alone,
Except that evening winds
Decided to grace us
With an extra magic
We'd never known before.
What was that faint music?

Keening, rhythmic, sweet-toned,
But not quite melodic
And vaguely percussive,
It circled the compass,
Coming from one canyon
First, then the opposite.

We couldn't locate it,
Shifting with the slant light,
So that we'd pause and tilt
And peer this way or that.
Someone's campsite? A car
Down River Road? Hikers?

It sounded like a flute,
The tune it carried was
Something repetitive,
Plaintive, introspective.
It rose from nowhere,
Died away on the air

And then returned again,
Slightly altered, elsewhere.
Listening, leaning in
To cup it from silence,
Was to hear the double
Meaning of enchantment.

Monday, May 30, 2011

To the Dead, the Half-Dead, and the Riddles of Paradox

I can just imagine running into 
One of your faithful family some day
In Moab or Fruita or some damn place
And being recognized as the weird guy
Who desecrated your cemetery
And on Memorial Day of all days.
Even as I drove away, in my head
I was already explaining myself
To my insulted interlocutor,
Unskeining tangled, loopy narration.

How far back do I start? Two days ago,
You see, I was telling my wife Sarah
About Decoration Day in the South,
About how seriously country folk
Took the ritual of fixing up graves,
Something akin to ancestor worship,
Although the symbols of flags and crosses
Paid highest homage to Christ and country.
I wasn't thinking of Colorado.
It was a casual conversation.

This morning began with no thought of graves,
Only frustration at feeling housebound 
By the holiday hordes swarming our town.
How to get out without getting crowded?
We decided to bundle the baby
And a picnic of simple sandwiches
And drive until we reached somewhere quiet,
Preferably somewhere we had not yet been.
We looped south around the La Sal Mountains,
Until we dropped down into Paradox.

We'd heard of Paradox before from friends,
I'd even wandered down the valley once
Alone on an autumn drive. One friend said
It was Castle Valley's doppelgänger,
Another said it was the same valley
Bisected by the mushrooming La Sals.
Either way it bore some strange relation
To our home valley on the other side.
The name alone made a visit tempting,
So we turned off the main road and drove in.

In the center of the valley, a hill,
Just a bump compared to the towering
Red-rock rim and heaped-up snow-capped giants
Surrounding it, circled by a wire fence,
Sported a slightly battered wrought white gate
Proclaiming "Paradox Cemetery."
It just seemed too perfect for a picnic,
Under all that windy, cloud-sweeping sky,
And when we drove around the loop of plots
We were charmed by all the decorations.

In addition to fresh flags and flowers,
Mostly brightly colored silks and plastics,
Numerous more idiosyncratic 
Touches flourished among modest headstones,
A grave covered in white-painted pebbles
Beside a grave covered in colored glass,
Graves with dangling ornamental abstracts
In brass or copper, or hanging lanterns.
And there, the largest tombstone on the hill,
Drab slab with one word facing us: "Riddle."

We stopped there. We meant no disrespect, but
How ideally improbable is that:
A Riddle is buried in Paradox?
On the far side of the Riddle's tombstone,
Lay the pair of graves, one with white pebbles
By one with colored glass, and a small shade tree
Over them, beside a tumbled cherub.
We spread our picnic by the little tree,
Facing the Riddle, and Sarah, who's slept 
Hardly at all for weeks, made a droll toast:

"To the dead, the half dead, and the Riddles
Of Paradox!" I laughed, the baby cooed,
The wind tossed the sparse leaves of the lone tree,
And the Memorial sun shone brightly
On the American flags, the crosses,
The newly placed, fluttering silk bouquets,
The faded fragments of past years' bouquets
Now scattered in the tufts of new-mown grass,
And down the whole, long valley, green with spring.
After lunch I lay back and thought I'd nap.

Sarah could take photos of the gravesides,
The baby could snooze in pale shade with me,
And maybe a profound thought might occur
To one of us, worthy of the setting.
Then biology trumped profundity.
A squelching sound like a boot stuck in mud
Came from under the baby. I sat up,
Sarah got the diaper bag from the car,
And we surveyed the damage: our cherub
Had soiled three layers of onesies and pants.

We got her up and stripped from the waist down,
Balanced upright while one of us mopped up 
The front side of her, the other the back.
That was our family tableau,
Three strangers, unrelated to the dead
Buried and decorated around us,
When your family pulled up in two trucks,
A stout troop wielding rakes, hoes, and flowers.
What could we do? We cleaned up our daughter,
Waved at the Riddles, packed up, and drove home.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hear No Helpful, See No Helpful, Do No Helpful

I met a guru with no disciples
Working in a laundromat
Who sagely informed me that
Hamlet had the right question
And all others were trifles.
He hadn't answered it yet.

I met a bro-dude in Moab
Sporting a hippy-length beard,
Curled and coiffed as a cavalier,
Who wore his philosophy
On his brand-new, bright-blue
T-shirt: "Your ego is not
Your amigo," it sneered.

I met a beige wall of dust and wind
Blowing outside a Walmart
In Grand Junction. It said nothing
For all that it had a huge voice.
I didn't have the heart to start
To question so inhuman a thing,
As if I had any choice.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So Moses Wants to Stay in Egypt

Late May in Red Rock Country, and the plagues descend.
Every afternoon now, armies of grasshoppers
Decamped in the Indian grass around the house
Begin their suicidal assaults on the porch.
Perched on my knees they appear ornately armored
As feudal samurai, as Tiffany lampshades,
Absurdly decorative dress for a battle,
And battle it is of some kind, although I can't
Begin to understand their mad plan of attack.
I've read somewhere that cannibalism moves them,
That they only swarm when fleeing each other.
They pelt me in their desperation; then leap away.

And then there's the wind. On any given evening,
This sublimely peaceful valley, full of birdsong,
And of course the chorusing of all those insects,
Can gather its soft, sighing, blissful breezes,
And begin to hum, hiss, rumble, moan, and then rage,
Snapping the resilient tree branches back and forth
Rippling, then flattening the long dry grasses,
Driving even ravens and grasshoppers to ground,
Until tall dust devils, the ground itself disturbed,
Start swirling into life. The view from the window,
If one is lucky enough to be behind one
And foolish enough to look out, goes somber brown.

Meanwhile, inside the house, the clever mice hide out,
Making nests in the insulation and the trash.
Mammal myself, I have an unreasonable
Affection for these pests, whose motives I can grasp.
Every night I bait and set the traps, every night
Or almost, one of the quivering whiskered imps
Finds itself keeping house in one of my prisons,
Taking solace in the pine-nut hoard that lured it.
Come windy, grasshopper-tormented afternoon,
I cart out my cellmate, shit-smeared prison and all,
Set the trap on the floor of the truck and drive out,
To dump my friend somewhere fair, too far to come back.

Usually, I leave the valley and stop along
The River Road, sacred heart of geology
First haunted, then rafted, then mapped, then ranched, then filmed,
Then mined, then paved, then hiked, biked, and rafted again
By my personal species of mammalian pests,
The ones who write poems and give names to everything,
Although we are never entirely sure whether
We intend to ennoble ourselves or the things
Named with all our naming and renaming of them.
This time of year, both road and river become clogged,
The first with motorized and recreational
Vehicles of all sizes, swaying in the winds,

The latter with orange rafts, orange life-jackets,
Orange inner-tubes bearing orange-skinned humans
From climates more appropriate to hidden skin,
Floating and shouting and picnicking and camping,
Occasionally drowning, I suppose, to trust
The holiday postmortems in the local news.
Those who put up with grasshoppers, windstorms, and mice
On a yearly basis, who boast of paying dues
To live yearlong in this place that others visit,
Happily consider the visitors a plague
Unto themselves, although a plague one profits by,
As the locals once profited by grasshoppers.

In town, that plague of visitors spends hard,
The big, little, and medium spenders swarming,
Like the different sizes of grasshoppers (surely
You saw that simile coming), flinging themselves
At the gift shops, the gas stations, the grocery stores,
The windows of places promising adventures,
The porches of cafes and outdoor gear supply
Outlets, the tented parks setting up festivals
Of all the things that crowded people will fly to--
Food, music, art, and most peculiarly of all,
Each other, another outbreak species, I think
Archly, hiding out on this dusty, bug-strewn porch.

Friday, May 27, 2011

As Dreams Are Made

"Something in the Cat Is Always Awake"

You are not the dreamer.
A body dreams it sleeps.
A body dreams it wakes.

You are one of the dreams.
The world you feel is you,
A state your body makes.

You feel faint awareness
Of worlds outside that world
That you know to be true,

Dreams of other bodies,
Other dreams your body
Makes that are without you.

Dream that you are, you won't  
Leave off troubling yourself
With how to be more real,

Caught up in paradox,
Loneness, duality,
Koans you can't anneal.

What is that tenuous
But insuperable
Thread stitching your intent,

Glowing fabrication
Of the mind, down the seam
That joins you to events?

You're not a rock dreaming
Of being a person
Nor a person dreaming

Of being a rock, you
Are the dream that they both,
Thrown together, produce.

I'm writing this all wrong,
That shouldn't need writing
At all, poesy and puff,

Great strange dream that I am,
Trivial spectator,
Dream such as makes up stuff.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The will is free
If you will, but
Never very
Large at all, nor

At least not more
Than other wills,
Other causes,

The myriad
Of minuscule,
Bumps and nudges,

The Brownian
The whole mad waltz.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


You'll forget anything 
That you do more than once.
Only the singular
Memories more or less
Stay labeled and intact.
Three years ago this date,

My lover and a nurse
Hauled me from a gurney
Onto a huge wheelchair
Designed for stroke victims,
Cranked me partway upright,
And rolled me into sun,

Between the hospital
Fountains and the highway,
South of Salt Lake City.
The chair felt like a boat,
Long white sheets in full sail.
Never did that again,

Never hope to do so.
Two years ago this date
My new bride and I drove
A white boat of a truck
From Helen Gorge over
Red sands and spinifex

Horizons under blue
Skies through clouds of black flies,
In Australia's NT,
Past carcasses and wrecks,
Nearly getting stuck once,
A one of its kind day.

I remember it well.
But just a year ago
We spent the day doing
All our favorite things
By the lake. That's a blur.
The best day of them all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Cloud

I met a Scottish
Philosopher once
In a dark tavern
Who scoffed at sliver
Linings. "The fact is,

So long as you live,
Things could always get
Worse, which is a poor
For optimism.

Save silver linings
For caskets!" I asked 
What kept him going,
Given that viewpoint.
He shrugged. "Could be worse."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chapter Thirteen

These three remain, fear
Hope, and nostalgia--
The thing with dark teeth,
The thing with feathers,
And the thing with paws.

The first two command
The future, flanking
The way on each side,
Poking us behind
And luring us on,

To what? Infernal
Distractions, they scratch
Each peaceful moment
With terror and greed.
Nothing is too much

For either of them,
Yet never enough
For that third monster
Of unease, always
Sighing, glancing back,

Glowing nostalgia,
The velvet hunger,
The leonine eyes.
These three remain, but
Worst is nostalgia.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Alas, Poor Judgment, I Know It Well

Ah well, here we are.
Once again, Jesus
Chose not to return.
I grieve, a little,
For those who believed.

They're not so different
From the pack of us
Dreaming of winning
Lottery jackpots,
Talent-show prizes,

True love forever,
The chance to leave town,
Simple promotion,
The last word, wisdom,
The first place in line.

We want to believe
Desires are causes
And daydreams are fate
So badly, we choose
To loathe what we know--

That fate has nothing
To do with our dreams,
Our myths are our schemes,
And true cause outstrips

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Judgment Day (on the Anniversary of the Great Flood, Destruction, and Fall)

Sweet believers, you needn't show
Your holy briar patch to me.
It's tempting, but once in, I'm gone.
I was born and bred for The End.

Nuclear armageddon threatened
The autumn of my infancy,
My folks were evangelicals,
Founding members of a small church

Of folding chairs and cinderblocks,
Rife with chatter about Rapture,
And I inhaled science-fiction
Tales premised on Apocalypse.

Many awful things have happened
Around this world these five decades,
But as I'm here to testify,
The End Times haven't got here yet.

Then again, there's always today,
And for a few thousand of you,
This date is the day anointed:
7,000 years exactly,

By peculiar calculation,
From God's last destruction of Earth
In Noah's Flood (you know the one
Where all the species shrank to pairs

For six weeks on a wooden boat
While God worked on the Grand Canyon.)
Your mad, human beauty of faith
Stuns, amazes, and beguiles me.

Maybe this time you're right, maybe
The world at last will end tonight,
A flaming ball of holy fire,
Consumed by God-given desire,

As end it must for some of us,
Though we each find our end unjust
When fated to be ours alone.
How much more wonderful to go

With all creation, all at once,
More wondrous still to be among
The chosen few who wlll be saved.
Small wonder that the heathen rage!

That's the real appeal of The End:
To pass through and begin again,
The world wiped clear, as prophesied,
For me and mine to colonize.


Such are the words of the Fool who pretends
Reality is real, forced to defend

His dry choice to accept things as they are,
Who sees nothing but light in every star.

Good luck to you, Sweet Believers who might
Yet share that last laugh in heaven tonight!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tiny Mantra for the Moment (and in Any Case, Tomorrow Is Judgment Day)

This is
This be-

This be-

And go-
Ing and
Is gone

This be-


Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Quality of Mercy

Oh god, nothing arty
please, tonight--
no more pseudo-buddhist
musings, no more

gibbering meandering
metaphysical bullshit,
and don't even think
about rhyming this time.

You're shot. You're done.
It's past sunset of a long gone day
that started well prior to dawn,
right about when you found

the pinyon mouse had taken the bait
and gotten locked inside
the little black trap
you thought was merciful

because, instead of snapping
its back in one blackout crack,
it just scooped the poor devil
into a hopeless cell and held it

until you carted it out into the rain
and wind, a few thousand or so
mouse lengths from the house,
and dumped it out

tail first, pathetic fur
matted with its own piss,
giant ears twitching,
into the juniper duff.

It gave you one, deep,
black-eyed, uncomprehending
look, and then reflexes took over,
and it took off into the scrub.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Hole in the Sky

There's no real eye to any storm.
There's a space a storm makes,
The way the brain creates a self,
That's easy to mistake

For something stable in itself,
An existence apart
To which we can attach a name
That is motion that starts

From other motions, framed in frames,
Expanding forever,
The storm framed by season, seasons
Framed by years, years never

Resting, just as the brain's reasons
Are framed by far beliefs,
Languages, cultures, lies
Framed by races, by griefs

More ancient than the species, sighs
From under the earth, forms
Heaving into lives, selves that storms
Then shake, inform, revive.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moki Hour

Every day is strange
In its own way.
Every day has its own
Magicks, white, black, and grey.

A morning begun
In dark downpour
And exhaustion
Might weirdly, around four,

Suffer a brief burst
Of joyous perfection,
Bright sun on high red cliffs,
A mind too light for introspection.

This is no insight.
But still it surprises,
How our damned peculiar sun
Never sets as it rises.

Monday, May 16, 2011


About stuff:

The moon glides
And hides

Behind a blue

Of padded cloud
As a loud

Pet peacock

Crying, husky-
Throated on the dusky

Valley floor.

The complications
Of the situation

But avoid, too, any stark,
And plaintive narrative arc,

Designed to more fully explain.
Let the moon glow rain

Or the moon shine dry.
Don't tell me why.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Story of Me and My Story

Another day in boxes,
Spring moving, spring cleaning, spring
Ruminating about lost pasts,
Ridiculous decisions,
Ages ago, to keep things
That can only embarrass
Or baffle me, silly things

Crates of lampshades, boots, and ties,
Ugly jackets and sweaters,
Odd prosthetic devices,
Decades-old bills, documents,
Papery heaps of letters
Sent to young me from young friends
Each trying to write better

Than the other and failing.
Save for perhaps a handful
Of family photos, rare books,
An artwork or two, it's all
Best sent off to the landfill.
Why cling to this mound lacking
eloquence of an anthill?

I think of all the gone selves
Re-editing this story
Of what I wanted or thought
I wanted others to see
As me in all my glory
Tattered as a faerie flag,
Pretense past all restoring.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sacred Waste

The irretrievable tortures us.
Vacant and vain and vast and waste
Are all words grown from the same root,
Bearing fruit worthless and surplus.

Anything unconsumed is waste
Anything consumed beyond use
Is also waste. What we squander
And what destroys us, also: waste.

That which is empty is that which
Is lost and in which we get lost,
The vacant lot, the vacant stare,
Shell games, love in vain, bait and switch,

Such a waste, the rich life done soon,
The long and unaccomplished life,
Vast empty space, the black hole's maw,
The lost light of each waning moon.

Something in me is drawn to waste,
Much as I feel its repulsion,
The ruined, the toxic, the true,
The midden's trove, the hopeless case.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Little Drifter

What would it be like if you left you,
Advisor to the body,
Soft-spoken shadow?

Who would you be if you left you,
Even assuming you could leave
And were not glued to bone and marrow?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where the Dirty Old Hermit Lives

I don't think it's true that he screams,
Nor that he keeps a loaded gun.
He's not as dirty as he seems.
He's unkempt. He lives in the sun.

His "cabin" is a double-wide
Abandoned before he found it.
He camps out there, untroubled by
Whose property rights surround it.

He likes being near the train tracks.
He spends hours at that little pond.
If you wave at him, he'll wave back,
Probably just a bit too long.

One passerby heard him lament,
"Love should be put into action!"
He swears his actual comment
Was, "No love is an infraction."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Bar to Any Watch You Keep

Look away from everything that makes you,
Your complex, contradictory stories, 
Your profane and sacred explanations
Of differing versions of origins,
Your ceaseless, restless, useless scrutiny
Of the glittering shallows you can see
As you imagine those abyssal plains
Where great, heavy chains of causation drag,
Tangle, and scrape across the floor of things,
Forcing the invisible vortices,
Upwellings and cross-currents you christen
Time, a heaving inheritance, pushing
Against the shifting winds of each moment,
Producing, you insist, your existence,
Waves of embodiment, rolling under,
Giving rise to your spindrift consciousness,
All the wispy effervescent nonsense
You cherish, spray and spittle of your poems,
All this mist and fog of constant thinking,
Obscuring who you are when you aren't you.
Look away. Even science, even faith
Even composing poetry contracts
The view to squint-eyed, watery dazzle.
Let the rest of this day be no more than
Today. Tomorrow is another poem.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Life is simplest on the days
When life gets complicated.
There's not much philosophy
Applicable to big trucks,
Loading docks, and tight schedules.
Country music is better 
Than Zen for this sort of thing.

Or maybe not. Assuming
Even Zen masters get stuck
Dealing with the mechanics
Of buying, hauling, and building
Mountains of monastic stuff,
A relaxed, alert focus
Might grant hectic satori.

Crates of old stuff, crates of new,
The ant-hill as memory
Of ant-actions, the midden
As extended phenotype,
The shell the tortoise
Labors to build and carry,
In order to feel secure.

It's not a human problem,
Everything that lives gathers,
Processes, incorporates,
Sheds, and regathers to live.
How do we get what we crave?
How do we get rid of it
Before it suffocates us?

Life's leftover junk riddles
The whole crust of the planet,
Rusty layers testify
To the age when oxygen
Itself was cumulative waste,
Limestone mountains, heaps of shells,
Carved up for human mansions,

Once piled on disregarded
Shelves of overstocked oceans.
So on. Whatever happens
To me and all my boxes
After today's adventures,
Leftovers will outlast me,
Others will sift my remains,

Be they people, wolves, or ants,
And mighty microbia,
Earth's first movers and shakers,
Tend all gardens in the end.
Peace and struggle, all the same.
I won't try to reason why.
Stuff is just to move or die.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Foolish Fire

What is an awareness? Favorite question
Of certain gurus, metaphysicians
And neuroscientists. The mandala
Of each moment of awareness enchants
And evades every questioner who turns in
The space of awareness, creating it.
By asking itself of itself, it is
Awareness itself, dog of consciousness
Spinning in pursuit of its vanishing.
Nothing can be known outside awareness.
It creates everything, but it controls
Nothing, is the cosmos self-creating,
And is an evanescent, blurry wisp
Glowing intermittently in the fens.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Don't Want to Write a Poem Today with Her Voice in My Head

On her first mother's day
Sarah reads me a piece
In the local paper,
Not about mothering
But about a poet
Who's won a Guggenheim.

Back up. I've done nothing
To make today special
In the usual way--
No chocolates, no flowers,
No breakfast served in bed,
Not so much as a card.

A poem was all I'd planned,
One in this can-can line
Of interchangeable
High-kickers in knickers
I've written since Sarah
Dared me: "a poem a day!"

In meeting that challenge
I've rediscovered joys
I thought I'd lost for good,
Pleasures found composing
Freely, swiftly, lightly
To earn my daily verse.

And Sarah, good mother
To our one and only
Sequoia Athena,
Has also been mother
To many of the best
Phrases in this fun.

I wish I wrote more,
More better, more often,
That's all, just to thank her.

And then there's this poet,
This prize-winner who boasts
One good line takes a week.

The poetry machine
Loves her, apparently.
All her prizes prove it.
Now they've awarded her
Forty-thousand dollars
To finish five more poems.

Of course I'm envious.
Eight thousand bucks a poem!
We go to her website
To sample golden words:
"Kiss the brick," "compass rose,"
"An end to love." Oi vey.

A terrible snooty
Is born! Precise. . . . Diction. . . .
Her thickly perfected lines
Make my teeth hurt. I turn
To Sarah. "This is why
I gave up writing poems.

This is Writers' Workshop,
The New Yorker, the whole,
Inbred, kumquat shebang!"
"Oh relax," Sarah says
"Use the thing you just said
For a title."
                   I did.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Many Mini Feckless Comparisons

mene mene tekel upharsin

Contrails, long-haired comets of bald daylight,
Criss-cross the sky, white pick-up sticks, white straws
Scattered by pitchforks of technology,
White wakes of speedboats chasing across lakes.

These are my divine reassurances,
These, not rainbows, my promises from God.
These are my visitors, omens, angels,
Heavenly messengers who comfort me.

And why not? To be sure, they're just jet planes,
Peopled machines piloted by yet more
People and machines, none to do with me,
Nor I with them, and for most of my life

I've vaguely resented their trace in my skies,
Except when I was aboard one of them.
Today, their ubiquity consoles me,
And their meaningless anonymity 

Hints at everything true about this world,
As their indecipherable scribbling
That ever so slightly alters weather
Resembles the Hand, writing on the wall.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Everything That Isn't

It is what it is.
Oh no, it is not.
It is what is not.

It is not what it is.
It is not what it was.
It won't be what it is.

It is nothing.
It is naught.
It is naughty.

It is knotty.
It is nothing.
It is knotted.

Stop telling it
what it is to discover
what it is, is not.


So we set out our plans
as we sit in the sun
out behind everything

we have to leave behind,
and we discuss travel,
parenting, and packing,

and we soak up the light,
we who don't sleep at night,
and we love each other,

renew our promises,
consider our options,
reconsider our plans,

and a raven chortles
in a cutting black glide
between us and the sun,

and a weird bumblebee
we've never seen before,
striped with blue not yellow,

bombards desert flowers
offering brave nosegays
to that which will wilt them,

and we revise our plans
as if our plans were ours
to propose and dispose,

and then our baby cries,
and we go back inside,
under that brief, black glide.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Just (a Place) as Well

A One . . .

A breeze stirs the baby green leaves
of a great grand cottonwood tree

so that the shadows dance
across the corrugated bark

and behind you the channeled creek
gurgles and whispers its newfound way

into the tiny, tiny reservoir
that serves this castled valley,

and you know, you admit
despite whatever fears you have,

you know that this right here,
this is good.

. . . And a Two

I suppose that more or less
every spot on earth is

equidistant from the center,
and granted that approximate fact,

there's no reason to prefer
one point as more exotic

than another, other than
human history and myth,

in which particulars this exotic
valley finds itself in short supply,

but what I wouldn't do,
mind you, entirely to be rid

of just that human history
and myth in all my selves

and in all of youse
as well.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Variations on a Theme Attributed to Galileo (with Apologies to Burns)

E pur si muove!


Still it
moves. Still

and still

it moves.
It moves

and still
is still

and yet
it moves!


The past is not
because it's gone.

The future is not
because it hasn't.

And the present is not
because it can't sit still.


We came home to find
a giant-eared mouse,
desert indigene,
nesting in a drawer
nicely located

under the counters
near kitchen shelves
of dry goods mostly
open for taking--
a mouse paradise.

Blind, pink specks of pups
wriggled in their crib's
cozy nursery
of pink fibreglass
wall insulation.

Hard black seeds of turds
speckled the counter
by the cereal
boxes, and the couch
by the computer.

A big-eared shadow
flitted from kitchen,
over open floor,
to the firewood box
and back again, thrice,

once we'd disturbed them
by opening drawers
and spotting the nest.
She was wee, sleekit,
and timorous, but

she was not cowering.
She did not appear
to mourn best-laid schemes.
suggested she act,

and so she acted,
first by laying claim
to our empty house,
spectacular find,
immune to ravens,

immune to weather,
empty of other
mice of any kind,
with castles of food
and towers of drawers.

Then, when we prior
occupants returned
and surprised her nest,
she went back to work,
rearranging things.

By the next morning,
she dared a bold raid
on a dropped backpack
she'd smelled hid a bag
of almonds inside--

in blazing sunlight,
in the living room,
staring straight at us,
one insouciant ear
rotated our way.

Ah. "'Gang aft agley,'
my rosy red ass,"
she seemed to suggest,
as if daring us
to toss our own plans

and start something new,
without wringing hands
or writing dour poems
on crisis and fate.
We too have to move

from here in ten days,
drag our pink baby
to our makeshift nest.
We can and we will.
To move is to be.


It moves, and everything is naught,
and yet it is, because naught moves.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ariadne's Children Stop at Nothing

Somehow, we carry on,
Tatting our universe
With lace syllogisms,
Squinty-eyed, impoverished
Decorators of ways,

Embroiderers of paths
With fine webs of logic,
Too elegant for truth,
Sweetly as they outline
Limitations and lies:
Retracing our traces,

We're always en route.
We've always arrived.
We're just about here now,
And we've already passed.
We're barely out the door,
And already we're lost.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Gods

     "most beautiful cosmos, heap of sweepings"

Can't control the details.
Can't manage the details.
Details are in control
And do the managing.
They're innumerable,
Everything, everywhere,
Whatever generates
That which regenerates,
Hidden in the background
Of even zero-point
Radiation, waving
And winking at all scales,
The creators of us,
Judges of every plan,
Jurors of our desires,
Parts greater than all sums,
Causes that slip the mesh
Of finest measurements,
Sink through atoms, become
Randomness, and vanish.
Details are the beauty
In places of decay,
The sirens of silence,
The fine-grained calm of pain,
The explanations seen
From out of the corner
Of hindsight's startled eye,
The faeries of the real.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Local Visitation

Right now, this is your afterlife.
Awareness is your ghost, pinned down
To a local habitation,
To a variety of names.

Wasn't it just last night you dreamed
Of falling straight down to your death,
Confronting the final quiet
As if diving into the lake?

Isn't it every night and nap
You vanish away completely
From yourself only to return
Again as slightly someone else?

Aren't you as conscious as any
Standard-order sentient being
And yet as helpless as any
Revenant haunting bare cupboards?

Afterlife is the only life
Any awareness ever knows,
Always a tick behind the real,
The no one who everyone feels.