Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Harold Bench, Too

Someone has torn off the plaque from the bench,
Exposing a dark patch on the bleached wood.

That's all the memorial left Harold,
Whose parents had this bench built, in his name,

At the fish-rich mouth of Silverton Creek
On a rocky beach by the walking path

With a perfect view south across the lake,
Before, someone said, they left town for good.

This is the sixth year I've come to this bench,
Spring, summer, fall, to sun after a swim

Or to sit alone and study the lake
Like a monk or a Romantic poet,

As if I ever had the discipline
And sweet, melancholic trust in Nature

To ever master either profession,
That enlightening, terrifying awe.

I just watch or talk to the passers by,
Who invariably ask if I've swum yet

Or how much, and how cold it was. "Cold, eh?"
They fish, throw sticks to their dogs, fly model planes,

Take their kayaks out, occasionally
Get into the water and swim like me.

"Cold, eh? But invigorating. So clean!"
I agree. One of them tore off the plaque

That declared "In Memory of Harold."
A few years would have done it anyway.

Let's not get too self-righteous or morose.
I never knew Harold. I like this bench.

This is the second poem that I've composed
To praise it while sunning myself on it,

And maybe the hundredth time I've scrambled
The brown-shelled eggs of small ideas while here,

Drying off, shivering, sweating, stalling
As long as I can, hiding out from life

By living under the full, slow movement
Of the shadows around the sundial pines,

By diving under the fast, cold moment
Of a rush from the creek hitting the lake.

It's not Harold that I knew, mourned, and loved.
This bench is Harold and his pilgrimage

From human meaning to human meaning,
To defacement, to weathering, to change.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jhator: Alms for the Birds

We do like to feed each other, don't we?
Toddlers will force feed the doggy, mothers
Will hatch plans to trick food into toddlers,
Fathers will open waistbands and wallets
To pretend a suburban restaurant
Is the setting for personal potlatch,
Roman banquets complete with attendants.
A loner's not a loner invited
To a holiday feast but a witness
To the feast-giving family's honor

And largesse, be the feast teetolaling
Or debauched by beer and bud, strict vegan
Or danced around suckling pigs on spits,
Whether every last centavo be spent
For a once-in-your-life extravagance,
Or whether nightly leftover excess
From the back of baronial kitchens
Furnishes tables of dumpster divers
Who pride themselves on tricky fine dinners
For bourgeois friends impressed and horrified.

The loner's not a loner, invited.
It doesn't matter to us whether food
Used to be something that ate us, the guests
Something we've gulped with relish ourselves in the past,
The vermin under tables, nails, and skin
Revolting parasites to be lured out,
Trapped, snapped, and executed or benign
Aids to digestion toiling deep within
The paradox of omnivorous grace,
Scarecrows without flesh, bodies for the birds.

Monday, July 29, 2013

YHWH = K&S-R/R = Delta Z

Once upon whoever I was at the time,
I sat in this exact car seat in this
Exact car at this exact spot
At this exact time of year in the rain,

Trying, for the life of me, to process
An equation said to encompass all
Processes. Right here, by this road,
This abandoned railhead, this stream

Of relentless recreation while rain
Tried to explain to me on the window
That nothing explained anything,
Nothing was ever the same, ever

The same nothing I was and would
Write about forever because I couldn't
Understand being something that knew
Itself as nothing that knew it wasn't.

The shiny motorcycles rumbling past
Were similar then, not the same.
The blood in my veins, not the same,
My daughter in the back, not at all,

But this thing in my brain, nothing
But something inside my brain,
Feels now how close everything was
To the same, calls it exact, exactly

And rebuilds, once again,
The same impossible equation
The shell game of all shell games,
Covariance, comparison, the Name.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Why the desire to caress the walls
Of stalls and tombstones
And signs sufficient to themselves
With--what the hell best to call it?

Think about it. The enormous effort,
Never accomplished by any genius
Anywhere for hundreds of millennia,
The collective accomplishment

Of an agreed-upon system of signs
For transcribing aspects of speech
Sound for sound, word for word,
So scratched bones, clay, stones,

Could be interpreted as sayable
Things someone once had said,
And then the rarity of it, the magic
Of mastering the difficult trick,

The art of carving time into items
That could convey the illusion
Of eluding time altogether to talk
To other generations entirely,

Who is the imp within the scribe,
The scribe within the ordinary
Child battered into years of practice
Who wants to gouge godawful rhymes

Of little or no charm or hopefulness
And even less originality as stains,
As furious, impotent, heartbreaking
Attempts meant at mockery,

Obscenity, identity, omnipotence
On the bare face of public space?
Why spit in the eye? Why rhyme?
Once in a while among the runes

There's something wise or kind,
A bit of unique autobiography,
A sobbing, scritched out cri-de-couer,
But usually, for centuries, mad stupidity--

Banging body jokes in broken lines,
Boasts about what would shame
The boaster, were he to be caught
Fulfilling his crooked rhymes,

An amazing expense of spirit
And culture hard come-by in a waste
Of outrageous effort, mostly tame,
To set down dreams in doggerel

That appears to want to defile
The emptiness of the world, to layer
The venting of anger, disrespecting
Even worthless mysteries of others,

As Viking crudities chiseled inside
The Neolithic tombs of Scotland,
As cowboys' bullet signatures
Pocking apart old Utah rock art--

I stopped in a forest in Canada
Where the waterfalls fell in a rage
That felt the mountains were prisons
To break, gravity a joy, trees a cage,

And I stepped in a tidy, whitewashed
Outhouse picturesque as a cottage
And found five lines, plus a drawing,
In bad ballpoint, describing--what?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The General's Memoirs

What do you forgive the man
Who has forgotten everything?
Do you let him lie all afternoon
On the tattered green couch

Beside the pile of books, of work,
Of things that should have been undone
Yesterday, when he was still of a mind
To solve things? That's a lot

To ask of yourself in the name
Of what might have been a gift
Of extraordinary life, maybe was
So, but is now a heap of little errors.

If I have to read or hear one more time
About the artist perpetually in debt,
The composer making a shambles
Alongside of all those masterpieces,

If I have to wonder one more time
About the ordinary, vacant souls
My mother tended to in nursing homes
And all the schemes they might have been,

I'll just go back to sleep. How can we
Try so hard to elaborate imaginary
Worlds no mortal animals can live in
Who aren't content to be immortal?

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Hours of Moths and Owls

Sukha: "Papa, you read the book of secrets while I play games, OK?"

My wife has taken my place in the night.
She stays up late with moths and owls,
Building things, battering lit panes, and hunting for the answers

Daylight too easily, glibly, marketably provides.
I have become a night sleeper,
A morning tea-drinker,

A grumpy-then-acquiescing father,
An afternoon napper like my Dad.
I have a daughter. I have a memory

Like an attic filled with decades
Of being up late and among the spiders

Hunting down theories who listened for owls
As the white-footed mice tilted brief ears, young.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Thanks

The cheap, pocket paperback book
He gave me from the creaseless shelves
Of his life's lending library
Was a red-backed Penguin Classsic
In perfect condition, except
For the acidification
Of its twentieth-century
Paper-pulp pages turning beige.

No comments, no dog ears, no stains:
Had he ever read it, he read
With such reverence for the text
As fine, material object,
However cheaply mass-produced,
A Torah could not have complained.
This was no Torah. A novel
From the era of great novels,

It had pretensions to saving
Humans from their humanity,
But did not claim to speak for God
Directly, nor, as was the case
For some contemporary tales,
To be in fact spoken by God.
It was just a story, weary
Of what it felt compelled to tell.

I took it for its size, texture,
And promise of most serious
Appearance whenever spotted
Casually opened in my hand.
The author and title conveyed
Enough seriousness to warn
Even the well-read stranger off.
The volume spoke both thrift and heft.

Also, I had never read it,
Although, as with so many works,
I had heard enough about it
To pretend, with some insouciance,
That both the author and his tale
Were old acquaintances of mine,
Even though it had been a while,
And memory had slightly blurred.

I began to carry it with me,
Partly intending to read it,
Partly intending to have it
At hand when bored enough to read.
Fitfully, one page here or there,
I actually read the damn thing.
It's greasy now, stained, creased, and real.

I don't really care for it now.
I don't like the world it pretends.
I find the tone contemptuous,
Generalizing to a fault,
Mocking what the author missed
While dreaming of a great success.
He got his great success. Censors,
Grudgingly, let him slip through.

Time made a temple of his name
Throughout the land he satirized.
He sold well. He dreamed greater dreams.
He panicked and destroyed the work
He knew was nothing more than this,
The thing he made clever at first
But could not make true to the end.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I love this word. It's fancy,
It's hardly necessary,
It has a plain synonym,
"Scar," in English, but shows up
In literature, web searches,
Libraries, Latin, Spanish,
French, and Italian, a sound

Like a cicada singing,
Ugly and extravagant
And hinting at ugliness,
The coarse red course of the world
Down our backs, out of sight, fierce,
Identifying, swollen,

And signifying either
Illness, war, or suffering
At the whim of punishers.
Better still, its origin's
"Unknown," "uncertain," unproved.
How did the Romans find it?
From the Etruscans? Cretans?

Some other linguistic group
With no representative
Among living languages,
Not Indo-European,
Not even Neolithic?
Was this a word the hunters
And foragers at the end

Of the human invasion
Of the retreating ice sheets
Borrowed from Neanderthals?
I doubt it. But I like it.
It sounds just bizarre enough
To be a scar. I doubt life,
I doubt truth. But I like it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Breathe, the well-lunged like to say.
Breathe deeply. Breathe normally. Count
Your breaths like children counting clouds
Or climbers counting Moki steps.

Feel the way the world's within you,
The way you embody the world.
What could be simpler or richer,
Holier or closer to life

Than the simple act of breathing?
But there's a secret in the breath.
It's the most desperate hunger
We have that we can choose to sate.

The heart is beyond our control,
Or beyond control's illusion.
No human ever ate or drank
Anything continuously,

Certainly not as means to peace,
And food and water anyway
Are more often hard to come by
Than the airs we drag in and out.

But, huge multicellular beasts
And ecosystems that we are,
Lumbering around out of the sea,
Using breath as tool and signal,

We forget all too easily
That this one regularity
Pulling oxygen deep within
Our cellular communities

Is our core currency, first food,
Before water or sugar or fat.
Long before micronutrients
Could run low, our bodies need air

For fuel, for resources, for life
Lived out of the wet, for access
To all the other things we need
And all the things we need to say.

This is not simple, sitting here
Under Corinthian birches,
Beside roaring Enterprise Creek,
Breathing, breathing this sweetness, breeze.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I still try. I haven't given up
Completely on telling a story.
But storytelling now feels too much
Like an article of faith, or worse

A social obligation, a god,
A rule about the legitimate
Use of any sort of way with words
Not already applied to science,

Sermons, law, political speeches,
Publishable essays in prose,
Textbooks, and so forth. Write a novel,
Write a memoir, something nonfiction,

Anything, for heaven's sake, that tells
A good story, something dramatic,
Something with people being people.
Stories are rivers. Your poems are ponds,

Or worse, dry wells dug in scrub forests
Where every twig's a divining rod
And every tugging breeze a liar
Laughing in the leaves above the flowers

Where you dig down in absurdity,
Reaching only into darker soil
The next rains or wildfires pollinate
With fresh wildflowers growing from below.

Art's cavernous underground is carved
By stories that emerge from the sides
Of conversations and comedy
To combine and gather toward the sea.

What's another random spade of dirt
Dug out of this loam of loneliness,
When everything human is rushing
Down braided deltas, down to the shore?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Matthew Konstantinovsky

Nothing particular happened at dinner.
The echoing thrushes sang for their lives.
Someone whose opinion the author valued
Persuaded him to stop offending God.

How much of a tale is true doesn't matter
As long as we persist in telling stories
About which tales are true and which tales are false,
Proclaimed Father Matthew Konstantinovsky,

An uncouth religious fanatic of sorts,
Depending on whose version of the story
One credits. Credit. All culture inheres
In that pure term of Indo-European

Pain and etymology, or, if you like,
Within its old Germanic synonym, trust.
I believe you. I believe in you. I trust
Your story is true, and by virtue of trust,

Credit, belief, honor, cooperation,
I expect you to acknowledge my bared throat.
I listen to you. I lend you my ears. Why
This should constitute a gift is the secret

Behind the meaning of stories as story.
One censor wrote that Gogol was "taking arms
Against immortality." Prophetic ghost,
Gogol proved the censor wrong by dying first.

First, Father Matthew made certain he had burned
All that he had written about the mortgaged
Souls of perished serfs preserved on census rolls
In the crazed hope of saving Mother Russia.

No one saves a metaphor. No metaphor
Imagines its own salvation. This is not
A story. I refuse to write a story.
Stories are dead souls hungry ghosts must mortgage.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thus, Every Being, Compounds Kinds

"The concept of a minimal genome, while provocative, is ultimately a dead end."
It seems that fleas do not have fleas
Ad infinitum, although those
Who tease apart these things are pleased
To have numbered concentric rings

As small and interdependent
As the shells of walled descendants
Of free-living beings hiding
Inside hosts where they make the most

Of their shelter by some service
To their possessor, while possessed
Themselves by more shells of one-celled
Descendants of dead infectors,

Every parasite dividing
The work of parasitizing,
So that hosts in hosts are not dolls
In dolls at all but wholes that crawl

Along the self-defending length
Of sap-nasty, world trees of life,
Cooperatively digesting
What no one-kindly kinds could digest

Without having first ingested
Vermin as pets and familiars
To help, divide, and simplify.
No wild I is I. Bewildered,

The soul, if you will, is a whole
And a nothing between the walls
Of what sustains it, what it was,
And what could never be at all.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Today we have the filling of forms:
Who are you? How do we know you are
You? What do you want from us? How much?
Why should we give anything to you?
What should persuade us? Are you worth it?
The poetry of shared suspicion,
The literature of applying
To applications. Are you worthy?
Look at me, but you cannot see me!

My name is Formless. I have a shape,
But I am not the shape you can see.
I am a past. I'm everything passed.
I am the past that's always changing.
Chase me through the forms I've filled for you.
Chase me through forms you've filled for others.
That's the way the literate do it,
But don't lay it on the bureaucrats.
The stalkers at campfires started it.

There was, somewhere, the original
"Halt! Who goes there?" The first use of words
To demarcate worthy and worthless.
What a notion! Worth! What are you to us?
What are we to ourselves, to the world?
Everything. Not much. Have you ever
Backed an old truck into a ditch,
Ground your way out, and lost a mudguard?
Filed a form? No? Good. That's the password.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Cheerful Art

"The earliest known reference to suicide is a poem, written on papyrus in Egypt 4,000 years ago."

The genre, the lyric,
The inscribed poem is glass
Blown from dunes set on fire,

Twirled in gobs at arm's length
While it's still dangerous,
Clipped, set, allowed to cool

Into proverbs, cliches
About glasses half full,
Half empty, real lyrics,

Baubles whose dependence
On settings, performance
With accompaniment

Among the palaces
Of song, dance, story, scenes,
And so forth conceal them

From their own existence,
Their fragile translucence,
Bent gleams and reflections.

It is not unhappy.
It is not dishonest.
It is a distortion

Of every thought the sands
Will break over, cover,
And scatter back to sleep.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


"Every idealist abuses his nerves, and every sentimentalist brutally abuses them. And in the end, the nerves get even."

And how would we know who we are
Within these swirling vortices
Created by the gravity
Of biological success
Sucking down the cumulative
Pools of cultural histories?
We're in here somewhere, as patterns,
Perhaps, but I suspect there's more.

It's true enough that, in cliches
And prefabricated nonsense,
Comprising most human signage
In all media from rock art
To pillow talk, barfly banter,
Dim celebrity interviews,
The faintest trace of persona
Haunts slight idiosyncrasies,

And that even monumental
Cultural temples of voices
And visions renowned for greatness,
Uniqueness, strange life histories,
Unmistakable elegance
And brutality of showing
Their worlds to the rest of our worlds,
Are recognized by and for shapes

Hidden within the otherwise
Borrowed and inherited ways
That the god, the prophet, the ghost,
The genius commanding language,
The revolutionary sent
To redeem our moribund thoughts,
Our dull, craven acquiescence
To what we were handed said no.

But we feel that we are. We feel
That we are more or other than
Either these feelings of bodies,
Cosmopolises of switches
And genes synchronizing their cells
And the cells of their parasites,
Commensalists, mutualists,
And invisible hangers-on,

Or our monstrous assemblages
Of inward-turning signalings,
The gobbed, colonial bolus
Of culture that rides like a foam
Of concentrated detritus,
Torn boats and homes and plastic ducks,
A kind of mangrove swamp of thoughts
Cut loose and accumulating

More junk, myths, legends, toilet lids,
Prayer flags, mass-manufactured saints,
Heroes from alien planets
First cast loose from someplace destroyed
By the time any flesh wanted,
Without understanding itself,
Return, always circling the waves,
The Flying Dutchmen of our faiths.

And if we are, if we are more,
Caught, but not a part, but apart
From the sticky, springy, spinning
Lines of languages, messages,
Melanges, collages, messes,
Not the sum of interstices,
Not even quite wholly contained
By holy interpretations,

Then what could we possibly be?
We're murdered as we introspect,
We're birthday parties for donkeys
Without tails, as in children's tales,
The doleful imagination
Of "here we are, and there we are."
I can't accept this.  I believe,
Thanks to the crucible of doubt

That can't add, but can get rid of,
Can't transubstantiate the flesh
Or squeeze gold from philosophers,
With or without their worthless stones,
But can absurdly simplify
The tinctured wish of the complex,
That we exist right now, right here,
Even as all else disappears.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Translation of All Prayer

I am not waiting
For any miracle.
I am waiting
For the improbable

The narrowly defined
Extremely improbable
Event that will favor
Me, me, me, spectacularly.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Self Portrait in Shards of Light

The glass tree with glass leaves shed
Leaf glass on the green grass bed.
I picked up one whirligig leaf and said,

"This was lava, basalt pillows, foaming stone
Worn down at last by years alone
Against the rain to sand, to china bone."

The glass tree laughed leaves in breezes
And scattered more broken pieces.
I love whatever breaks however it pleases.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tsuneko Kokubo and the Gold Mountain

The angel's wings are drying on the line.
Her conspecifics rise in ragged files
Of flakes of gold above the summer lake,
But she sleeps in the short grass some fool mowed
And dreams of coming wholly down to earth,
Trivial entertainment for a soul
Composed of costumes, confusion, and truth.

Winds off the lake stir her wings on the line,
Their secret that they know they've been defiled
By flying gold to the sun from the lake.
They're so grateful to be laundered that they glow
With the mystery of clouds brought to earth.
Such wings are things with thoughts, without a soul,
Needing neither any angel nor truth.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Run On

Race to write before the night
That is not the thing without
The sun hogging the sky behind

Clouds or your averted eyelids
(Yes, yours, not mine, I'm not
Blurring any yous for you this time)

And not the metaphorical night
Of ordinary death or division
That is devoutly to be shushed

But the night of naught, the night
Of forgetting the details that made
You think you were a thing aware

And not the mere awareness
Of the thing as it breathed and ate
The air too thin for descendants

Of the blood of the oceans,
That night, that unpunctuated
Ungrammatical night of stars

So exquisite forever in every
Direction that gods never find
To hide their shine in, that, that,

The night of being your own
Light in an infinite whirl
Of what is not you and not.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Island of the Alive

I'm actually not
An especially
Morbid sort of guy.
I'm a wanderer,
Yes, but just because

I'm so well aware
How short my legs are,
How tightly the Earth
Spins on its hot core.
So many constraints

Whisper a secret
Silent as the sound
Of the Earth turning
Underneath clutched feet:.
I can tell you what,

And outlast the truth
By a little bit,
By the promise length
That you won't believe
A word I'm riddling:

If any surprise
Is found in my rounds,
That miracle's real.
We have so little
Space in our mousetraps,

So little real faith
In our cellular
Selves built of more cells,
We feel there's no time.
We panic. We flail.

But the littleness
Of our snug orbits
Holds newness in it,
Always holds newness,
Always remains strange.

That strangeness is change,
That change is our beast
We call the devil
Who is all mercy.
There's nowhere to go.

The universe wheels
Like a donkey cart
Through the dark and straw
Stars darkness squatted.
But somehow, by day,

By night, by seasons
Even ants can count
Out of drudgery,
By waves wearing shore,
It's all, always . . . new.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Do persons, people
Of my acquaintance

Who will nearly weep
For the faint nuance

Contained in the phrase
"I wrote poetry

In my younger days,
Long before thirty,

Before I knew much
About what I liked,"

Refuse such and such
Verse, such and such type?

Everyone of us
Has to learn sometime

Every word's too much,
Every swerve and rhyme,

Every return dark
As lunar eclipse

Once we have embarked
From the blank boat slip

Where the trout that lisps
Silver whisperings,

The doubt that hisses
Waves of mysteries,

The old poetic,
Lyric lies that lie,

Rise up, weird, hectic
And demand we die,

That God is our loss,
Loss our forgiveness,

Poems are the cost
Of lost resistance.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

And Not to Yield

He did leave, after all
That. He left again, and
No one's seen him since,
Although, by now, everyone

Has a pretty good story.
Frankly, that's the best way
To lie: go away. Let the rest
Make up shit about you,

About what you're up to
Now, why you left, where
You went, whether and when
You're coming back. He isn't.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just to Be Clear

I wrote this squib for my friend Randy,
Who wrote a letter to my daughter
When she was born, one tiny otter
Clutching life as she floated. Sandhi,

From the Sanskrit, "placing together."
That's the trick I'm attempting tonight.
Randy prefers poems that make sense. Right
You are. I prefer stormy weather,

In principle, but I love the sun
On my human face like commonsense
Fixed in place, like a rhyme. No nonsense,
No rain, no fear, no sheer winds to stun

My shivering as I leave the lake.
That's how I think of your love of poems
Kind enough to sit still. The mind roams.
Only one thing's forever at stake:

Do you prefer your mysteries solved?
Or do you prefer their mystery?
Tonight's stars on the dark lake resolve
As blurred waves. All light is history.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fireside Astronomy, Slocan, BC, 2013 (Gregorian)

May I please return to an old theme
That I've beaten half to death by now?
Thank you. You're too kind.  You're just that dream
Of forgiveness never found, somehow.

The fire in the grate and the child spun
Out of sheer and irrelevant gold
Are metaphors our sun had begun
When it first determined to grow old.

It will grow old, the sun, to be sure,
Of human metaphors. It wasn't
Ever actually young. The far shore,
Time done, buries done suns by dozens.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Trying Crutchman

"He steers himself away from what is haunted."

He can't. He's the haunting, himself.
Every pitch, tar, and caulk line seems
As if it might still leak meaning
In the next random storm. He can't
Sleep. No common sense beads on him.
He's immune to condensation.
Under the moons that follow him
He composes hymns to the fog.

It summarizes wandering.
He can see that he can't see things,
That things can't see him, that the light
That sometimes outlines distinct truths
As if they were clear entities
Bright and apart from each other
Sometimes turns in all directions
At once, more brightly to obscure.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Uses of Imagination

"Everything is much simpler
In a hospital, including
The jokes," Hemingway once wrote
From limited experience.

He was busier boxing,
Boozing, and making common cause
With bullfighters, fishermen,
And six-toed kittens in the Keys.

So I've read. But of all that,
The snows of Kilimanjaro,
The hills like white elephants,
Moveable feasts of friends and wives,

I like his hospital best.
Write what you know, read what you know
Better, complain whoever
Knows you best knows you not at all.

Nothing is simpler inside
The sorts of places where one lives
With imprisoning routines
That force thoughts into other thoughts.

The celebrated tellers
Of stories benefit from lack
Of imagination. Poems
Suffer mad creativity

That keeps them in hospitals,
Prisons, and office cubicles.
Humorless often as not.
But free to terrify blank hours.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Who Could Know What This Means?

I'm tired. Not unhappy,
Not mad, not pessimistic,
Just that little bit worn out
By the world of my unique,
Peculiar apperception.
You have your own, bad or good,
Joyous or disconcerting.

Tonight, I threw out three mice
Broken in neck or forelimb,
Dead or struggling to get free.
They have a hole down below
In the pantry down corner
Where they come to feed and die.
God, forgive me all my traps.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


"I'm not sure I even know grief, or the anguish of it."

Other bodies than this one
To which I am ineluctably apprenticed
Have suffered horrors I can't
Begin to empathize with properly.

That said, I, awareness coasting
On the storm of miserable physicality,
Have to admit that I don't know
What suffering is, actually.

I hurt. I have hurt a great deal
More. I have been stunned
And stunted by my own
Insensitivity to the hurt of others.

I believe this, religiously, no irony
For once intended: we cannot
Begin to comprehend, despite art,
Despite language, what it means

To be, truncatedly, a human being
Who is not another of the same.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Justices Struggle to Opine

"When asleep, no one reasons,
Remembers or understands."
The mountains were cloud drowsing
Over Valhalla's ice fields.
A glacier over plain stone
Has both its own atmosphere
And its own wisdom, transient.

Is the Earth responsible
For her creatures and their storms?
Can one species take the blame
For the last interglacial
To vanish into fresh floods?
Common law obtains here now.
A dream crime earns no hard time.

The mountains, the ones not torn
Apart for tunnels or mines,
Might not care about our laws,
Our intentions, our effects
On the weather that slowly
Wear them down. Plate tectonics
Made them. Beauty unmakes them.

Beauty unmakes every one
Of us, from the hummingbirds
Feeding at artificial
Cane-sugar plastic flowers
In the fogs to the renters,
The humans, word-feeders,
Watching sleep's etchings erode.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chain of Longing

"He is no fugitive--escaped, escaping."

He's the weakest link in the chain
Of longing. He's happy today.
He's surrounded by the gentle
Observation of familiars.

What wondrous new thing could be done
Hardly troubles him anymore.
He could repeat a few card tricks
With his chamois-soft pocket deck.

He could settle in the chaise lounge
On the covered porch and scribble
A little, peruse a little,
Congratulate himself on not

Caring or complaining about
The bustling busyness of ants
That march alongside and chide him.
Laziness and calm are heavens

That the chain of seekers covet
And, by coveting, must forfeit.
The unscrolling of the soft work
Trailing words is clouds' play today.

Monday, July 1, 2013

June Twenty Thirteen, Kamloops, British Columbia

It's July now, but still
I think back (surprising,
I know, yes, that I should

Be able, after all,
To think from where I am
To where the rest of you

Rest so restlessly now,
But there you have it). What
Has been lost to living

Cannot be regained
On departing. You get
What you get, and that's all

That you get. If enough,
Then you're blessed. The curved moon
Shone over hotel rooms,

And the world, the poor world,
Was grateful for having
Moons, rooms, world. Don't worry.