Wednesday, April 30, 2014


We haven't, either one of us,
Ever reached quite this far before.
We hadn't failed. We just hadn't
Had each other, all hands on deck.

Now we do. Who knows what we'll do?
There's a secret word kept hidden
Behind the words everyone knows.
Your name to me. My name to you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Horoscope for Eighteen January, Twenty Fourteen

I have moments when I feel I can't survive
The fierce pleasure of being alive. Nor will I.
That's when life arrives peppered with being
Alive. Peppered steak, pepperjack cheese, peppery
Cabernet. Life is a cabaret old chum! Come
Taste the way plays play! You listen and say
What is it? I will say the rain. No mill necessary
To grind here. The flavor's mad sufficient
Unto the hour. My wife, my spouse, makes me
A being for whom life's worth living, a writer
For whom life's worth writing, a stuttering
Dream, a rain-soaked mystery in red rock desert.

Monday, April 28, 2014

V Is for Victory

The problem with heaven is there's never
Any better way to travel. In fact,
One must take account not only of vexed
Numbers of spots revealed by tumbling dice,

But also of the particular dice
On which those spots appear. "Particular,"
There's a word confuses the world, troubles
The otherwise immaterial waves,

Whose violet and indigo luster fades,
Upon measurement, into vees of geese,
Flotillas of scintillating breezes,
Each one highly particular and, and,

Dammit, endlessly indivisible!
We envy aviators' delusions.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fluffy Puhsketti for Tiny Tess the Plastic Deer

I'll take all the time I need. I'm free
When I know I'm free. Any other
Definition of freedom seals me

In a need to do well urgently.
Urgency is the builder of walls
The Lord of the House of Dust, false friend

To any lover or brother caught
In the net of lordly urgency.
I'm free because I happen to be.

My daughter, feeling a bit left out
By Papa loving Mama, Mama
Loving Papa in morning sunlight,

Entertains herself with a toy deer
At the massive stone dining table,
Feeding it a large bowl of necklace.

In time, her characterization
Of the deer as Tess, messy eater
Of the giant sparkling bowl of food

Cooked by imagination's author,
Metaphor, and envisioned as loops
Of fluffy spaghetti noodles, yum,

Is sufficient to distract Sukha
From the anxiety created
By parents doting on each other

But not on her. And then, suddenly,
So no one, least of all she, can see,
She feels light and free, and she is free.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Press him to deal with his humanity,
How we coerce each other to compel
The flesh to keep breathing a few more years,
For which success we claim we saved a life.
He is cynical and he is aloof,
And he believes attitude insulates
Him from the normal humiliation
Of humble animal behaviors shared
With all the dullest humans ever were.
He must confront his commonness squarely.

Oh damn! Damn him! Damn us! Oh he's lost it again.
What was that memory, that memory
He had of him apart from us, apart
From the etymology of dado,
Much ado about die? You wouldn't think
A word could be so evasive for so long.
If you're going to get mad, maybe we
Should reconsider admitting members
To the new dictionary who are not
Pure of descent, pure of heart and argot.

Friday, April 25, 2014

An Ordeal of Change

Any other kind? I suppose
An ordeal of slow change
Might seem like an ordeal
Of no change, but no. No

No-change ordeals occur.
To occur is, well, you know.
But I'm not sure we're dreaming
The same kind of ordeal.

There's an unsealed half-tar,
Half-gravel road looping away
In front of me as I wince
Through this latest ordeal

Of fifty years and change.
It looks like a long line
Of power lines viewed by a bird
On the wires, but it's grounded

In sandy loess and snow blown
Over black basalt and freckled
With the usual true juniper trees.
This is Utah, after all. Change. Heh.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Flowers of Zion

"The world a hunting is"

From such heights as Kevin Young would know,
I watch the desert spring gather force.
What pressure the liquid world's under.
What happened to the wind with that name
Young Zapruder couldn't remember?
Katabatic? Skeletal? Pleasant?
Never mind. The time is never time
In the minds of sage philosophers,
New age gurus and cosmologists.

You don't go in for guru-ing if,
Like a squirrel, you pick fruits in the green
Garden of earthly delights, nearly dead
All the time. Man down. Man going on.
One giant leap for mankind. Antsy
As jam sandwiches at a picnic,
We writhe. The moon will not be our moon
Until the poets have been allowed
To wander seas of tranquility

And produce names no astronomer
Would have found suitably celestial.
Then, at long last, we will have something
New to forgive and apostrophize:
The virtues, their images destroyed.
Helene Johnson, where her gnarled tree stood,
Welcomed the wet, weeds, and wildflowers,
And why not, while the earth remained warm,
The soil still vowing its eager vows?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

End Note

"... but once he does, something inside him never stops trembling."

Where will the beginning go when we end?
We wonder at each other as police
Wonder at the delusions of killers,
Killers at those of police, scientists
At everyone's except the lamplit drunk's,
Looking for his wallet. Makes sense to them.
They live for the transformation, the heap
Of indistinguishable ashes. No,
I live for it. Let's be candid, so long
As we're lying to each other, hoping

To race the rest to immortality
And be the one, true winner. What a loss!
To have won such loneliness as God would
Tremble at, like the mouse discovering
He has worked his way into the one true trap,
The one in which no one else like You lives,
No one like You even exists, nor has
Ever existed, in the lonely way
You do, have done, and will forever do.
Who will creation love beyond that end?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I want ten minutes alone
With this beer and this moon.
There's only one apocalypse
And it's one's own. Ownership,

The myth of belonging
Made perfectly circular,
As in any perfectly real myth.
I own this moment. I own

This moon, the fat oblong white
With the sun, with the dark
Rump backed into blue night.
I own me. I own this poem.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Story Sundered

"'Perfectly serendipitous' said the boy."

Three does, three pair, no four, four pair
Four pair of mule deer ears, no, more,
Silhouetted, alert, bounding
Through barren, harmless underbrush,
A wind lifting human voices
From the stamped trail to camouflage
Born of tens of millions of years
Evading apex predators,

Incapable of counting these
Obnoxious, boot-stamping, blowing
Nonsense exemplars of the kind
As one, just one, the only one
Left. There was a grammar to this,
A kind of extra-narrative
Significance to narration
Once. No longer. Deer watch the trail.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Meme, the Same

By walls of rock-like Babylon
That chariots can run upon,
Above Red Lodge, between Cuba
And Sun Valley, I found my son,

Odd little scrap of fictive text,
One borrowed word waiting the next
And hanging in the unrhymed wind,
Lisping, "Papa Culture, I'm vexed.

I thought I lived inside a world,
A thing for whom all flags kept furled,
But there's nothing in it for us
Is there, no place for our words whirled?"

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I love Americans. They love life's lease
On lots and lots of stuff. How a vortex
Operates (life's pump; see above) to keep
All kinds of detritus close for a while
Without swallowing all of it down.

This is art. Tucked in every half-dead town
We find the long, mitochondrial lines
Of locked, identical storage units
With brightly colored, roll-top doors, waiting,
Holding everything neither now nor gone.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Drunkard's Run

Un (Crawdad Creek)

Back at the August campsite,
Following January,
After flash floods and snowstorms
Had transformed the dusty scene
In ways even weary eyes
Couldn't fail to see, someone
Wants to believe this place is

Real, the events transient
That bent its reality,
The bodies that revisit,
Real, and the same as themselves
When they were here, although changed
Since the hot nights when lightning
Dashed the stars and threatened rain.

The sonnet should have finished
Then, or a long time ago,
But everything continues.
The gypsy pavilion's gone,
The homelessness is over,
Like all homelessness, at best,
For now. The low water's cold.

Do (Winter's Over, Days Will Linger)

Living is not a life
However locked to one body
Awareness might feel

Not even only the sum
Total of countable lives
Digging into that body

Interacting with that body
Poured into the gone
Generations making it go

Living is the sensation
Of being a living container
For wherever dreaming goes

Twa (Right Name, Wrong Number)

Forgive me my unenlightenment,
But surely "awakening" is not
The metaphor for enlightenment
Best suited to an insomniac.
Calm thyself, sleepless man. You do dream.
In fact all that awareness ever
Does is surface and submerge in dreams,
Different dream rules for different dream kinds,
None of a kind you can control.

A truck rumbles by on the outside
Road past your sunlit inner bedroom.
Early this morning, your daughter
Woke in the dark demanding you come
To her bedside to hear all her dreams.
They were astonishingly more detailed
In recollection than yours have been
For as long as you've been forgetting.
The light in this water makes these waves.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Non Finito

"Loosening of surface," the fall
Away from completion and from
The desire to fully finish
Is the forgiveness at the end.

"Faciebat." Mark that I was
Doing this, not that I was done.
I had a something once, would be
About ten now, at least in me.

The incompletion is itself
The gift from the artist to now,
Winking half-light of the godwit
Traveling forever, there, here.

The blocking out of perfection
Imperfectly smoothed, kissed, and done
Is the only imperfection
I've ever wooed and never won.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time for Me to Glow

Bright spire, dark spire,
The wards of LaVerkin, Utah
Take turns catching
The white light of the morning sun.
It catches me
With a warm hello at my ear,
A corner flash
At my eye as I wheel downward

Into shadows
Created by advancing light,
Valley of grace,
The miracle of lingering.

Lunch in the car,
Love on the radio, quiet
In the humming
Change, uncontrollably set free.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In Memoriam Amiri Baraka

At eighteen, disabled, I played
The pathetic drunk in "Dutchman"
For a dull student production
Reverentially radical
Already then, before Reagan
Took the White House and AIDS destroyed
A generation of gay men
LeRoi Jones had no kind words for,

But I dropped out of everything,
The play, the university,
Dreams of acting regularly,
Any ambitions I had then,
Except for sawing and sawing
Away at lyric poetry,
A weakness I shared with LeRoi,
Who seemed to think a drunken man

Stupefied on a subway train
Worth clubbing back down to the floor.
Whatever the metaphor was
That he intended, an earnest,
Handicapped white boy it wasn't.
My peers staged the show without me.
We all write, who write at all, wrongs
We never intended to right.

Monday, April 14, 2014

An Extensive Family

I've loved bright sun on homely surfaces
Since almost before I knew what it was,
Guiltless illumination of design.
Here the fragmentary flakes and dust motes
Lit up like pyrite or actual gold
Across the lovely pale sea-foam colored
Flatlands of polycarbonate tables
In a hick town fast-food chain restaurant
In the depths of desultory winter
Glow to show how fire can kiss mind. Cousin!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The New Parliament

"[I]n an instant Death jumped out of the cart."

"We spend our entire lives thinking about death. Without that project to divert us, I expect we would all be dreadfully bored."

"Thank you, my sock puppets; I’ll be curious to see who I am when you’re done."

Death has a page on Wikipedia
And plenty of sock-puppets of his own.
At last count, forty-five participants
Were busy working on the Death Project,
Putting up articles on coffin birth,
The medieval popes' Cadaver Synod,
Carbon monoxide poisoning, and Hel.
Even the "anniversaries of Death"
Has a section to itself. Paradox
And oxymoron run amok with this,

Obviously, from the observation
That dying stemmed first from speciation
Down to the anthropomorphic skeletons
Grinning, dancing, and gesticulating.
Poor Death, who lives defined as what he's not.
All the masked actors in the cart of dreams
Rehearse their lurid, parliamentary
Parts, but the robed, disintegrating pope
Is necessarily always absent.
Psst! Paradox exists because I don't.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


"In the early 1970s Cheever began to be plagued by spells of what he described as otherness. . . . These episodes had two components: olfactory, auditory or visual hallucinations and a simultaneous sort of brain freeze that left him unable to access words and names."

As far as I am
Able to ascertain
Under the weight
Of such a weighty
Quotation in prose,

I still maintain
Neither my mother nor
My mother's mother,
Evangelical, holy
Teetotalers both

Of them, ever had a reason
To complain of delirium
Tremens nor even
The buzz from one drink,
But they both died

In some delirious
Or at least deleterious
Fog of hegemonic
Amnesia, gabbling,
Gap-grinned, sweet, stinking,

Although they lived, both
Of them, fifteen years
Of breathing beyond
The swimming Cheever.
Can't say I blame him.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Best Astrologer Is the Devil

Sinister, the sun sinks, and to my right
A pine tree lights in anticipation
Of night. Poor, bent, beautiful, giant tree,
It is as out of place in this desert
As the city fathers who planted it,
As the cemeteries and golf courses
Surrounding it, as the snow white temple
Painted and plastered onto the red rocks,
As me. There was a Spanish novelist
At the parliament of carts. This one time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Correlative Forgiveness of Dreams

Permit me to enumerate
The remaining chains that bind me:
Logic, causes, consequences
When nothing links to anything
And everything circles nothing.
Under each tongue of dream a key.
Eliminate these and breathe free,
Not by effort, effortlessly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Charm of that Cool Air"

What is the wisp of difference
Between the liver-spotted soul
Still writing daily before death
From a life of medication

And the adorable young man
About to die on his crutches
For the sake of a well-known secret
Shared by both of them? A fiction

Holds self-destruction can succeed.
It can't. If it could, every dream
Would have sent every dreamer
Sweetly to deep oblivion.

We have, who have nothing, such things
In common that our sins must seem
The same to every righteousness.
We protest when we surrender.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Translators Have Done Their Best

What can I say? Ekphrasis
After the Presocratics
Rarely worked except
When stealing a peek or two
At the original work.
Gone are the pyrotechnics
Describing the mythical

Weapons and wonders. The world
Has to contain the paintings
Description seeks to beggar.
I could create a picture
Of what never was only
By including everything.
Exactly. What never was.

Monday, April 7, 2014

When Other Work Fails You

Here's a little box with your name on it.
It was presented to your life at birth.

Birth is a scary transition from one
(One container of two brains) to one more,

More gradual than the screaming habit
Habituates us to think. Here we are,

Are we not? Write on the walls of your box,
Boxed in as you are, I am that which writes,

Writes and wrote what others could never speak,
Spoke what storytellers could never tell,

Told what prophets promised not to reveal,
Revealed what's true. Nothing's everything here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

But We Need to Forget

Sukha says. Sukha says
A lot of things, now that
Sukha's three. I obey.

Sukha's painting water
Colors at the dining
Table. The motion of

Her brush suggests, counter
To thought's best behest, be
Your best, yourself. Forget.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Heart to the Plaza Hotel

A mercy and a miracle are one
And the same. Low sun over the shoulder,
Illuminating incapacity,
Lets a body know both necessary.
In a short story it's harder to say
Why "to provide" has to rhyme with "to hide,"
While characters and plots detail wry clues.

What will have become of us by the time
Our tale appears to wag our dogged lives?
Spring will festoon the Northern Hemisphere.
Taxes will be coming due in the States.
Heat will be blossoming in the desert.
But what will have become of us, writing
Our way out and about the Town of Dust?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley

The last day last year
A little buzz on
Tourists everywhere
Sent a lovelorn note
To impossible

Invisible selves
Of the future lost
In contemplation
Of the past notebook
Turned up in the car

Were we wittier
Then? Did we exist
Making wry comments
That made us feel wise
When we wrote them down?

Enough revision
And speculation
Occurred when the past
Presented itself
As a world en pointe

Asking you and you
What have you done since
You thought you would be
Better than you are
When you know you are?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

This Poem

"Which recounts what will soon be seen."

A fine web ghosts
Me as I bend
Down to retrieve
A dropped object.

Ugh. What was I
Trying to find?
I've lost my mind.
I rub my eye

Where the cobweb,
Too fine to see,
Itches again.
There. Gone. No. Close.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Continue Without Loyalty

What sweet cynical monkeys we are,
And we know it. We love each other

So easily and with such fervor.
We fully exploit each other's love.

The person pumping self-serve tankfuls
Of unleaded gas feels a slight tug

On the emotions when the machine
Offers a stark, silent choice between

"Use my Maverick loyalty card"
Or "Continue without loyalty."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That Moment

"If these chivalric ideas did not carry with them all my thoughts, there would be nothing I should not make and no curiosity my hands would not create, especially cages and toothpicks."

I can pick apart a house
As well as I build a cage.
When there's little to disturb
The thoughts from homing on home,
The mind returns. We don't go
Swooping lightly to darkness.
We have our hesitations.

The copper steeple gone green
In the snow and the rain, hope
Sifting through hope's ashed remains,
Silly externalities,
Sillier abstractions dust
Our outlines so we can see
Our true selves loved like our dreams.