Thursday, July 31, 2014

Letters from an Empty Cell

Other people's disapproval,
The care we love to disavow,
Is all that motivates our selves
To behave as if behavior

Ever mattered. I don't believe
I've ever met a devotee
Of a faux-disinterested faith,
Of whatever earnest intent,

However hard-earned, who didn't
Covet one or someone's divine
Intervention for inventions
Of moral conventions. Not me.

Oh heavens, not me. In the caves
Of Nasik, the symbol of ten
Of the monks was written weirdly,
As if to suggest that nothing

Existed in the abacus
Of the divine, of the no self,
Of the simplest arithmetic.
I wonder what my fellow monks

Would say about my heresy
If they discovered I'm averse
To revelations? Mercy me.
I'd better begin to behave.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Sky Becomes the Same as What Is Added to It

Clouds count themselves
Lucky to be
Seen by my eyes
And distinguished

From blue zero.
The red dirt sulks.
No replacements

Found, propounds truth
As what may not
Or may be real,
Or, in the end,

Real and unreal,
Past description.
Past description
The catalogued

Clouds disappear
Into their blue
I am not eyes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Table 2: Alternative Measures of the Risk of Dying

He stored up glory for himself.
He surrendered to destiny.
Contrary to the true spirit
Of the simplest signaling game

Nature flips a fair coin to choose,
He kept sneaking peeks at the source.
He did not stick to whole numbers.
He said the odds are one to one.

He settled in his easy chair.
He noticed the first flakes of snow.
He saw the infamous ghost ship
And asked for an explanation.

Monday, July 28, 2014

You're Still Not Home Yet

I bet you got that Peter Piper
From your Dad. Yogurt yoga
In the yurt. If you put it
To a pattern, it's a thousand

Times easier. Goethe's Gouda.
Facetious sweater. Moki hour
In the house on Winderland
Lane. Real Winder's, said Wayne.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

There's Not Enough Philosophers to Go Around

Gods and nonsense come in threes:
Blah, blah, blah, the Trinity.
Monsters have three heads, like me:
One for hunger, one for love,
One for pain. Below, above
Hint we're in the middle of
A closed, tripartite shell game.

We're not, although it's a shame
That what's easy for our brains
Vanishes on inspection.
We snap back from correction,
Redirect our attention,
And find fresh mythologies
In games, etymologies,

Glorious doxologies
To our own ideas spinning
Brain to brain, within the thing
That dreams only beginning,
Middle, end, again. What's right
Feels wrong. Afraid of real night,
We enumerate our frights.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


If there is a world
And that world, outside
Me, means anything,
Then I mean nothing
To the world outside

And, conversely, I,
Who mean naught outside
Me, think, perversely,
The world outside me
Means nothing to me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

For Everything That Mattered

Sometimes I am amazed
We know what kindness is
Given the cruelty we inflict
On each other, the cruelty

Lives inflict on lives, the green
World on all living. Mostly
The green world's wet and sweet
But the wormwood's in it

And in us, and if we drink
Too much, even the sugars
Give us nightmares, shadowy
Cruelty being to solid kindness

What a fetch met at twilight
Is to the unfortunate soul perceiving
The terrible resemblance. You know
You look like the end of me.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Black Cygnets

Anticipating any
Highly unlikely event
Is terribly unlikely
To prevent unreadiness.
Unlikely happy events
Only make us more reckless
Because we get too giddy;

Unlikely unhappy ones
Only make us more reckless
Because we get too distressed.
In the event, most events
Never happen anyway,
And the few that do always
Catch us napping, once again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Prostrate Iconoclast's Image

We love what we want to believe
And one of the things we want
To believe is that we are indeed
Loving the right: divine, just, joy,

Lust. The body on the bed, the icon
Returning love from the camera
Mirror, the careful consideration
Of artistic temperament and media,

These things, these sorts of things
We want to believe. We love pattern,
As we know behavior is the world
By which our beliefs are selected.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Void a la Void

In now here's middle, learn
To trust the traitors against
Whatever burly nation state
Of mind threatens your heart

Healthy awareness of being
Something mysteriously unlike
Your self, "a trolley for bacteria"
Who outnumber the selves

You shed indifferently. Magic is
The explanation we invoke
To square our social human
Explanations of the inhuman

We inhume in our own skins.
I am happy for reasons that defy
Me. I float, the conjury of cells
And cultures, vaporous, over me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"So Much Luckier Than Some I See That Will Never Walk Or Have Their Sight And Will Have To Hide Themselves Away From The World"

And what if one were to want
Very much and for no good reason
To hide away from the world?

Not a saint, not an abomination,
Not a proper, natural hermit,
Not a victim of war or the law

On the lam from a true or false
Conviction, but one of conviction,
A believer in the truth of the hidden,

Such as might find equal comfort
In the corner of a country
Library or a quiet secret thought

About why the world one is
Is not one with what is one.
That sort of thing. Excuse me,

I have to vanish shortly
And I don't want to seem
As if I meant anything by this.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Depth, Firmament, the Endless, Joyously

Thunderous names and gentle,
As all names are, little breaths
Barely, precisely controlled

By the last magpie primate;
I love you, the universe
Of you glimpsed within the you

Universally of me.
Can either one of we none
Of us truly calculate

The syntax of all deceit?
I am a small man counting
Small grains of sand, joyously.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Pursuivants

We are the official heraldic authority.
We have no coats of our own. We

Have no arms. Zero results
From unimaginable agon of thoughts

Over centuries as counted by lives
Of those who invented "century."

We're cold. We shiver. Summer
Is delicious in our knightly

Orisons. Happiness. If you know,
You know you know. Rejoice.

Every tomorrow that you fought
For only arrived as yesterday

Today. This very day. This very
Past day that is already then, today.

I am whatever I was, and that
Includes what I might have known

About knights of yore, you, you
And everyone else. Makes me smile.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Dirt

So much sameness in so much
Edgeless alteration, be it blue or grey
Sky or the red and black mud

Of the day. Who in the world
Wonders that so often background
Can credibly be completed, time

And again, by repeating a patch
Without variation? Trick of the brain
Or trick of lazy creation? A serious

Boy works a toy shovel on a slope
Of finely crumbled lava and sands,
Scrutinizing one long glassy hour.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Am Happy for Now

Not for a moment, for now
Is no moment, is inifinitesimal
Past any series of diminishing
Fractions along an infinite line

Of temporarily temporal certainties.
I am happy for the infinite
Next to zero, the companion
Of the divine and the immortal,

The demon at the ends of the cross,
At the end of every crossroads
Crisis, the sweet delight that is
Not nothing but what nothing

Means when it laughs mischievously
Into its empty sleeve. Nature,
That old joker, mated forever
To that other Joker, is so pleased.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Diabologian

I am a pretty good poem
Badly translated from the Polish
Original, so badly I am

Better than the original.
Don't you dare laugh at me.
I know how evil your maker

Made you. That's my trade,
And I am nothing if not
A day trader. You send me

Home sated. Darling, you
Have no idea what I mean
If you know what's good for you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

He Opened His Mouth in a Great, Glad Laugh

God can only truly be great for those
Who, devoutly, love their devils, too.
The dust rolls the lightweight sprites
Merrily across the Kolob Terrace.

Every person is a market trader
Where egos are concerned. Belief
In one's own image comes easily,
And even the hardest fall rarely

Convinces anyone that the persona
Was only a random bit of luck
In the beginning. God, how
Hard it must have been to accept

That the person who named things
So glibly could have been taken in
By one of the minor deities named.
But once accepted, oh the laughing!

Tumbleweeds, joyously, still lift
Their skirts and dance across
The grass where serpents breed.
The personaless person is free.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Some Things Will Never Be Known

“'It’s a dark forest,' she said of the masked men in one interview with a Russian television station. 'I don’t know who they are, or what they are.' Soon afterward, she vanished."

Kha. Ambara. Akasha. Sunya.
No atmosphere on the moon,
Space empty of life, watching life.

I am happy to know I am not.
Esse in intellectu solo. I am
At ease with the monstrosity

That fascinates me. I am not
Comfortable with the deceit
That monstrosity is ordinary,

Even ethical, indignant, esse
In res. No. The reason the moon
And the deep, dark woods

Go together in our minds
Remains a flicker of panic.
One is baleful, beautiful,

The other filled with grotesques
Who would happily eat little
Monkeys like us. We know.

But I know, too, the moon
And the forest of creaking
Branches it peeks at me through

Are not, of themselves, the things
That make such magic nervousness,
Just the bodily inheritance

Convenient to the need thereof.
We, I, you, they also, sense the truth
Means, wide-eyed, to disappear.

God bless the woods, the moon.
God bless me. The shapes of love
Carve a part from fine, terrible dark.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Of Even This Decision

I will joy in my despair.
I will celebrate the dark
Taste of utter helplessness,
Knowing that it is the way
Of all things to be helpless.
Even the agents of power
All surrender, however

Unwillingly, to unknown
And unknowable nothing
And are unwoven in time
As time, from nothing, wove them.
I will make my peace with peace
And joy in the unweaving
Of every last decision.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Requin Requiem

Poems like dreams "say their say
In series, and only
Rarely is a single
Dream revelatory."
When one is, it's too good
And rips through mind's seine,

Leaving a hole the rest
All spill through like herrings
Small enough to escape
Now the great weight is gone.
A poet stands on deck
In the oil and tangle

Mourning leviathan
For all the harvest lost
Trying to catch that one
Or cackling ruefully
In that way loss does when
The monster is not done.

Friday, July 11, 2014

We Ask You to Be the Ghost

I'm reading about immortality
Because I'm curious about subjects
That can never have been experienced
By any available expert. Death,
Divinity, superhuman powers,
Immortality by definition
Are outside of the experience
Of all living, mortal, human authors.
It's not a question of whether such things
Could possibly exist. Some do; some don't.
Death, however beyond living knowledge,
Appears to be the only certainty.
The rest are fantasies of fighting death.
Loss, that would be the window we see through
When we come to the wall that is the end.
It's why we hand the calligraphy brush
To the zen monk on his death bed. It's why
The Victorians collected last words.
Toe-knuckle cracking, table-top rapping
Ouija board charlatans aside, we know
No thick descriptions over the transom
Will be tossed to us from the other side.
We wait breathlessly by the near breathless,
Knowing the certainty of looming loss,
And try to glean that last glimpse from the edge
Of the light that goes through the looking glass.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Beauty of Gehenna

"I was probably the most entranced listener to a sermon . . . about Gehenna, the hateful valley outside the walls of Jerusalem, where outcasts lived, and where their flickering fires, seen from the city walls, may have given rise to the idea of a hell of perpetual burning." -Robertson Davies, Fifth Business

"The valley of Ben-hinnom . . . on the south side of Mount Zion, a place which was notorious from the time of Ahaz as the seat of the worship of Moloch . . . is supposed there, of whom nothing further is known." -Wikipedia, entry for "Gehenna"

South of Zion, Saint George wages
His interminable battle
Against the fiery red dragon
That goes now by name of Dixie.

How much can you trust a Moloch
Known primarily from the faith
That praised its founding Abraham
For being so faithful to God

He was willing to kill his son?
Only the choice of divine name
Differs between the approving
Lord accepting the sacrifice

And approving God declining.
Let them all go, "the mythical
Elements that seem to me to
Underlie our apparently

Ordinary lives." The dragon
Lives to fight baited-fish-hook saints
For one more nightmare. Fires with fire
Ornament dark nights of our souls.

Could it be our eyes are clouded
By the swirling and stinging fumes
Of hearths we lit to clarify
Our position under their stars?

Every myth deludes us, even
Those we still refuse to believe
Are myths because we cannot see
Any narrative must be one.

Look around you. The hills you see
Are only higher or lower
Than those around Jerusalem.
Beauty is a valley of flames.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


One night you wake up to realize
You're a hobbyist. Doesn't matter
What the hobby happens to be,

Whether model trains or online
Avatar games, whether Frank Sinatra
Vinyl or plastic poodle dogs,

Whether reading novels or
Composing poems. You dreamed
You could be happy, one day, doing

Something for an honest living
Until this night you wake up
Dreaming you. You always knew.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Oh God, Our Bodies

The scrawny, tall speaker gesturing
And grimacing in his flimsy suit
And the short woman barely
Contained at the hips by her silk
Conference-couture dress, remind
Me of something of mine. I glance
Down at my crooked legs
That terminate in dusty black
Orthopedic boots. I'm next.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Want Decisions to Count, Right?

The declarative playwright
Sips his tea at the cafe
Of the street of real people.
There has got to be a right
To scrutinize looking-glass
Egos until they marble
Under the gaze. I'm alright.

Intense afternoon daylight
Bleaches even the shadows
Under the cafe awning
Where people in shades make light
Of their own seriousness.
Could they believe what they love?
Sorrows leach out of delights

Until everything shines white
Around his cup of green tea
At his black table, his ink
Fading from his not-quite sight
Even as day bends his night.
His pulse tightens. He's frightened.
"I'm alright," writes the playwright.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Sleepless Philosopher's Dream

It's a gift you could send yourself,
A reminder of the sunrise
Through the kitchen window

In spring, after the coughing night
Your daughter spent crying in bed
Because her cold kept her awake

And therefore kept you awake, too.
It's a poem and none too fancy,
Just another lined reminder,

Like the furrows in your forehead,
That you are true experience
Of a myriad myriad

Things happening beyond control,
From your daughter's fit of coughing
To the pale green tint of sunrise.

Any brain carries the desire
To divine causation. Only
Minds must worship implication.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Aldebaran and the Moon at Sunset

Stargazing note for today:
April fourth is on my mind,
The light from that date reaching
My eyes in ninety-one days.
We've six years together
Of various April fourths,
Beginning when I joined you

For Big Rock Candy Mountain,
Utah, a real unreal place,
Driving gingerly, one foot
Weak, the other leg broken,
The perfect time for romance.
("Hezekiah reminded
God, a canny bid to save

His bacon, it was only
The living, the living who
Could sing His praises.") Two years
Later, same date, we found out
That we two would swell the ranks
Of the living. Three years more,
We carted our daughter here,

The very mouth of Zion,
Determined now we would stay.
A year on, under Watchman
We praised choice: So far, so good.
Who knows what's next as life flies.
God is fond of expanding
Universes and beetles,

Otherwise inscrutable.
Aldebaran and the moon
Glowed on the toothed horizon
At sunset over Zion.
I forgot five years ago,
Neither married nor parents,
In the wee hours of Cape Town,

The lovely, desirable
Dead end of early humans
Fond of the bounteous sea,
Quarreled over ever since,
We touched down, met our driver,
Meandered through orange lights,
And came to rest a moment

In our peregrination
Around the navigable
World, the blue dot in darkness,
The darkness outside our lives.
There was a house on a hill,
Manse converted to cater
To tourists from everywhere.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Absolute Is Becoming

Experience and the inferences
Drawn from experience contradict
Each other. No element

Of experience is other than
Experiencing, but merely waking
Suggests a gap in experience

That experience cannot contain.
The urge to make myriad decisions
Contradicts the evidence that none

Of those decisions are made by
Deciding them or by feeling the need
To decide, nor by deliberation

As experienced, and few decisions
Matter more to experience
Than do all the events surrounding

Them, over which experience suggests
And also feels, in accord on this point
At least, no deciding power exists.

By late afternoon, one surprise
Is therefore the misleading consequence
(Misleading in the way that all things

Mislead, being inconsequential)
That defiance of the morning
And all the decisions made therein

Produced better-seeming events
Than the imagination now projects
Would have been the case

Had the decisions been held to
Firmly, better than the imagination
Then projected would be the case

Had the decisions been ignored,
As they were, now and then
As such being ineluctable delusions,

Arbitrary and yet truly ineluctable,
Like the craving for decisions.
Snow on the mountains melts

Regardless, before sight, or (go ahead,
Say it, it feels so good to say it,
So bold and queasy) irregardless.

Paths that promise immortality
Converge on the following phrases,
Sometimes mistakenly believed

To be opposite, even twinned
With the absolute as with infinity:
Zero is ineffable; nothing

Is colloquial, as well as an indefinite
Pronoun; the number that is not
Number is capable of infinite damage.

Neither now will ever be
Finished, experienced. Neither nor
Will experience ever be. Finished

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Growth Is Only Division in Every Cell

"They grow up fast, don't they?"
Seems to be the wisdom
Of parenting closest
To performing the role
That "Hot enough for you?"
Plays for weather lore.

No, they don't. We age fast,
Especially parents
Already absurdly
Old, as I am. I watch
You, and what I mark most
Is the way you divide

My attention in halves,
One half of which marvels
At you, daughter of mine,
Delicate miracle
Of youth like none before,
Translucently tender,

The other half of which
Is foolishly amazed
That you are a human,
Ornery and unique
Already, the latest
Instance in my long line

Of roommates since childhood,
Each with a persona
Unique and ornery,
Pitched to match my own
Problematic nature,
Prone to split attention

Between boyish delight
And churlish selfishness,
Patience and self-pity,
Me myself my own best
Argument. I didn't
Grow fast. But I love you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Inclination

Because it is fragile, value
What is sweet in this world you are,
This world you have no control of
Even though all the world is you.

Because you are fragile, savor
Whatever joy of movement comes
To you, whatever sense rewards
Whatever swift moment of you.

Because we are fragile, let us
Rejoice despite fragility,
Irreducible and plural
Singularity in the sun

Because we are, you are, it is,
However it is, however
It lies, plays, leaps up and gambols,
Because we incline to delight.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Red Conservancy

"Tonight was dead calm.
From the bitch light by
The bedside window
Rose an even flame."
We know what we don't.

I saw a darkness
Crossing the road
And stopped my car, hard.
News knows the story.

Everything's sliding.
Nothing ever holds.
That's why I believe
In nothing and hope
Someday it takes me.

Red Conservancy
Perches on grey hills
Going green, coyly,
Over eponymous,
Devastated rocks.

Somewhere there is mud
Let loose by thick rain
And ready to fall.
Here we will wait, safe
In our ignorance.