Sunday, August 31, 2014


Norse runes and Mayan god glyphs
Encoded cycles of thirteen. Our Gregorian
Calendar contains four seasons of thirteen,
Snugly fitting into fifty-two weeks. If

There existed, ever, outside of a word for this
Experience of the intermittent stream
Misunderstood variously by itself
As an awareness, a self, an eye, a thing, and if

That self in its thing caught the faintest whiff
Of a smell, an approximate incense, wood smoke
Incensed with the vaporous appearance of temporizing
Contemporary explanations of existence, and if

That self in its cell decided to call it quits
After being confounded by being transparent
In the equivocal fogs of learning, leaning like
A silvered wood, moss-devoured boathouse in the mist

That falls and falls without falling, finally, down this
Increasingly irrelevant, slippery slope, creaking
And cracking, then gone, into the nonsense
Below the reeking, fishy surface of everything, unmissed,

Uninhabited, an unhouseled house of the margins, and if
The solution to all the dissolute weariness closing in
On the carious shore were to  rebuild the rebuttal,
The doughty redoubt out of fresh cedar sticks and splits,

So that these ever-cloudy hopes were forced to fit
Their clinging selves around precisely arbitrary,
Geometric, tongue-in-groove dimensions
In which that corner matched, tongue-in-cheek, to this

One, a solid seeming structure that willed to list
But will not, will remain symmetrical, purposed
And repurposed, until the end of time or some other
Such fuming fireside dream of an apocalypse, as if

A thing with tilted shapes braced to fit could miss
The irony of an entirely wooden spirituality,
An entirely immortal soul made of mortal matters,
An undesirably self-referential kiss, a velvet fist

Of fingers clutching themselves as they itch
Inside their lathe-and-plaster glove of heaped-up,
Nailed together, glued apart at the seams
Lives before they were them or this was this

Or it was possible, however risible, even to mix
Such metaphors, such a whipped-up contrivance
Of new wood, old words, cheek pecks and pecker-fretted
Doubts about what will hold against gods like this

Thing named for a life, which is as all life is,
One damn continuous rhythm after another, impossible
To contain or constrain by number or name
But weirdly amenable to mixed-up weirdness, like this

Heap of sweepings in the corner of its own dry bliss,
Keeping fifty-two birthdays company under cedar shakes,
Under the dry rot of the eaves, of bending shelves that shall
Compress to shells comprised of calendars, then this.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Waiting for the Clouds to Part

Six shades of silver
On the lake. On again,
Off again. Again, six
Shades of silver, same as
Three times six years ago
In Scotland, the Shetlands.

No one gives a shit, lad,
No one, not even you
Anymore. It's too cold
In those islands of days
Before. Here, it grows hot.
These nights are longer, now,

Although the days are, too.
Eternity awaits
Even the silvered mouse
That snaps the pantry trap
As the human, thinking,
Sips the last light out back.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Barren Cow

One word can mean too many things.
The things a word may mean are words.
Numbers, however abstracted,
Are only more words, words, words, words,

Obsession with counting caught up
Into arithmomania,
The conviction that some names name
Meanings beyond any naming,

The reason why mathematics
And philosophy rub shoulders
More often with divinity
Than with their cousin, poetry.

Words dance a quadrille, complaining
That they are only words, no things.
They dance tarantellas housing
Automata that ignore them.

Pause. The word stark, in English, means
Or has meant, the same thing, complete,
Severe, rigid, a barren cow.
Words can come to terms with monsters.

We give our monsters up to words.
We give up ourselves, the patterns
Of interference shaking out
Between monstrous, monsters, and us.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ever So Slightly Numb

Complacency can't be
Such a terrible thing.
It will kill you, of course,
But so will everything,
Joy, anxiety, trust.
Immortality is

A cloud on a cold spring day
When the days already are
Long enough to be summer,
And eternity sprinkles
Goose flesh promises of death
On the ever-dreaming beast
Then retreats, into the sun.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fantasies Are Organisms

That which hovers, vaguely,
Over the surfaces of the waters
Is troubled by the teeming things

That stir up from beneath to feed
And be fed. They will not
Leave the surfaces alone,

And all the mirrors of reflection
Scatter, miserably broken charms
Which that which thinks can't be.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back at the Lake

At the beginning of June it was
Sunny and the water was clutching
Cold, and I splashed out into it,

Unable to keep myself from thinking
That the water was spectacular
For my usual first short dip in it

But too cold, even a few quick
Strokes from shore, to not want
To turn around inside and flee.

The four locals who fell out
Of a borrowed canoe, I realized
In that instant, had not a chance,

Didn't matter drunk or sober,
Didn't matter life preservers or not:
Once their canoe was over

And they were out there in the deep
Water I love and romanticize always,
They were over, too. So too would

Have been me, have been you.
I warmed off in the sun on the bench
Then got back in, as I have to do.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Watch for Changing Conditions

Evenings at the Greenbriar Inn
In Couer d'Alene, long times ago
When our adventuring was done,

When our dog was none, our daughter
Was one, our musical artist
Of the evening was eighty-some,

I would be your huckleberry,
The sun would be singing love songs,
And you would be mine, gold long time.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Duke of Nevers

Maturity coincides with dissolution.
The great whitewashed concrete M
On the side of Mt. Sentinel rose
Over the rooftops as I walked.

It was not a dream, although
I've dreamed of it often enough.
Dreams are more vivid, less
Memorable. I walked up there, once.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Unusual Bones

Life is one long sortie
In a war where every
Now and then someone
Signs a fresh peace treaty.
I sit in my hotel
Imagining I own

It or something like it,
A bookstore for instance,
Or a pub or cafe,
Or all three things at once
In one, adorable
Cottage beside a stream

That makes cheerful noises
Across the chuckling rocks
Worn slowly within it.
The rocks I love because
They can't contend against
That uncontending stream.

I would call my budding
Dream of a warless self
"The Emancipated
Mole" and sell frothy pints,
Books with uncut pages,
Hot coffee, sandwiches

And sundries by the stream
That customers could hear
From my open windows,
Surcease from love or war,
From complaints of bankers,
From importuning gods.

I have unusual
Bones bending in cages
Around the usual
Heartbeats alarmed by mind
Fluttering like a moth
At assimilation.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Hard to imagine the shield of a goddess
Once consisted of the stretched hide of a goat
And the fearsome apotropaic visage
Of a wild-eyed woman sticking out her tongue,

But the supernatural world evolves along
With the roiling ecosystems of culture,
A game in which the islands and continents
Exist only briefly in comparison

With the archipelago-hopping species.
It's a kind of flying world our brains have made
Possible, filled with impossible beings.
Everything that thrives among us transcends us.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Someone with whiskers lies back
In the front passenger seat
Of a Subaru Outback in evening sun.

Pedestrians stroll past with plastic
Bags and sunglasses on their eyes.
Gossipy conversation fragments

Drift along with the dust and a boy
Sneezes. Not a soul, least of all
The whispered someone blesses

Him. A little wind, a little hymn
To wanton erudition and useless
Drollery: more simply, just a breeze.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Now Departing for White Island

I am not, I believe, the first
Person to doubt my existence.
The glow of the impossible

Moon, the satellite of Earth's moon,
Echoes, a torch inside my eye.
The wounded animal I am

Pretending to interrogate,
And on whose sole behalf
I intend to negotiate

The shoals of alien atolls,
Told me everything. I don't know
How wandering selves, resurgent

After so many nights growing
Nothing more dreadful or thoughtful
Than brittle hair and fingernails,

Can constellate philosophies
Out of varieties of waves
And threaten to beach on far shores,

But I am not the thing that knows.
I am the thing those things that die
Invest with lust for afterlives,

A spokesperson for the creatures.
I am, in their flesh, immortal,
The green-eyed wave in their going,

And, if I am not mistaken,
I am conceived as mistaken,
Ship shaped for one eternity.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Any sunny evening has more than one
Twilight, you know. There's an unnoticed glow
Before sunset, before the better-known,
Stupidly cute, and anachronistic
Gloaming sets in, a somewhat fainter ghost
Of day, mostly shade the thin-edged sun wedged
Here, this slim bit of dim, long and gone thin.

Monday, August 18, 2014

To Be Dead

"[T]o admit that we’ve fallen behind, that we don’t know what anyone is talking about, that we have nothing to say about each passing blip on the screen, is to be dead." ~Karl Taro Greenfeld

On Memorial Day (this was last May),
Cotton of cottonwood trees on the breeze

Clouded the cloudless skies of green Zion.
"Time was, a poet could rely on good

And bad, as perceived by the aggrieved
Hypocrisies of local deities,

For a job. 'Sing, muse, of glorious Zeus,
Hurler of lightning, all-wise and frightening.'

Immortal Zeus is mostly dead, a ghost
Who haunts a dying tradition of lies.

Time was, a poet could rely on lies,
Lines, rhymes, and love of sensational crimes.

The madness stays immortal. The portals
No longer belong to narrative songs,

No longer to throats and ears alone. Boats
Bronzed by gore slip their inky mooring slips

In old divinities' infinitely
Deranged brains to arrive, not quite alive,

Not quite dead, on the far seas of greased screens
With news of new wars, new poets fallen

Behind in the churned mud of phosphor-burned
Anniversaries," Gone Century said.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Beast Fable

The lake only takes what the lake
Already owns. Expect nothing
Else accepted, pollution excepted.

Human behavior and weakness
Are subject to scrutiny by reflection.
The lake is an allegorist, but not

Like other fabulous creatures
A moralist. Surfaces
And depths coalesce, trade places.

It is a mind that remembers what
Its thought forgets. The water
Churns and returns; the clouds

External to the forever of waves
Determine the appearances,
Grim or smiling, fallacious,

And then become internalized
As rain. A performance, utterance,
Washer of great logs and detritus

Down, the rain restores the lake,
Taking snows and ice along,
But while the water comes and goes,

All the logs and detritus, mostly all,
The lake pushes aside to the shore.
That which the lake loves well

The lake holds dear, the memory
Of forgetting things, never recovering
The bodies at the bottom of the mind.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Zero Dynasty

"Jokes are very mysterious."

The solution of an equation,
The fulcrum's balance, was as likely
To be nothing as anything

Else. Else, we would not have
Grown from arithmetic and geometry
To, well, whatever it is we know so

Well. Algebra myself am hell. Leibniz
Might, no, Borges might, nightly,
Have construed some sommelier

Such as could have gladly recanted
A fin du vin such as that. Don't
Misconscrew me, opined Charo,

Quoting Charon, quoting Zeno,
Quoting paradoxical Palermo
Stones, quoting Dynastic Zero.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Should We Believe Him When He Tells Us about Himself and His Family?

That's a Druid question.
He wasn't a shepherd
And the muses never
Kissed him on Helicon
As he, or someone else,
Asserted. Not a chance

Encounter ever missed
An opportunity
Like him. Uncertainty
Had to wait for such time
When sufficient decay
Of evidentiary

Testimony, data
Mining dwarves and fact-based
Arguments had elapsed
Before it could set in
His ways. Hesiod works,
If he works at all, days.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Travel Aide-Memoires

"Ten more minutes of being silly, and then you can go to bed."

Begin with the choice of pronouns.
Evasion won't be of much help.
Even non-narrative lyric,
Composed never to be performed

And written never to be read,
Needs ruminative agency.
The night market in Sarawak
Is friendly and reeking of fish.

The snake in the lake in BC
Sports enormous black and white stripes.
Boat bones on the Skeleton Coast
Bleach beside dead brown hyenas.

The dog in the Nevada snow
Shakes under a bristlecone pine.
The ponies in New Zealand green
Appear bored with glory to me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Alternative? Silence

A baker's dozen hundreds
Sounds good. I am posthumous
Productivity, mad glee
Personified. Been around
Much, anymore? Always more.
The goldfinches, the stray cats,
The motorcycle tourists,

And the wind out of the west
Noisily contest tonight.
Tonight can't be contested.
Everything's already yours.
Be contented. You have won.
I am the boss, says my wife
To our daughter. I have won.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Well Being

Well well well. Here is another
Yesterday. Something new to savor.
All the big ideas have appeared

To arise from little animals
Roughly the same size and shape
As whatever it is I am. Not a thought

To inspire confidence in thought.
Typical insight belongs to typical
Distraught humans. No wonder

People place a premium on people
Who don't behave like people
When uttering pronouncements,

When uttering pronouncements
Is such a human failing. Wisdom is,
Too. Well well well. All is well.

Monday, August 11, 2014


"It would be unimaginably perverse to believe that all numbers are the same." -Robert Kaplan, The Nothing That Is

I am an unimaginably
Perverse believer. Imagine me.
See? Metaphorically, if you see
At all, now, then what you see is me.
All numbers are the same. The counting
Alone is infinite, as is now,
Then, and whatever one thinks will be.
Here are two things, infinite. Here is
One, infinite. Nothing, infinite.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Heterogeneous Series of Independent Acts

I saw it ambling down the road
Toward me, and I was not I
But glad. It could have come on fast.

It could have come so slowly I
Could not have met it at the last.
I was glad, not I but glad, not.

It seemed to know its face,
Seemed to know I knew it studied
Me. I nodded. Off, at the last.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Here We Are

Mortal only to others
And through the loss of others
We never wanted to lose,
We are immortal ourselves,
Unsuspecting otherwise
If we had never known grief.
The maniacal desire

To restore or resurrect
Or render impervious
Forever one's existence
Is not exactly self-love,
Not a wish to be a god,
But the reflexive horror
Of watching love disappear.

Those most obsessed with killing
Likely most fear their own death,
But those most saintly certain
Of their immortality,
Viewed as externally true
And justified by belief,
Have their own pathology,

I guess. We could imagine
A cellular awareness
Identical to the cell
In which it exists confined.
Then fantasies of escape
Would always have to be mad,
And sanity contentment.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lizards Make Me Happy

First, because we have such a lot
Of them around here, bobbing and scurrying
And snapping up biting flies. That's good.
Also, they have bright blotches here and there,
An odd eye for detail that matters to them,
And their skin is dry and pleasant.
As far as I know from my experience,
If you can catch them, you can hold them.
They're good at escape, but locally
They are not poisonous and they slip
Through a child's fingers long before
They bite. They must bite sometimes,
But not that I've ever seen. Everything
Has a bite of some kind. We exist
As we do because we are the products
Of a world of biting, biting wit biting it.
But when I see the lizards running
Up the southern Utah stucco,
Over the local, sun-stunned walls,
I'm happy. God is fond of beetles.
The image of divinity feels entitled
To inordinately love something, too.
There goes one now, ridiculously
Serious little reptile, busy as me,
Ridiculously seriously happy monkey me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Uplifting Sense of the Rightness of Things

We prefer not to surrender per se.
We indulge our little delinquencies.
We understand we cannot be ourselves
Indulged always, although we cannot know
Why not. Learn calm from the indignancies,
Including the sudden tug in the guts,
The mess of inner and outer contests,
The pain. Everything is right or nothing,
And nothing is everything in the end.
We could, if we like, prefer everything.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Of Experiencing Ghosts

Consider deprivation
Of sensory perception
That inverts your hierarchies
Of experiencing ghosts.
You unfold your narratives
Out of a richer darkness
Than my voice against your skin.

Because hallucinations
Spook you, as dreams sometimes do,
With exceptional detail,
You deduce away from truth
And believe your ghosts too real
To be false. Consider loss:
The ghosts are you and the real.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Our Madness of Sleep

Doctors make a joint announcement
Proclaiming we are "arrogant"
About our sleep, risking early death
By not taking rest seriously.

The same day an anthropologist
From Stanford sallies forth to say
That we are not restless enough
Like original human cultures

And worry too much about sleeping
Soundly, thus forgetting our nightly
Quota of soul adventures in dreams.
This is madness, all these voices

From outside our heads, barking
Sleep more, sleep less, deeper,
Lighter, longer, briefer. Go away,
And take my dreams with you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What's Left Me

Among the Greeks, more
Circle than dot, among
Those in India, more
Dot than circle. Now X

Among us, who among
Us now could doubt?
I am that which won't
Recall the dreams I do

Not want from you,
Anthropologist of sleep,
Convinced your own
Perturbations inspire

You to conclude those cultures
Closest to your own contrary
Hopes are wisest and that you
Remember what I forget,

The sunya, the pleroma,
The dot in the dust, the circle,
The embodiment boding more
Dreams, nothing to me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What We Wish Had Happened Becomes Part of What Happened, Too

I write and I hope what I wrote was true.
Was ever anything truly finished?
Behind me the child sleeps through a small dream.

In front of me the snail the small child took
From a dry sleep probes as it turns around
On a pink ball in a blue wading pool.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Some Houses

"Some houses are built on midden and are replaced by midden when abandoned."

I will never abandon you,
My ash-heap of sweepings. You may
Abandon me. I'll never know.

I love you with all the fervor
Of a tenant in a mansion
More ancient than my memory

And falling to pieces daily.
You are me. You are everything
Becoming me, peace, suffering.

Your ancestors revered their own
Ancestors and buried their bones
In the foundations of their homes.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Black Window

You're in my pottery
Section. It's naughty
And alone and usually
Involves objects. It's
The saddest thing
We do. My sauce is
Dripping out the bowl.
If I glue it, it's gone.