Friday, October 31, 2014

Semantic Ghost

Minutes when
Birds and bats
Share the air,

When my hands
Grip the wheel
And I sing,

When the watch
On the stream
Spots the flood

Rising in
A black tongue

Sliding on
The ochre,
Mean the most.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Good Listener

He has remained
Awake in dark
Rooms with women
Crying, cursing,
One at a time:
His relatives,
Growing older,
Forgetful, rank
As the elders
They once cared for;
Wives, friends, lovers
Loathing themselves
Or someone else,
Sometimes, briefly,
Him, his shadow
In their dark rooms,
Keeping his thoughts
Drowned in a well.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mature Poets

There are two kinds of thieves: the kind
I am and the outlaw someone,
Probably divine, would intend

Me to be. When Bob Dylan took
A few phrases from the poet
Of hopeless confederation,

Tuberculosis and visions
Of poesy, Suzanne Vega rose,
Unbidden, in print, to defend

Him, more or less, along with those
Who joined her at the barricades
Whose profession is to profess

That dying, coughing, hopeless art
Called English. Dylan, she noted,
Without considering his name,

Has been a cool songwriter, and
Would probably enjoy being
Called an outlaw, as wouldn't she,

Her quotation of herself next
To vaguely similar Rumi,
Translated, would have us believe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


The messenger waited
For our reply. "A fly

Is in our world because
A fly made other flies,

Made other flies." We lie
Because we need something

Approximately true
To give the messenger

To give the world, and lies
Approximate truth best.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Monologist's Dialogue

The man at the cafe
In an unfamiliar land
He used to know too well

Perches like a walrus
Among songbirds, listening
To beauty and the phrases
He no longer understands.
The window in the air remains
A bit ajar, almost shut.
A balcony on the other side
Of the grey expanse of tar
Water should hold someone
Looking back at him, leaning
On a railing, smoking,
Even if only himself. But no.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


It's the kind of blip I can't resist:
The iPhone mistakenly labels
A track meant for Zen Meditation

Called "Echo of the Sacred"
As "Echo of the Scared." Indeed.
Sometimes a tiny error reminds me

Of what is true about error, deep
Below the broken seas of peace,
The ubiquity, the sacred fear

Of randomness ready to release
Each tranquil moment from pure
Tranquility is the word please.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Busy Intersection in Saint George

Don't name anything yet.
Your emotions don't belong
To you. What look like clouds

Have no discontinuity with blue sky
Or puddled streets after yesterday's
Hard rain. The heat today fades

Into the mind of nineteen thousand
Other days, experienced and forgotten.
Slow down, the edge is near

Even if the end it promises
Is nowhere to be found. Now,
Name anything you want. It's ok.

Friday, October 24, 2014

"The Happy Fungus Hunter"

In the temporal art of words,
They can sometimes refer
To past and future both. I like

The idea that a natural
Historian writing of the current
State of biology in 1892

Thought himself either
Happy hunting fungi or a hunter
Of the happy fungus.

It's a trick of the art of words
To first create and then delimit
Time past and time future,

Then allow us to shuttle
Back and forth on this loom,
Itself itself unweaving forever.

Secrets inhere in here.
The person parsing greater joy
In the fungus or the hunter

Discovers the past, internal,
Happier and external or, out there,
The happy future, self-referential.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Writer Self

Any writer who expects
Audiences with different tastes
From the writer risks contempt
From them or from the writer self.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No Telling

A squeak from the garden, somber,
Pleased. Could be a close relative
Or distal. The heat on the stones

In August turned the green long-ago
Leaves of the fruit and cotton trees
Gold before their time

And will do so long after mine,
Year on year. Like the present,
There is no time before or after

Noon lays her heavy woolen curves,
Sheathed in tightly woven gold
But brittle descriptions, blankets

Faced with the memories I have left
Spread out to break as they dry.
Language aches without her rhymes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oure Hour

Misspell pure. Ignore
Offered corrections.
The sun and the bees
Remain to conspire
Against outer space.

Their spaceship travels
Through interstellar
Clouds of time to bring
Dust so much older
Than these motes of song

Flaked off and falling
As words, broken bones,
And variable
Dreams slowly turning
Hour thoughts into gold,

That the eye of God,
Another mistake,
Can't tell whether
We're meant to measure
Meager time or hymn.

Monday, October 20, 2014

People Wanting the Thing They Can't Quite Have

In a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere,
I stumbled on a mushrooming thunderstorm
And was glad. Tomorrow is payday. The rest
Is silence. No, silence is not. The clouds close,

And the wind picks up around the leaky house
I bought from the bank and the man who built it.
He lives in a schoolhouse, now. The bank sold out
To a bigger bank. All the Nilometers

Employed by the pharaonic priests of Egypt
Only kept priests in business for, at the most,
Their own lives. Happiness must measure what's left.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pivot Bone

Culture continues to remodel
Us, the way we replace natural

With artificial, chainsaw-carved bears
Climbing the posts of motel lobbies

Where once the real bears ate ancestors'
Unlucky cousins. We're so lucky,

We are the remnants of what was once
A world of individuals, closed

Completely to others' perspectives,
No matter how closely related.

We move like ants, fungal-addled ants,
En masse to the twig tips of our world

And raise our heads to sprout fruiting spores
Which, unlike infected ants, we both

Shed and accept, a new solution
For vector-dependent existence,

Cutting out the long, quiescent phase
Of lying low, awaiting new hosts,

At least in most instances. We live
Whole lives of cultural confusion,

Mobile, commingling ecosystems,
Skulls like terraria in contact

With each other, where every species
Invades and competes with invaders.

Herein a newer evolution
Emerges as inexorably

As the old, on the corpses of which
Are built libraries and pyramids.

As vectors, we become more streamlined,
Better at carrying messages

Competing to be carried. Random
Decisions, for instance, better ape

The unpredictable universe,
Making it slightly more guessable,

And therefore we are those animals
Who first cast the pivot bones, burning

Scapulae to read the cracks for ghosts'
And gods' advice on where to hunt next,

Reading entrails, tea leaves, and comets
For the wisdom of a clueless world.

We're getting better. Newer models
Of that which inhabits us predict

Without frequent recourse to agents
Imagined to be somewhat like us.

Culture is becoming itself, not
Needing mimesis to masquerade

As the thought of a god in the skull
Of a bear painted red at the mouth

Of the blackness of a cave system.
More tightly packed, we pivot open.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


"Crossing a threshold guarded by demons"

Independently of us, no,
Our gods and ghosts are never real.
But insofar as we are real,
Insofar as we are, they are.

The ocean is an animal.
The lake is a mind ocean feeds,
A distillation. Nobody
Crosses the lake without a doubt.

I would not like to be pure, but
I'm not convinced every crossing
Improves the hybridized demon.
Some lyricists write for the eye.

The flower of the full moon blooms
Shadowy amalgamations
Of accumulated impacts
As it floats across the water.

Friday, October 17, 2014


"It was common for twenty innocent bystanders to die in an amok."

Common. Can we bear it?
The implication
Of our inclination
To havoc amok?

The lesser angels
Are our nature, nurture,
Trumpets. Music hath charms

That go to war. All drums,
Screamed the Godfather
Of Soul. You are all drums!
The heart beats thunder

Against broken ribs.
The only times we're calm
Are when we're sated,
Or when we're in such pain

We can see the Angel
Whose teeth chew the breath
Turning its back on us,
Or when we surpass

Our death in our rage.
I still believe in calm,
But I'm scared of it.
'Siss im Blud, but no balm.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thirty Two

"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."
—Andre Gide

What have you found, now
I've kept you far from shore
These six or seven years or more?

We've floated north, floated south,
Seen the distal constellations shift,
Seasons reverse, sea in our mouths.

Dream, the mixed forest, gathers
The light of the mountains, a green
Fire you once said you'd rather

Trade for red and open outback.
Every traveler has a right to change
Her mind. I doubt that

You thought you'd find, fishermaid,
Your blue-eyed intensity in the desert
Weird of a small, blonde mermaid.

But I don't know. You are your own
Universe coasting over open worlds.
We sail together and we sail alone.

Night's depths are never ours. Light
Spans the story of her dark; love,
Across oceans, pulls her cross-starred kite.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Every Writer Has a Voice

I don't recognize you.
I don't want to. I want
You to rip me out

Of you. Don't be
Anything recognizably
As it should be. I

Wish I could drive you
Into the woods where
I cease to be.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moth Catcher

It's the Kootenays.
Wear what you want.
Wear nothing out.

"On the count of three,
Everybody yell your name!"
"Ehhhaaaaa!" Crowd sounds like.

Standing in line
At Kaslo Fest, lightning
Popping, cottonwoods

Dropping gobs of cotton
Along with wind blown leaves,
Gentlemen pissing

Into ranks of plastic buckets,
Harpoonist and the Axe
Murderer banging

Out the complaint
"They don't make 'em like
They used to." No, they don't.

Monday, October 13, 2014

And the World Is Full

The lake is neither
Alive nor a thing.
It is the center

Of infinity,
Which has no center
And is nothing but

Center everywhere.
The water enters,
Turns, lifts, and returns.

The lake winks an eye,
Swimmer an iris.
I am a pupil.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


As a pun, invented by serendipity, meaning some kind of play on fake jewelry. That's me. Foolery. A darkly luminous idea.

Somehow, tomorrow, I have to drag this carcass across the surface of the lake.

Howard the bear brought his seventy-five pound saxophone. Oh Death, won't you spare me over to another year?

The shifting continues. I have to be at the marina in an hour, and likely immersed like a true Baptist in two. The lake is a great, cold jewel, darkly luminous, and I am a fool.

Everyone knows I'm going. Nowhere to hide if I drown. I make a play for my soul, tell myself if I cross over I will have the mojo to live.

And here I am. Water fine. Swim went quickly, too quickly. Didn't savor the green gold endless underneath below me long enough. Floating is flying. Crossing over is better than lingering on the shore.

Nightfall and the thunder appears contented to mutter in the mountains  over Valhalla and the glacier, on the other side. I sit on the borrowed porch, listening, pleased with my foolery now. I came here from the thunder side, came here on my own two arms dragging me over the green world. Going back may not now be as frightening to contemplate, I shouldn't wonder.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


When the like strikes me,
I'm hourless. We nip
Potato chips. We
Sip lemon mint tea
In Diana's woods

Where rabbits sometimes
Hide behind humans
When they chase. The flowers,
The bean plants, the sun,
The weird brown lizard

Who haunts Diana's
Studio shadows,
The mountain, the lake,
Beauty "like living
With a grand old friend,"

The rumble and roar
Of the rural road
And forever mowed,
Manicured golf course
Rising from below,

All beg conclusion,
A witticism,
A plot twist, crisp, quick,
Slightly ironic,
Enough time to go.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Loons Calling in the Waves

Once, when I was an undeserving
Professor of Anthropology,
I attended a lecture in which
A physicist who tried to capture
The smallest observable units
Of time discussed ultra-stop motion
Photography, the thinnest slices
Of millionths of millionths of seconds.
Something had just happened, even then.

We say "one thing leads to another"
And mean consequence by a cliche
That should suggest continuity,
As each thing is irretrievably
Linked to every other thing, nothing
Distinct, nothing still and nothing free,
Nothing indivisible, nothing
Timeless in its own space. Like most fish
I did my best to rise to this bait.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Harold III

Two loons passed, calling in the waves.
It was time for me to get out and past
Time for me to get in.

I heard another explanation
In June for the missing name.
Perhaps the plaque in memory
Of Harold from his loving parents
Had not been torn away from the bench
The year before by petty vandalism
But by someone vagrant, desperate
For small change, who ripped away
The cashable piece of copper.

The bench, however, remains. Seven
Summers gone and counting, but who am I
To concern myself with Harold
Or loons on the lake, or anyone,
Or motivations, or whether to get out
Or stay in? Remembering
Is everything. Is everything.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


This language is the only gift
I have ever inherited,
The feudal expanse ancestors
Carved out and fought over, nothing

I earned or created myself.
Outside of these pretty patterns
Arrived as bequests from outside
My flesh, I am not I, just breath.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Odyssean Companion

"At this point he no longer knew what animal he was, dog or frog; perhaps a hairy toad, an amphibious quadruped, a centaur of the seas, a male siren." ~Eco

A man overboard between
Shipwreck and the broken beach
Tries to keep focused on what

Can be seen, what he forgot
Was important once begun.
His shoulders are in the sun,

His legs dangle behind him.
His hands grab the waves. He swims.
All that there is left to think

Is whether and when to sink.
Everything courses around
Mind dreaming only of ground.

All his life on land he slept
Hard, the better to forget
That the sinking comes before

The depths. While we are, there's more
To be. No one can sink first
Before encountering worse.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hunting with Audubon

"[Hummingbirds] are easily caught by pouring sweetened wine into the [chalices] of flowers--they fall intoxicated."

Intimacy must be fatal:
Intimacy with another
Of one's conspecifics, winking
And groaning deliriously,

Intimacy with another
Of the entangled in this world,
Bats fowled in delicate netting,
Insects iridescently pinned.

Intimacy, conspiracy,
Tete-a-tete we bow our dreaming
Worlds alongside one another,
Never knowing if we're living

Together, remote from others
Together in another world,
Separately in one real world,
Or all alone in only one.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Choices We Think That We're Making

I'm sipping organic lager
From a squat brown bottle. I'm back
In the past, last July in fact.

Here are the books I've digitized
To consume from my mobile phone:
Vikings, Species, Happiness, Risk,

Poetry, Poetry, Poesie,
Seneca, the Mary Celeste,
Signals, Wolves, Whores, Don Quixote.

Statistics reveal the hazards
That, if I hazarded a guess,
I've unavoidably taken.

Techno pumps dumbly from magnets
Outside of the sidewalk cafe.
There's a chance I'll live to read this.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Incognitum

Confronted by recent discoveries
One rummages round for analogies.
In an interview about his new movie,

"Lucy," the director Luc Bresson,
Whose films I've never enjoyed,
Avers that cancer is "dying

Of immortality," thinking perhaps
Of those "immortal cells of Henrietta Lack."
Recently, a comparative gene study

Found that the longer-lived species
Have done a more ruthless job
Of editing out the free-riding fragments

Of ancient retroviral infections,
Thus cracking down on a major source
Of rogue carcinoma behavior.

Somehow, we could put these
Little snippets of news back
Together and set them in motion.

Even longevous humans keep
A lot of retroviral DNA heaped
In the cracks of our gimcrack genes,

And nowadays, lack of other
More pressing threats permits
Attacks from awakened engines within.

Pace Bresson, the scuttling crabs of replication
Are not immortal, however. They are
Undead, windup toys with springs

Still coiled, ready to pop up
In the coffins of our genomes
And go on a rampage until indeed dead.

There's a microscopic story in there
For the kind of black-hearted soul
Who mistrusts stories. Come again?

Faith. Have faith. The beasts will win,
The little interregnum of beliefs
Yield to their gnawing with relief.

Friday, October 3, 2014


"Remove the yearning."
Blue haze and crows crowd the lake
Where woods are burning.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Loose Change

In front of me, the gone-away
Parades the pretense known as now.

Now the helicopter shudders
The hazy, hot, blue summer air.

Now the sound of a hammer bangs
From behind green neighborhood scrim.

Now a squirrel barks down by the lake,
A pick-up truck accelerates,

A waterfall on the far side
Hums under the calling of crows.

Now voices from a hiking trail
Float up. The far-away recedes.

It's been a hard day for the heart,
Flushed by lack of sleep, frustration,

Bursts of exercise and complaint,
Love-making, fantasy, despair.

There's bad news in the air. There's war
And the rumors of more out there.

But it's alright now. It's quiet.
The gone-away glows. I don't know.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Non Voyage

"It was as if he had written a poem about a graceful antelope who had the back half of a leopard and the habit of flying over the arctic ice."

Nothing exists. Each moment is
Always the changing of the guard.
Even the past does not exist,
As the past is what is changing,

And what is changing is likely
As not the riddle of the naught,
Change as what was, and nothing
Is on the way. The exact thought

Of being a being is lost
In the identification
Of the infinite and empty
Set as none and the same. Monsters

Of the imagination fly
Over arced, antic ice. We are
The saddle between the leopard
And the last of the antelope.