Sunday, November 30, 2014

Circular Insanity

It's eight o'clock.
I need to pick out my clothes.
Tomorrow is another (you're
Only, you're always a) day
Away. We pay the bills
Our younger selves
Accrued, as our elder
Selves somewhere cackle
At the thought of running
Out on us and our recurrent debts.
For this, we seek, who are
Not capitally enriched,
Nor foully bewitched by indifference,
Some employment.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Like Yesterday

It buckles my admittedly
Many times broken, buckled knees--

Not that a million years ago
These sandstones sank in lava flows--

No. I embrace the vertigo
Victorians invented so

Many gone hopes ago. The stun
That comes from my casual sun

This spinning, earthen year is this:
The last of the packed black lava

I can see spilling down the red
Iron-oxidized slopes in place

A hundred million years or more
Before it tumbled to them, blood

Of magma, fire of forgetting
The myth that Earth was made for life,

The last, most recently cooled stone
Pillow ink was no less ancient

Than twenty-seven thousand years
BP. It looks like yesterday.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Embrace the probable your world
Keeps telling you, that you will not
Live as long as, right now, you would

Like to, that you will suffer more
Than you have as yet before you die.
Find peace with this, not for yourself,

Since for yourself it doesn't matter:
Your self will likely suffer anyway;
Enlightenment isn't yours to take.

Embrace the probable for those
Who will remain, those like you,
But who will contemplate you,

If they contemplate you at all,
As you never will be able to, one
Life, whole, a biography outleant.

Remember how, when you were
Young, you would admire a life
Of creation and accomplishment,

Only to find yourself feeling badly
When you read about that life's end
In cruelty, abandonment, poverty?

Make peace with these rules again
So that those who encounter you
After you've left may feel better than

You yourself felt then. Set them free
From feeling badly for themselves.
Let them know you knew. They can, too.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Great Gift

Last summer we rented a shack in the woods.
Robins bounced in the grass, shat on porch railings,
And nested under the eaves. Every morning
We pulled the tattered bedroom window curtain
And watched them feed their chicks while we discussed them,
Griped about a poor night's sleep, and planned the day,
Which never tired of refusing all our plans.
One dawn I read Sarah an opinion piece
About the most peculiar partisanship
Of wildlife web-cams, those monotonous feeds
Of creatures getting on with human-free things.

The grist of the piece was a fine incident
In which a broken-winged eaglet enlisted
The mad sympathy of thousands of viewers
Who refused to leave "Nongame Wildlife Service"
Alone until they had broken the bent rule
Of nonengagement to kill the broken thing
Humanely. What exercised the irony
Of the editorialist was the rich
Contrast to this sympathy for the eagle,
The mother of which had fed it ripped pigeons,
Their own unlaid eggs spilled with their viscera.

A few mornings later a cherubic squirrel
Scampered up the porch post to snatch baby birds.
Sarah drove him off on the robins' behalf,
And we savored the irony of falling
Victims to our own bewildered sympathies.
A day later still, while we were well away,
The squirrel returned and succeeded. Our mornings
In the shack in the deep woods seemed poorer then.
The robins moved on, and, after awhile, we
Moved on, too. The world remains full of robins.
The murderous squirrel we never saw again.

This afternoon, a thousand miles and some months
Away from there, lying on my back staring
At an indifferent ceiling, what comes to me
Is another bit of trivia from that
Opinion piece. The truly impressive thing
About wildlife web-cams is not what gets caught
Wildly happening, but mostly what is not
Happening in the forever recording
Of things, mostly animals doing nothing.
This, it suddenly seems to me, is the gift
Of direct cinema: the Earth is boring.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

These Poems from Time, the Impartial Deity

God is that from which can't be
Stolen, that which can't be offended,
Giver, always giving, change,

The unfathomable tunesmith of nothing,
Liberally bestowing grace notes
Of delight and disappointment.

The gutter projecting over the lawn
From a roof that had no gutter drips
Away from the house, digging a new

Trench where we did not want
Erosion. A bird erodes under
The window against the reflection

Of which, full of sky, it died.
Laughter belongs to the nearby
Restaurant where the sodden

Climbers come to wet their beaks.
Waterfalls festoon the peaks
Waterfalls carve away. You see

What this means? No want
Matters as much as too much.
Change partners when we dance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Seventeen Hymns

I am late. No one
Is early. The heat
Breaks the tent
And the dry leaves

Fall. I am that
Which has fallen. I
Am that which falls.
Counting keeps me

Company on long
Journeys, such as life,
Which is not long, which is
Eternal: I am not. I am.

Monday, November 24, 2014


1. Red Desert Sod Black Rock Road

Here, forty-degree
And higher temperatures
Are routine

Until autumn, and yet
Few nights breathe during
Which water, conceivably

Could not freeze. This
Is the landscape of true,
Revealed religion. Seethe,

The dust and your gods
Whom you believe, inscrutably,
Breeze beyond me.
2. Devices

I flatter the natural world.
I am an irrigation canal

A mule-pulled water wheel,
An Archimedean screw,

A backyard sprinkler system
Fueled by monsoons in the desert.

I am mud. I am dry. I am
A surveillance photograph

From a chopper, from a drone
Kicking up dust. Beautify. Desertify

The hanging gardens of Balkh,
Of never, said Ezra, in Babylon.

We're so righteous the sparrows
Keep their bathing eyes on us.

3. Zion

No, not that one.
This one. Right mind
And wrong mind

Said Zarathustra, who
Knew. Pastoral or
Pastoralist, who knew?

The longhorns graze the green sod
In their paddock, far, far
From origins, so close to home.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Of Perfect Fungibility

Wallace Stevens wrote money
Is a kind of poetry. The US
Supreme Court ruled money

Is a kind of free speech. Isn't it
The whole point of money, the dream
Of perfect fungibility, one thing

Translating everything, everything
Exchangeable in an ideal world
Of discrete and equal units,

Like voters, like dollars, like
Typewriter keys composing
Infinite patterns of words?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Is Not Being

Why do we not spend more time in contemplation
Of why what tempts us most to guilt and regret--
Food, drink, talk, sex, nakedness, gratification,
Defecation, gossip, dreams, ornamentation--
Are all essential to the human condition?
We are ashamed of being animals, we are
Ashamed of being human, we are so ashamed
Of being. Our hungers and humiliations
Are one. In our devotions we seek salvation,
Enlightenment, reconciliation with what
We are not and cannot be, what is not being.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Humans are the way nature tortures
Herself. Nature is the way Earth uses.
The moon has barely any uses
And is far from being
The only moon. Apollo

Astronauts, named for the sun
God of a recent pastoral tribe
Of a recent species, recently
Scratched an itch left over
From when something without artifice

Knocked two careening rocks
Sideways as they spun around
A trivial example of a sun.
Thinking about such things is the way
Flesh formed from clay tortures herself.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

To Read

Imagine a world where everyone's one
Of the best. You would not get bored,
Only turn each page in eagerness.

One writes with charm
And an ironic twist
About his dog. Another writes

About an argument she has
With her husband about
An argument they observe

Between lovers. Another complains
About the distrust of men,
Which he pretends is distrust

Of desire. Another imitates
Greeks as Chinese, punctuation
Excepted, hymning her strange towns.

Another sits in his cinderblock cell
Of an office, yearning toward
A blue sky he has turned away from

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Exceedingly Machined

Old time, I'm told, is still
Flying. Gather the light
On the Watchman. Gather

The shadows on water.
There's no dust fine as air
Despite dust in the air.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Few words
In English,
It seems to seethe,
Murmur as aptly
As the commoner's term
For the common, dragonfly,
The same. It whizzes by all those
Who cannot hear its wings, who break
Down in dry heaves and drier tears
Here by the monsoonal stream
The dry wash has to dream.
Smaller than it was,
Still your terror,
Jeweled life

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Poor Creatures of Abandoned Belief"

The cloud on the horizon
May or may not be. Rising
Winds may. Darling buds may not.
Gods and goddesses can't. Don't
Tempt me with trick enjambments.
I am not the way. Way past
Waywayanda, silly lake

Near nothing much, New Jersey,
A boy on crutches, father
In a wheelchair, grandfather
In a boat for fishing dreamed
Of something much murkier,
Scarier than the waters
Dark, the godless wilderness.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Grand Owl Habitat

The Virgin bookstore shadow box,
Joseph Cornell in one corner,
Seems always open as I pass
And always closed up when I stop.

Every carefully arranged display
Of taxidermied ephemera I love,
So long as I can call it someone
Else's art. Else, I'm wary. I'm afraid

Of the miniature asiatic lion
Tucked inside the owl's claw,
Of the tiny, elaborated angel pinned
Behind him, no shoulder to cry on.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

To Illogical Conclusion

"A signal from our body (sic)
Can change the very thoughts
We think." Oh pronouns,

I don't mean to mock you,
And I don't need to play games,
But you do. The very thoughts of you

Are both forever we and forever me.
It's sick. The signal never comes
From one, communal body,

Although every multicellular
Body is as much communal as one.
There is no we that isn't me,

No me that isn't we. You,
On the other hand, I can't
Compel or speak for. Signals

Followed my bliss. You'll see.
I'll raise you, then. We're tangled
In skeins of curse-slicked grammar.

"Where's the pony in my horseshit?"
Asked Al Pacino, interviewed.
I'm sorry, famous Al, but there isn't.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mind Swakopmund Salon

Everything is getting lost. Everything
Is. Kim Crumbo has disavowed being
Hayduke. Hal Cannon has just queried him
About the corridors, the rewilding
Of the cowboys' lonely minds. I've a mind
Full of the fogs I saw fill Swakopmund
When our silly tourist propeller plane
Needed to find a place to land after
Buzzing the diamond mines, the Skeleton
Coast, the red ochre rock art in the dunes.
Rhyme something, goddammit, rhyme anything.
Niles has admitted to being a boy
Genius in love with geodesic domes.
When you are dead, who will introduce you?
Who can open one's mouth, once forgotten?
The black dog named Blue waps tail: Moddey Doo.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Twenty Minutes for Nonsense, a Benison

People can always be made
By other people like them

To confess themselves freely
In twenty minutes or less.

We savor, Orwellian
Each one, this hypocrisy,

This glibness, this daft, dab hand
At cruelty among us.

We ask, for too high a price
(Because we ourselves pay it),

An innocence premium.
Enough with the innocence.

Enough, I guess, with the rest.
We build our markets of bones

Upon the middens of wolves,
Of gods, of angels, ourselves.

What is most amazing, crazed
As may be, in the deep end

Of the shallow pool of "Man,"
Is that we have some presence

Within our nonsense, the gift
For nonsense, a benison.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The little cherubs are charming
With reddened lips and white faces,
Pretending to grown-up darkness
In their batwing-black leather wings.

What have poor bats to do with them,
These primitives of lymphocytes
In the blood stream of culture, these
Baby angels? Their innocence

Is their greed. Bats' innocence is
Irrelevant as bats' greed. Here
The flocks of the cancerous young,
Singing their divine hosannas,

Rise up into the baleful sky,
The bird's egg blue of their blandly
Faberge god. "We will replace
Anyone who questions our faith."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

At this Point Fragmentation Ensues

I only exist in your world.
I call revenge silhouette. Your move.
Babies are having babies
As babies have always had

Babies, sooner or later, sketchy
Or later again. They remain
Primitive angels. You only exist
As them, my fictitious resistance.

Last try. This unjust world is just
A cave of shadows. You and I
Are not beings chained inside.
We're the shadows, entertaining.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Long-Term Memory

Through Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
Enabled us all to indulge
In the fantasy of attending
Our own funerals in time
For fine tears and eulogies. What
He did not treat us to was what
Disappointment it would be to return,
Not for the momentary encomia, hosannas,
But for the long amnesias,
The obliterating hungers for their own hosannas
Among all the long, distal
Tom Sawyers to come.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Brown Study

A glow. Green and a breeze.
The decisions of just now
Taking precedent over dreams

Decided long ago. Language
Old-fashioned, sturdy, pious
About the upstarts in the tall grass.

Lichen on the sharp rock
Here under the dusty cottonwood
As there under the mossy oak.

If you can add this riddle
To the others in your store
And sell them, tell me more.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


He made it through life
Poor man, without any
Mistakes, poor soul, and died

With all his wits about him,
Poor man, with no one
Left alive, poor soul, to see.

I placed him in the ground,
Poor man, and planted
All my mistakes, poor soul, above.

I brought tour busses full myself,
Poor man, to see the flowering
Cenotaph, poor souls like me,

Who believed ourselves indebted
To him, poor man, who taught us
How to vanish, poor soul, sans anything

Like a substantive regret. His bones
Poor man, evaporated in his ashes
But his shape, poor soul, remains,

A testimony to the grace of vanishing
Away from a guilt-obsessed species, poor men,
Toward pure soul, blameless, in the end.

Friday, November 7, 2014

They're Totally Different

A roly-poly, a pill bug,
Looking like any of its kind
Meanders through dry pine needles

In the corner of the garden
I have borrowed from a few banks.
Pill bugs have more independence,

Are more individual than
I, any human, can pretend.
A tiny child called my daughter

Applies sand as pretend makeup
With which to rouge my wooly cheeks.
Cute, eh? Small lives like mine sometimes

Tend to look that way. "We should get
A scrabble table to keep right here,"
Says the child's mother. Looks that w

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Too Light Verse

1. Greenhouse

Animals love animals. Animals
Love food. Plants and whatnot
Ought not to feel smug about this.
As far as animals know, plants

And whatnot ought not to feel
At all. Animals feel. Feelings
Were made for animals by animals
Before them. Alright then.

2. With the Moon?

The moon and the phone
Glow white tonight. One took

No mind at all. One took
Quite a few billion. Why

Does one mind feel so shy,
So awry, for not being satisfied

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

In the Timing

And that, I should think, is enough
Of all that for just now. It's late
Already and I said I would

Be home early. No one ever
Is home early, early enough
For everyone. We're always late

Either for our others we share
Our domesticated lives with
Or for ourselves, wanting to be

Back in time to have enough time
To catch our others with others
Or embrace our others for hours

Or savor the nonexistence
Of any others, of ourselves.
And that, I should think, is enough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Unimpressed by the Trees

The ape congratulates himself
And hugs his inadequate arms
Around his cotton-swaddled ribs.

Oh but the clouds are thundersome
And handsome, their high whites seeded
By bacterial lives aloft.

There is music somewhere, somewhere
There is science, darkness and light,
Somewhere are hearts breaking the night.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Death of Angels

They're only potentially immortal.
They have no wings. They're neither black nor white.
They don't fall. They do stand in the roadway
And glow slightly, if the day's dark enough,
Brightly if it's night and there are no lights.
They don't actually carry messages.
They are carriers of another sort,
And once one has seen you, it infects you,
And you hallucinate amazing things
And wake up convinced that you're a prophet
Ready to carry the divine message
Conveyed from the mouth of your bright angel,
Whose name and purpose you're convinced you know.
You may start a religion. You may fail.
Either way, you're relatively harmless,
Your madness only a human madness
Other humans adopt or not, killing
You or your followers, or getting killed
By your followers as numbers dictate,
As humans have done and had done to them
For thousands of years. The angel escapes,
The defense mechanism effective
Once again. Because there's so few of them,
We really know nearly nothing of them
Beyond their effects on those who've seen them
And whose accounts cannot quite be trusted.
Nowadays, they're as likely to be called
Aliens as angels, but origins
In interplanetary fantasies
Likely do little more to explain them
Than origins in bright divinity.
We hardly know what they are, but we can,
And we can even, with some luck, kill them,
Although no one's ever dissected one,
Since they implode to ashes at their death,
And no one's yet observed their behavior
Beyond encountering their defenses,
Which no one can witness without visions
And subsequent sense of self-importance
As a chosen individual, blind
To all real memory, beyond that first glimpse
Of the human-like thing called an angel.
But I have. I have stood aside and seen
Without having been seen, without blinders,
Without visions, without false messages.
I'm here to tell you we can study them.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Love holds us, which is
The way we have of saying
How hard we hold each other

In this tiny space called time,
The hairpin curve, the exact
Goodbye that Einstein

Could never see, never
Forgive. What I'm gonna do,
The toddler asks as answer.

This is how it's gonna go.
Dinner after the nap that never
Happens. I don't need my sleep.

I'm tying your shoelace. I
Don't need sleep. I'm not
Gonna miss anything. Me,

I'm gonna hold fast. Don't worry,
I'm not untying. I'm bored.
You have to be just like that.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


A camouflage cap
Crossed the view
Before anyone,
Including the wearer,
Her brown hair back
In a bun, thought
To capture the moment,
Give it the gift of glass,
And let it be bought.