Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Otherworldly

Man, it tastes good, down there at the bottom.
The later verses turn their audience
Into exegetes, into exegete.
"You get the feeling Beethoven believed
He was writing a market-pleasing thing
Then found the project growing more tangled.
Or perhaps he meant all along to veer,"
Wrote a magazine critic. "What I shit
Is better than anything you've ever
Thought," the self-same critic quotes Beethoven,

As evidence "Beethoven himself took
Some pride in the work." He couldn't hear it.
He can't hear it still. But the last verses,
So desperate and so close to the brink
Foolishly they endeavored to describe,
Are done. The sun slips away from the stones
As they, ineluctably, slip away
From their temporary lord and master,
The self-same sun that never heard music,
Not even the dreamy music of spheres.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Darkest Parts of the Forest

Shallow, tatty carpet that I like
To imagine impossibly deep
As a moss-carpeted well of green
Stone through which I fall to the other

Face of the always night-facing world,
The unlicensed poetry of life.
Sentence structure decays in the roots.
Is the fear of this local darkness,

Living only in the outside mind
Of mythology, green hell, black woods,
Frost giants, stone trolls, golden-eyed cats.
I believe in every lunatic

Cackle I hear coming toward me
And receding without touching me.
Where no witch, no cottage, no fairy,
The bones of Hansel and Gretel lie.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Freeze Beer

You may know the canard
About the universe
Being perfectly bent,
Which is also known as
"Anthropic Principle."
Where else, divine sophists

And sophistic divines
Like to ask, could we find
A world with properties
Like those found in water,
So perfectly suited
For life as we know it?

Like we know it. I froze
Beer once, decades ago,
Leaving it overnight
Outside a motel room
In Chipmunk, Idaho
So that it would keep cold.

That night, power lines froze,
And I woke up toasty
Thanks only to the wood
Stove I overloaded
To dangerous fury
Against worlds made for ice.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Asag Restored to the Mountains, After a Passing Storm

"We don't know anything! Awareness! Aaaaagggh!" -Sarah's summary of these poems

The mountains that you have handed
Over shall not be restored. Oh,
But they shall. Their triumph's assured.
The mountains belong to themselves

When their stones are no longer mined,
Their armies of plants victorious,
The me of civilization
Vanquished, just a matter of time,

As if time gave birth to litters
Of matters, and this was but one
Of them, which in a sense holds true.
Now what? An aetiology:

The study of causes equals
The myth of origins, equals
Every story, every me we
Made about experience, in

English, a self referring to
Itself, in Sumerian a
Chunk of culture, one of our gifts,
Civilization, or curses,

The same thing. The lights of cities
No longer gleam in the distance.
"We live in a world where humans
Are in the minority," said

Jay Varma in New York City
When its human population
Had never been higher, a place
For the rats humans made easy,

For viruses rats made easy,
For all the things content to live
Among the classifications
Of stones by human languages,

Attributed to divine lords
Of thunder who broke the mountains
And brought the rebellion of plants
To newly cultivated knees.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Sleep for beer and fight for scotch,
Then joke away the gin because
The common meter's lost its touch
And the good lord dislikes hymns.

Friday, December 26, 2014

"Because You Are a Wolf"

God loves an allegory
The way any father loves
The child most resembling him;
That's it. That's it? There's nothing
Wiser than that you can say
As an English professor
Long retired? It's Boxing Day.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Where Are They Now the Sins of Omission"

He's forgotten
More than I will
Ever be given,

Whole languages
In which he wrote
Becoming ghosts.

I can name names.
I can't name things.
Some are angels,

Some angels sing
Only the name
Of their own Lord,

Holy, and vain.

He could name things
No names could name.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Watchman, Zion Massif

You can't get inside that head
Because anyone inside
That head can't get out again.
Either we're all alone here
In the mountains, or we're all
Illusions of one mountain.
Either way, sleep to morning.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

All of His Works Are Lost

I don't, actually, want to live
In a fair universe. You may
Want as you please. The universe
I inhabit may not be yours,
Where the best way home is sometimes
To turn around, back as you came.
Home, such as it is, means nothing
To me, by which I mean nothing.

Monday, December 22, 2014

They Are

They are as they are. I am as I am,
And what I am, nonetheless, comforts me.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Snow Canyon Solstice

Green, black, red, white--earth rarely provides
Such colors in such proximity.
Blue and grey against the white, against

The dun, against the ochre, olive,
Subtleties even the eye grown used
To garish exaggeration finds

Discomfiting, like the odd power
Of old taboo expressions, so gone
We've got no equivalents. God's flesh.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Nothing lives its whole life in the air.
Microbes are borne aloft to make seeds
For ice-crystal lattices of clouds,
But they don't belong up there. Like us,
They're passengers, and down on the ground
Or in the drink, everyone hunkers,
And no souls use archaic phrases
Like "borne aloft," except for the dead.
Life's got to clutch earth's speech to make sense.

Friday, December 19, 2014

In Touch with What My Culture Might Regard as the Infinite

Grilled chicken, strong beer, and seedless red grapes.
From the middle of the second decade
Of the twenty-first gospel century,

A middle-aged American surveys
Increasingly exhausted memory
And dredges the days when vinyl was all

The funk one had, a black disc lying flat
On a platter while the frail, eternal
Teenager wiped life clean with a felt pad.

Restaurants have replicated themselves
In the dusk of the parliaments of memes,
And nothing is the same remains the same.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sans Everything

The great, rectangular stones
In nonhuman formation
Tumbled down the arroyo
All one autumn afternoon
For a million years or so,
Scrabble tiles thrown by the world
Of blanks, words sans lettering.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

High Noon at the Oasis

These voices might as well be bees
Beside me, the bees beside me
Voices. I'm drowsy from choosing
One inevitable escape
From these plaintive murmurs humming
Like calendars, like bicyclists
Busy on bended knees. Life is;
Life isn't. Sun. Peace. These. These. These.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Riparian Mind

If you could have seen it then,
This is what you would have seen--
The rabbit brush going gold,
Green cottonwoods yellowing,
A person in a parked car,
Windows down, a spot to think,
A million years eroding.

Monday, December 15, 2014

By the Falling Dark

It's been a long time since I remembered
How much I've been forgetting. Gaps, like sleep,
Deep sleep, have a way of being themselves
Forgotten. Sitting here beside the creek,
Shoulder moon and sunset delicately
Balanced but shifting, small birds contending,
I congratulate myself on the names
I have given things, better names than those
Others have given them, worth forgetting,
Then I know all my own names, forgotten.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Way Made Difficult

We can accept the silly parts
Of life as allegorical,
The way the faithful read scriptures

When forced to choose between nonsense
And a free interpretation.
Consider the soul of the cow

In Zoroastrianism.
But beauty and boredom defy
Easy rationalization,

The way to understanding them
Made harder by pedestrians
Who talk loudly, by buzzing flies,

By shades that shift continually,
The sparrow that lands on the bench
So near, then wings away from, me.

When I turn my head slowly, grace,
What I would like to see as grace,
Is the real, moss spring beside me.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Barrier

Read enough old stuff and you start
To wonder about all those black woods
And impassable barriers. People

Inhabited pretty much everywhere
Then that they do in greater numbers
More recently. But the romance

Of the thing, the image of that
Beyond, back of which, heaven,
Midnight or nothing obtained,

Seems more plausible in another age.
There are barriers still to face,
Naturally. Try hiking past the gate

Of dying, where the guards' horses
Piss on the sleeping haiku poets'
Pillowed dreams. Try flying

Past the heliopause, the heart
Of the galaxy, the bent back bow
Of time. Never mind the damn arrow.

Friday, December 12, 2014

No Moon World

Trickster. Nothing has evolved
To live solely by this silver,
Unreliably bright, unreliably

Gone. Everything affected by this
Must remain vulnerable to it.
Moths. Schools of fish. Even the spiders

And the squid who make use of it.
Anything white and bright becomes
An alternative form of ambush.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Probing the Border of Regret

This is not a real forest. This
Is mind forest, the memory
Betraying itself with itself,
Weaving oversimplified myth,

The previously fantasized
Residue of previous minds,
A thick, tarry distillation
Of moss-paved avenues, darker

Arches higher than any trees,
Canopied with unfamiliar
Varieties of needles, leaves,
And stars, haunting me all my life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Oh, It's My Birthday, Oh, It's My Birthday, Oh, Oh, Oh, It's My Birthday!"

On Sequoia's fourth birthday
Our house takes outside in:
A tipi filled with stuffed bears
Wearing paper party hats
Glows in one corner. Aspens
Drug down from the mountains stand
Dressed in lights and dream mushrooms.

Moss and sprays of fragrant pine
Decorate table and hearth.
Even the mice are confused
And keep invading the house
Despite the mild December,
Keep getting trapped, ushered out
With long drives into real woods.

It's that kind of existence.
It always is. The dreaming
Of lives within lives, embraced
And embracing. Our tree grows,
Branching speech and dancing roots,
A mystery, a human,
As we all grew, inside out.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Poets Write of Smoke

Some words mean what they meant
Five thousand years ago,
What they mean, more or less,
In our related world.
There must have been a word
For this phenomenon

Somewhere, maybe near here
Among the creosote,
Transplanted cottonwoods,
Yucca and scorpions,
The cloud shadow that smokes
The cracked white cliffs like glass.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Variations on the Moon

"Between the instant of awareness and the vast emptiness"

Between the instant of emptiness and the vast awareness,
The moth of inattention flutters. Between the vast instant
And the awareness of emptiness, the contending doubts
Of lives lived within too many nested stories about lives within
Lives die. Between the emptiness of awareness and the instant,
The vast moth rises on powdered, tatty wings and sighs.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

After Taste

Seems are not as they thing. You think
I am joking. I am, for now. I am, but I am not
Goddamned joking. I have never been
That funny, for one thing. I am
What I seem. I seem many things. You seem
To me an eloquent nothing, and nothing means,
Lest you find me unseemly, everything
To me. Break bread together. Honor knees
Conviction, vivisectionists' honors be, in
The groin. I am the etymology, the grinding
Abyss, little hollow, snout in the ground.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Interior

I am cold inside, but I am a forgiving man.
Fog and darkness move away from the reluctant cliffs.
Language meant to help us find a way, communicants
Caught in webbing language made, has lost inflections bred
For the bones that wished to sing through their meandering.
Tighten belts and dream impossible recoveries.
Heat will find us, even colder than the moon conceives
Darkness on her starry face, that which we call the pearl,
Turning midnight, built, irrelevantly, by the sun
Falling into place in milky near-imaginings,
Backboned night's relinquishing assertions to a truth
Battered by the million-starred, the apparitions lost,
Found in minds whose sinking, nightly, will again pretend.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Scythian Archeology in the Altai

Means nothing. Means are nothing
To me. When I am absurdly wealthy

I shall study whatever indolence
Concerning the desperate lives

Lived before me I please. Please
Remind me not to regret

My lost poverty when I finally find
My old disease put paid to, at ease.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Decoupage o'Death

1. "a decoupage of memories, both individual and shared"

A phrase ricochets around the web
And ends up lodged in a wiki page:
"The origin of decoupage is thought
To be," the phrase repeats and repeats,

"East Siberian tomb art." There it is,
The legacy of mustachioed Scythians,
Tattoed and riding on horseback in layers
Of felt on felt, the unfeeling heroes' origins

Portrayed at death as on a poet's stage.
Why do you care about this? Why
Do I? Savor the clues to a madness
More ancient than me, more ancient

Than you. Then the world unfurls in
A banner of felt on felt, a Matisse
Old and ill, but still, so damned
Creative. I am. I am entombed

In my art in my feelings, in felt.
Feel me. We cut ourselves
Out so easily. We layer our lives
So carefully. Koloksai unhorsed, free.

2. "The shooting star spot painting"

Death is death. End of story.
Not that stories mean, really,
Anything. But death is death
And after words, well, things
Might in their own way begin again,
But that's another story, isn't it?

3. "You want to sit outside, don't you?"

One day, toward the end of summer,
Ethan stood talking to the Professor
After a breakfast no one else had
Attended. Ethan was rueful, clearing

Plates and setting aside food
For appetites that might come later.
The Professor was appreciative,
And trying to show it, patting his belly.

"You need to ask her about that
Other world of hers," the Professor
Suggested. Ethan shrugged. "I don't
Know, Milton. What do you want

Me to find out from her that might
Actually help anything?" The Professor
Picked his teeth and chuckled. "What
Can she give you? Narrative? Simple description?

You've got yourself a girlfriend who's a specialist
In death, even if she can't remember it.
You say she says she sees something. Well,
How new or how boring is it? Is it

Some kind of heaven you think
She's witnessing? Some kind of hell?
An inside or an outside? What is it?"
"I'd say it was an outside," answered Ethan.

4."I heard him tap his cane"

He dreams and forgets
Same as the rest. Dreams
Of happiness and death.

Forgets what he dreams.
Life and good health to him
Are as meat, drink, and breath.

Layer his remembering
In salvaged scraps to create
An image of breadth and depth.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

At the Last Bend of Creation

Wordless vocals wind around
The courtyard of Coyote Gulch

And wind has nothing much to do
With them or you, me or the singing

Of the small birds hidden from these.
The cafe is closing soon, but don't

Indulge your incessant longing
For nostalgia for an end. It reopens

Every morning, as it has done
Since before I found this two-

Top stop in the fragmentary shade.
Odysseus never knew who was

Who when the underground opened
For him. Everyone's thirsty, now and then.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Unexpected Desert Life

With my unexpected lizard wife
Where half-expected monsoon rains
Tear tiny bits of roofs and soil away,

Accidental sculptors that only work
In pathetically fallacious fits,
Then go to sleep for half a year

While the precarious sandstone piles
Left crack an odd hard frost at a time
And wait on the next fire or next rain.

No verbs wanted here, just thick
Ochre begging beggar's description
And lizards, saints in my age of sage.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Always Valiant in Pursuit of Hopeless Metaphor

"the silhouette of retrospective good times when we still believed in summer hotels and the philosophies of popular songs"

Still do, damn me. Retrospectively
Must be
My good times, recently. Nothing

Seems much stupider to me
Than those
Two words who
Can conjure so much weepage

From saints and fools. Good. Times.
Now is a good
Time for good
Times. Now is never. Times

Are one, soul of the holy, Zarathustrian
Bovid, the stolen,
Allegory, oh! my visionary cow.