Saturday, January 31, 2015


"on our meat, and on us all"

I come from a body
That doesn't believe
In the future, beyond
What's already happened.

The body speaks well
Of the sufferings of being
A body, but only ill
Of being me. I, myself,

Forgive this degeneracy
As having been spawned
By all those generations
Prior to our nomenclatures

Of misery, to the future
Gone down dim millennia
Of recipients of the otherwise
Gone that happened.

I will read no more evil
Of the devil, of nothing
Worse than a prayer before grace
Falls like a wolf on us all.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Second-Person Moral

You haven't earned anything,
Least of all the grief you've got
Coming to you. Memoirists

Wicked as novelists plot
How to make sense of their lives.
Granted that my life makes sense,

Illuminating logos
As stoics understood it,
Your life, if indeed your life

Exists, makes no sense at all.
You have been undeserving
Of your joys and calumnies,

The sufferings delivered
By compositions like this.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nature, What Is Not

"Whence came that uncanny
Guest?" asked Nietzsche. The man
Called philosopher king,
With whose name kids teased me
As a kid, answered him,
Millennia ahead

Of time, "It will all be
The same." Speaking of which,
When I was at Princeton
A teacher tried to teach
Us Latinate grammar
Rules with an anecdote

About a Jersey kid
Who was lost on campus
And asked, "Where's the gym at?"
"At Princeton, we don't end
Any sentences with
Prepositions," replied

The Princeton man. "Ok,
Where's the gym at, asshole?"
We were supposed to laugh.
At the U Montana,
Loyal two-time dropout
Princetonian teaching

My first ill-gotten class,
I changed the college name
To Harvard, but I kept
The rest and got a laugh.
"Whence came that uncanny
Guest," gorgeous Gorgias?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Narcissist, Solipsist, Nihilist, Escapist

I am that cenotaph, embarrassed
To contain the accidental bones
Of this or that creature uninscribed
On the front of me, unintended,

Or I am the embarrassed critter
Whose ghost continues nattering
Re what it thought of itself in life,
Whose shy bones can't remove from this tomb.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monk, Bell

A man crossed the intersection,
Holding his daughter by the hand.
Her ponytail bobbed as she turned
With a frightened look at the car
Whipping through the crosswalk just

Behind her heels. Monk with a bell
Moaned and rang. The clouds went somewhere,
Dragging their philosophical
Shadows over the next moment.
The man and his daughter are gone.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Motes Might, Mites Don't

Aging so rapidly backwards,
Benjamin Button gets younger
Faster than others get older
And suffers the consequences.

Forgive it and get on with it.
Fitzgerald was dead at your age,
And at the age your wife died young,
But alive and miserable when

He drank his way past Mozart's death.
Annus mirabilis, annus
Horribilis. All calendars
Are horrible, miraculous,

Because there is no magic year,
Only years in which likely things
And unlikely things reoccur,
Those illusions of being things.

The sun setting early these days
Shines on the side of your window
And illuminates life and death
In a rejuvenating dust.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Change itself is the thing.
The sun on the hill never
Forgets to die. The wild
Remains predictable
On the grounds of the tame.
Strong beer, chocolate, haka

Dances, furious fights
Among the daffodils,
Anything romantic,
However bloodthirsty,
Has to be digested,
Desires to be contained.

The great god at the gates
Of the sun going down
Only mourns what he's shown.
The etymology
Of the wild choric ode
Somehow remains unknown.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Brigham Tea, Mormon Tea, Ephedra, Utah Native

I look at the lava flows
Near Saint George, so black they're close
To wet, glossy broken tongues
I've tried to describe before,
The happened, not happened yet.
Life's children are invasive.

What could another body
Caught in the web of language
Say better or, better, more
Freely? No one quite like me.
Hang your hat on that, mack. Black
Lava fresh as yesterday

Antedates your earliest
Date-palmed dates. Your end is near.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Perpetuum Immobile

It's the moving part that breaks first--
The switch on the solid state phone,
The sliding blades of the razor,
The valves of the heart. You know this,

But saying you know feels mawkish.
Weight-bearing bits break next, except
When eroding sandstone's involved,
In which case the legs last longest.

Dr. Martine Watson Brownley,
Professor of Women's Studies
And 18th-Century Lit, said
To her class when she turned forty

Thirty years ago, "Look, I'll wear
Short skirts as long as I want to,
Damn it! Legs are the last to go."
Maybe hers were. She's still alive,

And there's something moving to it,
The memory of defiance,
Of the will to remain unmoved,
Which moves nothing to sustain us.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Papa, Co-Conspirator

How redundant: breathe with with.
You and I, we're redundant,
And of all the troubling things
That trouble me, that doesn't.
Of all the sorrows living
Brings, our presences at once
Redouble joys by dozens.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Temporary Conclusion 1461 Equals 4

Neither does a cloud, however
Lonely, signify, nor is it

Random. It's too predictable.
Any chunk of pi looks random,

Which could be a clue, if only
Because the ratio itself

Is everywhere. We've found, we sign
We're worlds athwart significance.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Poem About That

Enough of this. I never
Could be capable of that,
The dream of staying alert
To exact experience
On the right hand, the exact
Right word on the other. Peace
Would mean I am possible

As an observer of this
And an instrument of words.
I am impossible. Words
Fail me every time I try
To pass their tests. Salmon run
Along home. The sweet words sing
To what whispers by the lake.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Autobiography of an Archangel

A programmer and blogger from the gone
Universe of the eighth year of the first
Century of the third millennium
(By revised Gregorian calendars)
Extrapolated from the Library
Of Babel, that all the near-duplicates
Of War and Peace, give or take twelve letters,
Would much more than fill the observable
Universe, itself the other name for
The Library of all the possible
Books. Nice. All the possible books are all
Only possible in a universe
That makes them possible. Books and angels
Surpass observables, as I just did.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


"I scarcely have the right
To use this ghostly verb;
Only one man on earth
Deserved the right, and he
Is dead." If you would like
To scan those lines, then do.

So. Now. My friend, we are
And we have never been.
Allow my beer to foam
In paraphrase from one
Equally cowardly
And brave contemporary

In the endless twilight
Of human bodies lost
Among the downward arts
Of declining empires
Of our bloody, beating
Hearts. Here we end sermons,

But poems must press forward
Into the ill-mapped land
Of highly rhythmic lies.
I almost forgot mine:
To arouse wonder stare,
Unafraid, at one thing.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Getting Around It

A Siamese cat wanders
Into backyard field of view
Before sunset. Had it been

Moonlight, it would have been more
Romantic. As it is, one
Can't keep up with romantics,

A tribe whose nomenclature,
Membership and preferences
Change more often than dancers

In Poconos theatres
Did when I directed them
As a kid, a long time gone.

Times are always long and gone,
And romantics lamenting
The dreadfulness of this fact.

That makes me a romantic.
I have left behind the back
Yard cat, gone caterwauling

Into the high canyons where,
Typically, all I can hear
Is this tiny rivulet

That drowns tonight in the sounds
Of park rangers in pick-ups
Returned to reclaim their turf

Among abandoned campsites,
Here in doomed celebration
Of season's and employment's

End. Good for them. Good for it,
The cat. Good for me. The stream
Has no need of such plaudits.

Friday, January 16, 2015

One Horn's Kin Reminds Me

Last October, in Zion,
Pulled out in a no-go zone
For visitors, I spotted

The most grandiloquent buck
I'd ever seen, twelve-point rack,
And that not the half of it,

The long, dark stripe down his back,
The thick torso, unscarred ears,
The beauty and brass of him

Walking straight up to my truck,
As if he could overrule
Millions of years of quaking

Genetic success to say
To me, barely bipedal,
Late-arriving invasive,

"Fuck you and the wolves you rode
In on." The other side flinched,
Viewed in my mirror. So what.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Sometimes I listen to Leonard Cohen going home
And try to decide by ear whether the lyric goes

"The brief elaboration of a tube" or "the brief
Elaboration of a tune." Does it matter much?

No, but it nicely balances on a consonant
Daydreams of culture and nightmares of biology

Or vicey versey. I am brief elaborations
Of a tune created by the sighing of the tubes.

Every day I waste time singing "I don't have much time."
It's not that my throat forms the vowels out loud. I think.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Oboe d'Amore

I do wonder what it would be like to be
The same me inside a beautiful body,
Having a veiled and pathetic tone. It got
Really dark, rich and somber. Then it got poor.
Then it explored. The right kind of poor, the right
Kind of rich have this in common. We haven't
Worked a day in our lives. We have such soft hands,
As my hard-handed father in his wheelchair
Enjoyed pointing out, with the perversity
Of anyone disabled who's found a way
In this perverse universe. I play oboe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Radiocarbon Saxophone

"Close your eyes and it's 1982"

My wife, in her thirties, hates
The eighties, especially
The saxophones. I hate

Only saxophones. I'm old,
I'm super attenuated, I'm
Oh ducks, let's go to bed.

Somewhere a femur rots
In the tundra, neglected,
Undated, a solo with four holes,

While the other femur proves
Ancient DNA would have been
The thing for a man without bones.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Make It Old

You can't begin to
Begin again. You
Can't begin to end.
You're an instrument

Of ancient music,
And although you will
Whole notes from half sobs,
Don't. You have no stops.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Broken Corn Kernels

The window in the back wall
While time serves and we are but
Decaying has a little

Leak along the bottom sill
That betrays it, and anguish
That earns it doesn't know it

Has the melancholia
Of a boy in the arid,
Solitary world of dreams,

Of a Great Depression dish
Common to cartoon minced oaths,
Deep Blues and New Englanders

Of the era, my mother
Included. This mildewed dust
Exists to remind windows,

Widowers and Italian
Readers: to arouse wonder
Stare, unafraid, at one thing.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

But Not Now

The mouse will suffer and die, but
I still hope to mitigate its misery by
Prolonging its misery at survivable

Levels in my heartless big-hearted
Trap where it scrabbles and pisses
And tramps around in its waste, just

As I do in my way. I will take it out
To an arroyo to live and die free later
Today and later I will suffer and die.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Radiant Terror, Raw Wonder

We have reached that age
In which the body has replaced
Nearly all of itself at least once

And the mind surrenders old notions
Of the body to newer notions
Of the body that neither understands

Poets considerably younger
Than ourselves as we reconstruct
Them from the ruins of rebellion

Are already themselves older
Than ourselves were when we began
To despair of our vanished youth

By which trivial observation
We shed illumination like the moon
We once refused ourselves

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cat Naps in Pipe Bowl Light

He was one of us. No sleep.
Some of his most
Innovative verse
Was better for being the worse.

Imagine the pronoun of him
Struggling to make
Sense of the wide-eyed
Misery of wakeful nights.

The pronouns gather around
The colosseum of nouns
To pronounce thumbs
Up or down, lonely in those crowds,

So few to contain every soul
That ever stared at black
Edges of innumerable stars,
These coals, them, his, us, ours.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I'm the sibling you would have had
If God understood genetics.
I'm the cricket chirping inside
An undisturbed chromosome of you,

The silence in the one disturbed.
I'm the road noise of emotions,
The rumble of your weaknesses
In the alligator subways.

I'm you as you should have been, foul-
Mouthed as you are, much politer.
I could run circles around you
Talking in circles around me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

No Matching Records Found

Apart perhaps from volume there's no real
Difference between human and inhuman
Sounds beyond recognition in the ear.

Search again. The girl who lives in Red Hawk
Apartments has a dog who likes to bark.
Has. Likes. Bark. A hawk circles, lazily.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Rock Held Back by the Half-Dead Tree

In the canyon where the campsites sit
Since the canyon was closed to tourists
Spirals track. Traced from the perspective
Of planetary astronomers,
Those uncertain, inbetween beings
Prone to wandering past all the rest
Of everything from the beginning
Of life on this rock without leaving
The calm, celestial neighborhood,
My motionlessness feels erratic.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


A person of any kind,
A child could catch and release
The small fly caught in the hand
By whatever accident,
But no one, no emperor,
No divinity worshipped
By emperors' ancestors

As emperors' ancestor,
Can release, release, release
Release, release whatever
Forever, because that's not
The way that this is built, not
Forever, gods, ancestors,
Accidents, persons, minds, flies.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lord of the Side of the Road

A white jeep with a tan top
Disturbs the minuscule flies
Under confederate-grey skies
In the land of crumbling rocks.

A horse trailer, trailing plumes
Of dust but no horses, rumbles
Just wide of pick-up trucks tumbling
More stones over the cliffs to dooms

That will dissolve down below
In the Virgin, repository
Of every flood story
Since the first, and a calf bellows.

Let's get back to that Jeep.
It is parked now on the far side
Of the River. Shadows inside
Consult. The slopes are all too steep.

Friday, January 2, 2015


I am the fly on my memory wall,
Watching grunting things inhabit
The shabby furnishings by day,

Charcoal shades dust milky cushions
By night. I buzz and settle my wings.
I am too small. I am too tired

To push my way through all
Of this bric-à-brac that passes
For life's residue around me.

So I cling to my wall, pretending
I am the wall, pretending
I am cleaning my onionskin wings.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Nothing is so not here as something without
People in it, which is why we shake our heads
To marvel at the inspiring light. An hour
Without a person in it not in the head
Holds all the unreality of magic,
Which is all inside the persons in the head.
Nothing, of course, otherworldly about it,
Nothing otherworldly about us, either,
Nor about about any combination of worlds,
Except insofar as pillars of madness
Stand athwart admixtures of nothing is all.