Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Taking in the evening one
December afternoon, humming
The words to fairy tunes,

The smallish Sequoia tree
Asked if it's all the same word.
Same word, different colors

Spells rainbow. Oh,
Cute world that shines
And divides. Water sun.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Virgin

Weird any rivers persist at all,
Rain, snow, and mountains notwithstanding.
Stand by this purling crick in winter

And look up from dry earth to dry cliffs
Looming as if peering down valley,
Wondering where that trickling came from,

Incontinent elders of desert.
Someone must have a mind of water,
And suspicion falls on the tallest,

The stone-faced monument squatting down
Among the smaller mountains to squeeze
This thin stream from between those great knees.

Innocent. Water always belongs
To gravity, and if the fury
Of gravity great enough for fire

Raises it up as steam, gravity
Belonging to lesser purity
Pulls it back down to earth. The sacred

And the profane, so went scholarly
Convention, were the same to the monks
Who transcribed bawdy vernacular

Songs on their scriptorial margins,
Little notes praising spring flatulence
Among the hornier animals.

We hate our elders to remind us
Sap rises from cracked rocks. But it does
And falls. Summer is icumen in.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Purity, victimhood, and noise.
Watch these three horsemen
Canter precisely through culture.

We must purify ourselves
To know that we are
Ourselves the pure selves.

We must beat our breasts
And cast a cold eye on others
Not us, for we have been victimized.

We must roar. We must defy.
We must hurl our hopeless bodies
In final desperation on your knives.

And so on. The purest purists,
The most vicious victims,
The loudest yells may win something

For the beauty of their kinship,
For the sorrows of their teammates,
For survivors at the barricades of life.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Other Poems

Nine billion, one hundred ninety two
Million, six hundred thirty one
Thousand, seven hundred seventy
Microwaves pulsed by last second,

One for every person alive
And for every person alive
Whenever there were two billion
Or so persons alive. But who knows

How many of the persons alive
Then have descendants alive today?
Alive in the last second counted
By that cesium atom clock?

All that wiggle room. All that zoom-lensed
Confusion zipping back and forth
Between what numbers elicit faith
And what numbers strain credulity.

Let's get back to poetry. 
“'In Contemporary poetry,'
Russell explains in a recent
Interview with his editor,

'Most of the time when you’re reading
About an "I" who’s watching a bird
Build a nest in a backyard, you can
Probably bet that the poet watched

A bird build a nest in their backyard
And wrote a poem about it.'" Oh,
Bullshit, Brian. Bad gambler you'd make.
Count the numbers of birds and poets,

The numbers of poems about birds
Building nests in the backyards
Of contemporary poets,
The numbers of microwaves it takes

To build a nest in a poet's
Backyard as he gives an interview
To his editor about his poems
Versus other poems' probabilities.

It's sweet of you to have such faith
In your unquantifiable grasp
Of the poetics of egos and nests,
But you've no idea what time it is.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Crooked Bone Beard

How silence is passed down.
How facts are annotated.
How daylight on the rocks bends,
The ongoing still going on.

The couple walking the red trail
In t-shirts, hoodies, white sneakers.
The scrub jay losing his mind
About absolutely everything.

I need you to finish my conclusion.
The strangeness of a world
In which it's not strange to be
Possessed by strangeness. . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2015

For Bill in Missoula, Thirty Years Ago

Nobody's on the bridge tonight.
Nobody's guarding the gates.
Nobody's riding the moonlit bus

Through the canyons at twilight.
One more minute into the dark
As though it might never turn,

And then we will turn around.
We are all not in this together.
We have all sworn our separate escapes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spine Crack Mountain

It's a fault line. It's got to be.
I'm watching crossing clouds vanish
In its straight-ruled, military
Linearity from a bench

In a day-use area named
"Little Galoot." Scrub jays eye me.
I eye the line in front of me,
Trail north to exterior worlds.

"Galoot," incidentally, fell
From a lost Italian galley
Into German, pace Eco,
Thence to Anglo obscurity.

Names. Pah. The cliff in front of me
Has a name, I can be sure of it.
I very much doubt I'd like it.
It's the shape of the dream wilds me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Advice to the Lifelorn

"Life is like stepping onto a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink."
—Shunryu Suzuki

It will all be the same.
Would you want a few more
Storms, calm days, greener waves?

It will all be the same,
No matter how nervous
The cat in your thoughts gets.

It will all be the same,
Whether embarrassment
Precedes fishes and sharks.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Poem of Sufficient Eternity

As people ask why, through them the world asks why, even if none of the rest of the world needs any reasons.

As people give reasons, through them the world gives reasons, even if none of the rest of the world tries interpreting dreams.

As people scurry to salvage the interpretation of dreams, through them the world scurries to salvage the interpretation of dreams, even if none of rest of the world craves eternity.

As people bow down before eternity, through them the world bows down before eternity, even if none of the world rests.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Man in a Bottle

"the noble development of this essence to give the possibility of the development of this noble essence"

Few folk come as close to perfect
Circularity as Hitler endorsing the Ahnenpass,

But there's a love of the shape that explains
A lot about our periods and nothings.

The Ouroboros never quite made it,
Coming closer to an enormous Q.

Wallace Stevens side-stepped his own mind
To come back to it later that winter.

Everything we know of life's rhythms
Derives from wobbling orbits, weaving

Around each other in a doomed embrace.
Not even a spiral, not even a labyrinth

Returns eternally, but we wave in passing,
Always a little dizzy from near misses,

Imagining eventual rendezvous with whole lives
Same time, next year. Past touch, we serve proof

Of genealogy's fiction, our own receding
Traits echoing away. Every last year is last year.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saint George Boulevard

His wife used to cruise up and down
Here as a middle-school girl
On spring-break vacation from
Salt Lake. Her mother
Did the driving. She and her friends
Did the hollering, hoping for boys,
Cute ones, to holler back at them.

He drives it as a matter of chores,
Of employment. He's never seen
Anyone hollering out of windows,
Boy or girl. A few pedestrians
Shuffle along on the sidewalks.
It's an artery feeding the interstate
To the heart of town, a vein
Bleeding town back out to the world.

He remembers smaller boulevards
In remoter Montana, hard places
Where foolish teenagers drove
In hopelessly hopeful circles
On weekend nights, hooting
And whooping out of windows.
He remembers larger boulevards
Of greater cities glaring, congested.

Somewhere between the desperate
Boredom of towns too small
And dying on the prairies or
The crammed grandeur of the cities
Sinking stone markers into coasts,
He imagines what this desert strip
Must have been once existed,
Mothers driving girls crazy for boys.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Editio Forceps

I am a turn of art
Turned aside by ghosts
In commemorated
Ruins of Harrisburg,
Utah under red cliffs.
In short, I am shorthand

For nothing, for whispers
By which memories lie
About the present past,
As it were, past present.
I'm not a riddle, no,
Nor kenning, nor gnomic.

I'm a mystery self
In the mysterious
Syntax of self built up
Over generations
Of bodies belonging
To less selfish cultures.

If you can extract me
From this morass of doubt
And hemorrhagic joy,
This beautiful now you
Have in mind a moment,
I'll cry. You'll be the first.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Skid Mark

We belong to the laccolithic,
The age of heated, forced intrusions.
Komatsu trucks rumble interstate,
Headed for or from further roadwork.

Invasive species are everywhere.
Every species' invasive, even
These inky, calligraphic lavas
Scrawling the Navajo sandstones black.

None is original, no not one.
Every origin's myth, however
Is as true as any other myth,
Any myth of others, other myths.

The sameness only relieved by change
Slips over the fossil-bearing rocks
In a tide that becomes more fossils,
More rocks, more roads, more tides, more trucks. Tired.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Adagiorum chiliades

It will all be the same.
"The dead shall live, the living die,
And music shall untune the sky."

Stories are all gossip.
They put behavior on display.
They pretend to know more than they do.

How liberating the day would be
When I realized I had no more need
To consider a way to escape.

You may assume you begin and end,
You may assume many beginnings and endings
Although there are none.

One fails.
The rest is duplicity or not,
Given that duplicity is one of the ways one fails.

There's more information meets the eyes
On a dusty gravel path among cliffs
Than meets the eye.

A mist on a domed mountain
Cares so little for those failures that one sighs
For the great sense of peace it describes.

It's raining.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Repetitive Sevenths

"I need to survive by a faint river.
I need a stream by which to, much longer,
Survive. The sounds of things that aren't alive,
Obeying the dictates of the forces
Enumerated as such and combined,
These are the murmurings of poetry
In the ear of the perishing poet."

A party past the valleys the hunger
Surprises itself by tenacity.
It had not intended itself to be
So ineluctably single-minded,
But every night found it drooling in moons
Of fang-slivered sleep. The stream reminded
Dreams of a time when water was enough

Or of times when little more than water
And sun was. Now, a dark world contorting
Itself in the high, dry inland of sleep
Imagines the water rushing under
Wants to escape to a leisurely home.
Water imagines nothing. Strange liquid.
It expands as it grows cold and languid.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fur Bone, Black Fire

The world of the unreal remains a matter of fact.
It has none; it needs none. It has à bric et à brac.
"Who wants biographers spelunking in family
Darknesses?" The dedicated hunt for uniqueness
Or at least an uninhabited role haunts humans
Because success in the quest guarantees our failure
To be like other people. We are unlike ourselves.
And so, below the trees of the forest abandoned
And never fit for rehabitation, we pass
Through the dark we crave for its indistinctness,
Its uncertainty, its silvered, forgotten colors,
Its promise of being truer for being so blurred
We can't pretend anything at all was ever true.

The things we do not understand, the things we do: fear
Keys honest responses to all of them. Fear is not
Enough. Love, that attenuated form of desire
Combines like moonlight with these shadows. In the morning,
After moonstruck love has set, zodiacal light
Shapes a ghost at angle above the darkness,
Signifying nothing as glowing almost-nothing.
And then the burning horror of the day emerges,
And we retreat into unreality, cursing.
Oh, who wants to know what nocturnal wickedness dreads
The merciful return of that clarifying light?
We will tell you a secret. We're you, your memories,
Your personal storehouse of props for dreams that you're real.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"The Eloquent Insufficiency of Poems"

Any narratologist walks into
A bar where any mixologist,
Bored by the same old jokes,
Wants to make a cocktail
Even the most temperamental
Temperance enthusiast would agree
To drink. Have I told you the one
About the Sumerian king who
Wanted to have a beer before
Forever? You have. Have this.
Why? Why? I made it. Damn it,
Don't you know? Know? I made
"Why?" that's why.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

11 O'Clock Perfectionism Moment

Rolling up the scroll of heaven at the end
Of time, the damn thing looks like a great white snail
In a fresco of Byzantium's Chora.

So many phenomena to record, first,
Small wonder the scroll would be so enormous.
There will be no angel to do the rolling

Once all the recording has been, truly, done.
There will be a last notation moldering.
There will be no reason for time to move on.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Moon of the Mind

Defined me. I was the moon of the mind,
Or one of them, circling the greater orb
That was the mind, the agglutinated

Sum of millions of smaller entities
And greater than the sum, weirdly alive
In a way no orbiting moon could be.

I was a captive to that turquoise shine
That rose and set, that eclipsed beyond me,
Pure lonely in my borrowed shrouds of light,

A pocky sort of sphere encompassing
A considerable amount of dust,
Restrained by mind, never containing it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chronic Experiments

One gas against the poets
Is that everything they vent
Is a kind of surface effluence.

Pavlov measured gastric juices
In the starved esophagai of dogs
With holes in their living throats.

At the cost of your soul!
I've been waiting for the moment
When the book calms down.

Hiss, quoth the propane heater
Breathing like an anchored dragon
Down our pretended banquet hall.

You can't imagine me without
Imagining yourself, circular ruin
Of health, all we, unhealthy, are.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Polyester Buffalo

(an aphorism stolen from and for Teresa Jordan)

William Stafford knew a thing
Or two about poetry
As daily meditation.
You have to accept a chair
Yard saled in Butte, Montana
As a promise that the last
Good thing you have won't be this

Wicker-rockered moment when
Polyester buffalo
Has to peel away from you
And your comfort aesthetic.
Another aphorist said
"Never stand when you can sit."
Never sit when you can lie.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Harvest Got Attitude

"I need a piece of cloth to cut."
"You need the dark and then the light
Shows." "If you must have dialogue
And dashing about, better go
To the theater." "View is 'from
The beginning a rejoinder
In an unfinished dialogue.'"
"After 'from the pristine mountain,'

One version reads 'of the shining.'"
"Mama, she's going to get ready,
But I want to put my dress on.
I'll be as fast as lightning." "Sure,
There's some truth to be had in this
Wind blowing words like confetti,
After the ticker-tape parade
Of conversations' all gone by."

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wrong Metaphors

The usual cottonwoods,
Junipers and prickly pear,
Bicyclist on the dirt road,
Mule deer browsing in the shades,
Cliffs crumbling into canyons
Slower than organisms
Die, faster than species' lives.

The breeze compounded of breath,
Souls, ashes, bacteria,
And waters of centuries
Whisked around this centrifuge
Does a fine job of mixing
Cliffs, deer, roots, excrescences
Of lost civilizations

Despite the great differences
In density between these.
Somewhere a folio fades
In a library of dust
And whispers, wrong metaphors:
"It was holde to neih the fire
And is molten al awey."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"A Star at Any Time May Tell Us"

Last disk of blue from the view
Through the invalid's window.
Frailty didn't prevent
Him from meeting deadly sins,
Life, the knife-fighter, leafed out
With innumerable bright blades
Flashing, chiefest among them.

One can't be an invalid
Disembodied, after all,
And the body's wickedness
Is thoroughbred for any
Handicap. So there was joy,
Helpmeet to life, and some games
In which sky and sin had names.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rigor Morsus

"Before he'd penned a few last words," he laughed
And sneezed, and bit the inside of his mouth,
The idiot. Again, bite of nitwit.

Rachmaninov noodled little pieces
Of fantasy piano on a disc
Chosen by a mordantly humorous,

Whisky-baritoned disc jockey to spin,
Which set our hero of iron-rich spit
On intramedullary fixations

Of self stem-winding eponymity
Into introspective meditations
About why he'd cared more for words worming

Their ways through gods' metallic conceptions
And under-bark firewood revelations
Than for true bookworms themselves, remorseful.

"Well, we're all anonymous in the end,
Even the gods, even their Kentish scribes,"
He thought, chewing on his nib, the pinwit.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Eighty Generations

The trunks are narrow, almost
Spindly despite their ages.
Chances are, of course, you won't
Make it. Magical union

In a dappled world in which
Oxygen is, essential
To you, a mere byproduct.
Needles, leaves sigh in the breeze.

I'd decline to go into
Those woods, except I've no choice.
Every root is a research,
Every twig a fruity bet.

Chances are you're on the ground,
Too close to survive,
One of the countless billions
Dropped in parental umbrage.

We are all blind in the dark
And the dark defines our lives.
No, not quite. You feel the warmth
I've prophesied, the light high,

Higher than the blossoming
Canopy from which we fell.
I want to embrace your faith
Our shadows are ellipses.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Excluded from the Present

Classification itself,
Although it appears muted,
Belongs neither to the past
Nor to the otherworldly.
It belongs to the future.
Therefore, names, however strange,
May be understood as wrong,

As children, as inchoate
Adults their namers will not
Succeed in long perusing,
As namers live unperused
By the ancient trees that lean
Over the axes intent
On milling the truth as them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Come Hither, All Ye Empty Things

I will hold you in my basin.
Without you I am one of you.
I am motion. I am swimming.
Time is only my perception.

These are my intersecting waves.
These are your boats that disappear.
These are my words, your lives, my graves:

The thin blue sky outside my eyes
Barely restrains an illusion
That I am, also, blue and kind,
When I am dark and cold, and lie.

Megista gene disappear
Into fine-webbed nomenclature.
Still I am doubt, and I am here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rattlesnake Parade

Sequoia is four. She says things
That adults find darling. "Wild lamp."
"Rattlesnake parade." "Magicker."
I would say I find them darling,

But I'm not that plausible yet.
I'm magicker myself, wild lamped
And limping in rattling parade.
I understand the black forest.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Crumbly Wonders

The best time to plant a tree
Was a thousand years ago.
The second best time is tomorrow.

We go and we go. We reach
The barley fields of the Tibetan Plateau.
Alice is still in Winderland, reading Blake.

Lewis and Clark named this tree.
This other tree survived the name.
The lake. The lake gathers its ice.

The trees collect their bones
Along the whispering shore.
The pictures are cold, but nice.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fig. 1,500: Beauty, Terror, and Pathos

The three fates of existence
As a perceiving being
On our most ruthless planet
Sit around swapping stories
About our credulous souls:
We want to believe we are
Capable of perception.

Alright, then. Here is Earth's moon
Lit by Earth's sun. Here are cliffs
That are to suns as the trees
Are to the cliffs, the poets
To the Sequoias, Ginkgos,
Kauris and Bromeliads.
Little things, all. Little things.