Thursday, March 31, 2016

Moon Commute

Scrub-green, dun, ochre, and grey
Beatitudes, a buzzard
Picking roadside carrion,
Dawn slicing night off the top
Of pinyon-prowed mesas,
Wan moon on old-snowed mountains,
White on blue, white on blue-white,

The river named the Virgin,
Virgin tongue of the dragon,
Probing the gorge of St. George,
Names tumbling observations
Like boulders in a rockslide,
Cracking facades crushed to myth,
Alchemical stone, please work.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Soul Who Is Dying

Is not a householder leaving
A burning home, trying to grab
Everything maybe worth taking,
Or at least the most heart-rending,
Sentimental possessions. No,
A soul that's leaving is a soul
Taking leave of the soul, nothing
Coming along for the long ride
Into nothing because nothing
But a soul can leave completely.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Nothing but a reaction
To reading, a kind of flame

That fails to incinerate
All of its fuel perfectly,

Leaving embarrassing shreds
Of texts like overdue bills

Languishing in smoky kilns,
These Herculaneum scrolls,

Creation's carbon copies
Hinting at dark, lost marvels,

But mostly the minor works
Of someone we didn't want

To find, seek another soil.
However derived, they steal

A march on the future shore.
How many cherished writings,

Lost to their native eras
Have we constructed solely

From distant paraphrases,
Fragments and commentaries?

Even the breezes carry
Seeds of a new foundation,

An old world settled anew,
A new world for the ashen.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sooner or Later, the Fox

We had two chickens for a while.
Neither one would lay an egg.
They clucked and they quarreled. They ran
Around the yard, through the pines.

Intent on scratching through the straw,
Chortling as they spotted bugs,
Ignoring us unless we chased
Or fed them, they seemed content.

It was hard not to imagine
They were absorbed in their lives,
Feathered scholars deep in their books.
They disappeared. They returned.

One morning, only feathers strewn
Around the coop, one chicken
Hiding in pines by the back wall.
The other one gone for good.

No more free ranging scholarship
For the frightened survivor.
A week later in the moonlight,
One eye gone, bloodied, trembling,

She staggered against chain-link fence,
Twitched, collapsed and died herself.
That was that. The way the truth set
Upon us, truth sets us free.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Way Things Are

Was the way things were going,
The heart like a bird trapped in the house,
Unable to escape or quit escaping.

The full moon started to wane at dawn
Over red and white winter desert.
A wild turkey crossed the road.

The world stretched out its luxuriant self,
Gorgeous and hostile as ever, never
Exactly the same. Pink shelled skies

Tempted the sore heart to try harder,
Soar. The invisible world waited
Like glass to stun the escape.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

We Have No Friend But Our Shadow

Finite existence makes me
More expensive. Poetry
Is living space for the unknown.
We weave a hopeful tapestry,

Wrote the weaving novelist
For her heroine to think.
He was the tallest man ever
And a burrowing owl in flight.

Fitly feed my driftwood fire.
I'm the last I left behind.
You think this is a bricolage?
I was the tallest man ever,

So tall I had to die young.
A boy, I walked with a cane.
I towered over telephone
Booths in Las Vegas museums.

Friday, March 25, 2016

113 Poems in 38 Days

Can't be done and no one
Would ever want to read
The disturbing results.

Nonetheless, disturbing
Results are on their way.
The dying scientist,

However deluded,
Self-deceiving, and wrong

Is about to ascend
Like antigravity
Prophets of long ago,

Bearded, wingless angels
Rewarded for madness
With myths of survival

And whispers of return.
Of course we don't return,
Except on investments

Of our vested interests
In seeming immortal.
(When you can't be, you seem.)

We can do this madness.
We can compose a gross,
Or nearly, of nothings,

Parting gift to nothing,
Pretending counting's real
And everything numbered.

Laughing at origins,
Hungry in the middle,
Here, near the end, begin.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

When Best He Sings

Every ghost story is a love story,
A beauty contest judged by butterflies.
If you can read these phrases, even if
You have someone read them to you, and know

That they mean, or possibly mean, something,
You are already a ghost, and I am
Already your ghost lover, with others.
Every ghost knows ghosts have no boundaries.

Who counts how many lovers we've had, lies.
Who counts how many lovers we've been, lies.
Who counts, lies. Who is a ghost, lies. Lies are
Ghosts as well. Nothing but a ghost can lie.

The butterfly liars float, translucent
And, attracted to that spectral nectar,
Cover what they love most, chaotic clouds
That judge our loveliness by telling us,

For brief intervals, where we more or less
Are in our unbounded state, ghost pollen
Settling, accumulating, dispersing.
What no one of us was altogether

Transcends us, and the butterflies follow.
If you've seen green pine pollen outlining
Shapes it's drifted against a little while
Then vanishing, you know, are, what this means

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Rest

What was now, is once no longer.
The light blonde head on the bunk bed,
The magic of disembodied
Music digitizing the air,

The far away puppet-master,
A real puppet-master, giving
A lecture on puppet sculptures
As instances, not metaphors,

In a university town
Known for Shakespeare, an hour from here
And half a mile higher, in snow,
Are all together as they gleam

In the spotlight of awareness
Circling itself and settling down
Like a domesticated cat
Come to bed. We all need the rest.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Time's Eccentric Perturber

This is the work of memory when you
Are about to die.
Everything and everyone is in flames.

You have failed them all.
It terrifies you to think about it,
And you are at peace.

You will never know what will happen next,
What happened before.
Memory is the last planet out there

Tilting all orbits
But offering nothing, not to be seen,
The missing that can't

Be monitored, brought back into the fire,
Not even by words.
You will stay behind, and you will be gone.

Monday, March 21, 2016

His Last Six Gorgeous Weeks of Life

What he loved about the Scots
As a half-bounded cultural gestalt
Was their peculiar bipolarity.

They couldn't seem to drink
Without glorifying the art of binges
Or pause without pious abstention.

They spent like drunken sailors
Saddled with the stereotype
Of their tightfisted stinginess.

They romantically beserked
For Bonny Catholic pretenders
Or pursed their Calvinist lips in the Kirk.

They sketched Faeries and wee folk
As well as their cousins the Irish,
Then hatched Hume and Darwin in Edinburgh.

He thought of them often as he settled
To brood in his sandstone and sage
Nest like an old prairie hen, ready

To cluck over having given birth
To death. How had he come
From wide-eyed boy visiting Skye

To fussy old fluff incubating the end?
He was a wee man of his own,
An imp, a problem, a gem.

You couldn't trust him. You couldn't
Forgive him, but there was no reason
To give up on the small magic he hid.

Maybe he liked the Scots because
Their tendency to extremes
Brought the ends of the human spectrum

Close enough to keep a beady eye on
Constantly, to either side as he hunched
Himself down in between, half

Drunk and half sober, half
Nihilist mystic, half empiricist,
Half calm, half ready to cackle

Insanely for the sake of an egg
Of an unhatched, half-witted idea
Or for fear of the stealth of the fox.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Little gold laurel leaf
Gilded with letters
Inscribed in accord
With established superstition,

You won't have anything to say
To me beside the ghostly cypress,
But imagine what later,
Unimaginable generations

May make of your instructions,
Rescued from my dirt remains,
And sing for me what I was
Who really never was at all.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Save Your Savor, Savior

The final illusion of sinking souls
Is that we're sinking in an illusion.
It could all be perfectly real, you know,
As it seems, despite our limitations.

Yes, we fantasize escape to the end,
And that fantasy gets called illusion,
But we know our escape is guaranteed.
It's the escape we dream of escaping,

And prismatic prisons of illusions
From which we could escape we've been dreaming
As real. It's all real. Dreams are physical.
Sinking is something we actually do.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Kindness and Prayer Are Close

I sense their warm breath on my neck.
Their hands and dark eyes comfort me.
Who is the soul who will not be
Comforted, if not self-absorbed,
Callous me? Who can I comfort
Who would not sense my falsity
As I sense their hypocrisy.
We're in this leaving together.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nothing Unusual Happens

Nothing unusual happens
In this world to which I belong.
Distant echoes reverberate,
Yes, of improbable events

And a bit of my life could be,
Squinting, improbability.
But by and large, by and large rules.
The partner returns from the drive,

The numbers come up different
Than the numbers one had chosen.
I'm not really fond of making
Mistakes but I am what once was.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Last

What one takes
One pours
In by contemplation
Out by love
By love
My love
By love
By contemplation
My love
Out my love
By love
What is
Which is
Love my
Love who knows
The definite
Love who

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Great Empty World

He sat beside the window
Of the bedroom of his love,
Watching juncos fight for seeds
Outside, where unseen actions
Of unknown persons made loud
Noises he interpreted.
Ah, meaning, ghost of the world.

Information is inert,
However well it evolves.
But look at those hungry birds,
Complete, well-honed instructions
In every hungry cell.
They're not inert, not burning
Down smoothly to wasted ends.

There is a pattern that wants,
That demands, that makes something
That wastes a lot but makes some
More. More, more, more. Then it dies.
Anything else moves around,
Transforms as it must, no waste
Or all waste, he guessed. Sun set.

Monday, March 14, 2016


I would take a hooded hobgoblin
For any meal at all. Devils hide
In every word, constellated imps

Of meaning, teasing, tempting, hinting
And generally worming around so
That the dead thing seems to writhe with life.

This memoir will mean nothing to me
Unless I can make you feel how close
I was to the end you'd dreamed for me.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Take Out

Last chord of the sad guitar
Trying to play Vivaldi
As if violins were rare,
Too rare to play in season.

The storm is coming, winter
That will outlast any spring.
"Prepare yourself!" sing guitars,

Hoarse from approximating
The terror of violins.
Everything will be as if
Everything had never been.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

When You Get Tired

A soft tongue breaks the bone.
A tired liar says, "I'm god."

When we're awake, we home,
Like pigeons who're so tired

They can't recall, "Let go!
Let what you don't know drop

You, homing on a world
That doesn't know what you

Are that you should somehow
Know what you are. No. No."

Friday, March 11, 2016

Ecco lo fico

What can one do in the end but be rude
To mock and defy omnipotent jest?
We've been consigned, if we're like each other,
Whether we like or dislike each other,
Whether we give a windmill's fart ourselves
About how much we dislike each other,
To have to desire and crave and hunger
What? Something to do with the wonderful
World, some reason to chase one another.
We're that many games in search of our rules

That it rarely occurs to us we are
Such fools as rules are made of and such fools
Deliriously prancing beyond rules,
Gods of misrule who are part of the rules.
Oh, fuck it. There's nothing much left someone
Won't feel compelled by some form of belief,
Even if only housekeeping, to trash.
The rude and the obedient remain
To shade exquisite chiaroscuro, 
Rubbing the real, eternally charcoal.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Things That Will Burn

I'm hunting through the property
For things I absolutely know
Will burn. Sticks, detritus, old piles
Of autumn leaves, and wooden spoons

All tempt me. The roadrunner spots
Me foraging in the hedges
And follows at a safe distance.
Sequoia's fostered chicken hides

Under an afghan pine to watch.
It's come to this. The year is young
And I am old. Everything dear
To me, even me, seems fuelish.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Learning, Deep and Shallow

Fools fearing existential
Crises for humanity
Think that if they can prevent
Computers from killing us
Or us from killing ourselves,
Self-extinction, in toto,
Maybe they, personally,

Can upload eternity,
Getting better all the time.
Extinction isn't like that.
You are part of everything,
Dancing around and thinking
The world is surrounding you,
Then you, it, aren't, never were.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mr. Jeffreys, I've Finally Caught You

Your father, in his forever

Used to love to tell the story:
Stock drag-

Racing on the back roads of New

Hot-rod besotted, rebellious,

Roaring his mother's Cadillac

Geared with a "hydromatic" shift,

Hand controls he'd machined himself,
He won

Often enough to be a ghost,

To the cops, the crippled wonder
Who dragged

Illegally and beat the boys
Who smoked

In pompadours and got their girls

And from time to time went to jail.
One night

On a wet, unlit straightaway

He saw the twirling candy lights
And lost

His license for a good long while.

Jeffreys," growled the cop (he relished
This part),

"I finally caught you!" Then he laughed,
Your dad.

Well, well. All stories continue
To end

And end so they can continue.
Caught you.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Less So for History

A body free from pain and a mind removed
From fear and care, simultaneously, are
Like a good hand you can dream about and greet
With delight but can't count on coming often,
Can't count at all without playing a long time,
Can't draw benefits from without throwing down,
But sure, Lucretius, that's all I really want.
No swerving aside to allow gods to doubt,
No advice even from doubters how to die,
Thoughts that are thoughts but without pain, fear, or care,
Body wholly body but wholly aware.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Kind of Bereavement

The theater lights dim here
And there but not everywhere.
There is joy in the footlights
That still flicker. Curtains fall
But not as woven damask,
Just an expanding absence
Surrounding aching presence.

The boy used to losing legs
To breaks and anesthetics
Understands misfortunes' strokes
As personal bereavements,
Body lost from awareness.
Awareness lost from body
Loses awareness. Watch this.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


The ashes in the hydria
Contained an almond-shaped
Gold leaf inscribed with nonsense signs
Such as GAPEDON upside down.

The person who became the ash
Or that person's conspecifics,
Relations, coreligionists
At least, were clinging to belief

That belief might yet save the day.
Somebody had been to Egypt,
Seen the bodies wrapped up with prayers,
Instructions for the motionless

Moving to invisible worlds
Invented for narrative's sake
So that stories could continue
And fade with distance without end.

The cults of hermetic wisdom
(Only the clever get past death,
Whispering secrets to themselves
That amount to do this, say that,

Another game within life's game)
Started sticking incantations
On the tongues of the dead, in urns
With their ashes, oddly telling

The deceased what was to be said,
Not speaking on the ghost's behalf,
Ninety generations ago.
Still sounds good to me. GAPEDON.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Human Being Human Doing

Whether in whispering another line
Of identically numbered syllables
Or in felling a forest, a human

Is feeling useful to other humans,
Which is pretty much all humans can do
To assuage the terror of not being,

Which is not the terror of not being
But the terror of knowing, moments before,
Nothing will never and has never been.

Or maybe not. Terror is a toothache
The tongue returns to probe, returns to probe,
Not the abscess of tooth or probe or tongue.

The usefulness of verses lumbering,
Tongues tonguing, humans humanizing was
Stuff and nonsense human dreams were made of.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


We are what leaves, when we want to be
What's left. "I'd go back to Senegal
And be king, if I win," said the man

In line to buy lottery tickets.
Analogy implies a likeness,
Most often only superficial,

As syllabic verse in English is
To rhymed and regularly metered:
Not tennis with the net down; sagging.

What we have here runs too deep for that,
Better seen as true homology,
A rhetoric derived by descent

From ancestral similarity,
One form giving rise to the other,
Ignorance conjured from the desire

That wisdom can never satisfy.
To be the king of where I came from
Requires my disbelief I'm from there

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Standing Beside the White Cypress

The need to explain the world
The desire to belong to known rules
The agony to confront the end
This is the work of memory

And memory has many forms
Not all in the thoughts of the living
The children of Earth and starry sky
Water in a lake of symbols

Having been allowed to drink
You will continue on the road
But you cannot carry the lake yourself
Who you are where you are from

Only the gold leaf neatly folded
Tucked into your ashes
Empty skull or earthenware
Floats across and is memory again

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

And This, This Is Life!

It was a strange business. While doing
Nothing he worked, and while he worked
He did nothing. The sun outside

The convalescent window lit
Reams of previous centuries'
Observances of the going

By the gone. Solitude humming
With golden dust-mote ghosts, symbols
Glowing or absorbing the light,

Little thickets of cracked black sticks
That he knew were not alive, or
Were they, being transformable

By falling light and living brain?
Are the ghosts, like the genes, machines
Or in the machine, or living

Waves of converse conversations
Creating the machinery?
He wished he could consult them all.