Saturday, December 31, 2016

Become Like One of Us

Burn the libraries, erase the disks,
Clean off the epigenomes. Get wise.
Outside our observable patch, things

Could be very different. I don't know.
Neither does any other pronoun.
That's where the rhetoric got clever.

Wasn't that knowledge was dangerous.
Wasn't couldn't become one of us.
Was we were already one of us.

Friday, December 30, 2016

What Is Not Here Is Found Nowhere Else

Years ago, on the Monk's Bridge,
I threw in with the Faeries,
Said my hellos to Themselves,
And have lived with the strangeness,
Sweet, terrible strangeness, since.
What I mean: one embraces
Randomness, calls all twists "World."

Thursday, December 29, 2016

One-Daughter Dads

Are common in New Denver,
Old ones, no sons, faint careers.
We show up with our daughters
Skipping, solo, around us
Shuffling through late middle age,
To birthday parties, dances,
School, market, swimming lessons,

Marsh, his daughter Aurora,
Miles and his daughter Della,
Ray, in straw hat, with Jasmine,
And me with my Sequoia.
None of us know what to do
With our coincidences,
Save fold our arms, shrug and smile.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

This Is the Work of Memory When You Are about to Die

Unsystematic, idiosyncratic, serendipitous
Events are all your life consisted of, all life consists of now.

In the middle of early morning dreams of murky failure
You rise, gills laboring, trying to surface through memories

Terrible and insubstantial as early morning air.
You push them aside, those clutching gasps that wish dreams, forget.

It's okay. You have been reassembled from nothing
Once again. You open your eyes with another gasp.

The fiction of you reassembles, the workshop
Of memory below the photic zone churns up

Semirandom, crystallized aspects of you.
You remember yourself, recount your events.

You've no idea if all of them are there,
But too many of them remain to count.

It's okay. It's another day. You
Have to remember enough to live,

Remember those thoughts still in play,
Whatever's new about today.

The music you hear whispers
That a world goes on out there,

That there's nothing in here,
That there's nothing to fear,

That more events come,
That nothing's undone,

That you're aware,
You hear music,

You don't know
What kind, nor

From where.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

An Almanac for the Year 59

Three wooden strips inscribed in ink
Two thousand and seventy-six
Orbits past predicted events
Celestial and otherwise

For the forthcoming rotation
Somewhere in the Tarim Basin,
Wild West, in those days, of the Han.
Without being able to read

What that oasis almanac
Forecast, I'd be willing to bet
A few predictions proved correct.
Mind, they were found in a midden.

Monday, December 26, 2016


One who came from nothing, one
From only speech, I am one
Of those creator mischief
Makers, not the ones behind
The curtains, not the humbugs
Who float away on hot air,
But one of those washed ashore,

Signifying other lands
Might exist unvisited
Or anyway might exist.
My every word has purpose,
If only to keep you close,
Clutching the pulse in your chest,
Anxious for what happens next.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Book of the Watchers

Every angel ever invented
Fell to ground wanton and whispered
Into the mind of a maiden
Or many he was her intended.

Sex and apocalypse are dancers
Pulsing thoughts never untangle.
Here let me help you. Your tango
Serves the needs of inhuman pranksters

Who want you to forget that your flesh
Is rope with which they mend their nets,
Replenishing weirs with fresh souls.
Forlorn, unto lust reason is born.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Meadow Fish

The same way the sea has fashioned
Boats, the lake itself has fashioned
Our strokes. We swim as best we can,

But that's never the point of this
Exercise. What is was what won
But will have to lose in the end.

Even the green lake surrounded
By apparently stately clouds,
Calm as it could be in summer,

Meadow bright, reflecting wildflowers,
Was never a place that we were,
Only glass rhymes slowly turning.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Root Key

Forest hides the woods. Quiet,
The birds sing out noisily,
The eye is a metaphor
That signs for itself. I see
When the wind moves through the leaves
But not when the downward search
Grasps life microscopically,

And all life's microscopic
When it comes to intentions.
I want dreams to answer me.
I want to pose a query
When I'm sitting in the trees.
But I know I can't ask them.
Talking woods hid the tongue's key.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

On the Fourteenth Day of Abu

Sometime around twenty-four hundred
And eighty-one years ago, summer
In the northern hemisphere, Xerxes,

King of kings, Emperor of Persia,
The largest empire the world had seen,
Was killed by his son. That's how it goes.

You're a god until your kid kills you.
Then you're five or six feet of remains,
Rapidly dwindling, bones of a name.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I wake up like the day itself,
A thing that gradually gathers
Some existence through ending some.
It appears I've not disappeared

For good and all just yet. I bet
I'm ready for another life,
One in which I cross more bridges
Than I burn. Away from others

In whose conversations I rot
Away, I decay more slowly,
And one could almost catch my breath
Like an insect out of the air.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


My wife, like many Utahns,
Pronounces it zero-scape.
I like the implication,
Turning lawns into nothing,
Cultivating absences,
Painting emptiness as is.
The null set's not so easy.

Let the desert bear forth zilch,
The mulch be rich with nada.
Let the rose fly with the worm,
Be gone in the howling storm.
Given the universe
Is expanding, what is it
Expanding into? Nothing.

Monday, December 19, 2016


The Earth, his foot-stool, is
Entirely ruined.
Ah, Adam, 'adamah,
You're in love with the sky,
The blue infinitive
Absolute. To be been.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Nascimento Mori

I've been where you're going, but
You've never been where I am.
I can't report back to you,
Which makes both of us sorry.
Over and over, writers,
Painters, prophets, and doctors
Squint to compose the unknown,

Which remains, nevertheless,
Unknown. Imagination's
Forever Moses, peeking
At a promise. No, not that.
Imagination studies
How darkness falls where it can't
Go. It's the falling that's hard.

I went to sleep in the small,
Blank house of Senya Mori,
Under broad green leaves, green roof.
What he himself might have said
As to how similar sleep
Might be to what he does now,
He couldn't, I couldn't say.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Illud Tempus

The dynamics of poetry
Are the same as the dynamics
Of dreaming. Not just rhythmic, but

Choppy, abrupt, as ocean waves
Are rhythmic and choppy, abrupt.
We only seem, and only we

Seem, to return, return. What
Turns below whatever little boat
We float is the never, never the same.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Wood Route

What road is this? I asked her.
The root through the wood, she said.
All the way through? I asked her.
The only way through, she said.
I scanned the trees overhead.
Surely there's no single root
Shared by the whole wood, I said.

Think these are trees? she asked me.
Competing species, I said.
Think the twigs talk? she asked me.
As much as we do, I said.
Then you go on up ahead,
She laughed, and ask them the way.
I'm going under, she said.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sauquoit Yeah

Wolf's dog DNA and gods flow
Through the lineal veins of culture,
Milleniums of carpe diems, subfossil
Capuchin stone hammers and anvils.
Of botany in the apostolic age, all I can rage
Is, Madam, I'm damn metaphoricious. Alu!
Alu! Alu! Hallelujah! The human genome
Makes no sense. It resembles us.
Nearshore. Nefesh. Tech bogey
Technology is driving its own iron
Car to the costume ball and the green
Evolution's absolution, simultaneously,
A good talking to, spoiled.
Let me tell you something, something
Secret. Nothing's truly simultaneous,
Truly it is.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Those Not Imagined Are Carefully Observed

Deer stones, griffins, flying stags:
We never quite caught the soul
We so wanted to become,

The pure representation
Of the symbol as symbol,
Too impossible for us.

Like the so-called face of God,
Like the so-called nameless one,
The symbol cannot be seen

In a representation
Of itself, being wholly
The power of representing

Something else, as nothing is
Literally represented,
Everything is imagined.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Aphros Noos Sema

An account very authentic,
And yet unaccountably faked,
Public, unfulfilled ambition
Simultaneously trickled,
Oblivious of its failure,
Down priest's reed, historian's pen:
I was meant to go home again.

Home being unknown origin
Or unknown destiny, the same,
I've been getting mostly nowhere,
Stranded and sandwiched in between
Two enormous, shifting deserts,
Hunger and signification,
Want and meaning, lust and seeming,

My parents. They made me. I am
A brief transit through which they pass,
Love and lying, flesh as the past
Posting its tricky messages
Like these fresh declarations nailed
To the rafters proclaiming, I
Have not consumed all, so spare me.

Monday, December 12, 2016


"Such a search for the place of ultimate
Inexpense leads to either paradise
Or death." Or both but somewhat earlier

Than otherwise. There is no otherwise.
Also, ultimate expense likewise leads
To either paradise or death. I will

Either find paradise before I die,
Or I will not. Fortune vanishingly
Unlikely will come to me overnight

Or it will not. I'll get away with this
Habit I have that spends what I don't have
Or I won't. We're immortal or we're not.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sucker Hole

"I got lost inside a dream
That left me captain of none
And nothing." Making a world
For myself, oui, qui est bien,
I waited in a meadow
Surrounded by conifers
Where nothing seemed to happen.

Occasionally, the wind
Picked up enough to whisper
Through the compliant branches
And tease apart sodden skies
So that a blue sucker hole
Could let through a shaft of sun
That turned woods and meadow gold.

Occasionally, a grouse,
Murmuring and harrumphing
To herself, appeared briefly
Along the path through the grass,
Or a territorial squirrel
Would madly exert itself
In convulsive chittering.

That was it. No mammals showed,
Other than me and the squirrel.
The storm never broke. No trees
Blew over. Even the bees
And the flies rarely bothered
To bother my attention.
I wanted never to leave.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Back when your Mama launched me
On this weird lyric sequence
That I gradually fused
With the equally hoary

Forms of the commonplace book,
Diary, and short essay,
All this sheer wool gathering
And idle navel gazing,

Your navel was still glowing
From when I'd neatly tied it
With the help of the midwife
Just a few weeks earlier.

Today you turn six years old.
I suspect it won't be long
Before you can understand
What I've struggled to compose

Better than I can myself.
For now, you interrogate,
Glancing over my shoulder,
Miffed when I tap on my screen.

"What are you doing there now?
Put the phone away, Papa!
I want you to play with me."
By the lakes where you were born

A people once lived that fixed
Importance to the number
Six. Not even descendants
Keen to remember know why.

Why do we find importance
In any abstract notion?
There is no absolute six,
No one left to worship it.

There will be no poetry,
No me, no such distractions
As time and identity
Soon enough. You're right. Let's play.

Friday, December 9, 2016

What Animates the Otherworldly Dead

To impress the observer
With the power of the dead man
And, therefore, his lineage,

Stratified societies
Specialized in well-built tombs,
Kurgans and mausoleums,

Pyramids, that sort of thing,
Which, once the lineage ceased
Or ceased to be powerful,

Served as no more than targets
For grave robbers, pasturage
For nimble goats, holy grails

For the archeologists,
And so forth. See what I mean?
Power is always symbolized

By the powerless icons
Of the living descendants.
Dig deeper. Symbol's power.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What Followed Is Part of a Later Narrative

The final sealing of the tomb
Never preceded burial
Of as many slaves and horses,
Chariots and charioteers
As the lineage could afford
To lose, compel to sacrifice.
What does this tell us about us?
I don't have that much confidence

In the applicability
Of any form of righteousness
Beyond local ability
(Temporally local, that is)
To coordinate disparate
Organisms of our species
In elaborate productions.

The bodies we scatter behind,
The remains we ourselves become
Are . . . What? Ghosts of coral polyps?
Topmost film of stromatolites?
Our story never ends with us.
The story never ends for us.
The ending is always a trick,
A pause for breath in the burning.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What You See Is But a Sample of the Secretary

The blood that lit this mind was raised on sugars
From the gut, oxygen from the fiery air,
But you will notice its lusts are incomplete.

The pulse comes from the relentlessness of sun
Dragging chains of local, artificial light
Through narrow corridors of zeros and ones,

And any pulse, by feigning repetition,
Making it seem as if moments could return,
Filters time by changing its pace, breaking it

Into edible pieces. The rest is waste,
Glorious, inevitable, howling waste,
The sluggishness of dusk, the cry in the mire

That divides the infinite into what's read,
The cloudy day's sudden shafts of misleading
Revelations, and what's left out, rotten nights.

A diary is to a life as fossils
Are to a species, and this you see, old friends,
Offers itself to you as type specimen.

Laugh if you like. Disdain if you like. You are
Courtiers of daylight, tall as trees, well-dressed.
The complete secretary will come later.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Who is triumphant hesitates to say.
Makir is to maker as fakir is to faker.
Something has happened. Something

Has shifted. But who will draw me out,
Now that I have nothing more to say
For myself? I saw a sign that I misread.

It was a pyramidal book title. In English
Numbers and names can exchange clothes.
"One / a.m. / no one," I thought it said.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Desire for Line

How sad he, Iskander, must have been
To die without having established
A permanent line around the world.

I have never had the chance to go
Visit the land of wolves and tigers.
I'm lucky to see elk, moose, or bear.

I'd be disappointed anyway
By the actual countryside named
With words suggesting more terrible

Woods and more magical denizens
Than any forest actually holds.
I want a line I can step outside.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Scythian Triad

Space is a fiction that time generates,
Or, more directly, that change generates.
Tombs are the stories we read in reverse,

Reminding us how change changes with change.
Once someone's dead, we can try to keep them
Still, giving them all of the goods they had,

Packing them in armories of weapons,
Wardrobes of fancy clothes, mansions of graves
Rich with animal art, suggesting life

Itself can be stylized, rigidified,
Immortal for being thus arrested.
But the times change around the grassy mounds

Concealing the slowly rotting remains
Of the temporal imagination.
Brother, without me, there'd be only charm.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dzungarian Mirage

The city was a strange spectacle, morning
After the storm. Gods had become parasites
Rather than hosts. All the imperfect things fled

Themselves and the westernmost bent and crumpled
Into the lake of heaven's deserted shore.
We are almost at the end of the endless

Repetition of the beginnings of things.
Compassion demands we feel for each other
What the shipwrecked, storm-tossed, and drowned never feel.

I have heard persons who pretended to give
A faithful account of that terrible night.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Darkness of All Allegory

Sweet Dreams is an actual business,
An inn on the shore of the Slow Lake.
I know the couple who own the place,
And they're nice enough, although they want
An awful lot to let you stay there.
And who would not pay well for sweet dreams?
Those who know they can't be guaranteed,
Those careful not to characterize
Anything good or bad beforehand.

The darkness of all allegory
Lurks in the shadow selves of meaning,
The way a word can turn and cut you
With irony for holding it fast,
For pressing too hard. Ask Goody Close
Or any others in the forest
Following a pastoral devil.
Ask yourself why you had that nightmare
Asleep in suddenly hungry waves.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Word, User of Freaks

Concept, idea, norm, meme, phrase,
Script, behavior, mimesis:
The predators name themselves;
The prey practice camouflage,
And vanish into the hides
That they would appear to be.
Is that shadow me that stalks

Or did that shadow eat me?
I watch myself carefully,
Notice how my daughter mimes
First one friend then another.
The smallest stereotype
Intrigues me. They are moving
Through us, ingesting. Hide me.