Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Impossible Year 2017

Has not finished without me.
Papa, Grandpa, and Daughter
Sat at the kitchen table
Cleaning avocado pits,

Poking each with four toothpicks 
And suspending them
In water glasses.

Grandpa read the instructions
For growing avocados,
And Daughter read the cautions
That the trees might not bear fruit.

Papa scrutinized the roots
Of plants already started.
Roots come after origins.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

In the End Was the Word

An excess of devilish
Was brought to bear on the scheme

Of a species capable
Of cumulative culture.
One suspects God, the idea,

Preexisted to come up
With the idea of ideas
Having their own tournament
In the brains of chosen beasts.

How like an idea
To treat flesh as a vector
For ideas to propagate,
How like an idea of God.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Hermitage of the Immortals

A tiny box in the woods
Where unforgivable sins
Live quietly together,

Randomness, uncertainty,
Truth, and deviltry.
Their names are changing
Constantly, and we won’t name

The names they’re called currently
For fear of being accused
Of sympathy for what is

They take turns with the cooking.
They play board games at evening.
They wake up every morning.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Dare all you care, you couldn’t
Possibly disturb
The universe. Disturbing,

Isn’t it, to consider
How rhetorical
Any of your choices are?
So you don’t consider it.

Better to deride
As lazy cowards,
Self-interested nihilists,
Those who never manifest

An interest in the question.
There’s a reason why the best
Lack all conviction.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Poetry is a failure
Of the imagination
To escape its origins
In earlier poems,

Older imaginations.
I mean poetry tout court.
But so what? Life’s a failure
Of the imagination

To render moot extinction.
Failure’s what we have
To work with, our metier

As living, dying beings.
Poetry’s failure’s gorgeous
As scattered peacock feathers.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lamplighter’s Lullaby

The way the world is,
It’s hard to accept being
Small. Sometimes things go as well
As you could expect.

Sometimes they go all to hell
But you didn’t will them well.
You didn’t send them to hell.

You only fluttered,
Moth banging around a lamp,
Likely to be caught
Unless the lamp switched back off,

No idea what the lamp was
Or why you’d destroy yourself
To get nearer to that light.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Ghost of Christmas Isn’t

Don’t describe the day
Or, if you must, go easy
On the adjectives.

It’s snowing inside the dream
That harbors your awareness.
None of the dead know they’re dead.
None of the living forgive

Life, really forgive
Life, say it’s alright
For it to be life
Exactly as it is life.

No one on the road tonight
As flakes swirl though the streetlight.
Once you know this, you forgive.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

End Illusion

The future dictates the past.
The past doesn’t know it yet.
Once it does, it will.

The future is chivalrous.
The past gets all the credit
That what happened did.

Sometimes we almost feel it,
The magician’s black-gloved hand
Producing the coin of us
Like moonrise from night’s mountains.

We’re misdirected
So easily, however.
Distracted by the white glow
Of being, we never know.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


What if Swift’s flying island
Wasn’t floating but falling,
In for the long fall,

The way that the moon
Has been this whole time falling
Spin by spin away from earth
Out into eternity

Or might as well be?
Ordinary life
Is like that flying island

Falling slowly as the moon.
Tonight, another evening,
Crescent moon through the window,
And the ground coming closer.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Pass It On

“Words never had it so good.”
Declared a highway billboard
With a picture of Shakespeare
Over I-15 northbound,

One of a series of such
Billboards meant to be

Featuring Lincoln, Einstein,
John Wayne, Mother Theresa,
Et alia. I

Have to admit the notion
Of words with motivations,
Exploiting Shakespeare
And other, lesser victims,

Appeals to me, even if
It’s not what the sign writers
Intended, suckers

Who thought they could control words,
Words that were right, after all.
A creative human brain,

Paradise for parasites,
Is a great place for phrases
To nest for success,
But what became of poor Will?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Coal for the Solstice

This is the winter
And this is the chair.
Sit by the window.
Do not despair.

Others fare better,
But that’s only fair.
Others are better.
Do not despair.

You can write sunlight,
Embroider the air.
You can parse dust motes.
Do not despair.

There’s ice outside you.
There’s fire inside you.
Burn your despair.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Life Is a Language Barrier

Priests and prophets often aren’t
Terribly fond of poets.
Will you follow the poets
Into hellfire, faith?

Tyrants and philosophers
Often like us even less.
Will you follow your poets
Into the gulags?

Science has no need of us.
We’re good for quotes; otherwise,
Scientists couldn’t care less.
Why follow our ignorance?

We compose what can’t be said
By those who can’t raise the dead.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Home Is an Infinite Subdivision

What has happened to today?
It unmade itself
By being, by happening,

Everywhere and all at once
But simultaneously
Nowhere, at no point the same.

Imagine drowning
In Lake Immortality.
That’s what this day is doing.
That’s what every moment does.

In fact, there are no moments,
Only our sporadic yelps,
What was that? Wait! What was that?

The world is a hole
In the middle of the world.

Monday, December 18, 2017

For the Great God Ammons

Tape still spins out of the year,
Archie, although what I’ve done
With it is both much

Less and more continuous
Than your single scroll.
Days need poetry

Free, formal, or gimmicky
For me to feel I’ve fixed them
In my glaring stare.

More than twenty-five hundred
Suns I’ve documented sins,
Now another one.

It’s cold in Salt Lake City,
Here near the turn of the year.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


A celebrity chef said,
“To eat is to live,
To live is to die.”

Her point was eating
Encompasses existence,
So to study food
Was to study everything.

The same could be said
For breathing or excreting,
Encompassing all of life.

And if to write is to live?
You can see where this is going.
Please forgive these poems
Trying to capture dying.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


When someone says, kill the lights
Or kill the engines,
They just mean switch them off now,
No homicide intended.

And when I say, kill the world,
I mean the same thing.
I don’t want slaughter.
Slaughter is what the world does,

Moment by moment
By continuing.
It’s slaughter I’d like to stop.

Just let it stop. Let it pause,
Turn it off for now.
But it can’t. It goes. We go.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Nuances of a Theme by Stevens

Why would I write about pain
When it can’t be understood,
When I can’t feel how yours feels,
And you can’t feel how mine would?

Well, no worse than memories,
Each really only one’s own,
And if there’s one thing human,
It’s sharing what can’t be shared.

Through town and holiday lights,
Through the thick immersion haze,
I blew a kiss to the one

White star visible above
Slumping bedroom window blinds.
I wanted to say

That we blew the kiss, not I,
But there is no we for me
Anymore that is not just

That compound, multi-species,
Lonely, crowded memory.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Hermit’s Faith

The cosmos does not reward
Faith directly, as a rule,
But faith still has its value

In ecosystems of you.
Those who have faith carry on.
And you’d be surprised—I, too,

Have faith; I, too, carry on.
Daily, I renew the faith
That I built up yesterday,
The faith consumed in the night.

Daily, I renew day’s dreams
That the night’s dreams chased away.
Want to know what those dreams are?
You’ll have to guess. I won’t say.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Schrödinger’s Poet

I wonder. If I erased
All the honesty,
The candor about lying,
The love and the doubt,

If I self-censored
These ruminations
On implausibility,

If these words and I
Stopped fencing, wrestling, waltzing
Through the woods inside this skull,

If I built a carapace
Of flattery for the facts
Of this changeling universe,
Would I even half exist?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In What Condition Am I?

He trembles at the absence
Of the life that made his life,
The freedom that made his joy,
The child, his best companion.

Edward Abbey’s juniper
Comes to mind, from that passage
On uprooting trees with chains
Where Abbey observes

He doesn’t know if the tree
Is actually suffering
But he does know that it takes

A long time to die.
It’s hard to tell: uprooted,
Dying or injured, alive?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Miraculous Fiction

The impossible
Becomes possible
The moment that it happens.

What’s truly impossible
Is for the impossible
To happen and yet
Stay impossible.

Except! In human fictions,
From folktales to sacred texts,
From comic books to massive
Multiplayer online games,

The impossible happens
Again and again but stays
Impossible the next day.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

To His Daughter Turning Seven

Motion remains in motion
So absolutely,
It’s the one real miracle

We can dream of being still.
Your father waits in his chair,
As still as he is able,
A body known for patience,

To feel how lives are flowing
Through, through, around him,
Memory stretching

Like a cat inside his thoughts,
From the morning of your birth
To your phone call this morning,
And your future lights the wall.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

An Old Friend for Dinner

I had a nice talk
With my afterlife
The other day. Me the ghost
Comforted me the body,

Explaining how things would be.
It was especially nice
That the visit came
From one of my older ghosts.

When the young ghosts visit me,
They’re still at loose ends,
Unused to being unreal.

But the old ghosts travel well.
They know how time stirs the pot.
They smile at the dinner bell.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Plausibility Distortion

Any wish will warp the world.
How wisdom wounds us,
How knowing the truth

And accepting it
And stating it openly
Drops the portcullis

Between us and that meadow
Filled with flowers we can see
Out there, past the dungeon’s moat.
Only foolishness saves us

From immediate despair,
And the wisest among us
Are often the most feckless.
Wisdom’s fatal; fools can live.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Marching on Roads of Bones

Nothing is worth anything except
As it’s happening, but anything
Is worth everything as it’s happening.

As it happens, we all march
On roads of bones, of limestone,
Memories, and metaphors,

Even those of us who don’t
Look down. What is happening
Is everything ever was
And everything we will lose,

But if it’s happening, know
Nothing has been lost
Because forever’s always
Happening as you read this.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Le baiser de la fee

If I listen and listen
Carefully to your despair,
I wonder, will you listen

To mine or anyone’s but
Yours? Oh, I wish we were so
Able to break our circles,
That even though, even though

We must be tied to bodies,
Parasites of words,
We could forgive each other
And always absorb despair.

The supernatural kiss
Themselves bestow us
Should open our ears to care.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Nothing Is Nothing

Night’s silent flyers
Hunt by listening,
Long-eared bats consuming moths.

You put a hole in the world
Wherever you want
Vacancy hidden or seen.

I thought of a small black square
Cut out of the air,
A child’s height above pavement
Outside the law offices

Of the last mind to help me
Confront stone reality.
Put your eye to emptiness,
You will see nights starred with lights.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Through the House of Forever

A cloud caught pink light
As it lowered tendrils down
Into that patchwork valley
I’ve always admired, somehow.

The geometric army
Of great blue and white mountains
Looked set to march through its smoke.

I said, I am happy here
And never afraid,
Not because of who’s with me—
It’s the valley that’s with me.

Shadowed landscape comforts me,
Grace to which I don’t belong
I will belong to someday.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Care Weather

You, someone somewhere,
Every five minutes I checked
The window to look for snow.

I knew as I descended
From a soul who could have been
To a soul who never was
That you’d existed somewhen,

Hat brim down against the storm,
Hair tucked under your collar,
The ghost of who might have been.

I stood on the lamp-lit porch,
Staring into snow's shadows.
If I ever caught your face,
I could care for you again.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Reverie on Frozen Pavement

We could dream about walking
Barefoot in thick grass
And kneeling down by a stream.

Or we could dream when we were
Swimming in the lake,
Sunning on the shore.

Strange, how dreaming makes nothing,
And yet our experience
Creates everything.
Objective reality

Isn’t what’s outside of us.
It’s the fact that we can dream
But can’t dictate what we sense.
We create truth, uncontrolled.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Possente Spirito

Only by nostos
Can Odysseus escape
The nightmare of his story.

Only by looking
Back when he shouldn’t
Can Orpheus discover
All mistakes are tragedies.

But my heroes are confused.
Odysseus has returned,
And there’s no Penelope,

Never really was,
While Orpheus, looking back,
Aches to join Eurydice.
Somewhere, there’s a dancing child.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Catastrophe I Was for the Past . . .

An old friend wrote to welcome
Me back from the dead,
Back from “the catastrophe

That you were for the past year,”
And I wondered when
That catastrophe began,

How catastrophes begin.
Sorrow, joy, and failure all
Have a way of showing up
At once to ring the doorbell,

But kindness and wickedness
Issued the invitations
Long since, and answer the door.
Who else has been invited?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Joy Is Infectious

I can’t shed the parasites,
But I have bugs, they have bugs,
And I am someone else’s

Bug. Here’s what I think:
Every form of life
Is a parasite
On the chemistry of earth.

We are all the same,
From the virus in my throat
To the emperor at court,

From the binary
Code to God’s philosophy.
We all devour each other.
Let’s love ourselves just the same.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holiday in Imagination

Sunlight in the room
With the Christmas tree,
No snow outside yet this year,

And the refrigerator
Hums, I would say happily
If the facts allowed.

I am the only
Emotion in this setting,
House full of house plants,

No one else, at the moment,
But me in my afterlife,
Listening to trucks outside,

Ghost who craved this benison,
Haunting bare reality.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rehab Two

Some people are good
And sturdy. Others can leave
Really easily.

I just manage to break things
And rehabilitate them
A bit, again and again.

My brain finally accepts
It’s kin to my skeleton,
As twisted and scarred,

And that a moral x-ray
Would show badly healed fractures
Ignored, improperly set.

I won’t pretend that’s okay.
But I’m not leaving today.

Rehab One

Let’s say you had a setback.
Let’s say you had to face facts.
You’ll never get back

To where you were yesterday,
To what used to be okay
And nothing more, just okay.

There’s a crimped trajectory
To crawl, called recovery,
You can’t track by reverie.

You can gasp and creep along,
Refuse to accept all’s wrong,
Find what’s left that’s strong,

Or you can sink down thinking
It’s all down from here. Don’t think.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Status Quo Ante

I’m done with the previous
State of affairs, and in turn
The previous has finished

With me. It’s always the case.
There never was a moment
Reset another moment,

But change is cumulative,
Then swiftly overwhelming,
And after abrupt ruptures
One still tastes the great before.

The future is created
By recreating lost pasts.
Survivals save the journey
To forever more new pasts.

Friday, November 24, 2017


The world holds its breath.
Grandpa Joe takes Sequoia
And Papa to the movies,

An animated fable
About the Day of the Dead.
What’s that memory again?

Sequoia asks her father
In the misty air after
If there really is a land
Of the dead, then assures him

That, even if there isn’t,
She’ll always remember him.
The world holds its breath.
What’s that memory again?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Painted Owl Bedroom

An eerie mildness has reigned
In North America’s west
All autumn, freakishly warm,
Arizona to BC,

The end of the Holocene,
As I live and breathe,
Man lucky enough to be

House guest in a guest bedroom,
Man lucky enough to be
Fed and sheltered penniless,
Man lucky enough to be

Breathing and walking around
With a hundred healed fractures,
Man lucky enough to be

Breathing mild November breeze,
Staring at a painted owl
Staring back at me, that’s me,
Man lucky enough to be.

The end is always coming,
Never remaining the end
By the time it reaches me.

Life and transfiguration,
The painted owl that can’t see
Sees beyond any of these.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sleeping Sequoia

She asked me to sing
And then hum Brahms’ Lullaby.
She slipped into dreams
Almost immediately.

I hummed a while more
Anyway, soothing myself,
Remembering the long nights

Nearly comatose
Beside her crib, singing hours,
Afraid to stop or she’d wake,

The dark rooms, the rented homes
In remote desert valleys,
The mortgaged home in Zion,
The thousands of lives of life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

In the Casita, After the War

You could see the stars outside,
Shining fixed and eternal,
Eternally deceitful,
If you unwound my window.

Just a dozen weeks ago,
A cosmic collision came
And bent our world’s gravity

Just enough to make us look
In the correct direction
And see how uneternal
Celestial spheres can be.

Time shudders with vanquished light.
It only takes a second
To unwind eternity.

His Actual Candle

Was the sunlight emerging
Around his hospital bed
As if morning were climbing
Out of the blankets themselves,

Which, in a reflective sense,
It was, the long fallen light
Not absorbed by the bedclothes
Welling up under eyelids,

His thoughts measuring the waves
As soft, strong, stronger,
And then the whole room glowing,
A backwater excitement,

Daylight in this remote world
That was his, this only life
He would ever be or know,
His candle and stage, this show.

And Nothing Will Ever Be That Hasn't Been

This is all the life there is.
There are no comparisons.
There never was another,
Never will be another.

The sunlight on lined paper
Illuminates the spider
Of a handwritten idea.

There's only this life or else
Nothing, and all that I know
Of nothing is forgetting,
Surgery, and nightly sleep.

Life's the sum total of life
And there's no trading it in.
I am just what I have been.

Group Therapy

James tells the story of how
A man picked him up hitching
And became his friend,

A man with a farm,
A tree-removal business,
Peacocks, a bearded dragon,

Horses, and a wood chipper
In central New Mexico.
James worked for that man a month.

Now he's homeless, but he hopes.
If he can just make it through,
He can get back to that ranch.

Ed tells the story of how,
One time down in the coal mine,
He had just finished his lunch

And had stood up from the bench
To walk across the mine floor
When the chamber behind him

Collapsed and the wave of air
Alone knocked him flat.
He's unemployed, but he hopes

That when he gets out of here
He can go back to being
A mine-safety inspector.

Kris tells the story of how
She fell in love with playing
Native American flute

And eventually taught it
As a spiritual subject
At the extension college.

Now she deals with macular
Degeneration and fears
Blindness will end her teaching.

But she hopes, when she gets out,
She'll still find a way to play.
The social worker thanks her,

And we, the society
Of those who survived trying
To die, nod encouragement.


Patrick is a black Latino man.
He came to us from LA and the gangs.
He has a tracheotomy to breathe.
He has a sense of humor about the wheeze.

He says he has a hard time seeing eye to eye.
These Utah Mormons make him feel shy.
They're all so white and cheerful and polite.
He wears blue scrubs now like the rest of us.

Blue is the dominant color for all our crew:
Lori from the rez not far from Chinle,
Isolde from the tiny St. George club scene,
Montana in his permanent stoner smoke screen

Even without a smoke. Blue haze,
Blue days, blue nurses in their own scrubs,
Navy, blue techs in their paler scrubs like sky,
Patrick breathing through his bright blue tube.

We play a game for recreational therapy
Led by Mary, who does not wear blue.
When the clue is "popular," Montana chooses my card, "squid."
I raise blue arms in triumph. Patrick grins and nods his head.

We're Good for Tomorrow

"The end of the world always the day after tomorrow." ~Albert Belisle Davis

The windows with the most light
On the psych ward floor
Happen to be in the room

I share with young Mike,
A skinny LDS man
In his twenties, so polite,

Clean-shaven, with a young wife
Who's also thin and pretty
Who visits him each evening.

He keeps a copy,
Softcover, new and blue, of
The Book of Mormon

On the desk beside his bed
With his toothbrush and wellness
Workbook. I haven't seen him

Read it yet, and I wonder
What comfort there is in it
For a young man on psych meds.

Joseph Smith could have lived now,
I suppose, and been cared for,
And not spawned new religion.

Those years I taught "Memories
Of West Street and Lepke" now
Make me wish for Lowell's gift

Of the prosodically rich,
Visually exact detail,
"Yammering Abramowitz,

So vegetarian he
Wore rope sandals and preferred
Fallen fruit." Now I've fallen,

Here among the others wrong
Enough to fail at the world,
Lucky enough to survive

To this point, conscientious
Objectors in our own way,
Our haze of lost connections.

Turns out Mike's an X-Ray tech.
He might have x-rayed me once.
His dad died five years ago.

His dad didn't want to go.
But the cancer made him go.
Mike says, "It's wrong I'm healthy

And I feel this way." He saw
A car roll on the freeway
A couple of years ago.

He ran down the embankment.
A woman had been thrown out
And trapped under the wreckage.

She died before she was free.
Mike still looks dazed telling me,
But maybe it's the Prozac.

"I can't sleep. I've seen a lot.
If there's no one to talk to
I feel like my chest's burning."

Over in the common room
Women are talking movies.
"Ever seen Pretty Woman?"

"Guy fixes up the hooker?"
"A lot more rich guys should do that.
You could save a life that way."

Two men are talking Bible,
How Jesus drove the spirits
Into the pigs, how pigs share,

Since then, human DNA.
Mike asked me what I told myself
To try to keep contented.

I told him I'd been thinking
The comparison shouldn't
Be between this existence

And another, better
Life, earlier or future.
I told him it's this, as is,

Versus never anything,
And then I'm okay with this.
He nodded. "Good for today."

My Wellness Tools

Begin by making a list.
If you're a poet,
Avoid epic catalogues.
You might bore yourself to death.

These will be your wellness tools.
You will use these tools.
You will feel the way you want
To feel each day of your life.

You may discover new tools,
Things that you might want to try.
Add them to the list.
Keep the list handy.

What do you feel like
When you're feeling well?
What things do you need to do
Each day to stay well?

Things that you might need to do
Today include: eat, breathe, write
This poem, keep this world.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Kindly Police at Your Bedroom Door

A suicidal poet.
Now there’s a cliche.
You shall know the truth,

And the truth shall make you want
To cease to be me.
The fantasy of being

Able to take your own life’s
The last comfort of control
In case of complete collapse.

The failure to take your life
Is the forfeiture
Of that final fantasy.

Suicide’s not surrender,
The last defiance
Of the overwhelming world.

It’s now you must surrender,
Bit of flesh who failed to go.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Small Hours Alone

Crescent moon over desert.
The human sits, shivering,
Feeling sorry for himself,

Guilty for everyone else,
And incapable
Of reconciling

That canoe-shaped moon
In perfectly wave-like clouds
With his emotions.
The world does not correspond.

It floats along, us in it.
It’s a terrible mistake
To ask mercy of the world
Instead of people.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

White Mountains, Blue Vista, Black Hole

"Black holes are not, as it turns out, places where time ends once and for all; they are objects that exist for some period of time before they eventually disappear."

Always dynamic,
Always finite, everything
Observed, observing,

Long as you don't look, there's hope.
A man living in his car
Hobbles through the coffee shop
And buys a short chai latte

With a fistful of loose change
Scrounged from under his car seats
Then squeezes in a corner,

Opens a laptop,
Logs on to the free WiFi,
And begins to type.

What the hell is he typing?
What could he have left to say?
He hasn't looked yet.

He's holding out hope.
Something is radiating
From his poorly defined form.

He's typing these words
As if he'd never composed
Three thousand earlier poems,
As if he'd never

Stop composing them.
He is still changing.
He'll keep changing still.
So will you. Death, too.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Intersection of Bluebird and Hardscrabble, Arizona

I put words in the mouths of gods
While they put ashes in mine.
I am a terrible human being

But was a passable alien
For a long, long time. Remember
We are all ashes where we come from
And all ashes where we return,

But I'll grant you the story is all
In the middle between the storyless
Dust that started us and the storyless

Dust that we, however just
Or injust our story, must be.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Wisdom of the Moment on the Cliff

The world was wise, wordless and wreckage,
Back when I began this nonsense.
The world is wreckage, wise and wordless still.
But so far I remain, unkind, deceptive, and foolish,
Trying to be wise while mired in words and guilt.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Queen of the Night

The heart is a buried place,
A place buried in a pulse,
A pulse that's hiding, singing
Words I can't quite hear--

I sang as a gift
To a faceless audience.
I sang to defy the fates.
I sang to be a villain,

A low-born rustic
Determined to elevate
My fears and desires.

I am not magic enough
To defy myself.
If I could, I would.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Last Poem to No One

If I could have afforded
The honesty and the time,
I would have summed life
By writing The Book of Lies.

The world needs some truth-telling
About our untruths,
And who better to tell it
Than a pathological

Liar? It's too bad
I won't live to tell the truth
About why and how I lied,

The truth of all lies,
Sitting idly in the moonlight
Just before dawn in the lake.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Don’t Sweat the Resurrection

People imagine
What fun to come back to life.
Listen, I’ve tried it.

I’ve gone to the point of death
And returned to find
Myself eyed suspiciously

By those who'd been depleted
By my continuity.
And what if I’d stayed away?
Well, I couldn’t say,

Except to say I, myself,
Wouldn’t have mourned me
Nor blamed any one of these
Horrified to see me breathe.

Monday, November 6, 2017

After the Fict

It’s already done.
I’m already dead.
So is the student

Practicing pressing wedges
Into clay to neatly tell
The story of Gilgamesh,
Centuries old even then.

It’s already done
But I don’t know the wonder
Of it yet. I doubt

I ever will. The window
I’ve left open to the night
Will be closed by someone else.
I’ll be too rich when I’m gone.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


I can’t find you. Can I swim
To you? If I can’t
I’m doomed to a slower end,
Not a better one.

That’s what it means to be saved,
What it means to save a life
In this world. You’ve postponed death.

The boy who survived Auschwitz
Killed by burglars at ninety.
True story. The couple left
The scene of the spree killing

Alive who died in a crash
Two weeks later. True story.
The attempted suicide

Who leapt from the bridge
And woke in the hospital,
Becoming a crusader
For suicide prevention,

Obit says died of cancer.
I know I sound like the beast
Who knows the end of life’s near,

Who’s resisting the knowledge
As much as the death.
I wish I could swim to you.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Refutation of Bayesian Supernaturalism

For two thousand years and more,
Aristotle’s assertion
Has circulated

That when it comes to stories,
Make sure the consequences
Of your miracles

Follow plausibly,
Given the impossible.
One impossible event
Could falsify that dogma

And everything else.
If the sun paused in the sky
One time, wouldn’t we all die
In consequence? Then none died.

Friday, November 3, 2017


All Death’s birthdays passed me by
And now it’s just November.
Lie down carefully

If you don’t want to get up
Again and again.
The sun on your face feels fine
But what can you do with it?

Time is not a quantity,
No more or less left of it,
But the change creating it

Nibbles off your fingertips.
There’s no good way out of it.
Keats did not cease at midnight
Without pain. But he got there.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

This Is Not the Hand

Not the hand that fed me, or
Not the winning hand?
If the former, I will not
Bite it if I win.

If the latter, I will bite
The dust soon enough.
From the overlook
Behind a desert strip mall

In the USA,
One can peer out like Moses
Over promised shopping lands,

Those box stores and parking lots
And know, even resisting,
This was not the hand.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Man Behind the Event Horizon

I only reasoned
About unreasonable
Things, and saved my unreason
For the obvious.

I always preferred
The unconvincing

To the plausibly
Impossible. So I lost.
So I had to lie a lot,
Plausibly, to keep playing

Without being truly lost,
Only hiding, lost
To me, lost to you.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Today We Fly

When the universe agrees
With our desires and grants them
In full, that’s a miracle.

I knew a woman,
Once, who embraced me
For no good reason,

Just when I wanted her most.
She became my miracle.
Now that I’m almost a ghost,
The universe wants her back.

None of what I want,
She wants, or worlds want for us
Needs to agree, but
I have wings folded in me.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Forge It Yourself

My last night on earth,
We drank beers and ate pizza
By the pergola.

We talked about food,
Good fortune, and land reform.
We talked nonsense, health and death.

We had been carving pumpkins
And they glowed, round as our heads,
Coppered in the fairy lights.

The daughters played in the house,
Drawing characters
And cutting them out.

It was a gentle evening.
We forged it ourselves.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Particular God

Even a monotheist
Like the resilient Roy Moore,
Who wanted to know

His president understood
The nation was founded on
Faith in “a particular

God,” could give the game away.
Even if there’s only one
You believe holy,

You recognize contenders
And pretenders are out there.
The same with me and this world:

Even if I’m fairly sure
This is what there is,
There are pretenders out there.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Any Last Requests

How do I pray, Kumugwe?
How do I ask for your help?
Teach me how to pray,

Here in the desert,
Far from your underwater
Kingdom of copper.

Here I have nothing but stones
To provide for me,
Offer the way of the saint.

I am nothing like a saint,
Kumugwe. I love
Your octopus face,

Your collecting obsession.
Share with me. Teach me to pray.

Friday, October 27, 2017


We discussed our dreams.
We discussed our lives.
We tried to make sense
Of sense’s senseless cosmos.

We scooped and broad-brushed
With palettes of strong colors
When we painted our stories
Into a corner.

The world said one thing
In myriad, random waves
We interpreted in ways

Made them seem something other.
The world said one thing.
We said it was our mother.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Life is a debt death collects.
We never exist
And we’re never real
Even though we are,

Because we emerge
From nonexistence
Borrowing mind
And lose it all when we go.

It matters while it matters,
Then none of it ever was,
None of it ever will be.

These lines will fade from the screen
Unread, never having been.
The last you’ll see won’t be me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


There are those people who say
It is possible to pray
And get an answer.

I know a few who insist
They need only manifest
To get what they want.

I need to know how this works.
I’m down to my last deceit.
I’m asking the universe,
Have mercy on me.

I’m writing this on the air,
Putting it out there,
Something must align with me,
Answer want, forgive my needs.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lair Saloon

Who rules from the shadows, rules
As a shadow. What is wrong
With a shadow land?

It only indicates light,
And anyway, even caves
Are porous to waves

Of sufficient wavelengths, waves
For which any one of us
Is as air to blue.
I will rule from the shadows

When I am not I
Enough to blink frantically
And look away from the sun,
The one who flinched at high noon.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dr. Tyrell’s Death

Either this cosmos is real
And wicked enough to be
Worthy of immolation,
Or it is phony,

A kind of bubble
Blown on who knows what backdrop,
And worthy of ridicule,
Abandonment, ignoring,

I can’t decide which.
I’m not real myself,
Phrases pretending

To be me, saying
Yes, you could go, but
You won’t make it home.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Among the People Known as Bauls

Somewhere around here,
At this point in time,
There’s a sect something like me,

Their retreat in the mountains,
Their souls in their teeth.
Oh no there isn’t.

I’m a faith of one,
A true believer in doubt
Who never lets go of hope,

A martyr to destruction
That’s from saying yes,
What the hell, let the fairies

Of the future find a way
To prove their true existence
By saving me from today.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Strangely Consoling

Dark poetry’s been to me,
The Cranes and the Dickinsons,
The blood-jetting Plaths,

The wry tergiversations,
Solemn tunk-a-tunks,
Mock mockeries of Stevens,

“Gret big liar” Sterling Browns,
Frosts caught in encroaching trees,
Bishops losing everything,
Melvilles who can’t sleep,

And those just a few,
And just of Americans.
All I hoped to learn? To be
Strangely consoling in turn.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Everything Is Older Than You Think It Is

Numbers, random, uncontrollable
That we have contracted to respect
And to use to determine our just
Deserts, reward me now. Sing the song
Of the unlikely, the nonmiraculous
Wonder of a broken gambler’s redemption.
At the pub, a man with an American accent,
Roughly midwestern, asked his companions
What exactly was Washington DC. A state?
No? A territory? And where exactly, relative
To Virginia? Who says what we don’t know
Will kill us? He had to be at least seventy
And robust as a lion when he stuffed
His white mane into his motorcycle helmet.
Healthy, well-fed, moneyed ignorance is bliss.
I am none of those things. I am an old poem.
My own heart is like the dove that flees
The hawk. No, my heart is the hawk
In a landscape without doves, the hawk
Who no longer cares to fly, who scans
The latest sky for the script he read there
Hundreds, thousands of years before him.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Everything Is Dangerous

Truth’s made me reckless.
I appear anything but,
I know, sitting on a bench

In a nearly empty park
On a bright morning.
The way I move is cautious,

But the truth is I can’t feel
Distinctions between the hard,
Icy things that could harm me
And decisions that kill me.

I can’t even feel
Sure decisions do kill me.
It seems like they’re doing the job,
But here I am to write this.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Slotted Spoon

A human who doesn’t cook,
Not at all, wouldn’t know how,
Shouldn’t be reading

Poems and short stories
In which narrators
Hold symbolic cutlery
While making delicious meals.

The significance
Of an implement that lets
Juices through but holds solids

Must be metaphorical,
But how? Some of us
Only understand absinthe
Rituals, not soups or stews.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We’re Not Here Unless We Don’t Belong Here

A row of pillars
Eroding into hoodoos
On the side of a mountain,

Evenly spaced, squared,
Look like faceless versions of
The famed Easter Island heads.

There’s the world for you,
Anything humans can do
It can do faceless,

Making me suspect
Our faces themselves
Are really faceless.

But if it’s true faces lie,
Then lying’s part of that truth.
It’s past time I weren’t alive.
I think that pillar’s smiling.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Secret Promise

Only one lock worth picking,
Only one trick worth doing,
And no one's done it,

But I think I know how.
Find a way to flay the world,
To get so far past the edge

There's no possibility
Except plummeting free fall,
Then refuse to fall.
Invite death in for dinner

As you hang, midair.
If it takes you like that, you
May come back, but only if
You know the secret I know.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Out of Nowhere Appears the Etymology of Ghost

Origin unknown
And destination unknown,
The soul, from the sea,

Declaims, meaning is being
And being meaning,
But only for the beings

Who happen to be meaning,
Always meaning to desist,
Never able to resist
The lust to mean things.

Things don't lust to mean.
Only meanings lust to thing,
To name themselves as beings
Who're so far only meanings.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Alas! That Day of Mine on Which I Was Destroyed

If the last days lived
Are outside of hospitals

Or prison cells, if no one
Has yet twigged to the event
Like a river’s falls
Roaring just around the bend.

It is possible
To savor life’s dregs
Before setting the bottle down

Gently but for good.
The sun may shine, the body
May still feel pleasure,
And only dread taints the view.

Friday, October 13, 2017

An Art, Not a Science

One of the more interesting
Aspects of illness
Is the struggle of belief

To compel diagnosis
To yield to belief.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me,

But surely the results prove
Something must be wrong.
I have become a fable

Of mysterious decay.
I will stare into your eyes
In a pleading way,

Asking you to name for me
The disease that pardons me.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Last Fall

Three wild turkeys strolled
Down the aspen-lined dirt road,
Made eye contact, turned,

And headed up-slope
Instead, through the brush, then down
Around behind me

And back to the road.
They knew how to be wary—
Not enough, of course,

To escape the end,
But enough to extend things
For a few more days.

Close behind them, what I feared
And wanted waited for me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Keep It Simply Stupid

Doubt one’s life flashes
Before one’s eyes on the way
Down the last second

Before nothingness,
But memories keep flashing

During the drawn out
Preparations for the fall.
Forty years ago

A camp commander
Barked at counselors, “Keep it
Simple, stupid!,” pleased

With his own stupidity.
Simplicity can’t be kept.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Boring and Bizarre

Each life manages to be
Inevitable events
That follow on and from
Any odd coincidence.

The man in the midst
Of leaving a knife-wielding
Wife might escape to a day

In a red canyon in fall,
To which he returns
With a new wife and daughter
Years later, a miracle

To which he returns
Again and again,
Until he returns to leave.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Yet I Complain and No One Hears My Voice

I tried to rehearse.
I walked carefully
Over broken rocks
And black baling wire
Until I could see

Over the cliff’s lip
To confirm it was
Sheer. One or two trees
Pointed up like spears,
But I could miss them.

The delicate part
Would be easing down
And stepping over
To reach the best spot
But not fall too soon.

I swayed near the edge,
Planning the sequence,
Imagining it,
But not testing it,
Not getting too far.

Peak fall colors flared
From the shadowed walls
That narrowed and hid
The bottom from view.
But I heard the stream.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Whole Sky

One piece of advice
Was to do something
With my brokenness.
But I had so many kinds

And each did something
To me I couldn’t
Undo or return.
A seven-dimensional

Fracture: that was me.
I sat under trees
With my broken head,
Heart, legs, arms, ribs, words, and charms,

And I peered into the sky,
Not wanting wanting to die.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Don’t Question the Fox

“Just one second. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to look for fox pajamas or listen to you.” ~ Sarah

Look for the fox pajamas.
They will be with you
Long after I’m gone.

Don’t listen to me.
I’m not who I am.
I’m what breathes when you read me,

The breath of a predator
Who’s just fed, of prey
Who’s just been eaten.

The fox wears no pajamas.
He talks to himself.
He dreams of chickens.

You will find his tail hanging
From a fence as a warning.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Trees Have Sprouted From the Wreckage and Books

I am a ruin,
Which means I should have
A strange attraction,

The way a roofless abbey,
An abandoned cliff dwelling,
A drowned town underwater
Impossible to live in

All manage to draw us in.
May I draw you in?
A ruin is more open

To everything than any
Closed and monitored
Museum. I love the sky.
Fly down, into me, from it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Lake of the Soul, If You Like, Somewhere

The moon throws a huge circle
In the twilight clouds.
Rumor has it, it's done that

Sort of thing before.
Robert Johnson, on Bluetooth,
Sounds about the same as when
I first heard him on cassette

Thirty some years ago and
Fifty years after his death.
Is there any damn

Memory isn't haunting,
However insubstantial?
The crickets are relentless,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Civilization and Its Contents

Oh! Oh! If only
I'd been more, enough, afraid
Of eternal damnation,

Maybe I wouldn't
Be suffering so much now!
Maybe I'd be contented.

What am I saying?
Devotion's never about
Contentment, complacency.
Satisfaction's the lowest

Level of pleasure.
There's no dignity in not
Suffering when everyone
Suffers. Contentment suffers.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


We are a confused species.
We have genital herpes.
We have ginger genes.

We killed cousins we mated.
We still loathe who we've dated,
Hate to say we're apes,

Apes translated. We're freedom
If what freedom means
Is the freedom to enslave.
We are a confused species.

We stand on our precipice
Knowing every life
Came before us went over
Or stayed with us. I hate it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Everybody's Gotta Leave Sometime

Time throws off its robes of terror,
Cloaks itself in clothes of pleasure,

Wrote Judah Ben Halevi,
Forty-five generations

Ago. Time personified
Is like naming a black hole
Penny or Charlie.

That is, you've altered nothing
About the named, just
The dignity of naming.
An epiphenomenon

Of change should never be named
As if it were the daeva,
Asura, Jesus,
Allah, Buddha. The result

Of change is time, caught changing.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

His House Now Stands Empty

I've become a full spectrum
Specter. I'll haunt you,
And I'll haunt them, those, myself.

I'm ready to go,
But although my bags are packed
I'm afraid to board the plane.
It's not the plane that scares me,

It's the boarding gate.
But I have to go, I'm so
Well prepared, no one ever

Better. I'm the one who knows
How to come back, who
Holds the first-class ticket home.
But I'm afraid of the gate.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Journey to the West

The skin of the globe peeled off
In a continuous curl
Extending the day
Far, far away in the west.

Seeing my chance, I started
Driving out that growing map,
Delighted to know
Either worlds could be revised

Or my world had been a dream.
I never reached the sunset.
I never came back.

Each moment was another
Without returning,
Far, far away in the west.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Impermanence Is Permanent

Ask any fresh corpse.
It will tell you can't stop change,
Evade it or undo it.

It's done. On to something else
Which, when done, will be done, too.
The doing is undoing,
Which can't be undone.

Some things are not gone
But hidden. They may appear
Again before they're all gone,

But what's gone stays permanently
Gone. That's the magic.
As long as you're here you are
Impermanent. Then you're not.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Our aspects of attraction
Scarcely overlap
With aspects of partnership,

So that one wonders
If partnership means that much
To the meandering bed

Of fitness finding its way
To the sea. What binds partners
Is the surface attraction,
But what attracts us

Is relentless gravity.
You see? We've got it
All backwards. Invert the trope.
Deep love's bonds are the weakest.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Witness and Participant

Timur, ruler of central
Asia, destroys all Delhi.

Of course he didn't.
No one animal, no soul
Takes down a city alone.

He had a better army.
Somehow, they answered to him.
They made him the scourge of God.
A man on the wall,

As lame as Timur,
Watched his city fall, witness
And participant. No life
Exceeds its own perspective.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

If Stephen Crane Had Lived a Little Longer, He Wouldn't Have Lived Very Long

Then the man said to the universe, fuck it.
I'll dare you and defy you and do as I please.
Fine, rumbled the universe. You'll just fall
Apart double quick. So I did.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Would You Rather Be a Fish?

I wish it weren't so, but
Imprecision's the hallmark
Of reality.

Nothing passes in units;
Only in partial units
Is the world measured.

I've experienced being
The fragment of the poem that
Ends the Jarmusch film.
When you have no choice, you choose,

Like a good stoic,
The choice that's been given you.
I just wish it didn't mean
I had to choose an ending.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Our failure to remember
Our past lives is an intense
Form of our failure

To remember our lost dreams.

Our failure to remember
Our future is worse,
If only because we don't

Believe that failure failure.

We don't think we've forgotten
Our future; we think
Future hasn't happened yet.

We define it so.
And yet, we suspect our dreams
That we forget remember.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Twenty-three hours, fifty-six
Minutes, four seconds.
The remaining three minutes,

Fifty-six seconds
Are just a rounding error,
Although a resounding one.

Our days are slowing
Although too slowly for us.
By the time the rotation
Fits twenty-four cesium

Hours exactly, there likely
Won't be any humans left
To note the moment.
Something will still watch the stars.

Friday, September 22, 2017

How to Find Out if Your Gardener's Lying

I am an expert
Of the whole and cannot hope
To describe the part.

Quantum physicists tell us,
Is amplitude squared.

You can't take the root
Of probability and
Derive amplitude.

You can't know the sign.
No one ever knows the sign,
Not even the sign.

I count trees in your garden
Grown from unearthly delights.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Redemption Is Heaven

I rolled by without a pause,
The eventuality

Of breaking at the same time.
Experience is
Entities being broken,

The kind of statement linguists
Judge and then deploy.
But just then I was thinking
About how we lack stories

Involving truly
Ordinary characters
Redeemed without transcending
Themselves. Transcendence is hell.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Emperor of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Preface by the Divine Pen:
Buddha's opened eyes
In the shape of blue lotus

Flower will open the eyes
Of the people to nothing.
Until he had eyes,

Michael Ondaatje
Observed, he remained a blank.
Nothing so approximate
To the honest stare of God.

There was a sutra
On birch bark, lost long ago,
That told the actual truth.
The one who wrote it burned it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


He gave an invited talk.
"Give me wealth or give me death"
Was the gist of it.

He thought about the word, gist,
And its narrow usefulness
In English, a sufficient
Incompleteness shrugged.

The number itself
The dream's interpretation,
The dream's interpretation
The essence of the number.

One. Two. That's the gist of it.
Whole, once multiplied, is not
Ever whole again.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Random and the Made

In a civilization
Forever beyond repair,
As all always are,

A small figure stood
Swaying against the starlight.
I'm just waiting for something

To happen, he said.
A storm responded, blotting
The stars, offering lightning,
A tempest tailored for him.

Ah, he said, I see, but that
Is no different from saying
I was made for this storm's sake,
When we're all one thing.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Every god's a cube
Opining your resistance
Is futile, so surrender.

I say those who have to ask,
Including those who demand,
Have not got your surrender
Securely in hand

And for that reason should not
Be surrendered to.
Surrender to what compels
Surrender. Everything else

Comes from among the vanquished
Begging a secondary
Victory by faith.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Makaris Lament

Patrik Johnestoun might nocht fle.
How forgotten will you be?
Will one phrase you turned
In the lathe of your neck last?

Will your ordinary name
Be attached as a label
To anything orbiting
This battered planet?

You rucked the sheets of your bed
To make it more inviting.
No one lies in it.

Someone you never met will
Smooth the mess you left,
Which was all of you you left.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Early Onset Constellations

It's not the what; it's the how.
How you will lose your true love,
Your way though the woods,

The name you once gave yourself,
The records you kept,
Your sense of joy in the world.

There's no art to it.
The world is full and each loss
Is required for something new
To squeeze on through and be lost

In turn, you too. The dark lawn
Is heavy with stars
And Indian Summer warmth.
Barefoot, you stand, look up, lost.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Faith Must Be Asymmetrical

Hope's more fierce than gratitude.
We are more normative in
The company of children.
You have to make it

Dark enough to want to see
The light. The thunder itself
Is thrilling enough,

Always sounding like the voice
Of god or giant
For beasts of conversation.

For all these reasons we pray
More in advance than in thanks,
Obey more among toddlers,
Fear answers we seek.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Way and Its Weakness

Is there is no Way.
An infinity of ways,
And a cosmos determined

To ring the changes on each,
But no one Way among them,
Which is why the Way
Is so appealing, abstract

Or anthropomorphic. One
Path among them all,
One wisdom of surrender.

There's no path of righteousness.
There's no wisdom to dying.
There's no getting lost.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

There Is No One Left

There is no true place
Where the cat is. There
Are, perhaps, places where cats

Are not. Everything gives way
To everything, constantly.
It's always all everything
Gone all of the time;

There's never an honest pause
In the long melodic line.
We guess. We move things.

Schrödinger's shell game
Always wins. It's amazing
How a world so full comes up
Empty every time.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Lava and Zebras

Lust is a big dog
And love is an undersized
And panicky dog walker

Prone to drop the leash,
I told her when she left me
To go chase after her dog
And leash it to a new wrist.

But I'm neither dog
Nor walker nor wrist, myself.
I'm bones of Hagerman horse
Eroding under lava

In a land I could still love,
Were my kind not extinct, nor
Zebras exotic.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Now It's Over, and Not Over

I can't push myself,
I can't seem to push myself
Out of that one-way window.

Without relation to me,
Without interest in me,
The glass reflects me,

And because no one else sees,
No one needs to see
That truer, ghostlier me,
I know what breaking it means.

I've lived a reflective life,
A life of self-delusion.
There's no other side
After that window's broken.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Foucault's Comic Book

God, something minatory
In your inertness.
Luridly tattooed pages,

The dove, descending,
Sway gently over the world.
Which Foucault is the Foucault,

The superhero
Who will defeat the divine
Mystery, stone deity?
Who will roll away the stone

To reveal the emptiness,
Not even a corpse?
The parabola of doubt
Describes the arc of belief.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Claiming true, a bit
Of a stretch, pretty Saro,
Bee bread or royal jelly

For you? Your mother had said
You were a princess,
Not intending compliments,

But you were another thing,
Neither a worker nor queen.
A rare kind of pretender,
Mind of a worker,

Royal sensitivities,
A gift for getting others
To attend to you
Without believing in you.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pretty Saro

Reek of wet hay fades.
You first came to this country
When you were twenty and five,

Half-hoping ballads
Would be sung about your love
Or maybe not, I don't know.

You saw many fair lovers
But never saw yours
Who sat near you, uplifting
As a matter of honor

Your wings to the air.
You left him for fair weather
And another who kissed you
Through your feathers on a dare.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Buildings in Lakes

I want to go home.
My home is under water,
Was under water before

I was born, I think.
Otherwise, why is it I
Have no memories of it

Brilliant in daylight?
I only remember it
Moodily lit, dark and green,
Roofless, fuzzed with living things.

I want to swim down
And search carefully through it
For the unanswered riddle
Drowning's written into it.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

People in Books

Everybody knows
That almost nobody looks
Like people look in movies,

But not enough people now
Read regularly
To know nearly no one looks
The way they're described in books.

We're mostly battered tubers,
Lumpen potatoes.
We're mostly sallow, spotty.

It's not that there's no beauty.
It's the ratio writers
Keep twisting, wanting
Like the rest of us less us.

Monday, September 4, 2017


Everything you gain, you'll lose,
Whether squandered or conserved,
Including caring,

And including you.
I'm working on a grimoire,
Full of spells to pull me through,
Full of spells against the truth.

When it comes to loss,
Magic's no worse than hard proof.
One pretends what we can't do,
And one can't let us pretend.

Hermes Trismegistus, you
Must take loss away from me
And set us both free.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Night Danger

A delusion is a lie
About the world seems to come
From the world, not you.

When delusion's discovered,
The only way to survive
Is to recover with more
Reasonable lies,

The kind you know come from you,
Not the world. It's the skill set
Of the damned and it damns you.
You try to distrust

Everything the world tells you.
Still it tricks you. Still you lie
And say you weren't fooled.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Swastika Laboratories

If you pass through Swastika,
Ontario, a village
Just west of Quebec,

You will find the Swastika
Fire Department and a sign
For something named Swastika

Try as you might,
You won't find a swastika:
All those signs for Swastika.
Never a swastika sign.

This is how words infect worlds,
Echoing Hakencreuzen
Too tricky to show.

Friday, September 1, 2017

River of Wolves

The dead are alive with light.
They shine through the eyes of wolves,
Those running grey waves
Surrounding the drowning deer.

When the deer have been consumed,
Full wolves will lie down and dream
Of being humans,

The most terrible
Predators the world has known.
Their hides will twitch. Jaws will snap.

The deer will look through their eyes.
The deer will speak like humans.
This is the wolves' fear.
Only their eyes are alive.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Time of Arrival

We don't finish the journey.
The journey finishes us.
We slide off the boat, the road,
And into the dark.

We keep singing, I've been there
And I'm done with that,
But we're never done with that,
Whatever's put behind us,

Not until it's done with us.
And once it's done us,
It undoes us. Once that's done,

It can't be undone,
And that is the mystery
That is our destination.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Who Is Ellen Parr? Why Are War and Beauty Nouns?

In truth there are but atoms
And the void, and the void is
Not an empty place.

The void is a consequence
Of change, as time is.
There's no truly empty space,

But we know the void is real
Because we see, each moment,
Fresh phenomena emerge
From it, that were not,

While other things disappear
Into it that were.
In that sense alone (alpha,
Omega) the void is truth.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lost at Sea

We want transformation, we
Want to see the waves
Turn into mermen, horses,

Anything but waves,
The waves forever changing,
Evaporating, turning

Into other waves.
Everything we do's a quest.
The quests create the journey,
But there's no destination

Only more journey,
More movement, more quests, more waves,
Until we evaporate
And become the waves we fled.

Monday, August 28, 2017


Now it's gone, I miss the glistening,
The glistering, another's wet drying to scent
That I used to wash off my own skin after
Summoning it, back when I was fortunate.

I miss the strangeness of it, of the body
Of another, body with its own commands
And uncontrollable functions, a body hungry
To make itself happy, dripping with risk

And desire that was never really for me
Or for anyone but for the body that desired.
We need to sate ourselves and in the effort
We make ourselves, whether we wanted

More company in this world or not. I miss
Being in the way of someone else's craving,
Some else's messiness. I miss feeling,
Satisfied or not myself, that I helped.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Alone in a Two-Berth Cabin

I need a new audience,
Someone to talk to,
Someone who can happily

Answer better back.
The waves outside the window
Are the world, not just because
They stretch to the horizon

And most of Earth is ocean,
But because they're so many,
All nearly identical
And not one the same,

And because everything's waves
From thoughts to stars, all like that.
The world is empty.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Muss Es Sein?

Es muss sein und es konnte
Anders sein. Beide.
To live at all is to be

Broken, be assured.
But there's an infinity
Of ways in which you might break,
And if that's unbearable

To know, forget it.
If it's destiny you want,
This is it, adamantine:

You will break somehow.
Do you really need to know
Where your pieces fell, ashes
Were scattered, sentiments pawned?

Friday, August 25, 2017


Knowing you shouldn't exist.
There's no you for me,

I snored in my dreams.
But you kept coming to me,
Me homely beyond belief.

There was the dream where you were
A force only, without form,
The dream when I touched your back,
The dream of dark hair.

If you're only what I think,
You're not who I think you are.
You are the who who needs me,
The me who you aren't.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ghost Rodeo

Wherever there is
Bad record keeping, ghosts will
Follow, and all poetry

Contains bad record keeping,
Hence, all poetry has ghosts,
And every line is haunted.
Line's a hangman's noose

Knotted to slide easily
But never unknot,
Thus to kill. Thus to kill. What

Anachronism is this?
Have you known anyone hanged?
No. You never will.
I'm the last line roping you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Joy of a Sycophant

Someone somewhere has transgressed
Is the consensus.
It's always the consensus.

Transgression is at the core
Of being human,
Not for lack of innocence,
Not for being born sinners,

But for being transgression
Obsessed as a way of life,
For being born accusers.
I may accuse you

Of whatever wickedness
And you may imagine me
The greater sinner.