Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Every Possible Alteration of One Idea

Tedium of near-perfect
Approximations against
The infinitesimals
Of differences that can't be
Sliced so thinly they vanish.
Everything echoes; nothing

Holds solid. Nothing is still,
And still it is mostly dull
Variation on old themes.
Rocks eroding from the hill
By the millions look alike.
Sifting through, I suspect
The cosmos of exploring

Monday, February 27, 2017

On the Origin of Truths

Culture zombies, all of us,
Each of us, no one of us,
No single one. We have not
Been individual beasts
For a long time now, not since
Before we were we as such.
I want to consume your soul.

You want to consume my own.
Or block it out, run away
With your own team of stories.
What the undead ones get wrong
Are their plots where only one
Kind of zombie fights humans.
All of culture is at war.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Some Day Comes Back

In Valhalla, my winters
In Zion. In retrospect,
Difference isn't surprising,
But the sense of sameness is.
While nothing's ever the same,
Cyclicity emerges.

The world a simile is.
There is no true Valhalla,
Never a perfect Zion,
And none of those truly named
With those names ever the same
For one moment, but we're all
Nonetheless kin to ourselves.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Elves of Selves

I was one, I was one, one
Of the great dark trees of God
That had sheltered angels, trees
That had been home to monsters
Who cared for them as shepherds
Cared for their flocks, long before
Shepherds or flocks existed.

I will tell you a secret
I've been hiding in my shade:
We cedars were the monsters,
We were the angels ourselves,
We drove you from our gardens,
We had wills. When you returned,
Our punishment was your lust.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Happiness Followed Me Like a Shadow

Jimmy Rodgers sang he'd shoot
Poor Selma, just to watch her
Jump and fall. Then he yodeled.
Lord, lord. Dead at thirty-one,
Old Chemirocha, half man,
Half antelope, Kipsigis
Sang. Watch us all jump and fall.

Here are the truths, suffering,
Impermanence, and non-self.
Here are the falsehoods, we can
Know the truths, do anything
About them. I am haunted.
I will haunt you when I'm gone.
Voice in the air. Jump and fall.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

And Moses Was Afraid

Surely the thing has become
Known, full-grown, my own alone.
The punishment for life is
Death, the lesser punishments
Mere rounding errors? No, death
Is no punishment. Dying
Is the punishment for life,

And there are so many ways
To suffer it. I'm begging,
I'm hungry for a bad beat
As the poker players say.
I have called out the I am
In my head and in these lines.
I understand fate, but wait.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Source-Monitoring Errors

Rainy day in the desert,
That memory you're having
Is not that happening then
But part of this happening,
Already memory now
That you come to think of it.
Rainy night in the desert,

Flood warnings interrupting
Phones and radio programs.
You, memory I'm having,
Were we ever in the world,
Out in the world together?
Another bulletin stops
This song as the levee breaks

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mutinous Shannon Waves

One can't believe any form
Is essential to meaning,
But every form means something
To someone named you or me,
Raspberry seed or tiny
Piece of meat, the kind of thing
That gets stuck in human teeth.

Whatever was not banal,
And whatever was, are one.
That's what you must remember,
If remembering haunts you.
Form, ruled or discovered, is
Rhythm, pattern. Entropy
Is just its sloppy genius.

Monday, February 20, 2017

My Millipede of Days

Last quarter of the snow moon
Over the morning commute,
And the millipede of days
Adds another leg. Absurd,
Common, and miraculous
In its awareness, this life.
Allow me to unpack that:

"Miracle" is over-used
When used even once, but here,
In the half-use meaning "life,"
It has some power because
Life should be impossible
And yet, here it is, for now,
Aware of being absurd.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ultima Cumaei Venit Iam Carminis Aetas

Trust in the future's the sole
Backing for the world's riches.
We bank on numbers growing--
Head counts and resource units
Converting world into us,
Us into ideas of us,
Ideas of us into more

Of us and our bright ideas.
Pyramid begun in stars
Grows at the base or crumbles,
And we are the base, mere beasts
Cursed with counting, accounting,
Accountability, gods'
God, the crushing weight of one.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Roosting in the trees like fruit,
Bunched, black, fist-sized, winter fruit,
Clustered at the twig tips, birds
Waited. Watched closely enough
Eyes shifted to watch you back.
Even the slow smoke that hung
Like a weightless curtain moved,

But you had to keep watching.
That's the rule for all things still:
Watch closely because they aren't.
I blinked and I found myself
At a different time of day,
Different day, trees without birds,
No idea how I got there.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Land that Consumes Its Inhabitants

Was how Moses' spies described
The Promised Land. That's correct.
Lubberland, Zion, Peachtree
Blossom Spring, Arcadia,
Fairyland, and Paradise--
They're all fantasies with teeth
We glimpse from the wilderness

That is life. Nirvana lies
On the far side of breathing,
And although it beckons us,
Or seems to, it's not for us
To inhabit knowingly.
If you think you're there, you're not
Yet: those who are there are not.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Or What Will Come to Find You

Was unknown when you began.
Lowly worm and slowly snail
Lived inside a garbage pail.
What they loved you couldn't see.
What they knew slept quietly.
I am the worm, you the snail.
We love what nonsense entails.

We squirm at sense. Our houses
Don't always outlast us. You
Were the worm. I was the snail.
Around and around we moved,
Consuming time and our home.
Eventually we knew
We were who came to find you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I saw you at the library.
But someone was talking to me,
And you were talking to someone.
Churches, hotels, toy stores, bridges,

These can all be, have been, haunted.
The temporary, endless falls
That reappear and vanish from
Rainy Uluru and Zion

Also shape ghosts of what happened,
The thundering and the rainbows
That didn't last, that did come back,
Again and again, difference.

Churches, hotels, toy stores, bridges--
Every box and arch will vanish,
Along with the stories they held.
That library was a rainbow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


The forest can't decide if
It's inside or outside me,
If I'm a hermit within
Its umbrageous multitudes,
Or it's the dendritic sparks
That perform this sense of me.

None of the above. The woods
Are neither mind nor cosmos.
The woods are the mystery
Anything's like this at all.
I am a slight breeze whispered
Through a few of the branches
Can't know what I know they are.

Monday, February 13, 2017

So Do I

I read the unreadable,
Compose the unsayable
That seems so bland as to seem
Already said, said and done.
I pause and I lie down with
The lion who would eat me,
Were it not I read to him.

I cease. No cognates exist
Prior to that Attic grace.
Think about that. The compost
You imagine when you read
Compositions hides within
Its continuous decay
A word that once meant to pause.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ichigo ni Ichido

The slogan's a good cliche,
Quite social, carpe diem,
Zen, martial: this is your chance;
You will not get another.
Human to rehearse ourselves
For the single occasion,
Make it discipline, respect,

A rule. We come this way once,
We remind ourselves often.
Yes. All similarities
Are uniquely incomplete,
But preparation's pointless.
No one masters the language
Of infinite tones, not one.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What Remains

One leaves one's sins unanswered,
However many or few,
However minor or gross.
No one can ever explain
The origins of errors
Without creating errors
That no forgiveness can cleanse.

Sins live outside the sinner,
Their existence dependent
On the sinners that remain,
Older than any of them,
As the atoms of the sun
Are older than any lives
But not in themselves living.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Qi Grail

It becomes more challenging
To perish from exposure
If you wait for fine weather.
It gets rather riskier
To wait for the miracle
To save you in the meantime.
You become a breath between

Alternative narratives
Of catastrophe and death
Garlanded by fantasies
Of cosmic benevolence
For your given foolishness.
You drive straight at the cliff
You won't leap off without wings.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Seven Devils Without a Single Walk

Wrote these poems. Old Soviet
Joke: in capitalist hell
They pound a nail in your butt
Every day; in communist
Hell, they drive thirty-plus nails
The last five days of each month.
But, if capitalism

Hadn't existed, poets
Would have had to invent it.
Hence this unbroken nonsense,
From January six years
Ago to this present poem.
I knew I wasn't to know
Much longer. I wrote and wrote.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The White Shadows of Summer

Hang around the edge of town,
Glad for a town with an edge
That's not just another town
But a genuine end drawn
Where memory's woods push in,
A line that says no telling
What you might remember next.

Barnacle goslings on cliffs
Fledge by bouncing off the rocks,
Two-hundred meter swan dives
That frequently end in death,
Small balls of fluff that can't fly
Quite. There are no trees near them.
Even then, dark woods push in.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


The self was terrifying
To itself because it had
Lost purpose but stubbornly,
Bodily, still persisted.
Just before 1909
The truth became popular:
Life is one damn thing after

Another. No one knows who
Said it first, exactly, but
The foolishness at the core
Of experience lay bare.
Not that there were any things,
But that what was kept coming
And damned continuously.

Monday, February 6, 2017

No Exodus

I have a heart like Pharaoh's,
One requiring repeated
Hardening to carry out
God's redundant lesson plans.
Just when I'm ready to go,
Life reminds me how intense
Its passion to carry on,

And I pass over the chance.
Clouds obscure a desert moon
On winter nights warm as spring.
Time for more blood and locusts
To soften me up again.
Your body's failing. Let go.
Then starlight hardens my heart.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


I would happily wake up
In an empty hotel room
In an emptied-out city
Beside a lake or river,
Looking at a look-alike
World never the world I knew.
I would watch from my window

As purpose-free days revolved,
Round contentment without pain.
To the few companions come
To share in my view, I'd say,
I'm here to reassure you,
Go, and it all goes with you.
Go, and it never was here.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

One Damned Thing After

I'm alive when I should not
Be alive, but I promise
When I'm dead I'll have no more
To say on this head. The world
Is such that we can punish
Each other but can't punish
The world, which is exactly

Why we punish each other,
Why we should punish the world.
Days fly. Conscience is the end
Of narrative; narrative
Continued lacks all conscience.
If you're breathing you're lying.
These are the rules of the world.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Dark Phrase

Elelu, compose your blood
Elegy. The old poems weren't
Better, but they rode deeper
So long as they shied away
From wisdom's shallow sandbars
Of advice. Like blues, they were
Like wine, heady and darker

And finally exhausting.
After reading too many,
I slept but I never dreamed.
Some say sleep's touched timelessness,
But I woke knowing I'd touched
Only nothingness, which was
Enough. Let me sleep some more.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Here Terror

Comes back. The same sort of thing
Appears to be happening,
Appears to be here, and we
Mistake similarity
For identity, durance.
I want to say I've been here.

I've never been here before.
Here's never been here before,
Never will be here again,
But here I am when I am
Here. Someone wants to find me.
Someone wants the money back.
I can't find either in me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Lapsed Fanatic

Non-agentic cruelty
Is the cruelty haunts me.
I know about unkindness
Between persons and persons,
But the unintentional
Unkindness of the cosmos
To each of its little selves

Taunts us with dull randomness.
You may say I've lost social
Relevance or pith. Okay,
I've been sidelined from those games.
Outside our games, accidents
Will happen to end our games.
Inside, we know we've no play.