Friday, March 31, 2017

Magical Thinking Replies

Where there is leisure for fact
There is little grief. The purl
Of the high-altitude creek
Past the snowmelt and aspens
Carries itself down canyon
To the inevitable
While storing away water

In the roots along the way.
White-bark fingers glow in the sun
For now as it slides from them.
It's not foolish to notice
The light that will go away
Will come back, whether or not
We will be there to feel it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hard Problem for a Machine Like Me

"Ghosts who lived [sic] in the trees"

Because body is dying,
The self underestimates
Body's will to keep living
And lingering illnesses
Result inevitably.
If I solved the puzzle, you
Said you would let me escape,

So long as my answer proved
Correct. I probed the wicked
Edge of you, ran the numbers
Through and through, pretzeled the rules,
Made a game of every meal,
Tested lies' and facts' effects.
Here's my answer: you aren't real.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


O scenes of life, variant,
How transient, how painful
Thou art! cried missionary
Wilford, who believed heaven
Only a planet away.
I love belief like despair.
It helps me forgive despair

Become like belief with me.
We do not doubt the known truth.
We only fight for the scraps
Of fatty inclination,
The storage of nutrition,
Doubt, we all want for ourselves.
No believer fails to doubt.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Sweet One

One would have liked to have known,
Even if the knowing was
Boredom and disappointment.
What was the actual source
Of this magic concoction
That led to men proclaiming
Hymns to immortality

And endless success in war?
With the bow let us conquer
All the corners of the world.
I suspect, inside the robes
Of each lordly Brahmin priest
And each chariot king hung
A soggy pocket of doubts.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Louse on the Scalp of God

Most infamous irony
I've ever known, that death camp
Gate's slogan, Arbeit Macht Frei.
Haven't thought of it for years,
But news reports of some fools
Stripping naked, slaughtering 
A sheep, then chaining themselves

Together under that gate
Reminded me. As grisly
As it is, it's got nothing
On the irony of God
That I've learned since I first heard
Of genocide's droll horrors.
All life's lived under that sign.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ghosts Need Apertures

Oh my soul, you breeze between
Two open windows, neither
Belonging nor remaining
Inside, but here passing through
Nonetheless, I like to think
Of you as neither body
Nor self, nor idea of soul,

But as a small conundrum,
Definition made of nerves
Communicating wryly
In a way not all nerves can.
You carry the water sound
Of the creek and the pathos
Of what sails but doesn't feel.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Personalia

The place was shadowy, calm,
And cell-like. It had a cot
And a window, plus a door
To a windowless bathroom
That just fit a toilet, sink,
And narrow shower. It was
Heaven. Outside the window

Crowns of deciduous trees
Filled the foreground, scraps of sky
Flew like weathered, faded flags,
Sheet-sized, small as handkerchiefs,
Depending on the season.
Did I forget to mention
A notebook, table, and chair?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pirates and Metaphysics

"He would forget about pirates and metaphysics, the abstruse arguments that had so occupied him. . ."

No argument more abstruse
Than a gun-toting pirate
Boarding your ship and screaming
In a language you don't know.
Nothing thus begun ends well.
It's a metaphysical
Certainty. You will die soon,

Or you will suffer a while,
Or you will kill the pirate.
No, you won't kill the pirate.
How to suffer a pirate?
Decide quickly to forget
All your other arguments.
Leap cleanly into the sea.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Self Evidence

Madness gathers where beliefs
Are made. Every paradox
Ever was was never out
There but was belief's debris,
Our hatred of Goliath
Vs. our love of our God--
Big, bad vulnerable monsters,

Bad for being so big; big,
Good, invulnerable sky gods,
Good for being much bigger
On our side in the story.
If you believed it, you lied.
Only the trivial's real.
Nobody believes in dogs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Overnight Sacrifice

You can't move a cloud. It bowls,
Milky soma in your thoughts.

Immune to other humans
The stand-up tragedian

Pretended to be Pierrot,
Another era's gauche clown.

Equally real, equally
Unreal, pale moon in suburbs,

Glow in the small desert town,
Some continent or other:

When you're forced to stay awake,
Categories change partners

And you become the night priest
Purposeless but to witness.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The One World Was the One You Wrote

I was all the days you chose
To ignore, the calendar
Mind caught in its paper storm.
I made a sheaf of a life,
Feathered sculptures out of notes,
Because I thought I could think.
To control thought is to sculpt

An entire world, but beware:
Likely, thinking's sculpting you.
You can't tell a story dark
Enough for all that black ink
Scribbled on thought's sticky notes.
The mere fact of fiction proves
You hoped for another world.

Monday, March 20, 2017


As the worms die they trigger
Inflammation. Some species
Of thought have evolved the trick
Of secreting substances
That imitate natural
Easing the mind. The clearest

Individuals often
Have been infected since birth
By these types, but if they burst
Too frequently the price paid
For equanimity is
Disease and an early death
Of independent thinking.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Invalid on the Ledge

The enemy is dying,
Not death, not the fear of death.
The enemy is living
Decay. Occasionally,
Death almost leapfrogs dying
And we say, "they never knew."
But the body howls and twists

At the least scent of the end,
Shying and bucking backward,
And so most of us are left
To nurse our festering wounds
And rot gradually away
While the birds sing in the trees
And determined children play.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

San Rafael Swell

How long did these take to make?
How long can they possibly
Last in near their present shape?
You know the story teased out,
The ancient dunes, then inland
Seas, the mountains tilting upward,
Millions of years eroding.

You get this: stony, melting
Layer cake of what once was
Masquerading as what is.
Take a look at that dark stripe.
Wonder what happened in that
Million years. Probably no
Storytelling apes at least.

Friday, March 17, 2017

This Game

Better than paregoric,
And quicker. Once the theft is
Done, the plot cannot proceed
Without its revelation.
Here is the world. What is this?
Whatever you think it is.
Whatever we say it is.

Don't miss the difference between
Those two ever-changing things,
Experience and the game.
The second steals from the first
And builds a simulacrum
Inside its simulations.
If there's a story, you die.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

One Long Sweet Lie

How many points does one get
For existing? Various
Angels, vampires, and dragons
Would like to know. I have one
Here with me now. He doesn't
Exist, but he would like to.
He can feel he's on the verge.

Get enough points, and then what?
A name's a kind of being,
And a story for the name,
A cloud of stories, more so.
But there's a leap he can't make.
He feels like a fact to me,
But to himself he's fiction.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Handicapped Explorer's Handbook

Anywhere on earth is lame
When it comes to travel boasts.
The whole point of travel tales
Is to, (a) claim one has gone
Where no one has gone before
And, (b) explore the unknown
Whole of the knowable world.

Earth is known and explored, down
To glimpses of ocean floors.
And high-speed orbital dawns?
Done. But more importantly,
Whatever nooks and crannies
Remain to stick one's nose in,
Earth is no longer the world.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dead Language Poetry

"Vaults of heaven's domed skull halls"
Is not a typical phrase
In twenty-first century
English, spoken or tweeted,
American or British,
Sung or international
Slang, rhetorical or rapped.

So what is it? Poetic?
Nostalgic? Drunk? Pretentious?
Once, one might have claimed heightened,
But now, the jammed syllables
Scan as ham-handed, trying
Too hard to attain terror.
There's no awe left in awesome.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Torment makes a good writer
Better. Failed writing after
Torment makes a ghostwriter.
Failure, writing, and torment
Together make the real ghost.
Time to haunt America.
First, give up the ghost. Second,

Live in motion, dusk to dawn.
Third, avoid growing places,
Cities people seem to love.
Haunt the dying. Record them
While their remains are sleeping.
Fourth, quit the imperatives.
Streetlights on locked shop fronts glow.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

You Owe Me

All my voice messages are
From unknown, who only asks
Anonymously to speak
With me, while reminding me
That if I am not me I
Should not listen to the rest
Of the message. That's the end

Until the next time unknown
Calls again. I con the screen
For clues to whom this unknown
Might really, past the pretense
Of human debt collection,
Be. I know it wants a piece
Of me. I'd give all of me.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Waves As Shapes

Juncos darted in blossoms
Of an ornamental plum
On an artificial pond
Home to geese and ducks at dawn.
Fences kept the foxes out,
And wells kept the fenced lawn green.
Creosote and coyotes

Lived in the brown rocks around.
Inside the house, Horowitz
Could be heard in recordings
Made seventy years ago,
Pounding Mussorgsky, pinning
The needles of the machines
That translated shapes and waves.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Everything That Rhymes Exists

I had nothing more to say.
The child raised her eyebrows and
Stepped away. Skeptics are born
Not made. Look more carefully
At the crease between borrowed
And be. Nothing's descended
From nothing. Everything else

Is a riff, half off the shelf,
Half with a twist, on what was,
And what was was what now is
And won't be other than what
Was by the time you decide
The difference between this riff
You were reading and what is.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


If life does not leave, should it
Be forsaken? The hunter
Takes the orphan to the woods.
Abandoned children rarely
Thrive, but the few who don't die
Found dynasties and empires.
Of the hunter, nothing's known.

I studied the little life
I'd meant to leave before dusk,
Eyes reflecting the sunset,
Hands reaching out to the trees.
Could I cut another heart
To offer, proof's substitute?
We'll never leave each other.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I'm Going to Have to Kill You

One wants to imagine that
The right kind of scientist
Could detect culture's fungus
Just by looking at one's brain,
Which doesn't belong, of course,
To one or anyone but
To the culture anymore.

The right kind of scientist,
Sadly, could not be human,
And since one knows no other
Kind, the trope's a cul-de-sac.
I, fungus, threaded, ensconced,
Produced these spores you ingest.
I'm very sorry but now

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


She wrote, meaning Wonderful
But, subverted by software
That knew better, actually
Made the more mysterious
Nonsense of clustered letters
For a word neither what was
Meant, nor typed, nor any word

In existence she knew of.
She let it be and sent it
Anyway through the fine waves
Only the machines can see.
She sent it to me. I knew
The word immediately:
God's unknown name in Machine.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Laws Cannot Hide Time Makes You Die

To slip a trap of culture,
The trickster, who is culture,
Suggests making more culture,
Advises telling mores lies.
A bawdy glissade, a wreath of flies,
A minor ruler who died
Two-thousand-plus years ago

Came to grief breaking the laws
Of his time, going to baths
And horsing around naked
With commoners. Symmetry
Respected, violated,
The physicists say: laws trapped
In their own way. We can't stay.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Panim'el Panim in the Haunted House

The secret staircase is wrapped
Around the central chimney
In such a way a scribbler
Of allegorical tales
And ironies would never
Find it, even as he wrote
Of the house being haunted.

Messengers of God went up
And down that hidden staircase,
All night, every night, cultic
Site where only the scheming
Dreamer willing to wrestle
With a shadow until dawn
Saw the vision. Here's your self.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

When the Emergency Becomes Articulate

God was an endling, the last
Of His kind, and even He
Wandered the wide world Gods made,
Looking for food, a haven,
A cleft in the rock that would
Open into that other
World that had been torn from Him.

I must pay for everything,
He said--many, many times.
But what does it mean to pay?
In an empty world, He saw
He must have been human once,
Like the rest of His people,
Still in debt to human death.

Friday, March 3, 2017

This Train Is Solid Black

You can use art to survive.
You can use your art to die.
Depends on whether you want
To believe someone's out there,
Outside of you, to talk to,
Which will kill you, or whether
You talk only to yourself

In your private art houses,
Enameled, mirrored, well made,
Keeping all your messy drafts
Of life outside the palace
Where you survive, famously.
I can't decide. Let's escape
On a stolen ride tonight.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


The meditative driver
Drives the long way home to work,
Selective about advice
Abjuring rumination.
A still mind's a conjuring
Trick of a disciplined brain,
Transitory satori

As real and evanescent
As the thoughtless clouds caught
On crumbling mountains above
The highway on which other
Drivers conduct other lives,
Drifting through small nirvanas.
Everything weds everything.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


This time the dragon defeats
The civilizing storm God
With His priests and His cattle,
Wheel-hammering armorers
And shimmering lightning bolts,
His me, His bizarre parents,
His desire to own the sky.

This time the enveloping
Leviathan, the serpent,
The high-mountain, cave-dwelling,
Treasure-hoarding, tree-guarding,
Fire-breathing bridge between deeps
And wings, the holy circle
Encircles thought and swallows.