Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hypnic Jerk

Last time, you got to die and
I had to live. This time, I
Get to die and you have to
Live, now, this future that was,
This past that is. Best wishes,
Truly, honestly for once.
I wish you all happiness

And would wish you peace as well,
Except that I know peace comes
Where I'm going and visits
Where you stay only briefly.
I'm about to fall asleep.
I expect I'll twitch and wake
Once or twice, but I'll make it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fictive Motion

Every story is a lie
And mine as much as any.
I find myself honing it
The way rodents hone their teeth,
Knowing it won't stop growing,
Will cut into my own mouth,
Disable me and kill me,

Unless I'm always gnawing,
Gnawing, gnawing on the world.
The urge to sharpen story,
Keep it filed, surely explains
The greater part of hunger
For the dangling wires
Surging with electric death.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Thinking Person's Body Farm

A shopworn shipworm rested,
A paperweight on my desk
With hardly any papers.
This animal barely eats.
All our thoughts are Russian dolls,
Which aren't really dolls at all.
Who cuddles with empty shells?

I am the uncaused causer
Of my own behavior, thought
The fossil, thought the shell, thought
Each bacterium eating
A path through the sulfur hell.
Just because every last thought's
Wrong won't mean we won't think them.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Brain Contains What It Can't Constrain

For a moment imagine
What it would be like if things
You know can't happen happened,
Things you wished could have happened
Kept happening, happening.
In the meantime, let's face it,
You're falling apart faster

Than the planet ever will,
Even when considering
The planet is one bright dot
In a Cassini photo
Taken from near Saturn's rings.
You are exponentially
Smaller than the thoughts you hold.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


We would like to watch the end
Without it being the end
Of everything that is us,
Just the end of other things.
We would like to be the judge
Of how disaster happened.
We would like to start over

In a green world overgrown,
Grown large and ripe with neglect.
We want heroic stories
Of how we alone survived
And the world began again,
Because of us, for our kind.
We want what we know we won't.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Of the Incurable

Everything that is composed
Is perishable, Buddha
Said at the end of his life,
Adding, work diligently
For your salvation. That's odd,
One truculent disciple
Thought without speaking aloud.

What salvation could there be
Not also perishable?
Or, there being salvation,
How is all perishable?
What makes for faith is failure,
Either of diagnosis
Of the curable, or cure . . .

Monday, April 24, 2017

Approach or Withdraw

I and my behaviors are
The end results of a fight
Among a brain's sub-agents,
Including those who arrived
As moles from somewhere outside.
But my awareness of them
Is, itself, not quite of them.

We wait. We watch from rafters
And sidelines for the outcome,
Wary feedback loops of fear,
The shadows that jeer and cheer.
We know there are no results,
That this, then this are sequence
Rather than death, creation.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Monotonous Longevity

The oldest living humans
Remind me of an old joke:
A guy gets a hangover
After gin and tonic, then
After vodka and tonic,
Then after scotch and tonic.
He says: must be the tonic.

One oldest soul ate three eggs
Each day, two raw. Another
Ate four thick strips of bacon.
Another, daily plum wine.
It's not eggs, wine, or bacon,
Or any other pattern:
It's the habit that's living.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


If my body were not mine,
I entirely my body's,
By it made, by it possessed,
Then would I be capable
Of self without permission?
Would you? But you know you're not,
Quite, as I knew I wasn't,

Quite, because we are not whole
In any body, although
We fly, attached and tattered
Like military pennants
From one besieged battlement
About to fall at a time.
We were the wind that ripped us.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Let's do this quickly, shall we?
Cure wounds or cause them, time does
Get things done. My favorite tree
To loiter beside has leafed.
This morning in the dark, done.
Dawn's half-moon light done also.
The children are back from school.

Fresh campers have set up camp.
Astronomers found a world
Just forty light years away,
The best candidate so far
For life by another star.
Another day almost done.
Let's do this quickly, shall we?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Opossum's Complaint

Sometimes I'm just tired of it,
All of it, all the corpses
And cults of it, the urges,
The purges, the mating cries
And the hopeless distress calls,
The way we have to live here
To live here any longer.

My animal joy has gone
In this immobilized pose
Feigning death as another
Means of playing against death,
Against the end it pretends
Has happened. I'm tired of it,
This crick in the neck that's life.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Like mine are vanishing. To
Say that I was obscure in
My own time exaggerates
My celebrity. I am
Not the sherry in the glass
The neighbor left behind, I'm
The glass that broke, washing.

Vanishing into thick airs
Of conversation becomes
Me. I was never wholly
There. I was never wholly
Me. I was you, believe me.
If you did, where would you put
The chiseled urn that held me?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rhythms in Phrasings Made Rhythms in Thoughts

The trainers taught us numbers
As trainers taught them numbers.
No one knows the first trainer.
No one knows why training was
What we did to each other,
Why trainers were who we were.
No one knows. If it were me,

I would guess training never
Began, recognizably,
But crept, imperceptibly,
From a kind of showing off
To an entrained performance,
To complete captivity.
I'm a trainer. Don't tell me.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Poem

A man kept relocating
His ghosts, as if hiding them
By frequent reburial,
The way scrub jays recache treats,
Could save them for the future
He would likely never be.
His world was filled with middens,

Small messy pockets of thoughts,
Phrasings, stolen quotations,
Shed fur, and twigs. Dig through them
And the ghosts, as they appear,
Escape and evaporate.
One is sighing now from this
Pit where he tried trapping it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Nine Years of Now

He who I believed I was
Passing through would wash his hands
And every time remember
Advice to savor the task,
The warm water and the suds,
To remain in the present
On the grounds that's all there was.

He never believed it, but
He was careful to savor
What in his mind was passing
As the past. Nine years he'd done
This: yes, it was always now,
And always already past,
But he'd come to love the task.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Rare Gifts

Numbness would be one of them,
And stillness to avoid harm
To the benumbed. Then beauty,
Which is not rare in this world
But rarely allowed without
Pain, so beauty without pain.
No one can be rescued from

The past. A pseudicidal
Bit of fiction, the self is.
Anatta, then, another
Gift. Best, continuation
Unconcerned for the future.
You can't control it. You can't,
But the desire tortures you.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Wish List

A high spot with a sheer drop
And a blue or star-strewn sky
To gaze up into, the last
Seconds of an existence,
Those are the necessities
For a graceful conclusion,
Along with the trust to fall.

None of that's available
Here, except the brilliant sky.
If a person were to cling
To a crumbling ledge barely
High enough to break a leg,
Would the buzzards prove helpful?
Change quickly or change slowly.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Consequences of Luck and Effort

Favor more imbalances
Until wealth teeters over
Like a sand dune in the wind
And lets its contents vanish
Into the next dune over.
Humans scrutinize closely
These transfers of moving things.

We want to know, ideally,
To count precisely, the grains
Of sand. A dune's an hourglass.
Time is money, resources.
Canute may have wished to show
His weakness, but I could stand
On dunes to vanish commands.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


There's a darkness makes no sense,
Is neither literal nor
Tropic. It's the dark of not,
And every last beast who sleeps
With an entire brain at once
Has experienced it, or,
Rather, not experienced

But carries the memory
Of not experiencing
Around, aware, unaware,
Uncertain. We fear this dark
Who take out our memories
To reconstruct and study
Daily. Waste, empty homeland.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Barbarian Kings of the West

Exotic to the Chinese,
Problematic to this day,
They have never civilized
Themselves enough to be pleased
With their own nonviolence.
Drunk or sober, they're thin-skinned,
Impulsive, prone to hurling

Weapons, death, insults, and things
One only associates
With the long-nosed, bearded mugs
Of western barbarian
Kings. They're suitable symbols
For intemperate appetite,
Futility turning tides.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Welcome to Talent

Long black cat in front of me
In my black car crossed the road.
Warren Zevon's dying voice
Accompanied the escape.
The road ran out at one end.
The other end ran through town
After town, mountain-funneled,

Tsunami vulnerable
All the way to the ocean.
I have had a lifelong gift
For ruthless skepticism
Welded to superstition.
Someone take this gift from me.
Next town down will be Phoenix.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Flying Over Eden

Why grab a sword only good
For hacking other humans?
At the ordinary height
Of 38,000 feet
On a short domestic flight
Between a couple of states,
Cooperation floats us

Above clouds once thought heaven,
And it's easy to forget
The hell of competition
Cooperation forges,
All the horrors planes have brought.
Tools are weapons; weapons tools.
Flaming swords make us angels.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Walmart Greeters of Academia

Anecdotal evidence
Suggests more retired teachers
Are coming back as adjuncts,
The return of the repressed.
I spot one lurching across
A rainy morning parking lot,
Hunchbacked and limping to work,

Muttering, a course, a course,
My dignity for a course.
Maybe I imagined that.
A teacher is not a king
About to die in battle.
A teacher is a lost thing
Kings prefer to war without.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ouija Dancing

The ghost who had never been
Was gone and the antonym
Of schizophrenia come,
Bearing the gift of quiet.
Rather than hearing voices
That weren't there, I heard nothing
And saw only an absence

Of people that should be there.
Satanists are uncanny,
Sang the repressed memory
Therapists, eliciting
Suspiciously similar
Nightmares, again and again.
I who no one ever was.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Solving the Great Problem

Your problem, he said smiling,
Is my death. A suicide
Is an irrelevancy
Unless there are dependents,
In which case it's more wicked
Than murder. What should you do
Who would like to be excused,

Please, and disappear for good?
I can give you ten minutes
To invent a solution.
Past that, I'm afraid, you're trapped.
The Destroyer, door to door,
Ignores the blood-soaked lintels,
But whose blood is the question.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


You can't trap a ghost: it's not
A being you can contain
Or fool, even when it's you.
Weird enough to observe it,
To savor the sensation
Of a presence in your world
When you know you're good as dead.

The gauziness is a ruse
To remind you all's a ruse.
Your ghost reaches out to you.
Contrary to what I thought
And wrote down nine years ago,
Love is about the right time,
Not about the right person.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

There's No Such Thing as Prose

Then Madam put on her hat
And walked out the door. Can one
Ever regret composing
A line beautiful as that?
My flesh hides a skeleton
Composed of slowly bending,
Often breaking glass. Can one

Ever envy enough his
Skeleton's celebrity?
You would think body wouldn't
Care so much for poetry.
It's shame that eats us away,
Wrote the playwright. Then Madam
And my bones walked out the door.

Monday, April 3, 2017

What Disperses, Gathers

Being sick's the opposite
Of swimming in the deep lake.
Instead of all aches floating
Away on the waves, they come
Like crows, increasingly
Dense shadows crowding my bones,
And I can't get off the shore.

Quick words exist in the mouth;
Slow words exit, too, from books.
The writer, compositor
Of squiggles and text, is sick
And on the shore, nostalgic
For more temporary waves.
The crows are precise and real.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spero, Sparrow, Don't Despair

Is this the world where language
And body confuse themselves,
Then cancel each other out?
I'm reluctant to say so.
It seems more as if the world
Must cancel everything out,
The song along with the bird.

Neither body nor language
Has any say in the end.
Self, tangled up in them both,
Manufactures daisy chains
Of poppets that resemble
Body and language alike.
Might yet be some power in here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

iuniperi gravis umbra

I think I've solved the riddle:
You don't exist. If I'm right,
Then you have to let me go.
A woman's distorted voice
Weeps on behalf of speakers
Everywhere. If we'd never
Spoken a word would this shade

Still throw itself over us?
In lower pastures heifers
Celebrate spring by eating
And staring blankly at cars.
Up here, a doe watches me
From under a juniper
And can't speak for not being.