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.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Penny Drop

She's no Penelope, this one
Who went and got herself a new
And improved model lover for
Summer before Odysseus

Even left for the war to end
Their world. She's no Penelope
Who looked forward to fresh suitors
Before her man walked out that door

He might not walk through anymore.
She's no Penelope who told
Him he was looking old and bored,
That life on Ithaca was dull,

That his beard was getting scruffy,
That he ate poorly, that he snored.
She needed a more social life,
More dancing, fun, her kind of crowd.

Before he left she measured him
And got right to work on his shroud.
So no, she's no Penelope,
But she said she was and was proud.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Scribbly Tree

The past is a tree,
A massive complication
That is slowly still growing.

The past is a bed,
Framed out of trees, by the tree,
A sleigh bed under the leaves.

The past is tiled floor,
Mosaics under the bed,
Smothering the ground around
Trunk and roots of living tree.

The past is the walls
And low roof below branches,
Enclosing the secret room
Odysseus remembers.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Divining Rod

"Life is a whole bunch
Of containers that keep things
Where we want them until we

Want them somewhere else."
Not long ago near Salt Lake
A holocaust survivor
In his nineties was murdered

By burglars in his garage.
Just last week, a veteran
Of World War Two, Waddell Tate,
Aged ninety seven,

Was bludgeoned to death in bed.
Surviving horrors
Never saved us from horrors.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Song of Want

I am a moment you tell,
Not a story you
Experience as a spell.

This makes me truer,
Becoming not me at all.
The x wants what exes want,
To redact the director.

I am not your need.
I am apostate desire's
Last postulate: to be self,
To be aware of wanting

What may be possible, rare,
What can never be.
I dream of you holding me.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Biophony, Anthrophony, Geophony

A pickup dusts past.
A woodpecker stops pounding,
Perhaps having found a grub.

The wind is pulsing,
Although it's barely a wind,
As the dust settles its skirts.

The water is falling.
None of this is happening.
None of it ever happened.
Or it did, then it hadn't.

The observer sits
Listening on a split rock,
But there's no observer there,
Just another kind of air.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Career in Precipitous Decline

Don't look at it. Just taste it.
I compose so much
Because the strength and weakness

Of this poetry
Is being omnivorous.
Whatever I eat becomes
Me. Whatever I excrete

Condemns me. If you ask me,
The truth makes everyone more
Lonely, but you won't ask me.
Too true and lonely,

I and me are bared strangers.
I came this way once.
You never came back for me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Single Base Pair

My father was the firstling.
No more mutant than the next
Man, but in the wrong places.
I am nothing but

A loose collection
Of human limits. I am
The lastling after just one

Generation. Him, me, then
No one quite like us again,
Not one of his grandchildren.
And that's how it goes.

Only sin can set you free.
Kindnesses will eat you whole.
Ask me how I know

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

No One's As Loved As The Most Newly Dead

We all know that we all die
And we all say so
Frequently. Still the amount

Of dying, however slow
To catch up with us,
Around us surprises us

With increasing frequency.
Life's one long goodbye
Sprinkled with little hellos.
Each hello says, Now

I intend to disappear,
And each is a betrayal
Of the need itself.
I intend to disappear.

Monday, August 14, 2017

By Shallow Rivers To Whose Falls Melodious Birds Sing Madrigals

My marks faded fast.
Everything I remembered
Was flimsy and anything
I could invent was too sad.

The one who knows it's no good
But keeps trying anyway?
I invented that.

The other who understood
With wildflowers come the ghosts?
I invented that.

But what did I remember?
There was a creek in the woods
Where I laid my love
Before stepping off the cliff.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


"Broke is only possible when you find you know where you are." ~Fortune Cookie Bot

The source of all tragedy
Is the untouchable past.
If anyone could go back
We'd fix everything.

"What channels connect
Debt, depth, and death?" a critic
Latching on to poets' puns

Asked rhetorically.
There are no channels, only
One, the river of the past,

Its headwaters forever
Receding, ever
Higher, never relevant,
The inconsolable past.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Ache of the Abandoned

To be alone is
Not to know oneself, themselves,
Any selves. The alone have

No peers. In the third world then
There is only pain, and you
Don't know what that is;

You can't define it.
Of all the plain, vague words, pain
Is the most present, the least
Amenable to capture.

What am I talking about?
Everyone leaves each other.
Everyone is abandoned.
Pain can hardly wait.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What's Done's Forever Undone

Still, there's something about change,
Time, that is, that doesn't change,
Weighing and wearing
Us down with its own changes,

Even in its rate of change.
Still, there's something true,
When we catch ourselves

Muttering in a meadow
Bleached yellow and bone
By weeks of drought, this isn't

Ever going to change.
Still, there's something scorched in us,
Something that kept defying
That can't be changed by dying.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

From the Waters Where I've Drowned

There is a reality
To what nothing means,
Amplified when you're dealing

With the little hours.
The song you loved without cause
And without true conviction

When you were happy
Returns a decade later
To chide, console, and haunt you.
Back then, you were a failure

In your own estimation
Only. Now you've won.
Now you wish you could sing more
Bravely of the sins you've done.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Deckhand Among These Men of Death

The captain slept and God kept
Himself to himself.
Old salt on deck was humming

Here is life and there is death,
And in between is dying.
I'm tired of life, fine with death,

But dying's terrifying.
Over and over
He hummed these lines while dozing,

And the deck rocked quietly
Under him, the clouds
Transformed themselves over him,
But he could not float away.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lonesome I Could

Why do you need to see them?
The moon set on Valhalla.
Stars shone on the lake.

Moths destroyed themselves
On glamorously glowing
Glass screens that no one human
Could have ever dreamed.

Tell me, ranging rover, why
One small man thrives, another
Dies? Dies irae,

The wrath of the world
Is awesome for those who live
In the world wrath created.
Moons and moths perish for it.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Theme of the Undeserving Devotee

From the point of view
Of the true idiot (know
Etymologically what
That term means?) the small insects

Self immolating
In the ear, the moon rising
To the west, over the lake,

The technical wife leaving
To sleep in a truck and dream
Of better lovers,

Are all attendants
To the glory of the stars,
Tiny, silent points of light
Burning with rage on approach.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Le Flâneur du Forêt

Life is the lover that breaks
All our hearts alike.
To be whole it is enough

To exist. To be broken
It's enough to live.
A little mist emerges
Near a cutbank of the creek,

Again and again.
Similar circumstances
Trick the brain each time's the same.
The mist exists and is whole

And then disperses.
The hidden observer lives
Crushed by that trick's persistence.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Cat Is a Complication

It would be so charming if
The Borrowers' wallpaper
Were not a fragment,

A museum's marble bust,
Once garishly painted, blank
Without pupil or iris,
A line by Sappho.

It would be so charming if
We could imagine
Ourselves into existence

Instead of having to wait
For existence to give us
Fuel for imagination.
You're looking at him.

Friday, August 4, 2017


The holy island
Is a little slip of land
Soon likely drowned by rising

Waves nothing to do with it
Or the history
Briefly scraping over it.

The holy island
Is a figment of a land
Once under lifespans of ice
Then bobbing up green again,

Settled, farmed, and drowned again.
The holy island
Was made for contemplation
By gods never knowing land.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

You Can't Be What You Are

Some poets declaim. I claim.
Every damned thing I affirmed,
Including that I'm lying,
I meant when I affirmed it.

I'm the brazen thief who killed
Priests, drank wine, stole gold,
And corrupted other thieves.

I am a good boy.
You would prefer a picture,
A cinematic rhythm.

I can't give you those.
I have an idea I have
Ideas. What someone tells you
Is never what someone knows.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

" "

Looks like nothing, but
Was something there and was it
Coming? Wish it would, and soon.

Emptiness needs to be framed
To seem anything like real.
You have to hang the zero
Before beginning

The quest for the empty set.
You have to conceive of sets
To see emptiness.

"Wings without a bird,"
Bill Knott called empty quotemarks.
Empty Robert Pinsky called
Bill Knott a thorny genius.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bed Riddance

Make yourself comfortable.
Your misery saves no one,
Least of all you who endure,
Hoping to be saved.

Make yourself comfortable.
The world will gnaw you
Anyway. Might as well stay.

Make yourself comfortable
Because it's always later
Than it was. Nothing

Ever truly rests.
Make yourself comfortable
If you can. No beginning
Ever abandons the end.