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.