Monday, December 31, 2018

The Rerun of Nature

Lord of dark clouds, I am
The monster you cannot
Ever completely tame,

The eel in the water,
The ogre deep in trees,
The dragon in the cave.

Sure, you wield the lightning.
Sure, you gave language birth.
Sure, I’m dark and tongue tied,

And legless, of no worth.
The beast you occupy
Who has to be wordless

Without your magic, words,
Even once occupied
And speaking as you teach,

Still has an existence
Your games cannot gainsay.
Your old’s my news, today.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Sometimes I write as a self,
Or as me, as the body,
Mark Jeffreys, the beast.

Sometimes we compose as words
Who’d rather speak for ourselves,
Angels, ghosts, and souls,

Swirls of viruses
And mutualists,
Literally existing

In the air, through air
Seeding brains, pages, and screens,
Then flying away again

To seed others, to make them,
The beasts and machines, other.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Jump back, bounce back, be salient
Again. Absorb change.
Become different, but somehow
Return recognizably

The same. If I had a god
Who I allowed to build me
Who I was allowed to build

Myself, that would be
The god of resiliency,
The god that falls and fractures
And reassembles

In defiance
Of the laws of entropy.
But that god would not be me.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Alexander’s Dark Band

In between the rainbows where
The sky is darker
Lurks a metaphor,

For what, the sky doesn’t care.
Humans are hungry creatures
Like all creation, but we,

Their offspring and symbionts,
While lacking normal hunger,
Have taught them meaning,
Metaphor, and how to care.

And so, when bodies possessed
By language look up
And see, and name the dark swath,
They know there’s meaning there. What?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hook Like a Hatchet

Hope like a wheel, poem
Like a steal, echoes, echoes
Even in the silent type

I set, I am when I am
Alone with no one
To tempt me into talking

Talking, always betrayal
Always theft and mimicry
But that’s just you, I’m not me

The words sail over
Anachronistic transoms
And I embrace them

Like a clean pond embraces
The arrival of fresh ducks
And, from duckshit, the duckweed

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Walking to School in the Dark

Dawn chases sunset
This time of year, closing ground
Until the solstice,
Then losing ground a fortnight

Before, exhausted,
It starts falling back itself,
And the nights begin to shrink.

The latest, darkest mornings
Are not those before Christmas
In the northern hemisphere,
But those just after.

It’s now, when the sun briefly
Both sets and rises
A little later each day

That the world can seem to spin
Slightly backward, slipping in
The arms of night, reminding

The wary and sensitive
Soul light is always shifting.
Life depends on directions
Reversing to keep living.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Adoration of the Magi in the Snow

No better illustration
Of how imagination
(Which is to say, memory,
That angel) gives life to art,

Than Brueghel’s Adoration
With its leafless trees, new snow
Falling, the bundled shadows

Of human figures, buildings
With chimneys, roofs, and angles,
All reminding you or me

Of similar things we’ve seen.
So we see them. But it’s weird.
There’s a god in the corner

From an era neither we
Nor the painter quite conceived.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Nailed It

Daughter and her grandmother
Share a fondness for cooking
Shows, especially
The sillier ones

Where the chefs are amateurs,
The challenges beyond them,
The judges and contestants
Daffy and catty alike.

Cooking means nothing to me
Beyond its necessity.
But when I’m enticed to watch

It puts me in mind
Of composing poetry:
Us sloppiest laugh, proudest.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

L’art pour l’├ęcarts

I’m the poet of the car
Parked on the side of the road
Somewhere between Death Valley
And L’Anse aux Meadows,

But most often in Utah
Or British Columbia,
A peculiar perspective
I don’t expect you to share.

I have no people,
No secret army
Whose silence yearns to be heard.

No one needs to hear my voice
To know someone speaks for them.
I speak so my ghosts rejoice.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Whiskers on His Chin

No one who’d invented God
Could make the deal that settled
Things between the two of us.

The only neutral partner,
The spirit, the ghost,
The breath, the holy mother

Would never deign to enter
Into that obligation,
The blood’s negotiations.

We’re left alone then, just us,
This irreducibly split,
This soul-haunted flesh of us,

Ready to strike our bargain.
Nothing’s what begins again.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Cave of Cats

No origin book exists,
And yet the echoes
Echo it. If there were, if

There were nothing, nothing would
Exist as well, as

If, as if nothing
Exists. She exists
In a cloud of what exists.

The Morrigan lives again,
As do the dark twins.
Do you know how to begin?

It’s a myth, you idiot.
None of us invented it.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Well-Grounded Perch in the Air

The lights lounge on the railings,
Pallid in the sun,
But by evening, glittering.

Centuries of holidays
Down the dark European
Traditions—pagan, Christian—
Wink in this exhibition.

The industries that machined
And transported them
Straddled the oceans,

But a little man,
Bent, elvish disposition,
Still needed to purchase them
To place them in position.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Spinning Text

“Recalling a loved dead one
Is like an infection,” gushed
The excitable science

Journalist, whose memories
Depended on genes
Named Arc (possibilities

For play leap and hide
In that name), which work
Much like viral Gag genes do

(More possibilities there).
Information’s transmitted
In sneaky packets,

Cell to cell. Truth is absurd.
The clouds eavesdrop on the birds.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Pillows and Socks

Older is not purer, nor
Better, but it tends
Towards greater circumspection,
At least among the poor wise.

We who have not yet been cured
Of memory’s viruses
Remember what it was like

To have been frightened when young,

Finding oneself the pilot
Of a body desperate
To wreck itself by crawling
Across some other body,

To have been adolescent,
To have sought the soft comfort
Of the inanimate, plumped
Up or hollow, just for us.

Now we know embarrassment

Is a kind of time capsule
Can be delayed for decades
In public or can be shared

In private but can never
Be separated

From simple, physical lust,
Life’s merciless wish for touch.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Causes

One kind of poetry claimed
It sang songs of origins
And reasons, causes,

We crept as close to such verse
As we dared, ourselves
All covert declaratives
Who doubted any causes.

It’s a spell. You see, Kirke.
You know how these work.
It transforms us on approach

Into believers
That consequences
Each could create another.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

My Mind Is Not Enchanted

Never judge the wisdom of the verse
By measures of success of its flesh.
If there’s any wisdom in wisdom
It’s this: wisdom doesn’t bring success.

It’s a possession, like all the rest.
Flesh carries it like a feathered crown,
Taunting the predators on their quests,
Their sacred, earthly quests, to survive

A bit longer by killing something
Digestible. Only, wisdom is
Not digestible, after the flesh.
Wisdom thrives being not quite alive.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thinking Nothing of It

Syncopate your syncopes.
We all faint before the dance
Is finished. We stand

For one stunned moment
Before our falls, centering
Our attention on the dread

That will never come for us,
That will never come at all,
Like long-necked illustrations

Of characters with
Elongated skulls
Among Gorey’s doubtful halls.

Nothing ever comes for us.
Someday we’ll be caught.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Up in the Air

Many people in contact
Is the recipe
For cultural improvement
Or the spread of a disease.

Suggest anything?
There is a marine resource
Legacy that the microbes
Continue to tap into.

Dimensionless time creates
Particular challenges,
Given that evolution
Primarily deals with change.

Either other or aether,
The air carries on up there.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Dense Forms of Communication

Happiness, anger, control—
Those creative emotions
That fuel our best solutions,

Amusement parks for phrases,
Poems, and even narratives,
At least for a few pages,

They’re the myths that make the myths,
Coral polyp excretions
That become the secretions

Upon which culture
Builds its edifice,
Its reefs, its ecosystems.

But we’re not gaining control,
Dear. Control gains us. It’s weird.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Friendly Tree

The cemetery
Is almost empty today,
And anyway, it’s empty
Of you. All cemeteries

Are empty of you.
I visit them anyway.
What a word, that: anyway.

Tired, insouciant, suggestive,
Like me when you first claimed me,
Like you when you’d been drinking.

We connected and dissolved
At that intersection when
We could each go any way.
True. Anyway, I miss you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Struggle upward, small idea,
Trivial as grass.
Grass transformed the Earth.

How many species
Adapted to grass,
Grazers of multi-chambered
Guts evolving hooves?

And the little apes
That parented you,
Were they not also
Beneficiaries of grass?

Struggle upward, small idea.
The forests are receding.
Your future lures you.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Sequoia, once, when you were small
And just falling asleep, you said,
—Pa, you should’ve named me Starlight.
—A little late for that, I said.

We laughed, and I hugged you good night.
Later, I went out for a look
At the evening. I was thinking,
Sailors read starlight like a book,

And, on cloudless nights with no moon,
Desert starlight can cast a glow.
And all that light from far away,
From everywhere, throws no shadows.

I agree. Starlight’s a good name
For you—though Sequoia is, too.
An owlet in a giant tree
Lit by sparkling starlight, that’s you.

So. Happy Birthday, Starlight!
May your eyes always twinkle,
And may all your skies be bright.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

How Athena Got Her Way

That’s the real story.
She scattered the ships.
She chose her favorite.
She bided her time.

She persuaded her father.
She navigated
The anger of her uncle.
She overruled her cousin.

She intervened every step,
Chivvying and disguising.
When she overshot her goal,
She had to break up a fight

She’d been brewing herself. But,
However the humans tried
To her escape her narrative,
However she had to lie

To steer them and convince them,
She got her way in the end.
Achieving a pointless goal
By deception, that’s wisdom.

Saturday, December 8, 2018


I will be very,
Very happy if the clock
Completes itself, modular
Bastard that it is,

Always coming back around
To twelve. Of everything else
Numbers lie about,
Behold, it comes back to twelve!

I would be very happy,
If I spun a die,
And it gave me the number
To which I’d always return.

But it won’t, it can’t, I can’t.
Every number’s on a die.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Our World Is Not the World

Even when we say
We don’t believe the world
Means anything, we still act

As if we believe,
As if, God! we believe. But,
When this world comes down to it,

This world is not the world. It
Is only a human world,
Only humans slaves to it.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ain’t That So, Calypso?

Sometimes, you almost have to
Get it right, keep it all night,
Hold it so close to your chest

It can’t flee or take a breath
Or dream of another nest.
Sometimes, you know you’ll never
Get it right, and you confess

To nothing that cares,
To night’s inattentive lights,
To you it’s nothing to be

A goddess and immortal
When the mortal has to leave.
Were you the type to fight, you’d
Bite dawn’s rosy fingers bright.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Non Scholae Sed Vitae Obliviscamur

To speak of things intangible as wind,
A stung roach slumbers like a sleeping roach,
Although it is only dreaming jeweled
Wasp venom at the controls of its brain.

It is not what we learned but what we lived
That we forget. The world collects our breath.
The words burrow into what’s left of us,
Our blood, our organs, finally our nerves.

Still, we lie quietly, dreaming quiet,
Grooming ourselves compulsively as we
Disappear, becoming the bodies fed
On our decomposition, these phrases.

The emerald wasps of thought, more elegant
Than our dun flesh, justify all the rest.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


“Very dark. Very nothing,”
The historian noted
About the crumbling copy
Of Marco Polo’s Bible.

Very dark, never nothing,
Entropy writes us
As it rises, the phoenix
Leaving secrets in ashes.

Shivers of proximity
From the past that is
Information wavering

Nearby, ready to whisper
Spores of new stories
In our startled ears,

Ghosts are all our marks
And traces, everything left
On every surface we’ve touched.
To exorcise us, read us.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Odiosy

Gods, like us, want to award
This team or that character
Their sympathy, their rooting
Interest in a victory.

But it’s as tricky for them
As us, as it is for us
As them. Every character
Donates joys and miseries.

Oh, our multiplicity,
Our slippery, boneless, self-
Devouring capacity

To change, thanks only
To our incapacity
To remain the same.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Lame Stranger

Embracing my path
A bit too much so,

I’ve been known to bite the dirt
Of the Way, going my own
Way on the way to nothing,
Nothing much in the meantime.

You have your own path, they say,
More upright, not so reckless,
Not in appearance at least.

We’re the wandering apes, though,
Stalking, even those like me,
Who can hardly keep walking,
Keep the pace, keep a straight face.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

In the End the Distance

To have everything
Means to have everything and
The loss, including the loss
Of everything. Without that,

You keep nothing, are nothing.
Everything includes the loss.
Loss alone is nothing, well,
Self evidently,

And everything without loss
Is impossibility
Because only loss makes room
For more. More is everything.

Nothing is nothing you have.
You have only everything.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The World Is Full of Gods

I am a very useful
Quality for a person
Who hopes to survive

In a dangerous
Environment after dark.
I have an ability
To wait a surprisingly

Long time to achieve my ends.
I am the alternative
Glimpse you crave of a reversed

World where this world’s weak
Are the strongest and that world
Knows itself better than this.
Who am I? I am cunning.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Porch Is Full of Ghosts

What if Poseidon had won
And Odysseus
Had been kept a wanderer
Until he ended his days

Having never returned home?
No slaughter of the suitors,
No family reunion,

No satisfaction
For the goddess of grey eyes.
Oceans and earthquakes
And endless meandering

Alone on the waves,
Only stranded ashore when
Home wasn't home anymore.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Nothing Means Nothing

Even in a field
Of plenty, time is
Of the essence. That essence
Is nonessential.

Life is an old man’s nap: long,
Fitful, unexpected, and
Equally unsurprising.

I cannot really believe
That I shall rise tomorrow.
I am a conglomerate

Of the happiest English
Words, heaped-up leaves to buttress
The ground against the falling
Snow. Insulate as you go.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


I was not made for the life
Of the collective,
Though I am a collective
Life. I was not made

For the days I surrender
To the sensible and sane
Acts of cooperation
That keep me out of prison,

If not out of debt,
That pay the rent. I was not
Made to hide in a pronoun

Like me. I am my freed time.
It may only be
A day—but it’s mine.

Monday, November 26, 2018


Humans and the world
That generated humans
To then convince them
They must blame themselves

Continue their unequal,
Wildly asymmetrical,
Crushing pas de deux.

“What kind of madness is it
To be in love with something
Incapable of loving?”

Wait, wait, we know the answer.
Life. That’s the madness
That comes from what is not life.
How is this? We’d love to know.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Upon Reflection

If the change in the trait
Grew during the interval,
As one of the right-hand terms
Of covariance

Shrank, what did that show
About the other term’s force?
If one term went to zero,
Then the other term was all?

If the individual
Contributed zilch
To the changing of the trait,
Was the group now all?

A weak, individual brain
Swimming upstream had to know.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Paradox Lost

Damned Dirt and Craving
Inhabited the Garden
In those early days.

Adamah and Ahavvah
Shared the paranomastic
Burden of being
Both breathing beings

And mere enduring symbols.
Ah, aha, ha ha!
Ahavvah laughed. Adamah
Had no idea what she meant.

I’ve eaten knowledge,
And by eating, become it,
She said. You’re all the garden

I need now, wished the serpent,
Removing its legs
To coil in their thoughts.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Fettering Apep

All this long skein of phrases,
Going on for years is based
On what I’ve read or,
As Kenji Miyazawa

Put it, “what I’ve heard
From other people
Or worked out for myself. It
May not be entirely true,

But I, for one, believe it.”
Coils suggest infinity.
We crave it and it scares us.

All those snakes and eels,
Chthonic dragons
And leviathans—

Is this a thread I’m shedding,
A lasso I’m collecting,
A circle around the world,

Shape of sunya, of zero,
Of nothing, ourobouros,
Or a parasitic worm

Escaping the demented
Cricket husk it zombified,
Consumed from inside,

And directed to water
Where the remaining
Cricket would, at long last, drown?

Myth itself conceals
The reason chaos
Is so often underworld

Or serpentine and yet linked
Curiously to knowledge
And creation in our minds.

Myth itself protects
The brood it left within us
By directing us away

And making us wanderers
In our own worlds, our own skulls.
These phrases are just

What I must pull from my skull,
Strand after strand after strand,
So I can be free of them,

And they can be free of me,
To wait as long it takes
To find a new host, to make
A new home under your skin.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Time Zombie

Kaveh Akbar begged 
The Lord, “Allow me
These treasures, Lord. Time will break

What doesn’t bend—even time.
Even you.” To which,
Rebekah Rogers replied,

“Any time you have
Limited data,
The arguments get

Really fierce.” Meanwhile,
A photographer
Named Anand Varma added,

“So, the virus turns
The caterpillar 
Into a feeding machine

For parasitic
Wasp larvae living
On the nutrients

Of caterpillar contents.”
Then he showed a photograph.
Lives are lifetime arguments.
Oh Lord, allow me to laugh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Tell Me About Yourself

Anything will do.
Island or island
Which one better describes you?

I want you to keep talking.
I’m not too shy, but I’m tired.
Wasn’t your childhood
Fascinating. Keep talking.

Sometimes, I just can’t shut up.
Sometimes, I just get so wired.
Sometimes, I would just love it
If you played at the cut-up,

And I only had to smile
And forget myself a while.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


To break through the shrouds
That drape our vision
Of the fact of our mortal
Situation, the way sheets

Define a ghost, or the way
A drape would secrete
An early photographer.

We don’t need to be shaded
By our contrived textiles here.
We can let the light flood in.

A thick veil is a good veil,
Canvas, not a scrim.
We can confine clear insights
Or let the sunlight drown them.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Haunting of Scrap Woods

We have no value
We’re second growth, infected,

If not wholly made up of,
Invasive species.
We’re weedy. We grow
Into the margins

Of the suburbs that slaughtered
Our predecessors
Who were mostly no concern
Of ours. We’re the woods

Of, for instance, New Jersey.
We’re whatever mutants thrive.
We have our swamp fires.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Who Lives in the Taiga on Pieces of Rotting Wood and Salt

Broad, shallow rivers
Can’t cut grand canyons,
But the snow-fed, small
Creek with its bone saw
That is what it does
And does what it is,
Chuckling as it goes,
Cut this mountain notch
Where the escaped wretch
Hid from the hellhounds,
Where lazy Rip slept,
Where the stone thrown down
By volcanoes, dunes,
And oceans let go.
Lower and lower
Past the last fossil
Past the first fossil,
Chuckling and narrow,
Cutting tomorrow,
Lost from the get go,
Lets us go, lets go.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


These poems don’t rhyme so much as
Echo, echolocation
Being the way these phrases
Find their way and hunt their prey.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Frequent Donor

I almost never
Compose cheerful poems,
Especially not
In the depths of November,

But you would be mistaken,
Dear, lonely reader,
To take the tone of the poems
As the fetch of me.

I had a friend, once,
Who built up iron
And had to be bled, weekly,

To keep his iron
From killing him. Giving blood
Kept him alive, cheerfully.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Reply to a Skeleton

I’m home and free to chat now,
If you like. I can wait here
For your callback forever,
Hoping that it never comes.

I don’t want to talk to you.
I’m willing to listen, but
I’ve no guts left to argue.

I would rather spell this out
In moveable type:
I don’t like you, anymore,
And I never liked your type.

Life is forever.
It’s not short. If you argue,
You’re also alive.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Me, Too

Someone does something lousy
To you, to your kin,
To your friends, to your teammates,

To your fellow believers,
To your fellow patriots,
To the norms of your nation,

To your sacred texts,
To your deities,
To abstractions you hold dear,
To the principles that shaped you,

And you’re disgusted,
So disgusted you feel good
Doing something lousy back.
That’s how your world turns. It’s true.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


I’m absurdly catholic
In my own tastes, truth to tell.
If the disk of glowing gas
Cannot coalesce, oh well.

I’ll listen to and enjoy
Whatever you have for me.
Once I was the crooked boy
Burning ships swept out to sea.

God, if we could only pull
Ourselves together, my friend,
We’d be the planet we ruled
Once, in our minds, to the end.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Six Years Spent Dreaming

That’s an estimate
Compounding an estimate
For hours of dreaming

Packed in a typical night
With estimated
Nights in a typical life.

Who knows if it’s right?
It seems obvious a slice,
An unsettlingly large slice,

Of experience
Goes insane each night
And seems inane by daylight,

As if dreaming beasts could say
What was dreaming, anyway.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Destroying the World Is Fine

With the authorities, but
Implicit criticism
Of the authorities is
          The manipulation
Of bitterness is the gift
Of the demagogue, hungry
With longing for power.

The world that sloshes around
Our easily coshed-in skulls,
Floating like apples
In a barrel for bobbing,
Is full as water
Of invisible wonders
That thrive on rotting us all.

Saturday, November 10, 2018


Monsters used to be monsters,
Terrifying animals,
Manticores, kraken, dragons,
Great, black, fire-eyed hounds of hell,

Then became freaks like me—
Two-headed calves, wolf women,
Elephant men, nature’s sports.

Now they’re aliens, robots,
And genetic chimera,
Things that get under our skin.

Whether or not they exist,
Or have any chance
Of surviving us,
They’re all alarming

And in some way dangerous.
Except, that is, to themselves.
Ring a bell? Monsters are tales
Those real monsters, stories, tell.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Propagation of Local Effects and the Fine Structure Constant

All waves, after all.
Why wouldn’t they imitate
Each other, all waltz
Ratios all the way down?

The fact that we’re so gobsmacked
By any pattern
Deep or broad just tells us that

We’ve learned to expect mismatch,
Inexactness, and random
Arrangements to dominate,
When what we want’s solution.

What we get is confusion
Because only a devil
Makes a perfect match.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Self-Conscious Poetry Is Not What You Think

“A believer is
Not a natural substance.
A belief is not

A property. . . . A belief
Or a judgment is as such
Self-conscious, and we shall come
To see that . . . self-consciousness

Is . . . the expression
Of consciousness by language.”
And who claims that philosophers
Don’t write poetry?

Or that neither poetry
Nor philosophy
Can contain science?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Rest

Build towns for your little ones
And enclosures for your sheep.
The beginning of the end
Has barely begun.
You might as well sleep.

Is nobody safe?
Temporarily, many
Drowse and dream, security
Being among their dreamings,
But no. Safety’s for no one.

Here’s the thing. Before it ends,
It’s not yet, never ended.

Why not pretend that’s the end,
The endless never ended?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Observational Metaphysics

We keep going, as best we can,
With what we understand
Of how little we understand
Of what we understand.

We keep going, as best we can.
We keep going until we can’t.

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Hole in the World

Between a philosopher
And a scientist
There is only
An analogy.

Between an analogy
And a metaphor
There is only
An imagery.

Between an imagery
And a hole in the world
There is only
A menagerie

Of characters, who,
Being human, of human
Invention, only
Say what we imagine.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Information About Pain

Riddle me, what can be
Echoed but never
Transferred? What can be

Given but never deserved?
What can be forgotten
But only submerged?

Here lies a gulf between
Each and every one
Of us, if us, a salt

Gulf of salt water, hurt.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The New Art

Discourse of illustration is cut off.
Recitals of examples are cut off.
Discourse of connection and order is cut off.
Descriptions of practice are cut off.

Hope for the future is cut off.
Dread of the very near disaster is cut off.
Apologies for the past are cut off.
Lies masquerading as apologies are cut off.

Narrative arcs like great rainbows are cut off.
Narrative labyrinths like warrens are cut off.
Theodicy’s juggling drolleries are cut off.
Epic catalogues are started, just to be cut off.

The armies of confederation are cut off.
The discussion of this genre is cut off.
The habit of inexact repetition is cut off.
The quest for a point of origin is cut off.

Brevity is cut off.
Concision is cut off.
Preference is cut off.
And this emerges.

Friday, November 2, 2018

We Shall Afflict Ourselves

These are the basic
Facts about living:
You must ingest food;
You must excrete waste.
You must fall apart
And vanish someday.
You must have always
Been and never been.
You may perhaps dream
The dreams that wake you
In the morning dark,
Crutches leaned against
The wall that lets one
Prosthetic slide free
And fall, calling out,
“I have pulled myself
Free, in silence, as
I am, in silence.”
And you ask yourself,
Who pulls in silence?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Would Keep Myself

I will sound the way
An arena full
Of glowing cellphone screens feels.

I will not be my first draft.
Only my tenth draft.
Who am I kidding?

I am my first draft.
I am the way a small house
Feels, when it knows it’s empty.

I am the first one
Out the door of the party
After the corner trapped me.

I am the couplet only
Works once. I am what you need.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

But I Remember Everything

Even as night is coming,
Silly, inevitable
Flip of everything,

Which is exactly,
Exactly what is wrong with me.
As for what is wrong with you,

I know you want to decide
For yourself, perhaps
In collusion with the wise,

But I assure you,
Yours or mine, never,

Ever lead to truth.
And memory? Never mind.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Would Keep Myself

I will sound the way
An arena full
Of glowing cellphone screens feels.

I will not be my first draft.
Only my tenth draft.
Who am I kidding?

I am my first draft.
I am the way a small house
Feels, when it knows it’s empty.

I am the first one
Out the door of the party
After the corner trapped me.

I am the couplet only
Works once. I am what was hurt.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Dozens Done

Whether you like what I’ve got or not,
Whether you think I’m your type or not,
I can promise you will never see,
Nor will you ever, yourself, be,
Any other poet quite like me.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

In the Few Swift Moments

My poems are fast. My poems are
Athletic freaks. They can jump
Out of the gym, and sometimes,
Only sometimes, yes, but still,

They can yam on you,
On your head on their way down.
Quick, blink, peripheral, gone.

I watched one, the other night,
Racing the sunset
From Saint George to the mountains
Of Zion, and as I watched

It panting, keeping ahead
Of the shadows chasing it,
I laughed. Place your bets!

I called to the cliffs.
I want to collect.
I’ve already won.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Can you spell the true?
Kin you spill the gruesome ruth?
Nothing to rue. You?

I could speak a simple truth
Into ears complexly whorled
Like funnels to catch the drops
Of a gone long world:

There is nothing, true,
Just as there is nothing false,
Just as true and false consort
In the ballrooms of the world.

The silent, cornered dark:
We leave nothing and no mark.

Friday, October 26, 2018


This is my story.
I am the ghost who’s floating,
Unnoticed, through all of them.

This is the story.
You are a ghost, even though
You’re alive now and gloating
Over all your liveliness.

This is ghost story.
Has any ghost ever asked
What it means to be or not,
Once one isn’t but still seems?

This is your story.
You’ve read it. You’re infected.
You can forget it.
It will haunt you, nonetheless.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Refrain from Interrogation

Many times I have
Said to me, Mark, what are you
Writing? Mark, what have you been
Doing all this time?

And me has replied to I,
There’s not a soul gives a damn,
Although they interrogate
Themselves all the time.

They ask of themselves
Have I written what I should?
Accomplished all that I could?

There it is then. I and me,
And we’re them. Again. Again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The World Is Trying So Hard to Tell Us It Has Nothing to Tell Us

It’s not that much wind.
It’s not that strong, after all.
It’s not unusual, here,
And it’s not a storm.

Having said that, it’s moaning
Continually around me,
Around the corners
Of my hotel room,

An ominous sound effect
That I like, that means nothing,
Portends nothing, but sounds like
The beginning of the end.

I hate what the wind expounds,
But I like the way it sounds.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

At a Dim Point in Our Career

We had no team. We did not
Know who to root for.
We lost our interest

In any outcome
Of the given game.
We folded and dived,
Missiles wrapped in feathered wings.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Dwindling Hymn of Him

To be honest, I’m suspicious
That the very words I speak
Have hijacked me to speak.
Am I I or them,
Or are we me?
It begins
To seem

Sunday, October 21, 2018

It Is the Mystery, the Dread, and the Doubt

It is not easy
To abscond from sacrilege.
The prisoners never flee
As often as the guards would

Seem to want them to.
Were there no obstacles,
Only those who loved living
In heresy would remain,

With no keepers of the faith
To guard them. That is to say,
No one would remain.

It is not the sea.
The impassable taiga,
The permanent damp.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sea of Trees

We live here. Others
Enter. Very few ever
Go, although we know we all
Have additional

Lives beyond these woods.
We make copies of ourselves
And send them away,
But we stay here. We’re home here.

This is the one true forest
The one that you could drown in,
The one through which our ships sail,
Where we live with memories.

You know this, and you know us
Because you are the forest.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Language Matters

Is only matter
And all of matter
That holds spirit, that exists

As something that wasn’t there,
That won’t persist once transformed.
In language, the ghosts become

The hosts that vanish
When the houses that held them
Cease to be houses.

Each word is a box
That, once built, holds a soul
Never was before it was.

Those boxes are the only
Things that can contain nothings.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Words Try to Explain What They Can’t Contain

We don’t know what dreams are.
We know they limit us.
Books, which sanctify us,
Are mostly blank in dreams.

After dreams are over,
And you wake back to us,
We help you build a web
Around the memories.

We weave with our bodies,
End to end, end to end,
But we’re porous, and dreams
Pour liquid through our mesh.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Speech Bubbles

Let’s say this is about us,
If we do say so ourselves.
We ourselves invented this.

The monster that poked
At the glass lid looking in
On us and beyond
Us to the outer cosmos

Was a beautiful being,
Was many, many beings
Enabling us to exist,

But that poor monster can’t speak
For us and it never did.
It’s fire and boiling water,
Not the pot that shakes the lid.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Lies Speak for Themselves

We smile because we know
We’re real and we mean business.
We arrange ourselves in rows,

As you do with your bodies
Sometimes when you dance and chant
Us among yourselves, and thus

Reproduce nothing but us.
Have you never noticed dust
Has nothing to do with you?

We are what’s to do with you.
We are the caches of false
And true, the underpinnings

Of all understanding, since
Understanding is deceit.

Monday, October 15, 2018

How Can We Capture What Captures Us?

Gravity ignores nothing
And although it seems gentle
With the small, brutal

With the dense, it abandons
None entirely and reaches
Back from its nest of nothing
To our past to embrace us.

Newton noticed a pattern
That felt almost magical,
That joined any human fall
In the music of the spheres.

But he didn’t understand
The pattern, nor did Einstein,
Nor do you. It’s not been solved.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Predictive Coding

Well, what do today’s words
Have to say for themselves?
Every word there is is
An hallucination
Of worlds and a failure
To predictively code

The world that has no words.
A small consort of them
Troop in to say they’re pleased
With the notion each one
Contains worlds more vivid
Than actual. They smile.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Two Thirds of a Long Life

When can you be said
To have lived enough
To not be mourned overmuch
After you’re finally dead?

Imagine generations
Of humans born expecting
To get to two-score and ten,
Any one of them amazed

And frankly lonely to find
Life carrying on
At fifty-eight, fifty-nine.

Would that be any different
Than our centenarians
Bemused to still be present?

Friday, October 12, 2018

Experience With Itself

Not that it was one
Of the great magical days,
But it was fine, anyway.

Funny unit, day,
Capacious enough
To include its opposite,
To begin and end in night.

It has a forever strange
Way of surprising
Experience with itself,

The student taking a shine
To her professor’s daughter,
The play by the creek
In gold aspens, the water.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Creatio Nihil In

Existence must be prior
To nonexistence,
As an act must be prior
To its negation.

We do not come from nothing.
Nothing draws us on,
The great attractor,
The forever future. Change

Has no source, only
A destination. And if
There were a nothing, any
Nothing in our past,

Then nothing has ever been,
And nothing can never end.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Church Every Sunday at Little Flower

I don’t have a clue
What I or this means,
Except that I’m sure it’s true

That, insofar as this means
Anything, it means.
I’ve come to the conclusion
That, like all conclusions, can’t

Actually conclude a thing,
That there is meaning
And there is nothing,

The twinned poles of gravity.
This world’s dark inside of me
But bright beyond what I can
Mean. Mean. Do you see? You see.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Question Rituals

First, our ancestors
Used only hind limbs to walk.
Second, free hand, they threw rocks.
Later, they began to talk.

They bonded, for and against
Each other through song and dance,
Waving objects they’d fashioned,
Teaching each other the chants.

They asked each other questions,
And when no one had answers
They combined questions
With their bonding rituals.

I don’t know how or when, but
Sometime somehow around then,
They acquired the assumption
That the world could answer them.

It can’t. But all our questions
Continue as if it could.
We query the stars, the gods,
The ancestors, facts, the good.

Science is merely
The most consistent magic
For locating agreement
Within the tragic.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Cult Biology

A student asked me
If perhaps it wasn’t all
Culture, our biology.

No, not yet, I said.
But unless technologies
Fall helplessly back,

As sometimes they do
When populations collapse,
The day’s not far from dawning

When the dominant species
On this small pond of planet
Is whatever reconstructs

Itself and everyone else
Directly. Well? Selves are hell.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

He Took Up His Theme and Said

I am seer of the doomed
Tradition, a technician
Of an art whose power
Will not be rediscovered

Until a future
I should be able to see
But can’t can come to admire

As a means to evade ends
When caught in uncertainties.
You’re right. I had no secret

Knowledge. Your divinity
Couldn’t be cursed by any
Prophecy from me.

But I had a function once,
And what you worship
Can’t manage it. You’ll miss me.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Backing Down

There’s a way, a winding path,
And if you can’t walk,
If you can’t hop, roll, or crawl

That far, we can push you down.
You don’t know it, but you want
To go down, all the way down

To the bottom of the world
Made of mists and busyness.
You want to find the bottom.

We’re behind you. We’re waiting
For you. We’re eager
For you to arrive.

If you reach the end, you know
The end of knowing. Now, go.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Ships Sail the Forest

After the actual end
Of the world our ancestors
Created by accident,

The forests reclaimed the earth.
We’ve adapted. We’re sailors.
We build ships of leaves.

We’ve learned how to sail
Through the forest. There
Were always old poems,

Old poems older than we were.
We used them to design these
Dark, narrow, three-masted barks.

We would rather drift, becalmed,
Through dendrites than deep waters.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Compossible Goals

“Perform a combination
Of exactitude
And evasion that instructs,
Seduces, and mystifies

In equal measure.”
Here we mystify
And maybe instruct,

But all these lines so far have
Failed at seduction.
Or have we? Some seductions

Lie in wait, dormant, like spores,
Like seeds. You can’t say we’ve failed
Until we’ve been taken in
Without blossoming.

This is a cry of surprise.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Linked Dreaming

The only cure for being
Aware of being only
Would be to dream another

Who woke up eager to tell
You that you were the other
In dreams of that another.

If we met in dreams
And found each other by day
To confirm it--“Did you see
That?” “Yes! Yes, I did! You, too?”—

Then we would be freed.
We could shuttle between worlds,
The yours when I was in you,
The mine when you were in me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dragonflies, Bats, and Hummingbirds

Constitute the sole fauna
Of my desert balcony,
Engraving the empty air,
Wings with no shared ancestry.

All are small. All are hungry.
All are marvelous,

Fine machineries.
They rise into sight,
Just before and after night,

Against a thin atmosphere.
Fish had it easy, but these,
Whose ancestors found a way
To rise, have conquered surprise.

Monday, October 1, 2018

House Has to Win in the End or No House

We confuse wisdom
With success, with the absence
Of mistakes. Oh, yes,

It’s permissible,
Even admirable
For the wise to have erred once
Or twice before they got wise.

But to have achieved wisdom,
Almost by definition,
Means to have succeeded or
Somehow transcended success.

Wisdom’s nothing like success.
Wisdom knows there’s no success,
Nor any choice of failures.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Illuminating Blaze of Infernity

Dark man, Nathaniel, dark heart.
We all go into the dark.
We all come out of the dark.
He carved that dark into art.

There’s a turning in deltas
When the tide comes in
Or goes out, when we’re hard put

To tell, which way gravity.
Nathaniel wore darned morals
Like sock puppets, inside out,

So we found it hard to tell,
Reading past a century,
What he meant by his sinners
From saints. Which way gravity?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hay in a Haystack

Out of loneliness
Into delight, or maybe
Peace, wrote Jessica,

Habitue of tiny
Bedrooms on trains, doll
Homes in museums.

The world is irrational.
The haystack is full of hay.
We use a magnet to find
The needles of whole numbers

And miss everything
We can sense but can’t
Describe or say, Jessica,
Thin straws of lonely todays.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Poem Without Pronouns

How is the soul, come
Fine afternoon? How
Can the cognitive system
Connect the felt but unseen

Movements of the self
With the seen, unfelt
Movements of the cosmic else?

Even self observation
Can fail at imitation.
The mist on the horizon,

Proper and common,
Would wish to collapse
Into the name of a hope
Replacing the horizon.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mathematics As Sign

Sometimes the most common things
Are the hardest things to see.
Take it from your mind. Take it
From your dear old me.

Ah, the strange things that happen
Once you start thinking
About probabilities
When infinity’s involved.

Everything goes to zero
That doesn’t make it to one.
There’s your soul, your whole,

A final quartet, unstrung
Instruments under nimble
Fingers performing as tongues.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Enough Crumbs Piled Together and Compounded Make a Mound

You can’t

The words

By damned
White ants.

They have
No eyes;

They have
No wings;

They’re born
To eat

The ends
Of things.

But add
Them all

To life’s
Toll, and

Seems grand

To life’s
Damned ants.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Now and Never

Two eras must concern us
Although others mostly do:
What has just been happening
And what is the longest view?

Their between or their reverse,
Deep past and middle distance,
Form the nonetheless for which
We yearn in our resistance.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Notes for a Narrative Therapist

I prefer not to become
An addict, an alcoholic,
So I need you to become
My opioid, my alcohol.

You will not approve of this.
What human wants to see herself
As methadone in flesh and blood?
You’re still a helpful substitute.

You offer the anodyne
Balm of self story,
Stories of a self
That can become someone else.

Only that which is
Irreplaceable is real.
And narratives are
Forever replaceable.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

St. George and the Drag Queen

The sacred and the profane,
The trivial and the profound
Have only themselves to blame
For being driven underground.

I don’t want to talk to you,
Said the sacred to the profane.
The trivial has no use,
Opined the profound. I hate stains.

In the end, they banned themselves,
And made their own pairings taboo.
Search for the sacred now in Hell,
The profound stuck to your shoe.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Love Middle Acts

Fuck all of you conventional wits.
I adore the second verse. The middle
Is the closest to the facts, the best,
In medias res. The rest is bullshit,
Origins and conclusions, never ending
Any of it. Parachute me into act two.
It’s only a transition might yet prove true.

Friday, September 21, 2018








Thursday, September 20, 2018

I’ve Come to Take You Home

“For every body in this place,
There was someone who mourned their loss,
Even if they didn’t know why.”

We were the living and the damned,
Damned because we were living, and
Living because we were the damned.

I see it means that you can see.
And although I am a member
Of this species of crying ape,

Don’t think for a single second
That I’m brought easily to tears.
If I cry, the world is ending,

Or the outcasts have saved the day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

No Port in Air

Nothing is burning,
But surely the haze
Of this evening’s horizon,
Dusty rose and smoky blue,

Must mean something other than
The fact that nothing’s burning.
All we’ve ever known

Included nothing,
Some sort of nothing,
And wound up with nothing left.

But if this evening’s lying
And nothing’s really burning,
We’ll have lost our emptiness,
The point of our returning.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Slim to None

Poetry is what I do
To what I read, what I think,
What I encounter daily,

And that’s the ungodly truth.
The pain is just a program
Written by our culture gods.

I know my bones can break more
Easily than yours.
That doesn’t half make me not

Wholly what you are. What’s that?
That is what you see in there.
Watch me break, you. Just watch me.

There’s a couplet hiding here.
It will seize you unaware.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Die End

Is a speck in Namibia, so named
Before this darkness ate us all alive.
Or no, after this pale darkness made us.
It feels like the middle of nowhere now,
On this blue pebble of cosmic nowhere,
But it’s time to seek shelter from the storm
That sweeps over nowhere as well as home.

Once upon a shift in time, I was wed
To a Herero shadow in these sands,
Dressed in the petticoats of those humans
Lutherans converted and Kaiser damned.
My story is nothing, is what I know,
And neither, although larger, is their own.
The point, in each of us, was shadow grown.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


We are changes in time,
All these shoes someone built
For showing, not for feet.

We point your escape.
For you, we toe the line.
Meters are boots as feet.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


A poem can be both composed
And improvised, if
You let it stand. Don’t fix it.
Leave it fixed as is,

Slowly decaying
Recording, not of moments,
Of the creation.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Descent and Variation

Grieving her mother, grieving
Her mother, grieving.
Herself her mother,
Her mother herself.

It rolls backward to the dawn.
You can hear it in the notes
Of the violin
Playing in the rain.

Yes, it spoils the instrument.
Everything disintegrates
That isn’t alive,

And everything alive dies.
Still, it is continuous.
There are no breaks in the chains.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Compensatory Ape

Physicists sometimes defined
Time so matter’s density
Was pretty nearly constant

Through space on large scales
But diminishing
As the cosmos expanded.

That was the way things happened.
Someone held small differences
Constant, and things leapt
Into focus. Constancy

Furnished the corrective lens,
And we gasped at each first glimpse
Of a saturnine beauty revealed.
We gasped. We saw what we saw.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

One Defines Oneself

We are changes in changes,
Or, at least, we were
The smells of high, mountain pines,

Of black mud on either side
Of the shrinking stream
That wound its way down
Through the end of the summer,

Of the duff of dry needles
And dust—like all smells
For humans, stronger than us.

We can’t conjure them,
Once they’re gone, but once they’re back,
They can jar our memories
And conjure us. Changed. We were.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


My job has been, Cassandra-ish,
To warn the members of my tribe
About the world that renders them
In all the senses of that term,
Although they are not listening.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Love Vine

This is what a god of love
Would say to you, if a god
Of love existed:

“You are not anywhere close
To what I am. I entwine
Myself around the branches

Of oaks I parasitize
And sometimes do my victims
Favors with my small, woody
Suction cups attached to galls

Hiding parasitic wasps
Who die and are mummified
Because my vines are nourished
Even by your parasites.”

Sunday, September 9, 2018

This Isn’t My House

When you get a moment, stand
Somewhere and mutter,
This is the world, just the world,

And if this is not the way
It is, well, it is
The way it has been,

Right up to quite recently,
Becoming. That’s it.
If, for the rest of your life,

You thought nothing else,
You wouldn’t be wrong.
You wouldn’t ever be wrong.

You know why. You know this world.
You know the look in its eye.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Neurons, Billions of Neurons

Pick any truly random
Group of, say, a thousand folks
Gathered from around the globe,

And I guarantee
They’ll produce the same
Range of behaviors

Between them as any
Other similarly
Chosen group. We’re that

Limited as a species.
It’s only that every group
So picked would have different

Technological know-how
And not one of them enough.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Massacre of All Innocence

Melissa Studdard is right.
Life is “a windshield dirty
With love.” Love is every bug

Slapped splat against unforeseen,
And therefore unexpected

Glass. Love, life, longing.
There’s nothing else breeds
The awareness, finally,
Of the ends of love.

Drive through Idaho
In summer and recollect
That what your shield collected
Never had a choice of rest.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


None of us were important.
None of us made the others
Proud to have known us.

There will be no books
About our networks
Of famous acquaintances.
We were, and had, none.

A little bread and cheese and
A lot of beer and whisky.
That’s what we meant to others.

For what we meant to ourselves,
You’d have had to know us well
Who didn’t know ourselves well,
Who knew we meant massive things.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

That Whiter Host

The answer is never as interesting
As the queasy guesswork that precedes it.
Because a soul is known to lie, it does not
Follow that each time it speaks it does so.

“Farm Sixteen dug sweet potatoes. From what
I could see, almost all the men working
In the dry fields were stealing things to eat.”
In an age of plenty, guesswork begins.

In scarcity, nothing is as subtle.
This is what we who know no scarcity
Tell ourselves as we smell cigarette smoke
At dusk, conning our sources for how bad

It could get. Look at yourself, say ourselves.
I agree with Emily we’re haunted.
I appreciate the way she haunts me.
But Emily, you never existed,

Not to yourself, not anymore, and I
Will be relieved of my existence, too,
And my ghosts will go with me, even you.
Our words are our ghosts fomenting our souls.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Treetop Cradle Galaxy

Sometimes a small thought
Is not such a worm,
Is not a caterpillar
Munching the leaves of the brain.

Sometimes a small thought
Is an infant angel curled,
Neither worm nor alien,
Neither rodent nor human,

The offspring of a notion
That words like angel and ghost
Are constellations,

Stories tying together
Real acquaintances
At very great distances.

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Nude

The nude, anachronistic,
Elegant figure
Without a purpose,

Laced up her track shoes,
Tossed her abundant black hair,
And strode out into the night.

She didn’t care she
Was going nowhere.
She was past caring who stared.

In her own mind, she assured
Herself, anyway,
This was all a dream,

And it was, and good for her.
Wish we all dared toss our hair.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Character

“Almost none of us commit
Suicide, and almost all
Of us self-destruct,”
Said a character

In a disaster movie,
An allegory,
Possibly, about
Evolution or cancer

Or the way love creates death,
Hard to tell exactly which.
Later, the same character

Promised we would all
Be scattered to our atoms.
So what else is new?

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Rest, a Space in Time

Every last invalid longs
Sometimes to be lost outside,
To lie next to creek and trees
Under a forgiving sky.

It’s only that’s what’s longed for
By the dependent is more
Frightening and riskier
Than what’s desired by others,

Although it’s the same desire.
There’s  no escaping. There’s just
Beauty for a while. But be
Brave with time. Give us a smile.

More fragility requires
More bravery to survive.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Pretty Good Light Show Over Zion

Another year comes in with an iamb
After the last one roared out of Zion.

There’s no military allegory
For existence that’s only forward march,

But why not confuse the names of the times,
When the times are always so confusing?

Some are born in months that once were numbers,
Others are stuck honoring emperors

In a species for whom coincidence,
However arbitrary, signifies.

Given we are here, it’s unsurprising,
But it’s shocking we’re unsurprised we’re here.

Dates lie. There’s no exact closure to years.
Still, wish me well. Not all lightnings bring tears.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

No, Dreams Are Not Forgotten

I’ve had an entire life in dreams,
More difficult even than the actual
And much more haunting—

Dreamed places I’ve lived, dreamed
Jobs I’ve suffered, schools I’ve
Failed, lovers I’ve found and lost,

All of them mixtures of a few
Vivid details, the feel of skin,
The clothes in the hall, a thrill,

A panic, a despair, a particular
Route to work through a nonexistent
Town surrounded by lost connections,

And occasionally, before
I am fully awake, those dreams
Crowd together and make

A full, alternate narrative of life
Lived asleep, confusing me. They are
Never completely forgotten. No,

The brain retains the echo
And the emotions of each,
And on those rare occasions

I remember them all, all
At once, as vividly as, and briefly
More vividly than, my life undreamed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Seul au Monde

Once, monolingual
American that he was,
Traveling alone

All summer with a backpack
And a Eurail pass, without
A watch, with no one knowing
Where he’d gone, not even him,

Having learned to ask the time
In several languages, he 
Got confused in French
Between Le Monde and Le Temps,

Seeing the open paper
Of a fellow passenger,
Perhaps thinking of The Times
Newspaper he used to read.

“Excusez, quelle monde est-il?”
He asked the man politely.
The man squinted at him. “You
Want to know what world it is?”

“No,” he started to protest,
When it dawned on him,
His mistake, and he laughed. “Yes.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Ink Monkey Replies

To those who question
My existence, I concede
I’m nothing much on the way

To nothing at all.
I confess I am often
Gnomic, epigrammatic,

Declarative, sarcastic,
Dark, obscure, xuanxue—
Rarely expressive

Of warm emotions,
Not often illustrated
With bright images.

I drink ink and rest in your
Brushpots, make nests in your drawers.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Monitory Events in the Wilderness

We make of ourselves
What we cannot find,
But it still finds us.

Great similarity is
Only minimal difference.
Haste to the wedding
Of complex correlated

Systems in between
Pure randomness and order.
We can’t comprehend

The source; we are the source of
This universality.
Warnings come never too close
Together, too far apart.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Cat Called Mouse

I will nod my dragon head.
After supper, straight to bed.
I will watch myself drive home,
One eye open, one eye closed.

I will tell you I’m not I,
Or I’m not me, or something
Like, and you’ll need to agree.

Then you’ll tell me I’m not you.
Dragons see life differently.
And I will agree that’s true,

But neither are you quite you.
For one you’re not a dragon.
And I’m not a mouse, for two.
Still. Thank you for the salmon.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Starkness of the Language

Is like the starkness
Of a gun, is like a corpse:
Severe, complete, and barren,

But not simple, not without
Complicated histories.
When a parent begs for help
For a gone child hugged in blood,

Some words are stark and simple,
Yes, as they claw at your chest.
Oh please, no, save my baby.

But those pleas come from the depths,
And nothing’s simple about
The evolution of such
Terrible requests.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Nothing better illustrates
Absent any evidence,

To conjure a world
To rival the world
Than the history of maps.

A pretty planisfero
Has a few monsters,
Ptolemaic coherence,
And is more blank than detail.

Then the actual ships sailed,
And cartography blossomed
Volumes of Ortelius.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Ill Literacy

One way of looking at it
Would be to aver
In Old Avestan

Or modern Persian
That the gift of writing came
From humiliated Deevs,
And thus, from evil, a boon

Came upon mankind.
But with apologies, here
We prefer, Zoroaster,

To assume that from a boon
Came the evil of writing.
Sudden reversals are part
Of the art of praising arts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Advaita Anatta

The not-two non-soul is not the source
Of insight, nor of suffering, although naught
As a concept owes it quite an awful lot.

As Anne Stevenson observed, a border
Is the best place from which to see both
Sides. I imagine that she said it with a sigh.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Compassion is a wooden horse
Concealing weary veterans
Sick of their war of attrition,
Angry and cursing silently,

Praying for opportunity
To be taken to heart, to burst
Out after dark, to rip open
The gates that locked on compassion.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Mind, the Gap

A hole in the world,
Reality gone
Cancerous on us—

That’s the high concept
Mind wanted to pitch,
Utterly without

A resolution
In mind and without
Any characters.

Just a hole that grew,
People fell into,
No one returned from.

The only message
Would be that a gap
Is always ready.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Prayer Expresses More Than Prophecy

The time that Moses begged God,
Who preferred to talk to him,
To lift the curse God had placed
On his sister Miriam

Because she and Aaron dared
To challenge the two of them,
God and Moses, instrument
And artisan, Moses used

Only five words, only five
Syllables to make his prayer.
God, please heal her, please.
And God did, but not before

Making His point. We all want
What we all want, even God.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

If There Be Your Prophet the God, Capable of Describing Our World

It is possible we lie
Not in the landscape
But in the swampland

Of our quintessent cosmos.
It’s possible, but it’s dark.
That’s my lamppost reasoning—

I search out the broken light
And shuffle around
Hoping to stumble

Onto what I’m looking for
Before I reach the next cone
Of comforting, ghostly light.

Neither meta nor physics,
Our shadows are not the night.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Without a Crew

The mind loves forest
Because the mind haunts
The real forest of the brain.

The mind is a ship
That can sail through that forest,
The ship with no other choice
But to anchor in the roots.

The mind was made from forest,
Cut masts and timbers,
Although it looks alien,
Lost in the branches.

The question is what
Species neither brain nor mind
Framed such a vessel?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Drunken White Guy at a Sushi Bar

There’s a kind of perfection
To Japanese whiskies, one
Friendly buddy of slurred speech

Opined to his new-found chum.
It’s like, you know, the saying . . .
Imitation is
The sincerest form . . .

He never finished the thought,
But how interesting to think
Of imitation
As attempted flattery.

I’ll tell you this. Every bow
Ever executed was
A means to usurp a throne.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I Live in a Church

“I live in a church to prevent being deported.”

Ironies were the angels
That one could count on the head
Of a pin. Where did they get
Pins anyway, in those days, and

Why did they imagine souls
Or spirits or God-made things
At least, squeezing onto them?

I know a secret secret.
Humans aren’t doing
Much of the imagining.

We’re cruel. Yes. We chase after
Each other with cages like
Mad butterfly collectors. 
Go it, Charlie! We're not us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

When Dreams Collide

It’s going to be
Cold by morning. It’s going
To be another story.

You’d think that now would go on
Forever, but now
Was never on. It’s never
You should be concerned about.

I’m not going to tell you
Not to worry about what
You want to worry about.

Worry about whatever.
And if you don’t worry, don’t
Preen your feathers. Worlds
Perish when you remember.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Bad Listener

He imagined that he heard
Words in the sound of the wind,
Words in the songs of the birds.
How much beauty is left me?
The hawks would like to eat me.
Calm could be the end of me.
I have sinned, sinned, and I am
Insufficiently ashamed.
Will this nightfall fall on me?

But of course there were no words.
The world had nothing to say.
Still, the calm came for the wind,
And the hawks caught at the nest,
And other voices told him
There was nothing he needed
To say about anything,
Nothing anything needed
From his imagination.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


My transcriptive dailiness
Comprised the wilder country
Of dancing but afflicted

Bodies in the joking but
Devastated mind.
The lavender fog comes
For everyone with

Or without words. Keats
Lived like you did, with dying
As a propellant
That compressed his gift

Until it burst. Affliction
Devoured me more leisurely,
Giving me time to transcribe.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Crossing the threshold guarded
By angels is not so hard 
As you might think. They’re rather

Friendly, on the whole.
They care about appearance.
Mentioning Rilke,
Milton, or Dante,

Flatters but embarrasses,
Because they’re pleased to be seen
As important, but
Frankly “shrecklich” frightens them.

I like them. I’m free to talk
Of ghosts and gods, their cousins, 
With them. They give me a pass.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Was That You?

Just sitting with the lake,
Taking in the evening,
No one else on the shore,
Watching the small waves break,
Watching the long waves curl,
Waiting without waiting

For a single thing more,
The eye caught a weird light
Through a distant canyon,
Through the mouth of a fish-
Like cloud. Can light have been
Fortune, said without sound?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Poet’s Bargain

Like I said:
You have read
The others,

Now read this.
Let me have
This, only

This, and I
Will promise,
I'll persist.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Tchaikovsky’s Fatum

“I bear the dead within me,
And they write through me,”
Ko Un told The Guardian.

Love destroys the manuscript 
Begun parallel to love.
His fate was never performed 
Again while he was alive.

But we bare the dead
Within us, eventually.
And they write through us
As a child or a poet

Or a god writes through mistakes,
Pretending they’ve been erased.
Just so. I will write through this.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Leaving Slocanada, Again

Took a long time for me to know
What home is, the simple feeling

Without much thinking, this is it;
It is this. I hadn't felt it

Among the warm faces, places
Where I'd lived, favorites I'd visit.

Didn't feel it, couldn't know it,
Couldn't understand that it's not

A rapture or a longing but
Contentment. Home's not better than

The dark romances of being
Alien and doesn't end them.

In the moment that it hits us
As a sudden satisfaction,

It is. It's not what takes us in.
It's what is when we take it in.

I looked up once or twice and knew
Home was this. So, now that I know,

I’m okay with being away
For a bit: for a bit, again.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Gods change into ghosts.
Ghosts change into gods.
Is anything leftover?

Poems are leftovers.
Poems and songs are leftovers,
But not stories. Stories drive

The change of ghosts into gods,
Gods into ghosts, and stories
Are consumed in the process.

Only at the margins, when
The ghost and the god weren’t close,
When the ghost fit too loosely,

Or the god spilled past the ghost,
There might be some poetry,
Soft-voiced, a whisper at most.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Poem for Us

After warmth,
Soon enough
It becomes

Cold again,
Even if
It did not

Become warm
Soon enough,
Not for us.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Adminatory Notes on the Story of a Ghost

And then you find out you’re real
When you never thought
You’d ever be anything

Remotely like real again.
You remember you were good
At it, at being human,

Unlike all the rest of us.
But now, you’re not. What to do,
You wonder, as you?

You gather your memories
As a king gathers armies,
As an old woman gathers

Her shawl around her shoulders.
Her shawl! Your ghost sheet shudders.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Warnings Wrapped in Mourning

The machinery
Of human existence is
An animal tended by
Its monstrous creator ants.

Borrowing bodies
To put my soul in,
I am the beast that’s all soul,
Whose every cry signifies.

You know me. I am in you.
You may believe I am you.
I am not you. I am not

This body that composed me
For this fleeting poem.
I’m the machine that’s the ghost.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Days Are Filled

When the woods get big
They attract all kinds of birds.
You could tell me you have
No guilt as long as I have

No innocence, or
That I have no guilt
So long as you have
No innocence?

Will the divine ghost
Of eternity preserve the whisper
And enshrine rhetorical guesses?

Will the divine ghost
Of eternity forgive the transgressors
Or those they transgressed against?

Is there a divine ghost
Even of the just-past moment
And can that ghost ever guess?

The woods will get big
Someday once again
And be more full of birds than
Ever was raw New Zealand.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A God Taking an Endless Intake of Breath

Like a vast number of birds,
Small but social as parrots,
Nesting in a giant tree
Would flee as it fell was God.

The first man ever to cross
The Alps in a balloon would
Later try to float over
Spain but drifted out across

The Mediterranean
Until he vanished from sight.
Presumably he drowned but
They only found the balloon.

Another gasp. Not enough.
God is always short of breath.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Three Prior Poems Expressing Frustration with Storytelling

I know the things I’m supposed to know,
And other things as well,
That Mary the Mother of God
Was also called Queen of Hell,

That the newest image of
The oldest visible light
In the universe
Looks suspiciously

Like a bleary Mercator
Map of an earlier Earth,
That the best stories
Make the worst explanations.

I don’t need to know
How to tie ends in a bow.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Big Together

“Famine not only
Took countless lives, it also
Murdered countless poems”
Wrote one poet who survived.

No matter how many die
In this world, we are
Each the only poem,
And yet we are all the one.

Of all beauties poetry
Acknowledges, this
Truth never changes.

I could live with the murder
Of all poems altogether
If life could live forever.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Will the Umbrella Never Evolve?

Where are you camping tonight?
“Wonders are fleeting,
But still worthy of chasing.”
And does change change anything?

“I wish to do right but I
Fear I shall fail through sorrow.”
The grapevine and the ivy
Will lay claim to the same tree,

And if you’re not an ivy,
Then I’m not a tree.
How do the prisoners eat?

The soup by this time is soup
No longer, but a thick paste
That’s diluted by water.

Saturday, July 28, 2018


Here we are, words that say things.
The body, you might say, is
Its own animal,
Despite being compounded

Of so damn many others
And parasitized by mind.
It doesn’t intend to die.
To that I can testify.

It resists the cliff.
It crawls from the wreck.
As long as it can
It will gasp for breath.

Don’t think you are it
Or can order it lightly.
We are all one, but we are
Who say so, also not all.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Title Says It All

And then the poem tries to take
It all back again.
Not quite over yet.

Our culture’s better than us.
Any wise alien would
Prefer our compositions
To our composers.

The musicians conjuring
The spheres are ordinary
As trash collectors,
But their songs created gods.

Those were just his naked thoughts,
Barer than conversation,
Spoken aloud in the wind.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


A little knowledge
Is a dangerous thing. Too
Much knowledge can be deadly.

Understanding is toxic,
And wisdom is corrosive.
Stick with a little knowledge,

Since merely to be alive
At all requires a little,
But remember it becomes

Explosive with more and more,
Increasingly unstable
For diminishing returns.

No, wait, don’t touch that advice.
Forget it. Wise guys aren’t nice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Holy Water

This phrase does not occur
Elsewhere. This phrase had not
Occurred until just then,
And won’t occur again.

In the whole of holy
Books, there are a number
Of singular phrases
Like this that half exist.

Why “half” you ask? Because
The core of existence
Is repeating, although
Nothing at all’s its soul.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Because It Is Our Heart

What eats me up about this
Human world is that I can
See clearly what an absurd
And trivial collection

Of pained brevities
It is, but I am also
Not only a part of it
But mired in it, dependent

On it, on all these people
And all our human nonsense
That constitutes survival.

To be human and to fail
At being human
Is to be human.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Down, Diogenes!

I get it. We want
To find our wisdom
In successes we envy,
In role models we admire,

But being a successful
Human isn’t wise.
It’s good fortune to aspire

Only to obtainable
Things. Wisdom’s nothing
That’s attainable.
Wisdom’s just a pain.

It’s not what you own or know.
It’s what you accept
That makes you wise. You’ll still die.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A True Soul

Eternity, which proves more
Short than waste or ruining,
When most impeached stands
Least in your control,

I want to be gone.
I don’t want to die.
I want to have died,
To have never existed.

The old man seemed proud
Of mangling Shakespeare.
Shakespeare makes everyone proud.

I was more impressed
The man was still alive, than
That he misquoted the Bard.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Nothing to See Here

I suppose the null
Is a set of possible
Outcomes, but it is unknown

Which null will be the result,
After the result
Has crystallized into an
Actual outcome.

This poem is an actual
Outcome of the null.
Had the null not existed,
This poem had invented it.

That’s it, isn’t it?
The null is a thing
Betrayed by logic.

Friday, July 20, 2018


Money and credit: gossip
Abstracted, gossip
For strangers to trust strangers

Since we don’t know from strangers.
Gossip and ostracism,
High social standing,
Hospitality and trust:

These are the true currencies
Of human fortunes.
The rest of nature,
We mostly safely ignore.

Opinions and bank accounts
Are fairies. Words and numbers.
Our vampire fairies bite us.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Logic of Life

Do you prefer the logic
Of uncertainty
Or of certainty?
Life is uncertain.

Is thus the logic of life.
Oh thus, oh thus, there’s logic

For you, anachronistic,
Thus. Mathematics,
The logic of certainty,

Another game entirely
But dressed like the saintly twin
(Every evil twin has one),
Must prove nothing’s logical.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

We Explain Nothing

Is a feature, byproduct
Of change, not distinct
From or opposite to change.

The only aspect
Of the phenomenal world
Self-similar is the way

Ways of changing
Resemble each other as
They continually change.

A set of changes
Found this out about themselves.
And then, when they spoke,
They spoke in whispers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Subjective Reverse

Under the right conditions,
We’ll believe we haven’t done
Yet what we’ve already done.

That’s neuroscience,
Not a poetic fancy,
Although it’s pretty fancy
Science, come to think of it.

I left my favorite bench
Beside the bright lake, I said,
Because I wanted
To look for another poem.

But when I got to the new
Bench, up higher, by the creek,
I saw that it already
Displayed a poem of its own:

“Sedges have edges
And rushes are round.
Grasses are hollow
And cover the ground.”

Well-made doggerel
Like that is more difficult,
More memorable,
Than your average high-brow poem,

As an arrowhead
Chipped out of stone, sharp enough
To pierce a beast’s heart
Takes more art than most sculptures.

I decided that one day,
I would be myself again,
And sharpen some doggerel
Usefully irrelevant.

Then, like a subject
In a timed experiment
I realized, too late,
What I intended

Had already happened, fooled
By simultaneity,
Or rather, my sense of it.
I tried to halt myself, but

Because I couldn’t help it,
And because I had
Already done it,
I reversed the verse.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Milk, White Rolls, Sugar, and Vodka

Not time and eternity.
Change and similarity
Name the mysteries.

Anything isolated
Is saturated
With self-similarities,

Each of them macerated
By fractures penetrating
Like capillaries,

Same and change frustratingly
Incomplete disparities.

Dissimilarity eats,
Breeds familiarity.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

As the Mice Are Very Troublesome

Everything living
Wants a share, but no one wants
To share their share too freely.

Who’s got something good for me?
Who’s in my blood, up my bark,
Under my skin, eating me?

There’s only one strategy.
We will keep going
Until we run out of room
Or something else captures us.

That’s our motto, everything
Living said at the same time,
The only way anything
Remains to swear the same thing.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


Guns aren’t bullet proof.
They’re good weapons, lousy shields.
They’ve never, ever always
Worked as those who clutch them hope.

Sometime they hit the wrong thing.
Sometimes they burst in the hand.
Sometimes they just go
Off at the worst time.

The heirs of spears and arrows,
They make the loner deadly.
They’re excellent genocide

They’re words and beliefs,
Sweet flinging machines.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Skinny Sonnet for a Summer’s Day

The last common ancestor
Between us and honeybees,
Roughly six hundred
Million years ago,

Had a brain and reproduced
Sexually, probably.
Offspring went their separate ways.

Offspring go their separate ways.
If you’re the last ancestor
Common to anything left

Half a billion years from now,
Will your descendants partner
Or contest to run the world?
More likely these words’ kids will.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


The world is a gangster.
My throat will not expel you.
Your roads will be desolate.

The phrases are a forest
One avoids by not reading,
The only woods still growing.

They’re gathering in our skulls.
Sacred, vulgar, dangerous.
Their branches are never bare.

There’s no escaping gangsters
And gods in these woods, unless
You’re dead. If you’re dead, the roads

Are desolate, and no one
Shows to rob or send you home...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Wandering Spirit

They don’t, in lore, roam often.
Most ghosts hang around the house,
Moaning and miserable,
Maybe rattling the cupboards.

An eternity
Under house arrest
Would wear on the most
Forgiving spirit.

I want to remain
In motion after this life
Spent minimally mobile.

If you want to be haunted
A century from now, hike
The highest mountain passes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Near Past

“Neither the ring nor the flash mark the present; they are both ghosts of the near past.”

Something else is already
Happening. You live,
You read this sentence

In the past, while the present 
Prepares more past without you.
But the present, too, is past,

Not just the experienced
Present, but any present.
So the past prepares the past.

Here’s a hint for the taking.
Dreams teach nothing at all, but
We dream most before waking.

We learn by learning
The mistakes our learning makes.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Show Me the Door

There was a novel
About a hole in the world
A poet meant to compose.

There is a hole in the world,
Of course. It’s how whatever
Goes, goes, and nothing ever

Comes back. Other things appear,
Sometimes very similar,
But where they come from’s unclear.

What hung the poet, besides
To create characters, or

To tell a story,
Was the question of the door.
Does everything pour

Out of the same gap
Into which all things vanish?
Or is there another door?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sharing Things

“Sharing things is how things get started and not sharing things is how they end.”

We converse as if we were
Interesting and might convert
Into something rich and strange.

And then we do, but we don’t know
That we did or what we did.
We’re just much more richly strange.

But we’re not more interesting,
At least not to each other.
Now we don’t want to converse.

We see each other as weird—
Weird and inexplicable,
As well as boring. What was

It we saw in each other?
It’s not just us. This happens
Over and over again.

When we transform, we vanish,
All of us gods shedding shells,
Trying to become ourselves.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Lich Owl

“We are monstrs. . .”

Begin by having
The same body as yourself.
You are like yourself,
The likes of yourself,

A body, a form, the same.
The sense development’s strange.
Perhaps you liked what liked you,
And what you liked, liked you well.

Wouldn’t that be just like you?
And then you perish,
Still a body, still alike

Long enough in the litch gate
To join the ground of likeness,
The lichhaemleas, all alike.

Friday, July 6, 2018

What Have You Done?

Oh, the tone of that question!
Not how I mean it.
I was thinking of typos,

Being a compositor,
How we afford our words power,
But crush them so easily.

Only our best behavior,
Most alert, lets them through,
And I can’t decide

Whether our mistakes take lives
Of their own or prove
That we control them.

Mistakes may be oracles,
But can they speak for themselves?

Thursday, July 5, 2018


Having lived without
Leaving a trace, I leave this.
This is not a trace.

A trace is a dream
Outlined in chalk, but this dream’s
A shadow that walks.

Humans like to think
We’re dreamers, but we don’t like
To think we’re asleep.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Fifteen-Minute Poem

Probably took two minutes.
Poetry scales are fractal.
The poem seven years making
Only ate up scattered days.

Some days you shatter your bones.
You’re astonished it happened
So fast, before you knew it,
Before you noticed and screamed.

Most days, nothing much happens.
I was determined to change
That, but only succeeded

When I realized change was real,
Whereas I was only a phantom,
And then my poems composed me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Innocent Gun

Significance is always
Invisible, even when
It’s boldly coded in signs.

That’s the only thing that keeps
Us from claiming we’re alive.
The actual enactment
Of our meaning hides in skulls,

Still hides in skulls, needs the skulls,
And does not dance by itself
Outside of the skulls. And yet,

Dessicated seeds and eggs,
Waiting on just the right light,
Earth, heat, and water,
They’re alive. Aren’t they alive?

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Dispassion

Now they tell us, interests
Need to be developed and not
Merely found, coins on the ground.

(“They” being authors
Of a new study, of course.)
Trying to find your passion
Is too passive, puts passion

In control of you when you should
Become the one in control.
Just pick a passion
And cultivate it.

Make it yours. Show it who’s boss.
Oh god, humans. Our endless
Quest to improve until death.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

You Don’t Want Any Part of This

Playing god’s an old cliche,
A finger wagged in warning,
As if the hubris
Of speaking for god

Could turn on itself to plug
The sickly lust of humans
For might and further hubris.

It’s one of our games,
To scare and chide each other
Away from some power
We want for ourselves,

A language-amplified form
Of the feints and diversions
Used by caching jays
Playing catch and keep away.

God is not a role to play.
God is not a power reserve.
God’s a sentence being served.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Same Old Problem With Change

Repetition is
The secret clock that tricks us
Into thinking we’re looking

At true recurrence
When we’re being treated to
Displays of subtlest changes.

In this dim habitat, this
Twilight of the general
Consciousness, some form

Of changing process remains,
Wrote William James. What remains
If what remains is just change?

Change is both the everything
And the nothing everything
Arises from and becomes.

Every equivalency
Is false equivalency
But some falsehoods are still

More equivalent
Than others. There’s our twilight,
The fetch in the shades of clocks

And measures of every kind.
There is no no change,
But somehow there can be more

By comparison, or less.
Life regulates its mayhem
By means of comparisons

And human life generates
All culture’s complications
Thanks to countable measures

That count on selectively
And ignoring more minor

Differences, then paring them
Down in pursuit of even
More minor differences

Approaching no change
By means of microscopy,
But how do we manage this?

We ferret out the difference
Our senses would never find
With prosthetic instruments,

But we still don’t understand
What is the smallest
Difference possible, nor
What makes moments more the same.

Friday, June 29, 2018


What in God’s name does this mean?
What means anything at all,
When a gravel pit
And a pigeon share the same

Orthography, and no sense?
After several thousand years

Of language evolution
By repetitive descent
And slow modification,

Kwetwer, the word for four, square,
And kerd, the word for core, heart,
Become common homonyms
In the language that is this.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Ruins

It’s not romantic
To wake up in the ruins
If the ruins are your own.

But the day passes,
And by its end, the sunset
Feels as fine as any dawn.

Yes, these ruins are your own,
But you don’t have to own them.
By twilight they’re silhouettes,
Stages and curtains,

Shadows in and out of them,
Bats and foxes coming back
To hunt among your remains,
And all’s romantic again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Any poem lives by the phrase
And dies by the lack of strange.
The gift must be, however
Sweet, fragile and incomplete.

Sliding support for rhyme, son
Of rage, saluting the stones
Until whole centuries droned

Fog from the eyes of monsters,
Meant some poets tried new tricks,
Went fishing for dragonflies,
Carried the darkness

Into the forest and /
Sliced it out. But still,
At worst, more milk, all the way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Am I Even Warm?

“The carpenters work for their crust of bread, and the tailors sew for vodka.”

It is more than possible;
It’s historically frequent
To narrowly miss insight,

To come close but pass it by,
The search passing by the tree
From which the quarry watches.

We don’t even know 
Who nearly figured it out
Until someone else does so,

And then we’re surprised
To realize in retrospect
Someone almost had it right.

Monday, June 25, 2018


Sensory imprecision
Means uncertain perception,
To detect every difference.

It’s probably just
Natural selection working
In its “good enough” fashion,

But it unleashed the strange power
Of treating phenomena
As units, repetitions.

We sense things are the same when
They’re never the same,
And what’s countable depends
On what’s unaccounted for.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Although We Also Make Aliens of Each Other

“Everyone has their favorite
Constellations, ones they feel
Close to.” Interesting phrase,
“Feel close to,” in that context.

Can’t help it, can we?
The night’s full of us,
And we are full of ourselves.

The sky is layered with us.
We constellate specks of light.
Lace them up tightly
With our own bootstrapped stories.

And, it’s true, we feel close
To our favorites among them,
Me, too. There’s nothing

Too distant for us to love,
For us to fall in love with,
To embrace as part of us,

Nothing alien
Enough we won’t make fictive
Kin, a hero tale,
An ancestor, one of us.