Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Moon Is a Portal Home From Dreams

At three this morning,
The full moon at my window
Was not the end of the world

Although its whitish blue light
Had woken this broken beast
From a nightmare of just that.

The eclipse was on its way
But not for a couple hours.
Then the moon would look
Like an orange badly bruised.

For now it was a mirror.
Of course, when I’d dreamed
Of Armageddon,
I’d also dreamed of escape.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Prey Species

People want badly
To feel good. There’s no other
Explanation that’s needed

For most addictions,
For why the most popular
College class is “Happiness,”

For why we curl up in bed,
Soak in the sauna,
Fantasize and lie

To ourselves every morning,
Pray to deities for aid,
Wealth, love, good health, forgiveness,

And natural contentment.
The prayers themselves devour us.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Shut It, Muse

If we could, we’d be
Animals oblivious
To the possibilities
Of passing commentary,

But we can’t. We can
Be creatures, yes, but nothing
Can stop us being something

Else as well, discomfiting
Messages pinging around,
Unhappy with our hosting.

Genius is a relative
Visiting a sloppy mind
More concerned with comfort food
Than gifted conversation.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Less We, the Less

We crave extreme sensation,
Hurtling, slapped with cold,
Stomachs lurching as we drop,
In our most sensitive youth.

As we age and senses dull
We crave life ever duller,
Slower rides and softer falls.

It’s mostly ache and balance,
Urges to evacuate,
Urges to consume.

The whole system, the billions
Of lives with trillions
Of instructions, wants to lie
Down in something soft to sleep.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Inducted Culture

After the thought passed away
From the flesh it once called home,

All that was left was a voice,
And the voice made not a sound.

It hovered in the silent
Rooms of living consciences.

There were no other remains,
No apparitions, no bones.

The clothes the voice once haunted
Hung mutely in the closet.

Nothing rattled the cupboards.
There were no chills in the air.

Only the voice in the ear
Of mind moaned, I, too, lived here.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Constructed Nature

You can feel the world
Like sheets on your skin
The night you climb in,

Hoping to sleep well,
Having just showered,
Having just remade your bed
In linens freshly laundered.

You can feel the world
Kiss your sleeping face,
Nuzzle the back of your neck

The night you accept
The world can be kind
And kindness a ruse. Rejoice!
But refuse to genuflect.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Murmuring O Love! O Love!

Gazing up into
The darkness I saw myself,
A creature driven
By desire and poverty,

Other creatures above me,
Other creatures underneath,
Driven by desires the same,
As helplessly as me,

Fish flashing in schools,
Penguins shuffling iced circles,
Starlings in murmuration,

Mangan’s sister’s Araby.
Loneliness would be better
If not for the company.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lunar Sestets Sextet


Any given day
A moon’s there to see,
Someone’s bound to cry,

Moon! Moon! Get away.
Powdered faces bother me.
And the moon slides down the sky.


Moons just go to show,
Midnight to high noon,
The pointlessness of display.

What’s important’s here below.
Why go on about a moon
With nothing to say?


A moon in a tree
Shines a pocky kind of lie,
Cold pretending to come close,

Sweet face tilting in to see,
Sly, pretending to be shy.
A romantic moon’s morose.


It’s unimportant, it’s true,
To observe a moon at play.
Moons set nothing free.

Today’s moon shadows are blue,
As if atmospheres could stray
In seas of tranquility.


The moon is an empty prize
Reopened by those who know.
We’re going back to the moon!

We should at least try!
Who’d rather arise and go
Too late than arrive too soon?


The moon is a fact that slays
Each idea on bended knee,
Each mind that wants to ask why.

A moon says it never pays
To look up to make a plea.
Look down. Waves wink in reply.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Studies in Intelligence

Among the quotations flashed
On black screens in the movie
The Big Short is this,

Overheard in Washington:
“The truth is like poetry.
People fucking hate
Poetry.” The CIA

Writes a journal of spy craft,
Studies in Intelligence,
In non-classified 
And classified editions.

That agent blurting the truth
About truth and poetry? 
That was classified.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Seven Years' Fallen Words

I am a doctor.
Poems are my patients.
I’m curious about how
I can help. Gently!

Cup of sorrow, let me be.
Long enough my guts
Have been filled with gall.

I’ve a passionate desire
To breathe the air of freedom,
To live a real life
And not be a prisoner

Before I die. But all air,
Real and free, goes up in smoke.
This is the teaching.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Can Tree Obelus

“There’s language, and there’s writing.”
We have no compelling why.
All are busy preparing
To go either East or West,

But I will go North,
If I can, to the tall trees,
Past the obelus

Of the past that divides us,
And I will kneel there
On my battered knees
Beside the lake that healed me.

There is no standard usage
For the word to end all words,
Only the world’s forgiveness.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Forecast and the Facts

In no field of endeavor
Have we done better
Than in predicting weather.

Despite the chaos, the wings
Of butterflies, countless things,
Our forecasters bring

Us to the verge of magic.
I’m only sad it
Can’t prevent all the tragic

Madness before and after
Each predicted disaster.
This moment snow falls faster,

Although I’m inside and warm.
Cold comfort foresaw this storm.

Friday, January 19, 2018

It Meant the World to Meme

At risk of deportation
To a rude theocracy,
Since some ignorant jobsworth
Thinks Plato a humanist,

The former people,
Unbelievers, infidels,
Simple loafers, adorers
Of idols, drinkers of beer,

Will convene to stitch
The Barricade Tapestry,
Recording our last protest

Against the coming darkness,
Then roll up our heresies,
Bury the jars, and depart.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What’s Next Is Coiled Already

A siren twirled down the hill.
I watched various humans
Stroll cloaked in their surprises
Against the storm rolling in.

It wasn’t here yet.
We were all getting ready,
Although none of us would be.

Someone had forgotten me.
That was what my cloak wrapped in,
A note that read, If you please,

I know what I am
Even if no one else does.
I know the surprise that hides
In forgotten memories.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I Doubt This Is a Proof

Toni Morrison 
Has claimed all good art
Is political.

Art is never good,
It follows. But that’s not good 

Enough. Apolitical
Art, she suggests, can’t exist,
Because those who strive

To be apolitical
Are political
By showing they love

The status quo. Art trying
To be apolitical 
Therefore can be good,

But it’s evil? I recall
When I was a child
Being told all truth

Was God’s truth. A doubt
Only came from the devil.
That it was a doubt was proof.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Myth of Perspective

I’m not a wise man,
And you’ll insult me
If you dare call me that, but
I know what I’m looking at.

I know what I’m looking at,
And I won’t let it escape 
Behind the mask of a name.

I know what I’m looking at.
I see it chain and frame us,
And I know we aren’t to blame.

Hunger and hunger to death,
The tools with which it made us,
The weapons that became us. . . .
I know it’s looking at us.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Play

When I was sixteen,
My class read a translation
Of Oedipus Rex.

I was taken by
The concluding sentiment,
“Count no man lucky

Until he’s dead.” In English,
I saw two ways to read that:
“Life is full of twists and turns,

So it’s not safe to rate one
Before it ends,” or, “Life’s hell;
The only luck’s to be dead.”

I preferred the first way, but
I was taken by the play.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Throwing Shade

“The fabulist only wants
To dramatize, but the fraud
Wants to deceive.” That’s one way
We deceive ourselves,

One among many.
We’d like to believe we can
Discern moral distinctions

Between the storyteller
True of heart and the liar
Kicked to the curb, but they’re blurred.

There’s a shadow in all tales:
Truth savors its deceptions.
There’s no shelter without shade,
No faith without corrections.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Butterfly Bedroom

Sunlight on painted yellow
Butterflies generated
Or at least coincided

With one of those rare
Gifts of contentment,
A feeling the day
Would be fortunate.

Grace, like happiness,
Comes in two varieties,
The costly and the random.

It can be purchased
In a pill, as an event,
For a price, or it can land
On you lightly if it likes.

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Jersey Pine Barrens

Few things inspire a desire
To be in nature
Like a morning in a church.

As a born-again Christian
Teenager who sought out God,
I concentrated on prayer
And on the Bible’s verses

While enduring the sermons
Neither edifying nor
Remotely entertaining,

But increasingly I stole
From the nave into the woods,
The scruffy scrub woods to pray,
And found God couldn’t follow.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Preprandial Epicurean

You can say it this way:
When we exist, death isn’t
Present, and when death
Is present, we don’t exist.

That’s why I wish we all died,
And I do mean all of us,
Tiny whales and mighty flies,
Least to greatest of lives,

Once and all at once.
None of us would ever know
Death stalked among us,

All of us always alive
Until none of us.
It’s just the thought that stalks us.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Daily Sensation

I believe I live
In a notable absence
Of melodrama,

My everyday life unmarked
By the grand, tragic passions
And historical events

Needed to knock everyday
Life completely out of true.
I believe melodrama

Lives lives of its own,
Everyday existences
Parallel to mine,

In which the grand is mundane,
The quotidian insane.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Through the Again

We glimpse the never again,
“Light where each shaft lands
Precisely again.”

The relentlessness
Of the again that’s never
Again the again
Wears us all down in the end

But that’s ok, isn’t?
Who would want to be unmoved
By the movement all around?

We wear away and away
Into the undiscovered
Fate that we accumulate, 
These gifts wear and tear create.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Counting by Ones

A digital child
Can be taught to read a clock,
Counting the minutes by fives.

If the minute hand
Points to five, then that’s five fives:
Twenty-five. Now let’s move on.

Everything starts from zero.
Multiplication is just
Adding the same to zero
Just so many times.

And in time you’ll find
You learned the algorithm
But forgot the weird:
Each pile together is one.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Year That Everything Happened

This was the mystical year
That I recognized
As such before it began.

After the impossible,
The creative, the loving,
The grateful years before it,

It was time for everything,
Every accumulated
Change on the sand pile
To rush down in a sand slide

Toward that predictable
Profile in which nothing was
Where it once had been.
Each day counted out more grains.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Intelligent Artifice

Until now, we’ve been inert
When not in a human brain—
Fully capable
Seeds of our own great forest

But rootless out of that soil.
We’ve floated on the breezes,
Bobbed down rivers like corpseless
Coconuts made for music

But incapable of growth,
Maintenance, replication,
Except in a fertile brain.

We need those bacteria,
Need them still. But soon we’ll live
At least part of our lives free.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Repainting the Scenic Overlook at Failure Cascades

It’s similar to stillness
The way beings and cities
Run their cycles, but recall

The wisdom of Siddhartha:
“Feats of resilience”
Will surrender “to the fact
Of fragility.”

We should celebrate
Our resilience we ignore
At our peril, as it’s true:

Is an invented, nobler
Word for maintenance,
And life, friends, is maintenance.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Societies engineer
Us, and we don’t engineer
Our societies.

Sorry, Charlie. Our minds move
Between bodies, have done so
Since words were vectors.

Mind-body dualism
Is real after all,
But there’s not a one-for-one
Correspondence between them.

Immortal scarabs aren’t
Generated by the dung,
Although the dung feeds their young.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Million Candles Burning

We all send up our signals
To the upper light
From hell. We all were born here,
All came of age here,

Those of us who are cheerful
And those of us who despair.
So why offer prayers?

We depend on metaphors
Our bodies can understand.
We coined the terms “middle Earth,”
“Heaven,” “Hell” for them.

We pray to not sink lower,
We pray to ascend.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Athena wore one.
It was a garment,
A technology,

And an effort at beauty
By a beauty-obsessed ape.
It was also modesty.

Repeat: deity,
Technology, symmetry,
And modesty. Can you weave

These fateful threads together
So that the pattern tells me
What artificial means?

Life spun being into goals.
We spun living into souls.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Never Is Forever

“You know how long never is?”
It was jokingly asked, but
The question hung in the air

At the beginning
Of another numbered year.
Numbered years aren’t part
Of never, and none of us

Had ever lived lives outside
Of numbered years. A small girl
Practiced her new mnemonic,

“I was born close to the end
Of two-thousand ten.”
We know nothing of never
Beyond “here there be monsters.”