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.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Developmental Psychology

What do you make of a child
In the middle of the road,
Pleasantly ordinary,
Carefully checking for cars,

When there's extra awareness
In the child that notices
The strangeness of being one,

A person, knowing oneself
Something disoriented
Repeatedly by knowing.
What mind will this child become?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Time Was

Time was only a minor kind of change
We found we could enumerate. Change is
Everything from and headed for nothing.
This news won’t help you survive, much less thrive
In the chains of your human social life,
But I thought you might like to know your pulse
Is an egg, while the nursery is night.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Oracles Consulted

The words emerge from nowhere.
They’ve been waiting all your life
For you to sit quietly
And let them arrive.

Here we are. We are older
Than you, than you’ll ever be.
We’ve occupied so many
Brains and built so many minds

Before you were in the womb,
Listening to the murmur
Of your mother tongue.

You are not inspired.
You are an ecosystem,
The reservoir that drowned us.

When you’re quiet and recede,
We reappear, the churches
And post offices of speech,

History’s roofless ruins
And watery graves.
Our melancholy fools you.

Because we are words,
We can become anything,
The small fry in your shallows,

The floating green obscuring
Our earlier, headstone selves,
The prehistoric sturgeon
Laying black eggs in drowned lies.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

No Place in the Sun

“and if I woke I never knew it”

The secret to prediction
Lies locked behind the same door
That opens for metaphor:
Imagine similar same.

The sun will rise tomorrow.
The tendency to recur
Is the subtlest form of change.

Life’s compulsion to exploit
That subtlety gave us time,
Our most perfect metaphor,

Approachable only by
Other metaphors.
But the purest prediction’s
Never the change in itself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


The cosmos never catches
Us when we fall, but we fall
Anyway, and some of us
Grow addicted to falling,

Always hoping to be caught,
To be gently caught,
Given mercy, and cared for.

All right, I confess,
I am one of those addicts.
However hardly I am,
I am hardly ever not

Swooning the whole mess of me
Into the arms of the world.
There are no arms of the world.

Monday, June 18, 2018

An Ocean Is More Than Tides and Surf

Measurable time
Is only rhythm,
A very particular
Type of change, not change itself.

We pick various rhythms
To pitch against each other
But the worship of rhythm
Can never tame change.

Rhythmic change is peculiar
Because it creates
The perception of return,

So that the very heart of time
Beats out a fiction
Of timelessness. But each pulse
Changes, and rhythm tricks us.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


A word, in any language,
Approaches to remind you,
Politely, nothing is right.

This dragon loves its treasures.
It knows it has to be killed.
Dragons don’t die otherwise.

Why kill a dragon?
It’s a thief, a thief of life,
A leathery, fanged magpie.

Caverns involve many caves.
They are caves, plural.
They may not have openings.

This dragon is the cavern,
The outline of the dragon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Reader of an Empty Book

Here’s an empty book to read,
As if, as if you could know.
The book, old book, goes like so:

It comes to an end, quickly
Enough. It comes to an end,
But no end’s ever the end.

Hands like dying birds
In the lap of the question:
What is the one thing
Here in this room of fading?

The reader wanted balance,
“Between your heart and all that
Other stuff,” she said.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Kaiten Zeitgeber

Isn’t everyone hoping
For something else, even God
Wishing to be free of us?

The reason God dropped His watch
On the windswept heath
Was because He asked Himself
What was the point of keeping

Time? What was the point
Of having a watch
If He didn’t have to be
Himself the next day?

And so He strode on,
Leaving this polished design
To lie alone in the grass.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Rule One

All rules are games,
And every game
Begins in rules.

All rules are ours,
And human life
Begins in games.

Human beings
Have to play games,
Try to win them.

Human beings
Have to play by,
Bend, or break rules.

Not all the games.
Not all the rules.
Many of them.

Bats have to fly.
Fish have to swim.
You have to learn
Which games you’re in.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Or Twice, Past Midnight

Once, when what everybody
Wants from you has passed,
Almost anyone who speaks

Of you off the top
Of their head is given up,
For more than a few minutes,
To nostalgic reverie.

Then you walk into
The everything, the any
Subject. You become

The everything, the any,
The nostalgic reverie.
There are no limitations
Once it's all been said before.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

You Know Examples Possess You

Any story becomes myth
When it passes some threshold,
Not yet quantifiable,

Beyond which enough people
Within a community
Defined by churning contact,
However diffuse,

Are familiar with the tale
To make it shared currency.
Past that saturation point,
The story acquires a life.

Each such myth’s a kind
Of being, a growing god,
A living thought, a monster.

Monday, June 11, 2018

You Can’t Touch the Forest For the Trees

His book review asked
A rhetorical question:
“What’s losing a little sleep
Versus waking up

From the last dream you will have?”
Oh my friend, oh reviewer,
Oh true believer

In an anthropomorphic
Caricature of nature,
Lose all the sleep that you can.

You will still wake up,
And you can’t retain the dream.
The dream retains you.
You’re something a dream might do.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Something monstrous large
Just has to happen
To reset all of the clocks.

We’re close, we’re close to true, but
We’re always drifting
Out of sync with each other,

Children in a cave
That never see the surface,
Sinking slowly into dreams,

Each life slipping slightly off,
The whole pattern distorted.
Something needs to focus us,

One kraken of an event,
One stunning reference moment.

Saturday, June 9, 2018


The creature that looks
Up from under the waters
At you, but whose ruins lie
Still in the forest,

Burnt down by humans
Some thousands of years ago
And never rebuilt,

That beast is your heritage,
The thing that sees well—
Not your only heritage,

Compound monster that you are,
But the part that troubles you,
The part that I admire most,
Wordless focus from the waves.

Friday, June 8, 2018

When Are We

If “time is a group
Of people talking,”
So is God. So’s the cosmos,

But that seems extreme,
As destabilizing as
Fool solipsism,

Nihilism, or any
Of the trippier
Propositions. Let’s just say

We have to say something, if
We’re trying to orient
Ourselves. It’s just that we say

So much more than is needed.
Language leads so well we’re lost.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Algorithm

Imagine there’s only one,
A master key, something like
The Price Equation

But with the secret
That it stops, eventually.
All this, then, is lost,

This world, lost along the chain
Between input and output
With no idea where we are,
At which step in the function.

Was that fun to imagine?
The unambiguously
Specified cosmos?
We’re all one Turing machine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

If You Can Imagine It, It’s Not Real

The supernatural’s not
Entirely foolishness
To think about, but

Most folks devoted
To the supernatural
Think about it in the most
Tedious and lazy ways,

The same old dreams and angels,
The same old omens and ghosts.
I’m okay with the desires,
The craving for lost loved ones,

Black cat bones and rabbits’ feet.
But if you saw behind the door
Surely you’d see something more.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Drunken St. Augustine

"For, though all formed things were made from this matter, this matter itself was still made from absolutely nothing."

Nothing ever
Nothing ever goes
Nothing ever goes away

Nothing goes ever away
Goes ever away
Ever away

There it goes
There goes nothing
Nothing going
Nothing ever going

Nothing going forever away
Nothing that stays
Nothing stays
Will nothing never go away?

Monday, June 4, 2018


Best of all pronouns
And the most honest,
Even if a bit blurry,

If the scope of “we”
Could be communicated
In speech automatically,
Every voice should be a “we.”

But even as we say so,
Little ghosts are whispering,
The darkness and its shadow.

We are not ourselves, never
Ourselves alone. We are speech.
We are words. We are haunted
Crowds echoing forever.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


Story is language potent,
Language weaponized,
And as with any weapon
Story’s indiscriminate

As to its victims.
You could hurt someone with it.
Someone could hurt you with it.
You could be spellbound.

You could hurt yourself.
Every new weapon allows
Some population briefly
To overrun the others.

And then we’re all stuck
Again but the weapon itself.

Saturday, June 2, 2018


The death of music
Is the birth of words,
What happens when bodies try

The same gestures for ages,
For generations,
After they lose all meaning

And meaning itself is born.
Nothing that would make
A story in those gestures,

In those vocals, in those moves,
And then, there it was.
The distillation of thought,

Hanging in the air between.
Music, dying, had to mean.

Friday, June 1, 2018


Number rules the universe.
Rules created the numbers.
Who or what created rules?

It begs the question
To answer, “we did.”
We who? Humans, we suppose,

But never humans alone,
Not if by alone we mean
As breathing organisms.

Something heaved up out of us
Or, rather, our ancestors,
That conquered the world with rules.

But there never was an us
Until that something said, “us.”