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.