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.