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.