Thursday, February 28, 2019

Narrative Man

Circle your mountain, raven.
Your faith in someone
Else must always fall

To pieces, just like
Your faith in yourself.
Dark sky over luminous
Forest, the sun behind us,

We may safely discuss this.
A marvelous fate,
A novel technology
Animates you, lifts your flight.

You have no narrative arc,
No explanation except
Your gold-lit black silhouette.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I Saw a Hole in a Field

Why not continue
Circling the brutal truth, if
It’s true, if it can’t be fixed

Or erased or made
Whole? Personally,
I’d prefer to sit
On the lip of brutal truth,

Arms crossed on my knees,
Comfortably looking
Over the edge, in.

It seems an amazing thing
To me, our longing
To fix everything,
Us, one species on a stone.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Deep Forgetting

You are a composite beast
Made up of composite beasts
Contained in composite beasts.

These words are composite beasts
Composing composite beasts
Of poems comprising small parts

Of larger composite beasts.
And yet it never adds up
To one great composite beast,

And it never can be husked
Like the shells of Russian dolls,
In infinite lines of beasts.

On inspection, all dissolves,
And nothing’s ever resolved.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Cave of Treasures

Could be a body,
A bone still carrying code
Never before decoded,

Information that will change
Our future understanding
Of our distant past.

Could be a painting,
A circle of stones,
A flute carved from antler horn,
A tiny, stone figurine.

Could be scrolls stuffed into jars,
Sheaves of esoteric script,
Fables of magic rings found
In caves. It won’t be the rings.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

“Save Gloomy Cypress Trees”

Allow me to add
To your dread of us,
The ghosts of the merely great:

There are no ghosts, and there are
No words. The songs of the trees
Were never quite heard.

Stay on this mountain
And study your books.
Our planet’s notorious
For executing good looks.

Or refuse. Then you might learn
What all texts and scriptures miss:
Every passing pattern is
And is not fortuitous.

Saturday, February 23, 2019


The pigs are flying; the pears
Hang ripe on the willow trees.
The crawfish whistles
From the mountaintop,
And the hens all floss their teeth.

Goldfish swim through the bamboo
Blossoms where the dark ships sail
The forest. Black crows practice
Backstrokes, and logs hunt for frogs
As roses hunt for florists.

Clockwise philosophers play
Sundial games with garden gnomes,
And the stars are out all day.
Now I’m done composing poems.

Friday, February 22, 2019

My Battery Is Low and It’s Getting Dark

I speak here not as myself,
But as a costume
For the manipulative

Arrival inside of me.
Sing muse! Sing fungus!
Say, story, how you used me.

We are in this together,
Watching as the dust storm comes
To cover us forever,

Not far from where we landed
In this most distant desert
Under this thin sky

Now thickening with winter.
Clouds will bury us on Mars.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

To Miss the Mark

“There’s a quality of legend about freaks. . . . Freaks were born with their trauma.” ~Arbus

Yes and no, not all of it,
Not hardly, mostly
Just potential for more and
More and more of it.

The photographer herself
Might bring some of it,
Even unaware of it.

Our trauma is your trauma
Made manifest, permanent.
That’s why you turn toward us
And away from us.

Every freak’s a Cassandra,
Memento apocalypse.
Death is a skull; we’re its lips.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Thinking of Some Interesting Events

Night, eleven years ago,
That I was widowed,
Night, a year later,

I sat up reading
By a hearth, sleepless,
While my sudden fiancée
Slept off a passing illness

Until daylight lit
The lavender, manuka,
Bluestone, and eucalyptus.

The “trashion show” in Moab,
That night of the deep, cold snow,
Before these poems and the birth
Of the child last left to know.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Lord of Suffering

Thanks to pain, my thoughts are not
I know it bores you,

The repeated epithet,
But the formula is not,
In my skull, a mnemonic.

I don’t need to remember.
I can never be so bored.
Every echo’s breathtaking.

Every echo hurts
The thoughts that shout out this verse.
Every pain is new

And novel, renewed in me,
Each new ache discovery.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The One Who Knows the Names

These arrogant, rude, murdered
Words all followed me
As I drew them out

Like bats from their caves
And led them through the country
Where the people are all dreams.

These had usurped the living
Domes of bone that sheltered them,
Parasites feasting
On the riches of the mind.

I pulled them into the light
And arranged them, netted them,
Caught their flight in type.
Dreams behind now, back to night.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Immersion in Our Private World

Your tongue smooths the open grave of your throat.
You ask me why I have no praise for God.
God knows there are no praises from Sheol.

Too much focus has made your eyes grow dim.
You’ve wrecked your sight to not see what you know,
And now you’re surprised enemies appear.

You never saw them until they loomed near.
Monsters must eat you, if monsters you fear.
When we were small children, we were like friends.

We coordinated our different strengths.
We were siblings. We were variations.
We shared the same roof, parents, relations.

Now we are orphans, marooned by old age.
You’re saintly stubborn, and I, heathen, rage.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Disgust & Empathy

We like to think we’re simply
Brainier than all the rest
Because being smart, being
Clever, being strategic,

Are traits we value highly,
And we think they’ve got to do
With having a bulbous brain.

Perhaps we should note
Our highest concentrations
Of unusual neurons

Weave through the anterior
Cingulate and insula,
The regions that mediate
Empathy and disgust. Huh.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Maybe That Beggar Really Was a Cretan

What’s strange is the lies
That Odysseus uses
When the poem says he’s lying
Are not magical,

Are dull and the sorts of tales
Anyone lying might tell,
But the adventures
For which he is still famous—

Circe, Cyclops, Helios,
Tiresias, all the rest—
Unpacked in a single night,

The poem presents as the truth.
How many ways were we duped?

Thursday, February 14, 2019


After the first death,
Every day is another
Resurrection, life

Again and again.
It’s not special. It’s common.
Have you dreamed? Then you’ve been there.
Have you slept? Then you’ve been dead.

It’s only that some of us
Have fallen from cliffs.
Some of us have walked through fires,
Crawled out of our frozen ponds.

We’re not special, but we’re not,
In the way the rest of you
Think of us, liars.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Ideas Leave Sturdy Fossils, Too

As the poem goes on and on,
Expectation is curtailed.
The Bishop’s recitation

Of that unnamed poem
He imagined memory,
Metaphor, demonstration,
Failed to elucidate time,

But as a text, a pattern
Of phrases in translation,
What he left behind

Still does an excellent job,
Even now, even after
The world he knew sun circled
Circled sun hundreds of times.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mere Icicles, Us

Actually, what if I did?
And if I’m not, actually?
What if I’m not and I did?

Not-portrait of what I self.
Not-self of what I portray,
Who has no I left.

What if even I
Can’t claim it or can’t know it?
After the blackout,
After the moon disappeared,

The continuity lied.
What crawled back out of the mud
And ice was a ghost,
A something had died.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Shame Is No Surprise

It’s wisdom to expect great foolishness from the wise.
If the marbled occupants of your personal pedestals
Never topple, never fall from their lofty hypocrisies,
You should know they never did rise to the standards
Of others who despised them, whose standards
You may in turn despise. Shame is no surprise.
A human without shame is a human without a tribe.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

About to Leave for God

“God shepherds me,” sang
The psalmist, bleating the lamb
He needed for sacrifice.

My friend said, “I was always
Happy when the word
‘Joy’ did not arise,”

Adding that, “a friend of mine
Quivers at the sound
Of the word, ‘God.’” Lord.

That word, my god, is jealous,
Particularly jealous
Of the likes of psalms.

That word God is the night’s soil,
Word that restoreth its soul.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Cosmogonic Conquest

Anemones are friends to fish
Who have no friend in me.
Look on your enemies, fish!

Look, your anemones we
Will smash. Look! We will eat you.
Does that seem comic? You wish.

The poems for God are the same
As the poems for fish,
The prayers for great wealth.
We want what we think we’ve missed.

There is no conquest.
There’s the story of conquest.
The fungus motivates us.
We serve ourselves for its dish.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Partially Barbarian

Not all operations are
Truth operations.
I care about many things

These days that once I did not,
About persons who did not
Exist, about waves

Of phenomena
Then invisible to me,
And also I do not care
Any longer for others.

Our ghosts are ourselves,
Who and what worried us when,
Then. Not all transformations
Are finished transformations.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Proud of the Ground

There are no old bold
Mushroom hunters, goes
The warning slogan,
Warning you to be not bold.

Caution is the better part
Of hunger. There are no old
Bold spirit hunters.

Never rely on a guide
Through the underworld.
Never harrow hell dreaming
To come back alive.

Those visitors who return,
Heads proud of the ground,
Carry no one back with them.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Philosophizing with Data

I only teach what I want
To learn, never returning
To any subject
Unless it needs relearning,

Wandering away
From what I’m most qualified,
Truly qualified to teach.

As a researcher,
I’m desultory,
Barely scratching the surface.

I’ll never be mistaken
For a great scholar.
But what a student teaching
Makes me, what a great liar!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Third Version

In the third version
Of his death, he lives.
This is the fantastic tale

Preferred by those who read him,
Who love tales of him,
Who want him to have been good,
Who want wisdom redeeming

And undiluted
By sordid consequences
For its foolishness,
The foolishness inherent,

Necessary to wisdom.
It was wisdom that killed him
And saved him in their version.

Monday, February 4, 2019

So Often, the Child

So often, the child
Is alone, whether alone
And incommunicado
(Her rarest form of alone),

Or alone with a glowing
Screen in an unpeopled room,
Or alone in company.

She begins to be aware
From time to time, of herself,
Acutely aware

Of that awareness
As an object of itself.
The reflection startles her—
Wordless thing words birthed in her.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Unity Depends on the Repeatability of the Propositional Sign

In the perfectly
Calibrated pronouncements
Of the expert drunk
Or philosopher

Truth becomes a collection
Of scalpels vivisecting
Themselves. Recursion,

However, is a feature
Of the slowly unfolding
Expansion of nothing much.

Infinity escapes it,
Sails into nothing
As truth’s sentences repeat
Finite, opposed reflections.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Addicted to Assertion

We are aphorists,
Every poem of us;
We are sententious.

We moan in our chains,
Linking the forms of to be.
This is that. This is what that
Seems to be. That would be this,

Actually. That would only
Be this, actually.
Oh, the irony

That that is not that,
That this is not this.
We tack like sailboats,
Mince crabwise sideways.

This is, when the wind
Is with us. If not, we shift,
Sidle to the farther shore.

We progress against the tide.
We are rarely straightforward.
We know that further motion
Is doomed by what is,

By what definitely is.
Only paradox
And contradiction
Gain ground against existence.

Friday, February 1, 2019

If I Live Out My Life in Peace, You Can Claim Credit

Any of you can.
And if it is a long life,
As well as peaceful,
Not too awful at the end,

You’re free to credit
Any habits that I had
Good or bad. The chance

Of my existence
Appearing desirable
In retrospect was always
Slim, given how it began.

But really, will it matter
To the ghost how its host went?
As I was, I am content.