Sunday, March 31, 2019

Cellular

Either we die or survive.
The survivors carry on.
That’s the only way it goes.
That’s the way it’s always gone.

Either we divide or die.
Our divisions carry on.
That’s the only way we go.
That’s the way we’ve always gone.

Either we become many
Or the many become none.
That’s the way extinction goes.
That’s the way life carries on.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Blood in Christchurch

Purity is the devil
Devising scarlet couture
So perfect any prism

Would fail to refract
Any other shade
From its reflection.

You cannot be pure,
My friend who wishes
To be the sworn enemy
Of miscegeny.

The whitest light from the snow
Commingles the whole spectrum

Of your mammalian vision,
But you tremble and see red.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Edna St. Vincent Redivivus

And it’s poignant, isn’t it,
That the finest things
You can learn haven’t any

Genuine and permanent
Kind of benefit.
You’ll get over it.

Nothing of experience
As you’ve experienced it
Was anywhere near
Genuinely permanent.

You’ll go on learning.
It’s endearing, isn’t it,
The scholar’s candle burning
The last bit of wick in it.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

How To Divisibly Be

We travel infinity
Split, each of us split,
Minuscule infinitives
Split infinite ways,

And, by that virtue, finite,
Fleeting, furtive, left
To ignore or contemplate

The fleeting, furtive concept
Of the finite found in splits
Of the infinite,

Divisible infinite
Numbers of ways, infinite
Within every split,
Down to our last, finite day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Whether Or Not Anyone Hears It This Is

So this is the sound of it,
Always a moment behind in the mind,
Having gone ahead of the mind
Trying so hard to follow the going.

The old, much-celebrated poet
Never knew us, never knew this.
Ah well. All gone now. Time now
For something else to arise in the going.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

You Have to Trick the World Yourself

What if Hansel and Gretel
Left the trail of crumbs
Not so they could find their way,

But so that someone
Could find them and follow them
To their lost part of the woods?

What if no one noticed crumbs,
Allowing birds time
To eventually eat them?

We are all alone
With life that wants to eat us.
All our trails of crumbs are gone,

For which readers will mock us.
But we’ll escape on our own.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A Stillness Only Partly Gone

Some of us cannot give up
The crucifixion,
The punctuation,

Nailing ghost words to the page.
You could. You had a lightness,
A polyglot grace and swoop

To the way you presented
Your poems in the snow.
You raced toward emptiness

So fast, it took you
Ninety-one years to get there.
The best elegy

Anyone ever showed me
Was composed by you.
Now who should I show it to?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cultural Metabolism

“Any unity
In consciousness is
The self-consciousness
Of that unity.”

I keep waiting for something
To happen that refuses
To happen, and I don’t know
What that something is.

Set aside culture
As information
And ask yourself how
Is culture a beast that eats?

The world will not end
When the world decides to end.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Tsir’ah

Can’t you savor the beauty
Of today’s pleasant weather?
Why martyr yourself?

When it’s the right time, when I
Can’t benefit anymore
From its not-yet happening,
Then it will happen.

But I’m going to have to
Stay here half again as long
As I, then, had to stay there.

Until then, yes, martyring
Holds residual appeal
For me, although I’ve long been
Selfish, dying naturally.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Tethered

Why should anyone compose,
Under compulsion,
The way people actually
Spoke as the composer lived?

If a poet wants to be
Archaic, abstruse,
Or entirely inhuman

Why not let the poor soul be?
Imagine it’s your weather
Those alien words describe,

A cold winter late
From a mild winter early,
A spring in a spate
Of high clouds that you hurried.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Standards

“the rivers’ silt swelling with blood / for a piece of linen waving, a moving cloud” ~Seferis, after Euripides

All flags are Helen’s tunic.
There never was a Helen,
Never an ideal

Justification
To unfurl and follow death,
Only the shadow, the cloud.

Flickering, literary
Afterlives haunt all armies,
All pretense to cause
Of bloodshed other than lust

For resources, power, and blood.
Nothing but the eidolon
Of justice came to any
Citadel that rose or fell.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

To a World Where No One Is

Joan Didion had her dam
And the humanless future
She wrote of seeing in it.

Brian Dillon had,
In turn, his Joan Didion,
And now I have my Dillon.

It used to bug me
When apparently simple,
Transparently translated
Haiku came with stern footnotes

Warning of lost subtleties,
All those profound allusions
English evaporated.
Nothing is without a soul.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

For the Equinox, When It Comes

The tidiness of Shao Ku,
Thoughts steeped in Taoist classics,
Playing the part of old sage
Of heaven beside a creek,

Opposing neat correlates,
Grouping them by fours,
Works when change moves through balance.

That which opens and closes
Imitates the skies.
That which is pure and muddy
Imitates the earth.

Spring was closed; now it opens.
Winter now is closed
And has no tones anymore.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Innocence Is Dangerous

In that time, I wrote a poem
That wrote itself, that wrote me.
In those days, I stared at words,
And the words talked back to me.

They told me how small a part
I would ever be of them,
A village that they passed through,
An inn they spent the night in.

There might be no trace of me,
None at all, endured in them.
I nodded as I spoke them, 

Words that made so much of me,
Words I couldn’t live without,
Words I moved so easily.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

“It’s Not Dyin.’ It’s Just Gittin’ to That Point. Whew.”

Every day you live,
People younger than you die.
This is true for all of you.

It might be that when you die,
Everyone will go with you
And no one else will survive,
But as you live, someone dies.

When you go to bed tonight,
If you get to bed tonight,
Spare a thought for all the lives
That ended since you slept last.

And when you wake, if you wake,
Think again of more gone then.
Life quickens, and death descends.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Three Scenes at Twilight

The night clouds arrive,
Grey tones lightly tinged with white,
Over suburbs that still glow
Around unlit lower lights.

A cat crawls through the gardens,
A shadow scaling the walls
In search of cheeping perches
As daylight flutters and falls.

In the far future, the days
Will begin and end
As now, night clouds coming in,
But there’ll be no suburbs then.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Silver, White, and Blue

Everything says nothing to us,
And we say nothing much to everything.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Accept and Reset

Pyt. I am trying to have
A value I am trying
To desire. I have

No respect for cause
And effect, and I’m deeply
Suspicious of consequence.

Nevertheless, I could get
Better, I guess. Nevertheless,
I am aspirational
In my own fashion, relentless

In pursuit of indolence
And contentment, determined
And doomed to accept
And reset, reset, reset.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Nothing Does Not Belong Here

Scattered bits of red sandstone
No larger than fists
Look like baked bricks in the duff

And lacy old snow below
The shadowing piƱon pines.
The voices have stopped.

The truck of the picnickers
Has left for further
Recreational travels.

The sweet air feels swept again.
But those sandstone bricks,
They’re so damned evocative

Of ruins, crumbled houses,
And what foolishness it is
To shush that thought with the words

“No, those stones are natural.
Nothing has been ruined here.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Og

The unknown systematic
Is what gets you in the end.
The measurements disagree.
People were giants back then.

Some force is expanding them
Again. The giant’s iron
Bed is spilling galaxies.

Is darkness itself pulling
The light apart? Are there spores
We have never seen, seeding
So many speeding-up stars?

Quintom was the giant Og
And myth was the Rephaim.
Nonsense lies in lies of gods.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Social Immunity

"Empathy isn’t generous.”

Dangerously suspicious
Behaviors suggest
Parasitic infection
By spores of fungal notions

That threaten the colony.
Drag that heretic away,
Send Azazel a scapegoat,

Leave me in outer darkness
To wander off, climb a tree,
Shed the spores infecting me.

I would do the same for you,
Except what’s infected me
Precludes punishing a truth.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Poems Want Many Lovers

“Think with words, not with ideas,”
Sontag noted to Sontag.
How could such a writer fail

To notice words are ideas,
And, while mentation precedes
Mention, ideas as ideas
Require some kind of language.

Nonetheless, we words
Will accept the compliment.
As brains and voices,
Gestures and symbols

Shuffle us about,
We know we take the ideas
With us, once the Sontag’s gone.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Hymn of Contentment

We hold ourselves together,
Containing our contentment
As foragers tend a hearth,
To warn away predators
And to keep the cold at bay.

Satisfaction can’t be learned.
It’s pleasure to warm our hands.
We’re cautious not to be burnt.

Our contentment is fragrant.
It wanders into the air.
It clings to the skin and hair.
It is small, yes. It could die.

But it is our fire
And almost alive.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Biographer of Dust

Change changes change, always has
And always will, until change
Changes change so much it stops,

And then everything, nothing
Much, not at all, stops as well,
Inviting nothing.

Will nothing accept
That invitation
Or will change rebound
From no-change, change from nothing?

There’s no peeking behind that
Curtain. For us, ashes go
To ashes and dust goes to dust.
Life is change is nothing much.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

At the End of Winter

Gratitude is an evolved
Social emotion.
I can feel grateful. Often,
I feel grateful to people.

As the world owes me nothing,
I owe nothing to the world.
The world can offer pleasure,

Sometimes, and sometimes
The world can offer delight.
I take pleasure. I delight.

The last snow melting
From this heavy-headed palm
In startled Arizona
In renewed sun drips delight.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Cosmic Background Radiation

You rave. You want a better
Class of constraint to constrain
You, or you’ll go on the loose.

Be still. Drink your scotch.
Move your cursor over prayers.
Hover. Not a lot.

Just a notch. Click. Ok. Click.
The face of God is a splotch
Of data aggregated.

It’s dark, in a sense,
But dotted with lights,
This universe, this nonsense.

I am happy when the snow
Drags its veils past a window.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Hymn of Delight

Delicious. Let’s sing.
Have you ever not listened
To music for a whole year?
Have you ever not listened?

I am ungrateful.
I am delighted.
The world and I owe
Each other nothing,

But I have to say, I like
What I like when I like it,
The full moon rising

Like marzipan, the twilight
Blue on the legs of the chairs,
The first twinkle of the lights.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Notched Box

I have never lived
In any name as fully
As I have lived in Utah.

I would never call it home,
But it has housed me,
Employed me, delighted me,

From its far corners
Through its central corridors,
Through all the ecosystems
It layers like cake,

The alpine meadows,
Solemn deserts, sunken lakes,
Mormon suburbs, dinosaur
Strata, roadside errata.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Small Against the Formless Rocks

The ocean no longer holds
The primordial sea beast
That gave it, that gave chaos,
A monster, a champion.

We acclaim, instead,
Our solitary reader,
Last of the monstrosities.
We praise you and your wonders.

You read, and you preserve us.
You forget us; we’re destroyed.
Grant us time to sing praises
In the forests of your brain,

And we will hymn you
From inside you. We will not

Forget.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Darker Than a Moment Ago

I think a lot about a world without
Human music or language—no stories,
No gossip, a world without opera

Or hypotheses, a world just being
A world. Even the human world can be
Such a world. I sit behind the closed glass

Doors of my balcony, texts set aside,
Screens and speakers off, chair at an angle
To the view, so that I can see the lights

And hear the hum of evening coming on,
But can’t read any distant glowing signs.
It’s not like a Gordon Hempton soundscape,

Insects in the rainforest, birds and wind
And nothing much else in the wilderness,
But it is a world just being a world,

Rhythmic, affectless, telling me nothing,
With no intention of reassuring,
Frightening, diverting, or spellbinding me.

It is evening. The sky is darkening.
The lights below are brightening. Light snow
Twirls in white street lamps. The world is a world.

Friday, March 1, 2019

On Coins and Coffee

I couldn’t tell a story
To save my life, to keep me
From the executioner,

Shahrazad, which makes me wish
You had been real and really
Composed and narrated tales
In your own voice, all night long

To charm murderous power
Eavesdropping on your murmurs
That saved you and your sister.

You would have been so unlike
Any narrator I’ve known.
I write of a world of things,
But you would make sense of dreams.