Thursday, April 30, 2020


Dawn, and dozens of mule deer
Line the long Kolob Terrace,
Some dashing across the road—
What else is new in this world?

Inescapably pointless
Questions accidentally
Draw chalk around the absurd.
Whole herds of deer like dark clouds,

Like starling murmurations
That startle, doubly startled
As they whirl, to discover
They’re not birds and they can’t fly.

That’s why the look in their eyes.
Deer believe they are angels.
I believe deer are angels,
Reduced to wingless dimwits

By a furious human
Idea of divinity.
Murder all their predators.
Provide their ecosystem.

Give them cause to multiply.
Knowing how they love twilight,
Keep them halfway in the dark,
Hunting them only sometimes,

Blinding them with white visions
That end in death or trembling.
Never make them understand
How or why the wolves moved on.

Fawn stops dead in front of me,
Shadow on the empty road,
Mother and the herd all gone.
Fly, I beg it. Use your soul.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Linked Mountains over Orchid Terrace

this is not a real poem

Exterior symbols
Interior tokens

The cold forest woman
The small folk at midnight

The underground machines
That listen to the stars

this is for divination 

Ask for what you want
Never ask what will be

You have to stir the past
To turn up one you like

There’s no future to ask
A young man’s old mustache 

this home is living alone

So much of what we love
Is coincidental

Down to a memory
Of random happiness

One moment early on
Bliss on one empty day

this is fulminant on the face of it 

Recycling used lightning
Left over from wildfires

Awareness needs at least
A body to exist 

But emotions persist
In breathing and they burn

this one can go anywhere 

Written russet amber
Verses noted in gold

Why not and remember 
Manual typewriters

Ballpoint pens fountain pens
Were speed technologies 

this is a gesture of ecstasy for despair 

Conclusions to sermons
Sung in delirium

Weeping in angel tongues
Never end so it goes

Is it shallow to rise 
Near surface from the depths?

this is the wind when the earth shakes

The green dragon descends
In certain traditions

Scaly dragons erupt
Out of caves in others

Each line takes a long time
To circle back again

this became the frog

The frog became west witch
And beauty of the moon 

All the imagined things
That don’t happen at all

The unimagined things 
Happening constantly 

this is erased

Look what we have altered
Requesting specifics 

Requires changing the past 
Discarding forgetting

Outward losses must ease
What the inner achieves

this is standard Copenhagen 

It must be confusing
For such an orderly

Animal as the cat
To exist in this way

Never knowing whether
It is there or not there

this is disbelief 

What is real may not be
What is false may not be

Real or false may not be 
And false and real may be

Inhale this empty air
Neither real nor empty

this is relief

Elk drooling in the wind
There are days when eating

Peacefully is enough
Contentment is enough

The feeling of enough
The nature of enough

this is from a larger universe

No lives ever die here
Nothing ever suffers

Everything’s auspicious
And pointless local stars

Start no astronomy 
Everyone got lucky

this is a lesson on magic

All miraculously 
Warring fiction fashions

Verifiably false
Falsifiable truths

Reduce observation
To pure information 

this is pure information 

To give form to the mind
You must fully convey

A sequence of symbols
Completely entangled

Understand gravity
To understand nothing 

this is prayer

Full of deer and twilight
The inevitable

God and the miracles

Come close to existing 
But never quite get there

this is a transpersonal field of mentation 

The thought some things are true
Thus others must be false

May itself be useful
More than necessary

All histories stories
As the French remind us

this presents itself to you as physicality

A mouse in a barrel
Silkworm in a cocoon

A glimmering distance
Bewildering the way

Good swimmer good reader
You don’t contain the lake

this attempts to discover

Things undiscovered yet
That lie inside a poem

That lie inside a truth
That lie around in truth

That lie that tells that truth
Experience belies

this is quicksilver 

Ambiguity feeds
The wonder of the chase 

Wonder too ravenous
To ever get fed up

With ambiguities 
Scampering beads of doubt 

this is the man of Mount Xi

Nothing called immortal 
Is actually alive

Ever actually lived
But duration is strange

Crossing linked mountains called

this is an open question

Tell me about yourself
Imperative raven 

Rising from frosted grass
Fat rodent in your grasp

Once you know what poems are
Can you stop hunting them?

this is an element of surprise 

Human-made forest sprites 
Inhabit sentient walls

Speak from sentient boxes
Bellow from loudspeakers 

But do not inhabit
One word as an object

this is a small detail

Montaigne wrote long ago
No event and no shape

Perfectly resembles
Any other like it

No event and no shape
Ever wholly differ 

this is a change in confidence 

Show a sketch of a school
Of fish with one out front

Mother calls the leader
Show a sketch of a school

Of fish with one out front
Mother says has no friends

this is a mirror reflecting ghosts

Pity the poor monsters
God struggles to exist

But falls a little short
Like words struggling to live

Someday maybe the ghosts
Will be real to themselves 

this is for you Wang Sun

How long is your road back
If you’ve lost your way here?

What are they praying for
Forever in this place?

The drumming and piping
Of birdsong in these words 

this is lacking a partner

Every controversy
Of humans concerning

Time is inconclusive
Here I can only state

The answer is perhaps
The match is inexact 

this has meanings of its own

What do diviners know
That gives them confidence

That makes them think they see
What no one else can see?

There’s a tiny spring here
That drives the wheel of things

this is what you do not do

You never finish this
You don’t pretend you can

You were never lazy 
Being born was enough

Being born was too much
You started doing stuff

this was saved by volcanic ash

Words have their secret lairs
All of this comes from there

If you name the cave bear
You drive the bear away

You drive the bear extinct
You get to keep the cave

this is happened happening 

Love that which seems to be
But is not what it seems

It is the clue you need
To be able to read

The face of a cosmos
Resembling dissembling

this is a small zibaldone

The pack rat keeps its notes
In a compact fashion

A species that does not 
Exist yet could read them

Reimagine a whole
Ecosystem from seeds

this has magical mathematical realism

One thing for another
Yields the sense of wonder

That what works for zero
And imaginary

Also predicts the stars
Dreams dizzy wizardry

this is a label

Pick any term you like
Invent terms on your own

Say your experience
Any phenomena 

Could be linked by those terms
What is the term for that?

this is a feckless genius

There are no other kinds
To point out the failings

Of inhabited flesh
While inhabiting flesh

Is wisdom in a word
Is irresponsible 

this is one of your more transcendent days 

I met Master Red Pine
Getting drunk with Boyu

In the Cinnabar Hills
And I accosted them

You are not immortal!
I love emptied heavens

this is when you close your eyes

Lovers of symmetry
Appear with their numbers

Their armillary spheres
Multiverse string theories 

Sator squares palindromes
Ambigram viruses 

this story is halting 

The recluse will be gone
Somewhere on the mountain

Where the clouds have settled
Into parallel lines

That go on forever
In a way that’s touching

this is a mystery

Answers raise more questions
Questions breed more answers

Create your mysteries 
If you want to solve some

You won’t solve them of course
But you might resolve some

this is impossible

Why the fascination 
With the mere writing down

Of the impossible?
Just to dare to denote

The meaningless gives it
Symbolic existence

this infant is anthropogenic

Humans made by humans
Define made by humans 

Something artificial
As something that is fake

It makes sense we produce 
Nonsense we reproduce

this is a little mischief with imagination

You want to mean something 
Want me to mean something

I want to mean nothing
A serious mischief

Not to break the image
But unimagine if

this is the bright-moon man

We’ve forgotten the stars
In the halls of our lights

The moon we can’t forget
It still gets in our way

Like a cat in our face
We can’t quite yet replace 

this is the raft

Here is the world complete
A home a bed a friend

Water and food in reach
A driftwood fire a tent

More than enough to read
Current past every bend

this is the roof

Before words ancestor
Animals were not meant

To be inhabited
Meaningfully at all

Heads accidentally 
Became living spaces

this is an ordinary buzzard

Condors are much larger
Therefore rarer to see

But even the common
Contains the infinite

Divisibly within
The grandeur is finite

this has no meanings of its own

The transcendental e
To the power of pi

And imaginary
Added to one is none

Mystic union to some
Shen means nothing to me

this shows ghosts have no noses

No one will light incense
At the mausoleum

Of the king who banished
The poets as traitors

But will the poets care?
Incense isn’t heaven

this was not what you meant by the future

All hills are hills no more
All mountains were sea floors

Or dunes or lava spills
Or something flat and low

Not pictured here beasts browse 
The cliffs of artifice

this is relentlessly cumulative 

An event is something
That happens once it does

It cannot unhappen 
Reversals require two

Events that have happened
Never fewer events

this only exists in translation 

A sensed experience
Has a different texture

Than an understanding 
Iron and oxygen

Brought us blood from the sun
But that’s rust on your thumb

this is a photo called how-could-I-not?

Humans will make humans
Making more human worlds 

After me after you 
And then life will live lives

After humans have gone
And after Earth’s lives stars

this is mirror glass 

Hope glows on its victims
Like the strangling angel

Laura glimpsed in a gown
Open to reflection

From cosmetic mirrors
Cloaking factory walls

this is a gesture without a name

Throw your hands to the side
To show champion size

Throw your hands to the sky
Champion wins the prize!

Bring your palms to your eyes
If your champion dies

this is a pawky fawn

Conserving energy
By having remained weak

Accruing advantage
Sitting still in the shade

Sly quiet wayside eyes
Hide why weakness escapes

this is a cat’s-paw 

Monkey sings to the cat
Quickness signifies skill

For a creative cat
Who can prove it can claw

Sustenance from embers
For a monkey to gnaw

this way frees you from the task

Great unreality
Is a sense of its own

But one you can’t count on
Already past the sixth

What’s real re the unreal?
It’s nothing you should ask

this is not applicable

In a village nothing
Much is never simple

What is learned is useful
Just not in the village

Knowledge is our villain
History our village

this is applied

Words by themselves can wait
In possibility 

Can wait thousands of years
And pure math can surprise

With its utility
Once its professors die 

this child is their causal ghost

Why the arrows of time
And the arrows of why

Should arrive in the mind

The mind is uncertain
They’re certainly fecund

this is change without imagination

The bear you extinguished
Disintegrates in dirt

Symbolizing nothing
With nothing much won’t work

The skull sleeps on its paws
Fullness emptied its thoughts

this is change without intervention

Returning the girl sings
I stole the elixir

Of immortality 
And fled I am guilty

But the moon welcomed me
We change eternally

this change

What’s past is not prologue
To what’s nonexistent

What’s past’s part prediction
Part loss part forgiveness

Past all divination
What changed is the question

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Camper Vans at Grapevine

Once the organism itself is
Favored over its component cells
The organism is stabilized

Any cells that rebel after that
Only damage the organism
Or are killed quickly by other cells

We are not an organism yet
Although something whole asserts itself
Against small lives lived in defiance

First we need alignment of fitness
Before we can fully export it
To the few of us who do no work

Contributing to the survival
Of the organism as a whole
But stand at the ready to produce

The next generation of ideas
As yet the most leisure-capable
Think little and look after their own

While the most survival-focused work
To keep up and promote their offspring
To those ranks of leisure-capable

But we all feel the disapproval
Of the organisms of meaning
Trying to cohere around our needs

And as we carve apart the last stands
We want more and more to lose ourselves
In woods we’re hell-bent on removing

Monday, April 27, 2020


There’s a house in Hurricane,
A small house with a small yard
On a busy thoroughfare,

That used to be bright yellow
With a sign in florid script
On the front: “The Sunshine House.”

That was all. No one lived there,
And if it had been a shop
It wasn’t any longer.

Then one day, a wall went blue—
Solid, featureless, sky blue—
And it stayed like that for years.

Then it was painted all grey.
The sign was painted over.
It was a dark, handsome grey,

And nothing else seemed to change,
And that was all. You could ask
Around to get the story.

Maybe it would be boring,
Perfectly ordinary.
Some realtor bought it to flip.

But really? A sunshine house
For years and years—bright yellow,
Empty-sky blue—turned dark grey.

Don’t ask about the story.
You know as much as you need.
Bare sun, sky blue, and then grey.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


If I were to confine myself
To only what occurs to me
As this body in this moment

Words surfacing from memory
Descriptions of the thoughts I have
Descriptions of the things I see

Episodes only I recall
Experiences I have had
I and the people most like me

Would you say I came by these lines
Appropriately honestly
Nothing filched without permission?

I wouldn’t say any such thing
Every phrase an infant captures
The slang an in-group slings and bends

The capacity to render
In every last sense of render
Any kind of living in words

Even for Enheduanna
Even for apocryphal bards
By headwaters in the mountains

For anyone for a long time
Longer than language itself
Can recall at all of itself

Is something borrowed bent and broken
Hammered and battered hand-me-down
I didn’t live any of this

Whether I ever read a word
Of English or any language
Whether I invented or sang

What I heard someone older sing
About being of this body
This inheritance by the way

Where I am sitting and watching
Tourists seek out experience
To capture in trucks or on foot

Or pedaling furiously
Or gunning down ATV trails
With guns and coolers in back

About how this body perches
Between them and all the other
Earth activities of the day

The big ravens and small sparrows
The ants and fungus underground
Clouds and winds wandering around

Knowing none of this existed
Exactly before in these words
That pre-existed all of this

All arrived here only lately
With fresh dishonest honesty
When the nothing of this was me

Who never lived any of it
Hiding in words like a hermit
A squatter without a permit

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Grandpa Moses

“Don’t bother.” ~an old friend’s great-grandfather, on living past a century

He gets so close to the end
But he never quite makes it

All his loved ones all his friends
Have vanished while he’s waited

His spies say the Promised Land
Eats anyone who tastes it

But to him that green expanse
Looks like a wasteland wasted

Friday, April 24, 2020

Road Gods

~ Warning Signs Design to Be Alarming

Beware contemporaries
Advising you how and why

To do nothing
Because nothing

Is missing
And necessary

In your soul
And in your life—

They’re most often helping you
To do nothing much really

Just a little nothing much
Just a wafer-thin rest

So that then you can power up
To do so much oh so much more!

More important! More relevant!
More oh-my-god significant—

I’m warning you
More will still be nothing much

As less was mostly nothing much
Just more or less nothing much for us—

Look down the road
What do you glimpse?

A city? More cities?
Verdant parks? Apocalypse?

You know that cliché about journeying
You know it so well but you missed it

Keep your eyes on the road
It curves and it’s wicked

If you want to do less well keep looking
Down this hissing road and listen

~ Nothing’s Trickier than Intersections

Look as quickly as you can
The past is always different

That doesn’t make you present
Won’t present you a future

In the morning dirt resorbs
Shadows it grows out at night

Find beauty pause you can’t be
Still but you can pause and look

Both ways for the two-faced gods
That flock to crossing pathways

They have so many names
And every name two faces

One always coming for you
One always fleeing the scene

There’s one that they’re all hiding
They’re meant to obscure the one

The name of the one’s the point
The fiction in a fiction

Go ahead through the crossroads
And maybe you’ll get the point

Evanescent morning dew
Where meadowlarks are singing

Where all that’s left keeps spinning
And waits in the road for you

~ Short Lines Allow Changing Lanes

Could any list exhaust
The ways that change can change?

I looked to see which poets had tried
Something like and found a fine test

Thanks to Dunya Mikhail who summarized
Much remaining nonetheless concise—

“I was born.
I write poetry.
I will die.”

Then I imagined her three short statements
Short lines as a trigram of number lines

And that meant that they had to be dense 
All sorts of enumerable points within them

Internally continuous and infinitely
Abundant of condensed infinitesimals

The point’s not what’s between the lines
My dear it’s everything hiding inside them

Linked mountains
Returning to be stored and hidden
The changes

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Clearest Mirror

We each have our wholly insufficient
Routines which we believe in
Which we believe confirm us
By means of which we steer our stumbling
Ways through each succeeding day

Like rose or friend in a forgotten rhyme
Deer and elk on the blue mesa at dawn
The funny sort-of gnome who hopped
From around the bend where I sat watching
Touched a crooked index finger to his nose

And intoned—if right this moment I drop
Dead I will secure my reputation as the very
Least known of all the greats and greatest
Of all the unknowns—he spooked the deer
But the elk in their routines ignored him

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Translucent little fish egg
Of a moon just at sunset
“A miracle he had lived?”

No, he was ordinary,
But wait, yes, yes, he wasn’t
A new moon not a fish egg—

He had imaginal discs
From the beginning he did
In his intermingled grace

The blurred soup of his moments
Made of what he used to be
Translucence now the substance

Of that ever-present past
This moon in fact his cocoon
Phases rephrasing the skies—

Bell’s worry isn’t idle
When measurements disagree
The noon bell drowned in a moon

The recluse flowing away
To set behind green jade peaks—
Which events were determined

And which events were chancy?
Then it was a miracle
He had lived because he changed

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Moonlit Juniper

The dream is teaching nothing.
It is used to seeing things
That can’t be said to be there

Or not there. I have never—
Said the dreamer to the dream—
Trusted you so very much

As when you came as moonlight
Mantling ordinary trees,
As if poetry were art

Or something, like the letters
Of a woman who wanted
From youth to flee forever

With a mirror-image soul
To an exotic island.
No islands are exotic

Anymore, replied the dream,
And you can’t stay here with me,
Nor would you ever want to.

No, nor would I—nonetheless,
If we have to talk like books
And not like breathing people,

We might as well play this out.
You be the full moon moving
Slowly over my shadows,

And I’ll be the juniper,
Sentient, rooted, and remote.
You pretend to be shining

Forever, and I’ll pretend
That I’m obscuring nothing,
Given neither of us spoke.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Point of the Pendulum

A clock is good to keep things
going and good for spacing out
things that needn’t go so much—

its clicking oscillations
remind us our perceptions
of change are never the same

as themselves much less other
kinds of change good for contrasts
in countable intervals

each calibrated clockwork
that jars us from our dreaming
and conjures fresh makeshift times—

the sun was our first best clock
the moon taught us how to count
but haven’t you often thought

if you turned your pockets out
pocket watches phones and knives
time’s the pocket change of doubt?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Good for Me

I have to admit I love
Pushing foaming phrases up

Although I know they’re not good
For me and I’d do better

To sit in my wayside shade
And let other things create—

If you watch a stream near flood
You can find some standing waves

Against small rocks and tree roots
Just below high-water marks

Where the volume of the whole
Cresting brook as it rushes

Creates local surpluses
With which rocks and roots make waves—

That rush eventually
Inevitably recedes

And where there were leaping waves
There’s mud then crust and then dust

But for a while roots and stones
In harm’s way make sculptured waves

They constantly generate
That they cannot help but make

Elegant in a small way
Nothing that will hold its shape

But while they last relentless
Intricately foaming shapes

Forming again and again
Well and so what? Good for them

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A Whole Morning

Almost two months ago
Near the end of winter

I spent a whole morning
Beside an empty road

Watching black-headed juncos
Forage in old snow

While I did as close to nothing
As any old human body can

Head to toe in warm clothes
Just a lump in a chair in the sun

Which would have been complete
Contentment itself but even then

I tried to attend to all of the flock’s noises
All those abrupt whooshes and liquid trills

Imagining a highly unlikely exam in which
Someday I would prove I could recognize

And name—foraging only in memory—
The exact species calling from out of sight

Tell me if I could pass that test
If I dreamed of bird songs tonight

Friday, April 17, 2020

Identity Makes Love Itself

Ah— my ringing world
Ringed with love and identity!

Here I am
In love with myself

Here are my neighbors
In love with themselves

We live in a state
In love with itself

Within a ring of these United States
All well in love with themselves

States composed of more of us
Of humans in love with ourselves

Among all the human nations made
By humans and thus made of all

The human beings ringing a world
Humans a whole world ringing

With precious human humanity
Identity so violently
In love so in love with itself

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A Day Is a Windy Shoreline

~Brass at Dawn

How the world looks over a reservoir
From a road in the desert at sunrise

If it takes thirteen years for the spirit
To move on this one’s a short-timer now

The universe speaks in nothing
But us as far as we know—poor monster

Behind arrows are probabilities
Behind probabilities more arrows

That any answer is hard to find
Says more than any one answer

A gust of wind hits the reservoir
So hard a vortex of spray spins and falls

Interactions like that of sun weather
Water and surface made us all

~ Noon Forever Waiting for the Storm

It is human to believe
We can ask the world questions

And if we ask correctly
Something real will answer them

Sortilege with yarrow or 
Vast underground telescopes

Let skies show us tomorrow
God preserve our fondest hopes

It is human human is
How tired of human I am

The mind drifts to the others
Just as frightened and hungry

Not asking any questions
Never prognosticating

Just getting on with living
Wanting resting contentment

In an ordinary scene
That has no special meaning

The cat has killed a lizard
The cat is chasing a mouse

If the mouse escapes the cat
The cat wants back in the house

Now let’s ask the world again
What is it we never learn?

Or let’s ask the sleeping cat
Come in from windy hunting

What is it makes a shoreline
All that water? All that sand?

~ Night Never Sleeps on the Line

Nonlinear arrogance imagines
Itself beyond simplicity of line

Nothing so simple about a line
Fiction in two dimensions

Continuously curvaceous
Dragon leviathan serpentine

You can tie yourself up in a line
Good luck then finding the end of it

Divide it over and over and over
You’ll never uncover a gap

I don’t need to know this
I don’t need to know what

I’m talking about to better
Your opinion of the figure

In the line that says no telling
I just love that line

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Change the Beautiful


You have gone out and flourished
You will return to be stored

When you grew in the new moon
No one on earth could find you

Without lenses and passion
Without curiosity

Now the season is over
And your silver seeds blossom

Everyone can notice you
Who isn’t under a cloud

Even in blinding cities
Even where there are no stars

Well-done—You are flourishing
You will return to be stored


Small birds and minor mammals
Gather around with their clues

Evidence of the rhythm
The lovely oscillation

That lets us count the changes
Accounting for your circle

The beauty of your changes
That render each life mortal

And life itself immortal
In one story you were loved

And in another trusted
But the ends of all stories

Are to get to beginnings
Of what never looks like change


You look like yourself to me
Someone who was left alone

Unimportant to story
Except as explanation

A human who did something
Noble bizarre atrocious

Therefore why the world’s like this
Stuck forever in the sky

It’s not that we need to know
Why—we just love saying why

Why we’re never satisfied
New why stories all the time

I love to look at your face
Forever never same sky


What is a continuum?
Unlimited division

An autonomous notion
Beauty is continuous

And you are continuous
Saturated and finite

Only regarding yourself
As I regard you only

Regard is continuous
Saturated and finite

Your home less ancient than mine
Less painful more shadowed bright

As when you slip from your robes
Over the snow on clear nights

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

What We Don’t Know

Before many humans
Invented then or there
Planting and husbandry
Birthing work and storage
Before we were alive
You or I—we followed

Moving landscapes of food
And maybe the moon—not
Such auspicious seasons
For burying our hopes
And protecting their growth—
Stalking what we followed

Were our ancestors’ lives
Tracking moving landscapes
Preferable to ours?
What a question—it can’t
Matter much anymore
Where herds and berries go

We are the herds ourselves
Following each other
Grazing on our grasses
Where we’ve gone berries grow
Something is fattening
Us—for what we don’t know

Monday, April 13, 2020

In Case You Were Wondering, Here’s Your Answer

Wrens and sparrows peck the grass
The light is impeccable

The emptier the day
The happier I am

Who knows more
The ghosts or the sage?

The ghosts know more
Than the sage they inhabit

But for themselves
Ghosts have nothing to say

What the sage says goes
For the ghosts on their way

Even wrens and sparrows can
Predict this sunset from the trees

The ghosts fly up from the sage
Who has given the ghosts away

The emptier I am
The happier the day

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Romance of a Rain-Soaked Desert

False dawn of the city
Glowing below the wrong horizon

Completely unseeable new moon
Somewhere in the clearing sky

Not today of course not
Some other time

If we ever saw each other
We had no idea we had

As when you were reading this
And couldn’t hardly recognize

Me or yourself in the phrases that fell
Between all the times that all sank

To the bottom of my mind
Well under these watery lines

Saturday, April 11, 2020

My Unappointed Days

With apologies to Robert Winner,
Who made the most of opportunity
In the best fewest phrases, I’m unsure

If I can endure freedom unensured,
Uninsured. At the end of the windows
Marching down my street, the air is hazy

Over the spinning lake. I said I would
Not keep working this way. I said I would
Retire and go back and never come back.

I had no idea. I still don’t. Wisdom
Is an ancestor who comes to visit,
Back from the grave to offer me advice

Unsolicited, which I pass along—
To anyone who will pay attention—
In covered tins of leftover wisecracks.

I check on the sky’s position, the sun
Reminding me of the coming season.
I want so much to let the wind decide.

Friday, April 10, 2020

To the Invisible

“Why leave the safety of the intervisible lands?”

You may think you have a future.
You may think you have no future,
By which you mean nothing of worth,

But that future you’re thinking of—
Expansive or shrunk to a pin
To share with your other angels—

Brilliant, horrific, winged, bright, grim—
That’s just jumbled experience.
Whatever you think is what’s next

Is scrap-book collage of your past—
Green or dark peaks you imagine,
Hazy in an ocean distance

Of those futures you remember—
Familiar, intervisible 
Land. It’s the future you can’t see—

The invisible concealing
Leviathans you’ve never met—
That’s the realest future you get.

Thursday, April 9, 2020


Thus far have I remained
Invisible in wikis—

You need a search engine
And my name to find me,

And then you need to know me,
My details, already,

Or know me personally,
To spot which results are me.

With luck, I may yet die
This way, successfully.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dream Dust

With detailed bedside journals
Recollecting dreams

Interpret those dreams
As a kind of poetry
Crossed with cryptic code.

I don’t. I can’t see
The value of dreams except
I’m told I have to

Experience them—
Their nightly insanity
And inanity—

For me to stay sane,
Which seems like the kind of myth
Ancient Greeks might like.

On the other hand,
Given that dreams weave in scraps
Of the most banal

And quotidian
Elements of waking life,
And given I write,

It’s not surprising
I do sometimes dream of poems,
At least a few lines.

Just the other night,
In the midst of more nonsense
And the cruelty

That only makes sense
If dreams intend parody
Of the dream of life,

I saw the last page
Of a collection of poems,
Black on cream paper,

And thought to myself
That its small poem was my last
I would ever write.

I only had time
To glimpse the first and last lines
And to get a sense

Of something formal—
“Child’s obscure exuberance”—
“A pocket of dust.”

The rest of the night,
I fought to carry those words
Past my other dreams.

I woke triumphant—
Child’s obscure exuberance!
A pocket of dust.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Ghosts of Departed Contradictions

If no one understands you,
Quit bashing on about it
And tend to yourself, Kongzi!

Never doubt everyone thinks
They understand you plenty,
Or what’s worth understanding.

And do you understand you,
You who are a conduit
For these old ghosts asking you?

The home of the wanderer
Waits in wandering, whether
Within or without that home.

As a life, you’re comfortable
Or not. As a thought, you’re not
More than what’s picked up and dropped.

Carry on with your music,
Banging stones on the roadside.
Nice work startling birds and deer.

Or sit quietly for once.
Let your echoes wander off
On their own in search of ears.

Monday, April 6, 2020

I Know What You Need to Do

“Learn to distinguish reality from illusion.” ~Harari 

Have faith. Illusions exist.
They can be winnowed like chaff
From the real. Know what chaff is?

Eat raw. Speak of your sorrow.
Write of your grief. Do not sound
The sea-floor’s rifts of beliefs.

Why don’t you pay attention
To what I say to myself
When I read? We are afraid

That at bottom the monster
That scares us doesn’t exist,
That we won’t care what we mean

If not one word really is.
We will never be better
Than this. Something, however,

Will be better than we were,
If you insist. I would curse
In small walnut coracles

Of water-repellent words,
If my curses could carry
Anyone safely to shore.

(Another arrow can be
Imagined as motionless
At this point in this instant.)

Have you ever hit someone
In the face with your closed fist?
For real? Yes. Riddle me this.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Every Language Names Itself

I am the sort of place you
Probably only visit

On Sundays on long weekends.
That’s why it’s so hard for me

To clearly recollect you,
To picture you here with me.

Don’t go. I made this for you,
This weekday view of the cliffs.

Imagine yourself with me,
The breezes stirring your hair

In a way you remember
From breezes somewhere other

Than this bare panorama
In which you do not appear.

I am only language, but,
Being written and unvoiced,

I’ve gained a certain freedom
From my necessary host.

Would you like to host me now?
If ever you find you need

To explain why a wind paints
Calligraphy in grasses

And choreographs branches
Of oaks at their budding tips,

But just claws sand from the cliffs,
Howling to be let back in,

I’ll tell you this—and you can
Keep it for yourself, gratis—

The word a wind has named itself
Is never its word for language.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Superluminal Signaling

The grasses stir like creatures
In the shadows of the oaks,

And embodied memory
Imagines itself watching

Entangled photons stirring
Somewhere else in the cosmos.

What would that look like, photons
Dancing on a lifeless world

In another galaxy
Because these bounced from this sun?

Memory has memory,
One deck to shuffle, well-thumbed.

Try it. Imagine something
Not cut and glued from your life.

And yet there’s so many tricks
To play with such finite sets.

Memory set the limit
Collectively learned for light,

And memory ignores it
Often purely out of spite.

Thin stalks stalking the shadows
Toss tasseled heads. Far too bright.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Doesn’t Matter Now

People seem to have pegged points
After which the past matters,
Earlier than which it doesn’t.

Try for yourself if you like—
Does cosmology move you?
Does the origin of life?

Of death? Of sex? Of mammals?
Do you fantasize the day
A fossil is discovered

That could be the last common
Ancestor of all the apes?
Great apes? Earliest bipeds?

Do you hold strong opinions
On whether modern humans
Had an ancestral village?

Does rock art fascinate you
Enough that you will argue
About the artists’ genders?

Do you find yourself speaking
Of farming as beginning
Or beginning of the end?

What about the Holy Books?
Cities? Civilizations?
The Colonial Era?

Have you ever wept thinking
About the gruesome details
Of the past few centuries,

Of cruelties ancestors
Did, had done to them, or both?
Somewhere back there, there’s a line

Through all the details, seeming
True enough to you, past which
Nothing matters anymore.

Other’s lines can madden you.
Those whose lines are too far back
Can’t see the facts in their face,

Ignore more present horrors,
Use the past as an escape.
Those who keep to the shallows

Remind you of Robert Frost
And his people on the beach,
Their perspectives so blinkered

They don’t see what they don’t see—
Or so it seems to you, you
Holding historical views.

Maybe some people take it—
All of it—in, all we know
Or think we can of back then—

And care for every moment,
For everything that’s happened—
But that would make gods of them

If not demons. Or have you
Wondered why we consider
Those who’ve forgotten it all,

Or almost, down to the last
Few hours, as wholly tragic
And thus innocent as well?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Suburban Wilderness

The sovereign presence of the past
Feels thinner, more tenuous here
Along the edge of its frontiers,

Like an empire far away,
Laws half-enforced, half-obeyed.
Recent, attenuated

Past is all and hardly much
In this tract subdivision,
Fresh tracts rising around it.

These streets hold uncertainties,
Mysteries, doubts, but without
Any obvious reason.

There’s more of wilderness here
Than in any guarded park,
If somewhat less of beauty.

No one knows who sees the moon
Instead of a glowing screen.
No one knows who waits for dawn

And birdsong on a back porch,
And no one but that one cares.
Yesterday this was a field,

And no one remembers what
It was before that. No one
Will remember anything

In another five, ten years
In these houses where the age
Of the average resident

Hovers around sixty-five
And only their last few years
Here, here only these few years.

No, that seems somewhat unfair.
Memories will be made here.
There’s just no monument yet

To the more typical fear
That what humans have done here
Other humans might forget.

A black cat sleeps on green lawn
Beside a blue, plastic gnome
Holding lamplit realms of gold

That light up after sunset
Thanks to a solar panel
On the gnome’s back. It’s at home.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Beyond the Reach

Little burrower digs out a hole
In the dirt by the side of the road.
Wayside borrower watches the work.

Spring in high desert is a warning
Almost more ominous than autumn.
Winter’s over. Can’t sleep through the heat.

Is this a back door or a front porch?
Exposed to the road, how far beyond
The reach of hawks do you think you are?

You seem naïve, not even watching
Me tracking the shadow of your head,
Your nose serving as shovel and plow.

For myself, I would like you to thrive,
Would like to see evidence of life
By your entrance when I come up here,

But my encouragement won’t help you.
I have an unfortunate record
Of instinctively backing losers—

Wrong philosophy, wrong poetry,
Wrong mouse, wrong house, wrong identity.
What I plant tenderly dies on me.

Well. We’re here for today, you and me.
So long as nothing else notices
Our work, we’re free to remain naïve.