Thursday, December 31, 2020

Mirific Verdigris Night

Wondrous, hypoxic, metastable cyclery
Of everything incredibly vast in our sight,

Whose colors we pick out by cupping our lenses,
Whose colors our small lives imagine into life—

Orpiment, woad, and bassinet pinks—nurseries,
We call them, of stars—we who feed from one dollop

Of egg-yolk fire—tell us what to make of our world,
Our teal bead of cells and selves, juxtaposed with all.

Bellini’s St Francis in Ecstasy could not
Look more awestruck than telescope photographers

Developing digital tapestries of night.
Each swirling island universe curling its arms

Of gaseous streamers, lavender-cum-umber arcs
We paint in words, bright, floral analogies,

Names for things we know—turtle, eagle, antennae,
Sunflower, rose. We don’t know. That’s why we look,

Why we name, why we paint, above all why we count.
Oh, come on, you have to marvel at the common

Ways our delirious photographers count light!
Nearby, about thirty million light years away,

About the size of our own galaxy, star streams
Extending one-hundred-eighty thousand light years . . .

Nearby! Now let’s project the next few billion years.
So that’s one miraculous thing night has taught us.

Scroll up from the moon through Cassini’s blurred snapshot,
Taken through the rings of Saturn, of two white dots,

And remind yourself in passing that those two dots
Reflect sunlight from the two rocks we’ve set foot on,

Out through the spray of stars on our galaxy’s arm
To the nearest dwarf galaxy ours is eating,

Out to the sprawling nurseries of dust and gas,
Out through the Hercules Cluster of Galaxies,

And then sailing through the Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field
View in which (you can be forgiven for being

Confused) the many splotches of billions of stars
Swim past like plankton surrounding a submarine.

What are we seeing? Where are we going with this
Deep-dyed vision of everything, too much at once?

Let us return to surfaces. Here we can ask
Questions fun to answer. Who is bad? Who loves God?

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Canoes or Coffins

Oh, leave it alone, we all
Leave it alone. We paddle
Through crowds of other canoes,

Like Jason, until they’re all
Coffins. There’s no one in them
But us in a last canoe,

Us, ghost of all the coffins.
It’s a crowd and we’re in it
Alone. Go. Leave it alone.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A Greater Mass of Shadow Rays

Zum Wandel wird hier der Raum.
Immer. Immersion in change.
Yet the shelf-life for frozen

Embryos is infinite.
Identity. The mind’s cage.
That restless monster pacing,

Always ready to get out.
Numbers are most valuable
For separating the rounds

Of the cage, which seem the same,
Which are never the same. Count.
An opaque body smaller

Than the source of the light casts
Derivative shadows tinged,
Hue on hue, less and less light,

By original shadows.
The mind pounces at the bars
And passing shadows of birds.

Monday, December 28, 2020

What’s Not in a Name?

John Abercrombie wasn’t wrong
But he was still too generous—
The truth isn’t we understand
Nothing. No, we don’t understand

Nothing, either—may understand
Nothing least of all of our names,
Least of all our conceptual
Ghosts. The name alone is something,

And most of our mathematics
Wasn’t unlocked until the key
Was found to be the empty door.
Our worlds rotate around that hole

In what is, in what we can know.
Our stars grow brighter on approach.
Thoughts spin brilliantly distorted.
Then nothing comes back as we go.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Delocalized Waves

So many small changes are happening
Everywhere and all at once, including

All our efforts to chase down and count them
In hopes of predicting where they’ll be next.

They add up as we add them; they add up
Faster than we add them, as we are them.

A boater, bobbing on the waves, knows not
To try to count every last one of them.

Summing constrains equivalence, while waves
Surge, sink, and surge but can’t be fixed, unless

We pretend. And oh how we can pretend.
We were born for pretense and we get bored

Merely paying attention. One dead leaf
Shifts a handspan in a wave of the wind.

The rain falls, then dries, Radnóti noticed.
Consider the tiny agitations

Of the world. Waves can be combined in ways
That localized particles never can.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

One of the Dead Then

Here I am, inch high,
Great-bearded Neptune . . .
Bottom of my tank,

Bubbling in a poem,
Surprised to be here.
Choosing gods to be

Can be fun, although
Choosing a monster
Or freak more suits me.

But what god could be
More absurd than this,
Poseidon at scale

Sized right for goldfish
Dumped from plastic bags
Into a cramped bowl?

It fits. I fit. No
Living god would
Stand for this, but look,

Who loved Poseidon,
Destroyer of ships—
Or Leviathan,

Or Illuyanka,
Kraken, Moby Dick?
I’m fine with burbling

As an ornament
In your tap water,
Molded in plastic.

I come from χάος.
I know what scares you.
I own the Five Deeps.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Early Submission

The body has no use for hope,
Writes Rohan Chhetri, and he’s right.
If not winter in New Delhi,
It’s Christmas in southern Utah.

But how’d hope get embodied, then,
If no one body conjured it?
Hope’s a ghost that rose up between
Bodies through thought’s collective steam.

It’s out there, in our winter air—
If not yet in our infancy,
It will be, with all the other
Gifts of great worth and misery.

The body has no use for it.
The body evolved to persist.
Awareness is aware of this.
Hope is a norm, a requirement.

Hope is such difficult homework,
A tough assignment, due the end
Of the year, a debt, a promise
Yet to be fulfilled. Put it off

And only suffer more for it.
The trick is to start writing it
Early, ahead of the deadline,
Way ahead, before you can know

What your life will be like that day
It’s due. Write it all out and rest.
You’ll have some time just to be flesh;
Store your winter hope this Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2020


Theodicy haunts geometry
As much as any faith in the pure
Perfection that authors suffering,

Any conviction this world’s ideal
Or at least immune to loss, when loss
Is all it brings and uses to bring

More exquisitely patterned goodness
To us, to geometers through proofs,
And through verbiage to apologists.

They say when the world turns upside down
That only proves perfect symmetry,
That when earth turns sky and space turns time,

Nothing is lost in transformation.
That’s the beauty of information.
Nothing much. Hang on to suspicion.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Lookout

At the lake they parked their SUVs
And got out to take pictures and chat,
A pair of couples, old friends, I’d guess.

They chatted. “Is it man-made?” One asked,
As they pulled out small dogs on leashes
And walked in circles to stretch their legs,

And continued to chat, discussing
The state of the trailhead’s pit toilets,
In which each took a turn, dog on leash

Handed over for safekeeping or,
Why not, brought on in for company.
They chatted back to their vehicles,

Loaded up the small dogs and got in.
They drove off. I heard one of them cough,
But none of them wandered close to me,

Much less breathed in my face, and the dogs
Kept calmly leashed. Unnoticed, that’s best.
So, no harm done, and I’m safe, I’d guess.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Fugitives of the Fall

The Ninth of October

All these thousands of days that I’ve lived, a prisoner in this space, knowing space never exists . . .

Just a couple of years before winning the Nobel Prize in literature, Glück wrote in a poem that “everything returns, but what returns is not what went away.” I’m still waiting to see if she returns that prize. It’s not what it once was, you know.

Look out the window at a cat in the shade. When I think of all the animals that have gone into making that cat, the warm birds and rodents, the cool fish from cans, the processed bits and ends, the odd insect plucked from the dust just to crunch--chomp--and then of all the living things that first went into them and into them and into them, it makes me want to request that my corpse be sealed in solid, airless lucite just so that these poor molecules can never escape, never have to return as something else hungry again.


Where did Chaunis Tematoan come from? A reference in one source leads to its own source and then to a dead end. Could it have been the personal invention of the man who invoked the name to encourage the greed of English colonists around the time of Roanoke and Jamestown? You really should try to find those wonderful mines of Chaunis Tematoan! (CROATOAN) Lures and lurid fantasies of mines and cities of gold and open passages to the South Seas and endless virgin wildernesses were all the rage in those pirate days. . . .

But I would like to imagine for myself this Chaunis Tematoan.

I’m too far inland. What did Li He mean when he wrote that the bearded barbarians of the North shot arrows “arrogant as rainbows”? Is that even a fair translation? It’s not a simile or association I’ve seen in any other poem, East or West. Maybe he just meant that the perfect arc of their accurate arrows, following gravity’s rainbow, seemed overconfident, no fault of real rainbows? But a thousand years almost before gravity could be blamed?

This poem has defeated all commentators, for it is either incomplete or else full of mistakes.” Consider both possible. Young Li He was one arrogant rainbow.

Promises, promises. Immortality. Pots of gold. Maybe rainbows grew arrogant once they knew how easy we are to fool. Always hiding their actual ends from our greedy guts. How we love to imagine rich resources for the taking anywhere we can’t ever reach. Pure wilderness. Chaunis Tematoan could itself have meant arrogant rainbow. You never know.


Again. Dawn. The persiflage of small birds in drought, sensing something coming from a few unusually plethoric clouds—or maybe just determined to whistle each other under, once again, and win the sun. Will it, ever, really, rain? Oh, one day it will. We’ll all see it coming, just like these birds, and we’ll all discuss it, just like these birds, and then it will be here at last—“the dark what?”

It’s both that the future never exists and that the future’s nonexistence causes the past, which is constantly changing. (Have you checked lately? Looks different now, doesn’t it?) We’re trapped in that. The dark what.

The dark what. The words overtake, or retake, each phrase in the end, and reimpose their own most current meanings, thus kicking the can down the road. The dark doodle, that’s what, the “bag filled with fresh fruit, a bar of soap, and a few tins.”

Dillon composed an essay on Mantel’s plethoric persiflage. Then he composed an essay on Carson’s ironic dark what. You browsed the essays and scritched a few marginal notes, thus kicking the can down the road. Now what? You looked up the phrase and found an anonymous essay on its own history as a game. The object of the game was not, as you had thought, to keep the can going in front of you while you kicked it, walking along behind it, and then kicked it again when you caught up. You’ve seen and done many instances of that game, someone scuffing something, trying to keep it front of them, walking forward at odd angles to catch up and give it another cuff.

No. The essay claimed that the game was more social, closer to hide-and-seek. One child had to be “It” while the others scattered and hid. “It” kicked the can along, while the hiders called from their blinds. If “It” managed to flush a kid and kick the can at that kid, then that kid was “It.” But if the hidden kid rushed out and kicked the can away, down the road as it were, then all the kids were freed and “It” had to play the kicker all over again. So, a desperately poor footballer’s hide-and-seek, it seems.

The essay then dragged out the particulars of how this became a political expression in the 1980s and ‘90s, among powerful old men in America, long after the game that dated back to their Depression-era childhoods had gone away and mostly fled the public consciousness. Conclusion: now the phrase means to delay, the continuous deferral of a tough decision, usually legislative, stalling, putting things off but with a pretense of making progress, just kicking the can down the road for another day. No one, the anonymous essayist wrote, really knows why it evolved quite that way.

And you thought, hey, I know why. Whenever the earlier use of a phrase is forgotten, people just parse the constituent words in ways that seem to, sort of, make sense to them. If the words make enough of such shadowy sense and the phrase still has a ring, the parts take over the sense for the whole and, often as not, a false etymology, no, a few, for the phrase itself get offered, back-constructed from its words. Dead as a door nail. The whole nine yards. Kicking the can down the road. Thus the words, still caged, reshape the confines of that cage.

And so you did. But don’t you wish you could have played the phrase here more like the improvised poverty game, could have set everyone free by rushing out to give it a good kick, leaving a dark author still “It”?


A woman as much older than I am as I am than the median is sitting in the shade of a giant pine by herself, except for a yappy lapdog, both staring out at far aspens like something large and dark might be about to burst out of them. “I had to get out of the city,” she says, startlingly loudly, by way of explanation, unasked. “I needed to see the colors, get some nature.” She articulates the word nature like she’s biting down on a chicken wing, with a wide, brayed Nay followed by the chomp of a softer, crunchier -tcher between her bright white incisors. Get some NAAY-tcher. Chomp. And then the dog barks wildly. Ah, wilderness, thinks an unseen, unknown poet hobbling past her, headed for a better view, one could only hope quieter.

There will be plenty of wilderness again, eventually, once our descendants are gone. It might not be what we’d recognize, but do you think the dinosaurs would have recognized a mammal’s Eden?

Wilderness is hard to survive on your own. Wilderness has no love for you. Wilderness is no audience, so why do we keep yapping at it? What was wrong with the times, so wrong, that the desert fathers would torture themselves to cry to the emptiness alone and half-starving for years in hopes of not just a vision, a djinn, an angel, or any old god, but The God, personal communion with only their One God Almighty? Something must have been bent. Visions and tempting demons, mostly, were what those hermits got sent.

Not everyone flees from an empire’s fall. For some, always for some, these end up being the good times, the very best times of all. Did the bearded northern barbarians yearn to return the lost glory and might of the Tang? Did the early Christians cry over the noseless marbles of the demon gods they’d smashed, the Goths weep to see Rome burn? 
Now it's winter.


Monday, December 21, 2020

End of a Bad Year for the People

Road’s getting too busy,
Sun’s getting too low—time
To go now, kiddo, time

To go. Every word is
A Christian, every phrase
A Cyrano. Or so

It seems to the phrases.
The words keep their secrets
And know. Sun’s getting low.

Sunday, December 20, 2020


It has seemed rather longer
Than calendars would permit,

This year of symmetrical
Numbers, mirroring horrors,

This Annus Mirabilis
In the similar parade.

Infants and children too young
To personally recall

This year will grow tired of tales
About this year, one of those

You know will be a tent-pole
For personal histories

Even before fixed in place.
It’s just one of those weird years

That cleaves before and after
More memorably than most.

So what? It will end. All years
Season into other years,

With or without calendars.
Spinning could end; the cycling

Could come to an abrupt halt—
Even astronomically

Rare astronomical ends
Happen again and again—

But it’s pretty safe to bet
This one turn, after billions,

Won’t see the planet go splat,
And let’s get out on a limb

And bet, as long as Earth spins,
Some kind of life will begin

And end and begin again.
So this year isn’t the end

And the next year won’t begin
Anything not already

Here on its way to its end.
God, this has gone on too long.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Good Afternoon

Why shouldn’t it be enough
That this brought joy to one life,

Dancing conga lines of words,
Patterned thoughts and chunks of rhymes,

Silliness, gloominess, doubt,
Dark, excessive certainties,

Declarations of all kinds?
Close to a sunny window,

Close to the start of winter,
A body could spend an hour

Or as much time as it took
To change the angle of light

From squint to glow on the wall
And down to pool on the floor,

Chanting these compositions
To itself and no one else.

You know it’s going away,
All of it—the light, this day,

The coming season, the poems,
The life, the walls, the era,

Civilization, and you.
So no one heard the poet,

Knew of the poet, or cared
To know. Sun and the words glowed.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Pine Sonata

Two paradises ‘twere in one
To live in paradise alone

The best fantasies
Are the, I’ll take more
Of this kind of thing.
Happy where you are,
You know you can’t stay,

Nothing stays for good,
But you want to stay
At least. I could live
Here, you think, smiling,
Right here forever,

And you imagine
Your shack or cabin
Between these tree trunks,
Light-facing windows,

Vague accoutrements
Of joy stashed inside,
And most of all, years,
Rotating seasons
Alone to enjoy.

You can’t have it. You
Won’t get it. You know.
But it’s not like dreams
Of escape. You’re here—
Wind sounds, creek noise. Home.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Little Kindness

Would be nice. Humans
Do a lot of harm
To others and each
Other, but that’s not
Our hard part, that’s not

The worst part. It’s worse
That indifference
Creates destruction
All unintentioned,
And worst that kind acts

Can backfire. Backfire.
Know where that comes from?
You loaded and aimed
And your charge blew up
In your hands and eyes.

It’s not adequate.
We need an image
More apt. Our kindness
Is more like the need
For water. Deserts

May wait years for rain
Then lose lives to floods.
That even goodness
Necessitates some
Real harm, that’s the worst.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

For I Lov’d the Man

Of all the mountains of Shakespearean
Criticism upthrust in libraries,
The outcrop that is most fascinating,

Distinctively human in appearance,
Almost as if it could breathe, is Jonson’s,
Who wrote, I lov’d the man and doe honour

His memory. His memory! Who else
Could cast a cold eye on Shakespeare’s Caesar
While fondly recalling his friend, the man

Who composed that Caesar and assassins?
For now forget the disappointment when
Realizing no facts are forthcoming

About that man, past Jonson’s opinion
That he was “honest” and “gentle.” Forget
The missed opportunity for Jonson—

An anecdote, a detail, anything
Intimate about the life of his friend.
Just come back to that, For I lov’d the man,

And shiver and consider what one phrase
Like that from a first century rabbi
Or a mono-rhyming Arab poet

Who lived in the days before the first Hajj
Might do for some of our other idols,
Whose names we pray or blaspheme. Not Shakespeare.

Jonson knew the man, loved him, chided him,
And stayed on this side of Idolatry.
Love for a man spared us another god.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Good Kid Books at Bedtime

Their chatter was rapid and sapid,
Daft and inspired, dodging insipid—

They brought pleasure to a tired parent
Who got to say goodnight to nothing

And nobody, to unknot the tongue
On blunt rhymes and ridiculous puns.

I miss them now, those weird, dreamy texts
I read in those years of sleep-wrecked nights.

If they were hallucinatory,
Well that was excused as what kids like,

But I didn’t care much as a kid.
As a parent I learned parents did.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Efficacy

Once, I read, Whatever doctrine
You believe, there’s no denying
Death at least looks very final.

Indeed. Say irreversible.
But everything’s final like that,
Every passing moment, nothing

Ever coming back, while nothing
Is final in the other sense,
Meaning done, all doing finished.

A corpse has transformations yet
To manage, some of them bringing
Some of it back through racks of life.

We feel the loss. We feel the loss
Of everything, the permanent
Impermanence of existence,

But we can’t say, can’t understand
Precisely what it is that’s lost.
Physicists track it to black holes,

But calculate, even from those,
Information may be returned,
And no one has captured a soul,

Taken the measure of a soul,
Found the gaps in life’s fabric
Left by death, much less missing soul.

So, why is it death looks final?
What is it we feel that we’ve lost,
The more so callous life goes on?

One theory holds that life’s the most
Efficient way to entropy.
Loss is efficacy, I guess.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Pyramids Pillars of Snow

Whatever hath no beginning
May be confident of no end—
Eternity we disagree
Exists, but on mortality,

Better yet, change, we’re of one mind.
The upshot is that what you find
To be confined to one side, death,
I find to be the immortal

Itself, the longest perspective,
That the short and the long are one,
Nothing varying but the rate
Of variation, forever.

But I’m tired of thinking this through,
Much as it troubles me and much
As I admire you. It won’t do
To keep repeating all changes

And that therefore all disappears,
Except for the disappearing,
Which has no beginning, no end,
And is the immortality

Of eternal mortality.
Here we are. Your language you knew
Would not last forever but would
Outlast you, now my language, too.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

One Animal

How many are there living
At any given moment,
How many any moment

Die? You’d think the broad view
Means it’s hard to care for one,
But I do. Two. Me and you.

Me, I don’t worry about
So much anymore, one foot
Out the door. I’m an old fool

Who’s tried to get out before.
But the one animal, you,
I consider all the time

And can’t imagine losing,
Won’t imagine it, refuse.
We’re all animals, it’s true,

And we’ll do what creatures do,
Even with fancy language,
Tales, myths, math, and rocket ships.

But I can’t be broad-minded
In this case. One animal
Needs to thrive and outlive me,

No matter what the others
Get up to. Be a good beast
For me, please. Survive. Thrive. Do.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Red Sentinel

Abandoned in the desert on the side
Of the Extraterrestrial Highway,

Glass intact but with its engine exposed,
Hoodless, to the stars, a red pickup truck

Is watching us. A fighter jet roars low
As a hawk hunting rodents, but the truck

Remains unfazed. A jackrabbit hops out.
Free-range beef cattle graze alongside it,

Nosing for better grass by the culvert.
Occasional passing vehicles slow,

In case the sentinel is a sheriff,
Then accelerate when they see it’s not.

The truck is unfazed. Its emptiness keeps
Watch. Moonlight silvers it. Strong winds shake it,

But, for some unknown reason, no one comes
For parts or tows it away. No one dares

Tag it with graffiti, the way the signs
And the road’s ghost buildings have all been tagged.

No one has bothered to shoot holes in it.
No one has asked anything about it.

This truck is a thing that watches and waits.
You’re not patient enough to see it change.

Thursday, December 10, 2020


Six faces and eight vertices.
Go ahead, check. Count them. We’ll wait.

Check the gravel, mica, crystals.
Check clouds of atoms swirled like stars.

Aim after even lighter stuff—
Axions, low-energy waves

Reclining at galactic lengths.
Geometers predict the shapes

Will clump and break about the same—
Six faces and eight vertices,

Give or take. Every cube’s a wave,
And every wave, including light,

Conceals a darkly cubic heart.
Isaiah did glimpse seraphim,

Time’s burning, six-enfolded snakes
With wings and voices, eyes inside,

Black holes circling through the cosmos,
Crying, holy, holy, holy,

Is our darkness, fragmentation,
Our coal of life that touched your tongue.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Holes in the Dark

Oh, another uncomfortable truth—
War brings creation as destruction.

Shiva, Shiva, is that really you?
War’s just your local accelerant,

Some catalysts, sprays of gasoline,
Added to the ongoing process

Of change, which, while always uneven,
Remains everywhere continuous.

Those horsemen of the apocalypse,
Like each of us, all have their doubles—

A quartet for the society’s world,
Mass plagues, famines, wars, and pestilence,

Redoubled in each small person’s world
Of injuries, debts, acquaintances—

While the greater, real, inhuman world
Burns holes in the dark fires don’t trouble.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Second Act

What if we are
In the exact
Middle of change,
Including time?

Just imagine
Four billion years
More for our Earth,
This cycling moon—

Quarter million
Or so of those
For our offspring
Before they turn

Too unlike us
To be human.
The end’s not close.
The plot thickens.

Monday, December 7, 2020

A Watcher As Much a Wielder of Words

No, not allusive, not collaged,
This chrestomathic poetry
Thieves for mere edification,

Attempts a kind of alchemy,
A lab box for boffins, witches,
And language’s inquisitors,

Neither science nor ritual,
Wicked, gleeful exploration,
Child with a magnifying glass,

Crone with her simples, Mo Willems
Madly doodling pigs and pigeons.
Let the body whirl in the world

However best that body can,
Fling all the paints against the wall,
See what lives, watch what runs. Mix them.

Sunday, December 6, 2020


I suppose you know by now the real
Treasure’s buried somewhere far from here—

This is just my false cache, blind entrance,
Empty chamber of signs and symbols,

No sarcophagus. Have you ever
Asked yourself why we would hide so much

For the sake of immortality
When the only slice of afterlife

Any of us ever manages
Comes of having our small corpses found,

Our hoards dug up, our tombs reopened?
O, I say ours, as if I belonged

To the class of humans who get tombs.
No, my cache is more like a jay’s stash

Of pine protein lost when the jay dies
Or gets too distracted or is stuffed

And makes it through a mild winter fat,
With no need to remember extra

Supplies of old memories hidden
In featureless duff and underbrush.

I am in a secret partnership,
Secret almost to myself. I hide

What I really want to keep in ways
That guarantee I’ll lose most of it,

And none of my kind ever find it.
Why do I do this? Ask my partner,

The pine whose reproduction depends
On fools who survive by caching seeds.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Just Before Dark

The edge of shade at sunset throws
A negative corona—threads
Dance along advancing grey

On a wall, ghosts of solar storms.
You have stand close to the wall
To catch those mycelial threads

Extending filamentous limbs
As their own shadow chases them.
Sunset generally blends all shades.

The fine details are boring, small,
And take patience to scrutinize.
So what else is new, right? Dark moves.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Thin Shroud of Blue

Among the innumerable strange
Twists of our proximate fit
To what we suspect is reality,

Have you noticed that a pure blue
Afternoon sky by seeming depthless
And uniform also seems endless,

While a night sky with a few lamb clouds
And a slice of moon feels comforting,
Even companionable, even close to you?

How do you do that? The night’s huge,
And the blue sky’s a scrim that obscures it
With a gossamer veil jets poke through.

It’s reversed when an orange, urban moon,
Emerging from a skyline, itself looks huge
Because we exaggerate the vertical

On any horizon. (Take a picture
Of a steep mountain. Little bump
Against big sky. The picture knows

It’s true.) Do such banal observations
Seem trite, seem insignificant to you?
You’re doing it again, then, aren’t you?

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Nothing Doing Niksen

My body was never a target—
No one watched it like a hawk—no one
Wanted to possess it so badly

They overlooked the person in it
Who was and wasn’t, really, quite it—
And yet someone was always cutting,

Helpfully, into it or leaping
Ahead of it to open a door,
Often as not too close to my face.

It wasn’t at all fashionable
To write about our bodies back then.
Others’ bodies were what you wrote on.

For your self, you expressed your feelings.
Now, it’s bodies writing on bodies,
Reimagining and reclaiming

Bodies, mostly their own or like theirs,
Everywhere. I consider this corpse,
Still breathing, still painful, still broken

And valiantly incompletely healed.
Location, location, location.
I don’t want nothing to do with it,

I can’t not be in it and be it,
But I do want to do nothing much
Past sit with it while the days go by,

And write about the world that’s not it,
The sun on blank walls, the blank moon hours.
Forgive me if I don’t write on it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


You will forget that you read this sentence.
You will forget that sense of control.

You will forget the first time we held hands.
You will forget you believed in your soul.

You will forget your joy in remembering.
You will forget your favorite show.

You will forget all poems of affection.
You will forget what you need to know.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Humbaba Scoffs

Even the most rigorous inquiry
Into causation is purely advanced

Superstition. You link things more or less
Similar more or less reliably.

The more precisely you tighten the link,
The more likely you are a scientist,

But you’re still a pigeon pecking a lever
Because pecking that lever gave you grain

Just enough times to trigger your belief.
Skeptical pigeons have higher thresholds.

Your seers used to see my face in entrails,
My wild and bearded, leonine face,

And claimed it was a good omen for kings.
Next thing you know, the kings ordered sculptors

To carve grotesque likenesses of my face,
As if made of entrails, on palace walls.

I was insulted, but that’s how it goes
With superstitious species. You predict

Cause and effect and cause is one effect.
I’m still here, by the way, in the mountains,

Among the ghosts of cedars and those kings
Sent to kill me. And you still trust your guts.