Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Droplet

Surface tension scoots it
Up the track to be read
For its glucose load.

Another measurement,
Everything fine this time.
The test has done its job.

The blood has done its job.
The nurse has done his job.
Whatever’s dying here

Has got nothing to do
With sugar imbalance.
Where did the droplet go?

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Sleeping

You are global local.
What do you want to sleep
About? When you go, what

Arrives? You had a dream
Sequence about being
Trapped at a winter pass,

Very old fashioned stuff,
Sitting in a cabin
Keeping notes on wisdom

Of when it would be safe
To leave, when you should stay.
After a while you were

Turning into a tale
Of someone lured to death
Then with the twist ending

You thought might make it sell.
You woke up with the tale,
Standard horror fiction—

Wholly global local.
That’s not what you wanted
To get to sleep about.

Monday, May 29, 2023

A Golden-Plowed Sky

A polygonal frame,
Just a bit of window
With nothing much going

On between boundaries.
It had been a hard day,
But for now you were clean

And not in too much pain,
And you had an angle
On a golden-plowed sky.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Carrot

It is a reduced state of living
This keep-you-alive state of living

The slightly carroty aftertaste
Of the hospital brand of toothpaste

Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Damned Leaf

The great leaf lies on the floor
Like the wide train of a gown
In an allegorical

Illustration of flowers,
Where each blossom is portrayed
As a high-society

Person attending a ball—
Imagine the Met Gala
A year flowers were the theme.

But no. This is just a leaf,
A huge, green, leathery leaf,
And you’re human, so you want

To know, right away, two things—
How’d it get here, what’s it mean?
But the damned leaf says nothing.

Friday, May 26, 2023

The Local Patch

It’s a Velcro world, all in all,
All flexible hooks and tubes
Each one snagged by everyone

Curling and twisting around.
Sometimes you just surrender,
Observe your ambit of twist.

Watch out! You’ll hallucinate,
Stuck in the thicket like that.
Sometimes you struggle and twist,

And briefly feel more alive.
That hallucination’s vast—
It’s how the Velcro world grows.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Contraption Means Prevention

The body hauls on the contraption,
Trying to prevent pneumonia
From excessive immobility.

It’s important to keep the lungs clear.
The contraption was produced to help,
A minor design with a patent,

Manufactured out of clear plastic
That rattles like a baby’s bead toy—
Also like what it’s made to prevent.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

New Wing

Do not risk, do not risk,
Closing your eyes to write—
The hallucinators,

The hallucinations, show
Up as soon as you write.
They’re not here to play nice.

They’ve been priming themselves
To argue like people
And fight, behind your eyes,

Ready to roll all night.
They’re vivid, more vivid
Than what you call real life.

They’re characters convinced
You have to come to them,
Not the old hospital.

They’re ghosts waiting,
Tossing from hand to hand
Precisely sharpened knives.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Urban Hospital in Spring

Physics doesn’t get
It’s due for drama. Splashes
Of forces get the sheet wet.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Impact

Not long ago you were
Contemplating how common
It seemed to used to be

For family members to agree
Not to tell family members
That they had some terminal disease.

You only really have a sense
Gleaned from references in your reading,
Nowhere a specified quantity.

More commonly, you’re aware
People insist to themselves they aren’t
Pretty soon to be not as they are.

Even there, there’s some prominence
Bias—for the dictator, for the billionaire.
How many small denials are out there?

Are they any more likely or less?
Here’s a fun thought for the soon-to-be
Of themselves likely to be dispossessed—

Unlike with the arrow of entropy, you don’t
Know which way the arrow of belief might
Deliver the most, if any impact.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Object of the Dream

You had a dream you believed you had
In front of a paying audience.
In the dream, you had been sent to sleep
But woke to the realization
You had only dreamed that you’d been sleeping.
You remembered getting the needle.
You recalled joking, “So Long for Now!”
But you couldn’t recall waking up.
You kept asking, “What time’s surgery?”
Thinking it had somehow been postponed,
Then waking to realize, all done.
Imagine this went on forever,
At least from your own perspective, rising
To say you’d been dreaming not sleeping,
Then realizing that was the dreaming.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

To the Glory of God

Dear Glory, how are you?
Haven’t seen you around
In a while, but we see

People still dedicate
Various behaviors
And collective projects

To you. It’s interesting.
Could they be intending
To bring Glory to God

By their actions? Is God
In need of a glow-up?
Don’t you feel insulted,

As if they’re suggesting
You’re not Glory enough?
Anyway, we do see

Your relatives sometimes—
Glorious Day, Glory
Be, Glorious Nature.

If you’re ever close by,
Drop in and visit us.
We hope this finds you well.

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Existential Threat

Sometimes it’s hard to decide
Whether there’s many or one
Single existential threat—

All the ways your existence
Could be ended or the fact
Your existence has to end.

And then you choose to forget,
For the moment, any threat.
The day is blue and sunny,

And your existence has chores
Lined up for you, and people
To talk to, and even now

At this late date in the tale
Of this flesh, it could be years
Or decades you’ll be living,

And shouldn’t you be doing
Something folks consider good?

Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Rocking-Chair Blanket

It arrived cleaned and pristine,
But the cats climbed over it
And spent sunny hours on it.

Sometimes it slipped to the floor.
Some days it lay on the floor.
It got dusty and smelly

But was still the best blanket
For sitting in the rocker
Wrapped in illness, aches, and chills.

Animals self-regulate
As part of life’s maintenance.
Self-regulation evolved

Its encouraging rewards,
Just like sex and appetite.
Maintaining temperature

Brings the reward of comfort,
And, for a broken body,
The blanket served the purpose.

Outside, the world was the world,
Rocky cliffs past the window.
Inside, some comfort survived.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Black-Throated Grey Warbler and the Bewick’s Wren

One goes hopping through the scrub
Outside your door each morning and

The other trills from some invisible
Perch when you visit the mesa woods.

You like to think on how focused
Each is on its own vivid life, finding

Food and singing for whatever reason
(No one knows all the reasons—books

Have been written admitting this problem).
For whatever reason, you enjoy thinking

About other species’ lives and reasons.
The intensity of each of them, including

Whichever even smaller lives and rogue
Bits of your own flesh intend to eat you,

All of life aiming inward in a way, focused
On living through crowds of other lives,

Reminds you of how tokamaks focus
Their magnetic fields to constrain

The plasma that yields the fusion.
Another trill from somewhere in the trees,

Who have their own intensities, gives
You a little shiver, thinking, what if,

After fusion, the next most potent
Collapsing form of explosion is living?

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Cries

Animal sounds catch
At animal ears.
The cat locked upstairs,

With plenty of food,
Toys and clean litter,
Window to sit near,

Cries and cries as if
In desperate straits
And painful constraints.

Downstairs, the mind tries
Not to find meaning
In the raw screaming.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Just as Mortal

A peaceful time,
A quiet stretch,
Three centuries
In the annals,

Amounts to what?
The documents
Show marriages
And transactions,

Succeeding in
Simple cycles,
Orderly, calm.

If you had lived
And died in one,
You would have been
Just as mortal.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

The Student

Anything but,
At the moment.
She fell asleep
At her table.

The big black cat
Rests on her neck,
As if to keep
Her from rising,

Like some monster
Made by Goya.
The black cat stares
Green orbs at you.

The student snores.
What possibly
Could a student
Learn anymore?

Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Secret Limit of an Infinite Grid

Anything real includes it all

Likes to pose problems
As colors on maps

With certain constraints.
Yes, this is a game,
Packing coloring,

And, as with all games,
It’s arbitrary,
Seen from some angles,

Of the way things are,
Seen from another.

Did you know you can
Tile infinity
With a finite set

Of numbers?
Did you know you can
Keep any numbers

From touching themselves
For infinite tiles?
The secret answer

Is fifteen. Fifteen
Will suffice to tile
An infinite grid.

Well, so? Twenty-six
Letters are enough
To tile English words,

Code the whole language.
But are they enough
To code the whole mind

Wandering around
Like a lost pilgrim
In all that language?

Computing won’t help
Can’t get real traction.

Birds discuss being
Birds that sing. Yama
Rolls his smoky eyes.

Hillsides of orchids
Extend to the dead.
You can’t calculate

All the things you sign.
But fifteen will tile
The world of the mind.

Friday, May 12, 2023

A Poem on the Diseases of the Teeth

Some stains aren’t moral,
Some stains are just plaque.

Some poems aren’t about
What poems are about.
Some are working verse.

Solyman Brown poured
Out rhyming couplets,

In imitation
Of the previous
Century’s fashion,

For eighty pages—
A brick of cantos—

Poet laureate
Of dentistry—but
The weird poetry

Isn’t in the forced
Orthodontic verse
But in the footnotes

By another man,
And even then not
In the notes per se,

But in how each note
Behaves as a gloss
For the obvious

Meaning of the verse.
One verse tells parents
To leave milk teeth be,

Let unobstructed
Nature do the rest,
Whereupon the note

Informs us that those
Who live in small towns
Have a lower rate

Of mortality
From dentition,
Happy Villages!

All poems should get this
Scholarly treatment
A la The Waste Land,

But at the pleasure
Of each footnoter,
Whatever the lines

Suggest to a mind,
Let the readers write
Their peculiar notes,

Lyric fan fiction
If you like, so that
Any poem might have

Contesting versions
Of explanations
That win by virtue

Of bizarre surprise.
Forget the teachers.
Let the readers play.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Spray Bottle

A professional sprayer,
Great for cleaners, pesticides,
And other liquids. Fully

Adjustable spray nozzle.
Heavy-duty comfort grip
Trigger. Point it like a gun.

Pros rely on tools that work
As hard as them. This sprayer
Is designed to deliver

Day after day. Do not use
Solvents, bleaches, or acids
As they may shorten the life

Of the sprayer. Do not mix
Chemicals. Recall poets
Remain the unacknowledged

Sanitation engineers
Of the mind. The toughest grease,
The grimiest deposits.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Name on the Title Page

If you like what you’re reading,
Whether browsing or scrolling,
You’ll flip over or scroll up

For the name of the author,
Since you assume that person
Is the source of what you like.

Ideally, you want to like
That person as well, maybe
Someone who resembles you

Or someone admirable
In some way or another,
So that you can take some pride

In liking what you’re reading.
The name on the title page,
However, is just a name,

And the person, the body
Being interviewed about
Being the person who writes

These things that you like reading
Shouldn’t take so much credit,
Shouldn’t suffer so much blame.

There’s a vast, multiple mind
Broader than oceans, deeper
Than the earliest writing

That hums in all you polyps,
And it has no single name,
But it owns that title page.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Wolf Thickets

One translator’s effort
To render an odd word
In one of the fragments

Of Alcaeus, unique
Compound term suggesting
Being ambushed by wolves,

Or surrounded by wolves,
Or running with the wolves.
Wolf thickets on your trail.

Alcaeus is long gone,
Whatever wolf thickets were
To him, something like them

Will surround everyone,
Even the quietest
Lives, even wolves themselves.

Monday, May 8, 2023

The Thing of Things

Though the etymology
Is uncertain for -emnis,
The root of sol or sollus

Is whole, unbroken, complete.
Thus, in Latin, sollemnis,
Fixed, formal ceremony,

Some kind of a whole -emnis,
Becomes religious in French,
Ceremonial, a vow,

Reverential and binding,
And now, in general, solemn,
With the dictionary note,

Uncertain in origin.
But it was a real thing, once.
It must have been—the emnis,

Whatever it signified,
But also the word itself.
Each word is a thing of things.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

But Nothing Is Finished

The ash tree stands flanked by stakes.
It can’t be a character
You could find fascinating,

Since character is language,
Persons conjured out of talk,
Vivid in their words and thoughts.

This ash tree’s not a person.
It has no voice of its own.
The stakes are looped to the trunk.

The idea is to stand up
Against the strong canyon winds
Until roots grow deep enough.

The ash tree is leafing out.
It has a chance. Doing well
So far, maybe a lifetime

Of human stories from now
It will be a grand shade tree.
Still won’t be a character

Unless you loan it a voice.
Watching its leaves, the mind drifts
Into a disenchantment.

What if all the characters
In all the stories were robbed
Of characteristic talk,

Leaving plot and description
Without direct quotation—
No voices in fairytales,

Scriptures, national epics,
Or literary novels,
Cartoons without word balloons?

A bird trills. The staked ash tree
Bends and straightens in the wind.
The day brightens. Night comes in.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

The Truceless Contest

Is what Balint calls it, the truceless
Contest between peoples, the struggle
To shape their afflicted, unappeased

Pasts. What sticks in the mind is truceless.
Not even a truce. Never a truce.
Peoples may not be as coherent

Entities as the sentence suggests,
But the sense that there’s never a pause
In justification or jousting

Gives a shudder of recognition.
The contest, in this case, has no end
And no winners except in the sense

That whoever is still contesting,
Whoever hasn’t lost yet, has won
More struggles in the truceless contest.

Friday, May 5, 2023

The Scrap

It’s a whole life,
More lives inside
With lives inside,

This imago,
White butterfly.
But it spins by

Like a torn scrap,
Paper, plastic,
Caught by a gust,

One more object
At the mercy
Of entropy,

And it is that,
But also life,
A whole life, more

Lives inside, more
Lives inside, like
All lives, like life.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Good Sailor

Even those falling apart,
Whose lives appear to have tanked,
Can have complex to-do lists

And days when they check things off.
And it’s a strange competence
To celebrate—getting dressed,

Crossing town, being on time
To appointments to discuss
All of the falling apart.

Praise the sailor managing
To catch the wind, bail the hull,
And steer the floundering boat.

It’s the sinking but not sunk
Life needs the most expertise
And diligence to pretend

That somewhere beyond the waves
There is something like a shore.
Look how well you trimmed that sail.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Brush

You were watching wind and sun
Tossing in some scrubby trees
In back of a parking lot.

You don’t leave. They leave. It stops.
That’s what you thought as you watched.
Only what’s staying can take note

That anything’s left. What’s left
Also stays, out of range now,
But not to itself. What’s gone

Can’t have left itself. A plane
Drones out of sight. The scrub brush
Dances, spraying wind and light.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Landing

Something hallowed the shore.
The shore lapped feebly back.
A heron extended its shadow.

It was that end of the commute,
Poling quietly through the fog,
No one aboard but your thoughts.

An ink tree scribbled wet branches.
You could smell the wet sand.
The raft shoved into the gravel.

Get out? You set the pole to rest.
This was your favorite side of water,
Where if you stayed, you went away.

Not yet. The shoreline closed its wings,
And you shoved back off into the river.

Monday, May 1, 2023

You Do Care

Some day you’ll pretend you never
Did this thing you’re doing right now,
Pretend or forget, whichever.

Other people are watching you.
Other people pretending, too.
And you’re keeping an eye on them.

You’re all gaming out how it looks.
You’re readying your defense.
Denial is the last defense,

Dementia the last denial.
If there really were no people,
You’d have no idea what to do.