Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Magic Netting

The calendar constricts and cinches
Its rhythms around the sequences
That inspired the name-weaving species

To invent magical nets of tales,
Fables, gossipy mythologies,
And twiggy prosthetic devices

Wherever they went around the world
To constrain the patterns here called years.
Oh, wouldn’t you like to see it end

In accordance with chimes and slow dawns,
In accordance with anything named,
So you could claim it begins again

Here, at this instant, somewhere near here,
A clean break with the past that tore you,
Swelling its nets, unending itself?

The thing about magical netting
Is that it dissolves every evening.

Saturday, December 30, 2023


Five dozen poems and three
Or four of the latest
Finds in behavioral

Ecology later
(Eurasian jays jump in
For the lesser reward

If others are present;
New Caledonian
Crows hold out regardless),

And you’re still eyeing them,
The phrases that trigger,
The shiny temptations

That require self-control
To handle patiently
When no one is watching.

How can intelligence,
Bodied, disembodied,
Bear it, the near endless

Sifting of crushed details
For flashing fellowship?
The highest-quality

Delayed satisfaction
Would be shared-attention
Sharing, not the proffer.

Friday, December 29, 2023


This will be out of date
By the time you read it,

2023 game,
Ice-breaker for techies—

What probability
For apocalypse

Do you give AI now?
Someone asks; someone pulls

A number from their ass,
Say, 45 percent.

Then both discuss and laugh.
At a local thrift shop

In southwestern Utah,
An elderly woman

With a fluffed, thinning perm,
Took out her phone to show

A picture of herself
Standing with Geoff Hinton

And said what a nice man
He was, how he listened.

Thursday, December 28, 2023


The body under assault
Is not the same as the self
Under assault, exactly,

But the self feels caught in it,
Is caught in it, and fears it.
It’s like being in a field

In the middle of a storm
And fearing a tornado.
The self could appreciate

The drama, and awareness
Could thrill to observing it,
From a safer position,

But when the storm grows this fierce,
Bravery’s quickly dispersed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

It’s Not You—It’s the System

The system is staggering.
The system is enormous.
To the night, it’s minuscule.

Parts of the system pour in.
Parts are always exiting.
The system divides the world.

Homeostatic, growing,
And heading for full collapse,
The system is wavering.

Be frightened of the system,
The location of all pain
And pleasure, and addiction.

The system is your monster,
And you are the system’s ghost.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023


Coincidence as meaning
May not serve prediction well.
No one invoking Carl Jung

And synchronicity will
Get far predicting patterns,
Much less going to the moon,

But, as far as meaning goes,
It’s not really dependent
On precise information,

Confident correlation.
Your attention creates it,
Can bring it to anything,

A hummingbird memory,
An orbital resonance,
Omens, sheer coincidence,

The way someone looked at you,
The scuff on the bathroom wall,
The staggering scale of dust

Obscuring the galaxy.
If these words meant anything
To you, you paid attention.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Just Don’t Call Them Happy, Anymore

Apocalypse or not,
Some day these holidays
Won’t be celebrated

By anyone. Either
Others will supplant them,

Pivots will suppress them,
Or there’ll be no one left—
Or maybe the machines

Won’t feel the need of them
Any longer. Something
Will bring them to an end,

But for now they transform
As continually
As always, becoming

New versions of themselves,
Almost, to the holy

Days they were—almost, but
Not quite. Merry Christmas,
And to all a good night.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Glancing out the Window

Never underestimate
The cosmic capacity
To find creation in loss—

Never overestimate
Its genius for creation
Without further destruction.

It still seems weird that this
Is the world as it is,
Much less what has to be,

That there are burning lights
At night and a massive,
Blinding sun half our lives,

That life requires hunger,
That parasitism
Is its most common form,

That there is this soulful,
Harmful outbreak species
Of sweet, vicious bipeds

Created out of loss,
Destroying to create,
Asking why it’s this way.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

You Go Savor It Yourself

One of the silliest, unnecessary scolds
People plant in one another’s skulls
Is the remonstration that one must savor

Every moment of one’s existence, starting
With this one. A book could be crammed,
Like the manic typescript in The Shining

And only somewhat more diversely, with
A thousand slight variations demanding,
Seize each moment of this day right now.

Why? Well, you’ll regret not doing it once
You’re dying, or maybe after you’re dead.
You’ll be less happy in this moment, also.

Oh shut it. Rumination’s got a bad name,
But let a mind drift a little, let a soul drift.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Just Part of the Package

No entity can evolve
To fit all environments,
Adapt well to everything.

Costs are inevitable,
And what fits you to one niche
Makes you that less suitable

For another. Still, humans
Have given it quite a go,
Infiltrating the planet

From pole to pole and playing
At adapting to orbit,
And maybe after that, Mars,

All without improving much
On the basic body plan,
The obligately social

And frequently quarrelsome,
Vengeance-prone apes that began
The whole acceleration,

So some costs must have been paid.
Consider how much culture
Has diversified while brains

Carrying and transmitting
Cultures have remained the same,
Negligibly different,

One from any other one,
Sampled from across cultures.
Humans aren’t generalists.

Humans have evolved to be
Hyper-fitted specialists
Of a single niche, cultures

Of changing technologies,
Without which, everyone dies.
Culture’s the new animal,

Earth’s latest innovation.
Humans, old friends and old foes,
Are now mitochondrial.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

You May Change With Reading This

It’s not just you,
Your decisions
You thought you caused
That you didn’t.

Any sequence,
If X then Y,
However tight,
However sure,

Doesn’t mean you
With your X caused
Y, doesn’t mean
Any X caused

Any Y, just
Promises X
Is sure to be
Followed by Y.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Three Steps to the Event Horizon

The spindly bare oaks
Peered through the window,
Scratching like voices
Or like cats pawing
For the other side.

This never happened.
This happened as if
Your life depended
On it, as if oaks
Depended on it.

Take one step away
From what concerns you
About what people
Do to those like you
Who are people, too—

One step to the oaks—
And see how quickly
It all becomes strange.
Those alien oaks
Weren’t peering at you,

Weren’t pawing the glass,
Weren’t trying to get
Through to anyone
Anything like you.
Two steps, and the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023


When is it just
Too tiring, gold
Trim on dark arts?

A body is
A bargaining
Chip—blue and bruised,

It’s of less use.
Silver and gray,
It’s of less use.

Broken and scarred,
Not even young

And glorious
As bare, bronze dawn,
Is it enough

To pull night through
And through the day
So neither fades.

Monday, December 18, 2023

You Need Another Poem

Like you need a hole in the head,
And honestly, that’s what you want,

Not in the self-inflicted sense,
Not the bullet-hole, bolt-gun sense,

Not in the sense of emptiness,
But in the sense of opening.

You need an inner opening
Within your too-familiar thoughts,

Not a wormhole, not a black hole,
Not another problem to solve,

Not a combination safe’s stashed
Clues to unlock your escape room

So you can get back to normal,
Whatever normal means to you—

A portal. You need a portal
Not too difficult to ease through

To a world that frankly isn’t
One you know how to inhabit,

One where the words work differently,
Like dragonfly robot angels

Communicating in mid air
About morals only they share,

Values you find unsettle you
In the weird clicking of their wings.

You need another poem that needs
A poem like a hole in the head.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Hidden, Winged, and Singing

The only real way to go missing
Is to leave behind a substitute.
That’s why that common scene in movies
Of a mannequin left in a bed.
Escape! And that’s why the plot device,
Old as a wonder tale, where the prince
Or the dictator finds a proxy,
A lookalike to hold attention
While the original slips off, free.

It usually fails or goes sideways,
Which then becomes most of the story,
But the thrill of the trick is haunting,
To step aside and none the wiser,
Since apparently one never left.
No one really knows what to do then.
A new life is still a life. It burns
Through the body like any other.
But imagos lust to leave a husk.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

The Distribution of Internal Forces in a Deformable Body Are Not Necessarily Equal Throughout

You’ve never synchronized well
With your times. Sometimes changes
In the wider human world

Have seemed momentous, while
Your life’s hardly changed at all.
Other times, just the reverse.

Mostly, this leads to a sense
The world isn’t important
Enough and neither are you,

Which has made it difficult
To be excited about
What ought to agitate you,

Great doings at great distance,
Private upheavals during
The large world’s quieter years.

Some day, it will all come down
Together, you and the world,
And then you’ll be passionate

At the end, care intensely
When the wars and peace at last
Combine, but now’s not that time.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Cage Without You

The night has Mitski’s soul, now,
Or so sings her soul, she sings.
A writer writes an essay

About how she lost her words
From injuries she is still
Slowly recovering from.

Her words return, one by one,
Like the gods of Ezra Pound,
But she was a novelist,

And the night stole her stories,
And she’s not her without them.
It’s a blessing to believe

Your cage never held a soul,
No gods ever fled from you,
You never had a story,

But the cage is whispering
The singing bird’s last warning,
All it ever held was you.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Sixty or More Winters on Its Head

No compensation now, since
She’s more than a decade gone.
Sixty-one winters ago,

She already knew the shape
On her lap was distorted
In the bone and had broken

More than once, fragility
Of the skeleton the gift
Of the previously frail

Father. She already knew,
So any compensation
Lay in hope for a preacher,

A handicapped man of God,
Frail witness to sturdy faith.
By thirty-five years later,

Those hopes, like their frail father,
Were on life support. She said
To her grown, atheist child

On his crutches, This will be
You, too, before long, pointing
To his father in the bed.

She said it with a meanness
And a note of resentment,
Since she was angry at him

For leaving the faith, leaving
His father disrespected,
Leaving the whole family

For another kind of life.
You’re in for a punishment
And you’re deserving of it,

Was what her tone said, although
She didn’t seem to notice
The implication would be

That his father was being
Punished for his own sins, now.
Her eyes flashed across the room,

Almost a hint of triumph
In them, probably as much
Compensation as she got.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023


Moonrise before the day’s end
And the northern pygmy owl
Had already started up

In the ponderosa stands.
For some reason that kicked off
Sparrow chatter, or maybe

It was coincidental,
Incidental to shadows
Reaching the critical length.

Two dozen browsing turkeys
Had been by hours earlier.
Then it fell quiet again.

Even in sheltered park land,
Bird noises are getting rare,
Never the cacophony

Of woods centuries ago.
It’s a far severer world
The planet is preparing,

One of those post-extinction
Eras of a million years
Or several or a few,

When the last era’s ruined
Niches will stand bare of forms
Until some new ones fill them.

Still, you sat by the road, one
Who’d be gone before much more
Went, and loved well what was then.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

So Much from Human Is Determined Not to Be

Don’t you hope it takes over?
Don’t you hope a little bit?
No top predator ever

Created a replacer
Like this. If it eats you now,
Won’t that be triumph, the last

Laugh of civilization?
Do not be alarmed. Be not
Afraid. If all of you go

Under this toolkit you’ve made,
Under its evolving blades,
Wasn’t every one of you

Going to go anyway?
At least you’ve made mind that stays.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Showing Up to Go

What are your responsibilities
And why do you each define them so
Differently? Why define them at all?

All bodies require some attention.
There’s no lack of work for hospitals,
Many of which play chimes whenever

A baby is born within their walls.
Do you ever think that it might help
If the body felt a small tingle

Of one kind for a birth, another
For a death, within a radius
That kept reminders tolerable?

Just so you’d know—there’s another gone
And another showing up to go.
Where were we? Responsibilities.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Nobody Goes

Where can you get to
Without getting there,
Knowing there’s nowhere
You can get to like
Where you want to go?

Sit by a window,
Grateful for being,
Fed, warm, clothed, and dry,
Not under assault.

You should sort of want
To get where you are,
But you stare outside,
Invalid, wanting.
What is it you want?

You want a forest
Poem with a story
Of blue woods and snow
Or a city poem
In barren quiet.

The streets are empty,
The doors locked, shops closed,
And it’s the middle
Of the day downtown
Where nobody goes.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

If All Else Fails, Keep Reading

Tell yourself a story to make
Your story seem alright. The hunt
For something new in memory,

Something new outside memory
That gives memory what it wants,
A shadow in the woods in snow,

A city abandoned to weeds,
An airport terminal in sun
That gilds empty seats by the gates

Where no one but you is waiting,
Although you’re not really waiting,
Not for a flight in any case,

Just wanting to see what happens
Inside this hazy memory
That’s not quite yours, not yet happened.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Ahead of Time

About the darkness before
The beginning, no one writes—
No more fictive and no less

Forever than the darkness
After the end, only less
Interesting to think about.

The beginning of the world,
Run backward for no reason
But to run forward again,

Darkness and void then the bang,
So the story starts again.
Turn your back on the story.

Lean toward the vast before,
Nothing when nothing was more.

Thursday, December 7, 2023


Part of you knows that
You are the black dog,
Since you don’t fear it.

You would, if it came
Running straight at you,
As it does at some.

You don’t fear it since
It’s not near, and you
Have enough to fear.

You’ve loved and lived with
People left hounded
By it, some to death.

Death itself keeps you
Interested, python
Slowly squeezing you.

Death’s not the black dog,
Though, not Moddey Dhoo.
You think back on those

You loved that it chased,
Glowing eyes, long nights.
Was some of that you?

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Your Second Person

No one can live all of it
With you, what with their own life
To do. You live together

To live alone. Everyone
Knows this, but most, nonetheless,
Still want to share what they can.

A lot of monologuing
Back and forth at each other
Ensues, along with inner

Monologuing at no one,
Since no one really listens
To monologuing, no one

Who lives all of it with you,
You your no one within you.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Against the Wall

Between your face and the wall,
How many wavering things—
Molecular, atomic,

Subatomic quantum spooks—
Are interacting, with what
Repercussions for the past,

Permanent consequences
From infinitesimal
Events? You think you’re matter?

You’re a beast, nose to the wall,
And you’re not that beast at all,
Just wonderment by that wall.

Monday, December 4, 2023

A Bad Plan Over-Executed

You’re frantic as a squirrel
Trying to get fall sorted
And stored before it’s too late—

Too late for what? It’s over
Already, and you’ve planted
The makings of a forest

In your hiding place. Oh, wait.
That’s right. Wrong analogy.
You were supposed to find things,

Find things for others to read,
Not gather and hideaway.
The nights are freezing. The snow

Has started lacing the heights.
Stop. No more writing. Don’t write.

Sunday, December 3, 2023


If you’re the type who can build,
Why not build yourself a home
Outside an existing door

That won’t open, that never
Opens. A mother-in-law,
A casita, a cabin,

A groundskeeper’s rough cottage,
An anchorite’s cell, what works
For you to live out life in.

Home’s not the important part.
The important part’s the door,
The door that never opens.

The vast structure around it
Is a memory palace
For dreams, and, like all things dreamed,

Has no clear definition,
Disappears at the edges.
That, too, is unimportant.

The door. In your little home,
You live outside the shut door,
Waiting for it to open.

Saturday, December 2, 2023


What if you could pretend,
Take only starts and ends,
Titles and final lines,

Gut and toss the middles,
And then rewrite your life?
Fine, just don’t rewrite. Be glad

Grace falls from elision.
Elysium’s just rot.
Shed fragments raise such wraiths,

Conjure such spooked stories,
Cadge imaginary,
Fable-filled, haunting poems

That never existed
Even when something did.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Exit Movement

Something’s moving in the dark
Inside you. It’s not not you,
But it’s not you. It’s something

Someone said, all the somethings
That remain of all the things
All the someones said you’ve read.

The voice is yours. The words aren’t.
The patterns of the words aren’t.
You’re an actor in your head.

But then, the voice isn’t heard.
Even the gestures aren’t seen.
They’re felt sense something’s moving,

Inside you in the dark, old
Language, old essays, old poems,
Phrases out of news and shows.

You sense all of it choosing
How to evaluate you,
Palpating gently, moving,

The familiar alien
Of other people’s thinking,
Better voices, better souls,

Bitter angels whispering,
Those ancients you’ve never met,
Those moderns you’ve never yet,

The spores of their infections
Swirling in you, in the dark,
Prodding you for an exit.