the dictator’s ankles.
the dictator falls to
kudzu, or ivy, or
a bicameral congress
do you see the president
behind the bees?
all the businesses are closed
for dolphin mating,
their slick sex
destroying the fixtures
and over there’s a church
which has no walls
so how is a wildfire
trapping people inside?
every artist is struck dumb,
throats replaced with redwoods;
sculptors and painters and dancers fall
in agony, their hands and feet torn from
the bark sprouting and scaling.
I am coming home
naked, hooting, calling
non-verbally, hoping you
have survived the same way.
the only strategy
guaranteed to work.
Once, prompted by the fatal flaw
of believing I personally mattered
to the universe,
I indulged in a moment of
disaster planning. “Save me,
save me!” I cried,
under the spell of the belief
that I mattered, that I matter beyond
what I had given and given up
to the Swarm — and then, swallowing hard,
I loosed my stinger and died,
a nameless worker bee
dying for the hive to survive,
because that was my job and my role
and what I was born to do.
I came back as a human,
a fat, sad, disheveled male
with a house full of boxes
of my writing and music.
Last story written, last
song played. No one
apparently listening anymore —
I’m sitting at my desk crying.
How many lifetimes will it take
to learn such a simple lesson?
Comes the day
I live past
my last possibility,
hang me out
if I have not hanged myself
through either disability
I don’t care
if you help me by stoning
impressment or suffocation.
Help me get over
if I’ve gotten
so far along the path
that there’s no other
and no return trip, and if
I’m past choice.
Line me up
and let me have
some last quick gift
of travel home on my own terms.
Can you feel how close we are
to such times?
Can you feel how close I am
to counting on you for this?
What’s that coming up
from the dark water?
A corpse, a crab, a blue pearl?
The teacher says,
I spy only the blue pearl,
lustrous mystery rising.
The practical one
seizes on how the crab once seized
seizes back. Seizes on deniable pain.
The undertaker says,
my concern is the corpse.
Wash it clean. Swathe it. Bury it.
In this light, which is it?
Maybe it’s all a reflection
of that storm on the horizon,
and there’s nothing down there
threatening or promising anything,
just memory playing with shadow,
trying to claim its place
before the perfect storm
begins the work of drowning.
Wolf-were: a wolf
who turns into a man
at the new moon.
an undead being
who sucks wallets.
Ghist: the spirit of a departed person
whose moans boil questions down
to their essence…
said the noted expert,
were obviously meant to be forgotten.
Apparently to expand my lead
over other species in my environment,
I can without warning
leap long distances
from a standing position.
You annoy me with one word
and I’m over there, across the street,
over the fence, gone away from you
as swiftly as the scorn for you
rose within me.
I call such leaps “My Adaptation.”
Survival of the fittest demands this.
For this adaptation to become
part of the species’ genetic code, however,
I must mate and — POP! — sadly,
this seems out of reach.
POP! When I am this lonely
I annoy myself — POP! — and cannot stay
close enough to a partner for long
as I pop off to get away from my detestable self,
which never works; thus, I am always a failure.
I long to someday conquer this
and spread my jumping seed. Imagine
the planet seen from above, from on high,
from the heavens — all those bodies
leaping about, like a civilization
grown from a flea circus…and my love and I,
either standing stock still among the arcs,
or leaping away together, hand in hand.
Eating a sandwich made
with bread from the store
that came in a plastic wrapper
that has a farm scene on the wrapper
that shows a brawny farmer on the wrapper
a brawny farmer reaping in a rolling-hilled field
I remember bread from when I was young
and it sang
but this bread is silent
What did the brawny farmer do to the grain
to take its tongue
and render it mute
so that this bread cannot sing?
I notice he does not show his face here
Only his broad and broadly-drawn back
I don’t blame him for being ashamed
What did he do to the wheat?
Everything born of the earth has a voice
What did he do to the wheat?
I’m not even going to ask
about the American cheese
I returned my chemistry
to the Store yesterday.
I don’t want this, I said.
It doesn’t fit me.
It’s too big.
They tried to argue with me
but in the end they conceded
that the customer is always right
and I left the Store with a new chemistry.
Put it in and what do you know,
my brain stopped with the yammer,
yammer. I recognized everyone
as divine. Suddenly, I liked my eggs
over easy and when I got home
I threw away the clutter on the desk,
all those pages that have weighed me down
by being unfinished and in plain view.
Now all I’ve got to look at
is a clear desk and orderly shelves
of all the books I’ve completed.
I can’t say I’m genuinely relieved;
I’d say the feeling is more
like sitting in my childhood bedroom
looking at model cars I glued together once
and asking myself,
who the heck was that kid
with the patience for such things?
under the rotted floor
of the old shed —
tearing out the boards
I expose a mother possum,
The Mother of All Possums,
the largest I’ve ever seen,
and she’s with at least ten
young ones and every one
is hissing and hating and scaring
me, the man with the shovel
astonished at all those black eyes,
pink mouths, and white little fangs.
In short order I hear everything
from “they make good pets”
to “they make good pies”
from the crew who are working
to get the yard done, but mostly
we’re all a little fascinated for ten minutes
and then annoyed — we’ll have to leave
this part of the job for the day, give her time
to move them.
You’re looking, no doubt, for a moral.
That’s what writers do, and readers do with them —
assign meanings, encode symbolism,
scrape together a metaphor we all can use
for glue to hold our lives together.
Not this time. Here’s all the meaning:
Clay soil not exposed to light is tan and soft
where the animals dig into it away from our eyes.
Mother possums are fierce in defense of their young.
Baby possums learn everything from momma.
We let them be because there was no reason not to
and it was a good excuse to take a break and talk
about their eyes, their habits, what we know of possums.
In the meantime she dug in with the family to wait us out
and that’s where we left them. Small moment,
disruption for all involved, moving on, getting by,
making the best of things.
game set and match
to my little demons. To my
my corrections for,
and my incorrect
To my lack of connection,
my unconvinced convictions, and
my uncorrelated understandings
I have been a bastard
ten thousand times over and
lost myself in diligent pursuit of
what I felt entitled to have.
Now that I know
I am in utter defeat,
I should forget all this
and go outside on the next sunny day,
go by myself to a bar or cafe
to buy a drink or two with my always
nearly empty wallet,
to end up there for hours
sitting and greeting unexpected friends
with a delighted smile and the offer
of an empty chair and a drink on me
for their comfort
as if taking a pointless happy afternoon
for myself is no big deal,
though it is,
but then again,
it really isn’t.
Ah, you stupid
motherfucker — cold drunk crashing
right through the knee-high fence
in your own front yard and planting your face
among the weed-strangled old tulips!
Right throught the old weak fence
and right down on your old weak face
in the front yard where the neighbors can see —
And you don’t seem to be getting up
and getting inside to hide the shame this time.
Not this time, not like you usually do.
You seem instead content to lie there ass up
for all the neighbors to see — your grey old fatness
unmoving, and it’s been a while now.
You’ve been a stupid mother since you were a kid
and none of us can count how often
you’ve tripped over that fence when stupidly, completely
drunk. Stupid and complete drunk, that’s what you are —
the object lesson, the model for everyone to point at;
but you appear to be taking the lesson
in a new direction today, with your face down
in the dead tuilps and and your ample ass sticking up.
You’ve been there a bit and it’s likely the best job
you’ve ever had, no real effort required, just lie there
and let the neighbors point and laugh and say things
to their kids about being drunk and a public spectacle.
You’re gonna feel stupid about this one day, motherfucker.
We’re never gonna let you live this one down,
especially now that a crow, a real live crow,
has landed next to you and is inspecting you
up close and personal. Never gonna let you live
this one down, asshole. Priceless. I’m gonna see
if I can get close and snap a picture of this.
and no desire to use it —
that is true enlightnment.
but has no idea where weapons
have been hidden? As blessed
as the peacemakers. If a sharp tongue
is sheathed at all times,
and is never tugged into slashing battle —
to behold it at rest is to be among the mighty.
There are certain ignorances based on neglect
that are honorable; think of the sword and shield
that must be rusting wherever they were laid,
and the warrior who laid them can’t recall where.
Certain baffled people carry more weight
simply by having forgotten
or been oblivious to more
than we should ever know.
a holy book
a page turner.
rising to hold
a place in the book.
that spine is cracked
it’s the first time
it’s ever bent.
Every now and then
someone comes with a crayon
and disgfigures a book
but it hardly matters.
Every ruined book
is a good book
for someone even if only
as a money maker.
needs a bound edition,
even if it’s a dead faith
written off in a dead language.
Every time I think of this
I expect to be struck down
by childhood lightning
or at the very least a plague.
But then I realize
that any God I can believe in
has to be a librarian,
there are so many books
to see, and that God
would love them all,
and wouldn’t hate anyone
who can read.
If you wake up feeling dark-hollow
in pure full sun, the obvious answer
is that you should be kissing someone
Parent, child, sister or brother,
auntie, uncle, cousin or friend
Any of these will do — but of course
you’d rather kiss a lover
even if it’s not the one beside you
Even if the one you’d rather kiss
is dead so many years gone by
you cannot recall well anymore
the shape of their mouth
Make of your mouth the mandala
The holy O of contact
Look around for someone who
will welcome the laying on of that sweet wreath
Let it burst from you upon them
and the day shall fill for you both
with laughter at the least
with love at the most
did you know our cats are imaginary?
dogs too. and indians,
what they have in common: we make them
into pets. we negate their potential
to be real and dangerous and complicated.
for example, it was no lolcat in the corner of the porch,
arching her back and openmouthed snarling
at me when I revealed the kittens next to her
by pulling back the cardboard that covered
the corner where the white cabinet provided
her birthing place and shelter.
my overwhelming desire to reach out and cuddle
and pet them counteracted by the swiping claw
and the terrified look on the kittens’ faces, I resolved
to go inside and look up “feral cats” on the Web
and found a lot that made a lot of sense. so much more real
on the screen than in the corner.
that’s how I learn
everything I need to tame the wilderness.
to skin the unicorn.
host the cowboys.
leash the dog. gentle the
cats. be the right kind of indian.