Daily Archives: May 21, 2016

That Bowl Of Smoke

Go at once to wherever you keep
your coffee cups and take one down.

It needn’t be your favorite cup; perhaps a gift cup
with a chip in the lip that you can’t toss

because of who gave it but won’t use
because of the hazards involved; maybe

something left by the previous renter,
long in need of a purpose, 

a cup never used because you don’t trust
a particular stain inside

but it’s hung around the shelf
“just in case.” (You’re poor. You don’t toss

things you get for free — at least,
not until now.)  

Take that cup and go somewhere
far away from the usual people.  

Pray over it, or do whatever you do
that’s a prayer for you;

pour whiskey into it, burn a bill in it,
it’s yours to do with as you wish;

when done, hurl it into the distance
and listen to it break. 

The next time you have a coffee 
first thing in the morning — gray-lit, still tired

and dim headed
as you sip the weak automatic brew —

remember that sound.  
You put it into the world,

that prayer, that bowl of smoke.
You filled it and broke it open.

You made sacred
what had been profanely 
useless.

Whenever you recall that sound
you will know what you’re capable of.


Rambling Bob Dylan Discovery Blues

“Positively 4th Street” is on the radio —
not the original but a damn good cover. I wonder
if anyone’s hearing this version as the first time
they’ve ever heard the song at all — thinking,
“what perfect spite I’ve discovered here in the voice
of the writer of this song.”

It could happen. I thought
Jimi Hendrix wrote “All Along The Watchtower”
for a while after I first heard it until an older friend
smugly played me the original. There’s a version
by Dave Mason out there, too, but I heard that later
on and it paled and faded and ghosted away 
in comparison to the others I knew…

Dylan’s covering the Great American Songbook
these days.  No one thinks he wrote those songs
because people who listen to Dylan now 
and buy his albums as they come out know well enough
what his voice is like and what he writes and has written,
and any discovery they find there is in how it’s done,
not in what was done.  It’s not my cup of tea

but it works for some. I suppose it works for Bob Dylan
since he’s on his second album of those songs. It must be
a relief at 75 not to worry about such things as legacy and
authorship and authority. He must say to himself,
“Positively 4th Street, Blowin’ In The Wind, Masters Of War,
Tangled Up in Blue…yeah, I’m good.  Let’s do that Gershwin tune.
Let’s do something. Might discover something we don’t already know.” 


Plastic Shaman

when you talk that way

of vision quest
and spirit animal

you lie

that’s not your shit to talk
stolen shit

that shit grew in
dirt that grew from
blood that
nourished
wherever you steal crystals from
and whoever you steal wisdom from

they mostly didn’t speak of it
as living it was plenty
it was side by side dirty and clean
it was a life not an add-on

nowadays they live it hard

you don’t
you lie
I can tell because 

when you talk about it
so bloodlessly
you smell like funeral flowers
on a soft bed
for your weakly lucid dreaming

for an afterlife
to follow a barely lived now-life

how gently you wield
the stolen property
how little the source
resembled what you call it
how little what you have
resembles what was taken

how little it seems
when you use it
when once it was a communion with All
and as such
even the smallest stone of it
held a cosmos