Monthly Archives: March 2022

New eBook on the way for my Patrons

Just ended work for the day on the first quarter eBook for my patrons at the $15/up level, a volume of some of the longer poems and poem sequences I’ve done over the years.  Most of these do not appear here on the Dark Matter blog, btw.

I’ve got short commentaries for each sequence left to finish and then I’ll format it for ePub and PDF, after which it will be distributed to the lucky (?) patrons.

Still trying to decide about one piece which I think is kind of an interesting but decided failure — thought it might be useful from an educational standpoint on process. Will I revise it or put it out there, warts and all? We shall see…

You too can join in the fun and be a part of the madness…if you become a patron. Rewards will be shifting soon but even at the $1/month level, something will always be there. Promise.

My Patreon site…

On Fire, Always

I do not
much like
my head being 
on fire.

My head is
always on fire. Therefore
I do not much like

never stops, by definition.
It may cool down occasionally
but is always throwing sparks.

You think this is 
a metaphor (as it is)
but real people come by me
sniffing the air, asking

“do you smell smoke?”
even when I am
standing in the rain
or when it is obvious

that I am in deep water,
in over my head by choice.
They ask me to come up
for air and ask if I can

smell the smoke. I say,
why do you think
I am in the water? why do
you think I am trying

to stay under? how is it
that you are not ablaze
as I am? I am
always surprised

that they are always asking about
smoke they can smell
and never about a fire that by now
they should be able to see. 

Mid-Apocalypse Dreamtime Rag

These cats won’t eat 
what I give them.
They come to bed, 
sit on the dresser

and night stand, staring me awake.
Sitting right behind them?
Ghost cats who will eat
and are also demanding food.

What does one feed
a ghost cat? They’re so thin,
so ornery. Maybe ghost fish,
fresh from the docks?

I get up, walk to a harbor
not far from here
full of boats
but devoid of docks;

fog on the water, the boats
and their catch
rotting in the fog,
the exorcised demon fishermen

of twenty centuries
wailing to come
back to shore. 
I flee. Is there a market

somewhere near here
that might have canned food
for ghost cats? I left the house
with no money, though.

I don’t have money in general,
but no matter: all the markets
are closed for a holiday. No chance
of filling my needs that way

so I head for home through
streets full of paraders, naked,
brandishing willow wands,
striking each other across

the thighs, everyone squealing.
I pass apparently unseen by anyone;
re-enter my house, throngs of ghosts
around my feet, their eyes glinting

like swords. If I go back to bed,
no matter; all that hunger will slosh
around the room and there will be
no sleep. Let me sit here for a while

with you instead. We can imagine
a better world where neither live nor dead
shall feel want. Where the boats 
come back to port, where the willows

grow green in spring, where the naked
can wear what they want if they want,
where I don’t need ghost money to feed
my ghosts, where what I don’t have

doesn’t rouse me
from sleep to try and do
impossible things
to achieve peace of mind. 

Stall The Engine

To be fully alive
one must stall the engine

that carries you through
this ossified human stage.

Egg as you are now, indebted
to your job and reputation 

to hold you together
for lack of a being inside,

you must break the engine
with the understanding  

that as messy as you may become,
you are on the verge

of true incarnation at last:
not reincarnation,

for that is your first life
gestating within

the thin tough walls
you have shown the world

while your shell ran on a track
toward the shattering moment

when you will come forth from it
not as human — perhaps as dragonish

snake or armored hawk; smoke 
trailing behind you, the wreck

of the engine piled in your wake, at last 
able to breathe deeply, to fly.


Choosing the right bed
for your longest nap
takes a lifetime:

shall it be firm or soft,
wide or narrow?  Or are you
resigned instead

to sleeping wherever
you eventually fall upon 
a flat space 

long enough
to stretch out
and be silent?

No matter how you do this
you live toward your sleep
from your first waking.

Some choice,
some chance, 
same sleep. 

My Role

Understudy to the lead screw up,
bogeyman in the wings
incessantly running lines
to stay ready, so ready to go on stage
and flounder, fall, fail.

A big break is coming
for certain. Small ones
keep happening
and momentum being what it is
all that’s needed is readiness.

For now, maintaining is enough.
Getting the inflection right 
when keening, having the right gestures
to accompany stepping off a cliff
into disappearance. Practice

makes for a perfect disaster, a step by step
breakdown of breakdown. Others
who’ve done this never have the chance
to make it better so first time must be
the last time and that last time had better be

so wrong it’s just right.

The Game Preserve

Revised from 2012.

When some people hear
I’m a poet they expect

that words like
French hummingbirds
will fall from my mouth:
flashing subtleties, gems
suspended on a crimson string
for them to pluck.

I want to say to them,

it’s not going to shimmer like that,
not always, not often.  Sometimes
there are no hummingbirds —
sometimes it’s just
one Worcester robin
doing its drab and wormy job.

Sometimes I’ve got 
a whole game preserve
inside me.  Hosting
a whole wilderness —
apparently that is so important 
it has become my vocation.

If you want to know
what poetry I have in me,
know three things:

one, beyond the
instantly arresting beauties 
I can introduce to you
there will always be some
that are hideous and you will
draw back and some so plain
you will not see them
at first;

two, among the
plain and ugly
will be some that are venomous
and some that will heal —
there will be the same among
the beautiful ones,
of course;

whether peacock or slug,
three-legged dog
or most unexpected unicorn,

understand that I have to live with them
and I am the walls and cages they loathe.  

These aren’t pets.  
They don’t love me.
They all growl, claw, bite.

When people hear I’m a poet and ask to hear more
they need to be prepared for the blood.


see that bone
that bone that
dry bone

connected to
for too long

a bone 
long ago pulled 
from its wet nest

lies beside
the road 
leading out of here

it has been drying
forever out there
that bone could tell

some stories I bet
if you are willing
to listen 

imagine it is your bone
imagine you could put it back
it might offer wisdom

as to why
you gave it up 
in the first place

that bone
that bone that
dry bone

like you
connected to
nothing for so long

Fire Sale Artists

Revised from 2014.

I’m down
to my last hundred bucks
waiting for 
a late paycheck
and thinking of Sal Paradise
who (disguised as
Jack Kerouac) used to
wire back east from Denver
for twenty dollars
and consider it
enough money with which
to see the country
traveling across the continent
screwing women over
romanticizing the hustle

I will grant you
it was the 1940s
Money and hustle went farther
back then
but now I can’t even go
to the grocery store 
with less a hundred bucks

I sit at home 
fuming and sobbing
counting pennies
trying to do right by 
the woman I love

The only thing I share with Sal
and his friends 
is the whole suffer for art thing
They claimed more joy and less care
than I do
the feckless bastards

I don’t envy them
They mostly all died
drunks or fossils
They were fire sale artists when alive


I’m just the opposite
I wanna hang on to something
but a hundred bucks isn’t enough
in 2022
to buy much that will last

Anyway if poverty
kills so much around me
that I have to hit the road
at some point
I won’t last long because
in 2022
they just shoot the mad ones


Odd Jobs

From 1995. Revised

Cleaning out the apartment
of a woman
who had disappeared.

Ivy around the bedroom window frame
may once have been meant
to evoke the woodland
for a homesick
“country gal”
in the city,

but that dust caked
plastic ivy around the frame,
long ignored fake ivy
tacked to the grimy window frame
with its broken blind, its cobwebs,
its setting among
clothing strewn
in disarray, 

suggested instead
an archway
into an otherness
long ago entered
by someone from this side
who has yet to return,
is overdue to come back through.

Cutting foam rubber
with bandsaws
into pillow shapes.

If the noise somehow
can be absorbed by the foam
and enter all those

if people
end up in nightmares
about a ribbon of steel
whining through them,

all the boredom
of this job might be
worth it.
You might call that cruel,

but only if
you’ve never
done anything
like this.

corn chip maker,
or at least
the one who mixes
the batter.

Hair net, beard net,
gloves, safety glasses,
steel toed shoes, smock –

I entered the factory
on my first day
tricked out for
The Ark Of The Covenant 

only to find the hazard
was in knowing evermore
that the corn chip powder
I poured
one thirty five pound bag
at a time
into the hot tub size mixer
became neon green
when water hit it.

It cannot not be unlearned
once known.  It cannot be
unseen. I have not had
a corn chip since then,
and thus am denied
part of my national birthright –
something to eat at parties,
something to eat
from vending machines,
something eaten in the car
to stave off hunger
for the last fifty miles
of any given journey.

of a deadbeat renter.

Hours in the DMV waiting
for him to renew
a license I’d learned was expiring
paid off.

He’d tried to vanish,
but I found him,
tailed him

The house
was covered in ivy,
and for a moment, a wild

I thought I might solve
three mysteries
at once,
if you could count

my muddle of a life
to that point as one –
but no dice.
He lived alone.

I made a note
of the new address,
called it in,
and quit.

I’ve truly had no job odder
than this current occupation

which insists upon
incessant reporting

of connections and meaning
where none are visible;

demands that details
be magnified until they are totemic;

tastes, sometimes,
of swift steel severing tangled false ivy;

of hunger tainting long hours
of inert observation;

of ghost salt, poison corn,
and the tears of the disappeared.


The calendar is a falsehood.
It ought to be as spring in here
as it is outside but in here
winter is sticking around.

Looking out
at soggy old shit
that has been hidden
under the snow: see there

a little man,
a little fat man. Little old fat man
with broken eyes
and self-important whine

who has been stuck inside
for so long he can’t see green
at all. It might be coming but
he turns away and grabs

at the calendar
that he just knows
must be a falsehood.
Tears it down, tosses it

across the room at the 
recycling bin. March?
Give March to someone who
can use the mid-month hope.

Turns his back on the window,
his little old fat man back.
If he could see the incipient green
out there, he would be trying

to shout it back underground,
back to brown. There are 
more blizzards to come, he knows,
but not how long before they strike.

To Dream Of Duende

Revised from 1995.

I got up grudgingly
just to see if the world had ended.

All night I had been wracked by dreams of treachery, seeing myself being pushed or thrown from a road painted on a cliff
into miles below that opened into dead space.

I could not see who or what shoved me
over the edge.
I could not see anything of the stop at the bottom.
There are more important things to notice
when facing the end of the world.

During the long drawing of breath as the body falls, so much sharpens the senses.
They then make one point upon which a body can land, piercing up from the killing ground,
opening deep waters in the rich soils that begin to flow across Death’s country.

I got up grudgingly.
I will not make that mistake again.
I will willingly wake from sleep
to seek desperate, praiseworthy knowledge —
one lives best when aware of the longing for that huge, deadly fall.


Revised. From 1999.

1.   Prelude

breakfast: approved fruits and grains and decaf

they sit and eat accompanied by radio’s easy news
of celebrity quirks
blood tragedy trivia
ripples over an abyss

there are the usual long silences
between two who’ve been together a long time
who once believed they had known each other
long before this life and are no longer sure

he paced his den last night
trying to recall the flavor of civilization

she lay awake upstairs
listening to other insomniacs’
fever fear of UFOs

if there were ever children here
they are not apparent now
so they will spend the day
as they spend every day

absorbed in paperbacks and gossip
never quite grasping the answering machine
if they were ever friends
those bonds have become invisible
in all this mist
that attends the slow closing of their world
as it slips to one side

and they begin to seek

2.  The Husband’s Library

Come into the
shadow of this red rock…

he read that phrase some years ago
it drives him crazy because he can’t place the source 

all he really knows is that as he read them the first time
the words rose out of his center like islands glimpsed from afar

and they are there still

some nights when he is lying in his den
surrounded by fabulous stories
he sees himself on one of those islands
draped in a fine robe
crouched in the cool shade
of an enormous sandstone ledge
he is adored by millions
who flock from the cities to see him

he stares across the crowd
from under the safety of his
natural pulpit 
is beloved
and is wise
and is haunted
by fiction

he knows his imagined wisdom
is all his own creation
there are plenty of other myths

that would have him crushed
or buried
or drowned

while the red rock loomed in the background
as metaphor
as symbol
some kind of doom
meted out by the earth
to those who dream of perfection
in small family rooms surrounded by fantasy

red rock looms
and looms
and looms

he drops his habit
becomes naked
in the presence of red rock

in a waste land
he never allows himself
to reconsider

3.   The Wife’s Radio

she lies down wide awake
as her clock opens the night with 12:47
it’s a good start she thinks
past midnight but not yet one o’clock
still time to get a good night in
barely AM


the radio that is always AM
and the man on the radio
who is always suspicious

he says

there are stars
that move

there are whiter
lines outside the yellow lines you can’t cross

there are cigars
over your head

there are scoffers
anywhere you look

anywhere you look
there are fools

there are people up

and down here too
but not visible

some are friends
and some are alien gray

blending into elf
tales we grew up with

the clock chimes in at 2:13
now we’re getting serious
now we’re speaking for everyone
who never gets out much
now we are talking olympus

he says

there are people
who are taken by the gods

there are stories
that don’t hold water when you pour it on

there are big heads
that won’t admit opinions

there are men in
the halls of power

there are women
under the sidewalks

there are marriages
that act like Kabuki parody

white faces farce
stereotype almost otherworldly

not ever quite

still awake at 3:36
way past dream now

is the rain natural this late, or this early

she thinks someone downstairs is tossing stones against
the windows
does she dare go find out
if facts are facts

he says

there are secrets
that look like commercials for mind loss

there are facts and
then there are facts

there are spotters
holding up the constitution for ridicule in the desert

there are old
stories that make ours seem like sequels

there you go when
you do go

when she falls asleep at last
nothing is stable 
except those huge eyes that shine like definitions

paradise has slipped

4.  The Journey to Atlantis

I will never kill
you, my love,

they are both thinking
as they resume their spots at their
breakfast table

breakfast: approved fruits and grains and decaf

they sit and eat
accompanied by radio’s easy news
of celebrity quirks

the usual long silences
between two who’ve been together a long time
who once believed they had known each other
long before this life and are no longer sure

when the news stops
being about the news
and nothing can be done

when the anchors talk and talk
of what the anchors want to talk about
and nothing can be said

they will think of Atlantis
stop dreaming of a temporary sacrifice

they will think of Atlantis
in the western ocean
or the eastern sea

where sabbaths came with no clouds overhead

where braver tales were told in the councils of power

where the highways were long and straight

I loved you then

when the egg you were hatching

was the thing that would drown you

which was solely red rock on soul blue sea

which was dark against the sky every holy peak of it

which is still a name of dreams

every people has you

every school refers to you

isn’t it nice to be remembered by

a couple
who lives forever in silence
whose children are grown

whose every memory is infected with longing
for something
that has always been

a place of such perfection
they know it must have been real once

hear them whisper

please say that
just now it’s only covered over

for God’s sake say it isn’t gone


So little new 
to say
once you realize
that you have stopped
being a person and
transformed into
a footpath
now that you have
reached a certain age,
that people
either follow you
or wear you out
or stray from you;

you are so carved
into your surroundings
that you cannot help 
but stay in your groove, 
ground into the landscape
until the last person
who remembers you 
as a person has passed,
and that will be all,

but still you keep
doing this Work

because there’s always a chance 
of you becoming one path
to that which is still out there,
beyond your view, a destination
everlasting and pure enough
that even if no one ever
says your name again 
you will have helped,
you will have mattered.

Since You’re Up

Unloved head
with refusals.

Rejected body
flaking, sugared up,
hurtling toward blindness.

Severed connection to earth,
air, water, and all else. 
No true belonging, no safe relations.

Profoundly diseased,
immersed in delusion;
cats don’t care,

demand feeding
and attention. To offer
those things to them is

a purpose. Mechanical,
disconnected purpose;
means to an end. 

Been here before.
Enough for now.