Monthly Archives: April 2022

Say So

In the center lane,
the one cars use
to go straight through
instead of turning 
left or right,

the driver
of a dark blue Nissan
is smiling, car dancing
to what from here sounds like
Doja Cat while her child
wiggles in the passenger seat
more or less in time with the song
and their mother’s glee.

It hurts more than a little
when I turn left
away from these 
happy two and go back
to my empty home

where no one’s
waiting for me
(right now anyway)
and where the music
I play in the empty house
doesn’t make me dance 
(I miss her too much for that)
and it’s not going to change
(not soon enough anyway)
whether or not I say so. 

How To Go Quietly

Your dilemma today? How to go quietly.
You’ve lived out loud for so long
people think of you as embedded 
in a permanent echo of yourself.

The air is calling your name.
You can’t escape it. You are
honored as much as you feel 
cursed and invisible — the others

don’t know who you are
other than what they’ve heard
on the wind. You know you are 
at once better and worse; 

more real, less solid. More
thick, less angelic. How are you possibly
going to get away from yourself
long enough to become silent and more real?

Video: two poems

Made a public post on my Patreon site… I did a recap video of two of the poems I did last night in NH.

Give it a listen, and if you’re not already there, consider becoming a Patron for more exclusive content.


There is enough to work with:
ample material, strong skills,
easy place to work — so why 
is this so difficult now, this
necessary stitching together
of old parts and new findings?

I’m apparently ready to be defined
by a failure, as if it would
render me immortal. Truth
is, it’s as likely to make me
invisible once the news,
now broken, is ground into 
scraps and is no longer clear
to the historical eye.


They don’t want you
for fear, they say,
of sharks. 

For fear,
they say, of you
getting trapped and 
being swallowed.

in the wreckage
maybe an explanation
and perhaps a breath

of truly fresh air.
It makes no sense 
but maybe under the waves
there’s a better flag there,

one you could stand for
and salute in a clean
upright way in spite of
all the ocean above you

with its weight of
drowned history. Or, 
maybe it won’t be
that way at all for you

and you’ll come back up
struggling and gulping
but at least you’ll know.
You’ll know how the bodies

went overboard and how
rescue was forbidden or at least
restrained. You can decide then
whether or not you want to swim back

to the shore you left where
they’ll be waiting for you
with the same faces 
they’ve always shown you,

and what you want to say
and do as you come up on shore
with new eyes for them
and their own suffocating fear.

It All Happens For A Reason

It’s such a wrecked world,
such a messy place

with piles of little damages and
headshaker…injuries? murders?

mistakes? Here are a few
that do not look so accidental;

consciously painful to consider
this, unconsciously thrilling to think

that someone’s orchestrating 
all the chaos and that there’s no such thing 

as accident here.  It makes the world
more orderly for you to think

that it takes more
than random incidents on a preset path

to cause such devastation.
Gives you a reason to whisper, God,

and even though it seems insane to say it,
that soothes as much as it kills. 

Everyone Is Burning

Common wisdom says
if you find yourself on fire
you must stop, drop, and roll
until there is no more fire,

but no one follows that up
with any wisdom at all about 
what to do with all these ashes
and hard charred hunks
left behind by the flames.

It would be good to know.
There’s so much of this
going around
it’s hard to distinguish
smoldering people
from the land on which
they suffer,
the land onto which
they’ve fallen

rolling in agony 
until they either 
put the fire out
or spread it to
and then another.

Greatest Song Ever Written

suppose you stop snickering
and get shut of the need
to scorn those folks over there
fingering slipcovers
in the discount aisle
talking only to each other
when they speak of
perfection and how well
these would go with 
the drapes in the front room

and suppose
you quit sneering at those
who proclaim their love
for the Beatles as you cannot
distinguish between
an emotional bond to their
soundtrack of a lifetime
and your own decidedly
enthusiasm for whatever minute
you find yourself in
of course
it hits you
like a never-ending
cryogenic block
on your future)

and suppose
you get your head
out of whatever fragrant
arrogant nook
you keep it in 
and see yourself
years from now
dressed fifteen years 
too early for retro fashion
choosing from cheap mirrors
in a bargain aisle
while humming
greatest song ever written

Lying Down

While bending to plant myself
on the back corner of the kitchen floor
in order to clean the litter box
I watch myself lose the thread
and the balance
and now I’m lying down.

Becoming aware again,
face to face with the shit
this way, I can’t imagine
getting up again and no one
is home to help me change my mind
about lying down.

Maybe it will all hit the papers — the part 
about being alone, the part about how many days
had passed and then some lines about
who they want to think I was before it happened. 
No one, really, should stop to care about such things. 
In the end, like everyone, I’m caught lying down.

There isn’t a lot for them to say 
beyond that, so it’s your turn. Pretend there’s
something profound in the way
I will be found: smiling, you can
say — or maybe not. Eyes open,
or maybe not. Lying down, definitely.

I may hear you speak of this
from wherever I am, or I won’t 
and even the idea that I still will be who I was
is likely just more of the same shit
I’m looking at right now from the comfort
of the cold ragged linoleum where I’m lying down.

This, though: there are things down here
I never saw before this moment. I see
long assumed truths and falsehoods
swept up in light and changing. Even the shit’s
changing, as is the light itself around me. I will not
call it beautiful yet. Right now, I’m just lying down.

Walk Don’t Run

“Walk Don’t Run,”

but I’m running.
I’m always running. 
Do the ironists
care? How should I decolonize
my shoes
when I can’t stop
to take them off?

There’s a fucking settler
everywhere I look. I can’t
get them off my back, or my 
mind. How does “Land Back”
work when the land
is thick with them and their
history? When half my genes
are settler genes? Maybe
the truest part of me
is settler. I feel
broken settling for that.
Maybe I should surrender to it
and just run through the colony
waving and smiling
till I drop dead and then that hole
they put me in
or  the land where they scatter my ashes
will become land I get back.

And how do I stop
being a capitalist asset
when I’m so damn hungry
and money is so short?
Do the ironists care? Are they still
laughing, calling a dead man like me
who’s running in capitalist shoes
from capitalism and colony and
the endlessly fucking settlers
a lackey?

Maybe the problem is that I’m
running down the top of a fence
barely an inch wide and I can’t decide
which side will cradle me when I fall. 
Maybe I should listen to the words
of the song. 

I don’t trust anyone 
who had a hand in building this fence,

especially me. No Marxist,
no Libertarian, no capitalist 
apologists…settlers all,

and no one able to explain
how to soften the human cost,
how to even partially break
the looming fall.

The fields on either side
are too wide to let this fence
define them, but here I am,
running like it matters 
which side I will die on.


You look like 
you got a nice skull
under there — 

skin and muscle
covering it up
but you can tell

Inside I bet
is a good-enough brain
and how about that tongue 

flapping out
skull shaped
word sounds

Skull so hard
So hidden but words
shaped just so — as if

they’d passed through
just such a skull 
By your words we know you

inside and out and 
past the meat and skin
there’s diamond bone

impossible bone
white bone singing 
ownership songs

hard and proud
wet from blood
and damp meat

each syllable thick
with marrow
each toothy bite 

chomping down like
it comes straight from
the skull of your god

A Broken Mug

Breaking the mug
left behind when a friend moved
and left me their favorite mug

in order
to practice unattachment and 
travel light

hurt. I was attached to the person
but soon enough more so to the mug
I drank coffee from every day all day

for close to eight years
till Tuesday or maybe Monday,
who knows now, it’s been a fog

of worry since then about
this loss and feeling I have failed
a friendship, although we haven’t

spoken much over the years since
he moved. I’m sure there’s
more to say about this — when

have I ever had less to say
about such foolishness? My hand’s 
rotten nerves let go when I could

not. I swept up the pieces at once
and they’re gone now
with this week’s trash. No one got 

hurt. I trust he’s doing ok regardless.
I have a new daily mug
I don’t like as much, but I’ll adapt,

I’m sure. I will drink a lot of coffee
from this until such time
as I break it, then repeat

with another mug or myself
and then we shall see what hurts,
if anything, when the last one is gone. 

What Scratch?

If you have noticed the scratch across my face
that I gave myself with my right thumb nail
grown extra long for fingerpicking a guitar

the scratch I gave myself tearing the CPAP mask
from my face while trying to get out of bed
swiftly enough not to pee myself first

the scratch across the cheek I gave myself
trying to be quick and quiet and not disturb
my love sleeping next to me as I rose

the scratch not administered by either cat
who’d been on the bed with us and who then rose
to demand a two in the morning feeding

the self made wound light evidence of how often
this happens now, diabetes and other
wear and tear having made it all inevitable

this cut line across the pressed lines made by the straps
on the mask that keeps me breathing all night long
in spite of my best unconscious efforts in opposition

the cut made by my long term devotion
to the instrument I wish I’d played better
and harder and longer 

the scratch I barely feel as after the bathroom I stop briefly
in the living room to look at the laptop and the clock
and hesitate while trying to choose between sleep and poem

If you can see the scratch
the answer is 
yes it hurts

Well, I’ll be…

Thanks to the WCPA for this honor.  

And thanks to all of you for helping make it happen — the place where I work out my work. You matter.

News Feed

breaking not like glass
but like a bone

one can take this
as being something
no one can take or

one can take this
as how things

one would be
wrong on both counts
something breaking

not like a ceiling or
a floor after a bomb
or meteorite

it’s more like a bone
or lots of bones
and more damage

than just bones
more shards afterward
sticking out sticking into

flesh and 
look there’s no blood
how can that be

after such a crash 
as this where something’s
broken perhaps forever

no healing from this
and still so little blood
perhaps the victim

was already close to 
drained when the break
came after falling

from such a height
will they stand up again
will they rise after this

the crutches
are sawn almost through
after all 

yet another broken aid
upon which hope for this break
must fall