Tag Archives: poetry

Summer Bed

Who needs a reason
to be naked
in their own
summer bed?

A heat wave ought to be enough
to make you happy
to choose the exposure
but here you go again, rationalizing,

telling yourself 
that if you die in your sleep
it won’t matter to you
if they find you like this and

it’s so ridiculous
to think you’ll be forced
to rise from bed and fight
a home invader:

if they kill you naked
you’ll be as dead as
if you were clothed;
if you kill them

you’ll certainly have time to dress
before the coroner
and the police arrive — 
or you can choose to be found

in your just recently savage,
still bloodstained skin,
still clutching the bayonet
you keep by the bedside

or the baseball bat 
you keep by the bedroom door
against such an unlikely 
invasion of privacy. 

Sleep naked, then. You clearly
already have found enough
to worry about and no one’s
here to see or care.


Leave It Alone

leave what creates alone.
tend to its home
but not to it except
to stay out of its way
and listen to it.

you may at first mistake its voice
for that of an illness or a deity.
call it what you like,
a Muse even, but don’t
imagine it’s a separate entity
or anything but a mundane
part of you. it does its best work
if you ignore it. leave it
to its chores.

one day you’ll awake 
to a gift shining casually
from your seat
on the worn out couch:

freely given, left to you
by you, in your name,
to make your own. 


Diving For The Moon

The elders have told us
the moon is not fully at home

in the sky. Whenever it
vanishes it is because

it sinks to its true home
under the waters. 

Ever since I learned this 
I have been throwing myself into ponds, 

seeking the moon on lightless nights, 
but have never found anything. 

I have lately been eyeing
the ocean as a place to look:

the ocean, full of its own light 
at times but more often darker;

full of life, full of death, full of
whatever it is

that makes me long to dive in,
and if I don’t come back up?

Don’t assume I’ve found
the moon. It may be that instead

I’ve found the reason the moon leaves us,
and I’ve made that my reason as well.


Saucy (A Study In Goth)

you were saucy
once upon a time

in love with all
the damned objects

tingling if you heard
anyone mention Satan

forbidding the term
“adulting” from your discourse

except in complaint or
humble brag 

you were easy-wild
once in a while 

sat up all night
cybersexing distant names

with one hand
from a close-up screen

while below you in the family room
you thought of as hell

the others sat feet apart
and never talked at all

you were busy
back in the day

with a life no one but you
claimed to want for you

they almost had you convinced
you were the crazy one with your

black leather and star studs
it felt wrong to them that you brought them

into the chamber of orange plaid upholstery
and something soothing on the stereo

you were something
you were onto something


Bright As Corn

I’d like to see
the world become
as bright as corn
and as sweet

As shiny as
a sword fallen
to the ground
when dropped
by the soldier
running to embrace
their child

I’d like to taste it
and find it
as sharp and thrilling
to the back of my throat
and the front of my head
as a good whisky
after a terrible day

There have been days
where I could see how
it holds itself
above our slash and burn
Where the liquid churn
of the feeder’s many
starling voices
made me forget
they are another part
of the problem
we’ve made for ourselves

It’s too hot already and
it’s barely sunrise
but a good sunrise it is

In the time left
it’s grand to see the ailing world
still able to be as bright as corn
solid as song
strong as a Scotch in the soul
ready to show us
how great it can still be
and will again be eventually


Politicians’ Hairstyles

behold
the mad construction of 
these politicians’ hairstyles 

sculpted to hold
a hard crest like 
a cruel dragon or cold raptor

or left loosely spectacular
as wild as some 
indecent architecture 

what you see is the result of a devil
running its hand through
early on in their lives

tousling their pelts into flags
saying “don’t ever forget
you’re my special boy”

and they don’t


The Unaccustomed Sea

o my people
hear me when i say

do not fall in love with
a poet. a poet will learn

nothing of you unless
it directs them back

to the cosmos and then
you will be left to wonder

if they are in fact
with you when they

lie with you or are instead
attempting to understand

the language of stars
through your cries. to fall

for a poet is to develop
invisible parchment over your wounds

only to have them write 
all over you without acknowledging

they are sustained
by your pain. if they speak

of love know that they are
worn from love and too wary

of the word to know how to use it
in any way without slanting it

toward themselves. 
o my people — may i say

to fall in love with any poet
is such a disaster — and if

the poet in turn falls
into a true love with you

understand how much of a tsunami
it will become before you can both

come up for air and try to find yourselves again
in the unaccustomed sea

that has swallowed you both
and (if you are lucky) has 

raised you to high ground
and kept you together.


The Warm And Fusty Air

NOTE: I would just like to apologize for my absence for the last few days.  I’ve been a little under the weather and simultaneously very busy.  Not a good combination for a writer.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is a not-small thing, maybe just
a man-thing. I don’t even know
what that means, not anymore,
it may be wrong to say it, maybe
I’ve always been wrong and it’s
more of a white-thing or a consumer-
thing, a privilege-thing made
for Americans by Americans —
an agreement-thing, consensus
enforced by having grown up and 
made to live by immersion in its
warm and fusty air — 

that sense of competition
with whatever that is scurrying
behind you that is never there
or visible when you look back
to see what’s catching up,
the perpetual echo of shoes
dropping, doors shutting
back there you should have 
walked through instead of
plodding along this way,
forced through the warm
and fusty air — 

the sound of your weight
pushing past regrets into
this brainless way of being 
whatever you have become
today, now, being yourself
having come to mean 
unconscious respiration,
gasping in the warm and 
fusty air — 

where it’s always
the national anthem
on the stadium speakers and always
the same accurate deploring
of the lyrics by some
and always fighting immersion
in the vastness of the masses
who don’t care much
about the song
as long as what follows is
a good game or race, where always
the provocation to a fight
is present and part of the 
attraction, where it’s a 
man-thing or not, just
a human thing to be this
deep in the struggle to breathe
as one treads water, the fetid
water we have no choice 
but to struggle in as we struggle
to draw in what we need
from the warm and fusty air. 

 


The Fuck Up

We have not discussed this 
but you should know that 
there are specific ways 
in which I can be easily 
moved to impulse;

for example,
let’s say you tell me
something about myself
that I know is true
but refuse to admit:

something pleasing
or desirable will do it
most strongly
as I tell on my mistakes
and flaws readily,
almost glorying
in the one-sided frankness
of agreeing with others
about my faults and failures. 

With this admission
and your compliment
I am now moved to create
a disaster of myself
that will end my appeal: see,
I told you I was a problem
and you didn’t listen. That’s 
not on you but on me.

What a world 
you live in
that you encountered
me and thought I was 
worthy.  


From Moroccotown

Letter found
under the newspaper
lining the bottom
of an old box: illegible 
mostly, faded from age
and attic heat;

ink gone brown
and paper gone crisp and 
the only clear writing
above the body of the letter 
seems to say it was written 
on a blurred date long ago
by someone whose name is unclear
from a place called “Moroccotown,”
state not specified. 

I go hunting for information
and learn there’s one town
in Indiana that’s called
“Morocco” but no listing for one
called “Moroccotown” so perhaps
the ink is lying and it says
something else, or else this town
once existed and has vanished
as have the writer
and the equally unknown reader
as well as any explanation 

for why a letter was mailed
from mystery Moroccotown
or why the recipient hid it deep
in the yellow flakes of the lining
of a box in an attic as hot
as a desert. It must have been
important once. It must have
meant something strong enough
to make it worth holding.
I put the letter in an envelope
where it will sit in a drawer,
vibrating, until it either 
crumbles, explodes,
or turns to sand. 


My Accustomed Cup

breaking
my accustomed morning cup
into pieces
so I may never drink from it again

not by accident 
but with serious intentions
and careful attention
to avoid jettisoning

sharp ceramic flakes
so small they may be 
unseen until they enter
a finger or toe and draw blood

therefore wrapping it all in a cloth
in which I will safely discard it
after I’ve taken the hammer
to the beloved cup

what shall I drink from now
that I have done this
in an effort to make
my life over

or should this be
just the first step
should I release myself 
from all need for a morning cup

and when will I grow tired
of taking so much care in starting over
and instead let the shards
land where they will

should I just
get used to the blood
and the pain
of stepping on

the small knives and regrets
left behind in the wake
of my abandon and
my new morning chant

let me be
as I am
let me be
as I am 

let me be
this far gone
let me go
where I must

let me leave
only blood behind
to let you know
I was here


Do The Math, Become An American

You have been born
into a palace. 

Carved into
the walls of the palace

is an equation
that is itself a palace 

all its own, a palace
made of directions

to enter a farther palace
beyond all mathematics

where you can live forever
instead of staying 

and eventually dying
here in this first palace

where you are only
allowed to be either

spectator of, or specter for,
the immortals inside the

palace of math, the ones
who have figured it all out

or were born into it;
that’s all they will ever know

of you, your struggle 
with numbers,

your mad scratching
at the walls trying to 

figure out how to have
what they have.

You are to them
either specter of the disastrous

life outside, or spectator for 
the luxury of being inside, 

and while you do the math
to figure out how palaces

may be entered by command or
fortune or breach, they keep

watch.  There’s math
to be done on their side too:

the simple arithmetic 
of how to raise the walls,

no matter how close
you or anyone may get

to solving for
the key,  for zero;

for the red white and blue
on the other side of the x.


Gross

those who proclaim 
that all bodies are beautiful
all the time
have seemingly never assessed
the truth of their own grossness
upon waking
or the gross processes which follow
rising grossly from a gross bed
and entering into gross mornings
upon gross mornings through rituals
designed to make themselves 
slightly less gross for a time

I am tired
of proclamations
and affirmations

much of the time I walk grossly 
through the world aspiring
to a level of balance between
my reality based grossness
and my ideals for where I would
like to be and woe unto those
who will tell me I am never grosser
than when I do not know reality
for what it is

the number of days
and in fact moments
when I feel less than gross 
is a small one but
the number of days
and in fact moments 
when I accept the nature 
of the body in which
I carry myself is immense

if that’s what you mean
by saying we are all beautiful
at all times then I beg you

say it plain that we are often
gross and disgusting and to say
otherwise is to paint over
rot with bright colors
from a discount store bargain bin

they won’t stick for long and
when they peel it will be grosser 
than if it had never happened

you do not need to be 
anything other
than what you are
and you are a spectrum
a continuum 
a span which is not always lovely
but is always real
and thus often gross

the real is the enemy 
of the lie
language counts as a weapon
in that war 

to say that all is beautiful is 
an electromagnetic pulse
knocking out the power
of embracing the gross
and moving ever forward
toward tomorrow morning


Never Trust A Muse

Try to start,
it says, 
from something 
outside of yourself.

Find a way into
the edge of the picture
once you understand 
how you fit, fill in
an empty place, tell us
what you see and hear.

You fit somewhere
in the everything 
out there, one with the 
orcas, one with the squirrels
and the sphinx moth
clinging to the wall
inside the front porch.

It’s simple, really,
it says.
All you need 
is to become
part of everything
and the whole
of everything 
will become obvious.

Nothing, I retort,
is obvious
and never has been.
I’ve been looking outside
since I was too young 
to truly see the difference 
between outside and inside
and now, now that all
is on fire no matter whether I look
within or without,
what is supposed to become clear
through all this smoke
now that I am also smoke?


Punch

Hard, too hard:
the punch down
once again. 

If we mean 
to stop this,
we must punch up 

and not with words
alone, not with boycotts
or shame. 

Punching up
requires
punching. They know

how not to hear,
how to drown our
voices. It’s the base

under their
whole monumental
world. To break free

will demand
breakage. The less
we accept that truth

in the name of 
peace, the more they will drive us
before them with their

punching, slashing war.
To punch back is
to admit that war

is upon us. To punch up
is to admit we may have no choice
but to steal back weapons

they have stolen in
punching down always, 
snatching up our strength

and calling it their own
as they have from the beginning
of what they call history,

the time we know only 
for its endless hammering 
from above.