Thursday, January 26, 2012

When the white wants more words

If I could still hold your hand in
my eye, I’d turn it over there
and I’d pull it into mine, my hand
and my eye, and I’d use it, no them,
your hand and mine, our two
pointing fingers pointing out like
two small sticks parting from the same
broken branch. We could scratch-
write together our word, one word,
maybe two words, before the fickle white,
and your hand, and mine slip away
again, a foot, a yard and then
a mile falling between and on
us to break that branch’s end.
Our word, or our words, might stay
behind to look out on two new children,
a boy and a girl, well-bundled in blue
and red cottons, by mothers, against
the cold. They might, this boy and girl,
in one afternoon, assemble, then tear
down an icy fort, a fort made of more white.
It, our word, or them, our words, might
stay and pretend other words are
coming, other words to keep it or them
company when the boy and girl go
back to warm suppers. Words
we could write, or could have
written, of the ways we’d live
and love and share in each other’s
tomorrows, and of the way we’d hold
the suns-to-be, the suns of those
tomorrows, up against one light,
the brightness of this white and the one
or two words we’d left in it. There’s no
sun today, there’s just this white, and it
shines instead before it parts with
our two hands, our two sticks, our one
broken branch. I’ll hold them all in
my eye.

[another poem for Jill]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I reject

I reject
empire I reject
an empire can be good I reject
the idea of this nation
this good nation this beacon
as defensibly indispensable I reject
the false divisions it sits on
sitting behind its walls its guns
pointing out in every direction I reject
its standards of living no matter how
now diminished They're still inflated
at the purchase of the blood
of our dispossessed
at the purchase of the blood
of innocents abroad
at the purchase of the clearest
blues and the deepest greens despoiled
at the purchase of a future
counted by too few breaths
I reject all it takes to make itself
feel proud It takes all I can bear
not to tell it how much
I reject it

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sometmes-things (the poem)

Sometimes-things, they aren’t
drawn clearly enough. Sometimes-things aren’t
meant to stand out. Black sits on black,
then it moves around to white. Come lie back
down with me here, I’ll tell you about them.
They’re most times things, but sometimes I see them
and they feel much closer to something living.
It’s not that they speak or move, it’s something
in the way they lie so still but are still shaking
within. Are you shaking now too? No it’s not shaking,
it’s a hum. A string continues to play its song,
much later than, long after, we’ve stopped listening. Long
after we’ve stopped. Can they be, when I know they’re not?
I can’t see them seeing me or being, and they’re not
like me. They’re more and they’re not, but it’s just then,
when they are just things to me. It’s then--
are you still listening-- sometimes
I know I disappoint myself by thinking it. Sometimes
I know they mean to have more meaning than I can find
in them. In the blank somewhere spaces where I lag behind
them, sometimes I crave to catch up. The wind can
make such a pretty knocking sound if the tree’s hands
will play along. No don’t get up. I’m almost done.
I’m trying to tell you I want to be that someone
who’s willing to live sometimes like them, and when
not, not frightened of some place where I’ll lie down by them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Exercises in Anthropomorphism

Five stoic sparrows
sit in vented heat. Don’t mind
the nervous starling.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Notes from above ground

The difference isn’t. Askew,
it’s a greasy stain.
To be hidden
and scrubbed clean, they bid me.
I’m staying.
The same, it’s true,
I’ve had the same complaints.
Here or there, they’re buzzing
by me like flies. It’s plain
but comfortable up in this attic’s stew.
The flies are actually staying
below. They won’t go
near me, if there’s no
prize for not sinning, not even
originally. Time’s sly.
Like the flies, It won’t go by
me, not when my having it’s been
done. Long ago. A fly can’t sin
not even unoriginally, and I can’t
tell the difference. Not now. I can’t.

Monday, January 16, 2012


At nine, a teacher taught
me this trick, “You
can remember
‘dessert’ has two
esses, because
you always want
two.” And I remember
but I always only want
one. My memory
of it is for the desert’s
sweet-strict beauty
unjust deserts.

Monday, January 09, 2012

On the half shell

We aren’t, necessarily, up. Beat not

beaten, we feast, and we will be. Come,
tell me, what information can’t be held in

our fatty acids? Immodestly, we’ve had both
the morsel modified and not. Its tiny bits mix
in us and with us, so it can inform us

forward with a digestibly new identity. We have
eaten more than this too, and it’s all in us,
with the knowledge of a world less well-preserved.
Less is on ice, but there’s more for us to taste,

and it’s the more and we’re the more. We
know of it, what it is that can’t get inside of us
if we don’t eat it. Let it, get inside, it won’t
eat at us. It won’t, it can’t shake us from

the unusual way we’ve wobbled through
a closely-measured firmament cold-packed
with these immeasurable clues. We’re no less

permanent there than this half-shell is here. Fixed
by a thin glaze, it awaits one sun, or the tide’s finding

its stomach again for mollusk, fine sand and pebbles.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


The mimic
octopus slides, it glides
carelessly by, since it’s decided to try
on this brown and white, lying
it’s a lionfish. It’s not
the black marble jawfish either,
a small fish, which is also not
a lionfish, or a mimic
octopus. It’s swapped,
the jawfish, black for brown,
marble for spot, and it’s stopped
burrowing to stay close
and share in the mimic’s lie.
I’ve succeeded too, not
needing mimicry, to hide.
So much so, under
these sliding black-and-white lines,
the glib lies I use to glide
through marbled days, I can’t catch
the spotty attention of anything
but the clingy brown
exhaust from my reflection.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Epiphany

Imagine, I
do, the three magi,
who come, not
bearing gifts across hot
searing sand, but
a star’s soft presence. When they do, what,
afar once, can't be, Dear,
brought magically nearer.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Twelve and Twenty

I didn’t know what
to call its plastic dangling
there in the window, but
this new-old morning
the old-new sun changed
it to an exclamation
point of light, and changed
now is my name for it.