Thursday, July 29, 2010

some will seek medicine

Some will seek medicine,
and some, to keep on going
will go to sleep.
I'll keep writing poems.

I'll stay up until there is a listener,
I'll wait for light until it comes.
And when dawn comes, a whisper,
I'll keep writing poems.

When my hands shake and my lungs ache,
when you're still
still gone and far away,
I'll keep writing poems.


David Bazan, on death: "It's gonna fuckin' happen."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

salt of the earth, redux

When the
the Salt
-Wound, you
for it.
-ly you
can't sing
or stand
to sit
with the
the fear
that the
(that is,
would speak
with you
on your
to the
You had
a nice
all laced
up with
lack of
the God-
I was
a tired,

for david bazan

Hey man, I love your narrative,
your insistent piloting toward
the sun and the stars, +
any black hole
you could get your
quick, sad eyes into.

You could sing for the "Vision"
or you could sing for the booze,
but shit, man - you
could damn sure sing.
Sorry you've had so many
bad diary days. Keep tripping.


Impatient with time, my hands open and close.
My fingers determined, my fingers ready to touch your skin
in warm yellow latesummer light, ready
to keep warm under the cold evergreen burn.

I distract myself with purchasing books, reading perhaps half at best,
stories by Dennis Johnson, poetry by Whitman, his disciple, Hart Crane;
and minimalist novels which speak to my slowed-down heart.

Inside my chest there's a dull thudding in time
with the opening and closing,
replaced by a latent smashing in the night

when you visit me in my sleep, when you crawl in bed with my sleeping self.
Your whispering floods my dreams with pages we haven't filled yet;
I wake only to knock an inkwell over on my sheets,

which is, with my morning cough-cough-wheeze, a true catastrophe.
You're not here yet. The calendar
has nearly a whole month to move. But the birds are singing.
The midsummer sky expands, a soft sailor's blue,
and the clear wind barely more than a breeze.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

two from stephen dunn

"I don't trust people until I know what they love. If they cannot admit to what they love, or in fact love nothing, I cannot take even their smartest criticisms seriously."

"Lovers are unreliable witnesses, which is why reliability is not always to be desired."

- Stephen Dunn

Monday, July 26, 2010


Sometimes I get this
insufferable idea
that I'm entirely illusory,

and barely that.

I'd rather be vague,
instead of so solidly

a hummingbird's wings

in a nothingness
of empty air -

no longer bird,

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Love expands to fill
the wounded space

You face yourself -
your own roadkill heart,

your fear to climb the wall.
That fear -

I use it as a stepping stone
to climb up to you now.

(rev. 8/18/10)

two years later, he speaks


I found your glasses under the bed this morning.
They'd grown dusty in the boxes you packed in those months of preparation ages ago, when I found them,
I was trying to clean up the dust that buried the bookshelves. Staving the rust off the windowsills. I was thinking about mowing the yard.
You can't blame me for finding your glasses, can you?
I admit that I looked for them. Searched for them. Yelped with joy when I found their tiny rectangle frames, thought about how beautiful you were when you wore them, your placid hazel eyes just above your silver nose ring so elegant and spare, the way you first made me sing. I wept then
as I shivered above the sink, drowning my face in the tap.


Did you know that I vacuum the place once a week now?
I pick up the place before I leave off for town,
take the rug to the cleaners every three weeks, mop the kitchen, take care to fix the leaks, make the bed; occasionally I trouble to change the sheets.
When it snows I shovel sidewalk, I make up the fire and drink the ginger tea you always told me you liked. (I finally tried it and like it a lot too, lots of sugar and lots more milk, just like you.)
Tomorrow I'll pick some of the yellow flowers you planted in the yard.
I'll set them in the inkwell and balance the accounts, I'll think about you buying the seeds for those flowers at that flea market in southern Maine next to the field with all the cows, and for a moment you'll flicker there, leaning down to smell them. I'd touch you on the breast if I could. Hold you again as you wept in that Autumn's sun.
I think about these things, cleaning the place up.
After all, you could be back any day now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

sometimes i with fear

Sometimes I with fear,
sometimes I with trembling go;
but to remember
what is, what was, what-will-be best
is the realest, the truest;
the road toward home.


Spiders crawled my face

this morning. Climbed my
neck with

ticklish speed,
eight legs at a time

skittering with shoe-shod feet.

Enough to crush me,
asleep beneath them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

judas shakes

What if the metaphysical became unequivocally solid? The philosophers would be terrified.
Suddenly nothing to do. Professors worldwide, irritated.
Peter and John seek weaponry.
Judas smokes more and more.
His sides shake with agitation.
The stars begin to fall from the sky.

Monday, July 19, 2010

judas smokes

Judas smokes on the front porch after playing cards.
He whistles because he won, he takes deep full drags and smiles. The moon smiles with him. The off-white light is perfect.
He’s already counted the coins everyone expects him to count because he likes to count.
Peter and John are jealous. They shit themselves with jealousy.
Judas keeps the money and they do the cooking.
They think Jesus looks at him funny, but playing cards requires their full attention.
Judas flicks off the ash and smiles at passersby, especially the women. He likes them.
He thinks about drinking beer at the Fisherman’s Terminal because this seems like an honorable task. And it is.
He’ll go to bed on a full belly tonight.

a view of the world

I could call up my brightest green memories
to bring you to my heart's center.
I could love you in the spring again,
like I always wanted, free of my idiot-suffering
and shuddering arms, free from fear of ghosts.

I could kiss you
with a view of the world.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

not understanding

"Most of my life has been spent not understanding, and I can assure you, it was not easy." - Rilke


From my perch at the park
I watched city pigeons eating bread,
the tennis games in the heat below.
I was sitting in the shade.

Then my friend Wayne
hopped over the wall
the Eucharist in his hands
trailing the smell of stale beer.

(20 feet down I saw
his body in the blood.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

heaven in hell and hell in heaven (a series of messages i sent myself or myself sent me or some other thing)


god i can feel your
absence in my guts

there is darkened mass
and there is no evening there
there is no jazz
and there is no water in the fields anymore
there is no morning to wake them

only the dark
only the red
at the burning barn

the sea vespers


there were fires the
oldened fields
the people in the galleries
became the pieces
watched and watched
by themselves in the
forms or the floors or the ceilings

from the white red lights of hell
speaks Judas i listen
are not both he and Christ
my liberators?

. . .

i take heaven in hell and hell in heaven
in my two fists + now
my back is iron between them


Thursday, July 15, 2010

after reading franzen and roethke


In the womb of the shade at the edge
of the walk at the riverside's park,
as I tremble and swing in the sigh
of the weight of a shameful frailness,

I watch the orioles, their feathers
orange, dirty, dusted brown, below
my knees. No one has washed them but rain,
they gather, sing and flit through the holes

in the wall; they hollow out the air;
I can barely believe this - so simple.

Sweat drips down the sides of my face,
salt-staining the printed page where frailness
guides Alfred to a safe-home - the floor - where the repairs
needed and not got, stack up under shame.

And the halting voice of his closest son subsides,
haunts him in the hospital. The changes.
The long failure-filled hallways with familiar locked doors.
No songbirds sing here.


Alfred, old and dying man, will I be like you one day?
Will this edged mind collapse on me,
leave me locked away from all?
Farther than the far plains, will I bury
myself in prairie grass? I need to know,
not let it pass unknown.


Will someone carry me down the stair
when I am old? When my bones are broken
and my mind withheld, when her name is
all I remember and all I want to be told,
will anyone be there?
Will her wind still
caress my hair? When I am naked and skin-spare,
when I am wet and drowning, in the tub and alone,
will she still love me when I am there, my heart
shot-through with cancer and age,
when I am nowhere.


When the blood quit turning in his heart
I left my book, my perch at the park.
I was lighter without his troubles,
without the image of Alfred's eyes.

Without the no-love that howled
in the meat of the book, I imagined feeling
again at the end, where his wife smiled, smiled and shook,
ready to "make some changes,"
or better yet, go somewhere.

Exiting, the birds around me
smothered my ears with wings
with their easy wire-walking feet:
I wished for all they'd never have to know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

the silent hollering

To see your face is
to be pulled the

length of water
separating our bodies;

you're within, even
without you now.

Hang your hair in your
eyes, lover. Whisper

and feel my teal-colored
sighs turning blue, turning bluer.

Whisper hazel
eyes across the screen. Stay there

inside my ear - your wave crashes
against inside around within

my wave - inside is a silent
hollering in a conch shell,

smooth and pink,
vibrant, alive.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

6 haikus, senses


The last of the air!
Hold up your lungs; see it through.
It's all you've got now.


Smell the last of her
and imagine her body
in soft candle light.


But hear her after
all else leaves you; you're alone;
when love's the best thing.


Watch the west's last light,
look back into the coming
darkness: she is there.


Feel the old moss once
green, the new moss under your
feet. Life is mercy.


Or life is looking.
It's hard to say. To work and
eat, but mostly - love.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

i keep telling myself

Where were you love last night, when my heart

was pitching and whirling like a sailboat

in a high-break sea?

My dreams nightmares and nightmares dreams,

I woke up with Death in the sheets next to me.

He laughed and shook his scythe.

He knew it was a lie, he knew he was just being efficient

scaring the shit out of me, that fuckheaded bastard,

he made a face and said he was havin' such a good time,

working for free on his offday, no killing,

no taking-of-prisoners-to-the-great-blue-fiery yonder,

just scaring, like halloween.

But without the candy?

The candy is essential for shitless-scared nights,

nights when you're not next to me

but the nightmare is, when

it's not right it's all wrong and not real,

and then I wake to a pillow,

lime-green in a house I don't know

on an air mattress, hungover

or under my grandpa's dried open eyes.

(Everyone else's overseas somewhere.)

There's no punchline, just a harrowing arcing climb.

There are a million stars in the sky, lovely

stars, constant;

but too much humidity to find

them or sometimes,

to even breathe.

As I woke I started thinking about Rumi,

about weeping, about just wanting to exist.

I sat up in the dark bed and knew it was okay.

The shadow of the old man and

Death-on-holiday were invisible.

I cleared my throat and tried to think:

The stars are up there firing off,

making newer and better lights

and there's nothing I can do to

stop them, though I'd give it a go.

That's what I told myself,

and keep telling myself,

until this hibernation is over;

until my insides expand again and quiet this dull night roar;

or when at last the morning winks at me,

and I find you on the other side of the sheets, grinning,

a smile on your morning voice.

The terror
of the blank page
rests within me
foreign; needed,
like a stillborn child.

Monday, July 5, 2010

sunset after being alone

The light is thick, a substance here, golden
on the hills of my birth place.

It makes me miss these scenes . . .
yet I know it gave me the strength
to leave.

If only I could
bring it back
with me. I'd show you the mystery.

If only I could
carry the deep dark
of the woods on my shoulders
with love;
then - you would know the cost.

Friday, July 2, 2010

old beginnings

Cicadas, frogs, no people sounds,
I listen with all my ears:
The night is full;
coyotes howl in the hills
beyond my Papa's pastures;
the insects crescendo, climb to a monotonous, lovely roar,
and the old rusted propane tank still holds vigil.
I've journeyed far to sit on this porch
built with his hands and fine for summer nights,
summer sweat-heats and rains.

(I am here,
have journeyed far,
only to listen.
This blackness is a canvas singing;
I will sing with it.)

The moon hangs in the cleft of these green oak mountains,
full and huge and orange,
a childhood thing to be eaten
and savoured; savour I do, thinking of the mountain names,
Indian names: Boktukalo, Kiamichi, Ludlow, Zaffra,
and the moon, unnameable, watching them all.
My smoke hesitates in the air,
full in the humid warmth, winding
and expanding, expiring above me.
But this place has not expired.
The cows are in their pastures, silent
old dead Keith's house is still and empty on the hill.

(The insects roar and
the moon fills the sky.
The song I knew has not ceased.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Children in yellow tunics

run about on
thin chubby legs

kick a ball around

pictures of ecstasy.

the grand american expression

"The English language befriends the grand American expression . . . . it is brawny enough and limber and full enough. On the tough stock of a race who through all change of circumstance was never without the idea of political liberty, which is the animus of all liberty, it has attracted the terms of daintier and gayer and subtler and more elegant tongues. It is the powerful language of resistance . . . it is the dialect of common sense. It is the speech of the proud and and melancholy races and of all who aspire. It is the chosen tongue to express growth faith self-esteem freedom justice equality friendliness amplitude prudence decision and courage. It is the medium that shall well nigh express the inexpressable."

Walt Whitman, from the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass