Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a little abstract wonder

With bodies that
are roughly

75% water
it seems odd

that the 2%
that gives

us God also
gives us so much

pain, pleasure,
suffering, light.

Monday, August 30, 2010

still small nothing

I wish someone could describe
for me why it is I can't believe that God
leads you anywhere in particular,
much less by the hand, as much as I'd like
to be taken by God's hand (or would I?)
alongside the shoulder of I-40
all the way back home across all those
desert states to Oklahoma
where the dirt is red and necks redder.
Tell me God is nudging you,
and I think perhaps he's poking you
as if he was cursed with Facebook
just like the rest of us, and had no
better means of communication
or other way to speak, and who other
than Isaiah or Jeremiah would say he spoke to them -
and look where it got them? On their sides
naked for weeks eating shit.
Are you eating shit, you young Protestants
Click-click-clicking your way through class?
The last time God spoke to me I quivered,
not a little kid but a (somewhat)
grown man, and feeling that, nearly died,
being (somewhat) lower than excrement.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

judas takes the women out boating

Judas, that working class (blue collar to the core) loose fisted man
who loves his selfhood and loves his fishing tackle,
what a man, smokes smokes his rolly's and drinks his brown liquor straight.
He slaps the mouths of the wicked children out of line, what a man,
takes the women out boating and gets the night-time spins,
bellows like Kerouac or maybe a more hellish Whitman, yawp-roar-yawp,
livid and alive, casting out line after line.

He's wasting your time, not his -
he's simply - no more - than Judas, watching the women grin.

a bridge

"The self must be a bridge, not a pit."

- Roethke, "Notebooks" (1945)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

oh white paper night

Oh white paper night,
I want to bear you up.
On your svelte shoulders hangs
lightly the coming day.

The steam that rises from the tubs stills us two in the warm waters,
our bodies listen and absorb

the warmth that must.
It must, tonight,
with the sight of salt waters ambient-blue before us,
when there is an exhale after pain,
must cleanse our shudder-racked eyelids.

Oh white paper night,
your clear back on which I write is a gift:

God does not let the lonely die but lets them drift
in loneliness, for a little while.

I while away with you, white paper night,
my bell-rung ears no longer jarred,

but in an exhaling night, a breathing
night full of steam and sighs. I watch you climb in and out
of the water, resting your thighs like Gary Snyder
in a trance across each other, a mystic

watching me drift for a little while, naked.

I want to reach out and grasp your hands
as we walk, strut, tithe our bodies at the beach -

you, the unwritten-on of nights.
Of all the nights I waited you were waiting with me,

hanging there in my future unknown-of
but when I feel instead of thinking

I wonder, --

did I hope for
you even then,
oh white paper night,
before you were
even a dream?
Were you already
breathing inside
my memory?

waking water

Take my fear in your hands.
The child in me will understand.

Yet the man within me could weep, too.
Could weep for your mother you're afraid
you'll be.

O, love. You'll be
& I will be,
with the waking water around us,
its surface clear, its depths tinged with green.

There can be a garden where we wake if you want.
We'll use our fear for fertilizer.
We'll grow the best tomatoes you've ever had
& make sandwiches with mayonnaise & avocados,
which you like & I like.

Pack your bags, love.
We'll throw them from the side of the plane
we'll watch them winnow away into the dark
we'll begin to start again,
sitting naked in a Doe Bay sauna-tin.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

judas, with a loaded gun

And I will say that Judas is a soldier
who stands all night in the rain guarding
a powder magazine -

he will begin . . . he will
think strange thoughts in the night,
soaked in the rain.

Who can blame him?
Not me.

judas becomes the beast

Endowed with wisdom,
Jenny is christened
in a little pool by an elder
fool with flowered robes.
Mmhmm, says her papa.
Her atheist mama
is quite skeptical.
They'll be held
to a silence elliptical this time
next year.

Watch out, you wee parental things.
Judas wants to eat that child.

Monday, August 16, 2010

oh, sun

For once I found the sun appalling.
Some days I do this. I get confused.
That happy blue is too much.
Too much for a funeral.
Mindful now, Sun - we're wearing black.
We, the smokers hiding
behind the church can't take such exposure,
we need a heavy rain
or at least the relief of loaded clouds
unloading themselves, releasing weirdly
sexual tension upon the earth.

Oh, Sun, you're waiting for me
to get around to discussing grief?
You poured yourself on us,
you saw it, you shouldn't need to hear otherwise.
Wisdom says let the dog lie. So let it.
We're going swimming.
That's the whole story.
First we're going to Safeway,
and then we're going to drink, or smoke
a hundred or so collective smokes.
(Come back when you're wanted.)
Soon you'll be a necessary light.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

elegy for tyler jameson

(May 29, 1991 – August 7, 2010)


Where you went, are there blue lights
on the runway? Did angels in jumpsuits—
without wings or flowing hair—
shoot you into the air with a metaphysical
black jetpack to fly you,
a jetpack outfitted with existential engines
colored red to hit the sky.
The angels there smoke cigarettes
to make you feel comfortable.
Offering you an American Spirit,
a bearded one will smile.

They’ll say look,
you exist, existed, and even now—
live, elsewhere.

—Are you now walking a dark path
among the blue lights of death,
more confused than when you left
that yes, in fact, you’re still awake?

I hope you’re bewildered to live.
I hope it begins to make sense.
I hope that love strikes you in the eyes.


Have you left yet?
The ancients used to say the soul
had trouble leaving the body,
like it was tethered to the bone,
a horse to a hitching post.

Maybe they’re outfitting you with books
there in eternity, some reading for the journey—
but it’s all poetry now, where your body goes through walls.
For us, all this talk of philosophy becomes useless.
Here, we need something more elemental than words.
You can’t be weighted any longer.

Or perhaps, like a ghost
you linger, but having lived,
having loved
all you see is beauty—
the trees, growing,
(you were
never a piece
of an infinite machine).

Your love for the world conducts the memories forth—
now you see electricity in all its currents
in colors our eyes never saw.
You can see a music in them.
Finally, some theories—even Sartre’s—
make sense, make love.

An angel whispers your name
before you take (life in) flight—
“When you tire of earth’s glory again,
the blue-lit runway awaits you.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

to john berryman

You cut a fine figure
in my brain. Almost as bad
you were at college as me -
mostly of overwork, too much socializing,
and antipathy towards idiot-teachers.
Taught well, you bucked up.
Or wavered under your head
fucked-with by frailty,

sailing towards poetry like a compass
pointed north. But there was
mama's dominion & daddy's death
to deal with, and mostly you were
busy in love (not with your wife),
whiskey or white page-inking . . .

Somewhere off that
bridge you jumped -- I hope
there's hope.

Friday, August 6, 2010

riding route 31

I pull the hair out of my eyes
as I sit up in bed, the sheets full of sand,
emptying of me. The bus

comes later every day; I contemplate
not one but two prework smokes
but there's no time. My chest

is developing a hole anyway.
Yesterday, I shaved. The usual business
of turning into sandpaper has already begun,

a kind of madness. The hairs grow.
I cut them, the dark brown and red ones, and rinse the sink.
Sometimes the hole seems to be

growing into a kind of forever.
I watch the summer grass dying. I miss you.
And then bus comes, the scenery moves:

I imagine the touch of my lips to your ear
in lamplight, feeling the music of your mouth,
soothingly, -- and 22nd street rolls by.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

the worst possible ordeal

"I have . . . a feeling that endowment is a very small part of achievement. I would rate it about fifteen or twenty percent. Then you have historical luck, personal luck, health, things like that, then you have hard work, sweat. And you have ambition. . . . I do feel strongly that among the greatest pieces of luck for high achievement is ordeal. . . . My idea is this: the artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him"

- John Berryman ['The Art of Poetry XVI' Paris Review, winter 1972]

cloudy with a chance

Oh dear!
On the screen the world breaks apart. I'm believing:
A hailstorm of meatballs, spaghetti, burgers, and sauce
falling out of the sky. It was a children's book once.
I read it, eleven years old, at school.
Smithville Elementary, a long brick low-to-the-ground
building that met itself at a 90 degree angle,
the library in the hinge, my granny at the desk,
with a hill sloping down to the playground
still made of steel and painted
six or eight primary colors.
(Red green blue
red yellow orange red
blue green white?)
We dug holes in the ground
pretending to be archaeologists.
We ran around hollering. Shot each other with toy guns.
Fell to the ground, quite dead. Counted to thirty,
resurrected to live again.

The book - I loved it. Now I cry, stupidly -
watching an outdoor film in Riverside Park -
for what I'll never have again - a second innocence -
& perhaps the beauty of what I have now . . .
a second's worth of windlovereality,
but is it anymore graspable? I'm believing:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

sunburns are not all bad

Late summer eyes burn blue-lit
August skies from the dust,
I now sit in cool-skinned shades.
Red shoulders and redder
knees from sitting too long by the canal,
colored from water reflections
and from thinking about your paler
skin, skin unsunned, mostly
in classrooms, bookrooms, libraries
and busses. (It wouldn't take much
to be paler than this scorched
tomato shade.) I twist the cherry
from my cigarette in the yellow
grass, make sure it dies alongside:

no one appreciates an urban wildfire.
I slap my hands together
and glance up at the glaring sun.
It's feeling less like fall than Seattle
summer is wont to do, and I like that.

Monday, August 2, 2010

waking, i find you

Waking, I find you filling my day's song.
And full of rising winds, through my wild hair,
you toss me toward the light.

And perhaps one day, in wheat fields
you'll chase me,
or on sandaled desert planes
near Santa Fe,
or climbing the golden pine-scented hills
of northern Colorado.

We'll see, won't we? We will.
You, the best of my wild hairs.