Monday, January 31, 2011

what makes a man

Sometimes I see myself walking wounded,
alone in a wheat field--
and I think of my father,
turning alone and cold,
colder, in his bed.
And I think of his father,
languishing tormenting
and tormented
in his armchair,
thinking of the words he's said
and not said.

When I descend amongst the dirt
down with the roots
I want to ask him and him
what is this mark they've left in me.
And why this wound, why
this pain that turns over
and over in me, flipping and churning
in my depths like a lost anchor
in the deep dark fathoms of the sea.
Why this long sentence
that links me, chains me
to this certain authority:
"You will go down without vengeance,
to the roots and the bones
and see nothing but the torn up
things inside you:
the truth of what you're made of
will tear you apart."

And the wound leaks out onto my shirt,
a thick crimson winnowing substance;
and finally there's the pain, and there's the hurt,
probing, throbbing, stuck in my throat.
All my words become glottal stops,
I can no longer talk.
The dream goes on, my fathers singing:
"I know, I know now what makes a man:
You must stand. You must stand."


Daddy do you remember
going to the river,
picking the body of a locust's
skin off the body of a tree? How I thought
it was a dinosaur
when you showed it to me, so sinister
and delicate? The clay-colored
crackle when I crushed the leftover skin
between my fingers?

Do you remember this?

I laughed, and wished it
wasn't gone.
Sin felt so simple then,
hanging on to the edge
of a post-oak's gray bark.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

sitting in o.m.h. after much math and a short walk to the canal

The Seattle night sky's polluted purple
haze makes the ship canal seem
illuminated from below.

Birds perched in branches overhead
shit in the water,
sleep, and pause
to consider the rest of the journey north
instead of the wounds still bleeding -
blasted by the barrels of
farmer's rifles, shotguns, whatever they had around to shoot.

They never knew each other.


“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

amidst all the shit going on right now

Know this, Laura:
I miss you.

Right now there's a small light
bulb hanging in the air

above my head:
and a clean clear memory

of your thigh pressed
to mine

on a dusk with yellow
light, into a night

with more time,
a night laid out

and bare.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

from a notebook from last winter

When the depth of now is eternal
our presence is all and whole,
the silence is openness,
the water is deep, and eyes touch
there: we become, inside the long home.

the binding

A single page lets
go from the binding

of the book that
I am holding, myself

becomes what I see,
and I see what I

think of - tearing
from the binding of

the arms that used
to hold me, I entered

a world falling
that fell away from

the sanitary walls
of certain sanities.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

behind all these parts


And why this body, and why this eye?
This friendly fire's not friendly at all:

I burn and embody a ghost in your (soon
to be our) car, which divides us from the Divine

and even the small:

look how I shiver under the weight
of my own anger, of my own wind:

roaring through my nerves
and certainly conquering the least of these

in the fire, and under the fall;

I backpedal there, sometimes even achieve
a neurotica of neurosis. And you the reader,

believe behind all these parts there is

a whole.
There's not.


The Greatest Achievement of Our Age is simply
a line of declarative statements that omit

all meaning except something like politeness,
whilst we expound the exponents of perspective.

And there is a perspective that there's not. Of
course. And there is, of an orange,

an orange I hold, peel, love briefly, and eat:

I know what is real when I taste what is real
and eat. My teeth puncture the skin

of the earth, of the whole universe;
there is enough dirt leftover . . .

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Let me introduce for you Judas,
as he winds through the produce
aisle in Whole Foods: looking for yellow

pears and lettuce for a salad:
his bed hair at 8pm a consortium
of the woman he slept with last

night and the wild look he's
been going for since he read Chabon's
book on literary style and being

a man - he's got his eyes set on
being healthy wealthy and wise,
the prize to be the gold herring of cool.

Open your mouth to the beer can,
draw that water in, draw it back out.
He's opining to be an opossum:

awesome, ain't it?

judas, me, need smokes

On your way home, honey, would
it please to buy Judas and me
some smokes? We have yet

to arm ourselves with clothes
and seriously face the day, but
seriously, who swings that way?

We've talked about you, lunging
from the sofa to the
broken yellow chair,

Icarus sailing above us,
all that golden-iron hair
I swear love, would you please

pick me Judas up some smokes?
The sea outside my window
is a-turning. He's gone blurry.

Come home. He's at my throat
and needs be me to relax,
needs not to make me choke

but now we're soaked, honey,
oh no! Come home! Fucking
come home: the flood from the rag

is rung, is rung

rolls of cotton (a gross poem)

Wrap me up
in rolls of cotton
until the swarming stops,
the hot turning of my eyes
and the dull ringing
filling my ears with cotton:
whole goddamn rolls of the stuff
whiter and denser
than a field full of toilet paper
made just to keep the shit
in my brains from pouring
all over us: the red
bloody brown shame.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

form and content

When looking for a form
to fit my poetry

I continue finding this querulous fact:

I know nothing: absolutely nothing
about form. Nothing at all.

They say form should fit content, but usually
I'm content when my ham & eggs fit

within the skillet in which I cook them,
but don't much want to taste the skillet.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

poured in the forms

Disambiguation: to remove
unmeaning from a word: a unit of conversion

from sound to conversation: absurd, née
Absalom, father of peace? bringer of death

oh father, father, daddy, Dad
I removed you; I miss you

am I through? no, Sylvia
not through. Well cooked. Over cooked

and not stopped at the burning (kept you)
or the poured into of forms


Your posture is a gesture
of disaster: poor

woman, thinking of the poorer man
who under all this is sleeping

like a log buried under depths of green
and black turbulent waters

your mother's been slogging through
for years now: I want to ask a question:

did she ever know the knowingness of love?
Or was it a maze of waves: one after the other

with a searing fear there wouldn't be
anymore when she surfaced

Thursday, January 6, 2011

dubliner jacket

I says to himself 'this is my dubliner
jacket' and walks out walking
towards sundown, carrying oranges in a sack
made of postconsumer recycled
recyclable paper. Brown paper, headed
west, that is, with
tangerines made out of who
knows what spice, and pesticides
(no pestilence, though!)
and perhaps sunlight
but maybes not, they don't need
that stuff these days

Doubled his chances of winning, too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

inexorable wal-mart-land

Found myself lost
in inexorable Wal-Mart-land.
Knew I was in for a real treat
as I flew from Bentonville
to Denver to Sea-Tac,
mostly motionless in the
great steel bird of modern hoorayism,
the what
that travelers on their way to make
and because of money use;
oh inexorable relentless
I'm gonna miss you.

if i'd done worse you'd have known

Outstretched in my gray
the winter night settles into the black sand
as I think of theft. Different thefts. I, having never taken

even once
still see things in the dark.
(Thieves that I'm thinking of) they persist the things
in the twirling unseen stars. These are still city stars.
Not stars, here.

I am in the dark, outside the city.
The three black plastic buttons
of my coat lock
me in for the night,
and are not enough.

if I'd done worse you'd have known

No stars here
around the fire, where

you've got to touch the flames to feel them