Sunday, September 23, 2018

How I’d Define the Thing

It doesn't have to entertain or sing,
although it mustn't bore. It mustn't
not suffice, and mustn't not deposit
you into a state of wanting more.
It mustn't not delight and mustn't not
unnerve, and if it serves up double-
negatives, it mustn't not confuse
a little. Mustn't not be visceral as
spittle; mustn't not be fully mouthed;
mustn't not allow the possibility
of getting lost and feeling found.
Mustn't not amend an error; mustn't
not be this: the only way, today, that
you can find to say what you imagine
isn’t not your terror and your bliss.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Word Made Text

Haphazard processes, creations idly stopped
just as they’d started forming, sometimes
saddled with accoutrements to whose
unfathomable use you can’t imagine
ever warming: this is the legacy you’re left.
This is what you have to think is you, bereft,
at first, of any notion of what could come next.
It strikes you that the obstacle, in fact, is “next” –
the word, the text, the problem is the word made
text which locks you into thinking anything you see
in it is true. No text knows you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Whispered to a Face on the Subway

But you do have comrades, whom
you notice on the subway perhaps,
who may even be "friends" in some way,

who know the toughness and the tragedy
and (to me above all) the sense of loneness
that New York does, I agree, insist

we deal with, and if there is a triumph
to be had, it’s that we’ve managed to stay
here – and consists mostly in what we have

done to be able to stay here and - this
struck me as something very true in you –
to know that were we to have to leave

we would miss it inconsolably: to know
that we would never have anything
elsewhere like the lives we have here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What Guy Turns Out to Be

Guy took the Orville Redenbacher guided
meditation first: consumed a whole
pack of the popcorn maven’s butter/salt
variety popped in the microwave –
whose sly subliminal suggestion,
(without question, Orville promised)
would transmute through his digestive
tract a vision of the thing Guy really was.
All Guy had to do was take a post-snack nap
while Orville did what Orville does.
Guy awoke to feel the crack and zap
of the recovery, in his imagination’s optic
depths, of the discovery – expressed
with an exquisite visual sonority:
as if delivered from the glory of an ancient
Greek Elysium – what Guy can now say
on the best authority he is: part tiny
jellyfish, part giant paramecium, part
jockstrap from a gym. That’s what Guy
turns out to be. Makes perfect sense to him.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bifteck Saignant Avec Buerre Blanc

Today what you don’t know
Is what you didn’t know and wouldn’t
Know and may not know you hadn’t
Known when you had thought
You’d known enough, but hadn’t
Learned the first thing you would
Need to know to know what you could
Say you knew about where you are now.
Yo! (whew!) Où es tu maintenant?

Had you been under oath,
That is, if you had not been loath
To wed yourself by oath to vow
To tell the truth and nothing but the truth
Just now, you’d have to have resorted then
To vow in answer to the query ‘what words
Rhyme with now?’ (grâce à Dieu, pas
«maintenant») the only word that came
To you (came then to you, that is, not now)
Was how. Apart from vow. And, oh yes, cow.
They said, “oh no! Not cow. Don’t even think
About the cow.” Too late, you’d thought it.
“You ought,” they said, “more strictly to have
fought it.” Damned vow. If only you could
Now say you forsook to take the vow!
But wait! You never took it.
So go ahead, think Cow – Bifteck
Saignant Avec Buerre Blanc! – and cook it.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Song of Sight

Our expectation that how what we see
is a priori everybody’s optical reality
begs us, when we discover we are wrong,
to ask the gods who wrote this song
why what appears to someone’s vision bright
to someone else’s seems devoid of light –
why shapes which seem to me more vague
than fog will clog your vision in a plague
of edgy scraps in painfully exact detail.
Sigh? Meet wail. How does this avail?
“We don’t write the song of sight,” the gods reply.
“You write it every night. Inside your eye.”

Thursday, September 13, 2018


At first it seemed an awfully awkward sobriquet: his retinue
said he’d requested them to call him ‘Bringer.’ He specialized
in bringing you to brinks. He collected hangers-on – coaxing
in them the perspective that by hanging on and in they could
inspect whatever next and necessary dawn they’d need:
and they would always need another one of those. The brink
they brought me to was not a rift between the night and day,
or poetry and prose: the lift they taught was what it meant
to generate a breathing thought. Only then might proverbs once
again begin to reign, only then could Word approach the Flesh
to gird the cosmos with its latticed diction, syntax, joined ecstatic
differences: the gone, the here, the old, the new, now steamed
into a life-begetting stew, to swallow which would be what
a Communion symbolized, and was:  the sole soul food –
the stealth and wealth of soul, the art the heart imparted. I’ve
no idea, of course, if this is what they had intended to convey.
All I can say is by the time I put my pen away, they had departed.
I nearly said summarily. Assonant with verily. Capricious fizz,
this tic, this busy and delicious specious-seeming rhetoric.
Elegance is awkward. Is that what meaning is? An irrepressible
reflex, a spill of speech? Is that what they had come to teach?