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?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Palace of Sleep

What do we learn in the palace of sleep?
What happened there, really, to Alice?
And Dorothy Gale in Kansas and Oz?
And Dante when he went to hell?
Is it all biological spell? Dizziness,
bizziness, nothing but synaptic tap dance?
Nothing but absence of malice? But, really,
what happened to Alice? Or us when we
sleep and we dream and conceive
and forget how we yearn to return to
the uterus – Is it all to remind us we know
where to go when at last we must leave?

Monday, September 10, 2018

With Smucker’s Sweet Strawberry Jam

Can we have a thought without seeing it?
Is it more like a wind in the mind?
Can you know anything without being it?
Is it only ourselves that we find
when we look at whatever we see?
Is every iota inimitable?
Or is All indistinguishably
just the same – illimitably indivisible:
an infantile game where whole equals part?
Are we irrefutable unity?
Is anything breeding a soul or a heart?
Can we look into this with impunity?
Or will some oligarch at the scent of dissent
march in with a threat to exterminate flies
it can swat and get rid of – more likely attempt
to relieve us of hope: believe in his probable lies?
Bad dream? So what? Spoon up some ice cream
with Smucker’s sweet strawberry jam,
and even if Real is revealed as Fake Scheme,
let’s bake, carve and eat it like Ham.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Wreakin’ Havoc in the Atelier

When the writer who reads is the reader who writes,
you can’t count the nights that they’ll huddle like thieves
who pretend that they’re heart-to-heart bro’s while pick-
pocketing tricks from each other’s tight mix of discoveries,
careful to choose what they set up as mildly “offkey” small
moments that maybe the other one hadn’t quite gotten quite
right; all the while planning – with spiteful delight – to slip in
the same ploy the plot of the book under scrutiny used
to hook boy up to boy up to horse up to lady of no small
renown in a town not unlike the one one of them just had
suggested was, not to put too fine a point on it, grievously
wrong. The lies were meticulous, and quite ridiculous:

after all, reader-who-wrote and writer-who-read shared
the same body and slept in one bed. But when writer-who-
reads is reader-who-writes is writer-and-reader-who-draws –
well, get ready to watch that wreak havoc with everyone’s laws.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Philomène’s Filaments

When Philomène began to grow her flowing filaments –
spewing tendrils which connected to the rest of everything –
inclined themselves immediately to whatever they could reach –
entwined with nothing that had not appeared to wait for them –
and everything appeared to wait for them –
she understood she’d breached a gap she’d never known about –
and that we all unconsciously were leaping over all the time.
As if surrounded by an orange-crimson mirror, she could see
herself align with everything she now could see around her –
what the deities are made of, dine on, pass to all
who also see – the rare hors d’oeuvres of predilections all of us
experience but none of us know how to say – none of us, that is,
except the prescient Philomène, as she began to witness all
the filaments she constantly sent out – and that we
send out, too – and which she found the words for, but can’t say
to me or you. We aren’t ready yet, we wouldn’t know what we
were hearing, couldn’t yet make out the sky she saw, so gloriously
fire-yellow-red. We can’t begin to take that in. We aren’t dead.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

To Not Know to What

Whatever’s alive that’s aware it is here
From the sentient biota we’d find very queer
In dimensional realms of which we’ve no idea
To all of the rest of the human regime
Whatever the brand of religion or scheme
For explaining This Thing (is it real or a dream?)
It ends up in the same conversation
To wonder how it can’t not be devastation
To not know to what you can prove you’ve relation.

Monday, September 3, 2018

If It Wants You

The Sex Thing perversely had got
him. He was sixty-seven years old!
How had he suddenly turned into hot?
Temperate, pale, grey more than gold,
he now causes trances: his glance claws
its way to the gut of a male. He’s a sexual
destiny now! Surely this breaks the laws
of what’s apt, defies the contextual
walls meant to stop him from acting
as if he could ever be ardently loved
for his flesh: instead this exacting
profusion of lusts, lavishly shoved
into bulges, tumescently running
a new porno show – but whose?
He feels like a puppet, a stringed thing,
lit match in the dark: but he’ll choose
to excite and incite till he can’t. Some
fiat decrees: don’t buy only sell,
keep the dough. Don’t let And become
But. Let heaven keep giggling at hell.
If rhymes made him up, they’d be easy
and languid. They’d sway, and they’d say:
“Be as breezy as we and as subtly sleazy.
If it wants you, don’t get in its way.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

But Wait!

If things happened
as strangely
as they do in dreams,
would the unbelievable
begin to be believed?
Could in some manner
any understanding
be achieved?
Would I be able somehow
to clue into you?
If things happened
as strangely
as they do in dreams –
but wait!
What could I mean?
They do.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

C’mon baby, show ‘em

There’s a poem in here and they know it.
Though experience tells them I’ll blow it.
(Six or seven times.) Every last thing is a poem.
Especially this: it rhymes! C’mon baby, show ‘em.
Catch the form and pay the fee.
This one’s a composite-of-ghost-faces tree.
Produits de l’esprit et l’imagination en français.
Deux têtes dans le feu*, the rest held at bay.
I don’t know how much is resistance
and how much amounts to persistence
in wanting to barge through to tantalize.
Ambiguities easily paralyze.
But ambivalences have a chance.
Though often as not they will split your hot pants
at least you’ll have something to show.
The vagina may smile but the penis won’t grow.
Poems aren’t sex, you know.
*products of the mind and the imagination in French.
Two heads in the fire.