Friday, December 31, 2010


Having done what
winter demanded,
we tried to resurrect
ourselves in time

for spring's rehearsal.
A lilac let its
petals be a
metaphor for cruelty.

Nothing stopped the
river in its tracks (the
dam we built was
smaller than its task).

An aging owl lit
out in search of wisdom.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The seventh sense is
the ability to forget
everything in time for
death. Not as easy

as it sounds if
death's in a hurry.
Wipe your feet before
entering your coffin

and discreetly deposit
samples of yourself
in everybody's memory.
Now you are as ready as

it's possible to be under
these troubling circumstances.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


First thing I do
when I waked up
in the morning is
check to make sure

it's not the first
day of my death.
So far it hasn't
been. I can always

tell by the way
the light leans
and rocks ever

so gently in the
direction of tomorrow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


My idea of what
time it is ticks
the hours away
as I listen to the

universe rehearse
its reason for being.
else happens

outside the circle
I've drawn around myself
to shoo the crows away.
The moon makes

its unlikely face, then
erases it out of habit.

Friday, December 24, 2010


If I were a
carpenter and
you were a lady,
I'd have a hammer,

and you'd be off
somewhere trying on
a new dress. I'd
drive a nail into

a piece of wood that
seemed to need one,
and you'd phone
some friend to come

over for tea. I'd die
eventually, and so would you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Token night sheds
its oily feathers.
Adages hatch for
no discernible reason.

It wasn't always
like this. Once,
when the sun still
understood why it

shone, I leapt
from tree to tree
as if destined
never to die.

My idea of what
time it is has changed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Avoiding the unavoidable
is a trick no one
in his right mind
can master. If you

want to master it,
you have to abandon
your right mind in
favor of your left

or wrong mind, whichever
one you feel more
uncomfortable in. Once
in the mind you've chosen,

imagine the unimaginable into
a mind it can't be in.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


If only only weren't the word after if so much of the time. If only this. If only that. It's an obvious waste of only's time, as only only can tell you. Also this. Not quite that. If only that that were the that that it seems unable to be.

Even her ghost
gets what it wants
when it wants it.
Gliding down the hall

on ghost grease, it
plucks what it chooses
from the choices
we're too frightened

to make. What could
have happened didn't
because of her.
The final straw is

hers. She uses it
to break the camel's back.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Someone who doesn't
know who I am
knows everything
about me in a dream.

I've tried waking up
by sitting up in
the middle of the
dream. But when

I sit up, I turn
into a glass statue
that looks like me.
Someone who doesn't

know me knows everything
about me in a dream.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


In the rearview
mirror I see your
white flag waving
goodbye. Maybe

we'll meet again
in some unimagined
future around some
unimagined corner

we'll have turned.
Maybe not. Maybe
that's what the
future is, a white

flag in the rearview
mirror waving goodbye.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

for Paul Hoover

According to Paul,
absence exists as
more than a mere
receptacle to deposit

presence in the way
you would a dime into
a blind man's tin cup.
What Paul's trying

to say (I think) is
that absence has
to already be there
for presence to be

able to enter, that absence
is tantamount to being.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Some people exist mainly in their minds. I think of Beckett sending himself away so he could be alone. What was he thinking? And of Derrida and Wittgenstein running circles around themselves in an almost silly attempt to recreate themselves in time to destroy what remained with a few choice thoughts.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


My goal when I was
young was to die
at the edge of a
precipice, having

resisted the urge to
jump. My post mortem
acrophobia dictated
that I imagine

myself as simply
slumping into myself
at that instant. Ever since,
I have always pictured

death as a simple
slumping into oneself.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

for Halai, Hosai, and Sayeda

There are so many
blank pages on which
she is not yet aware
of her beauty, has

not yet walked into
the mirror as if
entering a room her
equal can't gain

access to. A rose
that wanted to be
her in a poem has
had its request denied.

What she will do next
next to no one knows.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Going into a church,
I find nothing
made of God there.
There are substances

enough (gold, wax,
colored glass, and
the like), but nothing
made of God.

I leave and return
to a thing made of
God that's everywhere
else. I'm careful not

to touch it for fear
of becoming immortal.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


One of a poet's jobs, perhaps her or his only real job in this day and age, is to reinsert the mystery.

She spoke only in
echoes, not by choice,
but because she had
been wed at an early

age to the theology
of elastic speech.
Whatever I read
to her, she recited

back to me, word
by tired word.
When I sat down,
she was on my lap,

repeating my name
to anyone who'd listen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Les Femmes d'Alger, Djamila 2, by Asad Faulwell


We don't have to defend what we like or don't like (was it Aristotle who first said so?), unless, of course, we're in an art appreciation course. "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like" is a defense I often hear from people who are also uncommonly proud of having finally mastered the elusive art of breathing.

As I wandered through
her maze of dilapidated
symbols, I could
feel my memory

letting go of its past.
Other things disturbed
me too. Sound,
suddenly silver and

disconnected from itself,
slid like mercury
irretrievably away. So
much for hope, I

thought, unable to
believe in any exit.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


At least I know
now (because of my
age) that I will die
an old man when

I die. My current
goal is to die an
older man than I
am now. And when

I'm older, my goal
will be to die an
even older man. When
I was young, my

goal was to never
die at all. Youth!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


If I were a painting,
I'd probably be an
abstract landscape
with question marks

hidden behind ever bush.
But maybe not. Maybe
I'd be a minimalist
rendering of nothing's

second cousin, or a
knuckle-headed nude
on the wall of someone's
parlor. I'm pretty sure

I wouldn't be a still life.
I'm much too restless for that.

Monday, December 6, 2010


My mother screamed
when the phone refused
to ring (I guess she
was expecting a call).

She jumped out of her
skin when the angel
appeared to her, not
every time, but often

enough that the angel
grew cranky in the
end and refused to
tell her what he had

been sent to announce.
His name was Gabriel.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


When reading a poem by Ron Padgett, I always wear these glasses I had specially made that allow me to see things upside down, inside out, backwards, and diagonally, all at the same time. It doesn't really help. My mind still somersaults in mysterious ways down the page behind my make-believe binoculars.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Nothing is as sweet
as the sweet pea,
not even the sweet
william or the blue

bonnet that blossomed
above a woman I
used to be kind
of in love with.

I gave her a sweet
pea once and grew
excited when she
exclaimed, "How sweet!"

She may be dead by
now, since I am old.

Friday, December 3, 2010

for Monireh

She died before she
woke, having asked
God just in time
to take her soul

for a keepsake.
No one knows her
now except as
absence. But

everyone knew her
when. When water
wept to see her.
When bluebirds

flew over the rainbow
and back again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Today's theology, with its bumper sticker recommending baby-stepping tippy-toed belief, as opposed to yesterday's mountain-moving plunges into darkness, is subject to periodic review by whoever the current Snake Charmer happens to be when the bell either tolls or refuses to toll.

I can almost hear
time exhaling in the
next room. Wrinkles
begin to accumulate

around the edges
of the only soul
modern metaphysics,
with its limited range,

has deemed plausible.
Coffee helps, but only
a little, and only
for as long as

it takes for the
ticking to stop.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


As the ground became
increasingly inevitable,
he began to appreciate
the subtle difference between

flying and falling.
I was, sadly, the
last in a life-long
series of last-second

realizations. But
was it the most
important one? Possibly,
though the question of

relative importance remains
ultimately a matter of taste.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


In the greatest "as
though" ever, a night
I lie down in turns
out not to be death,

but a dream
of not waking up.
Sainthood surprised
me with its dull

knife. Ecstasy
sings its song
as if love were
a room in which

Naomi waits
impatiently for dawn.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I write about death a lot in my poems to make you think about death so I won't have to. Sorry.

Sometimes I let my mind
graze in the neighbor's pasture.
His grass is a lot greener
than mine, and his wife's

a woman any man in
good health would be
foolish not to covet.
I have to use a road

less traveled by to get
to the neighbor's place
because of a wall he's
built between us.

Earth's the right place for
man. For woman too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


We have to stop meeting
like this. In my poems,
I mean. It's not so much
that people have begun

to talk (we've never
cared about what others
thought of us) as that
there may be other, more

interesting places to meet.
At Starbucks, for example,
over matching cups of
cappuccino. At the corner

of Anywhere and Vine,
where people touch and go blind.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm postmodern when it suits me and modern, or even ante-modern, when I'd rather. What are you going to do about it?!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Like a one-way
palindrome to nowhere,
I circle back
into myself,

repeating what goes
without saying so
many times that
no one believes

a word I say
anymore in defense of
this tiresome journey
in the direction of what will

almost certainly turn out
to be the next village.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


This constant bickering over poetry, what it is/isn't, must/can't be, is becoming tedious to those of us not pursuing tenure in an MFA program. So let's settle it once and for all: There are two kinds of poems: those that are and those that are not worth reading.

A sea that speaks
to us about more
than we had imagined
(but still not half

as much as we had
dreamed) is silent
tonight. Prophecy
propels us toward

a collision with what
no one in her right
mind would believe
(or his right mind).

It's just a measure of
where we are and aren't.


It's always interesting to see which poems poets have left out of their "Selected Poems". Maddening, too, of course, since they inevitably leave out one or two poems you had considered (and still consider) among their best, while leaving in a few you'd rather not have to read again.

Friday, November 19, 2010

for Jerry

Was death just your latest
excuse for not getting
up in the morning? I
remember once on a

Sunday morning (after
a Saturday night had
lasted too long) Mother
got tired of trying

to shake you awake
and finally came in
with a glass of water
she poured over your

face. You wiped yourself
dry with the blanket and slept.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Let me tell you a
story. On second
thought, no. Let
me show you a

snapshot I took
of water before it
found out what it
was. Notice how

envious it is of
everything around it,
of all those so-called
"other" things than it.

Wish I had a snapshot
of the two of us becoming.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Water we poured
through your funeral
came out the other
end as wine. Next

time we'll try harder,
if there is some kind
of "next time". Otherwise,
we won't. Someone caught

snacking on communion
wafers in the pantry
was asked to leave this
really cool death party

we threw in your honor.
Hope you enjoyed our grief.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Mother rearranges
the furniture between
fainting spells. She's
feeling sacred again,

so not even Wanda
can tell her anything.
Her heart's a room
whose lights

blink on and off.
She wanders
the halls in a gown
of bliss, tracing

the flight of a bird with
a finger that wants to know.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I have a damaged cathedral
to store my chances in
and a faint hope to lean on.
But I still tend to be

less than can be counted on
when the daydream fizzles.
There's an overused lightning
bolt I'm careful to avoid.

The distance between devotion
and the initial cause of
things expands, but I keep
a two-bedroom

belief in the possible under
my pillow just in case.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Having plenty of toilet
paper in reserve makes
one feel loved and
oddly inappropriate

at the same time.
If nothing brings about
an earlier collapse than
expected, everything

uneventful should stay
outside the circle.
The brief pause we
call life has been

cleverly positioned between
being and becoming.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Criminals hide by
being us, then leave
when the coast is clear.
A gentle dream on

mental wings lights
softly on your breast,
your wish a candle I
haven't blown out but will.

Land begins where
the water ends, while
the pirates, from whom
my thoughts are fleeing,

slip quietly away on a
memory slick with pretending.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Seems the harder
I try the whiter
my hair becomes.
I keep trying anyway

for fear of a different
darkening, an unused-to
stumbling into stillness.
My neighbor, whose name

turns dark when I whisper,
rebuilds a fence between
us I'd torn down. I'm
not sure why we do

the things we do or
don't before we sleep.

Monday, November 8, 2010

for Elaine Equi

The still life he ate
and replaced with an
apology (thanks, Elaine)
tasted even better

than it looked. And,
of course, it sounds
great when we paint
it with our ears

(inner or outer,
depending on whether
we read the poem aloud).
Sight, taste, sound, smell.

We hold those plums
in our hands.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The brain, knowing
it can never come
down here, not even
through the gap uncertainty

leaves in things, reaches
out for something out
of reach. A hole
in the middle of this

closes faster than an eye that
doesn't like what it
sees. The body drags
an old hammer from

its tool chest and drives
a longer nail into itself.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Trees that came
and placed themselves
in her were not
responsible for what

happened after that.
She was upset,
yes, and more than
a little surprised.

But no one, not
even the trees, could
have anticipated that
heaven would open

up without warning and
wish her through its gates.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


In death's pure dark
the end at least is
clear. Everything near
is far away, of course,

as the faint scent
of joy lingers in
the nostrils like a
saint. I sense what's

next the way a calendar
knows what's coming.
The best of us forgets
herself, dissolving

into the rest of us like
a leftover question.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


As I try again to
memorize your absence,
midnight returns, all
elbows and animals.

You are as beautiful
as the bare necessity
you become when
I'm alone, waiting

for the song to
continue, the one
you refused to sing
in my presence,

but now insist on singing
in your absence.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Assuming you could see
me and knew my name,
would you fall deeply
in love with me or

just leave and chalk
everything up to experience?
Listen, I can't promise
anything, but I'm

pretty sure if I saw
you and knew your
name, I'd jump off
a bridge to impress you.

Then we could have dinner
or something. A movie.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


An unlikely definition
you had of love
was a slender
thread connecting this

to that. Edges
you left behind
refuse to turn around.
I've rearranged that

spot that used to
fit you like a glove.
This offhand
mention of you

in my mind makes
a dent in the dark.

Monday, October 25, 2010


A bird decays in mid-air.
Dust and a few feathers
filtering down from above.
Meanwhile the bird
continues on through the city,
pecking out windows,
popping light bulbs with its beak,
while in sixteen darkened bedrooms
boys with gleaming rifles
begin bouncing bee-bees
off the bleached skulls of their mothers.
In other words, midnight.
In other words, the earth
hatches a silence
which is bird-like.
A small, feathered silence
that spreads its razor-like wings
and skids
along a seam in the night.

Recapping the rose's
rise to fame requires
one to start somewhere
in the middle of the

Middle Ages. Not in
the exact middle necessarily
(which would be hard,
if not impossible, to

locate), but somewhere
near the middle of
the middle of the
so-called Middle Ages.

Yes, there, next to
Walther von der Vogelweide.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


If I should die
before I wake,
trash collection
is on Tuesday,

and I may have
left the motor
running on the
car. If that sounds

a little bizarre,
please understand
that life tends to be
a little bizarre in the

twilight years. And, oh
yes, I pray the Lord my...

Friday, October 22, 2010


Finding a good alibi's
an art like everything
else in life. The secret's
in the wrist. Think

of a good alibi as
a curveball or slider
that breaks so late
the batter has no chance.

Knuckleballs are best,
of course, when it comes
to alibis. They don't
"break" exactly. They

"bounce" off the air
like a broken balloon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


In the dark relief
your shadow offers
I ponder what's
left of the future.

Water not only
under, but well
past the bridge,
reminds me of

what's been. As the
cemeteries fill up
around me, I dig a
hole in the backyard

and stand over
it looking down.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Having followed you
to the edge of your
footsteps and stopped,
I understand where

longing belongs and
gladly deposit it there
for safe-keeping.
I hope you have grown

young enough by now
to recognize ecstasy
again and to appreciate
(as we all should)

how busy history is
escaping from our books.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Communion wafers drifting
down like snow from
the rafters. Other than
that, just another evening.

I think I told you
about George, who wasn't
where we left him
(when is he?), and about

Emily, who buried
herself in the back yard.
And the gradual accumulation
of gravity, of course,

around the edges, slowly
pulling us in.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I've been rereading Elaine Equi's poems. A unique poet with an unusually wide range. She can be witty (even silly at times), poignant, profound (sometimes all three in the same poem). Always sassy and in-your-face. I recommend her.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


My eyes crawl like ants
over Cezanne's delicious
fruit. It must be August
again. The months fly by

so fast now it's almost
always later than I think
(earlier than I dare dream,
though, now that I

actually do think).
Time to turn off
the gas again and live
longer than my parents

did or could, who had
no way of knowing.

The mortician's daughter
in the town I grew
up in was hot.
We all wanted her.

Sort of. Maybe she
was blond or something,
or maybe she had
big, you know, eyebrows.

I honestly don't remember.
But I do remember she
managed to be hot, despite
what her father did

to our dearly departed before
dropping them into the darkness.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Suppose a nose
(the kind that grows,
Pinocchio's) rose
up and said,

"Enough!" Suppose
that then something
less predictable happened.
Could that same nose

still smell a rose
that smelled as sweet
under an assumed name?
No thing is ever the thing

it seems to be in dreams.
Not even a can-opener.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


There's something to be
said for familiarity.
I like the sun
in the sky during

the day and prefer
it gone at night.
To have it otherwise
is, in fact, to scare

the daylights out of me
(when I have any).
Rain should continue
being wet while

drought is busy wringing
itself out thoroughly.

Monday, October 11, 2010


You had me at "hello",
but then you said
something else that I
didn't like nearly as well

as I had liked your
"hello" (the "hello"
was a really good one),
so I never called you

like I said I would.
Sorry about that. In
case we should ever
run into one another

again, I'd appreciate it
if you'd stop at "hello".

Keep track of what
you want in a book
that has no title.
Gaze historically

at the last apple
on the tree. Die
making up lies
about how tall

you were before the accident.
Snow will fall when
it does because that's
what the weather wants.

Turn into who you were
before you try again.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


When the mirror begins
resembling you too closely,
look away. Save what's
left for another day, knowing

it will be there when you
need it. What won't be
there won't matter much,
stuck, as it always is,

in the all-but-used-up
future tense of time.
Redeem your coupons
while you may.

Don't do anything
while you mayn't.

My father began
by erasing everything
too good to be true
from his life. That

left him with us,
and, though he read to
us every evening, we
remained quite a bit

stranger than fiction.
That's why, I guess,
he made up stories
about who we were

and why, in the final
analysis, he died dreamless.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I left work early
because of the alien
invasion (which turned
out to be just another

tabloid invention). Since
I had some time on my
hands, I went to see
the six-headed Jesus

around the corner
(another tabloid invention?),
but the line was
too long, so I

left reality behind
and went to the movies.

When I see a male saint
flagellating himself,
I always wonder
what he had for breakfast.

When I see a female saint
surviving on thin air,
I stop and ask
if she knows what

time it is. She
usually does, but
refuses to tell me
for fear I may be

the answer to some prayer
she's forgotten to recite.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I probably shouldn't be
telling you this, but
after you die, you will
go straight to heaven

(whatever that means)
and stay there forever,
happy as a clam, if
you go to the bank

first, withdraw all
your money (including
that money you had
been planning to save

for a rainy day) and
send it all to me.

We put food in our
mouths, chew and swallow
it because it tastes
good or because we

want to live past yesterday.
I did. I lived past
yesterday today.
I might do it again

tomorrow if I have
time and if the
vegetables don't taste
so bad that I have

no choice but to spit
them back onto my plate.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Walk down a different
street if you want
to meet someone different.
If you would prefer

not to meet anyone,
walk down a deserted
street. Always walk
down the street

that leads to the
destination you are
trying to reach. If
you are not going

anywhere, stop.
You are probably lost.

The rhinoceros, of course,
ends with us not knowing
where the nose goes
while elsewhere a rose

goes on smelling sweet
without its name. (Would
we were the same.) The
'the' in 'there' might as

well be a 'duh' (almost
is, truth to tell). Hope
you're half as swell
as you often seem to

be in this dream I keep
having about the two of us.

Monday, October 4, 2010


When morning returns
(and it always has
so far), I like to
wake up and touch

it with my fresh idea
of what life, with
its squiggles, means.
I immediately forget,

of course, what life means
(since immediately
erasing every answer
is what I do best),

but I throw open the window
anyway to let the morning in.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I get up each
morning to grow
a day older without
trying. No

one notices but me,
nor should it matter
all that much to
anyone but me.

Others notice once
a year on what
they've dubbed my
"birthday". But it's

not my birthday. It's
noticeably later than that.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


My plan was no
one gets hurt no
matter what, but the
best-laid plans of

rascals and rodents
gang oft aglee, and,
if I must say so
myself (and how else

would I say so?),
people are dropping
like bumblebees (Tony
Curtiss just died

reportedly because he
didn't know how not to).

Friday, October 1, 2010


Because the air has been
replaced by music,
my car won't start.
I kick one of the round

rubbery circles the car
rests on and tell it to
get a move on. It
doesn't budge. Then my

pencils start thinking
they're something else
and don't jot down
some really great ideas

I suddenly find myself in
possession of. Then they do.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Yesterday I enjoyed
not raking the leaves
off the lawn almost
as much as I enjoyed

not having a lawn
to rake the leaves off
of (I live in a condo).
I'm pretty sure I'll

enjoy not painting
the kitchen tomorrow
even more than I enjoyed
not painting it last

year about this time because
another friend had just died.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


My mother, lighter
in death than life
let her be, leaves
no tracks as she

tiptoes down the
path less traveled
by she tried
to make a difference

on. Not much
of a difference, mind
you, just enough
of one to make us

mindful of the distance
between here and now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


If I weren't so busy,
I'd devote more time
to not doing more
of the things I've

always enjoyed not
doing. Being on time,
for example, bores
me in a way I won't

go into here because
I don't have time. Saying
what I mean when
what I don't mean

sounds a lot more interesting
is an even better example.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


On one of the numerous
occasions when I was not
kidnapped by Indians
I came across an article

entitled "No, Not This".
I didn't read the article
(for reasons that should
be obvious) and have continued

not reading it to this day.
Yesterday I didn't die again.
I may not tomorrow either,
though tomorrow is, of course,

purely hypothetical. I'm planning
to not visit Mars again next week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My friend John, a retired
homicide detective, said that
he and his partner were sent
to investigate a complaint.

A woman had called to report
that her next-door neighbor
hadn't been seen for days
and that her dog was making

a lot of noise from inside the house.
Forcing their way into the house,
my friend and his partner found a woman
dead on the kitchen floor, her dog

having eaten what John lovingly
described as "the best parts of her".

Sunday, September 12, 2010


What annoys me most is the number of dead poets out there who are still breathing. No, I'm not saying what you think I'm saying, and, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

I once walked a mile in someone
else's shoes before noticing my
mistake. I immediately turned
around, retraced my steps, and

replaced the shoes outside someone's
door. It could have been anyone's
door, I guess, but it wasn't. It was
someone's door. The

shoes had been left there
for someone else to shine.
I wasn't someone else,
so I didn't shine the shoes.

I just left them there,
outside someone's door.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paul Hoover

Paul Hoover, one of my two favorite poets and a long-time friend, has just won the Frederick Bock award for a group of poems that appeared in the June 2010 issue of Poetry Magazine. Congratulations to Paul. The poems are great!

Zhora Drif 2 by Asad Faulwell 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010


Lately I look at life
through a periscope,
peering up through
myself to where

the others congregate.
Angels and angles
trade places when
I twist the scope

this way,
that way.
about who they are,

they take turns turning
into what they aren't.

Friday, September 3, 2010


When i think
about how many
miles there are
between me and

the most distant
stars, I get
nervous and then
fall asleep. Or

I fall asleep
first and then
get nervous about
being asleep with

so many miles to
go before I sleep.

Every night I curl
up into what is
left of me and sleep.
One night I didn't.

I painted the kitchen
instead, reminding myself
all the while of the
insomniac Madonna

we called "Mom".
When the sound of a
vacuum cleaner woke
us up at three, we

assumed the moon was full
and burrowed back into ourselves.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

for Hosai

I had an idea and
a sob. I threw
the idea away,

it would come back
another day, the way
it does when I'm lonely.
But I'm only lonely

when I'm only.
And I'm only only
when you're not here
and when, for whatever

reason, a sigh duster
tosses my sob away.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


A touched dog wags
automatically. He
eagerly awaits
what no one wants.

He's no cat, the touched
dog, trapped in no mystery
beyond the bone he
buried by mistake.

His memory's a mine
shaft he falls into in the dark.
The touched dog is
only what you think he is,

a sleeping pet someone let
lie at the feet of man.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Sometimes I purposely
spend a whole week not
doing something. It could
be anything. Flying

to the moon, for example,
though not flying
to the moon's not
as exciting as some

of the other things
I don't do. Guessing
the location of every
goat in Mongolia,

for example. I don't
do that a lot these days.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Realizing how many
of the stars I see
are no longer there
makes me wary

of sitting down
on this chair,
which may
or may not be there.

I always try
(we all do,
I suspect)
to mean more
than mere words
can manage.

The words
weighted down with
more than I can mean.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


What pleases me the most,
I guess, is guessing
the right answer to
the wrong question.

I prefer it to anything
vice versa, although
holding the winning ticket
to the wrong raffle

can be fun if it's
not too sunny.
If it is (too sunny),
I put my sunglasses on.

Then I eat dinner,
but only if I'm hungry.

It recently occurred to me
that not dying is a lot
of fun. I try to do it
by not doing it as much

as I can. Other stuff
gets in the way, of
course, like golf, which
I don't play and wouldn't

enjoy if I did because
of all the sand traps
and artificial lakes.
I'd rather go to the beach

and not swim than spend
the whole day not playing golf.

The best part of any
act of contrition
is the pleasure
it deposits in the next

room. No one can
go there, of course,
there being no "there"
to go to. But everyone

wonders just the same.
It's as if something
that didn't matter did,
but then stopped mattering

as soon as someone
turned to look at it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


When shooting an arrow,
allow for the wind.
Before predicting the future,
erase what cannot happen.

When cutting corners,
avoid invisible pitfalls.
Before climbing a tree,
check for bashful bears.

When breaking bread,
tiptoe past the penthouse.
While leaning this way or that,
embrace unlikely lovers.

When doomed to happen again,
proceed without your pistols.

Monday, August 23, 2010


A new set of rules
has moved in next door
and barks like a rotten
philosopher. Nothing

can be done about this
because, as the wind
reminds us, rules
are rules and breaking

them leads to sorrow,
calamity, and other
niceties too numerous to
matter. I'm over here

minding my manners and
breaking promises one by none.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Sometimes my dog
barks at nothing.
Or barks at what
he thinks (wrongly)

is something. This
would be a lot truer
if I had a dog. But
I don't have one, and,

in fact, I'd like take
this opportunity to congratulate
myself on not getting one.
I can't tell you how wonderful

it is not to have to listen
to all that barking.


We begin the day thinking
we will write a sonnet.
But how quickly everything
turns to prose. Quiet
letters at the beginning
tell us that. What
else do they tell us?
That we are careless,
too careless perhaps?
That life is like that,
a gradual turning
to prose? Then
each of us must take
a stand, pro or con,


and if the judgment goes
against us, well, that's
life, isn't it? We die,
and our death is described
in prose, because when
you come right down
to it, we weren't important
enough for a sonnet.
And that's the sad thing,
death without a form
to funnel it into, getting
rid of it that way,
the way we would some
foul liquid no one


wanted to drink.
But can you blame us?
By now it probably has
little pieces of stink-
ing stuff all over it.
And who knows what
diseases are inside it
as silent as liquid bells,
but with fingers that
reach out to strangle
our most delicate whim?
And in the end what
can we do but swim
for it, and what


can we do in the end
but drown, hoping
a sonnet will bring
our death to something
great like a fast game
of baseball? And if it doesn't
happen, well, we mustn't
give up because there's
still prose to put it
into the way we would
some nose that wasn't
pretty or a car that
brought us nothing but grief
along that long highway of life.


Sometimes the beginning's
a true beginning.
Then everyone breathes
a little easier, heaves
a sigh as the rime
falls closer to the end.
And isn't that what we've
always wanted, time
that we could bend
the way a plumber
does a pipe that
doesn't fit? Or
maybe that's not it
after all. Beginning's


are like that, never
betraying the end
until quite a bit later.
No, they are not
at all like the friend
who feels he's got
to tell us about the movie
we had wanted to see,
but can't now because,
let's face it, he's
robbed us of whatever chance
we had to experience
whatever it was we
thought we


wanted to experience.
Is it just by chance
that we now find
ourselves at the beginning
of sonnet number seven
(and that, in fact, the seventh
line is already upon us,
then gone like some
jet-propelled moment
we had wanted to savor
but couldn't because,
let's face it, "time
marches on")? Rime
does too, only


not quite as fast.
But does it matter?
Isn't this the twentieth
century, complete with
automobiles that almost
drive themselves and
"liberated" verse? Not
to mention bananas
(did I almost forget
to mention bananas?).
So you see, my friend,
rime isn't everything, and,
if we are lucky, life goes
on even in prose.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


More than anything else
life seems to be
a way of gradually forgetting
what the question was,
then sitting down
at the table
to eat what's left of dinner.

Friday, August 13, 2010


When someone you love
suddenly drops dead,
don't bother to finish lunch.
You can eat later.

In fact, you can do
everything later. Have to,
actually, because of some
definition of what's true.

You can't (I guess I'm
saying) do anything
earlier than now. If
you try (and some have,

apparently), you will
die sooner than before.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


The truth has a darkness
of its own to return to
after what happens happens.
I won't say it hides there,

but waves curling up
onto the shore have
no idea where it is.
Questions hanging like

hooks from the mouths
of those who care remain
unanswered. Things recently
forgotten refuse to turn

around in time to tell
us where we've been.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Writing as I always try
to out of nowhere,
I end up here where
you are. And though

I don't know your name
or why you breathe,
I use you to wonder
about things that

you aren't, but could be
if your hair were longer.
I hope this is okay
with you, and that

you're not secretly planning
to turn into who you aren't.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The setting of the sun
inside my body is slow,
though not imperceptibly so.

Dream water leaks
from what I think
I mean by "early".

Now is here and
here is now and
heaven is at hand.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Success chooses its victims
carefully, carving the correct
wound into each system.
The onlooker cannot

buy back his innocence.
Because it is all one,
it is everywhere,
but only as actual

as indifference allows.
The edge of your footprint
trembles as you contemplate
moving forward.

It is impossible to overestimate
the importance of standing still.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm not dead yet.
I will be, of course,
someday (I might be
now, as you're reading

this--I don't know when
the "now" you're reading
it in is). If I'm
already dead as you're

reading this, I hope
you'll forgive me for
having lured you into
reading it under false

pretenses. I didn't mean
to. I didn't know I was dead.

There's a lot to be thankful
for. We're not dead yet's
a good example (though
we will, of course, be

one day irrevocably).
I don't enjoy fishing
because I tend to see
things from the fish's

perspective. I always
think, "If I were a fish..."
Not being fish is
another thing we can

be thankful for, I guess,
though we, of course, are.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


An almost white, whispered
rumor of you is all
I had to go on. So
much for insufficient

beginnings. Word of you
had been heard escaping
through the usual cracks
in what we remember

of parting's sweet sorrow.
Under every surface
there is, of course,
a second surface we

can never quite get to.
I will look for you there.

Monday, July 26, 2010


The Romans liked making
water go where they wanted
it to. The Greeks by this
time didn't give a damn.

Hitler held a halo
of burnt Jews above
his head and said,
"Love me for who I am."

Amazingly, some people did.
Napoleon had his head
up his ass when he thought
he could conquer Russia.

Not even the Russians have
been able to do that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I can tell you must
be something special
because I have never
wanted to kill you

on Wednesday without
immediately regretting having
wanted to on Thursday.
I like you a lot every

Friday I see you on,
and I still set my
Saturdays aside just
in case you show up.

Sunday is my day
of rest. I'm not God.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


When he wakes up,
my father wants to know
why he died so early.
I never know what

to tell him. I make
up a story about the
inevitability of falling
out of bed at least once

in every lifetime. My
father doesn't believe me.
"I am your father,"
he reminds me

and cautions me again
not to count on much.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I don't feel ambitious
enough this morning
to rape an old
woman. Instead

I help her up
out of her chair
and into this walking
contraption she has

that keeps her from
toppling over
like a felled tree.
We are both

happy at my lack
of ambition this morning.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

MUHAJADAT #9 by Asad Faulwell


I remember once wondering
whether eating a peach would
be okay under the circumstances
I happened to find myself in.

I don't really remember much
about the circumstances, but
I remember quite vividly
the peach itself and what

it tasted like when I finally
got up the courage to
eat it under whatever the
damned circumstances were.

It tasted like a peach, a fact
for which I will always be grateful.

About a hundred yards
east of where eternity
fell into a rut yesterday
I found your damaged

angel. I picked it up,
of course, dusted it off
the way I normally do,
and brought it back to you.

We will, of course, start
over, the way we always do
in our two competing eternities.
If you get there first, of course,

I'll stop and wait for you
the way I almost used to.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


On the day we all
agreed to agree that
diamonds and gold
have value, a tree

appeared on the horizon.
The next day the tree
was gone, a victim
of what makes us wonder.

I am telling you this
not because of anything
actual, but because of
certain irregularities that

have been uncovered in
the center of what makes us real.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


People sometimes ask me who the "you" in my poems is. Except when the "you" is me, I don't think it's ever any one person, or even just one person necessarily. Sometimes it may be. I'm not exactly sure myself. It occurs to me that it might, in at least some cases, be what Martin Buber referred to as the "other".

Monday, July 12, 2010


I have often used
metaphor to relocate
from one useless state
of being to another, but,

to my credit, I have never
not enjoyed the illusion
such activity frolics in.
I have felt the soft

underbelly of the source
of everything not nailed down
and wondered where its
unexploded center was.

I have not yet had cause
to create myself out of nothing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

(David Lynch)

In heaven everything
is fine. You can buy
lunch there for a dime.
Get to it by bus

if you have to, or
aeroplane. Be on time.
In heaven happiness
explodes like an old

apple in a movie
(the one with oozing
eyes that are ickier
than they are lovely).

In heaven everything
barks louder than it bites.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


What's this I hear
about you failing
again to get near
enough to the railing

to fall overboard and drown?
It's hard sometimes to own
one's own success,
much less

the success that somebody else's.
Trying to take the pulses
of people with hearts
that race puts, I feel, a number of carts

before an equal number of horses.
And then we die, of courses.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Call me crazy,
but when I close
my eyes, I
become willing

to wait and see.
Uncertainty's as
solid as the trunk
of any tree.

And that's enough
for me when my
feet are on the ground.
I sometimes turn

around to see if I'm
still where I am.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Let this be the beginning
of something gaudy enough
to be greater, even, than God.
It is, after all, the birthday

of one who wasn't
here before his birthday.
(What cold days those
were, the ones you chose

not to be here on.)
How thankful we are
you decided to arrive.
It's not even close to when

it is when you're not here
being so absolutely only you.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


One of my better memories
is imprisoned in amber
like a semi-precious insect.
Do you remember me?

I was the one behind
the guy you insisted
on looking away from
at the dance. If,

by chance, our eyes
had met that night,
we might have met again
behind some billboard.

But you were looking elsewhere
at everything you saw there.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Nearing what may or
may not be an adventure,
we begin to listen
more attentively to silence.

It's hard to hear
what it doesn't say,
but easy to imagine
where it lives.

In a white house
much farther away
than meanwhile is.
At the other end of

endless, no doubt, near a
nick in the nick of time.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I love it when a thing
turns out to be not
worth doing, but only
when I haven't done it yet.

When I have done it
and it turns out to be
not worth doing, I
drop whatever I am

into the nearest bucket
and quickly wash myself.
Then I feel at least
a little wetter. This

seems to be happening every
other Tuesday at noon.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I like you, and I think
you are a nice person
because of the bubbles.
Perhaps there are other reasons,

too, I don't want to kill you.
The way excitement
sometimes wiggles out
of you on its way

to becoming a worm.
By the way, have I ever
remembered to remind you
what a pip I think you are?

I should have, and I could
have yesterday of all days.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


My hope is that seeing
the light will someday
become literal again
and that Christians

big and small will
begin slowly crucifying
themselves on a cross
of actual love. Kits

no one is using
will of course become
kites one can fly
in a sky that's windy.

That is my hope.
My nickname is Not Yet.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


The mirror that makes
us mortal matters
more than it should.
Or could, actually

if action had its way.
Life has this way
of filling up the time
between spurts with

nonsense. Nothing
comes into its own
in time to be sacred.
Events tend to round

the wrong corner,
erasing the available distance.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


My mother was an excessively devout Catholic, my father a devoutly stubborn agnostic. I was raised Catholic, but, being a male, gradually journeyed back into the footsteps of my father.

I did what a word
suggested in the dark.
The dry land stirs
beneath its timely mist.

She loved above all else
particles of transformation,
sewn like seeds
across the silent

soil of surrender.
So the air, pleasant
as ever, parted long
enough to let her in.

Now she is what white
birds whisper in the wind.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


We wander in and
out of what we mean,
managing the moment
as we go. As we go,

so goes our best and
only guess. Perhaps
we sleep too desperately
at times. Perhaps we're

apt to dream beyond
our means. The opposite
is far, I think, less
tenable than we are.

We wander in and
out of what we mean.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I prefer living
to being dead
as far as I know.
That's as far as I

know and everywhere
I go except when
I'm on fire.
When I'm on fire,

I go into the water
to put myself out.
I prefer being out
to being dead

everywhere I go
as far as I know.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


When it waxes, we weep.
When it wanes,we cry.
The difference is a disciple
of trying, an uninvited

guest of why we dream.
The heat's unbearable,
of course, because heaven's
always just around some

corner. The wind,
forgotten in its branches,
gets lost again looking
for us. Cold

stars describe what
won't be true about us long.

Light comes from me
in the correct way when
my head is on fire
and my feet are rooted

in darkness. I am more
myself at such moments,
which occur only as often
as accuracy allows.

When nothing is the case
(which is only the case
when you say so), I let
myself become you again.

Perhaps you notice me
inside you like a baby.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I remember how they found
you, in a dream, wrapped
in that old coat Agnes
let you look younger in.

You were the ex-president
of every event you attended,
though still longing for
more or less of the same.

Because your location
was a well-guarded secret,
we had to look for you
in all the wrong places.

Now we can't remember
who you were.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One Man's Opinion

A poem shouldn't be harder for me to read than it was for the poet to write. Just a thought. It seems to me that many of us are trying either too hard or not hard enough or both.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Somewhere inside my soul
I try to talk about this
in a way that will make
you be drawn to me.

I sing of the me you
are in one last
early try to let you live.
If I imagine myself

in your absence, nothing
manages to happen.
But in the wild light
of January I invite us

both into a secret sorrow
and turn the meaning off.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Paul Hoover

It was Paul Hoover who first introduced me to the works of Paul Hoover. Thanks, Paul. Paul's latest book of poems, 56 SONNETS, is magical, funny, and flarfy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Something superbly not this
may come for us after all.
The sky moves slowly
in the morning, picking

up speed as noon draws
near. I think I hear
an echo of the time
years ago when we set

out to discover dawn.
Naked men chew
the ground with their
hands as we pass by.

A yellow flower
turns to watch us die.

Monday, May 24, 2010


In defiance of
snow's solemnity,
a crow digs
a hole in the sky.

Dark water
out of the river.
Trees refuse

to step
aside or even
spread their wings
outside the closely

guarded gates
of ordinary things.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Being one of you
is knowing
what I know
at the only window

of the necessary
angel. Philosophers
visit young women
on their way

to the woodpile.
Reality solidifies.
Touching it
turns our fantasies

to clay, our inarticulate
eyelids into words.

Monday, May 17, 2010


An unusual haze,
having lingered for days,
rose up and started to change
into an animal so strange
hitherto empty phrases filled
themselves with meaning.

pierced the night
in spots the dark had missed.

Heating devices hissed
our warnings. Cleaning
fluid appeared where spilled
milk had splattered.

None of it actually mattered,
since the earth soon collapsed
into a gorgeous heap of ashes.


appeared in the shape

of a cod

fish eating a grape.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Djamila by Asad Faulwell 2010


Unmade mistakes wait
impatiently around the corner.
I think of a promise's
moist petals as I press

you into the pages
of this book. You were
wet when I met you,
alive with what mattered

more than breath.
Now you are paler
than the last memory
I have of you standing

outside, looking around
for traces of the air.

Monday, May 10, 2010


There was no time
left in my clock
(whose tick was missing)
when I went in

to check up on yesterday.
A door that didn't
close behind me seemed
not to know what to do.

The moon kept track
of what couldn't happen
(the dish and the spoon
both frozen in place)

as I carefully made my way
away from what seemed electric.

Hand me that grenade,
will you, Rose?
I want to drop it
down a hippo's throat
to see what else can happen.

Forgive me
in advance
if I die in your house.

I have tried
not to be

But we all
have to die
here, there,


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Because you are so much more
than you seem to see
in the mirror we call "you",
we'd like to take this opportunity

to remind you of yourself.
Look! There you are again
being brighter than April
in all its glory is. And

there you stand where only
you can be. Because we're not
you (since only you are), we'd
like to invite you to a

party we throw in your
honor every time we think of you.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Ropes of thing
around the neck
or next of now

remind me of a cow
that munches a speck
to railroad spring

into happening again.
Even if doom in my dream
bites the universe in two

I'll still be seeing you
through an obvious seam
in the rain.

Landscape and logic tweaked
by longing, a lunging, I guess
you'd call it, into the nearly
unknown. The perhaps wafted-

away no-color of days whose
ends are frayed. Then watching
a better-known version of it
still circling the drain long

after the plug has been pulled.
A kind of almost incomplete
spookiness that gives meaning
to it (without meaning to,

of course), because there is, after
all, no clear evidence of anything else.

Something almost wooden now
mimics a fear of forgetting to grow.
A not too noticeable cow

grazes in the meadow.
Excitement tries hard to wrest
indifference from its nest

above the fray. At night
everyone sings who can,
though the very sight

of something causes a man
to paralyze himself
and place his weapon on a shelf

just out of reach. Wow,
someone thinks with a half-
opened mouth, I'd love to eat that cow!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recent Treasures

Recent books I have greatly enjoyed: Barry Schechter's THE BLINDFOLD TEST (an amazing novel by an amazing writer). Paul Hoover's POEMS IN SPANISH (probably Paul's best book of poems ever). And Ron Padgett's YOU NEVER KNOW and HOW TO BE PERFECT (two great books of poems by the masterful Mister Ron).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ron, a Language Poet?

When my son, Said, took an English course at UC Berkeley taught by Lyn Hejinian, she said in one of her lectures that Ron Padgett was a language poet. Now, Ron has always been one of my favorite poets, maybe even my favorite poet, period. And I have never thought of him as a language poet. He is, I think, many kinds of poets at once, and that's one of the things that makes him so great. Yeah, there's some language poetry in him (or, I should say, some poetic techniques he uses that the language poets, who came later, have borrowed from him, John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch), but he has a lot of moves that the language poets don't have, and probably don't even approve of, since they tend to be a bit dogmatic in their attitude toward poetry. Interesting thing is that Lyn Hejinian is one of the few language poets whose work I actually enjoy reading, and I enjoy reading her work because, to me, it's not really all that similar to what is normally categorized as language poetry. Maybe we should stop attaching labels to poetry. Maybe it's enough to read a poem and either like it or not like it, or do something in between liking it and not liking it. Yeah, let's do that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Driving the meaning
as hard as I can into the
wood that keeps it,

I nevertheless insist
on being the one I am.
It's the same old similar

story: No one's ready
to leave. On the outer
boulevards, cars careen

into subtler ways of
solving some of the riddles.
Smudges appear all

over the place, replacing
the hands that held them.
Truth becomes this hole

hopes get funneled into.
An irresistible heaviness
in trees remains the same.

Monday, April 19, 2010

About (My) Poetry

I never think of myself as being part of this or that school or movement when I write poetry (or anything else). I'm not a language poet, except when I am. I'm not a poet of the New York School, except when I am. I'm not a traditional poet, except when I am. I'm not any of those things, except when I'm all of them.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Seems like it's always
almost morning out here
where the music is.
A stalled moment flows

in fits, then stops again.
A tree the wind's
trying to uproot
clenches its fist

in defense of inertia.
Horses share an old joke
in the only barn
that matters. A language

the light can't master
slowly translates itself.

Friday, April 16, 2010


There was a diamond
in my shit
this morning.
I don't know how
it got there.
But there it was:
a diamond in my shit.
Perfect blue-white,
I'd say.
Two to three carats,
I'd say.
I don't know how
it got there.
But I know
where it's going.
I'm going to eat it
There'll be a diamond
in my shit