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.