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.