Monday, December 31, 2012

After Bei Dao

We enter this world
with paper, rope,
and a shadow.
The shadow slowly

twists itself into
the shape of death.
Snow melts in
a song about

summer.  Reaching
up, a farmer pulls
wheat from the moon.
A flock of sheep

spills from the
meadow into morning.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tooth And Nail

The two lips
forming above
and below an
incision speak

the truth.  Blood
flows downhill,
delivering oxygen's
lifeboat to the sea.

An animal on the
run (turning to
daylight in a
hunter's rifle sight)

slows to a walk,
swallows itself.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

for Joe Green

Having sketched
what I thought
a prayer might
look like when

uttered inwardly
and then released
into the air like
a helium-filled

balloon, I took
up pen and paper
and wrote out
in longhand a

complete biography
of the world.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Every man's secret
ambition is to
wake up in time
for death.  A

woman's unfulfilled
wish stands at
the window and
waits.  We are

born naked
and buried in
borrowed clothes.
The answer everyone

knows is the
wrong answer.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Sometimes late at
night you can
feel the universe
shudder as it

wonders where
the exit is.
Then, if all
goes well, you

fall asleep in
the dent you've
made in your
bed.  You wake

up swimming
in light.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

After Bei Dao

An old tree
topples, shedding
bits of torn
paper from

its branches.
A portrait of
the ocean enters
the spread wings

of a seagull.
A rainbow
dries its damp
feathers under

a predictably
new sun.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Without Which

I can honestly
say I don't give
a whimpering bang
about how or when

(or even why).
I lie with my
eye closed and
wonder without

benefit of a
rudder or compass
or overwrought concern
as to where or

what if a much of
a whether and which.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Time, a temporary way
of looking at things,
will have been something
else when all is done

and said (I say this
with my mouth closed
to protect myself
from death).  All

evils will join hands
in the end, amen.
Words stationed at
strategic points in

the literature will
fall asleep on cue.
Coming Off It

Many immoral
brutal things are
gone:  the clench,
the sigh, the grinning

widow, the monkey
wrench's pipe-fitting
pinch, the wrack
and inch necessary

to reach the wind.
Not even the least
likely rhymes will
be able to capture

them in time for
coming off it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


A star I can
easily step over
while helping
Franz Wright

vacuum his
desert is gone
by morning
(by "morning"

I mean "mourning").
Meanwhile midnight
is making a
mockery of what

we have not
succeeded in becoming.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Medias Res

A man shooting off
his mouth at what
he thinks he sees
is using real bullets

and has to be brought
down by a member
of the swat team
before he accidentally

hurts someone's feelings.
An old woman in the
parking lot who clearly
doesn't know any

better is scolding us
for not being real.

Monday, December 17, 2012


A flower in the
mirror, growing
out of your eyes,
seems so firmly

rooted in vertigo
that it rings like
an underwater bell.
A book claiming

to be the history
of the world ends
abruptly on page
zero, exactly as had

been foretold by a
pair of loaded dice.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

After Bei Dao

A fetus, having
periscoped its birth,
surfaces shortly
before dawn.

Days drop into
the water like
depth charges,
exploding right

on schedule.
A farmer plants
his hands in
the ground and

prays for rain.
My hair turns white.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Father dies first,
clearing a path
for all to follow.
He lights a

candle underground,
restoring the sight
of those blinded
by death.  Momentum

becomes a monument
to stasis.  Life's last
caesura, arriving
late, stops,

marking the

Friday, December 14, 2012


A girl protected by
the color white
plays in a meadow
watched by a

wolf.  The wolf's
instinctive fear
of any color it
can't smell keeps

it at bay.  The
girl sings a
song the wolf
wishes it could

eat in time
for death.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

After Bei Dao

The years I
have spent
learning how
to waste my

life line up
on the fence
like birds.  I
climb a ladder,

dragging gravity
behind me.
In the evening
I listen to the

sound of fish
forgetting each other.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Night hides its true
feelings in a lofty
idea about the
origin of ecstasy.

Skinnier than a
hairpin, taller than
the smallest tree,
morning's hidden

motive locks itself
up in the tomb
of the unknown
conscientious objector.

The rest is
history in reverse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Your silence tells
us everything we need
to know about
death (at whose

door we begin
standing at birth).
The costumes we
discard while waiting

accumulate in a
corner of the room
that consists entirely
of exits.  I awake

each morning with a
name I can't pronounce.

Monday, December 10, 2012

for Jerry

As I watch
the wind carry
your words away,
I can't help

remembering the
games we played
as children (and
still play today

in translated form).
We whittled your
body down,
forcing it to

fit in an
urn of our choosing.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


When a word
is made flesh,
its letters tremble
in anticipation.

Angels lean back
into their armchairs
and hum.  The
milk of grammar

rains down from the
ceiling, preparing the
way for the poet
and his colleagues

in crime.  Matter
begins to matter.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


A wise old owl
eats what moves
at night as the
still moon looks

on.  Time tiptoes
through history's
dark room in
search of a

better ending.
We are too quick
to die when the
dropped hat hits

the floor, hoping
(still) for more.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Having drunk from
the dark milk of
predawn, we
gather around

death's door and
bow our heads
in fear.  Words
dribble from the

lips of a priest
who seems duly
unconcerned.  Dirt
pelts the lid

of what's left of
one dearly departed.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


God, who gives
us this day our
daily dead (Hoover),
is broken into

bits of bread by
a priest who finds
himself thinking
about the fish

that got away
instead of concentrating
on the celestial slices
he deposits one by

one on the tongues
of the dying.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In Exchange

The song a
deaf boy
applauds reminds
his blind friend

of a painting
he likes to look
at with his
eyes closed.

The blind boy
opens his eyes
to listen to the
song his deaf

friend enjoys looking
at with his hands.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


The sound of a
lake catching fire
mimics everything
I ever thought

about prayer.  The
immaculate deception
is all I can remember
of my earliest

childhood and its
hooks.  I open
my umbrella
upside down to

protect myself
from impure thoughts.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Noon (picking
up where it
left off the
day before)

drops like a
hammer, driving
shadows into the
ground as if they

were nails.  Nothing
else is permitted to
happen at that
moment.  No

difference of opinion
utters a sound.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


God had just
begun to believe
in himself when
he accidentally

pulled the plug
and went down
the drain with
the bath water.

This happened when
no one was watching,
which explains why
there is no film

or even a memory
of it anywhere.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The House

In one wall there was a door.
There was a knob on the door,
and when you turned this
knob, the door opened.  You

were then able to go inside
the house if you wanted.  The
inside was divided into rooms,
some small, others large.  Sitting

in a small room made you feel
larger than you were.  Sitting
in a large one made you feel
smaller.  You could adjust

your size by quickly walking
from one room to the next.