Saturday, January 31, 2015


the heart goes looking for it,
through the foreground's diaphanous gown,
snowflakes falling or milkweed blowing,
through the center strokes and layers,
searching deeper down laneways, glancing off 
rain sheened streets or snow blinding common occurrences
(the horses balk and tremble),
sifting past, then through the heavy lurk of dark shadows.
there, the trees speak! but you must gather nearer
to hear what they are saying -your name? -hiraeth?
you, draw closer. no, wait, sssh, look over there!
not yesteryear but the break of sun, tomorrow!
even the skin hides it in places, then throws it up 
like wheat from a chaffing bowl (hosanna!), winnowing.
love's no instant shot but longevity bathed and basked in inks.
it's less the hands of georgia o'keeffe, instead the tone of them,
their curious crooked intonations, how the spectacle of them
matures through time to its purer form of longing,
and despite being easily iconic or dismissible, in the end they remain  
a something profoundly, personally, emblematic, 
gruesome, inglorious.

Friday, January 30, 2015

being me, being you

i ask my daughter why it is that she (She!) 
can be such good friends with a boy 
all the way in new york city
whom she has never met.

dude, he's like forever away,
i can turn him off if he gets annoying!

me, my horrible earthly side,
i pivot it away like the dark side of the moon,
keen to shine my eternal one
to save those i love from my unheavenly violence.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

notes from a run, january 29, 2015

four miles out. stopping in the road by the lake. feet no longer moving. the great white stillness descends. or comes forward. the mother pines open their arms and lay down their winter kindling. never has there been a purer quiet. trees. lake. rock. expanse. timelessness.

and then a crack. over the woods. my ears perk as though they belong to a fur covered animal. keening. leaning. deciphering. again. clear. made. expand. then gone. as small as a bone somewhere. a different kind of animal? my eyes shift over the horizon, watch trees for movement, my heart making the mathematical strokes, asking and answering questions. again, the noise. clear. real. perfect. a shift of footing. then a visual opening. a solitary figure across the lake. a thin trail of smoke. i don't see it, but again, the ringing. wood split.

and i wonder. have i managed to give my children enough of this? this what? this nothing? enough of this profound nothing to counterweight the superfluous other that smothers?

but how do i know, i wonder. how do i understand? (each time the wood is split, something real is undone. sometime real is made.) when i was 12, 14, i was no longer present. i was busy with the television, my friends, myself.

so will they remember? can they? lying in a snowbank. staring up at clouds. walking through trees. watching thunderstorms. burning sticks. building remarkable worlds by moving. or being still.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

materia, some things that burn and the bright dark light (two poems)

materia, some things that burn

we begin to see ourselves backwards/inverted/ablaze in the mirror. i remember it happening to me. i see it happening to her. pyromaniac, she says. pyromaniac, i said. (mother: daughter) delighted with the power to set things in motion. but no one knows when the motion began. spinoza.      it began.   is. 
now we find ourselves hands dancing along the tips of all things inflamed, time, essence, idea.


the bright dark light

peonies obviously burn. but bluebells burn too.
wolves burn. less obviously bison.
there's a slow burn to acrid flesh which ends in ash.
in the meantime muscles burn and spit up spirit 
like corkscrewed, curlicued, catapulted, coral conflagrations.
that hooded ghoul on its knees before the empty night,
that's anguish; he's burning too (despite tomorrow's joyful sun)
the entirety of the horizon, razed (eventually)  to well spent ruin.
and what about your sun anyway, what is that
if not the kettle drum of life roaring full of inferno?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"until the very end, unknot, even with knotty hands" (pilippe jaccottet)

it was a purple fox fur hat, pillbox. she tried it on. i was to sell it.

"how does it look?" she asked.

"it is a beautiful fur," i said, thinking the hat was absolutely irrelevant. her bulky winter coat. the ice-cream that her lax mouth was licking.

"the problem is," she persisted, "i don't know where i might wear it. i'm 83. it's for cold weather. i only go to and from my car. shopping. doctors. restaurants."

"well, you'll have to take up snowshoeing," i said, joking.

"oh, i can't snowshoe any more," she said. "i used to ski. i still dance. except i threw out my back recently. i'm not supposed to pick up more than a tea-cup and i lifted my suitcase. but what was i to do? i was with my friend at the airport who's worse off than me," she laughed.

"dancing sounds like an awful lot of fun," i said, admiring her (not having danced more than a childish dervish for more than 15 years), wondering just what her dancing might look like, noting her hips, her waist, how long her torso, the length of her arms, the weight of her hands and how they might rest on someone's shoulders, conjuring an image. "i'm sorry about your back," i offered.

"oh, i'll be fine. just another visit to the chiropractor. but - so - where do i wear it?" she wondered, still appraising herself in the mirror.

the hat was better than $200 and we had had a very slow day.

"you don't," i say. "you stop here time to time and admire it."

she put the hat back.

it was only then i noticed how thin her hair was. how pink her scalp. as though she'd been scalded.

we stood and talked for another ten minutes, she unceremoniously finishing the rest of her ice-cream cone, tipping the end of the cone into her wrinkled face. chewing. really, mawing.

she told me where she lived, a couple hours down and off the highway. told me it was such a lively place. i should come by. she labeled the many events over the course of the year. yes, definitely, i should make the trip for the july 4th weekend (confusing our national holiday with america's), which would be (after a great effort of figuring)... surprisingly - on july 4th! how my heart warmed with her effort. (i searched this stranger's face for my mother's, for my own.) there was to be the biggest craft show! and she would be sitting at a table selling her sewing. she would look for me, for my smiling face she said.

as she was leaving i called, "don't forget to dance in the meantime!"

quickly, her rebuttal, "not one person need remind me!"

"Wherever the All takes on a shape, savor the image!" goethe

Monday, January 26, 2015

inchoate offense

dear perfectly designed 
                              well intentioned algorithm:
get out of my crevices

my desire is my own sword, 
my battle's directive cut with my teeth

 i'll walk to the war grounds
no further than the mirror

i don't want your car 
(click, preapproved) 
with heated seats

Sunday, January 25, 2015

two poems while running in america

dear america

dear america,
are you decent?
will you be good to me?

please, don't make this poem an anthem 
or an irony.

outside the wabash hunting preserve

if you want to part the soul
and meet your mouth to the almond obol
the opulence of stag's tongue
take it wildly into your dirty heart
you of motor oil and bourbon bottles
if you want to eat the earth like this
get down on your knees to meet your lover.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

a faithful trajectory, walking notes, january 21, 2015

i always get lost on this trail, always. my wrong turns are as etched into my mind as the correct ones, a faithful trajectory of mishaps. and i am glad for this, of course, as this is the way of being i am fond of, arriving at the end almost by accident.


every journey begins at A, even if you go backwards.


i started my journey today thinking of Spinoza, wondering what it is i truly believe beneath it all. how many times do i think i am headed in one direction, only to be fooling myself? what kind of reasoning am i fond of? how separate from belief might this be?  or is the fondness the belief, and the hopeful projection underlined by logic and infused by feeling (intuition) only that, a projection?

it's so difficult to see the self.


not as much snow as i'd have liked. i put my snowshoes over my shoulders for later. i walk past the frozen swamps, the cattails, the grey trees emptied of foliage, the seniors walking the tightly packed insular route, and i find my way to the side of the rock which some might call a small mountain. i think they'd probably be wrong but i might use the word myself.


i am so happy to leave behind the footprints of the many to walk the frozen snow covered footprints of the few, which are later anointed by those of the fox.


the sound of my feet.


and then, miraculously, in stopping, how the silence opens up, first to a quiet pool. and then how the other sounds move in as though drawn in by the work of a vortex. oak leaves rattling in trees, pines slowly swaying and trees winter-cracking, birds becoming more boisterous, squirrels indecorously clucking. are they upset i've spoiled their party? that i've come, or that i'm leaving?

then a sudden release of snow from a fir tree's bough. how frightened i am by the sudden ordinary!

crows crossing overhead, an untiring cacophony.


god in everything. not so hard to see.

but what about good and bad? are we the origins of this? are we not only the perpetrators of injustice, but the perpetrators of the occurrence of morality itself?

it's a quagmire.

morality's not bad.

how fine and pure this day.


climbing is hard slow work.


i shed layers. and then in cold i stop and reclaim them.


i begin to no longer look for the trail, but rely instead solely on the fox prints.


oh my! at the top of the rock (how is it possible??!) the spring! of course it's frozen! i couldn't have thought anything otherwise! i touch it with my naked hand. it is so frozen, so dry, the ice isn't cold. but i'd completely forgotten about it!

where the fox crosses the spring the ice is yellow and his footprints are like amber absences. in the warm season the spring feeds a steady supply of water down the mountain. i don't have a real idea how deep the ice might be. not deep, to be sure, but perhaps my foot might break through, or i might slip down the rock face.

i carefully straddle trees across, watching the fox's easy delicate footprints, so amused with him, less amused by my cumbersome self.


i stop often to see the light that looks so much like late day regardless the time. the trees are thick and the sun can only always come through at an angle.

why does the light remind me, in each instance, no matter its incarnation, of story?

it must have something to do with time.


i come out at the distant ski hill. exactly where i shouldn't have. exactly where i have twice before. where in the hell was the trail down?



water travels downward.

that's where i should have turned! the spring!


backtracking. downhill, i tell myself admirably, is so much easier.


unless, of course, you have to climb down an icy rock face. which is exactly what i have to break my fancy to do.


tree to tree i go.

i think about breaking a leg.

it would not be the end of the world. a mile out to a more traveled trail. i could drag myself.

what would you really do, erin? have it be easier?


i think i hear it before i see it, and i only sort of see it. three barks.

a fox?


then heavy tarps through the wind, but slower.

it is grey beyond the tree limbs and dead leaf blur, not grey like the trees themselves, but grey like i would imagine a pterodactyl. it labors off over the frozen lake and i feel blessed for this much, but as though i've lost something too. of this world. (of myself?)

i don't know what kind of bird it is. large. of ancient stock.

then a squirrel, different than the ones i saw before on the trail, slinks up a tree as red as the reddest sable.

at the bottom of the rock face, of the frozen spring, i stop and turn back as two of them tangle with one another on the side of a tree.


i have been excited for this. i've come out on one of the many lakes, or bays. i'm not sure how they are denoted. i plan to walk back along the ice the few miles to where my car is. i've walked, so far, in a semi-circle.

i begin along the edge of one bay.

i don't know ice as well as i should. and i'm not familiar with these lakes.

and there was open water (inexplicable to me this cold winter) just outside of town.


but Spinoza again. and what do you believe? what do you really believe beneath it all?


it is so good to breathe deeply in the midst of winter. to look out over a lake. to look up at a severe rock face.


but i am not quite where i thought i was. and to get where i need to go, i either risk crossing the lake in the middle, or skirt the edge, backtracking in direction again, to cross to a familiar spot.


oddly, so oddly for the north, i have not seen one person on a lake today.


i skirt the lake, aiming for the adjacent swamp to cross at.


there is a thin place in the ice, somewhere where moving water has pushed a rise in the smooth surface.

i hold my breath.

what do i believe? what do i want to believe?

i walk slowly. i listen. if the ice cracks i will get down fast, lay my body out against the surface.

i have heard of two people going through so far this year.


just last week i went to the doctor's. routine. but routine for a reason.

sooner or later we all will die.


do i really believe god is in everything? whether heartfelt and life affirming, or with grave indifference? (is there, in the end, a difference? or can we only ever cast our own vague apparitions against a distant wall?)


for me it doesn't matter how god is here or we are here, or even if. (although i'll continue to ask questions.)


but in order for anyone to ever step forward, one must throw one's trust somewhere, act in some way.


this is it. i need to act out in life what i believe.


i believe this is a remarkable occurrence. i believe i was transformed and will be transformed again.

i don't believe my consciousness is of paramount importance.


i cross the ice.


i have pushed all of my breath outside my body to make myself lighter, this foolish playful physics.

the ice does not crack.


later, around the next bay, i crawl up through the cattails at what is an evident weakening, a point of even faster water feeding into the lake.


i have never been more here than now.


now equals now in every regard, if we allow it to.


i love this life, this highest truth, this being, whatever this is.

Friday, January 23, 2015

it all works itself out in the hinterland of alberta

i'm sitting on my couch. i might has well be lying in a hospital. i am watching a show on wolves and buffalo. what makes a wolf believe he is strong enough to take down a creature as heavy as a black careening dream, a distinguishable embodied sickly sweet snout of a nightmare? (of course it's not a nightmare to him. it's dinner, possibility.)

once my husband and i were on a winter walk through a state park in indiana. we came upon a pen of buffalo. each tired face seemed like a leather hide fastened to the corners of a broad frame, a skeletal system of boulders pressing from beneath. they breathed through their burden. that's all. little else. and even this was labored. that and all the defecating. they laid in the remnants of all that's been. for whose benefit? ours?

the wolves pace the buffalo, easily, no fear it seems in their bodies, in control of some equation. but by in control i don't mean the answer to each scenario is known in advance, but rather that the equation plays out over every plain and through all time, wolves and buffalo the two variables. in time it balances. if they don't kill and eat this time, even though they specifically need to, they will the next. it is not for themselves they move like the buffalo's adjectives, but for the furthering of future generations. they've pups at home in their dens.

the buffalo too, driven to do what they neither want or not want to do, gallop with force trying to shield their offspring.

and so i get it here on my couch. this is it, why. its not in the mind of the wolf but in the cells. it's built into them, is them, to look beyond the self, to ensure the future of their kind. the bodies of the wolves and buffalo are this forward thinking stoutheartedness.

imagine that.

what's happened to our cellular makeup, or for us was it never built in?

the documentary stills upon a shot of the alberta tar sands.

this is how the film ends.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

like the agony of water

it was neither like the sound of umbrellas lashing open
or a boat's rigging fed through bow eyes at equal increments
but was old world rawhide worn by an equation that equaled light 
divided by density multiplied by yesterday and tomorrow

when it left the trees beneath us, as it rose and wielded its heavy body
we felt surrounded by an army of hidden movement
it barked three times, not the sound of a bird but bird nonetheless
something decisive yet slippery, solid yet viscous

high on the bluff we had thought ourselves masters of below
but from beneath us this unnamed thing rose, and flew off 
thrusting, thrusting and moving over the locked winter waters
in possession of more than our minds.


"Slime is the agony of water. It presents itself as a phenomenon in process of becoming: it does not have the permanence within change that water has but on the contrary represents an accomplished break in a change of state. This fixed instability in the slimy discourages possession. Water is more fleeting, but it can be possessed in a its very flight as something fleeing. The slimy flees with a heavy flight which has the same relation to water as the unwieldy earthbound flight of the chicken has to that of the hawk. Even this flight can not be possessed because it denies itself as flight. It is already almost a solid permanence. Nothing testifies more clearly to its ambiguous character as a 'substance in between two states' than the slowness with which the slimy melts into itself....

...The slimy is docile. Only at the very moment when I believe that I posses it, behold by curious reversal, it possesses me. Here appears its essential character: its softness is leech-like. If an object which I hold in my hand is solid, I can let go when I please; its inertia symbolizes for me my total power; I give it its foundation, but it does not furnish any foundation for me; the For-itself collects the In-itself without compromising itself (i.e., the self of the For-itself) but always remaining an assimilating and creative power. It is the For-itself which absorbs the In-itself. In other words, possession asserts the primacy of the For-itself in the synthetic being 'In-itself-For-itself.' Yet here is the slimy reversing the terms;  the For-itself is suddenly compromised. I open my hands, I want to let go of the slimy and it sticks to me, it draws me, it sucks at me. Its mode of being is neither the reassuring inertia of the solid nor a dynamism like that in water which is exhausted in fleeing from me. It is a soft, yielding action, a moist and feminine sucking, it lives obscurely under my fingers, and I sense it like a dizziness; it draws me to it as the bottom of a precipice might draw me. There is something like a tactile fascination in the slimy. I am no longer the master in arresting the process of appropriation. It continues. In one sense it is like the supreme docility of the possessed, the fidelity of a dog who gives himself even when one does not want him any longer, and in another sense there is underneath this docility a surreptitious appropriation of the possessor by the possessed.

     Here we can see the symbol which abruptly discloses itself: there exists a poisonous possession; there is a possibility that the In-itself might absorb the For-itself....

...The slimy seems to lend itself to me, it invites me, for a body of slime at rest is not noticeably distinct from a body of very dense liquid. But it is a trap. The sliding is sucked in by the sliding substance, and it leaves its traces upon me. The slime is like a liquid seen in a nightmare, where all its properties are animated by a sort of life and turn back against me. Slime is the revenge of the In-itself. A sickly-sweet, feminine revenge which will be symbolized on another level by the quality 'sugary.' This is why the sugar-like sweetness to the taste - an indelible sweetness, which remains indefinitely in the mouth even after swallowing - perfectly completes the essence of the slimy. A sugary sliminess is the ideal of the slimy; it symbolizes the sugary death of the For-itself (like that of the wasp which sinks into the jam  and drowns in it).

     But at the same time the slimy is myself by the very fact that I outline an appropriation of the slimy substance....

...In one sense it is an experience since sliminess is an intuitive discovery; in another sense it is like the discovery of an adventure of being....Thus I am enriched from my first contact with the slimy,...

     Conversely, to the extent that the this which I wish to appropriate represents the entire world, the slimy, from my first intuitive contact, appears to me rich with a host of obscure meanings and references which surpass it. The slimy is revealed in itself as 'much more than the slimy.' From the moment of its appearance it transcends all distinctions between psychic and physical, between the brute existent and the meanings of the world; it is a possible meaning of being. The first experience which the infant can have with the slimy enriches him psychologically and morally; he will not need to reach adulthood to discover the kind of sticky basenesss which we figuratively name 'slimy'; it is there near him in the very sliminess of honey or of glue. What we say concerning the slimy is valid for all the objects which surround the child. The simple revelation of their matter extends his horizon to the extreme limits of being and bestows upon him at the same stroke a collection of clues for deciphering the being of all human facts. This certainly does not mean that he knows from the start the 'ugliness,' the 'characteristic,' or the 'beauties' of existence. He is merely in possession of all the meanings of being which ugliness and beauty, attitudes, psychic traits, sexual relations, etc. will never be more than particular exemplifications. The gluey, the sticky, the hazy, etc., holes in the sand and in the earth, caves, the light, the night, etc. - all reveal to him modes of pre-psychic and pre-sexual being which he will spend the rest of his life explaining. There is no such thing as an 'innocent' child...."

Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

behind her question exists a world i didn't know existed

so, she says, home from school, hair unconsciously strung into a gorgeous bun, clothes disheveled, appetite large, licking fingers while eating and talking, i have a serious question to ask you and i need a serious answer, mom.

ok, i say, deer in headlights.

so, like, you're all big and everything with a baby in your belly. dude, like me! (the baby, not with the belly) and you go through all that pain and then it (me again), like, slips out and then there you are all of a sudden with your kid in your hands and this thing happens in your head and it comes over you and suddenly you know everything - 

her hands have paused mid-air because my mouth is now hanging open.

wha- she asks.

it doesn't happen like that, i say.

what? the slipping out?

well, no, not that either. not quite. but love, when a mother has a baby there is no moment of revelation, no knowledge suddenly acquired.

her hands are still in the air, her eyes wide. well then, how...

you just do it, love. you didn't know anything the moment before and maybe you know even less now and so you just do it.


she thought i had answers...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

behind these popeye cigarettes, a honeydew

hiding behind the fat lady is the thin lady
behind the blowhard, the quiet fool
behind the curtains, the window
hiding behind your baby lurks your death
every sweet song's a chimera
hiding behind the shears, the pneumatic vine
behind baldness, virility
hiding behind orange is blue
behind simone weil cowers john-paul sartre
and bashō is hiding (although you probably can't see him) behind the mall
hiding behind the existential fate of this world is this silly poem
and behind this poem, a door

knock, enter


from paul claudel, Art Poetique:

"Truly, blue knows orange; truly, the hand knows its shadow on the wall; truly, one point of a triangle knows the other two in the same sense that Isaac knew Rebecca.  All that is ... designates that without which it could not have been."

Monday, January 19, 2015

on the love making of william henry fox talbot

for more than one hundred years the sunlight has cleaved to the dandelion seed -
                                                                                                                 i love you like that.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

this world is not a poem

this world is not a poem
this puddle
this place
this first eye

this world is a plea 

with permission, a self portrait of my husband

Saturday, January 17, 2015

body and spirit

you would think a machine would have no personality.
you would think its varied parts would 
by way of science, math, necessity, add up to one sum.
however, when i turn my computer from 1997 on,
its wheels gasp and turn to life, or don't. or a small hammer
picks itself up and sets to work inside, flexing attitude 
that will, eventually, tire itself, groan, silence, play out.
i store my photographs on the big lug of a thing, 
memory made tangible (well, when/if it plays along).
sometimes i can see into my past through it, 
grains, dots, congloms,
sifting pixeled files through feelings, 
sifting thoughts through zeros and ones.
sometimes we just sit mute beside one another.
i touch the screen of the machine, not without hope.
is this love? can its potential be enough to sustain me?
for one full minute (i count the seconds) i hold its cord in my hand.
what will we be next?

Friday, January 16, 2015

introducing madeline as she awakens in reisterdam

madeline's arm rises up, her eyes unopened as of yet. her fingers stumble through the air to form and down form's side, searching for a button or a notch to detour this blaring sudden reality. there, the thing sufficiently influenced, silenced. but one thing stops and another is started. and so madeline rises from her bed. the bed clothes, which had been still a moment before, which had their certain convolutions, their personal body of valleys and mountains, fall from her, an independent and unthought cascade of volume, and land, new and yet somehow reasserted. her nightgown, well washed cotton, the colour of the mash of the grey morning before the sun commits itself to any further business, finds its morning accoutrement akin with gravity, downward swoops and swales. her body is a dull moth beneath it, but obviously more substantial in order to carry and influence through weight, more like a lamppost. she pushes aside the curtains heavy with dust. she peers, as though over an arc, outside below. six men move in the street, or at least figures which seem like men, covered bodies black and sexless. some have hats on. others have bare heads. madeline stands for a moment taking it in. and then she turns from the window.


grey opens and i'm here although i was here all along of course just in a different way with hands there do that and what will the day seem like where was i am i yes heavy blankets hips hurt tired still who was after me in my dreams last night are we only ever after ourselves they looked like someone else is there more snow to influence today i must start a draft up my nightgown get my dressing gown where is it downstairs the roads beneath are clear can i bear more grey the funny tinge to snow which was once white i will things change for instance that man with the hat what is all the commotion are they together or separate moving about weak light on my one arm so vague yet pretty i fall in love so easily and therefore so dangerously threatened the grey like brittle ice so much work already and i am foggy halls. and thirsty.


madeline eskerknot lives at 555 circuitous lane. she's 33. she lives alone. she likes green tea, pork chops and poetry, some of which are a danger to her health. due to a childhood illness her lungs are not very strong, although you had probably already surmised this. she'll live 27 more years at this same house, inherited from a deceased auntie. she herself will die from causes unrelated to her lungs. she has brown hair.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

intersections and interstices

for a.

morpheme, the world without self

how strange one day to wake up and not be able to find oneself in the world to rifle through all the obvious sweaters and poems to throw up the shutters and tear down the bedclothes not a scent not a strand not a dendrite how uncanny to find the world the world doing all of its things not noticing that you're not

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

negotiating work in reisterdam, machine, and tooth (three poems)

negotiating work in reisterdam 

i was very happy while working the other morning. 
and then that feeling ended.
when did it end? i asked myself.

you were happy when you were creating something,
when something passed out of one state of being
and entered another.

you became unhappy when the world sat lumpish
and you sat lumpish too
and all of the skin of all the people began to behave like suet slipping 
                                                                                                               in ennui.



let's say time is the conveyor belt.
let's then agree that we are products.
each product has a verb card inserted into its mother board
which instigates the product's gears.

come on boys, it's time to clock in!
call all machines with a trumpet,
stir nounness, sputter, lurch forward, integrate.
there's only so much man-time for the work day,



why yes, of course, the lonely cry out
and the solitaire, desolate, toss themselves from bridges!

this body is a tooth meant to catch onto something someone else
to turn it them, to set a wheel in motion

a peg on a landscape is but a peg on a landscape, lost, alone, trilling itself silent
but a peg on a path is something someone might trip upon, the possibility of action

these hands are teeth, these feet, these legs, this organic soil-sac
this soul is a tooth vibrating

Monday, January 12, 2015


the children's mouths and eyes, black and white, sewn tight, 
somnambulistic death throes even in life, 
the late night movie on a pull-out couch 
punctuated gleefully by siblings and cookies -
as though a great sickness dwells in me, 
this memory from childhood cleaves -
most disturbing phantoms of truth, 
the one plane, one matrix, one dimension,
living inside the other, kin twined with kin,
word stitched to muteness, nothing to sight.
even then, a child with cotton pajamaed feet,
could sense the duplicity of belief,
the cold night rolling out eons eternal,
punctuated once/always/only by a hoar dot moon,
god awe full presence
glowering godless.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

the luminous discharge

and into an arc
the fox glares
a shining, honing, momentarily suspended - still - being beacon
and then lands, pounces ferociously, upon its target
only to find
that which it has pounced upon
can not be held forever in its claws

how sweet its whiskers, felicitous narrow nose, delicate features
how raw its ravenous bloody body, meat entering meat as it tears molecules apart

even while i sit on my couch and the winter wind rattles the glass in this cage of windows
the fox must be somewhere lancing the snow like an arrow to a bloody heart

the wind travels out over the belly of the world
the sun sends out its four sons with legs that bend
everything in the world is curved, has desire, momentum, target
everything is sweet, delicate and ferocious

Saturday, January 10, 2015

into the ether, knowing one another, some notes

it was strange. gone from our home for a couple weeks and then opening the door to step back inside, for a brief moment there was new sight. i could see our home as though i had not seen it for months, perhaps in this, its true form, ever. i saw the colours we had chosen to live with and how it was organized. i saw those things that were superfluous but that were chosen to stay with us as accents or symbols. i saw the things our bodies moved around, the building blocks of our story. the presence of our home felt like an imprint of my own body, as though i suddenly got a glimpse of myself in a mirror amidst a crowd, an outside window of a shop reflecting me-ness in a throng of strangers. huh, there i was. or as though i lifted my body from a bathtub and a smoldering image of me remained in the water, strange but irrefutable. here was what i couldn't see, can't see, in the daily chains of too-close proximity.

and most surprising was that i was immediately drawn toward it, moved toward it, wanted to wear it still and again. it felt like something akin to love that i felt for it but not love exactly. it, the way of being, was home.


my sister sent me a letter while i was gone. she prattled on with the things that make her. in essence she was creating a form at one end, opening a void in the middle, and asking me to tell her who i am at the other end.

but she was asking (i think but don't know) to be told of the who that she thinks she once knew, the one she misses. not the who who i am. this is a sadness for my family. this is a sadness, sometimes, for myself, that i can not step back into that other body, which had only ever been a borrowed one. that this me has more voice than ever but that the paradox has been opened and swallows up a naturally speaking voice, leaving an indeterminate word with such an urge to be spoken.

to tell anyone who i am (now) i might point in any one direction. it would not be toward me at the center though. it would be outward to the spaces between the footsteps of yves bonnefoy's narrator (man, wanderer, searcher). i would send a note to tell them i am huddled in the corner of hayden carruth's hut in "north winter." there i'm separating milk, making butter, having cold feet and red hands, crying, not without great pleasure. i'm making love in the rectory with rilke's annunciation, watching his mouth create forms which take wing and then disappear into light. and i am chasing goats out of the way to fuck with jack gilbert (sad, elated, filled with wonder at the stamina of this body, heaved by regret - let's call it that - but moved more beyond my will to fuck and jest). i am dancing philippe combes' "minotaur-ex bruno aveillan." i do not know language yet. i am mourning my friend's death with philippe jaccottet, my mother's death with barthes, my wife's with roubaud. i am snapping photographs of myself disappearing. i am the stain of alix. there is a void between my arms. i lower it and leverage up the dead fox i found last winter. i am the void that carries the fox and loves her. what is at my center is only the conjunction of colours, symbols, the building blocks of story.

who might have the patience to know such a girl, to try to truly know her, stubborn and elastic motley hovering cloud, to see her as such and yet love the strange coalescence of her?

only one.


in virginia his mother sits on the edge of a couch and tells stories. oh, such stories. and so many! (truly, if you imagine, you are under-imagining!) she wavers in my eyesight at the intersection of all these tellings. i see her there, vulnerable, snapping into and out of existence at the penciled cross-hatchings like some barely discernible radio station.

she tells me, "one day he left in the morning, a certain boy, and he never came back."

at this point she nearly collapses. "when he came home he was forever changed."

i recognize mourning.

i asked, "jamie, do you want to come inside?" he was sitting out back on the steps.

"no," he answered.

he continued to sit and quietly stare out.

later, again i tried. "jamie, are you ready to come inside now?"

"no -" he answered again, "i'm just going to stay here. i'm thinking."

she suppressed a sob. "i would give anything to know my son!"

they visit one another at least twice a year. they speak on the telephone often. they love one another, maybe even intensely. she is very smart, incredibly intuitive.

he was four. he wandered off and began the journey to discover himself, to discover beyond self.


it was winter. he had picked her up and was spinning her in the middle of the road, this action a symbol of happiness, these two bodies, the man's and the woman's, in contact, looking into one another's eyes, spinning upon the gravel and snow. his hands were beneath her armpits. he held her weight. they were both laughing. she had the uncanny feeling that the man who was spinning her was not exactly the man she loved. he was in there but existed a quarter of an increment outside the alignment of his body. but she was a quarter of an increment outside her own body too, watching this happen.

so, she would often remind herself, don't look exactly inside his body for him. he is along the horizon of his skin, uses this as an interface; he is in the tips of the frozen branches; he is in the air and the dizzying sunlight, in the snow, in what the snow hides and what it reveals.

off-side of all centered being is what being is made off. i know no other word for this strange air, this place of possibility, but god or love, our home.

Friday, January 9, 2015


perhaps violence is inherent in being...

and certainly there are some forms of violence i would not choose to relinquish, passion for instance, the passion of being, of experiencing...

but the violence that comes from the desire for power,
power the desire for ownership - i do not want it, do not want to engage in the violent eunuch's dance.

there is not one thing i own in this world, truly, not one
(not even my own death)

not my life

not even myself

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

house keeping

my internal life is about 1500 square feet,
three bedrooms, a broom closet, 
an open concept living room,
an eat-in kitchen,
a bathroom (with a clawfoot tub).
the walls are forests and escarpments.
the wallpaper grows wheat.
the stairs, softwood, old,
are all my own 
terribly particular histories.
my own mother, god love her,
only resides in along the rusty latch
of a small cedar box
which rests on my grandmother's
old foot pump sewing machine.
i keep needles and thread in the box.
sometimes (and only sometimes)
i hear my mother 
when i mend things.

this morning
on my way down stairs
i stop for one moment 
and consider my children
yet asleep in two rooms of me,
with houses all their own,

yet i can't for a moment
forgive myself
for not sweeping 
their stairs
well enough.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

polish clay


consider the stone
the perfection of milk
night's bolt of sky pierced, a jeweler's precision
the page - erased


now: one sagacious word
one word, only one
being, breathing
consider breathing


the man walks the path
each star a scar
each stone a word
here, his throat, his feet, his hands
his journey, transformation


the woman bends by her dressing lamp
two moons sore like cankers
one thought like a stone glowing in moonlight
son, vessel, or: union

when he finally comes and takes her breast
his mouth will make the shape of the word


when the boy has a fever and his blood boils
and his hands slip from the contours of the world
it will not be to chaos but to order
his mind miasma like lava's flow
each thought a cell bristling


frozen for a moment
sunset, sunrise
indistinguishable from each other



then the old man's body
still like a nail in the soil

the insects do the busy incremental work
of removing his clothing, scrubbing his face
translating his name back into dirt

the moon swells above
calling all tides


another man, another name
another woman, another child
again, always, another nail

and, too, all the  more

Monday, January 5, 2015

Subsoiling (Northern Ontario to Indiana)

Some days I don't know how I'm going to leave the emptying out of the blue jay's screech, 
the dumb duck's flat honk, or the sandhill cranes' mournful washboard lamentations, 
preparation, purgation, migration of one sort or another, this far north a permanent state.
Don't know how I won't walk between the long strides of the smart wolf's silence.
Don't know how I might be alright without the acrid splats of black chokecherry scat,
or the horses clomping mischief managed right down main street.

Don't know how this sky, which knows my name, won't go on moaning it to me,
assuring me I'm here, a knot on the low horizon of swamp, swale, erratic, scrub.
Don't know how to be here without the cold or the horse flies piercing it into me,
or the black flies and mosquitoes driving me maddeningly onward, fast, blind, straight through summer, slapping my face raw to know my distinction. If the aspens don't tinkle peripherally.
If the conifers don't rusk in rare heat. If the birch don't open their pretty thighs to the snow.  

And what about all the aged cantankerous stubborn stone I know as home?

Indiana, laid out like a woolen dress to a king sized bed, 
our Wabash wire fence rooted on each side in someone else's time, dirt, corn and patience,
dust expanding and wheeling off to distant highways in four directions.
And so I say aloud, by means of preparation (like someone readies the soil), to the bramble, 
stick joy and sticky burr sprawling stubbornly pig-nosed so far unattended in my two acre back yard,
Get ready, I'm coming. And, I'm about to know you, love you, hard.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


after the sum days of immersion in the steam of people cooking conversations, and histories roiling up all around us like pork fat braces the fat necks of blanched white potatoes in the aluminum pot
   we emerge

a kingfisher cuts the winter air, quiet from quiet
the river strains its hands clean by wringing knuckles
and the forest straightens up its back along the river's edge
like abe dirken pushes back his chair, back row, center pew, long legged
as old men sometimes prefer not to say a word amongst the throng of choir
   steady, to declare their silence

Thursday, January 1, 2015

each new year

only for instance:

the beautiful aromatic lopsided lauds of hydrangea,
   lopped off.

so much dies...

always the backwards peddling to clutch the remnant corona of colour,
   the scent of almost-remembered sepal.

where first lived? when first did colour and scent bleed into body, 
   dendrite crystal structure synapsing memory?

certainly once...

unceasingly suffering such insufferable loss...  how wide the garden must have been 
   when we first began!