Sunday, July 31, 2016

Jewelweed as Folk Remedy

There were poems in apartments,
rental houses, tin cans, cement fortresses.
There were calls to the Gods made through
wires and cables laid by men paid by the hour.

There were ecstatic dinners 
freed from the din of packages.
Sinners were saved
and epiphanies were ejected from couch cushions.

Then you noticed the little line of cochineal speckled 
ocherous lanterns illuminating the maze of streets
which had been attendant to the path all along,
leading you into the wilderness, not lost, but home. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

how the swan swims the river aux sables

the way the arms reach up to sculpt the face, 
then the loving sweeps down along the arms brushing toward
the mid-section, this is the incantation, the drawing forth,
the asking through bodily prayer to all things earthly - rise

and the way the feet leave the ground, motivated through
gravity to work through withdrawal up from the floor, up into
the bed, these feet and arms the two, or four, or eight points of ordinary existence
which really are the swan's neck and swan's wings all downy feathered,

and the mid-section married with the mind, it is hovering or pumping, 
is flames and embers like light off water off the overhanging cedar boughs 
which realize in this state, from these far heights, 
they are neither light, nor bough, nor water

and then the mouth part, the beak,
how the mouth part folds back, upon the pillar of air, in terror.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Little Flare in the Forehead, and notes

The wake line falls from out the mind
lassoing a parcel of the world.
We like to call this consciousness.

Consciousness allows ecstatic flowers,
lost and found dollars, electrical
storms that dazzle and burn.

Beyond the wake line 
a swallow bobs
between limbs. So what.

Cat tails 
rise and fall in the wind.
So what. 

Out there metaphor Is Not like a whip, 
makes nothing stand proud,
slack low (humble boy), or obey.

Could it be that god is born in here
from emotion, man's accordion?

I love god. So what.
Want god. Need him.

Beyond the wake line is a cool 
inhospitable season. So what.
The wake line is.


This need is a hole in the soil/soul - lacuna

Void pulls the seed into existence.


Am I therefore weak for my need?

Who might this matter to? And might they matter to the truth?

Every man is born incomplete.


I do not say what god is.

I say, I'm fractured.


There is a little flare in my forehead.

I can imagine it hell.

I can imagine it heaven. 


Hell is an efficient flame.

Heaven, a flower with flutter, a purpose, a poem. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Sometimes it's instant.
But what they don't tell you
is that sometimes it isn't.

It took nine years to learn
your father was a liar
by omission. 
That he'd steal away up the street 
to buy tall boys for a few dollars,
unable to take your 
inconsolable wailing
any longer.

Once he stood, despairing,
in the middle of the backyard,
drinking in a thunderstorm,
while I walked the hard oak floors 
with you grieving your body,
perhaps even leaving an impression.

Lightning flashed your father's face
frantic across the long row of kitchen windows.
But I wouldn't be privy to this image
for nearly a decade.

We bore those years, 
you screaming puce,
little terrible turnip.
Now we're all strong,
in each our separate houses.

Friday, July 22, 2016

not the end, but before—

yesterday i ran into the woods in a thunderstorm
i was not scared

i got wet and lit up along the long black river
and i was not scared

at the exit i knelt and pissed in the cemetery 
and i was not scared

i noted the small stones atop the Yiddish script
and i was not scared

lying in bed last night an imagining crept into me
frail old fingers sprung from my hands through the trap of this body

and i was afraid

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

grappling with gratitude

grapple (grăpl) verb, to be human.

one of these times will be real.

well, they all are.

but we grapple with definitions.

one of these times will be final.

the way my mother dies.

the body is a decisive point:

sleek for the extended once.

what freshness!

until the pendulum's dunk to set swing.

when i was little she sang and danced while making bread.

i was inspired to move too.

thanks for the bread, mum. i'm grateful.

were her eyes closed when my father rocked this yeast into her?

being friends was never the question. just a nice adjunct.

she lies still while the black space of Neptune sews its net.

except for the moaning as motion.

except for the grappling with gratitude.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

the essential focus, notes

driving to work.

trying to sort out what is good and what is bad and why.

perhaps trying to understand the baseline of morality.

or the true gauge of value.

i come to this and only this and necessarily this: gratitude vs ingratitude.

if the human spirit is imbued with gratitude, can it go wrong?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Real Things; Not junk - Swimming In The Aux Sables River

"I am drawn to that state of emptiness which I can never get to, 
in which you are open to real things and not the junk of this world." 
                                                                                       Charles Wright

Lowering myself
beneath the lucid screen of water
to discover the two dimensions are three.

Pale smooth skin in water.
A body deserves to feel this good.
That's all.

Treading the blackness
is like brushing against van Gogh's 
The Starry Night's eddies.

Further out there is a dangerous one, 
lurking beneath the mantle.

I'm between there
and the sharp rock I must climb to get out
with the serrated circumference.

Far beyond the pines of this poem
Christians and Islamists, or so-calleds,
are fighting and killing.

Overhead a vulture encircles
narrower and nearer.
A body deserves to feel this good.

Helpless. And actualized. As the embryo is
about to pass through the mother's wrap
into the three dimensions of life.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bartholomew and Others

A mouse of a man, Bartholomew.
Sometimes in a raincoat.
Always with an umbrella
(a bridge to the elements).
Or for support.
Ducking and weaving through alleyways.
     One does learn the means of certain evasions.

At first glance
I would inspire empathy in you.

Which would quickly turn to horror.

Then wrench itself, a hard right, 
into hatred.

If you'd measure the repulsion
it would equal the tension
between me being me,
and you, comfortably, not being me,
but being you.

Beady eyed, you'd say.
Sniveling. Lurching. Lecherous.
The worst - Unsurefooted!
You might even invent, "A weedly little man."

You'd immediately presume 
that if someone were to beat me
they'd win
before i'd lose even one black shoe, 
size seven.

In evenings 
I return like a flutter
to the light latch on my apartment
that need not be latched.
Lay my beloved glasses
upon the formica topped table.
Undo the buttons on my shirt
like undressing a family of corpses.
Fold my pants.
Lie them neatly

across the narrow bed,
a chimney tube's lick of quiet negation.
And in the late day's holy light
with a cat o' nine tails, 
strike myself.

Master of mass, Bartholomew.
Maker of fine contusions.

Where I come into conflict, I swell.
Where I excite myself, beautiful horror, I swell.
Where my flesh weeps, I swell.
                           And poems gain form like pustules.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Harmonics Round (I Am Everywhere. I Am Everyone.)

                              "I apologize to everything that I cannot be everywhere. 
                               I apologize to everyone that I cannot be every man and woman." 
                                                                                                    Wislawa Symborska

The baby, Mary, does not die in June at the hands of the mother.
The fire which burnt the house condenses back into the head of the match tip.
And the gash that gnashed Jesus' side returns as a murmur to the lips,
to be administered as a kiss by each of the world's roving faithful.

Too distracted apologizing to everyone and everything,
we have forgotten that the world is a polished circle,
that what we see are the curves rising, heat starlings, 
into shadows, off the shimmering surface.

But when you perceive the patchouli one
under the certain little stars with your wolfish eyes
and strobes of stellar red and green beat through your blood
to draw you nearer to conquer the greatest villain, distance,
it is simple:

The baby can not drown for she is your palms, your skin.
The house can not burn for it gently closes beneath the charity of your eyelids.
Jesus can not be killed for he is a little box of hope that was and is.
And the gory gash is the vulva vibrating through the pleasure of god's gibbous lips,
a tiny harmonica shining like a silver bone, calling home, within us.

( *Andrea Yates drowned her five children on June 20, 2001, Noah, John, Paul, Luke and the baby, Mary.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

bon voyage

for Yves Bonnefoy

let me pull in the boat, dear friend,
for you are about to step off the dock
and away from your white corded vestments.

when seagulls lift into their chorus of wings
there is a music to be overheard overhead 
from the bunting of their molecules.

but you, sweet friend, as you embark
there are not even sparks left in the place
where you once stood.

instead there is silence—

but this silence, Yours,
widens into a stone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

nineteen bridges, notes on meeting jose again

we are two. separated by at least eighteen bridges.

country. skin. sex. bone. history. name...


i am looking into his eyes knowing i am not looking into his eyes.

i am looking instead through a doorway that looks into a larger room. which is but one room of a house. on a block. in a city. in a country. far away.

i know his name. jose.

i call it.

in other words i have met a man in a crowd i once knew in a crowd. and i put my arms around him.

he is falling down the stairs.

my arms around him and yet he is still falling.

i knew him once. when i was a child and he was a man. jose.

he wore a poncho and had goats.

and so now he always wears a poncho and has goats. even now in his white pressed shirt with buttons.

with my arms around him and his arms around me my chest lies on his chest. our hearts are beating against each other but we can't feel them. i can't feel his. and i can't feel my own.

unless i extend my hand.

if i extend my hand i create a bridge. the nineteenth perhaps.

i say words into his face but his eyes are pools shining out the other end of history.

he is dying.

i am saying it has been a good life, knowing little else about his life than a poncho and some goats.

i am filled with wonder that i have known anything about him so exotic.

he knows me. he is firmly entangled in the roots of my history from whence i came.

yet he only knows my name. and even to me it only vaguely sounds familiar.

we are brave as we stand together.

his black skin makes his white shirt snap beautifully like a sheet in the wind. and his white shirt makes his black skin snap beautifully like the night's sky around the moon.

we encircle one another. barely touching.

our words are brave. we believe them. and we intend them.

but as water can not deny the moon, there is a shine in jose's eyes.

do i name it correctly? fear?

or, sadness? like sadness is always attached in the distance like a kite to the bloom?

nothing that was ever held in our arms will remain.

jose is a most beautiful man.

Monday, July 11, 2016


forty-six and still unable to say that i am anything
but person, struggler, juggler, maybe mother.

we are moving down the highway at a terrible speed
for metal, but otherwise unassailing if we were light.

a billboard makes a substantial confirmation, dietrich's construction,
images of boards piled upon the board itself.

i saw him once inside the duration of a few years travel
past me in high school, two grades older, a freckled boy blur.

huh, he holds a hammer now. i imagine biceps flecked in time
like leaf shadows. perhaps young boys call him mister.

a purple blur out the window - loosestrife! i shout, pointing.
if i might proclaim anything, it's this - loosestrife!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Place For Fledglings To Shed Their Fear

I stop you here.

These words are hands
and these hands are history's columns.

I hold your face.

The chaos of the world is beyond you now
on either side of these walls.

Stare into this poem's eyes

where only silence and green things stir.
What is here belongs to no time

but to All time

like the feather belongs to the bird.
It is a rising sparrow, 


Saturday, July 9, 2016

you had better

no rain
and yet the hollow hasp of the earth has been storing honey,

small blueberries, calloused pin pricks, 
breaking free from the cornerstone of the storehouse.

up the stairs and on the table rests a lamp -
dare to pull its cord

for moth wings will beat as beautifully as the butterfly's
and return to the dimmest luminescence.

childhood bread a little red present inside your self -
it waits glittering in your haunted attic.

apparently you are not done yet.

if you see this, or anything -
you had better...!

Friday, July 8, 2016

a prayer for our future

i kid you not. the cities are dying.
asphalt is a choke hold 
and man in masses is made of bitumen.
there are not enough green things to reinvigorate. 

i am at a rural window.
a mennonite wagon canters by.
behind it, crossing, 
a young bearded man in his pajamas.

oh, rural town.
oh, lack of profit, of progress.

i kid you not. the only things that can save you
are solitude, slowness, space, art, suicide.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

It Wags In Us, An Ancient Anxious Wand

Governments. Even the best governments
are run by chains and winches, the bottomless
demands of masses passing hand to hand to tauten
the deep pocketed backroom machinations.
There's a president of all things important,
a viceroy for your neighbour's deeds,
a manager of thoughts, a director of things.
There is even a mayor of ice-cream counters.

For this reason we are in need of magic.
We must learn the contrivance
of chads, buckles and straps.
On the other side of man's laws, assemblings,
and his crow sack of taxing assertions,
throbs the incorruptible porcelain cup and saucer.
We need magic to free us from ourselves
and by art, to take us there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


his love plus my love
did not equal you.

my imagination times the void,
plus one, add roses, maybe;

just as your sadness does not equal
your happiness minus your sadness,

but rather equals 
the world ripped out from beneath me.

there's an organ in my chest
which has never been measured.

it secretes the secret math between us
that could empty all oceans in an instant.

in terms of you, for me,
happiness has its glowing cap,

but sadness - never.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

tallow and space

i shiver, to think of it.
look away. 
have to.
for shame. 

and i can't know for whose.

but my brother, a single dad,
holds his daughter's chubby face,
still, in a private moment,
amongst the flood of guests.

her light fights itself, a meager candle's flame.

he holds it 
and draws it to him,
toward his face,
toward his lips
as he drips 
quiet words 
to soothe her.

are they lovers, 
i ask myself, bewildered,
knowing the answer yes. 

i love you, 
he says,

but how he says it—

is absolution.

i love you, 
he says,

but how he says it—

is invitation.

i love you, 
he says,

but how he says it—

is how the beloved
loves and forgives
and holds 
the beloved.

Monday, July 4, 2016

a low-key celebration, notes

a get-together at mum's.

you begin by wanting to declare for each of your startled adult faces, that no one, not one of you, expected your lives to turn out as they have. this sentence could ring of optimism. but you feel it is obvious for every one of you that it is the opposite.

instead you say nothing real at all.

or talk loudly.

and then go off to play. tag. hide and seek. hide the thing. (with your niece.)

you are running around the yard silently. at times shrieking within. at times allowing your shrieks to explode like bird wings.

climbing between the fence rails (between escaping detection and getting caught) is the ultimate pleasure!

you are happy.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

overheard conversations of the heart

"I was alone like a tunnel."
                                Pablo Neruda

it had been a long time
since i had been held 
                        and wanted,

those emptinesses translated by my frame's form,
the holding and wanting, 
                        and magnified.

upon the soiled mattress
given up to the camp from a stranger's house,
                         in the desperate hour,

pressed into the unconsciousness of night
like owl hoots sent out in request of a hallowed answer,
                          we hitched a provisional home.  

it wasn't like my arms held him, or his me, 
but rather we were stacked
                          like cylinders,

rings, loops, whorls of copper ringing with longing,
harboring the too many nights when our cores echoed,
                           each rung to the heavy zero,

the boy on the cot beside us was awake—
awake, awake, more awake than he'd ever dreamed
                            of being.

he was a swimmer in the night, 
face lit by us as moon every breath he'd take.
                             and he took many.

we two touched. we licked. we moaned 
and moved. and that boy rose.
                             and none of us was going to sleep.

that boy is still out there. perhaps that story.
maybe we made names for ourselves
                              but that mustn't matter.

it was not love. nor sex.
it was, for all of us, the severest demonstration 
                              of loneliness.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

around the clock, notes

it's at night when the terrors creep closer. always and only at night.

and so are the terrors real?

what is reality if not the knot in your gut? if not oblivion as the reputable solution?


then all of the joy in the day? all of the tumbling joy? all of the unloosening of every knot? every scarf? flapping itself in the air like a windsock? riding every green wave? this too is real?


reality is a wide grim mouth. there are truths. there are languages. unconnected but by source. spoken in opposite directions. out each side.


speak not with your mind to the static moment. but to the whole.


in whole what is your reality?


in the moment only the moment exists.

(but the equalized brain must note all the other little rodent moments around your ankles on the floor. and the equalized brain must note all the other little star-like moments around your ears in the dark.)


the human is the boat dashed clear apart upon the rock jutting up from the ocean. the human must try to salvage some kind of form in the vastness of formlessness.


in moments i am the most joyous person i know.

in moments i am also the most willing to give myself over to the kiss of the peace of nothingness.