Sunday, December 31, 2006

I Wake to my Reflection and it is Good

Dead morning full of wind.
It’s enough to make you think
Mother Earth’s a real phony baloney.
My past lives hanging in the closet
From nooses of shadow and spider web.
Or so I would believe,
If I ever got around to getting dressed.

The landscape is choked by robins
Whose red undercarriages
Set the ice on fire devilishly.
And you, my love, up to read the obits.
Our crib is next-door to the graveyard,
And the sliding glass reflects everything
To the scale of a blind kid’s dollhouse mirror.

Widows leave whiskey flasks
And love letters at the stones of war vets,
Hearses from black-and-white comedies
Are rigged with faulty locks, and a ditch digger
In his casket slides back down the hill.
Even a priest, deadpan, reading from his favorite book,
Gets hot around the collar.


If you get a good one, nobody can tell.
We all grew up surrounded by them,
Carved by masters who spent eternity
Working the kinks out of the material.

Light snow the dandruff of a gray-headed day.
Our robot vacuum cleaner gets caught
Admiring itself in the mirror.
Even Jesus on the cross likes to look

At born again virgins on the internet.
I don’t know, I don’t know, I say to my fake
Watch that keeps perfect time.
Someday I’ll give it to a bum

So he can remember to feed a dog
He taught to play dead with one eye open.

The Peddler

He was a peddler in the modern sense, which meant that he tried to sell as little as possible. He was a scaremonger in pinstriped suit. A chapmen, and he sold small books to rural people. Look at the spine, he’d say. Look at the binding, all in Saint Bartholomew, who witnessed the ascension, flayed with care by the knife of his wife. Look here, some redactor put a dog’s cock after every line. Jesus was a lanier, he’d say. He sold his flock one-by-one in Philadelphia, three-for-one and a bread and liver sandwich.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

We Tried to Tell Them

Another wedding. The only social pageant
Statistically doomed to repeat itself.
But this one had homemade ice cream,
Was outside under the ivory plum blossoms.

In the field the wethers were going at the ewes,
And the preacher was going on about mystery,
Feeling naked without his big tent.
It was the kind of day that might produce

Rain at any moment, or just as easily make
A brilliant sunset with heart-shaped clouds.
This was the way chosen to light the bouquet,
The sun’s Greek fire setting a pair of swans ablaze.

Let Me See Those Glasses Again

Brown winter, night air.
My lover and I imagining the future
With the drag strip so close.
Naught to dust in a lifetime
Of wheel spinning,
A lifetime in Buck’s traction.
But let’s not think of that now.

Holy crow, the birdseye sky in
Numerous fragments,
Some large, some small.
If only I had a hip to pull closer.
You can pull my finger, she said.
It’s a sweet offer,
But I'm standing here beside myself.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Divine Comedy

Sisyphus was a real boulder holder.
Oh, how you can get stucco.
You can get stucco between this world and the next.
Just ask the disembodied, just ask the disemboweled.
There’s a couple of shady characters hanging around.
They’re from Hell, Michigan,
Which just froze over.
They lived in the house that shadows built.
In the evening, shadow-play on dark walls.
What are you, giving me the runaround?
You’re gone today and here tomorrow.
Die? Sisyphus asked, taking no break.
Why, that's the last thing I'll ever do.


The many-forked tree. The plaster heavens of the guestroom. A game bird in the alley of broken bottles. Professor of physics and his daughter of democracy shooting shotguns. The condemned building’s chimney and crucifix. A fool in his bathrobe repeating the phrase, “I am already gone.” And at night, crows with their bucket of water over your door waiting for you to step outside.

Evening of the Insane

It was the kind of evening one hears of in the log of a psych ward priest. The moon making the children gray-haired, the burning bush by the parlor window playing the trick of the setting sun. Throughout the whole neighborhood it was as if an orderly had rolled out the crazies on stretchers with iron wheels. This would have been done on the down low, with someone from the morgue holding the door and glancing nervously at the office windows. Inevitably, a few would slip out of their straps and run away without any pants to sit under a bodhi tree.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Untitled Study

The world is a child’s drawing. The transparent yard with its house on fire. Sharks in the ocean, everyone screaming for help. Our big bodies with visible hearts. The child labeled each of us “stranger”. Some of us were in love, some sad, and some of us floated off to heaven. The sun was forever setting, yet always smiling.

The drawing sat there by the window for months, until the old man with clouds for hair used it to start a fire.

Last Words of a Famous Ventriloquist

“Lester, what are you thinking about?”
“Nothing, dummy.”

Prose Poem

It was the kind of hunger that only lived in abandoned movie scripts. In such cases the hero only ate in dreams. It was always a thick savory night, and the moon stirred around the mountain like it was a pot in a soup kitchen. The poorly realized cherry trees in full blossom cast enough light into the kitchen for the hero to gaze into an empty fridge. His soliloquy that ended with him shaking his fists at the ceiling was a surprise laugh.

Unscrupulous Gods

Perhaps the circus is in town.
Perhaps a winter storm made it late
And the posters were taken down,
But they decide to set up anyway.
And perhaps it’s only attended by

People who usually frequent churches,
And the snow traps everyone in the sideshow
Tent with Scorpion Boy, jars of pickled punks,
Medusa Girl, and Zeus the half man.
Perhaps, even, when the sky clears

And the town gets around to digging
Them out, someone says that the drift
Looks a little like the Pantheon
And the mess of freaks inside, perhaps,
With scared eyes, like lost gods.

How I deal with Large Crowds

How do people remember names?
Tell each other apart in this crowd?
Do they have a mess of photographs
That they keep in their wallets?

Do they have to run into the nearest
Church and beg for help at the alter?
Does the priest lay a hand on their
Shoulders, my child, and ask for a list of sins?

Are people all the same anyway?
Objects in a unified field, or luminous
Asterisms in a child’s sick dream?
Can you sneak out the back when no one’s looking?


What is that noise?
As if to torment me,
Mysteriously up
From the basement,
Sounds of lovers cooing
In a child’s chalk drawing.

Or a light pole at the edge
Of an unplowed field
Humming on prom night.
An unnamed noise,
Unfamiliar and vexing.
It was late.

In other parts of
The world it was early.
The basement would be
Damp, and void of light.
Dark rain outside,
Stars in blackface makeup.

Perhaps it's my guardian
Angel, up from the gutter,
Heating a can of soup
Over a black candle?
A funicular railway
Taking a man into the heavens,

Using his houndstooth jacket
As a tourniquet
For his sick heart,
Trying to read his love’s palm
In the tram window
From the slap print on his face?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Falling Action

A woman alone
In a house of cats.
Mysterious origins,
You cannot tell
She was ever a child.

Nor is it apparent
That she will die.
And the cats, they too
Live as if enchanted,

Chasing shadows
On the empty walls.
Outside, the real drama
Takes place. Everything

Growing up like a
Hydraulic jack in the hands
Of an old man
Who keeps stopping

To read the obituaries.
The wind is blowing,
And the sky is any
Color you care to name.

Romantic Monologue

Our week in the timeshare condo.
It’s difficult to think
With everything so out of place.
Someone else’s soul in with the stemware,
An old man’s overcoat trapped in the closet.
We’ve not much time
Before the next couple moves in.

Temple of Poseidon, we called it,
Your eyes were sad in every mirror.
Call the oracle at the front desk
To send someone up, the heat is stuck
Cold as wind in a silent movie.
My duchess mistress asks to be
Smuggled out in a body bag,
Telling me she gave her love to Jesus.

The night let the screams from their bottles.
I was dreaming it was silent
As a leaf falling in memory.
We stood at the twin graves of a couple
Who spent life in adjacent beds.
They kept on mumbling in their eternal sleep.
There was a train in the distance.

I was afraid, and then I lost my mind.
I continued to think as if nothing happened.
There were too many unlabeled cans in the cupboard.
I lost our tickets at poker night,
Which is why, my dear, we must pack.
We’ve not much time
Before the next couple moves in.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Great Bill Collector

God’s customer service rep
Had to look up how to cancel
You account.

Meanwhile you keep writing
Bad checks at the state fair.
It's freezing and you lent

Your coat to the woman with the blue
Ribbon cherry pie. The thunder of
The hand-cranked carousel

Makes the fat woman selling
Bakelite crucifixes giggle devilishly
As she hands you a receipt.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Stump Removers

City of Desire, population unknown,
You’re dark like an orphanage
On a winter night,
Everywhere blue and unnamed.
The choir of lost children, not yet up
From their plywood beds, has the voice of birds
On a night too cold for birds.

A fire is lit in the kitchen.
It seems to hint of the morning outside.
The warden, used to the world
Groveling at her blue toes,
Hitches up her skirt for the stump
Removers, who ignore her.

They were dumped on the doorstep too.
This was long ago, when nuns ran
Things inside. God, they say under their breath,
You’re like a sheriff patrolling the square
On a three-legged horse,
Making a big fuss out of nothing.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Sideshow of the Dying

Everything is dying.
Just ask the snowman watching
A comet at midnight
Reflected in a child’s window.
He’s only got till the next thaw.

State fair livestock barn.
Think on it for a second
In front of the biggest beef cow in
The country waiting to climb
The stairway to heaven.

There is a graveyard,
An old pine lot, a watchman at night.
Necrophile, when the crowd lets out,
Go on home for a change.
The grave is for those robbed of life.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Misdirection of the Meteorite

Estranged father at midnight,
I came to my senses long ago.
The meteor in parallax flight,
Estranged father at midnight,
Neither nadir nor in the light.
Our heavens have sent you below.
I came to my senses long ago,
Estranged father at midnight.

The Woman, the Crow

After Crow on a Branch, by Maruyama Ōkyo

The night wears on and on again.
A crow on a branch shifts its pose
As mists press lightly upon the fen --
The night wears on and on again.
I’ve come to love a tragedienne,
But she is late and so it goes.
The night wears on and on again.
A crow on a branch shifts its pose.

The Road

The road is lost around the bend.
I think I will resolve to quit.
Do you think the world will end?
The road is lost around the bend
But I will sing while I descend
And watch with fear my breath demit.
I think I will resolve to quit.
The road is lost around the bend.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Sleep is the most potent symbol.
It’s what we work toward each day.
We wake from death to ply the thimble --
Sleep is the most potent symbol.
It’s how we tread on nothing nimble;
We recall our youth and tremble.
Sleep is the most potent symbol.
It’s what we work toward each day.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What's the Meaning of Life?

There is no meaning in anything --
This is obvious and true.
It doesn’t matter what song we sing,
There is no meaning in anything.
We don’t fly with a wounded wing;
We don’t from above take second string.
There is no meaning in anything.
This is obvious and true.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


There is nothing left to think about. I cannot think of one thing. This solar system is all delusion and false fronts. The world of things is a curse. I believe I’ll go for a walk through the livestock barn at the state fair. At least there I can see something being born.

The Sick Man

I think I’m coming down with something, I called down the stairs to the jaundice patient waiting for dinner at my table. In my arms, an object that I could not make sense of. The power was out. I just stood there. I could see very little. The lake in the distance, the moon, the impossible everything in the maddening rhythm of a sick man pounding the table for food.

Prose Poem

A Victorian woman fell asleep nude while sunning herself and woke up in the twenty-first century. Her room was preserved, and nearly everything was the same. She did notice that Jesus on the cross had Xs over his eyes and made a gurgle, gurgle sound when you pressed his feet. She began to faint. One of the neighborhood boys who watched her in shifts made as if to catch her, like he'd seen in a movie.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bounty’s Return

Everything was in retreat. We had to navigate by way of the stars. The industrial smoke outside the carriage window was beautiful. You could see sparks running along the power lines. O’ quaint town, I pray for thee. The inscription on the grave of my dead uncle read: I was a loose tooth on a kite string.

The Voyage of the Bounty

Everything was absurdly ordered. Black cloud, lonesome lot. A tacky sunset hanging on a keychain in some god’s Jeep, who stopped to make love on the beech. Meanwhile, I’m slapping the asses of cattle as they climb the stairway to heaven. I have no coat, and my sunglasses have no lenses. My breadfruit lunch is at the bottom of the sea.

Prose Poem

Everyone kept aging. I was young and then I was old, and I couldn’t remember which I’d been first. We all met at a café every morning to compare faces. Hers was not the face I remember; his was his, but like vinyl too close to a fire, or like silly putty on an Archie comic. A war ended while we ordered. It took a lifetime for coffee to arrive, bitter and out of breath, trembling with any slight movement.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Astronomy 101

I grew up in the cosmos.
Our house had no roof.
I chased a comet’s tail through school.
The principal on the intercom
Announced the vacancy of his position.
His wife was a star, he said.
We laughed and played
Blind Man’s Bluff all the rest of the day.


A man who watches everything in a rearview mirror spends his retirement on a caboose. Every morning he sees the sunset, the stars peeking out. A brakeman in an orange jumpsuit brings his supper. The tracks in the distance, glinting in the moonlight, wind to and fro like a night adder. I feel younger every day, he says to himself. I’ve got my whole life ahead of me.

The Comet

A dead night you fell into,
A dead city adsorbing furious porch lights.
Devil’s cake crumbs for the crows.
A walk through this spray-painted alley,
A wasteland smelling like a swamp.
Desolate man using a rearview mirror
To watch the comet.
The comet not coming around again
Anytime soon.

Great Traditions

I’m wearing a suit at breakfast. The morning shotgun scented, dead leaves crisp as crab rangoons. My cereal is stars and planets. The other of the Great Traditions is the walk through the headstones. I keep turning my back at a single leaf tumbling after me. I keep thinking it’s the Confucius of Chongming Island. I keep getting my foot stuck in urns.

Tryst in the Forrest

The trees are bare as bare is white.
I stood on tiptoes to kiss a shadow
But my love slipped away in the night.
The trees are bare as bare is white,
Ghost leaves flutter just out of sight,
And I have loved a love below.
The trees are bare as bare is white –
I stood on tiptoes to kiss a shadow.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Night

As night fell, we tried to duck
Under it. My stepmother in her
Dress of curtains, her child
Playing copycat with an old man’s
Cries for help.

“I’m afraid,” he’d say, and a
Little voice would tease him back.

The night pressed us into the
Trench, mud blackening our glasses.
All of the crops were crushed,
And the pond was shot and left for dead.
Stars burst like flak overhead.

“I’m dying,” the old man cried.
“I’m dying,” teased the child.

Trial and Error

God was on trial.
The judge wore a false turtleneck,
Had a moustache of smoke.
His gavel was a yo-yo he’d
Sleep hypnotically like a child.

There was an air of great excitement,
The floor obscured by smoke.
The courtroom had no ceiling.
The jury was mostly Greeks
Wearing 3D glasses, discussing

A Catholic pinup from the 50s.
Everyone was waiting for the defendant
To be brought from his cell.
A mob with pitchforks pressed
Against the westwork.

They had spent the day
Amassing a pyramid of firewood.
Has anyone a match? they
Called out. It was a miracle
But no one did.

All Those Lonely Nights by the River

Youthful river, sticks and stones,
A scarecrow is caught in your current.
He’d been trying to see his reflection,
The moon and the mandolin,
But like an idiot fell in.

A chorus of baritone bullfrogs,
Striking their work at the factory,
Throw rocks at his head.
A taxi driver with a chewed cigar
Gets a rake and tries to pull him in.

But the flood comes and breaks
The scarecrow apart on the weathervane
Of the boat shed. The sky is blue.
There are tufts of grass like
Moustaches on the trunks of the trees.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Take a Letter

The night is flat black;
[Not a window is lit
In this sleepy little town].
To wit the wind

Through the white tree
In the otherwise dark forest,
Ipso facto from the power line
Hangs a threadbare hobo coat.

The typing of a dead playwright
In the outhouse with the crescent moon.
Please keep quiet, will ya?
I’m trying to hear the Big Bang.

“Do you want that in the letter?”
Who’s that voice? I asked.
Put everything on the penultimate.
I beg to remain omitted.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Visits from Lincoln

Lincoln's ghost, who kept his false
Eye in a jar of smoke at night,
Peered at me from my mirror looking
For his lost love.

I lived above the clouds on
Mt. Fuji with Lady Murasaki, and
When the wolfsbane blossoms fell
Open she left me for another.

Blue with argyria, I spent many lonesome
Nights under the moon in the graveyard
In Antietam. Lincoln visited me
There too, giving phlegmatic

Speeches about celibate passions,
His love’s water-in-sieve trick,
Interrupting himself once to exclaim,
My god, you've been left for dead!


A wren stole my voice, so I had to write things down --
Impossibly demanding, considering my hands
Only exist in dreams. I fell asleep each time
I had an idea, taciturn, stillborn out of sleep,

And my dream fingers would begin to move like sticks,
Carefully, patiently, they grasp the sheet of paper,
That like a sprung trap shook with fright. O’ Pangur Bán,
I could use your sharp claws. It’s a nightmare to talk asleep.

Awake, chary, I read what I penned:
“I’m going to get that goddamn wren.”

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Back Way

Look at the melancholy sky.
It’s like an orphan’s painting.
Even me, I'm not in love with anyone.

The meadow is crushed with fog,
And the crows on the dead tree
Make the outline of a skull.

The clock has struck some ungodly
Hour. I should light a fire with my ticket
home to warm my toes.

I stand here in the middle of nowhere,
With only my memories under my cap.
What good are they anyway?

Now new snow is falling.
There is a moon on the sheet metal.
When I blink, I have no face.

Prose Poem

A neighbor kept pointing out that we have no roof. It’s better this way, we yelled, ducking the hail. We dined with owls, and my wife’s hair kept the snow from my face as I slept. Our chimney, tube socks stitched together and held up by a giraffe, was the finest on the block. Our fire was visible from the moon that haunted our dreams.

Prose Poem

It was nearly the dawn of the apocalypse, we were led to believe. The school principal spent the day sharpening a mountain of pencils. The janitor, who lived on a raft, drew Groucho moustaches on the children as they filed in for lunch – a dish of wine and bread. All were hush during the school play. Everyone was a character, and in the end everyone tragically died on stage.

Prose Poem

The bus driver had diarrhea. He kept stopping every block to run and knock on someone’s door. A woman’s roosters where crowing. Everyone on the bus was singing different songs, which made it tough to watch for meteors. The old man next to me wore his silver beard as a shirt.

In bed I heard someone yelling in the yard at midnight.
Is that Eric the Red?
Well, duh, my wife who was also my therapist said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Invite the Devil to Dinner

Dressing an otherwise
Poor bird for dinner
With the town priest,
We use sharp herbs from

The stoop, fresh ones,
The ones that hoarfrost
And that tart-making
Neighbor don’t touch.

Perhaps it’s Lady Day?
I cannot say it matters,
As in death and taxes,
The truth is a shadowy figure.

A wren flew into our
Hearth and stole the flame.
We wait for a sign like a
Dog waits for the neck.

It is the world, after all,
That we have to contend with,
Whistling past the graveyard.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meditation on Pasture

Prairie fern, and prairie fracture –
This is the processional way
The landscape expresses its classical
Roots. Cow pie is a ruined column,
Stinging nettle is acanthus,

And the graveyard is our
Geocentric model.
The stars above, what’s beyond
Them, and what’s beyond that?

The zodiac can only screen our desire,
Add a little mosaic, arabesque.
O' scum pond,
Prairie observatory, giant
Reflector aimed at the moon,
We skinny dip in your convex sight.

Monday, December 11, 2006

If Only the Ancients Spoke, the Sky Would Too

For J.N.

There is a moon out tonight, and, I hate to admit it,
New fallen snow. The crows lining the telephone
Wires have vanished. It is an abyss, to be sure, but we
Can make something from this material.
I wish to. There is a valley that I’ve walked in all my life –
All is silent there, and I can follow the zodiac,
Calliope, straight between these hills, blue as blue,
Into the ancient heavens that wink. Narcissus, o’ fate,
Echo me while I sing; it’s midnight and the ironwood’s
Heart is tight wound like string. Idyll wind, packager
Of what goes down, blow a bluebird’s feather my
Way, because I need something to point me home.

Roman History on the Prairie

The prairie wind is Romanesque this evening.
Stars engaged behind something or other,
Call it cloud or what you will.

I spent the day searching for a word,
But it kept slipping from sight, O Pangur Bán.

With the state fair in the distance,
The expanse in the west with a Risk board of fields,
The goths from the city have parked their
Car on the lookout, which is the place to be.

An owl is making its rounds, speaking of someone
I can’t remember. The Astroturf on
The stoop is flaking off in the wind,
Making a name for itself in another world, perhaps.

Then again, everything present here
Is from someplace else.
Ptolemy, in your grave, what of our spiritual nature?
Fausta, who do you pursue?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Broken Toe Waltz

Often I waltz on a cursed and a broken toe,
Scraping the clapboard around the old rocking chair.
Picture a bright and ruined mock allegro so
Bold and almost, as seen, begging to suck in air,

I’m like that spinning asunder on grace’s keep.
Music from vents, up from below, lowly as piss,
At my hour dancing can require a steady creep.
Imagine anyone who catches a look of this!

But I will dance through tomorrow and after that
Too. Where my way is made bold and a little bruised,
Where my form forgives my feeble, overtly flat
Rhythm, my moves on a river of knowledge ruse

Any advanced baroque or a simple ballet when shown
Outside of my home, which is why I dance alone.

A Life Lived in Mirrors

I lived life in a mirror,
Sneaking between the frame.
The shadow of dust,
The face of my foreign
Grandmother forgetting
My name, these moments
I Saw in reflection.

O’ reverse zodiac,
Unmade curtains, I cannot
Remember your true names.
Wolflady, from the circus,
I thought you were a naked
Woman waiting for me.
Sunset, I thought you were
The end of something dark.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

The Battle I've Won

In the pine grove the golden finch has told me a yarn,
He sits with his face hidden in his nest so warm,
And I know I’m crazy to be here in this equation,
But I’ve got to march slowly in the battle I’ve won.

And this culture has fallen like a stamp in the mud,
And this rapture of season has come on like a flood --
I’m incensed and fragile against all that goes on,
And I’ve held on too firmly to say that I’ve won.

There’s a market in the park that sets up at dawn,
And a casino sign flashing a man with a baton,
In the churches the prayers all weighing a ton,
And there can be no supper until the last soul is won.

I feel like a rug a whole army trampled upon,
Their boots blistered with a burden as light as the sun,
Their hearts as awake as an administrative yawn –-
Being beaten this way is the only battle I’ve won.

There’s a war tearing through the old graveyard,
There’s fighting in the firelight that licks the poulard,
Bombarding and pounding au bout de son,
And I’ll know in my last breath if the battle I’ve won.

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Afternoon Tune

I lost my heart or my heart lost me,
Beat its way through the day and out to sea –

The foxglove rolling like carillon bells
And the silver sky roving with little cells.

Of course the clouds lift up their pantaloons
For the building knells of the afternoon

And the banking pipers like waving wipers,
Use their motors like rising roller coasters.

I met man in a linen suit
Who touched his cane to his Hessian boot;

He followed me like a yellow chick
Even though the briar was thick.

I scooped up a cup of flower fluff
And made a tea that tasted rough.

He said he had to wonder
Why I was pulling him under.

This is not the same day
That leaves the water filled with gray.

This is not the simple room
That feels like silent tomb.

The crust of the bread
Into which I bleed.

I lost my heart on pungent day.
It carried me away.
It asked me to stay.

Silver Thread

I was walking on shoes of lead,
Holding my silver thread --

With cardinals all around me
In the pewter trees;
With zeppelins floating slowly
Over the silver seas.

Oh thread, I sang as I said,
The world down below us
Is cold and dead.

The woman at her washtub,
With smoke in her head,
The orphan at the wheel hub,
Into his grave he’ll descend,

And all the stars in my bed –
And all the curtains to mend.

So I sent my silver thread
Into the gray north wind,
And it went whirling, whirling
Wildly, across the houses of tin.

Curling, curling through the smokestacks,
Choking the children who felll asleep
Embracing the wolf pack
That spares all the sheep.

And here I stand in my shoes of lead,
In my lonely citadel above the bay,
Watching the cardinals fly away,
Away into the rages of the day,
Holding my silver thread.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

City Life

Half of the street is still lost in the stupidity of night.
The houses are rat traps for women with tears
Drawn below their eyes. A hearse warming up, a dog
On his chain howling at the fog, fresh flowers in
The graveyard -- the morning is a waste of time.
An anxiety of wind messes up the parking lot.
Come evening, children throw a rock through the sunset.
There is also a bridge spanning a river of sweat that
a pregnant woman sings the blues from.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

What the Wind Whips Up

North wind
On the prairie,
Blowing through
The fences.

There is enough
Light to make
Out a black cat
On the woodpile.

My waiting grave
Has snow on it
And seems empty
Without a stone.

The shop windows
Are red with neon.
Ash from the Goths

Smoking nearby
Has settled on
The bum’s blanket.
A tip of a pine

Touches the church
Steeple. A woman
Sweeping stops
To look at the sky.

The Great Doer of Things

Wouldn't want to inconvenience the great doer of things
When he visits the suburbs in the middle of the night.
We use quick lime to wash away the song he sings.

The moon here is like a sandbox filled with smoke rings,
The air so thin it’s like an orphan’s blanket lit by light.
Wouldn't want to inconvenience the great doer of things,

Who goes through all the trash looking for chicken wings,
Who stalks our daughters until they go stiff with freight.
We use quick lime to wash away the song he sings.

He knows all the hotels where we book our secret flings,
And to catch us there in a quick embrace gives him delight --
Wouldn't want to inconvenience the great doer of things.

Nobody knows how he arrives or what tool he slings;
His face was only seen once, but the angle wasn’t right.
We use quick lime to wash away the song he sings;

He has no voice for singing, and the little joy it brings
Is probably created by some other thing, in hindsight.
Wouldn't want to inconvenience the great doer of things.
We use quick lime to wash away the song he sings.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Barns of My Childhood

The outside world doesn’t exist.
There was a single light bulb above
That the wind made shake.

Balls of cobwebs, bottles of HEAT,
A Mobil gas can with its red Pegasus,
Lump of corn smut in a jar,

And in the loft a pyramid of hay,
Which in different times was slept in
By transients on their way to nowhere.

I wasn’t going anywhere either,
Ten-years old, ball cap and muddy shoes,
Peering through the window, which was

Like looking through dry skin
Lit by a flashlight with a dying bulb.

The line of the tungsten prairie hung
Like a napkin from the sky,
And its blood meal entourage,

Bakelite trees, the uranium glass sun strip
On the old pickup’s windshield,
Flakes of chromium on the silos.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Sunset, Dead of Winter

Sunset on the prairie, dead winter day,
Blue grass briefly Egypt-colored,
High-rise obelisk of a silo in rough-cut shadow.
Aristotle, always metaphorical,
Comes back from the grave to
Rethink things once again on Kill Creek.
It’s hard to think of
Virtues on a day like this,
But the landscape has but one tenet:
Don’t let the grass grow under your feet.

Leadplant, the stuff toy solders
Fought in, cutting the web of their pants,
Each stalk tipped like Hatshepsut’s
Fallen obelisk, I come back to thee now
With a slug of extra weight in the midsection.
Cosmic backdrop, child’s curtain made from
Foil, yours is the poetics of parallel tracks
Heading into the horizon, drawn
In by snow, a glance back, a hush.

Sunday, December 3, 2006


Would you, raised by wolves,
Howl at the moon
On a clear, snow-bound night?

Living in a yard of weeds,
Down a well, wearing
A dog fur coat.

This is the same well
Jesus fell into, the one
The bum wearing socks on

His hands sleeps in at night.
The streets are as quiet
As an empty nursery.

The townspeople have
Closed their windows.
Huddling in evening wear,

Waiting for the power to
Come back on,
Their red roses are covered

With the sheets
They haven't washed since
Their honeymoon.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Crooked Meditation on Early Winter

Embank me, o’ envelope of low thought.
No longer longing for anything worldly,
The bum and I together pray for nought.

In spires of trees the rapture of burley
Bludgeons the name of a lover who’s gone,
As if it were a sad little song. The rain

Has come! the rain has come into dawn!
O’ morning canter, plow clean this lane
With strokes of wings above the cityscape

And melting Christ-faced snowmen by the curb.
Bring green women of bushes to undrape,
And fish in newsprint to ruin the suburbs.

An old woman smoking through her teeth
Has won the scratch off lotto underneath.

Friday, December 1, 2006

From Existence, From Smoke

What is said is said out of unknowing,
The mind’s intuitive leap an act
Of great reserve, an expression lost to

The pronoun-force of the fall.
It’s October here, datelessly still, cold stickle-curling
Itself on windowpanes, frost caking

Down the grass. Renewal stalks like a slow loser,
Lost in its details. I can feel it moping
As I feel it reconsidering, pine-line shot-peened

From existence, smoke tubing like sleeves
In the narrow sky. I’ve lost myself in this weather,
What I say and what I don’t say in belief

Of things better left unsaid. Caught in fog, just
Started smoking, Little Goody Two-Shoes’
Two shoes filling with hailstones. What good is

This pocket mirror with no light to fill it? she asks.
She may have something to keep in mind.
In the harsh light off autumn, winter light once

Removed, a reflection is merely a copy…
But what is said is said falling,
As children fall, faceless, down in the leaves,

No gamble, no residue in that earthen mixture
Of the flashing point by point.