We trace the rarest hummingbird
in our fossilized eyes. It’s the blurring field
slimmed from its wings. It’s the blue throat
captioning our brains, saying color, wow,
color, fire, no words, shake a million nerves
then scratch out every voice. It colors you
with no other world. It holds you. It moves.
We trace the rarest hummingbird
Last night the sky was a child
coughing into a blanket, drawing
itself from a pale aurora jabbed
with another storm on the sun,
as if it’s got a circle of old friends
jumping tombstones. There might
have been a tribe of younger stars
dropping empty green rose-stems
through our curtains. Except last
night the child slipped its ghost
and stretched the sunrise against
the river trees.
I feared it would be like pulling teeth,
all hide-and-seek to avoid betrayal, not easy
like removal of a five-year-old’s wiggled incisor.
Then the miracle that my cupped hands
in hers hold water, no leaks,
no protruding river veins or age stains,
they look prayerful rather than begging.
My pointed toe could be bold, an arch
to perfect the gymnast’s leap in open air.
It’s not torrential
or even steady,
this moderate rain,
more from the eaves than
the clouds. I’ve long closed
the blinds; I hear it,
not see it. Like
the tentative steps
of would-be visitors
killed in car crashes.Read more "Pitter-Patter"
You always want it to make sense,
Like knucklebones, like how swallowing works.
Simple eye of mechanics developed
Over millions of years of failure. Humans
Are the success of their failure time and time again.
That’s whats truly alien. Truly unnatural
As the sky opens up, the black roll of stars, planets –
Some like necks on the gallows, some like an arena stage.
The maw is the medicine with death as a common side effect.
Then, nothing makes sense. Its a fugue state, lips dripping
Words over delayed relays. Mission specialists
Still sitting in Ohio struck mud like American-made pigs,
while you snort down wildlife powder and hope the TOG adaptions
They gave you don’t go liquid in your stomach. Survival
Rates of surgery in orbit aren’t what they used to be.
You, your own scalpel and organ donor, doctor, and lawyer.
The cowbird cares only for her own
propagation. Nest-stealer, child-trader.
A clutch of brown-spotted eggs
sheltered elsewhere. The cowbird
merely uses what others have created.
Others raise her children.
Others feed her young.
If her child stabs a fragile fledging
from the colonized species
with a beak that hungers for more,
this is no injustice. The cowbird is not evil.
Survival is a promise of life, not a tragedy
I stumble over oak roots
on my fat trek down to the lake,
ignore jingling ice cream vendors,
Dunkin’ Donuts shops, Krispy
Rorschach patterns on my back,
I stop for water at a tactile
stone bubbler, not distracted
by the lemonade fountains,
root beer floats or sugared
hyacinth teas and I avoid
I-HOP for lunch.
A coterie of chick-a-dees
in my maple tree.
A tribe of constellations
in the rising night.
before broken bread.
Circles of poets
from inspiration rooms.
The dad plants a garden
in tiny yard in front
of six family
digs up dead rose and forsythia.
In school the kid
gets a box of seeds
to sell for PTA.
The kid don’t know anyone with land
for growing all stuck in apartments.
The dad buys four packs,
The dad finds old bricks
makes a ring in center of garden
to fill with flowers
and all along front border,
tomatoes, cukes, peppers
all fit into little yard.
They say salt
was once so precious
that soldiers were paid in it—a salary.
A common, bitter thing
I add salt’s tear-tang to the dough
and feel my wrist and bicep work
(the ingredients of my life
are not measurable things
though I feel them pulse just out of sight)
now I see the sight I always see
out the kitchen window
as I knead and knead and knead
This is to let you know I’m newly funemployed.
I’ve grown weary of the restless noise
of earth, so I plan to gadabout the universe
in search of alternatives to humanoids.
Perhaps I’ll terraform an asteroid
and confirm the latest scientific claims
it contains quintillions in gold.
I’ll appoint myself its CEO
and send you a prospectus once
I’ve penciled out investment strategies.
She stood in the front
Of the silver and black glass counter.
Her fingers ransacked the perfume,
Stone skin reflecting in the onslaught
Of mirrored ads and a solo saleswoman –
Ms. Fake Green Eyes was fond
Of a particular smell called Trauma or Mercy,
Some obscure name meant
To bore temptation like eggs from an roc’s nest.
Fake Eyes presses down on the black and gold
Spray top, a mist pours down onto my wife’s wrist,
The aftershock of a coastal storm – two presumed lost.
Station after station
of unmanned ticket booths
MetroCard swipes unlock another world.
The performers, dancers, musicians,
the bootleg dvd peddlers,
the evangelical pamphleteers who are dedicated
to convert all the New York heathens as they rush
home from their soul-suffocating jobs.
Lean against the door
read Howl for the third time this week.
We walk up the hill
not sure how far deep
our feet will sink.
It is just December
and the day is bright
the pines and fir and spruce
We raise our heads
from the new trail to see their heights
some look store bought
even though they have never been inside.
The sunset is made of gold. It is
made of gold, the sunset, this sunset.
It is made of gold—pure gold spills down the mountainside
and I kneel before the mountainside’s golden
Kneel on the stone and burn this image into my forsaken
brain, sear gold onto my retinas, behind its sackcloth
consciousness (made of gold, it is made
of pure gold—this sunset—made of, made of, made of the quintessent
How did this happen?
Did the poet really say she hates commas –
on a lake on a wind-free day or
stepping stones so even your foot
takes for granted a perfect landing
until your ankle turns a way
it was never meant to
and you must wait by the lake
to watch water rinse pebbles
We hover low over the river. His eyes are shining,
wildfire breath coming in gasps. Wildebeests
stampede through the tall grass below us and I pray
to God everything works itself out, one way or another.
His hands are rough like mine and my father’s
before us. He’s fast undoing the knots and then
a dead weight falls away. When I look back
down, all I see are ripples across the surface
of the dark water, the disappearing backs of crocodiles.
after you cut
down the dead
the field yawns
and gives for the first
time in twenty years
of red beyond the shuddering
metal and wood teeth
the remains of man’s work
no life except
a gray body
shell of hollow skin
that drunk man without a home is yelling
“happy new years” but it’s only the day
after Christmas. for him, what’s the difference?
automatic doors open for me, the security officer
does not bat an eye.
while placing produce on the conveyor
I got distracted and
some little inkling of a poem slipped out
my mind, off my earlobe, and smacked
the ground. it flipped like a fish, wriggled
for some other undeserving wretch to receive.
in the middle of the
first season a group of
portal through Brooklyn––
Have you considered spiritual healing?
my eyebrows crunch together
no one’s listening
Sometimes the disease
is a spiritual problem
“Another milkshake please.”
The waitress eyes her with disbelief. Catalogues her stained-through hoodie and greasy hair. Not that the waitress has room to judge with her own issues: a slight hunchback and blisters covered by her platform flats that she most certainly did not purchase in the 90’s and definitely do not smell with age.
“Another one, girly? Don’t you want some food?”Read more "Milkshake"
danger danger flashing floodlights
laying bare my red hawk mind
extracting talons from the skin
of a mangled rabbit or dead horse what
does it matter you stay either way
to watch me tear at the flesh and not cry once no
you won’t see me weep this time no
you don’t own me anymore no
not in the boneyard not in the moonhouse
not in the field where i kill and oh do i
kill yes i do
Long long before long ago, Earth
Was originally set within a koru
Unfurling at every antlike moment
Directly towards the sun, until
Now it is too overloaded
With evil spirits & viruses
To continue revolution as it
Tries to return to itself
To be anywhere in the world
in any weather, to hold a book
like a child does and [moving] moves
from here to the flanks of the Vosges,
stares at a fresco by Piero
or hears an aria float out from a window
on the Coronation Route in Prague.
How fine it is to be us, to be
on the water, our thoughts as slippery,
as fluid, our moods like gusts [of dopamine]
little zephyrs of enticement,
our happiness rising and setting
with the sun, the bright seal of hope
the dimming lamp of rest.
to write abstractly
it helps to be stoned; so much
so it feels a crutch.
hip haikus, stanza
formatted. notice: no caps!
it must be for real
this feeling of peace
when I stare through the window
at our wild yard.
no lawnmower knows
this field’s overgrown nature.
it is real untamed.
a grasp on the pipe:
burned up brain pens bad poem,
he stumbles near the end.
black patches curving slick
extraordinary in its bloom
lights last flecks of
two by two geese
flee into darkness
tracks melting under toe
I’ll meet you here, tomorrow
as Seven Sister skate the sky
moon raining crystals.
I asked sleep for a few favors.
So a lightbulb became
the sun’s sojourn;
a notebook, the expectant grass;
a crayon, the watering pot;
a scrawl, the gathering dusk;
a train horn, the private night.
In Chinese, 朋友，恋人，& 爱人 are all
12-stroked characters, just as their counter-
Parts friend, couple & spouse are 6-lettered
Words in the imperial vocabulary of English
Though they are all underlined with human
Love and loyalty, the former entails twice
As much input or effort of the heart
As the latter to maintain a disparately
Similar humane relationship as a speech
Because (in part) a disgraced president invented the EPA
rockfish and croakers have returned to the Chesapeake Bay,
and new life frolics at the mouth of Baltimore’s river.
Beneath the silent bows of sailboats on the Patapsco
rarely seen dolphins ride waves like metallic rainbows,
the silvery curves of their bodies stitching clear skies
to the blueness of gently roiling waters.
Who could imagine such a fantastical outcome?
Searching your trench coat,
I looked for truths, found instead
a 1969 penny and a Green Room matchbook—
I resisted the flame.
Pockets, lined with mothed holes
and a stained handkerchief,
not my mother’s shade of red.
What can we ever know, Dad?
This urge to rummage our dead.
Out of flower now,
yet I smell it and so
must the dogs who
know where the cardinal
was at noon and the red squirrel.
Who knows which
trace is truest –
this one as if someone took
a torch to pearled sugar,
crust on custard,
almost too sweet.
We, or at least I, rely
certain in seeing.
The moon is a firefly
in the pine, a silver flash
above the greenish
flare of beetles.
Luciano Fabro assembles green flies
and beetles iridescent as death
on armatures of brass.
He calls them sculptures
though they often resemble
shields and helmets
and other objects
useful to primitive pacific tribes
or knights escaped
from medieval armories
and museums of unnatural history.
His scarabs glow with rarified light
and abide in memory:
hidden wings and hardened heads,
smooth coats of black shellac
and pins sequestered from
my inadvertent touch.
At night, they recall themselves to me
unbidden, without conscious desire.
is the witnessing grass
pressed down by boot
in joy or fear and
cut by dangerous blades
and neighbor’s gazes.
What the snow uncovers
is the secret parade,
the pawed passage
of shivering midnight
What the snow covers
is its own white with
further white, soft light
made heavy after its
nomadic fall, the flakes
ache to settle, nestle, wait.
Begin with a single stitch.
Take a switch of willow
and tie it to a stone.
Weave blades of sawgrass.
Add a crown of hawthorns
on a Sunday morning.
For eyes, two poison berries.
Various feathers for hair.
A mouth like a sinkhole.
Wear a dead man’s jacket.
How foreign-delicacy we must look
So glittering-feast for silver handcuffs like fish hooks
On the fishing lines of Met police
Our fleshy white meat
Scattered like bait in the woods
We all clenched-jaw, shark-teeth keys now
Double rows of razor-sharp between knuckles
Dragged up on the dock and weighed
Price gouged for market
Fish-eye frozen on a casket of ice
What do we taste like?Read more "Shark In Shallow Waters"
I drank from the fur cup. It tasted like you – orange blossom honey infused with fire. If our forebears had remained in the Pale of Settlement, herding cows, exhorting God, they would have been destroyed with the rest, and we would never have happened. History is riddled with obscure coincidences. The poète maudit Stéphane Mallarme died from the same disease I have. There is no cure, no absolution, no escape. I am not only a prisoner, but also the prison. Please spare me visits from the sort of people who refer to poetry as “verse.” I just want to stand chest-deep in your flames.Read more "Touched by Fire"
In mourning spaces,
answers dangle questions.
Yet daffodils laugh in fertile fields.
Ours is a slow unfurling.
Answers dangle questions
despite a lustrous sky,
and slowly, our unfurling,
the dim voices sway.
A lustrous sky
will not mention death, for now.
Voices sway against the dim—
wonder, where are you hiding?
Death, no mention, now—
fertile fields laugh with daffodils.
There is no hiding
among the mourning spaces.
Night air carries superstition, poison’s veil,
cry of hunting owl, unbound mastiff.
Deceit manages the moon.
Dire blaze of comets fall
whips at cries of disembodied voices,
chaos of sordid death by border lies.
My reflection is running water,
an impulse through exile’s grasping past
profound as sin and consecration.
Floating in inertia, admiring
ennui through its idling passage,
I cup my hands to my mouth, rising
in terror, singing for redemption.
I’m making the room
my room with
my tired eyes;
she leaves suddenly
and nothing but
but it’s too much memory
for me to be alone.
Urban II, post coitus, made enquiries
into the etymology of escutcheon.
He barked instructions towards the Pleiades,
as was his most holy remit,
his casus belli, if you will.
God’s own genetic mandate made flesh.
In gowns of velvety purpurates,
semi-tumesence tenting his muslin cassock.
His slippers velour. Brocade of satin.
The usual finery designating position.
A high seat assigned at privilege’s table.
Clubs you like a rank bludgeon,
it does. It’s in the hallways, waiting
at the elevator doors. Smell
like an elbow bent six years
and peeled open. Shelled
spongy scruff, a man-shed oyster
that stink, like the sea’s,
is rich with promise. It’s not all
charnel. On every tide an elegance
of power in skaters
fast as gulls and as fierce.
it snows. Too early for snow but seasons change.
On the warm ground snow falls all day,
fat white splashes not quite like ashes, but
with a purpose, a quiet, eerie mismatch of
What for, why, how can this be.
There’s a hum. I can’t hear right.
This silence is deafening.
I hate snow.
A chainsaw sits near the door of my childhood home.
The door’s knob wore down and fell off.
The door forgot its name, is listening for it in the wind.
A pair of rubber work boots stand nearby.
They rub together, rattled by a cold breeze, a
synthetic scratch, scratch, daring me to enter.
I’ve waited seven days for this dogwood
to unfurl its white cups, to drink the light
it gathers. Other flowers have passed
their season, our path matted
with pink rhodie remnants,
but the dogwood shows off
in open space between cedar
Sun fills each cup as I witness
from shaded days steeped in protests
heated to burning, to melting,
to truth yelling and tears.
In science class we learned
the hottest point of steam
is at the tip of the teapot spout—
where streams of swelling heat
rupture the cooler air.
After school, I do my homework
upstairs in my room.
My kid sister murmurs
playing family on her own.
When the clock clicks four
the stacks of the factory moan,
and the sky
gets smudged with smoke.
Being young, 21, is everything
For wisdom does not come with age
Only tired bones and fade
And maturity means accustomed to
The crumbling of a once great temple, you
Invisible now, featureless, faceless
That’s the rub of the wrinkly skinned
Who live in seaside towns, with mothballs twinned
And all this whilst the beautiful people
Run like gazelles, screw like rabbits, have such delicious fun
God, it’s just not fair, though once I was there
In the class of being young, 21
Sky streaks lavender and orange to lowering blue.
Night chill rises, flicking at pants legs, leaf piles,
dampens sidewalk to footstep skate.
Beyond the greasy click of a security gate,
last birds circle to settle on a sleeping roost,
scavengers slink the hedge lines,
eroded wastes of tree root, fence rot.
Phone-nervous, the late-working husband,
lover late with wine and Chinese
hustles towards an unsettled greeting.
who is essential
claiming following science
strip clubs open
liquor stores open
corporate box stores open
restaurants and critical thinking
both at half capacity
The eagle’s knees, they speak to me in legalese
Today. The sun is crying; its cedilla couldn’t be
A mere façade! A rotting moon and decomposing
Stars invented yesterday, its bats and troubles.
Dolly Varden swam through history’s jittery
Arteries to get here. Swans without ressentiment
Sing Dolly Parton songs. The sky is like a queen
Without a nose to every lesser long-nosed bat.
The S&P 500 tries to steal this mental real estate,
Pretending it’s a moral act. I eat their R&D, and
Do it trenchantly, astonishing my food with
Time’s mayoral tact. Now every day’s a crisis,
Sexually attracted to cat urine. Emily Post says
Ours is not a time for overrating first impressions.
I, too, founded the New York Post on images