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
Read more "headlights"
moon raining crystals.
I asked sleep for a few favors.
Read more "September 1997"
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
Read more "Affection: A Bilingualcultural Poem"
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
Read more "A Thousand Dolphins"
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?
Read more "London Fog"
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
Read more "The Mock Orange at Night in Mid-July"
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
Read more "Arte Povera"
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
Read more "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.
Read more "Building A Better Scarecrow"
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—
Read more "Daffodils Laugh Out Loud"
fertile fields laugh with daffodils.
There is no hiding
among the mourning spaces.
Night air carries superstition, poison’s veil,
Read more "How Deceptive The Moon"
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.
Read more "Pandemic-Blues"
I’m making the room
Read more "Whatever Country They Exist"
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.
Read more "A Frozen Europe"
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,
Read more "Hockey Smell Poem"
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.
Read more "At my parents’ house on the one-month anniversary of my sister’s death, which is also the three-year anniversary of September 11th"
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
Read more "The Dogwood in Early June"
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
Read more "Homework"
the stacks of the factory moan,
and the sky
gets smudged with smoke.
Being young, 21, is everything
Read more "Being Young, 21"
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.
Read more "To Settle the Night"
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.
Read more "Half Capacity"
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
Read more "Portrait of Progress Lake by the First Fish from Bragi’s Calf Muscle"
Ours is not a time for overrating first impressions.
I, too, founded the New York Post on images
On the menu is barbed wire
sautéed in heartless tyrannies.
The bloodied linens of the Visigoth.
Tongues of the vanquished, broiled,
with a side order of children sobbing.
And salads of inexpressible horrors.
Today’s menu includes bandage soup,
Read more "Famished"
served drawn and quartered.
Knife pie, with a shotgun topping.
Visceral stew and smashed-mouth bread.
And the special, baked heads and hands,
which are, we think, to die for.
The picnic table. My sister’s
vaporous hair. Neighbors
in their unknown clothes.
I’m wild in blue shorts,
striped top. My mom’s
in my sister’s body.
The tenants of the lawn
rumble their tongues
like little engines and tickle
my untouched ankles.
I run the path of planets
around the wild grass
between the grass
Read more "First Memory"
between our houses. My
arms make airplanes.
One day you finally knew
Read more "Ode to John Ashbery"
what you’d been put there to do,
and did it
while the loud voices rang louder
and tugged at your sleeve,
each cry a death cry, a flashing red sign.
But you knew.
You knew what you had to do,
though the thread unwound round you
leaving you nakeder and nakeder,
its melancholy terrible.
Then the queerest thing happened.
Being almost already too late, and too dark,
the moon threw down
a bird, a
shining wild raven and in its mouth,
a flower of life.
The stars burned in its brilliance,
at first saw themselves shyly
then danced and shone round to
find themselves extraordinary.
The map of the world has changed
since I photographed you;
faded in its frame,
ink lighter with the seasons.
No Siam, no Burma,
Across the room
Read more "A Drink to End the World"
your cheekbones are sharper,
hair shorter, bright blonde as
your lips and nails are red.
Aroma from a whiskey tumbler reveals
polite wine lost to single malt.
Surgical, your laugh slices the room,
precise as heels across an Aztec tile floor.
You step out where I stand
to smoke, to stare at the waxing moon.
February morning I face the brittle air
Read more "Backyard Bird Counting"
checklist in mittened hand
two male Dark-eyed Juncos
one Northern Cardinal, male
a flock of Black-eyed Chickadees.
I estimate forty
mindful of the growing dawn.
Fortuna believes there’s something inherently wrong with this place
Only because she came here for tuna. It just goes to show you
History always lets newness and strangeness pollute the land;
A sort of win for the pinnacle of peace. The shortest
Hills have a purple smell in the evening, when, in Summit
Lake’s somniloquy, purple smells of shortbread. Unspoken,
The truth, with the eyes of Oyster Bay on it, is acting out.
Like every man does when alone on some nights, the creek is tumbling
Over an ancient basalt flow. “There’s tumbling,” the mature
Timber says, “and there’s tumbling.” The oak trees stand by these muddy
Read more "Word Arrives from Kennedy Creek Falls that Old Olympic Highway is to Die For"
Trails and their failed predictions like Anakites. Science says all
The old highways are unique, but quite similar to highways
Look for it close to the Amazon warehouse district,
not race tracks or the railroad station.
Don’t expect auto-vacuums or auto-lawnmowers,
it’s a fur-ever home for snuggle pups that don’t grow
into rambunctious black labs and for calico cuddle cats
that purr at any touch and home in on shoulders
in bed. Admission fees are need-based; declare
your loneliness on a scale of one to ten. Best
to come alone for the cheapest price, and best
deals are on Friday just after work, advertised
as Thank God I Feel Friday when you have one hour
for free. Leave your striped tie at home; the goat
teases by trying to chew on ties but gladly accepts
Read more "The Robot Petting Zoo"
carrots. Shoelaces are sometimes a problem.
Benzene blue his eyes and soul—
How slowly we fall.
An embrace of glassy green
On my skin again.
Dark blue, pinhole stars,
My body the midnight sky
Bending over his.
Hand on hand. Dreams slip
Read more "One Night on the Riverbed"
Into the underbelly
Of the universe.
I love my dog more than my dad
Read more "I love my dog more than my dad"
By a distance, not a tad
There I’ve said it, the cardinal sin
Preference for a canine to my next of kin
His big floppy ears, doughy eyes, cold wet nose
Means more to me than my father’s bones
That lay in a grave, I hope at peace
My accidental parent, who came from the East
And whilst my dog showers me with kisses
I remember the drink, the rows, the Christmases
He was never there, never told us he cared
But still I loved this boy soldier, unrecovered man
Though not as much as I love my dog
Sorry dad, I hope you understand
Seventy languages heard
Read more "Broadcast"
in the bazaar of Dioscurias,
today’s tower of Babel
streaming terrible news.
Spleens vented and faux miracle cures,
the process a disembodied entity.
A dunce in his dark corner,
pulling out a plum.
Tales of the demi-demon’s hellfire.
The annals of blah.
When fear and ignorance wed
the fools’ opinion bred.
What else is black?
A dragonfly frequenting backyards,
Flat wings, smear soot thin.
A rural road’s moonless night
where tree branches take
the passer-by pulse—they rustle
the scrape history lammed
onto bark thinly thinly
as dragonfly wings and first time
hearing white tail bucks stamp
Read more "What Crows Say About Black"
and hiss in the pitch dark I tumble
into the ditch prostrate like a penitent.
She used to touch the beard on my face,
Read more "The Beard On My Face"
Whether nascent or full,
And stroke it with two fingers.
She would indulge in the bristles
As they bit tenderly into her chin
When we kissed and kissed
The way we used to
Kiss and kiss.
She loved when it was mostly brown and a little blonde and ginger
And loved it more when the white began to overtake the brown and blonde
And touch of ginger.
If I shaved because it’s not our world but theirs
And I must get along sometimes
She would be sad but understanding of that.
Read more "Unmasked"
mask from my lips is
not an act of protest.
no liberation has
rather and excusatory
removal from a
in the name
That greedy wheedler the aspen
shakes its golden leaves. In earth,
its shoots snatch another foot.
And a young woman suddenly died,
Read more "Immemorial"
quietly, from a quiet well-loved life.
No cause is known. Her eyes
that flicked like lizards closed.
Horsetail is a type of weed; it never tires
Of itself. Make your big hands useful, and un-
Screw this greedy pipe. Second of all,
Habit and opinion failed to teach you;
Holly’s not a weed. Go toss it in the waste
Bin with your pride. They love mechanics,
Angels do. On PBS, they say the past is always
Read more "We Install a Sump Pump on (What Used To Be) a Holiday (Take 4)"
On the move. Well, you’re my engineer;
The past is time’s hypotenuse, right, dear?
Comfortable in the cold,
Read more "Wildling"
mist tendrils rising
across morning garden,
dry in the rising wind.
Cracking this year’s journal,
I release pleasure to the river.
Behind a dome of December clouds,
the sun struggles.
I’m A Vaccine Against Dumb Mistakes
and I’m here to rescue you
who want to borrow money,
Nigerian princes and
misspelling Johns Hopkins.
I am here to stop you from
Read more "I’m A Vaccine Against Dumb Mistakes"
texting while driving,
applying mascara while driving,
eating while driving,
(you get the idea)
Ocean to horizon…
land to horizon…
a woman stands
She stares at the distance
Read more "Horizon Views"
and dreams of where
driftwood was born
as its temporary home
snags her shore.
Standing tall, resolute in thunderstorms,
blizzards or sunshine, bending in breezes,
home to squirrels, hummingbirds and
owls. Silent, wonderfully silent in quiet
majesty, bothering nothing, existing, living
in due course their destiny without rancor,
war or bitterness. Who lives here with more
Read more "I Love Trees"
grace and dignity than trees? Who is it?
Never a moment of still air. Memories
a rib-crack and a hard hard way to breathe.
In the living room a dream like an infection
hid beneath the couch covers. I kept my eyes closed
tight. What happens when a past looms against endless sky
spilling cyclones and debris. Whimpers, strings
of saliva, the space between his teeth, her doggy
long tongue. I kept my eyes closed. Displaced wind,
outside squeezing through the crack beneath
Read more "So You Know Who You Are"
a door. What happens when history gasps.
somewhere on the coastline of my memory, two girls and a slick canoe
glide across a blue puddle, their opposite oars dipping in tandem.
one girl stands and stumbles like a wave overcome,
while the other sits and stares at their watery window.
beneath the girls, liquid glass and undersea sidewalk.
beyond them, a fish’s bones settled at the brink
of a sandbar’s black out. the girls are only canoeing because
Read more "the still water that runs deep"
the wave-like one is scared of fish, and feels their lips against her feet
the clouds hinted of old bedsheets
Read more "April"
left on too long
and then the fog fell clammy
in a downing with the sun
and we were so cold
the wet seemed like wind
and the turns in the road
like twists in a tortured gut
until the steam rose with bravado
from the lonely sugar shack.
My body the underside
Of a river at night, dark blue water
Strewn with a pinch of stars.
All is quiet now that I’ve lost
The will to fight. All I can conjure up
Is a lonesome silent fish, a gentle splash
Of gold on the face of the moon.
Then all falls backs into the soft,
Watery black. I’m on my back,
And my legs will not move.
All I can do is wait to be reborn.
Read more "Convalescent"
I said my goodbyes, turned back to the shore, stopped trying to find you. It took me awhile, took me a few more pink striped skies, a few more mountains, a few more years. But I found my way, wrested my skin from yours, saved myself from going under. I talk to you still, the way we always talked, close and deep without platitudes or pretense. You know I have forgiven you for all the ways you almost took me with you. You didn’t mean to, never meant for me to get swept into your undertow. You tried to stop it but I was desperate for a reason to fade away.
Read more "Rocket Man"
a raging fire, a sparkling chasm.
viper slithers to its apogee – the sun –
almost succeeds, almost destroys –
I am justified in brevity, breathing
as I, come face to face,
and so it is – angry souls in each other’s bodies –
while August burns treacherously
in the dry grasses.
Boy leaves tracks. Life trudges.
Read more "Forest Spirit"
Brooding, endorsing the searing sun,
Can’t close the seed captured here,
die brother…live sister….
no distress or bitterness or revenge –
merely randomness that
divides itself unmercifully