the H.E.B.

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.

later,
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.

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Ohp, uhp, oop … okay

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.

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London Fog

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.

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The Mock Orange at Night in Mid-July

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.

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Arte Povera

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.

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Shark In Shallow Waters

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
2.99/lb

What do we taste like?

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Touched by Fire

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.

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Daffodils Laugh Out Loud

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.

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The Dogwood in Early June

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
and fir. 

Sun fills each cup as I witness
from shaded days steeped in protests
heated to burning, to melting, 
to truth yelling and tears. 

Read more "The Dogwood in Early June"