Friday, September 30, 2011

You Gave Me Burning Eyes

Lord God, dear Sir
who is from first to last, who raises
suns and flowers and the dead

and gives them rest, forgive my little heart
for giving so much thought
to these mere men.

It’s hard sometimes
to look at glory’s image in the night
and think of day.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Strange Word, Fear

I can’t think of gentler hands
than yours, which strangle death, applauded
Phinehas and his javelin,

hands that held the bursting seed
of atom’s nascent energy (before sonic waves,
before fire was, or sun or star)

while wisdom watched.
I have looked for tenderness elsewhere,
places with fewer wars,

smaller voices, thicker walls,
but in the shaded caves of icy earth
and hell there is little like love.

I don’t know why I search still.
It’s like I hope to find
something to ease my mind when thoughts

of goodness kick its doors
and punch its floors and ceilings.
Did chaos hate you for unfolding

order in her gut, knowing well
that beauty would come forth from her
in time?


I thought I saw your footsteps
on my mind’s favorite mountain.
But I am a fool
and he was a stranger.

What would you, if it could be, think
of such complicated gardens?
I think you would pity the poor
soul who spent so long digging
and burying stones.

Darling, defend me.
I have written a tragedy
and the fifth act is ending.


How many more letters will I
will myself don’t

It gets tiresome,
unspending energy.

Like running a race backwards
into bushes and trees.

What's the Opposite of Miracle

We are never addicted to bad things
like old bananas. Or thumbtacks. Or worms.
Well, maybe worms. But usually we burn
plants that smoke that fills us makes us feel
good, or lick sugar from lips lipping
good, or rub skin that sings a sin so
good. Once is enough

for a hook but it doesn’t matter how many
hard days you give me, I know there’s no
fresh water here: I’ve turned every single
soft thing to stone.


I just want to sing to you
but things come up. Yes I must complete this thing
this way this day. I want to sing to you
drumming desire down.


Poor Pluto.
Poets sing elegies

but I am not poetic
nor a singer. There are two ways

to not be:

to be forgotten
or renamed. I commend you,

graceful nonexistence,
perfect cold.


You can quit, strange weary thing
I call my soul, your false rebellion.
He knows you better than I know you
and he told me you are aching,
that all your blades and ready words
have turned

dull against his raging heart, a fire
that melts completely. Look around:

Your guns and shields and very clothes
are ashes blown by whispers.


It’s about as difficult as you’d think,
running with a mirror held up to your face

an arm’s length away, bobbing with pounding steps.
I try to keep an eye on my feet

and the foot or two of ground I find
in front of them.

It’s amazing how few dangers you can spot;
pebbles and stumps and even shadows sometimes

win. And I trip and I dust off and I rise and I keep
running with this stupid thing in front of me.


pull your limp foot over past the green
edge of the lake turned black you black
thing face shining nearly white in the sunlight
how much like an angel or mirror
of light you seem with that telltale leg
built for the deep. Your webbed feet your hands
slowly layered in the dust you are trying to breathe
this air that is ours this frightened air
pierced with your dark exhalations


Strong winding weeds (we call them
choke-weed, bind-weed,
forgetting their native names)
long too for home, for weeds
are fruitful plants misplaced, which,
panicked, as unwelcome guests become,
begin to seed
and conquer accidentally.


he left us
when he left us
to keep the fading things
till sweet Life comes again to swallow salted death


Although the Grave, since long before life was
and thus could end, lay before him, open, and the world,
its muscular mountains, its endless depths
and cliff-lipped face all fit beneath his heel,

he danced with Death, clasped hands with Death
and held her stinking body close. He let
her arms wrap hard around him, black hair winding round his face—
for us, her tongue-tied loves, her semi-slaves. He came

to end all things that rot and kill:
the moonlight swimming in her eyes,
the way her hands seem warm and safe
from far away. He came to kill our master,
take her place.


I need a fresh thing; rope the day
wild inside the cage of this small mind

and lead him out. Poor sun.
You poor unbroken sun,

so long weighed down by blind
and murderous clouds.

Free to Fear

Slipped from law’s leaden noose,
my neck feels free to follow good
and free to fear

One only, to forsake the flagellation
and praise of happy swinging souls.
I thought wisdom was hand-holding

the flip-switchers, the blade-
sharpeners of this kind state,
but wisdom keeps cutting my ropes
and strings.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Proverbs 15:30

Hold out your match:
there is a fire in my eyes,
a vision of your harrowed fields
burning in the summer sun with joy.
Last night you heard September rain
becoming what you thought was hail
and hid your face,

but as you mourned I looked
out upon your acres and saw seeds
drumming down in open earth.
I know you thought then I was sleeping
and think I’m dreaming now, but June
will come, and I’ll be here
kneeling in your fire of bliss and green.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


out of the gate
this smell this crying crowd
it bites my nose my eyes I can’t
see running blinding rush


Someone asked me (I don’t know
man or woman, someone sounding kind)
to touch the bottom of a river

I thought they meant a brook
but they meant river

They put me in a rocking boat
the one voice with many faces
we were huddled against the rain
breathing together as the motor hummed
and the wind spitting and swallowing air

and then the motor stopped
and the wind
and they were all touching me as I looked up
hoping to see the sun, touching me
saying with one voice
We’ve all done it
you can do it

so I did it
kicking in the cold, trying
to remember all the other times I’ve swum
trying to remember with my feet
and my head
my elbows, trying
to remember with my skin

but either I forgot
or never knew
how to swim my body
coming up empty

and I kicked

hard against dark
hard toward sunlight, though there was no sun

and my limbs were so heavy
lungs so tight
I forgot to feel ashamed
(till I saw them, sitting silent)
for having touched nothing
at all

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sore This Heart These Arms Are

Muscles rip. They tear
to grow. Up! Sitting on a dollar bill won’t
turn it into Jackson. And those of us
who lie

curled tight inside our minds in which
6 by 2+ inches overestimates our worth,
consider a seed

born to die to fill
our endless stomachs for a week.
So must muscles,
to make much of what they have,
be breaking.

Friday, September 2, 2011

He Promised

Rich and begging.
Close-fisted starving,
I clench and clench,
hoping to hold somehow

something. I am rich
and starving. Begging for bread
I won’t take I will not eat. Full
of chocolate and figs I don’t need you.


in your own mind. Draw the curtains
sit in the dark

I jump touched. I sing
only when I’m lonely
or alone

you’d be surprised. Sharp glances
between four pale hard walls.