Today, this is how I want to be:
I want freedom. No paper-thin platitude
but the hard, paradoxical kind.
I want a ruthless kindness to shine
unchecked from my uncreased forehead.
I want the artful sun to rest forever
like dry cotton on my shoulder.
I want fate to meet all my imperious
and inescapable desires with yes, yes
or if not, I want it to remove them.
I want power over my wanting.
I want power over change.
But see how all my ways are tainted,
how eagerly my loose ends tend to fear.
See, anytime I lose someone dear
I found her there in the barren middle
of the concrete desert of my driveway
on her way to some buggish liaison or
other insect ritual. She trundled south
with some inscrutable arthropod purpose.
Shy, I introduced myself. Hello, friend.
I offered a finger. I’d like to know you.
What fills your days with concern?
Do you have many days? Neither do I.
But you look like you understand
your place in the outrageous universe.
Where are you headed, on your journey
across this great white expanse?
Me? Oh, I’m human. How to explain? …
When she walked out of her school, down the grassy hill
approaching the passenger door one fine pandemic morning,
returning back into the welcome grip of parental safety
from this virus-haunted world of old folly and grim surprise,
her face above the cloth was a mask of young puzzlement
staring at the roof, faltering as if she didn’t quite know
the face of her vigilant father, there on time to claim her,
doing his best in his Hyundai, dirty and still missing the fin
that popped off one night in the dark after seeing a woman
he thought might replace her mother, but was only a phantom…
The happy green globes hanging round
from the thick lignin fingers of the apple tree
are bright and pluckable, like an obvious truth
with something uncouth to say to me:
Why so afraid of a plucking? Why fear the knife?
The tree fears neither; it builds no fences.
Its resolute ligaments never writhe before the axe
and offer no attacks, and shun defenses.
Above, the clouds slip by like the slow scrollbar
on some god’s newsfeed. Can the news be good?
The cunning of meat won’t always prove ready,
or match the steady thoughtlessness in the wood.
Below, I’m cutting…
Beneath the table a fearless child grasps, pulling with meaty fingers
The wooden lip of a chair, aiming to stand, to walk just like them the
Surface of this dazzling world. Through the high air, sharp parental
Words dart like birds, beyond grasping. But time has opened its stops!
Begin the building, the forming, the great decoding of this labyrinth of
Boiling pots and charged sockets, conspiring with chair-corner knives.
Beneath the sails a powerful man enacts sharp commands, defining all
The shapes and lines that move his world, carving new grooves in the
Surface of the water, to drift him into…
A parable on regret
What do you know of regret? Have you savored its odious odor, its acrid mouthfeel? Do you know the ripe slick taste of old mistakes, formed into a bitter bolus and regurgitated, daily, hourly, by the minute? You chew and rechew anew, again and once again in a manner most bovine. It just might choke you. I say, spit it out.
I sat in the bullseye of my life, staring wanly up at the snaking cracks where the light sometimes filters in. I considered the angles of the sky and the trajectory of my happiness. I…
Look, here is something to object to:
the senselessness of endings. This world
and all its weary windblown monuments
know the faded old script of the ritual.
Something is born, builds a defiant life
flings up its flags, blasts its proud anthems
forges its red paths through green and brown
becomes intricate and amazing
then transports itself back, all at once
to the realm of dirt and silence.
Over and over, the bloom and the burgeon
the one busy, honeyed summer of days, then
rushing in, the collapse and the crumble.
But, here’s something to accept, too:
the meaning in an…
When you are marooned
face down in your bed, waiting
for the cocoon of warmth to form
while winter sits on you like a carpet
and you huddle in against the conviction
that your toes are tiny hooves of ice,
Try to recall the ninety-five degrees
of the long days of overworked fans
and the droop of indignant leaves,
of naked legs stuck openly to sheets,
of air made thick with too much sun
and feet hung forgotten from holes
in the porous borders of your blankets.
You dreamt of an icy salvation, then.
Tired of fire, you…
I am kneeling near the ferret’s cage, listening for death. It doesn’t smell any different in here — the air bears the usual sting of that persistent musk that will always be with me in the olfactory vault, and which I wonder if we will never get out of the carpet either. But I haven’t heard her for a couple of days, running back and forth between the cages we gave her, through the drainage pipe I fashioned into a tunnel between them. Normally, every day she could be heard, rising from her sixteen hours of sleep to demand to…
Wasp, I found you. I was kneeling next to my new pea plant,
training its wild tendrils up the straight angles of my desires
when I heard you arcing in past my ear, and I found you,
mandibles full of juicy pulp, betraying your secret hideout
and every spring it seems we play this same old game.
You hide, and I seek. Where will you conceal it this year,
your strange paper house with its many identical chambers?
Attached to the usual eaves by a thin cord not much unlike
your own alien waist? (Did you model it after yourself?
Or is this a simple parsimony of fewer trips…