After Work

I saw lightning strike tonight.
The sky lit blue, the treeline

That Hospital Quiet

On this ward, not only beds
but halls are quiet. There's no
procedural bustle, no rolling beds,
no IV stands on wheels.
The hallways crawl, instead,
with empty bodies.

Some float along the ceiling
aimlessly. Others press flat against
the floor, as if longing to feel
the sweet deep earth beneath them.
Most bounce along the walls,
drawn toward TV and snacks.

We all wear the same red socks,
as tourists sometimes wear
bright hats on expeditions in
a strange city, so they can
recognize each other.

At night, when I wander, only
one remains, clinging with all
her spindly weight to the spinning
floor. The cross tattooed
beneath her ear twists with
her neck, resembling more
a lethal-looking dagger
than a symbol of salvation.

She bears it, all the same.


What Poetry Is - A Series Of Definitive Statements

Poetry is knowing both how to remember
and how to forget.
Poetry is admitting the world began last Wednesday.
Poetry is about what we do not know about anything.
Poetry is about what we do not know about everything.
Poetry is letting your words fall out of your mouth and letting them go,
like toddlers crossing a traffic-heavy highway alone; they are no longer yours,
and you cannot hold their hands and explain to the mystified world what you meant by what you said.
Poetry is getting up and leaving the room full of stuffy aphorisms
and slamming the door.
Poetry is seeing what a man means
in the light of what he says.
Poetry is having Teddy Roosevelt pronounce you bully.
Poetry is playing the strings on a woman
and making love to a cello.
Poetry is trying to describe color.
Poetry is saying what people don't realize they don't want to hear until after it has already been said.
Poetry is writing letters to orphans to inform them their credit report is shot.
Poetry is building a brand new pair of tits for the Statue of Liberty.
Poetry is mercy even for the merciless.
Poetry is madness.
Poetry is poltroonery.
Poetry is drawing blood from a stone.
Poetry is throwing rocks at a ghost.
Poetry is seeing yourself through the eyes of another.
Poetry is tracing out the wrinkles in your own old face.
Poetry is knowing that one moment lives the death of the last.

This Has Been Declared

As for me I see an island
Flecked with fog and filled
With all the doers of deeds
Who have been sent there since
The passive voice became so popular,
To hide in clouds of periphrastics
And relieve their writers of the
Dangerous possibility of penning
An honest declarative sentence.
But worrying need not be done.
The problem has been addressed,
And the complaint is seen to be so
Unimportant, that it need not even
Be asked by whom was it made.


Two Dolla, Make Your Psyche Holla

Ain't nothing popping about pop culture to a man
grew up reading books and found
a worn copy of Walker Percy's Lancelot
in the Book Nook at age sixteen, dollar
fifty, real angry, got the sin bug just in time to find
a coverless paperback of Steppenwolf,
Herman Hesse's German existentialist apology,
learning how to recognize a freak
in the basement of the Hawley Public Library,
twenty-five cents at age seventeen,
then came across a book sale on the
campus of a college of Liberal Arts
another quarter, a fresh edition of
Immortality at eighteen years,
translated from Milan Kundera's French original,
figuring out the feminine physical,
figuring out it's not that difficult,
figuring out that giving joy might mean
never having none for himself,
eight quarters, three books, two dollars, one whole,
one man raised on dangerous literature,
and never did they ask
what keeps his ears apart.


Beyond Beyond

I'm reading Nietzsche,
And life is peachy,
But only when the will to power
Takes a meditative shower.
And the woman?
Well, nothing rhymes with her.

Tycho Brahe: A Made-Up Poem

Most people don't know that
Kepler murdered Tycho Brahe
For reasons political and planetary,
And published a false report
Of his death, in which he
Attributed a humiliating end to him,
In which the astronomer,
Too embarrassed to leave the
Banquet table, perished
When his bladder exploded.

Most people don't know
Who Tycho Brahe is.

Maybe Kepler
Should have invented something
More shocking.
Died gorging himself on
Phosphorescent fish heads perhaps,
Expiring in a gluttonous halo
Of marine freaks.
But just for the halibut,
And on the other hand,
Maybe Kepler was well aware of
Possible and dangerous
Posthumous fame for his rival.
He reported falsehood well, then.

Most people do not know
Who Tycho Brahe is.



You know, stranger,
It's something of an accident
That you are the reader
And I am the writer.


What Empty Sockets In A Skull Can See

The moon is bruised tonight, and I
Shall go beneath its wounded glow
To eat myself.


I met a girl with no bones.
I gave her mine, one by one,
Till all I had left was a knuckle.
I got them back all broken when
Better bones came clattering along.


Was time,
Or distance,
Or nicer bones
The executioner?


There is nothing more undignified
Than the silhouette of a man
Who has his bones unceremoniously
Handed back to him with no warning
Or even a receipt.


The man of your dreams is a nightmare,
With shiny, shiny diamond bones that say
"Come with me and be a Senator's wife!
I will change America!"
My bones (that own no land and shake
Hands with no politicians) only ever said
That I would sacrifice myself
On your life's altar.


Your pretty face is going to hell,
Where you will see, you spineless devil,
All the things that I have done
Since you gave me back my broken bones.


In my dreams, I burn every
House, cottage and apartment
Of which you ever fancied yourself
The skeletal princess.


You took with you any evidence
I once lived well and loved without a fear.
You abandoned wreckage.
There are penalties for that,
When your breathless corpse blisters
In the air of the living,
And you have to defend your falsity.


You swallowed my ring.
Now get on your knees
And sift through your shit
For the sheen of silver.


I hereby draw a border in my life
That you will never be allowed to cross.
If you do, my muse will cut your throat.
Do not dare think of me.
You have no right to any memories
Or sensations from the past in which
Your boneless body's shadow overlapped mine.


When we met,
I did not know who you were.
I did not know who you were.
I do not know who you are.