Tuesday, November 18, 2014

phoenix (an inverted zombie life)

phoenix (an inverted zombie life)

“Because,” said the hunger artist…“because I couldn’t find a food which tasted good to me.”

“I was afraid, I'd eat your brains”
“Conversation 16,” The National

i am not interested in arizona
but another state altogether


i am hopeful that the part of me
that died can rise from the ashes


it is lonely living while dead inside
no urge to eat—an inverted zombie life


this state has no decayed flesh or moaning
although the living somehow remain distant


to rise then in the arms of another entirely
and to resist feasting on her skinny throat


Wednesday, November 12, 2014



it was written in chalk on the sidewalk, i suppose,
not chiseled in granite as i’d always believed

winds and rain erase i love you’s in colored dust
while gravestones weather generation after generation

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Disciplines (all those terminal degrees)

The Disciplines (all those terminal degrees)

We are from different times
and different places,

but intersections and magnetism
are beautiful narcotics.

I am now forced to be an archeologist
of my own dreams

where you come again and again
offering indifference.

This is a different kind of discipline, then,
because it is not my field,

and even in my rare dreamweaving,
I am a rank amateur.

Sleeping, I must not shout out your name
in the middle of the night;

I must not fling back warmed covers,
leaping up to run again to you.

But it is there I am disciplined, a Grand Master,
a Jedi, a ninja in all black,

having perfecting the nuanced art of lies
and deception—of not being me.

The disciplines lead us to the inevitable, I suppose,
of all those terminal degrees.

Monday, October 13, 2014

i do not fall in love

i do not fall in love

I won't need any help to be lonely when you leave me
“Slipped,” The National

i do not fall in love with perfect
i did not fall in love to find your faults and fix you

i could make quite a list
of all the ways you drove me mad again and again

but if we had negotiated on even one
you would have no longer been the you i love madly

and my disingenuous professions of love
would have been manipulations seeking someone else

i do not fall in love with perfect
i did not fall in love to find your faults and fix you

and so i must now face the ugliest truth
wanting as i do to change your mind about me

realizing as i do the you not wanting me
is the only you i have ever loved and always will

Friday, October 10, 2014

lies, paralysis, & all the things we cannot recover

lies, paralysis, & all the things we cannot recover

Yeah, I'm missing something
Abel, my mind's gone loose inside the shell
“Abel,” The National

i wake up in a bed of snakes
assuming that all the lies i live by
have been rendered real to cradle me

the first thing they all do is ask me
with their heads tilted just so “How do you feel?”
as if they are intent on listening seriously

they seem completely unaware of the snakes
because of course they too are magnificent liars
and no one acknowledges another’s bed of snakes

this is simply a ploy to allow a brief pause
before they tell me the consequences of The Accident
“The Accident,” they explain, “has left you paralyzed”

as if The Accident is a sentient creature like the snakes
and it is then i realize neither the snakes nor the paralysis
is even close to the worst of this bed i have made to lie in

you see the snakes are simply all those lies come alive
and paralysis is the manifestation of the inner me
the paralysis i have covered in a hissing bed of lies

the worst of it all is something only i can tell them
which is that i have no memory of my past life at all
with this their heads tilt again and they declare

“Ah, well, we are not sure about the paralysis,” they admit,
but we can certainly help you rebuild your past!”
and so they begin to tell me everything they can offer

strangers, family, and friends are all the same to me
but they each sit patiently one by one beside my bed of snakes
telling me stories in no particular order with no clear value

paralyzed and lying in a bed of snakes i know mostly one thing
something or more importantly someone remains lost in this
something or someone i can never recover is my final fate

knowing there is a vast and precious unknown i cannot recover
leaves me paralyzed and hopeless as a snake in a foot of snow
wishing to recover the unknown and all the sadness it brings

Thursday, October 9, 2014

polish (this did not happen)

polish (this did not happen)

Then, without hesitation, she grasped Tengo’s hand, and looked up into his face….
Then she suddenly let go his hand, and with the hem of her skirt flaring, she trotted out of the classroom.
1Q84Haruki Murakami

i prefer black nail polish
or shades so dark they appear black

although “prefer” understates
this fascination and my jealousy

and then i see your most desired hands
the polish a pinkish-orange i’d call melon

so i ask you if i may hold your hands
each nail like a precious Jordan almond

and you smile raising your hands to me sighing
it’s been so long since we’ve held hands”

it wasn’t you
this did not happen

the hand and nail polish more pink than orange
merely a passing car and someone i do not know

and then the fist of remembering you pounding in my chest
while i alone in my car drove down this black highway

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

diligence (skeleton key)

diligence (skeleton key)

Perhaps an even more distressing prospect for Habara than the cessation of sexual activity,
however, was the loss of the moments of shared intimacy.
“Scheherazade,” Haruki Murakami

I'm having trouble inside my skin
I tried to keep my skeletons in
“Slipped,” The National

gradually and with reluctance
i have whittled away at my own resolve
to fulfill your wishes when you left

and then as i am walking to my morning class
a student in front of me tells another goodbye
saying your name rattling in my chest like a can

these hauntings erode my diligence to your requests
to live as if we never were and never will be again
i stand on the precipice of this my toes curled at the edge

i am reading a new Murkami short story
and it is toward the end when i realize
he is writing about the thing eroding me

and fueling my constant melancholy
because i cannot share this story with you
the thing that matters most about all that matters

everything is reduced in magnitude without you
dimmed dulled and nearly erased except what could be
and there is the limit of my diligence hidden in bone

when they dismember me
the skeleton key will be
the thing they come to see

the thing that can set me free
opening the door with a skeleton key
that allows me to be and to see

i hear your name and i recall your hands
making me the happiest and saddest i can be

Thursday, September 18, 2014

tracing (everything that matters)

tracing (everything that matters)

tracing everything that matters
took him less time than anyone imagined

everything that matters
had been with him forever

shapeless until he recognized it
and then wordless as an outline

boundary of everything that matters
boundary of everything that is missing

sometimes or to be honest often
he closed his eyes to trace the space

he knew like a recurring dream
or the echo of a shout from a well

before she dove forever into the abyss of gone
she told him that she did not trust herself

as if that could ease the longing
as if that should ease the longing
as if that would ease the longing

Thursday, September 11, 2014

impending doom

impending doom

of all the special powers
he would have chosen
this was not the one

but he had from the beginning
the ability to hear impending doom
the soundtrack of his life

but as always in these cases
with great power comes a great problem
he never knew for whom the doom tolled

impending doom subtle and pervasive
surrounded everything he did each day
fading away before swallowing him

and then as these tales seem to go
he was swept away by the one he loved
complicating the lull of impending doom

in time of course and we cannot be shocked
she set him aside and moved on without him
leaving only the now much louder ring of doom

some things take great time and great distance
but alone one day his mind drifted again to her
swimming up through the recollection of a dream

he finds her alone in a dusky stand of trees
and she turns to him opening her mouth
her voice clear and sharp as impending doom

Monday, September 8, 2014



i wrestle with the moon
and think of you

your skin in moonlight
the curve of your shoulder in silhouette

these dislocate me because
i am nowhere without you

dislocated i rise imagining
there must be another world

where you will hold me again
where a mother and child pass by

and everyone pauses to bow recognizing
this above all else this is the reason

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

blue blood

blue blood

when i read horseshoe crabs
all have blue blood

i wondered why every human
couldn’t be born rich as well

Tuesday, September 2, 2014



I know someday you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky, but why
Why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine
“Black,” Pearl Jam

i can’t help myself
drawn again and again

like Notting Hill it calls to me
against my reservations
about the unreality of pretty people

i offer this as explanation
recognizing it likely fails
as justification absolving me:

near the end after the dance
Tiffany believes she is the unchosen
running from the hall crying

and then Pat chases her
asking her to read one more letter
when Tiffany realizes she is the chosen

that for me is almost everything
the worst being the unchosen
and the wonderful possibility being the chosen

i forgive everything else untrue
about the film and pretty people
parading before us as if such is possible

because you see it is not pretty we want
those who are the discarded and unchosen
but to be that one true and only chosen

Monday, August 25, 2014

the moon is nothing

the moon is nothing

“There must be something in him, something fundamental, that disenchanted people.
‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki,’ he said aloud. I basically have nothing to offer to others.
If you think about it, I don’t even have anything to offer myself.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

dark chocolate

dark chocolate

"Alienation and loneliness became a cable that stretched hundreds of miles long,
pulled to the breaking point by a gigantic winch”
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami

i am standing at the counter
of a Starbucks
in a Barnes & Noble

i came here to buy
my small acts of happiness

there i see no dark chocolate bars
i used to buy for you at another Starbucks
that absence like the hole

resting in my chest
where you used to be
like a new book or square of dark chocolate

Friday, August 1, 2014

spoken (we swallow words like cyanide)

spoken (we swallow words like cyanide)
“We know of course there’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’
There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”

i did not want to be the one to say it
of course

we swallow words like cyanide
inoculating ourselves against the world

never spoken
never thought
never done
never shunned

these are the poisons that paralyze us
leaving us mute and fixed like an accusing stare

our sanctified commitment to silence
and the busy busy busy hustling of monks

filled nearly to bursting with all the unspoken
a smile painted across our closed lips

we imagine other worlds where holding hands
and laughing light up the rooms where everyone

and i mean everyone

talks freely and often like rising balloons
and huddled children so excited they can barely breath

i did not want to be the one to say it
of course because now that i have spoken

i have made you uncomfortable turning away
to find that place without me or my words

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

teleportation, time travel, & dreams (the empiricists have no clothes)

teleportation, time travel, & dreams (the empiricists have no clothes)

only two weeks on this planet
my granddaughter appears again in a dream
me now 1500 miles away from her

in my absence she laughs for the first time
in my dream i am holding her and she laughs

teleportation and time travel are not whimsy
resigned to our science fictions and fantasies
but the devices of our dreams reaching always

i drop into sleep and then into REM
where time and distance disappear
because the heart is a powerful engine

there i return to you again and again
to relive in order to live and breath awake
discovering in those unconscious recreations

the empiricists have no clothes