31 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #184 : Finches (after Eduardo C. Corral)

I often see the odd beauty in the brutal. I read Eduardo C. Corral's poem To a Straight Man this morning and it caught me completely. I was especially caught by this movement:

               the buttons
                         on your jacket
     are finches
               I wanted to yell
                         as you vanished

These finches blended with those that Charles Darwin collected. Some of these finches were stolen in 2009 and were feared to be used to make high-end fishing lures.

Finches (after Eduardo C. Corral)

Read the poem about the beating again
then again

Do you hear the sound of the finches in it?
          the are popping from branch to branch
               they do not hover like a falcon
          they do not create wake
     behind them in the air of this space

Then again
the beating poem

In the room in the basement of the museum
the case full of Darwin's finches is emptied

Use the displaced beak of the finch
                    as a needle to patch the hole in your jeans
the golden green of light filtering through late summer leaves
          is thread enough

Feathers make lures for fly fishing
the glitter on the ends of these hooks is light
in puddles
on cobblestones

Finches collected during the second voyage of the HMS Beagle
Natural History Museum, London

30 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #183 : Zeus in New Mexico

Zeus in New Mexico

The lid of the sky
and the lid of the ground

A half-open eye

The copper stream of tears
reverses itself

The day is a statue unearthed
in a field after millennia

It is missing its body

Its hand is missing fingers

In the cataract
milky self-rorschach of shadows

This thing sees you
and now seen you exist

The view from my patio

29 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #182 : Incubate


an eye loosed
glass on skin
the enormity of the eye

then the pupil spins
it jerks
tiny t-rex arms
gripping water
working up to break the ceiling

water at boil
bone broth and simple syrup
a tail is a hand
it clouds
bubble as locomotion
eye taking it all in

what does losing a tail feel like
breaking a crystal ball
it goes down the stairs like boom
it sinks quick
skin is paper

the feeling of it inside you
a bot fly in your neck
the sound of fans
fingers on metal now
what rebirth is this
blindness and seeing for the first time

28 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #181 : Because I Am Spotted Every Day

Because I Am Spotted Every Day

When you asked about the gym with the monkey on the sign what you meant was that you thought it was gay because there was a monkey on the sign and that the monkey on the sign was flexing and what you actually meant was that the drawing was kitsch as fuck and that is has to be gay then right

And I think I said something about all gyms being homoerotic those bodies in such a small space sweating and pheromoning all over the place and watching each other and performing for each other and then taking selfies in the locker room half naked together and I probably just laughed the comment off in the end because I get it I do but let's be honest here straight men do gay shit all the time

What I really want to ask in the moment though is if you could teach me how to wear flannel like a straight man

Is there a way for me to hide better

Because I am spotted every day

Once in awhile I try stealth just to see how it feels and I only manage a few hours of it before I have to break the silence in the room and by room I mean my head because to be stealth is to actually hide something on purpose and then to have to police yourself constantly to make sure that there isn't a wardrobe malfunction

And I wonder if you have that same experience ever

And I bet you would say that you feel similar things but do you really

When you ask me about the gym being gay and then talk to me about some shit that's real straight I want to throw the pint glass and use the shards of glass to cut your face so you have something to be ashamed of for real

I can get real butch real quick when the weather permits

But only on days without glitter because if there is glitter I will stare into it and think about the light reflecting on my eye and then thick about how our brains invert the things we see to make sense of them and I will be too damn distracted to deal with putting on man for the day

Do you put on man

I check the mirror every morning to see how fag I look so I know how much fag I'll get

There are days where I can't so I don't

And there are days where I'm candy-colored pride parade

And I know there are days you'd rather not but do you know how not to because I had to figure that out at 8 so that I wouldn't be too this too that and I learned how to lower my voice a bit when answering the phone and I learned how not to accent myself I practiced that shit in mirrors and in public and I fell all over myself trying to not stand out to not be harassed to not end up beaten and or dead

And I'm being real histrionic but this is real history as well

But no that is not a gay gym it is a gym and looking at it now I don't even see how you could mistake this my understanding has bled off in the rains of late summer and frankly they have a phone number call them up and ask them if they're gay and let's see what they tell you and then we can start this conversation again after you've been called faggot for real

27 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #180 : Modern


In the bent metal siding your reflection is a mass of muted shades hard to label as you
though there is want to see you in the not you

Broken water is what all of this feels like
stone tossed into the lake then gone forever and then all you want is the stone that is gone

This is not a breakup poem these are words about the self about the missing thing
the thing that never was anyway but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This is the curse of the bent metal reflected word the blobs of color across its surface are static
there is no nostalgia nostalgia is for nostalgia

I want to say you are beautiful but how do we say that
@--'--,-- I suppose or I like your colors reflected in this space tell me what they look like for real

26 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #179 : It's Raining (After Apollinaire)

It's Raining (After Apollinaire)

A          t           h          b           i
 p           h          e          u           t
 o           i                       t
 l            s          s                        h
  l                        a          m          a
  i            b          i           e           s
   n           o          d          l
   a           d                      a           a
   i            y          t           n          n
   r                        h          c
    e            i          i           h          e
                  s          s           o          y
     a                                    l          e
     n           a          w          y
      d           l          a                        i
                    s          s           i           t
        h           o                      s
         i                        h                      r
          s            r          o          a          e
                       a          r                       a
           f            i           s          h          c
            e           n          e          e           h
            m          i           s          a           e
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             n           g          t           w
              i                        h          a           i
              n           i           i           v          n
              e           t           s           e          t
                            s                                   o
               v                       i           a
               o           c          s                       y
                i            l                       h          o
                c           o          t           u          u
                e           u          r           r          r
                s           d          u           r
                             s          e           i          d
                 a                                   c          e
                 r           a          i            a          p
                 e          c           t           n          t
                             c                       e          h
                 r           u          i                       s
                  a          m         s           l
                   i           m                     e          i
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                   i           l           e          s
                   n           a          n                      h
                   g           t          t           k          o
                                i          l           n          o
                                n          e          o           f
                                g                      w           s

24 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #177 : It Has Taken Me A Long Time But I Am Ready

It Has Taken Me A Long Time But I Am Ready

His hands are the color of leather
                                        This is wrong I know it is because it feels like theft
He reaches through the empty space of the window
I hand him the three dollars that I have decided I don't need today
                                        I am cheap - smug - airing of family secrets
                                        I have come to my own words for absolution
                                        and perhaps this is the worst part of it
I want to tell him that I am sorry but I tell him to be safe which is the same thing as sorry
                                        My own fears of poverty - I am poor - will probably die poor
                                        but I have a roof and sometimes food
                                        and since I don't have hands that look
                                        like they are coated in coal I am obviously better
I do not tell him more
and I sit and wait to turn the car into traffic in a silence that builds behind my ears like cicadas storming in their trees
                                        Better than - all my life I have felt the pressure
                                        of somehow climbing a ladder that wasn't even before me
                                        a ladder that no one told me I could even climb
They are screaming
                                        I wanted to sound better and look better
                                        I put on that drag and do my business every day
The cicadas want me to know this as I drive my car into traffic
they need me to hear these words as I listen to my music
and think about my day before me
                                        It is a weight
                                        cheap - smug - and trying not to be noticed as such
I am like this man with the dirty hands sitting on a corner by a McDonald's
I am this man sitting with a cardboard sign that says HUNGRY / PLEASE HELP

23 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #176 : Unfinished Thought On Malaise

Unfinished Thought On Malaise

                         and when I said that I just wanted to throw things to the flood
               and you broke into screaming fits and the skin on your forehead heated itself
     and your eyes reddened into sand

Sometimes we are bad people look I make choices look at all these choices I'm lousy with choices they cover the room in an installation of choices they impede progress and attempt to become life itself life of choices choices burning out themselves to become a star of imploding choices nuclear choices that will melt flesh

I don't expect you to understand with your ontology the way it is


     The impulse to undo everything is so strong

                    - put paint back in tubes - thread un-sweater - butterfly the goo-filled cocoon -

          Do not mistake this for destruction
though I understand that feeling this is more about what happens to things when they are un-ed

Do we forget them

When the city - which does not retreat it is not alive in that way - when the city cracks like a beetle under foot like exoskeletons in diatomaceous earth like the earth after rain -

                                        Do we forget that easily
if we want to I suppose we do - and when the thing falls and breaks on the pavement
we must either mourn or get the glue



Life lends itself to malaise

A sort of tentacled feeling
          suckers and all

     and all the things that might come with them
               the stinging ticks of a swarm of baby jellly fish wrapping on your legs
                         when I said it I meant it and I even intended to do it

22 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #175 : Android Poem #1

Android Poem #1

I guess I'm an asshole
                                        I don't really care all that much
                              it's a question of design

          of programming - I don't know
how to explain                                      

                                            this is not explainable
                                       it just is

20 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #173 : On This Day

On This Day

          Alfred Russel Wallace published his theory of evolution today
                    alongside Darwin's first findings -

Who remembers Wallace -
               getting to be forgotten is perhaps unfair -

History is quick -
a fog rolling in that conceals
                                        then masks
                                                  then disintegrates -

In Edmond Oklahoma a man stormed a post office
and killed 14 of his co-workers
this is the birth of the phrase 'going postal'

A response to tragedy
humor within the darkness
and his name is probably not on the tip of your tongue

And that is probably alright

Getting to be forgotten is perhaps justice -

Khalid ibn al-Walid defeated Byzantium

          The most decisive victory in military history

Getting to be forgotten is perhaps terrible perhaps alright
          it is perhaps chance that this victory opened the world to Islam
                    through conquest

Is history ever not through conquest

                    There is a part of us that finds that information
                                        too obvious
                                        too hind-sight

          History is a weather pattern out across the ocean
          that never reaches a shore without consequences

Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque
Homs, Syria

19 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #172 : light / The dream

My walk home from the bar was less and more than the night warranted.

light / The dream

Awake from the dream to the room bathed in blue full-moon light

The dream was about bloodied people in the street a woman drug behind a car

Full-moon light is about underwater colors and the fractals of time crashing on the walls

Your eye will take this all in simultaneously because we are able to hold two things in our two hands

The broken evening will become the fractured skin and blue light will stand in for red blood

Her blood was possibly purple and the street was colored in sodium vapor yellow

And the cars were just steel on tires moving endlessly forward in space

18 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #171 : August


Summer has settled into that soft green that is not quite ready to be tired but is definitely at the peak of itself

The idea of troubling the water keeps coming that the water can be troubled to be a force for healing that healing is something that one must be forced to do

Summer is sadder than winter each plant is going going going like it has no recourse and they will never get to their finish before being wiped out by the end of it it's sinister that the light and water of it is just enabling destruction

This is a negative view of abundance and it is probably toxic and related to mood more than truth

Healing is the thing the growing season is not a time of healing it is too active and energy-consuming to be healing you need dormancy to heal

We need to hibernate ourselves here and now take some pill or be beaten about the head

The breeze this morning is moving the trees like curtains about to part and the effect is one of prelude one of soon to change one of this has been and will be again but first it must not be

Every poet is wrong about the seasons is backwards is blinded by the glint of sweat on a lip

17 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #170 : Becoming Full

Becoming Full

                    - here are the rules
for becoming full :

          1)       break your history and find the buttonhole
                         where the ashes
                              can be pressed into service -

there are tools for that - maybe
you could put them in a 3D printer with some resin
and then print out a button
it would be the color of slate

                    you'll need to find a shirt without
          but that's not too hard - you could tear one off
of the shirt you have on

          2)        after you've been erased
                          there will be a desire to immediately fill

         3)         let the rain fall on you until you are purple
                          cold breaking like a land-locked lake crashing
                               on the crushed quartz shore

you're going to want to be summer
be winter
be a glacier's patience

16 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #169 : Wood (Part 16 : The Curse of It)

I decided it was time to end this thing. It felt right. You can find Part One - HERE.

Wood (Part 16 : The Curse of It)

I didn't even ask your opinion on Christmas Tree farms : a 7-foot tree can take 12 years to grow : think of that space all those rows of Christmas just in a field somewhere waiting to be cut down and packaged : the seedlings start their lives in a greenhouse and they stay there for 4 years until they are allowed into the field to fully develop :

Christmas Trees are weird : in Europe they favor sparse trees with long branches and here in the US we like dense short-branched trees : we don't like the idea of sparseness : we want things so full to bursting that we can't even move : we are a tree farm that is over full and in need of thinning out : the US is a garden with too many plants it is abundant and beautiful and amazing and all of those things but it is also only going to be that way for a few weeks before it all collapses in root-bound thirst :

Is that what I planted back there : I mean we all want to be cultivated to grow as perfectly as we can with as few deviations as possible : as few broken limbs and overgrowth spots as we can muster : we want to leaf and leaf and leaf : we're all looking for resurrection after the fire :

I'm sorry I asked you here I feel like this has only circled a drain and not risen above : this wasn't the poetry that you were expecting what is this chatting nonsense about life cycles wasn't this about wood etc. : and you're probably right and I will put my hand on this one tree trunk and yet : and yet : I am deeply aware that beneath us the roots of this tree are intertwined with the roots of all of these other trees and that they seemingly are holding hands beneath the dirt : they are dependent and getting along :

But of course they aren't : they are engaged in a slow war they have centuries to do this : they are trying to choke each other to death :

Life is a slow war against not mattering : is that a dismal outlook a sort of nihilism : look outside of this : mattering isn't being famous or important in any real sense mattering is just doing yourself to the best and that sounds real self-help and is probably a good place to say let's go home we're tired and sun-stroked but fuck that I hate those kind of pat endings so...

What I want you to take with you : if anything : is the thing that I planted : and here it is pushing up from the floor of this space through the pine needles and wood shavings and larvae and debris of life : here let me get it up from the ground let me dig with my fingers it is good to touch the dirt once in awhile : did you bring a can or a bag or a jar it should be protected but it probably will not be and that's ok too : and this is also like a Hallmark card it's so much like a poem hovering over the image of a misty mountain : but it's also dangerous because it seems like love when it's actually like death : this thing you are holding I've put it in your hands I've given it to you and there are no take-backs : you have to think about it now and care for it and figure out what to do with it because I'm giving you nothing else to work with

Mango tree

15 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #168 : Wood (Part 15 : To Pass)

I don't think this poem wants to go for 30 days. I will see where I stand on that tomorrow, but I think it might be over sooner than later.

You should start with Part One - HERE.

Wood (Part 15 : To Pass)

You're quiet : I don't want to give the impression that I'm all doom and gloom over here but that's what trees make me think of : I mean there's life too : so that house falls down and I can no longer stare at it from the foot of my grandmother's yard : but once it falls I mean really falls to pieces that's when things get interesting for real : that pile of house was holding space it was an ancient wanderer who managed to hold steady for who knows how long but there it was : and psychically it was holding focus : no one talked about it for sure I asked and people would sort of hmmm around it and no one would remember where it came from or how long it had been hurting out there : it was an injured deer on the side of the road it was a dead leg that gangrene had taken but it was being left to rot on the bone : and it was holding my thoughts and maybe that's why it lasted so long : I had nightmares about it I imagined being in its upper floors as it collapsed I thought about what it had seen in its time : I gave it life and it was my fault it didn't just go like it was meant to : I kept it alive when I should have also forgotten it : and that's not as sad as it sounds because I have obviously not forgotten it but I also have obviously allowed it to pass :

There's a meadow there now all filled with blooming flowers of all colors : and that's the point really : that sometimes you let go : you walk to the top of the mountain alone and you allow your body to fall silent and then to sleep : you allow yourself to become food for whatever is next because honestly you've taken space that wasn't yours for too long and maybe what comes next will be able to use what came before : this is beginning to sound silly : I'm just saying that things die and then there in that death will be the sprouting of something : not the same something never that : but close and wildly different and that new thing will path itself right through a new life and the old thing will eventually be forgotten by all but the memory of that spot will somehow collect those paths somehow : I mean that's why we go on right : because somehow we will be allowed to be forgotten but will also be allowed to be remembered :

Poem-A-Day #167 : Wood (Part 14 : Continued Collapse)

A bit late. Start with Part One - HERE.

Wood (Part 14 : Continued Collapse)

The halo of light around the fire has pulled back in on itself : has turned red with the lack of fuel : we are in the moment of liquid fire : when the flames are red slime glittering across the surface of the charcoaled wood :

There is that moment when the carefully constructed tent of limbs falls in on itself sending a spray of sparking light into the sky : this is perhaps how fireflies are born : though I bet they come when lightening hits bedrock and the world is showered in anvil sparks and sand glass :

Think about collapse : that three story building that stood behind my grandmother's house and was all peeled siding and holed roofing : always too afraid to get too close I managed to stand in front of the sagging porch and place a foot on the first step once : the boards were so gray and cracked with tiredness that I couldn't bear to put pressure on them :

Yawning windows is a cliche but a very true one : though I think these windows and doorways were more open-mouthed horror than anything else : this was a very long death and it seemed to hurt : You could see into the house the doors were just gone : the entire thing was the color of ash : I wasn't there the day it fell but it had to at some point : the trees around it hushed like watching one of their own : the other houses clenched and refusing to look :

I fall into bed on a Saturday night and I wonder how my body will sail through it til morning : will the restless dreams come : the visions of a world flooded with water and the last few living on strange rusting islands built atop the tallest parts of the lost cities below : will I run through these close tunnels and feel only the salt of it on me :

Now awake I realize that those cities : all cities : are built like they will last forever : but anyone could poke that balloon open : the metal will salt corrode will rust will collapse and if not already the buildings beneath the surface are going to go down : that isn't bedrock :

I wonder about the looseness of life : the fire in the apartment building that flooded the other floors with water in its own attempt at survival : the ant that I just squished as it crawled across my table because I didn't want it on my new computer : our mere existence is the collapse of someone else's :

13 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #166 : Wood (Part 13 : Collapse)

WOOD!!!! Read Part One HERE.

Wood (Part 13 : Collapse)

Think about sand and how it gets in to everything it is near : kudzu does this : there are weed trees like Chinese Elm that rip open the world beneath the ground and tear up the stones of our walkways : there was tree in my backyard it was an apricot tree it tore open the sewer pipes and my backyard erupted in a monsoon of shit :

This is why we make wood into furniture : we need to tame it to control it to have it not be so wild : you could argue that humanity does that to everything : but we don't turn most things into something we put our asses on : nature is scary it is the only thing that could destroy us completely :

So we geometry out of it : pull it from the earth and turn it into grids and plots and eventually we cultivate it into things we want more than what it was : we table it until such a time as we forget it needed to be tabled :

I don't know what started the fire last night : there was a fire last night : the swarm of things that make up a building began to unravel and pull apart : a vine suddenly releasing its holds and falling from the wall into a heap at your feet :

Collapse :

12 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #165 : Wood (Part 12 : Roots)

Trees want you dead. Trees are plotting. Read Part One HERE.

Wood (Part 12 : Roots)

I had a dream that I was pulling out the roots of a tree with my bare hands : they were worms snakes tentacles of difficult that curled around my arms and tightened until my skin turned purple and the veins burst : my blood poured from my arms like stigmata and I collapsed in the now red mud and rolled like a baby in tantrum : earth thought about swallowing me but felt nauseous with the heat of summer : it was pregnant was fighting a cold was full of other bodies : I was too much for it and the roots let my limbs go and I sailed into the night laying in this un-tomb :

Then I got up this morning and dug bricks with the names of the dead etched into them out of the hungry soil : the names stared at me oddly as if I could understand them if I just looked more but their histories vanish as the dirt is wiped off :

This is an AIDS garden it is forgotten and it is drying in the sun : I think about my arms open to the light and air and I think about being able to do this without dying : I imagine myself as a succulent in a window box stretching my one finger-like stalk towards the sun until the tip pinks and opens into anemone and feelers : I think about AIDS and how it transmits like ideas : a meme of unimaginable power : you learn its name and then it is inside of you and then your skin will harden and your eyes will pucker : we all have AIDS some inside of our bodies and some inside of our thoughts :

Pressing marigolds into the earth with my grandfather : the coolness of the dark soil between my fingers and under my nails : the faces of the plants have yet to open they are thinking about opening they are paused they are unborn :

Please hold this for a moment : it is the end of the root that tried to kill me : it has been pulled three meters out of the ground the skin is paper and falling off and underneath it is white and looks like raw potato : it is bone : we will keep pulling together until we find which tree it belongs to : which hand it is the pointer finger of : maybe we should taste it and see if it also is starchy and dense : I remember chewing on raw wood and feeling the sensation of it being green and dense and like what I imagine a finger would be in your mouth :

I want to eat the world : and this hole opening up that was in my dream and is now in this garden and now also involves you is becoming a mouth that could do that work for me : I drop bricks into the maw until it resembles the insides of a shark the face of a lamprey :

Hold this root against your skin until it inches itself under it and into it and to your blood stream and then to your heart like it is a clot finding the center : what do you suppose happens once it is there :

11 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #164 : Wood (Part 11 : Wheat)

This is Part 11. Read Part One HERE.

Wood (Part 11 : Wheat)

Wood is culpable : even in its own destruction : the trees fill in until there isn't room for more or even for what is there already : think about those pine trees edging out the aspen : trees are unloyal :

They burn too easily split until they become tables where people play Settlers of Cataan :

Here is some wheat :

The fields spread out before me and I begin to dig until I find the graveyard of the trees : the stone-like slabs veined and unbreaking : they are marble : they are red and gray and yellow : cool and against your cheek :

The statue in the chapel stares from its pedestal the cold eyes look into the stone room and chill the air around it : its face is missing is worn to the quick is all grain and wishes of hope :

Hope is a seed hanging on the branch waiting :

Here is some wheat : a promise of the future that may come if the rain is good and the winds are good and the seed isn't bad and the fields are rich :

10 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #163 : Wood (Part 10 : GMO)

Get into it. Read Part One HERE.

Wood (Part 10 : GMO)

The doors always get splintered : in horror movies I mean : Jack Nicholson pushing that wide meaty face of his through the axe hole : machetes in the dark arrows that manage to not only come through the thickness of the door but also through a body against it : wood is culpable it involves itself in these things and it seems to be ok with that :

Or maybe this is the result of cultivation and domestication and processing : who knows the full extent of that process anyway : there was an article or a meme it's hard to distinguish any longer about how humans show all the signs of a domesticated species : and the question arises who is it that domesticated us and the answer is plants :

And I know that we can talk about self-domestication and all of that and we can have a good laugh about the idea that plants use us to propagate and to fertilize and that we even bury our dead to make them more healthy in the long term : but for a moment that's a beautiful idea : plants have essentially also used us to be more active in their existence :

Phytochemicals : that's the stuff that attracts and repels us : and plants evolved to have these things and the plants we cultivate are ones that have the ones we like : sneaky plants : I know what you're thinking : this is coincidence plants don't give a fig about us : but they do : remember we evolved along with them it isn't a vacuum :

In those specials narrated by David Attenborough he always talks about the connections between things in nature : this bird evolved to have this kind of beak to eat from this kind of flower or to use this kind of grass to knit this kind of nest : in the one about humans that should probably exist he would talk about humans evolving aside plants and animals and the interplay between :

And then we'd hit the age of cities and that process would stop cold : or : more accurately : it would become one of humanity using it as a tool to speed up the process : I'm sure we'd call that genetic modification and we'd want to slap labels all over it but the reality is that we've been doing it for eons : the first person to selectively breed corn to have larger sweeter kernels was a geneticist :

Intellectually it's there : but I'm sure there's a flaw in what I'm saying and honestly I don't care all that much my humanity and existence isn't tied to being right or academic : it's a nice idea and that in the end is that : give me the beauty over the rightness : back to those splintering doors : how long must it take the survivor to clean that shit up :

09 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #162 : Wood (Part 9 : Alyssum)

You can read Part One of this super long poem HERE.

Wood (Part 9 : Alyssum)

I stand at the dumpster and I think about how none of it matters in the end : I mean really matters : one day you and I will both be gone and a few people who will also be gone will remember us for a second : geologically even the trees will be forgotten before the rocks will give up the ghost :

I'm thinking about throwing out the frame it was an ex-boyfriend's it held photos of his family and there is that part of me that wants to hold on to even these fractured bits : like that dead tree at the garden with the crown all dried and brittle : why not take it down and get on with it :

The garden I planted on the patio died within a few weeks of starting it I'm convinced that it's because I didn't burn sage but it's probably just that the sun is wrong here : I planted poppies and nasturtiums and morning glory and not a one happened :

My grandmother's both kept gardens : simple and beautiful they dominate the nature of my memories : one with her vegetables and black-eyed susan and zinnia the other with peony and flowing geraniums and mint : both with fruit trees that I do not remember ever producing :

I think about alyssum and their softly ombré colors : purple into white : purple in : I'm again reminded of dogwood and the slightly tinged edges : the color of the inner rings of wood : a dark vein that bleeds out into light blondness :

You run your fingers over those veins for a moment : they are raised and the softer parts between lower with age and less hydration : everything darkens and will bleach of color eventually : dark veins raise and harden like a preserved body :

Can a tree be taxidermied : can the branches be raised into angelic wings and the flesh peeled back to reveal the muscle beneath and all of it mounted on a platform and lit nicely like a ghoulish tableau of what nature could look like if it were a horror movie :

08 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #161 : Wood (Part 8 : Cain)

I always found Cain more interesting than Abel. You can read Part One HERE.

Wood (Part 8 : Cain)

I stand out back by the dumpster and I have the remains of the picture frame from before with me in a dust pan and I stare up at the hill in front of me that is an embankment that supports the overpass of a highway : this is behind my apartment building and it's August and hot and the clouds are just starting to gather over the mountains and maybe they will come into town tonight and raise Cain :

How does one invoke Cain exactly : is it just the spectre of being up to no good or is there an incantation a sort of rolling back of the tomb door a beckoning finger in the darkness : and what if you do go in that space and do take the hand of the very long dead fictional character : does he eat your brain and infect you with murder do you come out the other side into day :

Be like Abel right : meek and killed : be the one who refuses anger : look at the mountain for a moment : you see the light and dark patches from here it's hard to tell but the dark is pine and the light is aspen : people come from all over to see the aspen turn yellow in the fall : they're called leaf peepers and I find that disturbing : voyeur of leaves :

The point is that the aspen are being killed off by the pine : there was a huge fire up there a hundred years ago aspen are one of the first things to come in and reclaim land after a fire : they have a shared root system and are very resistant to fires : the point is that they are a first wave reclamation plant : they come in and keep erosion away :

The pine trees are what was there what will be there should be there : if you can should at nature let's not debate that but you understand that nature isn't a should or anything like that but for our purposes that mountain should be covered in it : pine not aspen : so those peepers are shit out of luck eventually :

That's invoking Cain : forest fire : an untouchable un-understandable thing like the instant that murder came into the world : uncontrolled and moving and apart from ourselves : so Cain is perhaps still roaming the earth unable to rest : he is Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill and his rock is death and evil and able to move suddenly far away from him and then he must go seek it :

07 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #160 : Wood (Part 7 : Focus)

Long poem. You can read Part One HERE.

Wood (Part 7 : Focus)

I drove up the mountain once in 2004 and I cried into the trees : I parked my car along the side of the road and I climbed an embankment and I got covered in mud and then I walked until I got to a fallen tree and I collapsed on the ground and screamed : I screamed until I was hoarse and my eyes were red with tears and I couldn't make any noise :

It was this place that we are now in : the fallen place : the tree was large and ashen its roots shot into the air twice my height clinging to dirt and rock : I wanted to touch them but like the fear of a dead body felt I must stand a distance and stare into them : they spiraled like mandala and nebulae they were fingers reaching for nothing they were dead relatives :

And I wanted to put it back up : I stood in the hole where it did the earth had already closed behind rejected it like a foreign body like the cat claw in my shoulder when I was twelve like the dirt in your eye after a dust storm : what happens to a body re-stood : there are the people of Sulawesi who bring out their dead clean them reclothe them take them for walks to meet their relatives and friends :

Manhattanhenge 2001
Neil deGrasse Tyson
And I hold the picture frame and I want to re-glass it to find a way to put the pictures right within its hold and I am imagining myself raising the dead like some wizard in Dungeons and Dragons and I am afraid of this idea : I use the broom with the wood handle to sweep debris into a dustpan made of clear plastic the trash can takes these tokens willingly :

I dream about peeling back the colonization of America : taking it all down to bedrock before allowing the earth to re-soil anything : a sort of sowing the land with salt and demanding none will live here : imagine every place bare of people of buildings of anything : nihilism was never my strength and I am sure we can agree that soilless land is dangerous :

But think of the re-growth that could happen : here is a seedpod from a tree you can decide what kind it is : imagine it going into untouched soil : imagine the pristine new forest that would erupt from the earth so violently : this is as close to hippy bull shit I am going to get so eat it up because I am about to contradict myself :

Buildings are a sort of forest aren't they : suppose that what we plant only begets glass and metal : is this place the forest that we planted already showing itself in fruit : hold my hand I don't like the idea of cities being the end game of nature but it's hard to refute the present it is all we have : I wanted to clean this up a bit focus etc. but maybe sloppy is ok :

06 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #159 : Wood (Part 6 : Trunks)

Wood (Part 6 : Trunks)

Pulling up that much history is difficult it has consequences :

I run my fingers over the coffee table : it is a splice of a tree trunk and exploded view of the insides of the tree : it has rusty metal legs it has bark clinging to the sides : it was my aunt's :

Unsealed it begins to gray and then dry and then nothing :

Other woods get oiled and filled and rubbed until they are smooth : the end tables that were my parent's get lemon oil on them once a year : it makes them warmer and they shine for days :

I polish the brass lamps until they too shine : my face begins to distort in the bent light of the surface :

The picture frame falls and breaks the wood was cheap but it looks like splintered tree trunks : dangerous like teeth :

Let's put this all back together :

05 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #158 : Wood (Part 5 : The Seventh Seal)

You can read Part One of this crazy-fest HERE.

Wood (Part 5 : The Seventh Seal)

My grandmother was one of the people with skin like gauze : it pulled and seemed to thin like cotton batting or those fake spiderwebs that pop up around Halloween : those are probably just cotton batting : they sometimes have little plastic spiders in them but they are actually weird spider-shaped rings that you can put on your fingers :

I would run my fingers over her arm I think in an attempt to understand her years : like counting rings I was trying to figure out what had happened in this spot and when and what if anything was seen or remained : she would let me and I think she understood better than I did about what I was looking for this thing that was unfindable and unfathomable :

We're talking about death again : my grandmother is dead : both of my grandmother's are dead actually : I re-watched The Seventh Seal the other day and I am horrified and fascinated by the danse macabre that ends the movie : a string of loved ones tied together dancing off over the darkening hills : led by death : towards death :

Perhaps we are all obsessed with mortality : there's a tree on the edge of a garden on the campus I work at and the crown of the tree is all bare branches and it's the first week of August so those branches are safely assumed to be dead : the bottom older bigger branches are full of the late summer green leaves that resemble leather int heir texture and thickness :

I am obsessed with cycles above all else : the shape of reoccurrence : do you know the thought experiment about how we awake each day a new person but with all the old person's memories and so we don't notice : the idea is that we cannot ever know fully that we awake the same person who went to sleep the night before because we were unconscious and how could we know :

When I walk out of these woods and leave whomever has collected around me behind how can I know they simply don't cease to exist or they know that I continue in any capacity : it's a tricky thing this rabbit hole : a briar even : the thorns on this tree for instance they don't really get a chance to grab at much but when they do...man they grab at everything :

Trees are like that : we forget they exist until it's too late : bears too and death : we forget it until we are on a beach with our chess board and we have no options left : I always forget about the moment in Seventh Seal where death chops down the tree to get at the actor in its branches : death does not give a shit about your attempts to hide : it was time for the tree to go too :

The Seventh Seal

04 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #157 : Wood (Part 4 : On Bears)

Wood (Part 4 : On Bears)

It's the scar that is a forest fire but on my hand : thin thread-like thing that aches in the rain : Do you suppose that the forest aches in the rain that it feels intensely what has come before like a phantom limb : over here was Jerry he was a good tree I miss Jerry : or do you suppose the forest forgets immediately : that to continue for so long you have to drop the baggage at the door :

There's a theory that you are most likely to forget if you go through a doorway : something about exiting a space and entering another causes the brain to lose track of itself : it's the need to reconfigure : the brain has to analyze and create the room you are going in to so it drops the one you left at the threshold in a sort of shopping bag that it can come back to in a moment if needed :

Brains are correcting for interference at all times : turning things right side up changing the color making sense of the live feed coming from all directions : all fingers in the air looking for which way the wind blows :  stick your finger in your mouth : which way does it blow : you don't have to do that but it's always good to know the weather :

I stayed at a small casita in Taos for three months working on a novel : the walls were always cool to the touch and felt smooth like porcelain : the front door was thick wood that wouldn't close all the way you'd have to shoulder it in place while you turned the lock or it would pop open in the middle of the night after everything cooled :

There was a large black bear that hung around the place and would raid the trash at night : once when I was feeling particularly brave I flung open the door and yelled into the night : the bear sat a few feet away eating some paper my outburst had forced it to pause mid-bite : it stared at me like a child caught eating cookies before dinner I apologized and watched it until it was done :

I've only had a moment with one other bear : I was in the car and it was raining it must have been in high school or the first year after I started college so 1999 or 2000 or something like that : it was raining and we stopped at the bank because my mother was driving and needed cash from the ATM and for some reason she stopped not in a parking spot : probably because it was raining :

My grandmother and I were in the car and two small bear cubs came from around the corner of the bank towards the main road and then across it quickly the mother came next watching head back and forth searching for danger : we held out breath even though we were a good distance from her : she looked at us then went : my mother came moments later and didn't believe us :

03 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #156 : Wood (Part 3 : Wounds)

Wood continues. After the invitation to the party, we must know what sort of party we will be having. I don't throw simple parties. There will most likely be more blood to come. You can read Part One HERE

Wood (Part 3 : Wounds)

There is a collection of small sticks in the little cardboard box beneath my bed : wondered in from around the world they now collect each other exclusively : each one has been relieved of its bark : a sort of skinning of the kill :

My impulse when presented with limbs is to peel back the layers like an onion to get after that heartwood : it is blond and smooth and has a smell like grass and the edges of bodies of water : the tracing of the layers of growth : following each nub back to its start : is archeology :

I present my right hand as evidence take it and begin to look close : closer : at the base of the palm by the wrist right where the meaty bit of the thumb begins is a hill-shaped scar there is a break in some important palmistry line there and it probably means that my life is shortened or my wealth will never come :

In 2009 that scar was not there : it was always there : it is the remainder of something : like the ball-shaped growth on the apricot tree from where the child ripped off a limb and the tree panicked and covered the space in growing :

The door to the walk-in fridge was old and the small guide-wheel at the top that acted as a spring to make the door close itself would pop out of alignment : pressing it back took great force and leverage : the door was taller than you :

The wheel needs pressing down : you reach up and in a standard motion you press it down : you hear the normal thunk as it goes into place : you feel the metal catch tear and hold your hand : you react : how do you react : you pull your hand away :

And in the pulling you render your flesh : it is an angry open thing : a mouth in your hand bearing fatty tissues and blue-pink meat : you think of uncooked fish : you wonder where the blood is : and then you feel intensely where it is :

02 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #155 : Wood (Part 2 : Invocation)

This is a real long poem. You can find Part One HERE

Wood (Part 2 : Invocation)

There is a breeze and it smells like fire : I'm keenly aware of fire the desert demands it : last night there was a storm and the lightening struck all around the Jemez and all I could think about after the burn in my retina was if there would be smoke in the morning : the signs of fire are all around us the dryness of us the parchment of our skins :

And skin is a kind of bark : the old man selling ristras on the side of the road has skin like an old leather couch it crinkles and has become creased forever in the corners where so many asses have sat on it and this is maybe an odd way to describe skin but it's true : his ristras also look like old leather except they are red :

I walked into these woods for a bit before we met : honestly I've been here for years : the fallen tree that crosses the path a little ways back is where I've sat and eaten my lunch every day for over a decade I count the blood-red flowers dripping on their stems along the path they are heart-shaped but remind me of rain drops :

Drops on the old deck : a swelling occurs they say you must seal against this swelling that the rain brings that it must be sealed : the spots spread from the bell-shaped center and the darkening radiates until the entire expanse is the color of water : in my knee this takes the form of a deep ache that takes days to work itself out in others it becomes death knocking :

Only some people begin to look like tree bark and leather as they age: others become gauze : the ephemeral nature of their skin allows them to walk through walls : ghosts before ghosts : I am reminded of the end of that cartoon David the Gnome : he and his wife wonder into the woods and become trees after saying goodbye to their fox friend Swift they die on the mountaintop :

In many cultures you leave the old to die on the mountaintop : again don't worry I'm not here to kill you you will have to make that choice at your own time : there isn't smoke today though so I don't know why we are talking about death : a friend lost a dog yesterday she buried it today and sat for hours with a cat staring into space thinking about fur :

I guess our nature is to project outwards to the end : a tree at the end of its life will stop producing fruit it will perhaps leave its limbs bare in summer as a nod to its coming winter : I imagine these trees as naked people wondering their towns and cities daring anyone to comment on their clotheslessness :

01 August 2016

Poem-A-Day #154 : Wood

Dakota R. Garilli, editor at the amazing IDK, sent me a list of suggestions for Poem-A-Day topics. One was just the word 'wood'. It was both the least interesting and most full of possibilities as I have always found trees to be fascinating and weird.

This month will be an experiment. It will go badly. It will be transcendent. I am writing a 31-part poem called Wood. The poem has no purpose other than to be everything and nothing. It is an ars poetica, an explanation, an attempt. It is modeled after A. R. Ammons' Garbage.

This is a conversation. Feel free to respond.


We should probably start somewhere obvious like a forest : that feels good this time of year : the shade from the full green leaves would cast a pattern of green light across the bare earth below : leaves from winter would have mulched themselves and everything would smell like earth and growing : everywhere in other words alive :

Here those forests would be Aspen and pine but I'm sure you have your own concept of 'forest' and you should just go with that : the actualities are not important just be in that space of sunlight filtering down hitting you and be in that quiet that only people who live in cities think is quiet for a bit : is your breathing regular :

I ask because everything around you is alive : because it is in a state of motion : I ask you about your breathing because you are in it and it is coursing through your bloodstream as we speak about it : did you know that it only takes 30 seconds for alcohol to hit the brain : did you know that the lungs are hands holding on to the air for dear life :

So why have I brought you out here : am I going to kill you and leave your body to nourish these trees or for the wolves to tear apart and feed their young : I might have an axe in my car I might have a gun you won't know that the language doesn't reveal what's in pockets or trunks : if only it could : I don't know why we're here any more than you do :

That's the trick though : I'm supposed to KNOW what I'm doing here have a plan a map a big red 'X' that marks some spot on the map that is the place that I am going to dig : I don't have the arms for digging : I'm more of a burier of objects histories knowledge : I could bury us and then we could really think about things :

In this moment the trees are probably swaying in the breeze I do hope you have a breeze in your forest they are so much more interesting when they move in ways we can see : I want to talk about the trees and why they are here for me and you : why we are here for them : this isn't some eco-bull shit please don't think that I want to hug anything : get away from me :

I want to thesis about why I come back to this again and again : the roughness of the bark on my hands and the veins showing in the leaves : I want to discuss this with you : I'm not sure how to begin that though I will plant the idea here and I will come back tomorrow and the next day and the next and I will see what sort of tree has begun :