May 3, 2013


This poem recently won an award here.


Like a woman from a Once-upon-a-time, who had a child
in a lonely prison cell, that was clammy all year round
for seven years, while she waits and draws him pictures
on the walls, to teach him what the world outside is like;
the one he’s never seen, not even in his dreams.

Out of charcoal from old fires she conjures the magic pictures
building cities in the sunlight, putting ships upon the ocean
growing gardens full of rose trees, setting planets into motion
sprouting forests on the knees of the misty Pyrenees.

Until one day she realizes he doesn’t understand, and he
thinks the world outside is made of skeletal black lines.
She cannot make him see it, and through festering frustration
she exclaims in agitation, “But it’s not like that at all!”
and his picture of the world dissolves into a vacancy.


Sunburned breezes in the clover, moonlight prancing on the water,
and the shadows on a swallow’s ashy wings – these are the things
that cannot be explained or understood until you see them,
the things that simply have to be rejected or believed.

Kiss of unconnected minds, the erotic sacramental, the
quintessence of inertia-splitting dreams – these are the things
at risk of being lost in translation. No amount of explanation
from the people at the window can convince the rest of us
that they’re larger than our minds, made of more than lines.

We are the Flatlanders, watching from the wrong dimension
rehearsing our incontrovertible syllogistic reductionism
to keep from being taken in again, forgetting that we can
analyze all the facts and miss the metamorphosis.


Agnus Dei (qui tollis peccata mundi) miserere nobis,
because You know that this is all we have to work from –
these fugitive extrapolations from the ineffable ambiguity
of a few nebulous moments, an incredible concoction of
ridiculous cell-quivering laughter blown from the back

of the restless stars, and the numinous nausea flowering
out of orchestral suite #3 in D Major, along with
all the unreasonable tears. Maybe we are not so much to blame
for our startled skepticism when the things beyond thought

are converted into movements of atoms, transplanted into
this world of boring desk-jobs and broken TV sets, incarnated
into flimsy melanotic bodies, hereafter vehicles of beatitude,
transposed into words and symbols and impossible molecules
of bread. This is the miracle of the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

January 11, 2013

Brown Lands

I have seen the brown lands laid out beneath the sky
Like a dead man’s skin, that should have been
Extinguished in a crematorium, days ago
Or at least scooped into the ground,
If you prefer to be unsanitary.

I have seen this shrunken dust pan
Littered with drunken telephone poles
And squalid paper houses and overgrown
Railroad tracks rusting under stalled coal carts,
Ground furrowed with filthy bales
Rolled out of prehistoric weeds
In need of a cemetery.

But there is no grave big enough to bury this rotting carcass.
It would need a collapsed neutron star. Short of that,
The snow might do it. But it is the 22nd, and still bare.
Wishes don’t work here, and dead men don’t dream
Of white Christmases.

I have seen myself walk stumbling through the wastedness,
Wondering if the sky is real and feeling the distance.
There comes a point when you stop counting steps,
When steps become like memories of stars long since gone out.
But everything looks the same, so there is no way of knowing
Whether you are simply inscribing invisible circles
Of thrice stamped dirt.

I have seen this and I know I have seen it before
A reflection of myself, out of an imaginary window
This is the skin of my mind, turned inside out and hung to dry
On display with the fashion jewelry.

From here you can see everything and nowhere is there anything to see
This is my dead body. This is the empty hauntedness,
This choking closeness to the dirt, these frustrated feet
Still walking. These eyes grown angry out of loneliness
Afraid of forgetting even how to hate, afraid of getting dull.

Eyes that would burn the sick grass from the ground, the hair
From my skin, could they convert welling disappointment
Into radiation. But they can’t. They can only wander tired wilderness,
Embarrassed at their failure, acutely aware of separation.
For You are far away, and the very wind is brown. How long
Shall I try to fly with my feet on the ground?

What are you looking for, picking your way through dead country
Burnt alive in summer and then left to freeze, like a refugee?
Let the emptiness stifle you. Your mind is a wheel returning.
Your body is a space-time continuum with no edges, and the horizon
Never comes any nearer. You will always feel the distance.