Friday, March 31, 2017



Leaning forward, almost whispering,
The preacher said "This morning when
I prayed to God, there was No One there!
I could get no explanation;
Dark-winged angels would not meet my eye."

Beneath their hats, three church ladies stirred --
A sub-committee, prepared for this contingency --
But before they could rise, the preacher's cat
Had leapt into the altar. "Until God returns
We are in charge. Feed us; brush us
And you will find us not unkindly."

Thursday, March 30, 2017


I am not instinctively kind
But my father was. Occasionally
I perform, in his absence, a kind act.

I am not particularly friendly
But my mother was . Once in a while
I listen sympathetically, as she did

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Baba Yaga remembers when snakes
Walked about like other folk,
Wore hats, told elaborate stories
With terrifying morals. Even now,
She says, it us mostly lack of ambition
That keeps them on their bellies.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


My grandfather Max disliked emperors
On principle. Still, if Franz Joseph
Suddenly appeared on
Snediker Avenue,
Running for his life from his enemies,
Max would surely offer him shelter.
He might -- but only might -- tell his wife
That the Emperor was in their kitchen
Eating a large apple. It's possible
Max would think it better to let Esther
Find the Emperor herself  rather
Than having a discussion on how unlikely
A man so old and habit-bound
Had slipped off his throne and turned up,
Hapsburg jaw and all, in

Monday, March 27, 2017


Waking from a dream where he was running
From a grossly offended King of the Frogs,
The poet Ch'en Yu was surprised to see
His late wife, the singer Fa Xiqing,
Sitting in the moonlight. She was sorting
Through a bag of patches and threads.
In the morning he found his old robe
Had been roughly mended. Even death
Cannot teach some people to sew.

Friday, March 24, 2017


You doubt Schrodinger's cat is a poet?
Examine the evidence: He lives, if at all,
In a box -- rich poets are not common;
Following tradition, he relies on a patron
Who cares little about the cat himself
But only the glory he might cast
Upon the House of Schrodinger.
He is both and neither dead nor alive;
None of his works are in print yet his name
Is familiar to many who read no poetry.
Any day now he will and he won't
Accept tenure at a small university.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


There are none now to believe me,
None to take it as more than a small joke,
But my mother could conjure into existence
New distant relatives who would rise,
Stretch themselves, blink a time or two,
And believe they'd been born as others are,
Had mothers and fathers, siblings, friends,
Had moved and breathed, had rejoiced and suffered
And, strange to say, all the world assented
To this impudent imposition,
Letting them conduct themselves
As if they’d legally slipped across the border
Into the real world.

                                  Eleven years ago she died
And I fear that all those she called here --
All those good, eccentric people --
Have begun to flicker and to vanish
To be again as if they never were.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


"I'll have some love," said I,
Rapping the bar, coin in hand.
"We have none left," said the tapster,
"Would you care for mild disdain?
We have it on tap." Well, damne!
But, after all, a man must drink.

Monday, March 20, 2017


As was the custom, his heart was buried
Beneath the altar, his head under the path
Leading to the vestry, his bones
Boiled clean of flesh and sold separately
As souvenirs. His soul was placed
In a jar, with the lid screwed on tight.
The usual prayers were said in Latin,
Dutch, Cornish, Flemish and Erse
And then recited backwards in Pig-Latin,
English, Spanish and a vague Ugaritic patois
Specially cobbled up for the occasion.
You will, accordingly, understand
That, pursuant to the Peace of Westphalia,
The Geneva Convention, Hoyle’s Book of Games,
And the Rule in Shelley’s Case, your client
Lacks standing to be haunting our chambers
Or to be bringing other ghosts after midnight
To make confetti of our files. Also, we demand
That he forthwith cease all attempts at seducing
Personnel above the rank of senior associate

Friday, March 17, 2017



Since you were here,
Here and well in
Zadig and Voltaire
Have formed a partnership
And opened a small store.
I assume Zadig gets first billing
Because even a fictional prince
Outranks a mere Immortal.
This city, capital of a country
Which once existed
And may exist again, but is now
Cater-kin to Shangri-La,
Is right for them both. Both prefer
Lands where the king's writ
Does not run and can barely
Maintain a brisk hobble.
I don't know what they sell.
If you were still alive, though,
You would surely tell me.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Here is David, says the guide.
Nonsense! David was a boy,
11, maybe 12; this is a grown man.
One who is quite wondrously fit,
And also 14 feet tall. In other words,
He is a giant -- "Il Colosso,"
The Florentines called him.
It can only be that this fellow
Is Goliath, escaped from the version
In which, to show his disdain
For his opponent, he arrives
Fresh from the bath, not bothering
Even to put on a towel.
Instead of a sword, he carries a sling.
He does not intend to kill David --
Where would be the glory in that?
No; he just wants to teach the boy

The unwisdom of challenging giants.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


For the first time in years St. Jerome
Hauled out his inks and quills
And hand-lettered some pages;
His lion posted them on streetlights.
They advised the world that the saint
Would no longer answer prayers
Would not, in fact, even listen
To anything sounding like a prayer.
Some, though, live in great fear
That their prayers might be answered;
When Jerome next woke, on his grating
On the shadowed side of
Seventh Avenue,
He was under a passion of prayers
Who'd crawled near him in the night,
Trusting he would ignore them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017



Through the doorway, Titian's Venus
Gestured urgently to me, but I shrugged;
The tour was rushing on; Raphael
Was waiting. When I returned home
The picture postcard which hangs
On a pillar next to my desk was bitter.
"How could you not linger? What if
She’s kept a message for you
For the last five hundred years?"
"But," I asked, "can't you deliver it?"
"Me? I am a reproduction. I am slightly
Out of focus; my colors are inaccurate.
You should not trust anything I say."

Monday, March 13, 2017



Since you were here
Since you were here in Barcelona
St. Jo-an has posted on the walls
That he currently has openings
For those who want to pray to him.
He is a reliable general practitioner
Particularly good with those
Experiencing many troubles.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


World is going to be with me late and soon for a bit, so if I don't post for a brief while, just go back to the beginning and read from there. Everything will start making sense and the poems will start talking to each other.
I'll be back.


When I wake up I am no longer
Fluent in Chinese so I have
Only a hazy notion of what
Li Po was telling me last night.
Something, I think, about
He and my father sharing a dream.
Afterwards, each of them
Was followed by the other's shadow.
Up to now it’s been wondered
Why a poet dead since 762
Knew the batting averages
Of the1939
Brooklyn Dodgers.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Three painted angels. One of them –
The youngest one, who remembers
No universe before this one – looks out.
And notices you watching. For you,
He slightly increases the tempo
Of the song he’s been playing
For six hundred thirteen years.