Wednesday, November 29, 2017


In tenth grade I read Sinners
In the Hands of an Angry God
There, Jonathan Edwards
Posits that every man is,
For all intents and purposes,
An unusually loathsome spider
Appallingly ugly, unable
To tell a joke without
Laughing at it himself
A spider who never
Pays child support ;
He probably smokes
And spits in spider soup.
This awful bug
Is being held by God
Over a roaring fire
By a very thin thread --
Since even God does not
Wish to touch spiders.
As if this isn't enough
God really, really hates
This particular spider
Who is -- remember? --
You. Your only hope
Is that God decided
Before you were born
That this wasn’t a day
For burning spiders.
Too cloudy, perhaps,
Or too clear, or a cloud
That looks like a dog
Makes Him uneasy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


At night we built huge fires
From whatever lay to hand
Fences and doors and bones,
Bits of asphaltum and vows
We'd carried on our backs
Mile on mile, though we
Had broken them almost
As soon as they were made
Thinking someday we'll find her
The maid who fixes all things
Making our promises whole.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Towards the end of my watch the North Star
Hissed and guttered in its socket.
What blood I still had froze;
I didn’t wake my replacement but stood
Witnessing it die, witnessing the other stars
Tremble a bit before a very old star –
You could see how gaunt and stiff it was –
Shuddered itself into position, shining
With light that turned from cold green
To resigned and reluctant silver.

Friday, November 24, 2017


In disgrace with fortunate men's eyes
My heart hung all upon a silken dress
But the old wind in the old anger
Had gone over the river and through the woods
With the news that alone could save Aix from its fate
O lost and by the wind grieved ghost
The Gobelins will gut you
Effen you don't watch out!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Because I am my father's son
God occasionally posts my bail
Or writes letters recommending me
For jobs I cannot really do.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


There are always ghosts in a bath house
They flirt in the shadows, complain
That the moon no longer loves them,
Drink tea they brew from dead leaves
And slantwise words. That one there --
So old it remembers my father as he was
Before he was born -- is no longer certain
Whether it was a cat before or after
Its great success on the vaudeville stage.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Types in my line recur
If I'd not been, some other
Might have, at need,
Personated me well enough.
Perhaps when I come again
The new version will think
I could stand some polishing.
Making my vices gaudier
My virtues taller and more lonely.
Some things I wished to say
She will decide I said. Perhaps
It will turn out I could fly.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Before committing his more serious sins
Ahashueros would loudly bid his soul
To go bide elsewhere for a time
Lest it be offended or incur some stain.
Who disobeys the King? The poor thing
Would slip past the soldiers at the gate
And visit with the bathhouse ghosts
From whom he learned to gamble --
At which he became surprisingly good --
And to swear, unconvincingly.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


No wind; a few branches shift
Perhaps the tree dreams badly or
Wants me to think a breeze blows
That I'm too palpable to feel. A leaf
Falls, describing a plumb line.
I gesture just so, stretching my hand
So the scar on my left index finger
Shows white where a car's door
Decreed it would never quite straighten
The spells that made me may alter;
Who will finish this poem to you?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Joe Lampert could reach his open hand
Into mid-air, clench it shut and find,
Without fail, a chessman in his fist.
His watch was always five minutes fast
His shadow six minutes slow. My mother,
His daughter, told me his childhood friends
Mostly grew up to be gangsters.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


The golem, if she is one, felt I should write
A poem about the bronze statue of Achilles
Which stands in
Hyde Park and is reputed
To be the ugliest public statue in
It’s 18 feet tall and made from melted cannons
Captured from the French by Arthur Wellesley.
It weighs 33 tonnes, which is, if you must know,
Seventy three thousand, nine hundred twenty pounds.
Originally nude, it somewhere acquired a fig leaf.
Its head belongs to the Iron Duke. He looks irate
At being exhibited nude in
Hyde Park. How the golem
Got it through customs I cannot guess. She lugged it
Into my dreams two weeks ago and refuses to take it away
Last night, the standard anxiety dream I'd ordered
Turned into a farce. My accusers kept bursting into laughter
Or whispering "My God! Where did you find that thing?"

Monday, November 13, 2017


Twelve below; the sidewalk
Rang as I walked on it.
I wore a three piece suit
Made of brown corduroy
Which had fooled no one.
Because I was cold,
Because I was unemployed,
I was eating ice cream.
This made sense at the time.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


The wide, shallow cup believes itself
To be immeasurably old.
The flowers running around it
Are from a place that isn’t here.
Its handle remembers gold paint
Drink from it quickly; only sentiment
Keep its atoms from flying apart.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Turns out the bird is what matters
You take a Noah -- pretty good seaman,
Family man, likes his alcohol --
And he sends out, say, an auk.
Auks are all gamblers at heart so
He'll bring back a deck of cards
Or maybe some loaded dice.
Next thing, he owns the
Noah has to start pawning animals
Planning to redeem the zebras
And wapitis and elands and aardvarks
Once his luck comes back. Captain Auk
Steers the boat on and on.
Dry land? What use is dry land to him?

Monday, November 6, 2017


When Noah sent out a raven
He expected it to return so
When a dove came back he knew
Something was wrong. Plainly
Another ark was out there
One whose captain liked doves
Which Noah had deliberately
Left off his boat. Years later
The raven hosted the two Noahs
In a dream from which all three
Woke no longer certain
Which of them he was. The trouble
With doves? They never
Have such dreams and always
Know exactly who they're not.

Friday, November 3, 2017


If you must write about her
Prepare; reinforce your punctuation
With heavy-gauge copper rivets;
Make your lines drag; hidden caesuras
May slow her down. Like enough
The morning will find
Eulalie Echo
Sitting amidst flindered words
A few inches above the ground.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


The fickle pensioners of Morpheus
Have their bars in the lower world
Which we call home. Dangerous once
They do little harm now. Brigid --
Saint, goddess and, most importantly,
Bartender -- occasionally does a miracle
And they sleep without dreaming
That once they were faithful.