Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"The Next Step"

this is
the next step
on this early November day
the cherries shrivel on the zigzag branch
leaves long gone
the zigzag parts the sky
the crows part it too
dew does not crust the grass it’s frost now

and all this is like nothing else
all this is not a metaphor for that
do not link one thing to another simile-wise
like the plastic cars of the children’s train
you are also at some point this morning
in some state
so is the garbage man in Buenos Aires
and the bumpy horned lizard looking at something
in the Painted Desert
all of these things are
as they are
this morning


if you
were simple
you could walk away
after having touched the Buddha’s foot
placed the stone onto the ground
just so
aligning it with the pathway of thought
that straddles your eyes on the one hand
and the horizon on the other

walking away now
you part the air with your palms
doing so produces a squeak a sibilant
objection from the space
it is asking
for more commitment


some say
you can only understand by knowing what came before
i love you just by itself hanging there in the whirl
doesn’t really tell us much
so the
markedly veined marbled right hand of David barely touching his upper thigh hanging
really doesn’t tell us
unless we know
what he had just perceived moving
the horizon

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Splendor In The Grass Glory In The Flower

"The Tree"

it is a mark of
our poverty
that we flee the act of
placing words on this here this earthly emanating goldly skyward
fearing too many tropes have stuck on it
how many layers
since that earliest sin-filled garden tale
by now it is the world’s thickest palimpsest

so what should we do this autumn morning
chill licking our fingers ears
and camera shutter barely clicking
as we see
its sharp intensity
bending our sense
of what today
is new

Friday, October 8, 2010

"In The Land Without Adjectives"

in the fall the King
forbade all adjectives from
to any stone or growing flowing thing

the grove had to own the shade or hue
could not be it
or seem
and you
also could not slide
thoughtlessly into that nuance so much fancied then
but had
to swallow quick
and say

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Which Of These Scrambled Words"

which of these scrambled words is least like the others
burbles the airplane magazine game page
do you mean
which of the words is least like anything at all
which of them is variously floating
in mind space

black chemical ink on cellulose fiber with a light slick coating
so that the printed airline logo gleams
at 32,000 feet
while that particular word over there
and this one over here
actually those physical objects
of black and cellulose
are hurtling along with us and our steel tube
trying to attain our spot of desire

what would be these words’ desires I wonder
do they even have them
basically squiggles impressed on the page
no meaning at all
if you come from Cefalu
and are being accustomed
to different squiggles entirely
the meaning
whatever it is
seems to be a link
kind of like an electric arc
from our mind
to the squiggle

these two things are glued together spiritwise
and that spirit-glue
is also
along with us
at one hundred kilometers per minute
to Miami International Airport

"You Just Can't Get Some Things"

you just can’t get some things sometimes
or sometimes any time
eluding us
they lie in their homes
in their home lands
when we write their latitudes and longitudes
the digits slide off the page
nests of sapphires rubies emeralds opalines
shaded far away
by acanthus leaves
washed by what seem to us inchoate speaking airs
tongues lavishing unintelligible complexities
on their ellipsoid shapes

you go into a store shopping bag in hand
looking over the rutabagas and such
loaves of bread made of grains and sand
blended with a bit of water and thirst
you feel
vaguely absent
not quite forlorn
is this what we were made for?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"We Go To A Really Good Fish Restaurant In Gainesville Florida"

and we are sitting on the benches outside the Bonefish Grill waiting for the hostess to call us
it will be about fifteen minutes she said
we start talking with the fellow next to us he is from Daytona
a journalist
he looks Native American or Hispanic
he talks with a kind of I don’t know inner quiet
we say we’re retired teachers driving from Florida back to Vermont
what kind of journalism do you do I ask
I cover the courts and the police
it’s sometimes a downer I’ve been doing it for years
I ask how do you come down at the end of the week after all that heavy stuff
I just tell my boss don’t call me after 6:30 Friday night I am out of touch
the biggest case we had was a few years ago
six young people slaughtered beat up throats cut you would not believe it
and all over a bunch of video games
what I ask
yeah this guy was wanted for violation of parole the police went into his apartment
took him out
what am I going to do with all this stuff his landlady said all these video games and junk
just get it out of there the police said just throw it away whatever you want to do with it
well she had a niece living in one of her apartments seems like she gave some stuff to her
then the guy gets out on parole
busts into the niece’s apartment when she and her roommates are out
sees one game cd on the living room floor and just goes psycho
he is a real psychotic
he leaves waits gets two other thug buddies only seventeen and eighteen they go back one night
the niece her two roommates and three other friends are there
just having a good time
these three guys bust in and slaughter them
you would not believe it
we covered it so heavily never had a murder case like that before I did a lot of research up in New England Maine Rhode Island Vermont
ran a big spread one day on each of these six nice young people
a couple of them had worked at Burger King had come down to Gainesville to start their lives
got some roommates to share the apartment expenses
the others were just friends visiting can you imagine
he gives us his card:
Mauricio Gonzalez Reporter-Police/Courts The Daytona Beach News-Journal 901 6th St., P.O. Box 2831 Daytona Beach FL 32120-2831 tel 386-681-2557 www.news-journalonline.com
but why did you travel so much up in New England covering this case
because the grandmother lived in Maine
and all the six young people were from Vermont
- - - -
our table was ready we went in
and had some really good grilled fish

Friday, September 24, 2010

"I Keep Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop"

 I keep waiting
 for the other shoe to
 for that lowest
 pendulous apple to
 break loose
 for the Tower of Pisa to
 waver slightly
 then smoothly incline
 carving down
 into that soft terra santa
 borrowed from Jerusalem
 and it
 nestled neatly in that holy court
 would await such
 a visit

 it would receive those stony blocks mercifully
 is awaiting such things
 our mission
 that is
 standing behind the striped lines
 not proceeding until instructed to do so
 by the higher authorities
 looking looking
 for that event
 that quick
 to bring focus and depth and loss
 to our lives

"If You Built Something Very Big"

if you built something very big
very large
all dimensions blasted far out and away
as big as the engineering and construction and sweat capabilities
were capable of constructing
what would that mean I wonder

you look at the Olympeion in Akragas
O Megale Ellas
you folks were chomping at the bit
to build something so grand
and also chomping
to smash each other’s polis to pieces
at the drop of a hat
how does that all fit together
you think that the big column
twenty men holding hands needed just to circle around it
you think that in the end means something?

and you
baldacchino maker
when you twirled those giant columns
raised the Cathedra Petri so high up
on the mighty hands of those four fathers
and set the dove in the glass behind
is not what really matters
that light that light
that equally streams
over a single stone
far away?

"I Am Where I Am Now"

I am where I am now
moving through air through clear
as I move the streetscene
curves around me
a continuous
all around 360 degrees around
and the curve moves along with me

when the I that I am right now
is not here any more
maybe it will be in another part of this
maybe it will be in that large decorative stone
in front of the newly restored 1893
house on the corner
the one with the mauve shutters rust trim and gentle camel cream exterior walls
in that rock
ringed by shasta daisies in the hot summer air
the I that I will be then
will not have eyes like mine right now

but perhaps
through the grainy
layered strata of that fairly small rock
by the entry door
I will in some way
perceive myself
as I am walking now
down that street
this street
right now 

Monday, September 20, 2010

"If I Were To Say To You"

if I were to say to you look
you cannot turn back time
you would say to me look
at that corkscrew at that
point sharp
how it gouges into the cork
but it does
does return withdraw
come back out spiralwise

so what would I then say
it comes back
to those coordinates in space
 in time

we can turn time back
in some way
that that sharp point
of act
does not really penetrate and pierce
this time around
as it did
at first

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"We Could Be For Example"

could be for example
had we not been us
another thing
or scores of them

a museum
filled with let us say inanities
objects which in Diodorus’ time meant many things
but which today
for us
odd knobby bits cracked gashed edges
stone tongues what did they say
we do not care
they simply rest inside us

we could be
for example
having swallowed hors d’oeuvres of feldspar
perhaps porphyritic perhaps something else
and with a sleek sheen polished
we would simply reflect
when people looked upon and at us
they would not know what we were thinking

or even yes a thurible
upside down arcing almost orbit-like
whiffs of labdanum and sandarac
winding through the congregation
and they would smell the beatific
or think they do

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Ode to Fennel"

imperious fennel
you rise Venus-like
from the frothy loam
virginal bulb waxing full
as you spire green and thinly
toward the empyrean

we give you thanks
that you deign to donate
toothsome roasted tranches
bathed in unguent herbs and roqueforts
and other manner of adorning

your verdant feathers
our humble offerings
wafting tasty vapors
from our tongues

"Irreducible Squash"

factual zucchini

imperceptible squash

you lurk lizard-like

under the flat umbrella leaf

absorbing the summer morning

not in any greeting-card way

but rather nonchalantly

to say that growth

and green

do not depend

on concepts precepts

theorems paradigms schemata

gridlines ledger sheets or other astutely arranged algorithms

you will grow expand harden your tough green skin

ultimately they won’t even be able to eat you

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I hate this word
the ending looks like ugh
although it tries to disguise itself as uff
which conjures up warm moist nuances
of fluff and puff shuffle and snuffly

it walks onto my kitchen counter on sleek tiny feet like ants
thinking I will not smush it away
but I do want it away
do not want repose
finite boundaries
living like Luxembourg

no -- give me baldacchino ogee ormolu
splash and panache
and roasted lobster red
oozing through my bank account

Sunday, September 12, 2010


it is not like anything else

not like the jellyfish

because it is hard oval pointed shelled

not like boustrophedon

it floats down it does not go this way and that

not like waves

it forms around space stubbornly hard

but is it like

the ear seeking the echo

the default of love

“Everything Has Salt In It and Artichokes Fall From the Sky”

making hilarious music


I not hearing them

will turn the corner walking down Union Street

the blue Packard pristine 1927 and undented

will edge out from the driveway

mom and dad and their four-year-old son

walking by the little one in blue jeans sweat shirt and

a fluffy pink tutu

I will not be making this up

the sky shall cut its edges into the line of maples brightly


here’s the question:

do you think all of this will come about because of the

way some oxygen molecules danced

a long time ago?

"Are Humans Smarter Than Clouds and Waves"

at Key West sunrise all the band members appear on stage

and go through their act

clouds gold-and-raspberry paintbrushes

waves wet rocks flying-feather-things

do they say to themselves

I do not want to die

I want a café con leche

I want to fly forever through this turquoise sky

I want to be loved by everyone

as I sometimes do

on the pier

at 6:27 a.m.

"A Sense Of"

came flying out of the air of the torrents

a letter

postmarked Ljubljana

espousing flights of sentiment

hitherto unsuspected

what portended those

unfranked stamps?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"How We Could Spend Time"

we could for example


smear ourselves

sneakily into the top of the hierarchical bureau

arrange the papers

reverse the ones and oughts

such that

a hollow hole gaping

swallowed up all of the lentils

which the peasants had patiently

placed on the stoop


they were for everyone’s good


we could

wander through between among the grasses shrubs tall trees

alongside children brothers sisters

old old elders too pausing awaiting their shuffling gait

til they attained us

and all of us could then and would wonder

at the infinite sun-struck leafiness

feathering our eyes


we could sit

in the piazza lazily

our collective rumps you and I and they

all around an impossibly small circular black iron table

the metallic top of which would be

pierced with diamond spade club like holes


of a deck of cards

quite crowded

with our espresso cups

and there

we would spend time


as the roman languages say it


the seconds minutes hours days months years

you can keep spinning out the tape as you wish

but in fact

we know



would spend us

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Archaic Torso of Apollo"

Rainer Maria Rilke
My translation, with help from versions by Stephen Mitchell and Galway Kinnell

<A poem of fierce magical power!>
~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

We cannot know his unprecedented head

with eyes ripening like apples. And yet his torso

still glows like a candelabra

in which his gaze, though burning low,

holds on and shines. Otherwise, the prow

of the breast could not blind you, and in the soft turn of the loins

a smile could not run down

to that center that held the procreating power.

Otherwise, this stone would stand disfigured, cut short

under the transparent plunge of the shoulders

and would not shimmer like a predator’s fur;

and would not burst out from all its sides

exploding like a star: for there is no place here

that does not see you. You must change your life.


if every thing is like every other thing

still there must be

to avoid

the homogenized One


grit in the eye

a piece, a hand

ten tesserae forming the hand of

a frozen warrior about to be


on Alexander’s spear

thrusting across the wall

of the Naples museum

"A Pane of Glass in the Grass"

standing vertical

shoved into the grass

one-third below eye level

below the dirt horizon

two-thirds above

in air

three dimensions

looking two

you should walk around it

this side and that

ignore the thin edges the third dimension

and focus on the two

what do they say

do they speak in their own accent

do their very words

their merest syllables

speak uniquely

using vowels consonants no one else has ever used

or do they use a common currency

notes and coins rubbed dull by so many fingers

that they barely can express

this clear

"On the Absence of Context"

“On the Absence of Context”

what do you think about the experiment long ago

a literary one that is

not using vials and flasks and sulphurous fumes

done by a teacher in colonial Ceylon

teaching or trying to teach his

colonial charges

the upper crust of the overseen population

how to read poetry

important poetry that is

poetry in the imperial words

how to read those things


so he distributed to them

the poem about the Emperor

and ice cream

and asked them to write their thoughts

it is about

they said

an immensely powerful


an abode of frozenness

where all bow down

in humbleness

and awe

before the Mandate of Heaven

when I first


the sunlight was inside of me

not from the window


was a book

opened on the shelf

wrinkles on my toes


those of the caiman

its shy teeth


in the sunlight

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"On Contemplating Oval Stones In Barcelona From My Front Porch In Key West"

why seek oval stones in Barcelona

artful architecture

slurping shapes of sandpile steeples cornices and such

Catalan concoctions of

stubborn verbs

conjugations wandering from Madrid’s strict path

come back to your constricted island

the tumble-bum scrum of

hip-hop hope

asphalt lanes

and Hemingwegian derring-do

the sand truck dumps

a dream of drug-dulled dozing on the beach

Paradise Itself the website says

here the stones are weathered other

un-sleek lumps and gritty bits

coral crushed a billion years into

insensate ordinariness

looking at you without nuance just itself

hence the need for false eyelashes mascara neon pasties and

oh yes

a fabulous Patti-Page-pink boa (she was Clara Ann Fowler before the change)


look at the unglamorous marl

the front walk’s rooster shit

half-chewed chicken bones strewn streetwise

the fawning frangipani cooing the camera’s eye

tourist hawkers hooking their day’s pay

reeling them in like sleepy snappers unawares

do not ask what is it

come let us…buy the ticket

to the Fantasy

but that’s ok too

cuz the second day it’s

the same old play

it’s the is-ness nothing less or more

the dumb-dog quiddity of time and place

let it be what it is

and you too


"You Can't Be What You Are Not"

you can’t be what you are not

can’t be the water in the pot if you are the pot

can’t reverse the order of things

and be that curving container of cooked earth

if you are the unpredictable liquid inside

but maybe you can become


alter transform transmogrify

or however you want to call it


to a place

a state a condition a perception

a way of moving through the surfaced variety of what surrounds you

in a way different from Tuesday

or the day before

think therefore

about that baked clay container

didn’t it used to be water

at least part of it was

some moving force curving around bends and rocks

before it was scooped up

mashed with dirt of a special kind

turned round and round

heated up then cooled down

and it thus became

that which could now hold

that which it used to be

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"After the Key West Poetry Writing Seminar"

read it again, she says

you read the words and stop full stop reverse rewind replace again announce renounce

is there some other way to say the pulse and flash of ache aspire envelope (verb that is not noun) the Om-infused encompassing?

can you even mark the or tiptoe the or circumambulate the

words to be, thoughts to be avoided

Inisuch a serious seminar-place?

lest you be smirk-smitten, cliché-cajoled?

suspicious syllables such as soul, yearn, the-Viennese-whipped-cream-way-too-glucose-high-schlag-induced-Mahlerian Sehnsucht?

how tres uncool to dump them on the table

like an untrained puppy pooping on your host’s new Aubusson

in that air

above the table

in that hollow zone of sound which is more than sound not really sound at all more like a particle bit of what? light untouchable

in that space

you are aloft

at rest

and moving too

and not

in that still micro-point

between the magnet poles




like the anole’s eye

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"The Tour Guide"

1. Introibo

let us go into then

the Great Hall of Tickets

and select slim bits for our flypaper postcards

dodging the local

eschewing the quartier and

choosing instead

distant topologies of sight and site

2. Calakmul

the tour Day Two

or perhaps One it depends on

the way that time turns its page

backward or forward

backward goes actually laterally

way over into left field or right

where the pop flies arc bounce and bump against

the ball court at Calakmul

to get there drive way down from Detroit

turn left at Xpuhil

you can’t miss it

3. Rome

Tour Guide: Please don’t touch

please don’t touch the baldacchino

or any of the putti

although they look ethereal

in their gilded mirth

actually they are just posing

taking a break from their heavy duty day job up above

the bamboozling Baedeker comments on the whole shebang

the losing feathered warrior

Pakal’s pawn seed-drugged

fingers numbed

catapults to St. Peter’s dome

let’s follow him closely one by one

do not delay

squeezing through Michelangelo’s shells

up to the lantern all crowded round

you’ll get a great view

looking on the imperial urb

the bedizened warrior tumbles down

falls into a king-sized Serta ™ bed

and cruises to the next port call

at Cefalu

4. Key West

over there, the little shoebox building

smeared grey flaking stucco

you would pass it beer in hand never a glance back

lo it was the home of Ponce de Leon

setting foot on the Isle of Bones his minions crafted

this small palace set among the palms

golden plates adorned the roof

scaring the pelicans not to mention the F16s vaulting overhead

5. Nag Hammadi


that postage stamp parchment shred

lying in the garage mechanic’s toolshed

of the Nag Hammadi Auto Repair Shop

the faint upside down angled zigzag T

it is the middle name of

would you have known if I had not told you it was so?

"Beyond Balance"

the Uxmal dwarf piled

one block on top of another up and up vertiginously up

and standing on the top tip toe

painted his fingernail silver

trimmed it thin

and tossed it up into the black sky

Luz my neighbor painted her house

with shards beads broken glass

palm fronds udjat star and wave

I see them on her wall when I walk my dog

sometimes at night I walk myself

and fly through her wall to the moon

"On Awaiting the Death of a Friend"

the museum book

page 71

shows the right stone foot

of Apollo Alaios at Krimisa

just above the ankle

it stops

just a chunk a carved foot fragment

each noble toe so perfectly


toe-knuckles ripple the cuticles curve

so regular and fine

and at the foot’s flat level top

a square hole lacks its metal dowel

linking the lower leg of wood


good marble being scarce

in these parts of Magna Graecia

hence the need

to hew good wood instead

hew it into necks and legs and such

doweling them to the outer marble bits

these middle parts are long since gone

back to earth

a trope we know so well

the marble head yet fixes us

the sockets lacking ivory eyes

still shine sufficient Rilkean force

to bind our impatient gaze

just one moment maybe two

before we turn the page

"Maybe You Know Enough"

maybe you know enough now

maybe you know how the Greeks

actually wrote 5678

starting with pi or maybe gamma

adding a squiggle to signify a quantity

and etas after that and more and more

or you know


whether the rivets were actually cast


so that when the hull was built

there was no way that it could withstand

that icy crash

almost at midnight 14 April 1912


if you lived your life correctly

would you really care

if you could calculate

all by yourself

the actual speed of light?