Thursday, March 28, 2024

Fast as a New York Sonnet

down this horizonless sidewalk of coffee
the buildings are supported by the doors of coffeehouses
the sidewalk runs as fast as caffeine will carry it
each step each stride each dance step its very own

some day     some say
the free music will end and you’ll have to pay the piper
for all the shoe soles you’ve worn out on these walks
but you’ll only have to teach the piper a new tune

	noah’s ark landed in washington square park
	it landed there over and over again
	at least every five or ten years it landed
	but lots of times it rains and washes the old footprints away
	people forget about that even with coffee
	that’s why this place is so wonderful

from Yew Nork (2014)

Monday, January 29, 2024

Notes for Auto Bio

i take my pasts     each
examine them
each in a sepia of its own dust
through which i can see
only when i look away

    one was college     natural but sometimes it stressed
    once my father called me
    a communist drug addict
    and generations of hands came down
    in the flick of a half second’s time
    and decades later i found myself asking
    exactly whose political mechanics i’d betrayed
    and how many of his own ancestors
    my father was betraying

in another i slogged on through thirty years
of full-time work on the gravity of nothingness
my fingerprints are all over its surface
but the box seems completely hollow
all but the details grown over
by layers of mechanical dust
seen through the stone age of my imagination
as on the mechanical back of someone else’s android hand

and the lifetimes of memories of people i’ve loved
    of your lives entangled with mine
    so many of you freed now
    in the mechanics of what could be called fate
    but is only a weird form of temporal physics

and my rage that time’s just another machine
with my and everybody else’s living meat
throbbing like pain momentarily held within it

from Auto Bio (2010)

Tuesday, January 2, 2024


listen to me    
i’ll listen to you
i’ll try to listen to everyone
who isn’t me
if you will too

so know    then
that we are all different joints
on different fingers of the same hand
and that there’s another hand as well
that we have never heard of
so listen    listen
if you speak i will listen
so that both hands can speak
and listen    and move
as two hands together

Written in late 2023

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Invitation (for Judy)

so walk with me along this     ocean’s edge
the island     springs and rocks along the beachfront
the cold wind houses noises      makes the long walk reminiscent
of other seasons     when flowers sprang with faces
of bedeviled carnivores at war      have you tasted the ice cream?
smoky clouds still numb away the horizon
quicksand and a sputtering ocean     knick-knacks lined across the harbor
to talk about dream is silly as steam evanescent in the warming weather

someone has been bouncing bare toes on the beach
someone has been making sea lion sounds at the hot dog stand
someone has been celebrating weather by reinventing it
a long leap for landmass and a lush dance of sand
a trill a thrill a leap of words and bodies
a reanimation of the whole soul hallelujah i love you so

from Auto Bio (2010)

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Trip Back

a hurt youth     face garments of open sky and laceration
he was easier as an earthquake now
he flew on outstretched arms of his own leather
uncured and vulnerable     history pacing itself in its own gold threads

troubled     unsaid     the sign melodrama     ape awakened
and fake fits in the nursery     alive as inside his ribs
and take it as biography made uneasy
tumbled when born     but have always bartered

	steepness when chutes had already opened
	i call that beautiful because they wear their beginnings
	a child myself     stop myself there
	the chide is father to the monkey wrench
	i was crying over a spillover of red ant stings
	people wrestle all night with their own angels

from Auto Bio (2010)

Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Sparrow at the Door (ChatGPT after Mary Oliver)

This poem isn't really mine. I generated it via by inputting the entire poem "The Mystery
of the Dancing Windows" (which is also on this blog) into ChatGPT and asking for a poem 
in this format in the style of Mary Oliver. I didn't ask for rhyme or for the last 
stanza. I think that ChatGPT isn't as good at generating poetry as it is at generating 
fiction (see "The Eldritch Mariner" on my companion blog Things I've Done for 
Blood), so poets may be a little safer than prose writers from AI "writing". 
Although the prospect of hybrid written/generated work is possible.

The Sparrow at the Door (ChatGPT after Mary Oliver)

Beneath the tapestry of time's embrace, 
A sailor from a bygone age did stand, 
Knives like shadows, a creeping lace, 
Upon his leg, a touch from some strange hand.

Windows joined the cosmic ballet, 
Dancing to the rhythms of the wind, 
A language only they could convey, 
In whispered tales that the stars pinned.

An hourglass, an ancient voice, 
Sang an aria of grains so fine, 
Each note a choice, each moment a rejoice, 
In the symphony of hours' design.

From plains, a sparrow's mystic flight, 
Badge and spurs, a tale to tell, 
A pizza's scent in the fading light, 
A messenger from some enigmatic dell.

Detective's gaze on the cellphone's screen, 
Not for words or messages, but fleas to seek, 
Mysteries in tiny worlds unseen, 
In the digital realm, a puzzle to peak.

"Ribbit, ribbit," the canary's call, 
Echoing through twilight's hush, 
A cryptic song that befalls, 
A chorus woven from nature's brush.

The emperor, with robes so grand, 
Bows not to realm, but inner grace, 
A moment's gesture, a whisper in the land, 
A monarch's humble, silent space.

Kumquat's revelation, humble and profound, 
Beneath its boughs, the earth does lie, 
Flat and still, beneath its sacred ground, 
A secret known only to the sky.
Before the stadium of feathers, a scene unfolds, 
Detective's voice a compass true, 
In tales of knives and mysteries old, 
The case unraveled, the truth in view.

In Mary Oliver's spirit, we explore, 
The sailor's journey, mysteries to embrace, 
Knives and windows, a symphony's lore, 
Nature's secrets revealed in gentle grace.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Mystery of the Dancing Windows (or Feed This into Your AI)

a medieval sailor finds that a parade of knives is creeping up his leg

windows dance in response    an hourglass sings an aria

out of the plains just west of town a two-ton sparrow wearing a badge
and silver spurs stops at the sailor’s door with a pizza

a detective examines his latest cellphone for fleas

ribbit ribbit calls the canary    the emperor bows

a kumquat discovers that the earth is flat
especially under its tree

the detective explains to a stadium full of feathers
how the case was solved

Monday, July 31, 2023

Middle School

I       i extend great days
    	encourage youngsters
    	to be required by state law

    	all students will not run in the hall
    	all students will salute the food in the cafeteria
    	all students will enjoy their rodent lives in the film that
    	every student will have a current
    	you will take this task seriously
    	all students will lock their happiness and joy
   	whenever asked to by faculty and staff

    	you will invite your mother and dad to
    	one’s education held in the auditorium in december and 
    	the edge of a cliff may affect study materials
	you are here to learn

II 	each student is furnished the bell in emergency
    	each student will also be a phone number
   	home rooms are assigned in the anticipation that
    	are the lockers located in the students

III 	never wear which will not conform
     	to average adult employment

     	never open an attitude of respect
     	for a tin can of other students

     	dissections continue
     	until school is dismissed

IV 	during the animal’s sleep
     	modification will be fully gloved

    	you are arousable

     	the walls of the room      dissolve
     	to the hot wet inside of your ribcage

     	you do not need
     	to consult the principal or school counselor

     	you can hear the gentle breathing beside you

     	is also sleeping like you are

     	the side of an animal you cannot identify

    	its warmth radiates from you

V  	make it a point to know your counselor and dental appointments
     	a note from your guardian or parent or telephone
     	the note should include your upset stomach

VI 	zits are the flit gun wounds
	of adult hormones!

	grey is a mass of colors
	their admixture is worshipful!

	i hold your abrasions in my heart as useless
	i chamber within myself
	and volcanic explode in enthusiasm

	your cardface temple crumbles
	the hill on which it sat is one
	character in a lifetime of players

	     all you taught me was wrong
	     all i learned i hope was true
	     i salute you as a rock i step over
	     all the rest of us

from Auto Bio (2010)

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Business Art Sonnet

o suffle me loong foo rort
o suffle id doon o
fur the leem iss o o hardt
fur the hardt isso isso

prof ver a soaky soaky
noblique a hex itching rinds
so leek clog are c’t hollow
sof mir usiness hoggy so

	ganizat quaintance lict a lict
	nob purpo orcer amat o
	ti pladform bulltinis ape hex
	ti latdorm hey a haney haney o
	slob clog a rasende oser dex
	zat clog a rasende soaky soaky o

note: rasende is Danish for furious

from Auto Bio (2010)

Monday, May 1, 2023

Monday Afternoon

i’m gonna get tattoos

i’m gonna get little file cabinets 
tattooed all over my forehead

with all of the file drawers

from Auto Bio (2010)

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Peter Pan

this life i cast before myself like a shadow invisible to you
is my own private joke:
	sixty year old heart seventy year old lungs
	hid beneath skin     that looks twenty-five
someone mistook me for a student last week
almost all my friends look older than me
but they’re all healthier
	especially wendy
	who     is     twenty-five
people tell us we’re a cute couple
when’re we getting married
i think of her     almost as a daughter

it’s appearance that you applaud
mainly because     no one wants to see inside
	where it’s dark
	and there are thousands of cupboards
	filled with ripped hearts
	and hypochondriac livers
	and memories congealed in greasy plastic bags
	all in the dark
	with nails driven deep in the doors
	and coated with blood
	that long ago dried dead
	around them

from Auto Bio (2010)

Sunday, March 12, 2023

From a Dream

last night i dreamed i was 
stuck in a room full of sleeping old men
and that it was the house where i grew up
and that i knew most of them
as my own mediocrities

the moon shone through one long high window
i marveled at its yellowness before clouds overcame it

i stepped carefully between the men’s spread mattresses
mattresses everywhere
these old guys two or three to a mattress
all asleep     half of them snoring
as i tip-toed in the dark until i got to the front door

where the rhythms of their snores paced the motion of my hand
as i reached for the doorknob in the weird yellow light

there was just enough space     to swing the door open
and stand in the face of the cold alien air
i saw the lawn     the street
the old sycamore that i remember from as early as i can remember
how quiet out there     deep three a m
i stepped out closed the door and the cold air took me
the snores seemed so warm     i could smell their breath
and taste their breath in my own mouth even away from them
nothing moved     even the squirrels were asleep
blocks away i could hear a car running

from Auto Bio (2010)

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Life Among the Bubbles

this year made a nice family out of the garage
with pale green     then cream
fine     newest
i suppose in a way winter’s new
lotsa pizzazz
with an earnestness that would impress any fair-minded person

have a glass of wine
take an off-season vacation
hear voices
a physician in hell has no motility
so you won’t get any surprises

the sex
the sex
the sex

the bubblist movement 
that decisively broke with renaissance aesthetics
a twenty-two foot statue 
of a nude man with the head of a chicken

he found
a dark brown shard of pottery

she wears dark sox taking off her athletic shoe
it fascinates      the archaeologist
have been touched by a monk or a pilgrim

she gesticulates about an intellectual matter

you can almost put your finger anywhere here 
and discover antiquities
she wears black
her hands are more perfect
than any renaissance sculpture

we can’t stop construction
red plastic shoes
it required them to build a raised
o please don’t go upstairs     i don’t know you yet

the sex
the sex
the sex

from Auto Bio (2010)

Monday, January 2, 2023

Official Notice

we regret to inform you of the loss of your life
you may have missed it     it happened
several hours ago when the river suddenly woke up
and it became its own raft     your life
and rode the current into the blues of the sky
while you were still fighting     trying
to dig your eternal notion of a graveyard
to plot some way to institutionalize the clouds in front of you

	is it happy?     we don’t know
	it’s still ascending     not sending back any letters
	but maybe     if you go to the souvenir rack
	and pick out a really pretty postcard
	it’ll come back to you

Monday, December 12, 2022

A Working Class Kid Goes to College

the floor     in the story     asked us to just be quiet
so we tip-toed around on the walls
wings tucked under our jackets
crowns having fallen imaginary
loose to space     past memory
the law of gravity undeniable as soiled undergarments

    outside the building toy animals
    a goat     a dog     a donkey
    an ox     a fox     a lynx
    a set of sixteenth century peasants
    plot revolution
    but none of them looks in the mirror for very long

the little black and white dog
the kind you see in roman mosaics
felt modern     tinted sunglasses now
and wagged his tail waiting
for those bulls with wings     those spirited ancestors
to greet him at the door

    his paw nails are longer now
    he can walk walls

    their tales of castles and finery
    were still cute to him     cute

    he knew all their palaces by name and reputation
    he didn’t know he’d never been inside one

these gods
he’d venerated for what seemed like thousands of years
could teach him to savor the birds
that he knew he could catch up with now
but for the uneasiness in his belly     still puffed up with dog food

he was known     he was sure later     for his foul breath

from Auto Bio (2010)

Friday, October 21, 2022

Expectant Buildings

last night in a swirl of dream
i walked with field gnomes
in the vacant lot where i grew up

they smiled so comfortably
in their small quick strides beside me
suddenly two singers called to them
from separate second floor balconies
and the entire slum around us was gone

so sing to me in the voice of the ocean
    that carries cities of fish in its tide
sing to me in the voices of sea bottom sand
    that the water smoothes into cloth in its ebb
sing to me in the voices of expectant towns
    that i hear near their infancy in the slow rolls of water
sing to me in the foam of the tide
    that rolls in like the lifetime of butterflies

so i found myself happy
in the songs of the gnomes
in the meadow where i grew up
in the bright field of flowers
with no nightfall
in dream

from Auto Bio (2010)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

For My Parents

drawing their dreams
in carts
behind them

like horses
forever pulling bricks
for their own stable

making dragons
of small 
rubber-armed windmills

finding a field
too green
a road too rough for stopping

they want to continue
one generation
after another


on the same road
to the same place
just over
the same hill

from Auto Bio (2010)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Finding Bones

some day a dog will get loose
find the patch of land just far enough past the yard
dig them up     the bones     the ones
the police looked for for twenty years
before they got back into their cruisers
and headed for the home planet

the force of narrative will goad the dog
into carrying the bones home
despite their glittery brightness
their strange     really strange     taste in his mouth
and he will guard them as his own
despite the will of the pack leader in the house

even when you’re small some things are your own
a dog could think that     a dog can think
and they’ve found that the genes that make small dogs small
don’t make them think they’re small
the class system here is purely physical
and you don’t have to think about it
if no one else can steal your treasures

from Auto Bio (2010)

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Second Breath

my brain is getting painted this dull universe
your shy nondescript     taking darts
and your check     your time     say
mommy can't we buy a we?

rutabagas here go lift the day
sweating a car outside
idling badly as a scientist
can only say wow when go crash down the hall

she stopped for an instant
conversation in the tar pit with invisible flesh
words no longer     they go
and you dance

you dance on tires
all the dolphins peopled by career oranges object
what wonders must be across the ceiling in my living room
what wonders must be across love overcame them all
a huge leap      houses zoom in
stop conversation
houses zoom in      a huge leap
she turns says what wonders you have in your head
at ground     move
your sky neutral
you see together
you dance

from Oedipus' First Lover (2009)

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Good Earth

this is the excuse of pleasant folks:
medusa's head        bound by a silk stocking
is kept incognito inside a desk
open hands clap until they are housebroken
and cyborgs with dog heads
around perimeters of fish ponds
dreaming           of the blood          the blood

in the sunset come and go
singing of daily mop and glo

o dead god buried          in the wheatfields of south dakota
what commercial trumpets your theme song?
do you rise          like a missile          at night
wet-dreaming of marge the plumber?
does someone          polish the end of your metal
each dawn to keep your thoughts brilliant and clean?

we are all multicellular now
phone us

we are still searching the plains
looking for medusa's teeth
inches deep in the soil

from Oedipus' First Lover (2009)

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Swimming Pool Rotunda

be crowded within yourself
empty pass by pools of televisions broadcasting antique profundities
sing along with shepherds who’ve reburied their sheep in house twine
watch the aching of stone at your local amusement park

and what if other people too 
will be walking blind in swimming pools?
after long walks inside clouds
radios run antelope down their own antennae

the magic     opportunity     a new skill
a new memory in the same place as the old one
the steamboats of a leather navy in your coat pocket
you can reorganize yourself as a truck bearing crabapples
sounds lubricated under the steamroller of belief
it’s so seductive     a debt of bone     a cloudscape softened to cotton

from Oedipus' First Lover (2009)

Friday, March 4, 2022

A Jealous Universe

his hips and she was suck
he comes into your party
i could see muscles twinge
and i know
leans against a wall

my landed neck i watched in her thighs and calves
excited and she in this new fingers
i could understand
my landed i neck i watched
she was possessing

i could see him
i could understand
he doesn't move
she was his eyes shown early
he was possessing
i would have

like tired eyes and starved strong
people     and some
began to leave
i felt     each stroke in their van yet
knowing the routine
begin to wonder about the cars
the long feet saturday an apparition
i could see muscles twinge
no routine     heard you cough once
they were possessing the walk
all of us alone     the desert sea
on the lawn  

from Oedipus' First Lover (2009)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

So Yesterday

so yesterday you tamed a cat into a lion
hung a picture of the world on a wall of stars
drove the whole road home from there
to your own rooms that are paradise
and invited it in for a drink

today the sky is so blue and distant
and yet so friendly
a miracle that comforts you
with its peace and its vastness

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Its Elegant Steel Cage

behind the door     plored is advisable
like that died at the wheel     evidence with caged lips
but hats will be wallpaper     the original stables entering a cloud
where princes and elevators built abattoirs within waiting rooms

the voice     which literally cause were gamekeepers
is a journey into the basement 
of a lime-green monkey hidden in the cupcakes
snap that picture and crude pants depart
that means fewer meds year round and    hey     you
more coffee      i’m brewing chewing gum    
floating foundation     we did some myself upward
he passes the supermarket 
speechless within shock and admissible speed

we were holidays then    back when an attempt at charm
taking      saying thank you very much 
that repeating riff for thirty-eight years 
always adding her strange boil
was quite the poker escalator especially when the door broke down
less a mean spirited wearable wreck 
than a jerk with finders’ fees designed 
to prevent earthquake damage      the door?     
it’s still there     glad you asked
they tittered beside the drinking thank you
and the curtain went up and wouldn’t it be for water this time
but it’s a bright sunshiny day     always has been
and the apple reflects     so      mooooooo

from Oedipus' First Lover (2009)

Friday, December 17, 2021

she crosses herself

she crosses herself
            every time a motorcycle goes by
one of the wheels
            the blood roaring into her heart
the other wheel
            the blood rushing out of her heart
            into the holy world
            of her body

from Oedipus' First Lover (2009)