Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'll be away

for a time, doing some much-needed computer maintenance. I sincerely hope it will be brief, but this will be a full format and reinstall, and we all know how these things can go. (See below.) Wish me luck, friends.


They say the best laid
gang aft agley,
but if we had to scrap the ones we’ve made
where would we be?

Though it’s arguable
if cooked eggs hatch,
wouldn’t our days be simply too miserable
if we didn’t sit a clutch?

Plans structure days.
A basic minimum
keeps the prefrontal mayonnaise
out of the temporal jam,

yet the structure’s fiction.
Our purest fantasies
are real as our most serious predictions,
our chiseled destinies.

Reality’s rarely kind.
Life is a bitch.
The farsighted reliably lead the blind
into the usual ditch.

So let’s make plans,
have lunch, a drink.
We’ll catch each other as catch we can,
next week, you think?

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Scar

I’m in this. This isn’t me.
In here my crocheted tissues
only find me in reflections.
In here I only feel it sometimes,
a certain tightness as the grafts
draw down, an aching anesthesia.
I own no mirrors. You I can’t avoid.

It isn’t me you see scrambled so.
That surrounds me. I’m inside.
But now the world’s a shot flower,
now my shattered visage eats
at the squeamish citizens like sin.
Those who may have loved me once
have other obligations now.

It was a year before I recognized
myself accidentally caught in glass, but
I, too, felt the clammy urge to look,
absorb it, thrilling somewhere deep
at its livid anarchy. I, too, forced
my eyes from the shameful chaos,
the peeled, eloquent mortality.

Call me Patches. I’m just like you.
I’ll be your jackolantern,
count you lucky in your
pocked and bristled countenance.
Those gargantuan, grasping pores
I’ll take for my ideal. Don’t go.
I’m no different now. It’s only me.

I, too, have in me sometimes
that itch for the button,
you know the one, the one
that answers any question,
the Alexandrine stroke through
the charmed knot of existence,
flash fire in a universe of ice.

I’m like you. Something in me, too, loves
disaster, flames in the sky, flood,
must look when the inevitable
happens, have its fill
of the unspeakable roadside faces
framed in shattered webs of glass,
the startled, comely faces of the dead.

You know you want to. Go on. Touch it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Merry Go Round

have a
dream in which
I wake up, throw
back the covers, step
into a hot shower,
shave, skip breakfast, go to work,
then wake to find myself still in
bed about to throw back the covers
and step into a hot shower, shave, skip
breakfast and go to work, only to wake,
blink my eyes, find it all there to go
through again, hoping this time it’s
real, get up again, shower,
shave, skip breakfast, never
dreaming I’m asleep
but always half
to wake

Friday, February 23, 2007


Heels afire, chalice raised,
he doubletimed it to the Bright Lights,
ready to eat or be eaten, but
his act was from like the prairie somewhere
and everyone who was anyone
got real tired real soon
of the way he’d constantly cut up,
shoot his feet off all the time.

He did his part, give him that:
when they called the cattle in, he went,
auditioned for auditions while
his letters of introduction from
Nowhere Terpsichorean
went yellow in their plastic sleeves.

Eat or be eaten? Give us a break.
Not even a day job.
His bankers’ civil chill became
a frozen siege of civil law.
His door was a union hall for wolves.
For awhile there the sandwiches
got thin enough to make him wonder
what was eating whom. Tap City.

But nobody misses all the breaks.
He got the call, from the Bridge Commish,
found himself in charge of rust
on Bay Span three, endlessly
patrolling in his baggy greens,
filing his chits, watching his steps.

Soon he was back on his feet again.
He even stopped a few of the city’s
more reluctant suicides,
even married one, a pianist.
It struck him that, against all odds,
he’d found the perfect place in time,
a hollow in the universe
that fit the space he occupied.

Nights were best: alone, on top,
back turned to the blazing town,
he’d mount the oxidizing wind
with an airy music in his teeth,
bell the bridge a step or two
to greet the pirouetting stars.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Legend of Good Women

The woman is the better half:
we hear it every day,
but the better half of what is what
they always fail to say.

We all recall Penelope
for steadfastness and tact;
her silken weavings drove them mad,
brought Odysseus back.

But did she pine for all those years?
Was anything amiss?
No. Her heart was wholly occupied
by her Telemachus.

She held him on his birthing day
as a mother only can;
it was then that old Odysseus
became a traveling man.


Filigreed partiti greet
the sunbeams, appealingly antique:
speedy, secretive Vivaldis
key the trees with piccoli,
sweep the eaves with tutti suites
that leave easy sheeted sleepers’
dreams discreetly incomplete.
One weary steeple creeper,
keeper of a peevish three,
piqued by the ceaseless beseeching
peekaboo of her greedy trio
for eked feasts of meaty beetle
or sweet beaks of feeder seed,
cheats for the merest cheeky beat
in her careening, keen career,
wreaks her feces on the screen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This Lunar Beauty

Wystan Hugh Auden ..................... February 21, 1907

This lunar beauty
Has no history
Is complete and early;
If beauty later
Bear any feature
It had a lover
And is another.

This like a dream
Keeps other time
And daytime is
The loss of this;
For time is inches
And the heart’s changes
Where ghost has haunted
Lost and wanted.

But this was never
A ghost’s endeavor
Nor finished this,
was ghost at ease;
And till it pass
Love shall not near
The sweetness here
Nor sorrow take
His endless look.

--W.H. Auden

The Laugh

Insomniac stars dimly glim,
sand on creased, sweltering sheets.
That wet wool against the skin

is only air, only heat.
Little moves in the dull hum
of window units, only a fleet

delirium of moths, numbed
under the sodium vapor lights
to the bats’ methodical ad libitum.

The odd car, sealed tight
on a machined bubble of May,
vents mephitic fahrenheit.

These are the hydrocarbon days,
this is life’s toxic ooze;
now we while our time away

with G and T and BTUs,
to damp the spinal xylophone’s
abominable bugaloos.

Laughter splashes cobblestone,
ripples out to gently rock
the huge inhuman black alone.

Monday, February 19, 2007


At the shrine
tourists stand
in patient files, inching
through catacombs to view
the effigies, the holy relics.
Above one narrow gallery
a secular intrusion glistens:


The faithful see their sign,
pat their wallets,
press on reassured.
But in the passageway, observant
of the self-searching pilgrims,
stands the dip, smiling,
the paint still wet on his fingers.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Carpe Quacunque

There is simply nothing
so luscious looking as
tomatoes buzzing
in the sun, unless
it’s apples crackling
in the orchard of
a cranky old man, or
you, double-stemmed,
many-fruited, before
me on the stairs,
your ripeness all.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


The grackles came this spring.
Teeming beaks and patience,
they crowed a soffit slat,
colonized the attic,
filled the lofty silence
with a colloquy of wings.

Rats the size of dogs
in a slick imitation
of birdy pursuits and evasions,
quietless dialogues
of epithalamium.

In the night of the second day
they found the autoharp’s
forgotten hiding place,
unhinged the mildewed case,
mixed their flats and sharps
as the dampers fell away.

It’s a constant concert now.
The virtuosi queue
to charm the company,
feathering delicately
the strings above new,
crooing tremolos,

and for their artistry
receive a racket of spikes
pulled from rusty beams,
chalk on slate, scream
of worn out brakes.
Enough, apparently.

A sulphur candle sends
them somewhere else to let
their psittacosis fall.
Now we listen at the walls,
probe this novel quiet
that sings as it descends.


We lean into winter, gray
with a long fall of gritty rain,
almost anxious for the day

when the slide and slap of dropping leaves
is tricked into clatter by the cold,
and we see the muddy carpet freeze.

The paper promised sun today:
drizzle hisses in the street,
and one wet starling frays

out on the wire, unequal to air
that’s not quite water, not quite ice,
slowly learning not to care.

Then another one comes, another,
then suddenly a hundred, two;
they plump themselves, clump together.

There is a lot to be said for a splash
of local spirit, an extra log,
weathered companions, tight sash.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


They must exist, given such expanse:
beings civilized, advanced,
who people Edens lush with fruit,
draw from their celestial flutes
such music as creation might
have whistled as it went alight.
And also others. more like us,
who pay two bucks to ride the bus.

Nothing living doesn’t need:
all our gods have had their feed.
We’re in progress, a juicy cut
of tenders in the cosmic gut,
digested as we reason why.
May we not be scooped by
some fastidious master race,
one more galactic breach of taste.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Ferried in by the cat from the spent woods,
the athletes vault and gorge and multiply;
crack tiny, plump with our several bloods,
they hound us in our chairs to drink us dry.

Only sit awhile, turn a page,
one or two will show, stalwart pals,
to pass the time, have a drink, assuage
a thirst preliminary to their nuptials.

It’s the female who bites, actually,
and females she prefers to jump and swig,
blood meals a stolen nursery,
filched placenta for her clutch of eggs.

There is no end to them. No fog
of toxin stems them: they’ll own
the house when we lie finally in the rug,
rustling husks, empty kitchens, bones.

The family squirms in the infested chairs,
distracted, welted wife and girls, astir,
sinking slowly into grim despair.
I see them staring at my jugular.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


There have been Dark ages before,
desolate, evil times when humanity
seemed in full retreat, when death
held sway, brought the bethels
plague, superstition, vanity,
greed, starvation, and incessant war.

Once they’re Ages, we can call
them Dark, or Space, or any name
we please, if only to disguise
how little differs otherwise,
how much the ages stay the same;
the Ice melts slowly, if at all.

There’s precious little really New
about our Gilded, Digital day.
Wonders have become routine;
in the Glacial hush of sleek Machines
we scrape along in the usual way,
sharp Stone, tight shoe.

We haggle with the universe,
despite our Faith in the Iron rule
that none of our overwhelming questions
will ever give the faintest suggestion
of having disturbed a molecule.
We Moderns are nothing if not perverse.

Through the rooms we come and go,
talking of “Wolfy,” with a “V,”
our Anxiety fully guaranteed
in megahertz at Enlightenment speed.
We’ve all seen what there is to see,
we’ve all seen the Video.

An Age of Miracles is past
when miracles are commonplace:
surely a new perspective is at hand.
Surely we’ll learn to decipher the face
in which our own chronicles are cast,
our own hour come round at last.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Skint's Latest Challenge

may be found here .

Who are we?

intellects gleaming
forgetting to breathe

hurting each other
forgetting to see

I am a bundle of love
you are

a contradiction,
in a universe

of words in columns,
honed versus honied,

always contending,
true love, true steel.


This white silence comes each time
in its own blank moment of awe:

you think, in that instant before
you turn away cursing the climate

to dig out your leaky boots
so you can dig out your car,

before you ask what the odds are
of surviving the afternoon commute,

before you decide to be dutiful
and brave it and your heart sinks

into the grimy slush, you think,
“Oh. Look. Beautiful.”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lines Written in a Time of Plague

These sidewalks in their vicious swim converge
in living eyes, join as if by choice
at their appointed sliver of horizon,
as though some master of the renaissance
were at his spattered box of mulled earths
enforcing the relentless laws of light.
But us? We see no diminishment of space,
no stigmatic, scumbled atmosphere,
only vast, disencumbered parallels,
the lucid trigonometry of changeless time.

We bubbled once in that seductive flame;
distracted by the rumors of eternal pain
or everlasting bliss, we measured both
against our crabbed, circumstantial spasms,
our dawns quotidian dreams of paradise,
our evenings, iridescent slicks in the skies,
exhaustive illustrations of irrevocable doom.
While we lived, we lived for further torments,
submerged in parched fevers, soaking chills,
emerged to this innocence you can’t forgive.

You would have recognized us, had you looked,
could now, but we are vacancy itself,
space made vaguely luminous with loss,
the blank surface of a table, silence in a bed,
the thin synaptic echo in the eyeless night
of kindred voice, fingers poised to touch.
We are shimmer in a stranger’s hair,
a bookmark, empty chair, keys, a cup.
One by one we leave you, faithless friends,
to comprehend the winter settled in your blood.

Remember how it was before the fall?
Before the chromosomal sarabande
enchanted the abyssal peace of reachless Eden
with those first grand assertive chords?
Before the first stately cadence rippled
through your drop of sea and bid you dance?
Remember? You were the garden and the tree,
you were the very fruit of paradise.
Was it God or serpent found your hiding place,
tricked you to the chill delirium of time?

No. The peace that passes understanding
isn’t given us to memorize.
We lose the flavor of eternity,
like the taste of pomegranate seeds
we nibbled on a picnic long ago,
familiar but beyond recall, until
we taste again and in the moment know
fruit, birdsong, forest, scent of wine.
So it is with our return to bliss;
we wander off, find ourselves at home.

Strayed to the point of absolute convergence,
we leave you in the wilderness of time,
eyes still averted from the thin line
where earth and sky, past and future meet,
where knowledge disillusions fact, fades
to the fundamental charge and countercharge
from which we sprang, unformed, pure potential
clothed in an exquisite agony of flesh.
Save your tears for wounds worth the salt.
Cry, if you must, for those still to be born.

Or cry for those on the outskirts of the miracle,
for whom our blue-white flash of being
is a slow siege of fevers in bottomless dark,
a constant quarrel in the legions of the blood
for territory no force can hold,
the cells’ most secret, human core.
Cry too for the sequestered, citadel spirits,
bricked in cells of consummate integrity,
safe from any particle which might invade
to dim their one brief moment in the light.


How they flutter
in the brain’s
quaint chambers,
those we loved
before we knew
love for more
than a casual,
affable torment:
as though not
a day had passed;
luminous, ambered,
stuck in the brittling
pith of the mind.

Monday, February 05, 2007


As I drive out each morning
in the frantic stop and go,
the faces in the clotted lanes
are flakes of April snow.

Dissolving faces, wary,
eyes elusive, quick, machined
to perfect anonymity
by sheet metal dreams,

melting in a hasty
crawl to labor we despise:
surely something crafty
has descended from the sky

to take us while we slept,
some fine, spiraled dust that fell
to earth like silence or the dusk,
to gnaw us at the cell.

No. Not gamma clouds
or plague, nothing in fact so rare
even as rain, as much
from jungle as under stairs,

more of us than among us,
it filters out from ancient places
in our helices of years, to work
its subtle magic in the face.


Taciturn of late, the gods
growl in a bleaker paradise,
their chronic scandals stilled, still
Osiris, Balder, Christ.

In the beginning was the sun,
the stone, moon, water. Demon
voices joined in revelation,
loud with the permutations

of the possible, leaves
shirring the wind, hissing
prophesy or history,
endless intercession.

We cast mathematics
on the constellated void,
net spread far for any vestige,
any semblance of a word.

Between the walls of time
we only rent a narrow room,
space enough to hide an egg,
evade the barber’s broom,

room for the fang of terror
deep in the streaking dawn,
at the naked, elemental hunger
of the five o’clock lawn.

So do not sit so far, Love,
move closer, let the glow
of liquefaction take us,
flakes of April snow.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


We live with what comes. Job knew:
no prayer or penance or polemic will do.
When legions of boils deploy to our backs
we sleep on our sides and bear the attack.
And when, inevitably, both sides are shot
we quickly come to realize it’s not
in actual practice more demanding
to have our nightmares while we’re standing.

Before too long, of course, the feet
erupt, and just as we’re getting the feel
of sleeping in corners on our heads,
the scalp starts going in shreds.
And when we’re as sore as we can get
we get the news: it’s all a bet
between old pals over drinks at dinner,
and we have to sleep with the winner.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Rain After Drought

For almost two years
the sky stared back at us blank,
sent one thin rattle of snow
across the skeletal reservoirs.
We thought it was the end, the Big One,
the firestorm of prophesy
pouring from the cloudless zenith
to perfect creation. We waited.
We watched the corn stunt and burn.

Then we woke from dreams of fire
to dreams of grace, to blessed rain.
We set our faces to it, drank,
sent up besotted alleluias
as the world went overnight
impossibly green again, alive.
The rooftree rang with praise,
rang with antiphons pealed
from all the high choirs of the sky.

I hear no alleluias now:
just the unrelenting anthem
of the rain, just the ceaseless
riffle and tick against the glass,
the fluent patter of demented eaves.
I dreamt last night a wooden zoo
sailed out with creatures two by two
for the siren shoals of Ararat.
Will this blessing never pass?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ashes, Ashes

Ashes sift from spacious skies,
blacker snow than ever fell,
leave a drift of fear and lies
where freedom had its citadel.

The toxic powder covers all,
mountain, prairie, farm and town,
torturers and listeners crawl
to kneel before an evil clown.

Everything we thought was best,
all we fondly thought we were,
has now been coolly laid to rest
with our dishonored ancestors.