Friday, May 15, 2009

Cohabitation Suite (Three Poems)

I. Living Together

My girlfriend and I live together in one small room.
She went in the kitchen for a brief moment,
And sitting at my desk, I thought to myself,
How nice to be alone!

Then she came back in,
And I felt odd, like I had done something wrong,
Cheated on her in some way with the wrong thought.
But instead of confessing, I said,
“Honey, can you get me a glass of water?”

And back she went into the kitchen.

II. T.P.

My girlfriend and I moved in together,
so now there are all the little things
Like how one places the toilet paper roll
on the toilet paper holder to discuss.
Or how exactly and to what degree
she is going to cuddle with me in bed.
How much of her weight will she
ever-so-slightly shift onto me?
And how much of my weight on her?

So the toilet paper was again rolling out
from underneath this morning,
And I can’t stand it that way,
how it spills all over the floor,
How it makes us look like barbarians:
t.p. must roll out from over the top!
So I talked to her about it this morning,
and I think everything went swimmingly.
We saw eye to eye on this crucial issue,
and certainly this bodes well.
I imagine all will continue to go
as smoothly when the baby arrives.

III. My Girlfriend Struggles With Her Key At The Door

She is back from yoga, her key in the door,
And I hear her jiggling it, back and forth,
In and out—the damn key doesn’t fit quite right—
And I sit here thinking, Should I get up and open
The door for her? I wait. The jiggling continues. I wait
Another moment, listening to the struggle. In the end, I wait it out,
Saying to myself, Now is my chance to finish the line I’m working on.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scattered Thoughts Are The Best You Can Do

for Chögyam Trungpa and Czeslaw Milosz

The quietest day in some time.
An old bawdy joke is seeking to be remembered by me.
Gray, misty with moisture.
No car alarms, only the hint of a siren—
Far off, growing closer now, Dopplering by.
No grand system of symbols
Within which to work, that is to say,
My crucifixions look nothing like what you might remember.
Yet, I cannot bear another silent moment.
Still, I cannot endure another mad poem.
Is it true, what Milosz implied when he said,
What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
But, Czeslaw, there is nothing to be done,
No one to be saved,
No one in need of salvation.
The throat will be slit whether I cry out
Or not, and the wrong man will be arrested,
A forgotten joke on his lips at execution time.
So I leave here and return
At eighteen hundred hours
To report again the goings-on of consciousness.
At one hundred and eight thousand hours.
Ha!—that’s an important number in some circles.
School is being let out on South Third.
The kids are crazed with spring.
Well, the whole of it is a sack of potatoes.
Some edible, some rotten.
I narrate, breathe, narrate, expire.
And you’re right, Chögyam, the goal of poetry very well may be
To exasperate everyone so that we die laughing.
Which reminds me of a joke.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Birthing Classes at the Local YMCA

Soon enough
when the bellies empty
the twenty of us will become

a biological phenomenon
nearly indescribable
without resorting to the usual
empty adjectives:

Wild, crazy, surreal
perhaps uncanny
though obviously nothing other than

Go forth and multiply
said our instructor
at the end of eight weeks
as we,

The twenty, shook hands
bid each other good luck
laughed at the inscrutable

That had gathered us strangers into
these tiny wooden chairs
to discuss the benefits of
nettle tea.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Between

In between our rotten moods we find the subtle stuff,
I’d call it energetic work if that didn’t sound too fluffy,
But once you’ve signed on there is no going back, to before
When your breath did not always heave with the room but
Rather was just your breath, something you could do with
As you pleased. People are forever in between
Projects or relationships or states of mind,
But what we can’t quite figure out is how to pick
One or the other: the mood or the space just before the next mood.
It is the same distinction that exists between the self-conscious performance
And the so-called genuine article, meaning, whenever
We are unsure of what side of the Here-I-Am spectrum we’re on then
We fall into this space I’m talking about. “I just don’t know
Where to go with my work,” my friend says, “I’m between
Styles.” My whole life I’ve hunted like a rat in a maze for
The way out of the in-between, but the lines blur
Like twilight on the horizon and now it is true that I cannot be
Bothered with such pursuits because there is something here for me
After all, a kind of suspended tension that reminds me
Strongly of what Goethe was writing about when he spoke of the good old
Eternal feminine—not that we even need such grand ideas,
Really, we don’t because we all know the chaos and confusion
Of looking at an abstract painting, something scraped and splattered
And hanging on the wall in front of your eyes at the gallery,
Imbuing you with that singular sensation of the not-quite-formed
And maybe that’s the whole idea, evolution and progress notwithstanding,
Namely, to feel that reiki-like energy that gathers between flesh,
To hover therein and feel settled nonetheless,
So that all my shifting moods are me and I am nothing more
Than my shifting moods, and the invisible electricity
That flows between the fingers of God and Adam in Michelangelo’s
Masterpiece can course through me freely, making my moods,
And the spaces between them, if not always lovely, bearable.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I want to consummate

not exactly what was
in my dream
but from a like landscape

Sunlight pouring
through my pores

In my mind I make the whole
into a paradise
a brief stint in the grasses
by the water

In our minds we encounter visions that elude us
by daylight


We were reading poetry
you and I
in my dream

or perhaps philosophy

A tattered chapbook
or that slim volume
wherein the Frenchman writes
“Man is nothing but what he makes of himself.”

You see how the great pipe-smoker
comes back to me now

But that afternoon
by the mosaics museum
is memory, not dream

the slim red-orange volume
and the open picnic basket

wine from Dixie cups
to lips


One cannot make a memory consummate:
It is what it was (is and will be)

This experiment involves the edge
of what’s to come
as in
I think of a playful poke to your ribs
then I playfully poke your ribs

minus the narration

There is a field
a breeze, a grassy patch
simple things
cross-legged and full of leisure
beneath the tree’s

we sit together

chasing our flickering thoughts
discussing our opinions of contemporaries
their devices
their failures


You, forever with your theories
about time
and its non-existence

How is it that I can call out to you from here?

Let us consummate
in the nether regions
of these whispers
for it is possible this is all our natures desire

To the park then!
this very moment
for the sun beckons us
or so we imagine