Wednesday, December 7, 2022

poem

 Neutron

What is the purpose of a neutron 

Neither positive nor negative

Just along for the ride

Mindfucking the proton

Or so we say.


What about the neutrino

Chargeless, nearly massless

Billions, they say, slice through us every day

Leaving not a single scar

I never feel a thing, I say


A photon of light passes easily through this glass

If I were to try the same

Broken shards would slash my flesh

Is the light so bloodied?

What would you say?


12/7/22

poem

 Wet

I’ve always been a grinder

Scratching out brown dust

An inch or two at a time 

I am the sluice in the stone

When the river runs dry


All these people staring in awe

From the edge of what’s now a canyon

What was the point and why?

Look at those inscrutable geological ages

Layered in the crushed silence of looming walls


When the waters come again

They’ll come thundering through empty halls

The ancient dust now realizes the thing it's

Been feeling all this time is parched 

Everyone else trapped below drowns


I remember how even

A desert can get drenched

Geysers of pleasure

Erupting from the center of the earth

I remember being wet


12/7/22

poem

 Spendthrift

I can get through this

I'm a spendthrift with time

Distilled it down to 

A means of transaction

Use it to buy blocks 

of distraction. Stay overworked. Stacks

of books. Stoned reveries.

Absurdist escapist. Quietly suppressed rage.

 I try not to think 

about it anymore. 

I don't have time

All I can spare is a few minutes

here in the white spaces

of this last page 


12/7/22

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

poem

 Shelf Life

I feel bad for the autumn leaves that hang

Around too long, clinging to thin limbs

As the calendar flips to November

Desiccated like the cracked leather glove

Nailed to a wall in a closet 

In Chirico's Song of Love


Some of these shriveled leaves never fall at all

Cradled high up within witch’s claw branches 

Spend the winter clustered in browned banana bunches

Buffeted to a feeble chattering by paint stripping winds


It's a error to mistake this resistance to gravity

For a form of relative immortality

They know themselves they should have let go 

They know themselves the wind was a chariot


All that’s left is a wistful nostalgia for the glossy 

Foreign currency orange flourish

Of early October, glowing with colors

Before ever knowing they had once been green


Exultant from all the attention of

Everyone suddenly interested 

Taking pictures, pointing up at them in the sky—

Fluttering against the deep blue sky 

Feeling beautiful and worthy and whole

Without ever wondering why 


11/22/22

Sunday, November 20, 2022

poem

 Phone Tree 

You have reached my voicemail

If this is an emergency please hang up and dial 911

If this is not an emergency please consider hanging up 

and not dialing 911. If this is about that time I ought

to have done the thing we both know,

in retrospect, I should have done please press “2”

If this is simply a butt dial know that I don’t believe in butt dials

and will go to my grave assuming you intentionally called

but panicked last minute when it came time to say the thing you meant to say 

If this is a solicitor wanting me to sell my soul for the chance

of re-purchasing that very same soul

sometime down the road at a huge discount please press “3”

If you are an uncle or old coach or Dad or the guy in line 

ahead of me at the Walgreens or Corey from Wilkes Barre PA please press “4”

If this is a person who is angry or distracted or murderous

or understandably sad or grinding their teeth

with a ravenous pescatarian hunger please press “5”

If you think you know me please hold on the line

while listening to a selection of noirish Japanese jazz

that has a strong likelihood of lasting all night

If you wish to query about my lack of availability

Please press “6” and, once transferred to that place,

when you are asked to press another button,

Please press “7”. If you would like to just talk

To me you are allowed to ask 10 questions

If you would like one word replies (yes/no, binary codes) please press “8”

If you would like me to ramble on all night

so soporifically that you fall asleep by your sixth inquiry

then please press “9”

If you are pressing buttons right now,

just pounding your long lovely index finger into the phone

driven by a justifiable impatience and frustration

please remember the numbers are also letters

and the numbers create a series of beeping and blooping sounds

and if you love me

you can spell it

you can compose a song 

You can wait for it  


11/20/22

poem

 Op Note XXXII

The patient arrived broken and shattered into a million pieces. She called herself a puzzle and asked if I would be able to put her back together. I think I can.  Yes, I said.  Soon, though, it became clear that she was just a pile of disparate pieces, collected from the lost remnants of old puzzle boxes she’d found in her attic, pieces stolen from the edges of non-existent puzzles she imagined someday completing, pieces that she had carved from her own flesh and bone. None of them really belonged together.  None of them fit, at least not precisely.  So I woke her up and told her she wasn’t a puzzle, that a puzzle always has a final solution. She was a conundrum. An enigma. A spiral staircase to nowhere. The long desert road that dead ends at the edge of a canyon. You said you would help me, she said. I want to be whole again. Everything locking together in crafted precision.  I want to be a finished face. Someone a nice guy will someday decide to stop and look at and want to see every day. I used to think you were the missing piece that would fit into all my fractured fragments and make everything hold together again.  But now I know you are the one who acts. You are not one of the parts. You are the one who puts it all together.  It was beyond my training but given my difficulty with being able to say no, I told her I would do my best. I found four corners. Scavenged enough straight edges to limn the perimeter. Then the painstakingly laborious process of filling it in. Jamming ill suited pieces together. Bending and sawing off a few. Pretending I never saw others. Plenty of glue. I’m no craftsman, let alone an artist. But I am diligent. I do my best. I show up every day. Give me a task and I promise it gets done. When I was finished it wasn’t her anymore, of course. These pieces had never been so arranged. She was a new person now. Unbreakable and complete. I had warned her this kind of thing might happen but she didn't believe me. Sure enough, she was looking at me kind of funny.  Like she had never seen me before and was wondering what she was doing here, of all places, alone with a guy like me. I was exhausted. Had given everything I had. To be honest I didn't expect anything in return. I just wanted to go home. She shot me one last suspicious look, then flashed her first smile and, without a word, turned and was gone. I never saw her again.


11/20/22

poem

 Two Kinds

There are two types of people here. There are the ones, a category which includes myself, who consider there to be two places.  Here and there.  It is crystal clear to them that they have entered a new territory when they come “here”. They arrive from the land of “there”. They recognize their own continuity as a collective lived experience and count the transition from there to here as one such experience, having utterly little to do with the person they were at the beginning of the transition. For them, being is interwoven with experience. They possess a willingness to release a little bit of that death grip on the notion of an impregnable unchangeable Self in exchange for the liberating sensation that they have escaped from a known, occasionally stultifying, reality and have entered someplace new. That, once here, it is a completely different place, and one must learn all over again how to “be” under entirely novel circumstances and when it wears off, ho hum, back to the familiar place where they already know how to be.  Nothing they knew there had anything to do with here and could not be relied upon for any direction or validation.  It was like living inside for decades, becoming intimately aware of all its detailed varieties and permutations within an enclosed defined space and then suddenly someone opens a door and leads you outside. It takes some getting used to. Then there are the ones who are always here.  Nothing ever fundamentally changes for them. They spend every waking minute here, always in the know.  Recognizing each and every place as home. What joy. For them there is no inside or outside. Only here, everything all together. While you are wrestling with the implications of your arrival “here” she smiles as she plays with the chandelier dimmer, watching the shadows ebb and flow across your face.

11/20/22

Saturday, November 19, 2022

poem

 Display Cake

Mid November and it appears

the world has once again

powdered itself in sugared snow


Winter is the shimmering dessert

prominently displayed in the front window

of the amber lit bakery on Main street


It remains there untouched

uncut, untasted, a hunger 

arising for its blank slate


Spring is for the chewing

the unleashing of suppressed devilry

the tilling of crusted modesty


The churning of all that delectable desire.

Now we repose in quiet contemplation:

the marvel of this made thing 


11/19/22

Friday, November 18, 2022

poem

 Op Note XXXI

She kept coming back 

I kept operating on her

Cutting away scar  

Chiseling bowels free 

She said it made her feel better

But only for a while

Then it was back again.  

This time I had nothing left to offer

She needed words 

To heal old trauma

And I exist as a man of action

It’s hard to say no 

When there are things I think I can do 

To make you feel better 

I’ve always experienced stillness

As a form of failure 

If there was nothing to do

How would she ever heal?

But I’m bereft of ideas now

I’ve run out of tools

The only thing I could do

Was to tell her what she felt was real


11/18/22

Sunday, November 13, 2022

poem

 The Prince and the Pea

It’s clear now I’ll have to carry this thing 

to my grave no matter how much it drags me down

How could something so small be so heavy?

I cant put it on a shelf or ask you to hold it

It has infiltrated too deep, 

caged in my chest

a stone in my shoe

a stone in my shoe 

embedded in bone.


I just know I can't let it go.

Can’t chuck it over a  cliff

without the rest of me following.

It’s a dead weight in the center of my being,

the crucial concentrated ballast,

I’m reluctant to admit,

tethering me to this poor gray world 


I feel it boring into me wherever I lie

no matter how many mattresses

I stack behind my back.

What would I do if I didn't feel it anymore?

How much distance would it take?


If I get too close 

I melt right into it

and then nothing else matters

which can be tempting 

but who would ever notice?


I want to take it out and look at it

cradle it, spend quality time with it

leave just a shell behind that smiles

and says thank you very much

says good morning says have a nice day 

shows up for work grins and bears it

tucks it away when the wind starts to gust


When I die it will be

all that remains of me

like the charred keys and rings 

and gold fillings amongst the ash 

after a house burns down

after any small genocide  


I’ll be gone before

I realize it holds

everything worth counting

that I was merely the empty 

space in which it chose to exist 


When you find yourself in 

a situation like this 

one of two things happens:

It either expands into an entire universe

more joyously real than anything you thought you deserved 

or, thwarted, it collapses unused 

into an infinite density

that the afflicted must carry

that the afflicted must carry

one foot in front of the other 

step after agonizing step


11/13/22