Gnawing

Understanding is alright
as far as prisons go, though

not understanding is better
than misunderstanding.

One foot follows the other.
Once movement is begun

it is difficult to stop,
hence, the strange treasure,

the halting dissonance of
“I don’t know.”


Knowing things obviously is fine and necessary. The insight of the East is that attachment to knowledge as the vehicle of truth is an error. We gnaw at what we know. We can never leave well enough alone. Is truth something that would submit to such nonsense? Consensus maybe, but consensus is just an agreement to stop arguing. To stop gnawing.

Photo: my old bird-feeder, nay rat-feeder.

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Still Life

that still life painting
in the hallway irks me a little
with its confidence, its sense

of fulfillment, its dubious claim
that things can outrun the madness
and simply come to rest

on the wall next to the thermostat
the attic folding-stairs pull cord
dangles before it, a record of

movements court-martialed to a halt
illumination caught in the act
all brushed to a standstill, aloof

colors like subway strangers, everything
composed with a brushy carelessness
fronting a thumb-bumbled whimsy

of basket spills, lemons, tangerines
rolling all over the place, though somehow
settling to, actors in their places

staged in a frame, of the golden ratio
like a postcard from your cultured aunt
who’s accidents, even, seem a little elegant


The first six lines are lifted (and modified) from my piece ‘it’s still here’.

Buying Garlic

I don’t believe in vampires.
I don’t believe in garlic
either: I mean how
wonderful it is.
It’s unbelievable!
Then, the complete absence
of vampires, I suppose
should not be discounted.
Don’t be ungrateful.
Embrace your good fortune
as it comes, but do
buy garlic.

Fine Print

you mark me strange
and I don’t think I like you
but you’re not the mast
on this foundering ship

tightly lashed to nothing
I plunge to depths, or mutiny
it’s nothing to you

and it’s in the fine print
of my public face
that I reserve the right
to stow away the freshest
of what sanity remains

for later, for someone else

Bawdy Weather

a carnal hungry chilly breeze
blows down the lane do what it please
cold fingers creepy up my blouse

and down my panties behind the house
trump my ta-tas he grope my dinkies
lickity split up and down my pinkies

I say weatherman! make it stop!
he say what girl, I ain’t no cop
I ask him isn’t it your duty?

he say “girl don’t you shake no booty
arctic harveys will blow on down
to pinch your cheeks and run your town”

I called that boy a punk and left
to find my sisters, all bereft
we got together and called the news

fuck you, weather: go sing the blues

Bonehead

boxer shorts, a warm night
for all the stink of me
wearing yesterday’s shirt
with my little fan running

call to bare knuckles
formed to shape angry thoughts
in the shadow of all kindness
surely bestowed saintly on a fool

who turns proud, pacing, grinding
nibbling, nips dark in the brain silo
bonehead cache of saids and dids

the beacon of remembered slights
steering the someday ships
straight into the rocks

I ask myself: did you see that?

Lake After Lake

a lake is just a lake
lakeness is the burden
you carry from lake to lake

(man with a floppy hat
covered in fishing lures
—what will he do next?)

so when you see a lake
you don’t really see a lake
you see lakeness and then say “lake”

(launch the row boat
see the lily pads hoola dance
in its wake)

lakes are empty of lakeness
they’re not even really lakes
they’re just “that”

(a child points and says “that”
it could be anything
—a bullfrog maybe?)