Rustlers

I wonder what it is
that the biosphere intends
when this happens: twins

then I realize
as I butter my toast
that nature, motherly, stern
she intends nothing at all
at most

no agenda, but
churn and do, and redo
with a twist and like
the chop and pan-rattle
of us rustlers in the kitchen

she’s up and at’em
before a morning thought
can get his shoes on

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Acacia

The hardwoods sent their roots
down into the museum below
into the vaults beneath the leaf mat
where the first sounds, stellar echoes
muffled under perfect black loam
formed the aboriginal musicale

Before a cutter can say “fall”
your chambered body, your neck
before the luthier said “shape”
still hidden in the mists

On mountainside, in the valley
the poison dart frogs meeping
in a driving rain, giant Stag Horns
under impossible vine-laced canopy

The rain forest written in your
rufous stained, long grained face
clutched by hooters and hollers
improvising drunken solos, the babel
of every-skin merry players, roof beam
rackets, the shoe-scuffed dance floors
of us, the throngs, and giddy songs

Slap-strumming pedal to the metal
or finger pecked, string bending
trance shattering crescendos, all from
such a stoic, quiet-seeming wood
born of the life-oozing hum
and decibel of ancient anterooms
long before the chainsaws

Then sometime after, the cover bands
of coping saws and chisels played
familiar jig with clamp and glue
then catgut, me, and you

~

(an affectionate nod to my favorite ukulele
and well-made stringed instruments in general)

Fortune on the Ropes


(best heard in the voice of Tom Waits)

The mother of all hopes, say why
It is the hope that you won’t die

All your other little hopes
And fears of fortune on the ropes

Are you and mama’s little babies
Raised on could be, might be, maybes

Small, defenseless, toddler hope
Together you, in patches, cope

Do not these puny hopes obscure
The big one? Never speak it, sir

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.

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

Texanah

in the North where
the beauty wears magnificent trees
and glacial rock sculptures
they still have to borrow sky
from Texas, Texas is nine parts sky
and blanketing above, that
cloud-boil, above the cities too
where the deer trails are paved
is not a place, not kept, not held, no vault
an Olympic tangle of mind and air
roads chalkline straight
tide pools French-curve shallow
horizon a dazzling shaft of lightsaber
and skylight so thick
you could build a house on it
and think about retiring