The poet as scold

I do read your work, telling me
to be a decent sort, which politician
to love, which to despise,
how one kind of suffering
is better than another, or one
rude remark worse than another.
The ponderance presses relentlessly,
huge pendulous images of right thinking,
until I no longer feel I own my own
uncertainty, that my heart can so much as
break without first checking your litany.
Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.
Now I must be on my way or miss
the chance to do it again.

Conversation in the time of paranoia

“There’s no time,” she said,
“Any moment now will be
the too-late moment.”

“Can’t we tell
ahead of time?” I said.

“Don’t be an idiot,” she said

“Well,” I said, “that certainly
narrows down the possibilities,
with idiot ruled out.”

“Now you’re just being a jerk.”

“What, that’s not allowed either?”

Coffee

I sit at a table riddled with worm holes,
As manufactured as the chained and slashed
Surface on which I write, burn marks
Sealed in polyurethane gloss, all for

A borrowed twilight, an impermanence
Enshrined for eternity, or as near it
As artifice can come, fuzz-box guitar
Scratching through the conditioned air.

Outside, the latest mercury vapor lamps
Dressed up gassy, the rhythmic flicker
Punctuating the entrance, everywhere
Authenticity for sale, at a premium.

I examine my coffee, dubiously.