How to dance

Always the world tilts dangerously
toward the brink, begging only
a finger’s nudge
–all it would take—
deftly moving aside
at the last moment
like a taiji master

a dance so subtle it fools
no one and everyone alike

the world does not end
does not even refuse to end
but continues out of indifference

–Wait – you say – it ended for me
and perhaps you – and I say
no, we are still here
even as we dispute the very
fact of existence, proof, you see,
of our errors

Dark natter

We’ve lost the will to listen,
instead expressing and expressing
without end, without impression
as if we were generators and not motors,

as if beams of reality flowed
brainless and wantless
toward – what? Tomorrow?
There is no tomorrow,

today only, in a false succession
of todays. How can there be
expression, alone and only?
There must first be an emptiness,

gradually filled with the stuff of galaxies,
or more remote still, of giant gas clouds
or invisible matter, so dark.

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.

Notes for the photographer

Don’t push too hard for fidelity
because looking at a photograph
you really have no idea
what it felt like to be standing
just this side of that sky,
feet in the mud, those foot-sized
bricks framing your heart.

Avoid the light in polar places
and try to catch the drip, drip, drip
of reality disappearing just off-camera,
those eyes aged into history
while no one was looking.

When you dip roses, even roses
into the frail cold of liquid nitrogen,
“J’accuse!” they shout.
“M’amuse!” we shout back,
sometimes in anguish, sometimes despair,
as they lie shattered around us.