Obligato

you ask why I don’t write a poem
about what’s coming down all around
us as we speak

what’s to say about a life in the wilderness?

but it’s not like I haven’t tried god knows I’ve given it
all I had, spent my quota of midnights
so many poems fluttering in the blowback
utterly panicked
rhymes scattered like shell casings
meter cleft in the borning
aground on the shoals of the dead

wanderers always think they have a home
beyond the vapor trail but you and I,
my weeping friend, know we’re already there
the time has come, my dear, for reckoning

‘tis the past and not the future beckoning
and so in this hour of false redemption
we offer thanks for a return
to mere abomination

Some days you look out

Some days you look out
and it might be raining,
though the sun is pouring
liquid gold over the
trees and sidewalks,

or you see a dandelion
seed parachute by and it’s
dead January and
ten below zero and you
can’t feel your fingers,

or you hear a single last
cicada still singing
desperately somewhere
in the autumn underbrush,

and you shrug because
you know tomorrow
it will all make sense,
though it won’t.

It will not be the sun
or the rain or January
or a cicada’s shrill song
that has changed,
but you.

How swiftly came the killing season

This first appeared in Exileschild 11/22/16. Strange how poetry adapts to its context.

How swiftly came the killing season
swept in from hinterlands
just when we had remarked upon
the sameness of it all.

How soon the must-not-be-named
became quotidian.
Weren’t we standing there,
thinking how wise it was

to not raise a ruckus
about minor disturbances,
how preferable to simply
turn our backs to the foul wind?

What good will be our platitudes
tomorrow?

Between the sacred and the profane

Between the sacred and the profane
there is not a sliver of difference.
We are luminous, we are crude,
we are crudely luminous, we

spill our lives into the sharp
vessel of time without a stray
moment left behind, without
an inch of depth undisturbed,

unperturbed, benighted as a breeze
in Hell, which, if we only knew it,
is Heaven held upside down to
let us trickle into new carnation.

Bah! I’m tired of this twaddle
of infinite souls to the manor
of eternity borne. The least is the best
of us, and the grandest star in the cosmos

destroys itself for our amusement.
The joke is that we are made of it.

Once I saw Ozymandias

There, in a glass case
in the Cairo Museum
lay Rameses II, who imagined
that all who looked upon
his works would despair.

Desiccated, a shrunken pith
of a man, he reminded me
of nothing else but
the last slab of salted cod
at the closing of the market,
unsold.

Despair, indeed, my king,
but not the way you imagined.