No Matter How Hard (I Try)

I try to arrange it
and order it
but it just keeps exploding over
and over; blowing out and breathing in,
a candle coming back to life,
shedding light onto things, onto the plainness of everything –
elevating ordinariness, expanding the borders of exactly what
you thought you knew, doing the
opposite of revelation; releasing the beauty of un-
exceeded expectations,
Unwalled consciousness,
Unexcepted lingerings,
lost down the corridors of
unconstructed moments,
unbothered by time,
untouched by me or you or
any of us.
A flame that doesn’t burn, but
brightens from within, from spaces
that are actually made of light that’s
twisted together, and after some heartbreak and dropping out of college
a few times and a couple cups of coffee you all of a sudden realize
nothing’s really happening and the light’s
not coming from anywhere, it’s just
the way you’re looking at it.

September 14th, 2019

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On A Sunday

After we’ve colored in every inch of sky, named
everything in sans serif font, framed
every curve in angled narcissism, drained the blood from the veins
of our high-end martyrs, what do we have left?
How many people stick around while the credits roll,
stacks of white text flowing down a silent stage, the
no-name dramas interconnected, ill-defined, un-
impressive yet resilient, ever-present, the everyday story
of the everyman – the gaffer, the key grip, the best boy – all
present and accounted for, unrehearsed –
thankfully unrhymed –
satisfyingly slipshod, blurry, beautiful in ways that come out of nowhere, like
hope bubbling up from busted earth, like rain drops escaping from rusted aluminum
like our best intentions gone horribly wrong
like anecdotes leading to no actual conclusion
like meaningless metaphors spilling out into an icy aether
or someone touching your neck after they’ve just come in
from the cold
Stacks of insight we have no idea what to do with,
abundant, unwieldy, undone by the magnitude of our knowing
Polyethylene cups spilling over with majestic trivialities worthy of myth, lined up
like palm trees along our sun-drenched boulevards,
saturated with the crystalline crash of neon waves
breaking, beating, harmonizing along time-lit shores,
flattened out in unromatic handheld shots that end up stuck
to unassuming refrigerators
Who hangs around after the lights have gone up?
Who sweeps away the unconsumed kernels? Removes
the high-res wrappers stuck to the floor?
Makes sure our mess find its way to bins
assigned to hold the sum of our enchanted refuse?
They will marvel, no doubt, at the miracles
we’ve left behind: our sport, our leisure, most of all
our religion. This is what gods do, after all –
stepping over the cracks, cropping clutter from the
frame, auto-focusing on a Sunday.

Sestina

Lazy light scatters across the sky,

through the branches and their spreading leaves;

A thoughtless echo, bent to a reverberating cry,

dares its way through willful shadow.

Now and then the dust remembers

what was once taken so easily for granted,

 

while an unsung witness, questioning why, granted

no answers from a pitiless sky,

granted no haven from all she remembers

of lives left behind in mad rushes through doors, leaves

the stillness of another kind, another shadow

mixed with hers, assorted doubts entangled in their dawn and her promise not to cry.

 

Delicately stepping around twilit shards whose reflections cry

for recognition, a secret stowed in hazy depths, holding its breath until granted

cherished release, caresses the air in a split-second embrace before evaporating back into shadow.

What’s amazing is how the floor can look like a sky

made out of things you’ve dropped, obscured by leaves

of discarded clothes and inconveniences no one remembers.

 

But who wants to think about that? Especially if no one remembers

anyway. That’s all in the past. No reason to cry

about it, no reason to dwell on orange and brown leaves

of meaningless descent, of blue-green wishes never granted,

of panoramic vistas taped to the sky,

or anything, really, when you know it all eventually fades into shadow.

 

Maybe there’s a place, though, where unrest becomes its own shadow,

where all those things we’ve dropped align, where someone remembers

why the keys are on the floor, why the leaves are on the ground and not the sky,

why our memories go backward instead of straight ahead, why people cry

when they’re happy and when they’re not, why we’ve been granted

cherished release but continue to hold our breath, why she never says goodbye before she leaves.

 

At the back of the book, among the untouched leaves,

an appendix details what the main text left in shadow.

For those so inclined, access has been granted

to an illuminating chapter which, as the author remembers,

differs drastically from what came before, a far cry

from his early work – mostly depressing, haunting, cynical stuff, filled with too many clouds and not enough sky.

Or Maybe Not

You know this is how we

get to where we are, right?

With everything being fine

All the time, understood, managed

Profiled, plentiful

Wasting perfectly good remorse on non-trivial determinations

Listening in on unheard whispers trafficking across amber lines

Judging for ourselves, wondering if truth has a face –

Frankly, I don’t think it does –

Yours and mine, we woke up in the summertime and

fell back to sleep just before the ground froze, like always

Like never

Like all the possibilities of everything bound up in a ball of

crinkled, yellowed paper

Like telephone wires buzzing contentedly underneath strings

of black birds pointed in all different directions while

clouds that look like plates sliding across glass do

their thing in the background

Like driving home – yours, not mine – seeing everything

fade into shapes of memory, scars of time

Who really wants to figure this out? I feel sorry

for them, I do

I wouldn’t have before, but now I do

Don’t you?

An epilogue in the snow, on a blue-black

night in front of a blue window, a profound mystery

that will remain a proper mystery: she said,

“I hope so.”

The Heart of Winter

This is a beautiful season because we can rest.

The cold air makes it harder to breathe – you pay attention.

Grey clouds and lack of leaves open up the sky –

And I don’t know about you, but it makes me question my life.

 

Winter light’s different, it’s cleaner somehow.

Everything is sharper, edges harsher;

The darkness blocky, still.

 

The tips of pine trees glow and the edges of icicles shimmer.

Laughter’s more sacred, takes up more space.

Longing slips between the cracks, slides along the window sills,

Reminding us it was warm before and some day will be again,

And that’s good enough for now.

Safe and Sound

do we need this? this adornment?

this electrified fencing?

the bells and whistles, amplified

reverberating throughout a carefully calculated echo chamber

chanting, conspiring, collaborating

a mesmerizing staccato crunch extracted from the stream

I had a dream that this was real-

ly happening,

that we sat next to each other

and gazed through your spotted windshield

and stopped keeping track of time

and stopped knowing anything

and stopped caring.

Back in the real world, where things actually matter

every thing keeps on going

keeps on dying, like it’s supposed to.

keeps on loving

keeps on feeling

keeps on pretending

keeps on remembering

keeps on not knowing

on and on, over and over, again and again, time after time, page after page

keeps on thinking

keeps on wanting

keeps on being what it is instead of what it should be

what we want it to be

what we need it to be

until it can’t.

March 8, 2017

On Futility

words of wisdom, to be sure

chopped up and spilled out across a wrinkled canvas

fractured somethings assembled – piece by piece – into

jagged, wounded words aligned along a page

chains of what is, what was

what will never be.

somedays, somehows

adding up to nothing

“Go on and tell me that you’re wrong”

there’s nothing really left to say, only looks left to exchange

and topics to dance around

what else could we have hoped for?

good luck counting to forever

 

march 3, 2017