finish your phrase: a temporary condition



Friday, April 04, 2003
you've had enough... standing up... against

these surfaces of smoke and feathers...

call us to the moment... we'll arrive

with greased lips and somnambulant whiskers

then tell us where to place ourselves

so the sun can dance around our funny parts

everyone here gets paid the same...

have a good time



rain intensifies pushing down
heartily like everything
you ever wanted
then you notice - turning
slowly around to the right -
back stiff neck stiff -
tiny - a dry old flying insect -
smaller than a common housefly
so stuck to the window ridge
it will not budge
when you blow -
then turn
around and write
"rain intensifies" - imagine
a cat beneath a bed
and how time leaps away
you were young just the other day
- excuse me - what's this -
willful - common willfulness - here
where there had been only - mostly -
passive upheavals burps and gasses
now you've got plain speaking - old
american sense you betcha - rain
suddenly silent not falling -
just like that


Thursday, April 03, 2003
zero has enough to do... with all these kind

faces searching through the trouble bins...

you'd think a girl might remember her father

who stuffed owls seventeen years for her...

that she might finally have a chance at some

dignity... nothing comes of it though... never



no muffled talk, fragments
of phrases, linked
without logical links,
strung
together in obscurities
supposed to reflect
density: it's
a wall
to obscure emptiness, the
talk of a posing man who
must talk
but who has nothing to
say...

A. R. Ammons from Tape for the Turn of the Year (1965)

only a matter of time... he knew me

forty years back... knew where i was headed

and pinned me while i was still a kid...

this poet-prophet understood... there's

only three or four ways to be a person...

one of them is authentic... the others

all posing... then i say... no...

this project was never about that... true

i have nothing to say... true...

here's a hollow man... head filled with...

fear... that's all it was... forty years back

and now... habitual... talking to self

because there's nothing else to do...

but still

the language falls out around my feet...

shouldn't i pick it up... must i wait for

it to rot... for rain to flush it... let it

drop out and away from our public spaces

... the dust we shed...

where does this bad breath go...

once muttered... into

the gutters... forget it...

that's one way... but

logic lingers in the shade... don't it...

every word stands beside its own shadow...

even the useless ones... what if

a fellow chooses to stand with them

away from the sun... for awhile...

you would blame him... of course... we all would...

if he stayed too long... if he pretended

too much... we'd say...

there's something wrong with him...

what is he afraid of... why doesn't he say

what he means... but he doesn't mean

anything... he has chosen the path of not meaning

because... the pale roses of not meaning

have no thorns... on the outer stem...

you cannot say anything about them...

he pricks his tiny heart all the same

... it wasn't a feeling... just a slow

steady rain of language...a drizzle

of unbelted possibilities... new enough...

still falling... here and here and here



Wednesday, April 02, 2003
coughing up a gray foam... another ocean demands

our precious attention... impetuous child at dawn...

no... really... extend your right arm and whisper

these words... defiant as cork... resolute as breath

we've come looking for stronger blues... and have found

it struggling against night willies... stone pulse

a sameness... called his name... called him home

from the terrible shuddering leaf... the sky... light



i told you this would not be acceptable... you know

we would have settled for less than you finally paid...

and still the air... suffers the breeze... the birds...

another morning cancels all its debts...

and swings us out... into a still... round... day

then you'll understand... my symbolic impatience



stand away from the screen... they hold her picture up

expecting him to... betray himself... an emotion settles

bets against the fractured machine... everyone wants

to dance here... but money grieves... so give it...

give it over... give it up... look for your new gods

in the paper... smiling like panthers... on the moon



Tuesday, April 01, 2003
a cinderella piece just before the bell tolls

for who has not heard it just before a minor

explosion... no one was killed... but three

fingers will never be the same... a sad

late victorian moment... a pose... and quiet

hallways... no one has remembered to come

today... but if they had there would be complaints



why is everyone smarter than i am... more

succesful... not everyone, of course, is...

this is an emotional hyperbole useful in

childhood and adolescence... as a bag

is useful for a certain kind of thing... but

not so useful for another kind... why

is everyone so much more capable than i



without the indicated font... this looks like

something a boy designed at school...

and dropped on the way home... there is mud...

still... someone loves him enough

to show it around... for neighbors and aunts

need continual reassurance... that this boy

may yet become "a superior man of modesty and merit"



cartouche... a sneeze appears and then...

remains... moustache... upend the cat

decipher the fiber code... which strand

suggests a glance not "brought to completion"

but hung... indeterminate... in heart's air

woven like socks by machines... in

the last of the anonymous factories



Monday, March 31, 2003
ok... you lose... some tiny particles have escaped...

she reminds you about gender... pink rabbits...

bright red birds... make a living at the golf course...

washing cars... where is your future? it is so

uncertain... out of the blue... i've been with you

five or six weeks... and you have changed... your

teeth are brighter... like oranges on a clear blue day

she comes bouncing through the hedge... a bass drum

in her arms... ready for the armed forces... the service

is terrible... no one works for us anymore... little

lost ones... this guy in philadelphia pushes too hard...

a sense of entitlement... as each bureaucrat stumbles



two horses on a green slope... a white one... a black one

these roads dip and curve into rickety lawns... old rusted

farm implements... no rutabaga... but plenty of trees

stuck in the earth like... sticks a kid in the mud might use to build

a tiny fort... dead squirrel... then when the back wheel struck

that curious turtle in the road... head up and out... dead center on the crown...

and we felt the click of his shell against the car metal...

we sensed it was time to come home



Sunday, March 30, 2003
television noise through the wall... baritone... serious sports or serious war voice all the same... some winning and losing some killing to do... the most important things says the voice... the voice of the man a no nonsense voice... voice of a man who does not read poetry has never read poetry.. well read it once but hated it and felt... well... less sure of himself... as a man and so he put it down and turned on the television where he heard this voice so reassuring and certain and he went out for a walk and took a few deep breaths and felt the muscles in his legs tense and grow strong and he ran and ran himself into silence toward that voice in himself stong and reassuring... a man again


Saturday, March 29, 2003
stepped onto a furious path... and regretted it

long enough to unbury his victims... those pages

of small paper... that ink... what had he been thinking

when he wrote: i knew you knew it was over

you knew there was nowhere to go... it was feeling

not thinking... but still... in between... he had to consider

each twitch of his hand... some act of contrition...

beg pardon... for this light... this day in his eyes



no... you weren't trying too hard

to be poetic... the room was cold and empty enough...

someone left a plastic coffee cup under their chair...

a boy stood leaning by the door... your silence

was hard enough... so we laughed... even when you spoke



somebody said the world is strange... so

let's bind up all our pieces... and establish

an alliance with these objects... not made by hand

but generated by heat and force beyond our ken...

then... let's squirm and hiss our way across

the blooming plains of history and imagination...

transparent threads of light... odd beacons across the rocks



set this small shimmer of light... an elliptical blotch...

on a path across the wall... sliding with the earth...

across white plaster... slow enough to set a patch of heat...

here... and here... that if you put your lips to it

a wall might... be kiss enough... in that moment



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