Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Hunger is nothing--
just the soft, insistent whirr of electric quiet--
until it grows into despair,
rejected, dejected,
an unhappy pup.

I have been eaten up on the inside;
I am hollow now,
and the void is a kind of hunger,
and I can no longer distinguish pleasure from pain.

These things are shades of the same color,
and all I want is light!
Blare and blaze
and burn away the grit that coats the corners.
Keep all the people away;
the beached whale will explode in the pulsing sun
and rain its guts over the city.

Each whiff of my desire is a curiosity to me.
I examine it, turning it over in my hands.
It's funny how my body works without me, so I laugh.

The breath of the others punches like a needle into my soul,
but it would not be right to stop them breathing. They are souls.
Punch, punch, punch. Snick!
Back to the left margin on the next line.

Sonnet XVII

The letter with your challenge was intact
until I tore it, deeming it unfit,
and cast it in the flames. I won’t submit
as yesterday I did. I won’t react.
Your teapot-tempest soldiers have attacked,
but victory is mine because I quit.
No matter what you take, you will not get
my forfeit. I have kept our sacred pact.

So ultimately, anything you try
to do—to lie, destroy, malign—
will force you lower in the public eye.
We laugh at all your threats; you have no spine.
I challenge you: come forth, corrupt, decry!
In the debris, my dignity is mine.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sonnet Sequence: The Question

There was a moment—single, lucid, clear—
in which I faced the dark Unknown nearby
(my feelings), far too desolate to cry
and far too terrified to quake with fear.
The door was an avoidable premiere.
I pushed it open, farewelling the sky.
The thickened closeness fell upon my eye,
the warmth, the putrid wetness on my ear.

As I descended through the filthy damp,
I heard the echoes in the moldy air,
and saw the twisted creatures who encamp,
perverse, entwined with one another there,
but handsome in the glitter from my lamp,
newborn each time I yielded to the snare.

Beyond that chamber lay a deeper force,
its purpose one that no one understood,
if evil or indifferent or good.
It was a power of uncertain source.
My bravery derived from the divorce
of life and joy, and death did as he would,
and then I did the only thing I could:
I opened up my eyes and faced Remorse.

Thus, knowing, I had nothing I could lose,
I turned my eyes into the monster's gaze.
I heard its laughter torment and accuse
and watched with interest its divine ballets;
I saw it, still a mystery, diffuse,
like mist, into a cloud of cheap clichés.

Then, in the center of an empty hall,
unwarmed and raw upon the granite floor,
I found my heart surrounded by a store
of void and impenetrable wall.
It flopped and panted, breathless to enthrall,
exhausted as a box of tusk and boar.
Not all the images I could restore
to my imagination could appall

me as did this pulsing, writhing thing,
pale gray from lack of blood, but at my back
the Question loomed and drove me with its sting
and threatened with its imminent attack
until I let it move through me and bring
me in itself and gather up my slack.

Then I, the Question, opened up that box,
the box-lid turning smoothly on its hinge,
and hefted out the tome without a cringe,
and set the weighty book upon the rocks.
The pages turned like yellow vellum blocks;
I felt the pressure change with every twinge,
alarming, like the touch of a syringe,
and welcome, like infantilizing shocks.

I found the page marked Truth, began to read,
and many fears were there, and vivid pain,
and secrets kept, and secrets lost to greed:
too much for any person to contain.
At last I saw the tangled mess recede
and found the thought I sought to ascertain.

The written word was Yes. It hovered, small,
concise, and legible, and at my stare,
it thrummed along my body like a flare
of perfect intonation through the hall.
Then I was full; I could not read the scrawl
that filled the pages (yet I was aware
of soft deceptions and a nom de guerre),
so I replaced the book within its stall.

Determined, grim, I went back to my sphere,
returned to shallow sunlight, shallow sky,
empowered as a steady pioneer,
who makes his first decision to defy
the mystery his nation calls Frontier,
intent upon his choice, and says goodbye.

I often wonder—knowing how we war,
how weak we are—if Fortune disagreed,
or whether God believes I will succeed.
I have no self-assurance anymore.
And yet I know in my own arms I bore
from frenzied insight a most perfect seed
of real honesty: a tiny creed
of softened driftwood that I rode ashore.

And thus, whatever force conspires to bruise
or sunder or obliterate my phrase
must face the resolution I refuse
to cede. As I confront the maze,
I build my confidence in what I choose
and set my mind to grimly smile at praise.

Each Little Drop of Action

Now, as then, each little drop of action
hangs suspended for examination,
still, before it plummets to my forehead,
boring, drop by drop, the Grandest Canyon.

Little drops of water make the ocean;
little grains of sand, the earth: I know this.
Little drops of action fell the Heavens,
seize the earth, and give it to Gehenna.

Now, as then, each little drop of action
hits its target with precise decision,
driven by their practical Creator.
I am frozen, powerless to act.

Sleep, Sleep

How long will he sleep?

Until the cold air washes me clean,
until the twilight fades into night?

This is what he cares for,
the simple things,
the money, the children,
and I, now as always sleepless,
am bitten and stung.

When he wakes, perhaps,
we will go somewhere.

Until then, I watch
(disgusted or hurt?)
as he sleeps,
sleeps away the twilight.

I watch and do not dare
to make a sound.

Who do I fear?

Only my own tendencies.

Why do I allow him to make me angry?

Because I enjoy it;
I like being aggrieved.

I'm a martyr with no cause to stir me.


My voice in song
is a beautiful sound--
I say this objectively,
and it is true.

Therefore, when next I wonder
what good can come of me,
remind me of this:
that I can sing.

I will sing the songs of my peers,
and they will sing my songs,
and if you are not one of us,
you will listen and not hear.

Late Afternoon

Sleep on, and do not listen
to the odes I sing. Sleep on,
and I will be my own

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I annoy you when I'm happy.
I annoy you when I'm sad,
so I wonder if the person
whom you like is really Me.

Forgive Me

Six new callouses,
a soft, tired lip,
and the neighbor's dog is just as loud
as I can ever be,
so please allow me
to go on annoying you,
because, if I don't,
I might die.
Oh, what pain there is
in existing only as a nuisance,
in learning that my soul
is made from rudeness and taboos.
If I were alone,
I couldn't bother anyone,
but I don't have the courage
to unlock that door,
so please forgive me.
I know you'd like me better
if I were gone,
so I will hide in this corner,
play as softly as I can,
and deepen the six new callouses.

Bread and Water

Bread and water:
these are the things upon which we center our lives.
They are soft or hard, clean or dirty,
and we swallow
without knowing, without wanting.
Bread and water,
maple and brass:
these are the things I allow to pass my lips.