Wednesday, December 31, 2008

without buildings

Momentary Architectures

an underwater flower swaying beneath the wake

a long-dried leaf tumbling atop a snowdrift

the gathering storm clouds looming over treetops

the delicate romance
of momentary architectures
in which i often linger

photos by a.c. nagl

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


An Armor Of Our Own

all harm ends here

safe beside
safe inside

pull the blankets close
beneath our chins
and hide another hundred years

all harm ends here

photo by a.c. nagl

A Sun Unhinged

the name of a person you once knew,

more like a silhouette in a dimly lit room,

the light bulb going off overhead
becomes a sun unhinged,
spinning out of control
on a collision course
with your world
especially when

the name is followed by

a beat,
a breath,

a word like a sigh of blinding candescence,


, a luminaire illuminating dark corners
caching a collection of memories
covered in a thick dust, long forgotten
but one by one gaining a glow,
dotting the black space of dreams
like so many stars in a night sky,
falling like a cold chill in the absence of the sun

for Dave W.

Monday, December 29, 2008

For John McPhee

A World Away (Hermit In An Ancient Sea)

in these hills,
hidden from a world on fire,
i sit watching snow fall,
building walls around myself
with mcphee's geology

that says,
this used to be a great ancient sea,
which i believe,

cloistered here, a world away,
as a wave of flush from this red wine
washes over me, flooding this biology,
extinguishing the flames beyond these hills
even if only for this brief moment in time

living out loud

Sounding Off In A Vacuum

i threw a brick through a window,
it didn't make a sound,
but as you heard i'm still picking up the pieces

i threw a wrench into a situation,
it didn't make a sound,
but the silence that followed is almost deafening

i threw a rock inside a glass house,
it didn't make a sound,
but listen closely for the coming recriminations

like bringing a bull into a china shop,
these are the repercussions of sounding off in a vacuum

green grow the rushes grow

Green Rushes / Grey Ruins / Lush Landscapes

You threw me under the bus knowing we still had roads to travel,
Brown dirt off-the-beaten paths and broad blue highways spidering maps
Like veins coarsing beneath the skin covering a broken heart,
Left to lament the forever altered scenery surrounding us,
Green grown rushes turned to ghost grey ruins.

The blood black bruise of tire tracks across my back will fade
And I will pull myself to stand again on seemingly unsteady kildeer legs,
Brushing the dust of disillusionment from my sleeves,
Placing the crumple of a hat back upon my birdwing bandaged head,
Ready to walk this road alone, healing as miles become years,
Wounds becoming scars that time will forget but I will never
As I wander new lush landscapes alone without you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

it's no game

Second Chances

never recognizing the moments that will matter most

[a redlight run by a woman]

we put our faith in ouija boards, fate or fortune one letter at a time

[my brother in a coma, in intensive care]

like a thousand puzzle pieces that never fit to form a landscape

[by his bedside wanting just one word]

end up playing 52-pickup again and again with each others emotions

[on my knees praying]

a random spin on the board of Life where it's better to be lucky than good

[both of us, suddenly awake, decades later, a thousand miles apart]

an entire game of Scrabble where we both have only vowels

[still wanting just one word]

never recognizing the moments that might matter most

... not once, but twice

Lightning In A Bottle (As it Begins To Snow)

lightning over snow stretching across an open field,
strange days have found us, indeed,

and in their landscape the snow turn rain turn fog
beclouding what the coming months may hold

no crystal ball can say, but surely snows will return
to freeze us fast in place to the slow grey of december

until gypsy winds blow come march to stir
the bedouin spirit of our vagabond hearts

the lion to lamb a reminder of april days around the bend
and a new wandering spirit on the way

though the wanderlust of years sits still admiring this moment
where we have captured lightning in a bottle as it begins to snow

Friday, December 26, 2008

old man river

Like The River, Slowly

like the river,
in the dry of autumn,
I roll along


slow over the round of rocks beneath me,
shaped by years of swift and rush,
hardened in the harsh sun cycles of drought

not looking ahead or behind I've found
nor is this head lost in the clouds,
walking behind my own shadow for once,
leading me where I may follow

subtle and slow enough is this journey at last
to stop and step around the nest of an ovenbird

painting: Reflections of Autumn III by Connie Tom

consider the chaos

Upon Further Reflection

Consider the chaos,
Fashioned from the stagnant mud of gene pools,
Mutating from brain to blood to lung,
The muck of it slowing even the strides of Science,
As it walks freely into, while overwhelming, a room,
One already wading in the quick sands of time
Slipping through our Quaker hands,
With no divine right to crawl on all fours from the ooze
Into a cell that can never contain its divisive nature,
Splitting while spitting the black-bile, green-gill of certain consumption
Sight unseen though as obscene as the crooked smile it cracks
While shattering the illusion, along with the vanity, of our vitalogy
Reflected in a mirror image no more than a mirage,
And so upon further reflection and without reservation
We call its bluff, force its hand, take it to task,
Armed to the teeth and ready to face mortality but not before
Walking through its irradiated wildfire-floodplain-landslide wasteland
Cradling, carrying the swaddled remains of calm dignity,
Rescued from a hospital room filling with smoke bedlam and mud fathoms.

well in hand

A Scar Is Just The Sound Of A Rusting World Healing

i burned my hand

and it began healing overnight,

the red welted-white blistered palm,

read in the dark of a
psychic-tarot-fortune teller
dream seance,


a life in balance,

a world perfectly positioned
in the center of a fulcrum
held by that same burned/healing hand,

the other cupped to an ear to hear
the harmony ringing softly between
birth and death,


water smoothing shattered rocks,
snow falling on dead trees,
pianos rusting in country fields.

photo by shelley powers

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

dance the night away

To A Scottish Lilt

I dreamed I danced and danced with you,
My two clumsy feet, two sweaty palms
Remembered I was sleeping and so
I waltzed without a stutter in my step,
Never speaking, closely listening
To your breathing, unconsciously knowing
You were lying right beside me
As I bowed and you ballerina curtsied,
My hand gently slipping into yours
As we danced the night away
Side by side, slumber leading.

Christ you know it ain't easy...

Live Through This

I won't die twice.

You murdered me once
but I dragged my own skeletal frame
from a shallow dirt grave up the hill backwards,
like a Fitzcarraldo made of spit, spite and marrow,
narrowly escaping a fate worse than death,
the slow suction of life with you
like crucifixion suffocation giving way
to the exaltation of resurrection summited,
witnessed only by the golden light of a rising sun
high above and beyond the thrust of your dagger glance,
dull now with the rust of bloodshot, suicide tired
weighting all those setting suns you've spent alone
looking back counting days whose weathering winds
aged you where it matters most,
around your eyes, behind your eyes,
left blinded by your own selfish desires,
but still able to see you murdered me once.

I won't die twice.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

... just my imagination, once again...

Crush (We Will Not Be Lovers)

melt summers' swelter memory in your imagined kiss kept for a
warming my imagination through shiver winters though we have yet to
sheltered in daydreams of gravity autumns i fell for you unseen beneath
where hope springs eternal for love blossoming below the surface still

Monday, December 22, 2008

i am the cosmos

The Man In Me

end of another year,
not just any other year
but the beginning of the end of an era,
moving light years beyond myself
in search of deliverance from myself
to find the outstretched arms of the universe
reaching down from january through june, july
and on 'til now, ancient hands grasping my palms,
pulling the fabric of my being through some rip
in the tapestry of the time/space continuum,
delivering the man in me to the life
that always seemed like a dim and distant star,
leaving behind the boy, safe and sound,
within the constellations of my memory.

'tis the season

Let Us Garlands Bring

let us garlands bring,
it is the season for forgetting while remembering
forgiveness shivers outside in cold structures of silence
awaiting the warmth of breath's whispered reassurance
as soft as winter's blanket adorning snow-covered pines.

photo by a.c. nagl

Sunday, December 21, 2008

soul mining

Of Placers Found

mining the placers of this life,
found riches slipped into mud-wet pockets
though hidden reveal

the diamond in the rough of
a curled photo of maternal great grandfathers
standing in the thaw of a dakota spring,
dated 1934, the year of my mother's birth

the golden moment of
steadying her with an arm extended
across the stoop of her caned gate
ambling over the ice of yet another keystone winter

the silver lining of
the days come rain or shine
of summers in their footsteps, autumns in their shoes,
walking seasons in their shadows where i stake my claim

Thursday, December 18, 2008

whichever way the wind blows

Nothing Left For The Lions

shook from sleep in this garden,
kissed, crossed, then torn apart,
all you knew of me, 25 years,
a short lifetime like another life now,
blown as dust to a locust wind
carrying within its swarm of sound
the din of denial, the buzz of betrayal,
the lone elder tree of this new desert
stripped leafless to bare witness
to nary a Judas hung upon a rope of remorse
from limbs that cast no shade to sand
where predators late to the jackal kill lie,
licking wounds and searching for scraps,
finding nothing left for the lions

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Give 'em Enough Rope

Infinite Gist (an open letter to David Foster Wallace)

i have no respect
for giving up,

the ghost

of you

left behind something less than infinite.

surely you jest,

mock my own happiness

as I sit here in a small room,


happy in this alone, if nothing else.

happy, even when left hanging in mid-air,
waiting on a word, a phrase, a line


the most intellectually ambitious novelist of a generation's
seemingly boundless gift found finite despite it all, after all,
having stepped off his own thick tome into the infinite,
what might have been left dangling at the end of a rope

, sad i know,
but really nothing more than the gist.

image by ryan alexander

Thursday, December 11, 2008

riding the iron horse

The End Of The Line

where do we begin, where do we end?

riding the rails of this life,
the tracks curving away,


ahead of
and behind us.

iron horse hearts
plowing through
drifts of snow born sorrow
piled along the steep of a grade
we all must climb,
blocking the bend of horseshoe curves
we cannot see beyond.

the beginning of our journey becoming
a blur of motion like a locomotive
speeding through a station,

heading west into a setting sun,
over years, over miles,
passing through suspect terrain,
physical, emotional, mental,
finally arriving at a destination,
the end of the line.

our own wild horses tamed at last
and lying down beside us in Elysian fields.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

beneath blankets, of snow



slipping under sleep
beneath blankets,

of snow outside i dream
wrapped in cold comfort

knowing i will awake
to a long winter ahead.

when the days get shorter and the nights get long

Snow Globe

Hide myself beneath a beard
When winter hints of the world's slowed spin
And its days' quick retreat to sudden dark ends
With chimney smoke the only sign of life within this snow globe.

photo by mr. uhdd

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

for Charles Maxwell Anderson

Pennsy-Cali Breakdown

trees in california on fire,
their halo of sparks becoming
the swarm of lightning bugs in this yard,
if they all lit at once

compressed between the san andreas fault
and the pacific ocean

straddling the rolling western reaches
of the appalachian chain

it's no one's fault
we cannot reach each other

even with
the choked smoke signals of burning palms,
the flashed morse code of lightning bugs

Monday, December 8, 2008

heart full of rain

No Comparison To

A short film

with only sound.

Sorrow stands smoking in a doorway

above a puddling sidewalk.

Splash cabs and crying sirens, a sad opera

and the ghost of Maria Callas like fog through a window,

"Nessun confronto a,"

the insult of a man pretending to know what a woman really feels.

Another cigarette lit with the kiss of red lips,

then she steps into the rain.

painting: 'waiting in the rain' by steve hanks

ice sculpture

Freeze Frame

freeze this moment, you and i standing at the window,
my arms around your waist, the light just so along the ridge,
a little heartbeat softly slipping perfectly between us,
warming our hearts, echoing across the frozen lake.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

pilgrims' progress

Strangers In A Strange Land

There were always oceans to cross.

Blunt force waves pulling punches beneath our promise.
Gale force winds pushing palisades against our progress.

Pilgrims, you and I, we pressed on, far afield, pure of purpose
But less than puritan, looking for our own Plymouth Rock.

Strangers in a strange land, familiar through desire, through dreams,
Feet finally firm upon a beachhead, unforgiving seas over our shoulders.

There will always be oceans to cross.

two hearts beat as one

Siamese Dream

Your skin,
liquid across my bones,
a Siamese dream as we sleep,
entangled, until awaking conjoined,
closer than Chang and Eng ever were.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Ask The Dust

Ask the dust why weep this life
As we crawl toward death
Where we will wed
Our beginning to our end.

Born to the same pure waters
As Jean Baptiste waded to the waist,
Bound by the same mortal blood
A carpenter wept across a cross.

Hanging beneath this tree stand pulpit
Towering over man-made martyrdom,
Eden still surrounds an infidel
In this church not made with hands.

So bury my tears along with my body
Beneath tenderfoot apostles' feet,
Walking woods in search of answers
Never thinking to ask the dust.

Friday, December 5, 2008

noble beast unburdened

wolves, lower / brave such mists

night dawns, awakened by tribal drums,
primitive rhythms pounding across my skin, tight to begin,
loosening with the sacrificial wine warming our primal world,
dimming light reflected in the red wet wax of my eyes,
half-lit appetite for carnal knowledge of sorts,
thoughts of your flesh releasing wolves,
lower inhibitions which no longer inhabit, inhibit
this noble beast unburdened,


masked, naked, armed,

around the fire
of desire's arrival,
you suddenly secret away,
cupped in your hands,
carried off toward content,
beyond a heart of darkness,
down a river daring me
to brave such mists as this,

matrimony with only the wilderness as witness,

first born son, daughter weening me of childish ways,

passions born of struggles storied in the drums of our jungle survival.

In Memory Of Henry Gustav Molaison

More Zen Than Zen

every day was new,

especially todays,
even tomorrows.

yesterdays were,
but then became
neither new, nor old,

simply vanishing,
leaving only the moment

where there was always
a first time for everything,

the walk in the woods,
the smell of an orange,
the face of a visitor

who came
again and again and again.

a lifetime of memories blown
like dandelion seeds to the wind,
one moment at a time.

living only in the now,
more Zen than Zen.

a lifetime of moments,
like millions of matches
lit one at a time in a hurricane.

the final sulphurous spark
extinguished along with a life
only we remember.

gone but not forgotten.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

boxcars left burning

Gone Dead Train

Boxcars left burning with any and all regrets,
my new morning jacket and the book of possibility
slung over a shoulder, the smolder left to the tracks
tagging along behind me, the growl and hiss of
your love's trainwreck lost to the distance I've ambled
down this line and to my own new found whistle on the wind.

thanks to doug baker for "the jacket and the book"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Architecture Of Language

A Stone Is A Stone Is A Stone (for Gertrude Stein & Ayn Rand)

Wake the brick
told wherewithal
a stone is a stone is a stone.

Winged documentation
the other
building written.

Stuttering concrete
pictured frail
without forget.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

wax poetic

Outside The Lines

we stand atop the green hill,
the yellow sun in a blue sky
giving no hint of a world running down,
ready to sit still instead of spinning on

peach stick hands, hers in mine, mine in hers,
holding on for dear life to a day in danger
of stopping dead in its tracks

the golden rule, broken by those who made it,
we discover was made to be broken

and so
color ourselves outside the lines
in a childish attempt to escape
the consequences of growing up

Monday, December 1, 2008

dark end of the street

I Am The Night


the sun has set,
whether on blue or grey cast day,
and so, the night steps softly, timid at first,
through the unfocused light of dusk,
then, with a blink, as the eyes struggle to adjust,
the shroud, the veil, the mask,
completely across the face of the sun.


and with the drawing of the drape, comes the quiet,
the space where thoughts are free to drift as embers,
to flicker, to fade, to flit, to form, to fly in the face of,

there then gone, off then on, here then there,
fireflies outside a window, inside a mind

where voices may not follow,
their footsteps stumbling through darkness,
never finding their way to listen to, sit amidst
the sound of brush strokes, contemplated equations,
the whir of words spinning like mobiles across lobes
from left to right to left, science carnal with art
beneath sheets where Gertrude Stein and William James
pose like Picasso nudes.


when night falls
the world is un enfant de nouveau,
asleep in the infinite silence of space,
the lunar shift of tides rocking her gently from side to side.

the yawn, the sigh,
anchor and moor
in a black sea of sinking dreams and shifting starlight.


stalking a house full of halogen light,
windows opaque at last and
only hinting at the trees just beyond their frames
filled now with the black paintings of Frank Stella,
this artist-in-residence settles into the rhythms
'round midnight, jazz riff words drumming off walls,
filling fake books with poetry in motion,
emotion cutting through smoke and fears
to comfort the little boy still lost inside
nightmares lying in wait beneath beds,
behind closet doors just barely left ajar.


I am the night.

I swallow the fear, the loneliness, the depression
of the day, inconsolable, crouching in the depths
of a vampire soul blood-lusting for the dark end of the street,
to wander with wanton abandon, leaving behind the light,
rising with the moon as the sun surrenders
to my sanguinous cape spilling across the shoulders of this earth.

I am the night.


something about
out of the blue and into the black,
coming back again and again to breathe deeply
the coffee-narcotic filling this 10 x 10 room,
a seemingly suffocating proposition though air apparent,
for an heir apparent to another night of ink black bliss inhalation.


night is not murder, night is not death.

night alone watches over us,
as we sleep below its surface
navigating the depths of dreams
as disjointed and jarring
as the prose of Tender Buttons,

from which, to night, we awake, safe,

pulling the comfort of hours
still left before twilight
even closer beneath the chin.


tired eyes


the Cimmerian destination

they travel to,

leaving behind Homer, Milton,

even this nocturnal meditation

of this good night.

painting: frank stella's 'marriage of reason'