Prayer Wheel

God keep us from the Gun Sight

Gun Sight keep us from Man

Man keep us from Solitude

Solitude keep us from the Enemy

Enemy keep us from Apathy

Apathy keep us from Fear

Fear keep us from Questions

Questions keep us from Wonder

Wonder keep us from Sleep

Sleep keep us from Life

Life keep us from God



Variations on the Outdoors


Can you feel the steady steps

Stone in their age

Preserved by the yellowed wall?

A poisonous rust drips down

From the black railing.


Tree stands tall-strong

A contradiction of senses

Graybeard for little crawling things

Wild green tresses, primal, savage

Skin as hard as shame

I will grow in its shadow.


Smoke, you are bluefaced

Drowning in backdrop

Pale and grasping at the trace of a trace

Eating yourself to remember.

Swim harder.


"I am a monument," said the rock

"My noble and glacial gray

My supple crenellations

My crumbling foundation

Are a testament."

"Look past yourself," said Edward Bates

"The flowers are dying."




It's as if the General cried "S.P.Q.R!"

and jammed his standard into an artificial rock

Triumphant, sudden, and plastique

The flag is impressive

Eagle with majestic wings spread

Majestic letters adorning majestic lavender fabric

Caesar's feline face, majestically framed

One eye on the field of majestic carnage

I picked it up and looked closer.

The eagle is fat with age, lurching on his perch

Where gold leaf snakes twist and twine.

The fabric is faded, the letters too

And many are ignorant of their meaning.

Caesar's face sags like melting wax

Like a dented penny, bleeding rust...

I want to slap him and shout

"Turn around! Your empire is burning!"

I tried to remember the pastels and glue bottles of long ago

The monuments of cardboard and pasta shells

Quickly consigned to garbage.

That is where this distant victory belongs

Arrogant, and childish, and forgotten, and fragile,

And small.

Do Not Repeat This

He speaks, beard flashing red, makes me wonder, what should I say? How do I write right, right? No one can come to you or me and just dive, just swim, into a pool of clear silver thoughts like a pensive soul and create ripples. Such things are unheard of, unseen unfelt untouched untasted yet not understood, except by those who wisely wind us up, ticking like faulty crumbling toy soldiers to walk clockwork towards the living room fireplace where nothing but ash awaits. Life is like that, constantly moving with no purpose beyond purposefully slow steps towards an oncoming car or train or speeding bullet or falling shoe left by someone who has carelessly thrown it across the room. I wonder what this has to do with a red beard and think that maybe it doesn't, maybe it like everything else just patiently walks on the carpet of polyester and dozing dreams, approaching the horizon but never quite reaching it, like a ship moving backwards, pulling backwards with the tide towards a bottle that will trap it and save it forever, for some collector to pick and poke and appraise. How would the crew of such a ship feel, being immortalized in a clear tranquil prison monument for all the collector's friends to admire, acquaintances to impress, enemies to envy. Would they feel how we feel everyday, is that all life is, just messages messages messages to people we'll never meet who don't know how to speak in tongues of thought like the rest of us, is that what bottles were made for, to send such dreams away to be locked up and forgotten? Now I see a bottle sitting next to the toy soldiers that approach their afterlife (which of course does not appear so to them but to their creator) and the bottle is empty but for a few drops of watery milk, and dust, and a pale black spider. The bottle is empty, and the ship has been eaten, and the crew are drowned in beverage juice, but the dream is nowhere to be found--so where did it go? Maybe the maker of the toy soldiers discovered it at the bottom of his drink, and is ruminating over it and dissecting it, and needs to understand it to understand himself. And maybe he will take it to his neighbor the bottle collector, and advise him to "be more careful next time," and the collector, instead of putting it back in with an unfriendly unalike unthinking ship and crew, puts it in a silver goblet next to his bed and saves it for later. And maybe the toymaker returns to his house, and thinks about whether the bottle of memories was half empty or quarter empty or completely full of his meaning for being, and remembers the face of his neighbor, and oh-so-carefully plucks each toy soldier off of the carpet march to be placed on a shelf. For even toymakers need friends, I think. And maybe he happens to have a red beard, and tells us to write, write like your hand is falling off and your mind is a waterfall and thought flow upward like migrating salmon, trying to escape from the paper and pen to the bottle in your head where they will be safe. Or maybe I am optimistic and maybe I am naive and idealistic and maybe such things do not work that way according to the laws of poetry, god, and the universe. Maybe I am wrong, but also maybe I am unsure. That would be a good place to end, "unsure," compromising, foolish, aesthetic, intellectual, humble, bare, fragmented.

The Invention of Language

Imagine the surprise when

On a sweltering boiling scorching roiling afternoon 

Much like the gates to a prehistoric hell

A man

Hunched from his labors

Dripping rivulets into the dust

Approached his brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, wives, children

To say (in his own fashion)