“There’s nothing you wish for that won’t be yours
if you stay alive.” --Beowulf
Winter has arrived and the wind cuts through
the parking lot under the el in the Bronx,
streets stretch out in their directions, events
in their mere chronology have no relation.
Old friends face certain dissolution
with perplexity, comity and humor,
look with gay eyes on their future
in a forest or a city, someplace.
Snow outside, despair inside. Homelessness.
Raccoon tracks cross the soul. Prostatectomy.
Winter mix. Don’t relax. The difficult
dangerous season when weak creatures die
and the strong barely survive. Leave me alone
with autumn, an autumn like last autumn.
Don’t stand around my bed, I won’t be in it.
Jack’s in jail. His panic attacks are like
an AI on automatic pilot
who wants to live, just like the rest of us
under the eye of eternity or
running in new snow, loving that feeling.
Some people go dancing in fishnet stockings.
Effortless mastery, success without practice.
Fractals without chemistry. Do the small
things first, clean the house and bless the guests.
Sick of Krshna, sick of salad, sick of self.
Sick of meditation. As I lay dying
the full moon’s rising. My existence
is indivisible from the wry Creator’s.
I like the old Rhymer, his smile resplendent.
It’s Death, not the Jewish king, in your rose garden.
I ply my arts all day alone. All I have
is all I do not know. The past isn’t dead
it never even happened. Learn the changes
then forget them. Keep on learning and re-
learning them. Down the steep and icy trail
through hail and storm. Take into eternity
my hail and farewell. We’re living in the
Anthropocene. Indestructible garbage.
Bulldozed landscape. Big Brother, dead father.
***** of the tiger. Getting thought to twitch
the prosthetic. Mischievous, malevolent,
militant thistles. Or just plain polite
Americans, afraid to get shot.
Bump bump bump down the igneous rocks of life,
take the boulders two at a time down.
Old-timers bagging groceries, low social
security for the security guard.
Situps, pushups, fix yr brakes, fix yr leaks.
I know what’s gonna happen before it happens.
Polar bear mugs wino exhausted by that earlier,
irritating, constant need to survive.
Surrounded by history, neither seen nor heard
from again. And a deaf mute in a pear tree.
If it’s human, nothing’s wasted. Pasted
into a big wet kiss or posted
on the internet. Stolen from the pockets
of the dead, burgled from living memory.
Most art is dispensable, ***** and *****,
vaginal lubrication, prostate enlargement,
the unknown, anonymous man named me.
I’ve been wrong before and I may be wrong now.
Things fall apart. Or maybe not. Maybe
it’ll all hold together 10,000 years more
after all we’ve observed a galaxy born
13 billion years ago, a faint red blur,
and microbe partnerships on the ocean floor.
The good life’s all around us smiling
girls on bicycles, dogs on leashes,
equality is mandatory.
Sweet solitude and privacy, quiet
sitting spot, write a little, read a lot.
Tip generously, gratuitously,
like good luck. Haircut, cabride, dinnerout,
to eat a continent is not so strange.
Does Jack even exist? I doubt it but
the class of transformations that could happen
spontaneously in the absence of knowledge
is negligibly small compared with the class
that could be effected artificially by
intelligent beings, aliens in the bleachers.
Japanese knotweed also known as kudzu.
The Chinese navy also known as t’ai chi.
Water shortages. War and wildfire.
What you’re scared of and what you love. Contracts
and deliverables. Hate speech, fate.
Humor or ardor, I can’t decide.
Dad’s steel-toed boots. Leaves, flowers, fruits.
Things are said, mistakes are made. I’m driving
pontificating on geopolitics
when an archangel flies into the windshield!
Lost my timepiece, lost my metronome.
Well, music is a manufactured crisis.
Caloric restrictions, control your addictions,
desire to be famous, propensity for violence.
The profusion of species contents me.
Wilderness comes back strong as cactuses,
chestnuts, coral. No more missile crises.
Eat less, an empty belly’s holy.
Horselum, bridelum, ridelum,
into the fray! World order—not my problem.
Only meditation can save your soul,
should there be such a thing. There are actual people
half woman half man running past me
and dream people in movies half language
half light. Or they lie under polished stones
embossed with actual photos of themselves.
Learning who you actually are is difficult
as sitting still 10 minutes w/o a thought or want.
To get lucky you gotta be careful first.
Knowledge of death without dying =
early retirement. Counting your blessings,
a healthy activity. No solution
to death’s finality, and such a blessing
awaits me, too. If you’re suicidal
they call the cops. The audience is full of glee.
Watres pypyng hoot. Chinese characters. Quantum guesses.
Most failures, and most successes, are in our future.
I embrace wild roots and run through streets
with arm around my girl. Inmate #427443.
Poetry and surgery—they go together
like a horse and buggy. Cheerful as a flock
of chickadees. Looking for a lost horse,
I hear Appalachian Spring!
Look one way, from another come the heart’s
missed beats. Much better to look slowly,
labor for the success and happiness
of others, even the old and frayed.
Look it up. There is no death, just perfect rest.
Look more closely. It will be gone in a few days!
First entertain, then enlighten if you can.
Is it stress? Yes. Tired of death? It’s what it is.
Let’s play sports, have ***, live a wonderful life,
give generously. If you see a hawk on a bough
at field’s edge beyond the corner you should have
turned, maybe it’s a sign to go on, alone.
No body, no soul. No mirror, no black hole.
No mission, no hero. No applause, no noise.
No experience, no nonsense. If words can
be arranged in any order can they be
of any use in foreign policy?
Disappointed, didn’t get what was wanted.
Forget me not, is that all I want?
A catbird account, a mockingbird account
and an owl account. Then, and only then,
nothing’s missing and nothing’s left over.
Jail or zen mountain monastery
hiphop artist hypnotist bebop trumpeter
unknown soldier black bear bad bladder
ice cold beer poker player wry Creator.
If not one way, then another. Otherwise
give me your 5-10 best hiphop artists. Can
they take the sting out of life like bluegrass, jazz?
Mimics, woodpeckers, sing-songers, hawks,
chippers and trillers, whistlers, name-sayers,
thrushes, owls and a dove, high pitchers,
wood warblers and a word-warbling wren.
We have hope that everyone alive is
essential, consequential. The commonplace
and everyday is sanctified. Nothing else
special need be done but stay alive.
Don’t lose passport, don’t be late to airport.
Insects are pollinators, insects are us.
Romance without finance is a nuisance.
November, however, is sweet, sunshine
through bare trees, dry brown leaves companionably
visiting among the dead. When middle school lets out
at the periapsis of Earth’s orbit
that’s the face of joy. Each leaf out and Jack
in his boxers. If you run over a chipmunk,
a groundhog or a skunk, say a short prayer.
One can’t help being here, queynt.
I live in a state so blue there’s nothing I can do
to change man’s trajectory and if I could
what angle of re-entry or ascent
would I choose? Grace is what we get
no matter what. Come the tired end of day
Jack thinks why not waste time watching tv
but the next day he has a hangover
like Ernest Hemingway or **** Jagger.
Your soul is immortal. It exists outside
of time. It has no beginning and no end.
If you cannot accept this, forget it all,
do not even begin. It all goes into
the same church service and comes out babbling
for God to appear. The shorter the service
the better, less passion, more resistance. Joy
may outlast the holocaust. Get it while it lasts.
The material world is reality, my friend.
Reality is not always what we’re after.
I like Jack’s confidence, that working the problem
will result in better outcomes than guessing.
Confidence is the feeling you have
before you understand the situation.
A hawk hunting or just floating waiting
for inspiration, a heron rowing east,
an owl’s quiet hoot even simpler than
the pentatonic bamboo flute.
What’s not to like? Ice cream, yogurt, profit, tofu.
Mosquitoes this summer are relentless,
heat and humidity, merciless.
Ice will ice those little *******.
Killing time before it kills me. Ha ha.
Whatever forever. Poetry is plumbing
your unhappiness habit until you reach joy.
As I think of things to do I do them.
Thing by thing I get things done. I think
that’s how my father and his father did things, too.
“Away up high in the Sierry Petes
where the yeller pines grow tall, Ol’ Sandy Bob
an’ Buster Jig had a rodeer camp last fall.”
It is the older man’s responsibility
to protect, not as a hard-charging archangel,
Jack’s joints couldn’t stand it, or hero
but as a rational participant,
cool, caring and completely zeroed in.
Culture or religion is an answer to
the problem of what to do and why do it
when your cancer makes poetry from
losing the argument with yourself.
To die spiritually in the hot sun
and the body go on climbing, haunted,
hunted, nature’s intelligent partner.
People are the element I live in, or else.
Call for the elevator. Wait for the el.
Snow on the Sonoran, each saguaro
wearing a white yarmulke. Creosote
smell as snow melts, ocotillo buds out.
Man needs help from every creature born.
The blackbird contains death but it’s bigger than death.
It’s more like God but an ironical god.
Smaller and funnier than God, impossible
to regard directly, gotta look sideways,
aim binoculars left, right, up, down—
missing every time. There’s nothing you wish for
that won’t be yours if you stay alive.