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Form and Function

March 9th, 2006

Perhaps you have stepped on a bug–
by accident, of course, you are not the sort–
and crumpled the exoskeleton but left
the mechanical blue flame.

And perhaps you are weak of will
(or perhaps we are all quivering automata)
or perhaps compassion erred and you watched
it circle in demented rhyme.

Perhaps you couldn’t finish
what fate forged, and in the end
saw insect fantasies slow
and dreams in infrared.

And then perhaps it died
still circling, one leg
crawling on air, one leg
a Dachau Jew’s harp.

Four legs did
what four legs know best
and crawled, and crawled, and crawled, and crawled.
And stopped.

Perhaps you have met a man
at the Walgreen’s on Market Street.
He is the kind our sons beat–
the kind measured in quarters.

He won’t meet your eyes,
but he gathers your change in the valleys of his palm,
and he buys chocolate and he whispers tobacco.
And he buys chocolate. And he
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March 9th, 2006

At the ends of our streets, the stars…
—George Sterling

You stargazed down to orient since I can remember,
your saltwater Mercury on its quivering path
through submarine heavens bearing whispers from Galápagos.
Your thin theology was as unassailable as unlearned:
We were here, ece dryhten, each drifting with the whales on their Road—
without origin or terminus, always dying but without dead-ends—
we were uncreated and as we were meant to be.

You (wanderer, sea-farer, husband eternal) were Ulysses,
fleeing the Morningstar, tailing Quicksilver, tho it kill you.
We had dogs, dumpsters, sailboat-bicycles aimed ever for the sea,
never Penelope.

I am landed, now, but you are free. Camerado:
under this oak tree (tree of exceptions),
I know we could have learned it all at home,
and still have died.

Cædmon’s Hymn

March 3rd, 2006

I’ve been teaching myself Old English. I’m a lover of alliteration, and have been curious about the possibilities of Anglo-Saxon-style verse in Modern English. This is a draft translation of the oldest extant poem in our language:

Now should we hail     Heaven's realm's guard,
the Measurer's might,     and His mind's thought:
the work of the Old Man.     For each wonder, He,
Ever-King,     of old established.
He early shaped     the Earth-born
a Heaven on high,     Holy Shaper;
then Midgard,     mankind's ward.
The Ever-King     afterward graced
the soil with souls.     Sovereign Almighty!

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March 3rd, 2006

A challenge to write a poem with no Es in ten minutes. I also had to use the words ‘acoustic’, ‘lotion’, and ‘ink’ — I cheated with the first.

                As you kiss my mouth,
you and I know this sound that plays
soft, acoustic, low-
                No: Acoustic's wrong;
not half so soft. A dumb-loud twilit
balm; your palms lotion licking skin,
                Skin says,
'Stay with this body. List your words
in ghost-ink in my mouth.
                Count out rhythms for
my brain to sing until it slips away,
and you slip in
                my mouth.'

Phuket

February 3rd, 2006

In frozen flight between reef and shore
suspended in an easy agreement of hydrogen
and oxygen, it’s no longer about control:
It’s all about control.

It’s about letting a clownfish nip
your palm and knowing you
won’t bleed. It’s about
neither frightening red dozening schools
nor being scared. And it’s about
time to forget depth,
breadth,
and loss.

Don’t breathe. Just
don’t move. Just
don’t fear. Just:
Trust.

And know this: that you will disappear in
this ocean no more easily than a perfect freckle in
a full blue face.

Jack et Elle

February 3rd, 2006

I came home whiskey-
wrecked and brown-bag-
eyed, ‘blivious. Sarah
was on the couch,
pay-per-viewing on my
dime. Couldn’t care.
Didn’t know why she
stayed. Couldn’t care.

She said you ‘dleft which
was ‘spected but
I checked your room, any-
way. No

you. No
note from any other him (no
me). No
no-
thing.

Nothing but a glossy
magazine face
on the wall I’dn’t
ever be.

For Lot

December 30th, 2005
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The Poetry of Proper Names 2

December 28th, 2005

after too late last night
i work the morning because
i hunger and
lang lee’s dollar-pound zucchini
(i almost said the hmong’s)
only promise me
two more meals.

walking home i
sleep into the diablo föhn—
i almost said
sleep into the wind

But there’s a difference.
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時雨せよ茶壷の口を今切ぞ

December 22nd, 2005

winter rain—
time to unseal
the new tea!

Kobayashi Issa
trans. David Lanoue

(In honour of the solstice and the perennial teacup.)

December 19th, 2005

‘L’homo oeconomicus n’est pas derrière nous, il est devant nous…’
-Marcel Mauss

Forgive that crap: French is for pussies. I
took it in high school and still am yet
to forget nos ancêtres les Gaulois
The Jew did the best he could, but the bastard
never understood me. Hazzard a guess as to why I’m
still here (my invisible hand goosing you from time
to time — Pardon, mademoiselle, mais votre derrière
was just right there, and how could a red-blooded…)
What’d I start out with? Eh? Sexism? Bah!
I just know what I want. And I know—
I know other things, too. If only you
were smart enough to ask…
Me — Not the Jew.

I get why you prefer the blondes,
why the missus has a yen
for— Ah! But, then, you already suspect.
I know what you want.

I’m still here because I explain so well:
I know why she’ll pay three-fifty for a latte,
why he’ll live through hell with not a
single holiday in three years and change for no
material difference.

I understand metrosexuals.

I know what happened to the Neanderthals.

I know why James is in Iraq. I understand spam.
I can explain Zionism,
cricket, and
crack.

But…
This confuses me; just this one thing:
Why do you people cling to unanswered love?