Saturday, April 30, 2011

On Continuing

One day she realized she had
failed -- there was no use
worrying. She didn't know how
little they had advanced. For
some time their recent relations
had been neither this nor that.

He seemed to think she should
know something. She smiled faintly,
"before you go." That startled him.
Then there was a touch.

Swift strokes, then the thickening,
the stiffening, the electric rise
in her hand. On the brink of it,
he had to turn to watch, her
hand straight ahead across.

Finally he came, falling gently to
her naked. There was nothing they
could not see: the sky, the early
spring snow, the nature of continuing.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Dangerous Point

This was where he crossed his fingers. "Today,"
he said as he anticipated her next move.

Make of it what you will.

"That was like some kind of book," she said
after they had passed the dangerous point.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

should say
that I might
have known. I guess
those who know about pushing
higher into the ether should have
told me they had nothing for me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Mystery Dance

(for Declan Patrick MacManus)

She was ready. But he felt
Ignorance -- as if he had not
Heard of it before, but as for her:

She switched position and then
Pulled down her pants as if
Only to make him laugh
At what she was about to do.

He had never seen anything.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Answers Found In Dreams

He realized that he had forgotten
To ask about it. It had always been.

Gravitated away and would not kowtow.
Could possibly have before, but now.

Back in the chair, going down, slowly.
This way not only simple but also holy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Can You Find Me?

Perspiration, it was all over.
Shadows, along the ridge.
The room, already to bed.

He sighed quietly, she had gone.
Swore to himself, as if to keep a chance
To be right, but uninterested in the trouble.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

& In the Listening

(for John Ashbery)

Who's to say that theirs
Are less than ours. And

In the listening to or
In the talking with, or

Another, breathing hard.

Curiously, I signaled.
We were almost ready.

All right you know how it is.

I gave a reason to be. Can you?

His right hand quivered.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Magical Scientist

To him it was an actual event that
He would be able to explain:

"It's bad luck to be too superstitious."

The day before when he was alive.
Everybody was. Then he was dead.

Friday, April 22, 2011

On the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

"The President's been shot," he said seriously.
We heard about it; it was what we talked about.
Brains and blood and bones in an upward curve
And his body across the woman: that's what we imagined
Though we'd be proven wrong by slow motion film
Showing his body just as if we were there with him.
But we didn't stop looking; we haven't stopped yet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Astonishing Thing

They stripped -- worked rapidly
Turned from it, shirtless and sweating
All the same, when they reached
The verge, he hestitated then shrugged
Knelt down and stroked
"Like hours," he said
She came then -- she drew back
She did -- for a moment --
Began to see -- "You are an
Astonishing thing" -- he returned

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too Familiar

Cautiously, feeling tenderly with her
Hands. It was absurd.

Too familiar. Though it was
Too soon. There was still some...

Might be. She started to...
On her own. Deciding there that...

It happened to him. He turned back.
And wondered what wasn't and who had.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Rrose Selavy" by Robert Desnos (Translation)

2. Rrose Selavy asks whether the Flowers of the Evil have changed her pud's manners: What does Maude think?

7. O my head, a fading mother-of-pearl star.

15. Lost on the endless sea, how will Rrose Selavy eat iron after eating her hands?

27. Time is a nimble eagle in a temple.

53. It is more important for a poet to be honest than to be polished.

-- Robert Desnos

[Note: I don't read or write French so I used an on-line translator to provide the literal translation and worked from there.

"27." is as translated by the fine folks at Babelfish.

In the original "2.", Desnos plays on the similarity of "phalle" and "Omphale," who enslaved Hercules and forced him to do "woman's work" such as spinning wool. The best I could do was to allude to Bea Arthur.

Click here to read all of Desnos' Rrose Selevay poems in French.]

Monday, April 18, 2011


Falling upon it, she left.

Not walking but falling.

He ran after her, and he fell.

He should not have run.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

As If It Was

i was daydreaming when i pulled up
it was not generally considered

she had asked the question
the woman said, and the answer was
experience no matter what

we were all a little
we knew we should leave

driving slowly down
our energy spent. partly it was
youth, i suppose, and all
but however as if it was
to the last, we
raised our eyes and saw
this then, it is the
that which always
that had always been
never find her in this
never find her moved forward up
two steps forward one step back

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Wedding Dress

He had moved his mother's wedding dress
time after time, from apartment to
apartment, city to city

Friend to friend, lover to lover

Until we found him hanging
A white apparition in a candlelit room
Acrid myrrh failing to mask the death-stench of shit

"A fruit on a loop," the cop called him

[Note: Inspired by an anecdote CA Conrad told on the Poetry Foundation's "Off the Shelf" podcast.]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Resolve Steeled

For Dan and Pat

Even though he felt his chances small
He would resolve to steel his resolve
To ask the young woman out on a date
To share his love for dancing to jazz

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kiss (Tony)

Elizabeth Peyton, "Kiss (Tony)," 2000, lithograph.

"Impecunious" means you're one broke-ass nigga
Pissed-off that you can't afford to drink away the
Shitty feeling following an equally shitty
One-night stand with some dude who had you
Convinced that he could cop some excellent weed
That he said this trippy scene sorely needed
Looking back now so many details seem portentous
And you're going to have to emend the story if
You don't want it to end with you caterwauling
The veracity of your being one broke-ass nigga

* * * * * *

[Note: Written as a continuation of an exercise introduced at a workshop called "High Art/Low Language: Experiments in Poetic Style," conducted by Eileen G'Sell at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, where Elizabeth Peyton's exhibition "Ghost" is currently on display through April 18.

Participants in the workshop viewed the exhibit and picked two images to write poems about, choosing from five "high culture" and five "low culture" words that they had drawn from a hat. For this exercise, I used all of the words in the order I wrote them in my notebook.

My poem from the workshop is here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Song for the South

So there he was, Ezra, impounded in Pisa, accused of treason
Now trading tobacco with fellow inmates forbidden to talk to him
Colored mostly, soldiers fighting for a country

That hardly fought for them. Taken away like Louis Till after
3:00 a.m. line-ups to be hung for murder and rape.
Not even 3 weeks in the gorilla cage could keep him from

Praising Il Duce in 11 lines on a piece of toilet paper
And later writing his cantos on a table made from a packing crate
B H.H. Edwards after he had gotten the charity.

Would he or anyone have guessed that 10 years later
Louis Till's 14-year-old son would be brutally murdered
For the crime of whistling at a white woman in a store

In Mississippi, where the accused were acquitted? Though
After the trial they were happy to brag to Life magazine
About what they had done as if they had done no wrong.

Distinguished Senators Stennis and Eastland looked, then, at
Louis' hanging and announced themselves satisfied that the
Same bad blood flowed in the veins of the son as the father.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Asked and Answered

"There," he said, turning toward her
shouting out the phrases that
now seemed to him as he
closed the door behind him to
answer the questions she had

[Slightly edited from original post on Casino*Town*Poets, January 13, 2011.]

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Boy's Hand

could at last have his
hands which were
together on one bed playing
he muttered slowly
hands in her lap
the tips of his fingers
traced a smooth curve
was wet and his and
his finger as he felt
the boys hand
over it, the girl and then
him to his feet
to her, pushing the girl
to one side of the bed
there, holding on
between the palms of her hands
she set it down again
the boys hand

Thursday, April 7, 2011


an impression of what had happened

sure what it was about

knew about it that was that

the point was in. there was nothing

because to us, the story was over

all that she carried

we who have had almost

and were not there couldn't of course

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Finding

we had heard about it on the
television once and knew
it would amuse him -- yes -- that
we would one morning find him -- too --
lying on his back, his bed
covered with a worn quilt
loose enough to hide -- well --
not enough. it did not matter.
we held his hand, moved it.
we began to realize
therefore, why we were frightened;
why we began to fall back.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Remains of the Day

Drunk and broiling in the summer sun
Telling a dude from that one band
About how you'd killed yourself
With a gunshot to your head
One of their songs playing on
Endless repeat.

What remains of the day remains to be seen

I remember his sad, shocked stare.
What could he have said?
He was the guitar player not the singer.

Monday, April 4, 2011


he had kept the peace
had drifted nearer
yet there was nothing
and if she was still
given to asking questions
but one of them must
at that instant
and then he was and
he saw that
he did not know
and as much as it went
he had come to the end
heard no sound
it was not what he was
but what he had done

Sunday, April 3, 2011


laying naked in
his bed waiting desirously
but he sent you home

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dead and Drunk Everyone

everyone was dead and i went on drunk.

dead was drunk everyone and i went on.

everyone was drunk and i went on dead.

drunk was dead everyone and i went on.

dead was everyone and i went on drunk.

drunk was everyone and i went on dead.

dead was drunk everyone and i went on.

i was dead and everyone went on drunk.

drunk was dead everyone and i went on.

i was drunk and everyone went on dead.

dead was drunk everyone and i went on.

on i went dead and everyone was drunk.

on i went drunk and everyone was dead.

Friday, April 1, 2011