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even now I hear them (a reading)

even now I hear them

from a work in progress: process, not a journey (72)

“Sea, I am like you, filled with broken voices”

—Guillaume Apollinaire

insistent demanding attention

soft whispers curl at my feet

like cats they claw at me

with their sharp reminders

lightly pulling at my skin

until the ground is awash

in the blood of memory

and then slightly below the surface

small phrases embedded in dead

conversations rise like tattered faces

from the sea to mouth their silent

vowels like fish dying in the sand

until the raw scraps of language

in which I am tangled 

are cast out in a storm surge

far out among the dark waves

and I drown choking 

with nothing to say

(July 6, 2020)

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even now I hear them

from a work in progress: process, not a journey (72)

“Sea, I am like you, filled with broken voices”

—Guillaume Apollinaire

insistent demanding attention

soft whispers curl at my feet

like cats they claw at me

with their sharp reminders

lightly pulling at my skin

until the ground is awash

in the blood of memory

and then slightly below the surface

small phrases embedded in dead

conversations rise like tattered faces

from the sea to mouth their silent

vowels like fish dying in the sand

until the raw scraps of language

in which I am tangled 

are cast out in a storm surge

far out among the dark waves

and I drown choking 

with nothing to say

(July 6, 2020)

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there’s no time

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (71)

some time after sunrise I wake

go downstairs book notebook

pen in hand make coffee take

my meds check various

social platforms eat some thing

shower get dressed

sometimes read sometimes write

sometimes nap wake

cook dinner wash the dishes

watch TV listen to music and

then after some time go to sleep

(July 2, 2020)

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Afternoon Light

from a work in progress, “process, not a journey”(69)

the grey cat sits

on the table by the window

and watches the mockingbird

on the elm outside

.

I watch her patience

today and yesterday

and last week

and think she’s oblivious

to sit so stoically

day after day

without hope

of any desires’

consummation

.

I lose my way each day

throughout the day

thinking of this

then distracted by that

as if the unspecified contains 

some mysterious truth

more than a cat

sitting in the sun

(June 28, 2020)

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past imperfect tense

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey: (68)

“I cannot keep my dreams straight.”

-Franz Kafka

some nights most nights

after a whiskey or more

years if not decades

swirl like blue smoke

at my feet

and I forget

where I am as time

falls away like an old drunk

stumbling on my way home

the familiar story

the soft path alters

and strangers step out

of the dark laughing

vaguely  and I have forgotten

why I’m laughing

then laugh again

(June 23, 2020)

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Lines Written in a Pandemic a Few Days After the Summer Solstice

from a work in progress: “Process, Not a Journey” (67)

our earth wobbles its way

about the sun like a drunk

unsure of her footing

moves again

toward the bar

*

day by day minute by minute

plods toward darkness

for the next six months

each day grows darker

by one minute

*

not quite disturbing

the dullard doves

who coo complacently

on the fence

cardinals and jays

fussing constantly

slip after each other

between tree branches

I watch and listen

to this dance

for hours

and can do nothing

*

as it was in the beginning

world without end

(June 23, 2020)

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nostalgia’s a desire for the present

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (64)

what he remembers now

is different than what

he remembered then

.

now he is old

and does not remember

as well what happened

.

then he was young

and foolish and remembered

trivial things

.

of little use then

even less so

now

.

as he holds 

his aspects together

between fragile hands

.

facets of the past

spin off light

for a moment

.

and he sees her eyes

that first night

they almost kissed

(June 16, 2020)

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charmed life

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (63)

DCF 1.0

inevitably

we would join hands 

twirl a circle

with wild abandon

then fall into laughter

on the fresh cut grass

.

summer was summer

for longer than a summer

could be or ever would

be again

.

when the kids on the street

were everyone we knew

and the world was safe

nearby

(June 16, 2020)

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limbo (a reading)

limbo

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (61)

months of laconic weeks drift

past as the centuries two-step

a dance macabre about the village

square like old lovers late at night

dance slowly arms entwined 

in a practiced grace

your death’s not important 

to them any more than mine 

only this dance matters

the horror of it lies 

in the death head’s grin

which does not pretend 

to hide its deception 

there is no skin to map 

its laughter into flowers

across our blind eyes 

no dead platitudes to act 

as balm for our world in flames

(June 14, 2020)

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limbo

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (61)

months of laconic weeks drift

past as the centuries two-step

a dance macabre about the village

square like old lovers late at night

dance slowly arms entwined 

in a practiced grace

your death’s not important 

to them any more than mine 

only this dance matters

the horror of it lies 

in the death head’s grin

which does not pretend 

to hide its deception 

there is no skin to map 

its laughter into flowers

across our blind eyes 

no dead platitudes to act 

as balm for our world in flames

(June 14, 2020)

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Surface Tensions

“stop, children, what’s that sound

everybody look what’s going down”

—Stephen Stills

Another day spreads across the sky

as the flood waters continue to rise.

There is little to stand upon now

that does not tip into complicity.

Ice melts along its edges. One moment

we are there watching the turmoil

below our feet, then the ice is gone, 

and we are all breathing water, 

floundering in the lies we live. 

Our words fill our lungs, and

silence gurgles past our lips

as we slip slowly deeper

beneath the cold gelatinous sea,

to drown in our undeserved comforts

(June 8, 2020)

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Contained & Vanishing Point (a reading)

Contained

“I contain multitudes”

-Walt Whitman

I am not a voice,

but an echo of silence—

before and after.

Like dried flowers in old books,

I live pressed within these folds.

(May 27 2020)

Vanishing Point

“Falling is one of the ways of moving.”

— Merce Cunningham

Finding walls

where there were

none before,

I stumble,

and fall

toward a point

perceived as distance,

yet, always here.

What I see is

only what I know;

perception’s a deception

one swallows entire. 

The eye’s led on

from the outside in.

(June 2, 2020)

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dark earth (a reading)

dark earth

from a work in progress: process, not a journey (60)

obsessively the earth gives birth

to its dead rich and fertile

safe inside itself unseen

unvoiced like ecstatic dancers

beneath a moon-bright sky

the earth lifts the rose

the oak twisting and throbbing

into the air so i burrow deep

beneath the black soil a worm

gnashing rocks like prayers

until i find a darker god

and somewhere in the black clay

an old woman natters

lost in perpetual disappointment

as a death skull’s laughter’s

trapped in his life’s delusion

(May 7, 2020)

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dark earth

from a work in progress: process, not a journey (60)

obsessively the earth gives birth

to its dead rich and fertile

safe inside itself unseen

unvoiced like ecstatic dancers

beneath a moon-bright sky

the earth lifts the rose

the oak twisting and throbbing

into the air so i burrow deep

beneath the black soil a worm

gnashing rocks like prayers

until i find a darker god

and somewhere in the black clay

an old woman natters

lost in perpetual disappointment

and a death skull’s bored laugh’s

trapped in his life’s delusion

(May 7, 2020)

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Infinite Watched Pot (a reading)

Infinite Watched Pot

“That is, if you write it has it happened twice”

—Michael Palmer, Notes for Echo Lake

I woke and now it is now; the sun’s setting.

Was the writing the thing that happened?

Would today happen without being written?

Are they two events or one?

I see something—

like a car crash,

or water boiling on the stove.

One’s disconnected,

one’s intentional, possibly

even a causation; for example;

I’m hungry, so

I hop in the car for a burger.

She was in a hurry. It was

raining. She slams through a yellow light.

The driver in front of me dies

on the wet street. Or,

I’m still hungry. I hold dry

pasta knowingly, and watch

as the tiny bubbles form

on the bottom of the pot.

Did anything happen?

I am hungry, and will be

each time you read this,

even if I was the driver

who died, or I just wrote

it down; even if something

more than this

was in my thoughts

as I waited for water

to boil.

(May 3, 2020) 

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Infinite Watched Pot

“That is, if you write it has it happened twice”

—Michael Palmer, Notes for Echo Lake

I woke and now it is now; the sun’s setting.

Was the writing the thing that happened?

Would today happen without being written?

Are they two events or one?

I see something—

like a car crash,

or water boiling on the stove.

One’s disconnected,

one’s intentional, possibly

even a causation; for example;

I’m hungry, so

I hop in the car for a burger.

She was in a hurry. It was

raining. She slams through a yellow light.

The driver in front of me dies

on the wet street. Or,

I’m still hungry. I hold dry

pasta knowingly, and watch

as the tiny bubbles form

on the bottom of the pan.

Did anything happen?

I am hungry, and will be

each time you read this,

even if I was the driver

who died, or I just wrote

it down; even if something

more than this

was in my thoughts

as I waited for water

to boil.

(May 3, 2020) 

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fog

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey”(59)

of course it’s never either or

a yes a no one path or some other

no matter how far you attempt to see

before it bends in the brush

or how detailed the pro con list

you lay out with little checks

primly contained in tightly drawn boxes

your life is always cluttered

with could haves would haves buts

yets and never-minds

all the vaguely grey spaces

where it’s troublesome to see

as if your smudged glasses were removed

in order to clean the day’s detritus

away and what blurred clarity

you possessed expands and smears

toward an ever-darkening horizon

(May 2, 2020)

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my face blurs as well (a reading)

my face blurs as well

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (57)

i walk out into the brush

into a world not home

and there in the stream 

in the moon-bright sky

i look from mirror

to water to window

and the air

blurs what I see

when I read it blurs

everything i’ve read

and like memory it becomes

what I know now

what I knew then

the story is seen

as what it is

always present

always a lie

(April 25, 2020)

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Afterthought (a reading)

afterthought

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (56)

a residue lingers in air

it curls like cats purr

their self-absorbed song

between your feet

and the lies you stand upon

most days the end of the sentence

arrives long after your focus

has blurred and you’ve slipped

from the book stunned

by the light in the street

no one but you sees the rabbit

scurry down the hole

for like a wolf the brush devours

any trace of stillness that remains

between the bluebonnets and clover

these are your thoughts your dislocations

like a floral hint upon a breeze

they vanish as you turn lost

in the thought you lost in turn

(April 24, 2020)

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One Way or Another

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (58)

the day to day distorts

easier than cataclysm

they bend like fun house

mirrors a reflection

of a persistent truth

rather than shattered

into shards to slice

the skin into tatters

the blood seeps beneath

a blasted bit of bone

one seduces

like a lullaby

one 

a merciful kill

(April 29, 2020)

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my face blurs as well

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (57)

I walk out into the brush

into a world not home

and there in the stream 

in the moon-bright sky

I look form mirror

to water to window

and the air

blurs what I see

when I read it blurs

everything i’ve read

and like memory it becomes

what I know now

what I knew then

the story is seen

as what it is

always present

always a lie

(April 25, 2020)

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afterthought

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (56)

a residue lingers in the air

it curls like cats purr

their self-absorbed song

between your feet

and the lies you stand upon

.

most days the end of the sentence

arrives long after your focus

has blurred and you’ve slipped

from the book stunned

by the light in the street

.

no one but you sees the rabbit

scurry down the hole

for like a wolf the brush devours

any trace of stillness that remains

between the bluebonnets and clover

.

these are your thoughts your dislocations

like a floral hint upon a breeze

they vanish as you turn lost

in the thought you lost in turn

(April 24, 2020)

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spectacles

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (55)

to see clearly I look

through lenses

made and adjusted

over time as my vision

grew worse

I understand to see

I must cast off

all perceptions

accumulated

within my cliches

like now as i remove

my glasses

and rub

my dim eyes

(April 19, 2020)

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futility’s song

Everything we do is futile, but we must do it anyway.

—Mahatma Gandhi

she dances

casting off ghosts

like skin

she has no bones

no laughter

to lace

the pettiness

tossed on her

like shrouds

to disguise the decay

she avoids

yet accepts

.

she dances

as her feet shuffle

a stolid beat

to disrupt silence’s

desolate

reign

she has no words

to mouth

against herself

no cloak

against the coldest

wind

(April 17, 2020)

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radius

The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated with end.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles

I do not know where I am

nor by extraction where you

are in relation to me

other than someone else

.

when I look at you you become

the object of my sentence

a reference toward action

that is wholly defined in me

.

my eye contains the complexity

deep within the oyster’s pearl

layer upon layer’s luster

shines with time’s light

.

an accumulation of vision’s

blind devotion to itself

(April 14, 2020)

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to define is to limit

poetry is nothing

poetry is everything

poetry is thought

poetry is words

poetry is silence

poetry is emotion

poetry is gibberish

poetry is vague

poetry is ambiguous

poetry is precise

poetry is concise

poetry is babble

poetry is light

poetry is dark

poetry is mind

poetry is heart

poetry is hidden

poetry is everywhere

poetry is pervasive

poetry is absence

poetry is laughter

poetry is tears

poetry is love

poetry is hate

poetry is simple

.

poetry is nothing

poetry is everything

poetry is metaphor

poetry is plain

poetry is complex

poetry is slant

poetry is curved

poetry is bent

poetry is straight

poetry is cubed

poetry is convex

poetry is obtuse

poetry is infinite

poetry is hermeneutic

poetry is occult

poetry is transcendent

poetry is god

poetry is zen

poetry is buddha

poetry is Christ

poetry is religion

poetry is atheist

poetry is glib

poetry is serious

poetry is dirt

.

poetry is nothing

poetry is everything

poetry is earth

poetry is air

poetry is fire

poetry is water

poetry is elemental

poetry is irrelevant

poetry is submission

poetry is dominance

poetry is coy

poetry is rude

poetry is blatant

poetry is obvious

poetry is obscure

poetry is orgasmic

poetry is impotent

poetry is sex

poetry is flirtation

poetry is destruction

poetry is resurrection

poetry is creation

poetry is filth

poetry is shit

poetry is dust

.

poetry is nothing

poetry is everything

poetry is breath

poetry is death

poetry is ice

poetry is tongue

poetry is bowels

poetry is piss

poetry is you

poetry is me

poetry is us

poetry is other

poetry is privilege

poetry is poverty

poetry is gender

poetry is genderless

poetry is cadence

poetry is dissonance

poetry is power

poetry is gravity

poetry is nature

poetry is voice

poetry is spit

poetry is sight

poetry is blind

(April 11, 2020)

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the lethargic day’s disquietude

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (50)

time does not flow forward it folds and turns

as mind rattles from thought to thought like rain

drops into puddles making the water

wetter as it vanishes from itself

.

the flow turns inward like the subduction

of one tectonic plate to another

it circles back in an eddy’s slow twirl

until its start is lost within its end

.

time takes its time to tell what time it is

what with the past’s present nature

contending with the present’s obsession

with tomorrow’s constant unravelling

.

then quite suddenly it’s no longer there

like your last stagnant puff of fetid air

(April 9, 2020)

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gently down the stream

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (49)

our lives changed

around him

the first born

.

that summer he turned one

I read dante and the moderns

for grad school

.

at night I’d rock him singing

row row row your boat

until he’d drift to sleep

.

now he has a child

and that summer

floats away into dream

.

like a mountain river

we happily crossed

splashing in the sun

(April 7 2020)

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Dream Journal 37: He Woke to a Memory Which Only Happened in Metaphor

As they walked, she spoke and collected items she saw along the trail. A kind of reverse Hansel and Gretel: instead of finding her way back by dropping bread crumbs, she wanted to become lost, and collected markers which would have shown their way home.  Finally, she asked if he would read a draft of something she wrote. He disliked reading friend’s work (it was all too intimate: entering another’s mind), but he said for her he would. He lay down on the soft grass, entranced by her voice. She told a story as she placed the objects she had found (an acorn, a feather, a stone, a dead butterfly, a ribbon) in a shallow hole next to where he lay. After a while, he sat up and glanced at the objects in the hole. He said, it’s like a witch’s ingle. She laughed gently, and began to loosely tie his hands with the ribbon as she finished her story. He watched her dark eyes focus on the task, becoming lost in their intensity. When she was done, she said to him, now you’re supposed to untie yourself, and become free. He said, one would first have to want to be free. With nothing more to say, she walked away leaving him in the woods.

(April 1, 2020)

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ongoing

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (45)

the field is a smooth green

small lines define

the gain and the loss

.

there is no loss

there is no gain

we are there

.

flowers and flowers

dance in decay

no daffodils today

.

he sighs and wanders

along his way another day

another day

.

time is the construct

the die never falls

it just falls

(March 27, 2020)

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spin again

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (44)

the ball clacks

from red to black

a cord turns

this way then that

.

they say yes they

say no as if

saying makes it so

.

it’s certainly true

he held out his hand

such a simple man

while her fingers

traced along a wall

wanting nothing

nothing at all

.

then they turn again

loops through loops

doubled and troubled

a move to the left

a move to the right

chains held them o so tight

.

this is our day

one more song

and one last wrong

(March 26, 2020)

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Writing About Writing My Work in Progress

I read this morning that Hemingway said that better writers didn’t talk about their writing; I think it is often important to reflect on what one is doing as one writes: metacognition to use education jabber. So, fuck off Ernie.

I started a serial poem back at the beginning of January. The plan was to write 140 poems, each poem’s length is pre-determined by a random number generator, ranging from 3-140 syllables. It was to follow vaguely the rules of a renga, where each poem grew out of the one before it somehow, weather through theme, pun, image, or a reply. The number of poems was determined by the number of syllables in a sonnet. 

I have come to the end of the first “stanza” section—40 poems. The last poem in the section #40, ‘rhymes’ with (39), (20), and (1); as (10) and (30) ‘rhyme—in an attempt to create an overall section unity. I will now begin to move forward with the second ‘stanza’ while collecting and tightening section 1, in hopes that as I reread and work over section 1, the themes and ideas that emerged in section one will echo and grow organically in section two: a conversation between sections one and two, if you will, as section two talks to itself.

Well, it keeps me something to do, and think about if nothing else.

(March 22, 2020)