New Year’s Day

Day breaks once again;

its unrelenting hunger

devours us all.


My end is my beginning;

my beginning is my end.


(January 1, 2022)

New Year’s Eve

It’s all too simple—

to watch the clock strike midnight:

Dust settles to earth.


Nothing much ever changes:

we laugh, and sing, then we don’t.

(December 31, 2021)

The Strands Unravel Casually to the Floor

I head out on this path.

Our dog pulls at her leash

as if she knew where she was going.


Each leaf, each patch of grass

receives her full attention;

each tuft of her fur vibrates joy.


In division, the line cuts

the whole into tidy parts:

each equal to a degree.


After returning home,

I scratch down a line,

quickly, before I let go.


I’m often short of breath these days,

gasping after air like a dying fish.


(December 30, 2021)

Books 2021

2021 books

I have seen a couple of people post what they read this year. So, being the follower that I am, I decided to post my list. I read constantly, some books I have been reading for years, and have never finished, but am still reading off and on. Some books I stop reading for various reasons: I lose interest, I lose the book in the house somewhere, the book gets shelved, I get bored, I know where it is going, the writing is just too pathetic to continue. Here is the list of books I finished (from beginning to end) this year. I stress finished, because this is not a complete list of what I have been reading. The pictures are current book piles around the house I am reading from.

Fantasyland—Kurt Anderson

Bestiary—Guillaume Apollinaire

Educated—Tara Westover

The Historians (twice)—Eavan Boland 

Poetry as Insurgent Art— Ferlinghetti 

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

At the Existentialist Cafe—-Sarah Blakewell

An Indigenous People’s’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Under the Dome: walks with Paul Celan by Jean Daive

Norma Jean Baker of Troy by Anne Carson 

The selected poems of Wendell Berry

Living Nations, Living Words edited and selected by Joy Harjo

An Unnecessary Woman—Rabid alameddine

Selected Poems of Guiseppe Ungaretti

Jimmy’s Blues by James Baldwin (selected poems)

How to be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Stone Lyre, poems by Rene Char

An Oresteia (Aiskhylos, Sophocles, Euripides) translated by Anne Carson

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee

Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Finna by Nate Marshall (twice)

Debths by Susan Howe 

Dark City by Charles Bernstein 

The Essential Jim Harrison, by Jim Harrison

Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N Blain 

The Big Seven by Jim Harrison

Goldenrod by Maggie Smith

Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

Glottal Stop by Paul Celan

Asylum by Jill Bialosky

The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster by Richard Brautigan

After Ikkyu by Jim Harrison

whispers

let me say it again, and then 

again softly, so only 

you can hear me,

a lover late at night 

whispering her desires,

until you believe it’s true

this time— 

because somewhere 

you can’t remember,

you heard someone, 

perhaps me,

say the very thing 

that you hear now

but it coheres,

this time,

to what you’ve heard,

like spiders dropping 

one soft strand to another, 

so I whisper again

into your ear

through the dark

tonight

(December 26, 2021)

The Long Night

A few days past the winter solstice in the seemingly never ending worldwide pandemic, I am cleaning my house. In between running the vacuum across the rugs, and straightening the cluttered chaos of our everyday lives, I have been making tortilla soup, a tradition for the last ten or more years. Tonight, like last year, there will  be no friends and extended relatives laughing over food and wine as we talk about politics, literature, art, and the lives of our kids. Tonight, only our grown children, their partners, and our two grandsons will arrive to celebrate Christmas, a religion I don’t believe anymore than the pagan symbols the Christians co-opted as a sign of hope for a better world to come: a hope, during the longest night of the year, that the sun will return again. I try not to fear for the future: the never-before-considered collapse of the U. S. as well as the fear caused by millions of people dying worldwide from this horrible virus. Instead I hope, a constant prayer, that we can overcome our pettiness and hate long enough to step from this darkness, and find enough joy in our lives, in our children, in each other, to pass back into the light. So, I clean my house and make tortilla soup, in hope that I will do so again. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tennessee

stubbornly resistant

to any attempt

at metaphor—

the moon’s the moon

like nothing else

(December 22, 2021)

Teacher Appreciation

Context: I’m stuck at a light on south 183. I’m tired from the end of the semester and grading final essays all afternoon. The car’s windows are down; I’m listening vaguely to Tom Verlaine’s rambling guitar on “Days.”

Situation: A man in his mid-twenties in the next car is yelling “Hey, Hey” out his side window at me. I look at him confused, thinking he is going to complain about the music’s volume.“Hey,” he continues to yell out his window, “You used to teach at Connally. I had you when I was a senior. You were great. You really knew your shit.” “Ah, thanks.” I said as the light changed and he drove off.Such are the weird rewards of teaching.

Lost to Myself

I cannot be anymore

than I am;

yet, I am

someone I can never be,


like winds bend through the black trees

without airs

to pretend

they are any more than air.


It is not sorrow that turns,

nor regret;

but old fears

which tighten their thin tendrils


until my voice is contained,

and defined

by others

unafraid of presumptions.


Brick by dry brick dead walls form

sealing in

the remains

of my childhood’s laughter.


I walk through this miasma,

this darkness,

each blue day—

discomfited in the rags


and cliches draped upon me,

like cold rain

which washes

all the burnt dust from the air.

(December 17, 2021)

Here and Now

Listen to your friends

as they laugh with you at lunch,

so sweet and so tart.


Every second passes

from nothing into nothing.


(December 17,2021)