Saturday, November 11, 2017

11 November 2017

I want to write an honest sentence. It was a conference of clouds. Ashbery's instruction manual foretold the cloud. A woman with small dog, no shoes, told me to distinguish healthy from unhealthy clouds. She counts them from the plane, though she uses no money and wears what she makes from what she finds at the transfer station. I hold the Ashbery poem in my hand, but the man with the cloud keeps reading to me about heavy metals used to make iPhones. An unhealthy cloud is dark, but brings no rain. Her father, I find out, was the Hat Man of Maui. Broad smile, very few teeth. He'd played for the New England Patriots. When I leave, I see her again, with her tan and white dog. No one came to her panel. The man with the cloud wore multi-colored slippers under his tight rolled up pants. I watched them under the table as he read to us, lifting each printed page across as he started to read it. My head was in the clouds, though I kept trying to land, aware the final approach might push me back in the air of this room with no access to Apple TV and only a wall on which to project what might have been given. Later, I open the image of a young woman on my computer; I didn't know her but recognize her face. She died in August. We cannot grieve if we lock our cloud against the air. It's dark, but cannot cry with us; instead, our faces swell and we cough as if to transfer affect into substance. That's what I was saying, he told me, that what we think is abstract never is.

--11 November 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

7 November 2017

I want to write an honest sentence about kindness. The pastor used his motorcycle as a vehicle for allegory. He placed it in front of the altar, all buffed chrome and handlebars, then invited kids to sit on it. Their evening Bible study would be Revelations, and likely they'd not get past I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. We're so in touch with our rage, so divorced from other affect. So firm in our faith that to pray can't stop a bullet, but can bless its aftermath of pain. It's as if 1.3 million New Yorkers had been killed. (The famous poet opened my documentary poetry class with, “Poetry is the art form that does not include information.”) Neither his palms nor ours are trees, more like grasses that bend away from trade winds and absorb the shock of baseball bats. Radhika says she broke a defender yesterday, meaning she split a post used to imitate one. Even grass shall lose its tenure in this United States of Fallacy. A hero neighbor stopped the slaughter at only 27; if he'd not had a gun to shoot the man with the gun, then everyone would've lain down on their fields and watered the ground with their blood, no questions asked. Earth is more fertile that way. Its roots and stalks take us at our words, but words grow mold, live their own disintegration. Our classrooms stink of it. Is there kindness to see how damaged we are that we kill but semi-automatically? Is there compassion enough to wrap these sick white men in blankets, pour soup down their ravening maws? I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

--7 November 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

5 November 2017

I want to write an honest sentence about the end of the world. It's coming, you know; how you feel about it matters less than what you do with your remaining sentences. You ransom them for more, or trade them at the deadline for a rental starter who can get you into the post-season, maybe earn you a title before the empty months stretch out with their rainy days and hot stove rumors. Working without a title can be liberating, like writing when you know that no one cares. The choreography of an academic department charts avoidance, curves away from and toward heavy brown doors that open onto drab clean pathways. I asked a young man if I could help; he said he was just looking around, then disappeared as in thin air. In this political season, every encounter seems over-determined. The Proud Boys wear heavy black boots. My former student said one of them's a “nice guy.” Niceness in an age of belligerence is no virtue. Is mask unto self or the cars that roar by between us. (He bought his Trump mask used.) The inevitable verkehr that we giggled over in class. It means “sexual intercourse,” you know, along with “traffic.” Why the heathens rage filled the newspapers of my youth. Now democracy dies in darkness. Deep as any dingle. I get my news on a feed, but what I learn is we're being fed a line, or two, grand epic of budget cuts. Whan that April with his slash and burn doth rid us of our literature, then we'll work as marketers of dreck. But back to the end of the world, which rises like the sun on our side of the island; it's on the other side that it falls, orange, over the earth's frail scalp. Nostalgia's the new revolution, an open square where citizens congregate and children kick balls. What we call terror they might have called poverty, but as my friend reminds me, the lotus comes from mud. 

--5 November 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

My new book from Equipage in Cambridge, UK

The editor is Rod Mengham, who can be found at
(I don't yet know even how much the book costs!)

Some of the poems can be found here, with thanks to Jerrold Shiroma:

Equipage's website is here:

The cover art is by Tommy Hite:
If you open the book up to include the full cover, you get this: