Friday, April 29, 2022

What the hoarders left behind


29 April 2022

Old joy stick, wreathed in webs. Two pink elephants, laughing in theirs. Premium oil, Value Power car battery. Old rubber ball, once red, now flecked, beside the yellow tool. Old string of white Christmas lights on the chain link fence. On the porch, a crumpled up American flag to go with a sticker on the moldy truck window. Stacks of flat cardboard, boxes of old spray cans, cleaners, squirt bottles. No one’s been here for weeks. This is not quite narrative, not quite not narrative. Diary of objects, the dirty carport its frame. Hard to decide which to take, which to leave. 

She puts a photograph of herself and her mother in her war diary. They are ordinary, but so is the war. I can’t write a proper one, as I don’t look at TikTok, or read the articles about rape as a military strategy. After you listen to a trauma story, you double up, breathe in, fold back into seated position. Later, you drive down Haunani, where an old woman trudges, looking lost, carrying her Target bag. You don’t stop to ask if she needs a ride. Your ticket got punched this morning.

She was her father’s “experiment,” left in a room alone to see how she reacted. My friend says there was no kindness in her house growing up. She found kindness in her 50s. Avoidance of story was my self-care.

So many of the abandoned objects have to do with cleaning, lubing, fixing, making stuff work. Yellow oil bottles sit like trophies on the carport frame. The only vehicle is pinned in place by junk, by mold, by disuse. I love the old trucks whose beds have ginger growing in them.

Mass graves left by the hoarders of war. Loss is accumulation. We have more than you, so we lose. You have more than we do, so you lose. The man down the street screamed obscenities when he played video games. His dead joy stick half smashed in the carport. Easier to name the joy stick than the flowers across the road, purple prods melting in the rain.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The local goss


"Ever notice that almost all the memorials are on the straightaways," he said, after telling me he'd worked for the highways. Almost got in an accident once, but stopped as a bus turned left in front of traffic. A young woman was run off the road. She got out of her car and ran after the bus. "I don't have many regrets in life," he said. "But I wish I'd backed her up." He looked with interest at Lilith, but wouldn't touch her. No one can touch his dog, a heeler, not even the vet. He holds the dog around the neck with one arm, puts the other around the body so the vet can have look. He punctuated his comments with his red pruner, as we talked over the driveway gate. 
"It's like Peyton Place," he said laughing, our next interlocutor. His stories unfolded about a woman attacked by two geese, then by the geese's owner. A rooster that had cost $1500 that his dog had killed. "Got a receipt for that?" he asked. Of course not. The drug dealer whose wife left him, twice, though in-between times he begged and she came back. Left him and the kids the second time. The hoarders across the street seem to have disappeared. Someone described them as "giddy" to be leaving. But their stuff didn't move with them: the limp flag, the trucks covered with old containers of oil, the folded table, the picnic bench covered in stuff, the house with sad windows. Those are still there.
And then the dharma friend with his dog of the bad back, dressed in a rain coat that crinkled back and forth with her tail. She and Lilith sniffed; she lifted her leg to put it down on Lilith, who feigned a counter-attack. I don't think I'd ever met him except in a small square on zoom, so it felt good to attach face and voice to body and dog. We've been reduced to pieces for so long, portraits of ourselves projected out, oddly divorced from our lower bodies. 
At the farthest point of our long walk, as I talked to a woman whose dog was not friendly--her other dog is a German shepherd who's mean--Lilith developed a limp. She hobbled down the road, and I promised her we would turn back at the end of the street we were on. But then we met the man with the pruners; after I'd talked to him for a long while, Lilith set forth without a limp, clearly wanting to go home in the misty rain.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The fake flowers of Highway 11


24 April 2022

Do I shoot wide or narrow? Take in the filthy stuffed bear and the slightly cleaner pink pig? Linger on the crosses supported by rusted bed frames, wheels dangling? Take a portrait of the portrait of the man named below, beside the cross that bears his dates, camouflaged by flowers? Cross the highway to see the memorial from a dispassionate distance? Aim my camera at the cars that streak by? Make sure they blur? Look for the passengers looking at me, but not the gloves, the stethoscope, the smudged notes? Notice the not noticing by taking pictures of it. One memorial consisted of artificial flowers—appropriate to the tropics—rimmed with dirt from mowers and car spray. Behind the memorial lay an upside down fake anthurium, its green plastic stem standing up. Nowhere was there a name, a bear, a note; the memorial was itself unidentified. What feeling do you get from the memorial stripped of any recollection?

A Ukrainian woman on twitter posts the photograph of a young blonde woman. Putin’s gift, Zelenskyy calls it, her death by bomb on Easter weekend, along with her baby, shown with mother, with bottle. We think: good for propaganda. We regret that thought. There’s no dispassion in my looking at her, only in counting the dead on a street I’ve never walked. But numbers, too, bleed. Leave all the feeling to the audience, the teacher says, but I require content.

I wrote a confession to Norman. I’d listened to Kathie’s dharma talk while watching my Cardinals on the computer. Needed two devices to manage this multi-task. She was talking about dharma ancestors, and I heard the words “Home Run.” I looked at the closed captions and saw “Home Run.” When they lack commercials, they run three mlb zens in a row. Mike Trout, in super slo mo, picks up a ball and inside the frame of a diamond hour glass, throws it the other way.

From the road you can’t see that the firefighter was Jon Hara, that he liked to fish, that he used a stethoscope, that his teeshirt had his name on it. I took the wrinkled teeshirt photo, still in my phone, and thought of Marie Hara, her husband Jon. When I turned on instagram, the first photograph was of Marie’s daughter. The second was of Jon.

Does every entry of a war diary require scenes of horror? Do Americans think of the ordinary world as necessarily banal? Is horror what we demand in place of boredom? At least horror poses lots of questions, right? This morning’s rain, the trailing wind, dog’s ears sticking from her nest on the couch, bird song. This is enough not to understand.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Garden rocket


20 April 2022

A rocket—green--grows in the man’s garden. Rooted by its nose, fin blossoms stretch from a metal stalk. Earth parts with few traces of violence. He’s alive, he says, though he was beaten. Another rocket bears its awful fruit elsewhere.

These are its stages: train platform, littered with bags; vacant-eyed buildings, empty; littered streets; forest encampment cluttered with cans. Or, the steel mill in Mariupol, resting on tunnel roots. Suck the tunnel walls of their water. Learn from rats how to abide the dark. Only days, or hours, remain.

Lilith and I meet a woman named Noni. I ask if she’s the same Noni whose name I saw earlier on a missing dog sign. Fifi’s been found. Fifi was struck by lightning, dug a tunnel to get her pups out, refused to emerge from under the water tank after Noni took her in. Fifi is unfriendly. “We’re all getting rickety,” she says. “I look in the mirror and wonder what happened. I feel the same.” Stranger still the photograph of the young woman, though neither she nor I say so.

Beauty takes time, the philosopher opines, while information does not. The powers that be are in it to destroy time, consign us to the quirky eternity of work. Even your breaks are part of seamless days of data collection. A mirror’s side-eye captures a warped image of my dog beside a dirt driveway. Ferns held up by old propane tanks, their buds rusted, numbers blurring. We don’t have time, because time has no edges, just wrinkles where the fins wagged.

“Are you still obsessed with time?” she asked me once.

It’s the smoothness he distrusts: smoothness of metal dogs, smoothness of “good” skin, smoothness of elevator music. We don’t remember what isn’t interrupted. Memory’s born of hiccup. In memory, there is an other, and she is we. The girl who ignored her parents is now the parent who tries to catch the eye of her girl. Forgiveness is a salve for regret.

One student didn’t want to see the faces of the dead on photos of road memorials. Not symbolic enough. Memories depend on rust. Only a clean surface gets forgotten, and where is the symbol there? A young woman stares out from a frame, ribbon lei on both sides. She is smiling; her body is full. A sign warns us to go no farther.

“You’re taking photos of the memorials, but not what happens to them.” 


(With thanks to Oppen, Han, and Chan)

Saturday, April 16, 2022

What I thought was short-cut proved to be a bog


16 April 2022

What I’d thought was a short-cut proved to be a bog. Sunken nearly to my knees, I looked to my right and saw the large pipe, the bridge, evidence of an occasional stream. My sandals sit by the door, hosed down, still smelling of Hau`ula peat. I walked barefoot--except for the mud--to one of three memorials on the beach: three for two men. A name in the tree, “Ku.” A banner, flags. More likely, there three for one man, Braddah Ku, shown twice, younger and older, on one banner. I find him on-line. He was 48.

At another beach park I find a tree decorated with water floats; underneath is a red chair, looking out to sea. In the tree’s crook, faded photos of a woman and a boy. Under the tree, on the ocean side, sit empty wine bottles and a small pair of red tennis shoes. This was not a drowning but a car crash.

Bryant says his friend is depressed; they talk nearly every day now. His daughter leaves for college soon, and his parents are old, a thousand miles away. Last night they talked about tanks getting killed in the Ukraine. How when a tank gets hit, it’s repaired. A crew goes in to clean out the dead’s pieces, to make the tank seem new, except there are always stains in the cracks. Like hotel staff, they clear the armored room for another set of occupants, precarious in their hutches. Everyone knows it. “When I died, they washed me out of the turret with a hose." I send the link. For god’s sake, talk next about flowers.

The need to know, to understand these waves of political and military history, set against the need to stay above water, to not drown. To make memorials inside our conversations, as we look at the white-topped waves of a large blue ocean. To confront the axis of linear and circular time, without leaping into its saw. See saw see saw. Saw sea.

On-line, I find a photograph of the car’s wreckage, a story about the mother and her son and two visitors from Utah who survived their end of the accident. I find a photograph of the young woman who died at Crouching Lion, a video of her grieving friend. My research is my remembrance, made whole-cloth of others’ words and pictures, a memorial of a memorial. What good does this do to me or to anyone? Not evidence of war crimes, or memories cherished for the families; not altars made to poetry, or even prose. Could I not simply drive past?

I drove back home, feet and trousers black with mud, sandals in the trunk of the car. The trip smelled of mud. In the photograph, my foot appears sculpted, toe nails outlined in mud, the bluish straps mere suggestions. It’s the smell of earth, of death becoming life, of sweet water so close to the salt ocean. “Is that Hawaiian mud?” a cousin asks. The `aina, rich with stink, my toenails still black with it. Clean and unclean memory. The flowers, the ones that had not faded, were bright. For “Papa,” a red lei and yellow sunflowers, hanging from a palm.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Flag ships


15 April 2022

So that’s what flagship means, says the child-self to the curmudgeon watching the news: the commanding officer carries the flag on the lead ship. Not to be confused, in this instance, with leadership. A cartoon shows mermaids underwater beside a gun turret, marveling at how they always wanted to see Moscow. Ship stands in for, sinks for, the place, which stands in for the nation, sinking. In the line-up of rhetorical tropes, only one commits the crime.

So that’s what a flagship is, a metaphor on top of a symbol on top of a military reference. The provost of our flagship university writes to a woman who told him about her mother’s suicide, “there is simply no truth to this.” After the vice chancellor, on reading my email about a suicide on campus responded, “Enjoy your retirement!” one noted that the exclamation point was shrapnel.

One cat attacks another cat. Second cat taken to vet, where he bites a tech. Vet tech taken to the hospital. Second cat sits on the left side of the lanai. First cat moves from right to left side, stares, her tail wiggling. Words wouldn’t end this hostility; they never do. “Should we take Putin seriously when he warns of unpredictable actions?” No, says the pundit.

Offending cat drinks from the deck, dawdles before she stares. The cats are more interested in each other than in the birds. Offending cat leaps on the table under a folded umbrella, sniffs the plants. She turns her stare toward me.

Age creates a gap between cause and effect. Get your certificate in self-detection. Trace back the symptom (wrenched back) to cause (pulling morning glory vines) as if to freshly discover a link. The pundit knows better. It’s a proxy war, ginned up by NATO. There is always someone at the controls, even when the ship sinks. It’s genocide, if that word means anything. It’s a series of war crimes, as if one did not mandate the next. It’s something we can name, because naming it marks it like a flag. The unmarked graves are lines on a map, as are the convoys of trucks through a forest. But lines used to make sense.

The historian geometer gets out her ruler and traces patterns. Lines become angles become triangles become shattered squares. Lines cross the map like a Trail of Tears; one of them is the Trail of Tears. Ain’t no real big secret all the same.

Y’s new photo looks out from the middle of a giant skyscraper on other looming apartment blocks. The new photo is as banal as the old, just taken from higher up. She’s back in Kyiv, inviting us to share her #warcoffee. The offending cat has come in from the deck to eat the other cat’s food. The other cat sits beneath a railing, out of sight. What he can’t see won’t hurt him.

A friend lashes out about platitudes. Life is suffering, he says, and no prayer to end it will ever succeed. He’s suffering, and that becomes his title, because titles comfort us. Another friend reminds me that a dog talks in Anna Karenina. A third friend doesn’t name his dog Tolstoy. My screen fills with other peoples’ flowers, cherry blossoms mostly. Gratitude is one of these platitudes, but like any, it’s harder to breathe in than to spit out.

--for Patrick P.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Committee work


11 April 2022

Memory as dream work, if it’s work at all. Tell me how to modulate my voice out of this anger, another death on campus, forgotten in advance “because of privacy issues.” Privacy’s a form of active forgetting, as if by not attaching a name to our death, it had not happened, at least not in that way. The approved ways include heart attack and car accident. We have not yet gathered as a committee to discuss the feasibility of approving suicide, whether it is committed or merely completed. To define success in this instance would be to mandate a cloak be placed over the frail bosom of information. It’s not an act against God but against information, and so it’s suppressed.

The difference between bathos and tragedy, my friend suggests, might lie between self-pity and a dialogue that leads to it. If I give my dog a voice in this sequence, she will have none in editing it. So I leave her to her silences, her barks of greeting, warning, and pleas for help when tangled up on her long leash. What I can’t translate I might still write down. A writer divorced from her translator cannot read herself. Type in your sentence about a blocked pipe and get back the word “evacuation” in French. Those who can’t evacuate do not become refugees. They may lie in the rubble of Mariupol. They’re fighting to hold a city that no longer exists.

They’ll drop just enough chemical weapons to push at the boundaries of military protocol. If war is a game, then one side is bombing the board, destroying its plastic houses and hotels, passing go without taking money, then writing “for the children” on their bombs.

If the bombers write that, does that make them the dark parents of those children, aiming their metal sperm-shaped ordinance at a train station, one that gives and receives cars full of human beings? No one is fleeing now. If you stay you’re likely to die, but if you leave you’re likely to die, so why not stay in the ruins of the city you remember from your childhood?

I am so far away from Mariupol, but so are those who write from Kyiv.

Maeve head butts me, snuggles with me at night, then attacks Claude with ruthlessness. He sits on the old red chair, stained, sagging, and licks at his wounds. The cats have their own wars and peaces. Warning: graphic images. Please do not show that image of abuse ever again.

“Whatchu doing taking pictchas of my fucking house? Erase that shit from your phone,” a young man hisses at me in Kalihi. I don’t put up the photo of his house, with the ad beside it for Dyke’s Market, which takes EBT and says so on a sign covered with images of beer cans. He follows me up the street, but I turn away from him and walk. The next photos are of Bob Marley, a walk-up apartment with a tiny American flag flying on a stick.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Redemption Song


9 April 2022

The disharmony of our conversations. There’s no more monotone, only clutches of mixed notes. We still want to learn about each other’s desires, about the histories that might make sense of all this, but we’re folded in like a t-shirt whose imprinted face more resembles an alien than Bob Marley. Or that speaks of the miracle of walking on the earth and that there is an elf. Never quote Oppen on a shirt; lose one syllable and it’s all over, the clear bell of meaning ceding to demented sentences then saved to our clouds.

I said I wished I hadn’t talked so much. She assured me it was a conversation; there were two of us, ears pressed to phones, and there were two voices gathering up work and suicide, homesickness and grief. It was as if the earth took Marthe after she’d gone and the Kapoho tidepools filled with molten lava. Reclamation project by one angry woman of another. I would leave an altar to Pele at his lava installation. When I took black rocks for him from the beach, I told Pele what I was doing. But that was not a conversation. Prayer leaves the interlocutor out.

One Y took a photograph from the Kyiv to Warsaw train. The land is flat and white, a bit blurred by the train’s speed. The subject seems anonymous, if land could be without a name. That she needed to take the photograph marks her desire to remember what she passed through. When we doubt our memory, we take up our machines to capture it. Put them in the folders, the albums, all the dead metaphors that litter our screens. Some day we’ll be reminded by iPhoto that we have memories they cherish for us.

The suicide squeeze failed last night. You only succeed if you survive to score a run. Unmetaphorical suicide operates differently. The young woman who succeeded will be doubly forgotten inside the institution. There were cops and firefighters and a memorial that quickly disappeared. Inchoate sound might be better than the silences that followed. Since we cannot say our grief, let’s stand to hear the sirens, the alarm bells, the leaf blowers and weed whackers, all the instruments of our grieving.

We have only eight years with this earth, Laura says, and everything else is a distraction. Distract me from climate change by showing me a war for energy sources; distract me from the war by turning my attention to the violent slap of one man’s cheek by another man’s hand; offer me the accumulated grief of any newspaper screen. When you’ve sponged it up, squeeze hard. Each leaf will sound a different note. If you listen, you’ll know.

My forthcoming book may never come forth. In perpetual chryslis, it will swallow its words. They’re surely not mine now, as each section was a photograph taken from a train. Refugees now look out from trains and buses, as if to take the photos back. Take the flat land in and chew it. The image will not appear in reverse, but as if it had never been. The film was so experimental we didn’t know which reel went first. Halfway through the first reel we knew it to be the second, and so respooled it by hand. It must have mattered to us that we watched the film in that way, spooling and unspooling and respooling on its plotless track.

My husband calls me on Facetime from the Mauna Loa road. After days of rain, the sky is a clear blue. He pans the scene down the mountain: the road's yellow zipper, the koa trees. He is happy, the dog is happy, and I will say that I am, too.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Format and Texture


8 April 2022

The way the word “form” surrenders to “format.” The format of my thoughts has no curves or textures beyond this flat screen. Everything that matters lives off-screen, the ginger cat casting her yellow eyes from the brown railing, the other cat crying, the third cat seated on his favorite chair. For these are our stations. Over 50 dead at a train station in the Ukraine. The “after” photograph shows no human beings, just their bags. Insouciant objects, pink flashing the absent presence of a girl child.

Believe only what you see cedes to believe only what you believe. The loss of old theories (religious ones) leads us to these tabloid conspiracies, lacking candles or altars or wine. I wrote about suffering; she referred to my Incandescent Whiteness. Witness. She offers her ass to Nice White Women. I’ll kiss my own.

Palm sounds are not percussion, though not yet melody. What does that make them, in the wind? The myna’s song lacks melody, but is not siren. Low rumble of traffic an indistinguishable bass line. It’s the microphone that makes them cohere, or the pre-chant of the ear.

The museum creates a form, or is it format?

What shall we put in this museum of our feelings? The love one feels at night when one or the other cat nuzzles; the elation at reading poems that are more comrades than words; the early morning texts about the weather? If the weather is a problem, I suggested, take your photographs of the weather. What you cannot control will be your subject, and you its mirror. iPhone image flipped around so you can comb your hair without one. The i is small, the Phone is not.

The feeling of loss turns to one of accumulation. I have added my losses together, until they’ve become a blanket to hide myself under. We remember these times, don’t we, when we hid from parents under things. Blankets, beds, anywhere. My mother saw men building shelters out of cardboard at Dachau. If poetry is a con, why do we attend?

The email reported an “incident” and was signed “Student Housing.” It urged students to take care of themselves and each other. Student Housing wrote with a heavy heart. Student Housing is there to talk. Student Housing cannot say what the incident was, though someone died. Student Housing refers students to Student Counseling, which is to be distinguished at this institution from Student Health. Student Housing has reached out. Student Housing has an office in the dorm where the student died. Into Student Housing we pour our hopes and fears. God save Student Housing.

There is so much to see beyond this patch of pixels, this white space inside a gray space, framed by black. When asked what gets in the way of my practice, I said “memory.” Writing is the practice of putting them in the queue of this day’s events. It’s a peculiar neurosis, this need to put memories in containers and place them on the platform to be sent away. Others talk about planning, making lists, worrying about the day’s tasks. I worry that memory is my task, one I can’t put in any out box, demanding my attention, like morning glory vines overtaking a forest. See that koa tree? You can’t see it, just its format, covered as it is by the green blur of vines choking it off. There’s some punctuation in this sentence, the pale purple flowers to suggest that the vine wants something more than empire.

The leaf blower starts up; one cat comes forward, then walks past; I'm stationed on the floor. My back hurts. Have my muscles twisted like morning glory vines, becoming the very thing they want to escape? In response to the world, we hurt ourselves. There must be a word for that.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Free Printable Coupons


5 April 2022

Take this free pass to murder. Leave a dotted line of bodies on the road through Bucha. Leave trenches full of bodies you don’t cover with dirt. Leave chalk white hands in cable ties behind the backs of the dead. Leave a closed hand, nails red with polish and blood. Exchange your coupon for a slashed throat, a cut-off leg, a raped woman trashed by the road. Leave.

“They kill us for their sport.” Take this coupon for a dead hen, a toy for your son, an appliance for your wife, then load them on your armored personnel carrier. Don’t worry about intercepts; they already know what you’re doing.

A boy died in a basement because he caught pneumonia. An old woman shows a reporter how to get down her ladder into the the dark hold of her house. What they can’t see they can still bomb, because bombs have such amazing eyes.

Is that photograph voyeuristic, we wonder about a shot of a man on a lanai, looking at his phone? The model said yes, so our gaze at her naked body isn’t. You can’t exit a cliché without knowing its number. One student ate seven cookies; he counted them.

Desire to release the day’s news, to internalize my feelings in objects I see go by, as in a Chagall painting, flying like a dog in air in a bathroom on a wall. To take the bells and put them inside my chest, to pull their ropes and fill the cave with a sound at once hollow and dense. To make myself a bell and toll for every nerve ending’s complaint. After you complain, you become The Complainer. After you take a photograph of the homeless man bent beneath his pack, he becomes The Pilgrim. What is real doesn’t stay that way, or at least what looks real. On Kapahulu, they push their shopping carts toward the sea from under the freeway. In the morning, they retreat up the avenue, while at night they surge back toward Waikiki. They keep our time. Next to Zippy’s, a man lies partly shaded by a large umbrella leaning on the ground; he lies on a towel, and reads a book. Shall we call this the academic dream?

The war’s a metronome, like dementia. It clicks away in the corner to the tune of my keyboard, accreting words, if not their meaning. From a drone’s eye view, much of Bucha’s completely destroyed, except for the central cathedral. In Cambodia, the poorest villages have built gold-leafed temples. Worship what’s left behind, which is worship’s vestige.

An engine starts outside my townhouse. The contemplative life of a machine is noisy and stinky. Many days, I suspect mine is too. How do I act as witness to suffering I feel only as reflected light, pointed toward the subject, a small bunny doll used as sacrifice to an educational power point? My whole life has been an appropriation. My skin is a sieve through which it flows, and in that sluice I find pieces of us. A poet, wrote Borges, is a person who believes her metaphors are true.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

A Note from the Meek


3 April 2022

Contemplation and power are connected, like freeway spaghetti, fly-overs whose destination you can only guess, though you keep your foot on the pedal; when you get to the other side, you’re still lost, but at least not racing through air like a lost pilot. I have time this morning to look at photographs of the dead in Bucha. Men in drab brown pants, their hands tied behind their backs, lying on hard concrete. Dead women in trenches. (Flashback to previous massacre.) A man in a well, sunken. Death isn’t sleep, because damaged objects don’t rest. They’re scattered as trash in a now liberated city, amid the grinning skulls of apartment buildings. Dwell on that.

Take an inventory of your responses. None of them has currency; they’re as starved as the ruble. Feelings trapped in a container, the air going out of it. Perverse squash court of anger, disgust, nausea. None of it a whit of good to them. Say your mantras, John told me; they work. I’d say now they work at rather than on. I can’t push them hard enough to get them to Kyiv. And pushing is precisely the wrong tack.

Nine people shot in Sacramento, more in Texas. Tomorrow the day MLK was shot dead on the balcony of a motel. Lorraine. I remember the name, and that of his assassin. What’s memory for? It’s this iteration that involves me. I hold to it, try to let it go, fail, then assume the burden of simply watching. Watch it, watch out, watch for. In the sitcom, Zelensky regards a watch Putin wears and turns his back on it.

The wind is up in Ahuimanu. Maeve stalks something on the deck. She sniffed my armpits in the night. No perfume, Walt, sorry. It’s the stink of post-modernity, or post-post, or late late capitalism. It’s my comfort, sitting in this chair like someone in a Stevens poem, reading. We refuse to speak the cause of a poet’s death. We abhor the president’s words against Putin. How do we mediate silence, when we talk our way out of conflict? Conflict makes you smarter, I saw somewhere.

The rose is no more beautiful than the rust on an old container in a field. We can cut a rose, but not a band of rust. We can buy a canvas, but not sheet metal anchored to earth. We can see the rust, the rose, the dead bodies in the street, their geometries turned this way and that, face down, bodies bent as if posed. Neither my anger nor my grief reaches that street, though it may touch my screen. The screen is a way in, but also a walling out. One poet cites another poet on yet another poet and we’re reassured by the echoes. We think of them as wisdom.

Dear Y, who tweets from Ukraine. Your window view turns white with snow. Your voice alludes to massacres. Your tweets have made a community of the meek. We’d better inherit this earth.