Poems by year: 2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000 
By series: Bridge St  In Yr Ear  Ruthless Grip

New Years

THE MINUTE FLAGS--if you can't see them they're not on your mind; the ambiguous syntax adds misery to the mix as the students interpret under the gun. 30 seconds later, every inch of the sky and skull having shifted slightly (orchestrated or improvised, who can tell?), the trigger's squeezed. My army of sane people never appears. It remains in my museums. We were forced to march up the wall behind the television. If I return and insert what I mean for what I meant I'm still wrong. Backtrack and insert before "30 seconds later" the following: "What does it take to keep a thought aloft for more than a moment?" Better yet, go to page 139 of Who's Who in Classical Mythology, where Circe changes Picus, "a pure Roman deity . . . an ancient prophet and forest god," into a balloon animal as vengeance for playing her off. A woodpecker. In early times his figure consisted of a wooden pillar with a woodpecker on it, which was afterwards exchanged for a figure of a youth with a woodpecker on his head. I can relate. I'm a woodpecker. And I have one on my head.

I DECIDED TO WORK. It wasn't easy. There were no instructions. Apartment blocks edged in navy blue. In one window, la fille sat in silhouette. Down the street the transmitters hummed; up the street the garbage truck downshifted as it hit the hill. Lightning's within, hidden. Sealed peals of thunder slipped out like dreamt letters, piling up in the corner and dispelling behind my back. Where they go, nobody knows. The microwave relay station has the benevolent look of a Dutch windmill farm. The moonfaced boy opposite me on the R train reads The Art of War. He'd like to think, but I'm doing it for him. Malevolence is a matter of time. A blind violinist lurches our way. I could dig for change, but it doesn't make sense under the circumstances, a moment of judgment where everything freezes and what we have and what we're doing is what we've had and what we've done. The Art of War, starring the Hardy Boys.

"SPEAK TO THE DIAGRAM," holding up the user flow. We were staking out the House of Large Sizes, watching the fat men come and go. Worsted words--big as houses.

BANDS LEAD STRAIGHT TO OTHER BANDS. Surprise endings are rare. The expression of need many times can convey, in subtle, not too clearly understood terms, the desires of the patient--the demand for a pill, a drug, a massage, another examination. If we drink we still think, and we wake up in the morning, or we stay out all night long. The righteous path straight as an arrow. (That's not me.)

I'M WORRIED ABOUT CUSTOMS though I have nothing to hide. An F-16 in the movie, and another one outside the window, hiding in the sun. In the movie, the pilot's lover is crazy with fear and grief. The real F-16 doesn't appear to be moving. Waiting to make a move? And the marshals' dull conversation? Too nervous to read.

BY "MY PLEASURE" I mean trying to imagine "an animate still-life." Contradiction can make people bloom or it can kill them. The internal heat spike, the chemical release and transformation have us on our knees, gasping for air. No transition, just juxtaposition; a now/then differential engine. Clear the Range Finder. We aren't exactly where we want to be. It drives the car, which is the only way to get there, they say. There's an access road off the old highway into Mark Twain National Forest. The quarry is a perfect cube.

A MACEDONIAN VENETIAN BLINDS SALESMAN in Boston. Banana by potato masher on the kitchen counter. Color judging then dispelling. Lightning bug, laundry; "a perfectible sky" sprouts unrepressed blue exhaustible star-crossed life. Scattered answer walls pop up. Intelligent encouragement must suggest locations. Wake painting. Revolt against alphabetical order. Perhaps these thoughts are shibboleths, as I myself suggested to you in the dream of the stream and the cornfield fire. We were meeting in the tree house to plot our escape from wage slavery at the pencil testing facility. We didn't know enough to keep the new kid away and he kept coming back.... He turned out to be one of them. The fire was set to smoke us out, but we were able to jump into the stream and evade the hounds and the flames. But we couldn't shake the new kid. How I ended up alone in a Kum & Go buying a Slurpee at four a.m. remains a mystery for the ages. But it worked, and I woke without physical harm, though I experienced the usual guilt for having lost you in the confusion. It's a gift, if I unwrap it right, that redeems lost time, though not without pain.