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Sunday, 19 September 2021

Sometimes I Would Sit

sometimes I would sit 
out in the field
in early autumn
and for a long while
not do anything
except imagine her walking 
towards me 
tall and sure and gentle
my eye’s closed
I’d see her at the field’s edge 
drawing near, intent
crossing the tall grass without a sound
standing over me
her presence
just two, three feet away
her shadow on my cheek
her eyes on my eyelids
she’s found me
she’s brought nothing but herself
and I’m nothing but myself
and we are silent together
really here
until even opening my eyes
would not send her away

Monday, 6 September 2021

Hurricane Ida, 2021

Autumn. The waterfall
in Prospect Park I sometimes
can’t find. The pond
like a drain stopped 
with leaves and branches.
Tu Fu’s poems open
on my lap, but I read only
three or four at a time.
Why do I ration?
There is infinite hope
and infinite despair.
Last week a hurricane
tore through here,
drowning dozens in
basements and cars.
The waters have receded,
but they will come again
worse. I sit for a long 
while on this stone.
I’m already tired, and things 
have just begun.
Below me, a turtle 
sends up bubbles. 
Sunlight strikes the water. 
Shadows deepen, and 
that glow lifts 
that makes me yearn 
for the kingdom of heaven.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

I Snuck Into the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

snuck into the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
I hope I’ll be forgiven 
I did not ask to be poor

or to want so badly to gaze 
on the wet galaxy of spiderwebs 
atop the Heart-leaved Groundsel
by the brook

there’s a mystery here
I’m not even trying to solve

the Shining Sumac
the Gray Goldenrod
the Toadshade
and the Pawpaw tree’s stiff fruit

nothing here has eyes
no face to turn toward me
and no face to turn away 

the Great Blue Lobelia
tall as a woman giving orders
is perfectly silent
a mouth closed tight on the key

hard to believe 
but the Long-stalked Astor
really wants nothing 
I could empty my bank account 
and still 
it wouldn’t be 
any more or less my friend 

we’re just here 
unable to fuck it up

and ah this Scarlet Oak
with its kingdom 
of Virginia ryegrass
tell me the truth now 

the summer is hot
the city is loud
and I know you can’t free me from pain
but tell me, Scarlet Oak

I can take it

tell me the reason
I do not shine with a love 
so unconditional 
it draws hordes into my orbit
to bask


How about this. How about you live, and I live, and you let me get obsessed with God and I let you get obsessed with this universe and the extraordinary god-sized explanation you’re always on about. And how about you never mock me for my obsession, and I never pooh-pooh yours. How about we just see what happens. Just live and see. Even double-down on it, like some sort of crazy experiment. And, years from now, when we’ve both really entered our lives, let’s not just forget each other. Let’s keep an eye out. Who knows, maybe we’ll catch a tantalizing glimpse from afar. I’m serious. If you see me doing something that makes you stop and go, What now?, in a way that makes you just a little more awake, I want to know. Ask me about it! Promise you’ll ask and not just shrug and make something up in your head. And I promise the same thing: if you do something that stirs my depths, something that makes me go, Ah! Ah!, then—I swear it—I’ll get up from wherever I am, go over to you and say, Tell me. Agreed? This may never happen of course. It’s just as possible the two of us never again enter the slim bright circle of each others’ attention, and we have to account for that. Maybe, even, we end up longing for each other, looking high and low, only to find that our paths have brought us so far apart we are practically at separate ends of the universe and there’s no hope of contact. Wouldn’t that be just too terribly sad? They say all seekers are climbing different sides of the same mountain, but we just don’t know. Well. If one moonless night you or I look up from a hungering solitude and begin to bleat like lost sheep for a way out, a way to undo the whole huge implacable work of time, remember: we wanted to give each other something. A gift of morning hope. We wanted to share honey of the spirit, we wanted to lead to each others’ doorsteps whole cavalcades of beautiful monsters praising the midnight sun. That’s right. We wanted to show everyone how in the heart lives a gratitude the exact shape of the shapeless world, and so we made a pact. A pact that would run deeper than all loneliness, a pact that would bring us back from even the farthest reaches of the fifth dimension, this pact, this one awesome ongoing madness that we share.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Climbing the Holy Mountains

these are the mountains 
so holy
their slopes are felt
as the difficulty of our days

near base camp
never straying far  
Wang Wei enjoys the sun’s color
on the larches

it is peaceful
from far off you can hear
restling his great lifelong angel

but I am looking for Traherne

likely off in some meadow
rolling around

I climb

what strange hills 
you can watch Tranströmer
despite everyone telling him not to
trade everything 
for a stone

and who is this anonymous
female poet
keeping a bird
in her pocket
made of ruby
o my god

I’m not sure how far it’s safe to go

half-way up
Bukowski’s eating roses
Hölderlin is piss-drunk
and Keats and Shelley are whistling
over top each other 

while Bashō
calmly watches from his hut,
playing his game of don’t-blink-first
with the world

I think

o Traherne! where are you?
suddenly Jack Gilbert 
steps out of the shadows 
challenges Bashō to a fight and
immediately begins
to weep

turns out
it was Rumi 
hiding as a bird in her pocket 

don’t you know?
don’t you know it yet?

Emily Dickinson,
muttering secrets into the ears
of tulips

Ammons, struggling to make himself
a colon

higher still
a shriek—Sappho
have you climbed up and thrown yourself 
off a cliff
just to punctuate 
a sentence?

this is no joke
something is happening
and everyone who even begins
to think 
is already onto it

Li Po dreams of it but he’s soon 
chased away
by the same Blasting Rod 
that drove Adam and Eve 
from the garden

Anne Carson 
tries to touch it
by punching a hole in space-time
and reaching an arm through
but accidentally
hits the switch and—



now the only sound is George Herbert’s

someone elbows me
Blake? Yeats? Hopkins?


there you are 
you don’t know me but 
I know 
your deepest secret

looks like 
it may be our only food for the night
if anyone knows how to cook?

for a moment I think it’s a monster
but it’s Hafiz!
Hafiz is not afraid!
Hafiz holds a match and


now all the poets are gathered round 
stomachs sated in the dark
and in that lull that could fit any story
and in that group that could ponder any question
I ask

has anyone ever got to the top?

a silence 
so profound
you could hear a petal 
all the way 
to the basement of your soul

then laughter

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Trying Again

yes there is 
a solid core of unthink-
ability at the heart of existence

     I like to place my hand on it
     like a sleeping dog
     and call it

since that one day I noticed the quickened light 
on the back of the dragonfly
and, after trying to put my whole being 
upon it like some magic carpet,
slipped off

     o mind 

it takes us so far away
from body
I can almost feel it again,
almost hear all Heaven 
screaming from her eyes,
almost answer, even,
the perennial question

     does the flavor
     of the taco
     exposed to rays of thought?

I beamed Wittgenstein back upon the sunset
and the sunset won

took my soul
with long fingers,

Monday, 11 May 2020

The Stroll

It was pleasant at first. 
The new leaves
were the size of eyelids
and there was sun.

Then, all of a sudden, 
he felt so utterly alone.