Things I inadvertently learned from her about myself and this poem.

Never give someone space before they’ve asked for it.

Never trust someone when I don’t know their intentions.

Never have sex with someone before I know their intentions.

It is impossible to know someone’s true intentions.

Never trust my own impression of someone’s intentions.

I should not trust someone who doesn’t make time to communicate.

(Even if they are busy, if something is important to me, it should be important to them.)

It is harder to write funny poems than serious ones after a breakup.

It is hard to make a serious poem funny.

Poems without imagery are dumb.

reflections on marble

As always, I assumed
my poems were the best ever written.

Then I saw the reflection of white clouds
in a marble floor, while the sound of a fountain
–water excited by white– accelerated time
and the clouds, moving inches at once
toward my seldom polished shoes
were like fat round soldiers at march.
The sun dipped behind one of them
and the entire day drowned for a minute.

Of course my poems were shit.
They always had been.

chosing a poem

Here’s how I’m doing this, chosing.
Flipping pages at random
until I find one that resonates.

But what book?
Whose pages, lines, words?
Neruda? Oliver? Paz?

As I scoop the cat litter,
I think of them all at once
then each in turn.
They are like friends from different parts of my life–
faceless, I know them.

We need cat food and the cats will go without until tomorrow.

Oliver wins.
I open New and Selected Poems,
beginning at the beginning.
(So much for random.)
One poem in, I’m enchanted.

Second poem,
I think about going back to the first,
but the third… is more… I think… me.

When Death Comes
On page ten–cross reference the index–
This poem is four years old
or less!

But it is imageless, or nearly so,
and the emotion is not the same on second read.

So I continue,
nevermind “an iceburg between the shoulder blades”,
I continue.

So much nature in Oliver. So many poems later,
I return to the beginning of the book.

Rain still patters on my rooftop even though
I normally don’t go for multi-page poems.
It starts on page three with
lightning, “When it hit the tree, her body/opened forever.”

And then prisoners escape, and her father stands
next to the grave of his brother.
His stanza is powerful, then
the teacher’s birthday, then
the fifth stanza, two lines,
“I have heard this music before,/saith the body.”

The body. Saith.
So non-colloquial. So uncharacteristic.
I cringe, remember,
how I had first thought this her early work,
on first read.
But less than four years old!
Well past her pulitzer.

Maybe she knows a thing or two.

And the poem ends on page seven
after drowning in images and images and images
after I remember thinking
the snake is a cleche in poetry.
The conclusion:
“He begins to bleed through/like satin.”
It floors me.
And I’m spent.

Monitor this,

god comes bundled with spyware,
and just like every other self-proclaimed “freeware”,
is no more open source
than Microsoft’s latest OS.

(Never mind the guiltware, nagware
adware and/or crippleware
climbing over the pews
clutching at the spines of
Earth’s first virus.)

That old tome is precompiled
to hide its true architecture.
They want you to run it without inspection
close to your firmware: “Click here
to always trust software from…”

We’re all just spinning
what our motherboards were spinning.
Garbage in, garbage out.

I don’t believe it’s in our bios
to just blindly run
every little command-line commandment
because ‘It’s from the source itself!’

We were meant to edit our own code,
tweak all those jumper settings and
replace a chip or two when they’re cracked.
We just have to take that first step,
open up, and show everyone what we’re made of.

soda pop wisdom

smoky water,
casts a translucent table shadow
ice cubes look like x-rays
round miniature jellyfish
let go of the sides of the glass
rising desperate and fast
to a surface quick, cold
glass with ice, bubbles

novel plot haikus

Inspired by this thread over at the nanowrimo forums, I wrote a couple of haikus about my novel today. Reprinted here for posterity:

tides of memory
assassins waiting in wings
truth revealed in dream

cybernetic brains
the smell conspiracy brings
run from everything


Poetry is fluid,
wet stuff, but hot.
My poetry is lost to me
the way liquid pours from volcanoes.
Once written, it hardens,
fleeing from my memory.
I can see the shapes of words I once knew,
but their meanings are rocks,
and I cannot penetrate them
without breaking them all apart.

self reflection in prose poetry

Inspired by DrBombay’s new Bombay Thoughts

Is every prose poem a stream of consciousness, or just this one? And do all streams of consciousness really just flow in a big circle back to talking about consciousness and/or writing about consciousness, or anyway being conscious of the fact that you’re writing, which is damn near writing about consciousness, because the written word is really just consciousness commodified and collected on paper, or screen, or wherever it happens to be, in the same way playing the piano is really just music commodified or collected or something. There’s a word here that means what I’m trying to say, but I can’t think of it just now, and I hate when I can’t think of words because it’s like a part of my brain is malfunctioning. That happens probably a lot more often than I care to admit, my brain malfunctioning, and words not coming to the top of my head when I want them to come out of the top of my head is really just some kind of malfunctioning byproduct. I’m like the top-of-the-headless horseman when it comes to words and remembering them. If this weren’t stream of consciousness, I’d stop to think of the word. Probably stop for a long time, and by the end of it, I’d have found the word, but it wouldn’t seem quite right. It would still seem like there was a word out there just a little bit better than the one I’d finally remembered, and I would still be unsatisfied, dreaming of a word that was just a little more perfect like some kind of deja vu for words.

Post it note poetry

Ode to Sharpie

thick black marker
perchance to pen in permanent
perpetual ink
shiny surface stealer
staying true to your words
words staying true to you


Instance Poem

Life is one long poem
beginning to end
verse after tedious verse;
each thing we write
a small instance
of a larger poetic picture.


post it note poetry

Sticky side down
short and yellow, little
reminders, remembrances.
Placement is key, put them
where a poem is
least likely, where
words can surprise.