...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Jordan Davis

"A lot of what I was taught to call good writing turns out to be performing the indifference of the truly wealthy."

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

46. Some Stanzas Written on Holy Saturday

It’s quiet. Doors are shut against the noise
of planes overhead.
The house without the sound of boys
proclaims our lord
is dead.


A woman I know explained she worked in a home
for disabled men.
As if it were a catacomb,
they stayed inside
their den.


We wait and weep, how long we cannot say--
Except that the term
demands we hope and try to pray
for what we can’t

Friday, March 25, 2016

45. Hiking Good Friday, White Point Nature Preserve

We took the dog and let her off the leash,
keeping her on the trail with a word,
and a snack when necessary. When we reached
at the top of the slope the bunkers built against
the Japanese, and since abandoned but shut against
hikers, we looked down toward the Pacific,
Catalina Island’s middle covered in cloud, and didn’t think
about any invaders. I worried about ground nests
and keeping the dog close by, keeping her away
from mischief and the sight of volunteers.
When we reached again the flats we leashed her.
We saw the sprinklers arrayed on either side of the path.
One of my boys asked Why, in a nature preserve.
To create more diversity of habitat in the space.
There used to be more land, and now you goose
what you’ve got to support more than it would
without human help. That’s what I think,
I said. We later watched Selma, after dinner,
and when a white state trooper shoots a black man,
a peaceful protestor, in a diner where he’s fled,
my son asked, They could just do that?
They could, I said. Some still do. I don’t know
why, but in my mind the fact of those sprinklers
and what my son learned people do and did
to each other for no good reason are linked.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

44. Written on Maundy Thursday

Then troubled Jesus dips the bread in wine,
gives it to Judas,
who takes it and becomes a sign,
then leaves without
a kiss.

The camera stays within the room as Jesus
coughs before he speaks.
Downstairs, Judas hears it and freezes:
the floor above
him creaks.

None of this happened, or all of it did.
The story I tell
is Judas after being fed
is struck like a sil-
ent bell.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

43. Some Questions About John's Version of the Last Supper

Jesus told Peter who it was would betray him:
the one to whom Jesus gave bread dipped in wine.

He handed it to Judas and told him to act quickly 
and nobody there knew why, not even Peter,

who'd just asked and just been told, and saw it.
Judas accepted from Jesus the bread, and

Satan entered him, as if the bread were a lock 
on a door; then Judas left the room.

How does Peter not know what's going on? 
Why is this action, of Jesus giving Judas

wine-dipped bread and telling him to go,
and Judas obeying, the thing that leads Jesus to say, 

"Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God has been
glorified in him"? Why is bread and wine

in this instance catalyst for betrayal and self-
hatred? Why is that the revealer of glory? 

What makes it glorious to give gifts used against you? 
Is that an example of love? 

What if the gift was given in order to be 
used against you? Is the receiver culpable still?

Is the story meant to teach me a lesson?
Is it meant to enlarge the heart or make it well,

or poison it?  Does it depend who the receiver of it is? 
Is the point of the sequence to show the hearer

what he's hearing is mystery, a method of 
showing him how much he will not know?

Is the last question description or judgment?
Is there a difference? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

42. Bran

Bran, also known as miller's bran,
is the hard outer layers of cereal
grain. It, along with germ, is an integral
part of whole grains, often produced in milling
refined grains. Take the bran out of the grains
and they lose their nutritional cachet.
Bran may be milled from any cereal--
rice corn (maize) wheat oats millet barley.
Bran should not be confused with chaff, the coarse,
scaly material surrounding grain,
but not forming a part of the grain itself.

[words mostly lifted from]

41. Meant for Monday, Written on Tuesday

I meant to write this on the Monday
Of Holy Week. I meant to write a hymn,

Or a psalm, perhaps of thanks,
In the midst of displacement, as I had come

To work that morning to a new office
After fourteen years in the same office;

And now I had a window that opened
And I heard while I worked birds and trucks

And not the white noise of the sound
Dampener and A/C I'd grown used to;

I meant to write the day before yet more 
Hideous violence, widely reported, occurred

And more unreported hideous violence
Occurred; the day before a day I learned

I’d not get as much done as I objectively know 
I won't; and that

Whatever commitment to practice
I have I hope’s not worthless,

Is instead like what my son,
Who’s been studying weather

In his science class, yesterday said
Weather is caused by: Any little thing.   


not centuries.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

40. Capable

I feel capable: the ball just went through 
the hoop, from fifteen feet, just as the car 

I drove went through the plate glass 
below a sign for “The Net CafĂ©.”  

There I first learned, electronically,
you were leaving me, and the wave of rage

tailing me to my vehicle gave me strength
to follow through on the will to destroy.

I drank so many coffees in that place.
It’s hoops in the jailhouse, now,

as the song goes, where some days
in the yard a fierce wind blows ,

and the ball aimed at the rim 
is carried left or right by the unseen hand 

of geothermal dynamics. 
I’ve been reading here. The library’s free.

Since I slept through most of college, 
I thought I’d catch up. About feeling capable 

is where this began, and my jumper’s begun
even in wind to go where it’s meant to,

most of the time. I’ve never felt so good
as when I shoot the ball and it’s left my hand,

and I simply know. You’d be impressed,
with the feeling, if not the feat.

Friday, March 18, 2016

39. The Same Principle

Water in the ocean, water in the sky
are by the same principle refracted.
Density and location change their hue.
What else is new?

The water in the ocean and the water in the sky
are by the same principle both refracted,
but density and location change their hue.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s true.

We believe you.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

38. Burt Reynolds is in Pain

On Colbert,
he hadn't walked out.

Post-commercial, instead,
he was chaired

beside the host.
I think he said

he was in pain.
He looked it.

Colbert paid him a compliment.
Burt looked like a man

who sees what's coming,
his nerves signs,

will over brain's
advantage long gone.

He knows it. He knows
he was the bandit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

37. The Affluent West and the Current Situation

  1. Art responding to a condition that may also be described as ‘postinternet’ – when the internet is less a novelty and more a banality. 
  1. What Guthrie Lonergan described as ‘internet aware’ – or when the photo of the art object is more widely dispersed than the object itself."

The numbering of the items above is wrong.
Or maybe the numbering is finally right.

In the list from which these items come,
these two are listed as three and four,

and they both now here are number one.
I cut and pasted them as they were.

The platform transformed them in process.
They both may be from a certain view

number one. There are few things
culturally truer one could say of the

affluent west and the current situation
than number 1, above, or number 1, above.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

36. In a Morning

In a morning muted and held by fog, 
the bike path unrolled before me
in a dull, black streak over gray sand,

its weak reflection diffused by moisture.
Runners and cyclists approached and passed
like visitors on the ramp of heaven,

ghosts unaware unless pleaded to
by gesture and shout. Plugged in, they move
in periphery to sounds I can’t hear.

"I've got a feeling"

Monday, March 14, 2016

"If it be your will"

35. The Wave

The wave a moving gray ridge
Curve from the gray horizon
And pelicans, gray too, glide just
Over its forward slope sight I
Never tire of from the water
Where I am waiting for the wave
That working with with my board
Will lift my weight from me as well
For some seconds to forget it and
Then part of the deal give it back.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

33. Version of a Later Poem

What I want to see is, besides your legs
unsheathed from those jeans you wear
everyday, I want to see that, of course,
is a bear in the wild attacking a beehive.

Friday, March 11, 2016

32. Sighting an Octopus While Walking in the Estuary

I keep my head turned
toward the water, to watch

fish—minnows and mullet,
mostly. I saw a small group

of jellyfish, pulsating ghosts
leaning in the direction they swam.

I saw, moving parallel with me
what looked like a fleshy rocket

propelled through the water.
It turned and jetted straight

to where I watched, two feet
from the edge, stopped,

swung what trailed it to its front
in my direction, and opened

an array of tentacles it used
in eight inches’ depth to walk

along the bottom—to be near me?
To regard me? It jetted away

after a few. There was trash
in the water. Always is.

I want that little thing to live.  
A skimmer flew by with its

mandible making a wake in
the surface like a waterski.

31. "Temecula Sunrise"

I live in a new construction home
         A strange way to put it. Like the language is new
         to the singer. This is a reference to the recent growth
         of Eastern San Diego County.
I live on the strip behind the dealership, yeah
         Proximity of centers of commerce to tracts
         of new homes. Typical SoCal.
I live in a greenhouse and I am getting wasted, yeah
         May be a sun porch? If it's one of the new homes
         I have a hard time seeing how you'd fit a greenhouse
         in its yard, which usually comprises little more than
         a tiled patio under a latticed patio cover.
         Maybe the greenhouse is metaphorical.
         I don't think the wasted is, as his rock'n'roll
         'yeah' seems to indicate, or maybe he doth
         proclaimeth too much?
Temperature rising
         It does get hot out there off I-15 (the 15, we'd say), 
         and if you're in a greenhouse, then, yeah,
         you'd be hot.
I can feel it all the way down
         The heat, I imagine.
And what hits the spot, yeah, like Gatorade?
         Sure, I guess. How old are you?
You and me baby, hitting' the spot all night
          Well, now it's getting a little sexy. 
          Keep in mind, baby, that he's comparing
          sex with you to drinking Gatorade.

Up in the light of the high Temecula sunrise
          I've listened to the song many times and have
          not ever considered that the word "high"
          precedes "Temecula sunrise" in the chorus.
          It sounds like David Longstreth, Amber
          Coffman and Angel Deradoorian were
          singing, "Ahh!" as in "Ahh! Temecula
High Temecula sunrise
High Temecula sunrise

Definitely you can come and live with us
         That's a strange line, syntactically, for
         a song. It doesn't scan. Who's the "us"?
         I assume the singer's family. He's a teenager,
         maybe (loves his Gatorade), or at least he
         lives at home. This is a nice 21st C. update
         of "Wouldn't It Be Nice," which dreams of
         growing up into a picture of marriage but here
         is about living on in new love with the parents
         and, one hopes, an obnoxious younger sibling.
I know there's a space for you in the basement, yeah
         Loves that "yeah." Also, this song is written by
         an East Coaster, clearly. There are no basements
         in Temecula "new construction homes."
All you gotta do is help out with the chores and dishes
         Because my parents say so!
And I know you will
         Ok. These lyrics are bonkers!
Rest assured, comfortable
You have nothing 
The face of earth will be white
          This line, too, I've never picked up while listening
          to the song.
And after all, yeah, all of it
          This line must go with the next one?
Indian paintbrush and a couple of brown finches
          This is starting to feel like college poetry…
Right there in the light of the high Temecula sunrise
High Temecula sunrise
High Temecula sunrise

I welcome the new construction roads
           This line makes no sense.
I see that my silhouette is golden, yeah
           Against the hills? Wouldn't it be darker?
I know the horizon is bright and motionless
           Another strange line for a song.
Like an EKG of a dying woman
           Too much! This simile is too much! 
           The tenor and the vehicle are too much
           at odds with each other. 

Far away from the light of the high Temecula sunrise
High Temecula sunrise
High Temecula sunrise
          The chorus is, and the song is, too, 
          sonically resplendent. Perhaps Longstreth is
          going for what Malkmus claims he's making:
          an inviting and compelling sound package. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016


World of Tomorrow, by Don Hertzfeldt.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

30. Quick Poem

The sweet science and the dismal science
and the science of sleep and of getting rich
and of Interstellar and of love (these last four,
four sides of a six-sided cube; two sides
blank; I don't know why) are all sciences
I have mastered knowing just enough about
to say something about during job interviews
that will either get me hired or shown the door,
or, perhaps, it may be, a second interview.
I got one of these once and was told by my
connection at the firm to next time be sure
to wear a tie. It had come up after my interview
during small talk with the HR rep I had met with,
so my connection told me, so I was sure next time,
at the second interview, to wear one. I didn't get
the job, obviously. Why, I'm still here, aren't I?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

29. Who sinned

The disciples said to Jesus about the blind man they saw,

Who sinned, this man or his parents?

Jesus said, Neither. Affliction is not reason for blame.

Affliction can be thought of as an opening.

Take this dirt, he said, for an example.

He reached down and scooped some up.

What is this? he asked.

It is dirt, they said. It's nothing. Occupied. Cursed.

It is, he said. And it's like your question--common, everywhere.

And he spit in it and made it wet
and rubbed it on the blind man's eyes
and told him to wash in a pool called Sent.

The man did and then he could see.

The mud in Jesus' hand was not collected and venerated.

What was it? It was nothing, in itself, new.

It was mud, made from dirt and human spit.

It was an opening--common, everywhere.

Monday, March 7, 2016

28. Your Proximity

When I rode with you on the Zipper
my mind swung on two thoughts:

the cotter pin my eye could see
when our cage spun by it,

and your proximity.
I thought I might die.

The pin jumped and turned
to the sound of the ride,

which looked from afar
like a massive chainsaw lit up

by the sun and sounded from
within like one. The pin said

Carny, it said mechanical failure,
it said A horrific scene tonight

at the San Clemente Fiesta
as carnivalgoers witnessed

a popular ride implode.
I thought of twilight sleep,

the hypnic jerk that insists
you’re about to fall and now

you’re falling. You being near me
tried to muscle in on this sad dance.

I’d remember I’m on the ride
with you, who wore clothes

that seemed to fit like they should,
who spoke with a hint of what

I’d later discover is transatlantic
accent, who was not scared by

any discernible measure, by no
shaky pin, nor by my presence,

nor my puking just outside the cage,
nor years of terrible news

sent invisibly in waves and wires
and decay and lust and weather.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

27. Rest

[Photo taken by Chris Rasmussen]

26. Words

concrete patio glass door
concrete wall runs

perpendicular to the door
framed by the door

the top of the wall
perhaps three feet tall

makes horizontal vectors in
the bottom quarter of the picture

another line black and thick
is the bar to open the door

at the top a cover  
over the door (the door

is from outside in
an alcove) the same color

another line two feet
from the top

inches from the right edge
a vertical line

of bricks
means a wall

off the patio
frame within a frame

of roof of brick
of two parallel concrete lines 

of an intensity of leaves
branches and tangle of thin sticks

some splashes of
brown leaves in clusters

cascading but frozen
like a photograph a waterfall

with glimpses to trees beyond
it and shapes belonging to

cars in a lot 
the tree or trees

are framed i wish a painter
would paint that

a tree its leaves
swirling pulled down

in gravity a water fall
order many clean lines

so much is wild
the door is in a chapel

i'm on a pew
on the glass of the door is glass

reflected from the door opposite
rectangle of light within rectangle of light

'vault after vault opened endlessly'
i am trying

a green waterfall
an observation deck 

an invitation
come feel the spray

hear the rushing 
look over the edge

where water is pulled
an image a photograph

Friday, March 4, 2016

25. difficulty of using words

the concrete patio outside the glass door
ends at a concrete wall that runs

perpendicular to the door
framed by the door the patio edge

and the line at the top of the wall
perhaps three feet tall

make two horizontal vectors in
the bottom quarter of the picture

another horizontal line black and thick
is the bar for pushing open the door

and at the top a cover extending from
the building over the door (the door

is from the outside approached in
an alcove) is the same concrete color

marks another horizontal line two feet
from the top of the frame

on the right inches from the right edge
is a vertical line containing to its right

all the way to the frame bricks
means a brick wall when you

exit the door onto the patio toward the wall
this frame within the frame of the door

consisting of a roof line a brick line
and two parallel concrete lines (the wall)

frames an intensity of leaves and
branches and brown tangle of thin sticks

and some splashes like infection
brown leaves in clusters or perhaps

coloring on fur all cascading but frozen
like a photograph of a waterfall

with glimpses through to trees beyond
it and shapes (white mostly) belonging to

cars in the lot i know that's there
the tree or trees only part of them

is framed i wish i was a painter
i would paint that i'm trying

it's what a tree is its leaves and
branches swirling as pulled down

in gravity a water fall for real
so much order so many clean lines

surrounding so much that is wild
and ordered the door is in a chapel

i'm on a pew
reflected on the glass of the door is glass

from the door opposite behind me
a light rectangle within the larger frame

i am trying to describe a green waterfall
an observation deck a door inviting

the viewer to come feel the spray
hear the rushing a look over the edge

into where the water is pulled
an image of it a photograph

Thursday, March 3, 2016

24. Placeholder

The placemat's a frame for the plate,
centered before the chair, meant
for the person who will eat there.

The folded napkin frames the fork.
The table frames the four placemats
along with the dish of food in the center,

as well as the salt and the pepper.
The floor frames the table, the walls
frame the floor, the property line,

the house. Various agents--people,
dogs, insects, microbes--incur
and decamp from what frames

them, some of what frames them,
not everything, of course.
They wouldn't. They can't.

No words

"This is a milestone moment for our species. Climate change deserves our greatest possible attention."

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

23. London Has Fallen

One of the worst action movies in memory:
Arab evildoers try to shoot Marine One

out of the air, Gerard Butler knifes
a faceless goon, it dog-whistles sadism

without notes of camp.
This dumpster of xenophobia

(brown people are scary!)
conflated with murky, inane chases,

laughable special effects, and
mismatched stock footage shots

begs to be made into a drinking game.
Good at absolutely nothing,

its aesthetic is cut-rate anonymity,
direct-to-video movies and crappy TV.

Overqualified supporting actors
sound like garbage—“Jesus, Mike! 

Did you have to kill that guy?”
—and trudge on, indifferently framed.

[all words from Ignativ Vishnevetsky's "F"-graded  review of London Has Fallen, in the AV Club]

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

22. The Problem

                   March 1, 2016

I woke up this morning to fog.
The coffee was already brewing.
I made breakfast and helped make
lunch for the kids. My car broke,
so my wife drove me to work.
The sun came out. I drank some
more coffee. I made three documents
and submitted two. The sun
stayed out, and I went to an office
to return some things. My wife
picked me up from work and 
we drove home and talked about 
the kids and school and what 
leftovers in the fridge we might
eat for dinner. I didn't listen to
the radio. I went to a meeting
to meet a friend, to talk some
things out. I came home and walked
the dog. I washed the dishes.
I completed some work I wished
I could have done earlier.
I wasted time by clicking
a couple of news sites. I saw
the problem. It's been a problem
and still is. And will be. 
None of what I've done today
makes a difference to anyone
who is suffering and will suffer 
because of what's plain to anyone 
who can see. The sun will come out 
again tomorrow, the forecast says, 
after morning fog burns off. Look.