New Poems

When I am Gone

Come in my house
as if an errant ghost.

Ruffle my sheets,
unmake my tidy bed.

Take one framed piece
that I might miss the most.

Hang up each thing
in my closet out of order.

Water my plants,
while caressing every petal.

Burn all my files,
but especially my poems.

Turn all the lights on
when the night gets dark.

Go through the back door
in my least-worn boots.

Tell Mabel that you
love her quite dearly

when she begins to bark.

the needful profession or after henry

To Chris van Deventer, with gratitude
Accidentally inspired by S.G.S. and Emil,
two unlikely birds of a feather

none of the words, you know, matter; after a time, it's not that hard to tell if you're truly on course or
on some vanity trip: it's the sweat, sleepless nights, the
dumb labour of it, not: how much can be said, how much has
already been said, and why?
other writers' words feed my very soul; no wonder, then, that mine should be
all of my words . . . how could they create
laughter through the flame?
they are merely fuel; they burn
they keep me warm

the same poets reading over and
over again in the same venues; I am enamoured with them a bit
more each time and with
how could we really think that we are fashioning speech more un-
usual than a stock market or weather
when our speech itself is the stock market
when our speech itself is the weather

none of the words—we type away—on and on—most of us living lives
ordinary but with great courage—are we sick to think that our
speech is

I don't like you but I once did—is there anything worse
than a creature who lives only to never write

Post Scriptum

Let us now say plainly that I am incontrovertibly enamoured with poetry, enraptured by it, obsessed with it and in this obsession come to understand it profoundly. Yes, if I could marry it, I probably would. It thus behooves me to disagree, in the most emphatic way, with Charles Bukowski, in whose poem "the wasted profession," a disingenuous question follows a curmudgeonly remonstrance:

I don't like us and I never did—is there anything worse
than a creature who lives only to write

Ah, Henry! Ah, humanity! This is what's worse, this cynical, literal reading of the world and the word. To my dying breath I will contend that—beyond all the ars poetica ad nauseam, beyond all the perturbations and protestations, endless writing and writhing, agon and agony, reading and roaming, collecting and correcting, destroying and distracting, creating and procreating, sharing and oversharing—there is something, there will always be something ever-so-beautifully, ironically ineffable, something whose calculus, despite a persistent error in the equation, adds up to nothing less than a life-sustaining force, a Borgesian mapping of one's very soul, the confirmation of the final, consecrated iamness of self.

As counterpoint to the above feculence that has been haunting me since November, I'd like to place the stern succour of Stanley Cooperman's reminder, embedded in the poem "Cannibals," which makes it unmistakably clear that the poet, the artist, is the only one who perhaps lives at all.

Listen, I sniff every petal
with my own nose,
my words
are private as your underwear,
and the sound
of my breath grows
from my skull:

I plant my name
              I choose.

Thus, for any creature that takes to astringent obloquy in a fit of pride, in stubborn service of living for anything less than—ποίησις—the creation, from thin air, of that which did not exist before—I reserve nothing but pity. Dixi.

God is Gay

Inspired by Ben Reeves

Last we heard, God is gay.
Like, super gay, but not
In any peculiar way.

He's only a man who
Happens to like men—who
Happens to be God.

That's the problem, then: He's
Not, like, a baddie, but
There's just one of him.

He can't be his own damn daddy.

Last we heard, when he'd flick
His limp wrist—oceans boiled,
Scourges fell, skies would twist,

Bush burned… But now he's
Bored and, like, totally
Over all the halos,

Winged twinks in beige britches.
Hustling the coffee line,
God steps on Satan's tail,

"Out of my way, demon bitches!"

Last we heard, when, sweating
God rushes into his
Office, he locks the door,

Draws the shades, takes a deep
Breath, takes a sip of his
Iced coffee, dials Death,

Spends hours on gossip.
He finally sits down
With dread: 345,123 unanswered prayers—

What, like, is this shit? Marked All Read!

Last we heard, there is a
Lot on God's mind. "How, like,
Ironic, then," he thinks,

"That I can't ditch this place."
He toys with a pen that
Has GOD LOVES FAGS printed

On it in sassy typeface…
And, just as he reaches
For Order for Plague's End

His bedazzled mobile phone chimes,

(Last we heard from God), then,
CherubFinder reports:
"Hey! You've got a new friend."

At Dinner

It used to be, I'd sit you down
to dinner and take your picture.
Here you are.
                    And here is dinner.

A nice way to remember this
Day actually happened. Although
I could probably
                        still fathom

your presence (at dinner) from my
ledger or from the day planner,
it was nice
                to have this record,

for a time. Even if it was
hundreds of people. In the same
chair. At the same table.
                                    By the

same window.

Two Types of Despair

There are two types of despair:

                                              In the first,
you raise your eyes to an extinct god and
inquire the reason for all this. You

politely ask: Would it not be far more
easy to extinguish this collection

of fears and pains, first from the smouldering
matchhead, then, held by legs, as Dante would

have it, until charred black?

                                              In the second,
you have thirty minutes before a call
for work, when you plug up your toilet with

shit. With the dejection of Mersault, you
get your plunger, then the better one; to

no avail, and then—with all hope lost—you
plunge,                                   you hear

the water rush clear, so you

                                        fall to your knees,
              thank the ghost.

I Dreamt of You Again Last Night…

I dreamt of you again last night.
You were successful and elegant,
and had a powerful lover.

What was your name?
Why was I there?

Your home was delicate and modern
but soon you had to go;
you had to leave.

Before you left, you paused, as if
to check if something really happened

or only in a dream.
You then selected carefully and
handed me a plant in a small pot.

I woke up alone.
It was Monday morning, dark.

Under the Radar or After Magee

To MLP, with all my gratitude—

Ho! I have slipped the tender touch of sky
And ploughed the earth with labour-callused hands;
Deeper I dug in, trying to unply,
Awake from hist'ry—made a hundred plans
I could not hope for—stood and sat and lay
Low in the failing daylight. Watching him,
I've hiked up Helicon and back, asplay,
My eager eyes composing heady hymns…

Down, down the brief and dreamy, kind beyond
I've filtered through our glass of carnal crime
Where ne'er one of my kind erstwhile had gone—
And, while I wandered with no map or plan
The low, oft-trespassed wickedness of time,
Forsook all gods, and touched the face of man.

enter the archives »