Saturday, April 20, 2019

Two Thirds

Two-thirds of a penguin is black.
(Has anyone measured? Let’s say it’s true.)
Two-thirds of the iceberg it sits on is underwater.
(Quite a bit more than that, actually.)
That water covers two-thirds of the Earth.
(Close enough?)
Even standing on dry land, two-thirds of your body is water.
(Well, probably a bit less.)
By the time this poem is finished, April will be two-thirds over.
(I am absolutely, positively 66% certain.)

Friday, April 19, 2019


The margins of a math book
crawl with a sequence
of dragons, flaming,
flying, hoarding, filling
every gap with their pencil-lead gems.

Printed poetry picks out
mere specks of ink
from an infinitely possible array of white,
letting the mind fit itself in
around what was said
to assume everything else.

Empty lines on a calendar,
like white black holes,
fill their minutes, then hours, then days
with menological gravity.

Even as I type,
space, tab, carriage return,
are honored
with the largest keys.

But where,
in my mind now,
is the space
for another poem
to germinate?

Thursday, April 18, 2019


“[Poetry] makes us permeable.”
—Jane Hirshfield, interview, March 20, 2015

The more I sit still, the more I become
aware of how still it is impossible to sit.
My outer motions yield to a silent thrum
of atoms, each one spinning, embracing its
Einsteinian truth: energy subtler than air,
vibrating back and forth, into the space
occupied by the atoms of the chair
I sit in, such a rapid interlacing
that I can no longer tell where I end
and it begins, both of us melting into
atmospheric spheres of atoms, blending,
expanding, and I find myself sky-skinned,
Earth-footed, galaxy-eyed, exquisite—
a single cell throughout the infinite.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


Tokyo 2020, to compete in the discus.
Unidentifiable sounds on the roof, the night before Christmas.
The perennial lottery: boy or girl?
The last nut on a tree nervously eyeing a squirrel.
Teenagers turning into adults.
A lugubrious doctor stalling before giving you your test results.
Using only a rope bridge and a blindfold to cross a gaping abyss.
Your first kiss.
Guards on city walls, tracking the approach of oncoming crusaders.
Substitute directing for a choir of 4th-through-8th graders.
A midnight trip to Uruguay.
Tomorrow’s lecture to 500 people on a subject you were introduced to yesterday.

Whether it lead to bright or dreary ends,
Anticipation itself can be quite an experience.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

My Refrigerator

There’s half a sonnet, right behind a bit
of villanelle that actually hadn’t tasted
terribly good to start with. Rhymes that fit
with words that I’m fresh out of—probably wasted
on limericks or something trivial
like that. A metaphor that could have loomed,
humming and white against the kitchen wall,
but inside of which, only mold has bloomed.
What’s this? A couplet in the veggie bin,
forgotten about but somewhat fresh, the skin
off an old simile, a tupperware
of frozen quatrains—I think we could prepare
something perhaps not quite uneatable,
or irredeemably unreadable.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Second Wind

When you’ve wrung out your brain for the umpteenth time,
and can no longer stand the glare of the screen—
When nothing remotely resembles a rhyme,
and your imagination is stuck in the Pleistocene—

When you’re up way to late and you just need to sleep,
and your eyelids drag on the floor,
but the deadlines continue, like pumas, to creep
up upon you (there’s always one more!)—

When you realize you just can’t do this yourself
and yet you decide to carry on through—
then you’ll find that you’re carried by Something Else,
and the poems start writing you.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What to Do When in Doubt

  1. Get your passport stamped. It always comes out a little blurry, but most of your friends back home will probably believe that you were there.
  2. Breathe in and count to ten. Write the numbers down to make sure you don’t skip any. (Seven is notoriously slippery, even on the first day.)
  3. Hire a guide. It should be easy to find someone who speaks your language, but you may have some trouble convincing him to show you around. Tell him you don’t mind if he’s new at this.
  4. See the sights. Your guide will be unable to tell you what any of them are called. At one building, he will gather together a small group of passersby and ask them if they know what it is. None can name it, but they each describe the interior in great detail. Each description is completely different, to which the others all say “yes, that is right.”
  5. Dismiss your guide with thanks. You will find lodgings inside this building, but you must enter alone.
  6. Make yourself comfortable. There is no staff, so you will have to make your own bed and keep the bathroom clean. You will find everything you need waiting for you.
  7. Look through your luggage. If you find a photograph of a person, a dog, or a guitar, put it out on the nightstand. It is probably someone you love. Dust it every day.
  8. Take long walks through the city. Occasionally someone will stop you and ask the name of a building. It’s alright if you don’t know. Enjoy the freedom of not knowing.
  9. If someone asks you to be their guide, welcome them, and do your best.
  10. One day, you will come to a bustling terminal, surrounded by people looking slightly disoriented and trying to count to ten. You can no longer get any farther than three, but when someone asks for your passport, you’re surprised to note that you had put it in your pocket that morning. Do not go back for your luggage, not even the photograph.