This is the end

not a bang but a kind of whimper?

to be born

or borne, or reborn, or born again -- that
is the question, the mission, the goal, the hope
for a shred of redemption in the current insanity,
the ongoing calamity, one note profanity, inanity ...

give us a rhyme, world, a reason, give us a graceful
way out of this fucked up season, a reset button for sense
and basic sensibility, for a pinch of transcendence
or at least tranquility. see, it’s getting old, this story,

old and tired and boring -- how many more sabers can
we rattle? how many rubber bullets will we shoot at shouting
students? how many more humanity majors can we
scuttle? all in the name of practicality, economy,

democracy, governmental agency? poetry makes nothing
happen, says auden, mourning yeats. but still it
survives, he admits, a way of happening, a mouth,
and here it is, still coming from mine, pushing out, one

impossible word at a time, and certainly i’m, we’re,
laboring to be beautiful in an ugly era, and to love
each other in the midst of (or to spite?) those clashing armies
in the night. yes, i’m stealing from century-old poems,

recycling the melancholy lyrics of the dead, but who else
can tell it better? who else can testify to the vicious cycles
of abuse, misuse, and looseness with the truth that
bury us alive? turning and turning in yeats’ widening gyres,

we fall apart. unholy ghosts who can’t hear our handlers,
pure predators soaring away from any center into soiled ether.

Penultimate poem!

Happy Monday.

slouches toward bethlehem

speaking of vexed: that contested strip
where nothing grows without hard labor
and now bombs rain down on schools,
hospitals, civilians scratching a living

from desert soil. what do i know about
that existence? by some accident, i came
to being in stunning privilege, my suffering
firmly rooted in my mind. true, i thought,

at twelve, we’d all be vaporized (eventually)
into atoms, and so i developed a plan: i’d run
straight for the center, make sure to go in that
first flash -- not linger, dissolving into radiation.

what do i know? the monsters revenge massing
in the shadows outside our houses? ourselves.

Sundays are for rumination

or ruination?

its hour come round at last

all of this anticipation, this breath held
waiting ... where will it end, d’you think?
some of us assume we’ll all be fired, let go
into the world’s indifference, to wander

purposeless and demeaned, begging
for scraps. others anticipate coming out
on top, in charge of the new regime,
writing themselves starring roles

in the script. a select few affect casual
acceptance, elevating uncertainty to
a sort of static bliss. who cares? they
shrug, and smile, hands in their pockets.

all this human business and busyness,
while nature, faceless, stands at the wheel.

I can’t take a picture of the wind

So here’s a picture of my cat instead.

what rough beast

is the wind? crashing like a tidal wave through
pine forests, snapping ancient trunks in half
like twigs, throwing roofs from houses and
crushing branches down on cars, smashing

windows, drilling rain into nooks and crannies
to tumble walls around us, whirling together
into fingers of destruction, plowing rows of
mobile homes into needle kindling as if

dispatching a field of dandelions into clouds
of seed. elemental roar, angry air, fuel for fire,
water bringer and water denier, celestial broom,
invisible fist. primal, inhuman, unstoppable.

Time to turn


the rocking cradle

and the hand, and new beginnings, and hope —
all these i want to turn to now, before it’s too late,
instead of treading the murky rivers of anger and evil.
(re)turn to spring, rebirth, the greening grass …

promise, renewal, nature’s cyclical churning
of the eager earth. i’ll follow whitman over eliot,
dive into silky blades of grass, beautiful hair
of the resurrected dead, and pretend i’m truly

naked, wide open to the universe’s loving
energy, atoms to atoms. allow the warming breeze
to lick me clean. it might be foolish, yes,
you might call it “crazy,” but let’s face it:

the child’s mind is a treasure. it uncovers wonder
in every emerging leaf and petal,
it’s elastic, curious, it loves unconditionally,
and it explodes into blossom with every new

connection, like april’s luscious tulip trees,
glazed and shining with rain, holding their limbs
up and out to capture god’s healing breath.

A growing sense of ominous purpose

The birds are gathering to plan something.

vexed to nightmare

the birds grow increasingly restless. on my drive in,
sparrows, redwing blackbirds, and seagulls swooped
in front of my car, teasing me to plow through them.
and a brilliant cardinal paused on the rusty rail

by the side entrance to Boyle, flitting his wings and
flicking me side eye, head cocked, listening, before
flapping a few steps away into the cold gravel as i
passed. it’s as if they know something monumental

is on its way, a change to turn the balance back in
their favor. another cold snap holds us in its huge mouth,
though clear sun pours through new-leafed trees, warming
tiny chartreuse leaves into reaching fingertips. the church bell

signals the eighth hour. i’m safe, for now, in my office, though
bird chatter streams through dusty windows to find me.


Feels like I’m unplugged today.

twenty centuries of stony sleep

that’s what it feels like i’ve got in my head
right now, facing the blank screen. a buzzing
nothing, the color wheel of death, suspension
of the operating system. just an odd inability

to clear the current moment, to complete
the routine. i could be stuck in an infinite loop,
some typo in the program keeping me
from compiling. maybe there’s so much shit

in my brain there’s no room for more. memory
full. if this limbo wasn’t a welcome interruption
in the overheated revisions and subroutines
spun by previous updates, i’d be more alarmed.

instead, i’m going to relish this . . . . . in
the usual functioning of . . . . . to . . . . . . . . ..

The case against empathy

It’s getting hard to keep caring.

but now I know

the problem with empathy: you have to feel everyone —
even those without souls — you’re supposed to be open
to reavers who could care less about you, who shun
connection, who are poised, fingers over the buttons

that will send us all to hell, who celebrate meanness,
and bow down for garden variety dictators with death star
obedience. it’s a cold trip, inhabiting their gleeful hardness,
tasting their sour hatreds. i should be at some greasy bar,

blotting out my failure with bourbon. instead, i keep trying
to reach them, to connect, to find that infinitesimal spark
i assume they were born with, and kindle it against their dying,
against their blind determination to cut out their own hearts

and offer them in sacrifice to their plastic kings. oh my soul,
sometimes i wish i could drink you down and let them go

Rant Redux

The shit is getting old.

the darkness drops again

it’s monday and it feels like it’s always monday.
pushing a boulder uphill and hoping against hope
it won’t roll back and crush me. more late assignments
wait and of course they’ve been written by the

machine. i want to scream. to push a button and
set fire to the file, instant electronic conflagration,
explode the walls of that null set room to expose
the airless air inside. boom. but nothing i can do —

default setting these days. impotence. rage
disguised as sarcastic resignation. weary regret,
quiet quitting. this is no country for old women
or poetry or giving a shit. better to be a fake. better

to wear an embalmed smile and fill in the blanks
with unexplained 75s, machine to machine.

A screed against artificial intelligence creating “art” …

I’m getting mighty sick of reading “poems” and “stories” and “monologues” that are supposed to be created by young adults but are instead compiled with a click of a button. Ugh! This shit is soulless. It ain’t art, my friends. I’m tired of workshopping for machines.

while all about it reel shadows

my “friend,” why do you keep using artificial
“intelligence” to compile your “creative” writing?
i’m tired of reading machine-based poems, mono-
logues, stories … weary to the bone, i tell you.

you think you’re clever? that i’m impressed by
shadows, shells, word houses constructed overnight
out of toilet paper? robotic writing tastes like
watery oatmeal, sounds like elevator music

you’re too young to recognize, smells like brain
washed sidewalk. are you that terrified? to loose
even one authentic fragment of yourself onto paper?
even when you’re in the room, you’re absent —

a body in its seat, a mind shut off, lips sealed,
a ghost floating somewhere in the machine.