Please excuse me from my duties
so I can slip under this log
and rest, my hair fanning out
around my blameless face,
no bubbles from my nose —
even breathing made, for now,


I wish to be unnecessary.
I wish to be unnoticed.

Just for a while,
just for a minute,
until the sea grass
releases my ankles
and the tide comes in.


When the Milk Goes Sour, We’ll Know It’s Time to Leave

When there are more flies than buttermilk,
more nails than shoes, when we smell
our own stink on all the pillows,
when we can’t stand each other
or ourselves another minute longer,
that’s when we’ll pack up our scarves,
our autoclaves, all our other ridiculous
material trappings, and fly on up out of here
like a wisp in the sky or a spiral of swifts,
chattering and roosting, chattering again
in some other tree, someone else’s tree,
not far from here but far enough.


If You Are Afflicted

If you are afflicted with pear blight,
you will feel it in your limbs. If you
fail to blossom, or if your blooms are
nipped, browned by an errant frost, then
you will have a silent, solitary spring,
visited neither by bees nor wasps, exempt
from the frenzy of making fruit. Take heart:
This may be only for one year, or two,
and you can still make leaves and talk
to yourself, bend in the wind or brace
against rain, which will still come (unless
there’s also a drought). You may be visited
by some manner of small, sucking bug.
If you have no blooms — if you’re not
making fruit — you might find there are
worse companions than these, worse ways
to pass a lonely season or two, or three.

Also … Hey, I’m back! I took an extended Christmas break but will now resume the daily posts for a while.


I Want to Tell You Something

If you shoot an arrow, make sure you know
where it’s aiming, and which way the breeze,
and whether your hands are steady enough,
or whether you really should be trusted
with an arrow after all. Or a Jart.

If you fix a bike, remember to carry
a rag to wipe your hands afterwards;
otherwise things will get awkward
when the lady at the grocery store

offers you a sample and you have to
reach into a bowl on the fold-up table.
A bowl on a table is something to consider,
though probably not for very long at a time.
Now that I’ve mentioned it, that may be enough.


Holy Beans

Take of these beans
and make a new day
by soaking and boiling
in the pan of the earth.

Make playgrounds and gardens
and every new venture
to support new humans — humans
made not of dust and good intentions

but of beans. (Call them human beans
if it pleases you, Creator).
Everyone will be, then,
full of beans

and made of beans.
Think carefully about
giving your beans free will:
That usually does not go well.

If you do, build walls as high
and strong as you can, around this
New Jerusalem, this heavenly Beantown —
otherwise, you’ll soon have a lot of

weeping to do, a lot of righteous
but regretful smiting, fresh plagues
to think up, another wave of mercy
to muster somehow, from somewhere.


One Cold Breath and Then Another

When he decided to follow her, he gave up
everything else he was doing. He followed her
like a red balloon through Paris, or like a
young man aping an older time follows a jam band.
She was everything, then, in a way that nothing
had been everything for quite some time. He knew
he’d have to stop. He knew this counted as stalking.
He knew he’d never forget the moon rising over her
house, her arms in the window, one cold breath and
then another, everything in him igniting at once.


Sooner or Later, I Always Do

Of course, we know it’s all optional.
All of it.
No one will ever die

from lack of carefully chosen presents
or from not attending
that ugly sweater party at work.

It’s acceptable to skip this one
this year
or every year,

and many people, of course,
unavoidably feel the festive tide
but do not participate

because it’s not their religion
that has been made a national event,
or because they just can’t stomach it

for one reason or another.
Sometimes I can’t, either. Sometimes
I have to shut my eyes against

the mistletoe and holly, the entreaties
to buy, or even to feel certain warm emotions
at a certain time.

Sometimes I can’t quite rise to the occasion,
or I can, but only belatedly,
and I arrive late to the party, just as

everyone else is winding down:
So, did you get all your shopping done?
At times like that, I sometimes find

a pocket of cool, fresh air, like a pair
of cardinals, say, eating berries,
or a single snowflake that strikes my glove.

And I’m not prepared then, to say it’s nothing,
or worth nothing. I don’t know why I celebrate,
but I do. Sooner or later, I always do. So far.


Something I Can’t See

It can’t be seen,
the terror of every morning,
amidst the sneezes and swirling snow,
the forgotten folders and everything.

It can’t be seen,
this mayhem, an extra crackle
in already staticky air.

We live in a gingerbread house
or a house made of sand. I see
its cracks. I see its seams.
What keeps it together is

something I can’t see.



Let’s be timeless.
Let’s be crisp as icing
on a sugar cookie.

Let’s pack ourselves
in a tin
that will live
in someone’s closet


Let’s be beloved
and yet forgotten,
wrapped up
in an ornament box

in someone else’s mind.


It’s No Trouble

Don’t worry — I can always
prop my eyelids open a little longer
and feel them fill with sand,
all the little blood vessels breaking.
What’s a night for, anyway, if not
for staying up? I can always work late
and sleep in later, on some future date
that I kick further and further
down the road, like a can. Like a can
of something that might relieve
the thirst that I ignore, so I can
sit and continue to work. It’s really
no trouble for me to sit here,
hour after hour, like a spider
on her web, only I was not
designed for it like she was,
and some people now say there’s
such thing as sitting disease,
which can’t be remedied later
by exercise, not that that I’ve tried
recently. Recently, I’ve been working.
Just working all the time. But it really is
no trouble, how my heart hammers in my bed,
once I finally get there. Once I finally stop.