Packing Up Blues

Pay all your bills, disable the router,
Shut down the software on your laptop computer,
Draw all the curtains and shut off the lights
And wait for the first of the silent nights.

Toss out the flow’rs; they were already dead,
Let the mole-snakes return to inhabit your shed.
Pack up your mother’s furniture, out of the sun,
Let the postbox be gorged with letters to no one.

This was my heart, my hell, my pain, my rest,
For too long, for far too long, my nest,
For years I tossed in my childhood sheets;
While dreams drifted slowly away, in silent fleets

Throw out the milk, set free the birds,
Give somebody else your windowsill herbs,
Dismantle your easel, pack up your sails,
Unsubscribe from ten years of promotional mail.

My flower stems are dying now; throw out every one,
Fold up the mountains and snuff out the sun,
Cash in the coupons and turn out the yard,
Recycle your childhood birthday cards.
Swallow your pills and hang up your clothes,
For nothing now resembles the life that you chose.


[Inspired by the form and meter of W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues]


what it means to bake a cake

It’s always selfish of me to bake a cake.
Because even if it’s someone else’s years
that will burn and dance on top
It is still my cake.

Every sigh of pleasure shall be directed to me.
Lips brush over three-pronged steel,
a finger drags through buttercream,
a knife plunges through velvet viscera
and a wedge is pulled, slowly, from the whole
and bits of crumb fall quietly
to the floor.
Every one of those crumbs is mine.





sentinel III

Lately I have noticed
how people place sentinels in front of their words.

Many do not move themselves
to regard your unpopular view,
but rather, fix their sights on words
Suddenly unguarded.

Loose threads hang off my own,
Offending threads on unfinished edges
that require urgent pruning before I may clear my name.

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

Strange, though,
That I should need to measure my words, daily, with the greatest precision,
Percolate them until no more coarseness exists,
Without further hint of ambiguity,
To keep alive some popular refrain.

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

Truth moves stagnantly,
amid a virulence of lies
It’s never as interesting, is it?

How is it,
that without these sentinels I keep,
my words might be commandeered
and bent to win a different game?

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

Evening and I’m home, alone, unheard, the sentries dismissed
I’m patrolling the words I shaped that day
Some made unrecognizable
superimposed onto pain.

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

See the sentinels guarding others’ words
See how you, too, might’ve made them
your own.


poké bowls

Crayola-green eda
mame bean
young spry newly-shelled
alongside tunachunks deep musclyred
nearly alive
with con
tour lines.

Oily gems over sticky rice
nestled near avo
cado moons.
My pacific loot.

Brimful of shredded beet
root pickle
stashed between wakimi weed
and sesame,
a heap of cured gin
ger, corallypink
with these cucumber ring
lets, like hairlocks,
tickling at ripe clumps of roe.

the parts are always better than the whole,
according to my deconstructed poké bowl.


A large and rather beautiful antelope (lie down in your own doing)

Today on talk radio,
the host spoke of an oryx
Not a bird, he said, to someone who thought it was.
A large and rather beautiful antelope.

Something about this caught me.
To be a large and rather beautiful antelope
doesn’t seem like such an unreasonable thing to be.

Ink-stained interloper
in the most beautiful of ways
Unleashed in the world,
casting long shadows on the desert
hoofing up holes in the sand
only to kneel to no one
and lie, cool,
in your own doing.




Until now, no one spoke of dams:
chalk bowl rain-catchers
big providing things
big contained walled things
bolted fonts, ready sources.

Until now, in my city,
there was little cause for talk –
for naming, counting, measuring, predicting
for remembering, blaming, urging, pleading.
Years we forgot the tardive rains
until our own,
began to ebb away.

The great dam, on the river-without-end, is ending.
Not too long ago there were speedboats on it.
People cannot sell those speedboats
fast enough.

The fire-blown mountain passes
brindled with blackened brush,
are unscenic
as the dead lawns in the suburbs.

In the deep, on the Flats,
in the Place of the Sun and the Place of Moon,
the taps are communal (it sounds better than it is).
People there wash in buckets, anyway
and so will we, soon,
when our tubercular shower heads splutter, cough
and our swimming pools vanish into the ground
as the Sun drinks his fill of what’s ours.

I live in a city that was long thirsty
before the water ran out.


Is this how the city I live in
will finally be equal?

Trembling on the vast waste
of one, singular experience

when all it’s ever known is water
when all it’s ever known is drought.

What is the new normal?
when before,
normal for most was buckets and wind and heat
when before,
normal for some was flood and fountain and flow?


My city is a refreshment station
that provides no relief.

Those with their own pieces of ground
drill deep to loosen the springs beneath.
To justify the verdure of their lawns.

In the suburbs, competition soars,
between those who’ve never known thirst.
Like golf
but higher stakes.

We forget that it’ll not be long
until our comforts are made useless,
bodily functions brim to the bowl,
and smells tell others
things about us
before this
were so much easier to mask,
And the queues for life, for water,
start to form.


I live a city that is touched
by two independent oceans.
Not a drop to drink.

The time has come.
I have lived to see the day when inflatable pools
became contraband,
Alive to witness
patrons clawing each other for table water at restaurants,
gazing on the lawns of their neighbors
assessing their greenness
and whether any one was green enough,
to raise the alarm.

The public fountain
where children and drunk businessmen used to bathe,
stands silent in the square
A dirty car’s a badge of pride
fingers slide
in the dirt more often now,
drawing what you can think of
on rear windows.

wash me