Saturday, December 31, 2011


I am related to the crescent moon;
Scimitar like, at both ends a sharp point,
Birth and death in my case but for the clever moon metamorphosis.

Similarly the round, bulbous moon is my second cousin,
Once removed;
Not that she is aware of this lumbering her enormous white belly across the sky;
More relatives I am thinking;
Soon it will be the whole human race.

Certain men in coastal China look just like me;
Missioneries maybe or traders or even a Jesuit;
If we met we would throw arms around one another
And hug like lost brothers;
But this is unlikely as we lack bus fare to the next village.

My mother claims the old Highland Scots treacherous,
Alternately indolent and violent,
Fighters, lovers of death, planters of oats and semen;
Raiders, builders of stone huts,
Women with shoulders that shine in the dark, tiger eyes.
Some of me belongs to them although I don’t know which;
Punking off the nobs, coveting my neighbour’s wife maybe.

Fishermen’s children in Africa
Seesawing on the outriggers of their father’s canoe;
A man and his daughter in Malaysia,
Cracking jokes together, rising in a great crescendo of snorts and guffaws
And belly bendings. They are my cousins
As is the woman selling tamales in a market in provincial Mexico,
Part Indio, part Castile,
And the women, men, children who surround her,
Bustling, arguing;
They are my relatives too.

There are farmers in Chile who bend their elbows
Just like I do;
Shopkeepers in Cairo who share the line of my eyebrows exactly;
Miners in the Urals sniffing tea the way I sniff tea;
Carpenters in Poland stretching in the morning the way I stretch;
An Israeli wine merchant scratching his lower belly in exactly the place I scratch;
And so on.

Five billion human beings; All relatives for goodness sakes; It’s ridiculous.
And then there are the animals and rocks and the vegetable world
And the great astronomical world of nuclear explosions and spun out galaxies,
The Great Immensity,
And somehow I am related to all that too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Morning Coffee

Clear as water,
Dying, being born, always.

What was it you asked me this morning?
Coffee, toast, teetering on our knees.
Yellow headed blackbird singing
Somewhere in the marsh beyond the trees.

The nonhuman informs the human,
Filled as we are with the reality of the other,
Why not rest an elbow on the moon,
Or bathe our many eyed bodies
In the wild yellow firepots of the sun?

What was it you asked me this morning?
Something about death,
Something about dried leaves?
Pale blue of the spring sky exquisite;
Slow unfurling of the new, green leaves.
Bright grass shooting up through dead yellow.
Run off water dank and fertile beneath the trees.

The reality of Death comes in its own time;
Its thought has no substance, no body.
Coffee, on the other hand, is delicious,
Filling the mouth with the taste of earth,
The taste of flowers.

And that wren singing in the poplars,
Tiny. Fierce. Wild.
Who knows what she’s up to?
Puffing herself up, throwing out trill notes,
As if she were the original, the primal being,
And you and I shadow figures
In the roaring of her throaty dream.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Alfred Salutin has no friends;
Drinks alone every night, a bottle of vodka on the sofa watching television.
He hates everyone; even the specters flickering across the screen he curses,
Lays at their feet his wretchedness, his despair.
In his cups he screams at his old mother;
She had no right to bear him,
No right to bring him into such a world.

Saturday afternoons Alfred buys the scandal sheets,
Spreads the colorful pages across the kitchen table,
Gazes at the cleavages of the movie stars,
Takes sides in their squabbles and personal affairs.
But what he’s really looking for are stories of spontaneous combustion.
These he reads over and over until he knows them word for word.
O that he too might receive such a cleansing,
Such a fiery deliverance!

But in the end there is no burnt hole in the sofa,
No pile of smoking carrion,
Rather only Alfred, possessed of the familiar flesh and bone,
Tethered in the same tight corral of misery.

Mornings Alfred shaves in the mirror,
Face a fiery Martian red, eyes a fabric of bleeding rivers,
And he longs to be freed,
Longs to be delivered from this downward spiral
Of dead and ever deader hearts,
And then extinction.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Poor

Plans for social ascension are announced now and then
By men in tailored suits,
Whisked away afterwards in limousines.

But the poor are not whisked away.
They remain, whistling through dark alleys, same as before.

Kind Hearts long to raise them to respectability.
Poor Kind Hearts!
What good’s respectability,
Naked, all by itself, without a foil?

Starving, racked with frenzy,
They can rise like a single beast, striking a blow unbelievably savage.

In bare sufficiency they build structures so elegant, so subtle,
They escape the attention of those who purport to study them.

Some fear them for their irreverence, sudden spikes of passion;
But these, to a lively mind, are the very reasons to love them.

Late Winter Letter To An Old Friend

The days are much the same now.
Deep cold. Howling wind.
Dark trees. White fields of snow.
The fire must be fed, kindling split.

What were you like when you were young?
What kind of face did you have then?
A lonely one perhaps,
Or a split face,
One side for God, the other for the human beings.
The dog’s face is drawn now.
Sometimes his eyes fill with pain.
He’s deaf; his corneas shiny with cataracts.

Yesterday I shoveled snow.
Tomorrow I’ll have to shovel again.
This morning I tried to write a poem. Useless.
My tongue was glued to the roof of my mouth.
My head stuffed with straw.

I thought of you then,
And wondered how you were doing.
Perhaps you could drop me a line.
Send me a note full of your usual nonsense,
And I will be in your debt forever.

Meeting With The Social Work Administrators

Soft gestured; Light falling on the faces just so.
All blood rinsed out and sailing off to the sea sand shore.
Words cleaned with silica,
Each turned in upon itself, a polished snail.

They chant polices.
Who made policies?
God made policies.

Their eyes are glazed in a familiar dream.
Many are the offices.
Many are the beehives humming.
Never are there enough parking spaces.
Holy are the many forms of many forms.
Blessed the flow charts. Sacred the silos.
Faces buffed. Fingers manicured.
There is enough honey to preserve the bodies forevermore.

They arrive in six separate cars
And leave in six separate cars.
Two speak. The other four utter not a word.

On The Birth of My Grandson

Vacuums noodling the spiral arms;
Small hole in the egg;
Sweeping movement of the inaccessible,
Its pendulum tock.

Destruction’s no mistake; rather a necessity.
No jamming the conveyor with the detritus of a fixed creation, please.
Some are born; others die.
Presidents and generals.
Even the cruelest tyrant becomes in the end
A pile of dust and leather paraphenalia.

My dear child welcome to the world.
Welcome to the beginning and welcome to the end.
Silver fish glide over the surface of the blue sea.
White birds alight in a green field.
And you, moving your liquid eye across the surprise of creation,
Have your first birthday,
Above you the happy moons of floating faces,
The hospital ceiling, painted blue.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


South all day. Evening north.

Flapping the greenhouse plastic,

Rattling the stovepipe chimney.

Whining. Howling. Scouring the ditches.

Braiding grass into sea witch hair.

Whipping trees, threatening to snap green bones.

I sit by the fire, drinking tea, reading Ovid.

Gruesome murders, sexual betrayal, bloody vengeance.

Almost as bad as the news.

A gust seizes the cabin’s shoulders, shakes it with a savage fury;

Death moans behind the woodshed.

Ghosts clank bones beneath the window.

Bang. Clatter. Creak. Lurch.

Things about to come apart at the seams.

Ovid takes no notice.

Other than a slight grimace at the sweep of Augustus’s shadow,

He is imperturbable.

Polished, succinct, elegant, he sails fluidly on.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Child Among Metal Sculptures

Roll the metal sculptures out;
Shake out their gnarled limbs;
Loosen their terrible torsos;
Let the air be filled with horrible clankings;
Let it grow rank with sulphur smells
And be splattered with blue bruises and yellow flames.

True they scare the children,
But the tortured faces are necessary I’m afraid
And digestible if spied from the laced shadows
Under the trees of a bright afternoon.

Unfold your hand dear one
And you will find in it the curled nature of all beginnings,
Pink and shy,
Longing, perhaps, for the absence of light.
The boy’s copper hair is like a mist covered sun,
Such a bold red to be exhibited before these consuming engines.
Keep him back here, behind us,
Where his eyes, round as moons,
Can examine the grass and bits of stick, his playthings.

Ours are gone now,
But this boy, see how grave he is, see his pale, shining skin.
No human heart can resist him,
None can avoid becoming victims of his loveliness, his beauty.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Famous is embalmed;

Famous is ringed round by a sunami of malignant mirrors;

Famous is insane but every one pretends you’re not;

Famous is main lining false epiphanies;

Famous is gargling a tall glass of your own piss.

Famous begins with advice, ends up with egotistical moralism;

Famous is fitted for a suit of historically acceptable megalomanias;

Famous is Vladimir

Become a Barbie doll for the Russian Chamber of Commerce;

Famous is when they pin medals on your naked chest

But you don’t bleed cause you are dead;

Famous is the nose hook pushed up

And the brains pulled out on the mortician’s tray;

Famous is a dance of corpses where every one claps

But secretly they are horrified.

This is why I want to be famous;

Hungry ghost, stapled stomach,

Rolled out thin on a thousand pound press;

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Boss

My boss is a pear shaped manikin,
Fiery martian face,
Metal wheels spitting sparks, bits of concrete,
Racing corridors searching out miscreants with her X ray vision.

My boss is a victim of brain fever,
Inflammation of the pancreas;
Evenings she receives messages from distant planets,
Wears chain mail underwear, dresses cut from sheets of aluminum.
Her desk drawers are stuffed with death warrants, charred writs of Habeas Corpus.

Listen up she says,
Swinging a steel hip,
Reconstructed from the pistons of an amputated locomotive;
‘Now hear this!’ she says, chrome fingers flailing titanium armpits.
‘Didn’t I say?’

But she’s in a good mood this morning,
Smile a phalanx of filed incisors.

‘Listen!’ she says,
Milk of human kindness filling her wild red eyes;
‘Listen!’ she says. ‘Let’s be reasonable.’

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The Parisians hated the watery rice,

Lack of wine, civilized amenities;

The marshes were stinking sinkholes;

The muddy fields execrable abominations.

They have friends, they said,

Who would gladly replace them with statues and fountains.

‘And you, my good man,’ they said to me,

‘are a depraved rustic, a semi literate bumpkin.’

Which is true.

Then they smoked opium and entered a trance.

I dug a new drainage ditch and composed six poems.

Upon awaking they snorted cocaine

And fondled one another’s genitals.

Afterwards they left in a railway car

Painted with scenes of ancient cathedrals.

I still love Marcel Proust and Charles Baudelaire,

But can find no solace in semiotics or hyper intellection.

They left behind four thousand books, which,

In an inquisitorial mood, I tossed into the fire.

Now the cabin is warm as toast

And in the mists above the dugout my visitor’s ghosts

Are suspended in a passion of disbelief and weeping.

The next day I leapt through my left earlobe

And came out the other side processed in stainless steel.

I lay upon a bed of nitrogen

Covering myself with plutonium rods.

Of course my earrings were of human flesh but no matter.

And yet when I looked through my enhanced eyeballs

I saw the world exactly as I saw it before!

All that and still rolling in the human bubble!
All that and my nose still exactly eighty-seven degrees from my left eye socket!

Sunday, July 31, 2011


I know a few true poets, greet them with great joy

When we meet on the streets of the old city.

But as for the literati, what can I say?

Whiners, egotistical neurotics.

Nothing is more comical

Than to see them slavering after the latest fashion,

Tongues hanging out like winded dogs.

Twenty years of arse kissing

To publish a volume of boring, moronic poems

And you would think the Prime Minister

Had appointed them ambassador to the Cayman Islands!

Unlike dear Catullus I refuse to end

By slipping on a cloak of pious Roman humility.

I have this to say to sheep huddling together in the corner of the paddock –

Bah as pitifully as you may.

Bat your long lashes ever so fetchingly.

Death will snap you like a dry twig

And cast you off into oblivion anyway.

As for that book of poems –

That can be put to use in the outhouses of the new millennium.


Famous is embalmed;

Famous is ringed round by a sunami of malignant mirrors;

Famous is insane but every one pretends you’re not;

Famous is main lining false epiphanies;

Famous is gargling a tall glass of your own piss.

Famous begins with advice, ends up with egotistical moralism;

Famous is fitted for a suit of historically acceptable megalomanias;

Famous is Vladimir

Become a Barbie doll for the Russian Chamber of Commerce;

Famous is when they pin medals on your naked chest

But you don’t bleed cause you are dead;

Famous is the nose hook pushed up

And the brains pulled out on the mortician’s tray;

Famous is a dance of corpses where every one claps

But secretly they are horrified.

This is why I want to be famous;

Hungry ghost, stapled stomach,

Rolled out thin on a thousand pound press;

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tobacco Can

I dislike rising from my bed at 3 AM,

Descending the ladder stair and out the door,

Stumbling the frozen ground to the outhouse.

Nothing fills me with greater foreboding

Than leaving the warmth of my blankets

For the nitrogen vice artic air,

Under the winter sky pierced with the million pinholes

Of blue and yellow and green ice diamond stars.

Nobody can convince me,

Neither my wife nor daughter,

Neither my sons or my sister,

Neither friends or brothers in law,

Neither the Dali Lama or the Prime Minister,

That having a pee can for such occasions

Is anything but civilized, respectable remedy for an aging bladder

And the unbreakable habit of drinking a gallon of tea in the evening.

None of the societal fetishes for clean porcelain and running water,

For the odours of Vim and Mr Clean,

Can dint the pleasure I take unscrewing the lid of my tobacco can,

Kneeing at the side of my bed in a sacramental manner

And filling that smelly can with warm fresh urine,

Rising in the air the pungent but not unpleasant smell

Of protein or uric acid or whatever it is that piss contains.

Nobody can tell me that climbing back into bed,

Relieved like a great athlete might be relieved

After a successful performance,

Nobody can tell me that this is not sweet and elegant and wonderful

And, on the whole, superior to the so called intellectual or spiritual epiphanies.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On Reading A Translation Of Li Po’s Exile

I find it comfortable here. The arrangements,

Light dying at five each evening; Witchy branches of the poplar trees.

Ground still bare and already it’s late November.

Jigsaw puzzle of sticks in the stove.

Pissing outside in the cool air; Smell of woodsmoke.

Long nights floating on a sea of velvet black.

Coyotes singing badly arranged songs,

Burning stars as sharp to the eyes as cold water to the scrotum.

Since we are not continuous beings,

Why pine for the loss of some imaginary state?

What other world, no matter how grand,

Can replace the one right here before our very eyes?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Old Neighbourhood

This neighbourhood is full of nonsense;

Bells ringing all night long;

Cerebella draped on fence posts,

Ghosts shimmering under street lamps;

Singularities hammering tin plates,

Not to speak of birds preening feathers on electrified clothes lines.

Dear God how can celestial choirs conduct skies

Above this swelter of ludicrous possibilities?

Children run burnt powder streets,

Gripped by extravagant deliriums,

Hang from the diamonds of Austrian chandeliers.

They explode like mercury between grasping fingers.

Ten thousand fireflies from the left,

Ten thousand diving birds from the right,

Winking from deep shadows,

Diving from black skies.

Even dogs shit wherever they want to.

As for old men with brooms – they soon find out.

Useless their calipers,

As water their cast iron lassoes.

And it’s here my father strolls in the evenings collecting for John Knox,

Deranged fedoras gracing the edges of his silver underwear,

Delivering denial to jailbirds and alcoholic beauty queens.

Give it up Dad!

What’s the use of nailing your lower lip to apostrophes?

Dangling your liver before the eyes of the recently dead?

Let them shake their crystal trees.

Let them ride thin rockets to their own Jerusalem.

Once, five in the morning – complete quiet.

Everyone dead and buried.

Then up they spring like jack in the boxes,

Happily blowing reedy noisemakers!

Blessed by feeble skies, clutching blankets,

Hopping from one foot to the other in front of woodstoves,

Who can stop it? Why?

Sun and red jelly, surely cellophane handcuffs are totally useless!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday Morning

Clouds are illustrations,
Or paintings,
Or images downloaded from the internet.
Burrow into my flesh lenses, tangerine clouds,
Headlock my optic nerves until they say uncle.
Nothing as useless as skies and clouds;
Nothing as useless as being human.

Wild ducks occupy the summer kitchen.
I cook and wash for them.
They wake me at night quacking metallic poems.
Awake or asleep, big deal! Arses coldly wet constantly,
How would you like it? No martyrs, no saints among the ducks.
Frogs are chiropractors, uncricking the vertebrae of five billion.
Bright green chamois, heartfelt, longing eyes.
Mud; Flies; Wet grass; Pools.

I’m erect as a fork stuck into garden soil.
Little contact, just the soles of the feet.
And yet what monsters lurk in the caverns of my imagination.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Button eyes. Orange beaks. Pelicans.
When they spy me they share significant looks.
A missionary says one. A belly swagger. They disapprove.
They adjust wire frame glasses.

At home pelicans have bamboo blinds,
Rice paper partitions, Gen Mai Cha.
They spend evenings in polite ontological discussion.

Away, sailcloth sewn into shoulder blades; carpet bags for carry out.
All afternoon, on updrafts, they sail kites in oval swoons,
Inserting themselves - medieval weavers - into the blue silk of the summer sky.
A tall man from wing tip to wing tip, skimming marsh grasses,
Silent as an order of cloistered nuns.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Old Dog

Old Dog

Here he comes,
Dragging a bellyful of broken bricks,
Howling a racket from a sack of moldy bagpipes.
Mouth full of boiled rat; heart holed with singularities.
One leg grinding boulders; others iron rusting in a bog.
Fat, asthmatic. Hips blown rolodexes, congealed in frozen motor oil.
Tacking his leaky rowboat with a useless rubber spoon.
Thus do mighty warriors slide in age
Across a battlefield of bleeding back lane gravel.
Ancient. Ugly. Rheumy. Milk eyed. Wheezing a holed squeezebox.
Staggering from one wooden leg to another,
Unsuccessfully, for halfway to us he collapses,
Dead or resting is hard to tell.

When we finish loading the half ton
He winches himself up with his best leg and barks
“Slap on the greaves lubbers!”
But we are gone by the time he gets there
And he’s left biting afterimages,
Deprived of all flesh save in the fevers of his imagination.