“Or is the mystery of divinity an abyss of black?

How then can you come to me? why do you come back?

-Delmore Schwartz, Psyche Pleads With Cupid


The poet is cranky,

mirror-shy, for

tomorrow she turns 40.


But that might not be why;

maybe it’s all the waking up

by snoring.


Her hair grays, but slowly,

gradually, like

old skin or bone.


She feels no shame from class—

or so she likes to believe—

but there’s a boring self-consciousness.

A pain.


Though she never truly

wanted to be a professor or

some shitty editor? Did she?


She might have been

an architect, but the only

vocation she connected to


Was poetry; blood in

the streets; bugs in the



Hell or High Water;

Heaven or the deafening

Earth of her home.


The arches of her

feet fall like something

in a book about Rome.


But he is warm and soon

he will enter this room,

giving fuck-all

whether the sky is torn


or their country a punch

bowl of gasoline and rum.



“July is murderous.”  -Hayden Carruth

We’ve seen these seasons before.

Fortunes fall for most of the all

While the rest erect essence of walls,

and expect sex in dead, white halls.

We’ve seen these seasons once

or twice, we pulled these stunts

with skinned knees on long hunts,

swollen by swarms of bees.

We’ve seen this season,

the reason having been

our limbs grew grim

and slim and pale green.

I mean it really seems we’ve

seen these seasons in dreams

or stories streamed in beams

through our corn-yellow curtains.

We’ve seen this season, certainly,

its romances far from saintly,

pale in the sun’s bleach with

pails full of pre-owned beach.

How far the seasons’ temperaments

reach, and no mention of any

temporary relief outside the

garden of chlorofluorocarbon!

We’d lay this season down like a rifle

if we could find a slice of cool ground.

Comes the heat, come the dead in the street,

and no shaking the murder from these hot heads,

it’s over, it’s already gone down, as ever.

Nights in Small, Hot Rooms

They worked both more and less than many.

If what they want had remained, not changed

from what they had said they would want they

would bend pennies.

They sweat both more and less than many.

The freedoms of nights in small, hot rooms,

hurtling disdain at the moon, its honey

and plenty:

Those rooms, nights, freedoms

tonight are all they’re eating.


MOONDOG (Howl for Louis Hardin)

You can

sympathize with sociopaths

drinking Wild Irish Rose by the tracks

You can

emote out of narcissism

crying over the pains of your own decisions

You can

drink coffee with terrorists

when you’re frightened of your parents

You can

avoid the pits of pop culture

until your self-righteousness ruptures


you can’t taste the nectar

you can’t touch the narrative

you can’t go back

till you’ve realized

your own prison.

Let It Burn

Tonight, I thought about certain kinds of people who, because of the state of our country, whether they are Left-of-Sanders Lefties (as I am) or Trump supporters who have no ideology but white privilege and supremacy, say, “Let it burn.” I thought about these people, who think the U.S. is doomed if it doesn’t and damned if it don’t, whether they blame greedy politicians and heartless corporations or people of color and the poor. I thought about people in much more oppressed and bleak parts of the world who risk life and limb for progress and justice in lands where both are scarce. And I thought of these Americans, and of my own occasionally jaded attitude, and I thought, f*** these people. They must be pretty comfortable to adopt such attitudes. What, because the United States isn’t what YOU think it should be, we should just “let it burn”? I’m sorry you hate Muslims and Mexicans or Hilary Clinton. I’m sorry injustice and inequality are still alarmingly rampant. But if your best idea is to let it burn, why not, instead, self-immolate, or blow your brains out?* Because even in the most horrid corners of the world, people are struggling against all odds—repressive regimes, daily lives that make our worst look gorgeous—to improve things. Because it’s a life instinct, a survival instinct. We are far from a healthy democracy, but we have more hope and more comforts than most. *And for the record, when I say “blow your brains out”, I mean blow all the stupid, pig-headed hatred out of your stupid head.

After Postmodernism (A Poem)

Selected Feedback for Online Sellers, 2014-2016

Swing-A-Way 407BK Portable Can Opener, Black: “Very Nice!”  (Four Stars)


New OEM Samsung ETA3U30JBE MicroUSB Wall Travel Charger.: “Great!” (Five Stars)


Beethoven: The Complete Symphonies Volume II: “I ordered this three disc set, and I got three discs. However only one of them belonged to the set I ordered. Disc two was from the same composer’s first volume of the same series. Disc three was not even Beethoven; it was a disc from a Haydn set. Luckily I enjoy the music on all discs, and it did arrive on time, though I would have waited longer for the item to be properly prepared.”  (Two Stars)


Staples Letter/Legal File Box, Translucent Smoke: “Great.”  (Five Stars)


Listen! Early Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets Series): “Great!”  (Five Stars)


Hanes Comfortblend Sweatpant, Light Steel, L:  “Wonderful!”  (Five Stars)


The Paintings of Joan Mitchell:  “This excellent book arrived in a well- and carefully-packed box, and in great condition overall. Thanks, Friends of the Champaign Public Library!”  (Five Stars)


Vintage Vaults ( 4 Cd Set ):  “The item was listed as ‘Very Good.’ By anyone’s standards but the seller’s it would be considered ‘Acceptable.’ An optimist might call it even ‘Good.’”  (Two Stars)

The Autograph Man:  “Cool.”  (Five Stars)

The Beetle Gets the Bum’s Toss

To signal spring and summer,

The Freeze drops its shutters

selling price-gouged icecream

Then vegetable stands arrive

some time in July

but they do not take Discover.

Then inevitable middle of October, the beetle back, the one

I flung from my room several late summer days ago in afternoon.