Second Life

We knew we would die and we didn’t care. When we discovered we were already dead, we reckoned we’d been conscripted.

For several millennia we walked the outer wall, which was not the same wall if one thought of it as, say, an inner wall, which is not to say that we ever knew where we were or who we were, if we were us or if we even knew each other.

At first–in a remnant of maybe someone’s old neighborhood or maybe some coastal sort of place where we were maybe born–there was only one landmark: an iridescent oil slick, left behind, someone claimed, by a factory of former ones plying furtive somethings in remote and desperate locales. Well, hell, someone said, is quite remote, but others disagreed, saying hell was usually located rather close to where one lived and thus, given that we were dead and all, probably was not the remote we were in.

Rumors reached us that our pets were pacing morosely about near some
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In the Dreamy Dream

in the dreamy dream the deer becomes
a dinosaur, the hunter hangs his clothes
out on the line, the stop sign does not say stop
the clocks do not keep time, the dogs
have made a playhouse with the wolves

in the dreamy dream you drive a dreamy car
that becomes a dreamy boat that then becomes
a dreamy snake–listen, he whispers
something sinister is going on beneath
those dreamy trees down at the dreamy pond

in the dreamy dream the blood pressure cuff
is a shark’s mouth, all measurements
everywhere close down
someone is saying something but
you are hearing all the things
no one has ever said

in the dreamy dream no one is waiting for you
when peace comes everyone is gone, when
all the world has been translated
no one lingers, no one arrives
every door there has a secret
every revelation has a secret side



Betty burned the house down later.
Before that, there was everything.
Each day thinking maybe not,
before the dreaming came.
The script was unclear on several points.
Shuttered rooms. Always dusk,
clouds almost amber.
Wolf at the edge of the clearing,
a flash, then gone.
Not much point in laying it out–
it always looks the way it looked before:
the day filtered down into
something that glimmers and sways.
Distant persistent tapping or
frenzied violin.
Of the things that must be counted mercy,
forgetfulness was one.


When you pass through

When you pass through to the other side,

there is no other side though

memories of it infiltrate your dreams.

And who can tell memory from imagination

unless the harshest brand.

There’s the tree line, past that,

you could walk your life and still

the skirt of the galaxy would be far away

at night. The satellites that cross your sky and

Where red lights do not cause alarm

Even in the woods far away

Where you lost your dog

The still beleaguered prototype

The series that can never end

Despite the feeble star

The riot that began in innocence

Where monuments replace the memories

The horror maven waits inside the house

Where lost things go to rehearse return

While the ghost throws things around

Where the portrait in its cave

Speaks and no one hears

Having shammed it years long before

When the guest can’t sleep at night

And later on raccoons and skunk



Things essential flotsam now

Wild thing in the woods

Holding your breath for so long

Till the strictures of


Your only home

Each day’s revelation

Our hasty barricades

Encounters III

noaa old mag lightning multiple rszd

   more sci fi haiku

commercial airplane
paced by glowing cigar
30,000 feet

students on spring break
independently report
looming pie-shaped craft

three truckers report
red elliptical objects
hovering above

man shoots pistol at
bright object circling his car
misses, passes out

two men are fishing
lusterless craft in the sky
pulls them up inside

bright cone-shaped object
glides leisurely through the trees
hunters astonished

physics professor
daughters, dogs on camping trip
huge disc flashes by

glowing craft descends
into eucalyptus trees
cats in a circle



Encounters II

noaa old mag lightning multiple rszd

more sci fi haiku

Midnight. At the barn.
Dogs and cows agitated.
Low rumbling disc.

Buzzing. And whooshing.
First thought it was the neighbor.
Big humanoid.

Was out mowing yard.
Earth erupted. Massive ship.
Flew off to the north.

Reflection in pond
like five big moons with red lights.
Lifted up the boat.

Only the moonlight,
everything blue, it was
shaped like a cigar.

Set down in pasture
right yonder. Shook and shimmied.
Never seen the like.

It called in my sleep.
Not my name, something in me.





noaa old mag lightning multiple rszd

sci fi haiku

shiny vibrating
cylinder hovers above
woods, animals freeze

luminescent craft
buzzing fucks up radio
trucker prays in field

women driving home
stunning light, vehicle swarmed
tiny humanoids

teenagers camping
superfast spacecraft arrives
drinking and loud sex

tall frilly spacemen
emerge from haystack-shaped ship
police call it in

Traveler, Dream

One hears the cipher in what the other says,
this impossibility, frail but bristling,
so unlike an afterthought, the gates already
down, always happening and always over,
the you that patrols fences and quibbles

over boundaries, the trouble we have
seeing others as ourselves in our poor
translation. We crawl out amazed things
look the same after all that work and the din
of endearments. But we’d persist despite

the sink holes we fly over in our dreams
as if we really know the things we dissect—
deserts, crows strutting the road or shuddering up
from empty trees, plank roads, mud. It did in fact
always end the same way—as if mortality

were not secure but could be contracted,
factories of replication churning
and then the way you have to concentrate
to see living getting done until there’s no
need to imagine one could have proceeded

otherwise. Love, then, so like the wind—known
only by its effects, clothes flapping on the line,
trees’ shivering sway, nature’s own light shifting
like a strobe, the heart like an animal loosed
from long captivity. Our gaze a mask, our

little armor for a stroll, a casual
but precise repast. Looking back, lies still look
true so sturdy was the moment of belief—
that little space in which things seem what they are,
the other not your fellow but your cage,

an abiding inside, the seamless folly
of your captured state, your dreams unlocking
every door, the time to settle far past.
Nonetheless, one walks out, one cannot regret
what arrives already done, the invisible

thing you loved, panic coming on like flashing
particles suspended in the medium
you’re made of, the past no longer a place
to visit, no one ever really there. When there’s
nothing left in you but thirst or hunger, someone

comes out to chase you away. So much for
knowing the disaster comes, or how deception
unravels the future too—but one still hopes,
there is no blame, no use bemoaning the
mundane mojo of wanting to live,
knowing that you’ll go on foot from here.


You May

You may know our secret history but not
its secret plot, our words though what we say
no longer lives in them—so close to see, so
close to not. You may know us if you find
beneath knotted jungle our dilapidated
temples and winged bridges, our fortresses
with gates of woven iron, but will you see
in our universe of slide the places where
we found our mortality? Unknowable
now those complex scrims so like the real thing
they thrilled us from afar, or our enemies,
soft-footed, but unable to resist comment
on their stealth, coming in loud as the geese
that flew in from our fairytales, their burdened
skirts and later immolation. But still
to be known the umbral armature of
last words and last things, and the monster that
lives along the river in whose shadow
children, and sometimes lovers, disappear.






I dreamed I didn’t have to put things off,
was already some Gracie out of cartoon orbit
around some George, had her plummy
voice with a wire running through it, was
supernumerary, another woman already
there and wanting us out.

The new ones never know the man
has all his women with him all the time,
a bit lower than higher, someplace only
desperate birds would nest.  Move over.

Those dreamers who thought god’s own
world was a vast slick plain of nothing, humans
just defacements of celestial vacations.
Such gods as are left us like their worlds
mirror-smooth, devoid of impediment.

I pass down this way undone by places
where he took his heart and stayed,
everything always unfinished now,
every day always already yesterday.

The cat watches for what she only hears,
waits for nothing to fill up with a mouse
(that mouse, in fact, has been eating her
food for a week). If we couldn’t conceive of
a circle, everything would bang right out.

How the heart trudges us around like
ponies people put kids on at fairs,
paying to ride an imaginary pony, not
the real one, not the sorry rag some
dipshit bully can make of your life,
always facing the butt in front of you,
someone else always facing yours.
Round and round.

Far out where you cast your mind, that blue
at the edge of your head you know inside:
a ship in a waterspout.

The sound of water waving in a metal pan,
the dipper in the day’s allotment,
how scarcity begs us to ration
the things we cannot live without.

Those Were


Those were not distant places,
in the end they were close by–
hedged estates, empty but inside
lit up like carnivals or fires,
strict way stations where the trains
we waited for were not the ones
we took, beds we sat beside
to watch and wait the little hour
that’s always gone before it comes
because it always comes too soon.
I dream of you now in places
not places but pure time
as close and far away as
stars that seem to take all night
to slide across our sky, or the
muddy riverbanks that made us
that smelled like blood and tin
and deeper in that sense that you
belong someplace you’ll never see
or never see again.
Like the silence inside thunder
everything that lets you know
that dirt that grows is the same
as dirt that buries, that sorrows
we all bear, we bear alone,
things that can’t be mended
the way they’re always borne.

altered image; original image from NOAA Photo Library