This ancient scrap
just tinder for life’s roar
inside your head the freeway
guns patrol, no need to scour
the world for portents.
So much you find protects
indifferently, your own undoing
everything you loved.
Who would have thought
what’s left could have such drive,
to pace the house and disregard
each frantic missive,
the tyranny of what goes on
when you’re not there.
So caught off guard,
so intercepted
by this flagging imposter,
this figment, this


The plinth slips, our fate,
too late we see the seismic
inevitability where
the caulk of our remarks won’t hold,
nor will our constellation,
torpedoes, or metallic corridors
still the lathe of arrival,
or the past boring up through the floor,
how we forget in our
amazing scrapes and episodic
sorrows how fast injury
becomes incarceration.






the sky thick with crows and then
trees ripe with them—not a day
for beginnings or endings or
brushing up against your heart’s
fleshy O-ring and plans for flight

mulberries thick on the ground
a spindly persimmon tree–fruit
mostly seeds, flesh best when
on the verge of putrefaction
how things were ready when they fell
that was how you learned
the meaning of time passing

someone might recall every color
and heartbeat in a distant day
as if recollection were true, as if
something numinous could emerge
from a paste of surmised details,
feelings dressed up as solid things
the locular all locked up, as if
one could get past glassy surfaces
reflecting only everything
that cannot get inside

you slip away from living so much
you forget how the day has
its different times and moods
how the mere sound of a human voice
conjures things words only leave spaces for


a little waiting, yes,
and waiting out
the pristine smoke and
rumblings of domestic life
we imagine
looking out on old rocks
and fashionings
how, we think, they
must or must not have
loved as we do
greeted or dreaded
the morning sun
collectively attuned
to things to be done
making all the same
bad or good guesses
what to do
what was to come
as small and finely
calibrated as
the birth of longing &
its prompt attendant loss
anticipated, predicated
on past devastations
or tales of them
or the organized chaos
of the seer, one
driven from the village
we envision there
where nothing much is left
though much was done
now that we know less or more
of the grinding implications
of time
the clock in the cell
that clocks going forth
just as well as laying it down
the sturdy fencing of
the clattering gears
of industry
with its well-lit sad places
and the slaves we make
of ourselves
or the seers sent
down a dark well to
retrieve a thing of light
how they are punished
even if they relent
there are yet disasters to add
to the blame cast on them
just for saying true things
no one will hear

Only Creature

the loneliest creature
a mate without a mate,
no place to land or launch,
floating, rolling, sailing
from wind to solar wind,
not looking, but listing
toward stormy surfaces,
hanging between pull and
pull away, not sad,
just wandering, a universe
deep dark, that shining thing
far off, all that distance
like loss before you know
it’s loss, like love before
you know it’s love.


A night sky like some deep fabric unfurled
above these luminous reflections in
a dark canal, reflections so bodied
they lend substance to our damp inside night
of stone floors worn down smooth by others not
unlike us sleeping here in lumpy beds
or by candlelight reading or writing
or fretting at things we can do nothing
about, there in the distance some someone
idly pushes at impastoed shutters
and leans out to see the stars in that sky.

The Same Three Steps Over And Over And Over


Two monkeys at the Braneshire Zoo have become psychotic from living their lifetime in captivity with each other. Mikey, 25, and Neena, 30 have been napping long hours and trashing their toys and walking the same three steps forward and backward over and over again. Dr. Rob Robb, animal psychologist and erstwhile marriage counselor has a plan for psychotherapy to save the primates from their madness. He plans to “vary their menus and give them unbreakable toys.”

vary their menus give them unbreakable toys vary their long psychotic unbreakable naps give them menus vary their together give them unspeakable boredom vary their psychotherapy save them from captivity

the       same       three       steps forward and backward and forward and backward same         three         steps same         same         three steps     steps     steps over over over over over over over over

save the monkeys from madness vary their menus and unbreakable toys save the monkey madness vary their primates and madden their menus save the monkeys from psychotherapy vary their madness and save the toys from the monkey step madness



Two psycho monkeys at the Braneshire Zoo are the subjects of a novel form of therapy. The primates’ psychologist—who has already varied their menus and given them unbreakable toys—is now training them to thread needles in the hope that learning to sew will lessen the tedium of captive togetherness.

rhesus reversus mod 5    Neena (l.) and Mikey (r.) learning to sew!

vary their menus give them captivity toys vary their  l     o     n     g  monkey napping hours give them unbreakables vary their captivity give them umbrellas and psychedelic menus the same three steps over and over and over     and  over again and again and again

S1: I feel so fuckin’ bad about this. You know, we really were negligent in not noticing their distress sooner. I thought they were fine until people kept asking where the ‘dancing monkeys’ were. I guess despair may look like dancing to some people. But it’s not dancing. S2: I kept trying to explain to the reporter–yes, the one with the whole-body reptile tattoos–that Neena and Mikey are not “psychotic” and that interventions for stereotypy are not “psychotherapy.” But she said, “Look, nobody will read something like “Monkeys Lose Hope,” but everyone will read “Psycho Monkeys.” S1: Do you think she’d go out with me, I mean, if she got to know me better? S2: She also asked me if the obsessive stepping thing might be some form of primate culture, like yam-washing. Oh please.

____________________________ Inspired by an article about three polar bears by Steve Newman, “Earth Week,” 1 April 1989 The San Francisco Chronicle altered image; original from

Nine Pages

the page long and blank
invisible birds fly through
its soft emptiness

the empty page waits
for cold fires to strike up
warm conversation

perhaps the empty
page is not something before
but something after

what has been erased
hides out behind the page and
shows up in your dreams

nothing on the page
someone was just passing through
sweeping up behind

late night the blank page
vibrating ghostly paisley

the blankest page stares
all you’ve forgotten lost there
invisible cache

sometimes you fill it
up but it still seems empty
better go outside

sometimes it fills up
without you–thunder, lightning
better step aside







where’s the muse these many days
that visitor of my soul with the voice
all its little flags and stones
its long corridors and hiding places
its electricity and galaxies, its days
in from the rain and its parades
the thrill of its knock out, the sad
of its sad, its bones and finery
its sackcloth and muddy sandals
the message it arrives with now
in a language I don’t understand


Think of us, the many of us
cut for fuel, think how we rested
in shallow water when we died
still tied to the way we fell.
Think of the country we then
occupied beneath your passing by,
the uncomplaining ranks of us
in each our solitude. Think how
little murder looks like sacrifice
depending on your point of view.
Think of us still holding onto
some mystery we could not let go
until you came to turn us into
something burning and alive.

All the Parts

the quiet laboratory
the alien ship
with its solemn eye
& mystic gardens
dark birds, wide water
the sleepy volcano
an outing, a stroll
the swing with its
flour-sack pillows
smelling of sun
nightfall, glowing
trees change places
& stumble you
dream, yellow fields
old ash, heat deep
in the ground
all the parts
of you

The Secret Animal

bamboo rad crop - mod 3 cmcRichard Devroe became fascinated with little things when he was four years old and his parents died.  His Aunt Rebecca told him to sit quietly in the entryway of the house before the memorial service, and all he knew was that his mother and father had gone up into the air in an airplane and disappeared.  Sitting in a hard, dark chair, he vaguely construed the scene as one of waiting for his parents’ return despite what his aunt had told him.  She had said that they were “never coming back,” but waiting here alone like this, Richard began to take that as meaning that they were somehow invisible now, that they would come back but he might not know it.

He tried to recall his parents’ faces and hands.  He could almost conjure up the feeling of being spoken to and touched in a comforting way, not like now with Aunt Becca, whose perfunctory affection only momentarily reeled him in from wherever he was drifting.  His parents’ presence had always put him solidly in place in the world.  Now there was nothing but this chair drifting in a narrow room, and the experience of his own yearning to be elsewhere, where they were.  While the clock on the wall behind him clicked off an eternity of seconds, he stared at a shaft of sunlight that came in through the window in the door and made a small golden pool of light on the floor near him.  If his parents were invisible, they must be even smaller than the dancing motes of dust in that shaft of light.  Then Richard Devroe tried to wish himself as small as things would be if they were never coming back but nonetheless returned.

Though Aunt Rebecca was not cruel, she was extremely high-strung and self-involved and could thus be brutally dismissive, and she considered child-rearing a process of enforcing quiet, polite behavior.  Thus, in the months that followed Richard’s moment of enlightenment, he had plenty of time to meditate solemnly on modes of existence unavailable to the untrained eye.  Continue reading