Up All Night

up all night, when day comes one doesn’t
belong to it somehow, having traveled
great distance to arrive in a place
materializing for the first time,

or discovering the world has gone on
without you and you’re something of a ghost,
still, there’s a peace in it, the morning with
its birds and garbage trucks, and the usual

sensory disturbances, meteors,
distant fireworks, and that damned noise always
in your head like a world full of June bugs, the
sound of those swamps along the Pascagoula,

like places people have never been or
should not go into, all that ochre mud
and oppressive moss and cypress trees,
you don’t remember fishing, just that

someone caught a gar, but you remember
the boat low and slow and being afraid
to dip your hand in, all those prehistoric
things under that muddy water and on

the banks tiny creatures popping up from
the mud like strange flowers blossoming,
unless you’ve conflated that with another
time and place, South Carolina coast

a host of small crabs erect and waving
as if telling you to go away, the
things one’s mind returns to, though when you get
down to it, you don’t have a memory

for fine detail and suspect other people
invent that lavishment they recall,
while you recollect only flashing
images and feelings words can only

sneak up on and stall the revelation,
now this morning sky and you’re thinking how
you’d like to spend the day just watching clouds,
just watching the way they do, without

thinking they look like anything else,
just trying to look through seeing,
to get clear of seeing, that magnetic
pull to make the world cohere, though of course

one is clear of all of it soon enough,
that wash of feeling one could have been
anywhere but here one is, till letting go
comes upon you more stringently than

hanging on to what anyway—dreams and
expectations, things that seem to have
continuity because they don’t exist–
how panic can feel like exhilaration

as if one has things still to experience
that bring joy, not mere release from sorrow
but something that busts up into the room
with its own kind of glad, how to get

the past to let go of you, you have to
relinquish what it has taken that’s gone,
how now I know you talk to the cats when
you think nobody else is awake.

Noisy Birds


Noisy birds–hollering,
iterating, so loud and close
they’re in your head: wake up.
If no one hears,
does it even matter how you
squeeze the interval
or sweep the yard?
But what do I know,
it’s the bird’s world.
In my dark wood,
birds too far up to hear
make nets to catch
the stars and weather,
but down here there’s
not enough air left for
the middling get-through
when the future’s done,
just the sound of not listening,
the buzz of mere medium,
so no matter what you say
it’s just the meme
passing through you,
phatic static
and a lot of hailing.
Not that anything is
wrong with that of course,
now the freeway’s louder
than the birds.

Image: British Library 13th century, Sloane MS 3544, f. 24r http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/illuminated-manuscripts/page/2/

up down up

dover tarot la torre mod 5

transmissions from my somewhat life-like current life

this morning every morning

birds wake me up before I’d ever want to wake up in the world first the usual formal hollering of

the one-note bird just outside the window then the more complex one out there iterating five minutes here five minutes there then doing it faster and faster not like the mourning doves I’d hear later on if I were here later on and I’m thinking

wherever he is he cannot hear you or he isn’t listening, didn’t, wasn’t

but here now this closer down-here piece of that collective twittering one hears that’s like an invisible net between weather that’s all way up there when you’re walking in the woods

down here where there’s not even any wind in this dark wood you’ve been wandering since past the middle but you’re still alive knowing you’re down here because you know you’re not up there where the birds are

you can’t see them you imagine they are making a place with sound

a full place maybe, maybe not like the big empty incessant human twittering makes after awhile it’s all just sound no message only medium no matter what it says it says I am here or I am here you are there or stay there or come here, or we are here, or here we are or are we here? or where are you?

or hear me hear me hear me here here here 

no matter what song comes out of you it’s just the meme passing through you and a lot of hailing and bystanding

sometimes from outside it’s like the scene lovers make in public places transported by feelings for the otherness of each other that transcends eachness

though later on you know it’s just the only oneness the imperative of our species makes of all of us but there they are close to doing something the concept of private was invented for we think we’re bugged by what? their lack of decorum or thinking they think their rapture has conferred invisibility upon the proceedings or even that we know

from having ourselves been inside where they are that it is we who are invisible in this tawdry sublime we’re in that everything else is in that we have no measure for

we are big in it even when it makes us small though perhaps I am thinking from the old world still inside me not the new one in which everything is public and it’s all just the same

so I’m recording the birds and now the birds are gone and I’m just hearing the freeway but I know that later when I listen the birds are there still I just don’t have ears for it and I’ll also hear what sounds like interference

probably just the grinding sound of my usual morning hope that I can postpone the way work locks down on my mind before I even get there despite everything the birds say about being in your day and I’m looking for a pen and paper and thereby

forgetting whatever I needed to say that was what really woke me or maybe it was something the bird was saying or wanted me to say

all long gone now back to the dream pool or to outer space where it makes lonely orbits around dying stars and says only I was here or rather

I was it and now it is some other thing

how looking for a pen has become my person from Porlock who gets here earlier and earlier each day why the fuck do all five million of them become invisible when all you want is just one, I glance at the keyboard and think nah it’s just not the same

though that’s probably just the little peeping sounds of my nostalgia for what I learned from my first real friend–Marcia Hodge wherever you are that’s you though you probably didn’t know it

we’re in your dorm room you show me a poem you composed on your typewriter and I say you can write poetry on the typewriter?

and you say why the hell not?

what a discovery that what you think for yourself didn’t always have to be thought with a pen, that you could also think what matters to you on that portable manual thing god I am so old you took to college thinking it wasn’t in a way really yours because it had to be dedicated entirely to the abysmal papers you would write and now

in one of the several nows that are thens where I am from time to time thinking where is that old thing

it made you do physical labor for words and that seemed right and so many worlds away from all the subsequent pocka pockas that aren’t yours even if they are having been like everything else requisitioned by work stealing all the real words from your day because work and work wordage chews so much out of you you know

it’s true what Trevor said it kills you in the end . . . it’s no joke

it’s all just endless killing documentation of documentation and the endless easiness of spectacle the documentation the spectacle the spectacle the documentation Skinner box dribs and drabs of sugar the furious lever checking of intermittent rewards

it slips in and roughs things up until

now I’m thinking of another recording one misplaced in the jumble of the former life I live my somewhat life-like current life in

Thundering Rainstorm cheap cd from the drugstore checkout line it was the lightning on the cover that got me oh where it took me when I listened to it

the thing about summers of breathing thunder and rain you can’t explain to someone not from there the way thunder and rain and lightning put scattered things and selves in places they belong like something talking to you from underneath the racket of intention

not the crisp peace of the thundering rainstorms of faraway home but enough to rock you to sleep

after months years maybe of sleeping through the endless loop of the sound of rain that would leave stinging marks on your skin if you were out in it

suddenly hearing in it an artifact of its recording the sound of someone moving the microphone

feedback so ephemeral I replayed it ok obsessively replayed it to see if I was really hearing it and then since nothing is too slight to tell a tale I started hearing

all the other sounds in it that weren’t weather

something homey and slightly creepy about it little creaks like the ones your feet and the floor make when you are trying to keep quiet you tell yourself you’re just imagining it

loud rustlings the sound of reading newspapers patterings that aren’t rain but things on the roof probably squirrels and some kind of exhalation maybe a sigh or somebody smoking a joint someone gesticulating why not fuck yeah

so then I start listening for things inside thundering rainstorm sounds that have become someone on a porch in a place where the sound of the rain is the sound of it hitting leaves that I estimate to be about the size of those on mulberry trees and the sound of gushing gutters and then the sound of someone settling into a chair and lighting a cigarette and sometimes two people on that porch playing cards or embracing or just sitting side by side

looking out past the porch where rain is erasing the rest of the world and we think we are seeing the same thing or that what we are seeing is making us feel the same thing thinking things we know not to be entirely true

I loved you anyway

the Grand Canyon when we were moving out to the left coast your crazy self dropping acid and getting me to and I go back to the car to get the camera through a parking lot that has metamorphosed into time itself

then can’t get the door to lock so I’m stuck till finally  through a long process of thought fraught with long moments of something other than thinking I assess the worth of the property in the car as being less than the worth of getting back to you

back through the parking lot again that has now started to yawn then snagged in a crowd of attractive excessively cheerful tourists getting back on the scenic bus

and then the place has emptied out and the sun is going down and I find you and there you are like some natural thing a tree or a cactus but translated into cartoon goofiness and I say what are you laughing at? and you say

just the way it does

I’m thinking holy mother it’s a long way down

thinking everything is just the way it does, that the world indeed is all that is the case if at least for the moment that can mean that as soon as we know it we never again belong where we are because we know we are not what we think we are

when we’re in this world we imagine that makes us alive by virtue of the magical powers of trees and rocks and words and other people

the world we make that is not the world that’s all the case is

but it’s all the case we have.