(after Kobayashi Issa)


I keep house continuously,

but don’t worry. I promise

to move you and your sisters.

Golden Shovel

I worry that I’m not better til

something reminds me that I am human:

fragmented clips of barking dog voices.

On the couch I wake.

Afternoon has come to us,

thoroughly bright and

warm with sun. Together we

are strange and in breezes drown.


Will you come in through the door, knocking,

asking to be let in?

Or are you gonna kick that sucker down?


I was born inside the house, kept

inside for my health and wellbeing

protected inside.

Where am I meant to go now?


Destroyer on the doorstep,

here with a warrant.

In the Library – hour 6

In the library

(like a poem from before

but less rhyming)

production in solitude

no noisy cats or barking dogs

I get the sense that I have not

done what you wanted


I think about parts

of some art that don’t

exist in poetry

like sequels

like covers, renditions

like remakes, adaptations.

Think of some for painting

in the library of all art.


I remember the light in the library,

sequences of relaxation.

Use your hands to climb the stairs.

These are running together now,

like we did, bad kids

who were fully adult.

I can’t write the sequel poem

but I remember the first time

I wrote this poem

about him in another library, of law

low to the basement ground.

Borden’s Boardman Dairy

There was still industry mixed into the suburbs. The organic genesis of the town in mid-century saw sandwich shops and school children pop up next to concrete manufacturers. I was a photographer in high school. At that time, most of the industries were in their deterioration phases, not fully disintegrated yet. There was still a video store, although it was languishing on last analog legs. What was left of the dairy was a two-story factory building without much glass left in the windows. Loading docks in the back were missing doors. Inside, remnants of conveyor machinery, abandoned milk crates. A typical rust belt place for teenagers. At that time, I was not creative or observant enough to imagine how the place at work or put it in words. The milk of unseen cows, uddering its way mechanically into plastic jugs while I was still in elementary school, shuttling down the belts in the plastic milk crates. They used glass bottles before; my father lived in the same neighborhood while he was in high school. This is a memory without story. A friend and I shot sophomoric photographs and carried around skateboards. Somewhere, cows must rejoice that there is no more Borden’s Boardman Dairy.

The Nature of the Best – HR 4

The nature of the best

auditory and visual

sometimes the formal

is stifling

ties too tight

dresses constricting

down left right

I don’t know


The nature of the best

I don’t know

audits are stifling

too tight around the waist

down left right

follow the chart quarterly

dress for success


The nature of the best

is stifling

practice for tightness

auditory is visual

down left right

notes to know

exercises are constricting


The nature of the best

diminishing, constricting

as the nature of all the rest

down left right

stifling in the ground

Crooked shack on a snowy plain near mountains

More of the same fields rise

when driving past. Skim over

the ancient junk piles,

measures of time and waste from

the rural professor,

the ubiquitous poverty

of ideas about how to clean this

abandonment and romance.

Romance is not actually happening

here or anywhere.

Repose inside the lack of touch,

the lack of poet body

like a house slowly eroding into the ground,

present and unknowable.

Put two hands on the steering wheel

at whatever time seems to offer

the most control. Get to work

on time.

Concerning Expression

Concerning expression

What cannot be expressed by taboo cannot be expressed by people in crisp, white suburban houses. What else cannot be expressed is like that which animals and babies cannot express. What exists in ticket lines and ATM transfers. Drug stores and allergy medicine. Before grief. The cacophony of the zoo, as illustrated in a child’s picture book. Some character climbs over or under the bars to commune with a lion. The lion cannot express its yearning to negotiate with the parent reading the book to her child who cannot express the book in words. Look, look. We have no choice. The parent expresses in sex in spite of herself. Inconsequentially, rejoice.

The Gardener

The Gardener


Unprepared and precious,

I lift them out with two hands.

I find in the dirt of my new garden

decrepit plastic whiffle balls,

cracked open like an eggshell on one side

where nothing has escaped,

empty from inception,

and chunk pieces of cinderblock

foundation. I dig in my own dirt

of my own yard, and lift a metal padlock,

or unearth a round rock

paving stone

or gray orb, egg unbroken by

water and air and fire of the sky

which beat onto the rocks and me,

the dirt of the new beds,

my seedlings,

the dog in the yard,

and the used porch furniture

rescued from the neighbors’ curbs.

All the green and plastic life they wet, and breathe, and heat

measure out in my shovels of dirt.