Monday, April 30, 2007

Getting to Speak

He didn't invent the words.
The words invented him.
You can hear them
leaping out of his mouth
like freed prisoners
or students in June.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Monday Morning Nine AM

Life with all its
dirt and choices
stays outside the place
unless required. Quiet

and clean it remains,
with each corner polished.
She slips in here
every morning
to muffle the din.

All her movement
ties to her mind
and there are other knots,
leg and face and
uniform. She laughs

the intimate laugh
among those who think
they share common cause
but don't imagine
how easy betrayal would be.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


straight away from the sun.
The pretty one
with the yellow hair
turns her face aside.
The faint call of prayer
dissipates into silence.

Those who are drawn
to what is beautiful
flock to it, to be
rubbed, have flecks of it
on skin, crowd around
push their bodies into
prominence, await their chance.

Head straight into the shadow,
for unpopular, smaller, sadder, softer
darker default places,
don't be eager.

Never an eager kiss,
every kiss a bargain,
these don't last
but add to the inventory of
calm incremental love
in the shade without the shouts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Five AM
last time rising
from this bed
1007 California Avenue
Learning and Labor, Illinois.
No one says goodbye
two and one half cold years
they pretend to sleep.

for eight-thirty Trailways
at the cafe-bus-terminal
not a friend, but I'm young
friendship is in my hope.

I can leave this world
clean as a whistle.
Others leave
while I pretend to sleep.
Tears are only for those you miss
and so far
my eyes are dry.

I slip
into the night
while she tells me
about her grip
and her underwear.
Hardly noticed.

The waters of infinity
are dark and rich as soup.
They do not ripple.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Week at a Hotel in a Foreign Country: Inspired by a Movie

An encounter
he thinks as he stands
shaking her hand
with all his attendants milling around
saying goodbye.

He wants to give her a kiss
instead of becoming
a stranger again.

He massaged her feet.
She trusted him.
They talked the deepest
and quietest speech.

And just as the sun
begins to set
and the door of the taxi
opens, he gives her a kiss
and creates big
purple and red

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bus Portrait

She looks into a tiny mirror
from her bag and
fingers an invisible
trace on her lip.

The vertical vein is close
to the surface of forehead
microfiber skin. Her
dark eyes focus downward.

Somebody had paid
attention to her hair.
It is sealed up in
curled braids that take time.

I imagine that she carries value,
has a history, that she is
abundant with words,
but doesn't speak.

I imagine that
unlike me
she is great
at being a stranger.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For You Too Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt

I learn to go away
out into the common air,
out doors
where I don't even
own myself.

I will go somewhere away.
The habit is inserted deep
like a shiv under my flesh.
I will find small comforts
in places that don't answer me.

I will call it fresh air,
be healthy in the unpredictable
land of the stranger. They can
grab my body and take my life.
The air becomes wind.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Grocer

Even those gray people with unkempt looks
whose breath we have never sampled but don't trust,
people whose nights we wonder about,
people whose beds, in our theories,
are tossed and marked with dark bands,
even those people who sleep alone and eat alone and whose
speech is unpracticed,
even they in private make
wistful images of love.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Becoming the Grocer

Stephan Wolfman
was called Steve
when he was young
and friendlier.
His name reverted
to its more formal
varient as he grew
grouchier and his
friends began to bail.

Stephan owned
a grocery store
on the corner of
Higgens and Main,
the coldest and lonliest
corner in the world.
It's torn down now,
replaced by the lawn
of the Aboriginal Center for
spiritual development.

The grocery aged badly,
darkening and repelling
until the only goings on inside
were shadowy movements in the rear
and the windows were
filled with a few pieces of
half rotten fruit.

I would twice daily ride the number 47 bus
which rounds the corner of Higgens and Main
every twenty minutes. I never caught a glimpse
of Stephan Wolfman until I was a few days from retirement.
I saw him emerging through the door
just as the bus rounded the corner
and my eyes had their fill of him.
He looks just like me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What Is In Her Head

On June 28, 2006, Wilhelmena Verplank
of Moosejaw Saskatchewan became
the first human being to turn
her eyes entirely inside of her skull
and physically examine
the interior of her head.

There in her room
filled with studies
of ants, moles
and subway dwellers,
demonstrating a career devoted
to life underground,
she exclaimed"Eureka!"

Freed of the limitations of optics,
she found it all hollow
with tunnels leading into the dark.