Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Can’t stop, won’t stop . . .



Say Emily, my piano playing better half 

sporting cat glasses and a floral sundress

bent to sniff a bundle of fresh daisies, then

dashed across a bridge—frfr—just as my 

iPod cued Ahmad Jamal’s cover of “Wave.”

Both a wave and a tear can be falling water.

A wave can be water or a flag rippling. Some

flags can be read. And surely as the Em Dash 

is named for Dickinson, before wrestling with 

her texts, maybe I needed an ESL course:

Emoji as a Second Language. Perhaps she fled

because I couldn’t tell the difference between 

semaphore & metaphor or perhaps because 

I failed to play a more dominant chord, 

or perhaps she simply longed for the longer 

fingers of a pianist to key the silent C

of her efflorescence. Maybe you’ve already

read about how I allegedly gave her a ring 

of rust on the windowsill of her heart, or how I

couldn’t see Emily could begin with the number e 

or how soon afterwards I slowly crossed north 

over a cantilevered bridge in May to toss a bouquet

of daisies into the Monongahela. Say certain 

things accumulated a few scents toiling overtime 

in the olfactories, why couldn’t a fine pollen have

also briefly finessed a sneeze? My Beloved 

fled just as Jamal began fingering falling water. 

And here I should be frank, right? Forget that, 

even if it’s true, let’s not claim I misread Emily

due to the wavy sines piercing my ears. Say,

in place of her neck I nosed a bottle-blue scarf 

she’d left on the arm of a sofa. A steel cantilever 

here only holds up reality. In green truth, I couldn’t 

smell farewell until she high-heeled out the door.

As she sliced up the street, late sunlight outlined

her cobbled path and I came to believe in God

as perhaps metaphor or sugar pill. But I still couldn’t

imagine tears as more than waves of salt water

under the bridge of her glasses. Didn’t Emily beg us

to “dwell in possibility” ? Why couldn’t i imagine

a Bill Evans tune spanning keys like crow’s wings

darkening the day’s eye until my heart gave out 

a refrain that rhymed with the waving of daisies?

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Visions and revisions

I may be merely deluding myself, but I have always considered myself a poet in the tradition of radical love, like for example the Sufis. These revisions of a few poems from my book “Ideas of Improvisation” on Thread Makes Blanket Press, might be the closest I’ve come yet to achieving that dream.


for Yen


haven’t I always loved

to say 'acetaminophen,'

even before I knew 

if it rhymed 

with the currency

or voltage of your name

or even before the faces

of other women

appeared to warn

how words could twist 

into the darkness

of nibs of licorice?

Unlike your name 

acetaminophen isn’t

a flame-colored word

pitting spots of Sriracha

on the white cloth of silence,

although both have

been known to raise 

a man’s blood pressure

like the top of Schrödinger’s box.

I still dream of some words

Swedish massaging

knots of my heart,

even as others

like 'acetaminophen,'

sharpen into steel swords

to draw blood.

Your name

retains a nocturnal hum—

a lunar pill in a language

not under my tongue.

Old men 

who draw thin 

in poker games

continue to claim 

Hope never becomes 

habit forming. 

A Knave of Hearts,

i may have licked

its stains from both lips 

while attempting to smile

in neurotypical.

Did Hafez not write

that the gnarly roots 

of hope 

may be boiled 

into an extract

to alleviate

even the barking cough

of loneliness?

Some nights my bark

is a listing boat,

other nights

an overcoat.

Because it

sometimes seems

your eyes dot

an expired prescription,

my cheeks still seek 

to rhyme 

with acetaminophen.

Perhaps this simply

lacks a calculus

of lavender,

but tonight

let one sliver 

of the white pill

of the moon 

find the mouth 

of this man 


to lift the weight

of your name

until light.


a free jazz of ashes buried or scattered by a ¿dead? cat in a different key

which perhaps could appear 

—beloved—as points 

on the musical taste 

of The Black Raspberries,

although the shrubs might be 

mostly bladed petals and

it was quite a pinch 

when a light note later

the tax purposes of thorns 

entered us for the first time

via a Pointillist painting 

of a pond that sounded

tailored in the moment by Cecil 

pleating some fundamental theorem 

of jazz i hadn’t fathomed,

yet heard again and again 

beyond the decaying 

of those phrases

or the raspy syntax 

which Apophenia—

that cleromantic diva—

might’ve brayed or splayed, 

maybe to diagram

for spiritual reasons

as a Drunken Garden, 

but why not also 

to venture in

or splinter out until 

some feeling inspires

a round of blade-dancing

raised up to the peak of 

a sound science?


a free jazz of ashes buried or scattered by a ¿dead? cat in a different key

which might appear—

beloved—between points 

on the musical taste of

The Black Raspberries,

or why I believed  

the shrubs could be 

mostly petals and

it was quite a pinch 

when a grace note later

the tax purposes 

of the horns pierced I

for the first time

via this Pointillist painting 

of a pond tailored 

in the moment 

by Cecil pleating 

some fundamental theorem 

of jazz I couldn’t 

quite fathom,

yet heard again and again 

beyond the decaying 

of these phrases

or the gaspy syntax which


princess of improvisation—

seemed to fray or splay

into hours to diagram

for science reasons

into a Quantum Garden

and why not

venture in or enter out

until some desire requires

a godly type of ghost note

i might believe in

mostly because

it is not . . .


por il miglior fabbro

nightly probes

the first oh

of whatever emotion

your dark matter

splays open.

Meaning inky-haired 

& lightheaded,

you trace

a circle at your center

pondering if

in a reunion

of broken things

a portrait of the Beloved 

might be Euler’s Identity.

Meaning since the tint

is at least half the sound

and apostasy can loiter

on the tongue as a lozenge,

won’t you seek to phrase

which shade of faith

versus gothic of god

might serve more

than mere ode or elegy?

Meaning at the wheel 

of the warship of worship 

you vie for the root of unity

to unravel extended chords 

and strive to maroon

in the bluest mountains

of duende.

Meaning certain starred charts

—once incomplete—

may become guide

in a bitter suite

as incensed ropes of smoke 

muscle music from hunger

also known as splay

—how want preys 

to probe 

the pouty mouth

of imagination

or queries the angel 

and lion of Evangelion

if the same L 

that links them—

archaic name 

for god or

vernacular for loss—

also superposes the word

in the world.

Meaning what if

the “good news” 

merely concludes 

the Beloved is Apophenia?

Since all musicians 

learn at least twelve ways 

to kneel and kiss the ground,

surely the second O

of said emotion

could mean all things 

in modulation,

perhaps how to be drawn

around a circle of fifths 

or better Picasso keys

into a piano’s grand motif?

Maybe re-choir

the Acknowledgement

of our father?

Meaning a relative minor

to greater absolve 

any resolve for Resolution

or a full-hipped logic

to Bearden the burden

of our double basis

until battered sticks shatter

and every Zildjan 

begins to shiver

into symbols 

brushed by the breadth

of our questions.

Meaning since a talent

may also be a weight,

your gift can give pause—

purpling in turbulent

Pursuance of relief,

wind from a box

spilling uncertain bottled spirits

—e pluribus unum—

as if God was an American 

Sonnet massaged

into the Psalms 

of Wanda’s hands.

Meaning what 

of this gift—

this petition 

signed by two lips

bobbing about

a Brooks theory 

of the Lyric

between lines 

that can twist

to conflate or conflict

until they near

wholly writ?