Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Dbachman, "Nebra sky disk," 2006

I give. Not up, not in, just out. It is transitory,
this out-giving, like the life of the body, spent
until I’m broke on complex exchanges of what
matters—hope, love, the Krebs cycle, fuel for
my mitochondria, desire, oxidation. My coach
calls this “working to failure;” a holy weakness
that presages strength, a wildfire scorching to
sow. I call it a day, pull the emptied sun down
with me to a hollow where we both will sleep.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Frank Vincentz, "Raddet ir-Roti Cart Ruts, Xemxija
Heritage Trail in St. Paul's Bay, Malta
," 2014

The grid of streets is something like a game board;
the houses, stones. Urban planners, eyes sore and
reddened by the absinthe green wash from those
fluorescent lights overhead, idealists all (who else
would attempt to harmonize overland wagon ruts,
cow paths, and the motion of a new raw century?)
sighing in isolated unison, fingernails tapping out a
neighborhood, its zoning changes—a click on their
keyboard, and a stone’s placed on the goban. O my
boundary setters, leave me a gap in the fence line,
a hollowed out space in your infill, so I can escape.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Ian Paterson, "Downhill Run," 2008

A slight downhill, not enough
to force a change of gait, just
enough to ease the effort, as
if invisible hands were pressed
against the curve of my spine,
pushing me forward. Days are
longer now, pass faster: a cast
shadow from a jet too far away
to be clearly seen. The silvery
shine, a pinpoint flare of light—
it’s so hard to catch my breath.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Tani Bunchō, "Tao Yuanming
Seated Under a Willow
," 1812

The dreams are coming fast and over-
ripe these days, dropping into the tall
grass and melting away before I wake,
nothing left of them but a postcard or
two, the faint wine-breath exhalations
of fermented dream fruit, and an odd
song playing, ear-worming me awake
(last night’s, “Sympathique,” a version
by Pink Martini; the night before it was
Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia.”) So some
wheel’s been set in motion, runnelling
through me. It leaves such a scant path
to follow, but it’s the only path I’ve got.

Friday, June 17, 2016


If beauty is symmetry, let’s not stop at a
layman’s surface definition. The goddess
wouldn’t. Mathematicians define it as a
type of invariance, claim it’s a “property
that something does not change under a
set of transformations.” So it is, with us.
Our surface geometries rumple and scuff,
but, down deeper than either we or the
world can see, our essential property is
symmetry: invariant in love, unchanging
in grace. The infinite transformations of
the material world? An open set, whose
match point’s won, invariably, by beauty.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Eastman Johnson, "The Girl I Left Behind Me," ca. 1872

My grandma taught me how to size and
pluck a blade of grass, press my thumbs
together then pull it tight in the gap, and
blow. We’d whistle up the wind, whistle
a summer storm, whistle the daddy long-
legs that pulsed in the outhouse corners
to doze and then sleep. A green song, so
fine and tender, from a green part of life.
I haven’t played those pipes much lately—
the grass here’s too tough, coarse enough
to endure drought and flood, not as good
for a tune. But maybe, where I’m heading,
those old new songs will come out to play.
Spring green, pushing up towards a pearly
sky; seed and rhizome, bud and blade, girl
and grandma, making a grass whistle sing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Georges de Latour, "Magdalen with the
Smoking Flame
," c 1640-45

The pilot’s gone out. Once, twice, three
times I try to get it to catch, the ticking
piezo not helping. Low sideways glances
confirm it’s time for a kitchen match, if
I can find one in that drawer among the
stabby clutter without cutting myself. A
slow, measured exploration, the tips of
my fingers listening for scattered match-
sticks, my hand hidden—yes, there they
are, two matches fished out and pinned
between my index and middle fingers. I
drag one across a bread stone—no spark,
just a chemical smudge. Another match,
faster strike and drag, and a blossom of
flame unfurls, sparking the pilot too, its
transparent blue streaked with iris. The
light arrives first—the rising heat follows.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


FrankensteinsCyborg, "Acetylsalicylic acid," 2015

The world is too large and complicated for me
to attend it whole; all I can grasp are the small,
least significant facets. My arms and shoulders
ache: that’s one instance of what my attention
can encompass. A small dog is smiling, panting
from the heat of the day—that’s another. The
plumbago, blooming, may be more significant
than the other facets, having stolen bits of the
summer sky for bees. Or perhaps not. My bias
towards beauty leads me into errors of the von
Restorff kind, giving those beautiful things I see
primacy, foregrounding in memory—a trick of
the light, at play with the mind. But if a gem's
beauty begins with the path light takes through
its facets, no wonder I find, even in this cut and
ground-down world, beauty everywhere, light
spilling from every facet, every facet a prism to
parse the world into bright signals, breaking it
open through us, moving light to full spectrum.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Eastnor Pottery, "More Clay Babies," 2009

I could stitch words together on the aesthetics
of a scar, but I’d rather tell you how my ad hoc
kintsukuroi looked nothing like those wabi-sabi
cups, sagacious and gold-veined, sitting quietly
all over Pinterest. The green glass Virgin, broken
in two, didn’t cut me when I brushed an alcohol
soaked swab along her sharp edges. She took a
ribboning of epoxy and gold leaf in good spirits,
holding still while the mix set, but I worked too
fast, striving to set the fix with the artless grace
of a Japanese master potter, achieving only the
artless part. It’s right, I suppose, that the mend
looks as if a five-year-old did it, since the child I
am wanted so very much to heal the keepsake.
A slower mending is forgiveness—of myself, for
my unskillfulness, my attachment to an empty
vessel full of grace, the pointer to what's gone.

Friday, June 10, 2016


John Colosimo (,
"A Galactic view from the Observation Deck," 2015

This body, walking, contains and creates much too much
information to share with you. If digitized, this walking—
streamed to the cloud in a fine-grained flow of Big Data—
would stop. The only cloud vast enough to hold this body
walking might be the Large Magellanic. I need to be lossy
in transmission, an imperfect translation of a physiology
of forward motion (mine) on a sandy path (recollected) to
language that elides as much as it reveals. Poetry is lossy,
just like me. This self is not identical to this body walking;
it’s constructed, compressed, an algorithm with which we
can search for what’s needed to reconstruct the whole of
this body, walking, stumbling towards what’s still unseen.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


NASA Headquarters, "Greatest Images of NASA
," via Wikimedia Commons

I pull a handle, and there’s a loose mechanical racket
from gap-toothed gears and sticky kicker paddles as I
wait to see where the reels stop. Cherry, cherry, and...
lemon—not a winner. That’s just money, though. I’ve
got more important things to bet on, and I am feeling
lucky, a bit of Saint John the Conqueroo tucked away
in a pocket. Let’s spin the dial on a combination lock
that has Class M stars marking n numbers; we are so
close to unlocking infinity, when a bolt settles true in
a notch on the disc-shaped galaxy within, I can feel it
tick like a heartbeat. I’m ready to steal the sky. Those
are the stakes, after all: not a gamble for nickels with
odds set by the house, but picking a lock on treasure
so vast it’s as large as the Milky Way, as large as love.

Sunday, June 05, 2016


Shared on Pinterest, found on Etsy,
original source unknown

We’ve wrapped the family up in thin glass
and chipboard, hoping like hell they never
fall to the floor. The green glass Virgin had
already taken a knock, broken in two right
at the waist by an errant dusting. She was
something Peter found for pocket change
at La Pulga, vessel for what was holy until
a cleaning crew cracked her and hid her: a
crafted thing, not Mary Queen of Heaven,
but still. I’m feeling at least as fragile as all
those keepsakes, now. I wonder, if I learn
kintsugi, could I repair the glass Virgin and
myself, gold lacquer serving as scar and as
stitch? No matter—the dead have no care
for cracked glass, so why should the living?

Saturday, June 04, 2016


A small clatter made by shells as the lake
laps at my feet, shuffles the nacreous or
bone-white calling cards left by recently
departed mollusks. Piled on the mud flat
like beggars’ cupped palms, or cast-offs
from a shoreline three-card monte grift;
all their soft former residents long gone
and literally dis-mantled. What wonders
they were: an inner mantle, secret skins
secreting shields for their tendernesses;
those pilgrims’ markers sheltering them
as they grew fat. It seems simpler to be
housed safe in flesh alone; not restlessly
tossing under cloudy skies, shedding the
artifacts that add drag to my wandering.

Friday, June 03, 2016


ZEISS Microscopy, "CellNova - Montage of images
of micro and macro scale objects
," 2016

To be this little, small as a spore
or a grain of pollen, doesn’t take
much magic. I can put myself in
my pocket, endlessly, recursively
until I vanish in the lint. Enlarging
is more complicated, requiring a
mirror bigger than the 82” in the
Otto Struve Telescope, a bellows
made from papyrus impregnated
with nitrocellulose, and a coulee
wide enough to hide in or project
upon. You might see me, scaling
from µ to M and back again, but
you might not believe your eyes.

Thursday, June 02, 2016


yorkshireman, "Purple thistle," 2015

The choke is blown. Drifts of down
that the wind’s not lifted, gather; I
reach to touch the amethyst edge,
am pricked, set with a welling ruby,
my skin the finding for a rare jewel.
Quilting for a goldfinch nest, tinder
for a hunter’s fire, choke protecting
the heart beneath, baskets of down
to fill a mattress: soft as I lay upon it
under your gaze. Later, alone, a few
spines pierce the pallet ticking, leave
me tossing: sleepless, prickly nights.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


John Goodrich, "Amur Tiger," 2001, all rights reserved

You see it, in the moment when the cage door
opens. The freshly tagged animal hangs back,
compressing itself in the shadows, and pauses.
Perhaps a twig brushes the metal hasp. Perhaps
the wind carries a memory of something lost.
Extension and explosion, a leap away from the
frightening smells, from its own fear, breaking
in a straight line out past those who watch, to
the indefinite edge, to blend, to hide. It’s there:
panting, belly pressing into leaf litter, waiting
to feel safe enough to move again. The animal
in me does much the same. We both leave bits
of ourselves on cat-claw and bramble as we try
to scrape off the tracking tags, cover our traces.