Thursday, July 21, 2022

Closed for the Season

Now the wind and the weather and the whether come down
down from the hills, down from the down. Lift me up on the rocking roses
all rock-roses, 

false supposes;

lift me up

and carry me out to see the sea. 

The bank has crumbled, the cliff’s edge edges

air where the sea steps used to be; a moon’s bite out of the asphalt shows

the etiquette of gods at tea 

isn’t what it used to be. 

Lift me up

and carry me out to see the sea.

This year a dead zone out at sea: bronze fields like hammered shields

and each dint pried by the sea-sun yields

algae red as spattered blood

algae read as battered mud.

Lift me up

and carry me out to see the sea.

There was a restaurant in a little house, with surfboards dangling up above:

chowder and beer and cheese on toast, a waitress bronzed as this year’s sea

from years of summer waitressing,

years of wading in the surf,

years of surfing in the rain;

she used to admire 

the doting lovers we used to be.

Old now, we stop. The windows are boarded over;

the clay toppled down to the golden sea,

the steps fallen down all the way to the beach,

the roses tumbled out of reach.

Closed for the season. Leave off asking

Reasons for this or that or each

And carry me out to see the sea.

Saturday, July 16, 2022


That huge paper carapace
hung on a wicker frame, riding my neck,
painted with smiles or leers, wrinkled
with a prince's thoughts; only now
do I dare to shrug my narrow shoulders
and dart from under the screen. The paper prince 
remains, brooding on the fate of kingdoms
and weighing out which uncle first to kill;
but I am free to run, with a rat's love,
my tail whipping back and forth for balance:
my spine a fishing rod, each jump a cast,
my claws as light and sharp as needles
finding purchase where the huge
and clumsy paper of my royal fingers
clutched in vain. Soon to be within the wall,
safe in my native dark, free
to seek my kind.

Thursday, July 07, 2022

A Moment of Knowing

"I really love America," said John Prine. "I just don't know how to get there any more."


Oh, man. Abortion. As so often, I look like a Democrat, but that's because I'm politically homeless. I think that the theory on both sides is individualistic lunacy. A fetus is not some alien intruder in a woman's body. Neither is it a brand new person planted in a convenient uterus by a person who, by virtue of his sex, is a priest of the Sky god. The fetus and the mother are the same person -- not just up until birth, if they get so far, but until long after it. Personhood is a thing that's achieved slowly, mostly after birth, and it's accomplished by love. I don't understand how anyone can look at a pregnant woman and think they're seeing two people: that seems to me like living in la-la land. So practically nothing either side says about this situation even makes sense to me. A pregnant woman is faced with the question: am I ripe for growing gradually into two people? Does that make sense? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. In any case, bringing in the cops makes not the slightest bit of sense. This is not a question the police can helpfully decide.

Doesn't the father have rights? Hell no. "Rights" again: Americans are effing crazy on the topic. You don't have the right to dictate a woman's choices just because you had sex with her, or because you married her. You get a say by earning a say. If you've failed to earn it, then too bad. Maybe you should try harder. Maybe you should grow up.

Notice that I don't particularly think a woman has "rights" over her own body. I just think she is her own body. I have a very hard time seeing "rights" as having any useful bearing on the conversation.


There: hopefully I've offended everybody, now.


What is it that I want, that I might still get, in the twilight of my days? I asked myself that, and the answer came with unexpected readiness: I might understand. I gave up on that, somewhere in the welter of the "works and days of hands," and I shouldn't have. I look into the world, and it looks into me, and the periphery fills in with color and design, and the music is there, even if I can't hear it. That much is clear. I accepted, at some point, that I would never understand anything. I think it began when I failed wretchedly to understand spherical geometry. Some light went out, and for a long time no one -- well, no one I really paid attention to -- no one told me it could be relit.

I am not as clever as I was then. But I am also far less hagridden by anxiety and neediness. I don't give a damn what anyone thinks of me. I reach out my hand and my fingers close on something. There's a moment of knowing and of purchase, prise, affordance.