Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Category: god

The Devil Reads Poetry

Full crowd tonight– all of Niobe’s kids,
Eurydice, who’ll be leaving early,
and Persephone’s here. It’s Spring in Hell.

I spent this morning crossing the river
In Charon’s boat; he’s gives the best feedback.
I’m still trying to write this one poem

But it just won’t come. I think it’s about
Filling an empty place up with something,
And how the emptiness grows around it.

Sisyphus takes my shoulders in the wings;
Inside I’m trembling over this line like:
I made my world one endless metaphor.

I almost called my brother yesterday.
I just want to figure out everything.


2. A Revisioning

“Do you think that someone who could make both the thing imitated and its image would allow himself to be serious about making images and put this at the forefront of his life as the best thing to do?” – Plato, The Republic (599b)

Poetry is a measure of confusion.
To explain — we poets, the confused,
write about love because we don’t know what love is,
or about clouds because we don’t know if God exists,
or about our mothers because we want to talk to our sadness
a conversation we’ve never had, but should’ve.
And the only way to do this well — is to not realize it.

Because the moment we can be in love,
and we begin to grasp what we think God is,
and we are strong enough to talk with our mothers,
after all of this confusion has been lifted,
we might find ourselves at a loss, asking:
What’s left? Do we still turn stones for poems?
Anyone can tell you that a fool is someone either
convinced that they understand everything,
or that it’s not worth trying.

Accident, Prone

In a more childish time,
I didn’t try too hard
to understand myself.
I’d slip on words I wrote down
in the kitchen, cloudy days
when I’d pray not to be left
alone in that house.

In between my skull and brain
there must have been a network of springs
because I never felt the shock
of finding out that my mother was in
a hospital bed with a hole in her brain
and she couldn’t remember the truck
but who the fuck would?

She spilled hot water on herself
the skin on her hands boiling up
like the 6th plague.
My kitchen is such a dangerous place,
Goddamnit Mom stop falling down!
Amazing how you can be embarrassed
in an empty house.

If there was a God, the 11th plague
would have been insanity for everyone but myself.
I would be halfway through the Atlantic Sea
when I would risk a look back, hear a whisper–
my Mom saying she loves me.
Even a place of craziness
can be called home.

I would drop my rod,
the sea would close over me,
and I would join my mom
in that promised land.

Crib Death

You are dependent.
An addict unfixed but still
stuck, expectant.

Obsessed with knowing yourself
is so close
to knowing.

You think “As long as I have eyes,
I can smile, face the world with open windows.”
But beauty is not happiness–
Try to see this.

Think you can save yourself
from high school?
Tie your arms with tourniquets
and take fresh air injections.
Snort the view out the window
while you downward-facing dog.

What I am afraid of–
You someday unconvinced
that everything is good,
that God is in the number 42.
Deep breathless
and without coincidences
you might forget
your own eyes
your lips–
my dependence.

It doesn’t make sense
to compete with God.
If everything turns out
to be imperfect
you can’t kiss yourself

Rites of Richard Francis Burton

My wife held me. I cried,
“My god I am a dead man!”
The black camel
outside my tent in the desert,
outside my house in Trieste,
finally saw me.

God stood over me
with forked beard and iron cane,
said, “You owe for the flesh,
not to mention the spirit.”
He poked me in the ribs.
“Long past due.”

Mustache evaporated,
facial hair not famous,
My beard wore God’s face
“The Devil.”

Speke was blind and deaf again,
chest gunshot fresh,
open like a rose
I tried to stand
but sunk in sand, wet,
I cried,
“We never found the mouth.
You looked for God,
but did not have eyes to see.”

“Eyes are all I need.”
God had a mouth in each cheek.
“Mecca could not stand
to be seen.
Your heart couldn’t beat me
in a race to no end.”

My wife burned me with books
I had written. God approached,
I pulled the javelin from my mouth,
thought I could take Him with me.
Clean and speechless, He
placed my body
into the Nile.
I did not cross,
I did not float,
I swam upriver.
To the beginning.

Ode to the Unspeakable

There is blankness and then there is the difference
between it and the edge of a line,
where black encounters white and shadows
with nothing to stand behind begin to outstretch
across the blank lines of a growing poem.
The words all might reveal themselves
in the first flickering of pen in hand,
but it is left to the quickness of an eye
to see what is there before it is written.
They start subtly, the overlap of a “t”,
the scribble of an “a”, the ink roots
in these, blossoms within the pulp of a page.
The words come syllabically at first,
then in lines that do not end
until the final emptiness where blankness begins again,
where no thoughts can ever take seed.
“But what do you ask of me? The eye sees,
the mouth reads out loud, but when do these
become poetry?” There is no response;
the words do not speak, they only know
how to be. We hang lamps inside them
in an attempt to see but find
only drying ink and a poet who can’t quite relate to poetry.
The words are mute, written or spoken,
but the poetry speaks, not in emotion
or imagery, but in experience, in worlds which exist
only in minds full of language and of blankness.
Great poems, written the way that God speaks —
creating and being a meaningful world.

Town of Babel

In the town of Babel
we spoke in trees
and in the gleam of winter
sunlight crossing itself over
coats of ice,
the sound of cold
water running itself into icicles.

There is no garden to leave,
only a garden to be in.
No language to speak,
only something to speak of.

In the town of Babel
we spoke with the tongue of God,
in which there can be no metaphors,
and no need
to rewrite the perfect poem.


The flood is the color
of your lips,
comes flowing at me
swollen with a kiss.

“It is not me, just the
ocean in five bottles

Are these my hands that
hold them or the ghost
of an ocean upright?


The water droplet walking down my nose —
Through me, you can see the dust
that floats inside of everything.


The air is orange this afternoon.
At night the snow does its best to fade to black,
doesn’t it?
My eyes can’t open the window curtains
you close against the last strains of gray.


A pillowcase grabs hold of me. My arm asleep tells me something about the nature of relationships. I wake up from a dream about a basement I grew up in and you shower in front of me. What are these clouds of steam but dissipated dreams and memories fogging up the mirror that sees me and that I see?


I treat you like my perfect child.
And we kiss on that.

You are showing me
that god in the machine
is like god in the ziggurat —
only there if I am.


The stars get farther away,
and yet more aligned,
when I allow them to stretch back into the sky.


If I sit in a field of overgrown grass
and forget my sense of depth,
why does the falling snow
form lines of white from ground to sky?


There is no difference between depth and time;
the senses we forget about.
We have faith in them
It is this far away, we say.
In time
and in distance


What are the stars?
Timeless —