Sunday, February 7, 2016

Loose Ends


Got an idea for a new product? Run it by
your local rodent. Countless abattoirs would
kill to get a load of your street credentials.
And maybe some juicy e-mails.

So be plastered beneath an agreeable algorithm—
less debonair tactics have yielded
devil-may-care results, but not enough of them.

Yes, the days do look less real when
they're sitting on a plate before you.
Their static patrols the stoic plain
as dandruff excuses multiply
despite attempts to secure the boudoir.

Guess I'm just holding a mug of lucky.
It's no wonder punctuation's
a major thoroughfare; no amount of
fictive screaming releases one from duty
in love's blood-spattered library.

Account Summary


By some estimates, the cost of a single apple has risen
to walk among the living. They say it's a nice job
if you cannot forget to brush daily.

Excuse me as a minute passes, then see
where that leaves the trees in winter:
naked as deaf ears. Their soft collapse comes

as commuters in cars can only guess, but the ablest
officers look like all the fiercest weather events
went out for tennis tryouts. I haven't

suffocated very convincingly in a
sudden ardor lately, i.e., the moon landing
was not a hoax, but the moon may be.

Thus concludes any up-to-date horoscope
over there in the ancient meadow, being victorious
like a little bitch (a literal small dog).

Friday, January 29, 2016

Think It Queer, Little Horse


Stopping by the roller disco on a snowy evening,
I could see I would not be welcome.
I didn't have any skates, and I
didn't have money to rent some.
My night might have ended with that,
but for some reason I can't explain,
I stepped up to the door
and waltzed in anyway.

Einstein, the famous scientist,
was famous for failing at math.
No matter how hard he tried,
he just could not understand math at all, ever.
Because of this, the world is a darker place
than most places, not to mention
most darknesses. But consider this:

a calculator lying on a parquet floor
in an empty room, on an afternoon
that rolls on and on, right out the front door.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Few Sturdy Pillars, If You Please


People are informal anymore. More than that,
They are influential. Is that supposed to mean something?
For instance, that we're to advocate less tirelessly for talking quietly
Behind barns? Light spills out from inside and

Suggests an altogether different outcome:
That's no ordinary cardinal you've burped up there,
That's a homo erectus for the ages. Then Jesus went to college
And started a fire. These lands used to be

Over there, controlled by remote. You had to oxidize
Fruitlessly for any given morning
To make any headway past noontime. Uh—
Well, how about we teach it the way we were taught to teach it,

Which is not the same as the ripe grape of a neighbor's
Swallowed pride that gets passed down in the genes,
Those habitual liars; watch as they crisscross the heavens
In search of new buzzwords to inflame.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Empty Sea


Walking through a door isn't easy, it's more of a
button that communicates you. I hate boring you,

agent of change in worried threads come to pass
along winter's regards. Worse than eating

at your desk is not wishing hard enough,
some would say hardy enough, to live without

legging it out. Why not wave to a new
diameter, here to parry an old razor's flirtation.

That's not a rhetorical equation, but for the sake
of argument let's reproduce reality

just a little, for a nocturnal fee. It may behoove
us yet to abet those who bemoan us.

I've heard of a similar process in the ashes
few bother to wake up to thinking of;

an empty sea was always almost there,
stored away in years rolled up in folds of air.

Freeze


Silence bites off a bit of afternoon
so cold it doesn't count

toward a new development in boredom.
Maybe a few trees

can be saved, and even more buildings.
Tomorrow doesn't look delicious,

or so the legend went. To wake up
and wig out: I'm dying to see.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scuttled Repertoire


Just once I'd like to wake up in the morning
without getting chirped at. Too much music

in the room and you lose the benefits
of regulation. I realize this is unrealistic,

not to mention overtly obstetric.
The executioner implied as much

when he curated his calendar
right in front of us. He likes to encourage the idea

that he's popular around town,
that he puts his bells on just like you:

one bell at a time. Better euthanize the moon
before it floats half-cocked into view;

we've evolved enough by now
to rectify our own ineffability

or ignore it, as circumstances require.
Anyone looking for a gatekeeper?

As for last night's sticker shock,
let me be totally honest with you:

No army can touch that, no wormy
apple inspector can evade its grasp for long.

Sooner or later the planet falls over
in fits of specious laughter at the scene

when the poor man's ejaculator
wipes his nose and calls it an off-brand day.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Unadvertised Sail


Let us criticize the cabbage. I'm drowning
in it. Send for the doctor—no, wait!

Send for the actor, by all appearances
the most hump-worthy. It's a slice of life

to tide you over, overseer.
Yet how shall we becalm

the dawn's collapse? If one were to atone
against the grain of such an accusation,

where would one squirrel away the time?
Some call this ruse a rhyme,

others a lost industry, though to speak up now
would be a pickled revenge, albeit a cool one.

See you in the sanctuary—
nothing amazeballs this way comes.

Plenty of fish to fry under the sea
have come to tee us off at the quayside.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

No News Is Good for You


I'm not complaining, but I could joust
a little more flimsily, for old time's sake.

The barometric pressure's almost over,
so there's no need to derive

pleasure from that—in the mirror the fear or
whatever holds one back

unmoors itself from observation.
That's the quiet thing about this habitually

merry span of dented days.
You are my almost-wife, in fact.

It's as if the planet were a wimp
whose pants are down.

Stop what you're wearing, I
can barely hear myself drink.

Absentee bees beget floral no-shows;
fast asleep, the forest fakes 'em all.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Any Tongue


At my age you get that nice ripple effect. It sets the stage effectively for future appointments, rehearsals, big to-dos in backyards in summer. I wish I could provoke a swan. You say there ain't any left to swindle, but that's a farmer's blowziest prerogative. Sincerely we elect to take the wrong boat to town, careful to avoid better offers. Machines do the rest, and better! One of them looks like a giant grasshopper painted black. It pokes up through the haze that covers the amazing shrinking sward.

Death is practically unthinkable in this context. That is, I wouldn't ask it into bed, despite my distant campaign promise. No nation gets out alive, and wrestling with infinity isn't a crime. Still, it's good to double-check the mechanisms; oil those joints, don't leave 'em lounging around. Pizza's here. It'll do us good to leap from roof to roof evading deputies in pursuit. One false step and they put your name in italics. Trust me, you do not want to be taken out to dinner.

If that's all, I'll be going missing. I'll be comin' around the catacomb when I have a hangnail that needs a little loving. Reading about those beat-up old explorers, I'm part of their weather now. I fly like a succulent Stuyvesant pear into the air between buildings. Shot down by sunlight, I joke my way to the next wet whisper in my ear. At one light touch of her tongue—any tongue!—I'm gone. Read the sign: "Press your luck against mine and let's make a baby cash cow shine."

Saturday, January 2, 2016

And Other Gory Stories Are We


The good at dancing have it easy: this cat takes place in the future. Candy corn can't hack it in absentia. Rustics believe it or else they provide the dimmer attachment. A little interloper once indicted as much, his outer math turning drunk at the sight—go and see what Santa brought the astronauts. 

Some devilish pretense unseen soon sunk in; ever the frail moon-mart, a hooded holiday broke down. The road flew up at us, convincing no one of its course. Specials on plaid kept the kids at bay. Serene it was, the bland prospectus in its binder. Reality bores much to be desired, attracting comers from coast to Costco. So slip into something more soporific, less beatific and further let us prey. 

The house is "on fire," the relatives crammed. Yellow and blue, orange and brackish, birds you've never heard of filled the restaurant. Outside, smoke improved visibility. Terror came in pocket-size, fully fucked. Snap off a drastic happening and watch it meander as a liquid battery factory belies the butter nature of our banter. Scroll and weep over the deep clean of yearlong jockey assassin cramps. 

In a while we wet blankets began to beg easier. Questions arose around the posy, the mere mention of which sent bachelor hackers into hysterics. "Quell the buttery paternosters!" screamed they. A tunnel thus entombed us.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year My Ass


The sky had an interesting look today—kind of a half-light, half-dark thing that I found very outrageous. In simpler times, medical explanations for such phenomena just sort of up and presented themselves. Nowadays you don't know where you stand. You could be a fake nurse in a real orchard, or a monolingual mouse in a European sitcom. Either way, how do you know the right way to act? By sense of smell? Doesn't matter, I guess—storm's coming. All bets are off cavorting in one of those invisible dimensions described in some half-forgotten documentary. No wonder the night gets cold when your memory walks sexily by.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Books I Finished Reading in 2015

Here is some information about the books I finished reading in 2015. First I'll present a chronological list of every book, in the order in which I finished each one. Then I'll conclude with a list of the top 10 in terms of quality.

1.) The first book I finished reading in 2015 was Dancing in the Dark by Janet Hobhouse. It came out in 1984, and I think the copy I read was printed then. It was old, anyway. I remember the sentences being very smooth and complex, operating at a level above and beyond most fiction writers. I wondered why this author isn't more famous. She died in the '90s. It's a book about some yuppie couples in New York in the '80s. Highly recommended. I plan to read her other books.

2.) The next book I finished was The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. This one was extremely entertaining. It's a page-turner about a young lesbian and a hetero couple who comes to town and a ruined marriage and a crime and a cover-up of that crime. Also a trial and further romance and drama. I'm being vague because I don't want to give things away. Also, it's British, and it takes place in 1922. Highly recommended. I plan to seek out the author's other books.

3.) Next was yet another novel, The First Bad Man by Miranda July. This one was hilarious and unique. It's about a woman with a lot of frustrations in her life and the younger woman who comes into her life and changes it in profound ways. It's really funny. These are "comic novel" characters, not "serious" characters, but if you're like me and you like a good comic novel, then there you go, this book is for you.

4.) The next book I finished was the second volume of Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative—this volume being subtitled Fredericksburg to Meridian. I finished the first volume in 2014. Reading this trilogy was an immense project for me. It took me nine months, from September 2014 to May 2015. Shelby Foote's credentials as a history writer may have been somewhat suspect. But as a storyteller, there's no one better. So it's a great place to begin reading about the Civil War, but by absolutely no means should it be the end. It inspired me to read a lot of other Civil War books, many by more serious academic historians, some of which even point out things Shelby Foote got wrong. But still, as a detailed overview of the whole arc of the war from start to finish, Foote is definitely worth the time, if you have nine or so months to spare.

5.) Next was Friendship by Emily Gould.

6.) My next book was The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter. Kind of a thin story, with kind of a groaner ending. Will I read another Charles Baxter book? Hard to say.

Numbers 7 and 8 were by people I know, so it's too embarrassing to write about them.

9.) Next was a book of essays, This Is Running for Your Life by Michelle Orange. Very good essays on various topics. Highly recommended.

10.) Next was Under the Skin by Michel Faber, the author of one of my favorites from last year, The Book of Strange New Things. They made a movie of Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johansson, which I saw in the theater. The projection wasn't great, and I regret not seeing it in a better theater. Anyway, the movie was interesting, but I liked the book a lot better. It's a lot different from the movie. Read the book! And watch the movie, but don't expect the same story that's in the book. In fact, the book and movie are so different, it doesn't matter which one you experience first; one won't spoil the other. This year I plan to read a third Michel Faber book, The Crimson Petal and the White.

11.) Next was a poetry book called New Depths of Deadpan by Michael Gizzi. I've also been reading his Collected Poems, which just came out this year. Very good and exciting poetry.

12.) Another book of poetry.

13.) Next was Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb.

14.) On Memorial Day I finished the third and final volume of the above-mentioned Shelby Foote trilogy, this volume subtitled Red River to Appomattox. I finished it sitting on a rock in a cozy secluded area in the far upper reaches of Central Park.

15.) Next was the latest book by John Ashbery, Breezeway. I'm not sure these are the kind of poems I'd want to read over and over again, like with most of his other work, but there's some good stuff here. It's good to see he's still having fun at his age (88).

16.) After finishing up with Shelby Foote, I went looking for other Civil War books to read. Before I even finished Foote's trilogy, I started reading the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. I read the Penguin edition with an introduction and notes by James M. McPherson. Grant had no literary pretensions whatever and only wrote the book to provide money for his family after he died from the cancer he was suffering from as he wrote. His prose style is plain and simple and supposedly influenced Gertrude Stein. (One odd thing: An awful lot of passive voice is used by him, but it grew on me after a while.) The book only covers his life up through the end of the war; it doesn't cover his presidency (which he wouldn't have had time to write about anyway, since he died just days after completing the manuscript). I'm not sure if this should be the very first book you read about the Civil War, since it helps to have some basic contextual knowledge going in, but it's definitely one you'll want to read eventually.

17.) Up next was The Hunters by James Salter, inspired by his experience as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. It was his first novel, and the style is pretty much the same style he would use throughout his career. In life, it's important to be a great fighter pilot. And this book tells you why. Highly recommended.

18.) Another Grant-related book, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth by Joan Waugh. This is an academic study of the ways Grant has been remembered in history and culture. It's part of a recent trend of books that reevaluate Grant and do something to rehabilitate his image, which many would say has been unjustly tarnished over the last century or so.

19.) Next was the highly engaging Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz. This is a journalistic tour around the modern (as of the 1990s) South and explores people's attitudes about various aspects of the Civil War. Timely as ever, what with Confederate flags and memorials very much in the news this year. Highly recommended.

20.) Next up was Don DeLillo's 9/11 novel, Falling Man. Ordinarily I probably wouldn't read a novel about 9/11, but obviously I'll always make an exception for DeLillo, my favorite living (or all-time?) novelist. Being a native New Yorker, as well as a highly perceptive writer about politics in the broad sense, he's as reliable as anyone could be on this topic. Highly recommended.

21.) Next came Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz, a novel from the sixties in the form of transcribed and edited real-life dialogue. Two women and a gay man spend a summer in the Hamptons and talk about their lives. Very witty and frequently hilarious. Highly recommended.

22.) Next we have another Grant book, the iambically titled The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H.W. Brands. I will need to read other Grant biographies to compare this to, but it seemed fine. I learned some things I didn't know before, which is always nice. I have another Grant biography on my shelf that I hear is supposed to be better.

23.) Next up was Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi by Michael B. Ballard. This is the book to read if you want to know about the Vicksburg campaign and don't have enough lives in which to read every book published about every battle in every war. It's probably a bit of a slog for the general reader. Then again, the months-long campaign to take Vicksburg was a slog itself for everyone involved, so it's an appropriate narrative approach.

24.) Next was Mislaid by Nell Zink, which was highly entertaining. You can easily find a summary of the plot on various websites and such.

25.) Next was another Civil War book, The War That Forged a Nation by James McPherson, the preeminent Civil War scholar. It's a collection of essays on various topics. This year I plan to read his classic Battle Cry of Freedom, which is regarded by many as the place to start reading about the Civil War.

26.) Another poetry book!

27.) Last and far from least was Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, the biography that inspired a Broadway musical. I had started it several years ago, but I got distracted and put it aside. I started it again this November and finished it yesterday. Highly recommended. It's the book to read about Alexander Hamilton if you don't have multiple lives in which to read every book ever published about Alexander Hamilton.


Okay, here's the Top 10 in terms of quality (but listed in alphabetical order by title, not in order of quality).

Alexander Hamilton
The Civil War (Foote)
Confederates in the Attic
Falling Man
The First Bad Man
Mislaid
The Paying Guests
Personal Memoirs (Grant)
Talk
This Is Running for Your Life

Friday, June 19, 2015

Morbidly Obtuse


Today's students aren't what they used to be. They used to be literally not even, ugh. They attended dog parties. It was all for charity...until it wasn't. The sun blew up.

A new anthem was called for, but never gassed us. My cot collapsed under us. Well, I guess you have to sneak up on the past in order to change it. But shy away from media, both old and new—it's a sort of notorious gown that wears us, pleads us down to shreds.

Hold me closer, tinny stanza. Speak to your financial advisor.

I must confess I'm at a loss for nuance when obliged to enforce my feelings for modern architecture. Half the time I can't even find the bathroom. Not that I like to banter there. I always feel like I'm being punished for someone I didn't do. (That ass and a cup of coffee will buy you a leaky weekend.)

In any case, it's a nice day to polish one's own inevitability, really get it glowing. It looks good on an adjunct professor's soft tissue, like an ejaculation dribbled from the mouth of a marble statesman. No, really! Check it out—a little French cadaver presses "play" on his pistol

and history's hairy eyeball ignites the hay in which we roll, die, etc.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Whipped Syllabub


Dag Hammarskjöld would make a pretty porn name
For a little born-again tornado-chaser. So why not
Bury your boner at sea and eat it too?

(Harass my meatus and I'll have your badge.)
My heart is so fruitless it's a vegetable
But I'm more than a happy toilet accident.

Nor does exposed brick engorge me.
Money rolls off the tongue too sprightly;
Soccer is a symptom of depression.

It pays to hate-fuck an abstraction; tomorrow I'm
Not done reliving. (This poem could use a hobby
Or a broken ATM with absentee parents.) Don't you

Try to silt-shame the same river twice! Do you
Cotton to a sheep's-eye view? Bleed all you want but
A rainbow's beauty's not a black-and-white issue.
    

Monday, June 8, 2015

Between Hard Places


I thought I'd found a perfect darkness
where I could read in peace.

The night that brought the truth home
was revealed to be a false note

in some jokester's hoary melody
dragged out of the fire.

Down deserted streets it slept.
Folded newspapers excommunicated.

I accused a black hole of sucking
at my peril. It was a good day

for getting out of town.
The Swiss know what's up: the Alps,

Herr und Frau, out on a Sunday stroll
with their little foothills.

In America loom erections
like postage rate increases.

Only the post-coital
can save us now.

Dire endings keep me occupied,
but I have what I need:

a few shaggy arias, a steady outcome,
a weakness for a blonde in armor.