Making Sense of Time Passing

Usually the plan is to
read and read and read

the poems of others, until
something strikes my imagination.

This often works, sometimes it is
just a word, like pulsating or

scramble, a pathway to completely
forget that my shoelaces are tied or

that these fingers belong to me.
Lost in the moment, obvious and

unpoetic, then again, also true.
That really so much writing is just

abstract painting, adding color,
a swirl, skip a line, then do it again,

and again, until the crickets outside
sound like laptop keys, and nothing

is lost, not these seconds, not the
clear air of night, not my quiet mind

making sense of time passing,
time passing.

Stand by Me

We wanted to follow
railroad tracks and sleep
under stars, maybe cook
up hot dogs without
a strict parent seeing
us wipe the grease
on our jeans. This
was 1986 when Polo
shirts were everything, not
following dreams or watching
morning deer, or thinking
about writing, or what
friendship could mean. But
Stand by Me let
in a little light
so we could remember
who we really are.

He Pretends To Be A Poet

He pretends to be a poet, but does he even like poetry?
Sawgrass shallows, dark forests and trellises, the
language of description, erudition, evoked through so
much longing to be heard, to be read. But what does

it mean? Instead, he writes about what he knows,
which most nights seems like not a lot, sometimes silence
or that most mundane of all arts, parenting, being a dad,
or he reads half pages of zen books while munching on

frozen blueberries, while trying to remember the pickup time
for ballet. No, he doesn’t live in Paris or London, or
New York, although San Francisco is a writerly city, that frigid
foggy place where he was once young, and a real poet

in his studio apartment with Chinese takeout night after night,
the J Church train rumbling, urban soundtrack mixed with
Sonny Rollins, oh yes, he was cool, back in the day, but now
he sits in the kitchen, barefoot, wondering where his socks are.

Modern Homework

Sitting with my daughter and her iPad, we
fill in boxes that pose questions about
Greek Civilization. Art = statues, writing=
Plato, upper classes made laws, were
citizens, slaves did what they were told to
do. Box after box on the screen, covering
500 BC to 146 BC, until Rome conquers
Athens. Less than memorization, we cut and
paste words from other screens into hers. I
imagine Socrates in the agora, watching us,
wondering what happened, how we stopped
interrogating the machine, our flesh fingers,
puppets, moved to reduce everything to this.

4 Words In A Line

hard not to smile
when thinking that this
is one of my
favorite things in life

to put four words
on line after line
free to do this
when dishes are done

and the kids are
in bed, and no
one is speaking, not
even the incessant TV

can reach me now
for here it is
just one word, then
the next, neatly placed

like scrabble or a
crossword puzzle, or some
other kind of activity
where concentration is everything

anyway, this is mine
this little moment here
inside my brain’s imagination
where anything is possible

Pretentious Poet with an MFA

Oh yes, I am pretentious with my MFA and
experimental

verse.

I love to string esoteric
words together, as they anguish abstractly with
misunderstood longing mixed in moonlight.
This, this, and this, you see what I mean?
Of course you do, because you’re reading my
perfect poetry, does it not remind you of an
eigenvector, my precocious linear transformation
word that you pretend to know, but don’t,
because you are not me, you see, that is the
whole point of so much of this, divide, separate
me from you and all the rest, who shall and should
remain unpublished.

Evening Prayer

I don’t pray every night, but I probably should. After baths, books, conversation with wife, I usually drift into writing, creating, rearranging words on a screen. Mind a whir, could journey depths until dawn, but the clock of calculation, of sanity, of sacred sleep, tells me to stop. I go into my daughter’s room, turn down her light, I love you, I say to her curled up slumber. I meditate in my son’s room, the sound of his breathing, my pew, my stained glass, my sanctuary. Seated, darkness, air in, carbon dioxide out, first minutes filled with brain bouncing from thought to thought, the earlier, the tomorrow, the could happen. Then sometimes the indescribable now, when I’m nowhere, everywhere, witness to all time, and no time at all. Emerge a short life span later, pray for my colleague, that her malignant tumor retreats, allows life, hers to continue. It feels like I could stay forever, talking to God, to no one, to everyone.

Writing in Bed

exhaling visible emotion
ink onto page
alive each night if
only for these moments
toes touch sheets happy

the hours before are done
no more plodding through city
streets in laced up leather
free naked now
words moving across the page

composition notebook
indenting with cursive letters
pressing down, scribbled lines
fragments of thought
searching for truth night after night

sometimes finding things
like an old Hot Wheels car in
the sandbox, pull it out
examine chipped paint
try to recall when it was lost

describe what it looks like
loose front tire, red Camaro
“this is it,” I think
to reclaim, touch memory
unearth myself, the buried parts