Meteorological Stevens

The shape of a vase
is the meaning of it.

Snow fills it as we
fill with ourselves.

If it is outside, below clouds.
If there is an outside,

frost forms on the blue
and blue cleaves to frost

as a precursor of ice,
the solid, self, person

come last.  It is only
what it holds, volume,

but we pretend we’re more
than an anecdote of a jar.

From Inside a Ziggurat

They said you missed out on so much being the way you are. They said it without punctuation like that and so it will go. On. Without punctuation. Not the way a life is when someone stops on the stairs merely to be aware they are stopping on the stairs. Shall we address Gertrude Stein from here?

This painting is a solid color and is uterine.

They said that but whether they addressed me or not might be irrelevant if I took it to heart, to the place underneath this potted plant. And that cop standing next to it. The truth is they were talking to someone else and I overheard and it was suddenly addressed to me as though I were the someone else on the p.a. they did not actually address, but talk about behind her back, as people generally do, because language only exists behind backs, everywhere, really, this is true. There is nowhere to say anything that is not behind many, many backs. That poems exist is proof of this fact. They are so far behind all human backs it is ridiculous.

I was putting cheese on my grilled cheese at the time, middle of the night, and my hands were freezing, they were just ice, and I imagined a tumor in a place in my shoulder, I had to check, but the hands were a misery, a punishment, a cold of Inquisition (they didn’t use only fire; think), iciness of a surgical x-ray table you have to lay on, just get it done, verify there is no tumor, flip the grilled cheese sandwich, discard thoughts of vice, remember that the second side always browns exponentially (existentially) faster (it’s like a second marriage). Don’t make the same mistake again and flip the sandwich, did, it is now on the plate and who were they (we) talking about, the ghosts in love with criticism of others? ghosts on stairs? Let me open up the melt of the sandwich and add a fresh slice of tomato, but salt it first, like memory, salt the slug of the world. Get down into the dissolution of the salt in a flavor. You can’t hold it anymore. That red pulpy thing. The salt and the tomato are inseparable like beach and skyline on a perfect day. The festering voices go past like countless buses and you must learn to sit and knit inside them. You are not young enough to die on a ledge anymore.


Blue. For example, whether I pull this blue fleece pullover over my face with my glasses on, or stop to remove them, in the middle of the night, does awkwardness have any meaning? I want to keep the glasses on, must want the hindrance, the impediment, the form that doesn’t fit over the form, exactly, right. I must want the hindrance, the difficulties, a lifetime of talking. Blue.

A Sort of Story I Will Not Tell (But Talk)

I walked up to a tree this morning and said, “It’s complicated.” I had switched over to my other head, the one I like to pull apart, to pick apart in strands, islands, the head where my language is more my familiar than my self. My elf. Maybe I should specify it was a sycamore tree, or plane tree (as it is also known). Maybe I am occupying too much by thinking questions like this exist and want to come to you, trained doves.  Do details matter? Of course they do, but they are as unicorns here, as useless facts, as windmills in an urban hipness, as unreal as anything else, a chain of as. A sort of licorice of ecstasy to unwind like a radial tire. You only believe in nodes of a story. Do you notice this about yourself? You might want to know where a character went in the novel, which streets he took, if he progressed like a squirrel or did much better, which corners he turned and what’s the address? You don’t care about the gnat or more inviting body, the great who rule over the imagined scenes, who are not consulted in our night of art, those things which might have taken her eye in the story considered real (to her). Should I tell you, for instance, I had my knife in my jacket pocket, as is my wont, or should I lie again and say it was a favorite stone, smooth, I like to (I must) caress with my hand? Now it is both a knife and stone at once, like that cat you like to talk about. Talk all you want. A doorway is made only for this. This loquaciousness. You don’t care about the great bank of all the ideas that ever were, that ever wore, but I say I do and either do I. I walked up to the tree and spoke to it, because it seemed a presence, luminous, white thing, thick, excoriating itself, phone book ugly, tearing its own skin off, day by day, alive, secretly parturient, stupid, liable to outlive me, illiterate, beautiful, hoggish, retro, mysterious, slave to wind, player with wind, trifler with all of us. I felt an affront and an attraction. The way it is before you fall into a hookup. “Why are you even here?” I screamed at the end of the mute soliloquy with the tree and then stomped off in ugly shoes. There was no one on the street. No worries. Even I wasn’t there.


I wonder if ______ is still alive.
And that group of swallows I spied last year,
flying too high in predictable gloaming.
Are they still tiling the cold together,
or have they gone separate ways?
I wonder, I wonder like a pebble
that tumbles in a brook
when no one watches.
Trashy ideas. I move.
It moves.

Portrait of a Small Town

Here we have a philosophic parking lot
between tall buildings.
Both are forgotten,
their doors are gone,
but weeds gyre there
through asphalt,
and the weird sorts of “flowers”
each stubbornness gets,
it grovels on
the nearest sky.
And it is a life,
we call it a life
to find, and it is
a life to lose,
its various folds,
to collapse into integument,
to become a stone
with our arms across
our chests at the end.
Across the street
though, it is still now,
I mean the green sort,
dirty old steel mill canal
nobody uses anymore
except the fish
with long whiskers
and protected opalescence
that no one would ever
think to call

The Inarguable Flowers

You are getting divorced.
Farewell, Congratulations, Welcome Home.
Here, affect this balaclava.
So you put a large bouquet
of pink daisies in a window of full sun.
The daisies are innocent in pinkness,
there are not enough of them,
so tall and wide is the vase.
It is clear crystal, a bellowing
of a bell of tuba mouth,
but only a lip of glass
to support what it’s saying,
or almost so, in being there.
But it is svelte as the heart
of all glass, the desire
to just be silvered, become
a mirror, be done with it.
At least, you think, there is
no ridiculous, portentous
sound such as comes
from a euphonious brass
as morose as that one
can only be, at its orchestral best.
The vase is frugal IKEA,
so let’s intuit a purity of intent,
a touch of the mind of Sweden.

These pink daisies support you
as the sun supports them
now on the stone windowsill
that overlooks the living below,
though the flowers are dead.
Well, not yet. But soon.
Though they are dead,
they sing a sun’s praises,
all the pink daisies,
because the stems they have
would have them finish
what it is they had begun,
and are still quietly drinking,
whatever it is there you give them,
water and an aspirin,
maybe a place to reflect their pinkness,
the city window directly before the units of their faces.


Dora, there is a pain
goes with this thought.
It is a small boat,
maybe a child’s first,
with its sail. No, not
quite that. The small lake
is a wonder in itself,
without the sailboat.
The sunlight is remote
and suffuses it,
a molten thing. It is
quiet outside all children.

Rather, it is more a stone
brought in from a walk
and left upon a windowsill.
To say something (again)
about our idleness of thought
after it has done. The shape
has color and form and wind
goes through the mind
that beholds it, and knows
how its color would change
if rain could find it.

But it is not these things.
It is more a door beholden
in the city to a vanished society.
A tall, golden door with figures.
The lip service of all gifts.
We means Pandora.
We stand aside the river
of our walking a moment
to admire its stubbornness.
There is nothing more than this.
A hand that catches
its futile knob, which sings
with noonday sun
as if were all an invitation
and nothing more,
there, where the cuckoo lays
its precious eggs
and doesn’t wait.