20 December 2017

The Tears of God

I have fought with Satan and emerged
Triumphant but not Victorious
The schoolboy who answers taunts
Loses even as he wins
The battle begins before it begins
And ends when it begins.

Close your eyes and curl up
For the long desert night of the soul
A whip behind and a worm ahead
And nothing in between
Save your breath and ration your heartbeats
For the long desert night of the soul
Time is both ahead and behind
So do not fall out of his footprints.

The Nile is departed.
Like the pump of pistons without water
Like bone against bone in the bodies of old men
The Nile is departed.
We are dizzy from the deep droughts
Out of neon, 21st century temples
Though it is not warmer than fire, it is brighter.
You would not snuff it out
If the glow of your phone was the only light?

Winter was our curse
Snow was our forgiveness
A way to cushion the fall
Because our punishment was
Too great to bear.
How much deeper must we plunge into
The long desert night, O God?
Will You embalm us like your Lazarus?
Will You weep for us?

17 October 2017

The Man with No Echo

The season aiónios washes patiently
Over the whittle and worry
Of man’s movement; the tenor
Of Time; squeaky boots
Which scuttle and scurry in a hurry
Making the music of fledgling flutists
Who breathe too soon and too soon
Managing only to gasp out a husky whisper.
Ashes to ashes and mist to mist
They sound waves too short and hot
To travel very far and low
One Pop! One isolated movement
Dead and gone like a shot
Like a shot without an echo.

29 September 2017

The Water-Bead World

Observe the water-bead
clinging to the clover-leaf
observe the little figures
of the inner innerworld

They do not walk on a convex
pulling downwards
but on a concave pushing upwards
tending towards some unknown center

Pools give insight
of the other otherworld
a chance to see your face
as your face sees you

To see the terrible kingdom
of inverted beauty
dashed to pieces by a pebble
or a breath of wind

I have seen the child-kingdom
that fat paedriarch atop a heap
of glorious scrappings
It needs no sleep, and tells me the secrets
of the perilous perilous realm

Observe this, this absurd subverting Truth
which our eyes cannot convert
the only Reality we will
ever have the pleasure 
of unknowing 

27 September 2017

Pât pat pat pat Pât pat pat pat

Pat pat pat on the window panes
Small pale fingers on the cold clear glass
Small hot hand leaves a frosty stain
And waits for the pat pat pat to pass

Water in the gutter, signalling the fall
Signalling the final phase of fires fading fast
Time to pile pillows into playgrounds in the hall,
Time to save the daylight
from the day that doesn't last

25 August 2017


This animal shall not die without witnesses.
Green and red intermingle to produce
A hot heathenish color, a sticky infection in 
The forest. The green is dark now, like poison.
It is darker now that the sun has looked away.
Still, they are looking. The forest looks.

This animal shall not die without witnesses.
The ants go marching one by one
Red and green intermingle uncertainly
And in my dream, the red overcame the green.
The ants go marching one by one
The ants go marching one by one

When they are hungry, they grow to be
Larger than racoons, and they are hungry.
These are the raincloud of witnesses,
Come to celebrate. You can hear them
Crunching the grass from under
Ground; it makes me whiskers twitch.

“Gentlemen! You know God forbids
To drink the blood of the dead.”
“Forbidden? Then why did He
Make our coats such lustrous red?
Do this in remembrance of Me, He said
And where is He now? He also is dead.”

“Oh ants! Why don’t you hesitate?
Are you not ashamed, not afraid?”
“We have no time, no time to wait!
If we don’t eat, our neighbors will.
And they certainly don’t hesitate”—
They added with a shudder.

This animal shall not die without witnesses.
And how did I become one among the eyes
Which glows in bushes around the dead?
I used to strain my ears to hear
The laughter of the forest: now, I can’t
Get it out of my head.

18 August 2017

The Worship of Defiance

Evil is not a force but a cavity
Rotting stones underneath the foundations
            of the earth
Evil is a force with a purpose
Not decomposition: the orderly re-
            verse and renewal
Of hexagonal flakes
But deconstruction: the harvest of matter
Before harvest, leaving only flakes.

The motley grizzly of the earth
Runs a certain manly course
The spring berries, and summer salmon
And honey during harvest-moon.
He does not deviate from the habits of men
And though he’s safe beneath the firs
He has forgotten, he has forgotten.

The Greater She-Bear of the sky
Never bathes in th’ ocean wave
Her white neck is outstretched ever North
She knows that life abides in the colder
Regions, where the air is thin
No-one who has drunk from the heavenly hives
Shall ever thirst, shall ever thirst again.

The bees of the earth make gold
But the bees of the stars make silver
Stringing their polygons in spirals for
pedestrians who comb
Along the shores of space. They make
Food fit for their make: planets are like
Pebbles to them: they weave their wax
Out of suns, and the sun is their home.
For the bees of the stars know their art
They know that the temper of celestial milk
Must last them a longer winter than
            their urban cousins.

Gold is young, but silver is old
Gold is warm, but silver is cold
Gold is better, or so we are told:
Gold is good, but silver is gold.
Is the ocean a friend to man?
Is God a ghost, but a good ghost?
Or is the only worship
The worship of defiance?

It is true, we have lost the claim to kingship
But how is the rightful heir restored—
In the City of Man? By participation
Or conquest? Or is the only worship
The worship of defiance?

The bees of the earth make gold
But the bees of the stars make silver
What mad pursuit? I’ll wonder no more
At the fiery hunt. The boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.

[1] T.S. Eliot “Four Quartets” 59-61

23 July 2017

The Turning of Years

Introduction: I am not sure if the current title of this poem is wholly adequate, but I consider it an improvement on my previous one: "Untitled Poem about Rabbits.” I don’t want to mislead anyone on either the inspiration or the subject matter—it is mainly about rabbits, and the overarching master-mythology is drawn from Richard Adams’s 1972 novel Watership Down.  But that is not my only source—I have drawn from almost everything I know about rabbits. The importance of the number four in Part III is drawn once again from Adams's mythology which claims that rabbits are unable to count to any number larger than four. Interestingly, the Rabbit is the fourth symbol on the Chinese zodiac, because, according to legend, he was the fourth animal to cross the river in the Jade Emperor's race (I suspect the association was intentional). The opening stanza in Part III is the rabbit's attempt at articulating that there were twelve animals at the river. 


I.                   The Cave

You know El-ahrairah, children:
He was born in the dark too, like us
In the Earth-womb, where all our children are born,
He sucked the same Earth-milk and played
Under the same shadowlight
           Within these very walls;
Within this very cave.
Look! Children, there he is,
He plays across the wall. Do not touch, boys and girls,
He is only a shadow. But he was real. Is. Will be. Watch.
He lived in the light, in the morning of the world.
He lived with the badger, the fox, and the deer
And who made them? That’s right. Frith made them.

And who is Frith? Hush now, one at a time—
Raise your paw, Buttercup, or you won’t be called on
Now, all together please:

Frith is the light who hangs in the sky
He made the meadows, the flowers, you, and I
He sleeps after dusk, he wakes at the dawn
But even at night, Frith is not gone!

He appoints a star to govern the night
She watches his children until it is light
Until the break of day, when the shadows flee away
And the children of Frith come out to play

What is he like? Let me think, what is he like?
Well, for one thing, he warms the earth. He makes the flowers
What are flowers? Oh dear, I’m explaining it very badly
One day, when you are older, you will see him for yourself
For now, imagine him like yonder shadowlight.
See how I make El-ahrairah play across the wall?
Well, in the same way Frith makes us.
When you are older.

II.                The Garden

What is Real? Asked the Rabbit one day.
Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens
            To you.
Does it hurt? Asked the Rabbit.
It doesn’t happen all at once. You
Once you are real you can’t be ugly.

I came over the hill, Prince
I called out, “Where art thou?
For I have come to bless thee.”
But thou wast hiding
Yes, thou wast hiding in the garden
Because thou wast ashamed.

All the world will be thy enemy,
Prince with a thousand enemies
And whenever they catch you, they will kill you.
            But first
They must catch you,
Prince with the swift warning.
Be cunning, and your people will never be destroyed.

Between the tree trunks
The wild rabbits danced
With their shadows on the velvet grass
(Digger, listener, runner)
Smooth, slender, black velvet and red
(Digger, listener, runner)
They danced with their shadows
In the glade between the tree trunks.
There are many shapes
Which are not yet shapes
In the morning of the world.
But if you catch them, they may grant you wishes.
They are sound, heat, energy, and light
They are becoming.

“Who has made thy shadow, Prince?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?”
What is Real?

III.             The River

Pad pad pad pad
We were four: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit
Thump thump thump thump
They were four: dragon, snake, horse, goat
Click click click click
They were four: monkey, rooster, dog, pig
Pad, thump, click: we were many.
He called us all to the river.

I am not strong like the ox
Nor am I sly like the snake
Or sleek like the horse
But I
Between the tiger’s wake and the dragon’s
What other choice did I have?
As the lilies bend towards the light
Or water navigates through cracked mud
I was determined.

Yes, yes, the rat was clever, or so they say
But he was no artist. Who among the many
Was like I? Let him speak—‘tis charity to show.
While they crossed the river like common beasts
I fashioned for myself a vessel, as a man would.
Again I say: Who among the many was like I?

The Heavenly Gates, I did what I always am: I ran.
Do not wonder
How I came to be what I am always not: stopped.
Children, I stopped. I did not intend to stop, but
I saw him.
The morning star, the emperor jade
Who saw me as only the emperor sees: first.
Ihr Stürzt nieder, Millionen? Said he
(Which, in our tongue, means hrairah)
And I was very frightened.

I am old now and prefer the old comfort of the dark
Happy to die in the dust I was formed in
But you, children, are getting too big for earth
            to hold you
Soon she will thrust you through this crust and deliver you
Into that shimmering world
Yes it will hurt. Did I not tell you it will hurt?
Choose a path. There is no other path.
Until the cool of day when the shadows flee away
The woods will all be still – a new year’s on the way.

16 July 2017


I hope you will indulge me in my amateur experiment in writing a rap. This song is based on a true story about a girl I knew in the 4th grade. She was always very kind and polite to me, and I was very mean in return, for whatever reason. It might sound melodramatic, or even laughable--I mean, I was ten years old. But sometimes little things like that eat at you, and I've always been a little haunted by it. It's hard to explain. Like I said, experiment.

Emily, Emily
I was your friend and you my enemy
Emily, Emily-y
Emily, Emily
Don’t know why I turned you away from me
Emily, Emily-y
Emily, Emily
I think I brushed away my destiny
Emily, Emily-y
You were three rows up, two columns to the right
Bent over your books, you know I hated the sight
When you glanced back at me at the place I would sit
You were a beautiful face that I would never admit
Smartest girl in the class, we all knew it was true
But I never told you so, cuz I meant to be rude
Every time our eyes met I’d trade a smile for a frown
Emily I’m sorry that I let you down
We would kick up the dirt, rub glory on our face
Unbutton our collars; yeah we ruled the damn place
Found your lipstick in the grass and we chucked in the thorns
So delicious and malicious, don’t know what we did it for
When I passed down the hall I would hear my name
But I never looked back, cuz I needed to remain
In my reign of disdain of your silent pain
Heavens knows why you never did the same
Thirteen years old, I take a trip to the gym
I thought I’d forgotten, but then I saw you again
You saw me like a lighthouse and I threw back a glare
But you turned away your face like there was nobody there
I felt the absence of love like a blow in the gut
And I took from that look that my time was up
Those blue eyes found a better soul to gaze on
The life was still there, but the favor was gone
Pretty boys tell you to never say never
But pretty girls know better than to love you forever
I hated and berated like blunted knife
A girl I could have loved for the rest of my life

-The Minstrel Boy