Last night, I took off Emily Dickinson's clothes.

You have 54 minutes to say something profound about the slipperiness of life.

Better get on it.

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Los reyes.

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Willow, willow, you old gray willow,

won’t you weep for me?

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The Conspicuous Grandeur of Prairie Dogs

If only,
if only
your feet were sensitive enough
to be tuned to receive
and process
the more delicate frequencies
of the dirt.


These vibrations are not the bombastic kind
which humans are so damn fond of
but rather exist as a sort of soft
and suffusive subterranean static, a deep
crackle of roots and water that roars
North and South, fluctuating like the caps
of the peaks, the valleys, the peaks,
tracing the land’s profoundly green quiltwork
with its roar of roots and water.


Here is where things grow,
and only after manifestly long lives
is it where things seize and die


in the vast throat-clutching constrictions
of wildlife death.


The subtlest of pantomimes, played out
among the flora and the fauna, the former
submitting its prehistoric substance
to the persistent latter.


There is a thing that must be remembered
about this bristling land, angled to infamy
with pine spruce and tributaries.
It must be remembered
that this land is beautiful.


It is a lonely wild-eyed wanderer, with a
ragged head haloed in purples and
blues and reds all of such magnitude
and grace
that you—man—cannot help but gasp,
gasp while you reach for your inadequate
heart when the shades filter through you,
the way they do, slow and steady
and confident.


Do not seek acquaintance with the sunset.


Resist the urge to empathize with the eagles and the wolves.


They are aware of you
and do not think of you
even in summer
when the world seems readymade
for animals too stupid to grow fur.


They can, and occasionally do,
turn around from their nests
to stare back at you, sitting in the snowglobe.
Perched like a sparrow, that loudmouth fool of the forest,
on an entwined mass of skinny birch legs.


But do not think, for a day or a minute,
that it strikes them, not at all
like it strikes you.
Welcome to the canyon of wisdom.


The breach in contemplation
that I am peeking over now
with this dull pencil and sunshine.


They are on the right side;
you, for all your meddlesome tricks of industry
(trashcans, spoons, etc.)
are on the wrong
and only hawks, those black smudges of death,
those spiraling marionettes of our trickster Sun,
have anything to do with the middle.

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A Certain Day in Spring

He steps off the boat,
steel boots crunching metallically in the sand.


The old woman noticed
that today the sun rose slowly, like smoke.


A child plays in the eddy,
smooth brown skin traced and trickled with saltwater.


Unseen birds send out bright calls,
taking in the morning below them mile by airborne mile.


The sun winks off the tops of the waves,
sharp diamonds of light, rising and falling,
the world’s possessions
continually swallowed and projected
by the faceted surface,


giving one the impression of gems bouncing
at helter-skelter angles.


Rising and falling forever,
sharp diamonds of light:
the natural order of things.

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jk-keller:

Twice as Forever
Keetra Dean Dixon & my submission to Yule Log 2.0
Also available as a single-serving site


My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night
but ah my foes, and oh my friends: it gives a lovely light.

jk-keller:

Twice as Forever

Keetra Dean Dixon & my submission to Yule Log 2.0

Also available as a single-serving site

My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night

but ah my foes, and oh my friends: it gives a lovely light.

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Refrigerator Journalism

Perhaps Matisse would be proud
of this happenstance collage:


corners of pictures,
snippets of poems,
maybe a caption,
that kinda said it all.

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My Life is a Dog on Its Back

I am an American.
This should be obvious
by the way I write my M’s.


The amount of examples
in the poetry of my people
wherein a dog is the metaphor


is truly a large canine quantity;
a figure that is somewhere near
Boy Scouts in terms of national


ubiquity and fervor. But this
is the truth: my life is a dog
on its back.


Imagine:
Hilariously independent legs,
whirling (windswept saplings)
in their isolated musculature,


moving as though spinning
a large invisible ball, keeping
it aloft, quizzing its bright rubber


the only way they know how.
In the center is the soft,
nostalgic flesh of the belly,


offered as though demanded.
An attempt to please some
bestial god who only accepts


sacrifices of drool. My life lies in
this position for long periods of
time, dog years, as passers-by


show their true colors; some
stopping to stoop and scratch,
some maintaining a steady


forward gaze and the original
pace of their gait. My life is a
dog on its back, playing its part.


Head to one side, left eye
obscured by the carpet, as a wet
and healthy nose takes in


the grand civilization of fibers
one short, goofy snort at a time.

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Don’t you have something to say about it all?

Doesn’t it all hit you in an absolutely fucked-up, bone-snortingly poetical way that shoves words out of you like muscle through a meat grinder?

Doesn’t every gold sunrise and black sunset smack you across the face like a short-sighted father, spilling thoughts and teeth in equal measure across the dingy tiled floor of your consciousness?

Aren’t you sick to linguistic distraction with your alphabetic inadequacy?

Doesn’t your mind kick and scream and spit and writhe with all the strange, messy strength of a sentient python against the limiting sides of your skull, trying its mental best to break through and out and over into the open air of the world where things are told they can run free as though no chains ever knew them?

Weren’t you trapped for all those forsworn years in a tall concrete cage, miles beyond your understanding, that reached into an exalted, uncaring heaven like a child reaching for a fridge that it knew would never open?

Why are you so quiet?

Why do you just sit there, egg on your face, silently accepting everything

as though the echo had the answers?

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Talking like an Idiot, Grinning like a Journeyman

The given volume is fleshed-out

and metrically realized, the liquid

width and breadth of its eccentricity

contained within this shatterproof

country of glass. A land ruled by the

heavy hand of accuracy, that most

exacting of kings.

 

It is a place where even the larks,

fowl renowned for diligent hunger,

refuse to alight

for fear of disturbing the scientifically

placid surface of a farm with exactly

200 acres, or the nearby lake, filled

with no less than 5,000 cubic feet

of nitrogen-rich breakwater.

 

The neighborhoods are all a precise

25 square miles and eye-pleasingly

equidistant, forming, from above, a

perfect Euclidian circle that continually

spills out people from its smooth

circumference and then efficiently

vacuums them back in. Their unremarkable

brown and black heads that melt around

like brushstrokes are the only thing that

belies the wonderful mathematical

oneness of this remarkable, age-old clock;

 

a brilliant, brainbeat machine

set into motion by vest-wearing, spry-

eyed old tinkerers with fingers that fussed

like grasshoppers over the delicate

silver guts of their craftsmanship.

 

I saw their workshop once, when I

left school for a year to take a nostalgic

tour of the old country, one of those

espresso fueled sojourns that require

the same thoughtful felt cap stuck

day-to-say at the same thoughtful angle

on my entirely empty head.

 

I watched one work for nearly

an hour, a devoted pilgrim absolutely

smitten by the twisted brow of his

concentration, an iron will captaining hands

so sure and so swift I thought at any

moment they would unfold their

hidden wings and fly confidently out of

the spacious yellow window above his

crowded table, the one he leaves open

in the summer.

 

Across impeccably square homesteads and

playgrounds, back to the logically angled

fractal branch of their roosting. Wise,

arthritic birds, eyes closed to the rain,

silently arranging the beat of the drops

to themselves inside their filigree minds (woven

of industry), composing a sonata so beautiful

and so coherent it would bring even a king

to his royally padded knees.

Weather

Try your

eyeball best

to take in this

mesmerized

multitude,

heads turned

upwards

like curious

sunflowers,

upwards towards

the scandalously

beautiful

spectacle

above them, a

cloud perhaps;

 

twisting itself

painfully,

trying to please

the wind.

 

First a grin,

next a duck,

then a man

with a scar

on his belly

swears

he sees

his family

crest.

 

As the day

pays out,

cautiously,

evenly,

a clean banker

in a crooked

town, the

spectacle is

joined by

haphazard

shapes, avant-

garde

collections of

vapor.

 

Rainswelled

eyes, looking

down in

parental

amusement

at the

amoebous form

below them,

a fascinating

squirm that

at first looked

like a fish,

then, years later,

a dragon.

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While You Were Upstairs

While you were upstairs,

in that corner room.

the lofted one above

the stationary store

that you have to take

those stubborn covered

stairs to get to, the stairs

with the steps made of

that particular batch of

old-growth pine that

complains like a

lighthouse

with every hurried shoesole

that is pressed into

the faded knots of its face:

stairways, as a rule,

are notoriously bad

at hiding their emotions.

They really do

wear their hearts

on their handrails.

 

While you were upstairs,

your horse tied loosely

to the closest post

you could find,

stamping his painful feet

at random intervals,

no corporal enthusiasm

to give movement

to the absolutely

cataclysmic boredom

volcanoing inside of him,

an offensive sort of feeling

that he has no way

of ever understanding. His

head hangs low at that sad,

southwestern angle that

so many have tried

and failed

to capture in a chunk

of clay, a piece of bronze.

 

He looks every bit

the wanderer

as he takes in the

muddy sidewalk beneath

him with those huge,

liquid eyes that seem to

surprise everyone into

a sort of animalistic

honesty the first time

they see them. He is

staring hungrily at the Earth,

contemplating how to

unhinge his powerful, equine

jaw and swallow it whole,

crunching messily

on the round and soggy carrot.

 

I was down in the road

while you were upstairs,

wearing my best

Tuesday clothes. The sky

was hyperbolic and blue,

a windwoven cap that

rested at a jaunty angle

on every outdoor head;

when they enter a room,

for the sake of politeness,

the cap is removed

and placed carefully on its

rack of atmosphere,

known for its low-

hanging hooks and

convenient location,

ready to be put back on

when the gentleman comes

out for a smoke, or, maybe,

a walk with a pretty girl,

one with wheatgrass,

not flowers,

in her hair.

 

I was down in the road,

the wide one

that looks like a river,

when I saw her

laughing a late-summer

laugh, holding her

right hand in such a way

as to erase, with a pink-

and-white explosion,

even the most fortified

of minds. She saw your

horse and saw his eyes

and surely had something

wonderful to say

about it all, but

I was too far to hear

from my crow’s-nest

streetcorner, watching

the slow, unproven waltz

of the mid-morning

village as it stumbled

illogically

across the green-and-brown,

pastoral expanse

of the Great American Desert.

 

Watching, loving, enraptured

like a father

who would die for this

purple, ineffectual being,

confused and satisfied

at the same time,

swelling with a pride

that I had no hope

of ever understanding.

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This space intentionally left blank.

More often than not,

the title is a wriggly task,

a chore; a rude, barely-

loveable friend who’s

been coming over

(uninvited)

for as long as you

can remember.

 

Many times, a title

is downright

inappropriate,

a conspicuous diamond

haughtily reclined

in a gunmetal grey,

blackmouthed tin can,

sculpturally dented and

filled with an industrial

mess of high-grade

charcoal. Do it a favor,

and throw it away.

 

Supposedly, the title in

in fact a refuge, a

sacrosanct, papyrus sort

of place where one

—for a brief, colorless moment—

can stop running in the

tight blue circle of

abject creativity

and take a one or two or

three word breather.

 

How childish: sprinting with

animal speed towards

 a sentence fragment

rest stop where one can be,

if one so chooses,

terribly, terribly clever.

And one should take

every opportunity one

is presented to be terribly,

terribly clever. The chances

to revel in true courtroom

jestership instead of

tripping over the wit of

welcome mats fall as rarely

as stars with names

and land

twice as hard.

 

Yet, perhaps that is where

I went wrong, lost my

proverbial and poetical way.

Maybe I am the one choosing

to ignore whistle shrieks and

mirror glints. I could see it.

It wouldn’t be the first time

I closed my eyes

to the first pick trickles

of daylight; closed to the

wild carnation streaks of

infant hours that bloom

in volumes across and into

the nightworld’s cold colbalt

blue, acrylically staining a

waking sky with prehistoric colors

as soft and as sweet

as a girl’s mouth.

 

Keeping them closed,

saving them,

so I can fling them open

later, like doors

receiving lovers, throw

them wide at ten

to hopefully

be blind

by noon.

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(Insert poem about The Day of the Dead here.)

They sit reposed

in a stern, saccharine row,

things that are clearly

not books

being help up

and off the floor

by something

that is clearly

a bookshelf.

A row as white as

plaster and as black

as death, grinning like

a seashore in a thin,

expansive line of

hyperbolic teeth that

seems to click on and

on, row after dental

row subsumed into the

same garish band,

oftentimes

in a humid zig-zag

pattern, heinous and

hard to see, sneaky like the

castor beads cluttering the

kitchen floor, spilled

innards of her broken

cascabel.

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(Source: vintagebrownie, via jemportland)

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