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[untitled yule tide]— draft, page 9

[untitled yule tide]— draft, page 9

a calendar of salt & tides
& birds scything the full sky

it took me so long to write this
it’s over — but that’s

the way with everything we
say in unison with briny

tongues— tide me
over — if you put 

something in a circle— no one
will want to cross it

•for April I will try to work out one page of a draft per day from a long poem in sections of 10 pages each

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Ocean Shores

“Death is not a gentle falling asleep as I once believed. It’s brutal, hideous, and foul smelling. I wrap my arms around myself and rejoice in my youth and my health. Otherwise my youth is nothing more than a deficiency and a hindrance that I can’t get rid of fast enough.” —Tove Ditlevsen

I believe is not a phrase I use. It’s a guess with heart
but I’ve scooped the meat from mine out, a bell pepper
denuded of seeds. On a plane, the boyfriend gropes
at his girlfriend in such a way. I am seen for what 
I haven’t done, a sequence of negatives that make sense
in exposed light. I went a year without starting a poem
with “I” and it was like removing all the forks from my drawer.
The work we do is necessary, I say in a commanding voice.
I am exposed to the light. I scatter and descend. I tell a man
I have lived in the present so long it has scorched me. 
This is a lie. Out the window, snow-capped mountains,
hard as a fact. I can hardly make sense of  topography,
that is, a positive so real it temporarily dulls me. I think
I could reach down and stroke the mountains like the spine
of a kitten. I think I belong anywhere at all. The boyfriend
in front of me wears a black nail for a thumb, his elbow
greasing his neighbor’s belly. I’m trying to be as alone 
as possible. A dark cloud over a peak, a sex toy forgotten
in a drawer. I want to be better than the acid in my throat
but it will eat me when I die, each wretch a threat, a thought
called up. Later, I’ll follow an illegal trail through the dunes,
fox scat and crushed Glaucous egg, a torn seam in the Pacific
where men putter on ATV bikes to dead bonfire sites, a longing as cheap
as a Goo Goo Dolls song. I am willing to call such things belief.

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The theory of the ory

Pulling from the everything grab bag
The etch a sketch, the litebrite
Four score and twenty equals 4×20+20?

Ogle the ogre
The ogre ogles back
Letting the steam out the open door

Task-doer possession-haver
Left foot yellow right arm green
The wind rises the eyes widen

I stake out my end of the teeter totter
Heater hotter
Theater thoughter

Outlasts the competition
Compassion outlaw
Petitioning compstat

My you minds their I
Though I suspect they couldn’t care one way or the other
How about you

Flicking a crumb or a beetle
This little piggy
Going to market, staying home

I’m a person, you’re a person
And you, and you, and you
<&U&U&U>

Cosmology, cosmetology
Astronomy, astrology
Asteroids in space, stalactites on the ground

I have a trick
To remember
I wear the poem on my person

Before you write it down
Do you hear the scribbling or the drumming?
Even light makes a sound

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POPCORN CHALLENGE

Of course when a dog falls from the drainpipe you catch it

Turns out I didn’t have anything to worry because they’re people too

Pillows were probably on the floor when they arrived

An anthology is a record of a conversation

which is never perfect

What happens when we say we’re going to make the internet better

What happens next year

Meat has been used as an offering 

but can this bag of venison represent peace and safety

Often I think of the cow in Apocalypse Now

Can you visualize numbers

My favorite parenting books are the kind that say don’t read parenting books

Walking down a YES hallway

Rationing contacts

Giving his foot a message from me

Sanctuary for yarn 

Video letter for Tokyo

A feeling that there are about to be multiple pets

First a bee then a tick it must be above forty degrees

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[ # ]

at the center of the room, another room

tuck into crook of ceiling, i’m the nocturne missing a chord
i’m wooing the late creatures with an incomplete sound
could stay here ’til morning
where’s made to catch a sound of any quality
i’ve used every door in the place, they all lead back inside

the ears on the mantle, not originally made to hear me, absorb
the little noises my body makes, devise a shitty sonar to remind me
i’m being reflected with no map for my return

under the ears, if we’re skipping errant senses:
layer of metal
layer of wood
mind your voice: one absorbs & one amplifies
if you say help me only the furniture will keep your secret

years later you’ll leave a mark where a mark’s due
you’ll notice the box wasn’t for holding anything
you never found the courage to crawl inside, you never learned
who would affix a sheet of metal to a slope
having pounded it into a sea of faces,
who are they

(place this card dead center)

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10

Born in a town named for it
she never worshipped

a sundown song strung between
any two upright things

She slipped right by & nobody
heard the radio retune itself

the lake roll over into an impossible
bloom of perpetual summer

every knee in the place
brown with exposure or bruise

He called her down the hall
He called her from the car

He called her everything but
her given name she’d trashed

retuned toward anywhere 
anywhere anywhere

else away


—
The place where we are going
is the place where we were
before we were born 
(Joanne Kyger, “Saturday Radio”)
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9 (on day 10)

I wanted the natural 
but all I had was the pale green

so the monster’s
not getting made today

In New Orleans a bar & clinic
team up to organize Shots for Shots

& I envy everybody, the bar, 
the clinic, the shots, the bared arms

the street outside with folding chairs 
lined up, the bands that happen by

& stop because people waiting 
need something to dance to

the window several blocks down
with you a shadow in it, 

swinging out, spooling to reach me
ready to take in as much as you can
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WORKERS UNITE DUH

Heart worms can crawl out of a dog’s nose

A new place to get yarn

You’re still alive so here’s a scarf

In the I’ll do it later syndrome

Why the tail light went into the wall

Oxford scooter daddy says let’s go

Marks up house of the golden worker

The police will be replaced and renamed

The Family of Nonjudgemental Adults

Turns out you can have everything 

Advertisements for water

The umph of my sabotage is nose in books

Do you know why this street is called Union Street

Do you know why these buildings were here

How the company paid for them

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Are you talented or hardworking?

Learning to live interstitially

It takes a while but finally the fountains pool

And we can drink or bathe

The waters are warm

And slightly effervescent 

It is hard to choose

It feels, it takes, it seems, it is

Who is this it so busy with activity?

Where is the lapel to sticker the label?

Vote already!

So you might know me better

Horace, Sulpicia,

I stood under the shadow and looked up

Expecting a cloud

And there was the ostrich in the treetops

Or not even an ostrich exactly but some extinct giant

Molting in the canopy

Birds are dinosaurs

So what are people?

What is a fork? An ancient spoon

Counterpoint: no it’s not

Are heebie geebies Jewish?

Where was the first hullabaloo?

Once upon a time

Eating a tuna melt while writing this poem

Remembering malaise, a mothball miasma

Behind the taped-up door to the computer room

Trying to laugh while frowning, trying to frown while laughing

The mute switch stops the machine from listening but we can keep on talking

Or if you prefer, unspeaking

Deep into the night

Like a dry well

Making small improvements to the morning

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IT’S OKAY TO BE AN INTROVERT

The plan is to do everything I love after I do everything else

It’s how my unconscious stays in her favorite anger mode

All the things I would do without children

Running out of time with longing

Pouring sweet water

Licking the coffin clean

Magic box is another word for apartment

We don’t always have to follow the rules we don’t even know any rules

When Will was born with a hole in his heart

his mother was afraid to touch him

My father adored him

My father adored

Tall as tall

Interested in obstacles of course

I tricked you into work with seduction

Secret notes hanging in mezuzahs

It’s a wonderful joy any of the plants survived

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Prokofiev

I compose a most delicate email

Facially granite, uncomfortably myself

Why would I take credit when I can share credit

Be the reed dad or the tree dad

In which my lapidary fears become like unguents

To help in the defeat

Of gravity, friction, the strong force

Let the weak force arbitrate!

The best sentences demand punctuation

I compose my fixed idea

If poets wrote laws and lawyers wrote poems

Three trombones for the wolf

Prowling the edge of a thousand lakes

Only to live in a kennel beside the lambs

Inscrutable is an onomatopoeia of eyebrows

Illegible for muscles around the eyes

Incomprehensible resides in the temples

Impossible in the shoulders and the chest

I hold my neck for abstruse

Stroke my forehead for abstract

Obscure crawls chilly toward my elbows

Hostile in my truculent hips

A blur drips riverine footward

In the rattling shadow of monuments

Are aging and living the same thing?

I compose my composure

Mostly thermodynamic

Piecemeal as non-fiction

But you know what I am

Do you know what I am?

If Peter hadn’t caught the wolf, what then?

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[untitled yule tide]— draft, page 8

[untitled yule tide]— draft, page 8

seastruck grid of skies 
a whole year— more

skies than days
in five days I saw

at least sixty skies —
gray wool—broken orange 

glass—burning—oystershell—
gray cool—boyfull—clearing blue—

mirror calm—gentle cloud commas—
whirled up storm waves—

•for April I will try to work out one page of a draft per day from a long poem in sections of 10 pages each

•opening 3 lines in response to Mary Burger’s Skies of 2020 — for example https://www.instagram.com/p/CIEBwR8BCg2/ — but I haven’t yet responded to this work in the manner it deserves

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8

We get too late a start
floundering in all this unpeeled light.

In the films the wallpapered trains
are gorgeous even though I know they’re brittle

boxes hammered together on a stage.
Rattle us headlong to anywhere

demented light, toss me side
to side, reaching for a dining car chair.

The fur is fake. The eyebrows fake.
The steamship and the mountain 

are real.
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Poem for Generous

I try to be not proud, to feel no shame
Listening to kids and their inventions

Which involve perforations to deliver
Vaccines through the bottom of my feet

A metal plate leans up against my door
The diary evacuated beyond all imagining

Spectre all I eat is myself
A most nourishing meal but my sole protein

I should seek out other requirements
Climb the energy pyramid

Smoke of the burning bushes, glacial water runoff
In your long-range telescope viewfinder

The mirrors and parabolic dishes align
Is that a should or a must in your will

I can be located even outside parameters
Least world is the sound of the sound of my voice

This is what I hear from your perspective
Bitcoin ballet

Extinction springtime
Listen to me person consult the contract

Earbuds on the picnickers eyes on the phones
Some dogs have breeds some birds have songs

If the language has gotten too old speak it
I’m not so used to these maneuvers