No, You Shut Up

The world baffles with sounds,
the worst of which is a human voice.
You would think that with a judgment like that
I would hate crowds, but better a pub’s intermingled dozens
than the sound of one fool speaking his mind.
The dozens drum and buzz and hum.
Against the dozens I could ring a wet glass
and sing C above high C,
could settle a bet with bold harmonics,
could stun down the bark of a barracks of dogs.
But against one idiot all another idiot can do is shout.
Imagine a life in which shouting was the precondition
for every action, if you had to shout to step, shout to sit,
shout loudly to effect any outcome.
What when you did speak would you say?
What wouldn’t sound old to you, 
about what could you not say I’ve heard this before?
What a relief it would be to scream yourself hoarse,
to be forced into silence,
the one note you know you can always hold.

Assault to Abjury

Rain commenced, and wind did.

A crippled ship slid ashore.

Our swimmer's limbs went heavy.

The sand had been flattened.

The primary dune, the secondary dune, both leveled.

The maritime forest, extracted.

Every yard of the shore was shocked with jellyfish. 

The blue pillow of the man o' war empty in the afterlight.

The threads of the jellyfish, spent.

Disaster weirdly neatened the beach. 

We cultivated the debris field.

Castaway trash, our treasure.

Jewel box, spoon ring, sack of rock candy. 

A bicycle exoskeleton without wheels, grasshopper green.

Our dead ten speed.

We rested in red mangrove and sheltered in sheets. 

Our bruises blushed backwards, our blisters did.

is it true is it true

God help us we tried to stay shattered but we just got better.

We grew adept, we caught the fish as they fled.

We skinned the fish, our knife clicked like an edict.

We were harmed, and then we healed.

Hothouse

A rose, rose. A violet, violet. A jade, jade.
No. The architecture of each, a refusal.

Rose is not rose nor violet violet nor jade jade.
But each is what it is, not what it seems.

What each seems is what of each gets seen.
Though what we see isn’t the thing seen.

The petals of the rose are violet and jade.
Thus the petals of the rose look, to us, rose.

The shape of the violet absorbs all but violet.
The violet we see is the violet a violet rejects.

A rose is a rose is a rose, but not as a rose.
Jade is the name of jade, not the jade named.
 

Related Poems

On Small Talk

& anyway, what good is the metronomic
one-note canon two house sparrows cant
aloft, between, the pine privacy fence,
if not to simulate estrangement?
 
Watching them watching me, I think,
First impressions are so medieval. O, to be
the provincial drawbridge damming
a ramshackle interior, or the alligator-
green moat babbling sparsely beneath it—
 
all the unknowable utterances one cheeps
forth to be peripherally endeared. A chorus
which, at the moment, I take to mean
 
Friend, you look well from this distance,
from my vantage, perched over here.

Why is Quiet "Kept"?

They are crying out in restaurants,
so delighted to be speaking,
they appear to be insane.

But we are the silent types, 
who hold speech within 
like the rustle of gold foil.

We eat our words and swallow hard.
There’s nothing much to say.
The knot’s in its nest, breathing.
A hand thinks it’s a bird.

The world “nows”; it doesn’t know.
The world “wows.” Then it snows.

A word arrives, silent and upright.
It stands in profile against a white wall.
It’s here for safekeeping only.

Keep quiet, mice.
A cat’s patrolling the area, 
with drones and more drones.

The keys we carry unlock us every day
and lock us up again.  Hushed is the ward.
Now conjugate, please, to werd and to werld.

One of us has just conceived 
the sum for infinity:  plus one, plus one, plus one.
In the cosmological phone booth,
there’s always one more.

The fishing report’s too thick to read, 
but its cadence is that of a god.
Waves and ships are passing.
We can barely discern the semaphores
flashing through the fog.

And here are the ones who walk the walk and talk the talk,  
blackening the day with news, with news.

The Hours Fly Quick

the hours fly quick on wings of clipped winds
like nonsense blown from mouths of hot air—
people—including my own—form syllables, suds,
words shot through pursed lips like greased sleaze
& bloom inside all these rooms dominated by television’s
babble sluicing idiot images invented in modern test tubes—
clones—blinking, slathering all over controlled airwaves
of an up-for-sale world, blinking a paucity of spirit,
so dance you leering ventriloquists, marionettes,
you greedy counterfeits, dance, dance, dance