Thursday, December 31, 2020


 a scattering of raindrops
pattering on the skylight
furnace stops stove ticks
the hour before midnight

a year everyone hated
ending without a ripple
eternal music of the stars
humming in human ears

I am only here right now
laying down a basic groove
synthesizing the raw data
needed for a celebration

shower passed or paused
I listen for perfect silence
behind the buzzy drone
deaf to the nonexistent

fireworks sound and light
only in the back of mind
flowing into easy words
no call to make it harder

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Only Visiing

 castles exist
though we only have a house
and a few acres
people live in them
overwhelmed by history
nature surrenders
to fencing and saws
new trees a new community
animals well fed
heirlooms abound
new stuff doesn't last as long
or deeply satisfy
the old is someone else's
you are only visiting

Sunday, December 06, 2020

My Things

I came to get my things
I am here to get my things
I am now taking my things
I took my things with me when I went
I am leaving everything
I am never coming back
no regrets

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Natural Prayer

do we even remember how it was
to be close to other people excited
to be part of a crowd moved as one
all that changed temporarily then
not perhaps never coming back 

nothing actually happens until
something does our life random
yet repetitious original yet banal
our own yet biological historical

is it too late for Spinoza
or Schopenauer yes I fear
I have frittered away my life
infected by Surrealism attention
is the natural prayer of the soul

Thursday, October 15, 2020

New Glasses

not seeing itself
but what you see
old issues dissolve
with new glasses
there's the world
let noise be music
off the radio silence
roars hums secrets
into open ears

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Mood Swings

are mood swings permitted in this play
ground swells from a storm elsewhere
reach across life without losing power

even now childhood traumas matter if
you think they do who are you anyway
if not fully formed from the very first

I wish I could start fresh but never was
could only fail because the country had
betrayed Lew's confidence Dot's desire

I expect what I was expected to expect
even now love's white-out substitutes
for being what I never could become

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Loose Change

the news doesn't have the answers
what you wonder is not revealed
in facts or lies a proper face put on
for the occasion melts later at home
when you're all alone with gravity

don't ask nature for excuses either
early night lasts longer every day
until the annual reversal the dead
reviving doesn't apply to animals
like you and me and those we love

the sun blazes away behind clouds
indifferent to its local dominance
is there life on other planets do you
care who knows your secrets can I
tell if what you say is wholly true

and further questions we'll discuss
the death of friends lost ecstasies
episodes of fading faith extend to
mornings like this dark and rainy
days counted out like loose change

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Moving Air

hard to be serious and why
this instant this pattern life
itself so trivial among many
minuscule efforts at being

for God if you believe if not
what else excuses self-belief
focus on how the words fall
not how you feel or fail to

called-for confidence eludes
conviction in conversation
for example as in for instance
insisting your work is good

who cares if you don't say
I mean it who listens if you
do your best crystallizes
casually from moving air

Saturday, October 10, 2020

New Energy

days of nothing but
keeping busy bored
is not true sanity

the urge to lie down
obeyed leads to new
energy feeling good

OK anyway music
cookies sunlight
in the afternoon

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Elevated Reading

feeling sick and dying is nothing
special but for happening to me
after so much health and happiness
in love and elevated reading I myself
can write and managed to survive
degraded hope for improving long-
lost revolution in spite of everything

this you will remember spring fall
colors pure bright white sunlight
as though it mattered how I felt
to weather ever changing getting
worse for months and never better
than it used to be if only you could
remember how to count days' ways

Not Me

how little reality I let in
this is reality
not mention what is happening
somewhere else
is not another time

this is the one we have
eating us slowly up
whether we want to think about it
or say not me
not what I meant

this my register
forbidden to go further
inherited limits beautiful
as I want it to be
or even my own idea

Saturday, September 12, 2020


saturation of things I am not interested in
Russian election hacking back to school other
cultures plans for improving the theatre after the pandemic
this is now I am me here old full satisfied

Friday, September 04, 2020

All Set

I backed up my computer \
and charged my phone
nothing to worry about

Sunday, August 02, 2020

All I Have

this is all I have this
life largely over to make
a picture of the world

read seeing ever less
widely staying home
hardly talk to anyone

NPR is just the radio
music can be anything
we can still have fun

Friday, July 31, 2020

Nothing Else

what the mind throws up feels real but isn't
a man floating in the sky a woman's voice
"You can" close to my ear can what I wonder
dreaming on the edge of sleep but not tired
sleeping standing up because nothing else
I can't see well enough to read all the time

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Little Poem

I am not entirely happy with myself
sometimes I mess up
but I'm not going to make too much of it
just this little poem

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Roll Call

I see what you mean my best hope
innocence recovered if not resumed
my résumé roomy enough for that

cryptic wisdom the last remains a
fragment shored into infinite time
can anything be infinite anymore

the temperature wobbles between
hints of coming cold and extreme
heat further agitation of electrons

mere dream questioning survival
barely fit for roll call which I am
sharing my name with millions

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Hold Still

avid for input I read
in fragments looking
for what I need what
can it be engagement
attention meditation
is too vague to hold
still doing it anyway

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Fly Away

mind keeps rising
even as we sink

free as we are we
stay in our cage

the door is open
go out fly away

Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Conversation

as if rich we have everything
we need or merely want
free to while away desire

only I would put this word
here like this such stuff
merely a question of context

my construct has to substitute
for being myself living a life
others have ones of their own

remind me what did I say
was it a conversation
was someone really there

together part of the flow
literature sensibility what
will anyone quite remember

Now What

now what rain or other weather
tickles the troubled world what
odd factors account for being
here like this trying to waken
what now is too much to ask
but we do wanting to be ready
whatever the day may present

I in my usual morning chair
ready my eyes to see another
multiplicity of signals closely
watching for signs and clues
now what occasional arising
releases understanding shakes
my complacent blindness alive

Monday, June 08, 2020

Other Breathing

the sound of rain on the skylight reminds me
the world is there I am in it and it in me sensed
not mattering I can rely on comforts all around
outside in my mind body appetites satisfied

shower means it stops holds its breath exhales
other breathing starts again sounding silence
reminds me I am alone with others inextricable
caring that life is watered washed of all sorrow

Friday, June 05, 2020

Steady Breath

is something going on
one language not enough
to tell me what it is

words hover over meaning
too subtle to be known
too complicated to fit

hollowed by overuse
valued for efficiency
cheap imitation China

African words say more
but it doesn't apply in
a city of thirteen million

but where are we now
here reaching for you
translating steady breath

Saturday, May 30, 2020

What I See

hard to see what to do
hard not to see what I do
hard to see what I read
and write about see hardly

the letters still letter form
magnification helps I
proofread myself reading
what I already know is there

can I see well enough to see
to still be me to go on still
forming what I may not read
correctly seeing what I see

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Sheer Being

it wouldn't exist if someone hadn't thought it up
absolutely not and then it does even if forgotten
cre-a-ti-vi-ty emerging from god-given chaos too
complex to be seen as order on a higher plateau

thus we get kicks feel flow mark passage perform
our better nature realized in pataphysical matter
collateral effect irrelevant whatever the apparent
subject or content sheer being validates its worth

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Wait Calm

real art takes more patience
in the moment one wonders
how not to be bored go on
and finish don't waste time
wrong thought there will be
others give this all attention
wait calm to the actual end

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Editing Notes

what is the difference between meaning and actual meaning
so why say actual

we're in her head
you don't have to say her name

you said he had no passion in the first paragraph
maybe a different word

this should really be integrated with the other time you say it
oh never mind leave it

I'd get rid of the single quotes
too fussy especially in dialogue
sometimes instead italics

"spit out a mouthful of lunch onto her plate"

like is better than such as

it never hurts to be clear

Friday, May 08, 2020

Get Up

what I dream of Trump
whisked away in a black
Lincoln party turned riot
all destroyed like Aleppo

where is my old energy
driving driven depthless
now I barely can get up
paralyzed abruptly move

the day is mostly waiting
idle not to miss the call
everyone is too busy or
nothing can yet be done

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Limits Winthin

cultural expectations completely control taste feeling reaction time limits
within which we choose define the self we prefer to project sense as real
our own privately held property disposed of obedient to implicit contract
entered into unwittingly fine print unreadable without inaccessible effort

cultural expectations hide in every corner window precondition of comfort
list of what occurs it can be recognized or programmed to forget imagining
a picture of nothing ungiven can be taken away by stealth wisdom magical
thought ritual enactment regularly repeated like the mantra of who we are

cultural expectations spring upon us from hidden reservoirs unremembered
even as we sink we rise vaporous wraiths of supposition circumscribed by
air continuous in and out replaced by more of the same memories rewritten
in different styles which changes nothing we dare invest with actual meaning

cultural expectations reaffirm what undermines direct perception via unique
self-invention as hippie communard corporate cog cowboy loner wary artist
gives back information synthesized from coincidentally simultaneous history
edited aggregate hardened perceptible only from a distant planet long extinct

cultural expectations remind recipient as sender returns favorable evaluation
we are one composite of each other in a range biology physics distance only
attenuates if we were there we would be other languages function differently
exchanging words connecting structures joining separate interior incomplete

Thursday, April 16, 2020

More Hours

the town's noon siren is always a few minutes early meaning what
I mean to be on time for no appointments in this month or the next
at least we have our regular rhythms clean stalls free hens breakfast
nap after lunch before she rides Rocky while I look on read one book
after another takes me away to Germany Greece New Guinea together
in the evening after dinner before she sleeps I while away more hours
until my bedtime midnight join her in a bed full of sleep and dreams

Monday, April 13, 2020

Being Myself

nutmeg cloves and mace were the spices that drove exploration
drove over native cultures everywhere east of Egypt even China
for a while now that's over and everything we learned is changed

I can't help being myself with all my galling gaps and limitations
when I let my mind wander it can't find anyplace interesting to go
how can I surprise myself explode my style say a thing I never saw

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Wet Grass

the sun had come out after days of rain I should have said
it sparkled on the wet grass the white clouds puffy against
blue sky in the west but I didn't understand the exercise of
looking and generalized instead of saying what I really saw
attention to the present not an impression I wanted to make

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Only to Me

waves of fright lap at the shores of my tranquility
I am reading poetry now getting it for a change
later another line will come to me from the rain

boring is the word from Nancy Foster unsettling
mine for now anxiety makes me feel sick I am not
merely vulnerable no longer ready to feel strong

everything signifies but only to me when I'm gone
no one will remember these paintings' special ring
George Sand in the park boys picking raspberries

Monday, March 30, 2020

Fatal Steps

unconstrained maximalization
peeps from the undergrowth of
optimization theory undermining
all our natural inclinations as if
mathematics ruled reality so it is
the basic application classified
no one knows what's going on

my old friend follows fascination
into weaponry god knows what
will result from human curiosity
unbound by commonsensical
reasoning if I don't someone else
will take the fatal steps ahead
follow to the logical conclusion

I don't begin to understand the
math defeated as a freshman I
let it go did something other led
a different style of grownup life
who better richer more fulfilled
our beautiful being undefined
unmeaninged by epidemic death

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

No Secret

for example what is happening
in Afghanistan and Iraq
where we squandered billions
blowing things up thousands
of lives lost have we now
forgotten don't we even care

why was wonky even then
revenge power someone's lust
for more fatalistic falling
no one wiser could prevent
as if history was written
before we could even think

then you stop and wonder
what else we take for granted
is utterly disastrously wrong
warped priorities no secret
where do you start to fix it
better nothing like right now

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally, who has died of the effects of COVID-19, was a friend of Scott Burton's at Columbia. I had a fling with Scott around 1960, when he may have still been a senior but I think was already writing for Art News. Terrence was living with Edward Albee in a duplex in the West Village, with Edward's ex-lover William Flanagan on the lower level. Scott took me over to see Terrence, Edward not at home, and the three of us rolled around together on the big bed that filled the bedroom from wall to wall. I remember looking at Edward's writing desk, which faced a blank wall so nothing would distract him from his imaginings. After a few years Terrence broke up with Edward, who didn't want to be identified as gay and wouldn't publicly acknowledge him. Terrence went on to write a series of entertaining plays that helped make gay love relations imaginable and eventually acceptable to a general audience. It must have been the Albee connection that brought so much attention to his first play, "And Things That Go Bump in the Night," when it was done at the new Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. I was flown out to see it along with other influencers and remember the Life photographer snapping pictures of us in the lobby more than I remember the play, which subsequently flopped on Broadway. But Terrence was just getting started and gave birth to many more in a long and beautiful life.


breathing is not enough
but it helps

Minus Readers

and no one will read
so I write into the void
minus readers to help me
find what I mean to say

still I like to put out these
traces of my waning days
hoping no fragile parts fail
while the virus rules

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Talking to Myself

thinking is talking to myself
if no one is asking anything
or interested enough to respond
then who am I to answer back

no more a critic or critical I
silently swallow my opinions
they hardly matter to anyone
and I could be entirely wrong

I'd pay for a sympathetic ear
someone smarter than I am to
hear what I am trying to say
as I talk to myself and think

Friday, February 28, 2020

What to Say

what it meant to me
and what to say about it
what I want to think it means
or meaning give to it
what of the other survives
what is sadly forgotten
as if we never met
what was originally intended
what you imagine
when I speak of this

Monday, February 17, 2020

Future Man

am I overly attached to being homo sapiens
can I write for the future man
though the present doesn't care
someday we will be fondly remembered
by specialist aesthetes who will see how far we fell
before we disappeared entirely
and weep

Friday, February 14, 2020

Even Here

we didn't do it
though we thought we might
we didn't go there
and never will now

roars and clanks
say work being done
white light bright
between rains

if I still can read
words and piano music
I still can write
any time even here

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

"Too Boring"

cruel truths to pseudo power
yield relief tip inner voices off
warm water lifting just enough
still or self-propelled shorter
shower punched-up ruffians
pleased to be unremembering

silence like a foggy morning
"too boring" now sublime as
you arrive remain enhanced
resonance releases afternoon
delight beside a cold rushing
torrent of finally speaking out

Saturday, February 08, 2020

And Yet

if I feel as I feel
I feel
no one ever knows
and yet
we are lovers
we love
we are contented

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

An Idea

could be anything

having an idea
make something up

a play
a novel
more poems

I call fun
bring it on

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Random Nets

he's been telling me you and he are
my mind loosened by weariness and
despair casting random nets catches
nonsense feeling something unspoken
time doesn't care about how I feel it
marches ticking chimes another hour
I live by clock even now when free

the story is just a story whatever goes
I can't help making jokes grotesques
misfitting like my pants falling down
like someone I don't like like trying
to be better when the time has passed
seeing less well hearing mainly noise
stumbling yearning doing what I can