Friday, December 31, 2021

The Moment

entertaining enough for me
with or without Beethoven
in the middle the moment
passes into unremembered
ground of rhe new present
more beautiful still when
I was there I knew it all
noble romantic absolute
as good as a good show

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Inner Life

My friend Joe Chaikin was a friend of Susan Sontag. I met her a couple of times with him and joined the conversation. I still remember an argument I had with her. We were talking about inner life, our inner lives, and Susan remarked that most people don't have inner lives. This seemed like a deeply illberal position—I was shocked and offended. Everybody has an inner life, I insisted. But she is probably right. Having an inner life means paying attention to consciousness itself, not just whatever you happen to be doing or saying, who you happen to be with, Most people, I suspect, don't even do that but tend to act mechanically, their minds elsewhere, as if being physically present is enough. Inner life can be rich beyond measure, fed by all the art and thought you have ever taken in. Joe, Susan, and I kept up with plays and movies, read inquiringly all the time, went to concerts, opera, ballet, museums, thinking about it all and processing it into work of our own, thinking about ourselves doing it. Not everybody does that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Really Serious

ironic paradox may not be enough
or the whole story I want to tell
only a tool a stance a habit of mind
an attitude to bridge the crevasse
a twinkle in my eye so you know
I'm joking when I'm really serious

Sunday, December 19, 2021


more than I imagine still here
I can dance alone in my studio
embody music arms and hands
enough to express the phrase

what joy to move with genius
connected at the highest level
not everything can be shared
doesn't mean it isn't beautiful

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Too Exciting

my head is not that big
barely room for  brain
and the lower functions
no matter how fast I
think I'll never catch up

full speed is a walk I
can't run jump hurry
aim only for andante
switch the music off
if it gets too exciting

Monday, December 13, 2021

One Thought

Steve doesn't take me seriously
as a poet because he thinks I
don't revise but I do when I
see a way to make it better
it's all one thought being
human all we can do our best

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Like a Garden

I don't so much decide as wait to know
if I try to think I get self-conscious think
I don't know how yet something thinks
further understanding arises of its own
all is clear only waiting to be unearthed
plowed like a garden to bloom and fruit

Friday, December 10, 2021

Keith Ridgway

time slows down and his thoughts slip
thinks Tommy on his way to the party
isn't that what I am courting every day
I will order his book keep writing mine
he has few readers but a publishing
machine so do I in a way but his gets him
published in The New Yorker analyzed
in The New York Review of Books to me
New York is a graveyard of memories
but I still count on them to tell me about
books and writers I might want to read

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Good Cheer

 my mind is reeling not to
mention incipient dizziness
the simplest things are too
complicated what became
of my fabulous competence
and tireless physical vigor

was it always like this not
really the new now still the
only one I can deal with it
possibly not so well but I
was never satisfied by my
own level of performance

can I still count on charm I
wonder demonstrate good
cheer as if I Ioved the world
as it is I feel reservations
does that compensate for
not really being a genius

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Clumps and Voids

clumps and voids
a description of the univers
the clumps are galaxie
voids the vast spaces in betwee
and what is beyond that
this is the kind of question I like
irrelevant to actual life
but fundamenta

troubles matter
for poetry otherwise useless
though unavoidable
relax and be happy good advice
for most occaions
when the real will not be denied
it briefly dominates
remain yourself

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Endless Possibiities

 what do I mean and
why do I say it to you
what is the answer
what question asked
because it can be

what am I missing
do you know better
why am I alone as
if I need to be to
do what I have to

essy to ask anyting
if it comes to mind
emptiness opens up
endless possibilities
invoking what arises

don't be discouraged
this too will pass a
child can understand
what anyone expects
may be all you know

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Inner Process

 for Kelley Morehouse

I want it to make it clear in the doing
these little thoughts not floating in a void
overdo enjambment and unpunctuation
challenging reader to find the breaks

it isn't fair you cry to make me work
so hard to little profit but it's greater
to look closer penetrate inner process

recognize what I found so interesting
you and me babe is all there is after all
and you may not exist pay no attention
despite all my effort to engage funnily
wisely within the limits of the language

Inner Process

want it to make it clear in the doing
these little thoughts not floating in a void
overdoing enjambment not punctuating
challenges reader to identify the breaks

it isn't fair you cry to make me work
so hard to little profit but it's greater
to look closer penetrate inner process
discover what I thought provocative

you and me babe is all there is after all
and you may not exist pay no attention
despite all my effort to engage funnily
wisely within the limits of the language

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Music Too

I don't know what anything means
what does that mean for example
is it myself or the world I refer to
and is there any actual difference

it's early for chocolate but why wait
I can have more later if I decide to
these convenient routines not rigid
I can still decide what I want to do

music too at the click of a switch
something like Mozart always helps
realize the possibility of being alive
rewording what I continue to believe

Monday, November 22, 2021

Our Place

if we took it seriously we'd go mad
like Artaud choosing not to pretend
everything is available nothing counts
as if history didn't put us in our place

this tone no artifice or affectation
these words emerge express this
thought whether I like it or not
and I do or I wouldn't go on

Saturday, November 20, 2021

My Play

I love it so much
and I can't have it
anymore or ever
again oh do my play
delicious nutritious
what more can I ask

to share the pleasure
with the world we act
our parts savor words
suit action to desire
honorably present
the best we can do

past tense not more
relaxing after all
only tells the tale
as if it happened
as we say it did
lie only for truth

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Sudden Plunge

4:15 and it's getting dark
sudden plunge into another
time shouldn't matter so much
changes occur dharma is real
clocks are all machine part
human we have to deal with it

dive deep the water's warm
pure buoyance neutral gravity
electric balance restored in
fresh dimension surfacing
breathing still as if in new
air colder darker full of fear

held temporarily at bay our
circumstances easy seeming
safe for another season well
dressed and insulated against
the common effects praise
what brought us to this place

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Like a Child

just be glad we did it
while we could no more
be young first noticing
learning the repertoire

no more new places
people revealing secrets
we are glad to know
believe will never end

read and remember how
I too arrived amazed
thinking only I was new
and strange to the others

I tuck her in and kiss her
chastely like a  child
well loved and honored
in her private inccocence

Thursday, November 04, 2021

The Nothing

forgetting the dream
leaves a hole in the day
nothing fills distracted
I can hardly read write
instead the nothing no
tiny corner to catch
peel it back revealed
then I would be free
to hear this music
as if for the first time

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

All One

    If I want to feel like I am flying, all I have to do is stretch out my arms like wings.

    If I want to write, all I have to do is open the file. Content already exists or arises spontaneously. Chaos is the beginning of order. Language wants to communicate. Words naturally assemble into thoughts. If I want to be happy, all I have to do is think I am. As I lay out the cards in solitaire I feel a smile emerging, tangibly moving from the back toward the front, coming into focus as I silently watch. I only have to open the door and I can go in. The forest awaits my walk in it.

    The eager sincerity of the young deliveryman arouses my heart like the boy in the novel who barely dares to love. My feelings awake unbearably intense the writing is so good, the writer so purely open. All I have to do is let truth pour out before my time is up. There is no time here in the realm of the muses. Time is only the structure we live in.

     Here now I am, to live, play, love, work. All one.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

In This Life

they have given up trying
to make it out
in middle age
I have just started in old
I say because
it sounds good
truly alwats was but poorly
missing moments
fooled by foolish
imitations of being normal
my parents' lives
a flawed model
wounded betrayed superficial
I'm no different
but still trying
to make it out in this life

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Can I?

unnameable emotions
elusive inspiration faint
glimpses of possible
strategy can I make
something I enjoy
effectively share dig
deeper and find gold

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fast Enough

(for Philip Guston)

like paint the words
fill in the background
figures emerge cloaked
in personhood smoking
to stay awake hatching
patterns on the zeitgeist

go figure how transform
before the heavenly music
ends without resolving
questions of medium rare
insights into how it works
if you imagine fast enough

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Who Be

I am the one who reads all
words music plays anything
with a keyboard now I can't
once faithful eyes decline to
resolve accidentals Bach
stumbles NYRB at breakfast
needs a glass and even then
if I can't read what will I do
how think who be anymore

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Who It Is

the thing about love is
it doesn't really matter
who it is you're making
it together beyond both

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Ever Present

dreams disappear before I can remember
where I was what doing no getting back
it's like life though I know the landmarks
and can reconstruct the granular facticity
living it again feeling it again ever present
over done still needing to be clearly seen

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


     It's impossible to think about anything today but the US defeat in Afghanistan, which after 20 miserable years and $2 trillion only took a few days. Intelligence saw it coming but leadership didn't listen, didn't get organized in spite of thousands of professionals paid for exactly this. The vaunted and costly American military proved totally incompetent. We are unable even to make an orderly exit as the Taliban resume control.
      It makes one notice and question the smug subconscious assumption that someone is in charge and in control, that someone knows what's going on, as the plane has a pilot, the orchestra a conductor who knows the score. Despite fire, ice storm, pandemic, and personal shrinkage, we maintain our apparent stability, thinking order is the norm. How else go on? We are not in Afghanistan, which is a special case, as are we in our woebegone disarray, in which I somehow floated into a privileged niche—privileged from birth assumed I'd always be and made it happen. The culture collapsed into screen-gazing. My dual metiers, newspapers and theatre, are both effectively gone, books not far behind. What elite do I represent? Or misrepresent? A tiny percentage of so many people is still a world: mine, which has nothing to do with farming and small-town virtue. What am I doing here? Well, that's the way it fell out, and it works. I'm free.
       So awful as it is, let it keep going. Let us not be fleeing for our lives, or told how to live. Let us be ourselves as naturally and purely as we can, and kind to one another. Let us hope our leaders will be more realitic and not let it all come crashing down.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Familiar Pleasure

laying out the cards
at the end of a solitary evening
I felt the familiar pleasure
thought relax be happy
and that was all it took

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Dead Again

 dead friends visit me in dreams
and leave me doubly sad
dead again

even in life I wanted more than I
could take even offered
I declined

writing it down won't help much
but it's the only thing
I can do

I still desire their entire attention
no longer theirs to give
mine to lose

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

What Else

 what else might there be
after everything is done
except tiresome chores
smile for the camera or
look serious and serene
this is the face I put on
without real intention
masking a self within
aching for recognition

Monday, June 14, 2021

Still Water

hiss of rain falling on still water
remembered from boyhood on the lake
in Minnesota everything has changed
all are gone the sound remains

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Old Clothes

feeling my age I dissolve
into furniture air
blows through me freely
only my heart beats

sitting up to write down
words imagined flat
I regret nothing recorded
against the future present

I won't be there to see it
barely now resolve
detail mix up numbers
for two-step verification

take my word for being me
between raindrops
changing the same old clothes
for another opening

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Personal Calm

 too many people after one or none
each manifesting rampant person
too loud or deliberately hushed I
can't take it all in don't want to
keep up or compete to impose
my own taste for coming forward
on the stage and personal calm
until I lose myself in Suzan-Lori
Parks' rich brew of civil sympathy
everybody acting better than real

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Equal Sitting

 the suffocating materiality of the present
emerges from among words about music
as if harmonies could replace philosophy
reading equal sitting at an actual concert

would I bother to go if I could I doubt it
although glad I did while I still wanted to
my appetite for new experience has waned
the moment expanding into immateriality

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Getting On

I gotta get outta here he thought
knowing he would never move again
meaning the bed he was napping in
leaping up with a sudden rush getting
on with it

Monday, April 19, 2021

Eating Time

 strange moments of intense consciousness
per Tom maybe break through automatic
reading write them down before they fade
back into spring trees wakening morning's
fog invisibly growing greener by the day

don't let the impulse get away act on it now
then something else will have to happen as
breakfast time relentlessly approaches all
bananas ripening yogurt mysteriously fluid
solidity suspended by its ears faint humming

that's the world going by furious with itself
malign with excess energy eating time and
silence if I hate reality what else is there to
love and rely on what beauty beyond cliché
forcing itself to exist and be acknowledged

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Real Birds

they didn't notice the nuns
but the party on top of the
747 made them worry

the nuns came in right
crossed and went out the
door just as she came in

two real birds studied
the stuffed caged bird
without tearing it apart

wind was not a factor
though they were flying
550 miles an hour

that's how I knew it not
a real play or party birds
only dream of singing

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

More Me

still more me than old
I wonder objectively
what feeling good means
at eighty-five is this it
this vague malaise
is anything wrong I need
to do something about
or is this old well-being

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Piano

not just a director
like Elia Kazan
wrote books too

not just a writer
like Virginia Woolf
published books

not just a word man
like so many
played the piano

not just an artist
like Frank O'Hara
a lover of life

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Too Fast

we learn how to live with it
fire up the generator
profligate with ancient gas
warm enough in layers
I even work recollecting
how I lived in another time
doing too much too fast
and lived to tell all

Monday, February 15, 2021

Bright Wounds

in the afternoon low sun under clouds
glittered on the icy trees
freezing rain
in the night broke them
major branches down tops snapped off
leaving bright wood wounds
trunks bent to the ground
century-old oaks uprooted
the power is out
well pump phones internet down
we are helpless in the dark
cleanup not yet even begun

Friday, February 12, 2021

My Day

is life boring
or am I boring
or am I fine
not bored at all
barely time

cheerio say I
to the chickens
or ciaou ta ta
thanks for eggs
thus my day

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Private Museum

 random content from the New
York titled publications meets
one's personal historic images
every day as a private museum
aging furniture threadbare rugs
creeping stasis weaved illusions
disenabling forward movement

every element demands renewal
choice thinking witty exchange

Friday, February 05, 2021

Worth Remembering

 one day when I was there
who came in but you
do we know each other
from somewhere less wet

how rude to have forgotten
if there is anything worth
remembering is there
do you remember me

not that sensitive we
won't breach the compact
sharing never judging
dry off and go away

Monday, February 01, 2021

After Lunch

would I be saying staying
mum what can't be words
not worthwhile thinking

I sense there might be
more squeeze day play
solitaire but not too soon

everything gets done I
nap after lunch work
easy in the afternoon

what I wanted to say
emerges whether I will
or tease the opposite

Friday, January 22, 2021

Letting Go

 are actors entertainers are
opera singers are writers
yes we all want to give you
a good time and something
else you don't always get
in ordinary everyday life

simple words for a simple
idea letting go of all that
seriousness naturally play
with thought and meaning
have some chocolate turn
on if you like to have fun

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Lived Reality

 do you mean what I think you mean
probably not no one does never did
amount to craved recognition which
won't mean what I hope for anyway

that's the reality behind lived reality
assumed significance misperceived
poorly revealed despite every effort
to be transparent about inner riches

where the scholarship interpretation
attention to intention faintly realized
expense in plywood distracted actors
doing all they can with my material

what I imagined hides its little candle
under false modesty denied ambition
shorted out by comforting habits late
recognition squandered opportunity

this is unworthy poor me when I'm
fine thank you this is what I wanted
all along amused by doing art ecstatic
in realized moments of perfect being

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Changing Light

 suddenly a few days I feel newly
distant from my younger self if
that's the word can't even imagine
being that person I remember being
poets in a book are living my life
the way I did at the time with a new
baby writing at night before making
love or earlier or later redefined

if I hadn't written it down would it
exist as it does less on paper than in
mind pictures colors changing light
this is who I was all along or trying
to be me in this body and weather
hearing the toilet flush in the other
room heralding another day much
like the others that have gone before

Monday, January 04, 2021

As If

 it is as if we were here when we were
imagining thought even the timely body
scratching squirming stretching awake
as if never before and always once again

it is as if one plus one were still one now
and always will be even eventually gone
as if you've grown part of who I really am
no need to repeat remember it's all inside

it is as if we knew all along and couldn't
quite say but lived it putting away dishes
making the bed taking care of the physical
as if that was all we could do and enough

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Last Word

narrow is deep wide inclusive
one thing reveals the rest and
everything must be mentioned
where to start makes you think
how many days hours instants
give the lie as all of it merges
unity in complexity vice versa
long run big picture last word

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Ideas of Self

 when you're alone do you
exist how
would I know you tell me

the other not needed helps
it matter
whether or not you think

we're all busy with other
ideas of self interacting

so masturbate or don't
no one cares
if you're not really there

you may find what you
missed again
when you forgot to come
or didn't
remember who you are