january - april 2014

Jamaal May: “Language will fail us every time.”

In poetry, more than one thing can be true at a time. Think of a poem as a small machine you can build to get closer to someone. You can’t feel someone else’s pain, but you can approximate the reach.

Ecstasy can lead to ruin. Will. 

The past is not past. The dead are not dead. Everything we imagine and dream, it’s all real. Imagination, speculation, dream. 

“Absence is the highest form of presence.” (Joyce?)

PROMPT: A series of footnotes to a text that does not exist. 

PROMPT: No one in the house sleeps at night.

Donald Hall: “A poem is a monument to its moment”

Transtromer: “I don’t think these poems are costing you enough.”

Sending messages out into the void and expecting a response. How the internet is a perfect metaphor for my lost mother. (For all our mothers?)


What is a childhood? 

I went away and then returned
but you never went back 
ghosts there too hungry 
Memory makes its pirate ships 
from railroad ties and black rubber,
a wooden ladder reaching up–
climb as high as you can go
your heart in your thin chest
A twelve-year-old boy 
leads his friends to a highway overpass 
and while they are watching, jostling, 
and laughing, he takes a gun 
from his backpack 
and shoots himself
People on the television say 
There’s a lesson to be learned 
from this tragedy
as the highway traffic rushes on
beneath them


At night, my son enumerates his grievances:

  1. It is noisy and I cannot sleep.

  2. There is something uncomfortable in my bed.

  3. My leg hurts. 

We let him climb into bed with us. Just this once. 

Outside, two men are arguing. There is construction on the bridge. 

My friend is in love with a married man and when they speak on the phone, she tells him: “Take me somewhere you have never been and promise me you will not go back there without me.” The city desire makes.

The distance is the distance: Don’t say you have not wished for this. Don’t say you do not wish it.