Definition Poem


It’s the looming horror
of looming horror. It’s

not seeing the ice for
the freeze. It’s seeing

the jumble or not that
defines a thought
outside the distracted

noise and noisome
breeze. It’s the faint

glow below an eclipse.
What am I? It’s not

a riddle that got an
answer. It’s not an
answer, it’s a thought.

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The wind that shatters
the fountain’s plume
into mist reminds

preening ducks of
winter’s coming;
reminds me to forget

the missteps;
the blood;
the summer.

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A Buddhist Precept

Yes, the jury’s still

out … because
there’s a jury
and a judge. But

the search ends for
the order unseen
when we call out,

Olly, olly,
oxen free!

The truth
stops hiding
and runs
for base
when you
hang the jury;

hang the judge,
calling, Ollie,
ollie, oxen free!

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The Cat Got His Bomb On

Those mice will stop

their playing now that
the cat’s got his bombing
on. I swear the grainy
footage from this war

is better than the grainy
pictures from the last.
While the cat’s away

and all … It’s a story
we tell ourselves, but
now the cat’s got his
bomb on. It’s a story
we can hum to. It’s only

who’s the cat and
who’s the players
that’s in the news.

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The Little Picture

We’ve already skipped

the first step, wherever
we start. Besides, the

spoon never tastes the
soup anyway. Sure,

there’s meaning in a
jet way up, but down
in the ditch the air

is sliced other ways.
The ones today

who kill or love
are history already
from the air, from

the future. Yes,
life’s unreason

-ing and -able. Ir-
rational even, in
the ditches. It’s

because always
already we’ve

skipped the…

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Four Bits from the Drunk Vet at the Bar

Four Bits from the Drunk Vet at the Bar


–I’m done with war,
that’s my point.


You ain’t better than
the guy you’re killin’.


Five tours,
not hit once.
What is that?


If I’d followed you guys,
been middle class,
I would’ve stayed home.

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Each Fine Morning

Always the world
is going to hell;

most of the time,
it’s already there.

It’s up to where
you’re standing.

Cataclysms coming,
cataclysms gone,

the scars on
mind and skin,

yet hardly a dint
in the air on each

fine morning. It’s
parable, the sun-

rise. It’s inevit-
able. It’s arriving.

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The Soul Goes for Cigarettes

The Soul Goes for Cigarettes

The soul leaves you
more often than death—
several times more often

it leaves you alone—
leaves out of boredom,
leaves out of tedium too,

out of blaring busyness.
It says, “see ya,” and
it does—looks you in

the eye and checks out,
leaving thoughtless,
thoughtless you to ponder

why you’re asleep, why
so tedious to beauty. And
every day you’re lovers

you know there comes
the time you’ll hear, “I’m

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The Realm of Hungry Ghosts

The Realm of Hungry Ghosts

(Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014)

The measured response of empire
is death—war against war;
attack against attack; violence
to violence. Murder. Revenge.
Death. The measured response of

empire is insanity. The peace of
empire is reloading the gun. It
is the realm of hungry ghosts,
shiny new helmets in the void.

In this other land, it’s borders
beaten back in endless war,
here everyone is learning…

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Pick Up the Phone

Stories start with darkness.
Then something moves.

Sometimes it’s sex,
sometimes breath.

Sometimes with clay.
Sometimes rocks.

Often it’s a god.
Voila! There’s us!

Then we are naughty
and things become as

they are, which is kind
of good with bad shot

through, all in a clump
like strands of cotton candy.

Which brings me to today
when I’ve bought the wrong

thing for a birthday. And
not bought a bus ticket.

And forgot who knows what
else. Where are the gods

like that? Stressed, muddled,
plugging away at a switch

board like in old movies? Hello?
Hello? It’s dark. There’s a noise.

But isn’t that another movie?
Some other story altogether?

No one. No story.
Nothing’s there.