I looked up from the cave floor to see a guy pointing a handgun at us.
I had never thought of bed before as anything but an innocent place.
Emil was busy applying his anger therapy, and it was working.
I became a realist the moment they tied a brick to my balls.
Was he a good man or a bad man? Was it necessary, even, to speculate?
I know about sex. It’s not a cardinal flying into the wrong window.
I ought to haul out this junk I called winter and lose it somewhere.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very Heaven!
My love swims you, your shoulders like hard sails under the green curls.
A branch breaks and the body lands the wrong way. Snapping is easy.
We enjoyed the infidelity. A great deal more than they seemed to.
American poetry is afflicted by modesty of ambition.
Let us stifle under mud and affirm it is fitting and delicious to lose everything.
Once she said, “Dying is nothing, but . . . the separation!”
The sloshed grownups had little to say to me. I loved it that I was alien.
I didn’t know I would be any good. But I knew I wanted to be a poet.
Poets need to be
in constant touch with the extremes of feeling.
I don’t know if I’ve written anything without changing the details.
A woman’s long bare legs stretched up at the edge of the graveyard.
Like an idiot, I was flattered at first to get honorary degrees.
The Poet Laureate reads three poems in his New Hampshire home.
For Henry Moore there is not only the best day but the worst.
All day we lay on the bed, my hand stroking the deep gold of your thighs.
At nineteen you were six-foot-two. At ninety-one you will be two-foot-six.
I dream of watching my grandfather stagger home through the snow.
Near to closing, he’d flop down in the chair to count his moldy money.
Of the sixteen elephants, one—a lady—completely took my heart.
As soon as I heard his voice, I felt as if a wind had swept through my head.
Those under us are not dead. They are dancers. We are the music.
In hushed awe they talk of things to come, a golden time of flowering.
Son, do you know of shame? Then you must know that I cannot feel it.
I was getting a little fogged, but I recognized irony when I heard it.
Sister Barbara folded her arms like a forbearing husband.
She confessed to Judd that she saw other men. She liked a good time.
He could not help but take her as his wife. She was a scandal.
The Kid came back from the post trader’s store with a six-shooter.
The body passing through its own fires, the hard escape of it all.
“One of the most objectionable books in any language whatsoever.”
A grin of bitterness swept thereby like an ominous bird a-wing.
When the light failed she listed all the places he might find her.
Even as a child, I was skeptical—testing God when He wasn’t looking.
My mother stands at the doorway, her broad face turned to the earth.
They’re still there since they never grew old. The story is never finished.
Arriving on earth’s paradise, wearing only light for their bodies.
Women should hate it when people whistle at their backs as they walk past.
These natives have the smiles we haven’t seen since we were children.
…a classmate dropped dead, his heart was attacked at thirty-three.
The pen is mightier than the sword in the fretwork of a poet’s language.
All my life I have noted that my thinking was atavistic, totemic.
Life has never been in remission or rehabilitation. Life doesn’t sing.
Rumi advised me to keep my spirit up in the branches of a tree.
The urge to be a tiny bird upon a tiny limb, maybe a bridled titmouse.
I lost my medicine bag from back when I believed in magic.
I have been enshrouded for months by the weak winter sun.
I have studied and become intimate with the speed of darkness.
This so far is a haunting, the bleeding heart we used to hear about.
I was nineteen and mentally infirm when I saw the prophet Isaiah.
I am tamping down the earth with the flat side of a blade I am burying you
The pictures were taken in the woods, naked from the waist down.
Her trust in me is a swirled marble sinking slowly in an aqua pool.
She looked at him with sorrow, and surprise, despite all the news.
Neither blood nor belonging accounted for my presence in Ghana.
We are like a village here, separated from the rest of the world.
The child is too perfect to be human; too perfect, truthfully, to exist.
If it were me, kid, I’d swallow. You bet I would. But first I’d run like hell.
Welcome, the place seemed to say, let’s screw with you a little more.
You can’t ask her not to fall in love when she does it on a daily basis.
Not every fate was alike. Not everyone ended up paired off in love.
Art doesn’t conform to a capitalist’s ratio of productivity to time.
You’ve gathered more knowledge than you’d need for nine lives.
Olav H. Hauge
You’re supposed to hit is the bull’s-eye, that black spot, precise spot.
I commute to war five days a week in a station wagon the color of an egg.
You think I couldn’t write it because I look like a mechanic, I said.
Wicked fictions wrap a young tongue’s sweet-tipped fibs into fact.
Of late a graduate student named Cassius has joined our ranks.
“I have always had a gift of feeling what is in other people’s hearts.”
Everything hung in perfect balance. Light and dark, heaven and hell.
In the garden this morning, I thought for a moment I saw T’ao Ch’ien.
And both of them standing there in late afternoon light, looking back.
In the morning light, I could hear Bashō hard at work.
Blame the juncos outside. Sopranos in one tree, altos in another.
Subtract for the cigarettes, the bourbon, the sleepless nights.
Within two weeks, his parents found out and forbade him to belong.
Apparently this was something he had to tell her with his clothes on.
So, Ida, are you a Jew or a nudist? Do you believe in Hanukkah?
I am struck by the otherness of things rather than their sameness.
Flesh is temporary, memory a tilting barn dismantled nail by nail.
All those butterflies I impaled when I was a boy—will I go to hell for that?
I know quite well that I’m still a beginner and have a long way to go.
My friend Angela, who is also my roommate, got me into stripping.
Someone says Jesus is bread. He is also suffering. He is like the Internet.
There’s no studying for this. I think souls must exist in wanted things.
I would slip the hook under the sow’s chin, hold my breath, and pull.
Histories we spin from lust, our tongues heavy and soaked.
An idea surfacing—a crack of orange teeth. As if a ceiling disappears.
For one hundred years I followed old people to learn what I was in for.
Time is a hearse and horse, a carrot and stick, a window and widow.
In my head at least, you thrive, you die in this mix of ghost and gone.
I don’t know you, I only think of you to ignore how unhappy I am.
Poetry isn’t work, he said, unless you’re talking about reading it.
Sex is the closest we can come to touching where touch resides.
I wore the rose pants for weeks without telling anyone.
I am the king of doing wheelies on the Stingray bicycle of my mind.
The next time we made love, I looked for the fox looking down at me.
What if white men became supremely good at making up for our past?
I tried to cheer my brother up by reminding him all clowns die too.
I was a skinhead in look and seem, a balding guy trying out the future.
There was a dry snap inside the door of the safe. “There it is.”
The people with pebbles go home to frolic under the detritus of the day.
Paharganj reels with beggars. Old women, boys, breast-feeding girls.
Love isn’t the same as happiness. Some poet probably said that.
Don’t hitchhike the Mediterranean coast of Algeria in the summer of ’71.
When you write the story of being a father don’t leave out the joy.
Your friends are sniffing glue from a paper bag in the back of an Impala.
I feel delicious tody! I can claim the whole lawn with just one flamingo.
In the closet: a single hair draped from the one hanger left.
Our house sits alone out in the country, seven miles north of town.
That summer we moved to the house you would die in years later.
she had big eyes, the better to see right through a person.
She was no man’s dark dream, only a girl forced to swim half-clothed.
All afternoon it rains on the traffic outside my window. It’s nothing new.
We watched our father chuck her boom box out the bedroom window.
Anything can happen because everything happens in New York.
I will leave the pills in their bottles, I will leave the bottles by my bed.
I found a lodestone & I went to the creek & I buried it in the creek bed
Whales are very big (I saw one on a beach once) but trash is way bigger.
A homecoming, she says, as if you hadn’t been back in decades.
I found myself wondering what her life had been in her widowhood.
That is a building. That is a tree. That is a yellow car. That is a curb.
Everything changed. And to our greater shame, nothing did.
I could page the women’s voices in their velvet bags bound with string.
I tell him: junkies are the only people worth talking to about love.
A queen bobcat lives in the hollow base of a dead cypress.
Three fingers had been cut from her right hand, two from her left.
My husband screws around. Not much and not often, but I know.
If there was any magic in his sad life, it happened on that day.
When the coach called again, Wayne felt his temper slipping.
Trailblazers we celebrate. Those outcasts, outliers, and outlaws.
“With me for an uncle you don’t never need to be afraid of him, baby.”
Even if he lost her he would never disparage her, never not love her.
Now, with new orders to carry out, he’d been restored to factory settings.
Clark and Robertson got a reset, and Tuyen would get a baby. But Mikey?
L’chaim. To lives both bygone and ongoing, and to the truths I choose to believe.
He will be unable to resist his manias for symmetry and completion.
How does he do it? I’ve been trying to figure this out for the past decade.
That day he stood on some threshold and paused and wept at his choice.
It is not surprising that her solo marathon did not turn out as planned.
He’s clear about his wishes: to die in this house, in his own bed.
Tony’d had guns pulled on him more times than he had toes.
She weighed the cold shiny gun on her palm and let out a jagged breath.
If I had been blessed that afternoon, why did I lose my tongue?
I’m on the verge of a breakdown. So I might as well have another child.
What’s wrong with easy? I mean, who wants sex to be hard work?
The danger with a young contributor is that he may be his own rival.
I put out my lips, and we kissed through the newly painted fence.
They say the night watchman is so good he hears the grass growing.
You are afraid pain itself might develop a way to communicate.
Some portion of love is braided from lying, from the names of distance.
For all the stories they’d concocted, the real one electrified them.
Love enlarges. What you put out into the world, you get back tenfold.
I hear pleasure ringing, and I wonder what led us to this moment.
You didn’t speak, your eyes lobbed incendiary shells over the harbor.
There are the short and decisive words: yes, no, now, never, love, death, poetry.
Fumbling among the constellations, I believed my throat would burst.
This comb smells like tea gone cold, weighs less than a vein pumped full.
After four years of watching his body implode, we’re terrified.
We want to revisit what life was like before technology infected us.
It holds a place in my heart: Never forget the suspenders.
Frank kept his face blank as he read the orders: Report to Berlin.
The towns died as quickly as a single house, a house like ours, lit gold within.
Thus is the way of leaves the secret ones that no one sees, not even me
The hands opened calmly like seeds, endured the passage of time.
I saw my mother’s face turn dark like the winter sky before a storm.
Never mind the gossip of the world. Don’t have it, yet have it!
I lift my wine flask, drunk with rivers and hills.
I’m always driving through the desert, on the interstate’s black river.
I was called upon to set my will against my father, the village custom.
Thus John Redding grew to manhood, playing, studying and dreaming.
He greets you with a kiss and marries your elbow to walk the path.
People didn’t end marriages without warning, without second chances.