spirit of the matter-of-fact

the spirit of the matter-of-fact speaks, and
the stray dogs of my poem

wither off into unkempt song     not dressed
for the occasion, we are

called out for being rain, flower, sunknown
seed     the song is tired

it will be forever before the spirit of the
matter-of-fact decides

we are called out for being snake, wood,
snowbound need     the

song is tired     it will be forever before
the spirit of the matter-

of-fact abides, and it will not rain till
time dries out & slithers

I greet my deed

“Happily may fair yellow corn, fair blue corn, fair corn of all kinds, plants of all kinds, jewels of all kinds, to the ends of the earth, come with you
With these before you, happily may they come with you
With these behind, below, above, around you, happily may they come with you
Thus you accomplish your tasks”

American Indian Poetry – an anthology of songs and chants, lines from Night Song.

With my error as guide, I
sieve through plants of all kinds, with

error as my guide, I roast
all kindling as my own – to

the ends of the earth, I toast
my happy loaves – thus I meet

my deed on my way, with error
burning on my eves, I greet my

deed behind, below, around me –
thus I accomplish my tasks

are you nourished by the sea of
the child who plays in the dark &
is your belly full?

is your rope too taut for magic
and if it is, where is the wand
to dry each bone?

do you flip each eerie stone &
when you do, does your heart skip
along tiny wishsteps?

the cornstalk grew corntales
some were ripe and some were

just thorns      so many thorns
there was no forgiveness

so many thorns, one could only
try and grow more corn      and

this time, some were tall and
some were beginning to sound

repetitious      so the corntales
grew up all handsome and pretty

and did not speak for a very
long time      till one spoke –

the ten thousand things

Resistance, the flowering fire of memory – Rukeyser, Muriel

As we mark the thinness of the
ten thousand things, as we go

past the halt, the hark of memory,
can we shirk off the rock of

my mountain’s mountain? as we
claim the fire of childspeak,

childstone, where will the song
of my deadwood ash its spike,

its noose? to resist is to burn
with remembrance, with the thing-

ness of the ten thousand things


“Day won’t dawn again in a thousand years,
and what can all our wisdom do about it?

… Trust yourself
to the mountainside. It will take you in.”

– T’ao Ch’ien

we have approximations, data
data that

caresses the hounds of certain
ties that

toss about in search of small
fires – we

have approximations that lie
in order to

sound more like real lies      we
have data

where is my deep?

“a tethered bird longs for its forest, a pond fish for its deep waters”
– T’ao Ch’ien

no insight, and science remains a conspiracy
of facts     chuangtzu’s

monkeys scramble with feynman’s possibilities
till the broth rings

true     rumi underwrites his love of love
with a misanthropic

eye     do the monkeys scramble to sing a
better broth or do

they slip into hanumanhood?     this broth is
my deep my voice

we stood by

we stood by watched petals
fall the roads stood quiet the medallions

glimmered we stood by talk
ed the
     etched ballads fell like toadstools
     elms balked at
     songbirds mocking the sun for rising late
     songbirds mocking the elk for balking late

we stood by etching ballads
     the medallions glimmering as the road meandered into walkways
     joined with the voice of the gull mocking the songbird we
     stood by etching
     moonrock from castoff dream
     we stood by

humming distant song

so you respond

I shamed my soul, lost heaven’s place,
when I fawned upon the oppressor’s flabby hand.

– Lance Jeffers (from his poem, “And God got down before the fool”)

so you respond
as the poet has to, as the poem
can (should?)      so you despond

as the times
will have you, as this cess is
wont to      so you sit, quiet

arm in bloodied
ink, eye in sullen slight      fire
brewing on the potted page –

an eye sees what the pen holds out as premise
     the field of X      an algebra of

an eye begins what the pen hollows out as seed
     tyranny of X      an unknown of
     fsetting the known

an eye opens what the pen stamps out as possible
     imaginary X      an amalgam of
     steel & need