theory on the duality of nature: first draft

snow on the
first day of spring
and the names of the missing
placed gently in the gutters
and the dead-end alleys

white crosses painted
on telephone poles

and i've been told that
all of our pain should be

i've been told that god
should not be blamed for any of
the killing done in his name

and let's say it's wednesday
and the sitter is sick
and so i stay home to play
with my son

let's say that pollock has
discovered america
and lost himself in the process

and there is the argument that art
is the failure to live
of course
and there are those who deny it

there are those who feel that
silence is the safest answer
to any question and i
number myself among them

i believe in both
the open hand and the
clenched fist

neither has any value
without the other

house of truths, room of mirrors

the afternoon in shades of blue and grey
and then the fact that beauty
cannot be defined without
some amount of pain

the taste of this woman's voice when she
tells me that her child will never walk

the broken glass alleys
and the dead-end streets and
the highways that don't take us anywhere

and what i never realize until after it
melts away is how addicted i am to anger

what i don't like to admit is how useless it is

these poems that are all like
frightened men jumping from the 98th floor

these days that i spend with
my wife and children

a certain amount of security
and then the fear that comes with it

the way every shadow is
at some point
swallowed by a larger shadow

the way that every house burns
in its own small way

and do you believe that
each act of violence has the potential
to change your life forever?

do you still find yourself
filled with hatred
despite all of the atrocities you've seen?

don't tell me it doesn't feel good

tanguy in the here and now

the house cold on sunday morning
and this man in the street on fire

these nuns with shovels
but not in their hands

harshly into the soil and then
severing their feet from their legs

severing their prayers from their tongues
and the sky above them empty

the truth ugly beyond words
and the sun where i live
nothing like the one from my childhood

nothing like my father as
he fell to the floor

the windows filmed with frost and
this woman lying on her front lawn

standing over the bodies of her children

two of them dead and
the baby bleeding from its head and
when you want to talk about justice
i point out that andrea yates
is still alive

i place coins
over your sister's eyes and
one in her mouth
and she is only sleeping

she is only dreaming she is in love

the doors are all locked but
we are always on opposite sides

let us believe in what we can see

or this new math where
six people are found shot to death
in two different houses but
only one of them pulled a trigger

or my children
playing in a sunfilled yard

green lawn stretched out to
where the pavement ends

white clouds in a blue sky

the absolute beauty of these
passing days when all you are
is afraid for the people you love

anonymous man decapitated by train

someone finds the body
of course
and the empty trees hold the
sky away

the sound isn't silence
but a mixture of noises that
refuse to register

wind around empty buildings
or occasional cars on
wet pavement

the rattle of leaves
caught in weeds

all of the ways space
can be
described without emotion

the words are poison, the days without end

and there is nothing here i
would call beautiful and i have
given up trying to tell you i love you

do you see?

the streets never really went anywhere
and the people who escaped
i consider dead

the reasons we had for
being together have all vanished

what remains are the houses
the apartments
the rusting fences that keep nothing out

spaces waiting to be filled

children on fire in abandoned factories

and i made a mistake at some point and
began taking it all for granted

i kissed you in a
second story window while your
husband waited at home

called you two days later and
you told me it was over and my hands
were heavy with the weight of
all my failures

the sky was faded yellow
over grey hills

was dirty white above the powerlines
and all i wanted was to see my sons

all i wanted were enough words to
fill all the silences i'd made

it seemed like too much to ask

History Lesson

But we are not friends, we are dogs.
We are caught outside in the rain, and
the house is on fire. The trees are
diseased. Move far enough away from
the pain, and everything becomes

artaud's lullaby

or my gift to you
which is desperation

my ideas about beauty
which are as meaningless
as anyone else's

or this

the futility of writing the poem
the futility of reading it

the fact that you have
no other choices

or consider
cobain's solution

consider pol pot's

all of those rooms
packed full
of human skulls

all of the hours i will
spend protecting
my children from killers
and from zealots and
from politicians

the way i will end up
becoming everything i
hate the most


said you weren't afraid but
you were only 22

it was only four years before
you'd lose the baby

so much blood on the
bathroom floor and when you called
i was somewhere else
and was the way the story
always ended?

the two of us almost
or the two of us not quite

the deer out of nowhere and
into the headlights

not even time to scream
but it was all we ever knew