Came a man whose business
is Swiss cows. Came clouds
of gunpowder to interrupt

my work, even though I’ve learned
the box needs no sun
to function. I built a third

one. And in cardboard
hemmed my lens a new aperture,
but know not the right ratio,

nor what will come of this gas
I pipe into the device, if any will
burn an image in stone. I send

you your bellows in a pine box
Baptiste made, its empty space
packed by my wife with bruised pears.




From The Room In Which I Work (Omnidawn 2017)



On occasion my distant windows
align, and through them appears
a terminus—not my end, but a point

at which there is no vanishing,
no further guessing of things and things
to come. Inside that view last night

I crawled over the first sill like a draft,
and entered a small room where I found
letters addressed to three disguises of you,

and realized that beyond each pane
there would be more names, more masks,
more corners sprinkled with the numbers

of bigger and bigger years. In some rooms
we had become fodder for gossip. In others,
not even a guest-book betrayed our presence,

if we had stood alone, or stood elsewhere
as bright day flattened into gray afternoon.
As I went further I started forgetting

to close the windows behind me, and some
of the people I had met crossed over,
following in my wake like slow hurdlers,

wandering through rooms with books
and inhabitants they wished they’d known,
or could take. The end lay three windows away,

and men were preparing its set, stringing up
curtains, handing out paint, calling down
from ladders a name I heard as the same

as yours at the party, where you shook
my certainty with a touch on the shoulder,
and turned me toward another introduction.




Originally published in LIT magazine



I was in my own troubled custody,
like a boy whose posture has been altered
by a harp. In aluminum noon

I was particulate and nothing
hung in the hooked shadows of streetlamps.
My wrong guess as to what

version of my mind would come next
could not be corrected, for once the chance
to guess was gone, I was in love

with new chance, the new greed
my eyes acquired after I saw the panorama edges
cloistered inside my hood. 

I had been in the middle of a triptych,
where trees were maimed by inelegant pruning,
and the least accomplished bodies

searched in vain for prosthetic selves.
As the panels unfolded with imprecision I saw
shins and sour cherries, trees reaching

through a shock of nightjars.  I had been
the harp-case, then the harp, then cat-gut strings.
I was still in my possession, and still am.

Where I say imprecision I mean
my version of the action was insufficient;
there were lemons and night herons

beyond the cherries and nightjars.
Where I say triptych I mean I didn’t know
I would still be counting.




Originally published in CROWD magazine






By speaking physics we are speaking
focus: the mind a sleuth for universe

glue. From what wonder
have we been put together

is one way we sit beneath these trees,
tall tall tulips too straight to blame

for our history, which, for once,
we twist like a bread-tie.

So share the same shade.
Paltry proof the invisible sticks.

But we’ll take paltry, a proof
on spec, for we've suspected

super strings, the standard model,
typos in the cosmos, laboratory avenues

where experiments exhaust their logic
and force faith to man the movie

projector. That tractor won’t take out
all that vetch. That gimp goose

will keep up despite its clop.
This heat won’t last: clouds already

edit the sun, the wind begets a chill
that day-tripped to the mountains

and we have a Hudson to cross.
Rivers make imperfect mirrors,

perfect for us to practice on.
Scientist of pastel and type, our particles

collide out on the continent, dry heat
enveloped East, humid emerald sent West,

a model that, no matter the future
of matter, we stamp in real time.

Originally published in Gulf Coast magazine




Pan for gold with a butterfly net
we reckon the mineral
                                                not the means
not how we made
the stream in under an hour           
            all swift hoof

and haversack
despite the lack of a horse
                                    to do this human dragging

We lost the little ones
to kiss in the lindens
            leaves like a curtain

they drew around them
but they catch up wiser
                                                as children do

In the stream           
trout flash the surface like currency
            like Renaissance metal

or like trout
which is to say let them be
                                    wet and reflect the sun’s spectrum

from that dominion
of flint and flies and reeds
            Philosophy is not

why we came
nor to give the nets
                                    another purpose

than stems for our pleasure
but later when the town
            wants the nugget not the telling
we know that
gold is sold once
                                    while our word has no price

published in Black Anecdote, a Poetry Society of America chapbook




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