did you see them running, running,
did you see? did you see them
black with blood, did you
see anyone stop to help, did you see them
motionless in roadways, screaming on sidewalks,
did you see them, mouths open and teeth chipped to pieces,
did you see those who did this,
did you see their shiny clubs, their
bright and favored flags,
did you see the smirks they let slip,
did you see?
did you see?
Flesh has its rhythm
in constant self-repair;
the rest from labor enables greater labor,
and muscle builds stronger when strained, so
why must we pretend
to be as steel; unwavering, unfeeling,
ignoring the needs of flesh
to slumber –
in favor of steel-bound schedule,
approaching our ultimate tensile point,
waiting to twist, to groan and
cast away the mimicry,
do not conform with an inhumane system –
resume the dance of exhaustion and repair,
do not live as steel.
Lilacs, lilies, roses, still –
marigolds and dandelions and
small seeds, small heads
rising from the fetal position;
pale limbs poking through, hands poised
to claw the surface;
what are these things,
what purpose did they have, what
mastery did we seek over them by
lash and flick of tongue,
what did we drive them towards
when we murmured their names,
their names, lost now in winter –
are they found in these sturdy limbs?
Are there names to view, names to eat?
syllables quivering in the wind, and
names that bring in butterflies?
some children don’t grow up, they only grow older,
and older, and perceive themselves as wiser,
without shedding their childish thoughts,
without putting away their childish things,
they look at others
and believe they know how these others think of them,
and think of the world,
without asking – or without asking correctly, these
children draw their conclusions, their inflexible philosophies,
ink spilled upon pages in places where
the moon dwells close to Manhattan;
they think themselves special from their peers –
they think themselves powerful when others are polite,
offering glad words at their scribbles, “ah,
beautiful work, a beautiful piece, we’ll go
hang this on the fridge” and
some children don’t grow up,
they may have mortgages and may
collect dividends, they may give orders and may
be called sir, but they are still just children,
clumsily stuffing their fingers toward light sockets,
being shooed or corralled at the last moment
and, beaming, effervescent,
celebrate their triumphs.
the buck is not a gentleman,
when he pauses by the thicket’s edge and
spots the orange-clad foe at dawn,
he stops, and waits,
for doe and fawn
to blunder forward,
to chance the shot
and plunder lead meant for him.
the buck is not a gentleman
but he lives another day.
oh, new rung of ripple,
formed full, radiant,
spreading, long then thin ,
oh, how you resemble the impact,
and break apart reflections, how
you’ve built circles within,
circles without, how
imperfect an echo you are, my new
rung of ripple,
and how we are children,
all laugh and cheer
at this new start,
how you make us all feel like
we, too, are just a new
rung of ripple.
Eight hundred years since last these two
bright sparks coalesced as one;
and time beats on, beats on,
shaping and quenching and throwing off sparks and steam and
eight hundred years more will pass,
with more smoke, more flame, more
sparks in the sky,
and in eight hundred years the peoples,
soot-scarred and weary,
will look up at the sky, just like tonight,
just like me,
and curse these black clouds.
We look up at the stars and thank, thank the
cool night and the mucky earth and
the buzz of mosquitos,
bzz bzz bzz and the quick slap, the
dab of blood, and we thank the
and we thank the slap, too.
We look up at the stars and think how wondrous it is
to live in a world with so many poisons,
slick and warm in the gullet or
fast and lethal in the blood,
how wondrous it is to
leave new red pinpricks on our arms,
how happy and whole we feel,
and how beautiful it is, the two of us,
sinking deeper and deeper into the muck,
with our fingertips up,
brushing away the heavens.
plates on plates stacked
teeming with masses,
who guess that the rung above
knows; each rung, knowing only
that they themselves can only guess.
Surely someone knows,
surely someone is keeping the plates
surely this is not the mere
slow flying apart of a system,
or so we are led to guess.
Man is a time-wasting animal;
man is unique, man is
idle in life, careless with food,
dawdling, open-mouthed, at the
top of the peaks,
the top of chains.
Man is a time-wasting animal,
the only animal that believes
time can be wasted at all.