a synonym for living

From an Atlas of the Difficult World


I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains’ enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

–Adrienne Rich, from An Atlas of the Difficult World


my friend cass mccombs has a new album – MANGY LOVE – coming out tomorrow : here. the new york times calls him beckett as a cranky singer-songwriter which is silly / endearing / accurate. cass has many more articulations of creative light than the world has seen yet. i’ll stay mum for now, but hope soon i can tell you about some more mediums his work will appear in. in the meantime, enjoy the album.

the poet max ritvo has passed after a long struggle with cancer. he was 26, and used his time brilliantly. i recommend taking some time to yourself with the body of work he’s left.



there is no glossary not for this

bluedrape.georgeshaw——by the artist george shaw

 2 poems from my forthcoming book MEET ME HERE AT DAWN in Public Pool 

geologicatlasofthemoon1965– from a geological atlas of the moon, 1965


every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life

shotRemember_Fitzcarraldo10 jpg

& if


1 self-portrait, 1 moving gift, 1 song





je sais que tu ne repondras pas


in his blurb for my forthcoming book, Meet Me Here At Dawn, Terrance Hayes relates my work to this Edward Hopper painting, “Excursion Into Philosophy.” Stay tuned.

as i remember it / all this is true 




it happened just like that / i’ve realized my place / i’m feeling kind of slow or so i guess / it’s written on my face / they say / these days / i’m listenin’ to the songs / that tear me all apart / i’m sleeping in my clothes next to the books / that take care of my heart / my aching heart / but if i settle down / no it won’t be with the blues

it turns out that there are coupons online, for your medicine. it turns out that if you want, you can head to the mid-west at the end of may. you don’t need a trashcan. you don’t need a teapot. you can buy one fork, one knife, one lamp. you don’t need a bookshelf when there are cinder blocks and planks. you can take everything apart, put everything in boxes. keep the photocopies. chuck the shoes. sit in a tiny theatre beneath a building with red velvet curtains, pink velvet curtains, watch in the half-dark two men playing blackjack, two women dancing, one man sweeping the floor. it turns out that you can decide whether or not to let the cat sit in the window and torture the doves in the eaves. it turns out that you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. it turns out the work is more difficult than you thought. it turns out that you win nothing, that you spend less. it turns out there are orange peels everywhere — next to your bed, in the car, withering beside the bowl of lipsticks and a dead hyacinth. it is april, and it turns out that everything is going to be okay.


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