Image result for two maidens and a man in 19th century painting

Because I have seen so much

I find myself doubting it all, all, very much.

I do not hear two chiming sounds together

But I blame it on the obvious weather.

There is only one love, one.

This universe on my heavy heart weighs a ton.

When I put it all together, I found

Myself falling in love without a sound.

My poems don’t know it, so we

Are still thinking of you. But she

Is seducing my cloudy future

With a sweet face and languid looks.

You belong to my past—its books

Have words and pictures of you,

As if you were a writer, but you were

Not a writer. I didn’t know what you were.

My heartbreak—which writes poems fast

To you and only to you—is not aware of her,

This siren on the edge of my past.

Will someone write me a pretty good poem at last?

A big ocean she sings across.

I watch the small gray waves toss.

Is it possible she will overtake you?

What else is she going to do?



Image result for green abstract painting

This poem is not afraid of criticism.

This poem is criticism. There is bad

In the world and this has made me sad.

There is sadness we don’t see

But it leans into sweetness critically.

Happy must be built. Criticism is

Criticized. This is what criticism is.

Slowly, sweetness drips down.

The sad, if sweet, will never frown.

I don’t hate criticism. I embrace

Criticism; every time I kiss your face,

It was because not kissing your face

Was bad; then a kiss not enough, I embrace

You, and kiss parts which are not your face.

Kiss me. Don’t ignore me; criticize

Everything. And I will, too. I have eyes.




Winning hurts the sorting.

My reclusive bored nirvana wins.

We know in our loneliness sorting must be done.

During the high school graduation party lots of couples were on the verge of breaking up.

Only what strikes you from without sins.

All inspiration, all that’s worthwhile comes from within,

That’s how we are lonely and how we win.

We don’t know anything but what’s in here.

Nothing can scare us or induce a tear,

Or make us slip up and fall in love

Except what’s out there. The outside is wrong.

What got in, came in slowly, and didn’t change us.

Siri, play, “Like a Rolling Stone, How does it feel, No direction home, the times

They are a Changing,” then let me sleep.

Give me a poem and I won’t make a peep.

How I realized I’m exactly the same

As that which hates me and wants to change my name.

And the destroyer is going to change

Me for the good. That’s why love isn’t strange

But comforting. It reverses the world and me,

Killing my bored nirvana with friendly company.

Even the most popular must decide, must narrow it down.

Empty cars, and surprisingly warm downtown.

Now I’m going to start over, twenty five years on.

Fall in love, again. By this tree. On this lawn.




Image result for john clare the poet

“O for a draught of vintage…”

All art is either parody or homage,

And the best, a mixture.

You cannot expect me to put the paint on that way,

Although that style has become a fixture.

You can’t expect me to go down this hall,

Saying hello to every hat upon the wall.

There’s Wordsworth’s; his frequent use of enjambment

Was mocked by John Clare—no, that wasn’t the younger poet’s intent;

Rivals of the same era will sometimes seem

Completely alike; in time, the same dream

Descends on both; he praised her,

But by doing so, his verse steered towards the small

And trivial. If only you had read it to the end!

You would have seen your own sleeve repaired. You lend

Me a part of myself—but I always take

It as mine forever. Well, that’s how it works, for God’s sake.

The economy can tax and buy and re-sell

To the poor, and this is why they never do well.

Everything is made for the sake

Of the advantaged. The rest is hidden in the lake.

There’s nothing original. We re-combine

The letters, the hues, the ideas. Look at this line:

This line (not that one, this one) is going to tell

A heavenly tale, using blotches found in hell.

Or Hull. When Lake Poets took a long hike

Along German hills, exquisite poetry was found.

Clare mocking Wordsworth is almost like

Larkin, who replenished with a certain sound

An irritated Englishness, too quick

To cry for most, but bitching certainly did the trick.

You can see him, right there, and think

Anything you want about him. Go have a drink.




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Lovers make themselves larger cages.

We, for instance,

Followed quiet roads, to kiss,

To find a place to hide our homeless love

From eyes across the way, or tall windows above.

We took paths we hadn’t taken before,

But found every inch accounted for,

Private or public. The nowhere we sought,

In perfect anonymity, did not exist.

Then we would have really kissed.

But we shouldn’t have been doing this.

Afraid we would get caught:

Anonymity could not be bought.

Visibility and knowledge get inside your head.

We sometimes felt that we were dead.

Today I passed a little side route view

I once took secretly with you.

It didn’t lead to anything new.

Just more civilization. Us, looking around,

Thinking our paradise would never be found.

We were working slaves, stuck in the city.

Profound, the love, but our busy environs were too witty,

Too full of others: a tourist pondering behind a gravestone—

We thought the beautiful old cemetery would find us alone.

A small road would look promising and quiet,

But soon would end up in a riot.

The one thing urban planning misses—

Fortresses for forbidden kisses.

From a parking lot, or the latest rural fair,

We’d look at the moon, and wish we were there—

Though on the moon you can’t breathe.

One quick kiss, and then we’d leave.

Once, under a tree, by a fallen log,

At night, someone came walking their dog.

Once, in a building where no one should have been,

A janitor came to clean.

We wanted to kiss each other so bad.

The non-kissing world drove us mad.

Every fence, path, and stumbling walk

Contained private or public folk,

Who belonged to the world more than we.

They didn’t know you wanted to kiss me,

And after a while, you didn’t. Now I see

Only public places that exist in those places.

And I never see yours—just other faces.

Today I saw the flowers in bloom.

Last night, walking, I saw a television on in a room.

Lovers make themselves larger cages.

Then return home, to death, to boredom, just like lovers from other ages.






Image result for red communist posters

The Fat Ass Society held rallies

All across the continent. Meanwhile

Johnny and Betty worked on posters

For the Persistent Pimple Front long

Into the night. Bright red. Foreign support

Made it possible. Rival governments

In the far east sided with the pro-democracy

Protests until religious counter-protests

Brought several prime ministers to the table.

The president studied Islam as a boy

And realized completely crazy had political potential.

Disguised as smooth and buoyant, he knew

The truth was interlocking, never standing alone.

The ayatollah who was a commie was gold.

This could really work. The negotiations

Were best done out of sight. The public,

Left out, nevertheless had their opinions.

The Fat Ass Society assembled at dawn

And ran their riots as if they really meant it.

Pieces of automobiles were thrown.

Automobile sales increased, and last I checked,

Betty had left Johnny, even though Johnny

Had become leader of the Persistent Pimple Front,

Realizing she was a woman at last.

I had enjoyed being her son, growing up

Fishing in my own country but those

Verities were soon to be a thing of the past.


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I don’t love what I love,

I become what I love.

I cannot become my beloved;

I don’t think copying the flesh

Is the highest form of love,

Unless an Elvis impersonator

Who loves Elvis is real love.

But I don’t think it is.

But I can write

In the style, pre-Raphaelite.

I can be sad

In her style, Ligiea’s style, and be just as mad.

I think about faces,

How almost everyone

Has pretty eyes. Pretty eyes

Are common—a pair of beautiful eyes

Can live in an ugly face.

The architecture of the face:

The shape and size of the forehead,

The architecture of jaw, chin,

The position of the ears, the brows:

These determine the beauty of a face.

Jaw and forehead make up the hardware—

Eyes, nose, and mouth, the software

Of the face. A perfect nose can adorn

An ugly face, and beautiful lips, too.

I fell in love with a strong jaw, once.

It was large and unique. It was like a god’s,

Noble and strong; and the rest

Of her features, in the plan of the face,

Were gently-proportioned and modest;

A nose not large, nor too small—

A perfect shape, the same with eyes and lips;

And the forehead was smooth and regular,

Leaving her classically noble chin,

With the heft of ancient statuary,

Proud, not receding—the exaggerated

Opposite—to be her face’s character.

Had any other features been large

Too, this would have tipped the whole face

Into freakishness. The chin alone

Stood out; not one in a million

Has a chin this strong, a solid feature

Expected more in a man—but, on her,

Startlingly unique and handsome,

A wonderful compliment to the lips.

This rarity in a face is more valuable

Than all the art in the world; her singular

Physical uniqueness made it hard

Not to love her, once I fell. Everything else

Was secondary: she was bad-tempered,

Sneeringly sarcastic, plain in thought,

Pessimistic, depressed, married. Yet all these

Were eclipsed by the classical chin—

Once pondered, it was difficult to forget.

See this rare sketch in this old, crumbling volume of sin?

A god teaches the mortal how the mortal should be.

A god, she was, in part, gliding, askance of me—

Hers, the countenance, demure, pre-Raphaelite—

Lending a structure to the clothes and the poetry.


Image result for ligeia

How to want what never was.

You must write down affections here.

You must see in her mind the face

Slightly smiling, and dear,

Not cloudy and wrong from memory,

But the face when it is near.

The face of thought on the train.

A sweet memory, without strain.

You must converse, and have that kind of happiness.

You must cling to her in the best fragments,

Forgetting the plot.

She misses you a lot.

Yes, she misses you,

And the suffering is bad—

But trying not to miss you because she is angry at you

Makes her even more sad.

How to want what never was.

You escaped all of this. Be glad.







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You are good without thinking,

And this is the best way to be good.

The moment I begin to explain?

The simplest things will be misunderstood.

Revenge yourself against these married blondes.

They may be happy, but they are dumb.

We can discuss the Ayatollah Khomeini,

Sports and jazz, as we drink rum.

You can be the best at improvising,

With your dark hair on your kettle drum.

We’ll indulge in imbecilic quantification—

Woman and man, why not two men?

Until the moon and the evening come.

I’ll slaughter all your preconceptions.

And, later, I’ll write poetry—

When you wake up one night, frightened,

And revenge yourself on me.




Image result for beautiful old dusty books

He could have been a wonderful novelist,

But his sentences were too long.

The first thing Dr. Anthony X. Jones noticed

On this particularly grey Sunday

Was the rope and the sofa were the same color.

The gap between professional

And amateur is greater in some activities than others.

In poetry, for instance, since everyone uses words—

There is hardly any difference at all.

Often, in fact, the amateur is better;

The end of the poem seems better

Than the beginning, the chief criterion.

On the other hand, professional porn

Is far better than porn by amateurs.

When we make love, the place is not important—

But we find love is never enough.

We need to avert the eyes. A body

Truly beautiful is rare, as is love.

And the presentation of the work

Is important. Especially when the poet is a jerk.

Is the critic’s job an honorary one?

No. Ineptitude is seen; then I note it, just for fun.




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This is art because I say it is.

I go around with a frame—

And where I stop, art and life are the same.

You’re in my poem!

You’re in my film!

Reality and me. We both control you the same.

The minute this little bell chimes,

I want you to accept technology,

I want you to read the New York Times.

If my photo of you happens to be you,

It’s the same as if I took a photograph of a shoe.

I recommend you fight back.

Don’t let me do this. Even if you need to stab me in the back.

This is religion because I say it is.

Authority itself—my decision—

Is all.  Who needs beauty or precision?

I say it is so—so it is so.

Freedom—to not know, or not go—

Confounds us. Authority itself relieves us of so much,

Authority, itself, becomes bliss.

This poetry is poetry because I say it is.

Soon it is not just the saying it. It is.

I stop in front of you, and hold up my frame.

You can no longer enjoy your breathing—

Since the meditation master gave it a name.







Image result for blue sky in painting

Are you afraid of hell?

Who fears it more? The American child who imagines the flames?

Or sophisticated grownups along the Thames,

Too sophisticated to believe

In what the metaphor is saying—

And therefore they grieve?

Religion is misinterpreted by sophisticate and child alike.

Science is what I know I don’t know,

But religion is what I know and like:

If you hurt me, wrong will come to you,

Or it already has—and that’s why

You hurt me. Look at the sky:

Science explains how it’s blue,

But beyond that and that and that is you

And after that, well,

There might be hell

If you didn’t treat me well—

Especially if you are not a child,

But still acted wild.




Image result for butterflies in renaissance painting

Seeing how beautiful you were,

I studied to be beautiful, too,

Making myself beautiful with poems I gave to you.

There are two types of humans:

Butterfly and fly: Either beautiful—and aloof,

Or ugly—and they come right at you: these two the only truth.

Punish me directly, and tell me that I

Am the germy, roaring, fly.

I am that horrible fly, and here is proof:

This is the terrible thing about beauty

And love—only one can be the butterfly,

If both are beautiful. Two can’t be aloof:

Of the two lovers, one has to be the fly:

Too much aloofness—and love will die;

And there is even more aloofness when

Both expect the other to say, “Alright then,

I will be the fly!

Maybe you are slightly more beautiful than I.”

Beauty is aloof: watch a butterfly flit away

With fragile, colorful, wings. A fly wants to stay.

Punish me directly. Say

Exactly why you said you could not see me today.

In the name of my poetry. Please tell me why.

Oh cruelty! She will not speak—butterfly to butterfly.


When you cannot think, you feel.

And then only the beautiful is real.

In the 19th century, dark rain was perceived

As painting, and the same thing with the sun,

And poetry remained indoors with those who grieved.

Infant mortality affected everyone.

The 15 year old landlord’s daughter who married

The tax collector Henri Rousseau?

Only one of her six children survived. I know

The paintings of Henri Rousseau. We doubt fame.

Everyone doubts fame. But what else do we know?

They were painting over his canvases. Pablo Picasso

Saw a canvas being sold as a canvas on the street:

It was an unknown Henri Rousseau.

If we don’t know the famous, then what do we know?

The tiger in the jungle in the rain.

It is so lovely. I go back to the 19th century again and again.

Then with improvements of the next century, we started to think.

I was born in the 20th century. I love technicolor films

But there is more feeling in 19th century ink

Than in technicolor kisses, today.

If a birth is going to be too much trouble,

We make it go away.





Does it turn you on to run away?

When I move towards you for a kiss,

It is not the journey I love; I miss

You, so I move towards you; what could be simpler than this?

If you are more complicated,

And it excites you to run away,

Shall I run? Then you wouldn’t stay.

I have waited five years for the sun

To show me your face below.

Where has the sun gone? Do you know?

Has it rained this long?

Do you think I was wrong

To complain love was slow?




Image result for narcissus weeps in modern painting

Narcissus suffers a triplicate woe.

Lips kissing air almost into the water go.

The reeds over the pool wave to and fro.

Love, contemplated, is delicious and slow.

For three and a half hours he was happy. But I know

Narcissus suffers a triplicate woe:

Narcissus wants to be loved by another,

And this longing enough almost kills.

Imagine losing one’s love in the shadowy hills!

The saddest thing about this longing love

Is Narcissus doesn’t think he is beautiful enough.

A strange comparing waits in the staring.

Narcissus soothes wounds, remembering the daring.

Now he sits. Narcissus will not take a chance.

He watches reflections of heavy branches dance.

The almost beautiful is more obsessed

By beauty than the beautiful. Narcissus

Desires the beautiful, knowing the beautiful is best.

A pity the pond is a mirror, and not a curtain!

Narcissus thinks he is beautiful. But he is not certain.




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I don’t have time for you,

Because you’re the one I love the most.

I would want you all the time. That wouldn’t do.

So I will have to be satisfied with your ghost.

I love you too much. Goodbye.

Pity my hands that cannot touch you. Pity my eye.

The dialogue between you and I will be replaced

By a dialogue with myself.

The questions and responses will be evenly spaced

Like those dialogues of Plato sitting on my shelf.

You will be a poem in my mind.

I will see you, vaguely. You won’t always be nice,

You won’t always be kind.

Sometimes you will give me bad advice.

I will have time to explore

Why you loved—and why I loved you more.

That’s when our love was physical, and each moment was new

And everything seemed beautiful,

As when you experience something for the first time, and it thrills you.

When I first heard Borges quote, Keats’ “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer,”

Homer, Chapman, Keats, Borges, and I—all lived in time’s river.

By streams and dreams I know a lot.  But I won’t have to tell.

What I reflect on will not have to be repeated at all

To you. I will never have to take your call.

I won’t have to flatter you, or tell you the right thing.

The truth will be all that matters.

You will live inside me; otherwise you’ll be nothing—

My mind eschewing the outside, which the outside flatters.

Today, in my thoughts, I discovered why

You loved me less, and caused our love to die.

Your whole life being vacant and painful, our love

Did not recall past joys for you, the way it did for me:

My strange forbidden crushes, my lovely past was

Revisited: a string of my firsts: losing my virginity,

Children. But your life was a miserable portion

Of abuse, fruitless relationships, an abortion.

Mad and hopeless love belonged to me;

You lived in all my touchstones prior;

I loved you more; you were an idle god in your superiority—

But the superior depth of my past joys fed my desire;

I was weaker, by mad love and past happiness blessed;

You were coolly above me, but by love’s standards, I was the best.

I had my poetry. I still have my poetry. I still love you the most.

But I don’t have time for you. And I know why. So welcome, ghost.








Image result for bruins fans

Somebody said to someone, “We’re not free.”

Someone said, “I feel it all the time, I feel it daily.”

Somebody said, “Did you know we are ruled by nobody?”

Someone asked, “Are we ruled by someone we can’t see?”

“No,” somebody told someone. “We’re ruled by nobody.

When your sports team wins, it has nothing to do with you.

It promotes schizophrenia. It’s likely

This may be why you are ruled by nobody.”

Someone was offended. “I love my team.

I love my fellow fans. Is my happiness a dream?”

Somebody said,  “It’s a dream, a dream of your belief.

Believers in your country want to come here,

Leaving home, leaving dreams, leaving somebody and their grief.”



May is the month to be immortal, to love

The scent of blossoms, to love

All that makes the landscape new

As it grows. That would be mostly you.

I cannot be immortal for another moment

Unless I acknowledge Memorial Day—

(The sun is making its merry way)

The day we remember every sorrow is dead.

I need to sink into sweet flowers now.

To lose a still growing child

Is the worst thing. This makes me wild.

I want to write an ode. Does the hangman know how?

As different as the living from the dead

Is the soldier who defends his country from the poet who dreams on a cloud.

Memorial Day is not for poets,

But poets will spit their anti-war poems

Today, to other poets. Society starts when a poem is read out loud.

Not a soldier, but an MFA instructor,

Told me Keats doesn’t matter.

But I, an historian, am mad as a hatter.

So Keats does matter.

Poets will kill poets and soldiers will kill soldiers.

The feeble conscience of the old scholar stirs.

I figured it out. The answer is found

In studying Iran. Before you fight, study.

The UK is still the British Empire, more now by proxy.

When the Empire retreated, it set fires.

Who knows what Desdemona desires?

A U.S. president apologized in Cairo in 2009,

Feeding the fake narrative that the Iran coup

Of 1953 was American. They might as well blame you.

Did everything change in 1952?

I don’t know. I’m just guessing at these things.

My father, getting his Master’s in history, was reading Beard,

Who said the Founding Fathers were just money grubbers.

Sex was everywhere. Things were getting weird.

Intel agencies and universities changed. Was it a plan?

Intellectuals became self-loathing. Deep America hating began.

After World War Two, the US kicked Stalin out of northern Iran.

The US and Iran were friends. Now the US is the “Great Satan.”

And Britain and Iran are practically sisters. Qui?

US oil fueled Europe’s two World Wars; not the US, the UK

Needed Iran’s oil—when Iran threatened to take it all away,

Churchill begged Truman for help, but Truman said no. The CIA

Agent was bewildered by the MI6 agent—

The Muslim-loving, Marxist-loving, self-loathing gay.

Churchill had better luck with the next US president, Ike:

There was something Soviet about Mosaddegh he didn’t like.

In Iran, the priests, the middle class, the military, too,

Were sick of Mossadegh; the Shah fired him. The “American coup”

Was an Anglo/Iranian one; making the US look bad

In 1953 set up 1979. Khomeini was a known terrorist

In Iran from the early 50s. The priest, Khomeini, took on the Shah in 1963,

When the Shah pushed for women’s rights. “You Don’t Own Me”

Sang Lesley Gore in America. La la la. Khomeini was exiled.

Jimmy Carter (Obama I) let Khomeini in from France in 1979,

When the Beatles had been replaced by Wings. Pol Pot.

By 1979 the world had really started to rot.

I find it hard to read Shakespeare’s Othello—Iago is so good.

This really needs to be understood:

For the last 100 years, the UK has been Iago to the US Othello.

The UK, though playing ally,

Never wanted the US to get too strong

And promote stable, modernizing nations

All over the world—not how the British Empire

Does things. Iran under the Shah

In the 70s, was a modern, US friendly nation.

MI6/CIA ran SAVAK to protect the Shah

But also to make the Shah look ruthless.

When it was time for a switch Khomeini

Made SAVAK look like children.

The Supreme Leader took my dreams away.

To be immortal, I need you. I need May.

I need the Hindu and the Christian.

I will ask the UK how to play the Muslim card.

The Queen remembers India. I’ll arrange a meeting. It won’t be hard.

The spring which never goes away

Is all. Paradise is something paradise makes.

I will have as many children as it takes.

In hot white breezes, the green flower stem shakes.

If this poem seems anti-war,

Pardon me. We’ll take another tour.

The poet, though dying, can change his spots.

We can change, the sweet historian connect the dots.






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Now, Rosalinda, it doesn’t matter.

The echo has faded, the exhibit is gone,

The rusting boats in the park are abandoned, a splatter

Which was a bodily spill of some kind

Has fled to the curator’s mind.

The statues are cold and lonely along the lawn.

The jokes which kept us going are forgotten.

The sub-dean’s dignity was exposed as rotten.

The minister’s mansion tumbles down the weedy hill.

Everything is corrupt, and corrupt inside of me.

You and I, we had our fill

Of you and I. We failed—neither gracefully nor gently.

Oh sigh. We see: our life is the depth and solidity of the sea

Covering all, except itself. See?


The clouds were worried. Understanding the sky had taken days:
Over the ocean, the high reach of the evaporated haze,
Clumping into cumulus, struck colder, drier air. Mutability stays.
The mountain range, large enough to cause problems, loomed
Over the lower currents in hulking silence; the dissolving atmosphere,
Wind and friction, ambassadors of change; the warming sun, all had a storm in mind,

Making me feel that I was a weather system. Well, wasn’t I?

You hadn’t told me anything. My kisses were about to rain.


Image result for muslim woman with sixteen children

There can be no perfect woman.

You can’t put a handsome, regal head

On this swimsuit model’s frame—

It would look ridiculous. Beauty

And brains together are most desired;

But beauty is the end, and brains plan;

The two of them so at odds, finally, that one idea

In a woman proves fatal to a man.

The future of all races require breeding,

But why should women perform

The one thing which is the norm?

Muslim women can. A pretty face

On Vogue can’t save the Christian race.

The man is culpable. If he should impregnate

A woman who doesn’t want his child, it is too late.

Abortion is always the man’s fault. What is sad

Is anti-abortion is perceived against women

Instead of what it really is: against men who are bad.

The Hollywood actress says, “my body is nobody’s

Business but my own.” But there’s two bodies.

There really is a body inside the body.

I grow old. I grow old. Beethoven is undoubtedly the best.

Listen. The clouds are gathering. How beautiful it looks in the west.






Image result for deer in dark woods in renaissance painting

When I came looking for the deer,

She and I were simple predator and prey.

It might be said I felt a kind of fear

To lose her; hers? It made her run away.

I feared starvation. I held my breath,

Creeping towards her—and away from my—death.

One death dies inside the other.

To keep from dying, climb the hill,

Wait by tree and shadow. Throw the spear.

The first creature of the world must kill.

When I approach you, you strangely move.

You fear my love, but also fear I will not love.


Image result for khomeini crowds

I am just as good as you.

Even commie scum have their pride,

And being just as good as you

Is how—completely naked—they hide.

You have other things to consider,

Your complex relationship is difficult

To summarize. You know you love her.

Seeds are lost. Houses crumble. Flowers wilt.

You love the rare, and the few—

But he has one broad agenda: to be just as good as you.

Not like you, but as good as you,

And that’s where the pride comes in,

The cunning. The emotion. The sin.

He will put communism in the church.

He will drag the shah from his perch.

He will leave modernizing allies in the lurch.

He will go to great lengths to be equal.

If he loses, there will always be a sequel.

He uses all space and time

To do something about your rhyme.

He will hire critics to say your style

Is antiquated. If you laugh, he will smile,

If you smile, he will laugh. He’ll go down

To the depths of hell,

To the Strait of Hormuz, and almost drown,

Or pretend to drown, and people will say

He loved the people. He has your face.

There’s just a little bit more disgrace.

There’s not as much history today.

People hate, but they want to be good, too.

That’s all he wants, you know.

Right now, that’s all he wants.

To be just as good as you.



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Only when I was angry, was I in love with you.

But my angry moods were just too few

To really be in love with you.

I remember when I was in a rage,

A poet in a prose cage,

Saying to myself, “This will never do.

My silence! And others talking to you!

You, a smiling rose,

Lovelier than anything described in prose.”

I wanted to whisper in your ear,

“Here is beauty, and for this beauty, poetry is here.”

Admiration is worship. Is worship sin?

No—but her worship of me did me in.

Worship occurring mutually at the same time

Occurs only when looking and kissing; my rhyme

Was not returned by her; but a look and a kiss

Flooded worship. The gods know this.

She was not a poet, but when she kissed

Me, holy books sat, unread. And were not missed.

She was mine; I could not look at them.

Water fed the roots, and then the stem;

The rose was no longer the poetry;

Her lips pressing mine, poetry became me.

I could not be angry anymore.

I loved her, adoring her, so she would adore.

I loved. But how was it I was angrier than before?

I whispered, almost with venom, “Don’t you see?

You must kiss me! Adore me! Follow me!”

Happy tyranny! Rage upon more rage grew.

“Unholy kisses, desperate kisses. Every kiss for you.”

I found the secret to poetry and madness:

My rage was changed into love’s gladness,

Mutuality. And inspired sadness.








Image result for salem harbor lighthouse

Love is a cove. Protected by hills,

Cities in protected bays thrive,

Every avenue meant for love.

The inaccessible port quickly fills.

The lighthouse blinks love to arrive or leave.

With scientific certainty I can say

I have been unlucky in love.

Whether I neglected, or pursued,

Or combined it in a scientific way,

The beloved eventually found me rude,

And rejected my love and my poetry.

I will say nothing about women. Some are here.

I remember a sunny afternoon,

Watching a friendly ferry slowly disappear.




For Anita Hill

What could she say at graduation?

Be good to those different from you,

Stop violence, work hard. Her name

An inspiration to feminism; so many

Honorary degrees bestowed; but I wonder,

In her heart, is she secretly conservative?

Her graduation talk could have been taken

Either way. It was fine. One glorious cliché.

I wonder if she thought, “there, enjoy that speech;

It means whatever the new york times tells you it means.

Frankly, I’m not who you think I am. If the speech

Was boring, yet boredom is a kind of peace, after all.”

We try. Damn, we try. The humblest lips belong to eternity.

Beneath improvement, vermin propagate;

Beneath headlines, holy understandings flow.

Beneath rhetoric, rhetoric speaks what all rhetoric doesn’t know.

Everyone regrets something they aborted,

Regrets they abstracted a wrong into more wrong.

Didn’t sing. Didn’t just sing the song.

Everyone has a conservative heart,

No matter how left wing, or how vocally they protest.

Everyone has a heart, at least. Everyone knows what is best.




Image result for the actress abstract painting

You have to see her in person

When some high passion moves her.

Life puts its arms around theater

And crushes it. You cannot fake

What she does. No one could.

She doesn’t fake it. That’s why she’s so good.

No one can call it good. Applause

Would be inappropriate. Don’t grin.

You’re not at a show. No one can win.

She just is. How do you fill up the pause?

She will immediately discern you as insincere

Even before you do anything. “See you next year!”

Her performance is not just seen. It sees.

You are not in the theater. Her life

Means you are in the theater of her,

Which makes a moment to moment mockery

Of you as judge. “You should act,”

Is only greeted by her smirk. “Is that a fact?”

Praise her as talented? She’ll take it the wrong way.

Do you think she likes doing this every day?

She doesn’t. You are absolutely mesmerized.

But she hates it when you’re surprised

At how good she is. She is not a play

For you to watch. But she’s so natural

You can’t help watching. Never knowing what to do or say.

Theater as life as theater, as life, where

Does it stop? This is how you make

Artificial love. And yet, nothing is fake.

It’s all natural. She’s waiting. Over there.

I want to make her angry. Just to see

What anger is. But then she would be angry at me.


Image result for may blossoms in renaissance painting

Judging her beautiful, my judgement is what joys

To find her in my arms.

Judgment is not dour, for how can a judge be dour

When judgement approves of all these charms?

I judge her sweet when she is coy.

I judge her reticent lips the sweetest I know.

I judge her wise—for she says kissing is best

When kissing is slow.

Poorly I judge to ever judge the rest:

If she fears I will love another.

She is poor at judging books.

She fears my judgment if it judges her—

She fears judgment when it smiles and looks.

All the world is hierarchical.

Beautiful less—or more—beautiful.

She fears the more descending to the less,

And since she cannot judge—she can only guess

The beautiful will descend to the less.

Once judgement starts, judgement cannot stop,

And when joy is too familiar, the highest joy must drop.

During the judgment, the judged can only wait.

But judgment is more than judgment—it make things improve.

Judgment and improvement, our fate.

Judgment makes things love.

Everyone judges. Judgment eats what does not judge well.

I love her with open eyes. She closes hers in hell.










Image result for fixing the car in modern painting

I can fix this, you’ll see.

The best always starts badly,

The dry and handsome starts wet and small.

If you didn’t start as a little shit you wouldn’t be here at all.

I can fix this. The self-correcting is the whole

Spirit of harmony in the arts, social relations, the soul.

Young, I got drunk, to be that bull, to find that cow.

Now I avoid people, and don’t get drunk. I’m different now.

When I was young, I wrote poetry, but didn’t converse.

Now I talk poetry. And it keeps getting worse.

But wait, getting worse isn’t bad.

A little insanity is good when one knows, and one is sad.

You’re realistic. You’re careful. You sit around and mope.

At least when one is insane, one has hope.

I’m feeling best when I do anything to win.

That’s why I have this grin.

You smile, but you’re miserable within.

But I know. After a long cry, you too, want to win.

The experts will talk about strategies for hours:

Don’t ever say you love her, they say. Don’t bother with flowers.

Don’t make it easy for her. Make it hard.

This is guaranteed: Put your own personal poem in a card.

But this is what I finally learned, after the passion and the sin:

Sobriety. No derangement of the senses. No intoxication.

If they’re drunker than you, you win.




Image result for lady singing portrait 19th century painting

I saw a lady in an emptying train, sighing.

Troubles are infinite,

But when you see someone sigh, sometimes you know why.

The exiting passengers filed past the lady;

She was in no hurry to leave her seat.

She was sitting there sighing, this lady;

Had she sighed to her lover, it might have been sweet.

But this was no sigh of love. The lady

Was no longer young, and the lines

On her face, I could see, had come

Only in the past few years.

Everyone wants to be beautiful and young.

This is why she remains in her seat,

And the sigh she sighs is more sad than sweet.

She knew she would never be young, again.

Some miseries are greater than others.

Age is the worst thing that happens to us.

But something tells me, I don’t know why,

I stopped for a moment, when I heard her sigh,

When I sighed, because she sighed, I thought,

As I left the train, in the station, I thought,

The world is going to happen again,

With the very same ladies, and the very same men.



Where are the geniuses today? Techno-leisure has created such a mass of dweebs

Who have no poetry in their soul, it’s hopeless to look there.

Genius happens between the voluntary and the involuntary:

You refuse to take an intoxicating drink

Or join in on the racist jokes.

“Homophobia runs deeper than we know,” said Norm Macdonald,

The grinning genius, the philosopher of crack and sex.

Philip Larkin reminds me of my middle aged ex,

Estranged from her mother, and with no children herself,

Who likes to hang out with gays.

I sometimes I think of her on Mother’s Day.

Norm is the American Larkin.

Humor and poetry are involuntary answers to voluntary questions.

No guy needs to be racist. No guy needs to fuck another guy’s hairy ass.

I like comedy, but melancholy is my favorite mood, alas!

Sensitive moods makes me sensitive and the delicate listening I require

Is only supplied by myself. Some idiot reviewing Larkin

Said who cares about these boring letters, thousands, Larkin

Wrote to his mother. No, never under-estimate the bare bodkin.

“Yesterday,” that plain dactylic word which opens “Yesterday,”

Can you hear it? YES-ter-day. The moment this homely word

Is sung, you hear complete resignation;

It’s obvious to me Paul lost someone, at seventeen?

Before the Beatles were,

Before the jokey cruelty, the sound and pomp of his fame

Covered up how much this lost memory meant to him,

Covered up the suffering, the despair, her name.

Which doesn’t matter. But then the hopeful

Resoration of the iambic in those ascending notes,

The phrase ending in, “Oh I believe in yesterday.”

This belief is everything. Ironic and beautiful.

And I heard, “yesterday” for the first time, today,

As Paul, in his unconscious may have heard it,

As he was writing his teenage, sentimental song:

“Yes. Her day.” Aren’t humor and love both wrong?








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The forest is right and the trees are wrong.

I don’t need the singing if I have the song.

You don’t want to fight me, but if you must,

Come at me with trees. I’ve got the forest.

Every decision you make has too much information.

If the courts tie you up, you don’t have a nation.

The trees often make the forest uncertain;

India didn’t want to belong to Britain.

And Britain said, “Good! You know, you may be right.”

Then Britain made the Hindus and the Muslims fight.

The British said, “Oh that horrible Shah!

Now here’s Khomeini. Ha ha ha!”

Speak softly, they say, but carry two sticks.

1953 Iran was no American coup.

The oil to lose was Britain’s. That was MI6.

Britannia lacked oil. Uncle Sam did not.

So the Queen put Sam with Muslims in a pot.

The U.S. manufacturing force of the world is here.

Sly Britain whispers in America’s ear.

Black gold comes from Texas. Yet the Queen

Still owns the world, shining and green.

The trees can prove the forest wrong,

But the forest is all we know.

The British Empire still plays the song.

I connected the notes. But the news is slow.



Image result for lamb in renaissance painting

Yesterday, for an hour, I was gay.

Yesterday, for an hour, in the city,

In a scientific kind of way.

In a pure and contemplative mood,

I realized women’s faces

Were less handsome male faces—

So I wondered why I loved female faces

More, as a rule. Was my question intellectual,

A trick of the duality of the soul?

Faced with “handsome,” we call the opposite, “pretty,”

And both, for the sake of peace, are given dignity.

The small chin, the indecisive nose,

The delicate neck: she is my rose.

Women have prettier hair! And dangling ear rings!

And low notes are the same ones the soprano sings.

Worship woman, not from any calculation of more, or less.

Worship woman, and not because she wears a flimsier dress.

We love opposites, but there is only one thing we must confess:

“No man is perfect—and equal is perfect to me.

I love you, darling—and I guess the reason is a mystery.”

The idea of the opposite is strong

And effective, but in truth, the whole idea is wrong.

Opposites have differences, but only one quality as a quality excels:

You, with the uncommon face, you, breathing heavily, isn’t that you?

Only beauty, one as one, announces itself, and tells

The many: this one is the one that matters, and leaves

You surrounded by a mass of sheep, alert, and the lamb, apart, who grieves.



Image result for the misty hills in 19th century painting

The scientific God told me the origin

Of the universe one morning when gloom

Hung upon the hills. I was the only one in the room.

The scientists were on a holiday

In Bengal. The scientific God had sent them away.

The scientific God was industrious

And knew how industry could aim

Aiming devices at the moon. No amount of fuss

Could fool me behind my back. My name

Was similar-sounding, no matter what tongue

Pronounced it. The scientific God was young,

Young beyond reckoning, in fact.

The secret he told me came from the future,

Where everything is dim and flying apart

To return. An instantaneous rupture

Made its point, overcoming contradiction

In the brain, an excited, momentary, heart.

The scientists were tortured by the odd,

Which was odd inside the odd.

God’s voice in my head gave me chills.

“Faith” and “infinity” are but words.

I listened to the scientific God,

Sinking into contemplation,

As the gloom increased among the hills.


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Selfish poet, I know you would not tell

The sweet things if you found love.

We only hear from you because you live in hell.

The woman you loved, left.

Your poetry is pathetic, bereft,

And you write it to keep from going mad.

Poor wretch. You only make the reader sad.

See how I do it. She loves me well

And I tell her, and I will tell

You, but this will only make you sad.

There’s no help. Every argument is false to the poet who is glad.



Image result for love in 19th century painting

What you were lovely for

Was so I—I could adore,

And, with poetry, add more

Loveliness. That’s what your loveliness was for.

Your loveliness is yours:

Oh! many mansions, oh! many doors!

When you let me sit in your room,

I knew delicious comfort was my doom;

I knew I was the luckiest of men—

But I would never write poetry again!

So I removed your hand from mine;

I refused your pillows and your wine.

I fled! but I still adore, I still adore!

I’m writing more and more!

I built a house of harmony and metaphor!

Let the wine of regret and gratitude pour!

Let me writhe and lie and cry and die at your door

Before you open it. Please open it,

And see, again, what you are lovely for.


Image result for early american portraits of women

These pleasures are real for me—

But they are not real for you, Rosalinda;

And it’s sad to think that nothing

Is really shared, for if pleasure isn’t shared,

What is? Two looking at a sunset or making love

Still feel a host of things the other doesn’t feel,

Or feels in a slightly different way,

So from one moment to the next

My pleasures, although they fly away,

Are mine to know, and no matter what I say,

My pleasures are not yours, Rosalinda,

Not even the pleasures I’m able to describe,

Such as how this poem gives me pleasure

As I write it, knowing I’ve found a truth—

Alienation is more profound than we know;

Pleasures can’t be shared; they belong

Inside our selves, where pleasure sensors are—

Intimacy is as distant as yesterday’s star.

And poets feel such exquisite shades

Of pleasure, belonging entirely to themselves,

Increased, even by their own poems—

Or decreased by these kinds of thoughts,

Rosalinda, and you cannot possibly see

How I see you by looking in my eyes;

The activities in me are barred to you;

Simple seeing itself is hearsay,

Even to another directly there,

And conversation, false report.

This is a kind of triumph; but only

In my poem, as much as my poem is true,

Eternally. And sad. Was it sad for you?



Image result for khomeini

Here’s the scene where the woman beats up the man.

You have makeup and a camera, so all you need is a plan.

The world cannot be other than what it is.

In our hearts we know this.

A man did what he could, in the beginning, with rocks.

A woman did, too. And today men and women wear silk socks

And complain. The world has groups. The world is still made of rocks.

Progress: shadow governments. Here is the scene

Where things get mixed up.

Damn, we say to each other and laugh, that’s fucked up!

The known terrorist from France flies in. “Ha ha

How do you like your democracy now” —the Shah.

In Game of Thrones a woman beats up a man.

The world’s unnatural. The Persian man

Wants to fix it. He’ll do what he can.


Nothing is, but what it’s doing.

Women who shut down as women

Are commonly referred to as “women”

By every kindly and learned reformer

Who wants more rights for “women.”

But how can you enfranchise “women”

When these creatures are not women,

Since they are not behaving as women?

As women they have shut down.

Only acting as something makes it something.

Since these creatures are not women,

By giving rights to whatever they are,

First, you are playing God, giving rights

To creatures of which you know nothing,

But which you ignorantly call “women,”

And second, you oppress all women

By giving rights to what is not a woman.

Only a woman knows what a woman is,

But if she has shut down as a woman,

She no longer knows what a woman is,

But defines herself by kindly reformers

Who define things and name things

Ignorantly. The worst ignorance

Is learned speech naming what it cannot define.

I do not oppose women

When I oppose progress for women

Who have shut down as women. The

Origin and purpose of women defines woman,

Not “progress” for what is merely called

“Women”—which is ignorantly proclaimed

And not understood at all, by reformers

Whose secret desire is to defile women,

To travel backwards, to control and shame.

Beware the cries of “Rights! Progress! Reform!”

Folly will freeze. You deserve to be warm.



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When I’m really angry, I’m drunk.

I lose all sense of time;

I’m not afraid to express myself,

I write a poem right away,

Writing in a fury, not caring if it rhymes.

I’m not afraid of anyone.

Drunk, I cry out, Why? Why? Why?

Idiots! Why do you accept these things?

Artificiality, neglect, cowardice, inefficiency!

And in my anger, I know why

They accept these things.

Addicted to the temporary,

They hurriedly move on.

But I will not.

I am so angry, so angry,

I see everything. I see it all.

You better get out of my way.

I am drunk. My old, polite self was an idiot.

Anger made me see.

That’s the chemical I want

When I am a weak and passive fool again.



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What is greater than you?

Everything. Marriage vows: saying you may not love,

Circumstances: loveless and sure of it, too,

Choice: preventing your children,

Your childless death sighing in you,

Melancholy: because these things have won,

Beauty: in you, now, a setting sun,

Heaviness: your thighs drag through your day,

Dreams: pointing to everything gone.

There on that great height

Of a cliff, tall in its failings,

You sleep, bereft, and slowly breathing

Towards morning when all that conquered you

Comes to life dully and rudely again.

We are blind. We are not gods, love.

Do we secretly love? You don’t know how I am,

What I see, or how much I love you,

Or that I search for you in old books,

Going to you as a poet, listlessly,

For I have been enlisted by poetry

To witness lovely, lyric poems like this:

Marking your melancholy demise.

Your poem has no irony, no surprise.

Once we were fools enough to kiss,

To bring hectic hell down upon us,

Everyone else turning into a dream,

And now, also a dream, ourselves,

Ourselves observed as not ourselves.

The past regret of present doubt

Seeks you in me, driving you out.

My whole world my whole world hates.

With dry, small steps I ponder you,

When here with another, a life waits,

But I don’t love them, so what can I do?

So disproportionate is my love for you,

Even the present is a memory.

I could lie beside her; she is right here,

But I am pining, against all hope, for you.

No, we are not gods! We don’t guess

The right thing to say, so by accident,

By chance—(fate’s children, cupid is one,)

We might come into each other’s view

And not turn away. I am looking

For any excuse to love you, again,

A child and a child. But fate has taken

Your children. Children don’t like you.

Frowning, heavy thighs and handbag:

Paperwork and lipstick of the lone professional,

The small, beige office, those duties to fulfill,

A life no one really wants, but you will,

Since there is just enough pay

To justify the cost of the commute each day.

Sigh. And barf. To be left alone: that’s how you pray.

We are not gods. You have to do

What the world wants, and the world

Has everything. Everything is greater

Than you. I could put you in a play.

When it ends the audience could leave.

And the sensitive, perhaps, would grieve,

A bookworm like me, feel sorry for you.

But you don’t warrant a play.

Just a beautiful poem. Have a nice day.




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Friendship is not good.

It will rival love and confuse love

But it is not nearly as good.

Friendship is not okay.

I need to hate awhile to be in love.

So go away.

To be a friend allows some things

To happen occasionally,

Which thought and poetry

Do much better with wings.

Friendship will let the love

Which really isn’t love

Get too close and find things out

So love is crippled with doubt—

Any discovery doubts the poetry

Every time we speak the poetry.

Love is betrayed

As soon as we step into the darkening glade

Where love wandered off,

But should have stayed.

I will never trust a friend

Since you, who liked me,

Said love should end.



Image result for muslim hordes

It’s good to be emotional about a reasonable thing,
For then both emotion and reason defend it.
Everything reasonable and good
Will still be hated, if it’s misunderstood,
So emotion should be its ally, too.
Then reason won’t be rejected by one who over-thinks, like you.
Take Islam, for instance:
You’ve glimpsed it in the desert, from a distance,
You’ve seen the covered women in breezy glades,
The beards and scimitars crushed by the crusades,
You’ve read about “no alcohol,” the readiness to obey,
You know Muhammad Ali came from Cassius Clay;
You don’t know anyone who went the other way.
You’re sorry for the invasion of Iraq;
Politics, the heaving of a big rock,
Makes brutal, protective, sense; you get it;
Religion wants to win, but you’re smart; you won’t let it.
As a reasonable person, rocks you understand,
But you won’t sink in the water where the water meets the land,
You won’t be religious, that’s too unreasonable for you.
You trust left wing media, the scientific, secular jew,
A few neo-con ideas might be okay;
Bush wasn’t great, but look at Trump today!
So yes, rocks, you get.
Religion will just make you wet.
You don’t trust emotion, but you have to admit,
It’s always sweeter when you’re feeling it.
Nothing makes you feel; you like happy porn;
Miserable romance only makes the lover mourn;
Love: you compete with a million guys—
And then who says the one attracted to you will be a prize?
Love is great, but what are the odds of it occurring?
It’s just weird hopes and jealousies blurring.
But shouldn’t the reasonable also be felt?
You feel frustration. That makes you melt.
But you don’t feel love, and that’s sad.
The anecdotal news is good, but Trump just gets you mad.
You want that cliche: a love that is real.
You want a good which you know about—and feel.
And that’s impossible.
Everything you trust is glib and anecdotal.
You might laugh at things your friends are saying,
But it quickly passes; a hit song makes you feel only when it’s playing.
Where is the permanent good you can feel?
But isn’t that religious?  And that will just make you kneel.
But you are tired of the small fires. You need something sublime and glacial.
Islam is taking over the world. It’s communist and racial—
To criticize it is to be labeled racist and right-wing,
Yet, as a religion, it out-right-wings the right-wing.
Reason? Emotion? No. Here is the contradictory, invincible thing.



Philosophy is puzzling.

Comedy’s a wink.

The behavior of your lover

Will push you to the brink.

A persian diplomat decides

The secret oil and debt we drink.

Suits argue politics,

Jobs, and trade deals,

With Democrats, and other dicks.

Do you know why I love poetry?

Poetry doesn’t care what I think.

Poetry is something I write to you.

And I care what you think, I do.

But thinking is for one, not two.

Poetry is how I think. Poetry is me.

If one thinks for two, that’s poetry.

But you can’t think for two; more me

Is all you get. Sorry.




What youth gave

Old age cannot give.

Alas, no more love.

We can only live.

We can live inside our life for hours,

And smell for years the remembered flowers.

We feel the sunlight on our skin.

We can remember everywhere we’ve been.

What can old age not do? Old age’s eye

Smiles at youth’s rash tongue.

Youth dies and stays young.

Stay here, Rosalinda. The red balcony. The red sky.


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Those who laugh don’t love.

The swift, perpendicular dove

Vanishes into a different blue arrangement.

Love runs away from humor’s derangement.

Without political context,

Life does seem insane.

But laugh, work hard. You’ll be okay.

It takes leisure and sorrow to drift into insanity.

Laugh. Love is crazy vanity.

It takes thought and sorrow if you want to be in love.

Lean out your window. Listen to that moaning dove.

Or laugh. Those who laugh don’t love.



Image result for the agony of a young man's American civil war death

The bold are racist. The timid are not.

The bold and timid both die and rot.

But the bold are racist. The timid are not.

The timid were ordered to put on a uniform,

The timid were ordered to go

And die to fight racism, a long time ago.

The bold hid, and said, “I will not.

The age of twenty-one is too young to rot.

I may honor them, but tariffs and death will not.”

So the bold became timid, or so it seemed,

But during speeches over graves, they boldly dreamed

Of racism, and how it killed

The timid, inheriting glory, the words of the timid in the bible, fulfilled.

The bold hated the timid, and their glory.

Racism was cowardly, went the story,

But in their secret hearts the bold knew

The timid are not brave. The opposite was true.

The bold found a woman of the opposite race,

And stared at her with love. She spit in his face.

Or she lowered her eyes. We don’t really know.

It’s all mixed up. It was so long ago.





The seasons are poetry. But also a pain in the ass.

Dark and cold November makes everyone cry alas.

She loved me when February was freakishly warm,

And though I joked about this loving fact,

Maybe it was the reason. Sweet love is mostly an outdoors act.

An act of poetry, to be sure,

And when the buds rioted under a warming sun she loved me even more.

But as I crammed poetry into the months ahead,

She grew tired of poetry, and by December our love was dead.

The leaves of poetry turn. Leaves turn red, and fall.

Didn’t you love me? Didn’t you love me, after all?

The tilt of the earth makes the seasons pass.

Christmas is cold. Cold, alas.


Image result for oil rig in painting

Trained in a world of liberal arts anecdote, the simpler, wider facts

Defend themselves easily against your social justice attacks.

You decry “Big Oil,” like freezing winds which blow on oil rigs in the North Sea.

You step on grass. Human, you despoil nature too; yet heap abuse on me.

It is this way of being boring and nice in person, not particularly bright,

Who pins down others in an avalanche of anecdote when you think you’re right

Which condemns—an argument against you has nowhere to go,

Which is how you like it, safely immured in all you think you need to know.

The nice things which big ugly pieces of machinery have done

Don’t register. You advocate sunblock. As if sunblock were the reason for the sun.



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