The Rules of the Kitchen

Vol XXXII, Not For Profit


I’m not a licensed poet though
I’ll use the license as I choose
since facts are not my purview-
those I’ll leave to scientists
paid by entities public and private,
Profit and non. A poet isn’t paid

but made by circumstances
none in right minds would choose-
poverty and death, callings
corporate sponsors just don’t hear
for there’s no profit in it,
only poverty and death.

And sometimes a life after death
and stories of the life recounted after death
so long as poems are read and argued
and here we are arguing still
the relative worth of Illiads and Odysseys
and asking who was Homer anyway?

Not, I think, Anonymous,
Who scratched a line or two
that stand remembered still
penned inside the john or loo.




Shore These Fragments

Tenuous gridworks buzz, excited.
Bits of us scamper the world,
Zero-one, zero-one.

Here you are in India,
and here I am in France.
We’ve become such globalists,

we hardly know ourselves today.
And tomorrow, we’ll be fuzzier still,
Parsed and deconstructed,

Beamed and split to income streams
too vast and numerous to count
with wrinkled, fleshy fingers.





There Be Monsters

Einstein hated what his numbers knew-
Charybdis awaited, out of view,
churning light and worlds to massive black-
bending space to points with no way back.

Genius wanted genius to be wrong-
but it wasn’t. At the galaxy’s long-
distant core, a Charybdis devours
stars a hundred times the size of ours.





Water Poem
 for Joani


I like water.
I like the idea of water,
its Mickey-mouse molecular structure
with two floppy ears of hydrogen
atop a plump round head of oxygen;
its negative/positive polarity, 
attractive and connective,
leading to surface tension
and the heavy globs of summer rain
falling thick and fast this morning.

I like its gently solvent properties,
dissolving sugars and proteins
without annihilation
so cells can use them 
splitting into duplicate cells.

I like the sparkle and sheen of water,
how it fogs and freezes,
how it falls like feathers,
accumulates, and rewrites the world 
in curvilinear calm.

I like the wet of water,
how it showers clean and conscious 
the soiled, recalcitrant body.

And I like the taste and coolness of water
filling my mouth and flowing 
with the force of life itself 
down a grateful throat.







My view to the north-northeast
Is filled with fruitless Mulberry tree.
Before I go, it will likely die.

Trash trees live short lives.
Age and arboreal infirmities
Will strip it, limb by limb, until

My neighbor saws and hauls its remnants
Down. Perhaps a constellation,
Obscured before, will take its place. 






How Obsolescence Feels

Focus. Exercise the skills that
Matter still. Arrange the dumpsters
So recycling and the garbage
Can be hoisted and removed
Mechanically. Arrange the glasses,
Plates and flatware as the Whirlpool
Art department illustrates for
Sanitary shine and sparkle.
Dust the woodwork, wipe the ceiling
Fan blades antique white. The
Vacuum waits for you. Show us
How a wall to wall cut nylon
Pile should look.





Just Beyond The Glass

The cats would love to scratch and sniff
the world outside. The instincts almost
bred away still tug them toward
the screened but open windows, doors
left slightly ajar, the high sill
of the stairs. But Enkidu and Seamus
wouldn’t last the day beyond
the boundaries we’ve drawn

in brick and wallboard. Once, they slipped
the bounds, escaping through the one screen
not secured. A face I didn’t
recognize the wrong way round
was scratching to get in. I shooed
him off but he persisted. Enkidu,
I found, was terrified outside.
I brought him in, relieved, then panicked

not finding Seamus. There he was,
twenty feet from Parker Road,
his head and tail tucked and fur
on end. He leapt and scrambled through
the holly and boxwood, his terror
no less bitter in the mouth
than mine. He ran, a streak of gray
and tan through green, a tabby shot

back to the loosened screen then up
the brick, detained enough by eaves
that I could catch and hold him, scratching
blood, and bring him safely home.
The Princess merely yawned and stretched,
her purebred Birman majesty
unperturbed and unconcerned
by commoners coming and going.

Their memories are short.
Our pampered, beautiful cats still long
to hunt the branched and leafy world.
Perhaps they even dream escape
when napping twenty of twenty-four.
The squirrels, jays, and cottontails
just beyond the glass are much
more interesting than we.





In Hades, Greeks made pallid
mirror of the sunlit life above.
They couldn’t let the living die
and lie alone to dessicate and fly
away in random particles.

They loved their symmetries too much
to let them break apart completely.
Sentience clings to sentience
despite the overwhelming evidence
that dead is truly dead.

The strange, fierce beauty of the world
will break us all to bits
though corpses under earth
may linger on awhile,
embalmed caricatures of life.





Heretical Creation Myth
With God, Descartes, and Bit Players

God was bored one day, and narcissistic,
so made us in his image
for the constant play of tragedy
and comedy we’re good for.
Why worry about the risk
to the lovely planet?
He has others, a billion others,
just as lovely, ready to be despoiled
with vicious little copies
all across the universe and more.
A big prick loves to fuck with things.
It’s how It knows It’s there.
“ I fuck, therefore I am”,
Descartes might ghost write,
were he not a Godly man and dead.






What the Poem is Not About

The poem is not about forgetting.
It is forgetting
you and the small
experiences you bring
like a worn-thin peddler’s sack
to everything you meet.

It is not about your first kiss or car or job,
it is not about losing your father
to his short life’s bad habits.
It is not about your serial failings
at marriage, parenting, career.

It is certainly not about
the stacked paper typed across
but not quite ever organized
into anything like a life’s project.

The poem is not about you.
It is always and only about itself
and not forgetting.







Information waits within
the Universe’s fire and curves
which, when we stumble onto it,
will knock us out and set us free
to reinvent ourselves at last.