Rhyme Of A Modern Morning In The Monday World

1. Steering Wheel

The grass is watered, the weeds are pulled,
the stomach is fed (the soul isn't fooled),
and the engine is warm but the movement is cold:
as the object is gripped, the thought loses hold.

2. Radio Dial

Silence is silver but gabble is gold
(the truth is priceless and rarely told),
and the spin is new but the news is old:
a show of interference, logic lost in the fold.

3. Intersection

The pavement is worn but the path is the same
(the signals are crossed, the signs unnamed),
and the eyes stare ahead like a rifle taking aim
in a moving picture with cracks in the frame.

4. Gridlock

The weeds are watered, the flowers are pulled
(distraction is sharpened, the dream is dulled),
and time is for sale but the moment is sold:
tires inside the lines. Shapes inside the mold.

Nietzsche Turned To The Night And Asked

What would you have me compared to, then? 
The scorpion that strayed too far under the sun 

and stung itself to death, or the sightless 
mole that kept digging circles in the same 

archaic dirt? And why should it matter, 
there’s nothing left; nothing

but a silence more perfect than music;
no blinding shafts of imaginary light,

and no Judgment waiting at the end of that light; 
there is no light. It was ever only this:

beyond existence, merely the mystery;
beyond the mystery, merely one's choice—

faith or doubt—and nothing else. 
Man is soiled only by the sin of his servility,    

bound only by the fear of his freedom;
the shackles of guilt, the gallows of shame,

Nature commanded to kneel at the cross,
flagellate itself and beg for forgiveness—

what are these if not the vulgar shadows
cast between the columns of Fear and Otherness?

I fought to overthrow this abject indemnity,
eradicate our irrational superstitions,

and focus the power and purpose of existence 
toward its rightful object: existence.

These are the only wars worthy of humanity.
But here is your unimpeachable corpse— 

and better that I sought the “unholy” truth
and found only poverty, madness and death,

than were I to have sat still, waiting to be found. 
Reason was never more frightening than this.
For Chance Vallon, May 1995

A Fistful of Sleeping Pills

The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it 
one gets successfully through many a bad night. — Nietzsche
Dear Muse:

America the Beautiful has just begun feeding itself another year 
of reality shows, and I’m sitting alone at my quiet desk with idle 

hands and a paralyzing conflict. I’m dressed in a button-down oxford 
shirt, pressed jeans and polished brogues: I could surreptitiously debauch  

every neglected housewife in my neighborhood. I should be thankful. 
But I was telling you about my trouble: I’ve had it easy, too easy—

but no, that’s not it—and who am I, slagging off the popular merits 
of chasing the lowest literary lucre (while joking that that flight is 

already over-booked and when the fad crashes, everyone on board
is going to be killed because their parachute colors are so last season)? 

Who am I, preferring to stay on the ground while shop-worn hookers are
parading up and down the downtown streets, hollering "Happy New Year!"

on infinite repeat, and yuppies fucked up on bad champagne 
are forgetting the words to “Auld Lang Syne?”—and why am I too 

drunk and dead inside to join in their spectacles of revelry and sex? 
But this is what happened: one of my type characters snapped 

about an hour ago. I didn't see it coming, never heard a thing. 
I was just typing, stuffing a page with something, I don’t know, 

religious, and I’m a skeptic, but it was insurance, you know,
just in case, and then it was gone, as I was typing the word “©hrist.” 

(Note the amusingly fitting facsimile.) So that's it, that’s my cross: 
It’s 2am on New Year's Night, my capital “c” has beheaded itself, 

and the earliest I can get it replaced is next Friday, for fuck's sake. 
And it’s not a simple matter of buying a new character; it’s buying a new 

type-wheel, with all the characters, because it’s only sold as one piece. 
But please, not the computer. I'll edit myself to death on a computer. 

So, what's your solution? Back to scribbling lines in a notebook? 
Back further to a bottle and quill? Perhaps a parchment left for you 

at the foot of Mt. Parnassus? I'm guessing you'd prefer something more
tragic but psychoanalysis is out, and the Dictionary of ©lassical Mythology 

suggested that I come to you for help—because it’s just not the same without 
typing, the sound of all that machinery at work. It's like a miniature factory

that tricks you into thinking you’re producing something. It’s an audible 
illusion. And pretty soon you get to where you finally need it, like pain killers 

or something even worse—like a ©areer—and you’re not punching keys 
anymore, you’re punching a clock, putting on a badge, a clip-on tie, 

a standard-issue greeting for semi-literate customers— 
“Welcome to Typewriting, Inc.!”—and later you're counting 

a fistful of sleeping pills, wondering if it’ll be enough to do the job, 
because a man draws nothing but a losing hand if he waits too long 

to ask—so I’m asking you now if this is the last poem I will 
ever have to write, assuming I forget about killing myself. 

I sure as hell hope so. What if my part's been discontinued, 
and all the clerk can do for me is smile and say, 
                                                                                                    “Happy New Year...
Happy New Year... Happy New Year...”
                                                                                   on infinite repeat?

On A Sunday Afternoon, No Less

For there is no respect of persons with God. – Romans 2:11
I thought I had a ticket to the show and not the tell, 
a tangible paradise and not the usual Heaven Above, 
a place where a man can get the hell out of his own way.
Maybe you've heard of it. They say it doesn’t advertise, 
never hires, never trades, never drafts players and ferries 
them off to one team or another according to who'd 
served the harshest penance, who'd kept playing 
through injury upon injury inflicted upon logic, 
or who'd played for the winning team in the right 
colored uniforms—no, no, nothing like that. 

                      This place doesn’t kill for attention, 

and it doesn’t have other abject dependency needs. 
It doesn’t have needs at all. It simply is, like a basket of 
beach balls at the grocery store as you’re headed toward 
the edible produce. And today I saw something simpler still— 
an immigrant kid selling bundles of roses at my freeway exit. 
I was stopped in traffic watching the kid, and when the light 
turned green and everyone was about to go through, a family 
several cars ahead of me stopped to buy roses from him. 
They must have handed him a large bill and he was running it 
back to his cart to make change—all of this taking place 
as the lane to my right was moving along as smoothly as you 
please—and suddenly I was a shotgun loaded with impatience. 

My eyes on that stopped car and that kid keeping it stopped 
were like sights on a barrel, and I clicked off the safety and 
yelled out the window: “Goddamn it, move, you assholes!!!”
Which was wholly unnecessary. They finished with plenty 
of time for everyone to make it through. Then it hit me: 
How could I be angry at those people, and for no good 
reason since they didn't even hear me? The whole 
thing took about six seconds, an infinitesimal lapse 
of time, even in the secular perception of time. 
Certainly those seconds meant nothing to me, 
and yet so complete was my instantaneous wrath, 

                      so infantile and malevolent,

as if I had something more important to attend to, 
a raft of other sinners waiting to be judged, and these 
“assholes” throwing their wrench in the works. It was such a 
flash-flood of irrational fear, you’d think I had no respect 
for people at all. I'm guessing the ticket was counterfeit.