The Illustrations

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Ancient philosophers observe a rock falling to the ground
and assume this to be an expression of its essence—
its rock-ness. Along comes modern science and says, wait:
a rock’s inherent properties aren’t what cause it to fall,
but rather a force acting upon it. It’s called the law of gravity.
I’ve got news for you, folks. Humans, too, have an essence,
something bold within us that defines who we uniquely are—
it’s called DNA. Four distinct elements combine to form DNA,
cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine. They’re everywhere.
Consider the curious case of Charles McDaniel who walked
into a jungle during the Korean war and wondered, where
did my men go? They disappeared. His son, sitting at home
in the United States, also wonders, where is Dad? Sixty-
eight years later, 55 boxes of bones appear out of nowhere.
War bones. Jungle bones. Using DNA on even the smallest
fragment, we know these are from the Battle of Unsan!
Here, folks, is Charles McDaniel. We have his DNA. Now
you may be wondering: What is the DNA of the Christian
Body? Sacrifice. It’s everywhere. Navigating cultural
boundaries is also everywhere. My dad left me in Malawi!
As you might know, I am no good at tying knots. A man
jumped on top of our car and tied all my knots for me.
He disappeared into the crowd. Now that is called sacrifice.

• • •


For Hugh Cook

Friday, March 15, 2019

The are several kinds of people in Cameroon.
Some of them love to read novels. Some
prefer novellas. Some Cameroonians
are physically strong fellas while others
are weak, always walking to the diaper store
carrying umbrellas. Even when it’s not raining.
Others look like they’re Korfball champions
or maybe Korfballers in training. Or Camogie
players. There are several kinds of people
in the outskirts of Yaoundé, some who love
Jesus and are rich as Croesus, others Buddhist
shrine funders but with a “bit less plunder”
as the Aussies say—as they say “Down Under.”
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run; you better take cover. Yeahhhh.

• • •

Elegy for MJ

Monday, March 4, 2019

Michael Jackson,
dead and gone,

king of pop,
the moon’s own son:

the earth was yours,
so was the night;

neon and sparkles,
hearing, sight,

a velvet touch,
fedora white.

Michael tell me,
if you know,

what power makes
the dark to glow?

What fancy fake

lie must I tell

to keep dancing
under the stars

you hung so

where they are?

• • •

[June, 2009]

Time Reconsidered

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Until a few years ago, an average of ten
workers performed every one robot’s
current job — instantly bringing radical
agribusiness and archeology to teeter
on the brink of obsolescence, says Bishop
von Beater in a brand-new from M.I.T.
Pediatrics. “Hat tricks aren’t welcome
heater,” says a sign outside his office.
“Zambonis, however,” someone’s penned
below. It’s almost as though wind blow
mango smoothie Spartacus Andronicus.

• • •

Finish This

Friday, February 1, 2019

Not a huge fan of my work.
Like how it’s always irked me
that Jerry Harrison didn’t popularize
himself under the mononym
Jerrison: Or how your
forearm’s velvety skin
could be a silk purse or
a horse’s ass for all I know.
Analogies aren’t exactly my
hotsprings, if you can sniff
not only what I’m steppin’ in
but the chemical spray I’ve been
applying to try to get it off.
Or how literally a million
literallys litter the allies of US
rhetoric, near-wrecking it.
Oh, and I’ve been as unsure
when to hyphenate as you are
ready to pop the question’s
answer both for your own sake
and for the good of others.

• • •

I Sneezed On the Beat

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I sneezed on the beat
and the beat got sicker
and eventually died
because it was from
a remote island, and
its primitive immune
system was no match
for my modern microbes.

• • •

The F-Word

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Curious definite article there;
consider: Freedom, folly, fake news.
“Fudge factory feeding
frenzy! Film at eleven,”
as my cousin Stephen
Smallman used to intone.
Television promises, but

can it deliver? You bet.
Fuck you and your raspberry sorbet,
you and your Neapolitan sherbet.

• • •


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Woke up, got out of bed, fed the dog
to the bigger dog who lives next door
and instantly regretted it. Not that I
loved my dog, but the neighbor dog
is huge like a boat. Like Clifford! She’s
a nuisance we discuss at town meetings.

• • •

The Y

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Just got that feeling I used to get at the Y
post-swim, a hint of chlorine scorching
my maxillary sinuses, walking a bit defeatedly
back to the locker room, and there sat
wrinkled old Father Ken, in full Imago Dei,
astride a bench, humming “Éirinn go Brách”
which technically means “Ireland forever!”
The man didn’t have feet. He’d lost them
serving as an Army chaplain back in Nam.

• • •

The Shimmerer

Monday, January 28, 2019

I feel the way light must feel
When it’s released from prism.

You only do two days, no how:
Day you go in and the day you

Come out. Here I am, though,
Near the Forsyth Park fountain

Counting each ray of sunlight
As something I mist. Misty

Memories hop like my head
Through similes literally all-all,

And I reflect upon you, Breath,
Wisp I didn’t hold: I just saw

A pic of you on the net, and tho’
You are now heavier set, still

You are a light. A sprite. A wight
Flickering through our time

Together, which was brief —
In which a point can be eternal.

Do you know what I mean about
“Time”? Like, it just keeps going.

• • •