In the Future

when you die

or are found

dy                ing

 

there will be an expert

a digital historian

poking at your retina

browsing through the light

roaming about your thoughts

but

only if you’re special

you see because they’ll see the history

of your mind

the collective human web

browsing history

scrolling down the info

of your spine

cause what’s it all for if not for

documenting a life transferred

from space to space-less-ness

then when we all scroll down

your paper skin pages

you’ll be immortal

if only for a little while

Approaching

we’re bathed in starlight

the approaching Atlantic

 

somehow separating our future selves

tearing our vessels apart

 

he and I are both gossamer

compared to what’s ahead

 

but more so my friend

as his step is really a trot

 

as we are two different kinds of beings

still I feel something every time our eyes meet

 

in doing this we simultaneously slip on ice

then catch ourselves

 

I with my feet

he with his paws

 

and so we continue like nothing happened

waiting while walking to encounter

 

the vast and inconceivable ocean

although he does not see this yet but smells

 

the sea’s salty breath

he is content

 

in the sparse topography of this crest

soon we find the end of land

 

I hold him in my hands

against the backdrop of blended sky and water

 

feeling his heartbeat

and wondering if Orion’s Belt is proof of eternal life

Just Another Requiem

A thrush picks at plastic

as chemicals cement both ends of beak.

 

The flutter of wings travel past sound

not faster, making gentle things

 

in the mind behind and beyond

machines speeding down the street.

 

An unassuming bird leveled

by artificial friction.

 

Maybe their end already went,

and this is just another requiem.

Denying All-Encompassing Meaninglessness

Every day I try to maintain or reconfigure my poetic compass. Although I don’t necessarily write a poem once a day. I like the idea of writing poetry each and every day, like William Stafford did, but I think choosing not to write a poem at a given moment can do as much nurturing as writing one would. I went to a reading where Curtis Bauer mentioned this as an important question that the poet needs to ask, should I write this thought or experience as a poem? I find that if I internalize a subject, a poetic idea in particular, then all different perspectives of it brew in my mind, sometimes subconsciously, and so I’ll get to the point where the poem blooms out of me seemingly spontaneously. Yet how can this be true? Shouldn’t the poet be content with attempting to create something out of nothing at the moment the idea sprouts? That’s true, but there needs to be a reason for searching for reason.

For me, not writing a poem helps me think poetically. Much of my poetry has to do with observation, hence relating external reality to internal semi-reality. I used to think that there was no such thing as objective, external truth. Surprisingly enough poetry has changed that for me. I hear people say that poetry is the most subjective form of expression when it comes to literature, and I couldn’t disagree more. Good poetry should strive to be universal. And no, I don’t claim to believe now that poetry is in the business of telling the truth, not only because that’s cliché, but because it’s insincere when poets exclaim that, and also not humble. Apparently the mindset for many in contemporary poetry is that you’re in one of two camps: the self righteous truth-seekers, or the insincere, excessive irony users. I’m not explicitly in the business of irony because that’s all been said and done before. America’s popular culture and capitalist society are irony-laden enough already, there’s no reason to unnecessarily inject more into the mix.

What’s the point of irony if you’re only unveiling something that’s thinly veiled? I’ll be honest; my poems are often dotted with observations of the ironic. Take On a Corner of “the French Quarter” for example. It’s a poem that at first sight is simply observational, a street scene, one that is stated to be insignificant in the first line. But there’s more to it underneath. “A cameraman from Channel 6 Action News/films insignificance on/the corner of 18th and Walnut./A police car is parked in front/of TD Bank across the street./The trash can named/’Big Belly Solar Compactor’/overflows with debris and graffiti/has been sprayed on the side.”

These first three images belie irony because they allude to larger societal problems that can be seen in the dichotomy between the rich people strutting around and those who come up to me asking for a cigarette or spare change at the end of the poem. The cameraman is filming a supposedly innocuous street scene that in reality portrays the outward signs of income disparity in a section of the city that caters to the upper class. The police aren’t protecting people but banks. The supposedly high tech, “green” trash compactor doesn’t do its intended job and has been reclaimed by the streets with a graffiti tag. These are just two images that are at first only observational but then become ironic given societal implications.

And yet the irony in this poem is not overblown and not meant to be obfuscating. It’s even originally unintentional, as I set out to simply describe what was happening before me. Yet as I revised the poem I arrived at a point where I was able to extract meaning out of the seemingly mundane, the otherwise insignificant. I realized that the poem reflected a nurturing step on my poetic path. My goal is to reconcile truth and irony, and in order to do that I must nurture my writing at times by not writing, but thinking poetically. I try to analyze the world around me because there is meaning in the mundane. And doing so helps me fight against nihilism, which is the reason why I write poetry in the first place.

Kierkegaard wrote about overcoming what he called levelling, which is similar to nihilism. Sketch by Christian Olavius Zeuthen.

Kierkegaard wrote about overcoming what he called levelling, which is similar to nihilism. Sketch by Christian Olavius Zeuthen.

The Pen as an Archeological Oddity

we are unable inexpressible   /           repression filled          high-(non)-functional             humans

there’s a change in perception

this abrupt       shift                in worlds has happened before,        but it’s drastic now

the way the pen rests on a table,       horizontally

beckoning, enticing our former species

it’s not that we have broken hands but broken minds

they’re see-through in order to view                                                 ink deplete gradually

the pen, an instrument of serenity                 in that even the                       motion

the gyration of the wrist

causes tiny muscles to stretch and constrict

possessed by the pen

yet all of that is only memory            now, perhaps that feeling of oneness

with the inanimate is              just a ploy of our desire,                     our half-artificial brains

lusting primitivism again

or rather hands                       that beckon                             to be of use

we are not       glorifying a utilitarian                                                 object

applying          ink to page     via gravity

nothing less yet           there’s something more about this that cannot be expressed

when we see   the pen in our new minds       physicality isn’t there

more   like a   medium

                                                to

                                                            be