there is a perception of threat when a loved one dies

Teach me mortality, frighten me
into the present. Help me to find
the heft of these days. That the nights
will be full enough and my heart feral.

Jack Gilbert, “I Imagine the Gods

“Heart Aches”, Berlin, October 2017

For most of the morning,
a banner declaring I LOVE YOU
hung visible from the hotel window
until housekeeping removed it—
to keep the room unsentimental.

Blue sky so bright, a harbor
to distract my voyeurism. Later,
a business man made a phone call.
Tie, no suit. Shadows from behind the curtain
portend a drama is breaking beneath the horizon.

Cherry blossoms explode on scene.
The trees have begun their spring planning.
Extending their grace & hope forward,
it would be wise for us to start doing the same.
We are well over 900,000 dead & barely counting anymore.

It’s the last week of February.
Angled rooftops, a single pane of glass
holds my wandering perspective.
I’m probably not telling you the right story.
Sun-marked rooms were the sentient witness.

unidentifiable aggression

They made you pay for bread
For sky earth water sleep
And for the poverty
Of your lives.

—Paul Eluard, from “Victory for Guernica”, Selected Poems (bilingual ed. trans. Gilbert Bowen)

Jan Beutener, Ochtend, 1992

In the museum of modern art,
we wanted to see the details—
up close. Moving inches
past the official stand-here line,
we needed to know
how exactly did the artist
capture the depth of pure fear
in the subject’s hyperrealistic eyes.
We knew that fear, frequent and embodied,
from our own ensnared lives
as daughters born from violent men.
The movement of color showing,
with excruciating precision,
how endlessly hollow
the projective space is for deception
like transparent fingers, pointed and sharp,
foolishly optimistic that escalation
is a proven strategy for peace.


I’m begging you. Please don’t use this time wisely.
I want you to waste every swollen second
as your breath catches inside your abandoned throat.

Untitled, Louise Bourgeois, 1999

I’m sure you’ve felt this ineffable pleasure before?
Being unwanted, unseen, silenced: useless reputations.
What these words leave inside you matter to me.

thriving inside all this repetition

God is. July 2018, Berkeley, CA

“Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed.
You will never be lovelier than you are now.
We will never be here again.”
— Homer, The Iliad

Approaching the beginning of an end
is a crossover event. Convergence is likely.

Getting past, moving beyond, over it.
This consistency drowns its own promises.

At frequency, invention pretends tenderness
and, if lucky, courage. A day’s combined darkness.