from Legal Odes, Sets
“The snake changes its skin / out of honesty.”—Robin Blaser
A little note to the one who in life was known as—
Everybody gets elliptical & us—Hello!—all salutary
under lax or activist statutes,
in the little boat, we read, moves always
towards the perviness & necessity of hope.
Do you reread it regularly? (out past castles)
What kind of a pervert will you be, exactly? (Hard to know
what to do sometimes with family.) Here goes
the refusal that gets outside negation
& affirmation, too—how like
a kind of disturbance décor an epigraph is.
The searing clarity & the searing illegibility of a disturbance.
That it wouldn’t look like relation, love even,
but the always redoubled certainty
that you could learn something
by circling back—but never quite coming—around.
It begins with an epigraph, you say, but you really mean
you’re stuck, so you’re just getting up
& walking away—a change of skin…
My friend who prints dead animals
he collects in a gun safe, my brother’s
snake shooter he wears to Thanksgiving dinner,
& the scholar so illegible to the coherent room:
What enlivens matter inheres
to it but isn’t inherent to it.
In a hug situation, it's a danger, brother.
Another turn “away from what it was
had moved us” perves (alive in that turn).
The real trouble is our being related to converts,
& at the butt hut it’s just curse words & baby talk—
Hey I’m listening, finally,
is all I was saying. You just mean
propositions are where the law gets a poetics
—or religion? I like the one reclassified
smaller thefts as shoplifting…
Basement quote check
for a case on water rights,
telephone mic checks at night w/
a friend over the “vertical American thing”
& one or both mics drop I
still think that guy has no sense but aural.
Elemental fights about owning shit.
Don’t try & make me dizzy & think you’re right
cuz you're just saying it all the time.
Stirred by “defenses illegible to the law,”
cowed by others. Brother’s glad he didn’t interrupt,
so didn’t have to shoot, whoever drove off w/his truck
while it idled in the driveway. We took a twisted filbert
left w/some purloined plants &
abandoned w/the said truck.
Makes me think of Lance again,
who (post-vengeance) suicides by cop & my family
thinks it’s heroic. Situation doesn’t get unfucked.
I was glad to know Rob, but it was never easy,
who imagined a show about this sort of thing
called “Cop Out.” John B. Smith speaks
to a crowd of selfies & Lance
extends the castle doctrine into the world,
while Bernadette makes grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Formal pleasures, edible problems.
Hair getting long, shave beard, leave
mustache, send out for acid westernwear.
Eat affirmation. (Someone else’s mom, etc.)
Digital grief around Kyger’s passing:
just b/c we can do some things
doesn’t mean we should…
So in this play, we’re the gentry.
The wind’s playing the house.
Sign the papers, they hand you headnotes
from the Marshall Trilogy.
Best not to get blameless, I guess.
a job, the poet tells me, defensive
& I don’t
But fuck poets anyway.
Two poets walk into a bar
& nothing remarkable.
2d set: our talk, us failing
around my faithlessness.
The tiresome education
of case law & poets
(its own tired children)
just can’t wait
to get born legible.
But here, thus far, even action,
free-range animals—or later that night—
ibis, coming home. Week-
endings, stepping into his love
letter, missing its sentiment: re
the Petroleum Museum, great folks
That guy out back on a hillside,
playing fetch w/sweet Tulip. Or us in days
at the office (even in this heat) bundled up
for no remarkable change
in precedent, eyes trained on facts
sufficient to state a cause & can’t see
the law’s sentimental like you:
the scholar of the blindspot,
missing even the sideview. (So Ezzie & Clover:
Why does nature hide from us, right?)
Uncertain occupations, notes on
some broken-hearted group.
Whole schools gone into the woods
& nobody comes out famous
or gets a loan from no bank.
Conversion, or personal relation.
In the vaulted love outside, which is
completely striated, hiding up
in a rafters but not living there.
Short dive off a friend’s long pier
(Napa Valley meth confession).
& that myth connection:
always loved how you pronounce
“the real” as “the rill”
& I doubt I ever really get over it.
Here we all go reborn
on Gamal’s sleeveless Thriller T-shirt
(best class picture ever).
Grows up rill cool & lands here anyways.
So to paraphrase:
With / in / strict / form
Jimmy hearts it but doesn’t heart fireworks.
Bob insisted we should be able
to learn something—but boozy or not,
we loved that poem.
Primordial oohs and ahhs
in Ted’s honor (off being his own police).
Sit around try & hollow out
the sentence, thus to holler out
sorry we missed you.
w/a linden you might can make salad,
but these weeds you can’t make shit.
Call it a walkout but don't leave,
just get more spongy.
Violent times, ingesting deaths—
a fucking church how it tracks
or doesn’t, or some other time you touch on:
lunches, from the bench,
from the accessible crawlspace.
House built of cinder
blocks, safety scissors
(for warts), disappearing acts.
Lunch out over the easement.
(Serves us right.)
Really, Charles?—You call that an arabesque?
Go ahead and JUMP, like we’ll miss you.
Not like that other one (missed) who
ripped me off as kids when we swapped tapes
& he took my Tone Loc, whose recently
deceased sister Chella—crushed by advancing
vacuum cleaners when her sales van crashed
— ’s missed. Last I know of other Charles
he's a repo man in Odessa. Junk-making &
Pessoa’s quiet heteronymn: redeemable moves
he’s not really sure about, what ‘talking’ (can’t talk),
& wraps it up anyways, who never deserved nothing
& still begged off, ran off at the mouth,
pulled on up & waited, then maybe even honked,
then just stayed there... Or so sat Leonard, hitting some bells.
Another norm for the heap & 2000 years
of upright fear, fearfully tallied.
O BEGAT! You asking was she (legally)
killed by a joke? (YES.) Anybody’s potsherd,
right Gerry? Isn’t brokenness romantic
(legally speaking)? Only way to make commitments
—all excision, proof text (so true!):
canons b/w sides, for punishment really.
In the car w/Leslie’s were FIGURES (LOW ending)—
sort of oblique land myths—not movable
or immovable either one. O, O, E. K.:
poets ARE dirty. All those unkinged bodies
like bods holding a specter.
The idea of that figure in motion out
from the dugout accuses the dugout
& other Charles goes all Chella, says it’s motion, too,
& prolly sales.
Thus exits the engineering student,
& no one else w/him,
mown down crossing the street. Death,
don’t follow me. (I know you know
I think of you often.) Flashes of, crisis of
memory & my own nursed panic: it’ll be the end of
—no need to remind me—me. Too.
So speed’s another way. Also accident.
Or going all in on purpose, like Jeremy seems,
that year in oncoming traffic, to’ve had to do.
Who missed a lot of church
& then didn’t, stuck on the problem
of putting to study from people
who don’t KNOW shit, who MEAN to.
& seeing him years later,
him asking what did I learn.
(Me: Nothing.) The lesson’s BEEN late anyway,
amounts to maybe form = ideology & the poem’s
just one mess after another. (Best guess:
cleanup’s the same as the collision.) (& always wrecked
by an easy operator.) So (roughly) Coke:
“a man’s own act shuts up his mouth
to allege or plead truth.”
Stolen truck of that Eddie, other Ed’s
intractable malice (who now, whenever I speak,
opens his trap). Or a leap from some porch
renews even estoppel.
(So it’s a confidence ode.)
Trampled Love Ode (per Lispector)
Not for this house
(the most threatening thing).
Protection from odds, contests.
Or, god forbid, interviewing real estate brokers.
Lance w/his gun become finally
800 police. & at the hotel bar
where we met for b-day drinks:
if this wasn’t love
then we drank to water rights? other people’s
perversions? (we couldn’t contain them?)
But we laughed at her defense
(broke his dick w/a can of vegetables)
Not for some bounded ethics,
doubled over, mumbled into.
Mom pours half a Coke over corroded
battery posts, happily drinks
the rest, me looking for a place in the car
for the trash & she (w/o missing a beat)
takes & tosses it out
(This World Is Not My Home)
& general indictment of my thing
as too prissy. The point isn’t
who she voted for, but how voting left her thus
stranded. Everyone’s unacknowledged
of the law as such (as Trixie:
“I wish I was
a fucking tree”).
The inelegant historian, self-styled tragic
lives of starlets & cousin Gwen
(some real misogyny down at the local 7-Eleven).
Craft, little energies
mumbled under the microphone.
The marriage of housing & ideology
Marker’s zone pixelated
back through Cocteau,
back through Pac-Man (before Cocteau),
through Troy before Pac-Man.
Helen “alone, bereft,
and wore no zone, no crown.”
They say it’s melodious (we bathe
in apartment buildings
or in the small ballroom).
Lanterns on the wall,
leave the lifestyle (for its practitioners),
or, failing this humanness,
when an adult, or contemplating
children (points, lives—
This morning’s call from the sonosopher:
where I’m from there’s a saying
that you know where you’re born
but not where you’ll die
(postmarked Orem, UT).
Message grown out from “an egg
of obdurate kind” (not broke
but ripped open: the still-speaking
lovely unrelenting move out
onto the less regulated easement).
(Ode on How We're Still Doing This,
on How We're Doing)
Ode for Cesárea Tinajero
along beside the river
people have things to do
and to come right to it
from the same source wrong
—John Wieners, “World War I Historical Text”
Or the habit of metaphor.
A feeling of peeling it back
to a feeling or the effort
in her early books
inflected by habit (what amounts to
thinking discovering thought,
describing a feeling).
There was this one time
just being there not describing
(wasn’t sure that he’d heard it),
me pointing it out as a value
of being there, just talking
about what we’d been reading
& what we’d learned (anything at all).
That disappearing’s an art, too,
or an option (apart from art)
(I tried to explain).
Like if that was it
(& it might be)
better finally not even to want it,
not do it any more.
butting up against
the wildlife refuge.)
So, different people.
To spend time otherwise
(away fr. “A-straighters”
I was saying, reburied
by that point) (where it showed up)
(mired in that).
To find volunteer friends
(or keep making this shit show).
(vitalism & grief
in the background)
Or buying a car why not,
Michael’s car or anyone’s
(or something swimming)
(Wieners on friendship)
(or the diner poems).
Nobody got nowhere
& it was making me dizzy
how I’d draw any line
& the whole thing
just grew outward
(all directions at once).
So not the house, then (eating itself).
But dwelling? (porous
(as if you could say that here)
Bad poems/bad parenting,
or happily childless.
Not “the grain of the voice”
but more like the grain
& the cough
& the habit
as remarkable fact.
Dispersal or (I was saying)
declination—disappearing act, even.
As “right living.”
Him saying it’ll be plain or not
but that’s you choosing:
the small repetitions
(the quiet refrain you’d toyed with
left in a donation bin).
Even getting all fancy won’t solve it.
We might be the sunset commission.
Then they’d need us
if they thought about it.
Me: Need’s short shelf-life anyway.
(shitty terms we’d over-accepted)
Not art but land
speculation (or this house-painting).
You, making up instances
or really drunk, showing your cards.
For ex., the weirdness
of the Cuba link
(“actually really personal”).
Like we’d skipped ahead in the book
or just skipped out.
An interesting life?
Make the bed (even Max saw through),
forego the Brit, the undertaker,
& keep on socializing.
So the poem’s over?
How it should have ended
(10 pgs. earlier).
The poet has a big
heart or not (same diff), this first
real snow, what we don’t know
in the first pl. about
Space we take up in that.