Nimble, aerated and self-consciously tongue-in-check, the language in Noelle Kocot’s most recent collection, The Bigger World, might suggest that she belongs to the tradition of the American Surreal: “When she met Roy Willbathe, Mary / Was as happy as a slice of snowy / Cheese,” she writes. But to approach Kocot as a surrealist would be to neglect other significances at play in her work. Despite William Carlos Williams’s admonition that it is difficult to get the news from poetry, Kocot’s poetry can be viewed as representative, or even symptomatic, of our times. There seem to be a few noteworthy poets in every generation, those who channel the zeitgeist from a clarifying distance, an artful remove. Noelle Kocot may well belong to this tradition, idiosyncratically charting our collective unconscious as we move through the end of one age and into the unsteady, overwhelming beginning of the next.

Kocot’s poetry registers not only changes wrought by the Age of Information, but also murky and vexed American attitudes towards faith, art, politics, and subjectivity. “I have my finger on the pulse of something,” she remarks in her second collection, The Raving Fortune (2004). Multifarious, her body of work is not easily categorized; by turns witty, imagistic, wry, eloquent, emotional and even confessional, her poems span the spectrum of current poetic trends, but they always push against the limits traditionally imposed by the lyric. Kocot’s first book, 4, (2001) winner of the Levis Poetry Prize, is perhaps her most intimate and personal, and yet even there Kocot considers what she refers to as “our collective breath.” “I have taken,” she writes, “the terrible oath to discern among the forms / That what lives dies, and what dies lives.”

Kocot’s commitment to bearing witness has grown more piercing with each successive collection. Remarkably prolific, she has published five books in the last decade, each more broadly located than the last. Poem for the End of Time (2006) is her most ambitious: in the lengthy, Whitmanesque title poem, she proclaims, “America I am the guardian of your secrets.” In the hands of a less capable and complex poet, this tendency to speak for society at large could be seen as arrogant, presumptuous, sensational, or even patronizing. But Kocot’s tone is never authoritarian or finger-wagging; rather, she is willing to cajole and confess, begging “O God rebuild my church / It is weird and dark and cold in here.” Her pleas balance her imprecations, such as “America Mother Hell and Father Lie / have poisoned all the apple pie.” Another source for Kocot’s authority may be the startling degree of personal suffering she has endured in her four decades: In addition to having lived with bipolar disorder, she was widowed while still in her 30s when her husband Damon Tomblin succumbed to a drug overdose. Kocot’s intimate experience of profound grief, along with her sustained Catholic faith, seems to have conferred upon her a rare and compelling empathy. Perhaps Kocot has defined this empathy best herself, asserting that she engages in “a savage listening.” And as she listens, she reports back. If such things exist, she may be one of the recording angels of our age.

—Amy Newlove Schroeder

Amy Newlove Schroeder: Your “Poem for the End of Time” might be a masterpiece of our time. Natural comparisons have been drawn to Whitman and Ginsberg, because your poem is a long, capacious rant; it bursts with sorrow and rage and allusions and confessions and pleas and blessings. Do you feel that we are living at the end of an age? Do we have the unfortunate fate of watching one episteme end and another begin? Is that actually unfortunate?

Noelle Kocot: Thank you so very much. I do believe that we are at the end of an episteme—Foucault even alluded to this in his “Les Mots et Les Choses” (The Order of Things). I feel incredibly fortunate to be alive now on a personal level, because, let’s face it, though the world is really falling apart, I am thankful I can be here as a witness and a consoler. I am also very thankful that, usually, in times of great upheaval, artists thrive on a personal level more than they do when society is more “stable.” While the upheaval is causing great distress to very many people on the planet, including myself, it is part of a progression of all types of unfortunate practices and events that have come before, such as the raping of this planet and its resources. In a Chomskyan sense, we should be aware that the mass media dictates to citizens any number of mindless distractions that, piece by piece, are stripping us of our basic human rights and dignity. And though I am not anti-capitalist per se, (as in, selling something for a profit), the corporations have just gone way too far for way too long without enough regulations, and I believe that is at the center of what is wrong with the world. The quotation is not, “Money is the root of all evil”—it’s “Love of money is the root of all evil.”

ANS: In what ways do you think artists thrive through instability? Do our words matter more in such times? Or are we more inspired? And when you say “all sorts of practices and events that have come before,” to what are you referring? It kind of reminds me of Yeats’ gyres and cycles of history…

NK: Most artists are what most people would call weird, and when the world is upside down, it’s easier to blend in without feeling like there is something wrong with us. I think of Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California,” a poem which could never be written in 2012. I am talking about the great cycles of history, the gyres. And when I say I am not opposed to capitalism, I mean that I am not opposed to someone selling something for a profit, but I just want to make very clear that I think that universal healthcare and taking care of the poor should be some of our highest priorities.

ANS: The words that seem to recur most frequently in “Poem for the End of Time” are “my neighborhood.” Who lives in that neighborhood? It seems the term acts as synecdoche for all America, or even the world, and yet at the same time it feels fittingly postmodern, as if to acknowledge the way 21st century life seems to occur on a shrunken scale. What is it about the word “neighborhood” that seems so fitting for a poem about the apocalypse?

NK: I need to clear something up first—I wrote “Poem for the End of Time” in January of 2000, four years before my husband Damon's death. It was published in The Iowa Review in 2003. A lot of people think I wrote that poem about my husband's death, but I didn't. There was nothing particularly wrong with him at the time I wrote it. The poem was a vision of things to come, including his demise, though I couldn’t make sense out of what it meant when I wrote the poem. And to tell you the truth, I have never consciously thought about what “my neighborhood” might mean in the context of the poem. I think it is just a safe space where things occur and people go about their business, and I had a vision of everything just being wrecked, and yes, the apocalypse. I did have visions of the apocalypse when I wrote that poem. I don’t really know what to say about that.

ANS: Sorry if I’m pressing you here—you don’t have to answer. But I am very interested: When you say visions, what did you see or hear? Did the visions translate into the poem?

NK: It was all just before I went into Bellevue and got diagnosed with manic depression when I was actually in a mania, and I had all kinds of strange visions when I was writing “Poem for the End of Time.” I wrote it over a period of about eight hours, and was frantically writing and writing, all over Rockefeller Center, where I worked in finance. I went into St. Patrick’s Cathedral and wrote for a while and saw what I thought was the spirit of Allen Ginsberg. I saw signs on the street in different languages. I saw piles and piles of rubble and buildings collapsing. I saw immense fires all over the world. I saw tremendous earthquakes and floods. Just devastation after devastation, and as I saw these things, I wrote what was “dictated” to me—I say dictated, because there seemed to be zero conscious thought in writing that poem. My visions continued until I was put on lithium and another drug to pull me down off of this horrible journey. When it was all over with, I couldn’t even look at the poem for a few years.

ANS: Throughout your work, I sense a constant oscillation in cadence, subject and diction—you shift nimbly from the sublime to the quotidian, from the lyric to the wackily weird, from dark to light, from sorrow to joy. Does your poetic impulse derive from these shifts, or from the interstices between them, between “the corners of the wind”?

NK: I think that’s just the way my mind works! That’s how I really do think on a day to day basis. It sometimes makes it hard to concentrate on the task at hand, but really, I love the feeling of never-ending shifts, the all-overness of feeling I have in a given day. I am manic-depressive, as you probably know, but I've been stable on medication now for 12 years, and I don't have any problems from it anymore, but I do have all of the joys of having an unusual mind that gives me great pleasure, and hopefully, some others, too!

ANS: So it sounds as though you feel like your poetry mimics your mind. I know many poets refuse medication because they fear that it will inhibit their creativity—did you ever worry about that?

NK: I did worry when I was first on medication that it would inhibit my creativity—I worried a lot about it for about a year, but I just kept writing anyway, and with every new poem, I saw that it was not the case at all, but probably made me a much better and consistently more productive poet to have complete mental and emotional stability. I was told that the reason I am bipolar is because my brain lacks certain minerals, and the medication replaces those minerals. So, it’s not a psychological condition, it’s completely physiological, like someone having a heart condition, so I feel like I have nothing to be discreet about or ashamed about in having it. There is no stigma attached to it for me at all. I definitely do not feel like being bipolar has made me a poet—I was a very happy and stable child, and I started writing poetry “seriously” at four years old. It wasn’t until much later that I had any symptoms of manic depression. I believe I am a poet because I have the soul of a poet, as well as a lot of inherited natural linguistic capabilities. Also, poetry is so portable, and I think that is why I was so attracted to it, say, as opposed to painting, which I also did very well, or music, which I always loved. I’m just an artist—the manic depression is incidental and doesn't bother me anymore at all, but it may give me a little extra of something when I approach the page at this point in my life.

ANS: Your work, perhaps because it seems to be inflected by both theory and philosophy, reminds me of Coleridge’s famous statement: “Poetry, even that of the loftiest and seemingly, that of the wildest odes, had a logic of its own, as severe as that of science; and more difficult, because more subtle, more complex, and dependent on more, and more fugitive causes.” How do you understand the logic of poetry? Or maybe I should ask, what is the relationship between poetry and philosophy?

NK: I’m not sure of the exact relationship, but when I was younger, I did read tons of philosophy, and it really synched with my fundamental way of writing. In particular, I was extremely influenced by Heidegger and Foucault, the latter, not strictly a philosopher, but he drew on philosophy to write his historical studies. I find a lot of philosophy to be incredibly poetic, and I tend to see shapes and color as I am reading it, though the logic is something I really used to strain to follow and master. To be a philosopher, of course, is to be “a lover of wisdom and a seeker of truth.” In that sense, anyone who has that aim is a philosopher, including poets. But I really believe that kindness is the highest form of wisdom, and in that sense, though they have totally different phenomenologies, poetry and philosophy are the same, in the ineffable.

ANS: Can you tell me more about seeing shapes and colors when you read philosophy? Is it a kind of synesthesia?

NK: It is exactly synesthesia; I couldn’t have summed it up any better!

ANS: One of the things that is most compelling to me about your work is the deep and complex strain of religious feeling. In some ways, it reminds me of Dickinson’s ambivalence about faith. And, although I think it is highly irregular (and probably in poor taste) for the interviewer to include her own personal experience, I am going to go ahead and do it anyway for the purpose of this question: I am a Christian poet. Or probably I should say I am a Christian and a poet. In any event, when readers or acquaintances learn this, they are sometimes surprised or even put off, as though I had just revealed that I suffered from head lice. What has your experience been as a poet who frequently writes about, alludes to, contemplates, argues with, and even beseeches God?

NK: I think that people react that way when you say you are a Christian poet has to do with the hypocrisy associated with extrinsic Christianity, especially in this country. I am Christian, which, to me, means that all beings should be treated with love and compassion, and that I have Jesus as my example and my guide. Unfortunately, a lot of people who call themselves Christians are very hypocritical—they’ll throw around Jesus’s name, and take parts of the Bible and use them as weapons against people and causes they don't like, but they do not have love in their hearts. Most people who are associated with our field have their hair stand on end when Christianity is mentioned, not because they don't believe in its tenets, but because Christianity has become so incredibly perverted from its original message. I am Catholic. By nature, I am contemplative. By nature and habit, I try to be extremely charitable. My belief in Jesus as my savior makes me want to strive for excellence with regard to my dealings with other people. Any religion can become harmful and perverted, but I think the reason why Christianity is so incredibly despised in our circles is precisely because at its heart is a message of true love and hope, but so many “practitioners” do the exact opposite. And Jesus was incredibly hard on hypocrisy—it was the only sin he was really hard on. And if I ever had anything bad said about me with regard to my spiritual beliefs, it must have been done behind my back, because no one ever said anything negative to my face about it.

ANS: Your mention of hypocrisy makes me think about the fact that a lot of the poets and academics I know who are allergic to Jesus are often quite invested in other forms of the supernatural—I feel like I often hear people say “The Universe is leading me” or “I’m just letting the Universe guide me.” Have you encountered that, or anything like that?

NK: Oh yeah, definitely, and I think it’s so wonderful that everyone can have his or her own conception of the Creator. It’s actually very beautiful to me, one of the most beautiful things about being human.

ANS: Do you think that poems are like prayers? (I guess this would require a definition of how you view prayer.) And to ask you an extraordinarily personal question, do you believe that God hears our prayers? Does He hear our poems?

NK: I think poems are a lot like prayers in that they involve a lot of meditation, a lot of listening, and also an assertion of our highest wills. Definitely, I think the Lord hears our prayers and our poems and everything we hope for and dream about and think and do. I also believe God hears our prayers and also any number of saints, and the Blessed Mother, our loved ones who have gone on, and that they all intercede on our behalf constantly.

ANS: Can you define “highest will”?

NK: That would take a book, but I will say, it’s the very best thing in all of us when we approach our art.

ANS: I have read that you found the experience of writing “Poem for the End of Time” frightening, that it came to you as a form of automatic writing. I think readers of the poem might have the opposite reaction, finding it thrilling, energizing, consoling, as it acknowledges so many troubling aspects of our contemporary life. How do you handle such a dichotomy—what do you do when readers feel differently about your work than you do?

NK: I actually enjoy it that my poems can have a life of their own, a life apart from me. It’s like when someone has a child, and they see all of these things about their child, but in school, maybe, people see things totally differently. I love it that my poems can mean something different to people than I had experienced or intended, especially that poem, which was so monstrous to me when I wrote it.

ANS: Your work has an assertive, emphatic absurdist quality. For example, “‘Your dizzy is my dizzy,’ she said. / And ‘I’ll give you a swift kick in the apocrypha.’” It feels to me that there is something slightly tricky about this quality. Do you use the absurd as a means to approach the subject indirectly? Or do you use the absurd because it feels like that is now the only genuine method of approaching the subject?

NK: I use the absurd because that’s just how I think sometimes. I never think consciously about what I am writing—what comes out, comes out, and that is the end of the story for me. I write in all kinds of different modes, absurd, confessional, lyric, whatever, and it’s all because that was what was necessary at the time when I wrote it. I do not analyze my own work at all. I leave that to other people!

ANS: The book you wrote in the wake of your husband’s death, Sunny Wednesday, is painful to read, filled with elegies that are simultaneously ragged, raw and achingly lovely. They also feel accurate: “And that I am very very tired / But not asleep, love, I am not asleep.” Those lines (and many others in the collection) describe grief’s endlessness, its exhaustive recurrence. Did you find that writing these poems helped you to cope with grief? Or did they, as I believe Louise Glück has asserted, offer a means of clarity, rather than consolation?

NK: No, those poems definitely consoled me to write. I don’t know what I would have done without poetry in the wake of Damon’s death, art in general, actually. They got me through.

ANS: You were widowed at a very young age—would you like to say anything about your loss?

NK: It was savage, dangerous and purifying and the aftermath was filled with peril and with love. It continues to reshape itself throughout the years. I can’t really put it all into words, but I feel as if, whatever really happens after death, I am always with my husband Damon and will always be. Damon’s death taught me to relinquish control and live in the Unknown.

ANS: When I have written about painful things (which it seems I often have!), I have felt as though that meant that at least the pain meant something, or could be used for something. What I mean to say is that poetry transformed me and the subject matter. Does this ring true for you?

NK: Yes, totally. I want my experience of pain to be able to heal others. I want my poetry to console. This is one of the biggest reasons I continue to write poetry, aside from my own personal need to write them.

ANS: What you say hear is interesting about “trying to keep up with your thoughts”—does it feel difficult to keep up with them? Do you worry about losing ideas if you don’t write them down? (My own practice is different—I’m a binge poet—I don’t write for a long time, and then I write a lot. So I’m always interested in people who write every day. I wish I could!)

NK: I used to be a binge poet till I was widowed. Then, I found I had something to say at least every day in poetry. I don’t worry about losing ideas, but then I don't worry that much in general anymore. If I go to sleep and a cool phrase comes to me, it depends on how lazy I feel, like if I will write it down or not. That is the only time I think I might lose ideas, because I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go.

ANS: Your collection The Bigger World seems like a modern take on Edgar Lee Masters—character portrait after character portrait, with careful and sometimes hilarious detail. “Rick was a polyamorous shaman,” for instance, or Seymour, who meets a naked nun and asks “Hey, what kind of / Dominoes you slicing?” Do you see these as persona poems? Do you see these characters as different embodiments of the same people, like refractions of light in cut glass? Or are they the people who live in your neighborhood?

NK: They are persona poems—I just kept calling them character poems. I think the characters were embodiments of mental states I happened to inhabit at the time when I wrote them. I also used to love to make up stories that there were different people living in my neighborhood in South Brooklyn where I grew up, and I loved to fool my family all the time about stuff like this. I really don't know where that book came from—it just came, and it was really compelling as I was writing the poems for it, though I did not consciously set out to publish a book of them. I needed badly after grieving so much to see that I still had negative capability, that life wasn't all about me and my struggles, and my husband and his.

ANS: That is a really good way of describing grief—that you can feel locked in, like there is nothing beyond the pain. Did reading help as much as writing?

NK: No, I couldn’t read for nearly five years after my husband died, not a book anyway, but I did read a lot of articles. But from the time I was about ten until I was 34, I read about a book a day and sometimes a lot more, so I guess that for those five years where I couldn't concentrate for long enough to read, it was okay because I had read so much before.

ANS: “—Why all this irony? —Are you enjoying the view?”

NK: Oh, “Bad Aliens”! That’s from my first book— thank you for reading it. That’s a poem about some really severe types of child abuse someone close to me endured, not about aliens at all. I had to mask what I wanted to say, and I guess that ending was my twenty-six year old way of saying fuck you to anyone who didn’t believe those types of atrocities really happen and continue to happen. And I really used to hate irony when I was younger, though now, I appreciate it a little more, if well-used.

ANS: What does it mean to use irony well?

NK: To not be disdainful with it, while at the same time, making its point.

ANS: Your first book makes a lot of the numeral 4. And you refer to that number elsewhere in your work as well. I have a sense that the number refers to the Trinity, plus the self, but I’d like to hear what it signifies to you.

NK: I have definitely thought about what you are saying, but really, the number 4 to me, when I was three years old, was the Holy Spirit. I used to imagine a big blue number 4, and it was that, but it’s also the Trinity put together plus something mysterious. Maybe the self is mysterious, too.

ANS: Which poets do you read most often?

NK: Whatever strikes me to read—I do read a lot of the same stuff over and over again, Williams, Stevens, Bishop, Jarrell, Langston Hughes, Ginsberg, Trakl, “all the French ones,” Cesar Vallejo, and practically all the poets associated with my publishing house. The list is just endless. I also like reading journals as well, and will order bunches of them at a time.

ANS: Supporting oneself financially is the age-old poet’s problem. What do you do for work?

NK: Oh wow, I am currently an adjunct in English Composition at a couple of places. I spent most of my thirties totally decimated from my husband's death, while my friends were busy furthering their careers. I just couldn't do it. Then, when I hit 40 (I'm 42 now), I moved to the wilds of New Jersey from Brooklyn and really got my life together again, but now with the economy being what it is, it's harder to get jobs, though I know some people can still do it. Even though I thoroughly enjoy my jobs when I am there, both the work on improving my students’ writing and my interactions with them, I am so ready for some really great, challenging work having to do with poetry I have sent out numerous applications over the past few years—I really hope someone will hire me!

ANS: I have read that you do not revise; instead, you keep writing and writing new poems until you are satisfied. Have you found that this method is more energizing than going back again and again to the already written? Or is this the practice that feels most natural to you?

NK: I guess both, it’s pretty energizing for me—I write at least one poem a day, sometimes (rarely, though) ten poems a day. I almost never go back and look at what I write, except maybe for submission purposes. It feels very natural, and I feel like I’m always writing and writing to keep up with my thoughts and whatever ontological space I happen to be in. I feel like I am a record-keeper of these things. For whom? I don’t even know.

The Descent Into the Human

Confess: no.
Peripatetic waves: no.

Incandescence of a single flower
Outside the mailbox is green.

The status
Is only evasion,

But the blooms still fall.

Gone now, washed into forgetfulness.

Over a hillock,
Under a knee,
The disjointed renderings.

Paint it still
With no mind.

Grass cuts itself
On an aeon
And we do bend down.

Life without murder is a _________.

Go without saying it,
Follow a dredgy song.

The leaves barely open,
Yet the clock moves away.

Frere, you are my bosom
With no white petals.

The letter never sent, you found.

A cat with a bent tail
Wanders through it:

Opine at will.
There is an engine in flames

In the night sky,
It revs us up with it.

If we do drink out of a cup,
The cup saves us,

But the wind still blows us

Without a pen,
We are armed.

The little pieces the cat eats
Are only wishes,

We take them into us at night.
And so.

And so we get filled
In our way.

The shooting stars in your black hair–
Love is not a season

After all.


Riddled with blue ink
Surviving the tresses,

A hoot-owl coughs once
The balmy and the farm

Are wrought with glue.
Save it:

The shoe is on the land
Without us.

Tree standing alone
Amid a stranger's flowered field,

Pockets with a hole and a funny noise
Ekes out the scope

Of centuries that fly.
Diamond and its antecedent,

Come quickly.
Out of here,

We know we will number
The feathers.

No bird in a turtle,
No asking of the fetid vows,

There is a fluffy thing braceleting
Your hair.

We take it all into our mouths,
And when they close,

A bird flies out and sings.
One is two:

Grasp the livened vegetable
And eat,

But do not touch:
The hunger will be all

You ever need.


On fire with the mouths
Of sages,

The ring stares back
From a clothing hook.

Thimble! Thimble!
We cry unto nothing.

A red thing droops twice,
A flummoxed hill

Weeps across a mile.
Gloat over something

Intractable, something lying
In the sand’s

Dune clouded by mist,

We pick each other out
We pick each other out
As the lemon drips randomly.

Above us, a vee of geese.
There is nothing

More to be said,
And yet, the kind phrases

Of nightfall play on.
Volcanic sweat,

The lava unpretentious,
A swinging light chimes

Like spittle.
Viscosity without pride,

Pride without its smooth curtains,
One asks if there is a minute

On a blooming plant.
The hands lift lovely,

And the breezes through
The curtains

Sway us back.
No life without us,

Or is that a myth,
Golden in a flock of time?

Come here to the trough.
Stick your arm into the flame,

But remember, Orpheus
Looked back, too.


The cow in the grass
Shed her udders

And then viewed them!
The ravioli

Party size kept us for
Eight years,

And then we went to sleep.
Eight years,

Confessing confessing,
Which is not the opposite

Of silence.
The tree shed its shadows

Like a dress,
And the dark river of roots

Buoyed us.
Sunset was no flame.

Sunset was a blood pudding
With no sauce.

Loving without receiving is best,
But even we need

To eat the crumbs sometimes.
Wash of light,

Dishtowel dirty with morning,
Where were we?

The jug is a ewer
We will never climb,

Like a destiny
Sprinkled over us like mulch.

The lettuce is dry,
But the bananas are weeping

In their plastic bags.
The juice kept,

But something else shivered
Until it exploded,

And it wasn’t us,
Strange and intimate

As a missing roof.
We offer ourselves

To a lighter pile
And grimace downward

To our long-awaited


Illuminated dogwoods,
Legs dividing,

We have conquered a small
Patch of pavement.

Streetlamps intertwined like swans,
Our necks ache.

Someone is transmuting something
Again, and there it goes

In the stark sunlight,
In the telluric dark.

Banished from what suits us,
We are all in a random

Prerecording our futures

Without one thought of ourselves.
Cut. Cut.

There, and see! The simple
Have ordained

The little pieces,
The hairs of feathers

Stabbing us in our chins.
No one else is there,

But the llamas who graze,
Or something about llamas.

The pen is out of ink,
But the lips are still moving.

Crystal prayer beads shine
In the sunlight,

One, two, three,

Without a wing
That is only one.


Frugal sleep in a darkened

We are mushrooms who have
Lost their crowns.

Stop: death always has
One seat left.

The strands of vowels
Against your back,

The consonants echoing
Through the trees.

Life without reason is a
Rotten fruit,

And we its seeds.
Or, come back to the gloaming,

Where a ghost draped in white
Is waiting for you,

Figure out which comes first,
Birth or the salt

Of birth.
Love lies in a gold box,

And sets us
In the shade of a mountain.

Too often, there is the call
Of weeds,

And we stab the body
With pins

Looking for them.
In this way, I pray

That only the fat watches
Of insurance salesmen

Will tell you the time
Of the time of the time.

In this, I release us
Into the blue air,

Together, always together,
Kind and simple cats,

And remember, the front door
Is always open,

As well as the back door.
The light in the window is on.


The interiority of the flesh
Is a pastel color.

Limes open.
The first thing I notice

About you is your nose,
Almost no nose at all.

The flesh cries,
We stroke its tears away

One at a time,
And then go back to reading

Our thick books,
While the spaghetti is done being raised.

Dinner: the sober instruments
Of torture on the table,

But even our book and glasses
Are there, too.

And we are there, too,
Or are we in the simulacrum

Of Disney World
In a neighbor’s basement?

Dream like Dali,
Dream like a sociopath dreams.

Let it all go into a cosmic

Let the saffron leaves
Fall around your feet.


Educating oneself
Is a task filled with peril.

We go along, reading the signs,
Understanding nothing.

Pink blossoms catch our eyes,
And the day-lilies continue to come up.

We have learned more from
Doing the task at hand,

And there is too much glittering

To see the glittering starlight.
How long I tried to fix

What wasn't broken,
The guilt led my way.

My reward:
Emptiness in my head,

And no sticktivity
To write even these words.

Eggs all rotten and yellow now,
Stomach bulging,

I sing songs of praise
To the whole universe,

And all I had to do
Was to step out

Of the open cage
Into the day,

Honestly and completely,
And without a shred of pride


The hues were singing
like a soprano

Over a senseless sun
Of vaguely wavy waves,

And all was as inaccurate
As a fresco of nudes

With their vacant
Looks of love.

The ticket exploded
Without excuses,

And we stood there,
Marveling at our handiwork.

In much the same way,
We let go of everything,

And are now letting it
Come back

Piece by piece.
Boodgye, boodgye

My precious ones,
And hello as well–

Only a cigarette will do
On this occasion,

Bleeding through the lit paper
In this dawn that is descending,

This dawnlessness of
Which we speak.

The already-said is starting
To arise,

And the trees turn and bend
Their rubbery heads

And are tossed
Toward us.

Boodgye, boodgye,
And don't forget to write,

Pluck a feather from the first
Bird you see,

And let it go,
With all my good intentions.