Archive for May, 2015

How can we operationalize “freedom?” I think of it as a relatively greater heterogeneity of operants (behaviors related to their consequences).  And the limit of the series, absolute freedom, noumenal freedom, that has been called god or virtue or morality—is that ever a part of our experience?  Beyond what we say to one another?


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as if built by nothing

my hand liked your hand
when it was last night
between waves

a whisper after ocean


transfix me with your rivers
and valleys

one said to the other

my shy embrace

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Omen was a word she learned from grey haired men.
At a tavern no one liked in winter, with a wind cruel and
their broth dangerously close to water. When she crept
up to them by the fire for company, she heard the word
repeated over and over, and found it


When she asked him about it, her teacher merely
brushed snow from his beard and looked
straight ahead at his own view of nothing.

The word eventually

fell by like everything had that winter. She thought that was
just. She thought everything should fall away in due
time when one lives a righteous life. Though perhaps
she was too quick to let go of some things. Like the
child that begged a scrap of bread every morning. Gone.
Like the lover she duped into a night of shelter from the
storm. Gone. Like regret.

The omen, if she’d spoken the long dead mountain language,
was sharp as the teeth on a new kit fox. Was about her.
Was true.

One of the truer ones.

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In one room a man and a woman are meeting for the first time.
their lips are still strangers, and their thoughts blind to the man
next door, who is carefully tearing stripes of paper into heart thin
markers for a grave he designs for himself on the floor
under his bed. They did not plan what is happening to them,
and he hauls the iron bed back in place every morning.

Neither knows where love shall take them.

They know only that they are like everyone else
in similar situations. I doubt they realize
the truth of their situations, nor would they care.

No one can say if it is right or wrong.
Their time has come. They lived more than most.

They may live some little bit more.

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The only woman left to defend nobility these days
wakes each morning to the sound of
her water heater, straining against an inadequate
power grid to bring in her dose of daily relief.
She smells old coffee. A piece of bread
is still downstairs from last night’s dinner.
She walks by the river most of the time, quietly reciting
what she can of Pushkin’s verse in Russian. Who
was like a father to her.

What she remembers.

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Just before we died I liked how calm felt
locked away in the old trees. Do birds
die on the way down?

Or do they sense it quickly and find a bed of moss?

I only ask because it seems I remember sounds, nearly,
that still curl round the twigs of the Meyer lemon
tree you planted after we moved in some
20 odd years ago.

I’ve already said good bye for you

to all the trees in your yard—the impossible pine, the maples
and the transplanted fern. Listen to poetry whenever you can, ok
Dad? It will help you not miss me so much.
O if only wishing were wise enough.

But it’s your life I can’t stop loving.

And I’d rather leave before you arrive. I’d rather die
alone in the desert than see all this happen again.
Though I know the peace you’ve earned is the forever peace.

Dad you’re my oldest friend—let’s go
on talking about things forever.

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I’m still not you on the night you died,
despite months of trying since a man
came for you and the two of us stood around
in your bedroom talking about you for a while without
permission. Strange how we loose all our rights
eventually. Strange how no one

He knew what to do, a man
who saw you only once but still packed
your body carefully in plastic after putting
on a pair of the gloves you always kept in your room
to clean up after yourself.

Who will do this for him someday I wondered.
Who for me.

He gave me your watch and wedding band.

I never wore mine because I couldn’t tolerate cold
strange objects on skin. Maybe I’ll save yours.
Drink some water he told me
when he left.

I’ll take good care of your father.

To the mountains
I said if this wasn’t for your ears
then why were you listening?

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Your eyes were as wide as the night you died in,
ushered along like the choices I hated. What funeral
home to use or how to notify people you loved.
                                                          What to say.

Your skin blue and transparent without its heart, a sky forgotten
opened its arms to a long dead child and church bells
laughed at me alone.

No one stood in line anymore.
No one handed out loose change. You were
the only one who still watered your lawn
at night. And who were we

to burn your body like it was trash?

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With your fingers I follow spell dust on tables
in the house where only sun and sunlight leave their mark,
looking for the lies I know you told yourself
to make night go faster.

When I was 17.

I wish someone had warned me then how suffering
is the only teacher of itself and causation. How cheated
of sight finally Cézanne learned to draw only what he saw
through both eyes.

I would not stage manage even the rain.

Though I worried storm fronts were nothing
but an excuse for wandering under a castle we discovered
to delay your departure by bus in separate directions,
never to love again. Lastly, I whispered to the road that death should keep my promise.

That a dream wine you should drink to guard your door.

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When you kiss me I can’t stop kissing you.

You make me want to write a poem line by line,
bowl a set backwards, knit a cashmere novel or two.

If I die in my sleep will you close my eyes and remember me
to a lively word or two?

Hush, they know the way
through metal, war and paradigm drift—
a long lazy corner for innocents. Just too much for some.

It’s a shadow bombed morning before I walked the dog.
It’s a nature ripped town that tells me what I want:

the darkness of the sky again. Yet another child.
I want a world with no love of fear and no
fear of love. I want another dawn.

But canter gone is the sign of distress.
Hoping I can be a different person
is the clarity of despair.

Please the lord,

are there gifts
so pure even the giver doesn’t get them?

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