the Five Poems I read at Vermont Studio Center


This is Duke Energy Progress calling to report that your power has been restored. The problem was determined to be among the following: damage to our equipment; tree across the road; critter in the works; your grubbing neighbor; county board squabble; last one out turned off the lights; Carter administration; Act of God; revolution; rapture; zombies; apocalypse; high water; crossed wires; lack of preparation on our part; litigation; user error; peak oil; vengeance; spite; oversight; negligence; drowsiness. We apologize for your inconvenience. Good-bye.



Inside the mouth: melody, ruin
A man in a white coat dons gloves
And walks refugees toward the light, whistling

Behind the mouth: despair and song
A man in a bib cycles memories of childhood
A battle cry pushing the merry-go-round

And the teeth, the teeth have work to do
They have work to do together
Sure, call it rhythm, call it occlusion

But the man in the white coat has an opinion
He has a solution
Come here, out of the dark, little ones.



The formula A = 10.1e0.005t models the population of Los Angeles, California, A, in millions, t years after 1992. If the same growth rate continues into the future, when will the population reach 13 million?

Let’s start counting heads even this far out. The exits sing neighborhoods of bedrooms and oranges: Redlands, Loma Linda, San Bernardino, Colton, Rialto, Fontana, Didion. Confetti or debris logging another drive in. HOV, Exit Only, Thru Traffic OK. The sequined notes of Caltrans who loves you. Sweetlight catches across the concrete drainage. Eucalyptus silver above dirt yards. And while we won’t mention it, a taco stand shimmers in the distance. Through the chainlink men ring the glitter dust in lawn chairs, lifted to miracle. All of it. Shifting in the wind and on the traffic radio: Ontario, Cucamonga, Upland, Montclair, Claremont, Pomona, and. There but by the grace, you say. The men sing it back to you.



There you are staring out the plate window again
laying your pretty initial mistakes for the day
into the salt flat horizon. Sometimes
one considers a thing beloved long after
it no longer is. Looking out what relief
to be finally able to set things right
the rooftops waving bon voyage to the sea.



Remove your skin, all of its protection and fingerprints.
Dismantle your skeleton, whose posture is luxury.
Bow down, really, bow down.
Ask anything.