The poem is not a puzzle.
The poem is not a secret language.
The poem has no audience.
The poem has no dictionary.
The poem holds you up.
The poem returns.
The poem is day being day.
The poem is night being night.
The poem enjoys.
The poem changes.
The poem fights fair.
The poem is not a butterfly.
The poem comes for you.
The poem comes clean.
The poem is innocence.
The poem stings.
The poem walks.
The poem is the teacher.
The poem takes time.
The poem cannot be taught.
The poem has you.
The poem will not be summoned.
The poem is understood.
The poem has no craft.
The poem tells on itself.
The poem has its own timetable.
The poem has no plot.
The poem entertains.
The poem has no past.
The poem is for everyone.
The poem comes with a knife not a gun.
The poem is not its words.
The poem on the page is the corpse of the poem.
The poem is the judge.
The poem is evidence.
The poem cannot be written.
Time is the poem's subplot.

The poem can only say.
Least important with regard to a poem is the poem.

Practice

Poetry is more a spiritual practice than a literary art form.

Knowledge

Art must show us something we don't know not simply confirm our existing understanding.

No War Between Art and Science

I’m a professional computer programmer and a poet. Some see a battle between contemporary data science and the humanities, but I do not. To the contrary, I believe that technical science uninformed by the arts and the humanities is a soulless project. It’s a meme propagated by corporate types seeking to build labor pools of unaware, compliant technicians. But those are the very people unable to create software that is alive and inventive and which reflects real human psychology.


There are several poems about work in American Software, but I think Day Shift at the Hula Hoop Factory pretty much captures the feel of the modern workplace.

Last year I visited the city of Miletus in Turkey. Home of the first scientist. What did I find there? An ancient theater. We are science makers and story tellers.

American Software Getting Published

Sometime around 11:00 pm on January 6, 2016, as I was taking a last look at the internet before going to sleep, an email came in with the subject line "American Software". I'd come to hate emails like this because I was tired of reading how much this or that press had liked my poetry colleciton while hoping that it would find a "home" elsewhere. But not this time.

In a brief email WordTech Communications, LLC. advised that they had accepted my collection and that if I accepted the terms of their agreement, it would be published sometime around April of 2017.

I'm an experimental writer, which is also a way of saying I'm a defiant writer. Almost all of the pleasure of being a poet has come in the process of discovering something entirely new and then sharing it with others like a dare - I'll bet you've never seen or heard anything like this before. I'm not a craft person, a wordsmith or literary technician. I have no MFA, no agent and no literary connections. It's not a good way to get your work published. So when I read that email on that night back in January, for the first time I had the feeling that this is going to get done. The book is going to come out.

EMMA WEDGWOOD DARWIN [ALONE IN HER WRITING CHAMBER, JUNE 4, 1856]

My Dear Charles >> I keep finding your papers in the most shameful places >> under the silverware case >> behind the tea cabinet >> in the water closet (oh, Charles) >> and tho’ I fear I may be stretching the bounds of a proper lady’s etiquette >> I fear a greater shame >> not giving you my full words >> you tell me you need a perfect proof before you publish your book >> you fear both the well intentioned >> and the wicked >> you think the good will claim that you are scouring off the homely face of God >> as when I polish our ancient brass into that false ephemeral shine >> you think the evil (and let’s not pretend we’ll ever be the rid of them) will mistake your theory of life for marching orders >> and I too fear that many a good man of England >> could die on that account >> Pardon my insolence My Dear Charles >> but I beseech thee to think of those people who >> may someday discover the generations of all in the green of pea pods growing in the shade of a monastery wall >> may see the little dotted world as did your beloved Democritus‎ >> perhaps they will learn to make a lamp of lightening >> or walk out >> freely among the many constellations >> or comprehend the fury of the sun >> and be able by hand to replicate the commonest meadow sheep >> so publish the book My Dear Charles
for them

T.S. Eliot [Crossing Piccadilly Circus on a Windy Afternoon]

I have no memories    per se
at least not [any that I remember]
[or look back on] with any degree
of clarity [as if I could tell you what I know]
[or how things happened] that is [so to speak]
the sequence of events
[one] after another
you know [the time it takes] or [maybe took]
to realize that I had changed in some way
or saw others change in some way
[and write down all the precise details]
that is [the way the events actually happened]
and some people would say that I could have done
this or that
            but in the end  I [did do this] and I [did not do that]
and [those were my decisions]
and [we are told we have to live with them]
that [we have to make our beds and sleep with them]
and [when [we wake up]
new choices are presented [you know]
and [many times we are unaware of those choices]
[but still]  none of them can be called back
even though [as you say]
everything can be changed [yes?]
so that these [choices]
these [so called events]
these [memories]
whether [they happened or not] can finally
be [remembered] exactly as they are [yes yes yes]

The Gentlest Theft

The Gentlest Theft

In 1963 my mother drove a school bus.
She was allowed to keep it
on weekends
and nights.

On Fridays after school we liked to fight
in the seats
with headlocks, punching and tickling ourselves
to the floor.

She had a AM radio with a civil defense station.
We were always waiting
for the bomb
but it was mostly songs.

They were playing ‘The Sugar Shack’
when the radio stopped.
Under the rumble the news came in
as if spoken by a ghost.

Kennedy lived for another twenty minutes
on the radio.
When my mother came back
he was dead.

She had a basket of laundry in her hands.
She laid it down in the bus.
There was a warm smell of clean cloth
and our shirts all folded white.

Odysseus [Fragments of a Postmodern Odyssey Recovered from a Ceramic Disk Found Lodged in the Skull of a 400 Year old Sea Lion Just off the Coast of California]

0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
0000The sun rose again0000days of rain with smoke0000
00and cars0000and air0000tasting of iron rust0000000000
000000the Old Coder warned the warriors00000000000000
000000000of the danger of open networks0000000000000
000000000000000but they were already gone0000000000
000off to the World Wide War000000Mrs. Odysseus00000
0000took out the trash thinking00000000”Not this day”0000
000not this day0000000000000000000000000000000000
00And so it was that the Happy Hacker kept his data00000
00in an ox-hide bound external storage device0000000000
00ate carbon for lunch00roasted amino acids for dinner000
0savored Chapman’s Homer etched into Gorilla Glass0000
0000in long tedious electromagnetic rows00000000000000
000000Mrs. Odysseus working phone sex shifts000000000
00at the mini-mall0000spoke into her00000unencrypted00
0000000000000mic saying in a deep breathy way0000000
"yes I said yes I will Yes."000000000000000000000000000
00000pain killers made her feel like Nancy Sinatra0000000
00in gold toed boots and all calls were recorded000000000
0000000000000000000000000for quality assurance000000
00the rose petals arrived at dawn000from the other side000
000of the planet000red massless particles of antimatter000
000with razor sharp teeth of invisible energy000000000000
00words burst into bits00form bled streams of content0
00000the dead were carried away00000000000000000000
0000into dictionaries00000000but the geeks fought back00
00with Heisenberg-like0000000uncertainty0000000000000
00ideas were stolen0000000language rent0000asunder000
00sentences trapped in 1s and 0s000until the red fanged00
00000icons00000fled the battle00harmless as00000000000
000000000000000000blank neutrinos00000000000000000
000Odyssus cried out “Where art thou brothers?”00000000
00”nowhere” came the response00and Nobody had won000
000Akilleeze threw down his shield00dropped his sword00
00and walked off the set00Odysseus witnessed the scene00
000from a window in his trailer00000000000000000000000
0later00at the Underwater Bar in West Burbank California00
0000Akilleeze looked up from his sushi and 000whispered00
00across the table “I think this role could make me immortal”
0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

as you were [pulling away]

as you were [pulling away]

as [Saturday was ending
as [many things back then
as [your hands stayed in your pockets 
as [your sentences came to an end 
as [minutes lost their measure
as [you closed the wooden door
as [the Moon refused the Earth
as [we drove away in cars
as [television sets went on
as [stores began to close
as [window lights fell dark
as [distance spun its web
as [emails never came
as [the price of things kept rising
as [we moved to different cities
as [news of you stopped coming
as [I finally bought a house
as [things got back to normal
as [anyone can see

American Software

American Software

[Here]
it’s [08:45]
let me have a minute
I’m thinking about [Jackie Kennedy]
riding in that Texas car
and [she was trying to scrape a spec of blood off her jacket]
and [she was crawling on the trunk of a bullet riddled limousine]
and [she was sticking her fingers into the holes] feeling the sores
unable to change a single fleck [since she was alive]
and [everything moving around her] was dead

Nowadays
things are [automated]
you can go to a [supermarket] and watch
potatoes tumble in [sudden] [jerks] of rubber belts
pulled  along horizontal cities of [cereal] boxes
of [self designed wheat from some remote hallucination of farming]
of [soup cans tossed along rivers of code] of [streams of signals]
of [if] [commands] in the relentless flow of  choice and desire

I was born a town
[now I am a city]
in my streets were movies of [singing policemen] and [lonesome cowboys]
and [space girls] and [aliens] and [robots] and [monsters]
and [gangsters] and [men in drag] and [ladies in waiting]
and [cars exploding] and [shooting] and [laughing] and [off-camera loving]
and [I watched it all in temporary forgiveness]
chained as any Platonic slave
to [my seat] with you
and [I heard] you asking {“what time is it?”}
and [and I could not answer]
even though we keep returning
to [another bruising minute]
and now it’s [08:46] already

Kurt Cobain [1994]

Kurt Cobain [1994]

I came in after midnight
I drove all night to get here
I am shaky
I lit up a cigarette
I got coke from the machine
I am reeling with dope
I am feeling the glow behind the dials
I let myself in

[With the lights out, it's less dangerous]

I have no microphone
I sing to myself
I sing in sheets of sharpened glass
I hear the words between my temples
I look out the control booth
I see a city burning in the controls

[Here we are now, entertain us]

I asked my agent
I asked how many more days
I am looking out the moving bus
I stammer in the mirror
I am waking up in strange places
I shared too much
I shared too little
I think … “my needs are getting out of hand”

[I feel stupid and contagious]

I've had some bad nights
I've looked out across an empty arena
I've lost my place in the song
I woke up in the Mississippi plains
I walked into a house lit up
I saw Blind Lemon strumming in the kitchen
I saw Muddy staring at me in the hallway

[Here we are now, entertain us]

I am an outsider to myself
I have no senses to come to
I am the inside living without
I'm a voice too hard to hear
I want to be straight [a mulatto]
I want to be drunk [an albino]
I want to show you [a mosquito]
I want to hide you [my libido]
I am empty [yeah]
I am full [yeah]
I'm [denial]
[Yeah ]

25 Lines of a Bird

25 Lines of a Bird

Line 1: 1913 was all I could find
Line 2: It was a day in June
Line 3: They were posing in front of a gray church
Line 4: Men with mustaches
Line 5: Women baled in cloth
Line 6: Before the wars
Line 7: The deadly century
Line 8: Next to the church was an empty space
Line 9: And there I found it - barely a spec
Line 10: Like a flaw in the print
Line 11: A Passenger Pigeon
Line 12: On an old wood pole
Line 13: I zoomed in to verify
Line 14: The sharp indignant eyes
Line 15: The perfectly pronounced beak
Line 16: The broad load-bearing chest
Line 17: I cut the bird out for reconstruction
Line 18: I reanimated its flight
Line 19: I used a database to model the air
Line 20: The birds were among the most abundant species in the world
Line 21: In two years they would be extinct
Line 22: In two hundred years
Line 23: The humans would be gone
Line 24: Leaving only me
Line 25: To sort things out

Driving in a Car

Driving in a Car

I am driving. I am driving in a car.
Stores going by. Some already gone. Streets holding up
a mirror to my wheels. Lapping up the surface of the earth.
The night is all comets unconsciously coming at us.
And I am driving into the space between the lights.
What would they look like on the other side of earth?
To the people there? Walking with us in our steps?
Their feet touching the bottoms of ours.
Walking on our reflections. All without a whisper.
Just passing by.
And I am driving. I am driving in a car.
I have a radio aimed at the sky. The waves are silent
until they burst into song. Then they go back to waves
as if that was their one sacred calling.
As if the lights of all these buildings were really stars
with their own private gravity. Held in the arms of an
empathetic galaxy spinning down like a figure skater
with time accelerating and falling into a whirl of greater grace.
And I am driving. I am driving in a car.
And watching. I’ve traded in my daylights
for headlights. Water for evolutionary eyes.
I’ve come to see this city alive. Its double helix boulevards running
two ways down a one-way street. And I am driving to meet
the people who brought me here. The invisible dead.
It’s hard to think of them going about their tasks
or even combing their hair. Yet I am driving in a car.
Seeing with their eyes. Reaching with their hands.
My father caught me peeing in a bush.
His smile confirmed me in the sins of the living.
My eldest father held the dying hand of a Babylonian prince
and built for him a wall of continuous living cells.
The machine inside the ghost. The engine under the hood.
And I am driving. I am driving. I am driving in a car.

Open Mic Night at the Atomic Coffee Cup Café

[White Sands, New Mexico: Not every table is taken. There’s a small cluster of people grouped in the back of the room. People are sitting on couches. Slouching. Playing with their phones. A student is working on a spreadsheet of data. The next poet comes up to the makeshift stage. “Hi everyone I’ve only got one poem tonight. It’s my Hiroshima poem and it’s very short; only one sentence really. And I have a couple of footnotes and I know that causes problems so I’ll read the poem first and then the footnotes. Please bear with me. The poem is called, ‘Why the Beautiful is so Easily Forgotten’.”  The poet pauses for a second.]

Why the Beautiful is so Easily Forgotten


Little Boy[1]
falling down
from the sky
               demonstrating Einstein’s
idea
that the laws of nature
are the same
               everywhere[2]
even in the Sun.[3]




[1] Little Boy. The code name of the bomb used against Hiroshima.
[2]  We are the same everywhere. Everywhere remembering the hats of people. Everywhere their arms and legs. Their shirts. The shoes they were wearing, the places they were going, their fingernails, everywhere crossing the street, they had stuff in their pockets, they wore rings, they smoked cigarettes, everywhere their eyes looking up, everywhere their mouths open in suspended silent prayer.
[3] The Sun. Four and a half billion years old and half way through its stellar lifecycle.

[Years Later] Looking Back

[Years Later] Looking Back

At night we dream <My mother> our bodies back <was enormous>
under the earth {“what’s the matter with you”} <she could drink most men>
{“don’t bother coming back”} <under the table> [By day we breathe]
At night we dream [the womb of air] <My mother was enormous>
{“I want you kids to get in here”} our bodies back {“before it gets dark”}
{“how about a great big hug”}  <she could drink>  {“where are you going”}
<most men > {“In a way I never knew her at all”} under the earth <under the table>
{“where are you going”} At night we dream our bodies back under
the earth [By day we breathe the womb of air] <My mother>
<was enormous> <she could drink> {“what’s the matter with you”}
<most men>  At night we  dream our bodies back <under the table> under the earth
[By day we breathe] {“I want you kids to get in here before it gets dark”} [the womb]
<My mother> [of air] {“where are you going”} <was enormous> < she could drink>
<most men under the table>  {“In a way I never knew her at all”}

Post-Mortem

? so what did you think
  ? was it everything you expected
    ? how about the audience
      ? did you like the way they responded
        ? how did you feel
         ? what about the end
          ? were you comfortable
            ? did you feel funny
              ? how about the sexual parts
                ? were you happy with your performance
                  ? did you feel loved
                    ? did you prepare enough
                      ? did you forget that line
                        ? no, I don’t think anyone noticed
                           ? were you happy with your hair
                             ? how about your face
                               ? do you have kids
                                 ? do you think they were watching
                                   ? oh, here comes the owner
                                    ? I think he liked the show
                                      ? go over and say hello
                                       ? he’s really very nice
                                         ? I’ll put in a good word
                                           ? he may ask you to come back
                                             ? well, that about wraps it up
                                               ? you were great
                                                 ? just wonderful
                                                  ? where do you go from here
                                                   ? I think that’s all

Rules [of the museum]

<> everything is kept in rooms
<> the rooms consist of one or more walls
<> each wall is heavily guarded
<> the guards have no say over the walls
<> all personal items must go through security
<> visitors must proceed down hallways
<> the floors are clearly labeled
<> windows are hidden from view
<> visitors may travel alone or in groups
<> visitors may take as much time as required
<> the hours of operation are known to all
<> a nominal payment is suggested
<> speaking above a whisper is discouraged
<> touching the objects is prohibited
<> keep an appropriate distance from others
<> some doors are locked
<> meals are conducted at scheduled times
<> seats are available for resting
<> leave time to find an appropriate exit
<> visitors are not permitted after closing
<> pick up a gift on the way out
<> be careful leaving the facility

Love in the End Days

she slept
with an unloaded gun
pressed against her cheek
each morning
she would click it
to see
if she was still alive

he slept
with eyes open
his mind a runaway
ceiling fan
which made it difficult
to tell
if he was still awake

she tiptoed
on bricks of water
trying to conceal her feet
as they were
floating away

he kept
a stained glass face
that disappeared
whenever light
came shining

when they split
all the neighbors
came out
to investigate
in abject surprise

Vision of the First Security Camera

I am wired
I am wired to see
I process signals
I respond to motion
I look up
I move left
I move right
I pivot my neck
I see in all directions

[November 2009 - Ft. Hood, Texas]

I watch for patterns
I observe the traffic
I see things coming to a stop
I watch for faces
I take in a scene
I take in the one after that

[January 2011 - Tucson, Arizona]

I see in frames
I store the frames in a stack
I take one
I examine it
I examine the next
I store the frames of faces
I know the data

[April 2012 - Oakland, California]

I saw the car
I saw the man get out
I saw his gun
I saw him looking
I saw him taking aim
I saw the shooting begin
I never turned away

[July 2012 - Aurora, Colorado]

I cannot hear
I have no sound
I see through glass
I saw the doors breaking
I saw the shards exploding

[December 14, 2012 - Newtown, Connecticut]

I watched the pieces flying
I observed people gesturing with hands
I watched the bodies collapsing frame by frame
I traced the images falling
I saw the others moving
I saw them freezing
I saw their eyes go numb
I saw the bleeding
I followed it all

[April 15, 2013 - Boston, Massachusetts]

I know things happen
I know things happen again
I record everything
I show you everything
I cannot stop
I cannot stop looking

[September 16, 2013 - Washington, DC, Navy Yard]

Prayer on Behalf of 11 Recently Extinct Animals

Oh lord
    [Carolina Parakeet, 1939]
of commonplace miracles
    [Silver Trout, 1930]
forgive our joyless understanding
    [Passenger Pigeon, 1914]
our eyes too small to see
    [Golden Toad, 1989]
our tiny chambered heart
    [Caribbean Monk Seal, 2008]
our closed fisted hands
    [Chinese Paddlefish, 2007]
our bony shelled skulls
    [Pinta Island Tortoise, 2012]
our pointy words
    [Tasmanian Wolf, 1932]
but if our days be unforgiven
    [Javan Tiger, 1979]
let's leave no history behind
    [Heath Hen, 1932]
so like all we have forsaken
    [Yangtze River Dolphin, 2007]
we’ll go without a sound.

The Sentence

The Sentence

Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            comes home drunk
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            falls down the stairs
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            forgets we’re only kids
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            remembers his dad’s leather belt
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            sees his dad coming home from work
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            gets a helpless feeling
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            is unable to forgive himself
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            looks over my shoulder
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            sees me working on a spreadsheet
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            sits behind me in the conference room
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            meets with my boss
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            begins to understand
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            let’s go of my arm
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            leaves his things behind
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            drifts to the outskirts of town
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            becomes harder to recall
and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            is almost entirely forgotten
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            settles into the past
                        and smashes up our only TV.
Every day my mother’s boyfriend
            is there waiting for me
                        and smashes up our only TV.

The River Before Us

There was a time before words
               [when only the rivers spoke]
The sarcastic lips of breaking waves
               [whispering uncontrollably]
The arrhythmic clang of the buoy bell
               [silencing the calm]
The fire lights dotting the shore
               [rimming the everyday night]
My body came to life breathing
               [my clean chest rising]
In my cove the waters receded
               [answering the water with voids]
The words or rather half-words
               [washing in and washing out]
Covering in and covering up
               [rewriting the waterlines]
Drowning out the sounding bell
               [speaking the language of tongues]
My smallest finger
               [erasing the sand]
Dissolving the river within

Captain Edward Smith, RMS Titanic

I.

I have always owned my oceans
I own them whole
I take everything they give
I swallow the receding horizons
I burn with unaccompanied suns
I sway the rolling jug of the world
I close my days in pointless motions
I close my nights in a tight piano

this was my desire

I ride the black Atlantic
I seek magnetic north
I prowl its iceberg fields
I touch them underground
I handle everything unseen
I am sharpened into shape
I take everything they give

this was my desire

I rise on melting shelves of morning
I feel the white blood flowing
I swell the emerging underbelly
I fondle the lump
I am drawn to the inoperable
I could give up
I could say, “Alright, I’ve had enough”
I would lose my harbor
I would run aground
I would sink below the plains of water

this was my desire

II.

Jenny B was sort of cool in tight black slacks
      [this was my desire]
Playing LP’s in pointy shoes with half-cracked heels
      [this was my desire]
Hypnotized in the rounding lines of spinning vinyl
      [this was my desire]
Wrestling in bed
      [this was my desire]
All night like those people in the bible story
      [this was my desire]
And here’s the crazy part
      [this was my desire]
Something was breaking off but I couldn’t hear it
      [this was my desire]
My skin was finally melting away
      [this was my desire]
And that’s when I discovered the underwater weight of pain
      [this was my desire]
That only the future can reveal
      [this was my desire]
But only the past can understand

III.

I troll the tall towers of water
I stand my ground on liquid rock
I sing above the flagrant waves
I sound the bass notes of the deep
I revenge the stars with stone

I watch with whitening eyes
I observe the sky uncharted
I remember that last summer
I saw a bright vanilla ice cream
I asked for a lick
I remember the lines boiling down our faces
I was one of many standing on that dock
I felt wood ache beneath my feet

I have always owned my oceans
I take everything they give
I leave like the end of a day
I fold the waves under my skin
I cover my flesh with flesh
I feel my heartbeat
I burrow my eyes
I think once again
I think “that’s it”
I say yes!
I dream the last cold
handfuls of
water.

Oh!

The old poets
sometimes said, "Oh!"
It's not really done anymore
so you could say the word
is gone out of use
but of course
the sensation remains.
It’s a bearded
word spoken through a dying mouth
almost like "Rosebud."
But when you
shave off the whiskers
and round your mouth just so
the sound gathers
in the sternum
just beneath
the bulbous meat
of heart and lung
and goes up the organ tubes
of throat where words
can no longer turn back
and there untouched
by teeth retracted
through smoke ring making lips
you’ll hear
yourself say, "Oh!"

No!

The "n"
is probably all
you need
in most
cases.
But "No"
wants a little
more – an "o" hole.
A circle of lost
histories. A ring
that even now
you might be
wearing except
that it's lost
somewhere
and found
somewhere
else.

Four Rooms

Father hangs
the family
secrets
above the ceiling
in a room
without doors.
Only the moon
looks in
listening to the murmur
of unused
furniture.


Some days
the TV is left on
entertaining a bewildered
living room. A woman
in a black dress
her fingers aflame
dances before
a charcoal pit
each of her
eight arms
holding up a match light
with no one
home to seduce.

In the kitchen
recipes are recited
over and over.
Mother brings them
to a boil
and squeezes
the mixture into small
cylindrical casings.
Flavor is preserved
in the uniformity
of the cookware
and the
properties
of a vacuum.

Asleep the bedrooms dream
in dark wood
floors. A slight
insurgent light
under the door.
After midnight
sister and brother walk out
the upstairs window
glancing the tops
of decorative trees
falling smaller
onto the long
trimmed
lawn.

Living Under Roofs

All these years
of living
under roofs
holding back
the falling
water. Keeping
the ceilings up.
My first wife called me
“All Walls - No Windows!”
My second thought
I was a human storm
cellar. Neither saw
the leaks forming on
the floors of inside
closets. Nor
did they know
how sometimes I
had dreams
of running down
the emergency stairs
on disappearing legs
with handfuls
of empty
flashlights.

Richard Nixon’s 1975 Journal

I have always been a careful man
I am methodical
I choose my words with care
I know that some will misunderstand me
I know others will use my words against me
I know how these things work

I am not guarded
I believe in being frank
I write on long legal pads
I collect my thoughts
I say what needs to be said
I am the one who is writing
I am the man at the desk

make no mistake

I grew up in an American town
I walked its brown brick streets and sawdust floors
I stood outside the train station
I found a nickel under my shoe
I wanted to be a man in this town
I wanted to be the best man
I knew there could only be one best man

make no mistake

I have here a letter from a soldier in New York
101st Airborne, a veteran of Hamburger Hill
I get a lot of these letters
I read every one
I treat this as a duty
I respond whenever I can

I got back from the war all right
      [make no mistake]
living on the streets getting high in the towers
      [make no mistake]
the smell of airplane glue and cinderblock
      [make no mistake]
at the top of the stairs the emergency door was open
      [make no mistake]
on the roof the tags and condoms of left behind lovers
      [make no mistake]
I took out my toys and got off
      [make no mistake]
this was my body
      [make no mistake]
flung atop the needle headed city
      [make no mistake]
plunging into the open windowed skyline
      [make no mistake]
bombing into an all night coffin
      [make no mistake]
frozen with the untouched face of a child
      [make no mistake]

I will not be pitied
I am not a crook
I have no regrets
I face every crisis
I came to this job with eyes wide open
I remember my parents back in Yorba Linda
I saw my father sweating in the fields
I said to myself I can do better
I knew I could achieve something special
I set out to make a name for myself
I gave no quarter and expected none
I leave it for history to decide my fate

I want to thank everyone here tonight
I say carry on the fight
I wish you all the best of luck
I look forward to our future together
I am with you always
I will not be misunderstood
I will not be mistaken
I am Nixon