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Most of the babies

May 3, 2015
The demons take most of the babies.IMG_4919 -1
In some places more
At some times less.
But they do take most of the babies.
Just never
All of them.

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I stepped aside

March 23, 2015

IMG_4917All through the forest
The cardinals sang, full throated,
Like horny young Italian boys
From their balconies in the pines.

I stepped aside as a woman in spandex
Came jogging down the path,
The tinny sound from her earbuds
Spilling out as she ran.

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Why You Should Be Afraid of Nobody

March 17, 2015


Nobody is everybody else
Other than you
Invisible to you.
Nobody just isn’t there.

Since the invisible looms
Far greater than what isn’t
Unless you’re exceptionally lucky
It’s nobody that will destroy you
With that nothing
You can’t see coming.

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The Preparation

February 20, 2015

IMG_1598Last night Amy Williams played the Cage Sonatas and Interludes from 1945 on a properly prepared 1898 Steinway piano. It was gorgeous.

“Ah!” said Williams before the concert as she fixed the screws and bolts between the strings. “I get to play this on a prepared piano, so it’ll sound the way it should. You can practice it on an unprepared piano, but this is such a radical piece when the piano is prepared.”

“It’s 70 years old” I said. “How can it be radical unless we’re living in a really reactionary period?”

Later that night I dreamt of a woman living in an ancient time; or not so ancient, perhaps the 16th century. It was her life’s work to learn, and to share with her people, somehow, a different way of hearing, a radical new way of listening to their world. In other words, she needed to modify the existing neural connections that were the common audio processing channels for the humans of her time, and to pass it on, somehow. To open new pathways in the brain for sound; it was probably dangerous work. I watched her in my dream. I have no doubt this woman actually existed.

After the concert as she was removing the extra hardware from the strings Amy said, seemingly astonished, “It felt so romantic. I don’t remember it ever seeming so romantic before.”

“Well it’s a beautiful piece” I said. “Why wouldn’t it feel romantic? That’s just what Cage meant when he said that sooner or later everything becomes melodic. It’s the 21st century; we know how to listen to this music.”

I think we have to stop calling things ‘avant-garde’ unless they really are. And hopefully we don’t think about it at all. Nothing from the 20th century is avant-garde. The hallmark of the avant-garde is that it is, at least initially, not necessarily incomprehensible, but unable to be processed through the normal neural connections. The avant-garde will always require new pathways, new junctions, wider and maybe deeper streams for the data channels. When those new channels are formed, events are experienced through the senses to the mind smoothly, without friction, discussion or thought. Once these new paths are established, the music is not avant-garde, it is simply music.

It is the 21st century. That ancient woman did her work. We know how to listen to this music.

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The Indistinguishable Everything

February 1, 2015

IMG_4062Ah, poor raccoon
What killed you?
Your corpse stretched out
On the bank of the drainage ditch.
It’s a mystery.

I come upon your funeral
Attended by a hundred flies
And two black vultures.
Now I’m talking to your imaginary self
As if you were my dead friend.

IMG_4057The cells that made you
Process back into the indistinguishable everything.
But you were quite distinguished for a while,
I might have taken your picture.

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You, On the other hand…

January 26, 2015

IMG_3155Poetry skates gracefully around
On the frozen surface
Of the deep lake
Of what is.

You, on the other hand
Are driving a truck down the highway.

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A story about the merlin.

January 26, 2015


I decided to carry the long heavy lens. Yesterday the beautiful merlin had returned to her distant perch on top of the snag tree near the duck pond. She’d been absent for nearly a week.

But in the recently cleared north field where the warblers usually work the conifers, it was strangely quiet and I wondered about the lack of small bird business there. Then I saw her, the merlin, in a low pine branch not more than 50 feet from me. The warblers knew she was there, that’s why they were elsewhere. I took a quick shot with the 200 millimeter in the overcast light and checked my exposure.

I watched her and she watched me as I began the slow and deliberate motions to unclip the longer lens and deploy the monopod. She was unconcerned; perhaps she’s gotten used to my green Loxahatchee hat and the strange mechanical camera from previous sightings. And then…

“How ya doin’?” boomed the doofus, approaching from behind me down the path at a pace too rapid to observe anything, which is typical for his kind.

“Shsssh!” I scolded.

“Oh, the birds” he said, glancing vaguely at the empty tree where the merlin once was.

“Crap” I said to his back as he blundered off down the trail.

My mind immediately turned to all the bloody events of mass murder down through history: the rampage of Genghis Kahn, the African Slave Trade, the Aboriginal Genocides, Crusaders and Conquistadors, the Jewish Holocaust and Khmer Rouge. None of these programs of population control had succeeded in preventing this doofus from emerging out of our gene pool.

A misty wind blew across the field of short palmettos. I wrapped my gear in a trash bag as the rain began to fall. On the other side of the field a small flock of warblers fluffed and bathed and drank from the pools of rainwater collecting in the bushes. Further down the path a fat raccoon waddled out of the scrub, looked at me, and disappeared back into the undergrowth. An egret and a woodstork fled at my slow approach above them as they fished in the drainage canal.

All the animals of the Earth are afraid of us, of course. We are the Sapiens, the ones who know evil. We have it in our hearts, and they know it.


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