1. I want to tell you everything, but I cannot.

For one, I do not know much.
I learn a little by listening
to songs I found one month ago.
Or by closing my eyes and gazing
at the patterns formed by the competition
of two sources of light. And I remain
on the lookout for these processes,
for a methodology to approach you,
to change, gently, intelligently.

For now, I remain a child,
anxious in the presence of any other,
frozen by any simple question.

2. What has white heron picked from rice paddy?

Does monk see me weep?
You can only see here, she explains,
but the explanation evolves, eventually here includes there,
what I took at first to be there, down in the gallery,
where foreground and background unify, and outside too,
where a grove of birch cradles my tired friend.

We can’t have everything, he explains,
but a birch grove, or an elevated walkway
amidst black bamboo, these are important.

Hmm… where did you come from?
You have no memories, no name, only artifacts
in the corners of your eyes—saffron glow,
ghost shadow—and many sounds—the cries of a tree
calculating its fall, the pleas of exclosed deer,
the sky filled with the dark of the moon and beats
of an invisible helicopter—doesn’t it seem a bit low?
Who are you to say that that bird is not the god of weather?
First hear and then enter its howl.
How gentle, how wild.

Now, suddenly, you reach a small culdesac,
which was not there before, and you pass a house abandoned
and garnished with pink and yellow flowers, and you approach
the shortened basketball hoop at the mouth of the street.
This is not where you came from, this is your home.

Lower your voice
Collect the leaves
Climb the tree
This is my choice, today

The ground is soft
The sky aloft
I’m buzzing between
Searching the feeling

Alive and dead
The woods survive and shed
And new shapes grow
Dear voice, be low

I was waving to you from where I always was,
the future, which does not exist, and I keep
looping in and out, trying to get a good take.

The moon is beautiful, on the impossible blue grain
of this evening, so I break out laughing, and I keep
a souvenir for the next loop, which could go any way.

That’s the hope, that the forbidden relaxes into itself,
and I keep becoming myself, time and time again,
and you’ll be anywhere, you’ll be everywhere.

I remember the revelatory feeling of remembering events that had, and have now again, slipped completely from memory. It’s difficult to distinguish either level of this recollection from dream, so I don’t, I follow something else, back to a museum of photography, where I linger in a room to enjoy the resonance of the work, the dimmed lights, the electronic music, and the low voices of a young, French couple.

Here, to illustrate, I would sample the voice of your aging mother, set to a contemporary beat, despite extreme difficulty in deciding on the meaning of contemporary (no earlier than 1850? that we are still alive?), and in spite of or inspired by my inability to understand a word of hers, I hope that her past, her dreams, her knowledge, her illusions would resonate with the times and comfort us.

This is for us; sadly, I cannot do anything for her; I do not & will not know either of you. It’s ok, a voice reports to me. It’s important to maintain a proper distance, and this is just the first instance of.

she was a teacher of mine, i enjoyed saying aloud,
which could be why i am walking through the halls
of the gallery, yet why will i later remember
the gallery’s rooms while revering the changing light?
at these times, i am thinking of the possibilities
of transcending and of forsaking everything, which we are
too small to collect, and carrying on collecting
things which emerge mysteriously from the past,
things swirling out from nothing, like a mist,
things masters and laborers stored carefully
and improvisationally in layers of paint.

here, finally, the subject of love arises,
and i feel a desire for a shift in style,
concrete, stark, and elegant,
but this will require patience, a great deal
more of courage and freedom, and now
i am dead tired, and almost home, and the heat
is out over the sea and the city, like a myth.

i awake among blue mornings,
the round calls of a suburban bird,
so many dogs, leashed and unleashed,
and memories, unleashed, one by one.
they become the cool air of the dream
where i meet old friends and fantasies,
which become the yellow afternoon.
with unbelievable care, they dig out
a knot i swallowed, back on my tongue
with a fresh fermented flavor, which,
i’m told, may affect the scent of my sweat.
what does any of this have to do with
the food that i eat, the materials
of my home, the air of this dream?
i don’t know, the ending was unclear,
i try to explain—to whom?—it depends
on the translation—of who? the priest?—
love is always failing and neverending.
don’t be afraid, it was great to see
your smiling face, congratulations, can i
hold you a little longer, some of me may stay
hidden, nestled in the branches of a redwood,
with its fine leaves and small cones,
and call out each morning and afternoon
as honestly as i possibly can.

my body could have been much bigger or much smaller,
but i am about the size of a string of a guitar,
plucked or caught by your finger, or the space between:
i try to settle in there.

i can remember sinking partially into a pillow
and catching glimpses of another world, other voices,
losing them on the sudden way up, and desiring.

unrelatedly, i dreamed that there was a third world,
neither the dream i was in, nor the reality i came from,
but a third one, i’m tempted to say between, but all i know
is that you had found a way there, and that from there
you had found me, i knew because i sensed you trying to reach
out to me despite your obvious absence.

and so i am getting less afraid of my death,
but perhaps no less of yours or anything else.

I am something spanning time.
Don’t you forget it!
Something I’ve forgotten returns.
How many Arpons have I forgotten?

My children are distracted geniuses.
Here is your watch, repaired.
I bind the truth around my wrist.
There is no train leaving the city.

Hi? What?
I know

It’s time to sleep.
It’s all finished or is it.
Who is the trickster?
Who is the one calling me?

i was once a child
because i love my parents

it was once summer
because i am eating an orange

i watch one movie after another
because i will be a filmmaker

i am a mathematician
because i once wanted to be one

was i ever once what i was?

i write one poem after another
because every orange is sour

a great force of evil descends
and i pet it nostalgically

i discover in this song
that i once loved someone

i must one day give up eating oranges
because there is constant loss

because there is constant loss
i am one poem after another

I feel that something strange could happen here.
I followed the signs to the cactus garden
and sat cross-legged on a bench,
my shoes and bags configured below.
There is not too much light here, just small lamps
placed at the base of the plants along the path.
Every so often, someone new enters the garden.
A male security guard. A female security guard.
A girl, who is with her mother, notices a lizard
on an abandoned cup near me, which I had not.
They circle the garden, then the mother asks me to take
their photo, gesturing repeatedly to raise the brightness
of the image on her phone as she hands it to me.
I try to frame them and the cacti appropriately.
Thank you. The cacti move in the wind. The lizard becomes two.
I’m waiting for something strange to happen
and I’m breathing, trying to become a part of the interim.
As I get up to leave, I turn and see the two guards,
their uniformed intimacy, the orange of their cigarettes.

He laughed at my misfortune.

At his own convenience, he left me alone.

He took much pleasure in the company and fantasy of other women, to the degradation of our own.

He suffered from a kind of laziness that prevented him from taking responsibility or the lead.

He did something good, too, something specific and even poetic, indeed it was this good thing, or perhaps it was more of an abstract trait, that came to my mind first, and led to the writing of this poem, but which departed before the writing commenced, and then did not return in a definite form by the time the writing ended.

I let the train move my body
in any fashion it chose.
For a few moments, it had me
sway in rhythm with the music
I was listening to; that opened
a space in me. Then it stilled
me; I was still in the space.
Then it took us forward, anew.

I don’t remember whether
the storm has passed
or whether it is still to come.
My concentration was briefly elsewhere,
so I may have missed it.
But now I have returned
to anticipating the weather
which may have passed.
Nope, here it is, right here in my body:
I know briefly what it is to teem
down, to howl and roar.
Nope, I don’t know a thing.

along the catwalk
the soft light
through the shoji

something ancient outside
makes itself known
in dark patterns

i press myself
into the paper
each little texture

is a prayer
i couldn’t say
but was given

Caught in the wheel
I traverse the spoke
One foot in front, around
Of another, and around
I shut my dizzy eyes
Look with a loose grip
To the face of a lion
Of a woman, a turning leaf
A balcony, a beach, a gate
The feline stare reforms
Each vivid & vague, blooming
Like an abstraction
Like any single thing
In the right…

Dear friend,

When they dare speak of you,
what violence!
I put on a cordial smile,
but surely my brows furrow
as I contort to counter.
And surely my retorts
embarass you, so inadequate
that you leave, I founder.

I was suprised to find you
again during a night walk.
I heard your ribbet
creep up beside me,
and later, I knelt down
and scooped you up
with two hands
for a quick look.
In these precious moments,
I’m trying not to squeeze:
you and I, not being concepts,
need to breathe.

Of course, this letter
is a failure in this regard,
but I won’t wrap you up in it;
it’s for my desk drawer
collection, which grows

with my love and admiration.

elder, i look to you
tenderly from within
from behind you as you
chat up the volunteer
(“what is this?”)
whom my real eyes are on and
(“it’s me and two donkeys.”)
now to whom i would tender
my heart only if i were
someone else.

In Palo Alto, in spring, some weeks
it’s summer, some winter, some spring.
I learned these words somewhere else.

Mostly it’s spring and summer. Here they give
their hands to each other: one will pull
and then the other, twirling around the room.

It’s hard not to get caught in their rhythmic fold:
everyone’s surfing out here. It’s easy to forget
something small, deep below the surface.

A dreadful interjection of winter isn’t what rouses
my sleeping soul. It’s stumbling across an artifact
of another human reaching.

Later this year, in the east, I’ll dance alone to keep warm.

Would you stop speaking to me in English?
I would prefer that you use another language,
one that I do not understand—perhaps yours?
—and synchronously display English subtitles.

The separation helps me, embarrassingly.
It keeps my mind from squashing
the wonderful moving shapes
that you speak.
It lets them in,
shiver with meaning.

It is also a little
excuse for me
to avert my eyes.

I am sorry.
I am working on the problem
of returning the favor.

When you awake, my room is ochre,
        adrift, I mistake your breath for autumn.

The seasons change like that,
        we make efforts to capture the moments.
The way one is with another,
        bitter and sweet, like a hammer meets a string.
And then departs, like the lift of the key.

I too will leave the scene, make way, wake me
        as you leave me.

In time, I am sheared to shards.
One foot in tomorrow and one remembers.
One eye on the ground and one wanders.
I have been mixed thoroughly and schmeared out

Over time, listening to you helps me.
The snap of your fingers.
The click of your shoes on pavement.
The weight of your winter breath.
You slip rhythm with personality
and entwine in a natural, miraculous manner
with this world of many instruments.

All clocks are musical.
I can locate the moving present by ear.

I understand, these days it seems unlucky to say it.
But let go, no one else is here to hear.
Select a strange dialect and whisper me your fear.
The whiskers in my ear rustle like the grass does.

her voice closed our eyes,
and when they opened,
there it all was, again
and brand new:
the rows of eucalyptus
like weathered bone
towering behind the stage;
the meadow we huddled in
before it—before her,
the sylph singing in the grove,
lightly pulling down
the skin on her face;
the sunlight turned grey
working its way through
the San Francisco sky,
then deep green through the glade;
the pair of older, moustached
Japanese men to my right,
reclined and pouring cups
of red wine for one another
to enjoy with slices of salami;
the toddler’s babble at my back…
it was all there at once,
the world that is,
a bright shock and then an embrace,
a clean plunge into cool water;
my eyes were open and i held my breath.

see the tide working
at the shelves of granite
off the shores of maine,
each wake caressing
the dark rock in eddies.

see the patterns of erosion
in the cliffside & at our feet,
the material segmenting like
data, like a thought transforming
into a sent message.

i wondered if that was you
biking along the shoulder,
the yellowgreen windbreaker
& blue shorts glowing
in the daylight, and briefly
my insides tensed:

you see, i fall in love with
ease, gentle acts
of consideration or camaraderie
—a message received transforming;
with these, you envelop
me, and i erode.

i’ve gotta keep
my eyes on the prize
my ears to the ground
my hands in—no, out
of hers, keep out of
sight, out of my mind
—no, my head, hmm…
i’m inclined to trust our
ears, to try to wait
quietly for—no, don’t
remove your headphones:
we can say more that way,
for now—for our voices,
our hips, our feet
to align.

“this is my elder brother,
he’s going to play piano in this”
poem and so i fell in love
on the spot, the spring rain
in the ground and the smell
of jasmine falling from the
trees, the peanut butter i
would lay out lie in yes
these are the objects of my
respite… just days ago
trudging through the snowfall
burning up in aspiration,
gods walking amongst humans
and so towards was better than
nothing, but i am simple,
i am nothing.

would you add a bit of water to me?
knead me, till i am smooth and pliable,
and allow me to rest, before you gently
sever me into pleasantly sized portions?

would you lay each of me upon the press?
between crackling parchment, between the
time-worn plates, and you’d give your weight
to the lever, and i’d give away my height.

would you heat cast iron beneath me?
so i could live a little, puff my chest
and improve my complexion, as you flip
and turn me, with care and abandon?

would you serve me warm? and hold me closer
than necessary, inhale the life you gave me?

i see light dancing on tree bark,
frantic, as if it does not know
what it is or where it should be,
and is celebrating so with all around.

my eye closes and later opens

to see a small animal’s organs
laid bare on the pavement, everything
perfectly intact, right where it should be
and not (no flesh to be found).

my heart opened and later closed

for maintenance: give me a moment
just to put things in their place.
and then? where is it that i should be?
i would accept the softest touch or sound.

proper nouns sung
with the ache of history, or
the undulating body
of a kitten pawing forward.
such things make me feel
my bones, and a humble
beauty in physicality.
as if lying in the dew
and half-light of early morning
before undertaking the work
of the mind, the gallant
defense of the intellect.
or after all that, when too
it is lovely to remember
that you and i are creatures,
searching, pawing,
as vulnerable as could be.

no, the hot light of day
obscures, exhausts, and
makes a liar out of me.
it’s the damp cover of
the cave—settling
the earth, the nerves—
that reveals

the trickle of the heart
and these threadbare chords
with which i am bound
and reconciled.

run your palms along
the ridged walls and curl
your fingers through the moss.
i am called to know this
and to feel this all, intimately.
yes, the sun gone down,
the stone cool against my naked back,

i want you to hear what i hear.
curl your fingers through my hair
and run your soles along the bed of the pool.
we could live here forever, and

i’ll see you in the morning.

Out on the porch–the pier,
the night is tinted indigo–violet
and the moon is looking radiant.
You can hear but not see
the fireworks. Instead,
with each explosion, the light
of one or two or three fireflies
among the trees–the reeds,
like sparks freed from smoldering logs,
or the glint of the flames in your love’s eyes,
or in your heart, as you remember
how you watched her watch fire.

When exactly did ivy begin crawling
up my distinguished stone skin? When, exactly,
did I decide my skin was best cloaked
in stone-grey? I swear that my skin once shined

like fresh copper—in 2002, maybe, a pool party
at my Greek friend George’s house thrown
because he was moving away, to Georgia, funnily
and sadly, though I didn’t know so then.

On Princeton’s campus is a copper statue
wearing the verdigris of historicity.
But look at the the plinth: the figure
was established in 1993, the patina painted,

artifice to be washed away in drops of sincerity.
A statue of reversed temporality, to one day shine alive.

She slips into and disappears behind
flesh, cloth, and metal,
rushing forever into the past.
The rats licking the tracks clean
while visions of the future rise,
desolate, eschatological,
infinitely bifurcating in space and time,
resonating cold up the spine, and
coalescing in premonitions of tears.
Your tired heart holds desperately on and
up by the collar, limbs flailing in the skyline,
for even amidst this gravity
there are weightless observers,
there are trains and friends to miss and catch,
there are stairs to climb, seas to sail,
the north star extinguished.