Sometimes it just comes down to practicing scales
If you want to be good at playing music
There’s a lot of considerations in life, there’s things to get mad at,
There’s the examined life, self-awareness,
Outgrowing the script childhood wrote for you
But that won’t make you good at playing music
Your scales will be effortless, unless you’re swimming in all that
Then, you won’t get through one without mistakes, or a song
Your mind won’t be there, and it isn’t considerations that you’re playing
There’s a time when you have to let go, or work through it to peace
What good are considerations, self-awareness, spiritual growth
If you’re not going to do something that contributes to culture?
Like the NFL player said about that body-builder on my construction site
He was afraid the heavy lifting on the job would ruin his work-out
“What‘s the point of having muscles if you’re not going to use them?”
Unless we’re talking about soloing, or composing, or writing a poem
Then you’ll want considerations, the examined life, spiritual growth
Which are to poesis as scales are to a musician
I would say a good song or poem sings out of the human condition
An audience won’t like a song or a poem that they can’t hear
That doesn’t bespeak the human condition,
So poetry isn’t self-reflexive language; it’s a style of saying something
Poetry that’s just playing games with language won’t go very far
Nor is music but an arrangement of scales, rules, and theory, though it is
Miles Davis said to forget all that after you’ve learned it
These days, I’m not composing, though I still write poems, solo
So I can’t abandon considerations altogether
I’ve slept for 27 years, awoke atrophied, I have much to recover
So tonight, and for the next good while It just comes down to practicing scales


Enumeration of my past, too much time spent in enumeration
Wondering when I ceased to live, yielding to my memories
Enumerating in my reflections accomplishments, the places I lived
Summing the life behind me fondly, calculus of accumulation
And, perhaps, a grim realization that I might have figured it all wrong
Those paragraphs written into my story as if the book were complete
One day I wondered what I was doing
The paragraphs I wrote, that made my story, what was I doing then
That I’m not doing now?  Why did I stop writing experiences
Cave and surrender to the belief that it’s all behind me
I don’t think that the COVID lockdown explains it all
Nor my preacher’s call to articulate ontic reflections
It is not even poetry’s genesis through immersion in words’ reflexivity
Scripting echoes of the muse’s enchantment
This pause from chasing living unaware, when I built those memories
It was fun, I was having fun not knowing I was writing the book of my life
That my life would pause and I would take to reading—fondly, indeed—
In the cessation of the writing process.  I realized, rather abruptly,
Like waking from sleep, I’m not done with the poesis of original text
No, I’m not done at all.  I don’t think it’s just structured relaunch
And now all restrictions are eased and I’m back at it
This re-engagement with life, this spirited recovery
Living unaware, writing again and it is no time to reflect,
I’m alive again pausing only to scrawl this note
The enumeration of which I defer to some distant calculus of memory
Mimesis of life should I turn again to find myself passively reading


I don’t want to write poetry today
It’s summer
We get only two months outdoors
Letters are for indoors
There will be plenty of time for poetry
Plenty of time for lamp-light reading,
Summer has my mind quiet
It’s all action in summer
And a mellowed-out placid in the heat
I don’t want to think
And I don’t want to write poetry when I’m not thinking
Winter is for thinking and writing and reading
We have so long winters


And what about content?—As when we talk

To each other and don’t deconstruct our meaning

We talk about things to each other

And don’t use artistic language


Time was words were about.  I’m not so sure

Poetry is invested in about

About anything

I certainly have other interests

Than only words in themselves

As when I talk to others and don’t use

Artistic words

I try to use the best words to

Express meaning

And when I do it well, there is no explaining

Come to think, I guess I’m done

Writing words about words anymore

I certainly have other interests

Like writing


Some Cranky Aphorisms

If you have something to say, why not say it clearly?

If you have nothing to say, why are you writing?

A sequence of words, no matter how arranged, doesn’t always justify itself.

Art isn’t the deconstruction of meaning.

Perhaps deconstruction should be applied to itself.


Your first written impulse isn’t always

The truth

And so revisions

Paring away distracting words

Imprecise words

Replacing the vague with


Sculpting truth

The Applicability of Experience

From science, I learned to sift through irrelevant information and find the essential fact.

This has helped me chair meetings.

From lectures in school, I learned to listen well.

This has helped me minister to my neighbour.

From writing term papers, I learned to express complex ideas simply.

This has helped me to talk.

From reading poetry, I learned to capture volumes in sentences.

This has helped me to write.

From adversity, I learned perseverance.

This has brought me accomplishments.

From broken dreams, I learned to bear pain.

This has taught me to love.