From the drainboard, I collect discarded husks for the goddess of garlic peelings.

The saint of innumerable road construction obstacles is my patron for the day.

I do not think the child wished to be destined for sainthood. She walked days and miles with her sister on her back, despite the pebble in her shoe and the crick in her neck. They just wanted to go home.

So who is the saint of frustration, who adorns my heart with scabs peeled open again and again?

Under their rough bark, I see they have grown fruitful, almost competing with the stars. I can only do so much, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t care.

My neighbor offers me the saints of antidepressants and tranquilizers. They have names filled with Ls and Os. They drop into amber-colored vials like tiny porcelain buttons.

The interior votive light of the open-all-night shrine clicks and hums. It dispenses cold water and crushed or cubed ice.

I line up linoleum-cut rubber stamps on the windowsill: nautilus, sundial, chameleon. Reliquaries of my lost selves.

The saints of living by learning as you go would tell you there is no way to teach any of what you want to learn. They carry little musical instruments. They have always played by ear.


In response to failure, falling down, & the living hagiography.

Spread Mind


Manzotti is what they call a radical externalist: for him consciousness is not safely confined within a brain whose neurons select and store information received from a separate world, appropriating, segmenting, and manipulating various forms of input. Instead, he offers a model he calls Spread Mind: consciousness is a process shared between various otherwise distinct processes which, for convenience’s sake we have separated out and stabilized in the words subject and object. Language, or at least our modern language, thus encourages a false account of experience.


This entry is part 43 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012


Some days, you do not want
to wrestle with; you do not
want to try too hard—

you know that even an only
steady rain can beat back
the just-purpled heads of

lavandula: and so you set
the pot to shelter under the deck
awning until the mist has risen

from the trees. You wait until
the air has rinsed to clear,
remembering the Old French

lavandre, to wash, the Latin
lavare, also to wash, as you go in
to close your eyes in the bath.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


Would you like a hand to hold, said the woman I had just met, as we made our way into the surf. I had just mentioned I didn’t know how to swim, but wanted to wade. At our feet the water darkened then foamed. Coquina clams burrowed into the sand, and periwinkles, and sand hoppers. I shook my head and smiled. She strode out to deeper water, dove under; then floated on her back, as comfortable as someone in a hammock, feet pointed toward the horizon. The waves rolled in and out. The current pulled beneath, around my legs. The depth of letting go is always changing: that bit of sand erodes as soon as the heel touches down. Boys guided kites and ran toward the jetty. Farther away, row upon row of hotels and sunblocked tourists. Where we were, the gulls swooped lower, crowned the evening with their lonely sounding cries. We rolled up our towels and made our way back across the road as the sea began to stretch into vaster dark.


In response to small stone (95).

Ghazal of the Eternal Return

This entry is part 41 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012


What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.’ ~ Nietzsche, The Gay Science


Clamor, raucous clamor, of cicadas amid the trees— Who has not
heard those notes before? Uncanny, insistent, especially in return.

How would you feel if you had only one brief window to leave your
mark, to wed your fate, then fade? I’d do it over too, upon return.

And it’s all good, is what it seems to say: not just the joys but all wrong turns,
chances missed, errors, hurts. But to repeat them all, to have them all return?

Not merely bear the necessary, Nietzsche says: still less to conceal it.
Most days I try but fail to completely understand how fate is love, returned.

One summer we walked along the seawall at dusk. The waters roiled
with humid vapors. A cyclone cloud of gnats circled above, then returned.

The wings of insects shimmer, their bodies hard like minerals in the dusky
light. You can’t pick out only the heart of dark obsidian for return.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Camping in bear country

too much august not enough snow:

Our worries, we confided around the campfire, are long and keeping. No matter where we are, they stay with us. But when we camp, everything is so much bigger, we don’t think beyond the fire ring. Up here it was easy to fall silent. Sweet, really, to have an empty mind.

Human “thingliness”

The Myriad Things:

What I’ve always loved about the notion of the ten thousand things is that we ourselves are included in their number. Human beings, the Zhuangzi says, ‘are but one item’ amongst the countless things of the world. We are not separated out from the world. We are not a separate creation. I find this restoring of human existence to the thingness of things—this restitution of our status as things in the world, in the same way that cats and telephone poles and supernovae are things—a huge relief after centuries of philosophical labour that sought to demonstrate that we are set apart from other things.


This entry is part 18 of 29 in the series Conversari


Each finger burrows
into its own sleep.
One or two twitch but
the thumb lies still
as an anchor.
Come morning, those
that dreamed will blossom;
the others will leaf out.
And I who kept them warm
will rise like rain in
a tall tale & take root
in a cloud of your breath,
so soft, so sea-worthy.

In response to “Hands.”