This entry is part 21 of 34 in the series Small World


for the body’s instrument.
Its silence is another language.

Mountain peak.
It makes its own
wet weather.

& sensitive as a newborn
through old age.

Missed bit
of a continent submerged
in the unconscious.

The scuba diver
can’t speak.

Indicator Light

This entry is part 22 of 34 in the series Small World


Light-emitting diode,
baleful regardless of color,
our passport to a firefly future
of light without heat:
how it glows in the darkness,
like the wood-rot fungus known as foxfire.
I reach for it & startle
at the apparition of my finger—
clearly the finger of an alien
from some planet with a distant sun
& too many moons.

Salt Crystals

This entry is part 23 of 34 in the series Small World


In my last dream before waking, I was trying to explain why I felt that coherent ideologies, religions and philosophies do more harm than good: somehow, in trying to make the world make sense, they flatten out experience & dull the mind. It’s like salt, I said. Imagine if everything you ate had to be salty, to the point where you couldn’t taste anything else: no sweet, no sour, no bitter, no umami, no thousand subtle flavors.

Yet salt is so easy to worship, its crystals so translucent, such perfect little cubes. Ah, salt! I said, losing sight of my argument & waking up. When I used to watch sumo wrestling, my favorite part was the ritual tossing of salt, little guessing that this show of purification hid a culture of corruption. Meat that is already rotten can’t be cured.

Going to the shower, I thought of Grettir Asmundarson, the strongest man who ever lived in Iceland, done in by sorcery and a gangrenous infection that climbed from his foot to his intestines, decapitated by his enemies & his huge head stored overwinter in salt, the whole story captured in a saga’s unadorned prose. Perfect cubes, inviolable rooms.

The world does mostly taste of salt, because much of the world is ocean, even our bodies, I said to myself as I got dressed. Then I fixed some breakfast — two fried eggs — & found myself reaching first for the pepper.

Asterisk (videopoem)

This entry is part 24 of 34 in the series Small World


This may be too literal and/or droll a video for the poem, but I couldn’t resist. Rachel encouraged me to make a shot list this time, so I did. It looked like this:

  1. Location: yard / Shot description: asters / Framing: whatever looks good / Action: whatever happens / Actors: whatever flies past

I used the Extract effect in Adobe Premiere to make it look vaguely like an animation.

Fish Hook

This entry is part 25 of 34 in the series Small World


Shrink an arrow
bend it back upon itself

strip it of feathers
give it a lead sinker & a cork

& a small steel eye
to aid its introspection

let the quarry do
all the travelling

drawn by flash or flicker
lure or wriggling bait

let it exhaust itself against
this irrevocable stillness

Oak Apple Gall

This entry is part 26 of 34 in the series Small World


Incidental planet, Biblical
metonym for bitterness,
a green anti-fruit filled with air
in citrus-like sections
& harboring a larva at its core.
The oak’s response to a bit
of foreign matter is not
unlike the oyster’s: wall it off
inside a solid tear-drop.
Come fall, it turns red
but doesn’t rot, lapsing instead
into tough brown paper,
a manuscript in the round
that whelps a wasp.


This entry is part 27 of 34 in the series Small World


A god-shaped hole
filled with suffering.
Go ahead,
wear it around your neck
as if you’re entitled
to the gleam of others’ tears,
as if your own
microscopic irritations
could so entomb the light.
Tell yourself the oysters
sleep easy in their beds,
that no pea could keep
such plebians from
a sound sleep,
& that it’s absurd
to see a world of pain
in a grain of sand.

A Thumbnail Taxonomy of Rivets

This entry is part 28 of 34 in the series Small World


The rivet family is generally divided into six genuses: fully tubular, semi-tubular, self-piercing, split, tapped & compression rivets. Depending on their niche & matrix, they may be made up of copper, brass, aluminum, stainless steel or carbon steel, and their heads may be flat, oval-shaped, counter-sunk or trussed. Fully tubular rivets are mostly hollow, with a hole depth equal to or greater than 112 percent of the diameter of the body, while semi-tubular rivets, the most commonly encountered genus, have a hole depth less than 112 percent of the diameter of the body. It’s unclear, however, to what extent this classification reflects a meaningful cladistic distinction. Self-piercing rivets, despite their name, do not pierce themselves, but simply pierce sheet metal or aluminum by themselves, without needing to fit into pre-existing holes. Split rivets have evolved to inhabit soft materials—wood, light metals, leather & fibers—which they grip in two ways, the body piercing the material & the sharp prong ends folding back and biting in. Tapped rivets are found in materials too thin to accept their own tapping—a mutualistic arrangement. Compression or cutlery rivets, with their solid bodies & chamfered shanks, have adapted to the extreme environments found in the handles of knives.


This entry is part 29 of 34 in the series Small World


Keep it together, brother.
Don’t fret the empty head,
the female thread.
Don’t let them call you
a dumb thumbscrew.
Stand tough over your stuff
with your spatulate antlers,
your battle rattle
ready to let fly.
—Or is that, in fact, a pair
of tin ears?

Baby Carrots

This entry is part 30 of 34 in the series Small World


As if carrots were yeast cells,
reproducing through budding:
the baby an adorably rounded
chip off the old block.
This triumph of marketing
has in fact reversed a trend
toward shorter carrots, because
of course the long ones can yield
as many as four “babies” each.
But are they infantile enough
to compete with junk food?
One ad psychologist recommends
dusting them with powder —
not Johnson & Johnson but
something orange, like Cheetos.
Carrot breeders lament
that selecting for succulence
makes them brittle as glass.
They can crunch in the mouth
but they mustn’t shatter —
they’re not bombs.
And a faint trace of bitterness
must remain, or the consumer
no longer perceives them
as true carrots. Authenticity is key,
along with air-tight packaging.
I struggle to open a bag, & find
I’m all thumbs.

Sources: “Digging the baby carrot” and “Baby carrots take on junk food with hip marketing campaign.”