Late Work

An offering to other hands.

Over large canvasses, he painted whole body, whole space, his life. 

When his given form could no longer rise to meet the wall, his family offered theirs as new mediums. 

He used a laser pointer to guide their hands, the paint. Saying No, there, and Yes, like that. The work evolved, with them. 

I miss being able to do it myself, he said, but it’s about the art and you have to go where it takes you


Inspired by the life and work of of Frank Bowling.

Custodians in Transit

Group on the road.

Warm a face, toast a fool, repeat. 

One more time. 


Here is water. Drink. No, I mean it. We have plenty. 

Check the score. Later, stress how little it matters. 

Say, who cares about the score? Say, that isn’t what

this is about. Say we are getting close and here we go.

What time is it? How much. How long this is.

Here you go. Make it better. Do you need.

Do you need? Can I bring you. You should

come with. I can bring you. We have.

We have. We have. Take it, someone.

Joy of Missing Out

Instead of a poem, this thing.

What are you doing right now? we asked each other and then had to admit it was nothing in particular. With a caveat, of course, that something highly particular would come later––most likely, eventually. Which would have a feel of greatness, or something adjacent.

And so, a suggestion. Let’s go to the roof. That sounded good. We went as we were, thinking Air. Thinking Bird’s Eye View, and its attendant image-phrases: Sky and being Above It All

There’s a poem here somewhere, and maybe someday I will find it. Eventually. It doesn’t have to do with the sky, though, or the skyline I imagined, or some transcendent epiphany. 

It’s about the way that there were rooftops in every direction, all of them with people on them, standing in haphazard arrangements, in their ordinary clothes and various states of unkempt undress. How we were all there, missing something or someone––somehow, but we couldn’t say, so we made a vague music instead of stale clichés, commenting on the watercolor skyhow awesome, and wow, and how lame we felt repeating these expressions. And how we were unable to help ourselves, somehow. And how wonderful it was just doing that. Just wonderful.


My encounter with the phrase I borrow for the title (which, apparently, is used in various contexts with some frequency although it’s delightfully new to me as of this morning) comes from a Todd Bienvenu exhibit.

Final Assembly

Of rotating parts.

We were a constellation, each complicated by the gravity of the others and held in place by it. Individual desires, fears––whatever these might have been, if they ever had been––were opaque to us, except when they involved another. 

We had only our rituals, and by these choreographies each could lose it all again and find a state adjacent to what we thought people of another time might have called holy, might have called grace, or something like a visitation. 

Having arrived long after the date for believing that anyone might come to save us, long after whatever might have been offered at another time had surely been squandered beyond repair or recognition, we knew only to hold in this suspended state, for as long as possible, lighting the utter doom.

There was laughter in that space, never expected. And song. Yes, that too.


In solvent.

Across this wide, crenulated landscape, these internal contradictions pulse our continuance. 

Each fold a valley of storms, each groove a supernova. Light into mirror and back again––as it was once, body without organs, and will be. 

Watch how we shine in an absence of light. Would you dissect the sea for its parts? You may try, but none of us, separate from the rest, will retain an original form.

Underwater, our flying forms draped in starlight, we are watched equally by mothers and monsters, and lose our faces to know our substance.


Inspired by the work of Warren Neidich as well as Katherine Bradford.

The Long Look

Window, lens, hand, soul.

You appeared on a certain corner every evening with your camera, to enact a ministry of light. Recalling childhood, you arrived in the circle’s fullness each time. Former strangers worked with you. You created each image together. This is how you said, I know you

Every moment was a breath of spirit. In this world of surface illusion, you reached your illuminating hand, your goal always, touch me, touching you. 

By devotion to the details of flesh and fracture, shadow and shade, the drape of traffic lights over wet pavement, each frame became a reminder: look at us here, in the same image. 

Those birds are one creature. Those ants are one creature. Gathered on the corner in the glow of wet streetlights, one creature. And you took it all in, and said, we are here to work out our fear of being.


Inspired by the work and spirit of Khalik Allah, as generously shared in an interview with J. P. Sniadecki in BOMB.

From the Harp

A prayer to the wind.

I am, in the end––and each beginning––no more or less than a hollow vessel strung with sympathetic strings. If awareness is a matter of tuning, subject to interference, all that happens is a matter of sound, sounding. Each new life, each cataclysm is what vibrates through a given string, to wind through the echoic box and out again. Now I am symphony, now grass, now a spool of thread; now current, now whale, now cresting foam over wave. No part may translate itself.

Withdrawing even from myself, I am none of these parts, but all of them, and the handler breathing somewhere in the rupture between what is and what appears. In this state like dormancy, pregnant with possibility, I have never been an adequate expression, beyond this whispered invocation into wind, water, and this lover’s touch–– 

––calling, sound me, that I may remember. Heal my unbelief.


Adapted from An Object-Oriented Defense of Poetry in which philosopher Timothy Morton expands upon Percy Bysshe Shelley’s idea that all humans are like aeolian harps. 

Bee Dream

Against collapse.

A single wanderer creeps from a hollow to the wild purple bloom, the yellow cluster, to fall asleep, pollen-drunk in what I like to imagine as a kind of ecstasy. But I don’t know how long he has been at it, looking for the others, reading the air for the compass dance to bring him home. 

For the Time Being

The volume of shadows.

Two trees, one real enough to be seen, another seen well enough to last the length of a dream. But neither can ever become real. This from Hannah Arendt, and now the alarm can’t wake me.

The sun is visible one moment and then less so in another but indicates nothing of sorrow or regret. It offers shadow. We see by the shadows. We measure them. Once, someone considered their lengths, prone to stretch and collapse, and asked, what do they mean? A decision was made. These mean Time.

Numbers were assigned to the lengths, etcetera, etcetera–– but some of us here, so often delayed as measured against a standard pace, retain some skepticism about these systems. Of their presumed inviolability, a separate matter from their usefulness.

Trees cast long shadows and are associated with knowledge and wisdom, and yet standard practice rejects the idea of arboreal sentience. In a world bent on speed, stillness so often gets mistaken for stupidity.

But only in stillness do certain questions show up. What is the length of the water on a face, bearing witness to the beginning or the end of a life? And the volume of this shadow of the solitary pilgrim on the long road in late afternoon? 

I still don’t know. But speech is an act of making concessions. Consider the first lessons of any language not inherited. Standard practice begins with the basics for moving through a landscape: Hello. My name is. What time is it? It is an o’clock. How are you?

The last of these is the least amenable to explanatory language, wanting only touch and smell and song.


I came across Arendt’s words in an epigraph to Ann Lauterbach’s Spell. My italicized presentation in the opening lines is a paraphrase.

A video reading of this post appears here.

Signs of Life

What trembles.

Consider all this a precursor, the artist was saying, to work in another medium. I wanted to begin with some questions, she told us. I was talking to a friend, she said, as I am now––and the friend, these friends, had certain questions. These questions encouraged me, she told us. To keep looking, you know. With these hands. 

I was trying to make something, to see it. There is a way to thread a map of layered memories so that knots are formed at the points of collision. There is a way to see the knots as what hold the web together. 

Of course, they won’t hold still, so it is not clear yet, but I can see how the tendrils of these maps might thread together, suspended in ropy intricacy as though in branches above us. How we might assemble beneath the canopy, looking up. 

It would be so much that we would have no choice but to return to a preverbal state with sounds and textures and smells and a sense of being in one place expanding out and then back between carryings, and no one can ever describe what happens in this state, when the tremble of memory is soul.