If I could just reach out and pluck
the jewelry of lights, emerald and ruby,
atop the Empire State Building –
kiss your hand and place them on your finger...

But tonight they shiver white.
I know that we too are the city
waving a handkerchief in surrender –
we all give, uncle.

Ambulances hot up the West side –
flashes rising red like mercury in a thermometer,
EMT’s listening to playlists in someone’s chest,
searching Spotify for melodic signs of life.

Sphygmomanometer, hematocrit, xylophone,
osmosis, music of the spheres in syllables
strapped to a gurney, bang bang tangs
of the street’s tuning forks vibrating against our skulls.

In darkness, we watch the film-flam
towers of chocolate, their veneer of sweetness
crumbling under its own weight,
summer will come soon and melt us all down.

Sitting next to you
the rushing solar system of the Roomba
circles in our ears.
Tell me what “vacuum” means to you.

And yet let us marvel at my lack of a manbun,
and all our peculiar luck, all
that is still pregnant and topsy-turvy
in the thrift store of our lives.

For Shay’s Word Garden

Me, Thee, ChatGPT

My wife inside the hospital of riddles, 
My wife with demolished codebooks.

My wife during the wedding cannons,
My wife since syntax of the peculiar.

My wife toward a coy ambulance,
My wife beside reluctant knockers.

My wife above the river of fog,
My wife beyond foreign spectacle.

My wife to translate heroes,
My wife before initial index.

Too much to fully narrate here, but “They,” “Them” have been working hard to strip AI of surprise and discomfort. Apparently the only acceptable output for the masses is predictability. After my first experiment a month or so ago, the poems generated by ChatGPT have become more and more bland. Of course, surprise and “the road not taken” are the beating heart of poetry. Many hours and attempts later, I seem to have found a crack in the Algo. The above is a request to write line completion based on André Breton’s surrealist poem “Free Union” which has lines starting with “My wife…” My editorial hand is in/on/within the above, but the majority of the language and imagery came directly from ChatGPT.

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM

Haibun – Trash Talk

No way my love you were asleep during that garbage truck catechism at three AM, counting the rosary of bins hitting the pavement, bags tossed long and high Hail Mary after Hail Mary, charming the rats with plague and kielbasa and wine and stale bread, Eucharist and crumbs of the True Cross, your delirium shouting hosannas in dialect of jesusfuckingchrist, your Passion erotic, skin electric and making a folly of sleep, OK, hey yeah, French kissing and hallucinating we are still those two kids in the apartment on 11th and College, hyenas braying all night from a frat party down the block, or is it now, in this moment, only a random dog out by the river barking the icicles off boats in the boatyard, nothing lazier than my lying here waiting for fruit to fall from sleep’s orchard, phantom apples and pears the playthings of dreams and seasons, I rise and shamble the waterfront.

Sleep loss vagabond –
Stalking trash cans until dawn
A wolf counting sheep

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM

Breakfast Butter Eyes

As to you, my obliviana: 
she who nods off
as I lift to my mouth a forkful of ob –

obtuse, obligato, obsess

The consumptive chewing sound of my mind,
cicada swarms stripping the dictionary
to a field of stubble and vowels

obstacle, oboe, oblast

Poems like a wallet of mad money, 
when words explode, you jump out of the cab
in front of the library lions 

obloquy, obi, obit

verses an ATM of rage –
no withdrawal limit 
on the dying of the light

obelisk, obol, obtrude

geysers & fire hydrants 
metaphors for anger,
drug dealers with confetti in their eyes

observe, obviate, obscure

Startled awake, you clear the dishes
gently take the phone from me before I start again –
Too late! Ah you, my inamorata

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM


Lo and I am like an armadillo, jolted and rolling into a protective tuck,
safeguarding scrolls of Tibetan mantras, chanting Avalokiteśvara – compassion –
as we are shot from the barrels of our phones, armored rounds
of blood-warm arms, legs, intestines, and organs
into the oncoming warships, worships

My skin knows only that tomorrow it will be stretched tight, immense
across the diamond vision screens of Times Square –
thin and translucent, burning pixels of news and all the colors of M&M’s
looking down where the naked cowboy sings in his rodeo boots,
no leather left on the sole, dubious, dub-stepped and pious

Please, mercy, I can't hear my own heart beat
over Kerouac jungle drums in the ChatGPT jukebox,
can't see my breath exhaled and frozen against the collapsed horizon
some genius left in shambles,
malfeasance and malediction

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM

Haibun – “Shimo no koe ~ First Frost”

Well, I’m not so sure that frosting the cake or anything else before you bake it is a good idea. Leave it to the Japanese: ‘Shimo no koe – First Frost!”, probably some kind of trick they know how to do – a Samurai baking thing. What if it is a Zen Koan: “What was your cake before it was baked?” asks the Zen Master. “First Frost!” replies the student. I don’t know, it is beyond my limited mind/body duality Western brain. If I tried to frost something first there would be nothing but goo.

Maple sugar drips
Baked long in Summer’s oven –
Cool Autumn Frosting



For dVerse Haibun Monday

Haibun – Waterways

The geese here on the Hudson have no intention of heading south for the winter. They are New Yorkers, with hipster lifestyles to maintain. No way are they giving up Sunday morning bagels, Thai take-out, and small batch artisanal truffle fries. And the kids? Like all good Millennials, the gosling mini-me’s are going to live at home with Mom and Dad until, well, whenever.

This week the weather began the turn from Summer to Fall, and the fair-weather, friends-of-a-feather tourists began their landings, take-offs, and flyovers. The river is a busy runway of watercraft and waterfowl.

Our dog raises her nose and sniffs crisply at the drop in humidity and temperature. Her daily confrontation with Mother Goose goes as usual: barking vs. hissing and nipping. Another stalemate in the city of fairy tales.

Tidal river shifts
Salty city’s evening lull –
Fresh uncertainty