An ex-editor’s lament

"It's as if I was never really here: a shadow in
a haunted house. Do I reflect my new status in
the now o-so-mundane bio note as if a part of
me has actually died? 'Ex-editor, war wounded,
freshly deceased.' I wear my trousers creased,
not rolled. Vale, everyone: poets, proles untold.

Never bitter, more like a sack of rolled oats:
chafed, bruised, burnt, churned through & dry
as the western slopes and plains or a chianti.
I'm as dry as the bar half an hour after your
magazine launch has commenced: a plastic cup
containing someone's spit, half a profiterole.

Vale, all of you: poets, souls & Microsoft
Word as well, especially its tab function, yea.
Goodbye to hours of pointless formatting, days
spent waiting for a reply to an inquiry about
the kerning, or an ampersand. Do I dare delete
a space where a reader might pause? Do I what.

The precious preciousness of poets fighting
over prestige in a world where monkeys reign
& no-one gives a flying vale about villanelles.
My eyes roll backwards in my head at the idea
of pantoums; & limericks are pure, living hell.
Vale, all of you: meter, rhyme, fonts as well.

Though I would not even bother to contact me,
if I were you, spare a thought for what even
the smallest offering by way of appreciation
might do for my replacement's self-esteem (&
grant me a small indulgence before I expire:
stay lame. Because when you're gone, not one

minute will the rest of us spend divining the
meaning of your amateur hobbyist's musings on
your behalf, yea, here in the wonderful boredom
of the fold, where the same old sucks churn out
stuff to pollute & mould. So vale, y'all! Poets,
proles untold. Hope you die before it gets old."

Coaxing the heart to heal itself

just not possible. it’s not possible that
the heart could heal itself (within days

the way a novel does, metaphorically, or
the way a tree heals the wind as it sways

not likely. not in my lifetime, or yours
will we live to see the human heart sing

the way a pop star does having seen some
bright star warning her that everything

is going. to disappear some day, the way
the soundtrack does when you’re homesick

or the memory of some mean thing you did
slights her, alone on a couch, face slick

with new tears. they almost manage to heal
themselves (save for a salty memory trail

that scars her face so playfully, so sad
like her mother’s handwriting in the mail

that no one else can read. though it flows
for you like the long journey home or rain

like appointments you never meant to keep
the way a strange pulse rescues the pain

from itself. the way a child cries without
even knowing why that familiar face keeps

popping up, unannounced, the way fm radio
dive bombs the day, until a silence sweeps

back. although that’s also impossible, now
the heart can print itself in three ways:

look at it lying there still on the page,
soaking up all those big old cosmic rays!

(On the tomb of) Ephrem Tamiru

no he’s not dead yet (as if he ever could
pass on or away from this winged world

Ephrem Tamiru! tell us what you think re
Anchin Kalmeselesh or else just th sax

(sax slow and shark-like snarls through
an Asmara bar to hit Thomas Keneally

cold in the nose like a sweet tea might
were it to care for snark or saxophone

dreams thoughtful as hammond organ
licks kicking the Amharic dawn (was it

Amharic, Ephrem? what did yr words
mean on 1975 cassette tapes Ephrem

i feel kind of bad for the Blogger-files
downloading yr trax frantically to play

to get th info (titles translations set-list
Ephrem’s sound worlds unfurling slow

as Stevie Wonder’s imagination (you
were Ethiopia’s Stevie, always will be

mine what does it mean Atawquatim
the drums tell me what it all means

can’t go back now to my indie daze
got me Ephrem in th mound of love

in the mouth a super-Saharan man
pre-beat jazz combo smoking suits

preserved in shellac Youtube amber
i want to die in the arms of my lover

while she plays the sax on track six
whatever it’s called i guess you don’t

accept PayPal, Ephrem but i want to
breathe in all the radio transmissions

from Eritrea from the back of a stage
blasting Ephrem Tamiru onto the page


star swinging so slowly spookily
seven signs say someone's sleepy
saying so so softly somnambulent
shredding sorrow saxily swaying
snakes simmering so snowily sad
so smitten saying sutures shiny
someone's sax subtracts sneezes
singly singing sinew shutterbug
starsigns signs so slender star
so saccharine so slow so stunned
say something shattering slowly
sing something sad slowly small
season snowy sadly surrendering
somehow silly so silly sadness
so-so subterranean stones shock
sixteen sighs stories scarsigns

a little bird tells me

start: doo-wop is the new ter-weetie: sheet iron
rules the world of river commerce, still maniacs
wander the streets of wood mill towns aimlessly,
listening to portable transistors, waiting till
their batteries run down to nothing. sometimes,
i wonder what it's like in pittsburgh, or anywhere,
really, sited on the confluence of more than two
rivers ... & my mind wanders, like an aimless out-
of-work timber lugger, over prairies & old rails,
the background thick with kudzu, r.e.m., pylon -
you know, the old reconstruction drill. punch-on
pynchon's drunk on tough love, monkey bar plays,
obscure league ladders underlined in invisible
inks that radiate like metro lines or snakes out
along branches, lines, staccato rim shots pale
& golden in the light of a used-car dawn, or else
a book of poems set in edward hopper's universe:
a diner, an office in a small city, a small city,
an office, a small diner, part-time crime writer
moonlighting as a truck-stop harmonica-player or
was that a waif (faraway sounds of water falling
strafe the docks, the cobwebbed parking meters,
say 'nothing really matters', but what if it does