Men in Hats Rise from the Ground

“Men in hats rise from the ground: / Bless these broken dolls and mend them.”

‘Five O’Clock’ by James Schuyler

Men disport themselves.
They help each other:
“Reach in my chest and massage my heart.
I am not dead.”

If clouds are God’s table linen,
what is rain?
He gave men towels to dry themselves.
He blessed their soap.

The city grew like the desert, by erosion
Men walk in it.
God is not so much dead as resting.
His seventh day has just begun.

Men step out of the wind.
They give money and necessaries.
They steal what belongs to them.
The eighth day, doors open on new sights.

Men in hats rise from the ground:
Bless these broken dolls and mend them.
What goes through cloth, walks and floats?
We rise lightly in you.


Source: Schuyler, James, James Meetze, and Simon Pettet. Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. Print, p. 179.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “Men in Hats Rise from the Ground” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

The Song of One Hundred Thousand Chemicals Approximating Sunshine

“This is the song of one hundred / Thousand chemicals approximating / Sunshine in my hair. My lover bit / My cheek this morning.”

‘This is the Song of One Hundred Thousand’ by Ariana Reines

This is the song of one hundred
Thousand chemicals approximating
Sunshine in my hair. My lover bit
My cheek this morning. I think I’ll
Fall from one trance into the next
Might fall asleep any minute
It gets tiring making yourself look
like you’re alive while you’re looking
Hard practicing turning
Away from the shit we’re in


Source: Reines, Ariana. A Sand Book. , 2019. Print, p. 157.
Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Song of One Hundred Thousand Chemicals Approximating Sunshine [Secaucus Junction].” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

On One Leg (House Beautiful)

The Lauder Family Cardiovascular Center, Mount Sinai, Nov. 14, 2020

prokofiev cobham & darnielle circle one’s
crown blue llama equilateral winged
what have we here
seen? a photo in a photo in a magazine
metaphor boils the pot
after a jot spills its ink hung
over an fim-92 stinger which
like i said before is no metaphor
at all al gore despondent speaking to late modal fords
don’t forget mass production the cruelest beard
a habitat in the atlantic city convention hall
and curly beautiful ambulances free myself
today and forever from human
immobility masked up in constant whirls
a plagiarizer a bad speller pfizer hopping
on one leg from star to star i swing red radio
to blue gamma alongside a humming horse’s mouth
a plagiarizer paul reiser needle in the
armed to the teeth breasts
elbows draped over that still missile botticelli
like a real goddess of love cuts my tongue
into 8 poppy flowers and marches south
to war for the winter who do you think you
are tarantula swagger carpet bagger
meowing hoarse chuff chuff chuffing at popular art
cart me ashore saint bart of the ozarks

200! (Dog Talk)


200! the old mutt says
hallelujah and forevermore
the rats of us
keep banging on that drum
if the sky has his way
if the shy sky has his way
frank o’hara blessed me
early in my career — he blurbed
my christening i’ll pray for you
says the well intentioned divorcee
really where would we be without soft
scrub the bathroom would be the barn
no other poet should mention prokofieff
you’re setting yourself up for failure
it’s like last tuesday when the martians arrived
and locked all the inmates in with the guards
and burnt the whole penal colony
for fuel — i know it’s cruel. you’re not
telling yourself anything you don’t know
he blurbed my christening he read radio
but spelled it the old russian way
i remember something now about my grandfather
but can’t find a reason to type it — i’m not
the showboat All week long I trudge fatiguingly
i couldn’t name a damn thing the inanity of it
would crush me like a slug beneath a heel
in hell he made me come close i’m in
no condition a man is a man is a man
we think we can do anything and then
anything comes face to face with self-recognition
and the whole national book awards go ka-boom
how do i get out of this
promise me you’ll find a scholarly way to shuffle off
how? i listened and i didn’t like what i heard
another bug in another field of heads unrecognizable
except for it turns around — means of rotation
unknown — and shouts backwards into his
spinal column: 200! bark bark rough rough etc etc
and out of the eye’s corner a dune buggy
accelerating cliche-first into the azzurri sunset

Good Blue Clay


Tanka, by Ono No Oyu

The city of Nara of good blue clay glows like a blooming flower, now at its prime


Source: Ono No Oyu. “Tanka.” From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, edited by Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, p. 43.

Photo: Church Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace


“Ono no Oyu (?-737) was a Japanese bureaucrat and a poet. He served under Ōtomo no Tabito during the Dazaifu administration. He rose to the rank of Assistant Governor-General (daini). Three of his tanka poems have been preserved in the Man’yōshū.” Wikipedia

An Urge to Flex Everything

“I seem to be very and/or, / with an urge to flex everything until it loses / what I secretly feel to be its false polarity.”

‘Solidus’ by Ron Padgett

Why am I making myself
do and be things that I don’t really want to?
Because I have an idea of what I should be doing and/or
I don’t have an idea of what I really want to be and/or do.
And/or both. I seem to be very and/or,
with an urge to flex everything until it loses
what I secretly feel to be its false polarity.
E.g., there is a such thing as good and
such a thing as evil, it’s just
that they aren’t opposites.
Am I a good person? Yes, after
a certain point, and no, after another.
Deep down I’m just down there, a kind of gurgling
black Jell-O that doesn’t have any idea
of what’s going on up here. Up here
I have on a baseball cap and have
a vague desire to fix the closet door.


Source: Padgett, Ron. Collected Poems. , 2013. Print, p. 503.

Photo: Main Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace

The Fiction of Time Destroyed

“the fiction of Time destroyed, / free from love, from me.”

‘Anticipation of Love’ by Jorge Luis Borges

Neither the intimacy of your look, your brow fair as a feast day,
nor the favor of your body, still mysterious, reserved, and childlike,
nor what comes to me of your life, settling in words or silence,
will be so mysterious a gift
as the sight of your sleep, enfolded
in the vigil of my arms.
Virgin again, miraculously, by the absolving power of sleep,
quiet and luminous like some happy thing recovered by memory,
you will give me that shore of your life that you yourself do not own.
Cast up into silence
I shall discern that ultimate beach of your being
and see you for the first time, perhaps,
as God must see you—
the fiction of Time destroyed,
free from love, from me.

trans. Robert Fitzgerald


Source: Borges, Jorge L, Willis Barnstone, and Alexander Coleman. Selected Poems. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1999. Print, p. 39.

Photo: 11 Church St., New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace

A Great First Line

“When you are all sinew, struggle and solitude, your young — being soft, plump, vulnerable — may remind you of prey.”

“Ducks, Newburyport” Lucy Ellmann

On the Roof of Wannsee Villa

Bloomfield, NJ. October 2020.

with no ill intention to the artist
what the fuck were you thinking
the mangy dog and the electro-
magnetic implant
fine! but
replacing the u with the v?
what a braggadocious pile of staten island’s finest
piled up to intellectual
affidavits — i once asked allen ginsberg
should i be scared when the polish
barrister holds a luger to my temple
and demands fried bananas he said
you’ll never move to krakow
don’t fret my pet i pianeti
della fortuna
no ill intention
to moloch or the electromagnetic swing
the dog abundant and widespread
in hungry this abandoned city in the days
since the airing of ruth bader ginsburg
coordinated inauthentic leaderless lurking
evil the writer goes down the one true rabbit hole
a meeting of senior government officials
four cholinergic cherubs armed with radio
poles lit upon the roof of the confident
wannsee manor unclear
if these birds are gripped fast to the edge
of indivisible azalea branches or synaptic clefts
between bit and byte cast totally aside
countervailing rights
— unclear unclear

‘Greenwich Avenue’ by James Schuyler

In the evening of a brightly
unsunny day to watch back-lighted
buildings through the slits
between vertical strips of blinds
and how red brick, brick painted
red, a flaky white, gray or
those of no color at all take
the light though it seems only
above and behind them so what
shows below has a slight evening
“the day—sobs—dies” sadness and
the sun marches on. It isn’t like that
on these buildings, the colors which
seem to melt, to bloom and go and
return do so in all reality. Go
out and on a cross street briefly
a last sidelong shine catches
the faces of brick and enshadows
the grout: which the eye sees only
as a wash of another diluted color
over the color it thinks it knows
is there. Most things, like the sky,
are always changing, always the same.
Clouds rift and a beam falls
into a cell where a future saint
sits scratching. Or a wintry
sun shows as a shallow pan of red
above the Potomac, below Mount Vernon,
and the doctor from Philadelphia
nods and speaks of further bleeding.

Source: Schuyler, James. “Greenwich Avenue.” Collected Poems. New York: Noonday Press, 1998, pp. 169-170.