from ‘On Secrets’ by Mary Ruefle


“When you are walking down a city street and not paying much attention—perhaps you are downtrodden by some confusion—and come suddenly upon a rose bush blooming against a brick wall, you may be struck and awakened by the appearance of beauty. But the rose is not beautiful. You think the rose is beautiful and so you may also think, with sadness, that it will die. But the rose is not beauty. What beauty is is your ability to apprehend it. The ability to apprehend beauty is the human spirit and it is what all such moments are about, which is why such moments occur in places and at times that may strike another as unlikely or inconceivable, and it does not seem far-fetched to say that the larger the human spirit, the more it will apprehend beauty in increasingly unlikely and inconceivable situations, which is why there is such a great variety of art objects on earth. And there is something else we should say about the apprehension of beauty: it causes discomfort; and by discomfort I mean the state of being riled, which is a state of reverberation.

“What you carried inside you when you walked through the door was this ability. It is your ability to apprehend beauty, or the lack of it. It is your ability to listen. And change, or be changed. It has something to do with the secret of human existence, which is nowhere revealed, and nowhere concealed, and in front of which we remain, or become, infants.”



“my evil is removed/my sin is forgiven”


A pencil marked Post-it found in a lobby in Edison, N.J.

“one of the Seraphs eg
[angel] flew towards me in
his hands was a hot
coal he had taken from
the [altar] with tongs.
He touched my mouth
with it & said Look this
coal has touched your lips
your evil is removed
my evil is removed
my sin is forgiven”

Jelmin Caba”

Lenny Bruce Tattoo I, v6 [082520122014]

time fogs
a feather in her handwriting falls faintly
beneath the steam on the surface of the mirror

covalent glyphs dribble down my chin
the first time i hear her, the look in her eyes
sun swirling across pepperbright skin

“what do you mean he kissed a leper?
“what’s the point in that? you kiss them
“and they fall apart.”

you have to explain

something about sliding the thin cardboard lid off
remember very specifically there must be a comma
between thin, cardboard … my body’s heat printed onto
into the otherwise cold floor, the shoebox shaped like a shadow
but somehow subtly connected to the idea of a shadow
the shadow representing something hidden-aggressive
the next line emerges, rhymes mask with dagger
suggests things are not what they seem for reason
white door, gilded knob creaks opens stage right,
i don’t notice — too involved, self-involved — i must have noticed
eyes close, nose inhales deeply, points of the lips twist up
the excitement of being caught, the rush of causation

you have to explain what you find
you have to explain what you find
you have to explain what you find
you have to explain what you find