Thanksgiving Guilt

The days — likely the months — leading up to Thanksgiving 2020 have left a hazy tarnish on my ability to be present for my family and friends.

It started, of course, with the economic uncertainty, political instability, and alienating nature of COVID-19. But it is bigger than that, more insidious, and ultimately more profound.

The rich got richer without doing much of anything, the poor kept fighting at great expense, and the world never stopped its dizzying spin. All this while 1.4 million people across the world died and left a dolorous wake in their leaving.

Please consider: The death of 1.4 million people is, by its very nature, an abstract and impenetrable number of individual lives gone forever and an exponential number of living grief.

Everyone who survives bears a scar. Every witness who remains watches from the silver shadows of their own guilt.

While I have much to be thankful for, I can’t stop making pictures that tell this terrible story writ large on quotidian society.

And I feel ashamed of its toothsome moral: There is a dark and resolute solace in this pathological estrangement from the brothers and sisters who survive here alongside me.

The Blue Cherry Blossoms on The Blue Tree

“the blue cherry blossoms / on the blue tree”

‘Cherry Blossoms at Evening’ by William Carlos Williams

In the prebirth of the evening
the blue cherry blossoms
on the blue tree
from this yellow, ended room—
press to the windows
inside shall be out
the clustered faces of the flowers
straining to look in


Source: Williams, William C. “Cherry Blossoms at Evening.” The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume II (1939-1962). Edited by A Walton Litz and Christopher J. MacGowan. New York: New Directions, 1991, p. 10.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Blue Cherry Blossoms on The Blue Tree.” Nov. 26, 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

Paterson is Yours

cBride Avenue, Paterson, NJ, April 2020
McBride Avenue, Paterson, NJ, April 2020

blood-bunny lays on false face
alone in encouraging corners

halogen burns —it is relevant to observe
spanish communists hidden in

bowling bags and electric
teeth gnawing at gates of dawn

soon we’ll all be frozen
belly of lake coronavirus

deep unremarkable remembrance of celebrity
superstition swirling around salon

breeze transfixing artificial and drunk
do i hear guitars preserving structures

of hierarchy and dominion? every authoritarian
framework has to prove it’s capable of suction

while we’re building our homes like brilliant immigrants
we sense somewhere tense pastel pulls of

new logic should be particular to development
instruments of spirit in-world — sing for poverty

then lie bricks and masks and final
immoderate stars

uh oh (kaboom)

Wikipedia Poem, No. 975

Hackensack, 2019
the gunpowder if it ever exists dries ready full-mouthed  and mush   his
mission soon ends with no criteria    sì, quella spiga—    what athletic  
power passed the hum of squirrely / selfish putsch  down—    if darkly uplift  
the self gets righteous    right to the bottom—    quick, much is transparent 
and not raised against  the real polemic fear yr  inbox   as good as yr last   
intesa inteso—    i feel hiss intestines / push out against—    the night 
sufficient    still    bent between hiss pinching stamen & inject the sniff pop of 
style kaboom

To Psychoanalysis

Wikipedia Poem, No. 938

after Kenneth Koch

to die.

what has me—anything
you gave some fifties clothing or my
head—great
troops
to
have
you—i could play
against blackholes like picasso—i
would
play again
like some converse days
fell through
and
become?
you look the
karen horney
kind
all—other something screaming sobbing you gave me
any possibility
no one covered
epochs—
gold of my
best thing you—i would solve
a paste or my leave
hay feelings
two years at whatever wanted life—my
fantastic advancing—
i recovered with light
with
light!
comedy!
tragedy! tragedy! tragedy! tragedy!
tragedy! tragedy! tragedy!

How to Build a Home

Wikipedia Poem, No. 408

wiki408-v2-sm

“I trust the sanity of my vessel; and / if it sinks, it may well be in answer” Frank O’Hara

and up    everything moving always up
include the stems and other woody matter    build trees
with composite of purified cellulose fiber    woody plants
a pneumatic nail is a flattener    pin tack brads cleats nails
lateral strength materials a pneumatic nail or clinched driver
variable to cold is possible    everything is heat as much as processes
for example from one's body    bodies    really    the bodies are possible
into other    the body types other    a pneumatic nail gun    or a small wish
systems    of energy    convection flowers    becauses of possibility existing
heat transfer    infinitesimal changes    intention    temperature such that change 
a small explosive charge then a sharp point    other-headed on one end and shear    
years form    include    the stems and up by the stems an abundant    carbon-neutral    
renewable        resource woody    mated matrix of 3.5 billion trees    it conveys material