Archive for the ‘The Lost World’ Category

Toward a New Drug

December 24, 2010

One shies away from foolish words like “geek”
and “nerd.” But think of the alternative,
a word for something Eisenhower warned
us of in 1961. “Elite.”
The waxing “technocrat,” authoritative.
Ike’s talking point, however badly formed,
was simply this: Society must keep
the modern scientist at some remove
from the complexities of truth, the thorn
and rose of our experience, and seek
to shine him on the nano-*explitive*
from which the pharmaceutical is born.
We need a drug. Not just another tweak,
another “me-too” statin or proactive
dosage aimed at helping us perform
in bed. Friends, the contemporary peak
in our regard for science is a shiv
we’ll fall upon one day. Or do we storm
the laboratory? Put the science freak
to work again? We’ll reinstate his native
state in service to mankind, reform
the so-called Age of Reason to its Greek
foundation, scorn the “nano” and relive
The Huge. Donnez-nous une drogue énorme!

Christmas Lecture,
Royal Society,


November Series

November 1, 2010

On Saturday, the search for bodies stopped

behind the smoking barricade of wooden
horses. Rudy Giuliani stood in

shit a little while. The Yankees dropped.

It felt like falling. And I felt like singing
Nessun Dorma, as the rank and file
locked arms and firefighters stormed the pile.
Nothing rose. A clock alarm kept ringing.

Happy Birthday Arthur Rimbaud

October 20, 2010

Painting by Frank Auerbach

The Basement Tapes

July 7, 2010

It’s the little fuck-ups that you come
to love. The evidence of cigarettes
and alcohol, the rattle in the drum,
and how a cardboard box of tape cassettes
presents the faded document of youth—
an open call already in the can
and cracking on a plastic wheel. The truth.
That sweet malfunction of the master plan.

Photo: “Larry and Ben” by T.R. Loyd

Managing Glass

December 28, 2009

The beat philosopher at the antique
emporium wraps all my crystal gifts
in paper towel, takes only cash, and smiles
and smiles as though he doesn’t hear a word
I say about my game of hide and seek
with breakables. My sense is that he drifts
away and back. He’s got a lot of miles
on his odometer, the cagey bird.

I say I need to keep them separated–
the tidy creamer/sugar bowl ensemble;
the narrow vase for long-stemmed yellow roses.
Diogenes, reflective, doesn’t care.
He tosses all into a desiccated
plastic shopping bag. My little gamble
and the guarantee will tinkle, one supposes,
chipping in the trunk of my Bel Air.

Marke that it doth Sucke too Much!

December 4, 2009

Be it Known that Broadside Four of The Flea, a journal compiled by Paul Stephens, formerly of Leeds and Harrogate, late of The Strand and presently engaged in sundry Enterprises in the Colonies, has been brought forthe. Therein, yours truly presenteth “Sticking Point.” But stop not until you Reade entries by Rose Kelleher, Timothy Murphy and other Actors exemplary of our Irish Problem.

Feeling a bit nostalgic…

July 20, 2009

On Bloomfield Avenue, Verona, NJ

July 10, 2009



July 10, 2009

I recognized the shuck in this kid’s act–=
I’d seen my share of carnival routines.
The way he blocked the catwalk through the tract
of towering powerlines and evergreens:
“Ya see up there?” He pointed to a wire
and to a blue gray dove perched all alone,
a glint of feathers in a line of fire.
He reached into his pocket for a stone.
And what a shot. A wrist-snap to a bird
that dropped between the cattails to the boards.
He fetched his prey, he held it, and I heard
a snap beneath his twisting hand. The cords
of heaven snapped as well. They cracked somehow.
I didn’t like this kid or hate him. Then or now.

Catastrophe of Sparrows

July 4, 2008

For Oran Ryan

I often share my morning meal with birds,
croissants beside a glittering marina
shadowed by the towers. In the words
of Francis, all our civilized patina
cracks before the cold magnificence
of sparrows–we exclude them from our love
at peril of the vilest recompense
of man as well as judgment from above.

It’s harder than a fist. Like Catholic school.
Behind all admonition lies the threat
of metal rulers and a golden rule–
the sorry knuckles bruised, the schoolboy debt
to Baby Jesus paid before the class.
“Exclude them from our love…” Another crumb,
another set of beady eyes. A crass
relationship, all parties cold and dumb.

Those crows contorted Francis’s ideal,
his simple observation of the world.
I know this, yet subconsciously I feel
that all the high-priced bread bits that I’ve hurled
to hoppers on the paving stones redound
to my salvation. Thus the hook is set
in childhood. Thus survival on the ground
is subjugated to a crude vignette

of earthly paradise or paradise
itself. A love ulterior, untrue.
If Francis had a look at this device
I’m sure he’d have no problem seeing through
its central mechanism–politics.
He’d go and dig himself another hole
beneath the shining city’s dirty bricks
and reevaluate the human soul

in light of the supreme triumvirate
of science, government, and industry
that’s taken hold of our novitiate.
Our life on Earth. The stinking ginkgo tree
disgorges yet another breakfast mate.
How strange this sparrow looks. How out of place
beside the Wintergarden’s sunlit gate
of glass, inside this crystal case,

this World Financial Center. Like a cold
medieval souvenir just barely able
to maintain its fearful balance, old
as Francis cowering below the table,
underneath the paving stones. He’s praying.
As am I, with little balls of bread,
Confused about some quid pro quo, delaying
My arrival in the glassworks overhead.