Poem #4: Sadly (Two Versions)

Sadly (1st rev.)

The most persistent memories are transcribed as numbers
strung about the peeling skin of a gray marble pendulum

She revels in the mail while it gets lost

Is it because they no longer care or they no longer try

There can still exist genuine sincerity

As I am condemned to the life of a heretic

There can be nothing evasive about stationary lips

But when life doesn’t move it can’t be seen

Unreasonable gestures

Become the sound of the sprinklers watering
the concrete walkway between our homes

Oceana and this anxious highway

Four people can have dinner but nothing is

Singular black spots

She exists under the waterfall

A stillness most potent

So stop writing her name

Her close attention

Modify your practice to include all sorts of disasters

Her willingness and desire to be interpolated

The difference between the colors green and orange

The windows facing the same direction

Weather directs similar suspensions until more
permanence is achieved

Familiar characters are never where you last left them

Reaching phrases

Diluting repetition severs the white ice

The urges we have

A strong jaw is penance for an ill-timed complaint


Stranger things have not happened

What conversation can hold a kiss

Walls will move only when they are not being watched

This absence spans the seasons

@NBF 3.9.2003


Osaka, 2003

Sadly (2rd rev.)

Dogged memories peel from
the skin of a pendulum

She revels in lost mail

While I am the heretic

Fixed lips beg capture

Still strings defiant


Sprinklers souse
cement between us

Anxious highways and

Four can dine but nothing is

Her silhouette splays
space below the water

A failing stasis stayed

Her close attention

Erase her name and
practice every disaster

She wills interpolation between
green and orange while
twin windows face off


Never where I last left them

Gripping dice

The urges we have

A strong jaw is my penance


Our conversation can hide
a kiss

While walls unwatched move

This absence spans the seasons

@NBF 3.3.2008


Santa Monica, 2008



These are both revisions of a poem I wrote in 2001 based on Lyn Hejinian’s poem Happily. The first is a cleaner version of my original effort, while the second is a complete re-imagining. There are things about the first revision that I prefer – I think it is friendlier and more accessible than the second. On the other hand, the second is far more efficient.

Apparently I am quite a fan of the word “splays.”


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