from keystone service letters

to a prof. of american romanticism on the effects
of reading dostoevsky at age 17

my friend sten is a poet—he is writing

new rules

he displays them—

in the vestibule for the weather: one is a

lopsided bird perpetually


perpetually sodden feathers.

another is the proud


wearing shiny copper buttons and denim

with rips and runs

in incremental spiral.

the newest rule is a fresh fat

halibut, he hands it to me and i hang it—

from a hook.

sarah’s favorite one

is the airplane (guidance, architecture):

hope of post-card writers who dream

awake of sleep

and hissing beaches.

the form for rules is that of logical, optical,

and western

skeletal imperative. a grenade

in the shape of a fishing rod. a big

coat. mount rainier is a skin and every sense of rule

has to hold its innards from

elevation-inspired decompression.

it is thus his

head i admire most—to move through a room or a meal

is to move at incredible speed—chased by wolves

or broken pieces of plate.

lately we instruct

each other

on how to have visions.

visions may be fists or snowy shoulders.

visions may be

history, visions may be

visitors. a visitor may be etched onto the old

hidden wallpaper—

in the scene of a swollen womb or swallowed

by fiercest throat or wind

before any poem or residence that is a poem—

but i forget i am elucidating rules.

my favorite, the bear scuttling

away dancing or galloping

(each mark on the page a bit of clawed mud)

her strong jaws delighting in sten’s

severed, congealing, and clearly speaking