Dale Jensen







Control Chair


rotate from chair     walk

               into the luminous world

               what i see is what i mean

               i have been riding here for centuries

the rocket engines had decelerated automatically

escape pods tight     self as an initiate

his heart hammered in also     he’d hit the atmosphere

this landing set to absorb the back of his mind

breathed deeply     in calm

               once     in the starless darkness of night

               a dream came to me and touched my hand

               i am you     it said     i am your child

               that you followed until your suppression of light

               fathered the shadow that you now remember being

the acceleration couch aimed his face to an infinity of stars

he fingered the survival mounds     then stroked     and their breath

he already knew because he knew the local air     its fullness

his limbs seemed to navigate themselves their momentum in his sight

blinking     difficult to move further     an unknown animal

               once i reached into the mirror and patted the animal on the other side

               its touch played like music across my fingers     i knew it would bite

               i have never seen anything more scary in my life

               i have been sitting in this control chair for centuries

               the lights of maybe imaginary stars passing my peripheral vision

               or maybe it’s only through imagination

               so violent the start of descent that i keep watching it

               that it sings calmly to me     whatever it is

               that its eyes focus something i’ve known all my life

               that i will pass it on to you seemingly tame and strangeless

               that somehow you     too     will recognize these skies




Fall Harmony


a grey fallen leaf

looking like a used condom

on the hard sidewalk




The Grasshopper and the Moon


i don’t need to see

what is there


i  need to see

what isn’t there


the coldness that opens the door

the warmth of the snowstorm

the blinding light of clouds

the comforting darkness of the sun


the frog has been at the bottom of the well for centuries

every hundred years the grasshopper visits him

the frog says     i don’t need to talk about philosophy

i don’t even have a knife or a plate

but i can see the moon from here

every hundred years    i can see the moon

it’s such a wonder     i need to look at it now

and besides     tomorrow morning you’ll hop out of here

all you real things     you just float away

and the moon     i know

i know that’s not real




Lightbulbs Are Delicious


whenever i write

it’s always in the darkest part of the house


               here     she said

               here are the molecules of light you left

               while your shoes were having dinner


demons congregate in the basement

they saw this happen in a horror movie

but this time someone left the light on

and they can’t see a goddamn thing


               lightbulbs are most delicious

               when you pour tarantulas over them

               then roll eggs around over concrete

               windows will gather around you to watch

               you can teach them songs about the great outdoors




Drawn From Photo (for Gerhard Richter)


i believe that the beating heart    the cold strokes defining the trees

the deer     its blur     the first sketched line

i could never see past the weathered brown planks

only wood     darkened     no sunlight


               i believe in god as a fog


to where your garden breathed i touched mystery

grass drawn against a white wall where

over the wide eyes’ spark     shut door the deer blur

motion seen through a window


               that a camera hand would be unstable


have past the cameras the sketchiness of birch trees

final as cut     the fence fallen down

over the sidewalk and at last the artist’s initials

harsh     abstract traffic     the two letters clear

stepping sketchily over leaves







At the Scales


osiris lay in all preadmission instructions

leave all jewelry torn into pieces


the next step may involve anubis crawled

across the desert care of your health card

where your heart washing is important

verify the site onto a scale with a feather

caring for you have washed your hands


is your heart too light?

is it too heavy?     anubis

and the doctors watch the electrocardiogram

carefully to see if you travel to the afterlife

or sit forever in unconsciousness

oblivion as another laboratory test

still-breathing fragments stuck there forever














Dale Jensen reads at the Berkeley Poetry Festival 2011 :







Dale Jensen was born in Oakland, California, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1971, and received a master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Toronto in 1973, with which he said goodbye to academia forever. In 1974, he embarked on a career with Social Security that lasted until 1999, when he took early retirement. He lives in Berkeley.

Dale’s poetry, which is heavily influenced by the Surrealists and such cut-up writers as William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, has appeared in such magazines, journals, and anthologies as Talisman, Lost and Found Times, Ur-Vox, Poetry East, Inkblot, Convolvulus, Dirigible, and many others. He published and edited the experimental poetry magazine Malthus from 1986 through 1989 and continues to occasionally publish books through Malthus Press. He also has published six books and three chapbooks of poetry: Thebes (1991), Bar Room Ballads (1992), The Troubles (1993), Twisted History (1999), Purgatorial (2004), Cyclone Fence (2007), Oedipus’ First Lover (2009),Auto Bio (2010), and Yew Nork (2014).

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